DOING THE HURKY-JERK

‘Success will be achieved when we play a show on an actual beach, and the people are losing their shit, doing the hurky-jerk  (…) .’, says The Silo of Autogramm.

 

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‘What R U Waiting 4?’ is their new release and there is, at least, one instant Power Pop classic on it.

 

 

 

 

Autogramm is Jiffy Marx, CC Voltage and The Silo.

 

The original idea that guitarist Jiffy Marx and bassist C.C.Voltage had for this project was more about starting a band that would tour to sunny destinations than starting a new wave band, but it was their mutual admiration for punk and power pop that brought the two together. Along with drummer The Silo, the three had been connected through the Vancouver music scene, sharing stages, friends and even band members in seminal bands like Jerk With a Bomb, The Spitfires, Blood Meridian, Lightning Dust, Hard Drugs, Black Halos, Black Rice and Black Mountain.

 

If you could tour the world with 2 other bands, who would you ask to join?

 

Jiffy Marx: we would definitely have to ask Seattle’s Bread & Butter, who we did our first tour with and we are heading down to play with again as I type this! They are the sweetest dudes and the perfect vacation soundtrack! We just did 3 shows with our friends Comet Control from Toronto, also super sweet dudes. We also have some upcoming shows with Needles//Pins from Vancouver and Maniac of Los Angeles, also both totally sweet.. what can I say, that’s a tough one!

 

The Silo: Maybe Streetheart is still together?

 

Can you still recall the moment music became important to you? What happened?

 

Cc Voltage: Yes! My cousin Bart told me that this band called Van Halen was going to be on the radio at noon playing a song called “Runnin’ with the Devil”. I was only 5 years old and both excited and terrified as we headed home to listen to CFOX radio in Vancouver. It was the coolest thing I’d ever heard.

 

My parents had only played ABBA and The Village People for me up until then. It was the moment I got into music and it was a few more years until punk was introduced to me.

 

 

 

 

 

She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mixtape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?

 

The Silo:

Credit in the Straight World by Young Marble Giants

This is the Day by The The

Happy House by Siouxie and the Banshees

Two Step by Low

Plateau by Meat Puppets

 

(Pretty weird mixtape but I would require anyone I was dating to be down with such diverse shit!)

If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?

 

 

Jiffy Marx: It would have to be near a beach and a skate park and it would have to have a pool. Maybe in Puerto Escondido (Oaxaca Mexico) since that’s where we were when I asked The Silo to join the band. But in that case, it would have to have air conditioning as well because it’s hella hot there.

 

The Silo: Is that Compass Point place in the Bahamas still open??

 

 

The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?

 

 

The Silo: Success will be achieved when we play a show on an actual beach, and the people are losing their shit, doing the hurky-jerk and running man in the water. Even the goths will get in the water. Also probably one of us should jump a shark on a surfboard at some point during the melee. Then when people refer to Autogramm “jumping the shark”, they’ll just be talking about how rad that party was.

 

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LOVE AT FIRST RIFF

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‘When this group got together it FELT good. It was the universe saying “Make a band called Bread & Butter. Do you have something better to do? You don’t. I’m the Universe and I know these things.” It was love at first riff.’, says drummer Mason Lowe.

Bread & Butter self titled release is not brand new but it is one of those records I still play, A LOT!

 

This is a power pop group that doesn’t skimp on the pop or the power. Each song is carefully arranged, but still sounds like it’s in danger of flying out of control. Like a good party!

 

 

 
At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you knew you were on to something special?

First practice, first five minutes. We had all known each other and been pals for years. We’d even played together in different combinations – but not this exact formulation. When this group got together it FELT good. It was the universe saying “Make a band called Bread & Butter. Do you have something better to do? You don’t. I’m the Universe and I know these things.” It was love at first riff.

We wrote the songs for the first album in a summer. We’d all contribute parts, we’d pass around a notepad to write lyrics. It was the most idyllic musical situation I’d ever been in. I loved Ryan’s fun guitar sound and Lars’ nasty leads. Shane is the most purely talented musician I know – he’s such a good rock singer it’s annoying. I honestly think it’s easy for him. He’s a turd.

When we’d be working on a new song, I’d wake up in the middle of the night with like the riff from “Desperation” ringing in my head. That still happens when we’re writing. It’s not good for your sleep, but that’s the price you pay for this musical obsession!

