Young the Giant Interview

MVRemix.com caught up with Eric Cannata of Young the Giant when they passed through Montreal to play Osheaga Music & Arts Festival. Playing on tour with Incubus, lucky shirts and plans for the next album are all on the table in this waterfront and Montreal skyline style Q&A.

How are you enjoying the festival so far?

Eric: I’ve had a blast so far. I didn’t get much time to see the whole entire grounds, but our crowd was incredible and the catering is probably the best catering we’ve had at a festival. It’s been really nice.

Did you get to see any fellow performers?

Eric: Not really, not today. Just a second of Brand New, but nah we just kinda got here. We drove for a while this morning, we were in New York last night and we drove the rest of the way this morning. So when I got here I was kinda sleepy, just hung out. Yeah it’s boring but yeah.

Is there one band that you’re kind of hanging around with the whole tour or are you doing your own thing?

Eric: This run we are actually only doing two shows. We’ve had a lot of time off recently to write our new record and the two runs that we played both shows with a band called Portugal. The Man.  And we got to hang out with those guys so we’ve been hanging out with them, but we haven’t really been on an extended tour.

What do you think makes Osheaga unique compared to other festivals?

Eric: Just how everything is run. Sometimes you get festivals where it’s a little bit hectic and just the whole plan of where everything is and stuff. I keep hearing everybody telling me how awesome it is here. Like I said I haven’t got much of a chance to walk around the whole grounds but everyone is saying it’s a really well planned out festival and again the catering is unbelievable.

How does a song make it on a set list for these types of festivals and what gets cut?

Eric: Today we cut… we usually play three or four new songs that aren’t on the first record and today we only played one of those songs. We try to stay away from the slower songs and stick to a more up tempo set for these kind of shows.

 

Talking about your self-titled album, was there one inspiration that came to the table when you were producing it?

Eric: There were a couple. I think we always go back to when we were living close to the beach in Orange County. We were kind of inspired by living by the beach and kind of eternal summer, and just hanging out. We all took time off from school so it was kind of just a big party and celebration. Then we moved to L.A. and then it got more serious. When we were finishing up the record we lived in Hollywood right on Sunset Boulevard and lived a bike ride away from our studio, so a little bit inspired by the city and the city life.

If you had to sell it on one track which one would it be, and could you tell me a little about it?

Eric: I think our song “Strings” is kind of a good mix…It’s kind of a more summery vibe on it, but yeah I think “Strings” can give you a good view of the album.

What has been your greatest challenge as a band so far?

Eric: I think being away from home, being away from our girlfriends and families, and friends definitely takes a toll, but we’ve been very fortunate to get to where we are so quickly. We’re about to take a lot of time off to do the second record at home. That’s probably the hardest thing for us, just being away so much and figuring out a way to be at home as much as possible but also, you know, tour as much as possible and play shows.

Do you ever get to bring your friends and family on tour?

Eric: Yeah, I had a couple of instances. My girlfriend comes out every once in a while to a show. I had a friend out for Bonnaroo and that was a lot of fun. You know a friend from growing up, he got to come out and see kind of how it is at festivals, being in a band at a festival. He had a blast and we got to see Radiohead together.

Is there one thing that you take from home that you bring on tour, one special item?

Eric: I have a bird. Its like a hand carved bird that I put on my amp. I always have a lot of lucky things, you know. I guess I bring all of my shirts that are lucky to me. I guess I’m that kind of person, where I have a bunch of little things that I find give me good luck. This time out I brought my dad’s old hat from when he played baseball, I’ve been wearing that…reminds me of my dad.

Do you have any crazy stories on tour, past and present?

Eric: Yeah we do… I always forget when that question is asked. We’ve done a lot of van tours, we we’re lucky enough to get on a bus last year. But one time when we were in van we just broke down on the side of the road, on the side of the freeway in the Mohave Desert and it was burning hot and there were those fire, red ants everywhere like crawling up our legs and stuff. We had, you know, no reception- couldn’t call anybody so I was waving people down on the freeway and making little chants. What happened was our trailer, the tire popped with how hot it was, luckily this guy in a pick-up truck took an exit when he saw us and pulled back around and pulled over. He happened to be a trailer repairman and he had all his tools and we gave him a shirt and a CD for his son. Yeah he just fixed the trailer for us for free and it was really, really cool. It was a little bit of luck and dancing out there, yelling shit, saw the trailer broken down and felt like being nice.

Now, what is one question you wish you had been asked in an interview but never have yet?

Eric: I don’t know. I feel like we do all these interviews and there’s a lot of general questions but I guess something more specific to what each member does in the band.  Maybe like what gear we have and use, but I guess that would have to do with a more guitar based magazine, considering I play guitar. I’m really into gear, I like to talk about it.

Just wrapping it up, what is one thing die-hard fans don’t know about you?

Eric: Me personally? I’m a black belt in Taekwondo, but I got it when I was like thirteen so…

You’re a little rusty?

Eric: Can’t really pull the same moves. But about the band…ah… I don’t know. We’re all very close, too close sometimes. We lived together for about four years, on and off the road. We’re pretty much like brothers at this point.

You spoke a lot about your upcoming album, can you tell me about the plans surrounding that, have you recorded a lot?

Eric: Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun actually. We first had about three months off. We lived in East L.A. and we set up a home recording studio and we were recording demos there. We got about maybe three to four songs done there and then we started playing them out on the road. Then when we came back for about three weeks we actually got to live at my friend Mikey’s place and Mikey plays guitar for the band Incubus. We got to go on tour with them about a year ago. So he was really kind and let us stay at his house for three weeks and record demos in his home studio, which was a blast. Now were probably at about nine or ten songs done. We’re planning on recording either in November, December or January, going in the studio so we’ll have a couple more months to work at everything and write new tunes. So hopefully we’ll have a good amount of songs and then we’ll pick the best ones for the record.

The Black Lips Interview

Meet the Black Lips – the self-proclaimed “flower punk” band from Georgia. It’s been just over a year ago since, Arabia Mountain, their sixth full-length hit the stands – but its not like this four-piece is at a loss of things to talk about.

MVRemix.com got down and dirty with Jared and Cole of the Black Lips when they passed through Montreal to play Osheaga Music & Arts Festival. Crazy tour stories, fish sticks and plans for the next album are all on tap in this interview.


How are you enjoying the festival so far?

Jared: So far so good. It’s been great.

Cole: Pretty awesome.

Have you seen any acts so far?

Jared: Nah…

Cole: We’re watching Garbage right now from the backstage screen.

Are you going to some tonight? Snoop Lion?

Jared: Well I have to DJ after this. Most of the times we play festivals we don’t see anyone.

What’s unique about Osheaga compared to other festivals?

Cole: The food is the best food I’ve ever had!

Jared: Top-notch catering!

I heard there’s a crazy chef…

Jared: the Iron Chef!

The Iron Chef?!

Jared: Yeah, he beat Bobby Flay.

Cole: Oysters, lobsters, payaya.

What’s your favourite meal so far?

Jared: Poutine.

So how do you chose what gets played in a festival like this and what gets cut?

Cole: Best of the best.

Do you do anything special on stage… compared to other festivals?

Cole: I vomited all over the stage. If that’s not special I gay fucked the crowd.

So your latest album was released just over a year ago, how’s the success surrounding that?

Cole: Incredible success.

Jared: We all bought houses, I’m building a bathroom right now. It ain’t cheap you know? You gotta get contractors and stuff. We can buy food. We go to markets…

Cole: It’s helping us survive.

Jared: Yeah, hotel rooms, jet planes sometimes.

No private jets though?

Jared: No, no.

Cole: We’re gonna try to work on that.

Jared: All custom made shit too.

But is there one inspiration that came to the table when you were making your album?

Cole: Science, technology…

Jared: Mine was more nature and sociology, just figuring out how people work.

Cole: We always study psychology because as a band, you know, you’re dealing with people.

