6/30/2005

Brian Jonestown Massacre Interview



Blast from the PAST 2000
This interview was done in the last part of 2000. But now Anton Newcombe and BJM are as vital as ever. Even Iggy Pop and Patti Smith have become fans. Check out Anton in action. His wit is alive as ever. BJM will be touring in America starting July 15th.



Still Strung Out in Heaven
by Alexander Laurence

One of the best shows at the recent CMJ Festival in NYC was Brian Jonestown Massacre. Many people witnessed this amazing show. We agreed that we had to get an interview for the next issue.

BJM formed in San Francisco about ten years ago. I saw Anton Newcombe and his friends play a few shows at some small clubs and obscure bars. A few years later I found out that they had moved to LA and had released a bunch of records. When the breakthrough Strung Out in Heaven came out about two years ago, BJM turned the sound of the Stones circa 1968 upside down by adding a unique style of drone. Anton Newcombe has always been a mysterious figure. He is articulate and well spoken in interviews and seems to have an opinion on every subject. I met up with him in Hollywood, right after he finished a few shows with The Dandy Warhols. BJM had just completed a tour of Canada as well. They have a new CD out called ZERO.

*****

AL: Are you still on tour?

Anton: We just finished a tour of Canada. We played some shows in America too. The last leg of the tour in Canada, right after CMJ, was really good. Extraordinarily good I think.

AL: You have a big fan base in Canada?

Anton: We have a really strong following. We did two days in Toronto. We have a solid base of loyal fans up there. It's cool. There are a lot of people there into different types of music. The laws in Canada are different than in America. They are required to play Canadian content on television and radio. At least twenty percent has to be from Canada. So that forces younger bands to do different types of music to be out there. It's really healthy. We have a record deal up there.

AL: So what is up with all the different labels? You have your own label, you have put records out yourself, and you are on Bomp Records and TVT.

Anton: I just put out an EP on my own label. It's called Zero. It's on my label through Bomp. I use them as the manufacturer. So I have all these distributors. It's not that crazy if you think about it. Madonna has her own label, but is distributed by Warner Brothers. In England, we have an office for all the things that go through Bomp. So we'll do that there. I'll do other things with other little labels. I don't have a jumbo deal in Europe although I'm working on it.

AL: But you released Strung Out on Heaven with TVT. Was that a one record deal?

Anton: I signed a four record deal with TVT in America. It's kind of up in the air whether I'm going to follow through with that, because the kind of music we play and the kind of record deal that we have. I am a risk for them. So is Guides by Voices and bands like them. We're not doing great like Sevendust. We're not going platinum. That's what that label is trying to do. It's a business just like everything else. They just signed Snoop Dogg. They didn't do it because he's cool. They did it because all the wiggers are really into it.

AL: Yeah. I'm really against all the wigger stuff. I was really into the music. I saw Run-DMC and Grandmaster Flash play back in 1984. I was into NWA and Public Enemy. But I never wore the baggy pants or smoked a ton of pot and acted black. I'm not flashing gang signs.

Anton: What's really funny is all the Vanilla Ice looking people with the FUBU. They're all "Shit, yo! Don't make me bust a cap on your ass!" I'm intrigued by it. Of course there's a history to that stuff, like whether you're a Jewish kid in the 1940s listening to Bebop. There's no problem being into stuff. I listen to Arabic music all day long. There's that lower common denominator. It's silliness. You have all these DMX dudes with their pit bulls and their gunfight videos. Sweating the bitches. All that crap. You see a couple of them fighting at the Source Awards. But those people are businessmen. It's a joke to them too.

AL: So your band started in San Francisco, about 1990. Matt Hollywood, Jeffery Davies, Joel Gion, and yourself were there from the beginning?

Anton: Yeah. Matt and Jeff both played at the first show we ever played. I guess Matt is living in Portland. He is playing Country music. He's doing his thing. Jeff Davies plays with us off and on. He played with us the other night.

Jeff has another band called Smallstone. Joel was down here when we played with The Dandy Warhols. As far as line up changes: different people have different goals in their lives. It's not everyone's goal to be stuck in a van touring. Roughing it to make records. I always chose to make records and play with my friends rather than "I want to be a rock star" sort of people. I always play with different people.


AL: But most bands come out with a record and they tour with the songs on that record and promote the current material. You come out with six records in one year and tour whenever. It doesn't seem to to follow any logic.

Anton: We play all kinds of stuff. Almost half of our set is stuff we have never even bothered to record. I like it. It's live music that goes together with the other songs. We tend to play a little bit from everything because we have released 170 songs so far. I'm not exaggerating. Even fifteen of those songs is a long set.

We're in Pink Floyd land or something. Basically we try to make up a good set. The way we sound live, if we play our songs right, is better than we can ever record it. It has its own experience. It's good that we play well. It's usually better than the recorded experience. That's a neat thing. We don't even have to play the songs on the record. It's just good live music. That wall of guitars. I like it.

AL: How many chords do you need for a proper BJM song?

Anton: Everything is in A. It's almost exactly the same. When we go on tour we always find out that we have crazy amount of dynamic range. We just played with The Dandy Warhols a few nights ago. We fucked up a lot. But the amount of range we cover is very large. While they come off as ACDC on Thorazine. It's just straight on. There's no place for it to go. But we brake into quiet parts and we have the same overload. It changes up. It's good. For how simple it is surprisingly it also goes into a couple of different places.

AL: You played on the new Dandy Warhols record. What was that like?

Anton: It was great. We were at my studio in LA and we all just worked on songs. It was funny. I have known those guys since they started. I always loved their music. It was strange because when I was working on the record, I was sure that it was cheesy, and I wouldn't like it. But when I heard the whole album, I thought it was better. There are a few songs that I don't like, but the rest of it is great. I have mixed feelings.

I don't listen to Radiohead because I don't need them. I am already writing my own music that fulfills the same headspace that you would look for in that kind of art. I'm not too interested. Then I have to compare it to everything else that is out there. Of course I dig Radiohead more than Slipknot.

AL: Would you go on tour with some mainstream act if they asked you to open up for them?

Anton: You can respect people because they create a bunch of jobs. But I don't respect people just because they make a lot of money. So do drug pushers, gun dealers, hookers, and pimps: they all make a lot of money. The Mafia makes a lot of money. People who sell kiddy porn make a lot of money. I don't have to respect them just because they have the sales. I respect people who are worthy of my respect.

Kid Rock mixes up genres and he's funny. I respect the fact that Kid Rock worked his way up from the trailer park or whatever. But I don't respect Eminem for cursing a lot about the way he says he's going to beat up fags and his wife. It doesn't mean anything to me. It's completely retarded. I just pretend that everyone is speaking Chinese.

Eminen's records are never as appealing as Dr. Dre's, even though Dre produces all his shit.

I just wipe my ass with most urban contemporary culture. I think it's elementary. It doesn't move my brain whatsoever. If someone asked me to go on tour with Korn, Outkast, and Limp Biscuit, I wouldn't go. I wouldn't have a good time. But in a situation like Reading, or a European festival, sure I would play with those bands. For me it's about the music. Less about knowing how to do Kung Fu and beating the shit out of someone on MTV. Obviously I don't make a lot of money. I don't have strippers lined up around the corner waiting to give me blowjobs because of my music. I have been doing it since 1990 because I like music despite lineup changes and bad press.

AL: What about Genesis P-Orridge? Is he an influence or did you collaborate with him?

Anton: He loaned me his studios in Oakland, and I did one of the records there. Larry Thrasher and Genesis had a recording studio and all this recording gear for Psychic TV. They liked my music and helped me record and gave me studio time. I really do like to collaborate. I am working with a guy from Australia right now. He has a band called Color Sound. I have been trying to record with a few different people. It's just logistics.

AL: What are you doing for the rest of the year?

Anton: We plan to go to Europe and to Japan again. I'm working on my ninth album. I'm going to finish that then try to license them all over in Europe. I will probably spend more time over there. People like it but it's harder to get the records. Right now I'm writing some rock stuff and psychedelic things. There's not too much acoustic stuff. Right now I'm really working on harmonies. I really into The Mamas and The Papas and The Hollies....

AL: Do you like The Beach Boys Pet Sounds? It seems to be a major influence to a lot of bands today.

Anton: Oh yeah. They had a whole orchestra playing on Pet Sounds. I went to see Brian Wilson in concert. It was amazing. Even though Brian Wilson couldn't sing so hot, it was still great. You want to cut him some slack.

