Mike Kinsella Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) Banner Pilot // Eric Grubbs // SIXES
05 Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) 10 Banner Pilot
12 Eric Grubbs 16 Sixes - DIY
22 Mike Kinsella 25 Reviews
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(Interview with Keith Latinen) Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) started out as a solo project, when and why did you decide that you wanted to make it into a full band? I started Empire! Empire! during the same time Cathy and I were recording an EP for our main project we were in called Anna Flyaway. We sort of knew the band was going to fall apart, so instead of concentrating most of my efforts on that, I poured it into Empire! instead. It was pretty much in the back of my mind that when Anna Flyaway broke up, we would have a jumping off point for Empire!, and we could hit the ground running. You’ve been in other bands in the past, what makes Empire! Empire! different than those past bands? Will Empire! Empire! always continue as long as you and your wife are the core of the band? I think the biggest difference is that Empire! started out as just me, and then Cathy, so I have lost the romantic attachment that this band will always be ‘X’ individuals. I am realistic, and I know being in a band is a hard thing to keep up, and I think this way, we can do Empire! no matter who else is in the band. I would love to have the members stay, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. I’m fascinated by the band name and the explanation you gave about it in another interview I read, can you explain the band name briefly? Hopefully this isn’t too much of a rehash. The “Empire! Empire!” part represents your one true desire in life; your ultimate dream. For me, that is playing music. The exclamation marks are there to accentuate how important this dream is- it is the reason we live. “(I Was a Lonely Estate)” is where I felt I was when I started this band; abandoned, alone, etc. I had been in a million bands, and each met their demise before anything could really take shape. Here, the parenthesis are meant to represent the condition you are in when you are feeling like your dream is impossible, almost as if you are an afterthought, small and insignificant. The summation of the name is having the courage to chase that dream, no matter how unlikely you are to succeed.
(Photo By Conor Cary ) Are your lyrics and song titles hidden behind the same kind of symbolism that you used with the band name? Very much so, yes. It is pretty rare for me to just go out and write about anything bluntly. I am the type of person who likes to hold all of my cardsusually to the point where they no longer are relevant. So I let things build up, and by the time I have written [lyrics] about it, the process helps me to let go, and make peace of whatever it is I am writing about. What It Takes to Move Forward was recorded over the course of two years, at All Glory to the Hypnotoad Studios, which was actually your parents house. What kind of recording gear did you use to record the full length? It was all recorded on my laptop through eight various mics, a Presonus Firepod and Adobe Audition. I mostly used a lot of SM 57’s and a couple of Rode NT1’s. Recording and running multiple .wavs was really hard on my computer, and I had to break songs up by sections (like a verse or a chorus), and do that in a take, then move on to the next. Otherwise, my laptop would have latency issues, and skip and mess the take up. Several times, it even messed up and skipped during these short runs. It was a very messy and imperfect process, and something I would not look to do again. Why did it take so long to complete What It Takes to Move Forward? There were several, several reasons. The first being computer and hardware issues, having to fight to get a take right at the same time as having my computer not mess up. Second, as funny as this seems, I had to wait for times where my parents left so I could track while they were away. I used to set up drums, mic everything, treat the room as much as I could, etc, and hopefully finish one song before I had to break everything down so that it wouldn’t be there when my parents got back. We also wanted to focus more on touring and getting our name out there. Finally, having to do everything yourself in poor conditions is very stressful, and I admit to putting it off multiple times. When you are in a studio, you know you have ‘X’ hours or days to do some-
thing, and because I was doing it all myself, there was no impending date that it had to be done by. That can work for and against you, and if nothing else, it allowed me too much time to do it. Do you write most of the material for Empire! Empire! or do the other members contribute to the song writing as well? On pretty much everything released up to this point, it has either been me, or me and Cathy. But this was mostly born out of necessity. I am much more comfortable with everyone bringing something to the table, and writing a song as a band. Four different influences and ideas are better than one- it tends to be more organic that way. We have just been unfortunate in not having the members to do it at the right times, and fortunate enough to be able to do it ourselves if we are in between members. Do the lyrics in your songs stem from personal experiences you’ve encountered? All the time, yes. A lot of the history of my life, and by extension Empire! itself, is documented throughout my lyrics. The first song off What It Takes to Move Forward, called “How to Make Love Stay” is about the period in my life when I had graduated college, and I had moved back home and didn’t know what to do next. I could never remember a time before where I didn’t have at least an idea of what to do next, or where to go, and I had honestly never thought about what would happen after college. At least in my life, there aren’t many moments where I have found myself completely at a loss of direction, and it was a hard reality to face. Was the process when writing What It Takes to Move Forward any different than when writing your previous releases? All of our releases have been pretty similar processes, but that will hopefully change as members become concrete. Usually it started off with me writing and recording my guitar parts; then Cathy would write and record hers. Then I built the song, filling it in with bass, then drums, then vocals. Each part was recorded before another part was written. So, for example, all the guitars were tracked before a bass part was written. I never write lyrics or vocals before the whole song is done, and those always take me the longest. The music for the album was done long before the vocals. I am really picky about lyrics, and they have to be just right. When I get down to it, the writing
of the lyrics goes pretty quickly, but it is always hard to force myself to sit down and actually do it. The majority of drums, bass and guitar on What It Takes to Move Forward were recorded by you and your wife, was it difficult having to play and record each instrument yourselves? Yes, it was very difficult to record and play them. I think everyone who has played an instrument at the same time as recording it knows the pains of thisespecially drums. Mostly, I would chalk up the difficulties I faced to inadequate conditions, hardware, space, etc. I am not against recording another album by ourselves, but we would need to make some major upgrades before I would consider it. At this point, I would rather go to a studio and let someone else handle it. With all the line up changes Empire! Empire! has gone through, do you have to teach the new members each song or do they pick up on it easily? Do the arrangements ever change to compensate the new members style of playing? Ugh, there is nothing I hate more than relearning an old song, having to teach it to a new member time and time again. It really depends on the member on how fast they pick it up. The arrangements do always change a little for each member to compensate for style. It’s funny, because you could write a song the exact way another person would write it, but unless they wrote it, they will always find a different way to play it. Yet when it comes to a song they wrote the part for, it is almost verbatim live as it is on the recording. I understand you have to make it your own, and I’m ok with that. As long as it doesn’t stray too far past what it originally was written to be. Look Mexico’s Matt Agrella lends his vocals to the closing track on What It Takes to Move Forward, how did he get involved with this album? We started talking a few years back, around the time when they released their Crucial EP. We talked about playing shows together, or doing a split 7”, etc, but we really became friends when they came up to Michigan on tour. We went out and saw the show, and they spent the night in our hometown. It was pretty funny because we went out on my friend’s pontoon boat to go swimming that night, and they were all really paranoid to get in because they were worried about alligators, which, of
course, are not a problem in Michigan. When we started recording our new album, I asked Matt if he would be kind enough to record some guest vocals, and when he said yes, I wrote a song where I thought they would fit best. They came out very well, he is a gifted singer. You started your label, Count Your Lucky Stars, to release your own music and in the couple of years it’s been in operation, you’ve signed 15 bands and released a dozen albums. How do you go about signing a band and what are some things you take into consideration when signing a band? Haha, you know, until I read this question, I hadn’t thought how much we have done in the last two years. To be honest, I haven’t really looked back since we started; I just keep looking at what we can do next. As far as signing bands, we usually end up playing with the band first, but we have also signed bands just by hearing them online. The things we are looking for in bands are that they are fun and easy to work with, and that they are playing music for the sake of playing music and loving what they do. We are at the point now where we can’t work with everyone we want to now because there is only so much time and resources to go around, which is sometimes frustrating.
You could say that CYLS has been pretty successful up to this point, what do you contribute that success to? Thanks! I think it is because we love what we do, and we are always working to get our bands the attention they deserve. Since we are compassionate about it, and our bands are compassionate, people connect with it. It also really helps actually being in a band too. I am not sure how many signings we would have made if it weren’t for me being in Empire! We usually meet bands through our shows, and the fact that I am in a band means I know what a band needs. We speak the same language, and it makes for an easy working relationship as well. What are the advantages/disadvantages to releasing music on your own label? It is really nice to be able to release anything you want, whenever you want. I don’t have to ask anybody if I want to put out a new release, and that is a major bonus. I like that the success or failure of it is more in my control, as opposed to someone else. The major downside, for my band, is that now we are competing for a finite amount of time and resources that our label has. We have to worry about being able to pay for the next CYLS release, and give each release the attention it deserves. It
also means I can’t spend as much time on my band as someone else that just plays in a band. How do you balance running a label and playing in Empire! Empire!? More than anything else, it means I am constantly busy. I really don’t have any down time. Right now, I am also finishing grad school and working as well, so my plate is really full. Fortunately, both Cathy and my friend Conor help run the label, and Jon (our drummer) is really picking up the rest of the slack for the band. I get by with a little help from my friends! It seems that emo has been making a comeback and some of the bands on your label are on the forefront of the new emo movement. Why do you think this genre is making a comeback? Everything is cyclic, and I think most of the people involved with the new movement didn’t have a chance to be involved when it first came around. I have been playing this music ever since I was 15, and I never gave up hope, haha. I was really young and on more of the tail-end of the movement when it first came around, and most of the kids in these bands are younger than me. I have to admit I’m surprised it is making this big of a comeback, but I also think that it is one of the most honest and sincere forms of music out there, and that speaks to people. Parts of Michigan have been hit hard by the poor economy. How has it affected you in Fenton and is there anything you’re doing to keep expenses at a minimum? Do you think those parts of MI that have been affected most by the economy will ever recover? Yeah, whenever we go on tour, I sort of dog on Michigan, even though I love it. Times are especially tough here, but everyone is having a hard time. As far as keeping expenses at a minimum, it isn’t really an issue about where we live, per se. I think that more of our battle as a label is trying to get people to support our bands and our label by buying the actual release as opposed to just illegally downloading an album. It is a hard time for independent record labels no matter where you are based out of, and it is hard for people to place a value on music when it is something they can get for free. We aren’t against illegally downloading, but we do wish more people would buy an album if they love it and the band.
