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Ladies Rock Camp Boston!

by Pete on Mar.24, 2011, under Interviews, Live Shows, Media, News, Reviews, Video

Ladies Rock Camp concert flyer for their showcase at TT The Bears in Cambridge, February 20th 2011The songs had never been heard on the radio… or on a podcast… or on Myspace, Bandcamp or Reverbnation. In fact, none of the songs even existed up until a day or two earlier.

But here they were, erupting through the confines of TT the Bear’s while a packed crowd hollered its appreciation. A delirious multitude of voices could even be heard singing along, knowing the lyrics to every tune like they were Ramones covers. It was the first showcase for Ladies Rock Camp Boston, an intensive, three-day program that took nearly 40 women out of their normal routines and them rock stars.

“You know how, sometimes, when you play an instrument through an amplifier that’s turned up really loud, you can physically feel it?” asked Hilken Mancini, co-founder and Program Director of the camp and its parent organization, Girls Rock Camp Boston. “It was the same feeling. I could feel the energy from the women behind me waiting for the next band to play, to see the women they had just made friends with get up and do it.”

Even after witnessing it in person, the sheer scope of what these women had just pulled off is not an easy thing to comprehend (much less believe). Nearly all of the campers who performed that night arrived at LRC on February 18 having never played an instrument, much less played in a band. With the help of more than 30 volunteers, each of the women (whose ages ranged from 19 to over 50) learned how to play a rock instrument, formed bands with fellow campers and wrote the songs that they would play on February 20 at the showcase.

Ladies' Rock Camp - Photo by JJ Gonson

Ladies' Rock Camp - Photo by JJ Gonson

Mancini, herself a long-time guitarist with such Boston bands as Fuzzy and Shepherdess, started GRCB after volunteering at the original Girls Rock Camp in Portland, OR – an experience that she says changed her life. It was there that she met Nora Allen-Wiles, a fellow Bay Sate resident who was volunteering with an administrative role at the camp. The two teamed up with Mancini’s friend and fellow musician Mary Lou Lord to establish a camp in Boston modeled after the one in Portland and the growing number of programs around the nation that have come to form the Girls Rock Camp Alliance.

For those who are unfamiliar, Girls Rock Camp runs summer programs for girls aged 8-16 with the stated mission of building self-esteem and leadership through music education and performance. Ladies Rock Camp was started as way to raise funds for the GRC while giving women over the age of 18 the opportunity to enjoy an experience similar to the one offered by the girls’ camp. It was held at the Spontaneous Celebrations Community Center in Jamaica Plain, which houses a large auditorium, a small gymnasium and various rooms that were used for workshops and rehearsal spaces.

GRCB Founders Nora, Hilken Mancini, and Mary Lou Lord

GRCB Founders Nora Allen-Wiles, Hilken Mancini, and Mary Lou Lord

As Administrative Director Allen-Wiles explains, LRC consisted of much more than guitar and drum lessons.

“We do a lot of empowerment exercises to build self-esteem,” she said. “We also do a lot of group-building and ice-breakers and things to get the women to feel more comfortable in their bodies before starting their day. A lot of it is things that we do with the girls camp, but they’re just as important for the women to feel more comfortable around each other and with themselves.”

Of course, running all of these activities takes a lot of work. Fortunately, LRC found no shortage of talented women eager to lend a hand, and many of them are names that might be familiar to those who follow the local music scene. Ex-Darkbuster guitarist Amy Griffin, now of Full Body Anchor and Movers & Shakers taught guitar lessons, as did Apple Betty guitar slinger (not to mention Boston Band Crush blogger) Kerri-Ann Richard. Hayley Thompson-King of Banditas worked as a vocal instructor, while Aerochix drummer Joni Scimone taught campers how to hit the skins. Many of the instructors also served as “band coaches,” offering support and guidance to the newly formed bands.

As for the campers themselves, many of them were women who have been attending concerts in the Boston area for years but had never gotten on stage themselves. Some heard about LRC by word of mouth, while others had some prior involvement in a GRC program. With the number of applicants vastly outweighing the number of available spots, campers were selected on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Girls Rock Camp Boston 2010 in action - Photo Credit: Kelly Davidson

Girls Rock Camp Boston 2010 in action - Photo Credit: Kelly Davidson

The very first person to sign up was Erin King, who was eager to take part in LRC after volunteering at last summer’s inaugural Girls Rock Camp Boston. It was there that she got her first and – until this year – only experience behind a drumkit when one of the girls in the band she was coaching stayed home sick one day. King spent 20 minutes tapping out the simple rhythm of the song her girls were playing so that the members who were present could rehearse. At LRC, she decided to give the skins another go.

In one large room of the Spontaneous Celebrations complex, nine kits were set up for the nine girls who had chosen to play the drums. 15 (presumably cacophonous) minutes of freestyle pounding were followed by more structured workshops. King learned how to keep a beat using only the kick and snare, and gradually worked in the toms and cymbals. By Sunday, she had learned enough fills to get through an entire song without entering or exiting two verses the same way.

To decide what kind of band they wanted to play in, campers were given the choice between several different genres in the rock spectrum (punk, glam, metal etc.). King went with “pop,” forming a quartet along with guitarist Rebecca Mitchell, bassist Wendy Grus and vocalist Ashley Willard (also of BBC fame). They decided to call their band The Boobytraps.

King likened the grueling practice-and-rehearsal to a “bootcamp,” She often spent the rare moments of down-time working on her beats. Even with the extra practice, King says that there were moments where she feared that her band’s one-song set was destined to be a disaster.

The Boobytraps - Photo Credit: Kelly Davidson

The Boobytraps - Photo Credit: Kelly Davidson

“In dress rehearsal, I just couldn’t do it,” she recalls. “My legs were trembling. I thought, ‘I’m not gonna be able to keep my feet on the pedals.’ But when we walked on the stage, I had this level of calmness. I thought, ‘I can do this,’ and I did everything exactly how I wanted to. I went for it and played my heart out.”

Not only did The Boobytraps nail their song, appropriately titled “Shut Your Trap (So I Don’t Fall In),” but they had so much fun doing it that they decided that there was no reason why their first show should be their only one. The four have since pitched in on a practice space at the Sound Museum. If they have it their way, you will be able to catch the Boobytraps playing a full set of original material (and maybe a few covers) on a local stage sometime this summer. (Click here to check their Facebook page for updates!)

Perhaps no camper had seen as many Bay State bands without forming one herself as Anngelle Wood, host of the “Boston Emissions” local music show on WZLX (100.7 FM). Wood found out about the camp when she interviewed Mancini and Lord about GRCB and LRC on her show, which airs on Sunday nights from 10pm-to-midnight. The
long-time local music booster’s only previous band experience was playing bass at a few shows with a short-lived cover band.

Dirty Gold - Photo Credit: Kelly Davidson

Dirty Gold - Photo Credit: Kelly Davidson

Wood decided that LRC was the perfect opportunity to get behind a microphone in an entirely different setting. When it was time to pick genres, Wood’s love of bands like T-Rex and the New York Dolls led her to form a glam rock band with guitarist Charlotte Huffman and drummer Lilia Halpern. The trio decided to call themselves “Dirty Gold.”

The experience of collaborating on an original song was a new one for the three women, but the empowering atmosphere of the camp helped them stay largely undaunted by the challenge of creating and memorizing the tune in such a short timeframe.

“We just kind of riffed a little bit on Friday and I listened for the melody,” Wood explained. “On Saturday, we put more of the pieces together and recorded it on Lilia’s iPhone. We listened back to the melody and then sat down and wrote all of the lyrics in about an hour.”

Dirty Gold had the honor of opening the Sunday night showcase with their song, “Bright Lights.” During the very first verse, Huffman’s guitar strap came undone, but like a true rock n’ roller, she carried on without a trace of panic. A member of the LRC staff snuck onstage and quickly fixed the strap as Huffman continued to strum the chords while grooving in place in a sparkling blouse that would’ve made David Bowie pout with envy.

That moment seemed to set the tone for a night of performances that did not always go exactly as planned – but were always fierce, lively and anything but self-conscious. The voices in the crowd that sang along with every word belonged to the campers and volunteers who had learned the songs, essentially, by accident, simply by being within earshot of the artists who wrote them, as they were being written.

Ladies' Rock Camp, getting ready for the big show! Photo Credit: JJ Gonson

Ladies' Rock Camp, getting ready for the big showcase! Photo Credit: JJ Gonson

It may be tempting to say that the main purpose of these camps is to provide women and girls with a gateway to a field in which they are constantly underrepresented and seem, at times, to be unwelcome if they do not fit a certain image. That’s a big part of it, and a noble, necessary mission to be sure. But, as Mancini explains, it really doesn’t tell you the whole story.

“It’s not often in life that there is no agenda,” she says. “Not that I think poorly of what people are trying to do; everyone’s got to make money and take care of their business. But we’re all so selfish and vain in so many ways that it’s rare to have a pure space where it really is about getting to that place where you’re building each other up and not monetarily driven and not trying to gain anything.”

That, more than anything, is what made this event so special. It was a celebration of friendship, power, pride, guts, blood, sweat, silliness, sisterhood, womanhood and, above all, rock n’ roll. That’s redundant, of course, because rock n’ roll encompasses all of those things. Anyone who was at T.T.’s on February 20 will tell you the same.

Girls Rock Camp Boston begins registration for their Summer Sessions on April 1st. Because of the astronomical success of Ladies Rock Camp, GRCB was able to raise enough funding to be able to host two separate sessions, one running July 17-23 and one August 8-13. E-mail or visit for more information!

Ladies Rock Camp Boston

Girls Rock Camp Boston



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Interview: Art Brut!

by Maria on Oct.26, 2009, under Interviews, News

Art Brut Main
This’ll be your 3rd album. How do you think this album speaks to where you all are right now, this point in your career and lives?

Eddie: I think the album is a pretty accurate portrayal of us right now. A lot of the lyrics on the other albums were about things that had happened in the past. The lyrics on this one are what Im up to right now. I love DC Comics, Public Transportation and I have just discovered The Replacements. The lyrics on the next album will all be about the future. I think the music on this album sounds the most like us. That is how we have always sounded live. We are all feeling very confident at the moment.

Frank Black is huge fan of yours and produced Art Brut vs. Satan, Frank Black is a legend – especially here in Massachusetts. How do you think this changed or enhanced your latest LP? How do you think collaborating with not just another artist, but another musical vanguard – an innovator – influenced the production of Art Brut vs. Satan?

Eddie: We decided early on we wanted to record this album, in one or two takes as much as possible for a more immediate sound. Black Francis is the expert at this style of recording. That first Catholics album was recorded in one take with no overdubs. SO just having him to agree to work with us was a massive confidence boost. When Frank Black tells you you’ve written a good song its a pretty awesome feeling. Also all the advice he gave us over the arrangements and things we should try was spot on we wouldn’t have written an 8 minute song without his encouragement and im glad we did that. Working with Frank Black was a brilliant experience.

In your official press release, you were described as an indie “witchfinder” (on the track ‘Demons Out!’)- calling out bands who cling to this “epic” U2-like production and with lyrics “This is Art Brut versus Satan/The record buying public, we hate them!”. Do you think there is a right way to sound? On the same token, you’ve said with Art Brut vs. Satan you cared less about what others might think, do you feel like Art Brut, after 3 albums, has more room to experiment and grow?

