7/31/2006

Monsters Are Waiting



Monsters Are Waiting
By alexander laurence

The band Monsters Are Waiting has emerged out of the LA scene recently. The
fuse new wave pop with moody music. They played a show with Giant Drag earlier
this year, and then things have exploded. That interested in the band
culminated with the release of an EP and their first proper album Fascination (2006).
They have played almost twenty shows in the past two months, including a few
on the east coast. A few appearances at Popscene and at the Hammer Museum were
among some highlights. I caught them at the end of this stretch of shows. They
were headlining a sold out show at Check Your Ponytail. While we were talking
in their touring bus, we were hit by another car. Some of their fans were
excited to see them I guess. I was able to have a brief chat with Annalee Fery
and Andrew Clark. It was the A-team tonight.

Eric Gardner: drums
Jon Siebels: guitars
Annalee Fery: vocals/keyboards
Andrew Clark: bass guitar

AL: Where do you live and how did you meet?

Annalee: We live in Echo Park. We all met down in our basement where we
rehearse. I have known Andrew and he was playing with the other two guys. They were
practicing. They had heard some songs that I wrote. They said: “Let’s all
play together.” We played together and was seeing what would happen.

AL: You were neighbors?

Annalee: Yeah.

AL: I noticed that there was a fifth member at the beginning. Who is that?

Andrew: When we first started, we had another guy who was the singer. Anna
came by and watched us when we practiced. She started singing and we thought:
“That was awesome.” Originally we were going to have two singers. We were fans
of The Pixies and Blonde Redhead. We wanted to have both a guy and a girl
singing. It never really worked. Everything gravitated towards having just a girl
singer. And Christian wanted to sing more.

AL: He got the boot?

Annalee: He didn’t get the boot. He wanted to do his own thing. His songs
didn’t really go with what we were all doing. He didn’t play on our record.

Andrew: He was there when we wrote the songs.

AL: I like that name “Less Than Zero Music.”

Andrew: That is Jon’s publishing name. Mine is Pretty Much Music.

Annalee: Mine is Snapper Juice. That is my grandpa’s nickname. He would say:
“You can call me Snapper.” He is from Portland, Oregon, where I am from. He
had this funny name. We are playing up there in a few days.

AL: Where is the rest of the band from?

Andrew: Jon and I are from Los Angeles. Eric is from Boston.

AL: How long has the band been together?

Annalee: For about a year and a half. We have been playing seriously for
about a year.

AL: What were some of the first shows like?

Andrew: The very first show was the only one with Christian, the other guy.
It was all right. We just had to get the first one out of the way. Part of the
reason that we booked the show was because we didn’t have a band name. We
would be forced to come up with a band name. We are putting the ad in, what are
you calling the band? We had a song called “Monsters.” It was something that
Anna started singing in the chorus. I don’t know where it came from.

AL: What does it mean?

Annalee: It has so many meanings. The first thing that came into my mind was
“Monsters in a skirt.” I was thinking about all these bitchy girls who walk
around with their heads up their butts. They seem like they are waiting for
something?

AL: What kind of monsters are they?

Annalee: Whatever you want them to be.

AL: They have no superpowers?

Annalee: No.

AL: How do you write songs in the band? Do one of you write songs, or are
things created in the practice studio?

Annalee: I think that is pretty much how it happens. We get together and turn
on the recorder. We see what we get.

(A close friend interrupts us.)

AL: How do you decide which songs go on the record?

Annalee: We are always coming up with new songs. It is never planned.
Whatever came out on the record was what we had done at the time. We practiced a lot
by playing shows. We would try things and change things around.

Andrew: We recorded the first batch of songs. We released it ourselves as an
EP. We printed them up and put it on a credit card. We were hoping to sell a
few. Amoeba started selling it. We sold them all. We hadn’t been on a label
yet. We had some new songs. We played them and they felt part of our set anyway.
We added them to the new record. That was what came out just now.

AL: How many shows have you played then?

Andrew: That’s a good question. I have no idea.

AL: How did the residency at Spaceland go?

Andrew: It was good.

Annalee: Surprising really good. There was a new sound guy there. We are
taking him with us wherever we can take him.

AL: How did the shows go out in New York City?

Annalee: It was fun. The place was packed every night. It’s weird that people
know your stuff that live that far away.

Andrew: We did two shows at Pianos and a show in Boston. There was a show in
DC.

AL: Those shows were good?

Andrew: The Boston show was good. We had a lot of people there. People were
saying that was good for a first show in Boston. I was surprised.

Annalee: There was about 15 people at the DC show.

AL: Who have you played with?

Annalee: We have done a lot of small tours. We have played a little bit with
She Wants Revenge and Editors. We have played with Stellastarr*. We have
played a few times with Giant Drag.

Andrew: Editors was the only real tour. We are going to play more with
Mellowdrone.

AL: You played with Forward Russia?

Annalee: Did you see them before?

AL: Yeah. That show in San Francisco at Popscene was the first time I saw
them. Are you going to do a headlining tour soon?

Andrew: We have played the West Coast and in New York. We haven’t been in the
middle of America yet. I don’t think we are going to be headlining soon.

(Some car hits us at this moment, and we get out of the van to look at the
damage.)

AL: What about the look of the band?

Annalee: Yeah. We all decide what we look like. We are all moody people. At
first we were like brother and sister: “Do you like this?” We don’t call each
other anymore.

