Tim Kinsella // Haram // Polar Bear Club // The Evening Rig Collections of Colonies of Bees // Mitch Clem // SIXES FREE
Asker of Questions/Design: Adam Sever Correspond: firstname.lastname@example.org P.O. Box 1616 â€˘ Monticello, MN 55362 myspace.com/mandexzine
Tim Kinsella photo: Chris Strong www.chrisstrong.com Here
Collections of Colonies of Bees
photo: Kathrine Berger www.ellagraph.com
Larry Crane (Jenny Lewis, M. Ward, Elliott Smith, Stephen Malkmus) tapeop.com How did you get into recording? When I was a young teen I started messing with some reel-to-reel decks my folks had bought in order to send voice letters back and forth in the '60s. I graduated to two cassette decks and a $20 mixer in the late '70s. I recorded and released homemade electronic music back then on cassette and discovered a world of underground music via local radio and OP magazine. During college, Vomit Launch started and I got to be part of studio sessions and guide our band. When that ended, a home studio became a business in Portland and soon I had a "real" studio to handle the amount of music I was recording. Do you feel home recording is hurting studio recording's business? If a studio cannot compete in the marketplace then they are doings something wrong. That said Jackpot! Recording Studio could be busier, but also it would be if I personally did more sessions a year. Do you prefer to work in analog or digital? Yes. All three. To your ears, what album stands out as one of best sounding? I always find this to be a limiting question. Some Toto record might be a "great sounding" disc, but would I want to hear it? I always gravitate towards songs and sounds together. There are so many wonderful audio creations to listen to. What are your pet peeves when it comes to recording? Long digital reverb tails on snare drums that don't fit the timing of the music. Check out some '80's productions. Arrangements with no room for parts to breathe. I'm really bummed when I buy CDs that are mastered really, really loud and they sound like shit - like Bruce Springsteen's last one. What do you think are some necessary qualifications for being in the recording business? If I made a list of "qualifications" of ANY sort, I'm sure I could then name 100 classic producers and engineers that didn't have any of these "qualifications" yet have made records that blow my mind. My only advice to people that wish to do this as a "job" is that they have to record all the time and be completely immersed in this world to really succeed at it. And you have to be a fan of music.
Bruce Templeton (Signal to Trust, Volante, The Vets, Sicbay) myspace.com/brucetempleton How did you get into recording? I started in high school. First on cassette 4-tracks and then larger reel to reel decks. In the 90's, I was in a band called Dwindle and we recorded with some really cool people like Tim Green, John Goodmanson, and J. Robbins. It was through those experiences that I decided I wanted to do it 'professionally'. Do you feel home recording is hurting studio recording's business? It is clearly hurting the 'big' studios. The main reason is that no one is doing whole records at one place any more. They either track or mix at a big studio - if they can even afford that. However, 'medium' studios are doing pretty well. The technology has levelled the playing field to a large degree and this makes them better positioned for the future. Do you prefer to work in analog or digital? I love the sound of analog, but prefer the convenience of digital particularly when it comes to recording. So many projects start one place and move to another. Or the band will do its own overdubs, etc. It is often the only way to make budgets and timelines work. If sound were the only concern, my answer would be analog 100% - particularly on the signal processing side of things. Digital is just not there yet. To your ears, what album stands out as one of best sounding? There are so many. Off the top of my head I'd say The Byrds Notorious Byrd Brothers and XTC English Settlement. What are your pet peeves when it comes to recording? I don't know if I have pet peeves, but a scenario I see repeated a lot is a band goes into the studio too soon, isn't prepared, wants to do things too fast and then isn't happy with the outcome. I tell people all the time, that a band with well arranged songs and who has their sound together is infinitely more important than amazing recording gear. What do you think are some necessary qualifications for being in the recording business? That's a tough one. It used to be that people who went into this field went to school to study electronics and acoustics and eventually learned about recording. Of course at that time there was still an apprentice system in place at studios as well. All that has changed and it is virtually non-existent today. Having said that, I still think the fundamentals haven't changed. You still need to know how to operate the gear and more importantly - to 'listen to sound' and hear music. That makes all the difference.
(Joan of Arc, The 1900â€™s, Make Believe) graemegibson.net
(Botch, Minus the Bear, Isis, Russian Circles) mattbayles.com
How did you get into recording? I started recording around the same time I got into drumming. I was about ten and I would record anything on one of those hand held tape recorders; cars driving by, nature, the vacuum cleaner, or me beating on ice cream pails. But then if you take that tape and play it through your parentâ€™s stereo and start a new tape in the recorder you can do overdubs!
How did you get into recording? I was always involved in music, even put out a 7" when I was 16 and just eventually realized I was interested in the recording side of things. Took a class at NYU, finished college and headed to Seattle.
Do you feel home recording is hurting studio recording's business? Monetarily? Sure, prices are half of what they were 15 years ago, but that's not just because of home recording. The trickle down from labels... not as many albums are being sold, recording budgets are not what they used to be. Do you prefer to work in analog or digital? I like a combination. I like to track basics to tape both for sonics and psychics and then transfer to Pro-Tools for overdubs and mixing. To your ears, what album stands out as one of best sounding? That's a really tough question, there are a lot of obvious answers but then when I try to think of the perfect combination of sound, performance and purpose I just end up thinking of all this old stuff when the recording wasn't the focus and music wasn't art... I'm rambling. I could never slim that list down to even ten names! What are your pet peeves when it comes to recording? The idea that there is some box or microphone that makes everything sound good.
Do you feel home recording is hurting studio recording's business? To a small degree, but I think music being downloaded for free is a much larger problem. If there is no profit to be made from selling records then how can anyone afford to record in a proper studio? Do you prefer to work in analog or digital? I grew up with analog. I use digital mostly because tape is so expensive these days. I love cutting tape and listening to the music rather than watching a computer screen all day. To your ears, what album stands out as one of best sounding? Not to evade the question, but "best" is way too subjective. Songs are more important that how pristine a record may sound. I think Either/Or by Elliot Smith is his best record. However most people (including myself) would say XO definitely sounds better. So it really is to each their own. What are your pet peeves when it comes to recording? Gear breaking, guitars that aren't intonated, anytime a computer slows down a session. What do you think are some necessary qualifications for being in the recording business? Patience, a strong work ethic, ability to communicate/get the best out of people.
What do you think are some necessary qualifications for being in the recording business? Patience, patience, confidence, a trust fund would help too because you will most likely spend more than you make!
Jesse Cannon (Dalek, Saves the Day, Head Automatica ) jessecannon.com How did you get into recording? When I was 12 I went into a studio with my band and I was so pissed our lack of talent did not sound like Guns N Roses Appetite For Destruction that I decided I would have to learn how to do this. By 15 I had bought a few microphones and a 4 track and would record any band I knew as long as they got me drunk after we were done. By the time I was 19 I took it up a notch and learned what I was really doing by interning at studios under amazing producers, and producing any band that would give me some spare cash. By 23 I was working 300 days a year and had my own home studio. Do you feel home recording is hurting studio recording's business? I feel the opposite, I care more about hearing great art then my livelihood as a Producer/Engineer. There are a bunch of bands making great records at home and obviously tons that could benefit from a more experienced ear. It helps to separate the men from the boys. Nothing is going to stop it. When I am not working I sit at home with my Mac Pro, and a few keyboards and have a great time writing very self indulgent songs, that I just do for fun. It is an amazing thing. All these old grumpy engineers can waste their time bitching about this but it is gonna keep becoming more and more viable for bands to work at home. What I am interested in is being a guiding ear for these records and helping them with the things they are incompetent with. Those grumpy old Producers, who do not embrace this and keep whining about it will die like the dinosaurs they are. Do you prefer to work in analog or digital? I started on analog but the fact of the matter is I had a choice for many years which one I wanted to do and since I care much more about creativity, composition then sound I go digital always. I love a lot of digital recordings and I believe it to be fact that 90% of the people bitching about the digital sound should really be bitching about their lack skills, not the format. People make stunning digital recordings all the time, the time to learn how to do it was yesterday. Yet again more dinosaurs who I look forward to the extinction of.
To your ears, what album stands out as one of best sounding? Hmmm, as a kid, Lifetime Jersey's Best Dancers which was done by Steve Evetts was the first recording to blow my mind. Today, I really like the way Justice "â€ " sounds. I think that record is going to change everything production wise in the next few years. The techniques those guys used fusing Pop, Dance and IDM, people will be mastering for a long time. Jimmy Eat World Bleed American I still find to be the most tasteful classy modern rock recording. I feel like most people just make a badly executed or cheesy, unrefined version of that production these days. Say Anything ... Is A Real Boy would be the other example of the same sentiment. Every Tortoise record is pretty flawless, smooth, and really interesting. What are your pet peeves when it comes to recording? Unprepared bands. I am interested in making something great, but bands these days rush into recording cause they are dying to get a song up on Myspace as fast as possible so some chick with some Vanilla Ice shit shaved into the side of her head leaves him a sweet comment about how much she likes his song. Bands do not get that their potential is all dependent on their recordâ€™s quality, yet bands just rush it. I am gonna repeat this to drill it home "HOW GOOD A SONG YOU WRITE BEFORE YOU GO INTO THE STUDIO DETERMINES HOW FAR YOU CAN POTENTIALLY GO IN LIFE!!! DO NOT RUSH IT UNLESS YOU LIKE THE IDEA OF LIVING IN YOUR MOM'S BASEMENT AND WORKING AT 7-11 WHEN YOU ARE 40" The most important time of the recording is before (writing good songs and being well rehearsed and thought out) it and then actually doing hard work, not just friending chicks with dumb haircuts on My Space. What do you think are some necessary qualifications for being in the recording business? Passion and dedication. I have seen so many different people make it in this business that lack what I once thought were necessary skills to succeed, but all of them have had that.
Neil Weir (Signal to Trust, The Chambermaids, Michael Yonkers w/ The Blind Shake ) theoldblackberryway.com How did you get into recording? Listening to records, playing guitar, and reading led to me figuring out the basics. I worked at Pachyderm Studio for four years and that experience was invaluable. I got to help out on sessions with Brian Paulson, Bob Weston, and a lot of other great engineers. I learned a lot from Brent Sigmeth. Do you feel home recording is hurting studio recording's business? I don't think there's any question that it's hurting the bigger studios. I've personally found myself working on a lot of records that are partially home recorded and partially recorded in the studio. Vampire Hands tracked their new record in their practice space and took it to me for mixing. I'm really happy with the way it turned out. A lot of the overdubs on Signal to Trust's Golden Armour were done in their home studio, too. I think hybrid approaches like that are becoming more common. It definitely requires that the band have at least one member who is a pretty good engineer, though. Studios with fairly low overheads, good engineers, and a willingness to try different approaches to making records will survive... I hope. Do you prefer to work in analog or digital? I generally prefer the sound and physical interactivity of good analog equipment, although I like the flexibility of digital recording if it's used for good and not evil. To your ears, what album stands out as one of best sounding? Most of my favorite sounding records seem to have been made between 1965 and 1980. There are too many to choose from...
