- Are from Chicago, IL - Band member Jesse Woghin, co-runs Flameshovel Records. - Released “Such Triumph” on June 28, 2005, on Flameshovel. - Play intense, angular punk/rock with urgency and youthfulness. - Some songs on “Such Triumph” are influenced by Cap’n Jazz, Unwound, and Pavement. - www.thenarrator.net, or www.flameshovel.com for more information
Music The feeling of starting and finishing something new. Wifey, Monkey, and Noodle.
Cover: The Narrator-Megan Holmes (www.thisishamid.com/meganholmes) (Pg 8-9) Adam Lowe (Pg 10-11) Aaron WoJack (Pg 12) Unknown (Pg 16-17) M. Vorrasi (Pg 19) TAAS-Robin Laananan, Del Ceilo-Unknown, PiB-Shane McCualey Strike Anywhere-Unknown, Dr. Dog-Unknown, Des Ark-Unknown (Pg 25-30) The Aquabats-Unknown, Deathray Davies-Unknown, Lake Trout-Unknown, Minus The Bear-Unknown, Portastatic-Unknown, Schoolyard Heroes-Unknown, Spoon-Unknown
Ideas, submissions, comments - firstname.lastname@example.org ©2005 - Subtitles Publishing - Minneapolis
Six Bands/Six Questions: Strike Anywhere Des Ark Paint It Black Del Cielo Dr. Dog These Arms Are Snakes Interviews: Chariots (America, North) The Nein Say Hi To Your Mom Live at Last: The Crush Braid Reviews: Music
The Crush seemed to be heading places. They released a solid sophomore album which was their debut on Adeline records. They played sold out shows in England opening for Green Day and were getting reviews in major magazines. It was a shock to me when I heard they were playing their last show. I thought they had been doing pretty good up to that point. Their last 2 shows were on the same night on August 30, 2003 at the 7th Street Entry.
Braid is one of those bands that most people know about, due to their contributions to the indie/punk/emo scene in the mid nineties. Although not very popular among the mainstream audience, they played many shows throughout the US and Europe. 5 years after they broke up, they reunited to play a string of shows to promote their Killing a Camera Retrospective DVD. The photos above are from their last show in Minneapolis on July 6, 2004.
Interview with Travis Bos April 2005 How long after the end of Song of Zarathustra did Chariots start? We started around March of 2003. Just a few months after S.o.Z. played our last show. Around late 2003/early 2004, the line up was solidified as a 5 piece. Then we lost a 2nd guitarist and remained a 4 piece till this day. Are all the members from the Minneapolis area? Arthur is from Illinois. Eric is from North Dakota, I'm from Iowa, and Mattâ€™s from Illinois as well. Early in Chariots forming, the band had multiple guitars or multiple bass players, how did you finally end up with the four current members? Just made sense at the time. The four of us wrote well together,etc.. The other guitarist is amazing, but just didn't match up for what we were going for I guess. More or less. The band name is Chariots, why add the (America, North)? There's a Christian hXc band called The Chariot and a screamo band called Chariots from the UK. We'll still be known as Chariots. People will just have to get used to it I guess. But just to not make an issue, we decided to add to the name. How does Chariots compare to previous bands you've done, Song of Zarathustra and Book of Dead Names? Natural growth,pretty much. Especially if you know me personally...It makes sense. The 2 previous bands you've been in have broken up, what steps are you taking to prevent this from happening with Chariots? You can't prevent it. It'll happen eventually. I guess what weâ€™re trying to do is proceed in steps that will at least help in it's longevity.
How long did it take to write and record "Congratulations"? About a year. We scrapped around a full lengths worth of material though. We didn't want to have a record full of "filler". Yet, I know we won't play most of these songs for years. I hope we'll be able to write more often as we mature as a band, etc.. Was Troubleman the first label you approached to release the Chariots full length? What is it like working with Troubleman? I spoke with a few labels. When I approached Mike at TMU,TMU was busy. So, it was actually for the best. We weren't writing as good of songs as we are now...in our opinion. I like TMU, I like the bands on it and I like Mike. He's always been more than supportive.
What are the plans for Chariots touring? Do you plan on touring Europe like you did with Song of Zarathustra Yes we are. As a matter of fact, we spoke about it today with a guy from Germany who has an interest in it. Tell us about the video you doing for the track "Hips Unite"? It'll be finished when we get back from tour. We all enjoy video and audio together. So,we decided to make it with some friends of ours in town. Pretty excited to approach that kind of art along with writing music.
Seems like now a days a lot of bands have been making MySpace pages, how has the Chariots MySpace page helped with promoting the band?
It's been good. It's it's own thing. People find the most random stuff, bands, people on that site ya know? So,I guess why not.
What would you like to accomplish with Chariots? I just wanna be happy with what we write. Be proud of it. That's all I really care about at the moment.
