Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cymbals Eat Guitars - Interview - Show Preview - 5/3/10 - Brillobox - Pittsburgh



Cymbals Eat Guitars exploded on the scene over a year ago. They received very favorable reviews from journalists, bloggers and the like. Since then, they have been touring and creating their follow up to Where There Are Mountains. They will be appearing at the Brillobox on Monday, 5/3. Member Matt Whipple was kind enough to answer some questions for us. Below is the interview with tracks mixed in.

You have rcvd a lot of praise in a short amount of time. How have you dealt with it? Did any of it go to your head?

We did get a considerable amount of positive press attention when our record came out and still do. We definitely read a good amount of it, and that runs pretty contrary to what a lot of bands say about their own press, but we find it pretty easy to take it with a grain of salt. We're perfectionists, so there is way more self-critiquing than patting ourselves on the back.

And the Hazy Sea by Cymbals Eat Guitars

Did any of you have professional training? Play in the school marching band?

Matt our drummer played snare drum in high school and college marching band, and Brian our keyboardist went to college for music. Joe and I are pretty much a combination of self-taught and some instruction and mentoring. Joe spent some time with Charles Bissell from the Wrens learning some guitar tricks a few years ago.

I read you will be coming out with a new album. Will you be doing this with the support of a label or self releasing again?

We are still very much in the process of writing our second record, so that probably won't be for a good while, but we are planning on signing with a label this time around.

You appear to draw a lot of influence from 90’s indie bands (Modest Mouse, BTS, etc.). Did any of your parents music you might have listened to growing up have an influence?

I think that is pretty inevitable if there is a lot of music in your house growing up. My parents listened to a lot of really great music...Talking Heads, the Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen...we had a Born in the USA tour poster framed in our kitchen for most of my childhood. My parents have always been pretty hip to current music as well. My copy of Nevermind is a hand-me-down from my dad, and I can remember my mom listening to Wilco and Yo La Tengo when I was 12 or 13. It took me several years to become as cool as my parents.

Some Trees by Cymbals Eat Guitars

Is there an album or show that made you want to dedicate your life to music?

I think the first live concert I saw was pretty significant. When I was in the 7th grade I saw a New Jersey pseudo-jam-band called From Good Homes play a big old theater in my hometown. It wasn't so much the music but the lights and loudness and atmosphere that made me transition pretty quickly from "I am entertained by this" to "I am going to do this someday." The pre-adolescent contact-high probably helped too.

How far away are you from completing the new album? Would you say it’s an extension of Why There are Mountains?

We have 4 new songs completed and a fifth in the works. It takes us a relatively long time to put a song together, so we are still a good few months before we have even written enough songs for a new record. We definitely have an idea of the scope of the record at this point, though, so it is just a matter of writing the kinds of songs we need to complete that arc. It will likely sound very different from WTAM. That record is really Joe and Matt's studio project that they built a band around after the fact. With the next record, it will be a full-band undertaking with unique contributions from everyone.

What Dogs See by Cymbals Eat Guitars

What are the goals for the band? What would you like to accomplish?

We would just like to be able to put out records that people like and tour and play good shows. To just sort of be known as a hard-working band that puts out great music is all we can really hope for. Anything above and beyond that is gravy.

I read that Joseph D’Agostino usually brings in the lyrics and music when composing a song. With the new lp, has the song writing dynamics changed at all?

Joe still brings the lyrics and the general structure of each song, but the process of arranging the songs is pretty collaborative. On WTAM, Joe wrote all of the parts...guitars, bass, keys, and hey and Matt worked the drums out together. Now that we're a four-piece band, everybody is, at the very least, responsible for their own parts, but we bounce ideas back and forth with and for each other at this point.

Wind Phoenix by Cymbals Eat Guitars

Are you able to do this full time now? Without working day jobs?

We do this very much full-time, but I think the real question is "are you able to get day jobs when you need them?" The answer would be 'no', which means none of us are really living it up on the road or at home. Three of us live at home with our parents when we're not touring.

Where have you toured that you really enjoyed? What about the worst place?

Going to play shows in Europe is still a crazy concept. It is definitely harder to do logistically...it costs a lot more and we have to rent gear over there, which is not ideal, but every time it is pretty surreal to think "We're in Paris, and we're here to play a show."

