When I was in high school, I listened to mostly rap and nu-metal until a friend let me borrow Ride The Lightning. But even after hearing one of the finest metal albums ever, I still wasn’t blown away by much metal I was hearing, and then I heard Living Sacrifice’s The Hammering Process and it changed my life completely. The reason I mention this, is because tonight in Monroe, La, the band Machina featuring Rocky Gray of Living Sacrifice, Phil Taylor of Future Leaders Of The World, and John Lecompt of Evanescence will be playing. They are currently being filmed for the show “The Making Of Rock Stars”, so I caught up with Rocky to find out more about the band themselves, the show, and what the future holds for him. You can check out Machina here, and find out more about the event here.
Your new band Machina features members from bands like Evanescence, Future Leaders Of The World and Living Sacrifice. How long has Machina been around, and how did you guys come together?
John, Thad and myself have been around each other for a very long time and Phil started hanging out in Little Rock and hooked up with John and it all kind of fell into place from there. Machina started in 2006.
You’re currently being followed on tour by a camera crew for the reality show “The Making Of Rockstars”. How did they go about choosing you guys to be the subjects of this show and what network will it be shown on?
We worked with someone who knew David, the shows producer, and they told David about us and we got together and discussed the show and we were into the idea and it was a go from there. It all happened pretty fast. Not sure of what network the show will land on yet. Maybe all of them. There’s a lot in the works in that area.
One of the purposes of the show is to highlight the ups and downs of the rock n’ roll life style. Have there been any particular moments that stand out in your mind, that give a realistic example of the life of a rock band in today’s unsteady music industry?
Oh yeah its very real. You’ll see busted up vans with no mufflers, the bands loading in their own gear and sometimes 20 people at the show. But the bands still go out there and make it happen cause it’s what we do.
As I mentioned earlier, you guys feature ex members of bands that have already had quite a bit of success. What made you choose this point in time to basically start from scratch and begin building up the legacy of a new band? Has it been weird at all having a camera crew follow your every move, or have you learned to embrace it?
We’re not really doing anything new. What we’re doing is what we’ve been doing for years we just have a camera crew taping it all now. Its not that weird to John and I, cause back in the Ev days there was a camera around most of the time so we’re pretty use to it.
Will each date of the tour have its own episode, or will all of the footage combine to make an entire season? Also, do you think that the hype of each show being filmed will have an effect on the size of the crowds for your shows on this tour?
There will be a season of the show with us. So far I don’t think the show has factored in too much on attendance but the more we’re out it may catch on a little more.
What can someone attending a show on this tour who’s never heard Machina before, expect to take away from your live performance?
All we can do is hope they were entertained by a really good rock band, maybe buy some merch and help spread the word.
As someone who’s played huge festivals and arena shows, as well as shows at dive bars and other smaller venues, which would you say you enjoy doing more?
I enjoy them all really.
Aside from being in Machina and focusing on this tour, you also own Deadest Designs, co-own Fader Recording Studio and play drums in Soul Embraced, We Are The Fallen and Fatal Thirteen. You’re also the lead guitarist in legendary metal band Living Sacrifice. How are you able to manage all of these projects without spreading yourself too thin?
Its normally not very hard to do everything but on occasion some projects will book things on top of the other and creates a little mess for me to work out, but I get it all lined out.
Speaking of Living Sacrifice and Soul Embraced, will there be new albums coming from either of those bands in 2013?
LS and Soul Embraced will both have records out in 2013.
As someone who’s written quite a few awesome songs in his career, if you could go back in time and write any song ever, what would it be and why?
Maybe Back In Black by AC/DC. Its one of those iconic rock songs that has stood the test of time. Its one of the few rock songs you can say is a masterpiece.
In my last post, I reviewed a Prestor John live show and referred to them as “boogie rock” a term very fitting for their sound. I caught up with their guitarist/vocalist Jimmie Bryant a while back, and I wanted to know a little more about the history of the band, how production of their new record is going, and their plans for the future. You can check them out on Facebook and Reverb Nation. Prestor John are playing a show at Tsunami on November 20th with Machina, a band currently being filmed for a reality show called “The Making Of Rock Stars”, and they members of Future Leaders Of The World, Evanescence, and Living Sacrifice. Find out more about the show Here.
How long have you been playing music and what instruments do you play?
I have been playing since I was eight years old. I started playing the fiddle, and about two years into that, I realized that the fiddle sections were really big and there’s a lot of competition, so I switched to viola and I played for my school orchestras all throughout high school. That’s what I went to college for was music performance, I didn’t get my degree, but I was on the music performance track for viola. About six years ago, I picked up the guitar seriously and decided to give it a stab.
You used to play drums in Prestor John right?
Right, I also play the drums. That was really a lot more out of necessity, because we had a really difficult time finding somebody who was a good fit for us, and at the end of our struggles we decided to go with the two-piece for the sake of getting the songs we had written on stage and out for people to hear.
Prestor John has been involved in the Monroe music scene for quite a while, and in various incarnations. Who is currently involved in the current incarnation of the band?
It is myself on guitar and lead vocals, and occasionally on the fiddle, Mitch Lang aka “the stache” on bass and acoustic guitar, and Matt McDonald on drums. In the future, we may be having the return of Johnnie Hollis on lead guitar.
Do you incorporate the fiddle into your live performance?
We did initially in what I call Prestor John version 1.0, but now I don’t do it so much. It was pretty much because we were a two piece, and there weren’t enough hands for so long that I kind of got away from it, but I’m looking forward to reintroducing the fiddle into our live shows.
Is this the first time the band has had a bassist? If so, why did you choose now to add that to the sound?
This isn’t the first time we’ve had a bassist. We’ve toyed with the idea, and we played with a bassist on stage, but we never really stuck with it beyond a show. Mitch actually came to me and we got to talking about him possibly joining up, and I’ve always thought of the band being more than a two piece. Everything we did initially was out of necessity, because we weren’t happy with the people we were working with and trying to flesh out the sound with. I’ve always imagined the band being a four piece or being very Queens of the Stone Ageish, where they’ll perform with ten people on stage, but the band is only three dudes. Really it’s only Josh, but it’s the same dynamic I’m going for, to have a big diverse group of people.
You’re currently in the studio working on a new record, right? How has that been going so far?
Yeah, we are. It’s been going well. It’s always pretty stressful when you work with new people, and you don’t know how they’re going to interpret your material and mix everything down, but we went to Music City Studios in West Monroe, and Scott over there was amazing. He got us with an engineer who I felt was in touch with us, his name is Cody Codine Oliphant, and the first cuts feel pretty good. I’m looking forward to getting the whole shebang done.
When the album is finished, and you begin the cycle of distributing it, will you be doing so online through bandcamp, or are you trying to get a record label for it?
I’m of the new school when it comes to that, because record labels don’t serve the same purpose that they did twenty years ago, and with the development of the internet, a lot of their power is taken away in terms of distribution. Kids in China can download my songs right now. So, to me the real value in a label is their ability to promote you, and their ability to facilitate you on the road. I would love to be signed to a label, but only if it was the right situation, because between bandcamp and reverb nation, you can do everything yourself. You can go to the library of congress and copyright your songs. You can file for a business license and make a publishing company, you can do a lot of these things on your own, so I’m kind of not in any rush and open to both ways, whether it is through a label or totally internal is fine with me.
Are you going to be doing any hardcore touring in the future?
That’s the plan, but it’s important not to put the cart before the horse in terms of promotion and stuff. Right now we’re working on a college radio campaign to build awareness up, and give us a gauge of where we’re playing and where would be good to go and play. College radio is a really valuable tool to bands trying to make it, because students run it, and students decide what to play, so we’re really trying to work on tightening up and trying to be as professional as possible so big opportunities don’t pass us up.
So, if you were asked by someone who’s never heard your band, to describe your sound, what would you tell them?
I would tell them it’s like progressive blues. Grunge rocky at times, a garage rocky type thing at times, and very groovy.
Who are the people that inspired you the most to start playing music, or even the type of music that you’re doing right now?
I would say there’s one family in particular. The whole desert rock scene out west really influenced me and Johnnie Hollis–the other co-founder of the band–and they just left a mark on us, hearing the way they arrange their songs, the beats, the guitar tone and the family kind of spread out from there. All those bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal and Kyuss. Also bands like Nine Inch Nails, System of a Down and Rage against the Machine.
If you could pick any 3 bands to go on tour with, who would it be?
If we were in a perfect world, I would ask from the local scene, Gatorbait or Flea Circus. I was also thinking The Vidrines or Electric Sermon. If I could go on tour and open for anybodythough, it would have to be the Eagles of Death Metal or Arctic Monkeys.
If you could have written any song ever, what would it be and why?
I would say “Song for the Dead” by Queens of the Stone Age.
There aren’t many bands that I like so much, that I celebrate their entire discographies. One of those bands, however, is Deftones. They are a band I’ve loved since high school, and every one of their albums is special to me for one reason or another. There is one person I know who enjoys them more than me, however, he is my friend Brandon Griffin. He is also the singer of a local Deftones cover band called White Pony, who will hopefully be having shows again soon. Please enjoy his review of the new Deftones record, and if you want to submit reviews for my site, please contact me on Facebook.
Deftones “Koi No Yokan”
By Brandon Griffin
Deftones return after the release of 2010′s Diamond Eyes with their seventh studio album, entitled Koi No Yokan. An entry into their catalog that is a departure from their previous efforts, yet somehow familiar; redefining the band itself and the genre. It is quite evident now that this band has no intentions of stopping or looking back; only evolving and moving forward. It’s the band’s second album with fill-in bassist Sergio Vega. The album’s Japanese title is unlike the sense of “love at first sight”; rather Koi No Yokan refers to “the sense of meeting someone for the first time, and knowing that the two of you will fall in love eventually.”
That being said, right out the gate Koi kicks off with the bouncy “Swerve City” as Chino croons “She breaks her horses, with distant voices.. that travel through the air!” As Stephen hammers away with a rolling riff that has your head nodding immediately. This track is the best opener the band has presented us with since “Feiticeira” from White Pony. In the haunting track “Romantic Dreams”; we hear the band experiment with unique song structure, deep layers, and odd-time signatures. Moving all throughout the album, the band demonstrates their heavy nature with tracks such as “Poltergeist”, “Gauze”, & “Goon Squad” which are all relentlessly aggressive, and down right raw & dirty. Then songs such as “Entombed”, “Tempest”, & “Rosemary” are simply gorgeous, murky, warm, and full of emotion. These songs show the Deftones in a new light and that they are very versatile in their song writing.
Koi No Yokan is simply an evolutionary step in their ever growing sound. Sonically this album is brilliant. Frank Delgado’s synth creeps through while Stephen’s 8-string pounds away, and Chino’s vocals sound better than ever before. It’s hard to compare one Deftones album to another, they’re all unique in their own way; yet they are still Deftones. Does that make sense? This is a band that has some how, in their 24 year career, managed to stay relatively away from the mainstream; but yet consistently crank out great solid albums and keep a massively dedicated fan-base. This one is to no exception.
Dare I say Koi No Yokan may be the band’s most cohesive piece of work to date. It is lush, haunting, beautiful, angry, melodic, and heavy in all of the right places. Koi No Yokan flows gracefully from one track to the next, unrelentingly; until it all comes full circle with the soothing closer “What Happened to You?”. A beautiful tune that really smooths everything out, like a peaceful shoreline. This is Deftones’ atmospheric magnum opus. There’s definitely something for everyone on this album. I feel that Koi No Yokan will pull you in; whether you’re a new fan, old, or first time listener.
As I stated in the previous post, I’m trying to get coverage on the site for great albums that I wouldn’t normally cover. This post comes from my friend Duane Berry and covers two of the most surprising albums of the year. Enjoy!
The Energizer Bunny is back and nothing is as it seems. Bob Dylan, 71 years old has just released his 59th recording and somehow, he seems just like a kid in a musical candy store. Just like a Halloween Haunted House, nothing is as it seems 50 years after his debut release. Not many can say that. We get the raspy sound that comes with so many years of experience, a sound that not many stick around long enough to get. In fact, Dylan stands alone on that front, with the exception of Johnny Cash before he passed, we’ll see about Jagger on the upcoming Stones tour however. And nobody saw it coming. Not the guy at the record store with the funny haircut, not the cop on the corner and not the girl that says ” Oh I Love Him ” when I skip eating food at lunch to drive around and do my Dylan singalong. This is the vocal perfection of blue eyed blues, a gutteral, soulful sound that couldn’t sound pop with a mouthful of firecrackers. And yet, this Dylan is an acquired taste, just as it always has been. Either you get it, or you don’t. And that’s just the vocal styling.
On my site, from time to time, I like to ask friends of mine for their own reviews of stuff that I wouldn’t normally cover. This guest post is from my friend, and fellow Spazzine contributor, Holt Brasher. Enjoy!
TOAST – EP
So, here we have the first release from TOAST, an instrumental band from our very own Monroe, LA. The band consists of folks who have had their ties in everything from metal to experimental rock to even church bands, to my knowledge, and this mish-mash of play styles and musical influences definitely comes through on this EP. Also, the artwork is absolutely wonderful, who doesn’t love a psychedelic photo of Alex’s face? Just beautiful. Now, onto the music.
We start the album with the introduction, which is a slow drone of an effects driven guitar and some pitter patter of the drums, after a brief moment of vocals the drums kick in and you are introduced to the album’s first track. Now, before I move on to the music might I praise the production and the quality on this EP. This is one of the few local albums I’ve heard where every instrument has been recorded perfectly and it shows. The sounds are clean as a baby’s asshole and the tones are spot on. The guitars are absolutely stunning and winding, the bass is a perfect anchor and features the perfect tone for the EP, and the drums are on point, some of the most skillful I’ve heard from this region. The levels are all perfect, and the intricate meshing of these instruments is so well done, I had to gush a little. I can gush right? Well I just gushed.
