Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Adam McIlwee of Tigers Jaw

I stand with Adam McIlwee in the kitchen of My Parents House, the former Spraynard residence and host to West Chester's best basement shows. The Tigers Jaw singer/guitarist takes a long pause to contemplate who his favourite character from 'The Office' is, while I nervously glance over at a hissing vat of pasta on the stove. Adam decides on intern turned failed CEO Ryan and the water starts to boil over. As we both rush over to turn the stove down, Tom May from The Menzingers and Corey Ciresi of Lee Corey Oswald enter the room. Insert 'How many band members from Scranton does it take to make spaghetti?' quip here. "Trying to steal my interview?" Adam jokes. Pat Graham of Spraynard walks in, apologizing for leaving the water on unattended and forgetting about it. Mystery solved and the interview can continue.

Take Aim Zine.: You're doing a few new solo songs tonight, what made you decide to pursue that?
Adam McIlwee: [Tigers Jaw] wanted to tour with Lee Corey Oswald, but the rest of the band couldn't do the tour, so they asked me if I'd just do it on my own and I said yes.
T.A.Z.: Did you already have songs?
A.M.: No. Well, I had some in mind and this put some pressure on me to finish them and have new stuff.
T.A.Z.: Are you recording your solo work?
A.M.: I already did. I have CDs with three songs.
T.A.Z.: I heard you're also doing a zine. Does that go along with the album?
A.M.: Well, I don't have that with me...
Pat: Ha, the way you said that sounded so sad!
A.M.: I mean, I don't have it ready for this tour. I wouldn't have been able to get it printed. It's unrelated [to the album], but it's all from me, so I guess there's something similar about everything.
T.A.Z.: Writing for one, I obviously love zines. Have you ever made one before?
A.M.: For school and stuff.
T.A.Z.: You made zines for projects? That's so cool!
A.M.: Yeah, for English class.

T.A.Z.: Tigers Jaw are working on a new album, how far into that are you guys?
A.M.: Not very. I know Ben has a song, I have one we've practiced a bit. We don't have that many songs finished and we've agreed to do a lot of other stuff, so it's going slowly.
Corey: Am I allowed to watch your interview?
T.A.Z.: Yes! You can participate if you want.
A.M.: I have to text my Mom, she sent me like four texts in a row.
Corey: I'll answer a question while he does that! Pretend I'm Adam though.
Pat: What's your favourite restaurant?
Corey: That's a good question. I'll go with Buona Pizza in downtown Scranton.
A.M.: I wouldn't say it like that... I don't get pizza there, only cheesesteaks. And hoagies.
[Note to foreign readers- A hoagie is what everyone outside of the PA/NJ/NY area calls a 'submarine sandwich.' Either way, both names are silly and they're delicious, so no arguments about it.]
T.A.Z.: Are Tigers Jaw playing Bamboozle again this year?
A.M.: *laughing* I don't think so. They haven't asked us yet and they would have by now.
T.A.Z.: I remember you saying the only other band you wanted to see that night was Das Racist and they were on at the same time as you guys.
A.M.: Yes! I was so bummed!
T.A.Z.: Did you ever get to see or talk to them?
A.M.: Nop,e, never did. I mean, I got to see a lot of other great bands, but I was looking forward to their set.

T.A.Z.: You do interviews on your blog with web comic artists and cartoonists, what are some of your favourite comics or graphic novels?
A.M.: Matt Seneca's 'Affected'... Anything by Jack Kirby. Batman.
T.A.Z.: You mention Kreayshawn on your blog a lot too.
A.M.: She's my inspiration! All the songs I'm doing tonight are because of her and her friends. I sample her in them.
T.A.Z.: Her friends? Like that other girl who just walks around and says two things in 'Gucci Gucci'?
A.M.: They just kicked her out! They're called 'The White Girl Mob' and Kreayshawn and V-Nasty kicked Li'l Debbie out!
T.A.Z.: *laughing* Her name is Li'l Debbie? I did not know that.
[note to foreign readers- Little Debbie is an American brand of pre-packaged desserts, so this is about as funny as a rapper with the nickname Tim Tam.]
A.M.: And V-Nasty just released an album with Gucci Mane.
T.A.Z.: Have you seen the fish taco parody of 'Gucci Gucci'? It's like the story of my life.
A.M.: No, I haven't. I'll have to look that up.
T.A.Z.: The girl in it looks exactly like her. So, do Tigers Jaw have any overseas tours planned for 2012?
A.M.: We want to do a million things, like go back to the U.K. and eventually get to California.
T.A.Z.: Australia?
A.M.: Oh yeah! Australia and Japan are my top two.

At this point, I asked a question about movies that somehow veered into everyone in the kitchen nerding out about MTV's 'True Life.' Fun fact: Corey almost had his own episode about being in a long-distance relationship.

T.A.Z.: What was your favourite piece of news in 2011?
A.M.: That Li'l Debbie got kicked out of Kreayshawn's crew. *laughs*
T.A.Z.: You should contact her and do an album together!
A.M.: I actually tried to get in touch with her on Twitter.
T.A.Z.: We'll send her this interview and make it happen!
A.M.: Yes!

So, if any of you out there personally know Li'l Debbie, get this to her ASAP. If you don't know her, Twitter link the crap out of this article to her. If you live in the US, be sure to make it out to Tigers Jaw's upcoming tour with Captain We're Sinking! and (on the second half of the tour) Balance & Composure. If you don't live in the US, buy Tigers Jaw's self titled album!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Static Jacks interview

Right before Halloween, I had a chat over the phone with The Static Jacks' guitarist, Henry Kaye before he played a sold-out show at Johnny Brendas opening for The Wombats. The New Jersey band recently released their debut album, If You're Young on Fearless Records; for a taste of their music, check out the new video for "Into the Sun" above!

