Monthly Archives: July 2012

THE SUGAR MAN RISES Rodriguez

An acclaimed new
documentary film, accompanied by a near-flawless soundtrack, tells the unlikely
story of a once-forgotten singer-songwriter from Detroit.

 

BY FRED MILLS

 

Searching For Sugar
Man
, the documentary about musician Sixto Rodriguez, opened a limited run
in New York and Los Angeles theaters this past weekend. August
will see openings in other cities, and if early reviews are any indication – as
of this writing, RottenTomatoes.com is showing a whopping 94% critical rating,
along with a 100% audience “liked it” assessment – the Malik Bendjelloul-directed
movie (Red Box Films & Passion Pictures Productions), stands to be one of
the year’s small-film successes.

 

Put briefly, first-time filmmaker Bendjelloul, a Swedish TV
director/producer, happened to be in South Africa doing research for Swedish
TV in 2006 when he encountered a local journalist, Stephen “Sugar” Segerman.
The writer had originally uncovered the story about Rodriguez, a Detroit
singer-songwriter from the early ‘70s who had issued a couple of poor-selling
albums before dropping out of the music business, only to learn many years
later that not only were his records highly prized among collectors but that he
had somehow become legendary – Dylan-like, almost – in South Africa. This in
turn led to an unlikely latter-day career revival for Rodriguez that continues
to this day (he’ll be touring intermittently throughout the fall; check dates
here
). Fascinated, Bendjelloul commenced work on his documentary, which took
him from Cape Town to Detroit and beyond. Upon its completion the film
was submitted to Sundance where it got tapped to open the 2012 festival.

 

 

 

 

 

You can read more about Rodriguez in our two previous
features from 2009, “Seize the Moment” (the man’s backstory, the Light In the
Attic label’s reissues of the albums, plus an interview) and “Full Moon Rising” (a look at Rodriguez performing live with a backing band of younger musicians).
Meanwhile, there’s also a recent NPR “Weekend Edition” broadcast that features
both Rodriguez and Bendjelloul talking about the film and the artist’s long
strange trip to date.

 

To further stoke the fan-fires, Sony Legacy has teamed with
Light In the Attic for the Searching For
Sugar Man
soundtrack, which culls 11 choice cuts from 1970’s Cold Fact (reviewed here) and its 1971
follow-up, Coming From Reality plus
three demos cut in 1972-73. Despite the material’s age, it’s remarkably
timeless in sound and vibe, from the soulful, Motown-tinged freak-folk of “I
Wonder” and the baroque protest-pop of “Sugar Man” to a track suggestive of Tim
Buckley in acoustic guitar/percussion mode (“I’ll Slip Away”) and several tunes
in the tradition of sardonic, talking-blues Dylan (notably the honky-tonk-esque
“A Most Disgusting Song”). As an introduction to the music and lyrics of
Rodriguez, the compilation is essential; for folks already familiar with the
man’s oeuvre, it’s a near-flawless mixtape.

 

 

 

 

To mark the release of the film and its soundtrack, I felt
it was appropriate here to reprint a portion of my 2009 interview with
Rodriguez, having been fortunate enough to spend a little time with him
following a concert in January of that year and subsequently share a phone
conversation a few months later. During the interview he was both soft-spoken
and self-deprecating, reflective at times as befits someone who grew up in an
era of great social, political and cultural turmoil. He also appeared genuinely
appreciative of all the good fortune that had been coming his way of late and
was excited to be making the touring rounds again regularly, in the wake of the
Light In the Attic reissues, understanding that “buzz” is naught but press hype
without something concrete and in-the-flesh to back it up.

 

BLURT: So – how are
you preparing for this tour? You’ll be touring more extensively, at least in
terms of the U.S.,
than ever before.

RODRIGUEZ: See, we’re all working at it, so I think it’s in
the air, you know? Busy at our craft. Yeah, I practiced with a drummer last
night and we went through a lot of material. The other day I practiced with
this other guy too – so I’m getting ready. I’m having a great time with this.
It’s totally – it’s a great time for me, and the thing is, it doesn’t happen
every week, so I’m serious at it. I gotta take this chance. It’s like Eminem
says, you get just one opportunity, so don’t blow it. [laughs]

 

Seize the moment – or
like the old ‘60s saying, seize the day.

Yes, exactly. Until I see the band again, we each just
practice on our own. And then when I hook up [with them] it’s like… waiting for
a love! Something like that, very much so. I’m glad to hear the band is getting
ready – and really, my stuff is simple. But we’re all very serious at it.

 

You’ve been through
this whole rediscovery thing three times now: first in Australia and New
Zealand, then South Africa,
and now America.
Does this create any anxiety for you – does it turn your world upside down each
time it happens?

I’m as nervous as a clock, so I reach for the rum or the
brandy. But yeah, you do get nervous; you’re reading me just right. So I have a
“cheer.” And then when I see them after the show, the fans and the fanbase and
the band, we’ll go out and party. Of course, last time we partied until four in
the morning, so I’m cutting down the parties on this tour! Just an hour. Because it gets intense. We’re going to
get up [each morning] at 11 a.m. and then out of that city. It’s getting so
very busy.

 

Onstage you don’t
betray any nervousness. In fact, you appear pretty relaxed…

That’s just the way I perform. I have my eyes closed, I’m
listening to the band, and trying to remember my lyrics and trying to find the
microphone. So in a way, I’m almost in a trance when I’m up there. I’m getting
better at it – better at ending songs and stuff like that. But I don’t want to
be so manicured and sharp that it loses something. You know what I mean? So
right now, you’re watching me as I develop. The thing is, you have to prepare,
and be prepared. So that’s the other thing, why I’m practicing [at home], so
when we hook up we’ll knock it out.

 

In the late ‘60s and
early ‘70s, as a teenager my consciousness was expanding with the times, and it
seems like a lot of the topics and lyrical concerns on both your albums were
very much attuned to the era and what a lot of us were going through.

That word – “consciousness.” That’s a bigger word than I’ve
heard in a long time. That’s a bigger thing. When you reach that, you can’t go
back. You see, most songs are boy-girl themes, and I’m happy to do a ballad,
but there are other words, too, that will prove more [useful] in awakening our
collective consciousness.

 

When you walked away
from the music industry, was it just disillusionment over the albums not
selling?

They were totally not commercial successes. I just had to
go, hey, there’s gas, there’s the electric, water bills, and taxes and
insurance… So that’s what really pulled me away from the music industry. I
never left music, though. I never left that.

 

Have you continued to
write songs over the years?

Oh, yes sir. Oh yeah. Like I said, I was jamming with the
cats. And when we jam, I do a lot of covers – “Here, try this…” But I do write
new stuff. I think at my practices it’s 40 to 60 per cent new material.

