2/28/2006

The Infinite Beat #2

WHO: The Infinite Beat 2 @ Broadway Bar. DJ Alexander Laurence returns to the
Broadway Bar for a second night of New Music. This follows the Downtown
Artwalk. (www.downtownartwalk.com)

WHEN: THURSDAY, March 9th 10PM TILL 2am

WHERE: The Broadway Bar - 830 S. Broadway, LA 90014 (near Eighth Street).
Very close to 7th Street Metro (Red and Blue lines). 213 614-9909

Website: http://www.thebroadwaybar.net/

HOW: FREE

WHAT: The Broadway Bar is this cool place in Downtown LA next to the Orpheum.
They have Indie Rock LATE Night on Thursdays. Music by The Strokes, The
Subways, Editors, LCD Soundsystem, Maximo Park, Libertines, Giant Drag, Pulp, The
Sounds, The Kills, Nine Black Alps, and more. DJ: Alexander Laurence Music:
Indie rock, Britpop, New LA
Bands, Classic Rock, Glam Rock and Movie Soundtracks.

WHY: SEE YOU THERE FOR DRINKS AND MUSIC.
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2/27/2006

Sluts Of Trust

Sluts of Trust
By Alexander Laurence

This is a brand new band from Scotland. Q Magazine describes their music: "Leaves you feeling violated. In a good way." The Sluts of Trust first unleashed their wildly original brand of sleazy rock music to an unsuspecting audience, and since have become something of a phenomenon in Glasgow. The band is just two guys: John McFarlane (guitar/vocals) and Anthony O'Donnell (drums). They look like they have a permanent hangover. I met them in Hollywood at an IHOP. They claimed to have just run into Paris Hilton and Nick Carter who apparently are regulars there. We went record shopping all over and ended up at Amoeba. Before that, we stopped at a nearby café where I stepped on someone's Chihuahua. We got to see some homeless people yelling in the street. Local color is helpful.

