Premiere: Listen to the ‘three short songs’ EP from rincs

Premiere: Listen to the ‘three short songs’ EP from rincs

Today we’re premiering a new EP from the Los Angeles band rincs, whose core members are Rebecca Ramirez and Bjorn Winberg. Listen to the band’s new EP, three short songs, below. Bjorn is also the composer of the awesome theme music of the Culture Creature podcast. 

Rincs provided the following statement about their new EP: “Rebecca Ramirez and Bjorn Winberg met in Los Angeles in late 2018 and realized that they enjoyed a lot of the same music and authors. So they formed a band and called it rincs. They were both Ableton users, which made it easy to send demo projects back and forth. Two E.P.s followed in early 2019, which brought the band some pleasant (although unexpected) attention. They have been recording and performing nonstop, and this month brings their third E.P., three short songs.”

Listen here:

See rincs perform live:

  • July 20th at Fais Do Do (Los Angeles)
  • August 4th at The Redwood (Los Angeles)

Published at Thu, 27 Jun 2019 01:05:48 +0000

Exclusive Live Photos of Foals Live at the Bataclan in Paris

Exclusive Live Photos of Foals Live at the Bataclan in Paris

PARIS, FRANCE | There’s something incredibly unique about Foals. If you ask one hundred different people how to describe their music, you’ll get 100 different answers. How many bands can say that—in a good way that is? I’ve seen these guys live three times now and this is the best they’ve ever been—one thousand fucking percent. Maybe it’s the intimacy of the venue? Perhaps the fact that the buzz on these guys never seems to die? Or maybe it’s just that from start to finish the band delivers a punch to the gut that channels perfectly into controlled chaos.

Foals have figured out a way to masterfully combine the best of synth pop, new wave, and post-punk into a universally appealing sound. Back that up with a cutting edge light show and a frontman who spends an equal amount of time crowd surfing and diving off balconies than he does actually on stage singing, and you have arguably the hottest band in the UK.

Touring in support of part one of their hotly anticipated fifth and sixth studio albums, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1 and Part 2 (Part 1 was released in March while the latter will release in September) Foals played a more intimate venue than what most fans are used to.

These guys also have a different rule for photographers. While the industry standard for almost every show is the first three songs, no flash, Foals break the trend by only allowing photographers to shoot during the last three songs. (The most accepted reason being that musicians look their best during the first three songs, although there’s also a story that Springsteen came up with the rule in the ’70s because the photographers were becoming increasingly distracting.)

The setlist that night would pull heaviest from the latest album, opening up with “On the Luna,” straight into “Mountain at My Gates” and “Snake Oil.” But the real treat came during the end of the set—the encore of “What Went Down” is one of the heaviest things I’ve ever seen live. Yannis Philippakis is notorious for jumping into the crowd, but this night he would take it up a notch by pulling a full-on Eddie Vedder “Even Flow” balcony dive. This is truly one of those reviews where the pictures can tell a much better story than the text.

All in all, it was a brilliant show and I would 100% go see the band once again here in London if the opportunity arises, but unfortunately the Ally Pally is completely sold out. But don’t fret, with a second record dropping later this year I’m sure we’ll get plenty more chances to see Foals in the future.

On a personal note, this was my first time to the Bataclan. While it’s hard not to think about the tragedy that occurred with the terrorist attacks, it was inspiring to see that music has prevailed over fear. I can’t begin to imagine what it was like to have been there, but I just wanted to show my support. The energy in the sold-out venue sent a message, as I’m sure it does with each passing show. If you get a chance to see a show at here, by all means do so.

Published at Mon, 17 Jun 2019 22:43:17 +0000

Periphery’s Jake Bowen On The “Unspoken Cosmic Thing” That Defines His Band

Periphery’s Jake Bowen On The “Unspoken Cosmic Thing” That Defines His Band

Periphery interview

Photo by Travis Shinn

Periphery have carved themselves a unique legacy after nearly a decade of boundary-pushing music that’s as heavy as it is textured and unpredictable. Their newest full-length, Hail Stan, continues that tradition. The album is also the band’s first on their label 3DOT Recordings.

We spoke with Periphery guitarist Jake Bowen about striving for musical growth, the “unspoken cosmic thing” that defines a Periphery riff, and two of his guitar heroes: his aunt (former member of the trailblazing metal band Meanstreak) and Metallica’s Kirk Hammett. Stream ‘Garden In The Bones’ here and read the Periphery interview below:


Periphery Interview

Dan Redding: When I think of Periphery, the first thing that comes to mind is the masterful level of musicianship. Are you a believer in the idea that it takes ten thousand hours to master your craft?

Jake Bowen: I think you never truly master anything. I don’t know if it’s nihilistic of me to say this, but no matter what, there’s always gonna be somebody better than you. You’re never truly ‘the master’ as the title implies. I try not to look at it as, ‘Once I reach a certain point, then I cross this threshold.’ I look at it as, I’ll never cross the threshold, and the whole point of doing it is to constantly get better. All these things are on a scale, and you’re just somewhere on that scale.

