ISSUE FOURTEEN | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014
SOUNDS | VISIONS | WORDS | VOICES
THE PIXELATED PORTRAIT OF COURAGE
P E U R | E L E C T R O S E X U A L | IN F O R M AT I O N S O CIE T Y D O T H A C K E R | 2 1S T P R E CIN C T A R T E X H IB I T | M A R C H F O U R T H M A R C H IN G B A N D S C R E A M C R E AT U R E | D A H R I O W O N D E R | T H E N EP O T I S T
SOUNDS | VISIONS | WORDS | VOICES
The Artist D MANAGING EDITOR
Paula Frank CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Ann Marie Papanagnostou CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Andrew Ashley MARKETING & PROMOTIONS
Felicia C. Waters Ann Marie Papanagnostou SUBMISSIONS
Serena Butler WEB DEVELOPMENT
Rene Trejo, Jr. EDITORIAL
Christine Blythe Serena Butler Kathy Creighton Paul Davies Paula Frank Marguerite O’Connell Derek O’Neal Mark Sharpley Annie Shove Darya Teesewell Aaron Wallace Felicia C. Waters
Information Society 22
COVER IMAGE: CHRIS SAUNDERS
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Dot Hacker 30
21st Precinct Art Exhibit 36
March Fourth Marching Band 56
Frank Cotolo 72
Chris Saunders 62
Scream Creature 74
Dahrio Wonder 82
The Nepotist 94
Adam D 90
Darya Teesewell 106
in this issue THE ARTIST D The Artist D has been performing online since the mid 1990s; a relic from the cam show age before social networking was a network, advocate for the rights of the underground, author, painter, columnist, raconteur, provocateur and host of The Fabulous D Show, a radio show broadcast weekly for anybody with a brain in their head. Catering to the freaks, geeks and black sheep of society, he makes the extraterrestrials of culture feel right at home on planet Earth. PAULA FRANK Writer, painter, music lover, dreamer; Paula’s ever-changing Pisces spirit rolls with whatever the tides bring her. Constantly in pursuit of the beauty of art in all its forms, she pours her love for human connections into everything she does, be it writing fiction, interviewing her favorite musicians and artists, painting an emotion, or sharing time with the people she loves. This small town girl has great big dreams and strives to make them reality. She is thrilled to offer them to you, the readers and fellow dreamers. After all, what good are dreams with no one to share them? ANN MARIE PAPANAGNOSTOU Ann Marie likes to make things pretty. This award-winning designer loves to lose herself in the creative process and is psyched to work alongside amazing individuals who fuel her artistic fire and tolerate her fierce coffee addiction. She is most content with a beverage in one hand and a mouse in the other. ADAM D Adam is approximately one half of Photostat Machine. They are a synthpop duo hailing from York, England. When not working on devastatingly handsome pop tunes with his creative other half, @nik_krudeshaw, you can find him hunkered over a cup of coffee. He likes to smile but isn’t that fond of talking about himself in the third person. “So I’ll stop there,” he added. SERENA BUTLER Serena “Rena” Butler marches to the beat of a Linn LM-1 Drum Computer. Currently, she remains in a virtual time warp looking to hit that day where replicating a DeLorean time machine becomes reality. Sadly, it has yet to occur; she remains in the current year here to bring you the latest noise making waves in the four pillars of culture. When not working on the magic behind these pages you can find her rummaging the local independent record shops for CDs and vinyl, trying to get past the second level in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker game for Sega Genesis, or mastering The Force just from watching the Star Wars trilogy. FRANK COTOLO Known for his comedic acumen, Cotolo has made his living as a writer and a performer all of his life and during the lives of others. He is the author of the novel License To Skill and has co-authored its screenplay version, Molotov Memoirs, a collection of short stories, The Complete and Unabridged History of Japan, an epic novel, and a serious novella, Sweet Shepherd. Cotolo, born in Brooklyn in 1950, has worked in broadcasting, film, theater, music and television.
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KATHY CREIGHTON Kathy Creighton, a.k.a. Mama Kath, is on a magical mystery tour of current fine, literary, and performance art and wants to bring you along for the ride. How? Besides watching, reading and listening, Kathy sits down with these creators and discusses everything from what inspires them to where their journeys began to how to fix the current A&E industry. She asks the questions you’ve been waiting for someone to ask. PAUL DAVIES As a lover of music, cats and chocolate it was inevitable that Paul would end up writing for us. A tireless singer/songwriter from the UK with a tiresome number of music projects, his worrying knowledge of the 80s and the evolution of crisps and confectionery (or chips and candy for our US readers) has seen him both gain jobs and lose friends. MARGUERITE O’CONNELL Writer, attorney, wife, and mother of three boys in a bicultural interfaith family, Marguerite isn’t one to shy away from a challenge or decline an adventure. A semester in London studying art history and Shakespeare sparked her life-long passion for music and all things art and law school sharpened her natural abilities for research and communicating. Hoping to show her boys how it’s done, Marguerite has set out to use the things she’s good at, to communicate about the subjects that fuel her passions. For the reader, that might mean interviews with awesome indie artists one month and reviews of their latest works the next. For Marguerite it means lots of words, art, solitude and coffee. And happiness. DARYA TEESEWELL Darya Teesewell has been a lot of things, often simultaneously. She’s spent years working in the velvet prison of the Los Angeles movie biz, but nothing is below her line, because she hates lines. Darya travels freely from gender to gender and had made her living as a cinematographer, a writer, a teacher, a shop girl, a union organizer, and she’s ridden in Angelyne’s pink corvette; oh, does she have a tale to tell. FELICIA C. WATERS Born and raised in NYC, she began her lifelong love affair with music the moment she first heard T Rex. Throughout her life music has always been there...the steadfast friend with no judgment, always accepting. It nourishes, it angers, it heals and it makes you feel embraced. It is a part of her just as a limb or a lung. If she can bring any of those feelings to people through her writing, not only does she feel she’s done her job, she feels like she’s given them a gift.
let’s get connected
he great void that is the work week. The five to six days that the minions of first world countries toil away within so they can get to their weekend. You see the hamster wheel known as Facebook with meme after meme rejoicing for every Friday, Saturday and government or religious holiday that the Kings have thrown to all the horses and all of the men. Rinse, repeat and start all over again so we may strive to make the pittance and go home to create art. Toil like rabbits at the farm and then sneak away, draw the blinds and enrich yourself with fleeting deeds. The great balance. The good and the bad. The darkness and the light. The cycle rolls on and the artists fight, fight, fight. We fight for a moment here or a few extra hours there. We fight to get out of our work place when the whistle sounds so we may slide down the dinosaur's neck and get to the real work at hand. The work of brush and canvas as well as ink and typers. The bricks that need to be blasted with spray cans like mortars. Fight, fight, fight for the right to be ourselves while the man feeds us the dough Monday through Friday, sometimes Saturday just in case he needs you. The cover to cover is not filled with silly people experimenting in hobby. The pages within our publication reveal the only truth that remains. Each word and each picture is a pixilated beacon of fortitude for each of the four cultures. Masterminds toil away in the darkness to push it forward in the light. Mistresses and Misters all bowing to the man so they may one day shout the truth from the mountaintops all by themselves. Down with the wheels of hamsters as we paint the publications and print the true manuscripts for the masses. Again and again until they get it, again and again until our lives have been fulfilled with something besides the drivel of the king's rhetoric of your country, my country and some other country on some other planet. Again and again, it is culture which will set your mind at ease to be free from the beasts with their meats.
Follow The Artist D: @theArtistD
SUBTLE WITH A CAPITAL F BY PRO DUCER M A R K PHOTOG R A PH Y BY W ES CA LDER BA NK / W ESLE Y JA M ES M ED I A W W W.W ESLE YJA M ESM ED I A .CO.UK
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oming out of Manchester, England comes a band that, in a very short period of time, have blown the minds of those who have had the pleasure of finding their tracks land with a polite happy-slap to the face into their inboxes. Reviewing this band is not something that can be done in an easy couple of paragraphs stating that they sound like X, Y & Z so go check them out. Far from it. There are many sound-a-like, influence oriented bands out there – and that’s OK, we love music so the more the merrier – but when Peur’s debut EP, We Can Build Astronauts, crash-landed this direction with the sonic equivalent of a multi-megaton weapon of mass-destruction there was little choice but to nose-spit the current mouthful of coffee and proceed to “Crank The Bastard Tae Malki” (Malki - Scottish Vernacular for getting the shit kicked out of one’s self) while not forgetting to hit loop of course in order to make sure of a big fat earful of seconds and thirds. There really is only one way to listen to Peur which you’ll be given no choice of when playing any of their tracks and that is in ‘full on’ mode. These guys don’t do subtle, and if they did it would be subtle with a capital “F”. In saying that though, it is refreshing to find a band that do what they like without seemingly giving a damn to any preconceived decisions as to which audience they want to appeal to or path the might want to walk.
Is it metal? Is it rock? Is it mainstream? Is it alternative? Or is it, in fact, all of the above and more? To say that Peur crosses genres beautifully and will find a home on any playlist out there is an understatement. There would be no surprise to find a metal head, goth or a teenage pop-fed Target consumer with Peur on shuffle giving their inner ear a solid seeing-to from their modern day antisocial iDevice. Amazingly though, Peur formed only in early 2013 and in just over a year Joe, Ryan, and Sam have come together and created a band that will – yes, will – torpedo the music scene with tracks of mass-distraction and leave fans and listeners begging for another sortie. Deserving of high praise from all corners and creases of the music industry, it will be hard to find anyone out there contributing to the Peur bandwagon with less than a more then positive outlook. Having the privilege of listening to future releases coming from the lads, you can rest assured that “awesome” & “outstanding” will be words you’ll find posted on their social media and future reviews from other industry sources. The future for three blokes from Manchester just got very interesting indeed to say the least, and finding out more of who, what, where, and why is a chance not to be missed.
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Although Peur formed in 2013 there must be a musical history behind each of you. How did you meet in the first place? JOE: Our history is pretty fairy tale. We've known each other since primary/ elementary school, so we were about 7 or 8 years old when we all first met. Ryan and I ended up going to the same high school together and although Sam went to another school, we stayed friends. It was only really when we started college that the band thing started. I'd been in a band before that didn't work out and we thought it was about time we did something. We had been saying for years “when we start the band” or “you know, in our band?” so it was always something that was on our minds from being young but only actually came to fruition about 2 or 3 years ago. We wrote an EP and spent the year recording it, then thought “right, let’s do this”. Did the influence of playing in other bands or with others have influence on what Peur produces? RYAN: I don't think that is the case with us. There is only Joe who has been in another band and they played more indie music. So I don't think there is any sort of connection there musically to what we do as I would say we are a little bit more experimental than the indie music his old band produced. Did you find it took a long time to bring the elements of Peur together or was it something that just came naturally when you plugged in? SAM: We have been writing music together since the beginning, some of the songs on We Can Build Astronauts are some of the first ones we wrote. It’s always sounded unique but I think, to a certain extent, we were still finding our feet with what music we wanted to be producing. Now with the new EP and even with the new tracks we are writing, we are starting to hone our sound. Now we listen to our music and say “that's Peur”. It feels like ages to us but I suppose two years isn't really that much of a long time. There seems to be a real carefree attitude surrounding Peur, as if you do what you do and don’t care about any kind of “target market” at all. If pressured, and without pigeonholing the music, what would be your target audience? SAM: That's a hard question. You're exactly right, it's always been about what we want to make and the type of people that might like our music hasn't really been discussed or thought about. I'd like to think ISSUE FOURTEEN
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that we can cast our net wide, catching the song at a time band. It's as far opposite attention of anyone from real hardcore mu- as you could imagine! We write five or six songs at a time, get half way through them sic lovers to the casual weekend listener. and then move on to new music that we Peur has, and is, gaining high praise have. We then go back and work on the very quickly. Is this something that has old stuff we didn't finish so we always have too many songs to handle as we write. In surprised you? RYAN: Kind of, yes. It's always a sur- a lot of ways that's a good thing, but when prise and we always get excited when we you’re trying to remember your parts to get another good review from people. I sup- twenty different songs that are half done it pose that's because we just write what we can be difficult. It always keeps us on our want to write. Obviously we like the sort of toes, though, and I wouldn't do it any other music we are producing, but normally we way really. have a vastly different taste to normal people. At the moment, we also know we have Would you consider Peur as something songs waiting in the background that we, as for fun that is an enjoyable passion or a band, think are head and shoulders over a project with a future focused goal in the first EP. So to get praise on something mind? SAM: Both. We are constantly striving we can do better with is always a shock, I to better ourselves and get our name out suppose. there. Making music is all we see ourselves You seem very happy and in your ele- doing for the rest of our lives. I suppose the ment in the studio, but do you prefer the goal is to be able to achieve that without the distraction of exterior weekend or full time studio environment or the live stage? JOE: Personally, the live stage. The stu- jobs. That doesn't mean we can't have a dio can be just as exciting but for different boat load of fun while we are doing it. We reasons. The live stage is where you can gain so much enjoyment out of every part showcase your skills to everybody in that of being a band; practising, playing live, beroom and that's what it’s all about. There's ing in the studio and even the travelling is a an unpredictability to preforming live that's laugh. I mean, at the end of the day if you exciting. You just don't know what's going aren't having fun, what's the point? to happen — are they going to like it or not? Then when you start playing music and the Along with plans for the next EP can we expect any exciting live events or even crowd is into it, it’s the best thing. overseas gigs that we can look out for? With We Can Be Astronauts out there RYAN: We currently have a few gigs getting attention and with a new EP on lined up — one in Liverpool on the 5th of the way, is there plenty of material for a September, then off to Glasgow the night future album? after. We are trying to either work on anothJOE: Yeah, sure. Whether we go down er gig in Scotland or at least in the north of the route of an album we're not sure yet. England. We have a good few others in the The second EP is nearly done and is cur- pipeline but none that have a date stamped rently being mastered by Robin Schmidt, on them yet. Hopefully that will all change who has just done The 1975's new record. soon and we can be doing more gigs more So we're more hung up on doing this right often. before we focus on anything else. I'm not saying we've not thought about it but we With the future in mind, if you could pick just haven't made our minds up yet. An al- one thing for Peur to achieve in the near bum is s a big step so we're not just gonna future, what “thing” would be a “make put one out for the sake of it. We'll ride this your day” moment? for a while and see what happens. SAM: I would say being able to pack a show with people we have never met, Would you say that Peur was prolific in people that have heard our music through writing new material or are you more of social media or bought/downloaded our EP a “one song at a time” band and then and have come down to check us out live. hone that song until it’s right? I think that would definitely make my day. It RYAN: I can't ever say we are a one would probably make my year, too.
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ELEC TROSE XUA L CHEMIS T RY THE METHOD AND THE FORMULA BEHIND THE SONIC EXPERIMENTS OF ROMAIN FREQUENCY
BY PAUL DAV I ES
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PHOTO BY MORITZ GREWENIG
PHOTO BY MASHYNO SHIRT: CAMINATI 16 CARLA www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUEFOURTEEN FOURTEEN ARTWORK: LUKAS JULIUS KEIJSER
n the land of the modern pop single the producer is king. Often receiving an equal billing on new releases, their names are now as important as the singers whose careers they are helping to boost or launch. This has inspired a generation of bedroom producers who are just a mere double-click or a preset away from getting that mainstream sound. In the early days of electronic music these technological luxuries did not exist of course, with producers spending hours or even days using tape and programming hulking sequencers to create loops. In this copy-andpaste age nobody would seriously spend time doing all this anymore would they? Fortunately the answer is yes and we still have those who trust in the analogue sounds and processes. Electrosexual, a self-confessed synth and analogue fetishist, has this year released Art Support Machine, an album which bubbles over with a mechanical yet unorthodox froth of forgotten sounds. More Global Hypercolour than High Definition, the thirteen songs recall a time when there was still much to discover within electronic music with now-established genres still in their infancy. With refreshingly imperfect rhythms and arpeggios Art Support Machine successfully challenges the over-produced sonic landscape our ears are accustomed to yet still retains a familiarity. With such an emphasis on nostalgia, it seems natural that the album should have been recorded in a bunker in Berlin, a city rich in musical and cultural history, and a key influence on a lot of the important electronic albums of the 70s and 80s. The topic of the studio is where we begin to get more of an insight into the world of Romain Frequency, the man behind Electrosexual...