Take Aim Zine: How was CMJ?
Henry Kaye: It was good, though pretty brief because we had to leave right away to start the tour we're on now with The Wombats. We played two shows, both went really well.
T.A.Z.: One was with We Are Scientists, right?
H.K.: Yeah, that was a really good one! It was a party for our management company, all these incredible bands. Quite the show to end on before starting this tour.
T.A.Z.: I know it's only a day in, but how is the tour going?
H.K.: Incredible! Last night we played in D.C. at the 9:30 Club. It's a pretty funny story, it was an early show, our start time was at 5:30, so the morning we left Jersey for D.C. we had van trouble and couldn't leave until the afternoon. After flooring it down to the show, we pulled up to the venue at 5:32, two minutes into our set, ran onstage and immediately started playing. The place was already packed with loads of people, we played a great show and everyone loved it. It was a crazy, whirlwind day. An interesting start, but so far, so good!
T.A.Z.: Oh phew, glad you guys made it! So, you guys are signed to Fearless and have a very different sound than other bands on the label.
H.K.: Oh, definitely.
T.A.Z.: What was the reaction when people found out you signed with them?
H.K.: I think Fearless fans don't mind. So far they seem to be into it, because we pull from early punk influences that a lot of these kids seem to like... We've gotten a number of new, younger fans at shows that treat us really well, give us candy bars and stuff. *laughs*
T.A.Z.: Had you heard of Fearless or were familiar with any of their bands before you signed to them?
H.K.: I never really listened to any of their current bands, but I love their earlier bands like At the Drive In. That had an impact on me. Oh, and Eve 6, who I really liked when I was younger.
T.A.Z.: Fearless is pretty famous for their 'Pop Goes...' series, would you ever do a cover for one of those in the future?
H.K.: Oh wow, I never really thought about that... It would be fun, but we never talked about it.
T.A.Z.: One of The Static Jacks' t-shirt designs is a play on The Misfits skull logo, are you big Misfits fans?
H.K.: They're one of our favourites, especially since they're from New Jersey as well. Ian, our singer, his voice always gets compared to Glenn Danzig's vocals and it's the greatest compliment ever.
T.A.Z.: Heck yeah, New Jersey! Is that how all of you met, in high school there?
H.K.: Myself, Nick (our drummer), and Ian are from Westfield, New Jersey. We started playing music together when we were 14, Freshman year of high school... Then after we graduated high school, we brought on Mike, our bass player who grew up a town over from us. So we're all from the same county in New Jersey.
T.A.Z.: Did you come to Philly a lot or were you more the New York type?
H.K.: We got our start playing in New York, but we went to Philly plenty of times. We're at Johnny Brendas now, we've also played World Cafe Live a few times. New York City is closer to us, but Philly is still only an hour and a half away.
T.A.Z.: You said on your Twitter that you're a big fan of Halloween, what are some of your favourite scary movies?
H.K.: It's not a movie, but I just downloaded all the Simpsons 'Treehouse of Horror' episodes.
T.A.Z.: Oh man, those are the best!
H.K: Yeah! I just like all those cartoon Halloween specials from the 90s. And the 'Boy Meets World' Halloween episode, you know, where it's a 'Scream' parody.
T.A.Z.: Yes! The one kid's name is Kenny and he gets killed with a pencil through the head!
H.K.: "They killed Kenny!"
T.A.Z.: The best line in the whole episode is where Corey points at the mark the pencil left behind and says, "We'll always remember he was this tall!"
H.K.: Classic television.
T.A.Z.: In one of your music videos, it shows you busking on the street, do you do that a lot?
H.K.: It's been a while, but there was a year or year and a half period where we would busk at Union Square in New York on a regular basis, like a few times a week. We just thought it was a really good way to get the word out and have people exposed to our in a different way from usual.
T.A.Z.: It is a pretty unique way of being heard.
H.K.: It's a great community and we got good responses. We did it when we were down at SXSW and in Montreal, we try to do it as much as we can.
T.A.Z.: I read a while back that The Static Jacks did a Daytrotter session, but I can't find it. Did they have to scrap it? What happened with that?
H.K.: *laughing* What happened was we got there to do it and unfortunately, after three hours of set-up and whatever, the engineer spilled coffee all over the mixing board, ruining all the tracking and everything we'd worked on.
T.A.Z.: Oh no!
H.K.: I can say though, that on Halloween we're doing another one in Austin, where they set up a new studio. So we're going back to do another one that will hopefully not have any problems and that will be online shortly.
T.A.Z.: Are you doing a show that night too?
H.K.: Sadly, no. We tried to get a Halloween show.... We're playing VooDoo Fest in New Orleans, so we're going to celebrate that weekend.
T.A.Z.: Are you working on any new material?
H.K.: Right after we made the album, we recorded an EP together, so it was around the same time of the creation of If You're Young.... I'm not even sure what the plan is for putting that out, but I imagine it'll be in a number of months and that'll be our follow-up. We're already prepared and one step ahead.
T.A.Z.: Another thing I saw on your Twitter is that you guys went to Marvel Comics headquarters. I'm super jealous! How'd you manage to get in there?
H.K.: Their website director, the editor for, he got our CD somehow and Tweeted about it as a thank you. We just got to talking and our publicist put us in touch, so we got to go to the headquarters and hang out for the day. Ian and I went over and did a short interview with them, got to meet the staff, and got a lot of free comics. It was one of the best days of my life.
T.A.Z.: Who's your favourite Marvel character or what's your favourite series?
H.K.: I have to say I like Spiderman best. There's one volume called 'Spiderman Blue' by Tim Sale, that's the best. And the early stuff with Gwen Stacy that Stan Lee wrote. So, I'm excited about the new movie coming out.
T.A.Z.: Oh yeah, because she's in it. Have you seen the preview for 'The Avengers?'
H.K.: Yes I have, they showed it to us when we were at the headquarters that day, before they prepared the world for that.
T.A.Z.: Wow, before anyone else! Well, that's about all the questions I have for today, thanks for talking with me and have a great show!
H.K.: Thanks, take care!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Back from the Morgue - Mad Sin in Australia

This week Mad Sin kicks off their long awaited Australian tour with their first show in Brisbane on Thursday night featuring Casino Rumbles, Mouthguard and The Vampers. The German psychobilly legends are playing six shows across Australia which are sure to be wild and with a possibility of pyrotechnics. I spoke to singer Koefte de Ville about 'Burn and Rise', Psychobilly and Adam Ant.

Angie Hurlock

Released in 2010, 'Burn and Rise' is the eleventh album from Germany's Mad Sin. With an aim to return to more of a rockabilly sound with this latest album, the songs 'Nine Lives' and 'Sex, Love, Blood'n'Death' firmly cement the rockabilly roots of Mad Sin. “We started working on it [Burn and Rise] and it was our plan to get back to our roots which are more rockabilly and early punk stuff. The album we did before we went a little too far with the sound and it was too fast.” During the writing of the album, Mad Sin suffered the loss friends which affected the album making it very autobiographical and influencing the title. “A lot of shit happened to us, a lot of people died, shit happened in our private lives when we were in the process of writing the songs. We didn't want to do a dark album with depressive sort of stuff. We thought the people that we lost wouldn't want that, they would want us to have a big fucking party. So we came up with the idea of calling 'Burn and Rise', burn the old shit and rise up again”.

Despite most songs on the album being written in English, there are a handful of songs in Koefte's native tongue, German. Mostly Mad Sin songs are in English to reach a larger audience however, with the emotive nature of 'Burn and Rise', Koefte found the words for some songs felt more organic in German. “There is one song, 'Für Immer' which is really a love song. I split up with my girlfriend when all that shit was happening and I wrote the song in German because it came from my heart, it came naturally. Geisterfahrer, I always wanted to do that song because we just love that title. Geisterfahrer, which is the word for the guys that drive on the wrong side of the road, its kinda a metaphoric song and it kinda had to be in German. I think on the next album there will be some more songs in German, because people enjoy it here”.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Mad Sin and their influence on modern psychobilly, but the scene was almost non existent in the early 80s when Koefte first became interested in the rockabilly scene. “ I started when psychobilly wasn't even there, as a rockabilly teddy boy. That was like 1981 and in Germany there were no psychobilly bands. I was listening to a lot of old rockabilly stuff, I was eleven years old when I started and I had no money. From there on it kinda evolved, it was like Psychobilly was the new thing with rockabilly an old style and there was new rockabilly, those cat kinda bands which were a little more soft. But then the Meteors came with their very first album. We started to be at first very rockabilly and psychobilly came later. We changed our clothes from traditional teddy boy gear to jeans and boots and stud belts and stuff like this and we had the flat tops, you know stuff like that. Berlin was a big underground scene at the time, a lot of street fights between the gangs, but everyone was into music”. On the 20 years of Sin album Mad Sin cover Adam Ant's 1985 hit, “Vive Le Rock”. Despite Koefte finding Adam Ant a little too mainstream during the 80's, it was a song they had wanted to cover for a while. “I always liked some [Adam Ant] songs, I like when he was still with the Ants, 'Stand and Deliver' and 'Goody two shoes', the early stuff that was more new wave punk. But the 'Vive Le Rock' album we always liked because it had that certain rockabilly influence. You know more of the songs sounded a mix between old rockabilly and T. Rex or something like that. We just covered it and it turned out great. We just did it and we never released it really, it was just for us and somehow it never seemed to fit on anything. But we thought with the 20 years thing we could put it on there because it had never been released”.

This November hails the first time that Mad Sin have come to Australia and they're looking forward to putting on some great shows to some wild audiences. “It's kinda surreal for us to go to Australia. We started here in Berlin and now we've evolved and seen half of the world, but we never expected Australia so that's a very big thing for us in a way for making it with the music. Also we like a lot of Australian people we've met here in Europe, America and Japan and we're friends with The Fireballs and Zombie Ghost Train. They [Zombie Ghost Train] are good friends of ours, we've known them a long time. When they first came over here I tried to get them a record deal when they only had the demo tape going on and it kinda worked out. So you know all those people we've met from Australia are really cool, so we're really looking forward to partying after the shows. We will have some days off and we definitely want to see the beach and all that and also the nature there”. Australian audiences can also expect an amazing live show from Mad Sin with each show different to the last. “What we give is what we feel and what we are. Unfortunately I think we cannot do our fire show cos we have some things going on where we set fire to the bass at certain parts of the show, but I don't think we are allowed to do this in the venues over there as far as I know. We're going to try to do it. But anyway its going to be very wild and spontaneous and different. We're not one of those bands where the audience expects the same things at each show. So you better come to all the shows. If you want to see the whole picture you have to come to all the shows”.

