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Feminist America Won’t Let Planned Parenthood Go Without a Fight
April 19, 2017 12:10 pm

At 21, I walked a childhood friend into Planned Parenthood when she feared she might be pregnant. With our shaky hands intertwined—hers seeking support and mine offering it—we walked inside, straight into the place we knew would have the answers should her fears be confirmed.

On April 13, President Donald Trump approved a bill giving states the legal right to withhold funding for Planned Parenthoods clinics should they choose. For men and women in more conservative territories, their means of receiving a free and reduced price yearly physicals, pap smears, mammograms, condoms abortion services have been taken away.  In the name of “religious freedom”, their access to affordable reproductive healthcare is gone.

Planned Parenthood de-funding

It’s a move many of Americans who didn’t vote for Trump in 2016’s election feared would become a reality. While every Republican isn’t anti-pro-choice, the President has proven himself to be staunchly anti-pro-choice. As well as also being an advocate for “family values”—which, by action and not words, means homophobic, transphobic, and against feminism—and one who has displayed sexist, classist, and rape culture-sympathetic behavior, Trump at the helm of the country’s operations spells danger for women.

President Trump’s witch hunt against Planned Parenthood and feminist adjacent aides to female healthcare, despite what his cabinet insists isn’t true, is, in fact, a war on women. When he proposed keeping the organization’s funding in place as long as they got rid of abortion services, it was the latest battle waged in this war. Taking services and entire organizations that directly assist women’s healthcare and cut them because they don’t fit the narrative of “family values” is why advocates are rising up.

Musical artists from Best Coast to Katy Perry, actors like American Ferrera and Scarlett Johansson, and political figures like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are among the most vocal advocates for the continued funding of Planned Parenthood clinics in the U.S. They know the importance of having condoms, breast exams, STD and STI tests and treatments, and yes, abortion services, available to those who need them.

Because personal judgments shouldn’t interfere with the health of your fellow man and woman.

So what can we as a people do now that the war is on?

We can donate to Planned Parenthood. You can sign petitions and advocate with groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Campaign. You can volunteer at your local Planned Parenthood clinic or attend an appointment there. You can use the hashtag #WeWontGoBack to spread the organization’s message on social media, and/or speak with family and friends (this guide is handy all year round!) about the benefits of Planned Parenthood and the current government’s involvement.

Even though my childhood friend wasn’t pregnant all those years ago, she knew that Planned Parenthood had her back if push came to shove. She knew that the state of her health was important to them. President Trump can’t take away what the American people put up a fight to protect. Planned Parenthood is a savior for so many, and we’re not backing down to save it.

Check out our playlist that is filled with badass songs about empowering women and giving us the right to choose what we do with our bodies.

Post Election Playlist
November 16, 2016 1:43 pm

 

It’s been exactly one week since the outcome of one of the craziest elections America has ever witnessed.

The beasts have lovingly curated this playlist to help get us through all of the intense emotions – from shock and disbelief to sadness and anger – we’re going through.

Though we live in troubled times, we are all in this together. Let this playlist help us to remember not only that, but that we should never stop fighting hate with love.

P.S. Trump. Look behind you. We’re not going anywhere.

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Ode to Songs from Leonard Cohen
November 11, 2016 2:10 pm

In the days since we’ve begun grieving over the results of the 2016 Presidential election, it’s a wonder if this year is worth it altogether. Various news outlets confirmed on November 10 that Canadian music legend Leonard Cohen had died at age of 82, leaving behind family, friends and his latest album, October’s “You Want It Darker“.

Leonard Cohen You Want It Darker

His deep, rugged vocals and a beautifully realized heaviness to delivery adds depths with a sludgy and distilled aftermath on his final work.

Cohen was an inspiration for many artists and it’s easy to hear this influence in artists like Jeff Buckley and Josh Ritter. His infamous song “Hallelujah” has been covered by music’s biggest names at least once in their careers. Cohen’s musical themes range from religion to sex and one can turn to many of his songs in French for a beautiful spin on things. His artistry and talent made him Canada’s equivalent to Bob Dylan or Paul Simon, but with the experimental off the cuff of Tom Waits.