AL: What happened out there?

Andrew: We know those kids. They came to see us. They were like “How much
money do I owe you?” We will talk about it later.

AL: When are you going to have jumpsuits?

Annalee: Is that what you want to see me in next?

AL: Yeah, sure.

Andrew: I don’t think we have done jumpsuits yet. I would like to get one.

AL: Maybe you can get one by Santino Rice? You have been in San Francisco a
lot this year?

Annalee: Yeah. We like that club, Loaded. They have good sound there.
Popscene has some sound issues.

AL: You guys switch instruments on a few songs. Why is that?

Andrew: That is how we wrote the songs. I play bass guitar most of the time.
We switched a couple of songs. We have a few new ones. Eric the drummer wants
to play guitar.

(Another interruption.)

AL: Do you write all the lyrics?

Annalee: Pretty much. I like when songs don’t spell things out so much. I
like when people come late to it or have a different angle. It all takes shape
once you feel it. Every song is different. I am thinking about stuff that is
happening at that moment. Sometimes it just happens when we are writing. I start
to sing something and a word comes out here and there.

AL: What about some of the rumors about the band?

Andrew: What are they?

Annalee: I don’t think we have any. There is a rumor that Andrew has three
testicles.

AL: Do you have a message board?

Andrew: Yeah. It’s there somewhere.

AL: What do you think of the reviews so far?

Andrew: They have been good so far. We have been lucky. Sometimes I am not
sure what they are talking about. They have been fairly good.

Annalee: I did have someone say that I gyrated my hips. Yeah. I was like
Damn! They are sure paying attention.

AL: Because in reality you are innocent and child-like?

Annalee: No. Not at all. That is what my mother would like to read.

AL: So let’s set the record straight.

Annalee: I am very innocent. And I am a child. I am a child of God!

Andrew: Anna is wearing the monkey finger puppet.

AL: What is going on?

Annalee: Touch it.

AL: Okay. (Laughter.)

Andrew: It’s getting kinky.

AL: Okay. I guess that is it.

Website: www.monstersarewaiting.com


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7/30/2006

Punk Kids @ Buzzcocks show

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7/29/2006

The Feederz




THE FEEDERZ: Frank Discussion Interview
by Alexander Laurence

I first heard about The Feederz in 1981 when a few of my friends when to see
Black Flag and a few other bands in Arizona. They came back with the "Jesus"
single. Later I would read about Frank Discussion in RE/Search. A few weeks ago
I heard that Broken Rekids was re-releasing the first two albums: EVER FEEL
LIKE KILLING YOUR BOSS? (1984) and TEACHERS IN SPACE (1986).

These albums sound as relevant as ever. I heard that Frank was in the studio
with Jack Endino recording Vandalism: As Beautiful As A Rock In A Cop's Face.
This was good news. The Feederz have always been uncompromising and
mysterious. They are definitely one of the most important west coast punk bands ever.
And they seem to be as vital now than they were twenty or more years ago. They
played a show in San Francisco recently. The Feederz are back to do some damage.

*****

AL: What was the punk rock scene like in Arizona during the early 1980s?

Frank: Actually, we got started in the 1970s and back then there were just lik
e ten of us in Phoenix. Out of this circle there we'd start a new band every
week even though a couple of bands like the Consumers and the Exterminators
were more permanent fixtures. There wasn't a scene and we'd just get gigs at
biker bars and shit by lying about what we played. It was big fun harassing the
denizens of Phoenix. Sometimes we'd have to fight our way out of the clubs
though. By the time the 1980s rolled around there were more bands, but fairly
early in the 1980s I did the "Bored With School" thing and had to leave Phoenix or
go to jail.

AL: What you think of John McCain or Arizona politics?

Frank: I don't think of John McCain much. But if you want someone truly
twisted who's from Arizona check out Evan Mecham, former governor of Arizona. Now
that guy was nuts. His very first act in office was to rescind Martin Luther
King Day. Then he refused to disavow a textbook that called blacks
"pickaninnies," defending it as a "term of affection." When the movement to recall him
became seriously large, he sent letters to conservatives all over the country
asking them to move to Arizona to support him. In the same letters he claimed
thousands of homosexuals had moved to Arizona just to recall him. And that's just
a few of the things he did while in office. He was impeached in 1988, but he's
still a force in conservative politics there. Only in Arizona. I wonder if he
wears a tin foil helmet at night to keep the voices away.

AL: When did you start making music?

Frank: In the early 1970s. Actually, I learned to play guitar from Captain
Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica.

AL: What is your relationship to Jello Biafra and the Dead Kennedys?

Frank: I have no relationship with him. But you're talking about my affair
with his wife aren't you? Actually D. H. Peligro was already in the Dead
Kennedys. Basically, he was good enough to help us record and do a couple of shows
with us. There was never any question that he was first and foremost in the Dead
Kennedys. Peligro was and is a great drummer and a great guy.

AL: What gave you inspiration to perform with live cockroaches glued to his
head? I know that Christian Death used dead animals at the same time.

Frank: I don't know. You just come up with things. Who knows where they come
from? But hell, come to think of it, we had used dead rats since back in
Phoenix.

AL: Why was the original cover of Ever Felt Like Killing Your Boss? made
with sandpaper?

Frank: To destroy everything it came into contact with. A "product to destroy
all other products" so to speak.

