Fresh outta high school, Astro Cowboy releases Hedonism Colosseum
Wilmington indie rockers, Astro Cowboy, released their first full length album last weekend titled Hedonism Colosseum. Complete with a release party at Bourgie Nights in Wilmington on July 12th, the band handed out a hundred free copies of their album and also released it on bandcamp the following day.
Hedonism Colosseum explores the feelings, relationships, drama, and juvenile joy of being in high school. As the band writes on their bandcamp page:
"Remember when you thought that high school was going to last forever? When you thought that it was the apex of real? Every relationship, decision, and action you made, you thought was going to remain relevant and important for the rest of your life? This album is the result of those feelings."
The album features 10 brand new, original songs. It includes the heavier, punk influenced songs like “White Shoes" and "Suntan" which share a similar sound with the band’s first EP Rat-Man Vann, but on more than a couple tracks, such as “Inhale" and "Goodbye, A.E.G." the band takes instrumental explorations with intricate guitar riffs and drum fills that sound reminiscent of Modest Mouse’s The Lonesome Crowded West.
All in all this is a very solid record, and my only complaint is that it’s not longer! Clocking in at 40 minutes, the end of this album leaves the listener wanting more.
Astro Cowboy follows the release of their album with an East Coast tour supporting fellow Wilmington band, Museum Mouth.
One of the best parts of North Carolina’s music scene is the familial vibes that go around. Some have described it as an “incestuous” community where lineups are interchangeable, band members come and go, but everyone feeds off of one another. So what happens when one of the area’s most beloved songwriters decides to go on his own and craft an album entirely on his lonesome…well something along the lines of Weller.
Nathan Toben has long been a fixture of the North Carolina music scene. Years ago he could be spotted in rhythm sections for acts like Wild Wild Geese or Americans in France, but he’s best known for being the mysterious front man for The Toddlers. The Toddlers received constant praise from musicians and concertgoers alike for their dark, dreamy pop songs that propelled them to opening spots for acts like Lost in the Trees and The Love Language. But once the band released their full-length debut they seemed to die out with a whimper. Now nearly half a year later Nathan Toben has resurfaced as the sole member of Weller, an incredible music expedition into the depths of “studio magic” and the inner-expanses of one man’s mind.
Toben joined Grant Golden in the studio for Carolina Grown two weeks ago to discuss the inspiration behind his concept album 1, a piece of work that’s as brooding as it is groovy. Compelled by the age-old concept of the four elements, Toben teamed up with Wesley Wolfe (who covered most of the production for the album) to crank out an album’s worth of introspective pop brilliance. Throughout the hour Toben discussed the songwriting process behind these tracks, his inspiration for making this a studio exclusive project (meaning no live shows) and what we can expect to hear from the esteemed songwriter in the near future.
Listen below for some selected tracks from Weller’s debut full-length and the full conversation:
MYKKI BLANCO feat. TENNIS RODMAN and discovery djs
This performance was by far one of the most spectacular nights I’ve had all summer, and it all happened thanks to these rising artists of Raleigh.
The show began with the Discovery DJs spicing the crowd up with some irresistibly catchy club beats. Tennis Rodman took it from there with his experimental mash-up of hip-hop, rap, beats and dance. His energetic personality emerged as he spit a diverse range of aggressive rap styles and beat production to the crowd.
Next, Mykki Blanco sat amongst the crowd as a casual participant and quickly began his show with an attention grabbing poem filled with drama. His performance ranged from sarcastic and narcissistic tirades of gender confusion to theatrical explosions that included eating a microphone and having a voluntary seizure on the sticky concrete floor. Mykki Blanco had me constantly entertained with not only his mastery of performance art, but also with the interesting commentary in his lyrics and the various ways of executing them. This included acappellas or mosh-instigating rap styles that offered outrageous and unexpected performances that made me laugh or feel uncomfortable at times. Nonetheless, I can surely say that everyone at the show had a crazy night.
After being abroad for the Spring semester, last week’s LBLB was my first one of 2014, and it was the perfect re-introduction to what WKNC, Tir na Nog, and Raleigh has to offer.
The first act, Beauty World, was a great cello and guitar duo with a guest drummer towards the end. They created a soothing, yet energetic atmosphere that was emphasized by the cool blue lighting.