Mad Sin are doing six dates on this Australian tour heading down the east coast and even making it to Perth, so make sure get a long to at least one to experience and celebrate the legendary psychobilly of Mad Sin. “I just want to say after 25 years we are ready to go over and if you're into this type of music, we hope to see you there and I would appreciate to see you there. Offer us some drinks after the show, if we're not too tired, we're going to be there and will party with you guys”.

3rd November | Hi-Fi Bar, BRISBANE 18+
4th November | Shed 5, GOLD COAST All Ages
5th November | Annandale Hotel, SYDNEY 18+
6th November | Cambridge Hotel, NEWCASTLE 18+
11th November | Hi-Fi Bar, MELBOURNE 18+
12th November | Rosemount Hotel, PERTH 18+

Friday, October 14, 2011

Spraynard at LAVA Space

Alas, none of my photos turned out well due to me being short and pinned up against some amps the whole set. So, the very cool Mary Jane Jacobs allowed me to use her pictures from the show, please visit her tumblr blog for more fantastic shots.

I've talked with a number of bands for Take Aim and various other publications, but I only recently realized I've never interviewed a Pennsylvania band and sought to correct it by having a chat with one of my local favourites, Spraynard from West Chester. Two weeks ago, they played a show with fellow PA group Algernon Cadwallader at LAVA Space, a radical non-profit community building that supports charities like Project SAFE (which the concert benefited) and protests such as the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Spraynard gave a short, high-energy show where they were almost engulfed by the crowd who pushed forward to passionately sing along. Despite the excitement, everyone respected the venue and gave cheers for random nostalgia when the band asked whether people remembered the '90s sitcom Hangin' with Mr Cooper.

Known for being a great band comprised of even greater dudes, Spraynard started out with friends who turned into fans and now they befriend most of their fans. "Our main goal is to meet as many people as we can," explains Pat. I talked with the two Pats (Pat Graham, the singer/guitarist and Pat Ware, the drummer also known as Dos) at the end of the night while bassist Mark Dickinson finished loading out. Harris from opening band Sundials was jokingly brought over to be "Mark" until the real one came back. They all pondered my decidedly difficult opening question about their favourite Pokémon (Dos said Snorlax, Pat claimed Ditto and Harris admitted "Pikachu is the only one I know"), followed by the even tougher task of describing what it was like to be hand picked by Kid Dynamite to support them at their recent reunion show.
Pat- "Kid Dynamite is like THE perfect band, that's the safe thing to say. We all met because we liked Kid Dynamite in high school, so to play that show and hear that Dan Yemin likes our band is indescribable."
Dos- "He [Dan Yemin] came up to me and talked about Spraynard for ten minutes and I just thought, 'What are you doing? Your band is all I care about, don't talk to me about my band."
Pat- "I think that show will be the most important one we ever play."

The real Mark finally joins in, laughing as we recall what Harris had answered on his behalf ("I play as Pikachu in 'Super Smash Brothers,' so that works," he says). We exchange more Dan Yemin stories (I saw him in Trader Joes once, that's all I had to contribute) and talk about the First Unitarian Church, home to the infamous Jimmy. "Just playing there was huge..." Pat smiles, "It's our old stomping grounds." Playing FU Church is a big deal, especially for local bands, but Spraynard prefer places like LAVA Space.
Pat- "I love it here... It has so much cool information."
Mark- "Yeah, there's an educational part to it too."
Dos- "A lot of times at shows now, you forget about what we're actually here for. We're not just here to jump around and drink... You gotta be doing something productive."

My first Spraynard gig was several years ago in a mutual friend's garage next to a small chicken coop, a quintessentially Pennsylvania type of show. For Spraynard, it's the bigger shows they find unusual.
Mark- "Any situation we manage to get stuck in is always very humorous to us..."
Dos- "Because we're best friends, no matter what the circumstance or how weird it is, we'd all rather be playing in a basement with friends in front of us."
Pat- "We're all on the same page all the time, which is rare for a lot of bands. Or for a lot of people in general. We don't mind playing bigger shows with a lot of people, it's a cool experience, but we're more comfortable at shows like this. At the end of the day, we just try to be real, to not get ahead of ourselves and forget that we're kids having fun playing shitty pop-punk songs."

One such big festival Spraynard have coming up is the Fest in Gainesville, Florida. The guys agree it's sure to be a good time where they can see a lot of bands they've toured with before in one place, but it's also bound to be a Bro Fest with lots of drinking. Not big on partying (Pat and Mark don't drink, Dos only has the occasional beer), Spraynard are all about having a good time by simply enjoying the company of friends and maybe a copy of 'Mallrats.' The only dangerous incident on tour they can think of was a few days earlier when Mark had to go to the ER because he drank too much soda.
Dos- "One of our first shows, there was a huge fight that broke out and we all ran and went 'AAAAH!' *laughs* We don't have any interest in fighting."
Pat- "You always hear about bands that are like, 'Oh, we jumped off this cliff and went into a dumpster and got food!' We're like, 'We sat in our van, hung out, and talked about movies.'"

At this point, we start discussing our friend Ed, who I know from high school and they currently live with. They insist I include a story where their smoke alarm went off for no reason in the middle of the night and Ed punched it repeatedly, yelling "I was snoozing so hard!" Classic Ed. It's always funny to see how many people you know are inter-connected in the Philadelphia/Philly suburb communities, especially now that Pennsylvania bands like The Wonder Years, Title Fight, and many others are becoming known around the world. Is the Pennsylvania scene going to be the 2010s equivalent of the influence New Jersey's scene had on music in the 2000s?
Mark- "It piggybacks off itself, if you have a bunch of bands, one of them will start a label and eventually that will inspire other bands... Philly and the surrounding area has been swelling for a while."
Pat- "It also helps that Philly is a hub for a lot of places. Scranton had an exodus here... So, you got The Menzingers. Then the Tigers Jaw kids. People just want to be in a city and with all their friends."
Dos- "The coolest part of the PA scene is all the bands are friends. The Menzingers are totally going to be famous, but us and Algernon are never going to be that, we'll be underground. Please mark us down as saying that The Menzingers will be in a movie."
Pat- *laughing* "A World War Two movie!"
Dos- "We didn't grow up here [in Philly], but all our friends moved here... We used to be a bit bitter towards the city, but it's more about the people.The actual town [of West Chester] kind of sucks... but our friends, those 30 or 40 kids we know are what make it special."
Pat- "The atmosphere is unmatched. Philly has so many kids..."
Mark- "Tonight there were four or five shows going on [in Philly], it makes you feel small."

Other than their current tour and The Fest, Spraynard have a lot of plans for the rest of the year and 2012.
Dos- "In January to August, we're going to try to do a month in Europe and the UK. We have a few other festivals, the Stay Sweet Fest in Richmond, which we were just confirmed for. A few on the East Coast, maybe West Coast, we're going to see how far we can go. Any time we're not on tour, we're bummed out and wish we were on tour."
Mark- "We wanna be Black Flag really bad. *laughs* Long hair Henry Rollins era Black Flag."

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Casualties are coming to Australia... finally!

Forming on the streets of the Lower East side of New York around 1990, The Casualties have since become a synonymous with punk.  Their brand of fast, angry, hardcore punk often attracts kids in their formative punk years and The Casualties become staple listening for many young punks.   It feels great and very odd at times.  I never thought when I joined this band that I would be influencing so many younger punks to pick up an instrument and start whaling away”.  After the shows were intially postponed, The Casualties are heading to Australia for the first time and kicking off the tour in Melbourne on the 10th November. 