Jared: I’m the only male in my family who’s not a preacher, so I grew up seeing – and these are evangelicals, so they’re like screaming on the stage, speaking talk, slapping people off… so I’m like hmmm how do I use that to my advantage and be in a band and use that. You will never be able to recreate that because we are not eternal.

Cole: We are so unique. Like me I’m in such a niche demographic being a homosexual, Satanist, scientologist. I’m the only one in the world. It’s a new perspective.

Jared: People get really mad at us because we don’t really have politics but we can agree with anyone. We like independent businesses. But like Chick-Fil-A was really bad the other day. Me and Cole started dating and we made out in the Chick-Fil-A. It’s been a hard kinda few days because not only are we Christians, and like the gay community was. His girlfriend – he got pregnant with his girlfriend when he started dating me and we live next door to each other and we’re in the same band! They say always not to mix business with pleasure.

Cole: It’s okay man.

If you had to sell your album on one track which one would it be?

Jared: Oh one track… I guess…

Cole: That’s hard. We love all our children.

Jared: On this last one? They’re all our children, we can’t pick one of them.

Fair, fair. So from the recording process, how many songs did you record and how many did you scrap?

Jared: We usually track about 30 and put about half on the record.

Cole: There’s a lot of scraps, lot of editing.

Jared: When you got four writers you got a lot of songs.

Are you gonna release any of those?

Cole: Yeah we’ve released a couple.

Jared: And now with like our thing we write songs about each other, I admit they’re kinda gay.

Do you think you’ve grown both musically and personally since your last release?

Cole: Yeah sonically, psychologically…

Jared: We’ve seen more places, for sure, we’ve been around the world about four or five times.

Cole: We live every day like all hell is about to break loose.

Jared: If you don’t think like that everyday like all this shit is about to hit the fan then why would you wake up?

Cole: That giddy feeling that the General gets when he had his finger on the nuclear button.

Jared: I like to picture myself in 1962 with Castro with his finger on the bomb like should I do it? And just like… Lets go!

Cole: That’s the feeling we like.

Jared: That’s that rush! That’s like divers get that feeling when they do a triple back flip.

Cole: Some people live for that. They call them daredevils. I consider us one of them.

Jared: They call them adrenaline junkies

Cole: Yeah, adrenaline junkies.

So what is one of your greatest challenges so far?

Cole: Going to Iraq, that’s one of our greatest challenges.

Jared: Yeah the borders are closing soon, we have to go September 13th, we have to keep watching Aljazeera every day.

Cole: We’re not kidding.

Jared: We’re not lying.

You have to go by then or you’re not in?

Jared: No that’s when our plane tickets are for.

Cole: We cant just like go to Iraq, it’s not a tourist destination.

Jared: Do you think we’re going to Sandestin Florida or something? C’mon now.

Cole: It’s gonna be awesome.

Is there one thing you bring on tour, like a special item?

Jared: Guitars, voices.

Cole: Guitars, drums.

Tell me about one of the craziest stories you’ve had, past and present on tour.

Cole: Oh man, there’s so many…

I want a good one

Cole: Ah me and Jared we got basically removed by a police officer off a flight in Australia because we smart off to the flight attendants.

Jared: Ok! Here’s the story I was sitting in an exit row and I had a light windbreaker on my lap and they’re like ‘Oh I’m sorry you have to either wear that or stow it’. I was like ‘Okay’. So I wrap the light windbreaker around my neck like a scarf. He’s like ‘I’m sorry you have to either wear that or stow it’ and I was like ‘I’m wearing it as a scarf’. He’s like [Australian accent] ‘I’m sorry mate that’s not a scarf’. I was like ‘Oh yes that is a scarf. I’m from L.A. and I know way more about fashion then you and this is a scarf I’m wearing.’ Then he left and then five minutes later eight federal agents come aboard and escort me off and then he got escorted off later.

Cole: I told the flight attendants to stop harassing me. She said my bag was too big so I went out and made sure it fit the specifications there before the flight. It met the specifications of size. You didn’t have to shove it through this rectangle and then she’s still like ‘C’mon’. I said ‘Can you please get out of my face you’re harassing me.’ And then she said ‘You calm down’ and I was like ‘No you calm down’. Then I shut up ‘cause I knew I was gonna get in trouble. And then next thing I know, I wake up and there’s police coming on the plane. Go figure they let a guy from Jordi3 on because he was trying to get a seat and we didn’t get the last seat so we got kicked off…

Jared: But the best was they moved us to a Virgin and we went with Virgin and they wouldn’t charge us for any of the drinks, we’re like ‘Why?!’. In the end all the stewardesses we’re like ‘We want to go to your show!’. And the pilots came out they’re like ‘Oh you’re the Black Lips?’ So we took both pilots and all the stewardesses to our show that night and we got wasted…

Cole: And at the end the flight attendant invited Ian back to her hotel room but he was too tired, which like never happens.

Jared: And I’m scared of airplanes, like really really bad and I had the pilot coaching me like ‘Are you seriously never scared when you take off? Cause I always feel like I’m going to die’.

Well what’s one word you would use to describe each other?

Jared: Awesome.

Cole: My boyfriend.

Jared: Yeah, my boyfriend.

Cole: Sometimes I think its hard dating Jared but then when we snuggle at night all the pain melts away.

Jared: Well its kinda cool because its not like I have to bring my girlfriend on tour anymore because we have to share hotel rooms anyways at night so it works out perfectly. And we get to share the same funds we make exactly the same amount of money. So it’s always a Dutch Date.

If they had to make a movie about your band who would you chose to play each other?

Jared: I wanna be Denzel.

Cole: George Costanza… what’s his name… Jason Alexander. He shares my last name.

Jared: Yeah I wanna be Denzel Washington.

So what’s one thing die-hard fans do not know about you?

Jared: We’re pretty open, like we don’t really have any secrets.

Just wrapping up, what’s coming up in your future?

Cole: Going to Iraq! Hopefully we can get in.

Jared: Going to Iraq and then we’re going to record our seventh album.

Do you have any songs written or recorded?

Jared: Oh yeah, a ton of them a bunch of them, we already started going in the studio.

Name for a title yet?

Jared: Ass Dogs.

Cole: Ass Dogs, yeah.

What’s the album cover gonna look like?

Jared: Just gonna be a dogs butt. Hey! Do you like fish sticks?

Yeah for sure.

Jared: Do you like them in your mouth?

Sure? [laughing]

Cole: Have you seen South Park?

[Cole & Jared laughing]

Setting me up here!

Cole: He’s been trying to set people up. He always tells girls the joke, it doesn’t sound as good.

Are there any fish sticks here?

[Cole & Jared laughing]

Cole: I would have them in my mouth

You didn’t have any in your mouth yet?

Cole: No I will ‘cause I like fish sticks and I like them in my mouth

They have some outside if you wanna go pick ‘em up!

Cole: Really? Really?

Yeah, around here, downtown!

Cole: You serious?!

Jared: I’m not going downtown!

Cole: He doesn’t like fish sticks, I like them.

Jared: I’m waiting for a girl that I like

Cole: What?! We’re dating!

Jared: Oh yeah

Cole: See what I have to deal with! We’re gonna go get some fish sticks

The Royal Concept Interview

From Stockholm Sweden, the Royal Concept come to sweep you off you feet with your fix of infectious indie pop-rock, powered by catchy guitar riffs, synth-pop keyboards and contagious hooks. Pampered with indie rock influence, the quartet’s fresh hit single “Gimme Twice” will drag you straight to the dance floor, proving to be a perfect standout summer anthem.

The Royal Concept consists of David Larson [Vocals/Guitar], Filip Bekic [Guitar], Magnus Robert [Bass], and Frans Povel [Drums]. “D-D-Dance” has already reached No.2 and “Gimme Twice”, No. 3 on Hype Machine with “Gimme Twice” becoming the #1 most added song at Alternative as soon as it hit the airwaves, according to BDS. Be sure to check out their music video for “Gimme Twice” and pick up their debut EP, out now.