AL: You were in the Weekly World News for the Gilman Street show with dead
morgue animals. What was that about?

Frank: That was great fun. But it almost ended things for me. Fuck, being in
the Weekly World News and seeing Julie Andrews tits all in the same year.
What's there to do after that? Actually a video of the show is on the re-issue CD
of Teachers In Space if anyone wants to see it.

AL: Do you work with computers?

Frank: Why yes. I'm writing to you on one this very minute. Heh. But
seriously, there are so many new opportunities for sabotage and putting out
information using the net and computers. New means of attack in a whole new playground.
I like that. The idea of owning some corporation's or some government's
website is mighty attractive, you must admit. If their website suddenly says
something they wouldn't normally care to admit, well then... You can attack all
governments, companies, etc. anywhere in the world without leaving your living
room.. Nice huh? Not that I would ever do such a thing...

AL: Did Surrealism and Dadaism influence you?

Frank: In the early days. I was a kind of homespun Surrealist. I had read the
Surrealist Manifesto and had immediately seen the implications of it.
Unfortunately, the Surrealists hadn't. One day I had a talk with one of the
Surrealists from way back. All he talked about was real versus false poets and such
shit. I was truly disillusioned. Vale from RE/Search then gave me some things by
the Situationists and it was like I had finally found people who got it...
There were a few that I never lost respect for though, like Tristan Tzara, Luis
Buñuel and Marcel Duchamp.

AL: Why them?

Frank: Because they never sold their dreams or their ability to rebel off
short or the dubious honor of being lovingly accepted '"back into the fold." Even
in their old age they never lost their bite. Even back in the day you could
see 16 year olds who were already senile. Who were already accepting the
unacceptable and defending it wholeheartedly. Maybe they thought they were growing
up. If that's what it is I don't ever want to grow up. Because that's not
growing up, that's dying. They're already in rigor mortis just waiting for the
needle to pump the embalming fluid in. Life always fights against its
enslavement, and is always testing the bars to its cage. When you see officer friendly
and don't become enraged at their mere existence, that's when it's time to start
to worry.

AL: Why did you cover songs like "Have You Never Been Mellow?" Is that "Punk?"

Frank: Because they're horrible little songs that irritate. Who knows if it's
punk and who cares? If you worry about whether something's punk you're
already lost. If you liked Mellow, then you'll love the version of the theme for
Seventh Heaven we sometimes do. Hahahahaha.

AL: Not sure if I liked it. I thought it was annoying. I am not sure where
people came up with the idea of covering a song, a good or bad one, then totally
destroying it. Now it's conventional for a punk band to do an odd cover of a
pop song.

Frank: I think covers of really terrible songs have always been part of the
culture. Probably because it's fun and a lot of times funny.

AL: What do you think of the French student movement in 1968?

Frank: The May Occupations movement? Mmmmmmmm... Some wonderful possibilities
there. Did you know less than a dozen Situationists managed to ignite a
situation that ended up bringing France within 48 hours of an outright civil war?
Think about that the next time someone says we have to wait until there's a
mass movement! The student's part in it was overplayed in the media you know.

AL: Have you received hate mail for songs like "Crawlspace" and "Jesus
Entering from the Rear?” Those songs still seem offensive today.

Frank: We haven't received much hate mail. But we know we're hated. And
that's just fine.

AL: Do you get threatened at shows?

Frank: From the beginning we played biker bars. At one biker bar, the owner
fell in love with us because I took down a 200+ pound biker. Don't ask me. It's
part of their culture I guess. And at one show someone tried to shoot me. At
another show, a bunch of cops from the Mesa PD were doing the security. A
bunch of people heard their plans. Apparently I had really pissed them off. I got
word that they decided after the show they were going to fuck with me so I had
to hide in the van. So I guess the answer is yes.

AL: What are the other members of The Feederz doing now?

Frank: Which version? Out of the original Feederz, Clear Bob lives in Phoenix
and Art Nouveau died a number of years back. The drummer for much of the San
Francisco days still lives in Northern California. And now there's Ben Wah and
Denmark Vesey who are part of the new lineup.

AL: Were the first two records recorded as live takes? Who produced those
records?

Frank: No, we do the basic tracks live, then throw on some overdubs. If you
listen closely, you'll hear things like a rhythm guitar and the lead playing
at the same time. Can't do that live. We always produced our own stuff until
our latest that is co-produced by Jack Endino.

AL: What is more important: music or ideas?

Frank: Ideas. No question. Otherwise it would just be alternative muzak. On
the other hand, if you weren't doing it as music what would you do? Go hand out
flyers on street corners or do some tedious "spoken word" crap?

AL: What should people expect when they attend a Feederz show today?

Frank: Not sure how to answer that. But I do know what NOT to expect: some
pathetic reunion attempt by a bunch of tired earwigs wanting to make a couple of
bucks off nostalgia. Gawd. Seeing some of those things you just want to say
"they look so natural." Almost as if they were still alive. But one thing I can
tell you to expect from a Feederz show is, if you don't cry out and you don't
move, it won't hurt as much.

AL: Are you finished recording the new album?