I recently got the chance to speak to Marc ‘Meggers’ about The Casualties and the upcoming Australian tour.
Angie Hurlock

On The Casualties longevity:

We still love what we do and thank our lucky stars that we are able to do what we love and make a living off it.  With that said, we just get by.  Nobody is getting rich off this band.  If we stop touring we will not be able to pay rent.  So many people live pay check to pay check, same thing for us.  We live from tour to tour.  Sorry, derailed there for a minute.  Is it still easy?  Sometimes it is.  When we are on stage doing our thing, giving it our all, it is the greatest feeling.  But then at certain points when I’m in the RV on an all day drive breathing Rick’s farts and Jorge’s foot odor, I miss home, my girlfriend and my bed.  We all do, but would I trade it for a 9-5 job?  No way.  This is what we do.  We live it and we love it, it’s all we know.

On Festivals:
We played a festival years ago in Berlin with Cocksparrer.  So amazing.  We just played a fest with Cobra in Japan.  I never thought I’d get the chance to see them, nevertheless play together.  Shared the stage a few times with The Damned, Exploited and GBH.  We have been so lucky to share the stage with so many great bands, too many to mention them all.  And even stranger, to become friends with a lot of our childhood heroes.

On the Australian Tour:

We have been wanting to come over for years, but it has never seemed to pan out.  I’m excited to play and see another part of the world.  We have been to so many places over the years it’s awesome when we hit some uncharted territory for us.  [Australian audiences] should expect high energy, high volume, fun, united shows.  Lots of slam dancing and a lot of beer flying about.  And the day after expect a headache, ringing in your ears and some bumps and bruises.

On the future:

After Australia we are headed to South East Asia which I cannot wait for.  Again it’s more new territory for the band.  Then finally take a break from our tour and start writing new songs for a new record.

Final words:

We are coming, finally.  Can’t wait to play for you lot and hope we all have a great time.  Thanks for being patient.

Make sure you check out The Casualties on one of their upcoming dates!

Tickets on sale via and at the box office. (p. 9388 9794)

Tickets on sale from p. 1300 862 545,, 1300 GET TIX (438 849), on your mobile and other moshtix outlets.

Tickets from p. 1300-THEHIFI (8434434), Rocking Horse Records, Butter Beats, Sunflower Pacific Fair, Disasterpiece, Mosh Pit Music, Kill The Music, Gooble Warming, Rockaway Records.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bizoo Regional Tour!

Bizoo's Best of Retrospective Zine continues its launch throughout Queensland over the next couple of months before taking on the rest of the country next year. 
Not only is the zine getting launched, but free workshops are being held in many regional Queensland towns. 

Check out the dates below and head along!

- 8 Oct: Bizoo Book Brisbane Launch + Zine Fair + Bands @ 4ZZZfm Car park (Zine Fair 10:30am-2:30pm, Bands 3pm – 6pm)

- 20 Oct: Rockhampton - Song writing and Community workshop @ Walter Reid Centre (6-9pm)

- 22 Oct: Rockhampton – Zine Workshop @ The Regional Library (10am-1pm)

- 24 Oct: Mackay – Zine Fair @ Crossroad Arts (3:30pm-5pm)

- 27 Oct: Palm Island - Zine workshop (invite only)

- 28 Oct: Townsville - Zine workshop (invite only)

- 29 Oct: Cairns - Zine workshop @ Crate59 (10:30-1pm), Music Workshop @ MOFO 3:30-5:30pm + Gig

- 5 Nov: Townsville –Michelle and Natasha’s opening (6pm-9pm) Gig w/ (9pm-10pm) @ Artspaced/Dance North

- 6 Nov: Townsville - Zine workshop & BBQ @ Artspaced/Dance North (12 – 3pm)

- 7 Nov: Mackay – Zine meet up and Gocco printing @ Crossroad Arts (3:30-5pm)

- 8 Nov: Rockhampton – A venue and Bizoo presents a music networking night w/screening of ‘A Piss in the Ocean’ @ Walter Reid Centre (6-9pm)

- 11 Nov: Longreach – Music Workshop @ Youth Club (4-7pm)

- 12 Nov: Longreach – Zine Workshop @ Youth Club 12:30-3pm)

- 13 Nov: Blackall – Music/Zine workshops & BBQ @ Blackall Memorial Hall (12-5pm)

- 16 Nov: Roma – Zine workshop @ Community Hall (4-7pm)

- 17 Nov: Roma – Music workshop @ Community Hall (4-7pm)

- 19 Nov: Dalby – Zine Workshop @ Dalby Regional Gallery (10am-2pm)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Book review: 'Damned' by Chuck Palahniuk

I will always remember how I spent my last day of high school reading 'Haunted' instead of signing yearbooks and saying cheesy goodbyes to people I didn't really know or like anyway. It was my first foray into a Chuck Palahniuk novel and I soon realized this was a foolish choice for someone unaccustomed to his shocking, transgressive style of writing. When I reached the infamously disgusting chapter 'Guts' (rumored to have caused dozens of audience members to faint over the course of his book promotion tour), I screamed and threw the book across my Homeroom. As if this didn't get enough stares, seconds later I eagerly ran to pick it up and immediately continued reading, morbidly fascinated and still queasy. Thus is the addictive lure of Palahniuk gross-out scenes.

After consuming his entire body of work, I now know the rest of his novels are not as graphic, though dark veins of violence and sex acts still pop up throughout them all. For any 'Palahniuk virgins' out there, I can safely say that his latest novel, 'Damned' is an ideal place to start. When I giddily ripped open my package containing an advance copy of 'Damned' (set to go on sale October 18th), a 'letter' from heroine Madison Spencer fell out. On her pink and purple pre-teen stationary, Madison declares Palahniuk a "...Mr. Whorey McWhoreski so-called writer.... Judy Blume, he is not." Could it be that the main character is for once not a terrible person with major psychotic issues that you love to hate and instead a sassy chick-lit referencing chubby thirteen-year-old girl you can actually relate to? I'm sure some Palahniuk readers might initially be turned off by this casting, but I was excited to see how this rare functional character would handle the struggles of a Palahniuk imagined Hell.

Yes, Hell. I forgot to mention our fabulous Madison is dead and condemned because of a supposed marijuana overdose at thirteen. Like a smarter version of Georgia Nicholson, Madison (full name Madison Desert Flower Rosa Parks Coyote Trickster Spencer, thanks to her ridiculous celebrity parents) decides to make the best of her eternal time in the nether world and meet new friends, preferably becoming BFFs with Satan himself. "Are you there, Satan? It's me, Madison.... Honestly, I give up on giving up. I'm just not cut out to be some hopeless, disillusioned wretch with no aspirations for the rest of eternity, sprawled catatonic in my own feces on a stone cold floor."

Between viewings of 'The English Patient,' Hell's torturous film of choice, Madison thinks of her own favourite movie, 'The Breakfast Club' and notices the people surrounding her in perdition resemble the '80s detention room crew. Shallow Babette with obviously fake designer clothes, know-it-all geek Leonard and Patterson the high school football player are among the first citizens of Hell she encounters. Madison deems herself the Ally Sheedy character and the comparison is rounded out by Archer, a blue mohawked punk who springs the gang from their cages with the safety pin that pierces his cheek .

Hell has done it's job breaking billions of it's inhabitants, but our heroes see potential in the land of fire and decide to search for something rather than wasting away in a cell. While crossing terrain made of glass, scabs, and cockroaches, Madison can't help but reflect back on her short bittersweet life on Earth. Raised by famous parents who act like Edina from 'Ab Fab' and go through scores of adopted children faster than Madonna, it's no wonder Madison feels Hell is an improvement. Palahniuk clearly had a lot of fun researching obscure mythology, because most of Leonard's input is namedropping multitudes of ancient demons, demigods, and other deities banished to the Underworld that enjoy chowing down on the humans out of boredom. Several celebrities, artists, and historical figures make cameo appearances as well, since nearly everyone important is put on the down escalator after they die. Madison especially enjoys this perk and keeps an eye out for River Phoenix. "One can't help but picture the lackluster VIP Lounge in Heaven, a kind of nonalcoholic ice-cream social starring Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mahatma Gandhi. Hardly anyone's idea of a 'with-it' social register."

