The Morning After Girls

The Morning After Girls
By alexander laurence


The Morning After Girls started playing music about three years ago. They
have recently moved to Sydney. Sacha Lucashenko and Martin B. Sleeman conceived
the band. They released a few self-released EPs. This attracted a lot of
attention. They met the rest of the band in Sydney in 2004. Mark Gardener was
excited by the band enough to record a track with them. They traveled to the United
States for the first time in March 2005. They played at SXSW and a few
selected cities. This lead to their first American release: prelude: ep’s 1& 2. They
came back for some more American shows in Fall 2005. This lead to a major tour
supporting Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, which was mostly sold out. They plan
to play more shows in Europe, the UK, and Japan later this year. I spoke to
singer Sacha Lucashenko right before two great shows at the Henry Fonda Theater
in Hollywood.

a n t o n j a k o v l j e v i c - p e r c u s s i o n
s c o t t v o n r y p e r - b a s s g u i t a r / v o c a l s
a i m e´e n a s h - v o c a l s / g u i t a r / k e y s / p e r c
u s s i o n
m a r t i n b . s l e e m a n - v o c a l s / g u i t a r
s a c h a l u c a s h e n k o - v o c a l s / g u i t a r

AL: This is the first real big tour you guys have done?

Sasha: It’s been a big tour for us. We have been on the road for five weeks.
We have only had a few days off. I stopped feeling like a human being. I
haven’t been getting any sleep.

AL: What is it like in Australia?

Sasha: There are only three major cities in Australia. They are three
twelve-hour drives from each other. You just can’t play that much. It’s different in
America. Melbourne has some great bands.

AL: How did you meet the other guys in the band?

Sasha: I met Martin in Melbourne at a concert. We got into a garage and
jammed for two years. We wrote some songs. We had some friends around. They weren’t
really musicians but we taught them how to play bass guitar and drums. We met
Anton and moved to Sydney. That is where we met the others. That is what the
band is now.

AL: When did you write the songs that are on the album?

Sasha: When we started gigging we had a bunch of songs. I guess that when we w
ere back in the garage it was more free-form noise and jamming. Hours would
go by.

AL: When did the EPs come out?

Sasha: We came out with them in 2004 and 2005. We put them together for the
American release. It was always meant to be an album. We recorded it in
separate studios. The Australian record company wanted us to get five or six songs
out there, and see want the response was. We brought out some singles ourselves.

AL: How does the songwriting happen in the band?

Sasha: Martin or myself wrote all the songs on prelude. I will write a verse
and then he will take it and put a lead riff on it or a chorus. It happens
anywhere. We don’t say to ourselves: “We are going to write a song.” We live
together and we play guitars every day.

AL: What are your live sets like?

Sasha: We never play the same set twice. Some bands play the same set every
night. A band like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has a lot of songs. They can
switch it around every night. I just can’t play the same set every night. It’s
just wrong.

AL: How do you decide what you are going to play?

Sasha: We usually decide what we are going to do when we are onstage. We like
to seque-waying. We don’t like to have a lot of songs. We like our songs to
fade into each other.

AL: What is a good way to start? Some drone atmospheric song or some jamming
song right away?

Sasha: We either start with a drone and it builds up. Sometimes there is a
lot of feedback. There is also no way we commence our set.

AL: What are people to make out of all the feedback?

Sasha: Well, you have Psychocandy by the Jesus and Mary Chain. It’s all
feedback, but you have some great songs hiding in the feedback. Sometimes when you
are playing some hick town, and they are trying to heckle you, it’s good to
give them ten minutes of feedback. It quiets them down.

AL: Some of these shows you are doing now are only a half hour. Maybe when
you come back, you can expand the sound and let the songs breathe.

Sasha: The shows we did in the UK and the one show in New York were our own.
We played for an hour and a half.

AL: Did you play in other bands before?

Sasha: Yes. We have all been in other bands before. The bands that Martin and
I were in before weren’t really doing what we wanted to do.

AL: What bands were you into when you started?

Sasha: It hasn’t really changed. I was always into Spaceman 3, Ride,
Slowdive, and My Bloody Valentine.

