Photo: Randi Hokett
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Mark Linkous first came to make music under the name Sparklehorse when Cracker's David Lowery left his eight-track recorder at Linkous' Virginia home while he went on tour. Linkous recorded many of the instrumental parts for his debut album himself. While the single "Someday I Will Treat You Good" managed to attract media interest, most of Linkous' songs were perhaps too reflective to gain much popular attention. Sparklehorse's fan base in the US is growing with the release of It's a Wonderful Life last year. He is already a staple with the indie crowd and is immensely popular in Europe.
Soon after his debut, Sparklehorse's brand of acoustic alienation began to impress critics in the UK and the US alike. Tragically in 1996, after a London gig opening for Radiohead, Linkous took a few too many Valiums and collapsed in his hotel bathroom, trapping his legs beneath his body. He was found twelve hours later, by which time he had suffered a heart attack and caused bad damage to his leg muscles. Despite fears that he would never recover, Linkous has since made steady progress, performing from a wheelchair with his band.
A quantum leap was made with their excellent second album, Good Morning Spider, and the six-track Distorted Ghost EP, released in February 2000. Then It's A Wonderful Life came out in the summer of 2001 and was on every critic's top ten list. The album was written by Mark Linkous in Virginia, but recorded in Spain and upstate New York. With this record, Linkous worked with producers Dave Fridmann and John Parish. Fridman has recently been accredited to revitalizing the careers of Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips with his lush production skills.
This time out, longtime drummer Scott Minor (a Williamsburg local) contributed to the album as did PJ Harvey, Nina Persson, Adrian Utley, and even Tom Waits supplying a rare guest appearance.
Mark had just finished a short tour (less than ten dates) of the USA when I met him at a cafe in Venice, California early this year. He was very quiet and polite. He currently lives in Enon, Virginia.
AL: The song "It's A Wonderful Life" is like a Walt Disney song. It is so happy and cheerful. Is it supposed to be ironic?
Mark: In a way. I got fed up with people in America thinking that my music is morose and depressing and all that. That song is like a "fuck you" to journalists, or people who are not smart enough to see what it is. But in the end, it was more about how everyday, you should pick up something, no matter how minuscule or microscopic it is, and when you go to bed, you can say I was glad that I was alive to see that. That's really what it's about.
AL: What is it like living in Virginia?
Mark: I live in a big, old farmhouse. There's no town. There's nothing there. There are a lot of animals and motorcycles. It's quiet. It's the antithesis of Los Angeles. It's an hour from Richmond. Richmond is the biggest city in Virginia. Where I am, there's nothing but farmers. Country people.
AL: Where does your family come from?
Mark: They really come more from Southwestern Virginia, from Dickinson County. Where the Stanley Brothers are from.
That part of Virginia is really different. There's a corner where it meets Kentucky and Tennessee. The mountains are really steep. People rarely leave. They are born and they die there. My father is still down there. He's a coal miner. Both of my grandfathers were coal miners down there as well.
AL: In Enon, what are people's reaction to technology and urban cities like?
Mark: My relatives have never been to any cities. My father has a computer and a digital camera. Down there computers are common. My father is amazed that he can take a photo of himself with his two boys with his digital camera and plug it in to his computer.
AL: What does your family think about what you do?
Mark: They never really understood it until I stopped having to borrow money from them to pay rent. They understand it now that I travel all over the world to play music. They understand now why I do it. They taped it when I was on Craig Kilborn so they could watch it the next day. One of my brothers taped it for them. They don't stay up that late.
AL: How long have you been playing in Europe?
Mark: Since about 1996, when the first record came out, and Radiohead offered to tour with us. I had heard the song "Creep" and I thought that they were all right. That was the only song I had ever heard. After I toured with them, I thought they were one of the greatest pop bands.
AL: What were your recent tours like?
Mark: We played mostly in Europe, in the UK and Ireland. We toured the West Coast of the USA for two weeks. We also toured New York. We did some secret gigs. We did one in Brooklyn, one in Manhattan, and one in Hoboken.
AL: Since Scott Minor lives in Williamsburg, was there a desire to play there?
Mark: When I go to New York these days, I feel more comfortable in Brooklyn than I do in Manhattan. I like Brooklyn. I like Williamsburg and I wanted to play there. When I lived in New York, I lived out in Long Island.
AL: You started working on this record about two years ago?
Mark: Yeah. I have a real bad concept of time. The guy at Capitol who had signed me left. The new guy came and wanted me to work with a producer. I said that I have a real short list of producers that I am willing to work with. There are only a few American records that I have liked the production of recently. Most of them were coming out of Tar Box like Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips. And Mogwai.
AL: Why is that? What is it about the studio and upstate New York?
Mark: I think it has to do with the studio and Dave Fridmann himself. He is the guy who owns it and engineers and plays at Tar Box. He was in Mercury Rev for a while. He was the bass player. I was apprehensive about working with anyone, and Jonathan Donahue from Mercury Rev said that Dave Fridmann is a great collaborator. So that's what we did.
AL: Did you start writing the songs on a four-track?
Mark: It kinda varied. Some songs were recorded in three different studios. Some I would start at home, have a drum machine. Take those tapes to Brooklyn. Replace those drums with real drums that Scott played. Have cellos and violins playing. Take those tapes to Tar Box. It was kind of all over the place. There was also the stuff that was recorded in Spain. I ended up taking those tracks back to Tar Box too and making some overdubs and remixing.
AL: That was with John Parish. How did you meet him?
