the karaoke miscreant by cassandra baim
I hear my name announced across the crowded bar. I take one last sip of my drink, make a face at my date for the night, and trot up to the stage. I grab the microphone from Anthony, who can only be described as an adorable old man closely resembling a sack of potatoes. In a moment of stage fright, I briefly forget what I’m about to do, but then “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison starts playing. I take a deep breath, remember to actually sing into the microphone, and make sure that everyone at the bar can hear me. I’ve been singing karaoke every Tuesday night since I moved Brooklyn. Granted, I’ve only been here for four weeks, but in all the chaos of getting settled, going to work, writing all day, and staying out all night, karaoke at The Woods is the one date I’ve kept. My companion for the week is the same, Miss Miscreant herself, but we have a revolving door of other, sometimes less willing, friends who start off rather intrigued by the concept but back down quickly when they realize exactly what they signed up for. I don’t even know how I got here in the first place. I have crippling stage fright, to the degree where even giving a presentation in front of a classroom causes me to have trouble breathing. The mere thought of singing in public always made me lightheaded. But I moved to this city on a wing and a prayer and I needed something to do my first night here. I let the Miscreant talk me into joining her for karaoke, giving her the empty promise that I would sing too. A few drinks later, that promise wasn’t so empty anymore, and suddenly I’m on that stage screaming Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.” I have fond memories of doing the same thing with the Miscreant in my old kitchen in Syracuse, surrounded by our friends who were equal parts impressed and horrified at our genuine and visceral (and very, very loud) performance. I rationalized to myself as I stumbled up to that stage, “if I can do that, this should be a piece of cake.” Every week I choose two songs from my personal playlist “The Most Meaningful Songs in My World.” Sometimes I take from the “Too Close to Home” section, like the night I belted “Dancing On My Own” to a crowd full of hipsters who had no idea of my long history with Robyn’s words. Last week I pulled from the “Nostalgia” section, and messed up the words to Nine Days’ “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)” while remembering driving around in Utica shouting this song at the top of my lungs. After a particularly emotional phone conversation with my parents, I sang R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” as a tribute to the two people who taught me more about music than anyone else. I sang Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” two nights ago because I was feeling flirty. I like to think that I killed it. My biggest fear and apprehension about moving here was not fitting in. I was worried I wouldn’t find my place here, that someone could just look at me and see “OUTSIDER” written across my forehead, that I would prove those naysayers correct and fail at everything I wanted to do and crawl back to Chicago with my tail between my legs. After that first night of singing, I knew that was less likely to happen. After each subsequent week of “performing,” I feel more and more like I’m finding a place for myself here.
I constantly crave human interaction. Not in the “let me impress you so you will love me!” kind of way, but in the Craigslist Missed Connection kind of way—forging a connection with a stranger over a shared experience. I moved to New York understanding I would get a lot less of that here than I did in Chicago, or even Syracuse. This city is known for its supposed rudeness, everyone here is in far too much of a hurry to return your smiles and “Hello, how are you?”s as you make accidental eye contact on the subway. I don’t see that rudeness and coldness on Tuesday nights though. Instead I see a room full of people who are all there for the same reason, who will cheer for each seasoned karaoke singer and each nervous first timer with the same enthusiasm and support. I’ve made a number of new friends each week. After my breathless performance of “Rhiannon,” a lovely woman named Megan bought me a drink and told me my lack of singing ability but commitment to the song was inspiring. I saw her there last night, but I don’t think she recognized me. Two weeks ago, I had the unique opportunity to meet one of my idols. Rolling Stone writer Rob Sheffield wrote another book, “Turn Around Bright Eyes.” He did a Q&A and signing at The Strand, where I told him that after I read “Love is a Mixtape” (and subsequently cried for twelve hours), I realized how much I loved reading and writing about music. I went home that night and immediately started his new book, where he talks about using karaoke to heal after the death of his wife, and eventually fall in love again. Much like myself, he moved to New York to start over, and experienced the crippling loneliness that comes with being the new kid in town. Rob Sheffield has a way of writing that sounds like he’s in my head, putting on the page all of my disjointed feelings in a tangible and coherent way. I’m grateful for his words. I feel even less alone now. I’m not a singer by any means. My meager voice training from my days as a high school drama kid have taught me that I can barely hold a tune, and all of that goes out the window when I have to sing in front of an audience. That room full of hipsters every Tuesday night could not care less that I don’t have the vocal prowess of Adele. All they care about is whether I have a blast and now that’s all I care about too. I’m slowly turning into a true New Yorker. I scowl a lot, I complain about the L train, and I’m learning all the best roads for biking. I still get lost about four times a week, either missing a turn or walking straight past my destination or even confusing a street for an avenue. But through all that, I’ll never get lost on the way to karaoke.
cassette essentials Vol. 2 by rafael grafals
I’m really happy to be able to share a few more cassette essentials again. Here are a couple of tapes I’ve either been looking forward to or have already been enjoying for a while now. Just like last time, every tape mentioned in this list is available to purchase right now or will be available soon. Nothing’s sold out (yet). Coma Cinema – “White Trash VHS” Posthumous Release Orchid Tapes I’m gonna say this right off the bat. I feel like Posthumous Release is one of the best releases to come out this year. It’s easily Mat’s best work to date. “White Trash VHS”, the album’s opener, hits you with everything that makes this record so fantastic. The production is beautiful, making the instrumentation feel colorful despite the darker (still well written) lyrics. Rachel Levy’s contributions to this record are also worth noting as she provides spectacular vocal harmonies on many of the tracks (“White Trash VHS” included). Somehow these haven’t sold out over at Orchid Tapes yet so definitely consider picking one up.
