TH E M US I C I A N’S R ES O U RC E
AUG 2012 FREE
INTERVIEWS AIR TR AFFIC CONTROLLER THE 4ONTHEFLOOR THE REVELS
LE E BA I NS I I I & Making the Most of Short Studio Sessions, Glitches and All
THE GLORY FIRES
MA XIMIZE PINTEREST FOR YOUR BAND COLLECT DIGITAL DOWNLOAD ROYALTIES RECORD STRINGS & KEYS LIKE A PRO GEAR REVIEWS, NEWS AND MORE !
PreSonus™ AudioBox™ 1818VSL. The thoroughbred USB 2.0 interface that’s more than just a one-trick pony.
Because the 1818VSL’s Virtual Mixer has a whole StudioLive Fat Channel of EQ, compression, and limiting plus reverb and delay effects, you can use it live on stage as a one rack space StudioLive mixer with iPad® control!
rom the folks who brought you the highly-respected FireStudio series interfaces, comes the same robust design and pristine sonics in a USB 2.0 design. Same Class A, high-voltage, XMAX™ microphone preamps that can render the most delicate musical details. Top-quality digital converters with –114dB dynamic range and JetPLL™ Synchronization to ensure optimal converter performance, better stereo separation and increased transparency. And big-boy features like Sync (Word Clock) Out, 8-channel ADAT I/O, and S/PDIF I/O.
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You’ll make dramatically better recordings when you can hear real-time reverb, compression, and EQ in your headphones while tracking. Easy to do if you have a digital mixer or outboard effects processors. Impossible if you try to rely on your DAW effects plug-ins due to excessive latency (delay) that makes you sound like you’re playing in a tunnel.
So we sliced up a StudioLive™ 16.0.2 digital mixer and put its Fat Channel processors into the AudioBox 1818VSL interface — and then added reverb and delay. Now you can monitor with effects…free from audible latency.
The interface you can also use as a live performance mixer. On your laptop screen, the 1818VSL’s 26 x 8 Virtual Mixer looks a lot like VSL* on a StudioLive digital mixer. And it is. Complete with scene save and recall, and 50 signal processing pre-sets. Now, with AB1818VSL Remote for iPad®, a free download from the Apps Store, you can mix live while adding both effects and signal processing to your PA and monitor! Get full info on our website and then visit your PreSonus dealer soon.
Second Annual Users’ Conference September 28-29, 2012, Baton Rouge, LA http://presonusphere.presonus.com *Virtual StudioLive. Our remote control program for Mac and PC.©2012, PreSonus Audio Electronics, All Rights Reserved. XMAX, FireStudio, StudioLive, and AudioBox are trademarks of PreSonus Audio Electronics. Weather in Baton Rouge at time of making this ad: a sizzling 98˚. But nice by September for PreSonuSphere.
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the digital revolution is not only here,
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iPad is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Wi-Fi router required for wireless operation. Wi-Fi router and iPad not included. Copyright © 2012 LOUD Technologies Inc. All Rights Reserved.
01376_DL1608 Unplugged_Performer.indd 1
6/14/12 1:59 PM
TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S
VOL.22, ISSUE 8
Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires by Andrew Fersch STORY
Bains has somehow managed to find the spiritual and musical connection between punk rock and Southern rock, and has assembled a band who, in a short time, has transferred punkâ€™s antiestablishment attitude to good olâ€™ Dixie rock and roll.
Air Traffic Controller by Andrew Fersch
The 4onthefloor by Maureen Wisnewski The Revels by Carolyn Vallejo
The Boston-based group recently sat down with Performer to discuss the creative process behind their new album NORDO, including adding strings to their sound and how fan funding helped them produce the record.
In Minnesota, this band of kick drum enthusiasts is keeping roadhouse rock alive. So, how does a group with four kick drummers, who only plays in 4/4 time, stay creative? Well, we find out in our interview with skin-kicker Gabriel Douglas.
26 They sure know how to throw down in Atlanta, and The Revels are living, breathing proof of that. Combating the stigma of being a Southern rock band, The Revels have managed to produce the best rock record of the year, by far: Keep The Dust Down.
D E PA R T M E N T S 5 Obituaries
32 Top Picks: The best in new music
53 Recording: String Sections
6 Local News
44 Using Pinterest For Your Band
56 Flashback: Solid State Logic SL505
12 Tour Stop: Santa Cruz, CA
45 Legal Pad: Digital Download Royalties
13 Career Opportunities
47 Songwriting Tips from Rebecca Jordan
49 My Favorite Synth: with Erin Barra
Margaret Glaspy, Wordsmith,
50 Studio Diary: with Ted Hu
Tauk, Andrea Gillis
52 Recording: Pianos and Keyboards
Photos - Top left clockwise. David A. Smith (Cover photo and this page), Phil Sanders, Jessie Maltz, Mark Battle
AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 3
FROM THE TOP Howdy, y’all! Somehow this ended up as our “Southern Rock” issue, if only in an unofficial sense. By sheer coincidence, three of our four main features this month have strong Southern influences in their music, including our cover artist Lee Bains. What makes Bains particularly interesting is the way he finds parallels between punk rock and Southern rock. We’re always on the lookout for artists with unique stories to tell, and interesting ways of approaching their art; Bains’ creative process is certainly unique, and has helped him craft one of the decade’s great rock albums, There is a Bomb in Gilead. But if Southern rock ain’t your thang, we’ve jam-packed this issue with a ton of other useful information. Check out the Local News section for a glimpse of opportunities around the country and in your neck of the woods, flip through our Top Picks to see what new records we’re digging this month, and spend some time in the back of the mag where we offer up some tips on using Pinterest for your band, collecting digital download royalties, and recording acoustic pianos and strings for your next project. In other news, we’ve made some more updates to our website, which should make videos and
Volume 22, Issue 8 streaming tracks easier to find and share. So check out the *slightly newer* performermag.com when you get a chance. Speaking of new stuff (nice segue, huh?), we can always use good contributors to add fresh content and articles to both the site and the print mag you hold in your hands. To paraphrase our illustrious forefathers at CREEM: “This is just to say we want you. That should’ve been obvious all along, of course, but just in case it isn’t here’s the deal: NOBODY WHO WRITES FOR THIS RAG’S GOT ANYTHING YOU AIN’T GOT, at least in the way of credentials. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be sending us your stuff: reviews, features, photos, recording tips, DIY advice or whatever you have in mind that be interesting to our readers: independent and DIY musicians. Who else do ya know who’ll publish you? We really will...ask any of our dozens of satisfied customers. Just bop it along to us to firstname.lastname@example.org and see what comes back your way. There’s really no such thing as an ‘unsolicited submission,’ you know, and if you have eyes to be in print, this just might be the place. Whaddya got to lose? Whaddya got?”
-Benjamin Ricci Editor P.S. – if anyone asks, I’m drinking Boy Howdy!
ABOUT US Performer Magazine, a nationally distributed musician’s trade publication, focuses on independent musicians, those unsigned and on small labels, and their success in a DIY environment. We’re dedicated to promoting lesser-known talent and being the first to introduce you to artists you should know about.
SUBMISSION GUIDELINES We listen to everything that comes into the office. Unfortunately, due to space limitations, we are not able to review everything. If you do not see your record in the mag in the months following your submission, we were unable to feature it. We prefer physical CDs over downloads. If you do not have a CD, send download links to email@example.com. Send CDs to Performer Magazine, 24 Dane St., Somerville, MA 02143. 4 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
24 Dane St., Suite 3 Somerville, MA 02143 Phone: 617-627-9200 - Fax: 617-627-9930 PUBLISHER
William House - firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR
Benjamin Ricci - email@example.com DESIGN AND ART DIRECTION
Joe LoVasco - firstname.lastname@example.org EDITORIAL ASSISTANT
Samantha Ward email@example.com
Adam Barnosky, Alexandria Sardam, Amanda Macchia, Andrew Fersch, Ashley Amaru, Ben Marazzi, Benjamin Ricci, Carolyn Vallejo, Chris Devine, Chrisanne Grise, Christopher Petro, Elisabeth Wilson, Garrett Frierson, Julia DeStefano, Margaret Price, Matt Lambert, Maureen Wisnewski, Meghan Pochebit., Noelle Janka, Pamela Ricci, Rebecca Jordan, Samantha Ward, Sarah Wilfong, Scott Cooper, Shawn M Haney, Tara Lacey, Vanessa Bennett, Vincent Scarpa, Zac Cataldo, Zack Sulsky
Amanda Macchia, Becky Sahm, Ben Grimes, Brett Falcon, Bryan Boswell, David A Smith, Jessie Maltz, Jon Strymish, Jonathan Assink, Mark Battle, Michael D. Spencer, Noelle Janka, O. Stutz, Pete Mitchell, Phil M, Phil Sanders, Vanessa Bennett, Vivian Johnson, Zac Cataldo ADVERTISING SALES
Kathleen Mackay - firstname.lastname@example.org Deborah Rice - email@example.com
© 2012 by Performer Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any method whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher. The magazine accepts no responsibility for unsolicited recordings, manuscripts, artwork or photographs and will not return such materials unless requested and accompanied by a SASE.
Annual Subscription Rate is $30 in the U.S.; $45 outside the U.S.
Concert pianist Brigitte Engerer, a French pianist trained in Moscow, died on June 23 at age 59. As a talented musician and fiery performer, she engaged in her first public performance at the age of six and went on to play with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Orchestre de Paris in Barenboim later in life. Though she played in many prestigious concert halls, Engerer always preferred a more intimate setting and family life.
Mehdi Hassan, 84 Master of the ghazal Mehdi Hasson died at age 84 on June 13, a jolting loss to fans and admirers all over the Indian subcontinent. Hassan was known for creating a cultural bridge between India and Pakistan with his universally popular performances of the ghazal, a type of Urdu lyric-verse. After a successful appearance on Radio Pakistan in 1952, his impeccable ability to marry verse with composition earned him fame, recognition, and the ability to tour the world to packed concert halls.
Audrienne Ferguson, 69 Marvelettes Singer Audrienne Ferguson died at age 69 on June 26. Ferguson was a powerhouse singer, known for her performances in the reincarnation of the Marvelettes, taking the place of former lead singer Gladys Horton. The new-look Marvelettes, while faced with some criticism from die-hard fans of the original group, performed worldwide throughout the 1970s and early ’80s, singing the popular song “Please Mr. Postman” to audiences grateful for a taste of the past.
Abram Wilson, 38 Jazz Trumpeter, Recorded with Ruth Brown On June 9, Abram Wilson, a talented jazz musician, died of cancer at age 38. Wilson was introduced to the trumpet at an early age in New Orleans. He traveled to New York where he led his own quartet and made his recording debut with Ruth Brown in 1999. He eventually moved to London where he played in the big band led by pianist Julian Joseph and was picked up by the Dune record label. His numerous jazz albums were released to great critical acclaim.
Richard Adler, 90 Broadway Composer The co-creator of the music and lyrics to ’50s Broadway hits The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees, Richard Adler died at age 90 on June 23. With his friend and partner Jerry Ross, Adler created the hits that propelled these shows to run over 1,000 performances and each win a Tony Award for Best Musical. Notable hits include “Hey There,” “Hernando’s Hideaway,” and “Whatever Lola Wants.” After the death of Ross, Adler composed for the musical Kwamina, and wrote TV jingles later in life.
Brigitte Engerer, 59
Chris Neal, 40 Music Journalist Chris Neal passed away June 17 in his Nashville home at the age of 40. Neal was a prominent music journalist and most recently worked as one of the founding members of M Magazine, a popular teen magazine. He also spent ten years working as a staff member of Country Weekly and contributed to a number of publications including Nashville Scene, American Photographer, and The Village Voice.
Frances Preston, 83 Former BMI CEO Longtime President/CEO of Broadcast Music Inc., Frances Preston died in Nashville from congestive heart failure at age 83. Preston founded BMI’s Nashville office in 1958 before climbing the ranks to the New Yorkbased BMI, where she was president for 18 years. As president, Preston fought to defend songwriters’ copyrights, a mission that earned her a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame. She is considered an integral figure in establishing Nashville as “Music City.”
Bob Welch, 66 Fleetwood Mac Guitarist One of the earliest members of Fleetwood Mac, Bob Welch died at age 66 on June 7 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. Welch joined Fleetwood Man in 1971 as a vocalist/guitarist but left the band just three years later, shortly before the group hit it big with his replacements Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Though he was excluded from the line-up inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Welch played a crucial role in the transition of the band into the iconic group it became in the mid-’70s.
AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 5
BOSTON 5 MINUTES WITH... Sean Slade, Owner / Staff Producer QUARRY RECORDERS
New Opp for Local Artists to Hit the Airwaves Mutiny on the Microphone Transitions To Internet Station by Samantha Ward Photo by Adrienne Dancey
Interview by Samantha Ward Photo by O. Stutz Sean Slade is a record producer, engineer, and mixer who has worked with a plethora of successful Boston artists such as Buffalo Tom, The Pixies, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Dresden Dolls, and countless others. His name can be founds on inf luential ‘90s albums like Radiohead’s Pablo Honey and Hole’s Live Through This. Now, when in Boston, he works at Mad Oak Studios in Allston. 30-Second Bio “I graduated from Yale University in 1978, moved to Boston, played guitar and saxophone in various beat combos, and co-founded Fort Apache Studios in 1985. I can currently be found recording music at Quarry Recorders, my studio in rural Maine.” Why should we know about you? “I’ve lived almost entirely in recording studios since 1986, so you might have heard one or two of the hundreds of records I’ve worked on.” What are you trying to do in music? “Keep it funky, and not ‘correct’ any musical performances with Pro-Tools.” Proudest achievement? “Making an international hit record (“Creep” by Radiohead). As a youth, I fantasized that would be fun.”
View Slade’s discography at www.discogs.com/artist/Sean+Slade 6 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Adam Blye is in the process of creating a purely New England artist based Internet radio station, streaming 24/7. The station will be an extension of his current podcast, Mutiny on the Microphone, and will dedicate its airtime to up-and-coming artists from the area. The project is currently raising funds on IndieGoGo, a Kickstarter-like website offering incentives like t-shirts, compilations albums, and guest DJ spots for those who donate to the cause. The goal is to raise $5,500 dollars, though it will cost roughly $500 per month to maintain the station. Blye confirms that even if the money isn’t raised by this deadline, progress will only be slowed, not halted. As a previous WBCN employee and Bostonnative, Blye says he recognizes the importance
of independent radio because of the heart in what it offers. He plans on using Mutiny on the Microphone to avoid the “cookie-cutter” feel of larger stations and embrace the freedom of choosing playlists solely for listeners. When the station is up and running, Blye intends to involve local businesses to raise revenue and form a symbiotic relationship within the locale. “I want to keep everything as local as I can,” he explains. “I’m really gearing everything towards building a community.” Artists from around the New England area can send music in for potential airtime in a highquality file to adam@mutinyonthemicrophone. com. In the meantime, any support towards the cause is warmly welcomed.
The Record Company
Freelance Studio Supports Youth Music Education The Record Company is a unique non-profit studio that combines youth music education with support for independent record making. Because of its private contributors, sponsors and ties to the community, the studio is available at affordable prices for independent musicians. According their mission statement: “Our studio is available at a fraction of the cost of our for-proﬁt counterparts. We are a community studio for musicians, by musicians. We are The Record Company.”
PRODUCTION APPROACH Because The Record Company is a freelance house and does not maintain a regular staff of engineers and producers, they do not have a specific production approach. That will depend on your project and the personnel you bring to it.
PAST CLIENTS Grass is Green - Ronson The La De Les - Gadfly Infinity Girl - Stop Being On My Side Friendly People - Full Length Project Matthew McArthur- Full Length Project
NOTABLE EQUIPMENT -ADM Broadcast Preamps -Boston GP-156 Baby Grand Piano -Antelope Zodiac DAC -Audio Technica 4050s, 4047s, 4049Bs microphones -GML 8200 EQ -Lexicon Prime Time Delays -Universal Audio UREI 1176 Limiter CONTACT INFO 960 Massachusetts Ave. Boston, MA 02118 (617) 334-5098 www.therecordco.org / firstname.lastname@example.org
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AUSTIN LOCAL NEWS
AUSTIN Record Labels MONOFONUS PRESS PO Box 6386 Austin, TX 78762 email@example.com www.monofonuspress.com BEATS BROKE PO Box 29775 Austin, TX 78755 info@b roke.com www.beatsbroke.com AUSTRALIAN CATTLE GOD RECORDS The Typewriter Museum Home of Australian Cattle God Records 1514 Ed Bluestein Blvd. #108 Austin, TX 78721 (512) 779-5179 firstname.lastname@example.org www.australiancattlegod.com KING ELECTRIC RECORD COMPANY 1303 East 4th St. Austin, TX 78702 (512) 665-7535 email@example.com www.kindelectricrecords.com WESTERN VINYL 4409 Merle Dr. Austin, TX 78745 firstname.lastname@example.org www.westernvinyl.com ARTIFICIAL MUSIC MACHINE 2108 Thornton Rd. Austin, TX 78704 (512) 657-1414 email@example.com www.artificialmusicmachine.com END SOUNDS PO Box 684743 Austin, TX 78768 (512) 535-0405 firstname.lastname@example.org www.endsounds.com EXPAT RECORDS 2020 South Congress Ave., Suite 1121 Austin, TX 78704 (512) 239-8949 email@example.com www.expat-records.com (all demos MUST be submitted online)
For more listings, visit performermag.com 8 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Bringing Reggae to the Opry Stage A Closer Look at Austin’s Carlton Pride by Tara Lacey Austin’s up-and-coming reggae star Carlton Pride was born into a life of music as the son of iconic country music legend Charley Pride. Carlton began his career in music by scoring a gig as a recording and sound engineer for his father and freelancing with various other artists. Carlton left his home and work in Dallas in 1995, headed for the Austin area, where the music culture nurtured his passion and helped him to realize his first reggae project, One. In 1996 Pride added his band Zion and began
playing the local circuit, eventually touring the States. He went on to headline Austin’s Bob Marley Festival (now Reggae Fest) from 1996 to 2003. In 2000, the band traveled to Jamaica to record Pride’s second album (What You Need) backed by Ruff Stuff Records at Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston. The album was produced by Clive Hunt (Peter Tosh, Culture) and features Marley’s own horn section, along with collaborations from Bunny Wailer, Culture, Burning Spear, and Alpha Blondy. The album also features an emotional guest appearance by Charley Pride in a father/son duet of his father’s No. 1 hit single, “Kiss An Angel Good Morning,” set to a reggae backbeat. Carlton Pride and Mighty Zion boast three additional studio releases, to be followed by Happiness Is A Choice, currently in production. Carlton also has the distinction of being the first reggae act to perform at The Grand Ole Opry. His show is an upbeat form of blues, funk and roots reggae that keeps a crowd engaged and has helped him to realize success on his home turf in Austin and also on an international scale. His spirit-filled lyrics leave his audience uplifted, energized, enlightened, and inspired. www.carltonpride.com
FBI Busts Local Club for Drug Trafficking Jovita’s Staff Accused of Selling Heroin
Something is afoot with the owners of an Austin nightlife spot. Earlier this year a string of clubs was shut down in the entertainment district for cocaine rings and money laundering; thankfully these were dance clubs and not live music venues. Most recently, an even bigger shock came when one of Austin’s beloved live music venues, Jovita’s, suddenly closed its doors after the FBI swooped in and allegedly uncovered yet another drug trafficking ring. Opened in 1992, Jovita’s had many attributes that distinguished it from the average music venue, including an open indoor stage with dining tables on either side, and scenic walkway along Bouldin Creek where you could sit on porch swings by the water in between sets. It was funky and unique, just like the city that made it famous. The atmosphere was decidedly low-key, and the music played seven nights a week, nearly 365 days a year - generally in the country, folk, bluegrass, and rockabilly
by Tara Lacey
traditions of old South Austin. All that changed on June 21st when the feds rolled in, raided and seized the property. The Austin Police Department issued an official statement, “During the investigation, investigators were able to determine that large amounts of heroin were kept, sold, and distributed from several locations in and around Central Texas using the city of Austin as the base of their operations.” Jovita’s happened to be Austin’s central location, a hub out of eight locations alleged to have been used for drug trafficking. Police report that, “The organized criminal drug operation was estimated to have daily sales between $3,400 to $6,250. Amado Pardo (chief suspect) is the owner of Jovita’s restaurant.” It is unclear as to what the future holds for this beloved venue. FBI investigations continue and the doors remain locked – the music silenced for the first time in 20 years.
