Tuesday, September 30, 2008, 02:06 PM ( 2456 views ) - Interviews - Posted by AdministratorI talked with 2/3rds of Israel’s Monotonix before their sold out show in Seattle. Ami Shalev, singer and Yonatan Gat, guitarist and I sat down in front of the Comet Tavern on Saturday night. Passersby chatted them up. We gained a fellow-interviewer. A hotdog vendor did brisk business and a fire truck raced by.
The hard-rocking, hard-touring trio Monotonix, including new drummer Haggai Fershtman, are probably coming to a city very near you if you live in the States or the UK. Their music and shows are genuinely awesome and you have every reason to check them out. Plus these guys have a wry sense of humor - quite a few of their responses to my questions were tongue in cheek, although I would believe these foxy guys are fighting off chicks and maybe I believe that the drummer is a good businessman.
Q: Do you ever get injured during your shows?
Yonatan Gat: I got this three weeks ago in Portland. [He points out a cut above his right eyebrow].
Q: Did you get stitches?
YG: No, we had to fly to New York so we didn’t have time.
Q: So you just toughed it out.
YG: I guess.
Ami Shalev: Nothing really serious – except I broke a shoulder.
Q: That’s pretty serious.
AS: Nah, I was in the Army.
Q: I wanted to ask you about that – I read you were a tank commander? What did that involve?
AS: Hard training, discipline, girls, mud, dust –
YG: Gourmet food. Grease. Women.
Q: That sounds pretty good.
AS: It’s a glamour job.
Q: What’s the craziest thing a fan has done?
YG: A woman?
Q: It could be a woman. Are they just crazy all the time?
AS: Yes, the girls are crazy about us. They get crazy only when they see us.
YG: Even before we were in the band, like just walking down the street.
Q: That would be awesome.
YG: I have to push them away – I walk around with a bat.
Q: A bat?
YG: A baseball bat, to scare the women away.
Q: That would work, but some of them might like that.
YG: That’s the problem.
Q: Does the audience ever get angry about anything you do while playing live?
AS: Only when we play too short. That’s the reason most of the people get angry.
Q: I can understand that.
Q: I was impressed how you calmed the crowd at Bumbershoot when the show got shut down early.
AS: Like Dan Deacon says, safety is first.
Shalev drums on the crowd - photo by Dagmar
Q: Yonatan, I came across something about you having to give up your cat?
YG: I had to give away my cat because we tour so much.
Q: Did he find a home?
YG: He’s staying with a friend of my ex-girlfriend. She likes him a lot. Did you see the picture of the cat?
Q: I did, he’s beautiful.
YG: Pretty cute. He’s very beautiful, but he’s very mean too.
[In case you're wondering, in the notice for the cat the Hebrew means inoculated and fixed.]
Q: Is it hard to find places to stay in all the cities since you tour so much?
YG: On our first tour we used to ask people after the show, hey can we crash at your house? This is the first tour we can actually afford hotels.
Q: Now you can spend your money on other things.
AS: Wait, what do you mean by that?
YG: Like for hotdogs.
AS: We’re saving the money for bad times. For the children.
[At this point a guy to see the show sits next to us. He talks about Dan Deacon to Shalev and Gat.]
Q: Do you ever lose each other?
YG: Sometimes I have no idea what our drummer is talking about.
AS: I always have no idea what he’s talking about.
[Now the guy next to us asks me to find out if they’re going to get naked for the show.]
Q: He wants to know if you’re going to get naked tonight.
YG: If you pay us. Maybe I’ll get naked if somebody pays me. How much are you willing to pay?
Q: We’d have to negotiate – I’ve only got so much money . . . Were you very musical in school?
YG: One day they had to choose people to sing for graduation, they kicked me out. Out of 60 people they chose 50 and I was one of the 10 they kicked out.
Q: That’s sad.
YG: Now I am playing a sold-out show in Seattle and I am showing them that they were wrong.
AS: I was always out of tune. Right now I’m still out of tune but . . .
[Now a fire truck races by.]
AS: Fire Marshall.
Q: They got here early. [Monotonix has actually set fires as part of their shows – so you never know.]
Gat and Fershtman seize the center of the Comet - photo by Dagmar (on stage taking this picture)
Q: Have you been able to do any sightseeing in Seattle?
YG: We went to Lake Washington.
AS: We saw Jimi Hendrix’s gave and Kurt Cobain’s house.
Q: Yonatan, do you ever get worried about what Ami is going to do next live?
YG: Only that he’s going to put a trash can on my head.
Q: I saw him do that to the drummer.
AS: He’s the victim – he’s the ultimate victim.
Q: Have you started the next cd?
YG: We’ve written a couple of songs – we’re going to record it in the spring, in San Francisco.
Q: Ami, I read an interview with David Berman where he mentions your Dad escaped the Nazis?