It was the Hollywood Bowl and it was five bucks to get in. You can bring booze and sit and listen to your favorite records. That was one of the best concerts I've seen in a long time. That and Primal Scream in LA. It was great.

Primal Scream is really popular in Europe. I know those guys and they're really cool. It's amazing that their record was really house-y, like DJs produced it, but when they played live, they came off like every great band in their peak. One song sounded like PIL at their greatest time, the next song was like New Order, blazing with a different attitude. It was amazing. I had seen them before when they had all the black chicks onstage and I was bored out of my head. It was a soul revue. What the fuck? They were going through a bad phase.


AL: Are there any books that you are reading worth mentioning?

Anton: You know what I'm reading? It's from Cambridge Press. It's about how Islam is separated into Shiite and Sunnis. It's a mystical sect of Islam. It's an academic book and it's over fourteen hundred pages. The old man of the mountain. It's crazy stuff and it influences me. I'm not into fiction. I like history and anthropology, mind control and cults. I'm not into serial killers but I am into the origins of stuff like Scientology. I find it fascinating.

AL: Any thoughts on the presidential election?

Anton: It's suspicious. There's no doubt in my mind that there's some hanky panky going on down there. The way that they are behaving is really hypocritical. On the BBC they reported that a few ballot boxes were found in black churches. Nobody came to pick them up. It's amazing that people are not outraged over it. Even people who voted for Gore are already wanting it to be over. Even though by the law they have to count those votes. It's going to take some time. They start making fun of it. Then they watch it on the news. Everybody wants to get it over with. It's weird. It's a process. That's what happens when you have a close election. It's never happened before.

AL: Do you follow the Brian Jonestown Massacre website and the mailing list?

Anton: I answer every single email I get. I'm right in the thick of that. We have a few websites that you can find on the Bomp website. There's links to everything. I think that it's great that people have opinions. People have their opinions about what they like and what they don't like. People have reasons why they believe things. In the 1980s there were little girls who made up their own words to songs by the Cocteau Twins, every when there wasn't any. People buy Japanese versions of The Smiths records and you read the lyrics and it's not even what the guy was saying. I'll let people settle things amongst themselves. Some people say "I think this new music is weak" and other people say "I love it!" Whatever. The e-group has about ten thousand messages. The stuff at the beginning is so out of control. But when I got on there, they started to shut up. But I don't really care what they think, as long as they think.

AL: How did you get involved with Bomp Records?

Anton: The way I got hooked up with Bomp was I got a hold of a Spaceman 3 record. I thought that they must have open minds because they were a junkie band that will never tour. And I thought that they would understand my music. And they did.

******







USA Tour 2005

JULY 2005
US dates w/Quarter After
15 * Bottom of the Hill * San Francisco CA *
16 * Old Ironsides * Sacramento CA *
18 * Velvet Room w/ The Warlocks * Salt Lake City UT *
19 * Larimer Lounge w/ The Warlocks * Denver CO *
20 * Larimer Lounge w/ The Warlocks * Denver CO *
22 * 400 Bar * Minneapolis MN *
23 * The Patio (Midwest Music Summit) * Indianapolis IN *
24 * Lollapalooza Festival * Chicago IL *&* Official Lollapalooza After Party - The Dark Room *
25 * Little Brothers * Columbus OH *
26 * Grog Shop * Cleveland OH *
27 * THE PHOENIX * Toronto ON *
28 * El Salon * Montreal QC *
29 * TT The Bears * Cambridge MA *
30 * Bowery Ballroom * New York NY *
31 * Bowery Ballroom * New York NY *
AUGUST 2005
2 * MAXWELLS * hoboken NJ *
3 * KHYBER * PHILADELPHIA PA *
4 * DC9 * Washington D.C. *
5 * Local 506 * Chapel Hill NC *
6 * Earl * Atlanta GA *
7 * Will's Pub * Orlando FL *
10 * TwiRoPa * New Orleans LA *
11 * Walter's On Washington * Houston TX *
12 * The Parish (formerly The Mercury) * Austin TX *
13 * TREES * Dallas TX *
15 * Launchpad * Albuquerque NM *
16 * Plush * Tucson AZ *
17 * Casbah * San Diego CA *
18 * Vanguard Theater * Los Angeles CA *

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6/23/2005

Annie Interview



ANNIE Interview
By alexander laurence


Annie is a 25-year-old blonde babe from Norway. She is from Bergen, Norway.
Her real name is Anna Lilia Berge Strand. She is already a classic pop star, in
the tradition of Madonna and Blondie. “Anniemal” is one of the most
anticipated records of the year. This record has already got a lot of notice in the
underground. People like Stereogum and Fluxblog have been raving about it for a
year. It’s been very popular in England and Sweden. Finally it has hit America
shores with a proper release in June 2005. It is amazing. Imagine a record
that sounds like early Madonna jamming with Saint Etienne. The first single
“Chewing Gun” draws inspiration from Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love.” Annie’s
knowledge of good music comes from the fact that she is also a DJ. It’s a
totally modern sounding record made to be a soundtrack for the summer.


This record has already caught the attention of bands like LCD Soundsystem
and Scissor Sisters. Maybe it was because of songs like “Always Too Late” which
is more like Detroit techno. The songs “Me Plus One” and “My Heartbeat” are
truly great. They are the sound of good times. They are like the summer of
1984 relived. There are no weak tracks on this whole album. “Helpless Fool For
Love” and “Anniemal” are more disco oriented. “No Easy Love” is the most like
Saint Etienne and their fascination for Northern Soul. Annie actually is
supporting Saint Etienne in England in June 2005.


On this record Annie has also collaborated with Richards X and Royksopp. She
also works with Timothy Kaukolampi, who she also tours with. The music started
five years ago with DJ Erot. They created “Greatest Hit,” Annie’s oldest
song here. It uses a sample from Madonna’s “C’mon Everybody” and funks it up.
The dancefloor disco of “Come Together” which is very much like Giorgio
Moroder follows this. It all ends with the slow jam of “My Best Friend.” This is a
very happy and up record. It’s about having good times and being chemical
induced by something. Very good indeed. I was excited to speak to her. She had ju
st arrived in Italy at a hotel. After a few calls to the concierge, I was able
to get through. At the same time, the results of the Michael Jackson trial
where coming down. Annie’s voice is really striking too.


Annie will be playing some shows in America, and in San Francisco and Los
Angeles, the first week of July 2005.

AL: How did you get involved in music then?
Annie: Um. I started to do music as Annie about five years ago. I was living
with my boyfriend at the time. I wasn’t working on music with him. Suddenly I
just decided to sing on one of his songs. I had a good idea and he had an idea
for this song.


AL: What did you do before that?
Annie: I used to play in a band. That was totally a different thing. We
weren’t very good. It was an indie rock band. Very bad indie rock. We only did one
show ever: the first and last. The band was called Suitcase.


AL: How was the reception to that show?
Annie: I don’t know. I was just 16 or 17 at the time. It was a contest. We
played in front of a jury. We didn’t make the finals. It was fun but it didn’t
go so well. The guitar broke during the song. It was really bad.


AL: The song “Greatest Hit” came out five years ago and now we have the
album. What were you doing during that time?
Annie: I was working on my own music. I was singing on other people’s
records. I was a DJ too. I was doing a lot of DJ gigs in England. I was DJing and
writing songs. I released another seven-inch single a year and a half after
“Greatest Hit.”




AL: What was that called?
Annie: It’s called “I Will Get On.” It’s not on the album. It was only
released in an edition of 500. It’s hard to get hold of.


AL: What sort of music do you play as a DJ?
Annie: It is pretty eclectic set. These days I play a lot of new things. I
like this artist called MU. It’s this weird electronic record. Maybe you heard
it?


AL: Yeah, it’s great. How does that go down in a club?
Annie: Sometimes it really works. You can see people really getting into it.
But sometimes people are going: “Shit, what is this madness?” I like that. I
like playing something that you don’t know how people are going to react to.
It’s fun not knowing how people will respond.


AL: Do you like Madonna?
Annie: Yeah, I was a big Madonna fan. I really, really liked her. I like her
old records.


AL: Your album really reminds me of that time, 1983 and 1984, when Madonna
came out with her first album. It was still sort of an underground dance record.
MTV and people didn’t really pick up on her until her second album.
Annie: Yeah, that’s cool.