Mark: I met him when I played with Polly Harvey. Basically I liked him as a person. He produced good records. He was someone I knew I could work with. I had most of the songs written. There weren't specific parts for people to play. I just had the idea to go to Spain. I would be the lead singer. Polly would play guitar. John Parish and Adrian Utley would play on it. We had pretty much the same line up for the songs "Eyepennies" and "Piano Fire."
AL: You have all these other bands like Portishead, The Cardigans, and PJ Harvey on this record. Was the idea to have a supergroup?
Mark: No. It was just from the last three or four years of touring and meeting people. I liked their stuff. I didn't want to make this record in my shack. My studio is literally a one room shack. I didn't want to get tunnel vision, so I wanted to work with other people. I didn't want to play every instrument on every song. I didn't want to be behind the control console the whole time. I wanted to have other people's brains and input involved. I was worried that it might alienate the fans. When I played people early mixes of the song, they assured me that it sounded like Sparklehorse. All the people I asked to be on the record, like Polly and Tom Waits, they are big fans. We are all mutual fans of each other. Everybody knew what to do.
AL: How did you work in the studio with Tom Waits?
Mark: I did this one song that wasn't very good. I sent him a tape so he could do his part. He did and he sent it back, but it got lost in the mail. That was a big loss. That led to doing "Dog Door." I had done the music already but was having difficulty with the words and melody. It was more like a dirge than a pop song. I called Tom. I said "I have this cool sounding track, but I can't finish it. I wonder if you want to take a shot at it?" I sent it to him. He called and said "Yeah, come out here. I got something." I flew out and went to his studio.
AL: The new album "It's A Wonderful Life" is more subtle and quiet. It doesn't have anything like "Pig" which is just like a hard-core punk song.
Mark: I did record some tracks like that. I decided not to use them. I didn't think that they were very good. They didn't seem to fit on the record. Maybe I'm not meant to do those types of songs. I can leave it to Guided By Voices. My next record might be a total rock out record.
AL: Did you play in punk rock bands when you started out?
Mark: I was in the first punk band in Charlottesville, Virginia.
AL: What did it sound like?
Mark: The Buzzcocks. It was punk rock but it was melodic.
AL: The record "It's A Wonderful Life" is being released as an LP by Devil In The Woods. It will have the bonus track "Maxine." Why is that not on the CD?
Mark: Yeah. "Maxine" was inspired partly by when I lived out here in LA and I heard Tom Waits play this old Gavin Bryars tune "Jesus' Blood." It's 45 minutes long. It's a loop of an old man singing a religious hymn. It was partly inspired by that, and also this band I started getting into called Godspeed, You Black Emperor. It's a ten minute instrumental that very subtly builds. I thought it should have been on the original record, but the American label thought it was inappropriate. By that time I was tired of arguing. It's on the EP for "Gold Day." It's on the vinyl edition. As long as it appears.
AL: On this record you don't have those big choruses that everyone can sing along to.
Mark: They do. In Belgium, there are six thousand kids who know every word to every Sparklehorse song. They know every Grandaddy and Flaming Lips song too. I can put out the microphone and the audience can sing the whole song there.
AL: So in America you are looked at as some weird eccentric act?
Mark: Mostly. It's not so bad. For instance, when we toured with Mercury Rev in Europe, I started singing parts of Mercury Rev's "Holes." The lyrics fit in perfect with one of my songs "Spirit Ditch." In the second verse, I would sing the lyrics to "Holes." Everyone would go nuts in Europe. Then I did it here in their hometown and no one noticed.
AL: You are working with Daniel Johnston?
Mark: I am producing his record right now. It's almost finished. It was great. He came up for five days. He had twenty-eight songs. I just taped him singing and playing his piano. Or singing and playing his guitar. Sent him back to Austin. We did it at Sound of Music in Richmond, Virginia. Me and my engineer did a bunch of overdubs and orchestrated the whole thing.
AL: You worked on the "A Camp" record with Nina Persson. What was that like?
Mark: That was a great record. It is number one in Sweden. The single and the album. I am not boasting because I worked on it, but the songs are great. Nina has a beautiful voice. I heard all the songs before I had ever done anything. I tried to talk her out of having me produce it. I though that I would fuck it up. But it came out really good.
AL: What do you think about this focus on "Roots Rock." Many magazines claim you and a few other bands to be part of this movement.
Mark: I don't read any magazines. I am really inspired by really old balladeers. Stuff that was recorded down in that part of Virginia. Old women singing these old songs in their living rooms. They were recorded in the 1940s and 1950s. Did you see "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
AL: Yeah. I have the CD it right here.
Mark: Is "O Death" on there?
AL: Yeah. It's Ralph Stanley.
Mark: I am a distant relative of Ralph Stanley. I am inspired by that sort of stuff.
AL: What about Irish Folk Music and Tinker Music?
Mark: Yeah. When I lived here in Los Angeles and I gave up on music. I moved back to Virginia and started to play traditional Irish music with people. I was fed up with the music scene. It was so nasty out here. That was the height of Glam Rock. Bands like Poison were supposed to be important. Now I can come back and visit and appreciate aspects of it. I like all types of music. I like everything from Kool Keith to Guided By Voices.
AL: Do you have any hobbies? I hear you're into Kung Fu?
Mark: I don't know who wrote that. I ride motorcycles. I grew up riding bikes. But now I just ride in the street. I like old motorcycles.
AL: When I think of your songs, I think of being alone and listening to them on headphones. I start seeing these films. Are you inspired by old movies?
Mark: I wanted the songs on this record to be like these glass balls that they put on graves in Ireland. I wanted this record to sound like those balls look. Like you could reach into it. See all the stuff floating around inside.
