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TABLE OF CONTENTS
VOL.24, ISSUE 4
by Mark Cowles
The metal supergoup is back with a new EP, and it’s as brutal as ever. Join frontman Phil Anselmo as he chats about the band’s no-ego policy, and why he feels more comfortable on stage than anywhere else in the world.
by Benjamin Ricci Atlanta’s swagmonsters explain how to stay DIY with a little help, take us inside the recording of their new LP, and teach us all how to be big boy ballers.
In The Studio With Parks
The Boston indie rockers take us behindthe-scenes as they explore the studio to record the B-Side to their latest single.
Letter From the Editor
Quick Picks: The Best in New Music
Vinyl of the Month: Split Screens
12. Live Reviews 24. How Contests Are Killing Your Band 25. Are We Headed Towards a Digital Music Apocalypse?
28. My Favorite Axe: Adela & Jude 29. R ecording: Fixing Mistakes in the
by Benjamin Ricci
The Pacific Northwest noise rockers change their once questionable name, find a new focus on vocals, and learn to take more risks in the studio.
Studio pt. 1
30. G ear Reviews: Epiphone; Music Nomad; Rosemary Pierro Glass Picks
32. Flashback: 1970 UA 1176LN (Rev C)
Cover photo by BRIAN HALL PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2014 3
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Howdy, y’all! This month marks a major milestone in my life; I am now officially an adult (kinda). Even after getting married and having a child, the one true metric of adulthood (at least in my Norman Rockwell version of America) is home ownership. And this month my wife and I plunked down a whole lot of money we didn’t have, borrowed even more from a bank we’ll pay back in a few decades, and done bought ourselves a house. You’re all invited to send housewarming gifts to my attention care of the magazine – but please, no more crystal ducks.
Volume 24, Issue 4
Phil Anselmo for the Down article), some helpful business articles and even a trip to the studio with Boston indie-popsters Parks. We’ve also jammed the front of the mag with great new music picks, some amazing live photos and towards the back you’ll find gear reviews to keep you informed on the latest and greatest.
William House Phone: 617-627-9200 email@example.com
As always, we thank you for your continued support as we adjust the format of the mag and the site to serve you better.
Benjamin Ricci firstname.lastname@example.org
DESIGN AND ART DIRECTION
Anyway, this issue is pretty awesome, huh? I know you haven’t read it yet, but just go with me. We’ve got some great interviews (you should hear the four hours of unedited tape we got with
Bob Dobalina email@example.com
-Benjamin Ricci, editor
P.S. stick around next month for our special touring issue, in which we take a behind-the-scenes look at the tour vans of indie musicians, learn how road disasters can lead to inspired live recordings, and figure out various ways to stay healthy while traveling across the country. Plus, maybe some cute cat pictures. But only if you’re good…
Alexandria Sardam, Benjamin Hanson, Benjamin Ricci, Brent Godin, Chris Devine, Christopher Petro, David Larson, Don Miggs, Eric Wolff, Ethan Varian, Glenn Skulls, Hannah Lowry, Jaclyn Wing, Jillian Dennis-Skillings, Julia DeStefano, Lesley Daunt, Maria Pulcinella Murray, Matt Lambert, Michael St. James, Nicole Rosdahl, Taylor Haag, Vanessa Bennett, Zac Cataldo
Avi Paul, Brian Hall, Cameron Wittig, Jenny Jimenez, Jimmy Hubbard, Jude Moran, Konina Biswas, Liz McBride, Matt Lambert, Rosalyn Lee, Ryan Russell ADVERTISING SALES
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.
Did we make a heinous blunder, factual error or just spell your name wrong? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know, cuz we’re big enough to say, “Baby, I was wrong.”
MUSIC SUBMISSIONS We listen to everything that comes into the office. We prefer physical CDs, cassettes and vinyl over downloads. If you do not have a physical copy, send download links to email@example.com.No attachments, please. Send CDs to: Performer Magazine Attn: Reviews PO BOX 348 Somerville, MA 02143
4 JUNE 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS In the words of our esteemed forefathers at CREEM: “NOBODY WHO WRITES FOR THIS RAG’S GOT ANYTHING YOU AIN’T GOT, at least in the way of credentials. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be sending us your stuff: reviews, features, photos, recording tips, DIY advice or whatever else you have in mind that might be interesting to our readers: independent and DIY musicians. Who else do ya know who’ll publish you? We really will... ask any of our dozens of satisfied customers. Just bop it along to us to firstname.lastname@example.org and see what comes back your way. If you have eyes to be in print, this just might be the place. Whaddya got to lose? Whaddya got?”
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© 2014 by Performer Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any method whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher. The magazine accepts no responsibility for unsolicited recordings, manuscripts, artwork or photographs and will not return such materials unless requested and accompanied by a SASE. Annual Subscription Rate is $30 in the U.S.; $45 outside the U.S.
Jazz Trumpeter Joseph Benjamin Wilder was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Wilder was one of the first thousand African Americans to serve in the Marines during World War II. Following the war, he played in the orchestras of Jimmie Lunceford, Herbie Fields, Dizzy Gillespie, and finally with the Count Basie Orchestra. From 1957 to 1974, Wilder did studio work for ABC-TV, New York, and in the pit orchestras for Broadway musicals, and became a favorite with vocalists such as Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Johnny Mathis and Harry Belafonte.
Chip Damiani, 69 Drummer, The Remains According to CTPost.com: “Chip Damiani, the original drummer for the The Remains, a garage rock band with Westport [CT] roots that opened for the Beatles in the 1960s, died…of a brain hemorrhage. Although labeled a garage rock band, the Remains were accomplished professional musicians and their recordings were notably well-produced and arranged. Signing with Epic, they recorded a full-length album, played on The Ed Sullivan Show and opened for the Beatles on the British band’s 14-city tour in 1966.
DJ E-Z Rock, 46 “It Takes Two” Rapper According to Rolling Stone, “Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock released their first single in 1986, but the 46-year-old…cemented himself into the hip-hop canon with 1988’s iconic track ‘It Takes Two.’ Produced by Teddy Riley and built around a vocal sample from Lyn Collins’ 1972 hit ‘Think (About It),’ the song blended hip-hop with house music and became a nationwide hit, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Songs chart and helping to lift rap into the pop consciousness.”
Jean Marshall, 96
Jerry Vale, 83 American Singer & Actor Vale started singing in high school musicals and at a local New York nightclub. This led to additional club dates, including one that lasted for three years at a club in Yonkers, New York. When Paul Insetta, (road manager for Guy Mitchell and a hit songwriter) heard him there, he signed him to a management contract, changed his name, and further coached him. Vale later signed a recording contract with Columbia, and his version of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” recorded in1963, was a fixture at many sporting events for years.
Joe Wilder, 92
H. R. Giger, 74 Surrealist Painter, Album Artist Hans Rudolf “Ruedi” Giger was a Swiss surrealist painter, sculptor and set designer who was part of the special effects team that won an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects for their design work on the film Alien. Giger is perhaps best known to music fans for his artwork on many popular albums, including the cover for Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson Lake & Palmer, as well as LP artwork for Cher, Debbie Harry, Celtic Frost, Danzig and the Dead Kennedys.
Kevin Sharp, 43 American Country Singer Kevin Grant Sharp was an American country music singer, author, and motivational speaker. Sharp made his debut on the country music scene in 1997 with a cover of R&B artist Tony Rich’s single “Nobody Knows,” a cover which topped the Billboard country charts for four weeks. Sharp’s debut album, Measure of a Man, was released the same year, producing additional Top 5 singles in “If You Love Somebody” and “She’s Sure Taking It Well” and a Top 50 hit “There’s Only You.”
Malik Bendjelloul, 36
Filmmaker, Classical Singer, Searching for Sugar Man Taught Grace Jones Malik Bendjelloul was a Swedish AcadThe Telegraph reports, “Jean Marshall, emy Award-winning documentary filmwho has died aged 96, was a bel canto maker, journalist and former child actor. soprano who tutored some of the more He is best known for his 2012 documenflamboyant figures from popular music… tary, Searching for Sugar Man, which won More pop pupils followed: Toni “Toad the an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award. Mime” Attell (star of Oh! Calcutta!); the The film details the efforts of two Cape Small Faces’ bassist Ronnie Lane; the Jamaican model turned singer Grace Jones; and, in the Nineties, Neneh Cherry and Town fans in the late 1990s, Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Beth Orton. ‘No one is tone-deaf,’ Marshall would say. ‘Don’t let anyone tell you Strydom, to find out whether the rumored death of American musician Sixto Rodriguez was true, and, if not, to discover what had become of him. otherwise.’”
PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2014 5
ARCHIE POWELL & THE EXPORTS Back in Black Chicago, IL (Team Cool Records) Archie Powell & The Exports’ latest album rocks and rolls hard. The group’s in- your-face, distorted attitude is humbled by their smart guitar jams and surprisingly sweet (yes, sweet) vocals. (Check out “Rodeo Crush” if you don’t believe me.) “Mambo No. 9” jacks the album up with electrifying screams that marry well with heart-pounding energy from the guitar and drums; Back in Black doses out a heaping helping of heavy distortion on almost every track. We must applaud the gang for beautifully orchestrating an energetically original LP. Produced by Jon Alvin with Gabe Liebowitz and Archie Powell Mixed by Jon Alvin at Chrome Attic Mastered by Justin Perkins at Mystery Room Mastering Follow on Twitter @archiepowell Alexandria Sardam
CHUCK RAGAN Till Midnight (SideOneDummy) Gainesville, FL
COO & HOWL Tooth Cambridge, MA (Self-released)
Over his twenty-year career, Chuck Ragan has blazed a trail between hardcore and folk music, uniting two genres that don’t often play nicely together. On Till Midnight, Ragan walks the thin line between punk and alt-country like it’s a tightrope. The sound is progressive and modern, but it will still tug at the heartstrings of nostalgic country fans, and a lot of punk rockers as well… He leads the album with a Springsteen-sized emotionality that demands attention. His voice is raspy, well-worn, anything but weak, and he sings with brutal honesty (emphasis on the “brutal”). Tension builds as we realize that Ragan could push the band over the edge into a punkrock frenzy at any moment.
Tooth a mighty fine piece of work. The album sports a lot of banjo, guitar and even some messy vocals. This is what makes the album so attractive; there are some big genre shifts in the middle of such a short record. Above all, this album continues to showcase Coo & Howl’s diversity as a band. Their ability to produce such an array of tracks on the same release speaks to their abilities as musicians and artists. Tooth is perfect for the summer, so be sure to grab it soon.
Produced by Christopher Thorn Mastered by Mark Chalecki Follow on Twitter @ChuckRagan
Mixed and Mastered by Nick Zampiello at New Alliance East Follow online at cooandhowl.bandcamp.com. Hannah Lowry
QUICK Here you’ll find the best new music our writers have been digging this past month. For full reviews and to stream tracks and videos from the artists featured on these pages, please head to performermag.com. Enjoy! EDWARD DAVID ANDERSON Lies & Wishes Chicago, IL (The Royal Potato Family) A decagon of morning-after emotion, this debut LP is a juxtaposition of warm-hearted openness and biting self-doubt as Anderson tackles love, loss, consolation and all the other ups and downs of the marriage plot…As the record dotes along, Anderson pulls from the pockets of country, blues and Americana, each track capturing a different musical hue as the genres shift, exposing blurry musical gradients and Anderson’s dynamic skill set. Concordantly, the lyrical content shifts for each variation in the gamut, with the musically lush and decorated tracks featuring esoteric cues and metaphors… Recorded & Engineered by Wil Reeves in Columbia, MO Mixed by Colin Sipos at Earhole Studios, Chicago Mastered by John Baldwin in Nashville, TN Follow on Twitter @royalpotato Taylor Haag
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HALLELUJAH THE HILLS Have You Ever Done Something Evil? Boston, MA (Reverse The Tape Decks) Once again, HTH have created a sweeping and dynamic album that encompasses their wealth of talent. The new LP is an explosive and surprising endeavor complete with expansive compositions and introspective subject matter…Each track provides something new creating an engaging and captivating energy. As it progresses with swellingcrescendosanddeterminedchordprogressions, layers of texture and instrumentation create a complex and surprising journey…Solitary voices are matched by earnest and multi-vocal choruses as inspiring horn sections respond to reverberating guitar chords. There is no predetermined path, but rather a voluminous and exciting journey driven by creativity and heartfelt lyricism. Recorded at 1809 Studios, Macedon, NY Produced by Dave Drago and the band Mixed & Mastered at Machines with Magnets, Pawtucket, RI Follow on Twitter @JahHills Vanessa Bennett
THE HORDE & THE HAREM Fairweather Friends Seattle, WA (Marmoset) Fairweather Friends is an album that reminded me of just about every Seattle band I could think of, until I heard Hanna Stevens’ vocals in the mix; she brings a whole new level to the group’s sound, adding depth to an already impressive lineup. The record features a very pure sound; there is hardly any noise or distortion to muddy up the LP. This leaves the tracks with a lofty, airy texture… Overall, Fairweather Friends should have a place on your shelf this summer. It will keep you light and happy in the sun, around the lake or wherever else you may find yourself this season… Mixed by Dave Middleton & Sam Eliot Mastered by Chris Vita Follow on Twitter @thathmusic Hannah Lowry
Texan Kaela Sinclair has a voice that will melt you like butter. One minute into her debut LP and it becomes abundantly clear why this is one of the best albums to emerge from North Texas, or anywhere for that matter…Artfully perfect in its production, Sun & Mirror transports you to a land of enchantment, especially on songs like “Without” and “Better.” Spanning across time, Sinclair throws it back to the ’70s (“Coral Castles”) and also shows us a glimpse of the future (“Original Sin”)…This album has the right blend of incredible songwriting, expressive vocals, and amazing production…Sun & Mirror is really something special. Produced by McKenzie Smith and Kaela Sinclair Engineered by Jordan Martin Mastered by Kim Rosen at Knack Mastering Follow on Twitter @kaelasinclair Lesley Daunt
THE NEW MASTERSOUNDS Therapy Leeds, England (One Note Records/ Légère Recordings) Leeds’ own The New Mastersounds add to their deep catalogue of vintage grooves with their 13th release Therapy. Weaned on Leeds’ vibrant funk 45 DJ scene, the band is a living encyclopedia of old-school sounds of the ’60s and ’70s…This latest release finds the Mastersounds sticking to what they do they do best: crafting crisp jazz, soul and funk instrumentals that would sound at home on the soundtrack to any vintage blaxploitation flick…Therapy highlights the stellar musicianship and versatility of one of the very best funk ensembles making music today. Follow on Twitter @NewMastersounds Ethan Varian
THE RIVER MONKS Home Is The House Des Moines, IA (Self-Released) The River Monks return with a quiet prowess over their folkie domain. With their sophomore LP grounded in Walden Pond-wave sentiments, Home Is The House hits melodic strides that put them in good company with artists like Sufjan Stevens and Fleet Foxes…The fantastical meditation on “Beasts,” though, is where they excel. Its traditional folk instrumentation (warm harmonies, banjo, guitar) makes the commentary on Middle America feel universal, as it navigates a familiar fear of missing something greater within an isolated, almost foreign, sphere. But the sweeping five-part harmonies that haunt tracks like “Beasts” also soothe, making the spacious landscapes feel less solitary and more like home.
KAELA SINCLAIR Sun & Mirror Denton, TX (Self-released)
Mixed by Nick Frampton Mastered by Doug Van Sloun Follow on Twitter @TheRiverMonks Maria Pulcinella Murray
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SAM MORROW Ephemeral Los Angeles, CA (Forty Below Records) Sam Morrow is a singer/songwriter from Los Angeles. His debut album Ephemeral deals with his personal story of addiction, which lends a degree of grittiness to his music that you wouldn’t expect from the typical 23-year-old…The record opens with “War,” a darker track featuring a passionate violin part executed by Freddy Koella. On this song, and throughout the record, Morrow’s voice has a very intimate vibe to it; it feels like he’s singing right into you…What’s amazing about Morrow’s music is how it speaks directly to the listener’s soul. His ability to connect is especially impressive for a debut album. Produced & Engineered by Eric Corne Mastered by Eric Corne & Mark Chalecki at The Lion’s Den and Little Red Book Mastering Follow on Twitter @sammorrowmusic Benjamin Hanson
WESLEY WOLFE Numbskull Carrboro, NC (Tangible Formats/ Odessa Records/Thinker Thought)
WINCHESTER REVIVAL Eyes in the Canopy EP San Francisco, CA (King of Sticks Recording Cooperative)
If you’re looking for catchy, foot-tapping pop music with relatable lyrics, look no further! Wesley Wolfe does not disappoint. In addition to being a home recorder, he also does direct-tovinyl recording. It doesn’t get more personal from the artist to listener…Numbskull has everything a pop album should: infectious melodies, lyrical sophistication and relatability…All ten tracks have rock-star sound and beats; the drums and guitar resonate through the speakers and the lyrics are clever and heartfelt. The overall atmosphere of the record is honest human expression at its finest, combined with its instrumental equivalent.
Cobbled together from the dissolved personnel of at least a half dozen other bands, Winchester Revival offers a buoyant blending of contemporary alt-rock with a handle on the effortless fun married into songwriting. Their new 4-song EP features jangly rhythms, mesmerizing guitar solos, hi-hat heavy percussion and six-minute major-key song structures (think Counting Crows and Rusted Root)….Eyes in the Canopy is perfect camping music, with its loose structures, washed out guitar solos, simple anthemic choruses and knowable hooks…a promising debut.