Once Curtis Eller took the stage, the party kicked into high gear as the unusual band composition of banjo, upright bass, trombone/accordion, drums, and two backup signers. The audience was moved to dance by songs about Abe Lincoln, Elvis Presley, and other American historical figures. This circus really knew how to bring the energy to this Irish pub.
Throw in a French Broad Brewery tasting that went on in the back and this Thursday night was complete.
Want tickets to the Fray tonight? Here’s your chance! Tweet to us/reblog this post/share our facebook post with answers to these questions, as well as contact info. All the answers can be found somewhere on this blog.
1. Who played at our Play It Safe benefit in May?
2. How many college stations aired the #SaveWRAS simulcast?
A Hunky-Dory Musical Experience at NC Museum of Art
NC Museum of Art (NCMA) amphitheater is a beautiful place to experience music. You can ride your bike there, enjoy a picnic on the lawn, and choose to stand in the pit. The sunset added a colorful tone to start the evening. And the breeze lightly shook the maple trees surrounding the venue adding additional resonance to the aural experience.
Before settling down with my WKNC co-patriot, C. Biscuit, I spoke to a few old friends before Angel Olsen set the mood. ”Angel Olsen is amazing…Her last album is one of my favorites…you’ve got to look her up.” After ‘enlightening’ some people I sat down for Angel to serenade me.
Instead of the emotional force I’m used to hearing, Angel sounded like a wimpy high school girl performing in front of her chorus class for her Sophomore year choral exam. After two songs the audience completely lost interest, and within seconds the audience was louder than she was. I hate people who talk and talk and talk during performances, but I really couldn’t blame the audience this time. It was as if Angel thought her assignment was to play background music for an ex-hippy summer solstice gathering. After ending her small set I pondered the many factors in her life that could have caused this off performance.
And then Iron & Wine went on. Iron & Wine was hunky-dory. His melodies don’t tend to push the status quo and they rhythm mirrors the demographics of NCMA (old white people). That being said Samuel Beam’s voice affects the soul like Vix-Vapor-Rub, you just can’t help but be affected. I enjoyed his music at base of the stage and danced to what ever rhythm my body could take away from his melancholy music.
Phian interviewed Laney Jones before they played their show at Tir Na Nog Irish Pub’s Local Band Local Beer night. They also played four songs: Devil Down, Broken Hearts, Black Coffee and Rock-a-Bye Sea.
Laney Jones will be in North Carolina again on July 26th, playing a show in Charlotte at the Belk Lounge at PNC Music Pavilion.
Phian interviewed Birds With Fleas before they played their show at Tir Na Nog Irish Pub’s Local Band Local Beer night. They also played four songs: Molly, Take Me Back, The Fire’s Burning, and The Monster.
In this episode of Eye On The Triangle Extra, Technician correspondent sits in for Kairsten Fay.
This episode’s local stories highlight NCSU provost Warwick Arden serving as senior vice president for academic affairs and Raleigh’s Burning Coal theater being awarded the A.J. Fletcher grant in support of the Iron Curtain trilogy.
For international news, this episode highlights the US tying with Portugal in their second World Cup match, a recent report finding veterans receiving inadequate psychiatric care at VA hospitals, remaining Syrian weapon stockpiles being shipped out of the country and John Kerry’s visit to Iraq.
Whoever does not listen to Dr. Dog is missing out. Dr. Dog’s folky, bluesy grooves speak to everyone. Most people found Dr. Dog after their release of Fate in 2008, but they’re still continuing to astonish people with their relaxing nostalgic melodies, beautiful harmonies, and killer blues ballads.
My evening began with the astonishment of the band The Districts. Also from PA, this band killed with their indie rock. Then, after a few more PBR’s, I dove into the depths of the crowd to find a comfortable spot to groove. And did I groove… Dr. Dog’s silly outfits, their duel frontmen, and their ability to completely change their songs kept everyone in a emotional trance. They played many songs off Be the Void, but my favorite song they played was “Shadow People”, off Shame Shame.
Their latest album B-Room holds some amazing tunes despite not quite living up to their previous album Be the Void. I struggle when I try to answer “Who is your favorite band?” But by Golly Gee Wilikers, I just can’t help saying Dr. Dog is my favorite indie rock band of all time!!
WHY DID I NOT GO TO THIS SHOW!!! But seriously, Tycho’s last album “Awake” is probably the most inspiring album this year.