AL: When I am dreaming sometimes, I have this tune in my head. It's like the greatest song I ever heard. But I don't remember it as much when I wake up. Does that happen to you?
Mark: All the time. I have heard these blockbusters in my dreams: number one hits. Oh yeah. Always gone. Luckily Capitol leaves me alone.
AL: Do you believe in any religion? I know you had an accident a few years ago.
Mark: Not after that. It never caused any religious awakening. I have always remained sort of agnostic I guess. I believe that there is a God but I don't believe that it can be explained or understood. Whether you are evoking a higher intelligence like God or nature, it can be seen as the same thing. In West Virginia, there are snake handlers. They are a different level. It's very inspiring. Whether it's religion or anything that could do that.
AL: Are there any new bands that you have played with that we should be looking out for?
Mark: There's this Irish girl named Gemma Hayes. I thought she was awesome. She opened for us in Ireland. She will be a big star someday. It's sort of folksy but it gets really loud. She plays her acoustic guitar through a distortion box.
AL: What are you doing for the rest of the year?
Mark: I am going to sell some recording equipment and get some new stuff. Some portable recording equipment. I am going to go to England and Ireland and Holland and West Virginia. I am going to record in different locations. That's how I'm going to do my next record. I am going to start next month. Sometimes it's hard to think and write at home. I have a notebook of words and lines. I start playing and see what happens.
AL: Any advice for younger people who want to do music?
Mark: Buy a 99 dollar four-track and record some stuff and put it out on the Internet.
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TMODM meld mind-altering psych and mind-numbing heaviness into a
musical cocktail of rock that combines everything that kicks ass and
leaves out anything that doesn’t. The band’s live shows are a
spectacle of feedback-drenched aural decadence and over-the-top
showmanship and imagery, a fitting accompaniment to their mountainous
The band have been creating their unique brand of lysergic-soaked rock
since their inception in 2000, gigging extensively throughout the San
Francisco bay area and garnering praise from all over their home turf
and the country, spurred on by heavy rotation at the influential WFMU
station in New Jersey. Alternative Tentacles founder Jello Biafra was
suitably impressed by the band’s spaced-out, glammed-up, turned-up
brand of audio mayhem enough to release “God Bless the Electric Freak”
on his Alternative Tentacles label, a deal that the band eagerly
Equal parts sub-pop T. Rex, and Syd Barrett, TMODM approach every facet
of their sound with equal energy and proficiency, creating anthemic
paeans to George Harrison, all things space, and some things not found
in any universe. Melodic hooks, layered guitar tones, sitar, decadent
vocals, TMODM come complete with all the ingredients to fire up your
spaceship and fly you to rock ‘n roll nirvana.
“God Bless the Electric Freak” is an album that affirms that Rock is
indeed religion and that religion is LOUD!
“There are just a few bands that I’m willing to go absolutely apesh*t
over, and San Francisco’s Turn Me on Dead Man is one of them.” -
"It's a rare rock record these days that distances itself from the
pack for me, but Turn Me On Dead Man's "God Bless the Electric Freak"
has definitely been pushing my buttons! ...I'm impressed! I totally
recommend listening to them!"
-Mike Lupica, DJ, WFMU 91.1FM, NYC
PO Box 419092, San Francisco, CA 94141-9092
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This was one of the first interviews with Andrew WK.
Interview by Alexander Laurence
One of the most exciting acts to hit Europe last year was the American phenomenon ANDREW W.K. Andrew Wilkes-Krier was born in Los Angeles, California and was raised in Michigan. He learned classical piano at an early age and ended up playing in metal bands in Detroit. After high school he moved to New York City where he became a solo artist. Andrew did some solo shows (including a few at Starbucks) with a CD player, keyboard, and microphone. During this time, he released two EPs on Bulb Records: Girls Own Juice and Party Til You Puke.
David Grohl of the Foo Fighters took notice and asked Andrew W.K. to open a few shows for his band. The response to his one-man show was insane. This was the beginning of a what promises to be an in-the-spotlight career.
Assembling a band to back him up, Andrew relocated to Florida to begin recording. He soon after released the single "Party Hard" and it went quickly to #14 in the UK charts and brought some sincerity back to rock.
He then released his first full length album, I Get Wet (produced by Rick Rubin) with its already notorious bloody-nose cover. The album is jam-packed with crowd-pleasing heavy metal anthems.
His first tour in America is now underway with some massive PR to match. His most recent appearances have garnered him a reputation of being an unpredictable interview who takes no bullshit. The initials W.K. have additionally been said to stand for White Killer, Wild Kid, Want Kicks, and Woman Kum, to list a few.
I saw him play one of the first nights in Hollywood. It was exciting and slamming. I got to talk to him while relaxing in the Island Records offices in Hollywood. Next door there was a casting call for girls needed to attend a party. As we were doing the interview, groups of aspiring models and actors walked by our door.
Andrew is tall with long, rockstar hair. He is very polite and called me "sir" throughout our conversation. He is very articulate and certain of what he wants. He often stood up to do air guitar to emphasize a point whenever he go excited.
His current tour began in mid-March and will continue through May. On April 13th, he will be appearing on Saturday Night Live. By then, most will know who he is. His music and energy are a breath of fresh air. Andrew W. K. is for real.
AL: How are you feeling today?
AWK: Very good. Thank you, Sir. How are you feeling?
AL: Good. What is an average day like for you?
