Wednesday, March 31, 2010
It seems that every two years we get a new Ben Kenney solo record, is their a new one in the works?
There sure is. I've been working on a new CD+DVD release called "Burn The Tapes". It'll be out soon. It's a big deal for me because I've made a record that I'm 100% in love with along side of my first video project. I'm really anxious to see if people dig it.
What does your solo work let you express as an artist that playing in a band does not?
Mainly I get to play other instruments and express myself beyond just the bass guitar. I love to play guitar and drums and I get to scratch that itch when I make a solo record. I also write, sing and record the vocals+lyrics. Singing is an intimate way to communicate and I think other parts of my personality are exposed by it.
When touring as a solo act, you hit up Jazz clubs, especially in New York. Will we be getting more of these in the future?
I plan to tour for this record. We do play mostly smaller venues on my tours. I wouldn't really call most of the places jazz clubs though. I've always felt like they were local rock clubs and dive bars more than jazz clubs. We do get booked at the occasional restaurant and weird venues like that. Some of those shows seem like they'd be corny as hell but end up being pretty sweet. It really comes down to the crowd. So far my tours have had great crowds.
You play so many instruments from guitar to bass to drums and so on. What is your favorite to play? What is your favorite piece of musical gear that you own?
Drums are often my favorite. I've been playing drums consistently since 1985. It's the center of my world. But my favorite feeling is when everything comes together. Sort of like having a favorite color, which I don't really. I have favorite combinations though. My favorite piece of gear is my first guitar that my dad got me when I was 13. It's my favorite material possession in the world.
In the day and age when major labels are crashing and no one is buying music, you own your label – Ghetto Crush Industries. What is it like being a label owner in these odd and uncertain times?
It's a double edged sword. I lose money but I can do whatever I want creativity-wise. Selling music has changed a lot in the last 10 years. I don't even dream about making money any more. One day someone will write software that let's you pick a type of song or a type of performer and it will create the rest out of pre-determined algorithms that fare well among focus groups. You'll have whatever you're craving as quickly as your computer can render it. Then musicians like me will become novelties - like ventriloquists and poets have. There'll be 3 or 4 cats making a living and the rest of us will be making appearances at bar mitzvahs and retirement homes. But until that day I'll keep slinging CDs and mp3s.
You played in The Roots for a while, how did a Jersey boy like yourself get hooked up with Philly’s finest?
It's a long story but it all comes down to being in the right place at the right time and a couple of great people putting me there. The Roots take care of Philadelphia's music scene more than anything I've ever seen. They've built a foundation for a lot of artists to start from. I was playing music in Philly and I eventually got involved in some of the projects they were working on. The next thing I knew I was in the studio working on a project with ?uestlove and he took me under his wing. That was a big turning point for me. And those guys put me on the map. Someday I want to make a film about The Roots and the people they've helped. That would be epic.
With The Roots doing their stint on Jimmy Fallon, are we going to get a Ben Kenney return one night with the band?
?uestlove invited me to sit in once but it scares the shit out of me. I got to get my chops up first or Kirk will make me look like an asshole on guitar.
Did you ever think you'd get involved in such a large well-known well-established band like Incubus? How is it working with guys like them?
never planned on it. It wasn't expecting it either. I was just trying to dedicate myself to working and exploring opportunities. I'm grateful for it. Things like this don't happen to everyone and that means I have to constantly earn it to truly deserve it. I also have a responsibility to a past that I was not there for. I've walked into a long term relationship between a band and it's fans and I have to be respectful to the fact that this was working before me and could just as easily work without me. Hopefully I'll never see that day come. I love being in that band.
Was it weird making the transition from a group like The Roots to a group like Incubus?
Not really. Both bands are serious about what they do and both bands encouraged me to be me. It doesn't get any better than that. Technically speaking, The Roots are a Hip-Hop Band and Incubus is a Rock band so it might seem like two different worlds, but I was never put in a position in either band to do anything other than be myself. On paper they might seem unrelated but they both share a lot of listeners.
Was it odd being the new guy to a band that had already established themselves in the industry?
When I joined The Roots it became apparent to me that I had a lot to learn and not a lot of time to learn it. When I joined Incubus it was similar but not the same shock as joining The Roots. In both situations I learned things about myself I never knew. I didn't really get a lot of "new guy" treatment. Somehow I managed to keep up with what was happening too. I think some fans were tripping but whatever. I liked the first Aunt Viv better too.
Is there a new Incubus record in the works?
Not at the moment. Hopefully soon though. I think everyone's almost fully re-charged.
Aside from working with Incubus and solo material, you have done studio stuff for Justin Timberlake, Faith Evans, Erykah Badu and others. Is it odd from going from your own solo work, playing in Incubus then being a gun-for-hire in the studio?
It's not really odd. There are different challenges for sure. When you're playing for someone else your ego needs to take a back seat. When you're in a band you need to give and take. When you're solo you need to let your ego explode all over the place. I'm just psyched to get to be all three of those characters. This kinda shit doesn't happen to everyone.
BURNING QUESTION: Since you have lived on both coasts, be honest which is better – East or West? Settle the long running dispute once and for all!
I am an east coaster. But I can't disrespect the west. In February I'm trying to keep it in Cali. But NYC in September is the greatest. I can't call it. I absolutely love Barcelona. Does that count?
Incubus video for "Anna Molly" (Above) / Ben Kenney "Eulogy" Video (Below)
Ben playing guitar in the Roots - Video for "The Seed 2.0"
Special thanks to Ben and Joseph Bielski for the interview!
