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RVA #16 SPRING 2014 WWW.RVAMAG.COM FOUNDERS R. Anthony Harris, Jeremy Parker PUBLISHER R. Anthony Harris PRESIDENT John Reinhold EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Andrew Necci CREATIVE DIRECTOR Chicken Foot ADVERTISING TEAM John Reinhold, Rachel Whaley EDITORIAL ASST. Brad Kutner RVAMAG.COM & GAYRVA.COM Brad Kutner WRITERS Andrew Necci, Shannon Cleary, Doug Nunnally, Brad Kutner, Sarah Moore Lindsey, Alex Criqui, Chelsea Gingras, Jessica Shim, Liz Downing PHOTOGRAPHY Todd Raviotta, Christian Hewett, PJ Sykes, Derek Keaton, Alex Criqui ILLUSTRATION Adam Juresko INTERNS Jessica Shim, Mike Platania, Emilie Von Unwerth, Lindsay Hawk, Joseph Vargo, Antony Shipman GENERAL INFORMATION e: EDITORIAL INFORMATION e: DISTRIBUTION e: ADVERTISING p: 804.214.6350 e: 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 SOCIAL instagram/rvamag SUBSCRIPTION Log onto 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 Conqeust Graphics. COVER ART No Bees, No Honey; No Work, No Money, 2013, acrylic on wood panel, 48 x 48 in. (121.9 x 121.9 cm) by Ryan Mcginness Special thanks to Hunter Haglund & Mr. Rich Holden This issue is dedicated to the memory of Dave Brockie and to the remaining members of GWAR.










WE DISTRIBUTE TO THESE FINE ESTABLISHMENTS. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS! CARYTOWN Plan 9 Records Agee’s Bicycles New York Deli Portrait House Don’t Look Back Chop Suey Books Heroes & Ghosts Weezie’s Kitchen Ellwoood Thompsons Need Supply Co. Loose Screw Tattoo World of Mirth Play N Trade B- Sides Thrift Tobacco Club & Gifts Venue Skateboards BROAD STREET ARTS DISTRICT Gallery 5 Ghostprint Gallery Turnstyle Velocity Comics Steady Sounds DOWNTOWN & CHURCH HILL Pasture Barcode Cha Cha’s Cantina Tobacco Company Bottom’s up Kulture Alamo BBQ Globehopper Captain Buzzy’s Beanery Legends Plant Zero Manchester Market Frame Nation VCU AREA Strange Matter 821 Cafe Harrison Street Cafe Fan Guitar & Ukulele Ipanema Nile Empire The Village VCU BrandCenter Mojo’s Rumors



MUSEUM DISTRICT VMFA Viceroy Black Hand Coffee The Franklin Inn Cleveland Market Patterson Express



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THE FAN Bellytimber Star-lite Lounge Capitol Mac Katra Gala Sticky Rice Joe’s Inn Strawberry Street Market Little Mexico The Camel Lamplighter Balliceaux Helen’s Metro Grill Pieces Y & H Mercantile Hardywood Park Brewery Magpie WEST END Su Casa Mekong Taboo Buz & Ned’s BBQ Guitar Center





This page: Top: Gritty City on Rapper Mondays. Every Monday they release a new track free on their Bandcamp page (Photo: Christian Hewett) Left Top: Weird Sailboat at Steady Sounds Vs Vinyl Conflict at Saison (@rvamag) Left Bottom: Fletcher Of Black Girls tuning up @TheCamelRVA (@rvamag) Right Top: Black Liquid, the MC for Face Melt Fridays at Strange Matter (@rvamag) Right Bottom: #GuntherGoonGuy (@trashers) Opposite page: Top: The Awesome Few at Hardywood by Todd Raviotta Bottom Left: RPG at Hardywood by Todd Raviotta Far Right: Iron Reagan at SXSW Converse Stage (@rvamag) Far Right Bottom: J. Roddy Walston and The Business at Heartbreaker’s Banquet outside SXSW (@rvamag)







Punk rock meets dream pop on the standout track from Dum Dum Girls’ third record. What starts off with raw urgency in hard guitar chords and thumping drums quickly and stunningly shifts into a dreamy soundscape rich with frenzied rhythms and a pristine melody. The disparity of styles between each section opens up a big space for Dee Dee Penny’s wispy voice to truly soar, over a song that you’ll fall in love with instantly.--Doug Nunnally


The single song that has meant the most to me so far in 2014. It’s not a love song or a lost-love lament; it’s more like a contemplation of the nature of love, and its tendency to leave everyone feeling hurt and uncertain in the end. The lyrics ask difficult questions and find no answers. Loveless’s passionate vocals, with their unmistakable Southern twang, split the difference between country and punk, even as her snarling guitar riffs add menace to the song’s Nashville-style backbeat. Fans of Lucinda Williams and Sleater-Kinney will find common ground here. --Andrew Necci


The Awesome Few have returned, and Richmond is all the better for it. The soulful bantering of Marshall Costan is on full display as he implements a thought or two about current affairs and what it means to remain aware of greater bodies of power. A protest song with a grand rhythm section, crooning melodic bridges, and driving guitars, combining just a few of things that I love about The Awesome Few. It’s good to have them back. --Shannon Cleary



I’ve been close with--and a big fan of--Heavy Midgets for a long time. So much of their new record just makes my jaw hit the floor with how out of left field it is compared to their earlier material. “Power Hunger” is a great example of how tight they’ve gotten as a group, and how they’re not afraid to take chances as songwriters. It’s dark, hooky, heavy, and I think it’s one of the best things they’ve ever done. --Alex Criqui


Les Claypool of Primus has a sound that never gets old, because he continuously reinvents himself. His latest band, Duo de Twang, takes his signature low-end on a countrified acoustic action. Check out “The Buzzards of Greenhill,” which features Claypool singing in unison with the catchy bass riff. He keeps things simple and less ornate, which only helps intensify the magnitude of the sound. The lack of major percussion give the bass room to really let loose, with more twang than Hank Williams, Sr. --Sarah Moore Lindsey


STUDIO NEWS RVA thrash-grind supergroup Iron Reagan have signed to Relapse Records, and are currently working on the followup to their debut LP, Worse Than Dead. The new LP will feature the recently expanded fivepiece lineup the band debuted last summer, adding ANS guitarist Matt Bronzino and Hellbear bassist Rob Skotis to an already-impressive lineup featuring members of Municipal Waste, Cannabis Corpse, and Suppression. Iron Reagan lead guitarist Phil Hall is currently manning the boards for sessions at RVA’s Blaze Of Torment Studios, and the finished product will then be mixed by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou. Iron Reagan will spend the spring touring with local blackened thrash crew Occultist, and the new LP should drop sometime this summer! If you haven’t heard about Avers yet, we’re not sure where you’ve been hiding, but for those of you who’ve missed out, this all-star sextet, featuring J.L. Hodges (Farm Vegas), Charlie Glenn (The Trillions), Tyler Williams (The Head And The Heart), James Mason (Mason Brothers), Adrian Olsen and Alexandra Spalding (both of Hypercolor), have grabbed tons of local attention by bursting onto the scene with a fully developed psychedelic sound. Coming together around Montrose Recording, the studio owned by Olsen and responsible for recent releases by Black Girls and Todd Herrington, Avers wrote and recorded a 10-song full-length, Empty Light, during their first few weeks of existence. The two songs that have seen the light thus far, “White Horses” and the title track, both sound remarkable, but the band is playing their cards close to the vest about when we’ll get to hear the entire album. Regardless, it’s worth keeping an eye out for--and of course, good things come to those who wait. Engineer Allen Bergendahl is one of the most reliable names in RVA recording work--if you check, you’ll probably realize that he’s worked on at least half the local releases you own. It doesn’t look like that’ll change anytime soon, either, as he’s spent the winter working on a variety of upcoming local releases. One noteworthy project emerging from Bergendahl’s Viking Recording is the debut full-length by local noise-rock trio Hoax Hunters. Comfort & Safety, a split release from Negative Fun and Cherub Records, is in the can and should be unleashed upon the world sometime this spring. Meanwhile, instrumental post-rockers Shy Low are collaborating with Bergendahl on a full-length follow-up to 2013’s twosong 10 inch EP, Binary Opposition. Studio sessions for this one are not yet complete, so details are thin on the ground, but it seems likely that the finished album will emerge sometime this year. And of course, Bergendahl’s own band, The Snowy Owls, are putting the finishing touches on their next LP, Difficult Loves--but you can read about that one elsewhere in this very issue. RVA MAGAZINE 16 SPRING 2014








One of the strongest attributes that any musician can possess, more important than any flashy technical chops, is the ability to play a part that fits a song. The ability to strategically maneuver while remaining respectful of one’s musical surroundings is tremendously important. It can be as simple as displaying modesty in a guitar part, or allowing a bass line to take the spotlight. Where this skill is concerned, Troy Gatrell is arguably one of the most talented musicians in the Richmond scene. And it’s that much more impressive to see him exhibit this mindset within the context of his band, Way, Shape Or Form. Each song is full of driving ambition: assertive percussion and looping guitars are layered within digital landscapes. On the group’s 2012 full-length Person, Place or Thing (their second, following 2009’s Trapezoid Campaign), their sound is at its most realized. The instrumentals contain enough imagination that they don’t feel limited by their lack of lyrical content, while by contrast, songs with vocals rely heavily on Gatrell’s wordplay, and are equally a delight for the listener. A strong factor to consider when understanding Gatrell’s craft is where it all began. “At a young age, I spent a lot of time listening to only music that lacked any words,” he remarks. “It almost seemed strange to me to have voices contained in songs. It wouldn’t be until much later that I even began to consider the role words play in songwriting.” There were also early moments where the role of music in video games had a huge impact. “I really attached myself to some of those early console games,” Gatrell says. “I remember taping the music onto cassettes and just listening back to a lot of those pieces. They were really interesting compositions, and what got me was how they were probably overlooked by many, like it was just background fodder. But it seemed like so much more than that.” In many ways, this interest provided further inspiration on Person, Place or Thing. The opening track, “Option House,” is titled as a reference to the world of Mario Party, while the album features an instrumental cover of the Mario 64 composition “Dire, Dire Docks” as a digital bonus track. This ode to the heyday of Nintendo 64 is appropriate; there is a sense of timelessness to what Way Shape Or Form accomplishes. The gadgetry might be modernized, but staples from Gatrell’s childhood are ever present.


Despite Gatrell having performed almost all the instruments on the recording, a band was needed to recreate the material live. The first step for Gatrell to assemble a band was to leave his childhood home of Roanoke and get to Richmond. “I actually made plans to begin attending school in the city so that I could justify moving here and hopefully engaging with the scene,” Gatrell recalls. “Even before I started playing, [Roanoke] bands like The K Word made me want to play music and be in a band. Knowing that members had ventured to [Richmond] made my desire that much more.” Once he arrived in RVA, he found a few like-minded musicians in Will Hooper, Reid LaPierre, and Ethan Johnstone. “It’s really crazy when I think of how fortunate I am to play with this lineup,” Gatrell says. “It all fits into the mindset of what I envisioned the project being, and they also offer the right push for what might have initially felt like a solo project to now feel like a band.” To start 2014 off right, Gatrell is hard at work on a new EP. This release will not only showcase the evolution of the project and the direction of their sound, but will also hopefully lead to the band hitting the road. “Touring is definitely on the agenda, but I want the EP to be done first,” Gatrell says. “I feel like it’s going to sound like a combination of the first two albums. More lively, and louder.” The plan for a short-form release isn’t merely due to a lack of material. “I wanted to do an EP because I just wanted to release new material faster. Also I feel like an EP gives me more room to explore and get a little more experimental. After the overwhelmingly positive response from the last album, I’ve felt the need to share more. I think the extra energy in these songs reflects the excitement I’ve felt by being a band in Richmond and gaining an audience that I wasn’t expecting.” The EP will still primarily feature Gatrell as the main player, but the addition of some guitar tracks by Hooper is a slow move towards capturing the live version of Way, Shape or Form on record. The new material Gatrell has been working on has been mainly influenced by a nonmusical inspiration. “It might come as a shock, but some of my influences of late have been pulled from the world of stand-up comedy,” he explains. If anything, he finds this a bit of a safer influence than other music. “You get super into a band, and you may start inadvertently sounding like them. But you can be inspired to create music by something else that isn’t music,” he says.