As for Michigan itself, it would take a miracle for the economy to recover. Almost everyone’s goal I knew in college was to move out of state as soon as they could. It’s a very pretty state, but good luck finding a job. Both your band and your label are moving with great momentum right now, what do you have planned for both in the upcoming months? We have a lot of things going on. Empire! is going on tour in January, which will be our first visit to Texas. We are meeting up with our friends and label-mates, Football, Etc. As for CYLS, we just released Benton Falls Fighting Starlight on vinyl, an album I have loved since I was 18. We have quite a few releases lined up, the first being a split 7” between Empire! Empire! and Football, Etc in December, as well as a new Boris Smile EP and Joie De Vivre full length at the beginning of next year. We are also putting out Moving Mountains Pneuma and Colossal’s Brave the Elements EP on vinyl. Which takes us up to about February, haha.
“I have to admit I’m surprised it is making this big of a comeback, but I also think that it is one of the most honest and sincere forms of music out there, and that speaks to people.” 09
Banner Pilot’s signing to Fat wreck was pretty simple, you sent in demos, they liked them, and that’s it. What was it about Fat Wreck that interested you in working with them? Did you send any demos to any other labels? I’ve been a fan of the label for years and years and liked probably 95% of the stuff they’ve put out. I mean, some of my favorite bands ever have been on that label. But probably more than that, we had just heard nothing but good things about them, that they treat bands fairly and do a good job getting their records around. There’s a lot of labels that have the “DIY” thing going for them but do a terrible job of actually functioning as a label, so it’s nice to work with someone who is really good at what they do. Had Fat Wreck passed on your album, were there any other labels that you were interested in working with? Sure, there were a couple other ones we would have tried. We were also thinking about putting it out ourselves for awhile. Even with Fat Wreck already having heard the demos for Collapser, did it put any pressure on you in the studio that your were recording an album for Fat Wreck? Not really, honestly. If they *hadn’t* heard the songs there would be that aspect --- what if they think these songs suck ass? ---- , but as it was we felt pretty confident about what we were doing. Does being signed to Fat Wreck give your band more credibility? Credibility? I don’t know, I don’t think so. I guess I don’t really ever use that word when I’m thinking about music or bands. I guess maybe a random person in a record store might be more inclined to check out the CD given Fat Wreck’s track record than if we were on a label called, you know, Puking Up The Shit or whatever. Maybe? I guess I wouldn’t use the word ‘credibility’ but yeah I think more people will give our band a spin now given the other bands that have been on the label.
When I first heard Resignation Day, it was in a digital format, and it sounded like there was no low end. Figuring it was just the digital compression, I tried the CD and it was the same sound. What happened with the production on Resignation Day and what did you do differently on Collapser to get a better sound? Yeah, that was a weird record. We signed off on the production every step of the way and felt pretty good about it, but months later we realized it was way too mid-heavy or something. At that point it was too late to do anything. It was pretty much our own fault. With Collapser we worked with Jacques, and I had recorded a punk record (From the Bottom) with him before so I knew what he was capable of pulling off, and we made a point of being clear on what kind of sound we wanted from the get go. It worked out great I think! You’ve been known to start songs using computer programs and then flesh them out from there. Did you use this same process on Collapser? Yep, but a little less so this time around. Basically I’ll write the guts to a song on the computer at home. Sometimes I’ll try to write a vocal melody on guitar, sometimes I’ll just leave it blank. Then Nick and me try to come up with vocals over it, using dummy lyrics. And then we bring that to the full band and flesh the song out, change parts around, get everything tied together. With Collapser though we had a couple songs that we wrote as a band from scratch, and a couple songs where instead of having a full song written at home I was more like “Here’s two riffs I have; let’s try to come up with something based on them” How did you feel about Collapser being leaked online only a few days after the promos went out? It didn’t really surprise me. We were worried it would leak, like, two months before the release date or something. As it was, it was about two weeks before the release, which isn’t too bad. Nowadays there’s not much you can do about it I guess.
Interview with Nate Gangelhoff • Photo By Kelly Banner Pilot was one of the first bands that I noticed using Twitter to document their recording process. Did you notice any benefits, like connecting with fans, or any negatives from doing that? No, not really. It’s just a goofy, kind of fun thing to do. Resignation Day and Collapser were released just about a year apart. Will this same timing keep up with future recordings? That’d be cool if it does! It’s kind of misleading though, cuz Resignation Day’s release was super delayed for various reasons. The release dates were
From being involved in the music scene in Minneapolis area for a while, what are/were some your favorite bands from the Twin Cities? Right now I like Amen and the Hell Yeahs, The Dirty Hits, The Manix, Evening Rig, stuff like that. You’ve done some pretty well known zines, are you still doing any of them? Are you working on a follow-up to the You Idiot book? Nope, no more zines for me. But yeah, I’m working on another book. Hopefully I’ll have it wrapped up later this year and then it’ll come out in 2010 at some point. With all of you having jobs, is it difficult to plan tours around every ones schedules? It’s not difficult given that we only tour 3-4 weeks a year. But yeah, doing a six month tour or something like that would be fairly hard to pull off. Do you have any plans to tour overseas? Yep! We’ll be in the UK and Western Europe next spring. After that, Japan!
a year apart, but the recording dates were a year and a half apart. That said, I’ve been working away at demo ideas for the next album and we just started working on some of them as a full band. Pretty excited to get cracking! You’ve already started demoing for the next album, is it going to be in the same vein as Resignation Day and Collapser or are you going to change it up a bit? I’d like to change it up, but not in a dramatic or ridiculous way. I’d like for it to sound slightly different than Resignation Day and Collapser but still obviously be a Banner Pilot record.
Do you think it is necessary to tour a lot be a successful band? It definitely helps, but I don’t think it’s necessary, especially nowadays when it’s so easy to get your music around. I think practicing a lot and trying to get really good at whatever you’re trying to do is more important than touring a ton. If you suck ass, you can tour every day of the year and you’ll still suck ass. But if you spend a ton of time working on your songs, you might get good. Or, you might still suck. But there’s a chance!
ERICGRUBBS AUTHOR OF POST: A LOOK AT THE INFLUENCE OF POST-HARDCORE 1985-2007 What was your main motivation for wanting to write POST? My motivation came from a desire to document something that I was afraid was about to be lost. At the time I started writing the book (which was 2004) a lot of articles were out there that tried to tell the history of emo, but in very broad terms. The deal was, pretty much every article (along with Andy Greenwald’s Nothing Feels Good) skipped out on a lot of important things, and I just tried to give my take on where post-hardcore/emo came from. How long did it take from start to finish to complete POST? I started writing and researching on March 1st, 2004, and I finished editing the final draft in the summer of 2008. Did the structure change at all during the process? Mainly in the early stages. I kicked around the idea of covering two modern bands at the time, one that was immensely popular and the other that was critically-acclaimed, to give an idea as to where things had developed. But I decided to condense that into other chapters. The original idea didn’t fit with the overall pace of the book. There were many bands from this era that could be considered influential, how did you narrow it down to the 10 subjects covered in the book and why were those ones chosen? My main forms of criteria involved popularity, influence, and whether or not an engaging story could be told in a chapter. As much as I love bands like Sense Field and Texas is the Reason, I didn’t think I could do justice like how I could for Braid or the Get Up Kids in a chapter. That was a little hard to get used to, but I didn’t want to write a book where a lot of the chapters seemed like telling the same story over and over again. I was mainly looking for
archetypes with the bands: the highly influential ones, the ones that almost made the big time, and the one that did. How many people did you interview for this book? Which ones provided the most information or were most open? Honestly, I lost count after talking with/interviewing forty people. I don’t mean to brag, but there were just so many. I can say this, I have a box full of cassette tapes devoted to interviews I did for the book. Plus I have a few dozen e-mail exchanges where questions were asked and answered. Pretty much everybody who agreed to do an interview was very open. I must say the Jawbox, the Get Up Kids, Braid, and Hot Water Music guys were very open. The more material I had, the more I had to work with, thus helping me make a better chapter. One thing that I enjoyed about POST was the amount of information given and was surprised to learn about the drug use during At the Drive-in's recording of Acrobat Tenement. Was there anything that you discovered while researching or interviewing that surprised you? Plenty! I was really impressed with many different aspects of Sunny Day Real Estate’s story. Especially the beginning of the band, with how Jeremy Enigk joined the band, and where they got their name. Also, the whole thing about Jawbox touring with Helmet, and Helmet’s music having an impact on Jawbox’s music. I’ve listened to Jawbox for many years, and I never really noticed a difference between Grippe and Novelty until I heard Bill Barbot, J. Robbins, and Adam Wade talk about it.
