photo by Tear-n Tan
Things web exclusive [random, disjointed bits of our conversation
that may have not made it into the printed feature]
by: Chris David and MVW
you guys end up down here [at South Street Seaport]?
Anthony: "Someone had mentioned taking a boat ride and we were like, 'yeah, a boat ride!' So we ended up down here. It's so bizarre. We're in tourist trap hell. I forgot this existed. I came down here on a middle school trip when I was like thirteen... you don't even remember that this even exists. It's funny though. You realize every city in the world has one of these, and one of those fuckin' guys, and a juggling dude. God dammit. How could you come to a place like this if you were traveling around the world? I guess you'd hit it once maybe. And I guess the boat ride was informative because there was someone talking the whole time."
is right across from the entrance to the infamous "Bodies"
Anthony, [noticing the sign]: "I want to see this really bad. It was just in London and it moved back here, right? We haven't been home and I haven't done anything. We have no time to do things like that, you know? I want to see it so bad."
Carl returns, back from the rest room, just starting on another glass of Pinot Grigio... [doing a flustered old man impersonation]: "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm here now."
Anthony: "Did you get lost in there dude? We have to check out this Bodies thing."
Carl: "I've seen it in London. I did it, in London. It was fascinating. It was three times the size of this one as well. It was disturbing..." (He goes onto describe one of the most memorable parts of the exhibit, featuring a woman's body sliced in half, with half a fetus inside of her).
a hot day and Carl doesn't have a jacket on, I can't help but
notice the large piece of surgical gauze taped on his shoulder,
sticking out of the neck of his t-shirt. What's that, a shoulder
Carl: "I fell on a metal bar on the fucking river. I was at my friend Danny's house, the drummer from Supergrass. He lives out in the countryside. I was at his house four nights ago, at around four in the morning. Long story... but I tripped and I tore my (capezia muscle?). They taped me up.
Anthony: "Then we had a gig and Carl played his first show ever without being able to play guitar. I had to learn his parts..."
Carl: [laughs] "I'm never going back to it..."
that we saw DPTs play twice in a day at SXSW in March.
Carl: "Which show was better?"
Madeline: "The NME show. Maybe it's because it was the first one of the day."
Anthony: "Well, with the NME one, we were still really fuckin' on fire from the night before, and we were probably still drinking the fire water from the night before, basically. That felt like the second half of the previous night's gig."
Carl: "And then the PA cut out."
Chris: How was it, playing in that little shack?
Carl: "We liked that. I wanted to close the doors and put the telly on."
Anthony: "It was cool that NME set it up out there. Afterwards, we went out and ran around the train tracks. It was a nice break from being around the whole Sixth Street scene."
Carl: "We're much better now than we were at SXSW... especially the Thursday. You're lucky on Friday you didn't see that. It was fucking rubbish..."
we get back to talking about the Mean-Eyed Cat in Texas as a venue...Carl: "That place
must be really fucked up when it's not SXSW."
Chris: "They filmed part of Texas Chainsaw Massacre there supposedly."
Carl: "Oh, really?"
Anthony: "It must be a definite experience going there on a regular fuckin' Tuesday night."
Carl: "Yeah, with all the locals, it's just like Camden Town..Where the local people are actually part of the furnishings, and when you go to a party, you don't realize they are alive until they say something like 'This town was made for rock and roll back in '72' [said in Carl's best Texas accent]. Tell me more, tell me more..."
Chris: "Yeah, and I will bet you they are sitting exactly were they were in 1972."
Carl: "In Camden too, there are guys there now that will say it is the same as it was two years ago: 'I was here when The Libertines had a fight.' You know, that sort of thing. When I first went to Camden, everybody got excited because they were just passing through Camden. I think it would be like, you know, 'I'll make the Menswear show...' Then their predecessors would be like, 'When Madness where here...' Then the ones before that would be like, 'When the Pistols where here...' All right, enough about what [Austin] might be like when the SXSW festival is not on."
"I'm surprised you are able to fit in the US tour in August
with all the European/Asian Festivals you are playing on."
Carl: "We just find a way."
Chris: "I guess you guys just don't sleep?"
Anthony: "Yeah, pretty much."
across the courtyard at a guy with red hair]: "Is that Conan
O'Brian? It looks like his hair."
Madeline [laughs]: "No, Conan's like eight feet tall."
Carl orders more pinot grigio from a waiter nearby, who gives him a quizzical smirk. They seem to already know each other.
Carl [laughs]: "We have an ongoing thing. I asked him where the toilet was and he said the eleventh floor... then I just stood there and he looked at me like [makes confused face] and I said, 'where's the toilet?' I thought he was going to spit in my fucking drink., or worse."
you ordered a beer, that could be dangerous."
Anthony: "Yeah, you don't know what's in that. Especially a wuss frozen drink."
Carl: "I don't ask where the restroom is any more. I don't want to be met with 'You can't smoke!'"
I ask them
a bit about what they thought of the notoriously health-conscious
L.A., where they recorded part of the album.
Carl: "I wanted to get away from the distractions, and also, the press. It worked out better this way."
Anthony: "We had our little place. We didn't get too involved in Hollywood things. We had a little time we drove up to Malibu, we tried to take advantage of it."
Chris: "Every time I go out to Malibu it's overcast and rainy."
Anthony: "We were looking forward to getting out of there by the end of it."
Carl: "There was some guy who had a dead shark on the roof of his car. It really reminded me of Point Break, it was just like that. He saw me looking at it so I got a long explanation of how fucking great he was, and how hard it was and how rough it was and how he killed this shark."
Anthony: "Yeah, I got a fucking crazy photo of it, it was as long as the car."
Carl: "Yeah, there were a couple of other weird guys with him and they said that they were going to be living off of it, [the shark], for a month."
Chris: "What kind of shark was it?"
Carl: "It wasn't a fucking Hammerhead!"
Madeline: "Tiger sharks are the scary kind."
Carl: "Do you get Tiger sharks in LA?"
Chris: "I am not really sure."
Carl: "Well, whatever kind you get there, it was that one. It looked just like a mini "Jaws."'
Anthony: "Either that or a small boy playing a joke...That is not a shark, that is just a small boy on the roof of your car... 'Joey get back in there.'"
of accents comes up, and Carl, once a drama student, seems to
have a talent for mimicking different types from different countries.
Chris: "Hey, I'm from Connecticut and we have no accent."
Carl: "Oh, you sound Californian, [mimics surfer], 'Hey Dude'..."
Anthony [continues the mimic]: "Yeah, it was totally sweet man. Everyone in England thinks I am from California, I don't know why. I have also said that before, [Anthony is also from Connecticut --ed.], we have the non-accent, there is nothing there."
Chris: "I knew is was time to move from Boston when I started to mimic the accent there more than not."
Anthony: "Yep, that is the time to go... [saying in his best "Bahston" accent]: 'Dude, fahkan pahty tonight? Moi house, tawns o paut, wauch da soix game. We'll get some beahs and a keg from Mahties.' That is classic..."
Carl [to Ant]: "What about your English accent? It's killer isn't it?"
Anthony: "It is actually hard. I sometimes I do it by accident, or so I am told. But Carl is a master of accents."
Carl: "But not Boston though. English accents I can do."
Anthony: "We'll have to spend a couple of days in bean town [Boston]."
Carl: "And European? European I can do."
[switching gears]: "So, your new album tells a few stories?"
Carl: "I was telling things how they were at the time. I was telling how I felt but I didn't explain why, really."
Madeline: "What about "If You Love A Women..."
Carl [singing]: "...You Musn't Beat Her..."
Madeline: "Was that something personal?"
Carl: "No, that is actually the most lighthearted song on the record."
Anthony: "Yeah, that was something we laughed about for ages. That chorus, if we were hanging out at the house, Carl would start playing that song we would all sing that one little phrase. We would always say that maybe one day that would be a song."
Carl: "I just really wanted to write a song with the word "musn't" in it."
Madeline: "It is a nice contraction."
Carl: "Do you say musn't here [in the US]?"
Madeline: "No, not really. If you did you would sound really pretentious. It is the kind of word we would like to use but can't."
Chris: "You can write it, but you "musn't" say it."
Anthony: "You musn't do that...[mimics valley girl]: 'Oh my God, you musn't do that.'"
Carl: "Right then... Olsen Twins."
BRMC/Peter Hayes (excerpt from cover feature issue 19)
your recent UK tour? It seems you played a couple of surprisingly
intimate shows, like the one at the Garage in London.
Great. If it doesn't work there, it's not really going to work anywhere...
It's how we like to do things. The whole rock and roll untouchables thing
has gone on for too long, you know? It's not what it's about. You're
supposed to be able to feel everybody and have everybody get involved.
going to try to take a step back and not tour as much as you did
with past albums this time around?
If you want us to come, then we'll come. We're not going to try to force it
to happen any other way. It just kind of feels better. If people don't
want us to come, then we won't. [laughs]. We're going to let it live that
way. We do love to tour though.
of the songs on Howl from your past?
"Weight of the World" was a gospel song written for the first album and recorded for the first album, and "Shuffle Your Feet" was around before the band, probably before Nick got here...we felt they were strong songs and deserved to be more than b-sides, you know?
concentrate more on writing acoustically this time around?
Not really..."Love Hurts" was written on an acoustic guitar, but worked better on electric, and still works great on both actually...
"Complicated Situation" didn't make sense to turn into an electric song.
They all kind of come from the same place and rhythm, whether you're banging
on water jugs or shaking keys in a coffee mug. This is just something we hadn't introduced people to, but it's always been part of the band.
side" of some of the songs seem natural for the band, and
it still sounds like BRMC, without so many layers maybe. Was it
liberating to strip down a bit in the studio?
It ended up being surprisingly more layered in some ways. The majority
of songs are a guitar and vocal, but they all turn into six vocals in the
end. So the layering is still there. On the second album, a song would
often end up with six guitars going on, now it's six vocals. It was a lot
of fun, in the spirit of the Beach Boys or Beatles, in a way. I don't know
much about the lives of the Beach Boys or the Beatles, but it seemed like
they were having fun making records. That's basically where we were coming
from, just going out there to try to experiment. The process of making this
album was more psychedelic and experimental than how the actual finished
product sounds. But that's a good thing since it sounds really natural. It
was very strange process doing it [laughs]. When you find yourself playing
a mandolin or a timpani, it's like 'what the fuck's going on here? Why am I
you're dusting off your childhood trombone?