"Sal and his peeps at OfficiallyAYuppie.com are doing an amazing job of covering fresh, creative music and the entire NYC scene! They're not too hip for the room, but definitely have hip taste. It was a great to sit down and talk with him about the new Living Colour record last year." - Doug Wimbish, Living Colour
“You know what they say, don't trust any blogger under a thousand." – Franz Nicolay
“I read www.officiallyayuppie.com every week. Sal has his finger on the pulse of both commercial and independent music and entertainment. His blog has something for everyone and his interviews are always insightful. Plus, Sal's a great dude!” – Elliot Jacobson
“Thanks for these great questions” – Mary Foresberg Weiland
“So, does this make me a Yuppie now?!” – Mickey Leigh, Joey Ramone’s brother
“Thank you for the interview. I really appreciate the interest in my project. Be well” –Ben Kenney of Incubus
“It was good speaking with you. All the best.” Ian Mackaye
“No Crap Questions” – Rab Allen of Glasvegas
“Thanks so much for taking interest in our band” – Emile Mosseri, The Dig
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Let’s face it, most Wu-Tang Clan side projects never live up to their full potential, that group holds the term “the sum is greater than its parts,” with such high regard. Then again, lets face it, since the passing of ODB, Wu has never been and never will be the same again. Now comes Wu Massacre from three of Shaolin’s finest in some of their best work to date. Thus far, this has been the most impressive hip-hop records since Kanye West’s Graduation. One to listen to, my only beef with the disc is that the group should have had RZA do some production on it to take it to a whole other level. Either way, it’s still pretty outstanding.
FINAL GRADE: A
The debut fusion from The Shins James Mercer and producer extraordinaire Danger Mouse finds the perfect balance between avant-garde creativity and simple pop music. This record has no surprises on it, it is everything you would hope to expect from two music masterminds, the beats laid down by Danger Mouse are very reminiscent of his work with The Good, The Bad and The Queen, Mercer’s vocals and lyrics are some of the best he has since the early days of The Shins. This is a record very lush in sound and needs to be listened to.
FINAL GRADE: A-
The debut from these Aussie grungers finds them in territory that will bring you back to Seattle in the early 90’s. I have gotten to know this band pretty well through the recent months, they are a killer live act and some of the nicest dudes from Oz. This is a record that has been out in their native land for a while, but finally makes it way to our side of the world and I am glad it did. Take a look at my interview with Violent Soho HERE.
FINAL GRADE: B
Big Light – Animals in Bloom
This indie-jam fusion from San Francisco would make the spirit of former hippies proud. Big Light’s latest, Animals in Bloom is a fresh record with driving guitars, sexy melodies and swinging sounds. Finding a nice way to blend 60’s rock and roll, 90’s jam rock and 21st Century indie, Big Light is band that will make you a fan right away and only leaving you curious for more.
FINAL GRADE: B-
Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History
These Irish electro lads have been stirring up a buzz across Europe and are finally making waves across the Atlantic in the US. A fun mix of current psychedelic electro meets dance hall meets fist pumping rock action. Tourist History is a nice musical escape to the world of Manchester, England via the late 70’s through early 90’s during the Hacienda Club and Factory Records period. Two Door Cinema captures that Hacienda vibe and blend’s with late material from today such as acts like Bloc Party, The Whip and Late of the Pier. This is a record that will have you moving and shaking.
FINAL GRADE: B-
Contrary to previous reports, Arctic Monkeys will begin working on the follow up to last year's Humbug as soon as they get off the road in the next few months. The band has expressed they would like to work with Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures) again who produced Humbug.
Back with more of those block rockin' beats, The Chemical Brothers are set to release their seventh album, Further. The disc is slated for June 7 in UK / Europe and the following day in the US.
In between touring with Lady Gaga, headline a tour of their own, New York City's Semi-Precious Weapons will release their first full length LP. The album, You Love You, will be released in June.
After months of speculation, The Libertines are set to reunite in 2010! It is official this time, the band is slated to play this year's Reading and Leeds Festivals in UK along side Guns N Roses, Arcade Fire, Phoenix, Blink 182 and many others.
Taking Back Sunday are apparently set to reform with original guitarist John Nolan. Nolan who co-wrote the band's stellar debut, Tell All Your Friends, left the band in 2004 to work on his side project Straylight Run.
Just in case you missed it, take a look at my interview with Happy Ending HERE.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
With non-stop energy and excitement, the English duo Blood Red Shoes have captivated the attention of listeners and audience members worldwide. From tiny clubs to the big stages of Reading and Leeds Festivals to All Tomorrow's Parties, Blood Red Shoes are stomping ground wherever they play. Switching off on vocal duties, the duo comprised of Steven Ansell and Laura-Mary Carter, the band combines thrash punk, garage, rockabilly and goes to 11 each and every single time. Their latest, Fire Like This has only been released in their native UK, however, with the buzz surrounding this band, it is only a matter of time before it makes its way across the pond. Just before releasing Fire Like This, I had the opportunity to speak to drummer/vocalist Steven Ansell about the new album, band's history and buzz. Take a look, in one of their first American interviews, my conversation with Steven Ansell of Blood Red Shoes below..
Being a duo consisting of drums, guitar and vocals, how do you two manage to stir up so much noise?
SA: Well we just play with intensity. You can stir up a lot of noise with just one person if you want to. I mean, you've seen Lightning Bolt right? Fuck me we look like Abba compared to that. We just turn it up and rock out really, there's no real secret to that. I think it's just a misconception that because there are less people it will be smaller or less full sounding, there are bands with 5 people in them who sound really thin and quiet. Especially in England. There’s also a sense of directness when there are less instruments and people going on and I think that can translate as intensity with the right kind of musician.
The sound of the band is very unique; you seem to mix 60’s garage rock with rockabilly and a touch of new wave. Who are some of your influences?
SA: Whoa I think you're the first person to mention rockabilly that's kinda fun. Laura-Mary is actually really into stuff like that so it's cool you can see that. i think generally our influences are noisy American rock stuff, call it what you will, "alternative rock" or punk or whatever. We’re big into stuff like Nirvana, Babes in Toyland, Pixies, Sonic Youth, Fugazi, Queens of the Stone Age are always on the stereo too...also stuff like My Bloody Valentine, Pj Harvey, the stooges. I don't think we're that unique YET, especially when you look at the tradition we see ourselves as part of. we sound unique at the moment because there aren't many bands like us, it's all fucking electro or bad britpop guitar shit. I think our new album is a lot more unique than the first actually.
Though you may not sound like a punk band, you consider yourself to be one and not an English guitar act, how do you come about this description?