The Sluts of Trust have been a curious band all this year. They played a blistering energetic show at SXSW. Their songs "Piece o' You" and "Leave You Wanting More" are totally unforgettable. They combine indie rock and heavy metal and total original singing and just out of control playing. I saw them on a night they even threw in a song by Talking Heads. They even took a bow at the end. People loved it. We got to drive around Sunset Boulevard and learn more about all things Scottish. They often joke around and repeat themselves in American accent because they are not sure if people understand what they are saying. Their first album that came out in May is called We Are All Sluts of Trust.
****
AL: How is the American tour going?
John: It's going rather well. We are going to a lot of new places on the west coast. WE played SXSW a few months ago. That was our first time in the States and our first gig in the States. It was really wild and really good. We are going to a bunch of new places for the very first time that we have never been. We get to play a show in these places. So it's like a double whammy. When you get to work here it gives you a little idea of what it is like to live here. That makes it much more fulfilling.
AL: Do you have a lot of public transportation in Glasgow?
John: The public transportation system there is reasonable. We have a big subway there. There is rather extensive bus network. There are a lot of cabs. It's a good walking city if you have any resilience for walking. Everything is within reach.
AL: How did you meet each other?
Anthony: We both did a course in Scottish theater in 1995. It was when we first met. It was a five-week course over the summer. It was part of a youth organization.
AL: What do your parent do for a living? Do they play music?
John: One parent drives coaches around Europe. My mother is a network specialist. My mum and dad sing. My oldest brother can sing and play bass. Next brother can sing and plays guitar, bass, drums, piano. Another brother plays drums. Only the second oldest is in a band apart from me. There are a lot of good bands in Glasgow.
AL: How do you stand out if you a re a new band in Glasgow?
John: That is not for me to say because I don't stand around with a big mirror beside me. You should ask someone from Glasgow.
AL: We don't see a lot of bands from Scotland here. There's Delgados, Arab Strap, and Altered Images, and so on.
John: There is Shirley Manson of Garbage. There is Franz Ferdinand now.
AL: What is the local scene like there in Glasgow?
Anthony: We still play there a lot. There are a lot of venues there. There are a lot of bands there. Some are good, and some are not so good.
AL: How did you get involved with Chemikal Underground then?
Anthony: Someone from the label came to see us at our third gig. A few more came to the next gig. Then all the Delgados came along to the next gig to see us in Edinburgh. They called us up a few days after that and said, "Let's make some records together." So we said "Yeah."
AL: How does the songwriting happen in the band?
John: Each song is vastly different. Some of the songs that sound nothing like the other ones were written at the same time. I can't say that I go through phases. I will write them and have ideas how they should be arranged.
AL: Do you have a lot of expensive guitars and gear?
John: I play a cheap guitar. It's a Epiphone my friend. I think about Gibson guitar and Marshall stacks but sometimes you have to think about eating and paying the rent. I like that guitar that I have. When I had enough money to buy another guitar I just thought that it wasn't important and I found other things to use my money for.
AL: You have a talent for guitar technique?
John: I studied Classical guitar in high school. I read music for the exams. I learned up to grade eight. I got to a point where I thought it was more beneficial to learn stuff by memory instead of reading music. When you come to write music, all that stuff has been written inside your head, and you don't need to open up a piece of paper. There is a big jump between putting it on paper and letting it pour from the back of your mind. I still study Classical now. But I haven't learned a Classical piece note for note in a long time.
AL: Do you play in weird time signatures?
John: It's not always played in 4/4. But since we worked from the start from a very instinctual basis, that we never had to discuss and acknowledge the things we already knew. We knew what we are doing by virtue of playing and listening to one another. We don't say "Okay, we are going to do this in 7/4" and be vocal about it. We tape all our practices and rehearsals. We found that is really useful. We experiment on tape and listen back. If it worked then we keep that in.
AL: What are your lyrics about generally?
John: If there is a notion of depression or emotions it's all part of a story being told. It's not necessarily the reason the song is being written. I am not talking about myself.
AL: Every song is a story?
John: Perhaps. I feel okay if I have had an experience and I have learned something. Just the fact of everyone being so different and the nature of life being subjective, I feel that there are many things that can be unproblematically applied to every human being. The songs are aspiring to a universal thing that anyone can go through. So by not being particularly relevant to my own life, if someone picks up on the lyrics and identifies with the song in their own way, it allows them to paint a picture for themselves. I don't have to paint a picture for them. Lyrics are less a message from the writer of the lyrics to a person who hears them, and more a message from the listener to themselves.
AL: So the listener is the creator?
John: You do create when you listen. You are constantly creating value judgments when you read or hear a piece of music. How many essays have been written where they disagree about the fundamental principles about a piece of poetry or a book? Life is far to relative to be that conclusive about anything.
AL: How does the theater background influence the music?
Anthony: I think it is less obvious than we make it a big show. We have a moral code where the show must go on. It doesn't matter if there are ten people or a thousand there in the audience, we still give it our all. That is what we have done at every gig even if there was one granny in the audience.
AL: Do you like to be confrontational when you play live?
John: Every show doesn't have to be fun. If people are going crazy and cheering it's not necessarily a successful show. Things should be challenging. I like to be upfront. I like to take it to them. I don't have any perverse notions about creating anxiety. If you feel anxious, it's more telling something about yourself. It doesn't have anything to do with Anthony or me.
AL: Are there bands that you like?
John: I had a bunch of other brothers with great record collections. So did their friends. I listened to bands like The Smiths and Otis Redding. I listened to a lot of soul. My brother's friends use to listen to The Doors, The Pixies, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, and Dead Kennedys. I feel that I was pretty lucky that I was exposed to different types of music. Most of the stuff that I liked when I was young I wasn't able to see live because they were split up or dead.
AL: Did you ever see any of these bands or what they did afterwards?
John: We had the joy of when we visiting Boston to see some guy wandering around with leather pants and a black cap. We were wondering who he was.
Anthony: We played before with the Delgados. This guy came backstage and was talking about magic tricks. This guy was David Lovering of The Pixies. He's a good drummer. He's a good magician as well.
AL: Did you play in other bands before?
John: I was in a band called Tungsten Crust. The bass player left the band to be a Buddhist monk. Now he is fully ordained. We used to have long conversations about if he invested too much time into the band he would be compromising his spirituality. I argued that they are both inextricably linked. He had this duplicity of thought and that led him towards Buddhism. The Buddhist doctrine is pushing away all the trapping of the physical world.
AL: That has to do with the body and desire.
John: Exactly. He felt that all these cravings were illusions. They caused too much trouble and pain. He was obsessed with idea of striving for something equals pain. Why should you meditate and get wise, how can you help other people? How can you be useful unless you are living day-to-day life? Buddhists claim that the strongest they get at meditation the better they are at leaving their physical body and have an effect on the world. So there is a strong element of magic involved in that. I believe that you can have all that going on without testing it.
AL: Since we are all sluts of trust, we don't know where we came from or where we are going. We just trust that we are indeed alive and try to enjoy ourselves.
Anthony: We have to trust each other as well.
John: Hypocrisy is disgusting. We all shit in the pan. No one is perfect. Some are less perfect. In that way some people can justify murdering of boycotting other people's rights because they don't believe in God for the same reasons that they do. It comes down to economic privileges and that is utterly disgusting. There is so more righteousness and things done in the name of good and justice. If you want to use the allegory of telephones. There are all types of telephones that dial the same number. Who is to say that their telephone is better than the next person?
AL: What do you think about trust?
John: It happens all over. It's got to a stage where everyone thinks that other people are going to rip him or her off. It's do or die. It's rip off or be ripped off. That is a horrible set of circumstances to be in. That causes so much unnecessary stress and compromises the quality of life. You can't be crying about it all your life. If you are not going to be part of the solution then you are definitely not going to be part of the problem.
AL: Do you ever get a reaction just because the name, Sluts of Trust?
John: We had a show in Glasgow. These teenage girls had written "Sexist Bollocks" on the poster. I thought that was weird. If they think that only women can be called sluts, then they are being sexist. They thought that only women are called that. But guys are bigger sluts than women. You know the old adage: it's easier for a girl to get laid, than a guy. Anyone can make a slut of himself or herself.
AL: How did you choose the name?
John: We wrote down somewhere between eighty and a hundred words that we both liked. We wrote them on pieces of individual paper and put them in a tube. Three weeks later we put all the pieces of paper on a card. We came up with five suggestions. We didn't want to force it. We had exhausted ourselves thinking about it. So I got my friend Fiona. I thought that she would be able to pick the best name. I knew it. I said, "Fi, I need your help." She went through the names and said, "Sluts of Trust? That is bizarre." There was a glint in her eye. I knew that was the one. I gave her a hug. I told her that we were going to call the band that.
AL: You played a cover song. It was Talking Heads "Psycho Killer."
Anthony: There is only one reason we have done a cover song. We talked about it but we have never done any before. You know John Peel, the British DJ? We did a session for him around Christmas. You are almost obliged to do a cover version for him. It's the done thing. The Delgados did it. The Pixies did it. We chose to do "Psycho Killer." Occasionally when we are playing a show and it's going well and the audience could take more of us we bring it out.
AL: The set is mostly just the album then?
John: We play every song except "Dominoes" and "Pirate Weekend." We haven't played "Pirate Weekend" live yet. So maybe we will save that for a special show in Glasgow perhaps.
AL: Can you pull it off?
John: Of course we can. All the drums and guitars are recorded live. The vocals were recorded second. There are two guitar overdubs. I am playing the exact same part twice so you can pan both guitars in each speaker. It happens a few times on the album.
AL: Did you work with the Delgados with this record?
Anthony: Yeah. Paul Savage who is the drummer of the Delgados produced it. He also did the first albums by Mogwai, Arab Strap, and Aerogramme. He's a good cunt. It's not necessary that he does every Chemikal Underground record, but they thought it was a good idea for him to work with us.
AL: Are you playing some festivals this summer?
Anthony: We are playing in Belgium in a few weeks.
AL: On some of your songs you have a Black Sabbath/Van Halen vibe. Do you like those records?
John: Sure.
AL: Do you have any cowbells?
Anthony: I have two cowbells. I have no use for them on the first album.
AL: Have you seen any metal bands play?
John: My brother can play all the heavy metal shite with his eyes close. I got to see him up close. He has the technique. It is what it is.
AL: You meet a lot of girls at the shows?
John: I find myself being with girls who haven't seen the show. They came to the club afterwards. Or I met them at a party afterwards. It doesn't work out that I am with a girl who has seen the show, and I like it better that way.
Website: www.slutsoftrust.co.uk
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2/24/2006

Blast from the PAST 2000: SUPERGRASS

Supergrass came into the British scene about five years ago with their first album I Should Coco. They were from Oxford and added some light to Radiohead's dark. Gaz Coombes, David Goffey, and Mick Quinn became a success in the high year of Britpop, 1995.

