Thomas Hunter: "White China March"
Thomas Hunter: "A Vaguely Pregnant Piece of Nonsense"
Thomas Hunter: "Tinfoil Slip"
Walk me through the coming together of the song “White China March”.
Hunter: I wanted to write an experience song. It's about my lovely wife. And drugs of course. The first little thing sprouted out of the beginning of the Delfonics song, "Baby I Love You," and these Chopin guitar reductions I was working on. I wanted a pretty, classic, Stax-y, Isaac Hayes-ey feel in the verse with the strings and all. I took my time with the colors I was introducing. I wanted to take the build very slow. I know the form seems weird with all the starts and stops and feel changes, but it's what felt natural to me at the time. I wanted the second verse to be kind of like that Kinks tune "Sitting in My Hotel." Then I felt like a huge bridge with Zana from Thee Emergency doing The Dark Side of the Moon thing would be rad, especially if it went into a Zeppelin-y finger-picking thing.
Toward the end I say, "Disappear beyond the bricks and skin some silly God has built us in. When the clock-hand stops my blinded brain and heart begin to love you until the ground coughs up our bones. A pile of teeth will make a home for you and me alone." It's actually a line from my marriage vows. It's really reflective about how strongly I love my wife. She's my partner and my best friend. She's the only person I need in the world and it's us against everyone if it has to be. This is a very personal song to me. I'm really glad you chose this one to preview. It's the first track on the record. I used my beautiful Heritage Eagle for all the guitar tracks. I've spent more time with that instrument than any human being I've ever known, so It felt suiting for such a person tune. I used Phil Peterson’s old Frankenstein late '60's P-bass which has so much old character to it. This one has the amazing Bobby Parker on the trumpet, and some of Kyle O’Quin’s best key work I've ever heard. I close mic'd the fucked up little speaker on Tom Pfaeffle’s old blown out Wurly that’s at the Tank Studios and Kyle decided to absolutely destroy it. We did some super sci-fi theremin tracks at the end also. I’m excited to let people hear it.
Wild Orchid Children play Saturday, October 9th at The Tractor
FileJerks' Mash Hall Remix (feat. THEESatisfaction): "Get Your Ass to Mars"
What are your thoughts on the usage of the word "Bitch" in songs, or this song?
Astronomar: The word bitch, notice I didn't capitalize it, has its place in song, though often misused as a filler jargon. In this particular case, it is excitedly addressing the fact that you cannot stop the Dro-Bots, which I fully support. bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch.
Larry: Ice Cube said, "A bitch is a bitch." Ice-T said, "So ladies, we ain't just talkin' bout you, cause some of y'all niggas is bitches too!" In my opinion, a bitch is someone of weak character, who lacks conviction, who can't be trusted. If you hear the word bitch and identify with it, then you just might be one. Some people take it as just meaning 'women,' which makes me wince. When I hear it used like, "Hey, look at those bitches," I’m not really feeling it. Or the more predatory, "All on a bitch,” pimp-type shit, where a dude is bragging about preying on a woman's pockets and low-self esteem. That's a sickness, even if it can sometimes make for some compelling rap.
Where in Alaska are FileJerks from?
Astonomar: Shorthand and I are both from Alaska's capitol, Juneau. Born and raised. For the most part, the music scene in Juneau consists of blue grass and folk music, which explains why we like rave music.
FileJerks are at Moe Bar on Sundays for The Red Eye, and at HG Lodge for Say OK.
Hobosexual: "Concrete Corporate"
Are you bitter about the state of music business?
Basically, the man owns everything now. He's even figured out how to manipulate the driving force of rock n roll from the 60s and 70s, which is basically the axis of dangerous, sexy and unique, rip it off, and sell it as original. In my opinion, this really started to take effect with Nirvana. Before that band, people could still smell the man coming.
Nirvana were anarchistic, Kurt was the anti-Christ to corporate rock. After their stint on Sub Pop, Nirvana was on DGB, a subsidiary of Geffen. Around Christmas of 1991, my entire Jr. High School went insane and everyone started dressing different. By high school, different wasn’t so different. Everyone sort of looked the same. Parents were terrified. The most unique-looking kid in the whole school looked like he lived a life in the suburban 50s. He wore a button up shirt and normal, relaxed fit jeans. He also had a side part haircut. All the grungers who were so different, because they all dressed and acted the same, used to make fun of guys like that. How's that for irony? Fuck, half the football team looked and dressed like Krist Novoselic.
So we've got this superstar rebel, who's the antithesis of the established Mick Jagger, Axl Rose cool, and now that's cool. And that's when I think the light bulb went off for marketing agents in the music industry. They hijacked the indie scene shortly thereafter. The last line had been crossed, and they owned the dude crossing it.
I think they realized from that point out that they owned both sides of the equation, the mainstream and the sub-stream. At that point, all they had to do was create an idol and doublespeak it into oblivion. Be the rhetoric “different”, "dangerous", "independent", "underground", "champion for bi-sexuality,” whatever shocks the mainstream in that sub-stream way, but with that always safe overcoat primer sheen. This, coupled with the fact that most people will buy anything these days if it's catchy via way of repetition and yet still subtly Disney/Wal-Mart approved safe, is enough to drive any true artist insane.
