Recent Posts in interviews

April 15, 2014

by Andrew Sacher

Menzingers

The Menzingers will release their fourth album, Rented World, next week (4/22) via Epitaph (pre-order), and after revealing singles "In Remission" and "I Don't Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore," they've now made the whole album available to stream. The new album has some more studio shine than their past material (they worked with engineer Jon Low, who normally works with non-punk musicians like Kurt Vile and The National), but there's more aggression in the songs too. Many of them favor big, heavy '90s grunge riffs over the pop punk of their last album. Their knack for Craig Finn-like storytelling still shows up too, like on album highlight "Nothing Feels Good Anymore": "I'm at the party in a cloud of nicotine exhaled by drunk twentysomethings / there's a couple arguing in the bathroom, some couple kids trying to get high." Listen to the new record, via Spin, below.

The band are also supporting the new album on a previously discussed tour with Lemuria, PUP and Cayetana which hits NYC for what will by far be their largest headlining show here yet on May 30 at Webster Hall. Tickets for that show are still available.

Ahead of the tour and album release, I cornered co-vocalist/guitarist Tom May and talked to him about their NYC shows, the new record and their thriving Philly scene (which includes tourmates Cayetana). You can check out the interview, with their list of tour dates and the album stream, below...

Continue reading "an interview with The Menzingers, who are streaming their new 'Rented World' LP (listen)"

April 14, 2014

words and photos by Joshua Ford

Sunn O)))
Sunn O)))

Upon his return home to Paris after the 2014 Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, TN (and after touching down on four continents in just four weeks, a NYC show at Baby's All Right included), Stephen O'Malley of Sunn O))), Nazoranai and countless other projects, graciously took some time to discuss his three performances at this exceptional U.S. festival with Joshua Ford.

Friday's lineup at Big Ears had O'Malley performing a solo set, focused on the volume/tone/drone aspects of his body of work most commonly associated with Sunn O))). On Saturday the festival reached critical mass at one o'clock am with O'Malley, Oren Ambarchi and Keiji Haino performing a smoldering improvisational set as Nazoranai (who play the Wick in Brooklyn on May 21). A scant nine hours later, at noon on Sunday, O'Malley and Ambarchi switched gears and performed two written compositions by modern composers Alvin Lucier and Iancu Dumitrescu.

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FORD: How did your involvement with Big Ears come about? Was it the plan from square one to have you be involved in that capacity, on multiple days, and have you play three sets?

SOMA: We got an offer for Nazoranai to play, but at the time we didn't have any other things going on in the states, so it would have been very expensive to fly everyone over. I'm American but I live in Paris; flying myself from Europe, Mr. Haino from Japan and Oren from Australia to play one show is pretty expensive. You know, it's to the advantage of the festival to try and get more out of it. We all play in different formations, we're up for that, and it gives a chance to stay for the weekend. It kind of blossomed from there, and I'm really glad that happened.

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Continue reading "an interview with Stephen O'Malley of Sunn O))) on playing solo, Nazoranai & more ++ pics from Big Ears Festival"

April 10, 2014

by Jonathan Dick

Stephen Malkmus @ Bowery Ballroom in Feb. (more by PSquared)
Malkmus

Whether it's "Independence Street" from this year's Jicks release Wig Out at Jagbags, or a jam like "Range Life" written some twenty years ago during the Pavement days, you know a Stephen Malkmus song when you hear it. The songwriter's mellowed out bari-tenor vocals are just as unmistakable as the abstract lyrics he's been writing now for well over two decades. While his lyrics float in some abstract cross-section of bizarro Americana, Malkmus has always been able to ground the absurdity in the roots of rock 'n roll at its most memorably unadorned. With Pavement, that kind of offhanded simplicity was jarring to an audience of the early 90s who at the same time were already witnessing another revolutionary catalyst for both pop and punk music just a little further north in Seattle. Now six albums deep into his work with The Jicks, that same simplicity is just as relevant and applicable to a listening culture that's changed much more drastically than any music over the timespan of his career. At forty-seven, Malkmus is in no hurry to wax retrospective just yet. The man is not far removed from his music as our conversation finds him carefully gauging his own thoughts in short bursts of curious introspection and an earnest kind of self-doubt devoid of the sort of self-involvement one might expect from one of the most respected and enigmatic songwriters of the last quarter century. None of that really concerns Malkmus, and once we'd performed the awkward formalities of introducing ourselves, it didn't concern me all that much either with the topic of our conversation quickly lending itself to a mutual fascination with how time and age affects our perception of music and art in all its forms, and, perhaps more importantly, what we can hope to learn about ourselves along the way.

