Thursday, June 30, 2011

Interview - Cut Copy - Show Preview - 7/11/11 - Club Zoo - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

The four members of Cut Copy often find themselves a long way from home. This is what happens when you live in the land down under, but spend much of your time crisscrossing the globe between cities for festivals and shows. I reached singer/keyboard player Dan on the phone one afternoon in Austin after the band had played there the night before. A day earlier, I would have had to reach them in Mexico. Before that they were in Puerto Rico. Later that same day I talked with him, the band was headed to Europe for a string of shows, which included a stop in St. Petersburg—seemingly one of the few places Dan had never been and was very excited to see.



Cut Copy’s unique sound lets them straddle a number of different audiences. They play electronic music, which puts them in front of rambunctious festival crowds of people who want to be carried away by the sound, but they are also a real band; four guys playing guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and all. Their 2008 album In Ghost Colours was a runaway success with fans of both electronic music and indie music, helped along in no small part by the large cross-over between genres popularized by music blogs in recent years. In early 2011 they released their third album, Zonoscope, to critical and fan acclaim. The new album extends their lush pop hooks into more psychedelic territory; a result of the unique approaches and ideas they took into the recording process.

“We used a lot of different techniques when making this record, and for us I think it’s a reflection of our fondness of the process of record making,” Dan said. The band found a warehouse on the outskirts of Melbourne where they deposited all of their equipment and spent months exploring a variety of different sounds and approaches while self-recording the album. One of the overarching themes for the band was the blending of organic and mechanical sounds. “When we were working on this record we got interested in exploring rhythm more than we had in the past. We were inspired by exploring sort of organic rhythms, hearkening back to tribal sounds from Africa and the music that was inspired by that in the 80s, like Talking Heads. But we work with synthesizers as well, so there is kind of a contrast between some of this acoustic organic stuff and the harder synthesized sound.”



Taking up recording techniques from the past, the band brought in a live chorus for backing vocals, arranged instruments for simultaneous recording, and used some unorthodox and even imaginary instruments. Like Christopher Walken, they often found a need for to call for “more zonoscope!” to get the tracks just right. “What exactly is the zonoscope?” I asked Dan. He laughed. “It's a word that we created, basically feeling like we had inhabited this different world while writing this album. Or a different place in mind. The zonoscope was a device, or even like a looking glass into this other world that we created. So the idea of the zonoscope was sort of a way of encouraging ourselves to see into this world that we created while making this album.”

After finishing the album in the studio, the reality of touring the music set in. “There’s a brief moment of panic where we realize there’s no way we can play live all the instruments that we recorded on the tracks!” Dan joked. He said the band wants to do as much live as they possibly can in terms of the way they recorded the songs, but they also want to give fans something new and different than the experience on the album. Not only is this what makes the live show worth it to fans, but it’s what keeps it interesting for the band night after night as well. Cut Copy also incorporates visuals as much as possible into their show—this time around he said there is a giant doorway through which the band enters. Later, the audience ‘looks through the doorway’ to see the sights of Zonoscope.

With all the traveling to exotic and cosmopolitan locales, I asked him what they enjoy about the different places and audiences. “Well, just recently, the Mexico city show was about 4,000 people. And that was a headline show, not a festival. For us, that's a pretty decent crowd; probably even bigger than what we play back home in Australia. It's interesting having that kind of response in a place where the lifestyle sometimes feels really foreign to us, but you can see that there is still some kind of connection to our music.”

Besides good crowds at shows, they also appreciated being able to get fresh tacos. “I guess in Australia we are probably about as far from Mexico as you can get. And…our version of Mexican food isn’t really that great.”

Dan mentioned coffee as one of the things he likes trying in different places. As a fellow coffee-lover, I had to find out if there were any particular parts of the world where he likes coffee. Dan was even more detailed that I expected.

“Well, there is a place in Oslo called Tim Wendelboe. Probably one of the best coffee roasters in the world. It's just incredible. In the state there are some great ones as well. Stumptown, Intelligentsia, Blue Bottle, Blue Bird, the list goes on…”

“You really know your coffee!” I said.

“Yeah. We're well researched.”

Coffee shops and music fans in Pittsburgh, be on notice: Cut Copy will be playing here on July 11th at Club Zoo, and they’re not messing around.

Cut Copy will be performing at Club Zoo on 7/11. You can find tickets here.

--Daniel Hammer

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Joker Productions Quits

Local promoter Jon Rinaldo, who operated Joker Productions, has called it a day after 22 years. Joker mainly booked at both Diesel and Thunderbird Cafe and before that Club Cafe before Opus One took over. I spoke to him about 5 months ago and he mentioned the difficulty of booking shows and making any money. This was due to the number of promoters in the area according to him. RIP

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Milk Carton Kids Ticket Winner

Congratulations to Leah C. winner of the Milk Carton Kids ticket giveaway. Just a reminder that MKC will be plaing tomorrow night at the Rex Theater. Please find more information here.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pittsburgh Furry Weekend

Don't forget to checkout the Convention Center this weekend. Furries are known for their massive techno parties and fun loving ways.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Local Spotlight - Chet Vincent & The Big Bend - July 2011

Chet Vincent & The Big Bend are our spotlight for the month of July. We realize it's still June, however, we wanted to coordinate with their cd release show happening this Friday, 6/24 at the Brillobox. The new album is titled For Everyone  and shows the band being folkier and more lyrical than their first cd. Chet himself was kind enough to answer our interview questions sharing how the band formed out of shows from Howler's and how their song writing process works. If you attend the show at Brillobox you will receive a copy of their new album with your ticket admission. Opening will be an acoustic set from Josh Verbanets and Casey Hanner and The Harlan Twins. Doors are at 9:30p and show begins at 10p. Find the new album streaming throughout the below interview.