DENVER LOCAL NEWS
DENVER Record Stores TWIST & SHOUT 2508 E. Colfax Ave. Denver, CO (303) 722-1943 twistandshout.com WAX TRAX 638 E. 13th Ave. Denver, CO (303) 831-7246 waxtraxrecords.com INDEPENDENT RECORDS 937 East Colfax Ave. Denver, CO (303) 863-8668 beindependent.com ATOMIC RECORDS 340 S. Broadway Denver, CO (303) 691-3499 atomicrecords.net SECOND SPIN 1485 S. Colorado Blvd. Denver, CO (303) 753-8822 secondspin.com
Perform at Denver’s Underground Music Showcase Discover Mile High City’s Bustling Fest By Zack Sulsky
With a longer list of acts than Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza combined, and a far smaller price tag, the Underground Music Showcase is a summer music festival unlike any other. In the summer of 2001, the first annual UMS hosted four bands in a single venue and drew a crowd of around 300. Twelve years later, the festival has grown to include more artists than there were spectators at that first event, with this year’s festival boasting some 331 local and national acts. From July 19 – 22, the UMS once again transformed Denver’s South Baker neighborhood into an artistic hub, with performances taking place in a broad range of settings, including a pair of temporary outdoor stages, a host of bars
and restaurants, and even the South Broadway Christian Church. The lineup was as diverse as the list of venues, including singer/songwriters, DJs, rappers, and bands that together represented the best Denver’s music scene has to offer. With headliners including Cloud Nothings, Class Actress, Atlas Sound, and local darlings Paper Bird, the UMS staff expected the number of spectators to climb above 13,000 this year. Showcase submissions are typically accepted online through early summer, with the application deadline usually in May. Bands are encouraged to submit through Sonicbids for performance consideration at next year’s event. www.theums.com
Converted Movie Theater Seeks Local/Touring Bands
LP HOUND’S VINYL HOUSE 6235 E. 14th Ave. Denver, CO (303) 593-2540 BLACK & READ 4355 Wadsworth Blvd. Wheat Ridge, CO (303) 423-3100 blackandread.net GROWLER RECORDS 742 Santa Fe Dr. Denver, CO (303) 725-7547 ANGELO’S CDS 16711 East Iliff Ave. Aurora, CO (303) 377-1399 angeloscds.com
Situated on a rapidly gentrifying stretch of the once-infamous Colfax Avenue, the Bluebird is one of Denver’s premier venues, presenting touring
acts as well as a fine crop of local talent. Although
AEG Live Rocky Mountains
it has only hosted music since 1994, the Bluebird
930 West Seventh Ave.
was originally founded in 1913 as one of the city’s
Denver, CO 80204
first movie theaters, and its interior, complete with
TEL - (720) 224-9200
a unique tiered standing-room audience space, serves as a charming reminder of the theater’s century-long history.
For more listings, visit performermag.com
Capacity: 550 • 40-channel Crest Century Console •
Pay is negotiated on a case-by-case basis. Venue
Dowlen & EAW Speakers • EAW Monitors •
provides a full production staff for sound as well as a
professional lighting rig.
AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 9
Indie Acts: Get Booked at SoundLand
NASHVILLE Indie Labels
Preview of Nashville’s Upcoming Fest
by Samantha Ward Photo courtesy of Next Big Nashville SoundLand is an annual music festival in Nashville that began just seven years ago, previously known as Next BIG Nashville. Last September, armed with its new name, SoundLand rocked the crowds of Nashville with the vibrant sounds of pop, rock, electronic, and hip-hop music. This festival also provides “field trips,” or conference-like conversations with topics like “Copyright Recapture of Recordings – Whose Idea was this Record Anyway?” and “This is Your Brain On Music City.” SoundLand prides itself on shattering the misconception that Nashville is exclusively a honky-tonk city. In 2011, the festival booked the indie-pop kings Foster the People, Portland’s crooning singer/songwriter M. Ward, and the electro-dance funk group Ghostland Observatory (pictured), among many others. Performances take place at clubs all over the city, providing a diverse look at Nashville’s venues. The full lineup for this year’s event, taking place in October, has not yet been released, but there are hefty
promises that it will knock last year’s lineup out of the water. While SoundLand promises that local artists will still be featured, the submission process that it previously offered before the 2011 festival was cut. Their website reads, “The event will be purely curated/booked by NBN with the help of our Programming Committee and our organization partners (Record Labels, Performance Rights Organization’s, Booking Agencies etc.).” Since 2011, they have been working to add more national, international, and regional artists to the formerly local- exclusive lineup of previous years. Getting booked means winning favor with the NBN event organizers throughout the year, instead of filling out an application or going through a standardized submission process. This means you’ll have to work doubly hard to get your name out there, and perform as much as possible in and around the Music City throughout the year to get on their radar. www.nbnsoundland.com
Local Rock Club Caters to Out-of-Town Acts The Exit/In, located near Centennial Park and Vanderbilt University, has been delivering some of the best rock shows in Nashville since 1971. Visitors can view the cozy venue’s “Wall of Fame” over the bar, which lists all of the legendary names that the club has hosted over the years, including The Police, R.E.M., Red Hot Chili Peppers, Billy Joel, and countless others. The club books everything, and we do mean EVERYTHING, from comedy to country, punk to funk, jam to jazz, and of course rock and roll. Send a press kit to: 2208 Elliston Place • Nashville, TN 37203
or email them on their “contact” page online. Wait a few weeks before following up, as the club gets a ton of submissions and show pitches. Shows takes place almost every night of the week, but keep in mind that booking still takes place a few months out from the show date. When routing a tour, contact the venue a few
PALAVER RECORDS P.O. Box 160322 Nashville, TN 37216 firstname.lastname@example.org www.palaverrecords.com BEACH STREET RECORDS C/O Matilda P.O. Box 210586 Nashville, TN 37221 www.beachstreetrecords.com CASTLE RECORDS Attn: Dave Sullivan Or Dinara Knight 19 Music Square West Suite U-V-W Nashville, TN 37203 (615) 401-7111 CastleRecords@CastleRecords.com www.castlerecords.com COMPASS RECORDS 916 19th Avenue South Nashville, TN 37212 (615) 320-7672 email@example.com www.compassrecords.com GATEWAY ENTERTAINMENT, INC. Attn: Artist Submissions 9 Music Square South, Suite 92 Nashville, TN 37203 (615) 256-9253 firstname.lastname@example.org www.gatewayentertainment.com HEY Y’ALL RECORDS email@example.com www.heyyallrecords.com PER CAPITA RECORDS firstname.lastname@example.org www.percapitarecords.com COLT RECORDS 837 Briley Parkway #320 Nashville, TN 37217 email@example.com www.coltrecords.com
months before your intended date. You can also call (615) 321-3340 for more info.
STAGE STATS Capacity: 500 • Stage Size: 32’ x 18’ The club features a full PA system, and on-site sound engineer for each show.
PAY POLICY As with most clubs, the pay policy is on a case-by-case basis, and will be discussed at the time of your booking. This may be through a door split, flat fee or other negotiated rate. Merch splits are typically 80/20.
10 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
ME AND THE MACHINE RECORDS 1001 Riverspring Drive Nashville, TN 3722 firstname.lastname@example.org www.meandthemachine.com
For more listings, visit performermag.com
PORTLAND PORTLAND Live Music Venues ALADDIN THEATER 3017 S.E. Milwaukie Ave. ( 503)234-9694 www.aladdin-theater.com
by Glenn Skulls / Photo by Vivian Johnson MusicfestNW, one of the nation’s premier music festivals in, you guessed it, the Pacific Northwest, is set to kick off again this September in Portland. By far PDX’s largest and most successful music festival, MusicfestNW is going to be bigger than ever this fall. Produced by Willamette Week, MFNW teams up with music professionals from the local, regional, and national music scenes to curate this multi-venue festival featuring genres from indie, hip-hop, punk and more musical backgrounds. According to festival organizers, “On deck for 2012, in addition to another year of amazing music, MFNW is pleased to announce the emergence of PDX: Portland Digital eXperience. Our goal: to capture the creative spirit and drive that fuels Portland’s flourishing start-up scene. From mobile
applications to social media and the technologies that support them, Portland has become a place where start-ups are creating new ways of engaging minds, exploring the world, and amazing people with beauty and simplicity. In 2012, we are adding [this component] in order to bring the creative communities of Portland closer together.” In years past, the booking process was a mix of invited artists and indie/DIY acts who submitted EPKs through Sonicbids. This year, the band application process could be found directly on the MFNW website. Look for band applications to open up once again after the dust has settled from this year’s event. Be prepared with hi-quality audio files, your tour history and standard press kits elements such as bios, photos and stage riders. www.musicfestnw.com
Made in China Records
PDX Label Believes in Vinyl Releases for All Made in China is a collective of musicians and artists, coming together to create movement and produce boundary-dissolving music to share with the galaxy. They are committed to the idea that music and art are forever. As they state as part of their mission statement: “No one remembers their first download. Most, however, remember their first record purchase/theft. We provide limited run, high quality vinyl and other mediums for people to gawk at and be liberated by.” madeinchinarecords.com for more info.
“We accept demos at our mailing address via the United States Postal
UNSOLICITED SUBMISSION INFO
Service and all demos will be listened to. Due to the busy nature of this world, not all submissions will receive a response. If you’d like to submit music digitally, please provide us with a download link, as email attach-
ARLENE SCHNITZER CONCERT HALL 1037 S.W. Broadway (503) 248-4335 www.pcpa.com/events
Many Opps to Rock PDX This September A Quick Guide To Musicfest NW
CRYSTAL BALLROOM 1332 W. Burnside St. (503) 225-0047 www.mcmenamins.com/crystalballroom DANTE’S 350 W. Burnside St. (503) 266-6630 www.danteslive.com DOUG FIR LOUNGE 830 E. Burnside St. 503.231.9663 www.dougfirlounge.com THE HEATHMAN HOTEL 1001 S.W. Broadway (503) 241-4100 www.heathmanhotel.com JIMMY MAK’S 221 N.W. 10th Ave. (503) 295-6542 www.jimmymaks.com KELLS IRISH RESTAURANT & PUB 112 S.W. Second Ave. (503) 227-4057 www.kellsirish.com/portland MISSISSIPPI STUDIOS 3939 N. Mississippi Ave. (503) 288-3895 www.mississippistudios.com ROSELAND 8 N.W. Sixth Ave. (503) 221-0288 www.roselandpdx.com
ments will not be opened.”
CURRENT ROSTER White Orange • Black Pussy • The Hague • The Ro Sham Bo’s • Dog Shredder Village • Mongoloid
CONTACT INFO Demos may be sent to:
P.O. Box 10608 Portland, OR 97296 Email email@example.com
WILFS RESTAURANT 800 N.W. Sixth Ave. (503) 223-0070 www.wilfsrestaurant.com
For more listings, visit performermag.com AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 11
SANTA CRUZ, CA TOUR STOP
GEAR MORE MUSIC 512 Front St. Santa Cruz, CA 95060 (831) 458-2438 www.moremusic.com If you need a vintage guitar or just a set of strings, More Music caters to guitarists and bassists. They have an in-house luthier for repairs (a former builder for Santa Cruz Guitar Company) and owner Dave is a colorful character who will just as likely make you a gourmet meal as he will sell you a new guitar. WEST COAST TUBEWORKS 742 Water Street Santa Cruz, CA 95060 (831) 423-8555 www.westcoasttubeworks.com Need an amp repaired? This is the spot. Started by a former Fender employee, but the shop’s new owner still offers high-quality repair service.
Aisea Taimani Performing at Fin’s Santa Cruz is a lively mix of surfers, hippies, artists, and college students. This diversity translates into a healthy audience base for musicians. Whether you play salsa or blues, bluegrass or punk, you will find a receptive crowd here. Santa Cruz has a wealth of venues, both big and small, and makes a convenient tour stop between L.A. and San Francisco. Be forewarned: there is always competition for gigs between other touring acts and the abundance of local bands. by Scott Cooper / Photo by Jonathan Assink
VENUES THE CATALYST 1011 Pacific Ave. Santa Cruz, CA 95060 (831) 423-1338 www.catalystclub.com The granddaddy of Santa Cruz venues, the Catalyst has hosted many a legend over the years. If you have a draw, this is the place to play. Two stages, pool tables, large bar and a choice location downtown. MOE’S ALLEY 1535 Commercial Way Santa Cruz, CA 95063 (831) 479-1854 www.moesalley.com Moe’s began as a blues club and still hosts touring and regional blues act, but has expanded its booking to include other genres. Weekends are reserved for bands who can draw over 300, but weeknights offer better options for bands with lesser draws.
DON QUIXOTE’S 6275 Highway 9 Felton, CA 95018 (831) 603-2294 www.donquixotesmusic.info Books folk, bluegrass, ethnic, jam bands and tribute bands. Music seven nights a week, a large stage with great sound, and a reasonable booking policy. THE CREPE PLACE 1134 Soquel Ave. Santa Cruz, CA 95062 (831) 429-6994 www.thecrepeplace.com Funky old bar and restaurant with a built-in crowd, the Crepe Place hosts bands of various genres. Not a very big room and there is no stage, but they do a great job of supporting musicians.
VISIT OUR FULL MUSICIAN’S DIRECTORY @ PERFORMERMAG.COM/DIRECTORY 12 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
STARVING MUSICIAN 1400 Ocean Street Santa Cruz, CA 95060 (831) 426-1975 www.starvingmusician.com A wide selection of mostly used guitars, amps, drums, and PA gear, this is a good place to trade your gear or find a killer deal on used equipment. DRUMSKULL DRUMS 105 Pioneer St. Santa Cruz, CA 95060 (831) 429-5766 www.drumskulldrums.com A leader in the African drumming community, Drumskull offers djembes and accessories, including reheads and drum-building supplies.