SA: Well we ARE an English guitar act we just don't think we have anything in common with most of the other English guitar scene. Most of the stuff here sounds really weedy to us, lots of clean guitar and little drum sounds. It very polite and radio-friendly, no-one goes for a big bombastic sound, the wall of noise. I think we "sounded" more like a punk band when we started, for whatever that means, but punk is an ethos and approach not a style. Just because we don’t have tattoos or sound like minor threat doesn't mean we're not a punk band. Our attitude is that music should be direct, energetic, and honest. No bullshit. That is punk regardless of what form it comes out in. that's why we're different to a lot of English music because it's more like a show business thing with a lot of bands here, it's very stylized and considered. it just doesn't feel very intense or real to me. i hope that we're the opposite to that.
You are currently in the process of making your second record, how is it going?
SA: Well it's finished and you can get the first track from it for free on our website. We’re really happy with it. I think it’s a big progression from the first record in terms of writing, and how it sounds. It’s much more like our vision of "us", it feels a bit closer to having our own identity than the first album. And it's made us really psyched to start the 3rd one already actually.
What can fans expect from the new album?
SA: More honesty. A much heavier, less compressed record. Quieter vocals! More details and more atmosphere in the songs, also there's more variation in the feel of the songs, it's more adventurous sonically and in terms of how we structured the songs. I think it's one of those records that will last longer because there's more to it; it's got more depth both musically and emotionally. It’s not a complete departure from the first record, I mean it couldn't be since its still our voices, but I do think its pushed the sound forward. We definitely better musicians than before and understand how to get what we want in the studio more.
Since you both sing, is there a principle songwriter? Does Laura-Mary write for You and vice-versa, or just stick to each person writes for themselves?
SA: There are no hard and fast rules. Laura-Mary writes the guitar lines, then I jam along with the drums. Between us we both tinker around with the structure of the song and the direction it goes in. most times, the person you hear singing is the person who wrote the melody and words but not always. For example, this is not for you, the verse melody i started singing but it wasn't quite right so Laura-Mary took over, and it just worked great. Then she wrote the words. There’s always an exchange between us, even if it's just me showing Laura the words to one section and her saying "yeh I like it, do it". No one person is ever steering it alone, sometimes it’s very 50/50 and sometimes the balance tips either way.
Your live sets have gotten you much praise, what is the formula for being a good live band?
SA: Play a lot. And then some more, and then some more. We were a fucking mess when we started, I mean, we had an energy and it was a big noise but it was a fucking mess. I couldn't drum for shit. We just toured to hell and before you realize it you've actually got tight. I think that came much more from touring than from practicing in a practice space. I think once we got better at playing and really playing as a unit, the energy had always been there so it worked. I still think we're getting better, we're very self critical and even though I know we're a good live band, we know we can be a better one.
Being a fan of The Pixies, what was it like having Kim Deal ask you to play at All Tomorrow’s Parties?
SA: Fucking amazing. I remember the exact second that I saw the email, at that time we were sharing a flat so I just jumped around screaming and Laura had no idea if something wonderful or something terrible had occurred. Every band aspires to have some sort of recognition from your peers or bands you respect. That was a really big thing for us. We love the breeders and the pixies. Now all we need is PJ Harvey to call us up and ask to collaborate on a song and we can sit back for the rest of our lives with big smug fucking smiles and never do anything again.
When can we expect Blood Red Shoes in the US?
SA: May of this year. We don't have a record label in the US so it was really hard to afford to come over and tour the first album. This time we've stored some cash aside so we can self-fund a trip over. I mean in the UK no labels really knew what to do with us for years until we'd toured enough and released limited stuff and earned a proper bunch of fans. I see no reason why any labels would think differently in the US, I think we're not in fashion enough or not commercial enough for someone to take a risk on. Because you know, the music industry is "dying" they all say. ha.
I ask this question often to many UK bands, is it still a big deal for a UK act to break big in the US?
SA: Yeh I think so. The US still has such a cultural sway over the rest of the world that I think the perception is whatever you do, if it's big in the US then you've really MADE IT. I’m sure it's the same for a lawyer as for a musician. It makes me laugh, as I’m sure it does most people in the US because it doesn't make anything more valid, but it's definitely the dominant perception. I know my family would be really impressed if i could say "yeh we're big in America" you know what i mean!? ha ha. For us it's a big deal just because most of our favorite music comes from the states. so it feels like some sort of spiritual home, we really want to play in Portland, we really want to play DC or Seattle or San Diego, because so much music from there has influenced us. We have a real excitement about that. It’s also the only major part of the western world we've not toured yet so it has to be done.
Video for "I Wish I Was Someone Better" (Above), Video for "Light It Up" (Below)
Special thanks to Steven for the interview!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Aside from Iggy, Brooklyn Balkan Gypsy Punks Gogol Bordello played the Tibet House and they are currently giving the first single "Pala Tute," off their latest, Trans-Continental Hustle away for free via the band's website http://www.gogolbordello.com/. Also take a look at the cover to Trans-Continental Hustle below:
Also giving away a new free track are fellow Brooklyn rockers, The National. You can go to http://www.highviolet.com/, and download the new track "Bloodbuzz Ohio."
2009 was an explosive year for French alt-rockers Phoenix. With such high acclaim and non-stop touring around the world, the band are giving away an eight song live EP for free via their website http://www.wearephoenix.com/, go get it!
Could this lead to the resurrection of one of the greatest feuds in rock 'n roll history? For the new line-up of Oasis, Liam Gallagher has replaced his brother Noel with guitarist Jeff Wootoon. Now, any Oasis fan knows Noel can never, EVER be replaced. However, Liam, who is always one to stir the pot, has taken the guitarist from his arch-rival Damon Albarn. Wootoon is indeed the touring guitarist for Gorillaz. In a recent interview with Australia's TripleJ, Albarn spilled the beans, but had no further info than Jeff will be playing with Liam and Oasis members Andy Bell and Gem Archer.
The Hold Steady have released the cover to their latest, Heaven in Whenever. Take a look at the cover below, the sans-Franz Nicolay record arrives May 4.