Yeah, that too. It's almost embarassing, but it worked.
THE DANDY WARHOLS (excerpt from cover feature issue 19)
Has your band changed since the last album?
Courtney: ...this band then
versus now is like twelve fucking degrees.
Peter: But it was also very intense, with that month insanely intense, whereas with Monkey House, it was like a year and a half that we were working on it. It just dragged on and on and there was never a moment where there were huge amounts of intense creativity going on. They were sort of just trickling out.
Courtney: Three days every other fucking week, someone would go in there and have a fucking calf.
Peter: We finally figured out that at any given time, if there were more than three people in there, it was a party.
Zia: The party happened between the recording deck and the instruments. Every time you were on your way to listen to a part you'd stop in and have a beer. Every time you went to do a track, you'd have another on the way back. (laughs) It was not conducive to work.
Courtney: (fond of stating its size) Having a studio that is a quarter of a city block, where one thing is going on in one place, with recording going on somewhere else, works. You can have raging parties and still get shit done. That was part of our plan. Back when I was eighteen, I thought, 'this will be great. We can just have people hanging out here all the time and we're recording.' If you don't get precious and say, 'shhhh, this is a tambourine take', when instead people are walking in and shit's going on and the garage door is going up and you hear it in there, it's fucking cool. You just decide not to ever do that thing, which is to be a real pro. Not to be real special about it.
Peter: This is the time it's worked the best though, from start to finish. Thirteen Tales is really close, and Come Down has got some moments, but mainly we're never happy with the mixes.
Courtney: That's part of the problem. What you're trying to do is get the mud out of the way so you can see into the fucking car, you know? You know that song is in there and you know what it feels like, it's fucking awesome, but it feels like you're just noodling and noodling eternally. But then, there it is! Maybe and maybe not...the next day, it may change.
Did you work differently in the studio this time?
Courtney: I think we found out that by not paying attention to whether we're done or in the middle, sometimes you just feel it and say, 'yeah, that's the mix.' You should just be able to hang with your own music. If it's just 'awesome dude!' and it's like 3:30 in the morning and everyone's just hanging out, or no, maybe it's 'ooh, it isn't, and you're like, turn it off!' Either way, it's a huge part of it and we've always got it going on. With the new studio, it's just physically comfortable there. It's a bigger place, more people, more activities. It was like a kick.
the most proud of this album so far?
Courtney: No, it's always the same.
Peter: I reallly truly think that nobody else in the world could have made this record, whereas with some of our others, other people could come close, no other band could do what we did this time. This a truly unique Dandy Warhols record.
Courtney: Yeah, whereas people have imitated Come Down pretty well.
Peter: And Thirteen Tales is a little more straight-forward.
Zia: But there are parts in there that reveal part of what the future holds for us.
Courtney: With all of them, it's kind of the same stuff. But this one's less imitative of anything specifically.
album, it seems you really gave yourselves room to do what you
wanted to do.
Courtney: And why not? The main thing was to not learn anything, not try to break any ground and learn something that we don't know. This was just 'what the fuck is in us? What do we do with our instruments?' We tried not to learn anything about recording or anything. We just tripped out in there. We knew we could hack it all up and remove it later. It was great.
Zia: It was a feeling of low pressure.
QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE
Did I just
walk in on something?", asks Josh. I respond, "No, Joey
[aka new QOTSA drummer extraordinaire, Joey Castillo], and I were
just talking about you, that's okay". Josh fires back, "Oh
yeah, well, I was just talking about me too." Laughing, Joey
throws in, "That's what we do." We are sitting in the
live room of a camouflaged, suburban studio of a friend, situated
in an out of the way locale, somewhere way north of Austin on
I-35. Throughout the afternoon, I couldn't help but wonder how
I was going to get back to Austin central, since taxis seemed
far and few between out here. It seems cabs don't like making
their way out this far, since it was like driving through an obstacle
course, littered with rusted out hulks of abandoned pickup trucks,
barbed wire fences, and swamps.
Josh had been doing a phoner when I arrived. He says, "Dude, this is what he told me... you know, he is typing, so we are taking these pauses and shit, and then he says this, which was totally twisted out, and I said 'no, not really.' At the end he says that this is a ghost written piece where [he] just puts it all together like it [was written by me]. I said 'no way dude.' I asked him where he was, and he said Detroit or some place like that. I said, 'I'll kill you in Detroit...'" Joey chimes in, "That is like with those fucking waiters who take orders from a table of thirty people without writing anything down." Josh adds, "Yeah, they are trying to look cool, like it is company policy." Joey says, "It never ever works." By this point, I am laughing so hard I am near tears, watching these two go back and forth busting on this guy. Josh caps it off, saying, "Yeah, here is your French horn and beef."
"We are like a brand new band with some good old songs," is the way Joshua Homme, (rhymes with Tommy), describes the Queens of the Stone Age's latest release, Lullabies to Paralyze. As with most living, breathing organisms, time impacts things. Sometimes, in an unexpected way, just the passing of time changes perception. Nothing specific within the organism needs to change, but just the nature of today not being yesterday can cause the variation. --CD (excerpt from interview in issue 18)
It was early
on a freezing February afternoon and I was to meet up with Bloc
Party in a walk-up in the East Village. I entered the place to
find guitarist Russell Lissack and bassist Gordon Moakes lounging
on the sofa, watching an old Kiss concert on VH1. The other half
of Bloc Party, Kele Okereke and Matt Tong, were otherwise engaged.
As soon as I sat down, I thought, 'Oh no. I was given the quiet
ones.' Whether they were initially feeling shy, tired, hungover,
or all three, it was obvious that at first, Russell and Gordon
weren't quite in the mood to talk. At first, it seemed the chat
would drag on with far too many uncomfortable pauses, but luckily,
it was only minutes before everyone started to warm up.
I found out
that we were in one of the Vice staffer's apartments, which seemed
like a friendly place for a band to hang out. "You feel immediately
a bit more at ease in situations like this when you're staying
with people," says Gordon, the more talkative of the two.
When we start on the subject of how they've been spending their
few days in New York, I have to nudge Russell to make sure he's
still awake, and he says, grinning from under that famous haircut
(dubbed the "Bloc Head" in Britain), "Sorry, it's
been a late night." They had been out until the wee hours
dj'ing at The Futureheads' after party.
It seems neither
band member had yet fully recovered from the previous night or
from their early morning spent battling bitter winds during a
photo shoot down at the Williamsburg waterfront for Vice Magazine.
"It's quite an unorthodox magazine, so it will be interesting
to see how we're depicted. Especially since we're on Vice Records."
Gordon laughs. Initially, Bloc Party's first EP was released through
DimMak, but soon enough, Vice got interested in the band and signed
them quickly. "We didn't meet with a great deal of labels
in the U.S.," Gordon says. "Vice just stood out for
us. They've got some great bands on the label, and we seem to
fit in there."
Bloc Party had just played the infamous Motherfucker party in New York a few days before. "It's hard to create that kind of excitement every night, so it's good to do those only once in a while. It's quite special...", says Gordon. So far, the band doesn't seem too surprised by the excitement they are causing at parties like these or at larger shows on this side of the Atlantic. Gordon says, "It's hard to know what to expect from other countries. As a band, we first came to New York in September. But now, having been here a couple more times, and played in front of people, met people, it makes sense that they like what we do." He then starts to laugh, realizing that what he said may have come off as cocky. He adds humbly, "We're happy."
bands often feel that New York audiences are standoffish and haughty,
Gordon doesn't agree. "Really? Compared to London, I wouldn't
say so," he says. "Londoners are notoriously unexcited...I
think London audiences are great for us, but our experience with
playing New York is that people have been more excitable,"
To those living
outside of the UK, it may seem that the members of Bloc Party
descended on the music scene and became famous in the pages of
British weeklies like NME overnight. However, success didn't really
happen all that faster for them than it does for most deserving
musicians. Russell started playing guitar when he was fifteen
and had been in one band before Bloc Party got together. He had
some lessons early on, but for the most part, he learned to play
as most kids do, by listening to favorite CDs and learning to
play songs that he liked. "The lessons were good for the
basics, but I didn't really like them because I had to play the
blues. I wasn't really interested in stuff like that." Gordon
interrupts him with a fake sneer, "so you wanted to play
indie rock?" --MVW (excerpt from issue 18)
It is admirable
to profess that you are not in it to become top dog. But if you
are not fighting to be number one, someone else is. Being number
two is just being the first loser. "That is true, it's true,
I just hope that people are not just in it for that," Serge
says. "Not to be just chasing that number one. I think it
is more about just making good music because it means a lot to
people. You realize that traveling around the world, seeing kids
in Tokyo going as mad as kids in fucking Birmingham, is just powerful
shit. I don't mean it in a wanky way, it's just that we are able
to bring that enjoyment to people and makes them want to do something,
whatever that happens to be."
--CD (excerpt from issue 17)
You always have to start somewhere, so it's best to start first
among friends [laughs]. Has the success you've achieved so far
seemed to happen quickly, or was it a slow process of playing
hundreds of tiny gigs wherever you could?
ROSS: For the first eighteen months or so of being the band, I don't think we played a show outside of our hometown. It's really been only in the last year and a half to two years that we've had any element of success outside of our local area.
How did you start to gain fans outside of your town? Did you play
a show in London that started the ball rolling?
ROSS: A couple summers ago, we did a tour of squat clubs in Germany, Holland and Switzerland. Those were the first shows we played outside of our hometown. It was just a case of jumping in the back of a transit van and doing three weeks of shows in these youth centers, cafes and squats... I think that when we got back from that tour, we kind of decided to put a little more energy into the band. Up until then, I was studying at University and the other three guys all had part time jobs. We were just doing it as an "on the side" sort of thing. After that tour, we put our full efforts into playing as many shows as we possibly could. We decided to get more shows around the UK. That ended up including a few nights in London and some A&R folks came around. We signed a singles deal with an independent label called Fantastic Plastic.
