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RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
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RVA #12 SPRING 2013 WWW.RVAMAG.COM
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SPECIAL THANKS to Bunkie Trinite Trophies for lending us a trophy for the Belmont Pizza ad, If you need a trophy or plaque, go by and see those guys!
RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
PHOTO : JOSIAH MARROQUIN
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RVA MAGAZINE SPRING 2013 CONTENTS
RVA MAGAZINE ARTICLES ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE AT RVAMAG.COM/magazine cover photo by Marcus Hyde contents page photo by Dante Parker
RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
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THE NERVOUS TICKS BY aLEX CRIQUI / photos by charles anthony lynch
The Nervous Ticks play Rock and Roll. I’m talking about out and out, bloody knuckles on guitar, manic depressive, James Dean driving a Mercury off a cliff in a teenage death race Rock and Roll. Their sound combines the flagrant intensity of hardcore punk with a maniacal juke-joint-onfire Southern stomp that has become their calling card in the Richmond music scene. Any show that the Nervous Ticks play is sure to be a sweaty, beer-swilling, vocal-cord lacerating, and eardrumdestroying affair, fueled by the band’s intense, irrepressible energy. Even on their recordings, their chaotic, jangling guitar sounds like its being beaten to death over a pounding Ramones-style CroMagnon beat that evokes everything primal and fundamental about the power and ethos of punk rock music. After years of lineup changes revolving around central member and songwriter Chaz Tick, the band has evolved from a bedroom tape recording project into a live show powerhouse driven by the addition of percussionist/ backing vocalist Liza Jane and drummer Kyle Flanagan, who have both brought an added level of intensity to the band’s unconventional rhythm section comprised of maracas, tambourines, and a minimal drum kit featuring an upturned washtub.
Following their self released Death to Videodrome tape and several regional tours, the Nervous Ticks have begun receiving a lot of attention and accolades from listeners locally and overseas. Shortly after the November release of their debut 7” “Badlands/Trash Talk” vinyl single on Italy’s Goodbye Boozy Label, I got in touch with Nervous Ticks singer and guitarist Chaz Tick to talk about the band’s Southernfried brand of subversive destruction. How did the Nervous Ticks start off? In early 2009, I was in a weird headspace and trying to feel somewhat normal again after getting cleaned up from some real nasty habits. Mostly I just sat alone in my room trying to teach myself guitar every day, and ate too much ephedrine (laughs)--don’t judge. Jared was over one day and was showing me how to use my four-track when he offered to play drums on some recordings. If I were to describe your sound as the ghost of Howling Wolf on methamphetamine, would you think that was accurate? How would you describe your music? I guess so. I’m not that into Chicago stuff though. Or meth, really. I usually just describe it as fast and thrashy garage punk and let people bring to it what they want.
You all seem to tour the Deep South a lot--what draws you down to that region? Well, we have more friends there, for one. I love the landscape and the people. We don’t relate as well to Northerners for some reason, and sometimes it seems that people up North see our music as affected, whereas people from the South don’t think it’s unconventional to use blues and Americana influences. Do you consider your music Southern in its nature? Sure. All of my biggest influences are very Southern in terms of both subject matter and guitar playing. Oblivians, Hasil Adkins, the Gun Club... I’ve noticed that the washtub drum that you all use for your kit has been getting more and more caved in every time I see you all perform. Will there ever come a time where it gets retired, or do you feel like it’s an integral part of the band’s sound? Kyle beats that thing to hell. We got a new one recently, though. The washtub [is] definitely a part of our sound; that’s what I played on when it was just me and the four track. I found one in the trash and was going to make a washtub bass, but got lazy, and I didn’t have a snare, and was also broke. I guess I don’t think about it anymore. Also I like it because it’s sharper than a snare.
RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
Do you feel like there has been a rock and roll revival lately in Richmond? I sure hope so! For all Richmond prides itself on its music scene, that’s something we were about five years behind on. I think a lot of the resurgence just has to do with all of us getting together and working towards a common goal, instead of getting jammed It seems like there has been a really strong response on [shows with] indie or hardcore [bands] and evto the new vinyl record. How have you all reacted to erybody going it alone. And there are some great the sudden burst of attention you’ve been getting bands that are starting up, like Olde Shame. from overseas? It was really weird to think that a bunch of Europe- What are some of the bands you all have been playing ans were into our stuff! A sense of “I don’t know with, locally and around the country, that have been you; how do you know our band?” But it was a small influencing you? pressing, only 240 [copies], so it’s not like I’m let- Locally, probably Warren Hixson and various metal ting it go to my head, and it’s not like life or being in bands. I’m really into the way vocals are phrased in a band is somehow easier now. Hopefully it’ll make metal music--[those] are big influences right now. booking tours easier, but I guess I’ll find that out Around the country--and we haven’t played with all soon. We’re punks at heart. We crave not fleeting these bands--I’m really into Paint Fumes, GG King, How did you all get hooked up with Goodbye Boozy for the “Badlands” 7 inch release? He emailed us. My guess is he read a review of the tape somewhere. I was pretty incredulous because I’ve been following that label for a long time. But he was really nice and really easy to work with.
“...you definitely owe the audience something just for showing up. Whether it’s two people or two hundred shouldn’t matter.” Tyvek, Haunted George, and Roman Gabriel Todd’s the Beast Rising Up Out of the Sea. Hearing GG The Ticks have gone through a number of lineups King’s Esoteric Lore LP made me feel a lot better trysince you started, but with the recent addition of Liza ing to incorporate metal influences in garage punk; and Kyle it seems like you’ve really hit your stride. hearing that there is a way to make it work, although How has the new line up changed the way the band they sound a lot different from us. works? The new lineup makes things go a lot smoother! On the song “Videodrome” you draw from the film of Both Kyle and Liza are super-talented, and working the same name for the lyrics. Is it a similar case for with them is great. Kyle is also the first drummer the song “Badlands”? What draws you toward the we’ve had who has been solid enough a percussion- subject matter for your songs? ist to improvise, which is cool. All the old drummers “Videodrome” was actually penned during the height of the Occupy movement. I couldn’t help but were more songwriters who dabbled in drums. feel that a lot of people were using Occupy as an Working with Liza on vocals is a lot different than opportunity to push their own agendas, under proit was with Boney Loner [former percussionist and tection of a general spirit of progress. It’s the same vocalist, now of the Sacred Teachers], because I’m thing that happens to James Woods in the movie; in a relationship with her. If we fight over band stuff, he’s getting pushed by both nefarious sides to do newe still have to go home together. So there’s more farious things, except one is pretty clearly evil, and of an incentive to compromise and work around one uses its image as good to do evil. “Badlands” is each other’s abilities, and shit like that. I think the about how sometimes you just get so mad at someend product comes out a lot better, because there’s body that you know in your heart that you want to more of us in it. And there’s probably a more inter- kill them. But in order to live among human society, esting dynamic, because we’re in love and have all we have to bury these impulses, even when we are convinced that in some cases death is the answer. these weird feelings all the time. The lyrics are pretty vague and it’s always bothered attention nor worldly riches.
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me. So I guess to answer your question, our songs are mostly about all different shit, although it’s basically whatever I’m feeling at the time. And most tend to be autobiographical, about stuff that bothers me. A lot of times I’m just influenced by stuff I read or see that sticks with me. What is the strangest genre you’ve heard your band called? The ghost of Howlin’ Wolf on methamphetamines? We hear a lot of: blues punk, trash punk, fuzz punk, garage punk, and any combination of those. As long as “punk” is in there, I’m happy. People compare us to a lot of weird things, and it’s strange how often they can pick out music I listen to a lot that I didn’t think bled into our songs. You all put on really high energy performances. What makes a good show in your opinion? Whether or not a band looks like they’re having fun. You’re supposed to be entertainers, you know? I think you definitely owe the audience something just for showing up. Whether it’s two people or two hundred shouldn’t matter. One time at Don Pedro [on tour], we screwed up the booking, so it was just us and Eurotics playing and no locals. We fully expected to just hang out behind the establishment the whole time and not even play. But then these five dudes at the bar that we had never seen before kept yelling for the Nervous Ticks! That was one of my favorite shows we’ve ever played. Those guys went wild, and we played every song we knew and some we didn’t. We were just so happy that they were there and so genuinely excited about something so silly as punk rock. Also, when a band can just be their dorky selves instead of feeling like they have to act like assholes on stage. I like that. You’re musicians--we already know you’re dorks. It’s OK. What are the band’s plans for the next year? The 7” EP for “Videodrome” and some other songs from the tape is due out in late February. We’re gonna go on a two-week tour for that. That’ll finish the stuff from the tape, and we’ll record some of the newer stuff with the new lineup soon. There’s talk of a split 7” with Buck Biloxi and the Fucks, from New Orleans. I had a real busy last year with school and couldn’t find the time to be very prolific. I’m hoping to change that next year now that I’ve finally finished. thenervousticks.bandcamp.com 13
RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
CHRIS VISIONS by JAMES WAYLAND
Chris Visions is a freelance artist based in Richmond. A VCU grad, he has tremendous style and his range is incredible. In particular, I am drawn to his ability to convey action and provide his illustrations with an abundance of emotion. I think he’s a phenomenon, and I can’t wait to see where his talent takes him. I’ve been working on my first novel, Trailer Park Trash & Vampires, for years now, and I had always envisioned releasing it as an illustrated version. I had tried unsuccessfully to find an artist who was up to the challenge, but when RVA Mag’s publisher, Tony Harris, put me in contact with Chris Visions, I knew he was the man for the job. He absolutely killed the illustrations for my book. He did an amazing job of interpreting the material, and the images he provided represent a superb addition to the manuscript. Sometimes when I would stop to examine the artwork he sent my way, I had to wonder whether or not the dude was psychic. It was like he was could see exactly what I was describing, and anyone who has ever been involved in a collaboration knows how hard that it is to achieve. It’s not just that the atmosphere in his work is so rich or that the characters are so vivid, either. A big part of it is the simple fact that his wealth of talent allows him to adapt to the subject matter with ease. Chris is a guy who specializes in everything. When Tony asked me if I would like to interview Chris for RVA, I was more than happy to do so. Hell, if you ask me a question about Chris Visions, I’m apt to start gushing, so I was definitely interested in learning more about this stellar up-and-coming artist.
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Where does your passion for art come from? I guess the roots of my passion go back to when I saw my Mom draw for the first time. I was three or four. It was at my grandmother’s house at the kitchen table. She took a ballpoint pen and drew this rose on a napkin. It was at that point something clicked. I had been fascinated with Disney cartoons, comic strips, and coloring books up to that point, but seeing someone in person draw those lines blew my mind. Who are some of the artists whose work inspires you? Moebius, Eric Canete, Norman Rockwell, Will Eisner, R.M. Guera, J.C. Leyendecker, Jim Lee, Michaelangelo, Chris Bachalo, Gustav Klimt, Jean Michel Basquiat, N.C. Wyeth, Dean Cornwell, Adam Hughes, Otomo Katsuhiro, Ashley Wood, Sergio Toppi, George Pratt, The Kickstand Kids, Sean Gordon Murphy, Paul Pope, Alphonse Mucha, Jamie Hewlett... What keeps me really going are my friends, my “RVA Fam.” We have a sketch night once a week, where we just take some time to see what everyone’s working on, inspire and push each other. We all want to see each other succeed and are honest with each other’s work, and that keeps us moving forward. They are my A-Team; I love ‘em. I find your work to be extremely vibrant—there’s so much energy in the mix that the images practically jump off the page. How do you inject such excitement into an illustration? That’s in my personality--I’m a performer at heart. I love movies and the theater, and part of me wants to go down that road. I see the paper as my stage.
You do a great job of framing your work in a way that really brings it to life. Tell us a bit about how you go about deciding how to present your subject. I’m constantly trying to challenge myself when it comes to composition. I like thinking about how it reads as an abstract, as basic shapes, before fiddling with the details. And I do lots of thumbnails. How do you know when a piece is truly finished? Is it difficult to put a project you’re really engrossed in aside when that time comes? The deadline tells me it’s done, whether its the one given to me or the one I give myself. I find if I linger on a piece too long, that “jazz” is taken out of it, and it turns into a corpse. How long might it take for you to complete a project? It all depends on the project. The deadline always has the last word. It can range from an evening, like my pin-ups, to a couple weeks, depending on the size and number of pieces. Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what type of tunes are you apt to be rocking out to while you work? I like to make playlists for my projects. A few artists as of late: Flying Lotus, Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, Bon Iver, Wu-Tang Clan, Nickelus F, Outkast, Hans Zimmer, Otis Redding, Star Slinger, Gil Scott Heron, Frank Ocean, Grimes, Cowboy Bebop soundtrack, Jeff Buckley, Jack White, Lana
15 special thanks to brandon crowe for getting this together. roll tide!
“I like to make playlists for my projects. A few artists as of late: Flying Lotus, Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, Bon Iver, Wu-Tang Clan, Nickelus F.... When it’s very serious work, I just loop Justin Bieber.” Del Rey, Active Child, Gorillaz--and usually a lot of what friends will introduce me to. When it’s very serious work, I just loop Justin Bieber. I hope you’re kidding about Bieber. You were at the New York Comic Con just a few weeks ago. Tell us a little about your experiences there. NYCC is always a phenomenal experience. It’s awesome to see an event for comics getting this huge on the East Coast. It was my first time with a table this year, and it has been by far the best time I’ve had. It was great setting up with friends and showing work to people who became fans. And meeting amazing artists like Rafael Albuquerque, Sam Wolfe Connolly, Matteo Scalera, Becky Cloonan, and others was a true treat. I can’t wait until next year! We’re both big comic fans; right now I’m in love with the Swamp Thing reboot DC has put together, and Marvel’s New Avengers. What comics are you following these days? Oh man, I’m actually doing some more of my homework and going back to reading some of the essentials. Right now I’m filling in the gaps on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, and Moebius. Some of my favorite titles as of late are DC’s Blackest Night series, Vertigo’s Scalped, [and] Marvel’s X-Force. [I’m] looking forward to reading Mignola’s Hellboy in Hell, via Dark Horse.
