u.s. $4.95 - canada $5.95
22 Mike Shinoda: Maybe I Should Shut Up Now
When a certain Mister Spielberg calls and asks you to do a song for his movie, of course you say yes. Or, if you’re Mike Shinoda, maybe.
28 Speech: Nouns, Verbs and Other Parts of Speech
First there was Arrested Development, one of the top hip-hop bands in the world. Then came silence. Then came Speech.
32 Keala Kennelly: Increments of Fear and Joy
Born of violent storms, massive waves travel thousands of miles, threaten shipping, destroy property and collide with jagged South Pacific reefs. And Keala Kennelly.
38 Over The Rhine: Lifelong Fling
A few years ago, Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist were forced to jar their marriage out of auto-pilot. It turned out to be a brilliant move for the music, but even more redemptive for their relationship.
44 Tom Ritchey: Pedaling Home
When world-class mountain bike designer Tom Ritchey first rode his bike in Rwanda, his heart took him the rest of the way.
50 Brian Setzer: Guitar Slinger
As the front man for The Stray Cats, Brian Setzer was drawn into roots-rock through the greaser Eddie “Summertime Blues” Cochran. Now, Setzer is shredding his Gretsch with Beethoven and Mozart. What gives?
Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Jamie Foxx, Ben Affleck, Terrence Howard, Jake Gyllenhaal
16 The Fiver
Lonnie Ali, Demon Hunter, & Rob Bell
56 Fashion: Rising Stars of Sound
Becoming a successful musician is not about glam, fame, and bling. It is more likely about touring around the country while eating gas station hot dogs, being squished into the back of a makeshift tour bus using a guitar case as a pillow, and making the kind of music you can be proud of. These five artists are ones that are worth watching.
62 Expressions: Brooke OlivaresHeart on Her Brush
The most interesting subjects to artist Brooke Olivares are found on the streets. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s drawn to those men and women with raw quality, a past, or a skeleton or two in the closet.
68 Movie Reviews 70 Music Reviews 67 Up to Speed
Black Eyed Peas, Daize Shayne, Adrian Brody
72 End Note
How far Africa?
8 :RISEN MAGAZINE
nov/dec:Contributors The Spiritual Edge of Pop Culture
EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF :: Steve Beard MANAGING EDITORS :: Nicole Aseia, Reid Davis FOUNDING EDITOR :: Chris Ahrens COPY EDITOR :: Dane Wilkins CONTRIBUTING WRITERS :: Trish T. Teves, Jeffrey Overstreet, Troy Meier, Owen Leimbach, Jason Reid, Sarah Polk, Kelli Gillespie, Kimmie McPherson, Kristi Wooten,
ART ART DIRECTOR :: Rob Springer PHOTO EDITOR :: Bob Stevens CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS :: Estevan Oriol, Michael Wilson, Bil Zelman, William Branlund, Mathew Scott, Greg Watermann ILLUSTRATION :: Zela WEB/MULTIMEDIA :: Andrew Harrill NEW MEDIA PRODUCTION :: Owen Leimbach PUBLISHER :: Michael Sherman ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER :: Dan Alpern ACCOUNTING :: Cynthia Beth SENIOR ADVISOR :: Nick Purdy ADVERTISING :: Dan Alpern, Asher Wood
RISEN Magazine is a subsidiary of RISEN Media, LLC. The views expressed by the subjects interviewed in RISEN Magazine are not necessarily those shared by the staff or publishers of RISEN Media, LLC.
10 3 7 1. Michael Wilson - Photographer Over the Rhine (page 38) “I've had the pleasure of making pictures with "Over the Rhine" since the band formed and consider the friendships of the likes of Linford and Karin a great gift. I've been making pictures for thirty years. I live in Cincinnati with Marilyn, my wife, Henry, Polly and Sunny, the kids.” 2. Bil Zelman - Photographer Speech (page 28) “Working with Speech was a brilliant and enjoyable experience. I think we spent as much time talking about our families and life on the road as we did making pictures. (My beautiful daughterAlex took the one here). He has a beautiful mind–And I hope my shots do him justice.” 3. Estevan Oriol - Photographer Mike Shinoda (page 22) “Shooting Mike was cool as always. I shot him before on stage and backstage when I was on the road with Cypress Hill and we did the Projekt Revolution tour with Linkin Park.”
10 :RISEN MAGAZINE
4. Troy Meier - Writer Brian Setzer (page 68) “Interviewing Brian Setzer was a big highlight for me. Anyone with the guns to tackle Tchaikovsky with a swingin’, rockabilly score–and pull it off–deserves huge bonus points! Biggest surprise: Brian’s utter humility and transparency.” 5. William Branlund Photographer Keala Kennelly (page 32) “Keala Kennelly is amazing, talented, humble, and such a sweet soul. My whole team–you guys rule. My daughter and my girl friend–the two most beautiful girls that I know.” 6. Kristi Wooten - Writer Over the Rhine (page 38) When not chasing after her 5 yearold daughter, Kristi Wooten spends most of her time devising grand schemes for making a living by writing about lifestyles, fashion and music. She especially enjoyed exploring the husband-wife dynamic of Over the Rhine. For more of her musings, visit kristiwooten.com.
7. Sarah Polk - Music Curator Sound (page 72) Formerly a record store manager, Sarah Polk is thankful to have an excuse to check out new music again. 8. Mathew Scott - Photographer Tom Ritchey (page 44) Mathew Scott was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. He later moved to San Francisco, where he attended the Academy of Art. He still lives and works in the Bay Area, always traveling around with a camera by his side. You can check out his images at www.mathewscott.com. 9. Kimmie McPherson - Writer Up To Speed (page 67) A pencil and paper are two materials that you will tend to find around Kimmie. Writing is a passion and love that has been developed over the years, and has come to define who she is. 10. Greg Watermann Fashion (page 67)
All interviews are recorded live and exclusively for use by RISEN Magazine. Interviews remain the sole property of RISEN Media, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of the contents of this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of RISEN Media, LLC. PRINTED :: USA
PUBLISHED :: San Diego Ca,
SUBSCRIPTIONS :: 858.481.5650 - risenmagazine.com $19.99 for a 1 year subscription (6 issues) • $29.99 for a 2 year subscription. Canada and outside of the US pay $25.99 for a 1 year subscription • $41.99 for a 2 year subscription. Payment must be sent with order. Send all orders to Attn: Subscription Department. For faster service please inquire about credit card payment. AD SALES :: Advertising rates are available upon request. For more information contact: Dan Alpern :: 805-205-3352 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. RISEN is published 6 times a year by RISEN Media, Po Box 291823 Kettering, OH 45429 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to RISEN Media, Po Box 291823 Kettering, OH 45429
RISEN Media, LLC 11772 Sorrento Valley Rd. Suite 152 San Diego, CA 92121 Tel. 858.481.5650 • Fax: 858.481.5660 email@example.com Copyright © 2007 “RISEN” is a Trademark of RISEN Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Cover Photo:: Estevan Oriol
nov/dec:Letter From The Editor
12 :RISEN MAGAZINE
a meteor. Fame brought him misery and the pills warped his personality. He struggled and prayed and tried to fight the darkness by singing gospel songs around the piano. Elvis was no saint, but he was not terribly different from you or me. He just did it with more swagger. As I smiled at the funky furnishings of the Jungle Room, my blood ran cold when I realized that Elvis died right upstairs. Surrounded by the redneck grandeur of Graceland, I was curious how Wentz was processing the experience. I recalled his starkly honest admission regarding his struggles with fame and hopelessness in a RISEN interview two years ago. “I traversed two ends of the spectrum where I wouldn’t care at all if I was alive or dead and I didn’t care about anything. On the other hand I was scared to leave the house,” Wentz told RISEN columnist Chris Ahrens. “I was nervous and thought that everything was going to kill me. I would have the longest conversations with guys from the bands who were Christian. It was a very desperate feeling of wanting to believe. I found myself wanting to believe so badly that it almost hurt. It keeps me awake at night. At the same time I felt overly pragmatic. I want someone to give me the map of heaven before I sign on. It’s weird for me….I don’t know where I am with belief, but I want that and it’s really important for me to have that in my life.” Elvis sang the same tune. He became obsessed with figuring out his place in the scheme of things, his purpose for life. During his first meeting with hairdresser Larry Geller prepping for a movie role, Elvis said, “Larry, let me ask you something….What are you into?” Geller responded, “Obviously, I do hair, but what I am really more interested in than anything else is trying to discover things like where we come from, why we are here, and where we are going.” This was the key to unlocking Elvis’s attention. “Whoa, whoa, man. Larry, I don’t believe it. I mean, what you’re talking about is what I secretly think about all the time,” said Presley. “I’ve always known that there had to be purpose for my life. I’ve always felt an unseen hand behind me, guiding my life. I mean, there has to be a purpose.” Geller was asking the kind of transcendent questions that Elvis was not getting with the Memphis Mafia—his team of security and advance people. Elvis experienced the shallowness of stardom but was a prisoner to his own success. “All I want is to know the truth, to know and
experience God,” Elvis told Geller. “I’m a searcher, that’s what I’m all about.” These are the kinds of quests that spark our interest at RISEN. We put a premium value on creativity, spirituality, artistry, and redemption. In the midst of the big questions and hot photos, we have always striven to be a magazine that dug in a deeper well. We have never been shy about our questions regarding faith, hate, loneliness, fame, love, and what lurks on the other side of life. Perhaps that’s why on the day after visiting Graceland, I slipped into a pew at the Full Gospel Tabernacle to hear the Reverend Al Green—the indescribable soul singer who sold more than 35 million albums. After 31 years, the modest congregation has become very familiar with the novelty factor of having a musical icon behind the pulpit. Nevertheless, they are here to have church, not impress the looky-loos (none of Green’s Greatest Hits collections are sold in the lobby). “If you feel like shouting, go ahead,” Rev. Al says among the hanky waving and amening. “If God’s been good to you, somebody needs to tell him thank you. He can make a way where there is no way!” Rev. Al has been sick all week and his doctor warned about not “sweating and carrying on.” Fat chance, Doc. Bedecked in his preaching robe and bling, Rev. Al talks about recently seeing Terrence Howard’s film Hustle and Flow. “How many pimps do we have in here?” he asks with a gleaming smile. “Anybody who works for a pimp?” He knows the answer, but wouldn’t be surprised to see a hand lifted up. In talking about his own shortcomings and redemption, he says, “God looked beyond my fault and saw my need.” Not a bad message—especially in the shadow of Graceland.
photo: Kenny Wilson
It was an oddly surreal experience to be walking down one of the gold-record adorned hallways of Graceland and spotting Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy and his girlfriend Ashlee Simpson in front of me checking out Elvis’ sequined jumpsuits. Wentz was in Memphis for a gig and swung through the King’s old haunt before the show. With the exception of a few giddy and gawking female fans, the two pop stars were able to make their way through the mansion unfettered. In many ways, Memphis is to music what Kitty Hawk is to aviation. It’s the cradle of rhythm ’n’ blues and rock ’n’ roll—the distillery of black and white musical moonshine. Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins revolutionized American culture in the scrappy Sun Records studio. Across town, Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, and Booker T. and the MG’s found their groove at Stax/Volt records. On the legendary Beale Street, B.B. King still holds court occasionally at his restaurant, while Isaac Hayes fronts his nightclub a few blocks away. The city is also the site of two of the most profound tragedies in our nation’s pop culture—the murder of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the balcony outside of Room 306 of the Lorraine Hotel in 1968 and death of the King of rock ’n’ roll at Graceland nine years later. The National Civil Rights Museum was created next to the Lorraine in order to pay respect to one King, while the gates of Graceland are opened to honor the other. Elvis’ mansion is strangely magnetic. It’s kitschy, fairly modest by Cribs-standards, and slightly mystical. I was particularly intrigued by Wentz’s presence because of his own struggle with severe depression and seclusion—the very demons that wrestled with Elvis. A few years ago, Wentz swallowed a handful of Ativan anxiety pills in what he called “hypermedicating” to deal with his darkness. The Graceland tour is a $25-per-person reminder that fame and fortune doesn’t equate to happiness. Sometimes clichés are true: Money can’t buy love. The wrought-iron gates around Graceland kept the crazies from knocking down the front door, but it also sequestered Elvis into a loathsome existence with cannibals devouring his cash, a manager who ruthlessly pimped out his talent, and sycophants who doped him up. Raised in poverty and southern Pentecostalism, Presley was a country boy from Tupelo, Mississippi, who shook his hips and shot through our tightly-wound cultural atmosphere like
Steve Beard Editor in Chief
Nicole Kidman – The Invasion
>> On Being a Better Global Community “I think staying in touch with the idea that we have to protect each other. The more we can understand that we’re basically all feeling the same things, I think that really helps. ‘Compassion’ is probably one of the most powerful words, and once you’ve undergone certain things in your own life, your ability to have compassion is far stronger. I think affection and compassion are things that we have to concentrate on.”
Terrence Howard – The Brave One
>> On Facing Fear “You ask yourself the question Spencer Johnson asked us in Who Moved My Cheese? ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’ It's consequences that people are going to think of that slow us down, but when you speak honestly from the heart… I don’t care if everybody in the world dislikes me, as long as I'm happy with me at the end of the day. As long as I can look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘Yea, I know you and I like you.’ That makes my day.” Kelli Gillespie – I love my job. And why not? I get to jet around the world to interview movie stars. Contrary to popular opinion, most are classy and endearing and care about the human race. From Jennifer Aniston to George Clooney, many celebrities make soul statements that don’t make the newsreel.
by Kelli Gillespie Cate Blanchett – Elizabeth: The Golden Age
>> On Love “We can get quite unsophisticated about what we consider love to be. You know, if you go back to Shakespeare’s sonnets, the complexity and the different types of love one can feel are so vast and immense. And you don’t need to sexually consummate a relationship in order to be desperately in love with someone and to have intimacy.”
Jamie Foxx – The Kingdom
>> On How to Talk With Kids “You know how you talk to a child: you talk to a child about good things. You tell a child good things—there will be enough bad things for them to run into. When I was a child, I believed everybody in the world was good, and just a few bad people. As I got to be older, it’s reversed. Everybody in the world is bad, and just a few good people. So when you talk to a child teach them just to love, to love life, to be respectful of others, and if you can, do like I do for my daughter...allow them to travel. My daughter’s gone to Italy, Africa, London, France...and see other people and see that everything is not everything you see on television, and everything you read... you get out and really see other kids living their lives and other people doing their thing, and you have a different perspective on it.”
