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Conﬁrmed Panelists include: Antonina Armato Aloe Blacc Mike Brinkley Michael Brook Darrell Brown Don Cannon Congresswoman Judy Chu Judy Collins Mike Daly
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TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S
VOL.23, ISSUE 4
Sandrider by Benjamin Ricci
Sandrider leads a new crop of sludgy Seattle bands cross-breeding loud rock, metal and post-punk. Join us as we discuss imposing limitations in the studio, capturing high-volume on tape, and what it means to be in a creative frenzy.
Colleen Green by Alexandria Sardam
Hardly Artâ€™s lo-fi queen mixes punk spirit with programmed drum machines. We caught up with Green to chat about her recording process and expressing honesty through lyrics.
Victor Wooten by Alec Wooden
The bass icon opens up about his dual role as teacher and music student, why he released two albums simultaneously, and the challenges of being an entrepreneur.
The Milk Carton Kids by Candace McDuffie
The modern folk duo is pushing the limits of what two voices can accomplish in the studio and on the road; they also discuss the benefits of giving away your music for free.
D E PA R T M E N T S 5 Obituaries
48 Negotiate Rights Management Deals
6 Local News
49 Legal Pad: Copyright Theft
13 Tour Stop: Atlanta, GA
50 My Favorite Axe: Chris Edmonds
14 Spotlights: Pretty & Nice; Black Apples
51 Recording: Tracking Full Bands pt.1
34 Top Picks: The best in new music
52 Studio Diary: Attention System
46 Make Money in Second Life
54 Gear Reviews
47 An Open Letter From BMI
56 Flashback: DBX 163 Compressor/Limiter
Photos: counter-clockwise from top: Matt Koroulis, Colleen Green, Steve Parke, Robert Ascroft Cover photo by Matt Koroulis
APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 3
FROM THE TOP Howdy, y’all!
Volume 23, Issue 4
Seems like many of you are recovering from your SXSW hangovers this month… still. Personally, I decided to skip the event this year. Partially because I’ve grown tired of its over-commercialization and the marginalization of truly independent artists, and partially because I have a three-monthold at home and my wife would kill me if I was gallivanting around Texas for a week, eating ribs and catching midnight rock shows. And if you know anything about me, you know how
I LOVE TO GALLIVANT. HARD. I’m to gallivanting what Andrew W.K. is to partying. SXSW and conferences/festivals like it used to be about showcasing emerging artists – giving them a platform to perform in front of key decision makers who otherwise wouldn’t give them the time of day. Now, you have The
Smashing Pumpkins headlining the festival, and indie artists are put on the backburner yet again. With about eight million official, unofficial, partially-official, and unofficiallyofficial showcase slots left for anyone who isn’t Billy Corgan, the chances of you actually showcasing your stuff in front of someone who matters are growing exceedingly smaller by the year. There are simply too many slots and parties to keep track of, and it seems you can’t get into anything you actually want to see anyway. Now I get it – these events need to make money. This isn’t a charity, after all. The same thing happened to my beloved San Diego Comic-Con, which used to be the Mecca for all things comic book related, and which has now become filled with panels where you can ask inane questions of the latest CBS sitcom “stars.” Anyway, what was I ranting about? Oh yeah, festivals, indie artists, commercialism, the good ol’ days. Now get off my lawn!!
-Benjamin Ricci Editor P.S. – I realize now that I failed to mention anything about what’s in this actual issue, which is pretty killer. But you’re reading it, so you should have picked up on that already. Enjoy!
William House Phone: 617-627-9200 firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR
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Adam Barnosky, Alec Wooden, Alexandria Sardam, Arthur Orfanos, Ben Marazzi, Benjamin Ricci, Brad Hardisty, Brent Godin, Candace McDuffie, Chris Devine, Christopher Petro, Daniel Hills, Del R. Bryant, Elisabeth Wilson, Eric Wolff, Gail Fountain, Garrett Frierson, Glenn Skulls, Heidi Schmitt, Ian MacGreggor, Jillian DennisSkillings, Joshua Broughton, Julia DeStefano, Lesley Daunt, Michael St. James, Mike Alexander, Shawn M Haney, Tara Lacey, Taylor Haag, Vanessa Bennett, Vincent Scarpa, Zac Cataldoo CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS
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.
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4 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
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Rock Guitarist, Ten Years After Alvin Lee is best remembered as the lead guitarist and singer with the blues-rock band Ten Years After. Lee’s performance at the Woodstock Festival was captured on film in the documentary of the event, and his electrifying guitar work helped catapult him to stardom. The band had continued success in the 1970s, and Lee went on to perform with acts like Bo Diddley and Mick Taylor. Lee died on March 6 in Spain. According to his website, he died from “unforeseen complications following a routine surgical procedure.”
Mindy McCready, 37 American Country Singer Malinda Gayle “Mindy” McCready was an American country music singer. Active from 1995 until her death on February 17, she recorded a total of five studio albums. Her debut album, 1996’s Ten Thousand Angels, was released on BNA Records and was certified 2x Platinum by the RIAA, while 1997’s If I Don’t Stay the Night was certified Gold. 1999’s I’m Not So Tough, her final album for BNA, was less successful, and she left the label. A self-titled fourth album followed in 2002 on Capitol Records.
Peter Banks, 65 Original Yes Guitarist Peter Banks was an English guitarist, and the original guitarist for the progressive rock band Yes. The BBC’s Danny Baker and Big George often called Banks “The Architect of Progressive Music.” After leaving Yes, Banks supported Blodwyn Pig for a brief period in late 1970, and guested as session musician on an album by Chris Harwood. In 1971 Banks formed Flash, with Tony Kaye on keyboards. Banks was found dead of heart failure on March 8 in his home in London.
Bobby Rogers, 73 The Miracles Singer & Motown Songwriter Bobby Rogers was an American soul singer and songwriter, notable as a member of Motown Records’ first signed act and first million selling group The Miracles from 1956 until 2011. He was inducted along with the other members of the Miracles with the exception of Smokey Robinson in 2012 to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In addition to his work in The Miracles, Rogers was a Motown songwriter; his most notable composition, authored with bandmate Smokey Robinson, was The Temptations’ first hit single, “The Way You Do the Things You Do.”
Claude King, 90 Country Singer, “Wolverton Mountain” Claude King was an American country music singer and songwriter, best known for his million selling 1962 hit, “Wolverton Mountain.” In 1963, King scored three country hits with “Sheepskin Valley,” “Building a Bridge,” and “Hey Lucille!” The hits continued in 1964 with “Sam Hill,” and in 1965 he was back in the Top 10 with “Tiger Woman,” co-written with Merle Kilgore; his singles continued to make the country charts through 1972. King died of a lengthy illness at his home in Shreveport on March 7.
Alvin Lee, 68
Stompin’ Tom Connors, 77 Prolific Canadian Folk Artist Thomas Charles “Stompin’ Tom” Connors, OC was one of Canada’s most prolific and well-known country and folk singer/ songwriters. Focusing his career exclusively on his native Canada, Connors is credited with writing more than 300 songs and has released four dozen albums, with total sales of nearly 4 million copies. Connors died at age 77 in his home in Ballinafad, Ontario on March 6, of renal failure. Stompin’ Tom Connors is survived by his wife, Lena, four children and several grandchildren.
Van Cliburn, 78 First Classical Artist to Sell a Million Copies
Harvey Lavan “Van” Cliburn, Jr. was an American pianist who achieved worldwide recognition in 1958 at the age of 23, when he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow at the height of the Cold War. Cliburn then toured domestically and overseas for many years. He played for royalty, heads of state, and every U.S. president from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Barack Obama. His recording of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 was the first album by a classical artist to sell more than one million copies.
Onno van Ravensteijn, 49 Dutch Journalist, Co-Owner Strength Records Onno van Ravensteijn, better known as Onno Cro-Mag, was a respect Dutch journalist, punk enthusiast and the co-owner of Strength Records. The following message was posted on the Strength Records Facebook page: “With sadness in my heart I write that Onno van Ravensteijn [“Cromag”] has passed away due to a heart attack. A unique, warm, honest and colorful person. A legend with a heart of gold and a friend.” Onno van Ravensteijn launched Strength Records in late 2011 with Roger Miret of Agnostic Front.
APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 5
Preserving Austin’s Music Culture
by Tara Lacey
A Look at Advocacy Group ‘Austin Music People’ Austin Music People is an advocacy group that has become a watchdog for the state of Austin’s music industry. As the city continues to grow at a record-breaking pace and condos continue to swallow up real estate that once belonged to legendary music venues, rent and noise ordinances are taking a visible (and audible) toll on the downtown entertainment district. The punk rock staple Emo’s recently sold to media leviathan C3 Presents even after their recent move to Austin’s East side. This comes ten years after the opening of their successful Sixth Street dive.
Mohawk and Transmission Entertainment owner James Moody weighed in at KLRU’s Studio 6A upon hearing this year’s report, stating that Austin is one of the most expensive places in the nation to run a music venue with a mixed beverage tax of 14%. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for venues to book marketable bands when rent and margins, combined with the power of major players like C3 owning the market, keep them from experiencing continued growth. Instead, many struggle just to keep the doors open and the music playing. Austin city council member Mike Martinez
considers it a priority to preserve the downtown music culture as other districts begin to offer better rent, better parking, and better revenues for both talent and venue owners. Martinez calls for a long-term policy to help sustain the music scene’s urban core in Austin. Initiatives that are to be addressed immediately include security issues, accessible loading zones, and affordable housing for members of the entertainment industry.
For more, visit austinmusicpeople.org
New Spring Fest Brings New Opps for Bands Head for The Hills Invades Texas by Tara Lacey Spring of 2013 gave the Austin area a little added bonus heading into festival season as Spacial Collaborations and Re:Evolution Media joined together to present Head for the Hills Music and Arts Festival - a 3-day camping festival celebrating its inaugural event. The 2013 festival was held March 1-3 at Quiet Valley Ranch in Kerrville, Texas. The small festival had a commendable debut with a music lineup that included headliners Kyle Hollingsworth of String Cheese Incident, and Eliot Lipp of Pretty Lights Music. The festival also celebrated the talents of some of Austin’s best - Mingo Fishtrap blasted some funky soul, local psychedelic rock jammed out by Dimitri’s Ascent, and a hometown hoedown was had featuring the bluegrass of MilkDrive who have also been seen at Austin City Limits Festival. At this year’s event there were a wide variety of informative and hands-on workshops, including a home brew workshop with Kyle 6 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Do you want to play at the Head For The Hills Music Festival? Send your information to email@example.com.
Hollingsworth who has seen success with Breckenridge Brewing Company’s Hoopla and has since started his own brewing festival in his home state of Colorado. One-of-a-kind arts and craft vendors were abundant with not a ‘box’ shop in sight; art installments and galleries also dotted the grounds. Daily yoga, live painters, roving performers, and an all-night silent disco hosted by Austin Silent Disco rounded out this year’s event. Look forward to heading for the hills next spring as this little gem of a festival continues to
grow. Head for The Hills will inevitably end up on the savvy festivalgoer’s radar especially if they are fans of grassroots, family friendly, intimate little events.
For more, visit www.headforthehillsfest.com.
R E M R O S F T R N PE E S E P R S l i m â€™ s ALL AGES @ ISCO m | $15 C p N 0 3 A : FR @7 S S A Nch Fossils | Doors LL AGE icorn n A U a 5 n e 1 e D r u n k 8:00 pm | $ | feat. B e 3 h 2 T il r p @ A A @ Doors T | N s h A a t L B lu e s ) f o A T Fidlar & Chee e s u + om (Ho : 0 0 p m | 2 1 es, o v R v a n W 7 a t io | feat. Found ors @ o e D h | T April 15 N @r e n d a n K e l l e y O T S BO 8 | f e a t . B April 1
ou t to y h g u o
Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble Invades Boston Tips for Getting an Invite in 2014
by Glenn Skulls
New York’s brutally metal cellist Helen Money has recently released a new album titled Arriving Angel. NJ’s The Mongoloids announced spring tour dates and a new LP titled Mongo Life, out April 2nd. Brooklyn’s Belle Mare announced their debut, The Boat Of The Fragile Mind EP and shared their first single, “The Boat Of The Fragile Mind.” Brooklyn’s Southern-infused rock outfit Hollis Brown released their debut album Ride On The Train and streamed its premiere via Paste Magazine. New England Conservatory will launch Jazz Lab, a one-week jazz program for students aged 14-18, from June 23-28. Rising Brooklyn duo Prism House recently released their new Reflections EP.
THIS YEAR’S PARTICIPATING BANDS blackbutton, Camden, Cancer Killing Gemini, Coyote Kolb, The Daily Pravda, The Deep North, Eddie Japan, Endation, The Field Effect, Glenn Yoder and the Western States, Herra Terra, Jack Burton vs. David Lo Pan, Lifestyle, Mount Peru, The New Highway Hymnal, The Okay Win, Parks, Ruby Rose Fox, The Suicide Dolls, Supermachine, Twin Berlin, Velah, Whitcomb, White Dynomite
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble, Boston’s venerable showcase and quasi-battle-of-the-bands, returns for another round this month. Initially started back in 1979 by now-defunct rock radio giant WBCN, the Rumble has moved homes and sponsors numerous times over the decades. Now presented by WZLX and curated by local radio personality Anngelle Wood (Boston Emissions), the festivities kick off on April 7 at TT The Bear’s in Cambridge. According to the Rumble’s site: “Now in its 34th year, the Rumble is a time-honored tradition, a local institution and the World Series of Boston Rock – a nine-night party that garners attention, press, cash, prizes, new fans and great friends. For the third year in a row, the Rumble happens at TT the Bear’s in scenic Central Square, Cambridge, Mass. The venue celebrates its 40th year serving the Boston music community, so this is rather special for us to be part of. Boston Emissions airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on 100.7 WZLX and bostonemissions.com. Boston Emissions supports independent bands and artists from Boston and New England. [Host] Anngelle Wood selects the 24 participating bands based on criteria established throughout the Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble’s 30-plus years.” So, wanna play next year? Then your best (and only) bet is to get in good with Wood - first by submitting your music to her radio program, and second by hitting the streets and performing live in the city as much as possible. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the show and the Rumble. Last year’s winners, Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck, are pictured above. For more, visit www.facebook.com/RockandRollRumble.
8 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
The self-titled debut release from White Widows - a Brooklyn metal quintet formed by members of Cleanteeth, The Destro, Grudges and Primitive Weapons - is out now via Sacrament Music. Drazy Hoops announced his record, This Is The Sound Of..., will be out April 9th via Slow Burn Records. Boston’s Eksi Ekso announce their new LP will be based on serial killer H.H. Holmes, and is out on May 7th. Philly’s Purling Hiss released a new video for “Mercury Retrograde” from their latest LP and announced upcoming spring tour dates.