What’s your favorite scary movie? Spice World, hands down. Evil Dead, The Exorcist, 28 Days Later, The Thing, The Mist, Se7en, and Silence of the Lambs are all right, too. Speaking of things that go bump in the night: whether you’re talking comics or television, everybody seems to be talking about The Walking Dead. What do you think of that property? Robert Kirkman [writer of the Walking Dead comic series] is great!! I’m reading his Invincible series, just started Walking Dead, and am struggling to read more because I’m enjoying the show that much. Carl gets on my nerves though. Lock that kid up! When you decide to do the illustrations for Trailer Park Trash & Vampires, I really encouraged you take the material to the limit. That led you to some really dark places. What was that like? It definitely was a trip, especially for “The Good Life” image. I’m used to taking a subtler approach, using metaphors and holding back on certain subjects. Given the material here and the fact that it was a novel, I knew that these few illustrations had to hit hard initially, especially when an image competes with movies and other material viewers have been exposed to. It took a tough hour to take that direction, but after that it fell into place and I was able to “play that character.”
What are you working on now? I’m sending work out to the larger comic houses, working on some personal comics to put out right now that I’m pretty excited about, and working on some comic covers and freelance. The oven’s always on. Last one is an easy one. Not only is it a “fill-inthe-blank” question, but it’s also short and sweet. If someone was going to describe one of your illustrations in one word, what would you want them to say about a Chris Visions piece? Note: this isn’t a test, so I can’t take any points off if you use more than one word. This illustration by Chris Visions is ______. I don’t ever want to fill that gap. I feel others who view my work can always surprise me [with] what they get from the images I create. All I want is that period removed, and to keep people talking and thinking. www.chrisvisions.com
RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
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MARCUS HYDE BY KRISTINA HEADRICK
Looking at Marcus Hyde’s photos, I can’t help but wonder what led the man who started out shooting rocks and trees for his high school darkroom class into the realm of fashion photography. Despite its association with fashion, much of his work, in my opinion, has enough artistic merit to stand alone as portraiture. A number of his photos are startlingly erotic but far too too edgy for the likes of a Victoria’s Secret catalogue. The feminine form in its most statuesque incarnations reigns supreme. Marcus is passionate about spending time behind the lens, and makes a point to shoot every day. This passion led him from Richmond to Florida’s Full Sail University for film school. He then came back to work in Richmond for a bit before moving Los Angeles, where he’s resided for the past five months. One thing I wanted to pick his brain about was the difference between working and living here versus on the West Coast. As I learned, it wasn’t a lack of work that drove him from Richmond, but a desire to experience life in a fresh location. Travel, connections, and dedication are crucial elements to his particular formula for success. I caught up with Marcus over the phone You’ve been living in LA for how long? Almost four months now. How’s it going? It’s definitely different, a totally different world. How does it compare for you work-wise? Have you been able to get a lot more work there than in Richmond, or at least decrease the amount you have to travel for work? It’s about the same. It’s just basically getting my name out once I’m actually here. No one really knows I’m here until they start seeing me work with someone. It’s definitely a word of mouth type of thing, but it’s been picking up. Did you go to art school? I went to Full Sail in Orlando. I did film and video there. Are you still doing film work or just concentrating on photography? I’m mainly concentrating on photography, but am trying to get back into film. You don’t really need a team to do photography; film is so much more involved.
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So you went to Full Sail, then came back to Richmond to work for awhile? Yep. Came back here, picked up the camera, and basically started shooting. I see you shoot primarily fashion photography. What got you into that, specifically? It kinda just fell into place. Originally I didn’t intend on shooting photos, it was always just video stuff. I just started shooting photos of friends. Then I actually had models contact me thinking that’s what I did--and it wasn’t. Once I worked with those models, then agencies started contacting me, and from there I thought I might as well just do it. How do you about the process of setting up work with the agencies? I’ll either contact the agency or they’ll contact me and tell me what guys or girls they want me to do testing with. If I contact them they usually send me a package of about 20-30 different models. I’ll pick the ones I want to work with, and just go from there. So how do you choose who you want to shoot? Is there anything specific that you look for in a model? Different unique looks. Just [people that] have a unique, not everyday look. I feel like a lot of what you see, looking at fashion magazines, are trends. Think Twiggy popularizing the waif look, Gisele Bundchen popularizing the exotic look, etc. Have you noticed any trends in particular regarding the models you work with? I really just see the trends in photography. With modeling and fashion, that stuff’s always changing, but there are a lot of trends with photography. Are you into men’s fashion, or fashion in general? Or is this type of photography simply what you fell into for your work? It’s weird, I don’t know. If it’s looks good, I’ll get it. I like streetwear. There’s a company out here called Orisue; I like them. As far as high end, I like Louis Vuitton, Hermes. Why LA over New York then, for fashion fashion work? There’s always been that battle between New York and LA... Well, I’d been to New York but had never been to California before. People always talked it up like it’s the place to be, so I figured I’d see if I liked it. So you moved out there without ever having visited? Yeah, I’d never been before; just picked up and moved.
A lot of people in fashion seem to bow at the altar of Terry Richardson. Are there any specific photographers who inspire you? There’s no one in particular who inspires me, but seeing different ads, there may just be one thing that inspires me. I can see 20 different pictures and pick out one thing from each picture and then put my own spin on it. It’s just different things, not one photographer in particular. So I read on your blog that you used Canon over Nikon. Is that still what you prefer? I shoot a Canon 5d Mark 2. I’ve used Nikon before but Canon just feels more user friendly. They both produce great images. So you’ve been doing photography since high school. You were working with film then; do you still? Yeah. I did a two year black and white darkroom photography class, but that was really it. When I was doing that I was shooting rocks and trees-just random stuff, not even people. So do you prefer shooting people? I imagine it’s cool to get to interact with people and build relationships. Yeah, everyone’s different, so I like shooting with different people, meeting people and traveling and stuff. So I guess now you’re concentrating on editorial work vs just doing photography for photography’s sake. Do you see yourself getting back into the latter, or are you trying to focus simply on editorial work? I want to try get more into editorial stuff. [With] editorial stuff, you can be creative and shoot however you want to shoot it. Basically, I want to try to shoot something that’s set like a movie scene, something that tells a story. On your tumblr and website you have mostly single shots of models, but they’re all quite different. To make each one unique, what are the little things that inspire you? What gets you going/gives you the chills? Lighting, shadows. Which is kinda strange. I like that more than anything, honestly--just the way photos are lit. Natural [light] or artificial strobes or whatever. Do you do a lot of stuff with artificial lighting? Since I’ve been in LA, it’s probably 98% natural light. Back home it was more studio, artificial light.
“You’ve just got to be passionate about it. If you’re not 100% always about it, anytime of the day, anytime of the night, you’re not going to go anywhere with it. I live and breathe shooting--that’s all I do.”
RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
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RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
Sunshine, definitely one of the pros to LA. Do you ever see yourself coming back to Richmond? Do you think this is a place where an artist’s career can really grow and become something to make a living off of, or do you think it’s better to make a move somewhere with a bigger market, like you’ve done? I’ll definitely come back to Richmond to visit, but I want to keep moving and going different places and seeing what I like. So your move was more to experience different things and make different connections, less to do with not being able to find enough work here? No, I had plenty of work in Richmond. I’d been shooting full time, every day. What advice would you give to yourself 5 years ago? Say to someone who’s trying to do what you’re doing coming from a town like Richmond. What’s been the key to your success? You’ve just got to be passionate about it. If you’re not 100% always about it, anytime of the day, anytime of the night, you’re not going to go anywhere with it. I live and breathe shooting-that’s all I do. That’s awesome. I wonder, with some artists who I know and don’t see working every day, whether it’s something they’re truly passionate about. Sounds like it’s your life force. Yeah, and in order to stay relevant and [have] people know who you are, you have to constantly shoot, or constantly do what it is you do. Otherwise people will ask where you went, figure you fell off, and wonder what happened. Yeah, if you don’t there’s inevitably someone out there trying harder than you. Have you met a lot of other photographers in LA? Yeah, I’ve met a bunch. There are a lot of really really good people out here too, but the photographers seem cool for the most part. It’s really competitive but there’s a lot of work too. So I’m sure it balances out. Was your experience at Full Sail your first time living outside of VA? Is that what made you want to try living and working in different cities? Yeah. If you don’t have an ultimate goal in mind, a bigger picture, Richmond will suck you in and you’ll stay there for a long time. It’s not completely a bad thing, though. There are a lot of really good people in Richmond. Is there anywhere else you really would like to live and shoot? I’ve never been outside the US. Would love to go to Europe somewhere. Never been to Hawaii either. LA’s cool, besides the people. It’s totally different from back home. People are way more real on the East Coast and in VA. marcushydemedia.com
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HUMUNGUS BY addison herron-wheeler / Photo by dante parker In a time when metal is characterized by apocalyptic doom and crust, avant-garde black metal, and technically layered death metal, a band like Humungus, who don’t take themselves too seriously and aren’t afraid if others don’t either, is truly a rare thing to come across. It’s easy to write them off at first glance as another throwback-thrash Municipal Waste clone, but if you glance for even a second longer, you will notice that the typical ascending thrash riff and simplistic drumming is absent in their music. Instead, Humungus rely on complex yet thoroughly catchy 80s metal riffs, and their rhythm section offers far more than a simple backbeat. You will also notice that they place fans on stage that are perfectly positioned to aid in their headbanging epicness-an addition that is obviously and self-consciously humorous, but also one that adds a lot to their lively stage presence. In short, Humungus--or The Humungus, as they are sometimes called now due to legal complications with a Verbal Abuse 24
new stuff out today,” says bassist Zach O’Carroll. “I try to incorporate elements other than just heavy metal, such as blues, classic rock, etc. My musical taste has been branching out from just diehard metal to all sorts of other stuff, which usually makes it’s way into the writing process one way or another.” “We’re all just really big fans of classic heavy metal, “People absolutely lump us together with Munici- and it’s what we all relate to the most musically,” pal Waste because we drink beer, we’re from Rich- adds the band’s other guitarist, Ian Dishman. “As far mond, and it’s metal,” says guitarist Peyton Gregory. as a formula goes, I don’t know if we really have one. “If people actually listened to the music, they would We just really like super-duper crunchy riffs that notice a ton of major differences. Municipal Waste make you want to lose all control.” is more of a crossover, or thrash, band. I would consider Humungus to be more of an 80s metal band.” Humungus was born in early 2011, when Zach met And while Humungus may be a throwback in some some of the other members at a show. “Ian was ways, as evidenced by one of their best-known roommates with the girl I was dating at the time, and songs, “Drinkin’ A Beer,” it seems that their mission I met Robby [Scarce] and Jack [Bauer] at their other is more to play pure, unadulterated metal than to band, Craptain Jack [and The Shmees]’s, show at evoke specific feelings of decades past. “I’ve always Plaza Bowl,” says Zach. “At that show, Ian was filling liked the sound of classic heavy metal over all the in on guitar since our original guitarist was M.I.A.,” spinoff laying claim to the same name--are not a band who will fight with you for hours about how to properly classify their music, or whether they should be compared with a certain band or associated with a certain genre. But they are also not a band to blindly follow trends and churn out meaningless music.
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says drummer Robby Scarce. “I was surprised that [Zach] liked it, because I knew Zach was in a death metal band, Antietam 1862. Zach and Ian started playing together in what would become Humungus. They asked me to play drums and I accepted and suggested that Jack be the singer. Zach found Peyton on the internet somehow or another and Peyton came to try out in my bedroom, which is where Humungus practice was for a little while.” Eventually Zach left Antietam 1862 to devote more time to the band, and the rest of the guys became more invested as well. It only took a little under a year for them to start recording, playing around Richmond frequently, and going on small tours. “I think the main reason we formed Humungus was because we all hung out and went to metal shows and saw nobody moshing or headbanging,” adds Ian. “We had to put an end to that immediately.” When it comes to the songwriting process, Humungus are very democratic, although Zach comes up with a lot of the initial ideas for songs. “Its a fairly equal split,” he says.“I write a lot of the riffs and then jam to them with Robby. Then Peyton and Ian add dynamics and stuff like that. The songs usually change a lot as they are jammed on. Jack writes almost all the lyrics, although occasionally someone else might write a line or two.”