AL: Is Steve Kilbey a big influence still on Australian band?

Sasha: We played with the Church like a year ago. They should be a lot bigger
than they are. I think a lot of new bands have to be successful overseas
before people will respect you in Australia.

AL: Many Australian bands go over to the UK first because it’s easier to go
that way.

Sasha: We have had a lot of support from American bands. That is why we have
been over her a lot. Everyone from Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Dandy
Warhols, and BRMC. It’s been good for us. After we finish this BRMC tour we are going
to Portland. We are going to record some songs in the Dandy Warhols’ studio.
They invited us to come over. I have known them for a while. They have come
over to Australia a few times. We have played with them a few times.

AL: What is the relationship to The Sky Parade?

Sasha: They are fantastic. I am a good friend with Tommy Dietrick. Whenever
we get a chance we jam together. We have played a few songs with Brian
Jonestown Massacre.

AL: What were some of the jobs that people in your band had?

Sasha: I cannot hold a job to save my life. You can’t really survive on the
dole. You end up doing cash in hand jobs. There are hospitality jobs. We have
been waiters and worked in retail. Anything to do with catering.

AL: Do novels or certain poems inspire you when you write lyrics?

Sasha: We like to create a little imagery with our lyrics. I do write about
emotions and personal experiences. I like to tell a story. But I don’t think
it’s obvious. I think Lou Reed said “Just because I wrote the song doesn’t mean
I know what it’s about.” Some of the songs mean something complete different
to me now, from when we were writing them. When we start a song we will think
of a vocal melody. Martin and myself have pages of writing. We have short
stories and poetry. We just work that stuff into the melody. I think that people
who say they like a band because of their lyrics are liars. Lyrics come second
and melody comes first. You can have amazing lyrics but you are not going to
buy the song because there is no tune. Sometimes even one word in a song can
have so much meaning and emotion behind it.

AL: Your band is known for the loud volume you play at. Do you think it’s
important to be loud?

Sasha: Absolutely. We want to bombard ourselves on the audience. We aren’t
playing loud just for the sake of playing loud. There are so many layers

AL: What are you doing in Portland? What are you doing for the rest of the
year 2006?

Sasha: We are going to be recording there. We are going to tour again. We are
going to be in the US and the UK. We are playing a Festival in Ireland. We
won’t be in Australia for a while.

AL: Who does your website?

Sasha: I do a lot of the design. I took that logo from “Perfect
Prescription” by Spaceman 3. I asked Jason Pierce about it. He said: “You can do whatever
you want with it. We ripped it off of Otis Redding.”

AL: You have a Myspace page.

Sasha: It’s fantastic. I think it’s on the way out though. People are
creating these profiles and there are pedophiles out there. It only takes a few of
those people to fuck it up. We get a lot of other bands that want to contact
us, and that’s great.

AL: You can post a message “We need a Gibson 335 guitar….”

Sasha: Yeah. We will probably borrow one of the ones from BRMC.

AL: How many does Peter Hayes have?

Sasha: Quite a few. They are all tuned differently. His guitar tech gets a
workout. Our band also has different tunings. But I don’t trust anyone to tune
my guitar.

AL: It’s almost eight o’clock. You have to play pretty soon.

Sasha: Do we?

AL: What should people expect when they see you?

Sasha: They shouldn’t expect anything. If they hate it they hate it. If they
love it they love it. That’s great. We are more sonic live.

AL: Some people call this kind of music Shoegazer?

Sasha: Is it Shoegazer or New Gazer? I don’t think we are a Shoegazer band.
Some of the press labels us as that. There are elements of that stuff. We grew
listening to all the bands on Creation Records. Record labels aren’t like that anymore.

WEBSITE: themorningaftergirls.com

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PLAID Interview
an interview by Alexander Laurence

Double Figure is Plaid's third album for Warp Records. Over the years, the duo has been know as a leader of the IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) movement filling their tracks with lush melodies, stabbing beats, and experimental noise. Double Figure is as good as anything they've done, with tracks fluctuating between warm electronics and Autechre-style experimentation. It's an enjoyable collection, and one of the best albums of the year so far, even though it was released in the UK last summer.

