Your intergalactic sonic wave forms are often documented by one Steve Albini. Is Steve Albini human?
Well, what a lot of people don't know is that Steve Albini is actually the inspiration for The Six Million Dollar Man. Last-minute studio changes resulted in the character having "bionic" implants as opposed to the "microphonic" implants Albini employs. Execs felt the world of studio recording was perhaps not as exciting as that of crime-fighting and espionage, so Albini's character was shelved. They then changed Steve's last name to Austin, and Albini became the Pete Best of electrical implants.
How have the years of hibernation affected your ability to manipulate your instruments?
It didn't affect us as much as it affected our instruments. Those things were dusty.
Where did you learn to sing like you're yodeling in a mine shaft?
My grandfather was a great coal miner in Betsy Layne, Kentucky. On his one day off, he liked to go there to assert his dominance over the miners, and sometimes he'd bring me.
Do you have any yodeling stories?
No, not really. I guess there was one occasion where my grandfather yodeled loud enough to startle a group of wolves away from some friends' sheep, but really it wasn't that exciting.
Laura Stevenson plays the Sunset Tavern tomorrow night with Field Mouse and Seapony! Tickets are still available here.
Elsewhere on Wheel, Stevenson continues the evolution from acoustic folk songs to more explosive anthems with injections of horns and piano—new layers reveal themselves with every listen. I chatted with Stevenson while her band made the long trip from Houston to El Paso.
You used to be billed as Laura Stevenson and the Cans. I was going to ask you where the Cans went, but then I read your interview with Larry Livermore, where you pointed out one of the reasons you dropped it was because people kept making boob jokes.
That was the thing that annoyed me from the get-go, but I was like, "I'm going to try to overcome this."
Did you see Grimes's recent blog post about the things that she's no longer going to put up with as a female musician? She doesn't want to be infantilized; she's tired of reviews calling her a waif or a fairy... all these cute words. I feel like it's something that isn't talked about much in the music industry. Does it ever still feel like it's a boys' club out there?
Definitely. Especially the infantilizing thing. It's so ridiculous, because no matter what I do, my voice is called "cute." Even if I'm saying something hideous and sounding as ugly as I can, I'm still called cute. I had a party at my apartment, and this young couple said to me, "We listened to your music! It's really cute." They were guests in my home, so I couldn't be like, "Get the fuck out," they were my roommate's friends, but how shitty! Your life's work is fucking cute? Would you say that to Beethoven? Like, "Real cute sonata, Beethoven." It makes you feel small, and you shouldn't have to feel that way, especially if you're an adult human being who's making something honest.
Did you approach the curation of Debacle differently from previous years? It seems like there's more emphasis on dance music (albeit very strange dance music), judging by Sunday's bill, which reflects the influence of your MOTOR night.
I may have allowed myself to dream a little bigger and go harder for certain artists this year. Overall, the approach was the same as ever. These are artists that I enjoy and would love to see live. That's my only litmus test. I write down a huge list of people I would love to have, and I send out e-mails or ask friends to make connections, and I go from there. As always, what I set out to book and what the final lineup becomes are very divergent, but it's definitely more interesting than anything I could have come up with in a vacuum.
MOTOR is new to Debacle Fest this year. I wanted to go big with a whole night being a showcase of the local MOTOR crew, along with national-level artists that fit in to the vision of what MOTOR can be. I think that night is going to be phenomenal. Just Hieroglyphic Being alone is a huge thing, but I think it will be a historically good night—Moon Pool, Prostitutes, Strategy, GOODWIN, etc. You couldn't ask for a better lineup of mutant-dance heavies.
Voice your support for the Seattle Drum School by contacting the Department of Planning and Development at 684-8600. Seattle Drum School also recommends you e-mail Councilman Nick Licata at Nick.Licata@seattle.gov.