After much difficulty, the Hellfast Club make it to a town where they're allowed to contribute to infernal society. Unfortunately, the only career choices are porn ("You see, Hell is responsible for about 85 percent of the Internet's total smut content.") or conducting pointless phone surveys designed to interrupt the living from enjoying their dinners. Madison becomes a star telemarketer, convincing several of her dying clients to sin it up in their remaining time on Earth so they can join her downstairs once the big day comes. Alternating between memories of her flesh life and spirit life, we slowly learn more about Madison, growing ever fond of her. I can't say I blame the dying folks she recruited, I'd want a friend like Madison to show me the ropes.

The way Palahniuk structures the strict rules of damnation, nearly everyone ends up there even if they were the kindest humanity had to offer. Pee in a pool as a child or curse more than 700 times in your life and Heaven's gates close. "According to Babette, 98.3 percent of lawyers end up in Hell. That's in contrast to the 23 percent of farmers who are eternally damned... Perhaps a trace number of politicians ascend into Heaven, but statistically speaking, 100 percent of them are cast into the fiery pit. As are essentially 100 percent of journalists and redheads." Well, I'm an auburn blogger, so if that counts, guess I'll see you in Hell, Palahniuk. The twists at the end are a tad more predictable and less sociopathic than those in his other books, but overall, 'Damned' is a wonderful novel. It's the only heartwarming story about Hell you'll ever read, an odd sentiment that in itself makes it well worth a try.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bizoo: The Best, The Worst and The Trash That Never Made It!

Between the years 2001 and 2006 in the small, inland city of Toowoomba, Bizoo Street Zine operated and published a free music and arts street press.  By encompassing all genres and printing everything that was ever submitted, Bizoo helped unite a youth community, put on all ages gigs and inspired kids like myself to get involved.  Five years after the last issue was released and with having had no final issue, the Bizoo crew has formed to produce Bizoo: The Best, The Worst and the Trash That Never Made It, a book containing articles that ran in Bizoo, interviews with those involved and a recount of the events, venues, bands and people that made the Toowoomba scene what it was.  I caught up with Bizoo founder Dr Jerm, to reminisce about Bizoo times and get the low down on what this Best Of is all about.

-         Angie Hurlock

Back in 2001 Bizoo or Bizo as it was called at the time formed out of a love for music and a lack of live music happening in Toowoomba.  When Frenzal Rhomb and Day of Contempt were heading to town and there were no posters or press for the show, Dr Jerm knew that things had to happen.  “Being someone like myself, who doesn’t like to complain about anything I started my own thing.  I didn’t know how to do it; I didn’t have any skills needed to do something like this.  I just rounded up as many cool people as possible and we just did it.  We had no idea what we were creating and it sort of grew from that, lots of young bands and opportunities to promote regional shows and events and it grew and turned into something national with national bands and international bands and became a massive platform for a lot of people. It became their first opportunity to write something or create anything.  That’s something that I feel most proud about is that it was an opportunity for anyone to express their view and I feel really proud that we printed everything we ever received.  We became the magazine or the zine for the voiceless”.  In 2006, Bizoo put on a festival in Toowoomba to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the zine.  Despite being a great day, with fantastic bands, Bizoo lost a lot of money and the end was in sight.  “With the festival we put on to celebrate the best of Bizoo we lost $30 000 if not more which was obviously a big kick.  But we also did 25 issues and we never really had goals or intentions of doing anything and I guess over time they organically formed and we sort of achieved them.  We were promoting local bands, bands were coming to town and I guess there was nothing else we could really do.  In some ways it felt like it got too big for what we were doing.  We didn’t know how to get marketing or advertising, none of that mattered to us.  And it wasn’t something I enjoyed doing anymore”.

When issue 25 was published in 2006, it was not a final issue, but it did become so with no more issues of Bizoo being made.  The Best of Bizoo not only acts as a document of the events which happened in Toowoomba during a particular time, but finalising the end of Bizoo.  “I guess we are aiming to highlight what we achieved.  Highlighting everything that happened, what everyone wrote, drew or whatever it may be.  Highlighting the fact that a group of young kids that had no idea what they were doing, created the community that formed.  It’s like the analogy, you can find 10 million books on the rise of punk in the U.K or the U.S, but in Australia you’d probably get maybe 2 books.  The music of Toowoomba between 2001 and 2006 would have got lost and I’m really excited about documenting a part of that history.  It’s not necessarily super comprehensive, but it also engages what else was happening in the area.  What really excites me is the opportunity of telling our story to other regional towns and showing that young people can actually do something and create a community of like minded people and build something”.  A sense of community more than anything is what was achieved with Bizoo, but from starting out as kids not knowing how to put together a street press, skills were honed and many of the Bizoo crew have gone on to continue with youth orientated and journalistic ventures.  For Dr Jerm, it awakened a side of him that he was not aware of initially.  “I guess I like promoting gigs, it may not be via a publication, it could be putting on gigs to showcase to other people things they’re not aware of.  But I think Bizoo also provided that platform for, a lot of contributors. Jim Campbell works for the Toowoomba Chronicle and Gede Parma has released two books and won awards.  I guess we have assisted some people along the way and some bands as well that are now growing to be large scale bands.  I think getting down to it, we were assisting a beautiful community in a small town was really cool and I’m really proud of that.  It’s never been anything that I wanted to be thanked for”.

Along with the articles that ran in the actual Bizoo issues, the book will contain the stories of what was happening in the Toowoomba scene at the time including ongoing exchanges between Bizoo and a local band.  “ That argument went on for three or four issues, this band was even writing these satirical fairytales about Bizoo and why it was bad and making posters and stuff like that and.  There were arguments that were ongoing and really funny.  But I think what grew from it were the memories that were run on no money, it didn’t matter what type of show, punk gig, acoustic gig or rock gig, everyone came.  It didn’t matter if you were into punk rock or metal or whatever, everyone was there.  It’s great to look back and see these photos and seeing two or three hundred kids going crazy in these little halls or on The Shack verandah.  There are lots and lots of crazy stories that came from Bizoo and we’re highlighting most of them, if not all of the good ones, all the ones that can be printed at least.  I think its funny looking over this stuff because we did it as a really collaborative process and made sure that everyone who wanted to be involved in that process.  Going through all those articles I can’t believe we printed all that stuff because some of it was pretty risky to print.  I think there could be a little bit of a backlash but that’s half the fun”.

 After five years it can become hard to motivate people, but Dr Jerm has been overwhelmed by the overall response to the launching of the book.  “I think the Bizoo crew that were involved with it in the later years are totally on board.  We’re going to launch it in July 2011, exactly a decade since we launched the first issue.   The first issue was June/July 2001 so a lot of the crew that started it off no longer has any interest in being involved on any level.  I think it’s going to open a lot of people’s eyes, but there has been a pretty good response, like when we actually updated the website after 5 years of nothing on there, people came out of the woodworks and it was really exciting”.  Amongst these people who came out in support of the publication of the book was Russell Southwood from the National Hotel in Toowoomba.  “Russell surfaced and wrote this massive story and we’ve done an interview with him for the book.  He was such a crucial member of the community that assisted us because there was no one putting original live music on at the time and I dare say they advertised in every issue that we released.  I remember fond memories of interviewing every band that played there because there were no bands in town so we had to interview the 3 bands that played that night and maybe even Saturday and Friday night”.

Since the end of Bizoo in 2006 and with many people crucial in the scene moving away, the dynamics of the youth community in Toowoomba has changed, but the city remains close to the hearts of those involved.  “I moved out of Toowoomba nearly three years ago now and I still am an ambassador of Toowoomba in many ways.  If I’m anywhere I make sure to mention I’m from Toowoomba originally and if there are opportunities for things to be brought to town and shown there I make sure I lock them in. Cooky who was running Bon Amici’s for a long time was putting a lot of shows on, now he’s doing stuff at the spotted cow and Arthur terrace and the new noise crew were always bringing stuff to town”.  The scene may have changed in Toowoomba, but it is far from being merely a distant memory.  “I think it [Toowoomba’s youth scene] comes in waves like any scene or community.  Things there seem pretty healthy right now.  They’ve got the Summer Riot festival which replaced Eidecan, which seems like its pretty successful and the zine shop.  ‘Smells like Zines’ is the only zine shop in Queensland.  There’s the postbox zine publication that comes out and is very similar to what Bizoo was doing in the early days”. 