The Slider, London Calling, Chairs Missing, Can... up through Future Days, the Neu! records, Revolver, Lust for Life, Damn the Torpedoes, pretty much everything CCR recorded, Funhouse, The Modern Dance, Led Zeppelin, Zuma, Tonight's the Night, Plastic Ono Band, Sleep No More, The Faust Tapes, Marquee Moon, Another Green World, Joe Meek, AC/DC up though Back in Black, Jailbreak, The Big Star records. As far as somewhat more recent stuff goes... Pod, Loveless, Painful, Psychocandy, and Separation Sunday What are your pet peeves when it comes to recording? Trend chasing, over-compression, people complaining about over-compression. People thinking that running their gear "in the red" somehow makes their recordings sound crazy and tough rather than gimmicky and boring. What do you think are some necessary qualifications for being in the recording business? A balance of technical and creative abilities, patience, an understanding of music and psychology, a realization that they are working for the band, and an unrelenting urge to dedicate one's life to recording despite the long hours and frustration.
Jonathan Kreinik (!!!, Trans Am, Frodus) boombox.alkem.org How did you get into recording? My dad is a musician and used to be a hi-fi stereo buff. We had varying ways of recording audio, reel-toreels and Panasonic cassette recorders, whatever. I started using them all when I was around 7, I'd record his band, eventually I was making music and recorded myself, and continued from there. I interned at a studio in high school, working on things by HR, DJ Kool, generally helping set up sessions, cleaning the toilets, did audio for a show on public tv/cable access/TLC, also in high school. Went to music school and studied it, dropped out and started my own studio, then worked out of Trans Am's studio for a few years, and generally have had DIY situations the whole time. I've been recording all my life, I guess. Do you feel home recording is hurting studio recording's business? I certainly hope so. I come from a music background and not a business one. So I equate "recording studio business" with "music business." Those two things never seemed to be the most financially nor artistically beneficial things to actual music. I like nice gear and I like nice rooms and I certainly like studios but I don't care if professional studios go away. I'm from DC, where we were pretty DIY there and anything to be empowered to created took precedence over feeling we NEEDED to use a pro studio to accomplish a record. At the same time, there are a lot of really talented people that work at or use studios in really creative ways and I think their/our aesthetics and abilities will never be lessened by the fact that someone can record an album on Garageband and upload it to the internet for free. Bands I've worked for -- friends -- always come to me for help with whatever they're doing on their own and I'm happy to steer them right in order to make things sound the way they envisioned. I think it's a shame to funnel whatever income a band can make back into the music industry, of which, professional studios have always been a part. I think that's a crime. The RIAA should just subsidize studios and producer/engineers and then maybe we'll let them (the RIAA) stick around. Do you prefer to work in analog or digital? Digital will never sound as good to me as analog. By the same token, analog will never be as easy to manipulate in an editing situation as digital, so I like that digital's around. I think they compliment each other well. To your ears, what album stands out as one of best sounding? It's always hard to choose one, as I tend to go in cycles of focusing on one for a while and I'm in between. At the moment I'll say that the song "SD Is Out" on the new Snoop Dogg record is a really astounding recording of electronic music -- it's definitely an amazing mix/mastering job, and has raised the bar for me personally on that side of things. An easy "best sounding record" is Can's Tago Mago. Groundhogs Split or Kraftwerk's Computerworld or Kylie Minogue's Fever or Michael Jackson's Off the Wall, or C-AarmĂŠ's first record. I like records where I don't think about how amazing the production is until I'm already way in love with it. Still, it's hard to stop at one. What are your pet peeves when it comes to recording? I have absolutely no patience for recording people who are unprepared when we have a limited amount of time to work together. I think it's completely disrespectful of the process and just doesn't bode well for anything sounding good. This isn't a pet peeve, it's more like a major offense. Nothing ever sounds as
good as when it's been learned, possessed, completely owned and ingrained, no matter how many nice, vintage, esoteric gear things you have in the chain. I'd like to think Aretha Franklin wasn't trying to remember how to sing her parts when she opened her mouth in front of the mic. Otherwise I have the same pet peeves as everyone else, things not working -- not even in a cool, "broken but interesting-sounding" way. I don't like that most recording situations seem to involve an uncomfortable chair. I don't like people having ongoing conversations when I'm editing or mixing or working, so I guess I don't like recording situations that don't involve a place for the rest of the band to go -- I don't really feel like the whole band or their friends need to be in the control room the whole time if they're not going to pay attention. But I understand it's exciting and necessary to be involved in the process and I wouldn't want to take that away from a band, especially when most of the time people don't realize they're doing it. It's probably my fault for generally trying to make records more like a hangout than this clock-watchingpanic-attack, unless that's the vibe I'm trying to record. I don't like tripping on people's cases when I have to go back and forth from control room to studio a million times a day. No matter how nice or how much I of a dick I am about it, it always happens. I guess it's the hangout thing. What do you think are some necessary qualifications for being in the recording business? A business degree. No morals. A prescription to speed. I financial backer, family, drug dealer, girl/boyfriend, whatever, to pay your rent while you party with people who can advance your career so you don't have to waste your time working. A good lawyer. A gun or a bat. Wrong question to ask me, as I'm a complete fuck-up when it comes to "the biz." (said with appropriate irony). I make money solely from it and a rare freelance audio job, so I guess I'm good at sticking around, living in NYC without working very much and maintaining my integrity in the process, means I work with people I know and trust who make music that attracts me, that I can make a personal investment in. So you either have to be someone that can steamroller through the mess of the industry or someone who people like to work with. I definitely have maintained through the latter. I guess if you're an asshole and out for a quick gain, you probably need things from that list, but otherwise I think just being a music head, a true fan of music and the people who make it, being a musician, or having had experience at one point being with a band, interacting on that level, performing in front of people and spent hours dorking out about records, listening to them, really being able to immerse yourself in what makes listening to music something that you can't live without -- I think those things make tolerable all the really, really shitty aspects of the music business and subsequently the recording business.
I'm thinking about putting together a magazine portfolio and seeing how many crazy different magazines I can get to run my stuff. In-Fisherman? Cat Fancy? It'll be a ridiculous experiment.â€?
Nothing Nice to Say
How'd you get into doing comics? I was into comics since I was a little kid. I learned to read with the help of Calvin & Hobbes and the Far Side. In addition to that, I liked to draw from the age I could hold a crayon, so I think the progression to cartoonist was pretty organic. I started drawing my own comics in elementary school, mostly Looney Toons stuff like anvils falling on people and the like, and eventually my art just grew with me. How long does it typically take you to finish a comic start to finish? Depends. I'm notoriously slow at absolutely everything I do. I just sort of move at my own speed, so it can take me hours to go out grocery shopping, for instance. That said, when making a comic, if I really buckle down and just work work work from start to finish, I'd say it's maybe two hours give or take? It's hard to say because I absolutely never work start to finish like that, there's always ten thousand internet breaks interspersed where I check my MySpace and then I get distracted and I spend an hour online reading Wikipedia entries of obscure DC comics superheroes before I remember I was supposed to be working. What do you listen to while your making comics? Stand-up comedy a lot of the time. I am a huge, HUGE stand-up nerd. George Carlin, Maria Bamford, Paul F. Tompkins, Richard Pryor, Mike Birbiglia, etc etc. Really lots of that. After that I listen to a few podcasts. Never Not Funny with Jimmy Pardo is one of my favorites, and I like Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and This American Life from NPR, plus the twice daily five minute NPR news updates. Music I reserve for driving in the car.
NN2S became pretty popular within a short time of being online, did you ever imagine that it was grow to what it is today? Not at all. I really had no idea what to expect. I didn't even know that webcomics existed when I started drawing the comics. My friend Pat tipped me off to that when I was trying to figure out how to distribute NN2S strips. I was going to just do a zine. I'd already done a zine for a couple years called Summer's Over, so my experience with self publishing was handing out free issues to people at shows and then walking through the club at the end of the night picking them all back up off the floor where everyone tossed them away as soon as I handed it to them. I wasn't used to people caring what I had to say AT ALL, so to see NN2S blow up the way it did really took me by surprise. When is the NN2S book scheduled to be released? What will be included in the book? How did Dark Horse Comics become involved with releasing it? The book is due out in September assuming all this behind-the-scenes work gets done on time. Books are a huge pain in the ass to organize. It's going to contain all of the NN2S strips from 2005 through 2006 (i.e. the very start of the black and white years), plus the month I did writing and drawing Joe and Monkey in January 2005, and a good dozen or so guest strips I did for other people. Lots of bonus pages. As for Dark Horse, they approached me. I had put together basically this book already and was going to release it through Silver Sproket, the guys who do my merch for me, and Dark Horse sent me an email and said "Hey, if you ever want to do a book, we're interested" and I said "It just so happens I already have a book ready to print! Let's roll!" Silver Sprocket was nothing but stoked. Getting to work with Dark Horse is very exciting and quite an honor.
My Stupid Life
You had talked before about doing book tour when it comes out, any plans for that still? Eesh. Maybe? I'm really bad in social situations, and really bad at receiving compliments. Every time I've sat at a table at a con it's been kinda awkward and it's hard for me to turn that around into natural conversation. I'm just an "indoor kid", you know? Also, I don't like touring. I don't like being away from my girlfriend for that long, I don't like sleeping in strange places, I'm allergic to everything so I can't go anywhere... Really, I'm just a ball of nerves, so the idea of touring is very frightening. But who knows! I can't rule anything out. How has the whole process with releasing a book been? Grueling. Dark Horse changed the dimensions, so we have to re-lay the whole thing out, they want me to touch up the art to make it look nicer (remove specks and stray pencil marks, etc). They're professionals and I'm very much a slacker. But it's good for the book in the long run, so I'm toughing it out. How many comics did you have to re-draw for the NN2S book? I think I redrew less than ten. The original idea was to redraw all those old color ones so it could be printed cheaper and at a higher quality (I threw out all the originals and never saved the high resolution strips, so all that exist of them are the 72 dpi ones you see online), but that just didn't take. Huge amount of work with too delayed a payoff. But there's a good-sized intro to this book that introduces all the characters through the early strips, so I redrew one for each character. From looking at early NN2S Stirps to flyers you've done recently, it's obvious that your artistic ability has gotten better. Did you take some formal training or was it a case of "practice makes perfect"? Practice practice practice! That's really all it takes to an extent. I do have plans to get some formal training in the future. I'm at a point where I don't know how much I can advance on my own without taking some life drawing courses, etc, sort of grow in a more traditional sense, and then see how I can apply that to cartoons. But, so far, it's just a matter of drawing all the time, being open to critiques, consciously trying new things, and I'm pleased with how far that's gotten me. I still have a ways to go, though, in my mind. I won't be asked to draw Batman any time soon where I'm at now.