I just wanted to congratulate you guys on the release of your EP and “Gimme Twice” video. How are you feeling about your success so far? Has it set in yet?

It’s terrible really. You have to spend a lot of time in New York, playing your own music all the time, all over the world that is, no time for school, parents far away. It’s hard, but we knew rock’n’roll life was going to be tough.

Give the readers a little background on yourselves and the history of the band, and we’ll go from there.

Four guys from Stockholm in Sweden. One with Serbian/Croatian heritage. Complete instrumental nerds. Formed this band last year after having traveled all over with female artists, like Robyn. Had a different singer first, and band didn’t really feel right. Povel – bit of a drum star in Scandinavia – joined and David began to front the band, voila, we had it. We made some new tracks. Instant success on Swedish radio, and then that breakthrough with the blogs over this new year. People coming over from The States. Got a record deal and moved to NY, the first flight we could find. That’s it really.

How does it feel to have your music compared to the likes of Phoenix? Are they major influences?

We are Phoenix, just changed names a couple a months ago. Funny no one got that.

How long did it take to record your EP as a whole?

We wrote and recorded 20 songs in six weeks. We picked out the five least awesome ones for the EP and saved the really good ones for the LP. We wanted people to get to know us first before releasing a whole 12 tracks album and we’re still really proud of the EP.

If you had to sell your EP on one track which one would it be and could you tell the readers a little about that track?

In The End has a lot of feelings, and is a song that can be four minutes or 30 minutes. It’s our anthem so far. Sort of unites people. We also love the song Naked and Dumb, it’s a bonus track on the physical EP.

How did the idea for your video for “Gimme Twice” come about? Were other ideas brought up?

We had a number of suggestions related to the idea that girls had fun and basically did what they wanted with us. We wanted a video where we performed our song and since the song is about a really dominant girl in a relationship, we thought this was the best idea.

What has been your greatest challenge as a band so far?

Keeping the cool as things have gone so fast. There’s a million voices everyday that tells us their view and what we should do, and they’re all good people but also very persistent and convincing. So you get a lot of everything and you really have to work hard to keep a steady eye on your vision.

Which artists are you into right now? What’s on your iPod?

We love St Vincent and we also have to mention Rufus Wainwright, he really gave us a lot when we were younger. We’ve had a couple of weeks where we’ve educated ourselves in some new US releases so we’ve had Billboards hot 100 shuffled on our Ipods. Gotye, Passion Pit, Fun and Foster The People stick out of course.

Is there one thing you wouldn’t leave home without when you go on tour?

Our instruments and clear eyes.

What was the last job you had before doing the band full time? 

None of us has ever had a job and if what we’re doing now is considered a job, we have the best job in the world.

What is one question you wish you had been asked in an interview but never have yet?

How did it feel to win all categories at the American Grammy Awards?

If you weren’t writing music and playing music what do you think you would be doing?

Filip would have moved back to Croatia and opened his own olive oil farm up in the mountains and the other three of us would have worked for him. Povel would also have an extra job as a pole dancer down at the local saloon.

What is one thing die-hard fans do not know about you?

That after every show we invite a few people backstage and do a secret stripped down show for them.

Any future plans for touring?

You kiddin’? We’ll do a run of shows in US in the fall, with different artists, Alex Clare, Fun and others, and then we have requests from many parts of the world outside US too. Check out our FB-page and by all means join our world wherever it is. We would love to see you at the gigs!

Where do you see yourself and the band in ten years from now?

Making love to big crowds, and doing small intimate gigs in between.

The Black Lips Interview

Every now and again, interview recordings get erased or damaged and files on computers get corrupted. This was the case with my Black Lips interview conducted June 16th, 2011. As it didn’t make it onto the site then due to the ever reliable Windows operating system, now that it has been recovered, here you go just under a year later.

How many bands can talk about being kicked out of India for indecency on stage, having threats issued and bribes suggested? Probably about the same amount that can lay claim to performing in Vancouver on the infamous night of the Stanley Cup Final riots (2011 version).

Having been scheduled to perform at the Commodore Ballroom, unforeseen to the band and their promoters, Vancouver made it to Game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, playing the Boston Bruins in an extremely tense and crucial finale. As their venue was to be right in the centre of downtown Vancouver, nearby live display sites where the game was being shown to the public for free (wonder if that’ll happen again), the promoters felt it best that regardless of the Canuck’s result (victory – insane partying, loss – “potential” rioting) they were moved to the Rickshaw Theatre. A venue which Cole described as “Junkie central.”

We spoke shortly after the group had crossed the border back into the US.

MVRemix: Now that you’ve made it out of Canada are you happy to have left?

Cole Alexander: The rioting was kind of exciting. Some of it was, dare I say; retarded. But we tend to kind of get into other things.

MVRemix: Did you watch the hockey game?

Cole Alexander: We watched the third quarter while we ate Vietnamese food.

MVRemix: What was your take on what happened?

Cole Alexander: It looked like Vancouver got blown out on that last game. It looks like that goalie (Tim Thomas) did really well or something.

MVRemix: Because of the riots, how do you feel your show went as a result of that?

Cole Alexander: Well I was a little frustrated because of all these crazy riots. I was frustrated because they moved our show to the neighbourhood where all the junkies live (East Hastings at the Rickshaw Theatre). And yeah, it’s like junkie central; weird crackheads and bums. There was a little bit of rioting but it was more downtown and that’s where I wanted to be so I could see the burning cars and stuff. We did see fire smoke, ambulances and people screaming, crying… Saw some bloody people. They really chimped out.

MVRemix: Did you feel any pressure to put on a greater show because of what was happening that night?

Cole Alexander: I mean that’s just a kind of naturally occurring process. We just happened to be the perfect band to come in town on that night. Fleet Foxes might not [have] fit the vibe.

MVRemix: What was the crowd like that night in your audience?

Cole Alexander: There were crazy people. There was a girl that took off her shirt and her pants and was crowdsurfing the whole show. Naked. Girls making out… Stuff like that.

MVRemix: You’ve said your live show is a very organic thing, which artists have influenced your live performances?

Cole Alexander: JT Allen, Dead Boys, Residents, Jefferson Aeroplanes …

Cole Alexander: I had a little trouble with some, then Mark told me to try the chorus a different way. Then I improvised and it came out better than I had done before. That was kind of a rewarding experience to get pushed to go farther.

MVRemix: How do you feel the album has been received as a whole in comparison to your other albums?

Cole Alexander: So far the album is being received from what I’ve read in the reviews, whereas some of our older albums have been over reviewed – they’ve either been really good or really bad; they either love it or hate it with this album I haven’t seen one bad review. There have been some more positive, saying it’s good but not incredible but I haven’t seen any bad reviews. Commercially too, I think it stands a lot better than our other albums.

MVRemix: Now The Black Lips are a band that has toured many places that many bands haven’t done (India, the middle east etc.), are there any places you would recommend other bands visit that nobody really considers?

Cole Alexander: [ponders] I’d say Iraq.

MVRemix: Okay, and what part of Iraq?

Cole Alexander: Maybe the northern region.

MVRemix: What about the northern region appeals to you?

Cole Alexander: Well it’s a place where most people have abandoned as an important culture. So there’s a lot unknown about it, a lot to learn about… So we’d like to play there ourselves, hopefully in the coming year.

MVRemix: How did you first discover that region? Was it on a tour itinerary or…?

Cole Alexander: We’re trying to go there right now, we just wanna get out there.

MVRemix: A la “Fight Club,” “If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight?”

Cole Alexander: [ponders] Let me think about that… [continues to ponder]

MVRemix: Maybe Mark [Ronson] because of making some choices you didn’t on the record?

Cole Alexander: I already told you I was very happy with everything on the record! [ponders more] 50 Cent.

MVRemix: And would you win?

Cole Alexander: I’d probably lose but you’ve gotta go for the top, you know? And he already tried to take out me, so that’s cool.