 

How would you like to
be remembered? What would you want on your gravestone?

Wow. You are hitting right into my heart. Um… how would I
want to be remembered? That’s too tough a question! [laughs] Can I refrain from that one? Because sometimes I don’t have
that answer. It’s like when you asked your loved one a question and they don’t
have the answer for it. So… I’ll work on it!

 

Fair enough. I saw a
great quote of yours from a few years ago. You said, “Life ain’t chronological.
Some older people appear to be younger, and some younger people appear to be
older.”

That’s it. There you go.

 

What did you mean by
that?

 It’s just that I
think some people grow up a lot quicker and reach that consciousness earlier.
And other people are, um, a little spoiled – I don’t know if that’s the right
word – and I want to get away from people with those prejudices and their hates
and their fears.

        I’ve been around
the world in three weeks, man. I went to Rotterdam
and then to Australia,
for example. And here’s my synopsis about the world: there’s enough for everyone, and in fact, too much for anyone. And
here they are, fighting for this, fighting for that. I want to say, “Stop
fighting, guys.”

 

That is sometimes the
role of the artist, to make observations and then let people think about it
all.

Yeah, that’s what it is. Usually my observations are like, “Hey man…” But what do I know? I can’t do
anything about it. But yes, I can speak to it.

 

MODERN MUSIC Bill Nelson

From prog-glam kings Be-Bop
Deluxe and experimental forays with Red Noise and Orchestra Arcana to an
impressive solo career, the guitarist never stays still.

 

BY REV.
KEITH A. GORDON

 

One of the
best things to come about in the wake of the Internet isn’t the availability of
free music, it’s the increased availability of music, period… and for a
hardcore rock ‘n’ roll geek like the Reverend, jus’ trying to get his
collector’s groove on, it’s been a godsend! Back in the dark ol’ pre-net daze,
pinheads like yours truly had to thumb through well-worn back issue copies of
music zines like Trouser Press, Creem, and Bomp! to finger hard-to-find albums from such far-flung locales as Canada
and England to lust after.

 

If you
were lucky, as I was for a short while, you lived near a collectors-oriented
record establishment like Dearborn Music that stocked a healthy bunch of import
singles and elpees; or maybe you had a monthly record show in town where you
could put down your hard-earned coin on that limited edition 10″ Clash EP
or Italian Kate Bush 45 with the alternative studio version of “Wuthering
Heights.” Otherwise, the demented rockist had to depend on wee mail order companies
that advertised in the back pages of the aforementioned publications to carry
that one shining stack ‘o wax that you coveted. You would send a postal money
order off to the advertiser and ask for a copy of THAT record for your
slow-growing but oh-so-cool record collection, waiting patiently by the mail
box for an official government employee to deliver your fab new tunes…

 

The
Internet has rendered much of that dance moot, providing the
hunter/gatherer/hoarder with abundant opportunities to find just about any
recording ever made. It’s also made the acquisition of formerly difficult
import albums as easy as clicking a mouse on the right website. Case in point –
Bill Nelson’s Recorded Live In Concert At
Metropolis Studios, London
(Convexe Entertainment) is a lush, deluxe set
with two CDs and a DVD documenting an intimate, invitation-only March 2011
concert by Nelson and his band the Gentlemen Rocketeers. Nelson is a British
artist, caught on film and tape in London, the album released by a Canadian
record label, and available through the magic of the Internet for we rabid fans
in the U.S. and elsewhere. For a diehard, lifelong rock ‘n’ roll fanatic, could
life get any better?

 

 

 

 

 

Bill
Nelson is a singular talent who has forged an amazing, albeit unique career
that has spanned four decades now. He is best-known, perhaps, as the singer,
songwriter, and guitarist for mid-1970s U.K. glam-metal band Be-Bop Deluxe.
Formed at the height of England’s glam-rock craze, Be-Bop Deluxe was more like
Mott the Hoople in that they transcended glam to deliver five studio (and a
live) albums of guitar-driven, proto-metal pop-rock tunes that served as a
showcase for Nelson’s intricate guitar textures. After the demise of Be-Bop
Deluxe, Nelson dawdled for a while with the experimental band Red Noise,
eschewed the guitar entirely in favor of electronics for his
frequently-misunderstood Orchestra Arcana, and quietly pieced together an
impressive and prolific solo career that, while resulting in few commercial “hits”
has nonetheless resulted in over 40 recordings that have earned the
multi-instrumentalist a loyal following.

 

For the
long-time Bill Nelson fan, Recorded Live
In Concert At Metropolis Studios, London
is a necessary addition to the ol’ collection. The fourteen-track setlist
on CD one spans nearly the entirety of Nelson’s lengthy career, including solo
songs, a little Red Noise, and a handful of Be-Bop Deluxe favorites, all recorded
with a full band that includes flautist/saxophonist Theo Travis (Gong). The
second CD is a good bit shorter, presenting a four-song solo acoustic
“warm up” set that Nelson performed for the assembled crowd,
including songs dedicated to his brother Ian (“A Dream For Ian”) who
played with Nelson in Red Noise, and one for his friend Stuart Adamson
(“For Stuart”) of Scottish rockers Big Country.

 

Recorded Live In Concert At Metropolis Studios,
London
starts
with “October Man,” from what was probably the closest that Nelson
ever came to a hit album, 1982’s The Love
That Whirls
. An engaging slice of new wave romanticism, the song reminds of
Simple Minds or similar 1980s-era fare, with Goth-tinged vocals, mournful horn
solos, doodling keyboards and synths, and shards of angular guitars. The song
has surprisingly dated fairly well, unburdened by the period clichés that hang
like an albatross around the neck of a lot of the decade’s early musical
experiments. It doesn’t take Nelson long to jump into the Be-Bop material,
though, beginning with “Night Creatures,” a somber mid-tempo dirge
from the band’s 1974 debut Axe Victim.
Sounding more than a little like David Bowie in both his vocal phrasing and in
the songwriting, the song’s lush, swirling instrumentation serves to embrace
and frame the lyrics nicely.

 

Switching
gears, Nelson launches into the fluid 1992 solo track “God Man
Slain,” which oddly evokes late-period Bowie, but with a deceptive energy and zeal driving Nelson’s hypnotic
fretwork and Travis’ random, soulful blasts of sax. By the time that Nelson
returns from his solo trip to vintage Be-Bop fare, the audience is fully
engaged, and the guitarist straps on his faithful Gibson ES-345, the same
instrument he used on stage and to record with Be-Bop. “Adventures In A
Yorkshire Landscape,” also from the band’s debut, is a sumptuous musical showcase that displays not only
Nelson’s immense six-string skills, but those of the Gentlemen Rocketeers as
well, the band erecting a magnificent instrumental backdrop against which
Nelson embroiders his complex, elegant patterns. Travis’s nuanced flute solo
colors the instrumental passages and remind of jazz legend Herbie Mann.