DEAR MAYOR MCGINN: Seattle Drum School should be flourishing, not on the verge of being shut down. Mr. Mayor, we cannot let places like Seattle Drum School perish. It's a great, positive place for kids, employing good people. We need music. We need music teachers. We need music taught. Our city and its government should be helping places like this, not threatening them.
Seattle Drum School founder Steve Smith spoke.
What's the latest on the retrofit/sprinkler issue?
A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with an assistant Seattle attorney who handles land-use issues. She was very kind and said she was going to contact her client at the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to see if there was a way to bring us into compliance without resorting to a lawsuit. So far, I haven't heard back.
I e-mailed a few questions to Bleached while they were on the road, older sis Jennifer responded.
Where did the name Bleached come from? When I first saw it, I thought, "Nirvana cover band?" But only for a second.
Ha-ha, no—I was trying to come up with a name that I thought sounded cool and reminded me of a punk-style name, because those are always the best. And bleaching something can last forever, like sisters.
At what point did you decide it was time to teach yourself how to play guitar?
When I was in high school, I used to go to shows every weekend. One time, I saw this girl band and I thought, "Wait, why am I not in a band?" My dad had guitars, so I went home and taught myself how to play so I could start a band. I think I was 16 or 17.
Bleached play Chop Suey tonight with Ex-Cops and Week of Wonders.
If you’re gearing up for tonight’s Sparks show at Neptune Theatre (or if you're just a fan), you may want to read this interview with vocalist Russell Mael conducted by Elizabeth Mollo that’s in our sister paper Portland Mercury this week.
Here's an excerpt:
RUSSELL MAEL: Our recent touring history has consisted of more and more elaborate staging with each tour. The culmination was our last touring situation where we presented in London on 21 consecutive nights, all 21 of our albums, all 272 songs to that date. And now we wanted to find a way to do something equally audacious on stage but in a completely different way: hence stripping away all of the trappings surrounding the group, having no other musicians on stage other than Ron and me, and no computers or other backing. And in doing so we didn't want this to be mistaken for an “unplugged” or singer/songwriter performance but rather for it to contain all the power, size, aggression and urgency as if there were a full group with us.
Read the whole thing here.
Also, did you know that Sparks’ “Roger” inspired the New Zealand band Tall Dwarfs? This observation has been made by one of the world’s foremost record collectors and weird-music authorities, Eric Lumbleau (Mutant Sounds blog, member of the phenomenal Vas Deferens Organization group). After much listening, I believe the claim. Lumbleau also has said that Sparks' "Biology 2" (which was actually written by guitarist Earle Mankey) influenced Devo, which is another true insight. Live and learn.
Johnny Marr is a legendary rock guitar player and songwriter, known mostly for his integral role in the Smiths. He's managed to stay relevant throughout his entire career, playing in too many bands to count. In the late 2000s, Marr spent a great deal of time in the Pacific Northwest as a member of Modest Mouse. He'll return on Monday, April 15, to play Neumos, supporting his latest solo LP, The Messenger, which was released in February.
I wanted to congratulate you on your NME Godlike Genius award. How does a thing like that make you feel?
You know, you can't take that kind of stuff too seriously. The award made a lot of fans happy, though, so that was nice. A good thing about that one is that it's kind of tongue in cheek, it's not too serious.
You used to reside in Portland, and you still have a home there. Are you fond of the Pacific Northwest? Have you been able to explore the area very much?
Quite a bit, yeah. I took to it straightaway. Mostly the mentality of the people I found myself meeting—it was nice to discover that there are a lot of liberal and creative artistic people there. I spent a lot of time hanging out in bookstores, meeting other musicians, and writing a lot of songs with bands like Modest Mouse. After a while, I started to explore the things that people who live healthier lives do. I've explored the Columbia River quite a bit, but I find Portland very pretty and quite inspiring, so I didn't really need to get out of town too much. I went to Salem, just because that's where John Fahey spent most of his time.
Johnny Marr plays Neumos tonight with Alamar.