AS: He was in the Holocaust. He had to run away from the Nazis when he was 9 years old. He ran away from Europe. His brother was five and his sister was seven. The funny thing is that they ran away with a group of Jewish people to Iran. From Iran they came to Israel.
Q: What is it about Monotonix that’s making you so popular in the US?
AS: Our English is perfect, especially mine. I don’t know why.
YG: Our drummer is a very good businessman. This is kind of like an oxymoron – the drummer is a good businessman. It can’t be.
Q: How do you stay in shape for all this touring?
AS: We eat a lot of Little Debbie Snacks.
For more photos of their show click here.
You can also see in some of the photos how Shalev was again able to command the audience and get them to sit down on the floor of the Comet.
Gat, Me!, Shalev - September 27, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008, 04:44 PM ( 1418 views ) - Show Reviews & Photos - Posted by AdministratorI have said it before and I will say it again, Alison Goldfrapp is a goddess. For the Seattle show she was a goddess in the most adorable and sexy little harlequin outfit. She wore a dress or perhaps it was a long top with a black and white diamond pattern on it, complete with fuzzy little pompoms down the front. Her blonde hair was wild as it should have been and her feet were bare to go with the naturalistic feel of the stage set and new album, Seventh Tree. The stage had stuffed birds on it, including ravens and owls. The drum kit featured a stag's antlers across the front and what I thought may have been just a prop harp, turned out to be an actual harp and was a beautiful part of the show.
Seventh Tree's songs recall, to me, the music from Goldfrapp's Felt Mountain. It made complete aesthetic sense to have Utopia and Paper Bag on the set list – both smooth and sensual live as they are recorded. Utopia's eerie lyrics Fascist Baby/Utopia, Utopia and their high notes got perfectly matched with the beautiful Little Bird, Some People and Caravan Girl. My favorites off Seventh Tree are Monster Love and Happiness – gorgeous and positive songs.
Ooh La La off Supernature and Black Cherry's Train and Strict Machine brought the disco and dirty synth back – Goldfrapp balances the soft and the hard so well that every moment is something to savor.
Click here to check out my photos from the show!
Alison Goldfrapp, photo by Dagmar
Friday, September 12, 2008, 06:49 PM ( 802 views ) - Show Reviews & Photos - Posted by AdministratorI think this was the fifth time I have seen Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and they really were better than they’ve ever been. Few bands are this consistent in putting out great cds - I am going to come right out and say that I love this band.
There’s an equality between Peter Hayes and Robert Levon Been. It shows in their splitting songs and it’s cool to see artists share a stage in this way. Been and Hayes each had their solo moments, including Been doing a cover of Bob Dylan’s Visions of Johanna. They each have these amazing voices that you’d be lucky just to have one in a band. I was also struck by Been’s unique way of playing a bass by part of the time holding the instrument without a guitar strap – and struck by the forceful sounds.
BRMC - Photo by Dagmar
The set list was especially heavy on songs from their most recent release, Baby 81, including the beautiful Killing the Light and cracking American X and Berlin. They also did the downright racy Six Barrel Shotgun and Spread Your Love from Take Them, On Your Own and B.R.M.C., respectively. A few songs from Howl made an appearance – I particularly liked the bluesy Shuffle Your Feet and Ain’t No Easy Way.
Drummer Nick Jago has left the band, but they’ve now got Leah Shapiro from Denmark – she’s toured recently with the Raveonettes and is an explosive presence. The Showbox was a perfect venue for their deviant rock. It’s got a sultry vibe to it that fits the way BRMC combines their acoustic and electric songs. The show ended with an encore including the always exquisite Whatever Happened to My Rock 'n' Roll (Punk Song) from B.R.M.C.
To see more photos from the show click here: BRMC at the Showbox, 2008.
Monday, September 8, 2008, 06:39 PM ( 611 views ) - Interviews - Posted by Administrator-This interview appeared originally on Little Radio.-
The Presets are an electronic/pop duo from Sydney, Australia. They just released Apocalypso, their follow-up to 2006’s Beams – both cds are excellent - and are set to tour the States in September and October with fellow Australians, Cut Copy.
I talked to the Presets’ drummer and co-writer, Kim Moyes from London. Moyes has a fantastic sense of humor and even answered some of my stranger questions about Cane Toads and masks.
Q: So you’re in London? I noticed you have a lot of shows there.
Kim Moyes: We just did a festival yesterday called Get Loaded and then we did another one called Creamfields. We’re kind of in London all the time and jet-setting around, doing festivals in Europe.
Q: You travel a lot. Do you have any pets at home?
K.M.: No. A girlfriend – a very patient girlfriend. I’m not that cruel to get pets. I suppose she could look after them but I don’t know how well she’d do.
Q: Were both of you (in the Presets) fans of Pet Shop Boys?
K.M.: Yeah, we still are. We weren’t sort of obsessive fans. I think we like what they do in terms of pop music. They’re really quite camp – and there’s one guy, you don’t really know what he does. They’ve always kind struck of as kind of weird and they’ve always had crazy video clips and flamboyant shows.