Going for a long drive? Listen to “Awake.” Studying? Listen to “Awake.” Crab fishing in Alaska and rough seas got you sea sick? Listen to “Awake.” Most electo- trance -(poppy) music like this will be amazing all the time, but what makes the album beautiful is the distinction between all the songs. Each one has a certain mood affiliated with it.
Please download this album as you swim through the introspective heat waves of the summer.
In this episode of Eye on the Triangle extra, host Kairsten Fay is joined by Technician correspondent Sara Awad.
This episode includes stories on students graduating from the Governor Morehead School for the blind, NCSU retiring the “This is Our State” slogan, research on sustainable strawberry production, North Carolina’s move to repeal common core teaching standards, World Cup fans being forced to switch seats after stadium building delays, and Taliban militants admitting they were behind Sunday’s attack at Karachi International Airport.
Karisten Fay will be back in two weeks with a new episode of Eye on the Triangle.
In this special podcast extra, new Eye on the Triangle host Kairsten Fay highlights budget cuts facing the N.C. State libraries, a fired University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill professor, NCSU research helping pilots fly better, Durham Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center employees placed on administrative leave, and a new e-cigarette brand from Reynolds American.
I had high hopes for the Drumstrong Rhythm & Arts Festival this past weekend, and it most definitely did not disappoint. Right from the get go, the music was solid. Starting off running with Modern Primitives on Friday afternoon, and ending with Dom Flemmons Sunday night, everyone’s musical pallets should have been whetted. From indie to bluegrass to electronic and nearly everything in between, Drumstrong definitely covered their bases with this lineup. The shortest setlist award goes to The Mantras, whose 30+ minute jam on Saturday definitely got the crowd’s interest. HRVRD’s creative use of looping and vocal effects was a crowd favorite on Friday night, and Railroad Earth blew the non-existent roof off the festival during their Saturday night headline slot. There were plenty of bands local to the triangle that showed up as well. Lost in the Trees, American Aquarium, Chatham County Line, and The Love Language just to name a few.
Not only was the music fantastic, but the artists and vendors had something to offer people of every taste. Including talented painters like Sarah Goodyear, and even handmade drum vendors, the amount and quality of local crafts was extremely high. Sponsorship from PBR and Starr Hill Brewery in addition to multiple food trucks from the Charlotte area meant that refreshments were of quality and in high supply. All of these elements, along with the pleasant location of Misty Meadows farm set a great backdrop to a great festival that offered much more than great music.
Then there was the drum circle. Starting off at about 3:00 on Saturday afternoon, a huge crowd gathered underneath the tent with drums, tambourines, cowbells, and five gallon buckets in hand. For the next 24 hours, everyone drummed non-stop while the entire event was broadcast worldwide. As people got tired, and as hands got blistered, people would switch off and take breaks. However, there were always a few people always willing to drum through the night, and into the early morning. Catching up on Sunday afternoon, we were able to witness the culmination of this year’s efforts, into an almost deafening roar of percussion as the clock counted down to zero. When the 24 hour mark was reached everyone stopped in unison, which left a strange silence after the constant pulse that had been present. I think that it’s safe to say that this year’s Drumstrong Rhythm & Arts Festival was a big success, and here’s hoping to an even bigger weekend next year.
- Ben Goodson
The Main Stage at Drumstrong
I spent this past weekend at the Drumstrong Rhythm and Arts Festival. Upon arriving at the festival grounds, I was surprised at how big the stage setup was. There were huge banners in front of the speaker stacks, ample stage lights, and huge soundboards. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect music-wise, having only heard a few songs by the artists on the bill, but I heard a lot of good music that weekend. Here’s a rundown of some of my favorite acts that played.
Jesse Clasen of HRVRD
The first band that threw me for a loop was the Friday night headliner, HRVRD. They’re a Charlotte-based band that plays a darker style of indie rock and alludes to post-hardcore at times (thinking of Circa Survive). The bassist and drummer did a fantastic job of holding down the mood of their songs. Meanwhile, the lead guitarist laid down some gloomy-sounding chords. Awesome set from these guys.
Miami Dice throwing it down
Miami Dice is an electro-pop group that makes reference to the 80’s in both style and sound. They somewhat remind me of CFCF, a band I remember enjoying quite a lot in past years. Miami Dice’s slightly odd stage act is worth mentioning. They come fully equipped with blazers, Ray-bans, and backup dancers. They played a very danceable set on Friday night, and I’m interested in seeing what they’ll do in the future.