How did the band come together? Were you all friends that went to school?

Most of us met one summer about 8 years ago, when we played a bunch of shows at Howler’s (which was a much different place back then) in our underage "first” bands. A few years went by, then Chet and Abe ran into each other again the summer after college, and thought it'd be fun to play some shows at places they were now old enough to legally go to. Not long after this, Tad, a famous character from the old days, joined the band on bass. We found Dan the way you find any pot of gold, under a rainbow.



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

Like a lot of bands we generally try to avoid doing this as much as possible. Some of us like the term "roots-rock," others "blues-tinged folk-rock."

Are you all originally from the Pittsburgh area? Families here as well?

We are all from Pittsburgh or the surrounding areas, except Dan who hails from Tokyo.

Do you all create music full time or is this more of a part time venture?

We hope someday it will be a full time thing. Right now we do as much as our jobs and the crazy uncertain future of the nation permits.

Do you have day jobs?

We wish it weren't the case, but unfortunately we're not big enough stars to not have to at least try to make an honest living Monday through Friday. Some people's work is more legit than others though.



How do you create your music? What is the song writing process?

About ⅔ of the songs are written singer/songwriter style by Chet, who then brings them to be arranged by the whole band. The rest are the product of a collaboration between Tad and Abe, in which Tad writes the music and Abe writes the lyrics. Then Abe sings the lyrics to Tad really awkwardly and somehow Tad instinctively knows how to make them sound sexy -- not dissimilar to that scene with the bald white guy in the movie “Ray.”

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

We hope one day, after a show, we can look at all our gear on the stage and not worry about whose gonna have to pack it up, or have to stay sober enough to drive the van. The future of labels seems uncertain, but all we can do is keep working and hopefully some opportunities will present themselves.

What advice would you give to local acts trying to make it?

Be nice, stay enthusiastic -- it works better than the alternative. Go to a lot of shows because there’s good music out there.

Have you all toured nationally? Or do you usually stay more regionally?

We've been out to a few surrounding cities a couple times, like Cleveland, D.C, Baltimore, Nashville, Chicago, and New York. We're trying to expand more, and hopefully put together a real tour soon. It's tough with the day jobs and everybody’s busy schedules.



Being in the PGH area, do you find it more difficult to try and succeed?

Depends on what counts as success. It's hard to say without spending real time in other places to provide a good comparison. Its not a huge city, but that can be a plus. It's also a really affordable city, particularly considering how many good bands there are and how much is going on (though it sometimes feels like this is a secret, even to people from here). We're proud to be a part of it for sure.

What are some of the obstacles you face trying to create some 'success' in Pgh?

As mentioned earlier -- even though Pittsburgh isn't that big, it’s actually quite diverse in terms of musical taste and culture. For some reason there seems to be a huge river-based divide between the South Side and
the Lawrenceville/Bloomfield area. There's also a real divergence of the population between the sort of gentrifying art/youth culture, college students, yinzers, and people living outside the city. There's a lot going
on here that people should be excited and positive about, but it can be hard to get the word out.



What are the positive benefits of being in the area?

Great bands - very supportive scene. It's hard to imagine that anywhere else you see so many local musicians coming out to support one and other. It's also possible to get a place around here for cheap where you can make loud noise all hours of the night. Also, despite not being a huge city there's no shortage of places to play.

Is there a venue you have enjoyed playing more than others in the area?

Thunderbird, Brillobox, Howler’s.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Interview with Guards Richie Follin

Wednesday, the very solid lineup of Writer, Guards, and Cults each sprung their own brand of fuzzed chords, reverb, and nostalgic pop on a sold-out Brillobox crowd eager to inhabit the atmospheres they were offering. Guards and Cults are bands related by elements of their retro sound, but also related by blood: Richie Follin of Guards and Madeline Follin of Cults are precocious brother and sister. This past year, they were swept, ready or not, to a level of buzz and popularity that they themselves wouldn’t have predicted even weeks before it began. It is a meteoric rise that can be as rewarding as it is unforgiving and quick to spit out those who let the buzz drive them, rather than the other way around.

A few hours before the show started, I had the chance to speak with Richie as he waited in Pittsburgh in the downtime before the show. He seemed to accept that daily interviews come with the territory of being the man behind a band whose name is on everyone’s lips and whose songs are getting stuck in all of our heads these days. He did say, though, that he regrets the loss of mystery. He likes the idea of listeners relating to music on its own terms, sometimes without the influence of the musician’s persona or own ideas about their music.