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Humungus have been on the road quite frequently since their formation, and have some ridiculous stories to show for it. “We’ve done several East Coast tours, from Miami up to Boston, and this past summer we did a two-week tour to Texas and back up the coast,” says Zach. “This summer, we drove from South Carolina to Miami with a Liberty Tax trailer on the back of our van. In Columbia, we witnessed a guy drink a whole 40oz of piss. He was warned of the contents, but alcohol turns you into a badass, right? I think we may have been on Storage Wars: Austin too. I need to see if I can find the episode.” They have even more gut-curdling stories than these, from meeting a meth-crazed wannabe groupie wearing a bathing suit in Fort Worth, to exploring the cave where the movie Teeth was filmed in Austin, as well as some that are lost completely to the obscurity of beer-fogged memory, such as their entire stay in New Orleans. But clearly it is all in good fun. No charges have been filed--at least, not yet. “We just released a 7” vinyl EP on Forcefield Records, and we are planning on a full length sometime in the spring or summer, hopefully,” says Zach. “We are currently working on finishing up some new songs for it. We have joked around with the name MegaHevy.” The 7” featured the songs “Shark Castle” and “Drinkin’ A Beer,” which will both appear on the fulllength album, and they filmed a video for “Drinkin’ A Beer” in Peyton’s basement, with cameos from lots
of fans. They are thrilled to have hooked up with favorite local metal label Forcefield, who approached them late last year about releasing a record. “[Forcefield founder] Tim Harwich has really hooked us up and looked out for us, and it’s awesome to be a part of the Forcefield family,” says Zach. They are also planning a tour this summer that will hopefully venture farther north or out to the West Coast. Overall, although Humungus make it a point to have a lighthearted attitude about metal and the music they make, they strongly appreciate the local scene and all the support they have received since their inception. “I thought everyone would hate us when we first started,” admits Ian, who was afraid local fans that lean more towards doom and blackened death metal would scoff at their antics. Luckily, that wasn’t the case. Not only were they received well at shows, they have been given multiple opportunities to tour, and now have a local record deal. “I just want to take the time to state how thankful we are for everyone in Richmond’s support for us ever since we started in 2011,” he adds. “It really is a privilege to be a part of this community and play for the all of the awesome people in it (you know who you are) and we thank you.” Look out for much more beer-drinking, hair-swinging debauchery in the coming year! humungus.bandcamp.com
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As I walk into the Church of Abraham-a house in The Fan that serves as a show and practice space for local punk bands-to interview Sundials, one thing becomes abundantly clear. Despite their casual nature during conversation, their work ethic is anything but. With a seemingly endless assortment of releases under their belt and the growing acclaim of punk communities around the world, Sundials have been in constant forward motion since their beginning in the summer of 2009. Sundials initially came together as an extension of guitarist Harris Mendell’s solo project Horn & Tusk. “While I was writing songs as Horn & Tusk, I was also playing with Hold Tight,” Mendell explains. “A lot of the stuff I started writing felt more in line with being played along with a band. ‘Names That Matter Most’ was the first inkling
towards this, and it motivated me to start Sundials.” The mentality that guides the first songs that Sundials wrote isn’t too far removed from Mendell’s approach to his solo work. One of the group’s strongest attributes is a level of intimacy that is developed within each song. They document moments in time that can find universal appeal beyond singular musical communities. It’s an attribute that helped to make the bands that influenced Sundials (such as Jawbreaker and Alkaline Trio) so popular, and thus helped bring attention to the group almost immediately upon their inception. It was only logical that Mendell would approach former Friendly Fire bandmate Carl Athey about playing bass. “There wasn’t that
much time removed from when Friendly Fire played their last show and Sundials played their first, but the sound was definitely something different entirely,” Athey recalls. The relationship between the two goes beyond just being in a band together. There is a similarity in the way the two friends stand behind their respective ideologies about the way they conduct themselves as musicians, and in their personal lives. You can see this in Athey’s work as a writer, and in the way the band expresses themselves when discussing civil liberties that may be seen as trivial by people who hold different political values. When the band first started, Mendell envisioned a heavier approach than that of the pop punk bands he had participated in before. The band never really accomplished this in their creative output, but the desire
by shannon cleary / photos by jake cunningham
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for heaviness was a motivating factor in their decision to ask drummer Cory Chubb to join the band. “I envisioned Sundials as this heavier grunge band--bands like Young Widows come to mind,” Mendell explains. “Cory was an easy candidate to at least give it a shot towards seeing if we could create that sound. I guess we all know how that turned out,” he jokes. Having spent his younger years in the DC area, Chubb was heavily influenced by much of the Dischord records catalog, which is illustrated perfectly in his approach to drumming as well as songwriting. There is a bursting spirit to his performances behind his kit, yet the band’s melodicism never wanes when Chubb contributes to their songwriting process. Sundials’s first release, The First Six Songs, is a quick detour from those early sonic aspirations, but demonstrates early signs of the band’s promise. Tracks like “Neighborhood Well” and “Names That
Matter Most” have remained strong set pieces to this day for Sundials. When listening, it’s easy to see why. The two songs indicate the band’s ability to craft catchy songs that incorporate the influence of 90s alternative rock. According to Mendell, this release has remained a fan favorite. “Even after we put out Never Settle, we would still get the biggest reactions from people in regards to our first set of songs.” A great deal of attention was brought to the release when it was featured on the site If You Make It. “I don’t think nearly as many people would know about us, or we would have been given as many opportunities as we have been, if it weren’t for our inclusion on the site as a free download,” Mendell explains. The First Six Songs is titled very literally--the tracks appear in the order that they were written by the group, and show a respectable progression for Sundials. This EP set the standard for the band’s work ethic. “Once
the band started, we just kept working on writing new songs and touring whenever we could,” Mendell remarks. “It was difficult for all of us with being in school, but when we found time, we really set our attention towards that.” Some of their first tours helped them to continue prospering as songwriters as well as performers. “I would say that we are definitely a lot better as a live band now, but there is always going to be this raw feeling surrounding it all.” There was a point when the group did consider expanding their line-up. Mendell’s vision of the group’s dynamic was never limited to a three-piece. “At one point, we considered adding a keyboardist, but they were never able to make time from their other band,” he explains. “The only time we had someone stick around for a second was when we added a second guitarist. Our friend Tyler Walker from Family Cat played with us for a bit. I think the hardest part of
adding someone to the band was the idea that we had been a band for a while and it made it slightly difficult to throw someone into the mix so late in the band’s lifespan.”. At this point, it seems that the dynamic of Sundials works best with the three original members. The instrumentation finds moments of relaxation or budding intensity while never obscuring the vocal interplay between Athey and Mendell. If anything, Sundials might sound too cluttered if there was another component in the mix. Surprisingly enough, by the time The First Six Songs was released, Sundials had already written the majority of Never Settle. “We are always continuously writing,” Mendell reflects. “At first, the majority of the songs were mine.” This might explain why Never Settle feels as much a part of the first era of Sundials as their debut EP. However, as Mendell goes on to explain, “That soon changed, as Carl and Cory both began
to contribute, and that only helped us to continue producing new, unique material.” “I mean, outside of Sundials, I’m also writing for my band Close Talker, and even bands that haven’t even been put together yet,” Chubb explains. While Never Settle’s songs are of a piece with their earliest material, it shows off a wider range of the band’s impressive talent. “Take You In My Coffee,” “Blame,” and “Either Way” are stunning examples of the band’s capability at writing punk gems. Meanwhile, “San Francisco Courthouse Steps” and “47 Million” are more closely reflective of the early days of Horn & Tusk, with political ideology and bleak realities incorporated throughout the lyrics. After recording Never Settle with Dan Norsworthy of Virginia band Tatlin’s Tower, it was time for the band to hit the road once more. The general response to Never Settle was increasingly positive and led to opportunities for the group to head overseas.
From their perspective, there were things regarding the release of Never Settle that they wish they could change. “I think it’s safe to say that no one in the band was completely satisfied with how that release turned out,” Mendell mentions. “The record was never actually mixed down, so that’s why it sounds all over the place,” Athey adds. In the time it took to finally be released, Sundials had become a different band. Never Settle helped to showcase a band that was capable and eager to write clever punk anthems. It also set a distinct contrast between the way Sundials were presented on recording and in live performance. “One of the first things people tend to mention to us when they hear our recordings after seeing us live is that we sound heavier live,” Mendell says. “With that in mind, I think that’s where the trajectory of the band was headed following Never Settle.” The benefit of spending countless nights out
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on the road is the ever-expanding network of bands you make contact with. This proved advantageous to Sundials when they were considering what label they wanted to work with for their second full-length. One label that came to mind was Asian Man Records. Sundials sent in a demo and hoped for the best, but Mendell thinks more factors were at work. “I’d like to believe that we got signed to Asian Man for the merits of our songwriting--and I think that helped,” he says. “In reality, we had toured with a good chunk of the bands on the label. When we were writing to [label owner] Mike Park about wanting his label to potentially put out our next full-length, we also reached out to our friends that were already on the label to put in a good word for us. I think that, along with a combination of other factors, helped to make this happen.” Park’s response to their demo was promising. He dug what he had heard and was definitely interested. After a bit of time passed without further
had Never Settle. “I think we can all agree that we rushed through our first record,” Mendell comments. “With this new album, we all decided to write songs [with] the idea of writing a record, not just a collection of songs we were throwing together to release,” Chubb adds. Not much had changed in the sense of financial predicaments that can ensue when you finance your own records. “I think we still had the same lack of funds, but working with Asian Man made this seem like something worth delving into,” Mendell explains. “Putting more money into it and just taking advantage of what we had going on.” The travel also assisted the band, as they got away from their hometown in order to focus on what many consider their best release to date.
contact, though, the band did start to freak out a little bit. However, a story eventually got back to the band that the members found fascinating. “Park was touring with The Classics of Love and they played at the Black Cat,” Mendell relates. “[Park] need[ed] a ride to the airport. Our friend Nathan Brown, who plays as Oklahoma Car Crash, was able to offer them one. So his mom is giving all of them a ride and they start talking about bands. Our name came up, and Park immediately was like ‘Oh, you know Sundials? What’s the deal with those guys?’ Our friend, being a really sweet guy, said several kind things about us. After this incident, Park reached out to us and we figured out how we could work together to put out When I Couldn’t Breathe.”
that permeates the mood of this new album. There is a sense of longing for better times, either in the past or the future. Mendell wrote “New York Crunch” about listening to the stories of a co-worker who dreams of something more than working at a market. “710” is about Mendell and Athey’s former home burning down, and attempting to recover after seeing everything you own destroyed right in front of you. “Completely Broken” examines a life-altering moment and asks whether colliding with destiny will change our lives in the way we expect. There is a sense of maturity that comes through on When I Couldn’t Breathe that many bands can only dream of achieving. It is also the band’s most successful release thus far--according to Mendell, When I Couldn’t Breathe is about to sell out of their first run of vinyl, after which it will be repressed.
For their second album, Sundials headed to Pennsylvania to record with Mike Bardzik at Noisy Little Critter Studios. The band had more time to focus on this release than they’d
When I Couldn’t Breathe is a reflective record about growing older. The angst of early Sundials is still present, but there is a feeling of hesitation and consideration
Indeed, Sundials have reached a level of success that, when they first got together,
they used to joke about. “When we started Sundials, we always thought it would be great to work with Asian Man Records,” Mendell explains. “Our name comes from an Alkaline Trio reference, and [now] we [are] signed to the same label that put out their early releases. We’re eyeing working with Matt Allison, who produced their first couple albums.” However, when offered a chance to appear on an Asian Man compilation in which bands cover songs by other bands on the label, Sundials passed up the opportunity to cover Alkaline Trio. “That might have been a little too much,” Mendell jokes. In keeping with Sundials’s relentless work ethic, 2013 shows no end in sight. Outside of their touring regimen, the band will finally see the release of a long-awaited split release with Tatlin’s Tower, as well as another EP that could see the light of day by the end of the year. “I don’t see any
reason not to have a release out every year,” Mendell says. “Especially as a three-piece, it makes it easier to efficiently write songs and get them out there.” As the interview comes to a close, Mendell jokes with Chubb about an upcoming Sundials song that they have been hashing out. “If you can come up with a chorus to that, just go for it. I still haven’t been able to figure it out.” This moment perfectly reflects the trust that all of the members of the band have in one another. Their friendships and relationships with the music scene have only helped them prosper as musicians. A band like Sundials doesn’t come around all that often, but when they do, everybody seems to take notice. It will still be quite a while before we can fully grasp the legacy that this group is creating for themselves, but we get to watch them establish that legacy in real time, and we are all the better for it. sundialsva.tumblr.com
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by shannon clearY / PHOTO BY josiah bittenbender
Established venues have a tendency to overshadow the essence of Richmond music, but the moments in time in which scenes coalesce around a small, short-lived venue can be quite invigorating. The most recent example would be the number of bands that emerged throughout the brief existence of Cellar Door. The true heart of Richmond’s musical tradition exists in the city’s narrow hallways and makeshift venues. Some claim that most attendees at shows like these are more concerned about the social aspect than the music, but it’s undeniable that there are bands involved who generate quite a bit of excitement, taking everyone for an unanticipated ride. Heavy Midgets are a prime example of this phenomenon; they’ve done much over the past year to impress this city with their unique blend of psychedelic pop euphoria.
other really well,” McCarthy reminisces. “We both just got to the point where we didn’t see playing solo shows as being that rewarding. People tend to respond more to full bands as opposed to people singing songs on their acoustics, talking about their feelings,” Graham says. This inclination towards an expansion in sound was the first inkling of where the Heavy Midgets sound was headed.
The duo quickly set out to find musicians that could complement the tunes that Graham and McCarthy came up with. They went through several members in various roles, but it was the enthusiastic interest from guitarist Ian McQuary that left the biggest impression with Graham. “I remember Ian approaching me about joining Heavy Midgets and I immediately said yes,” Graham excitedly recalls. “I knew The band started when John Graham and he was a great guitarist, and when we needed Charlanne McCarthy saw Ty Segall together someone to come in to play lead in our band, I in 2011 and were left mesmerized. “After that really couldn’t imagine anyone else.” McQuary performance, I decided that I wanted to start joining the band while they were in the midst of a band and make my songs sound like that. recording their cassette-only debut EP helped I knew John would be a good counterpart to shape their sound. He immediately fit with that because I think our songs play off of each what they were doing, which allowed him to 30
catch up fairly quickly. “When I joined the band, they were already recording with Ben Miller of Tungs,” he explains. “My takes were mainly overdubs, and the rest of it was recorded live. I think some people tend to prefer that first EP over our split with Tungs, [which] might have a
lot to do with how I had to write my parts after the fact, and the effect that had on the songs.” The self-titled EP slowly flourished, helping the band gain a remarkable momentum. Playing as often as they could, they received widespread notice as one of the new bands to watch in Richmond. When the band first began to play shows, a controversy arose surrounding their name. The name was seen as offensive due to the word “midget”’s use as a slur for those suffering from dwarfism, and the band were at first confused by this. “If you look at it literally, I guess you could jump to that interpretation,” McCarthy says--but she sees the band’s name in a different context. “To me, I think about [the way] we divide things based on size.” A midget, literally defined as any object significantly smaller than normal size, is generally seen as the opposite of something that’s heavy--but this isn’t necessarily true. “The tiniest stars can contain this magnitude that is unheard of,” she explains. “Perhaps that’s what a heavy midget is--but in all honesty, explaining it would cheapen it. I’d rather people just think of us RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
when they hear the name.” “When we started this band, we really wanted to take this as seriously as possible,” Graham says. “So to get that reaction was disheartening. We thought about changing the name, but we figured it would be too rash to change this as a result
them move forward. “When we are playing live, there are times when Jenn will be more on point than we are,” McCarthy says. “I’ll forget which part I’m supposed to be doing, and she will be right there to pick up the pieces.” Since the start of Heavy Midgets, the band
it off, but we definitely set our sights on making our side of Sisters sound pretty gnarly.” The songs featured on Sisters aren’t too far removed from the approach Heavy Midgets took on their self-titled debut. “Safe On Your Mountaintop” showcases the melodious voice of McCarthy and the slow buildups that the band often explore in their material. “Oh Susanna” and “We Are On The Run” are more straightforward, but both are great examples of Graham’s penchant for clever lyrics and strong hooks. If Sisters accomplished one thing for Heavy Midgets, it was solidifying their reputation amongst other bands that emerged in the scene around the same time. “We are all about our friends in Navi, Wolf//Goat, Tungs, The Eurotics and so on,” McQuary comments. “It’s amazing how we can all contribute to this scene, yet sound like we are all being inspired from very different places.” This mutual admiration is demonstrated by the decision to close out the Tungs/Heavy Midgets split with each band covering a song by the other. Heavy Midgets opted to cover Tungs’s “Footsie,” and their reason for choosing it could lead to further ventures down this path. “There was such a soulful feeling behind the words and vocals in that song, it just made sense to take that on,” McCarthy reflects. “I think another thing that’s great about our band is we get to witness these songs that our friends are writing, and we’re immediately moved by them together,” McQuary says. “Recently, The Nervous Ticks debuted a bunch of new material at The Nile, and there was this one song that I was just blown away by.” Graham immediately mimics the song, to McQuary’s enthusiastic recognition. “That would be awesome if we covered that song,” Graham says. “That might be a crazy idea as long as none of our friends minded, but we would love it if they interpreted our songs in their own unique way as well. Just spread the love around.”