MVRemix: When you’re writing lyrics, I’ve read a lot of times that you come up with the music first and then write the lyrics afterwards. Are there many songs, especially on Arabia Mountain, where you went into it writing the lyrics beforehand?

Cole Alexander: “Don’t Mess Up My Baby” I had the lyrics more or less written and then we added the music separate.

MVRemix: I’ve also read that you had never planned on a fallback, so you really had to focus on making your music work. At what point did you decide to really go for it and not balance a part time job or something?

Cole Alexander: From the day I was born I… I mean I did have another day job, but that was just a pain. Really from day one I was focused.

MVRemix: Any words for your fans that will be reading this?

Cole Alexander: We love Vancouver, they’re very sadistic there. I hope that the sadists will purchase the record.

Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside Interview: The Sound That Made Jack White Take Notice

Finding the cute-as-a-button Sallie Ford waiting for me on a couch, legs swinging like a child whose feet don’t quite touch the floor, automatically puts a smile on your face. It’s late in the day on the final night of Sasquatch Music Festival and, having just played a show on the Yeti Stage, Sallie Ford doesn’t appear the least bit tired, smiling away and watching the buzz of the media room slowly die out.

The North Carolina native quickly apologizes for taking up my time while John C. Reilly plays the stage just outside, making it quite clear that she’d very much like to catch this show herself so without delay, I take my cue and decide a few questions in here and then possibly finish the interview by watching a show on the interview with the uniquely talented Sallie Ford.




So a girl from North Carolina, a one-time Portland busker, and a couple of guys down from Alaska and you all found each other in Portland. Did the Portland music scene draw you in or was it happenstance that you guys formed up there?

I don’t know… I recently found out that there’s a great music history in the Pacific Northwest as far as The Ventures and The Sonics and that’s really inspiring. So that’s where I feel I’ll move towards eventually: that type of music, I guess. More rock n’ roll.

You can hear fun influences of swing and swing-style music all throughout your album. Even back in the 30’s and the beginning of the swing era, swing was known as being risque and having risque lyrics and with the honest and straight-shooting lyrics you put out there, are you worried about radio-play?

If you listen to our “single”, I Swear, I’m willing to use [laughs] “cuss” words in my music and I think we’re to the point where, ya, certain radio stations won’t play it but… actually some radio stations can still play that stuff. Canadian stations are a bit more ‘lax and Europe and that. I don’t want to get SUPER controversial or anything, like getting nude on stage or anything [laughs]. Sometimes being controversial is fun though, so why not?

With things going so well for you right now; Letterman, your album Dirty Radio really gaining momentum, playing bigger festivals, as a group do you find you’re becoming more of a loving family or is there a need for time apart every once in a while?

Ya, sometimes break time is nice [laughs]. When we tour in Europe we’re lucky that there are some people helping us out financially so we’re able to get our own hotel rooms, which is nice. We also enjoy time off but we don’t really get that much these days…

Have you gotten any time off recently to chill out in Portland or see your family back in North Carolina?

Not really, no. It’s always hard with the move to the west coast. I never really get back to see my family as often as I should but my dad [puppeteer Hoby Ford] also travels a lot so I got to see him in Denver a few weeks ago. As a band, we’re in Portland sometimes but right now it’s different with Europe and the tour there. That’s been keeping us busy and we’ve been recording recently as well as getting a tour ready for the fall in the U.S.

Recording a new album or just piecing one together slowly?

We recorded a new album. I think late September is when we’re aiming to have it come out, so that’s exciting.

Speaking of your European tour, you guys are all over the map in Europe. Was that your first time over there so trying to spread the name as far and wide as you could?

No, I mean, we were there all of February and part of March but also in late November of last year we were there touring. We keep going back there, we can’t stop. We just took a trip in late March just to play on t.v. there. A day trip to Paris, you know! [laughs] And I think this year we’ll probably fly two or three more times, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Back to your family briefly; I read that your mother is a musician and music teacher. Do you ever pass your songs over her way and ask, “So… any good?”

[Laughs] Oh, man! I don’t know. Usually, that’s my band and I feel like they’re the best for me to do that with. I think I was really lucky to have my mom as a music teacher as a kid though. She’s so busy these days that just getting on the phone to catch up, we hardly have time for that. My parents always hear my early recordings and they’re just so supportive and all they do is just encourage me! As far as bringing the beginnings of songs to them and stuff, it’s actually why I think the band works so well because I might be uncertain about songs but I’ll bring them to the band and we’ll all shape things in a way that makes me think, “Okay, this is really good, actually.” As well as the fact that we just worked with producers for the first time and that was, well, they were definitely honest and little bit hard to hear at times. They’d walk in and go, “This song… I don’t think we should pursue this.” or, “We should change this little part, here.” which is good, it’s necessary.

Do you feel that having this new structure around you now that you’re signed to a label has changed the way you write, possibly even the sound a bit as opposed to just creating, recording it, and putting it out for people to hear?

Well, I actually haven’t done a lot of writing since then, so… I just bought a baritone guitar and I’m planning to do some writing on that and I think having a new instrument can be really inspiring. I just bought that fender [that she performed with earlier] about four or five months ago so I’ll probably use that to write with if I get some time off. I go through spurts, and producers have nothing to do with that. I’ll not write anything for a while but then I’ll write five songs all of a sudden, so I’m not too worried about it [laughs]. For now, I don’t want to write a bunch of stuff that I’m gonna have to wait to play.

Being from Vancouver myself, I have to ask, any plans for Canadian stops on a tour soon?

Of course, ya. Actually, we were just there… last night! [laughs] In Vancouver! We played at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre opening for Jack White! It was awesome! It was kind of a last minute thing that it happened…

Opening for Jack White… wow… Did you get to meet him?

It was insane. It was so cool [shakes her head in disbelief]. So cool! I did meet him. I didn’t know how it was gonna all go down but I think it all went down perfectly! We got a brief interaction, we were setting up our gear, he walked over, shook our hands, and just seems like a nice guy. He has got quite the production! Watching his show was just amazing too. He is… just… the best! He has to be one of the most original acts out there. Such a hard-working person too. Seeing him work was just amazing.

Would you consider that an influence of yours then? Are there others that you’d like to meet to let them know how they’ve inspired you?

It was pretty sweet to meet Jack White, obviously, but yeah. I’d love to meet The Black Keys, Tom Waits… I mean all of those are really talented people that I feel still have a good head on their shoulders and they’re still genuine people, from what I’ve heard. I think just meeting artists that, well, they do things that I guess could be considered “selling out” but they still work hard to do other things that aren’t necessary for them anymore. Like Jack White playing tiny, small theatres or The Black Keys putting on a show in a big arena that still feels intimate and they work hard to make it that way. Tom Waits is the same way… more so. That guy hasn’t done any commercials, any licensing, nothing. He also had it made cause he started so long ago. I think that path would be impossible for us to do. I really don’t mind, “selling out” as some people call it. There’s definitely a limit, but we have to make money. It’s a career, a job, you know?

Is it about time we head out to see us some John C. Reilly?

Absolutely! I think I have another interview but I can sneak out. And, as for Vancouver, hopefully we’ll be touring there in the fall. I know we’re going to be doing CD release shows in Portland and Seattle for sure but we’d love to make it up to Vancouver, too.

With the swinging, rocking, funky sound that Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside bring, it’s no wonder Jack White took notice. If she finds her way to Vancouver again I suspect they’ll only be bigger and better by that point and likely to find themselves an excited audience no matter where they tour. You can find their debut album “Dirty Radio” on iTunes or in select music stores in Vancouver so find your way to their sound and know that you’ll be up dancing around your house in no time!

The Sheepdogs Interview: “It’s Not Rocket Science, It’s Just Rock ‘n Roll”!

The Canadian rock group The Sheepdogs have gotten some pretty big press lately, and not just due to the fact that they were recently on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. These prairie boys from the small town of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan have been touring non-stop alongside some pretty big names including the legendary John Fogerty of CCR (Creedence Clearwater Revival), and aren’t stopping anytime soon.