Jack White's Dead Weather will release the follow up to last year's Horehound on May 11 with Sea of Cowards. Take a look at the track listing below:
1. Blue Blood Blues
2. Hustle And Cuss
3. The Difference Between Us
4. I'm Mad
5. Die By The Drop
6. I Can't Hear You
8. No Horse
9. Looking At The Invisible Man
11. Old Mary
1. American Slang
2. Stay Lucky
3. Bring It On
4. The Diamond Church Street Choir
5. The Queen of Lower Chelsea
8. Old Haunts
9. The Spirit Of Jazz
10. We Did It When We Were Young
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Conquering dance floors in Europe for years, UK's Chew Lips have been beating up the beats around the world and are now looking to make a mark across the pond in the US. The band's combination of ambient sounds meets hard electro fronted by the voice of angel than can morph into a demon at anytime, Chew Lips will have you moving and shaking for hours after the music has stopped. The band who just released their debut full length LP, Unicorn this past January have finally made their way to the States, while on a small tour and featured at this years SXSW festival in Austin that just wrapped, the band is experiencing critical highs and new fans. Just before coming to the US, I had the chance to speak with singer Tigs as we discussed the band's sound, style and nerves of steel. Take a look at my interview with Tigs below.
What was it like, after two years of being in a band, recording your first album?
Well we were only in a band for a year when we recorded the album, in the summer of 2009. Then we did festivals before the album campaign began proper. We wrote many songs. 60, 70 songs. As a band should. We creamed off our best and our favorites. It’s a ten track album and we're very proud of it.
With all of the electro acts coming out of the UK these days, how does Chew Lips differ?
we're not really an electro band, we just use some electronic instruments. we're a rock band in spirit, which can be seen in our live shows.
The band hails from South London, sometimes a pretty dodgy area. Has your location in England’s capitol influenced your sound and style?
We did all meet when we lived in south London. Its really not so bad. We’re all based east now, which is a great place to be. There wasn't a musical scene where we lived before, and certainly none of our friends bands weren't making similar music, so I don’t think it’s affected our style.
After being together for a short time, you started making big waves in the UK. From NME to The Guardian doing great write ups about the band. How do you respond to such high acclaim?
It did start rolling quite quickly but it’s what you do then that counts. its all very well being talked about but you’ve then got a small window to turn that into something tangible, of quality, or someone else is the next new thing.
2009 was a big year for British female fronted electro groups to break big globally. Acts like La Roux, Little Boots, Fan Death and many others, how do you and the rest of the band stand apart from the other female fronted acts?
Only fan death is a group / band. the others are solo artists. And yes it has been a big year for female electro artists. But there’s the difference - we are a band, we write together, play together, a proper band.
Your stage shows have gained you much attention. What can you tell someone, like me, who has never seen you before what the experience of Chew Lips live is like?
Its entertainment, an exciting spectacle of keyboards and guitars and me wailing and 'dancing,’ flailing my limbs around.
You are coming across the pond this year to the US for South By Southwest in Texas. Is this your first time playing in the US? Are you a bit scared?
Not scared, just excited. We can’t wait to play sxsw, it looks like an incredible event. And its Texas - I want to eat a steak bigger than my head. as the only meat eater in the band i feel its my duty. Bloodier the better.
This is a question I love to ask Brit bands and I always get a different response from each one. Is making it in the US still a big deal for a British band?
I think its more important to make it on home soil first. America is always going to be a challenge you want to conquer, but only in as much as wanting as many people as possible to hear your music. But then there’s the adventure of travel, and the USA is a big old place to look around.
Will we get full on US tour soon from you?
There is some talk of doing some other dates around sxsw......but I can’t confirm anything yet. fingers crossed though. We’d love that.
Video for "Play Together" off Unicorn:
Special thanks to Tigs and Keoneg Woo for the interview!
Just want to make a special announcement - I am coming up on my 1,000th post - YES! ONE THOUSAND! With that, there will be a few special postings to highlight the occasion as well as one special and super exclusive - MAJOR Interview going up...Stay Tuned....
Former Libertine and Dirty Pretty Things singer/guitarist Carl Barat has confirmed to BBC that his solo record is "in the can." However, no release date or title has been set. Barat recorded the record in Morocco.
The Strokes are recording their latest album without Julian Casablancas (GASP!). Now, do not get too worried, the band have been laying down the music while Julian has been on the road supporting his solo record Phrases for the Young. The singer has confirmed to NME.com that he will be adding vocal tracks to each song. The latest Strokes record is set to come in September.
One of the most anticipated records of the year will be coming from Stone Temple Pilots. The California rockers will release their first record in six years, the band's self-titled sixth record arrives May 24 in UK, the following day in the US. Take a look at the track listing below:
'Between The Lines'
'Take A Load Off'
'Dare If You Dare'
'Fast As I Can'
'First Kiss On Mars'
- The Jam - "Art School"
- A Tribe Called Quest - "Buggin Out"
- The Knife - "Heartbeats"
- White Stripes - "Effect and Cause"
- Ben Folds & Regina Spector - "You Don't Know Me"
- Little Boots - "Earthquakes"
- The Libertines - "Radio America"
- Julian Casablancas - "Ludlow Street"
- Chew Lips - "Gold Key"
- David Gray - "Draw the Line"
- Manchester Orchestra - "Mean Everything to Nothing"
- Blood Red Shoes - "Doesn't Matter Much"
- White Lies - "Farewell to the Fairground"
- Asteroids Galaxy Tour - "Around the Bend"
- Nirvana - "All Apologies"
- Vampire Weekend - "Giving Up the Gun"
- The Antlers - "Bear"
- Spoon - "Got Nuffin"
- The Ramones - "Beat on the Brat"
- Gorillaz feat. Mos Def - "Stylo"
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Australia has given the world some great artists. From AC/DC to The Living End to Silverchair to Wolfmother. How do Violent SoHo fit into the legacy of Australian rock?
MR: I guess you could make a few comparisons between us and other bands from Australia that have gained success outside of our own country, which really is few and far between when cmpaired with other excellent bands that have never earned a ripple of success in the United States or from outside of Australia at all. For us we see our legacy in Australia largely on a local scale, by which we mean that we can see ourselves playing a role in the history of the music movement in our own home city of Brisbane and the impact that any outside success that we might have could have on the music scene there. As far as having a legacy in Australian rock, we'd have to say that we see ourselves having the ambition to affect Australian music much more on a social or a community scale rather than a national one though this can often go hand in hand.