Frank: We just did. We got out of the studio from the last mix this morning.
It's called "Vandalism: Beautiful As A Rock In A Cop's Face." New songs about
the tender joys of rioting, looting, hacking... feel good stuff like that.
Insurrection is never having to say you're sorry,


*****

Website: http://www.feederz.com

DISCOGRAPHY

JESUS 7" (Placebo, 1980)

EVER FEEL LIKE KILLING YOUR BOSS? LP (Flaming Banker, 1984)

TEACHERS IN SPACE LP (Flaming Banker, 1986)
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The Buzzcocks @ Henry Fonda

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7/28/2006

The Like + Nine Black Alps @ MOCA

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7/27/2006

Does Myspace really work?


Eight Bands: on Myspace, the internet and getting known
By alexander laurence


You could see the sun going down in early evening at the end of the road in
West Hollywood. It was the first week in January 2006. On that last block of
Santa Monica Boulevard is the Troubadour. It is a small venue that is quite
legendary and has been around for over fifty years. It has witnessed legendary
gigs from old classic rock bands to bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Motley
Crue, to bands of today, who are “The Next Big Thing.” Tonight, The Strokes,
the famous New York band, is playing a secret show for their friends and anyone
who is lucky enough to get in. The show actually sold out in an hour. People
are not so much there to witness the music. It seems like they are
congratulating themselves on the fact that they could get in.

The early part of the year in Los Angeles is very interesting. There is that
period for a few weeks where there are some happening shows that set the tone
for the rest of the year. The Grammy Awards also happen in February. People
are anticipating all the bands that will show up in Austin, Texas for the South
by Southwest music festival. The bands that will play Coachella are announced.
Some bands are inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame this month.
Through all those signposts, you can tell who is established, and who is a new up
and coming band.



The Kills

As far as new bands, The White Stripes have been the most successful band in
the past five years. They come out with an album and can tour internationally,
like Morrissey and Red Hot Chili Peppers and others. The White Stripes have
spawn a number of duos. One of the most interesting is The Kills. Alison, also
known as VV, is from Florida. Jaime, also known as Hotel, comes from London.
They might be best described as an art project, which is devoted to the blues
and rock and roll. They are very stark and to the point. It’s all editing.
Everything useless is kept out.

The Kills are not a very pretty band. There is something unhealthy about
them. In pictures they often smoke cigarettes. VV almost looks anorexic. Their
performances range from boredom to exhilaration. They might seem like the closest
thing to a punk band today. They turn their backs on the audience in a slight
way. They talk very little between songs if at all. They don’t crack jokes.
It’s all music. It’s a wall of sound. You dig it or not. They don’t care.

Rock and roll may have undergone significant changes in recent years, but The
Kills' no-holds-barred brand of dramatic guitar music remains vivid, vibrant,
and vital. Fuelled by a ceaseless spirit of forward motion, The Kills are the
sound of one of our most potent and distinctive bands operating on all
cylinders. For a small band, they seem to be doing well. They have played many
festivals and toured with Placebo. Their second album, No Wow, came out in early
2005. They have been an undeniable presence on both shores. They have played
both Coachella and South By Southwest.



Maximo Park

Probably the best new British band in the past year is Maximo Park. They too
have an artistic sensibility. If it is in the use of Robert Longo type images
on their record sleeves it is in their weird imagery lyrically. Their first
record came out in summer 2005, and sort of got lumped in all the British bands
sounding awfully close to Gang of Four. As far as the comparisons, singer Paul
Smith said: “I guess there was something going on there. Bloc Party and
Futureheads were the more commercial end of that scratchy artpunk music. Franz
Ferdinand also broke down a lot of barriers. Kaiser Chiefs and Maximo Park got
pushed into that. Both bands are far more song based. We are more melodic and
more direct. I don’t think that the Kaiser Chiefs are writing really emotional
lyrics.”

If these bands are not referencing the sounds of Post-Punk, what inspires
them? Britpop was very strong in the UK and other parts ten years ago. Are these
bands all trying to be Britpop Part Two? Smith replies: “I don’t think that
any of them are overtly British apart from the Kaiser Chiefs. People think ‘The
Coast Is Always Changing’ is about the rough northeast coast. If you didn’t
know where we are from and our accents, that song could be about Australia.
Once people know about music or who makes it, they start to have preconceptions
as to what it’s about. They start to compare it to other bands from that area.
We didn’t know anything about these other bands when we started. We wanted to
make music that was exciting.”

When pressed for more precise influences on Maximo Park, Smith offers: “I was
born in 1979. When I reached my early twenties, when I was looking for more
music that I have never heard before, and those were bands like Television,
Gang of Four, and Talking Heads. There is a lot of No Wave stuff and the less
commercial stuff. I am a big fan of Arthur Russell. He is amazing. He did some
much different stuff. He is much more an influence on me than Gang of Four. His
stuff resonates with me much more.” And so Maximo Park seems like this odd
experiment. They have recently released an album of B-sides that includes a cover
of a John Lennon song. This may be the most enduring band of the recent
British crop.




Turbonegro

They are one of the oldest Swedish bands. They were just becoming a worldwide
success in 1998 when the band split up for a while. The lead singer, Hank Von
Helvete, was addicted to drugs. The band retired for five years and pursued
regular lives. Then a few years ago, in 2003, the band reformed and released
the album Scandinavian Leather. They toured for the first time that year in
Europe and America. Last year they have returned with a second world tour.
Turbonegro are like a mix of Alice Cooper style theatrics with old punk rock.