Interview with (RB) Robert Biggers and (FC) Finn Cohen How does “Wrath of Circuits” compare with your previous releases? RB: “Wrath” is our first concentrated studio recording. The previous EP's were really demos or documents of what we did live (at shows) with no extra decoration or specialized arrangements. It's also our first release to feature our 4th member, Dale Flatum, on tapes and samples. Besides, though possibly because of, the studio resources and resultant sonics, we spread out or grew the songs more than those on the previous EP's. A couple of the songs have relatively long instrumental sections, and even the shortest song goes through a series of different sounds. Most of which we can't do live, but this will hopefully make up for the experience of our "live rock band" performance -- which I don't think we could do in recording. How did you get together with Sonic Unyon, and how do you feel being one of the first American bands on the Canadian Label? FC: I sent the EP that came out last fall to a bunch of labels, and Sonic Unyon was the first one who said "Let us put this out" right off the bat. I'm proud to be part of their global expansion takeover plan. They need us and we need them, so it works out well. RB: We didn't know them or most of the labels we sent demos to; they liked it enough to offer to release CDs of ours. SU is extremely supportive and generous; we're happy and grateful. There's a pretty good argument of ours that goes: We'd rather be the one of 2 American bands on a Canadian label than one of 20 bands on an American label. It also gives us reason to travel to Canada, which is pretty nice to do.
After the release of your self titled EP, you brought Dale Flattum in to the band. Why did you bring him in, and what does Dale bring to the group, that it was previously missing? FC: Casey knew Dale since they are both artists, and he told me that Dale really appreciated the songs that we had early on, especially the ones where I played the sampler as the main instrument. Dale's also a fan of the Dr. Sample (the brand of sampler we use), so we had him join in on a Wire cover ("Our Swimmer") about a year and a half ago. It worked out well and his personality seemed to mesh with ours really well; then I listened to some of the Steel Pole Bath Tub and Milk Cult (which was the SPBT alter ego project, where songs were constructed out of samples and loops) and really dug that stuff. I started writing some songs with him in mind, keeping room in the demos for Dale to add whatever he wanted to. It was really exciting to give him a song and say "Do whatever you want" and have him come back with something that the three of us would never have come up with. We started integrating him more and more into the songwriting process and playing shows, and eventually we locked into a way to approach the songs with him as an equal instrument. RB: Dale's parts have typically come after the bulk of the song is written, but we're hoping to progressively work him in earlier in the process from now on. I think Dale's sound brings a really unique and distinguishing quality to the overall group sound. Most of the songs are guitar/bass/drums/vocals (some trade guitar for sampler) and his instrumentation of old cassette tape loops and samples serve to put all that (guit/bass/drums) into a context that wasn't there before. Of course, sometimes his sounds are less global to the song (a repetitive noise figure in the background) but I think they still change the entire setting of our music. FC: One thing that has been kind of frustrating about playing live shows with him is that a lot of soundmen see his setup and automatically think he's secondary or don't bother to pay attention to what he's doing, so we've had to be really up front about how he should be in the mix every show we play since we can't afford our own soundman to go on tour right now. I don't think the songs we have on the EP are "missing" anything, but when Dale plays on them live they are definitely better. Will Dale be adding his sound manipulations to Nein songs, that were recorded previous to his joining the band, during live shows? FC: There were no "sound manipulations" that were recorded previous to his joining the band that he plays live; when we play songs off the EP, he's got parts that he's written since he's joined the band that fit in pretty well with the rest of the stuff. Almost all the crazy sounds on the new record are him, and he wrote those parts. He does play live with us and some of the parts from the new record get reconstructed, but he has some things that he's worked out over the course of the past couple tours we've done that are different from the album. What do you want listeners to get out of “Wrath of Circuits”? RB: I don't think I have particularly personal goals here. I want the sounds to engage people, to catch their ear; I'd like for the songs to leave lasting impressions, seeking more listens, etc etc. I want to find out what people “get out” of the album, and don't really know what it'll be.
What elements helped inspire or influence the new album? FC: Our friend Randy Ward, who was, in my opinion, the most innovative circuit-bending wizard in our area (he constructed a one-man band with a drum kit that played itself and all sorts of noisemakers that he had created out of Speak and Spells and Sesame Street toys), died about a year ago. We weren't extremely close to him, but we knew him well enough to be really affected by how unfair it was for someone that creative to get cancer in his early 30s. So, at least from my end, lyrically there are several songs that came from the months after his death, just about what I saw as a huge dent in the music community around here. And his innovations and manipulation of technology that resulted in some amazing music were inspiring to think about how we relate to machines, hence "Wrath of Circuits". Musically, Dale had a huge influence in that he added elements to the songs that we never expected to be there. And we were just willing to experiment with the arrangements more and more and not be satisfied with one way of playing a song; sometimes we would just let things happen and let the songs work themselves out, and sometimes we would go back and forth with each other about what parts should stay or go or be changed. Normal "band recording an album" stuff. The title of the album “Wrath of Circuits” comes from an activity known as circuit bending. Can you explain more about the title of the album and the process of circuit bending? FC: In a nutshell: you take anything that has a circuit board and makes noise and open it up, linking different circuits together until it creates a new sound. Then solder those circuits and link them to a switch that allows you to turn that effect on whenever you want. There's a lot more to it, and I'm not that experienced with doing it, but it's pretty fascinating. There are some cool websites you can check out: www.mysterycircuits.com is one run by our friend Mike Walters, who modified a keyboard I have; it resulted in the demo for “Wrath of Circuits” that I did on a 4-track. He does tons of stuff and builds some amazing machines. There's a guy in Chicago named Peter B who makes things called Shinths that allow a person to be a conductor of the signal coming out--it's crazy. RB: “Wrath of Circuits” simplified is: technology evolving and run amok, I guess. Circuit bending is a willful (fun) act that results in happy accidents. Happy accidents and technology running amok and over us. There's the connection, I think. What is the music scene like in Durham, NC? What other bands from the area are notable? RB: We live in "The Triangle" of North Carolina - consisting of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill (and not to mention Carrboro, which is actually geographically within Chapel Hill). Between the 4 of us, we actually reside over the entire triangle. Finn has lived in Durham for most of his life - the rest of us are transplants. And it's nice to get a city's name out there (I don't think it gets out there much in the music world). Anyway, I hesitate to say anything about Durham in particular, music scene-wise, because all the bands play in all the triangle venues. So overall, we have a great scene -- several notable bands (Strange, Rosebuds, Des Ark, Jett Rink, Cold Sides [tooting my other horn], Cherry Valence, Mowing Lawns, Erie Choir, Pykrete), labels (FrequeNC, Pigeon English, Pox), venues (Nightlight, Kings, Duke Coffeehouse, Local 506, Cat’s Cradle), and college radio stations (WXYC, WXDU, WKNC). The scene was once more famous (early 90's grunge/indie phenomenon), but considering the size of the town(s) I think it's great now.