AWK: The average day does not exist. I Wake up. That's the only consistent thing. Or sometimes I don't wake up and never go to sleep. Yes. There is nothing average about any one of these days. I wouldn't want to have it any other way. It's full of adventure and excitement and surprises and amazing things.
AL: Do you have a morning routine? Do you have a coffee?
AWK: I try to create a routine within chaos but it's hard because chaos doesn't care about routine. That's the thing. Routine might care about chaos but chaos doesn't care at all about routine. Chaos says "I can do whatever I want whenever I want, so screw you Routine." Whenever I make some plans chaos rears its ugly head. I try to get some meals in and some exercise if I can. I try to get the work done. I try to enjoy every moment of the day.
AL: When you were living in New York City and were a bubblegum machine salesman, you read a book about positive thinking. Can you tell me what impact this book has had on you?
AWK: I only read one book and I didn't finish it. It was a book about being a salesman. It didn't have a big impact on my life, but it had some cool ideas in it. It reiterated some ideas that I already came to believe were true. One thing it said was you are not supposed to be intimidated by the world. There is no reason to be.
I am all the time, but I try not to be. There is not one book that had an influence over me. Let me make that point first. The world is intimidating but I am trying to face it.
AL: You studied piano from an early age. Was there always this idea to do music and form a band?
AWK: Yes, sir. Did you play music when you were young?
AL: Yeah. I started playing an out of tune electric guitar when I was ten years old. I had a desire to play and make some noise.
AWK: That was very similar to my experiences. I didn't know how to tune it either.
Playing piano since an early age made music something ingrained in me before I could even think about it. To have music be fundamental as reading, writing, or speaking just made music a thing. It wasn't like "Check out this record! I want to play music!" Music was always there.
AL: It was a language that you related to before you could even articulate why you liked it?
AWK: Yeah, it was just there. As I got older it was never really a question that I would have music going on. That was what I did. I played music every day. I never got into music because it was something that was always there. When I started playing piano, which is such a musical instrument, it allowed me to learn how to play many other instruments and appreciate things. I am not great at playing any of these instruments in terms of how good other people are. I am good enough to play my own songs and that is all I needed to do. I would love to get better. I admire people who can play well.
The songs on "I Get Wet" are good. But I am not satisfied yet so I continue.
AL: Some of us first heard about you when you did a karaoke version of your music and put out a few EPs. Then you opened for Foo Fighters?
AWK: I hate to call it Karaoke, but you can call it whatever you want. That's fine. That's a good way to describe it, I know.
AL: You didn't have a band at the time?
AWK: I was very frustrated because I didn't have a band. I was just playing shows. That's how I look at it. I had a keyboard. I tried to play as many parts on tape or on CD. I would play along on keyboards or guitar and sing or run around. I would just try to do something. I was furious that I didn't have a band. This music isn't meant to be played by one person.
I said to myself that I've got to play any show any time anywhere, and that's how I'll get a band. So I stopped saying "No" to anything. By playing shows by myself that's how I finally got a band together.
AL: Were you living in New York City when you released the first EPs?
AWK: Yes. I was living in Brooklyn in complete and total isolation. That was fine and that was good. I don't really live anywhere right now. I don't have a lot of stuff. I live wherever I am. I have been on tour and traveling for a year straight now. I love it. The band was half-formed in New York. Three members live in Florida. I never really moved there because I didn't have any furniture to move.
AL: Who is in the band?
AWK: Jimmy Coup, Payne, and Sergeant Frank on guitar. Donald Tardy on drums. And Gregg on bass. We have a few different keyboard players who play with us. The first guy to join was Donald or "D. T." as we call him. I wrote him a letter. I didn't expect to hear from him. He called me back and wanted to do it. I was excited at that point. I was ready to go and rejuvenated.
Jimmy was another old friend. I hadn't seen him in years. We tracked him down. I said "I have a CD." He listened to it and said "I'm in." The other three guys I hadn't even met let alone auditioned. I just thought these people are in. I asked Donald who knew them "Are these guys nice people?" Okay they're in. I knew we could do it. I spent so much time doing this these people have to be great people who just want to do this.
AL: You have three guitars on-stage in your band. That's a big sound. The record sounds like one hundred guitars playing.
AWK: The live band is trying to get to that same level we achieved on the record. The record was made by starting with nothing and stacking one thing at a time. There were no live band recordings. It was made one track at a time. When you start running out of tracks you start packing it in. We started out using Cakewalk because that was all we could afford at the time. Then we used Pro Tools.
Fifty years ago they would have killed to get the drum sound that we got on this record. Why would I want to use a drum sound from fifty years ago? You know what I mean? I just want to use the best things we have now to get the music to be as huge and slammingly loud and big as possible. There are no rules. There's nothing not cool. There are no worries as to what's cool or what's right. There's no hiding and letting walls going up. I want my world to be like BAM get away BAM no walls! Wow! Look how wide it is?
AL: Is that what you are going through on-stage? You are giving it 100% and conducting the band, getting people involved who might usually stand in the back. Are you breaking down the walls on-stage?
AWK: Yeah! I am doing my dances and trying to sing my songs. I am not conducting anything. Donald is running the show up there. He knows what he is doing. I am just playing the drum fills because they are so fucking good. How can I resist? I played this (taps the CD) so many thousands of times, that not to do that would be holding back. If we were listening to this CD right now I would be fucking drumming like a madman. While giving everything I have just shy of failure on those notes (starts singing). That takes all I have pretty much to start with. There is no persona. I want people to have fun. I am having so much fun. I want the audience to feel really good about themselves. That is hard to do. It's hard to feel good about yourself. I want them to look at me on the stage and not feel like I am up on a stage. I want them to say "I want to be up there and I should be" and then they start dancing. I want them to say "That guy doesn't think he is better than me. In fact he's just like me. We are friends."