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

You can do anything, Pittsburgh. Reach for the stars!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spotlight - Pittsburgh Local Artist - Wise Blood - Edition 2



Wise Blood is our feature artist of the month. The artist just recently relocated here from Houston, TX. He creates psychedelia, electronica, pop (or whatever term you would like applied). We sat down with him this past weekend and were able to touch on variety of subjects. Below is the interview with samples of his music streaming. You can find his soundcloud site here: http://soundcloud.com/wise-blood

How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?

I would say sample based, syrup-y, screwed and chopped even though it doesn’t have much to do with those things. That is what I have been into lately. Probably, "future music".

HERE_COMES_THE_SUN by Wise Blood

What aesthetic are you trying to capture when creating the music?

I like old Prince songs such as “Kiss”. He describes situations in a weird way such as being involved with someone sexually; he will say “I want to be your girlfriend”. Lyrically, that is what I would go for, but I usually don’t regard lyrics as being very important. With regards to my music, I like to use a minimalist approach. I try to use one droning sample and come up with a melody from that. I also really want to try and blow out speakers, I want someone’s trunk to rattle when they listen to it in their car.

B.I.G. E.G.O. by Wise Blood

Did you have any professional training growing up? What past bands have you been in?

I took guitar lessons when I was a kid. I kind of stopped after a while only picking it back up when my friend gave me his guitar. That is how I started playing again. I was in a band with a girlfriend in high school. It really didn’t go anywhere. We just kind of made music and played in different places.

I know you just moved here from Houston. What is the scene like there?

There are a couple of artists I enjoy in Houston. Slim Thug is one. He raps over some good low-end bass music. SPM is another band I have been listening to out of Houston. They are some Mexicans who are making this slow down, creepy tone music. The song “Vogues” by SPM you should definitely listen to. Besides that there really isn’t much of scene.

HANNAH MOTOWN by Wise Blood

How do you craft your songs?

I use Logic Pro when creating a song. I will use one sample or rhythm that I hear and everything will be crafted around that. I listen to something and say, “There is a song in that.” I build around it. I add to it to flesh out the melody. It usually takes me a week or two to complete. I am pretty meticulous about every sound, transferring it from Logic Pro to an mp3. You have to adjust a lot of the bass, treble, etc. so it sounds like what you envisioned.

Have you ever put out a disc? Is this something you are considering?

I have about 6 songs now that work together. I am trying to put some video to it so I can flesh it out with images. I want to send it out to different places and see what happens.

LOVE CHILD by Wise Blood

What are your influences with this project?

I really got into Panda Bear’s album Person Pitch. I love everything about that album. Slim Thug’s Already Platinum which came out 4 years ago. Polow Da Don is a producer I really like. The whole dub step scene had a big influence (Zomby, Joker, etc.).

Where did you come up with the name Wise Blood?

In Houston a lot of people use the term ‘young blood’. I read the book Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor. It’s just a play on that term. Plus, I am really religious.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Reminder - Black Gold - Cd and Vinyl Giveaway



Just a reminder I am giving away copies of Black Gold's debut album entitled Rush in both vinyl and cd. To enter just send your name/address to pghmusicreport@gmail.com. Be sure to include what format you would like to receive. Below is a description of the band with their single "Shine" streaming. If you would like to hear more be sure to checkout their website here.

Black Gold is a relatively new band from NYC. Eric Ronick and Than Luu make up the group who have mainly been supporting members of well known artists. From their bio:

Ronick and Luu have each, separately, logged significant stage time with such groups as Ambulance LTD, Panic! At The Disco, M. Ward, The Boredoms and Adam Franklin of Swervedriver; and they wrote and recorded the bulk of their forthcoming debut, Rush, in Ronick’s Brooklyn studio during intermittent breaks from their other musical commitments.



The music Black Gold creates takes from a variety of eras:

Musical inspiration is drawn, according to the pair, from practically the
entire history of recorded music: “There is no style or genre that’s off limits,” Ronick says. “We get a real kick out of taking from different artists, different periods, and putting our spin on it, and somehow ended up with something cohesive and that sounds, undeniably, like us.” Luu says, “If you listen, you’ll hear some stuff from the 1930’s, a lot of rock and psychedelic influences from the 1960’s and 1970’s, but you’ll also hear some contemporaries who we’re listening to like Hot Chip.”


