Wednesday, December 31, 2008, 02:58 AM ( 4497 views ) - Interviews - Posted by dagmarsieglindeI interviewed Al Doyle in 2007 - this originally appeared in Little Radio.
Q: I saw you guys open up from someone earlier this year Ė I canít
remember who it was.
Q: Yeah, thatís right. I came to see you guys.
Doyle: Oh wow. That would have been in March.
Q: Were they good to tour with?
Doyle: Yeah they were a friendly bunch of people, took an interest in what we were doing Ė which isnít always the case with bands that you support. They borrowed a keyboard from us as well so they were indebted to us at an early stage, which was good. We did about six shows with them.
Q: Was that the first time youíd been to Seattle?
Doyle: Yeah, it was the first time I had been to the West Coast in fact. We came back to L.A. and San Francisco in August and this is our second time going fully down the West Coast.
Q: Is this your first headlining tour of the West Coast?
Doyle: Apart from those two dates in August. Itís good to be in Seattle. We didnít have such great weather but I had a good time. We went to Pike Place Market Ė having a little walk around a few bars and restaurants.
Q: Youíre a classically trained cellist Ė when did you start learning?
Doyle: Maybe six or seven. Iíve been doing music for a long time Ė different kinds. I ended up doing this kind of stuff. I also have a strong left hand. Worked well for the guitar, like I could pick up the guitar quite easily. I still play the cello, record with it now and again. It might be on the next album, hopefully, I donít know. I enjoy playing it from time to time. I should play it more Ė I can still get a sound out of it and everything. Yeah, thatís my background.
Q: I was actually going to ask if you were going to have the cello on any of the CDs?
Doyle: I do some other music with Felix in the band and weíve done some soundtracks for documentaries and stuff like that. We use the cello on that because itís a quite pleasing sound and atmospheric. We have some other string players Ė like on the song Look After Me on The Warning thereís a violin on that. Thereís a really good string quartet that we know in London called the Elysian Quartet that have supported us on a couple of shows. They do from Modern classical stuff to Beethoven and have things written for them by UK composers. So we can always draft them in if we need some strings, which is useful.
Q: What kind of documentaries have you worked on?
Doyle: It was a documentary about the Last Lighthouse Keepers in the UK. Basically all of the lighthouses were automated in 2002, I think. Up to that point there were about three people on every lighthouse and gradually they would stop working at a lighthouse that was about to be automated and keep running that. It was just a strange life that a lot of them led. Now there really arenít any of them any more. Theyíre getting pretty old now and it was a chance to listen to some of their stories. Itís a really good documentary. Felix and I will also be working on another one next year with the BFI, which is the British Film Institute. Weíre going to have access to their archive to choose a movie and rescore it or possibly score a silent movie. That wonít be towards the end of next year, but thatís going to be a really interesting project. We all do kind of bits and bobs on the side, apart from Hot Chip. Itís kind of good to have that breadth and have different projects that can give you a break from doing the album. That often can inform that process as well Ė you can also be a bit more experimental, like when we do remixes and things for other bands we can try out some things that you wouldnít necessarily think of. Itís useful as a kind of study and just improving your technique, I suppose compositionally Ė like with technology.
Q: The celloís kind of a sorrowful instrument, isnít it?
Doyle: It can be. Itís equivalent to the tenor voice, I suppose. Itís got a very wide range so you can go right down to the bottom there but you can still actually go surprisingly high as well. It seems to be a very expressive instrument Ė all string instruments are but the cello seems to be a lot of peopleís favorite. Iím lucky that I learned it, I suppose.
Q: You do a lot of the remixing?
Doyle: We all do. Joe and Alexis do some and sometimes I might work with Alexis or Felix and I work together mostly. And Owen sometimes as well. It generally ends up doing two teams of remixes, which means we can get a lot more done. Which is great. We enjoy it Ė the only thing thatís bad about it does take up a bit of time, and we donít have that much time to do our own music. So when youíre at home and not touring you sort of like you might prefer to get on with your own stuff rather than do a remix. Up to now itís just been paying the rent basically, they bring in a bit of money and weíve needed it. Now itís got to the stage where we can pick and choose a little bit more, we donít have to take everything is thrown at us. Weíre being a bit more choosy about who weíre remixing. Sometimes it can take a day or something but sometimes it can take 2-3 days. It just depends on what youíre working with or how creative youíre feeling.
Q: Are there songs out youíd really love to do?
Doyle: Anything with a really good vocal. A lot of stuff we do thatís what lets it down. Somebody who hasnít got a voice thatís worth listening to, basically. We did remixes for a lot of UK guitar bands for a while and they were just these kind of shouty, very unsubtle singing basically. So weíd take like one syllable or one word and Ė cause obviously they like you to have a bit of vocal in it but we try to get away with as little as possible if itís bad.
Q: Youíre from Leeds?
Doyle: Yeah. Joe, Alexis and Owen are kind of Southwest London. Felix actually grew up near the British Museum in the center of London. Iíve been down in London for the last four-five years. Iím enjoying it, itís good. Now weíre all actually living a bit closer together. Felix lives just up the road. Felix and I have a studio in the building I live in Ė so we can do Hot Chip stuff there. Itís lucky for me, I just roll out of bed and into the studio to do some work.
Q: Do you feel a little different from the rest of them?
Doyle: Yeah, though do sort of mention my different roots now and again. But itís never really a big deal. Iíve had a lot of friends in London for a long time so I know the city pretty well. I like going back and seeing my family. When I go back North I get back more of my accent, but when Iím down in London I donít have that strong of an accent. Iíve been accepted.
Q: Youíre all doing something on stage Ė no oneís lazy up there. How do you do it?
Doyle: Weíre very busy. I personally donít like to be just standing around. I feel uncomfortable if Iím not doing anything. A lot of the songs will have natural gaps in them and Iíll try to find something else to do. At the moment weíve got some congas on stage so Iíll do some percussion. Thereís always something to do because weíve got quite a lot of instruments- more instruments than we can actually play at the same time. Thereís four keyboards, two guitars Ė if someoneís playing a guitar then that means thereís an extra keyboard free Ė for instance on the first song on the album Careful, when we do that live I play both keyboards at the same time. Trying to multitask. It can probably be an error, maybe we should try to tone down the texture a bit in some cases, but itís just too much fun. We can make these big sounds with these keyboards so thatís just whatís been happening. We have actually stripped it down a little bit because weíre playing with a live drummer now so that makes for a much fuller sound straightaway. Weíve had to pull a few things back and incorporate that more into the group. Itís starting to work really, really well. We donít normally have a live drummer but we tour with Pat Mahoney from LCD Soundsystem. Heís done a few shows with us in the US and now heís doing the whole tour with us.
Q: Putting things together and layering. How hard is it not to sound messy?
Doyle: Live weíve just gotten a little bit better at playing. Weíve done so many shows. This year we did twenty-six festivals from May to August, a couple of tours in the middle of that. Weíve been on tour since September, so we did three weeks in Europe, three weeks in the UK and three weeks in the US as well. So pretty much three months on the road and hundreds of shows, so naturally youíll get a lot tighter and the song structures are quite fluid. The instrumentation is quite fluid as well so thereís a lot of room to change and improve and figure out what works and what doesnít. Itís not something that is very consciously decided but itís something thatís more like an evolution.
Thereís quite a lot of communication going on onstage. It didnít used to be like that. When we first started out, especially with the stage setup that we had, when we were all in a line, we were basically all locked into what they were doing. Like watching five guys doing individual concerts but they happened to be on the same stage at the same time. Whereas now weíve got more of a curve going on and we can look at each other a bit more. Thereís a bit more of a group feel to what weíre doing and weíre not concentrating so hard on getting our parts right because we play it everyday and we can look around and listen to some other people. Like a proper band.
In terms of recording, itís building things up by layers, constantly listening and figuring out whatís too prominent and what can be tucked underneath. I know that Joe and Alexis wanted the album to be something you could listen to repeatedly and discover new things in the mix you might not have noticed on the first listening. Like there are little things that will reveal themselves as you listen more, which is quite good. I donít think youíd get that in a normal live recording of a band. If you look at some of those songs on the computer thereís so many different tracks and different little bits coming in. It should be quite rewarding, hopefully, as a listening experience.
