Recent Posts in interviews
December 5, 2013
by Doug Moore
Dave Vincent (more by Jonathan McPhail)
When Morbid Angel announced that they would be celebrating the 20th anniversary of their classic third album Covenant by playing the album in full on tour, the reaction was a little more muted than the band had probably hoped. Despite their unimpeachable legacy, Morbid Angel lost a lot of goodwill with their fanbase when, after an eight-year delay, they released 2011's disastrous Ilud Divinum Insanus. The departure of longtime drummer Pete Sandoval did not help matters. Many people (justifiably) turned their backs on M-A in the two years since.
But despite the dampened expectations, Morbid Angel's performance on the NYC stop of this tour on 11/12 was thoroughly awesome. As goofy as this band looks onstage sometimes (notice Dave Vincent's outfit above), they still bring their A-game to their classic material; the performances are less manic than on the albums, but they're tighter by the same token. Trey Azagthoth remains the best lead player in all of death metal; watching him rip those unearthly sounds out of his guitar is absurd and awesome.
We also spoke to Vincent, the band's lately-divisive frontman, for an interview over at Invisible Oranges. Since Morbid Angel kept their set mostly to their classic material, we followed suit with our conversation. Vincent notably confirmed that Pete Sandoval is no longer an official member of the band, due to Sandoval having "found Jesus." Read an excerpt below...
Covenant came out in 1993, which was in many ways the peak of death metal as a commercial genre -- Carcass's Heartwork, Entombed's Wolverine Blues, Death's Individual Thought Patterns, and Dismember's Indecent & Obscene all came out that year, among others. Morbid Angel were the first death metal band to sign to a major. What was it like to be at the center of all of that?
I looked at it as an opportunity more than anything else. It gave us some muscle to get us into the big boys' swimming pool, as it were. We had to work a lot harder, obviously, but we had some opportunities available to us that weren't before. We got on some really good tours. We had some really good videos. It takes a lot of money to do some of these things, and Warner has very deep pockets. They allowed us to realize some of our dreams -- we got to do some things that I enjoyed a lot, and that the fans tell me they enjoyed as well.
Do you feel like you capitalized on that opportunity as much as you could've?
Gosh, well, I guess you could always do more. But I think that we pushed what we do pretty darn far for what it is. It's not commercial music. We have some stuff that's catchy in its own way, but not to the mainstream. Although, it's interesting. Listening back now, I hear a lot of things that arguably we helped to pioneer. There are elements of that which I hear in all manner of kinds of music, including pop. Which is cool.
Covenant is really catchy for a death metal record.
That's just what we do, y'know? But all these other bands that you mentioned -- we're all very different. Today, what I hear is a lot of things that sound the same. I don't hear the sense of individuality that I felt with us or some of the other Florida bands -- Obituary, Death, those bands. When people talk about a "Florida sound," I don't know what that would be. We all sound very different. The tones, the song structures, everything about us was very different.
Nowadays, I don't think there's so much emphasis put on identity as there is on groupthink: "What's this style, or that style?" Style doesn't mean a lot to me. Quality means everything to me. If there's anything that I wish that I heard more of these days, it's the same differentiation that I heard back when we were cutting our teeth.
The rest of the interview is available over at IO. Fingers crossed that Morbid Angel's next album sounds more like Covenant.
November 20, 2013
by Doug Moore (with interview by Turk Durmac)
We mentioned several months back that NY thrash legends Overkill would spend the fall touring with equally time-tested Teutonic thrashers Kreator and youngbloods Warbringer. Their tour is wrapping up this week with two dates at Stage 48 on 11/23 and 11/24. Appropriately, Overkill will headline both of these home-turf shows. Tickets, including a two-day pass for the truly obsessed, are available.
We've got an interview with frontman and noted cancer survivor Bobby Blitz over at Invisible Oranges, and goddamn is it a doozy. Guest contributor Turk Durmac talked to Blitz about every single album of Overkill's 33-year career, including their as-yet-untitled 2014 effort. Here are a few excerpts:
On blowing his voice as a young singer:
In the early days, my father used to accuse me of doing this for free beer and girls, and to some degree that was true -- it was just a cool thing to do. On Feel the Fire, I approached my vocals wide-eyed, just wanting to tear it up. Not over-thinking anything, just standing behind the mic. I remember in those days, I'd push so hard that I'd lose my voice. You know, I'm in my early twenties and I should be losing my voice, but I'd scream so loud or sing so hard that I did. But that was the approach: action versus reaction. Action was the tape I was hearing in the headphones and the Reaction was the vocal I was laying down, trying to match that energy.
