Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Death Set Interview

An Interview with the Death Set for Vice:

The Death Set Don’t Watch Neighbors

I am in love with Baltimore. Which is a little weird as I have never actually been there before. In my head it’s a mysterious wasteland filled with derelict warehouses strewn with the victims of Edgar Allan Poe stories and fringed by the high rise projects that you see in The Wire while Gram Parsons records croon quietly out of late night dockside bars. Even if it’s nothing like that it would still be great to go there just because every bit of music that comes out of the place right now seems to somehow be original, entertaining and best of all fun. Maybe it’s the low rent, communal living and abundance of arts based colleges or maybe there are just a bunch of super talented guys there right now. Either way you can’t really argue with a city that’s produced acts as varied and interesting as Dan Deacon, Spank Rock, Double Dagger and Cass McCombs. The Death Set arrived in the city as outsiders from Australia and soaked up the towns club, punk and Wham City scenes only to forge them into some weird hyperactive amalgam of the lot. Try imagining Video Hippos doing Fascist Fascist covers with a live show that has caused structural damage to several squat venues. For a band that make the Libertines look like Dire Straits in terms of holding it together the improbably named duo of Johnny Siera and Beau Velasco have managed to put out a hefty slew of 7”s on labels like Super Busy Bodies and Every Conversation. They now have a CD due on new Ninja Tune offshoot Construct but don’t worry: the one thing they sound nothing like is DJ Kentaro.

VICE: Is there a hierarchy in Baltimore with Dan Deacon as like, Old King Cole, Spank Rock as the court jester and Ponytail as the court choir?
Johnny Sierra (Guitars, bass, samples etc): When I first got to Baltimore I just happened to move in next door to the original Wham City so we used to play a bunch of shows there and I met Dan and all those guys. I met Spank Rock through our friend Emily Rabbit who put our first EP and there are just a bunch of connections between us all. We’ve done tours with Ponytail and live with their drummer and I mastered their last record. Nolen from Double Dagger is doing our artwork and everyone helps each other out. It’s nice.

You play all your live shows on the floor and people seem to always go nuts. Did you just see a Lightning Bolt show one day and think: “those guys are onto something there”?
I first saw ‘The Power Of Salad’ when I was living in Australia and it was pretty inspirational but we just did this one tour that had no stages and found it more fun to get in peoples faces. The reaction is usually pretty good. We played a basement in Brooklyn a few months back with Dan and people were running outside to throw up from heat exhaustion. The roof was also covered with some asbestos like crap. People were grabbing onto these water pipes covered in it and afterwards all these kids broke out with a weird grotesque rash. It felt like a thin layer of glass all over us for days.

I heard you had a side project called Retarded Kitten?
That was just stupid songs I wrote that weren't Death Set songs. One of the dudes who did it was in Lifetime so that was pretty cool.

In which soap does Alan Dale give the better performance: The OC or Neighbors?
I had to Google image search that dude. Fucked if I know. Not all Australians watch Neighbors you know.


Jimmy Jam Jar


Here is an interview I did with the ace New York girl/girl duo Telepathe for Vice.

Telepathe have OCD just like me!

Bands tend to treat the ‘Influences’ column of their MySpace page like their own personal peacock parade ground. A chance to puff up their feathers and try to cook up a list that’s simultaneously more eclectic, obscure and populist than is feasibly possible. Nine times out of ten it’s best to just skip the whole thing altogether and actually listen to the MP3’s. A list that includes Three 6 Mafia, DJ Assault and Digital Mystikz to describe what has affected the sound of a Brooklyn two-piece electronics outfit on Social Registry does not bode well…were it not totally representative of the paradoxes that make Telepathe boner-inducingly great. They sound so refreshingly unlike almost everything else going on right now that they might as well be a called First Sip Of Ice Cold Lager On A Global Warmingly Hot Day In London Fields. Busy Gagnes and Melissa Livaudais create music as in thrall to the Hip Hop hooks of Hot 97’s daytime playlist as it is the loops and drones of Charalambides or Growing. They fuse primitive, repetitive chanting and electronic feedback with skippy drums you can actually dance to and moments of vocal melody that make you feel like Weiss sisters might be singing in the wings. While their early releases saw the girls exploring fuzz and drone it was with the “Farwell Forest” EP that they found their girl group meets Gang Gang with DJ Paul on the buttons middle ground. That record bought them to the attention of NY avant-overlord guy David Sitek who was so excited that he offered the girls a month is his studio to create a record. Out popped the perfect ‘Chromes On It’ and cue me not listening to anything else for three weeks.