Q: How do you decide which sounds youíll use. Like the xylophone, I am obsessed with xylophones.
Doyle: Oh really? Itís actually a glockenspiel thatís on the CD. But funnily enough we just played with Dennis Young, whoís the marimba player in Liquid Liquid, a seminal sort of experimental disco group Ė you know the White Lines by Grandmaster Flash, thatís a sample from one of their songs. Youíd recognize a lot of their songs because theyíre really heavily sampled for hip-hop. Young contacted us through myspace and said hey, youíre playing in New York, mind if I come and play with you? It was like, wow, this is unbelievable Ė heís a real legend. He played about three songs with us on marimba. Weíre a big fan of those kind of sounds although they can be overused sometimes Ė itís difficult to not make them sound a bit twee. But sometimes it is just the right thing.
Whenever weíre choosing sounds itís just whateverís best for the song. People always go on about how we use cheap keyboards or casios. Itís not necessarily just because itís cheap that we like it, itís just that happens to be a sound that is nice and maybe we spend 1,500 pounds on another keyboard and use that as well. But thereís nothing to say that oneís better or worse just because how much they cost or where you got it from. Itís just a case of looking at things very objectively and deciding what would work best for the song and what sounds best. Iím sure thatís how most people go about doing this kind of music. Or I hope it is. People shouldnít fetishize certain sounds as being the ultimate thing, like when the 303 kind of acid sounds used to be really popular, I mean itís a really great sound and we have a 303 but itís become this kind of thing above and beyond itself. I donít think thatís very good when that
Q: How surprised are you by the response youíve received in the States? I wasnít the only one you came just to see you as openers.
Doyle: It was crazy Ė I think Stereolab were quite surprised as well. Weíre constantly surprised by people coming to our gigs. Or how they know about us. Because the album is selling alright but itís not flying off the shelves in the US by any means. There are a lot of people who are sharing music and thereís a lot of our tracks on blogs and stuff in the US and also thereís been quite a lot of good reviews and articles in local and national press for us. We deliberately came over (to the States) in August even though it was only going to be a very short trip Ė If we hadnít played in the US as much I think people might have forgotten about us a little bit Ė so it was important to do that. It just sort of helped maintain the interest. I think the live shows are a big part of that. People seem to particularly enjoy some of the live versions of the songs that we do, and theyíre very vocal about them. A lot of our fans seem to be very willing to talk about us and to convert other people, which is great. But otherwise I have no idea why they seem to being picked up on. I mean the songs are poppy and theyíre easy to listen to. Thereís nothing too difficult, weíre not trying to do anything thatís too way out. Obviously thereís some very experimental aspects to the music but weíre not deliberately trying to create any barriers. We want everything to be accessible and danceable. I think people pick up on that and hopefully get excited about that.
Q: Your nickname is Al-Doit?
Doyle: Not really, no. It was just in a press release.
Q: Do people call you that?
Doyle: No, no one calls me that. I think there was just a point where people were trying to put in nicknames. Originally I suppose what it came from was that I was the last person to join the band. It wasnít really clear what my role was going to be. There used to be a live drummer and then Felix started playing drum machines and we didnít have a drummer. Then maybe I was going to play drums, because I was a drummer as well, and then people were saying we need someone to play some synth as well and it became, Iíll do it Ė in every situation. I think thatís sort of where it came from.
Q: They were called Hot Chip when you joined?
Doyle: Yeah, Hot Chip as a music making entity has been going since, like 97 probably, when Alexis and Joe as a duo self-released some stuff in the UK. And then they had an ep out on a very small label called Victory Garden records in the South of England in 99 or something like that. The switch to a more electronic bass kind of poppy sound was only just before Coming on Strong, which was when they started to get the band together. Since weíve become a band itís obviously become a different entity. Hot Chip, as people know Hot Chip, has only been going for just over three years.
Q: Whatís your favorite song to play live?
Doyle: New songs, I suppose, is always going to be the obvious one. Weíve got new songs in the set Ė one is not really a new song for us because weíve been playing it for about seven or eight months, but itís not released yet. Thereís one particular one which is quite pacy and fast and itís a lot of fun Ė youíll probably notice when we play a new song because weíre all a bit more animated. I enjoy playing "Over and Over" because the crowd reaction that is always amazing. We play it at the end and people always seem to really go for it in that song. We get to do our real, sort of rocking out Status Quo stuff on that song. Weíve also been enjoying playing a lot of new acoustic songs. Weíve been doing some radio sessions here in the US and Europe. For those sessions itís just me, Joe and Alexis, just a guitar, one keyboard and some percussion Ė very stripped down versions of the songs.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008, 03:57 PM ( 752 views ) - Interviews - Posted by dagmarsieglindeMy interview with Richard Hawley first appeared in Little Radio.
I first saw you on a show called London Live, and they had one of those cool lights that shoots all over Ė I canít think of what theyíre called.
Richard Hawley: A mirror ball?
RH: Mirror balls are great. We donít always have them but if we do have a mirror ball Ė no matter who you are, whether youíre a little old lady or a hard-core punk it affects every one the same. Itís a nice light - it seems to be a true light Ė itís light reflecting off all shapes of glass.
Q: You donít use your natural accent while singing Ė do you ever think about singing with your accent?
RH: I donít deliberately do anything. It just comes out the way it is Ė I donít think Iíve got a particularly American accent. The songs are based, a lot of them anyway Ė not all of them Ė in my hometown, with geographical places as points of reference. But I never wanted that to be exclusive to people so that itís so colloquial that only people who live at the end of my road can relate to it. That would be a waste of time. I grew up listening to American music, so that when you open your mouth to sing thatís what comes out. Iíve learnt from birth.
Q: You toured in strip joints when you were 14 with your dad?
RH: Some of the gigs were in strip joints.
Q: Was that kind of a dream come true?
RH: It was a fucking nightmare. I was so young I really didnít know what was going on. My uncle Chuck played piano for my dad in the 60s. It was the early 80s and basically they couldnít get an adult to do the gig so the only person they could get was this snotty nosed 14 year-old kid who knew all the chops. It was a trade off of him having to deal with this kid with his first time out of the country let alone out of the city. We thought a foreign holiday was a weekend in Wales. He lied to my mother, he said weíre playing really nice venues and heís going to be looked after. We played shit hole bars and strip joints and really dodgy places. I got escorted into the gig and then at the end of it escorted out. A lot of the dodgier bars weíd be playing all night Ė which for me, I had the energy of a lion then Ė I was enjoying it, it was great. I didnít really know Ė when youíre young you deal with the reality thatís presented to you. At the end of the night theyíd lock me in the van and Iíd sit there bored and theyíd go and get shit-faced. I saw some interesting things Ė it only lasted over a month because it was in the school holidays. I lived off Mars bars Ė in American speak I lived off candy bars and Grolsch beer. I was skinny as a stick anyway. I must have lost about a stone. My Mother was in tears. I think my Dad knew that I was ready for it, he thought that if he survives this then heís going to make it through his life. Music is not an easy profession to chose. He prepared me for what may or may not happen in the future. Looking back, as a father now, I donít think I could do that to my kids but I donít resent the fact that he did that. I thank him for it now because I knew from when I was really young that all I wanted to do was play music. It was a way of saying, here you go.
Q: Are your kids into music?
RH: My daughter plays guitar, sheís really good and my sonís got a little drum kit. The babyís too young. He just dances to rock and roll. He loves Little Richard the most, but he likes Johnny Cash as well. He also loves the Sonics Ė his favorite is Have Love Will Travel Ė do you know that one?
RH: You should know that. Are you from Seattle?
Q: I am.
RH: You should know your own history. You have a good pedigree here. We better be good tonight.
Q: Youíre a spokesperson, along with Sean Bean, of Hendersonís Relish?
RH: Itís a local condiment.
Q: They had an official Richard Hawley sauce?
RH: They did bottles in tribute to the albums, which was amazing. Local beer companies made four different beers for the albums. My Dad said youíd cracked it now, they never did that for me. It was great.
Q: Your wife and you got an allotment?