Cohen possessed an impressive catalog outside of “Hallelujah”. His debut album “Songs from Leonard Cohen” was released in 1967 and released shortly after was “Songs from a Room” in 1969, featuring the beautiful “Bird on a Wire“. These are two greatly influential albums for me, although I loved to see him progress to the force he became at the end of an eighteen album run. I love the minimalist style he kept throughout those albums and consider them my keepsakes.

 

Cohen was also known for his poetry and the otherworldly way he crafted language. I imagine a lot of it had to do with his open mind and vast love for experiencing the world. In 1992 he released “The Future”, an album with a dark political tone; I wonder if Cohen knew something we didn’t. Lyrics like “I’ve seen the future brother: it is murder” shows that he didn’t just write songs and poems without thought; he wrote in a way that highlighted his eloquent coordination of words.

In a 2014 interview with Q Magazine, he explained how “Canadians are very involved in our country. We are on the edge of America and we watch America the way women watch men,” before pausing with perfect comic timing and stating “Very, very carefully! So when there’s this continual cultural and political challenge right on the edge of your lives, it develops a sense of solidarity. So yes, it is a very important element in my life.”

America has watched Leonard Cohen “like women watch men”, evident in our own Bob Dylan. It is these types of artists with blind aesthetic brilliance that we savor and hold to elucidate our own lives and trials. We will miss you Leonard; you were a Beast of a lyricist and a lover of all things. Thank you for your legacy.

 

THE BLACK PARADE IS BACK IN A NEW WAY
October 19, 2016 11:23 am

“When I was a young boy, my father took me to the city, to see a marching band…”

This line of lyric is so universally known by the rock world that no one can hear this song and not feel some strong attachment to it. My Chemical Romance‘s immersive album The Black Parade was part epic, part tragedy filled with soaring highs and wallowing lows. Rock Sound magazine is celebrating the 10th anniversary of this legendary album with the story of the creation and life of The Black Parade and an incredible amount of content.

9390352-368-k802450A decade is a long time, in 2006, the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii came out, Casino Royal and Cars debuted, Justin Timberlake was bringing “Sexyback, Shakira’s hips didn’t lie and Daniel Powter was still having his bad days. This was a year of strong movement in pop culture and punk rock was being redefined. My Chemical Romance way making one of the biggest movements because of their raw style of music, fashion and tone in their genre defining The Black Parade.

Rock Sound’s October edition is an essential for any punk, emo, rock or ska fan. There is a beautifully told story of MCR’s creative process of The Black Parade and its life and impact it had on the band. It is filled with a lot of funny small stories and interesting insights on why the band took a break and how they dealt with all of these changes.

However, the part of this edition that seems more interesting and gripping is the cover album that accompanies the issue. Rock Sound gathered a grand collection of artists deep in the indie rock world to cover each song on The Black Parade giving each track new life while saluting them with praise and honor at the same time. From Escape the Fate‘s similar and powerful rendition of “Dead!” to Twenty One Pilot‘s heart breaking performance of Cancer and Against the Current‘s different take on Teenagers, this album brings new life to The Black Parade while reminding you how truly amazing this album was and still is.

I would recommend anyone and everyone who is a fan of MCR, The Black Parade, punk, rock, indie, ska, heavy metal or good music in general to pick up this epic issue of Rock Sound with the additional tribute album. MCR is also celebrating this 10th anniversary with a special deluxe edition that any fan NEEDS to get, you can’t miss this. The Black Parade is amazing in both forms and may their music and memory carry on.

HOW MANY OF THESE ICONIC BANDS SHIRTS ARE WORTH THEIR HYPE?
September 30, 2016 2:20 am

The culture surrounding band shirts is so fucking masturbatorial. I know this first hand, since I own roughly 20-30 of them. As someone who spends far too much time obsessing over both music and sports, I can’t help but notice the similar satisfaction each respective fan base takes in showing off how passionate with specific articles of clothing. For sports fans, it’s a jersey. For music fans, it’s a band shirt. I’ve seen 20 minute long interactions heavy on mutual admiration over both of these items at a game or a concert countless times. It’s like a secret handshake for these people.