You've mentioned many bands and labels in NN2S but have bands or labels asked you to mention them in NN2S? Not that I can think of. It seems like something people would do, because I've been asked some pretty inappropriate stuff before (like to put NN2S characters on someone else's album cover or in ads for their stuff, etc), but I don't think that one in particular has happened. People don't even offer me free CDs. Can you imagine that? I've been doing this for six years now and I still almost never get free CDs. Do you actively seek out bands/shows to do flyers for or do the bands come to you? They all come to me now. When I was starting out with that, with the flyers, I went out and asked everyone I liked if they needed anything, I'd do it for free, etc. Now that I've built up a portfolio and sort of a presence, people will come to me and pay for commissioned work, which is nice.
Do you think you'll ever be able to make a living completely by doing artwork? I do right now! As meager a living as you can imagine, I'm constantly broke, but rent gets paid and I eat almost every day, so I'm satisfied. You've been doing art and comics for Razorcake for a while now, how'd that deal come about? Are you looking to to illustrations for other magazines? I approached Razorcake a long time ago along with a few other sizeable punk zines about illustrating for them. Maximumrocknroll never wrote me back, Punk Planet said no, Razorcake said hell yeah. And I love it, by the way. One of the most fun things I do for sure. I totally want to do more magazine stuff, it's seriously a total blast. I'm thinking about putting together a magazine portfolio and seeing how many crazy different magazines I can get to run my stuff. In-Fisherman? Cat Fancy? It'll be a ridiculous experiment. You've worked with Joe Dunn on a few projects, what are some benefits with working an artist like Joe? Are you two still working on the Turnstile Comics site? Any plans to revive The Coffee Achievers? Joe Dunn's just too busy with his real life anymore to collaborate with me, I tried. So no more Coffee Achievers for a while, and I don't see us doing another comic together soon if ever. Which is a bummer because he's really one of the best artists
What are some benefits/drawbacks of being an artist is Texas as opposed to being one in Minnesota? In Minnesota you can hole up in a coffee shop for twelve hours and work all day. You're indoors all the time no matter what, so it seems natural to do an indoor activity. In Texas you always, ALWAYS want to be going outside and enjoying the weather, and so staying indoors I get cabin fever a bit more. But seasonal depression doesn't hit down here because it's always sunny, so people are pretty nice most of the time.
out there and is terrific to work with and he's a good friend, but the guy's married and has a job and at some point your life has to take priority over comics. So it goes. How much of My Stupid Life true to your actual life? Hm. The scenarios are generally from real life. I add the punchlines for flavor. The one with the sign in the bathroom, "employees: don't worry about washing hands" or whatever was completely made up, just a commentary about how those signs telling employees to wash their hands are bullshit and only serve to make the customer at ease, they don't actually make anyone wash their hands who wouldn't already. Whereas the one where Amanda has the nightmare about a spider everyone thought was made up for some reason, and that one happened exactly like that, word for word.
What are the details of the record label your starting? Why'd you want to start a record label? I've wanted to start a label for forever now for probably the same reason anyone wants to: It sounds like a lot of fun and I think I can expose people to new bands they might not otherwise discover. And because there are records that just need to exist, that someone needs to put out, so why not me. I'm handling all that aspect of it, finding bands, figuring out what to release and etc, and my friend Avi from Silver Sproket is in charge of all the stuff that he thinks is fun and I think is boring, i.e. mail-order and business whatnots. I'm also going to do all the work as far as cover art and laying out interiors and stuff, like John Yates had done with Allied back when. What releases do you have planned? The stuff we're going to do for sure so far are, first we're gonna do a split 7" with Brickfight and ShangA-Lang. Both awesome, awesome bands, I'm really excited about this one. And then we're gonna do a CD-only compilation of Shang-A-Lang's discography to date, all their 7"s and comp tracks and the like. Which is really exciting, because it's going to be an absolutely essential CD, you know what I mean? They're one of the best bands out there right now, the songs are amazing, the album will rule. Someone else is going to do a vinyl version of that one. And after that we'll play it by ear. I've already made a list of bands I want to work with to whatever capacity we can get them, so we'll see how it goes.
â€œthose signs telling employees to wash their hands are bullshit and only serve to make the customer at ease, they don't actually make anyone wash their hands who wouldn't already.â€? 15
Your latest release, Drescher, was released about 5 months ago. Looking back, do you think you accomplished everything you wanted to with that record? Yeah I think we did. We were able to add some new people and try some new things with it still coming off as the same band. We also were able to work on some stuff we were not completely happy with on the recording last time. How has Drescher been received so far? I've seen some good and some bad reviews but I try not to pay attention to those. Friends that I respect their opinion have told me its a step forward, which makes me happy. For the most part people who liked the first record like Drescher as well.
The lyrics for "Drescher Clock" were inspired in part by a visit to a German Military Hospital where you passed out from having too much blood drawn. Do the majority of your lyrics come from personal experiences? I think I can safely say that all the lyrics from this record came from personal experiences or observations. I don't think there is any overarching theme to any of the songs I wrote. They go from songs about getting old, to homelessness, to things falling apart.
Is it true that the album and first track were named after a German fan? Kinda. Its really too stupid a story to go into but the short version is... a friend who helped us with a show in Germany gave us a clock since we had no clock in the van. We named the clock after her. Then we had no name for one of the new songs we were playing, so we named the song after the clock. Then we liked the way the word Drescher sounded so we ended up naming the record that. I told you it was a pretty stupid story. Is the majority of the song-writing and lyrics done by one person or is it a collaborative group effort? Your wife wrote some of the lyrics to the song "Fever Sleep", how did she get involved with the lyric writing? All the songs are written collaboratively. Usually one person comes to practice with the main idea then we all work on it. I think 5 people wrote lyrics on this record so that's all over the place. I always have stolen writing from my wife, that's how she got involved. I really like how she writes and her perspective. Chris, Mike's brother, got involved because we all love his voice and Kevin had a specific idea for him on the 4th song.
With four vocalists, how do you decide who's going to sing what parts? People just stepped up to sing the parts they wanted to sing. Usually the person singing the main vocals on a song is the same person who came with the initial idea for the song.
With 5 members in the band, some playing in other bands, is it difficult to coordinate everyone's schedule to practice and tour? Itâ€™s was a little hard sometimes but we had a pretty set practice schedule. More than scheduling, I think five people also makes it hard logistically. We had to buy 5 plane tickets, had to rent 5 peoples worth of equipment and in the States we had to have a van big enough for 5 people and all their stuff. Haram has been compared to bands like Unwound, Drive like Jehu and Fugazi. Do you think that is an accurate representation of your band sound? Not really. I've never really liked people comparing us to those bands. Don't get me wrong, I really like those bands, I just don't get the comparison. I guess I hear elements that are similar. Sometimes I wonder if we were not from DC and Lovitt never put out a "bio" thing with comparisons on it, what people would say. Why'd you feel it was important to release a vinyl version of Drescher? I think all of us like vinyl better than CDs. I like it for the physical size. More room for the artwork. CDs seem so disposable to me. Whenever I get a new CD I just put it in my Itunes and set it aside. Kind of sad. Living close to DC, what are your hopes for politics in 2008? I hope for a lot of things but I don't think they are going to happen. Hope we end the war. Hope we get out of Afghanistan. Hope we help Palestinians fight oppression, find autonomy and secure the refugee right of return. I don't see any of that happening with the choices we are given. People still choose to be apathetic and content with a choice of candidates that in my opinion all represent a similar agenda. Haram has been fortunate enough to tour Europe twice. How does touring in Europe compare to touring the States? "Fortunate" is definitely the right word to use. I feel so lucky that we had a chance to go their twice. We met so many great people and shared so many experiences I will never forget. Compared to the states lots of things are easier. The drives are shorter. Places usually make food for the bands.
Things like that. Some things are harder though. For example its more expensive with having to rent equipment and a van, plus you are so far from home and when times get rough its can be pretty stressful. What are some necessities for touring Europe? This is a question I can answer with some experience. Flip-flops, a water proof jacket, good 20+ degree sleeping bag, lots of socks and underwear, music and a way to play it, and books. After that your pretty much good to go. Oh and a pocket full of nice soft toilet paper is always a special treat when things get their most bleak. Were there any places in Europe that you didn't have a chance to play and would like to? I would love to play southern Spain, southern Italy, Greece, and Poland. I would have killed to make it back to Budapest on this last tour but due to some van problems we didn't make it. Is the crowd turnout better in Europe than in the U.S.? I think it was for us. Probably because we toured more there than we toured in the States. Haram recently announced that they are no longer playing together, are there any projects that you guys moving on too? Yeah, lots of them were already going when we called it quits. Mike is continuing to do Pygmy Lush, Andy and Kevin are doing The Shirks, I am playing in Cloak/Dagger, and Ben is still doing the Bickersons, as well as writing some songs with me.
Jon and Chris have worked together in a number of bands, what makes it so easy for you two to work together? Jon: Now, it's familiarity. But, early on, it was the excitement of sharing our ideas. We had a sense of trust for each other because we tried ideas together and these ideas brought us to new ideas, so we kept going. For many people, this process doesn't go very far, but Chris and I have always shared an understanding. Our ideas were always rooted in similar foundations. Chris: I agree. It's funny too, because Jon and I haven't just played "post-rock" or whatever you want to call it together. . .we've been in bands for 15 years together ranging from very experimental to very rock. Our ideas, regardless of genre, seem to not only resonate with each other from the start of whatever endeavor we are currently undertaking, but they also always seem to get better with the incorporation of each others input. You left your long time home for recording, Polyvinyl, and switched to Table of Elements/ Radium for the release of Birds. Why the switch and what's it like working with a new label after working with a previous one for so long? Jon: Table of the Elements is the perfect home for the music we're doing. Polyvinyl are great friends, but our music since Pele has shifted so I'm not sure they knew what to do with us, and neither did the majority of their customers. Switching was merely a way to find a home for our music where all parties had what they felt comfortable with. Chris: Right. The natural evolution of Bees brought us to where we are now musically, which is somewhat divergent from where Polyvinyl is. We love and respect Polyvinyl, and still talk to them all the time. Table of the Elements is a record label that has released, and is still releasing, some of our favorite records from some of our musical heroes. We're fortunate to have started a relationship with a label that is so near and dear to us.
After Pele ended, you decided to use the name Collections of Colonies of Bees because it had name recognition and it didn't have a specific musical style associated with it. After 2 full-length releases under the name, what music styles do you think can be associated with it?
With the release of Customer, you had 3 interpretations that were released, a US version with electronic and live tracks, Japanese version with the electronic and live tracks switched and a vinyl version with both. Was there any plans to do anything similar to this with Birds?
Jon: Well, there are actually a few full-lengths in the COCOB discography (S/T, Rance, fa.ce(a, and Customer). Rather than pick through these and analyze styles involved, I would just say that it's always been us, and that we never left anything behind. Each record that we do carries elements from the previous ones, as well as new stuff that carries us forward.
Jon: With Birds, we were really interested in making a record that represented our live sound. Customer was more about the studio, so we wanted to explore our music on multiple levels and have multiple versions of things. Each track was then sort of the 'custom' version from the others.