AL: Many dance records that come out now have a certain style and that is
extended over eight or ten tracks. Your record seems like three or four different
styles?
Annie: Yeah, it is. People always ask me about my biggest inspiration. I
don’t really have one inspiration. I am inspired by so much different music. You
can hear that on the record. There is some Madonna and Tom Tom Club, but it is
so much more than that.


AL: On your song “Chewing Gum” there was a slight reference to “Genius of
Love” by Tom Tom Club. Was that deliberate?
Annie: I guess so. I am a big fan of Tom Tom Club. I was working with Richard
X and he likes them as well. We had that group on our minds when we were
doing that record. They are an amazing group.


AL: “Chewing Gum” has a real summery feel to it.
Annie: Yeah. It’s true. Tom Tom Club and Prince are some of my favorite
music.


AL: Then you have a lot of guitars on this album. You don’t expect that on
dance records. Was that inspired more by indie rock bands than dance music?
Annie: Yeah. I don’t think the record was inspired so much by indie rock.
That was more in my past. I like old dance records where they have guitar solos
and it sounds mad. I like that weird rock sound in dance music. Sometimes it
can be awful but sometimes it can be really good.


AL: Some of the bass guitar sounds on your record are like New Order or
Interpol.
Annie: Yeah.


AL: How do you write songs?
Annie: Some of the songs were written when I was seventeen years old. Some of
the songs were written along the way. For example, the song “Greatest Hit”
was written five years ago. I had an idea for the song “Come Together” when I
was seventeen. I wrote some of it but I never finished it. I finished it three
or four years after that. The songs have been taking shape over the years.


AL: How do you work with Royksopp or Richard X?
Annie: It is very different. I met Richard X a few years ago. He asked me to
do some songs on his album. I did one song with him. I was just talking on the
phone. I was reading a few lines on the track “Just Friends.” I met him a
few months after that and he played me the instrumental version of “Chewing
Gum.” He wrote the lyrics to “Chewing Gum” and “Me Plus One.” The rest of the
songs I wrote myself. It was a different way of working. I am used to doing
everything myself. For the other songs I had the lyrics and the melody and an idea
for the production before we started.


AL: Do you use computers?
Annie: I use Pro Tools and Logic.


AL: Are you into gadgets?
Annie: Not so much yet. But I hope I will be one day. I would love to produce
a whole album on my own. I would like to produce other artists.


AL: What songs did you produce on this album?
Annie: I didn’t produce the whole album by myself. But the songs “Helpless
Fool For Love” and “Happy Without You” I was very involved with the
production. The song “Anniemal” was another that I worked on.


AL: You are from Bergen, Norway. What is that city known for?
Annie: Um. It’s known to be the city with the most rain in all of Europe. It
rains about 300 days a year. I am not sure. It’s known for that. It’s a
fishing city. There is a lot of mountains and nature there. It’s madness.


AL: When you play live now do you play with a band or are you just being a DJ?
Annie: Actually I do both. I have been going on tour with a band. We have now
been doing a DJ live set. We have had five shows so far. We are in Italy now.
We DJ a little bit. Timo has with him a sampler and an echo machine. We
combine things: a DJ set and a live set. We are just beginning to do this. We are
still experimenting with it. It’s interesting and fun. But I love playing with
a band as well. It’s good to have the possibility of playing smaller clubs
with just the two of us and then doing bigger stuff with a live band.


AL: You are coming to America and touring for the first time in July 2005.
What are the sets going to be like?
Annie: It will be Timo and me. We are going to DJ a few records. We are going
to do a few songs live. It will be a combination.


AL: Do you have some new songs?
Annie: I do have some new songs. There will be a combination of the new songs
and the stuff on the album.


AL: Have you played with other bands before?
Annie: We haven’t yet. But we are going to England in a few days to play some
shows with Saint Etienne.


AL: Have you met them before?
Annie: When I was sixteen I met Bob Stanley from Saint Etienne. He was doing
a record label back then. We wanted to sign my band, Suitcase, back then. It
never happened. It will be funny to be playing with them and remind him that he
wanted to sign me so many years ago.


AL: What other bands do you like?
Annie: I like LCD Soundsystem. I think they are brilliant.


AL: What do you think of Mylo?
Annie: He is good. He did a remix of “Chewing Gum.” I like his album.


AL: The record is released in Europe yet?
Annie: It’s out only in Scandinavia and England. Now it’s out in the United
States. It will come out in the rest of Europe later in the summer.


AL: Are you going to play some festivals this summer?
Annie: Yeah, I am playing several festivals this summer. I think that I am
playing the V Festival. There are some of Germany and Norway.


AL: While I was waiting to get you on the phone I was watching the Michael
Jackson trail and he was found out to be “Not Guilty.” There is a lot of
excitement. Did you hear about that over there?


Annie: I just saw it on CNN. It’s quite strange.

AL: He looks sick.
Annie: He should get some help. He should go to a shrink.


AL: You don’t have any issues like that, do you?
Annie: Yeah, I like to have sex with small girls. I like girls under the age
of two months. No, I don’t. Not yet.


AL: You don’t have any eating disorders?
Annie: I don’t think so.


AL: Do you have any advice for people who want to do music?
Annie: The most important thing is to keep on doing music. You shouldn’t have
any plans. You should just do music and have a good time. You should try
different things and don’t be afraid to experiment. If a record label signs you,
don’t rush into it. Be careful. Maybe do your own label. Do everything
yourself. That is a good thing to do.


AL: Okay. Thanks.

Annie on tour July 2005:
Here are her selected tour dates for the In the Mix Annie tour featuring Timo
Kaukolampi, both on turntables and electronics, Annie on vocals.




June 28 NYC @ Hiro Ballroom
June 29 NYC @ Scenic
June 30 Chicago @ Sonotheque
July 1 San Francisco @ Mighty
July 2 L A @ TBC
July 3 LA @ Standard Downtown Rooftop - Sunday Funday
July 5 LA @ Cinespace


Website: www.anniemusic.co.uk
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6/20/2005

Junior Senior





Junior Senior have put out one of the most exciting records. They've got the look of a group of hipsters from Williamsburg or Silverlake, but they're from Denmark's western peninsula, known as Jutland. Junior Senior topped the UK charts with their smash debut single, "Move Your Feet." The song spent nine weeks in the top ten on the Official UK Singles Chart. The track is the first single from their debut album, "D-D-DON'T DON'T STOP THE BEAT," which just recently came out in America. Junior Senior have been on a ton of TV shows and have been playing sold out shows.

The band was formed in 1998 by Jesper Mortensen (Junior) and indie rock god, Jeppe Laursen (Senior). Blending pop, rock, Motown, new wave, and hiphop influences with dance beat, their sound is undeniably infectious and their live shows are a blast. I spoke to the band right after they had finished taping the Tom Green Show. They were refreshingly unpretentious and excited to talk about their music. They are playing at Spaceland on Tuesday June 21st, 2005.

****
AL: So, this record came out on Crunchy Frog records a while ago?
Jesper: Yeah. That's our label. In Europe we are licensed to Universal, and in Atlantic we are licensed to Atlantic. We are still signed to Crunchy Frog. They have the right to put out the record but we still have creative freedom.

AL: How long have you been playing together?
Jesper: When was 18, I joined Jeppe's band, or Senior's band. It was semi-famous in Denmark. It was indie music, not unlike Blur, Pulp, Stereolab. That kind of British thing was going on. Before that we were into Sonic Youth. That was our background. My own music interest started with Nirvana.

AL: Nirvana was like ground zero for you.
Jesper: Exactly. That was when I discovered that there was something else out there that is more interesting for a teenager. You want to have your own thing. That was where it all started for me.

AL: When did you join his band?
Jesper: I joined in 1995. I was thrown out a year later, but we remained friends. We started this band, Junior Senior, in 1998. We played for a few years. Our first record came out in Denmark in March 2002. Denmark is such a small country. The record did okay there. We were on a few TV shows.

AL: When did you record this record?
Jesper: It was in January of 2002.

AL: When you write a song together, do you start out with beats or guitar parts?
Jesper: When I was in the other band, Jeppe wrote all the lyrics, and I didn't get to write anything, because I just joined. Now we don't have any particular way of writing. Usually it starts with a guitar, or a cool chord progression, or a little melody in your head. When you have a melody, you try to find some chords to play with it. You can always have fun with making beats. Then you have some interesting sounds. Once you have the basic songs you try to build it up. I have a bunch of unfinished songs and unused beats. It's all assembly and finding bits and pieces.

