Entries tagged with: John Dwyer
by Andrew Sacher
The next installment of Castle Face's Live In San Francisco series comes out on February 23 and features raging Arizona psych-punks Destruction Unit. Here's what Castle Face label head (and Thee Oh Sees frontman) John Dwyer has to say about it:
In the distance is a speck surrounded by points of light, the faint glow of a galaxy. It approaches with no great haste. It is merely floating towards you under its own massive weight and momentum. Its size becomes more apparent as it advances. The low rumbling engine is an overture. Bits of space trash ping off it's hull. Certainly, you imagine, it's drawing nearer and not actually sucking you in, consuming you whole...We've got the premiere of "Bumpy Road," which you may recognize from their excellent 2013 LP, Deep Trip. But as anyone who's seen D Unit live knows, they rarely play a song the same way twice, and this is one band who truly benefits from a live album. That's the album artwork above. Check out the song, with the tracklist, a couple more live photos of the band, and tour dates (none in NYC), below.
Suddenly it is upon you and it is deafening, overwhelming...you are spun end over end, you've lost all send of original direction, you no longer know where you are...damaged, rent by antennae and crisped by the afterburners...after a great while and a seemingly endless tumult, you are abandoned amid debris, floating as the engines once again slowly hum off into the distance.
This is a Destruction Unit song.
Very heavy, very far out -
Massive fortification -
Endless building and tearing down -
Introduction religious in its immensity -
Outro decaying gloriously in the distance
I believe Destruction Unit to be one of the most important underground bands in America.
The live shows vary from dense chaos to dumbstruck pandemonium.
The volume is always colossal.
The spectacle, dramatic.
Putting microphones on these Arizona weirdos is similar to trying to get a decent recording of a soccer riot - getting Ryan to sing into our microphone like shooting a hummingbird with a spitball from across a gorge...
...but we've done it. Polished up and pushing the red, we present this deathless comet captured to tape. Headphones on, lowlights flickering, spliff in hand - you are a warrior on the dawn of a new perilous passage...until you have to flip the LP.
- John Dwyer
Saunier / Chippendale LP art
There's just three shows left at Death by Audio. Last night's "Top Secret!" headliners were Thee Oh Sees and main man John Dwyer said onstage, "We're here for two nights." He didn't say "in a row" but seeing how they play Warsaw with Jack Name on Friday (tickets) and are at M for Montreal on Saturday (snowstorms permitting), the other night in question seems to only be one option. But who knows? As for the rest of the lineup, DbA has posted up today's clues:
Well shucks! looks like i forgot to mention one of the players last night, slipped my mind! Well tonight i wont try and pull the Wool over your eyes, and jack you all around with this name game, ive been actin like a kid! Anyway i apologize for all the tomfoolery, and ill sees ya tonight!Ok, sleuths, what does it all mean?
If you're going to go to one of these last three nights, do make sure to spend some time in the Death by Art installation which has a lot of cool stuff to see. You may have seen a monitor in the hallway showing a documentary about drummers Greg Saunier and Brian Chippendale titled Checking in at 20. It was directed by Matt Conboy who runs the DbA showspace (with Edan Wilber) and features interviews with Wayne Coyne, Tim Harrington, John Dwyer, Steven Drozd, Kid Millions, and rock journalist Michael Azerrad. You can watch the whole thing (via Pitchfork) below. Both Saunier (with Deerhoof) and Lightning Bolt's Chippendale (as Black Pus) played Death by Audio in the last few weeks.
Meanwhile, Saunier and Chippendale also have an album out via Famous Class. The self-titled LP features two side-long improvisations, and is limited to 500 copies. Order yours now.
Documentary stream below...
photos by Amanda Hatfield, words by Andrew Sacher
Coachwhips / Radioactivity
After Thursday's bridge show in Austin during SXSW, the crazy cats who put it together did it again on Friday (3/14) with Radioactivity (a newish band with members of The Marked Men), Coachwhips (John Dwyer's pre-Thee Oh Sees band), and Tony Molina. A bit less crazy than the previous night (partially because sleep was much needed), it was still a great time. Radioactivity basically pick up where The Marked Men left off, and if you want quality garage punk, they've got it.
The crowd was craziest for Coachwhips (it was crazy all the other times the BV team caught them at SXSW too) with the crowd nonstop jumping up and down and increasingly moving in on the band. Then Tony Molina and his band wrapped up with their Weezer worship-meets-Thin Lizzy solos, as John Dwyer lit off fireworks over the bridge. Pictures are in this post, and they continue below...
by Bill Pearis
While Thee Oh Sees are taking a well-deserved break, frontman John Dwyer is not. His label Castle Face is releasing more records than ever, including Hubba Bubba from Dwyer's new solo project, Damaged Bug. Recorded in the fall of 2013 using garage sale keyboards and homemade electronics, Hubba Bubba is spacey, bleepy bloopy pop. The album's out February 25.