Eddie: I don’t think there is a right way to sound. I just personally dont like overblown production or lyrics that are filled with platitudes and overwrought cliche. So would like there to be less of that and unfortunately that seems to be whats popular at the moment. We have always kind of done what we’ve wanted to. We’ll just carry on doing that, but yeah I think we now have more room to experiment and grow.

There is a healthy lining of both self-deprecation and narcissism in your lyrics, but they remain completely relatable and grounded in conversational overtones- does it come more naturally to you, Eddie, to write in first person?

Eddie: I try very very hard to make our lyrics as ‘conversational’ as possible. Im glad its working. Yep writing in the first person comes naturally to me. Ive just finished an album with my other band Everybody Was In The French Resistance…Now in which the songs are about other characters from songs and I even managed to accidentally turn most those into songs about me. Maybe Im a sociopath.

Thank you for writing about the Replacements – “how have i only just discovered the replacements?” – great. I think a lot of us do look to an older generation of music to improve the quality of our music libraries. I know this is wildly predictable question, but can you speak to some of your musical influences? Is there a reason for your references to Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger” and Top Notes’ “Twist and Shout”?

Eddie: After I found out it was possible to name songs with the same names of other famous songs I just couldn’t help myself. With The Passenger though I had always thought Iggy’s was about riding the bus/train so when i found out it wasn’t I felt we should rectify the situation.

In Art Brut we all have very different tastes in music my favourites tend to be singer song writers like Jeffry Lewis, Daniel Johnston, The Mountain Goats or stuff like Half Japanese. Mike likes power pop Weezer, Eels that kind of thing, Fred is into Pixies Husker Du that kind of thing. Ian likes metal Lamb of God, Sepultura etc and Jasper doesn’t really like music maybe some pop music at a push. When we write its always a bit of an argument trying to make all those things fit.

What is the greatest part of being a successful, touring band?

Eddie: I really like meeting people and traveling so its the best job in the world for me.

Can you describe some of the differences in playing for a US audience? do you find some of your music is lost on us?

Eddie: Nope in fact I think the opposite. British people can be very cynical. US audiences seem to be ready to accept us at face value and understand we are being sincere.

So far you’ve released an album every 2 years, got any plans for the next?

Eddie: Hopefully sooner. Early next summer is what we’re aiming for.

Art Brut



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Show Review, Interview and Photos: The Uprising, McAlister Drive, Fire in the Field, Gold Star Morning

by Pete on Sep.18, 2009, under Interviews, Live Shows, Media, News, Photos, Reviews

Michael Bernier and the Uprising

Michael Bernier and the Uprising

The summer slate at Paradise ended with a bash featuring four up-and-coming New England bands on August 29. Gold Star Morning, Fire In The Field and McAlister Drive set up the gradually inflating crowd, and Michael Bernier & the Uprising knocked them down with a set that felt more like a celebration than a hard-polished recital – natural and jubilant, with plenty of smiles, dancing and no inhibitions within a 12-bar radius.

In essence, it was a coming-out party for the four groups, who have all added new members in the past year. Each band spoke highly of their respective newcomers and seemed to have the glow of a team that has found the one missing piece they were looking for.

Gold Star Morning was already in the midst of their set when I arrived. If someone had told me to guess which man among the five-piece was its newest member, I probably would have guessed wrong – not a one of them seemed out of place. As it turns out, Ben Leang joined the band just nine months ago to perform lead guitar, keyboards, computer sound effects, back-up vocals and whatever else the band tells him to do. Guitarist Luke Rodgers, who started the band with front man Joe McHale, praised Leang’s versatility and said that GSM’s objective in writing its more recent songs has been to take advantage of his many talents. The band does so proficiently on songs like “Best Excuse” and “Start Tonight,” during which Leang adds drama and mystery with echoey keys before launching a devastating guitar solo.

Ben 1It is those fiery leads that add a welcome snarl to the band’s otherwise pristine brand of alt-pop. Gold Star Morning cites Dave Matthews Band, Coldplay and U2 as chief influences (depending on which band member you ask), and they have melded their tastes brightly enough that they would sound at home on a bill with any of those bands. Like a true pop combo, the band lives on the strength of its hooks, with the chorus giving each song its raison d’etre. With a silky voice that bears a resemblance to that of Coldplay’s Chris Martin, McHale is an ideal match for the players around him, and Rodgers, drummer Craig Blinten and bassist Cory Bean pave the kind of steady road needed for driving rock ballads like “Start Tonight” and “NSA.”

At the moment, the only way to hear full songs by GSM is to check out their live videos on the ‘net. But the band plans to release their debut EP in November (you can hear short clips from the upcoming disc on their myspace page).

The sound that filled the Paradise took on more of a vintage flavor when Fire In The Field lit up the stage. It’s not easy to attract modern audiences with a classic rock sound, but these guys are, at the very least, destined to be a local favorite among fellow musicians and acid rockers for as long as they continue. If you have any taste for the music of like Deep Purple and Funkadelic, you really have no excuse not to catch this band. Fire In The Field layers a foundation designed by 60’s and 70’s hard rock pioneers with just the right amount of leather clad riffs from the stoner metal generation that spawned Fu Manchu, Clutch, Kyuss and the like. The recent addition of keyboardist Andrew Blowen, who fronts another NH-based band called One Hand Free, gives FITF something that every psychedelic rock band covets, a member who can channel the spirit of John Lord with organ swells and warp-speed arpeggios.

The four cavalrymen in FITF (Blowen, guitarist Mike Moore, bassist Jeff Badolato and drummer John Santarelli) got ample time to melt faces with their chops during the set – particularly on the instrumental tour de force “Solidad,” in which Moore and Blowen took turns raging with their respective weapons, and the band, at one point, broke into a spirited jam on the iconic riff from the Frank Zappa’s “Willie the Pimp.” Moore, who founded the band with high school pals Badolato and Santarelli, is truly a sound to behold on the lead guitar for reasons that go beyond his actual playing ability. Most axemen would be thrilled to be able to mimic a signature tone of one classic guitar hero, but Moore seems able to jump between a Ritchie Blackmore strat crunch and a bubbling Hendrix fuzz wah and any other sound he wants, depending on what the song calls for.

James from Fire in the FieldArmed with the widest vocal range of any crooner who took the stage that night, frontman James Bagshaw could have easily devoured the entire set himself. But, like his bandmates, he was respectful of the other “voices” around him, stepping aside to let each one to make its statement when the moment came. And it’s not like he didn’t get his time to shine as well. After all, it was Bagshaw’s desperate wails that elevated “Restless” from just another slow song to the kind of stirring blues confessional that makes truckers and bikers shed a single tear before willing it back inside and slashing into the horizon once again… or something like that.

The penultimate set was performed by McAlister Drive, a band that was founded by Christoph Krey while he was an undergrad at Tulane University way back in the mid-aughties. The story goes that Krey’s band was originally named Crown, until Hurricane Katrina came along and, mysteriously, left one stretch of the main road through Tulane virtually undamaged. Last year, when Krey returned home to the bay state and decided to revive his college project with three musicians he had known since high school, it seemed only fitting to name the band after the street that Katrina failed to destroy.

Like the story of their name implies, the music of McAlister Drive honors the more resilient constructs of the past, but looks ahead with the resolve to build anew. The band cites modern-era groups like Silver Sun Pickups, The Black Keys and Maroon 5 among its precursors, and with shimmering chords, sugary harmonies and big, bittersweet hooks, McAlister Drive has a sound tailor-made for 21st Century mainstream radio. But always making ripples below the surface are strokes of the Replacements, Cheap Trick and other power pop masters from decades gone by. The group rolled out a nice gamut of their gifts at the Paradise, drawing swoons from the emo princesses with sentimental soul barers (“Got it Right” seriously could have fallen, disheveled and heartbroken, out of a Gin Blossoms album) and setting hips and hair in motion with balmy, summer night joyrides (Dave Grohl would be thrilled to deliver a melody like the one in the verses of “Drowning”).

Christopher and Adam from McAlister Drive

With Krey’s biting telecaster distortion and sternum stomping blows at the hands of drummer Scott Wilson, McAlister Drive even found moments to let loose and say “fuck pop, let’s RAWK!” The most balls-out example of this was the atomic Led Zeppelin medley the group detonated to close out their set. Krey left the stage while guitarist Adam Richter led the band through a damned impressive rendition of “Fool in the Rain” and a few other cornerstone riffs before Krey stormed back just in time to belt out “Rock n’ Roll” to the dancing delirium of the parents (grandparents?) in the V.I.P. section.

“It’s the Paradise Rock Club – You’ve got to show ‘em your guitars,” said Krey after the set.

A few other quick notes about McAlister Drive before we move on: The band is working on “Devil’s Ghost,” the follow-up to their debut LP, “Something to Sleep With,” and will play at Harper’s Ferry on October 1; bassist Eric Thachuk joined the band six months ago, which allowed Richter to move from bass to lead guitar. Thachuk’s steady rhythms are a perfect fit for the songs, and having Richter on guitar frees up Krey to switch off between guitar, keyboards and gesticulated vocals, depending on the song. Cycling through the battle stations like that adds a level of unpredictability to the set and seems to accentuate Krey’s natural showmanship, which is a big selling point for the band. Whether you dig the tunes or not, they are a fun group to watch.

Michael Bernier and the UprisingSpeaking of “fun to watch,” I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there were members of Boston’s deaf community who came out and paid to see Michael Bernier and the Uprising. Whether he was strumming his acoustic while bugging his eyes a country mile out from his head, tapping out tribal grooves on his djembe drum with a grin as wide as the Grand Canyon, or just dancing, barefoot, around the stage, Bernier was impossible to ignore. His overjoyed presence set the tone for both the audience and his bandmates, who laughed and danced like preschoolers at recess whenever they weren’t busy with their instruments.

The Uprising, in their current formation, have yet to release a recording, though they are in the process of making a full-length at Chill House Studios in Charlestown. There are earlier, stripped-down versions of some of the songs they performed on the web (, but judging from those efforts and what was presented at the Paradise, the songs have transformed as the band has grown, incorporating ideas and styles of those that have joined the band. The original core (Michael Bernier on acoustic guitar, his big brother, Ryan on bass and Mark Fiorentini on drums) formed about four years ago, jamming on gospel-tinged reggae and roots rock tunes that Bernier has composed over the last decade. Eventually Brian “Whitewall” Wall joined the group and juiced up the songs with his high-voltage lead guitarwork. Last year, the band welcomed Kate Berlent on saxophone, which Bernier says has “added a classiness and intelligent side” to the Uprising. A little bit of Bob Marley, Adam Duritz and Jack Johnson still emits from the soul of each tune, but the band’s improved vamping capabilities allow the Uprising to incorporate the boisterous elation of the E Street Band, the familial intimacy of the Flecktones and even the prog-rock innovation of the Jeff Beck Group into their sound.