Ben Affleck – Gone Baby Gone
>> On Deciding to Direct His First Feature "When I wrote it, I was originally going to act in it, that was the idea. I was developing it as a vehicle to act it and I thought, ’Oh, I’ll find a director.’ And then I started to like it more than I had, because I never really loved the adaptation we had—and we kept working, working, working on it. And then I thought... maybe I'll direct it. Becoming a parent obviously gave me a deeper sense of appreciation for the plight of children."
Jake Gyllenhaal – Rendition
>> On Working with an International Cast Overseas “We live in a society where there is just so much focus on, I think a lot of very materialistic things. They live in a world, particularly, where everyday life is threatened —or there is the potential—and they are alive and loving. It was amazing working with all these actors and it gave me a perspective on the world and on life that I encourage any young person, any young American to have.”
photo: Steve Moors
Grand Inquisitor: Chris Ahrens
A fiver with Lonnie Ali, caregiver, advocate for Parkinson’s disease awareness (www.FightForMore.com), and spouse to Muhammad Ali.
RISEN MAGAZINE: Were you born Islamic or did you convert? was raised Catholic and went through Catholic Lonnie Ali: Ischool from first to twelfth and then went to Vanderbilt, which is in Nashville, in the South. There I realized that I would probably not remain a Catholic, because I had visited some Southern Baptist churches and they were just awesome, some of the music was very moving. Then I went on a search. Of course, I knew Muhammad was a Muslim, he wasn’t orthodox at the time. I investigated several religions, Judaism being one of them, and decided that Islam fit me best.
it. Muhammad believes that if this is some burden that God wants him to bear, then he will bear it and try to make the best of it. He looks around to see how he can encourage others, how he can help those who might have this illness.
RM: Do you think there’s a special calling in being a caregiver? don’t think anybody signs up for that role. It’s something LA: Iyou fall into as a result of circumstance, and, if you really believe in…I know that most religions have ritualistic marriage ceremonies, where you marry for better or for worse. When you do that and your partner ends up with something like Parkinson’s disease, you become a caregiver, or a care partner, depending on where they are in that illness. When I married Muhammad he had Parkinson’s, so I knew what I was in for. That was okay, because I grew up with a father with polio. So, for me, being a caregiver and assisting someone with a physical challenge, that’s been all of my life.
RM: What sort of a man is your husband on a daily basis? he’s a man. [Laughs] Muhammad’s a very easy LA: He’s, person, believe it or not. He’s not a fussy person, he’s not
a demanding person. He goes with the flow. He doesn’t expect special treatment. He’s a great guy. He likes to be active, he likes to stay engaged, he likes to have causes that he can be associated with and help others. He’s very supportive of what I’m doing right here today, being a part of this campaign for caregivers. He’s not as strict or as stringent or as macho as he was in his younger years.
RM: If you’re husband could speak to RISEN readers, what do you think he would say? He would probably say keep the faith, keep fighting, LA: LA: live your life to the fullest, and enjoy every minute of life
that God has given you. Look at the gifts you have, the opportunities you have, and be positive.
RM: Illness, in a sense, can become an opportunity to grow toward thankfulness. approaches it that way. We believe that LA: Muhammad everybody’s been given a burden. It could be through your
own fault, not taking care of yourself, but sometimes you don’t know why you have something. Still, you try to make the best of
16 :RISEN MAGAZINE
To read a more comprehensive version of this interview, check it out online at www.risenmagazine.com.
photo: Andy Stonehouse
A Fiver with Rob Bell, author of Velvet Elvis and Sex God Grand Inquisitor: Nick Purdy
Risen Magazine: What’s a pastor doing playing rock clubs? All space is sacred, all ground is holy, the earth is Rob Bell: God’s and everything in it, isn’t that what the poets say? Every moment is loaded with divine potential. People write songs about their deepest fear and loves and questions and dreams and pain and then they share them with others from a stage in a club—that’s a powerful, sacred thing. A lot of us have found God and truth and beauty in clubs as much or more than in churches...
RM: Your tour is called The Gods Aren’t Angry. Who said they were? What’s the main point you’re making? friend of mine asked what the tour was called and when RB: AI told him, he said, “They are with me.” Where did he get that idea? If God is beauty and light and creativity and diversity and truth and peace and love, then how did we get the inquisition and the crusades and the Christian right in America? Why is it that such terrible things have been done in God’s name? To answer this, you have to go back to where we even got the idea of God in the first place.
RM: And what’s a Christian pastor doing saying “Gods” instead of “God”? thousands and thousands of years, humans lived with RB: For a deep-seated belief that there were lots and lots of
gods—gods of weather and fertility and power and war and art and politics and economics. And they believed that these gods must be kept happy or someone’s going to suffer. I’m tracing this primal story of our origins and asking if we’re still carrying around these primitive ideas.
18 :RISEN MAGAZINE
RM: Your Web site says that humans invented religion. Does that mean it’s a lie? has been a very destructive force in the lives of RB: Religion many people. It’s also given lots of people meaning and
joy and motivated them to feed the poor, care for the orphan, and work for peace. So the issue isn’t really religion—it’s what kind of religion. What does it promote? Who does it oppress? What does it value? Is it loving? Is it compassionate?
RM: What do you hope people get out of coming to your “show”? It’s all a gift. In spite of all the pain and heartbreak RB: Grace. and suffering and war and darkness in the world, I keep finding things growing in the cracks in the pavement. Do you know what I mean?
photo: Shane McCauley
A Fiver with Ryan Clark from Demon Hunter Grand Inquisitor: Nick Purdy
Risen Magazine: Demon Hunter isn’t just another band. You’ve created something like a movement. What’s behind it? the very beginning we’ve wanted to create Ryan Clark: From something big. Something with substance, that
RM: The band’s symbol is a skull with horns and a hole through it and it’s become an icon for Demon Hunter fans. What’s up with the skull and why are so many of your fans tattooing it on themselves? I created the logo before we had written any music or RC: anything. As soon as we’d concocted a name, I got to
transcends the common band. We wanted to give ourselves wholeheartedly not only to the music, but also create a world around the band. We take the fans, the visual aspects, the concepts, and everything else very seriously. And I think when you do that (and do it well), people take notice and they’re drawn to the depth of it all.
work on a logo. I wanted to create something iconic, that could stand just as well (and be recognizable) without accompanying type. I was pleased with the logo, but I had no idea it would get such an insane reaction. The story behind the tattoos is this: In previous bands, we had run across fans throughout the years with pieces of our bands’ artwork tattooed on them, and we thought that was the coolest thing. The only thing was, if we hadn’t randomly run into these fans, we would’ve never known of the tattoos’ existence. So when we started this band, we simply posted in our news that, if you had a Demon Hunter tattoo, to please send us a picture. And then they started spreading like wild fire.
RM: Some people think Demon Hunter’s metal/hardcore music is scary. What’s your take on the music you perform? would say it’s aggressive and bold, and sometimes RC: Icontroversial. Those things might be scary to some
people, but I don’t know if that’s a word I would use for it. I write about life issues. I write about what I see and experience— things that resonate with me in one way or another. Things that are very personal and close to my heart, and also things that I see happening to other people, that affect me from an outside perspective. I’ve written about everything from bigotry to addiction, the fear of death to the afterlife.
RM: What’s the meaning of the band’s name? Hunter is meant as a weapon, against the sinful, RC: Demon evil nature in the world and in ourselves. The purpose of the name is to give people a sense of realization in regard to these issues, and give them the means to help destroy them.
RM: Why should we buy Storm the Gates of Hell? It’s an honest album. It’s the best we’ve ever done. It’s RC: sonically more intense and stylistically more advanced than any of our previous albums. It’s vastly different than the cookiecutter metal that saturates the scene, and it has a depth that you’d be hard-pressed to find in so many one-dimensional metal bands.
NOV/DEC 2007 - Department 19
Writer: Chris Ahrens Photos: Estevan Oriol
inkin Park provides the soundtrack for a generation, producing celestial beats, more an experience than a sound really, and, I’m here to tell you exactly what their lyrics mean, and uh…diarrhea of the typewriter, Ernest Hemingway called it. Hey, this ain’t no press release so let’s be honest. OK, I’ve never seen Linkin Park live, don’t own one of their records, and couldn’t pick Mike Shinoda out of a police lineup. Really, I only heard the name Linkin Park four years ago, while eavesdropping on junior high kids debating the relative merits of the band. Kid One: “Is Linkin Park metal or punk?” Kid Two: “Linkin Park is rap.” It ended just short of a fistfight with me refereeing and wondering at the power to evoke such emotion. Knowing nothing at all about the group myself, I abstained from voting, never thinking that years down the line I would speak to Linkin Park’s emcee, vocalist/songwriter, rhythm guitarist, keyboardist, and pianist, Mike Shinoda, leaving the other fixtures for another day. Big deal, right? Well, kind of, with more than 40 million records sold (which equates to about one for every eighth U.S. citizen). And Paramount Studios must have thought Linkin Park is a big deal—big enough to bank their talent on a musical score for this past summer’s megaton theatrical drop, Steven Spielberg’s Transformers. While I’m at it, I should also confess that I usually don’t care for loud music or the people who make it—full of themselves, more hype than talent, peddling rehashed licks to the Clearasil
generation. And poor Mike Shinoda got me on a bad day, a hot day with good waves to be ridden. Instead I had to make a phone call to this guy that I didn’t know and didn’t really want to know. I mean, what would a surf-addicted cynic from the ’60s and some contemporary musician/artist have in common? OK, close your eyes and pretend you’re talking to the smartest kid in preschool, OK an average kid in preschool, all right, the dumbest kid in preschool. Ring. Hi, this is Chris from Risen Magazine, can I, I mean may I speak to Mike Shinoda? Please call back in ten minutes; he’s eating breakfast right now. Sure I’ll call back. [Sarcasm restrained] [Fifteen minutes later] Ring, ring. Hi, this is Chris from Risen Magazine. [Faking enthusiasm] I’ll get Mike. Hello. Hi Mike, this is... Two minutes into connecting with the voice, I hook up with a mind, an opinion, a sense of humor and gosh, this rock guy, or rap guy, this painter, producer, whatever…Maybe I can get an autograph for my nephew. I mean, he did sing for Spielberg and he knows words I have to look up, and…Shut up, Chris Ahrens. Listen, don’t judge until you’ve got all the facts, then shut up some more. This guy might just teach you something.
usively for Risen
NOV/DEC 2007 - Feature 23
Risen Magazine: Einstein said ideas came from outside of himself; where do you think they come from? Mike Shinoda: I think it’s far too early in my day for me to figure that one out. RM: OK, your best guess. MS: [Laughs] I’m just jokin’ with you, man. Actually, I’ve been trying to let ideas happen, as unedited as I can. Whether it’s something for artwork or music, I try to put the basic idea down first, before I start changing it. If I change it before it goes down, I’ll never know what the rawest version of it was. RM: I think that first impulse is almost a dream state and overthinking it clouds that vision. Not that he’s my hero, but Allen Ginsberg got to a point where he wouldn’t rewrite any of his poems, for just those reasons, I assume. MS: That’s a little extreme for what I do, but I can imagine some cases where it might work. It probably works better for art than for music. In art I can put down an idea that’s really raw, that will work for me. Musically, the ideas first appear a little rough around the edges.