FC: Durham's got tons of bands but it's been really hard to sustain a venue that has consistent shows. Duke University is right in the middle of the part of town that many of these clubs have been, and they have a club on campus called the Duke Coffeehouse, but the majority of the students don't really care that much about local music, which makes it hard to keep something open that can have shows. As far as bands FROM Durham goes, it's hard to find 100% Durham bands because so many people live all over the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill). There's Des_Ark, who just put out a record, Cantwell Gomez & Jordan, who we are doing a split 7" with later this year, Hotel Motel.
The Nein played SXSW this year, how was that? What bands did you check out while there? FC: The show was great. The logistics were kind of a pain in the ass, but that's inevitable with something like SXSW. I saw The Rosebuds, Crooked Fingers, Bloc Party, The Natural History, Jet By Day, and some stupid retro-hip bands from NY whose names I've blocked from memory. Does Casey design all the art for The Nein's posters/products? How does it help having a designer like Casey in the band? RB: No, Dale does just as much as Casey - Dale did the art for â€œWrath of Circuitsâ€? and our new shirts too. Both are great designers and highly skilled within jargon I don't get at all. Yes, it helps having graphic designers in a rock band, definitely. Obviously there's a lot more to the band than these songs we record, so that leaves a lot of room for different expertise. Yay for Casey and Dale!!!! FC: They're both fantastic artists, so we always have cool designs, and with all their poster artist friends we usually have amazing screenprinted posters when we go on tour.
Interview with Eric Elbogen You write all the music by yourself, alone, but you play with a full band when touring, do the people who play with you ever have a hard time learning the guitar, drum, or keyboard parts they need to play? Do you ever have problems where your music isn’t played how it should sound? Well, I’ve auditioned many people who can’t get the songs right. It’s a long, complicated process every time I need to go through auditions. There’s a bare minimum musical fluency level though, for someone to make the cut. After I unleash my too-purist inner control freak on them in rehearsal (once they have made that cut), they usually get it right. Sometimes it takes a few shows to work out all of the kinks, but, like James Brown does, I charge them for every bad note. How do you think I’ve been able to afford to put out the records myself? I end up playing to the musicians strengths too, choosing songs for the set that work right with what each player is capable of. As far as how a song should sound?: The nature of a live performance means some of songs must change dramatically, from an arrangement standpoint. In the studio, I can play twenty guitar tracks on a given song, to help shape dynamics. When you only have two or three melodic instruments on stage, you don’t have that luxury. What eventually happens is that we use the records as demos and attempt to make the songs more exciting when we play them live. That’s kind of backward, I know, but that’s just how things have ended up working. If we spent this time on the songs before we recorded them, the records would sound entirely different. That said, there are some songs we play now that, in my opinion, are far superior in their live incarnations, but vice versa too. I’ve never really been comfortable performing “Lets Talk About Spaceships” or “Hooplas Involving Circus Tricks,” from Numbers & Mumbles, but they are two of my favorite Say Hi songs in their recorded forms. We’re still in the process of fine tuning the stuff from Ferocious Mopes for the live show. Ok, now I feel like I’m rambling. How do you write songs? Do start with a guitar part, then add drums or do you write music based on the lyrics? I never write lyrics first. They always come well into the process, sometimes just before I record the vocal. I’ll spend months on songs just singing a melody, without any coherent words. Some songs start with guitar parts, some with bass or piano. Many songs, especially these days, start with a scratch drum part I’ll program in Reason and I’ll write the rest of the song around that. After reading your lyrics, they seem like answers to questions people ask you. Like if I asked you what kind of ghost you would be, you could respond with the song “I Think I’ll be a Good Ghost,” and it would make perfect sense. What inspires you to write the lyrics you do? It took me a long time to figure out what I was comfortable writing songs about, and in what manner I wanted to convey things thematically. I started writing songs in ( wait, how old am I? ) 1989 and am absolutely ashamed and embarrassed about the records I made until I started Say Hi. Deciding not to take things too seriously was a big step. Once I did that, lyrics started flowing like spiked punch on prom night. Even though it creeps in every now and then, I try to avoid pure, emotional gush. I’d rather write about the mundane or science fiction. Whether or not people get something human out of a song about robots is up to them. I will say that everything I write about is fiction, something far more exciting than real life experiences. Too many songwriters think people are interested in hearing about their own loves and troubles. Maybe some people are. I’m certainly not.