Berlent’s versatility and power on the horn were on full display at the Paradise. On some songs, she and Wall synced up with jazzy melodies in a call-and-response sequence with Bernier’s vocal lines. On the more steady-paced rockers, she unleashed soaring, colossal notes like Clarence Clemons in a little black cocktail dress (and I sincerely apologize for putting that image in your head). Having players with starkly different musical backgrounds goes a long way towards setting the Uprising apart from the other roots/reggae acts led by soulful, shoeless troubadours that pop up from time to time. Berlent is a prime example of this, as is Fiorentini, a confessed metalhead whose frantic fills and sudden pauses lend a cinematic quality to each song. When he changes beats or kicks a song into the chorus, you get the sense that something important (and, possibly, cataclysmic) has happened.

Michael BernierThe band’s goofy exuberance belies a somber intensity at the heart of Bernier’s songs – and in his voice. A breathy desperation pours out from virtually every syllable that he sings. His lyrics – which bare an obsessive focus on peace, unity, salvation and other vagabond favorites – and the voice that conveys them are the product of years of travel, songmaking and, presumably, soul searching in remote parts of Costa Rica, the West Indies and the isle of Molokai. Such an up-close and highly personal encounter with a man’s unmasked appetite for redemption and various kinds of love can be jarring, even a little off-putting to those who go to concerts to relax, unwind and punish their eardrums. But you don’t have to be glutton for catharsis to feel like you belong at a Michael Bernier & the Uprising concert. On the contrary, most of the sizeable crowd that squeezed in toward the stage at the Paradise was in attendance to have some drinks, jump around and do everything else that people do at normal rock concerts – and if some of them happened to stumble upon some inner peace in the course of their reveling, then… maybe they win a prize or something (I forgot to ask the band about that). World salvation is a tall order, but one thing Bernier can promise to all in attendance is an ecstatic atmosphere, a max-energy performance and the inner peace of money well spent.

“Everybody here is very positive,” Bernier said after the show. “We all respect each other so much. There are layers on layers of love. We call it organic rock n’ roll. We know it’s a really good time for us, and we try to get that across to everybody.”

Fire in the Field
Gold Star Morning
McAlister Drive
Michael Bernier and the Uprising



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Interview: Mew!

by Noah on Sep.04, 2009, under Interviews, Media, News, Video

Late in August, the Danish indie/prog act Mew rolled through Boston, blowing away The Paradise with their lush, narcotic and at times off-kilter sonic-head-trip repertoire. With a brand new album dropping days before the performance, Mew treated fans to a healthy dose of mind-blowing new material. Our writer Nick Grieco caught all the action and asked the band a few questions. Here’s what they had to say about their growing success, their new release and what you can learn from Trent Reznor!

You just released your newest album, No More Stories Are Told Today, I’m Sorry They Washed Away on Sony BMG. How do you feel you have progressed as a band since your last album release?

I think we are on an exponential incline in terms of musical ambition. Sometimes it makes me tired. Sometimes I wish we could be one of those bands that put out a new album every six months, or at least every year. We need that incline though, to keep it interesting for ourselves, to be inventive and never settle for just “okay”. We put a lot of thought and time and effort into our music and everything we do around the music. I think this album is warmer, more colorful than the last. I am really happy with it

The music video for ‘Introducing Palace Players’ is now up on your Myspace, and I’m sure a lot of other places as well. Can you talk a bit about the making of the video, and the ideas/concepts behind it?

We decided early on to work together with our friend Martin DeThurah on the music videos, he put a team together consisting of himself and directors Adam Hashimi and Lasse Martinussen.
These are people whose aesthetic senses we trust, and it was agreed upon that they make three videos and we wanted to make them all in a fairly short window of time because of all the touring that is taking place. Martin explained to us the idea of IPP but I could not possibly repeat the gist of it in any way that would do justice to his passion, it’s about nature versus non-nature, about communication, about geometry and lots of other things. It contrasts the song nicely in its peaceful harmony.

How has your US fan base been developing over the past years?

It’s been really good. We did some support tours here and returned soon after to play many of the same venues as headliners. I think a lot of people are aware of us and maybe some of them are scratching their heads and maybe some of them are starting to look into us, see what we’re all about. I think all in all the US has been great to us and we like touring here a lot.

There must be a lot of anticipation for the release of No More Stories, and especially now that you’re performing it. How do you feel your most loyal fans will react? How about new listeners?

It’s unquestionably a time of great uncertainty whenever we finish an album. Because we take such a long time writing and recording, we live with the music amongst ourselves and in time you kinda go crazy. There’s no outward communication, it’s inside a cave just feeding off each other’s impressions. So when you finally put it out, you feel proud of what you have done but at the same time you don’t know if it’s all insanity. It’s a bit like when you tell your friend about your favorite movie that’s showing somewhere, convince him or her to go see it with you, and then you get self-conscious as you’re watching it, seeing it through your friends eyes. The album has been out for a little while now, and so far I would say the reaction has been amazing to super amazing!


Your founding bassist Johan Wohlert, left the band in 2006. How do you think your writing has changed in his absence from the writing process? Do you intend to find a permanent member to take his place?

We have been playing live shows with Bastian Juel on bass since Johan left, lots of touring. He also plays most the bass guitar on the album. Having grown up together and played together since we were kids, we would feel awkward bringing someone else into the writing process, into the core of the band. Things are going well as they are. We had to put some explosives into the band and blow it all up and put the pieces together in a new way, not only because Johan left, but because we needed to take that step, to find new methods of writing and keep evolving as a band.

Your last album, And the Glass Handed Kites was released in 2006, and became quite successful, earning you not just a lot of attention, but also 4 Danish Music Awards amongst other great accomplishments. Do you feel your upcoming release can keep up with that success?

So far the reviews have been extremely positive and it’s going really well! So I would say yes, though I don’t want to jinx it. Jinxing is the worst.

Do you guys ever get bored of touring? Frustrated? Got any good stories from recent tours?

I get tired from long flights and waiting in airports. I’m sometimes scared of flying but when you’ve been on planes for 25 hours you stop worrying, you just don’t have the strength to worry, and the turbulence is like being gently rocked to sleep in your cradle. Homesickness comes in waves, but in general when the shows are great and the audience is wonderful you somehow find the will to keep on going, it becomes your life. It’s a mistake when you’re a musician to live in the future, to think “oh just 10 more shows then I get to go home”, because your life is happening right now and you need to remember why you are doing what you do, and what a privilege it is! It’s good to make it a point to do something in each city, go see a museum, have an extraordinary meal, taste the local cuisine, etc. It makes the days stand out from each other, because otherwise the whole day can feel like the same “routine” that just has to be over with until you finally get on stage, which then becomes the only moment of the day you really enjoy.

What’s your advice for the many growing bands in the Boston music scene in helping them achieve similar success to your own?

That’s a tough one. From an artistic perspective I would say dare be yourselves, be inspired but don’t imitate, find out what it is you can do that no one else can. But it has taken us a loooong time to get where we are, so maybe my advice should really be “rip off as many successful bands as you can!” ha ha! I don’t know, depends on the nature of your ambition. Use the tools that are available to you, use all your skills, learn new things, go see some art, get some signals into you and make them your own. There is a lot of talk about the future of the music business. I recommend reading some of the essays Trent Reznor has written about this subject, he is a clever and talented man, and you can learn a lot from him.



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Interview, Show Review and Photos: Holiday Shores @ O’Brien’s

by Maria on Sep.03, 2009, under Interviews, Live Shows, Media, Photos, Reviews

Holiday Shores

Holiday Shores

Holiday Shores’ debut, Columbus’d the Whim, is pure, euphonic magic- a carnival of sounds. Post-name change, Nathan Pemberton & Co have produced an album of youthful and dream-like splendor. The hazy music is wrapped in sounds of, and packaged, like a time capsule, still hauntingly relevant and age-appropriate. It’s a psychotic and seemingly effortless mix of old and new that has been compared to the likes of Brian Wilson and Animal Collective.

The sound of Holiday Shores resonates like the “glory days” (or what our generation might imagine them to be). Pemberton’s voice is a gentle and melodic force, that somehow, finds stasis in the chaos behind him. Peel away the layers of distortion and polyphony of these tracks and you’ll find his songs left with a discerning innocence–not immaturity–that laces the lyrics. “Phones Don’t Feud” was my introduction to Columbus’d the Whim, already tapped by Fader, but, “Reruns” is the track that hints at their talent for broad appeal. “Tremor Rolls the Peak” is where I find the humanity in their music, and “Errand of Tongue” is where I hear the marriage of Pemberton’s wordsmith potential and musical prowess. The band’s sound is unpretentious, with a clever and subtle seduction.

Beautiful Weekend

Beautiful Weekend

Last week the guys drove up from Chicago en route to Brooklyn, stopping in Allston for Thursday night’s gig at O’Brien’s. The night’s lineup also includes local band Beautiful Weekend and Brooklyn-based Dan Friel. The setting is intimate, and showcases a sophisticated brand of humor wrought with self-deprecation and humility. Beautiful Weekend (Noell Dorsey and Joel Roston) kick off the evening with a cymbal, electric guitar, and vocals. The duo’s sound creeps off the stage with foreboding and ethereal quality. After some time, Dorsey and Roston’s voices become one, and the harmonies guide us through this wraithy soundscape.

Holiday Shores follow the local pair with a short set of about four or five songs. They manage to get the bar dwellers from their seats, and despite being reprimanded for unwelcomely shouting out a song preference, I enjoy the band’s energy. You’d never know these guys just drove through night. There is an excitement and genuine appreciation in their performance that seems to embrace the small and supportive crowd.

Dan Friel also seems quite comfortable in this setting, and sets up his one-man-band at the base of the stage, drawing the crowd closer, sitting ’round something like a Yamaha Portasound festooned with Christmas lights. Friel’s commitment to creating a melody with/in/out of noise might be what Black Moth Super Rainbow would sound like if stuck in a video game. He closes his set with “Ghost Town Part 1,” which truly exposes Friel’s pop-sensibilities and unbridled, electro-freestyle.


After the show, I get the opportunity to sit with Pemberton and ask him a few questions. So, at midnight, we sit on the stoop of an Allston residence and discuss The Beach Boys, karaoke, and the future of music. With an assuming ease and boyish charm, he describes the band’s risk-taking and inclusive approach to music that leaves me wondering…what’s next for these guys?

So, I know what I feel when I listen to your music, but if you could create a scenario for your music, where would you suggest someone listen to your music? When? What would they be doing?

Ah, huh. Well, a lot of it feels kinda modern to me. A lot of times, I’m like, “I haven’t really heard this before,” which is why I liked what we were doing. If I’d heard it before, I’d feel a little weird about continuing with it. But, to participate better with your question, instead of saying “now”… I dont know if we really fit in with the 60s, but I definitely feel like people from the 60s would enjoy it. Even the 70s, actually. But, I think it fits with what’s happening right now (in a cool way), and, hopefully, it will last a little bit longer than just right now. Because a lot of records don’t.

Yeah, funny, actually, I just was reading this interview with Lester Bangs shortly before he died, and, of course, he was ranting about the doomed fate of music as it is monopolized by major record companies. Seems “popular” music now is largely determined by, well, people like me – and that person over there. It’s at this seemingly extreme grassroots level, but, like, the availability and accessibility to this music has also made it easily disposable.