After five years, many of those bands are no longer with us due to drugs and record company mergers. But Supergrass, with their new third album seem ready for some American notice. We always take a few years to get into something, and it takes a few albums for us to consider it a serious relationship. Supergrass has recently broken into some serious Britney Spears time on MTV, with their video "Pumping On Your Stereo." Their tour this spring has been nearly sold out, including three sold out nights in Los Angeles, where I saw them, at The Roxy, in Hollywood. Their show was strong and they stuck to the hits and most people were up for it. They played with a keyboardist, Rob Coombes. Next fall we will be hearing more from Supergrass when they tour with Pearl Jam. I talked to bassist Mick Quinn right before the tour started in New York City, at The Bowery Ballroom.

***

Interview with Bassist Mick Quinn

AL: I was over in London a few months ago and saw the "Pumping On Your Stereo" video. I thought it was brilliant. How did that come about?

Mick: It's pretty straightforward really. We couldn't use our regular directors because they were too busy doing another video. We looked around for some other directors, and we came up with Gus Jennings, who had worked with other people like Bentley Rhythm Aces. The puppets was his idea. It looked like the most interesting thing to do. Our other video for "Mary" was just us playing in the basement of a house with the family upstairs.

AL: You came out with this record pretty fast.

Mick: We spent a year touring the album before. We had a month holiday. Then we spent three months writing songs for the new album. So it was a fast turnaround really. We spend a lot of time on tour at soundchecks writing new stuff or coming up with new ideas. This is just one album in a long line of them.

AL: You are all from Oxford?

Mick: Pretty much. I'm seven years older than Gaz Coombes. Ten years ago I was probably kicking his head in at the playground. He was a little kid. We used to see each other around. I knew Gaz's brother, Rob, who plays keyboards in the band. We all have the same sense of humor, so it does make life easier. What Rob does in the band is quite comfortable. I don't think he's interested in having his face in magazines or doing interviews. He's never been forced into it.

AL: Danny Goffey is also the silent member in another band, Lodger. What do you think of Lodger and doing things outside of the band?

Mick: They do some quite interesting music. I get enough from Supergrass that I don't need to do any side projects. It's fair enough if Danny wants to do that because he's an energetic person. He needs things like that to inspire him.

AL: What are your expectations for this American tour? You've done tours here before, but it seems that people are ready to see Supergrass this time around.

Mick: My expectations are to sell more records and to have a higher profile in America. I don't really have any more expectations for our gigs in America. We've played live before and we've gone down really well. I'm not too worried about playing the gigs. It's the other end of it that I'm worried about, like what the record company are going to do to promote us, and can we catch the imagination of the media, as well with the live audience. It's apparent that we're bigger in Europe and Britain, than we are in America. You shouldn't think that you'll be able to crack the States anymore than anywhere else. I can't think of any British band that has cracked wholeheartedly in the States in the last ten years. If it takes ten or fifteen years to make it big in America, I don't really care. I'm not in a big hurry.

AL: How do you go about creating the songs? Does Gaz come up with some ideas and the band responds?

Mick: Not really. We all write pretty equally. We all come up with original ideas. Danny came up with the original idea for "I Should Coco." Gaz wrote most of "Moving." Or I came up with "Mary" on the new album. It's all very equal. No one is the main songwriter or lyricist or anything. It's a three-way split in every sense of the word.

AL: The new record seems upbeat and positive. Does that reflect a feeling of the last few years?

Mick: I don't know if it's upbeat or the last one was downbeat. We wanted to create a lot more space and air in the songs. It's more of a relaxed album I think. I don't know if it has anything to do with our psyche. I don't know if we're generally more happy now than in the past. I think that we're generally more relaxed about things if anything.

AL: Was Glam music and David Bowie always an influence?

Mick: Yeah, well on "Pumping." There's two elements of we are into Glam music and I'm a Bowie fan. It also comes from the production on the record, and the fact that we're basically producing it ourselves. We don't know how to do a professional job, so we just throw it together and it ends up sounding like a Glam track. There were certain instances where Danny didn't hit the snare loud enough so we all had to clap over the snare. In the end it sounds like Bowie. We like to produce things ourselves because it's cheaper.

AL: Are you doing some Festivals this summer?

Mick: Yeah. We're doing V2000 and T in The Park. One in Greece. We played most of the major festivals in 1995. It's going to be a busy year.



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2/21/2006

The Sex Pistols

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2/18/2006

The Infinite Beat #1

The Infinite Beat: the first edition
Feb 16th, 2006
By alexander laurence


The first night was a success. I was happy because I had ten days to tell everyone about it. There was little advertisement. But people showed up anyway. There was the usual crowd. Plus a few friends turned up. I think that I played almost 70 songs over three and a half hours. And there was about 100 people or more coming in and out through the night. Thanks to everyone who participated in this experiment.

The songs that were played are as follows:

Walter Carlos “Henry Purcell’s Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary” (A Clockwork Orange)
The Von Bondies “C’mon C’mon”
The Strokes “Juicebox”
The Subways “Rock and Roll Queen”
BRMC “Stop”
Editors “Blood”
LCD Soundsystem “Disco Infiltrator”
The White Stripes “Blue Orchid”
Maximo Park “Apply Some Pressure”
The Libertines “Can’t Stand Me Now”

Gorillaz “Kids With Guns”
Giant Drag “Kevin Is Gay”
Wolfmother “Dimensions”
Morningwood “Nth Degree”
Led Zeppelin “Heartbreaker”
The Rolling Stones “Paint It Black”
John Barry and Tom Jones “Thunderball”
The Visitors “Theme from The Wild Angels”
Mu “Tigerbastard”
Bebe Buell “Funtime”
The Warlocks “Suicide Note”

Pulp “Disco 2000”
Interpol “Slow Hands” (Britt Daniel Remix)
Black Wire “The Face”
DFA 1979 “Romantic Rights”
The Morning After Girls “Run For Our Lives”
The Sounds “Song With A Mission”
Annie “Chewing Gum”
Electric Six “Vibrator”
The Like “Falling Away”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Y Control” (Faint Remix)