 

 

The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?*

We try to walk the line between being uncompromising and accessible. I think we’d love for thousands of people to hear our tunes and be like, “Yep, this is my Saturday night soundtrack! Can’t wait for their next arena show.”

But it’s hard to break through these days. Our style of music is kinda niche. We take success one listener at a time. If a friend who has SUPERB taste says, “Hey, your record spends a lot of time on my turntable,” then I’m gonna be happy for the rest of the week. Truly.

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?*

Dwight Twilley Band – Looking for the Magic

This song is so simple and effective. We’re all looking for a little magic, right? We know it’s out there. We’ve felt it before. But damn if it isn’t hard to pin down. This song sounds like the search for that magic. It’s unsettled and unresolved. It’s got a witchy, desperate vibe but it’s still a cool little groover with a chorus you can sing along to.

 

If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?*

There is a great tradition in Seattle of recording really transcendent, beautiful music in gross, moldy basements. I’d love to take that to the extreme. Get in the van, get a mobile recording rig and go record a batch of songs in a cold cabin in the darkest, dankest, moldiest part of Washington State – like Hoquiam, Queets, Humptulips. We’d really challenge ourselves to lay down that good fun vibe despite the darkness. I think we’d frickin’ nail it, too.

That wouldn’t be super expensive so I guess we should have a gold toilet installed to eat up some of that budget.

 

What’s up for the rest of the year?*

We are most of the way through recording our second album and we’ll probably be done in the next couple of months. It’s a weirder album than the last one, probably due to the shitty politics that have taken over in the US. We’re not a political band, but we’re human and we react to our environment.

(Here’s a taste of the trip we’re on: here). In November, we’re gonna play a bunch of shows around Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia with our friends in Autogramm and wrap it up with a big New Year’s Eve party at the Sunset Tavern in Seattle. Tickets are still available! (here)

SIMON LOVE – Sincerely, S. Love x (Q&A)

‘Imagine hearing something like “Motherfuckers” or “I Fucking Love You” in “Toy Story 4”?’, says Simon Love.

But who knows?! As far as I am concerned, these songs are ‘only a couple of steps away’ from a Randy Newman composition (or a Van Dyke Parks production).

A couple of odd steps though. What a walk this could be!

 

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“Sincerely, S. Love x” (the kiss is meant to be pronounced) is Simon’s sophomore solo album and it features at least ten hits. Proper pop hits, with ELO harmonies, Spectoresque production, strings and trumpets, the whole shebang. All recorded over the last two years in London, England. Big city pop!

 

And read John Borack’s review for Goldmine here.

 

What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?

 

Apart from one awful day in a very expensive recording studio everything else was a dream. It’s the first record since the last Loves LP where it’s been (mostly) recorded as a “band” record with people playing live and contributing ideas and things in the studio. One big thrill was hearing A Little Orchestra adding their bits to the songs after the backing was done. Violins and things always make my nasty little numbers sound very sweet.

 

 

Do you feel part of a community, the power pop community?

 

I’ve never felt a part of a community within music. From when I was living in Cardiff and playing with The Loves to now in London. It’s not like I’m doing that much different from other bands but I’m not allowed in their gangs. Maybe I’m a really awful person? Or I smell bad? Or I’m just not very good?

 

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

“Strawberry Fields Forever” by the Beatles. Every time I hear it I’m instantly transported back to being a 7-year-old watching the single spinning around on my new record player and being terrified by the sounds coming out of the speakers. Then, just as it fades out it comes back sounding weirder! It still blows my mind.

 

If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?

I’d really love to go away for a week (or two) somewhere in the middle of nowhere and record the whole thing in one go. I’ve never done that and I think it’d make for a different sounding record. With an unlimited budget, I’d go to La Frette near Paris or Chateau d’Herouville where Elton John recorded “Honky Chateau”. Or Abbey Road of course.

What would change if Disney would call and tell you they are going to use your song in their next movie?

 

Imagine hearing something like “Motherfuckers” or “I Fucking Love You” in “Toy Story 4”? Har! I could do with the money from something like that so if you know anyone at Pixar please put them in touch.

THE YEARLINGS – Skywriting (Q&A)

‘So in my world Skywriting is a “ridiculous success” (to quote a famous Dutch tv celebrity).’, says Olaf Koeneman.

 

The Yearlings regrouped and are about to release their new record, an alt.country & Power Pop love affair.

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The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?


