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RVA #14 FALL 2013 WWW.RVAMAG.COM FOUNDERS R. Anthony Harris, Jeremy Parker PUBLISHER R. Anthony Harris VICE PRESIDENT John Reinhold EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Andrew Necci CREATIVE DIRECTOR RAH SALES MANAGER Dan Anderson ADVERTISING TEAM Rachel Whaley, Teddy Gregson Mark Herbkersman, Kristina Headrick EDITORIAL ASST. Brad Kutner RVAMAG.COM & GAYRVA.COM Brad Kutner WRITERS Andrew Necci, Shannon Cleary, Kristina Headrick, R. Anthony Harris, Brad Kutner, Addison Herron-Wheeler, Sarah Moore Lindsey, Shannon Cruse Ranson, Alex Criqui, PHOTOGRAPHY Richard Perkins, Matt Licari, Trevor Frost, Marc Schmidt, Marc Cheatham, Jake Cunningham, Justin Lewis, Christian Hewitt, Josiah Bittenbender, Chelsea Gingras INTERNS Ashleigh Boisseau, Aleda Weathers, Amber Galaviz, Melissa Coci, Sam McClelland, Andrew Johnson, Matthew Leonard GENERAL INFORMATION e: hello@rvamag.com EDITORIAL INFORMATION e: andrew@rvamag.com DISTRIBUTION e: hello@rvamag.com ADVERTISING John Reinhold Dan Anderson

p: 276.732.3410 e: john@rvamag.com p: 804.335.8661 e: dan@rvamag.com

SUBMISSION POLICY RVA welcomes submissions but cannot be held responsible for unsolicited material. Send all submissions to hello@rvamag.Com. All submissions property of Inkwell Design LLC. The entire content is a copyright of Inkwell Design LLC and cannot be reproduced in whole or in part without written authorization of the publisher. ONLINE Every issue of RVA magazine can be viewed in its entirety anytime at rvamag.com/magazine. SOCIAL facebook.com/rvamag twitter.com/@rvamag instagram/rvamag rvamag.tumblr.com majormajor.me SUBSCRIPTION Log onto rvamag.com/magazine to have RVA Magazine sent to your home or office. HEADS UP! The advertising and articles appearing within this publication reflect the opinion and attitudes of their respective authors and not necessarily those of the publisher or editors. Reproduction in whole or part without prior written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited. RVA Magazine is published quarterly. Images are subject to being altered from their original format. All material within this magazine is protected. RVA Magazine is a registered trademark of Inkwell Design LLC. RVA Magazine is printed locally by Zooom Printing. We want to say thank you to Ben and JoAnn Rossi for the years of support making our project possible. cover photo by Marc Schmidt

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RVA MAGAZINE FALL 2013 CONTENTS

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Indie Music & Arts Festival

Saturday, September 14, 2013 Noon - 10pm Town Point Park, Downtown Norfolk, VA Free & Open to the Public

Multiple Stages Featuring:

Delta Spirit

Electric Guest

Good Old War

Local & Regional Artists Food Truck Food Court Repurpose-Style Retail Marketplace

For more info visit festevents.org or call 757.441.2345 CHECK RVAMAG.COM DAILY

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PLAYLIST

STUDIO NEWS

TRACKS WORTH LISTENING TO.

Chvrches, “We Sink”

The Bones Of What You Believe, Glassnote

HypeMachine/Tumblr-ready elctro-pop group Chvrches has finally released their first album. While most of the tracks stand out, “We Sink” carries some of the album’s best beats, highlights Lauren Mayberry’s vocal talents, and shows this band as a group of songwriters, not just one-hitwonders. “I’ll be a thorn in your side, til you die”--and this song will gladly be stuck in my head til I die. --Brad Kutner

The Upbeats feat. Tasha Baxter “Alone”

Primitive Technique Vision Recordings

There are plenty of godawful examples of female vocals in drum n’ bass and dubstep these days, but this is, for sure, a rare exception. The haunting quality of Tasha Baxter’s voice at a slower tempo pairs amazingly with epic neurofunk, and the results are both catchy and intelligent. --Addison Herron-Wheeler

Deafheaven, “Dream House”

Sunbather, Deathwish Inc.

Black metal’s harsh screams, frantic guitars, and hyperspeed drums merge with the soaring melodies of shoegaze groups like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine to create powerful music that sounds more mournful than angry. Deafheaven’s lyrical tales of alienation and loneliness speak to me on a level that “kvlt” blatherings about pagan gods can’t hope to match. Song and album of the year--no contest. --Andrew Necci

Jimmy Eat World, “Damage” Damage, RCA Records

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When I was 13, Jimmy Eat World was instrumental in my introduction to emo and punk rock. Clarity remains one of my favorite records to this day. Almost two decades into their career, Jimmy Eat World are still managing to produce quality records. “Damage,” the title track from their new record, has that heartfelt, midwestern tinged feel that’s been present throughout their catalogue. --Chris Suarez (http://www.last.fm/user/CM_Suarez)

Peak Twins “China White”

Steppin’ Off, Bedroom Suck Records

I’ve yet to discover a Melbourne band I dislike, and Peak Twins is no exception. I’m a sucker for Aussiebred psych pop, and this song is, to me, the perfect embodiment of said genre. The harmonies on “China White” are luscious, if not a bit sinister. Quite frankly, I can’t get them out of my head. I dug Peak Twins’ first EP, and this single from their sophomore effort has me excited to trace the young band’s creative evolution. --Kristina Headrick

RVA’s favorite math-pop quartet, The Trillions, are currently ensconced at Richmond’s Montrose Recording, working on the followup to their debut full-length, 2012’s Tritones. Featuring several recent live favorites as well as a number of songs the band has worked up during rehearsals and in the studio, the plan is to record 15 songs, from which 10 to 12 of the best will be culled for their second LP. The band plans to release the album around the end of the year, so keep an eye out! Local psychedelic indie-punk basement dwellers Tungs and Heavy Midgets, who blew everyone away last year with their excellent split LP, Sisters, have both been hard at work all summer on new material. Both bands intend to release fulllengths at some point this year. Tungs are a bit farther along in the process, with recording mostly complete and an indiegogo fund currently set up to pay for vinyl pressing. The eventual result will be their third LP, Not For Grandma. Details are a bit sketchier where Heavy Midgets are concerned, though demos for album tracks have been appearing online. We’ll know more as the year goes on. Metal kings Inter Arma, known for their complicated, multi-layered epics, have taken things to another level entirely with their latest project. Recording at Dark Art Studios, located in Madison, TN, the band has been putting together a studio version of a single 40-minute song they originally wrote several years ago. With some as-yet-undisclosed guest appearances supplying sounds you don’t exactly expect to hear on an Inter Arma record (synthesizers, classical stringed instruments, and more), this will be what Inter Arma guitarist Trey Dalton calls the group’s “most completely off the wall shit yet.” Though Inter Arma have clarified that this recording will not be considered the group’s new album, at 40 minutes in length, fans will be getting their money’s worth once this track hits vinyl. RVA/Tidewater hip hop duo Teleport Team, which consists of Mikealis and Don Mimosa, have finished their latest mixtape, which is scheduled to drop sometime this month. Crack Is Back features 18 songs that bring back the 90s in a big way, featuring production from New York’s Alpha Chris and LA’s Branville, as well as VA locals Deezy, Tragic, and LJ3. Featured verses were contributed by Pyro, BeeF, Penelope, and Don Mimosa’s pops, E.L. Thomas. Keep an eye on teleportteam.com for a free download of Crack Is Back, coming this month!

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DON’T SLEEP Above: Conrizzle at Epic Fest 2013 (Photo by Richard Perkins) Left: Big Freedia live. The queen of NOLA sissy bounce will be in Richmond for Fall Line Fest, taking place on September 6 & 7. Look for an interview with her in G Magazine, the print publication of GayRVA, coming next month! (Photo by Richard Perkins) Top right: Chris Zasche of The Head And The Heart (Photo by Trevor Frost) Bottom right--Instagram pics: 1. Gent & Jawns live (@thewallny) 2. Carytown’s Venue Skateboards strut their stuff at GWAR-B-Q 2013 (@venueskateboards) 3. Riff Raff onstage at Kingdom (@niceent) 4. Michigan metal-punks Wilson enjoy GWAR Beer at GWAR-B-Q 2013 (@wilsonparties) 5. Soulpower at Balliceaux (@djpari)

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@thewallny

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@venueskateboards

@niceent

@wilsonparties

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Virginia Boyz

Talking sold out shows, the new album and getting recognized at sushi bars with Jon and Tyler of The Head & The Heart by R. Anthony Harris photos by Trevor frost

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Since their formation, The Head And The Heart have been doing big things. Forming in Seattle in 2009, the indie-folk sextet began by recording and releasing their debut album on their own dime and selling an unbelievable 10,000 copies at shows and through local record stores. Seattle label Sub Pop took notice, signing the band and rereleasing their self-titled debut in 2011 to an even more overwhelming reception. Since then, their fame has only grown, both through tours with everyone from Vampire Weekend and Dave Matthews to My Morning Jacket and Death Cab For Cutie, and through numerous high profile television appearances. But the whirlwind of live performances and promotional junkets has kept the group from recording a followup album--until now. With things finally calming down at the beginning of 2013, the band’s Richmond-based members--singer/guitarist Jonathan Russell and drummer Tyler Williams--were able to return home, decompress, and soon rejoin their bandmates to record Let’s Be Still, the highly-anticipated follow-up to their self-titled debut. They released lead single “Shake” back in August, and with Let’s Be Still set for an October 15 release, the band are gearing up for a full-scale tour beginning in October. They’re playing a few festival dates before the album drops, but for the most part, Jon and Tyler are back in Richmond right now, and we caught up with them to discuss the making of the new album and what it’s like to come back to your hometown after making it big. CHECK RVAMAG.COM DAILY