AL: Last night at the Whisky A-Go-Go some guy jumped on stage and you gave him a bear hug. It was funny.
AWK: Yeah. He thwarted my end dance and got caught up in the PA grating. The metal grill came off and I got cut on it but it's okay because we are all friends. It's for us and it's for them. When I sing about "we" it's about "us": everybody in that room and everybody in the world who believes in something.
AL: People expect blood because you are giving it your all.
AWK: Yes, sir.
AL: You are not holding anything back. Do you have an infinite supply of the infinite?
AWK: That's a great way to put it. I have an infinite supply of the infinite. Exactly. There are no uncharted horizons. There are no unmapped territories in the future. There is no one to tell me what I want to do or think, or what we think, is old, or bad, or wrong. Get out! Pass! Even better I am going to work hard to bring that person along. I am going to say "listen for one second and I am going to work hard to bring you and your bad attitude along with us to where we are going." That's the new frontier. The old frontier was "Bah! Okay, fine. Fuck you! You're over."
Now we have so much strength and potential, that even that guy who doesn't want to be included will be like ARRGGHHH COME ON. I will drag him in. I am very serious about having fun.
AL: Is your work ironic in any way?
AWK: Ironic? You tell me what is ironic about it? In a world of so much pessimism okay, even confusion, doubt, there is so much we have already seen that we can't believe that something someone is doing can be genuine! They have to tone it down and hold it in and say it was just a joke. When you say something is just a joke it absolves you of all responsibility of being wrong.
I worked really hard on this record. If someone says "that's sucks." Then I say "Oh yeah, no big deal, I didn't really work on it that hard anyway." It's just a joke. Fuck that! I am giving it all I have and being completely one hundred thousand percent committed to something. It's like I am committed to smiling. My duty is not to get angry with people for doubting it. I have to explain and prove to them that this is not too good to be true.
AL: Last night at The Whisky during the show I was looking at people and they were looking back at me. We were both smiling at each other because we were having a good time. Most times I go to shows people ignore each other and you never talk to anyone outside your friends or people you come with.
AWK: What you have just said is one of my biggest dreams come true that no one has ever said to me. I have been talking about that for years now. The best thing in the world that I want to create is an environment that you look over to someone that you don't know and you smile because you feel that they are your friend.
AL: So far the shows in the big cities have gone well. Do you think that you are going to be well received in Middle America?
AWK: Who knows? We will get it there and will see what happens. My responsibility is to make them like it. It's not their fault if they don't like it. Look how many decisions you have to make about every fucking moment of every day about what you think about things? And then you are judged accordingly. No wonder people distance themselves from making decisions or feeling excited about something. It's a challenge to feel excited about something because someone is so quick to take your money, or to make you feel like you are wrong, or tell you how you are because you like those things. Oh what do you like? I like this. Oh you are that type of person. No, I'm me. It's so quick to rush to judgment.
The fact is that the world is an open playing field and a source of riches that we should all enjoy as much as possible. We shouldn't give anyone a hard time. We should let everyone be free. We should just be close to things that we feel inside and that is something no one can tell you is wrong.
AL: Is that why you wear white clothes all the time? People can just think of you as a blank canvas to project whatever feelings?
AWK: Yeah. It's simple. It's just me. You don't have to think about it. You know who I am now, and it's done. Actually it's because I wanted to show up well on a black stage. That's how it started. I wore jeans and a T-shirt. Then I wore lighter ones. Good, I don't have to think about that anymore. I didn't have to think about whether I should pull out the leather pants and the rubber shirt for that night. That's fantastic. One less thing to worry about. It gets in the way of what I want to do which is make people feel good.
AL: What should people expect on this tour or any shows this summer?
AWK: People should come in and relax and take a deep breath. Shake your arms and tap your feet a little bit. Do a little jig. Then get ready to have fun. The music will not let you down.
AL: Do you believe in higher intelligence or spirituality?
AWK: I believe in many things. I believe that something is going on that I don't understand and I don't want to understand. I want it to be mysterious, huge, and bigger than me. I would like to think that there is something looking down saying "Good, good." I think that everyone goes to the same place. And maybe you go to somewhere else after that. It's going to be exciting to see what happens. Everyone is welcome.
AL: What about relationships? Are you married?
AWK: No. I will be someday. It's something that I look forward to because I want to have kids. That is why I would want to get married. It will be great. I will be a good father. I will give them a lot of attention. I will strict, reasonable and fair. I will play a lot.
AL: What do your parents think about what you are doing?
AWK: My mom has probably never been happier in her whole life. She is happy knowing that I am okay. My dad is the same. My dad didn't know what to think at first. My mom knew all along. They have been supportive all the way. My mom has been selfless, giving, and strong. My dad is a teacher. My mom decided long ago that she was going to be the world's greatest mom and she achieved that for me long ago. I have a younger brother who is a great golfer. He is just starting college later this year.
AL: Are you going to do a new record right away?
AWK: Yeah. I am going to start the next record either in July or September.
AL: What is it going to be like?
AWK: One word. More. All the songs are ready. I just have to record them. I have enough material for the next two albums so it's just a matter of picking and choosing. I am going to do everything I can to make it sound big and huge. Just do it. What you feel inside is real. Just feel it. When you go on a roller coaster or go over a bump, you feel something. That is the world communicating something to you. Don't lose those feelings. Hold on to all what you can because that is what makes life worth living. The world is really out there but we all have the power to make it whatever we want it to be. We control ourselves. Humans have that ability.
