On the Cover: The Narrator, www.thenarrator.net Photo: Chris Strong, www.chrisstrong.com Above Photo: Nurses, www.nursesmusic.com Photo: David McHank, www.myspace.com/mchank Correspond: email@example.com P.O. Box 2076 â€˘ Maple Grove, MN 55311
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Schedule two Sixes- editors The Narrator Nurses Baby Teeth Reviews Summer
Schedule Two started out as a record label and then switched to filming live shows? Why the switch and do you have any plans to release any albums in the future? Oh, man. That's a long story. Let's see if it can be shortened up. Luke and Steve decided to put out a CD EP by Trent's band, Monarques. It was a great EP and we're proud of the 400 copies (out of 1000) we sold. After Trent and Monarques split ways, he was throwing around the idea of starting up an all digital label. Being great friends, suggestions were made in joining forces under a new multi-format scheduletwo.com where we could give away videos and mp3s for FREE. This was agreed upon and we
started filming shows shortly there-after. The main principle was: it is easier to give things away for free than to sell them for money. This is especially true with the distribution power of the almighty Internet. "What the fuck is the internet?" you ask. [See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet] We originally intended to do a lot of live/session style mp3 releases (much like daytrotter.com is doing now), but with the videos getting such an overwhelming reaction, and taking so much of our time, we got a little sidetracked. We hope to have more mp3 releases in the near future and to release more albums [physical media] in the more distant future. How has the response been from bands and visitors to the site? Overwhelmingly positive. Bands are excited to have
great sounding/multi-angled live videos of their performances. Fans are happy that the videos aren't uploaded from the cellphone of that staggering drunk guy at the show, not to mention that they last longer than 30 seconds. What kind of equipment do you use? Do you record sound from the soundboard or is it all done from the camera? We use Canon GL2s to shoot most of the video with the help of an occasional Canon XL1 or Sony TRV17. Eric Drommerhausen, our soundman, gets a mix from the board which he incorporates with some high quality room mics. This is all key in
achieving the live sounds we look for. Straight board mixes typically are way too vocal heavy, so having a good set of room mics really makes all the difference in the world. On a few occasions in the early days of filming, camera audio has saved our necks, but typically camcorder microphones sound flat, and pick up a lot of machine noise from the camcorder itself. We try to avoid using camcorder audio at all costs, but some times it's all you got. How do you choose which bands to film and do bands ever contact you to film there live shows? Pretty much it's just our combined tastes versus scheduling. We try to shoot 2-4 sets per month. But some months have 6 shoots and some have none. We also trust a lot of people who listen to a lot of good music.
Do you get permission from bands before you film their show, or do you just show up with cameras?
What are some problems that have arisen when filming live shows?
We always get permission beforehand. Understandably, bands and venues don't appreciate people waltzing in with cameras and audio equipment at the last minute all guerrilla style. Though in one case [The Hold Steady videos are a good example of this] we went to First Avenue to film the opening band, The Evening Rig, and while we were there we got the OK to shoot Sean Na Na as well as The Hold Steady. The moral of the story is; always bring extra batteries and tapes. Also, always be polite to your venue staff. The Twin Cities have some incredible clubs with some even more incredible people who run their day-to-day operations. We love em all and think that more people should buy them drinks...after they get off work of course.
The most attention needs to be paid to audio. It is the single most crucial part of any shoot. That's where Eric comes in. He delivers every time. If he didn't dial in the audio, we wouldn't be posting the videos. Otherwise it's just little stuff like people turning off cameras mid-set and ruining the sync, audience members deciding to fuck with the asshole holding a camera by holding their drink in front of the lens, band members looking directly into the camera all the time [can be creepy], filming the floor/ceiling for 30 seconds while you drink beer, etc etc...
Have any bands denied you from filming their show?
Steven: Dirty Three Luke: Sonic Youth circa 1987 Trenton: Bad Brains circa 1982 Eric: The Anniversary
When we ask permission, either bands respond and say, "yes please!" or they just ignore us. A few bands have asked us not to post the footage given that they were not pleased with their performances. We have, of course, always complied. We won't name names. Though one in particular is a Canadian band who's name has something to do with a standard of measurement, and we're not talking Imperial (or English) units of measurements here. Yeah, that other kind. Who films all the shows?
If you could shoot video of one band from any time in history, which band would you choose?
What bands can we look forward seeing on the site in the near future? We have some new sets from Portastatic, Haley Bonar and Akron/Family that are almost ready to be posted. We're filming some great upcoming shows including Low's CD release show on April 14th at First Avenue, Vietnam, and The Black Angels as well. Other than that we don't have a lot planned. Any suggestions? Email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our main crew consists of Steven Candy, Luke Heiken, Trenton Raygor and Eric Drommerhausen. The sound guys at the clubs deserve a lot of the credit. They are why it sounds good in the first place. [Here's to you Matt Lindquist] We have a group of go-to camera people including Julie Wager (who is also responsible for the beautiful stylings of the scheduletwo.com website), David Hill, Seth Mabbott, a trusty old tripod, and any one else who is hanging around and willing to sling a camera for 45 minutes to an hour.
6 questions 7Editors 6x7Gus Pe単a (Chord) Stuart Anderson (The New Scheme) Amy Schroeder (Venus) Steve Brydges (Copper Press) Justin Luczejko (WonkaVision) Todd Taylor (Razorcake) Jack Rabid (The Big Takeover)
6 ques 7Editor
What is the purpose of your magazine? Our purpose is to give music fans an avenue to discover music. As editor of your magazine, what does your job involve? It is not as glamorous as it sounds. 'Soup to nuts' basically. What's the key to longevity in independent publishing? Staying independent. What do you think is the biggest problem facing independent magazines like yours today? Probably the misconception that internet ad buys equate to CD sales. Internet 'plays' on sites like MySpace or Pure Volume do not equal sales. I saw a press release where the artist had 17+ million plays but only sold 15,000 CDs. Numbers can be deceiving. Plays in the millions sound good but in truth they do nothing for your bottom line. I have yet to meet a person that clicks on a banner ad on purpose.
I think that when we get online we tend to know almost exactly where we want to go; I want to sell this on eBay, or check the Lakers score from last night or who posted a comment on my MySpace page. With print the approach is different. We want to flip through a magazine and see what it may have to offer. We want to have the ability to scope out and ad and flip the page if we are not interested. Is the internet killing independent paper magazines or making them more popular? I think the internet is offering another avenue of distribution. Independent print will only die if we as independent publishers do not move forward with the times and develop new and improved methods of reaching people and advertisers. Companies want PR in print otherwise our inboxes would not be as full as they are. Clearly there will have to be a new magazine online business model.