You have released several songs and remixes before this year. Why did you wait before focusing on an album? What is a typical process when you are creating songs? New music always sets the tone of where my head is at. With a single song, the time between the creation and the release is usually quite fast which means it can easily follow the stream of my mood, feeding the track with a specific idea close to what I am experiencing at the present moment in my life. Working on a full length album is a different process. It is longer and more organised in the sense of a complete concept. You have to visualise the whole concept at once. A lot of the creative part and spontaneous work is being done beforehand, and then when the main demos are crafted it’s more The album Art Support Machine lists a a question of production, arrangement and large and enviable number of synths and then mixing and so on. hardware. Have they travelled with you? You have guest vocalists on several Do you own them all? Yes, I own most of the equipment used songs on the album. How much do they on the album, although a couple of synths, contribute to the songs? I like the idea of collaboration on a song, like the Oberheim Matrix 6 and Elka Rhapsody belong to my friend and label partner because of its dynamic. Generally, I start with the idea of the François Abberline who co-produced the song, providing the music, title and theme song “Out of Place”. I could not live without my synths, so direction, then the collaboration starts, turnthey travel with me. This requires a lot of ing the original project into a far more developed one or turning into a totally new idea. discipline and organisation. I am not mentioning that the family is Everyone will interpret the themes of growing all the time! your album in their own way but what It is funny that you mention family. Like were you trying to achieve? a parent with several children you probaI am fascinated about the mythology surbly cannot pick a favourite, but you must rounding music and machines. have a favourite synth surely? I needed to explore this theme to be able My favourite synth is the Korg MS20 to go further in the future. It was important for me to consider the mainly because it is a sound factory that has machine as a persona independently from a lot of energy and can be very experimental. For me, it is not a synthesizer, it’s more the human, with its own fear, emotion and like a magic box for emotion. Many of its sensitivity. sounds are really evocative and inspiring. It is very organic. The variety of sounds Did anything in particular inspire you to seems infinite. You can create drum sounds, be fascinated by the theme of machines? soundscapes, noises, pads, or simply try to A novel, film or other music perhaps? imitate sounds of traditional instruments like There is a lot to mention: from the robots flute, oboe or guitar. Like Roland’s TB303 of Kraftwerk; the replicants of the movie was supposed to replace a bass, the MS20 Blade Runner; the synthetic artificial music was supposed to recreate any existing in- performers from Norman Spinrad’s 1987 strument sounds! novel Rock Machine (aka Little Heroes) which I named my Record Label after. And is there a particular synth, past or Do you think you will continue to explore present, you wish you owned? For a long time I wanted to own a this theme of music and machines... MOOG Liberation especially for my gigs. It like a follow-up or sequel? Or have you is a wonderful and powerful Keytar synthe- already got other plans for your next sizer (made famous by Herbie Hancock) but releases? I still have a lot of ideas around Machines when I got the chance to try one, I actually realized it was far too heavy for stage use, that I want to express in the next single releases out of Art Support Machine. despite the fantastic sound quality. First of all, thank you for spending the time to talk to us in what has already been a busy year. Please talk us through your studio set up. My studio is focusing on the connection between the synthesizers, effects units and the final recorder. I mainly use audio as opposed to midi. When I produce music I need every machine to be plugged in ready to be used. Even though I always have a sound idea in mind, I never know what I’ll start with and I let the instrument dictate the direction. Then starts the cooking! The studio is a wonderful place. It is a blank canvas and I am always excited translating emotions into music. I have been moving a lot over the past months, and my studio is following me. It is a mobile studio.
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The concept will develop on future videos from the album. The new single “Automatic People” featuring vocals from Hanin Elias deals with the automatic life of the everyday routine and how and why you should get over it. Future projects will focus on different themes obviously. While the music is very important, tell us how important visuals are for Electrosexual either as promotional video or in a live setting. Ever since the beginning, visuals have been part of the project: I developed a specific visual for each song or release. For the live show, the visuals are used of course for their aestheticism and complement the music, but also to deepen the meaning of instrumental tracks (for example some visuals show definitions of specific terms as A.S.F.R. (alternative sex robot fetishes) on the song Fetish, or even political statements.) With Art Support Machine, the concept is different — I teamed with two visual artists living in Berlin that inspire me a lot. They are Lukas Julius Keijser, who is working on this project exclusively with the silk-screening process and Philip Marshall who is the resident designer of the ZTT re-editions. I use the different formats of the release as a canvas. Every format for the album (Vinyl Picture Disc, Digital and CD) shows a variation of the main visual. Every single from the album will also have a dedicated artwork as they are a part of this concept. At the end of the project, the ensemble will show all the prints created. Like in an art gallery.
I always have been inspired by electronic musicians. As far as I can remember, Jean Michel Jarre was my first introduction to the genre. As a kid, I really got into synth pop and New Wave with bands like Depeche Mode, Soft Cell or Talk Talk as well as early 80‘s electronic funk, the exciting pop of Trevor Horn & ZTT and the production of William Orbit. When Techno and Acid house came to my ears I started to imagine creating music myself, but it wasn’t until I moved to Montreal in 2002 that I actually did! I bought my first synth from Xavier Paradis of the band Automelodi (Echo Kitty at the time) and used my exile as stimulation. I realised I could do anything with the sound and it became an exciting story. I could describe your music as techno or disco. You have just mentioned acid house and synth pop influences. Do genres mean anything in electronic music anymore? Are they important? Would you say that 'electrosexual' itself is a movement that you have created? I like blending genres together and I couldn’t stick to one single direction. It is again about the emotion diktat, not about the style. Unfortunately, you have to put a name on your music. That’s why I like sometimes to invent new terms. I created Electrosexual in reference to surrealistic non "(human) sexuality". It started as a statement, considering machines and synthesizers as genitors, having their own kind of sexuality. This concept follows a movement inspired by artists including David Cronenberg, H.R. Giger, Psychic TV, Add N to (X) and Chris&Cosey/Throbbing Gristle.
In the world of electronic music, the pioneers often end up falling behind. Do you hope to keep your music sounding fresh and if so how? A song, when finished, is like a tattoo...it stays forever. My music is always very personal and singular, so in this way will always remain unique. I like to play with references and be inspired by my music background. I don’t use any up to date piece of equipment so I don’t have the feeling to write fresh music. I always try to keep the creative process as exciting as possible. I am not worried about the freshness of my sound, I am more worried of not having enough time to release Who are your main influences? Who all the music I have in my mind for the world to hear...and this is a wonderful motivation! inspired you to try electronic music? What else can the audience expect at one of your live shows? Each show is a performance. I use screens to project videos. As I am alone on stage, most of the tracks are adapted and remixed for the show so that I can perform live as much music and vocals as possible. Depending on where I am playing, I have a couple of synths or more on stage, as well as a drum/sample pad and effect controller and of course a microphone. In the end I want the audience to experience the performance as if there was a full band playing in front of them.
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“FOR ME, IT IS NOT A SYNTHESIZER, IT’S MORE LIKE A MAGIC BOX FOR EMOTION.”
PHOTO BY FRANCESCO CASCAVILLA WWW.FRANCESCOCASCAVILLA.COM
K C A B e r ’ y e h t , d l r o w _hello
BUTLER A N E R E BY S
PHOTOGRAPH BY DARIK KOBATA
PHOTOGRAPH BY WIL FOSTER | WWW.ROCKCANDYPHOTO.COM
After nearly 30 years of making music and a 21 year break from their original three man formation, Jim Cassidy, Kurt Harland, and Paul Robb, better known as Information Society, are BACK! On September 22 Information Society will drop their first full length record since 1993’s Peace and Love Inc. Entitled _hello world, the new album brings so many fresh twists onto a classic synth pop sound that many 80s children will be excited to hear. With tracks like the up tempo dance track “Get Back” to the very anti-Information Society ballad-like “Tomorrow the World” there’s something for every Information Society fan, both new and old. For those who love collaborations, there is even a duet cover of DEVO’s “Beautiful World” with Gerald V Casale. In this second coming of Information Society, we had the chance to talk to founding member and mastermind behind some of the band’s greatest productions, Paul Robb. Throughout our short little chat, we had the chance to cover what the new fans need to know about the band and what the diehard fans would love to know about the new album, subsequent touring, future plans, and how they juggle their time with other jobs outside of the band. So, let’s see what Paul and the Information Society guys have been up to! In order to refresh the memories of old fans and hopefully introduce some new fans to the band, how would describe Information Society? How did you all get together? Well, as far as I describe it, I don’t know. I mean, other people have described the band much better than I could. You know what? I like the term “Synthpop.” I think that has a good sound. We first formed in 1982 which was our first year in college. There were originally three of us in the group and eventually the group grew to five members in ‘84/’85. Finally, in ‘86 we settled on a core group of four members, which were myself and Kurt Harlan Larson, the singer, James Cassidy, bass and bass synth player, and Amanda Kramer, singer and keyboard player. She left the band after the first album and since that time the core group of three musicians has remained pretty much constant. I was wondering what happened to Amanda. She was always more of a rocker. None of us were really ready for what happened after we had our first big hit. Everything was moving very fast and we all moved to New York. I think she wasn’t ready to be a professional musician in an electronic band. Later on, she became a member of the Golden Palominos. Then, she was a member of Siouxsie Sioux’s band. For the last, I want to say 7 or 8 years, she’s been a touring member of the Psychedelic Furs. Before I go any further about the new album, I have to ask about the title. For some of us tech junkies, “hello world” is typically one of the simplest programs possible in most programming languages used to illustrate basic syntax to beginners of the programming language. Is _hello world in relation to that or do you view it as something more? Well, obviously that’s the most basic meaning of the phrase. We were all really adopters of computer technology. I can remember learning basic in 8th grade which
was at least 80 or 90 years ago! For us, it has even more meaning than that in just the wider sense. It’s kind of a, you know, a sense of reintroducing ourselves to the world. It’s been a long time since the three of us have put out a record together. In that sense it is a much more direct exclamation of saying hello. So, this new album, _hello world, is your first physical, everybody on board release with the original group members since 1992’s Peace and Love, Inc. I mean the first full album. Kurt was involved in Synthesizer which was in 2007. He didn’t sing the whole album. So, it’s the first FULL album we’ve done together since 1992. How do you think the thirteen plus years away from the original formation of the group and then coming back together has impacted the creation process of _hello world vs. your prior releases? Well, I’d say that the time away hasn’t necessarily changed anything about the way we work together. We’re like a family. As you know, with your family you can be apart from each other for ten years and within thirty seconds of being back in the same room you’re going to be relating to each other in the same ways you always have. That’s definitely the case with us. I will say that the fact that the band is not our sole and only occupation anymore does a lot to take the pressure off and makes us less ready to kill each other about every little creative decision. The fact that we have as long as we want, to do whatever we want, with no record company breathing down our necks has made the process much more pleasant and creative actually.
think we were pretty influential in our use of sampling for sure. In terms of electronic bands, in America, I think we have some influence. I don’t think we were ever considered to be in the first rank of most influential bands in the world in terms of like Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, or whatever. I think we were pioneering in some aspects in the way we worked. Certainly, if the people we’ve been meeting in the last 5 or 10 years when we do go out to play shows are any indication, we certainly have been or were influential on the younger crop of artists, at least in the sense of making them want to try to make electronic music and that’s very rewarding. It’s kind of a satisfying feeling. One of the biggest highlights of the album, in my personal opinion, is the DEVO cover “Beautiful World” in which you guys brought in Gerald V Casale to lay down vocals on the track. Actually, it’s a duet between Kurt and Jerry. They switch off verses which I think makes it so awesome.
Do you feel DEVO impacted the music of Information Society as they formed 10 years prior to you guys? Oh, absolutely! Yeah, they were prior to us, quite a bit actually. They were at their peak when we were still in high school. DEVO was a huge influence on us. More so just because of their aesthetic or the way they were presenting themselves than the music per se. They were, especially in the beginning, they were much more guitar oriented, whereas we started life as a very anti-guitar kind of band. We loved everything about DEVO. As a matter of fact, Kurt once got expelled from school for wearing a yellow DEVO hazmat suit to school one day. The new album has a bit of an EDM in- We’ve always been in love with those guys. fluence to it. You guys were playing with So, it was great for us to get Jerry in the electronics and sounds before EDM was studio and work with him. even a thing. How has what you and other artists accomplished in the 80s influenced How in the world did that come together? the sounds we hear in music today? It turns out our manager, Jason Fiber, I’m not sure if that’s for us to decide. I use to run a label that put out Jerry’s solo ISSUE FOURTEEN
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album, Jihad Jerry & the Evil Doers, so when I told our manager that we wanted to do a cover of “Beautiful World” he said “Oh! I know Jerry! I can give him a call and see if he wants to do it with you.” “Beautiful World” is a Jerry song. It’s not one of the songs that Mark wrote. It just turned out that it was very convenient. Jerry lives in Santa Monica like I do. So, it just happened and it was great. It was really easy. Obviously, I think Jerry knows that song very well because it only took him 30 minutes to sing the thing.
manager, Jason, he wasn’t as close to the music as the rest of us. He said “Oh no! You’re crazy! You have to release “Land of The Blind” because that’s the one that sounds the most like old Information Society. It will be something that will enable your old fans to really come to grips with the new record.” So, we took his advice and that’s why we put it out first. You know these days, it’s not like we’re in danger of our songs going top 10 or anything like that. It wasn’t the same kind of critical decision that it would have been When you hear the title “Jonestown” it back in the 90s like “Oh my god what’s our tends to conjure up many images of the first single going to be.” In that sense the horrible Jonestown Massacre of ‘78. Did pressure is a little bit off. you get your inspiration from that? If so, what is it that really drove you to write How did you guys come up with what about the concept of what happened you felt was the perfect track listing for there? _hello world? Well, like a lot of our music, the imIn one sense track sequence isn’t even age of Jonestown is used as a metaphor. that important anymore. The bulk of people Most of our songs are about relationships, don’t even buy albums anymore. They buy let’s be honest. In this particular case, the one song at a time so it doesn’t matter what Jonestown metaphor was just meant to in- order the songs are in. But, I’m old enough dicate when you have such faith in some- that I still buy albums and I still listen to enthing, whether it’s a person, relationship, tire albums all the way through so it is implace, or idea, you’re willing to sacrifice too portant to me. There’s no great secret about much for it. If you listen to the song the lyr- it. It’s just trial and error. I just burned a lot ics don’t really have anything to do with the of different CDs. I put them in my car and Jonestown massacre in South America, but listen to them as I’m driving around. I just it springs from the idea of being willing to work my way through the pile of tracks until take terrible risks with yourself because of the sequence feels right to my ears. something you believe in. It’s safe to say one of the most iconic “Tomorrow the World” is one of the more videos of the 80s was that for “What’s unique tracks on the album. It comes off on Your Mind.” You guys are also known as an anti-Information Society sound for some pretty in your face videos like with a heavy orchestral almost ballad “Think.” Will we be seeing a video for like quality. Can you tell us a about how any of the singles off the new album? that track got started and came to what Well, there is a lyric video for “Land of it is on the album? The Blind.” That was created by our VJ FalActually that’s a song I wrote a long time cotronic. I think it pretty accurately depicts ago. I wrote that song in the 90’s believe it the state of the art in terms of Information or not. It just never seemed right to try to do Society visual aesthetics at this point in it until now. Kurt and I were a little bit dubi- time. And yeah, we will be doing a video for ous about it. We just kind of put it out there the second single which is going to be “Get and like “let’s give this one a shot and see Back.” what happens” more than anything else. I think that it worked pretty well actually. How have your views on music videos Yeah, it’s not like your typical Information changed since the band’s beginnings? Society song, that’s for sure. Music videos and MTV were critical I put it last because it’s so different from to our success in the 80s and 90s. We anything else. wouldn’t exist without MTV for sure. Nowadays, I don’t think it’s as important for bet“Land of the Blind” is most likely the ter or for worse because of YouTube and best re-introduction to Information Soci- there’s no outlet for TV for music videos ety off the complete album. It always fas- anymore. People go to YouTube to watch cinates me to find the reasoning behind music videos and listen to music even. In singles and track line ups. How did you that sense visuals are more ubiquitous guys land on “Land Of The Blind” to be because YouTube is the second largest the starting point for the album? search engine on the internet. They don’t Well, it’s funny because I wanted to re- have the same level of cultural impact that lease another record as the first single. Our they use to. I have never been a hugely vi26 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE FOURTEEN
sual person. I know the videos were important for our early success, but, they’re not that important to me personally; although, there are bands that wouldn’t exist today if their videos weren’t so great. I’m thinking of a band like Die Antwoord. Their music all by itself wouldn’t be anywhere near as interesting if it wasn’t for their videos. I’m old enough to remember pop music before music videos. I remember being a little bit bummed out when I first started watching music videos. I didn’t want to see somebody else’s images put against the songs I was listening to. I had my own images in my head as I was listening. A lot of times I would see what a director’s vision for the song was and it was kind of disappointing. So, it cuts both ways. Outside of the band, you all seem to have your ‘day jobs’ with you doing your ad and TV work, James as a professor of music at Oregon State, and Kurt with his video game stuff. Many of us are left wondering, how do you find the time to tour? The answer to that question is that we actually don’t find very much time to tour. That’s why we don’t tour very much. We do it when we can because we enjoy it. We like to get out there, meet and greet. There’s a great freedom that you get performing on stage that you don’t get in the studio. But, you’re right, we don’t get to do it that often and it’s too bad but it is what it is. We played a show in LA at the end of July. After that, it’s open. I can say we’re planning a series of dates in the fall with another act. Nothing has been finalized yet, so I can’t give any particular details for that. Let’s just say this; there are definitely plans for shows in the US. A lot of our American fans have complained because we tend to play more shows outside the country than we do inside the country but we’re working on that. In ‘92 you guys created your own label HAKATAK. Can you tell us how and why you decided to create the label? HAKATAK was originally created as a phony record label when we put out a few white label 12 inches in the early 90s. After we left our label in New York, I decided to make it into a real record label to release some of our side projects and some other things I was working on that were too kind of underground to be of any interest to any major label or pop record label. Throughout the late 90s and early 00s that’s what HAKATAK was. It was my outlet for myself and other projects I was involved with. In some cases just projects I enjoyed, just to put them out in the world so that they would be heard by someone because the type of music HAKATAK did and mostly still does is pretty abstract electronic music. It’s not like
PHOTOGRAPH BY WIL FOSTER | WWW.ROCKCANDYPHOTO.COM
bum. We are never going to be anything other than what we are, which is a synthpop band that writes 3 minute pop songs. I think that just being true to our own aesthetic is probably the best path. That’s what we decided to do. If younger fans enjoy it, that’s great for us. If not, it’s no biggie. I read in another interview you’ve given that you guys have always wanted to do a cover album. Why cover music? And if this becomes a reality, what top 5 songs would you want to cover and how would you put your own twist on them? Well, you can hear how we put a twist on it just by listening to “Beautiful World.” As a matter of fact, that is going to be the first song on the cover album. We’re going to put that on our cover album and we definitely intend to do it just because it’s going to be so much fun. I don’t know if I want to tell you what other songs we’re going to cover. I can tell you the songs we’re going to cover will all be from artists that were influential on us, just like DEVO was. You can maybe guess what some of those acts might be.