What were other books that you looked to as examples while writing POST? The obvious one is Michael Azerrad’s Our Band Could Be Your Life. Not only is that book one of my favorites, but it does such a great job of getting to the core of why bands like Replacements, Sonic Youth, and Fugazi matter so much to people. The tone doesn’t talk down to the reader, and that’s a major plus. Other books that influenced me were Greg Kot’s Learning How to Die, Steven Blush’s American Hardcore, and Andy Greenwald’s Nothing Feels Good. I mention these books because, while I really like Kot’s style and approach with Learning How to Die, I took a lot of notes about what I didn’t like with American Hardcore and Nothing Feels Good. I am a big fan of books on bands, and frankly, I just wanted to write a book that I would like to read. One thing I noticed about this book was the lack of visual documentation. Why did you decide not to use any photos in POST? Photos and flyers were not included for monetary reasons. Using them would cost much more than I was willing to spend, since this was a self-published project. I am not against using them in a
future edition, but any plans for an updated version are not in the cards right now. What was the biggest thing you learned while writing and publishing POST? How to write in my own voice. I wrote many papers in high school and college, but this was my chance to really find a voice. Was there anything you hoped to gain by writing POST? Respect beyond the converted about these bands and labels. As great as it is to talk Hot Water Music with somebody who has a Hot Water Music tattoo, I think there’s something cool about talking to a coworker or one of my parents about who the bands and labels are. Why did you choose to self-publish the book? Did you look for a publisher beforehand? I chose to self-publish because of advice via my agent. My agent totally understood the material, yet finding a suitable publishing home was difficult. The few editors that were interested wanted me to completely strip the soul of the book and rewrite it into something I didn’t want to read. Since I had pitched the book to all these people as it being the way the book ended up, I couldn’t go back on my word. At the end of the day, doing it this way made sense with the topic: DIY isn’t just printing your own records, you know?
I've read that a lot of people had many problems self-publishing their books with IUniverse, what was your experience like with them while working on POST? My experience has been very positive. The people I worked with have been very helpful. And, their royalty checks clear and come in quarterly.
What’s interesting is that the idea came from talking to the guys in Hot Water Music and the Get Up Kids about their experiences in playing high school bands. I started to notice a lot of carryover and archetypes, so I decided to investigate that some more. I have no idea when the book will be out, but that is my next main book project.
Looking back, was there anything you would've done differently with the writing or publishing of POST? Not really. This was the first time in my life where I was 100 percent dedicated to starting and finishing something. I’m reminded almost every day that doing the book was one of the best things I could have done for myself and for so many bands and labels I love.
Bands of varying styles have been labeled "emo", what is your definition of the term and what bands do you think are the true "emo" bands? I’d have to say that a lot of emo is just an extension of what has always been in music. There have always been sad, heartbroken, kinds of songs, whether it’s Roy Orbison, Hank Williams, or the Four Tops. That said, punk bands didn’t always sing about this stuff. So for me, I tend to view early Get Up Kids as full-on emo. Angst-filled vocals and lyrics about growing up and having a broken heart seem to be the definition of emo to me.
A few of the bands have reunited recently, would you consider writing an updated version? Yes, I’ve considered doing an updated version, but I’m not so sure about what all that involves and how much it’s going to cost. While it would be nice to update the Hot Water Music, Sunny Day Real Estate, and Get Up Kids chapters, I think it’s a good to thing to have a stopping-off point. Like a snapshot, this book was looking at where things were as of early 2008, and I couldn’t wait forever on bands to reunite. Do you have any plans to write a book on other areas of music? Yes. I have been working on a book since 2007 about the experience of playing in a teenage rock band in the suburbs. I know a lot about that experience, and I’m trying to document that in a novel.
As a former writer for Punk Planet, what was your reaction to Punk Planet's ending its publishing? Are you surprised that no other magazines have stepped in to fill the void left by Punk Planet's departure? I was sad about Punk Planet closing shop, but I wasn’t surprised. Dan had done everything he could to keep the magazine going, but he had to close up. There were plenty of hints of it happening, especially the drive for more subscriptions about a year before everything shut down. And I’m not surprised that other magazines have filled the void. Basically, the Internet has fragmented so much of what used to be in one or two spots. I think there are pros and cons with that, but these days, a lot of magazines have to make demands to stay alive in a format that’s on the decline.
Lipona // Slingshot Dakota // Only Thieves Lanterns // The Cold Beat // Shark Speed Yamil Velez, Lipona Why have you decided to release your music without a label? The process of releasing music should not depend on anyone but ourselves. Sure, labels facilitate the process, but that by no means should restrict us. What are some advantages and disadvantages to releasing albums without a label? The absence of a label allows us to release music on our own terms. We can self-produce, put out free records, and work with whoever we want to. However, sometimes we may not be able to do the things we want to because everything is selffinanced. Do you think it is necessary to be on a label to be successful? Labels are helpful in the sense that they can provide a band with an instant fan base in a matter of seconds. Over the past years, I have seen relatively unknown bands rise to prominence simply from a press release (Bridge 9, I'm looking at you). I don't think labels are a necessity but signed bands definitely have an advantage over unsigned bands in terms of networking and exposure. Do you think labels are a thing of the past and bands releasing their own music is the way of the future? Recent releases from Radiohead and NIN have demonstrated that labels are no longer a necessity and I can see many more bands in the future
adopting this DIY mind set, especially with the rising popularity of digital downloads over other mediums. However, since it's all about who you know, I don't think labels will ever be obsolete because the networking opportunities that come along with being signed are unrivaled. If a label offered to sign you, would you accept? Only if the label was respected, gave us our due credit, and didn't interfere with the creative process. Is file sharing a good or bad thing for bands releasing their own music? I've leaked every single one of our albums so I know the benefits and drawbacks of file sharing firsthand. In a sense, file sharing is beneficial because it gets your music out to a much larger audience but it's disheartening to see how many times your album gets downloaded compared to how many times it is bought. I don't worry too much about it though because if we've made a fan, that's all that matters.
Do you think it is necessary to be on a label to be successful? Absolutely not!!!! The key to success is, of course, playing well and writing sweet tunes, but also the most important is TOURING. Getting out there and playing live is extremely important! It's also the main way to sell records.... they're not going to sell based on how awesome your Myspace page looks.
Tom Patterson, Slingshot Dakota Why have you decided to release your music without a label? Almost every person/band told us we would be better off releasing our CD on our own- even bands on labels (big and small)... We finally made the decision after talking about it to Matt and Phil of Latterman. Carly has been friends with them for years, and we trust their opinion, especially on this matter. We feel as though, up to this point, that we have done everything a label could have done. It may have taken more of our personal time, but it was totally worth it! What are some advantages and disadvantages to releasing albums without a label? The advantages are that you are in control of EVERYTHING - art, touring, rights, etc., especially the money. Also, you don't have to sign one of those creepy contracts that rope you into having to release 3+ records and making you give up your rights to your music (and most recently, your merch). The disadvantages are few... not having instant "cred" (which is bullshit) when you're signed to a label, and not having to front the money yourself for the recording and pressing of the CD.
Do you think labels are a thing of the past and bands releasing their own music is the way of the future? There will always be a place in music for labels. There are tons of talented bands out there that have no way to pay for recording or pressing their records. I think that the labels that will survive are ones that actually care about the musicians and help to take care of them. If a label offered to sign you, would you accept? Yes, but only if they could offer us something that we couldn't do ourselves. Plus, they have to be totally rad people... We don't want to be associated with people who are in it just for money. They have to care about music and the musicians on their label- some level of friendship would be cool. Is file sharing a good or bad thing for bands releasing their own music? The ultimate question! File sharing is a doubleedged sword for sure. On one side, we payed for all of the recording, pressing, packaging, and promotion of our CD all on our own. Since we go on tour often, we don't work that much, so the way to pay off our debt it to sell CDs. On the other side, we just got home from an amazing tour- and I know for a fact that if it weren't for file sharing, there would have been significantly less people at our shows. I feel as though the most important thing is that people hear our music... That's why we write it. Also, I know a lot of people can't afford to buy records, so if they want to download our CD for free, and it makes them happy, then that's cool with us! That matters.