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This fall's sweetest and scariest benefit song is "DO THEY KNOW IT'S HALLOWE'EN?"
This single features a star-studded ensemble known as the NORTH AMERICAN HALLOWEEN PREVENTION INITIATIVE. Both a trick and a treat, this song is a satire - as well as a charity-benefit song with all profits being donated to UNICEF.
LISTEN TO THE SONG: http://www.vice-recordings.com/halloween/
AN ALL STAR CAST SAYING "ENOUGH!" TO HALLOWEEN:
The Arcade Fire
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
This anti-Halloween call-to-arms also stars a grab-bag of legends such as:… Comedian David Cross… Sex Pistols' founder Malcolm McLaren… Elvira, Mistress of the Dark… 60s soul legend Gino Washington… Psychedelic singer Roky Erickson… Los Angeles 70s group Sparks… Inuit throat singer, Tagaq (a frequent collaborator with Björk)… Co-produced by Steven McDonald of Redd Kross… And many more...
LABEL INFO: VICE RECORDINGS
RELEASE DATE: OCT. 11 2005
AVAILABLE ON iTUNES and all DSPs: OCT 4 2005
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Interview with Nick Zinner
By alexander laurence
Singer Karen O, guitarist Nick Zinner, and drummer Brian Chase make up New York's favorite art punk trio the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Karen O met Chase at Oberlin College and met Zinner at NYU. Zinner and O formed the band in 2000 and recruited Chase when their original drummer bowed out. They lived in Williamsburg in a loft near Bedford Avenue. Karen O and Nick Zinner had a side project called Unitard.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs found their unique sexy sound and soon wound up supporting the Strokes and the White Stripes. In late 2001, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs released their first EP, on their own label. Early in 2002 the band appeared at South By Southwest, toured with Girls Against Boys, and with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, The Liars, and headlined their own U.K. tour.
The Machine EP held the interest of fans towards the end of the year. They appeared on the cover of many magazines before their album Fever To Tell came out in April 2003. This was their best recording yet. They did a short tour in that Spring before Brian Chase went off to tour with his other band The Seconds. Nick Zinner has been voted by Free Williamsburg as the coolest person in a band two years in a row. I got to talk to him at his hotel in Hollywood. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were supporting The White Stripes once again on their biggest tour yet.
AL: How is the tour with The White Stripes going so far?
Nick: It's okay. It's strange. We are playing to these huge crowds who are waiting for the White Stripes and waiting for you to finish for the most part. Some people are psyched. Some people came to see us and came to see our music. For the most part they want to hear the hit.
AL: Do you think that you play better to a crowd in smaller venues like Henry Fonda or Irving Plaza? The shows I went to at those places, people went wild.
Nick: Yeah. Those places are more our speed. At those places we can have confidence and strength to really rock out. We can feel the appreciation of people who have come out just to see us. It's really nice. It's a good challenge at the same time to play to people who are staring at you and waiting for you to finish.
AL: Does it happen that you feel some antagonism from the crowd at the beginning of the show, but by the end, you have won them over?
Nick: Sometimes. There was one memorable show we did with Bjork in Boston. It was obvious that the majority of the crowd had never even heard of us. At the beginning of the show, everyone was seated with his or her hands folded. By the end of the show everyone was standing and the place was full. People were clapping and rocking out. It was amazing. Like last night, after the second song, someone was screaming out "No no no." It hurts but it's okay. It's all good.
AL: What is an average day like for you, Nick Zinner, when you are on tour, and when you are not?
Nick: When I am on tour, I try to wake up as late as possible. Maybe I wake up at one or two o'clock in the afternoon. Sometimes I do an interview then or talk on the phone. Have breakfast. I do a soundcheck at four or five o'clock. Then I have a few hours to kill. I walk around and usually go shopping and explore the city we're in. I come back and watch the opening bands and then play. After the show, it like R. Kelly says: "After the show, it's the after party."
AL: Do collect a lot of vinyl?
Nick: Yeah. I try to. It's hard when you are traveling to keep the records you get with you on the whole tour. I go record shopping as much as possible.
AL: On your free days you can go to other shows. I saw you at the Mogwai show a few days ago.
Nick: Yeah. That was great. I am such a music fanatic that I try to see and hear as much music as I can. That is what I usually do with my free time. It was really great to see Mogwai because one of my favorite bands, Isis, was opening up for them. It was phenomenal to see them together. It was very powerful.
AL: Have you played with Isis yet?
Nick: No. I would love to play with Isis. I would also be terrified. They are so great. We did play some shows with Mogwai this past summer. We did a bunch of those fun festivals together in Europe.
AL: Last year you played a Halloween show at Irving Plaza. That gave the band an opportunity to dress up. Are there any plans for a Halloween show this year?
Nick: No, not this year. We will just be getting back from our Australian tour. We will dress up and go to a party in New York. Actually on Halloween this year I am going to do a secret scary show. I will be a guest with Bright Eyes.
AL: Do you still live in Williamsburg?
Nick: No. I moved to Manhattan six months ago. I am trying that out.
AL: I used to see you a lot hanging out by the mall, by the café and Earwax Records.
Nick: Right. I used to live around the corner from there. I used to live in a huge warehouse on Metropolitan Avenue with fifteen roommates. It was an illegal office space, so I was tired of feeling the threat of being booted out. There was a place on Bedford Avenue a few years ago where they put a lock on the whole building the day before Christmas. They had two hours to get everything out before they chained it up. It was so disgraceful.