How do you make sure that you don’t plateau, and that you keep growing and pushing into new areas?

I think if you say that to yourself, and you have those thoughts, like, ‘Oh man, I feel like I’m plateauing,’ there’s a certain something in certain people that can identify that… There’s no surefire way to remove or undo some sort of plateauing experience. But as long as you try to stay as self-aware as possible – again, no one is truly self-aware, it’s just different shades of self-awareness – as long as you stay aware of it as best as you can, I think that’s probably the best way of not getting to that point. I wake up every morning and I’m just like, ‘Okay, what am I gonna work on today?’ Sometimes, I need to change things up, or think outside of the box as they say. To not let plateauing happen, or writer’s block, or come up with stuff that is a breath of fresh air, and you’re not rehashing former glory.

I know you have an electronic music project. Is looking outside the genre of heavy music part of how you push your musicianship forward?

Absolutely. I don’t really listen to a lot of heavy music anymore. I never thought I’d really see that day, just growing up the way I did. I fell in love with heavy metal. It’s something that I’ve listened to since I was a really little kid. Lately, I just feel like the things that were present in my childhood are just in much smaller quantities.

The different genres of heavy metal, the different scenes of heavy metal, are becoming way more defined. There’s so much more out there. It kind of segregates everything. I don’t really have a grasp on what’s cool and heavy, or what would be considered good heavy metal. I’m exposed to my friends’ bands, but I’d say that my biggest inspiration – and the main reason why I like writing metal – is because I don’t listen to it. I don’t burn myself out on it. I don’t wanna say it’s a bad time for metal music, because it’s not – there’s tons of good albums. I just find more inspiration elsewhere.

What elements does a guitar riff have to have in order to be a great Periphery guitar riff?

Sometimes we get into that conversation in the studio when we’re writing or on tour. We kind of boiled it all down to: [the riff should] give everyone in the room a certain, ‘Yeah that’s sick,’ or ‘No, that’s not sick.’ I know that’s really abstract… We know it when we have it. There’s an unspoken cosmic thing. It’s pretty humorous.

We were talking about how you push yourself to keep growing. You’re one of three guitarists in Periphery. Do you guys push each other to grow?

Oh, absolutely. I owe a debt of gratitude to everybody in the band, but especially Mark and Misha, the other two guitar players. The reason the band has been able to progress – at least my interpretation of progression, because there’s a lot of people who think we’re just doing the same thing over and over again, and they might be right, I dunno… I’m in a band with these two other guys who are just constantly getting better and writing really interesting stuff, where I’m like, ‘Oh, show me that! Show me how you did that!’ I take what I learned from them and try to reinterpret it from my own taste, or whatever I’m being inspired by at the moment. It’s kind of a perpetual motion machine amongst the three of us. We’re just constantly like feeding off of each other’s inspiration. Without that, I don’t think the band would’ve gone very far.

Another thing that stood out to me while I was reading interviews and learning more about the band was that you seem to get along really well. Periphery seems like a happy and wholesome band. What are the keys to getting along with your band members?

I love that you brought that up because for a long time, it wasn’t like that. There were times when I hated certain people in the band. Because there was an almost unspoken – you can tell by the actions of the people in the band, and the enthusiasm for the music, that there’s this unspoken appreciation for what we have. A global appreciation for what we have. I don’t think any of us have gotten into a shouting match, but it’s gotten close. It always comes back down to earth at some point in the argument where it’s like, ‘Okay. Let me identify the ways that I’ve been acting like an asshole, and I will do better.’ Then the other person says the same exact thing.

It’s not like a toxic relationship. We have disagreements like everyone else, but we also respect what the other guy thinks. We don’t badmouth each other. There’s a lot of respect, and I think it comes from this appreciation. It’s like: ‘Look what we have. We could either end up broken up, or we could continue on just like the way that we’re going, fighting all the time, being jerks to each other, and maybe still make it, and get to the point where we’re all detached from each other on the road, and it’s just a job.’ That sounds horrific to me. I’ve heard stories of bands that are like this. I just wouldn’t do it. I’d go work on a farm or something, if that was what it was going to be like. The other outcome is, just learning what the other person needs, and trying to accommodate them. If everyone is doing that, if everyone is feeling that way, then no one is without. It’s just appreciation, because we’re happy to be doing this.

You guys created your own record label to release the band’s music. What’s the most misunderstood thing about monetizing music in 2019?