Holiday Shores

Holiday Shores

Yeah, it’s a weird spot. We were all really excited about 2009, like, who would take advantage of where we are, now. I mean, when the Animal Collective record came out in January–that was pretty exciting. And, then the Dirty Projectors record came out and that was really good. I mean, 2009 has been pretty good, and I had really high expectations for it. But, I’m still kinda worried about 2010.

I guess what I mean is, there is such a difference coming from an era where you buy an entire record and that album is valued, as a whole, you know.

Exactly. That’s a huge issue right now, I guess.

Yeah it is. I mean, it’s great because music is being done largely at this grassroots, diy level – rejecting this idea of the big record company – but, at the same time people are making music and uploading it to the internet, and others (not even consumers) are downloading only one song.

Well, it’s like, with itunes you can pick and choose.

Yeah, definitely. And, I guess, as an artist how do you feel coming out during all of this?

I mean, I worry about it a lot, of course. I think everyone’s kind of worried about the whole blog thing. And, how quickly someone can go from nothing to something. It’s a whole weird level of stardom, where someone can just as easily and quickly go back into obscurity…it’s a strange time. I think the “value” of music is maybe being lessened. But, I also really think, at the same rate, this format allows for music to be more progressive. But, it does just seem like bands can be built up and then broken down on a whim. I’m a little worried that everyone is rushing to find something new, and then these days things are falling out just as quickly as their made. But, I also don’t foresee anything slowing down, so I think people have to adapt to that.

Yeah, there are the artists like Beck who’ve changed with the times and who are still successful.

Definitely, the artists who started in the 90s with record deals, royalties, and advances, and now aren’t signing cds anymore – what a huge culture shock for them.

I see a little Beck in your sound. Maybe that just came from the sounds I hear in the background–in the living room where you recorded. Or, what I see, in this, like, playfulness and willingness to experiment.

Yeah, I like to just kinda go for it. See what happens…Have you ever listened to Brian Eno?


He actually had this set of cards and these cards contained small phrases and the phrases said, well, they would just say random things. They would reference these cards when they’d get jammed up while they were recording. So, if they got to an impasse when they were recording they would reference the card and the card would say something, like, you know, “G”o with your gut” or “What would your best friend do?” Just these random things, and they would use these cards to guide their decision-making process. I hadn’t heard about this before I started recording, but in retrospect it seems similar to how we recorded. Just like, “Okay, well, you know, what’s our gut instinct for this part?” or “How much time do we have?” We didn’t really lay it out in advance. We kinda just figured it out in the moment. Piece by piece.

Holiday Shores

Holiday Shores

So, how does that affect your songwriting?

Hm, my songwriting…I’ve never been able to just sit down with a guitar and write a song from start to finish. I’ve always had to start recording the song, and, I’ll make a mistake or I’ll hear something weird when just fucking around with that song, and I’ll have to extract that bit, blow it up. Then, that’ll become a part of the song. It’s totally by trial and error. Just letting things happen. I do feel a little weird about that. ‘Coz that’s a modern way of approaching music. You couldn’t do that in the 60s or 70s. So, sometimes I feel like I’m cheating to a certain extent. Taking advantage of the resources I have. I wish i could just sit down and go from a to b on one instrument, and then go from there. I’m shooting for that, still. But, for this album, the songs as a whole came together, primarily, by just recording them.

I mean, it sounds great. I feel like the creative process…well, there’s no right way.

Yeah, totally, There’s no one way. But, I do kind of feel like it’s not as accomplished to sit down in front of a computer and edit stuff together. I think I’ll keep trying to strive to create differently.

Okay, so, I would hate to stamp any temporal or seasonal label on music or a band, but I just feel like your sound oozes summer. Like, it’s the perfect soundtrack for sitting on a porch and drinking a beer.

{Laughs.} Well, uh, the record was recorded in the middle of winter. Totally dreary. I definitely didn’t set out to incorporate “summer” into it. I mean, if that’s how it came out, I think it’s awesome that it did. But, at the time, I was going to school everyday, then coming back and recording from 4 or 5 in afternoon to midnight, or 2 or 3 in the morning. Then, waking up and going right to school. You know, not exactly carefree. But, there definitely was a time when we were just…anticipating summer. I think that aspect is there. I was anticipating graduating, anticipating being done with it all, and takin’ it easy. Which, we have been doing so far. I think a lot it was just like, not wanting to be…

Doing whatever you were doing…

Ha, like in school. You know, it was definitely about me looking forward. I feel like everyone thinks we recorded in the summer.

Well, I guess being a Floridian, that’s just in you (I know. I’m also from Florida.) But, in talking about homebase, I think geography is important noting. And, any sort of sociocultural elements that might influence the music that you make. Like, I think the music that you’re making in Tallahassee is really different from the music that’s coming out of Gainesville – which seems to be harder rock.

Well, the thing is, Florida is so spread out. So big. And, Tallahassee is a little more folky- folk punk. Like, when we play shows it’s really hard to find a band that fits with us. Really hard. I think we feel a little out of place there. It’s not that people aren’t receptive to it, it’s just that people are necessarily making this kind of music.

Then, where do you get these ideas from?

A lot of it was the records we were listening to, and just keeping in touch with what was happening across the country. Not that we necessarily drew a lot from them, but it was interesting to see how things are lining up. Things on our end just seemed to sync up with everything else that was going on.

I think it’s really interesting, too. That there does seem to be a sound that defines a sort of what’s going on in music right now.

There definitely is something going on right now, and it’s really cool. I think this summer has been really great, and I’m curious to see what happens next year, and this fall. What things shift into. I don’t want to know what next is, because I feel like that would be too soon. It seems like a lot of this is only just starting. But, I’m definitely curious to see where it heads.

Do you have any plans?

Hopefully just to tour more. We have some new songs in the works. Hopefully looking for a release over seas. Still working on that, though. Nothing positive. Just, shooting for it.

Why not.

Why not.

So… I mentioned, that I read some reviews, specifically of Golden Throats, where people have thrown around words like ‘atonal’ and ‘unpolished’ to describe your voice. You may not like this comparison, but when I listen to you I think your approach to vocals is reminiscent of Stephen Malkmus…

Yeah! A couple of people have actually said that.

What! Why’s everyone stealing my lines? But, I mean, when people start comparing you to or referencing people like Malkmus, [Brian] Wilson…if it were me I’d be like, “ahhh”…

Yeah, I just don’t think about it. I think it’s inappropriate, because they’re, like, untouchable. I’m not going to try to pretend that i’m anywhere near…

… But, how do you feel about other people trying to define your sound?

I’m just trying to go with the flow. Like when people say “beachy”… I mean, a lot of us who are close to the record think it sounds more like…Well, first of all, i think it’s hard, weird, to describe things like you said before with a seasonal tag. I feel like the record is a little darker than a summer or poppy record.

Holiday Shores

Holiday Shores

Well, I guess that’s where the Brian Wilson reference comes in.

I mean, the songs are kinda dark. But, I didn’t want to write dark music. Like, with The Beach Boys, all their songs manage to present themselves as Beach Boys’ songs, but for people who care to look at them, they’ll see the weird mental states Wilson was in, and what was going on his life. They reflect pretty clearly, actually.

Absolutely. I think his inclusion of strange and dark instruments, noise helped do that. I think that’s what you are doing, like, by incorporating these things that are in your everyday life.

Yeah, especially, with a recording process that was so in step with my everyday life. I think, my feelings and life at the time just spilled over.

Like in “days drag.” Totally relate.

Yeah, it spilled over with lyrics. To express what was going on at the time. I actually had to write those really quickly because we didn’t have much time left.

When you say time, what do you mean. Like, were you under pressure?

Well, I was supposed to mix the record in March. Which i did. But, we did “Days Drag” in something like 4 days. But, I was definitely like, “Okay, I’m going to sit down and write a record now” because they want to release it. We set a deadline.

Was that part of the reason you might have brought on your collaborators…bandmates?

Yeah, I approached Josh in the fall, and was like “I’m gonna record this record, you should help me.” He helped a lot. The bass player and other drummer recorded on a lot of tracks. One of the guys is still performing with us, he’s just in school right now.

Yeah, I thought you had two drummers?

We play a lot with two drummers. But, now that we’re touring, the other drummer just can’t come out. I would like to do that more often. Ha, there’s also not really enough room in the car. …But, a lot of the record does have two drums, with me and josh playing two drums at the same time.

I think you can kinda tell the difference. Even when you were playing “Errand of Tongue” tonight, I was listening to it and noticed some elements were missing. The first time I was listening to through my headphones –Well, you know, when you first listen to a record you just listen to it and then listen to it again to absorb it –well, i was listening to this song and heard that computer inbox sound…

Ha, yeah, someone has said that. I looked for that sound, and couldn’t find it?

What! You didn’t do that on purpose?! Because, I thought that was genius. I thought, they take these ordinary sounds that I hear everyday …See, this is where being an artist becomes weird, because people start picking up on things you didn’t mean to do. Or, drawing meaning from something that wasn’t there in the first place. …Apparently.

{Laughs.} We did it on a boombox. I think the boombox pitch is just speeding up.

Well, uh, I was going to ask how you decide to incorporate these elements…

I think I just got lucky. I think a lot of it was the pace of the schedule we were working with; not a lot of time to second guess.

Yeah, well, I’m glad you didn’t. …Maybe, don’t tell people that. Let ‘em think it was deliberate.
Okay, so, top 3 favorite songs for a dance party. Go:

1. Like A Prayer – Madonna.

That’s a great karaoke song.

Oh, yeah? Josh really likes karaoke, I’m just not very good at it.

…Because you’re a singer…?

I don’t know…I just get up there and…

…Yeah, the trick is you have to be really drunk. And, it’s not really about the other people…Next time you’re in Boston you have to go to the Hong Kong…

Ha, okay. …

Last two.

2. Rhiannon – Fleetwood Mac
3. Billy Jean – Michael Jackson

Holiday Shores


photos by Pete Legasey


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Interview: The Marvels Reunite & Take Over the Middle East Upstairs 8/21!

by Bryan on Aug.17, 2009, under Audio, Interviews, Media, News, Previews



After a 4 year hiatus, The Marvels have reunited and are ready to wreak havoc upon the Middle East Upstairs on Friday, August 21st. Ask around town, ask anyone who’s been in the Boston scene for a while and you’re bound to hear some crazy stories about their experiences at Marvels shows in the past. Now they’re getting ready to start the band up again and rock Boston’s face off. They’ve put together a great lineup for this show, teaming up with the Dirty Truckers, VAGIANT, and Pulp 45 to bring you a great night of rock madness. With a bill like this the show’s VERY likely to sell out, so we’d recommend picking up tix in advance at the Middle East’s box office or online through Ticketmaster. PGB caught up with The Marvels before the big night to welcome them back, talk about the reunion, and find out what’s in store for the future. Here’s what they had to say…

Oh, and while you’re reading, check out the song “Hate Myself” off of their most recent CD, Cheat to Win. It was actually licensed by FX and appeared on Season 4 of their hit television show “The Shield.”

The Marvels – “Hate Myself” – Cheat to Win

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PGB: So its been 4 years since your last show – where’ve you been?

Matt Zimmerman (guitarist): I was sunbathing in a strip mall parking lot called South Florida.