Produced & Mixed by Wesley Wolfe Mastered by Carl Saff Follow on Twitter @TangibleFormats Jaclyn Wing
Engineered & Mixed by Ian Swank and Andrew Lund Mastered at Trakworx, South San Francisco by Justin Weis Produced by Winchester Revival Follow on Twitter @TheWinRev Christopher Petro PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2014 7
“Synthesized indie-pop for the lovelorn” by VANESSA BENNETT / photo JENNY JIMENEZ Using emotional sentiments and the art of storytelling to craft an album is not a new concept. However, Seattle-based singer Eric Elbogen (better known as Say Hi) has taken it to a new level with his latest release, Endless Wonder. Here Elbogen uses his deep and rich vocals to share tales of longing and loss, setting these dark and downtrodden sentiments to contrasting positive and energetic compositions. The album’s first single, “Such A Drag” is an electronically-infused track complete with synthesized keyboard notes, metronome-like percussion and deep bass lines. Elbogen’s vocals hover above the music with a haunting urgency, a common theme throughout the album. His unwavering voice provides the melancholy backdrop to layers of fuzzy bass and experimental instrumentations on tracks like “Love Love Love” and “The Trouble With Youth.” Endless Wonder frequently finds the artist paired with big keyboard compositions, bursts of electro-pop energy and sharp, smart chord progressions. Endless Wonder is another fine addition to Elbogen’s prolific discography. He uses contrasting styles to create a sound that is intoxicating and decisive: the perfect accompaniment to the contrasting themes of presence and absence of love.
Seattle, WA (Barsuk Records)
8 JUNE 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Follow on Twitter: @ericelbogen
“LYRICAL DEPTH COMBINED WITH HAUNTING MELODIES” Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn has been creating incorruptible independent pop music since the late 1990s. Now on her fifth solo album, Changing Light highlights her irresistible voice. With an impeccable control of her instrument, she is able to effortlessly slide from sultry tones to airy falsetto notes. “Fleetfoot Ghost” captures her essence of light, airy, heartfelt lyrics with a relaxing guitar melody backing it up. The vocals come across with such simplicity and ease, but if you really listen to the lyrics, you can hear the complexity of her thoughts.
Follow on Twitter: @mirahmusic
Co-produced by Eli Crews and Christopher Doulgeris Mixed by Caleb Shreve Mastered by Joe LaPorta a Sterling Sound
“Gold Rush” highlights Mirah’s vocal range and orchestration by Jherek Bischoff. The runs of the string instruments and oboe blend the vocals together, creating a hauntingly beautiful track; the musical complexity pairs well with the lyrical depth. “LC” was co-written with her sister, Emily. The vocal duo harmonizes perfectly with just a slight echo in the backing instrumentation. This song focuses on the sisters’ innate talents as they use only the prettiest notes to express what is within their hearts. Overall, Changing Light features moments of darkness and clarity, with some interesting twists in-between.
Brooklyn, NY (Absolute Magnitude Recordings) by JACLYN WING / photo courtesy of TERRORBIRD PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2014 9
“Gritty, ramshackle, punk-infused indie rock from the Midwest” World of Joy, the sophomore release from Minneapolis-based Howler is a throwback to the punk bands of yesteryear. The album is a rougher, more weathered production than their debut, driven by lead singer Jordan Gatesmith’s deep, raw vocals and rapid-fire compositions.
apparent by the combination of frenzied and raucous tracks with more introspective and steady ones, blending darker subject matter with moments of hopefulness. “Indictment” brings in a smoother tone; crooning backing vocals juxtapose the ragged cries of Goldsmith and soften the relentless guitar chords.
While a bit formulaic at times (predictable guitar riffs and recognizable percussion sections) the album shows the band’s retention of skill and ability to expand on a well-mastered style and genre. The group utilizes buzzsaw chord progressions and strong, decisive percussion to drive the album’s momentum ever forward. The wild and disorderly nature is made
The album is not a departure into something new or an experiment with sound and style. Rather, it’s a well-crafted next step, an anxious and bold production that displays the band’s talent and relentless energy. The group has taken their sound and injected it with an inyour-face, no-holds-barred shot of adrenaline that makes it hard to ignore.
Engineered by Rob Oesterlin & Mark Stockert Mastered at Abbey Road by Christian Wright
World of Joy
Minneapolis, MN (Rough Trade) by VANESSA BENNETT / photo by CAMERON WITTIG Follow the band on Twitter: @Howler_band 10 JUNE 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
can you feel the pain.” An electric guitar swirls out a melody as the chorus abuts, “And the leaves are falling down,” sings Cafiero.
The title track, “The Sinner,” murmurs yesteryear Americana. Cafiero’s unhurried soft cadence, “You’re just a sinner / waiting for the saints to lie / you can try all you want / you’ll never survive / all these details at your side /
Split Screens has yet to embark on a full-length LP, but the Sinner single (limited to 150 copies) alludes to an earnest possibility for an ambitious, transcendental and highly listenable full-length on the horizon.
Singer and multi-instrumentalist Jesse Cafiero has the soft, playful quality one finds on a beach somewhere. Golden, brushed rhythms and gliding electric guitars, a murmuring Wurlitzer offers a soft union that echoes early Wallf lowers. Even Cafiero has the dampened, matured vocal swings as Jakob Dylan, but the throbbing, bleak textures one finds on a Menomena release.
The B-Side, “Meeker Hollow,” begins with a sample from an iconic ’50s video of a housewife reacting to an LSD experience, a nod to Cafiero’s psychedelic folk grounding. A colorfully chorded piano melody grows with a string accompaniment swelling to a crescendo.
Recorded at Coyote Hearing Studios, Oakland by Jeremy Black San Francisco, CA (Name Drop Swamp Records)
Mastered at Magic Garden Mastering, Los Angeles by Brian Lucey Produced by Split Screens Size: 7-inch
Split Screens The Sinner b/w Meeker Hollow
Speed: 45 rpm Color: marbled vinyl Units Pressed: 150
by CHRISTOPHER PETRO / photo by KONINA BISWAS
Follow on Twitter: @splitscreenssf
“Jubilant, simmering vocals poised with softened rhythms and a humming Wurlitzer” PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2014 11
Loop with Ghost Box Orchestra
Follow Loop at soundheads.org
Middle East Club Downstairs Cambridge, MA / April 19, 2014 Shoegaze-meets-psychedelia with veteran UK rockers.
photos and review by MATT LAMBERT
t had been 24 years since UK psych band Loop played any shows, but in 2013 they decided to pick up the instruments again and go on tour because simply because there was no good reason not to. That brought them across the pond to Cambridge, MA this past April. The anticipation grew as the band got on stage to a droning intro track while they tuned their instruments. The screen behind them streamed colors provided by Boston rocker and visualista, “Video Joe” Joe Turner that had been running all night to provide some imagery for the music. Loop front-man and guitarist, Robert Hampson, stated a few times it was good to be back playing and spoke briefly about the last time the band played in Boston at the legendary Rathskeller. Their sound is essentially shoegazemeets-psychedelic, with a distorted bass-driven brand of rock inclusive of intended feedback. It withstood the test of time and although the guys were not very animated on stage, they had the room’s attention, especially when Neil Mackay’s entrancing bass lines vibrated the floorboards of the club. Two local openers fit the bill quite nicely with similar sounds; Doug Tuttle brought their retro pop rock to the stage. After them, Ghost Box Orchestra delivered their straightforward powerful noise-rock, which might have garnered a little more attention than the headliner. Overall, it was a positive night for a niche of rock music best experienced live. 12 JUNE 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
article by NICOLE ROSDAHL / photography by ROSALYN LEE
5th Annual Sacred Dance “White Party”
Bently Reserve - San Francisco, CA / April 11, 2014 "Vomiting unicorns, fantastic music, and artful ambiance."
he 5th Annual Sacred Dance “White Party,” hosted by Opulent Temple, was an amazing event because it encompasses everything that makes a great party great: interesting people, fantastic music, and artful ambiance with 100% of the proceeds benefiting Burning Man 2014. Revered DJs from Burning Man camps such as Billy Cesazza, Brian Williams, Brian Peek, Eliki, Mike Butler, Syd Gris and The Quandrob & Vinkalmann guided partygoers through a night of enchanting vibrations. Everyone looked fabulous in their whitest whites and elaborate costumes. Ample skin, leather, lace, top hats, and platforms graced the dance floors. Bently Reserve is a venue that complements and facilitates the higher intentions of partying with its atmosphere. Gorgeous ambiance is created by laser projection mapping machinery, LED lights, and surreal decorations, which added an extra dimension and optical illusions to the smoke machines that floated above the dance floor. This spatially-augmented reality created a
metaphor for the human mind. To be in the body, between thoughts and the physical, is just BEING. Experiencing the present moment is further promoted by Sufi Whirling, a physically active form of meditation, where the dancers' white skirts represent the ego shroud. To abandon the ego and release the self from the outside world is done simply by listening to the musical beat, which creates an energy pathway of ecstatic dance where an individual can go within the self. Movement, body and spirit combined within a community experience this evening. Next year, bring all your friends and be ready to meet others you haven’t met yet! Be safe by making reservations at a nearby hotel because parking is impossible. What is possible is a tall gorgeous man in a furry vest giving you a glow-in-the-dark jelly fish on a pole to dance with, meeting a person from your past in the bathroom line or seeing a unicorn throwing up over the balcony. All this makes for a wild bash! The secret destination is YOU.