On the mid-tour collapse of Megadeth's first lineup:
They were coming off the rails and they were a really exciting band because they were coming off the rails. There was something really charming about that explosiveness. You know, I remember standing in Philedelphia and Dave saying to the audience, "You've just witnessed the last performance of Megadeth." And this was 1987! I think there was a great camaraderie between the bands. Even with Dave and Junior, there still is. They're great guys and great friends. I still think of that tour fondly, one of my favorites.
On being forced to re-audition for Megaforce Records:
I was so insulted. We were getting the Horrorscope stuff together and Megaforce said, "We're not sure we want to keep the band." They wanted us to audition for them. And I said, "You're kidding." We had some people in our corner, for sure, but we had to stand in front of fifteen Megaforce people and play the Horrorscope record on a stage in Brooklyn -- that's not well known, but now it is. I was so insulted, but the amount of energy I had for that record...I remember standing next to D.D., who's always calm and collected, and I said, "I'm gonna shove my fist so far up Johnny Z.'s ass..." (laughs) It worked out pretty well.Read the whole monster over at Invisible Oranges. The remaining dates of the Overkill/Kreator tour and a stream of Overkill's most recent record are below.
November 14, 2013
Johnny Marr @ Fun Fun Fun Fest 2013 (more by Tim Griffin)
Having influenced everyone from The Stone Roses to Radiohead to Deafheaven, Johnny Marr's guitar sound is easily one of the most recognizable, unfolding and swelling its notes, layer upon layer, with a melody that's as dense in its bombast as it is playful in its simplicity. A mere twenty-six years after leaving The Smiths, Marr released his first solo record, The Messenger, earlier this year. It's not to say there wasn't anything going on for Marr during the time between, however. In fact, while much of Smiths fandom has continued to revel in mourning and reunion speculation, Marr has spent the time since simply defining the terms of his own artistic progression. Membership in bands such as Modest Mouse, The Cribs, Electronic, The The, and innumerable guest spots for those artists who mince no words concerning the obvious influence for them has allowed Marr to properly illuminate the evolutionary arc of his career as a thankfully unfinished piece. I had the opportunity to talk with Johnny, who is on tour now, about The Messenger as well as his creative process and what his thoughts are on writing an autobiography.
For The Messenger, I'm curious as to what kind of worked as a creative catalyst for you with the album. Why a solo album now? Was the creative process for the album different here than with your other projects?
Johnny Marr: Well, the reason the record happened when it did is because I had the ideas for the songs. I always have ideas for music and riffs and guitar parts, but over the touring years with Modest Mouse and The Cribs, I got a lot of ideas for things I wanted to sing about. It's a good start, so this album is actually driven mostly by lyrical concepts - ideas for what I wanted to sing about. That kind of ruled out the idea of me handing over the music to someone else to write lyrics, so it just fell together that way. It certainly wasn't my thinking that now would be a good time to do a solo record or have a solo career and then try and go about doing it. I just heard the songs first. I couldn't wait to get in the studio after coming off the road and just see if these things would turn into tracks. And the actual writing and recording of the record happened really quickly. I was demoing a song a day, and I ended up writing almost thirty songs - like, twenty-six or twenty-seven songs for it. It was a very inspired time. As for the creative process, I'd forgotten that I would be the producer. I was just working in the studio with my friend Doviak, and I had decided to do these songs. As I said, the demoing started to happen pretty quickly, and then I realized that the decisions of what microphones to put on the cymbals and what bass sounds to use was on me, and I'd not been in a position before where I was writing the lyrics and singing and playing the guitars and keyboards and finding the right microphones for cymbals. Technically, I was kind of a challenge I hadn't considered. It made me a bit of a grumpy person to be around for a couple of weeks [laughs]. Whereas in the past, you see, I was always fine with doing that - with being the first person in the studio and the last person to leave. It's a different thing when you're singing and writing the words. You need to be in a different headspace. I found that somewhat of a challenge for the first week or first few weeks. But now I've done it, and I'm proud that we managed to pull that off. I roped Doviak as co-producer to stop me going completely out of my mind or killing everybody in the building when I couldn't find the mic to put on the kick drum [laughs].