Outside of a hypothetical covers release, Heavy Midgets have many plans slated for the coming year and beyond. “We have tried slimming down on how many shows we have been playing, so we can hopefully play more shows that can positively impact the band,” Graham says. They are also hard at work on a proper full-length, which will be the first to feature Hall on drums, and will hopefully articulate the nature of the band in its current incarnation. There are hopes of playing a few festivals in the coming months, and one larger than life idea that they are set on bringing to fruition. “We had this really crazy idea about doing a cross-country tour by using bikes as our sole means of transport,” Graham says. “It would take a lot of communication and understanding with bands in other cities for us has been involved with BadGrrrl Records. The to use their gear, but I think we could pull it off if relationship has been prosperous for all parties we work towards that. I mean, have you heard of involved. Label head Ben Miller helps record anyone else trying to pull that off?” bands and release their records. As if by fate, there came a moment where both Tungs and Bands like Heavy Midgets are a very positive Heavy Midgets had a set of songs recorded and indicator of the future of Richmond music. This ready for release. Previously a cassette label, group of ambitious thinkers defy the stereotype BadGrrrl had yet to put out a vinyl release, and of a young generation that is lazy and lacking a split LP between Tungs and Heavy Midgets, drive. Heavy Midgets are one of the most entitled Sisters, seemed like the best way promising treats that the RVA scene has to offer. to enter into this format. “The funny thing about doing a release with Tungs is that we heavymidgets.bandcamp.com both thought of it as a hilarious competition,” Graham says. “They are definitely close friends, if not kindred spirits in our musical world, but part of us wanted to try and be louder than Tungs on this release. I don’t know if we pulled
“We both just got to the point where we didn’t see playing solo shows as being that rewarding. People tend to respond more to full bands as opposed to people singing songs on their acoustics, talking about their feelings.” of the opinions of a few.” For the foreseeable future, their name will remain Heavy Midgets. Another difficult factor in the band’s evolution was finding a stable drummer to join the fold. After going through a few different drummers, Jenn Hall joined and demonstrated a particular sense behind the kit. Her talents stood out, helping to solidify the band’s sound. “They put out a listing on Craigslist and I responded immediately,” Hall relates. “I remember sitting there and hoping that they would message me back because I really wanted to be a part of this band.” “You were the only one that replied,” McCarthy jokes. Hall’s prowess on drums is remarkable and the band displays an appreciation for how much she has helped CHECK RVAMAG.COM DAILY
ELLIOTT YAMIN by CHAD BROWN
There’s a saying in the music business that you’re only as good as your last radio hit. Elliott Yamin knows this all too well. In 2006, he was on top of the world. After placing third on the sixth season of American Idol, Yamin -- a Richmonder who had likely never spent more than $30 on a pair of jeans -- was catapulted into an unfamiliar world of fame, fashion and fortune. His entire life literally changed overnight, as he attempted to handle the unexpected transition from run of the mill Southern gent to bona fide household name. He made appearances on every talk show television had to offer, including The Late Show with Jay Leno and Live with Regis and Kelly. He performed the national anthem at Game 2 of the 2006 NBA Finals. He sold out the Richmond Coliseum and served as the closing act of the Virginia State Fair. Hell, he even shook hands with President Bush inside the Oval Office. “I always equate that period in my life to Good Will Hunting,” Yamin said when we spoke via phone just after Christmas. “That scene where Ben Affleck goes to pick up Matt Damon for work, beeps the horn and says, ‘Every day when I come to pick you up and blow that horn, I hope and pray that you won’t come out, because you’re out making it in the world. You’re off actually using your talents.’” It’s likely that Yamin connects this part of his life to that famous scene because while he assumed the role of Damon, those around him collectively played the part of Ben Affleck. For years, friends and family gave him grief for failing to take advantage of a voice that was meant to do bigger things than communicate at dead-end jobs and remain hidden from the general public. Corralling together, they constantly heckled him for wasted potential -- a sentiment likely fueled by a closet case of shyness -- until finally, fed up with being in-between jobs and recognizing that he had very few positive things going on, Yamin, much to the playful displeasure of D.A.R.E officers everywhere, finally buckled under the peer pressure. “They got the best of me, and I made up my mind that I was going to try out for the show. I had nothing to lose,” he added, fondly. Armed with an empty bank account and a positive attitude, Yamin and his girlfriend rounded up every penny they had and ventured to Boston for the first round of Idol auditions. They had no idea what to expect aside from what they had been told: plan for long lines, and be ready for anything. Following both pieces of advice, Yamin advanced to the next round, which was set to take place a few months later. What he didn’t know when he was handed a golden ticket to Hollywood week, however, was that he would almost never make it there. “My Mother was sick at the time and I almost didn’t go. It was tough,” he said. “I had that weighing on my mind and it was hard to focus on Hollywood and beyond. It certainly rattled me -- I couldn’t think about anything but my Mom. I was ready to just stay home and take care of her because she was really ill, but she begged me to do it.” Even in poor health, Mothers always know best. Following her advice, Yamin ventured west to mingle with the strange and unfamiliar world of Hollywood. “Being on Idol was like being in a really gifted band camp. I wasn’t used to hanging out with so many talented people who shared the same goals and 32
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dreams that I did,” he said. “When you’re on the show, you go from this anonymous lifestyle to everybody knowing who you are. Strangers are out there supporting you, appreciating what you’re doing and that was really encouraging.” Through his long and windy adventure, the well of support never seemed to run dry. From the very beginning, Yamin turned the heads of peers and television viewers alike with his boy next door persona and Josh Groban-esque vocal talents; a combination that even Idol judge Paula Abdul couldn’t resist, poking fun at his ‘two left feet’ before advancing him to the next round during Hollywood Week auditions. “It takes an army of people to really help you get there,” he said. “I had those people in my corner. Obviously, I couldn’t have done it alone.” Using those same two left feet, Yamin plowed through Hollywood week, eventually jumping into the Idol top ten and the hearts of fans across the country, who latched onto him for embodying the very reason fans fell in love with the show to begin with: they shared a love for watching the common man chase his goal in front of the entire world. Without meaning to do so, Yamin had assumed the role of the underdog; an everyday guy taking advantage of a fantastic opportunity on a global stage. “We were completely relatable,” he said. That relatability, combined with phenomenal covers of Queen’s “Somebody to Love” and Sinatra’s “It Had to Be You,” carried him all the way to the finals, where he was finally eliminated in week 10; but not before leaving his mark on the show by way of an unforgettable duet with Mary J Blige. While his Idol run was ending, it was clear that Yamin’s career had only just begun. Immediately after his elimination, Yamin committed to the American Idol tour, which served as an up-close and personal introduction to the season’s top 10 for the dedicated fans across the country who had spent months fighting busy signals in an effort to call in and support their favorite contestants. And while some of his Idol tour counterparts decided to take some time off from their newfound rigorous schedules, Yamin did the exact opposite, following up the three-month tour with a slew of promotional appearances, ranging from talk shows to state fairs to singing the national anthem at charity sporting events. “You’ve gotta take advantage of those five minutes. It’s all about striking while the iron is hot and a lot of people fail to do that once they leave the show,” he said. “Once I got pushed out of the Idol womb, I kept my eye on the prize and just kept saying ‘I want to parlay this into a career. This is the only reason I auditioned for the show, so I could have a career.’” In March of 2007, just ten months after graduating from the Idol stage, Yamin released his much anticipated self-titled record. His name still fresh in the minds of the widespread Idol audience -- a move that can be accredited CHECK RVAMAG.COM DAILY
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to the media marathon he had spent the previous six months enduring -- the record debuted at number three on the Billboard charts, fueled by the success of hit single “Wait For You”, which was a constant guest on top 40 radio stations across the country. The album sold 90,000 copies in its first week and went on to be certified gold by the RIAA less than seven months later. At this point, it became clear that where hundreds of other Idol graduates had failed, Elliot Yamin had passed with flying colors. He officially had a music career. Riding the wave of success and playing with the cards he had been dealt, Yamin released his second album, Fight for Love, two years later in the spring of 2009. Determined to avoid the infamous ‘sophomore slump’ and prove to naysayers that he was more than just a flash in the pan of reality television, he prefaced the release with a gigantic media tour. He used the tour as a platform to inform fans that the album could be categorized as “more contemporary R&B” than his debut, and included several more “radio friendly singles.” On paper, it looked like Yamin was destined to join the ranks of the Idol-elite; artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry, and Carrie Underwood, who had successfully separated themselves from
didn’t warrant qualifying it as a ‘sophomore slump,’ the media attention and overall buzz that’s necessary for artists to stay on top was nowhere to be found. In the blink of an eye, Yamin had found himself a victim of a rapidly changing industry relying on a mainstream society that seems to be more concerned with latching onto new music trends rather than enjoying the ones they already have.
“You have to stay on top of the tools that are readily available to you now; social media doesn’t cost anything,” Yamin adds. “When I was on Idol, Facebook was more of a college app. Nowadays, you look at artists that are tweeting backstage and have hundreds of thousands of followers. I think being open to whatever the cutting edge new technology [is] and taking advantage of [it] helps you gain an audience.”
“These days, I think the artistry gets lost in the sauce sometimes, so to speak,” Yamin explained. “Everybody wants to make money off you and capitalize on your success. It’s a money game, and especially in the pop world, it’s gotten so saturated and watered down with people trying to sound like what’s hot now or sound like everybody else, as opposed to letting the artist dictate how they wanna be perceived.”
Yamin, who boasts nearly 50,000 twitter followers and normally connects with his audience several times a day, seems to be doing just that. “Any impression you can make on an audience in today’s music business is a positive one,” he notes. “Impressions can be made in so many ways: word of mouth, forwarding a link, using Soundcloud, posting on your site, interacting with fans online; it’s more of an inyour-face approach. And for me, I like that and I think it’s more beneficial than it is detrimental.”
And in a world where relevance is king but can’t be pinned down or accurately defined, artists not dominating the airwaves are forced to determine how to mold their career into something that both they and their fans can be proud of. “To stay relevant, you have to have a good grasp of what our audience wants from you and what they expect from you, all the while keeping your integrity about you,” Yamin says. “It’s a tough line to walk because you want to stay true to your music and your audience, but the more time that
“I’ve been focused on evolving as an artist; learning as much as I can about the business, about my artistry and staying true to what it is I’m doing musically,” he continues. “That usually speaks for itself. It’s the mindset I’ve always had post-Idol.” Unfortunately for Yamin, mindsets don’t pay the bills. In an effort to stay successful and continue
“These days, I think the artistry gets lost in the sauce sometimes, so to speak, Everybody wants to make money off you and capitalize on your success. It’s a money game... especially in the pop world...” the machine in which they came from, refusing to bite the hand that fed them in the process. It was this line -- one that has proven to be the most difficult for nearly every Idol graduate over the last decade -- that Yamin was determined to walk with both passion and precision. “Every year, there’s a new batch of Idol finalists and the show goes on,” he said. “Life goes on, with or without you. It’s tougher as the years go on to keep things going the further removed you are from the show, if you aren’t Chris, Kelly, or Carrie.” Despite being backed by a relatively successful single and the heaviest promotional tour of his career, Fight for Love sold just 49,000 copies in its first week. It was a devastating blow that likely rivaled a fictional scene in which Ryan Seacrest accidentally pronounces your last name wrong in front of the entire world. This scenario, however, was all too real and couldn’t be easily corrected. “In hindsight, I think the song ‘No Better’ would have done a lot better on the radio than ‘Fight for Love’ did,” he explained. “Everybody loved that song except for the label, and that seems to happen all too often in our business. But I try not to live in the past, as it’s hard to get ahead when you’re thinking that way.” Despite keeping a positive attitude about a hard to swallow situation, the facts remained clear: while the quality of his second album certainly CHECK RVAMAG.COM DAILY
elapses, there’s new artists coming out and new songs being made. At the end of the day, you just want people to know about you and what you’re doing.” But the rules of relevance have certainly changed. Less than ten years ago, when Facebook was slowly transforming into a social tool that would change the world, Yamin was just beginning to make a name for himself. At that time, the levels of success a music artist experienced always correlated with the number of singles their album produced and how much airplay those singles received. However, in the digital world we now live in, where entire albums can be recorded on an iPhone and artists can connect with fans and share any aspect of their lives with a simple click, the definition of success within music is changing just as rapidly as the industry itself. This newfound business model is exemplified by this year’s Grammy Awards; a night that saw continuous appearances from Frank Ocean and Alabama Shakes -- two artists who received very little assistance from mainstream media outlets on their year-long evolution from club dwellers to undeniable rockstars. But they certainly didn’t do it alone. While the element of “right place, right time” hasn’t gone anywhere, the avenues available for an artist to introduce themselves to a mass audience have grown and expanded significantly in the last decade.
his music career in light of a radio market that doesn’t seem to be interested in what he has to offer recently, he has been forced to find other creative uses for his talents, such as song licensing. Recently, he’s licensed various songs to the likes of Toyota and America’s Funniest Home Videos, which pay him a predetermined fee for the rights. “Things like that are getting me paid and keeping my business afloat,” he said, adding that he recently started providing songwriting services for a certain Nashville supergroup; a large-scale project that will surface in the next few months. At the end of the day, Yamin will be the first to admit that his appearance guarantees are down and he gets recognized in public less than he did just a few years ago. But just because his songs aren’t playing in every Starbucks or Panera across the country doesn’t mean his undeniable passion to make music has gone anywhere. “I wanted to do Idol to establish a career, and that’s exactly what I’ve done and strive to continue to do. The relevance stuff is secondary,” he notes. “I’m still doing what I said I could do, which is having a career in the music business and support myself doing what I love. Anything else that happens above that is just an added bonus.” www.officialelliottyamin.com
Charles Berger is a tattoo artist who plies his trade at Heroes and Ghosts in Carytown. We’ve known Charles for some time, and watched his talent grow immensely over the past few years. His work was featured in the Valentine Richmond History Center’s recent exhibition, History, Ink: The Tattoo Archive Project. This project featured the tattoos of current Richmond VA residents, and documented the importance of tattoo art in the artistic culture of RVA as we know it today. We caught up with Charles to talk about a number of things, from tattooing in Richmond to Victorian Futurism. How long have you been tattooing professionally? About four and a half years, honestly. And any real progression I have seen has been over the past two years. What initially sparked your interest in becoming a tattoo artist? I came to Richmond to go to art school. I’ve always been involved in the visual arts somehow, mostly through painting, drawing, illustrations; I got into the graffiti world quite a bit. That helped me refine my color palettes, dimension, form, 36
stuff of that nature. And as far as tattooing, it just came naturally in the avenue of the arts. I have always been intrigued by it, drawn to it. I had been collecting tattoos for years, and knew I wanted to make them one day. It’s interesting--I have found a lot of tattoo artists come from a background of self-taught art, and often graffiti. Yep, there are a lot of tattoo artists that were graffiti artists. It’s become much more prevalent.