RH: Youíve been doing a lot of reading. Itís kind of a backburner now Ė itís utter chaos at home right now. Iím kind of glad Iím on tour. Iím not a hippie or anything Ė I fucking hate hippies Ė love and peace are not fashion accessories, itís a state of mind. We live in a world where everythingís prepackaged Ė thereís loads of crappy food. We just liked the idea of growing stuff ourselves. My dad and grandfather were gardeners Ė I know how to dig a hole. Iíve dug quite a few in my time - of various kinds.
Q: The video for Serious, where you have a mannequin for a girlfriend is great.
RH: It just brings a smile to peopleís face.
Q: Have you seen the documentary Love Me Love My Doll?
RH: Yeah Ė I saw that after and it freaked me out. I couldnít believe there were people who actually did it. I thought it was just a product of me and Shane Meadowsí (Seriousí director) warped mind, that we kind of imagined . . . what if. Are you aware of Shane Meadows?
Q: I want to see This is England.
RH: Youíve got to see it. Itís awesome. Itís his life, in Nottingham but itís that period of time when kids were really passionate about music and music culture. It is still important now but not like it was. When I was a kid people would fight in the street because youíre into different music. It was quite serious and it got quite heavy at times. Itís basically working class factions of the music. It was important to take that seriously.
Q: What group were in?
RH: None really. I was always into a bit of rockabilly a bit of a Teddy Boy. But I also liked a lot of music that the Mods liked.
[Hawley was really open and shared some photos with me of his family. I say this honestly Ė itís a lovely family.]
Itís funny because looking at these photos stops me from feeling homesick. I never used to (get homesick) but being a father you really miss home. You get back and youíre kind of in bits and they just say Ďhi Dadí. Anyway so now you know I am telling the truth. I take telling the truth very seriously. If youíre a liar and you invent stuff, your life has no meaning. The truth, however ugly, cannot help but be beautiful. Sometimes things are not so easy to face up to. I canít tell anyone how to live their life. For me, if youíre going to grow as a person you have to face yourself and the truth. Itís quite hard. You become less of a victim then, especially for women. You become less prey to advertising and how you should be. We are not what we wear, what we own or do Ė those are things that just pass the time. Thereís something more fundamental about a human being other than those things. Iíve been searching for that my entire life.
Q: Do you feel like youíve found it, or bits of it?
RH: Bits of it, but not all of it. That would spoil it. I think the journeyís possibly more interesting. This trip has been great. Iíve been to Chicago before and English bands donít always go down too well in the Mid West. They loved it. I was really surprised. I understand in New York and LA theyíve got the Anglophiles who think American culture sucks and England is some kind of magical place, which it so isnít. I really like to communicate musically with Americans Ė not just the East and West Coasts.
Q: Do you think they were tuned into the rockabilly?|
RH: Possibly, but everything went down well, even the colloquial stuff, like Coleís Corner. Coleís Corner is just a play - the actual subject of the song is about loneliness going out on a weekend. I think itís just something fundamental that has no geography to it Ė but it has a very specific geography. As a writer, as a singer, as a drunk, itís given me a whole new perspective on the songs Ė the songs have taken on a whole new life.
Q: What do you like to drink?
RH: Guinness. I could drink that forever. Doesnít touch the sides.
Q: But not mixed with anything, like Coke?
RH: What, you mean cocaine?
Q: No, soda.
RH: Hideous. Jesus Christ you must be American. Fucking hell Ė Guinness with soda. Guiness straight. I gave up drinking spirits a long time ago. Occasionally I will have a vodka, cause that is a demon for me. If you have a pint thereís a quantity to it. Red wineís my nemesis. I love it.
Q: Does it make you crazy?
RH: I donít get crazy anymore. I used to.
Q: What about Pulp. Did they get you out of a crazy phase in your life?
RH: I was crazy from being a young lad. Doing drugs and drinking was something I did anyway. It was on the estate where I was growing up Ė everyone did mushrooms. All the kids smoked weed Ė homegrown weed. The thing was then you didnít have heroin, coke and crack. You might get a bit of speed. My perspective is Iím a 40 year-old man and Iíll never do drugs again. The only regret I have, well Iíve got loads Ė every human being has regrets, is Ė Iím with Bob Dylan, never look back. If you look back youíll never be able to change things. I think there are things you can do in your future that can apologize for your past. I wouldnít say that Iíve done anything really bad, although a couple of things just flashed through my mind Ė Iím just a travelling musician, and I was trying to have as good time as possible. Sometimes you have too much of a good time. But to get back to your original question ĎPulp saved meí Ė they reset, kind of re-calibrated the guiding system. They werenít saints, they were all out of their minds in their own ways. That had all finished by the time I started working with them.
Q: What are the songs youíre having fun doing on this tour?
RH: Iím enjoying the new record. We toured it loads in Britain and Europe. Playing it to an American audience Ė our country and yours speak the same language but in actual fact we donít. Our humors totally different, some people get it some people donít. British people are closer to Europeans in their mentality actually. Very subtle things. But itís been a pleasure to see the reactions from the Americans and not just people who are into British music. Itís people who are mid westerners Ė lots of check shirts and baseball caps, guys who just dropped in off work. I like that. Iím a steelworkerís son. My entire outlook on life is from the perspective a steelworker Ė a steel workerís son should I say. I never worked in the steelworks Ė that would be a lie. But that kind of working class outlook Ė just checking it out. A lot of them didnít even know that we played. Weíve had a lot of support from the people who booked us. Tom, the guy who ran the bar in Minneapolis, he was an angel Ė amazing. He worked for hard for what he does.
Q: Is this the first time youíve been in Seattle?
RH: No, we played here a couple of years ago. Next door to where we played [turns out it was the Tractor Tavern] was this record store that had over a million records and a gramophone where you could sit down on a sofa and listen to records. It was great.
Q: I wonder if itís still there. It might be gone.
RH: Well thatís sad. One of the things I do is shopping, hunting for records. People can distract me easily from getting a pint by saying thereís this great record store . . . The bastards only told me that this place existed twenty minutes before we were going onstage. This guy opened the shop for me and I blew like 400 bucks. Dean, our drummer, and I went to the Army Surplus store and got these satchels we can put all our vinyl in to take home.
Q: You recently made a horror movie, Flick?
RH: I am a horror movie. Itís kind of like a rockabilly spoof horror film. It was good fun.
Q: Did you get to be a killer?
RH: Oh no. I got to play a pirate DJ Ė he was called Bobby Blade and he was on a barge on the river in London. Originally when they asked me to do it this film was a really tiny budget film. I first got asked to do the soundtrack to it. Why donít we meet up and go through the script because they wanted pieces of music for the characters. We got to the bit where thereís this Bobby Blade Ė it was like a late 30s guy with glasses and a quiff and I said Ė whoís playing that? And they said, actually you if you want to do it. I said Iíd do it for a laugh because it was a really small part and I thought, I can probably do this. And then it all changed because a lot of money came in. So all my scenes were with Faye Dunaway Ė I was really nervous. Itís like diving in the deep end with lead boots on. But it was good and Faye was really gracious. I told her Iíd never acted before and she said that I was a con man, that I was winding her up. There were also a couple of English actors I really respect like Mark Benton in it who was amazing. Liz Smith was in it as well whoís a classic English actress. The only hard thing about it was that I had to get really violent with Faye. I was brought up to respect women in general, very much, and having never acted before and getting your head into this space where you have to be aggressive towards a woman was something that didnít sit right with me at all.
Q: Are you going to meet with Shane Meadows again?
RH: Weíve talked about it. Thereís quite a few projects weíre gonna do. I kind of introduced him to my life and I took him in a few bars that I go in where there are regular music sessions Ė no rehearsals, musicans just play. It happens every night in this bar in Sheffield. He freaked. Iíve taken loads of musicians there, Jools Holland, Nancy Sinatra Ė I took her in there for a pint. Itís a beautiful place. Weíre maybe going to make a film about that.
Q: Nancy Sinatra seems interesting.