How would you describe your publication? In short: a small-run magazine, mostly focused on independent music. In reality: a fanzine (read as: dinosaur). What is the purpose of your magazine? To spread the word on new, interesting music, most of which will be only peripherally covered, or completely ignored by larger publications. Lately it seems like the purpose has mostly been survival, both financially, and personally. It has been difficult to find time to devote to it, and keep print runs at a reasonable level while finally getting away from newsprint. As editor of your magazine, what does your job involve? It involves a lot of different things, mostly coordinating coverage with a number of writers, writing too many reviews myself, and selling ads. Then, I usually end up editing and laying out the whole issue in a three-day span, weeks after the deadline. The current issue will hopefully be the last one that falls into this pattern, as I'm finally finishing school. I would really like to spend more time working with the talented, but equally over-worked and unpaid writers and focusing more on each issue's production. Hopefully that will be possible starting next month. What's the key to longevity in independent publishing? Persistence, and not over-reaching. I have been tempted a number of times over the years to leap at the full color cover, free sampler CD, UPC and cover price. It sucks to feel so stuck with OK black and white printing and inconsistent at best, free distribution. But taking that leap would likely have killed this project years ago. Instead, I’m always trying to grow slowly and organically. Right now the goal is to fill in gaps in circulation for the paper version, keep growing with the digital version and make enough money to pay writers. I think all of them are finally possible now. I’ve been able to consistently break even at this, in some
capacity, for more than ten years. It’s frustrating sometimes, but I’d rather stay afloat than go broke on a few issues and end up working at Alternative Press. What do you think is the biggest problem facing independent magazines like yours today? The biggest problem is really the same that it’s always been: money. It seems like advertising is way down, since more and more labels are cutting their budgets as conventional CD sales disappear. But there also seems to always be a stream of new labels, despite the slim odds of making money. I know that distribution is more difficult all the time for newsstand magazines. I avoid that by making it free in print and online. Again, it’s frustrating to scramble for years and consistently get roughly the same amount of ad money each issue. But with so many people involved in selling music going out of business, I’d rather be treading water than sinking. Is the internet killing independent paper magazines or making them more popular? Usually: killing them. In an effort not to be another casualty, or go fully online I’ve found a happy medium. I’m still printing the issues as always, but I’m also putting out a PDF version, which is free to download. I have no interest in doing a fully online magazine, since I really don’t like reading a bunch of text at once online. It works great for more news-based sites like Punknews and Pitchfork, but it isn’t for me. So far, the PDF version has been doing really well. There have been at least four times as many unique downloads for each issue as printed copies. I see the internet hurting a lot of mid-sized magazines with cover prices, but it has only helped to spread The New Scheme.
How would you describe your publication? Venus Zine (and venuszine.com) covers the ladies (and men) in music, film, fashion, and DIY culture. We’re lucky: We’re the only publication that covers what we cover how we cover it. What is the purpose of your magazine? There are so many cool women, and there is so little time. We do our best to feature as many creative, inspiring women as we can. We’ve featured Björk, Yoko Ono, Miranda July, Sleater-Kinney, and so many others. As editor of your magazine, what does your job involve? A lot of my job involves talent search and management. I recruit talented writers and creative types and figure out how and where they’re best suited at Venus Zine. I also edit stories, decide the cover story, oversee a team of freelance editors and writers, train interns, and conceptualize and flush out business development ideas. Outside of the office, I also do public speaking on how to successfully start an indie publication.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing independent magazines like yours today? Funding (i.e. advertising) and channels for newsstand distribution — especially when record stores are going under — are always main concerns. We’ve been able to stay competitive by putting an emphasis on our Web site, venuszine.com. In the summer of 2007, we are launching a redesign of our site. Is the internet killing independent paper magazines or making them more popular? Both. Depends on the publication. I believe that in today’s world, it's less about print vs. web. In order to succeed, publications need to grow their overall brands and multiple media channels.
What's the key to longevity in independent publishing? A solid and original concept, hard work and dedication, the ability to stay ahead of trends, and being able to adapt to the changing times with the Internet.
How would you describe your publication? Adrift in a sea of debt. Oh, and a perfectbound, 8"x8", quarterly publication that focuses on music, art, photography, literature, snow/skate creative types and other endeavors of interest to us. What is the purpose of your magazine? To communicate and share with others in artful fashion things we're passionate about. We've been publishing since 1993. The first was Pok (pronounced "poke") Magazine, which was equal parts snow/skate/sound. In 1999, two of us broke off to found Copper Press. It's 5.01.07, and we're about to release our 29th issue. As editor of your magazine, what does your job involve? It would take less time and space to list the things it does not involve. We're a two-man operation that's fortunate to have a solid unpaid staff of writers (one of whom is now our copy editor) and graphic designers who contribute articles and layouts, but I'm personally responsible for ad sales, distribution, retail sales, mail-order, writing, interviewing bands/artists/etc., assigning articles, corresponding with publicists and labels, paying bills, arranging the layout, tracking down missing ads, photos, articles, etc.
What's the key to longevity in independent publishing? Passion and ad sales. With a magazine as expensive to produce as ours (over $2.00 per copy), we have to be able to sell ads to stay afloat. And without the desire to publish issue after issue, year after year, there would be no point in pursuing those dollars in order to put out an issue devoid of heart. Readers will know when you're faking it. What do you think is the biggest problem facing independent magazines like yours today? Lack of available ad funds. Labels are spending their money on web ads and publicists without considering the viability of the printed word. Is the internet killing independent paper magazines or making them more popular? Financially, we'd like to be doing a lot better, but we hustle for every ad dollar we can earn, so we're hanging in there. Plus, I think our content and format is unique and I'll put the quality of our paper and layouts/presentation up against any magazine in any genre, so while the cookie-cutter magazines scramble to interview the same cover subjects and tumble into the death spiral that is going all-color, we have actually see our circulation increase. Huzzah!
How would you describe your publication? Created by an extremely passionate staff that’ve seen the magazine mature over the course of ten years, Wonka Vision is a glossy publication with worldwide distribution yet has the personality and attitude of a cut and paste fanzine. In the ever-growing corporately funded music industry, WVM remains an independently published magazine with the guts and moxy to stand up and take good care of the little guys of the world. Whether it’s punk rock & hardcore, politics & photography, toys & comics; Wonka Vision’s eclectic approach to up and coming artists and musicians is as gritty and raw since the day of it’s inception. With an ever-growing sense of humor, there is something in the magazine for every kid that refuses to become an adult. What is the purpose of your magazine? Give readers who still believe in real music a magazine then can feel good reading. Give smaller bands an outlet for exposure when bigger magazines won’t pay attention to them. Help young artists with visibility for their artwork. As editor of your magazine, what does your job involve? I oversee everything that goes on at the magazine; however, we have more department heads than ever before so I’m in charge of the people who are in charge of the people. Did that make sense? I’m doing something different every day and that keeps things here fresh. Some weeks I’m selling advertising, others I’m getting all of the stories and photos ready for design and every day I’m helping our staff with their tasks and answering hundreds of e-mails. The e-mails tend to get arduous and the job has become more administrative than ever before but I’m happy where I am outside of the creative process because every day my main duty and detail is strictly helping the magazine grow. What's the key to longevity in independent publishing? The first and more obvious things are faithful advertisers and exclusive worldwide distribution. We just got an exclusive deal so
the previous ten years were always tough. We basically used street teams and tons of friends, writers, etc. to give out our magazine free everywhere we could. Shipping is so expensive and to make matters A LOT worse, the USPS is about to implement a fee hike that’s going to affect print media in a very negative way. The rates are going up 30% and I can guarantee it’s going to knock more and more magazines off the block. In this day in age where so many mags are flopping and online sites like Pure Volume and Myspace are raking in the profits, the only thing a print publisher can do to stay afloat is compromise. We’ve been looking at intricate things that sell magazines more nowadays and we NEVER did things like that in the past. In the past, we did what we wanted to, we spoke from the gut and ONLY featured the bands we loved. Our passions haven’t changed but to stay alive I’ve had to think of this as a business every day I go to work. It’s not exactly something I like to do but hey, I’m surviving off of what I love to do and I’m taking my friends on the path with me. We have goals and to reach them, you have to constantly give and take, push and pull. We’ve been forced to become more critical and introspective that when I started this magazine I would have referred to as silly things: the colors we use, the text we run, the paper we print on, the cover stock we use, our page counts, recycled paper… lots and lots of utterly boring things. What do you think is the biggest problem facing independent magazines like yours today? The internet. Is the internet killing independent paper magazines or making them more popular? Both. Without the internet, we wouldn’t have survived as long as we have. It’s made everything from advertising to file transfer and contacts easier. However, it’s a double-edge sword because Status, Clamor, HeartattaCk, Under the Volcano, Big Wheel, Rockpile, Hanging Like a Hex and Law of Inertia have all closed in the past couple years. I think the cons outweigh the pros. Then again I’m a total and complete hypocrite and anyone who says they aren’t in 2007, is a liar.