Jeremy Barnes, Only Thieves Why have you decided to release your music without a label? As many bands will probably say, we had absolutely no choice. Unfortunately, being the furthest possible state in the continental U.S away from Seattle, Sub-Pop had no idea we were even alive! What are some advantages and disadvantages to releasing albums without a label? Advantages: We could "borrow" a layout from an already wildly popular musical group, make it our own, and not be told we couldn't (maybe shouldn't) do it.
maybe we'll see a change, but it has to come from the highest level. If a label offered to sign you, would you accept? Depends. No one wants their music to be a mantle piece, but as previously stated, labels can help heaps. If the track record was right, the contract was amiable, or the label's name was Merge, Matador, or Sub-Pop, then yes. Is file sharing a good or bad thing for bands releasing their own music? Better than bad, but not great. This day in age though, it seems as if giving away the music, getting it on someones personal music device, and
Disadvantages: The wildly popular musical group we borrowed the layout from may never hear it. We're the ones working on the goddamned dream here! Do you think it is necessary to be on a label to be successful? It's really easy to be Radiohead, or Nine Inch Nails and have the comfort level to say "Okay, fuck it" and just do it sans label. Where they are they have the comfortability to just bow out and live easy and die free without releasing ANYTHING. Trent Reznor's checks say "Prince of Darkness!" That dude can do what he wants! Radiohead could release an album called Seventeen Tracks of Farting on a Snare Drum and people would LOVE IT! Basically, there are varying degrees of success. Is it absolutely necessary? No. But how successful does one want to be? Do you think labels are a thing of the past and bands releasing their own music is the way of the future? Labels are one of the few banks that are willing to give out loans to struggling musicians with no credit, low-income jobs, and few "real world" skills to speak of. When it becomes easier for artists to pay for merchandise/advertising/touring then
then getting them out to the show is the way to go. Then, you get them drunk and pressure them into buying your tour only exclusive 7" with the screen printed layout! Better get all three pressings!
Lowell Heflin, Lanterns Why have you decided to release your music without a label? For Apocalypse Youth, it was all about speed... We hadn't put out new music in a while and we really wanted to get it out there. What are some advantages and disadvantages to releasing albums without a label? The biggest advantage is that you can do whatever you want (packaging, etc), you know exactly where all the money is going, and you can guarantee someone is giving it the attention it deserves because it is yours and you want to see it succeed. You are completely in charge. That is also probably the biggest disadvantage..... It can be hard without a label to get decent distribution to get your release out there. Also, if you already don't have money, it can be hard to pay for everything that is involved in making a record. Do you think it is necessary to be on a label to be successful? It depends on how you define success. My answer is no, but a lot of sans-label success stories have to do with a lot of work done in the background...
Do you think labels are a thing of the past and bands releasing their own music is the way of the future? There will always be a place for super huge artists like Justin Timberlake to release their music... The market share of mega labels is going to continue to decrease rapidly... A lot of smaller labels are running things more efficiently and taking care of their bands out of necessity.... I think they are beginning to get a grip on this whole technology thing. It is now more easy than ever before to release your own music. You can pretty easily get your songs on Itunes and everything... People have more options. This also means that people listening to music have to sift through a lot more to find you. If a label offered to sign you, would you accept? If it is the right one... Every band is a different situation and has different needs... Is file sharing a good or bad thing for bands releasing their own music? Great for bands! Especially self-released artists... It makes word of mouth a tangible thing. The best way to hear something is through a friend.
I believe you can achieve modest success though...
Joe Christensen, Shark Speed
Mike Vera, The Cold Beat Why have you decided to release your music without a label? These days itâ€™s so much easier for bands to be self sufficient. Better to spend your own money on recording and pressing and PR than to go into debt with someone else who isnâ€™t going to do much more for you than you could accomplish yourself.
Why have you decided to release your music without a label? Some musicians fall into the trap of constantly making demos or little EPs and have a mentality that to make it is to get on a label. When I was younger I thought this is how it worked as well. We felt for the progress of our band it was essential to record a full length and just get it out there. We didn't want to have to wait on some third party to help us, we figured why not just do it yourself. What better time to release on your own then now. With the help of internet stores your music can be distributed globally for under a 100 bucks.
What are some advantages and disadvantages to releasing albums without a label? The only disadvantage is that you have to come up with money yourself instead of the label fronting for recording and pressing, etc. Do you think it is necessary to be on a label to be successful? Definitely not. Do you think labels are a thing of the past and bands releasing their own music is the way of the future? This is happening right before our eyes. Everywhere you look its another band from out of nowhere who got their big break from a blog or something. If a label offered to sign you, would you accept? That totally depends on what they could do for us. Obviously if a label has good distro and money to help us out then we'd think about it. Is file sharing a good or bad thing for bands releasing their own music? I think itâ€™s a great thing for bands who are just starting up and trying to get their music out there to as many people as possible.
What are some advantages and disadvantages to releasing albums without a label? Advantages of not being on a label is that you do it yourself and I think for our band that has made us into the band we are. We took out loans to record, buy shirts and a van in hopes it would pay off, and so far so good. I think being able to make and handle all the decisions for your band helps you surround your life in the music. I believe we value this band so much more then others because we have sacrificed a lot for it already.
I think the obvious disadvantages of not being on a label are just what was mention above eventually the cash flow runs a little dry and things get real tough when there is no money. Another problem is that people are not accustomed to the idea of self releases. So many people will give a preliminary judgment on the music before they listen to it because there is no label representation. Because I fell the internet has brought forth so much music, labels often act as a filter of music for the listeners. Do you think it is necessary to be on a label to be successful? Not necessarily I think it all depends on your definition of success, and how far you want to take it. Either way the internet has provided an opportunity to musicians that they have never had before. We can contact, and communicate to millions of listeners, venues, and other artists through bypassing the music industry supply chain and using the internet .The trick is being your own filter, doing new things and finding ways to promote your band. I feel a PR agent or company is essential for success on your own because your circle connection can run thin quick.
have seen how labels can break you into markets you are just not capable of getting into. I think if it was the right label and the right people we would consider it. Is file sharing a good or bad thing for bands releasing their own music? What a catch 22 really though I think file sharing can work as a great tool to help promote and hype a band up in certain cities. But I have seen in my personal life that sometimes without going out and buying the CD yourself, you lose the ownership part of music. You no longer have that experience of spending money on a CD, owning it, and listening to it over and over and letting it grow on you. With file sharing sometimes you can fall into the trap of cycling through hundreds of bands before you ever get the time to really understand what they are doing. It is what it is, but from about a year ago I stopped getting free music and focused on buying albums and I feel like it put that experience of loving one album at a time back into my life.
Do you think labels are a thing of the past and bands releasing their own music is the way of the future? To a degree labels have lost a lot of their power because the supply chain of labels to distributors to record store to listeners has been broken with the internet. But like I mentioned before, they do serve as a filter of the millions of bands that exist today. I know I constantly follow and trust certain labels and the band they continue to sign. Also labels are like financial institutions, they can provide that income it takes to get the recordings you want. I believe there will always be a need for them because of certain cost of recording, promotion, and touring. But I think it will be interesting if magazines and blogs start to feature more unsigned bands they could very well act as a filter as well. If a label offered to sign you, would you accept? We have had the opportunity to sign with some labels, but after weighing to pros and cons we decided we liked things how they were. Most of the time we realized we are already are doing most of the stuff they would do for us. But of course we
Interview with Mike Kinsella
You recently released a video for the song "Good Friends, Bad Habits" and in the scenes where you are with your wife and daughter you can really see the happiness that your daughter brings you. How has becoming a father affected you and your music? How have your priorities changed? I obviously have less time to sit and play the guitar or contemplate everyday social interactions, so the writing process has been slowed down quite a bit. At the same time I'm really inspired to write cool music and stay relevant in some way so when she's a little older she'll think I'm cool and be able to travel with me and experience all the cool shit that goes along with playing music for a living. How does your daughter react to your music? Pretty much the same way she reacts to any stimulus - a smile, some drool, flailing arms, maybe a couple leg kicks. Is there anything that your parents taught you or instilled in you that has carried over to how you are with your daughter? I guess everything, right? They sort of made me who I am, so the way I act with Mila is either the result of or reaction to how I was raised. So chances are Mila will be a good eater (thanks, mom) and a good drinker (thanks, dad). How has your brother Tim fit in the role as uncle? He's awesome. He's sort of interested in her the same way she's interested in things, like it's completely foreign and crazy. I can see synapses forming in both of their minds when they're together. Kids are expensive these days, are you doing anything else besides music to make ends meet? Um... Trying to not spend money unnecessarily. You know, download movies or albums instead of buying them, walking with the stroller instead of driving if possible, re-tiling the bathroom floor myself (with the help of my father-in-law) instead of paying someone else to do it. But as far as making money, just the songs. Was New Leaves recorded at your home studio or in a professional studio? How long of a process was New Leaves to complete? Yeah, it was recorded at about four different studios over the course of about two and a half years. I was in no way "working" on the album that entire time, but the process from start to finish, including all the breaks, took that long.