November 6, 2013
Lucero @ Terminal 5 (more by Mike Lerner)
Memphis, Tennessee's Lucero are as much country as they are punk, or maybe it's the other way around. Either way, the band's sound since their inception in 1998 has evolved along with their fans who are devoted to the refusal to be compartmentalized as the band is themselves. Lucero's latest, Texas & Tennessee, saw the band sidestep the more involved sounds of previous releases without sacrificing the core element of songwriting that continues to underscore their signature sound. On tour now with Titus Andronicus, they return to Terminal 5 in NYC this Friday, November 8th, with Titus and The Menzingers for what is sure to be a great show. I had the opportunity to talk to vocalist/guitarist Ben Nichols about his writing process, appreciating his roots, and how he hopes this Terminal 5 show won't be like the last.
My first question just concerns the formation of Lucero, Ben, and how you've seen the band evolve since then.
Ben: We started in '98 or something like that. Actually, our first show was in April of '98. There's definitely been an evolution over those fifteen years. We started off trying to go against the grain and playing these punk rock shows and just playing the quietest, slowest, saddest music possible. It was mainly just me and Brian Venable, the guitar player, who started the band. Then we had Roy and John, and we became a drunken rock n' roll band pretty fast after that. Then we hit the road, and yeah...we were quite possibly a too drunken rock n' roll band. There were some dark years in the middle there. Actually, for the last six years, we've had Rick Steff on the piano, and we added a horn section for a couple of records. That kind of brought us out of the darkness. As far as me, personally, is concerned...it made me really enjoy playing music again. The touring had kind of just worn me down, but adding those extra elements and those instruments - that really got me excited about the band again. With the last two records it's evolved into this...I don't know...the Memphis sound and the Memphis roots, we've definitely tapped into those sources a little more than we did in the past. We're kind of more comfortable with being a Memphis band. I think we're more comfortable showing where we're from a little bit and letting those roots show. Now we're this rock n' roll soul band. I don't know. I'm not sure what the hell we are [laughs]. There's still some country songs. Actually, the next record will probably be fairly countryish. It's a big ol' mess of fifteen years that's tough to remember.
October 29, 2013
by Bill Pearis
MBV @ ATP NY 2008 (more by Abbey Braden)
My Bloody Valentine shocked fans this year by actually making good on their promise of finally releasing a new album, MBV, back in February -- the one Kevin Shields has been promising since 1991's Loveless. At that time, the band was already starting their 2013 tour which will wrap up here in NYC with shows at Hammerstein Ballroom on November 11 & 12. It's their first NYC shows since the very muddy All Points West Festival in 2009 and tickets are still available. I spoke to Kevin Shields on Thursday (10/24) via transatlantic call about the new record, the tour, Tool fans, the difference between digital and analogue and what to expect next.
Read it below...
August 15, 2013
It wasn't that long ago that Canadian hardcore post punkers Fucked Up announced their indefinite hiatus. Unlike the all too chic hiatuses wrought upon the otherwise unsuspecting horde of fans, followers, and tweeters, Fucked Up were taking a break for the sake of family. That's the thing. Despite winning the 2009 Polaris Prize, multiple Best Of features, and the damn near universal acclaim from critics and fans alike, Fucked Up is essentially a side project for its members. When life provides the opportunity for the members to come together and create more music, they end up creating something like David Comes to Life. It's a fascinating thing to consider when so much of Fucked Up's music concerns the suburban odyssey and the inherent dangers of domesticity.
Having recently announced a tour including a few US dates, the concerns of fans have been allayed at least temporarily until the new album (yes, they're working on one) comes out. I had a chance to shoot lead guitarist Mike Haliechuk a few questions about the band's success and what lies ahead.
Read it below...
May 31, 2013
by Klaus Kinski
Veteran readers of this dope ass website are probably cognizant of the fact that Mike Birbiglia is a certified Klaus Kinski Gold Pass Top Tier Favorite Comedian Of All Freaking Time. I haven't crunched the numbers but I'd venture to guess that over fifty percent of my posts mention Birbigs in one way or another. I've been a fan of Birbigs for about as long as I've been aware that I enjoy comedy more than most anything in this world that serves to distract us from how awful life really is. And in the time I've been following Birbigs I've seen him make a very clear evolution from stand-up comedian to brilliant, long-form monologist without ever losing the funny. Mike's two blockbuster monologues Sleepwalk With Me, which became a book and a movie, and My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, both dominated the off-broadway and international circuits with an unprecedented amount of consecutive sold-out performances. He was also nominated for and won shitloads of awards and accolades and stuff. It was crazy.