You started Euphobia records to release your own records and you’ve done quite well since then, do you think other people should do the same to get their music heard? Well thanks. Success is all relative. I’m quite happy with the way things have panned out. The Say Hi phenomenon keeps getting bigger and bigger, which I’m glad to see. I think, though, that if I were on certain record labels I would have sold five times as many records and have been given more opportunities to tour with bigger bands. The flip side, of course, is that I can make and release the records I want, when I want and that I don’t have to split record sale profits with a label, which makes it easier to pay the bills. I always try to talk other bands into releasing their own records, but most musicians are intent on waiting for the magic record deal that will change their lives forever. I see it all the time in New York, where a band will play the same venues over and over again and actually get a following, but never a deal. Or they’ll get a deal from the wrong label and fall through the cracks and not get the attention and marketing they deserve. I suppose I just don’t like to wait. Every time I finish a record, I solicit labels for about two weeks before I make the decision to put it out myself. It takes some credit card debt to put out a record, but, its really not that hard to do.
If you stayed in California and started Say Hi To Your Mom there, do you think that the sound would be the same as it is now? Probably not. It took leaving the comfortable womb of LA for me to realize that I was unhappy with what I was doing creatively. Then it took another year of figuring out what kind of music I wanted to make. That year was filled with the frantic chaos of New York City and its colorful, caffinated architecture, culture and nighttime. A year of that will change anybody. It makes you tougher but is also the most stimulating place in the world. Everyone's an artist here. And a good one too. It makes you want to work harder to compete with the curve. Do you think where you are geographically influences the way music sounds or how lyrics are written? As I said before, I think being in this city changed the way I do things. But that doesn't mean I'm writing exclusively about subways, the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center. So no, I imagine if I spent a few years here and then moved back to California, I’d be writing the same records. Perhaps “Pop Music Of The Future”, also from Numbers, would mention the 101 instead of the L-train, but that's about it The first two Say Hi records were made using a PC computer that you built. Did you use the same computer to record Ferocious Mopes? I did. Some of the drums were recorded at a proper studio this time. But those recordings were then chopped up and re-processed and programmed at my home studio. All the guitar, bass, synths and vocals were done on the computer, in my bedroom. Just like the last two records. In most photos I’ve seen of you, your face is either half seen or hidden behind an object. Do you not like having your picture taken, or do you just not want to be recognized? It’s not that I don't like to have my picture taken, it’s that I don't like to look at pictures of myself. Besides, I think music is always better if you're not thinking about what the people making it look like. It’s better if someone can just appreciate the recording for what it is, devoid of any connection to the real world. From some of the pages (faq, press(interview)) I’ve read on the Say Hi website, they have all been hilarious. Do you consider yourself a funny guy? Aside from a work ethic, I like to not take any of it too seriously. People often laugh, whether they're doing it at me or with me I don't know. My few attempts at stand-up as between-song stage banter have been pretty bleak though, I’ll tell you that much.
At what point in your life did you decide At what point in your life did you decide being a musician was what you wanted to do? It was never a conscious decision on my part to be a musician. It was something that happened that I fell in love with and kept doing. Whatâ€™s the worst job you have ever had? Every job is a tie until I started doing graphic design and even some of those are absolutely terrible.
being a musician was what you wanted to do? I started playing drums at age 17 literally right after going to Lollapolooza and watching Patty Schemel play drums with Hole. I had never seen a woman play drums like that before and was totally and completely enthralled. I started taking lessons, and in a few months started my first band. I was hooked. Whatâ€™s the worst job you have ever had?
What would you be doing if you weren't in a band?
Cashier at Mr. Chicken â€˜n Ribs. I am vegan. This was in high school and miserable. I was just vegetarian at the time but still. Ugh.
I would be doing graphic design and not worrying about paying rent.
What would you be doing if you weren't in a band?
Would you rather work for your money or win the lottery?
I do other things besides my band that I might focus on more, such as freelance writing and travel, but there isn't anything I would say I am missing out on because of my band.
I would rather win the lottery so I could continue playing music with no regard for making money from it. Could you ever work a 40 hour a week, 9 to 5 desk job? It's been a while since I've done so but I think it's possible. It's just a different state of mind.
Would you rather work for your money or win the lottery? I'd love to win the lottery! I run a small record label Exotic Fever www.exoticfever.com and I would like to be able to have tons of money to support the rad artists on it!
Who do you owe your success to?
Could you ever work a 40 hour a week, 9 to 5 desk job?
Success? I wouldn't call it success but I definitely owe where I am at to all the people involved with this band. From the rest of the boys in the band to Jade Tree, David Lewis, Susanne Dawursk and of course everyone that likes our band and bought our record. Thank you.
Hehe. I do! I am a grantwriter at a national youth violence prevention nonprofit based in DC called The Empower Program www.empowerprogram.org. Who do you owe your success to? My mama. She is the single most loving, energetic person I have ever met!
At what point in your life did you decide being a musician was what you wanted to do?
At what point in your life did you decide being a musician was what you wanted to do?
I think I was a freshman in high school. I had been going to shows and buying records for a couple of years as a fan of the music but once I started becoming aware of how amazing and vibrant the D.I.Y. scene in Philadelphia was (mainly thanks to shows at the First Unitarian Church and Stalag 13) I knew I had to get involved. And I have been ever since.