 

The
short-lived Red Noise period is represented by a pair of fine tunes,
“Furniture Music” and “Do You Dream In Colour,” both of
which fall on the edgier side of late 1970s era new wave. The former is a
martial, up-tempo construct with forceful, riffish instrumentation, and
machinegun vocals – kind of like Gary Numan with less synths, bigger drum
sounds, and tangled strands of wiry guitar. The latter opens with an
oscillating synth buzz before devolving into an almost popish syncopated rhythm
that reminds of Talking Heads, Nelson’s oddball vocals surrounded by electronic
dots and dashes. Some of my personal Be-Bop favorites come from the band’s 1975
sophomore album Futurama, with which
Nelson took a decidedly left-hand turn towards progressive-rock territory.

 

Evidently
dissatisfied with the outcome of Axe
Victim
, Nelson fired everybody and got new musicians for Futurama, changing the band’s sound
immensely. While critics at the time questioned the prog-rock tendencies of Futurama, the album’s best songs evince
a sort of prototype pop-metal songwriting and performance that would influence
the coming “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” bands. The larger-than-life
“Maid In Heaven” offers up some of Nelson’s most inspired guitarplay,
the song’s memorable riff and infectious melody matched by sing-a-long lyrics
and the guitarist’s great tone and energy. By contrast, “Sister
Seagull” is a hauntingly beautiful performance with cascading
instrumentation, judicious use of a melodic riff, and Nelson’s high-flying
solos. Performed beautifully here, the song’s emotional lyrics are made all the
more poignant by the powerful musical accompaniment, including the crying
seagull guitar licks at the end.

 

As
satisfying as the full-band performances may be, the four-song instrumental set
provided by Nelson on the second disc is just as impressive. The shimmering
guitarplay featured on “Beyond These Clouds The Sweetest Dream” is
stunning in its scope and execution, while “Golden Dream Of Circus
Horses” is just as powerful. The guitarist is accompanied on this one by
Theo Travis, whose ethereal flute and saxophone flourishes meld perfectly with
Nelson’s exotic fretwork in providing a solid example of the artist’s
flirtation with a jazz-rock fusion sound. Nelson is accompanied on the two
aforementioned tribute songs by a pre-recorded, almost orchestral soundtrack on
synthesizer or a synclavier, but his live-wire guitar playing on both is simply
sublime, the guitarist delivering pure emotion through his fingertips. The DVD
part of the set includes a multi-camera shoot of both the full band and solo
performances, and the sound on all of the discs is near-perfect, benefiting
from the small studio venue and Nelson’s firm hand in overseeing the final mix.     

 

Listening
to Bill Nelson is a lot like trying to tell a stranger about rock ‘n’ roll… the
man’s lifetime of music-making is far too intricate, varied, and uniquely
personal to nail down firmly for more than a brief moment. Words fail in trying
to describe the instrumental virtuosity and diverse artistic vision displayed
by Nelson throughout 40 years and as many recordings. The man makes music that
is at once both frequently challenging and enormously entertaining, and Recorded Live In Concert At Metropolis
Studios, London
offers not only a career-spanning musical introduction to a
one-of-a-kind artist, but also a rare visual document of Nelson’s talents. For
fans, this one is a no-brainer, while the curious newbie will certainly fall
head-over-heels after checking out the album.

 

NOT ANOTHER PUNK ROCK ASSHOLE Stephen Egerton

The guitar
virtuoso balances life with ALL and The Descendents, as a solo artist and
studio rat, and as a devoted dad.

 

BY DANNY R. PHILLIPS

 

The Punk Rock history books seem filled to maximum capacity
with audacious, self-important, egomaniacal assholes; Lou Reed, Julian Cope,
Johnny Rotten, Tom Verlaine and the late G.G. Allin are just the first five
that fight their way to the front of the line in my head.

 

Stephen Egerton, guitarist for The Descendents and its
offshoot ALL, is not one of those assholes, far from it in fact.  Playing guitar in a band as legendary and
influential as The Descendents may give some the perceived right to act in a
legendary manner i.e. dickish and difficult. 
Not Egerton; he is friendly, approachable, chatty and as Jon Snodgrass
of Drag The River told me, “Stephen is easily the nicest guy in punk. He is
seriously a cool dude.” 

 

As if to illustrate this point, Travis Arey of Stiff Middle
Fingers, an excellent, high-energy blistering punk rock cover band from
Lawrence, KS, approaches us outside local venue The Jackpot Saloon (where
Egerton and his band are playing the first Lawrence Field Day Fest, a two day
music festival organized by guitarist Cameron Hawk of Stiff Middle Fingers,
Dead Girls and Pipeline Productions’ Rob Schulte). He begins to talk to Egerton
at length about how excited he is to be playing with him, how big of a fan he
is, how The Descendents is one of his favorite bands, etc.  It goes on for 10 minutes while my recorder
continues to roll, unbeknownst to Arey. 
Egerton lets him continue his gushing, not out of ego but he is just too
polite to interrupt the kid.

 

Since joining The Descendents in 1985, just in time to
record the classic Milo Goes to College,
Egerton’s buzzsaw guitar work (fueled by a life-long addiction to coffee, not
amphetamines) has been the template for such bands as Green Day, Teenage
Bottlerocket, MXPX, NOFX, Blink 182, any band signed to the Fat Wreck Chords
label and countless others. Today at the Jackpot, Egerton played songs from his
2010 album The Seven Signs of Stephen
Egerton
Seven features 16 different vocalist from The Descendents’ Milo
Aukerman to Dan Adriano of Alkaline Trio but on this night, he was joined by
guest vocalists Steve Tulipana of Season To Risk, Cameron Hawk, Drag The
River’s Snodgrass and Chad Price (Drag The River, ALL) as well as joining Stiff
Middle Fingers for The Descendents’ “Pep Talk,” a song Egerton said he hadn’t
played in at least fifteen years.

 

The nerves of my teenage inner-self began to kick into
hyper-drive as I sipped my PBR tallboy (the bar had them on special), waiting
for sound check to finish.  Egerton’s
body of work, both as a player and engineer/mixer/producer at his Armstrong
Studios in Tulsa, Oklahoma, surrounds him like the people at the bar,
impatiently waiting for photos or to just shake his hand. In a fanboy moment
that I regret the milli-second after it happens, I admit to Egerton that he is
one of my favorite guitarists and that I am “a huge fan.”  My nerves must be visible as he sits
down.  He smiles, shakes my hand and
says, “Don’t be nervous man.  There’s
nothing to be nervous about, I’m just another guy and I talk a lot.”

