Recent Posts in interviews
March 8, 2014
Little Dragon's next album, entitled Nabuma Rubberband, is due in May. This coming week, like they did recently on Letterman (video below), they'll preview some of it down in Austin at SXSW where one of their shows is the Thursday BrooklynVegan free day party. Meanwhile, we cornered bassist Freddy & drummer Erik & asked them 5 QUESTIONS:
1) What is your favorite venue to play in the country and why?
LD: Our favorite venue to play could be the Henry Miller library in Big Sur. Open small outdoor stage surrounded by the giant redwoods trees, what more to say??
more to say below...
March 6, 2014
By Doug Moore
Back in 2010, Slough Feg / ex-Hammers of Misfortune frontman Mike Scalzi wrote a brief series of op-eds for Invisible Oranges under the title "Bullpen Bulletins." The posts -- and Scalzi's unvarnished take on what he considers the malaise of the contemporary metal scene -- did far better than he or then-IO editor Cosmo Lee expected, generating a lengthy discussion on the viability of 'extreme' metal styles like death and black metal.
The release of Slough Feg's new album, Digital Resistance (which rules), has reignited that discussion, so we figured it'd make sense to catch up with the man himself. In a new IO interview, Scalzi touches on the reader response to the Bullpen Bulletin posts, among various other topics. Here's an excerpt:
So I confess, I'm one of those people who read your op-ed on IO, and I was totally one of those guys who felt like...Why is Mike angry at me?You can read the whole interview on IO. Digital Resistance is out now via Metal Blade. Stream a song below.
I don't think I was particularly angry. Maybe it came off that way, but that wasn't how I wrote it. People really had a strong reaction to it. I thought it was bizarre. The whole thing is very amusing, first off. I don't take it very seriously. It's fine if other people take it seriously, but I would hope that people have other things to be serious about, other than some weird guy's opinion on heavy metal. That's what blew me away; why is my opinion so important? I don't think it is at all. The thing got on NPR. Somehow I saw that, I got phone calls about my column bering reprinted on NPR. Cosmo told me it got more comments than anything on there before, or something similar to that, which blew my mind. What I realize looking back is I don't read much stuff like that. I barely read any heavy metal blogs or websites. So you've got to realize I came into it with no fucking idea what the whole standard or climate is. I have no idea, no clue. I was just saying what I'd say to someone in person. It's not journalism. It's just me telling my opinions the way I would shoot the shit with friends. I mean, I understand people's reaction. This is music you love and I'm sitting here bashing it, but I'm just baffled by that kind of music. I just don't get it.
But really, what happened was that Cosmo came to me -- and I had never even heard of Invisible Oranges. I didn't know Pitchfork at that time. So, I got this email asking to write something for this online magazine about contemporary metal, and I said pretty much verbatim, "I'm flattered but I don't really know if you want me to. I don't have anything good to say about contemporary metal." And he said, "Just talk about that, then, I'd like that." So I did, and people asked, "Why would Scalzi publish this on a site that covers extreme metal?" I had no fucking idea. [laughs]
February 28, 2014
By Doug Moore
Coffinworm at Power of the Riff East, 2012 (more by Greg Cristman)
Metal is full of unlikely success stories, and Indianapolis's Coffinworm are among them. This reclusive band virtually never tours (though they are fond of one-off visits to NYC); they play a head-spinning amalgam of virtually every extreme metal style; and with song titles like "Spitting in Infinity's Asshole," you can tell right away that the subject matter is unpleasant, to say the least. And yet this band has built a sizeable international following -- their upcoming second album IV.I.VIII., which comes out on 3/18 via Profound Lore, is hotly anticipated. You can stream one of its tracks, "Black Tears," over at Pitchfork.
We interviewed Coffinworm vocalist Dave Britts over at Invisible Oranges as part of our ongoing series about harsh vocalists. Here's an excerpt:
What new things do you feel like you've done on the new Coffinworm record?You can read the full interview over at IO. Listen to the first single from IV.I.VIII., "Lust Vs. Vengeance," and an older Coffinworm jam below...
For starters, almost all of the lyrics were written in the studio over the course of the two sessions. Some really serious stuff happened to me personally just before we recorded. When I looked at what I had written previously for the album at the time, it all seemed very, very fake. It seemed like it was written by a different person for a different band, a thousand fucking years ago. It just seemed irrelevant. I tore the lyrics out of my lyric book, which I don't normally do, and destroyed them. We had already recorded "Instant Death Syndrome" for the split with Fistula, so I already had that. But otherwise, I had my work cut out for me, since I'm ordinarily very meticulous. I like to take time to really approach it like I'm writing a book or something. But this time, I had to come up with everything on the spot. We had a week where we recorded, then a week off, and then another week where we recorded, and that was it. Before that, my lyrics had always been written over long periods -- years, in some cases. So that was a huge change.