Plaid makes electronic music with Classical sensibilities, in a more accessible way than many artists on Warp Records who seem interested in changing music forever and impressing the academics. I met up with Ed and Andy from Plaid in Hollywood. I was a little late and Mira Calix was already onstage so we went to the back room at The El Rey Theater. Our conversation was very friendly and I found Ed and Andy to be regular and approachable guys, unlike many other artists I have met on the Warp label.
AL: When did you guys meet?
Ed: We met at school. We grew up in East Anglia. It's about an hour away from London on the train.

Andy: It's rural and quite flat. It's agricultural. It encompasses Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk. There are four counties in East Anglia and we were in the county of Suffolk. It's the southeast part. It's slightly north and east of London.
AL: Was there a music scene there that you grew up in and informed you?
Ed: We were really obsessed by hip-hop for some reason. It was just arriving in England at the time. It was the mid-1980s. We just latched onto it.
AL: Were you into breakdancing?
Ed: That's what we did most of the time. We tried to be B-boys. We were actually A-boys.
Andy: I was probably the better breaker. Ed was a better dancer.
AL: Were there much Electro records back then in England besides Herbie Hancock's "Rockit"?
Andy: That probably got played every other three records. We didn't have too many records. There was one track by Cold Crush. Other stuff from mainstream movies. There were no independent record stores in our area. Most of the stuff we had were bad quality tapes made from FM radio stations in London or tapes that friends had sent us.
Ed: There were tracks by Ice T when they came out. We would go to clubs in London and hear music there.
AL: Did you play in bands when you were growing up?
Ed: Not really. I started out with drum machines and playing samplers.
Andy: I was in the school band and I could read music. I was in the brass section in school. That was good for me to learn music. I played the flugal horn.
AL: Double Figure is your third record with Warp Records?
Andy: Actually we have done five albums altogether. One on our own label in 1991, Black Dog Productions. Trainer was a compilation of previously released stuff.
AL: Was Black Dog a previous band?
Ed: We did Black Dog at the same time. It was assumed that Black Dog came before because we released the first Plaid album at the same time. Black Dog was a collective and it was never a band. Just like Plaid is not really a band. We don't get up onstage and play instruments. We get up onstage and play tracks that we have written individually. It doesn't fit in with what a band is.
AL: Black Dog was around in the summer of 1988 when Happy Monday and Stones Roses came around?
Ed: It was just after that. It was fueled by rave culture. We didn't go to a lot of parties. But it was like we started to make music because we didn't find music we liked at those parties.
AL: Much of the music on Warp Records seems intimate and introverted and anti-social. Much of what Plaid does is more diverse and outgoing.
Ed: We don't see what we do as serious or academic.
Andy: We like to enjoy ourselves and enjoy what we are doing.
AL: Are you saying that some of the people on Warp Records are academic?
Ed: No. It's that their interests are more on the academic side of things and they want to change music. Like they want to introduce atonality into it. Or they want to use really strange time signatures.
AL: So to like Plaid you don't have to know who Stockhausen or Schoenberg are?
Andy: No. To like anything is not necessarily to know anything else. To like anything comes from a deeper understanding rather than an intellectual connection. I like this because it is like someone else who I know is good. That would be a bad reason to like something. You should put a Plaid track next to a Lionel Richie track and it should be seamless.
AL: Do you still DJ?
Andy: No, not as much as we used to. We are bad DJs. We tend not to maintain a groove very well. We don't get asked to play that many places. Or we get asked to play as people are leaving.
AL: A few tracks on your latest record reminded me of Brian Eno's Ambient 4: On Land. Do you like anything that he does?
Ed: You can't really knock Brian Eno because he has done some amazing music. He is an innovator. Even if you object to some of the stuff he's done lately, the production quality usually is very interesting.
Andy: He loves FM sounds. We are into FM sounds.
AL: What's that?
Ed: He knows how to program a DX7. It's a Yahama synthesizer. It's not obscure. It's what everyone used in the 1980s. No one now knows how to program one except for Brian Eno. It's a digital synth. You would recognize it. It's like a cheesy moog sound. It sounds like a lot of electric pianos and noise. It's not quite convincing.