The obtuse part of it is where Kurt came in. You used to be able to smell the mainstream shit from the Shinola a mile off. Somewhere along the line, the man, who invented and owned the mainstream, hijacked the underground.
Hobosexual plays tonight at Columbia City Theater with Baltic Cousins, and Hounds of the Wild Hunt (formerly the Whore Moans).
Ships: "Wishing You Well"
Describe how you got keyboard sounds for "Wishing You Well." I need gear talk, and I need it right now.
James: I was really inspired reading stories about the Beatles and Pink Floyd, hunched around the console, tweaking knobs and messing with panning, phase, and eq in real time. I knew I wanted to try to re-create some aspect of that when making the tracks for this album. I should stress that all of the thinking, arranging, producing, and tracking was done, at least by me, under the influence of only the finest northwestern purple kush.
One of the most cerebral aspects of the tracking process is getting the vocal and keyboard effects just right. For this LP, the clarity and fidelity of the guitars and rhythm section was key, so we used a pretty straightforward approach to the vocals: as big of a reverb tail as we could get without any dissonance and no auto-tune. This meant that we could be really out there with the approach to the keyboard effects.
The setup went like this: Chase Forslund at the keyboards, Justin Cronk (engineer / producer from Toybox Studio) at the console, and me at a table with all of the pedals that Justin and I had put together over the years. We tracked the keys live and I tweaked the knobs of the pedals live as they went into the console.
At the back of the table were all of the standard distortion pedals: the Fulltone Full-Drive, the three-stage Bad Cat, the Boss metal zone and the Ibanez tube screamer, and a ton of others whose names escape me. I like multiple levels of distortion on keys, it takes normal sounding tones and adds a buzzsaw quality that really marries them to the guitars and bass in the mix. Especially in choruses. BZZZZZZZZZZZZ.
The distortion pedals didn't get too much use on this one. What we really focused on was getting the right phase effects and delay. We had my Boss DD-20 delay unit with the tap function, which I used this all over the record on keys and guitar, and this amazing echo drive analog tube delay. That's right. Analog. Tube. Delay. It's this little red pedal with almost no discernable markings that Justin bought custom from some dude in SoCal. So we set the DD-20 to the tempo of the song and then added another delay on top of that with the Tube Delay. Then as the song was playing I'd bring the effect time up and down in real time. That's what makes all the dips in the tone of the keyboard, the WAAAAAUAAAWWWWAH sounds on the delay time. From a physical standpoint, it's the time that it takes for the analog delay to catch back up with itself that makes that horn-in-a-hollow-cavern mindfuck.
When did you know, "I need a gong. I am getting a gong. A real gong."
Faustine: My old guitar player had a cheesy gong lying around the practice space, and I decided to use it. I realized it gave me a little freedom to wonder around the stage a bit. Then I started checking out real gongs. Them things get pretty expensive. I woke up on Christmas morning and found a gong underneath my Christmas tree from Santa Claus. Or maybe it was under my pillow from the tooth fairy. One of those holidays.
Is it a pain the ass to lug around?
They are pretty heavy. Mine is rather small. 18 inch, thick, and heavier then any other cymbal. When you add it to the bag it definitely makes it heavier. I haven't taken it on any international tours as of yet, the thought of making my cymbal bag any heavier makes my shoulders ache.
Whalebones: "For the Sky" (Rough mix, to be released early Winter 2011)
Saturday, August 28th at Sunset Tavern is Faustine's 28th Birthday Bash with Whalebones, The Quiet Ones, Low Hums, and DJ Mike Stevens.
The I’m ur Pimp mix, a studied dedication to the niche of pimp music, is one of DV's tastier offerings. There’s Bill Withers, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, the Meters, Suga Free, Curtis Mayfield, Solomon Burke, One Way, Willie Hutch, and more:
Could you say something about the niche of pimp music? What made you want to put I’m ur Pimp together?
DV One: One thing about pimpin that you gotta know: THE GAME IS SOLD NOT TOLD! Another thing you gotta know, is pimps don’t cry. Pimps are misunderstood and often times mislabeled. Whoever invented A1 steak sauce is a pimp. This mix was made for people who may not understand why wearing alligator shoes and silk suits with a perm is important in life. Ya know? It’s hard out here for a pimp.
I followed up with Dave 1 about a couple things:
Has P-Thugg ever accidentally spat on you using his talk box? Because with that tube hanging out of his mouth all the time, it’s bound to get dangerous.
Dave 1: No, actually. No fluid has been exchanged. In fifteen years of friendship and playing, there have been no fluids exchanged.
If you were an amusement park ride, what would you be?
The Tunnel of Love. You get in the tunnel, the lights go off, and you see a bunch of eyeballs. It would be called “The Lights Off.” The ride is Chromed out, of course.
I’ll look for that soon at an amusement park near you. Any fluids exchanged there?
Coney Island, baby. Bring it. No, Chromeo Island is the name of the island. There could be some fluid exchanging there, yes.
What made you all want to keep it instrumental?