I was hoping for top 40 hits on HAKATAK. Now, it just so happens because there really aren’t any major labels anymore, that HAKATAK is the perfect platform for Information Society to come out on. It’s come full circle. What was once a completely phony record label, created for us to put out an Information Society song under someone else’s name, now turns out to actually be the Information Society record label. So there’s got to be some poetic justice in that. Have you found any challenges in releasing from your own label in lieu of one with major connections or a major label all together? Well, the only challenges are that you don’t get the support that you get from another label that is funded with big money and has promotions departments and all that. All those things could be outsourced as well. It’s not the same. It’s definitely a different process. I think the control over the creative aspects of things makes it a better process for us. There has been a trend as of late where a lot of artists are leaving major labels to begin their own independent start up or
become completely independent just as you guys have been releasing your music through HAKATAK. What do you think is really bucking that current trend? I don’t know if anything is necessarily bucking that trend. I think everyone is doing it because major labels don’t have much to offer to artists anymore. So, a lot of bands are What do you feel after 30+ years in the saying “why don’t we do it ourselves.” That’s music industry, is the mark on society the same thought process we went through. that Information Society wants to be known for? Wow, that’s kind of a big question. You With such a lengthy career, you’ve stated that “_hello world is our way of know, I’m not sure if we ever had aspirare-introducing ourselves to our old fans, tions to leave a great mark on society. As and hopefully making the acquaintance a matter of fact, we were probably always of some new fans.” Some may say that known and thought of ourselves as more introducing yourself to the younger gen- commentators on things rather than innovaeration may be difficult. How do you feel tors in fundamental areas. It’s been more of that this album pursues that challenge? our M.O. to critique and comment and think How do you hope that _hello world reach- about different ways of looking at things than trying to create any particular thing that es the ears of the younger generation? This is not something we spend much was completely brand new, let’s put it that time thinking about. You can only do what way. I certainly think in terms of our use of you do. No one wants to see some old man sampling, I think we brought that technolbecome hyper relevant. We’re not going ogy to a pop audience that wasn’t very fato go out there and sound like Skrillex or miliar with it before. If it hadn’t been us, it something. There are some more modern would have been someone else. It’s not like production techniques and sounds that I I can take any great credit for that! brought into the production of the new al-
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Nothing modern? No, why would we do that!? I’m interested more in refreshing people’s memory about the great music that we listened to when we were young. Anybody can go to YouTube and find out what’s going on today. Some people out there might not remember acts like Fad Gadget or Heaven Seventeen or, you know, acts like that. That’s what we intend to do with the cover album. Cover songs by people who we loved when we were young.
Photograph by Wil Foster | www.rockcandyphoto.com
THE EVOLUTION OF ROCK
DOT HACKER BY FELI CI A C WATERS
So here I sit on a Saturday evening, Doctor Who on in the background when something the character is saying catches my ear. There’s a new Doctor being introduced this year, and he is basically trying to understand why he has a new face. All things being the same within him so it seems, where did the new face come from? Naturally that got me thinking about the state of music. It’s something I think about a lot, it’s my process. Here’s where I made the connection – same thing musically with a different face. I’m not going to judge that in a good or a bad way because there is something playing on any random device that someone really digs. My point is this. For the past few years what we have had released to us has been kind of like Doctor Who, but way less interesting. Recently, however, I have been coming across these unique nuggets of pure wonderful. Few and far between, but they are starting to bubble up. On Record Store Day this year such a nugget bubbled up for me when I was turned on to Dot Hacker. Clint Walsh, Jonathan Hischke, Eric Gardner and Josh Klinghoffer are Dot Hacker. They bubble up from LA, and are all involved in other projects. Somehow they found the time to create some deep fried goodness. As How’s Your Process? (Work) winds its way into the consciousness of music lovers, the band is gearing up for the October 7th release of How’s Your Process? (Play), the second of the two album set. So this brings me back to Doctor Who. He travels back and forth through time, much like rock does and he has a faithful companion, the fans. But even though it seems like a new face same Doctor, the reality is with each regeneration he evolves and changes. Welcome to the evolution of rock with Dot Hacker. Josh Klinghoffer answered a few of our questions. 32 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE FOURTEEN
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Rock music seems to have fizzled out over the past few years, but recently more bands with a rock vibe are starting to sprout up, Dot Hacker being one of them. Do you see the beginnings of a rock revival happening? No, well, I don’t think I’m the right one to ask. I don’t really follow what’s going on these days. I feel like there are always a ton, or several tons, of rock bands everywhere. I’ve even been known to say at times that I don’t want to be in a rock band, but who am I kidding, yes I do. I think bands, and their listeners for that matter, should be open to anything. How did you come up with the name Dot Hacker? What’s the significance of the name? It was Eric Gardner’s maternal grandmother’s name. Dorothy Hacker. Dot is short for Dorothy. When we booked our first show, we were nameless. It took a while to feel like us, but I think it does now. I call us The Dots. Who/what were your biggest influences? What was it that inspired you to explore music? It’s hard to narrow it down. We all like and were influenced by a lot of things. I was always fascinated by bands. The idea of a band. A little club. A group of people all working for the same goal. A team. What’s your process? How does the Dot Hacker creative process work? It differs. We get together and make noise. We record everything so if anything is really happening, we listen to it, try and figure out what the hell we were doing, then turn it into a song. Stage left and stage right bring in songs of various level of completion, we throw those at the wall and which ever stick, become songs. Scheduling and temporal availability play a role too. Actually a lot more than I wish were true. We just try listener can and can’t take. I know a double How important is commercial success and work as much as we can. The more we album is too much for me these days, but as for Dot Hacker? If this band was your do, the easier it is. Work, work, work. only gig would you be happy with just I said, I like short records. earning a decent living doing what you I’ve read that you decided to release the You guys released a special limited edition love on your own terms? Work & Play albums separately because 7” of “Whatever You Want” in support of I think if anyone earned a decent living of the length of the songs. Why not go Record Store Day. What are your thoughts doing what they loved on their own terms, ahead and release a double album? Do on how fans get their music these days? then they’re in pretty good shape. I’m not you think listeners of today could digest Did you have a favorite record store sure what commercial success is. Probably such a thing? growing up? because I play in another, very successful It wasn’t really the lengths of the songs, One more time, I don’t know how peo- band, that I didn’t start. I’ve always had a to me. It was the length of the albums. I like ple get music now. I’d say that I much pre- hard time defining success. I used to have a short record. A record that when it’s done, fer the record store to the iStore...by far, but no money and still don’t really treat it with you need to put it on again straight away. I I can’t say one is definitively better. I know respect. I am continuing to grow and move also was quite obsessed with the running or- what I enjoyed as a kid and what I kinda wish forward in life, that is closer to success in der for this record. The decision to break it was still going on, but maybe it is. I had a lot my book. I think all the guys in the band would love to just be able to work on this band up also was to allow for everyone to feel their of favourites as a kid. Too many to name. as much as possible. If we can create a situaneeds met (as much as possible) in that detion where that is happening, we’re a success. partment. Again, I can’t say what the modern 34 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE FOURTEEN
You’ve started to play some gigs locally. Are there any plans to take the Dot Hacker experience out to the rest of the country? We’d love to tour! We’d have left yesterday if schedules permitted. We will someday. What can one expect? Music played by people who love playing it. Is there a particular song you’d like to cover? What would be your favorite song to just rock out on? We do a few covers. Again, there are too many to mention. I have a playlist full of potential covers. A song can affect me emotionally and no matter how many times I listen to it, it will still bring me to a certain moment in
time and how it made me feel. When you write about something personal how does it affect you when you play it live? Can you compartmentalize the emotion or is performing the song therapeutic in itself? I’m thinking of “Floating up the Stairs” in particular which to me seemed personal. Well, for me, it’s always such an emotional experience. Writing, recording, rehearsing, performing. Sometimes logistics or tangled cables get in the way of having a truly open and emotional time playing a song, but that is bound to happen. Without sounding like an ass, I try not to think, I just do it. I think all of us approach music in a very emotional way, that’s what we enjoy about playing with each other.
You did the original score for Bob and the Monster, the awesome documentary about Bob Forrest. What was that experience like? Are there opportunities to get creative in an endeavor like this? Of course you can get creative! I pretty much created that music on the spot in one day of recording. It was very fun, again, very quick, but really enjoyable. I was so honoured to be able to show my love and appreciation for Bob in this way. I always hope Bob knows how much I love him. I tell him I do, but you know...maybe he’ll see this. What’s in heavy rotation on your iPods right now? Barry Gibb’s demos.
A PHOTO SER I ES BY ANDRE W ASHLE Y
n August 15 Suzuki Capital filed plans to demolish the former 21st Precinct on 22nd Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue in New York City. Built in 1863 as a police station, this location housed the 21st Precinct until 1952. Later the building was taken over by Green Chimneys, a group residence for 25 LGBTQ youth. Last year the building went up for sale. In the weeks leading up to the decision to demolish the building, the precinct was transformed into a majestic mecca for graffiti and street artists covering every square inch of the interior of the four story building in what they do best. Over 50 artists took part in this remodel, altering a once notorious police station into a vibrant and evocative palace filled with the murals, installations and photos. Nothing was off limits. The building was opened for public viewing and a few pieces of art were for sale ranging in price from a few dollars to a few thousand. The building, containing all of this creativity, was set for demolition at the time of publication.
ARTISTS REPRESENTED: Adam Dare Al Diaz Amanda Marie ASVP Bad Pedestrian Ben Angotti Bill Claps Bishop203 Bunny M. Cash4 Chris RWK Chris Soria Coby Kennedy Curtis Kulig D. Gaja Danielle Mastrion Dasic Dizmology Duel ELLE Erasmo Esteban del Valle Faust Ghost GIZ Hellbent Hue Icy & Sot ISSUE FOURTEEN
Iena Cruz Jesper Haynes Justin Carty Ket Lexi Bella Li-Hall Lorenzo Masnah Matt Siren Mr. Toll N. Carlos Jay Nepo Nick Tengri Pesu Phil Pixote RAE Rambo Ricardo Cabret SAE Savior Elmundo Shery-o & The Yok Shiro Tone Tank URNY Vexta, X-O | www.fourculture.com 39
MARCHING BAND BY K ATH Y CR EI G HTO N
PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRIS YETTER
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he house lights go down. The stage lights brighten to the sound of a few attentiongetting rim shots. A collection of brass, woodwinds and percussion with rock-band electric guitars and bass, decked in costumes that combine traditional uniforms and circus wear are revealed. Then they unleash their magic and quickly the entire audience is dancing their asses off when their jaws are not dropping as they witness the hair-raising acrobatics done by two stiltwalkers and two dancer/acrobats. The crazy lifts and flips would be terrifying enough if being done from apparatus attached strongly to floor and/or ceiling. But the obvious strength of the stilters combines with their ability to remain balanced as the girls climb and swing from them. THIS is March Fourth Marching Band. Music and antics all integrated into great works of performance art and when all is said and done and the show is over, everyone leaves with one word on their lips….FUN!!!
Portland, Oregon - sometime around January or February of 2003, as the now oft told story goes, a group of friends that included John Averill, Nayana Jennings, her twin sister Faith and her husband along with a few other musicians put together a performance troupe to march in the Fat Tuesday parade. It was supposed to be a “one-off” deal. John took time from his busy schedule as bandleader and bass guitarist to share a deeper insight into March Fourth with FourCulture. “I knew a bunch of drummers and a couple horns and they knew a couple more horns.” They rounded up a large enough group to participate in the parade on March 4th. But it didn't end there. The group caught the attention of other instrumentalists who wanted to join. “We kept adding horns until we got really big.” Today, Jennings says she’s not really sure how many people are actually “in” the band. For their first outing, due to time constraints, March Fourth prepared a playlist of cover songs that suited their collection of instruments and styles. However, when the troupe took on a life and continued, this ever-growing number of talented artists followed their muses and began writing, arranging and eventually performing original songs. Today all of the tunes heard at their shows and on their records are their own. One of the most interesting things about ISSUE FOURTEEN
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the band part of M4 is their writing process. Having some experience with drum and bugle corps, it was a surprise to learn that March Fourth does not create their songs collectively. Averill notes, very early on, members just started doing individual writing and arranging. As time passed, especially once they began touring, rehearsal time became a precious commodity so it worked well for someone to present a completed song and arrangement. Nuances and small changes are some times made once a song is added to their repertoire. The other thing that benefits the band with this process, is the variety of styles/genres that are presented. The setlist of a March Fourth show can include everything from New Orleans style jazz, to gypsy rock to big top tunes with some straight-up rock and roll tossed in. Averill says, “The best writers in the group dodge genres. We try to write things that haven’t been heard before so that’s why we’re kind of ‘all over the place’. If there’s a bunch of tunes of the same flavor in our set, we’ll try to write new stuff that we don’t have. We try to mash-up genres as much as possible. So it’s pretty wide open.” Another challenge of limited prep time is turn-over. Initially there were a few comings and goings but once M4 hired a booking agent, four and a half years ago, there were some big changes. Many members also had day jobs so they couldn't go out on the
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road for six months. Now when they are together for actual rehearsal time and setlists are worked out, Averill says that they pick about two dozen songs. This way even the newest members can learn them well allowing the entire group to present an excellent performance rather than a have forty songs to cycle through but that are not performed 100%. As anyone who has experienced a show knows, March Fourth Marching Band brings their “A” game every show no matter how many times they have played any song on a tour. One thing John mentioned was, that although troupe members can have a bad day, they can’t bring it to the stage. It’s hard to imagine a sour mood lasting through their show unless the audience just didn't connect and join in the fun. The band itself provides interactivity but it is the other element of March Fourth Marching Band, the stilters and the acrobats that step that crowd participation up ten-fold. When not performing choreographed acrobatics to some of the slower songs, these four are dancing with everyone. Averill explained the process of adding the acrobatic/dance elements. The band works out the songs first and decides which are going into the setlist. They are then handed off to the performance team, who pick the numbers they will work with. When the choreography is completed it is presented back to the band and the final
product is worked out. Returning to the subject of turn-over and growth, it turns out that not the entire troupe is on tour. According to Nayana, “To be honest, I don't even really know how many people are "in" the band. The roster is slightly different every tour, and many of the performer slots can be filled by two or more individuals, depending on who is available. About half to 2/3 of the group is on the road all the time, but the rest swap in and out as schedules allow. Probably about 35 different people have toured with M4 this year, and the normal roster including crew is around 21: 5 percussion, 6 horns, 2 guitar, 4 stilt/dancer/acrobats, 1 sound tech, 1 roadie/light tech, 1 or 2 drivers, 1 merch person.” Members not touring their asses off are far from sitting on theirs back in Portland. March Fourth Marching Band also runs the Joy Now Project which provides education and training in musical performance and circus arts for children and youth from ages 8 to 18. It includes workshops throughout the year and two one-week session day camps in July and August. Kids can hone their skills in instrumental musicianship, stilt walking, acrobatics, juggling and public performance. Then they get to share what they've learned in performances with March Fourth. This year the Joy Now Brigade were part of the Fat Tuesday Birthday
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Celebration with M4. This is a really super opportunity for Portland, OR area kids who are drawn to the arts and provides them not only a safe environment to learn but a sanctuary where they can be part of a community of their peers who have similar interests. For a number of reasons, March Fourth strives at being a sustainable unit. Currently they own their bus (which was in the shop in Colorado at the time of the interview) and turn to the hospitality of the locals to provide a spot to park it along with possible use of their hosts bathrooms along their tour routes. They barter tickets and merch for local produce and eggs, the services of photographers and videographers and printing jobs. Not only does the troupe design but also makes their own costumes and at their shows, along with the usual t-shirts, buttons and other manufactured merch, people can purchase very unique handmade items created by members of March Fourth. There are hats, jewelry and various accessories. In addition to contributing to the sustainability efforts by generating revenue, some items are made from recycled/recovered materials.
Averill says they are far from completely sustainable yet. Even without hotel and meal tabs, they are working ‘paycheck-topaycheck’. “The goal is that we could go on a three week tour and live on the revenue for two or three months. When people can get ahead of the ball we will have reached a goal. Right now we’re not there. We buy groceries and cook on the bus. We have established a network of families, fans and friends around the country who provide parking, showers, food and other help. But we will eventually need some kind of quantum leap exposure to continue to tour.” One of those “leaps” came last year when M4 received an email from Pixar/Disney Pictures asking to license their song “Gospel”. Although Nayana says that they don’t know the real story, the rumor is that someone went to, long-time Pixar scoring genius, Randy Newman with “Gospel” and asked that he write something similar for Monsters University. He was unable to come up with anything that passed muster so Pixar/Disney went to the source. In the end M4 took the licensing deal and “Gospel” initially played in the background of the film’s trailer. Later
it was added to the closing credits. Averill says with more deals like this they can definitely take the band to the next level. What is that next level? Well part of it is something that is happening as this goes to press. Yet another challenge is the troupe’s name. Booking agents are having a difficult time getting gigs because venues, sponsors and other artists they might tour with immediately think about ticket sales based on people’s perceptions. “College students, for example, see ‘marching band’ in the name and decide they’re not going to pay $20 to see something that is a half-time show.”. So rebranding/renaming are being worked on. At this point they’re not sure what that will be. They may retain the “March Fourth” part or go with the nickname local fans gave them, M4. The issue will be sorted out when the rest of the band returns to Portland from the current tour. Besides the rebranding March Fourth Marching Band also hopes to record and release their fifth studio album when they are reunited. Averill says to look for a new LP in 2015. Their last release was in 2011 so there is a good deal of new material to work with.