I think the first thing to understand is that now we’re at a point in the industry where it changes – sometimes on a weekly basis – how you’re supposed to get your music out there, and what that means. Maybe ten years ago was kind of the end of this era where it was like, ‘Okay, you start a band, you play local shows, you sell tickets, you put your music online if you could.’ There was a kind of set way of doing things. Now, there is sort of a set way of doing things at our level. But as far as bands in general, or signing new bands, or bands that don’t have a strong following yet, it’s kinda hard to tell them what direction they need to go in in terms of promoting their music.

I think the one thing that hasn’t changed is people’s love of live music and live performances. That’s why the touring market is so saturated now. That’s really the best way to profit from the art. It’s also hard to get steady touring gigs or to get enough of a following where you can tour. It’s so incredibly difficult to monetize this stuff. But as a label, we encourage people to play shows, to put on a performance that people would pay money to see, and that give you a chance to sell music and merchandise at the show. You’re front-facing and you’re giving something that people can’t replicate or use the internet to duplicate. That would be my focus if I was going to start over: get a good touring practice going. You don’t know if people are gonna stream your music. You don’t know if people are going to follow you online or if you have a strong social media presence. Because it’s just been diluted with people posting their bands online. ‘Here’s our music video, we’re really really sick, you should check us out.’ People become deaf to that. I think the way to get around that is to put on a good show, because when you put on a good show, that’s unique.

You raise this idea that there’s no blueprint because the industry’s changing all the time, and the delivery methods of social media and music streaming is all changing all the time. It makes you feel like the possibilities are endless. Personally, I feel like I should take advantage of that. But then I think: what am I supposed to do, reinvent the wheel? That’s kind of an overwhelming prospect, too. How do you approach that idea that there’s no blueprint and there’s total freedom?

Blind luck. There’s kind of a template of things that you can do to promote your music and promote your band. To create a world. I hate to use this term because it’s kinda gauche, but pushing a lifestyle. This is gonna kinda take the mystery out of everything, but the internet exists, so the mystery is gone from everything. I promise you that we don’t really think about it this surgically – but a lot of it is, ‘We’ve got this really tight band, we love making music with each other, our social media presence is really strong. People can see into our lives and get a sense of what we’re about.’

A lot of people gravitate to certain members of the band: drummers go to the drummer, guitarists go to the guitar players. Just that kind of vibe. We’ve created this little world of Periphery and people who listen to Periphery, and we try to share that and bring them into the world. I think that having the right people who have distinct personalities – like the guys in my band – that makes that possible.

At least that’s what we do. That’s the other thing: what works for one band doesn’t work for another. It’s really hard to tell, and this is where the blind luck comes in. I feel like we were one of the last bands to get our foot in the door with creating a social media buzz. This was back in the MySpace days. We were getting really good play counts, and seeing a ramping-up of the band’s notoriety. But it’s just luck that we happened to get in at that last moment, and we were able to set up this social media world before it became super saturated.

Yeah, your videos that show the behind-the-scenes process of making Hail Stan were a really great eye into the band and the creative process.

You got your first guitar from your aunt, who was a member of an all-female thrash band called Meanstreak. Did you learn anything from her experience in the music business?

She made it look really cool! I remember being a little kid, and being at her house when she was getting ready for a gig. She would go out looking super metal, and she had this really awesome guitar. I remember saying to myself, ‘Wow, that looks like a lot of fun.’ I had no idea what was outside of that door. I just knew that she was going someplace where she got to play guitar and look like a badass. That was my first impression of it.

As far as teaching me anything on the guitar, I didn’t really learn much from her, other than her band was really really good. They have this album called Roadkill. It’s impressively good. But she married the guitarist of Dream Theater, John Petrucci. Back in the mid-nineties, I would go over to their place and take casual guitar lessons from him. So, in some way, I was learning something from that family.

I think Meanstreak is a badass band name.

Yeah! They were a badass band! I go back and check out the cassette tape, and I think it’s on YouTube. And I’m just like, ‘Wow, this is so sick! I can’t believe that they didn’t go too far with this.’ They could’ve. They had the look. And they played well, too. They performed on a comedy show on Comedy Central. They were on national television as a house band. It’s a cool thing, and it’s cool that you found out about that, because I don’t think too many people know about that.

They were like The Runaways of metal. 

Yeah!

You wrote on Twitter that you wouldn’t be where you are without the influence of Metallica’s Kirk Hammett. What do you think Kirk’s innovations were and are as a player?

I think he has a very unique voice. There’s a rawness to it that is hard to replicate. Metallica is one of the most copied bands in metal, if not the most. There are countless videos online of people paying tribute to Hammett and Hetfield. You can kinda tell [that some fans] get close [to replicating Metallica], but they don’t have this x-factor that Kirk and James have. I’d say that Kirk isn’t the most technical player out there, but he has this way of making it sound that way. He also lends a very unique voice to the guitar. I think that’s why I love Metallica. I’ll always love Metallica.