AL: Do you record stuff live as a band, or is this record done in the studio in parts?
Jesper: The thing with the drum machines and the cymbal sounds: I have prepared all that. We had all the songs. We went in the studio and layered it. I don't play the drums very well, so I had two different guys playing the drums on different tracks. We had a drum machine and played over it and found a balance. We recorded some drum parts and looped them. Some of it sounds like a drum machine. We have always been into beats. We recorded it very fast.

AL: How did you do the song "Coconuts?"
Jesper: I wanted to do something with bongos. There are all these great percussion sounds that you hear when you are a kid, like shakers, cowbells, and bongos. You think that they funny. When you clap your hands it's very human. People think that those percussion sounds are strange. I just think that they are cool. I love all that stuff. I thought that the idea of "Coconuts" was so cool. You can shake them. I am not sure why.

AL: Did you like Punk Rock?
Jesper: Yeah. I listen to music…. I wouldn't call it serious, but I like the way the Talking Heads used percussion. I thought that was very interesting. They were really into percussion and black music. But when they had the bongos, they didn't have a bunch of other instruments going on at the same time. I am attracted to the simple stuff. I got bored with the British indie mentality. I thought about how did these bands get to sound like this. So I went back and listened to many of the records that they were into.

AL: Britpop music is sort of static.
Jesper: Yeah. When we were in that other band we released a record in 1995. At the time I was into Elastica and all these bands that always looked so cool. So when we went onstage we were always acting so cool. But backstage we were always goofing around and being stupid and laughing all the time. We learned our lesson. All this pretending and wannabe shit is so stupid. You should just do what is natural for yourself. For us that means being outgoing and try to have fun with what you do. This time around, I think the music reflects the people who we are. Hit play, and let's go.

AL: Do people ask you about what you wear?
Jeppe: It's something we don't think about: whether we are into America culture or not. We used to be in a British inspired band.
Jesper: The way we look I think is really funny. When I played this TV show, people asked me "What are you going to wear?" I am wearing a t-shirt that I have had for five years. I have always worn it and I have always liked it. Of course we think about the way that we look. We have been into the same stuff for a while.

AL: I just asked because you look like a lot of hipsters in America who shop at second stores and wear old t-shirts and baseball caps.
Jesper: Yeah. We have always been second hand nerds. Since the time I was into Nirvana, I didn't want to wear the same thing that the sports dudes wore, so I went to a second hand shop and got my clothes.
Jeppe: Maybe in general a lot of the stuff from America seems like the real thing. For us it is. In Europe, a lot of the clothes are a bad copy. It's weird when you come to America and it's the real thing. It sounds so stupid.
Jesper: We have a real romantic impression of the whole American culture. It's all the stuff we saw on TV. Oh yeah, it's authentic. In Europe, it always says "Authentic American Jeans." We thought, we want the real stuff. Not this Danish imitation. That was the stuff that your mother gave you.

AL: Was it easy to get amps and guitars over there?
Jesper: Of course it's easier to get it over here because it originates from here. You have Fender and Gibson. You have all the good stuff. They came from the US for some reason. You have so much music. The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Beatles all listened to American music to get their own sound. America is just a big part of culture everywhere.

AL: Is there a socialist government in Denmark where it affects the bands? Like when you are a kid you have a choice to go to school or form a band, or do art, and the government pays for it?
Jeppe: It's all based on the more you earn, the more tax you pay, but everyone pays a lot of tax. There are no poor people in Denmark.
Jesper: You pay at least 50% tax, and if you make a lot it's 70%. That is a lot compared to America.

AL: People here think it's a crime if you pay more than 25% tax. All these rich people find ways of not paying any taxes.
Jesper: That's hip. They are the clever guys who hire other clever guys so they don't pay taxes. They make money and they find ways.

AL: You still live in Denmark?
Jesper: We just moved to London two weeks ago. We grew up in the country and lived in Copenhagen for six years or more.

AL: Where are some of the hipster neighborhoods in Copenhagen?
Jeppe: It's very small.
Jesper: Copenhagen is a big city, but everything is in the middle. That is where we lived. Outside the city is a total suburbia. You are going to get stabbed or killed if you don't look like Eminem. There is all these white kids who think they are really tough. It's scary.

AL: Do you get hiphop fans coming to your shows?
Jesper: Not really. Our crowd is more alternative. People who are open minded like us. "Move Your Feet" has been on the radio, but it's strange, because it's been on all sorts of different radio stations. They play the song or alternative radio and Radio Disney. People who come to our shows are like us. They like all types of music.

AL: Do you think that people in America just like one thing: I like Death Metal and that's all I'll ever listen to.
Jesper: Yeah. Our audience is the one who think that they don't fit into a particular box. They are cool people like us. It's stupid to think that I can only listen to rock.
Jeppe: If you know our album you have to be pretty open minded. You have to just take it for what it is. Don't worry about whether it is this or that. You can go both ways with it. You can hear "Move Your Feet" and think that is too mainstream. In their heads they can turn it into Europop if they want to. It's funny to read reviews. They are always deciding where to put us.

AL: There are all these fanzines in the UK about how cool Interpol is.
Jeppe: It's pretty easy for Interpol to be cool and be credible. It's not anything bad about their music or anything. They way they are it's very easy to fit into a cool category. It's not very dangerous being Interpol.
Jesper: There's a place when you put yourself out there, in front of an audience, where it's dangerous and it's a shaky ground. When you are a rock and roll band, there are a bunch of rules to follow. If you follow these rules, then you are a fucking cool band. Like The Velvet Underground and The Ramones: they are so fucking cool, you are not going to go wrong with following those bands. I love them. But I think it is a bit interesting when you jump out of that. Where you are at that place where it is scary, like I am trying to tell a joke, and I don't know where it's going or if it is even funny. When you are in front of five hundred people like that, that is when it is dangerous. It's more fun and more challenging.

AL: Have you played a lot of shows in America?
Jesper: Over a dozen now. The first time we played in New York was last year. You could see people thinking "Is this cool?" Or "What the hell is this?" We won them over. There were people there who never heard of us who said "I like this."

AL: What is your setlist like?
Jesper: We play one cover song. But we have been playing the same set for a year now. It's sort of sad. But we have been going to new cities all the time. They haven't heard the songs yet. We are going to do some new songs soon. We haven't started writing the second record yet.

AL: Do you read a lot?
Jesper: Mostly rock biographies. I can't get that quiet time. I don't play video games anymore either. I carry a laptop with me. I play music and listen to music.
Jeppe: If we have any free time now, we go hang with our friends and relax.

AL: Did you go to school or University?
Jeppe: We were talking about the social security system in Denmark before. You get paid money if you go to school. We did that. We got money but never bothered showing up to classes.
Jesper: I spent a lot of that time looking for old records. I never find anything in America that I want to buy. I am looking for rare records and nobody seems to have them.

AL: When you got signed did you go buy some gear or some rare records?
Jesper: I went out and bought some new guitars. That was a great day. I never thought there would be that much money in my bank account.

AL: What movies do you like?
Jeppe: We have been watching all the John Waters movies. It's pretty obvious that we would like that stuff. Coal Miner's Daughter is great.
Jesper: I like films about music. I just saw one about Carole King and another about Ike and Tina Turner. Laurence Fishburne looked so cool when he had the Beatles haircut. Ike Turner is so mean. You almost take his side because he looks so damn cool. I like Woody Allen films.

AL: Jeppe, how does it feel to be the tallest guy in rock?
Jeppe: When I go to a show in London everyone comes to my shoulders. But in Denmark, there are a lot of tall people. If I grew up in America maybe I would have played basketball. I try to have a good time onstage. I try to interact with the audience, through the music, not through MC tricks.
Jesper: We just try to be ourselves. It sounds so boring. But we don't want to do anything we are not comfortable with. People might come to a show and see one small guy and one big guy and think it's a crazy comedy act. But we are just a band that is playing their music.