Now, I know not everyone honestly gives two shits about what I think (Especially Dax Riggs fans), but let me first say, instrumental music is not for everyone. I personally love instrumental music, you can create you’re own images and story to it and become personally invested in it. Instrumentals can inspire and help you to be inspired and also create a mood and an atmosphere not found in music where other’s words create the imagery and story for you. Look to Thelonious Monk or J Dilla or Pelican, all these artists create fantastic realms and feelings through their music. So in this review, I’ve decided it’s damn near impossible for me to convey it to you in a normal review fashion. This is music that conjures emotions and feelings, and those are a personal investment. So I will give it to you in the best way possible, but in the end, hear it for yourself, take your mind on a journey. Don’t just listen, invest in it. That’s art babe.
This EP is instrumental, it’s math-rock, it’s alternative, it’s frantic, it’s instruments weaving in and out of each other at breakneck speeds, it’s instruments dropping to a slower pace and letting you ride a wave of emotion, feelings, and effects. I could go on and on like this, there’s just too damn many ways to describe it. There’s no one way to settle down and describe such a successful mish-mash folks, and I don’t want to try to, it would be an insult to this EP. Here’s what I will say. This album holds wonderful musical influences from what I hear, which may be wildly different from what others hear. From Minus The Bear to Fall Of Troy, to 90′s alt rock, and I’m sure math-rock even I’ve never heard of, but stylings of Hella and such are always there, and this was a welcoming moment of influence. The effects are well placed and always ethereal and never over done. The album is completely frantic at times and fast paced, it’s also sometimes solemn and droning, and of course all melodically proficient and well done. This being said, no one style overpowers and overcomes the others, this band knows when to switch up and change and when to bring you back into the fray and let you soak in everything, and it’s wonderfully accomplished. The songs are never too long for you to get bored, and in fact my only complaint is my favorite track, Easy E, is just too damned short for me. I find myself consistently wanting more. This is a wonderful EP and has only made me happy to hear more from these guys.
So as a final note, I’ll try and sum it up. The album is as perfect as you can get math-rock and instrumental music, which is a hard genre to pull off if you’re not invested and well-versed in your instruments and get too caught up in being too technical and not making enjoyable music with emotion and thought. These guys did all of that and did it well. The tone is clean and magnificent on each instrument, each instrument is perfectly played, the moods and feelings generated from these songs are perfect to listen to, multiple styles are present at any time, and the fact this album is free and available to anyone and so well done is the icing on the proverbial fucking cake.
That being said, I know I rambled about this EP, but shit give me a fucking break, it deserves that, it’s unusual and deserves an unusual review. This is music, but it can be so much more, open your mind, let it enter, and see what happens. Let it create emotion, a story, a thought, anything. If you’re like me and feel happiness when Easy E comes on, or you hear Fellatio and get a bit frantic and then calm yourself, that’s the wonders of it. You’re not just hearing it, you’re feeling it. Investment and inspiration, that’s what I received from this album. Now, I might just be talking out of my big black ass, but I thoroughly enjoyed this release. I suggest, since it’s free and you don’t buy CDs anyways, to go get this and patiently await a show and a full-length. I’m sure these fellas have big plans, and I know this is one of the few local bands I would want to see fulfill anything they set out to do. Quit pirating shitty John Mayer albums and grab a CD with real emotion and perfect musicianship.
Check out: “Easy E”, and then buy it, for free.
Title Fight – Floral Green
Title Fight burst into my ears last year with their self-titled LP and since then, I’ve been a huge fan. “Shed” was an insanely amazing single and the album was a perfect slice of 90s emo (Think Sunny Day Real Estate) mixed with punk musicianship (The howling vocals). I was blown away. Well, this year Title Fight returns with Floral Green. This album has everything that made the first perfect, with added extras.
First of all, this album continues on with the 90s revival feel. The band has produced music videos in VHS format, the songs still have 90′s emo feel which returns us to the stylings of Sunny Day Real Estate and also even early Hot Water Music. The influences can even be traced back to early Failure and Hum in my opinion. The vocals still continue with the trademark yelling that is unmatched in emotion. The true surprises were songs like “Head In The Ceiling Fan”, where the band has slowed down. They’ve taken the 90′s emo to the source in these songs where the guitars compliment each other through bends and constant droning riffs with a slow thundering bass and pounding drums. These songs took me off guard and I consistently found myself getting lost in these tracks. They were a welcome addition and actually add a wonderful resting point in the chaos of the other songs.
Not to down talk the other songs, these masterpieces are fucking amazing. The vocals are yelled with such emotion that you feel it, every single time. The guitars are buzzsaws and on some tracks, like “Leaf”, bend and rip with the absolute best tones and melodies I’ve ever heard, ever. The bass is absolutely thundering and distorted to create a perfect background to the guitars, and the drums absolutely hold it all together perfectly. The lyrics deal with emotions usually found on a more emotional record, ranging from liars to depression, and in this album it doesn’t seem trite or whiny. This is actual feeling being dealt with on a record and it’s fantastic. So throw out the whiny bullshit you bought in high school when you had “problems” (Yes, I see that From First To Last CD you dildo,) and get some emotional music that doesn’t pander.
That being said this album is probably the album I’ve felt to be album of the year so far. I haven’t had a cd stay on repeat this long in ages, and it’s absolutely perfect to play at any moment. It digs into your head and stays there. The lyrics are relatable, the music is melodic and moody, the vocals are powerful and everything comes together in the end to create one of, if not, the best album of 2012. I highly suggest this one folks.
Check out: “Leaf”, and “Head In The Ceiling Fan”.
Lightning Bolt – Oblivion Hunter
Two EPS featuring bands that are only known for their music? What the fuck am I doing to myself? I’m bleeding reviews for the people, because I know everyone’s missed my voice right? Hey…just buy me free pizza. I’ll understand.
Anyways, Lightning Bolt, one of the best and most progressive noise-rock bands on the planet. From crazed artwork to frantic and insane drumming, to the loudest and best distorted bass playing, to the fact the drummer sings through a mic in his custom gimp mask, this band is pure bred insanity. They’re also a favorite. This isn’t to say I can listen to all their tunes, sometimes a track might seem stale and other times it might just never actually progress and drone itself into boredom. This hasn’t happened alot lately, and Lightning Bolt continues to kick ass and mature into fields of sonic combustion that noise-rock enthusiasts should love.
This EP is perfect for those who want to hear the Bolt get loose. The tracks are completely lo-fi and sound like the two locked themselves in their practice room and banged out these tracks, consistently creating high-level racket and trying to outdo the insanity in whatever way the could. Tracks like “Baron Wasteland” see them fucking with effects and droning the shit out of Brian’s drums and voice. The constant blasts of distortion are quite fantastic and show the album has a point where the insanity has a place to drop back to. Though the psychic freakouts are still there, and they go ape shit at the perfect moments (The track begins to have what would be considered a Beefheart-esque voice, sax, bass, drum, freak out at the end that is dense). That’s not to say The Bolt didn’t have some fun. “Oblivion Balloon” sounds as close to a surf rock song these two have ever put out and it’s obviously overjoying. This is one of those songs they kick out that is a safe haven for your mind after being collectively fucked by the psych freakouts of former tracks, and it’s fantastically done. “Fly Fucker Fly” is honestly the best barrage of what sounds like moments influenced by actual songs, video game tracks, and late 80s rock. It is the closest I’ve heard them get to an actual “mainstream”-ish song in a good bit. And it rocks.
The album begins to wind down with the interlude of “The Soft Spoken Spectre” which supports the fact the two were just fucking off and enjoying creating music. The last two songs kick ass and bring it loud. Damn if “World Wobbly Wide” isn’t some of the most complex and loud material Lightning Bolt has put out in ages. This shit is made to blow speakers and challenge you. As much as this can sound like a jam session at times, the perfect placement of noodling and effects just brings it into the world and births it just right. This is noise-rock done right.
I like Lightning Bolt, well, alot. It’s insanity placed in the hands of drums and bass. I haven’t heard a rhythm section kick such ass ever and it’s fantastic. The duo consistently push the boundaries of their instruments and in doing so create some of the finest noise-rock available and, albeit, blow your ass away with hidden melodies that are so perfect you can’t help but rock your head. This EP is not for everyone, especially weak-willed music listeners who want to hear the two singles from 2Chainz and drink some Michelob’s, but if you enjoy complex and dense music this is for you. Wade through the thick and let the bass and drums sink in.
Check out: “Oblivion Balloon”, and “World Wobbly Wide”.
Bob Mould – Silver Age
Bob Mould. What can be said about him? Well first of all, he was in the legendary band Husker Du and created some of the loudest and melodic guitar riffs ever heard and some of the best songs ever, just listen to New Day Rising. Then he created Sugar, which was some of the best rock music ever created, once again jam Copper Blue. Mould went solo soon after and released a ton of music that has had it’s ups (Black Sheets of Rain) and it’s downs (The electronic album Body of Song). Now Mould is back with Silver Age, a return to the rocking, and ass kicking, form of his earlier music. This is a severe change as most of his solo material has focused on slower rock and/or acoustic songs. This was a huge excitement to fans of Moulds work and we were all eager to see what he created.
Boy did he blow it out of the fucking water.
The whole album barely ever slows down. Yes, it’s amazing. The only two songs on the album that really slow down (“Steam of Hercules” and “First Time Joy”) are the usual middle and end songs that offer a moment to relax and rest. The rest of the album completely kicks ass. The guitar is loud and effective, though not overtly loud like Husker Du or low tinged like Sugar. This is the medium and it sounds damn good. The bass is top notch and the drums pound along. Mould and bandmates kick ass and the back up vocals compliment Bob’s voice perfectly. There’s nothing really bad to say about the production or the instrumentation at al. Mould continues his streak of having a perfectly produced album.
The songs are fantastic and enjoyable, with “Star Machine” being a perfect opener. I found the lyrics on my favorite songs often dealing with material that I’m sure is as personal as usual. “Star Machine” focuses on a person being chewed up and spit out by becoming a star and changing. “Briefest Moment” focuses on growing up and becoming more than what you were. “The Descent” seems to be about hitting a rut and trying to get out of it. The songs are fantastic in lyrical matter and rarely will you hit a song that you can’t enjoy.
That being said the second half does suffer a little. The album begins to run into itself at the end, and though the songs are all different, most stay at the same speed and the same level and it can be easy to get through the last part and forgetting a few tracks. Honestly, it warrants repeated listens to counteract this, but the first half is indeed so much more stronger than the second. Also, this album showcases some of Mould’s influence on other bands (I swear if you don’t think one song could have Dave Grohl singing on it, you’re crazy). Not to down Mould at all, who wouldn’t be influenced by this man?
This album is a fantastic return to form, and while not completely perfect, it warrants repeated listens. Honestly, we can only hope Bob keeps churning out some ass kickers like this one, as fans have been salivating for a loud rock album from Mould again. Enjoy it, especially if you’re a Mould fan, and if not enjoy it for personal lyrics, kick ass instrumentation, and being an amazing rock record. If that sounds bad to you, Pink put out a new album. This one is definitely suggested.
Check out: “The Descent”, and “Star Machine”.
John Frusciante – PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone
So, let me be the first to say I fucking hate it when someone likes music just because no one else likes it, or listens to albums that they deem “deep” and it sounds like musical garbage. It annoys me to no end. Yes there is dense and complex music that’s hard to even bear at first listen, but in the end you learn from it and you begin to enjoy it. There is also musical garbage that is equated to recording shitty riffs on garageband and chopping it up and throwing off beat blips and beeps over it and singing off key. There is a difference to me, you may disagree, but I’m writing and you’re reading. So I get to ramble. Hahaha, the power of words.
John Frusciante walks a fine line with me on these two. This album at first listen sounded like a meshing of nonsense and rambling and mumbling and I was completely disappointed. This is because I wasn’t looking at it like Frusciante did. Frusciante is completely on the other side of the musical spectrum. It’s like taking an Omar Rodriguez-Lopez album and asking where’s the Skynyrd riffs. I make mistakes. Anyways, it walked that line and I gave it some listens. This is probably my millionth run through, so let’s tackle the zone.
Also, before we begin, a little history. Frusciante broke from the RHCPs and started working on his solo music again. This didn’t bother me as Frusciante’s solo work far outshines alot of RHCPs material (Seriously). Also, RHCP began to suffer terribly from not having John’s creativity in the band. Ah well, call in Dave Navarro we need some rocking music while John’s fucking with his Moog. Anyways John didn’t even go to their Hall Of Fame induction, or whatever it was, not important. Then Omar of Mars Volta fame said John is on another level musically. Which having Omar say that about anyone is just enough to think he’s beating his guitar with dead babies and then running it through a wood chipper, end recording, move on. So Frusciante released the EP Letur-Lefr which included rappers such as RZA and a few others and some of the oddest time switches and musical moments, and also one of the best songs of late (In Your Eyes). Then we awaited the LP.
And now, the review! For Frusciante, probably working in a home studio, he does perfectly at all the synths, samples, and guitar work. The levels are always perfect, and you know the man knows what he wants. If he wants a sample to be hardly audible and the guitar to be overpowering, he wants that, and it’s for a perfect reason, whether it be a time switch or musical switch coming. And that’s also a perfect part of Frusciante, he knows when he wants to switch how the song is going and when he wants it to be a song that stays rhythmically the same all the way through, in other terms a song that stays to the traditional format. And he mostly succeeds on this in many ways.
The intro begins with synths that honestly remind me of something off an Omar album or a Volta album and with samples and guitars also reminiscent of an Omar album. You can tell Frusciante works closely with Lopez in this influence. “Hear Say” is one of the tracks that falls flat for me. The synths are meant to take top stage, he wants the vocals to be an instrument, and I can understand that, but the melodies are not enjoyable for me, myself. The constant throbbing, bounce and the overall minimal synth work and instruments leaves for a song that sounds like it was half-assed for me. Bike is John working in breakbeats with his usual guitars and his vocals that comes off sounding like a track from a fast paced video game, eventually running into vocals reminiscent of 90′s grunge and ending on a pounding of samples and synths. Not a bad track but not fantastic. There are parts that shine in these aforementioned songs but they never rise to a level to amaze me.