How would you describe your publication?
am intimately involved in the process.
We’re technically the only official non-profit music magazine in America at the time. There are shit-tons of great zines that don’t turn a profit, but we’re the first to go through the grueling non-profit gauntlet. It took two and half years, were denied our first two attempts, and it cost about as much as it does to release two 7”s, but a lot less fun. Megan Pants took the charge on it.
I’m totally fortunate to have awesome helpers, in addition to our contributors. Daryl, Jenny, and Megan all come in once or twice a week and we have two interns, Adrian and Hannah. There’s a tremendous amount of shitwork we all have to go through. For instance, we upload about 200-300 new reviews onto our website alone, every two months. That’s a lot of data entry.
What is the purpose of your magazine?
What's the key to longevity in independent publishing?
To cover DIY, grassroots music, mostly punk, stuff that we truly like and that doesn’t traditionally get a lot of coverage. We go out of our way to celebrate the littler folks in favor of bigger bands with bigger budgets. Here’s where the official non-profit comes in to play. Since we can’t make money off of it and our finances are public domain, I hope it puts people at ease that we’re doing all we can— doing our part. That we’re in it for the right reasons. That we give a shit about this culture and are willing to give it more than just lip service. We’re working on setting up activities in our neighborhood: East Los Angeles, Highland Park specifically. I love it here. As editor of your magazine, what does your job involve? Almost everything. I consider myself a grey collar worker: partially white collar, partially blue collar. I spend a lot of mental time getting our 100 contributors in synch with our schedule, I answer a ton of emails, get all the advertising aligned, do some graphic design, help balance the books, do all the prepress for the printing, write reviews, interview bands, take pictures. I also do a lot of the lug work. Every two months, we pull a little over one ton of magazines up a flight of stairs, process them, haul them back down, and make sure the right postal markings are on them. People think I’m joking when I say that the zine’s a workout, but swear my arms are longer from constantly lifting 50 lb boxes the last six years. I also fix all the computers, keep the mail bike and pickup truck working. Shit, you name it with Razorcake, and I’m either helping steer or
Semi-serious answer: Make friends with your postal employees. They’re your gateway. If you piss them off, you’re doomed. I know all of the desk workers at the four closest branches, am sensitive when it’s best to go in with a big load, and always help with the lifting and hampering. More broad answer: Pay attention to the boring details. You’ll totally get killed if you don’t pay attention. It’s not fun to balance your checkbook. It’s not fun to harass distributors to pay. It’s not fun to learn about dot gain. It’s not fun to become a skilled amateur at things like taking care of computer viruses and wondering how the fuck some asshole in Turkey just breached your site’s security and erased everything just for kicks, but, unless you have deep pockets (I made $5,500 last year) I’ve found out that if you learn it yourself, or have people that you get along with and you treat them well, you don’t have to outsource much (this keeps it in our “community”), and it’s cheaper. If you’re honest and forward, you’ll be okay. I’ve always been very conservative with Razorcake, financially. Everything we do, we have the money on hand before starting it. If it bombs, we break even. I know too many folks who got carried away, got slapped with a huge return, or rely too much on a distributor to pay them, then go kaput.
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How would you describe your publication? For music lovers tired of hearing about the same bands over and over. We will talk about some of them if they are really good, we're not snobs, but it's always been the case that there is so much more out there that needs a voice and will enrich your life even more if you can hear them. We're 220 pages of all music, all the time, all by people who buy copious amounts of CDs, and we get the artists to really open up about their music and what really turns them on as musicians. What is the purpose of your magazine? I'd say it's the above, but it's also really about getting people more involved, and to think deeper about the things and the art they love. We try to foster a small community of people who really do more than just buy the t-shirt or have music on in the background; we want people to get more out of their lives and give them a small assist to really harvesting the full potential of the underground music that's out there. As editor of your magazine, what does your job involve? Ha, just about everything! I assign the stories and reviews, many of them to myself. I edit them before they go to copyediting. I talk to distributors and get orders. I book all the ads. I talk to all the writers. I deal with the publicists for the most part, when I have time. I get involved a little with the orders for the mag, and I talk to our readers a lot as well. And I deal with the art director a lot, and then the printer once it is all done. I'm also in charge of all accounts payable and accounts receivable. And bookkeeping too for the IRS folks. I know bigger mags have a person that does all these things, but we only sell 22,000 and don't get any really expensive lifestyle ads, so I'm required to work this much, but I like it! I have an assistant and two or three interns that help as well, which is key. And all our contributors are really in on it as well, they're all volunteers and they all love the music as much as I!
What's the key to longevity in independent publishing? In our case, since we're working on our 60th issue in our 27th year of publishing, I would say it is just stubborn persistence born of the genuine love of what we cover. It's a pain in the tail to do a print mag, that's for sure. (But I vastly prefer them--I read the New Yorker, The Economist, and Time Out New York and print newspapers like The New York Times, and other ones quite religiously, and don't do that with any web based magazine. I think you can take your time and consider more with a print mag. It fosters more substantial thought processes and information, I think.) I hope people understand the extra love and care and effort that goes into one as opposed to throwing together some web zine. There is work involved there too, but nowhere near as much. Printing and shipping and distribution and its attendant accounts receivable woes are a huge chuck of time, as are subscriptions and the like. But I think it is all worth it as we really do love what we have been doing for so long, and it means a lot to me when people say it means a lot to them, and they say it to us all the time. We're really inspired by that to keep it going if we know it is appreciated like that, and we've been lucky that people have been unsparing with that sort of important feedback. It makes me feel like we make a difference, however modest, in the culture, however small, and in people's lives, however few! That's a good feeling when I walk around the sidewalks humming a tune to myself on any given day. We hope to keep it going another 27 years! And there really is no substitute for that kind of zeal. Ego alone will never get you very far when the workload starts to eat you alive, and the funding issues start to strip you naked. It's really quite quixotic otherwise! What do you think is the biggest problem facing independent magazines like yours today? It's always funding. Any mag is dependent on advertising, and many of the traditional sources of that have been slowly eroding (especially in the music business as the industry's sales have been down so bad the last few
years, killing a lot of their more generous marketing budgets, but not limited to that!), as marketing departments of products are confronted with a much wider range of options and ideas and solicitations for their budgets. And print mag or newspaper is running the risk of seeming like old media. But what's keeping us afloat is that our advertisers consider our readership a unique set of eyeballs. I hope that continues. Because you just can't count on getting a lot of money for the mags you sell, the whole independent distribution channel is the most patently one-sided business arrangement I have ever seen. Since everything is consignment, the poor publisher is always left holding the bag in unsolds, plus both the distributor and the store both get a cut out of every sale of the ones that do sell, then the distributors charge you for everything they seem to do and should do as a matter of course (the most bitter are "marketing fees" that you can't opt out of, but there's more!), and that gets deducted, plus you had to pay to ship the buggers to them in the first place, so all in all, you end up breaking even more than making a profit even if your sell through is good. (In which case, you only do it because it's essential to your ad rates.) If your sell through is bad, you actually end up losing money on store sales, because the costs of printing and shipping the mags to these distributors are not made back. Since this putrid and offensive relationship has no end in sight, it's all down to subscriptions and advertising to fund the massive upfront costs of doing a mag before you've sold a single issue (for us it's around $45000 to $50000 an issue!). So if either of those things lesson, you will probably be forced to stop. It's a big problem, and I'm not surprised some of my favorite print mags are now web only zines. You cut out 80-90% of the costs right there. Although I also think you cut out 80-90% of the joy for me as a reader. I get sick of staring at a computer screen and don't read much of anything on it other than the occasional informational blurb or headline.