I look at it this way: every genre has its ambassador. This legendary act at the very top. For metal, it’s pretty damn cool… Ask anybody on the street what they think of metal, they’re gonna be like, ‘You mean like Metallica?’ That’s reaching a cultural level that kind of transcends everything. I’m glad that Metallica gets to be the ambassador, because there’s so many crappy metal bands. So many! So I’m glad that our biggest one is also our best one.

It’s also cool to see how they’ve evolved. Have you seen them live anytime recently?

I feel like I saw them live back in 2011.

I think James’ stage presence is almost fatherly in a way – now that he’s older, he’s got this really commanding presence. It’s just cool to see a band that you’ve grown up with evolve decades, you know?

Yeah. The transition from moderate-sized metal band to enormous, world-class metal band is such a hard one to make. Figuring that out takes the involvement or participation of everyone in that band, and they all get it. They all know how to perform at that level. They’re kind of performing at that level where now they’re just fine-tuning what they do. It’s cool to see bands be able to do that.

We briefly mentioned your electronic project, which is called Four Seconds Ago. I know you’re a fan of that genre. For people who aren’t familiar with the genre, can you recommend a few electronic artists to check out?

Yeah, absolutely. My favorite one currently is this dude named Sorrow. That would be the first one I’d check out. The classic one that I tell everyone about is Telephone Tel Aviv. They have a record called Fahrenheit Fair Enough. That’s one of the biggest reasons I wanted to do electronic music. I spent a long time just trying to rip that off. It’s just so good, and I was trying to be like that. Eventually, I think I found my own voice. But that was one of my biggest inspirations, was that album.

Another album that kind of had that effect was a band called Trifonic, and their album  Emergence. There’s a song on there called ‘Parks on Fire.’ The guy who did that video is also the guy who did our video for ‘Galaxy.’ That video for ‘Parks On Fire’ is a crazy experience. It’s probably the closest thing to doing DMT without actually doing DMT. I highly recommend watching that.

Are you an Aphex Twin fan?

I am, I love Aphex Twin. It’s really weird stuff, and it’s stuff that I have to put on when I’m not really around anyone else. It’s a real party-killer sometimes. But I love Aphex Twin.

Yeah, some of it is so challenging and abrasive.

Yeah. Which I like. Richard D. James is a genius.

He’s brilliant.

He certainly creates this mystery around Aphex Twin, which I really appreciate. It’s hard to find out about this person. Every other band and musician are all over the internet, but he just does his music and the music speaks for itself.

Published at Tue, 02 Apr 2019 15:03:55 +0000

Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado Finds Creative Bliss In Pursuit Of The Unknown

Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado Finds Creative Bliss In Pursuit Of The Unknown

Foxygen interview

Illustration by Dan Redding

Hear an interview with Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado today on the Culture Creature podcast. Listen via the audio player above, or in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all other major providers.

Foxygen’s new album, Seeing Other People, is available on April 26th (preorder here). In addition to his work in Foxygen, Rado (as he is known to many) is also a producer who has worked on records by Tim Heidecker, Father John Misty, Weyes Blood and many more. Today on Culture Creature, Rado joins host Dan Redding to discuss subjects including the spirit of Elliott Smith, the films of Charlie Kaufman, and the creative benefits of throwing yourself into the unknown. Listen now.

Published at Tue, 23 Apr 2019 12:01:33 +0000

In the Studio with Starsailor’s James Walsh as he Records his new Solo Record: Tiger on the Bridge

In the Studio with Starsailor’s James Walsh as he Records his new Solo Record: Tiger on the Bridge

Part of James Walsh’s Pledge Music campaign was a unique opportunity to watch the Starsailor frontman record his new record live in the studio. Being the huge fan that I am, I jumped at the chance. As a photographer, I’ve shot several Starsailor shows and written about the band in the UK at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Koko,  and even when I lived in the states, but I’ve never had the chance to see Walsh live as a solo artist.

Shortly after the Pledge campaign blew through its goal, PledgeMusic imploded. The money that was pledged by the fans was gone, and there is still no clear picture on when or if it will return at all. Many artists decided to cancel everything as Pledge shut down all campaigns. Queensryche, The Dandy Warhols and many more were left high and dry and directed fans to Pledge for a refund. James Walsh took a different route and vowed to honor each of the pledges regardless of what may or may not happen with PledgeMusic moving forward. This is a testament to the kind of artist that James Walsh is and shines a light on his commitment to his fans.

The original plan was to record the record and invite the fans to Europe’s number one studio, the famed Metropolis. But under the current circumstance, they needed to move to plan B. Enter RAK Studios which was founded in 1976 by the legendary record producer Mickie Most, who was known for his hits with the Animals, Jeff Beck, Donovan, Suzi Quatro, and Kim Wilde, among others. He was also a recording artist, record label boss and TV producer.