From here the music picks up, Ratiug sounds more as if it’s at home on Frusciante’s other solo albums and it honestly makes the album better for that. It’s a nice settling spot and it honestly makes the other songs sound like musical masturbation for how well done it is. John sounds fantastic when experimenting but keeping it simple. Then we have a guest from rapper Kinetic 9 from the Wu Tang Killarmy. Fantastic track. Guitar is what it is, guitar and synths that sounds like John fucked with recordings and just left it on there. I wasn’t impressed. Then we have Mistakes which is by far my favorite track. The happy synths and John’s ethereal voice make this track shine and sounds like a rare Cure b-side at moments in the music. The samples and musical freak outs do come but Frusciante anchors it with emotional singing and wonderful guitar. This track ruins it. It does. Why you ask? Because it’s so good at balancing his experimentation with his usual work and it makes the rest of the album suffer for being overtly experimental and not enough to enjoy. Anyways, Uprane continues the formula of Mistakes, just not as well, the music isn’t as enjoyable but once again it begins as a usual Frusciante track and goes into sample and synth zone and ends on a frantic measure of vocals and breakbeats going nuts. Same is another sample ridden track with breakbeats and Frusciante singing over them. The ending isn’t that bad, but it sounds like John just started singing over Dj Shadow’s old efforts. Which that probably would be infinitely better. Sum is the last official track (Unless you get the Japanese version) and it’s the same old, synth and samples and John vocals, and yet this one ends with enjoyable synths. It’s sad in a sense as it shows John can make enjoyable synths to listen to, but most of the time it was chaotic and annoying.
Now, that the music part is over, here I’ll let you vent your anger with me…..
You good? Cool. Alright. Now let’s look at this. Once again, yes I understand music cannot stay the same, evolution of music is inevitable. I see Frusciante as wanting to finally try and get more into the electronic world. No problem there, I think it’s fantastic as the world gets more into what sounds come out of electronics. Here’s the thing though, you can love an artist, and they can put out an album that’s experimental, and you absolutely despise it. That’s perfectly fine. I don’t despise PBX but I think it’s lackluster. The Letur-Lefr EP was more enjoyable than this. I think it was the short format personally and each song was different. PBX has grand songs, and then it has full tracks that are samples and synths mixed with time changes and such and it is a take on experimental electronic music. I didn’t enjoy it. The strong tracks are so strong they overshadow the LP and make you wonder why Frusciante didn’t do more of this or that on the other tracks (Such as enjoyable synths, or music that meshes, or better vocals), and it makes you dislike the other tracks. The tracks aren’t awful, they are just good. The amazing tracks make these sound less than good. Then again, the album sounds like an experiment in a field Frusciante is just getting into, and you’re along for the ride. The ride is of course a bit bumpy, but some moments are good.
I’d suggest this if you’re a fan of Frusciante’s solo efforts, or other odd guitarist solo work like Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s albums. Otherwise it’s a far off shot for anyone that isn’t into experimental rock to get into this album. I’d suggest grabbing Shadows Collide With People or The Empyrean or even Letur-Lefr and working towards this album. In the end, it’s not as bad as that RHCP album was, but it’s not anywhere near the heights John can get to, kind of like a blowjob with teeth. You’re getting it, you’re trying to enjoy it, but it’s just not working out except for a few moments.
Check out: “Mistakes”, and “Ratiug”.
Barghest are a black metal band from Baton Rouge, La who are playing in Monroe this weekend with The Flying Humanoids and Sheeple. I took this opportunity to do a short q&a with singer/guitarist Dallas Smith to find out a little more about them. You can check their music out on Facebook or Bandcamp.
Being from south Louisiana, the sludge metal capital of the world, how did you come to discover black metal?
Around high school, I started to get more and more into obscure bands. It didn’t necessarily need to be the most extreme material I could find but it had to convey a certain atmosphere and emotion. It started with death metal like Incantation and Morbid Angel then I got really into doom. Not so much the traditional stuff but bands like Evoken and especially old My Dying Bride. It wasn’t until I really started to delve into black metal that I truly found what I had been searching for. The music really struck a chord with how I felt and listening to it became a therapeutic and incredibly cathartic experience.
What made you want to create a band like Barghest, and what bands would you say are the most influential on your sound?
Contrary to what people think, it was never really the Norwegian bands that we were into so much as it was the American, Swedish and Finnish scenes. It was much more Demoncy, Arckanum and Behexen than it was Burzum or Emperor. Also, while we do consider ourselves a black metal band first and foremost, there is an undeniable death metal influence on our sound and the new material sees us finally bringing out our doom metal side as well.
Black metal originated in the frostbitten woods of Norway and has since exploded in the US in places like Portland, Chicago, and New York. Do you feel that the sweltering, oppressive humidity of the south is just as conducive to making this type of music as places with colder climates?
Absolutely, I think that both your music and yourself are products of your environment. The smothering humidity and sprawling chemical wastelands of Southern Louisiana are just as oppressive as the northern cold, if not more so. It’s incredibly cliche to equate black metal with the cold. It was an integral part of the 2nd wave bands for sure, but to me and many others, it goes far beyond snow and ice.
This month, you guys released your split ep with False and it’s been getting rave reviews. How did you hook up with them?
Basically we are label mates and thought it would make for an interesting pairing within the same genre. Two bands from opposite ends of the black metal spectrum.
You guys have undergone a few lineup changes since you recorded that ep, right?
We are on or third drummer since recording those songs. Other than that, we made the decision that I will be playing guitar as well as doing vocals. While I have contributed guitar in the past, this is now permanent and has definitely changed the writing style and musical direction a bit.
Will you be working on a new full length with the new lineup any time soon?
We are actually writing a new album as we speak. As I said, it will certainly be a somewhat new direction and I think we have grown as a band substantially. Quite honestly, while we love the tracks on the new split, they were somewhat the beginning and end to a chapter of the band. “Shifting Sands” is arguably my favorite track of ours that has been released so far and is also the first song we ever wrote. The other track, “Inhuman Hatred” was the last unreleased song from our original line up and a very rough recording at that… With that said, we felt it needed to be heard. The contrasting vibes of the two tracks is unmistakable. While we certainly wont ever have a production that is even remotely “clean”, for the new album we will go for a little more clarity this time around. This is for no other reason than wanting all the dynamics and little nuances added to be clear and apparent. Make no mistake, Barghest will always be a raw black metal band.
For people that have not seen Barghest before, or even people who’ve never seen a black metal band live, what would you say they should expect from your live show?
I’ll say this: If you hear the term “black metal” and you come to see us expecting corpse paint and elaborate stage props for the novelty factor, you may be disappointed. We are incredibly passionate about our music and believe it speaks for itself. Basically, we have no desire to conform to a preconceived image of any kind. Expect abrasiveness and expect hatred and disdain conveyed through sound.
Will you guys be doing a full tour any time soon?
That’s something we have been working on for quite sometime and only recently has it become truly feasible. Stay tuned.
Finally, if you could have written any song ever, what would it be?
Once again, another ridiculously hard question. Without thinking too much, maybe “Black Sabbath” by Black Sabbath. If you’re going to pick a song, why not pick the one that started it all, right?
Over time, this page has kind of evolved from me rambling about metal albums I like, to show reviews of local shows as well as interviews with various bands from the area. For this interview, I wanted to highlight a very special event taking place at Kiroli Park in West Monroe, La called Rock Your Paws Off. It is an event set up by Adam Rowan of the band Nichols Drive, and its main goal is to benefit Paws Of Northeast Louisiana, a special pet shelter in town. If you want to find out more about the event, check out the official Facebook page. Be sure and check out my Facebook page for more information about awesome events going on around town.
Do you have any dogs yourself? If so how many and what are their names?
Yes I do, I have 2. A pit bull and a yorkie, their names are Shyla and Bentley.
What is Paws exactly?
Paws is a nonprofit rescue organization that removes animals from the shelter to make room for more animals, if theres no room at the shelter they have to euthanize, so paws takes them and places them in foster homes and pays for all of their veterinary care including spay and neuter. They list them up for adoption all over the country as far as Connecticut, Virginia, Colorado and other states, and the pets stay in foster care until they are adopted and then transported. Paws is also opening a spay and neuter clinic for those who cant afford to have their animal spayed or neutered at a regular vet.
What gave you the idea to put on a benefit, and why did you choose PAWS?
I work for Dr. Lauren Harper at Cooper Veterinary Hospital, we are the Paws vet, we take care of all of the Paws animals, and I have fostered also. I knew Paws was having financial trouble and I was just driving to practice one night, and it hit me. Our band’s first show was a benefit, so the main goal here is to raise money for paws, but also to give some musicians a chance to play.
Is this the first benefit you’ve put on?
Yes, this is the first event I have organized.
Will this be an annual event?
So far, I’m pretty sure I will make this an annual event, it’s turning out so well.
Who are some of the bands that are playing the benefit and what genres can people to expect to hear?
Will anyone be covering Pink Floyd’s “Dogs”, or “Who Let The Dogs Out”?
I’m not sure, but I don’t think so.
Other than live music, what are some other activities going on?
There will be a silent auction, the owl center will be cooking, and Roly Poly will be serving food also. Paws will have dogs up for adoption too.
What are some things that have been donated for the silent auction?
We have so much stuff to sell, it’s ridiculous. We have a free oil change and detail from Interstate Dodge, valued at $200. We have two different artists that have donated pet portrait certificates valued at $200 a piece, Log Cabin gift cards, Pie Works gift cards, and that is just a few of the things we have, there is much more.
I’ve seen where some of the bartenders around the area are donating a night’s worth of tips to PAWS, how did that come about and how do you feel about the outpouring of support from the community?
Janell Whitfield came to me and asked me what she could do, and I told her I would take whatever help she could give, and a couple of days later she talked to me about pouring for paws. It was all of her idea, she’s got twenty bartenders participating, and god knows how many sponsors. Most of the community that I have presented the event to were excited to help, and quick to donate. I’m glad that they are willing to support this event, because Paws is a great organization.
Are you guys needing volunteers for the event still? If so, what are you needing help with specifically?
Yes we are still needing volunteers. I need some more fellas to help set up and break down PA and tents and such, I also need volunteers to work the money and wrist band table, and also the auction table.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about this event?
Just to come out and support. My team is working extremely hard everyday, we want to be able to present Paws with $10,000 on the 15th, and we are already 1/2 way or more there, just from Pouring for Paws.
One cool thing about Tsunami is that you never know who will be coming through on any given weekend, whether it be a traveling band looking to get some new fans, or a big name band like Goatwhore, Jucifer, or haarp. This coming Saturday, however, is one of the more unique shows they’ve ever hosted, it features Alex Marley, cousin of the legendary Bob Marley, as well as Renegades Of Funk, a Rage Against The Machine cover band. Alex Marley is an up and coming reggae musician who is currently on tour and I jumped at the opportunity to email him a few questions for a short interview to learn more about him and his influences. You can check out his website HERE, as well as his Facebook. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned to my Facebook page for more cool stuff coming soon.
First off, the Marley family name is one that is synonymous with reggae royalty, therefore I’m sure you get asked this alot, but are you related to Bob Marley at all, if so, how closely?
Bob Marley is my cousin. My grandfather and Bob’s father are brothers.
As a member of the Marley family, would you say there was any pressure on you to be a musician growing up? Also, at what age did you begin actually playing music?
No one in my family wanted me to do music, the choices were law, medicine, or architecture like my dad. I rejected these choices and chose music, which was a tough choice to make, as this meant I was on my own.
When you started playing music, were you immediately drawn to the reggae style because of your family? Who are some other musicians who have influenced you over the years?
Bob is my first major influence, then there is Garnet Silk, Burning Spear, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana and Charley Parker to name a few.
Being a relative of Bob’s, do you feel it has made it easier or harder for you to make your way in the music industry?
Being Bob’s cousin has it’s advantages and it’s disadvantages.
Your single “Lovely Woman” garnered you quite a bit of airplay when it was released a couple years ago, I’ve also noticed quite a few other songs for sale on your website, are these on an actual studio album? Do you have plans to work on a new record any time soon?
These songs were produced by me, but I also have a new album coming out soon which is produced by grammy award winning producers.
Currently you are on the last leg of your “Good Over Evil” tour which has been going on since April, but it’s not a traditional tour routing by any means, how did the idea for this come about and how do you travel to each gig?
Some gigs I fly to, some I drive to, but I fly mostly. The tour is continuous, it’s actually been going on for 2 years now.
One date I noticed that sounded interesting was the Southern Women’s Convention in Nashville, how did that show go for you? Did they demand to hear “Lovely Woman” played over and over?
Yes, Nashville was great, the women of the south are special. I sang “Lovely Woman” for them and “Stir It Up”. I was well received.
I’ve read that you are an avid skateboarder, have you been able to get much skating in while on tour with the US?
Yes, everywhere I go, I find a skate park. It’s also a good way to get to know the local population. Surfing is the best though.
I’ve found that skaters listen to a variety of music from metal and punk to rap and ska while riding, what are some of your favorite bands or songs to skate to?
When skating, I’ll put on either some Bob Marley or some Jimi Hendrix.
In the US, thanks to bands like Sublime with Rome, Pepper, The Dirty Heads, and even Bad Brains, people are gravitating more towards the ska/reggae scene more and more. What are your thoughts on the current state of reggae music?
Reggae is currently the number 1 music genre in the world, and now alot of american bands are gravitating towards it, this is a good thing as this music originated in my country Jamaica and brings a message of universal love to all. Reggae has now broken up into different forms within the music itself, you have pop reggae and you have roots reggae. Different countries have even developed their own styles of reggae, as the reggae you would hear in California is different than what you would hear in Jamaica, the same goes for the UK, Japan etc…
Lastly, if you could accomplish anything with your music, what would it be and why?