“I was excited about having some mystery at first,” he said. When Guards’ music was first made public, it was through their Bandcamp page (where the EP is still available for free download). He used the site to post the songs for Madeleine and friends to hear, but didn’t reveal who Guards was. He said, “I know that anytime I hear music from anybody I know who has previously released music, I’m automatically biased towards it. So it was cool to have that mystery…for a second.”

The Guards EP has an interesting origin story. Las year, Cults put their song “Go Outside” out there in the blogosphere, and it blew up. Madeline and Brian from Cults devoted themselves to pulling together an album and a live band as quickly as the could—a band that included Richie in the lineup until just recently. Richie began writing songs on his own that he thought might become good material for Cults. A few months later, he found that he had a number of great songs that were initially envisioned for Cults.

“It completely changed the way I wrote,” he said. “I wasn't writing for myself. It wasn't until I ended up singing on them that they kind of became my own. Basically the whole year I was just working on Cults, and it was only during one of these breaks that I had some time to get it together. The response that I got from friends and my manager was that I should definitely release them in some form.” Although he is still a member of the band Willowz, he said that the songs were “such a different thing I thought I would release it under a different name. And then Madeleine tweeted about it [the Bandcamp page] and then it was on a bunch of blogs the next day.” The rest is the history that is still to be written.

Writer opened the show with an engaging two-person sound featuring lots of tambourine and drums. Guards came next. There seems to be a theme of tall men with long hair in both Guards and Cults—Richie and Brian from Cults both even wore matching white button-down shirts and ties. Richie’s vocals came through layers of reverb while he played guitar. Most of the songs, however, were written on an omnichord; an electric harp-like instrument with a strum pad and buttons for programmed sound. Now that Guards has filled out to a full band, band member Hailey sat serenely in the center of the stage on the omnichord, along with other members on keyboards/guitars, bass, and drums. Everybody sings on most of the choruses. The live show was an outstanding translation of the record.

Both Cults and Guards have been described as having a 60s sound. I asked Richie about what influence he thinks his upbringing had on how he approaches music today, considering that his father himself was a musician who recorded with punk rock legends when Richie and Madeleine were young. “The main thing I think it helps with is the aesthetic,” he said. “I feel like it gave us a strong sense of what we perceived as ‘cool.’ And I don't think it's changed much over the past fifteen years. I think I got better at what I was doing, but the idea of what I thought was good, and what music and being in a band should be about, hasn't really changed.”

While Guards was on stage, Madeline stood near the speakers at the front, plugging her ears at some point because, Richie said, “She has sensitive ears.” Later, when Cults took the stage, there stood Richie in nearly the same spot. With life and music so entwined for the two of them, they each appeared to be beaming with enthusiasm, and maybe a touch of pride, while watching the other play.

Richie and I continued talking about the meaning “cool,” and he said that while he wants to produce a certain aesthetic with his music, he has no interest in pretending to be “cooler” than anyone else simply because he’s on stage. “I've always hated that. I know when I was younger I was worried about proving how cool I was. I guess that's just something I don't care about anymore,” he said. Then he laughed. “Maybe that's a horrible thing.”

Cool or uncool, the music industry is something that has changed dramatically since the Follins were young. Richie said he is still figuring out how he feels about this new world and the prospects to make a living as a musician. “[With Cults] we've been in situations where we've been offered money to be in a commercial or to sell something, and I think about how all my favorite people would never have done that. But I'm starting to realize that this is one of the things that have changed. Most of these people are doing that now, and that is one of the things that have changed. Even since I started doing music, the way that you make money today is so different. Pretty much the only way to make money is doing ads and touring.”

Most bands I’ve talked with over the past year have echoed this. Record sales are low, unpaid downloads are high, and even those albums that do sell through online services provide very little money for the band. Touring has the potential to bring in money if a good crowd shows up. For anyone out there who wants to support touring musicians—buy something at the show instead of online. This is the only way the money goes straight to musicians.

As to his ambivalence about the new methods by which music is marketed and discovered, often through advertisements, he said, “At the same time, if it's getting your song to a person who is potentially going to be a fan, maybe it's not such a bad thing.”

Guards’ music is available on their Bandcamp page, on several Kitsuné compilations, and on an upcoming single through White Iris Records later this summer.

--Daniel Hammer

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Interview - Show Preview - HotKid - 6/23/11 - Rex Theater - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

HotKid will be opening for Sloan this Thursday, 6/23 at the Rex Theater. The band is a duo made up of Shiloh Harrison (guitar/vox) and Rob Butcher III (drums) based out of Toronto. The young twosome is touring behind their latest EP titled Under the Streetlight which came out this past year. The band was kind enough to answer a few questions for us concerning their admiration for Sloan to this being their first US tour. Also, find videos of the band throughout the interview.

Could you give us a little background on how you became. You are a 2 piece, have you ever had any other members in the band?

Shiloh: HK has always been a two piece - we started out me and my gal pal Ra Ra - - about five, six years ago - I just found long lost pics of us - we looked like babies - Ra Ra left to take on the world and Peter McIntosh took up the drum sticks - we toured tirelessly back and forth to Canada's east coast for about 4 years in our beloved van Goldie - Petey retired a little over a year ago and Robbie stepped up to the kick drum.