RM: As a teenager, I’d sometimes meet a cute girl at the beach, and meet her later that night. After she had put on makeup and changed clothes, I’d think, What happened to that girl from the beach? MS: Yeah, I used to tell my wife not to wear any makeup. [Laughs] RM: So maybe that’s a theme throughout your life. MS: Nah, I think there’s a time for it. When we worked on Minutes to Midnight, as a band we tried to really get in touch with the idea of putting down the rawest version of the song first. I like to polish up a production, where I’ve looked it over ten times and I know every little detail of it, where there’re no cross-fades or anything like that. I had to learn to sort of let those things go, as something that gives the song character or makes it unique. RM: It seems to me that the best art and music feels like it’s always been around, as if it wasn’t written by anyone and belongs to everyone. MS: When I hear a song that’s really groundbreaking, there’s always a thought in the back of my mind that something about it is familiar. I remember, for example, the first time I heard Aphex Twin, the first time I heard The Roots, I knew that I was hearing something different, but obviously there’s a lot of other stuff that these guys grew up on. They take what they know and create their own original version of it. It speaks a lot to their influences and their personalities. That’s something Linkin Park strives to do. As musicians one of our goals is to make something completely original. You usually never do that, but you still shoot for it. RM: We live in a time when people are constantly listening to music, getting constant input; do you think we might be approaching input overload? Maybe it’s changed the way people process thought. 24 :RISEN MAGAZINE
MS: There’s a possibility, obviously, that our brains are working differently than in generations before us. I’ll say from my personal experience that it’s been a challenge and a focus of mine to actually sit with information for longer periods of time, even if it’s something someone said or emailed. You can sit down and turn other things off and enjoy that one thing. It’s good to have the opportunity to do that in your life. I think we will find ways to separate out the important stuff and spend time with it. If we don’t do that, I think we’ll feel it. RM: Were you a dreamer as a kid? MS: I wasn’t that daydreamer kid who sat in the back of a car and stared out the window, imagining crazy universes, like you see in the movies. Starting in like junior high, I would often put on headphones and imagine myself performing the music. Once I learned to play some instruments, I’d be trying to figure out how the music was made. RM: Do you feel you accurately communicate your passions to your audience? MS: The only thing I get concerned about, when I see Linkin Park imagery on the Internet, is that so many hands have been in contact with it, and that at a certain point the imagery changes. If you really want to know what a band is about, the best place to look is in the fresh source material that they put out—their album, their video. We have a very specific idea of the messages we try to get across, whether they’re serious like the video for “What I’ve Done,” or the new video, “Bleed it Out,” which is strictly for entertainment. We have an idea of how it’s supposed to sound to us, and then the listener can see it how they want. But if you put a bunch of pieces between us and the listener, it can get confusing. We had a vision for what Linkin Park was supposed to sound like when we were younger. Then, people would get their first impressions of us through those magazines, which, to be honest, was usually incorrect. A lot of bands you hear about won’t do interviews or photo shoots. It’s their art, their personality, and they don’t want it reinterpreted by some person they don’t know before it gets into a fan’s hands. RM: Have you ever felt a responsibility to change the world through your music or your art? MS: I don’t think that my ambitions were ever so lofty as changing the world. I just always liked playing music and painting and designing and drawing, and that’s kind of the start and end of it. [Laughs] I watch these American Idol-style artists on TV and the radio, and sometimes I believe what they’re saying, while other times I think it’s what their publicist told them to say. It’s ridiculous when you hear someone who doesn’t write their own music say that the art is, you know, their life…They may have a great talent for singing, but everything they’re doing is someone else’s art. With a legendary band like Metallica there’s absolutely no doubt in anybody’s mind that they live and die for what they do. In Some Kind of Monster, you see what they put up with. They fight and they claw at each other and they freak out. They love doing something one minute, they get tired of it and hate it the next minute. We were in the studio with Rick Rubin, and he went straight from our project to Metallica. All of a sudden, I see them [Metallica] out on the road. They were playing shows the same time we were, and I thought, What the heck are they doing? They haven’t finished their album yet. Then I saw the name of their tour, which was something like “Sick of the Studio Tour.” They do these things to keep themselves
entertained, just like the rest of us. We do things to keep our art fresh, so it’s at the highest level it can be. RM: Seeing Some Kind of Monster, I kind of felt sorry for the guys in Metallica. It was like they had run out of fuel and had to invent new things to be mad at, more trivial things. MS: I had a similar reaction to the movie. I think it’s funny to think that paying the bills and taking care of our families would be trite in comparison with something like The Sandman Cometh. Funny thing is, I used to think those old Metallica lyrics were badass, but some of them now sound really young. Honestly, if those lyrics came out today sung by another band, I don’t know if I’d love them as much. I loved them then because they were Metallica, and because of the presentation. Coming back to us, I think that on Hybrid Theory, we were concerned with younger issues, but they were 100 percent valid for us at the time. The things we wrote about then were things we thought about every day at the time. I hear those lyrics now and it transports me back to high school and college. When we jumped into the studio to do Minutes to Midnight, writing lyrics similar to the ones in Hybrid Theory would have been insane. The six guys in our band and Rick [Rubin] had conversations as to whether some of our lyrics would be too much for our fans to handle. Obviously some of our fans would be as excited about that stuff as we were. We’ve sold 40 million records; we didn’t want to alienate our fans. Then we realized that as much as we’ve grown up, our fans had grown up. We need to be talking about the things we care about now. RM: I have a theory that there’s an internal rhythm in each person that changes over time, and we are always in tune with that. When you’re thirteen years old, your rhythm is fast and you want something to jack you up, so you can rip on your skateboard. When you’re forty, you need something to bring you down. MS: There’s a lot of media for that purpose. If you see Transformers, it’s fantastic, one of those basic stories that show up in every good movie. On our albums and in our concerts there are things that speak to our fans’ issues and problems. It doesn’t solve them, but it speaks to them. For Chester [Bennington] and I, we’re writing lyrics, when we write a song about the bigger picture, we try and write in a way you couldn’t say in everyday conversation. It drives me nuts when I’m asked about a song, like they want the Cliff Notes version. My instincts are, Well, go listen to the lyrics. I spent seventy hours on the lyrics, and I’m not going to spend seventy seconds summing them up for you. If it’s not there for you, it’s not there, but for me, it’s there. RM: Fantasy writer George MacDonald was asked what a story meant and he replied, “If my dog can’t bark, I won’t sit up and bark for it.” MS: [Laughs] I think that’s perfect. That’s funny. RM: It seems that Transformers must have been rewarding. MS: It’s funny; it was actually a huge controversy in the band for a couple of weeks. When any band hits the limelight for the first time, people come out of the woodwork offering placement for your band, and your music and yourself. We’ve always been a little careful about that, a little standoffish. Sometimes we look at the things we’ve done with a little embarrassment. No offense to Adam Sandler, but we put a song in his movie Little Nicky. That always gets a big laugh out of
our band. We couldn’t put one of our songs in a movie like that now; it just doesn’t fit. Transformers, this is Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg, they come to us and ask if we ever played with Transformers when we were kids. Joe [Hahn] and I, we practically lived and died by Transformers. That was our favorite toy when we were kids. Joe’s Korean and I’m half Japanese. There’s a little bit of a cultural attachment to the big robots like Robotech and Transformers. So they say, We’re going to make this into a movie. They were talking about putting Linkin Park shirts on the kid in the movie, having it everywhere. Money aside, because obviously a project like that is lucrative…Let’s think about the implications, about what this does to us. It was a really difficult conversation. They brought some scenes from the movie down and we could see that it was a great fit for us.
RM: It seems there’s a correlation between working with the hands, art in your case, and genius. And yet many of the shops and garages are gone from Southern California schools. MS: [Laughs] If I answer that question like you ask, it makes me feel kind of trapped. I mean, if I answer it one way does that mean I’m calling myself a genius? [Laughs] RM: Sorry, that was kind of a lame question. MS: No, one of the ways I feel really lucky is sitting down with a computer on an art project, sending artwork to somebody else, open to the idea that somebody will tell you what’s wrong with it. I was in Art Center in Pasadena, studying illustration. We would spend weeks on projects and craftsmanship was a huge part of the curriculum. You spend forty hours on a project and then put it up in front of thirty to forty people, who see it for ten minutes, and pick apart every single thing. It’s humbling, you get a sense of what it takes to separate your own personal attachment to your work. Sometimes the criticism that bothers you the most is the truest. RM: It seems that writing a song would require a big burst of ego, along with great humility. MS: I hear what you’re saying. It’s a challenge to get in the right state knowing that a lot of attention will be on it. I’ve had experiences where I feel like something’s gonna fly and it doesn’t. If you put too much energy into thinking something is going to be the best…it’s way more important to do something you really like while being respectful to your fans. To me, it’s important to put your creative needs first and the fans’ needs a close second. RM: Where do you see yourself in 10,000 years? MS: Uh, [Laughs] it’s pretty likely that this thing we’re doing, as important as it seems to me now; that to other people it won’t be as important in even one hundred years. Mike Shinoda continues to work as a fine artist and a musical producer when not playing music with side project, Fort Minor, or Linkin Park. Linkin Park’s current release, Minutes to Midnight, is available in record stores and online.
NOV/DEC 2007 - Feature 27
Nouns, VerBs anD
ParTs f o ---------
--------------------------------------------Writer: Chris Ahrens Photos: Bil Zelman
down Arrested Development t’s been about three years since Scott Hancock and I first tracked has passed beneath the frontman Speech for a RISEN MAGAZINE interview. Since then much water Scott has founded a global proverbial bridge; I have continued asking questions professionally, er of the gospel—quite a force for good called The Glue Network, and Speech has become a minist ted to a hip hop artist, along departure for a guy who in 1993 accepted the first Grammy ever presen Year” from Rolling Stone. with a twin statue for best new artist, and the title of “Band of the
We were reunited at the Menage Hotel in Anaheim where Glue was hosting the Freedom Project, a fund- (and consciousness-) raiser to help end slavery and forced prostitution (which, if you don’t know, is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry, sacrificing children to sweat-stained Molechworshiping perverts internationally). And there was Speech, one of the best rappers and songwriters of our time, joyfully greeting us in the hotel lobby as a long-lost brother, a true brother just as he is to the oppressed, the downtrodden, the poor, the lame, the tortured, the abused, offering me a big hug and offering his big talent, his heart, his words, his voice, his passion, his every syllable to the one who made it all possible. Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine. Risen Magazine: In the early ’90s, Arrested Development went from being one of the top hip hop groups in the world to near obscurity. What happened? Speech: I don’t know exactly how that came about. From my own perspective, a lot of changes were taking place—the group was famous, but there was a lot of internal stress. It was very intense. I was in my early twenties and was getting tired. Also, music was changing [violent gangsta rap was emerging] and I wouldn’t change with it. My dream was to continue taking people on the journey we had started in the first album. We had been talking about selfdetermination, change, indigenous culture. RM: File that under “All things work together for good…” Speech: Now, yes, but at the time there was a lot of depression…it was so short-lived, but that was one of the reasons I really started to search for God. RM: Do you think people search for God more in weakness than in strength?
Speech: In desperation, low points, yeah, I think so, but it depends on the person. I needed to be humbled, to stop for a moment. Things were very fast-paced back then. RM: I would imagine that it’s difficult working with a group of passionate, creative people. How do creative people keep from killing each other? Speech: [Laughs] It was a challenge, but in time we were able to overcome it and learn to appreciate each other, after having some time off. RM: So, you’re still friends with all those people? Speech: Yes, but one member of the group, Headliner…we could sit and reminisce about great times, but we know which buttons not to push. RM: It must be difficult being the leader of a group with someone who calls himself Headliner. Speech: [Laughs] That’s funny, I actually gave him that name. He used to cut hair, so it really came from that, lining up heads. NOV/DEC 2007 - Feature 29
RM: What turned the switch in your search for God? Speech: I wasn’t looking for God at the time. No, I guess I was looking for God, but not a Christian God. Nisha, a sister in our group, kept inviting us to church, but my wife and I weren’t really interested. We had seen hypocrisy in churches, but we finally came, about six months after first being invited. We didn’t really like it too much, but we saw that there was something interesting about it. There was a certain joy, a certain family connection that we saw. We went back and we were asked to study the Bible by some members. I always have liked those kinds of invitations. This was very different and I ended up believing in Jesus.
We ReAlly doN’t know VeRy WELL At All. RM: If I were Satan, I would do something misogynistic or racist and let people believe it was really Jesus doing those things. Speech: Right, many people know about Jesus, but don’t know exactly who He is. RM: Who do you say Jesus Christ is? Speech: I say he’s the definition of revolution, the definition of goodness, God. RM: You’re now a minister; what did you preach your last sermon on? Speech: The film The Secret. I went into some of the good attributes of it, but I spoke about some of the dangers of it also, and where it strays from the Bible. RM: One of the most unpopular biblical beliefs is to die to ourselves. How do you do that? Speech: It’s a daily thing. It would be way too overwhelming if I tried to do it all at once. RM: A friend and I were just speaking of how marriage is great training for dying to self. Speech: Yeah, right, right, right. I find marriage is one of the things, one of the refining things, marriage and kids. A lot of times people don’t deny self when they’re single, but when you want to do this and the wife wants to do that… RM: Do you have any special methods for raising your children? Speech: I have two kids, ages nine and twelve. I don’t know if my way’s special, but I believe that children should obey. You see so many families where the kids don’t obey. To me that’s sad, because there’s a blessing in obedience, and kids are much more joyful when they obey. I think in our time, having your rights…obedience seems rough; it seems harsh when I say it to a fellow American. I don’t know how you or some other American reading this will see it. I know that it’s a biblical thing, it’s totally healthy, it’s loving, it’s positive. It’s sad that that word has been stolen, the joy of the word, the awesomeness of the word, even when it comes to the joy of adults obeying God. RM: There are things within Christianity that are hard to understand—animal sacrifices, children dying… Speech: Personally, we can’t comprehend it all. To us death is spooky, but to God, it really isn’t. The animals, the children, all of that…the Old Testament seems pretty gruesome, with all of the tribes and children and animals He wants killed. Those things seem pretty 30 :RISEN MAGAZINE
harsh. Are they condemned? Those are pretty hard questions that I ask myself. But I’ve had to think that it may not be harsh at all, maybe God is just calling someone back. It can be confusing at times. I put on my Web site, “Confused until further notice.” [Laughs] RM: We talk about God like he’s the guy next door, but biblically he’s the one who said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. How well can we know a God like that? Speech: I totally agree that we really don’t know God very well at all. RM: When do you feel the most connected with God? Speech: There are a lot of times during the day that I feel connected with God—seeing my children and my wife at home, a lot of different things. It happens frequently and not always there, having conversations like the one we’re having now.
RM: Do you sense God when you’re on stage? Speech: Certain nights, yeah. RM: Is that similar to when you’re preaching? Speech: To me the stage and preaching are two different worlds. The stage, in general to me, is more about expression and music and things of that nature, whereas preaching is more of a Spirit-driven thing. RM: Do you think that all music is spiritual? Speech: I do, and spiritual to me can be good and bad. RM: Do you have any recurring dreams? Speech: I sometimes have panic attacks in my dreams about monkeys attacking me, spiders coming at me. [Laughs] I’m not scared of spiders or monkeys, but I fight ’em in my dreams and sometimes my wife will jump out of bed and run away from me. While that hasn’t happened too much, it obviously comes from stress. Other than that…it just happened to me today. I didn’t sleep that well last night, so when I’m tired… RM: How did you fall in love with your wife? Speech: I started to fall in love with her on our first date. She has such substance to her. At one point in my life when things weren’t going well, she was the only one that would visit me. RM: Does she ever get jealous of songs like “Esmerelda,” which are about other women? Speech: [Laughs] I call it "Esmerelda," but the song is actually about her and how we met at the post office, the whole thing is about her. I’ve written so many songs about her that I sometimes feel I need to change it up. RM: Where do you see yourself in 10,000 years? Speech: I see myself with God, singing.
Arrested Development’s newest CD, Since the Last Time, can be purchased online or in record stores. Check out a FREE MP3 from Since the Last Time on Risen Radio at risenmagazine.com.
Big waves are not measured in feet but in increments of fear. —Hawaiian surfing proverb Writer: Chris Ahrens Makeup: Linda Highsmith for Laura Mercier Cosmetics Photos: William Branlund Hair: Kim Maxwell for bumble and bumble
ote to non-surfers: When world-class big-wave rider Keala Kennelly speaks of riding six- to eight-foot Pipeline, she is verbalizing about another dimension. There is no easy conversion table for those numbers. You won’t find them on any yardstick. Even knowing that Hawaiians tend to measure waves from the back, rather than the face, is not much help. You can double or triple the figures and still not understand. Not really. You see, this is not just about height, it’s about volume. Imagine a wall of saltwater upended on your head while you are standing on a bed of nails, and you begin to get the picture. But imagining it and being there are as different as seeing a picture of a lion
and being locked in a cage with one. Nothing you have ever done before will prepare you for the experience. Pipeline is not a normal surf spot, any more than a great white shark is a normal sea creature. And those who ride above Pipeline’s spiked coral bottom, which rests just feet beneath the surface, realizing that others have made those jagged subterranean caves their graves, are not normal surfers. Keala Kennelly is not normal in her courageous approach to waves like Pipeline. Maybe it was her upbringing on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where she became intimate with waves traveling thousands of miles before colliding with the reef, that made her so daring. She has ridden bigger waves than any woman in history and is well aware that such pursuits can be dangerous, possibly fatal. She also knows that not riding them, for her, is the only thing that’s worse.
Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine.
Risen Magazine: When was the last time you felt fear in the ocean? Keala Kennelly: The last time I felt fear in the ocean was at Pipeline, last February. I hadn’t surfed in over a month due to my heavy work schedule on the HBO TV series [the recently canceled John From Cincinnati]. They let me go home to Hawaii for a few days, and I went straight to Pipeline. It was like six to eight foot, but it had this weird backwash-type thing to it. When you went to take off, it would jack up about two feet, right at the peak, and throw you up in the air as you were taking off. It was pretty gnarly. I watched a few guys get tossed pretty hard, which made me start to feel fearful. When you feel that fear start to creep up, you have to shut it down immediately. If you focus on it for too long, you will psych yourself out. So, the next set
wave that came, I spun around, paddled, and threw myself over the ledge. The wave jacked and threw me out with the lip. The force of that wave sent me through my board, snapping it in half. I had been on a new board that I had never ridden before. It was destroyed on its first wave to shouts from all the Wolfpack boys from the Volcom house. My body was pumped full of adrenaline, but the fear was gone. I swam in to get another board. RM: What else scares you? KK: Losing people I love scares me the most. Snakes scare me. Car wrecks. How can people be driving along one minute and be dead the next? Cancer scares me. Psycho terrorists scare me. Desperate people that have nothing to lose scare me. Guns scare me. Tsunamis, earthquakes, tiger sharks, diseases, and greed. RM: How do you overcome fear? KK: I try to face my fears. The fears that are too great or are out of my control, I just try to find peace with them. RM: How do you think you would do on the show Fear Factor? KK: As soon as they bust out the snakes, you would just see a cloud of dust as I run the other way. [Laughter] RM: What makes you cry? KK: When I see innocent people suffering. When I accidentally hurt people’s feelings. When I see the damage we humans do to each other and to the planet we live on. RM: Have you ever laughed so hard you pissed your pants? KK: I usually make it to the bathroom, barely. I once had a friend who laughed so hard, and when she ran to the bathroom, it turned out to be the closet…Too late! RM: What fuels aggressive surfing for you? KK: When there are other aggressive people in the water. You can feel the energy change. I don’t like it. Surfing goes from being fun to feeling like a blood sport. RM: Apparently you nearly drowned in Tahiti last year; what were 34 :RISEN MAGAZINE
your thoughts at the time? KK: I couldn’t believe my time was up. I saw my life flash before my eyes. I saw my family and friends and dogs. I remember feeling regretful, because I was fighting with my best friend at the time. I wasn’t ready to die. RM: A lot of surfers I know have used the ocean as a retreat. Is it a retreat for you, or simply a treat? KK: It’s a retreat and a treat. I feel like the ocean washes you clean of all negative grime that sticks to your soul. It purifies you and makes you feel alive again. RM: Have you ever been shy? KK: Yes, when I was about 14. I had always been really outgoing and outspoken, but in high school, I had to mute that part of myself a bit, just to survive. High school for me was a lot like prison; you would just try not to draw too much attention to yourself, because people were looking for any excuse to hassle you for being a white kid. RM: Is there a part of your reasoning that you shut off when you ride a big wave? KK: Yes, you can’t think about the consequences. If all you are thinking about is wiping out, chances are that’s exactly what is going to happen. RM: What drives you to risk it all for a wave? KK: I think it’s the adrenaline rush that I know I am going to feel. I think I might have a chemical dependency. It feels good, you crave that feeling. RM: Do you feel any limitations on your life? KK: The limitations I used to feel are put there by society. When you are a woman, especially one trying to thrive in a male-dominated sport and industry, you can start to feel like a second-class citizen. It has been a battle just to find a place here, and to find a voice. But I am here every day, motivating and inspiring other women to live their dreams and fight for what they believe in. When you can have an effect on that many people, it’s a powerful thing. Powerful enough to bring about change. Now, the only limitation I feel I have is time. Will I have enough time to change all the limitations society puts on women in my lifetime? I hope so. RM: All societies have prejudice, and while Hawaii had its own sexist practices, it seems they did not apply to sports. I read in Thrum’s Hawaiian Annual, published in the 1800s, that men and women surfed in equal numbers and ability in the distant past in Hawaii. What do you think changed? KK: I think the missionaries came and forced their ways and way of thinking on the Hawaiian people. RM: Would you like to see more women surfing? KK: Yes, I would like to see more women doing every kind of sport. Sports are good for young women; they give them direction, goals, and make them feel good about themselves. They also make them stronger and healthier.
RM: Surfing, as with most things, has become highly corporate. How would you react to a surf break called Abercrombie’s Left, Quiksilver Reef, or Verizon Point? KK: That would be so tacky.
RM: What do you think your dreams mean? KK: Dreams are your hopes, fears, fantasies, ambitions, anxieties, ideas, creative thoughts, all blended together to entertain you while you’re sleeping.
RM: Do you enjoy acting? KK: Yes, I love acting.
RM: How do your friends describe you? KK: Loving, compassionate, good-hearted, generous, funny, impulsive, determined, prideful, loyal, open-minded, fun.
RM: Is your character, Kai, from John From Cincinnati similar to you? KK: Kai and I are the same at our very core. We share the same heart and compassion for people. We are also very different. The environment she was raised in has made her who she is, just as mine has made me who I am. I was raised in beautiful Hawaii with a loving,
RM: Are you a loyal friend? KK: So loyal.
supportive family. Her life was different. Kai was raised in [the San Diego suburb] Imperial Beach, a sketchy border town, just above Tijuana. She seems to have no family of her own…possibly orphaned…which is why she has attached herself to the highly dysfunctional Yost family. She has had a lot of disappointments in her life, and she struggles with issues of self-worth. She has so much love to give and is just hoping to get some love back. Sometimes I just want to give Kai a big hug.
RM: How do you think God would describe you? KK: Loving.
RM: Do you think the show portrays surfing accurately? KK: I think it did. I think Shane Beschen and John-John [Florence] did a great job of doubling for Butchie and Shaun.
RM: Does independence have its drawbacks? KK: It can be very stressful at times.
RM: Why does Hollywood always seem to get surfing wrong? KK: I think Hollywood used to in the past, because they didn’t hire the right consultants. Movies like North Shore, where you see Rick Kane take off on a wave and he is a regular foot, then he is goofy foot, the wave looks like Sunset, then it looks like Makaha. I think Hollywood is a lot more careful about that these days. Nobody scrutinizes continuity more than surfers watching surfing. RM: Do you ever dream about surfing? KK: I dream about surfing. I dream about Teahupoo and riding these incredible waves. I dream about it being too big and feeling scared. I dream about competing; sometimes I am winning, sometimes I can’t even do a turn. Lately I dream about showing up to a contest and I can’t find my boards, or I am late for my heat. I think it has to do with the fact that I quit the tour and feel so far away from the competition aspects of surfing. I dream about JFC and being Kai. I’m in Imperial Beach and John [John From Cincinnati] is there. I have a dream that as Kai, I’m making out with Butchie, kissing each other, so passionately. That’s always strange. [Laughs] I need to call Brian Van Holt [Butchie Yost from JFC] and tell him about that one, so we can have a big laugh about it. He is really sweet. So is Austin. I love those guys. RM: Do you have any recurring dreams? KK: I have a recurring nightmare. Snakes eat me and I die; it sucks.
RM: What do you look for in a friend? KK: Loyalty, honesty, openness, compassion, good sense of humor. I like good-hearted people that are fun.
RM: How would you describe God? KK: Oneness. RM: Are you an independent person? KK: Yes.
RM: When was the last time you punched somebody? KK: In high school. RM: What would you punch somebody for? KK: If they hurt somebody I loved, or to protect my loved ones or myself. RM: Are you the same person when you’re alone at night as you are when there are people around? KK: No, when there are people around, I want them to feel comfortable and I give them attention. Sometimes I feel the need to entertain them, so I am not completely relaxed. When I am alone, I don’t have to consider the feelings of others, and I can relax and be with my own thoughts. Plus, I can walk around my house naked, without it being awkward, and I like that. RM: Where do you see yourself in 10,000 years? KK: That depends on how we treat the planet, now. If there is such a thing as reincarnation and we continue killing the planet at the alarming rate we are now, there will be nothing to come back to.
Keala Kennelly continues to pursue her passion of riding the biggest waves she can find. NOV/DEC 2007 - Feature 37
Over The Rhine Lifelong Fling WRITER: Kristi York Wooten PHOTOS: Michael Wilson
inford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist, otherwise known as Over The Rhine, are a pair of kindred souls and starcrossed musicians whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been churning out poetic, multi-genre song cycles for almost two decades. Famously sincere, the married duo has earned a reputation as peerless songcrafters, drawing comparisons to seminal husbandand-wife teams such as Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan. Their latest album, The Trumpet Child, revisits mid-century melodymaking with 11 songs set to the warm glow of piano, strings, and horns, each with varying emotional temperaments. Since 1991 and despite record sales into the hundreds of thousands, Over The Rhine has continually eschewed the bright lights of New York and LA for a life in Ohio that includes three beloved dogs, fields of goldenrod, and the occasional jaunt around the world, performing material from their dozen-plus albums for leagues of devoted fans in cities as disparate as Paris, France, and Greenville, South Carolina. Ensconced in their 180-year-old farmhouse outside Cincinnati, Detweiler and Bergquist kick back to reflect upon their marriage, their music, and their careersâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and what keeps it all together. Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine.
NOV/DEC 2007 - Feature 39
Risen Magazine: How does your working relationship affect your marriage? Karin Bergquist: They’re very intertwined. So it’s hard for me to separate them. I’m sure that [Linford and I] are both fairly intuitive writers. I know that what is going on with me personally does end up in some form on the page or in the song, and I think that’s sort of a natural way for me to work it out. We actually led a songwriting workshop in Santa Fe and somebody asked the question, “Is writing as therapy a good thing?” Some songwriters think writing as therapy is never a good thing, and I disagree. I think anytime you can put the pen to paper or type words on the screen and something comes out that is maybe trying to work its way out, I think that’s great. So whatever I’m dealing with or thinking about or living is going to end up in the song. It may not be overt. Sometimes it’s just a color or a line of the song. If our relationship is a big part of who we are, then it’s definitely going to end up in our music, and they’re very intertwined. Linford Detweiler: Karin and I had a pretty natural working relationship when it came to our music, and that sort of led to a romantic relationship. After we were married, the biggest challenge was learning how to stay connected when we were on the road. Touring is very communal. A marriage can kind of get lost in that community dynamic, so we had to learn to find little ways of staying connected while we were on the road. We’ve worked hard on both our musical partnership and our marriage. As far as our music goes, we have no problem whatsoever being objective with each other. We’re fairly harsh critics—honest— and we do push each other to do the best work we can do.
going to move to New York or L.A., even though we had signed with an L.A.-based record label [IRS]. We didn’t want to move to Nashville, either. I think part of it at the time had to with a small group of influential people who were living here in Ohio. Michael Wilson, a photographer, was a real mentor to Karin and me, and he’s based in Cincinnati. He’s a real music lover and there’s something really musical going on in his photographs, especially his personal work, that we were drawn to. RM: Is there such a thing as a Cincinnati music scene? LD: Cincinnati has a lot of radio history, in terms of big, big AM stations that were based here back during the glory days of radio, broadcasting all over the U.S. There was a record company based here called King Records that was one of the first integrated record labels that signed both black and white musicians. We play the song “Fever” that Peggy Lee made famous and that was first recorded here in Cincinnati. There’s a great big band here in town that plays every Wednesday night, a great music conservatory here, a great orchestra, and there’s a whole array of bands and songwriters that call this part of Ohio home, but it’s kind of all over the map.
We sort of quit trying to be a rock band and quit trying to be an indie band or whatever, and just tried to capture songs that felt like they were really close to who we were and what we cared about.
RM: Much has been written about the career break you took in 2003. You stopped touring to work on your marriage. What happened? LD: We hit a rough patch when we released our double album, Ohio. The album was getting great reviews. There was a lot of momentum. We were touring pretty heavily, and there again, I think the marriage was on autopilot a bit, which is a really dangerous place for a marriage to be. And it was a really hard decision, but we did shut everything down for a while and canceled a good bit of our national tour, and came home for about six weeks. I think probably the most amazing thing that came out of that was not only the fact that we were able to make a fresh start as a couple and salvage our relationship and move to a new place that was really good for both of us, but what was even more inspiring in some ways was the response that we got from listeners and so many people who were truly disappointed that they weren’t going to have a chance to see the band, because they had really embraced the songs. So that was pretty heartening and pretty encouraging for us. RM: Over The Rhine has earned a reputation as being “the Ohio band.” Tell me about Cincinnati and why you have chosen to stay there. LD: It is a decision that we revisit on a fairly regular basis. We did decide early on in our careers that we weren’t
40 :RISEN MAGAZINE
RM: Linford, the piano playing is one of the best things about your latest record, The Trumpet Child. Piano is definitely undervalued in pop music. Why did you switch to piano after originally being the band’s bass player? LD: My first instrument was the piano, and it is a very special instrument for me, because it’s where I went as a young child to hang out when I didn’t have words for what was going on, difficult stuff that I was seeing, whatever. So now that I’ve moved to the piano, it has influenced the direction of the band. As far as pianos go, I’m drawn to pianos with broken hearts. Pianos that are barely functioning. Old upright pianos. Saloon pianos. We used a grand piano on The Trumpet Child, but it was an 85-year-old Steinway. It was a strange piano that I never quite figured out, but I like that—when pianos have sort of a strong personality.