I asked them about their look. Their fans also dress up with Levi’s jackets
and sailor caps. Guitarist Rune Rebellion said about their look: “What would be
the dumbest thing to do? What would be the most self-destructive? We have a
gay image. We are a punk rock band. We all dress up in Levi’s, which would be a
big corporative enemy. It’s an image that we have developed throughout the
years. When we do the most stupid thing, it actually works out.”

Even though being from Sweden conjures up images of Abba and bad pop music,
most of these new Swedish sing in English and like bands from America and the
UK. Drummer Chris Summers explains this further: “We are definitely more into
American music. There are some great English bands. There are even some good
German bands: imagine that! Most of the music we like is from California. Some
of the best punk rock bands like Black Flag are from here. And most of the best
Hiphop bands are from California.”



Horrorpops

Also Scandinavian in origins, Horrorpops are now a band that works from the
Los Angeles base. Most of their tours in America are long 50-date two-month
tours. I wondered why a band would pack it up and come to America. Lead singer
and bassist, Patricia Day, explained it like this: “It was a huge change. We
started the band in 1996. Being in Europe doesn’t get you anywhere when you are
in a band. If you want to be touring all the time, it’s better to be in the
States. It was a dream to come to LA. There seemed like a lot of possibilities.”
They have seemed to attract many American fans that like punk rock and
rockabilly.

For American ears, they are a fairly new band, having only released two
records here. They just released one in September 2005. I wonder what was the best
way to discover new bands like Horrorpops: was it through live shows or
through the Internet? Patricia told me: “It depends on the band. For Horrorpops,
it’s the live show. We are a dedicated live band. We love touring. Our stage
show is quite crazy and different from what people usually see. How we have
gained a following is from touring. Some bands don’t like that part. For me that is
absurd. But for some bands, they probably only want to be played on the radio
because they don’t have want it takes to play live.”

For American kids, much time is spent looking on websites like Pitchfork
Media and Myspace. I wondered if Patricia from Horrorpops thought anything about
this. She said: “That is a very American way of looking at things. Yes, people
in Europe are on Myspace looking for bands, but that is only because you can’t
go to shows like you can here in America. You don’t the option of going to
shows in Denmark. There might be a show every two months.”




Living Things

Living Things is a new band who have just released their first album. They
did have a record deal a few years ago, but it fell apart. The band was invited
on tours in Europe with The Libertines and Velvet Revolver. America would have
to wait a while to see this band for itself. Lead singer, Lillian Berlin,
thought the Internet was actually a good tool for discovering music. He told me:
“It seems like today the Internet is able to spread music very well. It has
become a way for musicians, and artists, like painters and filmmakers, to get
their work out without a bunch of corporate middleman. I am very pro-internet in
that respect. But it is set up where people are fucking glued to that shit.
They are trying to communicate without any human interaction. It can be used
for information, which is good, but often it is abused and it’s unhealthy for
people.”

Living Things have been one of my favorite new American bands. They seem like
a perfect distillation of punk and glam rock. Being a band from St. Louis,
they might seem much like a kid who downloads music because there is no
happening music culture available in his small town. Berlin admits: “I was that kid. I
come from the suburbs of St. Louis. There are no indie record stores and no
bands come through that part of the world. The Internet is great place to find
music if you live in Middle America or anywhere that is not a big city. We
still live in St. Louis. We have a place there. We haven’t spent much time there
recently because we have been on the road. It’s the same place that we grew up
in. Our parents moved out and we stayed there. We figured out a way to buy
it. We record there and live there.”

Once bands had to move to big cities like New York or Los Angeles to work and
record. I asked Lillian Berlin about the differences of the big cities versus
small towns: “I think it is important to be somewhere that you feel
comfortable. I don’t know how some bands live in big cities because it seems so
expensive. In NYC, you can’t really practice in your apartment or in some loft. We
have found that sticking to our current house is fine. I don’t think a band has
to go to those cities to work. Some of the best music of the past ten years
has come from smaller cities in the Midwest like Detroit and Chicago. I don’t
think that I could ever live in Los Angeles.”

Since some people’s first reactions to a band are formed on the Internet or
by a video, it must be important to think visually if you are a band. I asked
Berlin what he thought of this notion: “I don’t know. You do whatever suits
your style. I do gravitate towards more theatrical looking stuff. I like it when
the music and the things around it are more theatrical. It makes it almost
like a play. To me, punk rock was very theatrical. People think it is not. The
Ramones are almost like West Side Story. I like it when the music has a visual
escapism along with the sound.” Living Things are another band that has been
invited to Coachella this year.



The Vacation

Touring the East Coast with Living Thing was a like-minded rock outfit called
The Vacation. The Vacation was like the closest thing to Iggy Pop since Iggy
himself. Like Living Things they are from the St. Louis. Guitarist Steven
Tegel said, “We are from near there. My brother, Ben, and me are from the Midwest.
Our bass player is from New Jersey. Our drummer is from Baltimore. We are an
LA band. We formed the band in Hollywood. We are boys from the Midwest, but we
have lived in LA for a while. It is important for us to be in LA. I don’t
think that we would have existed unless we went to LA years ago. We like a lot of
the LA bands like The Doors and Guns and Roses. I wanted to get out of the
Midwest. It’s a cold dog place. California is like the land of dreams.”