Rob: Always a two-piece, there's enough to deal with when 2 people are in a band - I don't know how bigger bands keep it together. It started out as a logistics thing - find one person you can make music with and do it!


When touring do you still perform as a 2 piece?

Rob: Like when Black Keys add two guys but it doesn't sound any better? I kid.

Shiloh: We're a two piece - we don't even put bass on our recordings. Maybe one day we'll travel with an all female horn section. Who knows, anything is possible.

You grew up in Canada near Lake Ontario. How is the music scene there? Supportive?

Shiloh:Well it depends - Toronto is full of musicians - we've been lucky to be surrounded by like minded people who make amazing music. They come out to shows and make appearances in videos and listen to our music and vice-versa. The outskirts of TO can be pretty hurtin sometimes - but there are scenes of people doing really creative amazing stuff.

Rob: Like any other scene I guess. Lots of awesome groups. The majority of people not from here are aware of about 1% of them.

Do you feel its more difficult building a following in Canada then the US?

Rob: I don't think we'll have a problem growing our following once we actually tour across Canada and throughout the US. Haven't strayed too far from home yet. I'll let you know in a year.

Shiloh:No idea - we're about to find out!!

You will be touring with Sloan who have been around forever and have a strong following. Did you grow up listening to them? How did the tour come about?

Shiloh: Yeah man - Sloan are totally Canada - totally east coast rockers. It's crazy! Robbie tells the story best. I think he prayed to the rock gods every night since he was like 14 probably.

Rob: Sloan are without a doubt my favorite band of all time. They has never been a bigger fan opening for them, and that's a fact. We got really lucky in that they reached out to us. This is dream come true.


How do you go about creating your music? Do you all contribute to the lyrics and music?

Rob: Shiloh writes the core of the song, and I play drums along to it. Pretty simple.

Shiloh: Yeah - I usually write it - lyrics and music on the ol' guitar - sing something - bring it to Robbie and go from there.

What would you like to accomplish as a band? What are the goals?

Shiloh:Keep making music - hopefully people care about it.

Rob: I'm really happy with the gradual climb we've been having. It seems with each passing month there are more people who are aware of us, and opportunities keep falling into our lap. We're very fortunate.

What made you want to dedicate your life to music? Was there a show or album?

Shiloh:Wow, I struggle with this question everyday. Haha. I don't think I decided, I think music picks you. I loved east coast Canadian music. Elevator is a huge inspiration - so is Neil Young. Singing it from the heart ya know? That's what's really inspiring.

Rob: Back to Sloan, I was 15 when I first saw them on the One Chord tour, and that show blew my mind. They are without a doubt my biggest influence, as I'm sure you'll see on the 23rd.


Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

Shiloh:Hiiiiiii Pittsburgh!!!!!! Our first US show will be with you guys!! Yeah!!!

Rob: It's our first time here! Were any cool movies shot here? Let's have some fun together at The Rex! See you then!

HotKid will open for Sloan with doors opening at 7p and show beginning at 8p. You can find ticket information here .

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ticket Giveaway - Show Preview - Milk Carton Kids - 6/27/11 - Rex Theater - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

The Milk Carton Kids will be appearing at the Rex Theater next Monday, 6/27. They will be opening for Joe Purdy. We are happy to be providing a pair of tickets to the show. To enter just simply email your name to pghmusicreport@gmail.com

The duo is comprised of Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan who have released over 10 albums between them as solo artists. The new venture has only released one live album entitled Retrospect which is available for free on their official website. The album has over 13,000 downloads since being posted. Their first proper studio album entitled Prologue is in the process of being released this year. They play minimal instruments with strong harmonies and dual vocals.



From their press:

A performance by The Milk Carton Kids is a quiet and intricate affair. Kenneth Pattengale & Joey Ryan have enjoyed intently listening audiences across the country and abroad in their respective solo careers, but an even greater sense of urgency and demand of attention is palpable now that they’ve come together as The Milk Carton Kids. Their songs are written together, but you won’t know there is more than one author. Their history together spans only one short year, but you won’t know that either. They stand close together when they play, facing each other and using microphones instead of plugging their guitars in. And if they looked more alike, they’d fool you that they were brothers.




The doors open at 7p and show begins at 8p. You can find more information about the Milk Carton Kids at their webiste http://themilkcartonkids.com/. You can purchase the tickets here. Remember we have a ticket giveaway. To enter just email us at pghmusicreport@gmail.com.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Show Review - Ume - Hard Rock Cafe - 6/9/11 - Concert Review - Live Review

Last Thursday night we were contacted at the last minute to checkout a band we had never heard of called Ume. Most of the time you just ignore the request because the band doesn’t have ‘it’. This time we took a chance and are glad we did. Our night started with opener The Scattered Calm, a local act reminiscent of a mini Mogwai. The all instrumental band appeared to be in their early 20’s and sounded surprisingly tight and accomplished. Many of their friends and family were in attendance. We worried that it would clear out for Ume, and in fact it did. Fortunately, despite the lacking crowd, Ume pulled off their blistering set of high intensity that definitely won some new fans that night.