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THE PIXELATED PORTRAIT OF COURAGE
CHRIS SAUNDERS BY K ATH Y CR EI G HTO N
igital artist Chris Saunders resides in Los Angeles where he has carved his own niche in the tribes. However, the road that led there stretches all the way across the US. Saunders began drawing and painting as a child on the outskirts of Boston in Holliston, Massachusetts. As he told his story to someone familiar with Boston culture, his roots became evident. Although definitely affected by Southern California, within Saunders lives a spirit that is “strong.” This artist’s box of creative tools is one that plugs into the wall. Graphic designers are a dime-a dozen these days, but Saunders isn’t the average computer artist. His work is not an assignment for ad copy. It’s definitely not content for a graphic novel or comic book. It has graced one or two album covers and concert stages though. Self-taught in a variety of still and motion image software, he takes computers into a realm that combines the realistic with the fantastic. With what he feels is some Divine intervention, Chris Saunders is continually taking new steps to expand the use of technology to take art places it has not been yet. A diagnosis of ADHD had Chris labeled “problem child” early on. Being sent to Catholic school did not provide any help and
he ended back in public schools. Things only picked up downhill speed when at age 12, Chris’ parents divorced. By the time he reached high school, attempts to deal with his anger and depression resulted in a number of problems including alcohol abuse. Surprisingly though, Saunders’ creative spirit survived and he did go on to college. Thinking that getting out of Boston would improve his situation, Chris applied to and was accepted at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. It had a large student body and a broad offering of liberal arts programs. However, it didn’t take long for Chris to discover that the South was not the place for him. He packed up his gear and headed to Maine College of Art in Portland, ME where he found about 200 aspiring hippie artists and a very Bauhaus type of teaching. There was none of the Greek life that was popular at VCU. However, there was not a great deal of emphasis on what Saunders considered preparing artists for the real world either. The rural disconnection seemed to bleed over into curriculum and education attitude. He decided to stay and make the best of it. As he moved through his education at MCoA, he was inspired by the combination of moving images coming together with sound. He worked with manipulating
these to create some kind of an emotion or an experience. He had been experimenting with Macromedia’s Final Cut Pro film editing with the addition of digital graphics. Although the college had equipment, it didn’t offer any classes for the software. So Chris searched and found a two-week seminar in New Jersey that he could take over Winter Break in his senior year. At the time, motion graphics was just starting to emerge as an art form. Saunders had seen bits of it and the more he learned about editing, he was thinking, “Yeah, this is kind of cool, running around shooting film, but how can I incorporate graphics with it?” One day during the class, Chris went to New York City and filmed a lot of footage. Not 100 percent sure of what he was doing he started working with what he had shot. Returning to class the next day, Chris was presented with a demonstration of a piece of software called Combustion. It was the tool Saunders needed to create what he was envisioning for his New York project. Unfortunately, when the demonstrator announced the $5,000 price tag, it seemed that the work would never be completed. Or maybe it would. At the end of the class, there was a drawing for one copy of the program. Chris found the winning number taped to the bottom of his chair.
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Back at school in Maine, Chris set to work teaching himself this new tool. He had returned to New York City and filmed some more, then used that footage along with what he had shot before and created his senior thesis. The more he experimented and learned, the surer he became that this was something he wanted to pursue as a career. After taking a short break upon graduation, he sent copies of the final reel to some motion graphics companies in Los Angeles. He heard back from Brand New School with an offer of work. He flew out, found an apartment, jetted back to Boston, packed up his girlfriend and all their stuff, and drove cross-country thinking everything was set. However, when he reported for work and was greeted with “Do you design or animate?” he suddenly wasn’t feeling so confident. “I had no idea. I didn’t have any formal teaching.” They set him to the task of creating an end-tag for a Sony commercial using Adobe After Effects, an industry standard tool. Chris had never used it before. It had similarities to what he had worked with but he felt he was doomed to fail at getting the project done, as assigned, by the end of the day. He did complete it though and the boss said he had done well and they would call him again for future projects. It was then that the other shoe hit the floor. Brand New School had hired Saunders as a freelancer. Of course, he freaked out. He had just signed a lease. He needed to eat and had bills to pay. He quickly hit the pavement and took a valet driver job along with other odd jobs while seriously considering leaving Los Angeles. Then he discovered another motion graphics studio. As emails and phone calls were getting him nowhere in his job hunt, he decided to actually go to this new company he’d learned about. With reel in hand, determined to put it on the first desk, he came to Chris headed to Stardust only to be met with a locked door. That didn’t stop him though. He waited until someone exited the building and snuck in. He found the biggest office and put the reel on the desk. The person behind the desk said, “Yeah, ok. We’ll look at it and call you.” About three hours later, they did call and eventually hired him, again as a freelancer, to do a pitch of H&R Block. Determined not to blow it this time, Saunders came prepared with his copy of Combustion and once given the concept of the project, he started animating. About halfway through the day, the creative director came up to him and explained that the creation process started with storyboards, not a finished animation. Saunders acted like he knew what the director was talking about. His technical skills in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop were very basic, but he persevered in making the required still
images. Despite his remedial workarounds to produce storyboards, the client was impressed and went with all four of the presentations he submitted. Continuing to teach himself on-the-fly, the company hired Chris full-time, eventually promoted him to art director, and he remained there for four years. In 2006, he left Stardust and freelanced through all the motion studios as a consultant. He was hired to design the looks commercials once they had been assigned to a studio by an ad agency. Saunders became very versatile with animation and digital graphics. He married his girlfriend and life went on cruise control for a while. While his career was going well, Chris’ personal life was not. He’d gotten himself to a very dark place in the effort of playing the game of life by societal rules. In the pursuit of reaching the “happiness” square on the board, he did the marriage thing only to find himself feeling more disconnected. He and his wife became very reclusive and co-
dependent. As depression spiraled downward, he sought help from a psychiatrist who put him on this crazy cocktail of psych meds, none of which seemed to do anything more than mask the problems and their sources. Until one day when Chris found himself sitting in front of the computer, staring at the screen, and watched reality peel away. Besides facing the condition of his relationship with his wife, he faced the ton of spiritual baggage that blocked the light at the core of his soul. The initial reaction to the revelation was an overwhelming sense of alarm and desire to continue running away, but that was followed by the need to just deal with things and not continue to sweep them under the rug. As he began to accept things, he was able to make peace with all of it and the darkness vaporized. He was left with a feeling of absolute peace and love. Chris followed through on his commitment to deal with the causes of the depression. He admitted to his wife that their marriage was not a healthy one and they ISSUE FOURTEEN
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needed to part ways. He stopped taking all the medications and flushed what was left. He moved from Manhattan Beach to Venice, CA. In his own words, “I hit the ‘reset’ button.” In his new surroundings, he was able to begin with a clean slate. He didn’t know anyone there, but with this new perspective, rather than staying inside and hiding, he got out and participated in his vibrant new surroundings. This resulted in artistic visions, which made him review his technical knowledge and skills to make those visions into 70 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUEFOURTEEN FOURTEEN
tangible works. He met a woman who was very spiritual. After spending only five days with her, he found a new muse. While they were dating, it was a drive back from dropping her off at a train station that presented the catalyst for his first gallery piece. Saunders saw an old woman with a huge pile of things under the 405. In her collection was a large, ornate picture frame. Chris bought it from her for $20. He then decided to stop by an art gallery that was hosting a show that was being presented by a couple he knew. They were there and explained
that one of the artists had dropped out and asked him if he would like to fill the vacancy. Saunders was moved by the South American prophecy of the eagle and the condor. He spent three days creating an image from that inspiration to put in the big frame for the show. Today, that process continues to expand. Chris finds doing digital art is one thing, but he misses the hands-on side of art creation. He’s now translating digital graphics into a multitude of mediums. There are laser etchings, animations, stencils, prints, serigraphs and clothing. He’s doing multilayer laser etchings and turning them into 3-D computer images, some of which he animates to become a living installation. He recently had some of his work included in Lady GaGa’s tour. Lucent Dossier has also used his work. Saunder’s art has become very experiential. He says that his website can’t really do it justice. It has reached a level that it needs gallery shows, something that created a new challenge for Chris. Although he had never really had a problem putting his commercial work in the public eye, these new creations were far more personal. Actually sharing them with others made him self-conscious and stirred the fear of judgment. Chris was scared that the art would not get a positive reception. However, when he found the nerve to put some of his work online he was pleasantly surprised with all the positive responses. Opening people’s minds, expanding their consciousness, these things, Chris is sure, are not the result of him personally but something flowing through him. “I’m just here to be the conduit.” And that is something that humbles him and that he is willing to continue being. At 35 years old, Chris Saunders has had a rough but fantastic journey. He married his muse and they are still together today. Meditation and exercise are crucial, having replaced all the pharmaceuticals. He maintains his mental and emotional health holistically. He says, “The mind can be a beautiful tool or it can get in the way” so he makes sure to take the time to get out of his head and rest that mind. This conversation was, according to Chris, the first time he has ever told his story from beginning to end. He felt it was therapeutic, being a visual person, to have to verbalize it. That, in and of itself, was a huge act of courage. Hopefully that bravery will continue to grow because, based on his present collections, the future will be filled with more and more beautiful art from this wonderful artist.
OPINION. SURREALISM. EXTRATERRESTRIALISM.
The Fabulous D Show FROM THE UNDERGROUND: WWW.THEFABULOUSDSHOW.COM
BY FRANK COTOLO
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When I read the headline “Sharon Stone now available for dating,” I immediately fired through my Hollywood contacts to get her latest phone number. The number I had for her no longer worked. It dated back to when she lived with her second husband, Phil Bronstein. When they divorced in 2004, Sharon told me she was not ready to date again much less play Robin Hood and Maid Marion sex games so we drifted apart. I knew the day would come when the very idea of being with her again would arouse me on so many levels so when I read her statement in five different rumor rags, I went into action. It didn’t matter that she turned 56 and her kids were fully grown. I knew she kept herself better than most women, especially those who made a comfortable living as Orson Welles impersonators. When I got the number and called, Sharon laughed when she heard my voice. I remembered she liked the sound of my voice and had told me many times that it “sounded funny.” We talked for a while and she agreed to go on a date with me with a few conditions. She asked that I not wear a cummerbund if it wasn’t a part of a tuxedo and that I refrain from talking about the time I met John Carradine (who was born in Greenwich Village in 1906, the same year my namesake grandfather was born and that the two of them smoked their first cigarettes together while planning to rob a fruit stand on Carmine Street). In fact, John Carradine had the same condition, which is why he and I never met more than once. I planned to pick Sharon up and take her to dinner at Villa Blanca in Beverly Hills. It was expensive, but I had opened a unique bank account for this date and was prepared to blow it all in one night. The dinner check, a rented Porsche from a down-andout actor I knew, and the evening’s attire of high-end masculine merchandise by “the Crocodile” himself, Rene Lacoste, were my expenses. The Lacoste outfit was discounted because I was collecting on a wager from his estate. Before his death in 1996, I had a match with the French tennis champ whose line of clothing is coveted by the rich and famous. I defeated him in the first round. It was quite a victory for me, even though he was 88 at the time and played with one hand tied to his ankle. Sharon was dressed classy but casually. I glided out of the car and to the passenger’s side where I opened the door and politely helped her into the car using the standard police officer’s hand press to be sure her head did not bang against the roof. “This is a newer Porsche,” Sharon said as her fingers did what they could to coiffure her hair. “Yes,” I said. “And it’s your favorite color.” “It isn’t silver.” “No it isn’t. Not the body. I meant the
crankshaft.” Sharon laughed. The valet took my keys after I gently guided Sharon out of the car. Her stylish aspect was stunning in front of the glossy façade of the Villa Blanca. For a moment, I was taken back to the moment I met her. It was on the set of Total Recall. I had helped edit the screenplay, having corrected much of the grammar, like in Sharon’s character’s line, “Doug? Honey, are you alright?” The controversy over “alright” being two words or one had delayed the shooting script’s completion by weeks until I was hired (accepting no screen credit) to pluperfect the written dialogue. Of course, I changed it to two words as Hemingway proved it should be written. When I heard Sharon say the line, meticulously reciting “all right” so it expressed the breath between the two words, I fell for her like a simile in a sonnet. After the day’s shooting I introduced myself, injecting the names of at least five people I knew who grew up in her hometown of Meadville, Pennsylvania. She was available for dating while shooting the movie, having just left husband Michael Greenburg, and she accepted when I asked her to have dinner with me. I remember she said, “You have a risible voice and I like to laugh so maybe we’ll have a good time.” We had a good time and she laughed at my jokes and when I said things like, “Waiter, may we have more water?” and “My mother almost died giving birth to me.” But the night was boosted by uproarious intimacy that lasted until the next afternoon when the costumes we borrowed were due back at Paramount’s wardrobe department. When we parted, I was madly in love with her and convinced I would never see her again. When I said, “Goodnight and I hope we may be together again,” her laughter was near asphyxiating. Our table at the Villa Blanca was subtly placed in the corner of the dining room, just outside the hallway to the kitchen. I pulled her chair out in a gentleman’s gesture, silently, and Sharon sat. Then I sat across from her, almost slipping on a patch of grease to the right of my chair. “I just want you to know,” she said as she placed her napkin on her alluring lap, “that anything having transpired between us years ago, although incontrovertible, is
infeasible this time around.” I smiled and said, “That’s a shame because I look so much better in tights these days.” She laughed and I convinced myself it was the comedy and not the sounds inciting her behavior, though deep down inside I thought it wasn’t that at all. “You are aging so well,” Sharon said as she perused the bulky menu. “Decomposing quickly is not programmed in my DNA.” Of course she laughed, but it was merely a giggle this time. “Do you practice any special health programs?” “I steer clear of Belladonna.” A gentle laugh forced her head back. “The poison or the porn star?” “Both. And believe me, the former is more difficult to pass up than the latter,” I said, snapping my fingers for the waiter’s attention. All through dinner, Sharon laughed with a variety of dynamics. I convinced myself that no matter what caused her laughter, she was enjoying her time with me. I knew I was lying to myself, but sometimes lies were necessary to take the sting out of the truth (which, by the way, is often a hyperbolic notion). As it turned out, dinner was on the house after a kitchen fire spread to the main room (I noticed the flames forming on the patch of grease next to my chair). In no time, mega-masculine firemen escorted all patrons out of danger (one was Mr. July. Sharon noticed from a calendar she had hanging in her home office). She asked me back to her house for drinks so I drove us there after brushing off the restaurant fire’s ash and debris from the Porsche. We drank and talked about AIDS research, subarachnoid hemorrhaging, Joe Pesci’s fall from fame, Michael Douglas’ theory connecting oral sex with cancer, describing her ass as a fine triple crème brie and her desire to get a tattoo on her butt that reads “You wish you could get a bite of this,” how men make her sick and how she doesn’t need any men in her life. As the sun lighted the sky with hues and the wavy smoke that is Los Angeles smog at daybreak, I told Sharon that I felt the same way, that men make me sick and I don’t need any in my life. Sharon smiled from ear to ear, swept the silk bed covers off of us, leaned heavily into me while intertwining her legs with mine and said, “You say some very fucking funny things that make me laugh.” I probably will never see her again, I thought as I planted a warm kiss on her lips, but at least I found out she was laughing at my jokes and not my voice, or at the least, the harmony of the sound and the words. Now if I could only confirm why she was laughing after claiming to have had an orgasm, I could sleep better for the rest of my life.