RM: How did you get from the sort of rock sounds of your first album, Till We Have Faces (1991), to this refined, almost oldworld sound? LD: When we started out, we were a quartet with guitar, bass, and drums. I was playing bass. We were kind of young and very wideopen to what we could be as a band. It was a little gritty and electric, but there were always acoustic things going on too. I guess, loosely, we were an indie band or some kind of alternative, folk-tinged pop band or something. And as we grew up, Good Dog Bad Dog [released in 1996] was a real turning point. IRS was one of the early casualties of the record industry consolidations. We were all of a sudden on the street without a record label, and to make a long story short, we did a more understated record called Good Dog Bad Dog where it was really about the songs and the textures. We sort of quit trying to be a rock band and quit trying to be an indie band or whatever, and just tried to capture songs that felt like they were really close
to who we were and what we cared about. We put that record out on our own, and it ended up outselling all three IRS records combined. Then, we went on tour with Cowboy Junkies for a few years, and a lot of things happened around that record that no one really saw coming at that time. I think it’s the record where we really realized, at the end of the day, what we were interested in was songwriting and the tradition of American music, music that could have only happened in America. As far as The Trumpet Child goes, we worked closely with a new producer on this record [Brad Jones], who’s a great arranger. We talked about wanting to open the American songbook wide and incorporate the pre-rock ’n’ roll era, the era of Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hart, with strings and clarinet and horns. We do keep trying new things. We do try to push ourselves. We try to surprise ourselves.
questions, you know like kids do. Big ones that you can’t answer. And so one Sunday morning, my grandfather came downstairs in a suit, and my grandmother’s words to him were, “Where the hell do you think you’re going?” And he said, “I’m taking Karin to church. She asked me about God, and I don’t know what to tell her.” So that was sort of a beginning of [faith] for me. My grandfather died about two years later of lung cancer. And he died a believer. I didn’t have any sway in that. I really didn’t know how big that big picture was at that time, but I remember the impact of it, so that had a strong influence on me. [After that] our family went back to church and through various denominations we trod…I can’t even count them. We started Methodist and did some time in the Pentecostal church and there the story goes.
RM: Why is there a recurring theme of redemption in a lot of your lyrics? KB: If I’m watching a film or reading a book, I have a real easy time walking away from it if there isn’t something redemptive about the character or storyline. I don’t like perfect little endings. I love Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch. I love My Life as a Dog, and Pan’s Labyrinth. As violent as that movie was, obviously there was redemption. I think, for me, it came out of being raised with a real heavy negativity. As a child, I think I was always looking for something redemptive. I was the clown, I was the one who always had to make everyone laugh to change the subject, so I think it’s a natural thing for me to find, because I need it personally. I needed it growing up so badly and I still need it, I guess.
RM: In the same way that Michael Stipe sort of came out of his cocoon, vocally, when R.E.M. released “Everybody Hurts,” your singing has opened up a lot, as well, especially on The Trumpet Child. KB: For me it was self-confidence and willingness to be vulnerable. When we started the band, I had gotten my little degree in vocal performance and my little degree in piano, and I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, and then I joined this rock band. I knew all the music I’d grown up with and the music I’d heard on the radio, and so many different sources, and so many genres from gospel to country. I was basically musically schizophrenic, I think. But I didn’t know who I was. I was twentysomething, and I had to kind of grow into myself. And as that happened— which it literally took twenty years—I grew into my voice. As I earned selfconfidence and discovered it and worked for it, then something happens to you not only physically but metaphysically, and you grow into the whole being that you’re supposed to be. I’m a long way from that, I’m not there, but I know that that’s a part of why the color of my voice is what it is today. It has a lot to do with that openness with owning my gift as a woman. It was a long time coming, but I love where I am writing now as a woman and a writer and as a singer and a performer. I’m finally standing in it. I chose to keep going. If you choose to keep going, you’ll get there. I really believe that. I believe every person can find that point in their life, where they’re going to stand really solidly with being who they are.
RM: Karin, you have said that, even as a small child, music and faith were part of your life. KB: For me, I was one of those people who, when I was a very little girl and I was asked the inevitable question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” I always knew I was going to be a singer. And that was something that I couldn’t define. I just knew that’s what I was going to do. It’s kind of weird if you think about it. I never really deviated from that much at all. That’s always been my track. I had a step-grandfather who was my best buddy. He used to take me everywhere—golfing, bowling, everywhere he went with his buddies. He was an agnostic, probably even closer to an atheist than he was willing to admit. I was four or five years old, and I started asking him questions, big
Over The Rhine’s new album, The Trumpet Child, is available online and in record stores.
RM: How did you arrive at “New Redemption Song” (from the 2006 Christmas album, Snow Angels)? KB: Linford had written this little chorus, and I think we had most of the Snow Angels record written, and we were in the process of deciding which songs would go on it. He played that for me, and I remember that he had played it for me before, but I guess I’d forgotten it, because we’re always playing stuff for each other around the house. But that time, in the context of a Christmas record, it really resonated with me. I thought, “That’s where that song needs to go. How dare you try to rewrite Bob Marley!” [Laughing] But that’s not what [Linford] was thinking at all. I loved the sentiment of it and the heaviness of it and it’s one of the shortest songs we’ve recorded.
If I’m watching a film or reading a book, I have a real easy time walking away from it if there isn’t something redemptive about the character or storyline. I don’t like perfect little endings.
NOV/DEC 2007 - Feature 43
Writer: Chris Ahrens
:Photos Mathew Scott
ou would never arrive at Tom Ritchey’s house, deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains, unless you were going there to see him or you were lost. Built years ago by Ritchey himself from rough hewn logs, his place is a long ways from the hyper-packaged cookie-dough construction that has infected much of Southern California’s landscape. Ritchey has created a shelter equal to the storms that pound it each winter—a sturdy, no-nonsense structure reflecting homegrown values and attention to detail. Rolling down Tom’s football-field-length driveway, I find him in his shop, performing the alchemy of transforming metal tubing into some of the world’s fastest non-motorized machines, a.k.a. Ritchey Bicycles. Looking up from his workbench, he smiles and walks, hand extended in advance, to my car, before introducing himself and greeting me with a warm handshake. Returning to his shop, we speak about him, his bikes, and Project Rwanda, a movement that he recently birthed in a passion for bringing bicycles to Africa, to help reestablish a solid economic base and national pride. A quick tour of Ritchey’s home makes it is obvious that this place was crafted to enhance, not contain, life. His hands still bear the scars from a hammer swung decades ago. This is all backdrop to his story, but the reason for the story and what matters most is Tom Ritchey’s vision that millions can be saved by a device that the average American kid believes is grown on a Christmas tree. Tom is deliberate and confident in his speech, passionate to the point of tears about the things he loves. His kind heart is balanced by a mind that has conceived a blueprint that might just rescue an entire nation. Or, maybe, as he explains, it wasn’t really his idea at all.
Interviewed exclusively for RISEN MAGAZINE.
NOV/DEC 2007 - Feature 45
Risen Magazine: Did you tinker as a kid? Tom Ritchey: My dad had a nice shop and if I wanted to build a gocart or a sailboat, we would do it. I built a three-story tree fort when I was five, and it got to the point where my father said, “You’ve gotta take this thing down; you’re gonna kill yourself.” I built an electric car when I was 11 that he helped me figure out. In 1971, when I was 14, I told my dad, “Hey, I think I can build a [bicycle] frame.” We were able to reverse engineer things and I built my first bike. At that time there were only a few people building bikes in the U.S., and just getting tubing was a huge deal. I started winning races and when people noticed that I had built my own bike, the beginnings of a business were not far off. I built my friend’s bikes, made some money, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. RM: You’re a Christian and an environmentalist. For some reason those two things don’t often go together. TR: I was part of that isolation for a good part of my life. I didn’t really
get it. Then, when I started having some things crumble around me, there were a bunch of great people around me at the same time—the catching mechanism, the grace mechanism, the forgiveness, all that stuff seemed like it was set up for me in the last five years or so. To me it has been a great midlife crisis. When I went to Rwanda, I had a lot on my mind, like the need for forgiveness, personally. There I saw signs of hope from people who have committed themselves to looking forward, rather than back. But some people live only for earth, others live only for heaven. RM: If the earth was a house, it would be in pretty bad repair. Where did you start fixing things? TR: I’m not sure that I started anywhere. You talk about the earth being an unkempt house, I think that’s also a metaphor for the accumulated dust and cobwebs we all have around our souls. Over time we realize we’ve made a lot of messes. Jesus once said, “If you don’t forgive others, the Heavenly Father won’t forgive you.” The test of living in any sort of true relationship in terms of your faith comes down to forgiveness. It’s humiliating to think about how much we carry with us, how much we struggle with on a daily basis. When I went to Rwanda, I brought over my cynicisms, my hardheartedness, and my prejudices. Within a couple days I felt this weight and this self-reflection deconstructing in me. I realized I was around people that were living with incomprehensible amounts of pain in a gracious way. I thought, If I have to go halfway around the world to experience this, I’m not going to go back and forget it. To me the natural commitment to an environment like Rwanda has to start with the humanity of us all. Politics divide, religions divide. There’re so many divisive things in our culture that breed all of our cynicism. One thing that steers Project Rwanda is the idea that all people need second chances. God gives us second chances—more than that, He 46 :RISEN MAGAZINE
gives us as many as we take. He’s all forgiving and longsuffering for us. Either we believe that and that’s the way we relate to one another, or we play games with God’s forgiveness. RM: Are you concerned that Africa could become a huge welfare state? TR: I’m new to this, but when I went to Rwanda, I found that some institutions tended to become isolated from the culture and gain their own little identities. They drive Range Rovers; they live in special housing complexes. It’s obvious that a lot of resources don’t go to the people they are supposed to go to. RM: How did you connect with the Rwandan culture? TR: I come from the land of everyone’s dreams, the United States, with opportunities that have been handed to me on a silver platter. Who am I to come over there and connect with them? But what I found immediately was that when you’re on a bicycle and they’re on a bicycle, and you’re on a dirt road and they’re on a dirt road, it’s a completely different experience. People lit up–it transcended any kinds of language barriers. You become real to them and they become real to you. The bicycle is a freedom tool for us, but to them it’s like owning a rocket ship. Only one in 40 owns a bike in Rwanda, and when they don’t own a bike, they build wooden ones. For eight or 10 dollars, they develop a scooter that they build with a machete. It can push a couple hundred pounds of produce or wood or materials. I thought, This is incredible, the inventive human spirit is alive and well here. They’re just like us; they have the same desires to be successful, to raise their families, to have a roof over their heads, to have a respectable career or job. The bike is a huge blessing to them in accelerating that process. RM: So you think the bicycle can stimulate the economy? TR: As I started peeling back their issues, I realized there was a lot of food in Rwanda, but most of it rots, because it can’t be transported. Most people are subsistence farmers; they don’t buy or sell. Stimulating their economy is a matter of getting more transportation. One person grows tomatoes, another grows corn, and they trade. That trade becomes a little more sophisticated, and with the use of the bicycle, it goes to market. Then there’s the trading of money. There are 500,000 small crop farmers and they’re living large compared to the rest of the population, which is hard to imagine when you see how they live. How did you build the first bikes to transport coffee in Rwanda? TR: I usually work on the cutting edge of racing technology; this was the other end, what people call the mass end, low-end bikes you see at department stores. A little over a year ago, I reached out and got hooked up with a willing partner in Pacific Cycles, who are probably the largest of all the design suppliers for the mass industry. They went to work with me. I made prototypes and we’ve sent 2,000 bikes to Rwanda so far. The program is intended to leverage the monies that come into Project Rwanda, so we can put more money into more and more bikes.
RM: How has Project Rwanda changed you? TR: The feeling you get when you realize that you’re transitioning from a self-focused life to a servant’s life… It’s not a small door you’re walking through, it’s a huge door. The third world needs millions and billions of bikes. You see that you’re at a certain place with your gifts, your talents, and your rescources where you can step through that door, and you don’t know why it’s all come together the way it has. The feeling you have is almost one of destiny. RM: So you feel like you were created, at least in part, for this purpose? TR: It’s feeling more and more like that, yeah, but that sounds presumptuous. I don’t mean it that way, but I felt that enough things have happened in this last 19 months that people’s lives are being touched…It’s not about me anymore. RM: Would you like to see more people riding bikes in the U.S.? TR: The bike I designed for Rwanda is kind of a bicycle pickup truck. People here look at it and think, Hey, I could carry my groceries on it; I could carry my kids on it. There’s a lot of weight that can be put on this bike. People that like the project for Africa want to get one in the U.S. or Europe. I’d like to stimulate the use of the wooden bike in the U.S. too, to help it be seen as a cool thing. RM: It seems that a lot of good causes die for lack of a sense of humor. TR: We want Project Rwanda to be fun, not a bunch of sad-looking images. We want people to be drawn to it because cycling is a fun and noble sport. We want to do fun events, maybe race down Lombard Street in San Francisco on wooden bikes. It’s important to us that Project Rwanda have many dimensions. I want people to know we’re not a giveaway organization. We’re partnering with Rwandans and, hopefully, creating economic opportunities for them. And, in the same way that the Kenyans became runners of renown, we feel that the Rwandans can become cyclists of renown. They have the right physique, and a hilly, beautiful environment. RM: Is Rwanda dangerous? TR: I’ve had all my children there and we all agree that it’s as safe as anywhere. People’s perception of Rwanda is changing. Last year I could barely get 10 people to come over with me. This year I might have a hundred people come along. RM: Someone told me they tried to explain atheism to a Rwandan and they thought it was the stupidest idea they had ever heard. Did you find a tendency toward faith in that country? TR: [Laughs] Faith is a big part of the Rwandan culture. Also, they’re reflective, sincere people. There’s obviously something going on in Rwanda that’s different. There’s a spirit of forgiveness there. They went to the edge of a cliff, the world was turning its attention elsewhere and they decided it was up to them to change. When you’ve experienced that much pain and raw hatred… RM: What was their reaction to new bicycles? TR: The day that they got their bikes was amazing. There was racing
in Rwanda, but the bikes were things you would pay five dollars for at a garage sale. The tires were low on pressure because they were full of holes. They’d never ridden good bikes before. It was phenomenal for them. You’re on your $4,000 bike and they’re on their scraped together $50 bike, not even aware that the mountain bike was invented. RM: I heard you invented the mountain bike. TR: [Laughs] I used to claim that in my early, high-minded career, but no. Some of us were there at the right time. RM: What’s it like touring a completely foreign country on a bicycle? TR: Being a stranger on a bike is a fun. You smile, they smile. You
have an influence on them; they have an influence on you. It’s similar to being on the beach with a dog and one other person comes up to you with a dog. People who might not otherwise connect are brought together because of the bike. RM: Ironically, people drive to the gym to pay to get on an electronic stationary bicycle. It seems they could at least use all that energy to light the gym. TR: Yeah, That’s a great one… [Laughs] There’s a guy in South Africa who combined a merry-go-round with pumping water. The kids have a great time and the village is getting water. When the sun goes down in Rwanda, the lights go out. There’s a reason a lot of babies are born in Rwanda. [Laughs] There’s not a lot to do there after dark. I have a dream of training the cyclists to harness the power for the coffee stations. Keep feeding people and they’ll keep making electricity. [Laughs] RM: Obviously the bicycle can do more than just fuel the economy. TR: Rwanda has the ability to breed national pride with the bike. It would be great if Africa didn’t go the way of Asia, where everything is so motor-driven that the bicycle now is almost forgotten. RM: Einstein said he thought good ideas came from beyond himself; where do you think they come from? TR: The ease in which an idea comes makes me think it comes from elsewhere, yeah. My bike is my office and 90 percent of my ideas come, out of the blue, when I’m on my bike. It’s a spontaneous combustion. [Laughs] I’ve held off patenting some things because for the longest time I’ve felt those ideas were not mine. I always thought that God authored the ideas that I’ve had and that He could supply more. Learn more about Tom Ritchey and Project Rwanda by visiting www.projectrwanda.org. NOV/DEC 2007 - Feature 49
Writer: Troy Meier Photos: Russ Harrington
ith his overwrought pompadour rocking and his signature Gretsch hollow-body guitar twanging away, Brian Setzer arrived on the U.S. pop music scene with a vengeance in the early 1980s. Up to that point, American audiences were OK with reruns of Laverne & Shirley and Happy Days—all benign depictions of a clichéd 1950s heartland America. But when Setzer and his band began getting primetime MTV rotation, an illusion was shattered and a trio of tattooed rockers—who made The Fonz look like a momma’s boy—was introduced into the homes of millions of U.S. teens in the form of the Stray Cats. In 1980 the Cats strutted their way from their native Long Island, New York, where they received only ho-hum attention, over to England, where Setzer and the boys created a flurry of excitement among an already-thriving Teddy-boy and punk rock scene. Welsh hit-producer Dave Edmunds took them under his wing, and within months they were rubbing elbows with stars and climbing the record charts. The clincher was an opening spot on a Rolling Stones U.S. tour.