Futurebirds are a laid-back country rock band off of Fat Possum Records. Their extended song lengths give ample time for vibing out, and it’s hard for me to not imagine their practice space being a big barn somewhere in rural Georgia.
Dave Wilson of Chatham County Line
Chatham County Line are a renowned bluegrass outfit from the Triangle region. Their set Saturday did not disappoint, and it’s clear that they were some of the most skilled musicians at the whole festival. They just released their sixth album this week, entitled “Tightrope”, off of Yep Roc Records.
Joe Pug Trio
Joe Pug is a singer-songwriter currently based out of Austin, TX, and the guy knows his way around a folk song. The first song he played Sunday was “Hymn #35”, a contemplative tune that comes off like a riddle. From that moment I knew I was going to enjoy his set. His music has themes of vagrancy and regret, and his narrative lyric style is reminiscent of Bob Dylan. Pug has also stated literary influences of John Steinbeck and Walt Witman. Definitely check this guy out if you’re looking for some good folk.
I look forward to seeing what the guys over at Drumstrong have in store for next year!
In the last week of March this year, Of Montreal announced the dates of their upcoming US tour. This band performed in 18 states across the nation and at 27 venues. Starting March 29th and concluding May 18th, Cat’s Cradle was the last destination for of Montreal and their opening act, Dream Tiger. As the adage goes, these groups saved the best for last.
The show last night could be described as “unreal” on many different levels. Before Kevin Barnes and company (of Montreal) took the stage, Dream Tiger started off the night with songs from their two relatively recent EPs: “Soft Skin” and “A Lover’s Request.” Dream Tiger and of Montreal only performed together for the last eight days of the tour. Considering the complementary sounds of the two groups, was unfortunate for the venues played before May 10th.
Of Montreal’s setlist was all over the board, featuring a variety of songs from their most recent albums as well as earlier compilations released in 2007 and earlier. The performance by of Montreal was bizarre yet enjoyable as most of the songs included masquerading, costumed dancers on stage. The feel of the show was animated, carnivalesque, and abstract, providing captivating visuals the entire time. Did I know what was going on during the entirety of the show? Absolutely not. Did I have a great time and enjoy the entertaining artists? Absolutely.
This North Carolina college radio collaboration features the excellent grrrl punks that are See Gulls, and our much beloved friend T0W3RS, who you may recognize from DBB11, FOTL, or The Lounge.
WKNC is more than excited to be joined among such great company for such a great cause. Of course we are also more than psyched to be dancing our shoes off to these two great local acts. Let’s throw some french fries!
The liveliest season of the year is rolling in as cultural and arts festivals are picking up in the Triangle. One of the biggest art festivals in Raleigh is Artsplosure.
This year, Artsplosure is celebrating its 35th anniversary. Centered at Moore Square in Downtown Raleigh, the festival will feature hundreds of inspiring and entertaining family-friendly events over the next two days. Activities and exhibits include the Art Market, Kidsplosure, aerialists and other performers, as well as a variety of both national and local musical acts.
Artsplosure is one of my favorite spring festivals here in Raleigh. It brings out the best in the local scene by promoting up-and-coming artists and performers. Come check it out! It’s an easy and fun way to spend your weekend.
For more information on Artsplosure, you can visit http://raleighartsfestival.com/ .
If great bands, a garden of beer, and a 24 hour non-stop drum circle sound good to you, then you probably belong at the DRUMSTRONG Rhythm and Arts Festival that kicks off this Friday, May 16th. Not only is it going to be full of some great events, but it’s for a good cause too. That’s right everyone, we’re not just drumming because it’s fun (even though it is), we’re drumming to beat cancer. This whole event aims to work in honor, in memory, and in support of cancer patients and cancer solutions worldwide.
That being said, the people at DRUMSTRONG sure know how to put on a benefit. Starting at 11:00 AM on Friday, the fields of Misty Meadows Farm in Weddington, NC will be transformed into the location for three days of great music, arts, games, and 24 hours of non-stop yoga and drumming. That’s right, the 24 hour, non-stop drum circle kicks off at 3:00 p.m. Saturday and runs through 3:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Don’t worry if you forgot to pack your handy djembe either, as there are plenty of drums on site for rent or purchase. It’s sure to be an amazing event, and one that will be broadcast live throughout the world for everybody to join in.