Q: How come you two weren’t wrestling in the milk in the video for This Boy’s in Love?
K.M.: We were meant to be standing in purgatory or something seeing these two people fighting. I don’t know why weren’t in it – that’s just the way the treatment came through.
Q: It’s a great video. Did it take a long time to get rid of all that dust you had flying all over you?
K.M.: It did actually – at least three showers and a couple of antihistamines.
Q: How did you find the director, Caspar Balslev?
K.M. He was great – like all directors they come in to the shoot and they’re really excited and then they get into this crazy detail about what’s going to happen and it gets a bit lost on you when you’re not a filmmaker or whatever. They’re all very passionate about what they’re doing and love to tell you about it. It’s all going over your head but you’re like, that sounds pretty cool.
Q: I don’t know how often you still use them in shows, but they’re have been a few pix of you guys in masks. Are there ones you seek out or is it a coincidence?
K.M.: The mask thing just kind of happened when we were waiting to pick up our girlfriends in Byron Bay and they were coming in on a plane about an hour later than us. So we went into this shop – it was like a fancy dress store – and they had these masks. They were just these plastic, clear masks with features on them – but if you put them on it kind of looks like you, but like a weird, older version. That was the first time we ever used them. The guy who does all of our artwork, Jonathan Zawada kind of saw that and ran with it. He’s really into skulls and masks and really exotic, weird and wonderful looking stuff. He got some masks for our first album cover and then it sort of developed into the second album cover, where a piece of bark became a mask and I was dressed up like a pumpkin. I’ve got some friends who go to parties dressed up and they really go out of their way to do really strange things when they go out. I guess people like Lee Bowery – those people from the 80s – you know, like Party Monster with Macaulay Culkin? It’s based on this whole New York dance scene and there was this really famous guy called Lee Bowery and he had this costume that would zip up over his face. He’d make these masks that were kind of like gimp masks but really elaborate, really colorful. We’ve got friends who are really into that kind of stuff. We’re always getting inspired by them.
Q: I like that. That’s cool . . . so Byron Bay, you did the second album there?
K.M.: A friend of ours has a farm. We’d been doing so much touring so we went up there to get away from all the distractions and make a start on the new record. We kind of had a mini-holiday and switched on the creative brain after all that touring. It gets damaged after playing the same music every night for three years. We got to go swimming every day. There were cows.
Q: It was a cattle farm - for food?
K.M.: No, it’s more a hobby farm. There were about 15-30 cattle.
Q: So they’re kind of like pets.
K.M.: Kind of.
Q: That’s good . . . this is kind of a weird question but do you ever see Cane Toads?
K.M.: Yes, they’re in Queensland. They were introduced in Queensland to get rid of these sugar cane bugs that were eating all the sugar cane. The bugs in the cane were like crickets, or something like that – they were damaging all the plants so they brought these Cane Toads in to eat the bugs. And of course Cane Toads don’t have any natural predators in Australia. A dog knows not to eat a Cane Toad because it will die. It has poison on the back of it – no animal can eat a Cane Toad. There’s an epidemic of a plague of them now and no one knows how to get rid of them. They’re really stupid and have no natural predator so they have no guard. You can just walk up to one and kick it. There are a lot of mean people. But in some areas if you walk out into your backyard the [toads] are everywhere, like in a horror film. And some people try to smoke their skin as well because apparently it’s hallucinogenic. I don’t know anyone who’s actually done it – I wouldn’t recommend it.
Q: Do you two ever argue, like on tour?
K.M.: There are moments when we get on each other’s nerves. You’ve got six dudes in a tour bus, every day. It’s a great life but there is a lot of boring, getting to the airports on time . . . stress for an hour of music a day. When you see situations arise you step back. We had a funny situation on one of our first tours. We were away from home for four months’ straight and we were on tour with the Rapture. The whole four months we didn’t have a crew, we did all the lugging, all the setting up, all the breaking down – everything. For four months we didn’t have one argument - except when we were packing up after the very last show. It was about whether or not I could put this new guitar pedal that I’d bought into the case or in my suitcase - if I put it in with the gear it would put it over the baggage allowance weight (we were going to Japan). We were yelling at each other in the middle of a car park in front of everybody about the stupidest thing. Sometimes it’s healthy to blow off some steam.
Q: The Presets have quite a large gay following – is it to do with the dance scene?
K.M.: Definitely. I mean in Australia we were first embraced by the gay community. The dance scene in Australia is very homocentric. We have massive clubs and we have the big gay and lesbian Mardi Gras once a year.
A lot of it is quite commercial but there’s a cool underground dance scene as well. It comes back to things like Pet Shop Boys, Bronski Beat and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Those are the people who like to party the most, have a good time the most and show the least inhibition. It’s always been a real attractive thing for us – that freedom. I don’t mean to sound patronizing, it’s just a good fucking time. No matter what city we’re in we’ve had a gay following – and I guess it helps with the homo, like “fauxmo” thing that we do – playing up to it. We always said when we started out we wanted to milk the pink dollar.