Soon, the Stray Cats became a household word in music circles, and Brian Setzer was enthralling the guitar world with scorching new takes on riffs he seemingly pulled out of the graveyard. He became admired and respected as a real technical dynamo. In the middle 1990s the Brian Setzer Orchestra tapped into a fledgling revival of the swing genre that shot him on yet another meteoric rise—this time with the approval of the mainstream music industry—culminating in multiple Grammy Awards and other industry accolades for his CD Dirty Boogie. Since then he’s continued to tour and pump out critically acclaimed CDs with his seventeen-piece rocking band. He records for motion picture soundtracks and has become a holiday favorite, with his Christmas CDs—threatening to replace Harry Connick Jr. as the torchbearer for that revered honor. But through the years, Brian Setzer has been known to show a softer, more contemplative, spiritual component to his art as well. We wanted to find out where the raucous meets the redeemed.
Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine NOV/DEC 2007 - Feature 51
RISEN Magazine: You’ve tackled at least two genres—rockabilly and swing—once thought to be dead-ends musically, and you seem to have reinvented both of them. What does that say about you as a musician? Brian Setzer: That I like to recycle? [Laughs] It’s funny because I know people say that about me. The rockabilly thing…paralleled punk to me, and it shook up that whole kind of established, performed music at the time. So I was almost maybe a little over-qualified for it since I did read and write music. In the original days, I think those rockabilly guys came out of the hills and plugged in and played. RM: I understand the rockabilly thing, but how’d that translate into a full-blown orchestra? BS: That sound, watching the old Johnny Carson Tonight Show, always intrigued me. I thought, “Imagine if I could play my song, ‘Rock This Town’ with a big band behind it.” So I had thought of that a long
time ago and eventually had the nerve to try it. It’s been fourteen years now. So that’s kind of how all that started. Also, I liked the themes. I kind of like jumpin around. RM: Who is your biggest influence? BS: The one who had the whole package, the guy had the whole thing was Eddie Cochran. I didn’t know how well he played guitar, I didn’t know about his songs, but I remember seeing that record cover. He had that hair slicked back, and I said, “I want to look like that guy.” That guy looks so cool. For some reason, I related to that, and not to the kind of hippy styles that were popular. I mean, that’s what it was in the late 60s and early 70s. You know, everybody had long hair and earth shoes, and I was going to school with slicked back hair and motorcycle boots. I was just instantly attracted to that look. RM: Did you get hassled in high school when your taste in musical style started to change and go against the grain? BS: Not so much in high school, but after high school, yeah. There were people calling me names out of their car because I had a funny hair cut. I still get that when I go home. I turn around and think, “Wait a minute. I’m forty-eight years old. I have a grown son. You can’t call me that!” RM: Was that part of the impetus in the early days to go to Great Britain? Or was that purely musical? BS: The real impetus for me to go was the picture on the cover of the NME [British magazine New Music Express]. We used to buy it at the local record store, and there was a picture of a guy on the front with a coif, a pompadour, and an earring. Do you know what it was like to have an earring in 1979? Guys didn’t wear them or have tattoos. We saw a picture of this guy and said, “Someone like us exists somewhere else, and it’s in England. That’s where we have to go.” So that was really the motive for going.
down and started playing The Blue Danube. I said, “Well, that’s kind of neat.” So I went to downtown Minneapolis where I recorded my three guitars, and I played it back for my wife, and she said, “It’s really cool. You have to play this for Dave, your manager.” So I played it. That was the first mistake. He said, “Oh, you gotta write the chart. You gotta sit down and write, finish the song.” So I thought to myself, I’ve got to just pull the parts of The Blue Danube that I like. So I sat down with my guy, Mark Jones, and we wrote a chart, and that sort of got the ball rolling. I thought, “Wait a minute, this is pretty darn cool. I gotta do another one,” and that’s where Frank Comstock came in. That’s where the ball started rolling. RM: Who is Frank Comstock? BS: I don’t know what to say about Frank Comstock. I mean, he’s eighty-four years old, and when he goes, you will not hear that kind of chart writing anymore. I mean, he’s like the last guy. He writes those old school incredible big band charts that nobody can really write. I can’t come close to it. So I approached him. He wrote the “Nutcracker Suite” for Les Brown in 1957 that we covered [on one of our Christmas CDs]. I said to my manager, I can’t write twelve charts. It will take me a year. It’s just too much work. I said, Can you contact Frank Comstock and see if, A, he’s still alive, and, B, if he even knows who I am or if he’d be interested? So fast forward a bit and I get the guy on the phone and he says, “Oh, I haven’t written one of these things in years.” The Adam-12 theme was the last thing he wrote. RM: Unbelievable. BS: He wrote the theme to the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon also. He said, “I haven’t written anything in forty years. I don’t know if I can do it.” I said, “Well, here’s Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. If you want to have a little fun, pull it apart.” So he calls me back in about three days and says, “It’s done. I’m going to send you the score.” So then I scored another one, and Frank said, “Give me another song.” I said, “Well, let me see…How about Mozart?” Four or five days was all it took. In a couple of weeks another one comes. I said, now we’ve got to call a rehearsal and see if this is any good because I don’t want to keep writing if this isn’t going to work. But when I heard Frank’s charts back, I said, “Oh my God!” I think it’s fantastic, I don’t know what people are going to think, to be honest with you, but then I let the horse out of the barn, and he was asking me to give him another one. Then he had ideas of songs he wanted to write. So by the time we finished, he had written six or seven, and I had written six or seven. RM: That’s got to be a career highlight for you as a musician. BS: I gotta tell you, planning these charts was probably the most complex thing I’ve ever done. I mean, it really swings. It’s amazing because everybody knows these songs. They’re hits already. If I could make these things new, and make them swing and put a little of my Gretsch in there, it’s gonna be fun.
RM: Your latest CD is called Wolfgang’s Big Night Out. My kids have already danced to it in the backyard. BS: Well, that’s cool. That’s a good test.
RM: Do you think it is important that this music get rediscovered in some sort of way? BS: It is. I like to say that I do things strictly for fun and because it bends my ear musically, but this is pretty cool. If your thirteen-year-old daughter starts singing “Hall of the Mountain King,” and they will discover that this song is two hundred years old, and that this is good music, that’s pretty important isn’t it?
RM: Musically, it seems like a whole heck of a lot to tackle. What was your motivation to do a whole CD of classical compositions? BS: I basically got pestered into it. Well, here’s what happened. I sat
RM: There are some in the roots music scene who didn’t like what you did with the music—that you strayed too far afield. Any reaction to that?
52 :RISEN MAGAZINE
BS: I’ve learned a lot of people don’t want you to do that. A lot of people want you to stay in that little box, especially in these circles. In these rockabilly circles, you get these people—I guess you’d call them purists. You’ve gotta use 12 gauge strings through a crummy old guitar and cuff those jeans one-and-three-quarter inches. There’s a lot of people who don’t want you to take those chances. I’ve discovered that. That’s never been me since the beginning. I’ve always just taken the rockabilly thing and used it as a springboard and have just jumped in different directions with it. I think that the rockabilly scene is really stale. That’s gone nowhere, you know, that’s just stayed in its little area because people don’t want it to be…they don’t want it to expand. They don’t want to make something new out of it. They put it in a little glass case. You’ve got to break the glass case, take it out, and have fun with it. RM: You’ve earned a reputation as a musical and cultural maverick of sorts. When you write, record, and release a beautiful song like “St. Jude,” this seems to fly in the face a little bit of your reputation. Can you elaborate on your patron saint? BS: Well, thanks. This is kind of my private belief. I can tell you St. Jude, I’ve leaned on him a lot, and he’s helped me out a lot, and I believe in him, and I wrote a song, kind of after 9/11 for St. Jude to help us, and I dedicated the song. It’s a plea, and it’s also a dedication. As a matter of fact, I have a little pin of him in my wallet. RM: In the song, you say, “It’s something that's scorned from the left / And abused by the right / It's something so misunderstood / And ignored in daily life / If you proclaim the mystery of faith / You'll be absolved from daily strife / Through Him, in Him, and within Him / Springs our eternal life.” BS: Yeah. That’s a heartfelt song. RM: Does your spiritual side play a role in your day-to-day decision-making? BS: You know, I think it does because it’s kind of a guideline for life. It’s kind of a rulebook, you know, a rulebook of good and bad. And I think that when you’re raised with that in your life, it kind of answers a lot of questions that you might have. These are guidelines for good and bad in your life, and that’s just my personal belief, and I find with people who do have spirituality, you don’t see them acting as rude and you see them helping out other people more. I might be wrong, but that’s my personal experience. RM: Was there some point in your life when things changed for you spiritually? BS: Well, I grew up going to church. Your dad made you go in those days, you didn’t want to, right, but I think what really kicked it—I can’t really talk about it because it’s too personal—but there were events prior to my dad’s passing that were unexplainable that really shook me up, and there’s no way that you could not believe that there was somebody else out there because it was just too unexplainable, the events that happened prior to my dad’s passing. That was in ’93. RM: How did that experience affect you? BS: There’s no way these events right before he died, would have happened. It’s just like if you won the lottery three times in a row, I mean, it was that kind of crazy, and what that proved to me was that there’s something to this, there’s something going on. RM: What would you do if you weren’t playing music?
BS: I’d be a teacher. I’ve got to be honest with you, I have very little patience, except for teaching. I love teaching kids guitar. That’s what I plan on doing sometime in my life. I love to see kids when they can’t quite put the idea together, and I connect the dots for them, and that lightbulb goes off. I love it. I have patience all day long for that. RM: Has disaster ever struck the Setzer home? BS: Disaster? Well, we’ve had our share of ups and downs, but we’ve always pulled out of it. I guess the biggest disaster, you know, is you could say, your parents passing away. My mom’s still around. My dad, he was kind of the rock of the family. When he passed, we said, “What are we gonna do now?” RM: You’ve said before that you believe in prayer. How does that—or does that—play a role in your life?
BS: Well, like I said, I have my patron saints, and it’s just, it’s a good meditation. Sometimes I’ll go to church, and I’ll just read the Bible, and I won’t even say it along with the Mass, but sometimes, I’ll just sit at home and you know, I believe it does something, I really do. I believe there’s a power there. You know, it doesn’t matter if you do it in a synagogue or by your bedside, but there’s a power there. RM: What is your biggest blessing? BS: My biggest blessing, really, is three healthy children. I have three beautiful, healthy kids. Well, my son’s a man now. And my beautiful wife, what a blessing she is. And I was given a gift to play this guitar and make people happy. RM: If there is a curse, what do you think you’ve been cursed with? BS: The inability to sit still and shut up. Even back in grade school in class, the teacher would yell, “Setzer, sit down and be quiet.” I’m just one of those kind of guys. I envy people that can just go to the beach and relax and enjoy the day. I could never do it. RM: What’s your picture of heaven? BS: Wow! RM: I know it’s heavy. BS: Of course, none of us know…But I think you’re going to see an ultimate peace. I do believe it’s an ultimate peace, and I do believe we will see our loved ones. It sounds simplistic, but I believe there’s an ultimate peace. I believe it’s a place better than this. RM: You’ll be able to sit down and shut up. BS: Yeah, without having a teacher telling me to do it!
The Brian Setzer Orchestra began its 6th Annual Christmas Extravaganza Tour November 17h in Verona, New York. For more information on tour dates and Setzer’s new release, Wolfgang’s Big Night Out, see www.briansetzer.com. NOV/DEC 2007 - Feature 55
Rising Stars of Sound Ah the early days of a music career. The days they’ ll always remember. Packed coffee houses, smoky clubs, and selfpromotion. Loading and unloading one’ s own gear. The days of designing a first t-shirt for your first band. The days of giving those t-shirts to all your friends for free because they’ d never have paid for ’ em. The days of a makeshift tour bus packed with all six members of the band. The days before fame rears its unpredictable head and changes lives forever. These five artists are on the move-striking a chord in the volatile world of music— a sound on the rise. What’ s their message? Who influenced these folks? What part of them will remain the same after the music industry hands them life on a silver platter? Take a look at some of the brightest young rock’ n’ roll talent this side of the pond-one’s to watch, and listen to-as it were. A time capsule, if you will, of five musician’ s lives before fame sets in-giving us the chance to watch it all unfold... Listen to and download a FREE MP3 from each of these artists on Risen Radio at risenmagazine.com. Photos: Greg Watermann Written: Trish Teves Hair & Makeup: Roxxi Dot Styling: Sophie Schneider for Fred Segal Beauty Lili Pettit for Celestineagency.com
56 :RISEN MAGAZINE
lead singer of the band
Dream: To be a Blue Star Cadet in the Zissou Society (from the film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou). Heroes: Among the many: My Pops, Ferris Bueller and Indiana Jones. I don't really think an explanation is in order. It's a fairly solid top 3. Fear: To be forgotten. And also, lately I really don't like flies - which don't so much scare me as they do annoy. Does that count? Joy: Is fleeting. for my family and I.... Place: Pescespada Island. Or, Elf Cafe on Sunset Blvd (do you like lentils too?). Or, the stretch of land that spans the length of Jaco and Playa Hermosa in Costa Rica. It's become a haven, Ideal Life: Is currently being led. In an alternate life however, I'd look into culinary school and becoming or assuming the vast responsibilities of Spider Man. Future: Our debut album Arms Around A Stranger is out now. More touring..... some new song demo-ing and eventually Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; ll sit down, start and complete the novel I've been meaning to write.