DRUMSTRONG is also set to satisfy even the most varied music lover. From Kopecky Family Band to That Guy Smitty, and everyone in between, the schedule is all around solid. Even a couple local DBB artists from this past year are showing up courtesy of The Love Language and Bombadil. The full schedule and lineup can be found here: http://www.drumstrong.com/schedule/ I’m personally excited to see The Business People, but I may be biased because I went to high school with their drummer. Needless to say, it’s primed to be an exciting three days. So if you haven’t gotten tickets yet, it’s not too late to head over to http://www.drumstrong.com/tickets/ and pick up a single day, or weekend pass. See you there!
The first day of Drumstrong is this Friday. The annual music festival takes place at Misty Meadows Farm, just outside of Charlotte. Misty meadows is just about a mile from where I grew up in Weddington, North Carolina, an area full of horse farms and sprawling suburbs. You can expect to hear both rural and urban music styles, anything from funk and electronic, to indie rock and americana. Bands reign from Charlotte, the Triangle, and all around the east coast.
Friday afternoon will feature some local Charlotte rock bands (HRVRD, Junior Astronomers, Pullman Strike, and The Modern Primatives). Then, later Friday night, electronic music producers Marley Carroll and Miami Dice will be playing some sets.
I’m looking forward to Saturday afternoon the most. DBB11 artists Bombadil and The Love Language will be playing, along with the indie rock groups Lost in the Trees and Futurebirds. As the afternoon wanes, things will shift to bluegrass and americana with Chatham County Line and American Aquarium.
On the whole, Drumstrong’s lineup looks very promising this year, with great acts playing each day. The music is non-stop, as there will be a DJ playing between sets, and the drum circle is sure to be a swell time! View the full lineup below.
Grandma Sparrow stopped by the studio for an interview and a video session to help give us an inside look into the land of Piddletractor, which is the land in which Grandma Sparrow and all of the characters in his debut album reside. The album is due out next week on Spacebomb Records.
Joe Westerlund, who is Grandma Sparrow, is most well known for his work with Megafaun, DeYarmond Edison, Mount Moriah, Califone, Gayngs, and more. This new project he has undertaken he says has been something that he has been working on his entire life whether he realized it or not. The land of Piddletractor contains tales and characters that are drawn from across his life while the album shows his pure genius as a wordsmith and musician. With many different descriptions being thrown around, Joe described it the most concisely as a “psychedelic children’s song-cycle for adults.”
Check out the full interview as we discuss the inspiration for this project, the land of Piddletractor, and the process behind the album. Be sure to also check out his performance of “Grandma’s Song for You” in The Lounge to get a taste of what’s to come in his upcoming shows this weekend leading up to the album’s release.
-May 16: Coalition Theater, Richmond, VA with improv comedy by Pigeon -May 17: The Pinhook, Durham, NC with Alexandra Sauser-Monnig (of Mountain Man) and Matthew E. White (DJ Set) -May 18: The Pinhook, Durham, NC (Sunday Brunch) with Alexandra Sauser-Monnig (of Mountain Man)
I caught up with Tim Presley, the man behind White Fence, at Phuzz Phest before his set that night at Krankie’s Coffee. We sat down by the railroad tracks and talked for a while about his writing and recording process, punk ethos, the DIY aesthetic, and some other cool stuff. He just announced his new album, To The Recently Found Innocent, which was produced by Ty Segall and is due out on Drag City July 22nd. Check out the full interview below:
Michael (WKNC): How are you doing today?
Tim Presley (White Fence): I’m doing very well. Thank you very much.
M: So what brings you out to Phuzz Phest? How did this come about?
T: I got an email about us playing it, and it seemed like a cool thing to do. I like looked back at past events. It seemed cool. We don’t really play North Carolina besides Asheville. And so it just seemed like a fun thing. They flew us and treated us good. You know it sounded like a good idea.
M: Yeah there are some really great dudes who run this festival. They are doing some cool stuff and it gets better and better every year.
T: I actually kind of know Anthony. Is that his name? From easy tiger? He runs the record store.
M: Yeah, yeah.
T: I met him a long time ago in San Francisco because that’s where he was living before here. So that was like some small world shit. So yeah then I saw that No Age, who we know from Los Angeles, and Kool Keith were playing, so it seemed like the deal just kept on getting sweeter.
M: Yeah. So is there anyone you are going to get a chance to see tonight that you are excited about?