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Since the last album, you’ve toured a lot, and it seems the crowds have gotten bigger. Going into this second album, what was different about it? Was it a different process, a different feeling for it? Tyler Overall, everything was pretty different. I felt that [for] the first one, we didn’t really have any resources. We were all just working as many jobs as we could to pay for it, and we wrote the songs in a limited amount of time, but this was a longer process. Jon It was almost more difficult because there was less limitations this time around. The first time it was like, “Well, we only have this much money, so we can record this many songs,” and we had only written that many songs. This time, we had an actual budget because we’re on a label, which is amazing, and we can be there for as long as want. That tends to make things a lot more difficult, because you have more time to second guess. It’s like, “What if we try this?” Also, I think the first time around, we didn’t really think about the songs, as in where we could take them other than how we play them live. [On] that 22

record, how we play them live is how we played them on the record. The tempo shifts a little bit from the latter half of the record, but I think we had only been a band for about six months when we recorded that first record. So I feel we sound like a new band on this new record, and that we’ve been touring for a long time now. It sounds like a more mature, well-lubricated band on the second record. It must be a little nerve-racking to look around and think, “We can do whatever we want, so what do we want to take from what we did before, and how do we evolve it?” Tyler Looking back and listening to the record now, it sounds like a very natural evolution. When we were writing the songs, we didn’t have a sense of what the whole project is going to be. We were pushing out our boundaries, and trying to expand the thing we were doing. When we finally got to [mixer] Peter [Katis’s studio] in Connecticut, he pushed those tones that we had recorded; took what we had done in Seattle and really stretched it. He kind of made it sound like

the band we are now live, versus what we were in the first place. Was it exciting to work with a producer from the jump? Was it difficult at all? Tyler Well, we recorded with [co-producer] Shawn [Simmons] on the first record. He basically engineered it and added some advice here and there. But working with Peter was like... when you have an idea, he just knows how to accomplish that idea. It was kind of refreshing to have someone with that knowledge. Was that intimidating to essentially have a team take your songs and find parts of them to expand on those parts, or was that part of the fun? Jon It was actually more nerve-racking than fun. I always feel there should be like a separation of church and state, thinking about managers and people who are really good at specific things, but not necessarily the best person to have in the room when you’re trying to make music. When we were writing the first record, we didn’t have managers or a label or a booker, or anybody RVA MAGAZINE 14 FALL 2013


outside of the band to be nervous for us. They want to see a good record as well, but you just gotta trust the band to do what the band does. If anything, that was just sort of obnoxious. Tyler We sometimes had to have these talks where we were like, “You can’t come in.” Jon But it was also a learning experience for us to not show them a half finished song, because in my head I could hear the rest of the song. So we’d start showing our managers and A&R guys these songs [that were] halfway recorded because we would be excited, and they would be like, “Maybe we need to get them a producer.” And we would be like, ”No! [laughs] No, we are not going to work with a producer!” So that was a learning lesson for us. If you let those people in when the song isn’t quite finished, it can get a little hairy. It made it kind of tougher to just focus on recording. Yeah, so many other opinions and concerns. Tyler We’re all super-opinionated people in this band. CHECK RVAMAG.COM DAILY

Jon There was no shortage of ideas on this record. We were considering working with a producer, we had a list of people we could work with. At first we thought it’d be cool, but when we started writing these songs in our practice space we were like, “There’s already enough cooks in the kitchen, one more guy who has a name and an ego is going to ruin this.” It’s like, “Give us a producer when we have played so many shows together that we don’t even want to talk to each other anymore.” Fifth record in, when no one is talking to each other, that’s when we get a producer. [laughs] Tyler But on the back end of the record, it felt fresh to have someone come in and mix it. I really believe in making a record with one person and then take it to another person to finish it. A fresh set of ears. Tyler You’re so in the bubble that you can’t look at the music as a whole piece, because you listen to the part you labored over for months and months in each song. So when you take

those songs to someone else, they don’t know the process of what’s in front of them. So then, they can really bring things out in an unbiased way in the songs. I think the songs really opened up when we brought them to Peter. So you have been really happy with where the process has ended? Jon There were growing pains as well. The way that Peter works with mixing is he first mixes in and does post production things. Like, if there are cracks or left-open spaces, he’s hearing something. Sometimes we’d tell him, “No, leave that there, we meant to do that,” and other times it’s like, “Okay, I see that. Let’s try something else.” So it was nice to have him as a fresh set of ears mixing the record. But also, if we wanted to utilize him as a producer, we could. And we did, from time to time. But yeah, there were definitely some growing pains in there, because the first two or three songs, we were like, “This is not it, this is not our direction.” But that was three days into working with someone we had never really met before, and we had never worked with. It kind of took 23


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three or four weeks for me to trust that we were working with the right guy. Tyler We were only in there for three weeks! [laughs] So you gotta make that decision quick! Jon I have to be honest--I was terrified that whole time. Tyler I was not terrified at all. As soon as I did hear those first couple songs, I was like, “This is what we sound like live. This is what we sound like when we play a big room.” It’s kind of more bombastic, less dry and muted. As soon as he started livening up the mixes is when I got really stoked. I’ve always been into diving headfirst into something new. You’ve got people on the back end who you have to bring forward. If there is no energy on the front, then that would never happen, and if there is nobody pulling back, then we would go too far. It’s a delicate balance. You guys did a lot of press for the last album, going on different shows and such, but it seems like there’s a real set plan on how you’re doing PR for this record. Is this exciting for you, or kind of nerve racking? Jon This is the part of being in a band that I pay little attention to, in all honesty. I think if I was in a band with less involved and knowledgeable people, I’d be screwed, because I just don’t pay attention to things like that. You kind of have blinders on? Jon I just focus on writing songs and performing well. In terms of following the managers on the trajectory of the record for the next two years, Tyler loves stuff like that. He’s such a business oriented brain. Josiah [Johnson], the other songwriter in the band, is also really good at that. It’s just one of my weaknesses, not one of my strengths. That’s something I’m curious about, so I’ll check in from time to time, but we trust each other so much that Josiah is like my barometer. If he thinks something isn’t a good idea, I’ll start to pay more attention, but if he’s good with it, then I just try what he’s doing. And totally not in this apathetic way--I just trust their decision-making. We have a chemistry, and a strong relationship, and you just start to trust in your bandmates, figure out what our roles are, and sometimes, know when to step back. For me, I trust the people involved in that, it’s all in good taste and we’re all on the same page. But yes, there does seem to be a grand scheme behind the push for this record. It’s fun and exciting to think about. There’s legitimate things that are going to be happening in front of this record that’s coming out, but as I said, that’s not the part of band life that I tend to latch on to. It’s like you are on a moving train and you can’t really stop it. Jon I know it’s going to go there anyway, so I might as well get on.

we were all fresh new buddies, and the world was full of bliss.

Was that a wild feeling to look out and be in this role and situation?

The new album does seem to have heavier themes to it. Some of them were upbeat, but there is one song that was inspired by the Connecticut Sandy Hook shootings. It shows a maturity not just in the band, but in your own personalities and what you’re thinking about.

Jon It’s funny, I was at Sticky Rice a few nights ago with my date, and these two girls came up to me and they were like, “Sorry to bother you or be weird, but aren’t you in that band Head and the Heart?” and they wanted a picture. I did the picture, and that was fine. And then I was talking to my date--“This is so awkward, I’m having dinner with you and these girls come up for a picture,” and my date said, “No, that’s really awesome. You worked at Subway for two years and had been living on couches, and now you come home and people want to take a picture with you. That’s a pretty big leap.”

Jon I almost didn’t want to show anybody that song, because I’m not a person who typically tries to write about such a specific thing. It’s just not one of my strengths. But even when you listen to that song, it’s not obvious that that’s what it’s about. I remember working on it, and had half of the song. I showed it to Josiah, and I was like, “Is this too out there for me? or far from what I normally do?” [And he said,] “Naw, I love these lyrics.” Did you feel very vulnerable? Jon Yeah, it’s about something so real. People went through this, and it was so fucked up that you don’t want to misconstrue it, and you don’t want it to make it seem trivial or petty. You don’t want to fuck with that. That’s why I tried to keep it vague. But Josiah helped me work out the lyrics and basically made me feel like, “This is a good song, we should definitely play this.” It’s now one of my favorite songs we did on the record. It was one of the easiest ones we wrote. We had written and recorded it in two hours. Basically, I was in the booth, and then everyone came in and picked up their instruments, and it sort of just wrote itself. Other songs we did over and over again, but this one was just like, “There it is.” I’ve seen you guys perform a few times--you played to a great crowd at Friday Cheers. Jon That was awesome. It was like something out of a movie, man.

When I heard the first album, it just seemed like you guys were excited to be a band and excited about life and just grabbing at it. The whole record felt like something you’d listen to driving cross country into a new adventure.

When you told everyone that you had roots in Richmond, it felt like the crowd got even warmer to the band. What is that like? You used to work as a waiter in Richmond for a few years…

Jon We had all just moved to a new city, and

Jon I worked at Subway in Cary Court for like two years, man; living out of my car.

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That’s great. You are doing really amazing work and people appreciate it. What are you most excited about in the next year? Jon I can’t wait to play these songs out, because I really love these songs. I’m so proud of what we did with these songs. Some of these songs I’ve had [since] before we started touring on the last record. They were written after we recorded the first record, and we didn’t have any money [to record them]. The rest of them have just been written over the course of the last three years. For so long, they were just acoustic songs, and now they’ve been worked out and have full band arrangements around them. They’re just more relevant to our lives now. The older songs were really relevant at the time--we wrote about what we were living in, and these new songs are about what we’re now living in. I’m looking forward to conveying new convictions and connecting with people on these new songs. You meet so many people who give you a completely different perspective on a song. You had no intention of trying to say this specific thing in this one song to them or to anybody. You didn’t really see it that way, and then they will be like, “Oh, this song to me means this.” And I’m like “That’s crazy, it has nothing to do with that.” But it doesn’t matter; that’s awesome. It’s doing something positive for me in this way that I could never have imagined, and I’m just excited to see that happen with these new songs. www.theheadandtheheart.com

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@scribble_seeker

THE RICMOND MURAL PROJECT Once again this year our friends at DC’s Art Whino Gallery along with the help of RVA Magazine brought a collection of new large-format murals by artists from around the world to the streets of Richmond. The 2013 Richmond Mural Project mixes work from previous visitors like Angry Woebots and GAIA, both of whom participated in Art Whino’s 2012 G40 Art Summit, with newcomers like Australia’s Stormie Mills, California’s Andrew Hem, and Argentina’s Ever. In fact, Polish duo Etam Cru, whose mural on W. Grace St earned shoutouts from HiFructose Magazine and Buzzfeed, came to the US for the first time in order to contribute to the Richmond Mural Project. With all of these amazing murals and high-profile artists in town, Richmond is establishing itself as one of the most artistically focused cities in the United States--and RVA Magazine is doing our part to keep it that way. Thank you to the City Of Richmond, Mayor Dwight Jones, Mr. Byron Marshall, Peter Chapman, Ken Johnson, Venture Richmond and Altria for making this project possible. Special thanks to Anoa Monsho! More information at richmondmuralproject.wordpress.com On instagram at #richmondmuralproject @artwhino @rvamag

@duncanrillustrator

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@artwhino

@senorita_tarango

@rdermer

@makebelieveartist

@rvamag

@purlscout RVA MAGAZINE 14 FALL 2013


2501

927 West Grace Street

Andrew Hem

14 South 15th Street

Angry Woebots 110 North 18th Street 311 West Broad Street 2416 West Cary Street 807 Oliver Hill Way 825 West Cary Street