Lyrics are equally important:

“Each song has a story to it,” Luu explains. “‘After the Flood’ speaks to relationships ingeneral, while ‘Shine’ is more about faith and love.” “Plans And Reveries,” according to Ronick, is “about the moment when you come to and realize what you’ve lost, what you had, and what you don’t have any more. We don’t like to be overly specific because we’re really interested in having the listener kind of invent their own narrative.”

Thursday, April 22, 2010

David Bazan - House Show - Pittsburgh - 5/29/10



I received an email this past week that David Bazan (Pedro the Lion fame) will be performing a house show in Pittsburgh on 5/29. It is scheduled for 8p (Sat) with limited seating of 40 tickets available. The charge is a bit steep at $20 a head, but well worth it. I went to one of these this past year and must say it was a great experience. I wish he were playing with a full band, but they skipped over Pgh this past tour. If you are interested go here: undertowtickets.com. There aren't too many left.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Show Review - Apples in Stereo w/ Generationals - 4/17/10 - Morgantown, WV - Concert Review


I traveled to Morgantown this past Saturday to catch the Apples in Stereo with the Generationals. This was my first trip to see a show at 123 Pleasant Street. It’s an established venue with quite the history including a tale out of Unsolved Mysteries with an owner who vanished in the late 80's. It’s an enjoyable space with a long hallway and 2 long bars on each side. The boys from Delicious Pastries and Katherine also made the trek down.



If you follow the blog you know that I have hyped Generationals quite a bit, even placing them in my top 10albums this past year. I saw them 5 months ago at Garfield Artworks performing an abbreviated set. They were afforded about 45 minutes with this show. To be honest, they were disappointing. The songs they played sounded fine, but they never smiled or showed any enthusiasm, minus drummer Tess Brunet. The over all impression I and others felt was they didn’t even want to be there. They had a golden opportunity to connect with a hungry, half-enebriated audience when their amp blew out. It took about 8 minutes to fix, but instead of talking to the audience or playing a fan friendly cover they did nothing (again, minus Tess Brunet who told a joke). Maybe I hyped them up too much in my head. I hope they take some queues from frontman Robert Schneider and the rest of the Apples in Stereo who know how to entertain.



When the Apples in Stereo arrived for their set the 6 member band were decked out in cosmic outfits with some donning space glasses. Their new album (which just came out Tuesday) is called “Travellers in Space and Time” and they were fitting the part. Robert Schneider announced, “We are from the future.” before launching into one of their new songs. The crowd was ignited, bouncing up and down in full motion with the hook laden tune and visual backdrop. AIS were sporting three members on keyboards (including former Olivia Tremor Control’s Bill Doss) and the rest with the usual guitar, bass and drums. The three keyboardists provided a wall of sound utilizing vocoder and synthesizers to create the atmosphere of ‘space’ while distorting vocals on several songs. AIS was also agreeable with the crowd playing a set list that included such hits as “Let’s Go” and “Energy” while satisfying old time fans (a few in Elephant 6 shirts) with their catalogue before 2000.



Lead Robert Schneider is the most genuine, likeable guy in indie rock as anyone can attest to who has talked to him or watched his shows. He has an infectious personality when onstage that spreads to the crowd. This concert was no different as his energy created a raucous environment with audience members creating a semi-mosh pit of dancing in front of the stage. He also knows how to handle crowd members who get unruly. When one such member shouted over him between songs “You’re the best band in the world.” he just replied, “No we’re not, but thanks man, I really appreciate it.” Other band members displayed this same spirit with smiles and a sense that they loved what they were doing and wouldn’t change it for the world.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Morgantown crowd. They are definitely a fun loving bunch drinking their share of Black Label Beer (the PBR of 123 Pleasant St) which I had never heard of. Plus, they were openly smoking (*wink*) with no fear, having a grand old time. It was definitely an entertaining environment. I have seen AIS several times over the years, this being their best show. AIS stated that this was their first time in Morgantown and hopefully not their last.

**A special thanks to Courtney Holschuh of Ladybird who provided pics. You can find her work here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Black Gold - Cd and Vinyl Giveaway



I am giving away copies of Black Gold's debut album entitled Rush in both vinyl and cd. To enter just send your name/address to pghmusicreport@gmail.com. Be sure to include what format you would like to receive. Below is a description of the band with their single "Shine" streaming. If you would like to hear more be sure to checkout their website here.