VICE: You have referred to your music before as ‘process orientated’. What does that mean? Am I an idiot for not knowing?
Busy Gagnes (voice and effects): Maybe. It’s just the way we write. The process changes all the time. We continually change the instruments we use, our roles in the band, and the people we collaborate with. We place a lot of importance on how we make the music and not just the finished product. This takes the weight and pressure off of the final thing being ‘good’. I guess it's more of an ideal than a reality though because we definitely end up stressing out over recordings. We never release anything we don't fully believe in.

It sounds like you have case of ‘output OCD’. I have that with a lot of stuff. Like I can only use Pilot V5 Rollerball pens.
Melissa Livaudais (voice and effects): Erm, well, everything is very well calculated yes but not always well executed. No space for playing is ever the same and even if it is the same space there is no way we could have the same exact experience twice but improv does not appeal to me at all so I guess that is kind of OCD yes.

Is there a hot New York boy-boy duo who could be your avant-garde mirror image?
Busy: Stay High
Melissa: Stay High is for real. Some hot ass, cute little boys that make some fly music.

I hear wedding bells. Who are your favourite telepaths of all time?
Busy: Carrie White.
Melissa: Maybe Darth Vader but we are telepathic in the sense that all life on Earth is telepathic, we the same as you.

The “Dance Mother” LP is forthcoming on Social Registry.


Avant Yams

So So Modern Live Review

Here is a live review I did on the band So So Modern for the NME:

So So Modern
The Buffalo Bar, London

Nothing changes at the Buffalo Bar other than the band on the stage. Tonight it’s So So Modern as they make a final UK appearance before returning to their native New Zealand after weeks of talked up shows. While the support acts, Maths Class and The Ghost Frequency, share with their headliners an obsession with yelped vocals and intricate guitar and synth patterns layered over restless punk-funk rhythms they both fail at any point to transcend their obvious influences. It’s all basically a bit Rapture with added ADD guitar lines. No such problem for So So Modern. From the moment they stroll on stage in pseudo-shamanic cowls their tour-honed live show brings to mind not 2003 but a gloriously re-imagined 1993. ‘Synthgasm’ and ‘Firefights’ immediately translate the frenetic on-stage energy to the previously static crowd and it’s as if Q & Not U are playing from Don Caballero’s crib sheet. While the keyboard dominated ‘Love Code’ may lose a sense of momentum the band are never without focus or a maniacal sense of spontaneity. At one point they even cobble together a Melvins style drum circle. Awful name aside, in a sweaty North London basement it becomes apparent that Transgressive may just have signed the interesting, challenging and engaging act that Foals have wholly failed to become.

MGMT Interview

An interview with the band MGMT I did for psychopedia.com:

MGMT dig Berlin Bowie.

The record industry is in a state of flux. Its direction and how this direction will be reached unclear in the nascent dawn of the digital natives. The standard precedents and operating systems have become irrelevant in a world where bands can be lauded as the next potential ‘most important act of….’ off the back of three MySpace demos (Black Kids), sell out venues that established acts struggle to fill without having released a record (Enter Shikari) and give away new work for free (Radiohead). The majors, like stumbling reactionary behemoths, have failed to recognize the changing nature of musical acquisition and consumption.

In a panicked state they have resorted to offering huge advances to entice the acts spawned by this new wave into creating a reciprocal process of ‘re-branding’: the acts get the cash they need to create and the labels gain the kudos and potential success of a credible act whose artistic merit and integrity remain unassailable. Of course for every great ‘indie’ band who have made the transition to major label money worth their salt (The Klaxons, Hot Chip) there are dozens, hundreds, even thousands of acts they get horribly wrong (Hard Fi, Razorlight etc ad nauseum).

