ISSUE NO. 3 // JUNE 2014
MINOR CHARACTERS MATT BARNUM • MISFICTION • CITIZEN • THE 1975 • NEON TREES & MORE
ABOUT US: Continuum is a monthly music and lifestyle magazine dedicated to featuring passionate bands and individuals in the music industry. Among copious other music publications, we strive to shed a new perspective upon the industry by emphasizing the passion behind artists, their creations, and those who work behind the scenes to make it all possible.
STAFF: editor-in-chief: clare kim managing editor: anam merchant public relations: sarah hoffman design: anam merchant and clare kim copy editors: lori gutman contributing photographers: anam merchant, avery fiftal, clare kim, emily tantuccio, lori gutman, pauline nguyen, sarah hoffman, and tyler oâ€™hanlon contributing writers: anita nham, christina curtin, clare kim, emily tantuccio, emma andrews, jade smith, morgan magid, nic kosirog-jones, sahira zulkifli, and tyler topping social media: chloe rose and emma andrews inside header by lori gutman
bad suns, characters, astr, Minorminor Characters, Matt Barnum, Minor Characters, Big Picture Media,
Epic Records, and Vagrant Records.
TOUR MANAGER / MERCH GUY:
matt barnum CAN YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF, AND TELL US WHAT YOUR MAIN JOBS/RESPONSIBILITIES ON AND OFF THE ROAD ARE? My name is Matt Barnum, but everyone just calls me Barnum. When I met you, I was out selling merch for the band Citizen. I’m in charge of making sure that the band always has enough shirts, records, etc. so that they won’t have any sizes sold out during the entire tour. I also have to keep track of what is sold and how much is made every night. Some venues require a cut of the merch sales so I have to show them a spreadsheet with exact, not falsified at all, numbers to pay the venue accurately. When I’m not out with Citizen, I am most likely out with my band, Homewrecker, playing guitar and doing vocals. Homewrecker is my main priority and the band I travel most with. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT TOURING WITH CITIZEN? I’ve only completed two tours with the guys, but being with them is always hilarious and fun. The first tour was a four-week run with Polar Bear Club, Diamond Youth, and Sainthood Reps. The second was with The Wonder Years, Fireworks, Real Friends, and Modern Baseball. Like when touring with any band, you meet new people almost every day, and every person I’ve met while with Citizen was awesome. We get to do a bunch of cool stuff in our free time, like free Go Kart and Laser Tag. It’s also hilarious because they always leave their guitar player, Ryland, behind at rest stops. He doesn’t like that. DOES IT EVER GET DIFFICULT TO TRAVEL WITH THE SAME GROUP OF PEOPLE FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME? Nah. I’ve been “touring” with bands since 2008, so it’s almost natural to me now. I’ve spent sixty days with the same four people, so it obviously has its annoying points. Still, at the end of the day, you realize that you’re out doing things most people wish they could do, and that makes the time worth it. WHAT IS A COMMON MISCONCEPTION ABOUT LIFE ON THE ROAD? There’s always the misconception from older people that we aren’t doing it right unless we’re selling out arenas and doing half time shows. In reality, it’s just four or five dudes that have to sometimes share a bed and spend half the day sweating in a van just to get out of the van and sweat some more during the show. After the show, you get back in the van to repeat and start over. It’s very exhausting, but you’re able to find time to do cool things once you get the swing of everything. Some people also think that you can’t bring pets with you on tour, but that’s not true. Eric, the bass player, always brings his two pet snakes, and he just keeps them in his pockets when we’re at the show so that they don’t hide in the van.
WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT HOME WHEN YOU’RE TOURING? Honestly, I just miss my two German Shepherds. Everyone else can just wait until I get home. HOW AND WHEN DID YOU START WORKING IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY? I started playing in my first band in 2005 and I’ve been in bands ever since. I started booking shows in 2008. Towards the end of 2010, a few friends and I came together to open a venue called West End in our town. In a very small town, it was really cool to get some of the bands that we did. Our one-year anniversary show in 2011 had an awesome lineup that included Mixtapes, Light Years, Pentimento, Citizen, and Tigers Jaw. More notable bands that played the space throughout the few years are Basement, Coke Bust, Ringworm, Such Gold, Harms Way, Backtrack, etc. West End is actually how I met the guys in Citizen. I didn’t really like them at first because part of their guarantee was to have a private room with at least seven mirrors in it. MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS ON TOUR? On the past Citizen tour with The Wonder Years, we had an off day and spent it in Banff, Canada. It was a small town surrounded by huge mountains. We met up with Fireworks and spent a few hours in a hot spring that was outdoors. We all wore some sick one piece bathing suits and looked great. After that, we took a gondola all the way to the top of one of the mountains and explored up there. This doesn’t sound as cool as it should, so “you had to have been there.” Another memorable moment was with my band. We did a European tour last fall. It was my first time overseas, so that was pretty cool. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF A FEW YEARS FROM NOW? I have no idea, haha. Hopefully not working a job I don’t like. I’d like to open up another venue in a better area. It just depends on where I end up moving to. The next several years will probably offer a lot of different paths to choose from in the music world, and that’s fine with me. interview and photo by clare kim
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WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION BEHIND STARTING MISFICTION? I’ve been involved with art and design for as long as I can remember, and running my own clothing line has always been one of my aspirations. Although I was nervous at first, I started Misfiction in 2012 with a little encouragement from my brother. He’s been helping me with the company since day one. WHAT SETS YOUR LINE APART FROM OTHER BRANDS? I think a lot of people start their brands for the money. Although it’s a job, making money is probably one of the last reasons behind starting the line. As cliché as it is, I’ve always viewed Misfiction as a way to reach out to a large amount of people and hopefully have a positive impact on them through the stuff that I design. At the end of the day, knowing that you may have helped someone keep a positive attitude with something as simple as a shirt is much more rewarding than any amount of money.
HOW HAS IT DEVELOPED SINCE ITS BEGINNING? Misfiction has developed tremendously since its inception, considering that I actually started the business painting customized shoes. It all started with a pair of shoes—inspired by Brand New album art—that I painted during the summer of 2012. Soon enough, a few of my friends started asking me to paint theirs, and it inspired me to take initiative and start a business. After completing orders from all over the U.S. and building a solid following, I decided to move on to apparel, which is what I had been striving for since the beginning. WHAT’S IN STORE FOR MISFICTION AND WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ULTIMATELY ACHIEVE WITH THE LINE? At this point, it’s hard to say exactly where the company is headed because I’m going off to college soon and I won’t be able to focus on everything at once. But after the inevitable short break, I definitely plan to pick up right where I left off. I want to continue building the company and designing new clothes. I think that my ultimate goal is to be able to positively affect people through the line. I make sure to use that as a foundation for the entire company.
CONNECT WITH MISFICTION: misfiction.com facebook.com/misfiction twitter.com/shopmisfiction instagram.com/shopmisfiction 6 // CONTINUUM MAGAZINE
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WHAT INCITED THE INCEPTION OF THE BAND BACK IN 2011? Prior to 2011, I was playing solo and it wasn’t going well. So instead of pursuing that, I wrote a collection of songs that I really wanted to get a band behind. I just wanted to find the right guys. I knew some musicians through the scene and we were all sort of disenfranchised with our current state of musical affairs: playing in bands going nowhere, playing in bands whose personalities didn’t match, etc. We were all ready to be in a real band. In early 2011, we got together in a basement on Wednesday nights and started to write and rehearse. I think we all just wanted to make a really good first EP. Oddly enough, none of the songs I initially wrote for the band even made it on. It took about seven months of playing before we actually began writing the EP, and we released it that fall. HOW IS YOUR DEBUT ALBUM, VOIR DIRE, COMING ALONG? WHAT DO YOU HAVE PLANNED FOR THE RELEASE? Voir Dire is coming along slowly but surely. It’s fully mixed and mastered, and the artwork is done. We’re ready to launch, but we’re in the process of exploring a release option via a source larger than the four of us. We don’t know what that looks like quite yet, as this is the first full-length and it can be a cumbersome excursion, but we’re asking our friends and people who helped make the record for some guidance. We’re shopping the album around to some record labels to see if there’s any possibility of releasing it through their channels. If that doesn’t happen, we’ll just release it ourselves, play some shows, and start writing another one. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THAT NAME FOR THE ALBUM? WHAT DOES IT MEAN? DOES IT TIE IN WITH ANY OF THE SONGS, OR DOES IT JUST DEFINE THE CONCEPT OF THE ALBUM AS A WHOLE? The name of the album is actually kind of clinical. It comes from the American legal system—it’s the process of questioning a potential jury for a trial so that the jury is one of unbiased, educated, and objective citizens. Voir dire is also, in a way, the oath that is taken by the jury “to see the truth.” Voir dire, in old French, literally translates to “to see truth.” I had jury duty one day about a year ago and I had to sit through this video where they explained the whole process of voir dire. I didn’t get picked. I was bummed because I really wanted to sit on a jury. But I got obsessed with the idea of voir dire and picking a group of people to tell the truth. It was such a heavy idea to me that I decided we should title our record after it. I
think there’s a lot of honesty on the album, good or bad, both in the music and the content. We tried to say things as truthfully as possible. We recorded live, for the most part, so what you hear is what you get. We didn’t want to say anything ‘normal’ either. I didn’t want to write about love or girls. I wanted to talk about heavy things. I wanted to make a folk album, content-wise. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE RECORDING PROCESS SO FAR? I think our favorite part of the recording process was actually recording it. We got to hole up in the woods of Wisconsin to make a record, and it was the rawest thing any of us have ever done. We made music at a studio we all revered. On top of that, I think our favorite part was getting to know and trust Beau Sorenson, the man who recorded us. We developed a real, collaborative relationship with him, and we can’t wait to record again.
