atypical

KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD AND KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD AND K
June 8, 2016 1:18 pm

You can bet those cringe-worthy getups your parents wore in the early-80s are going to be next season’s hot commodity. Human innovation is less about spontaneous combustion and more about an endless mashup of patterns. ‘Dude! What does mine say?  Sweet! What does mine say?’ If only a rock band capitalized on this notion of the never-ending pop cultural Saṃsāra.

There’s no way to properly brace yourself for King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard’s latest high-octane concoction. Nonagon Infinity dishes out a blissed-out 42-minute jam served with a blitz of viciously fast guitar-play, fist-pumping lyrics, and a time-warping motorick beat. It’s also King Gizzard’s most righteously ambitious effort to date: an album that’s deliberately designed to seamlessly loop back to the beginning, again and again, for eternity. The disorienting bombastity crescendos into a seemingly abrupt end on “Road Train,” which fits back into the first track “Robot Stop.” The beginning is the end and the end is the beginning. I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together. C-C-C-Combo Breaker!!

Frontman Stu Mackenzie howls out themes of a dystopian future run by robots (The universe is a machine/That has awoken from a dream), evil flying vultures (People-Vultures waiting to begin/Deadly ulcers feeding on my skin), and the nonsensical (Once I’m Mr. Beat/I only miss a beat).

It’s rare to see a band with seven members, but Australian psychedelic rock septet King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard just wouldn’t be complete without two drummers, four guitarists, and harmonica. Nonagon Infinity was released via According to Our Records (ATO), which features a heady roster including Gogol Bordello, My Morning Jacket, and Old Crow Medicine Show. While certainly conjuring up 70s prog-rock of Pink Floyd and Yes ilk, King Gizzard rev up the ferocity by incorporating the harder edge of metal, and the hallucinatory repetition of Krautrock. Sonically, the band resembles fellow-Melbourne garage-rockers The Oh Sees.

The accompanying music videos also match the novelty-rock theme. “Gamma Knife” features the band circled around a makeshift offering pit as the camera dizzyingly pans around King Gizzard and company shredding guitars and banging drums. Druids adorned in brightly colored robes descend from the surrounding foliage. The video comes to an end as the ritual pit spawns a egg-shaped crystal and knocks out the band and adjoining worshipers. Incidentally this seamlessly leads into the next video, “People Vultures” in which the egg hatches a horrendously lofty paper-mache prop, which King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard painstakingly lug around while performing their instruments (you know, like a People Vulture). They are sporadically attacked by jump-kicking villains reminiscent of Power-Ranger which are vaporized by the vulture’s lazer beams.

If you hadn’t guessed yet, the band has already confirmed they will release a music video for each of the tracks on Nonagon Infinity–which might seem like a page out of Beyonce’s playbook–but this case clearly hints that, yes, there will be a never-ending music video to accompany their never-ending album.

If you’re a connoisseur of Rock’N’Roll’s rich history of novelties Nonagon Infinity is a must have–it fits in right next to Flaming Lips Zaireeka, synchronizing Dark Side of the Moon with the Wizard of Oz, KISS action figurines, and the complete Guitar Hero collection. Unsurprisingly so, the prized vinyl pressing of Nonagon Infinity is already sold out on their bandcamp. You can start placing your bets on Ebay where I’m sure it’ll fetch a fair price.

I say tuh-may-tow. You say to-mah-to. I call it retro, you call it nostalgia. Certainly you’re familiar with the old adage that Pop Culture comes in cycles.  Some call it the 40-year-rule, but…

CHATTING WITH BUTTERFLIES: JESSICA ROTTER
May 4, 2016 12:42 pm

Jessica Rotter is hitting the music scene ever so eloquently while rattling every listener’s ear with her debut album Plains. Atypical Sounds got to attend Rotter’s release party and it was an evening to remember. Rotter took the stage on the rooftop of the W hotel with beautiful views of downtown Los Angeles shining through every window. Dressed in a beautiful old school Hollywood dress she expelled soul shaking vocals from Plains such as “Aflame,” “Stars,” “Flowers In My Head and “Let Me Go.” Rotter combined with an amazing entourage of band members and back up singers made for an exceptional Friday night.

We got one on one time with Jessica recently and talked Plains, love, freedom, motherhood and everything in between! See below for the full interview. 

jessica-rotter.-guitar-backup-singers

When did you realize that music was a career path for you?

I think I realized it multiple times. When I was very young I was always singing. I would day dream about going on stage. Every stage I could ever go on I would start singing. It was kind of just part of me. When I graduated college I was kind of pursuing directing for music videos and then I ended up just getting a lot more work singing just because I’ve been singing my whole life. It made me realize I should just embrace singing. I had been writing music but I wasn’t sharing it actively, and then when I started sharing it I was like wait a second this is amazing and so much fun. What am I denying? I was like stop lying to yourself go be a musician.

Is there anyone that you saw yourself performing with when you were younger (elementary/junior high days)?

Yeah. Are you kidding me? Everyday I would dream about *NSYNC bringing me up on stage. I just imagined going to one of their concerts and Justin Timberlake would see me singing along and he would be like ‘I can tell she has a great voice she should come on stage.’

Has your family influenced your music at all?

Yeah definitely. I think that growing up in a classical-ish family influenced me as a musician. Listening to a bunch of amazing film scores and classical music growing up really influenced me but directly my dad did help me with a lot in the early stages of the album. He arranged all of the big string parts that you hear on the album like “Last Sound” and “Hit The Ground.” My dad actually wrote those string parts. He was a composer first and now he’s a contractor so he hires musicians for orchestras. He helped me coordinate and put this huge session together with all these amazing L.A musicians. There are like twenty-five string players. It was a big session. It was amazing. I felt really fortunate.