Andy: You can get some stabby sounds. Some of those Detroit twangy basslines were FM. They were programmed in a twisted way. You can get some nice sounds out of them.
AL: Do you spend much time buying gear and collecting old analog synths?
Andy: We have gotten more into software the last couple of years. We have loads of analog synths in the studio but most of it is broken. The sound is not as good but it's a lot more convenient. We used Logic Audio and things that plug into that.
Ed: We still use analog synths but they brake down all the time. It's very difficult to tell the different between analog and digital. It all hits the digital stage at some point down the line for us. The pitch changes all the time. We are getting fascinated by digital and virtual stuff. With Logic Audio you can write your own drum patches and humanize it. There are random generators that create interesting things.
AL: Some groups have a palette of sounds that they use with each record before they move on. Do you have some sounds that are used with each album?
Andy: Harps and bells are something that we have used on everything we have done. Sometimes we have some distorted voices.
AL: The last song "Manyme" has the female singer, Mara Carlyle. What was going on in that song?
Andy: We worked with her before. We were exploring this new synthesizer we had which does real time pitch shifting. She sang a round and we ran it through this machine. It starts out like a baby voice and then goes down.
AL: The first track "Eyen" has this guitar sound. You aren't afraid of guitars?
Ed: All sounds are good. Benet Walsh came up with this riff and we worked around that. It's a guitar driven track.
AL: "Squance" has a heavy drum track that sounds like a live drummer.
Ed: That has a FM DX7 type bassline.
Andy: We have never played with a live drummer. We are not really a band, like I have said. When we play live we work with a video artist. There's a video show and us on laptops. We could be doing anything back there. Maybe we should project our computer screens to the audience so you can see what we are going to do next.
AL: Have you played with a live singer?
Ed: Yeah, we have done that. We have played with singers and guitarists. Since so much of the material is electronic there's no point in doing it. In the future, we will do it if we have to. But the idea is that it is computer generated. That it is so precise. That's why I love it.
Andy: We have always had reservations. It seems like every time an electronic band gets any level of credibility at all, they get a full band in. "Well we didn't like the electronic stuff. We just couldn't afford the session musicians. We really are a rock band."
AL: There's the one song "Porn Coconut Co." Are you big fans of porn?
Ed: That was a misspelling on a packet. The song "Zala" means "happiness" in some African dialect. Sometimes the words don't means anything. We like the sounds of the words. The sound of the word fits the track somehow. Sometimes you listen to the track and come up with the first word that comes into your head.
AL: Are you influenced by movie soundtracks or anything like that?
Andy: Apparently one of our songs has the same chord sequence as "Hotel California." Somebody recently has pointed it out. It has apparently seeped into our subconscious.
AL: Maybe Don Henley will be at the show tonight seeking a royalty? Do stars ever come to your shows?
Andy: Outkast were at our show last time we were here.
AL: What did you think about critics comparing Radiohead's Kid A to the artists on Warp Records?
Andy: I thought all that Radiohead stuff was so weird. Kid A is not an electronic album at all. There was one drum machine on one track on the whole album. They called it an electronic album. Whatever.
AL: Besides Bjork, what bands have you toured with?
Andy: We did an eight month tour with Bjork. We have toured with Orbital. We were going to play with Moby and Outkast last year but it never did materialize. We are still waiting for our songs to be used on a coffee commercial.
AL: Ladytron is on a car commercial here.
Ed: Ladytron are cool.
AL: "Assault on Precinct Zero" might be a good song for a car commercial?
Ed: Yeah. A four by four assault vehicle.
AL: What other hobbies do you have?
Andy: Playing computer games, cooking, reading, hanging out with friends. Normal stuff really. I am thinking of getting a game cube tomorrow because they are loads cheaper over here. I finished playing Grand Theft Auto 3. I think that there is an alternative ending. There an Observatory at the end that I haven't been able to get to. I reckon it's a Rebel Without A Cause ending, but I can't get to it. I have completed the game and then some. If anyone out there reading this can tell me what to do, please do so. It takes about three or four days of solid playing.
Ed: I play games too. It's a step up from watching TV. I do some Kung Fu. I would love to do Yoga but I don't have the discipline.