Aniekan Udolfia 205 East Marshall Street 535 North 2nd Street

Aryz

@woes

@artwhino

109 North 17th Street 1506 West Main Street

Gaia

11 West Grace Street 2 North Rowland Street

Greg Mike

821 West Cary Street 2416 West Cary Street 2600 West Main Street

Etam CRU

1011 West Grace Street

EVER

534 North Harrison Street 2416 West Cary Street

Jaz

212 West Broad Street 2400 West Main Street 309 North Laurel Street @smittyfatstack

@stormiemills

Kelly Towles

2929 West Cary Street (inside Don’t look back)

La Padilla

17 West Marshall Street

Lelo

1711 East Main Street 2403 West Broad Street 414 West Broad Street

Natalia Rak

2103 West Main Street

Pixel Pancho

112 North 18th Street 1202 North Hull Street 1821 East Main Street 9 West Grace Street @hamoodashami

@purlscout

Roa

11 South 18th Street 1501 West Main Street

Scribe

140 West Clay Street 315 West Broad Street

Sonni

2907 West Cary Street

Stormie mills

300 West Broad Street 3336 North Boulevard 203 North Lombardy Street 105 South Addison Street 2107 West Main Street 2416 West Cary Street 821 West Cary Street Secret Location

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@impoeticstance 27


“The other thing I love is meeting other artists. Like the Etam Cru, like holy shit, man. I really look up to those cats, those cats go big and beautiful. They do dope work.” - Angry Woebots (Hawaii)

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photos by Marc Schmidt

RVA MAGAZINE 14 FALL 2013


“I gotta tell you, this is amazing. Richmond is the perfect melting pot. It has a taste of almost the entire east coast. You feel New York here, you feel Philly here, you feel Baltimore, and so on. And the other thing I love about Richmond, is the murals. I’ve seen so many murals, and it’s not just like one that I’m working on through Art Whino, but the local artist and all kinds of styles on every corner. Another thing I love is the hand painted signs. That seems like a cultural thing here, I love it. Originally, I’m from Nigeria, so that was a big thing. We used to have shops and that was a thing. I saw that here, and it’s like that culture and maintaining it. I love it.“ - Aniekan Udolfia (Washington, DC)

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“The bigger, the better. It’s more exciting. Not nervous. It’s nice to make a bigger wall.” - Sainer, Etam Cru (Poland)

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“I’m not sure if they still do it, but when I was a kid at a fair you could win a goldfish. I read this thing once about this guy who wrote an article in the New Yorker about the same thing and how he got a goldfish for his child and it’s one of the most simple ways children learn about life and death. The goldfish are pretty hardy fish, but their life is still fragile and when they actually die is when I guess parents talk to their children about how everything dies and why certain people aren’t around or whatever, and explain life and death. I think for me, the idea of a goldfish is a really good metaphor for fragility of life.” - Stormie Mills (Australia)

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“You know I want to be like…so famous, that I can live on selling my canvases. Most artists become famous after they die, but I want to live a normal life, and have my art be my job. I know it will take some time, maybe 10 years, but I will keep trying. Artists all have the same life; it’s hard to start out, you have a shitty job, but you stay focused on your work. It’s always the same road, the same way, it’s normal. I just want to lead a normal life, doing what I love.” - Natalia Rak (Poland)

“Because of the nature of this festival, anything that gets close to being controversial or explores a history... they only want historical things that are not contested. Like tubing down the river, versus talking about this being the seat of the Confederacy and heritage vs hatred, and justification of a place and what that means politically. And how that changes the demographic, and then how that actually changes the face of Richmond. The larger VCU gets, the more liberal this place will become, the more almost-nullified its past will be and the more of an aesthetic experience it will be, versus an actual cultural value.” - GAIA (Baltimore MD)

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“You know, I’m actually scared of heights. So this wall kind of freaks me out, and it’s not even that high. If I could do it, I’d love to try, but I don’t know if I could use a boom lift or if I could handle the height.” - Andrew Hem (Los Angelos, CA) RVA MAGAZINE 14 FALL 2013


“Street art and graffiti is the biggest art movement ever. Think about all the people all over the globe who are pushing this similar movement. There’s never been an art movement that united. It’s global. You have different styles and different movements, but nothing where there are this many artists traveling all over the globe painting all these walls in different countries. Like, these cats [Etam Cru] just came from Poland. It’s their first time in the states and they’re just like smashing these huge walls. It’s crazy. That’s the beauty of the internet.” -Greg Mike (Atlanta, GA)

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PIG DESTROYER by Addison heron-wheeler

Ever since their inception in 1997, Pig Destroyer

throughout their career, they have maintained the

have been a band that breaks down genre barriers,

same harsh momentum that they’ve had since day

reinvents themselves on each new album, and

one--which is why, to the outsider, their music can

generally doesn’t give a damn what people think of

often sound like a bunch of blasting and screaming.

them. Starting out in the DIY underground scene, playing small sweaty shows in DC and Baltimore,

Recently, I got the chance to talk with Blake Harrison

the bassless grindcore trio spent their first few years

about the new album, his role in the band, the recent

producing the aggressive but somehow catchy

addition of drummer Adam Jarvis from Misery Index,

and memorable mess that is 2000’s compilation

electronic music, punk rock, and so much more. Don’t

of early material, 38 Counts of Battery. Their

miss the chance to see them at the GWAR-B-Q--it’s

breakthrough came when they signed to Relapse in

not every day that Pig Destroyer plays a pool party.

2001 and released the brutal, nightmarish, art-metal of Prowler in the Yard. Since then, from the further

Your new album, Book Burner, seems a little

artistic explorations of Terrifyer (2004) to the groovy

closer to the ferocity and thrashiness of Terrifyer

Phantom Limb (2007) and finally, to their most

and Prowler in the Yard, a little different from the

recent, straightforward grind album, Book Burner,

grooviness of Phantom Limb. How do you guys

Pig Destroyer always have a fresh approach to their

feel about the album and how it’s been received

music. However, they also consistently manage to

by fans? And how do you personally feel about it,

maintain all the signature elements that make them

as your second album with the band? Well, we

great: the harsh hardcore vocals, the haunting lyrics,

wanted to make a kind of more stripped-down,

and the unusual arrangements and awesome riffing

nastier grindcore record. Like you were saying,

by guitarist Scott Hull.

Phantom Limb was a little groovier, so we wanted to make this a little nastier and I think we’ve

They’ve also never been a band to shy away from

achieved it. The reception has been amazing so

change and the unusual--they put some flowery

far. I think it’s our fastest selling record so far--not

John Dyer Baisley artwork on the cover of Phantom

our highest-selling, but still. Personally, this album

Limb. Vocalist JR Hayes’ literary experiments have

is a bit nearer and dearer to my heart. I’m an old

included a short story packaged with the deluxe

school grind kid; I like it fast and raw, you know?

version of Book Burner and a longform lyrical

Maybe you wanna edit that, that sounds a little

poem to accompany the twenty-minute doom track

sexual. [laughs] But really, that’s what I like. It’s

“Natasha,” which made up a bonus disc on Terrifyer.

grindcore; that’s the way it’s gotta be.

In 2006, they even grew to a quartet by adding Blake There was a big gap between Book Burner and

Harrison on electronics and samples.

Phantom Limb. What have you all been doing It seems that the overarching theme throughout

in the meantime, and why was there such a big

Pig

embracing

gap between records? That’s the million dollar

experimentation without sacrificing integrity. Scott

Destroyer’s

career

has

been

question. We took some time off, to build a studio

Hull briefly played in Anal Cunt and loves punk rock,

in [Scott’s] house, where we practice. So that took

but isn’t afraid to use electronics in Pig Destroyer

a while, for us to play some shows and actually

and his other currently active project, Agoraphobic

generate some income for that. And we had some

Nosebleed. He has even released a solo electronic

false starts with our drummer at the time, Brian

album. Blake Harrison is the former vocalist for

Harvey, so we kind of parted ways with him. Then

Maryland noise-rockers Triac and played guitar in

we had to get a new drummer, write some new

late 90s grindcore project Daybreak, but now he

material, etc. So it seems like we weren’t doing

moonlights in a shoegaze band. JR Hayes has gone

much, but we were constantly working. It did take

from simply screaming angry punk lyrics to producing

a considerable amount of time, but we tried to

a plethora of poetic lyrical material, and is in the final

kind of veer off the Phantom Limb path as much

stages of completing a novel. With all this personal

as we could.

growth going on, it’s no surprise that the band keeps experimenting with their sound, and that no two Pig Destroyer albums have sounded alike. Still,

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I know you can’t really speak for JR, but I’ve always

friends with them forever, so you know, I kind of

been a really big fan of his lyrics, and I’m curious

jumped up and down when they asked me.

since he has such a cool writing style, does he have any plans to publish any poetry or any prose

As far as songwriting goes, I get in there when

without it being part of a record? You know, I

everything is mostly written. With Phantom

have answered this question a hundred times, so

Limb, I didn’t have a whole lot of time or space

yeah, I can answer it. I don’t know if he has plans

to add stuff. I had a little more leeway with Book

to release it, but he is close to finishing his novel.

Burner, and now our process has kind of changed.

He’s been working on it for a number of years,

I don’t want to shit all over their music and ruin it.

so last time I checked in, which wasn’t too long

Whenever I add something, I want to be careful

ago, he said he was a few chapters away from

not to stomp all over vocals or a riff, just because

actually finishing it. As far as his releasing it, I’m

I feel like I need to add something. And to anyone

not really sure. I do know that he typed it on a

who says I don’t really do anything, well, I get to

typewriter [laughs]. He kind of shies away from

travel the world and make music with my best

most technology.

friends, so I’m perfectly happy. [laughs] I still have to have timing, I have to have a rhythm--I’m

What is the songwriting process like with JR?

still playing music. It’s actually more challenging,

Does he write the songs separately and then

because you have to get the right rhythm and

match it to the music you’ve written, or does he

timing and structure; sometimes I work on stuff

write stuff for the songs after he hears them? Or

over and over until I want to beat my head into the

is it a collaboration? It’s a little bit of the first two

wall. [laughs] And then when I hear something

things you said. Mostly it starts with Scott; he’ll

in a movie, or walk by an air conditioner or

do scratch drums, scratch guitars, and present

something like that, I’ll try to grab that, I’ll try to

them to us, and we will rearrange them slightly.

work it in. But just like anything, you can’t work it

For the most part we don’t really mess with it too

in where it doesn’t belong.

much--although Adam certainly has the freedom to do whatever he wants with the drums. Then, JR

Going back to the new record, it seems like you

will either have an idea of what he wants for that

went back to your roots musically and conceptually.