Is the internet killing independent paper magazines or making them more popular? Oddly both. I'm old enough in this game to remember what it was like before the internet. There was no competition from it true, but it was 50 times harder for readers who were potentially interested in your coverage to find out you even existed! So it's a double edged sword. Our circulation doubled in a few short years after the internet started, and rose slowly the next several years, then it plateaued. It's an old story, some people just don't understand that you get what you pay for, and a lot of the coverage on the internet is cheap fast and easy (not all of it, obviously) and you just don't digest it properly the way you do sitting down with your favorite print mag. Now I think it is starting to kill paper magazines a little, because there is an unreasonable rush to get all your info and opinion now, instead of the greater satisfaction of waiting a little and having it covered more thoroughly. The lessening attention spans of our society is directly related to the barrage of media thrown at people every day, and I think it is actually curtailing real brain activity a little. But if you walk into any newsstand in any airport, you see a sea of print mags, so we must still be fulfilling a basic human need, for deeper, more thoughtful reads, despite the internet's competition. If newspapers survive it will only be because of this as well. I can't get the depth of the New York Times' coverage anywhere online in my view, and if I could, I wouldn't want to read that much on a computer screen! The thought makes me laugh. In the end, I think the real problem will be how much of the marketing dollars the internet siphons. To the extent that marketers have or will put more money there and less into traditional print mags, they will kill us all. And they ought to think long and hard about that. Because it is my view that an ad in a paper mag is far less annoying and far more welcome than the ads I get bombarded with on the internet. And they're 10 times more eye catching too. And you can't Tivo past the ads in a mag. They're always there with their messages, and good art directors know how to make you look at their ad.
Is the internet killing independent paper magazines or making them more popular?
Continued What do you think is the biggest problem facing independent magazines like yours today? Here’s the elephant in the middle of the room: traditional magazine distribution (on a national level) is abhorrent. It was horrible when I started in 1996 helping out with Flipside, and it’s worse now. I’ve seen four of the largest independent distros go belly up right in front of me: Fine Print, Desert Moon, now Tower (who were great) and Big Top (a branch or subsidiary of the IPA, Independent Press Association). Big Top’s the shame because at one time they had the money in their hands to set up the national system for magazine distribution (which is complicated and incredibly expensive), but they totally fucked up, spent the money on the wrong things, and took down some great magazines with them. I think they’re getting sued by both the Chicken Soup for the Soul people and Mother Jones. Drives me nuts. A lot of these folks will be “rah, rah, revolution, rah rah, everyone equal, PCPC-PC, antidote to media monopoly,” (which is fine if it were really true) and then treat you worse than you’ve ever been treated. Suckin’.
I don’t know if the internet’s doing the killing (see answer above), or if it’s because postage is getting higher and higher, but it seems that zines are getting harder and harder —not to make—but to get into people’s hands and have them pay a modest sum for all of that hard work and shipping. Really, I have no idea. Razorcake covers both. My heart’s in paper, full-page spreads, ink, and reading something that’s not glowing at you like a computer monitor. Plus, you can never underestimate that the biggest room for reading in most folks’ house is the bathroom. But, I understand the internet’s utility. We use them together and they’re interwoven. We use the website to help provide a direct link (thus taking out some of the distributors’ choke holds) between us and our subscribers. Except reviews and some other small things, we keep the webzine and fanzine contents separate. Two different experiences. A Venn diagram with a little overlap between the two. We’re working on posting way-sold-out issues up on the website as PDFs. Stuff’s always changing and I hope we stay on top of it while it still remains fun. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Interview with Jesse Woghin // Above photo: Ryan Russell // Live photos: Oly
How did losing your drummer affect writing and recording All That to the Wall? Well, there was a pretty extensive search that went on for months until we finally realized he was just gone -- real gone -- and that we had to move on. You know that old saying, "If you love something..." Yeah. Essentially, though, it sort of streamlined the whole process. The drums on this album definitely feel a lot different than on Such Triumph. There's a lot more "holdin' it down" and a lot less "riffin'" rhythmically. Probably some of that comes from the fact that the feel of at least two of the songs comes from beats written by a Casio CT-250 drummer. Dave Turncrantz from Russian Circles and Dan Fetherston from Oxford Collapse filled in on drums for the recording of All That to the Wall. Did they come up with the drumming parts for the album, or were those already written before recording? There were some parts written by our old drummer that didn't change all that much and some that changed a lot. We had demos and live recordings that Nate had played on. Some ideas came from the Casio. Some ideas came from Sam or James or I. Honestly, it was still pretty collaborative, but in a pretty different way. We really only worked with Dave for about a week and Dan for a few days, but they both really developed and fleshed out the ideas that were already in place. Dan definitely came to Chicago to record with his game face on. He had a lot of great ideas, not just for his own parts, and we love him for it. He's kinda like the Jimmy Jam on Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation of All That to the Wall.
With Bob Dylan's extensive catalog, what made you decide to cover "All the Tired Horses"? Divine intervention. Since you've been playing these new songs live, how have the fans reacted to them, especially "All the Tired Horses"? Ahh, the fans. The reaction has really been pretty great. I think we're making a lot of new fans from the new jams and I will continue to believe so until proven wrong. Honestly, though, I think people either really love or really hate "... Tired Horses." One side of the fence or the other. A lot of times people who know it will sing along while it's going down and then a lot of nerdy Dylan chat will ensue post-set. A lot of times people will groan and walk away. It's like what George Clinton tells Kid 'n Play in the cinema classic, House Party: "Cry two tears in a bucket. Fuck it. Let's take it to the stage." Did you accomplish everything you wanted to with writing and recording All That to the Wall? Yeah, we did actually. We got to hang out with Mike Lust (engineer) for like a week straight. We've always really wanted to do that. Honestly, though, we're really happy with it for the most part. Right now, for me, the album feels like it'll stick with me. I guess I finally feel like I've been a part of something that in ten or fifteen years I'll come back to and still be happy about. Father time will tell.
How was writing and recording All That to the Wall compared to writing and recording Such Triumph? With Such Triumph we had a bunch of songs that had been written for quite some time and we knew what we wanted the album as a whole to feel like. We wrote some songs specifically to fit in spots that we thought needed to be filled in the greater idea of the album -- like, "here's where the rocker will go" and "then we'll drop the interlude here." ATttW transpired a lot more organically in that we knew we wanted to make another album and were writing for it all along, but there was no real greater idea to making the album than to try to write a bunch of songs we were really happy with and really wanted to play the hell out of live. We put the pieces together a lot later in the game. Also I'd say that a lot more attention was paid to vocal melodies and lyrics than before. We did our best to not just haphazardly throw things together. As far as recording, the vibe was a lot different. We also recorded over a longer period of time, which definitely changed things a little, gave us some time to rework ideas and get them right. We fought less I think, which was nice. We tried to stay away from excessive overdubs and noise, which we didn't quite accomplish, but there's definitely less. Lust rubbed his madness all over that recording. It's great. He was in a lot of ways hands-on and had a lot of valuable advice. He really knew how to walk this dog.