PRESS SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL 1800 Green Hills Road, Suite 210 Scotts Valley, CA 95066 (831) 423.4242 www.santacruzsentinel.com KPIG 1110 Main St. Sweet 16 Watsonville, CA 95076 (831) 722-9000 www.kpig.com GOOD TIMES 1205 Pacific Ave, Ste 301 Santa Cruz, CA 95060 (831) 458-1100 www.gtweekly.com
SPECIAL OPPORTUNIT Y
For more information: www.sennheiserrsa.com
WRITE FOR PERFORMER MAGAZINE contact firstname.lastname@example.org AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 13
MARGARET GLASPY Brooklyn Songstress Fuses Classic Jazz and Modern Indie GENRE Alt-Jazz HOMETOWN Brooklyn, NY ARTISTIC APPROACH Finding beauty where jazz and folk coincide. www.margaretglaspymusic.com
ON HER LYRICS
“I’m pretty familiar with the state of alone. I’ve convinced myself that alone is my superpower.” 14 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
by Vincent Scarpa / photo by Jon Strymish
Listening to Margaret Glaspy’s music, there are some obvious entry points to her inf luences. She’s got a voice made for jazz standards, and it’s no surprise that she often covers “I’d Rather Go Blind” in her set, and nails it at that. Her songs (written more like poems and many of them without a chorus) feel like B-sides to Joni Mitchell’s Ladies of the Canyon days. Glaspy could also easily be compared to someone like Feist, who she lists as both a favorite and inspiration. But what makes Glaspy special, what makes her stand out from the amalgam of indie artists coming out of the Brooklyn scene, is that these and other inf luences don’t serve as tracing paper, or sources from which to imitate. Rather, Glaspy’s interested in intersections, in the overlap between Joan Baez and Etta Fitzgerald and Lauryn Hill, in those inbetween spaces where music exists beyond genre and definition and is, instead, something
elevated. That’s the space she creates her songs in, and that’s exactly what makes them worth listening to and revisiting. Another way to say it: These songs matter. Glaspy is interested in isolation, and so many of her songs are imbued with a sense of longing that never feels trite or petulant, a feat for any songwriter. In a song like “Fools Looking After Me,” with a line like, “I cried/I shook/I waited/Oh, Lord I wanna be simple but I’m complicated,” the listener comes to appreciate what is so unique about Glaspy: her keen, and perhaps peerless, understanding of the human condition. “I’m pretty familiar with the state of alone,” Glaspy says. “I’m just starting to understand that it doesn’t have to be a negative thing. I’ve convinced myself that alone is my superpower.” And so it only makes sense that her music is magic.
by Samantha Ward / photo by Phil M
GENRE Hip-Hop HOMETOWN Baltimore, MD ARTISTIC APPROACH Transitioning out of rougher hip-hip. www.wordsmithmusic.com Wordsmith’s latest release, King Noah, is designed as a musical time capsule for his oneyear old son and fully represents his earlier departure from a rougher form of hip-hop. “I want to make music that my family can listen to,” he explains. “That my kids can listen to and they won’t cringe when they hear it.” In fact, Baltimore rapper, single father, and businessman Wordsmith’s songs are completely devoid of explicit language since a period in 2003 when he stepped back and decided that family was his main priority. The lack of language is hardly noticeable under his smooth, old school hip-hop inspired lyrics and rhythms, which flow together seamlessly. In terms of songwriting, Wordsmith allows the beats to dictate his story. “I kinda just like to go in the booth and figure out the song,” he explains. While his last album, Vintage Experience, dug up lyrics and writing from his past, King Noah is a listener’s first glimpse at a newer, rawer creation. The album offers uplifting messages to listeners without sacrificing the rough, unplanned nature of hip-hop. “I wanted to get back to that ’90s hip-hop where people had messages in their music and they would talk about anything from parents to friends, to what they ate that night, or a new movement.” His songs deal with anger, loss, acceptance, and positivity - each an introspective look at the world around him. One of the most notable qualities of his lyrics and style is the universal nature that surrounds each song. “When I started building music, I didn’t have a one track mind,” Wordsmith says in regard to his travels as a child. Born in Germany to a military family that moved every year or two, his childhood experiences touched a multitude of cultures. His eclectic past influences the individuality of each track on the album. “I wanna make music that’s universal, that the whole world will appreciate.”
Leaving the Past Behind in Favor of Uplifting Lyrics
“I let the beat tell me what the story’s going to be about.”
AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 15
Jam Band Learns to Collaborate Long Distance
GENRE Instrumental Rock Fusion HOMETOWN Oyster Bay, NY ARTISTIC APPROACH Composing dynamic jam/funk through collaboration.
by Alexandria Sardam / photo by Becky Sahm
“It became tough to get new material together when were… across the country. Eventually, we starting using music notation and production software to send our ideas to each other.”
Tauk is a band that’s brilliantly balanced in every musical spectrum. They deliver music that’s both contemporary and classically appealing in every one of their jam-based songs. The guys conjure up familiar jams that easily lure listeners in with an appreciation for funky musical explorations. “We’re all very different people with different tastes and inspirations. Our sound really comes from a blend of everyone listening and working together to create something cohesive,” says bassist Charlie Dolan. What’s even cooler is that this band that’s now playing big festivals like Hangout and Bonnaroo originated as a high school band. Dolan 16 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
talks about Tauk’s experiences after high school and how they maintained their connection, musically and as friends: “It became tough to get new material together when were off at different colleges across the country. Eventually, we starting using music notation and production software to send our ideas to each other so we were more prepared once we finally got back, practicing together,” says Dolan. After going the distance, Tauk has grown tremendously, fusing their creative processes and musical ideas together: this time in the same city. “We are much more dynamic in the process. Sometimes one of us will bring in a composed
song with every part written out for everyone to learn exactly, and then make changes to the song as we go. Other times, someone will just bring in a simple structure or even just a cool sound and we work off that. Then there are always those spontaneous moments while we are messing around, where new songs just happen,” says Dolan. Progressively experimental, hinting on classical inspirations that resemble Umphrey’s McGee, the band gained inspiration from artists as disparate as Frank Zappa and Miles Davis. This band is quite unique and even more promising for a future of delightful musical greatness.
Mixing Influences to Deliver a Powerhouse Live Show By Andrew Lapham Fersch / Photo by Michael D. Spencer
ON HER IDOLS:
“They transcend gender. I try to do that, write songs that men can sing to women, women to men, men to men, women to women, etc.”
GENRE Rock and Roll HOMETOWN Medford, MA ARTISTIC APPROACH Writing honest music full of character. www.andreagillis.com
In a small dive bar on a Friday night in any given borough of Boston, it might all of a sudden feel like Joan Jett has taken the stage when really, it’s none other than Andrea Gillis. Joan Jett’s shoes aren’t the only big ones she’s being pegged to fill. With comparisons to Etta James and Jim Morrison under her belt, she’s got a big hill to climb to live up to the hype. Fortunately, she’s got the personality and talent to do just that. She also learned from these musicians, saying, “Their live performances taught me you need to give the people a show! Be happy and enjoy what you’re doing, try to inspire and be inspired, sound the best you can and roll with the punches.”
It wasn’t just the live shows that she studied, it was songwriting as well. Gillis says, “As far as the songwriting, these are the folks that take a chance, lyrically and melodically. They transcend gender. I try to do that, write songs that men can sing to women, women to men, men to men, women to women, etc.” Gillis, who’s had no formal voice training, believes that her “years of experience of slugging it out in the bars and clubs” is another form of training. She also jokes around that her “instrument gets better and better very time I use it.” Although her voice is what she’s known for, she admits that her knowledge of
mics is limited, saying that she “should learn” but that she “does love (her) Sennheiser e835 for live shows. That’s my baby!” As for guitars, she’s partial to a nice, late-’50s Gibson ES-125, which she refers to as “dreamy”. When it comes to what she respects in musicians, she says she “looks for earnestness, character, and individuality. I also love it when a singer makes you believe that they are feeling a song, even when they really aren’t. Some people may call that going through the motions, I call it Frank Sinatra. At the end of the day the singer is really there for their audience.”
AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 17
Air Traffic Controller On Fan-Funding, Capturing Ideas On-The-Go, and Adding Strings to the Mix by Andrew Lapham Fersch / photos by Mark Battle
The extent to which most folks are familiar with the job of air traffic controllers is from channel surfing late at night and being temporarily tricked into thinking that Pushing Tin was made before John Cusack became just awful. Dave Munro however, the driving force behind Boston’s Air Traffic Controller, lived the life. And, other than being a job that afforded him the opportunity to do a lot of thinking, it served as little more than a jumping-off spot for a band that has attracted a whole lot of attention in a very short time. 18 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Munro, who worked with producer Bleu on his band’s Kickstarter-funded album NORDO, is able to write songs that speak to the everyman because he is that man. Skilled yet lacking pretense, sweet yet not overly emotional, ATC’s music is pleasant and a pleasant surprise because it’s catchy enough to be on just about any radio station, but isn’t embarrassing to listen to. It should come as no surprise that a man who spent many years directing people to safety has an idea of where he wants to go.
You’ve definitely piqued people’s initial interest with the real-life story line of the band’s name. What does the name
actually mean to you?
I became a songwriter while I was working as an air traffic controller in the military. It seemed like the same path for a while, a significant time in my life. To me, it’s just where it all began, but I hope that others might draw other meanings from it. There’s something about ‘air traffic controller’ that seems musical if you try to make sense of it.
Did you grow up a musician or did it stem from the free time you had in your work?
I never brought my guitar to the tower if that’s what you mean by ‘free time in my work,’ ha! I grew up singing in choir and playing in high school bands, but was never serious until I moved away, and started having things to write about.
Who did you listen to?
I was most inspired by The Beatles, Jellyfish, REM, Tom Petty, Springsteen, Simon & Garfunkel, Traveling Wilburys, Guster, Bright Eyes, Mason Jennings, Damien Jurado…
In the past you’ve talked about how your songwriting process sort of isn’t. That a story idea comes to you and you write it down, and that it’s not something you do when you want to. Is this still the case?
It still usually begins with a concept. Things would happen to me and a song would emerge. It’s not that I don’t want to involve a guitar or piano in the process, I just don’t normally have those handy when an idea strikes. Often it’s just me driving or running down the street, singing into my phone.
Are there any songs that are particularly meaningful to you?
ON USING KICKSTARTER TO FUND THEIR ALBUM:
“It was truly a chance for us to realize the faith our fans have in ATC…I would absolutely do it again. The only downside is that it’s like running a business; people place orders and you fill them, and it’s pretty easy, but there is plenty of room for error.”
The song ‘Hurry Hurry’ was very introspective, but also forced me to look at myself on the outside. I hate to sound like a whiny celebrity, cause clearly I’m not, but at this stage of the game, the lifestyle of trying to make ATC happen on a daily basis not only takes its toll on me, but also the folks around me. There’s no way around it, though, making your dreams a reality is a lot of work. I’m sure any artist who breaks through has gone through this. It’s a labor of love, there’s nothing I want more than this band to grow. I think a lot of people can relate to ‘Hurry Hurry,’ more so the people who hate what they’re doing and are missing out on the finer things in life. I feel sorry for them. This could’ve been a sad song, had it not been created with our nutty genius producer, Bleu. I love the catchiness and the hurried feeling of it all. The other song I find very meaningful is the hidden track, ‘Thinking Of You.’ It’s the opposite of ‘Hurry Hurry.’ It’s taking the time to just sit on the couch quietly and think. It grows into something more magical, but it’s supposed to be all in my imagination. It’s hard to explain, after AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 19
listening to NORDO, find the hidden track. It’s worth the minute wait. This song began as an acoustic singer/songwriter [tune] and turns into something much more, kind of like the way Air Traffic Controller happened.
Casey has such a beautiful voice; I wish I could go back and make all of my songs into duets. She’s a songwriter, too; her stuff is amazing! We plan to write together soon, so that will be a nice change for me. She is inspiring to be around.
‘Don’t Tell Me What To Do.’ Bleu wanted to use my acoustic demo tracks and add a string quartet, and a cracking snare drum that sounded like it was coming from an elevator shaft. I said, ‘Cool, let’s do that!’ I think the strings give the listener a sense of maturity and class with ATC, even if we’re really a bunch of dorks. We weren’t able to bring strings into our live shows until our guitarist/multi-instrumentalist/arranger/dork Steve Scott joined the band. He understood where this band was headed, more than I did at that time. He called every string player he knew and before long, all of our shows included strings. I think this helped set us apart.
Where did the string accompaniment idea come from? How do you feel that adds to the sound of ATC?
Pros and cons of your choice to use Kickstarter for NORDO? Would you do it again? Why or why not?
How has adding Casey Sullivan as a singer on a few songs changed the way you write your music?
Making strings a large part of ATC’s music began when our producer first heard my song
All pros for Kickstarter, we wouldn’t have NORDO without it! Aside from it being a
Air Traffic Controller
Nordo Out Now Standout Track: “Hurry Hurry”
successful ‘CD Presale’, it was truly a chance for us to realize the faith our fans have in ATC. The whole experience strengthened our base significantly, it changed everything for me to know that we are loved this much, and our fans were anticipating the next phase. I would absolutely do it again. The only downside is that it’s like running a business; people place orders and you fill them, and it’s pretty easy, but there is plenty of room for error. I’m doing my best; I’ve been living in a workshop, putting packages together for months. If someone doesn’t give me their address or their t-shirt size, I can’t process the order. So it ends up being a bit of a wild goose chases of emailing backers trying to satisfy the orders, but it’s all worth it in the end. I just don’t want to piss anyone off. I still have some CDs to deliver, so email me back, guys!
What sort of guitar do you have? Any dream guitar you’d want to own?
I play a Taylor acoustic (410) and a Gibson Les Paul Special [as my main electric]. They both actually belong to my brother/drummer Richie. I really need to give them back to him, I just haven’t found anything that compares. I love these two guitars! I was in a little shop in Nashville and almost bought a John Lennon Gibson J-160E, the acoustic with the knobs on the front, so cool, but it was really buzzy and had issues. I’d like to own a small body acoustic guitar with a big sound. Martin makes some great ones.
Have you gone on a full-fledged tour yet with ATC? Are you planning on it?
So far, we’ve done mostly quick trips from our Boston base, so we’ve hit Canada and the Midwest, and we cover New York state and the Northeast regularly. We’ve got some West Coast dates planned for late summer and an East Coast tour in the works for early fall that should take us through Nashville and Atlanta.
What’s next in store for you?
The album was just officially released, so it’s time to get it out there in front of everyone, live and on the radio, and with new music videos. We’ve done some in-store performances with Newbury Comics, where we’ve gained a ton of exposure and have become a top selling CD [there], so those little shows have been very worthwhile. I don’t mean to toot our own horn but it seems like the only thing we’ve had to do get people to like [our music] is play it for them. So that is what’s next, an ongoing effort and celebration of NORDO. Please join us! www.airtrafficcontrollermusic.com
20 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
ON ADDING STRINGS TO THE BAND’S SOUND:
“I think the strings give the listener a sense of maturity and class with ATC, even if we’re really a bunch of dorks.”
LISTEN NOW @ PERFORMERMAG.COM
AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 21
Roadhouse Rock With Four Kick Drums by Maureen Wisnewski photos by Jessie Maltz
22 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
In just three years, The 4onthefloor have completed a handful of national tours, sharing the stage with Willie Nelson and Trampled by Turtles, and released three albums with a fourth on the way. Listening to tracks like “Bricklayer,” and their raucous cover of David Bazan’s “Wolves at the Door,” it takes a serious soul not to turn it up, stomp along and start drinking at noon. The 4onthefloor play that kind of music. Singer/guitarist Gabriel Douglas took some time to chat with Performer about the band’s gear of choice, recording process and inspirations, putting any question of The 4onthefloor’s raw talent as musicians effortlessly to rest.
What’s your favorite piece of gear? The obvious answer is a kick drum, but is there anything you can’t live without in the studio?
Tube amps - warm, growling, tube amps. BD2 [Bass Drum 2 – guitarist James Gould] introduced the brilliance and snarl of a tube amp when I was still using a solid-state amp early in college. Nothing can get in the way of some boots stomping, but watching those tubes light up and letting them do some of the communicating is something I cherish every day.
Speaking of recording, your debut LP was packed with tracks in its double vinyl format. Where did you record?
Four sides for the debut LP! It was recorded at Creation Audio in Minneapolis. It’s a great space with a large, live A room. So we can all plug in, stomp away, and play simultaneously. It’s next to a great spot called the Bad Waitress down on Nicollet Avenue, so you can sneak away for a quick bite and drink, and scribble and scratch out lyrics with some great food. Miles Hanson mastered the album. He has been instrumental in getting our sound out to the masses.
Was this your first time in the studio as a band?
Four members, four kick drums, four sides to their debut LP, 4x4. It would be all too easy to write off The 4onthefloor as another indie rock gimmick. That is, until you see them live. Hailing from Minneapolis, the Americana quartet plays with such fervor that, on paper, it’s nearly impossible to capture the swagger of bassist Chris Holm and drummer Mark Larson’s rhythm section, the sticky guitar riffs of James Gould and the grizzly baritone vocals of magnetic front man Gabriel Douglas.
We have all been in previous bands, but when recording 4x4, it was the first time all four of us had been in a studio together. The experience was a blast. It was all done rather quickly, and we had a great time in the studio with Miles.
Onto songwriting. How challenging is it, on a scale of 1 to 10, to write all of your tracks in 4/4 time? What inspired that decision?
With 1 being the easiest, it’s probably a 4. It’s not too difficult, but sometimes you’ll find some rhythms that just don’t deliver themselves with The 4onthefloor feel. The decision to write in 4/4 time was made as the band was coming into fruition. A good deal of the songs that were fleshed out in our early jam sessions were very raw, very organic. I’d stomp out the beat to BD2 [James] AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 23
ON PERFORMING EXCLUSIVELY IN 4/4 TIME:
“What was once seen as a hindrance, now allows us to put our own spin on a lot of songs that traditionally a roots rock/blues band wouldn’t do in their style.” 24 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
while sitting on an amp in a vacant bedroom in the house I was living in. Some days the tempo would be different, but the feel would be the same. I liked having control of how fast the songs were going to take off, so I wanted to have a bass drum start off all these songs. As the jams continued, more decisions were made. ‘There will be four bass drums. The songs will be in 4/4 time with a four on the floor feel. There will be 4 members.’
Have there been songs you wanted to cover as a band that you couldn’t because of the time signature?
We do stick to that formula. What was once seen as a hindrance, now allows us to put our own spin on a lot of songs that traditionally a roots rock/blues band wouldn’t do in their style. Are there songs that we haven’t touched because of the time signature? Yes. ‘Dig A Pony’ by The Beatles and ‘Wolves (Part I & II)’ by Bon Iver come to mind quickly.
Do you consider fellow Midwestern artists, like Bon Iver, big influences? Otherwise, who would you cite as an influence?
They are big influences. BD2 (James Gould), BD3 (Chris Holm - bass), and BD4 (Mark Larson - drums) have made a point to dig deeper into the blues and country influences of the classic rock we love and use that knowledge extensively in their playing. I’ve always been a music enthusiast. If I’m in Minneapolis, you will find me out in a club taking in some music. There’s so much great music being created in our city and region. I was huge on golden oldies growing up. My dad is big early Chicago and Guess Who fan, so they still ring true in a lot of the things I do. I found my own musical muse in post-poppunk bands like Brand New and continually bring the dynamics from that scene into our own shows. You can play loud and bring it down to just bass drums and murmurs and then bring it back
“The kick drums go wherever we go. They are a part of the band. They are an integral part of our live experience. That being said, they are kick drums. They are not people.” -GABRIEL DOUGLAS, BASS DRUM 1 up to levels that make the hair on your neck stand up. I’ve always been a huge fan of singer/songwriters, too. People like Neil Young, Sam Roberts, Tommy James, Harry Nilsson, David Bazan, Kevin Devine, and Brendan Benson. People who can paint landscapes, can burn with passion, can put you in the perspective of having matches in your hands, can motivate you, and ultimately can relate to you.
Moving back to your releases - in addition to your debut album, you released a split 7-inch earlier this spring. What draws you to the vinyl format?