Questions about Tyler abound. Would Frank Ocean and Syd tha Kyd—both out now—still work with him if he was antigay? Would Mountain Dew, Adult Swim, and Sony Music be working with him if he were such a social liability? He has carved out a certain mystique. Does he say too much? Perhaps. Does he push buttons and have fun? Definitely. Is it for everyone? No. Does he like cats? Very much so. Is he young and growing? Yes and yes. As of last check, he had stopped using the word "rape" in his shows. But with Tyler's worldwideness and overcharged, hard content, what gets lost occasionally is that he's an artist. Some of his brushstrokes are crude. If it causes reaction, that's what he wants.
Alan Bishop—Sublime Frequencies co-founder and leader of the Cairo-based band the Invisible Hands—has a new podcast up on Seattle's Made Like a Tree blog. It includes an interview that I conducted with the former Sun City Girls bassist about Sublime Frequencies’ working methods and goals and the origin of his Uncle Jim alter ego. The mix includes highlights from SF's worldly and wildly diverse roster, Bishop’s solo recordings as Alvarius B., and a smattering of classics culled from Sun City Girls’ vast and twisted catalog. It serves as an illuminating introduction to Bishop and SF's aesthetics. You can listen to the podcast and read the interview here.
1. Alvarius B - Dirty Angels [Abduction]
2. Jo & The Magnificent - Sunshine [Silent]
3. Boutaiba Sghir - Malgre Tout [Sublime Frequencies]
4. Artie Barsamin and his Orchestra - Nene Aman [Ilissoss/Kathreftis]
5. Group Doueh - Zayna Jumma [Sublime Frequencies]
6. Omar Khorshid - Raksat El Kheyl [Sublime Frequencies]
7. Group Inerane - Kuni Majagani [Sublime Frequencies]
8. Neung Phak - Beng Touyib [Abduction]
9. Omar Souleyman - Shift Al Mani (I Saw Her) [Sublime Frequencies]
10. Sun City Girls - Ruby Soul Lao [Abduction]
11. Sun City Girls - Nights of Malta (Live 1992) [Nashazphone]
12. Sun City Girls - The Imam [Annihaya Records ]
13. Sun City Girls - Blue Mamba [Majora]
14. Sun City Girls - Sev Archer [Dub Ditch Picnic]
15. Sun City Girls - Cruel and Thin [Abduction]
16. Umni Nadra - Senjah Indah [Sublime Frequencies]
17. Uncle Jim's Superstars of Greenwich Meantime - Graduation Day [Black Velvet Fuckere Recordings]
Welcome to Purse Thursdayz! Every week, I'll be looking into the purses, bags, and satchels of some of Seattle's finest women—seeing exactly what they are carrying around all day. Catching purses in their natural environment is very important, so these ladies do not know they are going to be interviewed.
This week, I decided to stop by and see my homegirl, Linda Derschang. You may know her from her many endeavors including Linda's, Oddfellows, King's, Smith, Bait Shop (great design) and the forthcoming neighborhood restaurant, Tallulah's. I'm also pretty sure she owns the Shell gas station, Cal Anderson park, and Bruce Lee's soul. Whatever she is up to, she continues to kill the game. I had to know what she carries around all day.
What kind of purse?
It's Marni. Two months ago, I bought it at the outlet mall outside of Palm Springs. (whispering) I actually bought two.. it was a two for one.
Do you love it?
I do, I really do. I love that nobody would know it's a Marni, no need to scream name brand on the side. I'm more interested in having a bag that I love that also happens to be functional.
Is a bag an integral part of your style?
Absolutely. It can make or break your look. In the evenings, I switch to something much smaller but still carry the bare essentials. I really like purses!
What's your night purse like?
What is most important to me is that it has a long strap. You don't want to be the lady with the big ol' bag on your shoulder hitting people at an event. One hand for my drink, one hand to shake, and I must have my purse low and out of the way.