MGMT fall safely into the first bracket. Two bright, young, savvy kids whose melodic indie pop references the sonic adventures Olivia Tremor Control or Circulatory System, Of Montreal or Architecture in Helsinki’s manic joy, the wry bittersweet observation of Stephen Merrit’s Magnetic Fields and the warm orchestrated melody of Broken Social Scene or Wolf Parade all packaged into three-minute parcels. The key remains their grasp of such tightly and carefully crafted pop edifice that they cannot, and will not, fail to be hugely popular by the end of the year. They are, to some extent, a perfect example of the, widely referential and highly astute kids that the new digital age has created. There is a sense of knowing, meta-musicality MGMT carry with them that, were they not so good, would make them insanely irritating. Like a little brother who knows more than you about pretty much everything.

The band were signed by Columbia straight from demo after CMJ last year and their David Fridman produced debut album ‘Oracular Spectacular’, due later in 2008 offers ten tracks brimming with hooks, melodies, catchy choruses and great lyrics. While their touring band consists of up to three friends helping out on various instruments to bring their songs to life the creative core of the band consists of Conneticut born, New York based, childhood friends Andrew Van Wyngarden and Ben Goldwasser

What made you decide to sign to a major in a climate where many of your contemporaries, say Of Montreal or Yeasyer, are happily signed to resolutely independent labels?
Ben: We basically just felt that Columbia offered us the greatest artistic freedom. Sorry if that’s boring but it’s true.
Andrew: We walked in there and just said look, we wanna do this and this and they were like sure, whatever you like. We even tried to test them by throwing really outlandish song title and art ideas at them but whatever we suggested they would always be cool with so we decided to just go with it.
Ben: If we can be in a position where we can tour and make music without having to worry about paying the rent what’s wrong with that?
Andrew: Also, it was never really like a big decision to try and sign to a major, it just sort of happened and made sense to us.

Did your name come about from spending so much time dealing with management?
Andrew: It was just a stupid idea we had to try and make Googling us hard. It worked for a while when no one knew who we were but now if you type in ‘MGMT band’ or whatever it comes straight up so we kinda failed there.

How long have the two of you been playing together?
Andrew: Way too long. Since college. We have played with lots of different people but what we make now has settled as just the two of us.
Ben: It was only when we moved to New York from Conneticut that MGMT kind of turned into what it has become.

New York seems to be kicking out some good, interesting young bands again: Yeasayer, Apache Beat, Telepathe, Effi Briest. Do you feel at all part of any sense of scene?
Ben: Well, we are friends with some of those bands and we have played with them but what makes New York interesting is that everyone is doing their own thing. Everyone digs on each others bands but no one is watching and ripping stuff off. No two bands really sound alike. I guess we are part of a scene in terms of newish bands coming though but a scene in terms of sound? No not really.
Andrew: It is good right now because you can play on a bill and each band will sound totally different. That’s healthy.

Your lyrical themes seem pretty divergent, what do you tend to find yourselves writing about?
Andrew: Nothing too oblique but really I wouldn’t want to say this is about this or whatever. It’s up to the person listening to make of it what they will. It’s mostly just day to day shit that you find yourself writing about.

Similarly your sound is pretty wide ranging, how would you describe what you play?
Andrew: Along with the label thing I can only really give you the answer you will have heard a million times before and that is that above anything else we aim to make great pop music. Making a pop song that is both is interesting and well produced is a challenge in itself.
Ben: ‘The Perfect Pop Song’: a worthy quest.

Who has influenced you on your pop path?
Ben: So many things but the one that always comes up and that we both agree on heavily is Bowie.

Who would win in a big fight between all of Bowie’s incarnations?
Andrew: ‘Low’ era Bowie for sure.
Ben: He was a dark dude in those days.

January Vice Record Reviews

January Vice Reviews here:

The Notorious Hi Fi Killers
Which Side Are You On?
Rocket Recordings

10 Have you ever wondered what it would sound like if The Sonics fed their guitars Kyuss steak sandwiches and Eyehategod bongwater all day just to see what would happen? Me too! Turns out the results have been hiding in South East London the whole time behind a silly name and a wall of Big Muff distortion pedals.

Dennis Greenidge
Giant Man, Giant Plan
Mordant Music

10 If you impulse buy a horror film from the 99p bin at your local petrol station at 4am there is a high chance that it will contain a scene in which the main guy enters the house or hotel or wherever the scary killer is hanging out and a radio will be switching stations at random. That is always my favourite part. It’s ridiculous and I’ve seen it at least one million times but I still love it. This is a whole record of that moment. So I’ve been playing it a lot and waiting behind doors with my Freddie mask on lately.