I don't know the fuck I'll ever top that record. I don't have any children and I'm not married; when I listen to it, I imagine that it's what giving birth to your first child must be like. I felt extremely proud of the first record, and I didn't think we'd ever top that one. Frankly, it's a minor fucking miracle that we even did a second record. With all the shit we've been through as a band and as people -- I don't know how the fuck I'll ever top that second record.
February 21, 2014
The Hold Steady's Tad Kubler (in 2008) (more by Chris La Putt)
Brooklyn's own rock prophets, The Hold Steady, recently played another sold out hometown show at Music Hall of Williamsburg. The critically lauded quartet will release their sixth album, Teeth Dreams (Washington Square) on March 25. Two of its songs are already streaming online. It's a new step for the band both from a label perspective (they were previously on Vagrant) and from a creative one as well. The band's last full-length release was 2010's Heaven is Whenever, providing the longest duration between albums since The Hold Steady's inception. BrooklynVegan spoke to guitarist and founding member Tad Kubler about the new record, the pros and cons of playing Brooklyn, and the band's PledgeMusic Campaign.
BV: With Teeth Dreams coming up, this is the longest the Hold Steady has gone between albums. What's the direction like for you guys on the new record?
Tad: I don't think it's radically a different direction. I think with every new record, one of the goals I always have is to try to be more musical. You try to write better songs. And when I say "better," I mean when you're playing music, there's something you stumble across occasionally, and you have some kind of emotional response to it. And when people hear something, they'll respond to it. I guess when I say "writing better songs" it just means being more concise or something like that than having sort of self-indulgent stuff happening. There's some stuff obviously that you do because you enjoy it, it's fun, and you like doing it, and there are other things you do because you have a connection or reaction to it. Anybody that tries to do something creative or tries to grow as an artist - those are the moments you try to look for.
February 13, 2014
Mogwai's Barry Burns @ Bonnaroo (more by Dana 'Distortion' Yavin)
Having released their eighth full length last month with Rave Tapes, Glasgow's post-rock kings, Mogwai, have time and again shown themselves to be a band unhindered by demand or anticipation. Theirs is a kind of creative elasticity that's allowed them to move comfortably both within and without of any particular sound with which they might be associated. From soundtracks to punk to post-rock minimalism (to scotch), Mogwai's sound has continually and thankfully been difficult to corner, and it's a characteristic that continues to guide its five members well into what will soon be the twentieth anniversary for the band. BrooklynVegan reached out to Barry Burns (guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals) of Mogwai to talk about Rave Tapes, the band's influences, and what the secret to band longevity is.
BV: You guys have a story that goes back to 1991. In the twenty-three years since that time how have you seen yourselves evolve both personally and artistically? What's the journey been like for you guys, and what have you learned along the way?
Barry: Actually only since 1995 but that's still a long time to be doing this for a job. I joined in '98 for the 2nd album and we've really kind of grown up together, spending terrifying amounts of our time on buses, planes and stages. We've learned how to "be in a band" and we're still learning new things since self-releasing our music a few years back, there's been a lot of trial and error. On the whole, the experience has been incredible, from watching the entire record industry crumble to getting to play very unusual places around the planet and then being asked to score soundtracks for films or TV. We're lucky, but we work hard too.
February 6, 2014
Having began his musical career at the age of eleven on his father's 1974 album Walls and Bridges, Julian Lennon has the unique and at the same time daunting privilege of bearing the name and legacy of one of music's most profound and influential voices. Complexities abound with any discussion involving Julian's relationship to his father, yet through all manner of rhetoric that might be employed in those same conversations, his own undeniable merit as an artist, photographer, and philanthropist have cemented a place outside the oftentimes dark shadow of the man he called "dad." History is fickle enough concerning those cultural icons we value, with nostalgia and retrospect often becoming irreversibly blurred once those same individuals are no longer with us. For Julian Lennon, the fact that his art and namesake are invariably intertwined is a source of comfort and one that propels him to utilize memory not only for his own sense of pride but for the millions worldwide who see that legacy as one that's synonymous with hope and the possibility of peace.
This Friday (2/7) the Morrison Hotel Gallery will open a photography exhibit commemorating the 'Golden Anniversary of the Year America Met the Beatles', curated by Julian. The exhibit, running concurrently in NYC and West Hollywood, will feature photos of the band, several of which have never before been seen by the public.
With last year's Everything Changes, Julian's first solo release in thirteen years, and then the upcoming anniversary of the Beatles' American debut, Lennon's artistic output is as impressive as ever and one that presently finds him in a place of reflection for the past and, more importantly, anticipation for what lies ahead.