Abramson: We never discussed having a singer or not having a singer. The music Steve Schmitt and I started putting together when we first met didn't seem to call for a vocalist. However, we do collaborate with singers from time to time. Herb Diamante is a brilliant singer, wordsmith, and performer from the UK. We've done a few tracks with him now that might actually turn into an album. Diamante has released records on Abduction, the label who put out our last album. We've also collaborated with our friend Sara Johanne from the Portland bands Dead Cinema and Susurrus Station.
Diminished Men: "Pantomime Magpie"
What are your top ten instrumental albums?
In no particular order, here are ten of our favorites:
Quincy Jones: Soundtrack to In Cold Blood
Philippe Sarde: Soundtrack to Roman Polanski's The Tenant
Nino Rota: LSD Roma
The Ventures: The Ventures In Space
Bollywood Steel Guitar (Sublime Frequencies label)
The Baron Charles Mingus: Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
Soundtrack to Midnight Cowboy
Ennio Morricone: Crime & Dissonance
Angelo Badalamenti: Soundtrack to Twin Peaks
Oliver Nelson: Blues and Abstract Truth
Sometimes, I feel shut off, like nobody can truly identify with where I'm at spiritually. I feel like I exist in another realm or dimension where people can see me, but they can't feel me. It might be the greatest struggle I've ever faced. I'm not in fear of compromising my faith by staying true to it.
I put the same question to Blue Scholars’ Geologic.
So much of the rap / hip hop culture and the lyrical content is based on drugs, women, guns, money, and the dark side of the game. How can an MC live and thrive in the world of hip hop and rap and be a good guy? Is it tricky to be a good guy and write music that resonates within a fanbase that is so supportive of bad guys and thugs? :
Geo: Ah, the age-old rap and "realness" discussion. Rap came, and still comes, from communities where drugs, guns, etcetera, are still prevalent. Many of these gifted storytellers are merely telling their story, a lot of which, but not all, touch upon the "dark side of the game."
Now that we're a whole generation into hip-hop's existence, younger people are not only telling these same stories, which still very much exist in the hood, but they’re emulating the exaggeration of it they've seen on TV growing up. Some, (many?), are just emulating with no actual "hood" experience. Lots of people buy into it, whether it reflects their actual lives or creates a fantasy for them. It's all gone haywire.
But is it these rappers' fault? I believe they do bear some individual responsibility, but in the grand scheme of things, they are pawns. From slavery to Jim Crow to the CIA funneling crack and guns into working class neighborhoods of color, these rappers had no choice in what kind of environment would eventually raise them. Then, along comes a music industry that, fearful at first, learns to profit off of selling a fantasy version of these rough lifestyles to kids who are generally discontent with the way things are. More so, they've been conditioned to express that discontent through the culture, ie music, they consume, rather than, say, organizing politically.
Smoosh strolled through Vegas with Tilson watching a Queen lightshow. Then a man in a gold unitard did things with racquetball racquets:
Smoosh sisters Asy and Chloe are supernatural creatures of sound. They are emitters, a telepathic battery of keyboards and drums, imbibing horchata, and they have just self-released their third album, called Withershins. For the past two years, Smoosh have been living in Sweden, writing, honing, growing, and adding their 13-year-old sister, Maia, to the mix on bass. Now 18 and 16 years old, respectively, Asy and Chloe have amassed much experience from playing shows worldwide and touring with bands like Bloc Party, Tokyo Police Club, Eels, and the Dresden Dolls. Smoosh have been a band for 10 years, but in some ways, they’ve just begun. We spoke and played the video game Galaga. They destroyed me, then gave me chocolate ice cream:
Smoosh: "We Are Our Own Lies"
Was your songwriting different for this album? Has your songwriting changed over the years?
Asy: I do think my songwriting has changed in some ways. I think the songs on Withershins wouldn’t work to be written the way our older songs were written. We used to just go to our instruments and jam together, kind of writing the song as we played. We didn’t use computers, and everything happened live. Sometimes we’d even improvise songs in the studio [“Massive Cure” and “Organ Talk”]. Now, we like to blend things together, different sounds and instruments, and the computer works great for that. It kind of opened a new world to us.
The arrangements and compositions on Withershins seem a bit more complex. How do growth and experience and playing a ton of shows translate through to your songwriting?
I think it makes sense that the compositions on Withershins are a little more complex, because there was a big gap between this album and the last album [Free to Stay]. There were four years where we were working on songs and playing live. We were so ready to write an album when the time came around where we weren’t touring and had time to devote full concentration to writing. When we were on tour, we wrote down all our ideas. Whenever I got inspired by something or thought of something I wanted to try in a song, I would write it down. We wanted to expand our sound by trying a lot of new things on Withershins.
What do you do?
Glenn: I am in charge of all pyrotechnics and proximate pyrotechnics for the band Bon Jovi. Basically, I make sure anything onstage involving explosive or flame is safe.
So you like to blow shit up?
I’ve never actually blown shit up. Exploding feces would be messy, and it wouldn’t get me very far.
I don’t know. I think if you exploded feces on Jon Bon Jovi while he was singing that song “Have a Nice Day”, it would be amazing.
Is this really what you wanted to talk about?
What’s the best Bon Jovi song for pyro?