White Hinterland
Phylactery Factory
Dead Oceans

1 I have no idea where the White Hinterlands are. Or what a Phylactery Factory is. It all sounds like it might be a big, eerie warehouse on some frost-bitten mining town’s outskirts where the sun only shines for three days a year. And that the factory owners daughter might be a trapped, porcelain skinned maiden who dreams of escaping into a land of swooping bats and fluttering, incandescent fairies. And then sings about it. Unfortunately thinking all of this up is far more exciting than what comes out of the CD player when you put the album inside.

Soiled Mattress & The Springs
Honk Honk Bonk
Upset The Rhythm

9 Everything about this album is fun. Not forced ‘lets all play musical chairs ‘cos it’s Dave’s birthday’ fun but huge ‘I’ve not had this much fun since I was 14’ grin fun. The weird Mathew Thurber artwork, the jittery sax bits, all of it. Fun, fun, fun! Sure they may have lifted their whole shtick wholesale from Captain Beefheart’s lunchbox while no one was looking but since when was that ever a bad thing?

14kt Gold
Kill Rock Stars

3 I thought Jamie Lidell already had the whole ‘check it out I’m a nerdy white guy doing Prince with not a lot of help’ market covered? Regardless, calling your record “14kt Gold” is always going to make you sound like you should be the house band on an episode of My Super Sweet Sixteenth while the birthday girl cavorts in a diamond encrusted thong to your snakey hipped b-lines.

Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend

5 Am I missing something here? Have all the people who keep going on about Tropicalia and Afro Beat whenever these guys come up ever heard a Fela Kuti or Gilberto Gil record? Evidently not. Neither have these smug Manhattenites by the sound of things. Sounds more like the next Clap Your Hands Say Hey Look! It’s An Indie Band No Will Give A Shit About In 12 Months Time to me. Sure they have some nice tunes but so did the Van Pelt and they actually deserved to be remembered forever.

Pulling Teeth
Martyr Immortal
Deathwish Inc

9 Another slab of muscular, metallic, Clevo-style punk from the best band in the world playing this style of hardcore not called Integrity. When they played our pub last year the kids were going so crazy we worried the ceiling downstairs was going to collapse. Again.

And So I Watch You From Afar
This Is Our Machine And Nothing Can Stop It
Our Machine

8 Imagine if Mogwai were from Belfast and grew some balls. Or, if Pelican still meant it. These guys would destroy the pedestrian post-rock love in that the Explosions In The Sky curated ATP looks all set to become. Except that they will never get invited because they are from the Republic Of Ireland. That and they’d play everyone else off stage.


7 From the pretty disturbing Japanese school girl getting skull-fucked by an octopus tentacle popsicle on the sleeve to the deranged yelps that go on inside, Comanechi remain one of London’s most unhinged arty, noise-rock party bands. Imagine how boring shows at Bardens would be without Akiko running around with her tits out scaring all the first year photography students.

Kap Bambino
Zero Life/Night Vision

8 If there was an anti-Ketamine that instead of collapsing into a heap of your own vomit and failing to communicate or move for twelve hours would make you spring up and become a multicoloured, all night dancing machine, like Chris Akabusi in a Timmy Mallet outfit, this would definitely be the soundtrack. Which unfortunately remains theoretical unless you have gone back in time and you are at the Hacienda in 1987.

Midfield General
General Disarray

7 I’d never heard of Midfield General up until about a week ago. Then it all went supernova. Posters all over the place, people talking about it in the pub, I’d turn on the little DAB radio my girlfriend got me for Christmas and yup, Midfield General is there doing a pretty great BBC Radio 6mix. Then the album lands on my desk and it turns out that it’s been Damian Harris, the main guy at Skint, buddy to Norman Cook and all round “nicest guy in music” all along. I guess I need to start paying more attention.

January Vice Literary Reviews

Here is some stuff I wrote about some books in January for Vice.