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DO YOU THINK YOUR SOUND HAS EVOLVED SINCE THE 2011 RELEASE OF YOUR DEBUT SELF-TITLED EP? Our sound has developed, yes. We tried to keep things as simple as possible in the beginning, and I think we’re finally comfortable with easing our grip on simple pop tunes. I don’t think subject matter has changed much, but we’ve definitely hit a level of musical maturity that we didn’t have before. I think that having the ability to stretch out over thirteen songs was important. There’s a lot of haste that can occur when you make a four or five song EP. You are forced to make different, sometimes streamlined, musical decisions that you wouldn’t necessarily make if you had the space of a full-length record. WHAT OTHER ARTISTS DO YOU DERIVE INSPIRATION FROM, IF ANY? We all like a lot of artists. Luckily, they’re not all exactly the same. A few of us like this band, a few of us like that band, etc. For instance, we all got into Big Star at the same time. Adam and I were really into Talk Talk and Neutral Milk Hotel when we recorded the album, so there are some influences sprinkled around in there. Shelby draws a heck of a lot from Godspeed! You Black Emperor, to our delight. James has a rad tattoo of John Bonham on his arm. I think we wanted to make a record like all of our favorite records. BECAUSE CHICAGO HAS A RATHER PROGRESSIVE MUSIC SCENE, DO YOU THINK THE CITY HAS FOSTERED THE COLLECTIVE GROWTH OF THE BAND? I think the people of Chicago have fostered the band more than the city’s music scene has. Our friends and family have been overwhelmingly helpful to us, and Chicago kills it in patronage. So many people go to shows and support music here. The music scene can be rather insular, us included, and we’ve had trouble finding a place in the sonic sphere. Weirdly enough, a lot of our influence is imported from other American cities. Still, there are a lot of bands that we love here. Everyone works so hard. All of our friends are in fantastic bands and playing really great shows. I just think we all want Chicago to be more prominent on the musical map of the 21st century. There just needs to be a torchbearer, someone who can show the rest of the country that Chicago can hold up with the Brooklyns and LAs. ASIDE FROM THE DEBUT FULL-LENGTH ALBUM, WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM YOU GUYS IN THE UPCOMING YEAR? I hope you can expect us to be playing shows outside of Chicago. Maybe a tour? I know we’re going to make some more videos. We’ll have a record release show for Voir Dire. Come join us! 15 // CONTINUUM MAGAZINE
interview by clare kim // photos by anam merchant
CONNECT WITH MINOR CHARACTERS:
minorcharactersmusic.com facebook.com/minorcharacters twitter.com/minorcharactrs
PHOTO BY LORI GUTMAN
PHOTOS BY LORI GUTMAN
PHOTO BY LORI GUTMAN
PHOTOS BY ANAM MERCHANT
PHOTOS BY ANAM MERCHANT
MAJOR LEAGUE PHOTO BY EMILY TANTUCCIO
PHOTO BY ANAM MERCHANT
CITIZEN PHOTOS BY EMILY TANTUCCIO
PHOTOS BY CLARE KIM
PHOTOS BY SARAH HOFFMAN
the bad & the better artist: the ready set release date: may 27, 2014 review by morgan magid Ah, pop music. Tween girls love it. Punks hate it. But most of us remain ambivalent to the generally upbeat genre that is supposed to make people tap their feet and get choruses stuck in their head for weeks. The flipside to this style of music is that when it’s not well done, it’s atrocious. Not to say that there hasn’t been good pop music made with alternative influences— The Summer Set and early Forever The Sickest Kids are proof of that. The Ready Set, a one-man show consisting of Jordan Witzigreuter, is mostly known for its popular single, “Love Like Woe.” Four years after the chart-climbing track gained momentum (it reached platinum status and topped off at number 15 on Billboard’s Top 40 chart), the band released its third full-length album, The Bad & The Better. Unfortunately, there is significantly more bad than better. The lyrics on TBATB are fairly standard for this genre of lightly emo-infused pop. “Carry Me Home” discusses uncomfortably aggressive missteps with an ex. “Freakin’ Me Out” tells the delightfully awkward tale of falling for someone. “Castaway,” featuring rapper Jake Miller, is much more sincere than an initial listen would suggest. On the track, Witzigreuter sings, “Do you feel you’re not enough / And impossible to love / Or like if you spoke your mind / All your words they would be too much?” for an honest attempt at sentimentality. While Witzigreuter is no Brian Dales, let alone someone like Max Bemis, we