Yeah, I like them a lot. They have good bands, like Ikara Colt...
ROSS: Yeah. So we did a few singles with them and then 679 Records bought out that contract and then we put out first record on that label in July this year. So for us, it's been a very gradual process. We've done it in the way it's been most comfortable for us, in the sense that we've been playing shows long enough now to be very comfortable with ourselves. We're self-assured without being kind of cocky or arrogant. We're confident enough in what we do to just try and have a good time when we play. We don't let any big occasions get the better of us, really. I think that was the beauty of that whole Franz Ferdinand tour. Those shows were something that we were excited about doing, rather than something we were nervous or anxious about.
I think your songs will really catch on fast here. Your music
sounds much more mature than what you might expect from a band
that hasn't really been around for so long.
ROSS: [laughs]. That's really nice to hear, you know? All we hope, when we come back to the States again, is that the shows gradually get a little bigger and we get the chance to do another record on top of this one. Though we aren't really in the zone in regards to thinking of our second album...by the same token, being signed to a major label, you have to be aware that there are some expectations. It's just nice for us to feel like it isn't going to be a problem for us to make that next record. It seems to be all going really well for us.--MVW (excerpt from issue 17)
NEW CD REVIEWS Issue 19
Supergrass - Road to Rouen (Capitol
English rock stars continue their rock and roll journey with Capitol.
Supergrass has officially reached the caliber of classic rock. On their last album they announced that they had been to space and discovered something new, and it was exactly what we needed in rock. Their new album, Road to Rouen, is full of taste and distinction.
of Endurance" is a down-home English romp of an acid trip
complete with bumps of understanding and deeper reality; part
Neil Young-school in its sensibility for arrangement and guitar
work, and possibly the beginning of a rock odyssey. Acoustic strumming,
light key textures and saloonish piano interact with subtly sweeping
country flourishes similar to those on Led Zeppelin III.
A symphony of synthetics masquerading as an orchestra introduces
itself and dissipates quickly. "St. Petersburg" is like
a ballad from a movie filmed in an exotic, lonely location. Its
chorus harmonies are understated and slight, rendering it something
that Jellyfish could have written shipwrecked on an island and
all out of melancholy.
Girl," a beautiful, medium-slow jam with more keyboard layering,
Gaz Coombes exhibits his characteristic sense for beautifully
unpredictable melody and harmony in the tradition of Wings and
XTC. A whopper of a harmony is present on the chorus, and like
the best late 60's rock, is absolutely integral to the part.
is the cut. "Roxy" is a modern wall of sound complete
with a relentless downbeat on verses, and lullaby choruses where
fantastic melody, dreamy Rhodes piano and guitar strumming remain.
"Hello my honey and beautiful friend/It's hard to imagine
it's come to an end, but" The poignancy drips on like nectar
as these lines give way to a multi-layered, three part harmony
of heavenly proportion. The end of the song pulls itself into
a vortex much as a modern "A Day in the Life" would.
in the Pot," an ideally sequenced comedown from the philosophical
waning of "Roxy," is a mid-tempo country trot of feather-light
drums, clickedy-clack percussion, and bass with Hawaiian tremolo
guitar floating over it.
track is the perfect example of Supergrass' broad perspective
of rock and roll: a Kansas meets The Fixx propulsive sort of groove
for the verse and a fleeting but memorable chorus. Bass notes
are bent beyond the norm, and funky, R&B guitar swells abound.
Synths bubble faintly in the background in Talking Heads appreciation.
Neil Young's sense of impact-- pianos and bell tones coming down
like hammers at the right moments--is exhibited with taste and
Supergrass' own sense for it.
in the Teeth" is an eighth note rocker with creamy guitar
distortion and oscillating synth weaving itself between George
Harrison-style guitar picking. The get in get out chorus: "The
heartache would be fun/But I just can't get my head around what
you want," is rock and roll luminosity. All eventually gives
way to a harmony that the Beach Boys would envy--guitars boldly
staying loud and clear.
C," what begins as a Cat Stephens-like, slow, bass on the
downbeat, piano on the up acoustic ballad with a soulful drawl
and sensitivity to words and melody, evolves into staggering harmonies
as the beat double times into Marc Bolan's unrealized wet dream:
a sort of Queen piano chops optimism meets the bittersweet-ness
Ninth and last, a slow, flanged out vocal in the Jerry Garcia tradition sweetly croons over a drum pulse much like the ones used on more current Radiohead albums. Ultimately, this dynamic album is the best thing in rock and roll since The Darkness' Permission to Land.--Vincent
Benny Girl CD (self-titled/self-release)
I've done it myself, desperate for something new, I step up to a listening station at the local record conglomerate and take a listen to a random band with interesting album art, blah, blah, blah. You may hear a few bars of the first song; skip to the second and so on and so on. In which case one might feel compelled to pick up the debut self-titled album from Benny Girl. The melodies are pretty enough and the sweeping gestures of the piano and synthetic elements are engaging. Yet, more than likely, this impulse buy will get shelved after two or three listenings and forgotten. The mix is cloaked in so much jazzy-sounding instrumentation that the music becomes a dense wall, and paired with the drama heavy vocals and storybook lyrics, it becomes a cast recording of an off-Broadway musical. Now that may sound appealing to some listeners, because for what Benny Girl is attempting, they do a decent job. But for the most part, you'd be better served doing some research the next time the need for new music arises.--Kristina Baranovich
Rescue Through Tomahawk CD
Alaska! reminds me of a band caught somewhere between Pavement and Cheap Trick, a little bit sleazy in the sleepy way they pace their power pop chords. Lead singer, Imaad Wasif sounds like a streetwise Bono singing through hot cotton, especially on "Surrender" where he puts a come on undertow in all that "Where The Streets Have No Name" earnestness. Wasif's guitar work has a plodding, groping heaviness like Sonic Youth writhing in melted tar. But it's that slightly foreboding sexualized edge that give Alaska! a discernible mood. Beyond nailing that atmosphere, the band could use a few change-ups in its style. By the time the saving grace of "The Lights" rolls around, a ballad that morphs into a balls out onslaught, one wonders why they didn't pull out these stops before and why, after a few songs, they sound like the "bad touch" version of indie rock cruise control. --Terry Sawyer
- Good Things CD
When he was found dead in his London flat in 1997, an apparent suicide, Epic Soundtracks (born Paul Godley) was working on his fourth solo album. Soundtracks began as a drummer with the Swell Maps in the late '70's, following his brother Nikki Sudden through a few mid-list English power-pop bands in the '80's (most notably the Jacobites), to reinvent himself as a song-writing piano balladeer in the '90's. His passing was noted in England, but registered little more than a ripple on this side of the pond. Eight years after his death, the tracks he left behind have been released. Why? Not clear, especially when a previous odds and sods posthumous collection, "Everything is Temporary," was released in 1999. Perhaps brother Sudden (who help mixed the songs) wanted to see the catalogue complete at last. This is a really rough demo, with Soundtracks singing over piano and guitar, supplemented occasionally by a second guitar and some additional vocals. The songs are starkly presented and Soundtracks' singing has a certain emotional weight, but there isn't much to hide the lack of top quality tune smithing. The playing is pedestrian and the lyrics are banal. An unfinished work, like the life of Soundtracks himself. -- T.J. Wolfsbane
- Self-titled CD
Martha has finally caught up with the rest of her family and, at the age of 28, is releasing her debut album. Having grown up with older brother Rufus and with folk legends Loudon Wainwright and Kate McGarrigle as mom and dad, Martha has been surrounded by music her entire life. All it takes is to hear the first track, "Far Away," to know that music is in Martha's blood. Her songwriting is heartfelt and passionate, and her voice unwavering. There is something jagged in the prettiness of her voice, a tough directness bubbling just below the surface of this girl and her guitar, making Martha all the more alluring. This is a dynamic debut from a versatile artist. --Liz Worth
Palomar 3.5 EP
The name Palomar reminds me of a sitcom from years ago. It involved John Ritter and Billy Bob Thornton pulling an all nighter to craft one of those trashy romance novels. I believe Palomar happened to be the name of the heroine's horse. Having said this, Palomar is not coming up with hokey pap here. Rachel Warren has the voice of a folk singer while blooming into something more of a Go Go's pop diva in the name of rock and roll. The added whoa oh ohs do for pop rock what the 5,6,7, 8's did for Rockabilly, swing off the song "Woo Hoo." "Stay Out Late" is cute for it's rootsy, merrily we stroll along harmonies despite it feeling a bit out of place on the record. Still, about one third of this six song EP warrants the desire to get up and dance thanks to the influx of pop. That's enough for me to form a good opinion. --Elias Zajchenko
- Let There Be Morning CD
Sweden's The Perishers' American debut LP is a lull and wistfully quiet record. Let There Be Morning at times recalls The Man Who era Travis ("Sway") and even The Frames ("My Heart"). The Perishers have unfortunate timing. Their melancholy and hopeful gloom clearly evokes winter and is not exactly the best soundtrack for spring. However, this may be a moot point as they have already been featured on (ironically) The O.C. They are currently in the midst of a North American arena tour opening for Sarah MacLachlan. -- John P. Darcy
Ate Me - On Vacation CD
(5 Rue Christine)
This two disc THE ROBOT ATE ME release makes me cry. If you want to cry too, On Vacation is for you. Now can I have a tissue please? I'm very sad now, and it's THE ROBOT ATE ME's fault. Well that and . . . oh, never mind. Don't worry about me. I'll be fine once I get this record off. Where the fuck is my copy of MMMBop! --D.W. Friend
Kidnapped by Neptune CD
She hates being compared to Cat Power (everyone does it anyway), but as her third album plays in the background, It dawns on me that the comparison isn't so much warranted, as it's one of the few comparisons one can make. Truth is, there are not a lot of rocking with their socks off female singer/songwriters. I was overjoyed when I discovered The Breeders, then equally ecstatic with Cat Power. This CD is wacked, a welcome addition to a growing tradition. The guitar is raw and crackles with a verve that is in perfect harmony with Emma (Scout) and her teetering on the edge of creation whisper singing. The drums steal in as if they were playing themselves, actually the whole CD has the effect that Scout were a conjurer of sorts, a playroom rag doll that brings all the toy instruments to life to rock out with her. If I were the kid in possession of this doll I'd pack the whole band into my radio flyer wagon and take the show on the road.--Kristina Baranovich
Band - Nice and Nicely Done CD
The charm of Pavement and early Replacements, the cream of a lost generation of garage rockers, was the visceral sincerity that lay beneath the sloppiness and cynicism. Much of the time, the Spinto Band sounds a great deal like Pavement, but the scent of commercialism floats ominously over the commitment to rock. One song on this debut CD, "Japan is an Island", endorses a Japanese computer-game manufacturer with such lack-of-irony that you swear you are listening to an advertisement. But another, "Late", is a Britpop-ish gem that completely kicks. Inconsistent, but with hints of greatness. -- T.J. Wolfsbane
- My Little Fire-Filled Heart CD
For her second album, Lycia alumnus Vanflower takes us for a leisurely walk to the corner of Mescaline and Lewis Carroll. From there, we wander around in her soundscapes, which offer no promise to guide us back home. The opening "Ligertily" is cleverly resolved in the closing "Tigerlily". Her vocals become more beautiful and cohesive on the cover of Death In June's "The Honour of Silence." "Naked King" stands alone for its spoken-word aggression. A lot of the singing reminds me of Jarboe - siren songs laced with dementia. "Wren" fades into a recording of rain which lasts several minutes. Though it's never quite as scatter-blissed as Loveliescrushing, My Little Fire-Filled Heart is a gently unsettling CD. --Scott Sweet
Brothers We Don't Care About Your Good Times CD
"Rock and Roll is Dead" is swept away from my mind when
I take a listen to The Turpentine Brothers debut. The album We
Don't Care About Your Good Times is a bona fide article of rock
that, with a little luck, will blow up high and wide. The track
"Somethin's not right" sounds like a cover to the Dead
Kennedy's "To Drunk To Fuck" only with a much more aggressive,
fist swinging Justin Hubbard playing the role of Jello Biafra.