You once stated that your long term goal was to write an entire record that you like, how close have you come with New Leaves? Which one of your musical projects have been most rewarding to you? I think I get closer to that goal with each album, but unless I re-record Oasis' What's The Story Morning Glory album I probably won't ever truly succeed. I suppose Owen is the most rewarding because it's my own thing and only exists to the extent I want it to. "Good Friends, Bad Habits" was released on the split you did with Bob Nanna, why did you decide to rework it for New Leaves? I always considered the split version to be a demo of sorts, knowing that I'd want to put drums and drones and girl voices on it eventually. Did you come up with the concept for the "Good Friends, Bad Habits" video? Was it difficult to lipsynch your song with all the movement around you? Do you plan on doing any other videos for the songs off of New Leaves? Yeah, I had the rough "photo booth" idea and then Joe Wigdahl built the set and organized the whole thing. Lip-synching was easy. Having multiple friends sitting on my lap all day proved to be more strenuous than I had thought it would be. As for other videos, hopefully! But nothing planned at the moment. You've referenced Hemingway and other literary figures in your lyrics, are you an avid reader? What are some of your favorite books that you would suggest others to read? I'm sort of the opposite of an avid reader. I used to read a lot more when I would tour in vans with full bands, as everyone would have plenty of free time and a few books to share. But now I find myself filling the precious free time I get with more mindless activities. I can recommend a couple awesome new video games if you'd like... You stated before your full band record release show, that you were "more excited about these shows than I've been about any shows in the past five years." What was so exciting about them? What made you want to perform as a full band with Bob Nanna and your cousin Nate and is it something that you'd consider doing again? I guess I was excited to see how the songs would sound with many of the parts being played, because
“I'm borderline obese. Seriously, I'm totally super fat naked but appear to only be mildly overweight with clothes on.” they've never been played together before (as most the songs are written during the recording process). It was fun to play with those guys and I think everyone played really well and all, but I don't think I have the time to organize a full band full time. You've toured, released albums, and have played with Bob Nanna quite a few times. What is it about Bob that keeps you working with him? What is your history with him? We grew up in the same "scene" and our bands used to play together in suburban basements all the time and I've always admired his playing and writing. At what point did you realize that you wanted to pursue music and not join the work force? Waking up for the first day of pre-school and being super tired, I knew that I had to figure something else out. What is something that would surprise someone to find out about you? I'm borderline obese. Seriously, I'm totally super fat naked but appear to only be mildly overweight with clothes on. You've been known to play Metallica and Van Halen songs at shows and you are a fan of Megadeth, would you ever consider writing a rock or metal album? To be honest, I don't think I have the metal chops anymore. I used to be into it more and taught myself guitar by learning Metallica and Maiden songs but haven't kept up with the fast downpicking or solos. I interviewed Tim a while back and he shared a story that occurred during the Make Believe/Owen tour of Japan a couple years ago about some Owen shirts that you had made up for the tour, but they were printed in Chinese characters that translated
to "Party King". What ever became of those shirts? Do you have any stories of Tim that you can share? Haha... Yeah, those Party King shirts didn't sell too well. I think people were really confused more than anything else. Whoops. As for Tim stories, most of them involve Tim trying to avoid or get out of uncomfortable situations, only to find himself making the situations even more awkward. Your old bandmate in Cap'n Jazz and Owls, Victor Villarreal, recently released his first solo album. Have you heard it and if you have, what did you think? How do you feel now that Victor is playing music again? I haven't heard the album but I saw him play one of the songs on YouTube and thought it was really cool. I've always been a fan of his guitar playing - so fluid and effortless. I think it's great he's playing out again. You and your wife briefly had a project going called Shirts and Skins, is this a project you are still pursuing? Um... Yeah? Maybe? We've got a few songs written and would like to properly record them and release an EP or something, but it's getting harder and harder to find time now. Probably should have done it before the baby and new house and stuff. You have a small tour to the east coast in October, will you be doing any other touring in support of New Leaves I'm touring Japan in January, and I'd love to get out west for a few shows and maybe down to Texas as well, so hopefully something will pan out this spring. But I don't think I’ll be packing up the car and driving around the country for weeks at a time and sleeping on people's floors anytime soon (or at least until Mila's old enough to go with me and work the merch table...).
“I've always been a fan of his guitar playing - so fluid and effortless. I think it's great he's playing out again.”
75:24 Various Artists 75:24 is a cassette tape compilation of 26 extended friends and family. There are bands you may have heard on here like Algernon Cadwallader, Snowing, Best Friends, Kite Party, and Joint Chiefs of Math and other bands that may be new to you like Boys & Sex, Ape Up!, and Hightide Hotel. With over an hour of music from a lot of great bands, you can’t go wrong with this cassette. I think this compilation is a great idea that perfectly shows a sense of community and camaraderie. (Ticklebutt Records/Soft City) A Lull Ice Cream Bones In just over 11 minutes Ice Cream Bones utilizes many instruments in a short period of time. The opening track “Skinny Fingers” starts with wispy harmonies and some subtle guitar noodling and about half way through erupts into a orchestra of horns. That pretty much describes each song. A Lull will lead you down one path and without notice will change it up to keep it interesting. (Lujo Records)
After The Fall
After The Fall Fort Orange Fort Orange takes me back to a time when punk was fast paced with speed drumming, screaming and group vocals. It is a solid album that holds it own and would fit perfectly on a shelf with Strike Anywhere or Kid Dynamite. (Raise Your Fist Records)
Air Above City Thunderballoon Air Above City is a New Jersey band that mixes elements of Minus the Bear, Maps and Atlases, Get Him Eat Him, and Glassjaw. Thunderballoon, their first release, is an album overflowing with creativity and originality that you can scream and dance too. (Self-Released) Algren A Wayward Sound Floods the Streets Chicago based Algren is a band with a vision and that vision is perfectly illustrated in the graphic novel that accompanies A Wayward Sound Floods the Streets. The album is pretty good, but crosses over to radio-rock too many times for my taste. (Self-Released) All for Nothing/The Wonder Years Split Distances Both bands on this split 7” have quite an impressive set of pop-punk songs on this split. I only wish there were a full lengths worth of material on this release, instead of just 5 songs. (No Sleep Records) The American Analog Set Hard To Find: Singles and Unreleased 2000-2005 Hard to Find is a great collection of songs and it includes the 4 songs from the Everything Ends in Spring Tour Only 12” (which I refuse to pay $40 for). Matt Pond and Ben Gibbard lend their vocals on a couple tracks (“Sharp Briar” and “All I Want For Christmas”) which gives the songs a different dimension. The best part though is Kenny wrote captions for each song where he explains the origins of the songs and how they came to be. You’ll have to check out on amanset.com to read those. Hard to Find can only be found in digital form from Itunes, Amazon, Rhapsody and so forth, although this album deserves a proper CD or double vinyl release. (Hometown Fantasy)
Aneurysm Rats Dying to Live Featuring ex-members of Paint it Black and None More Black, Aneurysm Rats sounds like a cross between the aforementioned bands and hardcore bands like From Ashes Rise. At just under 15 minutes, these twelve songs on Dying to Live are brutally honest and in your face and acts as a great introduction to this band. (Assassinated Records) Annabel Each and Everyone Kent, Ohio’s Annabel is back following a impressive debut EP. Each and Everyone is a quick blend indie pop, catchy melodies and post-punk. One listen of the opener “Sleeping Lions” will have you hooked. (Count Your Lucky Stars) Baby Teeth Hustle Beach Hustle Beach threw me for a loop upon first listen. I was expecting Baby Teeth’s signature brand of cheesy disco era ballads , but instead I got 11 excellent songs exploring the ideas of growing up, marriage, having kids, and growing old with a working man’s musicianship. This album is quite enjoyable and keeps surprising the listener at every turn. (Lujo Records) Balance and Composure Only Boundaries There are a lot of great young bands coming out of PA right now and Balance and Composure is one of them. Only Boundaries may only be four songs, but enough is said though the lyrics and music to fill an encyclopedia. Can’t wait to hear what they release next. (No Sleep Records)
Banner Pilot Collapser Banner Pilot have really out done themselves with Collapser. Collapser, their debut for Fat Wreck Chords, sounds far better produced thatn their previous releases. If this Minneapolis band stays on this track, they will be fan favorites alongside Dillinger Four and The Lawrence Arms. (Fat Wreck Chords) Beware of Safety Dogs Beware of Safety is an instrumental band that mixes rock with ambient to make an interesting sound similar to what The Appleseed cast has done. Dogs is good in many ways, but at over an hour long, it was hard to listen to the album all the way through. (The Mylene Sheath) Billy Wallace The Road Spit Me Out The Road Spit Me Out is the solo debut from former Wading Girl member Billy Wallace. The album shimmers with the feeling of a wandering soul with a rustic edge. Wallace is joined by an orchestra sized list of backing musicians on The Road Spit Me Out, including some fine banjo, violin and flugelhorn players. Dust off those boots and grab a tall one, the show is just beginning on Wallace’s solo career. (Uneasy Records) The Blackbelt Band A New Community The members this New Orleans band have been playing together for more than ten years and the chemistry shows on A New Community. At times, the singers voice gets a bit annoying, but the music somewhat makes up for it. (Sickroom Records) Boys & Sex EP Featuring former and current members of Boy Problems, Cassilis, Snowing, and Make Me; Boys & Sex play music similar to their contemporaries, but do so with a lot more screaming. Boys & Sex picks up