AL: Who did the video for "Move Your Feet?"
Jeppe: It's four guys from London called Shinola. We had to do the video very fast. We got a lot of treatments from directors that were really bad. We sent them a long description of who we were and what we like. They just ripped us off. They thought they would get to do the video if they just rehashed what we told them about ourselves. We contacted Shinola on our own. The stuff they had done was really different. They had just done a video by Radiohead.
Jesper: We told them that we wanted some graphic stuff. We said that we wanted the video to be something people hadn't really seen before. They sent us back a clip and we thought that was really cool. There have been other videos with computer games stuff. But what we liked about this one was it didn't have any specific computer games references. It had the color and movement. The squirrel eating everything was great. It was like its own movie.

AL: Have you done another video?
Jeppe: We have done another video for "Boy Meets Girl." We are really pleased with it. It is by the same guy who did the Hives "Main Offender" video. It is like graphics and video together.
*****

Website:
http://www.juniorsenior.com/


--
Alexander Laurence

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6/11/2005

Blonde Redhead

Blonde RedheadBy Alexander Laurence
Blonde Redhead with their unique sound and deadpan vocals have always been, for me, the quintessential New York band. Even though none of them are American. Early on they were compared to Sonic Youth. They have a cult following that is very intense. It all started innocently enough. The band met by chance at an Italian restaurant in New York: Japanese art student Kazu Makino (guitar/vocals) and Italian twin brothers Simone Pace (drums) and Amedeo Pace (guitar/vocals) found each other and formed the band in 1993.
The name Blonde Redhead was taken from a song by the 1980s no-wave band DNA. With Kazu Makino and Amedeo on guitars and vocals, Simone on drums. The band had a chaotic angular sound in the early days. The early albums reflect their interest in no-wave bands and the Dischord label. They grew out of that and turned to more melodic and European influences. Blonde Redhead was a fine band on a small label.
In 1997, their first great record, Fake Can Be Just as Good, was released. The next record, In an Expression of the Inexpressible, was not as distinct, but their fanbase grew nonetheless. A notable less noisy and accessible, Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons came out in 2000. They seemed more interested in song structure and melody. This record was their most successful.
Kazu Makino was thrown from a horse in 2002. She sustained serious injuries when it stepped on her, breaking her jaw. Understandably, the band took some time off and missed out on the New York music explosion of the past years. But they were a band that all these New York bands admired like Interpol and Secret Machines. Blonde Redhead signed to a bigger label (4AD) this year. Their new album Misery Is a Butterfly, was released in late March 2004. I spoke to the members of the band at the beginning of their first big American tour in a few years.
****

AL: When did you record the new album?
Simone: We recorded it at the beginning of 2003. It took a few months. We worked with Guy Picciotto. This was the third record we did with him.

AL: Most of this album is live takes. You went back and did some overdubs?
Simone: Yeah. Every song is different. Some songs we will go in and do it all together. Some songs will be drums first. Maybe I will play with one of them or both. We will put down some sort of track. We want to make sure that the drums are good. We want it to flow nicely. We will then work on it and add things.
AL: How do you write songs? Is there a lot of jamming?
Simone: There is some jamming. Not a lot. We work together on all the songs. First we will bring in the harmonic ideas. Then we will take things from there. We will bring in records. We will bring in old tapes that we have recorded before. We will bring in some old ideas. It is a constant changing of one idea. We develop the sound. We record everything we do and play it back.
AL: There is a lot of listening involved?
Simone: Yeah, a lot of listening. There is a lot of deleting. We will keep little things. We will develop those little ideas over time.
AL: Does Kazu and Amedeo write the lyrics that they sing?
Simone: Yes, exactly.
AL: There was a lot of time between this album and the previous one. Did you have more time to work on the songs?
Simone: We did take a little bit longer this time. We did have some problems. That delayed us a little bit. When it was time to record, Guy couldn't come because his mother passed away. Kazu got really hurt. That gave us more time even though the things that were happening were sad. That extended our time to develop the songs. It was a blessing in disguise because we were coming up with ideas for songs that were more finished and complete by the time we got into the studio. We wanted to record before. We weren't ready.
AL: Last year you played some shows in California. Did you play new songs?
Simone: We played two new songs then.
AL: You played at MOCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art. It was a street festival and you played at three in the afternoon.
Simone: It was nice to be invited to play that. The Director of the museum took us around and showed us what was going on there. It was great. I like playing museums. We also played at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Both times it was inspiring because you look at art and then you go play a show.
AL: The song "Magic Mountain" on the new album: is that based on the Thomas Mann novel?
Simone: Yeah.
AL: That is a long novel. Shouldn't you have done a twelve-minute song?
Simone: I don't know. You should ask Kazu.
AL: The last album came out and you toured for a long time. Are you going to write new songs any time soon?
Simone: We just started this tour. We are going to play for most of this year. Maybe later this fall we will write some songs and go back into the studio. You never know.
AL: Since the release of your last album and this new one, there are several New York bands like Interpol, The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and The Rapture. What do you think of all these bands coming from New York, many of them influenced by Blonde Redhead?
Simone: It's good to see a lot of good music coming from New York. Because that was always not the case. Because New York is New York, maybe it's the best place to write music and it has the best bands, but it is not like that. To me it is refreshing to like some of the music that is going on there now. I was listening to Interpol today. It's very good.
AL: You were on some indie labels for many years. Now you are on 4AD. Why the change?
Simone: We wanted to do things differently this time. We wanted to license our record. We couldn't do that with all labels. Some labels don't want to do that. 4AD was one of the labels that was interested in giving us that opportunity. We wanted to do a whole new adventure. There were many people interested. It wasn't so long ago. We just decided to do this six months ago. We recorded the album on our own. We didn't have any label. We paid for it ourselves. We said let's do it the way we want and see if anyone is interested in releasing it.
AL: Do you like any new bands?
Simone: We are doing this tour with Secret Machines. I haven't heard them yet. My brother Amedeo really likes them.
AL: Do you listen to a lot of music?
Simone: I do listen to music. Probably not the kind of music you think I listen to. I listen to Classical music, French music, and Italian music. I listen to rock music.
AL: A few years ago you did the Serge Gainsbourg song. Your records sound more like French music than most American pop music.
Simone: Yeah.
AL: Do you read a lot?
Simone: I just got a new Italian book from my brother.
AL: I like Pasolini.
Simone: I have read a few things by Pasolini.
AL: The music of Blonde Redhead reminds me of dreams and watching films. Are there any films that you like?
Simone: I like the films of Antonioni. I love his films. I love the pace of the films. They take their time. I love repetition in music. Sometimes I like to stay with one idea. It's like you become paralyzed by it. I like movies like that.
AL: When people come to see you play this year what should they expect?
Simone: We are going to play some new songs. It's hard because now the album isn't out yet. Most people haven't heard it unless they downloaded from the internet. So for the first part of this tour we are playing songs that people don't know yet.
AL: The record comes out on March 23rd, 2004.
Simone: We are going to play seven or eight songs from the new album. The rest will be a mix from the other albums. We are going to stick it out though.
AL: Is there a secret Beatles influence on the last few albums?
Simone: A little bit. I think we pulled out those records and listened to them. I think it had more to do with the last album than this album. This album has more to do with French stuff and English stuff, like The Cure. We were listening to some Icelandic stuff. We were listening a lot to the Rolling Stones.


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6/07/2005

The Dandy Warhols

The Dandy Warhols
by Alexander Laurence

Formed in Portland, OR, during 1994, the Dandy Warhols consist of members Courtney Taylor (vocals, guitar), Zia McCabe (keyboards), Peter Holmstrom (guitar), and Brent DeBoer (drums). They signed on with the independent label Tim/Kerr shortly after their formation. 1995 saw the release of the quartet's debut release, Dandy's Rule OK? While other rock bands may be a bit hesitant to spell out their influences, the Dandy Warhols decided to openly advertise it with songs like "Lou Weed" and "Ride."

Capitol Records soon signed the group, but rejected a second album (it didn't have any "hits"). Disappointed, the group reunited and came up with Dandy Warhols Come Down, issued in 1997. While the album didn't exactly establish the group as a household name, it did prove to be an underground favorite. I remember hanging out with writer, Blake Nelson, in Astor Place, and I watched him get excited, as the Dandy Warhols walked by us at The Starbucks. Of course, he is from Portland too.

The third album, Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia, created a larger international audience. Their music was included in a few commercials. The group played many festivals. Their fourth album is Welcome To The Monkey House, named after the Kurt Vonnegut book. It displays a new electronic sound. Recently they were on Conan O'Brien where they played "We Used To Be Friends." In September 2003, the Dandy Warhols are doing an American tour. After that, they are supporting David Bowie in Europe for two months.