In 1976, RAK Studios was opened in a converted Victorian schoolhouse in St John’s Wood, London. Since then, it has hosted some of the best-loved names in music, including David Bowie, Al Green, Michael Jackson, and Pink Floyd – and more recently, Adele, Plan B, Arctic Monkeys and Shakira (as well as Starsailor back in the day!) This place was brilliant and more than accommodating, albeit a bit tight!

I was one of several dozen fans who were greeted by Walsh’s management who were gracious hosts leading us into the rec room of the famed studio. We were then split into two groups. The group that I was in started in the control room in front of the mixing board for the first six songs. We then swapped with the other group who were actually sitting in the recording studio room with the band. While the control room was cool enough, sitting directly in front of James Walsh and surrounded by his band listening to the recording of the album was one of the most incredible experiences of my life as a music fan. Walsh makes it look so easy as he effortlessly sang and played guitar doing take after take of the twelve songs that will make up the new record Tiger on the Bridge. Walsh chatted it up with the fans in between songs even confessing to mistakenly singing the lyrics to one of the songs in the wrong order, but he liked the take so much that it will likely remain as if the brit pop gods were watching from above guiding his fate.

As a fan, I’m clearly biased on the new music as I celebrate everything this man does, but I will tell you that these songs in any order make the perfect follow up and evolution of Walsh as a solo artist. There’s really something for everyone here, the sonic soundscapes that bring to mind the best of Starsailor, the hauntingly beautiful ballads and storytelling that come only from a man and a single guitar, and then the songs that blend these two into something truly unique that only Walsh can do as a solo artist.

The song titles that stuck out to me included “Single Life”, “It’s Over”, “Glitch in the Machine”, “Success in my Failure” and my favorite of the day “Heavy Heart”. We got to hear “Heavy Heart” twice and I have to tell you that this is the most remarkable song that Walsh has written to date. (Even he admitted it was his favorite on the new record). It’s a brilliant mix of lush opening guitar and Walsh’s signature spot on vocals that breaks into a swirling tribal drum rhythm that took the record to an entirely new peak and would make their former producer Phiil Spector envious.

After the recording of all twelve songs James came out and graciously thanked all of us for coming and took some pictures and answered questions. It was a brilliant day with a brilliant artist who gave his fans a once in a lifetime opportunity. I cannot wait to get a copy of the new record. You can pre-order the new record on CD and vinyl directly from Walsh here.

While I did have my camera with me (didn’t bring my massive Nikon, but instead opted for my Olympus Pen F which is much smaller, but not as great in low light) I managed to snap a few shots in between takes. I didn’t want to be intrusive as I was really enjoying the experience, but the shots below should give you a pretty good idea of how the day went. But if you are wondering why they are a bit grainy, that’s pushing the limits of a mirrorless camera : )

Cheers to James Walsh and company for a stellar experience.

Published at Sat, 02 Mar 2019 20:26:01 +0000

IDLES are the Greatest Punk Band on the Planet Right Now, Even if They Don’t Want to Admit It

IDLES are the Greatest Punk Band on the Planet Right Now, Even if They Don’t Want to Admit It

What happens when you take the best of The Strokes, Clutch, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Black Flag, and a touch of Fugazi, mix it all—and then set it on fire? You get the makings of the most exciting band from the UK in the past decade.

IDLES blasted out of Bristol seemingly from nowhere and have answered the same call that punk rock did in the late ’70s. But instead of a fight against disco and inequalities, this time it’s about corruption and satire, all in the face of the looming disaster that is Brexit. IDLES not only provide a much-needed break from the mainstream bullshit, but they have also relit the punk torch and grown it into a bonfire.

If you’ve somehow missed the phenomenon known as IDLES you might think that they are a bit overhyped. It’s a natural response from the mainstream press building our hopes up around the next big thing, only to be let down. I can tell you for after seeing this band live in Dublin last week that IDLES is the real fucking deal. It’s not hype when the hype machine isn’t needed; it’s much more organic. The songs, the live shows, the attitude is all 100% real, and the music scene has embraced the next big thing not because they were told to do so, but because they discovered it on their own.

The show was insane. I’ve seen hundreds of punk, and metal shows and these guys are in a world of their own in terms of energy and stage presence. “Colossus,” “Well Done,” “Mother,” and “Never Fight a Man with a Perm” were the highlights for me, but even the songs I wasn’t familiar with pulled the set together to hit like a punch to the chest. If’ you’ve heard or seen Daughters from the US, they’re probably the only band on earth right now who can match these guys in terms of intensity and rage—and wouldn’t that be a hell of a double bill by the way.

While the band continually reminds us that they are not a post-punk or a punk rock band, it’s not really up to them at this point to decide. The fans have embraced their music and interpreted in a way that only makes sense to the punk rock community. And that’s not such a bad thing I would think as it’s opening up not only the genre but the spirit of punk that was lost decades ago to an entirely new audience. People you would not expect to love this band love this fucking band, and that’s a sign of something extraordinary. A movement if you will. Whether or not IDLES likes it, the pressure is on to deliver. I can’t wait to see what they do next as I’m sure it will be a giant middle finger to the industry in the nicest possible way.