alexnader laurence

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The Polyphonic Spree

The Polyphonic Spree
James Reimer explains the beginning of this musical family
by Alexander Laurence

The unique Dallas symphonic pop group, the Polyphonic Spree, is less a band than a happening, very much in the 1960s sense of the word. When the group takes to the stage for a live performance, its two dozen members are costumed in flowing robes of snowy white, an appropriate backdrop for their happy and uplifting musical message that's catchy as hell and minimally laced by gospel. They have been compared to everything from The Beach Boys to The Flaming Lips. Some people think they are a weird cult, but Texas has always been the home of outrageous things. The group boasts a ten-member choir, a pair of keyboardists, as well as a percussionist, bassist, guitarist, flautist, trumpeter, trombonist, violist, a French horn player, a theremin player, and an electronic effects wizard. Former Tripping Daisy frontman Tim DeLaughter holds the post of musical director and contributes lead vocals. Their live show is in a word a "spectacle." They have released one album called "The Beginning Stages of... (2001)." I spoke with member James Reimer a few weeks before they go to Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Field Day in Long Island. Catch them this summer.
AL: I may sound out of it. I just went to sleep about three hours ago.
James: My goodness. I just woke up here.
AL: I'll be okay.
James: I can mess with you the whole interview because of sleep deprivation.
AL: I'll just go right back to sleep right after this. (laughter) Have you been in Polyphonic Spree the whole time?
James: Actually I came into it about six months after they started. They were forming at that time. The band started in July 2000. I was a fan of Tripping Daisy and I liked them a lot, but I had never met Tim before. I knew his friends and people around him. How I got in was through a friend of a friend. At that time I didn't even know he was doing music again.
AL: Had you seen Tripping Daisy play before?
James: Yeah. I followed them since 1991. I saw them in the beginning when they played to ten people. I watched their meteoric rise through Dallas. I watched them take off during the early 1990s. That was pretty cool. It was weird. I didn't know that he was doing anything musically again. Then a friend of mine who worked at a local radio station introduced me to his new group. They had just cut what would become "The Beginning Stages of...." He had a disc. He told me that I should listen to it because it was pretty cool. So I did. Then a few months later I wondered if they needed a trombone player. I emailed the manager, Chris Penn. The very next day he wrote back. From then on I was in.
AL: Tim had already written all the songs already?
James: Oh yeah. The band started in July 1st, 2000. They rehearsed. They played their first gig on July 15th. They recorded the album on the last three days of October. So there are a bunch of people in this band now who are not on the record. All that happened really early on. That record was like a demo. The demand for it has turned it into what it is now. There are a few versions of it.
AL: The record and the website all reflect the expanded version of the band.
James: Right. The picture of us on the CD was taken last year at South by Southwest. You'll find that all the pictures are always evolving. The group is whenever you are at, at the time.
AL: The twenty-four members of the band now are a set number? Or can anyone join up?
James: It's revolved around those numbers. We were going for a specific sound. It took that many people and instruments to get that specific sound that Tim was looking for. If that sound ever expands to fifty people, I think he would do it. Right now it fluctuates between twenty-two and twenty-five people.
AL: Do you have honorary members? I know that Jarvis Cocker from Pulp joined you at one show.
James: That happens from time to time. There was a guy who writes for The London Guardian who flew into Dallas to perform with us. He did that so he could write about the experience for his newspaper.
AL: Some of the British newspapers compared your band to a Christian cult, or David Koresh and his followers. You don't all live in a commune together?
James: No. The thing is we are nothing like David Koresh and we don't have a commune. In fact, when we are home in Dallas, we are all spread out over town. We lead separate and various lives when we come back that have nothing to do with the band. It's fun though to read a journalist's imagination run wild. I can see that point of view. You have twenty people in robes who play uplifting music. They seem to happy and euphoric. What is going on?
AL: When did you decide to wear white robes?
James: Back in the early days there was video footage that was shown throughout the show. No one did any maniacal dancing back then. People just played instruments. The robes being white just acted as the background video screen. It was a human video screen. It was a stimulating visual and aural attack. That is how it came about.
AL: Things sort of took off after the South by Southwest shows of 2002. Then you were invited to the Meltdown by David Bowie.
James: Yeah. Things sort of blew up back then. Last year we kept getting invited to the UK festivals. We played T in The Park, Reading, and Leeds. This year we are going back to play those, plus Glastonbury, and more in Europe. We just played an NME tour with The Datsuns, The Thrills, and Interpol. That was really cool. They managed to get four bands who are in four different polar lands from each other. It worked because everyone was nice and everyone had their space to do their thing. You just have to do your best and have a good time because you don't know what to expect. If you have a good time onstage, most of the audience has a good time too. That is our general mantra