“For me, lately, it’s been comedy. I love observing people be creative and unique. They’re trying to express themselves in an interesting way, and so am I.” Gatrell has teased that some of the future Way, Shape or Form songs may offer a few nods to stand-up bits that have stuck with him for a while now, but most of what he takes from comedy is not audible in the music. “It’s not so much the tone as the approach. I was listening to Pete Holmes’ podcast, You Made It Weird, and one of the resounding concepts was how he debuts new material. He goes out and performs it just to see what happens. It seems like an obvious thing, but perhaps to some musicians that could be a horrifying concept. Disasters could eventually happen, but it also forces you to take that risk of just putting your work out there, and it has made all the difference with how the band operates.” Gatrell hopes the new material they are working on will contribute to his vision of the band as weird pop. “I like songs that have weird nuances to them and end up being really poppy,” he says. “The catchiness that you can’t quite put your finger on, but you know after listening that it’s really taken you for a ride. I think that’s what I always hope to achieve with anything I write, and I think that will continue to be what I strive for.” When asked if this is the main reason he makes music, though, the question brings him up short. “Someone asked me this recently, and I was stumped. Maybe because the answer was too obvious and I was trying to make it sound more interesting,” he says. However, he makes an attempt to explain his creative musical drive. “I’m obsessed with the intense love feeling from hearing the right combination of sounds,” Gatrell says. “The chill that runs up your spine. It all sounds cliché but I can’t think of how else to describe it. It’s infinitely fascinating to me to be able to put all these moving parts together and end up with a single feeling. I think I like composing, writing all the instruments, because I know exactly what feeling I’m trying to get to, and I know what the role of each instrument is in getting there. There isn’t one part that is on that recording that isn’t important and deliberate. Making music puts me in a state of flow, when it’s good. I forget about time, and exit my consciousness a little. Needs are put on hold. I’m only in the moment. It’s perfect.”



D umb Wa i te r’s so u n d i s as ec l ec t i c as t h e music sce n e t h ey co m e f ro m . Th e r i s i n g Richmo n d q u a r te t h as been bl ow i n g mind s w i t h t h e i r i n t r i c ate j azz meet s ma th ro ck fu si o n , cro ss i n g m o re mu s i c al bound a ri e s i n a few bars t h an s o m e ac t s d o in t h e i r e n t i re ca tal o g s .


s ays N ath an i e l Ro se be rry o f wo rki n g w i t h Watki n s. “He kn ows w h e n yo u ’re d o i n g yo u r be st, an d go e s, ‘Th at’s th e o n e.’ ”

The gro u p, co m p ri sed o f g u i t ar i s t N i c k Cride r, d ru m m e r Nat h an i el Ro s eber r y, sa xop h o n i st Tri st a n B ren n i s , an d bass i s t Ke ith Pa u l , m a d e th ei r m ar k l as t year with th e a sto u n d i n g d ebu t reco rd I s Th i s Chocola te? . Th e re co rd , l i ke m u c h o f t h e group’s h i sto ry, ca m e to l i fe aro u n d t h ei r d e fac to h e a d q u a r ters at R i c h mo n d ’s Ga lle ry 5 , w h e re th ey p l ayed o n e o f the ir fi rst sh ows w i th t h e ren ow n ed d u o Lightn i n g B o l t a n d reco rd ed i n t h e o l d fire hou se ’s u p p e r gal l er y.

Th e co m bi n ati o n o f Du m b Wai te r’s acco mpl i sh e d m u si ci an sh i p an d Watki n s’ am az in g pro du cti o n was m ade al l th e m o re i m pre ssi ve w i th th e addi ti o n o f th e s t r i n gs provi de d by Matt G o ld an d Tre e sa G o l d o f Ri ch m o n d’s G o l dru sh . “We j u st gave th e m a few su g ge sti o n s an d th ey ran w i t h i t,” says Ro se be rry. “I do n ’t th i n k a s i n g l e track eve n to o k th e m m o re th an an h o u r.“ “I t was al m o st di sappo i n ti n g … we s pe n t all th i s ti m e m aki n g th i s re ally co m pl ex an d h ard m u si c, an d th ey j u st go t i t i m m e di ate ly,” j o ke s g u i tari st Ni ck C r i d er. “We we re li ke , ‘Co m e o n , th i s s h o u ld be h arde r! ’”

For Is Th is C h ocola te?, D u m b Wai ter e nlisted so m e o f t h e c i ty ’s bes t l o c al tale nt to cre a te t h e s p raw l i n g an d musical l y ri ch so u n ds t h at f i l l t h e t rac ks . Local m u si ci a n , p ro d u cer, an d gen eral a ud io w i za rd Dave Wat k i n s was bro u g h t in to e n g i n e e r a n d h el p p ro d u ce t h e re cord w i t h t h e b a n d . “ H e k n ows h ow to ge t th e b e st p e rfo r man ce o u t o f yo u ,”

Th e e n d re su l t o f th e co llabo rati o n i s n o t h i ng sh o r t o f am azi n g . Th e re co rd ex p eri m e n ts w i th m e tal , n o i se , wo rl d m u s i c, an d fu n k--an d th at’s all j u st i n t h e f i rst so n g . “W h at we ’re go i n g fo r n ow i s to h ave m o re co n trast,” says Tri stan B ren ni s. “W h e re th e re ’s th e di sso n an t an d th e caco ph o n o u s, bu t th e re ’s also t h e me lo di c an d th e re so n an t.” “I t’s

i m po r tan t to express everything,” a dds Ke i th Pau l . Mu ch li ke th e i r compositions, Dumb Wai te r i s co n stan tly evolving. “ Ha lfway th ro u g h th e re cord, we figured out w h e re we wan te d to b e,” says Roseb erry. “Th e re are abo u t two to three songs on th e re co rd o f u s as a b eginning b a nd, an d two to th re e songs with us where we are n ow an d w h at we’re trying to ma ke.” Du m b Wai te r h as cer ta inly hit their stri de , an d 201 4 will b e a b ig yea r for th e ban d. Th ey have a nother pla nned Watki n s-h e lm e d relea se in the mix, this ti m e a spli t w i th RVA noise roc kers Navi, an d th e ban d i s h ea ding down to ma ke th e i r SXSW de bu t this spring. Of a ll th e bi g plan s Du mb Wa iter ha s coming u p, o n e th i n g i s for sure- - their sound wo n ’t ge t any e asier to pin down, even to th o se clo se st to the group. Roseb erry expl ai n s: “Th e al b um title c a me from Dave Watki n s, w hen we were listening to so m e th i n g we ’d just recorded. He was li ke , ‘W h at is this music ? Wha t i s th i s? W h at th e fuc k is this? Is this ch o co l ate? ’” dumbwaiterva.




In a ci ty kn ow n fo r i t s h eav y mu s i c , t h e up an d co m i n g R i c h m o n d ban d N ew Turks h ave b e e n p u t t i n g a n ew s p i n o n t h e growin g sce n e o f sl u d g y an d ag g ress i ve music e m e rg i n g fro m t h e r i ver c i ty. The d u o, co m p ri se d o f bass i s t /vo c al i s t Etha n G e n su rowsky an d d r u mm er Lo u i s He ninge r, m a d e t h ei r d ebu t i n 2 01 3 with t h e i r N ip S lip s p l i t E P w i t h fel l ow Richmo n d d u o N avi . S i n ce t h en , t h ey h ave be e n ga i n i n g a re p u t at i o n as o n e o f c i ty ’s be st u p a n d co m i n g ban d s , an d recen t l y p ut ou t t h e i r se l f- p ro d u ced fo l l ow u p, Ho t Leather, t h ro u g h R i c h m o n d ’s ow n B ad Grrrl Re co rd s. New Tu rks’ so u n d i s p u re s l u d ge, an a ll-low- e n d a ssa u l t o f p o u n d i n g d r u ms me ld in g w i t h t i g h t an d h eav i l y d i s to r ted ba ss ri ffs. “I wa s m ai n l y a g u i t ar p l ayer be fore t h i s b a n d real l y, bu t I k n ew I wa nte d to m a ke a two -p i ece w i t h Lo u i s , a nd I re a l l y n eve r l i ked h ow g u i t ars i n two p ie ce s so u n d ,” says G en s u rows ky abo u t his tur n towa rd s b a ss . “ I k i n d o f wan ted to go fo r so m e t h i n g mo re p u mm el i n g .” Both me m b e rs o f N ew Tu r ks h ad been p laying to ge t h e r, a s wel l as s ep aratel y i n local ba n d s l i ke M i dai r an d B as mat i , fo r seve ra l ye a rs b e fo re t h ey c am e to get h er



aro u n d th e i r cu rre n t h e avi e r an d m o re ag g re ssi ve so u n d. “Th i s i s re al ly th e fi rst t i m e I’ve playe d th i s ty pe o f dru m s, so my m ai n go al i s j u st to pl ay h ard, ke e p t h e beat, an d n o t fu ck u p,” says H e n i n ge r. “ B u t it’s re ally fu n to j u st be at th e sh i t o u t o f th e dru m s fo r a ch an ge .” Th e g ro u p’s so n g w ri ti n g draws fro m al l co rn e rs o f h e avy m u si c: th e spe e d an d ag g re ssi o n of h ardco re , th e n ear l y dan ce abl e bass g ro ove s o f 80 ’s p o s t p u n k, an d th e l ow-e n d ru m bl i n g s o f c lassi c sto n e r m e tal . “We li ste n to a l o t o f di ffe re n t stu ff, bu t I ’d say U nwo u n d h as be e n a bi g i n flu e n ce fo r u s ,” says G e n u rowsky. “Yo u n g Wi dows h as be e n a re ally bi g i n flu e n ce fo r m e p ers o n al ly, an d Pi sse d Je an s.” New Tu r ks ’ ag g re ssi ve so n g w ri ti n g an d u rge n t vo c al s draw h e avi l y fro m po st-h ardco re m u s i c, bu t th e ban d says th at pe o ple s h o u l dn ’t co n fu se th e i r m u si cal so u n d w i t h an i m age th ey ’re try i n g to pro j e ct. “ We’ re n o t ag g re ssi ve pe o ple , we ’re n o t co n f ron tati o n al pe o ple , bu t we ’re play i n g t h i s m u si c th at i s re al ly ag g re ssi ve , w h i c h i s stran ge be cau se m o st o f o u r l i ves pre tty m u ch revo l ve aro u n d h u m o r,” s ays Ge n su rowsky. “We ’re re ally n o t as to u g h as we so u n d,” qu i ps H e n i n ge r.

Havi n g alre ady ma de a na me for th e m se lve s w i th their two stella r re le ase s, N ew Tu rks a re look ing a t the ci ty aro u n d th e m a s they c ra f t the new re co rd th ey h o pe to finish this yea r. “ I li ste n to a lo t o f sludge meta l a nd doomy stu ff, an d a l o t o f the doom stuff coming o u t o f Ri ch m o n d is rea lly impressive ri g h t n ow. We ’ve been listening to a lot o f th at an d try i n g to draw out our new so n g s so th at th ey ’ re slower a nd longer,” says G e n su rowsky. “ We’ve sor t of limited o u rse l ve s w i th th e setup, b ut now it’s abo u t se e i n g h ow fa r we c a n ta ke it i n si de o f th i s fo rm a t, a nd seeing just how far we can go.” N ew Turks a re poised to go a l o t far th e r i n the nea r future- - the re al qu e sti o n i s w h ether RVA c a n keep up w i th th e m . new t urks .