Some of the reviews I've read about All That to the Wall say that there is a big difference in sound between your previous albums (faster tempos) and this new one (slower tempos). After listening to All That to the Wall quite a number of times, I found that a lot of the same elements and tempos exist on both full lengths, but they are played differently. Do you think there is a dramatic change between your previous albums and All That to the Wall? With age comes grace. Kevin, our new drummer, thinks it sounds a lot different, but agrees with your sentiment that it's make-up is not as different as some might lead you to believe. Less aggression, more energy. Less hangin' by the bar, more boogie. I don't really think the change is all that dramatic. I just think it's better, which makes sense. The more songs you write, the longer you stay a band and make albums, the better they get (unless you're Metallica - ed. Sam disagrees based only on his "Saint Anger" tattoo). We trimmed the fat. I find myself liking bands from the Chicago area than any other area in the U.S. Why do you think there are so many talented and diverse bands from Chicago? I feel like Chicago is the musical hub of the midwest in a lot of ways. We're a Chicago band and none of us are from here originally. A lot of the Chicago bands you really like are probably made up at least in part of folks from St. Louis, Detroit, Louisville, Iowa City, New York, etc. It's great, though. It brings a lot of these different styles and ideas together. I think life for a band in Chicago is also generally more accepting and low-key. There's less politicking and "biz" in our world than if we were in NY or LA or something, but we get to have the diversity of the scene and general midwestern friendliness and a little bit cheaper lifestyle surrounding us to support our dream. We probably would've broken up a long time ago if we lived somewhere more dogeat-dog. Snoop dog-eat-dog. You recently played the Flameshovel Showcase at SXSW. How did it go? How did it compare from when you played SXSW in 2004? It went a lot better than last time. The room was pretty much full when we played, which was really nice, but it was filled with a lot of friends and a few fans raging hard up in the front and then a bunch of industry geezers in the back. I was hoping for a rumble, but it didn't go down. The room was better than last time, the attendance was better, we're a better live band than we were then, all better, better, better. Where there any bands that you actively sought out to see while there? Oxford Collapse. I saw The Mae Shi and Bill Callahan, who were both amazing, but that's about it. We took the cash instead of the wristbands because our van, The Puppy, is a real sinkhole and we needed to feed its urges. We thought we might see some bands at the late-night parties, but they almost all got shut down before we could get there and let loose. What do you think of SXSW as a whole? It's a pretty enormous cluster-fuck and it gets more and more business-y as every year goes by. We know it's important to play it, but we're not really sure why, and I feel like most bands don't even really enjoy it anymore just because it is so overwhelming. I'm also pretty certain that no one really discovers anything down there anymore other than just how many Shiner Bocks you can consume before total black-out. We still had a good time, though, although I'm not sure how. Are you planning to tour this summer in support of All That to the Wall? Do you plan to play both coasts? Yep. Can't wait. Full US tour begins May 31st in Omaha. We'll head west first, then east. We're coming to your town. To quote Willie D of the Geto Boys, "DON'T SAY I DIDN'T WARN YA."
s e s Nur
man p a h C aron ts: Sean Desmond a h t i ew w McHank // Portrai i v r e t id in os: Dav e Phot Liv
How did the deal with you and Sargent House come about? Some friends of ours played our record for Cathy at Sargent House and reportedly upon first listen her head made a cash register sound and big gold dollar signs flashed in her eyes. She called us up and we had a real live business meeting. We really liked her vision for both Sargent House and our group so we spat in our hands and made it official. We're now 'going steady'.
From the vocals to the instrumentation on Hangin' Nothin' But Our Hands Down, the sound is very original. Was there anything that helped influence that sound? Most importantly, I think our sound is a result of not identifying with any sort of geographical music scene or movement. We don't really have any roots or belong to any group of bands, so we sort of willy-nilly wrote a bunch of the best songs we could muster. As far as musical influences - we were transitioning out of noisy, wacky rock into melodically centered songs and pop songs. I think our record sort of falls somewhere between the two. We also really got into "Negro Spirituals" for a while there. Is there a better name for that? I've always felt uncomfortable saying Negro Spirituals, but that's what they're called on the introweb. Since your sound is so unique, have most people been receptive of it or turned off by it? Sometimes people seem a little confused by us. Trying to figure out what we're all about. People tend to fold their arms and cock their heads a little upon first listen. But once they hear that slide whistle.... I tell ya what, they're like putty in our hands. Nobody can deny the power of a slide whistle. I'll tell you who's pretty receptive - old sound guys at dives always get real excited and compare us to Zappa. They love us. Is the song writing a group effort, or does one member write most of the music? Well, our leader Aaron usually brings the basic structure 'n' melodies to the table and then we all figure out the best way to translate the ideas into a group number.
How does the album translate into a live show? A lot of times we play the record front to back live. I think we really hum-ding it live, it definitely has more energy and a certain something the record doesn't have. Although we go the extra mile to recreate the record live, itâ€™s definitely a different idea. We have a lot of gizmos on stage and there's a certain spectacle the show achieves that I think compliments the manic nature of the record pretty well. The amount of stuff on stage alone is a pretty big character in the show.
Performing live is something the band is passionate about. Do you think albums should be written with the live show in mind? In our case it works out a lot better to just write whatever we think is best and worry about how to pull it off live later. We ended up with a show and record we couldn't have dreamed of otherwise. We literally spent five months alone in our garage learning how to play the songs and performing them to a collage of fifty celebrity faces cut out from magazines. We didn't even own a piano or Rhodes when we wrote the record; we just borrowed instruments and figured we'd learn later. John had never played piano before we wrote the record and by necessity had to learn to play half the piano parts on the record. We definitely ended up challenging ourselves to no end and really improved drastically as musicians by forcing ourselves to perform something we weren't capable of playing well before we recorded the songs. The lyric sheet that comes with the CD has very small text on it, but it comes with a magnifying glass to read it with. What's the explanation behind this? Are the magnifying glasses powerful enough to burn things with the by refracting the sun's light onto an object? Is there anything that you would suggest burning? The magnifying glass was a novel idea to make the packaging more interesting. When I was younger and still bought albums and CDs, the best part was the first day where you just listen to the record over and over and stare at the packaging. Itâ€™s such an awesome feeling to enjoy the packaging and let it become a sort of visual accompaniment to the record. I haven't seen very many interesting record covers or packaging ideas that get me juiced lately and that's a bummer. It was really important for us to have something that we thought represented the record and was fun and interesting. We did the artwork and came up with the packaging ideas which was much more rewarding to us than sending the music off to a guy we don't know and having an impersonal visual for our record. And yes the magnifying glasses are powerful enough to burn things so use them to burn a copy of our CD and give it to your friend! Is Nurses a full time job for you? What do you do to make ends meet? Our group is a full time albeit non-paying job. We spend all of our time doing it- but to put food in our cupboards and roofs on our heads we serve people soups, salads, coffees, and breads! If you type "Nurses" into Google, you get over 54 million results. Was the intention of naming the band "Nurses" to make your band hard to find on the internet? ....that was just tragic lack of foresight....
You've got over 80,000 page views and over 9,000 plays of "Wait for a Safe Sign" on your MySpace page. Do you think that those numbers have any impact on what record sales Hangin' Nothin' But Our Hands Down will be? Itâ€™s hard to say how many people care about owning records. At the same time MySpace is a great vehicle for selling records - I think it's where some people go to listen to music and are satisfied with streaming four songs. I don't mean to be pessimistic, but I'm not sure plays or views on MySpace equal sales, I think people need to see a live show or something to persuade them to fork over cash. There's almost no incentive to purchase a record any-mo. What do you think are the positives and negatives for a band like yours on MySpace? Myspace for the most part is a positive thing for most bands. It's a really effortless introduction to people for groups like ours who are small and can't afford to tour all the time. However, I think MySpace is just that - an introduction. Our record is definitely intended as a whole, so people who only listen to the four songs on our MySpace aren't really getting the gist. Also we haven't yet mastered the ultra flattering angled camera shots, so we're sort of underdogs for now.
