Browsing all 20 posts in Band Interviews.

BAND INTERVIEW: Joey Siara (The Henry Clay People)

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BAND INTERVIEW: Joey Siara (The Henry Clay People)

I’ve known Joey Siara, The Henry Clay People’s curly haired singer/guitarist, for a few years now. I can’t remember exactly when we met. I know I was already a music blogger and I hadn’t seen his band yet. Ashley Jex introduced us at Pehrspace. Joey was wearing a Chicago Cubs hat.

Continue reading…



FIVE QUESTIONS: Warren Sroka (Wires in the Walls)

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(You can catch Wires in the Walls at The Bootleg Theatre this Saturday, April 10th. They’ll be celebrating the release of their Call Signs EP, which I quite fancy. Olin in the Moon also plays. $8.)

Warren Sroka
singer, guitarist
Wires in the Walls


1. Background:

I play rhythm guitar and sing in the indie rock/alt-country outfit Wires in the Walls, based in Los Feliz. I started the band with our bass player Nick after having played a number of these songs solo-acoustic. I really wanted to be part of a collaborative unit and see the material grow. I was lucky enough to find super talented, like-minded musicians who are passionate about the music and who’ve brought some really creative ideas to the arrangements. I’ve been thrilled with how the band’s sound has evolved as we’ve moved away from just putting parts behind my old solo songs to writing material specifically for the instruments we now have.

2. Name one album you feel is critically under-rated and one album that is critically over-rated. Defend your case.

Underrated: Okkervil River, Black Sheep Boy

These guys have recently gotten a lot of attention for their last two records, The Stand-Ins and The Stage Names, but back in 2005 they released what I think is their best album to date. It’s not so much a collection of songs as it is a world you get to visit. Pour yourself a glass of whiskey, turn the lights down and get swept away. “You know I never claimed I was a stone. “

Overrated: The Strokes, This Is It [Ya killin’ me, Warren! ~Mouse]

Nothing against this album, I actually really love it, but Rolling Stone named it the second best album of the 2000s, ahead of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Arcade Fire’s Funeral, The White Stripes, and Jay-Z. Really? Those are all pretty seminal artists whose albums fundamentally changed the musical landscape, and I’m not sure I’d put The Strokes in that category. Still a great album though…

3. What about today’s music climate dissatisfies you? What do you long for in the music past or hope for in the future of music? Think about the big picture.

I’m a big fan of today’s overall music climate. I remember reading about the possible death of rock ‘n roll ten years ago, as labels seemed less and less likely to go out on a limb and promote something new and different. But now artists have the ability to cut out the middle-man and reach fans directly, which has changed everything and led to the current, more niche-based climate. In turn, labels are starting to see the benefits of appealing to specific tastes instead of pushing generic, one-size-fits-all bands.

Unfortunately, with the convenience of the MP3 player we seem to be losing the pleasure and appreciation that’s derived from consuming a record start to finish. I’ll often be looking at someone’s iPod and discover they only have one or two songs from a particular album that they claim to love. The best records take you on a journey – you would never buy one scene from a movie you loved. Sometimes context is king.

4. Is it important for culture-at-large to always have new bands and new songs? Why or why not?

Absolutely it is important to the culture at large! Art is culture and hopefully the music being made is a reflection of now. Someone smarter than me once said artists are documentarians of the human heart, which is always evolving. Besides, how boring would it be if we were all still listening to music made by banging sticks and rocks together?

5. Who wins in a fight between a gorilla and a walrus? Assume they are both healthy, adult specimens. The fight takes place on the beach with no trees (advantage: walrus) but there is one natural bludgeoning weapon, a piece of driftwood (advantage: gorilla). Defend your case.

This is a tough one. While the gorilla would definitely enjoy a speed advantage and the ability to use the driftwood, I still feel that the walrus’s size advantage would prove too difficult to overcome. As everyone knows, adult male gorillas range in height from 5′ 5″ to 5′ 9″ and in weight from 310 to 440 lbs, whereas male Pacific Walruses weigh 1,800 to 4,000 lbs. and are 9 to 12 feet long.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “What about the Atlantic Walrus, don’t they tend to be smaller?” Yes of course they do, but only slightly. They weigh about 2,000 lbs. and reach lengths of 9.5 feet. Ultimately I think a weight differential of up to 3,500 lbs. makes this a mismatch if there ever was one. However if I can hedge my bets, you can’t measure the size of one’s spirit, and those gorillas are a feisty bunch.



FIVE QUESTIONS: Nicholas Ceglio (George Glass)

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Nicholas Ceglio
singer, guitarist
George Glass

1. Background:

The main band I’m in currently is a fairly new one. I man the guitar and primary singing duties for George Glass. We are a three piece: guitar, bass, drums. We are about 4 months old. We’ve played about 5 live shows.

This project came about during the prolonged hiatus of Death To Anders. Back in June of ’09, D2A started having lineup issues when the drummer (John Broeckel) exited the band to pursue other ventures and then our singer, Rob Danson, needed some time off for personal reasons. I decided to keep things moving by recruiting D2A bassist Peter DiBiasio, and drummer/Navy Seal Nathan Kondor into a new project. By November of ’09, George Glass was born.

We’re really excited about getting back into the thick of things over on the East Side. We have a good deal of material ready to record, and hopefully we’ll be in the studio by May of this year.