You came highly recommended to me by Patience from The Grates when I did an interview with her. How do you respond to such acclaim from a fellow Aussie?
MR: We're good mates with The Grates. Since having toured with them in Australia a few years ago we've been quite close and have followed each other's bands for a while now. It's great to have an appreciation of our music from another band who are from Brisbane that we are such fans of and that we respect so much.
The sound and style of Violent SoHo is very influenced by early 90’s grunge, from Nirvana to fellow countrymen like early Silverchair and The Vines. Are these bands some of your biggest influences? Who are others?
MR: We really aren't largely influenced by Silverchair or The Vines at all. However Nirvana is definitely up there with our biggest influences. Really Nirvana is the band most responsible for defining and owning that 90's guitar and drums sound, which we are deeply influenced by. Steve Albini's production on the "In Utero" album for example is a large influence on our sound. If you look at all the producers of the three Nirvana albums you'll see where our influences come from there with the other bands that those producers were working with also. Starting from Mudhoney, going through to Sonic Youth and Smashing Pumpkins and on to Jesus Lizard. Those would be some of many bands from that period that our sound and style are mostly influenced by.
It is hard not to notice your love of where you come from, your postal code is stamped on T-shirts, the web and other promotional material. What is it about the place you come from that is so special?
MR: I guess once again that's more of a community thing. We've just always seen a relevance in understanding where we came from and how that has in many ways defined us as a band. Being that we all went to high school together, we all have the sense of that same community within us. It's also just fun to shout our your postcode. We just see it as fun and as a bit of a tongue in cheek hip-hop thing.
Where does the name Violent Soho come from? Is it reflective of the neighborhood you come from? Does it have anything to do with SoHo here in New York or in London?
MR: The use of the word has no real connection to any areas of Manhattan or London.
They're two words we chose to describe us due to how they sort of juxtapose each other. Our music tends to have a real loud/quite dynamic and by using an aggressive well-defined word in turn with a passive and meaningless word it seems to compliment the same dynamic. Band names are stupid anyway.
From the moment you released your EP back in 2006, there was a buzz swirling around you guys. Did you ever feel any pressure living up to the hype?
MR: Honestly there was no hype about us back then and so there was nothing to have to live up to. If there has been any hype since then I don't think we've noticed it, but it can be hard to notice that kind of stuff when you're just driving from city to city everyday. You become quite separated from anything that's really happening outside of that.
You released your debut last year in Australia and worldwide earlier this year, what was it like making your debut?
MR: I can tell you it was loads of fun recording it. We got to stay in a studio in Wales for six weeks and just got to focus on really working on making a great record. We were working with a producer by the name of Gil Norton who's worked with bands like Pixies and Foo Fighters and so we were really glad to get the opportunity to work with such an esteemed person and are really glad with the results.
What is the song writing process like?
MR: Normally Luke B [Boerdam - Singer] will come to the band with a song or a riff or idea for a song and we'll work on defining our structure and dynamic as a group.
You are signed to your hero, Thurston Moore’s label Ecstatic Peace! Records, what was it like signing with his label and getting an offer from them?
MR: It was just a dream. Thurston and some others from the Ecstatic Peace Label one night came to see us play a show in New York late last year. After the show he came up to me and said: "please let me put out your record". I was just like, "yes sir!" To be so fortunate to work on a creative and professional level with such well-esteemed people as him. It's just such a great opportunity that we've been granted.
How do you like touring America?
MR: So far so good. The food is horrible but the people are the best in the world.
You are recently hit the road with legendary American bands Dinosaur Jr. and Built to Spill, what has this experience been like?
MR: Our sound really comes from the era that these bands arose in. So playing with them is very ideal for us, but also just such a thrill. We're poor guys with little money, but in the end if we had all the money in the world you wouldn't be able to buy yourself into touring and playing along side such bands. So we obviously treat these shows as immensely rare and treasured opportunities for us. We can't believe we managed to get onto these long American tours with some bands that are just our idols. It's not something that you come across too often where we're from.
What was it like opening for Jack White's Dead Weather?
MR: Friggen Rad. The show had a packed audience and they were really receptive. I think we played quite well that night so all in all it was pretty fun.
Is it a big deal to break it in America being a band from overseas?
MR: Yes of course. I think that's a big deal for any band.
Video for "Love is a Heavy Word" (Above) / Violent Soho live on KROQ "Jesus Stole my Girlfriend" (Below)
Special thanks to Michael and David Benge for the interview. Catch Violent Soho on tour NOW with The Bronx and pick up their self-titled debut also!
Friday, March 12, 2010
With less than a week and a half before the next Ingrid Michaelson
tour, I'm spending all of my time preparing for the road. We're doing
about a week's worth of college shows, and then moving onto a 22 date
co-headlining tour with Mat Kearney. I've created a "to do list" so
that I stay as productive as possible in the short time left before we
step on the bus. I can't speak for everyone else in the band, but I
would like to now share with you, the readers of the Yuppie Blog, some
highlights of how I am personally getting ready for the first Ingrid
tour of the year. Enjoy!
My first order of business was to make sure my taxes were completed
before I leave for tour. There's no WAY I would be able to find the
time or summon the mental focus to do this while traveling around
playing in a different city every night. I sat on my living room
floor, watched and episode of LOST, and separated all of my receipts from last year into different expense categories. Then I put on the
Comedians of Comedy starring Patton Oswalt because I have a lot of
receipts. I actually have fun with this and get a sense of
accomplishment when I finally hit the post office to mail everything
to my accountant!
I try to stay fit and active while on the road. I even maintain a blog
about touring and fitness called The Healthy Musician. For this tour,
I decided to purchase a few extra items that would help me stay in
shape even when there won't be a gym around. I bought a jump rope for
cardio and two pairs of exercise bands for resistance training. I
might even buy a product that lets you do pull ups in any doorway
without drilling holes. I'm in the process of learning new exercise
moves with all of these toys and will be posting a blog entry about it
soon. ( You can check out my blog at
Every time I'm about to leave for a tour, I contact my musical
equipment sponsors and order any supplies that I'll need. The good
people at Vater Percussion sent me enough drumsticks to last the
entire tour. I also ordered these babies:
They're called Skull Slick Nuts and they're also made by Vater. They
go on top of each cymbal and essentially keep the cymbal on the stand.