Ume is a female fronted band lead by Lauren Larson. The band, based out of Austin, features a powerful fury that cannot be given justice unless seen in the flesh. There is a steady passion and ability Lauren brings onstage which sucks the audience in with the first note. In constant motion, hair always covering her face, she’s a reminder of the late 90’s when bands like Sleater Kinney and Hole brought women to the forefront of music. She is backed by her husband on bass and with a third member on drums.


Larson’s playing is balance from over 15 years of experience. I haven’t seen a female play as effortlessly as she did this evening. The band plays hook filled power chords with screeching guitar licks. Larson belts out vocals in quick spurts while her husband backs her on bass stabilizing her raw energy. The band played through a quick set making little banter with the crowd. The whole audience was entranced with the band showing their approval between songs.



We were hoping for more, but the band forwent the normal encore which wasn’t necessary because the audience was easily sold. Ume currently has an EP entitled Sunshower available on their site with an LP on the way. You can find more information of the band here: http://umemusic.com/wp/

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Interview - Show Preview - Brontosaurus - 6/21/11 - Garfield Artworks - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

This Tuesday Chicago's Brontosaurus will be performing at Garfield Artworks. They just released their first LP this past week titled Cold Comes To Claim. Nicholas Kelly and Nicholas Papaleo make up the band who are touring the states together for the first time. The two fuse their backgrounds of classical, indie, metal and prog into an album that demonstrates chamber pop to math rock. Below are a few questions the band was kind enough to answer for us along with their new album streaming. You can find more information about the band here: http://brontosaurusmusic.bandcamp.com/

Could you tell us a little about how Brontosaurus became? Were you all in other bands? Or?

Brontosaurus was born from the ashes of a band called Picture Books that the two of us played in since 2006. In that band we discovered we had an instinctual way of working with each other that went well beyond that of anyone we've collaborated with before, so when that band called it quits in January of last year we knew the two of us had to continue. In Picture Books we weren't the main songwriters so we had built up a large cache of our songs on the side that immediately became the basis of Brontosaurus.



Do you incorporate any other members on the road to flesh out your sound?

It's certainly something we've considered early on but in time we managed to develop an intricate live show which covers all of the bases. I play piano, guitar, and glockenspiel while covering the bass parts with pedals that I play with my feet. NK plays the guitar and drums and we both sing. Sometimes we'll create a drum beat together as NK plays the hi-hat and bass drum with his feet while strumming a guitar I'll play a snare drum with my right hand and the keyboards with my left hand. Some would say it would be much easier to just bring in another member, we instead chose a much more difficult route. Though I think it makes us a much more interesting band to watch.

Your debut lp Cold Comes To Claim comes out this month. Is there a theme behind the album? Or were most of the songs constructed on their own?

There is and there isn't a theme. Some songs are certainly tied to one another certainly touch on a similar subject matter, but they were never designed to follow a theme. It just happened that a lot of the songs can weave in and out with each other. With the latest batch of songs that we're writing for the next album we're much more aware of our lyrical themes and we're making a concerted effort to cover more ground. The music on the other hand was specifically designed to flow from one song to the next. We wanted to create something that could work as one continuous body of work should a listener want to listen in such a fashion. This was actually born out of our live show which is often (not always) performed as a straight 30 minute set without a break.

You both are located in Chicago. Were you both from the area originally? Do you enjoy the music scene there? Is it supportive of what you are creating?

I was born and raised in the Chicago burbs and have been in the city proper since I was 18. NK was born and raised in the Quad Cities area and has been in Chicago since 2006. The music scene certainly has it's positives. There's quite a number of great music venues and an the scene runs the gamut when it comes to musical diversity. There's also some great promoters in town that really try hard to get bands recognition. On the other hand the winter is a terrible time to try and get a good crowd out for local shows and Lollapalooza sometimes messes things up in terms of getting good touring bands into Chicago during the summer.



Many of your songs off the album clock in at over 5 minutes. Was this intentional or did this just kind of flesh out in the studio?

Longer songs was quite the opposite of what we set out to do. I remember early on in the writing process we wanted to write 2-3 minute pop songs. We would write all these little musical moments trying to achieve that then somehow all those moments sort of morphed into the songs you hear now. Along the way we decided to let the songs guide us and tell us where they wanted to go and not force anything that didn't come to us naturally.

How do you go about creating your music? Do you all contribute to the lyrics and music?

We're a rather democratic band. 90% of the music and the lyrics on the album were written together. Nothing happens in this band that we both don't agree on, which at times can be frustrating but in the end I feel makes for a song that we can be completely proud of. It is rare for one of us to bring a mostly completed song to the table. The point of the band is that we greatly admire what the other can do to our songs and ideas and we want to see what the other person has to add. Our songs usually start when NK or I bring a very rough chord progression or drum pattern to the table. After that we spend weeks trying out part after part and constantly editing everything until we have a nearly completed song structure after that we usually start to write lyrics. For lyrics one of us usually has a first line or a suggestion of what we want the song to be about and then we go from there trying to fill in the blanks almost mad lib style.

What would you like to accomplish as a band? What are the goals?