have certainly seen more unattractive songwriting. Ultimately, the downfall for The Ready Set is its repetitive musicianship. The over-produced synthpop layered around simple lyricism becomes trite very quickly if the listener isn’t looking to get “pumped up” for a night out. The copious amount of auto-tune creates points on the album where it is nearly unbearable to listen to, and the lead single, “Higher,” is the worst example of this. The track begins with a promising drum-driven tempo, but its vocals make it awful. As I progressed through the album, I found myself wishing I knew what Witzigreuter’s voice actually sounded like. I understand that pop has more creative licensing when it comes to the usage of auto-tune, but there comes a point when producer Ian Kirkpatrick should’ve taken a step back. The high point of the album, “Give Me Your Hand (Best Song Ever)” is a very specific brand of pop. The dance floor-ready track blends a lightning quick beat and rhythmic clapping into an eerie parallel of the One Direction hit “Best Song Ever.” Its fast pace and silly lyrics call for fist pumping and awkward stuck-at-a-red-light dance moves with your friends. This is the song that you probably won’t own up to listening to because you’re too embarrassed to admit that you can easily recite the chorus from memory. The Bad & The Better won’t be making any Album of the Year lists. Still, if you’re looking for peppy, basic pop tunes, look no further than The Ready Set’s third effort.
pop psychology artist: neon trees release date: april 22, 2014 review by sahira zulkifli Somewhere between Neon Trees’ The Picture Show and Pop Psychology, frontman Tyler Glenn came out publicly, which is never an easy thing to do. It’s no surprise, then, that the band’s latest album is more honest and mature, with Glenn pouring his heart out into every song. But of course, Neon Trees wouldn’t be Neon Trees if they didn’t make even their saddest songs catchy and dance-worthy. And that’s exactly what happened with Pop Psychology. Despite the serious topics, it’s still a fun record. The album opens with “Love in the 21st Century,” which sets the overall theme of the album to be postmodern romance. It is downright infectious, with lyrics that any teenager (or adult, really) in a relationship can relate to: ‘I miss the days being kids simply holding hands / I’m sick of wondering if you would ever call me back / I check my four different accounts just to end up mad.’ “Text Me in the Morning,” “Sleeping with a Friend,” and “Teenagers in Love” continue with the upbeat nature of the album, showing its consistency and its ability to not run out of steam. However, by “I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends),” the songs start to sound a little too similar to one another. Thankfully, to break the monotone, “Unavoidable” features drummer Elaine Bradley’s vocals in a heartfelt duet. The lyrics are simple and almost cheesy, but the chorus is the type to get stuck in your head: ‘(It’s unavoidable) you are a magnet / (Unavoidable) I am metallic / So do what you do to me.’ “Foolish Behaviour” mirrors the 80s disco-and synth-laced music of “Sleeping with a Friend,” but, unfortunately, it packs less punch. Pop Psychology turns more personal towards the end, and you can hear Glenn using the songs as an outlet for his struggles. “Voices in the Hall” is another song that keeps the album from being predictable—this stripped down, minimalist track is about a love that ended too quickly but still echoes in his mind. “Living in Another World” shows listeners some insight into how Glenn, a born-and-raised Mormon, felt while having to hide his sexuality because of the Mormon view on homosexuality. It is dark, haunting, and definitely heart wrenching, but it leads into a more positive closing track. “First Things First,” which speaks of self-love and learning to accept oneself, is a motivating end to the album: ‘It began when I learned how to face myself / And I’m still deciding if I’m something else / I’m a million different people all the time / But there’s only one of me to get it right.’ Unfortunately, the band barely strays out of its comfort zone musically. After a few listens, the melodies seem to mesh together and sound indistinguishable from one another. Aside from “Unavoidable,” they do not create any memorable songs that will truly last. Even so, Pop Psychology will still please fans of pop music. Despite coming from a dark place, it still manages to be as colorful as its album artwork, and this record is both catchy and heartfelt.