If I could accomplish anything with my music, it would be world peace.
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to interview any bands, so it was nice to chat with Ethan of the band TOAST from Monroe, La for a quick Q&A about their new record. Today marks the release of their new Self Titled E.P. and though it’s been a long wait to hear the final product, once you hear this furious math rock assault, you’ll be floored at how talented these guys truly are. You can hear the new album HERE and check them out on Facebook HERE. If you or your band would like to be featured on my site, hit me up on Facebook. Thanks for reading!
Yea, there is a guy who does spoken word that has copyrights to the acronym. We decided that “toast” would suffice. Everybody loves toast. Due to legal issues, I can’t tell you what the name stood for.
How long have you been playing guitar?
Hmm… somewhere around 5 or 6 years, now.
The first time I saw you guys, I was completely blown away with your incredibly creative approach to guitar playing, who would you say are some of your main influences as a musician?
I like to genre-hop, and I draw influences from a wide variety of musicians that influenced me throughout the years of learning the guitar. The first guitarist that really inspired me was Jack White of The White Stripes. His approach to playing the guitar made me want to make music that pushed the boundaries and went against the “norm”. A few other notable musicians that really influenced me are Thomas Erak of The Fall of Troy, Spencer Seim and Zach Hill of Hella, and Nick Reinhart of Tera Melos. Nick has been a huge influence on my guitar playing in the past year. His playing really made me interested in using a pedal board as an extension of my guitar.
As far as your music goes, I think of you guys as a bit of a math rock band, but in your opinion, what genre would you classify TOAST as?
I would classify TOAST as a “Post-Math Rock” band. When I think of math rock bands, I think of bands like Don Caballero, Giraffes? Giraffes!, and Auto!Automatic!!. We definitely have a very mathematical sound, but I don’t want to limit myself to a strictly math rock style of music… I want to continue to push my music to new heights and challenge myself to become an innovator of the underground music scene.
Tell me a bit about the recording of your new album, specifically, where did you guys record it at and who was the producer?
We recorded with Michael Freeman at Hummingbird Studios in Vicksburg, Mississippi. It was a new experience for all of us, and Michael was a ton of fun to work with. There were times the tension was high, due to conflicting schedules, but we managed to pull it off before Champy left for his internship in California and before Michael left for Belmont University in Tennessee.
What made you choose to give the album away for free on Bandcamp instead of selling it the old fashioned way?
I really am not worried about making any money off of our first EP. I feel like the best way for TOAST to spread and to show that we are doing this for the sheer passion of making music is to just give it away.
Currently your drummer Champy is in California which has made it kind of hard to do shows, what are your plans for the band when he returns home?
Yea, we are currently taking a break until Champy gets back in December. I have already started working on new material for a full-length album, so I’m sure after a month or so of getting back in the swing of things and learning a few new songs, we will be back in show business.
If you guys were to do a tour and could bring any band you wanted on the road with you, who would you choose?
If it was a local tour, I would love to go on the road with Caddywhompus or local metal band, Whoa! Nelly. All the guys from W!N are good friends of mine, and I know that a few weeks on the road with them would be a blast. If we had the chance to do a bigger tour, I would love to go on the road with Tera Melos. My life would officially be complete.
If you were stuck by yourself on a desert island with nothing but a walkman and five cd’s, which cd’s would you choose to bring with you?
Hmmm… that’s tough. I’d say my 5 would be Tera Melos’ “Patagonian Rats”, Hella’s “Hold Your Horse Is”, Zach Hill’s “Face Tat”, Gorillaz’ “Demon Days”, and Modest Mouse’s “Good News For People Who Love Bad News”. The Tera Melos, Hella, and Zach Hill albums are some of my current tops, and the Gorillaz and Modest Mouse albums are a few of my favorites growing up.
Finally, if you could achieve any particular goal with TOAST what would it be and why?
I would love for TOAST to inspire people to create. I would love to open up a few minds with my music and to influence local musicians to start new, crazy as shit bands, keeping the Monroe music scene alive and growing.
In this small Monroe, La music scene, there aren’t very many musicians who have been around as long as Ali Hijazi. He’s been in various bands and various genres, he’s also run a music venue and been involved in both all ages shows and bar shows. He’s a good friend of mine and someone I knew had to be interviewed for my site. This interview was done at Tsunami a few weeks ago and you can see his rockabilly band Gatorbait playing there this coming Sunday August 19 with Megan Jean and the Klay Family Band. Check out the event HERE. You can listen to Gatorbait HERE and Flea Circus HERE. Also, if you are in a band and would like to be featured in an interview or review on my site, hit me up HERE.
How long have you been playing music?
Probably since 13, i’m almost 30, so like 17 years I guess.
How many different bands have you been in around this area?
As far as bands i’ve been doing shows with, somewhere maybe in the neighborhood of 20. As far as my own bands that I started with other people, maybe 10 or 12 or something like that.
Which ones are you still active in right now?
Right now, Flea Circus and Gatorbait still and I’m trying to start a band with a couple of friends of mine, like maybe in the near future i’ll have another one.
Are you ever going to work on a new Gatorbait album?
Probably not…by the way…I literally just heard someone say “you talked about my sisters pussy” and I can’t stop laughing…(just then someone comes up and says “never forget, guys…vagina…it’s all about vagina”). Man…I can’t stop laughing thinking about that…anyways…as far as another Gatorbait album goes, I think we’re kinda done writing music, me and Jake and Tyler all are doing Flea Circus now, with Gatorbait we’re kind of just doing on the side so that we can still have a punk/rockabilly band in town.
You’ve gotta put that upright bass to use somehow…
Right, I spent fucking $1,000 on a bass, so ya know, I wanna be able to play it. Every few months or so we’ll do a Gatorbait show with the same songs we did before and stuff, but we haven’t really written anything in a while and I don’t think we’re planning on doing that, like everything we started writing kinda started sounding kinda post-punk so we were like “lets start a fuckin post-punk band instead” and that’s what we did and we went in that direction, so we’re gonna leave Gatorbait in this enclosed capsule where we bring it out every once in a while and we open it up and it’s the rockabilly thing, maybe if there’s a touring rockabilly band or a touring bluesish kinda band that would go good with us, we’ll open up for that.
Does Gatorbait have any upcoming shows?
Yeah, August 19th we’re playing with Megan Jean and the Klay Family Band, it’s a Sunday, but I would love it if everybody came out. That’s the only Gatorbait show we’ve got going on any time soon though
We’ve just been writing new stuff, we’ve got like 4 new songs written since the last time we played a live show, so hopefully we’ll have a whole half of a set that’s new material the next time we play. We’d like to play some time this month, but it’ll probably be late August or early September.
I always like finding out musicians’ personal taste and I’m wondering…if there were a big steel cage set up with tables, ladders, and chairs everywhere with The Misfits in one corner, The Dead Kennedys in another corner, and Black Flag in another corner…who comes out with the championship belt?
So it’s The Misfits, The Dead Kennedys, and Black Flag?
Yeah, who wins the title?
Black Flag with who as the singer?
Rollins’ Black Flag…Danzig’s Misfits and The Dead Kennedys…Dead Kennedys are out.
Dead Kennedy’s are done in the fuckin first 5 seconds, so it’s between Black Flag and The Misfits at that point.Shit, dude, I’m gonna be on the side of the underdogs here and say Black Flag. They’re skinny wimps with the exception of Rollins.
And Danzig clearly has a glass jaw.
Yeah, that and dudes who like to pose that much probably don’t have alot under their belt, anybody who postures for the camera that much…it’s little dick syndrome, ya know? You’ve got motherfuckers driving around in big trucks, it’s the same kinda person, ya know? They’re just into punk rock instead of driving around in big trucks.
As far as personal taste goes, if you could have written any ever, what would it be?
Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”
If you were to curate your own festival and you could choose any active bands to play alongside your bands Gatorbait and Flea Circus, who would you choose?
If it was going to coincide along with the kind of music that my bands are?
If it was going to be a cohesive festival with rock n’ roll music I would choose bands like “We Were Promised Jetpacks”, that’s one of my new favorites. Damn, dude, that’s a hard question, i’m trying to differentiate my personal taste with what my bands would go with.
Go with personal taste, then.
If I created my own show i’d love to have, like a really big popular band, somebody like New Order. Let’s say New Order is headlining the festival, then you could have bands like Interpol, Rapture, The Cure, Andrew Bird, I really like Andrew Bird alot. One of my favorite artists is Jens Lekman, he’s like a Swedish guy who does really great, like, acoustic folky type songs, like storyteller kind of songs, so I guess my ideal festival would be kind of like a low-key, folky thing like that..with people like Fion…uhh..
*gives a strange stare* Fione Regan, I like him alot.
Let me ask another question then, this is something I’m very curious about, I know you grew up on punk rock, hardcore, and metal, do you still listen to the kind of stuff you grew up on, or have you progressed past that? Alot of people grow up on those genres and then move past it because they get sick of the same old stuff, do you feel that way?
Yeah, as much as I hate to admit it, I do. I feel like if I walked up to 19 year old Ali with a cd of Jens Lekman and a picture of him and I said this is what you’re going to be into in 10 years, you’re gonna really like this guy alot. I think that 19 year old Ali would tell me to fuck off and, like, he’d get really pissed off and he’d spout a bunch of shit about how my musical tastes are fucking garbage and I’m a fuckin pussy and all that stuff and I would tell 19 year old Ali to go fuck himself, and 19 year old Ali would take a swing at me, but I’m bigger and tougher now, so I would beat the fuck out of 19 year old Ali, i’d kick him in the face and tell him “go listen to Jens Lekman, go listen to Andrew Bird, stop bein such a fuckin pussy yourself, stop being afraid to listen to music that’s not punk rock, stop being afraid to listen to music that’s not like the same 4 chord bullshit over and over again, maybe try to listen to something that’s like, ya know, good. Not saying that punk rock and heavy metal aren’t good, but it gets boring as shit after a while, man, so does folk music and all that stuff, but you’ve got to just keep going and expand a little bit, don’t be such a narrowminded dick”. That’s what i’d tell 19 year old Ali
You’ve been playing in bands in this area for a very long time.
13 or 14 years, probably.
How would you say the scene has progressed since then.
The scene is exactly the same. If we’re talking about volume of people that are into the scene, it’s exactly the same. If we’re talking about the caliber or quality of people, it’s very similar, I mean, we’re into different stuff now, but it’s still a very similar quality of person. But with personalities, it’s like that no matter where you go in the world, man, you’re gonna find those same personalities. People are all essentially the same everywhere and Monroe’s always going to be the same size town it is, so statistically speaking you’re always going to have the same type of people that are into the same type of thing, you’re always going to have the same percentage of bars that play the same type of music, or host the same type of music, you’re always gonna have that shit, and it’s cool, man, I think it’s interesting to watch generation after generation come and go. The bars change location, they change attitude, they change style, but they’re all essentially the same personalities.
If you could change one thing about the scene now, what would you change?
I would really like it if there were more venues to play, I like options, I don’t like that Tsunami is really the only rock n’ roll gig in town. I like Tsunami, it’s cool, but I would very much like to see another rock n’ roll spot. I know there’s like random here and there’s but when there was The Blue Monkey, Olive Street, and there was always another floating third party bar and all ages shows and stuff, that was cool, but now we’re down to like one pretty much and that’s a bummer. We don’t play shows in town very much because there’s the one bar and you get exhaused, ya know? So that’s what I would change, I would change the amount of venues.
So, my previous post about The Heritage and Mailbomber playing at the Downtown Art Crawl stirred up a pretty lively discussion and I was glad to see both opinions on the way things went. Tonight, however, I’m posting a new tour diary from Mitch of The Heritage which showcases his side of the story and in my opinion, this shows exactly how bad we need another venue in this town for musicians to showcase their art in a much less threatening environment. Feel free to state your opinion below and I thank you greatly for reading.
Place: The Monroe art Crawl
With: Paralycircus & Mailbomber
So here is a chance for the musicians that participated in that show to talk about what led up to that performance. Contrary to popular belief, we did not just show up and start playing, nor did we tell anyone that we were acoustic acts. We were asked by people associated with the Art Crawl to come and play. When we were asked, the first question we asked was “Are you sure? Do y’all know what y’all are asking?” My suspicion is that everyone had a different opinion of what “heavy” was. I personally, was asked to do an acoustic show for Mrs. Emily in the upstairs art gallery, which I gladly did. Mrs. Emily is a dear sweet lady, to whom I have nothing but respect for. To the heavy bands playing, there was no sense of rebellion. None of us were on a mission to “bring down the man”. We were just excited about playing another show. We were all confused on how this happened, but we were jazzed to play. Playing outside is always tough, especially with the sound. Do I think we could have turned down, yes, but there was no sound guy or communication about how much was too much. We only realized we were causing a disturbance when a heckler began verbally attacking us and cursing at us and to the crowd. I believe that art is art. Whether it be pouring your heart and soul out into a canvas, or screaming your written words at the top of your lungs over abrasively crafted guitar riffs, you are still an artist. What happened, happened. The best thing to do is move on with our lives. Learn from these experiences. We are all poor starving artists trying to claim our own stake in the world. Let’s not fight each other. Nothing but alienation comes from that, and that destroys a community.