expressing the voice within BY M A RG ERUITE O’CO NNELL
Art is the expression of the soul and music, the soul’s outburst.*
his is a romantic notion born of the desire to understand artistic inspiration. It is also an enduring one, if the many variations on this theme found by a simple Google search are any indication. But contemplating the sheer number to whom this conclusion (in some form) has been attributed leads inevitably to the question: Is the idea that the soul communicates through art repeated so often because it is, on some level, true? Certainly any doubts I may have had about the source of artistic inspiration were erased while talking with Chris and Rob Culos about Scream Creature – the awesome alternative/indie rock band the brothers never planned to start. It is the story of how a simple desire of two brothers to create music with one another morphed into a band, with three sold-out shows at the legendary Troubador and a self-titled debut EP. Scream Creature is Chris Culos on drums - he is also drummer of the well-known jam band O.A.R., his brother Robert Culos on vocals and guitar, and multi-instrumentalist Danny Chaimson on keyboards, backing vocals and more. To Chris and Rob Culos, the band’s name symbolizes that ‘thing’ we all have inside us that just needs to come out; hearing the voice inside that keeps saying, “You’ve got to do this,” and finding some way to give it expression. The voice inside the Culos’ brothers was insistent that they needed to create music together and fans of good music will be very glad they listened. During my conversations with Chris and Rob, it became clear that Scream Creature first took root years ago, in their mother’s basement. The Culos home was always full of music — their dad was a drummer, their Mom a dancer — and as soon as they could hold sticks, both brothers started to play on drum sets their dad kept in the basement. According to Rob, the basement was where it was at for them, “The basement is where we jammed. Half the time someone would say, “Hey, you want to go play basketball, go skateboard, or do you want to go jam? It was just really fun growing up.” Chris still finds the basement magical, “There has just always been something about my Mom’s basement. There’s this energy and sound down there that is just super inspiring and we still go down there any chance we get.” It was in this same basement that O.A.R. was founded by Chris and his childhood friend, lead singer Marc Roberge, and where Rob watched every band practice and taught himself how to play guitar. While Chris and Rob grew up playing music together for fun, they both wanted to work on creating real music with one another. However, with Chris touring over 200 days a year with O.A.R., there was little time to do more than just jam. Over a period of time they did manage to work on a couple songs together and a series of decisions that first led the brothers to a recording studio in Chicago, resulted in the formation of the band and in May of this year, the release of their debut EP, ScreamCreature. Chris and Rob finally gave voice to the music that had been inside them all these years, just waiting to come out. With its retro rock vibe built on electric guitar and distortion, vocals that have an almost folk-rock feel, and synthesized sounds that add a little progressive rock swagger with touches of Pink Floydesque psychedelia, they have crafted a unique and awesome sound. Despite their busy schedules — Chris out on tour with O.A.R. and Rob at work in San Francisco — they both took time to talk with me about how Scream Creature came to be and what plans they have for the band in the future. There is nothing I love more than to have a great conversation with artists whose debut EP has earned a spot on my favorites playlist, except maybe being able to share that conversation with their future fans. *The quote: “Music is an outburst of the soul” is attributed to Frederick Delius
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Why – with a full-time gig with O.A.R did you decide to start a new band with your brother Rob, and Danny Chaimson? CHRIS: I don't know that we necessarily thought we were starting a band. It goes back longer than that. Honestly, we can say that O.A.R.'s first fan was my brother Rob. He was the guy watching us play in the basement before we were really even a band. He was at every practice, watching and listening. When band practice was over Rob would pick up the guys’ guitars and just kind of mess around. Then, at the next practice he would ask them questions and have them show him chords. Pretty soon he had taught himself how to play and had started writing his first songs. When I went off to college, Rob would send me some of his ideas and songs and I encouraged him to keep writing. And when he went off to college, he continued to write and send ideas and songs to me. Fast-forward a bit, we were out of college and living together in Chicago when Rob played one of his songs for me, and I knew there was definitely something there. We just kind of jammed it out, working on that song. It had been a little while since the two of us had actually played and it was really fun. Fast forward again, and we were both back home in Maryland for the holidays and went down in the basement to work and write some more. Fast forward again and while I was still living in Chicago, I invited him to come there so we could work in a proper studio and take his songs to the next level. He did and as we were working I realized that this was really going to be cool. I thought if we could bring somebody in to help fill out everything, above what the two of us were doing, then this could actually become something. And it just dawned on us that our buddy Danny Chaimson could do that. He came into the studio and the chemistry was just immediately like, “Oh my god, this has a sound.” It was exactly what you are looking for when starting a band. And from that moment on we knew this was something we could do. It was no longer just a fun experiment in the studio or brothers trying to connect and make some fun memories; this was a real project. It was just kind of like, “We have a name. We have a sound. Let’s move forward with it.” And bringing Danny Chaimson on was really cool because Rob and I both had our own connection to him. I met Danny when O.A.R. went to Chicago for the first time and we opened for his band, Left Undone. The two bands totally hit it off and toured with one another for years. Eventually the guys in Left Undone went their separate ways and then Danny was a touring member of O.A.R. for about one year. And Rob knew Danny from college - they attended the University of Wisconsin together. I think Rob 76 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE FOURTEEN
actually introduced Danny to his wife. So the basement during practices. I eventually when we came together in the studio, it was went on the road with them, working summers during college. It was a cool because just a really fun fit with a lot of chemistry. I met people from all over the country at So ScreamCreature is the first time school and was able to say, "Hey, I'm going to be in your town this summer." And while you’ve been in a band together? ROB: Yes, I was a little too young when it was fun, life on the road is tough. Those Chris and his friends formed O.A.R., plus summers put me off wanting to be out on I only played drums at that age, and they the road touring as a musician because it is had a drummer. Chris, Marc (Roberge, lead really hard, while still just the most fun job singer for O.A.R.) and Richard (On, guitarist ever. But as far as Chris and I working on for O.A.R.) were the main members in those music together, it was actually only in the years - they have been friends since middle last 10 years or so that I played a song for school – and I was always down there in Chris and he said we should work on it.
So in a way Chris saying, "Wait a minute. There's something here” about one of your songs was the catalyst for the eventual birth of Scream Creature? ROB: Yeah. It was the song "Bonfire," which is on the EP, that had Chris saying for the first time, "Let's play that." Then, after we worked on “Bonfire” and the song "Stand and Scream" Chris said, "There's something here." He suggested booking some real studio time for a day, to go in and try to get at least like a scratch vocal version of "Stand and Scream.” And that led to the addition of Danny - who just totally makes the band work with all these different tex-
tures and ideas – six completed tracks, and an EP [laughs]. We realized that we had something that we were really excited about and we figured we should take it seriously. We all have other lives with wives, jobs and kids - so our goal was never to take over the world and hit the road as a touring band. It was really more just figuring out how we were going to put this together creatively. The idea behind the name Scream Creature is that there is a kind of animal or beast within us – for us, it’s music – and we had to let it out. Some people might call it their gut intuition or their sixth sense, but Chris and I have always found catharsis
in the physical aspect of making music, whether banging on the drums or putting together the chord progression. We grew up jamming together, but inside it was like there was a subconscious need to make real music together. And we had to work hard to not lose that and to make time for it. And while it's awesome to hear that people are connecting to the music, in a very real sense we just had to let it out. That's the whole concept behind the name Scream Creature. We've been meaning to do this our whole life and it was just time to do it. It's been really cathartic to finally let it out. ISSUE FOURTEEN
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Chris lives in Nashville now, Rob in San Francisco, and Danny is still in Chicago. How did you even manage to get in the studio and finish an EP? CHRIS: At the time I was still living in Chicago and we scheduled a weekend for Rob to come visit and for us to go into the studio. And it wasn't one weekend where we recorded all six songs. We did this over multiple sessions. We tracked live as much as we could because it was only a trio. So we would definitely get a live drum take. Then Rob would play either guitar or bass. And then Danny would come in and play keyboard, bass guitar, and then they would work on their vocal parts. Danny was great because he is a songwriter with kind of a producer's ear and heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a multi-instrumentalist, so he could come up with different parts and ideas to help fill the tracks out. He brought a lot to the table that way. He also brought a lot to the vocals. I mean, I don't sing at all. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m completely tone deaf and have zero knowledge about it. So for him to actually be able to work on harmony parts with Rob just took it to a new level. Tell me about the song writing process for Scream Creature. ROB: All of the songs on the EP started with me in my living room writing acoustic songs on my guitar. Once we got in the studio, Chris and Danny would add their parts, then we talked about the songs structure, suggested changes, and gave our opinion on what sounded better as we built the final version of each track. There were definitely points in time in the studio where we all had different opinions on where we wanted to go and what we wanted the tracks to sound like. We spent a lot of time mixing and mastering and trying to get sounds right. As far as my part in the process, I am still developing as a lyricist and am working on developing my songwriting craft. I respect the craft behind song writing and am not trying to write the perfect, bubblegum, committee-pop song. But as I was listening to "Crying" by Aerosmith the other day - a perfect example of a committee pop song - I was like, "Holy shit. Every word is perfect. Every change is perfect." And of course you have Aerosmith singing it! In the past I always thought of myself as just the songwriter and believed that at some point in time, an amazing singer was going to step in, take over, and just wail [laughs]. To some degree, I guess that's what I did by getting Chris and Danny. They actually fleshed these songs out into "real tunes" that sounded like what I heard in my head when I wrote them. 78 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE FOURTEEN
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“When we were playing, I just remember being on stage and being totally in the moment and saying it doesn’t matter what happens in the future. It doesn’t matter what has happened in the past. This is happening right now and I just wanted to have as much fun as possible in that moment.” I'm still kind of hoping that one day we will find a really good singer, [laughs] because I only sing by necessity. I don't consider myself a singer, but for now I'm trying to embrace the role of front man. This has definitely been a labor of love for me [laughs]. Did you know at the beginning of the process what kind of sound you wanted or was that something that developed over time as you worked on each track in the studio? CHRIS: I think we probably had a strong idea of the sound we wanted. It had really been my hearing the song "Bonfire" that brought this whole project to life. Rob and I first worked together on the song "Stand And Scream," and that immediately had a kind of positive vibe and energy to it. But if that song was the positive side to the energy, we thought there could be a darker, more negative side to balance it out. "Bonfire" was the exact opposite side of the spectrum. And when we went into the studio, Danny brought the sounds and textures to it that made it exactly what we thought Scream Creature’s sound was. And although we did not want to make a full 10-track album, we did want the tracks to fit together and have the feeling of a fully evolved voyage, like you get when listening to an album. So we chose six songs for the EP that fit the right aesthetic, and that we also felt fit the Scream Creature story. ROB: You know, I've played with a number of different people and what always ends up happening is that you end up with a sound unique to the group of people playing together. It's like some weird "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" kind of thing, or like when three people talk at once you hear a “new” voice, not each individual's voice. We each have our own major musical influences, so there wasn't just one definite sound that we went in to the studio looking for. I was more thinking just to go in and record the songs with some really cool tones and layers. We didn’t go in with a definite idea, like "let's make a rock album." It was just - let's go record these songs. It all kind of flowed from there. 80 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE FOURTEEN
How did it feel to play three sold out shows at the legendary Troubador, in West Hollywood? ROB: I'm still high. Like, I am totally still high from playing those shows. It was a dream. It was amazing. During the run up to the shows I would occasionally go on the Troubador website to see who was playing there that night. And I would go and see the history of all the bands that played there in the 60's and 70's and I was just blown away. When we were playing, I just remember being on stage and being totally in the moment and saying it doesn't matter what happens in the future. It doesn't matter what has happened in the past. This is happening right now and I just wanted to have as much fun as possible in that moment. A lot of people, including me, struggle with just enjoying what's happening and not thinking about anything else. I don't know when I've felt more alive than I did those three nights. It was totally a dream and like I said, I am still high. CHRIS: Total dream come true. I mean, when we started the project it was like oh, this is something that would be fun to do. Then obviously it turned into a real project and became, oh, this is something we can actually release. And then we had the opportunity to open for O.A.R. at the Troubadour. We went from thinking that maybe we might be able to play a show somewhere to getting to play at the legendary Troubadour in Los Angeles for three sold out shows. It was very cool to do double duty and play with both bands. I get to sit every night and watch Marc, who I think is one of the best front men I have ever seen, live. So it was fun to watch my brother get up there in front of a microphone for the first time, and handle it very well, then build off of that and come into his own as a front man the next two nights, and engage the crowd. It was just really cool to sit behind him on stage. I was really proud. Was it hard to translate some of the music for a live performance? ROB: Luckily Chris, Danny and I were able to bring in our good friends Ethan Phillips on bass and Ross Grant on guitar. I was in awe of their talent and in awe of the
band that we put together. They are just so talented and have tons of experience on stage and even if our arrangement of a song didn't sound exactly like it did on the record, we were just going to go out there and rock and have fun. And it all turned out exactly as I pictured it in my head. Which never happens. It was perfect — playing three nights at the Troubador with my brother and good friends in front of a crowd full of LA friends? It was a dream. CHRIS: We put together our dream team band. It was Rob, Danny and I and the two guys we always had in mind to ask if we got the chance to play a show. Ethan Philips is my favorite bass player of all time. He plays every note with so much heart. And Ross Grant on guitar, who is someone we have played with off and on for years and is just phenomenal. He is a ‘never missed a note in 20 years’ kind of a guy. When they were available to do the shows with us it was like a total dream come true. What are the plans for Scream Creature in the future? CHRIS: We are definitely going to make more music at some point. We are really talking about playing some more shows. Obviously, I am on the road constantly with O.A.R. and we all have families so we started with a vague idea that we'd like to do something in the future. But after the Troubadour shows went so well, now we feel like we have to go play some more shows. So we are looking to do something in the midwest or on the East Coast, maybe in the fall. There is a little bit of down time between this tour and the next O.A.R. tour where we could meet in Chicago or New York and do something. ROB: As far as a few realistic goals for the band, we would like to get back in the studio, and towards that goal, we are really concentrating on writing right now. We also want to book more shows and just get together more. We had such a good time on this album that it's more about getting some tunes out and having it be a really fun project, than it is calculating how to become the biggest band in the world. I mean we are doing this totally for us, and the songs I write are just for us, and we are having a ton of fun with it. I hope that comes across in the music. Who are the bands or artists that have most influenced you when you were younger? CHRIS: Pearl Jam, without a doubt. Watching them on Unplugged on MTV in 8th grade made me want to start my first band. Genesis, from even earlier on. That was our first favorite band. Marc and I have been best friends since we were kids and always hung out after school together.
when I worked in the movie industry, I've always worked in music. Music is just part of who I am and I love that right now I have the freedom to have fun and make the kind of music I want. You kind of see the same story over and over and over again of a celebrity who wanted fame, and when they get it they hate it. Somewhere along the line people need to wise up and realize that what they should be after is to do the thing they love and want to do, not being famous.
Marc's older brother was probably in high school at that time (we were only in elementary school) and he had Genesis Live - The Mama Tour, on VHS tape. We watched it every day after school. Phil Collins would do this big drum off with Chester Thompson and it was just the coolest thing ever. I also always liked Bob Dylan and the story based acoustic song writing. I'm just a fan of music and I love these days that it is so different than when I was growing up. Back then you listened to say, rock music and you just liked the music you listened to and those were the videos you watched. There were even certain hours on MTV that played certain types of music. But I was never like that. I was a DJ because I liked having play lists of different music, mix-tapes and things like that. And I think we are finally now in an era where people are really into that. You can jump from one thing to the next. Good music is good music as far as I am concerned. ROB: There's so many, I literally don't even know where to start [laughs]. I can say that when I was 12 and 13 years old, which is when you really start listening to your own music in a meaningful way, that bands like Oasis, Counting Crows, and Nirvana were the biggest bands on the planet. And I think those guitar tones, song structure, and that
whole 90's feel of “4 guys in a dirty basement” is where my comfort zone is. Everyone from The Beatles to Beck has had an influence on me, but the bands that I was listening to when I first started writing songs probably had the greatest influence. When did you first realize that your answer to the question, “What do you want to do when you grow up,” was music? CHRIS: The 8th grade talent show. I played with my first band, Exposed Youth. It was Marc and Richard from OAR, and me, and we played a Pearl Jam song called "Porch," off their first album. We also played Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight." But instead of the slow ballad-like version, we did our own upbeat cover. It kind of had an almost Reggae influence. We were on stage, the curtains were closed and there was an announcer out in front saying that we were about to go on and the crowd went wild. Until this day we joke in O.A.R. that it was the loudest show we’ve ever played in our lives [laughs]. When the curtains opened up, people started screaming and that was it. I got the bug and playing music was all I wanted to do for the rest of my life. ROB: I just always loved music. Right now I'm a producer at Rhapsody, a music streaming company. Except for a few years
What are you listening to right now – who are the artists and albums on your favorites playlist? CHRIS: That's a great question. I really like this album by an artist named Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. It came out this year, but sounds like a country album that could have been recorded in the 1970's. It is such a cool record. I really like Jack White - he's just so creative and so innovative and it is always cool to check out what he is up to. I'm a big fan of Beck, especially the albums Sea Change and Morning Phase, his latest one. There's an acoustic foundation yet these really cool modern or current sounds - almost futuristic sounds - that kind of blend in. There are also some electronics that he likes to do, whether it is the drums or some cool loops and samples, that Scream Creature definitely drew influence from. ROB: I totally dig Sam Smith right now. I've also been listening to this band, The Revivalists that is really cool. And honestly for the last two days I have been on a total binge of The Roots. Like I have been listening to every single album by The Roots, front to back, for some reason I don't even know. I've been listening to all their old stuff. Okay, last question: Fourculture readers want to know what your four favorite things are, the four things you couldn't, or just don't want to, live without? ROB: My son. My wife. My computer. My guitar. I'd be happy if I was on a desert island with just those four things. CHRIS: Why is it the questions that should be easiest to answer are always the hardest [laughs]? My laptop. A pair of drumsticks. P90X. Sugar-free Red Bull [laughs]. Sugar free Red Bull [laughs] that sounds great. CHRIS: No, it doesn't sound great. It's an awful answer. Later I'm going to think, “Why didn't I say something awesome [laughs]?"
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ecently, I got the chance to bring together two of my greatest passions; sharing music through Fourculture Magazine and being a part of Zumba® Fitness. My two very different worlds collided in the form of one man; Dahrio Wonder. From his beginnings as a professional dancer and choreographer with some of the industry’s biggest names, Dahrio Wonder turned his attention to expressing himself through music and made a name for himself with his very first album, Wonderland, released in 2007. The magic continued with the release of his second album, Wonder, in 2010. With roots in everything from soul and R&B to pop and house, Dahrio’s music is infectious, making you move and putting a smile in your soul. From sexy to soulful to downright danceable, Dahrio Wonder does it all with grace and energy that inspires everyone he comes in contact with. Most recently, his music has been used by the Zumba® Fitness program, reaching millions of people worldwide, making them get off their seats and dance. His song “Came Here to Party” has become the rally cry for Zumba® instructors and participants around the world. He’s also appeared as a featured dancer on the Zumba® Fitness Exhilerate DVDs along with his girlfriend and Zumba® Education Specialist, Gina Grant. Dahrio and Gina are currently touring together as part of the #cameheretoparty Tour, spreading Dahrio’s music and the energy of a Zumba® class everywhere they go. The party came close to my home town and, barring any great catastrophe, I wasn’t going to miss it! This was a collision of my writing world and my Zumba® world that I welcomed with open arms and it was a night I won’t soon forget. I took the chance to sit down with Dahrio before the show and discuss his career, what inspires him, and how he and Gina keep it all together.