Chris: I agree. If you take these in combination with the other records (Stuck, MeYou, etc.), I suppose many "styles" could be associated with the moniker since we started using it in 1998. We don't really think of it like that though. As Jon says, it's a vehicle for us and our friends/collaborators to document whatever we are all interested in at the time. I suppose it can be confusing to some people looking to find similarity across the breadth of our records, but that type of consistency never really concerned us.
Chris: Not really. . .like Jon said, the goal was completely different. Birds is a snapshot of our live show circa 2007 - 2008. Maybe it was a reaction to never having anything for sale at shows that was representative of what we had just played, but documentation of these specific songs the exact way we perform them was our singular intention with Birds. I mean, I *love* the idea of the three different versions of Customer. I love it. But we had already done it, and conceptually it didn't make as much sense with this material.
You've been a part of the Milwaukee music scene for a while, what do you like about it that has kept you there? What benefits does a band have in Milwaukee that a band from somewhere else doesn't have? Jon: It's not the music scene that's kept us here, but a variety of other things. Chris: That's true. I will say though, that Milwaukee, more than most places I think, has a certain non-pretentiousness about the people who play music here that tends to really foster collaboration. Bees to a large extent, as well as a lot of our other endeavors have been possible due to this. It seems like it is very easy to play with people you respect around here. Maybe it's the same other places, but not everywhere, that's for sure. You've been playing music for more than 15 years, what keeps you playing it? Jon: I've been playing drums for 23 years because I really enjoy it. There's no real reason beyond that. Chris: I still really value playing with Jon after 15 years because he still constantly challenges me to explore new parts of my playing. An idea that I am satisfied with that would normally stay where it is with other musicians tends to get explored more deeply when playing with Jon. That's exciting no matter how long you have played with someone. As far as why I still play "music" in general, I don't really think about it. It's just an integral part of my personality I suppose. I really can't envision not doing it. Justin from Bon Iver recently named Collections of Colonies of Bees his favorite new band, have you seen any increased interest for the band since then? Tom: We love Justin's music, and we love Justin, so we are excited that he's gaining popularity. If someone gets turned on to us through him, that is wonderful, but I don't think anyone is counting on a large crossover. Chris: Like Tom says, we have known Justin and have been mutual fans of each others work for a while now. He's a good friend, and we are happy he still likes the music we are writing. Perhaps some people who wouldn't normally listen to us are paying more attention, I really don't know, but if so, great. I hope they like it.
You are do doing a collaboration later this year with Bon Iver, how'd this collaboration come about and what can be expected from it? Chris: I am really excited about it. It all started 2 + years ago with me recording some stuff after I first heard Blemish by David Sylvian. I was so struck by the starkness and beauty of that record, and the possibilities of seemingly unlikely collaborations, that I actually sat down with the intention of writing some songs that were very stripped down that I thought someone could potentially sing over. Not to copy it, just to see what might happen. I had no idea of who would sing on them, I just figured that at some point someone would. Jim and I actually gave them to our good friend WIlliam Seidel from Decibully first, but nothing ever really came of it, and since there wasn't really ever any real plan for it, there it sat. That was before we had met and become friends with Justin. After playing many shows with DeYarmond Edision, his previous band, he approached us to collaborate on his amazing solo "Hazeltons" record. We did, and asked him to do the same. Him reciprocating on the songs that I had written years before is an amazing ending to what started for me a while ago. What he has done fits perfectly. The result is a true hybrid of Bees and Justin; including those songs, now as templates that everyone contributed to, as well as new ones written specifically for this release. I can't wait. Tom: The band has known Justin for about 2 years, but I've known him a little longer. My wife Megan went to school with him, and I'm best friends with his former band mates; Brad Cook and Joey Westerlund, who are now in (the fucking amazing band) Megafaun. The collaboration started around a year and a half ago when he asked Chris to contribute to some songs he was working on, and blossomed from there. His recent popularity has definitely caught us all off-guard, but I don't think it surprised anyone. Bon Iver is new to most people, but we've known for a while that Justin has a remarkable way of connecting to people, that he's able to make them want to be a part of what he's doing. I can remember 4 years ago watching a room packed full of college students hanging on his every note, so I fully expected him to attract the sort of following he is now gaining. As for the music we're working on, it's much more experimental than the "Bon Iver" stuff, although I feel like it's still very beautiful. With some of the tracks, it's a more unconventional sort of beauty. Some of it reminds me of older Bees stuff, when it was just Chris and Jon, but with these amazing vocals integrated. It'll have a couple of surprises for sure.
When crafting these 7 to 11 minute songs, how does the song-writing process work? Where do the ideas for certain parts come from? Jon: The ideas really come from everyone. Each person creates their part, so in the end, the songs are about everyone's contribution. We seem to have found a nice balance with this. With some people, this arrangement could lead to people doing things that stand far out from everyone else. We've got an understanding with the music that keeps everything at a good level. Chris: Right. The other thing about Birds is that is was written over such a long period of time that many of the original parts no longer exist; what remains are reactions to or augmentations of the original parts that have now taken the place of the originals. Sometimes this has happened a couple of times over. The current line-up is so solid that this can happen and it is never a problem. In fact, it's welcomed, because then this type of evolution permeates into others' parts too, and by the end we are still playing the same song that we wrote four years ago, but no one is playing the same parts.
How was the process of writing and recording Birds different than Customer? Chris: It was 100% different. Customer was written and assembled solely in a studio environment. BIRDS was a documentation of a live set that had been written and re-written over the course of years in the crucible of live performance and rehearsals. The recording was all done by us, as always, but everything else was completely different. Many Collection of Colonies of Bees songs sound like they have many layers, how do you recreate that into a live show? Chris: Technology, sometimes sophisticated but mostly very rudimentary, facilitates it. Personally, I use two loop pedals for every song we perform live, with upwards of 20 individual loops going at any given time in any song. This layering is compounded by Jim and Tom both having laptops in addition to their primary instruments to add further layers to the live show. This affords us the ability to create anything from very sparse intros and breaks to sections with layered density beyond most "rock" bands, all with the same personnel.
Tom: Like Chris said, Jim and I both have laptops on stage, and since I think that carries with it a certain stigma, and is often misunderstood, I'd just like to briefly state what those laptops do. Like Chris with his loopers, almost everything we do with the computers is completely live. Jim uses no prerecorded sounds at all, and is using a process called grainular synthesis to process Chris's guitar (he has a microphone in front of Chris's amp that runs into his computer). He's basically recording what Chris is playing, and manipulating a variety of parameters that control pitch, density and other things. I am basically using the same process, however am processing small snippits of sound already on my computer. Another interesting thing is that very little of Chris's loops or our processing is based around rhythm, most of it is textural in nature.
me, listening to a song with words would be the exception, not the norm. And when you consider how diverse and varied "wordless" music can be, (what do John Coltrane, Bach, Neu!, Steve Reich, and Merzbow have in common?) the fact that we don't have lyrics seems even more inconsequential. You played SXSW this year, how did it go? Were there any bands that you specifically wanted to see while there? What do you think of the whole SXSW experience? Jon: It was a great time! I got to see 1349, too. So, everything was really perfect. Tom: Slaraffenland was amazing. What's next for Collection of Colonies of Bees?
I know Jon also does his solo stuff, is anyone else in the band involved with other projects? Chris: We all do, depending on how busy we are with other things in our lives. Tom: I write and record a lot of music, but mostly by myself. I also do shows in improv settings, and sometimes installation stuff as well. Jim actually just did an awesome sound/video installation at UWM. The instrumental genre has been getting more attention lately, why do you think that is? Where does Collection of Colonies of Bees fit into that genre?
Jon: Birds' Japanese release, with a video and a remix by Pluramon. Then hopefully a tour there as well. We have a new 12" coming out on Table of the Elements titled Six Guitars too. I believe that comes out in April. Chris: Right. . .we also have a Midwestern tour with Bon Iver in April, and the collaboration with Bon Iver sometime later this year on Jagjaguwar. . .and we'll be writing all summer, so a new record sooner than later this time.
Jon: Maybe because the music can be whatever the listener wants it to be, without being dictated by the "message" within lyrics. Good lyrics are powerful, however your reaction to sound can change with your own mood, so that instrumental music can fit more situations. Chris: Has the instrumental genre has been getting more attention lately? I didn't know that. I have no idea where we fit, but it sounds like it's a good thing for us. . . Tom: Personally, I find the urge to lump all instrumental music into the same genre as puzzling, and I'm confused as to why that's such a point of focus for people. I understand that we are traveling within the confines of pop music, and 99% of what gets written about on say... Pitchfork, has lyrics, but for
For the recording of Boo Human, you had a sign up sheet for people to come in whenever to record parts to songs. Were the songs mostly finished by that point and everyone added something to them or were the songs in a basic form and then constructed fully during recording? When the sessions began I had about 20 songs completed as my guitar parts and vocals. There was a big schedule / chart on the wall to keep track of who was showing up when and what songs to prioritize putting together with that group of people. There were basically two shifts each day - noon to 6pm and 7pm into the wee hours. So once everyone arrived I would play them all the couple potential songs we could work on and they would choose what was sounding more interesting to them and then we would proceed to arrange it together and then eventually start recording takes and listening back and talking through our options. It was an entirely democratic process between all present. My only advantage was seeing the big picture moreso than everyone else, so things did change a bit as we progressed, because after a few days we were aware of what we already had done and had developed some ideas how that might be put together which then helped nudge us toward some more prepositional approaches to the remaining songs. You mentioned that you had around 60 to 70 songs on your computer prior to working on Boo Human? How did you go about selecting the ones that made onto Boo Human? Maybe its cuz I don't eat meat or maybe its a testosterone thing, but I am constitutionally severely indecisive. So in creative endeavors, I sometimes know that I have to be a hardass and not look back on decisions. I spent a day listening through everything - none of which I should mention sounds even remotely familiar to me because I record these, stick them in their appropriate folders and never listen to them again until a year or whenever later I start putting something together. So I make a first pass and put everything in one of 3 folders - Yes, No, and Maybe. If there were 60 songs, then it would've been something like 3 yes, 25 No and 32 maybes. Then the next week when I sit down to sort things out, I only have 32 maybes to really worry about. At this point I start re-learning how to play them and sitting with them each a bit to figure out what kind of possibilities exist.