T: Ex-cult from Memphis. They are friends of ours too and they are a great band.
M: Yeah they always put on a heavy show. So I wanted to talk to you a little bit about your recording process. You were in a couple different bands. You were in a punk band starting out, The Nerve Agents, then the psych band Darker My Love. So what made you want to take off and do your own thing?
T: What made me change? I don’t know, I like music and I thought at that time the whole punk rock thing got swallowed up and became too many rules. And I liked a lot of other kinds of music anyways. So in my heart, I’m like a hardcore punk dude. But I don’t know, I don’t think there is anything applying that ethic and ethos to any type of music. And as far as like DIY, I believe in that and that’s what White Fence is pretty much. I record the music at home and I don’t have to answer or compromise to anybody and to me that’s kind of like punk in a way. You know? Music is music; it’s good or it’s bad. It doesn’t need to have a label like that.
M: Yeah, yeah definitely. You can have a difference of lifestyle and music. They don’t have to be the same.
T: Yeah, yeah. And as far as changing musically, I just thought that I could apply this aesthetic to any type of music. I mean I know hardcore dudes who act like fucking rock stars. You know what I mean? It’s all weird. I’m still like a punk dude, I think.
M: Right. So you’re from San Francisco right?
T: Yeah the Bay Area.
M: Alright so how would you describe the music scene there?
T: Well I moved to LA 10 years ago before everyone started moving there (laughs). And like back when I did it, people probably considered me kind of like a sell-out for doing it and now everyone is doing it so I guess someone’s got to be a martyr (laughs). So to be honest, I don’t really know because a lot of the music that was from San Francisco moved down to LA. But there are still awesome bands in San Francisco you know? So no love lost there really. It’s still good.
But yeah there’s still a lot of awesome bands you know? Just because a couple dudes move doesn’t mean that music is dead. And in fact, I think because a lot of people are moving because of financial issues because it is becoming very expensive to live there that’s almost like a good thing. Like almost like how Reaganomics was in the 80s. And that’s a horrible thing, but it will make for good music I think. Because people are pissed and angry people tend to make good music.
M: Yeah, yeah that’s definitely been true throughout history. So you’ve released records on a couple different labels? How did that kind of come about?
T: Well, the first record was put out by a friend Eric and it was on Make A Mess, the first LP.
M: Yeah that was the self-titled right?
T: Yeah, he just pressed a 1000 of those and he just wanted to put it out which was awesome. And then Woodsist wanted to do the next one and then our relationship kind of started from there. And then I did a couple records with them, then did a record with Castle Face, then just finished a new one and that’s going to be on Drag City.
M: That’s awesome! So how did you meet the Woodsist guys, how did that relationship form?
T: Oh, well it’s not a very good story. I think it was like over the computer. (laughs) You know? Like they dug the record and contacted me over email.
M: That’s awesome that someone believes in your music that much to just reach out to you over the internet and want to put out your stuff.
T: Well I had met Kevin, who’s the bass player in Woods and he has this band The Babies and he has his own Kevin Morby solo thing now. But he was kind of like the broker between me and Jeremy, the owner of the label and he’s also the main dude it Woods. So yeah, it’s not that good of a story.
M: (Laughs) Well that works. So you mentioned earlier the album that was released on Drag City which was the collaboration with Ty Segall. How did that collaboration come about?
T: To be honest, I think he was just a fan of the first two white fence records and he came up to me and asked if I would be interested in doing a split record. So I was like, “Yeah sure whatever.” And it was kind of always in the back of my mind. Then I ran into him again and he was like, “We should do it,” and then we were just kind of like, “Yeah let’s do it!” And I just thought it was going to be like, he takes the A side and I’ll take the B side kind of thing. But then we got together and started writing songs and it turned into a total collaboration as if it were a band you know? And it’s kind of like a band basically, between me and him. Like its total equal creativity which is awesome, seeing as I thought it was going to be totally separate you know? But it turns out that we work really well together
It’s really strange like… Like we could speak different languages. Like he could speak French and I could speak Ethiopian or something and it doesn’t matter. And it doesn’t matter because when it comes right down to the music part of it. It’s totally like the same language, and it’s like really strange. It’s rare.
M: So did you know him at all before you started working on that record or was that really your first experience with him?
T: I mean kind of but not really. I mean I had seen him play a couple times and met him in bars. But we weren’t like chums you know?