The Vacation are not subtle. They are about mind-blowing rock and roll. I was
wondering if the scene in LA was as good as the rest of the country: “We do
really well wherever we go. The best shows always seem to be the all ages
shows. Those kids seemed starved for music. They get really excited by the music.
People are pretty hungry for live rock and roll. It’s been pretty positive.
There are only a few bands that play high-energy shows like we do. When I was
growing up all the punk rock shows had become watered down. We are trying to
bring back some chaos back into music. We hit it and quit it. Everyone seems to
have some fun.”

Since The Vacation had won over fans by their live shows I wondered what
Steven Tegel and his band thought of Myspace: “I think it is really good thing. We
meet a lot of people on Myspace. A lot of kids find out about our music on
there. Myspace creates this direct way of contacting the bands. When we come to
town they know us and it makes every gig very personal. Every teenager has a
Myspace page. We have pictures there from our tours. Teenagers get excited
about all those details. We can book tours with Myspace. Bands want to play with
us.”



Ambulance LTD.

One of my favorite New York bands is Ambulance LTD. I saw them play a few
times before they had any record released. They toured with Placebo and Suede.
They released their first record a few years ago now. Recently they have
released “New English EP” which includes a cover of a Pink Floyd song. I asked lead
singer and guitarist, Marcus Congleton about downloading music: “That seems to
be a hassle more for the record companies than for the bands. People still
come to live shows. The bands seem to benefit from the fact that people are
downloading music or buying their records. If they are listening to the music
somehow it is good for the band. The same thing happened with radio. Record
companies were worried about people taping the music. It didn’t really harm the
musicians. It is more about the record companies changing to another format. I
don’t give that a lot of thought.”

Ambulance LTD. have been one of the New York bands that have stayed
interesting. They have avoided trends and have stayed original. They met in New York,
but come from all over, including Ireland and Portland, Oregon. I was wondering
if they regretted moving to New York City: “It is a good place for me. I
can’t speak for everyone. It’s probably easier to live somewhere else because
there are less hassles. Our main focus is to finish the second record. Then we
would like to go to some places that we haven’t been like Australia and Japan.”
This is definitely a band to watch.



She Wants Revenge

The popularity of this band is frightening. They have went from virtual
unknowns to big tours and playing Coachella. Singer Justin Warfield talked about
the recent rise of his band: “That is really what we wanted to do. We wanted to
do a record. We wanted to tour for a year straight. We wanted to play all
sorts of places for people. We are quite pleased with the way things are going.”
She Wants Revenge was a project started by Justin Warfield and DJ Adam 12 a few
years ago.

She Wants Revenge has been no stranger to Myspace. In fact they were one of
the band to pave the way: “We had a few songs on Myspace. Then we had the whole
album on iTunes. Some of the songs that were on the Myspace page ended up
being on the record. Last year we did two tours. People were asking us when they
could get the record. We created a demand. We knew that we had to get
something out. Things worked fortuitously for us. We toured without having a record
out, so by the time the record came out, there was an audience. Now when we play
places, kids have the record, and it is great because they know the lyrics
and the songs. That makes it more pleasurable to go out and play.”

They are definitely a band that has befitted from the Internet. But don’t
some of these bands ever worry about their music being stolen? Warfield assures
me: “At the end of the day I don’t because my job is to make music, not police
who is buying it or not. People are going to steal music anyway. In the end,
any piracy creates a larger awareness of our band. If we were only in it for
the money, we would be upset. But we are here because we want people to hear
our music. It hasn’t really affected record sales. Our album is selling more
than we ever dreamed of selling. People download our music, then they buy the
record, and sometimes they buy our record again at shows and have me sign it. You
are being a dick if you are an artist who attacks fans for downloading music.”

With this band, Placebo also figures in: “We are playing two shows with them
in Germany in June. We are talking about doing more shows. Placebo have been
good friends of mine. I have known them for ten years. We have talked about
collaborating and working together. They are one of my favorite bands and they
are dear friends. When we played our first show in London, the whole band came
down to watch us. They have been very supportive.”

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Safari Sams Reunion

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A bunch of old timers from the Original Safari Sams (1984-1986) reunited last Tuesday. Gil Furher (left) ran the place with Sam back in the old days. Donald Grose (right) directed many plays at the venue.

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It was a crazy night!

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Annalee from Monsters Are Waiting

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Someone hit my car!

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Don and Gil checking some hilarious footage.


All photos by Alexander Laurence
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7/26/2006

the sensational alex harvey band


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7/24/2006

More Sonic Youth

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All photos by Alexander Laurence
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7/23/2006

The Feeling @ The Troubadour

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7/22/2006

CCS "Let's Make Love and listen to Death From Above"


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Nine Black Alps @ Spaceland

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7/21/2006

¡Forward, Russia! interview



¡Forward, Russia!
By alexander laurence

tom - voice, synth
rob - bass
katie - drums, shouts
whiskas - guitar, shouts

¡Forward, Russia! formed in Leeds in early 2004. Katie and Whiskas are sister
and brother. Tom and Rob were in a band called The Black Helicopters. All
four came together to try to create something unheard of. The first gig was in
April 2004. The madness followed. At the end of 2004 a single was recorded. The
song “Nine” was released as a split 7-inch single with This Et Al in April
2005. It was released on the Dance To The Radio label. This is a label ran by
Whiskas. Soon Katie finished college. The rest of the band quit their jobs.
During the summer of 2005 they played with Editors, VHS or Beta, and others. They
were featured at the Leeds and Reading Festivals. The next single
“Thirteen/Fourteen” came out in August 2005. White Heat Records put it out. Soon the band
its first gig in London. At the beginning of 2006, the band recorded the first
album. A new single “Twelve” made it into the UK top 40. After a successful
show at SXSW, they released the album “Give Me A Wall” (2006). In June 2006,
¡Forward, Russia! Was back in the States for some more shows. I spoke to Tom
and Rob at the show at the Troubadour. I also saw them at Popscene in San
Francisco. Unfortunately that tape didn’t come out. But I got to talk to Whiskas
over the phone. Their album will be released in America in September 2006.