Q: Did you learn to play drums when you were very small?
K.M.: Yeah, I started when I was about eight. I could barely reach the pedals. My sister started having lessons – and it was group lesson – and I really wanted to go. She went twice, and I just continued.
Q: Are your fans different, like in the U.S. compared to Australia?
K.M.: I think everywhere you go people are pretty much the same – obviously little bits of differences. I’m just talking as someone who stands up on the stage and looks out at the crowd. In Australia it’s a lot more advanced for us – the crowds are bigger. The reach has gotten more suburban whereas before it used to be more inner city and I guess hipster orientated. Those people like that are every where in the world . . . Istanbul. There’s almost the same kind of night club every where – kind of indie-disco. Now that we’re getting a bit bigger in some of the major cities people are starting to react more like they would back home. When we first started playing back home no one knew quite what to do and then they developed this kind of way getting into it. I’ve always felt it’s warmer for us in the States than anywhere else. People are kind of up for it. I think people in the States dance better than anywhere else. They really know how to dance. In Australia people don’t really dance together, they do this kind of weird robot dance. The States are just groovier, I can’t explain it. You guys should pat yourselves on the back.
Q: Before you worked as a musician you were teaching – what other types of jobs did you have?
K.M.: When I finished Uni I was teaching part time, one or two days a week, at various Catholic Girls schools. They never turned up – some were cool. I picked up a part time job for six months at a corporate recruitment company and I was the receptionist. That was bad. I was so bad at that. I was really grumpy. I was trying to be nice . . . we have this thing called the dole, I guess it’s like benefits – don’t know what you call it there. I went on unemployment benefits for four years and started the Presets. I worked every day and vowed never to have to do anything unrelated to music again. I saw it as kind of like an arts loan. You have to have meetings with these people at the dole office and explain to them what you do. It wasn’t like I was sitting at home smoking weed and watching television. I was working hard and learning about electronic music. I worked in a library for three years when I was at Uni. I worked in supermarkets – I worked at McDonald’s, that was my first job.
Q: What’s your favorite drink (alcohol-drink)?
K.M.: I’m really into vodka apple at the moment and we were in Munich the other day and this guy was telling us about the Russian way to have vodka. So you have a shot of vodka and then you have a pickle and then you have a beer. It’s so delicious. It really gives you a nice buzz.
Q: The tour with Cut Copy starts in mid- September?
K.M.: It officially starts on my birthday, the 15th of September, in Kansas City Missouri. We’ll be in Seattle on the 8th of October at the Showbox.
Q: Are you going to do any dj-ing?
K.M.: Possibly. We’re in a tour bus with Cut Copy so we’ll probably have to split after the shows to get to the next city. I think along the way I think there will be a couple little soirees.
Q: You guys are going to be on the same bus?
K.M.: Yeah, don’t rub it in. Twelve dudes. Normally when we tour there are twelve beds and six guys. Now we’ve get twelve stinking men on the bus. I think this tour will end the relationship I have with Cut Copy. We’ll all crack the States but we’ll all hate each other in the end. It will be worth it.
Friday, August 29, 2008, 10:33 AM ( 506 views ) - CD Reviews - Posted by AdministratorBrent Amaker and the Rodeo live in Seattle but by some mystery I did not know about them until last month. They are cowboys dressed in black and they are entirely welcome in the Seattle music scene.
I can say a lot about their attractive image - again, they're cowboys dressed all in black - and surreal live show but first this is a music review. Some music I love right away and some I have to hear over and over again to decide on it. This music hit me in the gut immediately and I love it. The songs' structures are so perfect that I don't care if you like country music you will like this country music.
Their first cd is the self-titled 2005 Brent Amaker and the Rodeo. The longest song, Bring Me the Whiskey, clocks in at 3:14 - it's the cd's epic. You're No Good opens things up, complete with perfectly placed horns and a nice twang guitar. The lyrics throughout the cd are clever - still about lost or tortured love and bar fights you want in country music - but I think the music has a sense of humor about itself at the same time. I've Got a Little Hillbilly in Me has handclaps and one contagious refrain. My favorite song off here might be Sissy New Age Cowboy: I hope you won't mind if we mess up your pretty face, someone's got to put you in your place. I don't know, you just want to hang around with whoever does these songs. Especially when Amaker asks Is the Rodeo in Town? in Get the Hell Out, you want them around - it all sounds like a party. You can criticize and say the songs are in the same key but this is fine with me. The vocals are durable and deep - entirely able to carry off the drinking pieces and the more romantic Babe: I Figure Satan had Something to Do With the Creation of You - and he's got something to do with the creation of B.A.R.