With: Paralycircus & Mailbomber
Brotherhood was the best way to describe the atmosphere at Tsunami Friday night. The two bands playing with us, were the same two bands that played the Art Crawl with us. A numbered of people had been saying some pretty funny stuff about us on the lovely social site known as Facebook. We had all been deemed “The Bad Guys”. There at Tsunami, we were free to be ourselves fully. We took advantage of that. All three of the bands spent our time drinking and making merry. The bottom line was we were celebrating. After all the nasty comments about us, we were all happy. An entire group of people who had no idea who we were two days ago, not only knew us, but were talking about us. Whether it be good or bad, those people will never forget us now, and that is satisfying. I say talk bad about us as long as you want. The still love you for your part. The crowd at Tsunami came ready to see and hear what was about to happen when all the bands took the stage. News from the Art Crawl seemed to pull different kinds of people in. All the bands played magnificently. The crowd was intense and ready to participate. The sound was one of the better sounds we have had on previous dates on the weekend road show. The best part was the air conditioning. We had been playing outside gigs and festivals for the past couple of weeks, and it felt great to be in an air conditioned venue. Tsunami was very fair and paid all the bands right. It was professionally done, and Donnie is always nice to work with.
Last week, Mitch Laing of The Heritage was nice enough to do a tour diary type entry of their show in Pineville, La. I found it to be pretty entertaining, in fact, the reason I asked him to do these is because I thought it would be cool for people to see the shenanigans that ensue when a band from a small town shows initiative and goes on the road, and in this week’s entry you see exactly what it’s like playing shows in Louisiana in the summer. You can check out The Heritage HERE.
Place: The Leather Shack Shreveport, La
W.A.R.R & P.E.A.C.E festival
Hot did not even begin to describe the day. We started loading the truck and trailer around 11:30am and the temperature was already in the 90′s. We figured we could make it to the show in time to see our buds in Mailbomber play their set at 2:30pm…. We were wrong. Our friend Adam Rowan, from the band Nichols Drive, was supplying us with a ride to the show. We were all very excited about the festival and knew that things were gonna get weird. Just outside of Calhoun on I-20, the truck began to overheat. We pulled over into the first gas station we could see, to find smoke coming from underneath the hood. Fun times. Rus just about had a stroke, Adam went searching for a water hose, and walked around the parking lot with half of his ass exposed to shocked onlookers. After a little water and anti-freeze, we were back on the road. We thought we were safe. We were wrong again. Not even 15 or 20 miles up the road, the engine began to red line again. Pulling into another gas station, we waited around for another 45mins for the engine to cool off. By this point the temperature outside was easily in the low 100′s. Thanks to Rus’ dad, Woodpecker and another nice gentleman at the gas station, we were back on the road. By this point, it was 2;30pm, were weren’t even in Ruston, LA yet, and we were scheduled to play at 4:00pm. The rest of the way, the engine didn’t overheat as long as we didn’t drive over 55mph and if we periodically turned the heater on. So the six of us were crammed in Adam’s truck in 100 degree weather, the window’s rolled down, with the heater on from time to time. Misery, misery, misery.
We finally arrived at the Leather shack at 3:45pm, just in time to load up the gear on to the stage, sound check, and play the show. We were already drenched in sweat before we even got on the stage. The sound guy for the show did a great job, but the heat was just as brutal to the sound gear, as it was to us. The poor stage monitors were 157degrees right before they shut down. I am personally anxious to hear the live recordings from the fest. The heat became too much. I believe we all got some form of heat stroke. Garrett threw up off the front of the stage. That was awesome! We all had to spend the next two hours after we played in the snack shack, in the air conditioning, and eating our fill of free food, which was the best! Tina Post, the head of the show, paid us immediately and fairly. Mailbomber was there with us hanging out. They had a 2nd show to play in Shreveport that night, but returned later in the night. The W&P festival was an event the lasted from 2pm to 6am, so camping was encouraged. Once we were cooled off, we claimed our piece of the camp grounds and set up HQ. We had a six person tent that we all eventually passed out in. The W.A.R.R. portion of the festival was hot and all of the bands were awesome. We got to hang out with a number of the other bands and had a blast. The party kicked off 100 percent during the P.E.A.C.E portion of the festival. Things started getting hazy and we all managed to get one hour of sleep before having to break down the camp and start heading home. The ride back was chaotic at first, then mellowed out after we all slept the entire way back. All in all, we had a great time and can not wait for this weekend at The Monroe Art Crawl Thurs Aug 2, Tsunami Fri Aug 3rd, and Reno’s Chop shop in Dallas, TX on Sat Aug 4.
I’ve been working on some pretty cool stuff for the site lately, specifically some new interviews. There are alot of great musicians in this town, but one of my favorites is John Barnes primarily known as the drummer for The Vidrines, but he’s also involved with a few other projects, specifically a new solo project you can listen to HERE. You can also check out his other projects The Vidrines and The Rape Ape by clicking the links. Thanks for reading!
You’ve been involved in music in the local Monroe, La scene for many years now and in many various projects; how long have you been playing music and what current projects are you involved in?
I’ve been playing in bands and stuff since I was 15 or 16 years old. My current projects right now are drummer for The Vidrines, going on 9 years with that band, i’m a rapper in The Rape Ape known as Category 7, i’ve also recently started my own solo project John Thomas Barnes and The New Frontiersman, and I do alot of hired-gun gigs for different blues, rock and zydeco bands.
I’ve noticed that each of your projects has a different vibe, whether it be rock or hip hop or even punk; who are some of the main bands or musicians who have inspired you as a musician?
Alot of bands have inspired me, you know, alot of pop stuff, believe it or not, stuff like Eurythmics and Duran Duran. As far as metal goes, stuff like Slayer, Tool, Slipknot, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Musician-wise, Jimmy Page, Stewart Copeland and John Bonham just to name a few, there’s really too many to name, i’m all over the board when it comes to music, i’ll listen to anything with the exception of modern country.
When I listen to your current solo project titled John Thomas Barnes, I can’t help but notice a bit of an electronic, almost Marilyn Manson or Prong type of vibe as far as the sound of the vocals and even some of the instrumentation goes, where did you record the songs for your solo project and did you play all of the instruments?
I recorded it at Leaf Lust studios, Craig Just produced it and I co-produced it and played all the instruments and sang.
What inspires your lyrics for your songs? Particularly with the song “Big Truck”, it seems to be about a certain type of person, what is that song about?
Most of my song lyrics start out with a very basic idea, the song “Big Truck”, literally at face value is about a phenomenon that we call sabra’s which are rednecks. It’s literally about these guys who drive these huge trucks and like to make them loud and violate the noise ordinance, it’s fascinating to me, so we wrote a song about it. I’ll take a root idea, like the song “Train Bridge” is about a Train Bridge, of course there’s other meanings behind it and stuff, but sometimes they’ll just come to me, usually a chorus will come to me first before I write any lyrics.
Do you write lyrics/songs for any of your other projects like The Rape Ape or The Vidrines?
In The Rape Ape I write all my own lyrics and in The Vidrines i’ve helped out with the writing some, not with the lyrics, but the collaborative effor with the music, the guys who sing write their own lyrics.
Is your solo project more of a side gig, or do you have bigger plans for it, possibly a full length album or even live shows?
Definitely, i’ve already finished the first album “21st Century Blues”, i’ve already gotten a second album in the works, I kind of already know what i’m gonna be doing, i’ve definitely got big plans for it for sure. Right now it’s a side project but only because i’m having trouble finding players to work up the live show with, that’s kind of the stage we’re at now, material wise i’ve got it though.
As an underground musician who’s played many small, intimate shows at coffee shops and bars, if you were given a choice between playing small venues for just enough cash to cover gas money for the rest of your career, or huge arena rock shows that paid very well, but you had to play a different style of music like Creed or Nickelback, which would you choose?
Definitely the huge arena stuff, i’d sell out immediately for money, dude, right off the bat, no doubt about it.
Speaking of touring and playing shows, if you had a tour of the US lined up for one of your projects, which active bands or musicians would you choose to bring along as your support acts?
If I had to set up a tour for The Vidrines i’d like to work with bands like The Talking Heads and Cake. With The Rape Ape i’d like to tour with Cool Kids, they’re out of Dallas, they’re a really good act, as well as maybe Sonic Youth. For my solo project, i’d love to tour with The Black Keys in an ideal world.
If you were to find yourself stranded with nothing but a walkman and 5 cds, what would you pick to be your 5 desert island discs?
Led Zeppelin – IV, Duran Duran – Greatest Hits, Eurythmics – Greatest Hits, Nine Inch Nails – Downward Spiral, and a Tool greatest hits album.
Finally, if you could have written any song ever, what song would it be and why?
Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin because christians hate that song and that’s the only reason.
The Heritage have now played two dates of their Deathwalk Weekend Roadshow and their guitarist/vocalist Mitch Laing is going to be doing a tour diary of each show they play as part of this roadshow. Today I present the first of these diaries. You can check out The Heritage HERE.
Place: Ursa Major Pineville, LA
The day started out dreary and storming. As we loaded drum gear into Garrett’s car, it began to thunder, lightning, rain, and then the hail came. The hail cracked Reiland Ingram from Reiland Ingram Photography‘s window on his car within the first 2 mins. Then suddenly, as quick as it came, it disappeared. One minute it was black as midnight, 5mins later, blue skies. A very ominous omen of things to come. We arrived at The Ursa Major in Pineville, LA on time for once and were starting to feel comfortable about the show. As soon as our guard was down, the first wave of Murphy’s law hit us. WHOA! NELLY was on the bill with us and due to the rainstorm we couldn’t bring our amps in the back of our truck. WHOA! NELLY offered to let us use their amps the day before the show, but an hour before the show, they cancelled via cell phone. The other band THEY WILL FALL were there and were nice enough to let us use their gear for the show. Big ups bros!! We were excited to see the crew from the W.A.R.R. & P.E.A.C.E. festival at the show showing support.
The show went off without a hitch, even though there were no monitors and none of us could hear anything. Garrett brought his A game to this set, and his performance showed it. After a 45min set, we had a great time hanging out with the kids from the venue. They are not afraid to humiliate themselves. The venue paid us very fairly, and actually added more than what we were guaranteed. The ride back home became a nightmare. Myself, Rus, and Reiland were in Reiland’s vehicle, while Smitty and Garrett were in Garrett’s vehicle. They left out before us. As we were passing through Pollack, LA, we noticed Garrett’s car being pulled over on the side of the road. Smitty texted me and let me know that it was for a tail light and everything is good. So, we moved on. 20 minutes outside of Columbia, we get a call from Smitty saying that Garrett was arrested and he was still sitting in the same stop we last saw him. Since Smitty didn’t have a license one of us had to drive Garrett’s car back to Monroe. We tried to find a way to bail Garrett out, but no such luck. After a long night of driving back and forth through central Louisiana and stress over trying to help our buddy get out of jail, we were all happy to finally lay our heads down for the night. Pleas join the help get Garrett out of jail cause. Until Garrett is among the living, Adam Rowan and Reiland Ingram will take on vocal duties.
I’ve been trying to expand my site and it’s reach by including some new writers. I’ve already gotten guest posts by members of local band Black Market Ministry, as well as favorite albums of the year so far lists by a few different local bands. So far there has been very little indie music represented on my site, today that all changes with five reviews by Ali Hijazi of Flea Circus and Gatorbait of his favorite(and not so favorite) albums of the last couple of years. If you would also like to contribute a list, show review, or interview to my site, please feel free to contact me at my Facebook page. Thanks so much for reading.
What an apt title for this album! It’s like Stephen Merritt understood that what he was doing with this endeavor was taking our collective love for the Magnetic Fields, putting that love on a huge boat, and driving it straight into a fucking iceberg. Maybe James Cameron will make a shitty movie about this shipwreck in 100 years.
The Magnetic Fields are one of my favorite bands, they really are; but when I put this album on for the first time in my car, I almost drove head first into another vehicle, just to avoid listening to this abortion. I’m not even going to go into specifics about tracks on this album. They’re all equally horrific.
I was pretty stoked when “Distortion” came out a couple of years ago, and it was pretty good. Then Merritt released “Realism,” which was listenable and had a few good tracks. But I honestly haven’t listened to “Love at the Bottom of the Sea” more than twice. I can’t. It makes me sad.
If you just have to go out and buy something by The Magnetic Fields, don’t buy this unfortunate record, pick up the reissue of “The Wayward Bus / Distant Plastic Trees.” At least that will serve a purpose other than Frisbee.
Back in 2010 (I think) I was playing some kind of synthy keyboard with this semi-local band called Gashcat. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros came through Shreveport, LA and we got to open for them. I’d heard them a little bit, I wasn’t a huge fan but a lot of their stuff was really catchy. And it’s always nice to be able to play with a relatively popular band.
So we get to the venue, and everything was pretty normal at first. We got to have some free food and drinks, and just kind of hang out until the show. But then the weirdest things started happening. The tour bus didn’t just pull up; it floated in from the sky like some sort of P-Funk album cover. There was smoke and lights and everything. It was insane.
Then all of the members of the band rode off of the bus on hoverbikes and rode to the side of the venue. My friend looked at me and said, “Dude, I didn’t realize they were time-travelling hippies.” Just then a robot leprechaun leapt out of the bus, pulled a switchblade on my friend, and said, “Say it one more time mother fucker.” Needless to say, he did not, in fact say it one more time.
The magic kind of settled down at that point and we loaded in our equipment. As soon as we were done playing, we moved our gear off stage and took it back to our cars. When we walked back in, All of the Zeros equipment was already on stage. It was like they teleported it there. I assumed that it was actually the robot Leprechauns though; because, well, that just makes more sense.
They played a pretty good show with the exception of convincing everyone to sit on the disgusting floor where I was watching cockroaches fuck. I guess they used some kind of hippie mind power to convince everyone to do this. Obviously, I was unaffected.
When they left, the guy and girl that sing hopped on the bus, stuck their arms out of each side of the bus, and began flapping them. The bus rose into the air, and vanished in a flash of white light. We all sat around and had another soda, then drove back to Monroe. “Here” is pretty good if you like hippie indie rock.
When I was in elementary school, I had this classmate named Ryan. He grew his bangs out super long and he’d slick them to the back of his head. I’m not certain what his current occupation is, but it is most definitely not writing and recording exceptional alt-country music.