I've never actually decided this actively. I am a dedicated half-assed dilettante who has studied music most of his life. Starting a band seemed like a reasonable thing to do, but I never expected it to be my main occupation.
What’s the worst job you have ever had? I worked in a fried foods joint for about fifteen minutes. Hard up for cash, I accepted a friend's offer of hooking me up with a relatively stress-free position slinging chicken fingers and wings, but when I realized that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get the stink of the friers out of my clothes, shoes and hair, I stopped showing up. They could have paid me a hundred dollars an hour and I doubt it'd have been worth it. Thus ended my career in the service industry, hopefully forever. What would you be doing if you weren’t in a band? Probably trying to start one. Or maybe working as a nightclub singer, radiantly going on with my decadent show (even in the face of a second Bush presidency) and holding my many admirers at enough of a distance that I might keep from having to bother with genuinely deep emotions.
What’s the worst job you have ever had? Fixing classic arcade machines for this complete dick who would challenge me whenever I tried to get paid. What would you be doing if you weren't in a band? I think I would start one of those 'car title' loan places. That or a credit card company. Maybe both. Would you rather work for your money or win the lottery? I would like to win the lottery and devote all of my time to learning interesting things and making stuff. Could you ever work a 40 hour a week, 9 to 5 desk job?
Would you rather work for your money or win the lottery?
Nope. But I can work an 80-hour-a-week, allover-the-world, very taxing and glamourous job. Turning this band into a successful business has been the most stressful and sweat-inducing thing I have ever done in my working life, and I'm not even doing it alone.
How about both?
Who do you owe your success to?
Could you ever work a 40 hour a week, 9 to 5 desk job?
Everyone who works with us through our label, our booking agent, our publicist - David Lewis, everyone in the distribution chain who has said a kind word encouraging buyers to pick up our CDs, and everyone who has ever spent a dollar/euro/kroner/whatever on us. Also, the other bands who taught us how to operate: Avail and Hot Water Music.
I've done it a couple times. It's only as bad as the job itself is. Some of the more creativity-based ones were amazing, barely even like working at all; however some of the ones felt like being in prison. For now I'm content to stay out of that world so I'm more free to tour, help out with R5 Productions' shows and pursue my modeling career.
At what point in your life did you decide being a musician was what you wanted to do?
to having an amazing manager appear out of nowhere to help us out. But more abstractly, we owe our sense of musical success to people like the Beatles, David Bowie, Neil Young, Brian Ferry, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Pavement, Sonic Youth, the Kinks, Nirvana, Sam Cooke, The Clash, R. Stevie Moore, Otis Redding, Brian Eno, Talking Heads, and about a million others. Also, Philadelphia has been very good to us.
The other guys probably decided by middle school, but it took me a little longer. I didn't start playing guitar until my first year of college. But I would say sometime in the next year or so I'll be ready to make the leap of referring to myself as a musician. What’s the worst job you have ever had? Actually I've kind of liked every job I've ever had, I just get really tired and hungry after an hour or two so I want to leave. I was a dishwasher at University of Delaware when I was in high school, which seems like it would be terrible, but about 15 people who I was friends with got jobs in the same dining hall and we mutinied and pretty much had the run of the place for the next two years. So that was awesome. What would you be doing if you weren’t in a band? I'm actually a Law School Graduate, so I guess I would be expected to do something with that. Would you rather work for your money or win the lottery? I think I can speak for all members of Dr. Dog in saying that we would rather win the lottery than not win the lottery. Could you ever work a 40 hour a week, 9 to 5 desk job? I would like to imagine that I could, but I'm not really that interested in finding out. I have mastered living on very small amounts of money just to avoid those type of situations. I do admire a finely crafted desk though. Who do you owe your success to? Our band has been dealt a series of insanely lucky breaks, from being asked to open for My Morning Jacket, to being featured in the New York Times,
At what point in your life did you decide being a musician was what you wanted to do? If I had to pick a point in my youth where I decided that I wanted to be a rocker it would be the summer before my senior year of high school. I was 16 I think, and was playing guitar and singing in this noise punk band called the geEk Aggression. I’m from a medium sized city in upstate NY called Syracuse and in the early 90s there was a huge local hardcore scene. As a really young kid we would skate all week and go to The Lost Horizon for their Hardcore Matinee’s. It was a full days worth of the craziest hardcore bands for like 3 or 4 bucks. Through that I got into bands like Youth of Today, Quicksand, Fugazi, Split Lip and Op Ivy as well as some of the killer local bands like Earth Crisis, Infusion and Framework. I don’t know if it was my age or the just overall standoff-ish attitude of the scene but I didn’t feel like I could be out there doing what those bands were doing. Around ’90 or ’91 this shift happened in the local hardcore scene and all these skateboard kids started going Vegan X-Edge and all of a sudden the scene got even more suffocating. You’d go to the same Sunday shows you had been going to and if you didn’t have huge X’s Sharpie’d to your hands you were scum. I tried to stick around for a while but it just didn’t feel right. A year or two later I met the guys in the band geEk Aggression and started playing guitar with them. Through those guys I got introduced to the greats – Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, Scratch Acid, Ramones.