Just after playing an absolutely hard-hitting, classic rock revival-style day’s opener at Sasquatch, lead vocalist, Ewan Currie and bass guitar player, Ryan Gullen took a couple of minutes out of their hectic schedule to talk festivals, international tours, and the Canadian bands that they’d lend a helping hand to first chance they get (and of which, they’re likely to get soon)!



Walking on stage at a venue like this: you’ve played around the world, but what’s it like opening a stage of this size in a place like the Gorge?

Gullen: It’s very cool. It’s obviously a very epic stage, maybe one of the most in the world, I don’t know. It’s such a crazy view, obviously from the stage it’s a little different but, well, the reception was unbelievably good and from start to finish we just felt very welcome, which was great!

When you walked on stage, you headed right to the mic, announced, “We are The Sheepdogs. We’re from Saskatoon. Let’s get it on!” Is that your approach to everything you do?

Currie: Exactly. Just get it on. It’s not rocket science, it’s just rock ‘n roll. You’ve gotta have the right balance between caring and not caring if that makes any sense.

I’m sure this comes up in nearly every interview you’ve had recently but, the cover of Rolling Stone: quite the feat. Big change since then?

Gullen: Absolutely! It’s just been a really great way to get our music out there and kinda get things rolling, music wise. We’ve been a band for a long time now, touring around and having marginal successes but it took things to a whole new level. It allowed us to do this full time and all the time which is tiring but it’s also fucking awesome.

Any breaks coming up for you guys to rest?

Gullen: No, not really. We just came off a three month run. We were off for four days and we get a few days here and there but no long-term time off till into next year basically.

Did you get back to Saskatoon and your friends and family at least for those four days?

Gullen: We did. It was nice to get back. It definitely doesn’t happen very often anymore. This is what we want to be doing, obviously, but it’s nice to sleep in your own home and in your own bed. Somewhere that isn’t a hotel basically.

Speaking to your tour manager about a friend of mine, the uber-talented Adaline, I heard you ran into her in Calgary? Small world, the Canadian music industry?

Gullen: Ya, we played a kick-off to the Stampede. We played… Thursday, I think it was. And ya, we saw Shawna [Beesley; Adaline’s off-stage name] in Calgary. It is, and it’s great to run into talented musicians that are friends. Makes you feel like things are going right, you know?

Stampede turns into one hell of a week-long party, are you going back for the actual event?

Currie: We’re playing the 100th Anniversary so it should be pretty crazy. We’re expecting nothing less [laughs]!

Gullen: Unfortunately we’re in and out though. We play somewhere else, on the other side of Canada I think the next day, so… But it’s one of those things that we’ve never been to before, any of us. I have friends that have gone since it’s very close to Saskatoon, but it’ll be fun this year for sure. It seems like it’s just always the craziest time when the whole city shuts down!

In terms of touring and playing shows in the rest of Canada, any tours coming up we should know about?

Currie: You know, we’re pretty busy. We have lots of summer festivals in Canada coming up that’ll bring us around a lot. In terms of an actual tour though? We’re gonna be doing the U.S. and we’ve been doing a lot of stuff overseas; the U.K., Australia, things like that. It probably won’t be until early next year till we get an actual Canadian Tour going. We’re gonna be all over though. Between Stampede, various festivals in Ontario, Osheaga in Quebec, BC…

Gullen: We’re basically playing every province over the summer.

Currie: People are gonna be able to see us all over Canada, whether it’s in the Prairies or Ontario, west, east, we’re even out to Newfoundland.

When you’re touring internationally, you’ve been playing with some pretty big names, some pretty classic names…

Currie: We did a tour with John Fogerty in Australia, which was so unbelievable. I mean… Creedence! Other than that, we’ve done some “opening” tours with some great names but I think we’re looking to do some of our own [tours] now. Trying to get people more aware of who we are outside of Canada. Grow the name out there, you know? We’re doing well in Canada, and that’s amazing, but there’s lots of room out there to go elsewhere.

Coming from small town Canada… well, Saskatoon, not really…

Gullen: Ya. It’s a small town.

Currie: Small city… give it it’s dues, man.

Well, coming from small city Canada, any other local acts or smaller Canadian acts that you’re listening to right now that you could lead the way for? Possibly give a shot to on your own tours?

Gullen: Yukon Blonde.

Currie: Ya, out of BC. Yukon Blonde are great. We took out Monster Truck from Ontario on tour with us last year and they were great too. But ya, Yukon Blonde are some great guys that we think are really good and we’ve been hanging out with lately…

Gullen: Zeus.

Currie: Zeus are a really good band. I think bands that are around our age and that are bringing some more melody and bringing in more guitars for sure. There’s room for that right now, I think. People always like a good melody and a good rock song so that’s not only the music we want to make but the music we’re attracted to.

Although it may not be as recognized by some, do you think the rock scene in Canada is going strong right now?

Gullen: I think it’s probably small, comparatively, but I think Canada’s always had rock representation even going back to the 60’s with The Band, Guess Who, and Neil Young. Even in the 90’s with stuff like Sloan, there’s always been Canadian rock music that’s been recognized as great. Maybe not always on a big scale, you know, but by people who really appreciate music and I’d like to think that we’re a part of continuing that tradition.

Right out of the gate in most of your shows people begin to compare you to classic Canadian rock legends, if not classic rock legends at large. Ever feel daunted by the bar set before you?

Currie: That’s what you want to hear though. I mean, you don’t want to be compared to like… well… [laughs] let’s just say maybe someone you wouldn’t want to. I wanna be compared to the best! That’s what you want as a band. It’s daunting sometimes though, sure. I mean, we get the Allman Brothers a lot cause we do some, sort of “Allman-sy” stuff and that’s scary cause those guys were gigantic guitar players and, [laughs] we’re just not in that class.

Some would try to argue that point you know…

Currie: I don’t think we are at all but of course it’s really an honour because we aspire to be like those bands. For people to recognize that, it feels great!

Anything you’re recording now or that you’re about to record that you’re excited about? Excited for people to hear about possibly?

Gullen: We recorded an album in January. We did it down in Nashville with Pat Carney [multi-instrumentalist and drummer] from The Black Keys. We’re at that point where we’re just getting everything ready to go, the music’s done…

Currie: We’re just getting all the other stuff that goes along with getting an album out now. The release date hasn’t been set yet but it’s gonna be in the fall. Fall is what we’re planning for and we’re really excited for it.

I for one will be there the day this album comes out. I’ve also, although talking up plenty of the acts seen at Sasquatch this year have had Sheepdogs on constant rotation since I’ve been home and thanks to these good ole’ rock and roll boys, may just have to grow out my hair, toss on their record, and really rock out as I can only imagine the youth of yesteryear once did.

Check out Chelsea Chernobyl’s photographs of The Sheepdogs at Sasquatch 2012.

Howlin’ Rain Interview

I sat down recently for an interview with Ethan Miller of Howlin’ Rain, a couple days before the band’s appearance at Sasquatch. Howlin’ Rain’s record The Russian Wilds was released in February of this year under the aegis of producer Rick Rubin, who signed the band to his American Recordings label a few years ago. Four years in the making, TRW shifts the band’s reference points away from the Bay, evoking instead the sound of southern California circa 1975. Of course, your humble reviewer had her computer expire on her the weekend after this interview, and exhuming it took a few days, but better late than never, as the poet says, except when it comes to waiting for the proverbial man, which should have been the first thing you learned anyway, right? Right-right.

So here you go, post-Sasquatch people. Welcome back to the future!



I’m really interested in how you got from Comets on Fire to Howlin’ Rain. It’s a very different kind of music, you know, sort of the pysch-garage music vs. the kind of epic classic rock that you’re doing now. Could you tell me a little bit about that?

Yeah – I mean, for me it makes sense because for me it’s all part of something that I’m doing so I’m trying to round out a whole, you know, my own creative universe – I get tired of hanging out in just one place in there.

Yeah, of course.