Matt Klimas finds himself lounging in front of a laptop, going through demo after demo. The Snowy Owls are in the process of readying Difficult Loves, and frontman Klimas is locking down what will hopefully be the final track list. Driven by a creative spark that sees no end in sight, he begins the process yet again. It’s been a long journey to get to this point, but the excitement brewing is enough to reward the patience of those longing for this album’s arrival. The Snowy Owls’ mix of shoegaze guitar fuzz and shimmering pop songcraft has won them many fans around town, and the impending release of Difficult Loves seems poised to take them to the next level. At one point, The Snowy Owls was just Klimas. Dissonant acoustic jams with a few digital loops in the mix made up this solo endeavor. But in 2010, The Snowy Owls transformed into a full band. “My focus for The Snowy Owls had gotten to a point where it required a full band,” Klimas says. One of the first members to join Klimas was bassist Allen Bergendahl. Bergendahl had been known around the city for his acclaimed engineering efforts with Viking Recording. Bergendahl finds the elements



that draw him to Klimas’ songwriting pretty easy to pinpoint. “What I will always love about Matt and his approach to music in general is that he knows what a song needs,” Bergendahl says. “He displayed that in [previous band] Louisiana Territory, and when I started hearing some of the demos he was doing for The Snowy Owls, my interest was further piqued. When he asked me to join, it was pretty obvious for me to immediately say yes.” The next step for the band was to find a drummer. Early recordings that would later be featured on a split release with White Laces included drummer Tyler Crowley. However, his stay with the band would be short, and they soon found a perfect percussive counterpart in Brandon Martin. His style was full of unexpected jolts of energy and a messy finesse. The charm in his playing was definitely the result of his being primarily self-taught. Many of Martin’s most inspired moments on Snowy Owls songs display that unique personality. The Snowy Owls remained a trio up until the beginning of 2012, but several of the songs that Klimas had been working on

at that time seemed hollow without the accompaniment of a second guitarist. After deep consideration, the most obvious candidate for addition to the band appeared to be James Wingo of Ghost Lotion. “We knew James from around town and I always dug the parts he would write for Ghost Lotion,” Klimas reflects. “When we had him come in for a few rehearsals, it was one of the first moments where I think we really honed into what would become The Snowy Owls sound.” Their first show as a four piece was an epic Strange Matter show featuring White Laces, The Diamond Center, and The Super Vacations. The response to this set was incredibly positive and helped provide the group with the needed momentum to begin working on Within Yr Reach. This EP was a culmination of Klimas’ songwriting aptitude, and his influences come to the fore in many of the songs. While being a diehard shoegaze aficionado, several of his early musical memories involve the likes of The Cure and The Replacements. This not only translated into some of the poppier moments on the EP, but also resulted in some of the dire, somber lyrical content. “Josef and Anni” found the perfect


balance of the heavy and the subtle qualities of the band. It also perfectly showcased the budding guitar interplay between Klimas and Wingo. The opener “Pilcrow” also provided a lifeline to Difficult Loves with it’s shadowy, reverb-laden guitars--a nice nod to what awaited Snowy Owls fans. The title track hits with the bang that this band has become known for, with its depth of instrumentation, lyrical metaphors, and touches of the unexpected. Within Yr Reach was a stellar debut that helped to shape the direction of both The Snowy Owls’ career and the Richmond music scene in general. After the release of Within Yr Reach, though, the band received news that would change everything. Martin had decided to move to Austin, Texas, leaving the band drummerless once again. Before his departure, The Snowy Owls got to work on a short EP entitled Summer, the band’s last release with Martin. It was an exercise in writing shiny, bright pop tunes that resonated all the typical elements of the titular season. “Feels Like Summer” and “All Summer Long” are easily the poppiest songs that the band had written thus far, and the best attribute of the entire record is its obvious adoration for this approach to pop songwriting. The glimmering hopeful nature of the Summer EP might not be what previous material had led listeners to expect, but it remains a strong display of what keeps The Snowy Owls exciting. Martin’s last show with the group took place in summer of 2013; it was time for the band to regroup. As with his experience in finding Wingo, Klimas found himself at fortune’s doorstep once again. “Prior to doing the Summer EP, we had worked with Hoax Hunters on a seven-inch that was exclusive for Record Store Day. This was around the time that they had solidified their lineup by having James O’Neill join them on drums,” Klimas says. “Brandon and James are really different drummers, but we got a vibe from James’ playing that felt like it would fit really well. We played with him a few times, and we knew that we wanted him to be on board.” While remaining in Hoax Hunters, O’Neill started playing with The Snowy Owls as well in the fall of 2013. Their first show was at Fall Line Fest, where their well-rounded set showcased many old favorites and several new additions, properly introducing O’Neill into the fold. One thing was immediately apparent--he brought a particular heaviness


to The Snowy Owls that hadn’t been heard in their sound before. “When I joined the band, I wanted to find the way to properly balance between what Brandon had written and what I could contribute,” O’Neill explains. “With that in mind, I think I found a way to be respectful to what existed prior, while injecting a few things.” Even as far back as the Within Yr Reach sessions, The Snowy Owls had been demoing for a proper full-length debut. However, the transition from Martin to O’Neill certainly changed the dynamic of many of the tracks. And with the new blood O’Neill injected into the outfit, even more songs were being written. “Towards the end of 2013 things started to get really exciting,” Klimas says. “We had more songs to work on, and it opened up several options for the direction that the record could take.” O’Neill’s more aggressive take on drums has allowed him to refine his intensity on some tracks, and the rhythm dynamic between O’Neill and Bergendahl has also opened up many possibilities. “Allen is a great bassist to play along with. He shows a similar restraint that Matt does in some of his guitar parts, and it helps me to reconsider the approach each song is asking for,” O’Neill says. On the guitar front, Wingo sees a shift that is enabling the new material to sound much more intriguing. “There are songs where I might have initially played rhythm to Matt’s lead. Now, we are switching that up,” Wingo says. “It’s challenging for me, but it’s equally as exciting.” Another solid factor that plays into the writing of Difficult Loves is the patience that Klimas has exuded. This patience takes the form of waiting to see how each song can grow organically. “There were early songs that sounded almost like they featured drum parts from [The Cure’s] ‘Why Can’t I Be You’,” Klimas says. “As time went on, we were able to break all those obvious nods into something that was a little more abstract, but also revealing of where we wanted this record to take us.” It doesn’t hurt that the band has an engineer in their lineup, which gives them all the time they could desire for writing and finessing. Difficult Loves feels like a perfect bookend for the group. Where Within Yr Reach showcased many of the attributes that their peers would grow to admire, their new record attempts to defy those expectations

while building on new inspirations. The name of the record comes from a short story collection by Italo Calvino, which focuses on love and the difficulty of communication. This has been a resounding lyrical theme in The Snowy Owls’ repertoire, dating back to their 2012 split EP with White Laces. That EP’s “Could” is about feeling the need for romantic companionship, and the dreaming that goes along with it. That longing hasn’t dissipated, and the way it’s expressed in the band’s new material creates a truly captivating experience for the listener. While Within Yr Reach’s closing track, “Falling,” detailed an emotional descent that feels out of control, Difficult Loves opens with another instrumental jam that shares the title of the record. This track starts the album by returning to the surface to continue dreaming, and swearing never to let the feeling slip away from you again. Of course, with fifteen total tracks in the mix for the album, there is still the possibility of Difficult Loves reinventing itself entirely before it is finalized. “The goal is to keep it to a solid nine-song track list, but the other songs could find themselves released through comps or split releases,” Klimas remarks. If the early demos are any indicator, this captivating collection will be the talk of the town when it finds its way into the hands of fans in 2014. The Snowy Owls are the perfect band for all parties involved. “This has been the most rewarding project I have been involved with. It might just be for the sheer fact that I am surrounded by countless talented people, and the amount of support for something I have created is incredible,” Klimas remarks. “We all just find comfort in playing with each other. There’s little drama and we all feel strongly about the material,” Wingo adds. “I like the idea of thinking about where we belong in the music scene now and considering that we belong to it as much as we offer up our identity in the process. It’s a great time to be playing music in Richmond and I couldn’t be more happy,” O’Neill remarks. The Snowy Owls may have started out beneath the radar, but this challenge just made them even better at what they do, and it shows with each new release. Difficult Loves is set to be the game changer the band not only needs, but deserves.




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Arctic Monkeys are no strangers to praise. Their 2006 debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, is widely believed to be one of the best records of the 2000s. Some publications would go a step further and say one of the best records of all time. Each record since then has done just as strongly with critics and only strengthened their case for being one of the most consistently great bands around.

years to make records. I never understood how that could happen for the longest time. This was the first time for us in that mindset, trying to perfect every detail. Even when we were finished, we had the mindset of “if we had another week, we could have done this or that.” That mindset can get quite dangerous and out of hand really quickly, so who knows what will happen on the next record?

It should be no surprise that their fifth record, last year’s AM, received widespread acclaim from critics. We here at RVA Magazine even listed it as Number 15 on our Best Records Of 2013 list. What was surprising was the introduction of a R&B and hip hop sound to their trademark garage-meets-indie style. With a new side to their sound, the band shows that they have just as much to offer going forward as they did when they first hit the scene in 2006.

What song took the longest to perfect for this record?

On Tuesday, February 4th, Arctic Monkeys made their debut at The National. Before the band started their North American tour at the end of January, guitarist Jamie Cook was able to chat with us about AM in detail, as well as where the band goes from here. So AM has been out for a while now; how do you think it stacks up to your other records? I don’t know really. It’s tough. I kind of have a soft spot for all of them, you know? But this one really seems to have resonated with people in a big way, so that’s great. It’s just hard to compare record to record. Even our first album was way different. The whole process of how we made this past record to that first one is just totally different. Totally different band really, I suppose. That might be why it’s hard to stack the records up against each other. When we recorded the first one, we’d never been in a studio, really. We were more doing live performances for the record. For this last record, a lot of it was written in the studio and it was a much longer process than the others. I suppose we’ve come a long, long way so it just makes it hard to compare record to record. How would you compare the two processes: writing in the studio versus live takes? Well, this time is the first time we’ve ever written that much in the studio. Even up to Suck It And See, we recorded that as live takes mostly. This album was very different. It’s the longest we’ve ever spent making an album. It was great for this album, but who knows? We might go back to the live take format for the next album. It wasn’t bad doing it in the studio, but it was definitely the first time I saw how people could end up taking 28

Well, for some of them, there were a few versions of the songs bouncing around before we landed on the final product. “No. 1 Party Anthem” had a few versions, each with different tempos and styles, knocking around before we locked down the album version and nailed it. I think “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” ended up in a different place than when it first started too. It was a lot more rock before it got a more R&B and pop feel to it. Those two songs were probably the ones we spent the longest on, but I don’t think it was too much time for either. Now, you mentioned “No. 1 Party Anthem.” That’s just a great song, but it’s so stylistically different than anything else on the record. Different than anything you’ve done really. I know what you mean. I remember thinking that as we were writing the song, even before it went through different versions. We spent a good time discussing if it even fit on the record, but it’s just a fantastic song. It just had to go on the record, in my opinion, whether it was stylistically different or not. What else from AM do you really like? Of course, I really like “Do I Wanna Know?” That was the first tune we’d ever done like that and it really opened up the album for us. When we started messing with it, we were just kind of amazed. Like “Wow, we’re not really doing anything like this sound or style.” It was just so exciting and it kind of opened up the path for the record that AM became. When you start a new album, there’s always a song that sets you in a certain direction, and this was definitely that. What did you think about NME including the album on their 500 Greatest Albums list about a month after AM came out? I never take much notice of lists like that, to be honest. It’s almost not fair asking what the best record is, you know? It was obviously really nice to make the NME list. I don’t know if we deserve it and I still can’t wrap my head around ranking

records like that, but it was definitely nice to see. Now, as a band, your album output is pretty impressive. Five albums in seven years. Most bands release an album every three to four years. Is this a concentrated effort you make as a band? I don’t think so. I suppose it just comes natural. We enjoy doing what we do. We enjoy making records and touring. It’s definitely not forced, and maybe we’ll slow down as we keep going on. I don’t know, but each album has just felt natural and organic. Is it a struggle to make each record different? I don’t know about different. As a band though, you’ve just got to find a way to kick it into the next gear, or step it up a notch. I think once you start getting stuck in a rut, it’s impossible to get out of it. Some bands do that and then it just starts to sound the same as well as boring. I don’t think we try to make it sound different, but just try and improve ourselves each time, knowing the record will sound different because of it. Honestly, where do you even find the time to make new records after touring as much as you do? I mean, I don’t think it’s such a mystery, but maybe it is. It’s not like we’re rushing through things by any means. We finished touring last year after we supported The Black Keys for quite a while. At that time, we had some song ideas kicking around that we wanted to get to so we just went into the studio. I thought we spent a lot of time there, but I guess I can see where people think we have a turnaround that’s quicker than most. When we get together, I guess things just happen quite fast, which I guess is a good thing for us as a band. To wrap up, was there anything you were listening to while recording AM that helped shaped your guitar work on the album? I mean, I don’t know really, but I was really listening to a lot of Bowie stuff when we were recording. Just kind of re-visiting his work, especially Ziggy Stardust. That album just sounds amazing. I really love it, but when you really examine it, it’s pretty flawless in my opinion. Maybe that did influence me a bit with how we poured ourselves into this record, perfecting each detail. I haven’t really thought about it, but I do love that record.