Hamburger Eyes: Inside Burgerworld
Publisher: PowerHouse Books

If you are not aware of Hamburger Eyes by this point in life it’s time to put this magazine down, wipe your ass, pull your trousers up, skip the flies and hand wash bit and get online. Once you’ve pre-ordered this bite size compendium and you are preparing yourself to force it all it down at once like a big Scooby Snack and forever imprint these black and white snapshots of everyday beauty into your synapses forever you may as well take a look at burgerworldchronicles.com and find out exactly what you’ve been missing out on all this time. The enlightened and converted will scoffingly tell you that you’ve only been oblivious to seven years of possibly the greatest tri-annual, 100 page, 3000 print run photo zine of all time. So really it is pretty handy that they have put all the best bits in one place. And even if you are one of the scoffing, supercilious assholes who knew about it all along and lauded it over everyone else then you still kind of have to get it because it has previously unseen work by Ray and David Potes, Boogie, Ryan Furtado and all those other guys who are much better than you at turning the ordinary into the extraordinary just by actually looking around themselves every day and pressing a button.


Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing and the Erosion Of Integrity
Anne Elizabeth Moore
Publisher: The New Press

Ohkay, ohkay, ohkay. So Punk Planet always was like a tarted up, overly democratic version of MRR and making up terminology to justify your fairly unprecedented conceptual views of the direction of the media industry might be erring a teensy weensy bit into Michael Mooreville and yep the whole thing can come off at times as if it’s preaching a sermon from the same self righteous mount as the fat, beardy, glasses guy himself. HOWEVER, the problem is that the ever youthful and quick to see red in the face of aesthetic butt-fuckery Anne Elizabeth Moore (no relation btw) really has a point in this concise treatise on the infiltration of the independent media by the goliaths of corporate compromise. Maybe I’m just a push over but it seems hard to disagree with her common sense arguments and you don’t have to look far to see that she may be very right after all… Either way its far more believable than the ‘octopus theory’ that our buddy Kev was trying to convince us found TEN faults in 9/11. Octopus? Ten? Huh?!


Arnold Newman
Publisher: Taschen

Norman Mailer, Igor Stravinsky, JFK, George Harrison, Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Pablo Picasso… It’s an impressive enough call sheet before you even bring to the board the fact that this gnomey, little fella with one of those hyper-wise Jew-faces that can only ever adorn those born in New York in the first half of the last century actually created the much copied technique of ‘environmental composition’. This means that Newman is best remembered for artfully positioning painters amongst easels, sculptors amongst statues and Stockhausen amidst tones of machines that pretty much make him look like he’s hiding inside a space ship. However, Newman’s most affecting works are perhaps his black and white stills of the American rural working classes. Our photo editor spent about an hour yesterday staring at ‘Walls and Ladders: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1939’ shaking his head and mumbling incomprehensibly about “the Germanicness of his spatial awareness”. Or something. Have a look for yourself. It’s pretty great.


I Am Blind And My Dog Is Dead
Sam Gross
Publisher: Overlook Press

Sam Gross wasn’t really like other cartoonists of his generation. Gross was neither his real family name nor a name of choice but a name forced on the Putkovic’s as they entered Ellis Island on their way into New York escaping the Urals. Gross’s disturbing, embittered, one frame sketches would gain him a name amongst his New Yorker contemporaries that would eventually propel him to editorship of National Lampoon Magazine and bizarrely a staff job on Sesame Street. I guess the latter role explains a lot of the borderline insanity involved in a kids show featuring a giant talking bird, a monster whose sole sustenance was cookies, a numerically obsessed vampire and a gay monobrowed couple. Here, for the first time in 30 years, is a hardbound collection of the work that must of caught Jim Henson’s eye including widows committing suicide with their cats, witches giving birth to ginger bread men and almost Shrigley-esque line drawings underscored with bleak “This Is The End Of The Line” maxims. Creepy guy.