Black Gold is a relatively new band from NYC. Eric Ronick and Than Luu make up the group who have mainly been supporting members of well known artists. From their bio:

Ronick and Luu have each, separately, logged significant stage time with such groups as Ambulance LTD, Panic! At The Disco, M. Ward, The Boredoms and Adam Franklin of Swervedriver; and they wrote and recorded the bulk of their forthcoming debut, Rush, in Ronick’s Brooklyn studio during intermittent breaks from their other musical commitments.

"Shine"


The music Black Gold creates takes from a variety of eras:

Musical inspiration is drawn, according to the pair,from practically the entire history of recorded music: “There is no style or genre that’s off limits,” Ronick says. “We get a real kick out of taking from different artists, different periods, and putting our spin on it, and somehow ended up with something cohesive and that sounds, undeniably, like us.” Luu says, “If you listen, you’ll hear some stuff from the 1930’s, a lot of rock and psychedelic influences from the 1960’s and 1970’s, but you’ll also hear some contemporaries who we’re listening to like Hot Chip.”

Lyrics are equally important:

“Each song has a story to it,” Luu explains. “‘After the Flood’ speaks to relationships ingeneral, while ‘Shine’ is more about faith and love.” “Plans And Reveries,” according to Ronick, is “about the moment when you come to and realize what you’ve lost, what you had, and what you don’t have any more. We don’t like to be overly specific because we’re really interested in having the listener kind of invent their own narrative.”

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Show Review - The Hold Steady - Diesel - 4/14/10 - Pittsburgh - Concert Review



I always thought Diesel receives a bad wrap as a venue. Yes, it’s a cheezer club. Yes, it’s not the most fan friendly environment. And yes, the shows are pretty early. However, if you get there at a decent hour you can get a great spot to see a show. The place is thoroughly clean including the bathrooms. Plus, they have the best soundman in the Burgh (he might have left because he wasn’t there this evening).

Since we were at Diesel last time (maybe 5 months) the club has upgraded their interior by partitoning off the upstairs to create open ‘rooms’ along the railing. Included in these spaces are couches with tv’s to lounge and relax. We got there about 15 minutes after doors had opened and claimed our spot upstairs. The bonus about this evening was the Pens were playing. While waiting for the show we had a private viewing of the game.



The show began with The Oranges Band from Baltimore. I had seen this band many years ago opening for somebody in Orlando. They came out and played a pretty good set, though not memorable. It was your typical indie rock flair with driving guitar and a melodic sound. The lead tried to communicate with the crowd, but in awkward way. His stories went nowhere with the crowd talking over him. After a few songs my attention was squarely on the tv screen above.

When The Hold Steady finally came out the crowd was jammed packed up and downstairs. I imagine it was pretty close to selling out. One thing you saw at this show was a cross range of fans from young teenage kids (who were following the band from show to show) to the over 50 crowd (at least 20 in attendance). It was a wonderful mix of people that you would rarely see at any other show. The Hold Steady were here last at Carnegie Library in Homestead that for all intent and purpose was a disappointment with sound issues, dry venue and reserved seating. Diesel was the type of venue THS is meant to play.



THS began the first part of their set by playing new songs off their upcoming album “Heaven is Whenever”. At first listen, these tunes are in the same vein as their other albums, but with a more somber tone. Things quickly picked up with fan favorites “Magazine”, “Stuck Between Stations” and sing-along “Massive Night” with the young fans near the stage pumping their fists and chanting along. Craig Finn is a lead who commands the stage with his dancing and rapping lyrics. In between songs he balanced this off with the proper amount of banter talking about the city’s rival Cleveland and telling a story about his awkward dinner at Nakama the last time they played the Rex. He was seated by himself and then joined by 6 other people who didn’t communicate with him the entire evening.



The fans at the show were also eating up the atmosphere. The +50 year olds in the ‘room’ next to me were singing every lyric while downing their drinks between songs. At one point the 50 year old man shook up his beer and sprayed it on the crowd below. The kids in front of the stage were in constant dance mode over the nearly 1.5 hour set. Plus, people who showed up late upstairs were trying to force their way to the railing just to catch a glimpse of the band. It was a wonderfully entertaining night even with the Pens loss.

***More Hold Steady videos here: pghmusicreport videos

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Club Zoo Concert Experience

Just wanted to add something to the below post. I went to Club Zoo for the first time (after interviewing Tim K.). As we we were handing over our tickets, the attendant told us there was free beer upstairs. Cool. Or so we thought.