It already is. Since we are obviously not in this for the extravagant influx of money but for the music itself, a record is a success for me when I am happy with it. That means that I should have a good feeling about the new batch of songs and the way they have been recorded and that I should have the impression that I have improved myself as a songwriter and that we have generally grown as a band. In every aspect, this last record exceeded my expectations, certainly after the time gap of around eleven years since the previous record. So in my world Skywriting is a “ridiculous success” (to quote a famous Dutch tv celebrity). This does not mean that it would not be very nice if other people appreciate what we do, and we certainly have an outgoing attitude now that the record is done, but for me appreciation by others is secondary. I am pretty sure the other band members feel the same way about this.

 

 

 

What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?

 

For me, it was the recording of the electric guitars, which I did using an amp profiler called Kemper. This machine makes it possible for you to record guitars at home with sufficient quality and still be friends with your neighbors. It means that you have a big range of amps at your disposal, and I had quite a few guitars as well, some borrowed. I would do one song a day: look for the right sound in the morning and then record the parts in the afternoon. The outcome is that I am much happier with the way the guitars sound on our last record compared to our previous efforts. In the past, it was more like “This is the amount of time we booked the studio for. Let’s try to get the best result within this time frame”. It was never satisfactory.

If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?


By doing less work in a real studio. This would basically entail that we would do the drums, bass, acoustic instruments and perhaps even vocals ourselves. The quality would definitely suffer because I do not underestimate one bit what Jordi Langelaan and Martijn Groeneveld have done for us in terms of engineering. But when push comes to shove you have to make a choice: wait for another, say, five years until you have financially recovered from your previous release (which involves way more than just recording costs, by the way) or compromise the sound quality and put out the next record sooner. I have no idea what our situation is going to be in two years, but I start to believe that perhaps the sound quality should not be leading. First of all, you need to keep the flow in the band alive. Second, I recently fell in love with Pinegrove’s latest record, Skylight. It has a strange production. You can see on youtube how they recorded it. It is certainly low budget, and I am not sure whether this was because of their financial situation at the time or for artistic reasons. The thing is, I love that record anyway, and the strange production is part of the appreciation.

If you could tour the world with 2 other bands, who would you ask to join?


At the moment I would say The Maureens and Reiger, two Utrecht-based bands with very sweet and interesting people. I appreciate their work a lot and I think I would have a great time with them on the road.

 

What’s up for the rest of the year?

 

We’re still waiting for the record to officially come out, so that will certainly be a big moment for us. Then we will go out and play. First the release show in Ekko, on December 9th. There are some in stores planned, which I am looking forward to, and club/café gigs are coming in as we speak. We have some left-over songs that for some reason did not make it to the record and we may decide to put them out as an ep. And the songwriting needs to happen again because ultimately that is the biggest joy of all: going into a rehearsal room with a new song, and see what it does.

 

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The Yearlings are:
Herman Gaaff: bass, definitely no vocals
Leon Geuyen: drums, backing vocals
Niels Goudswaard: vocals, acoustic guitars, harmonica, percussion
Olaf Koeneman: vocals, guitars, mandolin, keyboard
Bertram Mourits: slide guitar, dobro, keyboard
With René van Barneveld on pedal steel

The Cherry Bluestorms – Whirligig! (Q&A)

‘We hired an Uileann pipes player with stellar credits for ‘Sleep’ and L.A. Phil string and French horn players for the coda to ‘Roy Wood’.’, say Glen Laughlin and Deborah Gee.  Whirligig! is The Cherry Bluestorms’ new record.

 

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Pure Pop Radio/Alan Haber writes:

The Los Angeles-based pop-rockers Deborah Gee and Glen Laughlin take the world stage with their most assured and accessible long player yet.

Mixing Rolling Stones affects from the Brian Jones era with other mid-sixties sounds, the Bluestorms deliver a smashing collection of songs sure to please. The rolling rocker “Heel to Toe,” sporting a most melodic, very catchy chorus is one such pearl; the flattering, rocky, Gee-sung portrait “Roy Wood,” which quotes the Stones rather cleverly and takes an unexpected turn at the end with a comforting, orchestrated coda is another.

 

Let’s add some Jefferson Airplane to that mix as well.

Check it out!

 

At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you know you were on to something special?

After Bad Penny Opera, we knew we wanted to release a collection of songs that were more representative of the band, particularly what we do live, and not a concept album.  Once we figured out what songs we had that suited, we knew it would be a good collection that fitted the bill.