The new Ryan Adams album, Ashes and Fire, is great. It’s everything you’d expect from him. There aren’t a great deal of standout tracks on it like his “Heartbreaker” album, but still very good, nonetheless.
Once, in elementary school, Ryan jump kicked the door open and got detention on the first day of 6th grade. That seems like as good a note as any to end this record review.
The first time my friend played Jens Lekman’s “Night Falls Over Kortedala” for me, I promptly punched him in the dick. Primarily for not playing it for me sooner, but also because I realized that nothing was ever going to sound that good to me ever again. He essentially ruined music for me. My wife and I had just split up, and the songs on that record made me realize that there was a whole world outside of punk rock and heavy metal. Black Flag can only be so comforting. I quickly acquired everything else Jens Lekman had to offer.
Now there’s a new E.P. And it’s very good. All of the tracks. Every one. Perhaps I’m a little biased, but who gives a fuck? That’s why you’re reading this. For a biased opinion. Most people I play Jens Lekman for look at me questioningly and ask me what the fuck is wrong with me. But some people love him. If you love him, this album is for you. If not, grow up. My suggestion for getting the optimum experience out of listening to this record is to slowly alienate your wife for a period of no less than 3 months, then when she leaves you, put this record on your turntable. Don’t worry, Jens will make it better.
I was listening to the new Andrew Bird record the other day when it occurred to me: If 29-year-old Ali walked up to 19-year-old Ali with a picture of Andrew Bird and one of his records, 19-year-old Ali would call me a pussy. He would look at me with his sneer, leather jacket, and spiked mohawk, and ask me just what the fuck happened. I’d try to explain that sometimes we just grow up, and the Exploited’s “Sex and Violence” just doesn’t have the same luster that it once did. I’d try to explain that, though I’ll still put on a Dead Kennedys record, I’ll more likely put on “The Queen is Dead.”
19-year-old Ali would probably get angry. He might even threaten me because he’d be scared of what he’d become. If he took a swing at me, I’d probably block it and then beat the shit out of him. I’d remind him that, though he is younger than me, I have more experience hurting stupid punk rockers. I might even put a scar on his head and then be left with some sort of Timecop situation, where a scar generates on my 29-year-old body. But I digress.
Below is a flow chart about whether or not you’ll like this record.
Lately i’ve been doing show reviews of the various local shows i’ve been going to. For today’s installment i’m writing about the July 18th show at Tsunami I went to featuring The Heritage and SUPER bob. This show was also the annual summer party for the “Deuce Army”, i’m not sure exactly who they are, but they seemed to be having a ton of fun, haha. When talking to the members of The Heritage recently, they all seemed very excited about this show because it was the first official show of their 2012 Deathwalk Weekend Roadshow, however, the day before the show their vocalist Heath announced via Facebook to the band and their fans that he was quitting The Heritage which caught alot of people by surprise.
When the band took the stage Wednesday night, there was a strange vibe in the air and you could definitely tell it wasn’t a normal Heritage show. Something just seemed…off, it could be because Mitch was dressed as Superman and Rus was dressed as Batman, but it could also be the overwhelming feeling that the set seemed a bit uninspired, specifically because of Heath’s abrupt announcement that this was his last show. They still managed to churn out a beefy set of southern-fried metalcore played with plenty of ferocity and their riffs are also incredibly catchy which makes it impossible not to nod your head. As the band neared the end of their set, Heath passed the mic to another person, Garrett Kent formerly of Payment Through Blood. Once Garrett took the stage, something interesting happened, the band took on a more intense pace and as Garrett bellowed his completely improvisational lyrics, instead of coming through with a southern tone like the previous vocalist, they came through with a hateful, violent, death metalesque roar and changed the game completely. With the excitement of a new vocalist going through a baptism by fire, you could feel an excited energy from both the band and the crowd, and though they only did two or three songs together, you could tell that there was a bit of a passing of the torch as The Heritage literally went from one era to the next in one show. Sound-wise, I feel that by mixing Mitch and Rus’s catchy, unintentionally-Botch-inspired riffs with Chris and Garrett’s metal background, The Heritage are going to turn alot of heads with their new sound.
After The Heritage played, I wanted to stick around and watch SUPER bob, however, I jumped at the opportunity to ask Garrett a few questions, I also wanted to find out more details about the recent lineup change
Johnny Ringo: Garrett, you’ve been in a few different bands before, specifically the death metal band Payment Through Blood, what inspired you to join The Heritage?
Garrett: The Heritage are a group of my friends that are serious about music and i’ve been looking for that for awhile, and I get a very chill vibe from everyone in the band which is a big part of me joining this specific band. Also, I haven’t had alot of opportunities lately so i’m very excited.
Johnny: For people who know The Heritage and have seen them before, what do you think they should expect from the new look version of The Heritage, specifically the fact that the music seems to be getting alot heavier?
Garrett: With the sound getting heavier, people are going to see a different side of The Heritage, i’m just hoping that whenever somebody comes to a show and hears the band sounding heavier, they are able to bang their head and enjoy the fuck out of some metal.
I also had a few questions for the entire band regarding the lineup change that took place that very evening.
Johnny: You guys have just gone through a major lineup change, what do you expect to achieve with the new version of the lineup with Garrett on vocals?
Chris: Basically, the newer songs that Mitch and Rus are coming up with as far as grooves and riffs go, they have a darker tone, kind of like we’re almost settling into our own spot in the world of music if you will. The sound and the texture of it is not as poppy, it’s got more of a deeper and darker kind of tone that we’re beginning to produce,
Mitch: Kind of swampy.
Rus: Not black, but more of a charcoal.
Mitch: One thing that i’m looking forward to the most with the lineup change really, is the comraderie because there were alot of times with Heath, ya know, I mean, I love Heath and we’ve been best friends since we were six years old, we started the band together in 2006, but he can be tough to work with in stressful situations. We all handle stress differently, some people are laid back and some are uptight, and when you throw them in together it doesn’t work sometimes, so i’m looking forward to the relaxed vibe with a bunch of chilled guys that don’t sweat the small stuff, we’re supposed to be musicians to play and have fun and it’s not supposed to be stressful; it’s supposed to be a stress release and that’s something i’m looking forward to the most.
Johnny: Are you guys going to do like Metallica and hire a band therapist?
Mitch: We really aren’t going to need a band therapist, the only person I see myself getting into an argument with is Smitty over who touched his drumset, kind of like in Step Brothers, he can tell when someone has touched his drumset.
Chris: I’ve made that exact statement “it seems that someone has touched my drumset”.
Johnny: Will there be balls on the drumset?
Mitch: I tried to put em on there but he threatened to stab me in the neck with a knife.
With the new lineup solidified, the band will be playing many dates throughout the south over the next two or three months and I wanted to find out which stops they are most excited about.
Johnny: This is your first real tour, right?
Mitch: Well, it’s more of a weekend roadshow, it’s not consecutive dates, it’s just every weekend we’re going to different cities throughout Louisiana,Mississippi and Texas to, ya know, show what we got.
Johnny: What all cities are y’all going to be playing on this roadshow?
Mitch: Pineville, Shreveport, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Broussard, Jackson, Ms and Dallas, Tx
Johnny: Of all of the cities that you guys are playing, are there any that you’re really excited about going to?
Mitch: The Shreveport show the second weekend, i’m pretty excited about that. It’s called the W.A.R.R and P.E.A.C.E festival, I know that the people who are putting that on have been doing a really good job of promoting it, making sure that people know about it, they’ve already pre-sold like over 200 tickets so far, so i’m really excited to see how that one turns out.
Mitch: Uhh…we’re not playing Toronto
Garrett: Dallas because, i’ve always liked bigger cities, and ya know, they always have a better scene and more people are into our type of music in those kinds of cities so i’m looking forward to a hyped up show.
Johnny: When you’re playing in a bigger city like Dallas, what do you expect the audience to take away from your set?
Mitch: Well, in bigger cities, you have alot more to prove the first time you play, so really it’s on us to give the best live show we possibly can and try to destroy whatever we can and piss off whoever we can so that whoever is there remembers that we were the band that fucked everything up.
Chris: I’d like for somebody to be able to realize that there’s more than just straight up metalcore or something of that progressive nature, that there is different music out there that shines and there are bands out there that do many different genre’s and fuse different influences to come up with something great.
Mitch: Too many bands sound the exact same nowadays, sometimes you’ll see a show and with all three bands, you can’t really tell which band just got done playing and which band is next because they all sound the same. So we want to make sure that we have a modern sound, but we’re able to put all of our influences in our stuff.
The music scene here in Monroe, La has featured it’s fair share of bands who are insanely talented but never go anywhere, it’s also featured bands like Dead Twins who cut their chops playing in a small town, and moved on to bigger and better things in Dallas, Tx. Dead Twins is a monstrous rock n’ roll band formed by Gabe and Nick Cardinale, formerly of the band Maroon, a band many consider to be a legend in the Monroe music scene. I wanted to interview Gabe of Dead Twins and see what they’ve been up to, and what it’s like going from being a big fish in a small pond, to being a small fish in one of the biggest ponds in America. You can check out Dead Twins on Facebook HERE and listen to their debut album “Polarized” on Spotify HERE, you can also buy “Polarized” from their record label HERE. If you or your band would like to be featured on my site, please contact me on my Facebook page. Thanks for reading!
It’s been a while since i’ve seen or heard anything from you guys, but your debut album “Polarized” came out in January of 2011, did you guys record the album yourselves or did you go to a fancy studio?
Polarized was recorded at Valve Studios in Dallas, TX with Casey DiIorio. The spot is posh.
“Polarized” was released on british record label Shifting Sounds. How did you guys get hooked up with them?
Nick met Shifting Sounds label persons while drumming on tour with Magnet School in the UK.
On “Polarized”, I noticed on songs like “Locomotive” and “Sick Again” that there is a bit of a Tool influence with the guitar tone and some of the rhythms. Was that done with that particular sound in mind or were you just going for the heaviest sound possible?
If you think we sound anything like Opiate or Undertow we are very flattered.
The last time I saw you guys live at The Blue Monkey (r.i.p.), you were just a two piece. Have you added any other members in the last few years for recording and touring?
“True, the band was originally a two-piece, “Dead Twins has always been a rotating line-up of Dallas misfits.”
With “Polarized” now being over a year old, do you have any plans to record a new record in the future? Also, are there any plans for a tour any time soon?
We still work on music. The last Twins shows were at South by Southwest earlier this Spring. Since then we’ve had a few irons in the fire in Dallas.
You guys grew up in the Monroe/West Monroe area, so you’re obviously familiar with what it’s like trying to play music in a small town music scene. Now that you’re in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where there is a huge music scene, have you found that it’s easier to get bigger shows and play to larger crowds, or is it equally as difficult due to the vast amount of bands and venues there?
We just play our songs and fortunately, people dig them. We live and play in Deep Ellum with the musicians and artists, chicks and dudes. We all have fun and support each other like a family in this town. It’s real.
While in Shreveport many years ago, I was at a record store called Disc Daddy and picked up a copy of the album “Born Telekinetic” by your old band Maroon which is now 10 years old this year. Looking back, do you have any particular fond memories from the recording of that album, or even “Senna”?
Born Telekinetic was co-recorded by Kenneth Sanders in a strange old farm house outside of Monroe. It was mixed at the 91.1 KXUL production studio on the campus of ULM. Maroon and Dr. Sanders love those songs very much. We worked really hard on that album and it represents a certain time in our lives. If you were a part of that chapter in the Monroe music scene, you know what I’m talking about. A couple of years later we recorded Senna in an equally haunted building in downtown Monroe.
Having played many shows over the years, do you have any particular favorite memories from a show or a tour?
I’ll never forget the tours with Dropsonic, The Feds and Doosu. We had so much fun playing all over the south and the mid-west. The Halloween Shiner show at The Shamrock was unreal. And who do you think started the Monroe Christmas Fade? Holla.
Now that you guys have gone through the process of putting out an album through a record label, what are your thoughts on the state of the music industry? If you could change one thing about the state of the industry what would it be?
WE WANT TO MAKE A LOT OF MONEY FAST.
When someone sees a Dead Twins show, or listens to “Polarized” what would you like them to take away from that experience? Also, if you were given a choice to bring any 2 or 3 active bands on tour with you, who would they be?
I always wanted to make some kid feel like I felt when I used to listen to Siamese Dream by Smashing Pumpkins. Hopefully I’ll do that some day.”
You guys seem to have grown up with an appreciation of classic rock and rock n’ roll in general, but what bands would you say have influenced your particular playing style?
Nick and I grew up in a house that had a great vinyl library. Ten Years After, The Doors, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Cream, and such. We were fortunate. I think it totally comes through in everything we do now. Nice catch!
This evening I continue my mid-year look at some of the best albums of 2012 with a guest submission from Erin Malone, guitarist of Fall Of Seraphs, Mercurial, and Cancer Whore. Erin is currently putting the finishing touches on the new Fall of Seraphs album and it should be ready by the fall, so be on the look out for it, you can check them out on facebook HERE. You can check out all of Erin’s bands’ music by clicking the links above. If you or your band would be interested in submitting a guest post, please contact me at my Facebook page.
1. VAN HALEN – “A Different Kind of Truth”- Say what you want about 8 of 13 songs being old demo’s re-worked for this album… isn’t that what every recorded song is anyway? A song the band has played for some time letting it grow and then recorded in a studio for a full length album? The deal is now a days with technology you can access these old bootleg demos and hear them. I’ve listened to each of these songs demo’s from the Gene Simmons financed “ZERO Demo” and they sound way better now. Anyways, this album is awesome and EVERY song is great…even Tattoo! Eddie is shredding solo’s (China Town!!!) and DRL is still the best front man of all time. Though his vocals aren’t what they used to be, he makes up for that in a “story telling” type of mannerism with a few of his signature “ panther screams” still injected just at the right moment.. Only thing is its missing Michael Anthony… but that wouldn’t have changed the song writing/ structure, just missing his signature background vocals and bass lines. This is my #1 pick of 2012 and has been along wait since I first heard Van Halen with DLR in 1984!