"Wrong Night" is one of those instrumental diamonds
for moonlight walks in a so-called ominous Sin City that's just
elected a new sheriff with equally ominous credentials. The percussion
of Tara McManus on "Pow Wow" is pure delight with the
accompaniment from Zack Brines' organ/bass keyboards. It might
actually prove that the idea of playing Cowboys and Indians in
the house as a kid is entirely beneficial for a child's development.
The Zincs - Dimmer CD
(Thrill Jockey Records)
Led by Britain's Jim Elkington (Sophia, Elevate), The Zincs return with their sophomore album. Dimmer is full of hushed pop rock that sounds decent enough but doesn't have much of a punch. Elkington's vocals do have allure as his words flow soothingly, and he would likely be swept up by fans who prefer their men to be on the underwhelming side of music. Still, this disc is not without its notable moments, especially "Moment is Now," a track that does have some kick in it with its sharpened guitars and irresistible drive. "Stay In Your Home" broods and plods along with a country-twinge as Elkington sings about toxins and cigarettes and dying before he hits 30. There is some attraction, but be patient in getting to it. --Liz Worth
Sound of zZz - CD
This I like! I was starting to think, "You know, maybe I
don't really like music after all." with all of my unfavorable
reviews in this issue of The Sentimentalist. But here it is. This
is the stuff. Good music, done right. Drums. Vocals. Organ. Two
guys. But oh man o' man, what these two men from the Netherlands
do with 'em. I bet you when Robby Krieger left the room, Ray Manzarek,
Jim Morrison and Jon Densmore kicked out some crazy shit that
sounded like this. Krieger was probably all, "Wha? Wha? Wha'd
I miss?" when he came back in from the can. And Jim would
be all, "Nothing. Nothin' Bob. Let's just play Spanish Caravan
again. Okay?" -- D.W. Friend
After a frigid recording process, literally speaking, which took place this past winter, Radio 4 has figuratively continued putting more wood on the fire. The band's continual reshaping of dance-groove infused music has indeed paid off, giving the infamously wide spectrum of what is considered as indie rock an even sweeter sense of variety. As you might guess from the title, Radio 4's 3rd release, Stealing of a Nation, refers to the politics of today, or moreso, to the point of promoting awareness as to what's going on. With that in mind, Radio 4 has included these issues of importance into their own homemade centrifuge. Its spin cycle will leave you to ponder not just politics but the ongoing question --whether to dance or not to dance? It is the hope of Radio 4 that you will go with the first choice.
Sentimentalist: Every time I type in the name Radio 4 when searching on the Internet I keep getting links for--
Tommy: (abruptly) The BBC?
Tommy: When we go to England, going through customs, every single time without fail, they ask us what's the name of our band? We say Radio 4. We get something like, do you know there's a radio station named that over here? Luckily we only hear it when we go to the UK, so it's not too bad.
Sentimentalist: I had to bring it up.
Tommy: That's okay.
Sentimentalist: I was reading on your websites bio that the band seems to be composed of members of the Long Island punk rock scene from back in the day. There's some distinct difference from what I've experience in hardcore and punk to what Radio 4 is putting out now. What led to the direction change?
Tommy: When we started Radio 4, the current state of indie rock at that time was really shoegaze. There was no real interaction between the band and the crowd. Shows were a bit boring. We just wanted to do something based in rhythm that would get a reaction from an audience and get people to dance.
Sentimentalist: You just got back from Europe. How was that?
Tommy: We did some incredible festivals. I love doing the festivals because you get to see bands you wouldn't ordinarily get to see because you're on tour. I've gotten to stand on stage and watch P.J. Harvey. On this past run, I stood on stage and watched Sonic Youth. I think it's a perk of being in a band because you get to see these people right there in front of you.
Sentimentalist: In regards to touring over in Europe as opposed to the States, is there a noteworthy difference?
Tommy: We haven't toured the states in two years. We're about to leave for our first tour in the states since 2002. Europe is just amazing. You get treated so well. People are usually pretty eager to hear music. It kind of seems that in the bigger cities people might take advantage of the fact that they could go see 10 shows a night. Some might go out, see the band they want to see and then split. Everyone kind of does that. But in Europe, people really want to see what's going on and they're really into it.
Sentimentalist: I've read that one time in the past you were in Germany and there was a sign out front of the club you were playing that was promoting "no Americans to be allowed inside". Have you gotten any similar vibes like that in your recent touring?
Tommy: I think that was just silly. There were two American bands playing that night that sold out their club. I think the people assume or understand that bands in general are not going over there to preach the word of George Bush or anything. That was just one incident out of a million times we've played there.
Sentimentalist: It's been mentioned by Anthony that for the album GOTHAM you guys didn't make any demos. He said that you didn't even have a rehearsal tape. How did you approach this album as far as production?
Tommy: It was just more thought about. We wrote 18 songs in the span of three and a half, four months. Andrew and I would be in different places making demos giving it to everyone so that they could come up with parts. There wasn't enough time to do what we did with GOTHAM. In GOTHAM we were just a three piece and now we're a five piece. Gerard had a couple bass lines for songs and P.J. was a big part of the writing of the record because we wanted to have percussion be more of a featured instrument rather than a background. We worked as hard as we could in the short amount of time that we had.
Sentimentalist: The engineer, Phil Palazzolo, commented that for every Radio 4 album there's always been an improvement in things, such as a little more money thrown into the mix. But in the end it was his opinion that the production side of things is never completely comfortable as it could be. Would you that an independent environment is the way Radio 4 produces best?
Tommy: Definitely. I'm sure the conditions influenced the writing of the record. I wouldn't want to be in a posh studio. We always invite our friends down and we hang out and drink while writing tracks. But that's just the type of people we are. We're not used to having really nice things. Even if this record sold 10 million copies, I would still want to do it the way we do it because that's the way we're used to doing things.
Sentimentalist: You guys are strong advocates of what's going here in New York as far as the cabaret and zoning laws enforcing dancing to be illegal without a license. In the past 40 years, the city of New York has gone from having well over 10 thousand clubs for dancing and as of 2001 that number was down to just over 200. As a New Yorker who lives here, do you think that this restriction is bound to change or let up a bit?
Tommy: I think it could
change. What we're doing is just making people aware of it. When
we do interviews in Europe, without fail, that question comes
up. We're not out to change the world. We just talk about the
things we go through and the things we see that are important.
We're a dance band so it definitely affects us. --Elias Zajchenko
Recent CD Reviews
The Billy Nayer Show - Rabbit CD (self-released)
Nayer Show, a partnership between Cory McAbee and Bobby Lurie,
has been around for more than ten years, with a resume and cult
following to prove it. Not only do they put out records and publications,
but they also make films. The American Astronaut, a "musically
driven space western," was an Official Selection at the Sundance,
Toronto and Moscow International Film Festivals. McAbee's artwork
has also appeared on the band's promotional postcards and album
covers. This gesamtkunstwerk revolves around a very distinct artistic
vision that has been described as strange, frightening yet endearing,
and verging on the psychotic. This, of course, piques my interest.
Their forthcoming album, Rabbit, is based on McAbee's illustrated
novella of the same name - an Orwellian, semi-autobiographical
narrative that recounts the adventures of Rabbit and his rise
to fame in the City of Animals. "Rabbit" is the soundtrack
for this tale, with songs that are hard-edged, heavy and no-nonsense.