Living Things “Bom Bom Bom”
The Kills “The Good Ones”
Nine Black Alps “Cosmopolitan”
The Soundtrack of Our Lives “Heading For A Breakdown”
MIA “Bucky Done Gun”
Doves “Some Cities”
Madonna “Hung Up”
Art Brut “Good Weekend”
Broadcast “American Boy”
Giant Drag “My Dick Sux”

The Greenhornes “I’m Going Away”
Mercury Rev “In A Funny Way”
Brian Jonestown Massacre “Servo”
Fischerspooner “Emerge” (DFA version)
Ping Pong Bitches “Gatecrasher”
BRMC “White Palms”
Alice Cooper “School’s Out”
The Rolling Stones “Under My Thumb”
Prodigy “Under My Wheels” (remix)
Led Zeppelin “Living Loving Maid”

The Von Bondies “Not That Social”
The Kills “Fried My Little Brains”
The Go! Team “Ladyflash”
Test Icicles “Circle Square Triangle”
Pulp “Common People”
The Tears “Refugees”
The Warlocks “Come Save Us”
The Walkmen “Little House of Savages”
Giant Drag “This Isn’t It”
Annie “Happy Without You”

The Delgados “I Fought The Angels”
The White Stripes “The Denial Twist”
Secret Machines “Nowhere Again”
Doves “Black And White Town”
The Fiery Furnaces “Tropical Ice-Land”
The Libertines “What Became of the Likely Lads”
BRMC “We’re All In Love”
ACDC “Shoot To Thrill”
Morningwood “Knock On Wood”

If you like this sort of music, The Infinite Beat #2 will happened at
Broadway Bar on Thursday March 9th. There will be a bunch of surprises and new music
all the time. For sure, next time we will be hearing more Goldfrapp and Primal
Scream.


The Portable Infinite: www.portable-infinite.blogspot.com
The i n f i n i t e BEAT #2 thurs Mar 9th:
http://www.thebroadwaybar.net/ MUSIC dancing DRINKS

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2/17/2006

Coachella

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2/15/2006

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs



Yeah Yeah Yeahs U.S. ...GOLD GOLD LION LION

"Gold Lion" is now up on iTunes. Buy it now
and get bonus track free! Yes kids, it's 2 deals in one, but for a limited time only. The folks at iTunes have made things a little confusing, so what you have to do is select "buy album" to get both.

LIVE March 4th and 5th @ Troubadour
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2/14/2006

The Go! Team



The debut album by The Go! Team, Thunder, Lightning, Strike, has made an impact on British music in a very short time. It was all started by leader Ian Parton five years ago. He had an old sampler and a four-track recording machine. Their sound, a combination of samples and live musicians, has been described as "Sonic Youth meets the Jackson 5." Better than that: various songs sound like Cop Shows, Blaxploitation movies, Charlie Brown cartoons, and Wild Kingdom reruns.

The Go! Team started in Brighton. Ian Parton was working as documentary filmmaker. When he started making the album there was a filmic soundtrack influence. Soon that side project became The Go! Team's original sound. Tracks like "Ladyflash" and "The Power Is On" became theme songs for the summer. There is a lot of cheerleading, rap music, and northern soul influences too. The more the merrier.

What was the beginning of an album that was finished some time in early 2004. At that time there was no real band. When they were offered to support Franz Ferdinand in Sweden they started getting a proper band together. The band consists of Ian Parton (guitar/drums/harmonica), and Sam Dook (guitar), and Jamie Bell (bass guitar). But most of the members play several other instruments, and change things around. Soon there were three girls in the band too, with Fukami Taylor (guitar) and Silke (drums), and Ninja (vocals).

The album was released in the UK in September 2004 and was really popular. It even almost won the Mercury Prize. They have played a lot of festivals and have become popular in America beforehand. Their album was sample heavy so it took a while for all the samples to be cleared. There is an illegal version of the album with all the original samples. They have blown away audiences worldwide with their electrifying stage show. I got to speak to Ninja right before they came back to California to play some shows with Smoosh, another recent favorite.

AL: When did the band come together?
Ninja: The band came together actually last May 2004. Ian Parton was bringing in people one by one. He wanted to bring the music to life. He wanted to make a live show. I was the last person to join in May. We did our first gig literally two weeks later in Sweden in front of three thousand people. We were thrown in together. We have been together about a year and half now. So we are really still a new band.

AL: Was that the tour with Franz Ferdinand?
Ninja: Um. We did play with Franz Ferdinand. I didn't know who they were at that time. We never got to meet them. We played some of the same festivals. The festival in Sweden was really good.

AL: By the time you joined the band was most of the album written?
Ninja: Ian actually made the whole album himself. He wrote all the music himself. He started writing in 2000 or 2001. It was an ongoing process and he kept on doing it. The album came together over many years. At that point he managed to get other people into it. He wrote everything and got us together to play onstage. We all bring our different elements to the band. We all bring something different to the live shows.

AL: Are you doing all the rapping on the record?
Ninja: There are two versions of the album that were released. The first version came out in the UK in September 2004. It is actually an illegal version of the album because none of the samples had been cleared. Ian didn't have any aspirations to make any money from the album. He didn't think anyone would be interested. It was like "We are not going to make any money, so there is no need to clear these samples." But when it came out there was quite a demand. People kept on asking us for it. This summer we got signed to Sony BMG. We were on a smaller label before, Memphis Industries. If people want to buy it, and so we can make a living out of it, all the samples had to be cleared. That took a few months to sort out.

AL: People don't do sample heavy albums anymore because it's too hard to clear all that stuff. What were some of the harder samples to get cleared? What was the most expensive samples on the record?
Ninja: I don't know anything off the top of my head. I know "Ladyflash" has been given away. We don't have any of that song. It has been given away 100% to the singer. Half of "Bottle Rocket" has been given away as well. I think that Ian cares more about the music than making money. He has always been fighting to keep the songs as close to the original version of the album. There have been a couple of changes. You wouldn't have noticed really unless you were a diehard fan of the first original version.