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BV: From a creative standpoint, how have you seen your approach to songwriting and even music in general change since those high school punk band days, or has that kind of creative impetus largely stayed the same since then?

SM: It's hard to say. The original impetus, when I was doing the punk band, and I was writing our own songs, and having our own identity as a band - that's still there, I guess. I don't really know where it came from. It was fun like writing short stories when you were a kid or doing anything, just creating something. That still exists, but I suppose as time goes on, there's different achievements, and now it's like actually playing with a band or a little bit of working on textures and techniques and production and that kind of thing, I wouldn't have thought about that back then. It wasn't an issue. Those sort of style things - you don't really think about that when you're younger. You kind of just do it. Even in early Pavement stuff we had bands that we emulated, but we didn't really think about what it all meant quite as much when I was doing that. Things inevitably become more curatorial once you have the knowledge and the self-knowledge. It's inevitable and healthy as you get older.


What do you value most about creating music, and how have you seen that specifically evolve or change as you've gotten older?

Just to be surprised. Something may not seem surprising to the listener who's the critical one where it all makes sense how one thing's related to the thing that came before. It's not particularly radical changes, but for me it still is. When you have a germ of an idea that just starts in your house with you searching with the guitar, coming to believe in what you're doing, and then have it however it comes out at the end, and how you can alter that or make it go in a direction or the directions. You're led by what comes before all the time. The end result of making something - I still like that, or it still makes me happy to see it be successful. The process of doing it.

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Continue reading "an interview w/ Stephen Malkmus (on getting older, what "indie" is, the future of Pavement & more)"

March 14, 2014

Mutual Benefit @ Mercury Lounge, Feb. 2014 (more by Amanda Hatfield)
MB

Brooklyn resident Jordan Lee records under the moniker Mutual Benefit, making lush orch-folk as heard on 2013's gorgeous debut, Love's Crushing Diamond. Now fleshed-out as a band, Mutual Benefit will be busy this week with many appearances at SXSW, including the Friday (TODAY) BrooklynVegan free day party--they play at 1:30PM. While getting ready for that, Lee took time out to answer 5 QUESTIONS:

1) What is your favorite venue to play in the country and why?

Definitely this big outside stage in the middle of the Ozarks in Arkansas that used to be a secret queer club in the 80's but was recently found and re-started again by this group of young kids. Our show was cut short because a girl on psychedelics called the cops on herself and ended up getting tasered when she (perhaps rightfully) confused the police officer with a lizard person.

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more below...

Continue reading "5 Questions with: Mutual Benefit"

TPOBPAH @ Indie Pop Prom 2013 (more by Bruno Simões)
Pains

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are pretty consistent with their love for '80s and '90s indie, but they don't repeat themselves, and continue to navigate new territory on their upcoming third album, a quieter, poppier record than the Corgan riffs of 2011's Belong.

Folks attending SXSW this week can get an early taste of Days of Abandon (and TPOBPAH's new line-up) and their schedule includes the Saturday BrooklynVegan free BrooklynVegan day party. (For those that aren't, they'll be touring soon too.) Nice guy frontman Kip Berman, a genuine music lover, put some thought into our 5 QUESTIONS:

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1) What is your favorite venue to play in the country and why?