Gayze – “Ain’t It Brave” Black Soul Bleeding Gold Records At the beginning of the year Gayze dropped Black Soul on Bleeding Gold records, a great label I’ve had a lot of good experiences with. While I was unfamiliar with the name, soon after listening through Black Soul I made sure to remember it. “Ain’t It Brave” showcases the groups use of fuzzy, distorted guitars and distant, slightly muffled vocals to churn out some great garage rock tunes. They have an ear for writing catchy melodies and those are found all over the Black Soul EP. Mormon Toasterhead – “places I wish I were” summer Rok Lok Records (For Sale Soon) I’ve been going nuts for summer ever since I first heard it and I haven’t been able to stop talking about it since. “places I wish I were,” like many of the other tracks on summer, is short, simple and sincere. It’s a pretty stripped down song. We’re greeted by the simple combination of an acoustic guitar and multiple vocal layers that are used for some absolutely gorgeous harmonies. That simplicity comes to play even in the lyricism. “places I wish I were” doesn’t offer too many words but the few words it does offer (“And I want to be on that hill with you / I want it more than anything / but I can’t”) are extremely important. I was discussing this album with a friend of mine and we both mentioned how it felt so perfect for a cassette release, as if it were recorded with that format in mind. I’m glad to see Rok Lok Records come through with that. Sima Kim – “faded photographs – 2” faded Unknown Tone Records I’ve been following Sima Kim’s work for a good while now and haven’t been disappointed with anything he’s put out. faded is a collection of shorter ambient works (and one 8 minute piece to close it out) that seem to focus more on texture and emotion than intricate song structures. “faded photographs – 2” highlights what I love most in Kim’s music. It’s very minimal in its build, featuring ambient synthesizers and sustained piano that do almost all of the work on the track. The result is gorgeous as Kim show’s that he can make the most out of very little. On top of that, the packaging for this cassette is beautiful and every tape comes with a mini photo pretty enough to match the recordings. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – “Young Presidents” Fly By Wire Polyvinyl (Preorder) While I can’t comment on Fly By Wire as it hasn’t been released yet, I can say that the singles released from it so far definitely indicate that it’s an album worth preordering. On “Young Presidents” SSLYBY show that they still have a knack for writing super enjoyable, catchy pop tunes. Pretty much everything about this track is infectious, ranging from the melodies to its lyrics. Until Fly By Wire is released, I recommend you familiarize yourself with SSLYBY if you haven’t yet. Fly By Wire comes out September 17th though if you preorder the album it becomes available on the 6th.
This issue is brought to you by the annual crawfish boil.
Single of the
Week This issue’s single comes from ON AN ON’s debut release, Give In. “Every Song” is the second track on the album. It gets you swooning with a beautifully romantic opening line; it’s certainly the love song on the record. Probably why I love it. 6
ONANON an interview by the miscreant
For the better part of a decade, Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci, and Ryne Estwing have been making music together. Projects before, including the critically acclaimed Scattered Trees, have taught these musicians how they want to be a band. With a newfound spirit and a highly collaborative writing process, they formed ON AN ON.
Theyâ€™ve traveled the world together, now, in support of their debut album, Give In. The record shows the dynamic way in which the band plays with contrast, layering chiming sleigh bells over heavy guitar distrotions. Having been off the road for much of the summer, ON AN ON is now embarking on a fall tour that will span much of the US. Here, Nate further describes the bandâ€™s writing process, talks upcoming tour destinations, and tells us what lies ahead for the band. THE MISCREANT: You all have known each other for many years now, and been in different bands throughout. How did you all first meet? Nate: Alissa and I grew up together in Minnesota. Ryne and I met because we were both playing music around Chicago when we were 19.
THE MISCREANT: In what ways did your previous project, Scattered Trees, guide your initial decision making for ON AN ON? What experiences did you draw from when starting the new band? Nate: Our time with that band informed a lot of our decisions early on. We cut our teeth in that band since we were teenagers. We had been screwed over by a record label. We went through multiple lineup changes. We made it through a lot together. Those years formed what we knew about band dynamics and the industry in general. ON AN ON got to be a more mature and stable group from day one because of the lessons we learned during that time. We essentially started this band on the basis of what we didn’t want to be. Creative freedom was, and is, paramount to us. We didn’t want to limit ourselves, so we had a small list of what we didn’t want to be and tried our best to leave everything else to instinct. THE MISCREANT: How collaborative would you say is your songwriting process? Is this different from your process in previous projects? Nate: Past projects haven’t been very collaborative when it came to writing the actual songs. ON AN ON’s process though is very collaborative in one way or another. We don’t have one single way of writing. Sometimes someone will bring a complete song that only needs some production or arrangement work. Other times there’s only an early spark of an idea and we play around with it during sound checks. Also, we do a file sharing thing where someone will multi-track an idea in Logic or whatever and send it out to everyone. From there anyone can mute, solo, and track anything else they imagine in the session. Then after everyone’s masturbated all over it by themselves we have 100 ideas that we can explore.