2. Name one album you feel is critically under-rated and one album that is critically over-rated. Defend your case.

Underrated is tough. No matter how an album is received, if it has found its way into the greater collective consciousness, its already achieved what many albums never do. For that reason, I’ll choose an album that has yet to be championed by the musical elite. And one of the albums that stands out to me would be Rademacher’s Stunts. [YES ~Mouse]

It really blows my mind that this band is still flying somewhat under the national (and international) radar. Stunts is such a solid album from start to finish. Malcolm Sosa is probably one of the most complete songwriters around with regard to lyrics and song structure. The production on the album is very thoughtful. And even though Malcolm claims that Erin Espinoza (producer) is solely responsible for the albums sonic landscapes, I tend to believe he’s being somewhat modest. My proof is both in the bands earlier and later work. Stunts is extremely dynamic. It has enough variation to please every listener’s palette, and the running time is just long enough to leave you satisfied but just short enough to make you contemplate a second listen in the same sitting.

The Beach Boy’s Pet Sounds is overrated. Listen to it. OK, it’s good. But Brian Wilson is referred to as a genius WAY too often. If the prerequisite for the moniker of genius is the ability to write a catchy jingle on a theremin while pooping in your pants amongst farm animals, I might have to start soiling the pantaloons during my next songwriting sesh.

Also, factor-in that it’s not even really the Beach Boys playing on the album (save vocals). It’s all Wrecking Crew studio musicians, who are great – but wouldn’t you dismiss other bands for the same practice of bringing in “ringers”? Yeah you would. People get very aggro in defense of Brian Wilson, which is very amusing to me.

3. What about today’s music climate dissatisfies you? What do you long for in the music past or hope for in the future of music? Think about the big picture.

The general listeners’ desire to be musically challenged has died…..if it ever existed at all.

4. Is it important for culture-at-large to always have new bands and new songs? Why or why not?

Important is a subjective word here. One could argue that the past has produced enough music for a hundred lifetimes. But then I think that statement would be overlooking the need that exists in every new artistic creator.

If there is any importance at all to new bands and songs, it starts with the people creating them. After that, who knows. Sometimes said piece of work is meant to be embraced by ten people or ten million people. There doesn’t really seem to be a formula for cultural importance, on a mass scale. Americans need entertainment because they have to work so much in order to afford all these Wars and Prescriptions and Gizmos. So speaking for all American musicians starting up new & entertaining rock bands, we should be regarded as nothing less than patriotic.

5. Who wins in a fight between a gorilla and a walrus? Assume they are both healthy, adult specimens. The fight takes place on the beach with no trees (advantage: walrus) but there is one natural bludgeoning weapon, a piece of driftwood (advantage: gorilla). Defend your case.

Walrus eventually wins. The important piece of information here is that they’re on a beach. We can assume then that the walrus is fighting to defend something important. I know the gorilla is bigger & smarter & more agile & carries a big stick, but the walrus is (arguably) defending food or friends or family. Depending on how much you’ve read about foreign wars this country has engaged in, you might concede that superior firepower is not always capable of besting a stalwart force defending it’s home territory. And we do live in a nation who’s foreign policy has inspired comparisons to an 800lb. gorilla. What happens when we bring our big stick to someone else’s home-game? They eventually hand us our asses on a plate.

I say Walrus, eventually but definitely.



FIVE QUESTIONS: Seamus Simpson (Smokers In Love)

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Seamus Simpson
singer, guitarist
Smokers in Love

1. Background:

I was formerly the second guitar player and a founding member of Radars to the Sky. After parting amicably with the band in the beginning of ’09 I took some time off to decide what my next plan of action would be. Thought awhile about just giving music altogether and then changed my mind to give it one more try. I found some like minded fellas (Smokers in Love) and here we are. I sing, play guitar, make noise, and cause general chaos whenever I can.

2. Name one album you feel is critically under-rated and one album that is critically over-rated. Defend your case.

I could make the case for a 1000 underrated albums but that would take forever and defeat the purpose of this exercise, so that said I will talk about the album that is most affecting me at the moment which is The Night by Morphine. I used to live and die by Morphine’s “Cure for Pain” as the best album in their lexicon, but I now stand corrected. The Night indeed captures the mood of the night in all of its different incarnations.

There are the lonely songs like the title song. Songs of love lost and the need for redemption in songs like “Souvenir” and “I’m Yours, You’re Mine” while also showing the nighttime’s playful sides in songs like “Top Floor, Bottom Buzzer” & “Take Me With You”. I don’t know if the album was particularly underrated to the masses but it was to me.

As for and overrated album it would have to be a toss-up between Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion and Lady GaGa’s The Fame Monster. In the case of Animal Collective all I can see is a screwed up electronic hippie take on the Grateful Dead, and the Grateful Dead have always sucked so why in the hell would you want to add keyboards? [lololololololol ~Mouse] In Lady GaGa’s case Peaches called and she wants you to stop stealing her identity or pay royalties.

3. What about today’s music climate dissatisfies you? What do you long for in the music past or hope for in the future of music? Think about the big picture.

The biggest dissatisfying thing about the current music cycle is the way major companies sell pre-packaged ideas to kids telling them this is what you are going to like without trusting those same kids to make decisions about what they consider art on their own. It can be argued that this practice has always existed, but never on the level it does now.