What does this record represent to you?

I wrote it in a very transitional period of my life. I was kind of searching for freedom a lot of the time and trying to find myself. What I realized is that even in love there are times of loneliness and even with this illusion of freedom there’s the other side of it which is that you are alone. So it’s like what about being tied to another person creates a struggle and what about not being tied to another person creates a struggle? How do we find peace in either situation? It’s really just me wrestling with loneliness and love. As I said at my show, I got pregnant unexpectedly. Honestly, I think I realized that if I was going to be having a child and I didn’t pull myself together I maybe never would do this. I felt that there was a real need to expedite this journey and really create something and put it out there. Some of the songs I wrote before I got pregnant but they all kind of fit into the same world of when you’re free who are you and when you’re not free who are you? What is freedom and what’s more rewarding? And at the end of the day, I think that being in relationships that are real and rewarding is more important than this illusion of freedom that everyone is chasing all the time.

What inspired the album title?

Really it’s a metaphor for that open space and how when you’re in a huge open space you can feel completely alone or you can feel completely free. It kind of metaphorically explains that feeling in a lot of the songs.

How did you find your peace?

Honestly, I think that sometimes you just have to make a choice and I think that I just made the choice that I had things pretty good. I was never concerned with becoming a mom, I think that was always magical to me especially as a creator. It’s like hello this is the coolest creative project ever. My son is the most amazing child. Obviously, every mom is kind of biased about that but he really is. He’ll walk outside and put his arms out and talk about how beautiful the trees are. He’s also super musical. He’s a drummer. He’s only two and a half. He’s so cool so none of that has ever been a problem. Really I don’t think I would be pursuing my career in such an intentional way if I hadn’t had him and had such a strong reason for making my life happen.

At your show you said you wrote a certain song when you were going through your pregnancy. Which song was that again?

Stars. I wrote it before I found out that I was pregnant but I sang it throughout my entire pregnancy. It was always playing in my head. I wrote Stars right when I had just gotten into my first relationship with the same person who is now my fiancé and the father of my child. I had been in love with other people but this was my first true relationship. So this song for some reason just kind of came out of me and I sang it all the time. And it did, it really carried me through my album, it carried me through my pregnancy. A lot of people have reached out to me about Stars saying that it’s really helped them through hard days.

What’s an activity that helps rejuvenate your creativity and music?

I love going out into nature. I actually just moved right outside of L.A and there are a lot of hiking trails so I spend a lot of time outside. I like meditating, I go to the beach a lot and (laughs) I’ve discovered gardening which is like, I don’t know—something about putting a plant in dirt is very therapeutic for me. (Laughs) I feel like a mom to the plants when I’m gardening. It’s just nice to get hands on with the earth.

Have you ever had a song, lyric or melody come into your head while you’re meditating?

Yes. My favorite though is when I will wake up from a dream and record a song. That’s how “Flowers In My Head” happened. I woke up one morning and sang this guitar line and then turned my phone off and went back to sleep.

How would you say you defy what’s expected of the modern female musician?

I guess first we need to decide what’s expected of the modern female musician. I definitely think that I’m not an obedient person so by nature I am defiant. I think that nothing should be expected of a modern female musician and I definitely don’t think that I ever got into music to be a sex symbol. I think that female musicians and male musicians should just be looked at as artists which is what we are and not to be exploited. I know a lot of female musicians are exploited for multiple reasons. Especially with this Kesha thing coming to light—it’s brought up this whole thing where you realize how many women in this industry are not being treated as people and are being treated as objects. I’m going to be myself and I’m not trying to cater to someone’s image or stereotype.

What would you say your spirit animal is and why?

I think I’m a butterfly. I think in my heart that’s why this album is about freedom because I like flying and I like movements and I like growth. I love the caterpillar symbolism.

8 FREE MUSIC-MAKING IPHONE APPS
April 15, 2016 9:00 am

Everybody likes music, but not everybody can make it all by themselves. Well that’s okay, because technology has the answer! Here are a few solid apps:

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Soundprism App

Tonepad: Picture a 16 x 16 matrix, each point representing a note in the pentatonic scale. Time is horizontal, pitch is vertical, and the instrument is a cool, muted synth, pure and serene. The program cycles through the matrix like clockwork, a measure of music before repeating. Couldn’t be simpler! Start with a blank slate and build your masterpiece from the ground up, or shuffle everything around and take it from there. Go crazy! You can even flip or rotate the matrix, just to see what happens. Sounds totally different, right? Weird! Notable downsides include ads (yuck!) and just the fact that it’s pretty basic when you think about it. Not sure how it got on this list. [3/10]

Beatwave: Boy, do I wish I had known about this little gem before bothering with that last one. Beatwave totally blows Tonepad out of the water. Not only can you add a drums to the matrix, but you can layer that onto the synths for a richer texture, and you can string along different sections all in a row, just like in a real song. Reorder those verses and/or choruses however you see fit. It’s intuitive, musically stimulating and ad-free. Now we’re talking! [6/10]

Figure: Where Tonepad and Beatwave are calm and linear, Figure is an energetic and versatile EDM paradise. Start with a highly customizable beat, throw down a phat bassline and solo on top with the lead synth. Each instrument’s tone, range and rhythm can be tailored to any passing fancy, along with the global tempo, key and tonality, so your only limit is your imagination. Isn’t that just life though? [8/10]

Auxy: This is a lot like the first two in it’s loop/matrix dynamic, but it requires a little more technical knowledge. You might be able to get a handle on Beatwave more easily, but in the long run you can do more with Auxy. Jeez how many of these are we gonna get?  [7/10]

Soundprism: This one is a mindfuck, no doubt about it. We’ve navigated beyond the “oh this is nifty” plane and are now firmly entrenched in the “I’m writing The Great American MIDI arrangement” state of being. Look pal, if I’m making serious music for other people to hear for real, I’m not doing it on something I downloaded onto my phone. Ableton, Pro Tools, Logic, or get the fuck outta here (sorry Garageband).