Published at Wed, 01 May 2019 12:53:09 +0000

How Metallica’s Black Album Revolutionized Their Sound (Video)

How Metallica’s Black Album Revolutionized Their Sound (Video)

metallica black album

Metallica discovered “the space between the notes” on their 1991 masterpiece known as The Black Album. Here’s how James Hetfield and company collaborated with producer Bob Rock to generate a bigger, more expansive sound on Metallica songs like ‘Sad But True,’ ‘Nothing Else Matters,’ and ‘Enter Sandman.’ The Black Album made Metallica a household name, and has sold over 16 million copies in the United States alone. Video by Redding Design. Watch here:

Published at Mon, 27 May 2019 18:58:17 +0000

Pop Will Eat Itself and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin Prove They Still Have Plenty to Say

Pop Will Eat Itself and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin Prove They Still Have Plenty to Say

When Nine Inch Nails were at their peak in the US, their label Interscope records gave frontman Trent Reznor his own label imprint called Nothing Records. One of its early signings was picking up UK electro pioneers Pop Will Eat Itself from a fallout with their North American label BMG. The result is one of the best and most undercelebrated albums of the ’90s, Dos Dedos Mis Amigos.

While it was a departure from the band’s earlier sound, it didn’t matter to me as this was my introduction to the group. I bought this thing on cassette and played it pretty much nonstop through the Brit Pop invasion of the mid ’90s and could not believe my eyes when I saw that the band would be touring the UK this year. The two singles from the record, “Ich Bin Ein Auslander” and “R.S.V.P.” were absolutely brilliant songs and should have elevated the band to immediate superstardom in the States. Instead, they enjoyed moderate success without ever truly breaking out.

The “Love from Stourbridge” tour brings together Pop Will Eat Itself and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, two of Stourbridge’s biggest musical exports, touring together for the first time since 1989. For PWEI they are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their classic 1989 album This Is the Day…This Is the Hour…This Is This!. To celebrate the milestone, the band is playing the record in full along with a selection of other tracks.

This Is the Day…This Is the Hour…This Is This! features many of the band’s best-loved tracks, including “Wise Up! Sucker,” “Can U Dig It?” and “Def Con One.” This record was a bit before my time as I was still in my thrash metal phase when this one came out, but it was hailed as a breakthrough and genre-bending masterpiece upon its release. Listening to it now I hear elements of Thrill Kill Kult, early Faith No More, and a bit of the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique, and it still holds up quite well. While it isn’t as sonically fulfilling as the later records because of the oftentimes thin sounding production machines of the ’80s, it’s a remarkable record that holds a place in history.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with the live show as I hadn’t seen or heard this band in twenty years or so. Graham Crabb fronting a spectacular lineup featuring both old and new members of the camp absolutely blew me away. The energy, the sound, the musicianship is all top notch and proved to the capacity crowd that these guys still have plenty to say as they reclaim their place at the top of the UK musical food chain. Although I would have loved to hear more from my favorite record Dos Dedos Mis Amigos, It was a show for the ages. The fact that they managed to squeeze a blistering version of “Ich Bin Ein Auslander” as an encore was enough for me to want to see this show again and again.

Although I have to admit that I was really there to see PWEI, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin were on fire. They blasted through a set of industrial guitar-driven electronic classics that proved they are still a force to be reckoned with. Always driven by the dual bass players, it begs the question, why didn’t this catch on with other bands?

Published at Mon, 06 May 2019 12:45:57 +0000

Rapper’s Delight: ‘Beastie Boys Book’ Is An Instant Classic

Rapper’s Delight: ‘Beastie Boys Book’ Is An Instant Classic

Beastie Boys book review

The life and art of the Beastie Boys always sounded so fun. Beastie Boys Book uses the band’s childlike, mischievous spirit as a guiding force that guides the reader through a career of reinventions. Collaborator Spike Jonze sums up the band’s attitude: “They were always playing. It didn’t matter what they were doing—making music, playing shows, making videos or getting dressed up in disguises for no reason—it was all just play.”

The band’s most innovative style was its kaleidoscopic, kitchen sink approach to making records, deployed on albums like Paul’s Boutique and Check Your Head. These records are simmering pots of b-boy bouillabaisse – including doses of jazz, punk, funk – all assembled with love. The book’s ambitious account of the band’s musical career succeeds on every level. But it’s only the beginning of what this book has to offer.