We showed our id's before going upstairs and the bouncer told us it would be $20 (not free after all). I explained I was the dd that night and wouldn't be drinking. He explained the $20 wasn't for beer but for the "view". We bit the bullet and paid the $20. After going upstairs there was literally a line that rapped around the whole floor. They only had one beer stand even though they had a bar on the other side.

After standing in line for 30 minutes and moving 5 feet we decided to get our money back. Of course, "No refunds" said the bouncer. We got back in line and waited another 45 minutes to get a free beer (of which you could only have one 8 ounce cup). Bogus. And the $20 view? It sucked. Couldn't see anything.

Lesson learned: If you go to Club Zoo get tanked beforehand or sneak something in. Do not go upstairs.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tim Kasher of Cursive - Interview



I have been meaning to post this interview. About a month ago we were able to sit down with Tim Kasher of Cursive. They were opening up for Alkaline Trio at Club Zoo. He spent 15 minutes talking to us about his new single, what is currently on his plate and of course the band. Below is the interview.

You have a new single coming out next week entitled Discovering America where all profits will go to the American Indian College Fund. How did you become involved with this organization? What made you decide to support it?

I am a huge advocate of the Crazy Horse Memorial which is what the inspiration was for writing the song. We wanted to put the money toward the Crazy Horse organization but they have a strict policy about where their money comes from. So, they pointed us to the Indian College Fund which is where we decided to donate the earnings.

When your previous drummer Clint left how close were you to breaking up the band?

When Clint left it was a really good time for us to assess whether to continue or not. I am glad we didn’t; we were able to do this last album (Mama, I’m Swollen) which was a positive thing to get through with the remaining members. It’s tough to keep a band going as long as we have.

Do you all share song writing duties now compared to previous albums?

We kind of do more and less between Ted and I. When Ted joined the band I was hesitant about it because he is a songwriter himself and I didn’t like the idea of placing a songwriter behind a songwriter. We kind of let Ted decide if he wanted to join; he’s been with us for 20 years now. He has added to albums and those are the ones he lends vocals to.

I read previously you wrote a screenplay and were attempting to produce it. Did anything ever become of that?

It’s turning out great. I am schedule to shoot it in May. This is the closest I have gotten to shooting it without the date being moved. It’s about a guy whose car breaks down in a small town and begins to fraternize with the locals while his car is being fixed. He ends up staying there for a week and gets messed up in the lives of the locals. The antithesis of the whole thing was wondering what the secrets are that lie behind doors of small towns. It’s really low budget.

You were based out in Los Angeles for a time. Are you still there and how does collaborating with the rest of the band work since they are in Omaha?

I lived in Los Angeles for two years, but now I live in Montana in a place called Whitefish. The weather is better. Whitefish is tucked behind a mountain range so the winters are not as harsh as in Omaha.

Your last album Mama, I’m Swollen was available for download with a scale that started low and then proceeded to move up in price. How did that strategy work for you with regards to sales?

For us our objective was to get it to as many people as possible. The whole decision to do that was by Saddle Creek Records who was trying to create new ways of legal downloading. It was a pretty successful venture.

What kind of music are you listening today?

I feel really out of touch with music for the time being because I have been editing and finishing a record that will be mixed in the next couple of weeks. It’s not a Cursive record; it’s just going to a be solo album that will be coming out under my own name. It should be on Saddle Creek Records as well.

I know you guys have played Coachella do you like playing there (we will be attending this year)?

It’s a blast. I would have had more fun had I known how huge it was. Now I wish they would invite us back. I went there last year because Conor (Oberst) and the Mystic Valley Band were playing.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Show Announcement - The Middle East - Warhol Museum - 5/8/10



The Middle East will be performing at the Andy Warhol Museum on Saturday, May 8th. They are from Australia touring behind their first lp The Recordings of the Middle East . They are also performing at a couple of music festivals including Coachella (which we will be attending again this year). The band will be opening on a series of tour dates with the likes of Pavement, Beach House, Frightened Rabbit and Mumford & Sons. Below is there single "Lonely".