As you can see, these specific ones are shaped like skulls and GLOW IN
THE FREAKING DARK. I'm so excited to have these on the road and can't
wait until they come! If you're a drummer, check out
http://www.vater.com/ for the Skulls, and a ton of other cool stuff.
Packing is always one of the most important aspects of preparing for a
tour. This time, we will be stopping home after the college dates, so
I won't have to actually bring all of my clothes onto the tour bus
right away. Even so, I'm making sure all of my laundry is done before
next week, and buying a few new things to wear now so I can have my
bags packed as if I wasn't coming back. Aside from clothes and
bathroom related items, this time around I am bringing my ESPRESSO
MACHINE! When I was doing my taxes, I saw exactly how many times I
visited Starbucks last year. Then I thought, "If I had my espresso
machine on the bus, I could sleep more, save money, and STILL drink
Mocha Lattes everyday!" I can't wait to tell the rest of the band...I
just told Bess and she's bringing her blender! It's going to be a
People are always asking us what they can bring to us at shows. Most
people bring baked goods or other food. Well, since I'm here talking
about packing and planning ahead, I would like to officially provide a
list of things that I NEVER get enough of and always need on tour. If
you come to a show and bring me any of these things, you will be my
hero and I will hug you! (See below.)
From left to right:
Old Spice Hight Endurance Pure Sport Deodorant
Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter (Chunky)
Nivea For Men Hair and Body Wash
Nivea For Men After Shave Sensitive Skin Extra Soothing Balm
Zyrtec-D Allergy and Congestion
illy Ground Espresso Coffee Medium Roast For Espresso Machines
Crest Glide Comfort Floss Mint
Equal Exchange Drinking Chocolate 57% Cacao Content
(Back) Kashi Go Lean Cereal
As I said before, if you bring any of these things, you are AMAZING!
You can drop them off with our merch person and I promise they will
get to me safely.
Finally, before we leave, we're trying to schedule at least one
rehearsal together. As of today, we're not sure when that will be
because everyone is pretty much going through their own personal
preparation rituals, but hopefully it will happen. I'm fairly certain
we will be covering Britney Spear's "Toxic" on the co-headlining tour,
so I will have to spend some time learning the song AND our
choreography (yes kids, if this actually happens, we will be dancing).
That's all for now! See you again soon!
Thursday, March 11, 2010
2010 is shaping up to be such a great year for music and we are only three months in. With that, we have had some great records but Portugal. The Man have given us our first A+ record of the year. What an achievement, just less than a year after releasing Satanic Satanist, Wasilla via Portland art rockers delivered their best album to day. American Ghetto is a record that shows why they sell out every show, gain more fans with each song and prove that if you are not listening to these guys…well, you are a moron. American Ghetto is the true story of the band’s hometown of Wasilla, Alaska that former Governor Sarah Palin tried to sugarcoat during her campaign for Vice President. This is psychedelic art rock at its finest and a record not to be missed! Take a listen to the interview I did with PTM singer John Baldwin Gourley as he discussed the making of American Ghetto last September HERE.
FINAL GRADE: A+
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
Damon Albarn and his animated band have returned after a close to five year absence. Damon, who is always evolving as a musical artist took the Gorillaz in a direction not seen from the band, it maybe sad to say but a cartoon band has made some better music than most humans. Plastic Beach is a fresh hip-hop, alternative, classical, jazz fusion that boasts guests like Lou Reed, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon of The Clash, Mos Def, De La Soul, Snoop, Bobby Womack and many more. Plastic Beach is the Gorillaz finest hour.
FINAL GRADE: A
Little Boots – Hands
Female fronted electro groups are coming in massive waves, Little Boots is one that is looking to break the mold. Hands, which was released in the UK last fall, finally made it’s way to the US and it is a dance-heavy tour-du-force. Little Boots debut finds her working with Joe Goddard of Hot Chip and from that alone shows she is not messing around. Catchy beats and ultra cleaver lyrics make Hands a record that will have you moving and shaking from start to finish. Take a look at the interview I did with Little Boots last year as I named her my Rising Artist for September HERE.
FINAL GRADE: B
Royal Chains – Bear Island EP
One of my favorite discoveries of 2009 was New York duo The Royal Chains, with their fun live shows and great rockabilly meets garage music, these guys are destined for prime time. The band’s first release is an EP that was just put out on Mike Dirt of The Bravery’s Merrifield Records, Bear Island showcases the band’s raw talent and musical skills in just a handful of songs. I cant wait to hear what they do on a full LP. Take a look at the interview I did with the Royal Chains last August as I named them my Rising Artist for that month HERE.
FINAL GRADE: B
Asa Ransom – The Gold EP
This New York band is one that I just was introduced to and totally dig. Asa Ransom, a five-piece band that moved to New York from Indiana in search of rock and roll glory are one to keep an eye out for. Combining indie and alternative, Asa Ransom will be another band that I am curious to see what they do next.
FINAL GRADE: B
Brett Gleason – The Dissonance
Combining vaudeville, electro and great piano licks, Brooklyn’s Brett Gleason is an artist that is taking his influences such as; Nine Inch Nails, Amanda Palmer, Bjork and Portishead and finding the perfect way to fuse them together. His debut, The Dissonance is a collection of this fusion that is both haunting and beautiful.
FINAL GRADE: B-
Scott Hardkiss - Come On, Come On (Part II)
The second Come On, Come On EP from DJ Scott Hardkiss is a traveling techno safari that features remixes from top indie DJ's like Dean & Britta, Joaquin “Joe” Claussell, and DJ Phunkae for special interpretations and variations of Hardkiss' original track. This EP may have been born, bread and remixed in New York but sounds like it came from the discotheques of Europe and the Middle East and right to your eardrum.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Broken Bells made their TV debut last night on Letterman, take a look at the band performing the epic single "The High Road," off their self-titled debut. The album was just released yesterday, I highly suggest grabbing it!