Vinyl. It is always an experience. I don’t think it ever left, just more like-minded music enthusiasts have found less and less use for any physical medium other than vinyl. I love the warmth that only vinyl can give you. I enjoy the visual element that full LP artwork (or even a 7” or 10”) brings to the listener’s environment. It’s an element that was lost for me with tapes and CDs.
Did you guys do anything for Record Store Day this year?
We played the Mid West Music Fest down in Winona, MN this year. We did some busking in Winona and played a show later that day there. On tour, any day is Record Store Day for us. We love going to record stores and scrounging around the used vinyl selections, as well as looking at the new releases.
What would be your biggest suggestions
to a band that wants to put out vinyl, but has never released on the format before? Did you encounter any major challenges with releasing on vinyl?
Do it right. Spend the time to get the artwork right and find the right pressing plant. Promote it! Your vinyl looks lovely. Congratulations. BUT YOUR JOB IS NOT OVER. You are your music’s best ambassador. Go out there and show people. No major challenges, but circumstances always arise with products. There were some delays, but nothing MAJOR, all minor, and accounted for. Artwork delays, plant running behind and shipping delays were all part of our experience. But it was STILL worth it.
Speaking of challenges: four kick drums. Have you ever just looked at your back line and thought, ‘Forget about it?’
The kick drums go wherever we go. They are a part of the band. They are an integral part of our live experience. That being said, they are kick drums. They are not people. This band’s heartbeats belong to James, Chris, Mark, and myself. Without those beats, there would be no band. People make the band; kick drums help those people communicate.
A friend and journalist who caught your show in L.A. said that he thought you guys drank more on stage than what he’d seen Mötley Crüe drink on their tour bus.
We do what we do. We play music. We celebrate life. We have great times. I definitely don’t
take offense to that. But I’d like to see the stats. I’ve heard stories about those guys and I wouldn’t challenge any of them to a table match.
A major part of your live show is how incredibly in sync you all are on four kick drums. How challenging does it get, beer in hand?
People enjoy themselves in many ways. We enjoy throwing a few back. We’ve played hundreds and hundreds of shows, and it’s a joy to be on stage together. It’s become instinctive for us to play guitars, sing, be merry, AND play bass drums together. We had a karaoke party for our Workin’ Man Zombie release, where we brought in our bass drums and folks could sing our songs. It was noticeable that playing bass drum and singing is something that can take awhile to do successfully, especially while getting inebriated.
What’s the best show you’ve ever played?
We played a sold-out [headlining] show at First Avenue this spring that completely left us in awe. Playing on that iconic stage and having the entire building moving with you - there are few things like it. As support, we’ve shared the stage with Drive by Truckers, David Allan Coe, Tommy Stinson, an orchestra, and many others, but the cake would probably have to go to Willie Nelson. We played with him in Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth, MN and that venue is right on Lake Superior. It was a majestic night.
Do you have any releases planned for the remainder of 2012 or coming up in the near future?
We’ve got some plans for a couple more 7” releases before the calendar strikes 2013. And we’re always working on new material; hopefully a full-length release will be in everyone’s hands in the spring of 2013.
4x4 Out Now
LISTEN NOW @ PERFORMERMAG.COM
Standout Track: “Bricklayer”
AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 25
A Southern Rock & Roll Revivalist Movement by Carolyn Vallejo / photos by Phil Sanders
Bred from a state whose dive bars are haunted by decades of movement-starting genres, Atlanta-based The Revels have been born into the ingenious – yet highly stigmatized – world of Southern music, and they’re not exactly psyched. “Atlanta’s kind of rough,” says Revels’ drummer T.J., aka Tylor James. “There’s all these people trying really hard to put Southern twang in their music that it doesn’t need. When people think of the South they immediately think of old Southern rock bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd that we’re not big fans of.” But The Revels can’t escape the influences of their homeland, and they’re admittedly not trying too hard to hide their Southern pride. They formed in 2011 when guitarist Taylor Harlow took a 3 a.m. summer drive and asked friends T.J. and guitarist Nick Magliochetti to start a band. A few months later, keys player Thomas Wainwright and bassist Zach Smith joined. What followed was The Revels, with an intrinsically Southern attitude of play-‘til-your-fingers-bleed rock-androll and the inescapable humidity of stomping blues in their first record, Keep The Dust Down, self-released this spring. It may just be a six-track EP, but it’s a record 26 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
with a hard-slapping pulse, the kind of devilish rock that comes alive as it crawls through the stereo. The Revels’ songwriting process is no less intense. “Our practice is not super structured,” says Harlow. “We’ll write five songs all the way through, and then trash them in rehearsal – that’s when the best songs come out, when you’re not over thinking it. You’re just playing with the band and listening to each other. So we have a lot of fun and go crazy.” “We all ride that same roller coaster together,” says Wainwright about rehearsal, which takes place in T.J.’s backyard “barn-esque” bar. “It’s the perfect environment for us. It’s rock and roll. We can be as loud as we want. The process is definitely a long one, but what will come out of it is that we have something worthwhile.” The songs they found worthwhile were recorded onto the album in five days of studio time, thanks to producer/engineer Tom Tapley (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam). “I don’t
know how you can get better than that,” says Magliochetti of their producer. “About 80 percent of the album was recorded live. We kept guitar solos that turned out to be good because it was in the moment. That’s what we were hoping Tom would be able to help us with – we had no idea how to record like that. We thought we sounded like crap, but it sounds like something pretty decent when we’re together.” Magliochetti’s modesty is overruled by their sold out shows in venues around the region. Even before their record came out, The Revels enjoyed the Southern hospitality in the realm of music fandom. “The main thing right now is focusing on building a fanbase in the South, to plant our flag,” says Wainwright. “The South is super dedicated. If they love something, they love it wholeheartedly. That’s part of why we have fun with great bands from the South.” In building both a Southern fanbase, The Revels have found additional support through a community of musicians, rendering the PR usually taken care of by record labels unnecessary. “[Other] bands have been very charismatic when it comes to spreading the word about our band,” says Wainwright. “They’re pretty dedicated. We’ve worked with some awesome friends who show up and invite their friends. Word of mouth spreads pretty damn fast.”
“That’s when the best songs come out, when you’re not over thinking it. You’re just playing with the band and listening to each other.” One of the greatest artists they’ve befriended, says Harlow, was Foxy Shazam, who played for The Revels’ record release party. “We were so grateful to be able to play with them,” he says. “It was tough because it was on a Wednesday night and it was hard to get a lot of our people out, but we let Foxy bring their people and it turned out to be an awesome show. Those are great dudes. They let us trash their stage.” The Revels’ shows can get a bit unruly. But it’s all a part of the revivalist movement, to violently shake a crowd into remembering why rock and roll made a mark on this world in the first place. “When we first got into the rock and roll music scene as individuals - at a lot of shows - at the
most, fans would bob their heads,” says Harlow. “And that kind of – for a lack of a better term – annoyed us. We wanted to create something that is almost impossible not to move around to and scream and have a really good time.” Georgia has been the first stomping grounds for musicians from Ray Charles, to the B-52s, to Jerry Reed, and now that The Revels are leaving their footprints in one of the country’s most musically innovative regions, they’re not just following the path of the past. “We have a different kind of sound,” says Harlow. “I think people will appreciate that and find a different pace from the typical rock band that you hear in Atlanta.” Whether The Revels want to be associated
with the South or not, the band has the Southern blues in their blood and it’s seeping into their sound. And the tug-and-pull between their roots and contemporary innovation is what has the fans and fellow musicians backing them. “I don’t know what our sound would be like if we weren’t in the South,” says James. “At least with a couple of us there’s probably some Southern pride in there. We’re just trying to make something that’s timeless, but we’re not trying to conform.” And with gear that will make you weep (like Magliochetti’s 1972 Gibson ES-325 or Smith’s 1976 Fender P-Bass), the guys are now on their revivalist movement to re-focus rock and roll in their own way, backed by the fanbase that are already selling out venues. “There are the classic rock-and-roll groups like Queen and Led Zeppelin that we look up to,” says Wainwright. “We want to continue on a path they would have been on if rock didn’t derail. We want to place it back where it’s supposed to be. It’s an old sound, but people love rock and roll. They just don’t know it yet.” www.therevelsmusic.com
Keep The Dust Down Out Now
LISTEN NOW @ PERFORMERMAG.COM
Standout Track: “Makes You Tick” AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 27
by Andrew Lapham Fersch photos by Brett Falcon and David A. Smith
28 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
LEE BAINS III GLORY FIRES
FORGING A CONNECTION BETWEEN PUNK AND SOUTHERN ROCK
AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 29
lthough the South isn’t likely to rise again in any discernible militaristic fashion, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires might
just be the band to help Southern rock find its bearings in a respectable manner. Bains, who cut his teeth in the Dexateens, is now trying to take the anti-establishment attitude he sees in both Southern music and punk rock and channel it through his new project. There aren’t going to be any costume changes, and there’s a good chance the audience will have to suffer through at least one fool shouting “Free Bird,” but if that doesn’t put you off, you’re in for a real Southern treat. You cite punk and Southern rock as influences, both styles that have had their own (and very different) political and personal messages. Do you have a message? Where does it fit in here?
I guess I don’t think that the social messages of late-’70s punk rock and mid-’70s Southern rock were all that different from one another, when viewed in their own contexts. They both aimed
30 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
at being somewhat humble forms of rock and roll, I think, relatively simple and straightforward. I mean, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Black Oak Arkansas were pretty bare bones, unpretentious rock and roll outfits compared to Yes or T. Rex or Pink Floyd or whatever other rock bands might have been internationally famous at the time. They didn’t have laser lights or drum solos or costume changes. There was a certain anti-materialistic slant to a lot
of the Southern rock bands’ songs, I think, just as there was in punk rock. And I think both forms of music appealed to outsiders, in some way. For people of my dad’s generation, the Allman Brothers meant something very different than they mean to a lot of people now. For a lot of white Southerners who were born and came of age during segregation, the Allman Brothers represented a new South, where black and white kids could be friends, and be against the Vietnam War, and shake off the burden of bigotry and closed-mindedness. In 1969, you would get your ass kicked for wearing long hair in Mississippi, and it was for the same reason that, in 1977, you would get your ass kicked for dying it green in New York City. Each form was challenging the status quo in its own distinct, particular place and time.
Lyrically, there are some pretty common themes here. How do you make sure that what you write is unique and original?
Well, I guess folks have been writing about the same things forever. Homer and Shakespeare were talking about God and love and mortality and family and place, and Hank Williams and Louis Armstrong were, too. I guess I just try and stay faithful to my own experience and my own
place - my own personal way of engaging those really universal ideas and concepts.
How did your time in the Dexateens influence you or help you evolve, musically?
Playing with the Dexateens definitely helped me in the sense that it gave me an opportunity to get intimately acquainted with the work of two great, distinctive songwriters in Elliott McPherson and John Smith. Both of those guys wrote killer songs from very different perspectives, and, getting the chance to play them every night, I felt like an apprentice in a way. I mean, I’d been writing my own songs for years at the point of joining the Dexateens, but I wasn’t nearly as developed as either Elliott or John. My favorite thing about those two guys’ songs is that they sound like they could be written by nobody but them. Outside of that, I definitely learned the logistics of being in a band: how to book shows, how to get merch together, how to operate on the road, how to work a record contract. It was really invaluable in that regard, too.
You chose to record this album with someone who has done more work with punk bands than classic Southern rock; what led you to that decision? Why did it seem like the right choice?
Well, Lynn [Bridges, engineer] has made some great, idiosyncratic records that pretty well defy genre [classifications]. He’s worked on everything from the ramped-up Dixie-punk of the Quadrajets to some really amazingly eerie and
minimal Devendra Banhart records. But, to me, there’s a sense of honesty and intimacy to all of his records. They all sound like real people making real music. Lynn is one of the few engineers I know who can reference Don Williams and Lush and The Oblivians in the same breath, and we all really appreciated that.
“There was a certain anti-
The same could be asked about instruments. Do you find yourself picking up certain instruments because of their sound/style/ history and sticking with them?
was in punk rock.”
You know, I just think rock and roll is played best with loud guitars, bass and drums. Maybe keys at times. It keeps things in your face. I play the guitar and bass, and mess around with banjo, mandolin and the piano. I just started playing the banjo within the last year or so, and I really just aspire to playing the part in Jerry Reed’s ‘Eastbound and Down.’
What sort of guitar are you using? Do you have a favorite?
I play a Gibson SG. I’ve had it since I was 16, and it’s been my guitar ever since. It’s pretty much covered with all the gunk - sweat, beer, blood and dirt - that you get from playing night after night. It kind of feels like another appendage at this point. I recently fixed up a backup guitar (an Epiphone SG model), in case I break a string on stage.
What did the recording process look like for you? We went in to cut the record after having
materialistic slant to a lot of the Southern rock bands’ songs, I think, just as there
played these songs on the road for at least a year, so we knew them pretty well at that point. The challenge we made to ourselves, though, was to re-imagine the songs - to, rather than play them out of muscle memory - rethink the songs and have fun with them. Because he’s so enthusiastic and energetic, Lynn really helped with that. We worked really hard on the record – 16 to 20-hour days - getting the right vibe or the right arrangement or the right sounds.
You talked about how long you spent in the studio, how did this positively affect or impact the record?
Man, I think it was good to have a defined and relatively short period of time to cut the record. These days, a lot of bands use their home studios, or friends’ local studios, and wind up spending hundreds of hours making a record. While I think that can result in amazing work, I think it can also result in a recording that’s overwrought and scrubbed clean of what made it special or real. I’m a fairly obsessive and perfectionist person, so keeping a recording session brief is necessary to making a true document, glitches and all.
Best place you’ve ever played a show?
Man, that’s a good question. My favorite shows would probably either be at The Nick in Birmingham, or Egan’s in Tuscaloosa. On a good rowdy night, it’s hard to beat either of those places. As far as places to play, I like the Bottletree in Birmingham a ton. They’ve done a lot of good for the city, and treat bands better than we deserve to be. I also love the Whitewater Tavern in Little Rock, Arkansas. It’s probably a good thing I live several hours away, because otherwise I’d be in there every night.
What does your touring schedule look like?
Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires
There is a Bomb in Gilead Out Now Standout Track: “Everything You Took”
We’ll be playing a lot in the South over the next few months, taking a trip to the Midwest in [the summer], and the East Coast in August/ September. www.thegloryfires.com
LISTEN NOW @ PERFORMERMAG.COM AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 31
TOP PICKS FESTIVAL
Bonnaroo Manchester, TN
reviews and photos by Amanda Macchia and Vanessa Bennett
June 7-10, 2012
Bonnaroo: a 4-day trek into the unknown and the awesome, led by the surreal relationship of chance and choice. As a festivalgoer - a Bonnaroovian better yet - it is
your mission to uncover the hidden arch of Roo’s magic. By nature of its gargantuan qualities, one can discover their favorite tunes or memories simply by getting lost. Performer’s journey was to find some of music’s best-kept secrets. Whether it was the magnitude of their live performance or the presence of a branding platform that could virtually sell itself, multiple bands stood out by integrating these qualities into a package that could prove consumable by massive markets without much sacrifice to the art of being different. Disclaimer: This writer is usually not this keen on female frontwomen. It was not intended that all of the spotlight acts be bands with a woman as a lead vocalist. That just shows you how spot-on and momentous each of these performances had to have been. The mothers of rock are back.
STANDOUT ACTS PHANTOGRAM Bonnaroo 2012’s first dusk had descended. The Other Tent was flooded with brilliant blue lights. Phantogram frontwoman and visual artist Sarah Barthel – a cherry red and pitch-black vamp - stood before her keyboard, satin hair hanging down her face. A slow trip hop beat dropped as a white strobe flared through the sapphire stage. A wandering guitar melody followed as Barthel’s soft, sparse lyrics crooned into sweet moans and ghostly cries that echoed across the tent. Phantogram’s set was ablaze with a haunting spectacle of rainbow luminosity. They sent roaming melodies to sit inside walls of elegantly somber, harrowing synths – urban dream pop lurched through time. RUBBLEBUCKET Rubblebucket had originally been booked for just one slot at Bonnaroo, and it was during 32 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Radiohead. In fact, they were the only band to play during Radiohead. Once other stage managers caught wind of their attendance, they clamored to get Rubblebucket booked on their bills, too. By the start of Bonnaroo, the band was slated to perform four sets at various stages throughout Centaroo. Described as an Afrobeat orchestra just a few years earlier, Rubblebucket has since fled the confines of genre, morphing into an art-rock monster. Dancing orbs of neon and live art jounce through the audience. Onstage, Kalmia Travers’ offbeat emotionalism and carefree movements tie into a band that is as tight and rhythm centered as a well-oiled funk machine. THE JOY FORMIDABLE Layers of struggling, cryptic, punk rock macabre ravel tight as The Joy Formidable’s frontwoman Ritzy Bryan utters lines with striking purpose. Her eyes open wide, big blue sparkles
against Welsh skin and a bleached bob. A banner onstage displaying the band’s moniker was painted with crashing waves, an illusion to the towers of stormy guitars, gritty synths, and hauntingly raw vocals that guide their voyage. A distorted, punkish heft drove The Joy Formidable’s stage show toward rock n’ roll kinetics, balanced only by the ginger-lipped sweetness of Bryan’s voice, which would appear when the vocalist wasn’t blurring about stage, thrashing against her guitar. -Amanda Macchia
Finding that fortitude is well worth it because if you’ve got what it takes to be engulfed by music for more than 72 hours straight, then you’ll see some of the best acts music has to offer. Thursday ushered in Bonnaroo’s start. The Cave Singers and The Lonely Forest played the This Tent and the Other Tent, respectively, and eased the crowds into a world of nonstop music and entertainment. Rubblebucket made their first appearance of the festival with trumpet player Alex Toth jumping to the arms of happy fans and Phantogram took the Other Tent and immediately captivated audience members as Sarah Barthel’s intricate keyboard notes and sweet vocals fueled tracks like “16 Years” and “Mouthful of Diamonds”. The night continued with performances by Black Starr, Alabama Shakes, and an impromptu Mardi Gras parade courtesy of Jansen Skivvy and The Soul Rebels. Friday marked the first full day of events. The Kooks kicked things off with a noon performance on the Which Stage that drew crowds in the hundreds. They played favorites from Konk and Inside In/Inside Out including highlighted tracks from their latest album, Junk of the Heart. Tune-Yards graced the This Tent throwing out tambourines to fans and encourage their participation in her endeavor. Merrill Garber was clad in her signature body paint and provided a surge creative beats, layers of sound, and compressed compositions. The high-energy tone that had started the day calmed for a moment over at the That Tent as British folk songstress Laura Marling hypnotized her audience. She spun beautiful tales of wanderlust, broken hearts, and unrequited love. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings broke onto the What Stage with an undeniable swagger and confidence. Jones and her band were sassy and energetic, as impressive horn and percussions sections bellowed across the field. Jones’s performance served a surprising juxtaposition to that of The Avett Brothers, who took the stage next. Scott Avett’s feverish banjo picking was complemented by his brother Scott’s soulful vocals and more introspective touch. The band seemed to be completely in their element as they covered Doc Watson classics and tracks from their studio albums. As night fell, performers opted to get a little crazier. St. Vincent’s crowd surfing became one of the most talked about moments of the night. Her passion and commitment to her craft manifested into physical action that fit perfectly with her set. Headliners Foster the People prepped fans for Radiohead’s performance with blinding lights and electro infused tracks. Mark Foster ran
Anyone who has journeyed to Bonnaroo before knows that you’ve got to have the lay of the land, stamina and a true commitment to live music to survive the grueling weekend.