"Lonely"


4/14--University of California--Davis, CA (w/ Passion Pit & Mayer Hawthorne)
4/15--Fox Theater--Pomona, CA (w/ Pavement)
4/16--Soho Restaurant and Music Club--Santa Barbara, CA (w/ Beach House)
4/18--Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival--Indio, CA
4/19--The Clubhouse--Tempe, AZ (w/ Frightened Rabbit)~
4/21--Walter’s on Washington--Houston, TX (w/ Frightened Rabbit)~
4/22--The Loft--Dallas, TX (w/ Frightened Rabbit)~
4/23--Revolution--Little Rock, AR (w/ Frightened Rabbit)~
4/24--Masquerade Music Park--Atlanta, GA (w/ Frightened Rabbit)~
5/5--Horseshoe--Toronto, ON
5/6--The Ladies Literary Club at Calvin College--Grand Rapids, MI (w/ Laura Marling)%
5/7--Magic Stick--Detroit, MI (w/ Laura Marling)%
5/8--Andy Warhol Museum--Pittsburgh, PA (w/ Laura Marling)%
5/9--Big Orbit’s Soundlab--Buffalo, NY (w/ Laura Marling)%
5/11--Space--Portland, ME (w/ Laura Marling)%
5/13--Cabaret du Musee Juste Pour Rire--Montreal, QC (w/ Mumford & Sons) ^
5/14--The Middle East Downstairs--Cambridge, MA (w/ Mumford & Sons) ^
5/16--The Fillmore at TLA--Philadelphia, PA (w/ Mumford & Sons) ^
5/17--Music Hall of Williamsburg--Brooklyn, NY (w/ Mumford & Sons)
**SOLD OUT** ^
5/18--Webster Hall--New York, NY (w/ Mumford & Sons)
**SOLD OUT** ^
5/19--Mercury Lounge--New York, NY ^
5/20--930 Club--Washington, DC (w/ Mumford & Sons) ^
5/21--Beachland Ballroom--Cleveland, OH (w/ Mumford & Sons) ^
5/22--Wexner Center--Columbus, OH (w/ Mumford & Sons) ^
5/24--Lincoln Hall--Chicago, IL (w/ Mumford & Sons) ^
5/25--Varsity Theater--Minneapolis, MN (w/ Mumford & Sons) ^
5/29--Sasquatch Music Festival--Quincy, WA
5/30--560 Club--Vancouver, BC (w/ Mumford & Sons) ^
5/31--Aladdin Theater--Portland, OR (w/ Mumford & Sons) ^
6/2--Slim’s--San Francisco, CA (w/ Mumford & Sons) ^
6/4--The Music Box--Los Angeles, CA (w/ Mumford & Sons)
**SOLD OUT** ^
6/6--Belly Up Tavern--Solana Beach, CA (w/ Mumford & Sons) ^
6/7--Rhythm Room--Phoenix, AZ (w/ Mumford & Sons) ^
6/9--Antone’s--Austin, TX (w/ Mumford & Sons) ^
6/10--House Of Blues Cambridge Room--Dallas, TX (w/ Mumford & Sons) ^
6/12--Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival--Manchester, TN
~Dates with Frightened Rabbit
%Dates with Laura Marling
^Dates with Mumford and Sons

Twin Atlantic - Ticket Giveaway Winner



Congratulations to Jeff S. who won the pair of tickets to the Twin Atlantic/The Fall of Troy giveaway. Thank you to all those who entered.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Reminder - Ticket Giveaway - Twin Atlantic w/ The Fall of Troy - Diesel - 4/13/10



Just a reminder that I am giving away a pair of tickets to the Twin Atlantic w/ The Fall of Troy on Tuesday, April 13. To enter just send me your name to this email address pghmusicreport@gmail.com

I will be picking the winner tomorrow.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spotlight - Pittsburgh Local Artist - Action Camp - Edition 1 (Re-Post)



I am re-posting this 'spotlight' feature. When I initially wrote it I totally butchered the editing (or didn't bother). It sat out on the blog for over a day. So, here it is again.

Not too long ago we were called out by an artist for not helping to promote local acts. They had a point, so we decided to start a monthly focus (maybe more if time permits) on a local Pgh band.

The first artist to receive our 'Spotlight' is local duo Action Camp. Since 2006, Bengt Alexsander and Maura Jacob have been creating their craft together. A great deal of information can be found on their website: http://www.action-camp.com/. It is well maintained with a tour diary, video podcasts and a full bio.

We were able to interview them after a couple of cancellations on our part. Both were extremely candid throughout our meeting. You can find samples of their music in the interview below.

You were recently heckled at Club Café. What happened?