The launching of the Best Of begins in Toowoomba on the 23rd July and will be launched nationwide in the months following.  “We’re going to make the launch a little exclusive event happening in Toowoomba, where Toowoomba is actually going to get the book a month before the rest of the state.  It would be great for Toowoomba to receive something so exclusive and something they can feel proud of.  Some people probably won’t be, because it’s not all positive and there’s some stupid shit in there”.  What Bizoo has always been about is reaching youth in regional areas where a local music or arts culture in non-existent and this will play an integral role in the launching of the book as well.  “With Brisbane for example we may be doing ten different launches in because Brisbane is so huge.  We want to go to the ‘burbs where the young kids are bored out of their minds.  We want to go out to the ‘burbs and engage with those communities”.

The launch of the Best Of will also bring with it a regional tour of workshops to encourage and inspire youth create their own arts community.  “With these workshops that we want to do, we want to tell the Bizoo story.  We want to have Bizoo crew on the road that were there and did the work.    We want to do grassroots workshops that provide the skills to maybe put on an art show, a gig, make a little street press or put a blog online.  Ideally what we’re hoping to do if we get enough funds is that we could actually go into these small towns, motivate these communities and even provide a bit of financial support to get things up and running which would be amazing to see.  Its not just something we want to do in Queensland, we want to do this nationally”.

After the launch of Best Of and the following regional tours, Dr Jerm intends on providing more opportunities for the arts community to stay alive.  “After this we are starting up something new and exciting which I’ve been doing for the last five years after Bizoo, I guess by researching avenues and a new model of publishing and working as a collective where people see how it operates from the outside and inside.  Ideally it would be nice to start paying people and that, people are frowned upon in the arts sometimes when people start making money and people say you’re a ‘sellout’ and stuff like that but you know a piece of art won’t pay the rent or buy a carton of beer.  So it would be great to start paying people”.  With the release of the Bizoo: Best of, Worst of and the Trash that didn’t make it; it is sure to inspire people to get involved and become a part of the community either for the first time or reignite a passion they once had.  “Inspiring people would actually quantify success.  What this Best of is all about is not about selling anything or reaching any numbers.  If we inspire or motivate someone to put a show on or something like that, it would definitely make my day”.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hannibal Buress interview

Hannibal Buress reads aloud from an article written about his act in a college newspaper, skewering it mercilessly. Granted, the author mentioned how much Buress was being paid for the gig and other journalistic faux pas, but I can’t help but worry what Hannibal thinks of the interview I conducted with him only an hour before. Buress displays a clever showmanship mixing energetic wit and a storyteller’s delivery, interspersing his classic bits with new material ranging from Odd Future concerts to passport photos. He admits to the packed audience that his show that night was taking a darker turn than usual, adding with a smile, “but I kind of like it.” Buress brings up how ridiculous it is when he’s asked about the recent Tracy Morgan scandal. I cringe, knowing all too well I brought up that very topic during our chat. Fortunately, he tells the audience the same thing he said to me (see interview below) and I am spared a Jack Donaghy-esque quip from the former '30 Rock' writer.

Here is my conversation with Hannibal Buress on the second night of his three day stop in Philly at Helium Comedy Club. Yes, that's The BeeGees and Fall Out Boy playing in the background. I apologize, we had no control of the piped in music and thought it was pretty weird too.

Hannibal Buress interview by TakeAimZine

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Candy Town

Imagine a group of clowns leading you away, to some far, far away place that everyone has been to but has never gone back to. They’re a traveling show, and you’re not so much their audience as you are their subject. They sweetly swoon you into fantasies of running away with them. Their band is called Candy Town.

After sitting down to an interview with Sean Guinan, front man of Candy Town, I attempted to explore the mastermind behind the group and see what makes it tick. The interview was deep, meandering, and incredibly all-comprehensive, so for purposes of not flooding the entire page, I’m going to paraphrase and condense this information.

First, some history: Candy Town began not so much as a musical project, but as an aesthetic in Guinan’s films. The central matter in them is the dichotomy between fantasy and reality. Guinan represented elements of his inner-person and imagination as clown figures. By whitening their faces, clowns remove specific details that make them an individual, and thus, make themselves a representation of some sort of aspect of the human condition and everything they do, a metaphor. They are humans abstracted and placed into a heightened reality where things can become incredibly unpredictable and exciting.

Guinan always wanted to create a band called Candy Town and in fact, began a TV series with the same name. This show played upon the idea of a place called Candy Town, where we all grew up with characters from fairy tales and elements of fantasy, but it is also a place left behind by adults who have moved on past such things. It is a place where we’d like to indulge in, yet are constantly pulled back by the forces of adulthood.

As time went on, prospects of starting such a band with this theme became more and more realized. Musically, Guinan was raised on a somewhat less than typical musical background. He grew up listening to 20’s and 30’s Jazz. At the time, Guinan wasn’t really conscious of rock and roll and what was popular on the radio. As time went on, he did become more familiar with and enjoyed rock groups such as the Rolling Stones and The Velvet Underground, yet his pop culture continued to revolve around figures such as Louie Armstrong and Charlie Chaplin. Ultimately, Guinan wasn’t interested in mimicking music from this period, as much as he was interested in borrowing elements and aesthetics.

What really influenced Guinan the most was a group he simply ran into one day at a festival called Maestro Subgum & The Whole. He was just in high school at the time and never saw the likes of them before. The band was dressed very eclectically, with a raspy front man and operatic female backup singers. There were no guitars, just an electric bass, keyboard, and horn section. They seemed to have this infectious air of intrigue about them. It was as if they were a traveling band of Gypsies and Guinan, dazed by a romantic sense of escapism, wanted to travel away with them. This is what he wanted to capture, that enticing feeling of leaving everything behind to follow a circus that has offered a passage into a world once inhabited only by your juvenile mind.

And so, Guinan took the bull by the horns and with a strong will, made Candy Town his project. He long admired the brilliant works of artists such as Orson Welles, Woody Allen, Charlie Chaplin, and David Lynch, who completely controlled their projects, no matter how many were involved, in order to ensure that their vision was realized. Powerful works of art never came from committees, but of the solitary artist, like a philosopher, who delves deep into the self, trying to understand what makes them tick. Made up entirely of complete strangers on a new page without previous baggage, Guinan made sure everyone knew he would be directing Candy Town.

While not a band mimicking music from the 20’s and 30’s, Guinan wanted to utilize the iconography from this era. While first impressions may give way to this era being sweet and nostalgic, the truth was it was downright bold, sexy, and musically, very daring and edgy. This was not some dreamy marking strategy, as much as a spirited platform for what would become in itself, a bold musical project.

And so, the band dons vintage-style clothing from this era, yet wears face paint like mimes. Two female backup singers are scantily clad and the band as a whole use elements to further suggest something more motley, much like their music, borrowing from many directions, from rock to ragtime. Guinan’s aim was to wed the visuals with the sound into something more daring; learning from his disappointment from groups like Marilyn Manson, Kiss, and The Dresden Dolls, who all struck up something new and exciting with their imagery, but failed to deliver the same through their music.

The band tosses away common preconceptions of reality and norms, delving into the surreal through their performance; they truly take the audience for a ride. Rather than spare the lines that divide childish from mature, Candy Town pulls your wits from the stasis of a comfortable routine life into a challenge to live a life of an unknown tomorrow. To manifest your childhood’s greatest expectations of your own self, making a bold effort to become the person you thought you would. It’s the exciting prospect that anything really is possible, so long as you’re not afraid.