DRUM LESSONS with DEAN JOHNSTON 617.388.5395 email@example.com CALL OR WRITE FOR A FREE EVALUATION BOSTON, MA
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THE SIGNAL OF A NEW ERA
800.FISHMAN • fishman.com • asterope.com
Get to know Brian Bunn Artist, Producer, Songwriter
Get Booked on Nashville Radio
Mando Blues Served Up Mondays by Brad Hardisty
One of the most unique local radio shows in Nashville, Mando Blues, is recorded every Monday and broadcast Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Radio Free Nashville 107.1-FM. The show’s host is longtime local music entrepreneur Whit Hubner. Mando Blues looks at blues as an evolving scene, rather than just heritage. The show is a combination of classic recordings, live performances and interviews. Recorded on top of a wooded hill in an army surplus tent, in front of a small live audience, different types of roots music are thrown into the mix while homecooked food is served to crew and audience alike. Musical guests have varied from Boscoe France, Tommy Womack, Mike Farris, Nick Nixon to The
McCrary Sisters. Hubner is always looking for some new acts to book for the show. The show focuses more on blues as a style that has influenced American music and not just traditional Delta blues styles. Even though they play classic blues, the artists they feature can range from bluegrass to straight up bluesinfluenced rock. Touring bands as well as regional acts can contact Hubner at firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration to perform live for radio broadcast.
For more, visit mandoblues.wordpress.com.
Killer Indie Merch in Nashville
/ Hanging Out with Kangaroo Press by Brad Hardisty / photo by Roderick Trestail Located in a strip mall in a sketchy part of Nashville, Ryan Nole’s Kangaroo Press is one of the best examples of current silkscreen work for indie bands and artists. Ryan has done work for The Black Keys, Fugazi, My Morning Jacket, The Black Belles, Bright Eyes and Third Man Records as well as Nashville’s boutique jean brand to the stars, Imogene + Willie. Nole started in the straight edge hardcore scene doing bootleg-style t-shirts for bands like Chewbacca that had the motto, “Let the Wookie win – Go vegan.” Nole is drawn to well thoughtout branding and logo styles, especially classic American brands like Coca-Cola. He is always collecting memorabilia that includes a life size E.T. for inspiration. Lately, Nole has been developing everything for My Morning Jacket from designing posters to wearing a classic ’60s bear costume onstage that is from his personal collection. The Kangaroo Press website includes contact information as well as examples of Ryan’s work and classic indie gig posters and shirts that are available. For more, visit www.kangaroopress.com.
10 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
interview by Brad Hardisty photo by Jeffri Rimmer What’s your background? In 2005 my band, DecembeRadio, signed with Spring Hill out of Nashville and we released three albums over seven years. I have toured with Third Day, Newsboys, and David Crowder. In the past five years I have been expanding my home studio, Southern Attic, by working with many up and coming artists like The Amorous. I’m also part of new country trio, JEBtown. Why should we know you? So we can make great music together. You never know if the next person you meet could play a very important role in your musical journey, whether it be helping write a hit song or record a work of art. Every John needs A Paul! What are you trying to do in music? Anything that pays! The music business has changed drastically in the last 10 years, so it helps to be well rounded. If touring is slow I can work with new artists in the studio and help pick up the slack or vice-versa. As an artist, I have to stick with one style of music, therefore I enjoy working with artists in the studio on anything from art rock to folk to country. Top achievements? Grammy nominated for Best Rock Gospel Album of the Year in 2006, I won two Dove Awards for Best Rock Album of the year in 2006 and 2009, and as the producer of The Amorous, who won a contest with over 10,000 entries, Unsigned Only in 2012. Top 3 current favorite local artists? The Rhett Walker Band, The Amorous, and The Kicks. For more, visit www.facebook.com/brian.bunn.98
PACIFIC N ORTHWEST
SEATTLE Sub Pop Celebrates 25 Years!
Plans to Commemorate Silver Jubilee in Style
compiled by Glenn Skulls
The Not-Its!, acclaimed by Seattle Metropolitan as “high-energy bubblegum pop,” will perform several family rock concerts to celebrate the release their fourth kidie rock CD, KidQuake!
Seattle cinematic rockers IMPORT/EXPORT released their debut album Dayglow Whore via a generative art iPhone/iPad app on February 5. Gaytheist, the band that About.com called “the musical version of Shark Week,” is downright thrilled to announce that they will be heading out on a short tour in support of their still-amazing third LP (and first for Good To Die Records) Stealth Beats. Dan Rasay, chair of the board of Classical Revolution PDX announced today that the board has appointed Christopher Corbell to the position of executive director, effective April 1st. There’s a fancy hullabaloo going down at Sub Pop for their 25th Anniversary. See the big-ass main story on this page for more. You can’t miss it. Just point your eyeballs slightly to the side. There you go… Portland-based record label and collective Dropping Gems announces Gem Drops Three, the latest installment in their flagship compilation series, available April 16th. The Portland Jazz Composers’ Ensemble, a 12-piece ensemble commissioning and performing music by local jazz composers, presented a concert on March 22 at the Community Music Center in SE Portland, part of this year’s March Music Moderne festival, a month long celebration of new music in Portland. The hindgut digesters in Portland-based noise/metal trio RABBITS recently revamped and re-launched local DIY label Eolian Empire, with new viscous pellets out now and more in the works (their words, not ours). Good To Die Records has recently re-issued Sandrider’s debut, self-titled LP on vinyl. Look for that in their online store, and read our interview with the band starting on page 28. Oh yeah, they’re on the cover, too.
Straight from the mouths of our friends in Seattle, we’re pumped to announce Sub Pop’s plans to celebrate their 25-year anniversary this summer. Just look at all those exclamation points they used! This is exciting! In honor of our 25th anniversary year, we at Sub Pop Records will be hosting an altogether free event in Seattle’s historic Georgetown neighborhood. Along and surrounding Airport Way, we are fairly certain there will be some combination of… Actual live bands, playing actual live music! Some sort of art-related something or other! Like, in a gallery space, we’re thinking! A record fair-type event! Food! Beer and wine! (The food and beer and wine and soda or whatever, you will have to pay for! These parts are not free!) Good times and opportunities to embarrass yourself and those who’d always hoped for better for you! Plus, bands! Further details will be forthcoming… Preceding the The Silver Jubilee, on April 20th (Record Store Day! 4/20: something-something about weed!) we will release Sub Pop 1000, a limited-edition compilation of what we feel are some of today’s most vital artists from around the world. Sub Pop 1000 is comprised entirely of unreleased and exclusive tracks. It will be available digitally and in a vinyl pressing of 5,000 copies, on some dazzling color of vinyl that we have yet to figure out. The vinyl will include an 11×11 booklet and an MP3 download coupon. Sub Pop 1000 was inspired by our landmark 1986 compilation, Sub Pop 100, which championed artists such as Sonic Youth, Wipers and the U-Men. Please find a full tracklist for Sub Pop 1000 [to the right].
SUB POP 1000 TRACKLISTING: Side A 01. His Electro Blue Voice “Kidult” (Como, IT) 02. Chancha Via Circuito “Lacandona” (Buenos Aires, AR) 03. Protomartyr “French Poet” (Detroit, MI) 04. Lori Goldston “Tangled North” (Seattle, WA) 05. Iron Lung “A Victory for Polio” (Seattle, WA; San Francisco, CA) Side B 06. Soldiers of Fortune “Money” (Brooklyn, NY) 07. Peaking Lights “Subterranean Brainblow” (Los Angeles, CA) 08. Ed Schrader’s Music Beat “Radio Eyes” (Baltimore, MD) 09. My Disco “Guided” (Melbourne, AU) 10. Starred “Doomed” (Los Angeles, CA) SUB POP’S SILVER JUBILEE INFO Saturday, July 13, 2013 Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle, WA
FOR FREE ! For more info, visit silverjubilee.subpop.com.
APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 11
Atlanta serves as a great halfway point between Nashville’s musicinfused streets and Savannah, the gateway to Florida. The city has grown beyond its nationally-known concentration of R&B and hip-hop – even the landmark So So Def billboard has seen its demise in the last few years – into a rich, varied music town. There are pockets of dense, venue-laden, fan-driven, genre-diverse city to be found if you know where to look, making for an extremely attractive tour stop for bands ranging from metal to indie and beyond. And, yes, hip-hop still lives there, too. -Joshua Broughton
VENUES THE DRUNKEN UNICORN 736 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA www.thedrunkenunicorn.net The Unicorn is a 200-ish person venue, part of a larger, DJ-driven entertainment complex called MJQ. It offers music seven nights a week with no specific genre. The foot traffic is light, but the locals know where to go to see great tunes and hear great DJs. 529 529 Flat Shoals Ave, Atlanta, GA www.529atl.com Nestled in the heart of the East Atlanta Village, 529 is a smaller, 80-person venue with a full bar and sound setup. It has a great patio and tons of foot traffic. It generally houses a late night crowd, and things can get very intimate; the stage and fans are eye-to-eye. THE MASQUERADE 695 North Ave, Atlanta, GA www.themasq.com This three-story historic venue has a pedigree of which dreams are made. The three rooms range from a medium 200 seater to a mammoth 2,000-person dynamo. It’s dirty, but we love it that way.
GEAR EARTHSHAKING MUSIC 543 Stokeswood Ave SE Atlanta, GA www.earthshakingmusic.com Every bass player needs an entire gear shop catering to them, right? Also includes a good set of percussion supplies and the general stuff for bands-about-town. ATLANTA DISCOUNT MUSIC 4934 Peachtree Rd Atlanta, GA www.atlantadiscountmusic.com The best consignment shop in Atlanta. You’ll find vintage guitars and amps, and not-so-vintage accessories like strings and picks, not to mention a great staff replete with luthiers who can do a quick repair or setup on the go.
RECORDING STUDIOS LEDBELLY SOUND STUDIO Georgia 52 Dawsonville, GA www.ledbellysound.com Matt Washburn helms this small Atlanta staple. Mastodon got their start recording here; what are you waiting for? TREE SOUND STUDIOS 4610 Peachtree Industrial Blvd Norcross, GA www.treesoundstudios.com From Collective Soul to Sevendust to Akon to... well, you name them, they’ve dropped tracks here.
RECORD STORE CRIMINAL RECORDS 1154 Euclid Ave NE Atlanta, GA www.criminalatl.com If you like aisles and aisles of vinyl, live performances on a corner stage, and just about the hippest location in the city, this place is for you.
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GENRE: Psychedelic Motown Surf
THE BLACK APPLES
HOMETOWN: Los Angeles, CA
Deeply Rooted to Brave the Future
ARTISTIC APPROACH: Fraternal collaboration and musical experimentation.
by Eric Wolff / photo by Robertsen Ashman
“WHEN PEOPLE HEAR OUR MUSIC, THEY HEAR THAT IT’S CONNECTED TO THIS DEEPER VEIN OF GENERATIONS OF MUSIC BEFORE.” Campbell and Andrew Scarborough - singers, songwriters, guitarists, and brothers - have literally spent a lifetime together as musicians and collaborators. The brothers’ musical roots are planted firmly in their childhood home. Their father toured as a guitar player during the ‘60s, playing surf rock as well as the music of Motown and the British Invasion. Campbell and Andrew recognize their father as a major influence on their commitment to music and the sound of The Black Apples, which they like to call “Psychedelic Motown Surf.” Their mother also worked in the industry and both parents set the boys on a musical path early on; they’ve been playing together ever 14 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
since. “My whole family plays” says Campbell, “I don’t know anything different.” After a short stint in Fort Collins, CO, the brothers moved to Los Angeles where they learned a new appreciation for the rarity of their mutual musical connection. Black Apples went through several lineup changes as the band played everywhere and anywhere they could, from house parties to L.A.’s El Rey Theater, to an improvised performance with Mexican band San Pedro el Cortez on the streets of Tijuana. But in the last year, with the addition of touring drummer Jorge Balbi Castellano and bassist Mason Rothschild, the group is fully formed and ready to bloom.
The band will release their new EP Tales and Truths on April 16 and will start a residency to support it on Tuesdays in April at Harvard & Stone in Hollywood. Still, even with a busy schedule, the band continues to grow, constantly writing new material and plotting the release of a full-length album. Campbell puts their work into perspective: “I like to think that when people hear our music, they hear that it’s connected to this deeper vein of generations of music before, but also branches out from all that stuff.” With deep roots and ambitious branches, there’s little doubt Black Apples will continue to drop plenty of great music.
PRETTY & NICE To Boldly Go Where No Pop Has Gone Before by Candace McDuffie / photo by Shervin Lainez
ON KEEPING ARTISTIC CONTROL:
“WE MAKE THE MUSIC WE MAKE AND PEOPLE HAVE ALWAYS RESPONDED WELL TO IT.”
GENRE: Experimental Pop HOMETOWN: Boston, MA ARTISTIC APPROACH: To teach an advanced pop crash course.
Digesting all of the idiosyncrasies that define Pretty & Nice would be quite the challenge. Their quippy nature is surprisingly charming - the members in the band are even more so. And the fact that they’ve been so modest about all of their hard work makes the news that they’ve signed to Rory Records, an imprint of Equal Vision, that much more satisfying. The boys got sweaty on 2008’s Get Young, a debut album that was more than just rattling guitar and irrefutable hooks - it was downright sprawling, untamable, and sheer fun. Being handpicked by Say Anything frontman Max Bemis for Rory Records would seemingly have
an inherent amount of pressure attached to it, but Roger Lussier possesses a different point of view on the matter. “It’s clear that Max grew up listening to a wide breadth of music and appreciates things that are weird and wonderful,” he explains. “He is also the type of guy who has always been in singular control of the aesthetic of his music and the way it is presented, and we’re similarly protective of those sorts of things as well.” Their latest single “Hibernate” lays out Pretty & Nice’s approach to texture and tune: complete and utter sincerity. The chords are straightforward and compelling - the vocals are
cautious yet still enticing. When asked if Boston listeners are still receptive to their sound, the members practically speak in unison. “Boston’s still great,” Jeremy Mendicino affirms. “We make the music we make and people have always responded well to it.” But figuring out Boston’s personalized music preferences isn’t as clear. As Holden Lewis divulges: “I have no idea what people are into in Boston. I thought I did, then all the bands broke up!” Thankfully, he realizes the positive side to this. “Luckily people always start new awesome bands here. Hopefully, they’ll keep wanting to play shows with us.” APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 15
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by Alexandria Sardam photos by Eric Penna and Colleen Green
On Challenging Herself to Record Out of Her Comfort Zone
Colleen Green. She’s a woman who proudly marches to the beat of her own drum - literally. With her latest album, Sock It To Me, Green’s exuberant personality comes to life, dripping in this funky punk distortion and of course, a drum machine. Green’s latest masterpiece packs quite the trendy, yet edgy, punch to the throat, with an underlying sexy girl power vibe. (Think more Meg White than Alanis Morissette.) APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 17
“I’VE COME TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE BEST ART IS PERSONAL AND ABOVE ALL, HONEST.”