Artists Clockwise from top left: Phantogram, Mogwai, Alabama Shakes, The Shins
about the stage, rarely staying one place as he and the band delivered the summer tunes fans were begging for. Dawes delivered a much anticipated performance and Little Dragon drew a largerthan-expected crowd, both offering up something unique to those looking for a smaller venue. Sunday was the culmination of a lengthy journey. It afforded fans another stacked day of performances and crushing decisions about which tent/ stage to head to. The Delta Spirit brought their vigorous sound to the Which Stage, inviting concertgoers to emerge from the tents and into the hot sun. The War On Drugs took over the This Tent with a heavily synthesized and captivating performance while The Joy
Formidable gave a tour-du-force show at the That Tent, driving home many of the tracks off their latest album, The Big Roar. As The Shins echoed from the Which Stage, Young the Giant left listeners reeling. Bonnaroo did not disappoint this year. The star-studded line-up, impressive performances and blend of genres were utterly satisfying, if not a total whirlwind. With another successful year down, one has to wonder, “What does Bonnaroo have in store for us next year?” -Vanessa Bennett
AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 33
P R E S E N T S
Boston @ Church Aug. 5 featuring The Macrotones Out to Lunch and Full Tang Doors @ 8 pm $7 - 21 plus Atlanta @
Drunken Unicorn Aug. 17 featuring Wowser Bowser, Day Joy and Quiet Hours Doors @ 9 pm - $6 - 18 plus S a n F r a n c i s c o @ Great American Music Hall Aug. 23 featuring T h e I g u a n a s Doors @ 7 p m Brought to you by: $16 - ALL AGES
OUR review section is a little bit different. We don’t use a numbered scale or star system, and we don’t feature music we don’t like. Instead, think of this as our top picks of the month. These are the new releases that we’re really enjoying, and that we recommend you check out. We also mix in a few of our favorite live shows, as well as books and videos from time to time.
You can listen to the music featured in this issue at performermag.com. Enjoy.
Air Traffic Controller NORDO Boston, MA (Sugarpop Records)
“A swift dose of string-laden indie-pop” Air Traffic Controller’s NORDO begins with a bang! The album delivers the perfect punch of caffeinated indie-pop, constructed by synths, popping drums beats, the delightfully nasal voice of singer Dave Munro, and occasionally an orchestra. The six-piece Boston-based band is spot on with their sophomore album. The tunes run through Strokes-esque guitar lines and infectious beats that allow the electric fuzz of the music to consume a listener. The first track, “Hurry Hurry,” is destined to become a fan favorite with its punchy message and memorable hook. “Pick Me Up” combines light cadences with haunting lyrics. “Blame” and “Magic” epically emerge out of the lighter pop with the addition of a well-arranged strings and particularly memorable cello lines that swell in and out of the verses. Each song brings something new to the table, whether it’s the unique contemplation of the film Field of Dreams in “If You Build It,” or the addition of a raw, country vibe in “Any Way.” Bass and banjo player Casey Sullivan contributes a second set of lead vocals that add dimension and life to the lyrics. Look out for Air Traffic Controller, because they’re shooting into the spotlight, and hurrying as fast as they can.
Songs From The Laundromat is the first of four EPs that Kevn Kinney and company have promised over a year’s time through Redeye. It has been designated as the rock EP, and rightly so. The 25-year old band replaced Mac Carter with a hot young guitarist, Sadler Vaden, former singer and guitarist for the South Carolina band Leslie, and the entire group’s sound turned up the heat. Three strong rock songs, a super short punk rant, and a beautiful Southern rocker give Songs a certain feel, place, and time that a full-length just couldn’t pull off. Kicking off the set is “Dirty,” a steamy comeon that could truly become a future rocking blues classic. Kinney plays up the slurred vocals the way a blues master would, throwing in growls and howls along the way as Vaden shows his strong soloing skills between verses. “Ain’t Waitin’ on Tomorrow” features ’70s style Southern bluesrock guitar riffs as Kinney’s vocals sizzle and burn up the antithesis of Scarlett O’Hara’s declaration. “REM” is D’n’C’s tribute to the sounds and songs of the Athens band, friends of Kinney. “Clean Up” brings in a bit of a country feel, with Allman Brothers-inspired slide work as Kinney gives his clearest, most melodic vocal performance on the EP. Produced by Kevn Kinney Mastered by Chris Griffin Mixed by John Briglevich Sonica Recording Studios www.drivinncryin.com -Gail Fountain
The Ex-Girlfriends Club
Produced By William James (Bleu) McAuley III
Boo Hoo Hoo
Mixed By Bleu and Ducky Carlisle
Mastered By Jeff Lipton
(Bolt! Bolt! Bolt! Music)
“Portland glam-punk-power-pop from a garage near CBGB”
Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ Songs From The Laundromat Atlanta, GA (Redeye)
“Southern boys pay tribute to their roots with first of four EPs”
the 4-minute mark but could be trimmed down to about two or three. “Take it From Me,” for example, probably works well in a live set in its 5-minute incarnation, but on the album it’s a little draining. Don’t get it twisted though, this band sounds like one hell of a live show (complete with a fur coat wearing, make-up drenched lead singer). Start with the song “Coming Off Benzos,” and back-up vocal enthusiasts need to give a nod to “Your Prescription.” College radio needs to jump on the Ex-GC bandwagon quick. Take note programmers, if you know what MRR stands for you should have already copped this.
OUR PHILOSOPHY ON REVIEWS
Engineered by Greg Lind at Tiger Fight Studios, Portland Mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk at Stereophonic Mastering www.theexgirlfriendsclub.com -Ben Nine-K
Future Twin Future Twin – Deluxe Edition San Francisco, CA (Self-released)
“Art-punks from the Bay give us a collection to love” To clarify, Deluxe Edition is essentially a compilation of Future Twin’s first two releases. It includes both the original Situations EP as well as the two new tracks from the upcoming self-titled 7-inch. If taken as two parts, the EP is definitely the more up tempo of the two releases whereas Situations is a little more spacey and highlights more of the “post” of the post-punk genre that Future Twin occupies. With jangly guitars, organ, and scratchy female leads, Future Twin is semipsychedelic art-rock for San Fran’s hipster elite (in a good way). Situations has enough moodiness for Brian Eno fans, but the EP is catchy enough for fans of Best Coast or The Dum Dum Girls. Thoughtful and sweet lyrics sung with enough raw emotion to warrant repeat listens. Grab this on vinyl and promptly dub it to a cassette. Give said cassette to the pretty girl with glasses in the coffee shop, invite her to see Wes Anderson’s latest flick, and (probably) get laid. [editor’s note – we cannot guarantee that you’ll get laid. But probably, you will.] www.FutureTwin.com
New York Dolls back-ups and tambourines with an Iggy and the Stooges brand of bravado. If you live in Portland and want to know what CBGB’s most likely sounded like on an average evening, this is a good starting place. The Ex-Girlfriends Club sings and swings through nine sweat-soaked rockers. My only complaint here is that I feel like the band is still trying to find its groove. A few of the songs clock in around
WANT TO BE FEATURED AS A TOP PICK? SEND US YOUR MUSIC! EDITORIAL@PERFORMERMAG.COM AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 35
Hannah Miller Doubters & Dreamers Nashville, TN (Self-released)
“Bluesy folk that’s perfect for a rainy night” Hannah Miller’s brand of bluesy folk-pop on her latest EP sounds best on a mellow, rainy evening. Songs like “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word” and “Telephone Wire” create an intimate, melancholy vibe, but the music is so dreamy and familiar that it’s hard to feel too sad. And then suddenly, the clouds shift and the sun makes a brief appearance during “Say You Feel The Same,” a rollicking, perky number that keeps the record from feeling like too much of a downer. Despite some of the dark lyrics, the tone of the record ultimately ends up feeling more peaceful than pessimistic. The dreamy piano and acoustic guitar melodies are lovely and soothing, but it’s the Nashville singer’s soulful voice that is really on display here. Her powerful alto soars above, conveying depths of emotion and heart. While Doubters & Dreamers only consists of six tracks, each has enough of its own personality to make the collection of songs cohesive and purposeful. Miller’s powerful voice mixed with the old-fashioned sound makes for a captivating album from start to finish.
and melodies in unexpected directions, while still remaining danceable. “Black Magic Sugar” begins with a reggae organ and a rubber band bass backed up by a hip-hop beat, develops into a complex array of sounds, dissolves into an oddly catchy melody that seems to be always just off the beat and somehow finds its way back to the original groove. Patino’s voice glides around lyrics of self and societal examination that are at turns poignant, affirming, and threatening. Unconventional in all the right ways, Become Who You Are shows Holiday Mountain ready for the big time and marks them as band to watch. Engineered, Mixed, and Mastered by Geoffrey Nielsen holidaymountainmusic.bandcamp.com -Garrett Frierson
Idjut Boys Cellar Door London, UK (Smalltown Supersound)
“Crisp, chill grooves”
Normally known as DJs rocking the dance floor, Idjut Boys show their craftsmanship and restraint with Cellar Door. Opener “Rabass” is an instrumental track featuring guitar, bass, and some ethereal pads, setting the tone for a relaxed 8-track journey that asks the listener to sit back and let the songs wash over them. The album comes through in gentle waves, awash with emotion and reverb that evoke moments just beyond the reach of memory. Cellar Door features many of the friends the boys have made over the years, with several standout vocal performances by Sally Rodgers and some astonishing keyboard work courtesy of Bugge Wesseltoft. There is always a beat to make you sway, nod, or dance, but it never overwhelms the subtler parts of the music. This is an album for the morning, or a rainy afternoon. After 20 years of DJing parties around the world, Idjut Boys are letting their chiller side shine through.
Produced by Idjut Boys
Produced, Mixed and Engineered by Neilson Hubbard at Mr. Lemons Studio, Nashville Mastered by Alex McCollough at Yes Master, Nashville www.hannahmillermusic.com -Chrisanne Grise
Holiday Mountain Become Who You Are
“Spirit blended styles” Become Who You Are starts with a spacious organ, a giggle, and a question: “Are we ready?” The first words on their first release, the question is appropriate for a young independent band. The gentle sound of the organ quickly transforms as the band comes in with a circus beat, building upwards until they break apart while leader Laura Patino calls out in a sing-song lilt punctuated with wild calls, all within the first two minutes. Holiday Mountain’s sound is a swirling mix of reggae, rock, psychedelia, and all things dance. The band finds ways to stretch grooves 36 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Judgement Day Polar Shift San Francisco, CA (minus HEAD Records)
“String metal san guitars” Some Performer readers may already be familiar with the trio that is Judgement Day (see
their cover story in our August 2010 issue). The NorCal string metal band (brothers Anton and Lewis Patzner, plus Jon Bush) are back on the map with their fourth and latest release Polar Shift. The band continues to grow with their “no guitar” policy, featuring only cello, violin and drums. Needless to say, this 14-song album takes the listener on an exotic journey. Many of the tracks on the record sound fit for the score of a fantasy, sci-fi, or horror movie. The album starts off with the haunting, yet up-tempo “Ghost Hunt.” The second track, “Demon Fire,” features heavy and dark tones and a marchingtoward-you ominous feel. The short but sweet “Common Denominator” is a good lead-in to the next multi-layered track, “The Jump.” Another highlight, found toward the end of the collection, is the uplifting “Darmok.” This band proves that you can make metal with a cello and a violin and the group balances themselves properly throughout the album, providing energetic runs and some pauses to catch your breath. You’ll likely find yourself listening mouth agape after hearing the sounds that come out of the Patzner brothers’ stringed instruments. They call it “string metal.” It’s definitely string, it may or may not be metal, but you can be the judge. Either way it’s entertaining as hell. www.stringmetal.com -Matt Lambert
Killing California No Pentagrams No Crosses San Clemente, CA (Basement Records)
“No pentagrams, no crosses, just balls” Killing California is intense, simple as that. A punk band with metal-guy musicianship, finetuned for the Southern California scene. Fans of the group’s earlier records might notice a progression in sound with No Pentagrams; the mix on this record seems to help emphasize the band’s heavier qualities. Killing California occupies a unique lane of punk music that possesses the ability to appeal to fans of The Casualties while also catching the ear of Slayer fans. What really sets the group off is the great guitar work on this record. Both tone and playing style succeed in making this disc sound like a pure adrenaline rush. Killing California has the definite ability to be a tent pole group for not only their label (Basement Records), but also for the SoCal scene as a whole. Killing California is no frills, no gimmicks, straight up intense rock n’ roll. It’s punk, it’s metal, and it’s unconventionally Southern Californian. Listen to Killing California and smash people’s faces. [editor’s note – please don’t smash people’s faces. Or
at least don’t say we told you to do it. Blame Killing California instead.]
our soul’s journey find purpose.
Engineered and Produced by Chuck Dietrich
Engineered by Vanessa Parr, David Martinez and
Recorded at Basement Studios, La Habra, CA
Mastered by Joe Gastwirt
Produced by Eric Lijerstrand
-Shawn M Haney
The Air Inside Our Lungs
Los Angeles, CA (Self-released)
Brooklyn, NY (Self-released)
“Glorious, calming Americana melodies in the realm of Beck, CSNY” In his new Americana-style LP Night Songs, Mark Bates delivers the goods with a feast of Bruce Hornsby pianos to savor, a pinch of the Eagles lyrical wit, and a twist of Crosby, Stills and Nash-like harmonies. “Ghost Tonight” opens up with a stirring intro of winds and percussion, bringing the listener feelings as if he or she is being transported out West. Singing of brick layered streets and old oak trees, Bates remarks of “holding hands with a ghost tonight.” This song is very eerily reminiscent of the tunes on Beck’s Sea Change. Soothing, mellow sounds of violin, cello and pianos are found in “No One There,” displaying Bates’ artistic wisdom and ability to craft strong instrumental parts with graceful f lair and utter ease. Similar sounds are found in bands such as the Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons. “Simple Love” features brilliant percussion and gorgeous jangly guitars, with a touch of colorful bass. There is a great wealth of textures and melodic colors on this album, such as those found in the ballad “Smile,” a tune of country charm. The faithful “Coming Home,” which sings of the winds and the feeling of finding home “one day at a time,” is an ever-present theme on this record. Its slide guitars and scintillating pianos help us touch the stars with a sentimental longing for one’s family. Each song is a mountain to climb, knowing that if you do so, you’ll find peace of mind, fulfillment and a sense of happiness when finally reaching the winds and cooling rains at the top. As the music plays, you can truly sense Bates’ remarkable gift for writing songs with clarity, works of art that have beautiful, detailed imagery and enchanting, brooding melodies. Night Songs is a strong effort, with a combination of his inf luences shaping the record’s sound, complete with arrangements that are simple, yet captivating. The rhymes and images are delightful and fruitful. Night Songs is a dynamite album to savor and ref lect upon, to help heal and build the heart, to help
“Textured, layered electronics; gorgeous cinematic indie pop” The Air Inside Our Lungs is ethereal, rich with a tapestry of indie sounds and instrumental colors. An album highlight, the riveting “I Want to Know You” explores musical textures of delightful percussion, charming indie guitars, and powerful, brooding pianos. Lead vocalist Laura DiStasi displays her scintillating and sonorous vocals with great flair and grace. She writes most of the material on the album with the help of producer/guitarist David Little. “Down Easy” is a painting of melancholy sadness, yet DiStasi seems to bring these darker songs to life with an immediate longing of new life and the chance of renewal and hope. The opening track, “Somewhere Outside,” is a collective of more jangly, indie rock guitars and a lush, cinematic bass and percussion. It’s here that DiStasi and Measure bring about the album’s reoccurring theme of “being better off outside, better off with one’s head held high.” A theme of hope and grace shines as victory over the powers of darkness and depression. Measure brings their entire arsenal of sound, instrumental color, lyrical wit and wisdom to deliver a superior album. Certainly a band of passion that savors the chance to deliver a message to their audience, you can likely find them performing live in Brooklyn. Mastered by Matt Azevedo, Cambridge, MA Mixed by Ryan West, New York, NY www.measuremusic.com -Shawn M Haney
Mike + Ruthy The NYC EP Woodstock, NY (Humble Abode Music)
their newest release, The NYC EP, featuring a combination of thoughtful lyrics and beautiful harmonies that capture the essence of American music. In the two years since Performer last featured Mike + Ruthy, the duo has continued to evolve and refine their sound into this summer’s must-hear acoustic album. The EP starts off with a nostalgic arrangement of the Woody Guthrie song “My New York City.” From there they kick up the tempo with “On My Way Home,” with its driving banjo backdrop and lyrics full of lost faith and homesickness. Mike + Ruthy draw the listener in with the sultry number “Romance in the Dark,” complete with an accompanying harmonica and lyrics like “I get such a thrill when he presses his fingertips upon my lips and he begs me to please, please be still.” Other noteworthy tracks include “Oh Mama,” with powerful vocals from Ruthy and the smart addition of saxophone to round out the bluesy sound, as well as “Raise Your Glasses High” featuring seamless harmonies and beautiful fiddle work to close out the record. Reminiscent of lemonade and front porches, Mike + Ruthy’s The NYC EP is an excellent addition to any summer soundtrack. Recorded and Mixed by Robin MacMillan and Jacob Silver
“When clever lyrics, beautiful harmonies, and two hearts combine”
Mastered by Doug Krebs, Seattle, WA Design by Bison Bookbinding + Letterpress, Bellingham, WA www.mikeandruthy.com
Folk duo Mike + Ruthy are back again with
AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 37
Review and photo by Noelle Janka
The ultimate string rock dinner party.