On the other hand the teenage version of myself is upset that we missed out on the internet and social networking sites. All of those lost hours trudging along and stapling flyers to telephones and dodging the cops to avoid tickets. Now a simple email blast hits more people than I ever could have as a teen.

In general I want to see music be completely taken out on the hands of big companies and put that power to make art back in the hands of the artist themselves.

4. Is it important for culture-at-large to always have new bands and new songs? Why or why not?

Music and new music is as vital as any other form of art in making assumptions on the state of a society at in given point in history. The 60’s were a perfect example of this to a tee. Just listen to any music being made any year in the 60’s and it is almost a cross section of the political and social climate of the people of that time. Music is history being made exponentially by multiple individuals but when brought together tell a story.

Sometimes that story isn’t very good. For example the last 10 years should have said more but they got hijacked by the big companies trying to make one last money grab before we take it all away from them. I could go on but I digress.

5. Who wins in a fight between a gorilla and a walrus? Assume they are both healthy, adult specimens. The fight takes place on the beach with no trees (advantage: walrus) but there is one natural bludgeoning weapon, a piece of driftwood (advantage: gorilla). Defend your case.

Mouse out of all the questions you asked this is by far the easiest to answer. One word = thumbs. If you didn’t give the gorilla a log to beat the walrus with then it might have been closer, but with weapon there it is no contest. The gorilla wins hands down.

Now a pit bull versus a wolf would have been a better fight, but this is your forum.



FIVE QUESTIONS: Pam Shaffer

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Pam Shaffer
Pam Shaffer (sometimes Pam Shaffer and The Librarians)


1. Background:

For all intents and purposes, I am my band. (myspace) I started playing piano as a small child and now I play the piano as a rather petite adult. My music has been described as lullabies from a sunken pirate ship.

My new album is based on the diaries of Anais Nin with each song featuring a different character. The piano is definitely a grounding force throughout but don’t be surprised if you hear an antique marxophone or a bowed bass. I often get compared to Joanna Newsom and Regina Spektor, both of which are rather flattering. When I serrendipitiously met Regina at Spaceland, we discovered we had the same size hands. This encourages me greatly.

2. Name one album you feel is critically under-rated and one album that is critically over-rated. Defend your case.

Under-rated: Her Space Holiday – The Young Machines. During my senior year of college, I listened to this album non-stop while writing my thesis and taking long walks to avoid writing my thesis. There’s nothing specifically that recommends this record aside from the fact that I personally find it infinitely listenable. It’s kinda sappy but I am cool with that.

Over-rated: Radiohead – everything after OK Computer. Don’t get me wrong, I like Radiohead. A lot. However, Thom Yorke fiddling with synths just isn’t revolutionary for me. Lots of people play with synths. Lots of people have kind of whiny British voices. There are fantastic songs here and there (like the Pyramid song) but none others spring to mind. Nothing will beat The Bends for me when it comes to Radiohead. [YES! ~Mouse]

3. What about today’s music climate dissatisfies you? What do you long for in the music past or hope for in the future of music? Think about the big picture.

Though it may be an idealization of the past, audiences appeared to have more patience to explore new artists and watch as their careers develop than they do in the present. Reading about the lives of singer-songwriters in the 60’s and 70’s is both encouraging and discouraging to me because it appears as though the audiences were really on-board throughout these artists’ careers. I like watching artists grow, change, make fantastic albums, make horrible albums, get weird, get mainstream and do whatever else they want to do.

On a similar note, it saddens me that most audiences don’t even stay for an entire show at a venue in Los Angeles to discover new music but instead just show up for one set and leave. In the future, I would love to see audiences take advantage of the variety of music around them. I work with kids and it’s absolutely amazing to see them just react to music instead of instantly categorizing it as something they wouldn’t like based on some nonsensical principle. Keep your ears open, people.

4. Is it important for culture-at-large to always have new bands and new songs? Why or why not?

New bands and new music are crucial. Without new ideas, how could society ever progress? Oh hello, Dark Ages. Nice to see you.

5. Who wins in a fight between a gorilla and a walrus? Assume they are both healthy, adult specimens. The fight takes place on the beach with no trees (advantage: walrus) but there is one natural bludgeoning weapon, a piece of driftwood (advantage: gorilla). Defend your case.

I’d have to go with the gorilla on this one.

Despite the potentially larger mass of the walrus, I’d imagine that the gorilla would be far more dexterous and could actually maneuver a weapon, unlike the walrus who could only lumber around the beach. It would be awfully hard for the walrus to use it’s tusks on land so the gorilla would be in luck. The sand doesn’t seem like it would be much of an impedeement for the gorilla and it doesn’t appear that the walrus would have much of a chance.

Maybe the walrus was launched at the gorilla at the beginning of battle, it might not fare so poorly.



FIVE QUESTIONS: Geoff Geiss (Big Whup, Pizza!)

What say you?

Geoff Geiss
singer, guitarist
Big Whup (Big Whup Industries), Pizza! (Manimal Records)

1. Background:

I sing and play guitar in both Pizza! and Big Whup.

Pizza! formed five years ago as the New Motherfuckers, which started as jangly garage rock, went through a speedy punk period, and eventually evolved towards keyboard-filled and percussion-heavy hodgepodge indie pop. We’re five friends, we know each other very well, and one of our main agendas has always been to challenge ourselves.