particular song, or there’s times where he just

I know you guys started out politically focused,

picks stuff that he has written. JR writes when the

and then it got taken in the direction of obsession

bug bites him, you know. Then I come in and put

and more personal topics than political. But now,

my loops all over the place. So, that’s the basic

between the political lyrics on the new record and

songwriting process.

the bonus tracks of punk covers, which are really similar to some of the early stuff that’s collected on

I know a lot of electronic music producers and DJs,

Painter of Dead Girls, what prompted this whole

and I know that a lot of work goes into sampling,

‘back to the punk roots’ thing? We tend to not

but within the metal community, there’s this weird

pay too much attention to criticism. We kind of

resistance to the whole electronic thing. [Blake

write what we want to write. A lot of people loved

laughs] Do you ever run into that? And also, how

and hated Phantom Limb, a lot of people loved and

involved are you in the songwriting process? What

hated Terrifyer. Terrifyer was a more arty-style

exactly is it that you do for the band? Well, I have a

record, and Phantom Limb was a lot thrashier and,

sampler, and my rig is constantly changing. I have

like you said, groovy. And when we talked about

a couple loop pedals. I just bought this thing that

what direction we should have when we started

isn’t gonna be here till Friday, it’s like a tabletop

writing [Book Burner], we wanted something

synth. But yeah, it is kind of looked down on in the

stripped-down and easy. We wanted to make

metal community, and it is what it is, you know.

an album that was short and to-the-point, just

If you really look at some of the earlier grindcore

a pure grindcore record. As for the cover EP, we

bands, like Godflesh or Napalm Death, they have

were kind of tossing around ideas for bonus stuff,

[electronics] on their records. There was a point

and it got a little out of control, actually. [laughs]

in [Pig Destroyer] where they wanted to add

I think everybody contributed five songs, and I

something else, and they wanted to add me. I

probably picked twenty, so we definitely had to

screamed for a band before, and I played guitar

pare it down. But yeah. punk is definitely one of

in a band, so it was a new experience for me.

our biggest influences, and I wanted kids to get

Honestly, I think I’m still finding my way a little

into that and discover that. I wouldn’t be here if

bit. Someone who is really familiar with electronic

I didn’t listen to Black Flag, so I wanted to do a

producing may have been a little better suited,

Black Flag cover. Then it got really out of control,

but I’ve been with the band forever and been

and we just decided we needed to focus on American hardcore punk.

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Everyone that I’ve talked to in Richmond is super

Adam Jarvis seems to fit in really well with you

excited that you guys are playing the GWAR-B-Q,

guys. Since he has the background of Misery Index

but I feel like since I’ve been living in Richmond, you

it’s no surprise that he can keep up, but it also

guys don’t play down here as often. [laughs] The

seemed like he fit in really well with the chemistry

really simple answer is we all have day jobs, Scott

of the band. How is it going with him, and what is

and JR are both married, and Scott has two kids.

it like having him in the band? It’s been great. He

So it’s not necessarily Richmond--we don’t play

came in and got right to work. We were a little bit

that much anyway. I think this year is probably

concerned that there might be some scheduling

the most we’ve ever played, ever. We just kind of

conflicts between Misery Index and us, but so far,

do stuff that’s offered to us; we pick and choose.

it’s worked out amazingly. We’re actually doing a

The GWAR-B-Q just sounded like a lot of fun, and

few days in Europe coming up. He’s great, has a

the timing was right. A lot of times we get offers

great personality, and he’s an awesome drummer.

for shows that sound awesome, and we just can’t

I’m not even sure that we could have written the

do it. There’s a wedding, there’s a birthday, this or

record that we did without him. Him being able to

that. I know that doesn’t seem very punk [laughs],

play the way he plays definitely contributed a lot

but you know, it’s how our lives are. And honestly,

to the way Book Burner turned out.

I’d like to get to Richmond and play something that’s not a festival show. Festivals are great, and

Besides Pig Destroyer, what else do you have going

there’s always a good audience, but honestly we

on musically? Do you have any electronic projects

like the more intimate, sweaty, violent, noisy punk

that you’re working on? I’ve kind of got a couple

show. Don’t you all have a new venue down there

things that I work on here and there. I’ve got

for punk shows--the old Nanci Raygun? What’s it

another band that may never see the light of day.

called now, Strangeland?

I was playing guitar in it, now I’m playing bass in it. It’s kind of more of a shoegaze-y type of band.

It’s Strange Matter, but yeah, they get a ton of

And then I have a couple electronic things that

punk shows.

I work on. I do some noise/ambient type stuff, but I don’t know if I ever plan on releasing it. It’s

Yeah. We’d love to play there when we get a

kind of hard for me to judge that kind of stuff,

chance.

because you know, it’s noise music, and I feel like it at least needs to have some sort of merit.

I always feel like you guys are really on-point

Since I’m the one that makes it, I don’t want to

and ferocious with your live shows. Like if you’re

put stuff out there and then people are like, “This

having a bad time you just channel it into your

freakin blows, man!” [laughs] So I haven’t really

performance, rather than have an off night. I was

played it for too many people. It hasn’t really been

just wondering if you agree with that assessment,

completed--it’s like three separate projects that

and how do you guys pull that off. Absolutely not.

have been buried in various stages of completion.

You definitely haven’t seen us on an off night.

So, we’ll see. [laughs]

[laughs] It’s kind of strange--since we’ve been playing a lot more, I feel like we’ve been playing a

Last question: what can we expect from Pig

lot better as a cohesive unit, but there were times

Destroyer in the future? Do you plan to do another

when we started playing together after taking

album? What else is going on with you guys? We

such a long break that things were a little rough. I

are working on a song currently, that should be

think we’ve tightened up a lot since then. I just kind

finished Sunday, for Adult Swim, the TV network.

of try to approach it like I know the kind of show

And we’re going to be doing a couple shows

I’d like to see, so I try to do that for the people who

in Europe. I think we’re heading to Hopscotch

come see us. We’re not the Dillinger Escape Plan,

in North Carolina, a horror festival in Texas,

so we’re not gonna go super crazy--we just kind

something for Pitchfork. Then we are going to

of do what we do and have fun doing it. I feel like

work on a grind EP. So probably not a full-length

if we give as much as we can of our energy, then

right away, but there will be an EP in-between.

usually we get that back. We’ve definitely had

Scott has a lot of Agoraphobic Nosebleed stuff to

some bad ones, maybe just a higher percentile of

write, so that does take up a lot of his time. I think

good ones since we never play. [laughs]

that’s it, but we’ve definitely got some stuff going on right now that will keep us pretty busy. www.facebook.com/TheRealPigDestroyer

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Christian Hewett CHECK RVAMAG.COM DAILY

He lives it and shoots it. Making something dope out of nothing; no words necessary.

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41


Brandi Strickland BY KRISTINA HEADRICK

Brandi Strickland makes collages whose aesthetic cannot be pinpointed. An art historian’s attempt to describe her work would ultimately fail. After hours of perusing her blog and website, I found it hard to believe that not only so many pieces, but in such a variety of styles, were created by an artist still in her 20s.

Though I was mesmerized by her works, I had a nebulous understanding of how she made them. I was shocked to hear that the majority, many so detailed that I assumed them to be digitally constructed, are made by hand. Strickland accidentally fell into mixed media collage by way of journaling. She didn’t set out to make this her “thing,” but the trajectory of her career speaks to the magic of letting small hobbies unfold into boundless passions. Titles such as “Dreaming Room” or “False Door” provide cryptic backdrops for each series. Strickland’s interest in writing is reflected in thought out titles. Names for individual pieces, such as “Fractal Field,” make the viewer intimately aware of the artist’s headspace. These varied series explore the folds of and depths of consciousness. Many beg the eyes to explore interlocking painterly strokes and kaleidoscopic abstractions, as if part of a “Where’s Waldo?” collection. Others are bold, geometric explorations, and still others are startlingly simple. Strickland is primarily at the mercy of found objects, parameters that differ from the brush and palette.

to be able to do more for less. We stayed until our lease was up, and then we moved out here to Floyd. How’s Floyd? We really like it. We had never heard of it until we started living in Richmond. We wanted to move somewhere in Virginia, and we were hoping to find someplace kind of rural because we wanted to get our expenses down and change our lifestyle, so it would be easier to manage. We drove out here to view this place and we really liked it, so we just took it. It was the first place we saw. We’ve been here almost two years. Do you like doing stuff outdoors? Is that an important thing for youa? I wouldn’t say I’m a hiker or kayaker or anything like that. But I like to garden and just hang out outside. When did you start making visual art? I started sometime during high school. I kept journals when I was young, like 12, 13, 14. I started cutting stuff out of magazines. I didn’t think it was artistic at all--I just thought it was my journal. In high school I took photography classes, and I got into my art because of my photography classes. By the time I signed up for college, I wasn’t dead set on studying art, but it was between art and writing. The school I wanted to go to, Queens

We chatted about her multifaceted background-appropriate for someone who makes collages-current projects, and most importantly, the process behind her varied visual works. Where are you from? North Carolina. When I was young I grew up in Clinton, North Carolina, which is in the Eastern part of the state. Sometime during middle school, I moved to Charlotte and I lived [there] the whole time I was in middle and high school. I went to college there. I stayed there all the way until we moved to Richmond. Why did you move to Richmond? We were kind of burned out on Charlotte. We had been there for so long. My boyfriend or my partner is a web developer and it didn’t really matter where he worked because everything he does is connected to the computer. By that point I was doing pretty well with my artwork and I realized it didn’t really matter where I lived either. We had spent a long time checking out different cities and figuring out where we wanted to be. I don’t know how we settled on Richmond, but we started looking into it. I heard good things about VCU, and I was thinking about getting my MFA and I knew they had a program for that. Not long after we got there, our priorities really shifted, and I realized I didn’t care about having a MFA, or at least not now. We really liked Richmond, but we wanted