Again, I am part of this very snobbish problem. I proudly trot out my Darko Milicic jersey as often as possible in public. People need to know that I know about the Human Victory Cigar. And as a teen, I found a rinky dink website that allowed me to slap a .jpg of a Simpsonized Sonic Youth onto a t-shirt that they then gladly pressed for me. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than when somebody jealously squees “where did you get that?!?!” at me. Might be why all my relationships never last over a month, who knows.

Because this is the type of monster I am, my standards for this subset of fashion is absurdly high. Specifically band tees, since they’re the more commonly worn item. Some are perfect. Others are probably more useful as food for fire. Others, however, reach a rare air of ubiquity that transcend music taste altogether. The design strikes such a cord that people who might not have ever heard a song by a band will proudly wear the shirt.

Whether or not that’s a bad thing is an entirely different discussion that really only means anything to the most annoying realms of my personality. What I want to try to figure out is how many of these iconic shirts are actually worth the hubbub from a design standpoint. Are these shirts worth their hype? Well, let me put my Hat of Objective Judgement on and discuss.

 

1) Johnny Cash’s Middle Finger Shirt

 

What a rebel! Boy, oh boy, Johnny Cash was sure a troublemaker back in his day, wasn’t he? A middle finger? My word, what a provocateur! The sheer amount of rebellion it takes to pose in front of a camera with all but Mr. Middle Finger (the most important of all fingers) folded down is unheard of. Not enough artists flip off photographers nowadays! That’s what’s wrong with today’s music. Man, we need more dirtbags like Johnny around, man. Ugh, I’m done pretending that this shirt is cool in any way or that Johnny Cash makes enjoyable music.

NOT WORTH THE HYPE.

 

2) Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures Shirt

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While there’ve been a myriad of spins on the original design recently, from Wu-Tang to Mickey Mouse, oddly enough, nothing can beat the original. It’s a beautifully simplistic design that’s gotten more and more popular over the years. I can never see myself getting tired of seeing it.

WORTH THE HYPE

 

3) Metallica’s Master of Puppets Shirt

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Considering that the breed of YouTube commenter most likely to post a homophobic slur on a Justin Bieber video tends to have a Heavy Metal album cover as their their picture, it tickled me beyond belief when the Beebz started incorporating those bands’ shirts into his daily fashion. Metallica, Slayer, Iron Maiden, all of them Biebered. He even copied Iron Maiden’s font for his latest tour’s merch. The trend’s caught on like wildfire. These shirts are all over places like Urban Outfitters and H&M now. It’s kind of impossible to explain exactly how or why it happened, but I’m so over the moon with the fact that it did.

WORTH THE HYPE

 

4) Rolling Stones Tongue Shirt

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Look at this stupid fucking logo. This dumb, overly glossy piece of pop-art trash is going to wind up outliving each member of the Rolling Stones themselves. It remains a mystery to me why anyone would want to have some hornily panting tongue smack dab on the middle of their chest, but this is the America that we live in today.

NOT WORTH THE HYPE

 

5) Black Flag Logo Shirt

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Even more than the Unknown Pleasures tee, this one has had so many parodies to it. And it’s more minimal than Joy Division’s design, too! It’s just the band’s name with a bunch of skinny rectangles sloppily lined up. There’s no reason why this should be so exceptional, but it is. It’s basically the shirt every Punk band wishes they could call their own.

WORTH THE HYPE

 

6) Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon

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Listen, I don’t really want to spend too much time on this one. It’s fine, okay? I get it, rainbow on one end, no rainbow on the other. Very symbolic. Is symbolic the right word to use there? I really don’t care enough. For me, this shirt screams ‘Guy In His 40s Who Buys All His Graphic Tees At The Gap’.

IT’S FINE, WHO CARES.