Their new cd Howdy Do! begins with Welcome to the Rodeo. I like that this cd has a welcome and an Outro (and rattling bottles in the background) as in old country albums. This one is bold enough to tell you No Refunds in the welcome, and why would you want one? I'm the Man Who Writes the Country Hits is a great classic and They Make Cowboys in Montana reminds you in Texas They Make Men and to Keep Your Loved Ones Close - Kill the Rest. These songs build cool scenarios with galloping rhythms and Amaker's voice has an entrancing quality. I get the impression he could be singing about anything and it would sound sexy. The title track is sweet indeed and Walking in My Sleep is haunting. This is the Gun, where Amaker sings Die I Will But Not Before I Break Your Heart is as warped as it is gorgeous. . . okay you can break my heart.
Friday, August 29, 2008, 01:51 AM ( 546 views ) - Musings - Posted by AdministratorYou may have noticed the massive input of reviews, photos, interviews etc. on the blog. I am doing this because well, the blog is back. Some material may be seen elsewhere - some may be exclusive - and eventually I will have little things like bells and whistles e.g. photos & media back on here but here you go. It's back. Enjoy yourself.
Friday, August 29, 2008, 01:43 AM ( 471 views ) - Show Reviews & Photos - Posted by AdministratorCertain things are slightly illegal depending on what parts of the world you live in. Some places you can only have one spouse, some places you can't be a topless woman walking around the beaches . . . to these kinds of blurred and vague illegalities I am going to add just how much I love Switches.
These guys have been working overtime the last couple of years and don't show any signs of fatigue - indeed, the Showbox appearance was the third time I have seen them and they attack all songs with a limber ferocity every time. Lay Down the Law is as brash as ever, Drama Queen is halcyon glam, and Coming Down is the kind of song you just know immediately in the best way. They're a foxy group of Brits led by Matt Bishop, who has the provocative allure to be a huge star. But then you'd be equally smitten with the fierce rhythm section of Steve Godfrey and Thom Kirkpatrick, or the sweltering guitar work of Ollie Thomas.
The bad news is Switches won't be coming back here for a bit, the good news is they're going to work on the next album. To go by their new song Lady for a Rainy Day it's on a promise to be a perfect follow up to Lay Down the Law. It's a more gentle piece that should go well with The Need to Be Needed - that's my only complaint from the show - where was that song?
See my pix of Switches here.
Friday, August 29, 2008, 01:39 AM ( 611 views ) - Interviews - Posted by AdministratorBrent Amaker and Mason Lowe of Brent Amaker and the Rodeo met up with me at the Cha Cha Lounge a bit ago and let me ask them all sorts of questions. I had heard they'd spent some time in a Belgian prison, well okay, played at a Belgian prison - and I was also curious about where these guys came from and what they're going to do next.
Q: This band seems very together, very focussed.
Brent Amaker: I model it after the Ramones, the Briefs -
Mason Lowe: Devo.
B.A.: Any cool band that has a very defined image and they just go for it. That's what we're about. I mean, we're cowboys – we're doing the old school cowboy thing. When the Rodeo gets onstage or we put out a record, people know exactly what they're going to get. Every time. You may like it, you may not, but you'll always know what to expect. There's going to be drinking, asskicking, songs about girls and drugs and cowboy themes –
Q: And whiskey?
B.A.: Yeah. We've got the intercontinental thing. Mason calls us intercontinental cowboys. We're going to travel anywhere who will have us – we're going to Japan next. We put Japanese on our record cover – Japan's going to love us.
Q: Why do you think the Europeans have taken so well to you?
B.A.: I think anybody outside of Seattle loves us. It's just because we're from here – Seattle's a really tough market. They're starting to get it here. We did a US tour last year and we can play to any crowd anywhere and we walk in in our cowboy outfits, do what we do and people freak out. I'm not trying to be cocky but it's so unique. There are real country fans that like us (but) on our US tour last year we played with metal bands and the metal crowds loved us. The heavy metal people totally dig it. I think it's about being well-defined.
M.L.: In Europe the cowboy image is so exotic. Our take on it is a little different.
B.A.: The real hardcore country people like us, but they're a little confused. We all came from the rock scene - we all played in rock bands. We kind of have our own take on old-time country music. When we play to rock crowds, they understand what's going on. I think there's a potential for a mainstream country market to grab onto it..
Q: I think so too.
B.A.: But it would be really weird. I want to be to country music what the White Stripes were for rock. They did the old rock thing and people really dug it. Rock music was totally going in the wrong direction and they came out and said this is what cool old rock music is about.
Q: But I have heard some Keith Urban I liked – I haven't heard all of his material.
B.A.: The director of the video for Sissy New Age Cowboy had me dressed up in a Keith Urban outfit. It was humiliating to have wardrobe come in and say I had to wear this sleeveless shirt that didn't flatter me very well. But I did it.
Q: That's a great video.
B.A.: We shot that over at Manray before they tore it down.
M.L.: We did it at Manray and at Havana.
Q: I was wondering where that part in the counter was shot.
M.L: That was like the 500th guy who had his pants pulled down at that counter. A balloon came down with 500 on it.