Beastie Boys Book takes a cue from the band’s brilliant, short-lived Grand Royal magazine by supplementing the story’s main course (written by surviving Beasties Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond) with myriad side dishes. These materials include photo spreads, maps, and original lyric sheets (an early draft of the Paul’s Boutique gem ‘High Plains Drifter’ was enough to give this writer a full fanboy freakout). Accounts from secondary voices are illuminating – especially the candid and emotional essay by original Beastie Boy Kate Schellenbach. The most effective element of the book’s format are text sidenotes, which allow Diamond and Horovitz to chime in on each other’s stories – an echo of the trio’s collaborative rhyme patterns.

It’s a lot of material. This immense tome weighs more than Run DMC’s gold chain collection circa 1986. It’s an immersive plunge into the Beasties’ world that feels exhaustive but never exhausting.Beastie Boys Book review

Another theme that emerges throughout the band’s story is Adam Yauch as a wellspring of love and creativity. Outwardly, the trio’s dynamic always seemed relatively balanced. But Mike D writes that Yauch was “like our older brother, and even more, a mentor.” The book is dense with stories where Yauch dreams up an impossible creative idea, then knocks it out of the park. Even his pranks were astounding: Yauch once stunted on his bandmate with a ruse so ingenious, it took fifteen years to deliver. Then, of course, there’s Adam Yauch’s spiritual journey – which could fill a book of its own. In short, Beastie Boys Book will leave you in awe of the man known as MCA.

Adam Yauch’s prank is one of many previously unheard stories that will surprise and delight Beasties diehards (also of note: the time he briefly quit the band). Hearing the Beasties’ story in full for the first time is extremely satisfying.

Beastie Boys Book renders an innovative career in full kaleidoscopic color, like a poolside Paul’s Boutique-era acid trip. It’s an instant-classic work of music nonfiction, the kind that makes you savor every page.

For more Beastie Boys history, listen to Beasties DJ Mix Master Mike on the Culture Creature podcast.

Published at Sat, 27 Oct 2018 14:43:54 +0000

Myles Kennedy Talks The Mayfield Four, Year of The Tiger, and the State of Rock n Roll

Myles Kennedy Talks The Mayfield Four, Year of The Tiger, and the State of Rock n Roll

Myles Kennedy Interview

The first time I met Myles Kennedy was when he was on tour with his band The Mayfield Four back in 1998. The band was touring in support of their Epic Records debut Fallout, and they were starting to get traction on their new single “Don’t Walk Away.” A radio hit for a rock band at this time was make or break, and these guys were one of the best live bands on the planet, the label just had to get people out to see them.

The band was in between tours and had a few days off in my hometown of St. Louis, and I was the only Sony Music rep in the city, so I got to spend a few days with these guys taking them around the town. I remember Myles being an introvert and a really nice guy. Get on the right topic with him, and he’s not only incredibly insightful, but he’s the anti-rock star.

The Fallout tour came and went and the Mayfield Four, although not having a breakout year, laid a solid foundation through relentless touring and radio support from the label. Things would go quiet for a bit while they prepped their sophomore release, the mystical powerhouse that would become Second Skin.

I remember being in New York City for our annual Sony meeting and one of the execs from Epic records came out to introduce the new Mayfield Four record. Almost instantly you could hear snickers and snarky comments from the ultra-hipsters from the college department who didn’t get it because this was a “commercial” rock band, but the ones who were in the room who got it, their ears perked up. The Epic exec introduced the record by saying it was, and I quote, “one of the most unique and incredible rock records they had heard in some time.” (The only other time I ever heard praise for a rock band like this internally was when Incubus delivered Morning View.)

Second Skin was one of the most incredible records I had ever heard in my entire life. From start to finish it was a masterpiece of modern rock. Huge guitars, crashing percussion, all laying the foundation for Myles Kennedy’s incredible vocals. Unfortunately, the record came and went as many records do on the major label assembly line, but this one would continue to amass fans and become legendary in its own right. According to Myles, this left him disillusioned with the music industry.

“I think as an artist, and I think as a human being, I don’t think I was ready for the success,” says Kennedy. “I think that I was a classic case of somebody who was probably more afraid of success than failure in some weird way because I knew that would raise the bar and level of expectation. I wanted to have the opportunity to continue to make music somehow, but strangely, I didn’t want it to be massive. You essentially became a moving target, because once you have a certain amount of success, people start to take aim. So, I always just wanted to kind of keep flying at a certain altitude. I think in the end it all worked out for the best.”

Twenty years later and both of the Mayfield Four’s records are more popular now than they were, even with support from a major record label and terrestrial radio. Myles Kennedy almost went away, but a voice this unique cannot not be heard, and the rock ‘n’ roll gods would pave the way for a rebirth and resurgence. First, it was Slash who called, and later on, Alter Bridge. Both of which would ultimately allow Myles to finally record a solo record—which he did, and later scrapped.

He would begin once more on a project based on the relationship with his late father who he lost at the age of 4. It would take the shape of 12 new songs pulled together in a collection called The Year of the Tiger, and it recently debuted at #12 on the UK charts ahead of a string of sold-out shows across Europe. Myles was oblivious to the chart debut of the record, “I didn’t even know that. [laughter] I live in such a bubble,” he says over the phone as I load up the questions for a conversation with the 46-year-old who’s out on the road by himself for the first time.