 

 


Stephen Egerton – Sunny Disposition (Feat. Scott Reynolds from ALL) by gugaschio

 

 

 BLURT: So, what is the story with coffee?  Is it a full-blown addiction?

EGERTON: Yeah unfortunately it is.  I started young because I really wanted to be
a grown-up when I was a kid.  My Mom
would leave the percolator on so I’d drink some. I used to drink a pot or more
a day, it was probably bad, but I am cutting back.

 

How did the Seven Signs of Stephen Egerton record
come together?

In 2003 or 2004 I moved to Tulsa, where I live now.  At the time, ALL was really the only
operating band; The Descendents weren’t really functioning at all so I moved to
Tulsa where my
children could be closer to their grandparents. 
I was touring for a while as a road crew guy with MXPX as a tech and I’d
started a recording studio but I didn’t have a real musical outlet.  So, as time went on, I felt more and more
compelled to make music.  I was filling
up hard drives with songs.  I had these
piles of songs.  I had sent some to ALL
but at the time, our drummer Bill (Stevenson) was beginning to have a brain tumor
and other health issues (the tumor was
benign, removed, and Stevenson is well on his way to a full recovery
).  He wasn’t functioning well and if Bill isn’t
functioning, the band isn’t functioning. He’s our skeleton.  My wife eventually got tired of me griping
about these songs and said, “Just go record the damn things yourself.”  So I did but I’m really a terrible singer so
my wife suggested I start farming the songs out to my friends to sing. I
listened to the songs in the car and I’d imagine who would sound good on what
song and it worked out.  I really just
made the record for fun because I really can’t not make music without becoming
very depressed.

 

 Who were your heroes when you started playing
guitar?

The funny thing is, while guitar is my main instrument, my
heroes were mostly drummers and great songwriters with a few guitar exceptions.  For
me, The Beatles were EVERYTHING to me as a kid. 
I was always really fascinated by the drums and the rhythm.  And songwriting was important but it never
really came to me in the same way, it didn’t and doesn’t come easily; the Seven Degrees record was the first time
I had come to terms with the problems I had as a songwriter.  But early heroes on guitar are Carlos
Santana, Jeff Beck, John McLaughlin, Greg Ginn and Steve Jones from The
Pistols.  And anything to do with The
Beatles.  The Beatles and Black Flag are
the core of what I love most musically. 
(At this point, the opening band fires up and we trade our cushy
Naugahyde upholstered booth for the street)

 

What drew you to
punk?

I was listening to pretty typical music for an
eleven-year-old kid then a neighbor gave me a Frank Zappa record. I think it
was the Absolutely Free record.   That set me on the course to listening to
music that’s not necessarily typical.  It
was like “Whoa, his guy is on another plain here.”  From then on, I was fascinated by music that
sounded unusual.  I was living in Salt Lake
at the time and there was a good music scene, a good punk scene there.

 

There was? In Utah?

Oh yes.  Because Salt Lake
is such a straight-laced place it has a very bizarre underbelly. Oh yeah,
absolutely.  Punk rock fit in really well
in Salt Lake believe it or not.  We had bands going back to the late
Seventies.  When I first read about punk
rock, I was fascinated by the idea of it and the first band I was ever really
able to hear from that was The Sex Pistols, who I was blown away by.  From there, I just checked out other bands
that I had heard of: The Clash, Patti Smith, Television, all the New York stuff, Richard
Hell and the Voidoids, The Ramones.  I
loved those bands.  Then later a friend
of mine ordered Black Flag’s Nervous
Breakdown
through Goldmine Magazine and that floored us, along with The Germs. 
The L.A.
stuff was huge for us, and then later it was the D.C. stuff.  Salt
Lake was funny that way;
it introduced me to a lot of cool music.

 

As a fan of The
Descendents, was it weird for you to replace Frank Navetta?

Well, really at the time it presented itself as a
mind-boggling opportunity that had fallen in my lap.  Frank and Ray (Cooper) had both quit.  They needed somebody, might as well be
me.  (laughs)  I was just thrilled to have a chance to play
with them because they were such a huge influence on me.

 

Does your
approach to ALL and The Descendents differ?

We just kind of show up with the songs we have at the time
and just see where it goes.  I don’t
really try to have one band have a different sound then the others; it’s just
me trying to play.

 

I’m sorry to hear
about your Oklahoma
Thunder losing the NBA Championship…

You know, this was my first year ever giving a shit about
sports because every asshole that ever beat the crap out of me for how I looked
was a sports fan so I just grew to hate it. 
Then watching the Thunder come from nowhere to the Championship was
amazing.

 

You said you move
to Tulsa for
your kids to be close to their grandparents. 
How do you balance being a musician and a dad?

I’m very fortunate in that my main day job is mixing and
mastering records.  I do most of my work
in my spare bedroom; I have a studio at home and sometimes I record bands there
but mostly I do mixing and mastering so it works out convenient for me.  I’m there all the time; I’m the guy that
takes [the kids] to the bus, my wife’s job is set hours, I have complete
flexibility in my schedule.  I live a
mile from school, if I need to take care of something I do.  I really like it because my Mom had to work
and my Dad was gone, so to be there for them feels good.

 

What’s more
fulfilling: Playing live or helping a band find their sound in the studio?

Well, they inform each other for me.  I learn things that I bring to each
thing.  I try to bring my experiences to
bands if they come to me but I mix more than anything now.  I love mixing records; it’s me, alone in a
room, I send them an MP3.  If they like
it, we move on.

 

The Descendents
are playing in Chicago, Dallas
and Toronto
this summer.  Any hope of a full-scale
Descendents tour.

Nah, I don’t think so. 
Milo, our singer, really can’t do that
with his work.  We’ve been playing about
twenty shows a year.  He can take that
much time off; we eat up his family vacation every year but his wife is cool
with it.  We’re just gonna keep doing
what we’ve been doing but we can’t pull off a full blown tour.  We’ve been offered several tours but had to
turn them down, which is tough.  Three of
the four of us are heavily involved parents and we’re enjoying how we’re doing
it now.  We fly in; we rock out, have
fun, don’t burn it out, go home and back to normal.  I love it.

 

Do you think the
subject matter of many Descendents songs (food, coffee, and chicks) was kind of
an antidote to some of the hardcore bands of the time?

At the time, I think (hardcore punk bands) found themselves
perceived as tough guys though they would never posture that way, because they
were writing songs about heavy things that were very, very real to them
regardless of whether or not it fit into anyone’s idea of what punk is or
should be.  They didn’t care about
that.  Plus, The Descendents didn’t fit
into the Hollywood punk rock scene, in a funny
way, they didn’t fit into the south bay scene where all their contemporaries
like The Minutemen and Black Flag came from. 
They were just kind of their own thing. 
There really wasn’t anyone like that; later on people thought it was
cool that they did that but it was hard for them at the beginning.

