Recent Posts in interviews
October 16, 2014
Ariel Pink @ Baby's All Right 10/2/2014 (via @deeaannaaa)
Ariel Pink may have dropped the "Haunted Graffiti" from his name but remains resolutely idiosyncratic on his new double album opus, pom pom. At times chaotic, somehow Ariel pulls it all together in a manner only he would. Fusing what feels like multiple songs together into one coherent thing seems like a huge pain in the ass but here we have Ariel referencing everything from Devo-like lunacy to the drama of King Diamond to the earworm madness of commercial jingles. Some brains just work that way.
Ariel was in NYC earlier this month for a beyond-packed, scene-of-all-scenes, post-midnight show at Baby's All Right. Though Madonna was nowhere to be found, the audience was a crazy who's who of Brooklyn music, best represented by the trio of DJs for the night: Pitchfork's Ryan Schreiber, 285 Kent/Palisades/Webster Hall booker Ric Leichtung and Baby's' own Billy Jones (who was also celebrating a birthday that night). Sky Ferreira, Mac DeMarco, members of Real Estate, John Norris and Marnie the Dog were just a few of the familiar faces who came out to see Mr. Pink and drink Pink Babies at the intimate Williamsburg show. Featuring mostly songs off the new album, the late late late set showed off the breadth of his vision, from the totally out-there "Dinosaur Carebears" to album-closing highlight "Dayzed Inn Daydreams."
Ariel was still or back in NYC because apparently he just visited the kids of PS 22 in Staten Island to play some songs with them (they famously covered him a few years ago). Stay tuned for the video of that to surface.
One day before the Baby's show, BrooklynVegan interviewer Jessica Pilot visited Ariel Pink at his hotel. Here is their conversation...
Jessica: Are there any stories behind any of the new tracks that you might want to share that might be interesting to tell?
Ariel: You're making me think way too hard already. [laughs] I mean they all have their own stories.
Jessica: Is there one in particular that you think would make a cool story?
Ariel: Let me think about it for a second.
What's your favorite color?
Okay, easy: none. I don't have any favorite colors whatsoever. I've got a really long-winded explanation for it too. I'm colorblind, but that's not the reason. I'm one of the least artistically minded people you've ever met. I have no aesthetical preferences for anything.
Is that true?
It's the truth! Despite my wonderful wardrobe and attire, I actually have zero--it's only because people leave good clothes at my house that are very stylish themselves. I actually don't have a favorite color. I don't think in color.
September 24, 2014
'I grabbed hold of it, and the rhetoric of change was rock and roll, the platform for change was rock and roll, the desirability, the inevitability of change was rock and roll.'
Bob Geldof and The Boomtown Rats
Bob Geldof's legacy is a given. Whether with the humanitarian efforts of projects like Live Aid, Band Aid, and Live 8, or the musical endeavors of The Boomtown Rats and his own solo work, the honorary Knight of the British Empire has done more than offer a service to the entertainment industry. The 1980s saw Geldof's name become synonymous with philanthropic empathy that went far beyond the well-timed rhetoric of rock and roll's cause promotion. Geldof backed the attitude with something tangible and inspiring, bringing together events that raised awareness for those often ignored issues of worldwide poverty and famine. Talking to Geldof reveals a kind of casual dismissal of the work he's done as being anything more than a product of rock and roll's power or at least the power it once wielded. With upcoming Boomtown Rats shows this weekend in NYC and Boston, announced just months ago and months after the tragic death of his daughter Peaches (most likely not coincidental timing), Bob spoke with BrooklynVegan about the endearing simplicity and therapy that music still affords him and why he thinks music isn't the force it once was for change and progression.
BV: You've got these two Boomtown Rats shows coming up in New York and Boston. Obviously in the context of everything you've done both in the musical and in the humanitarian realm, reunion gigs seem almost like a no-brainer. What is it that continues to drive you now after all these years?
BG: Time is short. Curiosity. The road less traveled. I think those things. I mean, you know, in the course of this conversation you might say something that sort of piques my interest or I sort of ask you about it, and we go way off piece on the interview. Some people come out of that or something. That tends to be what happens, but the spine of it all - and I'm not trying to drag the conversation this way - but the spine of it all is music, because practically everything that happens spins off of that. I need to come back to the music thing, and I know this sounds completely ridiculous and cliché, but it's completely true. Last night we were playing in Cornwall at a festival there, tomorrow I'm going over to Missouri, and then coming back here to do another gig, and then going back to New York and Boston for those shows. Really you don't need to do that, not at this stage in the game, but I absolutely love it. Just beyond love it. It's a pure function - a necessary function for me. That function itself is incredibly cathartic if you've got a load of stuff going on in your head and in your life, and it works itself out whether in songs or on stage. There's two sort of parts of that. One's the solo stuff I do, and that's sort of internalized. I play the guitar, and I talk. The gigs kick off. And then the Rats, which is a different character like a sort of Bobby Boomtown comes out in a snakeskin suit and something else goes off. I know it's something a million rock and roll guys say, but it's absolutely true. I'd give up everything else, but I wouldn't give up that.