Many of the lyrics on Boo Human seem directed at one person. What was the main influence behind these lyrics? One person You said in an interview that "finding the right collaborators is the single most important aspect of any creative venture" and a number of people collaborated with you on Boo Human. How do you decide which people should play what? Do you know everyone's musical strengths and weaknesses? Well these are really mostly just my friends and people I have seen play many times in different contexts. One of the primary distinctions when charting out the schedule was Josh could be there 3 afternoons and no nights and Sam could be there 3 nights and no afternoons - so I figured out which songs seemed more like Josh bassline songs and which were more Sam bassline songs. You and Sam have worked together in different bands for a long time, what makes it easy to work with him? The same question applies for Chris Strong. You've worked with him on a number of projects including the Orchard Vale film? Well those are two people I adore and have some deep worldviews in common with, but I would never say I have too easy of a time collaborating with either. The only person involved in this record I have a harder time collaborating with would be my brother, the only person I've been playing with as long as Sam. We all bicker and get snide and impatient with each other sometimes, but I think by this point there is a deep trust established between all of us. In the case of Joan of arc, I know if I have provoked the genesis of some form it will only improve in their hands. In Make Believe, Sam trusts me to be part of the small committee throwing out suggestions on how to warp and twist the structures to their most effective ends. Members of your family have been involved with many different projects like playing with your brother and cousin in bands and your uncle in Orchard Vale. What's it like having that kind of support from your family? That question has a bit of a sad-orphan ring to it. My musical abilities could not begin to compare to the talents of both Mike and Nate. They both have deeply intuitive and technically developed talents I would be envious of if I weren't instead proud of each of them and of course directly a direct beneficiary of those talents. And I think its vital to collaborate with people you can trust you will emerge from battle from, so maybe you know you can push family a little harder and they still have to be around? But that's not so much of an issue anymore really since we now all spend one week a year in any kind of intensely concentrative collaboration. And my uncle is just a really smart and funny and compassionate guy, so maybe it was already having worked with Mike and Nate so much that made it make sense to me to approach him, but I knew he would be great and that we have a deep trust that he'd do his best for me and I wouldn't make a fool of him and so its simple. With so much time and effort put into Make Believe, was it a difficult decision to leave the band? Sure, I mean it wasn't a spontaneous or rash decision and as funny as this must sound from someone who has been doing this one band for 12 or 13 years, I like expiration dates and finality on things. Can is one of my favorite bands, but I don't wanna hear anything from the second 2/3 of their career. But then again Captain Beefheart made Doc at the Radar Station at the end of his career, so I digress. But I just mean, listening to my gut is everything to me. And I have always felt like I'd be content walking away entirely from any kind of public-music-life at any time and my life would not diminish in quality in any way.
â€œI am just interested in life and what the fuck is it and what the fuck am I in this whatever it is? And sometimes music happens as a celebration of this engagement and the joy and wonder of it all.â€?
How long were you out of Make Believe and what made you want to come back? Are you back to stay? I returned just to finish the record that was mostly done when I split. Figured if they weren't gonna press on without me then we may as well wrap it up neatly and end as we began. We have all learned to live with ambiguity as Make Believe. It’s not the kind of thing any of us are really able to prioritize as we once did. Sam got more of a real job type job, I'm going back to school in the fall, Nate now lives a couple hours away. We're gonna be just like a local band that plays at the corner bar to their friends for awhile and keep it that simple if we continue as a band at all. What will be Make Believe's function now, is the band going to tour in support of Going to the Bone Church? We've tried coordinating shows, but even finding a weekend in common is a process that makes me want to pull my hair out. Probably nothing will happen for a long while, if at all, except of course by saying that I probably just guaranteed a world tour will be set up later this afternoon At what point in your early years did you first get into music? In 77, when I was 3 years old, Love Gun and Kiss Alive 2 both came out and that was it for me. I had thought Destroyer the year before was cool, but it didn't really connect with me like these two records did. I spent most of 1977 - 1979 in Kiss make-up and listening to those same 6 sides of vinyl all day every day. I didn't really even speak unless it was to sing “God of Thunder”. At 8 years old my cousin gave me two tapes - Dirty Deeds and Back in Black and that was the first non-Kiss music I really got into. What do you enjoy about making music that keeps you doing it? I went to the aquarium the other day and it was so funny and heavy looking at all these little under water people in their little worlds they couldn't see beyond and watching all their small hierarchies play out. Man I loved it. Also, "people-watching" is a reductive term for how much I appreciate just watching people walk around each with their own gait. And I don't mean this to sound aloof or judgmental at all and I in fact mean quite the opposite. I know this love for the common man may make me sound like a scoundrel, but I really so often just feel so much in love with the world. I know I have a bit of a reputation as a sour-puss and being difficult or whatever, but I trust whole-heartedly any of my friends, of which I have many which mean everything to me, would back me up in this claim of my love for humans in general. I'm telling you all this just to say I love people's mannerisms when they speak and seeing the physical support or contradictions of their language. I loved watching the little fish language ripple about between them or take shape in the patterns they swam around each other. And playing music is a language between my friends and I in which we can share with each other ideas and feelings no other language would be able to carry between us. And then once this poetic truth is sorta roughly defined between us (cuz it can never be completely fixed) and we each know which corner is our personal responsibility and how that relates to the others, then we together project it towards other people. But all of this must be done from a place of love within us. And I know, I hit people with mic stands at shows and I playfully posture and wrap things in theory, but there is never a sense of detachment. All of it exists only as loving with whatever means we can. Which one of your musical projects has been most rewarding for you? No one more than any other.
“My musical abilities could not begin to compare to the talents of both Mike and Nate. They both have deeply intuitive and technically developed talents I would be envious of, if I weren't instead proud of each of them, and of course directly a direct beneficiary of those talents.”
Music is obviously an interest for you, what other things are you interested in? Oh jeez, I feel as engaged in the world as I can imagine being, but I guess that's true of anyone who is not depressed. What I mean is, everything is mysterious to me every day and this enriches me deeply. Music is not really even something I think of as being of interest to me. I don't think about music or think about songs unless confronting them in some material form at that moment. I think of this cartoon-world and I think everything is funny and there is so much terror but very little of it is coming from anywhere the people talking about it say itâ€™s coming from and even that is funny. My best friend Paul and my wife Amy, my Gramma, all the closest relationships of my life are primarily based on humor. That's what's important to me. I am just interested in life and what the fuck is it and what the fuck am I in this whatever it is? And sometimes music happens as a celebration of this engagement and the joy and wonder of it all. Do you think people have a preconceived notion, before meeting you in person, of who you are from reviews that they've read and the music you've released? ? I think that was probably more true some years ago when Pitchfork was more pointed at me and I was villainized a bit more. I get uncomfortable when anyone thinks they know me at all because they know the records. The records are representative of some editing choices we've made in the past, but not necessarily representative of what we consciously want or mean to say. I don't know what any of any of it means removed from the sum bulk of it. So I don't feel too accountable for any specific phrases, which are probably mostly true in some inverse ratio to however cleverly they're stated. But you know, I don't know. How could I? I am not other people, so I would hate to suppose what this abstract other people may think, especially in regards to my self. Throughout your career, there have been a few mishaps you've made along the way when submitting albums to labels, like the album titles of the Cap'n Jazz anthology and So Much Staying Alive and Lovelessness and forgetting to send in the art for Eventually, All at Once. Has there been any other sort of mishaps that have happened with any of your other releases? Oh, that's funny that you know those stories. Uh, I mean yeah. All the time. A margin of error is certainly worked into our creative process by this point. We are certainly a bumbling bunch and I specifically am exceedingly clumsy and literally catch myself with my head in the clouds a couple times a week and sometimes even when driving and smoking weed every waking minute for about a decade didn't help. But the best example of this kind of thing is when Make Believe went to Japan with Owen last year. Mike made these hundreds of Owen t-shirts he paid to have shipped over there. Mistake #1 - people in Japan get enough of Japanese characters and prefer English on their t-shirts. Mistake #2 - Owen was translated phonetically since it doesn't necessarily have any literal meaning. And unfortunately that phonetically translates to "Party King" (which no Japanese person would look at and think of as reading "Owen" but would only read as "party king" and Mistake #3 - Just to top it all of, the shirt was accidentally written in Chinese characters. So he sold 2 or 3 shirts in 10 shows and then had to pay again to ship them all back home and the Japanese people that came to the shows were left entirely confused as to why Owen brought no shirts of his own to sell but instead brought Chinese "Party King" t-shirts.
â€œWe are certainly a bumbling bunch and I specifically am exceedingly clumsy and literally catch myself with my head in the clouds a couple times a week and sometimes even when driving and smoking weed every waking minute for about a decade didn't help.â€?
On the track "Depths of Field" from Field Recordings of Dreams, you recite a 36-minute piece of literature. Was that done in one take? What piece are you reading and why did you decide on that piece? There are a few stumbles in your speech during that recording, why did you decide to leave them in and not rerecord those parts? Oh no, that couldn't have been one take. I read that piece because that was the piece I had written and it was as long as it was because that's how long it took to read. My wife had gone out of town for work one weekend shortly after my dad had passed away and I had no obligations and that's what came out. Its funny, whenever she would have to leave town I always thought I'd be going wild and closing the 4 a.m. bars every night and going out on the town, but without exception, she'd leave town and I'd turn off my phone and close the curtains and be in silence for days at a time. I don't know why I left the stumbles in my reading in there. Maybe out of laziness after having to read something so long? I don't think I ever listened to it all the way through after doing the couple quick obvious edits I had to do, so maybe I was unaware of the stumbles? I don't remember. Now that you've completed Orchard Vale, are you writing any other scripts to be made into films? I've written two others and started working toward making one of them, but I had some distractions last fall that halted all progress with that and haven't spent 5 minutes on any movie ambitions in at least 6 months. What kind of freedom does being a bartender give you? Do you think you could ever work a 9 to 5, 40hr a week cubicle job? Lotsa money for short hours. And starting work at 10 or 11 at night seems like you have the day off. And it’s a social thing too, lotsa my friends hang out there, so I hang out while at work so I don't feel as drawn to doing so the rest of the time and can work on things or be alone or walk around or whatever. Walking around is in fact super-important to me and I feel like the crazy old lady of the neighborhood. I walk around and my mind wanders and occasionally I stop and chat with whoever I run into and it’s nice. I know so many people in my neighborhood and feel so at home and connected to many of these people and the Rainbo largely functions like a cafeteria for the dorm of the neighborhood. And I work about 15 hours a week and make what I made working 30 some hours a week at my last job. It’s been 8.5 years now, so I'm pretty burnt out on running around like a maniac to serve drunk people, but it spoils you. Makes working another job seem like a pretty raw deal. But this phase of my life is winding down. I'm going on tour all summer then starting school and maybe TAing, so who knows. Is there anything in music that you want to accomplish before your done playing it? Nope.
“Its funny, whenever she would have to leave town I always thought I'd be going wild and closing the 4 a.m. bars every night and going out on the town, but without exception, she'd leave town and I'd turn off my phone and close the curtains and be in silence for days at a time.”
Interview with Jason Miller Photos by Alexa Jones Live Photo by Staciaan Photography
From the outside, The Crush seemed like it was going places. They had just released their second album on Adeline Records and opened for Green Day in front of thousands of people at Wembley Stadium in London. What made you guys want to give up all that momentum?
“The thing about playing in a band is like deciding one day to pick up a crack habit.”
Well, I guess you wouldn't say that we all necessarily wanted to give it up. In hindsight, I think it would have been best if we all, myself mainly, would have taken a couple steps back and took a breather. We all wanted different things for the band and had our own thoughts on what direction we should steer that ship. And well, as you know, we sunk it. I will say that for me, as much as I didn’t want it to end in certain regards I am glad it did. It really made me focus and realize what I want out of life in the context of playing music. That I am thankful for. What were you doing with your time between The Crush and The Evening Rig? What I was doing between bands? Well, I got married, got a “real” job, missed the living hell out of writing music, concentrated on my drinking and almost went pro, started writing music again, hooked up with Becky and Jake, started putting together a batch of songs, acquired Josh, got divorced, went pro.