That said, this app is absolutely amazing. It’s like a whole new kind of instrument. Like how with an accordion you get one hand playing the bass chords and then the other playing the melody on a keyboard, except the “keyboard” here is another matrix of chords, and you can modulate between them by cycling through the color-coded modes. Rows are arranged by thirds to create triads, leading columns to represent pitch and therefore inversions (it makes sense when you try it, I promise). Musically intricate yet intuitive and engaging. Forget what I said before about not making serious music on my phone–this shit is for real. [9/10]  

Launchpad: This little number is just a simplified DJ pad (and by “simplified” I mean “still very complicated but just not as expensive”). Mix and match a huge number of preset loops to create a cacophony of EDM madness (or, you know, whatever). Similar to the last one in that you can do a whole lot of serious musical stuff with this, but just not as original. A well-executed substitute for expensive hardware. [8/10]

Groovemaker: I don’t even wanna start with this one. Picture blacklights and glowsticks. You can do some cool mixing/looping/waiting-for-the-bass-to-drop kinda stuff here, but the music itself is pretty lame. [4/10]

Garageband: I know I was talking shit about Garageband earlier, but it came from a place of love. Garageband was, is and will always be a great place to start making music. Almost as serious a DAW as the rest of them, and already installed on every Apple product you own, you really should check it out if you haven’t already. I’ll give it an honest rating here (don’t wanna make Soundprism feel bad), but in my heart it’s a 10. Always has been, always will be. [6/10]

ANDY FRASCO IS ROCK & ROLL
April 7, 2016 12:00 pm

Andy Frasco is living proof that if you really, really want to be something, you should just go out and be it. Live it, create it, experience it—whatever it is just go do it, and do it right goddamn now. Put enough of your life into something and it will return the favor. Inspiring? Certainly. Intimidating? Probably. Difficult? I asked him myself, and he told me what it takes:

“Yeah, I do two hundred and fifty shows a year. For the last ten years.”

No one said this would be easy.

“I’ve lived in a van like ten fucking years. I started when I was 18 and I’m 28 now. I was my own booking agent for five years, cold-calling venues, bullshitting my ass off.”

Frasco started his touring career by hiring new musicians in each new city he played. He’d find them on craigslist, rehearse a bit (maybe), and then just go for it.

“It taught me how to be a frontman, to conduct a band, learn how to write solid three/four-chord songs that anyone can hang with. Throw a party. Tell the drummer four-on-the-floor, gimme a one-two on the bass, and I’ll entertain these fucking people. I’ll crowd surf, whatever. I look up to the Frank Sinatras of the world, the James Browns; it’s all about the live show. You can have listeners by getting a song on the radio, but if you want fans you gotta make sure your live show is the shit and that they come back every year. A lot of these bands are so into their hair or their fucking flannel, super pretentious. No, music is
supposed to be here for fun. You gotta live in the moment. We’re trying to bring rock & roll back. People are scared to crowd surf, do drugs on stage, get kicked out of bars and stuff. But that just raises your rep.”
Andy-Frasco-and-the-UN-photo-by-Morgan-Demeter-Now, remember that he does this for ten months out of the year, every single year, for ten years and counting. One recent flier dubbed him “Mr. Human Cocaine” (which I admit is rough, but fair). Over time he has assembled a huge network of musicians and related personnel throughout the country, the best of which he hand picked for his now-permanent band, The U.N.

“Me and my eight piece band, we live in a van down by the river. Everybody’s from a different city. My goal was to get the alpha-males, the fucking rock star of each town, and then we all join a band.”

The approach seems to have paid off. Andy Frasco and the U.N. have a great understanding and appreciation for the live-show experience. They exude an outrageous energy and have earned a solid following because of it.

“We played with this hippie band The String Cheese Incident, and also Umphrey’s McGee. We’re in the jam scene, like four hour sets and stuff. That’s one thing about the jam scene, they really appreciate music and they’ll stick with you. If you give them energy, they will fucking stay.”

This flexibility—playing an epic, four-hour jam as naturally as a tight, forty-minute set—is uncommonly awesome, and it reflects Frasco’s varied experiences and continuing ambition. When I asked what’s next for the band, he laid out an elaborate, month-long European tour, to be followed immediately by three additional months of touring the U.S. (beginning at NYC’s Rockwood on May 11th and continuing through the end of July). I defy you to identify a harder working band than Andy Frasco and the U.N. They hail from all over the country and travel all over the world. Their music is a vehicle for their insane energy, and it bleeds through no matter what they play or where they play it. But through this rock & roll chaos, a consistent theme shines through: it’s all about the music.

How does he keep this going year after year after year?

“I mean, how badly do you want something?”

ROLLIN’ WITH BANDITS AT SXSW
March 30, 2016 11:11 am

We sat down with Denver’s very own BANDITS at SXSW, discussing their influences, their destructive stage antics, and their van.

So, how long have you guys been here at SXSW?

Lulu: This is our second… third day.

Andrew: Third day.

And you tour a lot too, right?