 

 

 

 

 

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

 

Deborah:  ‘By This River’ by Brian Eno.  I love it so much, I am recording a version for my forthcoming solo album.  Glen: There are so many!  ‘Waterloo Sunset’ comes to mind, but I’m going to say ‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’ by Oasis, cause it’s perfect!

 

 

Magic can happen when you are playing in front of a crowd. Can you recall such a moment?

 

The first time we ever played in London we played the Dublin Castle.  We arranged to share gear with the other bands on the bill and had no idea what we would end up with.  Some were great, some not so great.  But, we soundchecked after the other bands with ‘Daisy Chain’ from our first album, Transit of Venus.  The club was mostly empty except for the people working, the other bands and a few others.  They erupted into applause when we finished the song and it was very encouraging.  We had a great night and the audience demanded an encore.  The band had played all the songs we knew, so Deborah and I did an impromptu duet of ‘Sunday Driving South’ and the audience all got out their lighters like we were at the Concertgebouw or something.  We were overwhelmed!

 

If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?

 

Fortunately for us, we have a very well-equipped recording studio and essentially have no limits. We hired an Uileann pipes player with stellar credits for ‘Sleep’ and L.A. Phil string and French horn players for the coda to ‘Roy Wood’.  I wouldn’t mind enhancing my orchestral modeling suite, though.

 

What’s up for the rest of the year? 

 

The first thing on the agenda is that we are moving our studio and living space.  We are still working on where we’ll land.  We are looking into a great commercial space to share.  It has plenty of space and if we go that route our vintage keyboard collection will have its own separate room.  After we get that sorted we’ll be rehearsing the new band and finishing Deborah’s solo album.  The fourth Cherry Bluestorms album is already written and demoed so we’ll be starting on that as well.  We are hoping to put some shows together, in and out of town once the band is ready and we have a window.  I am also starting to think about releasing my own solo album.  Lastly, we are working on a book of Cherry Bluestorms lyrics called ‘Wordstorms’.

 

 

STONER CONTROL – Alone in the City (Q&A)

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Photo – Hutch Harris

‘I try just to think of us as a rock band without any limitations that come along with certain genre tags.’, says Charley Williams about Stoner Control. The band just released ‘Alone in the City’.

Talkhouse writes: Stoner Control is an alternative rock band based out of Portland, Oregon. They grew out of a temporary side-project to become a powerhouse trio that has been making music since 2013. Taking inspiration from the rich sonic history of the Pacific Northwest, Stoner Control fuses a high-energy pop-punk sound with the unfiltered, lo-fi aesthetic of Portland’s thriving underground indie rock scene. Lead singer and guitarist Charley Williams infuses his lyrics with an honesty that is both playful and raw, creating driving melodies that echo the ThermalsBuilt to SpillSuperchunk, and Death Cab for Cutie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you knew you were on to something special?

 

I don’t know if I ever really thought it was special. The recording process was definitely a lot of fun but now that some time has passed I don’t think it was the best batch of songs I could have presented to the band. I still think it’s a fun record but I’m excited to record new songs that I feel are a better representation of what we are all about.

 

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Photo – Jason Quigley

 

 

The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?

 

I guess it’s easier than ever to reach your target audience which is pretty awesome. I can post something on social media and have it go directly to the people who care about what we are doing. I guess the one downside to the change is that we don’t really get money out of this thing that we invested a lot of time, effort and money into, which is kinda a downer. Still, the overall goal is to be heard and in a lot of ways that aspect is the best it has ever been for musicians.

 

Do you feel part of a community, the power pop community?

 

I definitely feel a part of a very specific community within the Portland music scene. There’s a lot of bands I love and do my best to support. But as far as breaking through to a wider audience in Portland, that hasn’t really been achieved yet. I don’t think of us as a power pop band necessarily so I don’t think we are a part of that community. I try just to think of us as a rock band without any limitations that come along with certain genre tags. I also often find myself confused with what power pop exactly means. It feels kinda vague.

 

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

 

So many songs. I guess a big one would be Carry the Zero by Built to Spill. It has been one of my favorites songs since high school and I still get blown away by it. It gets better with every new part which is a pretty amazing feat. A lot of songs I love I’m just waiting for the one part I like to happen again, but with this one, the whole song just keeps getting better and better until it ends.

 

What’s up for the rest of the year?