AL: I talked to some of the other band members in Los Angeles, but the tape
didn’t come out.

Whiskas: I was probably off getting a beer.

AL: How did you meet the other members of the band?

Whiskas: Katie is my sister. Some people don’t realize that. The other two
were in a band called The Black Helicopters. They were playing a lot of gigs in
Leeds and were championed by a few people. They were a band that I really
liked. They liked my band. We used to play together and we got on really well.

AL: You also did a label too?

Whiskas: The label came later. Dance To The Radio was the label and
Transmission was the club. Obviously “dance to the radio…” is a line from the Joy
Division song “Transmission.” At this time I was just putting gigs on, rather
than doing the label. The band started and the label came about very quickly.

AL: You always worked in Leeds?

Whiskas: Yeah. It was all based in Leeds. I have never done anything
elsewhere. I was briefly involved with a label in Manchester. I think Leeds needed
something like that. I think the label has proved that it has kick-started
things.

AL: What other bands did you work with?

Whiskas: We worked with a band called I Like Trains. And a second band This
Et Al which is doing well here from the early days. Since the label has become
a bit better we can actually sign bands properly and work with them a bit
more. We have released a single not by Forward Russia. We have a family of four
bands now. There are the bands The Pigeon Detectives and Yes Boss. It’s a Leeds
thing to help each other out. Most of the bands sound different. There is one
new band called Shut Your Eyes and You’ll Burst Into Flames. They are more
like us, so we have been playing a lot of shows together. On some of the
compilations, we have played with most of the thirty bands on there.

AL: How did you decided about the look of the band and wearing the same
clothes with the exclamation marks?

Whiskas: It was quite funny really. When we played our first headlining gig
in Leeds, we decided to make a big deal out of it. So we decided to put
exclamation marks everywhere. We had the idea to put the big posters everywhere. Then
we put then on the t-shirts too. We started to click as a unit. I like the
idea of a band wearing a uniform. It takes away the idea of fashion. You can’t
talk about how cool a band looks, because basically in a way they don’t.
Especially when it’s a white t-shirt with the band’s image on it. We did that and
they we decided to do that for every gig.

AL: Then you don’t have titles for songs. It’s all numbers. How did that
come about?

Whiskas: It’s great to talk about this sort of thing. Because it was all coinc
idence and us being a bit stupid. Why do all the songs have numbers? It’s
because we had four or five songs and we could think of any names for them. Then
we decided to dub them “One” and “Two” and so on… It wasn’t a long-term
solution at first. Then we wrote a few more songs and dubbed then “Six” and
“Seven.” At that point we thought: “This is silly, but what else are we going to
do?” After we finished the album, we said “We will stop giving the songs
numbers and we will start giving the names.”

AL: So you got up to twenty songs?

Whiskas: Nineteen. That was the last one. We are going to work on a few new
songs and they will have names. Because we are always thinking of names, they
haven’t got names yet.

AL: So when you play live people say “Play song eight!”

Whiskas: That is like Autechre. It’s fun to have people shouting out numbers
when you are onstage. Everyone finds our setlist pretty funny. For us it’s
useful because you can write it out in ten seconds. You don’t have to write out
long song titles.

AL: What do you think about coming to America and playing shows?

Whiskas: We have loved the two times we have been over. Our record is coming
out in September in America. We have been frustrated how short the tours have
been. We are usually playing to more people in America. But you are rushing
around everywhere. We are looking forward to hit it properly before the end of
the year. We love playing live. We just started playing the rest of Europe as
well. You can see the difference. In the UK we have toured so much that it’s
like a farewell tour for the album. It’s weird that we are still introducing it
to the rest of the world. We want to get that done. The American crowds seem
receptive and enthusiastic. In Britain we are used to kids coming down to the
shows. There are a lot more teenagers there. In America, we play at they bars
that are 21+.

AL: We have energy drinks over here to keep us young and energetic.

Whiskas: What is that thing? Battery Spark? Sparks? We had a couple of those.
We saw them and had to try them.

AL: How does the songwriting go in the band?

Whiskas: I usually come in with a few ideas and we will play around with it.
We will work on individual ideas within a song. Like we are working on a new
song. It has two or three different bits. We are not sure what order they will
come in. We might change around what each of us is playing. When we play it,
we discovered that it would be better if we played it on keyboard rather than a
guitar. Little things like that. We are making sure that we try everything
and push it so we get the best results. Most songs come really quickly.

AL: Does everyone contribute equally?

Whiskas: We are a guitar driven band. That might be the spark for it all.
Everyone contributes his or her own parts. We talk about the form and the format.
Everyone will have an equal say what things should sound like. Sometimes the
song with written in individual parts. Usually the group is involved in the
shaping of that.