There's an interstellar theme here -- the album cover is the cockpit of a spaceship (complete with Brian Eno portrait) -- and you can check out "Eggs at Night," plus the artwork and tracklist, below.
Maybe I can start by saying a little bit about Jack Name. He is the only guy I know who can crush a joint by his lonesome and then look you right in the eye (and I consider myself an expert) and you would never suspect that he's not floating right along in the here and now. He is ahead . . . the wheels are always turning unaffected by drugs, time or space. I met him first through White Fence, where he stood on a laptop generating noise along with guitar through, what is supposedly, an original homemade Grateful Dead speaker cabinet. How much good energy can one dude generate?White Fence cohort Jack Name will release Light Show, his "rock and roll sci fi novella," next week (1/21) via God?, which is Ty Segall's Drag City imprint (buy it here). You can stream two songs below.
Jack Name is a rare entity and a genius story/songsmith and I am envious as hell that GOD? Records is putting this out and not Castleface. Whiffs of young Brian Eno, Gary Numan, Chrome, ELO, Bruce Haack . . . even Richard O'Brien (a la "Rocky Horror") and Stefan Wul stain the sleeves of this story, but it's still wholly original and cooked at home so it's as honest as it is good for you. The sounds are a dense and ever-shifting beast -- just an absolutely put-you-on-the-floor headphone record. The narrative holds as much significance as the sound; hopefully there will be a lyric sheet so teenagers ripe for a push in the right direction can follow along, pink-eyed, with their index fingers.
- John Dwyer [Thee Oh Sees]
Currently on the road with Dent May, Jack will also be doing a few shows on the East Coast in March, including one in NYC at Death by Audio on 3/15 (rest of the line-up's TBA). All tour dates are listed below.
by Bill Pearis
While Thee Oh Sees are taking a well deserved break, frontman John Dwyer is not as his very active label Castle Face continues to put out records. The next two Castle Face releases are due out this month in fact -- POW!'s High Tech Boom on 1/14, and The Traps' Boom Pow Awesome Wow two weeks after that (1/28). We're premiering tracks from both bands in this post.
With a synthbass-powered rhythm section, San Francisco's POW! make dystopian future fuzz, angry and angular. What's become of their fair city is the target of most of the record's ire (check the LP title) and if there was any doubt, John Dwyer (who's leaving his longtime home for Los Angeles) spells it all out in the press release:
Deep in the graveyard SF a young hand with black and cracked nails is pushing up through a broken pile of E-slag. Bitter teeth tear through server cables and motherboards, trying to be freed from the ever deepening sludge of tech waste...the Iphone is the new Styrofoam cup.Check out the Wire-esque "Hope Dealers" below.
Stepping over them, eyes glazed, feet dragging, blank face aglow in the eerie luminescence of the smart(?) phones underfoot, is the spirit of these songs.
San Francisco has long been filling up with noobs...but now we face the most dangerous, the most egregious and blandest of them all...people with lots of money.
NOBODY can square-up a joint like rich people.
POW! have written a punk eulogy to our fair city.
Pop up shops!
What the fuck is happening???
There goes the taqueria that used to kick ass, replaced by a deli with a line of assholes a mile long. "I wonder what the sandwiches are like and do they make their own salsa?"
As for the now-defunct The Traps, the Providence trio existed in the early '00s, making very heavy, very grimy, sludgerock. Says Dwyer, "Coachwhips played with them, then I came home and tried to rip them off, but I wasn't man enough to fit these balls in the front seat." Boom Pow Awesome Wow collects collects a previously CDR-only EP and four tracks that never made it past cassette. Listen to the LP's title cut below.
Streams, plus full versions of Dwyer's bios for both bands (both enlightening as to his frame of mind and decision to leave San Fran) below...
by Bill Pearis
Having broken up Sic Alps, Mike Donovan released his first solo album, Wot, which took his typical sludgy blues style and wiped a bit of the mud off it. As he was the only constant member of the band, it's not that different than the last Sic Alps record. Mike just made a video for Wot's opening track, "New Fieldhand Bop," which takes a close look at our dependence on mobile devices. You can check that out below.
Mike also gave us a 2013 Top 10, which is more a chance to shout out inspirational people in his life than a list of records he digs, though some of the folks are indeed musicians -- all in his quintessential type-speak. That is below as well. No word on any North American tour dates -- he was here back in October -- but we're keeping our eyes out.