Mike has been performing My Girlfriend's Boyfriend all over planet earth since 2011 and over that period of time the piece has enjoyed an evolution of its own, having undergone a series tweaks and adjustments to get the piece to where it is today. For better or for worse, Mike is closing the book on My Girlfriend's Boyfriend with a final gigantic send-off show at the venerable Carnegie Hall in NYC on Sunday June 2nd at 8:00pm (sharp). If you are light on funds, have no fear. Discounted $21 balcony seats can be obtained by simply using promo code MGB17398 at the Carnegie Hall website. In addition to a performance of My Girlfriend's Boyfriend one last time, the evening will be rounded out with very special guest appearances by This American Life's Ira Glass and more. A handful of tickets are still available to what is sure to be a bittersweet evening of comedic greatness.
I had a chance to ask Mike a few questions the other day and he was kind enough to answer them for me, us. Thanks Mike!
March 25, 2013
by Fred Pessaro // BBG
Paint it Black at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011 (more by Fred Pessaro // BBG)
Pennsylvania's Paint it Black have returned with a new 7" due on No Idea Records, Invisible, which is available for preorder now. It marks the melodic hardcore band's first effort in four years, and they've has offered a pair of tracks for streaming in anticipation of its mid-April release. Check out "Greetings, Fellow Insomniacs" and "Headfirst", the latter of which makes its debut here today.
In celebration of PiB's righteous return to the studio, we cornered frontman Dan Yemin (also Lifetime, Kid Dynamite, etc) and bassist Andy Nelson (also Ceremony, etc) about the new release, being an elder statesman in punk and what the future holds. The results of that conversation, those song streams are below.
February 25, 2013
by Klaus Kinski
In my opinion, the most prolific and iconic television character of the 21st century has got to be Ron Swanson from TV show Parks and Recreation. Mr. Swanson is played with pitch-perfect intensity and effortlessness by the great Nick Offerman and has become a towering icon of manliness, independence, self-reliance as well as an antidote to the disease of twinkish metrosexualism that has co-opted and threatens to redefine the sanctity of Red Wings, flannel shirts, and raw denim dungarees. Ron Swanson Forever, Forever Ron Swanson.
But that's just a character. Nick Offerman is a real person. And though there are some similarities between Offerman and Swanson, the character is hardly an autobiographical representation of Offerman. Nick started acting in theater companies in Chicago in the mid-90s. He was also a fight choreographer and master carpenter at the Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago. In the late 90s he started getting work in movies and television shows. In the decade leading up to his breakthrough role in as Ron Swanson in Parks and Recreation Nick amassed a massive CV of acting roles, including that of wannabe Wild Bill Hickock assassin Tom Mason in my favorite all-time show Deadwood. He's also a master woodworker.
In addition to all of that, it turns out that Nick is also a master song-writer and storyteller, as evidenced in his brilliant one man show American Ham. Last year Nick brought his one man show to small stages in places like Los Angeles and New York and I happened to catch one of these shows at the UCB East. Without exaggeration, that show was one of the funniest, most satisfying show-going experiences in my life. In it, Nick elucidates the 10 basic tenets for prosperity through story and song and I cannot think of any other time that I was so entertained for such a sustained amount of time. American Ham is now on a large theater tour and will make it's way to New York City's Town Hall for two shows on Saturday March 2. The 7:00pm show is just about sold out, and the 10pm show is close to a sell out as well. I urge you to get tickets now for one of his NYC shows or a show that's happening at a venue near you.
I had a quick cyber-sit-down with Nick recently where we discussed cutting your teeth in Hollywood, the genius machine behind Ron Swanson, the brilliance of people like Corn Mo and Garret Dillahunt, a day's worth of meals that will have Vegans running for the bathroom gagging, and much much more. Read it below...
September 21, 2012
by Fred Pessaro // BBG
Birth Control album art
Philadelphia noise-punks Fight Amp are back with their latest LP Birth Control, which hits next week (9/25) via Translation Loss. The record, their third overall, sees the band wading in the same Am-Rep-y infested waters as previous releases but this time with a stronger sense of melodicism. Stream the entire LP for the first time below.
We sat down with Mike McGinnis of Fight Amp to ask him a few questions about the new record, future touring plans, and more. The results of our conversation are below.