 

We are waiting to hear back on a few shows that I’m hoping will work out. I really want to start playing at venues that I haven’t played at yet. I’m getting a little worn out on playing the same places with the same bands. Other than that we are just gonna keep practicing and writing until I know we have a great group of songs. I already have more songs written than the last record, but I’m not gonna rush it because I really want to make sure I’m 100% confident in them before we release them.

 

EVERET ALMOND – S/T (Q&A)

‘I’m never really fully satisfied with anything that I do, but this record was extremely personal to me and when I was finished with it, I was actually really happy with it.’, says Everet Almond.

He has just released a new EP, called ‘Ten Days’ but we spoke about the record he released earlier this year, titled ‘Everet Almond’.

 

 

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What was the most fun you had during the making of the last album?

 

This is the first album I recorded completely by myself – the writing, playing (almost) all the instruments, producing, recording, mixing, and mastering.  But my favorite part of the recording process (and my favorite parts to listen to) were the few parts that I didn’t play – which were the drums on ‘Thought This Through’, the snare drum/military cadence on ‘Beautiful Neighbor’, and drums on the little jam at the end of ‘Black Car’, which were all played by my son Waylon, who was 6 years old at the time.  My daughter Nelle (3 years old at the time) does some singing on that ‘Black Car’ jam and she starts the record with some illegible interjection as well.

 

But the fact that Waylon could make those parts happen really impressed me and I was incredibly proud of him.  Watching him with the headphones on and the click track metronome in his ears as he pretty much nailed it on the 2nd or 3rd take is something that will always be etched in my mind.

 

At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you knew you were on to something special?

 

I’m never really fully satisfied with anything that I do, but this record was extremely personal to me and when I was finished with it, I was actually really happy with it. I set up a studio in my attic and it was me myself and I for 2 months just grinding it out. Track by track.  It’s pretty much my memoirs of the last 15 years, from high school to the present day. All the right and wrong choices I’ve made in life are all there in the lyrics.

I guess I knew I was on to something during the writing process. I wrote 90% of the record before I ever recorded one note and I was really excited about the whole biography/concept record thing.  I basically taught myself how to engineer, mix and master while recording this album and was surprised when I would finish a song and it didn’t sound like garbage!

 

 

 

 

The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?

 

Freedom. Not being tied to a label or taking anyone else’s money to record means that I didn’t have to listen to anyone else’s ideas and opinions while doing it. Everything on the record sounds like I wanted it to sound. That was incredibly liberating.

 

The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?

 

To me, every time someone listens to it and tells me how much they loved it and which parts and songs and lyrics they specifically liked on it are so satisfying.  But true success to me is when my peers – fellow musicians and songwriters – tell me how much they like it.  Two weeks ago I received some very kind words from my idol and absolute favorite songwriter of all time, Sir Paul McCartney, about this record – that’s more success than I could have ever hoped for!!!

Can you still recall the moment music became important to you? What happened?

 

My Dad is a great drummer and introduced me to music at a very early age.  I’m a drummer first and was actually only a drummer til my 13th birthday when my parents bought me an Epiphone acoustic guitar – which is the acoustic guitar that I used on this album.  From that day forward, music was the most important thing in my life.  I wrote my first proper song about 2 weeks later, and from then til now music was all I ever thought about.

 


 

Don’t forget to check the new EP as well.

 

 

GENTLE HEN – Be Nice To Everyone (Q&A)

‘What I mean is, we were able to capture the mood, expression, and intention of the songs in a way that feels honest and sincere. The goofy ones are goofy, the clever ones are clever, and the moving ones are moving.’, says Henning Ohlenbusch about the new Gentle Hen release ‘Be Nice To Everyone’.

I couldn’t agree more. What a gem!

 

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What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?

 

In general, I write the songs in solitude while sitting on the sofa with my red acoustic guitar or while I’m walking through my little New England town, arranging and rearranging words in my head. One of the great pleasures of my life is the first time that I present a song to the band. We’ll be sitting around in the studio with our instruments and I’ll start to play the song. By the time I’m done: Brian, Max, and Ken are generally already playing along working out parts, jumping in with inspired suggestions. It’s an incredible moment to hear one of my songs take on this new life and to watch those guys work their magic in that little-carpeted room.

 

 

At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you know you were on to something special?

 

I was pretty sure that we had a good collection of songs. Some of them, we’d been playing live already and they felt really nice. I also thought that the arrangements and performances in the recordings were just right for the songs. While recording, we generally kept things simple and fast and inspired, struggling to not to over-think and over-work everything.