Isaac Lekach My My My My My My My
NOV/DEC 2007 - Department 57
58 :RISEN MAGAZINE
My My My My My My My
lead singer of the band
Dream: to be content and confident with who I am as a person and an Artist. Heroes: grendel Fear: god, the devil Joy: traveling, privacy Place: deep in the heart of texas Ideal Life: see first question. Future: Next up for Fair to Midland is a national tour supporting Chevelle in the fall.
Darroh Sudderth Fair to Midland.
Joy: Being creative, especially when it comes to making music that touches people. Place: I'm just one tiny piece of the puzzle that we call the Universe. Ideal Life: One day I would love to have some acreage of wooded property living off the land and releasing an album every year. Future: Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; m currently in the studio working on a new album.
Dream: For people to see the magic on this planet and in life, and to stop taking it for granted. Hero: Harry Potter. Fear: I try not to have any.
Holly Brook My My My My My My My
NOV/DEC 2007 - Department 59
60 :RISEN MAGAZINE
My My My My My My Ideal Life: To just keep doing what I am doing now, I am so very blessed. 18th. A movie that I filmed with Samuel L Jackson, Eva Mendes, and Ed Harris, directed by Renny My Future: Well, I signed a record deal with Atlantic Records and my debut CD entitled, So Uncool, hit stores Sept about that! Harlan, The Cleaner, was screened at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, and it received positive reviews, so I am happy
I am singing or acting… Dream: It would mean a lot to me if people liked and respected the fact that I give 100 percent when I perform whether she never complains... Heroes: My Mom and Dad, they have done so much for me, my older sister, Loreal…I know she gave up a lot even though Fear: To give up on my dreams, to stop believing in myself… people assume that I am that way in real life. Joy: I like hanging out with my friends, just doing normal kid stuff. I am very silly, and because I have done serious roles Place: Indiana Beach- It is a summer resort with an amusement park in Indiana where my family and I would take vacations.
-Boys Like Girls
everyone who could possibly like our songs gets music to as many people as possible. I want to know that I did my best to make sure that My Dream: Is slowly coming true. My lifelong dream has always been to spread my a chance to hear them. constantly inspires me to be a better person in musical influences. My dad is the strongest, smartest, and most patient person I know. He My Heroes: My Dad. My heroes are more life and personal inspirations rather than everyday life. I don't know what I'd do without him. Fear: I don't have any. I face life day by day and don't let anything get in my way. best friends and meet a lot of amazing people. Its truly amazing. Joy: Being able to do what I love as a full time job. I get to travel the world with my to feel totally in control of your existence with no distractions or even television. Place: Very rural places. My family has a house in very northern Maine. Its amazing Ideal life: The one I'm living baby!! r thru November. Future: BLG will be heading out on their own headlining theatre tour from Septembe
My My My My My
NOV/DEC 2007 - Department 61
Writer: Trish Teves
“I've been drawing in circles the past few weeks, going between different concepts and wondering if I should just forget the idea altogether.” The mind of an artist is a complicated piece of machinery. Every part works at an astounding pace, never stopping to rest, for fear of missing inspiration in an understated part of the day. What others overlook, artists look at closer; a partially blossomed flower, a subway sign with missing letters, their own reflection following them in store windows. A streaming catalog of images that could be captured on a painted canvas…the machine is always looking, always observing, counting imaginary brush strokes.
“Then, as it often happens around two in the morning, I remembered what I had heard that day. I didn’t know this individual personally, but received news of a man who decided to take his own life.” Brooke Olivares has always known what she wanted. “From the third grade on I was always an extremely focused kid. I knew that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up and was always drawing or painting.” She and her sister shared an artistic talent, and they spent hours drawing together and working on murals. “One of the most meaningful moments in my career was when me and my sister, Lindsey, went back to our elementary school and painted two huge murals on either side of the stage where we used to perform.” Giving back to the younger generation is something Olivares is passionate about; she prizes teaching and motivating. “When we finished the murals, our school held an assembly and we were able to talk to the kids. I looked at all those little faces and I felt so humbled that I was given the opportunity to give them proof that you can aspire to fulfill the dreams that often get pushed away, to encourage them and to be able to give back.” These days, Olivares doesn’t have a hard time finding inspiration but rather finding time to paint and draw. A graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design, as well as a student of the Illustration Academy, her studies have proved most advantageous for her clients. Between magazine covers, editorial illustration, and original pieces of art for private buyers, Olivares barely has time for the part-time job she can’t give up— teaching art to young kids in her hometown of San Diego. 62 :RISEN MAGAZINE
“I just kept thinking over and over again, if only he knew that he was not alone, that his life mattered and that he was loved. After this it became no question what I was to paint. I titled the piece ‘ Dear Father.’”— taken from brookeolivares.blogspot.com Admiring artists like Dean Cornwell, Josh George, Edgar Degas, and Mark English, Olivares is no freshman to the arts. But her inspiration comes mostly from the streets. “The most interesting subjects to me are the urban neighborhoods and the streets. I am drawn to people whose environments have a real raw quality, a past or a history.” Which brings us to the painting at hand. A man Olivares couldn’t stop thinking about. Hunched shoulders, tired hands, and a blank gaze, sitting in the subway, waiting for his train. Why couldn’t she stop thinking about him? What message was he trying to send her? She started to draw… To see more of Brooke's work, go to www.brookeolivares.com.
where she plays NOV/DEC 2007 - Department 63
all of us in this house
a little bird told me so 66 :RISEN MAGAZINE
dept:Up to Speed Black Eyed Peas Risen Magazine: Where do you see yourself in 10,000 years? Will.i.am: That all depends upon your definition of self. RM: Whatever is inside of that body. Will.i.am: My spirit will continue to be and experience and grow. Flesh-wise, I’ll be somewhere burnt or frozen or in the ground, but that’s not me. Taboo: I’m gonna be cloned like 10,000 times. [Laughter] Fergie: We were talking about this the other day. I believe in a soul and my soul’s in this body. After that I don’t think that this human mind can even fathom where the soul goes. Is it something you see, something you touch? I don’t know; I can’t really picture exactly what that is. When this life is done that will go on. Hopefully it will be a good place and hopefully I’ll lead a good life. I’m not perfect, but I try to live a good life and to do better all the time. Hopefully that will reflect on my soul. Will.i.am: You know how when you have an ice cube and it melts and turns into water vapor and the water vapor produces a cloud and then it becomes water again? That’s the way the soul is. The soul takes many shapes, many forms. One day it’s going to be an ice cube, one day it’s going to be water vapor, one day it’s going to be something you drink, one day it’s going to make a thunderstorm, one day it’s going to fertilize a tree and that tree’s going to feed people, one day it’s going to flood the ocean and I’ll be surfing on it. Up to Speed: They are known as a group that provides rhythmic sounds pleasing to the ear. As they branch off on solo careers, more amazing tunes rise to the top of the charts. Will.i.am, the male lead vocalist, recently released his anticipated Songs About Girls. Similarly, female lead vocalist Fergie recently released her solo album as well. Her songs “Glamorous” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” have become radio hits and have contributed to her recent recognition as the 2007 VMA Female Artist of the Year. Although the group is not producing more as a unit, it seems that as they go their separate ways, their talent continues to flourish.
Daize Shayne Risen Magazine: Are you a thrill seeker? Daize Shayne: I get off on the thrill of learning and figuring things out. I jumped out of a plane once and it was the worst experience of my life. I cried the entire time. RM: What do you love? DS: I love learning. I love a good message at church. I love good friends that challenge me and help me to grow. I love sunrises. I don’t watch them that much, because I always sleep in. I love my sheets on my bed. I love baths. I love pampering myself. I love teaching kids. RM: What makes you angry? DS: Seeing parents treat kids badly. If anyone tries to say anything against my family, that makes me really angry. People not giving anyone else a chance. Why say anything if it’s not going to be nice. Life is too short. Up to Speed: She has been seen as the woman who can do it all—two-time long board champion, singer, actress, and part-time model. Daize appeared in The Still Life, a film about an artist struggling to find himself. Directed and written by Joel Miller, the film was released in August. Daize also got her foot in the door of another movie, Celebrity Art Show. Also written and directed by Miller, this documentary is about artists who lose their energy and love for their work, and what happens when they bring that back into their lives.
Adrien Brody Risen Magazine: How would you describe God? Adrien Brody: Well, look, that’s a whole other conversation. But I believe that there has to be…It’s very complicated and I don’t think anyone really has an answer to that. They may believe that they have an answer, but you can’t define God. There’s obviously some greater force and there’s some reason behind it, and there is something within us that is connected to that and is yearning for that connection. RM: What would you like to ask God? AB: Everybody’s yearning for that kind of connectedness to God, and I think a lot of people would have similar questions to ask God. I might ask, “Why is suffering a necessary part of life?” It seems to be on a molecular level; one thing is overtaking another and devouring another and mutating and creating something else. And perhaps that is how life is formed and that is the answer. But it doesn’t necessarily soothe someone who’s been the victim of some horrendous crime and you’d say, If there’s a God, how can this exist? That is the dilemma that most people have. Up to Speed: Starring in The Pianist made Adrien Brody famous. Ever since then, his notoriety has grown. The Village, King Kong, Hollywoodland. And now The Darjeeling Limited. Released in September, the film travels with three American brothers who try to bond after a year of not speaking with each other after their father’s funeral. Adrien continues to perform in films that accentuate his prized talent. Back issues of Risen magazine are available for purchase while supplies last at risenmagazine.com. NOV/DEC 2007 - Department 67
INTO GREAT SILENCE
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford This film begins with a late-night train robbery in 1881, after which Frank James (Sam Shepard) has the good sense to surrender the life of crime. But his younger brother Jesse (Brad Pitt) soldiers on, intimidating and manipulating his gang of greedy fools while he slips through the clutches of the authorities like a ghost. But we know where this is headed— the gang’s coming apart at the seams. At first glance, you might guess Assassination’s slowburn storytelling was the work of Terrence Malick. Roger Deakins’ exquisite cinematography gives us a view back through time as if filming through antique glass. But the imagery, while enthralling, is not as eloquent as Malick’s; it looks good but never offers much in the way of metaphor. No, it’s the performance that make this picture compelling in spite of its snail’s-pace narrative. Casey Affleck, playing Robert Ford, is the real surprise here. His performance anchors the picture, revealing Ford as an insecure heroworshipper, torn between admiration, jealousy, and a desperate need to be respected. And Sam Rockwell continues to impress, playing his role with a delicate balance of goofball humor and sweaty-palmed terror. Pitt is powerfully convincing as a man hollowed out by his own murderous legacy. Most of his performance is in his fitful tongue and jaw, as if Jesse can’t quite spit out the foul aftertaste of his legendary career of cruelty. When the title’s promise is fulfilled, it seems more a surrender than an execution. (In theaters.) Verdict: Worth all 160 minutes for the real star of the picture, cinematographer Roger Deakins. 68 :RISEN MAGAZINE
Need a little peace and quiet? German filmmaker Philip Gröning is inviting you on a journey no filmmaker has taken before…a venture into the extraordinary Grande Chartreuse monastery to spend time in meditation and prayer with the Carthusian monks, the strictest order of the Catholic Church. Now wait a minute. If we’re to believe the movies we’ve seen, monks are child-abusers! They lash their own backs in secret and murmur sinister chants. Right? No, of course not. While Hollywood loves to make rare exceptions to the rule and exaggerate them as if they were the norm, the truth is that most Christian monks are sincere, humble, God-fearing people who have devoted their lives to asking God to give his mercy to all of us. And Into Great Silence is a powerful work that opens up their private, prayerful world. You’ll want to bring a pot of coffee. Gröning’s movie will test your endurance. He asked for the monks permission to film them back in 1984. Almost twenty years later, they agreed. Gröning discovered more than ponderous men in robes. He found a place of such breathtaking natural beauty that it just might give your own faith a boost. (Now on DVD.) Verdict: It’ll test your patience, but if you’re paying attention, it just might kindle life-changing questions.
NO END IN SIGHT
In his documentary No End in Sight, Charles Ferguson gives us on-the-scene reporting from the front lines of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. And he talks with the people who have struggled to secure Baghdad and bring order from chaos. Their testimonies stand in stark contrast to what we’ve
dept:Screen been hearing from the White House about “progress.” It’s tempting to brush this aside as political propaganda. But Ferguson isn’t interested in interviewing the Bush administration’s enemies. Instead, he consults experts handpicked by Bush and Company to resolve the problems in Baghdad— people who supported the occupation and then discovered that things were not what they anticipated. Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those boring “talking heads” movies. Ferguson serves up riveting footage of the daily realities in war-torn Iraq. The most jarring moment of all comes when he reveals video footage of private contractors from America gunning down Iraqi drivers for fun while an Elvis song plays in the background. This isn’t a scatter-shot docu-fiction. This isn’t Michael Moore. This is a meticulously researched document that will challenge you to ask: Were we really ready to go to war? Did we know what we were doing? (In theaters.) Verdict: An important film that should inform future leaders for decades to come.
This Is England
GOD GREW TIRED OF US After you see what Daniel Abol Pach, Panther Bior, and John Bul Dau have been through, you might think that America would be the answer to their prayers. These three young men—the “stars” of the documentary God Grew Tired of Us—have seen horrors most of us cannot imagine, and they have survived ordeals that have made their story the stuff of modern myth. They, and the rest of the 25,000 “Lost Boys of Sudan,” fled Sudan’s civil war and trekked for five years across the African desert until they reached a U.N. refugee camp in Kenya. And they did it all between the ages of three and thirteen. But, as narrator Nicole Kidman points out, the story didn’t end there. For some of those survivors, another incredible journey lay ahead—a journey to America where difficulties of a whole new variety emerge: loneliness, alienation, and confusion. God Grew Tired of Us is an inspiring story. And ultimately, we have as much to learn from the Lost Boys as they could ever learn from their new American neighbors. (Now on DVD.) Verdict: It may be the most meaningful, memorable film to ever boast Nicole Kidman’s name in the credits.