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Thanks for taking the time to do this for us before the show! Hey, thank you! I appreciate you reaching out. Well, we just love what you do with both your music and your dancing. How did you get your start? Did you come from a musical family? Yeah. I come from a dance family and an acting family. My father was an actor and my mom’s a dancer and I used to play sports. I would go with my mom to rehearsals every week and I would just kind of sit on the side and I started memorizing the dancing, all the moves. Before I knew it I was on the floor dancing with them and in shows and doing all of that so dancing has just kind of been a part of my upbringing since I was very, very young. Becoming a professional dancer at 17 and moving to LA and dancing for various artists, I always had a want to do music from the vocal side and a writing stand point but I just didn’t know where to start. I just started writing songs and writing poems and those poems turned into songs. I got with some producers and started putting those songs to music and just kind of got into this music thing as a transition from being a dancer and wanting to do more. Moving from the dancing into the singing then, what has been the biggest challenges for each of them? Have you faced sort of the same challenges or have there been differences between the two worlds? The challenges in the dance world are that there are so many dancers! There are so many dancers going for the same dream so in auditioning, you have to have thick skin. You have to be used to rejection. You’re going to get told “no” 9 times out of 10 but it’s all about that 1 time that you get told “yes”. You get that job and it may lead to other jobs. It’s about the relationships you make with the dancers, with the directors, with the producers, with the artists. Sort of about who you know? Yeah! It is all about who you know because the industry is based on relationships — straight up. It’s 95% business and relationships and 5% talent. In the dance world, just getting used to rejection is always a challenge for some people. That’s why so many people don’t make it. It’s the same in the music world though. I think in some ways it’s harder because there’s so many musicians and singers and rappers and producers and directors and everybody likes what they like. Sometimes it’s hard to get people to like what you’re doing. But I feel the best thing to do in that situation is just do you. Just do what your heart tells you
to do. Don’t try to be like somebody else or sound like somebody else to fit in. Just do what you do and if you get 1 person to like it, you’ve won. If you get ten people to like it, you’ve won. If you get a hundred people, a thousand people, a million people, you’ve won. I think some people get into this music game with the wrong intentions. I think the intention should be to inspire and to motivate and to change somebody’s day or life. So do you think that’s what’s wrong with a lot of the music today? I do think so! You think about a lot of the music from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, even the 80s and 90s…a lot of that music was very motivational and inspirational from a love side, from a romantic side, from a social side. All of those songs had messages, whether it was about war or about love and peace or about romance or heartbreak, about making love or making babies or building a family. All of the music had so much substance to it that it motivated people through the times, through hard times and good times. The music now is kind of like everybody is trying to have that same sound. The substance has been compromised for good beats and good rhythms. It’s not really about the lyrics anymore; it’s about the beat or the hook. That’s just kind of the way of the time, but there are artists who try to stick to that old school way of doing music and keep that message in there to inspire people. That’s what I try to do as well. What I try to motivate the most is good times, good living, happy living, like Zumba®.
Absolutely! And speaking of Zumba® was that kind of a really great marriage of sorts for you? You’ve got some songs out there with Zumba® now, like “I Came Here to Party” or “Sexy Ladies” and now “Danza” that you did with DJ Francis, so now you’re mixing your music with your dance. Yeah, that’s the perfect match. It just fit together perfectly and I understand it because I come from the dance world and I’m used to the music world so understanding the fuse was easy for me. Understanding what made people move in their dance classes is just easy. I understand it. I know it. When I was putting these songs together, I was able to visualize how people would move to it or how they would feel when they listened to it. So yeah, like you said, it’s a perfect marriage. You had put out a couple of albums, Wonderland in 2007 and Wonder in 2010, but you’ve been doing more singles recently. The music is a great mix of more dance tunes, but then also very R & B songs like “The Show”. From a writer’s standpoint, I like to write love songs and those mid-tempo ballads and the R & B joints. I like writing those. There’s that side of me, that very romantic, very lovemaking… Yeah…that song is hot! (laughs) Thank you. I like to do those types of songs because I can get really creative from a writer’s standpoint, a vocal arrangement standpoint. I can travel a bit more vocally. I went to school in the 90s,
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ing to go on there. I probably will record like twenty songs but I’ll only pick 6. And EPs seem sort of the way to go these days. How many people buy a whole album anymore? EPs and Mixtapes are really the way of the time now. So who are some of your favorite artists? Prince. I love Prince. He’s a very big inspiration. Raphael Saadiq is another one. D’Angelo, Musiq Soulchild, Adrian Marcel which is my little brother, Madonna, Usher. From the old school side, James Brown, Donnie Hathaway, and Marvin Gaye of course. I should say Boys 2 Men too. I listened to them so much and through the years, I really didn’t forget about them but there’s so much other music and they hadn’t been putting anything out. But, I went to see them a couple months ago in Vegas and it just took me back to that perfect time in my life so they’re another big inspiration to me wanting to sing. When I started to sing, me and my friends were singing Boys 2 Men songs. Did you do all the moves and everything? No, we didn’t do all the moves! We weren’t really a good singing group. There were 2 guys that were tone deaf and then only 3 of us that could actually hold a note. It was more so for the looks and to get girls. I’m guessing it was in the days before YouTube. It was! And I’m glad because there would have been some bad shit out there from us! Some of them are still my friends, but I’m the only one who really took the path and did something with it.
so all the R & B I listened to was about love and romance and how I can turn you on or get you to notice me; I’ll make love to you, I’m down on bended knee, come and talk to me, all those type of messages. That’s ingrained in me so when I write that music, it’s always from a romance side. I love doing the R & B joints and you know, with Zumba® they are the perfect cool-downs. You dance and then you cool down and then you go home with that image… Yeeaah…I don’t know that a song like “The Show” really cools anyone down! 88 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE FOURTEEN
And now here you are on the #cameheretoparty Tour with Gina Grant. With us being a couple, I’ve been touring with her since 2011 really, with her and Tanya (Beardsley) at first. We didn’t really do much last year, but this year we wanted to do something and “Came Here to Party” was really put out there by Zumba®. They It’s kind of like a starter for later on. used it for a lot of their campaigns and promotions and we did the video and every(laughs) thing so we decided when we wanted to get and do this again we might as well call So are you looking to do a little more of out it #cameheretoparty so that’s what we’re that in the future? Another album? coming to do! Yeah, I am! I actually have started working on some new songs that are more R & What’s been your favorite part of it so B driven, a little less dancy stuff. I’ve been far? writing the dance stuff for like the last 3 years The connections with the different comso I want to go back and do some of the oth- munities around Europe, Canada, and here er stuff now too. I’m working on a 6 song EP in the US. Every city has been different and right now and I’m being very, very particular I mean that in a good way. There haven’t about the music that I get and what’s go- really been any bad memories. Oh! There
was one bad memory but that had to do with crowd, so we know how much that means the Canadian border. (laughs) But other than to them to see us in the crowd when they come offstage. And even the boys, they that…. have basketball games and everything. We always try to schedule everything around That can be a challenge these days! It was a challenge, but we got through the kids and what they’re doing. it. It was just God testing our character, but yeah, the best part has been getting close to That’s commendable because a lot of the community and talking to people. We can’t people in the entertainment business spend a lot of time with everyone but as long just kind of do their thing and somebody as you extend a hug, a how you doing, and a says “go here” and they jump. So I apthank you for coming, it’s a connection. I love plaud you for that. Yeah, we really try. I mean, it’s hard and to see people’s faces smiling and dancing. there have been a couple of times where With all the crazy schedules you and there’s been stuff on the weekends, but very Gina both carry with the tour and every- few. We just try to make family first and the thing you do, how do you keep it ground- kids first and other things too; anniversaries, ed with kids and everything? How do birthdays, graduations. We try to be there for everything. you manage it all? Well, we only tour during the weekends. When we were scheduling it, we So what’s the next level for you? Well, for me, I’m working on releasing tried to schedule around everything the kids had to do. There was couple of months in this EP, hopefully by the end of the year. I there where we didn’t schedule anything don’t want to rush it, but I don’t want to take because the girls had dance competitions too long either. Then I just want to find other every week. We wanted to make sure that avenues to get my music out to the masses we were there for them. We know how im- worldwide, airplay and travel to other counportant it is to support them. We come to tries and take this tour to more international places and we want to see people in the destinations and connect with more people
PHOTOGRAPH BY DON RIEBER over there. We’ve been to Canada and Europe and the US with this tour, but we’d like to get to Australia and Asia and the Middle East and even Russia. Just to take this thing and get it out there more and introduce my music to more people who haven’t heard it. Of course, I’m going to do more music with Zumba® as well. It’s an easy fit for me and I have a really good relationship with Beto and the guys there so hopefully that’s a relationship that can continue through the years. Awesome! Well, we’ve got a class to get to and everyone is ready to dance, so one last thing: What are your four favorite things, the four things you just can’t do without? -I can’t do without my family. -I can’t do without my lucky pinky ring. I bought it at 18 with my own money and it’s like my first big purchase. I always have it on. It’s my good luck charm. -I can’t do without the TV. I love to watch TV when I can. I’ve been into this Power series on Starz and before that it was King of Queens. -I can’t do without music. Music is the way of life. It’s the beat we all walk to.
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November 28, 1862. You remember what you were doing then? No, of course not. Some of you weren’t even a State, and you were definitely not United. Yes, up in the Boston Mountains the Union soldiers were pushing back the Confederates, and meanwhile, over in England, a football team by the name of Notts County was being formed. I’m not saying this to start yet another boring conversation about how England has a greater history than America. This is not a point-scoring exercise, but there is something about how football has been cultivated at grass roots level here in the UK. When I first came to London, I spent many summer evenings and most weekends playing football in between the labyrinths of pathways that criss-cross Hyde Park creating irregularly shaped football pitches. “Jumpers for goalposts” is a well-worn English phrase. Literally, we turn up with a ball in hand, find an expanse of grass, and take off articles of clothing to form the posts for the goals. There is no net and no crossbar yet many, many an argument about whether the latest shot went in or ‘over the post’ or was too high over the ‘keeper’s head. These arguments happen in multiple languages. Each team being made up of groups of English, Nigerians, Spaniards, Italians, Jamaicans, Iraqis; anyone who has turned up just to have a kick about with like-minded enthusiasts of ‘the beautiful game.’ I’m sure this happens in America too, but until it becomes a regular part of life or part of the routine, I very much doubt you can truly fall in love with this game. You’re trying to run before you can walk. You’re taking shortcuts, looking to have famous millionaires kick-start the big leagues. You need to treat the less glamorous with the love and respect it deserves. You can’t always just watch “the big game.” The World 90 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE FOURTEEN
Cup is fun because you know everyone else is watching. There’s never a game played out in front of 1,278 people where no one else really cares. So why should you bother at all? In case you haven’t guessed, I’m afraid I want to talk to you about what we call Football. We invented it so we should know. Football, then: Who is the oldest football league club in the world? Yes, Notts County. Who cares? Me! I support them. I want to illustrate what it’s like to be a football fan. I can’t think of a better way to describe what it means than to talk you through the last day of the last football season. So indulge me this tale of hope and redemption from the present day, or rather Saturday the third of May 2014. I am outside a gas station and I’m throwing my guts up round the corner where the bins are. My head is pounding and I can’t really contemplate the remaining 3-hour journey that I have to drive back home. My friend comes back from the shop and I’ve only just taken a couple of pills and I’m wondering if I should take two more. “Do you want to stop for a bit longer?” he asks. I do not. I want to go home to bed. I climb back in the car and we set off gingerly. Rewind an hour or so. We’re speeding along in the outside lane of the M60 Motorway near Oldham, which is near Manchester, which is near London if you’re looking at a map of the world. In the same way upstate New York is near Hoboken. The car makes
a weird noise and starts to lurch to the central reservation. We’ve experienced a blowout on one of the front tyres. Yes, tyres. I manage to steer us to the hard shoulder. We pull up and I call the AA, because over here, that’s nothing to do with tackling alcohol dependency, and everything to do with coming to help stricken drivers by the side of the road. And no, I can’t change the tyre myself because I have a migraine, remember? Oh, and my car jack is rusted and so is the hole it’s supposed to go in because I thought it would be cool to own a 1987 Mercedes that I bought from a friend who left it to rot in a barn all winter. So why have I got this pounding headache and a flat tyre? Why am I standing by the side of a road upon which lorries, cars, and coaches are zooming past at 80mph (and faster)? 28th November 1862, that’s why. Today is the last day of the 2013/14 English League football season. Today, I travelled to Oldham from London with my friend to watch Notts County. Today, if Notts County lose, ‘we’ will be relegated. That’s a big deal. It means next season we will be playing the likes of Dagenham and Redbridge (that’s one team, not two) and Accrington Stanley (that’s a team, not a person). We won’t have the relative glamour of playing Barnsley or Preston North End. Notts County are in League One. This is, in fact, the third of four tiers of English professional football also known as The Football League: the top division is the Premiership. I know you’ve heard of that. It’s where some of your World Cup heroes play. Even Tim Howard. He of the multiple memes following his world record 15 saves in one game in Brazil. You still lost? But that’s the point I’m going to make here. Football is a bloody glorious game. It promises to deliver so much, churning your guts through the emotional wringer for 90 minutes, and so often proves to be nothing more than a tease. You will be
BY A DA M D shown the way to victory, but someone will snatch it from you at the death. “Nothing special about that” you say. “It happens in all sports.” Plenty of American football games are decided by a last-ditch kick or touch down. Many a basketball game has been decided by a desperate three-pointer attempt that actually came off. “Why is football so special?” Ok, settle down. Here’s the rest of that story. Notts County are rubbish. This is not me going for sympathy. This is statistically factual. They are not the worst team ever. They are not the worst team right now, but they are rubbish. They have suffered relegation more than any other team in history. They climbed all the way up from the third tier to the top division in consecutive years from 1989 to 1991. Another team that did that recently was Manchester City. Yes, the billionaires. Manchester City reached the top flight, was bought by a sheik, and is now one of the richest clubs in the whole of sport. Notts County did it, and one year later they were relegated. Three years after that, they were relegated again. Shortly after, they were relegated again. They went from the top all the way to the bottom. Then, to cap it all off, when their ‘sheik’ came in to buy them and promise millions, he ended up being some fat English conman with a penchant for ponchos, a dodgy accent, and most importantly of all, no money. You couldn’t make it up. I’m not. So we’re useless and somehow we dragged ourselves out of the bottom division into League One again two years ago. Why is League One the third tier? Well, that would be sponsorship and branding. The Premier League is the top table where all the money and glamour is. Think Kanye and
Kim or Jay-Z and Beyonce. Then you have The Championship where all the hangers on and wannabes are. You’ll also find some faded glory here, still relatively well off and also potentially glamorous. Think all the other Kardashians or Paris Hilton. Then you have Leagues One and Two. If you’re here, you’re in purgatory. No one knows who you are even if they once did and you couldn’t blag your way into the dry cleaning of a red carpet. Think that bloke who had that one song or the one with the baggy pants. That’s right, Notts County are Vanilla Ice meets MC Hammer. The whole season at this level is 46 games, 23 other teams to play at home and away. Plenty of chances to get enough points to guarantee safety, or better yet, a shot at promotion and better teams, bigger crowds, and more fun. Now, when I was in New Jersey in March this year, I went to see the New York Red Bulls play their first home game of the season. It was against the Colorado Rapids. It was a gloriously sunny day; nearly 60 degrees and plenty warm enough inside the stadium to sit in a t-shirt. So you’d expect a capacity crowd, right? This is New York (badlands) after all. There’s got to be enough people here interested in soccer, right? The stadium holds 26,000. There was an official crowd of 17,000 and something. My friend and I were wondering why this could be. Then, when Colorado equalised, literally six people cheered. Yes, America is huge. How can you expect the good people of Colorado to head to New Jersey for 90 minutes (plus stoppage time) of entertainment? Watching a game they still don’t seem to fully understand and having to listen to the stadium announcer saying “Laydeez and gennelmen, your attention pleeez.The referee has issued a yel-
“You have to be prepared, America. You have to be prepared to suffer like you’ve never suffered before.”