We used to practice almost every day, just getting stoned and making the loudest most angry noise our little bodies could. Once we started playing shows it all started to make sense. At that point I began meeting people, older guys who were in their mid 20s still rocking out. The two people that made the biggest difference in my young rockerdom were Rob Walsh from the scariest band in Syracuse, SpamHammer and Lee Waters, the drummer of Sonic Whirlpool, who is still the most rock motherfuckers I have ever met. It was actually those guys that got me to Chapel Hill, the rest is history…or something like that… What’s the worst job you have ever had? I sold vacuum cleaners door to door for Kirby Vacuum. I had to wear nice shirts and a tie. They would sing songs like "gimme a K. I. R. B. Y. Whats it Spell? KIRBY! What do we sell? KIRBY! What do we make? !!MONEY!!" I think I lasted 4 days. I would ride my bike to work and get there all sweaty and have to ‘freshen up’ in the gas station bathroom near the shop, get in a van with a group of hopefuls and knock on doors. It was the utmost in humiliation. A very close second was going door to door collecting money for NCPIRG. They had a killer help wanted add "Earn $300-$500 a week working for the environment" I lasted a little longer there, maybe 3 weeks. I hated interrupting stranger’s lives to ask for money and would usually just sit under trees and read pretending to be working. Needless to say I really sucked at it and I think I only made my weekly minumum one week and that was cause one of the managers felt sorry for me and gave me one of his donations. They would bring us out in groups, drop us off in a neighborhood and leave not to return until late in the evening. We would go all over Chapel Hill and Durham. One day they dropped me off in one of the low income ‘ghettos’ of Durham. I got out of the car and my jaw dropped. I couldn’t do it, I wouldn’t do it. I absolutely would not subject these poor people to the spiel I was taught. Our country had cut out very definite areas of low priced housing, keeping the poor legally segregated by the only thing more powerful than laws, money. Yeah sure, segregation is against the laws held upon us by the US Government, but not the laws of eco-
nomics. I decided that instead of asking for money I was just going to spread the information, one thing that doesn’t flow freely in these parts of the country. I went door to door and instead of giving my "please help us out and give generously" spiel, I told them the facts and as an experiment collected signatures. I think I made it to 4 houses before I was approached by two men, one very large and one small, both drunk. The little one asked me for some change while the big one made his way around to my side and before I knew it he gave me a bear hug, picked me up and the little one rummaged through my wallet and took what little money I had, thus concluding my stint as an environmental activist. What would you be doing if you were not in a band? Probably getting a lot more sleep, having a lot more money and looking for people to play in a band with. Would you rather work for your money or win the lottery? I would love to win the lottery, but only because it would enable me to be able to do more financially for the punk community. Even if I, out of the blue, got a lot of money I would never stop "working". I would just be able to "work" in different ways. Instead of being a productive tool making money for something or someone else in exchange for a living wage, I would be working towards helping other people make a living wage through their art in a way that doesn’t compromise what they are doing by commodification for a mainstream demographic. Could you ever work a 40 hour a week, 9 to 5 desk job? I do work a 40 hr a week job right now, actually its usually more than 40 hours a week but my desk is a work bench and my paper work is carving hunks of wood into beautiful guitars. I think the whole desk job thing really comes down to what your options are. I don’t ever believe I’ll be in a band that will afford me to not have to work for someone else in some capacity.
If my options were flipping burgers in a place that gave me a hard time for taking time off for tour, wouldnâ€™t let me call in sick and paid me like an indentured servant OR enter data into some computer or design circuit boards on AutoCAD while sitting at a desk in a place that gave me paid vacation and sick days. Well, then you better believe Iâ€™d work a desk job. But for now I am lucky enough to make my money with the toil of my hands. Weather it be crafting wood into guitars or building bikes. At least I am producing something I love, even if it does make someone else rich. Who do you owe your success to? I guess the success I have is only possible because of a network of amazing people all over the world that are willing to live a life that is a little harder, do a little more work and get paid only in knowing they are part of something that totally kicks ass. I owe the fact that there are punk clubs and collective show spaces to bands like the Minutemen and Black Flag who were willing to all pile into one van and drive all over the US and play in any shithole bar that would have them. I owe the fact that kids under 18 can come to see shows at clubs to bands like Minor Threat and Fugazi who would only play shows if all ages could come. I owe the fact that there are labels like Bifocal Media and Lovitt Records to all the amazing bands that have been playing subversive music in a subversive way and doing it with the help of small local labels that put out music because they love it and telling the major record labels and the Clear Channel controlled mega radio stations to fuck off. And I guess more than anything else I owe it to MTV, Rolling Stone and Atlantic records for making the most watered down, unoriginal and uninspiring shitbag of a music industry that will continue to turn an ever growing handful of kids away from the mainstream garbage that is shoved down their throats and make them search out truth and meaning in art. Without that music industry true diy punk would cease to exist.