B.A.: We shot it about a week before it shut down. I think we immortalized it.
Q: Especially with the steak-eating.
B.A.: That was actually my idea. When we were doing the storyboards I asked, can we do a scene where I eat steak? I really want to eat steak.
Q: Being served steak by women.
B.A.: Yeah, it was kind of a dream of mine. I could do that all the time. If we ever really make it, watch out. . .
Q: What are some of the stranger things that have happened to the band?
B.A.: We have really bizarre stuff happen to us everyday when we're on tour. A weird thing for me is, we'll be in Holland playing at a club we've never played at before and we're loading our gear and someone yells, Brent Amaker – play Reno! That's myspace.
M.L.: People in Holland are on their computers all the time. They have a mouse in one hand and a bong in the other.
B.A.: Pot's legal over there and everybody acts like you're a child if you smoke pot. They're like I did that when I was twelve years old. I think they get really sick of the Americans coming over to get legal pot.
M.L.: We spent a lot of time in Belgium. Every town is like Enumclaw – it's like 90 Enumclaws held together by a network of roads. It's all farmers and factory type people. I don't know why we were there – it's just where we ended up.
B.A.: We had a house there.
M.L.: We played a lot of shows there and the people would just stare at us.
B.A.: We always had to play two sets every time we played a show in Belgium. The first set they would stare at us the whole time. The second set – they were into it and clapping. But it was always like we were warming up for ourselves – we had to be our own warm-up band, which is really hard.
Q: I kind of like that idea.
B.A.: We worked hard for that second set. They were completely sober during the first set, and then the beer started flowing. . .
Q: Have you had any hostile crowds?
B.A.: The prison got pretty scary. Half the prisoners loved us, and the other half weren't sure. There were people yelling f**k America. You weren't sure if they were happy or if they were going to riot.
Q: But they stuck around?
B.A.: They had no choice, they were in a prison.
Q: I walked right into that one.
B.A.: They were by definition a captive audience. Guards were there to make sure they stuck around. This was a maximum-security prison. We rolled in and these metal doors slammed down and the guards took our passports away. We all got this uneasy feeling – we're in a foreign country, in a maximum-security prison and this guy just took our passports away. They weren't going to give them back to us until we finished our show and left. It was a little creepy feeling.
Q: Who's the one who had his hat stolen?
B.A.: Lewis, he's not playing with us anymore. We're working on a list of howdy dos and howdy don'ts. Getting your hat stolen is a howdy don't. Girls like to take your hat at shows. They'll grab it – and we have terror alert levels and send another cowboy to get your hat back. You don't want to flatter her by trying to get the hat. We don't want to encourage the hat-taking. We're serious about our hats. In Holland we had people show up dressed like us. Like Kiss. We bought one of their hats [to replace the stolen one].
Q: Who's the most difficult to tour with?
M.L.: Sugar [bassist].
Q: You all seem like easy-going guys.
B.A.: It's the cowboy suits. I have a theory. It's like with sunglasses – no one can really see you, no one can see your eyes. The outfit is like sunglasses for your whole body.
Q: So let's talk about the label, GraveWax Records.
B.A.: It's really a perfect situation for us. One of the owners lives in Jenna, Germany and the other one lives in Texas. From what I understand they have better distribution in Europe than in the US even. They have good distribution in the US but they are hooked up with a really good distributor in Europe. Our record's going to be on the shelf everywhere in Europe. The more shit happens there, the better we'll do here.
Q: Are you going back to Europe soon?
B.A.: There's a festival in Berlin called Popkomm that we played last year – we're going to play that again in October and then do a short tour around that in Germany. Our record comes out on November 4th in the US and in November we're going to start with a three-week US tour. We're definitely going to the south.
Brent Amaker and the Rodeo are set to play the Ellensburg Rodeo August 29th and 30th. After that they're starting a big tour, including 5 days in NYC in October.
I reviewed both of their cds earlier - I recommend them and their shows. Don't miss them.
Friday, August 29, 2008, 01:35 AM ( 2154 views ) - Interviews - Posted by AdministratorShe Wants Revenge is really sexy stuff. Their songs are curious tableaus about pain, love, lust and how it all interacts – or not. Some of my favorites are Black Liner Run, Tear You Apart, and What I Want. Made up of a duo, Justin Warfield and Adam Bravin, She Wants Revenge has released 2 cds and 3 eps. They've now produced their newest ep, Save Your Soul on their own label. Bravin, a charming talent, talked with me from Minneapolis a few days ahead of their Seattle show.
Q: I've never DJed – what's it like?
AB: Well, it's changed. I've been doing it a really long time. Back in the day you really had to be a good DJ to be able to spin at clubs and parties. Now it seems like you can be a celebrity and not know how to DJ and still DJ all the parties. As an experience, DJing for a crowd that's there to actually hear music and dance and they appreciate the types of selections that you're giving them – it can be really amazing. It's kind of like when you're performing in a band you kind of feed off the energy of the crowd and it's the same way with DJing. You get a room full of people that are really into what's going on it can be a really beautiful thing.