low caution card to number 26, some guy.” Now, I’m just mentioning this because I’m no fan of tautology. It’s not a ‘yellow caution card.’ It’s just a yellow card, a card that signifies a caution. You don’t bring your car to a halt at a red stoplight. It’s either a stoplight or a red light. We all know what it signifies. It’s as bad as saying “revert back.” To revert is to go back so you don’t need to say back. Enough already. Time to advance forward ahead. So there’s barrier number one to fully enjoying a football season in the US. But it’s the same for American football, basketball, and baseball so I know you lot know how to make it work. But this is the thing: Would you be just as excited if the stadium holds 21,000 and each week you know you’ll be part of a crowd of less than 6,000? You have to be prepared, America. You have to be prepared to suffer like you’ve never suffered before. As I mentioned earlier, in pretty much all the other major ball sports you watch, your team will score. In basketball, it’s an absolute given and it’s highly unusual for it not to happen in American football or baseball. Not scoring is part of the norm in Football. In fact, my team could also be known as “Notts Scoring.” So goals are hard to come by. So much so that the bookies over here allow you to bet on it. “Will both teams score?” is something you can bet on over here. Not “How many points will both teams score?” So, you could travel halfway round the world (and still be in America) only to watch your team put on yet another turgid, desperately inept display and come away with precisely nothing to cheer about or feel good about in any way. It’s the middle of winter, you can’t feel your toes, and your team can’t raise themselves enough to even muster a shot on target. So, what do you do? Well, you may find this very hard to take, America, but you can find yourselves holding out for a draw: A goalless draw. A 0-0 final score line. Are you ready? Are you really ready to bathe in the murky, tepid waters of a glorious, goalless draw? Meanwhile, in May, I am driving with my friend from London to Oldham. The tyre has yet to go flat, but we have been stuck in traffic on the M6 and we are now going the long way round the M60 because when I’m stressed I don’t make good decisions. I must have been stressed the day I fell in love with Notts County. Kickoff is 20 minutes away and according to all things Google Maps, we are 35 minutes away. Well sod that, I’m putting my foot firmly down and heaving the Merc as fast as it’s rusty wheels can go. My brain is already starting to try to punch its way out of my head, but I haven’t time for that now. We park up within sight of the ground. Here’s another little pleasure about watchISSUE FOURTEEN
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ing football in England. You don’t always know where the ground is. So what you do is scan the horizon for the telltale sign of four towers. The floodlights will show you the way even when they aren’t switched on. You’re driving and looking for these giant structures, one on each corner of the ground ready to shine a light on all your hopes and dreams. In the US, you will have lots of purpose built stadia, all very shiny and nice and proper and good just like the home of the NY Red Bulls. But all the lights will be integral. They don’t stick up. From the outside, you’re looking at a giant bowl. All smooth surfaces and continuous curves, all very modern but nothing to stand out from a few miles away to show you the way. So we’ve parked up, blocking a gate to a field that says, “don’t park here” and we arrive inside the ground just as the referee blows his whistle to start the game. What’s at stake here? Remember, it’s League One survival. Fall into League Two and you’re staring at the trap door. Fall through that and you enter the nether world of ‘the nonleague.’ There are leagues here, too, but this is where football becomes semi-professional. You are watching players who also do something else for a living, like turning up for an operation only to find the surgeon is the same guy who painted your living room last week. He did an okay job, to be fair, so he probably has a steady hand at least, but you don’t want probably. Football deals in ‘probably’ at best. Notts County specialise in ‘probably not,’ but here we are in game 46. The previous 45 have yielded far more defeats than victories, almost twice as many. And somehow, like a dog with three legs that went missing in LA whilst his family were on holiday from their home in Rhode Island, we have managed to crawl our way almost to safety. We’re in Moosup, Connecticut and we can smell the Wickaboxet Management Area, which means we know we’re almost home. Standing in our way, today is not the Carbuncle Pond, but a monstrous carbuncle on the outskirts of Manchester called Oldham Athletic. Now, they’re not great, to be fair. They have certainly proved themselves to be far from athletic for most of the season, but they are safe. They have nothing to play for so they can enjoy themselves and say goodbye to their fans for another season. All we need is a draw, a tie; a scores are level at the end scenario. Trouble is, we haven’t even managed many of them this season: Four to be precise. Time and again we have entered the last five minutes of a game with scores level, thinking, “Okay, a point will do.” Time and again it’s the opposition who wanted it more or who didn’t make that crucial mistake and they have 92 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE FOURTEEN
walked off with all three points, leaving us with zilch, zero, zip. There are three teams who could fill the final available relegation place and join the drop today. If we draw, we are safe. If we lose, it would take the combination of Crewe Alexandra and also Tranmere Rovers both winning to send us down. At half time, we are drawing 0-0 and those two teams are both winning. Shortly into the second half, Oldham takes the lead. As things stand, we are going to get relegated. It’s times like this that you get to know whether you’re in it for the love or not. It would be so easy to throw in the towel. You’ve come all this way, you’ve seen so many bad defeats, and you know this team. They just don’t have it in them. You could turn away, get out of there before the crowds (remember, this is a ground that will be about a third full), beat the traffic, and get home at a decent hour. But what’s the point in that? You can’t quit now. Neither can the team. So, despite pounding head and heavy heart, you get to your feet and you join in with the chanting that the rest of the crowd has started. You do all you can to motivate your team. You will the ball to come to this end that we are attacking. You raise your voices in hope rather than expectation, but if you can let the team know you are there now, you just might be able to witness something special. Maybe, just maybe. Then there are five crazy minutes. News starts to come in from somewhere that Tranmere are no longer winning. So we can lose and still be safe, but that’s risky. Seconds later, one of their players hauls down one of ours in the penalty area. We rise as one. A 2,000-headed monster with a single-minded mission: “Penalty!” we shout. The referee agrees. He points to the spot! A celebration is cut short. This is only the award of the penalty. Our player still has to hold his nerve and put the ball in the back of the net. The ball is placed on the spot. He steps back. Time stands still. My head now feels like it is floating somewhere above, barely attached. My heart has given up doing anything useful like keeping a regular beat. 2,000 people hold their breath. Somewhere in outer space, a whistle blows, and our player strides purposefully forward, planting his right foot into the ground and sweeping his left foot into and through the ball. It leaves the ground and the goalkeeper makes his decision. He has guessed correctly and is stretching every
sinew to get to the ball. About five hours later, this ultra slow-motion spectacle finishes. The ball has beaten the outstretched hands of the ‘keeper and risen into the back of the goal being caressed by the nylon squares that make up the netting. Sinking into their fabric and causing beautiful, oh so beautiful ripples. There is a moment of silence of disbelief then an eruption. My friend has bounded down the steps to the edge of the pitch where strangers are hugging, bouncing, and singing joyously in unison: “The Notts are staying up, the Notts are staying up, and now you’re gonna believe us, the Notts are staying up!” I raise my arms in the air and pump my fists. I am too far-gone to do anything else. Fifteen more minutes pass by in a haze. News drifts through that Tranmere are now losing. This means they would have to score twice and we would have to concede again to get relegated now, but it’s all about what’s going on in front of us. Keep the ball. Stop them from scoring. We do. At the final whistle, we run on to the pitch and several players are held aloft on peoples’ shoulders. This team. This beautiful bloody team. They’ve spent most of the season being shouted at, cursed, and even booed off the pitch. Losing time and again. Yet every week, they offered the promise of salvation, escape. The club started talking about ‘The Great Escape’. Every week, someone would play the theme tune on a trumpet almost pathetically at first, then with increasing belief and gusto. Notts only won 15 games all season. That’s just shy of a third of the games. They won six of the last nine making a mockery of their earlier season form. A great escape indeed. So my point is this, America: Are you ready? Are you finally ready to embrace the pain, suffering, and pointlessness of football? Do you know how good a 0-0 draw feels? Do you want to? Are you prepared to watch your team lose, week in and week out. No turning away. No flinching. Nothing but unconditional love. The World Cup is already a long way off. It gave you a taste of the glorious defeat, of the gallant loss. There can be only one winner in the end: one team to win the title. But oh boy, does losing keep you coming back for more. So come on, America, get ready to lose like you’ve never lost before because sometimes, you’ll draw. And when that feels like a victory? Well, then my friends, then you’ve won.
TEN DOLLAR COCKTAILS is the forthcoming single taken from the album 'Go Dream' by
THE NE BR I N GING
POTIST THE STAN K BY M A RGUER ITE O’CO NNELL PH OTOG R A PH Y BY CH ERY L DUNN W W W.CH ERY LDUNN. NET
isten to the music of The Nepotist, the exciting, up-andcoming alternative-soul trio out of New York and you can’t help but hear the richness of their musical influences. Incorporating elements of Chicago style blues and old-school rock as well as trip-hop, R&B, funk and soul, the band has crafted a raw, authentic sound that is as unique as it is addictive. By combining the smooth grooves and harmonies of soul and R&B, the sumptuous bass lines and funky beat of trip-hop and blues, and the grittiness of rock-n-roll, The Nepotist has created a hybrid sound all their own; one the band describes as, “The lovechild of The Black Keys, Muddy Waters and Rhye.” The Nepotist is comprised of Chris Frank (guitar, vocals), his younger brother Hayden (bass, vocals), and Jacob Colin Cohen (drums, vocals). Growing up in Ithaca, NY, Chris and Hayden always played in separate bands. When they both landed in NYC for college, the brothers began to play as a duo, officially forming The Nepotist in 2012. Two years later, they met Jacob with whom they ‘just clicked.’ Within seconds of starting to play together the very first time, they all knew that The Nepotist had just become a trio. With Jacob now an official member of the band, they continue to play crowded shows in the NYC area while working on their debut LP and planning a tour for later this year. They are also playing a CMJ Showcase on October 22. The Nepotist says they “make rock and roll like a family, in that it is fractured, familiar, and the only thing that matters.” I readily admit a band started by two brothers and named The Nepotist is likely working some clever word play here, but that doesn’t diminish the brilliance with which these words express the emotion this band’s music elicits. Minimalist arrangements, gorgeous harmonies, and a funky groove all work to draw the listener in and simultaneously create the space to hear and feel the music. Beyond the clever play on words, The Nepotist really is a perfect name for this group. Deciding to work with close friends and family when beginning a new project is often a positive exercise of nepotism, especially on projects like forming a new band where complete trust and a shared commitment to work hard for very little immediate reward are critical for its success. When talking with Chris, Hayden, and Jacob, it is quickly apparent that they are more than just genuinely nice guys who share a pretty great sense of humor. They are talented, committed, and inspired musicians who embrace a shared need to make music for the simple reason that they cannot imagine living a life in which they don’t. And we are all better for that choice, I think. For a world without the soulful, stanky sounds of The Nepotist would be a darker, drearier, less beautiful place indeed.
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Chris and Hayden, you are originally from Ithaca, NY and Jacob you’re from Philadelphia. How did you all end up in New York City? CHRIS: I moved first in the fall of 2006. I moved from Ithaca, New York to study philosophy at NYU and just never left. I loved it, loved it, loved it when I first moved here and I have a little bit more of a complicated relationship with the place now, but I still love it.
City? JACOB: I attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and when I graduated from Berkley, I moved to New York City three weeks later.
Did you have a job or gig lined up or did you just want to live in New York City? JACOB: I decided to move to New York and just get started on music, gigging with everybody I could. I got a job on the side doing some real estate stuff, but hit the ground Did you go to NYU too, Hayden? running pretty quickly with music from the HAYDEN: I did, yeah. I came down moment I got here. initially to study acting, but I realized pretty quickly that that wasn’t for me partly be- I’m always curious about how parents cause I didn’t really want to do it as profes- react to their children pursuing a career sion, but also just because being around in music. What did your parents think actors all the time was starting to drive me a about your plan to move to New York? little crazy. So I switched over to anthropolJACOB: My parents were always supogy. I didn’t really care what subject I stud- portive of my doing music. I mean, from ied. I just wanted to be in New York. the time I was 13, every summer I went to camps. Then I studied at Berklee so So neither one of you studied music in music the next logical step was to either move to college? Nashville, LA, or New York. I chose New HAYDEN: I was originally going to go to York. I moved here with the band I was in at Berklee College of Music to study bass, but the time. I had a ton of friends who were alI decided not to because usually anything ready working in the scene and I had a small that I have to study I end up kind of hating. part-time job hook up. So it just seemed Since I really didn’t want to end up hating like the right move when you combine all of music or the bass, I opted not to study it. that with being closer to home. And I mean That way I could pursue it in my own way, they’ve been supportive the entire time. I in my own time, and it would never feel like feel very lucky. Normally, when a little kid is a chore. banging drums in a house, the parents were CHRIS: I have that same aversion to be- like, “Cut it out.” I never once got yelled at ing told what to do. As soon as somebody or told to stop playing. tells me I have to do something, I don’t want to. And music is just something that I’ve When did you start playing the drums? always done. I’ve had good people to play JACOB: I started playing when I was with and have learned a lot. I took a year off two. My dad was an amateur drummer and to do music full time and it was working. But just started teaching me the basics. There I was starting to notice that I was not as well read as some of my friends, that I hadn’t were always records playing and I was rethought about some of the things they were ally drawn to the song “Born to be Wild.” I thinking about, and that talking to my friends taught myself how to play it. HAYDEN: That was the first song you made me feel less educated. So my molearned? Awesome. tivation for going to college was to be better educated and well read. An unexpected benefit of taking a year off is that it made Did I see your name associated with a college easier for me than it was for a lot of Broadway show? Have you done Broadmy friends, I think just because I didn’t have way? JACOB: I did do Broadway. I was in a to wrestle with whether I wanted to be there. show called “One Man, Two Guvnors.” It Were your parents supportive of your was from England and it was a huge hit decision to pursue music instead of a over there. They brought the whole English cast over to the States except for the mucareer related to your degree? CHRIS: They have been supportive. sicians. The musicians are actually part of I feel like they’ve never worried that we the show, sort of like Ed Sullivan, and we wouldn’t find a livelihood, either one of us. played a whole set during the show. It ran They’ve never tried to stop us from mak- for six months and was very cool. ing a living in music. They give us their full emotional support, but they don’t support us Oh, wow. Did you love it? JACOB: Yeah, I loved it. It was unique. financially. Which is the way it should be. I love performing. I’m sure Hayden and Jacob, how did you end up in New York Chris would say the same thing. The 98 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE FOURTEEN
thought of sitting in a pit just never really appealed to me. So it was a unique Broadway gig where I got to perform like I am used to. It was a very seamless transition. Chris and Hayden, how did you meet Jacob? CHRIS: One night in September 2013, Hayden and I were playing as a duo at Rockwood Music Hall. Jacob was playing a gig next door. He wandered in, liked what he heard, gave Hayden his card and said he’d like to play with us. We figured anybody who wanted to play with us probably wasn’t very good. We didn’t call him, but Jacob came to our next show and again said that he’d like to play with us. HAYDEN: I also ran into him the next morning at one of my favorite East Village restaurants, Cafe Mogador. I don’t believe in fate, but I do believe that people who enjoy delicious food are better to make music with. We admired his persistence and appetite so asked ourselves what could pos-
sibly go wrong and set something up for the because you figured anyone who wanted to play with you probably wasn’t very next week. good, but were you looking for a band Tell me what it was about Chris and mate? Hayden that made you want to be part of CHRIS: That wasn’t a joke. [laughs] The Nepotist? Our not calling him was really part just beJACOB: I walked in to the room where ing forgetful, it can be hard to remember to they were playing and at that time I was follow up on business cards, and part that doing a lot of freelancing as a drummer, we had sort of given up hope of attracting a getting hired for various gigs, but I was third member to the band until we until we really dying to be in a band. However, I took it a little further ourselves. didn’t want to spend my time in a band unless there was something that really drew So, do you think that Jacob approached me to them. What drew me to Chris and you because he wanted to play in a band Hayden, I suppose, was that here were with a similar sound to yours or do you these two guys on stage: they looked great, think that your playing just kind of swept they sounded amazing, and they had a big him off his feet? crowd who seemed really devoted to them. CHRIS: [laughs] Well, I can’t tell you Everything seemed to click. It was really what he was thinking before we actually got electric and I have never felt that way when into a room and played together for the first seeing any band before. I just felt compelled time, but I can tell you that the first time we to approach them. started playing together, within 30 seconds it was clear that we were going to click. JaYou’ve joked that you didn’t call Jacob cob was picking up little subtleties and hid-
den space rhythms that we usually have to explain to the people we play with. We didn’t need to explain any of it to him. HAYDEN: Yeah, after just seconds of playing with Jacob, we knew we would be a trio from then on. Everything just clicked. And that’s pretty cool because it’s not something that happens all the time between musicians. HAYDEN: No, it really doesn’t. CHRIS: I’ve never experienced it playing with somebody that I hadn’t played with before. There are friends that I’ve played with since I was a kid and we know each other so well that we know how to listen to each other and anticipate one another. To experience that with somebody I really just met? That was the first time that’s ever happened to me. I have seen The Nepotist described as neo-soul. In writing about artists and their music, I have noticed a definite inISSUE FOURTEEN
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crease in the number of hyphens I have to use to describe a band’s sound because so many bands are kind of gender, I mean kind of genre bending and … HAYDEN: Gender bending. [laughs] CHRIS: [laughs] We gender bend a little bit.
sistent with us. We also have a very interesting vibe in that we’re gritty some times and then others we can be very sensual so I’m going with soulful, gritty, and sensual. HAYDEN: Yeah, I like those, too. I also like the word “stanky” to describe us. So I’ll go with stanky, heady, and fat.
Oops, Freudian slip I guess. [laughs] Anyway, how would you define neo-soul or alternative soul? HAYDEN: Neo-soul is actually not a term we use to describe ourselves. It is definitely an influence on our sound, but I think of neo-soul as being more D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, that kind of music. You can definitely hear that influence in our rhythm section and maybe in some of the harmonies, but I wouldn’t describe our music with that genre name.
For those who are not familiar with the term “stanky,” how would you describe it to them? CHRIS: If you are at a show where the musicians are just sitting on a groove that makes you move, keep your eye on the drummer or bass player. They will get this kind of snarly frown on their face and will also be nodding their heads to the beat. This is known as the “stank face” and “stanky” describes the music that causes musicians to make that face.
Okay, then what genre name would you use? HAYDEN: We’ve been using the term alternative soul. Really, it’s kind of a crapshoot with genre names. I don’t feel very confident about using them. I don’t know how well they fit what I’m trying to describe.
‘Cause they’re feeling it, yeah? All: [laugh] Yeah. HAYDEN: Stanky music has an aggressive sensuality to it, I think. Which is not a pairing often thought of together. It’s like the rhythm is sexual and at the same time it is aggressive and forceful; it’s stanky.
Well the current trend seems to be, “When in doubt, just add hyphens.” CHRIS: Yeah, exactly. [laughs] There’s definitely an alternative rock element in our sound, but there’s definitely more of that R&B, blues, and soul feeling in the rhythm section, too.