The Aquabats “Charge” Upon first listen of the new Aquabats album, I realized that there are no horns anywhere. If you know anything about The Aquabats, then you know that they started out as a ska band. Ska bands have horns, The Aquabats do not. Does that mean they are not ska anymore? Truthfully, it doesn’t really matter. “Charge” is the best album they’ve put out since “Fury of The Aquabats.” (Nitro)
rock. With all those duels, you can’t really tell there is 2 drummers. The guitars sound more full, but what’s the point of having 2 drummers or guitars if it sounds like they’re playing the same notes/chords? This should be played with cruisen for chicks in your 1970’s Chevy muscle car. (Bifocal Media) Chixdiggit “Pink Razors” Quite a catchy punk album. I’d say it’s more guitar driven then most punk. The last track is a 27 minute commentary by the band as they play through each song. (Epitaph) Chin Up Chin Up “s/t” This is a re-issue of Chin Upx2’s first album “We Should Have Never Lived Like Skyscrapers.” This new album features some of the songs off their previous album, some remixes and a video for “...Lived Like Skyscrapers.” (Flameshovel)
The Aquabats Carter Tanton “Birds and Rain” A good set of songs by 23 year old Carter Tanton. “Birds and Rain” has a lot of good songwriting and guitar playing. (Park the Van) Cex “Know Doubt” Cex is a very provocative name for a band. Having sex or making love to this album would be like having sex to road work noises. (Record Label) The Cherry Valence “TCV3” With dual drummers, vocals and double riffing, The Cherry Valence sound like a band not to be messed with. They are a 2005 version of classic
Criteria “When We Break” “When We Break” has a great opening song that rocks and sets the pace for the rest of the album. A lot of the songs are really good and there is really no disappointment in this album. (Saddle Creek) Cursive “The Difference Between Houses and Homes” I was a semi fan when I first heard Cursive. They had a song that I liked. When “Ugly Organ” came out, I enjoyed their sound a lot more than their older stuff. “The Difference Between Houses and Homes,” is a collection of out of print 7 inches and 2 unreleased tracks. The songs on this album are from early in their career, and sound nothing like their newer stuff. Some of its good and some I’d pass up. (Saddle Creek)
Deathray Davies “The Kick and The Snare” Oh Deathray Davies, my have you grown. And become happier. Their last album was a little on the dark side, sound wise. Their new album, much brighter and upbeat. They even through in some trumpets to round out the sound. (Glurp)
Euphone “V” “V” shows Euphone going in a new direction than his previous albums. While the majority, if not all the songs on his previous albums we instrumental, “V” has a couple tracks with vocals. (Record Label)
Get Him Eat Him “Geography Cones” The sound on “Geography Cones” is almost as strange as the name of the band. By mixing wurlitzers, organs, and synthesizers with traditional instruments and superb guitar playing, Get The Deathray Davies Him Eat Him has released a strong Des Ark debut album. The artwork is also “Loose Lips Sink Ships” something to be mentioned. It looks I was at a restaurant once and there as though they used construction was a painting on the wall that said paper or felt cloth and made interest“Loose Lips Sink Ships” and it had a ing animal shapes, but it makes this ship sinking. It was art from time of band even more unique. “Mumble war. This new Des Ark album doesn’t Mumble” is a stand out. (Absolutely remind me of war, but it does remind Kosher) me that there are duos out in the music world better than the White Gold Rush Stripes. (Bifocal Media) “Ozona” They named this album after a small The Epoxies town in Texas, that their bus broke “Stop the Future” down in. “Ozona” has a polished and I don’t understand this whole new well played sound. (Truck) wave music revival going on. So when I first popped the new Epoxies album Jackson United in, I was expecting the same synth “Western Ballads” blah blah blah that’s been going on. Chris Shiflett, of Foo Fighters and Me But I was pleasantly surprised that First and the Gimme Gimmes fame, The Epoxies sounded a bit different. shows off his lead singer/songwriter They have a very upbeat and fun skills with perfect punk album with sound, much like Devo. (Epitaph) elements of The Get Up Kids, Saves the Day, and Weezer. (Magnificent)
Jim Yoshii Pile Up “Picks Us Apart” It took me a couple listens to get into this, but after I did, I was quite pleased. They use very good ideas playing the songs, by how they play the guitar and how the vocals sound. If you’ve heard Zykos, then you have a close idea to how The Jim Yoshii Pile Up sounds. (Absolutely Kosher)
Lake Trout “Not Them, You” With “Not Them,You,” Lake Trout has blended many different genres into one album and actually pulled it off. How you ask, they’re just that damn good. With songs ranging from post rock to instrumental to shoegazer. It sounds like Cave In got together with Radiohead, and instrumental
Lake Trout Josh Joplin “Jaywalker” Josh’s past included a 2 record stay at Artemis Records and a contracted songwriter at Jive. But one day while going to do his laundry, he saw a man playing guitar on a stoop. The man asked if Josh wanted to join in, Josh did, and the experience reminded him why he loved playing music. While still under contract with Artemis, Josh went and recorded “Jaywalker” with childhood friend, Issa Diao. He sent the new album to Artemis and they told him that “Jaywalker” was not the record that they needed. While “Jaywalker” is mostly acoustic guitar, there is a strong presence of a full band, and the songwriting is great. (Eleven Thirty Records)
band Explosions in the Sky and made an album. But there is also the downside of so many different songs, it disrupts the flow of the album. Anyway you look at it, “Not Them, You,” is a great album. (Palm) The Lawrence Arms “Cocktails and Dreams” “Cocktails and Dreams” is a collection of B-sides, tracks from out of print split CD’s, exclusive tracks, new recordings, and bonus tracks. If your a fan of the Lawrence Arms, or like punk music, then I suggest you pick this up. (Asian Man)