"Mama Hen" is the song for the girl Rabbit longs for,
since we learn that Rabbit is charming and has no lack of female
companionship. "Handsome," with a prominent, driving
bass line, is an homage to (what else?) Rabbit's good looks. But
you will have to read it and hear it for yourselves. As for me,
I want to meet this rabbit.--Maria Antigone Doiranlis
Borgnagar - Epic CD (Century Media Records)
From Norway and Sweden comes this frosty musical whirlwind, a veritable blast of cold Northern progressive metal; and I do mean cold, both in terms of production and feeling, which in this instance is how it should be! On this, their sixth album, the Borgagar crew includes Vintersorg on lead vocals, mastermind Oystein G. Brun on guitars, Lars A. Nedland (from SOLEFALD!) on keyboards and backing vocals, and Asgeir Mickelson on drums. In short: the usual over-abundance of talent and depth. The album is appropriately titled "Epic," a challenge from the band never wavers. Indeed, the album is extremely complex, both lyrically and musically, sometimes to a fault; in some instances it feels as if the band is being complex simply for the sake of being complex. But there are glorious moments, and we salute Borgnagar for pursuing to the Nth degree their incredible vision, one that is truly unique in progressive metal.-- Gilles de Montmorency
The Go Find - Miami CD (Morr Music)
The Go Find is Dieter Sermeus, a Belgian one-man act. His new
release is a collection of sufficiently catchy electronic pop
songs with pretty vocals. Several tracks, such as the standout
"City Dreamer" and "What I Want," are reminiscent
of the Postal Service, while the Cure and Duran Duran are influences
as well as touchstones on tracks like "Bleeding Heart."
Sermeus made a good decision in teaming up with Arne Van Petegem
(see also: Styrofoam) to make this record, because the production
is outstanding. If you like your music with a little bit of guitar
and a whole lot of laptop, then this is a choice pick.--Kate
Pinback - Summer in Abaddon CD (Touch and Go Records)
Although they tour as a five-piece, in the studio San Diego's Pinback is strictly a duo. Armistead Burwell Smith (who is also in 3 Mile Pilot) and Rob Crow (who is also in Thingy) layer guitar, keyboards, and bass into polished mid-tempo pop. In their third full-length release, the emphasis is on melody and complex structures that sound deceptively simple because of the restrained, stripped-down, chord-free, single-note instrumentation. Reminiscent of an early, relaxed Police. --T.J. Wolfsbane
Radio 4 - Stealing of a Nation CD (Astralwerks)
Who knew Radio
4 would turn out such a polished piece of indie perfection?
With the release of Stealing Of A Nation, Radio have set
themselves apart from the pack. This record is mature, professional
and extremely well-produced, but still keeps the band's street
cred intact. With tracks such as "Coming Up Empty",
"Give Me All Your Money", and "Party Crashers",
Radio 4 is sending out an alert that the NY bar, (and I don't
mean in a litigious way), has been raised. Someone at Astralwerks
has their head on straight if this is what we can always expect
from their artists. Stealing Of A Nation is
PJ Harvey has left behind the poppier side of life that she found on Stories from the City... with her latest CD, Uh Huh Her. She's gone back to her roots, some may say, with this very personal album. The songs on this CD are at once minimal, absorbing and intense. This lady has a raw power and staggering honesty that most musicians can only dare to achieve in dreams. But don't take my word for it, here are a few thoughts from Polly Jean herself...
Do you prefer writing or performing?
PJ: ...Without a shadow of a doubt I would say performing, because for me, that is where the music makes sense. For me, music is something intangible, and I like the beauty of the fact that it's moving in time and you can't nail it down and you can't pin it down. I always think that songs are their most beautiful when they're performed live...you have one of those sensations of 'That was a beautiful moment in time, and it passed through me, and it's gone.' And sometimes when you're just driving around, you have a sensation like that, of just being overwhelmed by something beautiful, and that feeling, that taste in your mouth is just gone, and that's why music is endlessly fascinating and untamable to me. You know, when you make a record, you don't actually see the reaction of people when they're listening to that record or what it does for them, but when you're playing, to have people who are visibly getting lost in the moment, and you are too, is really an uplifting and life affirming experience for me. And I don't know about the word performance, just the happening of music at that moment in time rather that a recorded piece of music.
So writing would be next on the list?
PJ: ...second on my list would be writing. Again, because it's something that happens in a moment in time when an idea is forming. It seems to come from nowhere, and it seems to pass through you, and you miss catching it, and it's gone. If you catch an idea with a butterfly net or something, then it kind of moves through you and changes and becomes something else, and all that is so exciting as a writer because you're moving with it in time, so you're moving with it and making it and shaping it and then the time is gone and it's finished and you'll never write that piece again. That quality of life and death of a piece...
How do you feel about recording?
PJ: Recording would come last for me because I find it a very painful experience, very difficult, very draining. I lose all my energy. Everything is channeled to it, I find it hard to concentrate on anything else. It's racking in a sense that you have to keep questioning yourself over and over again, 'Is this right, is it the best it could be?' And then you finally arrive at something you think you're happy with, you think, because you're never a hundred percent sure, and you have to stop that in time and say 'Okay, it's the best I can do for now,' and forever live with that piece and never change it again. I am notoriously bad at it, at making final decisions...so having to make a final decision on something being as good as it can be can be very difficult.
You acted as producer on this record--how did that work out for
PJ: I'm thinking of producers I've worked with in the past, Flood and Steve Albini and then Mick Harvey and Rob Ellis on the Stories album. Having a producer is having someone to bounce off of, so if you're unsure of something you can ask their opinion, or if you're tired one day you can lean on then and say 'Look, can you just steer the ship today, because I'm exhausted and I can't think straight.' But they're a sounding board for ideas, they're a suggester of ideas that you never would have thought of yourself, an eye opener when you can't see for mist, a very large influence. Since I started making records, which was twelve years ago, my ambition was to one day feel confident enough to produce my own album without anyone else's help. And this was the first time that I felt that I had reached that position, that I felt confident enough in myself as a human being that I could carry out my ideas and hopes and wishes for the record. I did have quite a role in the engineering of the record as well because many of the songs were recorded at my home on my four track or my eight track, both of which are quite simple machines. I like the beauty of the simplicity of it. So most of the recordings had taken to a point where they were finished, apart from the drums basically, and then I chose to take that into the studio, transferred it into a 24 track machine, and worked on top of it, adding drums, maybe re-doing some vocals if the sound I wasn't happy with, rewrote a couple of songs...So there were a couple of times that that didn't work out and we had to start from scratch, but most of the songs were already almost completed by myself at home, and the finishing touches were done in the studio.
Tell us a bit about the artwork for the CD.
PJ: For a long time, I've wanted to have an album's artwork that was purely pictures of me, me, me, me, and me. No! [laughs] Since I was at art college, (and I think it's called an art college of obsession of oneself and examining one's innerself)...I remember when I was casting myself in plaster, and I think it's something that everyone at art college goes through. Since then, I had always regularly taken pictures of myself in the mirror, I guess to document the changes over the years, you can see yourself getting older and you can remember exactly the time when you took that picture and how you were feeling...so it's sort of a tradition that I started...When I was thinking about the artwork for this record years before I thought, 'One day I would just like to have a collection of my self-portraits for the artwork. That would be really important to me, a document of my journey to this point.' And like I was explaining about how I've only just felt at the point in my life where I can produce myself and trust in that, produce my own record and make it entirely my record to document my journey to now. And I've made it in a very simple way.
The simplicity of the photos reflects the simplicity of the songs?
PJ: That is something I discovered while making it, that left to my own devices and my own production, I choose to make things sound simple, lo-fi, not like how I even thought I might do. I thought, producing my own record, I might kind of make them more sparkly and brush them up a bit, and I found that every time I tried to do that, I just took it all away again. I didn't like it, just everything had to get off from the songs, and I discovered that they basically sound like my demos do, which is sparse, homespun, raw and sort of messed up , not quite right, something a bit not quite right about it. And that's why I discovered with this, actually that is how I like to hear things. And I actually didn't realize that before. I thought it was just the way I made my demos, and I put down that strange soundingness of them to the fact that they were not finished. But then this whole record has ended up sounding like that...so then, the artwork being a mish-mash of things that have been homemade over the last 20 years, some of the pictures are quite old, and felt entirely appropriate for it. Having said that, I chose as my assembler of my pieces a friend who I've worked with since I was eighteen, or seventeen. So she is part of my life, part of my journey, and she felt like the person that I could safely hand into the lap all these ideas I had for the artwork, and knowing that she new me inside out as a person, she could assemble it in a way that she felt presented the images best. Because I think that's something I didn't want to be the producer of, the artwork totally, I felt that I needed an outside opinion to make it work for other people to view.
How do you know when a song is finished?
PJ: Basically, when the song is working it's magic on you, you know that it's complete and doesn't need anything extra. Having said that, there were songs that were already working their magic on me, and I thought, 'But I can't just leave it like that,' because it would only be 3 things on it--a keyboard, a voice and a strange clinky sound in the background. So I thought 'Well, I must try other things.' And I tried putting everything on it, and I realized I just took it all away again to leave it as it first was. And you do know when a song is finished because it moves you in some way. It makes you laugh, or it makes you excited, or it makes you feel like you've gone right inside yourself. A song is finished when it stands up on its own as well, when it stands outside of you, and it becomes something in its own right. It doesn't have to be attached to you any more, it doesn't need its umbilical cord or whatever to you. It just suddenly floats off on its own. Oh there, it's done and it's finished.
Though their name may conjure up something dark, heavy or screamingly punk, The Killers are actually none of the above. Instead, they are one of the best new "feel good" rock bands. With their Britpop sound, tinged with the glamorous 80's style of bands like Duran Duran, The Killers are about to become your new favorite American band. Watch for The Killers on their next U.S. tour, including a NYC show soon. We recently talked to Dave, the band's guitarist, about The Killers' quick rise up the charts and their latest release, Hot Fuss.
How did you go about writing the songs on Hot Fuss?
DAVE: Each song was written differently. For example, "Everything" was written by Brandon at home, then we recorded it, and I put guitar parts over it and it was done. For "Somebody", Brandon came up with the words and the idea, but we [bass and Dave-guitarist) came up with the music. It's pretty split...whatever sounds good should be played and made into something. Sometimes it's quick--"Smile Like You" was done in 10 minutes during practice, but "Believe Me Natalie" took forever, a month, since it had so many different versions.
How did you first hook up with a label? It happened for you overseas
first, didn't it?