 

Tell me about the
upcoming Descendents documentary Filmage?

Filmage was done by a couple friends of mine, we’ve been friends
for years and work in the film editing industry, they came to me and said “Hey,
we want to do this documentary.”  I said
ok, put them in touch with everybody, we all said we’ll help, give you what you
need to get it done.

 

What’s been the
response to the teasers you’ve put out?

Really positive, people are excited.  Although we don’t have a plan yet, I’m hoping
it’ll be done as soon as September.  I’ve seen more than half of the film and they
did fantastic. It looks great.

 

Any new projects?

Not really.  I’ve put
all my other stuff on hold to see what The Descendents decide to do.  I do have an instrumental band called
Slorder. It’s ongoing.

 

I hear a glimmer
of hope there.  Tell me a Descendents
tour is going to happen!

Yeah, it could.  I’ve
got a lot of songs piled up, I’m gonna give them to The Descendents guys, see
which ones they like and I’ll find something else to do with the rest.

 

Corny last
question: Where does your legacy in punk rock lie?

I don’t know if I have one. 
The way I view what I’ve been able to contribute musically is, and this
will sound bad for me to put it this way, I have aspired to be a great
songwriter and failed miserably.  It’s
like the Tortoise and The Hare story; all my best friends got way better at
what they did.  I’m just trying to play
catch up and get to where my buddies are. 
Like, I taught Karl (Alvarez, bassist with Descendents and ALL) how to
play bass when we were in the Massacre Guys. 
He wrote better songs than me in a year.

         It’s just how life is but I keep on slowly
moving forward and hopefully I’ll get to where I’m going.

 

[Photo Credit: Mitch Jones]

 

INSPIRATION… AND LIFT OFF Anders Osborne

The
hard-rocking bluesman aims for a “Galaxy” far, far away…

 

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

 

Some albums are born from inspiration. In the case of Anders
Osborne’s latest effort, Black Eye Galaxy (Alligator), the impetus was intuition. “I woke up last summer with a lingering
memory of a dream,” the singer/guitarist recalls. “All I could remember was
something having to do with the number 64, but I couldn’t quite get the
connection. So I went on the internet and Googled 64. I discovered it had
several meanings. It represents the number of squares on a chessboard, the
number of letters in the Chinese alphabet, the number of positions in the Kama
Sutra. All these geeky kind of things. But then I discovered it was also a
number associated with a cluster of stars known as the Black Eye Galaxy.
Suddenly I had my connection.”

 

With that, Osborne also found a new direction. It allowed
him to stretch his parameters, occasionally delving into more subdued terrain
and incorporating added elements like strings and harmonies into his
traditional back to basics approach. “I felt like I was taking the overall mood
to a dreamy kind of place,” Osborne explains. “The tone was what stayed with
me. I’ve never done anything like this before, going from a small, intimate
sound to something that was big and band-like.”

 

 


ANDERS OSBORNE – WHEN WILL I SEE YOU AGAIN by radiomilwaukee

 

In a career that spans eleven albums and 23 years, Osborne’s
also never shied away from following his muse. Born in Uddevalla Sweden, he left home at age 16 to travel the
world, eventually settling in New
Orleans. Drawn to the Crescent City
by family members who had relocated there earlier, he wasted little time
integrating into the city’s fertile music scene.

“New Orleans is an immigrant city, like New York or L.A.,”
Osborne suggests. “It’s the most open scene I’ve ever encountered.” His loyalty
to his adopted hometown was manifest when, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he
eased out of a 15-year lucrative songwriting stint in Nashville (which had  yielded, among other things, Tim McGraw’s
multi-million-selling, number one country hit, “Watch the Wind Blow By”) to
return home.

 

“After Katrina, things changed dramatically,” he recalls. “I
just didn’t see the purpose of doing anything other than staying in New Orleans. It just felt
like the right thing to do.”

 


Anders Osborne: Live at KDHX 5/15/12 by KDHX

 

 

Now, with the release of his new album, Osborne finds
himself drawn elsewhere, specifically to the Black Eye Galaxy, a place far, far
away. “I always try to go with my gut,” he concedes. “It sounds really, really
dorky, but that’s what I love doing.”

 

Anders
Osborne is currently on tour. Check dates here: www.bandsintown.com/AndersOsborne

 

THE MOST FUCKED UP THING I’VE EVER SEEN: Glenn Wool

In which the comedian
tells the story of Mona Lisa’s Vertical Smile.

 

BY GLENN WOOL

 

I got pulled over in Indonesia by customs agents. I had
a bunch of cards announcing my album release. They swabbed my hands and said
they found cocaine on them, which is bullshit.
I was comin’ from Australia,
so even if I had purchased cocaine, you wouldn’t have found cocaine on my
hands. You would’ve found baby powder and somebody wishin’ somethin’ was true.
You don’t get real coke in Australia.

 

So they’re lookin’ through all my shit and they found these
cards with my picture on it and they go, “What is this for?” I told them I had
an album comin’ out and they said, “Well, sing us some songs.”

 

I told them it’s not that kinda album; I tell jokes. So they
said I should tell ‘em some. And the only jokes in my head, ‘cause I’m
self-destructive as fuck, were all my drug jokes. My brain wouldn’t let me just
tell ‘em a nice joke. Oh, Brain. Fuck you.

 

So I looked at ‘em and went [singing], “All of my love! All
of my kissin’! You don’t know what you’ve been a-missin’, oh boy!”

 

Here’s the deal: They went through all my stuff and I was
like, okay… I’m free to go. Then I stand up and they’re like, “Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah!”

 

I’m like, “What do you mean?”

 

“We haven’t looked everywhere.”

 

Oh, dude. And then
they took me into a smaller room than I was in before and there’s three dudes
in there. They strip me down, and one of ‘em lubes up his fingers – which is never a good start to a story –  Well, depending on the kinda life you lead,
it could be.

 

He’s checkin’ beside my balls, and then he goes, “Bend
over.”

 

I gave the wryest little smile because I remembered
something. He caught the smile and he just went, “…No. Just let him go.”

 

He couldn’t fathom what was in my ass that it made me give him that Mona Lisa smile.

 

What had happened was, on the flight from Australia, I
had wiped by thumb and a worm had come out. So I knew that I had worms. And I
hadn’t had a chance to go see a doctor or anything. Just from that little smile
– “Oh you gotta look up there, do
ya?” – the dude let me go.

 

There’s a little trick for anybody that’s thinkin’ of
getting into the smuggling trade. Worms.
And a cheeky smile.

 

And then, like a prick, I went to the doctor in Singapore.
These worms stopped me from getting anally molested in Indonesia, and the first thing I
did was kill ‘em all. It was very
Machiavellian, I thought. You’ve served your purpose, worms. Now die.