“Wanted Dead or Alive” has some flame effects, shooting flames, and smoke generation. I’m partial to hazers. Although that’s not so much pryo. It’s a water-based solution that puts out continuous and evenly diffused fields of haze. It makes the lights cut through and appear more effective. Nothing beats a good ol flash pot though.
Did you explode cockroaches with firecrackers when you were a kid?
You can joke, but I take my job very seriously.
Are you a pyromaniac?
I’m a specialist. And if this is all this is going to be about, I’m hanging up.
You're telling me not once, have you ever exploded a small animal or insect with a firecracker?
What’s your deal with cockroaches?
They’re not such a bad species, people shouldn’t hate on them so much.
I never said I hate cockroaches.
You just blow them up.
I’ve never blown up a cockroach. Are we done?
You’re Living on a Prayer.
I’m hanging up.
I’ll miss you.
Are you a medicine man?
What do you consider yourself?
I’m a squirrel trying to get a nut. To be honest with you, all this is surprising to me. For the first few years I thought, “Any minute now, I’m going to be done. Any minute, someone would walk in the room and say, that’s it, move over. We need to become more professional, more blah, blah, blah.” That it hasn’t happened is still a surprise to me. But really, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just doing it the best I can. If it turns out to be unique, then great. I’m going to continue to have inspirations, new and old. What were you wearing before you got here?
Brown Levi’s, a light blue shirt, and Uggs.
I can’t wear Uggs. You skinny bitches can wear shit like that.
The Uggs are more a house shoe. Do you screen your calls when you're on the air?
I have to.
Because you have all the people from Ugg calling trying to get you in their product.
And they try to get me to advertise for them. Me and Halle Berry. But she said she wouldn’t do it. And since she’s not doing it, I’m not doing it.
What were you listening to before you got here?
That’s not fair because I was doing homework, so I can DJ a party. It was Trentemøller. I don’t know what I think of it. What else? I have stacks of music all over. There’s Eyvind Kang, Port-Royal, Yo-Yo Ma doing the Bach Cello Concertos, Lusine, Murcof, the Roots, Philip Glass Low Symphony that he did with Bowie, and then Elvis Presley. He does this version of “Blue Moon” which is just other worldly sounding. Then this other stack has Snoop Dogg, Cee-Lo Green, Mogwai, and the Fugees. So many stacks. So much music.
How do you pull your sets together? How do you study the music? What makes you able to arrange this music in this way that’s so seamless and intuitive?
I think about it all the time. I’m pretty sensitive to music, to hearing music. I hear it everywhere, cause it’s happening everywhere. Sometimes it’s infuriating. If I’m having a meal somewhere, or watching a film. I just saw Away We Go and the music almost completely derailed the film for me even though it was incidental. I was like, “Why is this happening? You’re trying to tell me something, and I’m getting it, but it’s like you oversalted my food.” Music for me is emotional, I’m connected to it that way. So by the time I get to a set, particularly with radio, emotion effects it. Club work is different.
How do you deal with requests?
Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes they don’t fit. I’m on a track, and I think we’re going in that direction, then somebody wants to hear R Kelly. I think, “What? Well OK, I was serving you oysters and champagne, but you want fishsticks. Fuck. Now what am I gonna do?”
Did you play the R Kelly?
I don’t have it. I don’t have any R Kelly.
How do you gather your music?
I’m constantly gathering music. Last week Dave Segal wrote a piece about Omar Souleyman, and I thought, “I have that. I wonder how that would work?" Because I think that’s a great piece of music. I need to find a context for it. I’m not the kind of guy that’ll throw it out there because, “You ought to listen to this because we all know it’s great.” For me, it’s gotta fit. So the process of getting my sets there is like cooking. Getting all the ingredients together, especially when I’m doing Expansions. I try to get the station by 3:00 PM for a 9:00 PM show. Expansions has gotten so much harder to do because there’s so much more stuff. And what’s also cool is that the listening audience has gotten so much more sophisticated. Once the needle starts though, we’re flying, and it kind of has a life of its own. It doesn’t require listening to all of one track. Like I’ll be in some place and I’ll hear D’Angelo, and I’ll think, “I haven’t heard D’Angelo in a while, I’m going to play D’Angelo on Sunday.” And then everything grows from there. Again, requests just don’t work. It always pisses people off. People who want to make requests, always get pissed off, or disappointed, because sometimes they’re not connected to the whole. They don’t get it that there’s a whole thing I’m going for. I understand what they’re feeling too. They’re like, “I turned on the radio, and want to hear a certain song, what the fuck is wrong with you? How hard is it to just play me my song?” Then, when they’re finished hearing their song, they go back to doing whatever it is they were doing before. Unless you’ve got the ‘stump the DJ’ people.
Context seems key for you. Your sets have context. An integral facet.
Yeah. And there’s all sorts of contexts too. Sometimes it’s about picking one context. There’s this oil spill. That’s a context. You’re not ever playing in a neutral place. Whether it’s your own frame of reference or it’s the collective frame of reference, it’s not neutral. I think the more you pay attention to that, the better sets can be. I’ve heard plenty of DJ’s that have excellent mixing skills, and no context whatsoever. And nobody knows why it’s not working. The music’s OK, but somehow their ideas aren’t getting across. Some DJ’s don’t have ideas. It’s just music. But the best ones can pull those disparate elements together.