Chris Stafiej (lead vox): That’s a good question, and one even I only partially know the answer to. I started the Throwaways with Zim and played with them until last May. I guess I’ve been mostly sitting on bar stools and plotting my inevitable return to a life of rock n roll mayhem.

PGB: What caused you guys to break up in the first place?

Jesse Von Kenmore (drummer): Zim went to Florida to work for his brother “for 3 months”. It turned into 2 years.

Staffy: Zim moved to Florida and I planned on moving to Nashville, TN (which I decided against at the last minute). Zim and I both agreed that we didn’t have the time to give The Marvels the energy it deserved, and we had no desire to be one of those bands who plays the same set for 2 years. So rather than fade away or die slowly, we pulled the plug. We wanted to go out ‘on top of our game’ (so to speak) instead of just limping along.

PGB:What made you decide to reunite?

JVK: Same thing that makes some junkies return to drugs, or thrill killers to murder again. It may be self destructive as hell, but ya miss it like crazy and nothing else feels as fucking good.

ZIM: Enough time had pased that we were able to only remember the good times. Same thing that probably motivated the Eagles

Staffy: A real penchant for destruction and self loathing, with an added dash of boredom. Playing in this band has been some of the best (and occasionally worst) times I’ve ever had in my life. We’ll see which it is this time around.

Michelle Paulhus (bassist): The timing was right. The whole idea was tossed around on a Friday evening – that Monday all 5 of us were in the room playing for the first time in 4 years.

Staffy: In all seriousness, everyone in this band is very close to my heart, and it gives me an excuse to get together with them, have fun, get drunk, and do something creative all at the same time. Zim and I have a bunch of song ideas kicking around, and I can’t think of a better bunch of people to play them with.

PGB: What musical projects have each member been involved in since the breakup?

JVK: After the Marvels broke up I played with Wild Zero for a year (did one record), was in The Pug Uglies (with Marvels guitarist Niceguy Jimmy B)  for 2 years till they broke up , and started The New Alibis about a year and a half ago (Two records so far).

Staffy: I was in this hipster/dance/electronica/disco project called I Wear My Girlfriend’s Jeans that got really big in Brooklyn and Germany. Oh… and The Throwaways too.

ZIM: I only did The Throwaways

MP: I continued to play with The Dents, and then joined the Andrea Gillis Band

PGB: Are the songs on your myspace page new recordings with the current lineup, or leftover from 2005?

JVK: One in the same..All those songs are from “Cheat To Win” which was released on Abbey Lounge Records in 2004. This lineup (Staffy, Zim, Jimmy, Michelle and I) came together in spring of 2003 and is the same as on that record. We played a shit ton of shows from 2003-2005.

PGB: How long do you intend for this reunion to last? Are you talking a one-shot deal (plus the show in Portland September 26th at Geno’s, of course), or are you planning on sticking it out, booking some more shows and maybe recording some new songs?

JVK: We’re back, unless we kill each other. We already have a 2nd  Boston show booked for later in September, plans for a video for “Hate Myself” with Mike Gill (Circumvision) are in the works, and hope to be in the studio recording new stuff by around Christmas. Zim’s got plenty of new songs in the cooker. That jew can write rock tunes wikkid good. So I hope we are back in this for real… but The Marvels have aways been a precarious endeavor, so we could be gone tomorrow, but I fucking hope not.

ZIM: I hope to do more but we all have different lives and responsibilities than before. I do have plenty of songs I have written in the past 5 years that I’d love to record, but that shit costs money. We will see.

PGB: Looks like a great lineup for your reunion show! Are the other bands friends of yours, or was the show kind of slapped together with whoever was available?

ZIM: JVK set this one up so he takes the credit, or the blame, for such a diverse lineup. I like it when a show offers this kind of a spectrum of tastes. I am old.

JVK: Good question- Yes they are friends, but The Dirty Truckers, Vagiant and Pulp 45  are also all very good bands that are all very different. Straight up ragged Boston bar rock, Allston punk singalong, some rockabilly… and whatever ya want to call us. For shows to do well in this environment it’s so important to put together shows that are top to bottom high quality bands – lineups that are really entertaining and can draw well together, as well as with people you really like. This is no different than when I put together shows for The New Alibis – bills are NEVER “just thrown together” with whoever’s available. It’s a pain in the ass to do it right, but worth it for a great night. The good news is that there are so many great bands in Boston and we are friends with a ton of ‘em.

PGB: In asking around it seems a lot of people and reviewers consider The Marvels to be one of the best live acts they’ve ever seen. What makes a Marvels show so good?

JVK: Great songs and chemistry. There’s just something about the way the 5 of us fit together that just Rocks like a Hurricane… I’ve been in a ton of good bands, but The Marvels are really special in that regard.

ZIM: Our friends and fans, to begin with. Rock bands should give people the opportunity to cut loose if they want, and that is what a Marvels show is an invitation to do. We are not reinventing the wheel. We also have a certain chemistry when we get together. This is fun for us up there.

Staffy: It’s like watching a car crash that you can participate in.


PGB: What are some of your favorite stories from past shows?

ZIM: In the past our shows have featured band member arrests, fights both including and excluding members, and the rest of the usual debaucheries one would expect. But most of it is hazy at best.

JVK: The guy licking horse shit remnants off Michelle’s boots onstage in Portland was pretty good…The 2005 BCN rumble shows were great, and a lot of epic nights at the Abbey [RIP] and Geno’s [in Portland]. The place would be just packed. the ceiling would just drip sweat…beer flying though the air – chaos! The mini tour with Lost City Angels and Avoid One Thing when Jimmy was wikkid boozed up,  fell in the creek – the jew saved his scally cap as we frolicked with Tiki Torches and chainsaws..

Staffy: Too many to list. Show up on the 21st and help be a part of a new NC-17 rated memory…

marvels-flyerPGB: What can we expect for your reunion show on the 21st?

Staffy: Fun, debauchery, and depravity that knows no boundaries… and that’s just the sound check.

JVK: More of the same. A really good assload of fun.

ZIM: Hopefully you will have such a good time you won’t remember any of it.

The Marvels

Dirty Truckers


Pulp 45



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Red Wire Black Wire @ Middle East Upstairs – Interview, Show Review and Photos!

by Noah on Jul.09, 2009, under Interviews, Live Shows, Media, News, Photos, Reviews

Photo by Pete Legasy

Photo by Pete Legasey

Red Wire Black Wire isn’t a household name quite yet, but that could be changing soon. Coming from a lineage of successful Wesleyan University bands (namely fellow indie electro-pop-ites MGMT), RWBW recently relocated to Brooklyn where they have begun to garner attention both in New York and across the online community. The music is the brainchild of front-man and keyboardist Doug Walters, who composed RWBW’s debut EP Compass on his laptop, before assembling a 6-piece band to perform the songs live. Poised to release a full-length album and embark on an ambitious tour in the fall, RWBW will be dropping their distinctive commixture of reflective rock anthems soaked in synth-heavy dance grooves across the country and beyond.

guitar1 Headlining the Middle East Upstairs on Monday night, Red Wire Black Wire was joined by The Franklin Kite, who celebrated the release of their new EP Explosions and Batteries. I arrived in time to catch TFK’s set, rife with cascading, electronically tinged pop hooks. Technology is certainly a friend to these guys, as their songs feature both occasional autotune, and remotely controlled midi drums triggered by a Wii nunchuck controller (in accompaniment to a live drum set). TFK’s songs, floated through the packed house airy and narcotic, the bass and synths rolling out filmy layers of sound to be cut by the pounding drumming.

TFK’s set nicely priming the healthy Monday-night crowd, Red Wire Black Wire took to the stage near midnight. Talking with Doug Walters before the show, he explained jokingly to me that the he would have to be back in the studio in New York by 11 AM the next morning, and as a result this would be his most sober performance to date. Perhaps a level of sobriety works well for the band as, from the start, Walters and his compatriots blasted out a tight, hypnotic sound, deluging the room with buzzing dance-rock energy.

keysvox6 RWBW is one of many bands currently propped for success, yet like many a “buzz” band, still teetering on the precipice between stardom and fizzling obscurity. Walters is a man grinding to make sure the latter doesn’t happen. Adding gravity to the band’s weightless synths and harmonized guitar hooks, Walter’s often troubled and vulnerable narratives ground his songs in the realm of relatable emotion, making them as compelling lyrically as they are danceable. On stage, Walters jumps around the floor, poses for the camera and climbs into the audience to survey his band mid-song, all while delivering his music with careful precision and restraint. The five band-members performing beside him hold up their ends ably, guitarists Zac Meyer and Greg Walters (Doug’s brother) tastefully complimenting each others’ riffs, ringing atop bouncy, poppy rhythms.

Though I headed to the Middle East having heard just a small selection off of the band’s 2008 EP Compass, RWBW quickly converted me as a fan. Their live show is the real deal, and left me eager to hear their forthcoming full-length album. I also had the chance to sit down and talk with Doug Walters and bass player Jonathan Sirlin before the show, our conversation touching on their upcoming tour and album, the Wesleyan music scene, and what RWBW have in common with TI. Here’s what they had to say.


What’s the band up to these days, I noticed you’ve been doing a smattering of Northeast shows?

Doug: Yeah we’ve been doing mostly regional weekend things, even though today’s a Monday, but… we currently have jobs so it’s hard. But we are going to really tour in September.
Jon: We’ve also been spending a lot of time recording recently so we’ve been taking some time off to do that, turning down some shows to stay in and finish up some recordings.

When is the new album going to come out?

Doug: In September …late September
Jon: We kinda wanna finish the record before we have a release date (laughs)
Doug: We basically have just another couple days of mixing.
Jon: All the elements are there, we’re just making it right.
Doug: It should be mastered in two weeks, which is awesome because it’s been a long long time coming. We tracked a lot of it on our own in our apartment, and also with our friend Daniel Lynas at Wonderful Studios. And now we are mixing it with Britt Myers who did the Chairlift record, and has been working with a lot of bands in New York these days.

What has it been like working with Britt as a producer in the studio?

Doug: Well it’s a little weird because so much of it has been recorded without him, so sometimes he got some stuff and was like ‘yeah… I guess I can make this work’ (laughs). But he’s good, he’s definitely had a lot of input, not so much in terms of songwriting but…
Jon: I think we’ve all heard these songs for years now, so it’s just really good to have an outside ear on it to say like ‘well maybe you’re used to this, but THIS is how works, and you should probably go with this…’


How do you guys write your songs as a band?

Doug: I usually put it together on my computer with synths and fake drums. Sometimes I’ll have a guitarist come in and sit with me to work on stuff, and record it again, and then we work it out live and change things… and now we are re-recording everything again, for the final product. We all went to Wesleyan and most of us were music students there, so John wrote some full orchestra pieces for his thesis, so for some songs I was like ‘Hey John, write a string section for the chorus!’ (laughs)
Jon: And these songs do change very organically. They start with a skeleton and we figure out what works live, and maybe we end up changing it completely and go back and do it again. So its kinda half-way between a collaborative process and what comes from Doug.

I read on your Myspace blog that there has been some experimenting with flutes and other instruments?