AL: Tim has a record store and record label in Dallas?
James: Yeah. It's called Good Records. In England, we have a partnership with a label called 679. It's a small label but it's also a subsidiary of Warner Brothers. It's run like an indie label but it has the backing of a major label.
AL: Your show right now is songs from the first album?
James: No. We have been incorporating songs from our next upcoming album into the set. The new album will come out around Christmas I believe. We just finished recording it. We will be mixing it soon, in between tours. We have been playing songs from the new album for over a year. People have been asking us when the new album is coming out. It's on the shelf and ready to go.
AL: It must have been a different recording process?
James: The first one was recorded in three days. This time we took two months to record the album. We'll take another month to mix it. This will be a proper record. The first one was done live. They did the normal things where they cut and pasted things. The whole idea was that was the original set. This new record was recorded like a regular band going into the studio, but we have twenty-five people. We worked with a producer, Eric Drew Feldman, who was in Captain Beefheart. He also produced a Tripping Daisy record, "Jesus Hits Like The Atom Bomb." He did an amazing job on that record. It was a shame that no one got a chance to hear that record. It was a good feeling in the studio the whole two months.
AL: When you have all those people and voices onstage or in a room together, it can get quite emotional?
James: It can. Music is for the most part an emotional experience. When something that you wrote comes to life in that manner, it has to be an amazing feeling. It is an amazing feeling when our songs comes alive on their own. It has caused everyone to get emotional at times because it evokes that.
AL: Besides Tripping Daisy and Captain Beefheart that we have already mentioned, are there any bands that you like?
James: I like so many bands it's not funny. I have played with so many cool bands already. I used to have a list of people who I wanted to meet, and now I have met them all. It's like all right. The last SXSW we played with Supergrass. We have played with them a few times now. It seems like a mismatch but I don't think it is. It becomes very vibrant. We will come on and lift everyone up and they will torch the place down. It's awesome. We played with them at Wembley, in London. I like them and I had never seen them play. When I saw them, it was like WOW!
AL: Do you read a lot of books?
James: Yeah. When I am on tour it's always my goal to read a book. I like to keep mentally sharp. I just finished The Demon Hearted World by Carl Sagan. It was pretty good. He tends to ramble on. It was about science and the culture that is backwards. Culture stifles the progress of science. I don't agree with all of it.
AL: Does the band Polyphonic Spree have a shared philosophy?
James: It matters on what you mean. There's an overtone to our shows. It's for people to come and have fun and enjoy themselves. That is what we do. When we are playing onstage, we enjoy ourselves. We hope that happens in the audience too. I don't think people will pay good money to go to a show and not have a good time. Other than that I don't think we have a shared philosophy.
AL: Do you do shows where people are standing there in shock, or are quiet because they are silently deciding whether it's cool to like you or not?
James: I have two answers. The first show we played in London was the Meltdown Festival that was curated by David Bowie. It was at the Royal Albert Hall. It's the mother of all live venues, mainly for orchestral things. It's absolutely beautiful. We were opening for The Divine Comedy which are the epitome of that European class music. It's reserved and it's perfect basically. I enjoy them. I thought it was incredible to open for that band. We were jet lagged. We hadn't slept. We walk into the venue. We were getting ready to play. We noticed that everyone was sitting down in chairs. We hadn't experienced that before. We played our entire show and everyone was sitting down. We didn't realize at the time that was the kind of venue it was. It was weird. We are used to playing clubs with people dancing. This was a lecture at a college. People were sitting there maybe thinking "What is going on?" We were having enough problems with being jet lagged and playing our songs, when the power gets cut off. We blew a fuse. We are just standing there not knowing what to do. So Tim just starts one of our newer songs. He just starts singing it. We have enough acoustic instruments in the band to play that certain song. Right where there's a really big crescendo, where it really goes for the power moment, the electric cuts back in, and the whole place just loses it. It was an unbelievable moment. Because the electricity cut in exactly at the right moment, everyone accuses us of staging it. We would never do that. We were scared out of our minds. It's fun to go to new places, to watch people's faces. For the first minutes, if they haven't seen us before, they think "Oh, what a joke." You can read their faces. It just seems like halfway through the show, things change, and they are singing along and having a good time. They realize that it is not a joke.
AL: Can you play acoustic shows?
James: It would be difficult for the singers. We have electric guitars and two drummers and that is too loud with the vocals. Don't be surprised if we do acoustically things in the future though.
AL: How should people come prepared to see these shows in the summer?
James: I don't know if words can prepare you. It depends on were you are coming from. Just be prepared to have a good time. Enjoy yourself and your surroundings. If you are worried about if it is cool, you are worrying about the wrong things.