What’s refreshing about Green is her ability to strip down and be vulnerable, yet somehow she manages to be impressive both through her music and in her life. Green’s the type of musician who’s uniqueness is charming, prompting you to be an immediate fan. And even though she hasn’t uncovered the big mystery to success (has anyone?), we think it’s safe to say that this lanky girl with groovy bangs from New England has enough gumption, charisma and party-all-night-long drumbeats to get her feet marching in the right direction. Or at least a really, really fun one.
When exactly did you know that you wanted to be a musician?
I have known all my life! From the moment I could talk, I was singing and pretending that I was a “rock star” whose guitar was constantly on fire. I don’t know where it came from. I’m sure lots of little kids pretend to be rock stars but I never grew out of it. As soon as I could write, I was writing “songs” and I even crocheted a little purse to keep all my songs in. I rapped for my classmates during 2nd grade show and tell. 18 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
My mother loves to sing and was always singing to me when I was little. My dad had been a drummer in a band and had all the greatest records. Growing up in rural New England, there wasn’t much to do so we were always going for long drives, during which my parents would play all their favorite tapes. It just was in me. I think I inherited the dreams of my parents. It was in them, but because of societal and monetary constraints, maybe they didn’t feel like they had the freedom to live out big dreams. But I do.
Was there a specific moment that made it all sort of “click” for you as a musician, telling you that this is the path to be on?
I can’t think of a single moment where it all became clear. I just can’t stop. I have to do it.
When you’re introducing your music to new listeners, what do you tell them?
I usually just tell them it’s pop punk with a drum machine, like The Ramones, because everyone knows The Ramones. “Oh, like The Ramones?” “Yeah, sure” - that type of thing. If
they’re truly interested, I figure they’ll just listen to it. That works just as well, if not better, than asking me what it sounds like. Because one song can sound completely different to two people.
What about with this album, how would you describe it?
Like my previous efforts, this new album is my brain on wax. It’s moody, melodic, poppy, and rife with hooks.
Do you have personal references in your music, or do your lyrics represent abstract or outside feelings?
All of my music is very personal. In the book Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary, the title character tells his young fan to “write what you know.” That’s a good rule, and one I tend to follow. Songs of mine have referenced old apartments, Boston landmarks, friends, love interests, and even lyrics by favorite bands of mine, if you can believe it. I’ve come to understand that the best art is personal and above all, honest. So that’s what I strive to be, and it takes a lot of work, and
it’s very hard and very scary, and I’m still not totally there, but I am trying. If my personal dayto-day dealings with others aren’t completely honest yet, I know at least my art is. Maybe that is the first step.
What song did you have the most fun with creating on the album?
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Colleen Green Sock it To Me Standout Track: “Time In The World”
“Every Boy Wants a Normal Girl” was really fun to create. It was one of the few songs that I finished writing during the recording process, so it was cool to see a song whose prospect I was excited about come together, and I absolutely love the way it came out. Danny Rowland programmed the drums for me, and it was one of the first songs that had some variation in the drumbeat, so that was exciting. Then after, embellishing it with the hand claps and ride cymbal really added so much. And then having my friends Lacey and April act out the dialogue, that was really fun and funny.
Which song was the most challenging for you?
“Taxi Driver” was a bit of a challenge, if I have to give an answer. It’s a sad song and all the feelings I share in it are real. It was hard to get the vocals just right; this was my first time working with another person so I was pretty self-conscious and at times, just couldn’t do it. I am hard on myself and I got pretty discouraged working on a few of the songs. The entire recording process was a challenge, actually. I was 1,100 miles away from my own home, living in someone else’s for a month. I was way out of my comfort zone and I had to do a lot of things that I’ve never done before, like sing into an actual microphone and share ideas with another person. But ultimately all challenges are good, and it gave me an opportunity to grow and learn, which is never a bad thing.
Where do you want to perform your music?
I would like to perform my music just about anywhere anyone would want me to! I’m very portable.
Where do you want to hear it played?
Likewise, I would love to hear it played just about anywhere. At a party, on the radio, complementing motion pictures, coming from a car stereo, wafting through an open apartment window, meandering down the hallways of my old college dorm...
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from other musicians or people in this industry about your art and succeeding in such a crazy business?
I can’t say for sure that anyone has given me advice on how to “succeed in the business.” At the risk of giving a way cheesy, lame answer, I consider myself successful already because I am
following my dream and I’m keeping it real and what I’m doing seems to be bringing happiness to a lot of nice people. I will say that none of this would have been possible if not for Nobunny and Mike Hunchback. They are maybe my two biggest inspirations. I know I’m supposed to say that I was inspired by some old-timers, but whatever. These two amazing musicians came into my life at a crucial time - a time when I was very depressed and lonely and didn’t understand why
my life was what it was and didn’t know what to do. Their friendships and support inspired me to not be afraid or ashamed of who I am and what I want, and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with or weird about that. Now I know that being honest in life is the only way to get what you truly want, and if you can do that, you can succeed at anything you choose to do. www.hardlyart.com/colleengreen.html APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 19
Bass Icon on Being a Perpetual Student
by Alec Wooden photos by Steve Parke
Bass guitar phenom Victor Wooten relates to students Sword & Stone), he teaches year-round camps and in one simple way - by making sure he always remains clinics and, of course, still hits the road with his one of them. And Wooten’s on the move again. On this project du jour. Wooten began his true ascent to day it’s literal; we chat on the phone only minutes after bass stardom in the late 1980s as a member of Bela he touches down in today’s tour stop of Las Vegas - Fleck’s heavily Grammy-decorated Flecktones, and but motion remains the most apt metaphor for bass while he’s remained a constant rock in the band, it’s playing’s most hyper-creative mind.
been through a laundry list of various collaborations
There’s an awful lot on Wooten’s plate these days: and an even-increasing teaching schedule that he’s he’s still fresh off a double album release in 2012 chased something he still reaches for today: the (Words & Tones and its instrumental counterpart pursuit of what’s next. 20 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
ON WORKING COLLABORATIVELY:
“IF I JUST CALL MUSICIANS IN AND TELL THEM WHAT TO DO, THAT’S GOING TO STUNT THEIR GROWTH AND MY MUSIC MAY NOT BE AS GOOD.“
APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 21
It’s fair to assume that Wooten needs nothing “new” these days, that his learning days are over and he can rest comfortably in his reign as one of the premier bass players - if not the premier bass player - in the world. A fair assumption, perhaps, but a wildly incorrect one. Three decades into a career that’s known few bounds, there’s always still a door to be opened and a new trick to be learned for music’s perpetual student.
different ways? The main challenge was making sure the versions were different enough. I didn’t want the instrumental versions (on Sword & Stone) to just be Muzak versions of the vocal ones [laughs]. So in many cases I would change arrangements, add musicians, do different solos, things like that to entice people to listen to both. For the most part, it was a ton of fun being able to approach it from two slightly different mindsets.
Two CD releases at the same time is a pretty daunting task. What made you want to take on the challenge?
Any new techniques or tricks you used on this record?
I knew I wanted to do a record featuring female vocalists (Words & Tones), and I wanted to allow the vocalists the opportunity of writing some of the lyrics, so they would be singing lyrics that were true to them. As I was working on the songs, I would put melodies on them, either with bass or another instrument, so I could send it to them. I realized I liked the songs as instrumentals, also. What were some of the biggest challenges in imagining the same songs two
Victor Wooten Words & Tones Sword & Stone Standout Track: “Heaven”
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Yeah, on the song “Sword and Stone,” I used a new technique. I usually have this hair band — just a little scrunchie that someone might use to put a ponytail in their hair — that I have up around the headstock of my bass. It slides around the neck and helps dampen the strings, so that things sound cleaner in open string palm muting. In this instance, on the solo of that song, I put it all the way up high, around the 17th fret. So then when I play my normal way behind it, those notes pop out certain weird harmonics. It sounds like what a guitarist would do with pinched harmonics. So I took a solo with distortion and some
effects, and you’re hearing these really weird, amazing harmonics popping out. That was a lot of fun, to basically play like a guitarist and have these neat new sounds coming out.
Do you think people can be their own worst enemy, from a mental standpoint, in the studio?
As soon as you know that record button is hit, a mental trick gets played on you. At that point it has nothing to do with music, it has everything to do with your psyche. With my camps and my teaching, that’s something I try to focus on: the mental aspect of not only playing music, but also living life.
Tell me more about your philosophy as a teacher, something I know is very dear to you.
One of the main things I try to get students to do is take a backwards step and free themselves up. When you first get introduced [to music] as a kid, maybe you’re playing an air guitar or something like that, and there’s a huge smile on your face. It’s not about the instrument or doing it “right.” But as soon as you buy an instrument and start taking lessons, the smile goes away. Now
you know what you’re doing wrong and all that. It becomes more of a chore. So I try to get people back to that free place where they’re loving it again. Once they do that, they’re re-inspired and rejuvenated to play again.
Is it fair to say that you’re still a student of the bass guitar as much as you are a teacher?
Absolutely. Still a student. To me, that’s really the definition of a good teacher, someone who is a professional student. Music is ever growing, so I don’t want to reach the end of it. I know that I can’t. Right now my growth is more so leading towards being a more complete musician standpoint, not just from a bass standpoint. I want to become a better writer, a better producer, and I’m trying to understand music more and really expand my musicianship, not just my bass playing.
You’ve collaborated with a really wide range of musicians over your career. So how do you keep expanding that understanding in each of those new projects and situations?
By letting the musicians contribute. In other
words, if I just call musicians in and tell them what to do, that’s going to stunt their growth and my music may not be as good. It’s like getting a group of people to sit around and have a talk, but you tell everyone what to say. The conversation will be much better if everyone is allowed to say what they hear and what they choose. That’s a big thing that I really learned from Bela Fleck. When he would bring his tunes in, he would never tell us what to play. He would play his part and allow us to express ourselves and put out our first instinct of what we hear on that song. If he were to tell us what to play, that would rob us of our first chance to express ourselves with what we’re saying.
Instinct is certainly a key word. How did you learn to best trust yours?
That’s just how I grew up. I never grew up in a musically regimented manner. I had to actually learn to play that way, to play more regimented. Playing in theme park shows, or theater or Broadway type shows, where you have to play it the same way every time, I had to learn that.
side of music. What challenges does the industry present as they relate to you
The challenge is the fact that people aren’t buying records like they used to, and I’m in a record selling business. So trying to get people to buy your records is a challenge for everybody. Figuring out how to deal with that is a challenge. Trying to get people out to the live shows, even though I have four kids at home and want to stay home, I still gotta tour. There are challenges, but some of those challenges are also opportunities. Because people can get things on the Internet, I have fans in places I’ve never been and never will be. I know that those fans want the music, so I just have to figure out how I can satisfy them as well as my needs of being an entrepreneur and a business person. So what do we do? That’s just the way it is. I can complain about it or I can move with it. www.victorwooten.com
You’ve been active through a really fascinating time of sweeping change in the business
“THE DEFINITION OF A GOOD TEACHER [IS] SOMEONE WHO IS A PROFESSIONAL STUDENT. MUSIC IS EVER GROWING, SO I DON’T WANT TO REACH THE END OF IT.”
APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 23
T H E
M I L K
by Candace McDuffie photos by Robert Ascroft
Testing The Limits of
Minimalism on the Road
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“WRITING [THIS PUSH THE LIMITS ALBUM] AFFORDED OF WHAT CAN BE US THE FIRST REAL CONVEYED WITH JUST OPPORTUNITY TO TWO VOICES.” The Milk Carton Kids – comprised of Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan - are ready to take 2013 by storm. The Ash & Clay, the duo’s third album, was released last month on ANTI- Records. It is riddled with high-lonesome whistles, as the boys flawlessly deliver handsome, hybrid folk songs. Tracks either flare up or lurch forward, and do so beautifully. Even though they have an ambitious tour of the States in their sights, currently the Kids are in Europe promoting the release. But for some reason, they aren’t really concerned with the grueling demands of touring; their shows last year with Old Crow Medicine Show taught them all they needed to know. “[Old Crow] have been on tour for more than a decade and the communal spirit they embody has kept them going. Since our operation is so small, it’s easy for it to become insular to a fault,” Ryan states. He is also as introspective when examining Milk Carton’s own tour hardships. “We were tested, in our resolve, to put on our show unaltered in some very compromising circumstances,” he continues. “We’ve never plugged in our guitars and the technical limitations of that approach prevent us from turning up amplifiers to overpower the crowd with our sound.” And that was just the beginning. “Some of Old Crow’s crowds enjoyed beer and shouting a lot, so we had some of the most trying shows of our career in just two weeks. But their crowds also appreciate lyrics and guitar picking, so in places like Atlanta and Knoxville we had some of the best shows of our entire career.” And it’s not hard
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to see why audiences couldn’t get enough of them. The sheer, shy vocals and elegant guitar work presented on their first two records Prologue and Retrospect are at their finest on The Ash & Clay, as the Kids continue to experiment with their creative process. Their live show is a fine testament, as both men bravely adorn only their instruments and vocals to win over skeptical crowds. But to Ryan, there seems to be strength in a lack of numbers. “Writing The Ash & Clay afforded us the first real opportunity to push the limits of what can be conveyed with just two voices,” he says. “Emotionally, harmonically, and regarding subject matter, this album seems much more expansive than our last. When we recorded Prologue, we had been a duo for two months. The Ash & Clay sessions came a year and a half of living together in various vans, performing 175 shows or so, and developing a deep friendship.” Perhaps this intense approach to their artistry is why they are compelled to share most of their music for free - a maneuver that has proven tricky for artists in the past. “I’m wary of contributing to the dangerous idea that music ought to be free. To the extent that musicians and those we work with support themselves on their art, it’s a
tragedy that so many feel entitled to own it without contributing to its creation,” he contemplates. “But the other side of that is also dangerous: to the extent that recorded music is treated like a product it is cheapened and devalued by those who sell it, which goes some of the way to explaining people’s ambivalence about stealing it.” Ryan goes on to thoughtfully evaluate his stance. “For us, having a free option available is a bit of an experiment, testing the line between art and commercialism. But what we see are a great many people, especially those younger than we are, excited to listen and to share what is clearly being held up as art first and a product second. With the release of The Ash & Clay without a free option, the experiment continues and we’re ever conscious not to devalue the music we’ve made by pretending that its purpose is to be bought or sold.” Ryan’s opinion represents the dilemma most artists face when it comes to trying to place a price on what they create. But to him, it’s about sticking to your intuition and being true to yourself regardless of how unconventional your approach is. Even though they are armed only with a 1951 Gibson J-45 and a 1954 Martin 0-15, as well as their voices, The Milk Carton Kids aren’t afraid to tear down their minimalist label brick by brick - and do so in stride. “[The label] suits us fine, I suppose,” Ryan ponders. “But I think we strive to contradict it entirely.” www.themilkcartonkids.com
The Milk Carton Kids The Ash & Clay Standout Track: “Honey, Honey”
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by Benjamin Ricci b&w photos by Matt Koroulis / main photo by Victoria Holt for KEXP
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R I D E R Taking Advantage of Studio Limitations APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 29
“I THINK HAVING THOSE DEADLINES AND DISCIPLINE IN THE STUDIO MAKES FOR A BETTER RECORD.”