AL: Does Tom write all the lyrics?

Whiskas: Yeah. Tom writes lyrics that are very personal to him. We might have
some ideas about the tone or the melody.

AL: What about your sister? At the end of the day, was it a good idea to have
her in the band?

Whiskas: I like the way you put that. We have a normal brother and sister
relationship. We have proper fights. She is a great drummer. We have a strange
relationship. I went to University, and she went to a boarding college, so we
didn’t see each other for a few years. Musically we have some of the same
influences. We look out for each other.

AL: Who are some of the bands that you have played with that you have liked?

Whiskas: The bands that come to mind are Editors, We Are Scientists, and
Biffy Clyro. We have had an amazing time and amazing tours with those bands. We
had a great tour with VHS or Beta. We played with them all in the UK. We played
with this band in New York at the Mercury Lounge called Holy Fuck. We
absolutely adored them.

AL: We have a Holy Shit over here in LA. Maybe they should do a tour together?

Whiskas: Holy Fuck are from Canada.

AL: When you record is it all done as live takes?

Whiskas: No it’s all thought out. We do a lot of layering and it sounds
different from the live show. We do a lot of different parts and we hint at things,
because I use a lot of delay onstage. Tom has an amazing ear for harmonies. I
use a lot of delays, imitating what a second guitarist might play. It’s
easier to play all those parts on a record.

AL: Are there any other bands that you would like to play with?

Whiskas: We would like to play with Pretty Girls Make Graves. Someone
mentioned that we might play with TV on The Radio. I think that would be absolutely
amazing. All of us have different likes and dislikes. Sometimes we don’t about
other bands we like to each other.

AL: The record comes out on Mute Records in September. You would like to do a
longer proper tour over here?

Whiskas: Yeah. We are just waiting for the opportunity. We should be there in
October and November. A lot of British bands only do five dates. I would like
to tour for a whole month. I would like to go to some odd places.

AL: Have you played some festivals?

Whiskas: We just did T In The Park in Scotland. It was very mental. We had a
bunch of friends there. We did Oxygen in Ireland. It’s healthy to play all
over Europe. The shows in Europe look like good bands. Then we are going to Leeds
and Reading.

AL: Did you watch the World Cup this year?

Whiskas: We tried but we were in America during some of that time. We were in
Europe for ten days driving around. I was on a plane for two of the England
matches. We watched one England match on a Jet Blue flight. They have a cable
in the back of the seat. We were going to San Francisco. That was bizarre. I am
looking forward to South Africa in 2010. I catch more of it then.

AL: How do you feel about Zidane and the headbutt?

Whiskas: It’s quite funny. We were playing a show when the match was going
on. We were coming back to the dressing room and trying to watch it. It’s a
funny way to end his career. Zidane has always been that kind of player. It’s
interesting to find out what happens in the Italian league.

AL: What else are you going to do this year?

Whiskas: We want to record again this summer. We have a big European tour and
a small UK tour. We want to be in America most of the rest of the year. We
want to do the next record soon. We want to give people a fair crack at this
first album before we move on.

AL: What do you think of The Cribs? They said that they broke the ground for
all Leeds bands.

Whiskas: They were taking credit for it? I will tell you about the Cribs,
mate. I saw them in when they were a band called Wrinkle. They were playing
Mansun and Placebo covers. They were playing in Wakefield. They definitely gave the
Leeds scene a shot in the arm when they really started doing stuff. They were
helped by a lot of things too. The Kaiser Chiefs came out with their album at
the same time. The Cribs were one of the first bands.

AL: Are there a lot of places to play in Leeds?

Whiskas: There are a lot of places but a lot of them are closing down. You
can hire a hall there. There are a lot of bars.

Website: http://www.dancetotheradio.com/
Website: http://www.forwardrussia.com/


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Photo: alexander laurence


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7/20/2006

Deerhoof

Following a fantastic tour in California last month, Deerhoof have been invited to join Radiohead for some more performances this summer in Europe.

August 22 - Edinburgh Meadow Bank Stadium
August 24 - Dublin Marlay Park
August 28 - Amsterdam Heineken Music Hall


Deerhoof will also continue to tour the U.S. throughout the summer and fall. Performances include Seattle’s Bumbershoot Festival as well as east coast dates with The Flaming Lips.


August 10 - Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle
August 11 - Athens, GA - 40 Watt Club
August 13 - Brooklyn, NY - McCarren Park Pool (w/ ?uestlove, Beirut)
August 31 - Arcata, CA - Kate Buchanan Hall @ Humbolt State University (w/ xbxrx, The Husbands)
September 01 - Portland, OR - Disjecta
September 02 - Seattle, WA - Bumberhoot Festival (w/ Kanye West, AFI, and more)
September 05 - San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall (w/ Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog)
September 06 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour (w/ Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog)
September 10 - Boston, MA - Bank Of America Pavillion (w/ The Flaming Lips)
September 12 - Charlottesville, VA - Charlottesville Pavillion (w/ The Flaming Lips)
September 15 - Oklahoma City, OK - TBA
October 26 - Columbus, OH - Wexner Center (w/ Fog)
October 27 - Pittsburgh, PA - Andy Warhol Museum (w/ Fog)
December 08 - Somerset, England - Butlins Holiday Resort - ATP's Nightmare Before Christmas (w/ Iggy and The Stooges and others)

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