Recently I spoke with Ryan McGinness about his current exhibition, Studio Visit, on display at the VMFA through October 14. During our interview, I found him to be pleasant, but I also sensed the spirit of a trickster. He knew something I didn’t, and he was letting me in on the joke. This duplicity can be found in his work, the foundation of which is a simplified visual language made up of symbols such as those found on everyday street signage. These symbols carry a message to the audience, and when he combines these symbols on a canvas-as he does in Art History Is Not Linear (VMFA), the painting that acts as the centerpiece for his current exhibition--the message becomes complicated, with hundreds of truths there to be discovered. Each symbol has an individual meaning, and when put together as a whole, they tell a bigger story. This is McGinness’s story, which he is filtering through his art. His career has seen him play several roles--the curiosity, the artist, the jokester, and the antiestablishment insurgent working within the establishment. He is a Cheshire Cat playing within the fine art world--no wonder he found this conversation amusing.


I was blown away by the progression in the Rob Roskopp graphics, published by Santa Cruz. It astounded me you could tell a story or a narrative over a product line that was released progressively. The Rob Roskopp board was a target with a little monster creature that actually grew, and a whole creature came out in the end. I think that was my favorite. Not even aesthetically--there were cooler looking boards--but conceptually that always stuck with me.

But that makes it unique, doesn’t it? You got out of Carnegie-Mellon and went to work at Pentagram, a design company. When did you switch over to focus on fine arts? I was already drawing, and I studied art since I was young. I also had a parallel major, which was painting, and a parallel pursuit after school when I moved to New York, so I was always painting and showing in group shows and whatever. But it wasn’t really until 2000-2001 where the aesthetic curiosities and pursuits and investigations I was making in design crossed over and started finding their ways into paintings. At that point the work became truly honest, and unique.

You’ve taken over an entire section of the VMFA, it’s pretty wild. Was that nerve-wracking, to make the leap from a steady job to fine art, or was that a natural Yeah, it turned out really well. To the museum’s progression? credit, I didn’t have much to do with the exhibition proper, besides helping them pull it Yeah, that was a natural, boring, organic, slow together from afar. It blew me away. I knew it progression. From having to do commercial was gonna be good, I just didn’t know it was work to stay alive, to sustainability as an gonna be so on point and a testament to the artist--there’s not really a story there, it’s just curator, John Ravenal, to the museum at large, a natural kind of progression. That’s one of the and the exhibition designers. The resolution unfortunate aspects of being an artist. Unlike of these photo murals is so tight, I had no being a musician or in a pop group, where you idea. The layout is very comfortable. I think have that one hit that climbs up the charts and the exhibition explains the process in a very is kind of a breakthrough moment, building clear and precise way. I don’t have that kind of a sustainable career as an artist is slow and objective view of my own process, so I wouldn’t treacherous and boring, not very exciting. be able to put together an exhibition like this. [laughs] You did have a breakout show in, what was it? 2004 or 2003? You’re originally from Virginia Beach; what was it like growing up there? I guess people say that, but while in the moment, it doesn’t feel that way. I’m always on At the time it was a big skate and surf culture, to the next show, and I’m always just working so I grew up going to the beach. It’s a very in the studio. So while other people may look leisurely town, which is great for a lifestyle to to moments in a career or exhibition history, I grow up in, but I also left [laughs]. Growing never have. I think people might be inclined to up in Virginia Beach was comfortable. It’s not because they’re looking at a career from their like I grew up in the mean streets, you know? own perspective. So it might be the moment It’s very comfortable, very nurturing. I grew that someone saw the work for the first time, up in a household that was all about making whereas I’ve been seeing it all along [laughs]. things by ourselves. From a very young age, I made all my toys with my mother, made shirts You work in digital and painting; do you feel and painted skateboards. I grew up in a very like being able to screenprint allows your work creative environment. to bridge into fine art? I remember discussions with other artists back in 02-03 where they said In your presentation yesterday you mentioned being able to screenprint enables a digital work Bones Brigade and all those early skateboard to be in galleries. Does it matter anymore? graphics. I was wondering, specifically, did you have a favorite board? It doesn’t matter. I think there are plenty of


artists that have been working in the digital realm for years; for instance, Barbara Kruger has made outfits of her compositions. And that’s where the artistic decisions are made-in the materialism of the works. She’s one example of an artist that’s been doing it since the technology’s been in place, in the 80’s. If anything, silk-screening and using paint is an antiquated medium as a means of producing work.

Yeah, I think so, and certainly there was a time where it was radical. It’s not radical now - I think a radical gesture now would be to make something using the latest technology. At that time it was kind of a breakthrough production, but now there’s a whole new set of tools that new artists are giving other artists permission to use. I’d be careful to not let issues of material dictate whether something’s art or not. It doesn’t matter. People have used the phrase “Warholian” to describe your work. I can see some parallels in you and Warhol, in that you both using screenprinting, and in how much you produce. The first time you read that in a review of your stuff, what did you think? I’ve been certainly aware of and a fan of Warhol since I was a teenager. And the fact that he went to Carnegie [Institute Of Technology] was one of the reasons I was drawn toward Carnegie-Mellon. I also interned at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. But there are many aspects of Warhol and what he was doing that I am against. He definitely cultivated a caricature that was “too cool for school”--offputting and insincere in a lot of ways. The way he’d answer or not answer interview questions. It has its place as an artistic statement in and of itself, but that’s not me. I think people deserve genuine answers and genuine insight, and I don’t wear sunglasses inside. There’s that whole kind of mystique that is cultivated and prevalent in the art world and it, in a way, creates and increases the perceived value of the work. That’s not something that interests me. I’m not interested in smoke and mirrors. That’s why I’m so revealing and willing to share the process, and to let people see me working in the studio. There’s nothing magical going on, and I don’t think there should be in any artist’s practice. There’s a lot of that kind of bullshit that happens in the art world, and people kind of play into [it]. But I think there’s a larger group of people who are smarter than that and are more critically-minded, and can handle the truth. Which I guess would be a good lead into your books. You touched on being open on your process, and being open with your thinking. Was it important to have the books as a complement to your art? 31



| RVA Magazine | RVA MAGAZINE 16 SPRING 2014

OPENING PAGE Top Large: The Secret Pattern in Your Being, 2011, oil and acrylic on wood panel, 48 x 48 in. (121.9 x 121.9 cm) Bottom Left: The Spiral Dynamics of Evolution, 2013, acrylic on wood panel, 48 x 48 in. (121.9 x 121.9 cm) Bottom Center: The Cosmic Giggle, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 72 in. (182.9 x 182.9 cm) Bottom Right: Detail of Untitled (Black on Black 1), 2009, acrylic on wood panel, 30 x 24 in. (76.2 x 61 cm) OPPOSITE PAGE Top Large: Culture Is Not Your Friend, 2013, acrylic on wood panel, 48 x 48 in. (121.9 x 121.9 cm) Top Right: Faith, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 96 in. (243.8 x 243.8 cm) Top Right 2: Geometric Primitives (Painting 9), 2012, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 72 in. (182.9 x 182.9 cm) Bottom Large: Stilling, 2013, acrylic and metal leaf on wood panel, 24 x 24 in. (61 x 61 cm) Bottom Left: Island Universes (Skull), 2007, unique buttons printed in archival ink on paper and pinned to raw canvas, 72 x 72 in. (182.9 x 182.9 cm), unique, Published by Pace Editions, Inc. New York Bottome Left 2: My Red Velvet Rope, 2012, acrylic on linen, 72 x 72 in. (182.9 x 182.9 cm) THIS PAGE Top Large: Untitled (Women Painting 15), 2012, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 72 in. (182.9 x 182.9 cm) Top Left: Untitled (Women Painting 4), 2010, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 72 in. (182.9 x 182.9 cm) Top Left 2: Untitled (Women Painting 10), 2012, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 72 in. (182.9 x 182.9 cm) Bottom: Untitled (Art History is Not Linear (VMFA) 4), 2010, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 72 in. (182.9 x 182.9 cm) LAST PAGE Money Is a Sign of Poverty 11, 2009, four-color woodblock monoprint, 42 x 32 in. (106.7 x 81.3 cm)



I grew up making books, and I love making books. It’s a medium and a format that feels good to me. I also have the skills from my design training, background and education, to make books. The artist exploits their skills to the best of their ability, and that happens to be where my skills are. I wanted to ask you about Sponsorship: The Fine Art Of Corporate Sponsorship/the Corporate Sponsorship Of Fine Art and its focus on the relationship between fine art and corporate money. What did you pull from this project and why did you want to do it? The Sponsorship project came about after being invited by Shepard Fairey to show in his project in Los Angeles 11 years ago. I wanted to take that opportunity to explore this idea of sponsorship and fine art, and to address this phenomenon of artists working with corporations. I had become very critical of exhibitions that were overly sponsored. For example, I saw a lot invitations to exhibitions where there were creative logos at the bottom. It almost came to the point where that was something valued, not seen as a detractor. These were badges of pride. Even for younger artists who were curious about creating exhibitions, the first thing that came to their minds was, “Who are we gonna get to sponsor it?” And it was just fucking ridiculous, so I wanted to do something that was even more ridiculous. I had an exhibition called Sponsorship, and the idea was that there was no actual artwork on display. It was all logos of our sponsors, sized on the wall according to their level of contribution. So you had large logos, small logos, corporations could straightup contribute money, or they could contribute product that would meet a certain dollar value. We had piles of swag to give away. And the corporate sponsors were fine with that? Was it a joke or something? I had everything outlined very carefully, and a very competent staff at the gallery pulled this whole thing together. And yeah, it wasn’t a case of anyone rolling their eyes. We were very transparent in our intentions, and there were enough companies that kind of got it. Big companies--Scion, Levi’s--and small, local companies too. That was the premise of the exhibition, and the publication was an extension of that. In the publication, I interviewed a lot of my friends and peers about some of the issues that we were addressing and specifically about their feelings about artists working with corporations and what that means.

I’m friends with a lot of so-called street artists and artists who were so-called street artists.

a path that will accommodate that, in very real, pragmatic, logistical terms.

Why do you say “so-called”? Because they’re in galleries now?

So you do think of your career as an arc?

I say “so-called” because I don’t think those artists would call themselves “street artists.” I think they’d call themselves artists. You know, people who wrote graffiti... I think we share some aesthetic sensibilities. My work is not necessarily inspired by graffiti directly, but by street and public signage and icon systems; symbol systems and visual language. I think a lot of graffiti artists are striving to make work that is seen quickly, so they’re making work that needs to communicate efficiently and quickly--the same way I was striving to achieve those qualities in my work. You have a tremendous catalog of work. What do you do in your downtime? It’s all downtime, or it’s all up-time. There isn’t much of a difference between work and home. Granted, they are two different spaces, but it wasn’t always the case. The studio I’m in now is a space my wife and I moved into and renovated in ‘97. Eventually the studio pushed us out, [but] there was a time where it was literally the same space. But the boundaries are blurry. I work at home. I’m always learning and making, and now that we have a little girl, there’s no real separation. She’s always in [the studio]. I draw with her and play with her, so it’s all the same. Having a holistic place like that is satisfying.