Q: What's one of the weirder things that's happened to you while DJing?
AB: One time I was DJing with a friend of mine who was Prince's DJ at the time – funny that we're in Minneapolis and we're talking about Prince. I went with him to DJ this little thing he was doing and he took a break and he actually fell asleep. It was at Glam Slam, a club that Prince used to own in LA. While I was DJing, Prince showed up. He was basically the only one in the room and he started dancing. I was playing all this rare late 60s early 70s funk stuff that I knew he was into. My buddy woke up and saw what was happening and kicked me off the turntables and played some kind of Prince-related song. Prince came over and said, "You're fired, you're hired." I DJed for him for awhile. I DJed at Glam Slam for a couple of years and opened up for some of his shows. He goes through DJs every couple of years. I just got lucky.
Q: He seems like a nice person. I have nothing really to base this impression on.
He is. He's very eclectic. He's a genius so there's nothing much else you can say than that.
Q: What kinds of jobs did you have, like when you were a teenager?
AB: When I was a teenager I worked at a frozen yogurt place.
Q: That sounds good. I love that.
AB: It was great. Me and my buddy used to have yogurt fights. I worked at Pier 1. They used to make me arrange the basket area all the time, which I dreaded. My boss had it in for me for some reason – I guess it was because I never really wanted to work. I used to work at a restaurant in LA – it was like a 50s dinner where you could kind of be a jerk to people and it was okay.
Q: That must have been fun.
AB: It was.
Q: You grew up in the San Fernando Valley – what is it like there?
AB: Some of my favorite places to eat are still in the Valley so sometimes Justin and I will make a special trip to Henry's Tacos and get some of our favorite tacos. It's where the original Valley Boys and Valley Girls came from. We were in the middle of it when all of that was happening – Justin and I have known each other since we were kids. It's like anywhere else – it's definitely not Hollywood – it's kind of suburbia.
Q: Why do you think British music was so popular there?
AB: There was so much good music coming out at that time. Especially dance music – there wasn't a lot of that coming from the States. KROQ would play all the music that would come to inspire us as musicians – and you didn't hear the same ten songs all day long. They'd play the Cure, New Order, Kraftwerk . . .
Q: Have you thought about doing soundtracks/scores for movies?
AB: Absolutely. I am going to do that – actually we both are when we get home. Our manager is setting up some stuff for us to do. We're supposed to score a series that a friend of mine is hooking me up with. When I don't do the band stuff it's all pretty soundtrack-y, I guess you could say. I'm a huge fan of late 70s early 80s soundtracks. It's kind of one of the only things I listen to on the road. A lot of Giorgio Moroder – Midnight Express, Cat People. Bladerunner [by Vangelis]. I listen to classical and pretty much strictly electronica soundtracks when we're on the bus. We're going to start producing music for other people and slowly work on our next record. We've both started writing screenplays and I think we're going to concentrate on that as well.
Q: On the tour how are the cds represented?
AB: We've been playing about five or six songs from the first record and about four or five from the second record and we've been playing two off the ep. We just started playing a third (song off the ep). It's a little bit of everything.
Q: I found something on IMDB about you being on show – something called Love Monkey?
AB: Our friend, Nic Harcourt, who works at KCRW in LA was music supervisor for this show – I don't even think it was a whole season. We happened to be in New York when they were shooting it and he asked us if we wanted to appear playing in a bar. So it's just us pretending to play in a bar.
Q: You seem to have a lot of hats. What's your favorite kind?
AB: I can always rock a fedora.
Q: Those are nice – they're versatile. How many hats do you think you have?
AB: Maybe 40 or 50. I think most of them are fedoras.
Q: I came across a love advice column by you: Go ask Adam.
AB: I don't remember what I said. I wasn't enjoying it – I think we were in Detroit, and I want to say we were in some kind of weird Mall looking for the food court when I got the call. I remember being really hungry. I don't think I gave the best advice on love due to the fact that I was starving – probably starving for love as well as food. I remember I had to stop and ask the interviewer what I had just said.
Q: What do you like to read?
AB: I'm reading a book called Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis.
Q: That's a creepy book – I've read that.
AB: Yeah, he's one of my favorite writers.
Q: Have you read American Psycho?
AB: Of course, and Less Than Zero. I'm reading a book called White Noise by Don Delillo. I just started that. It was recommended to me by Justin, who has really good taste in books. And I just finished re-reading the Theory of Relativity by Albert Einstein. I'm a huge fan of math and physics. It's kind of hard having any discussions on the road about physics. It never tends to go in that direction. If I can't talk about it I'll read it. It's interesting to dive into the mind of somebody who was such a forward thinker. The way that he describes things is easy enough for some people to understand that don't really get math or physics. His examples are always about a bridge, or someone walking, or a train. He's a smart cookie – this Einstein guy. We have the same birthday.
