FLAB MAG: Podcast with Visual Artist and The VSS’ front man Sonny Kay

image

image

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

This week’s guest is multi-media artist/singer/entrepreneur/art director/fellow college alumni Sonny Kay, who is perhaps best known for starting the fabled indie label, Gold Standard Laboratories, and being the creator some some pretty legendary The Mars Volta album artwork.

We discuss that (though not to the extent warranted) and his career as a lover of punk rock, and whole bunch of rambling on about life in Boulder, Colorado circa the 90s. Seriously, if you’re wistful about your days at ole CU, then this will be a pleasant podcast for you to listen to, if not, too bad. It was pleasant for me to stroll down memory lane with someone who was there at the same time I was.

Music featured in this podcast includes “Pre-Super Model” by Angel Hair and “Swift Kicks” by The VSS off Nervous Circuits

Sonny Kay on the Interwebs:

Official | Purchase Prints | More Prints | The VSS

Sargent House Poised to Become the Arbiters of Instrumental Music

image

Sargent House Poised to Become the Arbiters of Instrumental Music.

image

The Echo Park, CA based independent record label & management company, Sargent House has added another instrumental band to their growing roster of (mostly) instrumental bands.  This time it’s the celebrated Irish band And So I Watch You From Afar.

According to the press release Sargent House partnered with Dublin label Richter Collective to announce the forthcoming North American release of the group’s sophomore album, Gangs. A pair of MP3s from the album are available today: opener, “BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION” is available for download HERE and the brilliantly titled “Search:Party:Animal” can be downloaded HERE.

Let’s admit that we aren’t aficionados of the Irish music scene, like, at all, and our only references are U2, The Cranberries and The Corrs. Oh yeah, and how can we forget Enya or, god forbid, Sinèad O’Connor – all of whom have wrung the fuck out of life’s pathos with their baleful tomes to love and war – Irish style, of course. I can’t imagine Sargent House would have signed anyone of those acts (well, maybe Sinèad circa The Lion and The Cobra, but forget about it after that.), especially in light of the current roster which features Fang Island, Red Sparowes, Adebisi Shank, Russian Circles, Zechs Marquise (on imprint Rodriguez Lopez Productions), Tera Melos, Hella, etc. — all bands with epic instrumentation and minimal, if any, (mercifully) lyrical content. Each band has its own unique voice on a roster filled with like-minded musicians, and while some stand out more boldly than others, it is the diversity and plurality of the instrumental approach that makes this supposed non-genre a boon, if not calling card, for the label.

Read More

Flab Mag: Tera Melos don’t stop and don’t quit (touring).

imageimage

Maps & Atlases with Nick Reinhart of Tera Melos / Photo: Maria Colòn

Tera Melos hasn’t exactly been on hiatus this summer. They’ve headlined a mini West Coast tour with label mates Adebisi Shank and Le Butcherettes, and there have been surprise appearances by Nick Reinhart – most recently performing a rousing encore with Maps & Atlases at Ace of Spades in Sacramento (see image).

But they return to the road this Fall supporting new label mates Boris for much of their North American tour, as well as a separate leg of shows supporting Melt Banana. DATES HERE 

Additionally, Daytrotter has posted a session with the band, featuring 3 songs dramatically revised. Stream/download HERE.

In case you didn’t already know, Tera Melos’ most recent album Patagonian Rats landed on many Best of 2010 lists, as well as receiving raves from Wired.com, Exclaim!, ALARM Press, Impose and Exploding In Sound.

Henry Rollins has repeatedly championed the album on his KCRW radio show and Marnie Stern also named it her favorite album of the year in SPIN. Not sure what it signifies that Rollins digs your album but we’re sure it’s something good.

Flab Mag: Interview with Matthew Embree about ME&LP

 imageimage

Chez Raymond, an EP by ME&LP of six disparate but complimentary songs crafted by Matthew Embree (RX Bandits) and Lisa Papineau (Big Sir), is a sentimental homage to the joys of collaboration and musical experimentation. The styles veer from lilting Flamenco on the EP opener Quatro to rolling country-folk on EP closer – a tune Embree calls “a joke” (it’s not) – Right On Down the Line with some pseudo Afro-pop and indie balladeering in between. Understand, there are no false notes to be found anywhere on this EP. This is owed in part to Lisa Papineau’s vast body of work traversing many genres and her obvious skill at creating compelling vocal instrumentations. Add to the mix the soulful voice of Matt Embree and you have a satisfying first beginning to what I hope is a long-term project.