 

Glenn Wool is a Canadian comedian based in the UK. His CD/DVD Let Your Hands Go is
chock fulla belly laughs and it’s out now on Stand Up! Records
. Check him
out at www.glennwool.com

 

 

GLENN WOOL – LIVE IN TOOMLER, AMSTERDAM

POUR SOME SUGAR ON… Bob Mould & Sugar

As
evidenced by expanded, deluxe reissues of the Sugar oeuvre, the punk hero’s
third act was every bit as powerful as the two that preceded it.

 

BY HAL BIENSTOCK

Whether he likes it or not – and one clearly gets the sense
that he doesn’t – Bob Mould’s albums with Husker Du will always be his most
beloved by fans. While it achieved levels of popularity that Husker Du only
dreamed of, Mould’s second band, Sugar, isn’t talked about nearly as much.
Hopefully, Merge Records’ deluxe reissues this week of Sugar’s entire output –
two albums and an EP, as Copper
Blue/Beaster Deluxe Edition
and File
Under: Easy Listening Deluxe Edition
– will start to change that.

 

With 20 years hindsight, it’s clear that Sugar’s debut, Copper Blue, is among the best albums
Mould ever made. Yes, that includes his Husker classics.

 

Like all of Mould’s finest work, Copper Blue melds raw power and emotion with hooks that lodge
themselves in your head and don’t leave. Its first five songs – from “The Act
We Act” to “Hoover Dam” – would form a perfect album side if people still
listened that way. 

 

Mould was simply on a tear at this time. The Beaster EP, which consisted of leftovers
from the Copper Blue sessions and is
packaged with it, has some of the most intense music of his career. It’s not an
easy listen, but it is incredibly personal and powerful.  Even the B-sides from this era are uniformly
excellent. “Needle Hits E” in particular could have been a staple on MTV’s
college rock arbiter 120 Minutes had it been released as a single.

 

A 1992 concert that comes with Copper Blue also shows a band at the top of its game. After two
solo albums that were not as well-received as Mould probably hoped, you can
feel how hungry he and his new bandmates are to prove themselves. The set
starts off with the punishing opening riff to “The Act We Act” and never lets
up. It’s an exhilarating listen, with an unhinged rendition of “JC Auto” and a
moving “The Slim” in particular highlights.

 

 

 

As prolific as Mould was during the Copper Blue sessions, he didn’t have quite as strong a batch of
songs in hand for Sugar’s next and last album, File Under: Easy Listening. It’s a good album – “Gift,” “Gee
Angel,” “Believe What You’re Saying” and “Explode and Make Up” are all
essential parts of the Sugar catalog – but it’s also the only Sugar album with
tracks that don’t quite connect. The reissue benefits from the addition of
b-sides, some of which are stronger than songs that made the album.

 

The real reason to buy this one is the bonus disc, a 1994
concert from Minneapolis.
After two years of playing together, Sugar is firing on all cylinders.  But buyer beware: this show was originally
packaged with a long out-of-print b-sides compilation titled Besides, so big Sugar fans from back in
the day may already own it.

 

Both reissues sport improved sound quality and are chock
full of photos, ticket stubs and headlines from back in the day. Best of all is
a booklet that offers a fascinating oral history of the albums and tours that
followed. Those who read about them in Mould’s recent autobiography will be
especially interested to hear the same stories told from the point of view of
the other players involved – not just band members, but producers and label
execs too.

 

And there’s more goodness to come for Mould fans. He says
his solo album, Silver Age, which is
due this fall, was inspired by revisiting Sugar’s albums. Based on an early
listen, there’s good reason to be excited; it might just be his best solo
album.

 

As for the reissues, Copper
Blue
is essential – a 10. File Under:
Easy Listening
is less so: a 7. We’ll average them out to an 8.5 and round
up.

 

PLASTIC FANTASTIC

Contributing Editor Amorosi blows the dust off his stylus
and spins the vinyl platters you can’t live without.

 

BY A.D. AMOROSI

 

The column is not only named after
my favorite Jefferson Airplane tune (“Plastic Fantastic Lover”) but my
childhood shopping haunt in Bryn Mawr, PA, where I met the likes of DEVO, B-52s
and their New Wave ilk at the start of their careers. One of the bands that
stopped by that record store is also the first highlight of this first column: The Cramps.

 

     The beat look of the early Cramps is
legendary. Circa 1977, the grimy primal rockabilly outfit (for the record, my
fave ever band) wasn’t only highlighted by Hell’s Sonny & Cher – high-haired
singer Lux Interior and curly hard guitarist Poison Ivy – but also by Bryan Gregory,
the pock-marked second guitarist whose guttural plunk made a room shake with
its tongue-lashing twang. That’s the sound of The Cramps – File Under Sacred Music: Early Singles 1978-1981 (Munster). Housed in a
tiny frame with the band’s C-movie horror font in slime green, the ten 7-inch
45s (in accurately replicated sleeves: single colors and cheap paper were
“Surfin’ Bird”/”The Way I Walk” and “Human Fly”/”Domino”) shudder and thud as
they did originally, only with ace remastering, so to sound shockingly clear
and cutting without losing the dusted crustiness of the originals. The whole
collection is a blank unholy mess – that’s a compliment. By the time you get to
“Goo Goo Muck”/”She Said” with guitarist Kid Congo Powers steering their clammy
raunchiness to new glam-voodoo heights, the collection becomes operatic.

 

 

 

 

      Surely The Cramps were an inspiration to a
rickety young Jack White. In
anticipation of his debut solo album Blunderbuss,
he dropped a 45 of pop-corrosion, “Love Interruption”/”Machine
Gun Silhouette,” on his Third Man Records amongst a slew of grandly arcane
Howling Wolf-y, rockabilly sides during the label’s last rush of vinyl
goodness. “Seasick Steve” Wold, the Oakland dirty folk busker
who plays highly-personalized guitars, unleashed a fiddle-friendly
banger “Write Me A Few Lines”/”Levee Camp Blues” where he
hoots about his days jobs and night-long sloppiness. Third Man signing and
odd-slob pop quartet Pujol hurl the
churlish “Black Rabbit”/”Too Safe” through White’s window. Nashville’s JEFF the Brotherhood take a page from
The Cramps’ garage night sweats notebook and crumb out to the muddied
psychedelia of “Whatever I Want”/”Everything I Need.” Then there’s thespian John C. Reilly whose musical snot-shots
are far from a Hollywood star’s vanity or its
projects. The acoustic country blues six-stringer/singer joins up with Tom Brosseau (same job description) and drummer White for the close-harmony
C&W “Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar”/”Lonesome Yodel Blues
2” that’s as sweet and strange as lavender honey.