RH: Sheís great - sheís really down to earth. Whenever you work with someone youíre a fan of you always pray that theyíre going to be okay. If ever anybody on the planet was going to be difficult it might have been a little difficult you might have thought it would be the daughter of Frank Sinatra, but she was the exact opposite. She was just like my big sister, we got on great. We still email and speak to each other Ė sheís a very special person in my life. If anybody can be that humble and gone through what sheís gone through and be who she is and still be straight in her head . . . there are people who are shopkeepers who are nuts. Sheís a beautiful person. When we did the recording it was late in the year Ė September or something like that Ė I got home and then it came to Christmas time. This huge package turned up at our house Ė and I mean it was fucking huge Ė a big cardboard package. We couldnít get it in the door. Me and my wife had to open it in the corridor. When we got it all out it was all these hat boxes that went from big to small and when you assembled them all it made a snowman for the kids. Sheíd made it herself Ė she didnít order it from the store Ė it was paper mache and crepe paper. We still put it up. The kids put the tree up today, which made me really homesick. Theyíve got Nancyís snowman. Nancy had filled it with sweets. I didnít know whether to thank her or send her the fucking Dentistís bill. No, it was a really generous and kind gift. That displays what sheís like.
Click here for photos I took at his show.
Sunday, December 21, 2008, 01:52 AM ( 465 views ) - Interviews - Posted by dagmarsieglindeThis interview with Sharin Foo originally appeared on Little Radio in 2007 ahead of the Raveonettes' Electric Duo Tour.
Q: Whatís happening with the Electric Duo Tour?
SF: Actually today we were going to Canada but Suneís had his passport stolen. I donít think weíre going to be able to go to Canada, which is really disappointing to me. Then weíre going to do our West Coast part of the tour in June, which weíre really excited about. We did our East Coast tour already and it was so much fun for us to do it this way Ė just the two of us, a stripped down version, to play the songs in a very minimal way.
Q: Iíve been hearing good things about the show. So Suneís passport just disappeared?
SF: Itís vanished.
Q: Thatís horrible.
SF: It is horrible. Itís very strict getting into Canada, itís always difficult, so thereís just no way. Thereís US visas and Canadian visas so weíve been back and forth with the traffic control group and embassies. This is just a classic obstacle which happens occasionally. I was so looking forward to going to Canada and I havenít seen Sune for a while because Iím living in Los Angeles and heís living in New York.
Q: Have you been able to go back to Denmark at all recently?
SF: Itís been a while since I was in Denmark. I think the last time I was there was when we did a show in January. That was the last time we played with a full band with AC (Anders Christensen, bass) and Jakob (HÝyer, drums). I miss Denmark. I miss my family and my friends. Weíve just confirmed a show in August Ė Iíll be in Denmark in the late summer.
Q: I think it was probably a couple of years ago now when you played for the Danish royalty?
S: We played for the Crown Prince when he was getting married to the Tasmanian Princess. We played a big party at the Royal Theatre and it was the first time that they had rock and roll Ė they have classical music there . . . ballet. It was the first time that they had really noisy, really loud rock music. It was fun Ė we enjoyed it.
Q: How have the Raveonettes changed? Last time I saw you here was when you opened for Depeche Mode.
SF: That was a great tour. It feels like a deconstruction time, a rebuilding. There are a lot of unknown factors. We donít know the release time for the next album. Weíre embracing it and focussing on making a really good album and connecting with the people who really enjoy our music. Itís exciting times because itís really basic. Weíre going back to the original reasons we started this band, with just me and Sune, which is really the core of the band. Then weíre building it from there. Thatís really what this tour is about too, just to be the core of this band, going back to what was the original foundation.
Q: Iíve been listening to the new demos up on your myspace page and they sound great. Are you going to focus more on the new things or a mixture?
SF: Weíre definitely going to play some new stuff. Actually weíre going to play a lot of rare songs, b-sides, songs we havenít really played before live, like Sex Donít Sell and Experiment in Black. Weíre doing a couple of cover songs. On the previous tour we did some Gun Club. We havenít really made up our minds on how weíre going to do this next tour. We might even bring some other person to play some drums or we could play with tracks as well. We just have to be creative about it.
Q: Youíre going to love the Triple Door in Seattle.
SF: Weíre trying to play some small intimate venues.
Q: Itís a jazz club. Itís really cool.
SF: Oh wow, thatís exciting. Weíre bringing some good bands too. We have Midnight Movies for main support and then for weekends weíre bringing the Meek and also the Pity Party. Bands that we really love.
Q: Any music youíre studying right now? I know you have a background in studying some unusual music.
SF: You know, yesterday I was practicing playing drums because thatís my new thing when we go on tour. We both play upright drums. Itís really fun to play drums. Iím practicing but I donít have a drum kit so Iíve been practicing on these pillows at home. Thatís the extent of my studying at this point.
Q: Thatís organic.
SF: Yes. And Iím taking guitar lessons because I feel like itís time I really learned how to play the guitar for real, not just faking it all the way through.
Q: Did it embarrass you when Blender had you on the list of the hottest women in rock?
SF: Itís a surreal concept. I was looking at the fellow hottest girls in rock trying to see if I was in good company or bad company. Everyone from PJ Harvey to Christina Aguilera.
Q: It was an interesting group, you were in good company. I have a strange fashion question for you. You always have the perfect eye-makeup. What do you use?
SF: Thank you, a compliment. A liner, black kohl liner on the inside of the eyes always make the eyes pop when youíre on stage. I like the black smoky eyes and lots of mascara.
Q: Is there a particular brand you use?
SF: I use MAC a lot. They have good eye shadow colors. I use different mascaras Ė Chanel, Shu Uemura. Iím getting into playing with colors too Ė like really strong blues and purples.
Q: Yeah I saw some pictures from the East Coast tour and the colors looked very pretty.
SF: Iím kind of lucky because when we do shoots there are always makeup artists and they have good tips. I like it - itís very soothing when someone is paying attention to you, doing your hair or makeup. I just learn from these people Ė theyíre professionals you know.
Q: Whatís your experience like with videos and photos? I love the photos youíve done with SÝren Solkśr Starbird.
SF: Weíve been working with him even before we left Denmark. Heís from the same small town that Suneís from, in the southern part of Denmark. Weíve always enjoyed working with him also because heís a good friend. Itís always nice to hang around with friends and be creative, even though photo shoots are not always necessarily creative. But they can be fun. Video shoots are fun. When we did Attack of the Ghost Riders that was a very low key, do it yourself kind of video. It was another creative outlet for us. Itís tough because you have to work for like eighteen hours a day. I like the work with imagery.
Q: The Raveonettesí videos and photos are works of art too Ė I am always impressed by them. So whatís been your last substantial vintage clothing purchase?
SF: It wasnít actually clothes, it was an office desk. The last clothes purchase Ė I bought this really beautiful vintage dress that I really love. Like a piece of art from the seventies. It has kind of a Russian feel to it. Subtle but beautiful. Itís from a great store in New York called Family Jewels.
Q: Have you ever gotten anything back from those jerks who took your gear in Brooklyn a couple of years ago?
SF: No, nothing was retrieved. We lost everything. After struggling with the insurance company for a year we got some many back and we were able to repurchase some stuff. It was a positive thing in retrospect Ė what came out of it was that when you lose everything youíre forced to be creative about your sound and building it up again. Sune and I started rethinking about what do we really want, what kind of sound, what kind of pedals. . . That was the positive part of a really negative experience. But, no, we never found anything. Maybe one day. I heard that Sonic Youth got a bunch of stuff back six or seven years after they had everything stolen.
Sunday, December 14, 2008, 05:30 PM ( 10815 views ) - Interviews - Posted by dagmarsieglindeHardy Morris, singer/guitarist/songwriter of Dead Confederate, talked with me before the band played a recent show at Chop Suey in Seattle. Dead Confederate comes from Athens, Georgia and released their first full length cd, Wrecking Ball just this year. It's a sublime cd indeed and Morris' voice is a thundering and hot living thing. Their live set was also a miracle of rock - one you'd be so lucky to experience. I wanted to know other things too but the band's breakthrough song, the Rat, compelled me to ask Morris about run-ins with actual rats.
Q: You had a band in high school - was that fun?
Hardy Morris: Walker [Howle, guitarist] and I always played together, but I played with other folks as well. I met Brantley [Senn, bassist] in high school and he was playing with different folks. He and Jason [Scarboro], our drummer played together in a band in high school. It wasnít until after that that we all wound up together.
Q: I was reading that you studied English.
HM: Yes, I was an English major.
Q: Yeah Ė what was your favorite stuff?