John: Yep

L: Yeah, we’re pretty… we’re on the road a lot.

A: We’ve been on the road for about… in the last month we’ve been home for about five days. We went from Denver all the way out to New York City and back–in like a two-and-a-half week tour–then had a couple days off and then toured our way down here.

What’s the longest tour you’ve ever done?

J: I think that one actually. Like two weeks.

L: Yeah we like to keep them sporadic. Go home for a couple days in between, regroup.

A: This way we can do them a lot.

Do you like touring?

L: Oh yeah.

J: I love touring. Being on the road is the best part. You just get to see a new city every night, and you get to experience the culture everywhere. You get to play in front of new people all the time.

A: It’s great when all you have to do is focus on just going and playing music every night. You just kinda get into that zone, and that’s where you wanna be as a musician.

What’s your least favorite part of touring?

J: Well, loading in and out kinda sucks, but it’s mostly fun.

L: I would say my least favorite part is driving for so long. I get sore from sitting in the van for like nine and a half hours at a time. But it’s not that bad.

A: I think the hardest part is trying to stay healthy and sleep well and eat well and not get sick. It’s definitely a physical struggle.

banditYou’re up late every night?

J: Oh yeah, up ’til like three, four in the morning.

And then you gotta hop in the van next day?

L: For like nine hours, yeah.

Shit. Do you have a name for the van?

L: Not really.

J: We had a few of them, one of them was “Nelson Vandela.”

A: Yeah that’s a good one

J: We made a Facebook post of what to name it, and that’s what we got.

L: We’ve never been like “everyone to the… whatever.”

“To the mystery machine!”

L: It’s just our van.

So you guys do a lot of social media outreach or crowdsourcing and shit?

J: Yeah, I mean we post every day on Facebook.

You got to, right? Welcome to 2016.

L: And then Twitter and Instagram. I mean we do it, we do a good job staying in touch with our fans. That’s the easiest way to talk to them and know what they’re thinking or feeling about everything.

Do you find it difficult to stay active, stay relevant, stay involved with the fans to have that kind of relationship?

J: Yeah, sometimes. I think also when you’re absent on Facebook for a few days it really helps people stay interested in what you’re doing. Not posting all the time…just exclusive stuff.

That’s cool. So, you guys play pretty heavy rock. You remind me of the classics, some Sabbath, some classic rock type situations. Do you have modern influences as well?

L: I would say we have a lot of modern influences. We listen to so much when we’re sitting in the van for nine hours that we take in a lot and are always bringing it back to rehearsal. Like, ‘how can we use this, how can we use that.’ But I would say Queens of the Stone Age are a big influence, The Kills, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Tame Impala, we listen to a lot of hip hop that also comes into play.

Really? How do you find that the hip hop effects your music? 

A: I think more than anything… well, definitely the groove and the beat because hip hop drums comes from the same place as rock drums, and the rhythms are the same. But I think also the attitude, a lot of the time. You could say that about any music though.

J: Yeah definitely the attitude.

What would you say is your biggest influence that I wouldn’t expect? bandit2

L: I’d say Biggie. We loves Biggie.

J: Just the whole attitude thing there.

How far is it from here to Denver?

L: Like a sixteen hour drive. It’s not great.

Who drives the most?

L: John.

J: I’m kind of a control freak, I like to drive a lot.

L: John likes to drive.

Would you say you’re the best driver?

J: Well, I don’t know.

L: No. [laughter]

J: I’d say Lulu’s the best.

L: I’m the most cautious driver.

A: I’m the best with the trailer. If you gotta back a trailer into something, I got it.

J: But if you wanna get there in maybe eight hours less, let me drive.

A: If you want somebody to drive a hundred miles an hour the whole time, not give a shit…

Law be damned, just go for it.

J: We listen to a lot of Motörhead when we drive that fast.

Yeah, that’s good for driving. Anything else? Any other music in the van?

A: Oh man, there are so many. We’re all over the place. We’ve been listening to a lot of Dr John

J: Lot of Iggy, his new album

A: And his old albums…

L: I love to listen to Portishead and nobody else ever wants to listen to it.

When you’re driving though that’s up to you.

L: Yeah. The Roots, listened to them on the way down here. Tame Impala’s new album

J: Humble Pie.

A: The Arcs, all that new Dan Auerbach stuff, that’s really good stuff. We listen to that a lot.

Do you guys write songs in the car? 

L: I don’t think we’ve ever done that. It’s not the most inspirational place to be.

J: I’ve thought about words and stuff, but…

Who writes most of the lyrics?

J: We split it up usually, and then we’ll bring it into practice.

How do you start a song?

J: Well usually it’s a riff or something. I usually just sit down with the guitar and noodle.

Have fun until something materializes?

J: Yeah and then we put words to that, bring the song to practice, and then kind of develop it from there.

So you start with it and then the group kinda builds off of it?

J: Yeah either me or Lulu will start, and then we’ll bring it to Andrew and all converge.

L: Yeah, we’ll keep developing ideas.

Which of your songs would you say best encapsulates your sound?

J: That’s a hard question to answer because a lot of our songs have different vibes.

L: I would say our band has kind of a dual personality, because John and I split up being lead singers, and I think that’s why our new 7″ is so good. We’re gonna be releasing a vinyl in a couple weeks, and it has my single where I’m the singer and it’s a different vibe.

J: Yeah there’s two different vibes going on, which is kinda cool.

What’s your favorite song to play on stage?

A: I mean we always… The closer song of our set usually has a big, like, jam section at the end where we get really quiet and then build it up really big. It’s a little more psychedelic and gets really heavy at the end, and that one’s always really fun because it’s the end of the set.