Yeah. Of course. I’ve always had five year plans. And this goes back to your question earlier about being young and fantasizing about having a show in a museum--I fantasize about doing large, public sculptures that I haven’t been able to do yet. I would love to do that. How do I get there, how do I do that? Well, I’m trying to figure that out. I’ll need more space to do some of the projects that I want to do. I need to connect with the right people to make some of those things happen. Those concerns are always present. Maybe not having enough time. Yeah, how do you manage time? How do you build a life that accommodates the studio practice, and my family, and if I want a life in different places around the world, how do I do that? How do I keep things going? It’s all very considered and with an eye toward the future, and like I said, there’s always a fiveyear plan. But that’s my nature anyway, and a lot of people aren’t like that. I’m not suggesting one should, that’s just kind of who I am. I make very calculated moves. I do things for very considered reasons. I’m always testing out and failing in the studio. I’m always researching. The studio’s kind of a research environment. And everything I do is thought out.

You can tell that by your work. It doesn’t look Did you ever imagine yourself being in museums like there are any accidents. Everything’s so and huge galleries? Going back maybe 15 years, clean and crisp, but then there’s a message was that a goal? layered on top. Forget 15, let’s go back 30 years. I can remember coming to the VMFA from Virginia Beach and fantasizing about having an exhibition. Like, “Oh, if I had a show here, I’d have a painting here, and we could do this...” And so it was always a fantasy. If you grow up being a musician or playing in a band, you probably imagine playing in a stadium, or playing Carnegie Hall. If you’re acting you have fantasies of playing on Broadway, or in a movie. So it kind of goes with the territory of being an artist. That’s one of the more frustrating things about a path in the arts--there’s no clear prescription for navigating a career, like there might be in the scientific or medical community. It makes it very difficult and fraught with anxiety. People are always asking, “How is that done?” I don’t know. It’s unique for every person.

And yeah, that’s again an extension of who I am by nature. I’m not saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing. But also, it is something I am always striving to hone. I’m trying to be more me, if that makes any sense, and always get at what makes me unique, and what is my message, my core contribution. What makes me and my work unique, and how do I share that with other people? How is that reflected in the work? And what does that mean to make work that reflects all those things? I’m still figuring all that out. I’ll be figuring that out for the rest of my life, and I’ll get closer and closer to the core of who I am. Everyone has that essential question on their mind, at their core.

Who am I? And beyond that, why am I? And those answers are what I mean by the truth. Were you surprised by the answers you got from Do you have a timeline? When you read about When I was talking about using drawings as a different artists? artists, there’s the beginning career, mid-career process to find the truth, I really mean that in a and late career. You’re in your mid-career now. more metaphysical way. It’s really the process I didn’t experience any surprise. My role was Do you feel like you have another 10-15 years for that reveals the truth. A surreal drawing of a kind of more of a journalist, so I was just trying really prolific work, then slow down? person with a fish wrapped around them [is] to document it. not the truth, but it’s the fact that I [drew] that. I’m 42, so if I said 20 more years, [that] would Somewhere in there, I find meaning. You mentioned Dalek, Kaws, Futura in the book. put me at 62, which is still relatively young for Does street art play a role in your art at all? Are an artist. So let’s [say] 25 more very fruitful you inspired by it? Are you interested in it? years [laughs]. But there’s no exit strategy, no end game. The work will always evolve and change and morph. So I just need to figure out 34














In the past year, Pixies have released a standalone single (“Bagboy”) as well as two fourtrack EPs (aptly titled EP1 and EP2). Besides a one-off song in 2003, this is the band’s first music in over twenty years, and the first music of any type without bassist Kim Deal. More importantly, this music is nothing short of a sharp departure from the Pixies’ trademark sound. You could definitely argue that every one of those songs has some element of the Pixies’ trademark sound, and that the band does have an eclectic catalogue of music. But for hardcore fans of 1989’s Doolittle or any of the band’s other amazing albums, a song like “Andro Queen” is going to be a big shock, whether you end up liking it or not. Whether you like it, love it, hate it, or don’t care, there’s no denying that it’s a bold step forward for the band. While other bands can be content touring behind old material for what seems like forever, the Pixies are challenging themselves to not only make new music, but make different music. And why shouldn’t they make different music? It’s 2014, not 1989. Doolittle is one of the greatest albums of all time, but trying to duplicate that record 25 years later is not only a lost cause, but also slightly delusional, and perhaps pathetic too. Talking to Pixies guitarist Joey Santiago about the band’s new music and the past year of their career was very surprising. After losing Kim Deal, firing her replacement Kim Shattuck, and having to sit through some of the most brutal reviews of all time (in particular, Pitchfork scoring their new EPs 1 of 10 and 2 of 10, respectively), you’d think he’d want to vent for hours on end. Instead, it’s the exact opposite. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some bitterness there; the man’s only human, after all. But as the legendary guitarist speaks about his band’s new work, his words are practically dripping with optimism and a regained enthusiasm for music. This is a man who loves what he’s doing and, above all else, that quality will always create music worth hearing. How does it feel to be touring with new material again for the first time in about two decades? [Laughs] Awesome. We feel like a band now. You know, bands record and make music. Obviously, I’ve always felt like I was in a band. The reunion tours we’ve been doing were great and all, but obviously this is something different, and it’s just fantastic. Any butterflies about presenting this new music out to the public? No, not at all. Because deep down, I just think it’s great. People will either embrace it or they won’t. It’s like when we were recording Doolittle or something. We didn’t give one shit if anyone would like it or anything. We just don’t care, 40

because we like it. That’s it. That’s all that matters. When we record stuff, it really is all about entertaining ourselves. For the people, I feel like if we’re entertained, then they will be entertained.

unlike other critics. He just had to get us all on board.

What did you make of some of the reviews you got, especially the 1 out of 10 rating from Pitchfork?

He’s always had it. At first, it was a blues riff that was a lot faster. He simplified it into just the two notes to create more space for the other parts of the songs. We had it before with Kim Deal. Kim recorded “Bagboy” and three other songs with us and that was it. She was on board with the new stuff and totally loved it. For some reason or another though, she had to go. She had to leave. That’s a mystery to us. We had dinner, she told us, and she wished us well. It was pretty sad, but it was a very amicable parting because that’s how professionals part with each other, if you catch my drift. I mean, it’s nice to have one Kim that’s professional.

We don’t give a shit. That’s Pitchfork and I know it’s kind of what they’re known for, but I think it was a joke. I think it was their way of getting readers or getting noticed or publicity or whatever. I mean, I just don’t know what the guy did to review it. The idiot probably didn’t even listen to it. Maybe for a second, or just a half-assed listen in the background, but I don’t think he really listened to it. I mean, how could you slam something like that and not find anything good about the music? You don’t even deserve to be a music critic at that point. At that point, it seems like you don’t even like music at all. Just seems like you hate everything. Jesus Christ, the guy probably would have slammed Picasso when he went through his cubism stage, writing something like “What the fuck is this?” What an asshole. He just seems to enjoy destroying music which is the exact opposite of what I want to do. I want to create. He wants to destroy. Guy’s a dick. Let me know where that fucker lives, all right? [Laughs]

So then how did your first single back, “Bagboy,” come about?

Going off that subtle reference, how’s your new bass player, Paz Lenchantin, working out?

Oh, Paz is awesome. She’s a professional. She does her homework. She learned the lyrics without even being asked. She’s flawless as a bass player and as a singer. She’s got great manners too and we welcome her with big open arms. Hopefully, she loves us more than we love her. We got in touch with her through a recommendation from a great friend of mine, Josh Freese. He’s a great drummer and he played with Paz in A Perfect Circle. When I’m sure you’re not the only one to feel that way he recommended her, I asked him if there was toward Pitchfork. Anyway, did it feel weird to anyone else he could think of, because we were move forward without Kim Deal as part of the doing tryouts so we didn’t want to just have band? one person show up. Josh called me back and said, “I don’t have anyone else. Just try Paz.” It did initially, and it does on occasion. I think He was basically telling me that we didn’t need about it, but now we’re on this schedule, so to try out anyone else but Paz. We tried her out that kind of consumes my mind. We have to be and she was just awesome, so Josh was right. here at a certain time because we wanted to It was a great fit. and we booked it that way. There’s barely time to think about it until you’re up on stage and So moving forward, will Paz be a part of the she’s not at the other end of the stage. Outside recording process or just a touring member? of that, it’s just the schedule. What time do I have to do this interview, get on this bus, do Well… I don’t know. Has she recorded with us? this soundcheck, etc. You tell me! Was Kim the one putting the brakes on releasing new music as rumored? I don’t know, man... Well, she was definitely one of the main hangups, but she wasn’t the only one and it’s not like she was completely against it. Charles [Thompson, aka Black Francis] was kind of a hold-up too. He was very concerned about where the sound was going to come from or what the sound direction was going to be. The birth of a song and waiting for the muse to happen, those sort of things. I don’t write the songs, so that was on him. He comes up with the songs and then presents them to us. At that point, we become his toughest critics, except we actually really listen to his songs,

All right, all right. Well, how important was it for you guys to get Gil Norton back as a producer for this new material? Very important. I mean, he’s worked on the vast majority of what we’ve done. He knew the history so he was going to be the guy to help us write the next chapter of our catalogue. I think he did a great job too with directing our sound. It’s a lot cleaner sounding, which is different. That’s all right, but there are still a lot of gritty moments. “Blue Eyed Hexe” is not a friendly-sounding song, you know? Helping RVA MAGAZINE 16 SPRING 2014

us with the sound was half of wanting to work with him. The other half is that he just gets us. We have our quirks so we were afraid to scare off a new producer. Like we get some hot-shot young producer and just scare him off. He’d go tell everyone, “Those guys are just fucked up.” I mean, everyone’s like that, but the three of us are just a different kind of fucked up. It wasn’t even a question of should we get Gil or not. It just went without saying.

one, but still a radio station. We have tons of different kinds of music. In the end though, it still sounds like the Pixies, right? We’re a factory that just can’t help but produce Pixies sounding stuff. Even when we cover stuff, like Neil Young or Leonard Cohen, it ends up sounding like the Pixies. We just can’t help it. How would you compare EP1 to EP2?

Honestly, I don’t know. “Blue Eyed Hexe” could be compared to “What Goes Boom” sonically, but I mean, all the songs from the EPs are different. That’s what they have in common Well, we’ve always had this disparity in style, they’re all different. They’re EPs. There should which is what I don’t understand from some be a variety of songs presented. It doesn’t of the criticism. “Hey” sounds nothing like have to be as coherent as an album and that’s “Tame.” It’s not like there was never any old a good thing for what we’re doing right now. Pixies sound on these new songs. On the chorus for “Bagboy,” my guitar part is classic So what about making an album? and I love it. It was such an epic moment and the song was just begging for it. Nowadays Well, we’re not at that stage yet. We’re on with my personal sound, I place things very touring mode so we’re not down with talking carefully, and that was just a moment where I like that right now. [Black Francis] will come was like, “This is it!” There are a lot of moments to me with an idea to do this or that every now on the EPs where you can hear the grossness, and then. We’ll entertain the idea, but then or my own personal sound as opposed to some we’ll just get busy with whatever. It’s hard for of the cleaner sounding stuff. But then again, us to set aside that time right now. The EPs I can’t help it. I can’t help sounding like me. work for what we’re doing right now. We like it It’s a silly statement, but I got to be me. Even and I think the fans like it too. Maybe down the with my own sound, all the songs are different. line, but it’s not on our agenda right now. We’re like a radio station. Maybe a fucked up Would you say that “cleaner sounding” style is what led to some criticism?


So how many more EPs should we be expecting? Oh, God! Well, at least one or two more. We’re just going to keep on recording, so there’s going to be infinite more. We’re going to record again and really act like a rock band again. Rock bands keep recording, so we will too. I don’t know how many EPs there are going to end up being, but it will be more than one and I’m pretty excited for them. Sounds like you’re just having fun in music again. Having fun and more importantly, appreciating music again. I’m just tired of all the moaning and bitching in music today. It’s a great life. It’s why anyone picks up the guitar, really. I’d say 97% of people who pick up a guitar aspire to tour the world and “be a rock star” and make a bunch of music. I just love it. Even though I miss home at times, I got to earn money and this is the best way to do it. Not only the best, but the most awesome. I don’t think I’ll ever be breaking guitar strings with my teeth again unless [Black Francis] tells me I got spinach in my teeth, but overall, I’m loving music again and being a band again.