alexander laurence

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The Moving Units

The Moving Units
Los Angeles is definitely starting to become the worldwide capital of cool. The band that exemplifies the new spirit more than any other is The Moving Units. They play music that is informed by post-punk and dance music. They are on the verge of making it big. In the past few years they have become one of my favorite bands. Things did not come easy for them. They started almost three years ago, and have been gigging ever since. Their reputation is largely based on their exciting live shows and great songs. Songs like "Emancipation" and "Going For Adds" are some of the most rocking songs this year.
The Moving Units were all former members of the hardcore band Festival of Dead Deer. At the end of 2001, they began writing and gigging as The Moving Units supporting The Rapture. They signed to label Three One G and issued an EP in fall 2002. Initially, they were seen as LA's answer to The Rapture, but now, they have found their own sound and a large fanbase. They subsequently they moved to Palm Pictures, who reissued the Moving Units EP in early 2003. In fall 2004, the band's full-length debut Dangerous Dreams was finally released. I saw them play in LA recently with The Secret Machines. I spoke to Chris Hathwell right before the show. The Moving Units are Blake Miller (vocals/guitar), Johan Bogeli (bass), and Chris Hathwell (drums).
AL: Are you all from Los Angeles?
Chris: No. The singer is from Detroit.
AL: How did you all meet?
Chris: From just hanging out a lot in the same scene. We were all DJing and partying together in same places.
AL: People seem to know about The Moving Units for a while now.
Chris: We have been touring for a long time. It's all been word of mouth.
AL: People used to compare you to The Rapture. What did you think of that?
Chris: It's an easy way to look at it I guess. We are friends with The Rapture and I have known them for a long time. I have played with them before so it is not a negative thing to say. We are different bands with different energies and ideas. People are going to think what they want to.
AL: Maybe when you first started, The Moving Units were more like some New York bands than they were like the rest of the bands from LA?
Chris: Yeah.
AL: What did you listen to when you were growing up?
Chris: I listened to a lot of metal and a lot of jazz. We listened to punk and disco. Everyone in the band has eclectic music tastes. We are all music geeks. We all like popular music.
AL: When you play other parts of the country do people have expectations about you being an LA band?
Chris: You are immediately stuck with a bunch of stigmas and stereotypes. Since you are from LA, people assume that you are full of shit. That definitely happens. The expectations are everyone expects you to suck. We have had some good genuine reactions to our music in the Midwest.
AL: Where do you like to play?
Chris: Anywhere in California. Those are our people. We have had really good shows in Texas, Phoenix, and Cleveland. Miami was fun.
AL: Has playing so many live shows influenced how you write music?
Chris: Somewhat. You can develop your ideas by playing everyday.
AL: How do you write songs in the band?
Chris: Usually someone has an idea. We work collaboratively and organically. Blake writes all the lyrics, but the music is all of us.
AL: What are some songs like "Emancipation" or "Submission" about?
Chris: Nothing deeper than what is there on the surface. They are pretty self-explanatory.
AL: There is a feeling about the music that is like "This is party music. Let's have fun." Is that the message?
Chris: I wouldn't say that. The energy of the music is something like that, but there is also a dark underbelly or dark undercurrent to everything that we do. There is too much attention paid to the other element that you were talking about. Blake is a complex with a bunch of abstract thoughts and views. That is what separates our band from a lot of other bands in this genre. If you pay attention to the words, there are a lot of heavy things going down. You don't get that with your average disco punk group.