AL: What do you think of the hipster factor of the present day Williamsburg neighborhood? Do you think it's silly?
Nick: yeah, it's becoming a parody of itself. I am not seeing too much advancement. It's just turning in on itself and feeding off itself. I felt like a cliché in my own neighborhood. Do you know what I mean?
AL: Yeah. How does the band write songs? Do you start out with lyrics or a guitar riff?
Nick: Usually one or the other. Recently I just went to Karen's house in New Jersey. We will isolate ourselves. I will bring out some musical ideas that I have been working on. She will bring out some lyrics or some four track stuff that she has been doing. It will start out as some drum loops and some music. We just take it from there. It's usually very instantaneous: either it does work or doesn't work. If it doesn't work, then we just move on. If it does work, we can get the basic structure of a song down. Then we will bring it to Brian Chase. We try that out a few times. Brian will firm up the edges and add his own parts.
AL: Is Unitard still a working band?
Nick: We haven't been able to work on it. Both Karen and I are still writing songs in that vein. I actually want to make a record when we have some time off in January.
AL: Have you played any shows as Unitard?
Nick: Not really. We did do an accidental Unitard show about five months ago. A friend of ours was organizing a benefit show for lymphoma research at The Roxy. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were going to play at that show. A week before that show, we found out that Brian was going to tour in Europe with his other band, The Seconds. Karen and I got back to basics and played a mix of Unitard songs and Yeah Yeah Yeahs songs. It was fun and nice.
AL: Who came up with the idea of the bunny rabbit pins?
Nick: That was Karen's idea. First we had an idea for the band, then second came the name, then came the logo. Two weeks later we got around to writing some songs. Right after Karen and I recorded the first Yeah Yeah Yeahs songs on a four track, we tried to play with other people. We had friends play drums and guitar and keyboards. Nothing was really working. Our friend Dave offered us a show. Every drummer at the time was playing in five bands. The girl who was playing drums with us at the time couldn't do it. Brian came in three days before the show. He learned all the songs in a half an hour. It's all been good from there.
AL: Have the Seconds and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs played shows together?
Nick: It's a little bit of a conflict of interest and a little hard for Brian. We have done a few. We did a show in Philly and maybe New York. It's great for Brian though because he loves to play. He has a lot more freedom in The Seconds. He has a bigger role in the songwriting and it's more rhythmically challenging. Sometimes I feel bad because our stuff is pretty much straight forward.
AL: There is no room for jazz drumming?
Nick: No! We don't play in 3/7ths time.
AL: Who is Christian Joy?
Nick: It is one of Karen's best friends. She designs clothes exclusively for Karen. I know that Christian wants to get her line of clothes out for mass consumption. Before every tour, Karen has Christian make four or five new outfits. That keeps her busy for a few weeks.
AL: Was it a weird time a year ago when you didn't have an album out yet and the band was on the cover of a few magazines? Magazines that would have someone like Coldplay or Radiohead on the cover had a band that had only and EP out at the time.
Nick: Yeah. Definitely. It was really freaky. That is not the best word to use. For us it was disorienting and we felt a little bit guilty. It did seem so unnecessary and rushed. There were a lot more bands that had been around for a lot longer who deserved more attention than us at the time. It was never our decision to be on the cover. We weren't pulling the strings. People lose sight of that. We didn't even know what label our record was coming out on. It was overtly theatrical.
AL: I saw Karen O on the cover of a magazine called Korean Times. It got to a point where Hugh Hefner wanted to put Karen on the cover of Playboy Magazine.
Nick: It helps us in a lot of ways too.
AL: Do you think that the indie music scene and young girls at first embraced Karen O as an icon? Then when you got more popular and signed to Interscope do you think there was sort of a backlash?
Nick: We have always got that. It is how it goes. At this point, unless you have a real strong solidified relationship with an independent label, it is ridiculous just to stay. That is just one school of thought. We have known several bands that have been screwed by independent labels. It's not really good versus evil.
AL: Are there any other bands that you like?
Nick: Well, I just brought the new Outkast record. It's really great. I am listening to Nick Cave right now.
AL: Are there any bands that you don't like and despise?
Nick: Yeah, there are many.
AL: Have you read any good books recently?
Nick: I try to. My attention span is getting really short when I am on tour. I am reading just short stories. I am reading After The Quake by Murakami. It's fantastic. We are going to Japan next week. That will give me some understanding of the chaos that I am going to be submerged in.
AL: Have you seen Lost in Translation yet?
Nick: That is my assignment for this Friday. I saw City of God that I thought was great. The cinematography was overly stylized, but also very beautiful and violent. But I haven't seen that many films recently. When I have some time to see a film I usually rent Dead Man again.
AL: What is the hardest thing about being in a band?
Nick: It's hard to say. It's hard to say without sounding like a total jackass.
AL: Let me rephrase the question. What do you most enjoy about being in a band: playing live, writing songs, or being in a studio recording?
Nick: I like recording the best. Next I like playing live. I like to have time to savor sounds and experiment. I like to let things grow aurally.
AL: Was the album Fever To Tell self-produced?
Nick: It was David Sitek and I. We were co-producers of the record. I grew up as a four-track kid. I spent a lot of time in my bedroom with a guitar and a drum machine and a keyboard. Once we started recording as a band, I started to take a more active hand in the process. I have always been interested in that.
AL: What was the stuff you did as a teenager like?
Nick: There was a lot of heavy metal back then. When I was fifteen years old I was really into Joe Satriani. Later I got more into film soundtracks.
AL: Do you have any other hobbies?