HM: I kind of went through different phases. I had a big poetry phase. I went through a big Brit novel phase as the classes came along. I got obsessed with Bleak House for a while. Itís nuts. And then some of the more modern classes Ė literature and media. It was several years ago so it was when the Internet was really crashing through and taking over. I enjoyed all parts of being an English major.
Q: I just saw the new Masterpiece Theater version of Bleak House Ė it was brilliant.
HM: Anything involving someone spontaneously combusting is interesting. They get in the room and heís gone, but thereís all this gooey stuff.
Hardy Morris onstage at Chop Suey, 2008
Q: Do write all the lyrics for Dead Confederate?
HM: I write the lyrics for my songs and Brantley writes the lyrics for his songs. This album [Wrecking Ball] combined by happenstance 5 songs of mine and 5 of his. We recorded even more songs and we had other songs written.
Q: You recorded it at a set of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre?
HM: It was a studio in Austin. You know the band And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead? It was their old practice space. Back in the Ď70s it was a soundstage where they used to do voiceovers and overdubs for movies. They put out a lot of horror films and one of them was Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It definitely gave it an extra edge. There was a little concrete room, literally Ė the room we recorded in was concrete and painted black. I loved it. It was loud and everything sounded off the walls Ė which I think the album picks up on. It sounds pretty loud. And live.
Q: Are you into horror movies?
HM: I never got too into them. I always liked horror movies for the comedic value in them. I love Freddie Krueger and the Friday the 13th movies but as far as movies go I was always more into historical characters Ė the Wyatt Earp movies and Tombstone.
Q: I love that movie.
HM: Braveheart. Those movies were awesome. In this day and age, being an entertainer and you think about now being a musician or an actor or something . . . I just want people to hear my music. But part of what goes on is fame and what goes into being a musician or an actor. They do interviews and have publicity companies and people writing about them but people back then, like Jesse James or Billy the Kid, they were famous just for being themselves. There was no publicity company or US Magazine and everyone knew who they were. Their personalities were that big Ė itís crazy. Could you imagine that now? Youíd have to shoot a president to have that now. People may know my music Ė but thatís famous. Thatís notoriety.
Q: Who came up with the spider symbol that's on the band's drum kit?
HM: Our friend Joel Wheat. He did the ep art, which was the spider, and the album art. The spider came from an idea he had based off Soviet propaganda art. He had a whole catalog of Soviet stuff he would use for some of our posters. We thought it was really cool. We have a collection of posters that look really cool Ė we need to bust some of them back out and do more of those. Once youíre on the road you have a stock poster for the whole tour, whereas when we were doing a lot more local and southeastern shows we had specific posters that looked cool. I wish we could do more of that but you canít really do all that from a van. Iíd like to get back into that.
Cover art for Dead Confederate's 2008 ep
Q: What places would you like to play?
HM: I like Seattle, itís cool. This is our third time in the vicinity. This is our first club show in Seattle. We played at the [KEXP] Yule Benefit last year, which was just a total blessing - our first time in Seattle. Then we played Sasquatch Festival. It was cool.
Q: I was reading on the Dead Confederate blog about Conan OíBrien playing guitar.
HM: Heís good. When youíre backstage at Conan OíBrien you have your own dressing room with a television set up in there. You can watch whatever want or they also have a channel thatís the dress rehearsal. In the show theyíll do, like 5 jokes but they do 25 and then cut them. So you get to hear all the jokes. He [OíBrien] had this stratocaster strapped around his neck and he played that thing the entire time Ė his monologue and then heíd do interview stuff. I guess it was kind of like his stress reliever. Like that squishy ball or whatever - he had the guitar. Heís really into music. He knew the record and had us sign a vinyl copy for him.
Q: What about rats. Have you had any run-ins with rats?
HM: Actually yeah. We were in New York for CMJ last year Ė it was me and my brother and our booking agent. We were all out after we had played. We were all out drinking and people started to make their way back to the hotel. We decided to keep going, to go to another bar. I was really drunk and needed to go back to the hotel. So I stumbled to the place we were going next and I drank about half my drink and thought Iíve gotta go back, Iím wasted. Weíd been to New York before a couple times so I thought I knew how to get back. Dawsonís like, take a cab and I was like, Iím not gonna take a cab Ė I know how to get back. Iím not wasting any money. So I started walking, and I cut over one street and I cut over another back street and there was a pile of trash and Iím on my cell phone trying to call the hotel to figure out where the hell I was. One rat ran between my legs and I said, shit! As soon as I said shit there were hundreds of them. I was having to run for my life. Theyíre all ahead of me and as soon as I saw a main road I took the first cab I saw.
Q: Were they big rats?
HM: They were big. Little cats Ė a bunch of kittens. Want another rat story? I didnít actually see this Ė my friend did it. They had this rat in their house and they were trying to get it with these traps. It would always get the food off the trap. It was smart. One night they had been out to a bar and they got all drunk. When they got home a friend turned the light on in the kitchen and the ratís just sitting there on the counter, looking at them . My buddy had a bow and arrow for deer hunting and the ratís sitting there, frozen by the light. He got the bow and shot the rat Ė arrow all the way through it Ė stuck it to the wall. Killed it but then theyíre like, fuck, thereís rat blood all over the counter and a dead rat stuck to their wall. [They cleaned it up] and there were these rat rags. Rat blood? You donít want to fuck with rat blood.
Q: Whatís the best thing about Athens?
HM: Thereís a lot good about Athens. Itís got a killer music scene, super supportive, always something going on. Great bands Ė no two bands sound alike. Rare egos. Thereís no competition there between the bands. Thereís no traffic Ė you do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it. Thereís not a lot of jobs that pay a lot of money there Ė if you want to be a musician and a cook at a taco place, itís great. If you want to try to be a banker, move to Atlanta. Itís got tons of musical history and it continues everyday.
Dead Confederate will play several shows in Georgia and Florida through December 24th. You can also see more pix I took of their show at Chop Suey here.
Thursday, December 11, 2008, 08:34 PM ( 696 views ) - CD Reviews - Posted by dagmarsieglindeI adore Christmas music. One of my favorite Christmas songs is O Holy Night, itís just so dramatic. I have always loved it. I listen to Christmas music at anytime of year - I always keep it on my ipod.
Sheryl Crow has released a cd of Christmas tunes called Home for Christmas and she does an amazing version of O Holy Night, as well as 8 other standards and an original song, There is a Star That Shines Tonight. Iíd describe a lot of the interpretation of these songs as bluesy and jazzy. Crow has a flexible voice that goes from the sweetness of The Christmas Song and White Christmas to the sexiness of Merry Christmas, Baby with ease. I also like the delicate Iíll Be Home for Christmas, in particular the gentle guitar solo. The songs just give really good vibes. Iím impressed by the original and beautiful There is a Star That Shines Tonight too. Iíll admit it could be easy to tend towards the schmaltzy with these tunes, but Crow maintains a classy and genuine approach. She even gives Elvis Presley a run for his money on her version of Blue Christmas. You can check out Presley's version here.
Click here for a clip of Crow performing There is a Star That Shines Tonight.
Thursday, December 4, 2008, 05:16 PM ( 729 views ) - Interviews - Posted by dagmarsieglindeSeattle's Blood Red Dancers sat down with me at the Comet before a recent show. The band, comprised of Aaron Poppick (lead singer, bass) Kevin R. Lord (drums & vocals) and Julian Thomas (keys& vocals), released an ep recently called Let Him Fight, I'll Be in the Breadline. It's one of the best releases of this year. I found these guys to be engaging offstage. Onstage they are still engaging but alarming in their intensity.
Q: Who came up with the name Blood Red Dancers?
Aaaron Poppick: I did. Iíd heard a story about Aborigines Ė I think itís a custom for more than one tribe in Australia Ė when theyíd kill their enemies they would bathe in their blood and do war dances.
Kevin R. Lord: At least thatís the rumor.
AP: Some of the tribes still perform the dance, but they donít use blood anymore Ė they use rocks and shards.
KRL: Itís supposed to resemble blood.
AP: We just liked the imagery.
Q: I like it. . . are you all originally from Seattle?
AP: Weíre all from California. Julianís originally from England Ė Iíll let him tell that. We met in California and we moved up here at different times. Weíve all known each other since we were very young.
Q: Julian, where in England did you grow up?
Julian Thomas: Redditch, itís near the Midlands. Itís famous for fishhooks.