I joined Big Whup, a colorful and emotional indie rock project, almost two years ago because I wanted to improve my guitar playing outside of the spotlight of being a “frontman.” I fell in love with the band, and soon realized that it was a great place to bring songs that didn’t cohere to the Pizza! process or aesthetic.

2. Name one album you feel is critically under-rated and one album that is critically over-rated. Defend your case.

The Raincoats’ Moving record is always overshadowed by their self-titled bedroom-punk masterpiece. Moving sounds like a totally different band, with an array of world music influences on top of the band’s familiar string-laden dissonance. I’m glad that the band was willing to make such a decidedly “unpunk” album.

Radiohead’s Amnesiac is terrible. It’s got some good songs, but as an album it comes together like a mixtape sequenced by a novice. That’s odd, because Kid A is so meticulous. It bothers me that they marketed Amnesiac as the follow-up to Kid A instead of being honest: it was an odds-n-ends record.

3. What about today’s music climate dissatisfies you? What do you long for in the music past or hope for in the future of music? Think about the big picture.

I’m dissatisfied by those tinny lo-fi fifteenth-wave garage punk bands with whiny vocalists that are ubiquitous at the moment. It would be impolitic to name names.

I think that media outlets aren’t fulfilling our need for filtration. The boom-and-bust hype cycle is dizzying, frustrating, and seemingly arbitrary. These are growing pains, though. The reason why we need a filter so badly is because it’s become so much easier for artists to record and distribute their music, and that’s hardly a bad thing.

I’m optimistic about the future. David Byrne wrote a great article in Wired magazine a few years ago about the new opportunities for bands to make money without becoming enslaved by the old apparatus. Major labels seem irrelevant now, and the profitability of groups like Vampire Weekend, Animal Collective, and the Arcade Fire is heartening. I think that we’re at the beginning of a Renaissance of “boutique labels” (like Manimal, for example) that will be great for artists and fans alike.

4. Is it important for culture-at-large to always have new bands and new songs? Why or why not?

It is always important for cultures to have art that reflects their triumphs and frustrations. Folks can still commune over Tom Petty’s songbook, but that’s different than going to Pehrspace and communing with “your people.”

I’m bothered when I hear it said that there is little room for artists to create (not “discover”) new songs and sounds. People were saying the same thing at the end of the nineteenth century. Then came Charles Ives, Arnold Schönberg, Harry Partch- people who made dramatic breaks from the past! Jazz, hip hop, and disco are all still very young innovations. More will follow, and people will respond similarly to how they respond after tearing up their whole apartment looking for car keys: “why is it that new music is always in the last place that I look?”

There is no such thing as an “uninfluenced” sound, so of course we hear influences in new stuff. Duh, Vampire Weekend likes Paul Simon. But they also obviously like file sharing and the new ability to expose themselves to a diversity of influences that would have been unthinkable before Napster. You can hear these influences on Contra, which is an incredibly impressive record. Those guys are just the beginning, though.

5. Who wins in a fight between a gorilla and a walrus? Assume they are both healthy, adult specimens. The fight takes place on the beach with no trees (advantage: walrus) but there is one natural bludgeoning weapon, a piece of driftwood (advantage: gorilla). Defend your case.

The tusks are ferocious, and the blubber is a good defense mechanism, but I imagine that gorillas are more mobile than walruses. To get the gorilla with its tusks, I think that the walrus would have to pin the gorilla. I don’t know why the gorilla would get close enough to let it do that. If the walrus is a bit tired, the gorilla can come up behind it and start bludgeoning it. Maybe the walrus can kick its head back all whiplash-style, but in the end it will be ruined because its tusks face inward and not outward- at best it’ll be able to smack the gorilla with the broad side of the tusks, and I bet the gorilla will be able to handle that.



FIVE QUESTIONS: NaNa (Spider Problem)

What say you?


Photo by Jean Luc Meisel (www.grokworld.com)

NaNa
drummer
Spider Problem / Mikki and Mini / Puss n Boots / The Jew Cocks

1. Background:

Well… let’s start from where this “crazian” (crazy + asian) came from! I’m originally from Kagoshima, Japan. At age of 10, I fell in love with rock n roll when I first saw David Bowie at his concert in Japan. I started playing the drums at age of 15 by my mom’s suggestion who got me into the rock n roll world.

At age of 18 I moved to LA with nothing. No family, no friends, even no English… just myself! I still don’t know why and how I did it! I guess I was just an idiot. Ha ha ha! Didn’t know anybody, didn’t know what to do…playing music is the only way to make some friends and communicate with people. ” The Magic of Music” really cheesy way of saying… but it really is. It can connect people & people no matter who you are, where you’re from. And also can change people ( but not the world unfortunately…).

Anyway…, about 2 years ago, I met Eric Stiner through his friend (I didn’t even know his friend. It was totally out of nowhere. ) and we formed a band called Kill Kill Kill. After released 3 albums and did a couple of shows and sessions at KXLU, I left the band for good and joined such an amazing band Spider Problem! This is the band I mainly play and mostly known as a drummer from.

Hey! My first show with Spider was actually a Mouse show Fiend Folio! What a crazy community…

I hate people ask me what kind of music we play. I really don’t know how to describe it. But all I can say is, I’ve never seen a band like SP out here before! [The band] has a great music, performance and looks! Since I’m heavily influenced by 70’s glam rock, The looks is as important as the music and the performance.