AL: What was your background? Were you in bands before The Go! Team?
Ninja: I wasn't in bands before. I was still in university. I just graduated a few weeks ago. I was studying finals exams at university and traveling around the world with The Go! Team at the same time. That was difficult for me. I have always been writing lyrics. I was doing that way back when I was 12 or 13 years old. I come from a hiphop background. Coming into the Go! Team like I did was quite a challenge for me. It's a different atmosphere and music. When we play at festivals we are playing with a lot of bands that I would not normally listen to. The rock and indie music scene is not really the scene that I come from. It's quite exciting to be involved in it.

AL: What kind of music did you listen to?
Ninja: I listened to everything. I was into classic music and jazz. I am mainly into hiphop. I like the real hiphop with loads of swearing. I like those CDs with stickers that say "Parental Advisory" and "Explicit Lyrics." The proper hiphop is all about people getting shot in the neighborhood. It is all violence. I like that kind of hiphop. Because It was real and they were rapping about what they know. It's gone all bling with girls in bikinis and flash cars. It's not real anymore. It's putting me off. I have been listening to older hiphop. I like Ghostface Killa and DMX. I like artists who laugh at themselves and have a good energy onstage.

AL: Do you like NWA?
Ninja: I used to love NWA and Dr. Dre's early stuff. I also like Gravediggaz and Cypress Hill. I like the raw hiphop. I don't like that stuff that is like R&B.

AL: Have your been to some of the neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Los Angeles were a lot of hiphop comes from?
Ninja: I would really love to check out the neighborhoods and check out the scene but I haven't had any time on these tours. I am not inspired by any rappers in the charts at the moment. There is nothing really original at the moment. I think the British hiphop scene is coming out at the moment. There is a little bit more punch to it. It's not about cars and the money.

AL: What do you think of people like Dizzee Rascal and Lady Sovereign?
Ninja: I am proud of them. They are young. They are doing their own thing. They have attitude. They are doing really well at the moment. But personally, it's not my kind of music. I am glad that Dizzee did things his way. He paid for records to get done. He did it on his own. They call that Grime and Garage. I am more into hiphop, which is different. Some people get those two mixed up.

AL: How did you meet Ian?
Ninja: I was just surfing the net. I was looking for singing and acting auditions. I saw an advert for "Old school hiphop rapper wanted." I sent him an email. He sent me a CD. I listened it for two weeks. It took me a while to get my head around it. It was so unique that I didn't say, "Hey, I want to play." It was dizzy, different, chaotic, rocking, happy. It was so much. I was figuring what I was going to do. Ian wanted me to write lyrics for the live show. I was wondering how I was going to fit in. People think of rapping as being a certain way. The Go! Team really pushes the boundaries. There can be rapping, singing, and shouting. There is so many possibilities. It is not as restrictive as modern rap is at the moment.

AL: How has the live show evolved over the past year and how is it different from the record?
Ninja: It's two different entities. To know what The Go! Team is about you need to see the live show and hear the album. The live show is so hectic. So much is happening onstage. People are running around and changing instruments. Sometimes it is two people and sometimes it's all six of us. People can expect the unexpected. It might be a rocking fast tune followed by a slow tune. We have a lot of visuals going on as well now. The visuals encompass the spirit of the Go! Team. We make very visual music. It's like a party on stage. We have a lot of fun. When someone smiles you want to smile back. If we are having a good time onstage we hope that the audience is having a good time as well.

AL: What is the song "Ladyflash" about?
Ninja: That song has so many influences. It has a 1960s girl group feel, a soul feel, some flutes and strings. It's all wrapped up together in one song. It's a laid-back sunshine type of song. It has so many genres. It is one of our favorites to play.

AL: "The Power Is On" is very popular.
Ninja: It's quite different from the album to the live show. On the album it is quite cheerleader-y, and thrash, and in your face. In the live show it is different. It is more aggressive and political. It's more angry and powerful. It sounds quite different. It has a military theme about it as well. I love that song.

AL: "We Won't Be Defeated" is another cheerleader type song.
Ninja: Yeah. We do a few songs with dancers. They are like 18 year old. They sing and do freestyle dancing. They have a girl gang vibe. They will be at most of the shows. It's a powerful hiphop songs. We have three or four dancers with us for the bigger shows and the TV shows. We were nominated for the Mercury Prize. We had all the girl dancers there. That was a big deal for us.

AL: Getting back to the Mercury Prize, did you get depressed that they gave it to some American guy this year?
Ninja: You can say that because you are American. But if I say something like that I sound bitter. I wasn't sad at all. We were glad that we didn't win because there is a Mercury Prize curse. People win it and then you don't hear about them anymore. If we won there would have been so much pressure on us. We would have had to tour for six months straight. We are used to maybe four weeks of touring and then going back to our regular lives. I think we should have won because we are so different. All those people in England watched this guy win the award and then go back to America. They are not going to know what the new bands are in England.

By alexander laurence

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2/12/2006

Giant Drag: New Tour

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April 30, 2006
Empire Polo Field: Indio, CA US Giant Drag


May 2, 2006
Sokol Underground: Omaha, NE US Pretty Girls Make Graves - Giant Drag


May 3, 2006
Triple Rock: Minneapolis, MN US Pretty Girls Make Graves - Giant Drag


May 4, 2006
Mad Planet: Milwaukee, WI US Pretty Girls Make Graves - Giant Drag


May 5, 2006
Metro: Chicago, IL US Pretty Girls Make Graves - Giant Drag


May 8, 2006
Grog Shop: Cleveland Heights, OH US Pretty Girls Make Graves - Giant Drag


May 9, 2006
The Buffalo Icon: Buffalo, NY US Pretty Girls Make Graves - Giant Drag

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2/11/2006

The Stills

The Stills
interview by Alexander Laurence

Montreal band The Stills are arguably the hottest band in New York City. They are often compared to Interpol and other bands with art punk leanings. Even though Echo & The Bunnymen and Joy Division have clearly inspired them, The Stills offer something fresh and unique. The Stills are Tim Fletcher (vocals/guitar), Dave Hamelin (drums), Greg Paquet (guitar), and Oliver Crow (bass guitar). They have known each other ever since they were kids.
After attending various art schools, they decided to start writing music while they crashed on some friends' couches in Williamsburg for a few months. They liked Brooklyn so much that they stayed and started recording. By summer 2002, the band had a set of new songs and were signed to Vice Records soon after. They have supported bands such as The Music, The Rapture, The Streets, Yeah Yeah Yeah's and even Interpol. They wowed audiences at CMJ and opened for Echo and The Bunnymen and Ryan Adams.
The band's full-length debut Logic Will Break Your Heart was released in October 2003. It was a critical success. They will be touring the States again in late January and February 2004. I spoke to lead singer Tim Fletcher during the holidays.