THE MISCREANT: Give In, as well as records released with Scattered Trees, is lyrically autobiographical. What were your inspirations for this record? Nate: The writing isn’t entirely autobiographical, but a lot of it is. Most of the lyrics that I contributed to Give In were either exploring a newfound ambivalence to death or the paradox of how loving someone is an open invitation for heartache. THE MISCREANT: How does the autobiographical content of these songs affect how you perform them live? Nate: There’s a level of value in a live performance where sincerity is apparent. When you’ve gone through something and it’s fresh on you, people can usually connect to it pretty easily. Fiction is an entirely different type of mindset. It takes a great songwriter to make something up that’s truly compelling. As a kid I grew up hearing people write and perform songs about things that they obviously had no real connection to. It hadn’t happened to them, and I kind of hated them for it. That stuck with me. So when I perform live I try to get in the headspace that the song came from. Honestly, it was less than a year ago that I even started getting comfortable performing covers. THE MISCREANT: In what ways do you find yourselves experimenting when playing the songs live? Are there any songs you jam on, or do you try and stick mostly to the structure of how the songs were recorded? Nate: Sometimes we will try different sounds than usual. Most of the songs are pretty much the same live as they are on the album. There are a couple times though where it’s more flexible structure wise and we can vibe out for a while and do something new every night. It keeps us on our toes. THE MISCREANT: You’re about to embark on a national tour, with dates all through September. Are you going anywhere new? Any cities you’re especially excited to go to? Nate: This time of year September is a beautiful month anywhere you go in the States. Every stop on tour has a different vibe and some hidden golden gem that we remember from last time or discover from the locals. Some brand new stops for this tour include Scottsdale, AZ and Provo, UT.
THE MISCREANT: Any hilariously traumatic tour stories? I heard you and your van had a run in with a black bear earlier this summer? Nate: That’s probably the most hilarious thing to have happened recently. And for the record that bear hit us. It literally ran head first into the side of our van as we were driving down the highway. THE MISCREANT: You’ve also toured Europe pretty extensively. How does touring there compare from the US? Any significant differences in what the crowds respond to? Nate: It’s pretty similar except it takes as much time to tour one region of the US as it does to tour all of Western Europe. You can cover a lot of cultural ground there faster than you can here. We have noticed that people over there are more interested in the song American Dream than actual Americans are—which isn’t surprising. THE MISCREANT: Who are your going to be playing with on this tour? Are they bands you’ve played with before? Nate: No. These people are complete strangers to us now—but not for long. Along the way we are gonna meet and play with Hands, The Love Language, Goldroom and The Joy Formidable. THE MISCREANT: You just announced you’ve produced a limited run of cassettes to bring along on tour, in addition to the CD/vinyl release. What made you want to branch further into analog territory? Nate: We’ve always wanted to make tapes.There’s something a b o u t the finality of the cassette that’s unique and not just rooted in nostalgia. When we had some covers that we had been working on and needed a medium to put them out it was a really good fit. THE MISCREANT: You’ve started this year with a wonderfully successful album release, and will be touring through the fall. What is next for ON AN ON after this tour? Nate: We’ve already started work on songs for our next album. That’s going to become the focus for us when we’re not on tour.
Funny Girl: “I’m-In-A-Band Charm” comic by elaine short
see more of funny girl at www.inkteef.tumblr.com! 13
Me and Mariah go back like babies with pacifiers by olivia cellamare
I’m writing this at my desk at work. A place I enjoy. I enjoy the liberal atmosphere, and the fact that me wearing a creased Velvet Underground t-shirt doesn’t offend anyone. I think my lunch is out of date. My self-awareness has gone to shit; I cannot look after myself. I think the hummus is making me hallucinate. I’m writing this at my desk, during my lunch-break. Half hour to tell you about one of the musical based delights that is not just my weakness; but is probably my strength. I’m getting distracted by the office next door’s dog. He’s too cute. My heart breaks when I look at him. So, it is no hidden fact that I am a HUGE fan of Mariah Carey. 90s Mariah Carey if I’m to be exact. I’m going to give you a rundown on the 10 best Mariah songs of the 90s. The songs that made you weep like a baby to the songs that made you feel stronger than Andrea The Giant. LET’S DO THIS.