Davis Square Theatre - Somerville, MA June 22, 2012
Niki & The Dove Instinct Stockholm, Sweden (Sub Pop)
On June 22, the five gentlemen of the string rock outfit Darlingside celebrated the release of their third 7-inch, The Edge of the Earth, at the recently renovated Davis Square Theatre. Flanked by Boston folk songstress Sarah Blacker and alt-country Mainers the Mallett Brothers, Darlingside stole the show with their flawless set and endearing stage presence. Though the band members are just a few years out of college, they carry a refreshingly professional air, with a very warm, confident stage banter and well thought out set list. They rocked out really hard, took a break to thank everyone profusely, played a hand-clapping crowd-pleaser, followed that with a moodier string-based number, shared a good story, and then rocked out again, and again. The songs melded violin, mandolin, electric cello, electric bass, drums, electric and acoustic guitar, and even a little tambourine. Lead singer Dave Senft’s voice echoes that of Adam Gardner, vocalist for Guster, but Senft’s has a sadder, heavier edge to it. Frequently backed by a rich
four-part vocal harmony (everyone in the band sings), Senft’s voice lends Darlingside a signature sound, which sits comfortably in a gray area that is neither upbeat nor exclusively melancholy. This quality made a mid-set cover of the Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979” particularly delightful. Everyone at the show received a copy of the latest 7-inch, the third in a three part series of vinyl EPs that feature select tracks off the band’s upcoming full-length album Pilot Machines. Each EP release has been marked by a live show and vinyl giveaway and, since January, fans have been invited to “subscribe” to the upcoming album and bonus tracks online. Different subscription levels offer varying combinations of vinyl, digital downloads, and swag designed by the band. They managed every aspect of the album release themselves, from the innovative marketing strategy, to producing the album, to designing the jacket covers and booking the release shows.
“The Fox” is much darker, featuring gritty programming and droning, distorted cello but with their signature chorus of stirring, layered vocals and powerhouse percussion. Instinct is definitely a tribute to Sweden’s already impressive history of extremely catchy, yet thoughtful and affecting pop music.
and there are moments of reverb-drenched harmonic “ooing” that could easily have been found on a Fleet Foxes record. But Poor Moon is more than just Fleet Foxes with shuffled personnel. Poor Moon does exactly what a side project ought to do – building upon the sonic foundation of the bands that contribute to its lineage, while departing from it in a purposeful and meaningful way. For better or for worse, Poor Moon is a quirkier and more experimental project than Fleet Foxes. Although the record clocks in at a tidy 30 minutes, Wargo’s ambition as a songwriter and especially as an arranger comes through marvelously – in addition to the obligatory acoustic guitar and vocal harmony, a whole range of instrumental colors are used to great effect, including everything from the cricket sounds and whistling on the opening track, “Clouds Below,” to the baroquestyle harpsichord solo on “Phantom Light,” to the vibraphone that adorns several tracks, including the album’s probable single, “Holiday.” Wargo’s songs are warm and melodic throughout, and his lyrics weave skillfully between the personal and the abstract, making Poor Moon a strong debut from a group that, with any luck, will soon become more than just a sideshow.
Produced and Mixed by Elof Loelv
“Scandinavian electronic pop-noire”
www.nikiandthedove.com -Elisabeth Wilson
In the Swedish tradition of perfect pop music, Niki & The Dove have produced a chart-worthy album of tenderhearted electronica anthems. Instinct is the full-length debut of Stockholm’s Malin Dahlström and Gustaf Karlöf. With a solidly pop approach to making soulful, dynamic music, it’s hard to believe this is only the first full-length effort from the duo. T h e 14-song LP is almost entirely synth-driven, with programmed beats and a smattering of heavilylayered live drums. The lyrics are one of the band’s strongpoints. The heartfelt “Tomorrow” and “Last Night” are reminiscent of Kate Bush’s hopeful sweetness, while Dahlström’s vocal style bears a strong resemblance to both the witchy melancholy and sentimental sting of Stevie Nicks. The third track, “In Your Eyes,” could easily be imagined as 2012’s EDM answer to “Gold Dust Woman.” Their standout track and first single, “DJ, Ease My Mind,” captures the energy and euphoria of electronic dance music, while 38 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Poor Moon Poor Moon Seattle, WA (Sub Pop)
“Woodsy bearded baroque-folk” Although this is the first full-length album under the Poor Moon moniker, the musicians who make up the group are anything but strangers to the indie-folk scene. Frontman Christian Wargo has played alongside Casey Wescott in several other successful groups, including Crystal Skulls, Pedro the Lion, and most notably Fleet Foxes, whose sophomore album was released to wide acclaim last year. Fans of Fleet Foxes will find Poor Moon’s pastoral folk-pop sound familiar,
Produced by Poor Moon Mixed by Jared Hankins Mastered by Bernie Grundman www.subpop.com/artists/poor_moon -Zack Sulsky
The Cheebacabra - Pass The Information Seattle, WA / (Mackrosoft, LLC)
VINYL OF THE MONTH
“Analog funk for your inner pimp” The Cheebacabra’s latest dose of funk comes courtesy of a double-LP, laced with so many breaks, grooves, porno wahs and in-the-pocket drums that hip-hop beatmakers can essentially replace their entire sample library with this one album. Cheeba wastes no time kicking things into gear with “The Denunciation,” fully funked out with a poppin’ bass, hi-hat struts, quirky synths and a badass jazz flute. One of the things that makes or breaks a funk album’s power is the ability for the music to immediately set the mood, and once the first flute loop ends and the synths and slinky guitar lines melt into the mix, you’re instantly transported to a world of afros, low-riding Cadillacs and velvet hats. The rest of the record, all four sides of
vinyl, continues in much the same manner, which is not a criticism. You know all those obscure breaks on old Beastie Boy records? These are better. And there are 17 tracks of ’em. The three-part “Delivery” is where the wahwah and flute lines interweave with congas, bongos and timbales in a sort of lost adult film soundtrack, as if it were scored by Santana’s Woodstock-era lineup. Vinyl Pressing by Rainbo Records Mastered for vinyl by Rick Fisher at RFI Mastering Produced by Cheeba Limited to 500 copies Cover Painting by Branka Brmbota cheebacabra.bandcamp.com -Benjamin Ricci -photo by Bryan Boswell
AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 39
Cage the Elephant
A confident, emotional set by the normally shy Fiona Apple.
The Governors Ball Music Festival Randall’s Island, NYC / June 23-24, 2012 Review and photos by Amanda Macchia The two-day music festival on New York City’s Randall’s Island started with a big, loud, bass-thump. The organizers split the lineup; a carousel of neon and up-tempo dance-offs divided Saturday from Sunday. Penguin Prison’s prancing, albeit cornball, pop antics shadowed the remix of an ’80s workout video. Frontman Chris Glover plays Michael Jackson vs. Justin Timberlake, the result of which got New Yorkers moving in time for Big Gigantic. The party really started when Major Lazer took the stage behind a towering boombox. Dancers bumped and “daggered” all over the stage, the pit, and with the crowd. Over a dozen ladies were ushered on stage during “Pon De Floor”, including a girl wearing only a cape. Hype
40 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
man Walshy Fire led the crowd into a tornado of energy, bidding them to throw their hands in the air, take their shirts off, and twist them high. A storm of neon cotton and male tank tops swirled above the crowd. Fun fact - Santigold is a stunner of a front woman. Her bright, dramatic set later in the day featured curiously vacant backup dancers and all of the hits off her second album, Master of My Make-Believe, despite her vocals needing to be kicked up in the mix. Before Chromeo, and the superfluous Duck Sauce set that then followed (despite the giant duck and entire crowd of yellow billed fans getting down), Atmosphere hopped on the Honda Stage and kept people moving. He told the crowd they
made him feel young, so he was going to do the oldest song he knew, dropping 1997’s “Scapegoat.“ He killed every last track with force and clarity, from “The Woman With The Tattooed Hands” to “God Loves Ugly” and everything in between. “You might not tell by looking at me,” he said later on, “But I’m old school. I like to squeeze butts. But before I do, I have to check if you’re clean.” He bid the crowd with an odd humor “Open up and say ‘Ahh!’” Everything about Sunday was more laid back. The Freelance Whales’ distant indie-rock harmonized alongside Doris Cellar as she shifted between harmonium and bass. Glockenspiel tones intermingled with synthesizers for the layered, danceable pop that summons something of a mix between Sufjan Stevens’ Come On Feel the Illinoise and Modest Mouse’s tone of deliverance. Cage the Elephant’s angsty punk rock set was one of the most emotional of the day. As their last show of the year before heading to the studio, the band was facing some difficulties. “I’ve got to tell you something,” lead singer Matthew Schutz told the crowd. “Last night I lost my voice.” Against their manager’s wishes, they decided to play anyway. Flailing about like a frustrated teenager, Shulz jumped into the audience several times, crowd surfing and running through the pit as hordes of screaming girls begged for a touch. There is no doubt, though, that the feral, honest performance that was Fiona Apple’s became the instant highlight of the weekend. When Apple took the stage the singer was warm and vigorously attentive - emotively bent over her piano or dancing and swaying with her head back, smiling in the spotlight with confidence. This can be rare for the singer (confidence and smile-wise). With an outstanding band at her back, she wasted no time at all opening up with “Fast As You Can” followed by “On the Bound” and “Paper Bag.”
TOP PICKS Explosions in the Sky performing at The Governors Ball
AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 41
Sean Rowe The Salesman and the Shark New York, NY (ANTI-)
“An introspective, timeless showcase of a deep-voiced singer/songwriter’s gift” It is difficult to characterize the hefty-voiced singer/songwriter that is Sean Rowe, but his story does largely parallel that of American author and transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau. Just as Thoreau’s masterpiece, Walden, resulted from living solitarily in the woods, Rowe continues to craft his own after a similar experience. His latest effort, The Salesman and the Shark, opens with “Bring Back the Night,” a powerful waltz with tinges of country amid lyrics projected through exquisite vocals that, over the progression of the track, build in both power and in scale. A song about redemption and maturity, the singer/songwriter is accompanied by an angelic feminine voice and an intricate arrangement of instruments. Such elements result in a deeply moving single. Later, the album switches gears with the percussive “Joe’s Cult,” dripping with tribal influences and Tom Waits flavor, in which Rowe growls: “There’s a few of us that feel we’ve been led to an empty house. There are some of us who know the roof is leaking.” Further indicative of Rowe’s versatility is “Signs,” a melancholic lament for those who have passed on. Destined to become a timeless classic, The Salesman and the Shark brilliantly showcases the talents of a gifted individual.
futuristic vocoders. But where once the band seemed rambunctious, disjointed and frenetic, their latest release sees them heading in a more measured and composed direction. The surprisingly uplifting and melodic “Now That I’ve Given Up Hope, I Feel Much Better” sets the tone for the rest of the record. “How Do I Maintain, Part 3” comes close to techno territory, with its bubbling beats and smooth production. “This Isn’t Helping” is a pleasantly laid-back track that seems to loaf along, followed by the danceable, disco-flavored grooviness of “Wayward Satellite,” one of the album’s standout tracks. The funky, conga-driven “Spanish Moss” combines with the catchy, low-key “Total Loss” to make up the album’s title. “Never The Same Way Twice,” with its gritty saxophone melodies, builds up nicely to a total electronic breakdown threefourths of the way into the track, proving to be one of the more energetic numbers on the album. The hard-hitting beats of “Lessons In Disappearing” carry this raunchy aesthetic into the latter part of the album, while “Knowing” provides a cathartic, albeit slightly unsettling, end to the record. While at times the highly processed, artificial vocoder can be overwhelming, when Shout Out Out Out Out strips away the antics and focuses on what they do best (the beats), they can’t go wrong. If Spanish Moss and Total Loss is any indicator, the band is heading in the right direction. Produced and Mixed by Nik Kozub at The Audio Mastered by Joao Carvalho www.shoutoutoutoutout.com -Margaret Price
Soul Asylum Delayed Reaction
Produced by Woody Jackson
-Julia R. DeStefano
Spanish Moss and Total Loss Edmonton, AB (Normals Welcome Records)
“Dark, melodic ‘vocoder pop’ from the Great White North” Edmonton, AB-based dance punk/electro poppers Shout Out Out Out Out have returned to the ring with their third full-length album, Spanish Moss and Total Loss. Stylistically, the album doesn’t deviate too far from the rest of their catalogue, their electro-pop jams composed of analogue synthesizers, heady bass lines, steady drum machine rhythms and 42 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Produced by Soul Asylum and John Fields Mixed by Paul David Hager and John Fields Mastered by Howie Weinberg Recorded at Flowers www.soulasylum.com -Gail Fountain
Sun Kil Moon Among the Leaves San Francisco, CA (Caldo Verde Records)
“Boldly stark, yet surprisingly upbeat sad bastard musings”
Recorded live at Vox Recording Studios
Shout Out Out Out Out
shines through at times, with music and vocals showing tenderness on the slow, jazzy, anti-love songs “Cruel Intentions” and “I Should’ve Stayed in Bed,” which features dissonant strings framing sleepy-sounding vocals. Pirner’s flexible vocal abilities also reach the alt-country side on “Into the Light” and “By the Way.” Additionally, Pirner’s usual witty lyricisms about life range from playful, poetic and powerful to cynical, searing and seething, sometimes in the same song, as in “Take Manhattan.” Overall, more songs feature keyboards than the Minneapolis band’s last release, The Silver Lining, but guitars remain the dominant force.
Releasing albums since ’89, San Francisco transplant Mark Kozelek has one of the most influential careers in independent music. He’s produced most of this own albums, acted in movies and continues to write and tour. Among the Leaves is considered a Red House Painters tour diary, filled with recalled moments and past laurels. Stripped of outer flourish, Among the Leaves is mostly bare (with exceptions), nakedly drawn by a classical guitar and Kozelek’s rich and characteristically bold tone.
“Wittiness, familiarity and change keep runaway train Dave Pirner on track” Soul Asylum’s original members Dave Pirner and Dan Murphy have retained Tommy Stinson as their “Replacement” bassist and Michael Bland is definitely their punchiest, best drummer ever. The supergroup has now played together long enough to develop camaraderie and create a new, tight sound that adds Stinson on harmonies along with Murphy, allowing them to finally deliver another album of Soul Asylum’s usual mixed bag of genres (rock, alt-country, pop, jazz,etc…). Delayed Reaction tries to duplicate the band’s famous live energy through several fast, catchy rock and pop tunes such as “Gravity,” “The Streets” and the cheeky, anti-war “Let’s All Kill Each Other.” Inversely, Pirner’s softer side
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Engineered, Recorded and Mixed by Gabriel Shepard and Aaron Prellwitz at Hyde Street Studios Mastered by Gabriel Shepard at About Records Produced by Mark Kozelek www.sunkilmoon.com -Christopher Petro
The Tallest Man on Earth There’s No Leaving Now Dalama, Sweden (Dead Oceans Records)
Seven hundred and thirty days - that’s how long the folk world waited since Kristian Matsson gave his listeners The Wild Hunt; and we obsessed and shared its songs like it was our extraordinary opportunity to witness Bob Dylan before he went electric. The Scandinavian singer has provided, much in the same vein as his previous release, a compilation of varied tempos and cadences, bluesy instrumental forms, gallivanting finger-picking and the nectar of Matsson’s romancing lyrics. “Leading Me Now” strides like his previous single, “King of Spain.” Refined to words and acoustic noodling, Matsson swoons “You give me the look of thorns, we get liars every night / But I get you somehow / Be the reins inside / ‘Cause you’re leading me now.” Matsson is a wordsmith, fearless with literate playfulness, injecting sweet romance and paired with humor and vivid achiness. His signature tone backlit by timid instrumentation: occasional electric or lap steel guitar (“Bright Lanterns”) or murmuring piano (“There’s No Leaving Now”). There’s No Leaving Now is wall-to-wall singles, each a broad stroke with charismatic, poetic, rambling songwriting, which serves to center the album as a pinnacle for anyone targeted in the Wild Hunt sights.
Kozelek is known for his dark, nocturne songwriting, but here he points to himself playfully at ease with personal history. A cheerful highlight, “Song for Richard Collopy” is laughable. The song, an undoubtedly a true tale, regards leaving on tour while his guitar is held hostage by a perfectionist repairman loner. It’s one of those strongest and catchiest songs Kozelek has written in recent years, more buoyant and less serious. Arguably, Among the Leaves most memorable moments tend to be upbeat and fun (“UK Blues”) a new distinction for the slowcore God. All told, Among the Leaves breaks new instrumental bedrock with refreshingly unique songwriting that turns out to be blissfully languid for the epitome of singer/ songwriters.
The Spy From Cairo Arabadub New York, NY Genre: Arabian Dubstep
Zach Broocke Enjoy The Ride Nashville, TN Genre: Folk/Americana
“An American South journey with the literate, finger-picking Scandinavian Sherpa”
B-Pos Pos Tapes: The Album San Francisco, CA Genre: Hip-Hop
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163 Massachusetts Ave. (across from Berklee, next door to Daddy’s Music)
AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 43
Engage Fans With and Other Social Tools Engaging with fans is crucial for an artist at any level. Today, maintaining an active connection with fans involves a strong online presence, especially on social media. As you are likely already aware, Facebook has recently made changes that have resulted in content from pages only appearing in a small percentage of fans’ newsfeeds (of course, there is the option to pay to increase that distribution, but for the average independent artist, this is not realistic). While this makes it harder to remain in front of fans, there are other social websites that artists can use to create meaningful connections with their fans. Here is a look at two social media tools that you can use to connect with your fans online.