where Boy Problems left off, but the music this time around is a lot tighter and more focused. (Ticklebutt Records)
CarCrashLander Mountains on Our Backs Listen closely to Mountains on Our Backs, because odds are you’ll find something new and exiting with every listen. Whether it be a keyboard melody or a jangly guitar line, there are layers upon layers of instruments that will find you. (Jealous Butcher) Castevet Summer Fences Summer Fences is a treat to listen to. Influenced by bands like American Football, Dianogah, Braid and other Chicago area bands, Castevet explore the musical boundaries set by emo, mathrock and post hardcore bands and tread outside of those boundaries to create an impressive original album. (Count Your Lucky Stars) Classics of Love Walking in Shadows Finally, Operation Ivy and Common Rider mastermind, Jesse Michaels has answered the call and returned to music with Classics of Love. Walking in Shadows is similar to what Michaels was doing in Common Rider, but with less of a ska influence and more of a garage punk influence. A welcome release nonetheless. (Asian Man Records) The Cold Beat Dumbwaiter Wearing influences by The Replacements on their sleeves, The Cold Beat have put together a solid release with six songs that have a sense of desperation and urgency
that never tire. Say what you will about this album, but The Cold Beat is on to something great with Dumbwaiter. (Self-Released) Daemon Familiar Dawn of the Albatross Daemon Familiar play an intense mix of power pop garage rock with fuzzed out guitars. Daemon Familiar show a lot of potential and would benefit with working with an experienced producer on their next release. (Self-Released) Dear Landlord Dream Homes Featuring members of The Copyrights and Rivethead, Dear Landlord is a perfect blend of Off With Their Head’s bass chugging melodies and Banner Pilots pop-punk sensibilities. Dream Homes shows that punk can still be inventive and sound good and original at the same time. (No Idea Records) Empire! Empire! (I was a Lonely Estate) What It Takes To Move Forward If you liked any of Empire! Empire!’s previous works or are a fan of 90’s style emo similar to American Football or Mineral than you are gonna love What It Takes To Move Forward. Empire! Empire! has a way with creating these really long pretty compositions and still keep it fresh throughout the whole album. Look Mexico’s, Matt Agrella, lends his vocals to the closing track and his voice works well with Empire! Empire!’s arrangements. (Count Your Lucky Stars) Enlou Threshing Floor Hailing from the same city as labelmates, Pomegranates, Cincinnati's Enlou sounds similar to Pomegranates, but with less pop and more a experimental sound with its use of vibraphones, samples and hand claps. Threshing Floor is a great little EP, and it will be interesting to see if they can pull off the same kind of style on a full length. (Lujo Records)
Espirit De Corps
Espirit De Corps Under Constant Influence Denver, Colorado’s Espirit De Corps are one of the few bands that are brave enough to actively utilize a keytar, but it works for them. Under Constant Influence sounds like Milemarker, but with gang vocals and a groovy dance beat at times. This EP is worth checking out. (Self-Released) Everyone Everywhere A Lot of Weird People Standing Around The four songs that make up A Lot of Weird People Standing Around are dynamic catchy gems of pop punk goodness. Mixing noodly and repetitive guitar parts and sound clips with an knack for writing interesting pop songs, Everyone Everywhere have created four perfect summer jams. (Evil Weevil Records) Falcon Arrow Cryptoscience & Hard Times Cryptoscience & Hard Times takes off where Falcon Arrow’s previous EP left off. Tight drumming, inventive guitar lines with a heavy bass influence. This duo knows what they’re doing and continually get better with each release. (Self-Released) Farewell Continental S/T Rumor has it that Farewell Continental contains members from Minneapolis bands Motion City Soundtrack and Small Towns Burn a Little Slower, but no one knows since all press materials list the band member’s names as characters Harrison Ford has played in film. Although it’s not hard to tell that Justin Peirce of
MCS shares the vocal duties with a very talented female singer, the other members are still a mystery. The opener “Do You Wanna Tango?” is a dark song presumably about drug addiction and being in a relationship with someone with an addiction. With its boy/girl vocals, and dark connotations “Do You Wanna Tango” is a great song. Each song is quite different from the slow moving opener to the poppy fast pace of “Don’t Depend On Me”. Hopefully this band isn’t just a side project between Motion City Soundtrack albums, because they have something quite good happing here. (Paper & Plastick) Faux Hoax Your Friends Will Carry You Home 7” Faux Hoax is a recording experiment featuring Menomena's Danny Seim, producer John Askew and Gang of Four's Dave Allen, with vocals contributed by Joe Haege (31 Knots) and writer/songwriter Adam Gnade. Also, Jim Fairchild of Grandaddy and All Smiles provides guitar work on the title track. Mixing computer samples with traditional indie rock, this 7” contains some very interesting creations that you might enjoy. (Polyvinyl Records) FIRS Man in Space FIRS is the project of Pomegranates guitarist/singer Joey Cook and friend/WOXY personality Sophia Cunningham. As the titles suggests, the album is about a man in space, and the instrumentation that Joey creates makes you feel like you are in space with him. Lots of spacy electronic ambiance mixed with Pomegranates pop meanderings make this a very interesting album. Joey’s previous work with FIRS were somewhat fun, simple, and geeky pop songs similar to what Unicorns did. Man in Space shows that Joey can take music seriously and when determined, create a small masterpiece in do so. (Lujo Records)
Four Letter Lie
Four Letter Lie A New Day In the time between their last album and their latest, Four Letter Lie lost 2 members and gained 2 back. They lost one of their main songwriters, which made the remaining members step up and write a much different album then any of their previous works. A New Day is a step in the right direction for Four Letter Lie. A New Day shows the band maturing and moving past their post hardcore roots. This new line up makes this band exciting again and gives music fans something to look forward to with future releases. (Victory Records) Friends of Friends Deep Search Friends of Friends plays punk music with reckless abandonment. There is a lot of variety on Deep Search, with a couple different vocal styles being used and some change up in music. If enough people heard this album, I’m sure it would be near the top of their year end lists. (Self-Released) Goonies Never Say Die In a Forest Without Trees Despite taking their name from the best movie ever, this UK band plays some unexpectedly good instrumental rock. Their sound is close to Russian Circles or
Explosions in the Sky, but they incorporate more atmospheric rock themes to move the music along. Pretty impressive from this group of lads. (Deep Elm) Gray Young Firmament Similar to the Appleseed Cast in sound and atmospherics, Gray Young keeps their songs lean, when they could easily let them drift and sway into epic lengths. I feel like a goof for sitting on this album for so long. Firmament is an excellent album front to back, and it will surely impress you as it did me. (Self-Released)
Higher Giant Al’s Mustache Featuring hardcore luminaries Ernie Parada (Token Entry) and David Wagenschutz (Kid Dynamite, Lifetime), Higher Giant does not disappoint. Despite their east coast roots, Al’s Mustache has a very infectious west coast melodic punk sound that will put a smile on your face. (Black Numbers)
Into It. Over It
Into It. Over it. 52 Weeks Into It. Over it. is the project of current Damiera member and former Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start member Evan Weiss. 52 Weeks is a project of epic proportions. For one year, or 52 weeks, and as a means to break free from a music rut, Weiss wrote and recorded one song per week. Originally posted on the web as free downloads as the project progressed, 52 Weeks captures all of the songs onto two CDs and with nearly 2 and a half hours of music to listen to. These aren’t just 52 random songs strewn together. Each song portrays an autobiographical glimpse into each week of Weiss’s life during that year. Even if this music isn’t something you’re into, 52 Weeks is definitely something to check out due to the sheer ambitiousness of the project. (No Sleep Records) Joan of Arc Presents Don’t Mind Control You could say Tim Kinsella and Joan of Arc have been pretty prolific with music releases and many have contributed to JOA albums. Don’t Mind Control features 18 bands from individuals that have contributed to JOA releases in the past. Some you’ve probably heard of like Owen, Cale Parks, Ghosts and Vodka and Birthmark. While other bands you haven’t; The Zoo Wheel, Disappears, and The Cairo Gang. Many genres are represented on Don’t Mind Control, from the classic rock sound of A Tundra to the laid back sounds of Owen. An interesting release to say the least, but with all the new and unreleased material, it’s something any JOA fan would enjoy. (Polyvinyl Records)