10. “Vision Of Love” Picture this, an island in 1990. I sound like Sophia from The Golden Girls. I was only 4 years old but I craved music that made me want to move my body in an epileptic manner. I still do. MTV taught me how to appreciate Pop music from a very young age. I saw the video to Vision Of Love and I was silenced because I was in awe. Then I began to move. The same dance moves would come out decades later when I entered a club and threw myself about to The Smiths. 9. “Anytime You Need A Friend” I heard this and genuinely believed Mariah was singing this to me. I still think it was made
for me; Mazza C wants to be my best friend. Her vocal range on this is too much for me to put into words. The video was in black and white, and I think this is what began my obsession with anything and everything that was photographed and filmed this way. I’m not a fan of bright colours; maybe I’ve got an aversion to light. Anytime You Need A Friend is unconditional love at its finest. The Gospel vibe in it is brilliant too. 8. “Honey” THIS IS WHEN MAZZA GOT FINE. I mean, she always was. I was only 11 when this came out, and I was probably still under the impression that I was going to marry Shirley Manson. I still am. Don’t tell my girlfriend. My list is too long. Anyway. Honey is one of my favourites because of how seductive Mariah’s voice. I won’t deny that when I listen to it, I can’t really understand what she’s saying. All I know is that this song made a lot of people see that Mariah was ready to ditch that “innocent” look she had. It was co-written by Q-Tip, I think this may explain my love for the song also. 7. “Heartbreaker” I don’t know which version I like the most. The Jay-Z one or the one with Missy and Da Brat. I’m going for the remix because of my love for Missy. And also, the video is in black and white. Remember when in Hip Hop the DJ would yell over the start of a track? DJ Clue did that on this one. YOU GO DJ CLUE! I loved him; he produced a lot of tracks that remind me of wanting to pursue a catastrophic rap career. I could have guest spotted on a Mariah track. In my head, I probably already have. 6. “The Roof” If a song samples Mobb Deep and it involves Mariah on a rainy roof-top; I’m probably going to enjoy it. I’m still annoyed that this never got the recognition it deserved. What I love about Mariah is
that she’s always had support from the Hip Hop community, and didn’t really have to do anything “wild” to gain this acceptance. She always had this honest and street-wise feel about her that I think just made her accessible by pretty much everyone. Pretty sure her cover of Without You would make the toughest of men have a break-down. 5. “Always Be My Baby” Anytime I go on a swing I pretend I am in this video. However, when I watch this video I always have a bit of a panic because I don’t want Mariah to fall in that lake. I wonder if she did. She lived to tell the tale though. A lot of her early material did have the theme that a lover left her, but she still loved and cared for them. Her delicate voice and vulnerable words just made her easy to relate to. Of course when this song came out I couldn’t relate to it. I just enjoyed the video a lot. CAREFUL MARIAH!! DON’T FALL. 4. “I’ll Be There” I could have picked ANY ballad. I know, I know. I picked this because I love that Trey Lorenz is on it, and he provided back-up vocals on a lot of songs I love from the likes of TLC and early Usher songs. I’ll Be There is a Jackson 5 cover, and the way that Mariah and Trey sing it, well they pretty much made it their own. That’s part of why I love Mariah. She can take someone else’s song and make you believe it is her. I guess in a way, this could be classed as her song. I don’t know. I love the innocence that she and Trey project in this song. It’s truly beautiful. I also picked this because Without You makes me cry and I don’t want to talk about it. 3. “Emotions” When Mariah sings, “YOU GOT ME FEELING EMOTIONS!” I pretty much get excited like a kid at
Christmas. It’s also nice to yell that line at everything/anything in life that makes you feel something you cannot contain. Someone pisses you off? Just yell that line at them in the style of Mariah. Go as high as you want. This song just makes you feel free and happy. Like most of her songs in the 90s. Of course it shows Mariah’s vocal rang off in a beautiful way. This song just makes you want to dance. I now want to dance. Someone help me. 2. “Fantasy” When ODB comes in and gnarls out, “Me and Mariaaaaaah” you cannot help but rap along with him. Remix or no remix, you still unleash his part with all the fury you have. Afterwards you sound like a smoker. Probably during too. The video is brilliant. The song makes you want to be Mariah’s pal (its okay if you think you already are, I am with you!) Fantasy is really fun to make up your own dance routine to…which I still do. Does anyone want to start a Mariah Carey tribute band? 1. “Dreamlover” HANDS DOWN THE BEST MARIAH SONG OF ALL TIME. BEST POP SONG EVER. I WANT TO DANCE NOW. I love this song. With everything I have, I adore this song. I think the lyrics are beautiful, and the video makes me want to go dancing in a field. Mariah’s dog, Jack appears in the video. Is Jack still alive? Jack was a cute pup. This song made my love for Mariah just reach a different level. When I hear it now, my ears prick up like a dog and I stop what I am doing. I cannot help it. I just hope I never hear it when I’m at work. I used to know the dance routine to Dreamlover by heart. I’m a little rusty, but I am willing to re-learn and unleash my moves at any given time. Dreamlover is one of those songs that just makes you so happy, and for the life of you, you cannot explain why. I guess that’s why I adore 90s Mariah. It just makes me happy in a way that I cannot explain.
Q&A WITH CONNECTIONS by ben bondy
This week I had the pleasure of asking Andy Hampel from Connections, my new favorite rock group from Ohio, questions about their local scene, cola, and Fleetwood Mac. Connections features members of the now defunct Times New Viking, and El Jesus De Magico. Here’s what Andy has to say: Ben: I know you just played Pitchfork, how was that? Where did you eat in Chicago while you were there? Andy: The Pitchfork after show thing was good. Good crowd - Merchandise were good. We had some great tacos at Big Star and Cooper from Cave took us to a great Polish sausage joint at 3am. Ben: So, you guys have been in some pretty important Ohio bands, what’s made you want to start a new project? Andy: Kevin & I really didn’t do anything for about 4 or so years after our old band ended. For whatever reason we started hanging out again and worked on new stuff & it was good. We were lucky to get Adam, Phil, & Dave to join up and yeah, so it’s going well.