For more visit www.opulenttemple.org
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WILDTHRONE Washington’s Noisiest Band Takes Creative Risks with Producer Ross Robinson on New EP by BENJAMIN RICCI photography by RYAN RUSSELL 14 JUNE 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
You’ve released a few EPs now as a group. Is there a conscious decision not to put out full-lengths? Or has it just happened organically? Every time we’ve had opportunities to record and release something it’s always just happened that way. We’ve been wanting to a do super kickass full-length since day one, but resources and timing and other variables keep putting it off. It’s certainly not due to lack of material, though. We’ve got an album’s worth of new songs in the hopper, some of them we play live. It will get done; I think the time has finally come.
When we last spoke, you were called Dog Shredder. What led to the name change? It was something we had a window of opportunity to address and we just dealt with it while we still could. We were coming up on a tour far larger than what we were used to and about to put out a record far better than anything else we had done. The moniker was fun, but it eventually started to screw with the band that we were maturing into.
You mentioned you worked with producer Ross Robinson on the new record. Did you approach the studio any differently with him? We approached this SO differently. Working with a producer was very new to us. Ross wanted us to get into the songs at depths we had never reached for. I think this is pretty well documented about his style in the studio. He wouldn’t let us go in and do a take of ANYTHING until we all collectively felt our purpose and intent with the songs. He tried to make every moment count. He’d tell me to stop trying so hard, to risk everything and play or sing terribly and just let
Have their been any sonic changes since the name change? The music is still chaotic and a little out there,
On working with producer Ross Robinson: “He’d tell me to stop trying so hard, to risk everything and play or sing terribly and just let go.” just much more focused and I’m singing a lot more now, which is new. I’ve always wanted to have more of a vocal presence for the band, whether that be from me or someone else at some point. Ross [Robinson], our producer on this one, really encouraged us to dive in with more vocals and it really worked well. It was tough, but I’m very proud of it. Let’s get into your songwriting process. Were there any major differences this time out as opposed to your last record? On our older stuff it was kind of like paint thrown at a canvas. We would have so many ideas at practice and we would throw everything out there as fast as we could play it. Now we experiment more with song structure and vocals and it’s been much more focused. I’ll bring in the raw structure of an idea…and then we size it all up together and it blossoms in the room with each of us finding our way through it. We keep high standards for what we want to put out there and we’re honest with each other about what rips and what doesn’t hold. We record lots of demos and pass them back and forth trying to find the best stuff.
management needs. We are used to doing everything ourselves, so it’s really nice to keep the music and the performing as our main concern. We’ve worked really hard and been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunities that allow us to do that. You guys are releasing this EP on vinyl in addition to digital. What do you think still attracts people to that format, and do you do anything specific to prepare for a vinyl release? For this release we didn’t, but we have for the previous vinyl releases. The tests came out sounding fresh on wax so we didn’t need to tamper with it. The vinyl resurgence has been interesting. It’s a way to keep true fans of music tangibly connected to the bands they love, of course. The art has been devalued so harshly over the last ten years. The digital age has made everything arrive faster and freer and with that, it disappears just as fast. Vinyl is great for music, music makers, and music lovers and I hope it’s not just some kind of bubble that pops. I hope it sticks around.
ellingham’s Wild Throne is no stranger to the Pacific Northwest’s noise rock scene. Along with former labelmates Gaytheist and Deadkill, the band has been a key part of a growing rock revival in the Seattle/Portland area. This spring they dropped their latest EP, Blood Maker, and we spoke with guitarist/vocalist Josh Holland about producing a record with Ross Robinson (Korn, At the Drive-In, Blood Brothers), changing the band’s name for the sake of their career, and why their fans respond so well to vinyl.
Follow on Twitter: @WILDTHRONE
go. And the more I did the better the takes would get. It was really, really amazing. This EP is being released by Brutal Panda. What caused you to leave your previous label, Good to Die? I wouldn’t say we left Good To Die. We’ve always felt a really cool family vibe there and a family that hopefully we’ll always be a part of. We just had a one record agreement and there wasn’t ever talk of a second release from either side. When the time came to do something new, Brutal Panda had been reaching out to us a lot and getting super stoked on the band. That enthusiasm won us over and it was a logical move forward for us. They’re great, super smart dudes and they’ve got a lot of connections in their network that have helped us get the word out to a larger population. Aside from the label, are you handling other band business in a more DIY fashion or do you now have a team to help out with those aspects of your career? Yeah, we’ve built up a really solid group of people that help us with our booking/legal/
WILD THRONE BLOOD MAKER STANDOUT TRACK: “SHADOW DESERTS” LISTEN NOW @ PERFORMERMAG.COM PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2014 15
How Atlanta’s Party Monsters Re-Invest Gig Revenue into Better Recordings
Baby by BENJAMIN RICCI / photography by BRIAN HALL 16 JUNE 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Baby PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2014 17
ow does one describe Baby Baby to someone who hasn’t experienced the band before? Well, for starters, Baby Baby is to partying…well, what Andrew W.K. is to partying. Long story short: expect a fun time at a Baby Baby concert. Expect lead singer Fontez Brooks to be chronically shirtless. Expect blistering punk rock seamlessly infused with New Wave synths and the catchiest damn gang vocals in recent memory. Expect to leave humming the entire setlist on the ride home. And expect to tell all your friends you’ve just seen the future of rock and roll, and it tried to hit on your girlfriend…and possibly vomited on your shoes. We recently sat down with the entire gang to chat about their new album, Big Boy Baller Club, how they manage a DIY career and how they reinvest gig money into their studio recordings. Trying to decipher who’s speaking at any given time is a fun exercise in futility when talking to the whole group over the phone, so for simplicity’s sake, let’s just go ahead and attribute all quotes to the band as a collective unless otherwise noted, shall we? Onward! In the last few years, you’ve picked up some new members. Care to elaborate on what the new blood adds to the group? Fontez Brooks: Ryan [Burress, keys] is actually the newest member, and he’s been there since our first Atlanta show, which is really crazy. So everyone who’s on board right now has been there since the early days, it’s like a family. 18 JUNE 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Are you looking to expand the family further, or are you good with the lineup you’ve got now? Fontez Brooks: I think with how popular twerking is getting, we could hire a couple twerkers, you know what I mean? But other than that, no. So you want to have “The Baby Baby Dancers” or… Fontez Brooks: I mean, that would be pretty sick – imagine if you came to the show and there were just dancers twerking in the background. And no one ever explains why they’re there… Colin Boddy: We’re gonna have to start playing bigger stages with all theses dancers, because I’m already getting bumped by Grant’s cymbols, so I don’t know where these twerkers are gonna be. [laughs] So you guys have a new record out, Big Boy Baller Club - perhaps the most appropriately named album of the year. It sounds a lot tighter and cleaner than the last one, recording-wise. Did you approach the studio or the mixing sessions in a different way than on your last record, Money? Fontez Brooks: This time around we really did it, you know what I mean? We were grown ups, and we paid for it, and we tried really hard. On Money we tried really hard, too, but [during the recording] we drank a 30-pack, so by the end we were just yelling into the microphones. Kyle [Dobbs, bass] opened up the beer cans and we made songs, and it sounds awesome. But on this
one we really sat down and thought about our parts, and re-wrote parts that didn’t work… So did you take it more seriously, or as seriously as Baby Baby could take it? Grant Wallace: Oh yeah, definitely. Because every song was like 12-15 hours straight, not leaving the studio sometimes until seven o’clock in the morning – just doing it until the song was right and finished. So it was a serious thing, but also really fun. Do you guys do any writing in the studio, or is the writing and rehearsal process hashed out before you go in to record? [Baby Baby]: I’d say it’s about halfway there, but once we get in the studio that’s when we start to, I guess, get more motivated to make it perfect. Grant Wallace: We also kind of had a secret member on this one, Matt McClellan, who wrote a lot of the keyboard parts. He walked us, baby steps, to get the songs to how they ended up sounding. Because like you said, it was a big upgrade, sound-wise, to Money. And partially that’s because our fans gave us money to pay for this and actually make it sound like it was supposed to. Did you do a Kickstarter campaign, or did your fans literally hand you money and demand that you do a better job on this one? [laughs] Grant Wallace: No, no. I mean, they came to our shows, and that’s where the money came from.