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I’m sitting in an old luxury home someplace in Chesterfield. There are about 18 pairs of shoes in a pile near the front door, including my own. The living room is a mess with costumes and production staff. Richmond filmmaker Drew Bolduc is pacing around the next room, red hair a mess and glasses slightly off-kilter. Across from this tortured genius sits a similarly tortured genius, though the latter is one who you might be a bit more familiar with.



Lloyd Kaufman--67, grey haired, face wrinkled and worn like a knot in an oak tree--is sitting in a leather chair wrapped in a blanket and breathing heavily with an oxygen tank. He’s faking it, though. The co-creator of Troma Entertainment, with over 50 years of filmmaking under his belt, is still quite spry and alert, but he’s doing a walk-on part for Bolduc’s new movie. Someone yells, “Action!” and Kaufman starts mumbling.

“Mommy! Mommy! uggggggg…. I wet myself.” I’m on the set of Science Team, a horror/scifi movie that has since been indepentently released. The local project is the most recent mutant-brain-child of Bolduc, whose last film, The Taint, received international acclaim and helped put Richmond on the map as a place for out-of-this-world movies featuring exploding penises (many, many exploding penises). Bolduc’s work on The Taint got him an audience


with Kaufman, and earned the fledgling movie maker a chance to do special effects on the Troma movie Return to Nuke ‘Em High, released in 2013. Bolduc impressed Kaufman so much, the film legend offered to play this walk-on part in Science Team for free. He covered the train ticket, and is even sleeping at a friend’s house.

a movie might be a good thing, because then you really think about it. You have other people giving you their opinions, and you get ideas, and you read the script, and you say, “Why don’t I try this thing? Or this rhythm?” With digital, it can go so fast--so maybe you lose something in the fact that you don’t have the time to stand back a bit and look at your work.

“Cut!” yells Bolduc. And this gives me a few minutes to have a conversation with a film You learned about Bolduc through The Taint, his legend. last movie--which featured Richmond heavily, as well as a lot of full frontal male nudity. How did Does shooting on a set like this kind of hearken you feel about The Taint? back to days of old for you? It has a great environmental message about I like new locations because the films that water supply, which is coming to haunt us. The Troma makes, like Poultrygeist: Night of the world is running out of water. My daughter Chicken Dead or Tromeo and Juliet, are totally (Charlotte) spent two years in Yemen, and unreal. So to have one foot in reality and real Yemen’s got a huge water problem. I did a locations, it gives the audience something to piece about BP on YouTube where I portrayed cling to. They can believe in the movie. And the chairman of BP talking about the [oil] spill. also, some of these locations you couldn’t It was obviously a satirical thing. create. We shot in a water factory in Buffalo. It was huge. You couldn’t have built that, and Fast Food Nation was a great book, [but] the if you did, it wouldn’t look real. [If] you shoot movie appealed only to yuppies, to people who in a 100 year old bakery, it’s so much more were already interested. It was boring. No one interesting, and you just couldn’t build that. It’s went to see it. Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken so much better to go to a real place. Dead, there’s a movie that some people saw. And maybe it changed a few. Maybe it got So Lloyd Kaufman will never be doing movies on people thinking a little bit. And they had a good green screens? time. But what’s great about The Taint is that it’s got an important theme, a satire of American Well, Return to Nuke ’em High was the first culture. It’s got some great effects. Technically time I directed a movie with digital cameras. it’s brilliant, and it’s extremely entertaining. We’ve produced some, but I’ve never directed one. Return to Nuke ’em High has some green I took the train here for seven hours because screen in it, and Drew Bolduc is responsible I identify Drew as talented, perhaps the next for it. Unfortunately, I know nothing about it. Trey Parker or Matt Stone. Troma discovered I didn’t shoot it very nicely, and that was very them. They did Cannibal: the Musical for Troma, frustrating for Drew, I think. I just didn’t know they went on to do… well, I don’t know what anything about planning it out. I still don’t. happened to them. They sure were talented! James Gunn did Tromeo and Juliet, and is now So you still learn stuff. directing Guardians of the Galaxy. A lot of famous people came out of Troma, and I think Shit yeah, especially digital. It’s so different, and Drew will be recognized as one of the world so much more fun too. You save a lot of time class directors. I paid for my ticket myself, I’m on lighting. Actually filming a 35mm movie has sleeping in somebody’s house, it’s definitely never been fun, and filming RTNH, which was not luxury. I had some kind of three foot... digital, it was fun. This movie [Science Team] is insect that attacked my laptop in bed last night. fun; it doesn’t take all day to light a room, and All because I think [Drew]’s really important. you can shoot so many more angles. How has the distribution of The Taint gone? Do you think filmmakers today will lack the appreciation for the cutting room floor? Editing It’s a difficult movie, like all Troma movies. It’s in a locked basement working frame by frame? ahead of its time and it’s slightly controversial. Do you think that’s part of the process, or do And it’s got a lot of exploding penises, which you think it just evolves and now it’s a little apparently is a problem in places like Australia. different? We played it at Tromadance Film Festival, [which] was a reaction to Sundance--we felt Well, that’s a good question. I think that the Sundance was exploiting the filmmakers and digital format empowers you to be much more the fans, and really was a tool of the elites. independent and much more creative. You can Drew sent the movie in there, and we loved it. control so much more. With 35mm, you need yourself a supervising editor, and you need at Have a lot of the independent festival scenes least two assistants. Even on our low budget changed? movies, because there is so much rewinding and reconstituting and numbering. It’s a really I think Cannes has changed a lot. The first time horrible exercise. With the digital format, you I went I slept on the beach. I had a 35mm movie can be an auteur without having to hear from and I had enough money to rent a theater so we anyone else. Which can be good, in that you could show the movie to try to get distributors have total control over it, and you can do it a around the world. But I didn’t have money for hell of a lot faster. [But] faster’s not necessarily a hotel. good. Sometimes, taking six months to edit CHECK RVAMAG.COM DAILY


This requiring of dress codes and formalizing the whole experience--is that a manifestation of the change in the industry? Since I started Troma Entertainment with Michael Herz, my Yale friend, we’ve noticed that the industry has become more and more consolidated. The rules that used to prevent monopoly have virtually been done away with, through Reagan’s administration and Clinton’s administration. So what protected the public against monopoly is no longer there. I’ve done a lot of lobbying as the elected chairman of The Independent Film and Television Alliance. I’m not paid. Troma is the oldest one--we are 40 years old next year. No studio is able to exist that long. Not because they are making bad movies, but because they can’t eat, they can’t survive. Vertically integrated media conglomerates own the newspapers, the TV stations, and they control the movie theaters, so it’s very difficult for a young talented person to even get seen, to get mentioned. So if nobody knows you’re making the movie, no matter how great your movie is, how do you live? The making of cinema has been democratized, as evidenced by this film Science Team. Drew Bolduc is making a movie for well under $25,000, and it’s gonna be brilliant. He’s very talented and the technology has advanced so that anyone can make his, her, or its movie. But the distribution method is stuck back in 1890. It’s the elites who still control that. So it’s impossible to live. With all this democratization of film, and these smaller movies not making it on the big screen, do you believe big theater is still the best way to see a film?

It wasn’t what it is today. Today it’s all corporate elitist, almost like a military thing. I got kicked out of the Coen brothers screening because I wore the wrong tuxedo. Six goons pulled me out of line. I didn’t have the right color. Everyone has to be black, apparently, everyone has to be the same. I’ve been wearing the same tuxedo for over 40 years. It was kind of a dark paisley. It’s custom made! It wasn’t solid black, and that’s a new rule. It didn’t used to be that way. I remember I got some flack because I had green pants once. The guy stopped me, about 15 years ago, because I had green pants in 46

my tuxedo. And then the other guard said, “No no no, he’s Troma, you let him in.” But now it’s developed to the point where the whole message of that place is “It’s all about Leonardo DiCaprio.” Not that he isn’t talented, he’s very talented, but the whole idea of a festival is to try and expose new talent. So we created Occupy Cannes. We brought about 15 people there and we tried to raise the profile of independent art. We tried to bring some fun to the festival.

I like movie theaters. They don’t have to be IMAX or 3D. I started making movies in the late 60s, so there wasn’t anything but movies. There was TV, but that was not a movie media. And I think the communal experience is very different from watching a movie on Netflix. And a Troma movie, especially-we have a huge amount of people in them. Thousands of people. I have a lot of stuff in the background that I want people to see. It’s part of the entertainment. Sometimes there’s goofy things going on in the background while the main characters are doing dialogue. There’s all sorts of detail, and you don’t see that detail in movies like Return to Nuke ‘Em High, unless you see it on a big screen. So a movie like that needs to be, and we will have some theatrical distribution. If I direct a movie, it can usually get into about 300 theaters; not all at once, one by one. You’ve been doing this for so many years, and you’ve had ups and downs, but you are certainly the best at what you do. What do you think the recipe for success is? Well, if you’re in the arts, it should be an expression of your soul. That should be enough. I think that’s pretty much what art is. I think the most valuable thing that the RVA MAGAZINE 16 SPRING 2014

recipient can give you is not money, but time. So I’m not necessarily against piracy--I think it helps the independent artist. I’m all about the independent. Michael Herz and I do whatever we can to raise independent filmmaking that’s really independent. Sundance Film Festival was basically a vessel for Rupert Murdoch and his minions. It’s not about really encouraging independent cinema.

there will be the giant event [films like] Iron Man 3, and then everybody is kind of in themselves. Tromeo and Juliet, the theme of that was that the post war baby boomers, like Clinton’s generation, have kind of smothered the next generation. They are so ultra cool and they have destroyed the concept of love. 50% of them are divorced, and as a result the next generation turned inward. And this may well [mean] that we are going to be more involved To thine own self be true. That’s a phrase in watching this thing on our own. I honestly uttered by one William Shakespeare, who don’t know where it’s going, but it sure would by the way wrote the very important best- be great to get it out of the hands of the people selling 101 screenplay ideas, otherwise known who made Forrest Gump or Pretty Woman. as Hamlet. I think if you do what you believe in, you’ll be successful. Unless you’re a serial With services like Vine, how do you feel about killer, in which case you may get electrocuted. the jump of every Joe Shmoe being able to record I don’t think serial killers believe in what they really high quality? are doing anyway. It’s pretty interesting. When I was at Yale and I There were these monks, illuminated books, would go to the movies, there would be a short they did them by hand. It would take them 20 film at the beginning. And then shorts went years to make one book. Then what happened? away. Other than as calling cards so that young Gutenberg invents the printing press. Puts directors could get a job, short films were not them all out of work. The elite were destroyed. seen. They had no value, really. They were not The printing press comes along and a lot of useful to you or to the audience. They just people start reading. Books are new. They’ve didn’t exist, even though they are wonderful only been around for 5 or 600 years--that’s it! things. And now it’s come full circle. Now the Copyright has only been around for 200 years. short film is kind of driving the whole industry again. People are making million dollar movies Maybe the six second thing (like Vine and that can be chopped up in bite sized pieces Instagram) becomes what we do. Or maybe so they can get on YouTube as video blogs or CHECK RVAMAG.COM DAILY

whatever you call them. The short form has come back with a vengeance, and you’ve got people who would never ever have made it in movies with the system of Rupert Murdoch dominating. But with the internet they can do three-minute pieces every day, and accumulate viewers, and actually make a living. The Angry Video Game Nerd, he’s created this incredible world unto his own, and he doesn’t need his day job anymore because he’s so popular. He crowdfunded a horror film, which was his true love, and how terrific is that? There’s all sorts of great talent that this is exposing in the short form. So it may well supersede the long form movie. It’s very possible. In a way it already has. How many billions of short pieces are on YouTube, how many thousands of them get a shitload of eyeballs? Troma has three channels and we put up a short piece almost every day. In some cases more people see that short in a week than see one of our films in a year on screen. It’s definitely a revolution going on. ----Science Team is out now. For information about upcoming screenings, goto





In a city filled with active arts communities, Richmond’s modern dance scene has often flown under the radar. However, a group of dance companies and choreographers hope to change that with this year’s first annual Richmond Dance Festival. Bringing together dancers from multiple generations and highly varied backgrounds, the Richmond Dance Festival will take place at the Dogtown Dance Theatre in the Manchester district, over a series of weekends in April and May. According to Dogtown founder Rob Petres, “The festival will showcase Dogtown Dance Theatre as a lively, collaborative, and innovative nexus for dance in Richmond.” In doing so, it will show the wider Richmond arts scene just how diverse, vibrant, and entertaining RVA’s modern dance scene can be. Here’s a more detailed look at each company participating in the Richmond Dance Festival (RDF).