You know, if it’s too crazy or too heavy, whatever, you don’t get to play around with this harmony and the deeper melodies and stuff when you’re playing this nihilistic rock and same vice versa – how in Howlin’ Rain there’s not as much of room for that kind of crazy stuff either – you know, there’s not a lot of nihilism. I guess that’s kind of the yin and the yang of those two things – one of them’s sort of a little bit more redemptive kind of ordered vision of the universe, and the other one’s more a nihilistic vision of the universe, that universe being the creative world that we exist in for either of those groups. But you know, one fulfills a different need, so hopefully at the end of the day it shows the whole thing. I know some people that just like to do a certain kind of thing, whatever, they like to play punk music and that’s what they do all their lives, but I’m hungry to do all that stuff…

Yes, of course. I hear some very unfashionable influences in your music and to me that’s the most punk rock thing about it. You know, “Cherokee Willow” kind of sounds like the Eagles, there’s a Joe Walsh song on there, I hear some Crosby, Stills, and Nash…could you tell me about the artists that inspired you while you were making The Russian Wilds, or maybe the artists that you heard while you were growing up that contributed to you making this record?

I think that those guys, some of those great guys, I mean, Joe Walsh, or CSN – you know, to say that a type of music or a certain record is unfashionable – well, anything that’s older than a year old goes through an unfashionable phase-

Yes.

I mean, the Beatles are unfashionable at some moment and then all of a sudden you hear people say, oh, the Beatles are fashionable again, you know, because they fucking remastered boxed sets and then they’re number one all of a sudden, you know. Bruce Springsteen’s not fashionable for a second and then he’s back in because then you have the Arcade Fire and all other these people and they’re like, oh my god, the Boss!

Yeah, of course…

But he wasn’t hip in 1991 or 1989 – that’s when it was like, the Boss, whatever dude, I’d rather listen to grunge or something…all that’s just in the eye of the beholder. I can’t even keep up – things are spinning so fast in public opinion is hardly a unified thing or whatever…but some of that stuff is classic. I don’t see how someone can’t, you know, draw on some CSN as an influence, no matter what kind of genre you make, or even if you don’t think you want to make that kind of music. I mean, a lot of timess in Howlin’ Rain, or in Comets on Fire, we draw on some very obscure stuff, you know there could be an interesting point in there. But a lot of times, all of us, every single artist making a record, whether it’s the hippest flash in the pan right now making some shit on a laptop or whatever, or whether it’s a classic rock band, we’re all drawing from these creative foundations of artists that helped create and define genres and help create and define classic records leads to all the obscuro stuff that super hip folks get into…all that stuff either sprang as a reaction to the established classics or was influenced by them…

Oh yeah, don’t get me wrong – I think you’re ahead of the curve mining this stuff. Rock music is coming back. There’s a vacuum out there. What makes the music on The Russian Wilds different from the bands to which you’re being compared in the press these days?

Well, for one thing, it’s my music – it’s our music. Every piece of music is unique, some more so than others – well I guess then you get down to the idea of whether it’s derivative or not. I think that it’s a unique thing – we speak through a unique voice and there’s not another record that sounds like our record, and I think in a way it’s just about trying to make something authentic to yourself even if it has a lot of familiar flavors. It kind of goes back to the idea that the newest freshest thing that you think you’ve ever heard before, you know – this is really different – you know, it’s still made up of the ingredients, the same things that we eat every day. It’s just a matter of opinion. My personal opinion is that we make authentic voice and expression, authentic vision for ourselves. But you know, I agree, this record particularly, if it’s under a genre, you know, it’s a classic rock record.

One of the things I really like about this record is the guitar solos: they’re epic. Could you tell me who influenced your guitar playing?

Some of the classics- the classic greats, Hendrix and all that, but my first guitar influences where I learned how I could play guitar and stuff were more punk rock things – you know, like Johnny Thunders – all of a sudden, I was like, whoa, I could pick that up and do that – what he’s doing is a matter of style and swagger and soulful expression, not perfected shredding. I mean, not only can’t you sit down every day and play 24-7 to master all the notes on the guitar neck or whatever – that’s not going to get you the Johnny Thunders thing – not just that, but too much practice and  you’ll never be able to get the Johnny Thunders thing – that’s way too fucking far! That’s what came over me early on – I don’t like fucking sitting around playing all these fucking scales and trying to play like some guitar virtuoso – I just love that, you know, big attitude that I heard right there – where’s he’s like, it comes time for a solo, sometimes he’ll play something like Chuck Berry, but sometimes he just fucking brnnnnnnngggg: slides a giant note up the guitar and just kind of makes it holler. I like that in the early blues playing, you know early Muddy Waters…it’s a lot of that, just moaning, just fucking with the guitar, just moaning – it’s not about perfect tone or perfect pitch, all that stuff… A lot of the punk stuff is the same way, figuring out how to express their own voice outside of their virtuosity…

I wanted to talk to you a little bit about working with Mr. Rubin. He had you guys tour with this material for a long time before recording it?

Well – specifically, rehearsing it. You know, getting that stuff to the right place.

It sounds like it.

Yeah, we rehearsed a long time. We really worked on the stuff for a long time. We worked a lot of material, too – not just those songs right there, a tremendous amount of material, so that we could kind of pick the cream of the crop, and you know, in the end, it was just a little much what we did – I mean, it ended up being years and years to make the record, and it went for hours and hours of collective song demos…you know, you’ve got guys that write a great record, you know, they write their nine songs in a four year span…some people’s whole careers may come and go in half a decade and only write nine or ten great songs…but in this period of four years myself and the band wrote a whole lifetime career full of songs – and that’s just not how I enjoy…I mean, it was cool to do that, but it was also a real challenge.

I bet.

I think some people are like, oh, every album we do 27 songs and narrow it down to the 12 that are going to be on the record, but those people write three-minute songs with two changes…that’s not what’s going on The Russian Wilds, you know, three seventy-minute disks full of demos of songs like that – there are whole other fifteen-minute songs that didn’t get used – the vision is a little complex to be writing five albums and boiling it down to one 70 minute thing…

So did you guys multitrack this thing to a metronome or what? Are there times when you’re playing together? I’m just curious how you made it…

You know, all the tracking is live – some of the stuff, there may not be a lot of me, you know, my guitar or my voice live on there anymore – they’re probably overdubbed because in a lot of instances I’m singing and playing guitar, getting signals and conducting a little bit about certain things while we’re tracking…most of the bass, drums, and keyboards are all the original tracks – the guitars and vocals are overdubbed for the most part – but that stuff was all done the old fashioned way…

I’m always impressed when people are able to do that these days. It seems like a lot of folks have forgotten the art of playing together as a band. So what are you guys going to do next? What’s next for Howlin’ Rain?

You know what? I don’t know right now- what we’re doing is getting all our ducks together for touring, we’re finishing out the year…maybe see what the winter brings after the new year, but we’re touring Europe in September, we’ll be doing some more West Coast and US touring in October and November – we’re just trying to work the record now on the road and do that – you know, to be honest, the recording process was so…we just did a lot of work and we just haven’t, you know, after three and a half years, putting so much work into it…we haven’t rejuvenated…I think it’s happening right now – the record was just released in February and we’re replenishing the creative supplies. We don’t have time to go write and record a new record at the moment. We’re like, look, that was epic, that was pretty fucking crazy, in a controversial sense, almost ruined the band or whatever, but let’s go work this thing on the road and let the wind blow through us and air ourselves out creatively…unless a great opportunity arises for us to do something else we’re just not jumping in – there’d be a little risk there in terms of forcing things…

Vintage Trouble Interview: Creating “Troublemakers” the World ‘Round

Sitting on a small patio overlooking the Yeti Stage at Sasquatch Music Festival, I await the arrival of the talented and exciting group known everywhere as Vintage Trouble. Four grown men having this much fun making music and playing live sets should be illegal: and as I would later find out, not all their live sets were, strictly speaking, legal. Frontman and vocalist Ty Taylor walks out first, jeans, tank and fedora, looking relaxed and about as cool as they get. Not to be outdone by their singer though, the rest of the band, Nalle Colt (guitar), Richard Danielson (drums), and Rick Barrio Dill (bass) all walk out as chilled out and funky as I can remember seeing a group be. Easy going and clearly already enjoying their day, I knew I only had a few minutes of their time before they had to jump on stage to play for the crowd already forming in front of the stage nearly 45 minutes before they’re scheduled to start.