Torpedo Volume One
Publisher: Falcon Vs Monkey

Woah. A new quarterly compendium of short fiction and illustrated narrative storytelling is a pretty brave endeavor. A new quarterly compendium of short fiction and illustrated narrative storytelling coming out of Australia just seems a bit much. Don’t those guys just sheer sheep and moan about dingoes eating their babies all day before running people over after rolling out of the drive through ‘bottle shop’ with six crates of Thooeys New (NO ONE actually drinks Fosters in Australia, like all other sane people they recognize that stuff for the goats piss it is)? Turns out: nope. Instead they produce sleek, handsome volumes of new work by great writers like Jim Shepard, some stuff by writers you will have never heard of like Ronnie Scott and some amazing illustration work particularly by some guy called Tim Malloy. All of this for $20 AUS, which is about a five pounds last time I checked and you will get far more from Torpedo than you will spending a fiver on that boneless box that Colonel Sanders keeps tempting you with on TV every day. Trust me. The box just cost me two days locked in a toilet razoring out my innards. Never again.


Vanessa Del Rio: Fifty Years of Slightly Slutty Behavior
Publisher: Taschen

Despite every effort to dress this terrifying woman’s indiscretions up as personal expression and an attempt to liberate the female self from the prevailing cultural constraints of the period this lavishly presented lunk of dead tree never fails to come across as anything other than as sordid as a five quid wank in a peep show booth. Which is probably exactly the kind of thing the lady herself would have reveled in. I mean come on, how are you going to follow through on the introductions premise that Del Rio is some kind of role model for repressed minorities when on every other page she’s being repressed orally, anally and vaginally by massive white cocks. And when she isn’t being slapped around the face by hairy 70’s porn star shlong she’s being hailed as “the person I most dreamed of having sex with” by a guy who named himself after a cartoon, (allegedly) killed a man, rapped about killing other men and directed his own awful attempts at pornography before relapsing into making huge amounts of money simply by being unable to say words like anyone else. All of this said, if you shell out £300 you do get a copy sealed with a kiss from Vanessa herself, which really is kind of cool. I bet Snoop has ten copies on pre-order.


James Knight

Irons Interview

Here is an interview with punk rock supergroup Irons for Vice.

The word ‘supergroup’ is both a little a gay and a lot overused. Anytime Carl Barat picks up a guitar and jumps onstage with David Coulthard-head guy from Razorlight down the Old Shaggy Tin Pot, or wherever it is those guy hangs out these days, it only serves to sully the legitimate use of the word. If your band is made up of Jake Bannon from Converge, the artists Stephen Kasner and our old chum Dwid Van Hellion (he of Integrity, Roses Never Fade and a thousand apocryphal tales that have been circulating around hardcore for about 20 years) then you can go right ahead and take out ownership of the word. You can have the MySpace, the patent, the copyright, the lot. Dwid told us about the project over a month ago but when we asked him if we could interview him about it he wasn’t so into it. This might have something to do with us writing frothingly about Integrity almost ceaselessly but either way we had a chat with Kasner and Bannon about their new “collaborative, cinematic. nonlinear, ethereal” project.

VICE: How do you get anything done without ever hanging out together?
Jacob Bannon: I wouldn't say there is a classifiable role for each of us in this project. Individually we are creating music then passing it on to one another. Each of us then adds our own elements to the song, building each song into a true collaborative effort. It's a unique approach to music writing for sure.

What collectively inspires you?
Stephen Kasner: I think the desire to exorcise some of our darkest ideas in unison. We all trust that our worldviews are equally unsettled and filled with regret and a general mistrust of the herd. Also a fascination with the 'spirit' of the killer, and whether that spirit is really naturally 'wrong' in what it does and is.

What is about killers that interests you?
Stephen Kasner: I am not quick to judge them, I do not see such a black and white line in who they are, what they do and why they do it. To me, it is a part of nature. There is nothing more or less natural than architecture or killing but the architects were boring to me so I went with the serial killers.

Who’s your favourite serial killer of all time?
Stephen Kasner: John Gacy. We had a phone dialogue. He used to call me constantly every two or three days, like clockwork. Horny guy, he would pretend I was Jonny Depp and ask what I was wearing. I have all this on tape. I had to actually tell him to STOP calling. My phone bill was off the charts, as he had to call collect every time.

It sounds like you almost developed a friendship with him?
Stephen Kasner: He liked me a lot and trusted me it seemed. He called me just days before he was executed. He was trying to get me, based on my request, the leather car coat he was wearing when he was arrested. I told him how much I liked it and he said he thought his sister had it and he would get it for me as a 'going away present’.