M: Okay so that collaboration was kind of your first experience together. So what was it like, meeting each other in a studio like that?
T: Well like I said, we didn’t really talk that much because there wasn’t really much to talk about besides, “We’re going to do this.” And that was all that needed to be said. Then we just got together and sat down and wrote a song. And it just kind of went back and forth. You know? Like the first song that we worked on was “Scissor People” that’s on that record. I was like, “Check this riff out.” And he was like, “Cool, check this riff out.” And then we just turned it into a song you know?
M: So was the record done all in the same time frame or was it done over several different periods when you had free time?
T: Yeah but it all went down in a matter of a couple of weeks. Not consecutively, you know but like 6 days here. Or how did it go? I don’t even remember. It happened so fast, I don’t even know. But it wasn’t a long drawn out thing, it was pretty quick. And that’s another thing; we both record and create shit similar. Like write the song. Get it on tape. Done.
M: Yeah because both of you guys write and put out a lot of records in a short amount of time.
T: Yeah and like with that theory of making music, that’s how we both click that way. It’s real easy and fast.
M: So the quick song-writing, is that just something that happens naturally or do you feel this pressure to do that?
T: Well I’ve been on both sides of the coin with that. I was in a band Darker my Love, where we took a lot of time writing a song and a lot of like pre-production and a lot of basically just like dissecting everything. And there’s something to be said for that, but I think I’m the best when I can just get it down immediately. Like for example the other night, I was like going to bed and I thought of an idea. Some would just say like “I’ll remember that tomorrow.” But instead I jumped out of bed and went home and put it down on a little recorder real quick. I have a horrible memory, so I’m just afraid of losing any kind of thing or inspirational moment. You got to get it down as soon as possible or else I’ll just forget. And if you let it go too long, you lose the initial pizzazz that it had. The longer you wait; I feel like the more watered down an idea gets. I don’t know that’s just me though.
M: Yeah I mean it definitely seems to work for you. I love the albums. So how does the writing process work for you?
T: I wake up, walk down the street get coffee, go back to my apartment, smoke a cigarette, and play guitar. And if a song happens, then it happens. And if it doesn’t happen, then I’ll just go back into some old recordings and tweak it more.
M: So how does the recording process work, after you have a song fleshed out?
T: A lot of it, I would say 70% of it, is written on the cuff. Just have a little idea, like maybe a verse or maybe a verse and a chorus, and then just like put it down on tape. And just keep building throughout the day and night or for however long it takes. Yeah that’s the process. It’s different for every song really, but most of the times I try to get it all down before the moment is gone.
M: So do you ever enlist other musicians on the records?
T: No it’s just me. Like if I can’t get a certain drum part right, I will try every means to make that happen. Whether it’s banging two carrots together or something you know? I just try stuff. It’s good, experimenting with what you have or my ability. And I also chop up old drum beats too, which is a secret, but not anymore (laughs). And then tweak them to sound different so I don’t get sued.
M: (laughs) I gotcha. So do you think that has played a lot into your music; the fact that you might not have everything available to you and that it’s just you, as opposed to having everything at your disposal and being able to do whatever you want?
T: I think that part of being creative and inspired is figuring stuff out on your own. So if fit was all there for me, it would take the fun out of it. And plus, when you’re figuring stuff out on your own, you come across happy accidents that you couldn’t calculate. It’s just the moment you know?
M: Yeah. So the final mix on the record, what goes into that? Is it a lot of those spur of the moment recordings where you have an idea and you go down and record it or do you come back and revisit those and re-record them later?
T: I do both. Most of the time, it’s the spur of the moment trying to get the idea down and then add things to it later until it sounds right. But there’s other times where I’m like, “Ah man I wish I had added another chorus or another verse or something.” And then I’ll go back into it. I’ll sometimes re-record but most of the time it’s just spur of the moment. “What you hear is what you get” kind of thing. That was the thought of the day.
M: Okay. You’ve been doing White Fence for a good number of years now. So has the process changed at all during that time?
T: No, I think I’ve just gotten better on the 4 track (laughs).
M: Okay so you’re a big believer in recording that way, just straight to tape.
T: Yeah, yeah. I just think that if I wrote a bunch of songs like normal people and waited a month to go into the studio to record it, I think I would be deluding myself. I think it’d be deluded. Like oh shit there’s a flute right here, I’ll grab it and play it. Or like there’s a shaker here. No one has enough money to get really experimental and weird in the studio, you know?