Jon: We’re pretty fortunate to have a really good network of really excellent classical musicians that we try to exploit now as much as we can
Doug: Sometimes it works out the way we want it to and sometimes its like ‘you know what? This sounds… stupid.’(laughs) But we have some bassoon on there and tuba and French horn, and weird things on there that aren’t synthesizers that make me initially uncomfortable (laughs).

When you’re writing do you usually start with the lyrics, or the music?

Doug: You start with a female… (laughs)
Jon: Heartbroken…
Doug: I haven’t really been writing since we started recording, it’s been about four months now, which is kind of weird psychologically, because it’s really how I make sense of a lot of things. But I do carry a notebook around and write things down… but there’s all sorts of different ways. Sometime you’re sitting at a piano and playing a few chords, and like for “Compass” I started out with just a bass line and basically put the whole thing together before I put the melody over it, which is maybe why John doesn’t like that song
Jon: Hey I love that song! I love all the songs!
Doug: Ha, yeah… but it comes in all different ways. We tracked the title track “Robots and Roses” very different from all the others. It started out very conceptually, like I knew what I wanted the song to be before I knew any words to it. I just new “robots and roses” from this dream, which was pretty different to have a concept before the notes. I feel like it’s important to figure out what you’re doing before you start putting the notes in, so you have an idea of the textures you want to use, because I think in a lot of ways that is what differentiates music. A vocal melody and chords can be done a million different ways, so I sort of set out to try to incorporate Timbaland style synths and some other hip hop percussive style. I was listening to TI on the way here and I love it, the beats on it really remind me of Red Wire Black Wire, maybe other people don’t see that but I do…

guitarlGoing back to touring for a second, what’s the plan for the tour in September? Is it national? International?

Doug: It’s vaguely international. I think we’re hitting two countries, maybe three. We are starting out in DC, and then to Denver where we are playing the Monolith Festival, which is at Red Rocks, which is…
Jon: Daunting!
Doug: Daunting… (laughs) And then heading to California where we are finally going to meet our label, which we haven’t met yet. We met one of the dudes in person, but I haven’t met my guy who I correspond with on a daily basis.
Jon: He might be an evil machine
Doug: He might be a robot
Jon: Which would be fitting… …if he was a robot… (laughs)

keysHa, why would it be fitting?

Doug: Oooh, the album is called Robots and Roses, that’s what John’s talking about. And there is a middle song on it also called “Robots and Roses” which seemingly is going to be maybe a kind of turning point on the album, I dunno, we are figuring out which songs are gonna follow what at this point. And we’re kinda going in a couple different directions in figuring out how to group the music. … oh but the international (tour) thing is that this club might pay for us to go to Russia and play in Moscow! …which is weird.
Jon: And awesome!
Doug: So I think in October we could potentially be going to Moscow for 48 hours.

Do you have a following in Russia?

Jon: We’re going to find out! (laughs)
Doug: We have no idea! My brother, who actually lived in Moscow and different places in Russia over the last six years, had been working as a journalist and quit his job and moved back to America and joined my stupid rock band. So he has that Eastern connection that got us that invitation. Oh yeah we might go to Canada too… maybe
Jon: So its really more like two and a half countries (laughs)

Ouch that’s harsh.

I saw a video interview in which you said that one thing you would like to see is less irony and more sincerity in pop music today. I thought that was an interesting statement, and wondered if you could tell me more of your thoughts on this, and what sincerity in music means to you?

Doug: Well I don’t know how sincerely I really meant that…
Jon: He was being ironic!
Doug: No but really what I meant by that was that I feel like there is a lot of irony and layers of intent that aren’t very clear behind a lot of music, especially in the scene in Brooklyn, and I think we are… well lyrically maybe more sincere. Most of the songs are about stuff that actually happened, and I try to make them pretty direct from my life… so that’s really what I meant. And I get the feeling that irony can be a crutch a lot of time. It’s useful in that way, because it can help you avoid saying something stupid, because you didn’t mean any of [what you said] anyway, you know? But I think ideally I enjoy music that is… well I’ve been listening to a lot of a band called the National lately, and that is music that sounds very sincere to me.

Are there other bands that you’re into right now?

Doug: Well I’ve been obsessed with the National. And as I said we went to Wesleyan and MGMT came from there and I think they’re just awesome. It’s really strange because my freshman year they were just a college band and they would play their old version of “Kids,” and now I walk into a supermarket and its playing!
Jon: It’s pretty nuts!

2008 was a huge year for Wesleyan alumni that saw the rise of Santigold and MGMT to name a couple. Now you guys are getting some attention. Is there something special about Wesleyan and its music program?

Doug: Oh I could name you a bunch more bands! But I think, at least for the music program, it is very experimental, which can help overlap with pop music in a certain way… but I think it’s largely about the student body…
Jon: I think it’s really the student population. Every weekend there was always a show to go see, it was a big part of the scene. It would be like… ‘well there’s parties here and parties there but oh look there’s 4 huge shows!’ And people would drink a lot and go out to drink and have a good time at the shows… so it’s really easy to start a band, and have people come out and see you.
Doug: There were just so many good musicians all over the place.
Jon: And also going back to the music program, there were a lot of encouraging teachers who were encouraging to try things with the computer, and everyone had a laptop, and everyone could sit down and make a whole song. So when you have all these people doing this, not just for class but for fun, something’s going to come out of it, especially when you have people around to help you.
Doug: I think when bands started to do well coming out of Wesleyan people were kind of like ‘well shit, lets take this seriously!’ And once there were a couple bands that did well people really did take it more seriously and the scene kinda snowballed. So I think that could have a lot to do with it. There are other Wesleyan bands like Amazing Baby and Mobius Band that have been doing really well.

Speaking of laptop music, I heard you did a remix for Dntel?

Doug: Well I made one a while back for a competition… which I lost (laughs)… or at least didn’t win sadly… but its out there on Sound Machine!
Jon: Well I like it a lot!

Well it did certainly make it out to some blogs at least. And now there are some remixes of your songs that will be coming out?

Doug: Yeah! Shuttle, which it one of the dudes from Passion Pit’s side project, which is awesome in its own right, is doing a remix of “Compass.” And a dude named Dave Wrangler is doing a remix of “Locked Out.” I’ve not heard either yet but I’m pretty excited.

Have you heard remixes of your songs before?

Doug: Nope. This is going to be the first actually.

Does it make you nervous at all?

Doug: Nooo… well ha yeah always. But they both do cool stuff, and I feel like it doesn’t really reflect on us that much.
Jon: One thing that’s been interested about this band beginning to actually take off a little bit is that it’s cool to have other people’s support, effort, time and concern over something that I’ve been megalomaniacally slaving away at for so long. And now there are other people putting in effort in their own right and capacity for their own satisfaction, related to our project, which is really exciting.

vox4When you are writing your own music what computer programs do you use?

Doug: I started writing music on the computer for television, when I was in high school I interned at a studio, and ended up working there for a year writing music for National Geographic documentaries. So I learned on Digital Performer there, and I still use it… but I think its time that I change. Its been really frustrating because in the studio we’ve been tracking all the stuff in Logic, and then we have to export all the stuff into separate files so I can get it into my own interface, and then we are now mixing in Pro Tools… which is NOT how I’m going to do the next album, because its been such a pain in the ass moving these files around. I feel like so much of the time I wasn’t really doing anything except for transferring these files for hours and hours and hours.

How would you do it next time?

Doug: In a beach house! With a blender, making margaritas! And all in one place, not having a job, and having more money, and doing it all on one computer! To a certain extent I think it was functional the way we did it, with our budget, and it made us do things that wouldn’t be obvious necessarily, because if we were doing it a different way maybe it would have come out differently, so it aided in the creative process a bit. But it was just so much frustration and time spent that when we first started mixing I was so emotionally exhausted that I felt like I wasn’t even really able to think about what we were doing… though I’ve gotten my head into a better place now. Doing it over a shorter period of time in one place would have been just so… awesome. And on the beach!

Anything else you want people to know about Red Wire Black Wire?

Doug: Well the Compass EP is out now, and you can get it on iTunes or from our website. And we’ll be on tour in September and the new record should be out then, and I think it’s going to be good! I’m feeling really good about it now.

Red Wire Black Wire
The Franklin Kite


Thanks to Pete Legasey for the photos!


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Interview with TAB the Band!

by Kevin on Jun.26, 2009, under Interviews

Tony (guitar), Adrian (bass/vocals), Lou (guitar) and Ben (drums) of Massachusetts’ TAB the Band are a young group that plays the type of catchy riff n’ roll that ruled the late 60’s and 70’s, and the guys have had a ton of success doing it, playing venues all over the world with the likes of Stone Temple Pilots and Modest Mouse. I caught up with the band through e-mail after their recent Great Scott set, where we discussed everything from exploding guitar amps, the Village People, and why you should listen to more classical music while stoned. Enjoy!

How’s the new album coming along, and is there a tentative release date/title set?

We’ve been recording off and on for the past year. We had two LPs in 2008 so we decided to take a little more time with the next set of releases. At this point we are thinking of releasing a few singles starting in the fall, leading up to the release of an LP in early 2010. The first single (we think) will be a song called “She Said No (I Love You)”. The LP will be called Zoo Noises. We should be done tracking by the end of June and then we’ll start to get everything mixed and mastered.

What can your fans expect on this record this time around. How are you changing things up musically/lyrically etc.?

People can expect the new LP to expand the spectrum of what we’ve been doing. There will be more flavors of T.Rex and Cheap Trick, even some stuff that recalls the roots feel of The Band, and also more of the pop elements of the mod bands of the 60s. Ultimately our band is about songs. Not exactly a mind blowing revelation, but the point is that the song comes first and how you dress it up doesn’t matter. On the upcoming LP we’re going to try to dress things up a little differently than we have on the first two records. We’re basically playing “dolls” with the songs. I’m pretty sure the Beatles were into Barbie too, no?

You guys used to be a power trio. When did Lou come into the fold and what does he bring to the band that you guys might’ve been lacking before?

Lou has been in the group since Summer of 2008 and brings the screwed down hair-do we so desperately needed. As the music became more ambitious with more vocal harmonies and dual-guitar parts, it became necessary to add someone (Lou also plays additional percussion on songs, and also keyboards). Last spring we found out that we were going to open for STP and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, so that really spurred us to want to step up the live show sonically. It made sense to add someone before that tour so we could put our best foot forward in doing the songs justice live. And when it came to who we would add, it was pretty much down to Lou, or Lou. He’s been a friend for years, is extremely talented, and filled all of the holes we had in the band. Like water on pavement. Fills all the cracks.

Describe your band dynamic–who’s the smelly one, the partier, the laid-back one, the nerd. Boyband style.

Methinks an appropriate comparison would be the Village People. Adrian would be the cowboy (penchant for hats, whips). Tony would be the police officer (because of the motorcycle). Ben would be the construction worker (has painted houses in the past; sometimes shirtless). Lou would be the leather daddy guy (he’s into leather).

Based on your roots and your sound, there’s no question you guys love all things rock. Do you have any influences that might be a bit surprising considering your overall sound?

Adrian: There are a lot of things in the pot, so to speak. I grew up playing a lot of jazz because of my grandfather. I also listen to a ton of old R&B and funk, ranging from Sly and the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder and other Motown acts, to Parliament and Funkadelic. I also unashamedly enjoy a good disco tune, particularly the works of KC and the Sunshine band.