Well, that’s because their job is so easy, isn’t it? [laughs] You hit a cymbal and you’re done, no? You’ve got nothing but free time on your hands… Grant Wallace: It’s way harder to book shows than to drum, I’ll tell you that much! [laughs]
That’s so smart, and I think a lot of bands aren’t doing that. They’re thinking, “Oh, great, we got paid. Party money!” And they’re not re-investing it back into their careers. Fontez Brooks: We actually did a Kickstarter to fund this record, but we only made about $300 out of the $2,000 [we needed]. So we thought, ‘How are we gonna make this record?’ But we went out there like big boys, you know, and we had beautiful people who helped us out at the shows, so we thank each and every fan who came out to see us perform…
Do you see yourselves staying with the DIY mentality, or are you looking to add a layer of management at some point in the future to handle booking, etc? Grant Wallace: Yeah, if anyone’s reading this and wants to help us out, hit me up! [Baby Baby]: We had a manager for a while, but they basically did the exact same or less than what we could do on our own.
Speaking of shows, it would be hard to talk to you guys and not mention your live show, which is so essential to what the band’s about. Any plans to expand touring beyond the Southeast to support the new record? Fontez Brooks: That’s the dream, sure. That’s the dream for all of us. It’s really hard at the moment, you know? We have to worry about things like the
So there’s the better question: does any band at your level actually need someone to do the work for them that they could do themselves? Grant Wallace: I think for a band our size, we’ve plateaued with the venues we can get into in the Southeast. And I think a manager or booking agent could open doors for opening for national acts. Which we still do on our own, but it could happen more often if we had a manager that was able to, by name alone, help us open for bigger bands. You do have a publicist for this record. Is that new for you guys?
“We had a manager for a while, but they basically did the exact same or less than what we could do on our own.” van not making it past Texas; we played South by Southwest two years ago and we broke down in Louisiana. But it was cool – we bonded, four of us to a bed. What are you gonna do? I personally want to go to Seattle. And I think L.A. would be cool. We’ve already done New York and Boston... Do you still do all your own booking or are you working with a manager or agent on that part of the career now? Fontez Brooks: I’d say Grant [Wallace, drums] is the closet thing we have to a manager right now. He does all the bookings, he even made this interview happen. Grant Wallace: There’s something about drummers. I’ve talked with a lot of drummers and they all seem to have taken on booking responsibilities, as well…
And if it does catch somebody’s ear, what’s your ultimate goal as a band then? What would be success for you, as far as this album goes? Grant Wallace: Getting the van to make it to Boston without being afraid of it breaking down! Fontez Brooks: I completely agree. To be able to do things like that, not have to worry about the van breaking down, or how we’re going to eat [on the road]. Grant Wallace: If we could play Europe and not go five grand into debt, that would be amazing.
We took all the money we made from playing live in the last three years and didn’t take any of it for ourselves. Well, we definitely spent some money on whiskey here and there, but other than that... we put all the money into the studio. That’s why it sounds so much better.
And the future? Grant Wallace: We’ve got to write some more songs so we can record them with Ryan on keys, here. Ryan Burress: I more or less came in after the keys had already been recorded on the album, so my first job was recreating what Matt [McClellan] had already done. In the live shows, I’ve been able to add my own things here and there, but no, we haven’t had a chance to write or record anything yet. My degrees are actually in writing music, too, so I’m excited to sit down with these guys, who I’ve been following for years as a fan, and see how the two minds can work together. The Baby Baby stuff with my more cerebral, music school kind of stuff; I’m curious to see how it all works. I don’t want to step on their toes at all. The Baby Baby formula is magic; you have to just feel it.
Follow on Twitter @babybabyband
Fontez Brooks: We hooked up with Team Clermont, which is cool. And we’re thankful for everything they’ve helped us with….having the publicist, it’s great. They’ve got the resources to promote [the new record] and really hit the streets. So there is an advantage for a band your size to go with a publicist? Fontez Brooks: I’d say so. You can’t really email blogs these days, as a band. They just don’t care. If it comes from a publicist, they just listen more; they take it more seriously. They know the name and say, ‘Sure, I’ll put them up there.’ Grant Wallace: I think if you have that one catchy song, that’s all you need. You just need to have that one person to hear it and pitch it out…These are polished, catchy, great songs on the new record, so we’re hoping this is the one that catches somebody’s ear.
BABY BABY BIG BOY BALLER CLUB STANDOUT TRACK: “KEEP ON DANCING” watch the video @ PERFORMERMAG.COM PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2014 19
INTERVIEW 20 JUNE 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
How the Metal Supergroup Mines The Blues & Explores Music’s Boundaries on Latest EP by MARK COWLES / photography by JIMMY HUBBARD
f a mystical experience through heavy metal perfection and musical genius is what you seek, then you have found it in its purest form with New Orleans’ very own metal gods Down. With such a natural flow to their sound, from this creation of highly skilled, talented and intricately versatile band members, it’s impossible to not find it magical. And luckily for us metal worshipping hounds of Hell, a new offering of the gods has been bestowed upon us in the form of their new EP, Down IV Part II. Down’s influences are derived from an array of genres including hardcore punk, blues, southern rock and country. Being a die-hard metal head in 1995 with a very strong addiction to bands like Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity, Eyehategod and Crowbar, I was the first kid on the block to score their classic debut album NOLA, which actually hasn’t left my CD player since. Nearly 20 years later and they are still just as real, innovative, iconic, influential and amazing as well as a symbol of brotherhood and friendship within the metal community. I was able to touch base with drummer Jimmy Bower and lead vocalist Phil Anselmo to learn more of the secrets to their musical brilliance, the influences that helped infuse their sound, as well as the new album. Jimmy Bower needs no introduction - both as a guitar player and a drummer, his involvement with bands like Eyehategod, Clearlight, and Superjoint Ritual clearly speak for themselves. He is perhaps most iconic for being one of the pioneers of Sludge Metal. When asked about what he was listening to
lately, the southern gentleman replies, “I’ve had my same ‘playlist’ forever man; a lot of David Allan Coe, Willie Nelson, Hank Jr., Hank Williams. That’s my whole take on punk rock…it’s that whole outlaw thing from the late ’70s and early ’80s. I’ve found a lot of heaviness in that sound, also a lot of inspiration from it.” When asked if punk rock played a role in terms of influence with the origin and immortalization of their amazing flow of sounds, he responds, “ I definitely think that Down has that punk rock heritage, we have that energy, and we just let our true emotions take over. I mean not to sound cheesy about it, but…if you’re getting
I was curious as a fan what a band like Down does in the studio that makes it such a magical experience for the listener, to which Bower states, “It’s an hour and a half drive, so we all just get in one car and go over there and we just jam. I think once we’re all in that room it’s all about focus and everyone’s really good at bringing out the best in each other. Because that’s what friends do man, that’s what friends do.” Throughout the duration of the conversation with Jimmy, I was able to get insight behind the recording of their debut album NOLA and the commercial success that it brought; he recalls
“I’M GOING TO MAKE CRAZY FUCKING MUSIC FOR CRAZY FUCKING PEOPLE.” –PHIL ANSELMO pissed off, get pissed off with your instrument...It’s better to pick up a guitar and scream from that or pound on the drums and scream from that than it is to actually physically cause harm. I think what’s cool about metal is deep down in most, if not all metal heads, is a pissed off punk.”
with fond memories, “That was a beautiful time, man. Collectively we were all in the same mindset at all times. If you sit in a room full of friends and listen to a Saint Vitus record, burn some weed and have a few beers that’s a good feeling and you can’t pick up on a music vibe any better than that. PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2014 21
INTERVIEW So I think we were able to take from that and write some great songs with it. As fun as it is for fans to enjoy hearing our records and hearing us play live, it’s just as much fun for me to be playing it, you know? I just feel blessed to be in a band that can relate to so many people.”
little shit here and there and let what inspires us take over.” He was more than happy to let me in on some background history as the guitarist of Eyehategod, and he wound up touching in on the tragic loss of his dear friend and the band’s former drummer
Joey’s drums on the record. It means a lot to me.” To say Philip H. Anselmo is one of the central figures behind both the heavy metal and hardcore revolutions is an under-statement at the very least. He is not only one of the most inspiring, original and influential vocalists in music
“I CAN’T EMPHASIZE ENOUGH THE IMPORTANCE OF BLUES. WE JUST TAKE WHAT WE LOVE FROM THE MUSIC, ADD A LITTLE SHIT HERE AND THERE AND LET WHAT INSPIRES US TAKE OVER.” –JIMMY BOWER He continues, “We’re not Metallica, but I could understand the impact we’ve had on the present-day metal scene. I mean, even in Eyehategod and my other bands, we aren’t doing anything that any other band hasn’t done. Like the Melvins, or even simple blues bands. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of blues. We just take what we love from the music, add a 22 JUNE 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Joey LaCaze, and how Jimmy was able to use his triumphant will to help inspire him on the new Down EP: “About two weeks after losing Joey, we went in the studio to record the new Down EP, and that record became more than just a record for me. It was a way of mourning. But you know when bad shit happens, it’s best to create something out of it and look forward to the future, man. I even played
history, with one of the most charismatically charged stage presences, but his expansion of musical creativity is something of a force to be reckoned with. Aside from being the legendary front man of Pantera, he’s been involved with countless other bands such as Christ Inversion, Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals and Superjoint Ritual, to name a few.
