Recent Posts in interviews
October 6, 2015
"We're sitting on a fucking monster, man," says legendary Killing Joke frontman Jaz Coleman from somewhere in Europe. While musicians tend to boast around new albums, Coleman and his bandmates (guitarist Geordie, bassist Youth and drummer Paul Ferguson) - the original lineup that recorded the first Killing Joke album - continue to back big proclamations with albums befitting of their nearly four-decade history. Pylon, due October 23, is no exception; it builds on the Killing Joke legacy of beauty meeting anger meeting mysticism. The band was so inspired that they wrote 15 tracks; five were moved to a bonus disc but Coleman insists they are part of the album, not an afterthought. Killing Joke plans to return to the United States for their first tour in three years this coming January. Coleman talked to us about Pylon, technocracy and the power of human connection.
BV: It's not that I didn't enjoy the last record (MMXII), but Pylon seems to have a greater sense of urgency like your comeback record more than 10 years ago. Did you feel a greater sense of urgency?
Coleman: That's an interesting analogy to the 2003 record. But yes, it felt like a similar sort of cycle, especially because we put Paul's drums on last like we did with Dave (Grohl's) drums. I've had a fucking bleak year. When you are in your 50s, people die around you. One of those deaths was a suicide close to my family. I don't know why Killing Joke recordings need to be traumatic, but they always are. The background to this record is a year of austerity. When you don't do concerts, you don't earn a great deal of money. I've also been going to Russia to work with the St. Petersburg Orchestra. That's a different kind of bleakness. So it's been a dark year, especially observing what's going on in the world. It's hard not to get depressed and sometimes the only thing that lifts me is seeing the guys from the band. We use music as a way to process everything in the world.
I do think we did this album the right way. Youth would come in every few weeks and work with Geordie and me. When I start a piece of work, I always share a theme with Paul and then he goes and writes. Then, I try to synthesize. Paul has this quality - this ability to write the same way I do.
September 28, 2015
interview by Shahryar Rizvi
Last month, Ghost released their third album Meliora, another dose of poppy occult rock that was a little heavier on the riffage than their last one. Strangely enough, they decided to celebrate it with some acoustic release shows (including Rough Trade NYC in August) but they're also now on a proper full-band tour which returned to NYC last night (9/27) at Terminal 5.
We caught up with one of the band's Nameless Ghouls not long after they arrived in the U.S. (their "new" frontman Papa Emeritus III doesn't tend to give interviews) and talked about the new album, those acoustic shows, Snoop Dogg, Satan, Pope Francis, Dave Grohl, Alice In Chains and the people who question just how metal Ghost really is. Read on...
Your latest album Meliora is still on the charts after a month, how does the band feel about their success?
Nameless Ghoul: We feel great, but y'know, humbled because as much as we love what we do, we're not exactly certain that everyone else will time after time. So we're happy. We're trying - no we're not just trying, we're fuckin' working our asses off having our feet still on the ground. It's not so hard because we have masks on and looking at it from the side angle, so yeah.
September 23, 2015
On his eleventh studio album, Poison Season, Destroyer's Dan Bejar has moved beyond the quiet confrontation of 2011's Kaputt and into a musical realm more orchestral and far-reaching. That's not to imply that the Canadian singer-songwriter and reluctant indie tastemaker has embraced a newfound love for tawdry composition. It certainly suggests, though, that Bejar's creative inclinations have rarely if ever remained fixated on any one path to the music. Having created music as Destroyer since 1995, Bejar is understandably averse to the attitude of pop culture immediacy that assumes impact is equal to investment in one's art form. In a way similar to that of his just as notably talented bandmates in indie pop supergroup The New Pornographers, Bejar is content to let the music go where it will, allowing him to be a sort of vehicle for whatever destination great or small it may lead. It's a topic he and I discussed at length in a recent conversation in anticipation of his current tour with Jennifer Castle that hits Webster Hall on October 4.
Poison Season is very much a departure from Kaputt just in terms of the instrumentation that's involved and the altogether broader sound. Was that shift something deliberate on your part?