Why'd you want to start up The Evening Rig? How is playing in The Evening Rig compared to playing in The Crush? The thing about playing in a band is like deciding one day to pick up a crack habit. Once that music drug gets a hold of you it’s very hard to hang that hat up. You get sober, but eventually you’ll relapse in some way or another. You just have to decide how committed you are to that vice and how long you want to relapse. After the Crush, I had a very hard time not playing music and during that time I knew I wanted to do something. That something is the Rig. In comparison to The Crush, well, one difference that I have noticed with it is that this band has given me more opportunities to spread my wings musically. The Crush songs in one way or another always had to fit in this mold that was; for lack of a better term, “punk” or what have you. After Here is Where I Cross My Fingers I proposed that we shake it up a bit and write a country type record. Some what tongue in cheek and somewhat of a legitimate record. Have a little fun with music. It took less time for that idea to fall to the cutting room floor than it did for me to actually spit out. Yours and Becky's previous bands, (The Crush and The Cardinal Sin, Cadillac Blindside) seemed to be cut short after the bands gained popularity. Are you doing anything to ensure that The Evening Rig doesn't follow the same path as those bands? I suppose so, but I guess I don’t really look for that expiration date. Like death and taxes all bands are guaranteed to break up, but I would really like to see us go somewhere. By somewhere I mean having this band be relevant in some fashion. Possibly be a testament to all that is rock. I’d like for it to inspire most of all, and for people to have fun with it, with us. So, I would like to think this band will last long enough for us to get it out and for people to get off on it. Do you have any ambitions to have The Evening Rig be at the same status as The Crush was? Bigger! Like poppin’ Cristol and shit. I asked you this question when I interviewed The Crush in 2001 to which you answered, "God, could they please turn down the suck in the monitors!" and I'm interested in your answer now that you’re playing in The Evening Rig. If you were just a regular guy walking into wherever to see a show, and saw The Evening Rig playing, what would your first impression be? "God, could they please turn up the suck in the monitors!” The Crush will be playing a reunion show in April. Why'd you guys decide to do a reunion show? What can be expected from the show? We’ve been talking about doing something like this for a few years now. Around the holidays we all just happened to be boozing in the same place at the same time and were just tipsy enough to commit to it. I guess we’ll find out if it was worth ordering another round.
In almost everything I've read about The Evening Rig, it says your sound is the "Minneapolis Sound". In your opinion, what is the "Minneapolis Sound"? I think when people use “Minneapolis Sound” to describe a band I think that they are referring to a certain blend of rawness and honesty. Don’t get me wrong, you can find that anywhere geographically, but there is something about the Midwest that excels at it. It’s like we take the sun soaked pop sensibilities from the west and those obtuse hooks with smarts from the east, throw in that warm southern breeze of Americana and pile that all onto one another. Now, on one hand, when people refer to us as having that “sound” I feel a sense of accomplishment, but any band that starts up from here will get that tag line I’m sure in at least one review or what have you.
Never Been'er was released on Heart of a Champion record label. Was it always your intention to release The Evening Rig's music on a local label? Yeah, it was always our intention to release the record on a local label and to do so with Heart of a Champion.
have influenced us. We’ll save all that alien-space-ship-art-noise-rock for the real forward thinking musicians. But if we ever decide to get all E.T. with our rock, I’m sure our record covers will have some hyper-cool electric colors with robotic lizard babies with vaginas for faces on it.
Many people who were previously in punk bands have been starting up more country/folk projects. Why do you think that is? What is the relationship between punk and country? This might sound lame but I think age plays a big role in it. The correlation between the two genres I feel is more based on the ideas and the emotion behind the music. Cowboys are punks and punks are cowboys. From what I've read, your day job is a Senior Designer for a major retailer. How does your corporate day job compete with your night job of being a musician and vise versa? Well, so far it hasn’t really impaired either yet. Although, when we start to hit the road on a more regular basis then I’ll have to juggle a bit more. Till then it’s cool. My work has actually been very supportive. There are mornings though that are red eyed and miserable. Oh, and it’s Senior Art Director… straight cash homie! The design style for the artwork and ads for The Evening Rig have a nostalgic feel. Do you think that feeling also fits The Evening Rig's sound? I think it nods to it. The design of the record I feel pays homage to our sound. Taking a piece of history and putting our spin to it. You know, obviously it’s not like we are attempting to revolutionize the music of today with crazy sound scapes from the future, but rather creating our rendition or our chapter of rock the way we see it. Building off the sounds that
Are you still doing designs for local bands? Yeah, I’ve been doing them here and there. I just got asked to do a 2 record set of a bunch old B-Sides and rarities/live stuff for Husker Du. Pretty excited about that. Many of the members of The Evening Rig are golfers, are there any plans to route a tour so you can hit up as many golf courses as possible? Of course! No pun intended. We all golf and every time Becky kicks the shit out of us. I guess it doesn’t hurt to be the daughter of a pro golfer. I think our main concern for now is to actually get on the road and once we figure out where were going then we’ll start Googlin’ courses in the area. Last summer we played a show in Sioux Falls, SD. Half of the reason is, well, we wanted to play out of town and the other was to play a round of golf at a very nice course.
POLAR BEAR CLUB
“We don't have dumb haircuts or make-up, we don't patronize people that like our band, and we just genuinely like doing this band and hopefully it shows up in the songs.” Interview with Chris Browne Live photo by Hilary J. Corts • www.hilaryjcorts.com
You were in the studio for 18 days for Sometimes Things Just Disappear. Was the album written and recorded during that time or did you have the songs ready before you went it? We had the songs written beforehand. As always, the studio changes a lot of things and some stuff took shape that turned out a lot different from before we got there, but we spent a lot of time trying to be as prepared as possible so we couldn't get the Wrath of Naclerio. You guys did a "Taco Bell Challenge" while in the studio. How much do you think was spent on Taco Bell during that time? In your opinion, what is the best thing on the menu? Hmm...too much. It could have been worse had we actually succeeded, though. I'd say about an average of 40 or 50 dollars a person, maybe? And for me the best thing on the menu is, and always will be, the Cheesy Gordita Crunch (beans instead of beef of course). Some of the other dudes' favorites include the Mexican Pizza, 7-Layer Burrito, and Nacho Cheese Chalupa. They have their opinions, they just happen to be wrong. Is the song-writing a group effort or does one member write most of the music? It is very much a group effort at this point. For the first couple releases it was more of a "write and teach" process with Jimmy and I doing most of the writing, but that was born out of necessity and time crunch more than anything. With the new record it was a very evenly spread out and collective process, with a few of us bringing songs to the table and all of us helping to structure and spice them up. I wouldn't have it any other way and it made the songs much better in my eyes. Your The Redder The Better EP was very well received, did that put any pressure on you when writing and recording Sometimes Things Just Disappear ? I'd like to say "no," but I'd be lying. It didn't change how we wrote or prepared or anything AT ALL, but there was definitely a sense of "wow, people might actually care about this" when we were in the studio and such. None of us have ever really dealt with that in a recording before, but I think the pressure became more apparent after it was all done and we were just sort of waiting to see what people thought. Either way, I don't think it had any effect on what we did, and I don't imagine it ever will. Hopefully kids will be pumped like we are, and if they're not, oh well. We like doing this, period.
What kinds of things influenced the way Sometimes Things Just Disappear ? A dirty ass practice space, lots of beers, shitty dudes, that sort of stuff. Musically, who knows? I always play the "I hate comparisons" card, so I'm going to actually try not to make them for once. We like a ton of different music and I know everything had a little influence on us in its own little way. In the end, though, we just write and see what happens, honestly. What kind of difficulties have you encountered with everyone living in Different areas? How did the member changes in the time between The Redder The Better and Sometimes Things Just Disappear effect the song-writing on Sometimes Things Just Disappear ? Having everyone in different areas has definitely been a major hassle in terms of booking shows and finding time to do things, but nothing that we haven't been able to remedy with some enthusiasm. Luckily at least MOST of the guys are within an hour or two of each other at this point, though, and while we were writing the record we made sure to have most everyone around a lot. It's just a matter of prioritizing I think. As far as the member changes go, it definitely changed things in a very positive way. I like I said, the old records were a little more "write and teach," but everyone working on this one wanted to have a lot of say and work together cooperatively a ton. We got to know each other's tendencies really quickly and it was entirely a positive thing. How has it been working with Red Leader of the release of Sometimes Things Just Disappear? What drew you to working with Red Leader? It's been absolutely great. Matt and Claire at Red Leader are two of the most amazingly nice and generous people we've encountered while doing this band, and they've been there for us through everything thus far. Nate and Emmett's old band, Marathon, worked with Red Leader for their full length, and at this point we've all known each other for a good deal of time. We wanted to do the record with a label we were comfortable with and that we could really talk to and not be too business-like with. And we definitely got it. Between the recording process, promotion, merch, or just coming out and supporting us or whatever, they're always awesome.
It's been mentioned that you guys do this band for fun. What do you guys do while not playing in Polar Bear Club? A ton of shit that is not quite as fun. Ha. I go to law school at Boston University and am working in Arizona for the summer, Nate is in school and works at a science lab (and even wears a lab coat!), Emmett is a teacher, Jimmy acts in plays and does construction work, and Goose is the best bartender this side of...well, anywhere. Makes doing the band tough sometimes, but we fucking love it and could not live without it. Life decisions are tough. It seemed that there was a lot of talk about Polar Bear Club before you released The Redder, The Better. What do you contribute Polar Bear Club's popularity to? Honestly, I have no idea. Dumb luck, maybe. It definitely has to do with MySpace and other internet stuff for sure...which is cool I guess, because it sort of means that kids just sort of found us and told their friends and stuff. On a deeper level I LIKE to think it's because we don't bullshit people, though. We don't have dumb haircuts or make-up, we don't patronize people that like our band, and we just genuinely like doing this band and hopefully it shows up in the songs. You just played with Third Eye Blind? How did that line up end up coming together? It was a lot of fun, but sort of weird. Definitely not the kind of show we usually play in terms of intimacy and all that. But a cool experience for sure. Our good friend Justin from Fire When Ready helped get us on, they played too and his other band played the same place with Brand New not too long ago. Since everyone has different schedules, will touring mostly be confined to the East Coast, or will you venture West? We will be venturing West very soon, and hopefully doing a lot more...