Q: How did you learn to play music?
AP: Julian and I had been in a punk band since we were 14. Julian originally played guitar but then he started taking classical piano lessons when he was 15.
AP: Kevin doesnít know how to play the drums.
KRL: I have no idea how to play drums.
Q: Youíre self-taught.
KRL: I just figured it out a year ago. I generally like hitting things with sticks.
AP: Heíd never played drums and it just came naturally. Weíve been playing for 10 years and he knows how to keep up with us. I donít know how it works.
KRL: I took one lesson a couple months ago with the drummer of Diminished Men. Heís amazing.
Kevin R. Lord
Q: Who writes the music and lyrics?
AP: I write the structure and then we all write the music. I mostly write all the lyrics and then I write a bass structure. Julian writes the meat of the music.
Q: Are you doing more recording?
AP: Hopefully in 2009. Weíre writing this winter. I think weíre going to try to get back in the studio late spring/early summer.
Q: Good. . . what do you think has influenced you?
KRL: Not the band.
AP: You know when you watch the History Channel and you see all the tanks driving over the skulls and stuff?
KRL: We just think thatís kind of typical.
AP: Pharmaceutical commercials. Moral decay. The decline of society. Recently Kevin paid a guy $120 to move his mattress out of our apartment. You canít just leave a mattress out on the road anymore Ė people look down on it. $120 dollars in some countries can feed a whole family.
KRL: I couldnít even get rid of a nice comfortable bed.
AP: We just like dark, cynical imagery. Shit that makes people uncomfortable. We really like Swans, the band, their attitude.
KRL: Thereís enough dark imagery on the news every night to write songs for the rest of my life.
Q: How did you decide not to have a guitarist in the band?
JT: When we first started I was on guitar, keyboards and occasional singing. The songs I ended up liking the most were the ones with him [Poppick] singing, him [Lord] on drums and me on keyboards.
KRL: Heís a lot better as a pianist than he is as a guitarist. I mean, youíre a good guitarist, but he shines on piano.
Q: The ep stunned me. Do you feel like youíve created something different from what other people are doing?
AP: Weíre very much trying.
KRL: We want to mix our influences. If something sounds too much like a jazz song or too much like a blues song weíll mix it up.
Q: The pix of you taken by Mary Henlin . . . those are great. Whoís the girl with the rabbit head?
KRL: His [Thomasí] girlfriend. We rented that hotel room and got so fucked up and she was sober. We stayed up all night and we look completely gone. We look like scumbag freaks, which is what we were going for. Maryís good.
You can see more photos I took of their show at the Comet here.
Blood Red Dancers next play the Bit Saloon in Ballard on February 21, 2009.
Friday, November 21, 2008, 05:21 PM ( 1705 views ) - CD Reviews - Posted by dagmarsieglindeItís about time there was a really awesome Hanukkah cd to gather traditional and new songs and, yes, I have to make a terrible dreidel pun Ė put a new spin on them. And who is the person to do this? None other than Erran Baron Cohen (brother of Sacha and composer of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan). Baron Cohen brings an eclectic and yet entirely suitable group of artists to his compilation, Songs in the Key of Hanukkah.
From Israeli artists Yasmin Levy, Idan Raichel and Avivit Caspi to New Yorkís Y-Love to Jules Brookes, not one of the performances falls short. Hanukkah oh Hanukkah starts the cd off with a bit of rap flavor from Y-Love Ė and he raps his part in Yiddish. Dreidel, one of my very favorites (who couldnít love this song?) is again updated with a more, shall I say urban nuance to it. The Ladino song Ocho Kandalikas gets a jazzy treatment, including the sultry vocals of Yasmin Levy. Original song Spin It Up has some beautiful trumpet playing from Baron Cohen and itís just all around fun. Jules Brookes appears again on Look To The Light, a positive and very happy piece thatís actually inspiring. Another favorite of mine is Relics of Love and Light, featuring a gorgeous combination of vocals from Levy, Raichel and Caspi.
The cd wraps up with My Hanukkah (Keep the Fire Alive) and Maíoz Tzur. My Hanukkah is nearly all Y-Love with some nice backing vocals by Israeli/British singer Dana Kerstein. Y-Love exhorts us to defend the tradition and then I think this is done in the end with Dana Kersteinís performance of Maíoz Tzur. Iím perhaps biased because I am a big fan of holiday music and yet I think this cd has great crossover appeal.
Watch the brilliant video for Dreidel here.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008, 07:02 PM ( 743 views ) - Interviews - Posted by dagmarsieglindeDan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip come from the UK and they are brilliant. They recently visited Seattle for the second time and while Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip had their dinner before the eveningís show, I asked them all sorts of questions. Things about tattoos, the video for Beat That My Heart Skipped, and what they think of Prince.
Q: I saw your video based on Cribs Ė it was fantastic.
Scroobius Pip: Glad you liked it. Itís a nice little house.
Q: What kinds of things have you cooked on your George Foreman Grill?
SP: I cook anything but then I got dragged into the actual George Foreman brand, like pork and beefsteaks and turkey. They are really low fat. I donít really eat any fruit or vegetables so making eating meat healthier for me is a winner. Iím healthy, as you can see my dinner is 4 chunks of meat [he was eating chicken satays].
Q: You need your protein. Do you take vitamins though?
SP: Not really. Iíve started to be healthier and eat more vegetables now but by anyone elseís standards Iím unhealthy.
Q: What kinds of things do you read, like on the road?
SP: I canít read in vehicles.
Dan Le Sac: Chuck Palahniuk and Irvine Welsh. But every now and then I pick up The Hitchhikerís Guide to the Galaxy.
Q: I looked up your hometown, Stanford-le-Hope, and I couldnít find too much on it but there was a guide online to hooking-up spots.
SP: Really? I need to look that website up.
Q: Is there a big singles scene there?
SP: Not really. Thereís not enough of anything for there to be any kind of scene. I think thereís like probably eight pubs, a few takeaways, a pool hall . . . thereís a library, itís a small one but itís decent. Not a lot going on there. My mom runs the libraries in the area Ė thatís how I know theyíre good libraries. Theyíve got our album in there, so it must be good.
Q: Iíll have to look at the site again and see if maybe the library is one of the hook-up spots.
SP: Yeah, it might be. Kind of bizarre.
Q: I read youíve been doing a cover of Sugababes on the tour.
SP: Yes, the Sugababesí Push the Button. A brilliant pop song.
DLS: We donít do it in America though.
SP: Not many people know who the Sugababes are [in America]. Weíve got three covers that we do and only one of them is by an American. [People think] that weíre doing it ironically but weíre not.
Q: Dan, you studied photography at University of Reading? Was it commercial or art?
DLS: Photography and Digital Imaging Ė a general thing, somewhere in between useful and not useful. It was cool. It was a nice way to spend three years of my life although I worked full time while I was at Uni.
Q: Did you two meet at University?
SP: No, we met at College properlyĖ before Uni. Then we both went off to Uni, then we met up again at HMV when we were working in the record shop. Then we re-met up again on myspace. Weíve had a long career in meeting and losing each other.
Q: I was reading you do all your song writing via email?
SP: All over email. Weíve still never sat down really and written together. Thereís not as many conflicts and youíre not on each otherís backs. To make a change to a beat or develop it could take ages, so while Iím sat there waiting for another chunk Iíll get anxious and annoyed. And Dan will bet annoyed because heíll be aware that Iím waiting for this extra little bit. It works better to do it over email and give it the appropriate amount of time.
Dan Le Sac
Q: I'm wondering, how many tattoos do you have?
SP: Iíve got four tattoos and two piercings, all hidden away.
Q: Thereís one on your arm.
SP: Thatís the battery compartment, where I keep my batteries. Iíve got one on my lip.
[He shows me the tattoo of his name on the inside of his lower lip.]
Q: Oh god. Thatís awesome Ė that must have hurt.
SP: It was all right Ė it wasnít that bad. It only took 10 minutes. Every one always assumes that but it only took ten minutes.
DLS: Whereas Iíve had my whole body tattooed. Iím mainly scar tissue.
Q: Thatís going to give me nightmares. . . so, Prince. Is this someone you are both into?
DLS: I would say Scroobius is slightly more into Prince than I am. Iím more a greatest hits man.