What are your plans for touring in support of Hangin' Nothin' But Our Hands Down? Are there any particular bands that you want to tour with? Ahhhh man, I thought you'd never ask. We're really hoping to just plain tour our nuzz off. We have a wish list on our fridge of bands we want to tour with. We're sort of aiming high. I'm going to list them here, in no particular order: The Flaming lips, Animal Collective, Gary Wilson, Beck, The Arcade fire, Modest Moose, White Stripes, Liars, Pinback, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Spoon, Radiohead (of course), David Byrne, Blonde Redhead, Tv on the (college) Radio, Bloc Party, Grizzly Bear etc. You get the idea. *If you're reading this and you're in one of these bands, take us on tour! Call this number 208-680-4844. That's our bandâ€™s mobile phone number*
er w o p e y th n e d n ca y d o b o n stle i h w e id of a sl
weets is Dead
Baby Teeth Interview
Interview with Peter Andreadis Live Photo: Kirstie Shanley Pearly Sweets abandoned his moniker for The Simp and recorded this album under his given name, Abraham Levitan. Was there any reason behind this? Will the Pearly Sweets name be making a comeback in future recordings? The Pearly Sweets moniker was created in college and used initially for a band called Pearly Sweets and the Platonics. It continued into Baby Teeth, but we all thought that Abraham's lyrics were becoming more personal and the song writing stronger, so we decided that it should be dropped. I don't think Pearly Sweets will be coming back later. He is dead. Each member of Baby Teeth also plays with another band; Bobby Conn, Detholz!, and All City Affairs. Where do you find time to play in all these other bands and still do Baby Teeth? Well, for me All City Affairs is something that I do almost entirely on my own, so I can do it in between a lot of other things. Sometimes I work really late at night or early in the morning. I freelance, so I have control over a lot of my work schedule. Jim (bass) has the most difficult schedule to juggle probably, because of Detholz! and playing bass with Bobby Conn. Abraham is not really playing with Bobby anymore.
Were the brass and stringed instruments on The Simp samples or actual live musicians? Do you use samples of the brass and stringed instruments on tour or do live musicians play those parts? The brass and strings are definitely live musicians. We've got a lot of friends in the Chicago music community and just reached out to people that we liked and who were interested in being a part of the recording. Andra Kulans is the violin/viola player that tracked on a number of the tunes and she plays in The 1900's. Also Tomeka Reid recorded cello on the title track. The horns were played by Nick Broste, who also plays in Cursive from time to time and Dave McDonnell, aka The Diminisher played the saxophone/clarinet. How was it recording with Blue Hawaii? He's an old, good friend of mine. We went to recording school together and I've trusted him to engineer just about anything I've done. We loved the first record from his band Icy Demons that he recorded and we wanted him to put his creative spin on our album. He's got a lot of patience when it comes to spending time and creating sounds that fill out the sonic space. He helped out with all of the texturing. As heard on the For the Heathers EP, each member of the band has pretty diverse musical tastes. What bands or songwriters help influence Baby Teeth's sound? What bands did you listen to growing up? The song writing is definitely influenced by a lot of 60's and 70's rhythm and blues artists, girl groups from the Motown era of soul, and seventies icons like Elvis Costello, Fleetwood Mac, Bowie, etc. Jim has a lot of eclectic tastes and is a composition and conducting major, so he brings a lot of music theory and arranging strategy to the band. I like a lot of hip-hop and grew up listening to De La Soul and Public Enemy as much as the Beatles and other pop/rock music. So the combination of all those things is a real cornucopia of different interests. How does song writing work in Baby Teeth? Are the violins and horns part of the initial song writing process or are they added in at the end after the guitars and drums parts are written? Abraham makes demos of most of the songs and gives Jim and I burned CDs to listen to and we choose our favorites. From that point it's pretty much fair game. We often mutate those original
demos into something completely different, but usually the melody and lyrics remain intact. The bass/drum parts and the background vocals all get added in the collaboration stage. Violins and horns are usually arranged later by Jim or Abraham. How did each member of the band become such a multi-instrumentalist? Everyone in the band is a bit of a control freak, so I think we want to be in the driver's seat all the time. I think it comes from that. None of us want to be left on the sidelines holding the water jug. I've noticed that such a wide variety of genres come out of Chicago, why do you think that is? What are some Chicago bands that you enjoy and think everyone should check out? Chicago is a huge musical community. Blues and Jazz have a real strong history here. And there are some obvious rock stars that have come out of here too, like Cheap Trick, Smashing Pumpkins, Kanye West, Common. The city is huge and is really the major city of the midwest, so I think many different kinds of people end up here and that's reflected in the music. We are fans of Chicago bands, such as Icy Demons, The 1900's, Devin Davis, The Changes, The M's, Mucca Pazza. I can see some people saying that you don't take your selves seriously as Baby Teeth because it looks like your having too much fun with this band. Is Baby Teeth a serious outlet for you? It's a serious band and we don't take the music lightly. I think that you can hear how much time we put into it. We as people don't take ourselves too seriously and we have a blast together. When we play shows, we expect people to walk out saying they had an amazing time. We hope people dance and cheer when they see us. I think some journalists are just lazy and they hear about what some of our influences are and they think, "these guys canâ€™t be serious." So they start there instead of listening closer, reading the lyrics, coming to the shows, etc. Are you planning to tour this summer or fall in support of The Simp. We are going to the east coast in the summer and continuing to do shows throughout the midwest. In the fall we hope to continue touring colleges and hopefully going out with bands we like.
The Ants Ideabreaker I was excited when the first song popped on. The vocalist had a Davey Von Bohlen / Bob Nanna feel along with the music and I thought I had this album pegged. But from there the album gets more classic rock, bluegrass, country and vaudevillian. It’s a good release but tends to be all over the place, which can be distracting. (Sickroom Records) Barr Summary Brendan Fowler’s second full length offering as Barr has Fowler teamed up with a full band and a bit more upbeat sound on at least on one song. The “Song is the Single” track is just that. It is the first single off Summary and it doesn’t seem to have any chorus and few repeated words. The bassline and drums have a fun and charming feel and will keep your feet tapping. The rest of the songs are slower mostly piano driven diary submissions or confrontations that keeps the art/abstractness of Beyond Reinforced Jewel Case. (Kill Rock Stars) Battles Mirrored Featuring ex-members of Don Caballero and Helmet, Battles is an aptly titled band name because your brain will be battling itself trying to figure out what is going on. It is mathy as hell, and features an influence of a wide variety of odd genres and odder vocal deliveries. (Warp Records) Big D and The Kids Table Strictly Rude I was somewhat disappointed with “Strictly Rude” because Big D is starting to drop their ska/punk sound for a more grown up dub/two tone sound. I’m not saying that this is a bad album; it’s just not what I was expecting. Most of the songs are really good and should keep the rudies happy. (Side One Dummy)
The Brokedowns New Brains For Everyone Loud, fast, and gruff throaty vocals make for a well-done punk album. All of the songs are under 3 minutes with the exception of the closing track “Coke Mule Blues” which comes in at just over 7 minutes. (Thick Records)
Chase Pagan Oh Musica! Chase Pagan has a voice like the lead singer from Saves the Day or Kiss Kiss, vocal ambitions like Thom Yorke and channels a little Freddie Mercury on a few tracks. There are a few gems on Oh Musica! such as “Waltzing in the Sky” and “Push My Buttons”. (The Militia Group) The Comas Spells It’s hard to outdo your previous album that was loved and lauded by critics and fans alike, but The Comas sure do make one hell of attempt with Spells. Spells starts off with fuzzy guitars and splashing drums on “Red Microphones” and each song following is up to par with the ones on Conductor. (Vagrant) The Conformists Three Hundred Recorded by Steve Albini, The Conformists return with Three Hundred which is hard to peg to a certain genre or influence. One thing is for certain though, each song will intrigue you, and you will be a better music fan for listening to it. (54º40' or Fight!)