Abel Baker Fox Voices Able Baker Fox is the new long-distance project from members of Small Brown Bike, Lasalle, Casket Lottery, and The Great Sea Serpents. After my first listen of this album, I thought it was terrible. Absolutely terrible. But I listened to it again and again, and it got better and better. Now after close to 10 spins, I think it’s great. (Second Nature) Astpai Corruption Concealed (Under Deceptive Slogans) Astpai is a punk band from Austria that sound like a mixture of From Ashes Rise and The Lawrence Arms. With alternating vocalists, Corruption Concealed stays more interesting than if there were only one singer. (Jump Start Records) Beehatch BeeHatch Beehatch is the new collaborative project from Phil Weston (Download, Plateau) and Mark Spybey (Dead Voices on Air). The experimental noise/ambience genre is one that I’ve never gotten into and I’ve hated on Mark’s music in the past, but this Beehatch does have a few bright spots on it. (Lens Records) The Bellrays Hard Sweet And Sticky Hard Sweet and Sticky, the latest release from CA’s The Bellrays is packed to the gills with soulful singing from Lisa Kekaula and rocking guitars provided by Bob Vennum. The Bellrays have plenty of talent but whenever I listen to them, I imagine them headlining nightly barroom shows and I can’t figure out why. (Anodyne Records) Bird Names Open Relationship It is impossible to tell you what Bird Names sounds like, but I will try. Imagine pop, country, folk, and psych rock fused together into each song cohesively, not chaotically, and you have what Bird
Names is. I can only wonder what kind of influences this band has to be so musically diverse. Somehow they are all over the place and tight at the same time. (Unsound Records) Birthmark The Layer Birthmark is Nate Kinsella’s (Make Believe, Joan of Arc, December’s Architects) solo project and The Layer is his first release. You’d be surprised what a great voice Nate has and why he is hiding all this talent behind the drum kit when he could easily be a successful solo artist. The track “Flightless Bird” may be one of the best songs released this year. (Coraille) Brass Set & Drift Set & Drift is the 8-song debut from Brass, which sounds like a post punk version of Minus the Bear. Vocalist Joe Webber has a strong and distinct voice while the rest of the band combine post punk, math rock, and the DC area sound into a tightly woven album that I would recommend checking out. (Self-Released) Brass
Broadway Calls S/T Pop punk is still alive and well and good too thanks to Oregon’s Broadway Calls. Their self-titled release is 14 songs that will have you singing along the whole way through. There isn’t one song on this album that disappoints. (Adeline Records) Broadway Calls
Casy and Brian Catbees This duo from San Francisco has more energy than a case of Red Bull. ExDalmations members Casy and Brian only play a Casio keyboard and a stripped down drum set, so their vocals play a large part in how the songs sound. Calland-response vocals are instructive for the audience to join them. Catbees is a quick listen, just under 20 minutes, but you’ll be exhausted by the infectious dance beats and distorted bass heavy synth. (Pish Posh) Chris Walla Field Manual Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla found some time in between recording other bands albums and his main gig in DCFC to release his solo album. Comparisons to Death Cab are found throughout the album and one might say that he wrote a Death Cab album, but there is enough of a difference to call it his own. (Barsuk Records) Coconut Coolouts Party Time Machine Coconut Coolouts is a 6-piece dual drum/guitar garage punk party band with one member that is half-man/half-banana, or a man in a banana costume. Nevertheless, Party Time Machine is a 30minute joyride that will have you singing,
clapping, and dancing along the whole time, and when it’s over you’ll be begging for more. (Haunted Horse) Collections of Colonies of Bees Birds Birds has the feeling of flight, soaring through soundscapes meticulously designed to please the ear. Somewhat of a departure from their previous Customer, Birds follows a more conventional guitar, bass and drums and relies less on electronic elements. CoCoBees have a way to make the listener find something new each time they listen, without getting bored. (Table of Elements) Drag the River You Can't Live This Way You Can’t Live This Way is the latest release from indie county purveyors Drag the River. Sure You Can’t Live This Way is an excellent album, I just never could never get into the whole Americana indie rock scene. (Suburban Home) Empire! Empire! (I Was Lonely Estate) Year of the Rabbit 7” Empire! Empire! sounds like a mixture of the Appleseed Cast, American Football and Explosions in the Sky with vocals like Geoff Rickley from Thursday (during the slow parts). This 7” shows a lot of promise for a future full-length. (Count Your Lucky Stars Records) Extra Life Secular Works Extra Life is the new band led by ex-Dirty Projectors guitarist Charlie Looker. The closest thing that I can relate this band to is Tool. The music is quite adventurous, ups and downs in song rhythm and interesting chant like vocals make this album from being forgettable. (Planaria Recordings)
Finest Dearest Finest Dearest At first listen this band’s music reminded me of The Cranberries, with female vocals reminiscent of Minneapolis’s Vox Vermillion or Sleater-Kinney. Their debut album is quite good and is a good indicator of where this band is headed. (Bloodtown Records) Foot Foot Trumpet Los Angeles’s married folk duo Foot Foot are back with the fury of a full band to back up their interesting sound. Trumpet is good, but at almost a hour long, it struggles to keep my attention all the way through. (Oedipus) Ghost Buffalo The Magician Many punk bands have been gravitating towards the country side of music as of late, but Ghost Buffalo is doing the opposite. They’ve lessened their importance on country and opted for a more 90’s alternative feel on The Magician. Crunching guitar riffs line just about every song and Marie Litton's vocals shine through with complete compatibility (Suburban Home) Ghost of the Russian Empire The Mammoth Ghost of the Russian Empire is the Austin, TX band with a big name and an even bigger sound. The Mammoth sounds similar to Radiohead, but more straight on rock. Each song is a layered sonic landscape and well played. (Self-Released) Glorytellers S/T Glorytellers is the musical outlet for exKarate frontman Geoff Farina. The sound is familiar to what Mike Kinsella does with Owen; stripped down acoustic guitar, personal lyrics and intimate song writing. (Southern Records)
Head Like A Kite There Is Loud Laughter Everywhere Head Like A Kite’s latest album sound more like an electronic Beck album then a Head Like a Kite album. Their previous album was chock full of guest vocalists and was a pretty good album. There are some good songs on There Is Loud Laughter Everywhere, but skips over the line into electronic few too many times and looses its focus. (Mush Records) Her Space Holiday XOXO Panda: The New Kid Revival Although I’ve heard a lot about Her Space Holiday, I’ve never heard their music until this album. This album is pretty good all the way through, but after a few listens, you start to notice the similarities in all the songs. Each song’s beat is emphasized with the tambourine or handclaps, which makes it feel as though they had the same beat in their mind throughout recording, and just changed the music around that one beat. As long as you don’t pay any attention to it, this album is great. (Mush Records) Incommunicado Losing Daylight Incommunicado, despite having a Spanish sounding name, are from Pittsburgh, PA. They play punk with the intensity of early At The Drive-In with a slight Bouncing Souls feel. (A-F Records)
The Interiors The Interiors This album is solid all the way through. Each song has it’s own personality, but the album has a cohesive feel. There is plenty of inventive song-writing and hooks throughout. (54-40 or Fight!) Joan of Arc Boo Human Rumors have circulated that this album was influenced by the divorce of lead JOA’r Tim Kinsella and his wife. From listening to this album, you can tell the lyrics are directed at someone and Tim isn’t pleased with them. The music on Boo Human is probably the most straight forward and accessible music in the Joan of Arc catalog. Tim still continues to get better and better with each release. (Polyvinyl Records) Jr. Juggernaut Ghost Poison Jr. Juggernaut is the sound of American guitar rock in the same vain as Springsteen and Mellencamp. This Los Angeles band combines three part harmonies with guitars and the occasional harmonica to produce something wholly down to earth. (Suburban Home) Justice of the Unicorns Angels with Uzis Angels with Uzis starts the album off with sounds of a cheerful crowd getting interrupted by gunfire and ends with people screaming. Justice of the Unicorn sounds like Neil Young, Say Hi, and the Comas with the juvenile lyrics of The Aquabats. For an example, listen to the song “Jesus Had a Sweet Girlfriend” The music is pretty good, inventive and fun; things that I think that they were going for. (Little Lamb Recordings)
Kay Kay and his Weathered Underground Kay Kay and his Weathered Underground Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground features members of Gatsby’s American Dream, the Lashes, Forgive Durden, the Northwest Philharmonic plus more and at times sounds like if Ben Folds was pioneering a psychedelic vaudeville act. There is so much going on at once on this vinyl only release that it makes for a real interesting and quite enjoyable listen. (Suburban Home) Little Pieces Little Pieces Little Pieces is an indie rock band from Seattle, WA and features ex-Sunset Valley guitarist Herman Jolly. The songs on the album are mostly upbeat that sound like a full band Portastatic. (One Eleven Records) Look Mexico The Crucial Collection The Crucial Collection is a collection of the bands' first two releases, So Byzantine EP and The Crucial EP, with exclusive b-side remixes from The Dark Romantics doing "Done and Done." and History Invades doing "You Ever Get Punched In The Face For Talking Too Much?", plus a Chris Rucker remix of "You Come Into My House, While I Sleep?". This is a must for any Look Mexico fan or any fan of music in general. Not buying this means you hate music. And babies. (Lujo Records) The Loved Ones Build And Burn Build and Burn, the latest from The Loved Ones starts out fast and furious with “Pretty Good Year” and continues on this path throughout the album. As much as I’d like to say that the sound from this album and their previous full length and
EP has changed very little, The Loved Ones combined their signature East Coast Punk sound and an americana feel, with help from Franz Nicolay and Tad Kubler from The Hold Steady, to show some growth and maturity on Build and Burn. (Fat Wreck Chords) Lumerians Lumerians Lumerians debut EP is like a soundtrack to Earth’s formation. Thundering basslines, weaving organs and waves of percussion combined with male and female vocals. The sounds are dark at times, and bright at others. They mix equal parts Doors’ psychedelia and Can’s prog without the use of guitars all the while keeping it modern. (Subterranean Elephants) Make Believe Going to the Bone Church Going to the Bone Church is everything you’d expect from Make Believe. Tim’s inventive yelping/breathy singing, Sam’s quirky guitar playing, Bobby’s tight basslines, and Nate’s kinetic drumming. The future of Make Believe is still up in the air as members leave and rejoin, thus leaving listeners wondering if this is the bands last album. In any case, Going to the Bone Church is the best album they could’ve ended their band on. (Flameshovel)
into it, he hates on it. Let’s Be Friends has a couple of good songs on it and a couple that will most likely get skipped over. (Mental Monkey Records) The Mumlers Thickets and Stitches The Mumlers are a group of multi-instrumentalists from the Bay Area. This album is full of sleepy indie folk rock with a slight jazz influence that has slide guitars, pianos, brass instruments and the occasional accordion. An all around good album. (Galaxia) Nada Surf Lucky Nada Surf has to have the greatest comeback story in indie rock. With their 90s hit “Popular”, they rode the wave of alternative and then quietly disappeared, all the while still releasing albums. Their comeback started with 2002’s Let Go and continued on through 2005’s The Weight is a Gift into Lucky. The only problem I come to realize is that their sound has stayed too similar throughout their last 3 albums. Nada Surf is consistently releasing these great albums, but the sound is getting tiresome. It’s time to switch it up guys, surprise us for once. (Barsuk)