Our main goal right now is to get our record into Europe and follow that up with a tour. After that who knows. If we can continue to make records and tour until we run out of songs I'll be a happy man.



What made you want to dedicate your life to music? Was there a show or album?

I can't think of one single event that made me want to be a musician. For as long as my memory goes back I've always been playing music. I'm compelled to. If I see a guitar I have to strum it, I can't walk by the piano in my house without sitting down and playing for a spell. It's just second nature now.

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

Be kind to us. It's our first time.
 
Brontosaurus will be opening this show at Garfield Artworks. Doors are at 8p.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Interview - Show Preview - Iceage - 6/21/11 - The Shop - Concert Preview

Iceage will be performing next Tuesday, 6/21 at The Shop in Bloomfield. They are a quartet based out of Copenhagen, Denmark making their first tour in the states. The band just released their debut lp entitled New Brigade. Playing at a total length of 26 minutes, the album stretches the bounds of punk adding in goth and hardcore to the mix. The teenage musicians are known for their frantic shows that leave bruises on your body for days.

Lead man Elias Bender Rønnenfelt was kind enough to answer a few questions about their upcoming tour, album and their sweat filled sets. Also, find a couple of videos

You all are from Copenhagen. How is the music scene there compared to the rest of Europe or the US?

I don't know that many bands from Europe that I like but it's probably not the same as Copenhagen. For me what's going on in Copenhagen is the best but that's probably because that's where I'm from and I get to follow the bands from early on.





Is there a strong punk scene in Copenhagen? Or the rest of Denmark?

I think it's divided into different splinters. Some of my friends' bands that I really enjoy includes Lower, Sexdrome, Jackman, Pregnant Man. I also saw another good band the other day called The War Goes On.

Could you give some background on how your band became? Did you go to school together? Or?

We have all known each other since we were really small. I knew Johan and Dan because they were in the class above me in my first school and Jakob because we were kids in the same neighborhood. We've always played music together to pass time but it wasn't until 2008 when the band and the songs came together.

You are known for your frantic live shows. Are these typical everywhere you travel? How intense do they get?

Not everywhere we travel. It's very different. Everything depends on the spirit in the air.

You just recently produced your first lp, New Brigade. How long did it take you to create the album? Was there a theme behind it?

We figured out the songs over a period of two years and the album took three or four days to record. There is no theme or concept—it's just whatever we felt like doing.


You just graduated HS. What are your plans for the future? College? Or trying to make a go of being a musician?

No I didn't graduate high school—I'm in my final year but I fucked up so I won't be graduating. I'm not trying to be a musician, and I don't expect to live off it later in my life.

How do you go about creating your music? Do you all contribute to the lyrics and music?

We don't write the lyrics together, but we all write stuff on our own and contribute.

What would you like to accomplish as a band? What are the goals?

Just whatever happens.



What made you want to dedicate your life to music? Was there a show or album that made you want to get into the punk scene?

I don't think there's one show or album that changed everything. It's just what we need to do and I don't think we could not do this.

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

I look forward to seeing your town, I hope it's nice.

Show is at 4312 Main St in Bloomfield.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Show Preview - Guards - Brillobox - 6/15/11 - Concert Preview - Pittsburgh


Guards will be opening for Cults at the Brillobox this Wednesday, 6/15. While Cults has been getting massive blog buzz, Guards isn't far behind. They are touring behind their new self titled EP which you can find here. They play 60s pop riffs with lo-fi guitar buzz. Both the melodies and lyrics are playful which accomodate their sound well. Richie James Follin leads the band based out of NYC. Originally from Southern California, he was the previous band lead for indie band Willowz and is the brother of Cults member Madeline Follin.

GUARDS - Resolution of One by 3 Syllables Records

Guards was formed in New York City when Richie James Follin returned from a European tour to a recording studio with nothing in it but a broken electric 12 string guitar and an omnichord. He wrote and recorded a few songs for his little sister to sing on, but ended up singing on the songs himself. He enlisted the help of his friends (Caroline Polachek of Chairlift, James Richardson of MGMT, Loren Shane Humphrey of Willowz) and family (Madeline Follin of Cults) to guest on some songs and they spread the word without his knowledge via twitter and the internet. Then, he decided to give the songs away for free.


GUARDS - I See it Coming by 3 Syllables Records

Show is scheduled to begin at 9:30p with doors opening at 9p.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Show Preview - Son of the Sun - 6/15/11 - The Smiling Moose - Concert Preview

Son of the Sum will be playing at The Smiling Moose this Wednesday 6/15. They are a 5 piece based out of New York. The band members are touring behing their new EP  The Happy Loss.

Almost Not There by sonofthesunmusic

From their bio:

Son of the Sun formed in early 2007 with two members living on opposite sides of the country. Joseph Stocker (guitar, keyboards) lived in New York and Zak Ward (lead vocals, guitar) lived in California. Once band mates and friends, the two experimented with their reflective, lush, "wall of sound" musical tastes over the internet, swapping files which eventually brought about their first E.P. in 2008 Before the After. After Zak moved back to New York the duo went on to add Jeremy Franklin (guitar), Steve Matthews (bass), and Brandon Delmont (drums).