 

But it was when I first got the preliminary mixes from Justin Pizzoferrato that I truly heard the album as a listener rather than a creator. I knew I’d like his approach since I already was familiar with much of his work with Body/Head, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., Lou Barlow, Suitcase Junket, Speedy Ortiz, J Mascis, Sonic Youth, and And the Kids, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the powerful, natural, and full sound he was able to achieve. I had already attempted to mix the album myself, having done all the recording, but he was able to make us sound more like us than I was. Hearing his mixes for the first time was a great moment, the music worked as a movie soundtrack in the car while driving through the small winding roads of the Berkshires in the early autumn.

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The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?

 

There is an artistic success and public success. I think the record is artistically successful. That’s not to imply it belongs in a museum or that it’s a national treasure or anything. What I mean is, we were able to capture the mood, expression, and intention of the songs in a way that feels honest and sincere. The goofy ones are goofy, the clever ones are clever, and the moving ones are moving. Of course, this is purely subjective. But to me, artistic success simply means that the creator was able to express what they sought out to express.

 

I set the bar pretty low for public success. If one person is moved by the music, well, then that’s a success. I’ve received enough comments now in which people expressed how the songs have helped them or moved them or amused them that I feel satiated. Anything more is just more and I’ll lap it up like a kid eating too much ice cream. There’s no greater feeling than learning that someone is listening to your music. (Note to everyone: let the artists know when you are interacting with their stuff. It feeds them.)

 

 

Do you feel part of a community?

 

Yes, this little town of Northampton, MA is, for whatever reason, an incredible mecca for songwriters and performers. There’s wonderful, creative music coming out at all levels in underground house concerts, at multiple small venues, and in large concert halls. Besides those at the various area colleges, we’ve got two incredible radio stations (WRSI and WXOJ) that support local independent music. We have international heroes like Frank Black and J Mascis and tiny never heard-of-them bands and it’s not terribly unusual for them to cross paths and share stages. I’m not sure what it is about this and the neighboring towns but there’s a real community of support and collaboration and I’m so pleased to have found it.

 

Lately, I’ve found another community online on Twitter. It sounds silly and superficial but it’s been so great to find all these people around the world that share a love for music. I’m pretty sure we’re not all bots.

 

Magic can happen when you are playing in front of a crowd. Can you recall such a moment?

 

I experienced one of these moments just last week at our album release concert. We’re playing in this beautiful cozy listening venue called the Parlor Room in Northampton, MA. The audience sat at tables with flickering candles and bottles of BYO-wine. We invited a couple of guests up on stage, Lesa Bezo from the Fawns (on guitar and vocals) and Andrew Goulet of Night School )on pedal steel guitar) and we kicked into our last song, the gentle atmospheric ballad Rock and Roll Camper.

 

I wrote the song years ago in the basement of my parents’ house and somehow it has followed me through all my bands through the years. We recorded it when we were called School for the Dead on our first full length The New You. During the show, as the song ambled along, I suddenly really tuned in to the sound of the music. This band of incredible players was creating the nicest lush warm embrace. It was so lovely and pure sounding and the crowd has fully tuned in, and it kind of just turned my brain on its side. I was so taken aback by the mood in the room that I completely skipped a section of singing. I forgot where I was and the band, of course, didn’t miss a beat and followed right along. The song took over and we floated atop of it. The cold cruel autumn wind outside was forgotten. Time stopped and sped by simultaneously.

 

These are moments that you dig for as a performer and when you stumble across one, there’s nothing like it.

 

LAST GREAT DREAMERS – 13th Floor Renegades (Q&A)

‘I knew we had created something special and our finest work to date.’, says Slyder about Last Great Dreamers’ latest release 13th Floor Renegades.

‘Intelligent Power Pop from former Glam Punkers’, writes Vive Le Rock! magazine.

Go check it out, you will find yourself singing along very easily after the first listen.

 

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At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you knew you were on to something special?

 

I think throughout the process right from the first writing session we were aware we had some gems of songs in the making. As we arranged the songs with the full band it was exciting to see the songs develop and take shape, so from then into the recording studio was all a special time. For me personally, I got a huge buzz out of adding my lead guitar parts and harmony vocals as a lot of those bits were written and developed at the time, but I guess the ultimate moment was after we had mixed everything and we had a bit of a listening party with a few close friends of the band; that was very emotional for me, I knew we had created something special and our finest work to date.