BV: Tell me a little about the background for your exhibit at the Morrison Hotel Gallery that's celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles coming to America.
Julian: It's a little roundabout, but how this came about was the fact that we knew the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles was coming up, specifically with the Ed Sullivan show. The whole Grammys thing was coming up, and then there was the whole performance and that. It was all a bit much, and all a bit too shiny for me. [Laughs] Maybe that's not the preferred word, but it was all a bit too much for me. It was actually very difficult to even get a sense of...in all honesty, it was like trying to get blood from a stone in who was playing what, who was singing what, what went where and how. After a long chat with mum and a few other folks, I just said "You know, it's all a bit too much. I'd rather just stay out of it and wish everybody well and send my love." Prior to that, Timothy White, who is one of my dearest friends, who was the bugger that got me into photography in the first place [laughs], and who is the man who curated my first exhibition as well in New York at the Morrison Hotel Gallery - he's now part of the Morrison Hotel Gallery group, so I've done...I can't even remember, to be honest with you, how many exhibitions I've done with them now. It must've been anywhere between three and five last year alone. One way or another, whether it was the one in Miami, the gallery in LA, or New York. I'm involved a lot with them, and they've looked after me, and I've looked after them. Anyway, Timothy came to me and just said "Listen, it seems you're more aligned with photography these days. I mean, you still do music, yes, and all the other stuff, but your passion is really photography. What about taking a look and curating some beautiful old pictures of your dad and the Beatles - some of which have never been seen before? How about that? Would you consider that?" And I thought that was certainly a different approach than most people would say or think that I'd do under the circumstance, really. The likelihood is that they're expecting me to be at the Grammys and do everything else. I loved this idea, and the moment I was able to see even a few of the images that I'd never seen before, I just fell in love with the idea of doing it. One thing led to another, and I was bombarded with hundreds of Beatles pictures that I'd never seen before. It was very, very difficult, I've gotta say, trying to decide which ones would be the most appropriate for this occasion. For me, I looked at it as a son. I looked at it as an artist and as a photographer, too. I just wanted to find images that I could clearly read their emotions on their faces - that you knew you felt exactly what they were going through at any particular point in time with these photographs. I think I've managed to do that. Initially they were going for twenty five shots, and I said "You can't do twenty five on their fiftieth anniversary. You've gotta do fifty." [Laughs] We eventually locked it down, and I think there's a great selection of stuff, and some people may have seen a couple before or seen similar shots, but to me they're all pretty unique and pretty individual and really quite special. It's definitely a time and a place and definitely an emotion that you can relate to.
January 8, 2014
Pixie David Lovering @ Bowery Ballroom (more by Dana (distortion) Yavin)
Having released their second EP in under a year (the unceremoniously titled EP-2 just last week), the Pixies have wasted no time in calling up their creative forces. It's likely a welcome relief for the band to have some news that doesn't include the words "bassist," "revolving," or some permutation of "Kim" in the headline. While rock fandom often (read: justifiably) associates comebacks or band reunions with the tinny sounds of a cash register, this interview with drummer and founding member David Lovering suggests a band that, without regard for their incomparable influence and popularity, simply wanted to get back together and play.
What was the thought process behind you guys getting back together, making new music, and going back out on the road?
David Lovering: I think it all began basically as a little rumor or something like that. Because when the Pixies broke up years ago I would have never thought we'd get back together. If you'd told me we'd get back together I would just laugh at you, you know [laughs]? It was just impossible. Then I think Charles [aka Black Francis] said something on radio, some interview, this was years ago in the UK, and that kind of got thrown out and all of a sudden it just made him maybe think twice about it. So Charles had called Joe, and Joe had said "Hey, what do you think? Let's get back together," and then I got the call and then Kim got board, and we all got back together. I don't know if it was a financial impetus or whatever, but it just seemed time was right, and we had been gone a long time. It just seemed like the fun thing and the right thing to do.
Since you guys first formed in the mid 80s the music industry has gone through what's arguably its biggest change. How have you as an artist seen that change since you initially helped form The Pixies?
David Lovering: Well, it's interesting. It's a completely different ballgame with new material now. It is the digital age, and everything is just song-by-song rather than an album. You also know that when an album is released it only has a seven - or I think it's like a three or so week shelf life on it, so that's just the way everything is going. To us it's all brand new. I gotta say we're lucky that we have management that's much smarter than us and can really handle these things. They've got it going where we have everything like a big email list, a database, we're able to put things out on EPs now with the way we're doing it. It's working fine, and I'm a bit surprised at how it's working for us. Again, it's none of my efforts. It's all management and everyone who had the greater powers to do all this, so I'm quite amazed at it.
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].