 

 

 

 

   
Speaking of flowery aroma, Reilly does the same slanging, twanging and
strangling on the springy “I’ll Be There if You Ever Want”/”I’m Making Plans”
as Becky & John with Lavender Diamond’s cooing chanteuse Becky Stark. I hope Reilly never loses his Hollywood star, but if
it the directors stop calling, he’s got a friend in White whose own barking
two-man traditionalism, the curl and burl of The White Stripes, is celebrated in 12 inch vinyl form in Live in Mississippi. The 2-LP set is 180
gram black gold and the ruggedest of the Stripes’ live recordings from July
2007, with Meg White’s thud in full flush on the worrisome wonk of “Death
Letter” and the weirdly tender “I Want to Be the Boy to Warm Your Mother’s
Heart.” I love Blunderbuss, but I
sure miss Meg.

 

 

This article originally appeared in BLURT #12.

BLONDE AMBITION Gold Motel

As the saying goes, you can check in,
but you won’t be checking out anytime soon.

 

 

BY
MICHAEL VERITY

 

 

The
first thought that comes to mind when Gold Motel’s “Brand New Kind Of
Blue” jumps from the stereo speakers is that great pop music is still
alive and well (and living with a quintet of youngsters in suburban Chicago).

 

Opening
with a spiffy guitar riff, boasting lyrics that are intelligent without being
self-conscious and sporting just the right blend of harmonies, “Brand New
Kind of Blue” is the sound of Chris Difford’s wit mixed with Blondie’s
energy and a touch of Zombies lushness.

It
effectively smashes to pieces the unenlightened proclamations of many of
today’s pop bands who claim the mantle of their melodic forerunners but
actually don’t know Smokey Robinson from Smokey The Bear. These kids, Gold
Motel, are the real thing: a band that’s actually studied the pop idiom, a
group that brings more than an oldies station knowledge of the genre to the
stage and studio.

 

 

The
story of Gold Motel dates back to 2004, the year when 15-year old Greta Morgan
paired with her 19-year old friend, Bob Morris, to form The Hush Sound. In
short order, the band became a local, then regional, then national favorite,
logging endless touring miles and delivering three respectable albums on the
Fueled By Ramen imprint. But three years of living in close confines proved to
be a strain on human relations and, by 2007, The Hush Sound found the need to
go quiet.

“It was time for everybody to have some experiments and play with some new
people,” Morgan says of the band’s permanent hiatus. “The fact was that we were
burning the candle at both ends. In 2008 alone, we toured for 10 months, which
was a lot for kids who are barely twenty years old. Things started to fall
apart emotionally for us.”

For
Morgan, freedom from the rigors of band life translated into an extended
vacation in L.A. where she immersed herself in
the Southern California music scene. “I just
went to a lot of local shows,” she says. “One of my favorite artists is John
Brian, so I’d go and see him play at Largo
every Friday. And he would always have really cool special guests like Jackson
Browne or Fiona Apple or Rickie Lee Jones. They’d just show up on stage, do
their hit, then walk away. I also started studying The Beach Boys. I took piano
lessons from a teacher who had scored arrangements for their band in the late ‘60s
and early ‘70s, so he taught me a lot of the original voicings for their
songs.”

Studying
The Beach Boys in the late 2000’s drew a dotted line back to Morgan’s
childhood, when her “tone deaf” music loving Dad brought home a Wurlitzer
jukebox full of ‘60s pop and folk, from Joni Mitchell to Motown to the Zombies.
“When I wasn’t dancing on my Dad’s feet, like little girls do,” she says, “I
was being educated in the music of the theater, listening to soundtracks like Les
Miserables
.”

When
it came time to write some more songs of her own, all her many influences came
together and planted the seed of what would become Gold Motel (albeit not
immediately). “I had written all these songs so I went to a studio in Santa Fe to start
recording them,” she remembers, “but I didn’t really like how they came out.

“So,
in 2009, I brought them to my friend (producer, guitarist and now fellow band
member) Dan Duszynski, whom I’d known for a handful of years. We recorded two songs
— ‘Perfect In My Mind’ and ‘Make Me Stay’ — over the course of two or three
days; they came out exactly how I wanted to bring the songs to life.”

With
momentum in their favor, Morgan and Duszynski recorded several more cuts,
committed five of them to an EP and scheduled a release party, a crazy notion
at the time, she says. “It was kind of a silly thing to do since there wasn’t
really a band. That was an exciting challenge that forced us to reach out to
people right away. So we got in touch with Eric (Hehr, the band’s guitarist),
then we invited (bassist) Matt Minx and (drummer) Adam Coldhouse to play at the
show. We had so much fun playing that we decided to form a band.”

In
2010, Gold Motel — the name that trumped “Rabbit Punch” when pulled from a hat
— combined the cuts from their EP with five new songs to create their debut
album, Summer House, followed by a 7″ released later that year called Talking
Fiction
.

Their
second long player (released on July 3rd on the Good As Gold label) Gold
Motel
is actually the first record to be written and conceived as a band.
Along with Morgan, it was Duszynski and Hehr, in particular, who were
instrumental in bringing tunes to the band’s rehearsal sessions.

 

 

Some,
like the easy West Coast groove of Hehr’s “Sore Eyes” and Morgan’s “Brand New
Kind of Blue,” arrived mostly finished. Others, like the jaunty Talking
Heads-like “Your Own Ghost,” were inspired by in-studio conversations. In all,
however, the album is most definitely a group effort, inspired by everyone from
Vetiver to Fleetwood Mac to the woman with whom Morgan’s voice draws the most
parallels: Debbie Harry.

When
asked if she’d ever heard the comparison, she laughs and admits it has come up
a time or two: “One journalist said we sound a meeting of Blondie and The
Supremes.” Safe to say, they’re just two of the many influences that underpin a
sound that, when all is said and done, is uniquely Gold Motel.

———

Eliminate the middle man, put more dough
in the pockets of the band. Get their album here (
http://goldmotel.bandcamp.com/) then go see them there:

 

 

 

[Photo Credit: Matt Wignall]

MUSIC WITH BALLS Edward Rogers

The British-born,
American-bred rocker, raconteur and radio host is tuned in – and in more ways
than one.

 

BY DAVE STEINFELD 

 

Though he has been based for years in New York City,
singer-songwriter Edward Rogers was actually born in Birmingham, England. He
and his family moved to America (by boat) when he was 11, around the time of
the British Invasion. Throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, Rogers immersed himself in
the music scenes on both sides of the Atlantic. Later, when punk started to
emerge in lower Manhattan, he began playing drums with the hope of breaking
into that scene. But it didn’t happen – at least not right away.