AL: You are on tour still right now. How is it going?
Tim: It's going good. We just finished some dates with Ryan Adams. Now we are going to play the Midwest, back to Atlanta, and back to New York, on our own. All the shows have been great. Playing with Ryan Adams was awesome. He is a fun and enthusiastic person and performer, so it has been fun to watch him and hang out with him every night.
AL: It was different than touring with Echo and The Bunnymen?
Tim: Yeah. All the tours are different from Interpol to Echo and The Bunnymen. It was refreshing to go to Canada with Ryan Adams. He has this alt-country thing going on. He has a different approach to writing songs. He is a talented guy.
AL: People compare you to Interpol very often.
Tim: We are friends with them. Interpol and The Stills both have one album out, and we are both new bands on the scene. There is a similar esthetic, which makes people appreciative of our music. With Echo and The Bunnymen, there was an older crowd, but they were interested in hearing new music. We get compared to them too. So their audience seemed to like us. With Ryan Adams the audiences wanted to hear a more specific type of music, and they wanted to see just Ryan Adams. So it was more challenging to win them over in that respect.
AL: How long have you known the other members of the band?
Tim: We are from Montreal. I have known Dave for ten years. Dave and Oliver have known each other since they were four years old. We have been friends with Greg for about two years. We all moved to Williamsburg where a bunch of ex-Montreal friends were living. They managed us and we worked on our music there. They had moved to the corner of Grand and Union about seven years ago in 1996. We were all shacked up there working on our music for the past two summers.
AL: Did you know that you were living next door to bands like The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Interpol?
Tim: Not at first. Then you realize that you see some vegetarian stores and white hipsters so you must be living in a privileged neighborhood. Obviously it was a hip place. Then I started to hear more about it. The second you start bitching about it, you are targeting yourself, because you are there with them. I didn't know what was going on at first. Then I realized that there were other bands and artists.
AL: Did you grow up with musical families?
Tim: My grandfather always sang a little bit. My grandparents were British and they liked music and theater. Oliver's parents always encouraged him to do music. They were always listening to music like Dire Straits, U2, Led Zeppelin, and The Beatles. No one in The Stills comes from a musical family. All our families played records and were into music.
AL: Does your family come out to shows and follow the band?
Tim: Yeah. I played in a few other bands before with members of The Stills. My parents were wondering what the hell I was doing. My parents wanted me to stay in school. They had a very pragmatic approach to it. Now that things are going very well, they are definitely into the music. I guess they are proud, but that's not the point.
AL: How did it go doing the Carson Daly show?
Tim: It is weird to be in that context. You get to see the inter-workings of a television show. I guess it was okay to have done it. A bunch of our friends were there. They would pull a bunch of people for the audience and put them in front of the stage where we played. It's sort of contrived. But people were really enthusiastic. People were helpful. I think that we sounded really good. We were treated really well.
AL: I saw the Carson Daly in New York a few weeks ago. They work very fast even though it's taped.
Tim: Saturday Night Live used that stage to rehearse. They practice their sketches there at Rockerfeller Center. I think that they have a time frame that they have to work within.
AL: Are there other bands that you like?
Tim: We like Fleetwood Mac recently. I have been listening to Tortoise. I like Blonde Redhead. I like all sort of bands. Now that we are in a band, and we are touring, we have access to all sorts of music. There are all sorts of records that I can listen to and find inspiration. I have been listening to Clinic, Ryan Adams, Cat Power this year.
AL: Do people ever heckle you from the audience or do fights break out?
Tim: No. I can't say that they do. They don't really heckle us. They will be at the front and they will yell in between songs. Sometimes people will be yelling at Dave: "You are crazy, man!" There are jocks who are there to see Ryan Adams. They yell stuff. It is never bad. They are usually respectful. If someone is being a jerk you just shrug it off and joke with it. You can just point the guy out and that takes care of that. All the attention is pointed towards that guy. He is embarrassed.
AL: Are you going to tour in 2004?
Tim: Yeah. There will be a headlining tour in the States. We are going to go to England. We will be on tour all year.
AL: Who writes the words and the music in The Stills?
Tim: It's divided between Dave and me. We both have eight track machines. We will write our songs and ideas on those machines. Sometimes we will get together and investigate possible ideas. Dave writes about three-quarters of the songs. He writes faster than I do. We try to bring the songs to the other members and we will recreate them in a live context. We try to come up with musical variations on these songs. Dave and I both write lyrics. We go over them and touch them up.
AL: Do you feel weird singing Dave's lyrics?
Tim: No, not at all. He writes great lyrics and I can relate to them. They are beautiful lyrics and great melodies. I can sing and emote my own songs but I can also sings words that ring true to me. We have discussions about this. How do I feel about singing his songs? I feel great because they are good songs.
AL: Is this album live takes or did you work with a producer?
Tim: We definitely worked with a producer. Gus Van Go is our manager and producer. We recorded all the drums one week live on Pro Tools. All the other instruments we recorded on Pro Tools as well. We recorded a mix of amplifiers and guitars straight through the board with a thing called The Pod. It simulates amplifier sounds. It would be difficult to produce otherwise. It wasn't very live. It was a very meticulous track-by-track thing. We recorded it in June and July of 2003, during the past summer. We did it in Williamsburg.
AL: There is a mood in the music of The Stills that is a feeling of romantic longing and melancholy. Is that something that you try to do?
Tim: I think so. I think that is one aspect of our music. I think that it is tempered with some hopefulness. Melancholy is a good thing. It is partly our mission to prove that.
AL: Your song "Of Montreal": is that about the band?
Tim: It was subconsciously about them.
AL: Is there a person named Allison Krausse?
Tim: There is a bluegrass singer but that is not who we are talking about. The last name is a fictitious name. It's really attributed to someone who we knew.
AL: Do you read a lot of books?
Tim: I think that we all read a lot. I read a book called The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot. It describes the general nature of the universe in very layman's terms. It's a very scientific discussion of matter in the universe. Greg just read All Families Are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland. Our keyboard player is reading Dune. Oliver and I are reading books by Tom Robbins. Skinny Legs and All is a phenomenal book. We read a lot of crappy magazines.
AL: Do you have any favorite films?
Tim: I really like the films of Fellini. I really like La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2. I like the fact that they are fantastical and dreamlike. Those films are about searching for fulfillment and happiness. I like a lot of German directors.
AL: Have you done any videos?
Tim: We did a video for "Lola Stars and Stripes." In January, we will be doing one for "Still in Love Song" in Montreal. We shot the first one in Spanish Harlem. The video is one shot and one take. It's wartime. There is a climax and war breaks out and everyone starts scattering, running on the streets, and getting blown away. It's not cheesy. It's done with a war documentary style camera shooting. It looks like a film reel of news footage. Not TV news. I am very happy with it.
AL: What songs are you playing live now? Do you have any new songs?
Tim: Not yet. There are still some songs on the album that we haven't played live yet, like "Animals + Insects" and "Yesterday Never Tomorrows." I think that we will play those songs live before we start playing new material live. I think that next year we will be incorporating new material into the set.
AL: What is your favorite part of music?
Tim: There is something to be said about a live show and everything is going well. But when you are with your four-track and a song is coming together in your bedroom. That feeling of writing songs is why I am doing music and playing music. That is why I do this at all.
AL: You were supposed to do some shows in Los Angeles with Interpol in February 2003. You cancelled. What happened?
Tim: There was a giant snowstorm in New York City and we were there. They closed down JFK and most of the airports on the east coast. We were supposed to play in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, but we couldn't do it because we were snowed in.
photos by Danna Kinsky