I sat down with Matthew Embree for a brief Q&A when RX Bandits played in Sacramento on the farewell tour. I had no idea who he was or that he is very much loved and his band is popular with the kids. But I had listened to Chez Raymond at least 100 times by then so this interview is about that project.

FLABmag: I heard you met Lisa at an art opening and immediately knew you had to collaborate with her, but what was the context? Did you hear her sing or did you shake hands and it was an immediate connection?

Matthew Embree: No, I heard her sing first in the band Big Sir with Juan (Aldrete) from The Mars Volta and I thought she was just amazing and is obviously incredibly talented. Her voice just struck me, you know?

Read More

Screaming Life: Interview with Teri Gender Bender

image
image

I have to be honest, when I first read about Le Butcherettes last summer I was pretty skeptical. Mostly because I’m not been a fan of lady singers whose oeuvre mostly consist of songs about love – the jilted and unrequited variety – which is boring. And when they’re trying to avoid that trap they cop the “feminist” shtick and end up espousing hackneyed dogma through unimaginative, illiterate lyrics.  I could give any number of examples but I’ll leave that for another time.

But I decided to give Le Butcherettes a chance when I downloaded their first EP, Kiss & Kill and heard the words “Fuck me as hard as you possibly can.” This put a smile on my face as I immediately recognized its clever (smart ass) double entendre, which is at once obvious, and duplicitous. I am a lover of double edge witticisms. (I also enjoy the word “Fuck”) It also didn’t hurt that the band was from Mexico – once my second home, and that they sang in English about things no “self-respecting” (read: obedient) Mexican woman would ever sing about. That EP was quite amusing, if not entirely listenable, the production quality left something to be desired but I supposed that was intentional.

At any rate, when I obtained their soon to be released debut album, Sin, Sin, SinI washoping to be equally amused, though I would discover that my favorite word was sadly missing, the album didn’t disappoint. It is filled with witty double meanings, vaguely foreign lyrics and goofy asides (Mr. Tolstoy, what?). Beyond humor,Sin, Sin, Sin in its totality, is an intelligent and emotionally astute album; one that crisscrosses cultural and psychic borders without ending up schizophrenic. That sounds like a lot of hot air but trust me, for those who are border-crossers (you know who you are) this makes sense.

Read More

Flab Mag: Interview with Tim of Good Old War

image
image

This summer I’m turning out to be more nostalgic and sensitive in my music obsessions. Last year I couldn’t stop listening to the brooding San Francisco Krautrock/New Wave throw back duo, Fops. And now I can’t stop listening to old bands like The Band and Crosby, Stills and Nash, which is fitting because now I can’t stop listening to the Philadelphia folk trio, Good Old War. Their three-part harmonies remind me of attending church on sweltering Chicago Sundays, in the days when I was forced to attend church, when I would love sitting in the air conditioning listening to the church choir sing what I would later understand to be unnecessarily self-effacing and schmaltzy love songs to Jesus. Kinda creepy when you reflect upon the meaning of some of those hymns.

Bit surely goodness and mercy followed the men of GOW for you will find an absence of schmaltz on their recently released self-titled album! Thank you Jesus. What you will find are gentle harmonies that evoke the purest, rather than puerile, aspects of gospel choirs. Filled with odes to life and death, friendship and commitment packaged in folk guitar strumming and minimalist percussion, Good Old War (the album) is a perfect counter-point to aggravatingly hot summer days. So instead of fussing like a whiney baby because I don’t have air conditioning, I’m carried away on the gentle cooling breeze of the vocal harmonies. This gives me the space to ponder  questions such as how long Tim Arnold’s hair is (or was) and if any of the guys of GOW began their singing careers in church choirs.

Read More

Flab Mag: Featured Player Deantoni Parks

image
image
Deantoni Parks is a drummer with considerable style – it’s a subtle blend of mechanistic, well-timed beats and sensual, almost laconic, grooves. He is obviously self-assured but without being cocky. He’s interesting to watch but without being showy and damn is he skilled. Yes he is.