The Dandy Warhols are also featured in the film, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, which will came in early 2004. The new album was self-produced, with contributions with Nick Rhodes and Tony Visconti. That led to collaborations with Simon Le Bon, Nile Rodgers and Evan Dando. I spoke to drummer Brent DeBoer, right before some LA shows, including headlining one at the Sunset Junction. In 2005, they are planning to release a new album.


AL: Right now you have just finished this small acoustic tour of dance clubs. How did that go?

Brent: It was pretty fun so far. We have done three or four. They want us to play acoustic. They always say, "We'll have guitars there. If you want to play that is cool." Then we get there and they introduce us to the lighting director and the sound guy. There's a stage with two stools and two guitars and microphones. Everyone is already facing that direction. They were arranged to be record listening parties but some of them ended up being big concerts. We don't really play acoustic guitars.

AL: You haven't played here for a while. Some young people have never seen you play before. So there's some excitement about seeing the Dandy Warhols play again.

Brent: Yeah. It's kind of hit or miss. But the acoustic unplugged thing is not really our focus. They aren't really seeing our live show. It was fun last night. We had the whole audience singing along. It was fun.

AL: You and Courtney were playing guitars and singing together. What is the setlist like?

Brent: Beatles and Dandy Warhols and Kristin Hersh. Whatever. We take requests from the audience. We try to get everyone to sing, "It's a Hard Day's Night."

AL: Peter and Zia don't play you on these shows. It's it odd that Peter is not playing some of these shows?

Brent: Not really. You don't really need three guitars on most of those songs. Some of them we only play one guitar. Both Courtney and I sing, and Pete doesn't sing. Also I don't think that Pete is interested in learning all those chords from all those old songs from the 1960s. Not as much as Courtney and I are. Last night we tried to get Pete to come up and play "Mohammed" with Courtney. He wasn't into it. Pete and Zia are hanging out with us. We have a couple beers. We play a few songs.

AL: You also played songs by Anton Newcombe of Brian Jonestown Massacre?

Brent: Yeah. Anton Newcombe has always been nice to me. He's nice to all of us. Once in a while you read or hear him saying some nasty stuff. I think that it's an attention getting device. I don't think he would do anything to mess with us, and if he did, I think he would be in a lot of trouble.

AL: When you went to New York to do the Conan O'Brien show; that is when the blackout hit. Did you sleep in the NBC studios?

Brent: We didn't do any sleeping. We stayed late there. We had our passes. All the lights were out. The air conditioning was off. All of our rooms were ovens. It was scary when the lights went out at the beginning. The streets were too crowded. People were crying. Then it turned into a snow day. People had barbeques going in the middle of the street. That's how it was all over New York, so everyone was out on the streets. We were walking around for a while with these lamps on our foreheads. We bought them on the street. We were having a good time with the whole city. The show got cancelled on Thursday and Rockefeller Center was evacuated. We felt lame sitting in our rooms, we ventured out. We remembered that we had our passes for NBC. They had all their generators on and their power was on first. They needed them for all the newsrooms. We went back in there and it was lovely. We went back in our dressing rooms and we had a half bottle of tequila. We hung out there until 3:30 in the morning, till security kicked us out. By this time we were running around in the lobby. We went to this bar that was owned Clonan O'Brien. It was a coincidence. We went down in the basement with ten people. We played with these plastic guitars and our headlamps all night. The batteries ran out eventually. It was one of the best and fun nights I have ever had. We were happy to be part of that.

AL: When did you record the new album?

Brent: We started recording in Portland on September 10th, 2001. We had just got the keys to our new building and got everything squared away. We had plans to meet on the 11th around noon. We were starting to plug in gear and start decorating. We knew that we were going to be in there for months. People were on the phone, saying, "Have you checked out the TV? This is really messed up." We went down and turned on the radio and started freaking out about the situation in New York City. That was the first day. We started knocking down walls. We set it up for a few weeks. Then we started recording. We got our friend, Brian Coates, in there. He has really good ears and is the best at music. The five of us were in there for months, from track to track to track, till it was almost done. We had the engineer from the Smashing Pumpkins to help us sift through tracks and be like a cleanup crew. We did some rough mixes and got it to where we wanted it to sound. We were loving it. We also worked with Nick Rhodes in London for a few weeks to polish it up. Only a few songs truly felt finished and the rest were not quite done. When you get Nick in the studio, you get someone who has worked in the studio for over twenty years. You get some fresh ears and a really smart guy. Nick is a cool guy. It makes for a relaxed and easy time.

AL: What do you think that Nick Rhodes brings to the record?

Brent: The record was almost completely done. We didn't know exactly what was going to happen when we headed over to London. We just wanted to hear some ideas. What do you think about this or that? Nick is very good for that. He's really honest and it's impossible to hurt his feelings. He was doing the new Duran Duran record across the hall. So he was jumping back and forth.

AL: How did Tony Visconti become involved?

Brent: Courtney and I had already gone and recorded Neil Young's "Ohio" for this movie. It was a one-day thing. It was really good. It was everything you would hope it would be when you got to meet him. We had this one song with a T-Rex vibe. So we thought we would go all the way and try to get Tony Visconti to work with us again. He was into it. We were at Bowie's studio in New York and Tony stopped by. We hung out. We were tracking the drums. Courtney said to him, "The song needs those T-Rex Ooo Yeans." That high falsettos. Tony said, "Well, I sang all those." So we were all "Get in there, man." So that why it sounds just like T-Rex. Because it is the guy who sang on those records.

AL: You actually played a band in this new movie called Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen? What was that like?

Brent: It was great. We were two days in Toronto. It was one big room. It was set up to look like a rockstar party. It was a Disney movie. These young girls get invited after a concert to go to the singer's party where he has the Dandy Warhols play. They had all these rocker look-alikes there. There are all these supermodels. Then you go, "Oh there's Lenny Kravitz, and there's Avril Lavigne." These girls sneak out of their house to go to the party and we play at the party. We mimed a song about twenty times and they said great. One day we were in the background and the second day we were closer up. I am not sure how it's going to turn out. It stars the girl from Freaky Friday.

AL: What is the Odditorium like?

Brent: We wanted our own studio. That's the dream: to have your own studio. We found a location for it. We shot a video in it. Usually they spend all this money for a set and tear it down the next day. We have a pretty good production company in Portland. We had our friends build the set. Shot the video for "We Used To Be Friends" and the set stayed. We have three decorated rooms. Now it's a photo studio, a kitchen, and a dining room. There's a rehearsal space and a recording space. We put a deck on the roof. It's a great place to have all our scumbag friends over and sit around and watch movies and drink beers.

AL: When did you have the idea to do this new record? You didn't want to do the same guitar oriented record, right?

Brent: Yeah. When we came out with Thirteen Tales, when we came out with that, we went around the world, and you would not hear a guitar on a record. You wouldn't hear any rock records on the radio. You might hear a Travis song, maybe. Mostly it was the Backside Boys, or whatever. We would go to parties and they would play Sticky Fingers and songs by Neil Young. Now there are bands like White Stripes and BRMC. We wanted to challenge ourselves to not just make another lo-fi wall of guitars record that is "cool." Now that is cool to do that. We wanted to see if we could make something that we really dig, that you could stick your head inside of, and had the sound of an Outkast record, but our songs. It's just us: me and Zia, Pete, Courtney, and Coates. They we are going for it. At one point we just reduced it down to bass and drums and Courtney's voice. It was a straight up dub record. We then started to texturize that sound with guitars and blippy keyboard sounds. It was really a lot of fun.

AL: Even though you draw on New Wave music more, "Hit Rock Bottom" goes back further to Glam Rock sounds.

Brent: Yeah. Each song is its own little puzzle that you have to work out. That song wanted to be that. It needed that trip going on. But "Burned" had no choice. It had to be what it is. The song dictates itself and how it's done.

AL: How do you do songwriting in the band? Courtney worked with Evan Dando on one song.

Brent: Courtney was in New York. He had some lyrics he wanted to work on. Someone told him to call up Evan Dando. So they got some beers and sat around. They hashed it out. Evan Dando came up with a few lines in the song. He's a great lyricist. That is not how Courtney works usually. Generally it's more like, poof, suddenly there's a song in front of him. He doesn't really finish them. He's not a craftsman like Paul Simon, with a pen behind his ear and scratching his head. The songs just show up. Sometimes when you are at the end of a song you haven't finished all the words. You can't think of any words that fit in.