Sounds like many a years of socializing. Can we see what's inside?
• Apple laptop
• White notepad
• Day planner/address book
• Comme des Garçons wallet
• Pilot G-2 pen
It’s always a capital idea to read an interview with Alvarius B. (aka Alan Bishop), one of the savvy decision-makers behind the Seattle-based Sublime Frequencies label and frontman for the newish Cairo, Egypt group the Invisible Hands. When Bishop gets to the podium, his cryptic wisdom, biting wit, caustic sociopolitical observations, and astute musical opinions pour forth in a torrent. It behooves you to pay close attention. Read the interview here.
The Invisible Hands’ self-titled album comes out March 19 on Bishop’s Abduction label.
(Yes, this is the same song that accompanied a recent Line Out post on the Invisible Hands, but you passed over it. Why did you do that? Well, here's your chance to redeem yourself. Don't blow it this time.)
Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic dominated music in the 1970s with more than 40 R&B hits (which included three number ones and three platinum albums). Live, the show became an otherworldly circus. There was the Aqua Boogie Bird, the Brides of Funkenstein, the Booty Snatchers, 20-foot shades, a pyramid, a spaceship, all consumed in gyration. Despite the spectacle, what never got buried was the musicianship. Clinton spoke.
Parliament-Funkadelic were so distinctive that you all needed your own language. There was the music, the show, and your own vocabulary. Where did that come from?
We'd be in the studio or on the road with each other, sort of shut off from the outside world—I guess it just came out of that. It wasn't like we tried to make up all these different words or ways of saying things, they just happened. On sleeve notes to the fans, one of the notes said: "Improve Your Funkmenship. The Nastified Secret Order of the United Maggots of Funkadelia is being magnetized for your convenience. Send all inquiries to Maggotropolis of Funkadelia, Los Angeles, CA. Warning: Obvious squares and turkeys attempting entry into the REALM will be reduced immediately to basic atoms of radioactive turds." Now, what that means exactly I can't say [laughs]. But you listen to the music and see the show, and you understand what it means.
George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic play Showbox at the Market Sat, March 23.
Led Zeppelin are rehearsing at guitarist Jimmy Page's mansion in Windsor. I'm excited to hear new songs, like "Poor Tom," off their forthcoming album Coda. John Bonham spoke. It took seven separate managers to connect the call. Bonham said he was outside, in a field, and that the sun was out. The reception was surprisingly clear.
What have you been up to, John?
I've been playing lots. Feeling good. I had a rough time there for a bit, but everything's under control now. This place where I'm staying is so far out here, it's hard to get drum parts. The roads to get here are nuts. I discovered fro-yo a couple months ago, and it's blowing my mind. The Reese's/graham cracker combination is tops.
Who are your favorite drummers? Could you talk about how you get your sound?
Max Roach, Gene Krupa, and Buddy Rich. I think you gotta spend time with your drums. Learn to tune them. I use a 14-by-6.5-inch Ludwig Chrome Supraphonic 402 snare. I keep the bottom heads tight. My kick drum is 26 by 14 inches, and I don't like a hole in the front head. The large amount of air needed to move through the shell has to travel very quickly to properly excite the resonant head.
Burnt Palms are a three-piece that play surf/pop/grunge/twee rock in a sleepy beach town in Monterey County, California. Their fuzzy guitars make them sound like a more surfy, more rockin' Marine Girls, but the vocal harmonies just make me remember how much I love the Breeders. This week I can't get enough of their 19 minute debut record, it's inherent beachy-ness is almost making up for the severe vitamin D deficiency I'm certain that I'm accruing living through another bright, grey Seattle winter... and their guitarist Christina was nice enough to answer a few questions I had about the band... Keep reading!
Festival season is upon us, and the next great one coming up is Seattle’s own Balkan Nights Northwest. Last year it was a one-day affair that overflowed the Russian Cultural Center, encouraging promoters to make it two nights this year: March 15th and 16th (three nights if you count a special Triple Door performance on the 17th).