We did tons of crazy things last year (I’m not talking about drugs or typical rock thing. Actually I’m the cleanest drummer you’ll ever see! ). SXSW, tour w/ The Germs, Bizarre Magazine, Californication sound track etc… This year, we have tons of shows as always and new EP & vinyl and more cool things are coming! So, keep your eyes open!

I never imagined I would be busy drumming and playing around…. Currently I’ve been working on some cool projects with super cool musicians! One is called Puss n Boots! I started it with Roy Fielden from New York. I really hope the White Stripes doesn’t exist… It’s a dark heavy noisy punk duo. But I think the chemistry of a young Japanese girl and an old British guy makes this band more interesting! We have a lot of shows are coming here in LA and NY in March!

And another one is called Mikki and Minnie. It’s a side project of Anthony Anzalone from Mikki and the Mauses. We just started and have been just recording some weird stuff. So, we don’t even know what is gonna happen… I’m just so happy that I can create something with somebody who’s really talented and I look up to as an artist and a person!

And… it’s the last one! I just joined a band called The Jew Cocks . [Uhhhh… ~Mouse] Two drums and two basses! Sounds already fun, doesn’t it!? Formed by Dan and Bobby from my favorite band Stab City and their friend Todd Sender. A group of great talented musicians! I feel like I’m taking a free music lesson. It’s also hard to describe our music. Well, we also have some shows coming in the end of March. So, the best way to find out who these freaks are is to come to see our shows!!

2. Name one album you feel is critically under-rated and one album that is critically over-rated. Defend your case.

There are a lot of albums that I listened to and didn’t like. And also there are a lot of albums that I love! So I really can’t tell which one would be….

But since David Bowie changed my life, I have to say that the over-rated album would be his every album from David Bowie to Heroes! (I don’t like his 80’s stuff… Wait! then under-rated album would be his 80’s stuff….!?) Sorry I can’t pick one. Because every single album sounds so different and has a different concept or style. And they are so good. And he even changed his looks in every album. Who does something like that nowadays?? Even back in 70’s, nobody did something like he did. He is an total artist and entertainer!

3. What about today’s music climate dissatisfies you? What do you long for in the music past or hope for in the future of music? Think about the big picture.

What dissatisfies me is an industry! They don’t care about music anymore. Especially here in the US, all they care about is “$”! They (even sometimes venues) don’t treat musicians as who they are.

And even the audience bothers me sometimes. I go to see shows or play shows and all I see is people are having fun in a different way… All they wanna do is just to get drunk and hang out. I’m not saying that’s not a good thing. What I wanna say is, if you go to see shows, enjoy the music! I really don’t see a lot of people truly enjoying music nowadays.

I’m a huge music fan. I still buy CDs & vinyls and listen to the whole album. But people just download singles… as a musician, music fan, the way of people listen to music makes me really sad…

But… there’s a hope! I think the music scene is great! I see tons of new bands on the magazines every month. Well, it’s really hard to find a really good band and also really hard to survive. But makes the scene come alive. Even the small LA local scene is great! I’ve seen a lot of great bands and great talents!! And there are also a lot of great music websites and blogs who support musicians.

So, I just hope that the support system, whatever the industry or the audience or the venues, for the musicians and the bands will be better and more for music!

4. Is it important for culture-at-large to always have new bands and new songs? Why or why not?

I think it’s a really silly question…… Of course, Yes!! What? Are you telling me to live with just a “memory of Michael Jackson”?? No way…

I know the music scene or industry is not like 70’s or 60’s anymore. And there are not gonna be “brand new music” or “brand new” sound. But I think the current music scene is great! Still excites me and makes me happy every time I discover a good new band or song! It’s a history, generation thing!

The new bands or new songs keep the music history and the scene going and alive. I really like reading old musicians or new musicians’ interviews or watching a music documentary. Even just a Rock history, It’s really interesting. We can’t end it now. I mean, how can we?? There is my favorite Japanese rock magazine called Rockin’ On. My mom used to read the same magazine when she was my age. So, I wanna see MY kids reading the same magazine 20 years later! ;)

5. Who wins in a fight between a gorilla and a walrus? Assume they are both healthy, adult specimens. The fight takes place on the beach with no trees (advantage: walrus) but there is one natural bludgeoning weapon, a piece of driftwood (advantage: gorilla). Defend your case.

I think a gorilla wins. He has arms & legs and can move easily. And has a weapon, too… but I wanna see a walrus win and how he wins!



FIVE QUESTIONS: Edgar Acosta (The Sonnets)

What say you?

Edgar Acosta
The Sonnets
guitarist, singer

1. Background:

My name is Edgar and I’m in The Sonnets, based in L.A. I play guitar and sing (half the time), and write half of our songs. We’re also currently in the market for a good, groovy, minimalist drummer (somewhere between Ringo and Meg White). Our sound has been described as “punk Beach Boys.”

My bandmate Matthew and I started this about two years ago, but really it’s been in the making for about seven years. We were English majors in college and met one day when I was walking by the dorms and heard somebody playing, from the second story, Sublime’s “Santeria” on guitar. I started singing along loudly from below. Matthew came out and we talked music and girls.