L: That one’s always really fun.

J: Yeah I think I’d say that one.

Do you guys try to give off a certain vibe on stage? A personality?

J: Definitely. I mean, we’re just a very, very high-energy band. We kinda have to be because our music is so aggressive…

L: We want our crowd to know that it’s okay to dance around.

J: And that we enjoy the music. I don’t like going to see bands and then they just stand there. Especially for a rock and roll, you know.

L: We wanna go crazy, we wanna get rowdy.

Do you get the crowds to mosh or anything?

J: We’ve had a few moshes…

I mean, they happen on their own. You don’t have to be like ‘hey excuse me’…

L: ‘Hey excuse me, can you start moshing down there? Thank you.’

J: There was one show we played in Lincoln, Nebraska that was the last day of our tour and we weren’t expecting anybody to be there, and then it was a packed room of 300 people, going fucking crazy.

L: Crazy, stage diving and stuff. We were like, what? What is Nebraska?

Yeah, I wouldn’t have expected that.

A: We were moshing ourselves the other night. The first night we were here we went and saw the OCs and few other bands, we played some shows with them back in Denver so we know them, and we were just moshing in the front. I got hit in the head. It was awesome.

What’s your craziest partying on stage, head-banging, ‘oh I hit my head’ kind of story?

J: Oh, I mean we always knock–I knock over everything.

L: John, yeah, he knocks everything over. But I think injury-wise, John has hit both Andrew and I with his head stock so many times. It’s the worst.

That’s dangerous.

J: There was one show I remember, I don’t know what I was doing, we were obviously all drinking quite a bit. I was down on the ground and I got up and just fell into the drumset, passed out almost. I didn’t really realize what had happened.

A: There was one show where you just kept knocking over a drum of mine, like in the middle of a set, kept knocking it over, and so I ended up playing the rest of the set with just a kick and a snare and a high hat because everything else was all over the place.

You’re not gonna change in the middle of a song, not gonna try to fix it. 

A: Yeah I was like ‘just go with it.’ There was another show where John had his amps stacked up on each other, and at the end of the night he knocked both of them over and then chucked his guitar at the wall. He almost hit me in the head, like, the guitar was this far from my face.

L: Literally going straight for his head.

Did you break it? You break your guitar?

J: No it was completely fine! It was a hollow body too, I was expecting it to be, like, snapped in half, but…

A: And the amps were both fine.

L: Lucky.

You guys go through instruments or equipment?

J: Not at all.

L: I mean, you would think that we would. I definitely get nervous about it. John knocks over so much stuff, like my keyboard–the volume knob doesn’t work anymore because John’s knocked it over so many times.

A: Every single show John knocks that thing over. He has a vendetta against it, I think he just hates it.

L: One of these days we’re gonna be out on tour and my keyboard’s gonna break for real and then I won’t have one.

And then that’s it.

L: And then that’s it, and then our band is done and we’ll quit forever.

Hopefully you don’t do that. One last question–what’s next? You guys on tour still?

J: So after SXSW we’re gonna go home, we’re gonna go into the studio and just record everything we got, and we’ll kinda just see what happens from there. Then we got a lot of shows coming up in April, and then May we’re gonna be releasing our 7″, so lots of stuff.

L: Hopefully we tour some more. We’re gonna be doing a lot of touring over the summer and the fall.

Well good luck with that, looking forward to it.

L: Thanks so much.

Thanks for the interview, do you mind if we take a quick selfie?

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POST-SXSW ARNDTERVIEW
March 29, 2016 11:11 am

Sibling rock stars Jocelyn & Chris Arndt took their soulful, hook-laden blues/rock sound to this year’s SXSW. I caught up with them at Austin’s Handlebar and discussed Harvard, Ocean’s Eleven and life on the road.


arndtSo is this your first SXSW?

Jocelyn: Yes, yes it is.

How do you like it so far?

J: It’s crazy but awesome. Crazy awesome.

How many shows have you had?

J: We had one yesterday…

Chris: We had three yesterday, then one today and one tomorrow.

Damn, not too bad for your first time.

C: [laughter] No no, not at all

Well that’s just fantastic. Now, you guys are from New York, right?

J: Upstate New York. We’re from Fort Plain which is an hour west of Albany.

Okay, so right in the middle of nowhere.

J: [laughter] Yep, right there.

That’s awesome. And you just released an album about a month ago, right? Are you happy with it?

J: Yes, very much so. It’s called Edges, and it’s our first full length, which is a big deal. We’re freaking out.

Well of course. How many… “half lengths” have you had?

C: Just one.

J: We did an EP, but yeah this time we really got to sink our teeth in.

And you got some momentum going into SXSW. Are you on tour? Is this a stop on a tour?

C: Yeah, we came down from New York, we were in Cleveland, and then Chattanooga and Nashville, then Arkansas and then Houston. Actually Dallas, not Houston.

Somewhere in Texas. It all runs together.

C: …and then we’re gonna work our way back up next week.

Back up to… upstate?

C: Yeah.

What’s your favorite part of touring?

J: [thinks for a moment] I like knowing that every night we’re gonna be somewhere different, which is weird because I feel like some people would be like ‘oh my god another 8 hours in the car,’ but it’s kinda nice to be able to travel with the music and know that no matter where you are you get to play a set but then you get to go somewhere else.

So you get that time to explore, that’s cool. What do you do on the road? Who drives?

J: Our drummer, who’s also our producer…

C: And our manager…

Oh, multitalented.

J: Yeah he does most of–well, all of the driving.