So whose work do you have on you? Throw out some names. Greg Aigner, Mike Moses, Brian Finn, Jesse Smith, Greg French, Scott Sketo, Fred Pinckard, Gunner, ISH, Professor Falcon, Bok, Scott Parsons, Casey Middleton, Andy Brodsky, uh.. quite a bit.
It’s definitely something I hear people say in Richmond. Yeah, it’s not just a tattoo town but a graffiti town as well. I mean, here lately it’s really been more mural-based instead of graffiti-based, but graffiti will never die.
Yeah, you’ve got a lot, it’s awesome. Well, people that give tattoos who don’t have tattoos kinda get... ...looked at funny. Yeah, you don’t have to be tattooed to apply a good tattoo, of course. [But] when you have so many tattoo artists around you, I’m not sure how you can escape it. I can understand saving spots for people, but at some point if you’re really that passionate about tattooing people, I feel like that passion would be reflected in getting tattooed.
I would like to congratulate you at this time on being a very very tattooed tattooer... if that’s how you say it. [laughs] You know, I have always collected them, and I will continue to collect them as much as I can.
So who initially taught you? I was apprenticed by Casey Middleton, and had a great amount of influence and help from Scott Parsons, Greg Aigner, Brian Finn, and the other guys at Enigma back then. They showed me the anatomy of machines and how to apply a good
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CHARLES BERGER by JOHN REINHOLD / PHOTo by TODD RAVIOTTA
tattoo. [In] traditional apprenticeships, you’ll have one teacher and one student. But there is never a case where you learn from just one person. You’re surrounded by other artists and influences, you pick people’s brains all around you, and find things that apply to your style. Do you think there is a common thread among people who get tattoos? A person that varies from traditional aesthetics, in a sense. Whether they come from the same walks of life or not, there is something there that I guess is a parallel for many. [Recently] people of a different way of thinking are getting tattooed. True art collectors are seeing the value of tattooing and what can be done with it now. They will continue to collect and they will go to good artists. That’s why it’s important to stand out in the crowd of tattooing. Well, how do you stand out? [laughs] That’s a good question, man. I feel that one’s style builds over time. It takes dedication, motivation, and practice to develop a recognizable style--something that I work toward every day.
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That gets us into the whole traditional vs... What would you call it? New school? Well, there’s traditional, illustrative, new school, realism, etc. I love them all and I respect them all equally. What were you initially taught? I started off doing pretty basic flash off the walls-tracing flash, tattooing existing drawings from other tattoo artists that know what translates into a tattoo. And that’s really important, to have a strong foundation; to understand about solid lines, bold color, and smooth fades. This all translates into whatever style you wish pursue eventually. Someone that uses influence from whatever style they are intrigued by, and makes it their own completely--that’s what gets recognized, and that’s how people build clientele. What’s your favorite thing about working with clients? What’s your least favorite thing? I like clients who know what they want for the most part, but still let me have some creative freedom. That’s the best way to do it--collaborate. Now, I will say that some people come in with fantastic ideas and I don’t really have to change
much about it. Some people come in with awesome ideas. But yeah, I like to have a little bit of creative freedom. And [I like] the ones that tip. What are the weirdest tattoo requests that you’ve had? I was working in DC on barracks row; I was tattooing a lot of Marines. These guys come in and one of the Marines had lost a bet. It was a staying awake for 48 hours bet, or something like that. So he passes out and goes to sleep so he has to get one of his friend’s drawings tattooed on him. And his friend had drawn 2 monkeys getting it on. I ended up tattooing them right by his ass crack, on his ass cheek. My favorite one as of late, a guy came in and said he wanted his whole right ass cheek tattooed. He wanted the words “let’s get weird” tattooed huge on his ass in all sorts of different lettering styles, all in one. So we did it. We did it on his whole right ass cheek: “Let’s get weird.” His first tattoo. It was pretty amazing. And the half sleeve of Christmas lights is something else…
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“Honestly, it has completely saved my life. I’ve made some bad decisions, to put it lightly, in my life. I’ve gone down some strange avenues and weirder alleys.... It’s really helped me to improve my work ethic, it’s helped me better myself as an artist, better myself as a person in the way that I communicate with people, the general public, on an individual personal basis with people. It’s really helped me improve most of those things. It’s helped save my life. It’s one of the reasons that I get up every day.” That’s kind of creative. Creative stuff is cool. But the “let’s get weird” tattoo, that’s been one of my favorites so far. That moves us into script. What’s your history of lettering work? It’s funny--throughout the years, I’ve talked to numerous artists about lettering. Artists that do nothing but [lettering], and [others] who say it ruins tattoos. The truth of the matter is people are always going to want lettering. Even if you’re a full custom artist, people are going to want lettering incorporated in the tattoo. So it’s important to do it well. I had an advantage, as far as lettering goes, being a graffiti artist. I had been practicing for years. So that translated well into script and other styles of lettering in tattooing. It came a little bit easier to me. Now there’s part of me that wishes I would have spent a lot more time focusing on figure drawing and actual imagery as opposed to lettering, but I enjoy doing it. I think it can actually enhance a tattoo if done correctly. Tell me a little bit about the Valentine Museum and your work in there. It was brought to me by word of mouth. A good friend of mine had heard about the event. It intrigued me. You had to send people down to get photographed and go through a selection process. I guess they liked one or two of my pieces, and they ended up using the steampunk wings that I did as their advertising. It was really an honor; I had no idea that was going to happen. Honestly, it was humbling as far as being featured with really great artists in Richmond. What they were trying to accomplish with this most recent event was [showing] where tattooing is now, in Richmond. It wasn’t focused on the history of tattooing in Richmond, because that is quite a feat. To get all the proper information accumulated, that’s a whole other world. So what they were doing is focusing on where the artists are now, what tattooing is now in Richmond, and what avenue it’s gone down. So it’s really nice to be a part of it. I love this city and it was nice to be featured in that. What do you think of tattooing in Richmond? I love it. It’s obviously a city that’s mentioned in tattooing, in the world. It’s a tattoo town, and I love it. You’ll hear a lot of people say it’s over-saturated. Sure, there are a lot of shops in Richmond, and a lot of people have a lot negative things to say about that, as far as tattoo artists go. “There are too many street shops,” “there are too many tattoo artists in this town,” “it’s really affecting business”... The way I feel about it is this. Sure, having all this oversaturation of tattoo shops and artists may hurt business somewhat, but it’s also bringing the attention of tattooing to the city, which is helping the city. If you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing and
you are 100% in trying to improve your craft every day, you’re going to continue to bring in clientele, regardless of how many tattoo shops or tattoo artists are out there. Do you think what speaks for a tattoo artist is regular clientele, as opposed to walk-ins? It can. There’s a lot involved in having and building clientele. There’s promoting yourself, being sociable, having good bedside manner, customer service, all these things. But the most important thing is doing quality work. That’s it. Your work is going to always speak for itself. It has to. That’s going to create word of mouth, and word of mouth is the most credible way of promotion. Other people promoting you because they’ve collected something from you Where are you now in tattooing? Where are you with your work and what you do? I’m still new to the game, man. Since I’ve known you, I’ve seen you go into your own realm of sorts. I know no one wants to get stuck in a catchphrase, so if I were to say steampunk... Victorian Futurism. Victorian Futurism, [laughs] I guess you can say that, but I know it’s something you have been doing a little bit of. Yeah, I enjoy doing it. I really love the aesthetic. I like the culture; it’s based on being a gentleman or a lady. It’s based on a Victorian attitude and a Victorian way of life. It’s a beautiful thing. There’s some class to it. The aesthetic of it is a little more rough and rugged, but it’s beautiful to me. It has an element of class, mixed with gears and Victorian elements, so you can go Art Nouveau but still keep that traditional style, where you have heavy lines and stuff. Sure, you can pull it off however you want, but as far that whole aesthetic of the Victorian flourishes and everything, it’s gorgeous to me. It’s got a lot of nice flow and a good feel to it. If someone wanted to break into the business and become a tattoo artist, what do you say to that? Apprenticeships. That’s the only way to do it; however long it takes to learn the craft, to where you can make a good tattoo. There are a lot of people that are just, literally, ordering kits online, trying to learn themselves. There’s just no way that you’re going to succeed at the rate you need to by doing that. Nor will you have appreciation or respect for the craft and the industry by doing it that way.
How has tattooing changed you or affected you overall? Honestly, it has completely saved my life. I’ve made some bad decisions, to put it lightly, in my life. I’ve gone down some strange avenues and weirder alleys. Tattooing has brought me back-the combination of tattooing and my family. It’s a beautiful thing, because without tattooing, I wouldn’t be able to support my family, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else to make a living, just on a daily basis. It’s really helped me to improve my work ethic, it’s helped me better myself as an artist, better myself as a person in the way that I communicate with people, the general public, on an individual personal basis with people. It’s really helped me improve most of those things. It’s helped save my life. It’s one of the reasons that I get up every day. [The] second [is] my beautiful wife Nikki, our daughter Madison, and our soon to be [born] Aurora. Every day is a gift. If you were to pick any person in history, tattoo artist or not, to put a tattoo on you, who would that person be? It would probably be a collaboration between DaVinci, Mucha, and whoever tattooed Otzi the caveman. Because that shit will last forever. I know, for a while, you went to California. What were you doing there? I tried to leave Richmond--as many do, but always find themselves back here. I did DC for a couple of years, then I went to LA. To be honest, when I went to LA was when I started to see a change and improvement in my craft. I had the honor and pleasure of working with some very fantastic artists out there in a full custom shop, Kayden Creations. There are a bunch of great guys out there that really helped me along in improving my style. I did the LA thing and it wasn’t me. It wasn’t as gritty and grimy as the East Coast. It was fun, but my family and home is here. So I came back and figured I’d give Richmond another shot. I was lucky to find Heroes and Ghosts, and it’s really helped me tenfold in tattooing. It has been by far the best shop I’ve ever worked in, with the greatest group of guys, and I owe a lot to them for my career. I wouldn’t be sitting here with you right now if it wasn’t for my Heroes and Ghosts family-Greg French, Susie and Grady Nash, all of them. I couldn’t ask for a better place to work. It is hands down my favorite place I’ve ever been, as far as tattooing. Just being surrounded by a great group of artists at the shop and just being able to talk to them as friends; that in itself has really helped me to improve. I would say that between my Heroes and Ghosts family, my immediate family, and my close friends, they have played a huge role in where I am now.
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STUDIO TWO THREE by KRISTINA HEADRICK
What do you do when you’re out of art school and no longer have VCU’s state of the art equipment at your hands? Ashley Hawkins, the director of Studio Two Three, is a prime example of someone who graduated from art school and took action to solve this very conundrum. Studio Two Three, a non-profit printmaking studio located at 1617 W. Main St in the Fan, is truly an artistic collective for the city of Richmond. In addition to functioning as a workspace for artists and as a gallery, I was surprised to learn about the number of charitable programs Two Three offers, along with the opportunity for people to print at an affordable rate. Studio Two Three is truly a one of a kind organization. Ashley is incredibly impressive, as she runs the Studio, works a part time job, and currently attends graduate school at VCU, where she’s working towards her masters in non-profit management. Her ability to keep track of Studio Two Three’s myriad of special programs, gallery events, and roster of working artists can only be the product of an authentic belief in printmaking and Richmond’s artistic community. This organization runs on soul, and is catalyzed by Ashley’s artistic approach to problem solving-something she is firmly convinced that art school fosters. Formed by Ashley and fellow VCU art grads who recognized a niche that needed to be filled, Studio Two Three works to provide a democratic environment for anyone who wants to make or patronize art in Richmond. How long has Studio Two Three been open and running? At this location since September 2010, but we formed in 08 as an organization at Plant Zero in Manchester. We got this building thanks to Joe Cypel, dean of VCU School Of Arts.