 

In the mid-‘80s, a freak accident changed everything.
Rogers was on the subway one morning, going to work, when he began feeling
faint. He was walking one from one subway car to the next when he fell between
the two — and eventually woke up in a hospital. “I wasn’t supposed to live for
the first four days,” he says. “[But] I guess God wasn’t ready for me at that
point.”  Rogers lost his right arm and
part of his right leg – but he gained the drive to step out from behind the
drum kit, take singing lessons and become a proper recording artist.

 

Rogers’ debut, Sunday
Fables,
which appeared in 2004, was a collection of songs that sometimes
echoed The Zombies – whose Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent actually appeared on
the album! He wouldn’t release his sophomore solo effort, You Haven’t Been Where I’ve Been, until 2008. Since then, however,
Rogers has seemingly been moving at the speed of light. He issued the wonderful
Sparkle Lane in 2010 and followed
that up with Porcelain at the end of
last year (reviewed
here at BLURT
). These last three albums have all been released on Zip
Records (although in the UK and Europe, Porcelain is available on Bucketfull Of Brains).

 

Just as he did on Sparkle
Lane,
Rogers opens his latest album with a rollicking ode to his youth. The
song “The Biba Crowd,” is a reference to a store that was fashionable in London
in the early ‘70s – a period that was the main reference point for Porcelain in general. Elsewhere on the
disc, he turns in a plaintive love song akin to early Elton John (“Nothing Too
Clever”) while rocking out on the title track and “Separate Walls.”

Even though Porcelain was released
just last fall, Rogers is already at work on other projects; it’s as if he’s
making up for lost time and can’t sit still. He is currently developing a new
live music series at ZirZamin, a popular venue in lower Manhattan, and he
co-hosts a weekly online radio show called Atlantic
Tunnel.
In addition, Rogers is already contemplating his next album. “I’ve
written and demoed 30 new songs,” he states. “I’m looking for the next
direction.”

 

(below: Rogers
live in NYC at the Bowery Electric, 2/3/12, by Anthony Pepitone)

 

 

 

 

 

BLURT: Four years
passed between the release of your debut album, Sunday Fables, and its follow-up, You Haven’t Been Where I’ve Been.  But since then, you’ve been
on a roll. What do you attribute that to?

 ROGERS: Each record has been a challenge to me – striving
to make a stronger musical statement. I approach each body of work [by
asking myself], ‘What did I learn from the last record that I can do
better?,’ and ‘Am I improving my singing and songwriting?’ It
really starts and ends with my pushing to improve myself.

 

Tell me a bit about
the making of your latest album, Porcelain. How was it similar to making Sparkle
Lane
and how was it different??

 The idea [this time] was to get away from being
a ‘60s power pop singer and go to the mid-Seventies – [to] make music with
balls, but melody too. I love the sounds of old T. Rex, Mott the Hoople,
Bowie, Eno, Kevin Ayers and hundreds more from that era. But [I wanted to]
put my own spin on it. Porcelain is
a modern sounding record but visits some of our old heroes’ influences.

 

What inspired the
title track??

 Going to the New York Founding Hospital and seeing
all these young children who were given back to the state because the parents
couldn’t afford to pay their medical bills. Talk about disadvantages of life!
These young children… are already two major steps behind and yet they are still
simple, loving little human beings. It is an extremely sad experience to
visit that [hospital]. “Porcelain” was my way of trying to bring
some attention to the world of disadvantaged children who are right
in front of our noses.

 

What exactly is the
Biba Crowd??

 What, you don’t know?!? Biba was a brilliant glam
clothing department store in London in the early Seventies. The
top floor was a wonderful art deco restaurant with live music. The New York
Dolls and Cockney Rebel played their early shows there.
        The song is written about Mott
the Hoople’s reunion shows a couple of years ago. [I was] thinking ‘Where did
all the wonderful dreamers who frequented the shop go? Were they at the [Mott]
show?’  They were definitely at the
after-show parties every night!

 

Who are some of the
bands, songwriters and singers that you love or that influenced you when you
were growing up??  

 Ray Davies, Scott Walker, Vanda and Young, Donovan
[and] The Small Faces, along with the normal mecca of performers [and]
songwriters who everybody knows.

 

Tell me a bit about
your radio show, Atlantic Tunnel. 

 Atlantic
Tunnel
[airs] every Sunday between 12:00 and 2:00 pm EST at
EastVillageRadio.com.  The show features Gaz Thomas’ and [my]
vast collection of new and obscure English rock and roll.  We play everything from Billy Fury to Martin
Newell. It’s a total labor of love for us: two olde mates get together
every Sunday and spin the music that shaped our lives. Tune in and have a
listen!

 

(below: Rogers’
video for “The Biba Crowd,” w/footage from Jean Luc-Godard’s 1964 film Band of Outsiders)

 

 

IF WALLS COULD TALK The Walls

The beloved Irish
popsmiths aim to make their mark in America.

 

BY RANDY HARWARD

 

A couple of years ago at SXSW this band played the BLURT party.
You wouldn’t have know that the Irish brothers tuning up onstage had opened for
U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bob Dylan; they looked more like a couple of A/V
dorks setting up a movie screen behind their little two-man set-up.

 

But that first melodic, power-poppy song was riveting. Then
the screen came alive; three celluloid band members completed The Walls; and
they played more wonderful songs. The silver screen flashed grayscale images of
landscapes and exploded with a flock of birds, and the crowd hung onto every
song. “We only do [the screen] when we can’t afford to bring the whole band
abroad,” says Steve Wall, who fronts the band with brother Joe. “We did it in Vienna on Paddy’s night
to 1500 young Austrians going crazy and they’d never heard us before. I prefer
playing with the real-life band, though.”

 

The Walls, it turned out, had been around since 1998. That’s
four years after their previous band The Stunning ended a reasonably successful
seven-year, three-album (plus one live disc) run. At the time of the Austin show The Walls were
working on a third album, Stop the Lights. They’d also recently reunited as The Stunning for a series of sold-out
shows and reissues. But now, with Stop
the Lights
having gotten a U.S.
release in March, the band, hopes to raise its profile outside of its home
country. “Strangely enough, in these days where everyone is tagged [on social
networks], The Walls are practically unheard of outside of Ireland.”

 

 


01. bird In a cage by The Walls

05. it goes without saying by The Walls

 

 

You might ascribe that to the “pet band” theory. When some
people hear a group whose every song has personal resonance and stands up to
obsessive replays, they keep it close. That’s how Steve Wall hears it from fans
around the globe: they don’t want to share. Count this writer among them, except eventually we do share. Look to bands like The
Posies, American Music Club, Buffalo Tom. They’re renowned now, but they used
to be the secret special band of some music nerd – and still kind of are.

 

“All I can say,” Wall says, “is I think our music is kinda
timeless. Maybe that’ll stand to us in the long run. But not too long I hope,
as I’d rather be appreciated while I’m actually kicking around on the planet.”

 

 

Visit The Walls
online:
www.thewalls.ie