In the end, what is reality? What makes the surreal anything unreal? We’re all just dreams and vapor. Humanity often feels the test of truth is time, but time doesn’t bear anything when reality is really our conception. As Orson Welles said in F Is For Fake, “Our songs will all be silenced, but what of it? Go on singing.” No matter how we reconcile our outer-lives with our inner-lives, Candy Town wants to take you to a place you probably haven’t been to in a long time. You can’t run away with them, but you can always run away with your own wildest dreams.

Friday, June 17, 2011

"If Lady Gaga is meant to be the new punk then I don’t think very much of it"

Forming during the peak of punk in the late 1970’s, Crass brought a new concept  to punk, one that did not just speak of shaking up society, but in fact acted in a subversive manner and in doing so Crass became the pioneers of anarcho-punk.  I was fortunate enough to sit down with Crass singer, Steve Ignorant ahead of his first Australian show on the Last Supper tour. 
By: Angie Hurlock

You're about to embark on an Australian tour where you will be playing Crass songs for the last time, what is the significance of this?
Because there’s been so many bands before like Jimmy Pursey and all this kind of thing, they say it’s the last tour and they come back and do it again or they say it’s the last tour and it goes on for 10 years.  And I just wanted people to know that I really mean it that this will be the last time I will be playing crass songs live on stage.  It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop performing.  I’m just not going to do Crass songs live and I just wanted everyone to know and I’ve made this promise and I’m going to stick to it.  The last ever time I play Crass songs will be on November 19th this year.  That’s going to be weird, but I know that the week after that I’m going to get a bloody invite to do a fucking festival that’s going to pay me thousands of dollars or something and I won’t be able to do it, but that’s the commitment I’ve made.

What are you hoping Australian audiences takes away from these shows?
I’m really hoping that it’s a celebration of those great songs.  My dream would be that some young punk is in the audience and they get inspired to start their own band and it becomes as good and does as good as Crass did.  That would be the perfect thing.

Obviously lyrically Crass were influenced by current affairs and politics, but what were your musical influences?
That was all different.  I mean, people ask me why the sound of Crass was so different and first you had me and I came up through ska music, Motown, David Bowie and all this kind of stuff and they’re my influences and of course punk.  Then you have Penny Rimbaud and his influences were Elvis Presley, classical and avant garde jazz.  Then you had people like Pete the bass payer, he came up through Frank Zappa and folk music and stuff.  So, you had all these different influences and none of us were musicians and so that’s why it was such a cranky sound.  And that’s why (at this point Steve is distracted by laughter coming from drummer Spike T Smith) and that’s why it’s so hard for him (pointing at Spike) to do the drumming. (Spike comes over to introduce himself, “I always love that story… not musicians).  We weren’t musicians and the way we used to do a song would be I would write something and I’d say to Pete it goes like this (mimics music).  We’d try to make the music more of an atmosphere than something you could sing along too

Crass are considered the pioneers of the anarcho-punk movement.  When you started out did you ever imagine that you would have such impact on an entire genre of music?
No, because we were just doing it.  We didn’t have any idea.  We knew the Sex Pistols didn’t mean it when they said, ‘I am an anarchist’.  And we thought, ‘well right, we’ll try to people what anarchism could be and should be. And then we got into hot water because the proper anarchists didn’t like us you know.  I’ve never read any anarchist literature, I started to read a book by Malatesta I got four pages into it, I got so bored that I put the bloody thing down and read the paper instead.  No, we didn’t have any idea, I think what we did was to make ideas like anarchism and pacifism and self sufficiency, I think what we did really was not influence people, but inspired them to start thinking for themselves and then they’d go out and start bands for themselves, I think that’s where it’s successful.

Do see music as a perfect vehicle for expressing political ideas and creating social awareness?
I don’t know if it’s the perfect way, I think it’s a way of doing it.  I’ve seen black and white films from the sixties that wouldn’t make sense to maybe an 18 year old person now.  But really moved me and made me think.  I’m very much a book person, so I think that’s the perfect way to sort of do it, because I’ve been moved by words.

Which bands/artists, if any do you admire for their mix of political awareness and music?
No, because I don’t know any.  I’m doing a typical middle aged thing where, because I was in punk and all that sort of stuff and it was the type of music I liked and then when I hit about the age of 45 or something and I stopped listening to new music and I started going back.  Like now, I’m listening to bands like The Who again and the small face and sixties stuff and getting back into listening to ska.  It’s really odd, I’m sort of going backwards rather than, but no, now I'm appreciating how good that music was and how it moved me.  If Lady Gaga is meant to be the new punk then I don’t think very much of it.  And you know, someone like Justin Bieber, I mean, if that’s all there is then I feel sorry for the young people and they really should be out there starting their own bands and having riots.

What are you looking forward to most during the upcoming Australian tour?
A bit of sleep and get this first gig out of the way because we’re all a bit jet lagged and nervous.  But once we get this first show out of the way, we’ll be a lot better.  We got in yesterday morning and we haven’t stopped really. The flight was 24 hours or something stupid like that, but we’ll be alright, we’ll get through it.

After this Last Supper tour wraps up, what are your plans for the future?
I’m going to take a year and a half to two years off and knuckle down on some new material.  I’ve already got it in my head, what I want to do is a spoken word thing, but its  not going to be like Henry Rollins standing up on stage.  I want it to be almost like you’re going to watch a play or something, so there would be very simple stage props, some visuals, keyboards and bass, just background music.  And I’d just talk about me and what I've done, if anyone’s interested.  I’ll be talking about crass and then in the second half I will open up to a question and answer sort of thing.  Because I know there are thousands of people out there that want to talk to me about crass.  Part of the reason why I’ve called it the last supper and what I want people to know that this is the last time I will be playing Crass songs live, so people don’t come to my new thing expecting to hear crass songs, because I’m not doing it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

As Tall As Lions

As Tall As Lions are an indie rock band from Long Island, New York. Forming in 2001, they worked together for 10 years with three record releases and a number of tours on their belt. This interview took place on their last ever Australian tour with the lead singer, Dan Nigro.
By Hayleigh Sipek

As Tall As Lions were formed in late 2001, how does it feel like to be at the end of a decade of music together?
It feels good for me, it’s different for each of us so I speak for myself and myself only on this I’m just at a different point in my life right now and I wasn’t enjoying being on the road constantly and I didn’t feel like I was actually becoming the creative person that I wanted to be. I felt really stagnant, stale and confused with my creative process – I never wanted to be somebody who kept on doing something when they weren’t sure of what they were doing.
Would you say it’s a moving-on point as well?
Yes, it’s a different time in my life. I will admit that there are a lot of regrets that I have, everything is a learning experience and there are times when I think that everything’s meant to happen for a reason.

What would you suggest for other musician, would you say, “go ahead and do 10 years as a band”?
When you’re young and you start touring and doing the band… like for us we got signed when we were 20, we were still in college and we didn’t really listen to anybody which I think is the ethic when you’re a couple of young dudes in a band and you’re like “we don’t give a fuck what anybody says and we’re just gonna do whatever we feel” and you get advice from people who actually know what they’re talking about but you almost want to do the exact opposite because you don’t want to do what someone is telling you to do and you want to be defiant of it and there’s definitely been a few times, looking back where we should have just listened to some people who were telling us what the right things to do were. I definitely would say if bands are looking to try and make it that to find people that you trust ie a manager, a record label who have a good head on their shoulders and have your best interest and to be able to take their advice… not all of the time but not to be so guarded by their mind and their ideas for what a band should be.

I guess managers aren’t meant to be the producers the band as well?
There’s definitely a tough line in what a manager is supposed to do and what they’re not and what a record label is supposed to do and not supposed to do. You need to be able to work in that harmony, it’s a really big thing in the making of a band that can have longevity.