After your show today you guys are heading on tour with the one and only Lenny Kravitz! That’s not too small of a deal…

Taylor: We’re excited for every show on that tour! Also we’re gonna be playing Sweden soon…

Colt: I’m from Sweden and I haven’t played at home in 22 years and the first show of the tour is in Stockholm with Lenny Kravitz, so that’s the biggest deal for me, personally!

In regards to your latest album, The Bomb Shelter Sessions, you recorded that in only three days. Do you find that’s how you, as a group work together the best: get in, throw down, get out?

Taylor: We didn’t plan it like that, that’s for sure.

Danielson: I think we learned from it though, and now we don’t ever want to do it much different, I think. We went in there not really thinking about making a record, we just wanted to go in there to demo up some songs and we pulled together a full album in three days. It has purity to it, you know, because it’s not overthought, so I think that was sort of our roadmap for future recordings. We did it all live, in the same room, tracked it live and that’s the way we like doing it now.

Taylor: In a short period of time like that you kind of don’t have a choice but to stay out of your own way. A lot of times when you over-think things you get in the way of whatever the creative flow was that made it come through you in the first place, so there’s something really great about that. It’s like when you go to the beach and you see those guys making those amazing sculptures out of sand; they’re creating art for art’s sake. It’s not supposed to be seen for generations to come, it’s not supposed to be talked about in a million different circles and discussed. You just create, and then you move on and do the next one.

Your fan-base is known as the “Troublemakers”, do you encourage them to live up to their moniker?

All: They encourage us!!!

Danielson: They named themselves the Troublemakers actually.

Any good “Troublemaker” stories from the road?

Taylor: Depends on where you’re gonna publish this interview [all laugh]!

Online. For the world to read…

Taylor: In that case: Ya there are stories!!! No, but honestly, when we started out, our first performance we played was this place called Harvelle’s [Santa Monica] and right away after that we went to Venice, right down the street basically, in a place called The Stronghold so on our first day of performance we started playing after-hours clubs. So, continually, crazy shit goes on during our shows because a lot of our shows are after-hours and everything that entails. Specifically, we can’t say names of places but the gigs are usually cool and the after-parties are cool. Actually, the Troublemakers also get out and cause a lot of friction in positive ways too, putting in time helping charities and charitable organizations in groups, so it makes for a good balance.

Dill: I think it’s weird that we use people for promotions and hire people for that sort of thing cause the Troublemakers seem like they do more for us than anyone else

Colt: It’s become like a family now, you know? They welcome new Troublemakers really warmly and everyone takes care of each other.

Taylor: They have a page now that we’re not included in… [rest of the band all confirm and laugh]. Like, they go and talk about shit but it has nothing to do with us.

Colt: They’ve become their own community!

Taylor: Right, cause we’d be on the Facebook page going, “Why are you guys talking about all this other shit on our page?” And they’re sort of answer was, “Well, we like each other, so let’s make our own page! Cut these fuckin’ Vintage Trouble guys out!”

Danielson: What I think is really cool though is that they get together and meet before shows, there’s been love interests, a few “lust” interests…

Taylor: Vacations…

Danielson: Vacations together, new friendships, it’s a really tight group.

While on a different tour, Ty, you were invited to front for Queen a while back. Freddie Mercury’s 65th birthday celebration and you get the call: What’s that like?

Taylor: It was great, I was just sorry I had to turn it down. You know… I was just busy that week [silence. Then all break into laughter] “When is it? Wednesday? No… not Wednesday. Shit!” [laughs] It really was amazing though. I mean, it’s one of those things you talk about and everything you seem to say sounds obvious about how great it was but what I will say that may not be obvious is that it was amazing to be in a room with these other people that were all there representing what different facets of his energy, Freddie’s energy. I got to do some stuff with Jeff Beck and all these people that I’ve dreamt of being in a room with. It wasn’t just about Queen, Queen was the honour, but it was also about the people that the band brought together. Their sound had always been, they had always had such a cross-breed of fans. Sometimes when you really think about Queen’s music… it’s just so odd! It’s kind of wild that it became so popular and so the room I was in was full of freaks! Music freaks in the best way possible, but freaks which made the whole thing freaky. And cool. Freaky cool, man! I’m STILL freaked out!

Danielson: Pryer to that we got to go out with Brian May as well when we landed in the UK which was just a real honour as well. Just to watch him every night and to be around that energy, well, it was great!

After playing the SXSW Showcase, there were four names mentioned as the “Memorable and best shows of the event”: The Jesus and Mary Chain, Jack White, Bruce Springsteen, and Vintage Trouble. What kind of a reaction do you have first hearing your name in that grouping?

Danielson: We just sort of stumbled into that, actually. I mean, I had never been to SXSW so I didn’t know what to expect. It’s just another day at the office for us, you know? We just went and did what we did and we happened to get a great slot which helped too.

Colt: Everyone’s just so juiced up while they’re there too. That’s WHY they’re there, really. So it was a great, great music crowd to play for !

Dill: It was such a huge honour too, to play there. Just very fortunate to be able to play there cause there’s so many great bands there with, what, 2,500, 3,000 bands there or something like that that roll through there so I think the fortunate part is that we kind of strike a chord that works within ourselves and if that strikes a chord with the people that listen then we’re very lucky.

You’ve described yourselves and your sound as, “Live-wired, straight-shootin’, dirty-mouth’d, pelvis-pushin’ juke music!” Who can we attribute that to?

Dill: Combination of things, I guess.

Taylor: Well… me, actually [laughs]. It’s in “Blues Hand-Me Down”. It’s in the song, you know. Some of our themes and mottos just fell upon us, you know? There wasn’t a lot of strategy to that. Someone asked us one day, “Who’s that about?”

Danielson: And the “pelvis-pushin’ was Charlie…

Taylor: Charlie, ya! We had this guy that used to tour with us and he had his brother say one day, “That music just makes me wanna push my pelvis out, man!” So it did come from all over, really.

Colt: And the “juke-joint” style music, man. All that late 50’s, early 60’s rhythm and blues, that “American music” that really created the early rock n’ roll that was just such a fantastic time in music!

Speaking of that 50’s and 60’s style, you filmed your music video for “Nancy Lee” in that style and all on an iPhone winning you the iPhone Film Fest. Any plans to get more creative on future videos?

Colt: We just shot one now… not five days ago, actually!

Taylor: Not iPhone but it’s gonna be pretty cool. It’s for a song called “Not Alright By Me”. I don’t want to give it away so that’s all I’m gonna say ’bout that [laughs]!

Colt: The whole thing too with the videos is that it’s usually so expensive with recordings and equipment and that. We’re trying to keep everything low-key and find creative people that will do it on a dime just for the sake of doing that way. Usually there are great ideas and it comes out more beautiful that way because it’s not over-done. I mean, the iPhone video cost, what…

Taylor: Two dollars [all laugh]

Colt: Ha, not… well, it was so easy, and so much cheaper than other videos out there!

Taylor: And what that does is it inspires people to make more videos. Videos all seem so big that they see all the time that it makes people think they can’t do it . The more that “indie-artists” stay indie and do things like this the more it allows people to see the videos and say, “I can do that”!

Any new releases, songs you’ve laid down recently even that you’re really excited about that we can all look forward to?

Colt: Right now it’s just about playing more music, hitting more venues and making and meeting more Troublemakers, really.

Taylor: That’s right. I mean, people can just come to the website, become a part of what we do, even if it’s not necessarily a part of something that’s happening right at that time, but instead just join in. There’s new stuff happening everyday and we love letting our fans get the news first and from us!