Kip: I'm not going to include NYC, because hometown shows are always super special. But the Bottletree Cafe in Birmingham, Alabama is incredible. They have these airstream trailers that serve as the "back stage" area, they feed bands good food, and everyone that works there is pretty awesome.

more below...

Continue reading "5 Questions with: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart"

Connan Mockasin @ Glasslands in January (more by P Squared)
Connan

As charming as he is eccentric, New Zealand's Connan Mockasin is the genuine article, whether making quirky guitar pop (2011's Forever Dolphin Love) or deep shag slow jams (last year's Caramel). He's even better live, and he'll be in Austin this week for SXSW (full schedule below), including the Saturday BrooklynVegan free day party. (For the rest of us, he's touring later this spring.) Leading up to this week's fun, Connan answered 5 QUESTIONS:

1) What is your favorite venue to play in the country and why?

St Morinteen is nice. it's just beautiful, truly beautiful!

more below...

Continue reading "5 Questions with: Connan Mockasin"

March 13, 2014

Proto

Detroit's Protomartyr have a sense of urgency and anger that could've sprouted from somewhere like Manchester or Cleveland in 1979. The band's new album, Under Color of Official Right, is a real ripper that evokes more than it cribs from the postpunk era.

One of our 50 Artists We're Excited to See at SXSW, we're pumped that Protomartyr will be playing the Saturday BrooklynVegan free day party, where they'll be on right before The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. The band's Joe Casey and Greg Ahee tackled our 5 QUESTIONS:

1) What is your favorite venue to play in the country and why?

Joe: Jumbo's in Detroit for the ambiance. When we play any place else with dropped particle board ceilings, I get wistful.

Greg: Anywhere with pinball.

more below...

Continue reading "5 Questions with: Protomartyr"

Ex Ex

Having spent time in Autoclave, Helium and, most recently, Wild Flag, Mary Timony has an impeccable indie rock CV. But her new project, Ex Hex, goes straight for the groin with '70s-style glammy power pop. Ex Hex's tour hits SXSW this week (full list of dates below), including the Saturday BrooklynVegan free day party with their Merge labelmates Wye Oak, Speedy Ortiz, and more. In between gigs, the band made time to answer our 5 QUESTIONS:

1) What is your favorite venue to play in the country and why?

Black cat in DC. We all grew up going to see shows there. It's where we learned about rock music!

more below...

Continue reading "5 Questions with: Ex Hex"

IMAGE

Wye Oak's new album, Shriek, is out next month and finds the Baltimore duo switching things up, with singer Jenn Wasner switching from guitar to bass, giving things a fresh feel. The band's tour starts in April but they'll be in Austin this week for SXSW where they'll play a number of shows (schedule below), the last of which is the Saturday BrooklynVegan free day party with The Hold Steady, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Speedy Ortiz and more. Wasner was kind enough to answer our 5 QUESTIONS:

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1) What would your metal band name be?

JW: Decapitated Fuck.

2) Be honest: how often do you change your clothes on tour?

Never.

more below...

Continue reading "5 Questions with: Wye Oak"

the-blind-shake-band

Minneapolis noisemakers The Blind Shake welcomed their newest effort, Key to a False Door, in September of 2013 via Thee Oh Sees head honcho John Dwyer's Castle Face Records. They've been touring hard in support of the LP--including a stacked fall '13 run with Thee Oh Sees and Austin's own OBN IIIs--and will be in Austin, TX this week to deliver some scorching performances at SXSW. One of their many shows this week (full schedule below) is the free BrooklynVegan Friday day party with Parquet Courts, Beth Israel, La Femme, and many more. Meanwhile, we trapped The Blind Shake's Jim Blaha and asked him 5 QUESTIONS:

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1) What is your favorite venue to play in the country (or world) and why?

JB: The Empty Bottle in Chicago has always treated us great. Very good veggie burgers next door and the whole staff are super sweet people. Great sound every time too.

more below...

Continue reading "5 Questions with: The Blind Shake"

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