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And you’re the founder? Yes, executive director, only staff person. There were four founders in 08. We started as printmakers getting out of VCU lacking all of the equipment and resources. The driving force was to start a communal studio, and there was a lot of interest. We saw that other organizations weren’t offering printmaking classes and expos, so we applied for non profit status. So tell me more about the programs you offer. I know you offer a lot of awesome workshops. Essentially, the lifeblood of what we do is our artist’s residence program. So artists come in, they have 24 hour access to the space and all of the equipment. That starts, for a 6 month contract, at $90 a month. That works well for artists who have other jobs and commitments and are doing 15,000 other things at once, and it’s a flexible schedule for them. They can come and print according to what works for them. It does seem that a lot of people in Richmond are in that situation--freelancing on a bunch of different projects, and maybe balancing other jobs in the mix. Very few creative people are doing one thing and making a living off of it. It’s hard--definitely a challenge. I looked and saw that VCU graduates about 3,000 artists per semester and about ⅓ of them stay here, but very few artists cite that as their occupation, so there are very few people who are working full time as artists. I often wonder how many people are out there trying to make a living off of art, despite the fact that money is almost always an issue. Given that artists and arts organizations often struggle monetarily, why did you decide to make Studio Two Three a non-profit? For a few reasons. First off, we do consider our artist residency program a charity program because we offer it at a really low rate, lower than it would cost anywhere else. We’re really
the only place that has 24 hour access and is printmaker specific. Coming out of school, you have this great community of support, you’re talking about artwork, you’re immersed in that--then you’re out on your own and out of that world. So we wanted to recreate that environment for people that are working and still making art. Secondarily, for non profit status, we offer charitable education programs and partner with other nonprofits in the city. We work with Art 180, the Visual Arts Center. Church Hill Academy is one of our major partners. So we try to offer really low cost or free educational workshops for them. The same thing goes with our classes. Your classes are REALLY affordable! Yeah, they’re super cheap. We really all came to it with the perspective of artists. Knowing that your financial resources are limited, using your other resources creatively becomes really important. That’s why we like to keep the classes cheap, so people can afford to come in here and learn about these techniques that we love. It’s easy for arts organization to set the financial bar too high, so you’re just getting people dabbling and doing things recreationally versus getting people who are actually trying to be real working artists. Thirdly, with non profit status we do a lot of grant funding. Do you write the grants? I do. I’m actually at VCU getting a masters in public administration and nonprofit management. There’s another great resource called the Nonprofit Learning Point that does classes on specific things. We have a ten-person board right now, and a lot of them have arts backgrounds. Coming from an arts background, you really learn to be creative in all pursuits, 41
something that people in the business world don’t always think about. It’s really resource management and creativity. Also with grant writing, there’s a lot of reporting and tracking. Has everyone on the board been with you from the beginning? Everyone is a volunteer. So there’s me for the staff, handling the administrative stuff, paying the bills, keeping the lights on. One person on the board has been with us from the beginning. A lot of people we’ve added over time, but many have still been with us for years. So you’re getting a masters, working here... do you have another job too? I bartend at Starlite, also. What’s nice about here is that it’s is such a great community of people. Coming in to do work doesn’t feel like “work.” That’s awesome. Talking with friends who went to art school, I can only imagine how tough it is to go from having access to all of these mentors and materials, then you’re thrown to the wolves. You get all this training and then what do you do with it? And a lot of it relates to access, too. You’re on somebody’s else’s schedule. Here, [we have] the 24 hour access, and access to such expensive equipment. Artists get a key. We’re always looking for more people, too. We have an attitude of the more the merrier. We want to keep building a community and reaching more people! I wanted to ask you more about the building and equipment. Was it all acquired by donation? We pay rent [and] have a lease. A lot of the equipment we’ve purchased--stuff like lockers and ladders came from warehouses that were shutting down. We’d go help clean them out. Basically anything we can get at low cost. So it all has to be really thought out. Definitely. The expense for the big press is 15 to 20 thousand dollars. It’s crazy, it’s like buying a car. Taking that into consideration, would you say that compared to other mediums, screenprinting is a more expensive route to go as an artist? No, not necessarily. Screenprinting is kind of the cheapest of the processes that we do in here. Tell me what processes you do here. We have screen printing; the vacuum exposure unit for that, which lets people expose their image to the screen. We have the wash-out booth. We have etching--we use copper plates for that. Plate litho. The appeal of printmaking to a lot of people is that it’s democratic and accessible. You’re not making one precious masterwork of art; you can make 500 and the value doesn’t decrease because it’s in multiple
RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
editions. Everything we have is very hands on. We have a photo litho process too. Plates are very light sensitive--you can just take a photo and expose it to your plate. We do relief printing too, woodcuts and linocuts. [We] have a tiny letterpress proofing press and some graphic type too. Awesome. I like that this is really a collective, a truly democratic space. One thing that appeals to people about printmaking [is] saying its democratic. It is traditional, and there are digital innovations and new technological innovations that really keep it in contemporary discourse as an art practice. It’s become, I think, more relevant with digital techniques coming onto the scene. So many things we interact with on a daily basis are printed. Our shirts, our thank you bags we get to-go food in... there’s this really subversive ability to bring printed artwork into the public realm in a way that makes people interact with it and exposes people to the possibility of the technique, AND is also actually in the world and not just confined to the gallery or the artists’ realm. Obviously we love the artists’ realm... But that intimidates a lot of people, too. It does. A lot of people are put off by it. That’s the thing--printmaking is a craft and an art. So there’s something empowering for people to learn the technical craft side of it, before even having to conceptualize an art piece. It gives them an arsenal of tools and techniques to use to then conceptually drive their work. So you feel empowered as opposed to sitting down in front of a canvas without maybe ever having been taught to paint. That’s scary. I was a terrible painter and terrified myself every time I tried to start something. Prints obviously can go that way too, but it’s comforting and empowering to have the knowledge to make it and to have a process. The process can become part of the content of the work. It is really nice to bring people in and show them that they can be artists too. You all have partnered with some other nonprofits around town; tell me more about that. One of our major ones is with the Church Hill Academy. They’re an alternative high school for at risk youth located at Pater Paul Development Center. Right now it’s a really small program and what they do is come here every Friday. This year we have five students, and they’re working on relief-printed portraits. They come in and we show them how to print, they get to see an arts organization. We offer that program at no cost to them We’ve worked with Visual Arts Center on some collaborative printing projects. Art 180 and Peter Paul Development Center have classes in our darkroom. Also through Visarts, we work on A Space of Her Own, which is a program for girls from Gilpin Court. They’re paired with an CHECK RVAMAG.COM DAILY
adult mentor over the course of a school year. Every week, they sit down and have a meal and then learn some sort of creative process, so they come here to screen print. We’re beginning a program this year with Binford Middle School, a young printmakers’ program. So we’re taking a lot of the stuff we already do and combining it with an exhibition and awards ceremony for students’ work. We’ll have a young printmaker’s store for them to sell their printed art, and that money will go back to fund the program. Then we’re doing a lecture talk series where working artists come in and actually get the [students] engaged in talking about what they were thinking about while making work, building them up to knowing how to talk about art in a way that’s not intimidating to them. Those are our main partnerships, but we’re starting to work with Maggie Walker Governor’s School, and possibly the VCU Arts Communications program. And these are all things that are opened up to you because you’re a non-profit? All of the programs, except from sustained uni education partnerships, are offered at no cost. We try to fund all of those through individual donations and grant funding. So your silent auction fundraiser this fall helped raise money for what? Some programs and also facility improvements. It helped a lot having the money in the bank to do that. It’s a big deal. We’re actually doing another fundraiser April 19th. It’s called the Cabinet of Curiosities, and it’s a Burlesque Show and Tattoo Art Raffle. It’ll be at the Studio. It’s a Friday night from 8-11. It’s going to be $10 in advance, $15 at the door. I think the Institute of Burlesque girls have signed on and are going to do a show for us. We’re working with tattoo artists in town to get work donated for a raffle. So that’s going to be really fun. It’s cool that you’re open to doing things not specifically related to printmaking. I’m sure that opens up a lot of doors. We keep a printed aspect to pretty much everything we do, but we also like to branch out. We have the photography workshops, one this month and probably another in two months. I wanted to ask you a bit more about the gallery. I assume you didn’t have one at the previous location? We didn’t. I used to run the project space gallery at Plant Zero but it wasn’t ours specifically. Moving to this space, we went from a 500 square foot to a 3400 square foot space. It gave us so much room at first we were wondering how we’d even fill the space. As you can see,
we’ve ended up having no problem doing that. The gallery is print specific. We show work of artists who are partially or primarily working in print. We don’t take any commission from the sale of the artwork. Wow, that is awesome. I assumed, despite the fact that you’re a non-profit, that you’d have to take something from the gallery’s sales. We do ask that the artist donate a print to us, which we can then use for fundraisers like this fall’s print auction. It works out being a really good symbiotic relationship. You spend so much money, time and effort making work, so we want them to make as much as possible off the sale of their work. People expressed interest in collecting and curating their own art collections-that was something that was an unfulfilled interest in town. I think our gallery contributes to that [by] selling prints which are inherently cheaper--depending on size or medium, they go for $100 or less. Another thing is that we focus on showing emerging artists’ work, people who are just getting started and trying to build their careers. A lot of VCU grads? Yes, and a lot of people who moved to town because they heard Richmond has a good art scene and wanted to get into that. In keeping the work affordable, it benefits the artists because they can sell more, and it benefits the community because they can actually afford to be art patrons. The bar is lower. There’s something youthful about print in general, no matter who’s making it and their age. The ability to interact with and to own prints. There are obviously prints out there that go for more than paintings, but I think here it opens it up. It’s great for artists to be able to sell work and have shows, get back the investment in time and energy they put in. I think such a huge part of this space and what we’re trying to do is the idea of community art practice, and that’s something that’s really growing across the country. It’s such a great way for people to interact with the broader community, and share and use the skills that they have to make Richmond a better city. That’s sort of a big lofty goal. We all came to it as artists who were really gung-ho about being Richmond. ----Be sure to check out Studio Two Three’s monthly gallery exhibitions and second Saturday workshops. For more information on using the studio and its printing presses or community darkroom, contact email@example.com.
Bryce Wagoner by CHAD BROWN
While local director Bryce Wagoner was putting
most famous names and telling the story of
the final touches on his debut documentary,
supportive path that grandmothers are supposed
what happened after the camera stopped
After Porn Ends, he obtained the opinion of two
to take when their grandsons inform them that
rolling, the movie offers an inside look at
people any filmmaker exploring the world of
they’re working on a large-scale project, his
an industry that is just as misguided as it is
adult entertainment would want by their side:
grandfather decided to take a road less traveled:
misunderstood. But make no mistake -- this is
the realistic one. “I told him there was going to
not a film that should be judged according to
be some nudity but nothing gratuitous and he
its cover, which features a scantily clad Mary
“I showed my MeeMaw about ten minutes of
said, ‘Son, you can’t make a lumberjack movie
Carey looking adequately prepared to tackle
the film and told her I had a chance to make
without depicting some trees.’”
the type of wood that doesn’t exactly live in the forest.
this movie but that it involved pornography,” Wagoner admitted when we spoke via phone
Mr. MeeMaw had a point. If After Porn Ends were
last month. “After watching the clips she said,
a film about the tree cutting community, a few
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Born
‘Honey, I’m just glad you were the first one to
trees would certainly be depicted in the process.
in Lynchburg, Wagoner spent most of his
come up with the idea.’”
Honing in on a dozen of the porn industry’s
childhood growing up in Richmond, attending
RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
St. Mary’s and St. Bridgette’s Catholic Schools.
Sexual Horror which provides a sneak peek
preferences aside to make an insightful film
This led to a desire to be like his childhood hero,
into the frightening world of bondage that you
that appealed to an audience known for
Robert E. Lee, and attend Fork Union Military
never asked for or really wanted to begin with.
watching more hours of others getting it on
Academy with hopes of one day graduating
each weekend than Wagoner viewed all through
from West Point. But unlike his idol, Wagoner’s
Instead, Wagoner took a different route than
college. “This film isn’t about my politics,” he
same-sex school habits finally got the best of
his directorial counterparts. Determined to let
added. “It’s about my profession.”
him. “After three years, I finally decided that I
the actors, rather than the intercourse they
wanted to see girls in school” he said, laughing.
were having, tell the story, he made it a point
It wasn’t long after personally diving into the
“So I transferred to East Carolina University.”
to include less than five minutes of actual sex
subculture that he was so accurately trying to
It was here, after a round of soul searching
footage in the documentary--a statistic that
pinpoint in his film that Wagoner discovered
and a disastrous hurricane named Katrina, that
makes the enthralling story told within After
why the porn stars he interviewed had such
Wagoner finally found the career path he had
Porn Ends that much more compelling.
a hard time leaving their former lives behind.
been searching for all along.
“Watching it eventually became an addiction,” “That was my intent all along -- we originally
he said, speaking of the hands-on research he
“I always enjoyed dabbling in writing stories;
wanted to show the really bad acting scenes,
completed in order to get himself acquainted
both my half-brother and half-sister were
but they were just too bad,” he said, laughing
with a world he had ignored for the majority
studying theatre at NC State and UNC
at the numerous Razzie-esque performances
of his life. “At one point I had a production
Greensboro, respectively, and I finally realized
he undoubtedly encountered while scouring
assistant dropping off shopping bags full of
I was probably just denying my DNA,” he said.
through thousands of hours of porno clips
DVD’s at my house.”
“So I re-enrolled as an English Literature and
to gather clips for the film’s b-roll. “It was a
Theatre major and started pursuing an acting
real tug of war, which worked out well. My
“At the time, it was just to help get the job
and filmmaking career.”
producers wanted more nudity and I said no-
done, but over the course of making this film,
-we went back and forth on that. I understand
I became a walking Wikipedia for porn,” he
It was this career change -- one that Wagoner
why they wanted more, but it ended up being a
added, laughing. “It’s part of the resume; I was
describes as “hurry up and wait” -- that led him
fantastic happy medium.”
just there to do a job and that’s all it was.”
performing motion capture animations for the
That game of tug of war--one that Wagoner
But while Wagoner may label it as “just a job,”
popular wrestling-themed video game series,
refused to take lying down--is certainly paying
the underlying themes included within his film
Smackdown vs. Raw. “I was fascinated with
off. After Porn Ends stands strong as the number
are anything but. At several points within the
how it worked,” he added. “But again, more
one independent film on iTunes; the number
film, the topic of permanence arose--a subject
sitting around.” In search of a way to kill these
one overall streaming film on Netflix in 2012,
that is just as relevant to Wagoner’s directorial
large blocks of time that involved nothing but
with over 250,000 views; and mainstream
decisions as it is to the subjects who decided
thumb twiddling and shallow conversation, the
attention from the likes of 60 Minutes, CBS’
to open up to him. No matter how fast you run
video game cast and crew decided to pass the
The Insider, and the Huffington Post.
or where you hide, participating in porn will
down a path that included odd jobs such as
time the only way any self-respecting male
be a life chapter that never truly closes. In
would: they sat around and watched really
“I wanted to show some of the nudity but I didn’t
the same vein as his subjects, the undeniable
weird pornography. More specifically, really
want it to become the topic of conversation or
attention that comes along with a film like
weird porn involving vegetables.
the focal point of the film,” he added. I wanted
Wagoner’s also arrives with the notion that as
people to see the film and get my point across
long as he lives, his career will be tied to a film
without having to include a ton of T&A.”