M: It wasn't necessarily directed toward us, but there was someone in the crowd who was talking at a volume that was over the music. I have a huge pet peeve of people talking in movies. At a show there is an unwritten law where you don't talk over the band. For the first 2 or 3 songs he was totally quiet, but then he started talking really loud.

B: In the middle of a song he told me we were too loud and I flipped him off. I continued to flip him off throughout the set and even said, "We are going to get louder, I hope its ok." After our set his friends apologized and made him go home.

Maura you are originally from the Pittsburgh area correct? And Bengt Boston?

M: Yes, I went to CAPA (performing arts) High School as a vocal major. I have family who has connections with CAPA as well. My grandmother taught visual arts there and my father taught some audio courses but not when I attended.

B: I grew up in central Massachusetts in a small town called Brimfield who's claim to fame is they have the third largest flea market. Once I graduated from High School I moved to Boston.

"Best I Can Do"


How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard you before?

B: If someone asks what kind of band we are I usually say we are a dream pop band. Our music is more of a big wall of sound and dynamics which comes from listening to the Pixies. If you have seen David Lynch movies I would say we try to emulate the soundtracks to those; a soundtrack that you would actually pay attention to. It's not to enhance the main feature.

M: I usually say surfy dream pop.

You both obviously put a lot of time and effort into the band along with other projects. What are your day jobs?

M: Bengt runs sound at a local club and I work in a cafe. We actually have exact opposite schedules where I start work at 6a and Bengt begins work at 7p. We meet in the middle to work on the music.

Do you all have health insurance now?

B: No. I generally don't get very sick and I run about 5 miles a night. I did recently chip a tooth that was causing a lot of pain for the first couple of days. I am hoping it will just even off because I can't really afford it right now. The way I look at it, everything else is more important (laughter).

M: I do have health insurance through the cafe and couldn't imagine myself without it due to chronic health problems. It's a huge problem for working musicians who travel all across the country or do other things that are potentially bad for your health.

How do you go about composing your material? How is the songwriting process?

M: We each have different backgrounds, where I have experience with writing, vocals and performing other people's music. I am the primary lyricist and work on melodies and harmonies vocally. Bengt, with his background, has been in several bands and does sound engineering. There is a compromising nature to our work since we have been together for 4 years now. So, while those are our strengths I think we are dipping more and more into each other's backgrounds.

"Tonight"


What are your goals for the band? What would you like to accomplish? Are you trying to get signed to a label?

B: We haven't looked into labels much. I come from a DIY background and like to have a lot of control over things. For the next record it would be nice to have a label if they understood what we wanted and to have a booking agent to help if they knew what type of clubs we liked to play. We recognize that we are a niche band that doesn't have mass appeal. If we ever made it to a level such as Morphine or the Pixies, a step above just being a working class musician, I would be happy. We aren't aiming super high to be Lady Gaga.

M: If we were able to quit our day jobs that would be great. Also, if we were able to travel and tour overseas.

Are your parents supportive? You both went to college. Do they have any misgivings about what you are doing?

M: Both of my parents are artistic. Both went to school and majored in visual arts as undergrads. They now have regular jobs. My father is actually a musician who has been playing since he was 14. He still performs locally in a band called Memphis Mike and the Legendary Tremblers as their bassist. Both are not surprised I am interested in music, but I know my mom wants me to have a plan B. She will only be scared if I am 35 and working at the cafe. At that point she will want to perform an intervention.

B: I have been doing this for over 10 years. I gave up a lot of my social life in high school because I was obsessed with music. My mom used to just see it as a hobby but understands now. She sees that we are trying to run a successful business for the lack of a better term. She is very supportive of it. She knows I have a steady flow of income and understands I am not going to do anything besides music. Ultimately she knows I will land on my feet.

The time we saw you play a show you were both dressed up. Do you do this for all of your shows?

M: I am a large part of the visuals for the band. Part of the reason we started dressing up was that I used to perform recitals. Another reason is we didn't want our shows to be an extension of your everyday life. It should feel like a separate part; we want the audience to feel that as well.

B: It's a very conscious decision. We have gone through phases but blue, red or purple are the three main colors we use. We just pick a color for the day and wear matching outfits.

"Bad Talker"


Your last album came out in April 2008. Are you currently working on a new one? When do you think it will come out?