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2/10/2006

The Infinite Beat on February 16th, 2006

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WHO: The Infinite Beat @ Broadway Bar

WHEN: THIS THURSDAY FEB 16TH 10PM TILL LATE

WHERE: The Broadway Bar - 830 S. Broadway, LA 90014 (near Eighth Street).
Very close to 7th Street Metro (Red and Blue lines). 213 614-9909

Website: http://www.thebroadwaybar.net/

HOW: FREE

WHAT: The Broadway Bar is this cool place in Downtown LA next to the Orpheum.
They have Indie Rock Nights on Thursday. I will doing it every two weeks
starting on Feb 16th, 2006. I have been out looking for cool records. My night is
going to be called "The Infinite Beat." Music: Indie rock, Britpop, New LA
Bands, Classic Rock, Glam Rock and Movie Soundtracks.

WHY: SEE YOU THERE FOR DRINKS AND MUSIC.


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2/09/2006

Oceansize

Oceansize
By Alexander Laurence

Oceansize are one of the few epic songwriting bands in the post-Radiohead era. They are far from a single-minded band. All their songs are created with input from all five members. Their influences ran the gamut from prog rock and old heavy metal to alternative metal, shoegazers, and even the avant-garde noise. They dismiss the label of "New Prog." They released one of the most original records of the year: Effloresce. They are very average looking fellows who can make some powerful noises.
Oceansize is Mike Vennart (vocals/guitar), Gambler (guitar, Steve Durose (guitar), Jon Ellis (bass), and Mark Herrin (drums). With their intimidating live shows, their Marshall stacks, and several strong independent releases they got named Manchester's best-unsigned band. The following year, they toured with the Cooper Temple Clause and made an appearance at SXSW. Shortly after, Oceansize were signed and quickly issued their first widely distributed Relapse EP. After another EP they made some successful tours and set their sights on America. I met them in Los Angeles, which was there first visit ever to the West Coast. I watched them get photographed for a magazine spread. It was bizarre because the photographer slipped and cut his leg and was forced to take photos while bleeding severely.
The album Effloresce was released stateside in April 2004. They were in the midst of a tour with Mclusky. I spoke to Mike Vennart and Steve Durose.
******

AL: What part of Manchester do you live in?
Steve: We all live in the Old Trafford area of Manchester. None of us were actually born there. The drummer is from Scotland. Three of the guys are from Yorkshire. Old Trafford is a very hip area. There is a lot of music in that area. A lot of bands live in Chorlton.
AL: Is there a bohemian crowd that hangs out there?
Mike: There is a lot of clubs and bars there. They have been coming under ridiculous threats at the moment after a number of complaints. The mafia took over the nightlife for a number of years and there was a lot of gun trouble.
AL: How did you all meet each other?
Steve: We all went to college there. We started a few different bands there. We came from all over like I said.
AL: What were some of the previous bands you played in like?
Mike: Pretty terrible. We were in a grunge band. When I met Steve I asked him to be the new guitarist. I wanted to be experimental and unusual and still write pop songs. We were terrible at it. We didn't go anywhere for a while. When we got a new rhythm section, we re-thought what we were doing and got better. We had more vision. Although we don't all like the same music and have different tastes, we can see clearly where our music needs the most work.
AL: What do you think of the idea of if you want to really be a revolutionary band, you have to rethink the whole guitar/bass/drums dilemma? You have to include the glockenspiel, the accordion, and the ukulele.
Mike: That is more like Talk Talk's style. You have to apply that to everyone and every band. You have to absorb what everyone else has done and do something different. Any ideas and riffs that sound generic don't get used.
AL: How do you write the songs in the band?
Steve: It's like a jamming process. It's been like that since we first started. All the songs on the first album have come from jams. We record all the rehearsals and the writing process that happens with jamming. We try to hear all the little gems that come from the jams. We work on those sections. Since we work in that sort of process there is not one single songwriter. It's always a group effort.
AL: You self-released a few EPs over the years?
Mike: Yeah, we did two or three. Some of those songs like "One Day All This Could Be Yours" we did them again with Chris Sheldon. We felt that the previous versions of some songs weren't very representative. They were good songs. When we did them again, I think the songs were allowed to shine. One of our first songs was called "Relapse." There were many versions of that song. It ended up being on the Relapse EP.
AL: Have you played a lot of shows?
Mike: I guess. I haven't counted them.
AL: How did you meet the producer Chris Sheldon?
Steve: He had produced a few records that we liked such as Biffy Clyro. Chris was interested in working with us. We didn't know him. But we met him and Chris is a nice guy. He was interested in experimenting. We thought let's go for it.
Mike: His records sound great. He is very forward thinking. He knows how to manage the time. That's important because time is money.
AL: He did a lot of live takes?
Mike: Yeah, we some live takes. We did some overdubs to smooth things out. It's a nightmare to mix all these guitar sounds and pedals. You do have to layer the sound.
AL: You use a lot of guitar petals and effects?
Mike: Yeah. We have so many different sounds. We are trying to create these different atmospheres. There is a song on the album "Rinsed" that is not really 100% live, because the original idea we had for the song wasn't working out. We had to figure out what to do. We had a three-note bassline. We had to work out a new tune around that. We just had a jam. It was a late night. That was the first take of it. They wanted to trim it and make it an intro to the album. We thought it was too good so we left the whole thing intact.
AL: Oceansize seems like you have psychedelic rock, pop music, and hard songs, and each song can wander in any direction.
Mike: In Britain we get tarred and feathered by the press as a "New Progressive" act. We do like Pink Floyd and a bit of Black Sabbath but there are a million more things we have been more influenced by. It all depends on what you think Prog Rock is.
AL: It is a lot of lazy journalists who think that all music reminds them of something previous. I don't think that bands sit around and listen to Velvet Underground and then copy it.
Mike: In our band nobody likes the same music. We would never sit around playing each other records. Most of the time nobody is going to share the brilliance of a record with you. There are only certain records that we all loved together.
AL: What records did you like growing up then?
Steve: We went through a rock phase when we were kids. We liked Guns & Roses and Metallica. There are other records that are embedded in my skull and are genuine influences on me like Brian Wilson, Nick Drake, and people like that. I love those records. If you ask the other members of the band maybe these prefer other records.
AL: Some of those people that you mentioned spent a lot of time in the studio. Do you want to spend a lot of time in the studio and do a Pet Sounds?
Mike: No. That would cost a shitload of money. We are not prepared at this point to make that gamble. The more money you spend on a record you increase the chances of never releasing another record. It would be a challenge to build our own studio and learn to use that as a tool for our advantage. We could do whatever we want.