AJ says, ‘Oh my God, how in the world do you
If it seems like Wagoner is a bit out of his
“I’m proud that this will always be with me,”
do anything in your life after that!’
element trying to tell the story of professional
he said with a smile. “It changed my life.” Still
“Some of the guys were sitting across the stage cracking up,” Wagoner recalls. “And my friend
tits and ass, it’s because he is. It took him less
beaming, he continued, “To get something
“I started wondering what people in porn
time than your average round of bad sex to
made is hard enough, but to get it made well?
do when they’re not in porn anymore,” he
let me in on a little secret. “My relationship
That’s nearly impossible. And to say that this
continued. “That question was a seed with
with porn before this movie was non-existent.
film was made by a Richmond kid from the
water and fertile soil, and it started to grow.”
I didn’t know any porn stars other than Jenna
West End that enjoys Bill’s Barbeque and a cold
Jameson, and that’s only because she was on
sweet tea -- I truly couldn’t be prouder.”
At its heart, After Porn Ends refuses to be just
another documentary about the adult film
industry. Wagoner could have taken the easy
Before beginning work on this film, Bryce
way out and allowed the porn to tell his story,
Wagoner had about as much experience
as we’ve seen in previous documentaries such
with porn as your average member of the
as 2008’s The Price of Pleasure, which explores
Pope’s advisory board. As the self-proclaimed
the effects of extreme sexual degradation for
“conservative who made a movie about porn
the purpose of arousal, or 2009’s Graphic
stars,” Wagoner was forced to put his personal
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RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
END OF THE WORLD reader’s POLL Remember last fall? There was a lot of hysteria going on at that time over Mayan prophecies that supposedly foretold the end of the world. The fact that you’re here to read this in 2013 proves that there wasn’t any merit to such predictions, but back in December, when no one knew whether we were going to die or not, we here at RVA Magazine decided to launch a poll of our readership. We wanted to take stock of the local scene, find out what up-and-coming artists are generating the most heat, and which local spots have become our favorite hangouts over the past few years. That way, we figured, if the world did end, at least we’d know. Thankfully, December 21 came and went, and the days continued on in much the same way as they had before. Now that we’re sure that RVA will be here for another year, we’re delighted to be able to reveal the results of our readers’ poll, retrieved from that heady time when the end of days was still upon us. The thriving local community is what makes this city a great place to live, and on the next few pages, we recognize the people and places around RVA that we love the most. Thank you to our contributors Andrew Necci, Kristina Headrick, Dan Mulrooney and Brian Charlton
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FAVORITE BEER BAR: MEKONG
Foodie Restaurant: Edo’s Squid photo by Todd Raviotta
While primarily operating as a Vietnamese restaurant (and a damn good one, at that), everyone in RVA knows that “Mekong is for beer lovers.” Providing an extensive collection of craft beers that is unrivaled in Richmond, owner An Bui’s passion for hops and barley is apparent to all who set foot in the bar area at Mekong, where the friendly atmosphere makes everyone feel like family. Its recognition as the best beer bar in America by craftbeer.com only proves that Richmonders are right to single out Mekong as the place to be for those who love beer.
Edo’s Squid has a lot to offer within its small corridors. Yes, you will need a reservation, and an open mind when it comes to personal space, but you will not be disappointed by the variety of pasta dishes, the quality of which more than reflects the price. Don’t let the climb to the second floor and closely placed seating arrangement fool you--Edo’s is as hearty, delicious, and unique a dining experience as Richmond gets.
2ND PLACE: COMFORT HONORABLE MENTION: MAMMA ZU’S
2ND PLACE: CAPITAL ALE HOUSE HONORABLE MENTION: JOE’S INN
Lunch Place (TIE): Kuba Kuba
Lunch Place (TIE): 821 Cafe photo by Jakrit Patchimanon
photo by Jakrit Patchimanon
Located in the heart of the fan, Kuba Kuba is impossible to miss, with the large, swanky, blue-hued painting of a man and a dog sprawled out on the side of the building. Kuba Kuba has great food presentation, outstanding quality, and a very intimate atmosphere. The favorite for lunch is the Tres Leches Cake, but you shouldn’t leave without ordering the empanadas and fried plantains as well. And while they were honored for their lunchtime delicacies, Kuba Kuba’s weekend brunches are also not to be missed.
821 Cafe has an ever changing specials menu that seems to hit the right spot with Richmonders, including the “picnic basket” - a deliciously unique sandwich with grilled brie, fried greens, apples, pears, and honey mustard. Their everyday menu contains some unusual items as well, from a fried peanut butter, bacon, and banana sandwich to the notorious “Brent Burger”--a pound of beef between two grilled cheese sandwiches. All of this in the intimate, European-style dining environment makes 821 a favorite in the Richmond community.
2ND PLACE: GARNETT’S HONORABLE MENTION: LAMPLIGHTER 48
RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
Barbecue Place: Buz and Ned’s
Pizza Place: Bottoms Up photo by Jakrit Patchimanon
photo by Jakrit Patchimanon
Throwing down with and beating the famous Bobby Flay in a BBQ-off, Buz and Ned’s has dominated the barbecue scene and won the heart of RVA readers with the meaty title. Having cooked BBQ across the country, and shared secrets with old timers mending the pits, Buz never tasted barbecue as good as Ned’s. Before he passed away, Ned passed his famous 150-year-old recipe to Buz, who brought it to Richmond and has been serving it to grateful RVA diners for two decades. Find Buz & Ned’s on Boulevard--or keep an eye out for their new location, on Broad St. in the West End.
It’s not surprising Bottoms Up won this category, as it has received many accolades since opening over two decades ago. This gourmet pizza place near the Eastern end of the historic Canal Walk has wonderful outdoor seating, with a view of the trains in the historic Shockoe Bottom area. But this isn’t the only reason to visit--their wide variety of unique signature pizzas and high quality ingredients keep tables at Bottoms Up in high demand all year round. The crust is famous for taking over twelve hours to prepare, the sauces are homemade, and the toppings are fresh and delicious, so regardless of the wait time, it’s always worth it.
2ND PLACE: ALAMO HONORABLE MENTION: PHAT BOYZ
2ND PLACE: MARY ANGELA’S HONORABLE MENTION: BELMONT PIZZA
Late Night Hangout: The Camel
Dance Party Spot: Balliceaux photo by Todd Raviotta
For many, this will come as no surprise. The Camel has existed right there in the center of the Richmond universe for many moons; a beacon of great music, art, food (served into the morning hours) and a plethora of great beers. The Camel exists for the betterment of Richmond, and is one of the only bars in the city that I will go to without checking the evening’s event beforehand. Chances are that something pretty cool is going to be happening at “the social oasis.”
2ND PLACE: BALLICEAUX HONORABLE MENTION: IPANEMA
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This category is of dire importance. Sometimes you have just got to dance, and Balliceaux is the joint, with the perfect touch of swankiness, to let loose in. You don’t have to wear the jacket and tie every night, but it’s nice to kick it up a notch and swagger on down to Balliceaux for a good romp with the beautiful faces of Richmond. Something about the layout of Balliceaux just naturally cajoles you into dancing; you’re in the back of a nice restaurant, the lights are low… next thing you know, you’ve just dropped the JB splits in the middle of the dance floor.
2ND PLACE: STRANGE MATTER HONORABLE MENTION: OFF THE HOOKAH 49
Local Venue (TIE): The Camel
Local Venue (TIE): Strange Matter photo byJoe Thalman
photo by Todd Raviotta
Strange Matter, being one of the only bars in Richmond taken seriously as a great venue, certainly deserves a trophy. Of all the bands in Richmond, the punk and metal genres make up one of the largest percentages. Strange Matter is a safe haven for the city’s hardest and grittiest music – the music that has partially defined Richmond for so long. There’s an unmistakable old-fashioned feeling you get when you walk into a Strange Matter show; the arcades, the cement floor – you can sense the rich history of raw rock in the air.
A tie in this category is almost a necessity, and props to The Camel for racking up a couple wins. The Camel is place where you can go to see literally any genre of music--you’ll see national touring acts, you’ll see fledgling projects, and you might even see Bill Murray or Joseph Gordon-Levitt if you’re there on the right night. Richmonders treat The Camel as a legitimate place to see great music, not just as a bar, so this win is warranted and well-deserved.
2ND PLACE: BALLICEAUX HONORABLE MENTION: THE REPUBLIC
NATIONALLY KNOWN RVA BAND: GWAR
Local Record Store: Plan 9 photo by Jakrit Patchimanon
For over three decades now, the people of Richmond have deemed Plan 9 the place to slake their musical appetites, a fact that continues to hold true today. Walking into Plan 9 is like walking into a pet store; it’s freaking awesome and it’s almost impossible to leave empty-handed. Plan 9 gives back to the community by shelving tons of local music, aiding many local bands. Almost anytime I go for a long walk, I end up stopping into Plan 9. Convenience pairs nicely with awesomeness.
2ND PLACE: DEEP GROOVE HONORABLE MENTION: STEADY SOUNDS
With nearly three decades dominating the Richmond music scene, it’s no surprise that our alien overlords of metal, GWAR, continue to capture the hearts of RVA readers. After throwing the wild and crazy GWAR-B-Que 2012 on the alcohol-polluted shores of Hadad’s Lake last summer, the band introduced new guitarist Pustulus Maximus and kicked off the Fate Or Chaos Tour, which has kept them away from their beloved hometown ever since. However, they have been working on a new album, and rumor has it that this year’s GWARB-Que may feature the introduction of the group’s very own GWAR-B-Que sauce, leaving fans with plenty to look forward to.
2ND PLACE: LAMB OF GOD HONORABLE MENTION: D’ANGELO RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
Local Metal Band: Cannabis Corpse Local Hardcore/Punk Band: The Catalyst
These death metal ragers have always had a sense of humor, titling songs and albums with marijuana-themed parodies of classics from their chosen genre. However, their music is 100% original and often better than the bands they parody, so it’s no surprise that the RVA metal community has honored them in this year’s poll. After a year of lineup instability briefly saw Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe fronting the group, Cannabis Corpse have reconstituted as a three-piece, with bassist Landphil taking on lead vocal duties and GWAR guitarist Brent Legion rounding out the lineup. Their recent signing to Season Of Mist Records means we can expect big things from Cannabis Corpse in the near future.
The Catalyst’s progressive, psychedelic take on metallic hardcore hardly fits the stereotypical idea of punk rock, but Richmond has always respected musical innovation. Their third album, 2012’s Voyager, drew widespread acclaim for its elaborate conceptual framework and powerful, memorable riffs, and their recently released split vinyl EP with French band Aussitot Mort follows up the album in fine fashion. We also like it loud here in RVA, and The Catalyst deliver a ferocious wall of noise whenever they play. If you haven’t seen them live yet, make sure you fix that as soon as possible.
2ND PLACE: TUNGS HONORABLE MENTION: HOLD TIGHT
2ND PLACE: BALACLAVA HONORABLE MENTION: GRITTER
Local Rock Band: Black Girls
Local Songwriter: Tim Barry photo by Haley Brooks Gilbert
photo by Duey Nguyen
Black Girls have spent years now ensuring their total dominance over the local rock scene in Richmond, and clearly it’s given them a solid place in the heart of the community. Dishing out their patented brand of funky, jammy, soulful rock n’ roll, which they lovingly refer to as “snuff rock,” Black Girls turn every venue they play into a giant dance party. Everyone has so much fun that it’s no wonder that, after spending a year playing RVA on a near-weekly basis, they can still pack the house in places like The Camel and Balliceaux. Lately the band’s been taking their act on the road, but surely their absence will only make local music lovers’ hearts beat ever more fondly for RVA’s favorite sons.
Tim Barry has come a long way since his days singing for Avail, the melodic hardcore band who put RVA on the map in the 90s. In his current solo work, he’s returned to his roots, playing a distinctly American brand of folk, country, and blues on his acoustic guitar, and singing with the passion he’s carried through everything he’s done. His fifth album, 40 Miler, which was released last year, found Tim in a hopeful, uplifting frame of mind, and working with quite a few local Richmonders to craft his musical visions. This year, he’ll be taking those visions on tour all over the US and Europe, representing Richmond VA wherever he goes.
2ND PLACE: MILKSTAINS HONORABLE MENTION: HEAVY MIDGETS
2ND PLACE: Matthew E. White HONORABLE MENTION: GULL
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Local Hip Hop Artist: Black Liquid
This large, fluctuating crew of horn players and percussionists has been impressing crowds from every walk of life around Richmond for years now. With their mix of upbeat, energetic original compositions and surprising, delightfully arranged covers, No BS! Brass Band are equally at home performing at a Sunday afternoon street fair or in a packed, sweltering club on a Saturday night. Despite founder Reggie Pace’s recent work with Grammy-winning indie group Bon Iver, No BS! haven’t slowed down one iota, and fans of all ages can look forward to their latest album, RVA All Day, hitting the streets this spring. Hooray!
He told us in a song: “Liq Don’t Stop”--and anyone paying attention to what’s been happening in the RVA hip hop scene for the last few years knows it’s true. With nearly two dozen albums released since 2008, Liq’s been cranking out powerful, hard-hitting hip hop tracks at an unbelievable clip. That’s not to mention his two weekly radio shows, his relentless live schedule--most notably the monthly Face Melt Friday events--and his work with The New Juice Crew, whose new mixtape, Know The Ledge, sets a new standard for RVA hip hop. He shows no signs of slowing down, so you can expect to hear Black Liquid’s name for a long time to come.
photo by Marc Cheatham
Local Jazz/Funk/Jam Band: No BS! Brass Band
2ND PLACE: SWORDPLAY HONORABLE MENTION: LUGGAGE
Favorite Local DJ: Long Jawns
Local Artist: Ed Trask
Long Jawns first rose to fame with his deadly sets behind the turntables at Audio Ammo’s legendary Brain Drain parties. These days, party people know that their best bet on a Saturday night is to hit the dance floor at whatever club Long Jawns is rocking. However, his recent team-up with Washington DC’s Billy The Gent as Gent & Jawns has taken Long to a whole new level. Their Diplo collaboration, “Butters Theme,” has been a big hit, and Gent & Jawns will be joining Major Lazer on their spring tour, as well as contributing songs to multiple high-profile compilations of moombahton and trap music. Look for Long Jawns to break out bigger than ever in 2013!