Before seeing him play with ORLG in San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall back in September (2010) I thought he was just another drummer in a long exhausting, and often disappointing, line of drummers who have played with The Mars Volta (and in Omar’s side projects). But after that show pretty much everyone, myself included, was pulling for him to be the next, and hopefully final, drummer to ground the band. Interestingly, while waiting for the band to take the stage an impromptu debate began as to who was the best “Theodore replacement”- a topic that never seems to die. Lots of back and forth ensued until one lone music nerd declared Deantoni Parks to not only be the most tangible replacement for Theodore, but the only player who would (not could, would) put an end to the “Theodore vs. Every Other Drummer Omar Ever Played With” debate. At that point the band swept onto the stage and began playing what Omar called “experiments.” The end of that onslaught had converted those who argued against Parks, and if you saw them play at the Great American back in April, then you have also been converted.

But aside from his growing legend as the next heir to the TMV drum thrown, Parks has honed his skills and developed his style through inspired collaboration with an eclectic group of musicians. From John Cale to Vernon Reid; Me Shell N’DegèOchello to Sade. And without being over-extended he also creates new mixes of old legends through his Dark Angels collaboration with Nicci Kaspar – also a member of their electric-funk trio, Kudu, which also features singer/bass player Sylvia Gordon. Seems like he’s got his digits in a lot of pies but he holds it down – somehow.

Fortunately for me (and you), I left my bag inside the GAMH after I did an impromptu interview with Marfred Rodriguez Lopez of Zechs Marquise. This provided me the opportunity to introduce myself to Mr. Parks who was hanging around talking to people. Even after I launched into a flurry of quips, comments and questions he still graciously agreed to this interview. It took place late at night, both of us were tired, but we managed to talk a long while about the why of drumming, the luxury of a music education and just how hot Sade truly is.

{ Deantoni is in the running to win the Art Takes London competition. Visit his portfolio page to vote!}

FLABmag: Who were you in the studio with tonight?

Deantoni Parks: Me Shell N’DegèOchello.

Read More

Flab Mag: 20 Questions with Fang Island Drummer Marc St Sauveur

image
image
Marc St Saveur, Fang Island  Origins:

When and why did you start playing drums?

I started when I was 11 or 12, so around ’97/’98. My dad had a giant all-chrome Ludwig kit in the basement, so that definitely sparked my interest. And Dave Grohl. Can’t forget about him.

What, if anything, transpired to keep you playing all these years?

Constantly being interested in what was going on in the world of music and drumming. There’s always something interesting that comes along and blows me away. Like, “why the hell didn’t I think of that?!” I think it’s important to stay humble and always have a drive to improve. It’s exciting when someone kicks your ass to such an awesome degree that it psyches you up and influences you to play.

What was your first kit and how did you pay for it?

My dad is a drummer, too, and an awesome person, so my first kit that I could really call mine was a junk CB kit or something that he fixed the bearing edges on and gave a new paint job. He put a lot of work into it, and it although I didn’t really get it at the time, that was like the ultimate way for my dad to show his support. I’ll always remember that moment. I still have that kit.

Read More

Flab Mag: 20 Questions with Red Sparowes Drummer Dave Clifford

image
imageDave Clifford, Red Sparowes 

Origins:

When and why did you start playing drums?

I started playing drums in 1995… very, very late in life at the ripe old age of 25. I’d been a guitar player since I was 12-years-old (piano before that), and after getting deeply into music theory, I became really disillusioned with guitar. It quickly began to lose interest to me as anything other than a physical weapon. Many people would comment about how I was always air drumming along to music and I began to become fascinated in the primal force of rhythm after getting behind the drum kit at my band’s practice space. For a while, I snuck in late at night to play along with tapes of old Motown, soul and punk rock. I was hooked immediately.

Luckily for me, Angel Hair, one of my favorite local bands with whom I was good friends, broke up when their drummer announced he was moving away. We all got together that week and talked about starting a new band and I quickly volunteered to play drums, despite not owning my own kit, much less really knowing how to play at all. I bought a cheap drum set and we set about practicing every day for 3-4 hours and dubbing the new band The VSS. From that time on, I practiced and practiced and have developed an incessant love with drumming. Despite being a much better guitarist and bassist than drummer, it’s my favorite instrument and the transformative and transcendent feeling I get from playing drums is impossible for me to let go.

Read More