 

7) RUN-DMC Shirt

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For some odd reason, Run-DMC is one of the few rap outfits that currently have a truly exception shirt to call their own. I’m not really sure why that’s been the case, but considering how awesome the merch from guys like Kanye, Drake and Tyler, The Creator have looked the past few years, that should be changing real soon. For now, though, this one remains the genre’s gold standard.

WORTH THE HYPE

 

8) Led Zeppelin’s Naked Angel Shirt

Something about a naked angel who appears to be writhing in agony just seems to resonate with a bunch of folks. Whenever I see this dumb angel, I just want to shout “GET OVER IT, STUPID ANGEL!!!” at it. Then I realize I’d be shouting this at someone’s chest and that isn’t really cool. The odd thing is, I do get it on some strange level. Like, when I see this angel being all histrionic, it does sort of epitomize the bombast of Led Zeppelin’s music. No part of me ever wants to wear this shirt, but I understand the appeal.

MEDIOCRE ENOUGH TO BE WORTHY OF SOME HYPE

 

9) Misfits Logo Shirt

 

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Years before I heard a single note come out of Glenn Danzig’s mouth, I was introduced to this shirt. I had no idea if Misfits was a band, a clothing brand, or some horror movie I’ve never seen before. The imagery always stuck with me, though. Once I finally started listening to this legendary band, I was obviously more than pleased, but I still think what Misfits is most known for is this fucking shirt. It’s amazing. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if this shirt’s outsold their entire catalogue 10 times over. Everybody has this shirt. And with good reason, too.

WORTH THE HYPE.

 

Aaaaand that’ll be it for this installment of ‘Is This Band Shirt Worth The Hype?’ As you can see, the color black reigns supreme in the iconic band shirt world. Or maybe it doesn’t, and that’s simply a byproduct of my darkness bias coming through. There were a few other shirts I was considering adding to this list, but no other seemed as much of a no-brainer as these did. Perhaps a sequel is in order. 

MOVE WITH THE SEASON: FALL PLAYLIST
September 19, 2016 10:08 am

Oh  Fall, some love you, some hate you. The days grow colder and the sun sets earlier as a subtle reminder that WINTER IS COMING. This pumpkin flavored playlist (because what honestly isn’t pumpkin flavored right now) has got all the ups and downs of Fall feels.

Some slow songs to ease you into the dark cold (Morrissey), some upbeat songs to keep you moving with the seasons and doses of nostalgia (oh yeah, Hot Chip cover of Bruce’s Dancing In The Dark).

This playlist has everything including lots of awesome bands with shows coming up in New York you don’t want to miss. There are songs to get stoned to, songs to dance to, songs to mope to, songs to leave the basic bitch uggs and pumpkin spice everything behind for some stranger things…something atypical.

“When the time comes move with the season, lend your young ear to the sound of day.” –TEMPLES

 

LINDSEY STIRLING: BRAVERY IS ENOUGH
September 1, 2016 6:35 pm

 

Lindsey Stirling was a sensation and novelty act years ago, with dancing, dubstep and epic violin solos she broke the mold. Being one part of EDM dubstep, one part classical and one part pop, Lindsey has no fear to be who she truly is. However, like most impressive and creative acts, they can be one hit wonders and terribly repetitive after awhile, lacking creativity or diversity.

I am happy to say, Lindsey Stirling is not like those others and she shows her powerful ability and innovation in her new album Brave Enough.

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I actually saw Lindsey Stirling years ago in a quiet auditorium in at the Visitors Center of the Mormon Temple in Washington DC. She played Shatter Me with such beauty and grace being only accompanied by a man with a drum box and a piano. Her passion was unreal and the whole audience was in awe afterwards. If you ever get the chance to see her, I absolutely recommend it.

Brave Enough is a beautiful and strong example of her abilities to collaborate with others while still emphasizing the special talents of each artist. From Rivers Cuomo (Weezer) to Christina Perri and ZZ Ward to Lecare, Brave Enough is so packed full of artists it’s almost hard to keep track of them all. It is great to see her fame being put to good use bringing them all together in one cohesive piece.