Dr. Dog We All Belong I never really liked modern bands who play 60’s influenced pop reminiscent of the Beatles. I’m on the fence about Dr. Dog, because We All Belong has a few good songs, but it’s all been done before by other bands for years and will continue to be done for years to come. (Park the Van)
Everybody Else S/T Everybody Else plays catchy innocent pop rock that sounds made for radio. Sure it’s infectious and your tougher friends my punch you for making them listen to it. It would make a good soundtrack to one of the teen high school movies starring Hilary Duff. (The Militia Group) Fall of Troy Manipulator Fall of Troy has good intentions. They went and wrote all this really good metal music and went and ruined it with the vocals. The growling vocals are actually okay; it’s the high pitched vocals that ruin the album. (Equal Vision) Field Music Tones of Town Field Music is similar to the Shins, except the guys in Field Music are from England and their lyrics are more direct. Tones of Town is a great follow-up to their last selftitled album. Each song has its own element that makes it stand out from the rest of the songs, while still remaining catchy and infectious. (Memphis Industries) Gena Rowlands Band Flesh and Spirits Gena Rowlands Band sounds sort of like The Dismemberment Plan but more mellow. The opener “Fuckups of the World Unite” is probably the stand out track and “Hope, For Want Of A Greater Word” is a close second. (Lujo Records)
Glos Harmonium Featuring brother and sister Maura Davis (Denali, Ambulette) and Keeley Davis (Engine Down, Sparta) and Cornbread Compton (Engine Down) Harmonium is
an impressive debut that got their start much like The Postal Service and Heavens. What started out as file transfers between Keeley Davis and Compton during an Engine Down tour, Glos turned into a full length with the vocals of Maura Davis. (Lovitt) Guff Symphony of Voices You’ll find that Athens, GA Guff has similarities in sound with Bad Religion, Nofx and Blink 182 on they’re latest album Symphony of Voices. With 10 years of experience behind this album and a cover of an unreleased Journey song “I Can See it in Your Eyes”, complete with Journey’s lead singer Steve Perry on vocals, Guff might start getting the recognition that they deserve. (Go Kart Records) Holy Roman Empire The Longue Duree Holy Roman Empire’s long awaited full length, The Longue Duree picks up where their previous EP left off. Each song is lead by Emily Schambra’s strong beautiful voice and the guitars and drums don’t disappoint. It seems though that the album rests on Schambra’s vocals alone and some of the album comes off as “Sparta with female vocals”. With their Lost in Landscapes EP, it felt like they were experimenting a little with their sound to work with the vocals, but on The Longue Duree it feels like they didn’t explore enough with the instrumentation. It’s worth picking up, because this band is on everyone’s radar this year, and you want to get in before everyone else does. Let’s just hope that this band doesn't go through the No Doubt syndrome, where everyone focuses on the lead female singer and forgets about the talent behind the sound. (HeWhoCorrupts) Hot Rod Circuit The Underground is a Dying Breed Hot Rod Circuit’s latest since their 2004 Reality’s Coming Through shows the band maturing and experimenting with new instruments. The most immediate change you will hear is the prominence of the steel guitar in the album’s opener “Stateside” and in “U.S. Royalty”. They use it well on both tracks, but restrain themselves from using it too much throughout the songs. HRC goes a little country western with their bonus track, “Camo” at the end of the
disc. “Camo” has the steel guitar and drums played with brushes instead of sticks. It’s a nice song and may be the predecessor of what a lot of punk singers are doing today, releasing country albums. (Immortal Records)
Hot Rod Circuit
The John Francis On the Moments We Share The John Francis is the solo project of San Francisco singer/songwriter Jack Francis and this is the first release from Rerum Novarum Records. The John Francis has a similar sound to The Jim Yoshii Pile Up and The End of the World mixed with the vocals and lyrical wordsmanship of Cat Stevens. (Rerum Novarum) Lovedrug Everything Starts Where It Ends This album starts off with a similar guitar part from the latest Lola Ray album, if you’ve heard it you’ll know. Everything Starts Where It Ends takes musical cues from bands like Coldplay, Radiohead, and Muse but maintain some originality. Most of the songs are kind of quiet and slow then explode in the chorus into a rock anthem or are slow piano ballads. (The Militia Group)
MXPX Secret Weapon Before listening to Secret Weapon I was hoping that, with their triumphant return to Tooth and Nail, Secret Weapon would be their comeback album in which they would show all the naysayers who had written them off as has-beens, that they
can still write good songs. I was hoping for an album that was in the same league as Teenage Politics and Life in General, but sadly Secret Weapon joins its brothers The Ever Passing Moment and Before and Everything After in the “losing more fans” bin. In fact, their previous full length Panic is better than this. Secret Weapon is not a total waste. There a couple good songs hear and there, but for the most part, they missed a chance to regain fans of their early releases with a snoozer of an album. (Tooth and Nail) The Narrator All That To The Wall The Narrator’s stunning debut full length Such Triumph was enough to make me a fan for life. Everything that made Such Triumph great is on All That To The Wall, though it might take a couple of listens to fully appreciate this album. Don’t let the Bob Dylan cover of “All the Tired Horses” fool you into thinking that they have slowed down their sound, it’s still pretty quick and angular but it’s played differently and better. (Flameshovel) The Narrator
The National Boxer I’ve had The National’s Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers and the Cherry Tree EP for years now and I never listen to them. I wrote about the Cherry Tree EP a few years ago, and I said that I’d probably like this album in a few years, but at the time I didn’t. I still don’t know if I would like it because I haven’t listened to it. I’ve listened to “Boxer” 3 or 4 times now, which is more than I listened to their previous albums combined, so that says something about the band. One, they can continue writing good music with each release. Two, they can try new things, “Boxer” is a lot more upbeat than anything I’ve heard of their’s before. Three, it takes a while for one’s musical tastes to catch up to a bands sound. (Beggers Group)
New Atlantic The Streets, The Sounds and The Love The Streets, The Sounds and The Love is an album for all those emo kids that have grown up a bit and gotten laid. It’s a highly polished album and it has a nice sound similar to Copeland and other bands on The Militia Group label. It sort of reminds me of Push to Talk without the new wave feel. (Eyeball Records) Nurses Hangin' Nothin' But Our Hands Down Once in a while a band comes along that is so far out in left field that it leaves you either floored or in disgust upon listening to it. Nurses is one of those bands. It may be hard for some people to get into it because none of it is expected, it’s all a surprise and it’s different. They blend so many genres together, with different vocal deliveries. Hangin' Nothin' But Our Hands Down is a rousing, rocking, weirdly awesome debut. (Sargent House) Page France ...and the Family Telephone With a voice similar to Daniel Johnston and song writing skills like Ben Gibbard, Michael Nau and his band, Page France, are back with their second release on Suicide Squeeze Records . They get an “A” for effort but can’t quite pull of the charm and goodness of their previous album Hello, Dear Wind. ...and the Family Telephone has its moments, but it falls short when it comes to matching Hello, Dear Wind’s simple songs and instrumentation. (Suicide Squeeze)
Pagoda S/T I was surprised as you were when I listened to this and found out that Nirvana got back together with Kurt being dead and all. But