I don't think it was a deliberate move, though I agree with your reading of what it sounds like. I think the main thing is that I've never tried to start from scratch. If you look inside the records you'll see that there are tons of overlaps as far as the actual music making goes and as far as my songwriting goes. I feel like it's kind of more etched in stone than probably 99% of other songs out there, I mean, to a fault. If anything, it's like: Oh fuck, this really stands out me being myself, or here's me being me again. I don't think that changes too much. I guess in the postproduction, which is pretty elastic, I agree that sonically speaking, Poison Season and Kaputt couldn't be more different, but that's just like a world of weaver plugins and EQs and a certain approach to compression, which just got ignored in favor of classic 70s hardware and fancy microphones and a fancy recording space and the sound of a bunch of people playing in a room together. I don't think we were lampooning anything at the time, but when you listen to it now, the record that I did that came out in 2004 called Your Blues - I don't know, you can see the seeds of it. Even its use of a bunch of midi orchestral sounds, which sound like an orchestra really to anyone but me. The general feel of it is basically like a carbon copy or a blueprint of what we sounded like on stage in 2012. That was really a hyped tour and like the one in 2011, which was more of a Kaputt cover band tour, played more into Destroyer sounds, I guess. But anyone who saw those shows is going to listen to Poison Season and not blink an eye. It's like, oh I see, you guys went out and made a record. I think the one thing was this approach to strings and maybe an approach to the woodwind arrangement, which is faster but also has kind of a classical American film score style arrangements or something like jazz arrangements as opposed to just having Joseph shred all over the record like he did for Kaputt. But the instincts in Poison Season, you could find them on being used on any of the Destroyer albums.
September 11, 2015
by Bill Pearis
details of a NYC new album listening party are also below...
New Order's Music Complete is out September 25 and it marks a number of firsts. It's the first album without bassist Peter Hook, and their first for new label, Mute Records. It's also the first album in 14 years to feature original member Gillian Gilbert. Married to drummer Stephen Morris (they have made music together as The Other Two), Gilbert dropped out of the band during the making of 2001's Get Ready to care for their daughter. When the band, minus Hook (who acrimoniously left the band in the late-'00s), reformed for benefit gigs in 2011, Gilbert rejoined. (That lineup toured North America in 2013.) Her return also marks a return to the dancefloor for New Order, as Music Complete is loaded with the sparking synthpop that marked some of their best-loved songs. At 65 minutes, it's also their longest studio album to date.
Mute has kept a tight lid on Music Complete, save for first single "Restless," but folks in NYC can hear it a day early at a listening party on September 24 at Donna. In addition to playing the album in full, you can buy the vinyl that night and there will be New Order-themed cocktails. It's free (21+) but capacity is limited.
Taking time out from band rehearsals at her and Morris'farmhouse/studio in Cheshire, Gillian Gilbert talked to us about being back in New Order, tour plans, the band's songwriting process, why "you can't beat a bit of cheese" and lots more.
BV: So what are you up to today? All interviews like this?
Gillian: No, we're at our home, rehearsing in our studio all day. We just finished, so winding down now.
How are the rehearsals going?
They're going very well! We just started this week because we've got a live radio show that we're doing for the BBC. That's in three weeks. We've not played together for a year, so it's pretty strange learning everything again. It's like, "Oh my god..." [Laughs].
Not only relearning old songs but trying to figure out how to play your new songs live.
I know, yeah. We've got three favorites so we're trying to learn those. It's going down OK.
September 8, 2015
"People ask if we're gonna do another album. I don't know if we're gonna do that."
One of the Grunge Era's most notoriously confrontational and outstanding acts is back on tour and preparing a documentary of the reunion. We recently caught them at Riot Fest in Denver, and they'll be playing the first of two NYC shows tonight (9/8 at Irving Plaza, and then it's 9/9 at Warsaw). Hellacious and just as heavy, L7's legacy is familiar to many bands that hailed from the West Coast's early 90's offering of angst and post-baby boomer generation's utter disillusionment with society in general. For vocalist/guitarist Donita Sparks, the reunion is a recognizable place for the group but also one that brings along with it some humbling and amazing new developments. In a recent conversation, Sparks spoke of the band's reunion and why timing is everything.
BV: What was it that made this the right time for you guys to get back together and do these shows after all this time?
Donita: I don't know if it was the right time. It was probably the wrong time because so many other bands are reuniting at this time. [Laughs.] Sometimes we get lumped in with other bands, but this really couldn't have happened for us before this time. We've had health problems in the band. We've had some of us taking care of elderly parents. So this is really the only time that this could've happened for us. It just so happened that when I called everybody about a year ago and just said, "Hey, is this something you would even be slightly interested in," I got the go ahead from some of us, but Suzi [Gardner] needed time to think about it. So I told her that I needed an answer in about six months, because they had to start booking stuff, and she said yes. But it took a while because she hadn't touched her guitar in about fourteen years or something. It had just been under her bed. [Laughs.] So it wasn't just a matter of hey, do we wanna do this. It was more of us saying, "Can we do this? Is it even possible?" So yeah, here we are.
Just in the brief time you've been back at this and prepping for the tour, have you noticed significant changes in music culture and even the industry that weren't really there seventeen years ago?