2. Name one album you feel is critically under-rated and one album that is critically over-rated. Defend your case.

King Crimson’s Islands is definitely under-rated. Most say In the Court of the Crimson King is the definitive, watershed prog-rock moment, but Islands really takes you on a psychedelic, disturbing journey, leaving you in peaceful reverie at the end. In the Court is just weird for the sake of being weird.

I’d have to say a critically over-rated album is Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s debut album. I actually do love “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth,” but the rest of the album has no definition. The songwriting (as in melody/chords/lyrics) is without clear purpose. But I definitely commend the band for having had huge success without following the traditional indie- or major-label route.

3. What about today’s music climate dissatisfies you? What do you long for in the music past or hope for in the future of music? Think about the big picture.

What dissatisfies me is cynicism. The tired “there’s no good music being made today” way of looking at things. It’s a great time for music fans, and there’s plenty of great bands. Unlike in the ’60s or ’70s, the good music isn’t in-your-face and easy-to-see. You have to dig a little more, and be willing to go to random shows in the name of sifting through the bad to find the great. So I guess the antidote to cynicism is just a willingness to put effort into finding what’s good; self-reliance.

4. Is it important for culture-at-large to always have new bands and new songs? Why or why not?

Yes, because those with fresh-blood adapt more easily, and are naturally more in-tune with the culture at large. [I love this point. ~Mouse] That means that the struggling, no-name artist lives in the same culture the regular folk live in, so therefore it’s just natural for that type of artist to have a more relevant voice within that culture. The old acts who’ve had success for years (Paul McCartney, U2, etc.) don’t live on the same plane as the majority. Their success is insulating, and great art hardly ever happens in a vacuum.

5. Who wins in a fight between a gorilla and a walrus? Assume they are both healthy, adult specimens. The fight takes place on the beach with no trees (advantage: walrus) but there is one natural bludgeoning weapon, a piece of driftwood (advantage: gorilla). Defend your case.

I’d have to go with the gorilla. Sure, the walrus has home-team advantage, but even so, a gorilla is still going to be able to move around easier. Also, a walrus would have to be positioned just right to inflict significant damage. A gorilla has many options, including the driftwood, its fists, strangulation, and, of course, its teeth.



FIVE QUESTIONS: Malcolm Sosa (Rademacher)

What say you?

Here’s the first of the CGT Five Questions Series. I’ve gotten a handful already; I’ll space them to two or three a week.

I invite you to participate, here are the guidelines. (And hey, bloggers / labels / publicists can play, too!)

Malcolm Sosa
singer, guitarist / bassist
Rademacher (JAXART Records)

1. Background:

“The band I play in is called Rademacher. I know you (Mouse) know the band, and I am sure some of your readers know the band. But some people who know all of the background stuff about me and Rademacher may not realize that we (Rademacher) are playing in Los Angeles this Friday with several great acts that I personally admire. Those acts would be Radars to the Sky and One Trick Pony. I’ll be joining Radars to the Sky onstage for some songs. I believe both the songs I’ll be performing with them are going to be on their unreleased new record.

They sound great.

I will not be playing in One Trick Pony. Not that I wouldn’t if those guys invited me to play with them. I believe Randy from One Trick Pony is one of Los Angeles’s best songwriters. He can also be a jerk. He’ll drink your beer. He’ll challenge your artistic integrity. But that’s ok. Mostly I think of him as an awesome songwriter.

I started Rademacher because no one in my home town of Fresno wanted to let me play in their bands. So I started my own. We have had over 30 members in the band and I am the only original band member. I started off playing guitar, but right now I play bass in the band, but next month I’ll be back on guitar and we will have a new lineup and be recording a new record. I am certain it will be the best record I have ever done. It will for sure contain some of the best songs I’ve ever written.

Describing the sound of the band is tough for me to do. I can tell you that we try to sound like our biggest influences! Those influences include Television, Joy Division and Admiral Radley. I hope that Admiral Radley plays that “I Heart California” song at their show in March at the Bootleg Theater. It is one of my faves.”

2. Name one album you feel is critically under-rated and one album that is critically over-rated. Defend your case.

“Describing any one album as “over” or “under” rated seems a bit silly to me. If you listen to what people tell you about music, you might actually begin to believe what people write about music and than you aren’t really listening to music anymore. If you listen to what people write about music, that’s great. I read about sound and music, but I rarely listen to the music I read about. I prefer to discover new music with my ears as opposed to being sold an idea by a magazine or a fancy blog like pitchfork.

Most importantly, I feel like if you love music, you should be going to shows, listening to songs, and buying records (or even putting on shows and MAKING records) without being prompted. The way you write in CGT, it is more like you are trying to document your explorations in the world of music versus rehashing a press release from Matador or whoever. I enjoy the way you document shows and the trajectory of the LA music scene. Which seems less opressive than the way Pitchfork writes about music. But despite the fact that I “trust” you more than many other music blogs, I still have never listened to Spider Problem.

I digress. In short, I think that Funkadelic’s record Maggot Brain is one of the finest ever produced. There is very little compression on the recording and it begins with a 10 minute guitar solo. It contains positive social messages as well as well as warnings to listeners about the fate of our planet if we continue down our current path of self destruction. The themes, the style and the purpose of the music is eternal. Is that the same as underrrated?

Overrrated? Everything else you hear on the radio.”

3. What about today’s music climate dissatisfies you? What do you long for in the music past or hope for in the future of music? Think about the big picture.