((On.The.Nighttime.Fly.Mix)) A playlist for Line Out by Riz Rollins:
1. Henry Mancini: "Lujon"
2. Erykah Badu ft. Kirsten Agresta: “Incense”
3. Juana Molina: “La Verdad”
4. Tyondai Braxton: “Uffe's Workshop”
5. Fang Island: “Davey Crockett (Live)”
6. Mountains: “Blown Glass Typewriter"
7. Helena Espvall & Masaki Batoh: “Overloaded Ark”
8. Ghost: "Kiseichukan Nite"
9. Funkadelic: “Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On - 07 - Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts Part 1”
10. The Heliocentrics: "Winter Song"
11. Do Make Say Think: “Mr. Gowrie” (off Charles Spearin's side project album, The Happiness Project)
12. Me'Shell NdegéOcello: “White Girl”
**. Broken Social Scene: "Hotel"
The Absolute Monarchs: "Killing the Old"
How did you all get the drum sounds on “Killing the Old”? They’re dominant and huge. Was there a particular mic’ing or technique? They make me want to plow a field. Or plow an ox. Did you use the ox mic’ing technique?
Shawn: The drum sound is all Mike (Stubblefield). He was very specific, saying, "Don't do anything with the drums. Maybe just a little reverb." He hits hard, consistently, and his drums are stripped down, his parts are stripped down and he holds his end down. I could see plowing a field to "Killing the Old”. It has the momentum, a couple of mics hanging off the horns of the noble beast. But it is a short song, so I hope you're plowing a herb garden.
Where did you record it? Who produced?
We recorded this gem at Monkey Trench Studio in lovely Bremerton, WA. It's a sick place, a two story residential house with sleeping barracks in the basement, not too close or too far from Seattle. We decorated it with beer cans and Taco Bell wrappers. Greg Bennett recorded it, Mike Herrera mixed it, Mike Moen engineered it and the part I always bring up even though no one asks, Stephen Egerton from the Descendents mastered it. Am I bragging? Fuck yes, that was a huge deal for us.
How did the recording go? Any areas of ease or struggle?
The recording was a pretty straight up affair, play the song all the way through till you nail it style. Very few overdubs, which surprised me because Miki has only been playing guitar for a little over a year and for me, it's like someone rearranges my frets the moment I walk into a studio.
What do you think of oxen?
Funny you should ask, I just finished Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, and I'm paraphrasing, probably incorrectly, that oxen are one of the few beasts of burden that allowed Western culture to flourish and dominate. So for me, basically, fuck oxen.
Have you ever been electrocuted?
I grew up in South Dakota. Our fun game there was to grab hold of an electric fence and grab the person next to you to unwittingly shock them. For some reason, they seem to get it worse. It feels like your heart is exploding in pulses but you gotta take one to give one.
What do you think about that Jesus statue that just got struck by lightning?
Zeus 1, Jesus 0
When and how did the Absolute Monarchs form?
I started writing a few of these songs towards the end of Das Llamas. And when people didn't start knocking down my door to start a new band, like I somehow thought they would, I started playing with my girlfriend’s sister Miki. I met Mike through my old roommate during a D&D style roll playing game we played on Saturday nights called Hero Quest. Mike had just gotten back into playing drums, so we three set out to find a singer. Enter Joel, with the guilded throated, chiseled features, and penetrating eyes. I think Mike met him at the Comet or something.
The Absolute Monarchs play TONIGHT for Kelly O's photo show “Drunks N Punks” at the West Seattle Easy Street Records. 8PM
How do you get your pictures at shows?
Soverns: I like to pretend I’m invisible at shows that I shoot because to me, invisibility is a goal of any great photographer. You need to dress in all black like the ninja. After getting the shots I need, I throw down a smoke capsule and vanish into the night. Actually, I wear a stupid blue knitted hat and I'm usually in the crowd trying not to get knocked over.
What do you want viewers to get out of your pics?
My goal with live music photography is to make it look like it was the best show ever. I try to capture the energy of the performers and the audience. It requires some timing and being in the right place at the right time. I want the viewer to think, “Hey, that looks like a really fun show. Why didn't I go?"
What’s your process? Bequeath unto me.
Beer in one hand, camera in the other.
What is the photographer’s version of a guitar solo? Cause you play guitar too, right?
I've played in some punk bands, not a lot of solos happen. Being a musician is a lot different than being a music photographer. A guitar solo is kind of your moment to shine and showcase your style and ability in front of a crowd. It's a performance, whereas a photographer is behind the lens trying to stay out of everyone's way. The photographer is not the guitar solo, their photos prove that it happened.
How does your playing music affect your taking pictures of music?
I guess it helps with the timing and also because I have experience as a musician, I know how to stay out of the performer’s way and not unplug their shit on accident.
What settings do you use?
I learned on film cameras and shoot in manual mode. I don't know what the little flower setting is supposed to do. I rarely photograph a flower. My camera wasn't that great in low light so I use a flash most of the time. Sometimes I drag the shutter to capture the stage lighting and ambient light and the flash freezes the action. Generally speaking, I shoot at 800 iso, which requires less light from the flash, at an aperture of eight or so. The shutter speed depends on the amount of stage lights at the venue. I make manual adjustments to the flash and shutter speed from there.