DAVE: Yeah, we signed to a UK label first, then someone saw us in the US and brought us to a friend at Lizard King. They wanted to sign us immediately and there were no other offers. A month later, we did a week's worth of shows, then came back in November with BRITISH SEA POWER. We stayed on to mix with Alan Moulder. By that time, it was almost Christmas. Then we went back[to the UK] in Jan., Feb. and March with Stellastarr, then did a two month tour of the US. We went back to UK after that and it was completely different. We had two videos, we headlined our own tour, and it was sold out every night... We play London's Mean Fiddler and then, in July, the Astoria. It's already sold out too.
Did you have any difficulties playing in Las Vegas when you were
There was no way we could afford to tour in the beginning. We stuck out in Vegas. We were unique, and this got attention of our manager. There's a lot of punk there, lots of rap metal and emo...nothing original.
How did you go about choosing Alan Moulder as your producer? How
did recording go?
DAVE: We love music like The Cars, Smashing Pumpkins, Pixies... and Alan's worked with Smiths, U2, Cure, NIN...basically, he's worked with a favorite band of each of ours. So it was a perfect fit, and he's great with guitars and keyboards...It went pretty smooth recording-wise. Only a couple songs had to be redone...Alan was great to work with.
How was it opening for Morrissey for a few of his shows?
DAVE: The most nerve-wracking part was playing sound check while Morrissey was watching. He walked out 30 rows back and stood and listened, we were like 'Whoa! Morrissey.' That was kind of nice...since Morrissey's our singer's idol. That was a big deal for him and all of us...
Do you feel you sound like an American band or like one with more
DAVE: Well, everyone else says we sound like we're from England. That's probably because our top ten fave bands are from there...we love The Beatles, Stones, Cure, Blur, Oasis, all from England...I guess that's just something that happened. We're an American band though.
You've already played some great shows here and overseas. Where
else are you most looking forward to playing? Do you prefer recording
or playing more?
DAVE: We hope to play in a lot of different countries, like Brazil, South Africa...I don't know if we'll be able to afford doing something like that...we want to have an album out in 2005 and I'd like to have another in 2006, if they'd let us. We like to write and record. I may like touring a little better because it's fun. With recording, it's harder work, but when you get a song completed like you envisioned, it's an amazing feeling.--MVW
The Cooper Temple Clause--for most people in the US, this will be their first exposure to this amazing UK export from Reading. But as with most things, the US is usually a year or two behind the curve. TCTC is already on their second full-length, "Kick Up The Fire, And Let The Flames Break Loose", (out domestically on RCA). But unfortunately for the latecomers, their first disc, "See This Through And Leave", is only available by import. We did an extended interview with TCTC for issue 14 of The Sentimentalist and we received such interest from our readers that we thought it appropriate to do a quick follow-up on the boys during their current US tour. Simply put, this band is the best thing to come out of the UK music scene in years. Thoughtful lyrics, driving guitars, lofty themes, epic songs, all driven by Ben Gautrey's emotive, raspy voice. Ben took a few minutes out of his busy tour schedule to chat with us, so read on...
Last fall The Cooper Temple Clause played your first Stateside
show at Irving Plaza in NYC. What were your impressions of the
New York after playing your first ever US show?
BEN: We were absolutely fucked. Most of us had just gotten in the day before and gone out and seen The Kills...hung out and had a full day of interviews...We went on stage at 12am, which was 5am UK time. Overall I would say it was really good. We all really woke up about ten minutes before we went on stage and it felt like it was all good energy.
Now fast forward to now, has anything changed with regard to your
impressions of the States?
BEN: No, not at all. We are really enjoying playing some intimate shows. It has been a long time since we have played these types of shows. We really like that unique sense of the feel of a small room. It is really interesting to see how playing the songs from the new album transfers to the smaller venues. All in all, everyone is really looking forward to meeting weird characters across the country.
Do you see coming Stateside as a new beginning for the band?
BEN: Yeah, definitely. America is the biggest place for music in the world and has given the world so many great bands. It is going to be interesting to see how we get on and whether people like us over here.
Do you have a preference for playing older material or are you
sick to death of playing "Panzer Attack"?
BEN: No, we like playing old stuff and new stuff, definitely. We want to give the people that come see us a better idea of what we are all about.
I don't usually ask bands this question but I will break my own
rule for you guys. What is the significance of the name The Cooper
BEN: There is no significance really, it is not like it is a big mystery. We needed a band name because we had a gig coming up. All we knew was that we wanted a long band name. All these other bands had one syllable names and they all just sounded like someone was being sick. It just seemed like every band had the same name, really. So we really wanted a long name. Jon used to live in Luxembourg and he used to be in a little gang when he was 17 or 18 and they were called The Cooper Temple CAUSE. So we just changed that to The Cooper Temple CLAUSE. We just liked the sound of the name and we all thought it sounded quite awkward. That is also the way we approach music.
Since you are playing slightly smaller venues here in the US,
do you approach the shows differently?
BEN: No, not at all. Every show is the same whether we are playing for ten thousand or two thousand or one hundred and fifty people, it just doesn't matter. We just feed off the crowd when they are buzzing.
Does having six actual members in the band give you an advantage?
BEN: Well it gives us the ability to create this sonic wall of sound. We have just been a six piece and that is all we have ever been you know. We haven't ever been in a three piece so we couldn't really compare the two. We enjoy the license that having six people gives.
Being a true six piece band these days is unusual these days.
BEN: Yes, it is very unusual.
SENTIMENTALIST: But the number is definitely suited to the musical style. Is there one city you are really looking forward to playing Stateside?
BEN: Well, if we hadn't already played New York,, I would have said New York. But we are really just excited about going all over the place.
Temple Clause have announced their place on the all-star line-up
of The Cure's "Curiosa Festival 2004". This month-long
trek kicks off July 24 in West Palm Beach, FL and continues through
the end of August. The headlining bill will include The Cure,
Interpol, The Rapture and Mogwai. The Cooper Temple Clause will
be sharing the second stage along with Muse, Thursday, Cursive,
Melissa Auf Der Maur, and Head Automatica.
The Coopers are elated to be part of such a stellar bill: "This is probably the best line-up of any show we've ever done," says guitarist Dan Fisher. "We can't wait to get back out and play shows in the US, let alone with some
of our favorite bands at the moment."
FRANZ FERDINAND INTERVIEW (excerpt from an interview from spring Issue XIV)
For all you history buffs out there, the name Franz Ferdinand should mean more to you than just a fantastic, new, young rock band from Scotland. To this day, the significance of Archduke Franz Ferdinand is still a blazing debate in political circles. But since we are "The Sentimentalist" and not "Newsweek" let's just leave that for another conversation. "Our" Franz Ferdinand have recently emerged from the vibrant and ever evolving Glasgow music scene. They have made the leap across the Atlantic, courtesy of Domino Records, and will come again soon to a venue near you in 2004. Don't miss this band. You will want to be able to say, 'I saw them when..."
Are you enjoying New York?
ALEX: It is almost as nice as Glasgow.
PAUL: You can't expect it to have as much as we have in Glasgow.
Robert: You have world class cities and then you have Glasgow.
ALEX: Sort of a wee provincial town.
Have the crowds here been what you had been expecting?
ALEX: Ahh, they have been quite cool. What I was surprised by was the no dancing rule. I haven't come across any government body that has banned dancing before, other than the Taliban. It was quite shocking at first.
PAUL: I had heard that they were repealing it next month.
The cabaret laws in New York can be a oddity. They seem to be
a bit out of date as opposed to the rest of the city.
PAUL: There is a York, (the town between Edinburgh and London--ed.) law that says it is perfectly legal to kill a Scottsman within the city walls, if he is wearing a kilt, and if you do it with a bow and arrow. [Laughs all around]
SENTIMENTALIST: I guess New York has some of those too. [laughs] Shall we lump in the "no smoking" laws in as well?
ALEX: [says in a whisper] I quite like that.
PAUL: Yeah, you would go out drinking and come home, and you would stink.
ALEX: Yeah, I have gone off of them quite recently as well, and it is quite brilliant to go out for a drink and not have smoke all around you.
PAUL: Well said, by a militant non-smoker.
What made you chose the particular tracks that ended up on Darts
PAUL: Well, we only had four songs written, so we figured those would be the best ones to record. [laughs]
Relatively speaking, Franz Ferdinand has a bit more depth than
your run-of-the-mill indie band, with a focus on the more artistic
side of things. Does that come from any experiences in particular?
ALEX: Art school probably, Bob was at art school, Paul was doing art at one point as well, and I did English and Nick did music. I guess it was just a wider arts thing. When we put the band together, it was very important that we have more depth to what we did, as opposed to some of the other contemporary bands. But at the same time, we wanted to have a primal urgency to our music. The first sensation that you got would bypass that intellectual part, or your brain, and would make you move and make you want to dance. I think it is so important for a band to have both of those elements. You should feel it and then it should make you think about it. A lot of the UK press seems to have picked up on this art background. Possibly because there are not a lot of bands in the UK at the moment that are like that. I don't want to slag off any other bands...
PAUL: Well there are a couple of others..
ALEX: Like who?
PAUL: British Sea Power?
ALEX: Yeah British Sea Power are cool. To us, though, the whole British music scene is kind of funny, because we come from a very vibrant scene in Glasgow. Glasgow has always had a really great history for music, but over the last year and a half or so, there has been a really good wave of bands coming along. This new wave of bands has been very much connected to the art scene in Glasgow, as a very thriving artistic community. The two feed off of each other...There are a lot of events that we organize and that others organize, where you have exhibitions and concerts going on at the same time. I think we value that a lot more than the national scene in the UK. That has very much formed us as a band--the fact that we are so very much removed from the London scene by being based in Glasgow. Glasgow has an almost defined, separatist point of view, willfully keeping themselves apart from the London media.
SENTIMENTALIST: I seem to remember reading about something like that happening in Glasgow before? [Laughs all around]
ALEX: Yeah I guess it is a tradition thing for the North...
[Publicist rings up the room telling us to get a move on]
They are certainly running you boys ragged...[Laughs]
PAUL: Yeah, this is such hard work. I am thoroughly exhausted...
ALEX: Yeah, and then they expect us to go up on stage and play music. That is something that really annoys me, actually, bands complaining how hard they work.
PAUL: Ridiculous isn't it?