M: Yeah I really like that idea of getting as close to that point of original inspiration as possible. I think that’s really cool. I think it makes the music more honest.
T: I think so too. Yeah because that’s the emotion and the feel that you have at that second and hopefully it comes across that way on the record. Instead of waiting and like watching the fucking Wire for a week, and then recording.
M: Yeah and I’ve seen it happen to a lot of bands. You hear demos and you see them live and it sounds great. Then it comes out on a studio album a year later and it’s just been so watered down.
T: Yeah see that’s the thing. A lot of people who like good sounding records will think White Fence just sounds like a bunch of demos. And that’s fine because that’s what it is and that’s when the song was hot in the mind. So fidelity wise, if they don’t like it, they can just fuck off, you know? I don’t care. But at least it’s the honest way it should have been, I think. So I don’t really care, I just know that at the end of the day, that’s what that song was supposed to sound like. Whether it sounds like trash or whatever (laughs).
Like you said, you listen to the demos and you’re like, “This is cool.” But by the time you get to the studio record, it’s watered down. That happens all the time. A lot of the times you notice, you get like old records with like bonus tracks which are demos and those sound awesome you know? Sometimes those versions are better.
M: Yeah definitely. So ideally, how would you like someone to hear White Fence for the first time? Would you rather it be at a show or in their room listening to the record?
T: I don’t know, in my mind I’m still like that 22 year old dude who smokes grass all day and listens to albums. So that’s how I would rather it be. I would rather have someone like smoke some weed or something (laughs) or whatever. But just like listen to the album at home whether they are drawing or like they’re knitting or whatever. You know? I’d rather that. Live is another thing. Live is a whole other beast. Like live is like more of a rock and roll thing. Sorry maybe we should pause this.
*train goes by
T: You ever jumped a train?
M: No I haven’t, have you?
T: It seems doable though.
M: Yeah especially this one.
T: Well I think that like the live show is more designed for like a rock and roll show. If I’m at home, I think the vibe is set a different way and those are the records. Live I feel like, if someone is drinking a couple of beers or they’re stoned or they are just there to have a good time, if you amp up the energy a little… To me, that’s what I would want to see I guess. It’s hard to say. But then again and I’ve said it before, but once you get on stage, you kind of get this jolt of like electricity, and you kind of want to rock. Rock is a weird word. I don’t know. The energy is different.
M: Right because the crowd is all into it and you feed off that.
T: Yeah, yeah. It’s just a different energy. At home it’s a more vibe-y thing than live. There’s electricity when you go out; people are talking, people are hanging out. You know? There’s loud music.
M: Yeah. Now is the live setting you think about at all when you are recording or is that something you just worry about when it’s down on the record?
T: Never, never. I used to work like that, and I don’t know if it worked or not. A long time ago, I used to do that like in punk band stuff. Like, “Oh this would be good live.” But I don’t do that anymore.
M: So you just sit down once the record is done with the band and try to translate those songs into the live setting rather than worry about it beforehand?
T: Yeah, once I’ve made the record and we’ve got to play a show. We just kind of go through what songs we think would be cool live or what songs are doable live. Because there’s like a lot of weird stuff going on in the recordings and it’s kind of hard to manipulate you know? So I mean we’re not like Radiohead and we don’t know how to do that shit (laughs). But I think there is a cool beauty to be a little stripped down and add like a rock and roll element to like the live show. It’s kind of like the best of both worlds really. That’s why the live record was cool, because it was a rerecording of those songs that were on the album and they just sound really different to me. I mean you could do that thing where you try to recreate the record, but I feel like that would be really boring and like pretentious or a little too artsy or something. I don’t know.
M: Yeah and I like the fact that the record and the live show are two different entities. Well this is a question that I like to ask all of the bands. So if you could describe the White Fence sound as a room, what would be in the room and what would it look like?
T: Okay hmm. Well I would say one of those Midwestern downstairs basement rooms, carpet, shitty orange couch, amps, a table for drawing, an easel for painting, a cat, and a coffeemaker. (pause) And a jacuzzi, an indoor jacuzzi in the room.
M: (laughs) I could listen to a White Fence album in that room.
T: (laughs) Definitely.
M: Well it’s always interesting to see where people take it. But thanks again for taking the time to talk with me and good luck with the show tonight!