So what’s it like right now for Myles? “It’s really just me and my guitar against the world,” he says. “It’s very liberating and exciting and new for me. I’m having the time of my life, but at the same time, there are some nights where it goes better than others. There’s nothing to fall back on, and if you’re not firing on all cylinders…well, you’re standing in front of a room full of a thousand people and you’ve got to man up real quick. You feel like you’ve been pushed into the deep end and you got to learn to swim real quick.”

It’s certainly an interesting time to release a blues-based concept record which strikes a balance between dark and light, hope and despair, but is now a good time to try something new? With the breadth of Myles’ experience in the world of rock and roll over the past decade-plus, if he had to award a letter grade to the state of rock and roll in 2018, what would that grade be? “It varies so much around the world. I guess overall, from what I’ve seen on tour, I’d give it a B, I think,” he says. “I’m not going to give it a D or I can’t give it an A because it’s not as relevant is it was 30 years ago, but it’s still there.”

Part of the Year of the Tiger box set includes a special disk of demos that Myles recorded for the record, but are these the actual demos or polished up versions for the release? “Those are what I sent to Tim (Tournier, Myles’ manager) after I’d written a song. I needed a way to document them so I grabbed my laptop, plugged a little $100 microphone in the USB port, recorded them, and then shot it off to Tim to which he replied, ‘There really is something special about these demos, I think we should just release them.’” But there was no doctoring these up for release—the tracks were all done in about two days, providing a rare glimpse into the seeds of a brilliant record.

Signing a deal with Napalm Records is yet another intelligent risk for Myles. Napalm is home to W.A.S.P. and a slew of other metal bands. It’s a trend that saw Rival Sons sign to Earache Records a few years ago, which continues as the hardcore, independent metal labels work to expand their rosters. Myles is a fan of Rival Sons. “I’m probably Jay Buchanan’s biggest fan,” he says, “and Jay and I were talking about this. I think that they (Rival Sons) just released this officially—it sounds like they might be going to a national major label here—very soon or already have. So, I’m curious how that’s going to affect them. I’m hoping they are going to get behind them because I feel like that band needs to be heard. To me, it’s tragic that the entire universe does not know about Rival Sons. My fingers are crossed that it’s going to put them on the next level.”

Year of the Tiger is a deeply personal record for Myles which deals with the death of his father at a very young age. He often talks about how personal the release is and I had to ask if he has ever teared up during a performance while playing songs from the record. “Not yet,” says Myles. “It’s something that I’m kind of waiting for. The song that I am most concerned about in that respect is probably “The Great Beyond.” The middle section, as I was writing the lyrics for that song, that was probably the most difficult. It really kind of tapped into something on a very profound level for me. So, we’ll see. Ask me that question again after I’ve put that song on the set, and the answer might be yes.”

Having been in the game for more than two decades, I think it’s always fun to ask an artist where the most unusual place is that they’ve come across their music in any format. The answers are always entertaining and Kennedy is no exception.“ I was in the gym working out one day, and I heard “Don’t Walk Away,” which was really weird, because that is such an obscure track, and I’m like “Who’s programming this—who put this in there?” Especially at a gym, that’s the last song you want to hear when you’re trying to pump up at a gym. So, that was an odd one, but it was kind of fun, it put a smile on my face.”

Year of the Tiger is available on beautiful gold vinyl and marbled black and gold vinyl as part of the deluxe box set, but has Kennedy had time to give it a spin himself? “I have not,” he says. “In fact, I’m hoping to do that when I get home, because I don’t think my vinyl had shown up until I was already on the road.” I ask if he’s a fan of vinyl records and his response is enthusiastic. “Well, absolutely, I’m an absolute vinyl junkie at this point. I was kind of late to the party; I think I got into it about five years ago—I rediscovered it. I just was at Amoeba Music in LA a few weeks ago, and went on a wonderful shopping spree. My favourite record on vinyl is Aja by Steely Dan, so I bought my third copy. [laughter] So, I am sitting with three of them at home. I listen to that record, especially when I’m at home, probably five times a week. Generally, when I get to make breakfast, that’s what I put on, I have to hear that. I love the ritual of listening to vinyl.”

So will the Mayfield Four ever get back together? That’s the million dollar question, and I had to ask. “Well, I could tell you that half of Mayfield Four has already gotten back together, so Mayfield Two are rolling again. I don’t know, I guess time will tell. Between Alter Bridge and this project now, I’m staying busy. We’ll see what happens.

Myles Kennedy’s Year Of The Tiger is in stores now via Napalm Records—on limited edition gold vinyl.

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Published at Sun, 06 May 2018 07:13:48 +0000