Joie De Vivre Summer Months Sounding like a midwestern emo band, circa 1997, Joie De Vivre sound like early Promise Ring, pulling influences from Mineral, Pavement and American Football. This is emo before it got all mainstream and taken over by mall stores. Summer Months is an excellent debut album. (Count Your Lucky Stars) Kelly Thomas & Ryan Malott S/T I’m not a huge fan of country music, but I’ll be damned, this release was actually pretty good. Kelly Thomas & Ryan Malott sing duets on the five whisky soaked love songs and this release may have failed if either musician did it solo. As a duo though, this EP shines. (Deep Elm) Lanterns Apocalypse Youth Lanterns five song EP is an interesting mix of pop rock jams and indie attitude. Like a combo of Weezer and Jimmy Eat World. The result being clever songs, loud distortion and solid melodies. (Self-Released) Lipona Pigeonholed Picking up where their previous album Atlas left off, Lipona is back with five new tracks of their signature sound. On the song “Shooty Loops”, they strip down to just an acoustic guitar and vocals, and it works really well and adds a new dimension to the band. With two impressive releases, Lipona is making a strong name for themselves in the hardcore/punk genre. (Self-Released) Living With Lions Dude Manor Sounding like a heavier version of Broadway Calls mixed with Polar Bear Club, Living with Lions’ Dude Manor is a great short EP. One can only hope that they have a full length on the way. (Adeline Records)
Mannequin Men Lose Your Illusion, Too The Mannequin Men are back with their signature garage punk sound. Lose Your Illusion, Too picks up where Fresh Rot leaves off. Think a snottier, slightly slower
version of The Marked Men and you’ve got a pretty good example of where they are coming from. Like Fresh Rot, Lose Your Illusion, Too is a great album and will hopefully get this hardworking band some more exposure outside of their native Chicago. (Flameshovel) Merit Arson is for Lovers Merit is a female fronted punk rock band that is like a faster, heavier version of Rainer Maria. I’d think this album would be boring if it weren’t for lead singer Brenna Merritt. Her voice adds a totally new and fresh dimension to the music. Totally worth checking out. You can downMerit load a free copy at www.gomeritgo.com. (Self-Released) mewithoutYou It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All A Dream! It's Alright Over their past four albums, mewithoutYou has slowly evolved from a heavy intense band to a laid back, feel good band. It’s All Crazy!... is by far the biggest departure in mwY’s discography and is sure to leave fans puzzled. Singer Aaron Wiess has traded in his intensity for preachy intimately sung vocals. It’s All Crazy!... isn’t bad by any means, it shows
the band adding numerous instruments; tubas, accordions, violins, and creating beautifully arranged songs in the process. The religious references are more pronounced on It’s All Crazy!... which might turn away their secular fans. While somewhat of a disappointment, It’s All Crazy!... is a really good album that shows band inventing a new sound for themselves. (Tooth and Nail) My Heart to Joy Seasons In Verse Opening the album off with a slow building instrumental song, My Heart to Joy turn the intensity up to 11 on the following ten songs. This Connecticut band perfectly combines math rock guitars, frenetic drumming and post rock vocals and tone to create a instant classic. (Top Shelf Records) MxPx Left Coast Punk It’s hard to believe this band is still cranking out tunes. Albeit some of those tunes over the years have sucked, some of them have been all right. Left Coast Punk is nothing new in terms of sound, except it sounds a little closer to their early work. They still need to loose some of the production values to be great again. (Rock City Recording) Nathan Xander The Fear Not really my cup of tea, The Fear is chock full of Americana/Folk songs complete with choo choo chugging guitars and harmonicas. One of the tracks that stood out most and being the most upbeat, was “Dark Horses”, with additional female vocals, and a great melody it really made the album for me. (Deep Elm) Nurses Apple’s Acres After losing a couple members, switching labels, and moving across the U.S. a few times since their last release, Nurses are happy to finally drop Apple’s Acres. If you’re familiar with Nurses then you know what to expect. If not, here is a rundown;
group harmonies, interesting instrument choices, awkward melodies and an off-kilter sound. Nurses are usually grouped with bands like Animal Collective or Grizzly Bear and usually take an openminded listener to appreciate. Nurses isn’t for everyone. It may take a few listens to “get”, but when you do, you’ll be happy you did. (Dead Oceans) Oceans Nothing Collapses Listen close to Nothing Collapses and you will faintly hear the sounds of gang vocals delicately complementing the post rock instrumentals. Oceans’ instrumental sound is close to Explosions in the Sky, but blend in their native Chicago/Urbana into the mix. (Copper Lung Records)
One Win Choice Define/Redefine One Win Choice aren’t redefining hardcore with their releases, they are contributing to it and so far, those contributions have sounded good. The same intense sound can be heard on Define/Redefine. (Jump Start Records) Only Thieves Greetings from Levy Park, T.L.H. Tallahassee, FL’s Only Thieves play janglypop rock with enthusiasm and catchy hooks. Greetings from Levy Park, T.L.H., is 15 minutes of well-written tunes with distorted guitars and heartfelt lyrics. This self-released EP shows only a small glimpse of good things this band can do. A full length better be coming in the future. (Self-Released) Over Stars and Gutters Consider this Your Curse Bands like Over Stars and Gutters give me hope for the future of punk rock. While most bands opt to take the money route by writing lifeless generic hits, Over Stars and Gutters take the high road and put together an album of Off With Their Heads sounding punk rock with enough raw emotion and infectious, memorable songs that will win you over time and time again. (Self-Released)
Old Canes Feral Harmonic Old Canes, the side project for The Appleseed Cast’s Chris Crisci, has nothing in common sound wise with The Appleseed Cast and I’m sure that is intended. I was kind of surprised by Feral Harmonic’s sound after listening to many of the Appleseed Cast albums. Both bands are complete opposites of musical genres. Feral Harmonic is a sprawling array of musical talent that will keep you interested throughout and Crisci’s lyrics will keep you singing along at the same time. (Saddle Creek)
Owen New Leaves Mike Kinsella’s, as Owen, latest release, New Leaves, shows the younger Kinsella brother in a more mature light. Having gotten married and had a child since his last release, At Home With, New Leaves doesn’t stray much from the “Owen sound” but builds upon it. The arrangements are elaborately written and the songs more complex with a slight full band feel. Two of the songs on this release (Good Friends, Bad Habits and Ugly on the Inside) were previously released as Bsides, but are given a refreshing A-side treatment. A worthwhile addition to anyone’s collection. (Polyvinyl Records)
Paint it black Amnesia/Surrender 7” PiB’s Dan Yemin said that they are done with making full length albums and are sticking to releasing 7” from here on out. This new format suits Paint it Black perfectly. Many, if not all, of Paint it Black’s songs are under 3 minutes in length and work well on the 7” format. Amnesia and Surrender are Paint it Black at its finest. After their somewhat disappointing last release, New Lexicon, I am thrilled about their decision to stick with writing fast, urgent, classic Paint it Black songs. (Bridge 9/Fat Wreck Chords) Pele A Scuttled Bender in a Watery Closet Existing from 1997-2004, Pele was a staple in the indie instrumental scene. Their creativity was unparalleled and has since carried on with Collections of Colonies of Bees. A Scuttled Bender in a Watery Closet is a collection of songs that spans the entire Pele discography and includes rare, b-side and vinyl only tracks that combined is over two hours of music. This is a definite must own for any fan of Pele or instrumental music. (Polyvinyl Records) Pianos Become the Teeth Old Pride Pianos Become the Teeth sound like Thursday, when they were still good. The opening track on Old Pride, “Filial” draws you in with its sweeping guitars and screamed vocals. The remaining songs hold onto you tightly and drag you along. Old Pride is an exceptional album that is sure to get them noticed. (Top Shelf Records) The Plurals Whatevers Forever The Plurals are a post-rock pop-punk band from Michigan. They have quite a few catchy tunes that are reminiscent of the bands that did this style in the 90’s. Whatevers Forever may not be the best album, but it is quite good. (Bermuda Mohawk)
Polar Bear Club Chasing Hamburg Most people feelings towards Polar Bear Club’s previous release, Sometimes Things Disappear, was that it took a few listens to get. Chasing Hamburg only needs one listen and it’s fully gotten. Chasing Hamburg is a mix of all the great stuff from their The Redder, The Better EP that people loved, and all the good stuff from Sometimes Things Disappear. It is quite an awesome album and I’m glad Polar Bear Club finally figured out a sound that everyone will enjoy. (Bridge 9)
Pomegranates Everybody, Come Outside! Cincinnati’s Pomegranates make music that is fun to listen to. They play an upbeat indie with jangly guitars and sing with joy in their voices. Everybody, Come Outside! shows the band growing into their sound and honing their skill. (Lujo Records) Public Radio Sweetchild The lyrics on opening and title track of this album are comprised of titles to popular songs throughout history and is quite an interesting listen. I can see a lot of people bagging on this bands sound, but this EP is pretty catchy and fun to listen to. (Deep Elm) Quieting Syrup Songs About a Sick Boy Quieting Syrup is the solo output from Pinebender’s Stephen Howard. There are
twelve songs on Songs About a Sick Boy that were written in a span of twelve years and it focuses mostly on the heath battles he has endured. The songs are filled with desperation and hope and are played with heartfelt emotion from someone who has experienced a lot. (Lovitt Records) Rapid Cities Machinery Saints New Jersey’s Rapid Cities play angular post hardcore with awkward vocals. I think the vocals are the only thing that is putting me off this album. It’s not the vocals as much as it is the delivery of them. At times they are tolerable and fit with the music well, at other times, it’s a complete distraction. (Love/Hate Records/Look Again Media) The Reptilian Boy’s Life EP The Reptilian instantly reminded me of Iowa City’s Ten Grand, right down to the vocals and music. There is a lot of influences from the midwest heard on this EP, but it is one of the better ones released so far this year. (Count Your Lucky Stars) Say Hi Oohs & Aahs I was a bit surprised to see a new Say Hi album when they released one just over a