Video and Top 10 below...
John Dwyer (of Thee Oh Sees) is streaming the reissue of the debut LP by his old band, Coachwhips, which came out in 2002 and was called Hands On The Controls. You can listen to that HERE. Thee Oh Sees are on tour this year and will be in NYC this October.
by Bill Pearis
The Blind Shake @ Bruise Cruise, SXSW 2013 (more by Sarah Frankie Linder)
Thee Oh Sees, whose latest album, Floating Coffin, came out back in April, are getting ready for a fall tour that includes what is their biggest headlining NYC show yet: Irving Plaza on October 29. No word on when tickets go on sale to that show, but you can keep checking Live Nation's website.
UPDATE: Tickets are on sale Thursday (8/29) at 10 AM.
Some of the shows on this tour are with OBN IIIs (who were just in NYC) and Minnapolis' The Blind Shake. (
Not in NYC unfortunately. UPDATE: both OBN IIIs and Blind Shake ARE playing, yay!) The latter have a new album, Key To A False Door, which will be out September 17 via (Oh Sees frontman) John Dwyer's Castle Face Records. Like their last, the record inhabits the stomping ground between protopunk and post punk (which you'd think would just be "punk," but it's not). We've got the premiere of the lead track from the LP, "Garbage On Glue," which you can stream below.
The Blind Shake are best experienced live, though, with an image that seems straight out of cheapo dystopian sci-fi flick and a drummer who seems like he's going to hammer the drums through the floor. They're playing Gonerfest next month, and maybe they'll add some more East Coast dates. All currently scheduled ones are listed below.
'Vinegar Mirror' cover
In other news, John Dwyer is releasing a book of photos titled Vinegar Mirror which includes over 200 shots taken from 2010 on. He's also, as mentioned, reissuing the first album by his old band Coachwhips, Hands On The Controls, which is out via Castle Face next week (9/3). He also helped create the "Fuzz War Overload" guitar pedal for Death by Audio.
Thee Oh Sees and The Blind Shake tour dates are listed, along with the Blind Shake track stream, below.
by Bill Pearis
Chicago noise merchants RUNNING will release their new album, Vaguely Ethnic, next week (8/6) via Castle Face. The record features nine tracks of pounding, grimy punk that clocks in at just over 20 minutes. We've got the premiere of "Wanna Weekend" from it in this post and you can stream it below. The band have a few random dates coming up, though none in NYC. Those are listed below. Look for a proper tour later this year.
In other news, Castle Face Records will be reissuing Coachwhips' 2002 debut, Hands On The Controls, including its first-ever vinyl pressing. If you don't know, Coachwhips was Castle Face domo John Dwyer's band before Thee Oh Sees. That will be out September 3.
RUNNING dates are listed, along with the track stream and album art (by Edie Fake), below.
You may remember that Ty Segall collaborated with the noisemakers at Death by Audio (the pedal company, not the Williamsburg venue, though they're related) to create the (now sold out) Sunshine Reverb pedal. Now they've worked with John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees to create Fuzz War Overload which takes their extremely popular Fuzz War to the next level. How? The DbA folks explain:
We've always been impressed by John's intensity and it's been inspiring to work with him to create this unique effect. We went back and forth with John to craft what he thinks is the ultimate fuzz tone. This design has been road tested by Thee Oh Sees for over a year, and can be heard extensively on their latest record Floating Coffin.There's only 500 Fuzz War Overload pedals being made and you can pre-order yours now.
This pedal is based on the super powerful circuit of the Fuzz War combined with a switchable hot-rodded treble boost. The Fuzz circuit controls include Gain, Level, Tone and the Boost circuit has a Level control. Combining these circuits unlocks new and virtually endless guitar tone possibilities. The specialized Tone knob allows you to sweep between rumbling low end, scooped out mid section and sizzling highs. The Gain knob can go from a smooth overdrive through distortion and up into uncharted territories. Thee Fuzz Warr Overload combines raucous fuzz and a killer treble boost to bring your sound to the next dimension.
For more on the benefits -- and dangers! -- of the Fuzz War Overload pedal, check out a video starring Dwyer below.
by Bill Pearis
After an onstage meltdown during SXSW 2012, Bay Area band Bare Wires called it quits, though their final record, Idle Dreams, didn't come out till December. Main man Matthew Melton has formed a new group, Warm Soda, who carry on his giddy power pop vision with that would sound great coming out of a Snoopy AM radio in 1979.