Bloc Party may not be on the hiatus or disbandment most thought they were. In a recent interview with NME magazine, Bloc Party and current Pin Me Down guitarist Russell Lissack mentioned "We're probably going to pick up again with Bloc Party later this year. I mean, we wrote a lot of new material on the last tour. What does it sound like? It's hard to say. It's still just sketches of songs. The feel will come together in the studio. We're definitely not splitting up, there's a lot more creative life left in it yet." I hope this comes true.
Beastie Boys have given a head's up as to when their much delayed Hot Sauce Committee Pt 1 will be released. The record which was supposed to come out last September but was delayed due to MCA Adam Yauch undergoing cancer treatment for cancer of the preaortic gland and lymph node. Yauch, this weekend was at the Independent Spirit Awards to support his film The Messenger which his company Oscilloscope Laboratories produced, told Entertainment Weekly "It was really disappointing to have to hold the record and postpone the tour, but doctor’s orders. We may or may not depending on how my health is come September. We want to but we have to play it by ear." Yauch later went on to say "We finished the record over a year ago, so we want to take a look at it and re-evaluate and make sure it is what we want to put out there and that we are still happy with it. I don't think we will change it up too much."
For the first time on over a decade Alec Empire and Atari Teenage Riot will play their first concert together at Camden's Electric Ballroom in London on May 12. The controversial techno band disbanded in 2000 after releasing only one record Burn Berlin Burn!. No word yet if more shows or an album will come due to this.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Simple and effective music is the style of playing that Brooklyn hipster band Bishop Allen has displayed through their career. A band that has received non-stop buzz via the blogosphere since the release of their debut, Charm School in 2003. The band's music has been featured in everything from video games, television shows and films and the band even found themselves making a cameo in Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist. As its members Christian Rudder and Justin Rice prep for their next piece of musical achievements, I had the opportunity to speak to one half of the band, as I spoke with multi-instrumentalist Christian Rudder about the band's music, members and why exactly they titled their last record Grrr. Take a look at my interview with Christian below..
At its core, Bishop Allen has always been you and Justin. The band has always seem to have a revolving door of back up musicians, will a solid line-up ever be introduced? Or is the fun of playing with as many musicians as you can the band’s key idea?
CR: We've had the same people for our last four tours. The band's been Justin and I, plus Darbie Nowatka, Keith Poulson, and Michael Tapper. I can only imagine we'll be that way for a while, so I think we've got a solid lineup. Playing with friends *is* a key idea for Bishop Allen, and we're lucky to have found three who are also great musicians.
The band formed in Cambridge and then came down to Brooklyn. What was the reason to come down from Massachusetts? Was the change in atmosphere a change on the band?
CR: Justin and I had been living in Cambridge for seven years, and while we'd always played music together, we weren't really a band then. We actually moved to NYC with the idea to become one. So we came to the City to play music.
Why do you think so many musicians from out of the New York area come down to Brooklyn to base themselves?
CR: New York City is an exciting place to be, and until you're really rich, living (and rehearsing) in Manhattan really isn't an option.
After you debut, you decided to release 12 EPs, one for each month of the year. What was harder, coming up with one solid record or doing a monthly session of a few songs?
CR: With the EP project, we had a very clear framework to write within. 4 songs a month, and everything had to be recorded in our practice space. It was a lot of work, but the structure we'd set up really helped us get it done. Writing an open-ended album is harder, it's more like choosing from infinity.
Will you try an experiment like the EP project again?
CR: I hope so. But it would have to be something totally different.
When working on “Broken String” you decided to pair very uncommon instruments together. From Oboes and banjo’s on "Like Castanets" and Saxophones and ukulele’s on “Butterfly Nets.” How did these fusions of instruments come together? Was it on purpose or pure accident?
CR: It was on purpose, but not planned per se. We were just trying a bunch of stuff and stuck with what sounded best to us.
After the musical fusions on “Broken String” came about, your latest record “Grr” was much more stripped down. Why did you decide to do the opposite on the follow up record?
CR: I'm not sure. I guess most bands follow one record with something different, and so did we. We wanted to make simpler, less bombastic music, and part of that was to keep things sparer than they had been.
Where does the title of “Grr” stem from? Are you angry about something?
CR: Not at all. We like animals, and that's one of the sounds that they make.
You and Justin have appeared in several films, from Funny HaHa to Harmony and Me to Nick and Nora. Will we see you guys act again both together and/or separate?
CR: I myself have no plans to act again, so the odds are low that we'll ever be in the same movie. Justin as far as I know will still be in films from time to time, but he doesn't seek those roles out, they come to him. So it's hard to predict when he'll be acting again. Every movie he does introduces him to more people making movies, so I'm sure his film career isn't over.
Video for "Click, Click, Click, Click" (Above) / Video for "Dimmer" (Below)
Special thanks to Christian for the interview!
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Take a look at my interview with Happy Ending from February HERE.
Scottish indie faves Bell and Sebastian are set to enter the studio for the first time in four years. The Glasgow group expressed in an e-mail to fans "We've been in the studio these last few weeks writing some new tracks and shortly we will say cheerio to Glasgow for a while when we set off to LA to record our next album." No date or time frame as to when this will be released.
The Roots have finally given a release date to their much anticipated new record, How I Got Over. The album is set to come out June 8 in UK, and the following day in the US.
Pin Me Down the new band with former Bloc Party member Russel Lissak is set to release their debut on my birthday - April 19. Take a look at the track listing below:
'Boy Who Cried Wolf'
'Oh My Goddess'
'Pretty In Pink'
'Meet The Selkirks'
'Everything Is Sacred'
Thursday, March 4, 2010
10 BEST FILMS OF 2009
1- The Hurt Locker
2- An Education
3- Star Trek
4- The Fantastic Mr. Fox
5- District 9
6- (500) Days of Summer
9- Up in the Air
10- Inglorious Basterds
**A special nod to James Cameron and Avatar, you cant have a film list from last year without mentioning it. The 3-D experience was one of the greatest I have ever had and was one of the greatest movie going experiences anyone could have. However, when the effects are gone, I felt it doesn't hold what these films did.