Ben: The Ohio music scene seems really community based, and seems to have a pretty distinctive sound. What’s the music community like, and do you think there’s a particular sound that’s coming out of your lovely state? Andy: There is definitely an “Ohio” sound. A ton of good bands have come outta here. The best of ‘em just sound authentic. Back from Great Plains & Jim Shepard & Rep & Cheater Slicks & TNV and on and on. There are some really good younger bands going at the moment as well and that is cool. We also have the 21 pilots and whatever they are up to so there’s that I guess also... Ben: You guys have put out a few of 7”s as well as an LP this year, Private Airplane, and I see you are already releasing tracks off of your upcoming release via Anyway Records that sound really rad. What keeps you motivated to write so consistently? Andy: Yeah we’ve been putting out a bunch of stuff. - the new LP will be out the first of October and we will be recording the next one at Musicol the beginning of September. I guess the reason why is we have a bunch of songs and as long as they are good we’ll put them out as fast as possible. Sad loser as it may seem, at the moment really all I like to do is write pop songs and fortunately they keep coming along. Ben: What bands did you guys grow up listening to? What kind of stuff have you been listening to lately? Andy: We all come from a bit different places influence-wise. I grew up loving Billy Joel and John Cougar and that morphed into Dinosaur Jr and Wire & Al B.Sure and then you know Tusk & Cleaners From Venus & Be Bop Deluxe & back to Tom Petty & lately this Leo Kottke record Chewing Pine.. Ben: If you could put together some sort of super show lineup, what bands would you want to play with, defunct, or currently existing? Dream big! Andy: If I could pick any dream lineup it would be us with Dwight Twilley and Mirage era Fleetwood Mac. That would be it, any more than three bands is obnoxious. Ben: If you could have a soda fountain in your house, what kind of sodas would you want to be able to access at all times? This is very permanent, so please choose wisely. Andy: I don’t drink soda so that holds no appeal for me. I have seen Adam with RC Cola a few times so I bet he may like that. Ben: What does the future look like for Connections? Andy: The future for Connections looks bright at the moment. I think our new record will easily sell at least 500 copies maybe 1000. So we’ll just ride that wave til the next one comes out.. Check out http://connectionsband.tumblr.com/ for all Connections news (but only if you like rockin ttunezz)!
coffee girl music by meagan gregg
I work at a local coffee shop. Now that I have become used to putting on a smile for strangers and being generally peppy, the most difficult part of my job is choosing what music people are going to hear when they walk in to the shop. The benefit of working for a local coffee shop is that there aren’t too many rules around what I can play, as long as it’s not overtly profane or abrasive. From personal experience, the music I’m listening to while drinking coffee can seriously affect my mood. If I’m having a bad day, and I’m on my second cup of coffee, a thrashy punk song will lift my spirits in the “nobody can fuck with me” kind of way. On gloomy mornings I tend to lean toward slowcore and sad folk acts. Having those reactions to the mixture of coffee and music makes me particularly conscious of what I play at the shop. When I started my job, I was really fixated on trying to play music that would make my customers happy. Most days I would play albums by folky artists. It’s difficult to go wrong with artists like Fleet Foxes and Tallest Man on Earth, but they get really boring really fast. Then I tried playing mostly big band anthologies, but they didn’t help to lift my mood. While I was playing music that people enjoyed, it was difficult for me to stay energized and willing to deal with human interaction. Then one day all I wanted to hear was “A Summer Wasting.” I put on Belle and Sebastian and realized that indie pop was the perfect coffee shop music. The great thing about most indie pop acts is that they are pretty gentle and easy to listen to, and there are many different bands that fit different moods. On warm sunny days I put on bands like Beat Happening, Tiger Trap, and Quarterbacks. On rainy days, I prefer The Softies or The Pastels. Indie pop puts me in a great mood. I could be having the worst possible day, but the minute I hear Tullycraft’s “Sweet”, it’s like nothing was ever wrong. If I’m in a good mood, then I greet customers with a smile, and can easily brush off comments from people who are jerks. It’s difficult to hate my job when I keep it twee. Belle & Sebastian - “A Summer Wasting” The Softies - “It’s Love” Beat Happening - “Cry For A Shadow” The Aislers Set - “California” The Happy Birthdays - “This Time” The Pastels - “Thru’ Your Heart” Go Sailor - “Bigger Than An Ocean” Tullycraft - “Sweet” Tiger Trap - “Sour Grass” The Sea Urchins - “Summershine”
about the orwells, AN INTERVIEW by quinn donnell
Sitting at my desk at work last Friday, I received a Facebook notification for a just-announced Orwells performance taking place that night. According to the notification, the performance was secret and the only information provided was the 9:00 door time. Because I was at work and uninterested in doing anything I was supposed to be doing, however, a bit of research led me to find the show’s address—a fourth story loft on Chicago’s South Michigan Avenue. Disappointed in myself for missing their Lollapalooza aftershow at the very venue at which I was now being a poor employee, I decided Friday night would be the night to go see the five Chicagoan teenagers that the city’s music scene has been so excited lately. Performing in front of about a tenth of the amount of people lead singer Mario Cuomo took his pants off in front of two weeks earlier at Lollapalooza, the Orwells took advantage of the venue’s intimacy and played a full set of their Zeppelin-meets-Strokes rock ‘n roll amongst FeelTrip’s sweaty, beer-stained, smoke-soaked youth. Before the show, I met Cuomo (who was entirely clothed) as we watched MTV Ghost play the evening’s opening set. After talking with him for a bit, we scheduled an interview for the following