Her strongest point in her music is also a bit of a weakness though. Fast paced violin work mixed with dubstep and drums is a wonderful mix and I love it even more in this album, the songs sound clear and individual, never repetitive. The only thing I would want from her would be some more relaxed and slower song. “Gavi’s Song” is fantastic, and I would love to hear more of this style. but it is only a minor complaint, the album and each track is honestly very good and totally deserves your time and money.

I am happy to see this album exceed my expectations. I thought it would be a set of familiar sounding songs that featured some mediocre singing here and there, but I was wrong. It is a variety in writing and collaborations make a wonderful album filled with enough energy to fuel your night drives, video game marathons or morning workouts. Check it out and love every moment of it.

ARTIST OF THE MONTH: AVI JACOB IS THE PERFECT MODEST MAN
12:05 am

Summer’s over people. Get those lively synth tunes about not letting the night escape us out of my face. The season of hibernation is upon us, and to help us soundtrack the cyclical death of all leaves is Avi Jacob. Be appreciative.

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Jacob’s latest single, “Pickup Truck, is an Americana wet dream from beginning to end. You’ve got a sweet acoustic guitar being masterfully plucked throughout, pickup trucks, lyrics alluding to a father being disappointed in his son. These are the pillars of our great country, and Jacob builds a beautiful house of music with them as his supporting base. This is the environment Jacob is most comfortable with.

Just watch the video of him performing “Modest Man below. It’s just him wailing on his guitar in the woods as he sings his heart out. There probably isn’t another person around for miles. What’s truly great about the video is how authentically homemade it is. No hi-def camera showing close up shots of him from all different angles, no detailed cinematography of the surrounding elements either. It’s simply a camera on a tripod set up on the back porch filming Avi Jacob perform. That’s it.

The idea of a truly genuine artist feels somewhat out of place in 2016. Every persona, as well as every song, tends to get workshopped ad nauseum. The true persona is there at the core, but everything built around him or her are half-truths and hyperbole. It obviously makes for great entertainment, but it’s always bittersweet realizing that the person making such human and relatable art isn’t actually relatable (or even that human) in real life whatsoever. However, every line that Jacob powers out of his soul affirms that what’s being said is 100% him.

Because of this, Avi Jacob doesn’t have the wildest of web presences. He has a total of 79 tweets. His Facebook is only used to promote his performances. And from what it looks like, his website doesn’t even work. It’s doubtful that any of this bothers him though. Because it genuinely seems as though he is an actual rogue folk music folk tale who jumps from town to town by trading a song for a bed and some hot supper.

Maybe it’s all just a ruse and he’s secretly been a millionaire method actor researching for his next role this whole time. Inside Llewyn Davis desperately needs a sequel, so it would make sense. Other than that scenario, Avi Jacob is most likely the real deal that Folk music needs right now. His voice is passionate and his songs are beautifully heartbreaking. What you see is wholeheartedly what you get.

TELE NOVELLA: REFRESHINGLY DRAMA-FREE
August 31, 2016 9:58 am

Tele Novella are gearing up to release their debut album, House of Souls, on September 23rd and have already begun to wet our taste buds with the deliciously subdued first single “Heavy Balloon”. Members Natalie Ribbons, Jason Chronis, Matt Simon, and Sarah La Puerta formed the band as a supergroup of sorts, coming from bands including Agent Ribbons (Natalie), Voxtrot and Belaire (Jason, Matt), as well as solo projects (Sarah).

ATYPICAL SOUNDS had a nice chat with Natalie on recording the new album, and how she really feels about SXSW.

What can your fans expect to hear on the new album?
They can expect to hear toe-tapping cynicism, hope-filled broken-ness, odes to the joys of hoarding in 3/4, and sex. Spooky sex.

Is there anything you learned during its recording that you wish you had known going into it?
Ho boy. Right for the ol’ can-o-worms question! Haha. The short answer is YES. But honestly, you’d have to be a fool or otherwise not give a shit for the answer to not be yes! I’d really rather not bore you with the details.