 

 

 

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why? 

 

I am a huge music fan and of the emotions music and songs can provoke. With artists I love like Manic Street Preachers and Morrissey, they are both very passionate in their writing. I find it easy to get inside the lyrics and mold them to what could be my situation or emotions at the time. One song that means a lot to me that kind of sums up the whole reason why we do this is ‘Ballad of Mott the Hoople’ by Mott The Hoople. There are a few lines that in particular that I love…

 

I changed my name in search of fame
To find the Midas touch
Oh I wish I’d never wanted then
What I want now twice as much

So rock’n’roll’s a loser’s game
It mesmerizes and I can’t explain
The reasons for the sights and for the sounds
The greasepaint still sticks to my face
So what the hell, I can’t erase
The rock’n’roll feeling from my mind

 

Magic can happen when you are playing in front of a crowd. Can you recall such a moment?

 

Yes, I can, it was very vivid and a real moment. LGD was on UK tour with The Quireboys and playing at Holmfirth Picturedrome which is a lovely old theatre in the north of England. We were playing ‘White Light, Black Heart’ from our last album and during an audience participation bit, the lighting engineer put the spotlight on a huge glitterball. The stage was an old-fashioned built-in wooden one and the fantastic crowd was illuminated by the stars from the glitterball. It’s hard to explain the feeling but at that moment I was transported back in time to when I was a young teenager at gigs, at the front looking up at my idols. I think it was a combination of the old theatre, wooden stage, the lighting, but I suddenly had a realization of what I was doing but from the teenage me as if I was looking up at myself from the audience. I guess you could say it was an out of body experience.

 

 

 

 


What would change if Disney would call and tell you they are going to use your song in their next movie?

 

Income! The biggest drawback of being in an independent band is the restrictions on budget, so more time for recording, bigger budget for PR and marketing, the budget for touring and ultimately more time to spend being a musician for 100% of the time rather than having to find additional sources of income.

 

What’s up for the rest of the year?

We have some shows in December, first, we are playing at Planet Rock Radio’s Planet Rockstock Festival in Wales on the 2nd followed by 5 UK headline dates, 7th Birmingham, 8th Glasgow, 9th Sheffield, 15th  London & 16th Southampton.

 


 

Last Great Dreamers with their distinctly British take on power-pop are probably the UK rock scene’s best kept secret. They built a formidable live reputation in the mid 90’s with their shimmering glam style. Their debut album Retrosexual, a love letter to the early ’70s glam scene, caught the attention of Kerrang! magazine, resulting in an awards nomination for ‘best new band’ before tragedy and disillusionment forced the band to call it a day.

In 2014 they staged a fabulous comeback releasing an album of rarities, the critically acclaimed ‘Crash Landing In Teenage Heaven’ and have since in 2015 toured with Runaway’s singer Cherie Currie & in 2016 opened for bands such as the Darkness, Terrorvision, Hey Hello & Tigertailz and released 2 brand new singles ‘Dope School’, & ‘Glitterball Apocalypse’ both achieving no.1 status on the TBFM/HRH radio network charts.

Promoting their 3rd album Transmission From Oblivion, which received rave reviews in both Classic Rock & Vive Le Rock magazines to name a few, in 2017 LGD took to the road on a hugely successful 20 date UK tour as special guests to The Quireboys firmly cementing their reputation as a class live act full of energy, emotion, grit & glamour! Also that year they played the main stages at Cambridge Rock Festival & HRHAOR Festivals in UK & Ibiza!

In 2018 LGD released their 4th album ’13th Floor Renegades’ to wide critical acclaim being described as “possibly the band’s finest hour”. They have relentlessly toured including their 1st trips to Spain & Norway as well as a spring UK tour & numerous festivals & support slots with the likes of The Alarm & Dan Baird.

 

 

 

SCOTT GAGNER – Pins & Needles (Q&A)

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‘I’ve been listening to lots of Guided By Voices and remembering that things don’t need to be so slick.’, says Scott Gagner about the new record he is working on.

But we need to talk about his 2017 release Pins & Needles first. So we did.

 

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What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?