day. Here, Mario and I discuss the Orwells’ upcoming tour with Fidlar, the story behind their latest single, and his appreciation for Chicago’s up-and-coming hip-hop scene. QUINN: So, how exactly did you guys go from recording Remember When in your basement to playing Lollapalooza in two years? MARIO: Well it’s not very interesting. It was pretty much just like getting a manager and a booking agent and all of the necessary components to getting to bigger stages and reaching more people. QUINN: “Mallrats” was even recently in a Myspace commercial. When that was initially offered to you guys, was there any kind of apprehension or hesitation about making that deal, or were you all totally interested in doing that? MARIO: I mean, not all of us were very into the idea. But I was super stoked about it. I loved Myspace back in the day and I for sure wanted to be part of something they were doing. Also it was kind like “no shit, it’s a way to get our music out to more people.” And nowadays, I don’t know, that’s like not negative QUINN: In the last two years, you’ve played everything from basement shows to major festivals, is there a type of show you prefer playing? MARIO: I like different shows for different reasons. I like playing festivals for different reasons that I like playing lofts like Feeltrip. QUINN: You guys are about to tour with Fidlar, how did you guys get hooked up with them? MARIO: We started listening to them when the rest of my band was still in high school and we were like, “hey check out the is sick ass band.” We all thought they were really tight. And when we went to LA, they heard about us through their manager or something and he introduced us to them—they came to see us when we played a house show; we met each other and hit it off right away. Then they saw us play at FYF and I guess they were impressed enough have us come along on the tour. QUINN: You’ve mentioned that this upcoming FYF Festival has one of the best lineups you’ve been a part of. Who are you planning on seeing when you’re there? MARIO: Definitely seeing the Yeah Yeah Yeahs; I’ve been trying to see them for a really long time. I’m stoked as fuck about that. So yeah, it’s just a sick lineup—MGMT is gonna be there. Definitely want to see them. QUINN: It seems like your guys’ live performances are what really sell people on your music. They hear your music, then come to a show and really realize, like, “wow these guys are great.” Do you think that’s true and why do you think that is? MARIO: I just think that when we play live, we’re trying to give them something, trying to give them a live show. A lot of bands will take like an hour to sound check and sit there trying to make it sound just like the album, not even moving around and trying to reenact what their album sounds like, which isn’t as important to us; we’re trying to provide a live aspect and give them
something extra. QUINN: So you guys are more concerned about the experience than the sound. Is that fair to say? MARIO: Yes. QUINN: Your guys’ audience has obviously grown so much over the past couple of years, and a good portion of your audience is really young like you guys. And your latest single, “Who Needs You” is a pretty political song; do feel kind of obligated at this point to educate this mass of young people and sing about current issues you feel strongly about? MARIO: Not really, no. “Who Needs You” is from that one day in the news when they were talking about pulling the majority of troops out of Iraq, which I don’t think is true. And that was supposed to be like a big deal or whatever. The band had the entire instrumental track done, so I was like, why not try to do a somewhat political song, like something I’d never tried to do. QUINN: Well hey, it worked out well. MARIO: Yeah, I just thought I’d give it one shot, but I’m not trying to do that again for a while. QUINN: You guys have mentioned Twin Peaks a lot in other interviews, is there a sense of community between these young Chicago rock bands like you guys and Twin Peaks and even Smith Westerns? MARIO: Yeah, I would probably cut it off there—just us three. There are a lot of other bands that are starting up and trying to do their thing, but I was say it’s kind of a close knit circle. QUINN: Chicago’s hip-hop scene seems to kind of blowing up right now, too, with guys like Chance the Rapper and Chief Keef. Do you follow the Chicago hip-hop scene at all? MARIO: Oh, fuck yeah. We were at this party like a week ago and Chance was there and he was telling us that whenever he’s away from Chicago and he’s talking about the Chicago music scene, we’re one of the first names people bring up. I thought that was awesome that he knows about us and fucks with our music. QUINN: Yeah, you guys should collaborate. MARIO: Yeah that’d be tight. Vic Mensa, who’s worked with Chance, hit us up on twitter and was like, “Hey I wanna get you guys in the studio.” Like a rap producer trying to produce one of our songs, that’d be super tight to see how that sounds. QUINN: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? MARIO: I’m sure I’ll be with the Orwells—probably headlining some sweet shit. It’s definitely with the Orwells, but if anything ever happened I’d definitely be trying to do this again with somebody; I’m just trying to do this for a long time.
ALBUM IMAGINED: FAUX FUR, S/T by ricky balmaseda
So picture it: you find yourself trudging alone through puddles of fresh drizzle on the sidewalk while making your way to the bank and can’t seem to shake the feeling that something is watching you. You peek your eyes over your shoulder and see a lone grey tumbleweed rustling into the storefront behind you. You’re really in a hurry and turn around to keep walking but suddenly something trips you as you fall forward into the pavement. Hands skinned and drenched in the mist, you look up in confusion as an outstretched arm of cobwebs is wrapped around your ankle and pulling you back into an open sewer drain. Wait a minute! Now you’re late for work and sprinting through a maze of back alleys frantically searching for a shortcut to the other side of town. A payphone rings from the dead end of a nearby alley and you’re staggering through the downpour and backdoor garbage to pick it up. You’re panting and slowly lift the receiver to your ear. Off in the distance you hear a woman faintly cooing and singing a lullaby to a sobbing baby. You exhale, motionless in the rain, reliving a memory of yourself and your mother.