After a brief discussion about Colt’s home-town, having travelled through Sweden a while back, and talking tattoos and Lord of the Rings (better not to ask) I realized that as massive a presence as these guys have on stage, they may just be the most down-to-Earth group of musicians I had yet to meet. It’s no surprise that they inspire such a following and after catching their show, I’ve decided that being a “Troublemaker” is exactly what I need right now. Check these guys out at vintagetrouble.com and then realize that you’re likely to become a Troublemaker before you can say “Live-wired, straight-shootin’, dirty-mouth’d…” well… let’s just say it’s gonna happen fast after hearing the unique sound these guys rock out with!

Check out Chelsea Chernobyl’s photographs of Vintage Trouble at Sasquatch 2012.

Greylag Interview: The Guys That Make Summer Campfires Just That Much More Memorable

Having just come off of the Gomez and Kopecky Family Band tour this past fall, then finishing a tour with Augustana, Greylag is working hard promoting their debut EP, “The Only Way To Kill” which was released less than a month prior to their Sasquatch Music Festival Appearance.

The Portland-based band whose two founding members (the core of this indie/folk-rock group), Andrew Stonestreet and Daniel Dixon, first met back in 2007, didn’t realize the calibre of music they could create together until both moved to Portland and really gave their style a shot. With a vulnerability in the lyrics and a great, simple sound, Greylag’s emergence on the scene shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

** Greylag after having been informed that we know those water bottles aren’t filled with water, photographed by Chelsea Chernobyl

One of the first reviews I found on you guys had spoken of your music being, “… perfect for summer roadtrips and campfires.” Did you have that in mind when you were creating your debut EP?

Stonestreet: We like them too, so that kinda makes sense, I guess. Some of it was probably first written in that setting too.

Is that part of your process to just let these songs come into existence organically, sitting around with friends, or did you find being in the studio really helped?

Oh, man… there are so many different ways that it happens. I think hindsight is a pretty awesome facet of the creative process, there’s a lot of that. You create something then you change it based on listening back cause there’s all this reflection happening. And that’s a good part of it: just tweaking and making things different.

“The Only Way To Kill You” is now roughly three weeks old; are there tour plans specifically designed around the release?

We just got off the road actually, doing a six-week national tour with the band Augustana. We were back for about a week then we came up here, so we’re gonna take a little bit of time then hopefully get back on the road in a couple of months. Hopefully sooner than that, actually, but who knows. We just need to relax for a minute, you know? See friends and chill out for a bit.

There are already some big names that you’re being compared to, not just word of mouth but in the media as well: Fleet Foxes, Local Natives, and Bon Iver, whose on later and is headlining this Festival… what is it that distinguishes you and keeps you separate from established names like that?

I think we all come from such different backgrounds. There’s a lot of common ground amongst [bands like that] but there’s also, well, we’re all into very different things and headed in very different directions. I think we’re just trying to leave enough room in our group for everybody to voice what their doing, and that’s important. I don’t think we’re shooting for anything specific other than just something that moves us.

A couple of your videos on-line, including “Tiger” and “Winter White” are through collaboration with The Sights of Sounds at the Mississippi Studios in Portland.

Ya, Ben Fee’s [founder/director/cinematographer/producer at The Sights of Sounds] a good friend of ours. Man, I can’t remember if we shot at Mississippi Studios or not. Actually, I don’t think we did. I think we shot at a venue that’s sadly closed down now called The Woods. We shot some there and we shot some in our attic which Daniel actually lives in.

Dixon: Right in my room…

Stonestreet: We had kind of just done random stuff with Ben up till then. Ben just sort of shows up with a camera and some microphones and just says, “Let’s just make this!” [laughs] It’s a pretty easy process.

They looked pretty stripped down and more about just letting you guys play your music and forget the camera’s are there.

Ben’s got a really good eye so we’ll just play the song a couple of times and then he’ll send us some clip about a month later. It’s worked out really awesome for us.

Being relative new-comers to the festival circuit have you had a chance to catch any acts? Anyone inspire you so far?

Stonetreet and Dixon together: Kurt Vile.

Stonestreet: As long as I’d seen Kurt Vile yesterday I was pretty happy. But we saw St. Vincent play yesterday, we caught Jack White last night, that was, well, that was fuckin’ awesome. We’re excited to see Bon Iver tonight. I mean, we’re lucky enough to get to stick around for the rest of the festival and we’ll for sure take advantage of that.

With catchy hooks and stomping rhythm, the folksy, bluesy, yet ultimately quintessential American indie-rock album “The Only Way To Kill You” is out now and I for one will be letting everyone I know hear about the group that is sure become more than just a west-coast addiction. Greylag is going to take flight soon and you won’t want to miss a minute of the success that’s sure to come their way!

Claude Violante Interview

Claude Violante is one half of the musical duo Haussmann. This talented writer and producer is more than capable of standing on her own though as can be evidenced by the release of her first EP, For You, which hit international markets on April 23rd.

Violante was kind enough to take a break from her schedule and answer a few questions for me about her music and recording process.

Do you find it challenging writing songs in English? Is your process different than when you are trying to write in French? Is it harder to express yourself?

It is very challenging for me to write in English! I never tried to write in French so I couldn’t really tell you anything about the process, but I believe it is easier in English. Writing in French would feel like being naked, but the words in English don’t come as naturally as in French. The challenge would and will definitely be singing in French, but I plan on doing it sometime.

You have just released your solo EP but have already established yourself on the musical scene as part of Haussmann. How would you say the experience of solo is different than working as a team? Any particular troubles or benefits you had not expected?

Writing alone is both easier and harder. I can only rely on myself, that’s great and that’s also very frightening. The best part of it is that it can go a lot faster but in my case it’s not even accurate since I torture myself about stupid details that I should, or not, change or delete. But it is also a way of proving something to yourself, a challenge that may or may not be successful… That’s exciting.


Your song, “For You,” is about a relationship gone bad. It juxtaposes nicely against the catchy and danceable beat and supporting music. How much of your music is autobiographical and how much is just fiction?

That’s funny, to me the song is about a difficult love situation, but I believe it will end well because the girl is very optimistic and believes truly in the relationship. What is the most important to me is the intention. In this song the lyrics are the way I say it, but the intention is the true part, the autobiographic part. It depends on the songs, sometimes the lyrics are the message and sometimes the tone or the melody is the message.

Who do you currently find yourself influenced by?

Hard to tell, I don’t like being directly influenced, but all the music I listen to are definitely a part of what I do. Not precisely, not voluntarily. I listen to many various kinds of music, from classical to reggae, it’s even hard to pick ten bands that really influenced me.

Related, what is the last album that you found you couldn’t stop listening to?

I recently discovered Planningtorock’s last album, and I thought it was great. I am also completely crazy about The Dream’s “Love King” in a totally different way. I am also very found of Joanna Newsom, all of her albums are amazing, these are the three things I listen to the most right now.

What are the biggest differences that you see between the music that is coming out of the clubs in France versus the music that is coming from the club scenes in the States right now?

I don’t know very much about the club scenes in either of these countries, but from what I hear in the hip hop scene for instance, the US are far more exciting! For the electronic scene, I couldn’t really tell you anything interesting except that what I like in general comes from the UK or the US, that’s where most of the good music comes from.

Having recorded and released your EP, is there anything that in hindsight that you wish you could have done differently? Any lessons learned to carry forward?

Yes, plenty of things I would have done differently, but I like to think of my EP as not being perfect, simply being my first. That’s already a great thing for me, to have my EP out there! I learned a lot by working with Alf (the guy who mixed the EP), and I am happy that I am just at the beginning of things so I can keep on learning and getting better at what I do. Hopefully!

If there is one thing in your life that you could change right now, what would it be?

I only wish I had my driver’s license, that would be great!

Where do you see yourself going from here? What’s your next step now that the EP is out?

I am planning on doing my best to put out an album one of these days, that is as far as I can go!