You’ve all come from other bands or solo projects. What do you feel you’ve been able to bring to Tele Novella?

Well, we all bring a lot to the band, given our collective experience and (of course) talents. This is such a talented and creative band, I’m beyond thrilled that we’ve stuck it out long enough to get to this point because it’s such a delightful group of people to work with!

Figuring out exactly what we should bring rather than can bring has been the question.  We’re still carving out our aesthetic world and figuring out who and what we are as a musical entity! This album has brought us so much closer to knowing what that is, and I think we have a clearer vision for where to go from here than we ever did!

Sometimes it’s more about subtracting elements rather than adding to them, and we’re going more in that direction now. When I was a little kid coloring pictures at the kitchen table, my grandpa used to ALWAYS say to me, “Natalie, a great artist knows when to stop.” It’s kind of hilarious to think of saying that to a little kid, but it has really stuck with me and I am only just now starting to deeply consider that advice.

Is there anything you’ve done (or want to do) with Tele Novella you feel you couldn’t do with your past bands or projects?

I can’t speak for the others, but in my case, yes. I am working with very experienced people, so when presented with a new song, the group approaches it as though it were a little gemstone or something. You turn it this way, and this facet is particularly of interest or prominence. You turn it that way, and you’re looking at something else entirely, perhaps emphasizing other aspects not seen before.

There are many more options, a greater array of possible directions. Sometimes this is overwhelming, but for the most part it is much better! This is the case not only at rehearsal but also in the recording studio. Everyone contributed so much, I actually probably contributed the least as far as production and arrangement goes. These are Jason’s area of expertise, for sure. He has a striking and natural talent for knowing how to take a song and really make it bloom in the recording studio. Of course, Danny Reisch played a large role in this also—he recorded the album.

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How did you all get together as a band?

Jason and Matt have been in bands together for years, starting with Voxtrot and most recently before Tele Novella, they were in Belaire together. My old band Agent Ribbons dissipated shortly before SXSW where I was still scheduled to appear, so we put Tele Novella together on the fly with members of Belaire. It turned out really well so we just kept doing it!

How do you feel about SXSW? Do you love it, or does it make you want to escape the city?

It’s always both. I think it’s a good thing for our city, even though the quality has declined every year in lieu of quantity. We try to participate when we can, but it’s a pain in the ass to be in the crowds or to look for a place to park the van and load everything in/out. We probably won’t do it this year, but we’ll see.

I’ve heard that Austin’s growing economy is pushing out the artists that made it a destination in the first place. Is that something you’ve experienced firsthand?

Yes, the struggle is real! Of course this is a nationwide war against the poor, not just Austin. Rich people are asserting more and more for themselves every day, and Austin is a really black and white, clear-as-day example of this for sure. Jason and I moved to a small historic town built in the late 1800s called Lockhart. It’s about 30 minutes south of Austin and it’s super cheap, but who knows how long that will last. For now it’s great though!

Austin is well-known as a music city, but are there any bands there you feel deserve more attention?

Deep Time is a long-time favorite. They are just so good, and I’m stoked they are playing again. Big Bill is the funnest band in Austin. Caroline Says is great also.

What are your favorite venues in Austin for seeing live music?

I feel like we’re missing a truly special venue at the moment. There’s an unbelievable amount of venues, but we don’t have that one special place that I crave. Cheer Up Charlies is one of my favorites, even though going downtown is not my ideal scenario (it’s a clusterfuck down there).

Have you tried the kale margaritas at Cheer Up Charlies? They’re weird, right?

Haha. Funny, I didn’t notice this question while I was typing in ‘Cheer Up Charlie’s’ but it looks like we’re on the same page with this! Yes, I’ve tried ’em. I’m not huge on margaritas, but they do a carrot-rita that’s not bad.  I like getting whiskey and kombucha there.

What are your plans for the rest of 2016? Will you be coming to New York any time soon?

We have a NYC date at Shea Stadium for October 7th. It’s all-ages.