“I’m going to be the dude that’s a musical explorer,” he professes with great conviction, “because music is meant to be fucking explored and I am going to explore all corners. And all corners may not be a pretty fucking thing to hear. Matter of fact, it might be fucking heinous, but I’m going to go there, and I’m going to do it. So don’t blink because something’s going to be different this year, and it will be different next year. I’m going to make crazy fucking music for crazy fucking people.” In addition to his musical endeavors, Anselmo is also the owner of Housecore Records. “We are a ‘band’ label, and what I mean by that is I purposely started this record label for a band-friendly environment; I know what it’s like to be tied down with major record deals that eat up your entire career.” Phil has all of the elements of the ideal front man: well spoken, intelligent, poignant, honest, relatable, and philosophical. “I love words,” he elaborates on his lyrical content, “so much so I consider myself a bit of a wordsmith. I love throwing the listener a curve ball once in a while, because in my mind there are cryptic
we waste very little…As long as a band can talk things out and communicate with each other and still stay productive, that is a mark of great health. I can’t think of a better word for it than ‘healthy.’” On the topic of touring, I listen in admiration as he explains, “Once I get my hand wrapped around that microphone, and the stage is there and the crowd is there, that’s when I’m most comfortable in life. When I’m on that fucking stage everything that could be considered a negative becomes a positive. Playing live is the most honest and comfortable I could ever fucking feel. I love meeting the fans, meeting new bands, I love all that fucking stuff, man!” Being that I spent my entire impressionable youth wanting to be just like Phil Anselmo, I simply had to ask what he would say to an aspiring musician in today’s scene, and he methodically responded, “I would say practice constantly. Whether on your own or with your band, take 20 influences and make them your own and then eventually out of those 20 you’ll make something fucking original, and if you’re in a band, the main focus would be originality, innovation; no matter who you’re influenced by you got to come out with something that has not been heard before. And I would say that if you are in a band that does well, then communication is the key. You have got to be able to talk to each other, no matter how awkward or tough it may be. You’ve got to be able to talk.”
phrases that may not make sense when they’re put together, but phonetically they can capture attitude…My intention is for the listener to grab something out of the old lyrics and make something about them that I never even considered when writing them, and that’s I guess what you would call the magic of it all.” He goes on to discuss his early exposure to music, saying, “I guess the starting point for all this would be something I probably got as a young man from watching and discovering hardcore bands. When I was 15, I was a big metal head and I was kind of aware of the contingency of hardcore, but really I was still a metal kid at heart and then I went to a show where Motörhead played in New Orleans and the opening bands were Hallow’s Eve and surprisingly enough Agnostic Front; I came away from that show with a whole different understanding of what a real, gut-level, stripped down, close-to-their-audience type of band Agnostic Front was, and that’s something that I really wanted to emulate and I didn’t see much of in heavy metal.” When I ask which singers motivated him the most, he’s quick to respond: “I think I take from a lot of different genres. The Beatles were a great influence vocally - Lemmy, Robert Plant, David Lee Roth, absolutely Paul Di’Anno, obviously Rob Halford was a huge influence and then honestly later, because I swear I’m the type of guy that never quits getting influenced and I’m not afraid to use or do my take of what the influence may be: Joe Caper from The Righteous Pigs, Paul Bearer from Sheer Terror, heck even Peter Steele back when he was in Carnivore, Rodger from Agnostic Front, Henry Rollins, Layne Staley, Frank Mullen from Suffocation…Seth Putnam from Anal Cunt, Mike Williams from Eyehategod, his attitude and tonality totally influenced me!” I ask Phil if we could expect the same kind of atmosphere from the first EP to be reprised on the second. He proudly declares, “The second EP to me is superior, and maybe that’s coming from the fact that the material’s real fresh. On this recording it was our bass player Pat’s second time around with us and he was a great contributor to the sound on the new EP. And our new guitar player Bobby came in as a guy who’s been watching us for almost a decade! Whether he’s been stage manager or guitar tech, we’ve always known that he’s a great guitar player and he fits the bill for the band, and he was always our first choice. The infusion of those two guys and what they brought to the table was like a breath of fresh air, an injection of new blood, and it felt excellent to have that.” He goes on to say, “I can’t wait for the people who actually give a fuck to give some feedback and come out to some shows and feel it. We definitely wrote songs on this fucking record that are going to be played live, and meant to be played live. Today’s new songs are tomorrow’s classics, so I feel that way very much about this new EP. I can honestly say that in the studio, anything contributed comes very naturally, organically and
Follow the band on Twitter @downnola
DOWN DOWN IV PART II STANDOUT TRACK: “CONJURE” LISTEN NOW @ PERFORMERMAG.COM PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2014 23
Contests Are Killing Your Band N
How Bullshit Prizes Make You Lose Out on Real Opportunities
ot a week goes by where I am not inundated with breathless posts and emails from bands and artists spamming me with requests to help them win some contest or another. It’s gotten to the point where I actually think differently about an artist the more they do it. Think for a moment, how many of your favorite bands did you find through winning a contest? I’m guessing none, zilch, zero. So, why are so many bands doing it, and why is it such a bad thing? Let me preface this tirade by saying that not all contests are worthless. I know bands and management look at contests as a way to create buzz, activate their fans, maybe gain new ones, and ultimately win whatever the prize is. But it may surprise you to find out that they are wrong, and worse, they can absolutely hurt your band. Let me share with you some real world examples of how bands have screwed themselves from real progress by wasting their time - and their fans’ time - on contests. One artist I work with on licensing was doing multiple “best song” contests and driving her fans daily to the sites to vote. There was a radio campaign underway and she was not getting traction there because many program directors didn’t feel like they could “break” the song on radio while it was in play on these websites. It was not fresh, and worse, the play numbers on the contest sites were abysmal compared to radio. So, she lost the radio adds and consequently a movie placement for a small film that wanted breaking 24 JUNE 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
music with radio metrics. Let me tell you - no one in licensing cares about “contest metrics.” Another band had a song that was being considered for a national restaurant chain (one that rhymes with “Papplebees”). The Master/Sync was worth about $50,000 upfront, with backend royalties, and the opportunity for the band to appear in the spot. We call that the “whole shebang.” In the midst of the deal, the client saw that they were engaging their fans to vote and spread social media in relation to a contest for a competitor that serves overpriced hamburgers and has live music. So, the client pulled out. Their literal response: “We’re not giving $50k to a band who is driving their fans to our competitor and their fucking burgers with a contest, like amateurs.” Oomph! It’s that word, “amateurs,” that really sticks out, doesn’t it? Neither of the artists mentioned above knew the reason why they lost out on opportunity. Why? Because someone interested in placing or licensing music doesn’t have time to lecture you on how to run your band or treat your fans. And that’s the key: your fans. Each one of these contests normally involves your fans giving up their personal information and getting spammed later from the contest brand/organizer. You do know that contests are a simple way to trick you into giving your activated fans’ information to a brand, right? Why would you do that? For an opening slot, or some bullshit title? Skip it.
All that time you spend asking fans to vote, maybe write a song or shoot a video. Your fans don’t want to help your career, they want to support your music; there’s a difference. Do an acoustic song, or a few demos and have them vote on your site for which one you should record. Have them make fan videos of your songs. Hold a Shazam tagging party on your latest single. Get creative; your fans should be spreading your music for your sake, not a brand. So, should you enter contests? Short answer, no. Of course it depends. My good friends, The Messers, just won a contest to play Red Rocks this summer, and that’s totally worth it. They had to play a series of live gigs to get it, but their music won out. No social media trickery or fan email harvesting. They will play the venue of a lifetime, get a live recording of it, and they will gain some fans. Here are some guideposts. If the contest involves you playing live music to win, go for it; but not if it prevents your fan base from attending paid gigs. If your song will be judged on merit, not by a popularity contest, do it. However, your time would be better spent on writing, recording, and playing live. Don’t be a brand’s marketer, be a musician. 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.
An Interview with Paul M. Fakler, Partner at Arent Fox
igital music services are in the middle of every argument about the music business. Streaming royalties, digital collection, plays, rate courts, artist payouts, growth - all roads lead back to companies like Pandora, Spotify and iHeartRadio. Whether you like it or not, you are going to have to pick a side in this battle; your career depends on it. We spoke with Paul Fakler, an intellectual property lawyer specializing in copyright, and a partner at Arent Fox LLP. He recently presented at SXSW 2014 - “The Digital Music Performance Royalty Apocalypse,” and blogs about music business at title17.net. It should be noted, lest you think he’s just another “suit,” Mr. Fakler came up as a guitarist and bassist in the ’80s hardcore scene and did his time in the bar cover band scene in the ’90s; he’s slugged it out at clubs, just like you. How did your playing days shape you as a music business lawyer today? I have a profound appreciation for the people who actually create the music. That would be the artists, and not the labels - that think they do. I want a music industry that is fair to the creators. So, you support the music services because you think they help the artists? I see how hard it is for artists and musicians to exist today. These services are a potential new revenue stream. There’s an opportunity for a win-win here. Consumers want that choice, in their car, on the go, etc. And importantly for independent artists, it’s a great opportunity for discovery outside of the traditional radio “payola” system that has favored labels for years. In this digital world, is copyright registration still necessary for independent artists? I think it is even more important for mid-level and independent songwriters to register their stuff. If someone tries to rip you off, it gives you tremendous leverage. Copyright law is a rare exception in litigation. If your copyrights are registered prior to infringement and you win, the other side has to pay your attorney fees and statutory damages, irrespective of actual financial damages, in a range of $750150,000 per song. With no prior registration, you may not be able to bring forth a suit. So,
yes, file your copyright registrations; it’s worth it.
and innovate, so songwriters aren’t seeing the benefit of scale yet.