Q: When is your birthday?
AB: December 30th.
Q: What about movies? What are some of your favorites?
AB: Bladerunner. I'm obsessed with that movie.
Q: Have you seen the anniversary dvd?
AB: Yeah, I got the super deluxe box set – actually Justin gave it to me for my birthday. It's got like five different versions and it comes with these postcards and this little figurine. It comes in briefcase. When we made our second record I was so obsessed with that movie that there's a song on the record called Rachael, which is inspired by the lead, Sean Young. Then there's a little instrumental piece on the second record called All Those Moments which is inspired by the soundtrack. The title is actually a quote from the movie.
What else . . . I love Fellini. 8 ½ is one of my favorites. Have you seen it?
Q: A long time ago. Is that the one with the fountain scene in it, where she's dancing?
AB: Yes. That's a good one.
Q: Italian movies are good.
AB: Especially the new wave, late 60s – amazing stuff going on in that country as far as films were concerned.
On the bus, when I have time, I've been having an 80s fantasy movie mini-marathon in my bunk.
Q: So. . . Labyrinth?
AB: I watched Labyrinth, I watched Dark Crystal. . . I watched Dark Crystal all the time when I was little, and I hadn't watched it in years – and I watched it and the little girl Gelfling in it . . . the reason I am attracted to a certain type of girl is because of the Gelfling in Dark Crystal. I was like, wait a minute, she's hot and she's a puppet. She kind of looks like all of my ex girlfriends.
I watched Legend. Tim Curry is amazing as the devil. Tom Cruise in a little teeny outfit – awesome.
Q: Tom Cruise looks good in that movie.
AB: I'm always down to watch Time Bandits. But I can't watch it when Justin's around – he doesn't like it. He just wasn't a Monty Python fan. I think you are either one or not.
Q: Are you still planning on producing a cd with all female singers?
AB: Absolutely. It's hard to do when everybody has their own schedules and they all live in different places and they're touring. That's going to be one of the first things that we put out on our label. I have most of them confirmed to do it - it's just a matter of having time.
Q: This will be part of the new label, Perfect Kiss?
AB: When we got our deal with Geffen we started an imprint called Perfect Kiss – it just got slapped onto whatever we did. When we left Geffen we already had the name. We're actually going to do something with it now.
Q: How did you get Shirley Manson in your video for These Things?
AB: We had one day off in New York and we had spoken to Sophie Muller about directing a video for us. We kept asking her what are we going to do, what's your idea? She said, "I can tell you the treatment right now. All I really know at this point is that Shirley Manson is going to kidnap you." We were like, wait – are you serious? She said, "I have this idea about Shirley kidnapping you and torturing you." She sent Shirley the song and asked her if she'd like to be in the video. I guess Shirley liked the song. They found this old theater and basically we kind of winged it. She invited this guy down, this friend of hers, who's kind of her accomplice in the video. She basically called him up and said I'm doing this video want to come kidnap these guys with me?
Q: It turned out great.
AB: It was like this is where she kidnaps you, this where she tortures you and this where she kicks you in the back for an hour. I got a nice stiletto in the lower back for about an hour while I played piano. A lot of people say that must have really hurt, and it did, but in a really amazing way. Shirley can kick me in the back with a heel anytime.
We may be working on something with her for her solo record. We were trying to hook up with her before we left for tour but she had a very busy schedule at the time. She really is one of the coolest people that we've met and she really acted like a music industry big sister. She's a really amazing woman.
Friday, August 29, 2008, 01:26 AM ( 1185 views ) - Show Reviews & Photos - Posted by AdministratorMy first exposure to She Wants Revenge took the form of my alarm clock waking me up to one of their songs, Tear You Apart. It was of course the radio edit so a certain part of it was missing. I still thought it was beautiful and sort of evil at the same time.
I mention this because it's come to define a bit how I feel about She Wants Revenge's music. It's got a dreamlike quality to it that can be both soothing and jarring depending on when you listen to it. You think you're listening to what should be a love song, then singer Justin Warfield coos something really horrible and then you realize you're still listening to a love song - of sorts.
Live, Warfield and Adam Bravin kept a smooth momentum going with a menacing These Things, a danceable What I Want, a trembling Written in Blood, and a perfect Tear You Apart. Save Your Soul, a song off their new EP is gorgeous too. I had a couple favorite moments. Don't get me wrong, Warfield's got a velvety voice and good dance moves. But my first favorite moment was when the entire audience sang along with a key part in Out of Control it seemed like everyone knew exactly when to sing the line Oh My God It's My Favorite Song. My second was a solo Bravin on the keys, playing Disconnect. It's a truly beautiful and evocative piano piece.
The Showbox, lit in mostly red lights, was a good venue for them. Many people think of She Wants Revenge's music as dark, but I think of it as more red than dark - it's bloody, it's written in blood.
Click here for my photos from the show.