SP: I worship him. I think heís great.
Q: I noticed in your Cribs send-up you had a dvd of his videos. Whatís your favorite Prince video?
SP: Iíd like to go for Cream. Itís got this whole preamble before it starts. I havenít watched any in a while because Iíve been on the road so much. Iím really into Darling Nikki at the moment as a Prince song. Iím not sure if thereís a video for that one Ė Iíll have to look when I get home.
DLS: Wasnít the last time you watched that when you got pulled over by the police?
SP: We were on our way back from a gig, so itís me and [friend] Paul and the driver. So they pull us over, open the back of the van and thereís me and Paul with no shirts on, drinking wine and watching Prince videos. It was a weird scenario. Weíd played Brighton the night before and both of us had got tattoos to mark the tour. Weíd sweated a lot with these fresh tattoos and they were dripping. The police just popped their heads and go, okay? That was a weird experience.
DLS: I led that.
SP: A good tour story.
Q: Prince will get you into trouble.
SP: He just makes you take your shirt off.
Q: Where did you find the girls for the Beat that My Heart Skipped video?
DLS: We found them on myspace.
SP: I put a bulletin out saying that we needed some girls for a video. The director got a couple of professional pole dancers in for some of the pole dancing. It was meant to be set in a strip club but not your typical one. We didnít want bleached blonde [hair] and fake breasts . . . we went for more alternative looking girls. The girl whoís playing the one who isnít a stripper, the one at the bar being hit on, is a singer called Paloma Faith. Again as we have a very low budget or no budget it needs to be favors. All of our videos have included myspace bulletins.
Q: It was good casting.
SP: One of the girls, Nina Kate is on the cover of Bizarre Magazine. Sheís got a clothing company. The latex stuff (in the video) is from her clothing company. It works as a good advert, so thatís cool.
Q: How would you describe the look of Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip?
SP: Hairy. I wear a hat sometimes. I like leather ties Ė I always wear a leather tie on stage.
DLS: Iíve recently moved to wearing a round-necked tee from a long time wearing a collared tee.
SP: A polo shirt was typical of Dan for a while.
DLS: Oh Ė balding. Iím losing my hair. Thatís part of our look.
SP: Itís true. I think that [Danís] sideburns are getting bigger and bigger and longer and longer and turning into a beard as the hair disappears on top in an Einstein-esque manner.
DLS: And that guy was a hit with the ladies.
SP: He was.
DLS: [Speaking of] brains not brawn Ė Stephen Hawking. He managed to leave his wife and cheated on his wife with his nurse. And then married her and had two kids.
SP: I donít think thatís an indication of brains over brawn. Callum Best is a big hit with the ladies in the UK and heís an idiot, but heís very handsome. Whereas Stephen Hawking has a lot of money, which I think influences the deal on that kind of thing in general.
DLS: I donít know how much money Iíd need Ė he does need a lot of looking after.
SP: But still thatís a good wage. My girlfriendís a carer so she looks after people like Stephen Hawking on far less. [For Stephen Hawking] itís like Iím your carer but also your girlfriend. Thatís all the girl had to do, surely.
DLS: They had two kids!
SP: They did not. They may have adopted two kids or may have built two kids.
Q: Heís so smart though I donít know what anyone would talk to him about.
DLS: Jazz Ė he likes jazz. You can talk silly voices. Famous cyborgs.
SP: Iím sure he could get any voice, so you could say tonight I want to have a chat with Sean Connery and heíll type in as Sean Connery. Thatís how he gets the ladies.
DLS: His voice in his head now is that computer voice. Heís had it so long so when they tried to upgrade his computer system, theyíd given him a new, more humanized voice and it freaked him out.
SP: Iíve heard about this before but I donít think in sentences in my own mind. I donít think, I wonder if I need to go to the toilet? Yeah, I might as well . . .
DLS: But when that sounds going out and coming back into his ear it was not sounding like him. Weíve had this conversation before and I couldnít answer it, so Iíve spent some time waiting for this topic to come back up.
SP: Thereís a podcast that Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington do Ė Karl wonders if people think in their own accents and use terminology in their heads thatís local to them. And they figured out, particularly the terminology thing, you donít think, "Happen I will."
DLS: But thereís one school of thought that says that you do. [There are some people] who visualize their thoughts and others who word them out. Like I canít imagine something, full stop. If he [Scroobius] walks away I canít imagine him. I can describe him perfectly but I canít get a clear, fixed image.
Q: I have been reading a lot about your beard, Dan. What is the ideal conditioner?
SP: Aussie Leave-In Ė you can leave it in. I havenít got a lot of time Ė a lot of good conditioners you need to leave in to soak for 3-4 minutes and then rinse out. Iím an on the go guy.
Q: How did you come across the artist, Jock Mooney?
SP: We saw this little Hitler in a tutu figurine. There was some dumb luck with the line Thou Shalt Always Kill and Hitler stealing Nietzscheís ideas of having to destroy to progress. . .
Album art for Thou Shalt Always Kill.
Q: Whatís the story behind Waiting for the Beat to Kick In?
SP: It was originally a rambling spoken word piece. All the people I meet in it are film characters. All the messages that they give are messages I learnt from that character in that film. I love films, films that have got a good meaning.
I looked the characters up from Waiting for the Beat to Kick In and here are their respective movies:
Elwood P. Dowd = Harvey
Lloyd Dobler = Say Anything
Billy Brown = Buffalo 66
Walter Neff = Double Indemnity
They did not perform their cover of Sugababeís Push the Button Ė instead they did a smashing cover of Princeís Cream.
Currently they are touring in Europe.
Look at more photos from their Chop Suey show here.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008, 07:11 PM ( 3370 views ) - Interviews - Posted by dagmarsieglindeI talked with Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo of the Raveonettes before their most recent show in Seattle. I wanted to know about what scares these cool people and I had to grill Sune on his Christmas fixation. This is a band I fell in intense love with the first moment I heard them Ė they have held this love now for over six years.
Since the release of the astounding Lust Lust Lust in early 2008, Sharin Foo had her first daughter, Molly, and the band released three more eps: Beauty Dies, Sometimes They Drop By and the Raveonettes Remixed . Plus there's talk of a Christmas ep.
Q: I have some questions that I have never seen asked of you two. What are your earliest memories?
Sune Rose Wagner: That is actually a very good question. Sometimes I think about it and I really donít know. I have a lot of childhood memories but I donít know which would be my earliest.
Sharin Foo: I think some of my earliest are probably from when I was in China Ė when I was three years old. I think that was so intense and different for me. I have some very vivid memories from being there. I was in a village where my grandfather was from and they didnít have any toilets. So my dad had to take me outside and they had these little black pigs that would run around and I was so scared that they would come towards me. And they would Ė they would get into everything.
Q: That would be scary.
SRW: Thatís terrible.
Q: So what are some good memories Ė or bad, I guess?
SRW: I remember burning my hand on the electrical lawn mower once. I couldnít have been very old because my dad was still living at home Ė it was before they got divorced. I remember it being wrapped up in a big bandage and we used to call it the crocodile because it resembled a weird looking crocodile. But I think I was pretty old, like six or seven. I lost all my memories.
Q: Sharin, your dad was a musician Ė what does your mom do?
SF: My mom works in accounting.
Q: Sune, youíve mentioned your parents werenít musical?
SRW: No, my dad was working with antennas . . . an engineer. My momís been a school secretary all her life.
Q: How did they come up with your names, like your middle name?
SRW: My middle name is my momís name.
Q: And they spelled Sharin with an i?
SF: Thatís from my dad, back in those days when he was meditating a lot. I was supposed to be Simon if I had been a boy. I donít have a middle name.
Q: What scares you? Whatís your biggest fear?
SRW: My biggest fear? I think thereís a lot of them.
SF: There are fears on different levels. I mean Iím scared of spiders and Iím scared of the dark. But if you say biggest fear it would be the atomic bomb, or a big world war.
SRW: Iíll quote that guy from that great movie Young Sherlock Holmes ďMy biggest fear is that I never want to be aloneĒ. I think thatís kind of true. I like that.
Q: What frustrates you?
SRW: A million things. Lack of sleep. Being sick. Working too hard.
Q: Is this the first cd youíve produced on your own?
SF: No - Whip It On, too.