Donita: Well, when we disbanded, our popularity had seriously waned, and it was really just the diehard fans that stuck with us, which we're thankful for. Now we're seeing people our age and really young teenagers at these shows just going apeshit. What's so cool is that I think the social media aspect has turned all these kids on to us. Our diehard fans had been posting stuff on YouTube like interviews, songs, and it really kept us alive even though we felt we'd been forgotten about by the media sort of like our legacy was buried by other sort of spokespeople of the era. The fans were so amazing that they kind of archived us digitally for years in our absence, because we weren't doing it. And then certainly through this Facebook page we've had for about a year-and-a-half, the numbers just grew and grew as I was posting things that I was already digitizing for the documentary. The fans were really the catalyst for this. We're not on a record label. We sort of have a manager but it's really more of an acting manager. There's no machine behind this. [Laughs.] It's just us. We're playing to bigger crowds than possibly we ever had at our peak. This seems bigger somehow. It's pretty wild, but who knows how long it will last. [Laughs.]
August 17, 2015
by Andrew Sacher
photo: Lucero at Riot Fest Chicago 2014 (more by James Richards IV)
Lucero will release their new album All A Man Should Do on September 18 via ATO. After two of the band's biggest-sounding horn-filled records, much of the new one sees them returning to a softer sound. It's actually the first album in their 15+ year career where frontman Ben Nichols played only acoustic guitar. We already posted first single "Went Looking For Warren Zevon's Los Angeles," which is a great example of that softer/acoustic sound, though new single "Can't You Hear Them Howl" brings the horns back and more closely recalls the last two records. Listen to that one below.
I recently spoke with Ben about the new record, their upcoming Sailor Jerry-presented tour, looking back on lyrics he wrote 15 years ago, True Detective, the unlikely Lucero sample A$AP Rocky used on his new album, and more. You can read that interview below.
The band's tour hits NYC on October 8 at Webster Hall. Tickets for that show are still available. All dates are listed below.
April 16, 2015
LA producer Shlohmo is currently out on a headlining tour in support of his new album Dark Red. The album was a split release with the Matador Records-owned True Panther and Shlohmo's own label WEDIDIT. That tour, with WEDIDIT labelmates Purple and Nick Melons, hit Irving Plaza in NYC on Saturday (4/11). FACT was there and wrote, "Shlohmo and his live band hit the stage bringing a longing gothic romance punctuated by chunky rhythms and melancholy guitar, exhibiting the same energy we heard on his brand new album". We caught up with Shlohmo ahead of his Friday Chicago show, to discuss life on the road, running a label, hip hop, metal, Flying Lotus, future and past collaborations and more.
BV: Congrats on the release of the new album, how's the tour so far? Any stories?
Shlohmo: Oh man, a few things! The first show we did was at SXSW. We played two shows there, the first was at Fader Fort and then the second one-- we did a WEDIDIT showcase (our label). This blacked out girl just jumped up on stage and fell onto a stack of DI inputs. *laughs* Her hands just went only on the DI inputs and pushed them all over and I almost had to throw her off stage. but I composed myself and said "excuse me, can you please leave?" So that was like our second show. That almost got ruined by a drunk girl. Besides that, most of the shows have been pretty good. Nothing too crazy! We've had like three or four tour managers so far on this tour. That's probably the funniest part.
BV: Why so many?
Shlohmo: [laughs] problems, we'll just leave it at that.
BV: You started your label/collective WEDIDIT when you were still in high school, can you tell us a little about that?
Shlohmo: Basically it was me and group of friends. We went to high school together. LA is kind of funny, there's five to ten high schools from which everyone knows each other from. We had a group of friends from all these different schools and everyone we were friends with was kind of a creative person, making music, rapping, or making art. We would hang out and fucking make beats, freestyle. We were kind of the in-house production crew for all our older friends who rapped and stuff. At some point we were just kind of "fuck it, we gotta call the crew something" so it came about organically. It wasn't anything when we started it, we were like 17, and then I guess by the time we started college a bunch of us had started MySpaces (when the music MySpace thing was going). So it was just a big community of people sharing music and stuff. So around that point we started a website that was just a really bad blogspot that was just kind of our own stuff, promoting our own releases. It was a way for us to share with each other more so than other people while we were in colleges and different schools in the country.
March 6, 2015
interview by Jonathan Dick
After a decade of providing an alternate and award-winning perspective on the late night show's formula of acerbic wit, topical humor, and the blessedly obligatory absurdist tendencies, Craig Ferguson stepped down last year as the host of The Late Late Show. An immediate anomaly amongst his contemporaries, Ferguson's role as host was defined by a narrative that was as unabashedly honest as it was hilarious. The Scotland native took a different approach to what's often a pessimistic, self-loathing MO for the late night context, choosing instead to disarm otherwise gut wrenching realities by telling stories both from his own personal life as well as those from multiple lives ranging from the famous to the infamous to the wonderfully normal. Since leaving The Late Late Show, Ferguson has signed on to star as an agoraphobe who leaves his apartment for the first time in 11 years in a pilot for ABC, The King of 7B.