Despite the fact that our city is teeming with visual artists, the people have spoken loudly and clearly in favor of Ed Trask, and with good reason. He is a prolific artist whose work graces both highbrow and lowbrow locations throughout Richmond city. His many commissions include paintings for popular restaurants like Lulu’s and the mural outside Sidewalk Cafe. Trask ‘s contributions to the city extend beyond supplying us with his signature depictions of Richmond life--last year, he helped organize the RVA Street Art Festival, and is always vocal about the artist’s role in a community. As a VCU alumni, Trask may be the unofficial spokesman for visual arts in Richmond.
photo by Dave Parrish
2ND PLACE: DJ WILLIAMS PROJEKT HONORABLE MENTION (TIE): PROVERBIAL & FORMER CHAMPIONS
2ND PLACE: MAMMALS HONORABLE MENTION: NINT3NDO 52
2ND PLACE: ELIZA CHILDRESS HONORABLE MENTION: CHRIS MILK RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
Local Tattoo artist: Amy Black
Art Gallery: Gallery 5 photo by Todd Raviotta
photo by Anthony Hall
We weren’t shocked at all to see that an overwhelming majority of you chose Amy Black as your favorite tattoo artist. Black, the owner of Trademark Tattoo in Carytown, has won awards in many other publications, proving that she is the rightful heir to this title. Her signature style of intricate designs results in realistic images with a touch of the surreal. In addition to being an amazing artist with a successful Carytown shop (appointment-only!), Black gives back to the community through her art via the “Pink Ink Fund.” When Amy was denied her first apprenticeship on the basis of her sex, she decided to empower women through her work, offering free nipple and areola re-pigmentation to those who’ve had mastectomies. Girl Power!
Given Richmond’s love of art, live music, and beer, it comes as no surprise that our readers’ favorite gallery seamlessly merges these three elements that are vital to our collective existence. The Jackson Ward gallery is committed to Richmond in every way, providing us with a great venue for art and special events while preserving the rich history of the city. When the founders of the gallery chose this location, they saved a National Historic Landmark that housed Virginia’s oldest firehouse and police station, and their choice also helped to spawn new businesses in the historic Jackson Ward district. Add to the equation that Gallery 5 often exhibits art that falls into a price point young professionals--not just wealthy old-money art collectors--can afford, and it’s obvious why Gallery 5 is RVA’s favorite art gallery.
2ND PLACE: THEA DUSKIN HONORABLE MENTION: JESSE SMITH
2ND PLACE: GHOSTPRINT GALLERY HONORABLE MENTION: QUIRK GALLERY
Local Clothing Store: Need Supply Co.
Local Thrift Store: Diversity Thrift
2ND PLACE: BYGONES HONORABLE MENTION: WEST COAST KIX CHECK RVAMAG.COM DAILY
photo by Jakrit Patchimanon
photo by Jakrit Patchimanon
When it comes to dressing RVA’s young and hip (that’s you, dear reader), Need Supply Co. is the chosen (non-vintage) destination. Though the company’s focus has expanded in recent years to their national e-commerce site, their Carytown store has plenty of local devotees. The store features clothing, shoes, and accessories from all over the country, along with a small selection of locally made jewelry. Special events like Need’s “Meet the Maker” series create an interface between fashion geeks and the brands they covet, something unique among the city’s many retailers. Need stands out for carrying some high end brands that can’t be found anywhere else within a 100 mile radius of RVA, like the ever-quirky Opening Ceremony. The store also has the best selection of menswear in the city (this assumption excludes the tastes of our preppier brethren).
Every good Richmond resident knows that a trip to Diversity Thrift can be magical (especially on Tuesdays). Founded to support Richmond’s LGBT community, Diversity opened in 1999 as a small thrift store that has outgrown two locations and become a Richmond institution. Diversity offers 15,000 square feet of furniture, clothing, jewelry, records, books, and--at the risk of sounding like a cheesy salesman--so much more, all for incredible bargains. We love that 80% of their profits return to the community, that funds raised here helped construct The Gay Center of Richmond, and that the one of a kind furniture finds don’t require assembly (no thanks, Ikea).
2ND PLACE: RUMORS HONORABLE MENTION: FAN TASTIC THRIFT 53
RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
BEHIND THE BAR EVERY MONDAY, TUESDAY, THURSDAY & FRIDAY
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at The Camel
SUNDAY BRUNCH SERVICE BEGINS March 3
OPEN @ 11AM
1621 W Broad St | Richmond VA | 23220 | www.thecamel.org 56
RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
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REVIEWS by ANDREW NECCI
Corrosion Of Conformity Destruction
The latest incarnation of COC is a return to their best lineup (the late 80s Animosity trio), and it synthesises the best aspects of their many different sounds over the years. Switching between thick, sludgy riffing and uptempo crossover thrash, this 5-song EP should satisfy COC fans of all eras.
These German thrash pioneers are still shredding in fine fashion in their 30th year of existence; their 13th album is a cornucopia of uptempo riffs and raging vocals. Their drummer sounds kinda mechanical (I blame an overly sterile production style), but if you want to headbang, you really can’t go wrong here.
(Dischord) Reminiscent of earlier Dischord signings such as Q And Not U and Black Eyes, E.D. Sedgwick displays a postpunk/funk hybrid sound on their latest album, though the addition of soulful female backing vocals helps move things in the funk direction. Catchy and danceable, yet retaining a punk edge, this LP is enjoyable throughout.
Picture Me Broken
Most of these songs are under two minutes long, making this an exercise in the postpunk-as-minimalism aesthetic of the Minutemen or early Wire. However, Parquet Courts mix their undistorted guitars and precise riffing with more overt melodies, adding a bit of indie appeal while avoiding any sign of coffeeshop wimpiness.
Apparently the Deadsy guy isn’t the only one of Gregg Allman’s kids with musical ambitions. His daughter Brooklyn sings for this band. She’s got a good voice, but PMB struggle on this EP to decide whether they want to be keyboard-drenched glam or chugging metalcore. They might be good once they figure it out. For now... eh.
Like a time capsule from 1991, this Purling Hiss album incorporates the distorted guitars of Dinosaur Jr and Bleach-era Nirvana with the wistful power-pop songwriting of Matthew Sweet or Evan Dando. Heaviness wins the day without sacrificing catchiness, and everyone wins. Fans of early 90s alt-rock need this album.
These Swedes at least draw influence from a good source with this album of French pop covers (including several Serge Gainsbourg tunes) given the symphonic metal treatment. But this syrupy, overwrought style is a plague on modern metal, and falsetto vocals only work in metal if you’re King Diamond. Pass.
Spooky gothic pieces for solo guitar and vocals, recorded in such a way that you can hear the room they were played in almost as well as you hear the songs themselves. Striking minimalist beauty and darkness, as if Jason Molina, Fiona Apple, and Mark Kozelek made an album together. Excellent.
Megalodon EP (Scion)
You’re Nothing (Matador) Danish teenage hardcore sensations hit their 20s in time for a sophomore album that’s tougher, louder, and features thicker production than their debut. They retain their gothic, emotional mood while taking on a harder edge that puts them closer to Negative Approach than Joy Division. They still rule.
Tegan And Sara Heartthrob (Warner Bros)
Heartthrob, Tegan and Sara’s seventh album, is their poppiest yet, but these twin sisters haven’t lost an ounce of their knack for memorable choruses and passionate, emotional melodies. These songs are more upbeat and danceable than their past work, but they’re equally brilliant. 58
Spiritual Genocide (Nuclear Blast)
Light Up Gold (What’s Your Rupture)
Les Fleurs Du Mal (End Of the Light)
We Wear White
Collide And Conquer (Megaforce) Hunter Valentine is a pop-metal band with a female vocalist, dishing out the same sort of over-the-top glam toughness that hair metal bands in the late 80s specialized in, complete with sugary chorus riffs and super-polished production. Sounds terrible, I know, and yet I kind of love it. Poison fans take note.
Water On Mars (Drag City)
Confrontations (Not Not Fun) Do synth soundtracks to 70s/80s horror movies still sound good without the films they were designed to accompany? That’s a question Umberto is hoping you’ll answer in the affirmative. I think it’s a bit monotonous without a background to blend into. Still, Goblin/John Carpenter fans should eat this up. RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
REVIEWS by DAN ANDERSON
A Boy Named Dick
At first listen, A Boy Named Dick appears to be a loose, off pitch, solo effort that intentionally attempts to exhibit a notso-serious approach to DIY music. As this project proceeds, a few gems shine brightly through the rough, making me feel more comfortable about recommending songs like “Sitting Here.”
If you’re totally into progressive metal, and you think Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell sits appropriately in the top ten albums of all time, then you’re probably going to love Aeon Zen’s Enigma – or hate it. Personally, I have no interest in a metal band that over-compresses its instruments and autotunes its vocals.
This 11-song, garagey rock record is bright, positive, and uplifting. Recorded in Richmond, this four-piece includes harmonica and saxophone, offering a dynamic take on traditional folk. Clifton Gibbons’s voice is comforting with its pleasant familiarity, making River City easy to listen to again and again.
Jody Highroller X Dame Grease
Kid Brother Collective
Octavion X + DJShermski
Lights Out is as pleasant of a surprise as one can expect from a metal record these days. Don’t expect to find thrash guitar riffs or super heavy drum tracks here; Graveyard is more stoner metal than it is heavy. Lights Out is similar to Black Sabbath, circa Dio, minus that incredible vocal range. alley.
It’s difficult for me to admit that this record has anything relevant to offer the average listener, but it does. Aside from Jody Highroller (AKA Riff Raff)’s nonsensical, stream of consciousness approach to lyrics, Hologram Panda has an impressive beat selection that makes this record’s loose, at times disheveled delivery palatable.
This 11-song vinyl release originally dropped in Flint, MI, nearly a decade ago. Kid Brother nails the mod-rock genre with ease, so this will likely remind it’s listeners of bands like Jimmy Eat World and The Get Up Kids. I thoroughly enjoy “Failure By Design” and “Too Many Tomorrows.”
Vigilante is the most recent solo effort from Suburban District standout Octavion X. With 15 well executed tracks that include notable cameo appearances from Conrizzle, Kasanova, and BCMusic1st, amongst others, Vigilante is a must have Hip Hop record for anyone who intends to claim to be plugged into the underground.
A Boy Named Dick (Self Released)
Lights Out (Neuclear Blast)
Enter The Enigma (Nightmare Records)
River City (Self-Released)
Highway Miles Hologram Panda (Mad Decent) (Lower Peninsula Records)
…It’s a Household Name (Self Released)
MT3 (Self Released)
I’ve been anticipating this funky, surfinspired rock band’s debut album since I first encountered them nearly two years ago. It’s been a long time coming, and …It’s a Household Name does not disappoint. “Folk Song” and “Soul Flow” are two of my favorites. Psychobilly Cadillac reminds me of the nineties, in a good way.
MT3 is a slick, well put together, ten-track rap record that’s only pretending to be a mixtape. The production here is solid. The lyrics are well balanced and engaging, and the delivery appears effortless. “I’m Gone,” “Babylon,” and “Changes” are choice, and I’m looking forward to Rome’s forthcoming album.
So many awesome things can be said about Tyler Perry’s Sports Bar that 50 words just wouldn’t do it justice, but here goes: This record is sweet, and it’s easily one of my favorite garage punk projects, ever! Six noisy, self-deprecating drinking songs from Richmond’s own Sports Bar.
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Tyler Perry’s Sports Bar (Self Released)
Langsom Dans (Mountain Lo-fi Recordings) This is GLISS’s third album, and in my opinion, their best to date. Moving Victoria Cecilia to lead vocalist was a great way to shake some of the unwelcome and often unfair comparisons. Langsom Dans is unique and distinguished. I’m into shoegazing, so this album is right up my alley..
The Living Infinite (Nuclear Blast) If melodic death metal is your thing, The Living Infinite is twenty kick ass songs that will make you want to smash your face with a cinder block, drink blood from a human skull, and punch a random baby. Personally, I’d rather listen to Black Dahlia Murder, but I limit myself in this particular genre. 59
3017 W. Cary St. Richmond VA 23221
804.353.9996 www.plan9music.com facebook.com/Plan9music
| RVA Magazine | RVAmag.com RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
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November 15, 1978 - December 20, 2012
APRIL 23, 1987 - February 9, 2013
nathaniel daigle 1986 - February 9, 2013
Those who knew Chadwick “Chadrach” Ashwell knew how much his presence meant to the development of RVA Hip Hop. As a founding member of Divine Profitz, Chadrach made a name for himself in a budding music scene almost immediately after his relocation to Richmond from Lynchburg in 2002. Wick was an exceptional, multi-talented MC/Producer who achieved more in the past decade than most musicians do in a lifetime. Recognized for his unique style, his dope beats, and his well-executed, intellectual lyrical content, he was respected and envied by those close enough to covet his acknowledgment and acceptance. More importantly, Chad was deeply loved by his friends and family. On December 20th, 2012, Virginia Hip Hop lost the influence of an icon, the inspiration of a driving force, and the further contributions of a legend. He is survived by his wife Adrianne and his son Justice. His life and accomplishments can be celebrated and remembered through his album Soul Search, the Divine Profitz album The Riot, and the regionally focused compilation, When Does a Story Become…Legend. His work can still be purchased at CDBaby.com and iTunes. A tribute show at Baja Bean Co. in Chadrach’s honor is in the planning stages. For more information, or to make a donation to benefit the family, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
On February 9th, RVA lost two awesome guys way too early. We remember Nathaniel Daigle & Joel Forshaw as friends, artists, jokesters, beer lovers, dance fiends, teammates, and as brothers to many in this community. They loved life and lived it to the fullest; you can see this in all the friends they had made in RVA and beyond. We will cherish all the wonderful memories and stories they shared with us, and as we continue to share these stories and laughs, we will remember them forever. Peace my brothers…..and Penis. Some of Nat amazing art is posted to the right. Contributions to the memory of Nat may be made to Art 180 at www.art180.org. Donations in memory of Joel may be made to Tamera Forshaw, c/o Joel Forshaw Memorial Scholarship Fund, Citizens and Farmers Bank, 100 E. Williamsburg Road, Sandston, VA. 23150.
RVA MAGAZINE 12 SPRING 2013
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Published on Mar 15, 2013