September 4, 2014
by Bill Pearis
As mentioned, Simian Mobile Disco will release their new album, Whorl, on Tuesday (9/9) via ANTI. The record was recorded live without laptops, and is a bit more proggy and less focused on club bangers than what SMD have done before. You may have already heard "Tangents" from the album and now you can check out the pulsing, slow-building "Nazard" which makes its premiere in this post via a trippy video. Watch that below.
The video actually gives you an idea of the visual element to Simian Mobile Disco's upcoming Whorl tour where they'll be playing the album in full much the same way the record was made. That tour hits NYC on September 21 at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Tickets are still available.
While getting ready for Whorl's release and the upcoming tour, Simian Mobile Disco were nice enough to answer a few questions via email. They talk Whorl, what happens when something goes wrong with delicate equipment, and what's up next. Read it, and check out the Nazard video, below...
August 21, 2014
Interpol, NYC, June 2014 (more by Dana (distortion) Yavin)
Next month will see the release of El Pintor, the fifth full-length from Interpol. Since their debut with 2002's acclaimed Turn on the Bright Lights, Interpol have continued to explore the depth of their music - a veritable force of sound that varies between the detached misanthropy of bands like Joy Division and those punk compositional textures of bands like Fugazi. While maturation can be a difficult thing to come by in the realm of initial popularity, Interpol have not let the success of their debut be a place of creative satisfaction. Even twelve years after their breakout, Interpol sound as ambitious as ever. BrooklynVegan spoke to Daniel Kessler (guitars/vocals) about the band's upcoming release and what their story has entailed so far.
It's been four years since the self-titled. Was there a different mindset for you guys coming into El Pintor just given that gap in time?
Daniel: We hadn't really discussed, in all honesty, "What are we gonna do" or "How are we gonna do this?" or "What's it gonna be like?" We really didn't. We just kinda got together in August 2012 and borrowed my friends in Battles' space for a few days and basically by day two Paul [Banks] was like "Maybe I should jump on the bass because I tend to sing the bass melodies pretty frequently, and it might help anchor the positions of the songs," and I was like "Cool." It was actually the first time we'd had any discussion about what we were gonna do bass wise for that record, and I had no idea what sort of bass player he really was. I knew he played bass on his record, but right away it was pretty clear. I was more enthused than anything. I'd say by day two or day three we had the formation of what are now a couple of songs on the record. Obviously it's not the songs on the record as far as arrangements, but we had a guitar and bass line and vocals, which we'd never really done that soon off the bat. Sam [Fogarino] flew down from Athens, and by the end of eight days we probably had three songs that were in pretty good shape, and we recorded it, and we really liked the construction, we liked what was happening energy-wise. We didn't really get together again after the last album until 2013 as far as writing goes, so we really wrote the whole record in 2013. It wasn't really, for me, until the very end that I started having a look at what kind of record we had made. During the writing process I knew that the songs had maybe an urgency to them, but I wasn't sort of analyzing anything while we were still in the game. It's like you're looking in from a step back. While we're in the middle of writing and all that, I'm just kind of more focused on what we're doing and logistics and when we're gonna get together again and stuff like that.
June 17, 2014
Slowdive back in the day...
Having left an indelible mark of influence on a multitude of bands and musicians since their initial breakup in 1995, Slowdive's reunion announcement earlier this year was more than welcomed by fans who'd discovered the band's remarkable shoegaze sound during its early 90s heyday and those new listeners who'd discovered the band well after their last release, Pygmalion. These new listeners come by way of a myriad of genres, not limited by any particular scene or sound, giving a broad picture of just how impactful Slowdive was and continues to be. Hearing the band's music even two decades later gives a striking sense of connectivity to bands on every side of the spectrum, from the experimental metal of Deafheaven to the psychedelic pop atmospherics of Deerhunter.
Founding member and vocalist/guitarist Neil Halstead, who we last talked to in 2008, immediately reveals a kind of quiet modesty concerning the band, satisfied to see Slowdive's story and eventual massive influence as something that simply fell into the band's lap. It's the kind of subdued quality and characteristic that's underlined Slowdive's music and those influenced by it, with a sound that seemingly builds the wealth of its power under a steady haze of melodic noise. With several festival appearances slated for this summer, the anticipation now points to what lies ahead for Slowdive. In our conversation with Halstead, the answer is not so much vague as it is deliberately positive and hopeful, with the vocalist/guitarist seeming as excited for the band's future in 2014 as he likely was over twenty years ago.