AL: How are you going to bring these songs to the stage?

Brent: We have already played thirty shows in Western Europe. We played a handful of shows in Australia. It's been amazing. It's been incredible. The songs play themselves. Most of the songs are three or four chords. We are just singing and playing them. Only a few sound exactly like the record like "Burned." We have been playing together for a long time. If we don't get it together for the first hour, we usually get it together for the last half.

AL: Are you looking forward to the tour with David Bowie?

Brent: Yeah. It's going to be in October and November. It will be like a vacation. We are going on early. We are going to be playing for only an hour. We have to adapt to that. An hour into our set is when the gig starts for us. We are either going to have to play one song or the greatest hits of The Dandy Warhols. Most of the shows are every other day, so that is going to be like a real vacation for us. We are used to playing five or six nights a week.

AL: What is a regular set like?

Brent: We don't exactly know. We usually play the same few songs. Before that we usually jam for a while and get it sounding lovely. The room always changes when people show up. You have to screw around for a while. I love how it is at the beginning of a show. After the first few songs, anything can happen. We try to play every song we know. That's about three hours. We try to make it one thing, a lovely trip of fuzz, drone and hypnosis.

AL: You will play a lot of the new album?

Brent: Maybe five or six songs. We haven't played "Hit Rock Bottom" or the first song. We will play a song for a year and then it sounds contrived or silly. It gets dumb. We will quit playing it till it resurfaces. Somebody in the audience yells for a song. We don't know exactly what we are going to play. We get backstage at the end of the of show. We realize that we forgot to play a song. We don't have a setlist. We just have a list of all of our songs. We just jump around.

AL: If people want to hear a certain song they should get up close to the front and yell it out?

Brent: Hell yeah!

AL: Do you have any hobbies?

Brent: I like shifter cart racing. It's a high performance cart racing. I like skiing.

AL: Have you read any books lately?

Brent: Yeah. Reefer Madness. That is a great book. I am only halfway through it but what a trip, man? Makes me want to move to Toronto. The political system is so backwards in America. It's so weird and repressed. The prohibition of drugs is a new experiment. It will take about thirty years for people to look back on this experiment as a waste of time and money and lives. It's over nothing: it's just a plant. It's no more damaging than legal drugs or what you can get in a bar. More advanced societies in the world have done away with bothering people about weed.

AL: Have you seen any movies?

Brent: I just saw Seabiscuit. It could have been forty minutes longer. It would have been easier and dreamier. It seemed rushed. I liked it. It was cinematic. The best movie ever is Hannah and Her Sisters. Courtney and I watched it the other day. Everybody, you and me, is every one of those characters in that movie. You are just watching yourself. It is embarrassing but it's just so fun to watch.

AL: What is hardest thing about being in the band?

Brent: Just getting sleep. You just end up not sleeping very much on tour. It's so fun meeting people. I just want to stay up all the time.

AL: Do you have any advice for people who want to start a band?

Brent: Musically I could talk forever. I would say, don't invite people into your world, your band, and your life, that you have a notion of not trusting them. Don't let them be your bass player or your manager. Do everything yourself. You can always trust yourself. If you can really trust someone, that's good. Invite them into your gang. If they mess with you, let them go. They are going to create a lot of heartache later. Don't just dream big dreams, plan big plans. Have a plan and stick with it.

AL: Are there any other bands that you like?

Brent: I like Dr. Dre and Johnny Cash. My favorite band in the whole world is Brian Jonestown Massacre. I was listening to The Byrds the other day.

AL


--Alexander Laurence


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6/04/2005

Charlotte Martin




Charlotte Martin Interview
By alexander laurence
(I did this interview last summer but the editor of the magazine didn't think
it was hip enough. Everyone is a snob and trapped in a cage. Your indie uniform
does not impress me. So I did this interview and it never saw the light of day,
so I decided to ressurect it it here)

Charlotte Martin is from Charleston, Illinois, and now lives in Los Angeles.
She is more like Kate Bush or Fiona Apple, than Franz
Ferdinand. I heard her CD this summer and it definitely stood out from the
pack. Charlotte has a distinct voice and provocative lyrics. She is also very
good looking. That was cool because I get tired of hanging out with sweaty guys
from England.

The 27-year-old Charlotte Martin moved to Los Angeles a while ago to begin
her career. Martin recorded an album with producer Tom Rothrock. Due to label
politics the album never came out and Charlotte waited till the time was right
for her music. She spent hours working on new material and creating a studio.
After a year of live show, she started to build an audience. In 2003, she
released an EP called Parentheses. More people started to notice. Her song "Bring
On the Day" was included on the Sweet Home Alabama soundtrack.

She toured earlier this year with Sondre Lerche and Damien Rice. I caught her
on the Maybelline sponsored “Chicks With Attitude” tour, where Charlotte
played with Liz Phair, The Cardigans, and Katy Rose. Charlotte definitely stood
out among her peers and some fans showed up early just to hear her play. Her
first album On Your Shore came out this past August. She will be playing again
across America in October 2004. I got to talk to her on her tour. Katy Rose
interrupted us a few times who was trying to sleep or something.

******

AL: It’s the end of the tour?

Charlotte: I think we are family. I am getting depressed. There is still two
weeks left. It’s ridiculous. I wish it would continue for two more months. I
love sharing a bus with these people.

AL: You are not an organized person?

Charlotte: Right before I go onstage I get a little flustered. That is why I
have a glass of wine. I have been playing first. I play by myself. Katy Rose
plays after me. She is like punk rock music. It’s cool.

AL: Who are you sharing the bus with then?

Charlotte: Katy Rose and her band. I have my manager. There are two people
with me. Katy has six people with her. There are two Maybelline people.

AL: It’s good that you are first because you can just go on without a sound
check.

Charlotte: I do need a sound check. I am into certain delays and reverbs. I
am particular about what I like. I don’t know if you have heard bad sounding
keyboards and vocals, but it is very possible. It’s a fine art to make the
vocals sound good. It takes about fifteen minutes.

AL: What were the other tours like?

Charlotte: I played with Sondre Lerche. The other tours were all men. It’s
cool to have girls on the tour. I like playing with girls.

AL: Did Sondre Lerche hit on you?

Charlotte: No. He didn’t really hit on me at all. I don’t know what the deal
is. He didn’t really hit on anyone. He is focused on the music.

AL: Who else have you played with?

Charlotte: I played with Five For Fighting, Damien Rice, and Howie Day. I
played with Psychedelic Furs as well.

AL: Since you are in LA do they throw you on a bill at the last minute?

Charlotte: I get to be on the actual tours. I haven’t really been hanging out
in LA. I have been on tour for about a year now. I have my house in LA. I
have my dogs there. I have my boyfriend there.

AL: What is Charleston, Illinois like?

Charlotte: It’s in the southern part of Illinois. It’s boring.

AL: When did you figure that out?

Charlotte: When I was five. People who grow up in small towns usually have
really interesting imagination because they have to figure out things to
entertain themselves.

AL: You didn’t have the internet back then?

Charlotte: No. We didn’t really have the internet until a few years ago. I
read a lot. I still read a lot. I am over the online thing. I don’t go on unless
I have to. I don’t read the messageboards. I don’t want to know if someone
is pissed off at a show or they are being critical. They have a right to be
critical but I don’t have to know about it. I have a few friends who will bring so
mething to my attention if it is necessary. We have a monitor if someone is
being rude for no apparent reason. I like people to have free speech.

AL: Have you read any good books?

Charlotte: I am reading Battlefield of The Mind by Joyce Meyer. I am also
reading The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd. It is about
spiritual feminism.

AL: Did you go to college?

Charlotte: Yeah. I studied Opera. You end up logging in more hours because
you have to learn more languages. You have to do an Opera every semester. I
would study ten hours a week in voice lessons. I would do recitals. You learn a
lot.

AL: You sing in German or Italian?

Charlotte: All of it. I sang in French and Czech. I studied Italian, German,
and French for ten years.

AL: Do you like the more modern 20th century classical music?

Charlotte: Benjamin Britten influenced my album. I like Gian Carlo Menotti’s
“Old Man and The Thief.” Henryk Gorecki is a favorite of mine. I like Iannis
Xenakis. He doesn’t even use score or notation. I had to study that in college.
I have blocked some of that out. I can appreciate John Cage but I can’t get
into it. I like most of Post-Romantic stuff of the early 20th century like
Rachmaninoff and Britten. I like the choral and vocal stuff.