If you encountered twelve-year-old Shaun on the street, you might just call the cops. You might shake your head and wonder how, at such a young age, an English boy could become a hardened criminal, defiant of authority, acting as if he owns everything in sight. Director Shane Meadows understands Shaun. And his new film, This Is England, helps us understand him too. It begins in 1983, in a small English town, where Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) and his mother are living with the burdensome loss of Shaun’s father, who died fighting in the Falklands. Without a father figure, Shaun is downcast and sullen. Lacking the funds to achieve any kind of “cool,” he’s humiliated at school. He needs someone to step in and show him how to be a man. One day, as he trudges down a path beneath a bridge (the traditional hiding place for dangerous trolls), Shaun encounters some skinheads who show him respect and kindness. Their rowdy camaraderie gives him the community and status he desires. And when a brutal racist named “Combo” shows up and shifts the balance of power in the neighborhood, he becomes a charismatic father-figure and leads Shaun into an aggressive nationalist movement, which gives him a sense of identity and purpose. This drive to “take back” England from the rising tide of immigrants poisons Shaun’s vulnerable mind with devastating ideas. This Is England is a tough movie to watch. These ruffians are violent and crass. But Meadows shows us enough to help us understand how kids can be drawn into violence and hatred. And that’s our first step toward compassion. (In limited release— coming soon to DVD.) Verdict: A harrowing, haunting portrait, and one of 2007’s best films. Jeffrey Overstreet’s critically acclaimed new book about his adventures in moviegoing, Through a Screen Darkly, is now available in bookstores and online. Beyond Risen, Jeffrey writes about film, music, and faith at lookingcloser.org and christianitytodaymovies.com. He works at Seattle Pacific University. NOV/DEC 2007 - Department 69
Artist: Jarvis Cocker Album: The Jarvis Cocker Record Label: Rough Trade It’s hard to believe it’s been almost three decades since Jarvis Cocker founded the stylish Britpop phenomenon Pulp. After toiling in the shadows for years, Pulp became major stars along with Blur, Suede, and Oasis in the mid-’90s, unofficially disbanding after 2001’s We Love Life album. After dabbling in other projects such as the electro-tinged group Relaxed Muscle, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire soundtrack, and penning songs for Marianne Faithful and Nancy Sinatra, Jarvis returns to the pop frontman role he was born to play. If you didn’t know better, you would likely think this was the new Pulp record upon first hearing it. Pulp bassist Steve Mackey even makes a return appearance here. It is most reminiscent of their This Is Hardcore album, though not nearly as bleak. The synthesizer-led pop is replaced with a traditional rock ensemble plus the occasional string ensemble or marimba melody, keeping intact the dark sense of humor and charm that Cocker has always seemed to embrace. “Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time” (originally written for Nancy Sinatra) is a grand-sounding opening track warning ladies of the intentions of fickle men. “Black Magic” borrows the guitar hook from the hit “Crimson and Clover” for an arena-sized anthem. He follows with “Heavy Weather” and is vague enough with the subject matter that the storm could be born from anyone’s troubles. “From Auschwitz to Ipswich” examines the frivolous worries of modern society in contrast to our ancestors’ struggles. Later Jarvis sings of protecting our young from being desensitized to sex and violence in entertainment for better or worse on “Disney Time.” He returns in good form with an album that will please old fans and hopefully win him an American audience whose attention he never completely had. —Sarah Polk
70 :RISEN MAGAZINE
Artist: White Williams Album: Smoke Label: Tigerbeat 6 Not that geography is relevant when judging a record, but it is somewhat interesting that Joe Williams hails from Cleveland, a town that hasn’t produced much in the way of a solid music scene. Sure, Devo, the Dead Boys, and Rocket From the Tombs played in that area, but especially of late, there’snot much action to speak of. Nonetheless, he presents us with an album that brings to mind trippy ’70s art pop albums like Brian Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy and Iggy Pop’s The Idiot. Like Eno, Williams uses the studio as an instrument, although in this case the studio consists of a laptop and a few old synthesizers. “In the Club” gets the party started with a booty shakin’ T Rex-style beat, while best track “New Violence” has the driving spirit of “Gates of Steel” or Eno’s “The True Wheel.” His cover of “I Want Candy” should have been left as a B-side or maybe as a hidden track. It’s the only piece that sounds a little undercooked on this outstanding debut. —Jason Reid
Artist: V/A Album: Song of America Label: 31 Tigers/Split Rock Records Compiling a three-disc collection of America’s history in music is an overly ambitious enterprise—especially when you are including songs dating back as far as 1492. This intriguing concept was masterminded by none other than former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno. Her nephew-in-law, folk artist Ed Pettersen, conspired with noted producers Bob Ohlsson and David Macias to release this epic, and they managed to round up artists as diverse as John Mellencamp, Blind Boys of Alabama, Black Crowes, Old Crow Medicine Show, Freedy Johnston, Take 6, and Devendra Banhart to contribute to this sprawling collection. Each song pinpoints key periods in American history, covering every social change from colonization, the Civil War, the Great Depression, two world wars, right up to September 11. Standout tracks include Harper Simon’s indie rock take on the classic “Yankee Doodle Dandee,” Danielson’s post-punk rendition of “Happy Days Are Here Again,” and Andrew Bird’s gentle interpretation of “How You Gonna Keep Em Down on the Farm.” —Sarah Polk
dept:Sound Artist: Anonymous Twist Album: The Crucible Label: Soul On Rice More solid hip hop from Canada in the form of Anonymous Twist. A veteran of the Toronto scene since the late ’80s, he began as a scratch DJ but by his mid-teens had taken an interest in producing his own beats (albeit with rather crude equipment) and even rhyming over the top. On this long player, all beats, cuts, rhymes, and adlibs are courtesy of Twist with the exception of a couple of flavorful guest appearances. With the surge of Canadian hip hop over the last decade, it’s surprising his name isn’t mentioned more often. This particular brand of beatmaking combines the best elements of funky sample-based underground, and the majority of these tracks would be right at home on a mixtape alongside Gangstarr, Jurassic 5, and Latyrx. Grade A California MC Planet Asia guest rhymes on the Crucible’s standout track, “Sweet Sixteen.” Search YouTube for “Anonymous Twist” to see him beat match, scratch, and MC all at the same time! —Jason Medina
Artist: Ween Album: La Cucaracha Label: Rounder Whether die-hard Weener or casual fan, people generally know what to expect from Ween. Without fail, the unexpected is to be...well, expected. As is usually the case, they cover a ton of ground over the course of an album. One fresh ingredient not heard on previous records is a liberal misuse of horns. In fact, the album opener “Fiesta” explodes out of the gate with wild, out-of-tune trumpets blaring over a hokey game-show-styled backbeat. “Friends” explores Euro-pop-techno. In sharp contrast, “Object” is a minor-key ballad romanticizing the thoughts of a serial killer. “With My Own Bare Hands” is butt shakin’ rock at its finest, and “Woman and Man” gallops forth in rock glory with a bongo frenzy and Santana-style guitar solos. While some of their earlier work might be more consistent, La Cucaracha is not a bad gateway for Ween newbies. A spin through the whole disc will reveal that Ween can excel in any guise they decide to wear. —Jason Reid
Artist: The Coral Album: Roots and Echoes Label: Columbia The Coral wears its influences openly, seemingly unashamed of its prominent ’60s retro sound. They execute it so well, however, that there’s little chance of them coming off as a self-consciously retro novelty act (remember The Dukes of Stratosphear?) With a substantial body of recordings, the band has obviously buffed its craft of the pop hook and undeniable melody to a glossy sheen. The juvenile and simplistic lyrics, however, are another matter. “Remember Me” and “Fireflies,” for example, are full of clichés as wince-inducing as the Yardbirds’ horrid “Still I’m Sad,” with cheeseball lines like “Fireflies fly on by / you will never see me cry.” But then they winningly place two gorgeous, mid-tempo ballads like “Put the Sun Back” and “Jaqueline” back-to-back, rescuing Roots and Echoes in two deft moves. “Jaqueline,” in particular, should score The Coral thousands of female fans it may not already have earned. —Alan Smithee
Artist: Jeremy Fisher Album: Goodbye Blue Monday Label: Wind Up Goodbye Blue Monday is Jeremy Fisher’s third release in last five years, and in that time he has bloomed into a compelling storyteller. There are obvious echoes of a young Paul Simon throughout the album and perhaps even a Neil Diamond influence on opening track “Scar That Never Heals,” with its lively chorus and sunny acoustic guitar. It’s a bitter breakup song in disguise, however, and this theme is prevalent throughout Goodbye Blue Monday, though you wouldn’t know it by the upbeat accompanying music. In the track “Cigarette” he uses his unhealthy relationship as a metaphor for the bad habit that he can’t kick. Overall this record feels a bit middle-of-the-road, but what it lacks in edge, it makes up for with its sincerity and Fisher’s familiar-sounding, unadorned voice. It’s ear candy that might be too sweet for some but is too agreeable not to be liked by many. —Sarah Polk
Artist: The Fiery Furnaces Album: Widow City Label: Thrill Jockey Geez. The narratives of each one of these songs could be screenplays for their own surreal short films. On paper it looks like genius. In the context of a song, sometimes you’ll think to yourself, “Man…The Fiery Furnaces sure do cram a ton of syllables into a measure, don’t they?” It’s a little offputting at first, but the musical avenues they travel throughout Widow City are so inviting that repeat listens are inevitable, thus making these abstract tales rather addictive. This talented sibling duo play by no rules whatsoever, and Eleanor Friedberger even drops nimbly rapped verses on “Automatic
Husband” enthusiastically insisting; “Thanks for asking. Yes it’s true, we’ve been waiting for you. We’ve been waiting for you.” The huge, saturated recording styles of the Key Club studio lend themselves well to the Schoolhouse Rock meets big ugly funk beats. The opening riff from “Navy Nurse” alone would have any budding recordist envious. The Furnaces clearly have severe ADD, but while its constant twists and turns might be disorienting initially, you’ll ultimately be thankful you let Widow City get under your skin. —Jason Reid
NOV/DEC 2007 - Department 71
Writer: Chris Ahrens
always thought I’d go to Africa someday, to surf the perfect rights of Jeffreys Bay and see exotic animals and, when guilty pleasures overwhelmed me, help kids orphaned by war and disease. Friends had gone and returned to tell about their lives, forever changed from quiet desperation to meaningful action. So one Saturday morning I rose from my couch stupor, called a friend, and headed from my home in San Diego not to the airport but instead twenty miles south, to the Mexican border. The cab driver laughed, saying that in thirtyfive years he had never before had a request for the Tijuana dump. But that was our destination and we arrived in a place where flies don’t land for fear of humiliation and infection. Hundreds of seagulls circled above a dozen or so people, mostly sad men, some strong women, and two children who pawed through piles of decaying foliage, broken plastic, rats, and at least one rotting dog carcass, on a treasure hunt that for the successful few yields a gently used toy but for most only a few pieces of not-too-overly-ripe fruit and some jagged metal which is sold for pennies a pound. A voice shoots out in perfect English, asking where we are from. San Diego, I reply, as a man rises from his stoop and limps over to introduce himself. Tom (not his real name) has lived in the dump for nearly three years and has seen things he shouldn’t have—toxic waste being illegally dumped, people’s bloated bodies discarded like broken toys, still pliable babies, hearts stopped after being ripped from their mother’s womb, hacked body parts, all quickly covered up by the tractors that keep the dirt moving over evidence of childhood fun, broken 72 :RISEN MAGAZINE
marriages, and unspeakable crimes. Tom lives in the dump in a structure consisting of three cinderblock walls that must have once been somebody’s office. The torn blue plastic tarp roof keeps most of the weather out. Trash reaches to his blanket-and-plywood front door. His limp, he explains, is from the nail he stepped on a few weeks back, piercing to the bone, sending shockwaves through his system as he walks. Without a tetanus shot or even a bottle of peroxide and some gauze bandages, he seeks out clean water each day, to boil with a little salt, hoping to keep infection at bay. His story is a long, complicated tale of military honor somehow leading to criminal charges and, eventually, prison and deportation. He once worked for a missionary group. Now he is on his own, scavenging for things of little value while holding Bible studies and teaching English to the kids. A few hundred feet from the dump is a shanty town where children help with laundry and babysitting, do school work, play tag in the dirt, or wade in muddy water, perhaps unaware that crystal clear pools, down pillows, and thirty types of coffee purchased for a day’s wage are all less than a tank of gas away. Right now they seem like other kids, maybe, somehow happier. But these are not other kids, they are older, hardened by life and the reminders of death coming from the crematorium in the center of town and the cemetery that shares a border with the school. Some of the houses in the area have been built by a San Diego pastor named Vaughn, by Youth With A Mission, or by other Good Samaritans. The entire place is stacked on decades of landfill, and
rain will immediately turn it all to slime. Looking around passively, Tom mentions that a big earthquake would send the entire community down the hill in one smoldering heap. We offer a few coloring books to the kids, after which one boy chases after me with a bagful of cheese puffs in return for the gift. Thanking him, we continue walking out of town before saying goodbye to Tom. Back on the streets of Tijuana a beggar holds a tin cup; his feet are twisted in the opposite direction of how they should be. I am too ashamed to look him in the eye. Mothers line the gauntlet on the Mexican side of the walk back to the U.S., holding out plastic cups, cradling babies or maybe just bundles of rags made to look like babies in hopes of getting sympathy that will lead to spare change. It’s a scam, I tell myself, scanning merchants’ carts filled with Marley posters, leather wallets, tin and cut glass rings, plastic-handled and deadly looking knives, baseball caps with marijuana leaves emblazoned on them. I pay five dollars for a string of black beads with a cross attached to the end of them, which I immediately put around my neck. Back home, my well-fed cats, Pete and Clara, greet me at the door of our ’60s style single-story well-swept house. Hot homemade soup on the stove pulls me farther inside. My wife is not there, however, and later I learn she has been serving dinner to a neighbor who is recovering from knee surgery and cannot yet walk. Africa on her map is just out the front door.