“I think today’s music scene is great in a number of respects. Most importantly the internet and music recording, distribution and everything are in the palm (literally) of just about everybody’s hand. That’s fucking insane. You and I pretty much have every tool that every label, promoter and company has at their disposal. Twitter, ProTools, and iTunes. There is no advantage to having a “record label” except that *hopefully* your label people know some people with lots of money that you don’t know. The few threads holding the record industry together are the few threads that probably helped to bond it together in the first place. Money and friendship. The wealthier you are and the more connected friends you have, the better you will do in a monetary and airplay sense.

Most people start liking a song because they hear it. And then they hear it again. And then they hear it over and over again. You like music because it has been reinforced on your psyche from the very minute you were born. I don’t really believe that musical “taste” is something an individual has control over. It is a cultural construct that’s built through sheer repitition.

If you are well connected and have the money and you can get your song on MTV, Grey’s Anatomy, and all that stuff and people everywhere hear it over and over again, in a sense, you are staking a claim on the musical psyche of this generation as well as future generations. Once we hear a song enough it becomes part of our collective conciousness. These are the sort of songs the advertisers, music placement folks and record labels love becuase they can easily be leveraged into creating more money for their products even if that wasn’t the original intention of the artist. Hits tend snowball beyond the ability of the artist to control.

Woops. Maybe this line of thought is a little beyond the scope of the question. Hmmm … I think the music scene is great because people now, more than ever, have theability to stake their own claim and create their own sound and sell it and change the patterns of the industry as well as the human psyche to create something different and hopefully positive.”

4. Is it important for culture-at-large to always have new bands and new songs? Why or why not?

“Of course it is important to have new songs! It is also important to have old songs and to take care of them!

If you don’t have new songs and music, and let’s face it, most new songs and music are absolute crap, then all the old stuff that is really, really good, wouldn’t sound as good anymore. Also, every once in a great while someone manages to put together a new song that is absolutely amazing. Which is just the coolest thing in the universe.

Besides all the fun artistic songs that we listen to, there need to be new songs that actually have a function, like to teach kids skills (like the alphabet song, I personally am working on a QWERTY song), jingles to help people sell products and national anthems to help brainwash and patriotize populations.

Does this make sense? I am very big on music having a purpose. If music has a purpose it is good music regardlessly of what I think of it artistically or whether I like the way it sounds, becuase like I mentioned earlier I believe taste is a learned and reinforced behavior. to really dig music you have to use your head and logic and ultimately you to respect and appreciate the purpose of a song — otherwise you can’t really dig it. The same way I can’t really dig Leni Riefenstahl movies.”

5. Who wins in a fight between a gorilla and a walrus? Assume they are both healthy, adult specimens. The fight takes place on the beach with no trees (advantage: walrus) but there is one natural bludgeoning weapon, a piece of driftwood (advantage: gorilla). Defend your case.

“Walrus wins. I mean, the thing has tusks.”



INTERVIEW: Evan Way (The Parson Redheads)

What say you?

On Tuesday, April 28th The Parson Redheads will be releasing a new limited edition 7″ vinyl single on JAXART Records. Titled Orangufang, the single comes with a download card for both songs plus an additional track. (PRE-ORDER HERE)

Parson Readheads singer / songwriter Evan Way (who is one of the nicest guys I’ve encountered in the LA scene) agreed to talk to CGT about the record and songwriting in general in anticipation of the gorgeous single’s release.

Aside from The Parson Readheads, you play in The World Record, do your own solo material, and god knows what other projects. When you write a song, how do you know “Okay, this is a Parson Redheads song”?

In the World Record, I really don’t do any of the song-writing. It is much more Andy’s project – I just play guitar, and do what he tells me to (which is a great relief – its nice to just play a part and not worry about writing a part every once in a while). So that takes care of itself.

The main reason I started the solo stuff was so that I would have an outlet for a lot of the folkier, mellower stuff that just worked better as a one guy and his guitar kind of thing. I write a lot of that stuff on my down-time, but I’ve just never felt it worked as a Parsons kind of thing, for the most part. I never really looked at the Parsons as being a folk band, like a band backing a singer-songwriter, you know? Plus, it was a good opportunity to just flex different musical muscles, and learn to perform in a very different way.

So the only decisions for whether a song would be a Parsons song or not really came when I was spending time playing with this group called The Ghost Kings (check em out on myspace!!). All the guys in that band shared song-writing duties, so often times I’d write a song and be faced with the decision of which band to bring it to. But normally it solves itself.

The Parsons really do have a specific sound, at least I think so. So either something comes out and I say “oh, Sam could do this and this, and Brette could do this and this …”. When ideas start coming out like that, I know which band it has to go to. Plus, since the Parsons is everyone’s main project – if I write a song I think is really great, its probably going to be a Parsons song. I like to use Brette as a monitor, too – I will play her a new song, and either she’d say “Thats great! Which band will you use it for?” or “That has to be a Parsons song.” That makes the decision pretty easy. =)

Where do your song ideas come from? Is it an emotional idea, a lyric, a melody, etc?