Seattle’s Sandrider is a gnarly, loud and ferocious trio of veteran musicians, hell-bent on destroying eardrums and bass drums in equal numbers. The band is about to re-release their self-titled LP on 180 gram wax, courtesy of Good To Die Records, and we had a chance to catch up with frontman Jon Weisnewski about the group’s back story, their favorite gear, and their creative process both in and out of the studio.
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Can you give us a brief rundown of how the band formed and where you’re at today? I’d been playing in the band Akimbo with Nat, our drummer, for about 15 years. I originally learned to play music on the guitar, but switched to bass in Akimbo. And I had a real desire to play guitar again, and to play with other musicians. So I asked Nat if he wanted to start playing some songs, and we wrote some music and had some other bass players come in and fool around. Never really got a serious bass player for a while, until I was getting tattooed by Jesse, Sandrider’s bass player, and we started shooting the shit. He played in a band I liked a lot, and they were in the middle of a hiatus at the time. So I told him he should come down and play bass with us. That first practice was just out of this world. It was great; we had an amazing chemistry together. Did you know Jesse before that, or did you meet at the tattoo parlor? We had known him from his band, The Ruby Doe, before. But yeah, I’d known him pretty well on my own, too. He’d done a number of tattoos for me, so we’d sat together in that chair for some time…[laughs] Sandrider, for me, is interesting because you’re forging a really cool scene in the Pacific Northwest with bands like Dog Shredder, Deadkill, and White Orange. I don’t know the best term to describe what you’re doing. Some have called it ‘sludge rock,’ but I’m not sure if that’s a term you find amusing or not. How do you describe the sound, and is there a real scene emerging out there, or am I just reading too much into it? As far as what the sound is called, I just call it rock and roll. We’re just all bands who like to play rock songs at the loudest volume possible. It’s really easy to throw all sorts of terms at the music right now, because it’s got a lot of influences - like sludge rock and classic rock, but it borrows from so many familiar genres that are so well-defined that it’s easy for people to pick out what they hear and say, ‘Oh yeah, it’s sludge rock.’ Or, ‘It’s grunge.’ People like labels. Exactly. How did you hook up with Good To Die Records? I believe the album is going to get a [vinyl] repress; they actually released it for the first time last year. We hooked up with Good To Die right when Nik [Christofferson] started the label. But we recorded the album in…2009? It had been sitting for two years – Sandrider has never been a
band where we’re busy and trying to network or make things happen. From the outset it’s always been about us getting together and playing music we like. Or playing a show because someone wants us to play a show. Or recording because we like the songs and we want a recording. That’s always been the spirit of the band. So we had this recording that was just sitting there, with none of us motivated to find a label to put it out… Did you have any intentions of putting it out yourselves, as a DIY release? [laughs] No. We’ve all been involved in the music industry for a long time now, and we’re trying to do it just for fun. That’s a lot of work, and I have nothing but respect for the bands that do that, and I understand why people do that to take control of their releases. But that’s a level of work I just don’t have the
energy for, and I’d rather just enjoy playing the music for the sake of playing music. So no, we never really planned on doing that. But Nik started up his label, and we knew him from his blog, Seattle Rock Guy, so we knew he was a good person. It’s funny. I said months and months before he even started the label, that if anyone in Seattle should start one, it was Nik from Seattle Rock Guy. Because he’s just one of those guys who’s so passionate about music. He goes to all of his bands’ shows when he can. He does it purely for the love of the music. We’ve known Nik for some time, and if there’s one thing we can say about him, it’s that he’s super passionate about the records he puts out. At the outset, we didn’t know where it would go. It was all kind of flattering to have
someone into the band, though. We’re really, really happy with him. You have a really loud, abrasive sound. How do you approach the studio to capture something like that on tape? A lot of that is working with an engineer who you trust, who most importantly knows how to record a loud band right. We went with Matt Bayles – he was really drunk at one of our shows and offered to record it for us [laughs]. Well, that’s usually how you find the best engineers… I think he went in intending it to be a demo, but when we heard the rough mixes, we said, ‘This is incredible. We’re releasing this fucker right now!’ Sorry, Matt. Were there any adjustments you had to make APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 31
in performing these songs in the studio to accommodate the recording process? Not really. Nat and I have always approached the recording as, ‘This is what we do live, on tape.’ So we always try to write songs that will be played the same both in the studio and on stage. And we always try to record it in that spirit; so we try not to do a lot of fancy overdubs or too many vocal harmonies. And also, we always had really small budgets and tight schedules for recording. So we’d go in, work hard and get a good record. We recorded our first [Akimbo] album in like three days. I think having those deadlines and discipline in the studio makes for a better record. Honestly, even if we had a huge budget, we’d intentionally reduce the tracking time to keep ourselves in that creative frenzy. How do you approach the songwriting process? I’ve written most of the songs; Jesse has written a couple as well. I prefer…again, to talk about efficiency and not farting around, I prefer to fully flesh it out at home by myself before I present it to the band. So I have the blueprint ready to go, but that’s where I stop. Once we get in the practice space, I’ve always preferred to picture that you’re playing with musicians you trust. So no matter what they do, you know it’s gonna be good because they’re a badass at their instrument. Usually it stays pretty close to what the original concept was. Sometimes we stumble across something pretty cool, and will change it up, though. The one thing that we don’t do, and need to get better at, is the lyrics and vocals are always an afterthought. I’m actually really happy with how they came out on the first Sandrider record; I tried to push myself out of my comfort zone. And now I proactively work on lyrics and vocal harmonies with Jesse at rehearsals, so that’s new for us.
“HONESTLY, EVEN IF WE HAD A HUGE BUDGET, WE’D INTENTIONALLY REDUCE THE TRACKING TIME TO KEEP OURSELVES IN THAT CREATIVE FRENZY.” 32 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Sandrider Sandrider Listen Now performermag.com
Standout Track: “Children”
Why do you think that is, that the music has taken such precedence over the lyrics? It’s probably based on my process with Akimbo, where vocals were kind of a texture thing. I was more focused on writing a riff that would blow your balls away. Do your rigs change at all between the studio and the stage? For the most part, it’s pretty consistent. I know Jesse used a different bass on the recordings. Live, he plays a Music Man StingRay, and in the studio he used a Jazz Bass. And that’s something that I totally agree with; I think a Jazz Bass sounds better recorded. When you’re in the room, a StingRay has so much more presence, but it just doesn’t carry across to the recording. Yeah, a Jazz Bass cuts through the mix well. Tougher to get that live, but on tape it really
comes through. It’s got a great presence. And a lot of bands we like have that same tone – Unsane, The Melvins, Jesus Lizard – all those bass tones are ones we love. I use pretty much the same stuff for recording that I do live. I have two amps that I normally use; one is a Sunn Beta Lead. At the time, that was having some problems; it had a really loud his, so I used a Marshall JCM that Nat had in the studio. What guitars are you using? I have a shitty, Mexican Fender Strat that was a birthday present from when I was 14. It’s my favorite guitar; it plays so good. It’s been my best friend for years. I love playing it and it’s the only guitar I want to play.
recently took it to a guitar shop out here and had it tuned up, and now it plays like a god. Being that you’ve been doing this for quite some time, is there any advice you can pass on to the bands reading the magazine? Make sure you’re having fun. Make sure that it’s worth it. If it stops being fun and fulfilling, it’s time to hit the reset button. sandrider.bandcamp.com
So maybe it’s time to stop calling it shitty? What kind of pickups are in it? Just the stock single-coil Fender pickups. I APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 33
Indie/grunge band-to-watch turns out to be a beast live.
COMPOSURE The Sinclair - Cambridge, MA February 22, 2013
by Mike Alexander photo by Matt Lambert
PHILOSOPHY ON REVIEWS
Alessi’s Ark The Still Life London, UK
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. Listen to the music featured in this issue at performermag.com
34 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
“Affectionately baroque indie-folk” The singer/songwriter’s third full-length LP is a baker’s dozen of amicable, soft-hearted songs that splash and sway like a babbling brook: unfeigned and harmonious. Alessi’s Ark’s sound is comforting, each track exhibiting her blend of delicate, sparse melodies and dreamy croons drifting atop an intimate air of relationships past. Her raspy, seasoned vocals
splendidly capturing adolescent compassion most commonly reserved for senior year breakup letters. Vocals on the album’s multi-tracked choruses pleasantly surround like stereophonic Sirens as they softly paint pictures of far-off English landscapes and broken-hearted individuals. The LP’s closer, “Pinewoods,” is a downbeat stroll that flows like a folk lullaby, opening with the sullen hook: “She goes on surviving on the memories, getting misty over you. While you’re pining over the bad words that have got ya doomed.” The album’s organic production and looming instrumentation allows Alessi’s Ark’s storybook lyrics to hold your hand down the curiously peaceful path that is the album’s collective 13-track adventure. www.alessisark.com -Taylor Haag
OF STAGE DIVING It would be easy to attribute the energy, surprising amount of stage diving, massive fingers-in-theair singalongs and full on mosh pits of Friday night’s sold out crowd to circumstance: it was, after all, a Friday night during February vacation for a young crowd ready to escape the dreary winter and get crazy. But that would take away from the power of the dark, brooding, and intense performance from Pennsylvania’s Balance And Composure. After a solid opening set by their friends Daylight, The Jealous Sound played a set split between old favorites and new songs from last year’s stellar release, A Gentle Reminder. Their palm muted, simple-but-heartfelt melodic indie rock was good, but felt more like a calm-before-the-storm interlude for what was about to come. As soon as Balance And Composure took the stage with singer Jon Simmons saying the band were all incredibly sick, it was clear they were taking a go-for-broke stance on this, their third-to-last show of a month-long tour. Playing the bulk of their 2011 full-length debut, Separation, Simmons proved to be a master of the sing/scream, absolutely destroying his vocal chords over the course of their 12-song set. No stage lights were ever used - they played in front of what looked like a close-up of a lava lamp in an otherwise dark room. This, combined with their aggressive stage presence and sludgy, Brand New-meets-grunge three guitar attack made for a fantastically dark vibe and a surprising revelation: Balance and Composure are HEAVY.
Anaïs Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer Child Ballads Montpelier, VT (Wilderland Records)
“A highly-listenable American reinvention” Fans of Anaïs Mitchell’s solo records know already how compulsively listenable her voice is, a controlled voice that warms and nuances like summer sun her masterful and often provocative lyrics. They know, too, her precision in production, her vision, the range of her expression. The same can be said of singer/songwriter Jefferson Hamer, who joins forces with Mitchell in Child Ballads, a seven
song EP that re-imagines and reinvents those ballads collected by Francis James Child in the late 19th century. This isn’t Mitchell’s first attempt at a more conceptual release, coming on the heels of her successful folk opera Hadestown, released in 2011 and populated with the likes of Bon Iver, Greg Brown, and Ani DiFanco. Whereas a whole cast of characters were in place to bring Hadestown to life, Child Ballads is mostly Mitchell, Hamer, and their guitars. The stripped-down result, unsurprisingly, is an EP that warrants attention and multiple listens for the difficult work that it makes seem ever so easy—the unholy harmonies, the swift guitar lines, and the thoughtful interpretations that prove yearning and losing and loving are un-tethered by time and centuries. To pass up this record would be an egregious error.
Produced by Gary Paczosa Recorded at Minutia in Nashville, TN Mastered by Eric Boulanger at The Mastering Lab in Ojai, CA www.anaismitchell.com -Vincent Scarpa
The Black Apples Tales and Truths EP Los Angeles, CA (Self-released)
“A dose of psychedelic Motown surf” Dreamy, poppy indie rock. This EP is packed continued on 38 with catchy little melodies and APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 35
Paradise Rock Club – Boston, MA
review and photo by Candace McDuffie
February 15, 2013 Despite selling out the Paradise within days of his show being announced and constantly booking music festivals left and right, it would be expected that for his live show, Chaz Bundick’s ego would be wholly inescapable. His latest album, Anything In Return, is nothing short of a veritable castle of lush. It layers pillowy synths with abrasively distinctive sonics, making it an easy yet ridiculously fast listen. But his eagerness to please the crowd got the better of him on this particular evening. With openers Dog Bite and
Wild Belle to loosen up the crowd with their dramatic levity, the night was off to an impressively good start. Though Toro y Moi is the perfect definition of the genre chillwave, there was nothing chill about Bundick’s demeanor when he graced the stage. Armed with the decadent “Rose Quartz” as his opening number, audience members stood shoulder to shoulder - hard pressed to get a good spot. And what a sight he was: Bundick finessed his keyboard with ease as tunes “I Can Get Love”
and the sultry “So Many Details” infiltrated the air and were welcomed with receptive ears. Gems like “Elise” and “Harm In Change” were also nice additions to the set. As the performance came to a close, onlookers felt satisfied yet slightly insatiable: simply put -you can never have enough Toro.
Pillowy synths and decadence from chillwave pioneer.