Yeah I was gonna say, it’s not just you two. How does that work? Who writes the songs?

J: We both write together.

Which is good because you have that family bond, you work off each other. Who’s older? I can’t really tell.

C: [laughter] She is.

No way!

C: [shows x’s on hands] I’m not even 21.

Get the fuck outta here!

J: …and I just turned 21.

Oh wow, well welcome to adulthood–or something. Whatever that means. Do you have a favorite city that you’ve been to on tour?

J: I really really like Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Wow, that’s random but cool.

J: It’s random. We stopped there once, I think we had played in Nashville and then they were like ‘oh this seems like a good place to do another show.’ We stopped there and now every time we’re down south we make sure we go there because people come out and really really support us.

C: The music scene there is amazing.

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And then they know you now kind of. Do you have a good following up in Albany?

C: Yeah we do well in Albany.

J: We play the city (NYC) a lot too

Of course, that makes sense. Where in the city?

J: We played the Bitter End, we played the Slipper Room…

C: We played Rockwood a lot.

Rockwood is where it’s at. They don’t fuck around–if you’re bad they don’t invite you back.

C: Yeah they’re awesome.

So you guys write together? How does that work?

J: I do the lyrics and melody, and then Chris does the chords the rhythm.

Who goes first? Do you start with the chords and then build off that, or…

C: Depends on the song, really. Sometimes she’ll come up with something and might be like ‘I need chords,’ other times I’ll go to her with a chord pattern I really like and she’ll have lyrics and we’ll sort of fit them together.

But it’s just you two, not the drummer/producer/manager.

J: Nope, just us.

And you have a bassist?

J: We have a bassist as well, Eric.

But he’s just a random dude.

J: Yeah I mean we met him in Albany.

C: He’s a student and an awesome dude.

How do you meet these people? School?

J: Through our manager, he’s the one with the contact.

How did you meet him? How’d you get started, you just started playing?

J: We had a high school band. We’ve been doing this for a long time. This was our high school job–a great job, better than most high school jobs. We had a band called The Dependents, and we’d play, like, fairs and stuff, and we were playing at the beer tent at the local fair and this guy came up and slipped us a card and said ‘Hey I like your sound.’

And you were like ‘thanks me too’?

J: [laughter] Yeah, and he turned out to be David. You never know who’s listening.

You never know! That’s why you just gotta play everywhere, see everyone, expand your audience and shit. That’s awesome. That was in high school, like five years ago?

J: Three or four.

Oh right you’re young as fuck, I forgot. Well okay. And you’ve been slowly building since then?

C: It was kind of slow for the first couple years.

J: Well first you gotta build a foundation.

C: We were working on a sound and stuff, and then this past like year and a half things have been ramping up super fast, so it’s pretty awesome.

What’s the best part of that so far?

C: Oh man.

J: I like the fact that we have a new CD, that’s a huge plus for me.

C: That’s pretty exciting. I honestly like just…

Just being a rock star?

C: Yeah it’s cool. When I was in high school it never even occurred to me that because of our music we would get to travel to California and Texas and Nashville and Michigan or wherever, and now we’re going all over the country and probably going to Canada and maybe the UK all with our music.

Whoa, whoa, slow down there!

J: It would be cool. You gotta have goals.

Well that’s fantastic. Do you guys have day jobs? Or is this it?

C: Just this.

LADYGUNN-160318_JOCELYN-CHRIS-ARNDT_SXSW_001You save up and then go on tour and stuff….

J: Well we also go to College.

Oh really? Where?

J: We both go to Harvard.

Fuck you guys! No way! [laughter] I’ve heard of it, I’ve heard of it.

J: But this is definitely our job, job.

Holy shit. Okay, so you’re both at Harvard. Currently.

J: [gestures to self] Junior, [gestures to Chris] sophomore.

What are you studying? Music?

C: I’m joint music and computer science.

J: I’m English but these days it’s mostly music, so…

Well that helps with lyrics too, right? Do you find you draw inspiration from your studies?

J: Yeah, a little bit definitely. And people. Everybody around us. You know, basically everything.

There are some smart people there. What do you think of Harvard?

J: It’s fun. I’ll tell you– SXSW is probably a little more fun. [laughter]

Yeah maybe a little. And the weather is nicer. What are you, on spring break right now?

J: Yeah.

Do you go on tour during the school year?

C: We do. We go weekends, we skip Monday and Friday–not every Monday and Friday but…

How do you…. I mean you go to Harvard, shouldn’t you be focused on Harvard?

C: That’s what some people say but, like, I kinda like music, you know? [laughter]

J: The other thing is, as long as we can do both we’re gonna do both. But if it comes down to Harvard or music, Harvard’s not going anywhere. Music is our thing, so…

How do you like the Cambridge/Boston area?

C: It’s a cool place to live. It’s pretty awesome.

J: Yeah it’s like New York’s friendlier, shorter cousin.

Friendlier… sometimes.

C: It feels less aggressive when you’re there. New York is a very “kill or be killed” vibe.

J: New York also literally never sleeps, as they say. Nothing ever turns off. Boston is like ‘midnight, better get on the last T or else you’re stuck.’

Do you play around Boston? Or around campus?

J: We haven’t a ton.

C: We honestly haven’t that much, we’re gonna start doing so more and more, but we’ve been really focused on New York, Nashville and LA for the past year.

jocelyn+&+chris+arndt-3
How do you like LA?

C: LA is awesome, the music scene is so great. We played The Viper Room, which was insane. But yeah, we’re starting to do pretty well in those three cities so we’re gonna branch out. But this is our first time in Texas.

And you like it?