Ohhhhkaaaay, aside from mass murderers what else influences the band?
Stephen Kasner: I think the spine of the band's personality is based around the concept of apocalypse and staring at the inevitability of our apocalypse. We are living in an ignorant, sado-masochist world bent on its own destruction out of sheer stupidity.


i-D February Review

Here is a review I did for i-D in February:


The winds and desolate empty spaces of Ladyhawk’s native British Columbia echo throughout this assured, sepia stained document of ragged americana. The ghostly reverb drenched guitars of My Morning Jacket and the bucolic paens of Jason Molina’s Songs Ohio loom large but throughout 10 minute closer ‘Ghost Blues’ Ladyhawk conjour up a monster of their very own.

i-D January Review

Here's a review I did for i-D in January.

The Mae Shi
Moshi Moshi

It seems like just yesterday that these LA spazz-sticles were leaping off speakers into sweaty basements full of kids while playing a neurotic amalgam of synth-screamo and beat-driven punk funk. Six years on from such scenes and along with Ex-Models the Mae Shi are rightfully revered as fathers of the currently thriving Los Angeles revival. Much like the scene they helped spawn the bands strength lies in an innocent wrestlessness and disregard for formal constraint reflected in their fidgety, bleeping 2 minute mini-masterpieces A band to be treasured.

Cloak/Dagger Interview

Interview with the Jade Tree punk band Cloak/Dagger for Vice Magazine.

Cloak/Dagger Look Backwards To Move Forward

The problem with punk is that it’s almost a self-limiting form of music. It’s very difficult to innovate within the limited boundaries of a three chords without either totally divorcing yourself from the sound you set out to make (see Cave In’s “Jupiter”, an incredible record but dude, that sounds like Rush not Crass) or just becoming a steaming, festering pile of self-obsessed nothingness (most of the rest of the Hydra Head catalogue). Of course some bands can manage it by sheer will and songwriting talent. Fucked Up’s “Hidden World” concept LP and “Year Of The Pig” 18 minute 12” somehow managed to do exciting things within the traditional form but landmark records don’t grow on trees. There is however, another option left to those who want to make a truly great punk record 30 years after “Hey, Ho, Let’s Go”. That’s to just say fuck it, take the template and play it harder, faster and better than everyone else. I’m not sure what their name means but Cloak/Dagger are a four piece from Richmond Virginia who play early 80’s LA inspired hardcore better than anyone I’ve heard since forever. Think Battalion Of Saints, Adolescents and of course Black Flag with guitar parts that sometimes go so fast they border on Swami-style riff-rock and it all goes it bit Hot Snakes. The frills are never excessive though and it’s rare for the band to see the far side of two minutes with Flag remaining the constant anchor. They even have a song that is basically their version of “Clocked In” called “Set The Alarm” but who cares if you can hear where something comes from if it’s so good it makes you not even want to bother returning to the original?

VICE: Would it be fair to say that you are all into bands that came out of Southern California in the late 70’s early 80’s?
Adam Juresko (bass): No. I would say more Polka and interpretive dance.
Jason Mazzola (vocals): And online dating.
Colin Kimble (drums): Yep, that was how we formed. It was basically like a big online lonely hearts coincidence.
Adam: That and a shared total disregard for personal hygeine. I am currently the most highly regarded in that sphere though as I lost my bag for the duration for almost all of our mainland Europe shows. I left it in Germany on like the first date. We did this big loop around the whole place and I got back and some kid still had it. Hungary was a fun place to be smelly. They threw beer at us and there was a guy breathing fire and I couldn’t care less.
Colin Kimble: Not as weird as Poland though. There they all just sat down on chairs and watched us like we were a folk act. Real weird.
Adam: None of these things suck as bad as having to pay six pounds or whatever for a packet of cigarettes like we do here though.

So no musical influences then? Just smelling and cigarette prices?
Adam: Right. Dancing, online dating and smelling.
Colin Barth (guitars): I also played in Journey. That helped.
Jason: And Adam likes Bold.
Colin Kimble: Sometimes we disagree about how much we like the Germs. We’ve never been able to agree so they may be an influence but maybe not.

Would you say that as a band you are indecisive?
Adam: Yes.
Colin Barth: No.
Jason: Maybe.

Cloak/Dagger’s debut LP “We Are” is available now on Jade Tree


Circle Jams