AL: What bands have you played with that you have liked?
Chris: A lot of them. We are on tour with this band called Autolux that we like a lot. The Chinese Stars are good. Kill Me Tomorrow from San Diego. Wives are another LA band.
AL: Does the band still DJ a lot?
Chris: Blake does a lot. He is going to DJ tonight. We all play at after parties when we are on tour.
AL: You are playing a lot of shows in the LA Area this month. You are playing four or five venues within a month. Are you playing as many shows as you can?
Chris: We are not playing every show we can. But that is the idea when you make a record. You want to play the songs to people wherever they live. We are playing Australia and Japan. We are coming back and headlining our own shows.
AL: Is that the first time you have played in Australia and Japan?
Chris: Yes, sir.
AL: You have played England too?
Chris: Yes, sir. Many times. It's alright. It's cool. We have had some good shows there.
AL: Is there any hobbies that the bands has?
Chris: Bickering. We bicker a lot. We do a lot of philanthropy. We do humanitarian work.
AL: Have you read any good books recently?
Chris: Yeah. I am reading a biography of the Carter Family right now.
AL: Have you seen any good films?
Chris: No.
AL: You have been busy. What is going on this summer?
Chris: That is too far in advance. We are hoping to be working on our next record by then. We have some new songs. We have a lot of work to do. We haven't had any time because we have been on tour for a while.
AL: Who is the most dispensable member of the band?
Chris: That is really an inflammatory question.
AL: I'm sorry.
Chris: I'll say "Me." How's that? I will volunteer myself.
AL: I meant to say: who is the most indispensable member of the band?
Chris: That would be me as well.
AL: Have you been to any weird parts of the United States recently?
Chris: Any part that is not New York or LA is pretty weird.
AL: How did you record this recent record?
Chris: It's totally live. Everything. We used a lot of tin foil while recording this album.
AL: What do you think about bands who are new wave revivalists?
Chris: It's 2005. It's hard to play something that doesn't sound like something else. If you heard something that you like, and you want to play that, then that's cool. I would rather hear regurgitated music of something that I liked rather than regurgitated music of something I didn't like.
AL: Some bands are incapable of making it their own.
Chris: I see what you are saying. It's harder than it looks though.
AL: People still have to know how to play.
Chris: Do you know who Ian MacKaye is?
AL: Yeah.
Chris: He said that there is a group of kids in every generation who hears a band that they like. This band creates a interest in music that makes people want to play music themselves. They get some gear and go to the basement. They are going to emulate what they heard. But since everyone has their individual life and experiences and individual way that they do things and how they play and heard, it's most likely that they are going to come up with something totally different than what they set out to accomplish. There are different factors involved and a generation gap. They end up creating something new that is the basic principle or basic idea.
AL: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start a band?
Chris: Yeah. Take good care of your hair. Clothes make the man. Shameless self-promotion is a good thing. I am not saying that is what we do. I was giving advice.
AL: What is the set like?
Chris: We play mostly songs from the new album. We have two new songs. We don't play any cover songs. We are only playing seven songs when we open up for another band. Some of our own shows are much longer.

alexander laurence

Website: www.movingunits.net

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