Watch for Franz Ferdinand's headlining US tour in April/May! Band has just been signed to Epic Records--it's the big time!
- Modern Apprentice CD (import)
(Fantastic Plastic Records)
This instinctive extension of ikara colt's breakthrough debut abounds with the experimental and experiential confidence of a matchless art-core band that has travelled the world to awed acclaim. Modern Apprentice hits a little harder than its predecessor (Chat and Business, 2002) and is spiked with a bit more deliberation, but the album still glows with a lustre bestowed upon it by the quartet's musical individuality Their classically tight sound is fortified with rock-solid melodic focus ("How's the World Gonna Take You Now?" and the superbly shattering "Automatic") whilst tracks such as "Modern Feeling", "Repro/Roadshow/Nightmare", and "Motorway" pulse with bright innovation inside the band's familiar avant-garde vein. Exhilarating and virtuosic, Modern Apprentice perfectly captures ikara colt's sweet dynamism as the group ploughs onward with blink-and-you'll-miss-it fervour.--Leah K. Nchama
Massacre - And This is Our Music CD
BJM brings us a gem of a recording with this latest disc. I am happy to report that this CD, production-wise, is a notch above anything BJM has presented before. Anton's practice of mastering directly from cassette has always muted the impact of BJM's music to a certain extent, but this latest effort has taken on a rich, new tone. I have always enjoyed BJM's work, but the sound quality of the CDs always made me feel like I was listening to a vinyl record being played on a crappy turntable. I love the way this CD begins. I must have heard the "angry girlfriend answering machine track" over and over and got a laugh each time. In calling that first track "The Wrong Way" and the last track "The Right Way", Anton is proving himself to be the spontaneous, offbeat character we all know he is. He ends the disc with a second girl's voice which is the polar opposite of the first. She's in love.--CD
- The Power Out CD
This female art rock quartet from Brighton, UK combines the best of experimental, blues, punk and shoegazer sounds. Opening with "Gone Under Sea", sung in French, the music shimmers and soars. These girls pack an intense emotional wallop, both in songs that are seemingly tame and lush or those that are jagged and full of fire. On "The Valleys", a Hammond organ keeps a steady vintage beat to a poem, along with a 12-member choir. Electrelane's latest is full of surprises and depth, with complexities and subtleties which are revealed more and more with every listen. (Sounds like a fine wine). This is a new favorite. --Cleo
Hella - The
Devil Isn't Red CD
Two guys in Sacramento, CA--one plays guitar (Spencer Seim), the other drums (Zach Hill). No vocals, just the raucous sound of rock and roll. Huh. Nice change from the Hives/Strokes scene, though being a duo wasn't a conscious decision. It was born out of necessity. Says Seim: "We started in February of 2001. We started with hopes of hearing a full band, but we couldn't find people who think the way we do, or play the way we do, and we have yet to meet anyone like that. We got offered a show and it was just the two of us and we thought up a name and it just stuck." There are enough rock renderings here to keep you up all night, smashing your pillows with pens and strumming the air in front of you.--Stephanie Dickison
TV on the
Radio - Desperate Youth,
Blood Thirsty Babes CD
The NYC trio known as TV on the Radio has built up quite a nice bit of buzz, quickly becoming press and indie music fan favorites after the release of their Young Liars EP last July. They are a band who you can definitely say deserves the praise. Singer Tunde Adebimpe's vocals, especially on songs such as "Staring at the Sun", sound remarkably like Peter Gabriel's. The expertly-crafted songs are offbeat and daring, combining elements of rock, electronic, funk, gospel, soul and more. There aren't many bands who can pull off such a decidedly eclectic mix, but TV on the Radio does it with finesse. The layered beauty and strangeness of songs like "King Eternal" burn the music into your brain. Guest appearances by musician friends such as YYY's guitarist Nick Zinner and flutist Martin Perna and an upcoming appearance at SXSW in March give the band an added degree of hip factor, as if that was even necessary.--Cleo
Twelve - First
This majestic work reveals Chris Olley's (of Six By Seven) quieter, more experimental side. The disc opens with a four-minute drone of 24 guitars and moves into "Talkin' About", a low core masterpiece of sadness and light. Added female vocals by Tee Dymond blend with Olley's voice on the chorus and raise the song to gorgeous heights. Each song on the disc is pure and evocative. A must hear.--Cleo
The Von Bondies
- Pawn Shoppe Heart CD
The Von Bondies
first found more fame in the UK than in their own country with
countless NME articles and cover features, but this two guy/two
girl Detroit band is bound to break on through here with this
disc. They've managed to capture all the raw bluesy rock and roll
energy of their live shows in these songs. Tracks like "No
Regrets" and "Been Swank" have a sexy power and
soul that goes beyond anything they've recorded before. There's
a perfect balance of clean and dirty, vintage and modern in both
the vocals and music throughout, perhaps due in part to the production
work of Jerry Harrison (of Talking Heads and Modern Lovers fame).
The slow-burning swagger of singer/guitarist Jason Stollsteimer's
voice on "Mairead" is staggering. Move over, Elvis.
The girls get their chance to do vocal duty on quite a few songs,
including "Not That Social" and "Crawl Through
the Darkness", which adds to the disc's allure.
LIARS INTERVIEW (excerpt from an interview from Sentimentalist Spring Issue XIV)
Watch the newest LIARS video, directed by Karen O!
Liars is a band that is always certain to surprise you, whether it's with their sly twist of phrase in a lyric, their mad synthesis of old school hip-hop beats, or their chaotic guitar and electronic sounds. To top it off, you can't get enough of their raw, spasmodic energy. This being said, their second full-length, They Were Wrong, So We Drowned, may provoke equal bursts of shock and awe.
In late 2002, Liars reformed as a trio. Singer Angus Andrew and guitarist Aaron Hemphill parted ways with their former drummer and bassist and then brought in their old friend Julian Gross on drums.
The reformed band also has a new sound, which goes back to the roots of what Angus and Aaron had originally intended to create. Musical experimentation, along with the charmed accidents made during the long hours in their own studio, have helped to create Liars' newest album. The songs are tied together with a theme that delves into witchcraft, scared villagers, and their outmoded superstitions, but it's not altogether a dark, witchy world. As you might expect from Liars, there's also a humorous side which you can't help but fall for, especially with song titles like "If you're a wizard, then why do you wear glasses?" Harry Potter fans, beware.
What made you decide you wanted to retrace your steps and start
working the way you had intended in the first place, before you
had met Pat and Ron?
ANGUS: Well, that is about it, it is what you said. We just wanted to go back to what we had originally intended. It had just gotten to a point towards the end of last year where we had developed some form of success. It was at that point that the realization came that we had to make sure it was exactly what we wanted...without compromise.
AARON: Yeah, it was more like giving people exactly what it is, and this is exactly what it is. The fact that the new record is different from the last, that's what it is.
So you would rather stay true to yourselves, rather than ride
the wave of whatever is hip?
ANGUS: Well, it definitely wasn't easy for us, you know. It was a big change...In hindsight, I wouldn't have it any other way. It was really important for us to do it this way...to make a record that we really felt good about.
Do you approach your live show very differently than the way you
play when doing the recording?
ANGUS: In the studio, we have a formula for the songs. It just seems now more than ever, that we are able to deviate from the formula and still get through and have fun. That makes it really, really good because it is not the same every time.
JULIAN: Some songs we play just as they are on the record, and others are a little bit more loose.
AARON: The songs that sound arbitrary, with their stops and starts, are actually the songs that don't allow a lot of improvisation. It is not actually arbitrary, but it is cool to change from night to night.
ANGUS: A lot of people think that we make it up as we go along [laughs].
Do you really think so?
ANGUS: Yeah, I do. It is interesting because we work so hard.
AARON: I guess it is a compliment. The best thing you can do is prepare to make it sound more like an accident. Like, 'Gee, I am really wearing a red sequined dress on Valentine's day at midnight?'
MANDO DIAO INTERVIEW (excerpt from an interview from Sentimentalist Fall issue XIII)
Rock and roll
is their life and they aren't going to fail. This is no cheap
gimmick. Coming from a band blasting with equal parts raw power,
realism, self-confidence and gutsy songs, you've got to believe
that Mando Diao will succeed wherever they are heard. Two members
of the band met way back in 1995, but today this Swedish quintet
has travelled far beyond their pop rock roots to embrace a sound
that is at once menacing and magnetic. With two lead singers who
switch off on certain songs, depending on the mood, and with music
that has been described as "Beatles jamming with the Sex
Pistols", this band has one up on most. Mando Diao takes
the best elements from the roots of rock, punk and blues and creates
a fresh sound that gets under your skin. As singer/guitarist Gustaf
predicts, Mando-mania will soon be sweeping across our shores.
SENTIMENTALIST: It's refreshing that your band doesn't have a name that starts with a "the". How did you come about choosing the name for your band?
GUSTAF: We didn't want an ordinary name, cause we're not an ordinary band. Björn woke up
one morning with the name stuck in his head, he was dreaming of angels, he's always dreaming of angels. I don't know why. He's strange. Anyway some angel repeatedly shouted this name. So, he phoned me the next morning and suggested the name. I thought it sounded cool so we took it.
Your press bio goes into quite a bit of detail about your hometown,
Borlänge, and how dangerous and cold it is. How would you
say writing music and playing in a band helped you to "escape"
the bleakness of your surroundings while growing up?
GUSTAF: Our town is dangerous, I would never describe it in any other way. But we never wanted to leave it. We felt secure in it, cause it was our town, nobody else's. We're still the most successful Borlänge gang of all times.
It seems Sweden is one of those few countries that is very supportive
of its artists and musicians (so I've been told by other Swedish
musicians). Is living there and not having to concentrate on working
a day job part of what has made it easier to focus on your music?
GUSTAF: I don't think music comes from having a lot of freedom or having a lot of options. Music comes from being annoyed by the people and the situations around you. The reason why there's so many bands coming from Sweden is that if one band makes it big, the others see that as an evidence that you can make it big from a small country. Self confidence, rock is all about that, the knowledge of your brilliance.
Some of you in the band were only 16 when you first formed? How
has your music changed over the years?