year prior. I was a even more surprised when I saw that it was being released on Barsuk. For the history of Say Hi, leader Eric Elbogen has released all of Say Hi’s material through his own Euphobia Records. Oohs & Aahs is no stretch from their previous material, just a bunch of good pop rock gems. (Barsuk) Shark Speed Sea Sick Music I was pleasantly surprised by Sea Sick Music. Provo, UT’s Shark Speed are a blend of Minus the Bear, Look Mexico and American Football with a vocalist that has a voice like MtB’s Jake Snyder combined with Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba. Sea Sick Music is a romp through intricate guitar work with grooves for days that rocks as much as it sways. Sea Sick Music is a really outstanding debut album. (Self-Released) Sleep Bellum Sonno Judge Us by How We Lived Our Lives not by How We Made our Living Many of the song titles on this album are as long or longer than the title of the album, and each song has a subtitle like mother, sailor, hunter, or lighthouse keeper. I don’t know how the subtitles relate to the songs, but that just adds to the mystery of the band. Sleep Bellum Sonno have two vocalists, one with gruff vocals and one with an almost nasal falsetto vocals. Unfortunately, the falsetto vocalist sings most of the songs but the songs with the gruff vocals are quite good. There are some bright spots on Judge Us by How We Lived Our Lives not by How We Made our Living, but for the most part falls short. (Self-Released) Stay Sharp Four Songs You’d never guess it but Four Songs only has four songs on it and it lasts just over six minutes. This Philadelphia band’s brand of east coast hardcore is a bit refreshing and it’ll be interesting if they can convey the same feel on a full length. (Monkey Wrench Records)
Tigers Jaw Spirit Desire On the heels of their outstanding self-titled full length, Tigers Jaw is back with the Spirit Desire 7”. This release starts out with an updated version of the song “Spirit Desire”, that was originally on their Tour EP. This new version is a much appreciated reworking of an already good song. The other standout on this release isn’t even on the 7” but on the digital version you can download when you purchase this. The bonus song “Meet Me At the Corner” is a quick burst that is similar in vein to some of the songs off their full length and captures the band at their best. (Tiny Engines) Title Fight The Last Thing You Forgot 7”/CD The Last Thing You Forgot is available as a 3 song 7” that includes 3 new songs or as a CD that has the same 3 new songs plus a 4th one and Title Fight’s 2008 7” Kingston and five songs from a 2007 split with The Erection Kids. The four new songs are quite good and all their previous material, that shows their early influences, holds up just as well. Unless you already have stuff from Title Fight, I suggest you buy the CD, it’s well worth it. (Run For Cover Records)
Track a Tiger I Felt the Bullet Hit My Heart I don’t know what to say about Track a Tiger’s third album I Felt the Bullet Hit My Heart. For the most part is seems pretty generic, but there are spots here and there that keep me listening. Some of the songs have a folksy feel, some a rock feel and others an emo feel. They are kind of all over the place with their sound, which can be a little distracting but also interesting. (Deep Elm) Transit Stay Home The only problems with this release is that it’s too short. Transit blaze though all six songs in just over 17 minutes and it leaves you wanting more from this Boston 5 piece. I want to say it sounds like a hardcore version of Saves The Day. There is a familiarity in Transit’s sound that I can’t describe. Nevertheless, it sounds good. (Run for Cover Records) UltraChorus Ultra-Def If you mentioned electronic pop and Minnesota in the same sentence, most people would assume your were talking about Owl City. Truth is, however, Owl City is not the only artist coming out of MN
right now that utilizes electronic elements. The difference being, UltraChorus actually has the roots and ability to write interesting and inventive songs. Instead of playing a straight pop sound, UltraChorus incorporates dance and R&B grooves, with an indie rock influence as well, into some of the songs. Ultra-Def is a great full length and I hope it gets the band the attention it deserves. (So TM) Vacations I was a Bikini / But Rain Afraid Featuring Jeremy Bolen and Bobby Burg of Chin Up Chin Up and Love of Everything, Vacations music is a blend of both bands but leans more towards the Chin Up side. I’d imagine this is what Chin Up Chin Up would sound like if they were more abstract. (Record Label) Victor Villarreal Alive After a disappearing for a few years, battling drug addiction, losing a brother to drugs in the process, then finding religion, Victor Villarreal is a new man. Alive is the first release in 7 years from the former Cap’n Jazz/Owls/Noyes/Ghosts & Vodka guitarist. Those familiar with Villarreal’s guitar work know that he is a very talented guitarist and Alive shows that, but also shows he can pen a tune as well. The 10 songs on Alive are as personal and emotional as they can get. Alive is a tribute to his lost brother and proceeds from the album sales goes to Mission USA Prison Ministries. (Self-Released) Victor! Fix the Sun Person Place or Thing Switching vocals back and forth form singing to screaming, Victor! Fix the Sun’s Person Place or Thing is an aggressive and raw album. There are brief glimpses of La Dispute or STNNNG throughout, but for the most part, fairly original. (Friction)
Volcano Choir Unmap Volcano Choir is the collaborative project of Collections of Colonies Of Bees and indie darling Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. I’d say most fans excited about this release will be Bon Ivor fans, just to get the chance of more songs by Vernon. I expected this release to be more heavy on the Bon Iver side, but Collections of
Colonies of Bees gets good representation of their sound on here. Unmap is quite an interesting listen as it doesn’t sound like either artist specifically, and I applaud them for doing something unexpected. (Jagjaguwar) Where the Land Meets the Sea Listen for the Gulls Where the Land Meets the Sea features current and former members of The Cold Beat, Lock and Key, and Smoke Or Fire. With its female vocals and synth driven songs, Where the Land Meets the Sea reminds me of The Anniversary, just faster and less emo. This 5-song EP is a pretty good intro for the band and I expect to be hearing more from them in the future. (Self-Released) The Wooden Birds Magnolia For quite a while now I’ve been wondering what American Analog Set frontman Andrew Kenny has been up to. I was hoping for more AnAmSet music but instead Andrew got a band together to create beautiful simple music. Relying mostly on his acoustic guitar and his voice, Kenny and band create twelve wonderful folksy songs. (Barsuk)
Ads: Count Your Lucky Stars // cyls.com Lujo Records // lujorecords.com Cover: Joe Wigdahl // joewigdahl.com Viper Bite Records // viperbiterecords.com Pg 4: Lauren Colchamiro // laurencolchamiro.com Saddle Creek // saddle-creek.com Pg 8: Conor Gary // flickr.com/photos/29141661@N04/ Modern-Radio // modern-radio.com Pg 11: Kelly Lone // ishootbands.net Lovitt Records // lovitt.com Pg 16: Lipona - Victor @ Vision Featherproof Books // featherproof.com Pg 17: Slingshot Dakota - Unknown - Promo Photo Big Scary Monsters // bsmrocks.com Pg 18: Only Thieves - Unknown // Promo Photo Square of Opposition // squareofopposition.com Pg 19: Lanterns - Unknown // Promo Photo Pg 20: The Cold Beat - Keith Pierce // Labels: flickr.com/photos/kpierce Adeline Records // adelinerecords.net Shark Speed - Jill Thomas // jillsphotoblog.com Asian Man Records // asianmanrecords.com Pg 22: Matthew Kellen // matthewkellen.com Assassinated Records // assassinatedrecords.com Pg 25: After the Fall - Unknown // Promo Photo Barsuk // barsuk.com Pg 26: Aneurysm Rats - Unknown // Promo Photo Bermuda Mowhawk // bermudamohawkproductions.com Pg 27: CarCrashLander - Faulkner Short Black Numbers // theblacknumbers.com Pg 28: Espirit De Corps - Unknown // Promo Photo Bridge 9 Records // bridge9.com Pg 29: Four Letter Lie - Evan Dell // Copper Lung Records // copperlungrecords.com flickr.com/photos/evandellphotography Count Your Lucky Stars // cyls.com Higher Giant - Unknown // Promo Photo Dead Oceans // deadoceans.com Pg 30: Into It. Over It. - Jaret Ferratusco // Deep Elm // deepelm.com corpseonpumpkin.com Evil Weevil Records // myspace.com/evilweevilrecords Pg 31: Mannequin Men - John Sturdy // johnsturdy.com Fat Wreck Chords // fatwreck.com Pg 32: Old Canes - Melanie Coen Flameshovel // flameshovel.com Pg 33: Pomegranates - Unknown // Promo Photo Friction // frictiongoods.com Pg 34: Say Hi - Jenny Jimenez // photojj.com Jagjaguwar // jagjaguwar.com Pg 35: Title Fight - Cameron Warthan // Jealous Butcher // jealousbutcher.com flickr.com/photos/cameronwarthanphotography Jump Start Records // jumpstartrecords.com Pg 36: Volcano Choir - Cameron Wittig // Look Again Media // myspace.com/lookagainmedia cameron-photo.com Love/Hate Records // myspace.com/ilovetohaterecords Lovitt Records // lovitt.com Lujo Records // lujorecords.com Monkey Wrench Records // myspace.com/monkeywrenchrecords The Mylene Sheath // mylenesheath.com No Idea Records // noidearecords.com Bands: No Sleep Records // nosleeprecs.com Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) // Paper & Plastick // paperandplastick.com empireempireband.com Polyvinyl Records // polyvinylrecords.com Banner Pilot // myspace.com/bannerpilot Raise Your Fist Records // raiseyourfistrecords.com Owen // myspace.com/mybandowen Record Label // myspace.com/recordlabel Run For Cover // runforcoverrecords.com People: Saddle Creek // saddle-creek.com Eric Grubbs // themeparkexperience.blogspot.com Sickroom Records // sickroomrecords.com So TM // so-tm.com SIXES - DIY Bands: Ticklebutt Records // myspace.com/ticklebuttrecords Lipona // myspace.com/lipona Tiny Engines // tinyengines.net Slingshot Dakota// myspace.com/slingshotdakota Tooth and Nail // toothandnail.com Only Thieves // myspace.com/onlythievesfla Top Shelf Records // topshelfrecords.org Lanterns // myspace.com/wearelanterns Uneasy Records // uneasyrecords.com The Cold Beat // myspace.com/thecoldbeat Victory Records // victoryrecords.com Shark Speed // myspace.com/sharkspeedrawks
Full length interviews with: Mike Kinsella (Owen), Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate), Banner Pilot, Eric Grubbs Mini Interviewswith:...
Published on Dec 8, 2009
Full length interviews with: Mike Kinsella (Owen), Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate), Banner Pilot, Eric Grubbs Mini Interviewswith:...