2. ADRENALINE MOB – “OMERTA’ ” – Russell Allen…enough said. The greatest progressive/ power metal singer alive today. His main band Symphony X is probably my favorite band. Combine Russell Allen with Mike Portnoy and you have some amazing talent just ready to highlight some decent songs written by unknown guitar hero Mike Orlando. Some of the lyrics can be “cheesy“ at times…but I love this CD and it sounds really great in a good car stereo! The rhythm section is awesome but the true highlight is Russell Allen. His talent and power can not be denied! Also try Symphony X “Iconoclast”… you won’t be disappointed!
3. HUNTRESS – “Spell Eater” – this band has been on the cover or main article of almost every metal mag lately. The reason is the singer/ main songwriter Jill Janus is really hot. But she is really talented as well. Every review I have read has bashed this album, but I really like it. The guitars have a Mercyful Fate kind of ring to it and Jill’s vocals are a cross between Chuck Schuldiner’s vocal tones meets King Diamond’s vocals patterns. Its all about witch craft and paganism. The solo’s rip, the drums are constant and pummeling. It’s just a really great album with a sound all its own. Give it a shot… this band will go far if they can hold it together.
4. BORKNAGAR – “Urd” – the return of I.C.S Vortex! Plus keeping Vintersorg on vocals!!! This is like having David Lee Roth return to Van Halen and keeping Sammy Hagar! Definitely Borknagar’s best album since ICS vortex led album “the Archaic Course”. My favorite track is “Frostrite”. Vortex’s vocals are unmatched by anyone in all genre’s of Metal. He has his own sound that no one can imitate. David Kincaid’s drumming is also a major highlight. Best CD out of Norway in years.
5. ABIGAIL WILLIAMS – “Becoming” – Just read this band is calling it quits after their current US tour. Sucks because they are my favorite new black metal band. This album is very organic. No triggers, sound effects, super production. Just real drums and guitars making some really haunting black metal the way it is supposed to be! I prefer the album prior “In the Absence of Light”, but “Becoming” is definitely an album worth purchasing ASAP! Go check out Abigail Williams before they call it a day. They will be in Baton Rouge on August 19th I believe… hopefully I can make it!
6. VESPERIAN SORROW – “Storm Wind of Ages” – You have probably never heard of this band. They are an excellent black metal band out of Austin TX. I first heard of them when I saw them on a flyer for other Austin TX black metal favorite of mine “Bat Castle”…so I checked them out. They definitely don’t sound like they’re from Texas. Imagine Cradle of Filth/Dimmu but extremely focused, fast and not annoying. I have all of their albums and I hope someone checks them out after reading this. Awesome band that is very underrated and unknown.
7. SIX FEET UNDER – “Undead”- Chris Barnes really made a come back here. If there was a contest between this CD “Undead”and the new Cannibal Corpse “Torture”… Six Feet Under wins by a log shot! The new drummer (Kevin Talley/Daath) and bassist (Jeff Huggel/ Brain Drill) run circles around former members Greg Gauhl and Terry Butler. And new main song writer/guitarist Rob Arnold (Chimera) really brings new life in to this band that was basically on its death bed. Best death metal cd of the year if not last few years.
8. IHSAHN – “Eremita”- I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first 3 solo albums by Ihsahn. To me “the Adversary” is the best then followed by “Angl”. Actually they seem to be less interesting as they go. I have only had this CD for 2 weeks now so I have not been able to listen to it enough for it to really sink in. It’s not bad, but not as good as “the Adversary”.
9. MEGADETH – “13”- This just made me want to listen to old Megadeth. Sounds to “radio friendly”. It’s not bad, just a little less interesting then the previous album “End Game”. Still better than anything Metallica has done in 20 years. Dave should never feel underneath them, he will always be truer to metal and a guitarist than Metallica will ever be.
10. CANNIBAL CORSPSE – “Torture” – Cannibal Corpse is always trying to write the perfect album. Problem is they get further away from making the mark each try. Corpse grinder needs to try some new vocal patterns… if he would write his own lyrics and patterns he might have a shot, but when the guitarists and drummer write the lyrics and patterns… its always going to sound the same and follow the music. There are a few good songs on here, none suck, just nothing new. Last really great CD by them was “Bloodthrist”. The cover art work is awesome and a return to old. That’s a plus.
11. TESTAMENT – “Dark Roots of the Earth”- This one hasn’t been released yet but is the most anticipated cd on my list. The one track I have heard “True American Hate “is awesome! The fact that Gene Hogland is drumming makes this a 1st day release purchase for me. Can’t wait for this one. Cover art is awesome too!
12. GOATWHORE – “Blood for the Master”- A few good tunes on here, but over all too many songs that sound the same and too many songs period. I love the guys in Goatwhore, but they need something new to bring to the table. I don’t know what it is but hopefully they can figure it out. Great live band though.
13. OBSCURA – “Illegimitation”- Fucking awesome tech metal from the guys that used to be in Necrophagist .This sucker has some killer cover songs on this one. Death- “Flesh and the Power it Holds”, Cynic- “I’m But a Wave To”…, and an Atheist track. Those 3 are worth buying this one alone!
14. TERRORIZOR – “Horde of Zombies”- This was recorded BEFORE Pete Sandoval had his back surgery. It’s actually really good, grooving brutal death metal. Definitely worth checking out and jamming while driving fast!
16. NILE – “At the Gates of Sethu”- Same ole shit. I haven’t enjoyed this band since “In Their Darkened Shrine”. Nothing new here except some ridiculous attempts at clean vocals. Worth 1 listen to hear George kill the drums and that’s it. Their well has run dry. Time to try something new or quit.
17. RUSH – “Clockwork Angels”- I haven’t listened to this one enough yet, but Rush is Rush. I believe it hit #2 on the billboard charts, no easy feat for a band that is 40 years old and still kicking ass! If you like Rush you will enjoy this. I also recommend the documentary “Beyond the lighted stage” it’s awesome!
18. JEFF LOOMIS – “Plains of Oblivion”- I thoroughly enjoyed Jeff’s playing in Nevermore…sucks he left the band. His 2 solo albums are ok, reminds me of Jason Becker and Marty Freidman style solo albums. Good stuff but doesn’t have the strength to resonate long. Killer solo’s though and guest vocals by Ihsahn and Devin Townsend. And several guest guitarists. If you play guitar definitely worth a listen or two.
19. KILL DEVIL HILL – “Kill Devil Hill”- Decent album if you like Alice in Chains. Perfect cd to listen to with your girlfriend that’s not too heavy or technical but not that ole grunge era shit you cant stand
20. AMON – “Liar in Wait”- The Hoffman brothers come back CD, Deicide definitely doesn’t miss these 2 bums. Horrible attempt at a comeback. If they are trying to compete with Glen and Steve, Amon, vs. Deicide, why even use the old name Amon? Why? Because it’s the only way to get any attention for these guys. You can’t even buy a hard copy of this cd; it’s only available online. It sucks, been done a thousand times, horrible production. I was intrigued to hear what they had to offer, but it doesn’t have a leg to stand on against any new death metal act, much less recent Deicide albums “the Stench of Redemption, or “To Hell with God”. Save your money and ears.
In towns with small music scenes, there are always one or two local bands who come along and blow the doors off of everyone and become the “it” band to see. In Monroe, La, one of those bands is Mailbomber. Mailbomber consists of guitarist/vocalist David Fluke and drummer Daniel Cumpton. They are a two piece that plays a mix of sludge, punk, hardcore, death, doom and they do so with a hella bad attitude. They have a couple of local shows coming up, so I wanted to catch up with them and learn a little more about them. Below you’ll find a flyer to their show with Sheeple and Black Tar Prophet at Tsunami Saturday July 7th, they are also playing W.A.R.R in Shreveport, La which features them and The Heritage alongside other bands, as well as jello wrestling and a wet t-shirt contest, you can find out more about that here. You can listen to Mailbomber’s demo “Desolation” here and their facebook page here.
Mailbomber has been around for many years, and in many different incarnations, how did you guys go from a four piece hardcore band, to a two piece playing sludge-punk?
David Fluke(guitar/vox):Our sound has progressed as our taste in music has. Originally, we were Pitstain!, just a bunch of punks who never got out of our garage. Slowly, that project became heavier as we started listening to more Power-Violence, which gave way to Hanging Heads. We’ve always been into metal, and the last year or so of Hanging Heads brought out an entirely different sound, which we dubbed Mailbomber. We were a three piece for a while, then we lost our guitar player, so I went to guitar and vocals. The two-piece vibe is so much more intense, we decided to stick with it.
When one listens to your debut demo “Desolation”, they are greeted by two main ingredients: absolute, 1000% straight from the tap anger, and a bukkake of sludge, punk, crust, and doom. What bands would you say have had the most inspiration on Mailbomber’s sound?
David: For “Desolation,” bands like Ceremony, Entombed, Mammoth Grinder and Mind Eraser definitely had an influence.
Daniel Cumpton(drums): We are influenced by bands like Mammoth Grinder , Hatred Surge, Slayer, Converge and so on
You’ve crafted some incredibly angry lyrics, particularly “montezuma/burning off my flesh/exploding mountains cover the world with ash” and “I know i’m a nuisance/nothing good can come from my existence”; where does the inspiration for your lyrics come from?
David: Usually, it’s after a blunt and some Colt 45 that we start talking about how stupid shit is nowadays. I’m not too sure where they come from, but it’s usually something we don’t like or something that sounds brutal as shit, so we keep it.
Daniel: Our lyric inspiration comes from Monroe,Louisiana
With you and David living in different towns, but still playing shows together, how often are you able to practice and write? Will there be any new Mailbomber recordings to surface in the future?
Daniel: Well hopefully by next year I will be in the N.O. with Dave and we will be able to write everyday and we are currently working on a full length .
When someone goes to a Mailbomber show, whether it be at a scummy bar, a sketchy house show, or in a back alley littered with homeless people and used heroin needles and broken pbr bottles, what would you like them to take away from your live show?
David: We put a lot into our live shows. We don’t have any particular message to get out other than it’s alright to be pissed off. Offend who you will and keep doing it. Fuck the police.
If you were given the choice of playing in a band like Foo Fighters and playing huge sold out shows and making plenty of money, or touring in a crappy van playing 200 shows a year for basically just enough money to cover food and gas with Mailbomber, which would you choose?
David: The latter, most definitely. Foo Fighters and bands like that can suck it. I feel like they probably forget what it’s like to play a badass show, hangout with everybody at the show and get fucked up with them. That’s where the fun is, for us.
In the past, bands like Neurosis and Voivod have been asked to curate the lineup for festivals like the Netherlands’ Roadburn Festival; if a show promoter asked Mailbomber to curate the lineup for a festival, what active bands would you put on the bill?
David: Oh man. For me it’d have to be Coffinworm, Municipal Waste, Iron Lung, Ceremony, Nile and Magrudergrind. That would be a gnarly show
There are 3 particularly important times in the history of heavy metal, the 70′s nwobhm scene in the UK with bands like Motorhead, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, the 80′s thrash scene in the bay area with Metallica, Testament, and Exodus, and the 90′s death metal scene in Florida with Morbid Angel, Death, and Obituary. If you could choose to be playing music as part of just one of these scenes, which would you prefer and why?
David: I would have loved to be a part of the 80′s thrash scene. There’s this band, Atheist, that was formed in 1984 i would have loved to get some shows with. Plus, Metallica and Testament? C’mon.
This weekend, i’ll be unveiling my top 25 favorite albums of 2012 so far, if you were to make a list of your 5 favorite albums of 2012 so far, what would be on that list?
David: So far, Municipal Waste’s The Fatal Feast, Ceremony- Zoo. (I haven’t gotten much music this year, but fuck it.)
Okay, so it’s been a while since i’ve made a post on here. I’ve been compiling a list of new reviews to put together which i’ll do soon, but for now, check out this awesome review by Stephen Jester of Black Market Ministry and Electric Sermon.
Before writing this, I assumed Unsane was a fairly recent band that was added to this tour because they were good. As usual, I was wrong and Unsane’s been playing since ’88 and they’ve got 7 releases.. Do me a favor. If you ever hear me make assumptions about a band or a topic out loud that I’ve just been exposed to, odds are I’m talking out of my ass. Just give me a nudge and say “Plug it in your iPhone.” That would be a solid.
I was surprised to see Coady Willis of The Melvins jump behind his section of the conjoined drum kits as soon as the curtain was retracted as Unsane began to play. He went right into Unsane’s song “Rat” off of the album “Wreck” (Unsane’s recent release that came out in March). Coady was filling in for Vinnie Signorelli on drums due to a hip injury and about half way through their set Chris Spencer (Vocals/Guitar) thanked Coady for filling in and also said that he learned the songs in four hours.. Shortly after this Dale Crover jumped behind his side of the kit as Coady left and they played a slower track “Stuck” then straight into a Flipper cover “Ha Ha Ha” (which is also on their newest album “Wreck”) with both Coady and Dale on drums AND vocals.
After listening to “Wreck” after the show, I’m pretty sure they played the whole album in order, possibly shy of a few tracks. Overall, Unsane is a solid band and definitely an appropriate opener for The Melvins.
The curtain drew back after this as western music began to play and everyone waited. At Trees, there’s a balcony area which has a fantastic view of the stage. This venue is set up very well and from here, you can see everything. After about 5 or 10 minutes the lights went out and movie soundtrack audio began to play on the mains. The drone of Buzz’s guitar and the distinctive crash of cymbals and drums began overtake the audio and the curtains withdrew.