Q: Is it easier to do it all yourself?
SRW: Weíve never really worked with a producer in that sense. With Richard Gottehrer [producer of Chain Gang of Love] he was our friend, so it was more based on friendship and wine. Iíve never tried to work with, you know, Rick Rubin so I have no idea what that would be like. Weíre not a regular band Ė we donít have a drummer and a bass player and we donít write songs together. Itís very natural to do stuff at home.
Q: What are some of your scariest or best drug experiences?
SRW: Scariest drug experience? I donít think Iíve ever had one of those.
Q: Thatís good.
SF: I had a bad experience with ecstasy. I was hyperventilating. And then one time I was smoking weed . . . hash is not my drug because I get too stoned.
Q: I was reading that you edited the video for You Want the Candy Ė do you want to do more of that?
SRW: I hope not, no. We [Sharin and I] werenít in the same place together and we needed a video. Someone had to do it.
Q: I just thought maybe youíd found some new love.
SRW: No, it would probably be fun if you had time to do it.
Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo in Seattle, March 2008 - photo by Dagmar
Q: Was the new cd difficult to make? It seems like the vocals are very complicated.
SRW: I donít think in that sense it was hard but it took a little bit longer to find out what we wanted. Thatís actually the part I donít like about starting a new album. It seems very exciting at first but then once you get started you hit on dead ends. One day you like this and the next day you like something else. It just seems so confusing. I like it when you know what you want.
SF: It wasnít more difficult than the other albums in the recording process but like Sune was saying, it was a longer time coming.
Q: How did you decide The Beat Dies was going to be just Sharin? And Blush is mostly Sune?
SRW: The Beat Dies just sounded really great with her voice on it. It just fit the song really well. With the Blush thing, I think I had just recorded a vocal on it, so I had it but I just ended up liking it. It seemed very passionate, so we liked that. Both of those songs were very hard songs to harmonize to.
SF: Itís also nice to utilize the fact that we have two different voices. Oftentimes when we sing together they sort of melt together. Itís hard to tell whoís who, and I think it makes it more multi-faceted Ė the different personalities in the vocals.
Q: I was reading something in Filter about Sune liking Christmas a lot and having Christmas trees up all year round.
SRW: I like all the lights. I think itís nice ornamentation. Itís just a nice place for me to relax and feel comfortable. Itís not something I really think about, it just makes me feel comfortable.
Q: I can understand that. There are a lot chimes and bell sounds in your music Ė do you think thatís where it comes from?
SRW: It could be. When I was a kid I was alone a lot and I liked being alone. I used to sit in my room Ė in the old days it used to snow a lot, it doesnít snow that much anymore Ė and I just remember sitting in my room. It was all nice and warm and it was dark and snowing outside and I had the lights on. It was just a nice place for me to be Ė I felt inspired and very happy. Maybe itís just something thatís stuck with me over the years. I do like a lot of old Christmas music that I think is very beautiful. Even some of the tacky stuff like Perry Como. Nat King Cole, Phil Spector, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Sinatra Ė thereís a lot of good stuff on it. And obviously with the bells and chimes and stuff, some of it came from there for sure. We used to use the jingles a lot in our music. We donít use it on this album but even from Whip it On there are a lot of jingles on there. That Great Love Sound has jingles.
Q: I love that.
SF: We do listen to Christmas music. Maybe we are sort of brainwashed.
Q: What do have dreams about?
SRW: I have nightmares all the time. Everything Ė killing people, shooting people . . . at least four times a week. I think Iím just growing through a change and my dreams reflect that. I need to get rid of a lot of bad things, apparently.
SF: I dream about my friends a lot Ė and my family.
Q: Hereís kind of an open question, what do you find sexy?
SRW: I like women who have jobs. I like women who are very determined and have a goal. I like career people, people who strive for something, who burn for something. I think thatís very sexy. I never really liked people who didnít want to do anything or who were lazy. That does not appeal to me whatsoever.
SF: People with strong personalities Ė people who have a strong sense of who they are and what they want. Sweetness, intelligence and humanity. Things like that.
Q: I asked Sharin about this in our earlier interview, but Sune do you like shopping for clothes?
SRW: I do. I donít do it very often but Iím good at speed shopping for clothes. I like vintage shopping when I know the stores are good, like in Portland. I always find great stuff there.
Q: I read somewhere that you called this your Doors album? Do you like the Doors?
SRW: I love the Doors. I meant in the sense that we have a keyboard bass on the album which the Doors used to have. If you listen to Black Satin, that rhythm is typical Ray Manzarek style playing like he does in The End and all those great songs. Thatís very typical in playing the piano Ė you would play the bass like that. It also has a mystifying, California feel to it that I think the early Doors had, when they used to make music out on Venice Beach.
Q: What do you do in your downtime to relax?
SRW: I watch movies, I walk a lot, I go out to restaurants and I sit at home and write music and read. I go to the shooting range, actually. I really like to shoot rifles. I just try to do fun stuff. I go to yoga sometimes. I want to go play golf Ė Iíve done that a bunch of times and I thought it was relaxing. Maybe Iíll even go take a swing at a baseball, why not?
Q: Youíre really open to trying different things.
SF: For me itís really, like Suneís saying, to enjoy your life when youíre home. I just really love having my home and my family Ė the books and the movies Ė I love cooking. I like my every day life when Iím home. Itís very exotic to me because I donít get to spend much time there. I go hiking in the mountains around Los Angeles. I like to go to the Pacific Ocean.
Q: Have you seen any cougars yet while youíre hiking?
SF: I havenít. I havenít seen rattlesnakes yet either. Iíve seen possums. Thereís lots of little animals around. Skunks.
Q: Do either of you have pets?
SF: A cat.
Q: Sune, you should have a cat too.
SF: He had a dog but he didnít like it, so he sold it.
SRW: I made a profit on it.
SRW: I should go into business.
Q: What kind of dog was it?
Q: I have a question thatís probably kind of impolite. How did you hurt your tooth?
SRW: It just fell out one day.
Q: Did it hurt?
SRW: No, it was just an old tooth. I used to have a lot of accidents as a kid so most of my teeth are fake or half fake.
Q: Itís charming though.
SRW: Thatís what some people say. My mom doesnít think itís very charming. She thinks I look like a thug.
I took photos of their show that night and you can check out their tour dates here.
And I recommend listening to Aly, Walk With Me.
Monday, November 3, 2008, 04:19 PM ( 866 views ) - CD Reviews - Posted by dagmarsieglindeI want to get this out of the way Ė Blood Red Dancers sound a lot like the Doors. Thereís nothing wrong with this Ė the Doors are one of my top bands ever. Would I still like this band, if say, I had never heard the Doors? Yes, yes, yes.
Their debut ep, Let Him Fight, Iíll Be In The Breadline, starts with Sweetieís Gettiní Mobbed, and it sounds like an ode to a stripper: I like watching all those boys watching you/ Some might say Iím jealous, and yeah I guess itís true/ I find it amazing watching all that watching you go through/ I like watching all those boys watching you. It, as do the other six tracks, has a throbbing bass line that you would do well to pay close attention to. Itís also got warm keyboards - itís sinister and it coordinates well with the rattling and brutal voice of singer Aaron Poppick.
Blood Red Dancers - photo by Mary Henlin
1000 Times features a harmonica and organ. Strange? Damn right. Does it work though? Absolutely: Drinkiní that liquor gets me mean sometimes/ If I get that woman Lord Iíll be fine. . . You take one look at her and sheíll heal your eyes. Itís no wonder the band lists drinking, pretty girls and pretty girls drinking as influences on their myspace. The vocal delivery is again so brutal you feel like the singer is right in the room with you. All For You is a hallucinogenic song and itís got lovely guitars carrying it.
Fur Skin Coat is a weird romantic piece: Gonna get my woman something real, real nice/ once I get those pennies off that dead guyís eyes. Itís spooky with what sounds like jangling chains and ghosts singing in the background. The Lamb is again sleazy and dramatic Ė and bless it for that. It swirls out of control as sometimes you want rock to do: Come and take my hand/ as we burn down the land. . . if we do it in the name of God/ Then the blood will wash off. Muddy Water starts off Poppickís groan, then elaborates with a cool, cool bass line.
This Seattle band has made one of the best eps/cds of the year. I want more.