PINTEREST Unlike Facebook, Pinterest is not all about self-promotion. Instead, Pinterest is a way for artists to share information about themselves with their fans. Pinterest calls itself a “virtual pinboard,” and it really is that simple. Users can create different “boards” and pin images to them, creating a visual collage of images. Artists can share images of things that might be interesting to their fans, and that reveal more about themselves (for example: artists who inspire you, instruments you drool over, examples of awesome tour posters or album artwork, etc.). Fans can then “re-pin” things they like, which is viewable by their followers. This viral aspect enables an artist’s reach to extend far beyond just the users who follow their pins. For bands, Pinterest can also be a way for each member to show their individual personality. Bands can create a band Pinterest profile, which could link to the group’s other websites, contain a bio with searchable keywords, and contain a profile image. Then, each band member can set up a personal profile with their own information. The individual band members can then be made contributors to the band’s boards, giving each the opportunity to share and contribute to the overall band profile. Band members can share their favorite albums, instruments, “rock and roll moments,” or anything else that reveals more 44 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
about who they are as individuals and how they contribute to the band. In addition to sharing general information about your likes as an artist, you can use Pinterest to share some promotional material, such as press clippings about your music, behind-the-scenes photos, pics of your fans from shows, etc. Just make sure you are sharing more than just promotional information on Pinterest to keep fans interested and keep the content fresh and unique from your other social profiles. Remember that you can link your pins back to the source, so you can link back to content from your website, blog, etc., which is helpful for your search engine rankings as well. TWITTER Sure, Twitter is an excellent tool for musicians to interact with fans. And the fact that it can be used seamlessly with most of today’s mobile phones makes it easy to update, even when on the road. While most artists know how to use Twitter, the fine line tends to be finding a way to use it productively, instead of over-sharing minute details of life. Twitter should be part of your overall social media strategy as an artist – supporting your “brand” or image - but also giving insight into your personality and making you accessible to your fans.
One way to use Twitter as a promotional tool is to follow artists who have a similar fan base, as well as the tastemakers in your genre. Retweet, quote, use their hashtags, and reply to their tweets to be seen by their fans, and to make the connection between yourself and them (and potentially pick up some new followers). You can also network with other artists, even those outside your geographic area, to establish new relationships. By following and tweeting at other artists, you are opening an informal dialogue that could lead to new career opportunities. While using Twitter for networking is great, the real value can be found in tapping into the power of your fans. Unlike Facebook, Twitter has a real-time feed that doesn’t select which followers see a post (and doesn’t require a payper-update fee to ensure all of your followers are seeing your updates). This gives you greater power to reach those who follow your fans, and hopefully pick up new followers yourself. Some ways to encourage fans to interact on Twitter are to have contests (for example: design a poster for our next show, come up with a title for our new song, retweet this message and be entered to win a t-shirt, etc.), offer a “Tweet for a Track” program where fans who tweet a message their followers can download a track for free, or offer real-time Q&A sessions where fans can tweet questions at you and you tweet your answers (filmmaker Kevin Smith is great at this). One more important thing to remember about Twitter is that you should have fun with it. Show your personality, and let your fans see that you are real and accessible. Share photos (aka “twitpics”) of moments in your life, such as tour shenanigans, funny/beautiful/memorable moments, band members off-stage, photos from the recording studio, or anything that gives your fans a glimpse into what is happening in your world. You’ll find that fans are much more likely to support an artist with whom they feel a human connection. -Pamela Ricci is an artist manager and consumer marketing manager in the Boston area.
This issue was most crucial for artists whose recording contracts were negotiated and executed in the pre-download era. Where royalty percentages for physical album sales were straightforward, new technological developments and digital downloads were not so clear. Not surprisingly, a host of lawsuits resulted after major record labels refused to renegotiate royalty rates for digital downloads. F.B.T. Productions, LLC v. Aftermath Records 621 F.3d 958 (2010) (a.k.a. the “Eminem Case”) was a highly publicized case in which the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a digital download should be treated as a “license” (not a “sale”) and the artist should receive 50% royalty. Several other artists followed suite, including Kenny Rogers, Martha Davis Chuck D, and Peter Frampton, alleging that their record companies failed to properly account for and pay for income received from the licensees of its recorded music catalog as they pertained to digital downloads and ringtones. Is Digital Downloading a “License” or “Sale”? The issue boils down to contract interpretation. In the “Eminem Case,” the issue was which provision controlled digital downloads: the “Records Sold” or “Masters Licensed” provision. To determine this, the court had to determine whether the label’s agreement with iTunes (and like services) was a “license” or a “sale” of the sound recordings. A license is defined more by “use,” where a sale is transfer of “ownership.” The court in the Eminem Case made the difference very clear, stating: “It is easily gleaned from [copyright law] that a license is an authorization by the copyright owner to enable another party to engage in behavior that would otherwise be the exclusive right of the copyright owner, but without transferring title in those rights…” In plain language, the court determined that the record label’s agreement with iTunes
WHEN RECORD LABELS STARTED SELLING THEIR CATALOGUES AS DIGITAL downloads through online services (iTunes, Rhapsody, etc), a critical issue emerged regarding artist compensation: What percentage should be paid by labels to artists for songs and albums downloaded through digital content providers? Labels took the position that the percentage for downloads should be the same as the rate for physical album sales. Under this theory, labels would reap a huge windfall, as downloads do not require pressing, packaging, and distribution, saving labels considerable overhead.
YOUR DIGITAL DOWNLOAD ROYALTIES was a “license” to use Eminem’s master recordings for specific purposes – i.e., to create and distribute permanent downloads – in exchange for payments based on the volume of downloads. The deal to distribute the masters was a license only and did not transfer title in Eminem’s copyrights. This being the case, the court decided that the “Mastered License” provision applied to digital download revenues and the 50% royalty rate would apply.
for Your Recording Contract If you are signing a new recording contract, distribution arrangement, or renegotiating a current contract, here are some tips to consider regarding digital downloads:
1) Initial Discussions: There are many things to initially go over, particularly if you’re dealing with a small and/or indie label that will be more willing to get into particulars. One thing worth discussing is the arrangements the company has with digital content providers. This key information may help you determine what rate to negotiate. You may also find it helpful to see whether the contract language with digital content providers refers to their service as a “license.” 2) Define “Digital Download” in Your Contract: You’ll want to have the term “digital download” defined in your recording agreement. A common definition is “delivery of artist’s sound recording by digital transmission resulting in a reproduction made by or for the recipient, which may be retained and played by the recipient on a permanent basis.” The contract provision relating to digital downloads should also include reference to digital content providers. 3)
Determine Percentages: You’ll want to make sure that digital downloads are treated as a license and have a different royalty rate
than physical record sales. You’ll also want similar definitions and categorizations for ringtones, temporary downloads, and other such digital transfers of your music. A common royalty rate for physical album sales (major label) is 12%, where license rates are 50%. Make sure this is spelled out in easy to understand language.
4) Limit “Packaging” Costs: Check to see if there is any language regarding packaging in your digital download provision. You’ll want to make sure there is no language relative to production/packaging costs or container costs, as there are no such costs related to digital downloads. Note: this is not a stretch - labels are known for such bizarre and/or obscure tactics (for example, most record companies still do not pay royalties on 100% physical sales, paying instead 90% - a carryover from the days when records were made of shellac and 10% breakage was allowed). 5) Get an Accounting of Digital Sales: Diligence is required to ensure you’re paid for all downloads. There have been instances where record companies have not paid royalties for all digital downloads sold. Record companies often account on a semi-annual basis. You’ll want to have an outside accounting company periodically inventory your label’s figures. This provision should likewise be clearly spelled out in your contract.
Adam Barnosky is a Boston-based attorney and writer. For music industry news, entertainment law updates, or to suggest an upcoming Legal Pad topic, find him on Twitter @adambarnosky. Disclaimer: The information contained in this column is general legal information only. Consult your attorney for all specific considerations. AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 45
A Songwriter’s Tip Sheet by Rebecca Jordan
DOCUMENTING YOUR IDEAS Inspiration is a mysterious lover. It can be fleeting, so be ready to catch it. I keep a notebook or voice recorder near me at all times. If I am sleeping, on the train, in a meeting, doesn’t matter, I will stop what I’m doing to put down an idea. Show your idea that much respect: if it came to you, put it down. Don’t ignore it, don’t discard it, don’t take it for granted and say, “Oh I’ll remember later,” because no, you won’t. Ideas are gold. They are your gems. You wouldn’t throw away a diamond, so don’t toss off an idea.
Finding Inspiration, Documenting Your Ideas and Being Flexible
Writing is often a journey a person has to take on their own. That said, to share what you learn along the way could be a good thing. So if I had to offer some insights, I’d start with these:
FINDING INSPIRATION They’re all around you. Open your eyes. Make yourself available. How many times do you go through the day focused on your “to-do” list or whatever internal dialogue loop is playing over and over in your head, all the while not noticing the person coming towards you, not noticing the sky? How many things do you miss or ignore? Songwriting is about noticing. See someone crying on the train? That’s a story, that’s a song. Be interested in other people; be interested in the world around you. If you feel closed, here’s an easy fix: Open up.
MY BACKGROUND I’ve been a professional songwriter for over 10 years. When I was growing up, I didn’t even know there was such a thing. I just knew that music lit a fire in me. I’ve now had publishing deals, been signed to a major label, and put out music on my own. My experiences have shown me both the inherent and potential value in songwriting, not just financially but also as an honest gift to the world. I write with and for all kinds of singers, producers, and writers. Some have sold millions of records and some have never written a song before in their life. Each time and every song is different, but one thing is constant: my intent. I approach songwriting as a craft. To me, it is an art much like painting, sculpture, or film. Stanislavski said it is the goal of an actor to illuminate the human condition. I think that’s the goal and responsibility of any artist, a songwriter too. So even if I’m in a session writing a lighthearted four-on-the-floor dance song, underneath the beat my aim is true.
GETTING STARTED People ask me all the time, “How do you become a songwriter?” Often they are more interested in the business aspects of that answer, which is not the part that should come first. The truest answer to becoming a songwriter is the obvious: write songs. You can read books about it, you can attend music conferences and industry events, you can ask other writers, but the real way to learn is to just do it. Ultimately, we learn by doing. Songwriting is a distinctly subjective experience. Everyone has their process and their own little quirks. I have to use a Bic 4-Color Ballpoint pen. For some reason, I cannot (will not?) write without one. Sometimes I have to write when in absent-minded motion: on a walk, in the shower, or on the subway. Sometimes I take the train for no other reason than to write. I’m not actually going anywhere, I’m just trying to get to the chorus. Last week I wound up in Times Square.
BE FLEXIBLE AND HAVE PATIENCE Allow your ideas to change. I have always been fascinated by the story of Creation, so I was excited when I got the idea to write a song about Eve. I came up with a chord progression on acoustic guitar, but couldn’t hone in on how to approach the lyric. I even brought the idea to a trusted co-writer who was excited to help. At the time, I thought I wanted to talk about how Eve got such a bad rap; I wanted to suggest that Eve didn’t bite the apple first, that Adam did and she took the fall for him. Fun stuff, I know. I just couldn’t find words or a melody that felt right. I tried and tried. I finally let it go. Months passed. A producer friend sent a piece of music he’d written with me in mind. As soon as I heard the first notes, I instinctively knew it was “Eve.” I let go of my original ideas and let myself dream to the music. I found out the song was about me just as much as Eve, that it was about daring to bite the apple in the first place, the audacity of a dream and the consequences. After all my effort, all my starts and stops, suddenly, finally, the words came out like a rush, the song was almost writing itself, but only because I’d given it space and let it change. So catch your idea, but don’t hold on too tightly. Your idea may have some ideas of its own. Rebecca Jordan is the 2010 recipient of the Abe Olman Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame, a 2010 NPR Mountain Stage NewSong Finalist and a 2011 Independent Music Award Nominee for her self-released Souvenir EP.
AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 47
RADIO PROMOTION (terrestrial, satellite, internet)
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MY FAVORITE SYNTH with Erin Barra photo by Pete Mitchell
WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE:
Erin Barra is a young, emotive singer/ songwriter and performer whose talent belies maturity far beyond her years. Alicia Keys meets Daft Punk, she brilliantly blurs pop, soul, funk, electronica and rock.
“Transformers purring the entire overtone series.”
“This instrument literally changed the way I think about sound. Deductive synthesis is a beautiful thing.”
MAKE AND MODEL: Moog Little Phatty Analog Synthesizer
YEAR: Originally released in 2006
WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU: “Warmth and depth...it’s the foundation for my live performance and studio work. Also a nickname for my butt.”
SPECIAL FEATURES: “It was last instrument to be designed and conceived by Bob Moog himself. The Little Phatty is extremely user friendly, allowing me to work quickly, on-the-fly in the studio or on the stage. In a lot of ways it’s like standing on the shoulders of giants.”
CAN BE HEARD ON: “Everyone from Parliament to Passion Pit to Phish have been using Moog Synthesizers for decades. Check out my track ‘Magician’ for a screaming Moog solo.”
VISIT WWW.ERINBARRA.COM MODIFICATIONS: “I have an arsenal of personally synthesized bass and lead sounds stored and ready to fire... it’s got that Boom Boom Pow.”
Got a favorite instrument you’d like to share? Email us at email@example.com. AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 49
Giving a Grand Piano Some Teeth IN THE STUDIO WITH TED HU
Interview by Benjamin Ricci
Path to War RECORDING STUDIOS:
Zippah Recording (Brighton, MA), Blue Jay Recording Studio (Carlisle, MA) RECORD LABEL: Self-released RELEASE DATE: 5/29/12 PRODUCTION CREDITS:
Head Engineer: Brian Charles Assistant Engineer: Annie Hoffman Album Design: Angelica Stockdale 50 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
What was your pre-production like on this project?
As a pianist, the most important thing was to find the right piano. Unlike other musicians, we don’t usually have the luxury of taking our own instrument with us to the studio. For this record, I really wanted something kinetic with a huge sound. The songs really called for a bit more grit from the piano and a really big, booming bass. My fantastic team at Zippah Recording went on a search, and that search eventually led us to Blue Jay Recording Studio where they had a beautiful grand, just waiting to be played.
How did you originally find Zippah?
I telephoned Brian Charles at Zippah about three years ago when I wanted to record a six-song EP. At the time, I was searching for studios that had a real piano. We set up a tour, which was extremely important, so that I could get acquainted with his studio and I started explaining to him what I had wanted to accomplish. I played a couple of my songs for him and the dialogue just started to flow. It was so great talking to someone who had a similar vision for the music. A studio’s best assets are the people who work there and Zippah’s team is top notch. From there, the six-song EP turned into my first full length album, Wolves, Foxes, and Cranes. This time around, there was absolutely no question. Zippah was where I wanted to be.
How did you handle final mixing and mastering?
I trust Brian and Annie [Hoffman, engineer] with my life. I sat in on all of the mixing sessions but could only offer ‘Can we make the strings louder?’ or something to that effect. Really, I just watched as they took the reins and worked their magic. The mixing process always proves to me that your team has to really understand you, simply because they have to make the songs sound the way that you want them to. Even before I would say something, Brian and Annie would be leveling or adding effects to different sections or suggesting ideas that would fit exactly what I wanted. This shows to me that there is a connection to the music and from a musician’s perspective, that means the world.
“Because I’m a solo artist... the studio really lets me paint with other colors.”
How does it compare to your last release in terms of style and the creative process?
What kind of sound were you looking for and how did you achieve it?
This is always a hard question for me. I want my music to push the envelope; to both be easy to listen to and to be intricate enough to really capture someone. I wanted a record that was a little bit digital, a little bit rock, some splashes of orchestral, and a whole lot of energy. Also, the piano needed to be big. It really had to take your breath away. Thanks to my incredible team, I absolutely achieved this goal. Without them, this record would not be the same.
What are your thoughts on live tracking and overdubs?
For me, I am a live take kind of guy: piano and vocals in one. My cover of ‘This Woman’s Work’ was done in one take with no overdubs and only a tiny amount of leveling. Path to War, however, was a very different beast. Because of the programming I did for the record, and the fact that I still had a full band lined up to play, we really had to take it all apart. It would’ve been too intricate to have done full band takes. Unfortunately, you do lose the live performance flair of it all, but you also get to perfect the music down to the most minute detail. You have to use your resources; the studio is there for the surgical precision and I really like to use that in the best way possible.
What did you try to accomplish in the studio that you’re not able to do live?
Because I’m a solo artist, I really wanted the sound of a full band with effects. Almost always, it’s just me and the piano, and at times the songs really call out for other voices, other instruments. In the studio, I was able to add vocal harmonies and lush strings to the songs. They became little scenes from movies that came alive. ‘American Perfume’ is a song that really thrives off of the grandeur of the drums and the strings and ‘Anchored’ is completely programmed except for the piano and vocals. The studio really lets me paint with other colors.
What were the toughest challenges you faced?
Programming, definitely. I’ve always been a fan of digital music but never thought that I could do it myself. As a classical musician, I was trained to perform, but with programming, now you’re arranging. I was scared that it wasn’t going to work or that my ability as a programmer would leave the listener baffled as to why there was any programming at all. Brian assured me, ‘You never have to worry about that. We can always make it work.’ Like I said, my team is incredible.
It took me a while to come to terms with this, but my last album was a bit esoteric. I had really wanted to make an intelligent record with odd melodies, key changes, and bizarre time signatures. Mathematically, this is a great way to make a record. However, you lose a bit of the beauty that is simply making music. Don’t get me wrong, I stand by my last record completely. I just knew that there was still some growth to be had. This album is completely different. It was written from a much more emotional perspective. The songs really wrote themselves and I had at least half of them written by the time Wolves, Foxes, and Cranes was finished. I kept writing and liking everything that was coming out, but I wanted to stay impartial and not become an artist who thinks every song is gold. So I let them marinate for a year, but they kept coming back. Then I knew it was time to give Zippah a call again. Wolves, Foxes, and Cranes was a collection of songs and stories that I picked from my repertoire. Basically it was a chronicling of six years of my life and there are certain songs that were left out. Path to War was also a collection of stories, but these stories set out to tell you something as a collective. This album was built to house them. No extras. This was brand new to me.