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University, had a program for both that was decent. I chose art once I was there because I really liked the professors and the art program. You were making collages before, but just for fun, totally unaware that what you were doing might be perceived as an art form. Exactly, because I started doing that when I was 12. My mom actually wanted me to get rid of all the magazines that I had, and I wanted to take stuff out of them before I got rid of them. I had a big reckoning one day where I cut all the stuff out of my magazines before I had to put them on the curb, and I guess it started from there. There’s an artist I found--her book was at one of the bookstores near my house. Her name is Sabrina Ward Harrison, and I found her work after I started making those cheap ball collages. She inspired me to look at it in a different way. Tell me what you are working on now. Are you still making collages, and are they made entirely by hand like the cutouts you did as a teen? I’d say 98% of my work I do by hand. Over this past winter, I started tinkering around at photoshop. I started because when I scan my work I have to adjust it, crop it, and make sure it looks like it does on paper. I started playing around with filters and stuff. I would not say that I know what I’m doing with Photoshop by any stretch, but I started having fun. I would scan stuff, and then I would mess with it and photoshop it. Over the winter, when you’re trapped inside for months, it’s a really good release. Plus it’s cheap. You don’t have to buy boards or paper. I really like doing variations on a theme, like 15 versions of one collage with slightly different colors and stuff. I get stuck in a rut with the things I reach for, and the colors I am drawn to. Photoshop opened my mind about some of that. Most of my

work is just glued with gel medium, clippings, construction paper and that sort of thing. I’m looking at the series called Seed Stone and this first painting... there’s so much going on. Is all of that cut out individually? How did you do it? That’s one of my most ambitious pieces. When I started that one I used a bigger board than what I normally buy. I think it’s 18X18 or 16X16. If you’re going through a magazine, the pieces you are going to cut out are all fairly small. It’s hard to make a collage on a gigantic scale because your source material is dainty. I started cutting out really tiny people, people that were a quarter of an inch tall. I just saved a huge pile of stuff. I started working on the background, like the setting, the sky, the buildings, and just filled it in. I haven’t made another one like that. It was kind of an one-off. But I should, I really like the maximum density. I noticed that one looks more like a drawing than a lot of your other pieces. That one actually has no paint or anything in it. It’s 100% collage. The amount of art on your site shows that you’re a prolific visual artist. What is your routine like? Do you make something almost every day? For one, I think collage lends itself to a rapid pace. It’s not like an oil painting where it takes days, weeks, months to dry. I go through phases. Sometimes I won’t work for a month and won’t make anything or hardly anything. Then the pile shifts and I’ll be going crazy every night for a couple months. It seems to come and go. I try not to force it if I’m not into it. I try to give it time if I feel like it’s happening for me. I just really like making work and I try to work on something until I am really happy with it. I don’t put a lot of stuff away that I’m not crazy about. How often do you find yourself doing freehand drawing or painting? Since I kind of go in phases or waves... sometimes I’ll have my sketchbook nearby, and every night for a couple of weeks I’ll do some drawing. I feel like certain times of the year I can control my pen well, and when I’m drawing I’m really pleased with what I’m doing and it’s a good thing. There are other phases where every time I pick up a pen or a pencil, I just hate what I make. It usually goes in waves. I’ll do a lot of drawing or a lot of painting, and then I’ll step back. You said you got into art by way of photography classes in high school. Do you ever incorporate your own photographs into your pieces, or primarily found photographs? It is primarily found photographs. I have used some of my own... I do take photographs still. But in high school we had film and we used a darkroom, and especially in some of my earlier work I would use some lithograph strips or prints that didn’t look good in collages. In 2009-11 I had a printer that was nice, and when I had that I was able to take some of my work, print it, cut it out, and use it. But those were the exceptions, not the rules. I would like to though. If I had access to printing a little easier, I think I would really like to do that.

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With the possibility of so many different types media to combine, I wonder how you decide where your energies should go? It’s also a thing about economy. Collage is a good medium for people who don’t have a lot of money to put [into] it. A tube of really nice oil paint might be $30. A stack of magazines would be like $3. If I had been extremely wealthy and could have all of the materials when I was younger, I doubt collage would have been my focus. But I’m glad it happened the way that it did because now that I’ve been doing it, it is fulfilling. That’s the magic of it too. It just sort of happened and evolved into this really cool thing for you, a very personal conglomeration of interests. Even in college, I studied a lot of other stuff. You had to take oil painting classes, and photos. I enjoyed it all but it didn’t feel like a shoe that fit. Do you ever feel a sense of sensory overload, and perhaps find that collage is the best means of organizing what’s in your head? In our time there is just so much information and so much media that you feel like it’s attacking you. It’s interesting to take control over it and do what you want with the images being forced on you. I definitely think everything I do is self-therapy. It’s something you feel like you need to do for your own individual health, and it is also really rewarding when you can share it or have other people enjoy it too. How important is the theme of a series to you? Do you think of a theme first, or does a theme come to you later? I think it’s usually the work first. I start doing the work and assign meaning to it as I’m working. I think about what it is and what its message might be. A lot of times I don’t think about the title of the series or the piece until they’ve been finished for awhile. I’ll put something aside for a couple of months, and then I’ll be like, “Oh, this is what I should call it.” When I’ve thought about it before, it seems like when you’re dreaming you don’t know what it means, but later when you’re thinking about it you make connections and realize there might have been a message there. It’s more like that. I think occasionally I have thought about an idea first, but that’s much more rare. Some of the most recent things you did, such as the digital manipulation of solid shapes, is so cool. Very pastel and neon. What inspired this particular series? If you go further back on my blog, a year or two ago, I found a couple of programs online like Lunatic, PiZap, Blingee of course. I could take some of the images that I had made in collage, and it was like Photoshop for idiots. You’re able to change how it looks, adjust the colors. I got really into that. I would make a thousand versions of one collage. My hard drive was full of all these different variations. So I started playing around more with pastels at that time, because it wouldn’t be something I would reach for in the studio. But when you’re doing low commitment, low cost, you’re not wasting a board, you’re not wasting any of your supplies. You can just adjust it on your computer. Anyway, a long time ago I made a bunch of animations of some crystals and they were all pastel like the colors you were talking about. I’ve been sort of fascinated with that pallette ever since. I’ve made 44

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a lot of stuff that’s in that color realm. But it’s in my digital work; I haven’t really done it in my hand-cut collage. Those colors weren’t common in magazines and stuff. Do you exhibit all over or primarily in Virginia? I don’t think I’ve ever exhibited in Virginia. I’ve been quiet since we moved here. I guess when I lived in Charlotte, I showed in Charlotte a lot, because I knew people from college and I knew friends around. Before we moved, people started getting in touch and I would mail [work] out to shows elsewhere. That’s the funny thing, too. Almost all of my shows I’ve just mailed the work-I haven’t actually been at the show. I would like to show in Virginia but it’s been a phase of getting my bearings... it’s been transitional.

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Are you part of any artist groups of collectives? Does that play a role in your work? I’m a member of the WAFA collective (wearefuckingawesome. org). They are primarily collagists, but there’s a musician and some people practice graphic design. They are really, really amazing people. I guess I connected with them in 2009, 2010. It’s just a small group, I think there’s maybe 10 of us. It’s been international, people have come and gone, but it’s pretty close-knit. It’s not like any visiting group or anything like that. What do you think of making and sharing art in this crazy digital era? Do you think things are moving more towards pushing art on a blog or a website, vs. an actual gallery setting? It’s sort of a double-edged sword. You’re definitely able to find and connect with your people more

[online]. There’s a deep niche of people who are dedicated to the same stuff you are. On the flip side of it, it’s hard to do everything yourself. You watch documentaries and you hear about how galleries and artists partnered in the past, and I sort of fantasize about someone photographing my artwork for me. Or paying to ship it back to me, whatever the chivalrous gallery of the past would do. Strickland’s works can be seen on Brandistrickland. com and purchased via Paperwhistle.com. She also udates her personal blog on the reg: brandistrickland.com/blog

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Pedals On Our Pirate Ships BY Shannon Cleary

photo by jake cunningham

There isn’t anyone quite like Matt Seymour in Richmond. A wisecracking ace of a songwriter who practices DIY values that could seem outdated to outsiders, he has been a part of this musical community for more than a decade, and his dedication has never waned. He lives for moments spent in sweaty basements with a dozen kids screaming along to every word. He’s a romantic that sees the journey on the road as a testimonial to the reasons he picked up a guitar in the first place. In his role as the core of Pedals on Our Pirate Ships, he has never been more vital to this city’s scene.

of the project came from a song that Seymour had been performing solo. An idyllic punk lullaby about camaraderie and always paying attention to what’s important to you, the song is a code of ethics for what Pedals On Our Pirate Ships would be about in the long run. It’s a song about selfdiscovery and comfort in one’s identity, and it established the foundation for the years to come.

Seymour had been in several musical outfits previously, and those groups both provided lessons and acted as templates for the way he could shape his craft. In 2004, he began to play occasional solo outings, which soon led him to seek a title for the project. “I started playing solo shows under my own name until I got sick of seeing it on flyers all the time,” Seymour explains. “That’s when I decided to start playing under the name Pedals on Our Pirate Ships. And just so everybody knows, I had no idea at the time that the acronym spelled out POOPS. So you can stop asking about that now.” The name 46

When time came to do a proper release, Seymour found himself in a lucky predicament. “As a belated birthday gift, my friend Joe Mager offered to record my solo stuff,” he explains. “He was working with Lance Koehler at Minimum Wage Studios, and had the space for the whole weekend while Lance was out of town. It seemed like a whole weekend was a lot of time for just me, so we decided to make it into a community project that benefited [Richmond] Recycles [Bike Shop].” The roster that eventually made their way to Minimum Wage Studios was impressive, to say the least. It included everybody from Josh Small to Dave Hughes (The Hot Damns) to Tim Barry to Adam Thompson (The OK Bird) to future POOPS members Adrienne Brown and Casey Martin. The self-titled release is full of variety and offers Seymour’s material interpreted in

the most imaginative ways possible. “The whole weekend was an exercise of seeing who would show up and how much of a fun time we could have,” Seymour says. “That was the first time I had met Matt, and I remember showing up not really knowing who anyone was,” says Adrienne Brown. “I had come up with a few harmonies that I wanted to work on and it really meshed well.” Brown’s contributions on that self-titled release can be heard on “Gather Ye Rosebuds” and “Social Segregation,” among others. After the self-titled release, Seymour decided to relocate. With the connections that he started developing, Bloomington, Indiana seemed like a prime location. The home of Plan-It-X Records, it seemed to be a perfect place to interact with similar folk-punk musicians. However, it wasn’t long before he returned to Richmond. “I don’t really want to get into too many details, but I’ll say this much,” Seymour explains. “I think I went there with these idealistic ideas of what was going to happen, and I can’t say that I was wrong doing that, [but] I think I was wrong in setting myself up for that level of disappointment.” Several of the songs that would eventually appear on the next POOPS release, Take Flight, were inspired by this experience. RVA MAGAZINE 14 FALL 2013