J: Yeah we like it. We’re gonna come back.

Do you have any plans for today or tonight?

J: We don’t have a show tonight, not ’til tomorrow. So we’re still weighing our options.

Do you run into trouble playing venues underage?

C: Most of the time they’re just like ‘you can’t hang out beforehand, you can’t hang out afterwards, wait by the door while I get a marker to mark your hands.’ So it’s a little annoying. Vegas is kind of… [laughter] It was fun playing Vegas but they were like ‘you’re allowed to be on the casino floor as long as you don’t stand still.’

J: You can’t look at anything, you obviously can’t drink anything. I felt bad for the little bro.

C: But they let us play music, which is the most important thing.

Where did you play in Vegas?

J: We played this place the Sand Dollar

C: And then a place called… 

J: We did an open mic thing at the Beat Coffeehouse.

C: Yeah that was cool, it’s like a coffee house slash wine bar slash brewery slash record store.

J: Which is basically all the bases to cover.

Yeah that’s everything you need. Plus it’s Vegas, so…

J: Yeah we got to walk around, see the Bellagio, pretend we’re in Ocean’s Eleven.

C: Except, you know, we hadn’t just stolen a hundred and sixty four million dollars.

You can tell me if you have, I won’t tell anyone.

C: No, I mean I wish we had [laughter].

Anything else you would like to tell me/the world?

J: Check out the new album, it’s called Edges, it’s online, out now, bandcamp, iTunes, the works.

And you guys are continuing your tour?

J: Yeah this one wasn’t super long, we’re going… where are we going? Alabama on Saturday, then Cleveland…

C: Saturday morning we wake up early, Alabama, Cleveland and then we’re back.

J: We just pushed to radio, so the next couple weeks we’ll be doing that.

Playing at stations and shit?

C: We’re doing that, we’re playing a festival in Roanoke, and then the Florida Music Festival, and then between those it’s like every weekend we can we’re gonna be playing. And then a lot of radio stations.

Well that’s awesome, we’ll tune in to all those things. One last thing–can I get a selfie with you guys?

J: Yeah, sure!

C: Can we get one with you?

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INTRODUCING CRUISR
February 12, 2016 10:42 am

Philly’s done it again, folks! The bro love city’s vibrant indie scene has popped out another killer band: CRUISR. Tight, poppy, and infested with earworms, the group’s self-titled album made major waves on its release last fall. Check it out:

Not too shabby, CRUISR. Other accomplishments (aside from these gnarly tracks) include playing Firefly, Hangout Fest, and the Budweiser Made in America Festival, touring with The 1975, and opening for Imagine Dragons, Bleachers, and Joywave, to name a few. The band has not announced any upcoming shows, but I’m sure they’re just hanging around Philly doing whatever it is people do, so be sure to stay in the loop. You don’t want to miss them.

CARROLL SUMMONS PSYCHEDELIC VIBES IN PHILLY
November 2, 2015 12:02 am

It was a drizzly, damp evening. The Boot & Saddle is a cosey South Philly music venue that bring in a wide range of indie upstarts befitting its intimate setting. Carroll is a Minneapolis four-piece that creates gentle, lush sound collages tinged with swirls of mild psychedelia. The quaint stage a perfect platform to usher in their debut self-titled album and kick off a brief tour of the East Coast.

keys1Carroll are a young band and you can tell. They haven’t gotten all of the nerves out yet, there are some hesitancies, nervous fidgeting, minor nuances in their stage presence. To be fair, I’ve always found the smaller crowds make it tougher to get into your groove. Large crowds are so all-encompassing- insignificant little ants. Smaller audiences are a nerve-racker, brings you back to classroom stage-freight. There’s nothing covering up even the most trivial imperfection, missed note, belting out a line in the wrong key. None of this mattered though, Carrol’s sound mirage was spectacular.

Colorful interlocking guitars. Vibrant vocal harmonies. Swift, punchy drums that gave the music an energetic punch. Waves of deep, robust bass- filling out the hazey soundscape. They played through the highlights from their new album no particular order, and also threw in a few bonus concoctions. All in all a solid set. Each song had a new and unexpected transition, rewarding avid listeners with a fresh dynamic.

This promising new band is traveling across the country to rile up hype for an album they’d put countless hours into, and that passion and genuine love to entertain spews out.  Definitely catch them if they come through your city.

I got a chance to ask Carroll’s bassist, Charles McClung, a few questions prior to their show, discuss the origin of the name “Carroll”, transplanting from the outskirts of Minneapolis to Philly, and the nervous energy associated with a new album. Here’s what he had to say:

So we know the name Carroll is derived from the Iconic Minneapolis hot spot, what brought you to name your band after that?

We named the band after the avenue in St. Paul where Brian and Charlie started the band. In our own way, we made it a hot spot, although I doubt anyone else would consider it such.

I looked up name “Carroll” online, it’s a surname, Irish in origin, meaning “manly” or “champion”…so you guys believe you’re “manly champions”?!  

We would be very hesitant to call ourselves manly champions.

You guys are picking steam in Minneapolis and you’re summoned to record an album out here in Philly. What was that like?  

It’s funny you use the word “summoned”! We definitely learned a thing or two about the art of summoning from that experience; namely, summoning the psychedelic vibes from within!

How does that compare to the Northern Wilderness?

On a more serious note, it was definitely a rad experience to leave the Twin Cities to record in a totally different creative environment out here in Philadelphia. Some of us liked it enough to move out here, actually. Both cities are special places.

Recording tracks in a studio environment versus recording demos out in the woods are very different experiences. I think we have an affinity for both domains, though. Disparate inspirations come into play.