AL: Did you ever play or tour with a proper Opera company?

Charlotte: No. I auditioned for the Met and that is as far as I got. It was
only a regional audition. That was in Chicago. After I graduated I moved to LA.

AL: When did you start writing songs for this album On Your Shore?

Charlotte: I started writing this album two years ago. I did an independent
album in 1998. I sold that on my own. I got signed to an indie label three
years ago and the record got shelved. After that I put out two independent EPs.
After that I put out Parentheses on RCA last year. This is my sixth or seventh
release.

AL: What is the early stuff like?

Charlotte: Shit. Shit. I did a record called One Girl Army for an indie
label. It is a young sounding. It is an interesting record. Anything before that is
not worth your time. It’s not good. It’s like really bad dinner theater.

AL: Was there anything from Parentheses that is on the new album?

Charlotte: There is one song that is on both called “Your Armor.”

AL: How many songs did you record?

Charlotte: Twenty-one songs. They all have been in the tracklisting at one
point. I don’t know what I am going to do with the other songs.

AL: How do you start writing a song?

Charlotte: It depends. I don’t know. Sometimes I will have music or lyrics
first. Sometimes I have both. One thing that I don’t do is “piece” things
together. I know a lot of people do that. They will write something and make it fit
somewhere else. I can’t do that. When I work on a piece I have to have fresh
ideas or I get burnt out. I feel that it is not good enough. I throw away a
lot of stuff. I throw away most everything. If I can remember something it might
be decent.

AL: How good is your memory?

Charlotte: It’s pretty good. I memorized two operas a year.

AL: Now when you are onstage you can break into some opera odyssey if you
want to?

Charlotte: Not so much. You have to be vocally in shape to do that stuff. If
I was in shape I could do it.

AL: What do you like to write songs about?

Charlotte: I write about everything from death, to declarations of love and
spirituality, to finding God, to losing God, to abortion, to anorexia, to
books, to denial, to stalking. I write about anything about human experience that I
need to express. If something moves me I will write about it.

AL: So there is no subject that is off limits?

Charlotte: No.

AL: You mentioned religion. Do you believe in a higher power?

Charlotte: Yeah. I am still searching. I am always searching.

AL: What are you searching for?

Charlotte: Him, her, it. God. I believe in God.

AL: Have you had a divine experience?

Charlotte: Yes I have. It’s through the music. It’s hard to explain. It’s
when you are so caught up in a piece, whether you are a listener, or a composer,
or a performer, where the piece takes you out of yourself, some place else
you haven’t been. That is like a religious experience.

AL: It’s sort of like drugs without the drugs?

Charlotte: Kind of. Imagine doing drugs when that happened. It would be
mindblowing!

AL: Don’t you think that actors and performers have those sorts of
experiences, when everything is going right, that they have those sort out-of-body
experiences? They are living in the moment.

Charlotte: I was watching the news the other day. They discovered that there
is really nothing in space. The chances of life in our galaxy have gone down.
They are pretty sure that there are no other planets in our galaxy or beyond
that can support life. They think the earth is an anomaly. They don’t know how
it happened. I personally believe it was created. I don’t think it was an
accident. I don’t think our makeup is an accident. I don’t think music is an
accident. I don’t think anything is an accident. Somebody somewhere knows what is
going on.

AL: What about people like John Cage? He was trying to create chance.

Charlotte: I don’t think everything is forced and programmed. I just think
that our existence is not an accident.

AL: What about politics? This journal is Free Williamsburg, which is about a
hipster liberal neighborhood in Brooklyn….

Charlotte: I know. It’s one of my favorite neighborhoods. I was very excited
to do this interview.

AL: Some people are very political in this neighborhood?

Charlotte: I am reading My Life by Bill Clinton. I really wish that he were
still President. Does that pretty much sum up my political views?

AL: Okay.

Charlotte: If Hilary Clinton would run, I vote for her in five seconds and
give her all my money. Yeah. I am not really into what is going on right now. I
am not really a party person. My father calls me a “Granola Liberal.” I don’t
like to be classified as that because I think it is lame. I just believe what
I believe in. I will vote for who I think is the most capable.

AL: Your family is …

Charlotte: Republican.

AL: Why do Republicans worry about abortion, gay marriages, guns and
terrorism, when there are other things in the bigger picture that really affect us all?

Charlotte: And the economy is completely crashing and we are at war for no
reason except the oil. Yeah! It’s a hard time for everyone. BMG and Sony just
merged. It hits everyone. Not as many bands can go on tour.

AL: Do you think that people in their twenties are very concerned about
politics?

Charlotte: Everyone is really concerned. I am playing Rock The Vote in New
York. I had a lot of fans email me links of ways of getting involved. I think a
lot of people my age have an opinion.

AL: Do people look to you for style guidance?

Charlotte: No. I have no style. I am not into fashion all that much.

AL: I just asked because some of these magazines that you are in had you wear
these certain clothes in the photo shoot.

Charlotte: The fans seem to be into the music. I haven’t really hit the level
of notoriety where people talk about what hair dye I use.

AL: When you did this album, is it all recorded live?

Charlotte: Yes. I worked with Joey Waronker and Justin Meldal played bass.
They used to play with Beck. It’s all live takes. We did about twelve live takes
of each song and picked the best one.

AL: What are those guys doing now?

Charlotte: Joey Waronker is mostly producing now. They used to play in a band
called Ima Robot. Justin is still doing that. I met those guys because I
recorded One Girl Army with Tom Rothrock for Bongload Records. The label ended and
it never came out.

AL: What do you like to do?

(Katy Rose comes in the room)

Charlotte: I like to smack Katy Rose on the ass.

Katy Rose: We are married. Did you know that?

AL: No.

Katy Rose: I haven’t slept at all. I am going to wear thermal underwear
onstage tonight.

AL: That’s cool.

Katy Rose: I look like a two dollar whore. Let me close the door. I am on a
rampage.

Charlotte: We have a date tonight.

Katy Rose: What are we doing?

Charlotte: We are going to sing at one in the morning. We are silly. We have t
o be. Sleeping on a bunk for a while is like being in a coffin.

AL: Except that you are still alive.

Charlotte: I’m still alive.

AL: Do you have any favorite films?

Charlotte: I like May. It’s a horror flick. I love All The Real Girls.

AL: What is up with the Goth thing?

Charlotte: That is so stupid. I like The Cure. So I am Goth? No. I don’t go
to Goth club.

AL: Do you drink blood?

Charlotte: No. I like The Cure. I like a few Goth comic writers. I have
friends who are witches. That is why I am wearing “I Live Jesus” slippers.

AL: You could be making an ironic statement.

Charlotte: No, it is not ironic. I even go to church.

AL: Can’t you just believe in a higher power without the church going?

Charlotte: I go for the music.

AL: Do you go to gospel churches and try to top the singers?

Charlotte: No, I just watch.

AL: You are missing the Curiosa Tour.

Charlotte: I am missing all my favorite bands: Interpol, The Rapture.

AL: You live in LA. Where are some hip places that we would see you at?

Charlotte: I don’t leave my house ever. I went to Perversion once or twice.

AL: You are Charlotte Martin. You should be hanging out at Star Shoes or
Beauty Bar.

Charlotte: I don’t go to bars. I stay home and read.

AL: What neighborhood do you live in?

Charlotte: West Hollywood. When you spend every night in a club, when you are
sitting at home you don’t want to go to a club. I go to Amoeba Records. That
is my favorite record store. I think The Virgin Megastore in LA is cool.

AL: Do you go to Buzz Coffee?

Charlotte: Yeah, I love Buzz Coffee. I used to go to this place called
Insomnia on Beverly.

AL: What is the rest of the year going to be like?

Charlotte: I am doing a bigger tour in the Fall. I am going to start working
on some demos. I have a bunch of songs written.

AL: I guess we have to go. Your manager is staring at me. You have to go
onstage pretty soon.

Charlotte: I love you. You are so fun. It’s so crazy. This is one of the most
in depth interviews I have done in a long time.

Website: www.charlottemartin.com
Every Time It Rains VIDEO:http://media.bmgonline.com/rcarecords.com/charlotte_martin/video/everytime_it_
rains_v2_128.mov

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