AL: Your friends, the Cooper Temple Clause, bought some barn outside Redding and built a studio and did their second record there.
Steve: Their record sounds fucking brilliant. It sounds a lot better than their first one. They built their own place and make a record that sound twenty times better. Their first one cost a lot more to make. They are sorted. They don't need a record company.
AL: Is there someone in your band who is more technically minded and more into engineering?
Mike: John Ellis, our bass player, is the one who deals with computer stuff all the time. He's getting very studio minded. He produced some of the demos. He can get sketches of songs down. He's learning to mix things well.
AL: What do your families think of the band?
Steve: My folks love it. They are really behind me on it. I am lucky to have parents that want me to do well with what I love.
AL: Do you have any musicians in your family?
Mike: My uncle is the only musician in my family. He is actually coming to our New York show at Mercury Lounge. My parents are all very supportive. They pay my rent for a start. My dad has only seen us once in five years. My mum comes out all the time. I could just fart onstage for half an hour and they would think it was fucking genius.
AL: You have played with a lot of new bands. Are there any new bands that we should look out for?
Mike: Me personally? I like this band from London called The Cardiacs. They have been good. They have been a favorite of mine for ten years now. They are really clever. I never get sick of hearing them. We have played with them before. It was a bizarre experience. In the middle of their set, they wanted us to play one of their songs in our own style. We spent two weeks learning this complicated two-minute song.
AL: It was like a homework assignment.
Steve: God yes. You can get it on the net. There is a good MP3 of it. It's a good bootleg.
AL: They don't write about your band much in the NME?
Steve: The NME does not back up because we are not fashion oriented.
AL: They are announcing to the public that a band can change your life. Since some of their readers are fifteen and have only heard five records they believe it and go out and buy something like Franz Ferdinand or The Libertines.
Mike: It's a tabloid. It's sensationalist. They can control what everyone says and does career-wise. The NME created the career of The Strokes. They don't have pictures of bands unless they have the right clothes or the right hair. If they interview you, they want to hear about sex, drugs, and rock and roll stories. If you don't have any, then they have nothing to write about. They don't like to write about music.
AL: They seem to write about Pete from The Libertines. He is always having drugs problems and quitting the band.
Mike: That is a great story. It's a shame their music is dogshit. All that "I'm a Cockney" shit. I don't mind rough and ragged lo-fi stuff. I used to be a big Pavement fan. It's not anyone's fault. When a band gets hyped up so much, when you get around to hearing it, you are disappointed. Everything you read was bullshit. Some of these bands are not crap. It's just that nobody can live up to the hype, unless you are Nirvana, who truly is going to be one of the greatest bands you ever heard.
AL: Some of these guys in line for your show look like members of Motley Crue.
Mike: It's an honor to play at the place where Motley Crue and a lot of other cheesy metal bands started out. I like that WASP poster.
AL: The Cardigans played here last week.
Steve: I have seen them play a few times years ago.
AL: How long has your record been out?
Mike: It came out about seven months ago in England (November 2004). It has just come out here in America.
AL: Are you playing some festivals this year?
Steve: We are doing some European Festivals. They have taken a liking to us in Europe. I am quite new to this.
AL: Are you coming back to America?
Mike: We would love to. Possibly in the Autumn. We were asked to play SXSW before we had a record deal a few years ago. We played in a place in Texas that was very much like the Troubadour.
AL: Have you written songs for the next album?
Steve: That is what we are doing right now. If we are not touring we are writing new songs basically. We are building a pool of ideas.
AL: What are some of the songs about? You have the one song "Women Who Love Men Who Love Drugs."
Mike: That was in Cosmopolitan Magazine. Jon saw that headline. We were wondering what the article was about.
AL: When you write lyrics do you think about sounds first?
Mike: I think about sounds totally. It's all phonetically and then I'll make sense of it. I'll write some words. Each song writes itself most of the time. I can't say that the songs are about one particular thing. Some are. But most are about various separate things. I carry around a notebook.
AL: Any secret messages to the fans?
Steve: I knew you were going to ask that. Give the music a chance. I hope you enjoy it.
AL: A lot of models show up to your gigs?
Mike: All the time. We had Kate Moss come down when we played The Leopard in Doncaster. She caused loads of trouble and tried to snog everybody.


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