Tony: I really love everything from the 80s. Mostly hair metal and rap. You really can’t beat throwing on some Ratt or White Snake tunes once in a while.

Ben: Like Adrian, I have had a very eclectic upbringing musically. My father being a music teacher, he got me into lots of big band jazz, lots of classical, funk, and even Celtic music believe it or not. Back in the day I was way into punk like Toxic Narcotic and Anti Flag.

Lou: I love a lot of doo wop. My mother has a three part vocal group called the Belletones that play a lot of hits from the 40′s and 50′s so I learned to play music while listening to her group practice.

Any particular song of yours you love playing live, and why? And is there
a song you might not look forward to performing?

Adrian: For me, this changes periodically. I’ll be into songs, then go off them. One song I consistently enjoy playing is “Where She Was on Monday.” It’s just an easy going song, a camp-fire song. It still rocks pretty good but it has an easy going flow that is a nice moment in the set for me. I can just sort of relax and sing the tune. “CYT” also has this quality. As far as songs that I (or others) don’t look forward to, we tend to eliminate them from the set. There are a couple of new songs still working their way into the set that are still an adventure at this point, but you have to play them to get them to that comfort level where they don’t feel like obstacles.

Tony: I must say that I love playing anything new that we write. I also really enjoy playing covers – they are fun to throw in once in a while. “My Baby is Fine,” off Long Weekend, is my favorite song we play currently.

Lou: I enjoy playing “Where She Was on Monday” and “Secretary’s Day.”

Ben: I always love getting to “Lookin’ Pretty, Pretty” in the set. The song just has such an aggressive groove and riff during the verse that isn’t really anywhere else in our set. And the “chorus” which is just a barreling riff without vocals comes up and I get to see everyone in the band with their heads down, banging to the beat. It reminds me of the old grunge scene and I feel like Dave Grohl.

Photo by Caroline Bridges

Photo by Caroline Bridges

On that note, favorite pre-show/during show/after show beverage of choice?

Adrian: I tend to enjoy whisky related drinks, Miller High Life, Campari or sweet wine like Port or Madeira, but really whatever is available and cheap is good by me.

Tony: PBR and Red Bull.

Ben: My drink of choice pre-show is a few J and C’s, no beer pre show for me, It would slow me down way too much and all the songs would be half tempo… Post show? let the champagne of beers flow!!!

Lou: Jack and Coke with lime seems to always do the trick.

Worst/most embarassing onstage moment?

Adrian: I recently had an amp blow up literally 30 seconds into the first song of a show. It was annoying for it to happen right at the beginning because the first moments of a show are so important. Then again, because it happened so early, by the time the set was over no one even remembered it happening. I’m glad I brought a spare that night.

Tony: I realized my fly had gone down at the end of the set…that was pretty shitty. Luckily I play guitar and it was covered most of the time.

Lou: While opening for Modest Mouse I was tuning my guitar before playing our last song on the set list, “Heavy Idea,” which is supposed to be our thundering closer, but I forgot to switch off my tuning pedal, so for the first 15 seconds there was nothing coming out of my amp.

Ben: I remember playing one show in Florida somewhere, not much of a crowd…but there was one very enthusiastic 40 year-old lady that had quite the thing for me. In between every song I got “I want to have your babies.” But let’s put it this way, she was no cougar…

Favorite onstage moment?

Adrian: We’ve been lucky enough to have some pretty cool moments. When we were out with STP and BRMC, I remember looking over during our set in Atlanta and seeing the guys from STP and BRMC watching us, and actually liking it. It was a pretty surreal moment.

Lou: I agree with Adrian’s answer. Also there was the time Adrian and I were supposed to harmonize a verse and we both came in singing different lyrics. While this was happening we both continued singing while staring at each other trying to figure out which one of us was wrong. Then I just started laughing. It wasn’t professional in any sense, but it was pretty funny.

Tony: I must say the same as Adrian and Lou. Also we once played a show at Andrew WK’s venue in NYC and it was pretty cool because he was there rocking out.

Ben: When we were in London two summers ago we were playing the Hyde Park Calling Festival Second Stage. We walked out on stage to get set up and as I started the line check for my drums I noticed the 4,000 people in the audience were filing out leaving only about 300 people and I thought to myself, “4,000 is nerve racking but 300 is easy.” I just assumed it was because no one from England had heard of us. I was looking down for most of the rest of the set up while I warmed up a little bit and we got the green light to start so I started off “Secretary’s Day,” looked up and everyone was back. All 4,000, but with beers in hand. Since we had already started I figured no need to fret now about the crowd and the show went really well and we got a great response.

Photo by Caroline Bridges

Photo by Caroline Bridges

What do you do when you’re not playing music, do you guys have part-time/full-time jobs?

Adrian: I’m a lawyer in NYC. It’s a lot of work doing both right now, but the legal knowledge does come in handy in the music biz.

Tony: I work at Apple. It is really awesome. They are a great company to work for.

Lou: I work for a Media company: Rock Media. I’m the main video editor, and motion graphic designer.

Ben: Currently I am looking for a job and teaching drum lessons. Drum lessons are going well, but the whole finding a job thing? In this economy for a recent music school graduate is kinda tough.

You’ve toured with some pretty big name acts, any artist or group stand out in particular and who would you love to tour with in the future?

Doing the tour with STP and BRMC was awesome. Great guys, great bands. Spending time out on the road with those guys was such a blast because there was a lot in common musically between all three bands, but each has its own take on rock, so for us it was a great learning experience, besides being an absurdly good time. Modest Mouse was another huge highlight. Isaac is an amazing performer and personality, and he and the whole band/crew were really nice. We got a great response from their fans, which was icing on the cake. When we found out Isaac was a big of fan of ours and wanted us on the
bill, it was a huge compliment. In the future we’d tour with any of those three bands again in a heartbeat, but there are others we’re gunning for as well, none moreso than Jack White. We’d tour with any band Jack White has. If he put together a puppet show for kids that was set to traditional carnival music, we’d open the show. We’re all big fans of his various projects. Another band we love is Oasis. Big time rock. Big time personalities. Big time songs. They don’t make bands like that anymore, so it’d be great to cross paths with them some time. We’re big fans of Queens of the Stone Age too. MGMT is cool as well; that’d make for an interesting show.

What are you guys currently listening a lot to at the moment?

Adrian: The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Brian Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain by
Strategy. The Very Best of Badfinger. Pusswhip Bangang. Also Casey and his

Tony: AC/DC, Black Angels, The Cool Kids, Pop Levi, Ratt, The Raconteurs, T. Rex, The Tim Heidecker Masterpiece, The Dead Weather, The Who, and The White Stripes.

Lou: Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Mando Diao.

Ben: Beck – Midnight Vultures, The Cool Kids – Bake Sale, The Mars Volta – Frances the Mute, Outkast – Southernplayalisticadilacmusik, The Yardbirds – Five Live Yardbirds, The Who – Live at Leeds and… Beethoven’s 3rd and 5th symphonies to make it a well rounded collection. Seriously more people need to just get baked and listen to some classical, open your ears for an hour and listen to the whole thing, I say get baked because people won’t have the attention span without a little pot.

Photo by Caroline Bridges

Photo by Caroline Bridges

Tony and Adrian, if you had to choose one single piece of your dad’s [Joe Perry of Aerosmith] music, maybe a song or a solo as your favorite, what would it be? On the contrary, is there anything from his back catalogue that you guys might’ve given him some old fashioned father-son teasing about?

Adrian: Lots of great stuff obviously, but my fave is “Draw the Line.” On one hand, it’s a killer guitar hook, catchy as hell, but on the other hand it’s completely reckless and dirty. If I had to pick one song/riff, I’d pick that one. As far as back-catalogue teasing, there may be some tracks from the late 80s/90s that are a bit too produced/poppy for my taste, but he would tend to agree I think.

Tony: I really like a song called “Combination.” It rocks pretty hard and has some awesome riffige (real word?) in it.

Are you guys planning on touring in support of this upcoming album/any future plans people should be aware about?

As far as future plans, we’re going to be spending the summer finishing up the recording of the singles and LP and getting things lined up for those releases. We’ll likely shoot an ‘official’ video for the first single and we may actually do some other short films along the lines of the mtvU Dean’s List we hosted. We’re going to try and open the doors a little more so that people can get to know the band better. We’ll be doing one-off shows during
the summer but won’t plan a real run of shows until the fall when the first single comes out, and then we’ll try and do more extensive touring when the LP comes out. It should be a busy year for us.

Anything else you guys want to say or plug?

Just keeping checking or for updates. You can also follow us on Twitter (tabtheband). We’re all about the internet superhighway.

Thanks again guys!

TAB the Band



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Interview with Girl in a Coma!

by Noah on Jun.25, 2009, under Interviews, Live Shows, Reviews


Sunday night at Harpers Ferry, the midsized Northeastern rock club was overrun with wild bands from the West. Texans Girl in a Coma came to conquer Boston with supporting act from California, Miss Derringer– an early stop on their grueling US tour. I was lucky enough to be treated to a giggly interview with the ladies of GIAC, before the saloon-worthy rock commenced.

First to the performances…

img_0056Beginning the night, the lovely Liz Mcgrath, surrounded by her Los Angeles band of outlaws that make up Miss Derringer, took the stage decked out in gothic-western get-up. The men in button downs, arm bands and bandannas (and guyliner), looking stoic (maybe stiff?) while Mcgrath got cutesy shaking her hips in her black leotard and tiny cowboy hat.

Giving a performance that perhaps would have been best delivered in the vampire bar from Dusk Till Dawn, Miss Derringer’s guitars twanged and shimmered while imaginary tumbleweeds should have been blowing through the club. McGrath meanwhile pantomimed her dark and often heartbroken lyrics, looking like a lusty Betty Boop-inspired wind-up doll. As she sang out “You better run away from me… cause i’ll do you wrong/more than you ever dreamed of” despite her tiny stature and wide fawn-eyes, she managed to sound convincingly dangerous.


Around 11, Girl in a Coma took the stage, a trio made up of sisters Nina and Phanie Diaz– guitar/vocals and drums respectively, with Jenn Alva pounding out rhythm on the bass. GIAC from the get-go brought less gimmick and more rock to stage, blasting out their own brand of 90s inspired western/alt/punk to a small but appreciative crowd.

img_0177Front-woman Nina Diaz, who joined the band when she was only 12, now in her 20s, has truly grown into a competent rock star. Looking genuinely cool as hell, she staggered around stage with her guitar hung low, and with eyes bulging out of her head, unloaded her pipes with palpable force into the mic. Watching GIAC perform, they appeared to play every song as hard as they could without ever reaching that breaking point of over-extension, a band truly working for their fans.

Playing out a healthy dose of their new album Trio BC, GIAC mixed in some older tunes, interspersed with jokey on-stage banter with one another and their fans (truly their own wisecracking and “fun” style, as I learned from speaking with them earlier in the night!). Capping the set with a much-requested encore, GIAC plowed through a fast and heavy punk rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep.”