then I found out that this wasn’t Nirvana, but it was actually actor Michael Pitt’s (Dawson’s Creek, Murder by Numbers) band. This eponymous full length is a mixture of Cobain like vocals and Sonic Youth like jams. It was even released on Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace record label. (Ecstatic Peace) Rob Crow Living Well Pinback’s Rob Crow’s solo album is essentially a Pinback album. Both have relatively the same song structure and sound. When I first listened to this album, I noticed that the songs were kind of short and it felt like the songs were never completed. It’s like Rob wrote 3/4s of a song and then fades it out. It’s a pretty good album though. It’s no Pinback album, but it’s close enough. (Temporary Residence) Seven Storey Mountain At The Poles If you’re a fan of early Foo Fighters or Jawbox then Phoenix, Arizona’s Seven Storey Mountain is for you. It sounds nearly identical to Foo Fighters just faster, more angular and more punk. It took me a while to listen to this album, and now I’m kicking myself for not discovering it sooner. (Thick Records) Six Parts Seven Casually Smashed to Pieces Kent, Ohio’s Six Parts Seven are back with their 5th release and most focused. Gone are the days of albums with epic 8 minute plus songs in exchange for 5, 6, and 7 minute ones, and a few songs under 3 minutes. One thing you’ll notice is the trumpets and clarinets, which are played beautifully throughout the album. Casually Smashed to Pieces is another excellent album to add to your instrumental collection. (Suicide Squeeze) Smoke or Fire This Sinking Ship I got into this band after hearing one of their songs on a Fat Wreck compilation. I must have listened to that song 10 times in a row. This Sinking Ship is an album full of those kinds of songs. The ones were you can listen to over and over and still feel good about them. (Fat Wreck)
Spoon Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga I really enjoyed Spoon’s Kill the Moonlight, and was bummed on Gimme Fiction, so I was a little weary going in to Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. After first listen I was pleasantly pleased that Britt is done singing like a girl and each song is way better than the ones on Gimme Fiction. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is sure to win the band more fans, which is good, because the deserve it. (Merge Records)
Stemage Strati Stemage is Grant Henry’s solo project in which he releases songs derived from the classic Nintendo game Metroid Metal. He apparently recorded all the instruments on Strati with just one microphone. I couldn’t figure out why that was a selling point when the album isn’t that good to begin with. It’s just him, so why would he need any more mics. It would be more impressive if he recorded it through a soup can with a string attached to it. As for the music, it sounds like a bad impersonation of Cave In. (Silent Uproar Records) Sundowner Four One Five Two Sundowner is the solo project of The Lawrence Arms’ Chris McCaughan and it is everything as good as The Lawrence Arms, just acoustic. 10 of the songs are original and 2 are reworked acoustic versions of TLA’s “My Boatless Booze Cruise” and “One Hundred Resolutions”. Each song is good and Jenny Choi’s backing vocals on a couple of the songs are beautiful. Four One Five Two is the perfect album for the aging punker and fans of The Lawrence Arms who are looking for something a bit more mellow. (Red Scare)
Tim Kinsella Field Recordings of Dreams Tim Kinsella is in a place in his career where he can record anything he wants, no matter how abstract or obtuse. Everyone has gotten accustomed to Tim’s creativity and eagerly wait to see what he does next. It’s always a surprise when it comes to Tim’s recordings. Field Recordings of Dreams is no different. Thirteen of the songs are instrumental, while 3 of the songs, including the 36 minute closer, are simply a narrative story revolving around a boy’s baseball game with only Tim’s voice. You may think that listening to Tim speak for 36 minutes would be boring, but his voice is earnest and compelling while telling the story. The narrative acts as a perfect compliment to the instrumental music. I can only wonder what he will do next. (I Had an Accident Records) The Toasters One More Bullet The Toasters have been playing ska for well over 20 years and haven’t missed a beat yet. One More Bullet falls into some of those ska cliches like; undefineable madeup words (what the hell is a “Gwan”), overly repeated lines and a cover songs (“Bits and Pieces” by the Dave Clark Five and “When Will I Be Loved” by The Everlys). The album is quite good though despite those factors. The Toasters know how to make a good ska album and they’ve done it again with One More Bullet. (Stomp Records) Tyler Read Only Rock And Roll Can Save Us Now There is no one in the band named Tyler Read, strange I know. Only Rock and Roll Can Save Us Now reminds me of when rock was kind of sleazy and had big hair, but the album maintains a modern feel with Queen influences a plenty. (Immortal Records) Voxtrot S/T This band is on the verge of getting huge and with their new full length, you’ll soon be hearing this band on radio stations and as background music for shows on the WB. This self-titled album is good start to finish and will mostly likely be on many critics top albums of 2007 list. (Beggers Group/Play Louder)
Cover: Pg 4-5: Pg 24-25: Pg 27-28: Pg 30-31: Pg 32-33:
Chris Strong www.chrisstrong.com David McHank www.myspace.com/mchank Ryan Russell www.ryanrussell.net Oly // www.oly.cc Sean Desmond www.loveyourtelevision.com Live photo: David McHank Portraits: Sean Desmond Live photos: David McHank Portraits: Sean Desmond Miriam Doan www.miriamdoan.com Kirstie Shanley www.flickr.com/photos/kirstiecat/ Ryan Collerd (Dr. Dog) www.ryancollerd.com Unknown/Promo Photo (Glos) Unknown/Promo Photo (HRC) Ryan Russell (The Narrator) Unknown/Promo Photo (Page France) Autumn De Wilde (Spoon) www.autumndewilde.com
Ads: Modern-Radio // www.modern-radio.com Lujo Records // www.lujorecords.com Lovitt Records // www.lovitt.com Flameshovel Records // www.flameshovel.com Sargent House // www.refused.tv/ Sickroom Records // www.sickroomrecords.com Copper Press // www.copperpress.com 54°40’ or Fight! //www.fiftyfourfortyorfight.com SaddleCreek Records // www.saddle-creek.com
Labels: Sickroom Records // www.sickroomrecords.com Kill Rock Stars // www.killrockstars.com Pg 36-37: Warp Records // www.warprecords.com Side One Dummy // www.sideonedummy.com Pg 38: Thick Records // www.thickrecords.com The Militia Group // www.themilitiagroup.com Pg 40: Vagrant // www.vagrant.com 54°40’ or Fight! //www.fiftyfourfortyorfight.com Pg 41: Park the Van // www.parkthevan.com Pg 42: Equal Vision // www.equalvision.com Memphis Industries // Pg 43: www.memphis-industries.com Lujo Records // www.lujorecords.com Pg 44: Lovitt Records // www.lovitt.com HeWhoCorrupts // www.hewhocorruptsinc.com Immortal Records // www.immortalrecords.com Rerum Novarum // www.rnrecords.com Flameshovel Records // www.flameshovel.com Go Kart Records // www.gokartrecords.com Bands: Tooth and Nail // www.toothandnail.com The Narrator // www.thenarrator.net Beggers Group // www.beggars.com Nurses // www.nursesmusic.com Eyeball Records // www.eyeballrecords.com Baby Teeth // www.babyteethmusic.com Sargent House // www.refused.tv Suicide Squeeze // www.suicidesqueeze.net Web: Ecstatic Peace // www.ecstaticpeace.com Schedule Two // www.scheduletwo.com Temporary Residence // www.temporaryresidence.com Zines: Chord Magazine // www.chordmagazine.com Fat Wreck Chords // www.fatwreck.com Merge Records // www.mergerecords.com The Big Takeover // www.bigtakeover.com The New Scheme // www.thenewscheme.com Silent Uproar Records // www.silentuproarrecords.com Venus // www.venuszine.com Red Scare // www.redscare.net Copper Press // www.copperpress.com Wonka Vision // www.wonkavisionmagazine.com I had An Accident // www.ihadanaccidentrecords.com Razorcake // www.razorcake.org Stomp Records // www.stomprecords.com Pg 34-35:
This issue of Manual Dexterity is a real doozie. It's got interviews with Nurses, The Narrator and Baby Teeth plus an article with MPLS show...