The high majority of my song ideas come from melodies first. It didn’t used to be like that, though. It used to be almost 100% guitar part first. But now that I live in LA, I’m in the car a lot. Driving to and from work, all that. And contrary to popular opinion, it is difficult to do a lot of guitar playing in the car. So most of my songs now come from singing to myself. I will be humming something, singing some random lyrics, and then I’ll stumble on something I think is good. Then I have to call my voicemail, or pull up my voice memo on my phone, and record the idea (well, at least 30 seconds of it) so that I don’t forget it by the time I get home. It’s quite a frantic process, that part. Get to a red light. Pull up voice memo. Record quickly (and try to do it while looking like you’re just leaving a message, for the sake of any onlookers). Continue driving.

But that is just the first part – lyrics come later, and take a lot longer to finally finish. I don’t often even remember where lyrics come from. Its hard to recall really sitting down and writing a song, to be honest (and I do it sober!). But I can tell you that more of my lyrics of late have come from real life experiences or ideas. I’ve been thinking a lot about memories and the past, and how things you do in the past might mean something totally different to you now than it did when you actually did it. So I think some of that has been filtering into some of my songs, for sure.

Lyrics are a real struggle for me – there are some guys that I am so jealous of. The lyrics come easily and are just beautiful. Dawes is a band that jumps to mind – Taylor’s lyrics are incredible. But for me, it takes a long time, and I really kinda stress out about it.

Without being too abstract, makes a good song? What is it about the songs you love that sets-off fireworks and what sort of ideal do you strive for in your own writing?

I really think that the melody is the huge key, in my opinion. At least for me. Even a song with lyrics that are somewhat take-it-or-leave-it… if the melody is killer, it really makes up for a lot. I’ve heard songs that don’t have incredible lyrics, that still almost make me tear up, just because of the right melody. So when you then add the other elements – dynamics, lyrics, a good guitar solo (which I’m a sucker for) – then magic really happens. But without a good melody to base a song around, I think you’re pretty ruined. I’ve heard songs with great guitar parts or arrangements, that have no good vocal melody… and I just can’t get behind em.

I really love Tom Petty. Like, an unacceptable amount. I think his melodies are perfect. They are somewhat “every-man”-ish. Its not like he is hitting these really high notes, or doing vocal gymnastics. The melodies are simple. But they hit just right, and they always fit with what the song is about. And I tell you – no one delivers a line like Petty. He knows a good line when he’s got one, and he will deliver the heck out of it.

So I think in my song-writing, I really strive for songs with melodies that have an identity. Something that makes sense. I love it when you hear a song and it just feels so right – like, that verse and that chorus were made for each other. And that harmony was supposed to happen there – like, it had to be there for that song.

When you hear a song that just feels that right amount of familiar, I think its often because it is a song that is written so well, every part just makes perfect sense, to everyone – from the seasoned musician to the casual listener. That’s what I have been really reaching for recently. But I gotta say its kind of constantly changing, what a song-writer is trying to get out of a song.

What was the creative genesis of the songs on Orangufang?

Well, the idea started to form that maybe we could put out something special in the first half of this year – not just another EP, but something different, something we’ve never done before. The idea of doing a 7″ came from that.

But then we had to deal with which songs we were going to use. We have a lot of new songs that haven’t been recorded. So we were basically having to pick 3 songs out of 20 to 25 possibilities. We already had this recording of the song “Raymond” that we had done during the sessions for Owl & Timber. We really loved how it turned out, and hadn’t really been able to use it for anything. So this seemed like an obvious choice.

With that as a starting point, we were kind of able to decide by seeing which songs complimented each-other best. Because I really think an album – whether its 3 songs or 10, or 12, or whatever – has to have some sort of cohesion and flow to really make it a good record. Otherwise its just some songs thrown together. So we just kind of built of that. We chose what songs would make the most sense together.

The extra track came last – it was a song I’d had for a long time and hadn’t done anything with. I thought it’d be neat to have something to show off the quieter, more harmony driven side of us – I always like to throw that in on a release. And we had a great opportunity to record it right, with Raymond over at Red Rockets Glare. He had all the tools to make the song work just how it should.

Orangufang (and the additional download track) is gorgeous. What makes these three songs a good grouping and what do you want listeners to take away from it?

Like I said, I definitely think all these songs work well as a group – we made sure to pick three songs that all complimented each-other in different ways. But they also do a good job of showing off all the different aspects of the band, and some new aspects that maybe people haven’t heard before. “Raymond” is a fun rocker, with big harmonies and a good ol’ guitar harmony solo at the end (something we love).

“You Can Leave It” is a step in a slightly new direction, I think, for us. A little smoother, more of a road-trip, driving with the top down kind of song. I definitely think its a bit more… dare I say… mature? And confident? I don’t know. I guess you can decide that one.

And then, like I said before, “Knew A Young Girl” was chosen because it showed off our softer side, more folk stuff, with harmonies and the pedal steel and all that. More of a back-porch, camp-fire kind of song.

I really hope listeners will take something away from it – I’m not sure what each individual will take away, but I hope that people can get something from the songs, from the stories in ’em, and from the sentiments we’re trying to get across. Plus, I hope they can hear constant improvement in our songs, a constant growth in our song-writing. Playing with the band that I’m playing with has made me get better as a musician and song-writer, and I definitely hope that comes through. You always want your newest release to be your best, you know? That is just natural. But I really do think that we have become leaps and bounds better than we ever were before, and I hope that people can agree with that!! =)

That said… I really can’t wait to record a full length. I hope we get to do that soon. We’ve got lots of plans and ideas, and I’m not a very patient person. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that happens sooner rather than later.