GUSTAF: We had a lot more charm and pure energy at that time. Now we're much better at writing songs, speaking English, understanding the meaning of rock'n'roll and playing live. But our souls haven't changed.
Mute isn't usually known for signing rock and roll bands--they
have so many electronic artists. How did you hook up with Mute?
GUSTAF: You can put us on any label you want--as long as the songs are good, we're good. I think if Mute hasn't got any rock bands, it's about time. Mute understands our music and that's why we chose them
Raveonettes interview (excerpt) by MVW/from The Sentimentalist issue XII
The Raveonettes are children of the 50's B-movie generation. Twangy, swampy guitar slamming through a distorted cloud of buzzing reverb. Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner are currently the new darlings tearing up the indie circuit both here and abroad, challenging all the boy/boy garage rock that has almost become passé before it has had a chance to peak. The Raveonettes twist and turn the model, blurring duet vocals, which at times, are barely audible above the heavy din of excess passages. Sharin admits they have a long journey ahead of them, but they have started off on the right foot. Having recently blown US audiences away on their tour, including a jam-packed SXSW showcase and sold out New York dates, (among others), The Raveonettes seem poised to ghost ride into the sky.
We have been trying to get in touch with you for some time, you
must be very busy at the moment?
SHARIN: Yes, I know, terribly sorry about that.
When you guys were in New York it just didn't seem like the time
was right to hook up an interview. Are you living in the UK when
you are not on the road?
SHARIN: Yes, we live in London. We wanted to be more in touch with what is going on.
SENTIMENTALIST: I guess there is more music happening there than Denmark.
How was your last college tour with Longwave and White Light?
SHARIN: It went well. There were ups and downs though. Sometimes we did shows on dry campuses, there were actually a lot of them. We also did shows in some auditoriums and people were sitting down so it wasn't so rock and roll. It was great to come back to the West Coast and do some real club shows again. But it was still a lot of fun.
Did you keep to some of the other "rules" that you set
for yourself on the last record for your Chain Gang of Love
SHARIN: Yes, most of the songs on only have three chords, but we sometimes would add a fourth chord to some. So we kind of broke some of the rules. We don't want to be stubborn about it, if it needs it, then we will do it. I think some of the songs are more than three minutes, which was also one of the rules. But still lots of them apply, there are still really short songs and twin vocals. We also have the rule not to use hi-hat or ride cymbal while we are recording, and that still applies. Pretty much like the good old Raveonettes.
I have read that Sune was inspired by the film director Lars von
SHARIN: I guess in some ways we were inspired by the Dogma movement, which is [made up of] several Danish movie directors who created these rules or dogmas. It was really like going back to the basics and being really simplistic and natural again. I guess in that way, were inspired by them. It is more like having a spontaneity about it. We don't go back and revise so much--it is about the moment.
Who was your producer for this record?
SHARIN: Well, we didn't have a producer for the first record, but now we are working with Richard Gottehrer. He is kind of a hero for us, he wrote one of our favorite songs which is "My Boyfriend's Back" and "I Want Candy". He also produced the first couple of Blondie records and he was also in a band called Strangelove. He was just kind of an idol for us. It was just coincidence that we met him and he got to hear our music. He was actually the one who chose us. It was a real pleasure working with him he has a very contagious enthusiasm. It was very exciting for us. We are very inspired by the song writing of the fifties. Our name, Raveonettes, is even inspired by Buddy Holly. Everything kind of came full circle.
Do you like the band X at all? They were inspired by a lot of
the same things as you, even though they were a little more punk
SHARIN: That is funny, because the first time we heard about X was when we got signed to Columbia in the States. I remember David [Fricke] from Rolling Stone Magazine mentioned it as well. We were like 'X, what is he talking about?' We kept coming across it so many times in the States, so we borrowed an album and listened to it. Wasn't it Exene, isn't that her name? But we were not familiar with them before that.
Your next tour is with Stellastarr*, which will be a big step
for them. Had you heard of them before?
SHARIN: Actually, it was our agent who pitched us. He said they were really interesting and they were doing so well in the UK. He thought that we would be a good match. We had actually wanted to go on tour with The Kills, but they did not want to tour with us. They like us a lot, but since we are both kind of at the same stage so it really wouldn't work for them to open for us... But Stellastarr* is going to be exciting. We don't know them very well; I've never seen them live. I think there is a girl playing the bass as well. They are a New York band?
SENTIMENTALIST: Yes they are, and they are getting a lot of UK press at the moment. I think they were "discovered" at SXSW. By the way, we had tried to get into your show but it was overcrowded.
SHARIN: That was such a great show. But we didn't get to spend any time there because we had to leave right after that--we had to play New Orleans the day after.
So by now you must be used to travelling, jumping on and off planes
SHARIN: Yeah, we are getting used to it. It was actually the first time we did such an extensive tour, when we did the US for those seven weeks in a tour bus. That was the first time we experienced that. We are still a really young band when it comes to the whole live side of The Raveonettes. We have only been playing together as a four piece for a year. So it is all new.
Are you jaded yet?
SHARIN: No, we are still working on the whole live show. We are still exploring the boundaries of what you can do live. It is interesting when we play live in the States; we are kind of different than an American band. We are much more introverted and subtle. So we have to find a way of communicating.
Idlewild interview (excerpt) by Christopher David (from The Sentimentalist issue XI)
So I gather you like New York?
RODDIE: Yes, I think all of us would be quite happy living in New York.
ROD: Yes, we were actually talking about recording the next record here.
RODDIE: I like Chicago too.
SENTIMENTALIST: Have you ever been there in the winter?
RODDIE: We were there in November and someone recommended Steve Albini's studio, but when we were there, it wasn't that cold.
Chicago in the winter is freezing. What makes New York appeal
RODDIE: It just feels comfortable. There is definitely a pop culture that we are not used to. People seem to be able to be themselves and the bars are better. You can just walk into any bar and be all right. In Glasgow, if you walk into a bar sometimes, it is just
Do you enjoy playing Irving Plaza? What do you think about the
ROD: I like Irving Plaza--it is a good venue, but I actually like Bowery Ballroom better. Bowery is my favorite venue of that size.
SENTIMENTALIST: So where do you want to end up as a band? Do you have any one thing in particular that you are looking to achieve?
ROD: We are just doing what we are doing, making plans are almost pointless, really. We know what we are doing next week but anything after that, we never really know what is going to happen. It is just fluid.
RODDIE: It is kind of the way we write songs. We have tried to think about writing songs but I actually don't know how you write a song. We have tried to work out how to write a song, but the more we think about it the more it becomes just an instinct. That is very much how we view our life. We know we have four records and to a minor extent a global fan base. We are already thinking about our next record trying to sort that out. But we see the possibilities as unlimited.
Do you see yourself any differently from your peers, seeing as
you have some consistency in releasing music?
RODDIE: In Britain, I find it a bit absurd that we are considered an enduring band because we actually managed to get four albums out. We are almost considered the elder statesmen of rock. Just because we have made it this far, I think it can go a lot further.
What do you think about doing some of your songs acoustically?
During the Placebo tour I seem to recall you doing an acoustic
in-store here in New York?
ROD: Did you go to that?
SENTIMENTALIST: Yes, I was there.
RODDIE: We are getting better at that. 100 Broken Windows was the first time we were able to deconstruct the songs on an acoustic guitar. On all the stuff before that, it was pointless, because we were just not that type of band.
It seems with the new CD, the songs lend themselves even more
so to being played acoustically.
RODDIE: With this record, that was one thing we did--we wrote a lot of the songs acoustically. The song structures lend themselves to the acoustic, so now we do play acoustic...quite often actually.
So you are doing the one show tomorrow night here in the US and
then where to?
ROD: We play this show and then we are going back to Europe to play with Coldplay for a month.
RODDIE: It was really important for us to come to New York to play at least once in 2002. We are gearing up to play here a lot next year because I believe a lot of people like us here. It is just good to give people a taste of what we sound like now.
What kinds of bands do you listen to in your off time?
RODDIE: Recently we have been listening to an awful lot of Ween.
ROD: We are also interested in seeing the Polyphonic Spree. Their last stuff was quite amazing.
SENTIMENTALIST: I cannot imagine touring with that many people.
ROD: I think some of them are slightly unhinged as well. They played at the Q Awards and there were loads of them just dancing around. It looked like something out of the Wizard of Oz.
SENTIMENTALIST: I would like to see the tech rider for that band. Ahh, we need 24 vocal mics.
ROD: Yeah, and the club says "we have three, can you work with that?" [laughs all around].
RODDIE: And they probably need all of them to be radio mics...
Are you all nervous about going on tour with a band a big as Coldplay?
ROD: We just finished doing three weeks with them in the UK. They are very good people, you know. They are a very accomplished stadium band. They use big gestures to get one side to sing along, and then the other side.
SENTIMENTALIST: So are you working on that? [laughs].
RODDIE: As much as we can, but we are really not from that school. I grew up going to see bands in clubs. I realize now there has to be a certain degree of showmanship about it when you get to a certain level. Otherwise you would be boring, right? I think we have the reputation of being a really good live band, partly driven by the fact that we try and sound like the CD.
So do you write songs as a band?
ROD: We had a certain formula up until the last record. We would write a song, play it live, and then record it that way. For this record, although it is not a revolution to many people, we changed things around just a little bit. Some songs, we would swap around instruments or work in an acoustic. Then we'd just take the bare bones of the song and bring that into the studio, and just work on it there. Just change the sound a little bit.
SENTIMENTALIST: So you went into the recording of this new CD with a different idea than the last few?
RODDIE: We wanted to make this a really substantial record. We wanted to have a lot of depth to it. So people would get more out of it the more they listened to it. We were definitely conscience of that. In the past, we had moments of that, but it was not a conscious effort before this CD.
Did the songs hit upon something different this time around?
RODDIE: We really thought the songs touched on something we didn't really understand.
Do visuals play a part in your lyrics?
RODDIE: I am genuinely interested in words and word choices. They can be used in so many different ways. The emphasis and the appropriate word can make something sound amazing with the right chords behind them and that is something that I don't understand. How can two chords played together make me feel something?