Lords “Swords” There is nothing very exiting about Lords. The sound on “Swords” doesn’t sound as good as it should, and that’s basically the main problem. If it sounded like it was recorded in a studio and not in a large open space, I may have liked it more. (Jade Tree) Make Believe “Shock of Being” I love how Tim Kinsella is in like 4 different bands, with roughly the same musicians, and most of the 4 bands music sounds the same. But some people like one band over another or like one band and don’t like the others at all. Make Believe does sound like a Tim Kinsella project, but it stands out more from anything else he’s done. (Flameshovel) Minus the Bear “Menos el Oso” I have a love/hate relationship with Minus the Bear. The music sounds so good, but I can’t stand to listen to them. There is just something about them, something mystical. It’s like they sold their souls to the devil in exchange for playing great music, but then the devil turned around and said “I’ll make you play good, but no ones gonna want to listen to it.” Their sound is just so damn original, it sucks. (Suicide Squeeze) Motion City Soundtrack “ Commit This to Memory” How is it that this band is from Minneapolis and I have never heard of their music. I’ve been missing out. They play some damn infectious punk. (Epitaph) MxPx “Panic” After a few years and a few less than mediocre records on A&M, MxPx releases their debut album on Side One Dummy. By far their best album
since “Life in General” or “Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo.” Hopefully with this new album, they will shed some of that sell out resentment everyone has for them, and everyone will realize that they can actually play good music. (Side One Dummy) Bob Mould “Body of Song” If your expecting Husker Du, then the take the next time machine back to the late 80’s. “Body of Song” is more futuristic with it electro vocal effects. (Yep Roc)
Minus the Bear The Narrator “Such Triumph” Such a good album. Angular punk with influences like Cap’n Jazz. Track 8 has a Promise Ring influence, and it the stand out track. (Flameshovel) The Nein “Wrath of Circuits” Former White Octave and Steel Pole Bath Tub members combining punk influences with sound manipulations and samples. Unique and inventive. (Sonic Unyon)
No Use For a Name “Keep Them Confused” Almost sounds like a copy of The Ataris, but No Use For a Name have been around a lot longer than The Ataris. Overall, “Keep Them Confused,” is a good album, but the sound is nothing new. (Epitaph)
Say Hi to Your Mom “Ferocious Mopes” You could honestly play Say Hi’s 2 previous albums, along with “Ferocious Mopes” and you would notice that their is hardly a difference in sound. But all the songs are infectious and fun to listen to. (Euphobia)
Parish School “Alikeness” This is Brian Case’s, from 90 Day Men, first solo release. All of the songs on this EP were written on a piano, and have certain electronic elements in each song. Track 4 sounds like Ratatat, with vocals. (Record Label) Schoolyard Heroes Portastatic Schoolyard Heroes “Bright Ideas” “Fantastic Wounds” Superchunk singer Mac McCaughan’s Scathing high energy female fronted side band. What Mac did with “Bright metal, with guitars like Slash and Ideas” was, write 10 lovely indie drumming that would make that guy from Rush proud. (The Control Group) The Soviettes “LP3” This is The Soviettes debut release on Fat Wreck, since leaving Adeline Records. Danny, the sole male in the band, sings more on this album, than on their previous albums. “LP3” has a nice blend of punk rock with plenty of edge. (Epitaph)
Portastatic songs about ghosts and girls he wants to know. With each listen, you’ll fall in love with this album more. (Merge)
Sparrow “The Early Years” Sparrow is a new band from Jason Zumpano, who was in a band with Carl Newman, before Carl left to do the New Pornographers. Sparrow has a lot of piano elements, and it kind of sounds like the Shins, without copying the Shins sound. Definitely something worth checking out. (Absolutely Kosher)
Spoon “Gimme Fiction” The line forms to the left to shake hands and congratulate Britt Daniel and company on another fine Spoon album. I won’t be in the line. I do enjoy some of the songs off “Gimme Fiction,” but I think “Kill the Moonlight” is a much better album. (Merge) Spoon Statistics “Often Lie” Denver Dalley’s Statistics project gets better with each release. He has great songwriting skills. The only disappointment on this album is it’s only 9 tracks. 1 or 2 more to fill it out wouldn’t have hurt. (Jade Tree) Stnnng “Dignified Sissy” Stnnng hold a special place in my heart. Mainly because their music is all over the place. The guitars, drums and vocals come from all over, but together it just makes sense. (Modern Radio) The Teeth “Carry the Wood” The Teeth have a sound that is reminiscent of the Beatles with their vocal harmonies and piano. You can tell they’re having a lot of fun on this short 6 song release. Track 4 has some nice trumpet work that gives the song on old big band feel. (Park the Van) The Vets “Ad Infinitum” (Modern Radio) A great follow up to their last album. “Ad Infinitum” is over 70 minutes long and needs to be listened to in one sitting. There is some excellent guitar and drum work here.(Modern Radio)
Tim Kinsella “Crucifix Swastika” Tim’s got great wordplay. This is Tim’s second solo album. He wrote the songs while on his honeymoon. But I don’t know if they are about his honeymoon or not. (Record Label) Vox Vermillion “Standing Still You Move Forward” Intricate and somewhat eerie, Vox Vermillion has created semi epic gems of brilliance. VV is a cross between The Umbrella Sequence, for their piano driven songs, and A Whisper in the Noise, for their mood setting and cello. (Women Records)