Speaking with Girl in a Coma earlier in the evening, I found the ladies to be incredibly likable– what can I say, I’m a sucker for girls who can dole out some shit, and they were pretty charming picking on each other (and myself). In between cheap shots (not all of it could make it into the transcription sadly) we talked about GIAC’s latest album Trio BC, working with Joan Jett, tattoos, collaborations and how many time you can work the word FUN into an interview! (I lost count after about 12)

Welcome to Boston, how is the tour going so far?

Jenn: Its fun! It’s a lot of fun!
Phanie: Its been one of the funnest, that’s for sure, really it’s a ride.

Great, you guys getting along with Miss Derringer?

Jenn: Oh yeah! Definitely.

Whats it like to be headlining on tour now?

Jenn: I don’t know, we’ve done it in the past with Bon Iver, and we’ve been on our own little tours I guess.
Phanie: I dunno, it doesn’t really feel like anything, just like we just teamed up with friends.
Nina: Its always cool when there’s people that stay!
Jenn: True!

Been getting good crowds so far?

Jenn: Yeah so far so good, can’t complain.
Phanie: It’s been fun, so…
Nina: Definitely
Jenn: It’s fun!

The new album Trio BC seems to be getting a great response from critics and fans, are you happy with how the album has been received?

Phanie: Yeah definitely.
Jenn: The reviews have been fun!
Nina: Everything’s been fun!
Jenn: It’s just been a fun confetti good time! (laughs) No but seriously the label’s happy, we’re happy…



So how did you guys get hooked up with Joan Jett (who owns Blackheart Records)?

Phanie: Fun!
Jenn: It was Fun!
Nina: In a really fun way!
(more laughs)

Nina: We did the pilot episode of this show called “Jammin” and the climax of the show was for us to meet somebody to basically just give us words of encouragement, and it was Joan who surprised us at the end. We were all in New York, and she ended up hearing us practice, and she came later that night to hear us play at the Knitting Factory, and after we played she talked to us and said, “would you like to be signed onto our label?” That wasn’t part of the show, that was just her talking to us! So after that we recorded Both Before I’m Gone, and now we’re on the second album.

That must have been exciting!

Nina: It was really fairy tale fun!
Phanie: Fairy tale fun!

Joan Jett actually sings backup for a song on Trio BC called “Joannie in the City.” Were you actually all in the studio together when you recorded that song?

Nina: Well we did it in pieces, the whole album was done first in Tornillo Texas, at Sonic Ranch with Gabe Gonzales, and then we went to Los Angeles and recorded some songs with Greg Collins, and from there I went to Oregon by myself, so [for “Joannie in the City”] it was just me and Kenny Laguna and Joan.

What is it like to work with Joan Jett?

Nina: She’s very blunt, and she doesn’t want to change a thing, and she just wants to be as real as possible, which is awesome. And she wants to help in any way possible. Its like anything you need she’ll do it. She’s like ‘I’m totally here for you.’ So I was like ‘you wanna sing on the album? And she says ‘sure!’

GIAC has been a band long before you were signed to Blackheart Records, did you set out to be rock stars? Did you think you would reach this level?

Jenn: We just wanted it to be our job. I don’t think we thought about like super-fame or anything like that, we just wanted to have a small, dedicated fan-base who would follow us. That’s pretty much all we were asking.
Phanie: Yeah that and diamonds!
Nina: And a bunch of teenage girls screaming and pissing themselves like those pretty rich girls do!
Jenn: And a jukebox full of songs!
Phanie: Yeah that’s all we want.
Nina: Yeah, girls to pee themselves!
Jenn: Yeah, girls 19 and over!

Hmm, what could that mean?

Nina: Aw you took my innocent little quote and turned it into… something else.
Jenn: You wouldn’t understand. Next question!

Haha, ok moving on…


Music blogging is an interesting phenomenon that in the last few years especially has really impacted the music scene. Though it can be kind of like the ‘cult of the amateur,’ with anyone with a website getting a voice, often without professional editors or oversight (including myself). Do you guys see this as a good thing? Has it been detrimental at all?

Jenn: Well its just like these underground bands can make it these days without being signed, just by buzz on the internet.
Phanie: I think it’s the same thing with these writers though, a lot of it is word of mouth, if people wanna listen to you and hear what you have to say, its just like a recommendation.
Jenn: I think its good to have people writing blogs, and if they sound like they don’t know what they’re saying, then it just makes them kinda look bad.

Well hopefully I’ll sound like I know what I’m talking about.

Jenn: Well we’ll see Nick… oh wait, your name is Noah
Nina: Yeah, we’ll see Sebastian

Excuse me? What band are you again?

Nina: Touché

So do you guys follow what people write about you?

Nina: She does! (pointing to Phanie)
Jenn: I try not to pay attention, but if there’s something good [Phanie] will read it to us.
Phanie: Oh I know allll the bad stuff. But I don’t really care.

You don’t take it to heart?

Phanie: I don’t actually, I mean I read it, but I just like to keep up with what is said, whether good or bad, people are always gonna have their opinions. Not everyone is gonna be into your music and you know that going in.
Nina: She cries herself to sleep every night!
Phanie: We take it and move on.
Jenn: Sometimes a bad review can be great, like maybe you put on a weird show and someone says ‘well the harmony was totally off key’ and then you realize ‘man I need to get my shit together, maybe I wont drink tonight’

On a similar note, on all these websites there are a ton of comparisons and labels being thrown around — You’ll be called a “chick group”, and then have your musical style compared to this or that band. Do you ever feel like you need to set the record straight? Do these labels bother you?

Nina: We don’t waste too much energy into trying to put into someone’s mind that ‘this is what we are,’ or try to fix an opinion about us. We just do what we do.
Phanie: We’ve been called the weirdest things! Like ‘goth’ and ‘cow-poke’ …which is fine.
Jenn: Sometimes we say we’re alternative, sometime we say rock n roll, but we really try to stay away from it just because there are so many genres. I think there’s new genres every day!

Earlier in the year you got a big endorsement from Meghan McCain of all people. Did this surprise you at all?

Phanie: Well do a little more research about her, she’s kinda cool!
Jenn: We don’t care that she’s republican
Phanie: She’ a weird republican
Phanie: We didn’t know about it until someone sent us a link to us on myspace to her blog, and I read the whole thing and then she sent us an email as well, so we wrote her back. She was just super cool, and told us ‘whatever you need I’m here.’ She’s just a normal chick, very chill.
Jenn: Whatever kind of support we can get, that’s great.
Nina: I concur


I also heard the story about Dave Navarro getting Nina’s face tattooed on his arm? How’d you react to that?

Nina: I dunno, are you supposed to be scared or something? Because I was terrified (laughs). He said he was gonna get it, and I said ‘no you’re not! I dare you! You’re not gonna get it.’ And he said ‘Yeah I am! The appointments tomorrow.’ And then I saw him later on in Los Angeles, and I saw it, and it was like ‘oh my God he got it!’ It was weird he was getting coffee or something and I saw it on his arm and it was so weird, I was looking at myself on his arm.

Did it look like you?

Nina: Yeah!
Jenn: Its close, it looks like a pretty girl, but oh no, its you (laughs)
Nina: Like someone who’s actually attractive… shut up. (laughs) But yeah, it’s a cool tattoo, and I’m flattered.

If you were going to get a rock star tattooed on you, who would you get?

Nina: Jeff Buckley!
Jenn: Well I have Morrissey on my back.
Phanie: Well I probably would have done Morrissey but the closest I got was doing the Viva Hate album.
Jenn: Well who would you get now?
Nina: Melissa Ethridge!
Phanie: Haha oh my God!
Nina: No but seriously who’d you get? I’m intrigued
Phanie: Oh probably Patsy Cline

Tell me about the project you are working on with Margaret Cho.

Nina: Well, she’s doing a comedy album that’s supposed to come out in 2010
Jenn: Its called “I Am Retarded” (laughs)
Nina: Ha real original. But the song we’re doing is called “Baby You’re a Racist” and I got together with her when I was in Los Angeles. Its like a simple kinda punk power-chord song, and I like it! It was just spur of the moment. I’ve always wanted to collaborate on some stuff, and I met with her and it was like ‘what if she doesn’t like it?’ but she said ‘I love it!’ And we started playing and now I need to send everyone their parts! They still need to be written. It’s really simple it should be a lot of fun
Jenn: It’s a fun song (laughs) You know on this last album, we worked with Greg Collins, who was one of the producers, and he kinda opened our mind a little bit when it comes to writing, and we haven’t wrote anything since then, so that’s probably the next thing that we’ll work on. So we’ll have time to come up with a cool bassline and drums.
Nina: Its so simple! Once you guys hear it you don’t even have to worry about it, you just go ‘do do do do do!’


So is Margaret going to sing on it with you?

Nina: she’s gonna sing, we’re gonna play, and I might do a little backup. But really it’s all Margaret. …Its funny, its about how this guy doesn’t like her anymore because she’s Asian and she’s good at math (laughs).

Since you mentioned working with Greg Collins on the last album, what was that like? What role have producers played on your albums?

Jenn: Well with the first one it was Gabe Gonzales and Eric Tucker, and they’re our buddies, so it was really easy to work with them and we already knew what we wanted to do because we’d been playing those songs for years. This time around we wanted Gabe Gonzales back because we were really comfortable with him, so we laid down the foundation of the album. And then with Greg Collins, you know it was interesting, as I said [earlier] he opened up our minds, but at first it was like ‘oh my God I don’t want him touching my basslines.’
Nina: We were all a little scared of him at first. Cuz Gabe was just so nice, and really easy going and a fan of ours too. And then Greg was like ‘Let me try THIS’
Phanie: He would take your weakness and really go after it
Nina: Like usually with Gabe I would sing something, and then be like ‘ok we can just copy and paste that now right?’ but with Greg it was more like ‘Ok you have to do this again, try this part and then retry that part’ it was really a challenge.
Jenn: But you know the songs he worked with me on are ones I wrote really fast anyways, so if anything those were the ones I needed help the most on. He took what I wrote and added to it, and really talked to me about ringing out, and pauses and accents and stuff like that. For a second I was like ‘oh this is crazy, you’re really driving me mad’ and like ‘how am I gonna play this live? You really changed my song.’ And I think it was because he recorded everything in different sections at different times, going back to the middle and then back to the beginning. But when I finally listened to it all it was like ‘oh, ok, it wasn’t that bad at all!’ It was just really cool that someone did that.

Would you say it was a good experience?

Jenn: Definitely! We are probably going to do something with him again.

What does the future look like for GIAC?

Phanie: Touring
Jenn: (in unison) Touring
Nina: Promoting the new album and working hard!
Jenn: Recording new albums, we want to get as many albums as possible under our belt. And I’m sure Nina will be doing more collaborations. Just trying to do different things as a group.
Phanie: We’re gonna do the whole KISS thing where each of us makes our own album. That and wear makeup!
Nina: Aren’t we wearing makeup already? (laughs)

Are you signed on for more albums on Blackheart?

Nina: One more album! And then who knows, we’ll see what happens
Jenn: They’ve been really good to us! Like family!

Anything else you wanna tell everybody?

Jenn: Just to go get our album, its pretty good I think. And go to your local record shop and purchase it there! And if they don’t have it, have them order it so we can support these record shops because they’re closing. And come out and see us play!

Sounds good, thanks for talking with me!

Thanks to Caroline Bridges for the photos! see more of her work here

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