Before the After was received with open arms on the upstate New York music scene bringing in positive reviews. Among them was The Buffalo News who selected SOTS as a "band to watch" in 2009. Playing local shows and touring regionally developed the bandÕs sound into what is described as encompassing elements of groups such as Band of Horses, The Kinks, Gram Parsons, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

In June of 2010 Son of the Sun released their first full-length album The Happy Loss. With the help of co-producer Mike Brown, the album was recorded in part at Temperamental Recordings in Geneseo, NY and mixed by Alan Weatherhead (Sparklehorse, Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker) at Sound of Music Recording Studios in Richmond, VA. Throughout 2010 Son of the Sun continued to tour from the midwest to the east coast and support national headlining acts in the Upstate NY area. With every show sold out at the local level, the band has been able to expand their fan base regionally.



Show begins at 9p with tickets costing $5.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Show Preview - Keegan DeWitt - Club Cafe - 6/15/11 - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

Keegan DeWitt will be playing Club Cafe this Wednesday 6/15. He will be opening for Jeremy Messersmith. Keegan has an upcoming EP that will be released this August. "Thunder Clatter" is the single which you can find streaming below. We had previously featured Keegan for providing the score to Cold Weather, a film by former Pittsburgh resident Aaron Katz.

Thunder Clatter by Keegan DeWitt

From his bio:

Keegan DeWitt is a songwriter and Independent Spirit Award-nominated film composer, originally from Portland, OR, and currently based in Nashville. Last year, PasteMagazine.com labeled him one of its '10 Best Solo Artists of 2010' and featured him as part of its 'Best of What's Next' series. He most recently released an EP, Nothing Shows, via the acclaimed Daytrotter website as its first ever exclusive release, and a limited edition 7", Two Hearts/Reluctance, via Theory 8 Records. Keegan has gained considerable press coverage over the past two years, with coverage from outlets including American Songwriter, AOL Music's Spinner, FilterMagazine.com, MagnetMagazine.com, MTVMusic, My Old Kentucky Blog, Nashville Scene, Popmatters, and Urban Outfitters, among others. After wrapping up the much-heralded Daytrotter Barnstormer 4 tour alongside Sondre Lerche, Guards, and The Romany Rye in late April, Keegan will head back out on the road throughout the northeastern US with Jeremy Messersmith in June.

DeWitt, who was named one of Paste’s ’10 Best New Solo Artists of 2010,’ first gained recognition for his film scores and his work can currently be seen in theaters in Aaron Katz’s Cold Weather. His most recent scores premiered at the SXSW film festival this year in official selection No Matter What, directed by Cherie Saulter, and in the short film “Remigration,” directed by Barry Jenkins (Medicine For Melancholy).


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Doors open at 7p with show beginning at 7:30p.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Show Preview - Chris Garneau - Warhol Museum - 6/11/11 - Concert Preview


Chris Garneau will be performing at the Warhol this Saturday night, 6/11. He wil be opening for Keren Ann with the show beginning at 8p. Chris is based in Brooklyn, NY and is touring behind his new lp El Radio. His music is described as pop melody with a falsetto voice.



From his press:

Chris’ debut album Music For Tourists(2007) was sad and sparse and gorgeous, drawing inspiration from Chris’ own life for its subject matter.  The album found its audience like a migrating colony of butterflies and every week since the album’s release, thirty, fifty, hundreds of people have captured it or perhaps been captured by it.  When a record finds its audience in this way and those butterflies flutter brightly in all directions and you start seeing blog posts (outside the so-called sphere) and tweets and interview mentions that say, “one of my favorite singers, Chris Garneau,” well, it’s more satisfying and real and special.

In the summer and autumn months that followed, Garneau and friends piled into a van with as many instruments as they could fit and traveled north to New Hampshire to begin creating El Radio. Surrounded by the simplicity of lake and mountains, the intricate process of making an utterly organic record began. The result exceeds all expectations. A rich harmonium and a wave of strings opens the album in "The Leaving Song". Chris describes loss of life as standing in the desert on a warm spring day. A hummingbird lands in the palm of his hand. When it flies off, the metaphor in the song is born. "You have to let them leave and pretend like you don't want to go with them, and you have to pretend this forever," he says. The album's genesis also parallels Garneau's perspective as a songwriter as El Radio sees him draw lyrically from sources outside himself and his own experiences to those of other characters, both real and imaginary.



Show begins at 8p with tickets priced at $15/12.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Local Spotlight - Slingshot Genius - June 2011 - Pittsburgh

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Slingshot Genius is our featured local spotlight for the month of June. They are a five piece that has been around the Pittsburgh area since December 2008. Singer/guitar player Scott Canavan was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. Below is the interview along with a few videos of the band. They will be playing at Excuses in the Southide on June 18th. You can find more information about them at: http://www.slingshotgenius.com/

How did the band come together? Were you all friends that went to school?

We all happened to be at the right place at the right time, on Craigslist. It's not just a place to sell your bike or find a landscaper apparently.

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

A little bit of Tom Petty, the Foo Fighters, X and Blondie mixed together. We play mostly originals with catchy choruses and try to get to the point of the song without too much messing around.