Foxes’ debut album Glorious, which was released on May 12th, had quite a lead up for a relatively unknown singer out of England. Not only was her Warriors EP well-received after its 2012 release, but she was also featured on Fall Out Boy’s “Just One Yesterday” and Zedd’s “Clarity,” both of which received mostly positive attention. Glorious is chock full of an excellent selection of songs showcasing just what a power Foxes is setting herself up to become. With ethereal vocals and some of the most thought provoking lyrics I’ve seen out of such a new talent, she is sure to continue surprising us for years to come.
glorious artist: foxes
release date: may 12, 2014 review by christina curtin
Foxes pulled out all the stops with this album in order to show the public that she’s not just another lovesick female crooner. This record is lyrically strong throughout, but her talents really shine through in “Holding onto Heaven,” “Shaking Heads” and “Night Owls Early Birds,” the latter of which is a sassy dance tune sure to get your toes tapping. This fabulously synth-pop dance record is a musthave to blast from your stereos this summer. Foxes will be on the road this fall opening for Pharrell Williams on his Dear Girl tour, so be sure to get tickets before they’re sold out! To numerous fans’ dismay, Say Anything’s last few albums lacked the quality of the talent displayed in their earlier works. Luckily, Bemis and the rest of the band confronted the issue on their newest record, Hebrews, by producing their most unique album to date. Each song on the album is eclectic and electric and, and there is always something new to hear as you continue listening. Throughout, you can witness Bemis’ incredible songwriting skills, as he intermixes witty logic with comical lyrics in songs like “Judas Decapitation” and “My Greatest Fear Is Splendid.” His words allow listeners to get an honest, raw look through his perspective on life, fatherhood, and his fears regarding both.
artist: say anything release date: june 10, 2014 review by anita nham
Overall, Hebrews is another collection of emotionally driven rock music. It is similar to ...Is A Real Boy only due to the angsty lyrics; musically, this release is completely different from anything we have heard from Say Anything in the past. Instead of guitar tracks, the album only uses live strings. It also features sixteen guest vocalists, including Sherri DuPree Bemis, Jeremy Bolm, and Tom DeLonge, who sing alongside Max Bemis to give the tracks more depth.
After listening to this album, I believe that Say Anything was trying too hard to be different and to step out of their boundaries in the past. Hebrews, however, works perfectly in their favor. The album is truly an original, authentic piece of music and is one you cannot miss. The guys in Say Anything have truly outdone themselves.
Last month, indie rock band The Black Keys released their eighth full-length studio album, Turn Blue. As we’ve seen over the years— especially from their 2010 release, Brothers, and their 2011 release, El Camino—the Black Keys have found their niche in bluesy indie rock. As such, they have consistently submerged themselves in their formulaic sound, and found a way to successfully translate it to the mainstream audience with relative success. With the release of El Camino, the composition of Black Keys’ songs seemed to become more prescribed. Create a bass driven foundation, add in a synthy guitar riff, layer on some bluesy crooning by frontman Dan Auerbach, and you’ve got yourself an effortlessly recognizable song for widespread radio play.
artist: the black keys release date: may 12th, 2014
Though the band didn’t stray too far from their usual methods, Turn Blue manages to present a new side of The Black Keys, a side influenced by the groovy stoner rock of the seventies. Thematically, the overall sound of the album is more hypnotically mellow than past releases. The vague, swirling music aligns impeccably with the melancholy lyrical content of Turn Blue.
Whereas old hits like “Tighten Up” boasted half-sleazy content along the lines of “Lovin’ you, baby child/Tighten up on your reigns/You’re runnin’ wild,” the review by new title track “Turn Blue” delves into deeper thought. On it, Auerbach croons, emma andrews “In the dead of the night I start to lose control/But I still carry the weight like I’ve always done before/It gets so heavy at times but what more can I do/I got to stay on track just like pops told me to.” The shift in sound, as well as the more mellow lyrical content, can probably be attributed to Auerbach’s personal struggles with divorce and depression during the album’s formation. Other highlights from the album include the seven-minute long opener, “Weight of Love,” as well as the uncharacteristically straightforward rock anthem, “Gotta Get Away.” Overall, it’s nice to see some change from The Black Keys, and I believe that their risk was well rewarded. Turn Blue demonstrates that stepping even just a foot outside of the conventional comfort zone that some popular, longstanding bands fall into allows for the creation of works that will be more appreciated than the same recycled tunes.
Cover artist: Minor Characters. Featuring Matt Barnum, Misfiction, Citizen, The 1975, Neon Trees, and more.