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(Good To Die Records)
by Benjamin Ricci photo by Matt Koroulis
“ S l u d ge b o m bs m e l t t h i s wa x ” “PLAY THIS SHIT LOUD!” exclaims the sticker on the front of Deadkill’s new 7-inch. Like I always say, don’t bury the lead. Good To Die Records is quickly emerging as the go-to source for sludgy, riffy, hardcore punk with that unique Pacific Northwest flair. Deadkill’s debut slice of wax continues that tradition with aplomb. Aggressive, abrasive and full of killer headbang fodder, the 7-inch slamdances its way onto your turntable like a rabid wolverine. The disc opens with “Oh God Help You,” an apt title because after this dizzying, buzzsawinfused bombast, you might need a little help to get your head back on straight. That’s a compliment, by the way. Side A contains only one more
track, “5150,” while about as un-Van Halen as you can get, still lives up to its namesake police code. Side B’s cacophony begins with the Fugaziesque “Outta My Head,” quickly giving way to the closing track, “Rip Off.” All in all, this EP is a raucous, raw and wholly engaging effort from the Emerald City. Good To Die, please keep op livin’. Recorded at Cray Baby Studios by Justin Wilmore Mixed by William Klintburg Mastered by Levi Seitz at Black Belt Mastering Format: 7-inch Speed: 45 rpm Color: white vinyl
APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 37
harmonies. Those looking for a suitable match to the Flaming Lips and Fun. should pay this a visit (think a Wayne Coyne inspired voice coupled with the slicker production styling of Some Nights). The band describes their sound as “psychedelic Motown surf,” but for the most part doesn’t share too many resemblances with any of these genres (except for maybe a knack for guitar reverb). Black Apples is definitely a band worth noting, but arguably for what they may some day become as opposed to what they currently are. In its present state it feels like the band is still trying to find its collective voice. Currently Black Apples is catchy, poppy, and well-written; however, they will need to hone their energy a little better before they have something that lifts them above the other “Flaming Lips/Fun.” bands out their right now. The EP is good; time will tell what the LP, and therefore the future, has to offer. Produced and Mixed by Mark Rains at Station House Studio in Los Angeles Mastered by Ed Brooks at FRI Studios in Seattle, WA theblackapples.bandcamp.com -Ben Nine-K
Blake Rainey & His Demons Ambulance Alley Sessions Atlanta, GA (Two Sheds Records)
“Amazingly warm yet so naked, this is one of Rainey’s finest” Blake Rainey is no stranger to the Atlanta music scene. The Ambulance Alley Sessions, Rainey’s third solo release, could be called more of a snapshot of a specific time and place than a typical album. Recorded near Grady Memorial in the winter of 2005 in Atlanta’s historic Old Fourth Ward, The AA Sessions is an in-studio exploitation of Rainey’s emotionally pitch-perfect live performance skills: an of-the-moment, you-had-to-be-there evening recorded just before the songwriter’s other outfit, The Young Antiques, resurged from nowhere. The music is dark, introspective, decidedly homespun and utterly Americana - a blossoming of Rainey’s more acoustic side slowly starting to form. Interestingly, these recordings were shelved for 6 years - until now. The AA Sessions are five songs that flow through your ears like musical honey, starting with the bare-boned “Gun.” This song is exceptional considering it is only a faint guitar melody with the focus being Rainey’s rich vocals, drawing the listener in to the story. The album builds both with instrumentation and rhythm. “Sick Moon” starts off livelier, 38 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
yet it’s poetically heartbreaking. The addition of lap steel on “Cold Sunday Blues” is a perfect accompaniment for Rainey’s haunting lyrics. By the track “I Would Clean Up My Act For You,” Blake is joined with as much of a full band as is appropriate for this project. Produced by Blake Rainey Mixed by Jimmy Ether Mastered by Jimmy Ether www.twoshedsmusic.com/blakerainey -Lesley Daunt
Brown Bird Fits of Reason Providence, RI (Supply & Demand Music)
“Updated departure for Americana duo, complete with Middle Eastern vibes” Fits of Reason, the latest release from David Lamb and MorganEve Swain, who together make up Brown Bird, marks a significant departure from their last release Salt for Salt and an even greater leap from their 2010 debut The Devil Dancing. But there’s nothing missing from this album – it still showcases their rootsy influences in the strings and thumping upright bass. The record features Lamb’s characteristically dark and intellectual lyrics, and the harmonies that he shares with Swain are still haunting and lovely. What’s different is what’s been added: the electric guitar and bass are both prominently displayed, and Swain’s vocal presence is more pronounced on this release. A number of the songs also clearly feature a strong Middle Eastern influence, which is a marked difference from the past songs that were heavy on Americana and folk influences. The instrumentation and tempo can become a bit repetitive as the music goes on, and the two would have been better to break up the new sounds with more songs like the lovely “Abednego,” a short but sweet instrumental break that comes late in the album. But on the whole, while the album is definitely different from Brown Bird’s previous efforts, it still works beautifully. www.brownbird.net -Heidi Schmitt
The Cave Singers Naomi Seattle, WA Jagjaguwar Records
“A barrage of emotion driven by captivating PacNW alt-rock” Once again, Seattle’s captivating quartet, The Cave Singers, has created an album with a
driving force and humble simplicity. Naomi is a work about life and all the things that go along with it - love, understanding, redemption and pain. It is an album with meaning and one that the band took careful time, ten months to be exact, to craft. There is a haunting quality to the record that serves it well. The band has chosen to pair smooth and wistful harmonies with punk-inspired guitars and bass. Pete Quirk’s unfiltered and raw vocals are supported by expansive instrumentation and Morgan Henderson’s heavy bass lines. Moments of explosive energy and dreary introspection are highlighted through sophisticated lyricism and savvy composition. There is cohesion to the album, with each track acting like a new chapter in the story. “Have to Pretend” and “Canopy” are softer efforts comprised of cooing backing vocals and more flowing compositions. These are rivaled by darker musings with tracks like “It’s a Crime,” driven by grittier guitars and percussion. Naomi functions as a barrage of emotions. The band is unyielding in its mission to share all the angst and pain of life, but they do so with an odd beauty. This is the band’s fourth full-length album and while the feel-good moments may be few and far between, their capacity and skill as artists is as clear as ever. www.thecavesingers.com -Vanessa Bennett
Choirs Colors of Burning Bridges Pleasanton, CA (Self-released)
“East Bay band delivers anthemic vocals and smooth piano” Choirs, the East Bay California pop/rock band, have recently released their debut EP Colors of Burning Bridges. The six-track EP features a refreshing sound where piano meets guitar in the smoothest of ways, resulting in a timbre similar to that of The Fray or Maroon 5. The opener, “Write This Down,” gives the go-ahead to listeners to turn the speakers up and simply enjoy the tracks to follow. The song is upbeat, energetic and completely guitar-driven - layered with vocals that beg to be sung in an anthem-like manner. That familiar sound is also present on “Can’t Stop,” along with piano mixed with strong vocals. This track gets the listener hooked halfway through the EP, as all the sounds effortlessly come together as one. “Glow” gives recognition to the title of the EP throughout the chorus and effortlessly flows into the next song, “Illuminated.” It’s as if the two tracks were meant to be one continuous song. It will be interesting to see if the band would ever consider playing these two songs as one during continued on 43 live performances. The band is
review and photo by Candace McDuffie
TT The Bear’s – Cambridge, MA February 19, 2013
Even though Snowden hasn’t put out a record out in over six years, don’t let their hiatus mislead you: they are stronger musicians than ever. 2006’s Anti-Anti was one hell of a debut record. Its danceability was only outshined by its broiling lyricism - frontman Jordan Jeffares’ pen either served as a sword courageously battling through social atrocities or as a barometer for his own universal struggles. But when it comes to their live show, these two concepts merge perfectly for an expressive and engaging performance. Jeffares hasn’t forgotten how to powerfully dabble in political poesy, as “Counterfeit Rules” was delivered with complete calm. Throughout their set, which included “Between The Rent and Me” and “Filler Is Wasted,” it was nice to see a band gracefully pay homage to the album that put them on the
map instead of resenting it. No One In Control taps into the more calculated side of Snowden while still possessing the enigmatic spark of its predecessor. “The Beat Goes On” was well paced, as Jeffares let every word of the song linger on his tongue - building just the right amount of anticipation. His eyes were closed for almost the entire performance as he sensually gallivanted with his guitar as if he were rehearsing alone in his bedroom. Ending the set with “Anti-Anti” was a good choice: the cinematic bass line, the feverish energy and sleek vocals made a lasting impression on audience members. But quite frankly, we’ve always been impressed by the musings of Snowden.
Cinematic bass lines, feverish energy and sleek vocals.
APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 39
STONE COLD FOX,
review and photo by Candace McDuffie
BROKEN ANCHOR & Café 939 – Boston, MA February 16, 2013
BRANCHES HIG Café 939’s allure relies mainly on its intimacy; the small venue breeds community by bringing the city some of the most talented bands at really affordable prices. For this particular “Performer Presents” show, this concept was reiterated as members in the crowd sat - completely filling the room - to welcome California natives Broken Anchor. The duo’s collection of music, released in volumes over the course last year, was both overblown and underwritten and displayed their comfort with sharing hours worth of secrets. Their onstage attitude oozed treacle and sincerity, setting a nice platform for Branches (pictured) to arrive. Their roots-rock barnstop feeling was deceptively breezy and despite being thrown into the lineup at the last minute, was the exact connection needed to bridge the gap between the intense 40 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
energy of Broken Anchor to the fleeting sounds of Stone Cold Fox. The overall vibe and lilting melodies were dusty funk and twang, as Stone Cold Fox brought the evening in for a sweet and soft landing. Last year’s The Young EP was as modest and wholesome as it was infectious and fulfilling. Tracks like “American” and “Pictures” were celebrations of full-body throwdowns, as the crowd moved veritably with the strum of each single chord. Although all three bands may never play the same bill again, it was an honor to catch them while we could.
www.stonecoldfoxmusic.com brokenanchormusic.bandcamp.com www.branchesmusic.com
An intimate display of three disparate talents.
Beauty Bar - Las Vegas, NV / February 16, 2013 Foxygen cancelled last minute, cutting the show’s ticket by a third. The disappointment brought about from a fractured line-up was short lived and quickly forgotten by the time Ruban Nielson, Jacob Portrait, and Gregory Rogove took the stage. Better known collectively as Unknown Mortal Orchestra, their headlining performance at Beauty Bar in Las Vegas was calm and collected with bouts of animated excitement interspersed throughout. Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s self proclaimed genre of Psychedelic R&B is more than an interesting play on crossed music genres and
is overtly prevalent in their live sets. Songs like “Faded In The Morning” and “So Good At Being In Trouble” had that rough feel of rock and leather with the heart and soul of old school R&B. “How Can U Love Me” was by far the most genre-bending song of the evening and was the key to getting the crowd moving on a cold Vegas night. Nielson’s vocals hung in the frigid winter air as “From The Sun” and “No Need For A Leader” echoed inside, then out of the open patio venue. His pick-less playing style combined with an unperturbed stage presence, possibly brought about by his Big Gulp-sized tequila sunrise made
review and photo by Daniel Hills
the audience feel at ease and provided a strange sense of relaxation - a difficult felling to evoke when the venue’s temperature was hovering around 40 degrees. Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s set was soulful, passionate and warming. They put their heart into each cord that night and it came through in every song they played.
Soulful, psychedelic bouts of excitement.
MORTAL ORCHESTRA APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 41
WINTER WHITE TOUR
ZEDD House of Blues – Boston, MA / February 27, 2013 review and photo by Candace McDuffie
The expectations for any electronic show with multiple acts/DJs on the bill in Boston are usually the same: a shitload of glowsticks, flashing lights, mallrat ambience, and an enticingly narcotic haze are all you need to have a good time. And for Zedd’s sold-out Winter White Beantown stop, it was no different. Local DJ Bamboora was the first to start the night, and he had no problem getting the energy to flow. Amidst a sea full of grinding teenagers in tutus, Bamboora managed to keep the attention strictly on his music as he spun buoyant beats. Tommie Sunshine was up next, and like Bamboora, his demeanor was a little more intense as the sputtering breakbeats he dished out only fanned the fire of the spasmodic crowd. Alex Metric had a more synthy vibe, but it was clear that when he was in command of the stage he was completely enthralled in his technique and nothing else. Zedd (pictured) capped off the evening with a set for us to feast on for days, with everything from 2 Chainz to the Harlem Shake mashups in his arsenal. Everything from the man dressed in the polar bear suit to the half-naked dancers gyrating on stage to the frenzied concertgoers made for a memorable night— - chaos and all.
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Glowsticks, mallrat ambience and an enticingly narcotic haze.
Produced by Justin Fitch and Dustin Smith Recorded at Stillwater Studios in Concord, CA www.wearechoirs.com -Jillian Dennis-Skillings
Concrete Knives Be Your Own King Caen, France (Bella Union Records)
“Jittering guitars, up-tempo rhythms and staple indie rock attitude” Caen, France five-piece Concrete Knives have a sound that balances experimentally edgy and listenable dichotomies. Be Your Own King nods to the artful indie rock bannered by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Arctic Monkeys, where a glossy-production carries up-tempo, harmony-fronted rock anthems. Be Your Own King features singers Morgane Colas and Nicolas Delahaye, whose youthful call and response and joint-harmonization melds over choppy, stubborn verses. Instrumentation is guitar driven and nuanced by pulsing electronic flourishes and highly kinetic rhythms, a heartbeat to the dreamy color-wash. The single “Happy Mondays” is uncommon bliss and the album’s strongest. The song opens with a slow-building, circling guitar melody and drums, which gives way to Colas and Delahaye’s coy interplay, “In your mind, in your mind / you can’t taste the letters / in your mind / you speak everyday with numbers.” The song erupts into a shouting Arcade Fire choral, repeating, “There’s no happy Mondays.” Brimming with three-minute anthems, Be Your Own King has matchless sound and swims with listenability. Though too gritty, angular and hook-free to be considered a pop album, the release relishes in its unexpectedness and ensures the footing for releases to come.
The world is getting smaller, and it’s getting bigger, and it’s staying the same size. Flume has crystallized the new youth’s global social view into an album of bass-heavy tracks that swing as well rhythmically as they do emotionally. Drawing from artists such as Flying Lotus, Clams Casino, and Siriusmo, Flume varies between basing his songs around vocal samples and/or working with a guest vocalist. An R&B vocal sample anchors the hip-shaking robot soul of “Holdin On” while the single “Sleepless” (featuring Jezzabell Doran) will bob heads from one continent to another. Other vocal contributors include Chet Faker, Moon Holiday, George Maple, and MC T.Shirt. Few producers are as versatile and musically savvy as Flume proves himself to be, mixing textures and harmonies into his grooves that accent his vocalists, or samples, perfectly. This is an album that plays as well in the club as it does the morning after. A woman gently singing over a heavy bass line and drums that pull back against the beat, spacious synths that smother your emotions like a warm ocean while chopped and screwed samples stutter back and forth like a drunken martial artist: this is the sound of being young in 2013. Produced by Flume www.flumemusic.com -Garrett Frierson
Hollis Brown Ride On The Train (Alive Records)
Produced & Mixed by Adam Landry
Engineered by Jesse Pell Recorded at Playground Sound in Nashville
“Purveyor of digital youth culture, mixing textures and harmonies into his grooves”
Rinse, Repeat, Rewind Louisville, KY
“Rootsy Southern rock from Yankee swamp lovers”
Justin Paul Lewis
Take a ride from NYC to the Deep South for this blend of grit and pop music. Hollis Brown’s Ride On The Train is a rootsy collection that seems to ride on its own tracks. “The train ride” offers an honest style that takes you back to basics – showcasing the early classic rock styles of the 1970s. With a good approach, this recording contains a certain rawness and “nitty gritty” of diversity, giving you the feeling that it’s coming from the shadows of CCR to the recording sessions of Sticky Fingers. Ride On The Train has common consistency, which is pleasant and held together by the upbeat “Walk on Water,” and the best track, “Down on Your Luck.” While some numbers fall prey to predictability, this LP is still a fair ticket that will suit your mood for a laid back and gritty musical experience.
currently performing locally in California, but after listening to Colors of Burning Bridges, one can only hope that the group will be expanding their tour stops.