How often do you photograph people with their clothes off? How often do people take their clothes off and ask you to take their picture? Do you use the flower setting for those shots?
No, that’s the deflower setting.
Friday, June 18th at Upper Playground, Rabid Child Images is putting on an exhibition called ‘In the Grime Light’ featuring Soverns’ pictures of Seattle hip hop. There will be a street BBQ and DJ Sets by DJ Swervewon, DJ 100 Proof, and DJ Radjaw. 4730 University Way Northeast.
How do you approach playing the drums?
Marshall: I try to hit the drums as hard as possible, and hope that people like how hard I hit. Maybe I can be like the next John Bonham of our time, but probably not. I try not to get nervous and just hope it sounds like something that Picasso would draw, things that weave in and out of each other.
What's it like being fifteen and being in a touring band?
It has its ups and downs. Being fifteen and touring is rare. It’s fun because I get see a lot of places in the world. I hate sitting in the van at 21+ venues. I love the free food and free money we get.
What are the rules when y'all play at the 21+ venues? Do they keep you in a clean underage section until it's time to play and then unleash you upon the drums to kick huge, sick, fat beats?
It depends where we are in the US. Like, in the South, I am usually allowed to hang out amongst all the drunks. But around here I have to sit in the van or sit in the green room until it’s time to play the show.
What’s your favorite MSHVB song to play?
“En Fuego”. It’s upbeat, and I get to hit the drums as hard as I can. It changes tempo and meter often, and the drum part is unique. I like how the drums lock in with the bass part. It took me a while to get it right on the recording.
How did you end up playing in MSHVB?
Well, let’s see, my brother Ben, (singer / guitar player) said, “When you get good enough, we can play a few shows.” I got good enough, so we played some shows.
How has your drumming changed since you joined the band?
My drumming has improved. My wrists have adjusted and they are more used to playing complicated things. I am better at multi-tasking and splitting up the parts - bass drums, hi-hats, and snare all going at a different pace.
What is your favorite subject in school?
I like history. It gives me a taste of my roots. I like the stories and the battles. The Crusades are interesting.
What do you think of math? What are you studying in math right now? How do you think learning math applies to real life?
Math is the worst subject ever made in the history of mankind. I have no patience with that kind of stuff, but we all have to get it done someday. You have to know math to buy stuff, basically. Right now I’m working on geometry and fractions. I’m a little behind in math.
MSHVB play June 5th at Oregon St. University, and June 6th in Spokane at Pacific Ave.
Mal de Mer: "Dolled Up"
Why "Dolled Up"? Who's dolled up?
Michael: That tune has been kicking around for awhile. It's stilled labeled "I Drive A Dodge Stratus" in my iTunes for some reason. We went up to London Bridge and did a few songs with my pal Geoff Ott just to see what we sounded like and "Dolled Up" was one of the keepers. It used to be a folkier number but it somehow ended it up as one of the punchiest.
How did Mal de Mer form?
I worked at the Crocodile for a long time and Jimmy did security there. We were fast friends. His band (the Divorce) would play there a lot, and Eric's band Slender Means would too so later on when I had some songs they were just the obvious guys. And Josh Kramer introduced Kim and I at an Amazombies show at the Funhouse several years back.
Give me one memory from working the old Crocodile days.
The time when the band Train did a five-night stand there. That was a difficult time in my life
What’s it like for you singing now? You were just a guitar player before.
It’s definitely something I’ve had to get used to. Getting comfortable singing. It feels like I'm refereeing the battle in my head between Elliot Smith and Michael Jackson.
Do you ever solo?
All the time. I was kind of running on a "no guitar solo" policy until I jokingly did one at a rehearsal and the mates insisted it stay.
What do you think about guitar solos?
I have contempt for guitar solos.
Do you ever think about candy when you play / solo? What candy?
It's more like I drift away into my own personal Candy Land. But it's smaller than normal, really more of a Candy Town or Candy 'Hood. I like to think I'm the Sheriff.
Who are your favorite bands right now?
I saw a local duo called My Goodness at Neumos and they were fantastic. Moondoggies are great. We are playing a show with Erik Blood (Moondoggies producer) band at the Sunset for this year's Noise For The Needy festival in June and his live show is always kind of a spectacle. Black Whales are pretty neat too.
What is your favorite candy?
I'm partial to Krackle. The bite-sized ones remind me of being a kid at my grandparents' house. They would feed me chocolate when I was talking too much. Krackle doesn't get its fair share in the shadow of Nestle.
Scratchmaster Joe: "Hiroshi & K.U.D.O. The Re-Return of the Original Artform"
Break down your technique. What do you do? How do you do it?
Scratchmaster Joe: My technique can be boiled down to a word: context. I DJ in clubs, battles, raves, weddings, and other places and environments, so context is paramount. Turntablism is how I approach the physical record, through scratching I create melody, rhythm, and percussion. My taste is diverse, and I collect virtually every genre of music. I have well over 5,000 records. Digging for records allows me to feel my way through sounds new and old. It makes it a process of intuition rather than intellect.
How long have you been scratching? What made you get into it?