Warm Soda's debut album, Someone for You, actually kind of sounds like it is coming out of a transistor radio: tinny and compressed (in a good way), but with giant hooks and choruses packed into 27-minute running time. It's a great album and it's out now on John Dwyer's Castle Face Records. You can stream "Waiting for Your Call" from the album below and order your copy here. If you like Jay Reatard, Cheap Trick, or The Nerves, you need to hear this now.
The band are going on tour at the end of the month and their trek will take them through Austin for SXSW (hopefully no problems this year) and then to the East Coast, including an NYC stop at Cake Shop on March 28 with tourmates White Mystery. All tour dates are below.
words & photos by Gabi Porter
You are all going to hate us. I fully expect the comments section to light up like the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center with all kinds of vitriolic bile and hummus inflected hatred, but you know what, we won't care because we had fun. Four hundred garage rock fans gathered from all over the world in Miami last Friday and boarded the Carnival Imagination cruise ship bound for the Bahamas, and had a giant party on the high seas full of fruity, candy-colored drinks, unlimited belly-busting buffets, hot tubs and music. Dazed hipsters and music fans wandered the Lido Deck in their jorts and tattoos, clutching their Hermann Hesse novels looking for a little shade poolside, while family vacationers stared and asked, "What's going on?" The [sold out] Bruise Cruise is what happened, and it was like summer camp for alcoholic indie rock fans, all who became friends by the end of the weekend.
Although they only played one blistering set at Senor Frogs on Saturday night in the Bahamas - if you don't count the pre-party in Miami on Thursday night, and we're choosing not to remember that horrible horrible place with the $8 beers - The Black Lips were like all the other bands' cooler older brothers. They stirred up their signature good-time chaos, drank more than everyone, partied harder, and managed to keep the peace all at the same time. Jared Swilley said he was looking forward to a weekend with no internet, no email, no computer, "I have our new album on my laptop, if I brought it with me I'd get drunk and start burning copies for everyone." Instead he tried to go down the waterslide in his underpants, where he was thwarted by a diminutive attendant who wouldn't let him on in his skivvies, despite pleas of, "This *is* my bathing suit! I'm European!" [In Beach Fossils fashion] he later threw his bass off the back of the ship during a clandestine music video shoot. Cole Alexander looked like he won big at the casino. And Ian St Pe jumped on a table with his guitar at the final dinner and was chased out of the formal dining room, only to return disguised in a baseball cap. Joe Bradley was scheduled to play piano at 2am on Sunday at the Mirage Piano Bar - "I'm really looking forward to that! I never get to play piano for people." - he showed up with pomaded hair and a tux and played a very dapper set, Maker's Mark in hand.
If The Black Lips were like older brothers, then Thee Oh Sees were the cooler older cousins who used to be troublemakers, but have settled down with nothing to prove because they've already proven themselves. John Dwyer and company may not have brought bathing suits, lounging poolside in jeans with beers in hand, but they were "mowing them down, cutting that spring grass!" as one "Bruiser" pointed out as they melted everyone's sun-addled minds on our final day at sea. Their first set early on Friday afternoon was just a warm-up. On Sunday early-evening, fueled by an open bar, they played the second to last set of the festival to a full gilded chrome ballroom. It might have been the best set we saw all weekend (admittedly I also heard someone say that about pretty much every set this weekend, but you know what, everything was pretty damn good). Drummer Mike Shoun said he was just trying to hit really really hard, and indeed he did, nearly coming off his drum stool more than once.
Surfer Blood and their buddies (and festival co-organizers) Turbo Fruits teamed up for a Sunday brunch set in the - wait for it - Shangri La Lounge. Clutching danishes and mimosas some said Turbo Fruits, with lead singer Jonas Stein losing his voice, was the best set of the weekend (see above). I spent the cruise with Surfer Blood's janglier live version of the vaguely tropical "Take it Easy" on replay in my head, arguably the cruise's theme song. JP from Surfer Blood chatted with me after their sparsely attended first set on board on Saturday afternoon, as everyone jumped ship and rented scooters to hit the island (this may be the last time Surfer Blood play to a room of 30 people).
I asked what the band thought when they were asked to participate in the Bruise Cruise, "We thought it was a cool idea, and we thought it was either going to be really cool or a complete and total disaster. But if you think about it that's kind of like how ATP started in the UK. I mean they took over a holiday park or something. It was a little bit cheesy, a little bit family oriented and they turned it into, you know, like a total party. And they've been doing it forever." When we asked how they felt about their sparsely attended set on Saturday he said, "If I had to pick between seeing a young band we kind of like, or going out to explore the Bahamas, I'd be pretty torn. We're playing again tomorrow anyway."
More about "tomorrow" (and the rest of the cruise) coming soon. Pictures from the pre-party and the first day, continue below...