 

That’s easy: tracking seven songs live with a killer band in seven hours. The drums were being handled by the legendary Pete Thomas, of Elvis Costello and The Attractions fame. He was friendly with an acquaintance of mine, Jason Weinheimer, who introduced us. Pete seemed to like my demos, and agreed to fly up from LA for the one-day session. Once that was set, Jason and his friend Chris Michaels decided to fly out from Arkansas to play guitar and bass, respectively. Add to that my guitarist friend, Arnie Kim, and I had somehow assembled a world-class band, virtually overnight. I sang live vocals with the band, often playing rhythm guitar as well. The whole day had a very fun, loose vibe. We didn’t have time to get precious. Still, Pete was often the one encouraging us to “try one more.” He was by far the biggest name in the room, but was easily the most prepared, and always listened to playbacks with his eyes closed, in total concentration. He even indulged us with old “war stories” from his 70’s touring days. I’ve been obsessed with his drumming since I was a kid, so, in all honesty, this ended up being one of the biggest days of my life thus far.

 

 

 

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

 

I have thousands, but let’s go with two. First, “Something so Right” by Paul Simon (off the fabulous LP “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon”, 1973). This song contains one of my favorite lyrical passages of all time:

 

They’ve got a wall in China,

It’s a thousand miles long,

To keep out the foreigners,

They made it strong,

And I’ve got a wall around me,

That you can’t even see,

It took a little time,

To get next to me

 

It’s relatable, funny, macro, micro, external, internal, wry, vulnerable, and incredibly clever. Paul has an uncanny ability to take a well known cultural phenomenon and use it as a vehicle to dissect some internal emotional truth. The song “Graceland” is another great example of this.

 

The other song I wish I had written is “Solar Sister” by The Posies (“Frosting on the Beater” LP, 1993). Melody is extremely important to me, and this song has one of the best verse melodies ever written, fabs included. It’s fairly straightforward if you try to analyze it (a little 3-note ascending melody that repeats, slightly higher, harmonized), but there’s something magical going on that defies analyzation. I’ve been lucky enough to work with the song’s author Ken Stringfellow for a few years, and I asked him about writing it. He just shrugged and said it sort of tumbled out of him in 30 minutes. Then I quit music.

 

 

Magic can happen when you are playing in front of a crowd. Can you recall such a moment?

 

My last show in San Francisco (as part of the 13th Annual “International Pop Overthrow” Festival) was very special. I’ve started experimenting with going off-microphone for small portions of the show to help draw people in by singing softer. I did so for a song called “I’ve Taken a Shine To You,” standing right on the edge of the stage, barely strumming my guitar. Luckily, the approach worked, and you could hear a pin drop. The song was written for my daughter, so it’s already fairly emotional for me to sing it. I got to the third verse which goes “Like the seasick to the land / Like the fallen to the helping hand / Like the broken heart to the blues / I’ve taken a shine to you”, made eye contact with a few members of the audience, and nearly fell apart. In that moment, I was connecting the lyric to each person I scanned in the crowd — how every one of us needs a helping hand from time to time. I pulled it together and finished the song, but it was a very intense, very real moment of connection to the crowd. The applause at the end seemed to indicate that they felt something too.

 

 

So what about putting your ultimate band together? No restrictions. No limitations. If you want David Bowie on backing vocals and Prince on guitar, go ahead. What would the band look like? And what is the song you will start jamming on. To find out it if this really works?

 

Pete Thomas, Drums (Elvis Costello, Ron Sexsmith, everybody)

Gerard Love, Bass, Backing Vocals (Teenage Fanclub)

Ken Stringfellow, Keys, Guitars, Backing Vocals (The Posies, Big Star, REM)

Doug Gillard, Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals (Nada Surf, Guided By Voices)

 

We’d probably start with “Rain” by The Beatles. The fact that I’ve played/recorded with two of these people is still staggering to me.

 

 

She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mixtape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?

 

Not a Second Time (The Beatles)

The Second Time Around (Frank Sinatra)

I Second That Emotion (Smokey Robinson)

Second Hand News (Fleetwood Mac)

 

and:

 

Don’t You Want Me (The Human League)

 

 

What’s up for the rest of the year?

 

I’m 75% done with the follow-up to 2017’s “Pins & Needles.” Most of the basic tracking is done. I just need to rewrite a few lyrics, sing, and fix up a few instrumental parts. I’m doing things a little differently on this LP, playing all the drums and most of the instruments myself — not because I think I play better than anyone, but because I think my particular approach to playing will give it more of a distinctive stamp. I’ve been listening to lots of Guided By Voices and remembering that things don’t need to be so slick. Anyway, the LP should be out mid-next year, 2019.