What are your release plans?
I really want to do a grassroots movement. With social media today, you can really create a buzz unlike before. Indie magazines, such as Performer, and local radio stations are the routes I want to take. Also, as the film major I was, I really want to get these songs into movies and shows. They’re so theatrical. It would be great for my music to really make someone’s cinematic moment.
HAVE A UNIQUE STUDIO STORY TO SHARE? EMAIL EDITORIAL@PERFORMERMAG.COM AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 51
Tips For Tracking Acoustic Pianos and Electronic Keyboards Part 1 of 2
ACOUSTIC PIANOS VS. ELECTRONIC KEYBOARDS Yeah, they both have black and white keys, but the similarities end there. Acoustic pianos are mechanical machines that produce sound when felt-tipped hammers hit strings held by a massive cast iron frame stretched across a wooden soundboard. Electronic keyboards are filled with analog circuits that synthesize sound waves, or digital circuits that mimic analog circuits or digital circuits that play back sampled sound waves … whatever. So how do you record them?
ACOUSTIC PIANO: SOLO VS. ENSEMBLE For the longest time, pianists played only one type of music – classical. It wasn’t until a little over a hundred years ago that ragtime, jazz and then rock came along and adopted the piano for their own purposes. Okay, so why the history lesson? Because when we record the piano, we need to know how it’s going to be used in the song. Is it a classical or jazz piece that features solo piano? Or is it going to be blended in with other instruments? The answer to this question will start us down one of two different paths.
glorious? Fancy mics and magical mic location right? Sorry to let you down. We thought the same thing back in the day – “There must be one ultimate mic and sweet spot that makes every piano sound fantastic.” Sorry, there isn’t. When you see a piano mic’d on stage during a concert, those mics are generally placed as close as possible to the piano’s sound board so as to capture more of the piano and less of the drums. It’s mic placement out of necessity. You don’t generally stick your head into a piano while it’s being played, because a it’s designed to be heard from a distance in a nice space. So whenever possible, if you are recording a solo piano performance, position your mics at least a few feet away and forbid anyone in the audience from coughing. And to find those “sweet” spots for your mics, try this: have the pianist start playing and slowly walk around the room with a finger in your ear. Why? Because that’s how microphones hear (unless you’re setting up a stereo mic, in which case just walk around with your hands in your pockets). Don’t forget to walk hunched over and on your tippy toes too, because that elusive sweet spot may be residing at an unexpected elevation. How will you know when you find the sweet spot? For us it’s just a gut feeling – if it sounds good, go with it. If you want to get all anal about it, you can tape Xs on the floor and record test takes from multiple locations and A/B them – we used to do that, now we just trust our instincts. At this distance, you will need a lot of mic gain, so you’ll want condenser mics with low self noise. If you’re on a budget we like the Blue Spark (mid-sized diaphragm) and the AKG C-1000S (small diaphragm). Both retail for $200, and you’ll also need a mixer/interface with quiet pre-amps.
WHITE KEY NOISE We have a 1925 Ivers & Pond 6’ Grand Piano here at Night Train Studios. Some pianists fall madly in love with it, while others get up and walk away with a look of disgust. Guitarists out there know what we mean – every instrument is unique. Our Ivers & Pond has a wonderful jazzy bounce with bluesy warmth. But, it’s really noisy with squeaky pedals and clunky dampers – which is why classically trained pianists generally hate it. Record it solo and you’re going to capture all of its creaks, which detract from a performance. Yet as part of an ensemble, those undesirable sounds get masked and you can focus on the piano’s warm character.
MIKING TECHNIQUES FOR SOLO PIANO “Yeah, yeah” we hear you saying, “But what mics should I use and where should I put them?” That’s the secret isn’t it, to make any piano sound 52 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
PIANOS IN SPACE Pianos sound great in stereo but you have to be careful. To record in stereo you obviously need two mics, but if you set them up incorrectly, you might run into comb filtering (some frequencies cancel out because they reach the mics at slightly different times). To save yourself some headaches, you can use a stereo pair of mics (two mics that are the same make and model) and set them up in a time tested stereo pattern. We recommend the X-Y pattern (fig 1) which yields a slightly narrower stereo field or the ORTF pattern (fig 2) which mimics the human head. Another option is to use a stereo mic, a microphone with a stereo capsule like the Rode NT4 (retail $550) which can make setup easier. Finally, you may want to consider a portable digital recorder, which can fit in the palm of your hand. The Tascam DR-2d ($150 retail) is a good choice if you’re on a tight budget, and the Zoom H4n ($300 retail) can accept an additional two external mics, allowing recording on four channels simultaneously, In Part Two, we will discuss tuning, mixing, MIDI and volume limitations. Zac Cataldo is a musician and owner/producer at Night Train Studios, a recording studio in Westford, MA. He is also co-owner of Black Cloud Productions, a music publishing company. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Brent Godin is a bassist/guitarist and engineer/ producer at Night Train Studios and talent scout at Black Cloud Productions. Reach him at email@example.com.
by Sarah Wilfong / photo by Ben Grimes
MICS AND MIC PLACEMENT Now that you have some ideas for the configuration of your players, let’s talk microphones and placement. Every engineer and player will have their favorite mic and placement combination, and if you already know what you like, go with it. I’ve recorded string parts on everything from an SM57 to an Earthworks QTC40 with decent to excellent results. In general, you can’t go wrong with a good condenser mic on stringed instruments. I tend to prefer a Neumann or Earthworks pencil condenser on my particular violin, but I have also had great results using a ribbon mic. Use your ingenuity.
Recording a Successful String Section
As for placement, I shoot for aiming the mic at the F hole somewhere between 12” and 24” from the instrument, directly in front of the player. Some engineers like to place the mic from behind, having it come over my left shoulder, but I personally don’t like that approach. I find my bow accidentally hits the mic or mic stand a lot more. Don’t be afraid of some space for natural room sounds to develop - the tone of a stringed instrument matures as it goes out into the room; placing a mic too close will get you a lot of bow noise, and a rather shrill tone.
ARRANGING FOR STRINGS
YOU’VE DONE IT. You recorded your masterpiece with love and care, and listened back to it eagerly only to realize that something is missing. Something... stringy. Strings! Ah-ha! This is a fine realization to have, but what does it mean for you, practically speaking? Because unless you have a symphony orchestra in your back pocket, you will need to employ some audio sleight-of-hand to achieve a full string section sound.
IDENTIFY THE DESIRED EFFECT First, you need to identify the type of string sound you are after. If the strings on “Eleanor Rigby” set your heart thumping, you might want to consider a string quartet (two violins, one viola, one cello, no doubling). The easiest way to get a full quartet sound is to rehearse your quartet, and record them all together in the same room. Miking each instrument individually will give definition, and bleed-over between mics will add to the fullness. You can get great results layering individual players one at a time as well, just be aware that the players’ inability to breathe together and make eye contact while playing will mean you will have more work during the editing process with things like matching up the tail ends of notes.
STACK STRINGS FOR A LARGER SOUND Looking for a bigger sound? Start stacking
your quartet. Doubling once gives the feel of a nice mid-sized string section, which is usually the right size for most situations. Feel free to stack more than that, but be aware that you may encounter weird phasing issues with stacks in multiples of three. If you have the players available, you can experiment with cramming more bodies in the room as well; keep in mind that the typical ratio of violins to violas and/or cellos is 2:1. So you might have four first violins, four second violins, two violas, and two cellos. In this case, individual miking is kind of redundanthave fun with some great room mics. Lacking enough players to make up a full quartet complement? Not to worry. I (and many of my string playing colleagues) have perfected the art of the one-woman string section. You’d be amazed how full a two-violin arrangement can sound when it is stacked eight or ten times!
Now that you have your players and your technical aspects figured out, let’s talk about the arrangement itself. A lot of people (including string players) fall into the trap of thinking that a string section only plays whole notes. This is an understandable mistake, since the goal of a string section is to support the vocalist, not overpower him or her. However, there are many other types of effects you can create with strings that are supportive, but go beyond the whole note. Trills and tremolos will add shimmer, while pizzicato (plucking the string instead of bowing) can be playful. Don’t forget that you can use accents and staccato marks to great effect as well, in contrast to using slurs (two or more notes in the same bow) for smoothness. Your players will thank you for your creativity! So there you have it, recording strings in a nutshell. The bottom line is, no matter what your set-up or budget, great string parts are easily accessible. So go forth and record stringy goodness! -Sarah Wilfong is an accomplished violinist, touring musician and educator (editor’s note not to mention one hell of an Irish fiddler) based out of Nashville. She can currently be seen on the road performing with Mustang Sally, and is in the process of scoring a short film project and recording her second solo album. www.sarahwilfong.com for more info. AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 53
BOSS GT-100 Amp Effects Processor - $550
Plenty of tones, easy editing, plenty of connectivity options.
Some of the presets are a bit stale.
Boss has always been on the cutting edge of multi-fx units and their GT-100 is proof that they’re staying there. Physically, it’s the size of most multi-fx boards, which isn’t a surprise, but the twin LCD displays are large and in charge. It’s a blend of digital and analog, with simple knobs to adjust parameters. The expression pedal can control effect parameters, act as a volume control or as a wah pedal. There are plenty of configuration options using standard 1/4-inch connectors, and a USB connection. Headphone outs as well as an aux in makes it great for bedroom practicing, as well. Editing sounds isn’t that difficult, and getting
good tones by just fiddling with the knobs is fairly intuitive. The manual’s “quick start” section provides a simple way of unlocking all of its sonic goodness, with minimal reading (thankfully). From 12-string and acoustic simulations, right up to super-scooped metal, there are plenty of tones to be had. The synth-like effects sound great, and set it apart from other multi-fx units on the market. It’s not hard to get in-between, natural, semi-distorted sounds either. Some of the presets can cover some of the same sounds, so scrolling through them can seem repetitive. The ACCEL pedal function can activate a few real “effects” such as feedbacker,
and the S-Bend, which can coax some pedal steel like sounds, as well act as a switch to turn on and off effects. There is a manual mode that makes the foot switches act like on/off switches for individual effects in that patch, like a virtual pedal board. Integrating it to an amp is easy as well, sporting a 1/4-inch connection for an amp’s channel switch. A looper, one of Boss’s most popular effects, allowing the recording and playback of riffs, is also included. Overall, it’s a great unit, and quite flexible. Editing is always an issue with multi-fx units, but this one is A LOT more user friendly, and features more than the standard distortion/chorus/wah found in most multi-fx processors. -Chris Devine
FEATURES -Advanced COSM amps that model vintage amp tones -Dual-LCD for simple and intuitive operation -Improved EZ Tone feature with graphical TONE GRID for constructing new patches -Newly developed ACCEL pedal for simultaneous control of multiple parameters
BOSS TU-10 Clip-On Chromatic Tuner - $35 form. It’s also very sturdy, the spring has plenty of tension and the clamp has rubberized surfaces to keep from marring a guitar’s finish. It’s simple to use; just clamp it on a headstock, turn it on, and that’s it. The display is clear and bright, even in direct sunlight. It’s perfect for tuning acoustics that don’t have a pickup installed, and it works great with electrics, as well. Simply put, it’s an item that every player should have in a gig bag or case. While it may not replace your pedal board tuner, it does the job off-stage and is small enough to fit in your pocket. -Chris Devine
PROS Simple, easy and compact.
54 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Boss Tuners are probably the most common tuners found on pedal boards. There are a lot of clipon tuners out there, but Boss has put their stamp of quality (in terms of functionality and design) on an item that doesn’t really get a lot of respect. It’s nice and small, and available in a variety of colors. Ours came in a nice shade of blue. Three buttons control everything. On/off, and button that allows the adjustment of the reference pitch (from 436 to 445 Hz), as well as an Accu-Pitch function that allows tuning in standard, or in streaming
FEATURES -Large LCD display -Accu-Pitch function, flat tuning up to 5 semitones, and Stream mode -Tuning Range: C0 (16.35 Hz) to C8 (4,186 Hz) -Tuning Accuracy: +/- 1 cent
to play along to. Combined with the lo-fi type amp sound and the simple rhythms, it has a cool vibe going for it as a fun practice tool. It won’t replace a half stack, or a modern drum machine, but for practicing it’s a neat little unit, and with very analog controls, it keeps the player from getting caught up in programming, and lets them get down to actual playing. -Chris Devine
VOX AC1RV Mini Amp - $59
-# Rhythm Patterns: 66
Small size, simple integrated drum machine.
Clean sound is still a bit distorted.
Vox amps have always been small, powerful tone machines; their new mini amp has that lineage, and more. With two 3” speakers, it looks like a shrunken down AC30. The controls are very straightforward, with a clean and overdrive selector, gain, tone and volume. There’s something here, though, that will surprise you: a drum machine. It’s equally simple, a “genre” selection, tempo and level. There are 66 variations of rhythms to choose from. An AUX IN allows connection to an MP3 player, and a 1/8-inch HEADPHONE OUT allows silent
use for practicing. It’s quite portable too, running on 6 AA batteries or a 9v adapter. Sound wise, the amp section is kind of onesided; the clean sound can be distorted, even at low gain settings, and when in overdrive mode it gets very distorted, along the lines of a classic fuzz. It does have some practical applications, as it can fit in very well with a “lo-fi” type of recording situation. The drum machine is simple, no tap tempos, very analog, and no programming of any kind. With the 66 variations, there are plenty of rhythm colors
-Amp Section Controls: Gain, Tone, Volume, Overdrive switch -Connections: INPUT; AUX IN; HEADPHONE OUT -Output Power: Maximum approx. 1W, RMS into 8 Ohms -Speakers: VOX Original 3-inch, 4 Ohms x 2 -Dimensions (WxDxH): 6.8 x 2.6 x 5.0 inches -Weight: 17.9oz
TC ELECTRONIC Spark Booster Pedal - $129
PROS True bypass. Adds punch, compression and boost without noise.
TC Electronic is best known for making high-end signal processors, but one of their most popular items for guitarists was their Booster + Line Driver distortion. Their Spark Booster pedal revisits their past in a new way. It’s the same overall design as their TonePrint pedals, about the size of an MXR Phase 90. One large screw at the bottom allows quick access to the 9v battery, and a standard 9v plug is located on the back. Controls are simple, GAIN, LEVEL, BASS & TREBLE. A 3-way mini toggle is located in the center and features three settings: FAT, CLEAN & MID. The BASS & TREBLE knobs are active, with a center detent. This gives the ability to boost or cut their respective frequencies with a simple turn. Connecting it to a tube amp really brings out the feeling of “more.” It’s shallower than an
overdrive, but really highlights the best in the guitar and the amp. With 26db of boost, it has plenty of sound, and the gain can add plenty of grit. It has ample crunch for rhythm playing, but for leads, some players may be looking for some extra saturation. It’s best used when placed before a distortion or overdrive pedal; in this configuration the noise level was non-existent! There are a lot of boutique companies making boosters, but this is one that deserves to be checked out. TC says it best of their Spark Booster: “Add body, punch and warmth to pickups, drive amps to peak performance and enhance the sonic possibilities of existing sounds.” -Chris Devine
FEATURES -26 dB of boost -Level knob to drive amps even harder -Active EQ for extended low and high end -True bypass for optimal signal integrity
AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 55
Solid State Logic SL505 “Used to Mix Films Like Titanic and Return of the Jedi”
HISTORY The SL505 module comes from the 5000 Series console. Only 120 of these broadcast boards were made, due to the fact that they were so expensive to build and maintain. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS These boards were used to mix films such as Titanic, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. CUSTOM MODS I modified my 505s so that they became mic/line inputs by replacing the I.C. input with a Cinemag transformer. I then reworked the +/- trim so that I could instead get 70db of gain. I also made various custom cases for these units, ranging from lunchbox style to what you see pictured. FAVORITE FEATURES What I especially like about the 5000 Series cartridges is that any knob can be turned in any direction and as far as you want and the unit holds together. The SL505, when pushed hard, has a very natural sounding compression. It acts very much like an Opto Compressor, in my 56 AUGUST 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
opinion. I’ve used a pair of these SL505s matched with the SL542 EQ as part of a “poor man’s” mastering chain, with some amazing results. It’s one of the few pieces of gear that I can just run a mix through and it comes out sounding better even if I don’t touch a single button. Female vocals and acoustic guitars sound amazing when recorded through this unit. MAINTENANCE ISSUES The 5000 Series Console was built almost entirely of plug-in cartridges with Pre’s, EQ and compressors that could literally be “hot swapped” without shutting the unit down. Unfortunately, it took as many as 72 rack spaces worth of power supplies, a separate air conditioned room for the power supplies and a team of technicians to keep this “toaster oven” running for any length of time. MODERN EQUIVALENT This board was so complex and expensive to produce that it nearly destroyed SSL as a company. That said, no one ever tried to replicate it. The closest modern unit is the SSL Xlogic Mic Pre.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Robert Wainscott is the Co-Owner and Designer of Black Box Analog, a Ventura, CA based design firm dedicated to hand crafted, American-made audio equipment. Wainscott’s recent brainchild, the Black Box Analog Microphone Preamp has been used on albums by artists like Aerosmith, Fool’s Gold and 50 Cent. Prior to establishing Black Box Analog, Wainscott was the facility manager of Full Clip Productions. FOR MORE INFORMATION visit www.blackboxanalog.com
PRERECORDED TRACKS BY FAMOUS ARTISTS & UPLOAD YOUR MIX TO
BY AN AWARD-WINNING ENGINEER/PRODUCER!
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Known for his diverse vocal abilities, the songs Bo Bice is writing these days have put him in a new spot musically. With this fresh perspective - Bo has recorded three new songs for the Recording Sound Academy all captured using Sennheiser and Neumann microphones. Enroll in the program and get ready to mix these tracks into a final product. Check them out at the Recording Sound Academy website: www.sennheiserusa.com/RSA
PARTICIPATING AWARD-WINNING ENGINEERS:
(see website for complete bios)
Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen
Cathy Fink, Rush
Eric Clapton, Bee Gees
Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra
Pearl Jam, U2
Lil Wayne, Queen Latifah
Steely Dan, Ray Charles
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