As you know, many are fighting the digital music services, citing that they are not paying the artists enough. What’s your opinion? It’s infuriating to me when I see it said that they are “ripping” off the artists. This, coming from the labels who have been obviously been ripping creators off, systematically, for all of history, by accounting tricks. Record sales are down for a lot of reasons but not because of Pandora, iHeart, etc. The record companies are making money off of Spotify. With upfront advances to offset, they made it work for them, but maybe not the artists. And those “artist exposés,” showing that they got a portion of a penny per spin, are just wrong-headed; people are misevaluating the numbers. Ask that songwriter how much
I think there is proof that non-interactive services like Pandora tend to promote record sales and discovery. I also think there is some substitutional impact on sales with on-demand services like Spotify. If you can play whatever, whenever, chances are for some people, there is no incentive to buy music. And artists are rarely aware of the actual rates these services are paying. So, you have PROs suing Pandora, artists suing labels over streaming, and labels suing Spotify over playlists. It can be confusing to know what side to be on. But this is the most important thing: in the roughly 15 years since digital music services have existed, not one has turned an annual profit. Not ONE!
they got paid for a radio play, and then think about this: one spin on regular radio (industry standard) is 7,000 listens. So, in reality they are getting single listens per spin and the rates are not dissimilar, if compared one to one. Why is there such disagreement over whether these services hurt or help artists? Labels want to say it’s a bad thing for their bottom line, but they can’t really prove it in most cases, so they are trying to extract as much money as they can, which is their right as a business. Publishers have always wanted to even the field with labels, so they will always fight for higher rates. The services are hampered by high licensing costs to grow
Are We Headed for a Digital Music Apocalypse?
This is the “apocalypse” you’ve been talking about? Yes. Again, numerous businesses have tried different business models with vastly different pricing, and no one has succeeded…there’s a reason for that. It’s the licensing burden, which can be upwards of 50-70% of all revenue, most of that going to the labels. When Pandora has 75% of market share and they can’t turn a profit, something is wrong! What’s the fix? Labels and publishers need to work with the digital music services to find some common ground. At the same time, we need to address how copyright royalty rates are set based on this digital landscape we live in…we’re going to see more companies go out of business causing disruption, higher costs, and less revenue for the music industry. This is especially true for the independent artists. The music publishing rates are fine as long as they don’t jack them up. That’s why I agreed with the ASCAP vs. Pandora decision. My hope is that with new judges on the Copyright Royalty Board, and having open discussions like this, we might see a positive change. 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. PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2014 25
photo by AVI PAUL WEINSTEIN
on Tracking Layered Textures While Keeping a Live Vibe
In the Studio with Brian E. King interview by BENJAMIN RICCI / photos by LIZ McBRIDE
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How did you choose the studio? We tracked drums and vocals at Ice Station Zebra because Ducky Carlisle has the best drum sounds, is a great vocal producer, and all-around fantastic engineer. Everything else on the track was recorded in my home studio.
ALBUM INFO & CREDITS Band Name: Parks Track: “Modern Fiction” (B-Side of “Sweater Weather” single) Recording Studios: Ice Station Zebra + Motel California Record Label: Self-released Produced by: Brian E. King Engineered by: Brian E. King (Motel California) + Ducky Carlisle (Ice Station Zebra) Mastered by: Roger Seibel of SAE Mastering Artwork: Liz McBride at www.lizmcbridephotography.com
PRODUCTION What kind of sound were you looking for and how did you achieve it? I was looking for a 1950s calypso-meets-Spoon vibe, which equates to big roomy drums and trashy sounding, spring reverb guitars. The second half of the song is completely different but reprises the original verse melody, which to me is pretty special and tough to do well. How does it compare to your last release in terms of style and the creative process? This was released in conjunction with the A-side of our 7-inch single “Sweater Weather” and both songs are based around drum patterns, which is unique to my songwriting. The goal was to keep the arrangements as simple and natural as possible with a lot of vibey ear candy and a memorable drum part.
How to bridge the two distinctive sections. I recorded 10 tracks of various feedbacks and pasted them all together in a bizarre collage and it worked! What were the toughest challenges you faced? Lyrics of course, solidifying the bass part, and getting the best sounds and feel possible - but I think we nailed it.
PRE-PRODUCTION What was your pre-production like on this project? Pre-production was simple. We knew the sounds we wanted and mostly how to get them, although there was a lot of tweaking as we went along. There are a few sections with totally different feels throughout, so that was a challenge in how to make them blend together - yet feel distinct.
Any funny stories from the session that you’ll be telling for a while? Having Ducky and the entire band in the same room is always a hilarious time with too many great stories to tell. I think one of us made a joke that every band has a sponsorship waiting for them somewhere and that Fleetwood Mac’s was probably cocaine. POST PRODUCTION How did you handle final mixing and mastering? Ducky mixed it and Roger Seibel of SAE Mastering mastered it for vinyl. The eventual album version will be sound a lot different. What are your release plans? We released it digitally and it’s the B-side of our 7-inch vinyl record, of which there are only 100 copies produced. Any special packaging? Just some amazing artwork by our keyboardist/ singer Liz McBride.
“I WAS LOOKING FOR A 1950s CALYPSO-MEETSSPOON VIBE, WHICH EQUATES TO BIG ROOMY DRUMS AND TRASHY SOUNDING, SPRING REVERB GUITARS.”
KEY RECORDING GEAR
· 1960s Ludwig drums · Epiphone Sheraton guitar · Matthew Girard’s custom Fiesta Red vintage Fender P-Bass · Fender Nashville Deluxe Telecaster w/ Loller bridge pickups · 1958 Danelectro/Silvertone U2 guitar · Vox AC15 amp · Vintage Premier Guitar Amp · Vibraphone · M-Tron II Pro (flutes) · Roland Jupiter 8 · AKG BX15 Spring Reverb · Baldwin Acrosonic (tack piano)
Did you use any special gear or recording techniques on this one? I used a 1958 Danelectro/Silvertone guitar and a Mellotron [for] vibes and strings. What was your philosophy on live, fullband takes versus individual tracking? We almost always track individually. Thankfully, we’re all exploding with ideas so it’s better to not be stuck with something that one of us will inevitably one-up in the future.
LISTEN NOW at parksband.bandcamp.com and follow on Twitter @parksband
Any special guests? Nope! What did you try to accomplish in the studio that you’re not able to do live?
Have a unique studio story to share? Email email@example.com PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2014 27
MY FAVORITE AXE
MORAN of Adela & Jude photo courtesy of the artist
Jude Moran is the guitar-slinging drummer in the Boston-based folk duo Adela & Jude, who travel the country playing songs that soothe troubled souls. MAKE & MODEL
1938 Epiphone Zenith Archtop WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU
The world. “Miss Nashville” was given to Brother Jude as a gift. She came from Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, and has never and WILL never be replaced. WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE
Heaven. WEAR & TEAR
I’ve strummed the daylights outta her, removing a lot of wood from the top in the process. CAN BE HEARD ON
“I’m On My Way” by Adela & Jude.
LISTEN NOW @ www.adelaandjude.com
Follow on Twitter: @AdelaAndJude
Got a favorite instrument you’d like to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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How to Fix Common Mistakes in the Studio
photo by LIZ McBRIDE
part 1 of 2 “Don’t worry, we’ll fix it in the mix.” We know it’s a cliché but often it’s true. The power of recording in a controlled environment with the right tools and the right engineer is that many common flubs or mistakes can be fixed. So let’s take a look at what can be corrected and what can’t the next time you’re in the studio.
We often start by tracking the rhythm section (bass, drums, rhythm keys/guitar and scratch vocals) and we are always looking to capture a tight performance, hopefully within the first three takes, while the energy is high. When musicians come back into the control room to listen back to these takes, the engineers are looking first and foremost for a great drum take. If there is a flub here or there on a bass line or a rhythm guitar track, that is easily fixable - but a sloppy drum track is difficult to repair. Why are drums harder to correct? First, it has to do with the fact that a drum set is actually many instruments, with many microphones, each on separate tracks. For example, a sloppy kick drum that slows down a bit here and speeds up a bit there poses a different problem than if the bass player did the same thing. If the bass strays from the beat, it’s fairly simple to chop up the offending notes and nudge them back into time. We can even use the kick drum track to help us line things up, since the bass and kick usually work together. But if the kick drum is sloppy, we will often need to cut EVERY drum track, since the kick drum not only has its own close mic but is also being picked up by every other mic in the drum room.