You’ve ditched work at this point and stumble soaking wet into a pharmacy to avoid the rain. You still can’t shake the feeling of being watched and scurry to the back of the store only to find a set of silk curtains that reveal a dimly lit lounge area. An elderly man in a dusty suit emerges from the bar and hands you a drink. You slump yourself into a couch to forget your troubles and feel yourself slowly sinking... Hold on! Now you’re cross-eyed and tripping over yourself into a deserted intersection fighting the grasp of something you can only feel as a cold hand over your throat. You’re thrashing away and flailing in a cloud of your own spit and shrieks holding yourself back tearing up until you crash ass-first into a thorny bush on the side of the road. You’re a total fucking mess. Now you’re sitting on the edge of a rooftop staring at your feet hanging out in the open air. Its almost dusk and the drizzle is taking a break. You gaze up into a patch of pregnant clouds and imagine the stars they’re concealing. A constellation forms before you as the clouds break and the warmth of a thousand stars toasts your body dry. The elderly man appears behind you, taps you on the shoulder, and presents you a platter of fresh fruit. You smile, and accept. No no no, scratch that. You’ve really been at work the whole time, you idiot. You’re slumped over your desk in the cramped cubicle of some basement office and a pool of black ink has run from its well and spilled into your lap. Seriously? You’ve really got to head home at this point. You ditch work for real this time and head out into the muggy high-noon sun. You snatch an unlocked bike from the rack outside and pedal away past the trees that are now blossoming and swaying in the breeze. You feel yourself leave the presence behind you. You’re pedaling through the field-lined streets for what feels like hours and finally sigh a breath of relief as you coast onto your block. You open your mailbox to find a letter from an old friend. You will read it as soon as you go inside. You open the front door and put the day behind you. The door locks itself behind you. The windows blink shut in delight. Something in the bathroom begins to creak and moan. It finally found a way to swallow you whole. // // // // // // // Faux Fur’s debut self-titled is a super consistent change-on-a-dime type album that clocks in at just over half an hour. Odd-timed jangly riffs flow seamlessly into angelic breakdowns and tantrums of noisy shreddage while vocalist Jean-Sebastien Audet anchors the trip with a performance that flips between dreary deadpan and melodic belting. For a band where the average age is under 20 years old, this is pretty damn awesome. Check it out at fauxfurband.bandcamp.com Favorite tracks: “Discolouration,” “Rough Palms”
Through car windows by shaun sutkus
Most of these records came out at a time in my life when I was in an extremely strange place. It was the first time I dealt with important people in my life dying. My Oma passed away unexpectedly from a stroke on my Moms birthday. Leaving my Opa alone after being married for 55 years. He began to take anti-depressants. About a year after my Oma’s death my grandfather committed suicide. This changed my entire outlook on life. Also, at this point I hadn’t talked to my father in years. I was studying Radio and Television. I would make a one hour fifteen minute drives from home, down route 61 to interstate 78 – to school, work and my internship everyday. I could consume at least two entire records on this trip and contemplate what it meant to be alive. It became a ritual for me. I would get in my black Pontiac Sunfire, turn on my favorite records of the week, and sing as loud as possible. No one could hear me, but I didn’t give a fuck if they did. And, I still don’t. “Porcelain” - Thursday When this song starts all I can think of is an intensely cold vignette comprised of white and blue nothingness. Maybe there is some snow in there and a train track or something. Yes, this is basically the album artwork. The scene I see in my head is so intense I can’t doing anything but focus on it for the first fifty seconds. “But it’s to fragile to hold,” starts the sing-along for me. “Dreaming” - Boys Night Out Yet another super fun sing-along song with a dark and tragically romantic subject matter that leaves me felling completely empty and fulfilled all at once. Kill, kill, kill, die, die, die, etc. “Stop the Fucking Car” - Circa Survive I wanted to put this entire record on here. I have listened to Juturna 1,000,000 times. Trying to hit notes with Anthony Green is a challenge for me, and most people could live without being a witness to it. I’m all about air drumming and knee driving, hitting the high notes.
“Some Will Seek Forgiveness, Others Escape” - Underoath “Christian Hardcore” with angelic auto tuned choirboy voices and electronic drums? Yes, please! “Say Anything (Else)” - Cartel This song, “Q,” and “A” are the hits. Fuck the rest. I will sing along to this and feel good forever. “Ocean Avenue” - Yellowcard Yes, I am still 16 and sleep all day and stay up all night. Every time I find myself on an Ocean Avenue (any Ocean Avenue; they are all over the country). This song gets put on immediately or at least starts playing in my head. Just makes me want to walk barefoot on the beach holding a cute person’s hand. “All We Know” - Paramore Paramore. The band I’m most likely to start a cover band of, and get booed off stage. Hayley Williams’, along with Anthony Green, is a voice most people don’t want to hear me trying to sing in unison with. It feels so good to sound so bad. “Bug Parade” - Polar Bear Club The first time I saw PBC was at Modified Arts in Phoenix, AZ. Being from Syracuse and connecting with a Syracuse band so far from home was rad. At the show, I met their drummer, Emmett Menke. He introduced me to the studio where I would eventually intern upon returning to Syracuse after graduating college. “The Artist In The Ambulance” - Thrice Thrice was the first band I remember liking who played this “new style of music”. I listened to Illusion of Safety everyday before 11th grade. When The Artist In The Ambulance came out, it became my favorite record. Heavy rotation everyday and one of the first songs I learned to play on guitar after “Smoke On the Water” and “Bro Hymn.”