My Oscar Picks for 10 Categories:
The Hurt Locker
Sandra Bullock (though I really feel Carey Mulligan or Gabourey Sidibe deserve this)
Best Supporting Actor:
Best Supporting Actress:
Mauro Fiore (Avatar)
Best Screenplay (Original):
Best Screenplay (Adapted):
Up in the Air
Best Original Song:
"The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)" - T. Bone Burnett & Ryan Bingham
R&B Queen Erykah Badu swung by Jimmy Fallon yesterday to showcase her latest single "Window Seat," off her latest Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh. Badu got some support from long time friends The Roots as her backing band, check it out!
Gang Starr member Guru had suffered a heart attack that put the legendary emcee in a coma. After a successful surgery earlier this week, Guru is recovering and issused a statement to Allhiphop.com saying “I am doing fine and I am recovering! I’m weak though.” We wish Guru a nice recovery.
After rejoining his band exactly two years ago, bassist Eric Avery has left Jane's Addiction. Avery rejoined the California Alternative band he founded in 2008 at NME Awards. After recording and touring with his former band, Avery, who just got back from a tour of Oceania with Jane's tweeted "That’s it. With equal parts regret and relief, the Jane’s Addiction experiment is at an end.” I had seen Jane's Addiction twice before Avery rejoined in 2001 & 2003, I had the chance to catch the original line-up of the seminal band with Avery this past summer, take a look at that review HERE.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are set to release their first album of new material in four years, the follow up to 2006's Highway Companion, Mojo will arrive in May. Petty is set to hit the road this summer in support of his latest effort.
LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy is a busy man. Not only has he scored the latest Noah Baumbach film, Greenberg (due later this month), he finished his latest LCD record. The still untitled album will arrive May 18, take a look at the track listing below.
Dance Yrself Clean
All I Want
Somebody's Calling Me
What You Need
Drums (On With The Story)
Twist Me Up
The Future Belongs To Us
Dragging Me Down
Kiss The Sky
Monday, March 1, 2010
Your style is so unique and fruitful. You combine so many different genres, who are some of your biggest influences?
RH: OK here goes. (with the usual caveat that "influences" doesn't necessarily mean "sounds like".
Joni Mitchell (you gotta acknowledge Big Mama)
Rickie Lee Jones
Dr. Teeth & the Electric Mayhem
Theater has always played a major role in your live sets and music. Why is this?
RH: I was born into a theatre family and was in my first play at nine months old. My folks are both Theatre professors. I can't remember a time when I wasn't acting, when Theatre didn't seem like the most important thing in the world. I also can't remember a time when I wasn't making up songs and singing, though I didn't start on the guitar til I was 13. I've always been at home on stage (cue that Decemberists song), and probably because I was an actor first it's the live show that matters most to me when it comes to music.
Aside from making music, you act as well, which do you prefer more?
RH: If there was one I loved more, I'd have chosen it by now. I've always done both, and my life is sort of about living where the two intersect.
You have been releasing records on and off since 1996. How have you changed as an artist since your start?
RH: Musically I'd say the changes have been about paring away, stripping down. My first band came out of the "jam" scene in Providence RI and at that time it was all about playing as much! as many notes! which was how my writing style was then too. A million words, no space to breathe, a few different time signatures over the course of one song. Over time I began to ask myself, "What am I trying to say, and how can I just, you know, SAY it? How can I write poetry that's direct but still a lyric, not a conversation? How can I let a real Melody emerge and stand on its own?" That kind of thing. Also, I used to be too scared to talk to the audience at all!!
And now it's my favorite part almost.
How did you get linked up with The Sexy Children?
RH: In 2006..? I had just finished Crash & Strum with a bunch of sessions players and a hired producer and I wanted to play the songs out the way I heard them, with that full rock-band sound. I couldn't afford to hire "guns" to come in and do gigs consistently, and I also found that setup really demoralizing. What I wanted was a true collaboration with other artists, to create a sound WITH them. But, basically, I gave up on that and started doing mostly solo shows. Then there was one gig - ironically, for the mostly spoken-word series at Bar 13 (LouderARTS) - where I wanted a rhythm section. A friend referred me to drummer Dan Barman who he knew from the Drum & Bass Collective, and Dan suggested Matt Epstein on bass. We played in the corner of Bar 13 w/Dan on hand percussion. I liked them right away because they learned the
songs so fast! :-) and effortlessly and were fun, chill guys. We played more shows, then we formed a band with a guitarist from England for a while named Stuart Mason. He moved back to England and I went to Ireland for a month or so on tour. When I got back , Matt said, "I think my friend Dave Lott from my other band (LICORICE) should be our guitar player", and then he was. I really lucked out. It is true I think - it always happens when you stop looking. :-)
Your last record "Crash and Strum," was released in 2006, is a follow up in the works?
RH: Well, actually this year the Sexy Children and I put out a live EP called "Live at Joe's Pub" from our SOLD OUT debut show there in February 09. It's available on iTunes, from CDBaby, and at all shows. But we've also had an offer from a small startup label to start work on our first studio recording in spring 2010. (I'm spending Jan - March working on a play out of town!) We'll let you know ...
Over the past year or so, more people are starting to take notice to what you have been doing. Time Out New York mentioned "an impressively well-textured voice and a band that brings a potent dose of downtown NYC heat," how do you respond to this acclaim?
RH: By saying "YAY!!!" That writeup made us feel we were finally putting down roots in the NY scene. It was the same year we sold out Joes, that we played BAM, the Knitting Factory mainstage ,and Webster Hall (studio) for the first time. A good year.
Which song of yours means the most to you and why?
RH: I'd say "Planets" is pretty close to my heart because I feel that's where my writing style began to really 'turn' and mature. I feel it's a success in the "clean, direct, but still poetic" department. I like the phrasing; there's no loose ends or anything extra and I'm proud of that. And it's kinda
For anyone that has never listened to you before, how would you describe your style and sound?
RH:Deeply poetic, funky, bluesy rock that doesn't take itself too seriously. It hangs out with the folk tradition sometimes but really doesn't live there anymore. I don't know. What would you say? I heard "Alt-Country" recently and it horrified me at first but then I was like, "that's cool."
Special thanks to Rebecca and Allison Prouty for the interview. For more info on Rebecca Hart check out http://www.rebeccahart.net/