Since the 90s. I worked at a nightclub called “The Eastside Annex”. There, I heard DJ Paris D scratch to “Whoomp There It Is”. After that, I asked him to teach me to DJ and he obliged. I lost track of him about 10 years ago.
Who are your scratching idols? Why?
Invisibl Skratch Piklz, Waystyles, Rise, DJ Tre, DV One, Plus One, Shiftee, A Track, Craze, I-Dee, and Teeko. Basically, they’ve been really cool to me, and they’ve all helped me work on my technique at one point or another. Oh yeah, and they’ve won a fuckload of battles.
What are some DJ no-no's? Like some unwritten rules of DJ'ing?
1. Never say “I killed it”. Your opinion of your own performance is irrelevant. 2. Study your audience and be willing to make adjustments on the fly. 3. Never play for exposure. It’s a job and you deserve to be paid.
Talk about the competition you're going to. What are the rules? Who judges it? Who all is competing?
I’m going to the West Coast Finals of the DMC in Long Beach, California, if I win the next stop is the US Champs, and if I win there, the World Champs in London. Rules: First round is two minutes. The top six move on to round two and perform a six minute set. Anything goes, basically. Judges typically are former champions, at the DMC, the judging is very good. The best thirty or so DJs on the West Coast will be there competing. They don’t release the names of competitors ahead of schedule. This is the last stop before the U.S. Championships, so the best turntablists in the United States will participate. By the way, I don’t include myself when I say “America’s Best”…that’d be like saying “I killed it”. I got seventh last year, so, obviously, I got my ass kicked by six dudes, so I’m kind of far from the best.
Is the judging fair?
The judging is fairly subjective. Scratching has only been around for thirty years, so scratch theory is just starting to become curriculum at the university level. But yes, the judging is fair at the DMC, and I rarely disagree with their decisions, even when I’m on the losing end of that decision.
Tell me a DJ competition story.
One time at band camp I put a flute in my anus, no, just kidding. One time at rave I was DJing and I had a friend light me on fire while DJing in front of 2,000 ravers. We thought it would be cool but it just ended up burning my hair off and making the rave smell like shit!
How do you prepare for competition?
I compile records in my DMC crate year round. I begin working with records that feel right for battling. I start by jamming long hours with a couple records, then I video record myself, watch and edit, watch and edit and watch and edit. Eventually, I start to time sections into tight one and a half to two minute routines. Then, I stitch short routines together to make longer routines. I practice in short spurts, thirty minutes here, thirty minutes there, and over the course of a day, I rack up some hours on the decks. I always record a clean version of the current rendition of a routine before bedtime, that way I don’t forget what I’ve done prior. At some point, I have my two minute set and my six minute set, and then I practice them sequentially over and over. Usually, I schedule a live performance before the battle to help me work my nerves up and figure out where I’m likely to fuck up during the competition, and make adjustments.
I avoid doing things that hurt or exhaust my hands, like lifting weights and surfing the net and riding my bike. I do a lot of cardiovascular exercise to keep my energy level up. And I neglect all other areas of my life so that I can focus intently on winning DMC World Championships.
Scratchmaster Joe is at Grey Gallery Sunday nights hosting DJ’s, bands, and activities in the International Lounge. Free. No Cover.
How far from Seattle are you? How’s the tour so far?
Byrum: I think we have about twenty-four hours of driving ahead of us. Loving the snow, let me tell you. We’re a week and half into the tour and something has happened to each band. The singer of Lewd Acts went ape shit, threw a fit, and kicked over their merch table. The band left him in New York and basically broke up. So they’re off the tour. Converge blew out their transmission and missed shows in Denver and Lawrence, Kansas. They had to get their shit fixed in Cleveland. Now they’re driving straight to Seattle. Coalesce ate too much White Castle and fucked up their van with their Castle ass. And our roadie had a seizure in our van while we were driving through rural Pennsylvania. He was unconscious for a while. It scared the shit out of us. We thought he was going to die. When he came to, he couldn’t really talk, and he didn’t remember anything. He’s my roommate, a good friend of mine, I’ve known him for a while. Somehow he neglected to tell me that he occasionally has seizures. He’s in the hospital now and doing OK. I think he’s on a plane to Seattle today.
How did the seizure happen?
He was just shaking and started hitting someone’s leg with his hand. Then he was out cold.
Describe Black Breath’s sound.
Satanic rock n roll. Devil music. We’re not really Satanic though. I’d say it’s just fucking evil rock and roll. There are enough sub genres out there for everyone. We don’t really define our sound by anything. There are ties to metal and hardcore of course. Heavy metal rock n roll.
What’s your song “Black Sin (Spit on the Cross)” about?
It’s about a black mass ceremony. And the social implications of Church and State. And sacrificing babies and drinking their blood. You know, all that good stuff. Our singer Neil does a lot of weird shit on his own time. I think he started with crickets, sacrificing those and drinking their blood, and I think he’ll be working up to babies in the near future.
Or at least baby crickets.
Exactly. You can’t just jump right into human babies. You gotta work up to that.
Where does Black Breath see themselves in the metal scene?
I don’t think we really fit in with the metal scene so much, currently in the U.S. I don’t know where we fit. I feel more at home in the punk scene in the NW. In Seattle, punk kids go to metal shows and vice versa, it’s more united than other places I’ve seen.