“The Great Golden Baby” - Circa Survive My history of man crushes: 1. Leonardo Dicaprio 2. Anthony Green 3. Ryan Gosling “At Your Funeral” - Saves The Day The best pop punk band ever makes an amazingly dark hit with super sweet tremolo guitars. I will sing along to this forever. Would you drown of burn alive? “All Nereids Beware” - Chiodos This was the best band in the world the summer I graduated high school. So much so that I got a Chiodos “C” tattooed on me. Not one, but two of them. Yes, they are still there. I can’t even remember how many shows I saw of theirs. I thought Craig Owens had a crush on me. Does he still? Craig, do you? “One Day Women Will All Become Monsters” - Chiodos I am really into hearing records as a whole. These two songs fit together so well. I have listened to them so many times consecutively I cannot listen to “All Nereids Beware” without “One Day Women Will All Become Monsters” after it. “The Snake The Cross The Crown” - Cake Walk This song speaks to me in my current state of mind. I have some of the same feelings and simple requests while on tour and out on the road. Just to live simply after performing each night. He speaks of playing the guitar and getting paid. For me it’s more like playing the sound board and wanting to get paid. “Helena” & “So Long & Goodnight” - My Chemical Romance I almost forgot them. They might be kind of forgettable. But, totally singalongtoable! “It’s Been Long Time Since I Smelled Beautiful” - Look Mexico I know nothing about this band besides those first two songs off this album rock hard. Dudes voice is cute and raspy. “Cute Without the “E” (Cut From The Team)” - Taking Back Sunday This is the song that started it all for me. This song and album changed my life, and I didn’t think anyone else felt that way until one day while I was on tour with Rubblebucket. We were in the van on a way to some show in some city. My friend, Russ Flynn, and I put this record on and sung it from beginning to end. No one else in the Rubblebucket understood and were clearly pissed that we subjected them to this.
“Say This Sooner” - The Almost This song is rockin’ the hits are so so so perfect. I saw them at Bamboozle when their first full length came out and was front row center. The crowd went fucking nuts. The barricade was falling over because of how many christian babies were freaking out for the ginger angel, Aaron Gillespie’s super awesome Underoath side project. “Babygirl” - High & Driving Anthony Green was famous in Pennsylvania. This one of the first bands I heard him in and fell in love. He would do solo shows at the end of December each year in Philly and would perform songs like this and some covers. It was super neat and intimate. “Love You Dead” - Keating (aka Paper Rival) Saw this band at the Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia. It was also the first time I saw Portugal. The Man. When the chorus kicks in it’s on, for sure. When I saw them they went by “Keating,” but apparently there was a Canadian band by the same name. They changed their name to Paper Rival. I think both band names might be bad. “MakeDamnSure” - Taking Back Sunday The band that changed my life released their second record, Where You Want To Be and it blew my mind just as much as the first. This was their third album, and it still rocks to this day. “The Jukebox Bars You Frequent” is super sexy. “MakeDamnSure” has a perfect sing it with me boys and girls chorus. “I’m Bored, You’re Amorous” - Dear and the Headlights Lead singer, Ian Metzger is one of my favorite vocalist. His diction and vocal inflections are on par with Aaron Weiss of Mewithoutyou. I saw them live a few times, once at the venue I worked at in Allentown, and a few times in their hometown while attending college. At the show in Allentown, two of the members were sitting outside after their set. One of them was holding an unlit cigarette, I think it was PJ. He wasn’t smoking. He wasn’t a smoker. I started talking to him, and he explained the idea was that people would ask to bum a cigarette from him. It was a simple conversation starter. A way to break the ice and talk to complete strangers and not feel weird about it, or whatever the feeling is that you get when you talk to strangers.
Over the years my taste in music has mutated into liking many different styles. There was a time when I was extremely embarrassed of being into some of these songs. But, one day I realized these songs make up a part of me. They represent a time in my life I will never forget. What is there to be ashamed of? Fuck everyone. :)
WANT MORE MISCREANT? Dear Miscreants, Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to hang out with this issue’s cover band, ON AN ON, at Bonnaroo. We avoided showering, hauled gear and merch, shared stories around the camp, and soaked up the Tennessee sun for about a week. I saw them play three times throughout the festival, and really got a sense of what their music is about. Through sickness, heat, and sweat, they brought their all to every stage they performed on. Their live show is incredible, and if you can catch them on their tour -- don’t hesitate. And they’re great people, staying late after their last set to sell merch and talk to fans while Paul McCartney crooned out Beatles’ tunes. I’m so thankful to have them on the cover of the zine! I’d also like to give many thanks to all of the folks who submitted to the issue. I’m really excited to have Elaine Short’s comics in this issue. We’ve had comics in the Miscreant before, and I’m glad they’re back! Also, Cassandra’s piece on our little karaoke outings has me all smiles. You’re all invited, every Tuesday! Bring your liquid courage and your favorite 80s ballad. Now it’s time to get to work on the next Miscreant! Issue 44 will feature our friends, Cayucas! Submissions for the zine are due September 17! No previous writing experience is required. Send in stories of your favorite band shirts, your top 10 songs you know your mom loves, an interview with the hardcore band that practices next door, anything to do with music. Email your work to email@example.com. Also send us any questions you might have about getting involved with the Miscreant! Also, look to miscreantrecords.com and the Miscreant Facebook for more info on the music you read about here and more! Check out the Miscreant video series Sad Kids Club at www.smarturl.it/SadKidsClub. And remember to read and enjoy all of the back issues of the Miscreant at issuu.com/themiscreant. With love, The Miscreant