Meho Plaza S/T Woah man, Meho Plaza is crazy. They are a pop band that is experimentally synth driven that sound quite good. I enjoy how the vocals are calmly sung while all the chaos is going on in the background. (Better Looking Records) Mixel Pixel Let’s Be Friends Mixel Pixel is a band the hipsters will flock to. Interweaving boy/girl vocals, somewhat lo-fi electronic, lyrics about relationships and enough quirkiness to call it cool. It’s one of those bands that the one hipster will love and then once everyone else gets
Neva Dinova You May Already Be Dreaming Neva Dinova features Jake Bellows, a touring member and contributor to Bright Eyes, and Roger Lewis, drummer for The Good Life, so it’s appropriate that You May Already Be Dreaming was released on Saddle Creek. The album starts off with a couple of slow country-esque songs, similar to Songs: Ohia, which lead into some poppy folk songs and even some fast rocking ones. You May Already Be Dreaming is a pretty good album overall. (Saddle Creek)
One Win Choice Never Suspend Disbelief One Win Choice is familiar east coast melodic hardcore. They have a similar delivery/sound to Strike Anywhere and Voice in the Wire. One Win Choice isn’t treading any new ground with these songs, but they are keeping the flame burning on the genre. (Jump Start Records) The Out_Circuit Pierce the Empire With a Sound Pierce the Empire With a Sound seems like a foray into the epic unknown. Dark, drawn-out soundscapes, fuzzed out distorted guitars, and quick tight drumming is what this album equates to. Pierce the Empire With a Sound is at times inspiring, while some moments leave me wanting something else entirely. (Lujo Records) Paint it Black New Lexicon I was looking forward to this album, because Paint it Black’s two previous albums have been quite good. Overall New
Lexicon is good, but the industrial noise contributed by Oktopus (Dalek) could have been cut out. I understand that Dan Yemin was going for something different by having Oktopus's interludes in between songs, but it ruined the intensity and urgency that Paint it Black is known for. (Jade Tree Records) The Photographic Pictures of a Changing World When listening to Pictures of a Changing World, it’s hard to believe that this instrumental band only consists of 2 members. There is so much going on at the same time. Take for instance, the track “We Were Fed Poisoned Bread”. It starts out like an Explosions in the Sky song with just a simple guitar part, then the drums and cymbals come in, and those two intertwine for a few minutes. Then, at the 2:30 mark, everything stops for a second and the guitar bursts in with some noodling. The part that follows sounds like there is 3 guitarists and a bass player, plus drums going on all at the same time. It’s insane and the best part of the whole record. The Photographic’s sound has an instant visual sound, like it could be a soundtrack to a movie. Their live shows include projected visuals and the CD includes the video for the track “Directions”. (Galaxia) The Plastic Constellations We Appreciate You We Appreciate You is the final album that the boys in MN’s The Plastic Constellations will release. They’ve been doing this band since their high school days and have developed a signature sound that will be missed. We Appreciate You features TPC at their finest. They have crafted a number of memorable songs with this release and it’s their best to date. (French Kiss Records) The Playing Favorites I Remember When I Was Pretty The Playing Favorites is a punk rock supergroup of sorts. Joey Cape (Me First & the Gimme Gimmes, Bad Astronaut), Luke Tierney (The Penfifteen Club), Tim
Cullen (solo artist, ex-Summercamp), Marko DeSantis (Sugarcult, Bad Astronaut) and Mick Flowers (Popsicko, The Rentals,The Lapdancers), make up The Playing Favorites. I Remember When I Was Pretty was recorded over a course of 5 days at 3 songs per day, where songs were written, learned, recorded and then the mic was passed to the next guy who had a song. You can definitely tell when you listen to this album. Each song has that spur of the moment feel and all of them are diverse in style, but all together good. (Suburban Home) Polar Bear Club Sometimes Things Just Disappear After listening to PBC’s EP The Redder, The Better many times, I was quite hesitant that Sometimes Things Just Disappear could match it. To be honest, it took quite a few listens to get into this album and now I can’t stop listening to it. Sometimes Things Just Disappear builds upon the foundation that Polar Bear Club laid with The Redder, The Better and it shows the growth the band has made. Sometimes Things Just Disappear could easily be critics top album released this year. (Red Leader Records) Pomegranates Everything Is Alive My first impression of this band was a bad one. I had listened to songs on the computer and nothing grabbed me as good and I quickly deleted the files. Later on, I popped this album in when I was cleaning or something and the pure genius started to take hold of me. So much so that I listened to this album all the way through on the way to work and back for a good two weeks straight, which roughly equates to 20 spins. Everything is Alive is relaxing indie pop. Every song has one part that just melts you into loving it. (Lujo Records) Putois The Problem Is Not A Problem Anymore Putois has been the project that Bob Mason has recorded under for the last ten
years. The Problem Is Not A Problem Anymore is fifty minutes of lo-fi bedroom indie with dark heart felt lyrics. The Problem Is Not A Problem Anymore is a good album, but only something I’d put on if I was feeling somber. (Cerebral Cliff Records) The Quiet Life Act Natural The Quiet Life blend classic country/folk, complete with slide guitars, with indie rock to create a modern American Folk sound. Did I mention that this band is from the Yankee North; Connecticut to be exact. Sounds like these are usually reserved for the southern gents, but these yanks to a fine job of it. (Safety Meeting Records) Russian Circles Station Russian Circles took hold of the instrumental metal genre with their 2006 release of Enter and are now back with a new label and a new member. Brian Cook of Botch and These Arms are Snakes lends his bass abilities and his influences are felt on this release. Just listen to “Harper Lewis” for a good example of Brian’s thick bass licks. Station begs to be listened to on a stereo system with large speakers. An ipod will not due this album justice. (Suicide Squeeze Records) Pomegranates
Scott Reynolds & The Steaming Beast Adventure Boy This band is lead by Scott Reynolds, former vocalist of ALL, and is the kind of music an aging rocker is expected to make that has a Dave Matthews quality to it. Adventure Boy walks the line between classic indie pop rock with influences from Pinback and Crystal Skulls and lounge music. It’s an overall pleasant listen, but nothing mind-blowing. (Suburban Home Records) Scream Hello Smart & Stupid EP This EP from Scream Hello is a precursor to their new full length that is due out in a few months. They have a Braid/Hey Mercedes sound going on, but in with more punk roots. If their upcoming full length sounds anything like this, we are all in for a treat. (Red Leader Records) Stepsonday Little Light Stepsonday is a duo of brothers from Santa Monica, CA with a vocalist that sounds a little like Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo. They craft perfect little pop songs, similar to Weezer, that are honest and heartfelt. Some might say that Stepsonday play it safe with this release and don’t take enough chances with the music, which is true, there is a certain amount of familiarity with this album and the genre it comes from. (One Eleven Records)
Take No Damage Mushroom Clouds and Silver Linings Take No Damage mix indie rock, synth pop and electronica with a few samples and yet don’t sound completely horrible doing it. Mushroom Clouds and Silver Linings is an excellent eclectic/eccentric debut. Listen to the song “God and Country” and you’ll understand the brilliance of this album. (All Hail Records) Them,Roaring Twenties Future Sandwich Them, Roaring Twenties sound is very similar to citymates Maps and Atlases, but the differences are in the vocals of each band. The sparse vocals of Them, Roaring Twenties are usually changed with computer effects or quick talking/screams, while Maps and Atlases vocals are high pitched and discernable. This album is packaged with a mini board game that allows you to travel the streets of Chicago. (Sickroom Records) V/A Keep Singing! A Benefit for Compassion Over Killing Compilation This is a benefit CD for Compassion Over Killing, an animal rights group. The album features exclusive tracks by Strike Anywhere, Life at these Speeds, Des Ark, Gina Young, and more. Most of the artists are either from the singer/songwriter or heavy punk/post punk genres. As a bonus to this CD, the Liner notes feature selected vegetarian recipes from the artists on the CD, plus a PDF version that you can share. (Exotic Fever) When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth Not Noiice This duel drummed, duel guitared, duel vocaled beast known as When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth have a sound that is big as a dinosaur. If you cloned Milemarker a couple of times and made them record an album with their original human selves, the result would be Not Noiice. (Chalk Circle Records)
The Anti-Matter Anthology: A 1990s Post-Punk & Hardcore Reader Norman Brannon Anti-Matter was only around for a couple years and released 4 issues but it’s influence is still felt in today’s independent music journalism. Many of Norman’s interviews are done with people he knows well and they seem less like interviews and more like two friends having a conversation. Even though I have never heard of some of the bands in this book, the interviews are still very interesting to read due to Brannon’s ability to get the interviewee to open up and really speak what’s on their mind. Highly recommended. (Revelation Records)
Hiding Out Jonathan Messinger Illustrated by Rob Funderburk Hiding Out is a collection of short stories by one of Chicago’s up and coming writers Jonathan Messinger. The stories range from funny “Wrought Iron” to sad “True Hero”. Some of the stories left me wanting more, like I was just reading a small part of that protagonist's event filled life. Many of the stories feature unlikely heroes, but Messinger puts life into each one of them. Another great feature of this book is; there are stories hidden throughout, like on the copyright and about the author pages. Hiding Out is a great short story collection. (Featherproof Books)
This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record Susannah Felts I read this book after reading Joe Meno’s Hairstyles of the Damned and these two books work as the perfect companion pieces. Both stories are about friendship and teens finding their identity, but each book tells the story from the perspective of each sex. This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record tells the story of 16-year-old Vaughn Vance, a budding photographer, and her new younger troubled friend Sophie. It follows their friendship as it grows and dissolves and the trials and tribulations of being a teenager. This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record is a great debut novel and I look forward to what Susannah will do next. (Featherproof Books)
PHOTO CREDITS: Cover: Pg 4: Pg 16,18: Pg 17: Pg 19,25: Pg 20-24: Pg 26-27: Pg 32,35: Pg 34: Pg 36-37: Pg 38: Pg 40: Pg 41: Pg 42: Pg 43: Pg 44: Pg 45: Pg 46: Pg 47:
Chris Strong // www.chrisstrong.com Kathrine Berger // www.ellagraph.com Ben Tankerlsey Wade Gosselin Kathrine Berger // www.ellagraph.com John Kannenberg // www.johnkannenberg.com Chris Strong // www.chrisstrong.com Alexa Jones // flickr.com/photos/loud_alexa/ Stacy Schwartz // Staciaann Photography flickr.com/photos/mnconcertphotos/ Promo Photo // Unknown Hilary J. Corts // www.hilaryjcorts.com Laura Palmer Promo Photo // Unknown Promo Photo // Unknown Lorien Jordan Carles Rodriguez Promo Photo // Unknown Desiree Watkins Promo Photo // Unknown
SUPPORT: Bands: Tim Kinsella // www.joanfrc.com The Evening Rig // myspace.com/theeveningrig Polar Bear Club // myspace.com/polarbearclub Collections of Colonies of Bees // www.collectionsofcoloniesofbees.net Haram // myspace.com/harammusic People: Mitch Clem // www.mitchclem.com Music Recording: Bruce Templeton // www.myspace.com/brucetempleton Matt Bayles // www.mattbayles.com Neil Weir // www.theoldblackberryway.com Larry Crane // www.tapeop.com // Jesse Cannon // www.jessecannon.com Jonathan kreinik // boombox.alkem.org Graeme Gibson // /www.graemegibson.net
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