What do you think about the metal in Seattle?
It’s cool. We’ve got great bands and friends like Anhedonist, In Memoriam, Lesbian, Book of Black Earth, Samothrace, Heiress, Scourge Schematic, Asymmetric Warfare, Emeralds…
And PWRFL Power.
Definitely. That’s all we’ve been listening to in the van.
Have you had any rest stop adventures?
On a previous tour our van got attacked by 2000 bees at Hell’s Creek Rest Stop in Montana. We had gone into the bathroom to brush our teeth and when we came out, the front of our van was encased in bees. One of us got into the van, started the engine, and did loops around the parking lot to get them off, but it didn’t really work. So we all got in, got back on the highway, and they eventually went away. Nobody got stung, I couldn’t believe it.
At least you all were able to brush your teeth.
Yeah. And in Salem, when we were mixing our album at Godcity Studio, there was a school of bats hovering over the studio, which I thought was morbid and cool. Hopefully, we had something to do with it.
Black Breath is into the morbid side. What’s alluring to you about dark energy?
We’re into all kinds of morbid shit, but we like to have fun with it too. Not enough people explore the dark side. We try to. Ever since I was a kid, I was into evil and darkness. It doesn’t make me feel creepy, it makes me feel good and intrigued and I’m not the only one in the band that feels that way. Metal has gotten so safe and so fucking arty. When it started, it was about stuff to scare your parents with and being evil, and being the hardest darkest shit out there. We didn’t start this, we’re just trying to continue the legacy, I guess.
Any specific morbid shit you’re into?
Graveyards. And bleeding on graves. Neil cut himself on the Civil War grave of a baby in Connecticut. We were looking for ghosts and we found one. We got it on tape. You can plainly hear a scream on tape, and it wasn’t by any of us. It creeped out the Swedish band we were on tour with.
How did you know it was a baby's grave?
It didn’t have a name. It just said ‘BABY’. And there was a picture of lamb. It needed a taste of blood, and Neil offered it some.
Black Breath play Neumos tonight.
The Young Evils: "Just Built Beaming Light"
Where did you record "Just Built Beaming Light"?
Troy: Laundry Room Studios with producer / bass player Barrett Jones. Mackenzie and I wrote the album based on our affinity for short, two minute ditties. Two minute memorable songs, like the Violent Femmes, meets the Vaselines, meets Magnetic Fields. “Just Built Beaming Light” was the first song I wrote for it. It was during that big snowstorm a couple of years ago. I was trapped in my house for five days. I wanted to try and write a positive, short, catchy folk pop song. I also love word play and wanted to try and fit as many words into a two minute song as possible. I wrote five songs or so in that snowstorm and over the last year and a half, we recorded the album. It's going to be called The Enchanted Chapel LP.
What’s the song about?
It’s about not taking yourself too seriously. And not questioning things. It’s a semi love song. It’s just kick drum, tambourine, guitars, and vocals.
Cause you definitely take yourself seriously.
And Mark Pickerel sucks.
It’s funny, because we were like, “Who’s going to be our drummer, what are we going to do about a drummer?” Mark heard some of the songs and liked them, and offered to play with us. So we went from wondering what we were going to do about drums, to having like the best fucking drummer in Seattle.
You’re a music scholar. A DJ, and a record store junkie. Is it easy to break away from music scholar / DJ mode and get into a creative space with it?
I don’t really think about it. I take little bits from all the songs I love. I don’t really have favorite bands as much as I have favorite albums.
What are your three favorite albums of all time?
I’d have to say Television’s Marquee Moon, T. Rex’s Electric Warrior, and
Culture Club Colour by Numbers?
No. No Culture Club.
No. I did like her hair though. She had that wrestler Captain Lou Albano in her video. Totally hot. That guy had rubber bands on his face. I’m gonna bring that back.
You're originally from South Dakota. Does the Young Evil sound hearken back to your roots?
Maybe. But there was nothing in South Dakota musically for me. I didn’t really hear a lot of good music until I moved away. I didn’t find the Beatles until I was twenty-two. In South Dakota, I would ask someone if they had any musical suggestions and they’d tell me to listen to Korn.
I’ve heard South Dakota has a raging discotheque scene.
A discotheque in South Dakota is three seventeen year olds in their basement with a strobe light.
The meth is actually in Montana.
What do they do in South Dakota?
Drink and drive on gravel roads. And siphon gasoline. Other kids were siphoning gas and I was in my room watching Headbanger’s Ball, trying to figure out Metallica riffs. The only other kid in town who played music was my friend Shane Stoneback. I had my hair died red, he had his hair died blue. I came to Seattle finally, and he moved to New York and produced the Vampire Weekend records.
Did y’all have a band?
Yes we did. We were called 4th in Line. We put out an album when we were juniors in high school called The Mystery Fruit. Some of the farm kids got mad at us because we had a song called “I Hope Your Crops Die”. The album was called The Mystery Fruit because he had taken a close up picture of my balls. We would show it to people and get them to guess what fruit it was. They would guess and guess, but it would just end up being my balls.
The Young Evils play Thursday, May 13th at the Crocodile with the Redwood Plan and Mal De Mar.