After returning to Richmond, Seymour set out to find musicians with which to make Pedals On Our Pirate Ships a full band. Recruiting Jameson Price and Michael Otley, the band completed a short tour. But with a recording session approaching, Seymour still needed to round out the lineup. “After that tour, we had realized that one of the members didn’t work out,” Seymour says. “We were slated to return to Minimum Wage, and I figured, why not call back some of the people from the first album’s session? Adrienne and Casey came in and it worked out great. Thankfully, they were into the sound, and when I asked them to join permanently, they were into it.” This recording session would become Take Flight, and help set the stage for the band’s future. “Goodbye Optimism” encompassed Seymour’s experiences in Bloomington. Despite the very frank dissection of his psyche at the time, it’s easy to see that he derived a certain solace by being honest with himself. It may have acted as a saving grace when it counted the most. The undisputable standout track on Take Flight, though, is “The Ballad of Jonny Z.” A eulogy for a friend (Richmond musician/ artist Jonathan Zanin) who passed too soon, the song describes the deep impact said friend had not only on Seymour, but on the community as a whole. “Jonny meant a tremendous amount to me, and that goes really without saying,” Seymour reflects. “What gets me to this day is how we go on the road and we meet people that knew him. They have their own stories about what he meant to them, and they have their own way of connecting to that song. It’s a telling way of showing how much of a legacy Jonny left behind.” After the release of Take Flight, that lineup of the group slowly dwindled away. With Price eventually departing to go abroad with life partner Laney Sullivan (with whom he later formed Lobo Marino), Martin joining Landmines, and Otley deciding to focus on other aspects of his life, POOPS soon consisted solely of Brown and Seymour. Eventually, though, they found an appropriate counterpart in drummer Louis Cyrtmus. Not only did Cyrtmus have a knack for adding creative drum parts to Seymour’s pop-punk anthems, his sense of harmony fit wonderfully with Brown’s remarkable range. The two created a powerful foundation for Seymour’s dirty delivery, thus allowing the group to take their sound beyond folk-punk and incorporate other genres. Cyrtmus joined the band at a very peculiar stage in their development. “At first, the biggest hurdle for me was learning how to play on the kit that Jameson had constructed,” he says. “With the kick pedal being inside of a trunk that required constant repairs, and the limbs extending from its body holding various other drum essentials, it was something else. It was also a cool point, because it was the time when Pedals was deciding on moving away from CHECK RVAMAG.COM DAILY

the acoustic sound of the earlier records, and really [becoming] a full-on pop-punk band.” “I think that is one of the bigger misconceptions about the band,” Seymour explains. “I know it started with just an acoustic [guitar]. To me, it was always me writing pop-punk songs on that instrument. As I started having more people join the band, the idea of what I always thought Pedals to be started to unveil itself more and more, whether that was through improved songwriting, developed harmonies, or just more instrumentation. It seemed to me that it was always that kind of band, just truncated.” The first release with Cyrtmus was a split with Atlanta, Georgia’s The Wild, on which each participant covered a song by the other band. Pedals On Our Pirate Ships picked The Wild’s “We’ll Drive These Warlords Out,” for several reasons. “It was an easy song to figure out at first, but then once we got to thinking about it, it was a song that fit the attitude of the band,” Seymour recollects. “When we first met them and went on a tour with The Wild, it was this immediate sensation that we wanted to work with them on something down the road,” Brown adds. “We could have easily picked any song from their incredible catalog. Anything off of Set Ourselves Free would have been awesome, but after all was said and done, I’m happy with the song that we decided on.” Meanwhile, The Wild decided to do a rendition of “The Ballad Of Jonny Z,” thereby further adding to Jonny Z’s legacy in the regional community and beyond. After the release of the split, the band finally decided they wanted to fully embrace an electric sound. This required one more component, which they found in bassist Richard Bollinger. “Matt and I were working together at 821 Café at the time, and I got a phone call to come meet him at a party late one night,” Bollinger recalls. “I had just played a show where I felt like the band got stiffed, and I was upset about that,” Seymour explains. “I needed to have a friend nearby, and I gave Richard a call. After sitting around and slugging a few beers, I told him that I needed him in Pedals. I thought that he would be the best one to help round out the lineup and help us get to where we needed to be.” The last acoustic release by the group was the six-song EP No Bad Blood, released in 2011 by Say-10 Records. The EP signified a proper send off from the acoustic sound; it has moments that you can imagine being louder, which was the band’s opinion as well. The time had come to reveal to the world the newest incarnation of Pedals On Our Pirate Ships. This would be done through their third full-length album, A Place To Stay, recorded once again at their home base, Minimum Wage Studios. The pop-punk aesthetic that Seymour had felt was there all along was finally front and center. “Shoot The Hostage” and “Sweet Tragedies,” both first heard on No Bad Blood,

found new life on this release. A Place To Stay is the most fully realized of the group’s releases to this point. Each member fits into the overall dynamic of the group, and there is a confidence to the songwriting. From the declarations found in “Knives” about what keeps everyone invested in their respective scenes, to personal sentiments like “Cupid Baby” and “Side By Side,” this is POOPS at their best. “I think this is the best thing we’ve ever done,” Seymour says. “The experience of recording this with Lance to working with the band and just feeling really comfortable and at home, it all felt great throughout the entire process.” As a reflection to their past, the group included their cover of deceased Richmond musician Nathan Joyce’s “On The Way Home.” Joyce had inspired the title of the previous Pedals album, Take Flight. “Nathan was always an inspiration to me, and we had recorded a cover of that song long ago after he had passed away,” Seymour says. “It felt right to bring that back and find a way to have that exist on a release of ours, considering the impact he had on me and the group in our early days.” Having had a few opportunities to showcase the new record, the band’s future is both exciting and uncertain. “We decided to take the summer off from touring, for the sake of collecting our thoughts and figuring how to move on to the next step,” Seymour states. “I took last summer off to tour with Hold Tight!, and that was amazing, but upon returning my job basically told me that they weren’t down with me doing that again,” Brown adds. Despite the small break, Seymour is optimistic about regrouping for the later months of the year. “What really excites me about right now is that we know we are capable of evolving into different ideas of Pedals,” he says. “It can be just me and Adrienne or me and Louis or Richard, Adrienne and me. I think the true nature and heart of POOPS will always be the four of us together, but in moments like this, I know we can keep performing despite any breaks that any of us might have to take.” As a musician, Seymour has always drawn people towards him. There is a raw, contagious energy to his craft, and it’s why he has been beloved in the local scene for years. Pedals On Our Pirate Ships are no different. They’ve become a fundamental element of the local music scene; an example that many other bands strive for. Their evocation of yesteryear’s pop-punk sound keeps the past alive. At the same time, they provide a distinct voice that will always be quintessentially Seymour. This is why he has been a touring ambassador for Richmond for years, and what has enabled the bands he has been involved with to act as proper representation of our city and its continued history. www.pedalsonourpirateships.com

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The room is stacked to the walls with musical equipment and half-working gear. Drummer Kyle Flanagan adjusts a cracked and scorchedblack ride cymbal with jagged sharp edges; the damaged instrument creates a dull metallic deadness when played. Meanwhile, guitarist Jon Hawkins stands in the corner deftly setting the flashing lights and analog knobs of his myriad of effects pedals, which he calls in and out of their music like a conductor leading a mutant symphony of distorted choral voices. Navi is a band that thrives on innovation and exploration, turning improvisational jams into tight-working songs that hit with precision and free form fluidity, blurring the lines between abject noise and prog-like instrumental acrobatics. “It was our attempt at a punk band, but we’ve both always played technical music,” says Flanagan when asked about the roots of the duo’s highly affected and energetic sound. Hawkins adds, “With Navi, it’s about trying to explore simplicity, to be honest. I always thought this was the simplest thing I’ve ever done, and then people started calling it math rock.”

NAVI

BY ALEX CRIQUI photos by Josiah Bittenbender It’s Saturday night, and through the vacant silence of the warehouses and glowing street lamps of Scott’s Addition comes one of the deepest, most gut-rattling sounds ever heard from an electric guitar. Its immensity is primordial, almost unnaturally low, churning against the smashing of cymbals and throbbing drums that blare through a practice space no bigger than some people’s walk-in closets. It is the sound of the instrumental duo known as Navi, a rare amalgamation of stop-on-a-dime accuracy and high energy abandon that seems way too large and powerful to come from only two human beings.

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It’s clear in conversation and from their music that Navi is a band that enjoys great musical and personal chemistry between the two members, who find common ground in spite of their disparate upbringings and early musical experiences in far flung corners of the state. Jon Hawkins grew up in the sprawling suburbs and strip malls of Northern Virginia, where he cut his musical teeth in a small circle of creative kids that has yielded some notable regional musicians such as Dope Body’s John Jones, Heavy Midgets singer/guitarist John Graham, and Leland Jackson, better known as the Zen alchemist of the beat scene, Ahnnu. “When you’re in an area where there’s not many people who are on the same wavelength as you are, you’re able to find each other and link up,” Hawkins explains. “There’s only a few of you who know this one band that you feel like most people should know about, and those people stand out. And with Kyle and I, it’s kind of the same thing.” For Flanagan, growing up in what he describes as the “big nothing town” of Gloucester, VA led him from playing music casually on his brother’s drum set to an obsession sparked by his discovery, as a reggae-loving adolescent, of acts like Bad Brains and Mars Volta. Both musicians soon found themselves looking for more opportunities to play music outside of their hometowns. Though they arrived years apart, both found the community they were looking for in Richmond. Hawkins spent much of the last five years making his mark as one of the city’s most interesting guitar players, both in the instrumental quartet Field Day and the short-lived experimental trio ROYGBIV. Over the course of his musical evolution, Hawkins has whittled down the size of each new band he’s formed, stripping away instruments and parts while maintaining a fundamental sound and technique that stands out distinctly as his own. When asked whether his musical path towards minimalism was intentional, Hawkins responds, “With Navi, I just figured out a formula that would work with a two-piece, that would fill out a lot of sound. I thought it could be a lot more raw. Once we started playing together, I just thought there was no reason to add another person.” After meeting through a mutual friend and getting together for informal jam sessions, Hawkins and Flanagan soon hit it off. “We

could vibe on jazz, heavy math shit we grew up on, bands like Hawkwind, garage and rock and roll, stuff that Jon turned me on to,” Flanagan says of the duo’s fast-developing musical camaraderie. In fact, Flanagan calls his musical partnership with Hawkins “the reason I moved to Richmond.” “I moved here to start Navi,” he says. “I didn’t know that, that’s tight.” says Hawkins, amused. “I think I told you, but I think we were kind of wasted,” Flanagan replies, and they both erupt in laughter. Less than two years after their formation, Navi has become one of the best bands in the city. The band has honed their deeply impactful live performances for the maximum amount of engagement between themselves and the audience. “Our goal is fun. That’s why we play on the floor. I have a ball when people are falling all over the drum set and going crazy and just losing it,” says Flanagan. “I just want to make it impossible for people to go to our shows and not vibe out,” adds Hawkins. “I’m not sure if we always are able to do that, but we’re trying to get there as much as possible.” Like many bands in the recent generations of emerging Richmond artists, Navi has emerged from the DIY community, relying on free-form creative spaces as venues for the creation of their music. As with most things, the two band members are of one mind on the subject. “Every year, there’s a recycling of new spaces that pop up, and it’s exciting to be there and see that happen,” Hawkins says of the galleries and house shows that have provided Navi with some of their earliest opportunities to perform. “It really bums me out how much energy and money is put into stopping kids from doing that,” Flanagan says. “I mean, this isn’t the worst city in the world, but people get shot and hurt here, and I’ve seen twenty cop cars outside of a house show.” But beyond the long arm of the law, the members of Navi see something positive building amongst their city and their peers in Richmond’s experimental rock community. “I feel honored to have a bunch of different friends playing a bunch of different music, who are doing things that are good,” Hawkins says. “Hopefully more people will start to understand the unifying element that’s hard to place, but is there amongst all these different sounds.” “Everyone who comes out to shows comes out to almost every show. It’s like a really tight family,” Flanagan adds. Thus far, Navi have only produced a couple of short-run EPs, but in the next year, they plan to release a prolific amount of music, including an upcoming release they recorded in Brooklyn with members of New York act Noxious Foxes, a planned split with fellow Richmond band Dumbwaiter, and a cassette with Richmond act New Turks. They also have a week-long Northeastern tour scheduled for the end of summer. As the evening draws to a close and the duo’s alien squall gives way to the sounds of police sirens and fireworks echoing through the alleys of the city, Jon Hawkins distills Navi’s sound into one simple philosophy. “I’m curious about finding new sounds that I haven’t heard before, and how to make them. That’s what we’re trying to do,” he says. “You should make music that you would want to hear. Otherwise, what’s the point in doing it?” www.facebook.com/Naviswag RVA MAGAZINE 14 FALL 2013