About his own piece, Rob says, “My own work will take the form of a video dance based on a solo titled, ‘Assessing Internal Damage,’ choreographed during the spring of 2013.” Of her piece, Vicki Fink comments, “I am fascinated by the individual moral responsibilities humans strive to uphold within families and culture and how we conceal some truths in order to preserve ourselves as perfect. In ‘Unveiled Heart’ (working title), six dancers represent a unit or family attempting to conceal their individual and collective truths in order to stay together.”


Rebecca Ferrell teaches in the dance programs at both VCU and the University of Richmond. She also performs with a variety of local dance companies and writes dance reviews for GayRVA, RVAMag’s sister website. Her company, FDance, exists as a K DANCE vehicle for expressing her unique personality to the world. Indeed, this comes through in the name Kaye Weinstein Gary is a master teacher with she’s chosen. While the name could easily stand the Virginia Commission for the Arts Artist-in- for her last name, she laughingly mentions that “it Education Program and teaches at the Richmond could also mean Fuck Dance.” Ballet, as well as other locations. She has received more awards and accolades than we can This playful reference to sex is entirely appropriate. reasonably list, and her artistic leadership of K Sexual situations are at the forefront of both pieces Dance provides a powerhouse of dance excellence Ferrell is producing for the RDF. The first, “Let’s Go and education. The non-profit company produces Back To The Part Where You Lie On Top Of Me,” is at least two major events each year, including YES! a duet choreographed by Ferrell and performed by Dance Invitational. Jess Burgess and Danica Kalemdaroglu, the artistic directors of RVA Dance Collective. Inspired by K Dance’s contribution to RDF is SHORTS, a both contact-oriented improvisational dance and collaboration of theatre and dance that will include the physical intimacies that occur during romantic five short plays. Each segment is choreographed relationships, the piece’s theme is “that weird part by Gary, but three directors and eleven performers just before you know a relationship’s about to end.” also make up the ensemble. SHORTS will prove to be humorous, but will also display the artistic Her second piece, a solo performance entitled prowess of Gary and the versatility of both the “Homemade (House) Grenade,” includes video performers and the medium. clips, text by local actress Rebecca Muhleman, two narrators, and a “fictitious stage manager.” About the dance scene in Richmond, Gary sums it At the center of it all is Ferrell herself, a presence up in one word - diverse. She says, “I have been she characterizes as “destructive when it comes to happy to produce concerts in Richmond and relationships.” By attempting to “reintroduce the appreciate the support I have received for the work destruction I have carelessly wrought in the lives of K Dance has done for the past 15 years.” the people who have loved me,” Ferrell intends to put the painful dark side of romantic relationships on display, forcing her audience, as well as herself, GROUND ZERO DANCE to come to terms with it. Ground Zero Dance (GZDC) started out as Steve’s House Dance Collective, a well-known collective of dancers, choreographers, sculptors, and poets who took turns putting on concerts around Richmond. Though not formally organized, it carried on strong from 1992 to 1999 under the direction of cofounders Rob Petres and Ray Schwartz. By August of 2000, Petres, along with Pam England, Victoria Fink, and Lea Marshall, incorporated as GZDC. The group has been presenting original, exciting work around Richmond ever since.

UNHEARD-OF PRACTICES Robbie Kinter feels strongly that using live music in a dance concert creates a lasting impression on the audience. When he started Unheard-of Practices in 1991, he partnered with percussion ensemble Ruckus Watusi and six dancers, and created an hour long piece presented to a soldout house. Subsequent Unheard-of Practices presentations, which have occurred at intervals of several years, have featured music from the Ululating Mummies and Ruckus Watusi, as well as Kinter’s choreography and kinetic sculptures. These have all paved the way for Unheard-of Practices 4, Kinter’s contribution to the Richmond Dance Festival.

GZDC is a the resident company of Dogtown Dance Theatre, and Petres says that GZDC envisioned a dance festival in Richmond years ago. He says, “This year marks the first iteration of what we hope will become an annual or biannual festival showcasing the diverse talent of Richmond’s contemporary dance community.” The latest edition of Unheard-of Practices will feature live music performed by Rattlemouth and Pam England, Victoria Fink, and Rob Petres will all Ruckus Watusi. Kinter has choreographed six contribute work to Ground Zero’s RDF program. pieces for the concert. Among them is his latest CHECK RVAMAG.COM DAILY

work, “Trouble.” Robbie and Frances Wessells will perform their latest piece to the Rattlemouth song “Awaiting the Comfort of a Bittersweet Memory.” Ground Zero member Pam England and VCU Dance alumni Beau Dobson will also premiere new pieces. Kinter, who has been involved with dance in Richmond for more than thirty years, believes that dance is on the cusp of a new stage in Richmond’s artistic scene. Kinter says “The local companies are as culturally and stylistically diverse as our communities.” He hopes that the Richmond Dance Festival will help cultivate a larger audience for dance in Richmond.

MOVEMENT HOUSE Movement House will debut at the Richmond Dance Festival. VCU student Johnnie Mercer, Jr. and VCU alum Rachel Rinehardt have co-created this company, full of emerging artists “dedicated to deconstructing the idea of ‘contemporary dance’ in effort to break the generational assumption of what dance can and will be.” This emerging collective blends the old with the new and pulls from various aesthetics. Mercer and Rinehardt’s goal is to create a “safe haven” for creative young dancers. Rinehardt will present both old and new works. She pulls from an eclectic mixture of inspiration, including the work of Truman Capote, the illustrations of Shel Silverstein, old educational films on psychology, and more. Rinehardt is presenting five pieces in all, each exploring the creative process, the randomness of life, and the basics of human personality and acceptance. Her work is dark, quirky, surreal, and powerful. Mercer will present two new works. One pulls “emotionally and kinesthetically from the Southern gay African-American experience.” The piece blends the theatrical with a traditional choreographic structure and is raw, fastpaced, and emotionally charged. The other, a collaboration with fellow VCU students Noelle Choy, Torian Ugworji, and Brandon Butts, follows thirteen dancers as they “embody duality, chance and destiny” in a depiction of the decision-making process. Mercer and Rinehardt will also present a cochoreographed piece called “MOVE!” It is a piece that celebrates dance for dance’s sake, taking the expertise of two friends and collaborators who use choreographic tools to create a whirlwind of movement that leaves the dancers with nothing but bare bodies and hearts. Performance schedule for the Richmond Dance Festival is as follows: K Dance: April 25-26 Ground Zero Dance + FDance: May 2-3 RVA Dance Film Screenings: May 9-10 Unheard-Of Practices: May 16-17 Movement House: May 23-24 Tickets go on sale April 1 at




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Kathleen Hanna isn’t just a punk singer--she’s a feminist icon. Frustrated by the casual sexism she encountered in the punk rock scene of the late 80s, she formed Bikini Kill in the early 90s to strike back through loud music and angry declarations of female solidarity. The punk feminist movement Bikini Kill spearheaded was known as Riot Grrrl, and through Hanna’s music, activism, and writings, published mainly in handmade, xeroxed zines, she became a hero and an inspiration to a generation of young women seeking a positive alternative to the objectification-oriented culture of Hollywood and the mainstream media. Hanna continued to make music after Bikini Kill’s breakup with synth-punk group Le Tigre, who released three albums between 1999 and 2004. She now fronts The Julie Ruin, which expands an earlier one-off solo project into a quintet their first album, Run Fast, was released to widespread acclaim in September 2013 by DC’s Dischord Records. The Punk Singer (2013) tells the story of Hanna’s life from her early days with Bikini Kill, playing house shows and stapling zines, to tours with Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin. Told through raw footage and in interviews with those closest to Hanna, the journey from underground feminist icon to modern touring performer takes a disheartening turn as the punk singer’s unexplained 2005 disappearance from the public eye is finally laid bare. About 300,000 Americans are infected with Lyme Disease each year, a statistic Hanna has become all too familiar with. The movie documents her condition, often in brutal detail; a point Hanna soon realized would be key to not only her life, but the impact she hoped to make on others. CHECK RVAMAG.COM DAILY


Hanna spoke with me via telephone ahead of The Punk Singer’s opening here in Richmond late last year. She mentioned her own Richmond connection: a sister and a medical procedure which would impact her outlook on life forever. Through your career and through the movie, there’s a heavy stress on feminism, and the work you did in the 90’s; how do you feel about the conversations around gender and feminism on the internet? I try and stay off the internet as much as possible because I really like living my real life. I kinda have been dealing with an illness and trying to get better, so that’s what I’ve been dealing with. What I have come across, just because I am a musician and I have been doing shows and I have a new record out, I have come across a lot of conversations about gender and music that have been interesting. Younger women are starting to be like, “Hey, it isn’t fair that I am being treated this way.” [I’m] feeling that the same battles we were fighting in the nineties are being fought again. But this time because of the internet, these younger women are able to connect with each other and commiserate. I think it’s creating a loose-knit community of women who maybe are different and don’t agree on everything, but they do agree with the feeling that the treatment they’re getting is not right. So, they’re kinda banding together, and for me that’s really exciting. That’s kind of the angle that I come from. The movie talks about the zines you created alongside your musical projects. Do you see parallels between the work you did then with any modern musical or artistic releases? I can definitely draw lines from Pussy Riot. [I]

see them wearing bright and colorful costumes (at least when they weren’t in jail), calling themselves Pussy Riot--which obviously has a relationship to Riot Grrrl--and having this very pastiche style, and also incorporating this kind of performance art. I definitely see the thing with fanzines. I see more women in music doing blogs and communicating with fans through twitter, and we were communicating with our fans or people who would hopefully want to follow along with us [by] doing our zine. We did it because there was no internet, and that really transferred into my music. You see some acts getting real creative like you did--making their own album cases and art. I definitely think that younger musicians, kids today--I hate saying that!--and musicians in the underground scene have a longing for a pre-internet culture that they never knew. They long for the physical contact. They’re like, trading cassettes again. Some of [the recordings] can be really, like, “What?” It’s bad quality, don’t do that, go digital. It’s better quality! To me, everything digital is just so interesting, but I still think bank machines are a revelation. Money, coming out of a wall! That’s so crazy! It’s interesting that people are getting back into craft, and I think it does have a lot to do with nostalgia for something that people never knew. I feel lucky that I have gotten to see both worlds. There’s a lot in the movie about the violence and aggression at shows in the 90’s. Do you think that aggression still exists in shows today? You know, I am not really sure. I am much more into like the downtown New York Cabaret scene, and there’s definitely not [laughs] a lot


of violence there. But, when I do go to shows, I don’t see it. I am not hearing people yelling at women to shut up and play, but I am also not seeing as many performers in general talking between songs about, “Hey, this is what my song’s about.” I don’t know why musicians are like this, but we don’t take the time to realize, “Hey, this is a fucking show. I am putting on a show.” You know, and trying to really connect with an audience like they’re there. Sometimes it makes me kinda depressed. I don’t really want to see a show where its just song-songsong-song-song-song. I mean, I could just listen to the album at home. Does the modern music scene carry a message like your music did? I think a lot of people who are in music are still speaking out against racism and sexism and homophobia in music. Definitely. I don’t think it’s necessarily any better or any worse. To add on to what I was saying before, what makes me sad is that, you know, one of the reasons why we got yelled at and so much shit when we were on stage is because I talked between songs. It was like, “Shut up, just play. Shut up, just play.” When I see any kind of band who clearly has really great ideas and is doing really interesting stuff, but they’re not talking between songs and letting people know “these are my ideas,” or “this is what’s behind what I am doing” or “what we’re doing as a team,” it feels very safe. I feel like there’s this unwritten thing that’s like, “Just don’t say anything,” you know? And there may be these women who are like, “I may be in a band but I’m not a feminist;” “I don’t wanna call myself a feminist;” “I don’t hate men!” [laughs] The movie is made up of lots and lots of footage of you throughout your career - starting really early and moving on up until today. It even shows some of the more visually stunning aspects of your illness in the film. Do you feel


particularly comfortable being filmed? Do you feel like there’s a role the camera plays in your life? I have never really felt comfortable on camera until I got sick. [Laughs] And then I felt like, “I have to do this. I have to make sure my work is documented.” Because you just don’t know. People just don’t know how bad it gets, and how uncertain your future looks, when you have this illness. I was kinda like, let’s just do this. All my ego went out the door, all my worrying about what I look like. I did style myself with bright pretty colors in frame [laughs]. You know, there was a lot of stuff where I was like, “I am just going to say everything.” I am going to be on camera, and when I have the chance to do a photo shoot for my band, I am going to do it. I might as well enjoy this now, whereas before I hated being on camera or getting my photo taken. I just saw it as a bummer. And then I was like, “I have to do this now, otherwise I might not get a chance later.”

gutsy it was to do that, and when I thought, “I don’t want to look bad on camera,” or “I don’t wanna put this in, it will make me look weak” or whatever, I just think about her and what she did for me. I need to do this. I have had such an overwhelming response. I think that was the tipping point. I’m getting masses of emails, I am being interviewed by people who have had the disease. Every time I get interviewed I am getting at least one or two people who have a similar story, and that’s pretty intense. Do you have any advice for feminist activists fighting against the repression going on in VA at the lawmaker’s level? I guess I would say support each other and don’t focus on the crazy people. Focusing on the crazy people is just not worth it, you know what I mean?