Mastered at Golden mastering, CA www.hollisbrown.com -Arthur Orfanos
(Tin Ear Records)
“Ben Sollee collaboration is a fusion of Americana & soul, driven with introspection and heart” Louisville native Justin Paul Lewis is releasing a new album, and it’s the stuff that legendary singer/songwriters are made of. Rinse, Repeat, Rewind is a four-track EP driven by intricate guitar chords and mesmerizing cello notes, courtesy of producer and fellow Kentuckian Ben Sollee. It moves through various genres with candid honesty and true craftsmanship. The album’s four tracks present a wide range of styles and sound. With palpable vulnerability comes “Salt.” Driven by the pairing of raw guitar progressions with soft and polished cello notes, it has a haunting atmosphere. The horn section on “Savannah” is not only surprising but also utterly enjoyable and it fuels the bluesy vibe and ambling harmony. “Support” is composed merely of simply plucked guitar chords and clapping backbeats while “Swim” exists in layers of sound and twangy, image rich notes. Rinse, Repeat, Rewind is a set of tales driven by an eclectic blend of continued on 44 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 43
instrumentation and styles that comes together to creJustin Paul ate something that is both Lewis cohesive and disconnected. (continued) Each track has its own respective voice, but put together they showcase of the power that simplicity can have. Justin Paul Lewis seems to be poised for greatness. Produced by Ben Sollee Recorded by Duane Lundy at Shangri-La Studios Mastered by Trevor Sadler at Mastermind Studios www.lewisliveshere.com -Vanessa Bennett
Magic Machines Press Start Los Angeles, CA (Electricolor Records)
“An ’80s-infused party anthem for the electro masses” Let’s face it, over-hyped house music is more prevalent than any electro enthusiast can stomach. Digging through all the SoundClouds, Facebook pages, and band websites in search of a good track, let alone a good album, can be like trying to find your soul mate in a sold out nightclub - it’s going to take all night and there’s little chance for success. Look no further, because Magic Machines’ latest release, Press Start, provides a patch of clarity in the world of dime-a-dozen DJs and auto-tuned overnight sensations. Tracks like “Up Down,” and “Rock Gods” remind listeners why they got into house music in the first place: consumable party tunes with inoffensive bass drops that make you want to get up and dance. Interspersed throughout the album are heavy-hitting club bangers that are the reason house fans spend hours digging through the underbelly of the Internet in search of great new producers. Tracks like “I Live in Sopi,” “Mnml Dsco,” and “Hey Mister” are reminiscent of Daft Punk circa 2005, hard enough for the house veterans but catchy enough to attract fresh listeners. Produced by Derrick Villaverde www.magicmachinesmusic.com -Daniel Hills
Mia Dyson The Moment Los Angeles, CA (Black Door Records)
“Journey into the depths of life’s uncertainties with an impassioned, whiskey-tinged voice” Will you know what to do when the moment comes? In the words of Melbourne-turned-Los 44 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Angeles songstress, Mia Dyson, “You will,” a comforting sentiment and the recoccuring theme of her fourth record, The Moment, bestcharacterized as a career-defining event of multidimensional, epic proportions – the hallmark of a dedicated artist in her prime, and one who is essentially attempting to convince listeners to relinquish their desire for control. The husky-voiced Dyson is unabashedly brazen in her approach, a character attribute that only serves to contribute to both the album’s believability and brilliance. From the aforementioned opener, the hookladen and shout-from-the-rooftops-anthem, “When the Moment Comes,” to the sensual, Fiona Apple-esque “Fill Yourself,” the heart-wrenching “Jesse,” dedicated to the mothers and children who haven’t met, and the standout track, “Cigarettes” in which Dyson, in full-on heart-on-sleeve-mode croons: “You started a mighty fire / throwing colors, bearing light / It burned bright in my eyes / I had to look away / and I wonder if I ever cross your mind / I wonder if you ever miss that time.” The Moment puts Dyson in the same league as the great Melissa Etheridge and Bonnie Raitt. It goes down smooth, and pleasantly lingers in hearts and minds long after the record’s over. Produced by Erin “Syd” Sidney and Patrick Cupples for the Co-op Engineered by Jason Mariani at Brotheryn in Ojai, CA Mixed by Patrick Cupples and Jason Mariani Executive Producer: Geoff Irwin www.miadyson.com -Julia R. DeStefano
Mudhoney Vanishing Point Seattle, WA (Sub Pop)
intimate settings, dingy basements, short runs, low expectations…wait I’m not done.” www.subpop.com/artists/mudhoney -Ben Nine-K
Pearl Necklace Soft Opening Brooklyn, NY (Smalltown Supersound)
“Mild-mannered odyssey through field recordings, old records, and live synths” Imagine putting all the cassette tapes in Brooklyn into an oven and melting them down into a hot goo. Now pour that musical liquid over a spinning LP of rare 1978 Hawaiian disco cuts while listening to a light rainfall outside your open window. That’s the feeling of listening to Pearl Necklace. Soft Opening a mild-mannered odyssey through field recordings, old records, and live synthesizers, all blended together through the wonderfully dirty processing of a classic MPC. The album introduces us to the Brooklyn duo gently, warming the ears with “Another Invocation of Breath,” playing a soft fluty synth loop through all manner of crackles, pops, and the gentle sound of a someone repeatedly breathing in as glockenspiels twiddle softly in the background. ARP joins the duo on several songs and helps them hold a more recognizable groove beneath the layers of sound, giving the album an ebb and flow of rhythm that can make a head start nodding along before its owner realizes what’s happened. Soft Opening envelops listeners in its lo-fi world of samples and found sounds, and is a refreshing breath of originality in our saturated music market. Produced & Recorded by Pearl Necklace www.facebook.com/prlncklc
“The originals never go out of style” Good news to those who unironically still own cassette players, Mudhoney has a new record out. For a band that’s been putting out full-lengths fairly consistently since 1989, what really is there to say? Mudhoney can still rock with the best of them. For those unfamiliar, Mudhoney is the grunge band from Seattle that defined the town’s sound before there was such thing as a “grunge band from Seattle.” Their latest effort, Vanishing Point, is ten tracks of Mudhoney goodness. Lead-vocalist Mark Arm’s vocals are a little rawer sounding than on previous albums, but in some ways this feels like the group’s way of aging gracefully. The band of 40-somethings on Sub Pop are comfortable with who they are. Mudhoney is going to keep making records. They will, probably, always be cool dudes. For those who need further instruction, please refer to this line from track 2 of their new album; “minimal production, low yield,
The Rescues Blah Blah Love and War Los Angeles, CA (Red Wind Records)
“Sunny rock ‘n roll with male/female harmonies and a ’90s alt core” Fun-loving carefree rock always has a hand in pop culture. If LA’s The Rescues offer any prophecy, proficient up-tempo alternative pop (think late 1990s) is finding its way back into our lives. Highproduction songwriting with bold hooks, clear vocals and strummy acoustic-centered verse/chorus structures are the Rescues’ bailiwick. Originally formed in 2008, the four songwriters (who’ve worked with acts like the Rolling
Water On Mars
The Best Of…
New York, NY
Genre: Noise Rock
Genre: Delta Blues
Stones, Alanis Morissette and Sting) created a gratifyingly fun-loving third full-length. Blah Blah Love and War is brimming with heartfelt lyrics, glowing acoustic guitars, deep resonating drums and the best vocal interplay since Mates of State’s Team Boo. Songs like “Be My Cure” and “Everything’s Gonna Be Better Next Year” have widespread appeal and are poised for Top 40 fame. The former track thumps with bombastic rhythm while soothed by female and male harmonization; the latter is the kind of song that becomes a sensation: simple, catchy and highly memorable. “Everything’s Gonna Be Better Next Year” will be a New Years Eve party hallmark. Blah Blah Love and War is an invigorating release, showcasing what terrifically skilled musicians and a love for alternative pop can manifest, and is recommended for listeners pining for an alternative rebirth.
with occasional electric guitar parts while steady, bouncy rhythms move within a mid-to-high tempo range. These musical qualities caused Sonen to be voted “best electronic act in Atlanta” by local publication Creative Loafing. On most songs, Keith Evans sings tenor lead in a calm, clear, controlled manner while Holly Mullinax’s strong alto to soprano vocal range creates overlays of an aesthetic nature, but on “Ice Planet,” roles reverse. “Let It Go” is a duet in the classic sense, where the two singers share vocals in a conversational, echoing manner as Evans expresses intense intent to start a quick relationship. “Arpline” displays Mullinax’s wide vocal range individually as the sensuality brings back memories of disco songs such as Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” as the music pulsates while adding Radiohead-like seventh chord guitar riffs.
begging you to question more / There’s nothing to me,” sings this seasoned songsmith, full of vulnerable honesty. “Hardwired” features more of the record’s gorgeous production and glorious full band sound. Also present here in track four are beautifully lush harmonies that bloom with ease. “I’m hardwired to be here with you / I know you are too,” she sings with conviction, as the horns decorate the room. “Natural Progression” is a heavenly tour de force of vocals and percussion, with more ingeniously poetic statements. Words to Break Your Heart is a stunning piece of great singer/songwriter art recorded with the aid of producer Mike Davidson. More songs await the listeners, who won’t be disappointed, if one is looking for a joyful work of music.
Produced by Keith Evans, Mixed by Keith Evans and
New Alliance East
Recorded by Rob Giles and Gabriel Mann
Dale Adams, Mastered by Rodney Mills
Mixed at Red Razor Sounds by Billy Bush
-Shawn M. Haney
Mastered at the Lodge by Emily Lazar and Joe LaPorta
Produced by Mike Davidson at Zippah Recording Mastered by Nick Zampiello and Rob Gonnella at
Produced by Rob Giles www.therescues.com
Words to Break Your Heart Boston, MA
Inside The Sun
Atlanta, GA (Hidden Muscle Music)
“Strong, complex debut from ATL’s best electro band” Sonen’s debut album contains electro-pop songs that are undeniably catchy and hypnotic, creative and attractive, and over the course of Inside The Sun, become progressively stronger and more complex while evoking feelings of beauty, mystery and intrigue. Styles range from ’80s-influenced danceable pop to Goth electronica to neo-disco. Sounds vary from simple piano to keyboard and drum layers
“Joyful, amiable indie singer/songwriter melodies” Steph Barrak is a talented singer/songwriter who opens up an eleven-song triumph with a bang in “Connecticut.” The song is amiable and full of life, enduring in emotional pull. “I know you like when we were little kids” she sings with cheerful vocals, decorated with gleeful Hammond B3 organs, and riveting fast drums and bass. “Painted Face” contains more lush keys and strings, complete with the charming touch of acoustic guitars and Barrak’s sultry vocals. “I’m begging you to see right through me / Yes, I’m APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 45
Make Real Money in Virtual Reality
Get a Second Career in Second Life
ABOUT THE AUTHOR 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 email@example.com. 46 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
I spoke recently with musician Seth Regan, whose online avatar Mankind Tracer is one of the most popular virtual performers in Second Life. Second Life is an online virtual world started in 2003, which currently has over 20 million registered accounts and averages about 50,000 concurrent online players (called “Residents”) who play the game through avatars that they individually design and name. Once in the gigantic virtual world of SL, players can do pretty much anything you can do in real life, like socialize with other people and spend virtual money, with the additional benefits of being able to fly, transport anywhere instantly and the ability to build virtual real estate and have virtual sex. Regan has been able to do something in SL that most performing musicians would love to do – no, not having virtual sex onstage. Since 2006, when Regan joined SL, he has performed hundreds of live shows within SL, in front of thousands of online players. Seth books himself in online venues within the game and then by streaming performances from his home, fans can enjoy his concerts where they see his animated avatar Mankind Tracer (which looks a lot like Regan) playing his acoustic guitar and singing on a virtual stage. More recently, he has performed using a live video stream while he plays at a real life venue, so that online fans can actually see him perform live within the virtual world. There are some drawbacks to performing this way; for instance, after a song is over there is a lag of about 10 seconds before “applause” from the audience comes in the form of text messages on the performer’s screen, but as Regan explains, these limitations are far outweighed by the positives that a virtual tour provide. You still have to book yourself in a venue in SL if you want to have a chance at playing in front of a crowd of people, but some venues will actually pay you to perform. You don’t have to lug any gear and best of all - you don’t have to buy any gas! And you can play in front of audiences from
around the world all while still wearing your bathrobe! Want to play a gig in Japan? Then book yourself in a Japanese “sim” area venue and remember that to go onstage at 10 pm in Japan means you’ll need to get up early in the morning if you live in New York. You can even sell merch at your shows, like virtual custom designed clothing that players pay for with virtual money (called Linden dollars) or with links to your website and iTunes pages where fans can buy your stuff with good old fashioned greenbacks. And after performing a song set, Regan regularly gets positive messages written to him from people around the world – currently he has over 2,500 fans in his online “group.” Although Regan’s performances are usually seen by 50–100 fans per show, he has been able to arrange multi-venue shows within SL to audiences of up to 3,000 people. In fact, Regan’s fans like him so much, that in recent years they have twice paid to fly him to Amsterdam so that he could perform live before patrons from over 20 countries that came to see him. There are also groups of Second Life players that regularly get together in different cities around the world to see their favorite Second Life artists perform live and in person. So how do you get started playing your music in this virtual world? As Regan will be the first to point out, Second Life can be a lt like real life. Don’t expect to just stroll into Virtualville and become an over night sensation. There is a lot of musical competition in Second Life and many of the same rules apply that you’d expect. In the beginning, don’t be surprised if you are playing for tips at virtual dives with very few people in attendance. There is a learning curve and it can take a while to get the hang of what works and what doesn’t. You still have to have the songwriting and musical chops, but if you hone your craft and persevere, you could find yourself sitting in your living room someday soon playing sold out shows. Performers interested in perhaps a “second career” in SL should visit Mankind Tracer at www.sethregan.com. There you can check out Mankind Tracer’s music and videos of his virtual performances within the game. Regan also offers his services as a virtual manager within Second Life to help guide artists through the maze of confusion.