B: My projection of when our record is complete, and Maura's (projection), are very different. I am probably a perfectionist. We spent 2.5 years on our first lp. The first album was recorded and played in the studio before we did anything live. For this album we want to play the songs live and then see how they grow. A lot of the songs from the first record have changed as we have played them out at shows. For me, I don't see finishing our record for another year. It's your most permanent work of art that you have to refine. It's not just a product you are putting out, it's a statement.

M: He is very much a perfectionist where I tend to push him. You have to either let it go or show someone else and try not to get worked up about every little detail. I am hoping at the latest 2011.

You start and end your shows by spelling out your band name over hand claps. Is there a story behind this?

B: I listen to a lot of sugary pop records like Shonen Knife and Junior Senior where they do really catchy and cheery stuff. It's also to control emotion a little bit when we do darker themes in our songs. We come back out and say (to the audience), "Hey everyone do a cheer with us."

M: In fairness none of this came to our minds when we first started doing it. We just thought it was really humorous and people were enjoying doing it with us.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Girls - Mr Smalls - 4/5/10 - Show Review - Pittsburgh



Girls played this past Monday at Mr. Smalls to a half full venue. I have heard varying opinions about this show which I am sure some of you have read. Let me go on record as saying I really enjoy their first lp Album which was in my player for quite some time. Of course, seeing the band who's album you enjoy doesn't always translate.

"Laura"


Girls opened their set with b-side 'Solitude'. I wish it had been a more fan friendly song to kick things off and grab the audience's attention. They continued their set by playing a majority of the songs off their "album" including 'Goddamn' and 'Lauren Marie'. The highlight for us happened when our drinks were knocked over by the pure driving force of 'Morning Light'. The songs that received the most attention by the crowd were of course their semi hits 'Lust for Life' and 'Laura'. Girls also played two other unreleased songs 'Substance' and 'Heartbreaker'. The band closed with another b-side 'Life in San Fransisco'.

"Lust For Life"


I believe my friend said it best when I asked him what he thought. He stated, "They were exactly as I imagined they would be. They satisfied my expectations." I thought this said it all. Did they blow you away? No. Were they a band who was going to prance around stage? Nope. They played their brand of pop and did it as expected. Watch the videos and judge for yourself (there are several more here).

**Special thanks to John K for the photos. To see more go here



"Morning Light"

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ticket Giveaway - Twin Atlantic w/ The Fall of Troy - Diesel - 4/13/10 - Show Preview



Twin Atlantic will be opening for The Fall of Troy at Diesel on Tuesday, 4/13. They are a young band from Glasgow, Scotland forming back in 2007. From their press release:

Through a combination of ridiculously melodic and poetic song-writing, Twin Atlantic showcase an ambition, determination and maturity far greater than their young years should allow. With riffs and choruses that will stick in your head for an age, they can play hard and fast and loud like the best of them, then instantly flip the switch and have a packed venue waving lighters to their softer side. And they're not just another growly band with a few good beards and a poster boy singer.

"You're Turning Into John Wayne"


"What is Light Where is Laughter"


I am giving away a pair of tickets to the show. Just simply email me your name to pghmusicreport@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Dark Dark Dark - Morning Glory - 4/3/10 - Pittsburgh - Show Review



Dark Dark Dark played this past Saturday night at Morning Glory in Morningside. The small coffee house was at capacity with patrons sitting on the floor and overflow watching from the windows. The band is touring behind their recent ep Bright Bright Bright which you can listen to here https://brightbrightbright.com/listen.html. It's a haunting album both in tone and lyrics that is probably one of my favorites of the year. Check out Hugh's interview here. I don't believe these videos do them justice, so be sure to check out the link above. I love Moglo, but I hope they play at a proper venue next time. My back and ass was were sore for sitting over 2 hours.

"Something For Myself"


"Wild Goose Chase"


"Bright Bright Bright"

Monday, April 5, 2010

Ticket Giveaway Winner - Girls - Mr Smalls - 4/5/10

Congratulations to Stephanie winner of the pair of tickets to tonight's Girls show. Thank you to all those who entered.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Reminder - Girls - Ticket Giveaway - Mr Smalls - 4/5/10 - Pittsburgh



Just a reminder Girls will be playing on 4/5/10 at Mr Smalls with the Dum Dum Girls opening. I have a pair of tickets to giveaway. Just email with your name to pghmusicreport@gmail.com. I will be drawing Sunday evening.