On the outskirts of town, a band practices in the midst of a decrepit cellar. A sound combining Appalachian roots, vaudeville-style piano compositions, and slurred, soulful vocals fills the space. Cigarette butts and empty beer cans are scattered around the room. This cellar makes an ideal home for the songs of Wolf// Goat. Your first impression could offer any number of assumptions about what you’re getting yourself into. However, it isn’t until you get past the surface that you begin to uncover the beauty at the heart of it all. Since their song “Cellar Door” could be considered Wolf// Goat’s anthem, it makes perfect sense that ever since the beginning, all they’ve been trying to do is fuck around. The band formed as a creative outlet for housemates Tim Traverse, Brad Fulton, and Julius Delacruz. After acquiring an upright piano, they decided to start working on music. “Julius had set up his drum set in the living room. My piano was in the living room [and] could be heard throughout the whole house, while Brad was sitting in the stairway with his banjo,” Traverse recalls. “We had all been playing music in one way or another for a while; this started as this organic process,” Fulton explains. After a few months had passed, they determined it was necessary to move from their current residence to a proper practice space. “We were concerned that our practices were annoying one of our roommates, so it was time to find a place to really play,” Traverse says. “Another thing was that at the house, we would write quietly and try to be respectful,” Delacruz adds. “Once we had an actual place to go, we could really spend some time fleshing out what we were working on.” At this point, the band realized they were in need of a singer. Ben Woods was a close friend and an easy candidate for the role. “He was pretty much sleeping on our couch when we asked him to join the band,” Fulton recalls. “Also, he had been hanging around for a couple of our practice sessions. Perhaps it always had to be Ben.” Woods brought both guitars and a unique lyrical sensibility, which he has described as “spontaneous prose,” to Wolf//Goat. His devastating honesty and lucid tales of alcoholfueled nights reveal a tremendous amount about the human condition. Woods attempts to orchestrate a connection with listeners by revealing the darkness that surrounds him. “When Ben sings a song or writes down any words, it’s a cathartic moment for him,” Delacruz says. “There is never a moment of hesitation, and it’s that removal of inhibition that carries a strong weight in regards to how people look at our band,” Fulton adds. Traverse’s classical music background combined with the various contributions of the other members to bring a particular sensibility to many of Wolf//Goat’s early compositions. His skills on piano are such that he can play anything from an elegant classical arrangement to a piece with a carnival or vaudeville sound. His bandmates add a bright style of their own, full of plucked banjo and drums that can go from rapid fire to gentle and reserved. Placed in CHECK RVAMAG.COM DAILY

the midst of this musical evocation of childlike wonderment, Woods resembles a figure from a nightmare making its presence felt. His soulful revelation of his unique worldview has a deep effect, especially before live audiences. These elements help set Wolf//Goat apart from the rest of Richmond’s music scene. After an initial run of shows, the band acquired a reputation for the role alcohol played in these performances. “Those first shows were pretty sloppy compared to how we are now, but I don’t think we were any less determined to play the music we were happy with,” Fulton says. Friend of the band Kyle Flanagan reflects on how these experiences affected those in the local music community. “It was crazy how word would hit the street that Wolf//Goat were working on some new material and it became this party. People would crowd around them while Tim played piano and Ben was hunched over belting out words. It was like we all got to see them figure out how to become a band.” Asked about the role alcohol has played in regards to what they channel musically, Traverse responds, “I can’t help but say that yes, alcohol has played a strong role in some of the songs. But it’s not something that is preventing us from achieving what we are setting out to do.” “There are probably lyrics that I wouldn’t know how to reveal if it weren’t for alcohol,” Woods says. Their initial release, The//Day//Tripper// Demos, helped create a buzz, but it wasn’t until they entered Minimum Wage Studios that Wolf//Goat achieved an accurate recorded representation of their sound. “As soon as I saw the piano at the studio, I knew we had to record there,” Traverse recalls. “It is just such a great space. It felt like Lance Koehler was quick to understand our sound and it just fit immediately,” Delacruz adds. “I remember taking notes about things I thought could be worked on in post-production. [When] I brought my notes to Lance, he had already done all of that and more,” Traverse says. The sessions resulted in Wolf//Goat’s debut album, In Watermelon Sugar, released last year on cassette and CD by Bad Grrrl Records. The title is a reference to a book by Richard Brautigan, and helps explain Woods’ lyrical approach. “I was taking a bit of acid at the time and it definitely had an influence on how I wrote,” he explains. “The teacher [of a writing class I was taking] recommended that I check out Brautigan, because he saw a similarity in how we approached prose.” The record also contains a song called “Trout Fishing In America,” another Brautigan reference. The most straightforward rock tune on the album, it was yet another breakthrough for the band. It provided an opportunity for Wolf//Goat to approach violinist Maria Camia to play on that song, and eventually to become a full member of the band. “We felt like we would be fucking up if we didn’t try to keep her around,” Delacruz recalls. The other component that helped bring all of the elements together was the inclusion of Mallie Sanford. She had seen many of the early Wolf//Goat shows and was just blown away by

WOLF // GOAT By Shannon Cleary Photo by chelsea gingras

those experiences. “I remember Ben stripping down to nothing and just running out of this house show. We had no idea what was going on or where he had run off. It was really about how surreal and incredible the shows were. Even in the days of Ben screaming whatever was floating in his head. The pain he sang about felt real, and I couldn’t shake being moved by that,” Sanford says. She was asked to sing on the song “Purple Snow (Titanic 3)” and ended up joining the band as vocal accompaniment to Woods. “What was funny about learning how to sing with Ben was just being ready for anything. He would wake up and be like, ‘Oh shit, I’ve got to write lyrics for today.’ So you try to follow him as best you can, but you just have to be prepared to be spontaneous,” she explains. This year has seen In Watermelon Sugar receive several accolades. Wolf//Goat were invited to perform as part of this year’s WRIR Anniversary Party, Harrisonburg’s Macrock Festival, and as openers for Woods during one of their recent visits to Richmond. Despite Traverse now being located in Washington DC, Wolf//Goat sees no end in sight. “I think the only thing that could break us up is if maybe we split up internationally. Even that would be the perfect excuse to travel across the Atlantic,” Traverse says. While on the surface, a band like Wolf// Goat can be seen as relishing the darkness of humanity, what drives them at the core is the desire to channel energies that would typically scare off most individuals. Between their unique vocalist and his idiosyncratic approach to life, music, and lyrics, and the rest of the band’s creative ambition, www.facebook.com/Wolfgoat

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ROAD TO NOWHERE photographs by matt licari styling by jess mederos hair by elijah greene makeup by logan greenwood assistants by robby clark and jules slutsky

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sonnie knit scarf – shanya lewis necklace – circa sixty three bangle bracelets – circa sixty three black denim shorts - vintage meeza denim shirt – wesc (wearethesuperlativeconspiracy) knit pants – degen black hi-top sneakers – fergalicious by fergie white circle ring – dinosaur designs gold bull necklace – laruicci

<<< previous page sonnie felt hat – bailey of hollywood sunglasses – vintage knit cropped tank – degen leather vest – anveglosa denim jeans – vintage brown embellished belt – berge cuff bracelet – delphine-charlotte parmentier meeza beaded dress – pia pauro gemstone necklace – patty tobin beaded necklace – stylist’s own

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sonnie meeza lace sleeveless dress – jose duran pale pink cumberbund (worn as top) – blank silk gemstone necklace – patty tobin blue knit skirt – shanya lewis rock crystal necklace – circa sixty three

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sonnie watusi hat (worn as collar) – eric javits long dress – jose duran white sheer pants – jose duran bangle bracelets – dinosaur designs silver rope ring – eva marcus meeza velour gaucho hat – eric javits beige and brown leather belt – berge shorts with lace – saunder blouse – 4 love and liberty leather earrings – odieuses

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sonnie gold jacket – handkerchief cowboy necklace – eva marcus knit and leather pants – shanya lewis meeza shirtdress – handkerchief white vest – jose duran leather crossbody bag – shanya lewis white leather gloves – carolina amato white and gold earrings – laruicci orange platform shoes – carlos by carlos santana CHECK RVAMAG.COM DAILY

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RECORD Reviews

The Ar-Kaics

The Ar-Kaics (thearkaics.bandcamp.com)

Sleep (canaryohcanary.bandcamp.com)

Canary Oh Canary

Chance

The self-titled release from these local retro garage rockers is a raucous and highly catchy blast from the past that feels like some lost bootleg from the British invasion. Their catchy songs and sneering vocals cruise over crude guitars and Merseybeat drums, resulting in an infectious and outstanding album. (AC)

The long anticipated full-length from RVA indie trio Canary Oh Canary does not disappoint. Mixing newer compositions and songs that go back to the group’s inception, Sleep perfectly illustrates the lush surroundings that the band has become known for. The production is stellar and there should be a lot more on the way. (SC)

These recently unearthed 1981 recordings made in a Nashville garage by Johnny Cash’s former stage manager combine damaged outlaw country, ominous heavy psychedelia, and lysergic outsider funk. On paper the mix may seem improbable, but the seemingly dissimilar styles coalesce better than expected. An oddball document, mercifully rescued from obscurity’s clutches. (GS)

Dope Body

Earthling

Dark Path (Forcefield Records)