BV: I'm always interested to learn what initially brought a musician to their craft, and I'm curious as to what that was like for you personally, Neil. Was there a specific band or song or sound that brought you to music in the first place and provided that initial creative spark for you where you knew that this was something you had to do yourself?
Neil: I don't know. [Laughs] I mean, for me, I suppose - just I was super influenced by bands specifically like Jesus and the Mary Chain, The Cure, and I guess the Byrds, The Beatles, and stuff like that. I think that my interest in music was seeing The Beatles documentary when I was about eleven years old and just being like "Shit, that looks like fun," then, the next day, trying to get my dad to buy me a guitar so I could learn that. I don't know if I ever reached that point where I felt like "Oh, this is the thing I do." I still don't know if I feel like that, to be honest. Slowdive, we kind of got a record deal by accident as we'd really not done a lot of gigs or anything. We were sort of quite lucky in that we just so happened to be in the right place at the right time. And we were all quite young, and I suppose it was - we were all just obviously super obsessed with music and Creation, the label that we signed to, had a bunch of our favorite bands on them. I think all of us felt that we were extremely lucky to do it, and it was something that we were totally into, I think back then. I suppose, for me, personally, you reach a certain point in playing music and you sort of actually realize "I'm sort of really useless at doing anything else." [Laughs] It's not like how you can change a career. I've always really loved doing it, and I'm sort of lucky because I've been able to do it for quite a while now. But I never felt like it was a calling.
May 13, 2014
"I've got better moves than Mick Jagger, or at least I used to," - Robert Pollard
jump shot @ Riot Fest Chicago (more by Kirstie Shanley)
Robert Pollard is a rock star. Instead of having his autobiography written by TMZ or wielding some messianic delusion over his fans however, the frontman for the indelibly influential Guided By Voices has simply continued to make the music he wants in the way he wants as much as he wants. With this month's Cool Planet, Pollard has released twenty-two full-lengths with Guided By Voices since 1987. Add in the multiple EPs, collaborations, solo records, and other projects, and it's immediately apparent that creative inspiration is not in short supply for the singer. Adding to the prolific nature of that creativity is Pollard's unadorned perspective on the fame and respect he's garnered over the years from fans, critics, and fellow musicians alike. There's nothing overly simplistic about it being "just about the music" for Pollard, and that's precisely what continues to compel the singer who, upon approaching sixty, is as creatively vibrant and productive as he ever was with no end in sight. Guided By Voices will be touring throughout May and June, with a sold out Bowery Ballroom show on 5/23 and more dates to be announced soon too.
UPDATE: Three more NY-Area shows in July and August.
Going back to the Forever Since Breakfast EP and fast forwarding to now with the myriad of releases, both solo and with Guided By Voices, that have come since then, what's your perspective on that journey so far, and how have you seen yourself evolve both personally and musically in that time?
Robert: Hopefully I continue to improve as a songwriter, a person and a musician or artist. If there's no improvement, and I guess that's a subjective thing, I don't see any reason to continue. Obviously, by the sheer output of releases, I'm still having a good time. That's also very important.
Just as well known as your music itself has been the sheer amount you've produced over the last three decades. What was the initial creative catalyst for you in the beginning, and do you see yourself still engaging that source of inspiration even now with every new song you write?
I'm always pushing myself to come up with new techniques for creating art and writing songs. In the last couple of years I've actually developed a formula for writing songs, that's a little too involved for me to elaborate on right now. The initial catalyst for me to write songs, I think, was to be an active participant instead of just a passive listener. To hear more of what I really like by writing them myself.
May 8, 2014
This month will see the follow up to Owen Pallett's Heartland, the 2010 release that saw the artist formerly known as Final Fantasy forming a gorgeous and curiously unnerving collection of songs pairing lush orchestration against lyrical themes of mental isolation and self-doubt. For In Conflict (Domino/Secret City), Pallett's compositions are no less complex but now find the experimental composer giving focus to the benefit of dissonance and the abrasion of sound. For a songwriter whose music and exploration with sound already has the proclivity for expansion in the auditory space, Pallett is at his absolute best within those deliberately muted and subdued moments just before the eruption. Brooklyn Vegan reached out to Pallett to discuss the new record, his recent pop music commentaries, and his thoughts on music criticism in 2014. Owen Pallett is touring with Doldrums this month, two NYC shows included.
My first question just concerns your relationship with music and where you were when music first found you, Owen. When was that moment for you when you knew that creating music was something you absolutely had to do?