Are you all originally from the Pittsburgh area? Families here as well?

Everyone except for Erika is a Pittsburgh native, more or less. We made her promise to say yinz a lot though.

Do you all create music full time or is this more of a part time venture?

We all have day jobs, careers, ways to pay the bills and just happen to be lucky enough to get to do this as regularly as we do. We usually do 1 or more shows a month that we can fit in between work and families.

How do you create your music? What is the song writing process?

For starters, we are fortunate enough to have patience with each other. That's somewhat rare with bands. The earliest material we started with came from earlier compositions of mine. Over the last year or so we've really found a nice niche of individual contributions and suggestions. Erika has written lyrics for a few of the songs where as in the past mostly my lyrics were used. But once the shell is formed Chris, Rob, Erika and Brian step up to make it a Slingshot Genius song.



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

We see it as a serious hobby. We may be getting into this a little later in our lives compared to bands that are all in their early twenties so stardom's not really on the radar. Playing great gigs with great crowds is our main focus right now. If we get lucky with some bigger chances we would certainly jump on them. Local radio play is coming our way on the X in May so that's pretty exciting.

What advice would you give to local acts trying to make it?

You really have to know what you want and communicate that in the band. There can be 5 opinions in a band but really only one direction. Play songs you love, not what you're guessing people will love.

Have you all toured nationally or do you usually stay more regionally?

Nationally? Does the North Hills count? Yeah, for now we are pretty local.

Being in the Pgh area, do you find it more difficult to try and succeed?

Success is based so much on whether you are happy in the first place anyway. There's tons of great places to play but this isn't a gig you get into thinking you make a ton of money. Playing originals is about heart and soul and if you're not ready to deal with that it can get frustrating fast.

What are some of the obstacles you face trying to create some 'success' in Pgh?

Playing originals is tough, be we know that. And if we were all a little younger, our main audience would be the college/drinking/partying people. So our obstacles are our own and we take acceptance of that. We have great fans and we're building an audience the old way-steady shows and being true to form.



What are the positive benefits of being in the area?

There are a lot of great venues in this city, both in and around town as well as in the suburbs. And things are really close so even though different parts of the city are split up for our friends to make it to shows is easy. And we couldn't exist outside of my basement without them.

Is there a venue you have enjoyed playing more than others in the area?

Club Cafe has great sound, so does Diesel. A few of the promoters around Pittsburgh have taken some chances on us and we've gotten some good gigs. We have some exciting shows coming up that we really look forward to, including playing the Ribs on the River Festival in June. Who knows, maybe someone reading this will be there? Otherwise, look us up online at www.slingshotgenius.com and have a listen to some music.

**Pic courtesty of Jennifer Caple

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Show Preview - Interview - Yourself and the Air - Brillobox - 6/4/11 - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

Yourself and the Air will be performing this Saturday at the Brillobox. They are from the lower west side of Chicago. They have been creating music for over 6 years. YATA's previous 3 ep's were all self released ventures. However, their new album Who's Who in the Zoo was released on Lujo Records this spring. The album was recorded and produced by the band in one month's time at an abandoned house in Chicago. The band has been described as playing Midwest atmospherics with the sweeping sprawl of a skyward city built on electricity and steel". Band Lead Erick Crosby was kind enough to answer our questions ranging from their new album to how their van was broken into in Pittsburgh last time.

You all have had many band changes over your existence. With your latest album, Who’s Who in the Zoo?, how did the new lineup affect the album compared to previous?

For this one, our 2nd guitarist left the band, and Jeff, who plays keyboards came back into the band. I think that mellowed out the sound a bit, and brought a little more color to the songs.



This is your first release on a label. Why the change? How has the experience been?

We were always looking for help from a label, we just finally got it now. The experience has been nothing but great, its good to have a group of people to work with.

Was there any differences in recording the new album?

Yes. we recorded this on ourselves on a multitrack unit, no pro tools or anything. my parents were moving and we set up in their abandoned house, and played around for a month until we got these recordings..it was a great experience now that i think of it.

You get compared many of the indie bands popular in the late 90’s early 00’s (Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, etc). Do you feel this is accurate?

I think so. We were all pretty big fans of that music and those bands, so i guess its just natural for that to come out in our own music.

How do you go about creating your music? Do you all contribute to the lyrics and music?

Well its all kind of hit or miss. One of us will bring in an idea, and we'll all try to jam it and a lot of the time it just won't feel right or something..but when it does click, its really exciting and we'll work on it that day and i'll just fill in some vocals and write the lyrics later.

What would you like to accomplish as a band? What are the goals?

Pretty much to just keep travelling around, it would be so great to jump over seas at some point here. Also were looking forward to having a vinyl in the future, and really to keep doing this as long as we can.

What made you want to dedicate your life to music? Was there a show or album that made you want to get into the punk scene?

haha. im unsure, i don't think we decided. it just kinda happened, its great when you think about it...driving around with your friends, meeting new friends all over, making sounds and writing songs all day, its just a great time to spend your youth in. i can see myself finding something else to do later on, but for now, this is where its at.

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

Dont break into my van again!