An Open Letter to the Music Industry
It is a dynamic time in our industry; it is a time of experimentation and transformation of many of the models which have generated revenue for recorded music and for music publishing, impacting songwriters, composers, publishers, artists and labels alike. Throughout BMI’s nearly 75 years of representing writers and publishers, we have seen many challenges and opportunities to secure reliable and fair compensation for the creators of music. We have navigated through changing markets and the development of new outlets for the performance of music and created solutions [that] add value to the marketplace. Recent articles in the trade and consumer press have covered the withdrawal of catalogs from performing rights organizations by music publishers for certain digital uses. These issues are complex, and I wanted to take a minute to clarify the positions and policies BMI has formulated to address this development. Some BMI publishers have stated in the press that the main driver in their desire to withdraw their works for specific digital uses is to set their own pricing. Publishers have always had the right to directly license. In the case of withdrawal, they believe they may obtain higher royalty rates from this market if they negotiate their own agreements outside of BMI’s regulatory framework. By withdrawing works from BMI, publishers become the only entities that can license those works and therefore can deny permission to perform their works if they do not come to agreement on rates and terms. By contrast, BMI, under its Consent Decree, is required to automatically issue a license upon a request from a licensee, and if the parties are not able to negotiate a fee after a period of time, either party can initiate a ratesetting proceeding. The press has recently quoted sources stating that, by working outside of the major PROs’ regulatory framework, Sony/ATV was able to increase their fees from Pandora by 25% versus the current rates of U.S. Performing Rights Organizations. In 2011 we agreed to modify our contract with EMI Music Publishing and last year we agreed to similar modifications with Sony/ATV. As a result, as of January 1, 2013 the Sony/ATV and EMI catalogs have been withdrawn from the BMI repertoire only for limited digital uses. You can find a definition of these uses at www.bmi.com/drw. The withdrawal only impacts the shares of compositions actually owned or controlled by Sony/ ATV and EMI. The withdrawal does not cover all digital uses and BMI will continue to license the Sony/ATV and EMI repertoires across most digital platforms and services. As a result, in some
BMI on Rights Withdrawal
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Del R. Bryant is President & Chief Executive Officer of BMI, the American performing rights organization. He is Chairman of the Board of FastTrack and a member of the CISAC Board of Directors.
cases the same licensee will have to secure both a blanket license for shares of songs represented by BMI and a separate license from Sony/ATV and EMI for their respective shares of publiclyperformed musical works. BMI will continue to license on behalf of our other major and independent publishers for all shares of all works in our repertoire for all digital uses. Publishers who wish to follow similar withdrawal terms will be allowed to modify their existing agreements at the end of their contract or, if they have multiple contracts, at the weighted average term date of all those agreements. In the event that additional publishers withdraw, we will post the names of these publishers in the New Media section of bmi.com at www.bmi.com/drw. Preexisting licenses (“licenses in effect”) will include all repertoire until BMI’s agreement with the licensee expires. BMI will maintain its right to continue to enter into going-forward licenses for all digital uses until the works are actually withdrawn for such uses from BMI’s repertoire. In conjunction with our modified publishing agreements, we entered into a new business relationship under which BMI will provide royalty processing and distribution services to Sony/ATV and EMI. Under the administrative agreement, BMI will distribute royalties to songwriters and publishers resulting from Sony/ ATV and EMI’s negotiations. These agreements are BMI’s first entry into offering these types of administrative services and we believe this is
one of many opportunities for our organization to provide additional value to our affiliates in today’s dynamic market. While certainly complex, we see these recent developments as a clear marketplace signal of the enhanced value music brings to the digital world and beyond. We are working diligently to make that value a reality not just for large multinational music companies, but for ALL songwriters, ALL composers and ALL music publishers. We have already cited these marketplace agreements in our negotiations with our licensees and we will encourage our Rate Court to consider them as a new indicator of market value. We are also working in Washington to seek a change to current law to allow us to bring the rates set by the Copyright Royalty Judges for public performances in sound recordings under Section 114 of the U.S. Copyright Law into evidence in BMI rate proceedings for consideration as rate benchmarks. While recent developments may have added complexity to an already complex rights landscape, we see opportunity. We see an opportunity to level the digital playing field and to allow the courts to consider all precedents across the digital spectrum. We see an opportunity to value performances of musical works fairly when compared to performances of sound recordings. We see opportunities for BMI to provide additional administrative services and add value to the markets we serve. All the while we remain dedicated to serving our constituents: songwriters, composers, music publishers and our licensees. APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 47
A Look at the BMG Chrysalis Master Model
Forget a Record Deal, Get a Rights Management Deal
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development.
If you are a frequent reader of this column, you know that I have strong opinions on signing to major label. Specifically, I’m adamantly against it (for many reasons) in most circumstances. Yet, in survey after survey, we see results that as many as 75% of independent musicians still want a major label record deal. I’m here to tell you that you will not get a record deal, and what’s more, you do not want one. Further, many artists may not fully understand what a “record deal” actually is in today’s music business, outside of the fairytale, back-of-theclub signings you’ve heard of. So let’s unpack what you really want and how to get there. First, a “record deal” is no longer just about recording songs; in truth, it never was. Record deals are really about controlling copyrights, collecting and dispersing royalties, and exclusive distribution. There used to be “traditional” deals, where the full band was signed to a label, and then songwriters signed to publishers. Then there was the Promotion/Press and Distribution (P&D) deal, where a label would take your finished album, “press” it and release it while also marketing it to radio and retail outlets. And then there is the rarified 360 deal. A very basic definition is of this deal is the record company, management, and subsidiary publisher end up controlling and taking a piece of the entirety of your revenue streams (recordings, publishing, licensing, touring, merchandise, public persona, story rights, etc.) all the way around… hence “360 (degrees).” As a music publisher and songwriter, I’ve been horrified by this money grab of increasingly more of your intellectual property for exploitation. The financial trade off is not beneficial in most cases, and this is all going to be a mess legally long-term. Traditional deals, which basically bribed artists of their intellectual property with 48 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
mismatched advances in exchange for hearing themselves on the radio, are basically gone; and good riddance, I say! 360s are really for mega pop stars who want to open nightclubs and launch clothing lines in addition to dance remixes. P&D deals were really hard to work, because you were stuck with a fixed album, and there was little participation in licensing and ancillary income. For those who want to release great music, what is it that compels you to want a deal? It’s resources. Money is part of that, but also being able to work with better people, experienced professional guidance, and some help with distribution and marketing. When artists say they want a record deal, I’m fairly sure they do not mean that they would like to give up creative control of their image. Most likely they do not really want to be told where and when they can and can’t play a live show, and for what minimum rate. I’m also betting they do not mean that they want cede creative control over what songs make it to the studio, or what person produces them, or how they will be marketed. What you really want is a Rights Management Deal. Enter BMG Chrysalis (U.S.) and their Master Model. BMG has long been one of the top five music publishers in the world and, having worked with them on licensing, I can tell you they are technologically superior in tracking and royalty distribution. BMG is really an artists services company that is not as interested in breaking stars as they are in sustaining long careers. The Master Model is a fresh spin on the old P&D deal. It’s simple and fair. Rather than a takeover of rights, BMG offers the artist a partnership: The opportunity to construct a realistic budget for the release, which BMG bankrolls. BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch recently said, “Developing a strong catalog of master
“WE SEE A LOT OF OPPORTUNITY IN THE MARKET AND ARE NOW ACCELERATING OUR INVESTMENT.” -BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch
recordings has formed part of our plan since BMG was founded in 2008. Wesee a lot of opportunity in the market and are now accelerating our investment.” BMG does not pay traditional advances to artists. Instead it agrees on a realistic project budget with the artist and releases money for manufacturing, marketing and promotion, which is then recouped according to the agreed revenue split. Every deal is different, but most of these splits have ranged from 70-75% to the artist, 20-25% to BMG, with the proviso that 75% of the agreed costs come out of the artist’s share first. Those kinds of terms are unheard of in today’s market. Masuch added, “The beauty of our Masters Model is that because it is based on a mutually agreed upon budget with the artist, it can operate at virtually any level of sales.” So stop with the record deal talk, that’s so last century! Everybody knows Rights Management Deals are the new thing. Maybe you’re next?
Stealing Your Way Up The Charts
The website www.ThatSongSoundsLike. com is dedicated to one mission: placing similar sounding audio clips from well-known artists side-by-side. With hundreds of submissions posted over six years, it’s a staggering collection that has musicians wondering whether their music is safe in the market place. It has others asking, “Just how much music can I take before getting slapped with a copyright suit?” The answer is not as clear as you might imagine. This month’s Legal Pad dives into copyright, stealing, and inspiration in today’s music industry.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Adam Barnosky is a Boston-based attorney and writer. For industry trends, legal updates, or to request an upcoming Legal Pad topic, find him on Twitter at @adambarnosky.
Love & Theft:
The information con-
Copyrights Protect Your Music The United States Copyright Code defines infringement, in part, as “[a]nyone who violates any of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner.” Exclusive rights are the rights to claim authorship of that work, the right to distribute to the public, and the right to prevent the use of his or her name as the author of any work of visual art that he or she did not create, among others. Copyright protection exists in original works of authorship for the life of the author plus seventy years (if the work was created after Jan. 1, 1978). Some Music Sounds Alike Could someone really own the copyright to the chord progression G-D-C in 4/4 time? Aren’t there simply too few combinations to make pop music copyrights practical? A line that is quoted often as defense to infringement comes from a judge who penned the 1983 opinion in Selle v. Gibb, and details this question succinctly: “Simple, trite themes are likely to occur spontaneously and only few suit the infantile demands of the popular ear.” The A.V. Club recently dug into the same topic: “It’s no secret that popular music is filled with similar-sounding chord progressions, riffs, and beats; a finite number of notes extended over an infinite number of songs is bound to result in some doubling, especially when certain combinations sound so much better than others.” However, simply because many songs sound alike does not mean artists are free from conflict, even when there was little intention to steal. It is not uncommon for the alleged infringement to stem from what was – for the artist – only a moment of divine inspiration. There are times where components of a song are so reminiscent of another that infringement is easily discernable (see George Harrison’s 1970 hit “My Sweet Lord” and the Chiffon’s 1962 classic “He’s So
tained in this column is general legal information only and should not be taken as a comprehensive guide to copyright law. Consult your attorney for all specific considerations.
Fine”). There are also times when infringement is less axiomatic. In a third set of circumstances, infringement, while easily identified, is never litigated (see Killing Joke’s 1984 song “Eighties” and Nirvana’s “Come As You Are”). So where is the line drawn between “inspiration” and “infringement”? And as an artist, how do you know when the line has been crossed? Anatomy of a Song There are some parts of a song that are “copyrightable,” while others are not. While the complexities of the Copyright Code are vast, here are some general rules of thumb to avoid infringing on the exclusive rights of a copyright owner: Song Titles Generally, song titles are not copyrightable, due to a lack of expression (different songs entitled “I Miss You,” for example, have been recorded by over a dozen artists). Be cautious, however, of naming your composition after a creative or uniquely famous song title, as this may be grounds for infringement. Melody Absolutely copyrightable. However, some songs simply sound alike. Lyrics Copyrightable, but this depends on creativity and uniqueness. (The lyric “I love you” is likely
not copyrightable, where the phrase “Picture yourself in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies” certainly is). Sampling Illegal without authorization, for now. The industry is loosening its restrictions and while many artists are operating without legal threat from record companies (i.e. Girl Talk), some artists continue to find themselves under fire (i.e. Danger Mouse’s Grey Album). Harmonies, Bass Lines, & Drum Beats Copyrightable, except when they’re not. Like lyrics, this depends on the degree of creativity, uniqueness, placement within the song, and other components. How to Protect Your Music & Creative Process First off, don’t steal. An artist needs to walk the fine line between inspiration and infringement. Infringement can include hefty civil damages, fines, and imprisonment. Secondly, protect your creative output. Have your work filed with the United States Copyright Office. While registration is not a condition for copyright protection, it is important to note that (1) you may not sue for infringement until a work has been registered, and (2) a work must be registered prior to the infringing acts in order to receive statutory damages.
APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 49
Got a favorite instrument you’d like to share?
photo by Mario Panebianco
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
my FAVORITE AXE
I’m the bass player for Atlanta-based electrofuturists Attention System.
CUSTOM MODS MAKE AND MODEL
2008 Rickenbacker 4003 Jetglo Bass. WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU
It means I’m forced to stay reasonably sober until it’s safely back in the van!
with CHRIS EDMONDS OF ATTENTION SYSTEM
can be triggered by phone app in case of theft. Now I should probably buy a smart phone.
I boost the output signal to get it a little hotter. I’ve also changed strings from nickel to stainless steel, which gives it a little more bite. The rest of the guitar is just like Rickenbacker intended: perfect. OTHER NOTES
WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE
The bass has great clarity and punch for each individual note. There’s a distinct, metallic “clink” at the point of initial attack, but it levels off and gets warm during the notes’ sustain. I usually describe the tone as “dirtyclean.”
Compared to modern bass designs, this guitar handles like a tank. It really takes a minute to get control of it; don’t get discouraged at first - it’s worth it! LISTEN NOW WWW.SOUNDCLOUD.COM/ATTENTION-SYSTEM
I’ve recently installed a self-destruct feature that 50 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
One fundamental question we get asked frequently in the studio is whether to record a band live or to record each instrument separately. Tracking one instrument at a time allows for perfect isolation and the ability to focus everyone’s attention on getting that part recorded perfectly. So why not build every song this way? Why not have the drummer play to a click track, then lay each instrument over that separately until you’re done? Well, hang on – we kinda do that in the studio, but not exactly. We strongly recommend in a typical band situation (drums, bass, guitar, keys and vocals), that the rhythm section record live together - including a scratch vocal take from the singer. We do it this way because bands are used to performing together and we aim to capture great performances. Share a Room Here at Night Train Studios, even though we have four iso rooms, we have learned that it often works best to have the drummer and bassist share the same room. These two are the rhythmic core of the band and even though they are wearing headphones with individual mixes, bassists often perform better when they can also “feel” the drums during a take. If the drummer is able to play to a click (and in our experience, very few are) we can feed a click track into just his/her headphone mix, which will help keep the band in time and makes for cleaner overdubbing later on. In other iso rooms we’ll setup the guitarist and keyboardist with their own headphone mixes and good sightlines to the bass/drum room. If everything goes well, after a take or two we’ll have captured all the rhythm instruments performing live together. After everyone comes back into the control room and we pick the “keeper” take, we can then fix any mistakes. Flubbed bass, guitar or keyboard notes are relatively easy to fix. Once identified, the musician goes back into the iso room and before any mics have been moved or amp settings changed, they play along to the section with the mistake and overdub the corrected part. Fix the Sticks Fixing drums is a different story. They are the backbone of the song and because any flubs are picked up by multiple microphones, it is very difficult and time consuming to fix the performance
Part 1 of 2
Full Band Takes vs. Individual Tracking
ABOUT THE AUTHORS 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 email@example.com. Brent Godin is a bassist/guitarist and engineer/producer at Night Train Studios. He is also a talent scout at Black Cloud Productions. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. digitally. If the drummer hasn’t “nailed it” after about two or three takes, we worry about the performance becoming stale, so if we have identified isolated drum/timing mistakes, we typically have three options: 1) Do another take from the top (but now the drummer is extra nervous and more likely to be tense) 2) If it was a flubbed drum roll or transition, the drummer can overdub that part only or 3) Have the band go back in and record starting from the flubbed part until the end of the song. It is very important to fix any drum mistakes before moving on to your other overdubs. Any awkwardness in the rhythm of a track can throw off your other overdubs later, and you don’t want to end up spending entire subsequent sessions working on past drum mistakes (we speak from experience here!). Overdubs: Horn Sections Once we have captured a great rhythm performance, we now have what is analogous to a well-built building foundation – solid, well designed, square and plumb. From here we can focus on individual performances – layered rhythm guitar overdubs, guitar solos, lead vocals, backing vocals, horns, percussion, etc. That said,
there are still times when capturing more than one performance simultaneously is the way to go. For instance, horn sections, vocal harmonies and string arrangements fit into this category. While it is easy enough to record these instruments individually, these performers are accustomed to playing with one another and you can get some strange results if you don’t do it together. Take a typical horn section; say tenor sax, trumpet and trombone. The simplest way to capture their overdub performance might be to set up the players in a room with two microphones in a stereo X-Y or mid-side configuration and hit record. But what if the trumpet is too loud? You can try moving the trumpet player back further, but this usually causes more problems than it solves. At this point you could ditch the stereo mics and individually mic each player. But what if the sax player is a bit sloppy on his timing? We’ll usually go to Plan B at this point. Putting each player in a separate room with their own mics gives you the best of both worlds – isolation so you can fix things later and adjust levels independently – with the benefit of everyone hearing what they’re used to hearing while playing live. [Editor’s note – read Part 2 in the next print issue and online at performermag.com] APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 51
In The Studio (sort of) with ATTENTION SYSTEM
DIY Engineering in a Custom Mobile Rig interview by Benjamin Ricci / photos by Ken Falcon
key gear Various microphones Orange Amps Vox Amps Gallien-Krueger Amps Roland V-Drums Tama Drums Avid Audio Interfaces (Digi002, various MBoxes) Gibson Guitars Rickenbacker Guitars Rode Microphones Sennheiser Microphones
Attention System Album Name: TBD Mobile Studio: Get It Get It Laboratories Record Label: Self-released Release Date: Summer 2013 Produced and Mastered by: the Pull Out Kings Engineered by: Attention System
52 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
PRE-PRODUCTION What was your pre-production like on this project?