Absolutely. I mean, it was really important to me that it was in there, but it wasn’t the focus. I thought while I am telling the truth, I have to tell the truth about this illness. You know, during the filming, I got this diagnosis, and I was very ill and didn’t know what I had. Both of those things were in the film because it was just the truth.

You know, I actually had an abortion in Richmond. I was only fifteen and they made me write an essay about why I should be allowed to have an abortion, and the doctor wouldn’t speak. They told me he had laryngitis, but as soon as they wheeled me out of the room, I heard him speaking with the nurses. I realized he was afraid. He had a mask on the whole time; he was afraid he would have his identity known. And this was in 1985. Now you’d think it should be so much better than that. My experience wasn’t that horrible--I could write a mean essay.

I had an experience where I was having seizures because of my neurological problem, and they were very strange seizures. I went online and typed “lyme seizures,” and this YouTube video came up of this girl, and I saw her seizure. It was exactly what mine looked like. I was so grateful for her for doing that, and I knew how many people probably came down on her, and they were like, “You’re faking it!” I knew how

I mean, it was degrading to have to do that to get access to health care. I worked down the street at McDonald’s to make some money. I was only there [in Richmond] for the summer. I got pregnant and didn’t want my mom or anybody to know, so I went to stay with my sister, who went to VCU; worked at McDonald’s; and saved up my money to have an abortion. And had a sub sandwich after.

Did you think it was particularly important to talk about the illness in this documentary--both your own experience and the illness in general?


Bikini Kill actually played there [in Richmond], and my sister got up on stage and sang with us. It was amazing. The other thing that was really incredible about playing in Richmond was that a woman who worked in a juvenile detention hall brought like 20 girls to the show. I was like, “How’d she manage to do this?” I will never know. It was one of the coolest shows I have ever played. It was so great to see. And it has an underground music scene, because when I lived there, there was a record store [Plan 9]. I would go there to try and meet people and talk to them, but it was really hard. I didn’t know you had such a Richmond connection. I know you’ve toured with your new band The Julie Ruin; do you have plans to come to Richmond? Definitely. We are touring the states in the spring, and it’s important for me to get there. I’ve lived so many places since I was a kid and there are certain places you have to go back and have a good experience of. You know what I mean? My next experience [in Richmond] was really bad; we played over a burrito place and the sound guy was like, someone’s neighbor’s cousin who didn’t know what he was doing, and treated us really poorly. There were like 30 people there. It was in like, 2000, the early days of Le Tigre. I’d love to catch you at a place like Strange Matter here in Richmond. It’s a smaller venue. That sounds great. How big of a venue? Like 300 people? Yeah, maybe less than that? That might be great... I’d rather have a packed house than a half empty theatre.






















Against Me! have always stood proudly behind their convictions, and that’s never been more true than it is on their new album, a tale of a transgender prostitute informed by singer Laura Jane Grace’s own recent transition. Delivered with a ferocity the band’s been missing for a few years, this album demonstrates life’s ability to newly inspire even angry punks. (SC)

If you ever experience a break-up in a country setting that seems lost in time, don’t fret – Angel Olsen will guide you through your rough patch with this outstanding record. Her gritty compositions are delivered with a polished production and lyrics that are utterly heartbreaking and painfully honest. Altogether, it makes for a great record, heartbreak or no. (DN)

One part Talking Heads, one part Deerhoof, one part Dirty Projectors and one part incredibly awesome. That equation gives you only a slight idea of how impressive Ava Luna’s latest recorded incarnation is. Creatively ambitious, it retains a catchy wit that should provide a proper soundtrack to anyone’s late night rendezvous in the near future. (SC)









Bad Motivator formed a few years ago but set the sound aside temporarily. Now the band has dusted off its chops to release three EPs this year. The first, Lust, Loss, and Self-Destruction, brings to mind Queens of the Stone Age and Jane’s Addiction. The band tumbles through psych/garage bangers like “Peach Daqueries and Watermelon” [sic] with authority. (SML)



The last remaining giant of 90’s alternative rock settles into his Neil Young California desert phase with a lush album of understated acoustic-electro ballads. Morning Phase will leave the desert between your toenails and the sun in your eyes. (AC)

Bleeding Rainbow defy expectations with their new full-length. Interrupt is all over the place, showing deliberate focus on several pop gems while unleashing some sludgy rockers that feel lifted from nineties alternative rock. “Tell Me” is a perfect exercise in creating a lingering anthem that will remain on repeat for days. (SC)

James Mercer, also of The Shins, once again delivers his exceptionally unique sound. Mercer and production partner Danger Mouse drizzle just the right amount of poppy beats in an indie rock feel to create an album that’s hollow in the best kind of way. It’s perfect for reading under a tree or driving on a Sunday morning. (JS)

On their full-length debut, this Italian metal band appears completely fearless. Beginning with a metalcore foundation, then incorporating everything from power metal wails to hyperbolic guitar squeals and even the occasional jazz breakdown, Destrage throw everything but the kitchen sink at you-and somehow, all of it works. They aren’t kidding--this album’s as delightful as it is headspinning. (AN)





RVA’s Heavy Midgets always impressed me, but never like this. Super King is the record that should make everyone take notice of their unique sensibilities. Chock full of psychedelic jams, raging rockers, and dynamic instrumentation, this is a record that needs to be heard by all. (SC)

The Lawrence Arms are the most consistently awesome punk band around. Metropole is yet another indication that when this trio gets together to record an album, the end result is always fantastic. This is the perfect punk band for literary types who also enjoy letting alcohol be their guide through the night. (SC)


In the four years since their first record, Dum Dum Girls have evolved into an entirely different band. Their affinity for lo-fi stardom has been replaced with a profound flair for stunning and sophisticated compositions filled with infectious melodies, unadulterated energy, and surprisingly great vocals. It’s a far cry from their debut, but this record’s a hit nonetheless. (DN)







One of the most twee bands ever to come out of Richmond returns with a killer full length dripping with heavy doses of reverb and melodic sunshine. Bandit is perfect for fans of Real Estate, day trips to the mountains, and all things languid pop. (AC)









If there is any band that sounds better as it ages, it’s Mogwai. Rave Tapes introduces a softer, more emotionally powerful side to the post-rock genre. If you want anything in your life (including tax returns) to feel like a dramatic scene in a movie, just put on Rave Tapes in the background. Works every time. (JS)

Natural Child’s brand of retro fuzz choogle started out pretty entertaining, but five albums in, a profound devolution has occurred. I blame encroaching influence from the Grateful Dead and the Allman Bros for their move towards hippie bullshit, but if you’re thinking “Hey, I like those bands!” then maybe this is a record for you. Want my copy? (AN)

The experimental rock powerhouse known as Navi returns with an EP of their signature guitar wizardry and relentless monumental drums. This is four songs featuring two of the best musicians in the city fucking shit up. Hard. (AC)




The reunion album by midwestern emo pioneers Cap’n Jazz under the name Owls in 2001 was expected to be a one-off, but 13 years later, the quartet surprises everyone by regrouping yet again. Continuing to explore the relatively abstract terrain of their self-titled debut, Owls once again showcase their facility with off-kilter math-rock hooks. Two is a tricky, catchy delight. (AN)

Two decades into his career, Pharrell Williams continues his recent star-studded renaissance period. His new solo album finds the VA legend unleashing his inner Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones across a record of inspired retroist R&B. Let’s get “Happy”! (AC)

If you aren’t keeping up with every new release from incredible French metal/ hardcore label Throatruiner, you’re blowing it. Fix that right now with this epic of brutality from blackened grind-metal crew Plebeian Granstand. These 8 tracks will melt your speakers with their unceasing onslaught of demonic roars, blasting drums, and evil, reverb-drenched riffs. Fucking essential. (AN)



Four great new songs from this buzzworthy quartet. I might hear a bit of sonic maturity creeping into their Pavement/Built To Spill 90s-retro indie rock sound--or maybe it’s just that they wrote this EP in drop D tuning. Either way, this is their most consistent outing yet, and Sadie Dupuis’ lyrics continue to display a brilliant wit. (AN)

Each of St. Vincent’s albums has been unique, but this one is in a class by itself. While the soul of her work remains intact, these songs all present vastly different styles and structures than anything she has attempted thus far. It’s not a reinvention though – it’s a declaration to the diversity and power of her songwriting ability. (DN)









The latest from Ben Harsel of Young Adult Fiction’s solo project, Ted Allen, has wound its way into our hearts via our ears. Nineties rock guitars spin the album from the start with “Brainkill,” a grunge-rock thriller with distant reverb vocals. The dream rock of “Leisure” is one of those tracks you want to put on repeat for the rest of the day. (SML)



Get your electronic goth rock on with Nocere’s darkwave synthpop tunes. Vocalist Emily Symington falls in love with legato as she holds her notes and moans with heavy reverb. Recommended if you like League of Space Pirates or Dead Fame. Check out “Descent,” which creeps you out with industrial texture, computerized instrumentation, and a haunting rumination from Ms. Symington. (SML)



Veteran Clevo metallic hardcore maniacs Ringworm are still going strong after 23 years. While they have remained more straightforward than longtime associates Integrity, their talent is equally obvious. Vocalist The Human Furnace continues to live up to his name, while the shredtastic riffs the band lays down more than measure up to his impressive delivery. Get ready to mosh. (AN)



Weird rockers Tungs have churned out a freaky bunch of songs. Psychedelic tricks and licks make this album extra fun and inappropriate for older generations. While clear punk/garage sounds spring forth, there are still some dangerously heady antics that’ll knock you out if you’re not paying attention. Keep an eye on this puppy for best of 2014. (SML)



The first time I saw GWAR was at this little club in Richmond called Twisters. I was super young. When GWAR was playing, I was so stoked I jumped on stage and, while he wasn’t looking, grabbed Oderus’s sword and stage dove with it. The crowd caught me and pushed me back toward the stage. Either Oderus or Beefcake kicked me so hard in the head that I lost all consciousness and woke up in the back of the room a bit later. I’m pretty sure Dave got his sword back that night. Haha. I never would have thought that nearly 20 years later I’d have traveled this continent with him for months and months on end multiple times, and have done the things we have done together just as friends. I have had some of the greatest times of my life with Dave and his insanity. His support for my music and love for Richmond is a huge part of the reason why I am the person I am today. I’ll never forget him and everything he has taught me and my bandmates. Also, I will always root for the Redskins from here on out. He would have been stoked about that; I gave him a lot of shit. Thanks for everything brother. I’m going to miss you so much.


Tony Foresta Municpal Waste Iron Reagan








RVA #16 SPRING 2014  

Its spring time and we are out with a fresh new issue of the magazine. RVA 16 is packed full of great interviews from the Artic Monkeys, T...

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