Owen: There's kind of two answers to that. My entire life, it's been me realizing over and over again that I'm much more comfortable working with musical material than I am with verbal information. [Laughs] I just feel much more at home in dealing with sound than with text or with speech, but I certainly from age three or whatever, I was jamming Bach and Pachelbel and in an obsessive way. But the sort of second moment was the real moment when there was the transition from being a music appreciator into being a professional musician, and that happened much later when I was twenty-four, I guess. That's when I was working for a radio program, and I had been offered these tours that I didn't want to do because I was committed to my job working for the radio, and I didn't want to take these tours, but they effectively, when they heard about it, told me to go do it. They were thinking with more clarity than I was about what was best for me, but also it was kind of a vote of confidence in what I was doing having my boss say, "No, take the time off work. You should really go do this tour."
May 1, 2014
Future Islands in Austin (more by Sarah Frankie Linder)
2014 has been kind to North Carolina's Future Islands, but be sure to recognize where credit is due for the band's success. Few would argue that in the viral age that often gives musicians a shelf life of "until the next distraction", that an otherwise unassuming band might buckle under the pressure. But this is nothing new for Future Islands, whose members have been writing together, touring together, and working together to simply make the music they want in the way that they want for the audience they need. Their fourth full-length, Singles, has seen the band appear on just about everyone's radar, and while their hugely popular performance on Letterman certainly helped in every possible, it simply spotlighted what fans have known for the past decade about Future Islands and their proclivity for creating the simple but no less invaluable joy that comes from pop.
Tonight (5/1) you can stream the band's performance from the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC live via NPR. Last night Future Islands headlined and sold out their biggest NYC show to date at Webster Hall. We recently caught them in Austin, at Coachella, in Portland, in Chicago, and at the start of the tour in NYC at Bowery Ballroom.
We caught up with the band ---Gerrit Welmers, William Cashion, and frontman Samuel Herring---for an interview before their show last week at the Bottletree Café in Birmingham, Alabama, to talk about the shockwaves of going viral, the new album, and where the music started.
You guys are mid tour. What's been the response from audiences so far with where you guys are currently?
SH: We're in the middle of about ten weeks of straight touring. We've got six shows left on this run, and then we have a couple of days off back in Baltimore. Then we fly to the West Coast to do Jimmy Kimmel, and then immediately fly from there to London to start a month and a half Euro and UK tour. Things have been good. Most of all these shows have sold out. I think we would have had a lot of sellouts in the big cities we've been playing for in years, but being able to play a lot of smaller cities and see huge turnout has been really awesome. A lot of people are being turned on to our music for the first time and coming out, and that's always been the hope with the new record. It's been two and a half years since we put out our last album, and then we took all of last year off, so we were kind of hoping this record would explode out on people. We were able to work with 4AD for the first time, and they've been amazing, so yeah, everything's been going really good.
April 29, 2014
by Bill Pearis
Luke Haines has a long and impressive musical resume, having been in a number of notable bands over the last 30 years (C86 indiepop band The Servants in the '80s, the Kinks-y group The Auteurs in the '90s, and frostbit synthpop trio Black Box Recorder), and a few high concept one-offs (Baader Meinhof, The North Sea Scrolls). Over the last decade, Haines has been especially prolific, with a string of solo albums, including his "Psychedelic Trilogy" that began with 2011's 9½ Psychedelic Meditations on British Wrestling of the 1970s and early '80s, continued with last year's Rock and Roll Animals and will conclude with new album New York in the '70s that will be released May 19 via Cherry Red. (Stream a couple tracks below.) He's also released two highly entertaining memoirs, the first of which, Bad Vibes: Britpop and My Part in Its Downfall, is especially recommended. If there's a thread running through his many projects, it's Haines' understated acerbic (often pitch black) wit -- that, and they're all pretty much worth checking out.
Haines is best known in America for his work with The Auteurs, whose albums spawned a few college radio / 120 Minutes hits (including "Show Girl," and "Lenny Valentino") which the band toured here for a few times. Along with his new album, The Auteurs' underrated catalog is getting the expanded reissue treatment. 1993's terrific debut, New Wave was released earlier this year, and the three remaining albums -- 1994's overdriven Now I'm a Cowboy, 1996's Steve Albini-produced After Murder Park, and 1999's glammy How I Learned to Love The Bootboys -- will be out in June. A reissue of 1996's Baader Meinhof, essentially a solo concept album about the German terrorist organization The Red Army Faction, is out now too. And Captured Tracks reissued The Servants albums last year.
Haines, who's also working on a few art projects (one being an opera about Mark E. Smith of The Fall!), took time out of his very busy schedule to talk about the new solo album, the Auteurs reissues, Britpop, the mythology of NYC and more. Read it, and check out a few tracks from New York in the '70s, as well as some Auteurs material, below...
April 15, 2014
by Andrew Sacher
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...