Okay. Let me ask how you chose The Nepotist as the band’s name? CHRIS: I played in a band for a long time starting in middle school then through high school and college that broke apart around the same time I finished college. In New York, Hayden and I had been playing informally as The Brothers Frank and just having a good time. So when I started thinking that I wanted to try to get another musical project off the ground and really make a go of it, I knew I didn’t want it to always be just the two of us. In fact, I wasn’t even totally sure that Hayden would want to play after college because, you know, it’s kind of a crapshoot with terrible odds trying to make a living in music. So I knew I wanted another name for the project and The Nepotist was a name that I had been kicking around for a long time. When my previous band changed its name, The Nepotist was one of the names considered and I really liked it. We didn’t end up adopting it in that band so when I wanted to name this new band I kind of thought it was fair game and grabbed it. I like it because it sounds like a superhero, sort of, but it’s also just totally ridiculous. [laughs]
So, alternative soul, alternative rock, and R&B; I’m going to need quite a few hyphens, I guess. [laughs] CHRIS: [laughs] I like alternative soul because it’s not totally inaccurate even though it does leave out the blues, the folk, and the old school rock and roll that also informs our playing. HAYDEN: But alternative blues, folk, soul, and rock is too long. [laughs] Let’s try this then. What three adjectives would you use to describe your music to someone who has never heard The Nepotist play? CHRIS: Okay, I’m going with soulful, joyful, and ... this doesn’t sound quite right, but I’m going to pick it anyway, ambivalent. Some people understand that word as meaning not having a strong feeling either way, but I think that word actually means having very strong feelings, both ways. Which is how I feel about a lot of things and one of the main reasons I write songs, I think. JACOB: Well, I was definitely going to say soulful as well. I think that’s pretty con-
Before Jacob joined the band, you have said, Hayden, you felt like you weren’t ever going to be a real band until you had a third person. And Chris, you felt like you wouldn’t attract a third person to join the band until you had “bandness” and worked as a duo. How did you get ISSUE FOURTEEN
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Putting on a live show is like putting together a theater piece, whereas making an album is more like making a movie. They are both telling stories, but the way you do it is very different. through that impasse? HAYDEN: It was actually a little device that did it: a looping pedal. We had had one kicking around for a while, but had never really explored it. When we went back to Ithaca last summer to figure our shit out, I started experimenting with that thing and realized I could make cool sounding beats using just my bass and the loop pedal. So we kind of met in the middle where we didn’t add a third person, but we did add this third sound. As a bass player, I want a rhythm that I can play along to. I see the bass as like half an instrument and drums as half an instrument and it is together that they become a force of nature. It was really cool with the loop pedal because I could create both halves of that whole sound on my own and it felt like we became a band without adding a third person or at least it finally felt like we had a solid enough foundation that we could move the project along, and I think Jacob picked up on that. CHRIS: With the loop pedal, it also felt way more human than playing along to prerecorded drum loops. We had tried that a couple of times, but it just felt like the “Chris and Hayden karaoke gig.” It doesn’t have as much life as playing with a real drummer and I’m not sorry to see it go. It was enough life to do a show without feeling like we were doing karaoke. I don’t know if you have ever seen Ed Sheeran play, but I went to a show last year where he used the loop pedal and it was truly an amazing experience. He was on stage alone and yet he managed to hold a sold-out crowd at a fairly goodsized Houston venue in the palm of his hand the entire night playing his guitar and using a loop pedal. I think you would really enjoy watching him play. HAYDEN: Oh, wow. That’s cool.
explore the songs in a different way than we usually play them. And like you said, audiences respond to it in a different way. It’s not ideal for large venues, at least not the way we have it set up right now. When we’re playing to a smaller crowd, they can get really into it because you don’t usually see guys doing what we do with just a guitar and a bass. CHRIS: Although when we’re playing with the full band I’ll still use a loop pedal, but not for percussion loops. I make some chordal patterning sounds. It’s more of a texture than guitar sounds and then I bring that in and out throughout the song. It just adds a little bit more movement to the arrangement. Okay, tell me about the song writing process for The Nepotist. All three of you are songwriters and I am wondering whether you are collaborating and writing songs for the upcoming album together or whether you tend to each write alone and then bring what you have to the others? CHRIS: So far, we’ve proven to be fairly good at editing each other’s work. Usually someone will bring in a song with full lyrics and melody and then we will start to arrange it together, we might change chords around or suggest that a section be dropped or maybe change some lyrics and in the process take it to a place where the song works for all three of us. So far, we haven’t sat down and co-written anything from scratch, banging out a lyric and a melody together. I’ve only done that once or twice in the entire time I’ve been writing songs. I think it’s a lot of fun, but it’s just not how I usually work.
So one of you brings in the bones of the song and then everybody kind of fleshes it out together, so to speak? HAYDEN: Yeah, so to speak. [laughs] That’s a good way to describe it. Someone will come in with the bones or skeletal strucYeah, it was really cool. Do you still use ture and then we’ll all add to it. We flesh it the loop pedal? out, you know? HAYDEN: We do when we’re playing a smaller gig and Jacob can’t make it for You add some stanky beats to it? whatever the reason. It’s a good way to [laughs]
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HAYDEN: Add some stank on it, yeah. Is the new album going to be all new music or are some of the songs from your video EP going to be on it? Have you even gotten that far yet? CHRIS: No, I think all three of the video EP songs will be on the record, but different recordings of each. We have a bunch more songs written that have not been recorded yet as well as some we are still working on that we might use if we can finish them in time. The track list is not final yet and I don’t think we’ll finalize it until all of the recordings are done and we have been able to look at them. Do you have any idea of a release date? CHRIS: We are trying to finish tracking by September 1st. In my experience, if you let it, the recording process can get drawn out forever and it still will never be perfect. And what happens to me when I’m working on a record is if I let it go on too long, I lose sight of what I was trying to do in the first place and start trying to do something different. When that happens, you are just working against yourself. That’s why I think it’s better to put the record together as quickly as you can so that you stay focused on the original goal. And then by the time you’re done, hopefully you want to do something totally different the next time. Which is great because that’s how you stay inspired to make new stuff. You have said one of the reasons you were really excited about working on the LP was getting the chance to do things sonically that you just can’t do playing live in a room. Do you anticipate the album will sound different from what fans have heard so far? HAYDEN: I think at its core, the album will be the same underlying sound you would hear if you saw us play a live show. The difference with an album is that you can add all these textures on top of that. I want to explore doing more than three-part harmony, explore having multiple guitar parts,
and throw piano into the mix on the album even though we don’t have a keyboardist to play with us live. There are all these layers you can add to really flesh out the sound and that is what I’m excited to play with. CHRIS: For me, it’s just about being respectful of the two very different contexts that you are making the music for. Making music that works well over a loud PA in a crowded pub when people are out for a good time is a task and it’s a ton of fun. Playing those same arrangements for someone who is at home alone and listening through headphones might work sometimes, but not work others. For those times when it doesn’t work, you have to try something different. HAYDEN: Chris has a good analogy he uses: Putting on a live show is like putting together a theater piece, whereas making an album is more like making a movie. They are both telling stories, but the way you do it is very different. That is a good analogy. I’ll have to remember it. I want to briefly ask you about the recent appearance in The New York Times. Chris and Hayden, your dad is Robert H. Frank who writes a column for The Times, right? HAYDEN: Yes, he does. He also cooks
a mean steak, amongst his many other ac- [laughs] You definitely share your Dad’s complishments. He’s a well-rounded guy. sense of humor. [laughs] CHRIS: Yeah. Well, I’m still hopeful for an album review on our own merits, but I’ll Well, he’s actually really very funny from take it. what I saw of his “acting debut” welcomSo what can we look forward to from in ing MTV into his ‘Crib.’ He’s got a great the remainder of 2014? You’re working on sense of humor. an album. Do you expect a tour or do you CHRIS and HAYDEN: Oh, yeah. The think you will stay in the New York City area? Crib [laugh] CHRIS: We are starting to work with a booking agent and are talking about putting Did he tell you ahead of time that he was together a tour for the fall. I’m just unbelievgoing to use the band as an example in ably excited for that. We’ve been playing in his column on “Winner Take All” eco- New York almost exclusively for the life of nomic theory? the band and I’m excited to see what it feels HAYDEN: Yeah, we actually were kind like to play other cities. We have one more of involved with proofreading it and ed- big New York show coming up this summer iting it. He always sends us the drafts of at the Mercury Lounge in August. Then I what he’s working on and we give him our don’t think we’re playing in the city again thoughts. Our main input with that one was until we play CMJ on October 22. CMJ will just to make sure it didn’t seem too nepotis- be a ton of fun. tic, so to speak. We didn’t want it to sound like he was plugging us in the column and I only have two more questions, but for this next one you need to talk amongst I think he ended up doing that quite okay. yourselves before you answer. If The I thought it was well done and just won- Nepotist were a mixed drink, what drink dered if you knew about it beforehand or would it be? if it was a surprise. I loved your FaceCHRIS: Does it have to be a mixed book post about how “this was not the drink or can it be straight whiskey? way we anticipated seeing ourselves written up in The New York Times.” It can be straight whiskey if that is the
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drink that best reflects the band. JACOB: I love a good whiskey, specifically rye. CHRIS: You know what? There is a bartender in a little bar in Ithaca, New York where we played one of the only shows we’ve played outside of the City who made a cocktail called “The Nepotist.” It was a variation on a Manhattan, which I thought was pretty funny, but I don’t remember exactly what was in it. HAYDEN: It was made with rye whiskey. I do remember that. JACOB: Oh nice. CHRIS: Yeah. So...
You buy the non-fancy coffee for $2.00 and I’ll make you a fancy coffee anyway and you tell me what you think.” I don’t know exactly what he did, but as he served me the coffee he waved his hand over the top of it and it caught on fire, burning for less than five seconds before I drank it. It blew my mind. So The Nepotist cocktail is a Manhattan made with rye whiskey that catches on fire when served to you.
Okay, is your answer then a variation of the Manhattan made with rye whiskey? HAYDEN AND JACOB: Yes. CHRIS: No. Wait, I got it. I got it. This was not the official Nepotist cocktail, but one time I went into a super fancy cocktail bar that was open and serving coffee in the early morning and it offered some interesting fancy coffee drinks for $6.00. When I said that $6.00 was an insane amount to charge for coffee, the barista said, “Alright.
And my last question is: Fourculture wants to know what your four favorite things are, the four things you can’t (or just don’t want to) live without? CHRIS: A pen, a notebook, a guitar and coffee. HAYDEN: Proximity to well-prepared, well-cooked, delicious food. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It just has to be tasty. I’d also include a good espresso machine, a large congregation of people, and a large area of
The Nepotist is a flaming, rye whiskey, Manhattan? Is that your final answer? [laughs] All: Yes.
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nature devoid of people. JACOB: I agree. I need access to very well prepared and high quality food, a vibrant music scene and I may sound sappy, but I need romance. [laughs] I need love in my life. And I need water either the ocean or some other body of water. CHRIS: I thought you meant drinking water and I thought that was kind of a toss up. [laughs] JACOB: No, no, no. I need a body of water within driving distance, if not walking distance. It has to be accessible if I ever am in dire need. HAYDEN: Marguerite, I’m going to take espresso off my list because I’d like to think that I could quit coffee if I wanted to and I’m going to put my Fender P-Bass on there instead. So you’re going to take coffee off your list? Brave man. Strong, dark coffee is non-negotiable for me. HAYDEN: Well, I work at the coffee shop so if you find yourself in New York City, I can hook you up with some good free coffee.
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’ve forgotten his name. Damn. I’ve forgotten what we talked about. I remember he was in health care, but I’m not sure what he did. He may have been a nurse, or a resident. He was nice looking, dark skin and brown eyes. He wore gold aviator glasses, and they looked good on him. I do remember his hand on my leg and his face coming closer. My hand found his waist and we kissed ever so softly. I felt him getting hard in his pants. We were going to have sex. That’s what we both came here to find. It was Thursday, probably. I went to the Queen Mary around nine. The bar wasn’t crowded, and I took a stool. I think it was Easter week. My family was out of town, and I was getting out every night, as much as I could. I was wearing my black halter dress, and simulating maximum cleavage. I was also wearing a garter belt, black stockings, and four-inch pumps. My hair was big, red, and slutty as usual. I was a big girl, a little heavy, but I had a pretty face. He told me I looked nice, and asked to buy me a drink. It often went this way. He was looking for a woman like me, and this is where we could be found. All around us, others were doing a similar dance; some girls for money, and all of us for love, approval and affirmation. He asked me to follow him to his house, and I wanted to. I didn’t think about danger, much. I was driving an absurdly large white Chevy Astro Van. He was driving a classic mini-Cooper. We had taken Laurel Canyon to Fairfax and now we were going farther south, past the point where my Jewish friend Carole said “Boogie meets Bagel”. We were on La Cienega, past the 10 freeway. He turned right on Rodeo Road, toward Ladera Heights, and then motioned me to follow him into a complex of low, modern ranch style apartments or condos. He showed me a space to park in and walked over after he had parked. “This way,” he said, putting his hand gently on my back. The night was cool and damp, but not too cold. This was the West side after all. This was light years from the West side where I grew up; lily white wealth North of the freeway. His place had glass windows and sliding glass doors all around in an open plan, cute, urban and hip. “I could easily live here…” I remembered thinking. He began closing blinds.
“The world counts on people who lie and pretend to be who they aren’t to survive, I thought.” “Want something to drink?” he asked. “I’ve got diet Coke.” He knew that’s what I drank. He put on some music, early Miles Davis, a song I knew. I was doing my best to be every inch a lady, and let him take the lead. Soon we were kissing on his couch, and then quickly moved to his bed, improbably placed between the living area and kitchen. I was quickly down to my garter belt, stockings and small black chiffon scarf around my neck. His body was muscled and dark and his cock was huge. He asked if I was his first black man. I told him he wasn’t, but his was my favorite body so far. I worked him with my mouth and lips, but he was already making it clear with his finger and some handy lube what his short-term goal was. He was kissing less now. I was soon straddling him, but we couldn’t seem to get anywhere. “I’m sorry” I said. “I‘m just really tight…” He put two big fingers inside me, which startled me a little..I think I cried out. “Yeah, baby. You are tight…” He was really working me with his fingers, and I found myself struggling to relax. I felt part of his monster cock, sheathed in rubber, enter me. I’ve rarely had what I would call “comfortable” anal sex, but this was really stretching my limits on pain. I’m not sure I ever had all of him inside me, but he soon came, rather emphatically. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I thought I’d get at least a little kiss afterward. He gently told me to get off, and then stood up and went to the bathroom and started the shower. I watched him carefully remove the condom, fold it into toilet paper and then wash his hands with PhisoHex. I suddenly felt alone. The light from the bathroom was blinding. It was the brightest light in the house. Steam was pouring out and I could hear him scrubbing himself down. I normally loved my own “just fucked” reflection in the mirror, but now I just saw a girl with a wig that needed adjusting, lipstick smeared to nothing and fine stubble betraying her XY Chro-
mosomes. He was still scrubbing. The girl in the mirror looked lost. Her wine colored nail polish was chipping. I couldn’t find my panties. I felt like a fool, like a freak. I was a very stupid girl. I needed a cigarette, but I’d have to wait. I unhitched my ruined stockings and threw them in a trash can under the sink. “I hope your girlfriend finds them...” I thought. “Asshole!” I fumed silently. He was brushing his teeth, aggressively. He brushed his teeth for a good five minutes and then used Listerine. I wondered if he’d wrap me in plastic next. I held my shabby little nightclub purse, anxious to leave. My cheap pumps had tortured my toes so I was barefoot. A helicopter passed low overhead. He stepped out of the bathroom in clean blue scrubs. I felt like Typhoid Mary. I remember wondering if he was getting ready for work or going to bed after I left. “C’mon,” he said, avoiding eye contact with me. He guided me gently to the door and then said “I’ll walk you to your car.” He was courtly, sweet, and ice cold. Life is strange. Sex is stranger. I had an intuition that walking me to my car was a good idea in this neighborhood, even though it was solidly middle class. Infamous gang turf was just blocks away. The fog had rolled in, low and wet. Cool asphalt felt strangely good on my bare feet. He took me to the door of my van, and then gently said, “Drive safely. Have a good night.” I read no emotion on his face. He watched me pull out, and turned away as I drove off, illuminated red in my taillights. I drove toward La Brea, then north. I’ve often felt tired, sleepy and sated driving home after a night like this. Tonight, I felt empty. The night was roaring quietly with humanity packed in cars, a burst of music from an open window, and the smell of Carnitas and Popeye’s chicken. The endless L.A. Neon Fiesta of business was underway, punctuated by an odd lonely pedestrian. The world seemed harder, sharper,
colder and meaner to me that night. “Tranny,” I softly said to myself as I looked at myself in the rearview mirror. I had pulled over and redrawn my dark red lips over the smear of lust’s aftermath. I always did. My lips held such power over men in the bar, but after they’ve blown their load and scratched the itch they want to forget. I’m a faceless fuck to them, something to flee until they collapse into their own piles of selfloathing and denial about their own desire. Fuck him. Fuck me, too, while I’m at it. I could have gone back to the bar and found another guy to hook up with, but that’s not what I wanted. I wanted to be loved, held, cherished, but mostly just seen for who I was. I always heard this crap about men being visual creatures when it came to sex. Apparently, after sex, they become as blind as a newt in an underground cavern. “People only see what they think they want,” I thought, or maybe what they are supposed to want. What they don’t see as easily is what they really want, or dare not want. I wanted a cigarette, so I lit one and opened the window. I’d never smoked before I put on a dress. Life. Sex. Strange. He and I were both hypocrites. He lived his secret life and I lived mine. I was a “working man” who brought home the bacon to my suburban home in a neighborhood established to avoid neighborhoods like the one I was driving out of. My neighborhood was full of hypocrites; big houses with expensive cars in the driveways, mortgaged to the max and devoid of furniture, because who can afford that? He and I both went to work and pretended to joke about girls and sports, when both of us were chasing something deeply mysterious that we both had kept secret from others until we had the courage to risk it all for a single moment of desire. The world counts on people who lie and pretend to be who they aren’t to survive, I thought. When I put on a dress and heels I reveal something primal and essential within me; something everybody wants, needs and even respects, but lives in abject fear of. I still felt small, cheap and tawdry. The night air was a balm, as always. At a light, I stopped, and sprayed some more “Allure” on to drive away the shame of his passionless sweat on me. I smiled at the Korean family in the Sentra next to me. Fuck it. There’s always tomorrow night.
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