Diarrhea Planet

I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams (Infinity Cat) The four-guitar assault of Diarrhea Planet has done it again. With slightly stronger production and a penchant for epic rock anthems, I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams is a perfect soundtrack for the remaining days of summer. Thick tones and awesome guitar riffs are all anyone needs when you crave Diarrhea Planet. (SC)

Exhumed

Saturday (Drag City)

Is This Chocolate? (dumbwaiterva.bandcamp.com)

Baltimore’s resident noise rock revivalists return with a two song EP following their much lauded and acclaimed 2012 full length, Natural History. Both songs deliver the visceral and primal energy of the band’s previous work in a wash of low-fidelity production that drives forward on a sea of distorted bass and piercing guitars. (AC)

Avant-garde acid jazz and hardcore nuances help to set the stage for a proper introduction to Richmond instrumental outfit Dumb Waiter. Is This Chocolate? is a spectacular release that showcases the outfit’s consistent desire to stand out from the pack. This is certainly on another level-it should blow most listeners’ minds. (SC)

Harrisonburg’s Earthling deliver a solid full-length that condenses thrash, death, doom, and early black metal into a singular whole. Though it occasionally displays the disjointedness that comes with combining such disparate approaches, more often it successfully evokes the golden era of metal prior to when those genre parameters were so clearly established. (GS)

Goldrush

The Green Boys

Gritter

Battle Maximus (Metal Blade)

This local quartet explores their intriguing fusion of classical instrumentation and mannered 60s power-pop at extended length on their jokingly titled debut LP. The combination results in everything from Beatlesque charm to catchy hoedowns, and works well, even at its most goofily Rivers Cuomo-esque moments. (AN)

This is a helluva record. Pristine in recording quality, deep in musical content, and varied in pace, it comes together like a well-read book. “Summer Song”’s honey-sweet harmonies melts your heart as the tune gets your head nodding. With vocal harmonies reminiscent of early King Wilkie, its central Virginia grit and soothing substance work well together. (SML)

Welcome To The Sinkhole (gritterrva.bandcamp.com)

If you like modern American metal with a dash of depressive NOLA swamp-blues, then the latest from Gritter is right up your alley. Think Pantera and Lamb Of God washed down with a shot of Jack and a nice touch of defiance in the face of certain doom. These RVA boys aren’t sinking-they’re on the come-up. Watch out. (AN)

This is GWAR’s 13th album, and respect is due. For a band whose chief claim to fame is their crazy costumes, these maniacs crank out some damn good tunes. Battle Maximus is full of upbeat thrash-metal with choruses that are catchy and memorable. The lyrics may be tongue-in-cheek, but the music seriously rocks. (AN)

Greatest Hits (self-released)

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Dumb Waiter

In Search (Paradise Of Bachelors)

Oh Delia (greenboysmusic.com)

Necrocracy (Relapse Records)

Exhumed have changed very little in the near quarter century they’ve existed, and their fans would likely have it no other way. Necrocracy only varies from their larger body of work through the introduction of some occasional social commentary, but the band’s razor-sharp, bracingly energetic, and surprisingly catchy approach to death metal is as intact now as it’s ever been. (GS)

GWAR

RVA MAGAZINE 14 FALL 2013


Shannon Cleary (SC) Alex Criqui (AC) Sarah Moore Lindsey (SML) Andrew Necci (AN) Graham Scala (GS)

The Haxan Cloak

Kvelertak

League Of Space Pirates Manipulation

The nine bleak soundscapes that comprise Excavation artfully evoke dread, paranoia, and unease, transforming these otherwise unpleasant sentiments into a compelling and heady amalgam. Minimal, though not maddeningly so, darkly cinematic without reliance on bombast, and subtle without sacrificing menace, Excavation proves itself one of the most fascinating and unsettling electronic releases this year. (GS)

At first I wasn’t sure if I liked this unorthodox Norwegian sextet. Mixing melodic vocals and catchy, upbeat guitar riffs with brutal screaming and blast beats, their music lands somewhere between cock-rock and black metal. Huh? But after a few listens, I couldn’t get their triumphant choruses out of my head. Fuck it, this is rad. (AN)

This deluxe comic book/vinyl record combo pack reminds me of my childhood (“turn the page when you hear the chimes ring like this”), while the spooky new wave songs on the EP remind me of dancing at goth nights in the late 90s. A gorgeous and creative multimedia effort from this local art-punk crew. (AN)

The Moonbees

Occultist

Death Sigils (Primitive Ways)

Demo 2013 (savageattack.bandcamp.com)

Summer EP (snowyowls.bandcamp.com)

The Moonbees are an eclectic rock/ folk four-piece whose vocalist, Clifton McDaniel, has chops like David Bowie or Sgt. Pepper’s-era John Lennon. From hints of Americana (“Mend the Gap”) and countrified Bob Marley covers (“Three Little Birds”) to Southern rock stylings (“Soon We’re Gone”), this psychedelic orchestral rock amazes left and right. (SML)

This dark, raging slab mixes the best elements of hardcore and metal, variously evoking Slayer, Motorhead, Amebix, and Napalm Death. The chugging wall of rhythm guitars, slashing solos, and fierce, snarling vocals all serve to distinguish Occultist from the many run-of-the-mill thrash bands that are eating their dust. (AN)

Richmond’s Savage Attack approach their music with a raw belligerence unmatched by few younger bands. Coupling Exhorderstyle songwriting, hardcore-influenced vocals not far removed from Sheer Terror, and production value that’s remarkably good for a self-recorded release, the band packs more intensity than many attempting this style. (GS)

The new EP from The Snowy Owls is a collision of summer glows and warm fuzz. Deeply inspired by the nineties, these four songs glimmer with tremendous ambition and sonic ambiguity. It’s a bit of a departure for the group, but still reminiscent of what many have grown to love from their last release, Within Yr Reach. (SC)

Excavation (Tri Angle Records)

Money Grows On Trees (themoonbees.bandcamp.com)

Tokimonsta

Meir (Roadrunner)

White Laces

Manipulation Book & Record EP (leagueofspacepirates.storenvy.com) (Sorry State Records)

Savage Attack

Wild Nothing

Manipulation’s first full-length after two killer EP releases witnesses the band honing their frantic, vicious brand of hardcore. Unlike many of their contemporaries, the band isn’t content to mine the safest veins of 80s punk, instead opting for an unhinged ferocity that can’t be learned through imitation. (GS)

The Snowy Owls

Wise Inquisition

Halfshadows (Ultra)

Deep Moves/Ascend EP (self-released)

Empty Estates (Captured Tracks)

Sunday Drive (self-released)

Tokimonsta has evolved from an experimental beat scene pioneer to a producer of increasingly slick and futurist pop music. On Halfshadows she takes this path into overdrives, delivering a record of serene and glitchy tracks that feature an array of guest vocalists and minimalist landscapes of dance driven percussion and synths. (AC)

Following the waves made by last year’s phenomenal LP Moves, White Laces are back with two more offerings. These tracks offer early indications of the direction the group might take on their next proper release. In particular, “Ascend” is a delight, serving as a strong testament to White Laces’ greatness. (SC)

The Blacksburg, VA indie sensations throw off their dream-pop aesthetic for a more colorful and experimental turn on their recent EP. Stand out track “A Dancing Shell” pulsates and bounces with all the peculiarity and idiosyncrasy of the Talking Heads in their early 80s glory. (AC)

Producer/emcee Wise Inquisition drops his fifth mixtape, and these hip hop tracks are fly as fuck. Involving a sample from Kali Uchis, featuring Kiara Ra.ve and Cadillac CAT, and containing beats by BIG CAT, Ydbeatsss, and Wolf Paradise as well as Brother Wise himself, Sunday Drive combines stories and killer loops for a textured album. (SML)

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JOE THREAT AND BEN PARKS REST IN PEACE

You would be hard pressed to find someone in Richmond that doesn’t know Joe “Joe Threat” Davis. It would be even more impressive to go anywhere in the city and not see one of his stickers plastered on the back of a street sign or inside of a public bathroom. When he walked into the room, he lit it up with that gigantic smile and whatever new Jordans he had decided to purchase that week. Always quick with a joke, and even quicker to put “something” in the air, he made life a little more tolerable for those of us not blessed with his endless supply of positivity. I don’t think I have ever met someone with so much conviction in their choice of lifestyle. Some people say they breathe, eat and sleep hip hop--but not like Joe did. I was a firsthand witness to the tireless work he put in to become better at his craft each and every day. Aligning himself with Gritty City Records did wonders for him as an artist. This was the first time he was exposed to having to compete with other emcees to shine on a record. And he rose to the occasion. His latest album, Sinister Circus, took us on a journey through his personal experiences and gave us a glimpse into his unique perspective on life, and all of its complexities and contradictions. On August 16th, 2013, the RVA music scene lost one of it’s brightest shining lights. No longer will we hear the phrases coined by Joe, like “real walkie talkie,” “propadopolis,” and “hong kong.” We are saying goodbye to a true original, and one of nicest people anyone has ever encountered. We miss you, homey, and please have that ‘rillo rolled up for us when we get there. #MSM #GCR #RestinPower #Ayers Joe’s album, Sinister Circus, is available for download at joethreat.bandcamp.com. --Fan Ran photo by Justin Lewis

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Sorrow fills our hearts this sad moment, a sorrow that is deep and personal. Ben has silently closed the door of life and departed from us. Our lives will be empty in the areas that he had brightened for us. Albert Einstein said, “The value of a man should be seen in what he gives, and not in what he is able to receive.” Ben was a man who gave. He gave much to his life, to our lives. That is why, as we say goodbye to him, I would like to speak in celebration of his life. Here was a life that demanded notice, a life that exemplified spirit, a life that inspired emulation, a life that burned so that others’ paths were lit. Ben was living proof of how fine a person can be. The character of the life he lived might be summed up in a few words: he was sincere, he was earnest, he was loyal. The Ben I remember was a happy soul, one who not only was cheerful in himself but who gave much cheerfulness to others. He had a beautiful smile, a sense of humor and a gentle demeanor. All the people who knew him will miss a highly loving, vibrant individual with a rare friendliness and charm. Ben was a genuinely warm and wonderful individual—one we will miss greatly. Our sorrow is lessened only slightly with the comforting thought that we had the privilege to know him. Ben knew that it was important to say thank you. I remember how sincerely and frequently he thanked me just in general conversation. Ben knew that his friends and family were life’s greatest gift. Everyone he met should consider it a gift that we were able to be graced by such a kind heart and soul. He’s gone on ahead of us. He’ll watch over us (and probably laugh a good deal of the time). And he’ll continue to touch us throughout our lives, until we meet up with him again. So we won’t say “goodbye” today, just… we love you, Ben, and “we’ll see you later, dude.” -- Trace Chiles

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RVA MAGAZINE 14 FALL 2013


RVA #14 FALL 2013