In the meantime, the quick-witted and incredibly charming comedian who made his start in standup is currently on the road with his Hot and Grumpy Tour: Walking the Earth tour, which includes three shows at Town Hall, starting tonight (3/6). He was originally supposed to play last night (Thursday, 3/5) but that show was moved to Saturday (3/7) at 10 PM. There's a 7 PM show on Saturday, too, and tickets to all three are still avaialable. Some other dates on his tour have been rescheduled due to The King of 7B, and all are listed below.
Ahead of these shows, we talked to Ferguson about the tour, the new pilot, his time working as a bouncer at legendary East Village club Save the Robots, and more.
I wanted to ask you about the new show you've got lined up, The King of 7B. Going from something that's seemingly a bit looser like The Late Late Show to something that's a bit more scripted and focused like a television series, was there a bit of a challenge for you with that transition or was the change fairly natural?
Strangely enough, going into the idea of a pilot - should this show be picked up because you never know with these things - but if it gets picked up and then it goes on a journey into who knows where the hell it ends up, I mean, it's scripted but then an open-ended story, whereas late night for all its freedom is not an open-ended story. You're doing a monologue, you're doing some sketches, you've got a couple of guests, and then this and that. No matter how much freedom you can create for yourself within that with your Robot Skeleton or your fake horse, it's very constricted, whereas going into a story which begins with a man who's facing a crisis and should that story be opened up and goes to series and the series goes on for a length of time, you don't know where it's gonna go. So I feel like it's more open-ended. In the construction of it, it's more scripted absolutely, but that's fine because the people who are writing it are very, very close to that script. (Laughs)
February 12, 2015
interview by Jonathan Dick, photos by Michael Wilhoite
David Johansen wears enough hats that discerning between the art and the artist can prove to be a difficult task. It's an aesthetic that speaks both to his influence as a founding member/vocalist of seminal protopunk innovators The New York Dolls and what's been an uninhibited pursuit of his own artistic vision in a number of ways from various musical side projects to film roles. Johansen's Buster Poindexter persona that while primarily known for the late 80s hit "Hot Hot Hot," a song he's admitted to loathing, but nonetheless helped to propel the persona itself as well as establish his own versatility as an artist. This month sees the return of Buster Poindexter with a series of performances at the Café Carlyle from February 10-21 (tickets). We spoke to Johansen about the performances as well as his own history growing up surrounded by music and when listeners can expect to see The New York Dolls again.
BV: You're revisiting the Buster Poindexter persona again with the series of shows at the Café Carlyle. What was the motivation to do this now?
DJ: The Buster thing, the way it's gone down, I've been doing the New York Dolls for like eight years. We started out wanting to do one show, and then we played for eight years and making pretty records. I just decided to give that a break for a while and be home. Instead of New York being a place where you just keep your stuff, I decided to live here awhile, and to make a living. I decided to do a show that could only be played in New York.
Speaking of which you actually had a performance with the Arcade Fire there in Brooklyn. How did that come about?
Oh, they just called and asked if we'd come out there and do a number with them.
January 17, 2015
Marky Ramone will take the stage at the Gramercy Theater on 1/17 to celebrate the upcoming publication of his memoirs, Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone. Sitting behind the drums for one of the greatest bands in rock history for fifteen years provided more than enough perspective for the Brooklyn native who will turn 59 later this year. The timing is especially poignant given that last July saw the death of Tommy Ramone who'd been the last surviving member of the original lineup. It was Tommy who would recommend Marky to replace himself when he left the band in 1978, setting in motion another chapter for a band that had already established itself as one of punk rock's most iconic groups. I recently spoke with Mark to discuss the book release show (featuring Andrew W K), his earliest days with another genre-defining band, and why punk rock is still the best form of exercise.
BV: Let's talk about the book for a second, Mark. What made you feel this was the right time for an autobiography?
Marky: Well, it took five years in the making, and the process of writing it was a year and a half. I read all the Ramones books, and there were a lot of exaggerations, and I just wanted to clear them, so in my book I did. I just don't like when people try to change history for their own reasons. I'm not gonna mention names. I'm just saying that I believe what happened happened and that's what happened. To change history for one's idea of sensationalism I think is wrong. On the Internet, especially these days, a blog or a writer can say anything and then everybody believes that, y'know what I'm saying? I'm sure you've experienced that. That's where a lot of people unfortunately get their news. In my book it's my whole life story beginning with the music scene plus growing up in Brooklyn, New York, and then later on after me, Johnny, and Joey decided to retire in '94 and then our last show was in '96. It's a lot more informative. Obviously it has a lot to do with time being in the band for fifteen years and doing 1700 shows. I absorbed everything and what you read, that's the result.