This record was very different for us; weâ€™re all technophiles, so we decided to pull out of the big studio zeitgeist and do some mobile DIY audio engineering in weird places. So the pre- was probably the most difficult part to intellectualize. We did the entirety of the record in Pro Tools, so all the standard pre-pro stuff had to be done on the computer (the track planning, plug-ins, session building and all that), and weâ€™d map out a method for recording each instrument in odd ways.
Why use a mobile studio?
Well, we wanted to do some weird stuff that would have been insanely expensive or down right impossible in a traditional studio environment, so we created a mobile rig and named it after a lyric in one of our tunes: Get It Get It Laboratories. If you cannot buy it, you build it!
What kind of sound were you looking for and how did you achieve it?
From a guitarist’s perspective, the biggest thing we were looking for was more of a live quality to the guitars. Our first record was very antiseptic; we used isolation booths heavily. I don’t think any of us actually played in the same room with our amps, and thus lost a degree of control in the fingers. The idea with this record was to get right in the middle of a ton of our live gear, put microphones up and see what came out. Sometimes you get feedbackfilled noisy, unusable material; sometimes you get a really great, controlled track. From there, we did a simple set of blends and deletions on the tracks and mixed them down for stems.
How does it compare to your last release in terms of style and the creative process?
This is totally different. With the first record, we had parts and a plan. We drove to the studio. We drove the instruments. The product was delivered. This time around, we were able not only to play around with aural reality a little, but we had the freedom to actually fiddle with specific parts on the fly. One example: Jason had a great idea for a drum fill in one of our tunes, “Incoming,” that involved a set of sixes. It wasn’t in the tune originally, but the freedom of having a DIY setup allowed us to change the drums, guitars and synth programming on the fly within a couple of hours. Everyone loved the idea, so into the final mix it goes. That would not have been possible with a by-the-hour engineer at the helm - you get bloated so quickly that it becomes
Did you use any special gear or recording techniques on this one?
We built these massive four-amp systems and tried out a whole bunch of microphones in weird places to get the basic guitar sounds. Not your standard stuff at all. I think at one point we had an Orange 30-watt combo feeding a 12” and a 15” cab, two Vox AC30s running in stereo, and an Orange quarter stack…all pumping one guitar. Each amp had a couple microphones (front and back), and we’d kind of scatter more mics around the room. So, you record a take and have a listen and see what you picked up. It was a bit of a treasure hunt. If you strike gold, you write down the configuration and cut all the fat. The bass guitar was done in a pretty standard way: a couple microphones and a DI. We’d double a lot of those tracks and send them through a SansAMP plug-in to get some grit. The drums were strange. We have a set of very well-recorded samples of the drum kit we all liked in the filestore, so we decided to go the MIDI route. We used a Franken-kit of MIDI pads. Jason played the parts, and we’d go back in and do micro-edits to get some of the weird stuff right, and map the samples of his acoustic kit right to the MIDI track. Sometimes you get a great, transparent track. Others, we’d mix between programmed electro drums and the acoustic stuff. All in all, we had a great degree of freedom.
What was your philosophy on live, fullband takes versus individual tracking?
We did no full-band tracks by express, prethought out choice. Our music is designed to sound cut-up, fiddled with, squished, mashed, tortured. It is totally impossible to get some of the takes we ended up keeping in a live setting. That’s the fun of it! You get into this playground of “what-ifs,” and there are a whole lot of rabbit holes to explore. The process is time-intensive for sure, but the Albini method simply wouldn’t work for us.
What did you try to accomplish in the studio that you’re not able to do live?
We really wanted to emphasize the stereo field in this recording. Our last record was very much a left-right-center affair (which has a whole lot of pros, don’t get me wrong). When we’re playing clubs with mono PA systems night after night, we wanted to tickle the ears a little differently. Of course, we still strip the material down slightly, recalibrate the synth tracks and subtly change the way we run things for live shows.
What were the toughest challenges you faced?
I think anyone that makes a DIY record will tell you the same thing: we wasted too much damn time. Decisions are tough to come by when you’re in that situation - no one is the boss. We recorded the last record in three days; this one took eight months.
“THE IDEA WITH THIS RECORD WAS TO GET RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF A TON OF OUR LIVE GEAR, PUT MICROPHONES UP AND SEE WHAT CAME OUT.”
POST-PRODUCTION How did you handle final mixing and mastering?
We bounced tracks for each individual’s parts down into stereo stems (with a little leeway; we didn’t want to be quite so militaristic as we were with the last record) and delivered them to a wonderful duo called the Pull Out Kings: Zach Solem and Greg Steward. From there, the PKs would mix and produce as they saw fit and send the tracks back. We’d make corrections and suggestions on these big matrices that I built, and send those back. As soon as the production was spot on, the PKs would mix the songs and we’d get an un-mastered final. All the stereo bounces have gone into a big
session for mastering, and there we are. The interesting thing was that nearly nothing was done face-to-face. We wanted to hear what the Pull Out Kings thought was important and what wasn’t. We wanted them to take this giant sea of material and distill it into a nice, consumable glass of water for us. They nailed it.
What are your release plans?
We’ll release the record in the summer with both physical and digital distribution. We’ve been talking about a couple of ideas involving limited runs with some bonus stuff: stay tuned!
HAVE A UNIQUE STUDIO STORY TO SHARE? EMAIL EDITORIAL@PERFORMERMAG.COM APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 53
TC ELECTRONIC BG250 Bass Combo with TonePrint – $399
FEATURES Type: Solid State Number of Channels: 1 Power: 250 Watts @ 4 ohms
Über light, great sound, smart phone app for new FX.
Speakers: 15” TC Electronic Speaker, Piezo Tweeter Effects: Yes EQ: 3-band EQ Dem.: 24.4”x 18.2” x 15” Weight: 34.8 lbs
TC Electronic has made a big splash with their TonePrint pedals, and now they’re bringing that sonic flexibility to a bass combo amp. First off, despite its imposing size, it tips the scale at a mere 35 lbs. The 15” Neodymium magnet speaker is a major factor in its lack of weight. A 1” tweeter complements the high frequencies nicely. The controls are simple: Gain, a three-band EQ and tube drive control that brings in a distorted tone, calibrated for bass guitar, a TonePrint control (more on that later) and a master volume. There is a USB connection, 1/8” aux in, 1/8” headphone in, and a mute button. An XLR out finishes things off, and
there’s also a switch to allow it to be PRE or POST EQ. The final touch is a built in tuner! The TonePrint allows the player to download effects to the amp via the USB connection or the TonePrint smart phone app, which is a great feature. The fx themselves are great, and they’re optimized for bass. Sound-wise, this amp really delivers, regardless of the bass you’re using. The EQ is flexible and plays nicely with active or passive pickups. The tube drive control really adds a pleasant color, as the overdrive never outshines the original bass tone; at lower settings it adds subtle warmth, increasing it
really brings out a tight, aggressive overdrive that echoes the old tube-driven amps. Its 250 watts has plenty of volume to keep up with any situation. Players that want a classic rock amp without the maintenance of a tube amp will love this. Clarity isn’t an issue here either; it’s tight, punchy, and deep, all in the same breath. Slap and pop styles come through equally well, without muddiness. For the price (around $400), the BG250 can’t be beat in the solid-state field. It’s affordable enough for the basement bassist, and professional enough to hold up on the road. -Chris Devine
JAZZLOFT.COM Space-Saving CD Sleeves– $15 per 100
Save TONS of space, lightweight, low per-unit cost.
Time-consuming for large collections, difficult to read spines.
JazzLoft.com is offering their newly redesigned Space-Saving CD sleeves this year, a slight tweak on their long-running product line. For a lot of musicians and collectors, the hassle of storing hundreds (sometimes thousands) of jewel cases of your favorite CDs and/or different mixes of recording projects can be a nightmare. Jewel cases are thick, they’re heavy when you’re dealing what that type of volume, and let’s face it: they almost always crack and break. A pain for fans and studio engineers alike. These sleeves present an ingenious alternative to all that clutter and broken plastic. Simply remove 54 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
your album artwork and back tray insert and pop the disc off its hub. Now toss that jewel case in the trash, because you’ll never need it again. Place the artwork into one of your new sleeves, slide the disc into the other side, and voilà! The Space-Saving sleeves, made of 4mm thick archival polyethylene, can easily reduce the shelf-space of your collection or recording projects by about 65-75%. Your CDs now lay almost perfectly flat when the sleeves are closed, and you can still (sort of) read the spines from the side. Converting a large collection can take some time (I speak from experience; my entire personal
collection of 1,200 CDs is now housed in SpaceSaving sleeves), but if you don’t care about the original jewel case, and you need to reclaim the massive space your music and mixes are taking up, these might just be the solution you’ve been searching for. With a per-unit cost of about 15 cents, it’s a relatively inexpensive solution, as well. And from an aesthetic standpoint, they open and look much like a gatefold record, which a lot of users may actually find far more pleasing than the bulky, busted jewel cases of yore. -Benjamin Ricci
Don’t Fear the Noise Fuzz Pedal - $50
Devi Ever is many things. She is a musician, video game designer, artist, and something of a pedal visionary. She began building pedals in 2003 under the name Effector 13 (switching to Devi Ever: FX in 2009) and has since developed a reputation for making the world’s greatest array of fuzz pedals. Devi Ever: FX can take your sound to whatever level of warmth or destruction you desire. Her products can be seen (and heard) on many of rock’s most famous pedal boards. If that weren’t enough, she recently started the $50 Fuzz Revolution and Kickstarted a new way to think about guitar pedals. That project, CONSOLE, is a cartridgebased platform that could revolutionize fx pedals forever. She is active in the DIY community and sells kits for many of her pedals, as well as free schematics for the especially brave. Devi Ever: FX is based out of Portland, Oregon and all Devi Ever: FX pedals are proudly made in the United States.
The $50 Fuzz Revolution is Devi Ever’s campaign to make pedals less about the money and more about the music. At the base of Don’t Fear the Noise is a clean boost that crisps up the signal everso-slightly, and then runs two fuzz circuits one after another (though their knobs are deceptively named ‘Texture’ and ‘PreGain’). ‘Texture’ is a warm, wooly fuzz that would sound at home in many a stonermetal song, while ‘PreGain’ is bright, crunchy fuzz that suits the punks quite nicely. To experience the true power of this pedal requires blending the fuzzes together to find the fuzziness that speaks to you as the circuits interact in delightfully unexpected ways. Needless to say, it’s an incredible pedal for the price, and the perfect opening salvo for Devi’s Revolution.-Garrett Frierson
Devi Ever: FX
Organic Fuzz Love Since 2003
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call: 800-356-1155 www: powderfingerpromo.com APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 55
BACKGROUND The DBX 163 is a compressor/limiter unit that features DBX’s “Over Easy” compression characteristic. It features a single slider labeled “more” that controls both the threshold of compression as well as makeup gain. The attack and release are both program dependent. A 12-LED meter indicates the amount of compression.
“Adding Bite to Weaker Sounds” 56 APRIL 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
HOW IT WAS USED The original intent of the design was to be used as an inexpensive, general-purpose compressor/ limiter for individual instruments or full mix material in both studio and live settings. While the original DBX manual mentions the unit’s “natural” sound many times, the 163 is often more useful due to the sound character that it does impart on any material. Subtle is not really the best description for this particular compressor. INTERESTING FEATURES The unique single-knob feature can be very helpful for less-experienced engineers becoming familiar with compression. The lack of attack and release adjustment can make the 163 a one trick pony, but a trick it does quite well. The 163 excels at adding a bit of a “bite” to otherwise weaker sounds. It can impart enough aggressiveness to make an instrument or vocal pop out of a dense mix, and is great on rock vocals, electric bass, and guitars.
The 163 has unbalanced RCA input and output connectors, which can sometimes give the impression that a piece of equipment is more “pro-sumer” and not suitable for professional studio work. This is not the case with the 163. The simplicity of the circuit lends to a very short audio path and a discrete, transistor-based VCA. Both features are seen in many high-end compressors. MODERN EQUIVALENT DBX made a newer version called the 163X, but after a bit of searching, they appear to not be making this model anymore. The 163 can come close to emulating the channel compressor in SSL 4000 series consoles. LESSONS LEARNED Modern recording engineers can learn that it does not take an abundance of knobs and features to create a useful and inspiring audio production tool. The DBX 163 has a very specific flavor, but sometimes it can be exactly what is needed. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ian MacGregor is a recording and electrical engineer based in Los Angeles. His recent clients include The All-American Rejects, Katy Perry, and Twenty One Pilots. He also designs recording gear for Shadow Hills Industries and Standard Audio. Visit them at standard-audio.com.
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Published on Apr 1, 2013