Apparently you guys recorded the album in 18 days–did you guys actually get to check out the city?  Or were you locked up in the studio the entire time?

You can fit a lot into 18 days, as it turns out! We were able to finish tracking and get a feel for the city as a whole during that recording session. Some days were more stressful than others, both in and out of the studio. From Max taking his sweet time dialing in guitar tones to Charles getting lost in South Philadelphia looking at murals… it was a fun time.

Are you looking forward to returning to Philly and playing the Boot & Saddle?  Philly’s a pretty fun crowd, right?!?

Yeah, Philadelphians are a hoot. We actually just peeped Here We Go Magic at Boot & Saddle earlier this week, and we’re excited to get back in there!

How was it working with Jon Low (who’s produced Kurt Vile, The War On Drugs, The National, and many more) you must have been absolutely floored.

Jon Low is a wizard. But he’s not the only one. See www.shatteredorb.net for evidence.

Releasing a record is a major milestone for any up-and-coming band. Are you more anxious or excited about rolling out your self-titled second record? It sounds amazing by the way- as if my opinion counted for anything.

Thank you so much! Your opinion totally counts, don’t sell yourself short! Although we are generally an anxious bunch, I think that it would be the wrong adjective to describe our view on our record. We’re proud of it and happy that it’s out in the world now.

SAY YES TO WAY YES
October 22, 2015 10:02 am

Founded in 2010 in Columbus, Ohio Way Yes has been making waves.  Starting with their 7inch release Oranjudiosoon after an EP Walkability, lastly they released Tog Pebbles in 2013.  They claim on their Facebook info that ‘the band set out to create feel good music with a dark twist.’ and they did just that.  This dark, wispy yet electro-pop sounding four piece paints the picture of addiction and suicide dancing together on a Saturday night.

If I could choose a close cousin to their sound, I would have to say it is a good mix of Panda Bear and Animal Collectives sound.  Both musically and vocally, as it seems the singer has a wide array of vocal techniques and fast moving music to back generally every track.

Tog Pebbles took a minute to grow on me (so did Feels by Animal Collective) but proves to be one of those albums to keep around for good.  It houses the same clever antics of both aforementioned bands such as singing about darker and deeper things while making the listener feel happy at the same time.  A way to alleviate painful memories in a seemingly non-painful way.  Ultimately the BEST part of this album is the lyrics which are available on their bandcamp page.  The song that hits me right in the feels is called “Bloodline” in which the lyrics:

“Wish I could say that I knew ya,
Back before you were gone.
Wish I could say that I knew ya,
When you had your head on

But there’s a demon in the blood line,
That slowly ate away your mind.
A demon in the blood line,
That makes you no family of mine. ”

I have always been intrigued by the power music like this holds, and the contrast of emotions that it evokes. It’s something I’ve never personally been able to recreate so it drives me crazy in the best possible way.  I will have this album on repeat and be using some of these lyrics as a status sometime very soon.  Listen to Way Yes as soon as you’re near speakers!

KURT VILE: YOU BETTER B’LIEVE IT
October 7, 2015 12:06 pm

You wake up in the morning and stand in front of your bathroom sink. You look in the mirror and don’t recognize who you see staring back at you. You forget what day of the week it is, laughing at yourself and your absentmindedness. Your reflection is a stranger, one whose teeth you brush and hair you don’t comb. You recognize your body from the clothes it has on, not for the mind inside. You question everything. You continue your life without identity or a solid sense of self.

Such is the narrative of Kurt Vile‘s “Pretty Pimpin,” the opening song and first single from his new album b’lieve i’m goin down. I have to admit I’ve listened to this song probably a hundred and fifty times since it came out two weeks ago, and I’m still digging into it like a heaping bucket of mama’s famous garlic tots (with ALL the trimmings). Something about Vile’s irreverent tone of voice (as he sings about the “stranger” in his mirror) is fascinating to me; he seems to be truly indifferent to his predicament. He knows he’s forgotten himself and he’s okay with it. He’s gotten used to it. He does it every day of the week.

Maybe I’m crazy, but my heart goes aflutter whenever Vile sings the word “Tuesday.” I know it’s not traditionally such an evocative word, but it gets me every time. I, too, forget what day of the week it is. It’s how he drags out the word until just before the snare hit, emphasizing his uncertainty without disrupting the song’s driving rhythmic pulse or the conversational nature of his singing. It’s very subtle. But it’s there. Every Tuesday.

But hey, there are plenty of tots in this bucket. He alternates between the third and first person, towing the line between himself and the “stranger” in the mirror. He switches from “man” to “boy” at the end of the song, as if reverting to a childhood version of himself. That part about being 1000 miles away? Probably relevant, can’t say for sure. But it’s definitely provocative. Dip it in ketchup and feed it to the dog, mama doesn’t mind! Even the video is poignant and revealing, with alternate versions of himself slowly surrounding him and his daily routine. Everything, really, is geared toward questioning identity and the perception of one’s self. Really makes you think, doesn’t it?

The rest of the album shares a similar introspective theme. “Life Like This” takes a more grounded approach, but still looks inward for inspiration. “Wild Imagination” is both literal and etherial, a patient, otherworldly endeavor. “I’m an Outlaw” is pretty straightforward: he’s an outlaw. But the same hypnotic, twangy energy drives them all forward, deeper into Vile’s enigmatic psyche. Very delicous, would highly recommend.

Kurt Vile is currently on tour, playing in New York tonight at Webster Hall. He’ll be in the US throughout October, Europe in November, and Australia in January. Check him out! Go do it right now!