If we were to slide the close mic kick drum track only, you would still hear the timing mistake on the other tracks. “Well that’s not such a big deal,” I hear you saying, “so you just have to cut and move a few extra tracks, right?” Yes and no. The problem is that while the kick drum is being played, often other drums/cymbals were hit or were still ringing out, so when we cut and slide all the drum tracks a few milliseconds to correct the kick timing, now we introduce gaps in those other tracks which have to be fixed by manipulating them individually until those problems are corrected. In a typical four minute, 120 BPM song, you can easily have over 600 hi-hat strikes, 300 snare and kick hits, not to mention dozens of toms and cymbal hits. Even if only 1% of them have to be corrected for timing issues, you’re still looking at over a dozen edits. At some point it becomes time better spent to go back in and do another take. This is often one of the hardest decisions to make because whether or not further takes will yield better results is an unknown, and in our experience more takes usually bring out reduced energy and more frustration.
SNAP TO CLICK?
If the band records to a click, there are software tools that can “automatically” correct the timing by looking at the track’s transients and pulling every hit to the closest beat, but in our experience this software often leaves a lot to be desired. First, it needs lots of tweaking after the fact to correct for incorrectly moved beats and secondly, it tends to make performances sound
mechanical because the “groove” gets lost. You can “apply” a groove to the track either from another track (say the bass player’s track) or from a preset, but at this point we’re crossing the line into “why not just use a drum machine plug-in” territory.
Once a drummer makes it through the hurdles of timing issues, they don’t have to worry about the one’s we’ll cover in part two: pitch problems. If a bass player hits an occasional wrong note in his/her bass line – that’s an easy fix. We can either have them re-record over those parts and cut in the correct notes, or we can pitch correct the offending notes with pitch correction software (PCS). Rhythm guitarists almost always have to re-take those flubbed parts because chords are multi notes that PCS has trouble identifying – but again it’s a fairly fast and painless process to redub a part while the gear is still set up. Vocals are another matter, for another column…come back next month to learn all about fixing pitch problems in your vocal tracks. 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. PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2014 29
EPIPHONE Casino Hollowbody Guitar $599 (street – w/o case)
ROSEMARY PIERRO Glass Guitar Picks - $20
Great fit and finish; fantastic neck; highly responsive P90 pickups. CONS
he Casino has been around for decades, first brought to worldwide fame by the Beatles. Since then, Epiphone’s production has moved around the globe a few times, first from America to Japan, then to Korea and now China. While some aficionados maintain that the Korean-made Epis of the 1990s were better made than the contemporary models coming out of the brand’s Chinese facilities, this reviewer begs to differ. The production-line Casinos being produced today, in 2014, are perhaps the finest in the brand’s long history. Fit and finish are immaculate – the binding, the fret edges, the neck contour, the pickup routing. We were incredibly impressed by the aesthetics, even more so since it came in our preferred “natural” finish. What sets the Casino apart from other 335-style guitars is its completely hollow body (no sound block here like on the Dot) as well as its single-coil pickups (as opposed to Gibson/Epi’s standard humbuckers). Those two factors alone give the Casino a lighter, more articulated tone. We greatly preferred the detail and clarity we heard when A/B’ing it against similar guitars with semihollow constructions and full humbuckers. Those sounded a bit muddier to us – and yes, while they had a louder output and will perhaps overdrive an amp quicker, the P90s (yes, the stock pickups) in the Casino are so incredibly versatile, we couldn’t fine a genre they didn’t fit into with ease. The age-old problem of feedback was even a non-issue. We picked up a tiny bit of squealing just once, and never again; no need to stuff the sound holes. So all in all, if you’re in the market for a mid-range guitar that can pretty much tackle any job you throw at it, test-drive the new Casinos and fall in love like we did. David Larson
Expands creativity; unique sound. CONS
A tad pricey.
here are so many custom, one-off items for guitarists - from guitars and amps to straps and pedals, but picks seem to always be an afterthought. Rosemary Pierro crafts custom, one-of-a-kind picks in her native Hawaii to fill this niche. They’re hand made of glass, meaning that they vary from piece to piece in overall shape, thickness, and color. The blunt end has a unique textured ridge to it, providing a solid grip. For a player used to a standard Fender-style pick, it’s not too much of a jump. Thickness-wise, the two samples we received were each about 2mm, but have a surprisingly light feel to them for such a chunky plectrum. The thickness may not be for everyone, but overall they’re pretty unique; using the various edges can provide strumming Autoharp-like tones, which normally can’t be achieved with a standard pick. At $20 a pop from her online shop, they’re not cheap, but can offer some interesting tones. For a player who often loses picks on stage, this may not be a good application, but in a studio setting, they can open up a whole new world of sounds. Chris Devine
Body: 5-ply maple with basswood top bracing Neck: mahogany Fingerboard: rosewood with parallelogram inlays and 22 medium jumbo frets Fingerboard Radius: 12”, 24.75” scale Nut Width: 1.68” Neck Profile: SlimTaper “D” Pickups: Epiphone P-90T and P-90R 30 JUNE 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Neck Joint: 16th fret, Glued-in
Color choice: sunset, sand or surf Material: glass Measurements: Approx. 1.25” long x 1” wide x 2mm thick Origin: Hawaii
Professional option for preventive maintenance. CONS
coustic guitars are living things; despite the fact the tree has been cut down, the wood still interacts with its environment. It may have a finish on the exterior, but the insides are still raw and unfinished. Temperature and humidity can be a factor - too cold and dry, the wood contracts. At the other end of the spectrum too hot and humid, it expands. These environmental changes can cause all sorts of issues, not only in the sound of the instrument, but the playability, finish, and its structural integrity. So what to do? Years ago the solution was take a kitchen sponge, soak it with water, and throw it inside a guitar case. The problem with that was, depending on the season and where you lived, it would either not work at all and just dry out, or in humid areas, create a nasty mold problem in your guitar case. Music Nomad has a simple (and inexpensive) solution, a humidifier designed for especially guitars: a small plastic case with a flip top that holds a sponge. Simply wet the sponge with distilled water, and place it in the case. The case sits between the D and G strings. Slots on the case allow the water vapor out, with no leakage to your guitar. Simple as that. It’s a neat idea, actually. Want to see if it needs more water? Just flip the lid to check if the sponge is hard, and requires more. The Humitar is a cheap way to keep your acoustic playing (and looking) its best for years to come. Hot and humid summers may be on the horizon, but the cool, dry air will be back in the fall and winter - and one of these should be in every acoustic player’s case. Chris Devine
s s i M t ’ n Do s ’ r e m r o f Per Special e u s s I g Tourin
MUSIC NOMAD Humitar (Acoustic Guitar Humidifier) - $13.99
H T N O M NEXT
Long lasting, low maintenance Re-usable sponge Anti-drip, no-mess material Sponge holds 10x its weight in water PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2014 31
1970 Universal Audio 1176LN Limiting Amplifier (Rev C) AKA “The Blackface” Mic Pre
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ROLE IN HISTORY It’s classic, used on every important album since 1970. You couldn’t find a studio that didn’t have the blackface back in the day. WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE Warm and round is how I’d describe it. It finishes your idea on what the mic should sound like! BASIC FEATURES It’s pretty simple: a couple of knobs and meters. The “LN” stands for low noise, so the unit is a preamp that doesn’t boost DS voltage while giving you gain. In simple terms, you won’t hear buzzing. CUSTOM MODS As is, baby. MODERN EQUIVALENT The UA plug-in versions of these old preamps are wonderful and I recommend them highly, but if you have the room and pockets for the real thing, you will be glad you got it. CAN BE HEARD ON Everything from Elton John to Kings Of Leon. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Don Miggs is a singer/songwriter/producer and fronts the band miggs (Elm City/Capitol Records). His love affair with vintage instruments and gear only presents a problem when he’s awake. Find out more at miggsmusic.com, @ miggsmusic, thelalamansion.com or on his radio show, @thefringeAM820 (Saturdays 5-7pm EST).
WE’VE TAKEN DIGITAL WIRELESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL . . .
DIGITAL 2.4 GHz HIGH-F IDELITY WIRELESS Combining advanced 24-bit, field-proven performance, easy setup and clear, natural sound quality, our System 10 Stompbox delivers the ultimate wireless experience. With the tap of a foot on the rugged, metal Stompbox receiver, guitarists can toggle between dual ¼” balanced outputs or mute one output without affecting the other. And, since the System operates in the 2.4 GHz range, it’s free from TV and DTV interference. You can also pair multiple UniPak® body-pack transmitters with a single receiver to easily change guitars. So go ahead, give it a try – we think you’ll be floored.