SPRING KING REIGNS SUPREME
August 26, 2016 10:44 am

 

We  should all be paying more attention to what goes on in Manchester. I know I’ve been guilty of ignoring that city to the north of London, but we’re all missing out because that’s where Spring King is from. The band released their debut album Tell Me If You Like To in June, and it’s been getting quite a bit of airplay. If you’re in the UK, you can catch them on tour this fall. In addition to sounding totally ass-kicking, their drummer is also their lead singer. That alone is worth the price of admission.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS got to trade some quality emails with Tarek Musa, Pete Darlington, and James Green, and find out how they’re preparing to tour, and what’s good in Manchester.

I’ve been to London but never Manchester. Do you think people are missing out on anything by not visiting?

James: I think Manchester has a great atmosphere around it, the people are much more welcoming on the whole and there’s a lot of amazing culture that you wouldn’t necessarily find in London, from the Northern Quarter bars and restaurants to places like the Whitworth Art Gallery and areas a bit further afield like Chorlton and Didsbury. It does rain a lot more though…

What are your favorite venues in Manchester for seeing live music?

James: The Deaf Institute has always held a soft spot for me since I worked there, otherwise Soup Kitchen hosts some of the best small shows and club nights in the city and The Castle is an incredible pub and amazing venue for more DIY acts. I’ve seen some awe-inspiring shows at The Roadhouse, but it shut down recently which was devastating.

Are there any good record stores over there?

Pete: Piccadilly Records is my favorite record shop in Manchester. I grew up in a town outside of the city called Macclesfield. Almost every weekend I would go into town and pick up a CD from Piccadilly. So many of the records I bought there changed my life! They have a really varied selection, from underground US releases to Tropicalia to the latest pop stuff. You have to go there if you visit the city.

James: There’s also an amazing dance music specialist called Eastern Bloc – the guys in there are all top level DJs and really know their stuff, and are always more than happy to help you out with recommendations!

Is there anything you learned while recording Tell Me If You Like To that you wish you had known prior to recording?

James: I think we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to achieve before we went into the studio, although we’d probably like to plan a little bit more before we start on the next record – we wrote quite a lot as we were going along when recording TMIYLT, and it’d be nice to start with a few more songs fully fleshed out next time around.

Your Facebook page says you don’t have a record label. I’m a little surprised, since the band seems to be doing so well. Is there a reason you’re not signed?

Pete: Hah that’s not true! We’re signed to Island in the UK and Terrible in the States. I’ll fix that…

Tarek, you’re the drummer and also the lead singer. I feel like it would be more difficult to drum and sing at the same time than it would be to sing and play a different instrument (like guitar). Is that true?

Tarek: I only started singing and drumming at the same time when we started this band. It was definitely a real challenge at first. Now it’s become second nature though, so I’m not sure!

You have a fairly extensive tour coming up in the autumn. Do you need to prepare mentally for something like that?

Pete: Touring can be tough mentally as well as physically. When I’m not on the road I try and eat as much home cooked food as possible, sleep in late, meditate and read. It’s important to start the tour feeling as rested as you can. Besides that, we tend to do a few serious days of rehearsal just before the tour starts to make sure we’re feeling confident about the set.

What do you do to kill time on the road?

Pete: I play a lot of video games and try to read as much as I can. Passing time isn’t too hard when you’re on the road with your friends. There’s always something to argue about and discuss.

I see you’re performing at Thekla in Bristol. Are you fans of Sarah Records? The label’s last show was at that venue.

James: Honestly I’ve never heard of them, but I’m just flicking through some of their back catalog whilst typing this and absolutely loving it! Thekla is one of our favorite venues, we played there with a friend’s band called Spector and also recently at Dot to Dot Festival and it was INCREDIBLE – horridly sweaty and just perfect!

Will you be coming to New York any time soon?

Pete: No plans at the moment, but I’d love to go back. We played CMJ a couple of years ago and that was a lot of fun.

James: CMJ and SXSW last year were two incredible experiences for us, both personally and as a band, so we’re praying we’ll have the chance to come back!