Believe it or not, the swirling orchestral sounds and hypnotic vocals of the Balkan region are something we specialize in right here in Seattle with great bands like Bucharest Drinking Team, and Orkestar Zirkonium. Seattle is also home to ambassadors and Balkan folk music heroes like Dragi Spasovski and Alexander Eppler. This year there are over 30 traditional and comtemporary Balkan bands performing. Get your tickets here.
If you’re like me and wondering what to expect from a Balkan Music festival, check out my interview below with the charismatic and kind Dragi Spasovski himself.
After a few drinks last night, I noticed a poster for HAIRSTORM's upcoming tour (Seattle's premiere '80s hair rock tribute band) and I immediately wrote them to get the low-down on their hottest hair-care tips.
What is your style regimen before shows?
We always blow dry our hair while hanging upside down. That is the ONLY way to keep it up!
Leave in or wash out? How do you all get volume?
Never, ever, ee-eever wash!!! And we get all that bitchin' volume from layers of hairspray, just like coats of paint. Lots of thin layers.
What happens when a band member's hair starts to lose volume or shape in the middle of a set?
Hate when that happens, even more than getting cold sores! Well, you gotta make sure that the flat side of your head is facing the back wall, so you can get offstage without anyone noticing.
What is your opinion on mousse?
We totally prefer it BBQ'd.
Hard-hitting question: Aquanet, yes or no?
Hell Yes! We never really understood what the big deal is about the ozone anyway.
Thanks, HAIRSTORM!!!! You can catch them recreating Def Leppard/Twisted Sister/Whitesnake/Gun N' Roses vibes at the Feedback Lounge in West Seattle on May 4th.
"Some of them had this weird irony about the fact they were celebrating," says Drew Daniel, Schmidt's musical and life partner, who recorded some of the spontaneous festivities because, hey, this stuff could come in handy for a future album or something. "It would creep into the way they would chant. 'Bal-ti-more! Bal-ti-more! U!S!A! U!S!A!' It was like there were quotes around it." But he also sensed something "utopian and awesome" about those crowds.
Matmos have been putting quotes around experimental electronic music for the last 16 years. If anyone could take the chaos and exuberance of a sportsball hullabaloo and make them interesting, it's these witty eccentrics. Hell, they could probably put an ingenious spin on the tired trope of "jock jams" if they set their minds to it. They may be highbrow creative chameleons, but Matmos know how to inject fun and unpredictability into their music, as anyone who saw Daniel's butt get used as a percussion instrument at that long-ago Triple Door set can attest.
Matmos play Neumos tomorrow, Wednesday Feb 20, with Mouse on Mars and Horse Lords.
On February 9, local garage punks Unnatural Helpers will be sharing a bill with the tears-surfing lady group wonders La Luz and stripped-down, ghostly blues-makers Lonesome Shack. Just this lineup alone at this venue is A+, but the sparkling cherry on top is that Ruben Mendez and Lacey Swain's Gold Van Records—a mobile record shopping experience full of hand-picked vinyl—will be open for business outside the show.
You know and love the Helpers, but let's get acquainted with these other folks in a triple interview party with La Luz, Lonesome Shack, and Gold Van Records!
Who are Lonesome Shack?
Ben Todd (guitar, vocals, songwriting), Kristian Garrard (drums), Luke Bergman (bass), and occasionally Andrew Swanson (saxophone).
Tell me about Lonesome Shack!
Ben: Haunted boogie blues. The first Lonesome Shack tape came out in 2002. I made tapes for years when I lived in a lonesome shack in Alma, New Mexico, but the beginning of the band, as it is now, was when I started to play with Kristian in '08. Luke joined a couple years back, and that really filled the band out. Our new record, City Man, was recorded live to tape in one night at Cafe Racer and features Andrew Swanson on sax.