 ‘You Can’t Take it With You’, the last album- what was the creative space for that?
The creative space was weird for that record because we had come off of three years straight of writing and touring off of the self-titled. We spent the better part of a year writing and recording the record and then as soon as we were done recording it we went on tour for all of 2006, 2007, just non-stop touring and it was a really weird time for all of us because we were starting to see the first taste of success and people really genuinely caring about the band and people coming out to shows for us and being really passionate about what we were doing and so that kind of was feeding our confidence and egos but also draining us of a lot of energy and we came off of two years of being on the road. For me personally the last thing that I wanted to do, and I remember getting really anxious and not feeling like I wanted to go back into the studio, but feeling the pressure of getting back in the studio and that created a really negative tone. I think everyone was feeling really jaded and tired and wanted to take a break because even though we needed to go back into the studio and make another record we had just spent years and years doing one thing. We just went into the studio and started arguing and didn’t have a clear vision and I think the end product, ‘You Can’t Take it With You’ has a few good songs on it but overall it wasn’t a very cohesive record, there were more weak points than strong.

Alternative Press rated it pretty highly, what is your relationship with them?
Yeah they were nice to us, they’re good people over there. We built a really good relationship with them and I think they really wanted to see us succeed and they tried and did all they could to help us out in that sense which was nice of them.

You came twice to the annual Soundwave Festival in Australia, how did you find that experience?
Nothing would beat our first experience of coming to Australia, we came in 2007 and for us we were obviously all pretty young, this was four years ago, just the fact that you come from a small town and all of a sudden you’re in a different continent getting paid really good money to play shows. That was definitely one of the highlights of being in a band, was being in Australia and playing on a massive stage to thousands of people. The first day we were in Brisbane I remember we took the city cat and we went to the Kangaroo Hotel and we took the city cat to North Quay and we walked up and down the little strip. We went to a little restaurant and we didn’t realize that you’re not supposed to tip and we were trying to tip the waiter, and he wouldn’t accept the tip and we were like ‘nah take the money’ and he was weirded out that we were trying to give him ten bucks. I have a lot of good memories of Australia, which is nice.

Do you have a favourite place in Australia?
I’ve had a lot of really great experiences, we had a few days off in Sydney that first time and we spent a day just going to the aquarium and we went to the botanical gardens and they have those crazy bats there. The second time Julio and I came together and we had three days off in Melbourne and found this really great Chinese restaurant and we ate there like every night. We had some good times for sure.

Do you have any plans in particular for this time?
 I’m still trying to figure it out, because we’ve been here twice and I still haven’t been to New Zealand and I kind of fell like if I’m over on this side of the world and it might be the last time I’m over here, you never know, I think that probably I’m going to take a few days and go to New Zealand.

So you played last night at The Hive, how was that?
It was definitely a weird transition because we just did the American farewell tour and we were playing these gorgeous venues all throughout the states to go to playing a teen centre to 45 kids in Brisbane. You never feel like you’re above it because you’re not and it was fun but there’s definitely a weird way that it transpires in your head to go from playing massive shows to a tiny show were maybe 25 people really care.

Are you used to an all ages crowd?
It’s different in America because it’s either all ages or 21 and over so it’s a little bit different because obviously the main demographic of people that go to shows are probably between the ages of 18 and 25 so when that’s split in half by the drinking age most shows for bands unless they’re an older crowd band specifically are going to be playing all ages shows because a lot of their fans are teenagers or in their 20’s and wouldn’t be able to get a show.

What do you think of Elliot the Bull?
They’re great, it was honestly the first time I saw them play (last night). They’re amazing people and they’re really tight, it was cool.

After the tour do you have any projects are you just going to chill out?
I’m in the middle of working on a solo record right now so I’m doing that and I’ve got a couple of other things going, I started getting into writing songs for other artists and that’s what I spend a lot of my time doing now. I just signed with a publishing company a few months ago so I’m just building up a catalogue of songs for other artists.

Anything you have to say to the fans?
Check out the solo record, the project is called ‘Blocks’ check it out!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bamboozle Day One

Two weeks ago, I made the journey up to the Meadowlands outside New York City for the annual Bamboozle Festival. My second year in attendance, I knew that the only thing you can expect from the 'Boozle is a non-sensical, yet brilliant band lineup, teenage boys who still think 'Free Hugs' signs are clever, and over-priced food. This year the festival area was expanded with extra rides and two new stages, making for even more difficult time management decisions. The above photo was taken at the top of the ferris wheel before doors opened, aka the calm before the storm.

The first band to play on Saturday were pop-punkers We Are the In Crowd, who I will admit to knowing nothing about, but enjoyed regardless. They've just been revealed as one of the acts for the new Soundwave Revolution Festival, which come to think of it, is basically the Australian equivalent of Bamboozle.

The best stumbled upon band of the day was Brooklyn via Israel married duo Hank & Cupcakes. It's hard not to stop when you walk by a woman standing on drums in a Lady Gaga-esque outfit throwing lipstick into the crowd. Judging from the audience size at the end of their set compared to the beginning, others were clearly drawn in as I had been. Making unique, upbeat indie dance music is difficult enough, but for only two members to do the work of four and pull off a great live show is even more impressive.

Forever the Sickest Kids singer Jonathan Cook climbing the stage scaffolding during their hit, 'She's a Lady.' Several seconds after this was taken, he accidentally dropped the microphone into the sea of people below. Fortunately, the two teenage fans who caught the mic returned it to the stage and were personally given free merch by the band as a thank you. Aw!

"I take it this is the first time many of you have seen us," laughs Tokyo Police Club singer Dave Monks after instructing the crowd to sing along and receiving a quieter than expected response. One of the hazards of playing a festival like Bamboozle is that you honestly don't know what percentage of an audience are there for another band and Tokyo Police Club handled the waiting Thrice fans with grace. Actually my first time seeing them (after years of failed attempts), I was glad the indie pop Canucks lived up to their recorded work and filled their short but sweet set with hand claps, bright clear vocals, and happy keyboard dances.

Just a man and his guitar, the always amazing Frank Turner took the stage sans band for Bamboozle. He enlisted the help of the audience to be the harmonica (he forgot his) in 'Dan's Song' and when some were hesitant, he went for his usual banter, "If you're the type of person who's too cool to do air harmonica at a fucking festival in the middle of the afternoon, you're too cool to be here anyway, you hipster motherfuckers!" Doing a perfect mix of old and new tunes (including my personal favourite 'Photosynthesis'), Frank promised a major US tour in the future to support his upcoming release England Keeps My Bones.

Due to a HUGE crowd at a tiny stage, I surpassed a much buzzed about The Movielife reunion show and instead wandered over to the area usually reserved for comedians. There I watched the legendary Marky Ramone do a 'cooking show' to promote his new line of pasta sauce. Yes, I'm serious. It smelled delicious and 80% of the people present were waiting for comedian Bo Burnham and had no idea who Marky Ramone is. As you can see, Marky also chugged an entire jar of the pasta sauce. This is not even in the top ten weirdest things I saw at Bamboozle, if that gives you an idea what that weekend was like.

It was especially exciting to see Pennsylvania locals Tigers Jaw (who I once saw at a gig in my friend's garage with five other people, a dog, and someones Mom) play to a large crowd. Even the band themselves didn't believe it, "Why are you guys watching us? Don't you know New Found Glory and Das Racist are on now?!" The die-hard crowd screamed along with every word, some yelling at pauses that they came from the Midwest just to see this band. If by any chance we have any Midwest or Southern US readers, I suggest you check out Krazy Fest in Kentucky, which has a fantastic lineup consisting mostly of all the good PA/NJ bands us East Coasters tend to selfishly hog.

As the day goes on, the names get bigger and it becomes more difficult to get photos. Sorry Dashboard Confessional, Gaslight Anthem, and Taking Back Sunday fans, I assure you their sets were fantastic, but I have no photos or notes because by this point I just wanted to sit and listen to them play from far away. You would too if you'd been standing in the sun for ten hours straight. Here's a photo of a midget wrestler dressed as a chicken in the new Bamboozle Luchador Ring to make you feel better. The only thing that made this sight even more ridiculous is that Miley Cyrus' brother and the chick from Gossip Girl were standing next to me cheering them on. Yes, that's in the top ten weird moments.

Oh Bamboozle, you so crazy! More on Day Two coming soon!