Then they go right into “Dog Island” off of Nude with Boots. This is such a powerful track.. the classic awkward yet flowing style of The Melvins.. They ended the song as any other band would typically close a show with the long sustains and sporadic drum fills. I’m talking like 7 or 8 of these.. Show’s over? NOPE. It’s the first song. (This could be related: I heard that Louis C.K. used to open his set with his closing bit as a workshopping style to improve his act. This is a scary concept for a stand-up comedian but music and stand-up comedy are two completely different things.. But I saw Buzz Osbourne in an interview with a Lenny Bruce shirt on so that proves he’s in to comedy.. wait, wait… I’m connecting too many dots here… Sorry, I’ll stop.)
For those who aren’t aware, The Melvins have been playing with two drummers since 2006. It’s not a new concept but still cool. Coady is left handed and Dale is right handed so each kit is a mirror of the other; it’s visually appealing and sort of psychedelic in a way. The drum kits are very close together and they even share a cymbal.
I can’t remember what they played a few songs after “Dog Island” because the excitement knob was WAY up, but I noticed that they played the whole “The Bulls & The Bees” EP about halfway into their set. This is their most recent recording this tour seemed to be in support of this EP. It’s a free release that Scion sponsered and it can be downloaded here (http://www.scionav.com/collection/917). What a solid recording!
It doesn’t bother me that Scion sponsored this. If anything, more corporations need to get with the program and evolve their image. Keep the trickery going but do it right! Here’s to the marketing team of said and/or other corporation: Hire variety. This release and tour was a good move.
After they played the songs off of this EP they closed with the first track off of “Stag” called “The Bit” (coincidence??) and stuck the landing.
This show was insanely good and you can check out the beginning of it here on my YouTube page.
There are many great local bands in the North Louisiana area and with these interviews I try to spotlight my favorites. The band i’m interviewing today is The Navigator, a very interesting/funky rock band who has been in the scene for quite a few years now. The Navigator are playing at both Delta Fest and Tsunami this weekend, you can check them out here.
How long have you been playing music? If you had to choose a hobby other than being a musician, what would it be?
Vance Box (bass): I’ve been playing bass for 15+ years and guitar for 3 or so. I can’t really think of much in the way of hobbies, music has always taken precedence over things like that. I do, however, love gardening. you know, plants and stuff.
Tony Valdez (drums): Ive been playing drums for about 11 years and if I didnt play music I would probably a pornstar or hunt or fish all the time. I love shooting hoops also!
Vinnie Fletcher (guitar): Oh about 17 years playing around with guitars and basses.
Fletch (guitar/vocals): Been playing for about 13-ish years. I would have killed to have been a comic book artist as a child, and have recently started thinking about writing children’s books. Silly, right?
What would you say is the main goal you are trying to achieve with your music?
Vance: As with any other form of art, I think the main goal is to express yourself. To have that outlet is important. None of us are getting any younger and the great thing about music is that it will always change with you.
Tony: My goal with our music is to look out in the crowd of thousands that are dancing and singing to our music.
Vinnie: To have fun and enjoy my favorite creative outlet.
Fletch: My main goal as a musician is what I’d figure any musician’s is: Be heard. Be enjoyed. Make people feel something in a way that’s relative to the sound and tone of the music, as well as creating an emotional connection between the listener and myself. Listeners can always connect with your music, but I think a truly successful musician will find a way to connect back with them.
The Navigator’s sound is incredibly diverse and not limited to any particular sub-genre’s of rock n’ roll. What bands or musicians would you say have had the biggest influence on your sound?
Vance: I’ve never been a big listener when it came to national/international bands and albums. Thats not to say that I don’t, I love bands like Crowbar, Down, High On Fire, Mastodon, Mr Bungle, and King Crimson. I’ve always been more into little bands that pass through town. I have several albums in my collection from those type of bands that I would consider the best in my collection.
Tony: Ive been a metal drummer for so long that my influences were Tony Laureno, Hellhammer, and Gene Hoglan but, now that ive slowed my roll with navigator ive been more influenced by Mars Volta, Queens of the Stone Age and The Polie.
Vinnie: Thanks, I think we are pretty diverse too. I come from a background of ’90′s rock…Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, etc… I went through a jazzy fusion stage liking groups like Mahavishnu, Bitches brew, Chick Corea, etc… I’m a big lover of groove oriented rock that’s not limited by anything. whatever sounds good, do it.
Fletch: This is a tough one. I think first and foremost, we as a band must draw inspiration from each other. And I think since we all have different musical backgrounds, it creates that diversity that we’ve aqquired. Now, as far as me… I am probably as finnicky as they come when talking about musical tastes, so I ask not to be judged when I share these. I am a huge fan of Clutch, which I think is heard in our sound, as unintentional as it may be. I’ve recently become somewhat of a mo-town fanatic. Also, I sometimes wish I was the son of Tom Jones, only so he could share some of that sweet vocal genius with me through genetics. And though some of these artists can’t be heard in our sound, I tend to draw influence from the way a certain songs makes me feel.
Most people you talk to in any city in the world will say that their music scene sucks; being a band that comes from a small scene, you too have seen your share of the perils of a small music scene. If you could change one thing about your local music scene, what would it be and why?
Vance: I truly believe that everyone in NELA is thankful for what we have. If anything, I wish there were more bands and a few bigger clubs that will accept a local show. it’s very rare that a local band plays at a large club.
Tony: If I could change anything about our music scene I would open the Blue Monkey back up because it gave people another place to play music, plus it seemed bands made more money there. We need more music venues. Different crowds. new exposure! I am greatful that we have Tsunami because if it werent for them guys we wouldnt have ANYWHERE to play… KUDOS GUYS!!!
Vinnie: Add casinos, not because I like to gamble, but because it would really pick up the people traffic in the downtown area of our city.
Fletch: I would love to see more venues. Venues that aren’t biased against original bands. I don’t think it’s fair for bands like us and many others to work so hard to write songs, approach places like 6th street bar, and be denied a show because we don’t play Tom Petty. But maybe I’m just jealous because I don’t know any Tom Petty songs. Who knows? I’d also like to see more festivals and events like DeltaFest put on by the city that support local bands.
You guys have been playing shows in and around the Monroe area for the last 5 years or so, in fact, you’re playing Delta Fest tomorrow which has featured bands like Jars Of Clay and The Fray. If you could choose one active band to play a show with, who would it be and why?
Vance: Drain STH….because they’re really hot.
Tony: If I had a choice who I could have a live show with it would probably be Faith No More.
Vinnie: Hmm that’s a tough one… I would have to say Pearl Jam.
Fletch: Not sure how to answer this one. Too many variables flying around. Afraid to offend the spirits of unchosen bands. Can’t think straight. DOES. NOT. COMPUTE. ERROR. ERROR. INITIATING. SELF. DESTRUCT. MODE. ERROR. ERRORRRRRRRR-BEEEEYOOOOOooooooop….. …Who brings the biggest crowd? I’ll play with them.
If you were to go on a huge arena tour, what items would you request backstage on your tour rider?
Vance: Riders are for pussies. give us some water, a toilet and a sandwich.
Tony: If i was on tour on a tour bus, my special after-show request would be midget pornstars and lots of chocolate!!! BOOSH!!!
Vinnie: A private toilet.
Fletch: I would bring Neil Degrasse Tyson. He could tell me how the universe works while I lay nestled in a pallet. He could explain to me how the world won’t end in 2012 while I transcribe them into our next number one hit song. Him and a PS Vita too.
If you could go back in a time machine to any point in music history (ie the woodstock era, 80′s thrash metal, 90′s grunge etc) and be in a band, what era would you choose?
Vance: I would go to the early and later parts of any era of music because that is where the most experimentation would most likely occur.
Tony: If i had a music time machine I would hit up the 80s thrash metal man!!!
Vinnie: To be 19 years old in 1992 in the Seattle area with the musical understanding I have now.
Fletch: I would actually love to visit all eras of music. But if I had to choose one, it would probably be the Woodstock era.
What are your future plans for The Navigator? Are you planning on touring in the future?
Vance: I think we are all in agreement that a solid album is the only real landmark we’re shooting for. we’ve always been so busy writing and dealing with having a life that it’s something we’ve never put much time into. we have a great catalog of original music. the “stinky van, no food, no money” touring is something we’ve never been interested in. we all have homes and families here and those always come first.
Tony: Hopefully things will continue to progress with the navigator and we will bring you guys some funky chocolate beats!!! Touring??? Hopefully someday!!!
Vinnie: Not sure. We are planning on doing an album and doing weekend trips to places like Austin, Dallas, New Orleans, Florida, etc.
Fletch: I think the correct question should be “What are YOUR future plans for The Navigator?” By you, I mean the fans. We will be around as long the fans will have us. They are the reason we do this. They are the anchor that keeps us from going astray on this ship named “The Navigator”. Without them we’d be lost at sea.
After Delta Fest, we are going to start recording. Then, when we gather enough funds, plans for a tour will be set in motion. We will be playing Delta Fest Saturday, at 9pm on The Heritage Stage, then we’re gonna pack up, head straight over to Tsunami and play another set. We look forward to to seeing a lot of heads at both shows, and can’t wait to share our newer material as well.
Thanks so much for your time, Ringo. To quote our song Mars Agent, “See ya later, Navigator”
This week i’ve been very busy and haven’t had time to work on any new release reviews, however, my good friend Duane Berry was able to come up with a couple of reviews of great albums that are certainly worth checking out.
Prepare for the onslaught. The publicity onslaught that is. The release of the solo Jack White recording is going to generate a ton of press, and deservedly so. This record is good. Way good. It’s not a put all the albums/cds/tapes you own in a pile and napalm them cause you won’t be needing them anymore kind of good, but it is very, very good. And electric. It’s good enough that it should land in anybody’s top 5 list of best releases of the year. Feast your ears on this and you will find yourself ready to elect Jack White President, Dictator and King of the new groove.
Some recordings have to grow on you, maybe after 3 or 4 listens you have bought into them. Not this one. First listens are like first impressions, they mean a lot. And this one delivers a great first impression. Without being encumbered by Ex Wife Meg, who could never keep up with him on the drums, or Alison Mosshart of Dead Weather trying to steal the spotlight, Jack White comes into clear view as the most imaginative rock star to come along in quite a while.
The discipline that gets you to such lofty status shows in massive chunks here. This is actually closer to ” Get Behind Me satan ” White Stripes, than anything he has released since. It is full of electric rock, country, blues, some honkytonk and even some Beatles-y moments of psychedelic distortion that has become a staple in the new experimental Nashville rock sound pioneered by White. The White Stripes had a certain atmosphere that was way out in the stratosphere of cool. That is not here. What is here is a driven sound that comes from great songs that are sometimes out of place in this slickly produced iphone world. This alone propels White to a new level of cool.
” Sixteen Saltines ” will be a track that gets a lot of attention. ” She doesn’t know but when she’s gone, I’m gonna sit and drink a few. I know she’s drinking too but I’m wondering for what and who”. The song ends with ” Who’s jealous, who’s jealous, who’s jealous, who’s jealous of who ?”. On ” Love Interruption ” It opens with the lines ” I want love to roll me over slowly, stick a knife inside me and twist it all around “. Then closes with ” I want love to change my friends to enemies, change my friends to enemies and show me how it’s all my fault “. Some real deep seeded painful thoughts that most people are too ashamed or scared to express. Not Jack White. It is motivation like that from deep within that keeps him moving way ahead of the pack, and music fans coming back for more.
His music is the embodiment of the bayou. Dr.John, real name Malcolm John Michael Creaux ” Mac ” Rebennack. Ok, Dr.John for short. His career was formed in LA by LA musicians. Funny thing is, it was in 1965 in Los Angeles and not in his home state, Louisiana.What he is best known for is that New Orleans drawl, funky rhythms, catchy piano melodies and gumbo ya ya lyrics, but those are not his strong suit. Srsly.
He is the energizer bunny of music. I saw him at Jazzfest jammin with the Neville Brothers and banners of 3 other locations he would be playing at that same week. The fact that I saw him come onstage with Widespread Panic and leave to as much noise as Panic fans could muster, and that’s a lot, says something about his mass appeal and longevity. Face it, the man is 71 years old, and getting better. How is that possible, is it some sort of mysterious reverse voodoo thing or what ??. More like he keeps reinventing himself like he has done on his latest release.
Going down this path with him is one of the best production, songwriting talents in music today. Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. And this time, recorded in Nashville, not New Orleans. Such shifts are a guarantee of better things to come. Especially with the new rock groove happening in studios all over the Music City these days. This recording has a modern, earthy sound that in no way reminds you of the influences of Professor Longhair or Fats Domino or other Big Easy legends. This is the sound of tricknology children. Coming up behind you, fading no more. And tricknology is HEAVY.
The creative structure of Auerbach spared no creative avenues to bring forth the sound on this disc. The interesting thing is, no Patrick Carney, Keys drummer. What they did do was bring in some fresh sounds from Max Weissenfeldt, Leon Michels, Nick Movshon, Brian Olive and the McCrary Sisters. All are accomplished in their own right, but not overdone burnt out studio professionals that are heard on every other record coming down the pike. There goes that fresh energetic thing again.
There are some epic instrumental breakdowns on this disc. The sax on ” Big Shot ” is like being hit with a big burst of joy. ” Ain’t never was, never gonna be, Another Big Shot like me, I’m the Big Shot, layin in the cut for you to see “. That’s the tricknology re-invented Doctors swag. And it’s personal.
On the title cut, it opens with ” Lived reckless for so long, justice system bust me wrong. Future stretched out like a rubber check. Dealin from the bottom of the deck, might make it home to the projects “. We hear the good side on My Children, My Angels. “Love ya’ll, aint nothin you can do about that. One is too many, billions ain’t never enough. Don’t take the easy road, there’s no shortcuts”.
And finally on God’s Sure Good, ” He showed me how to live and let live, And I’m so thankful, the breath of life He gives me, A better way, a better day. God knows I’m OK, God’s sure good. “
Maybe there is something to this tricknology thing, I sure hope to find out more as Auerbach and the good Doctor lead us down this path