Nick: Photography. That is pretty much all I do. I used to do a lot of documentary photography. That is what I am doing now. I am keeping a visual diary of this whole experience of being in a band. It's all about my surroundings and people who I meet.
AL: Are you going to do a headlining tour in America soon?
Nick: Yeah. We are going to do one tour for a few weeks in November 2003. We will be playing on the east coast and the south.
AL: Do you have material for a new record?
Nick: We have five or six new songs. That alone is incredibly depressing to us. Before we did any tours we would have a new song for every show. Back then we would play every three weeks. We would make it a challenge to have a new song for every show. This past year we have written about ten songs. We all would have liked it to be seventy or eighty.
AL: How many songs do you have now?
Nick: About thirty-five or forty. We are playing only two or three new songs on this tour that haven't been recorded yet. We write our setlist ten minutes before the show. Sometimes we add and drop songs as we go. It's really interesting watching the White Stripes play every night. They start out with a setlist of the first five songs. Then it goes in whatever direction Jack wants to take it. It's very inspiring to watch.
AL: When you signed to Interscope did you buy a bunch of new guitars?
Nick: I went out and bought a TV/VCR combo unit. That was my big spending spree. I had been eyeing it for a while.
AL: Do you have any advice for people who want to start a band?
Nick: Yeah. They should play all the time and not be sending any demos out to record companies. They should be reading every issue of Guitar Magazine from 1984 till 1989. Learn all the tablatures.
AL: Did you see Rolling Stone Magazine's 100 greatest guitar players?
Nick: Yeah. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that I wasn't in there. There were a few people in there that I believe did not deserve to be. I guess that I haven't reached that level yet.
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a discussion with Kittens For Christian,
Stellastarr*, Vue, Low Flying Owls
By Alexander Laurence
Rock and roll music is fifty years old. There have been many claims of what is great music being made today. The Beatles, The Stones, and Elvis weren't just trying to sell a few records and maybe sell out Roseland Ballroom. They were making music that was great then and also today. Those bands have been copied to death. In our time, you can wonder if there is any music being made today, that will influence the next generation of musicians? Or are we just recycling past genres of music that lay dormant for many years? People are always looking to past, but is anyone looking to the future? Are there any important bands today that will transcend any scene or trendiness?
To answer these questions, we assembled four bands making music today, to solve these enigmas. We cleared the offices of The Portable Infinite for these people, and grabbed a few six packs of beers and a carton of cigarettes. The Poratble Infinite went all out to get these four bands in one room. Soon we found this was impossible because there was not enough room for everyone. So we got a few representatives of each band to say their piece about the future of rock. The bands included Kittens For Christian, an LA band who has just completed a long tour with The Raveonettes. We also spoke to Stellastarr who are the band you love to hate from NYC. From San Francisco, we have the lovely Vue. And from Sacramento, we spoke to Low Flying Owls.
These are bands that I think are all different from each other and all in their own way doing something cool and real in today's pop culture. From the trio Kitten For Christian (KFC) we spoke mainly to singer and bass guitar, Hiram Fleites. From Stellastarr* (SS), we spoke to drummer Arthur Kremer. From the five-member Vue (V), we spoke to mainly to guitarist, Jonah Buffa, but Jeremy Bringetto, Jessica Ann Graves also joined in. From the band, Low Flying Owls (LFO), we spoke to drummer Sam Coe. What will we be listening to in the future? Where are we coming from? We are we going?
AL: Where were you guys born and for what is that place known?
Hiram (KFC): I was born in Cuba. It's known for Fidel Castro, hot women, and a great climate. I went back there a year ago. It was interesting going back there.
Arthur (SS): I am originally from Lithuania. They produce very good cheese. They produce a lot of Amber.
Jeremy (V): Three of us are from Half Moon Bay, a small town in Northern California. It's mainly known for a yearly pumpkin festival and big wave surfing.
Sam (LFO): We are from Sacramento which is the state capital. Musically it's known for bands like Cake and The Deftones.
AL: Where do you live now?
Hiram (KFC): I live in Eaglerock. It's close to Hollywood.
Arthur (SS): I live in Brooklyn. I used to live in Pennsylvania and I moved to New York to go to school. I stayed in New York afterwards.
Jonah (V): We live in San Francisco now. I used to live in the Mission but I got tired of seeing needles on my doorstep. We have on tour for so long that we don't really have our apartments anymore. I am staying at a big house by the ocean. I am coasting in life on charisma. I like hanging out on Sixth Street in San Francisco.
Sam (LFO): Currently we still live in Sacramento, but we are going to soon be relocating to New York City. It's going to be a transition over a few months. A few members are going there now in October 2003, and the rest will follow in the beginning of 2004. The label we are on Stinky Records is based in New York City.
AL: How did you get involved in music?
Hiram (KFC): It was a fluke. I thought that I would always pursue visual arts. I went to Otis Parsons. I picked music as an elective in school. I started playing the upright bass. I was playing classical music and I was in a jazz band. I started jamming with my buddies so after that.
Arthur (SS): I played piano and guitar. I knew Shawn and Mandy from Stellastarr*. They were in a band when we were in school. The idea of being in a band was so exciting to me. They had nine different drummers. I didn't think that any of them did a good job interpreting the music. I felt like I could do better. I asked them to give me a chance. We are all novices really.
Jeremy (V): My dad is a jazz trumpet player. He taught me trumpet and when I was thirteen I took the solo on "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina" somewhere in Daly City. I was in some bands. One was called Four Way Split, and another called Pizzazz.
Sam (LFO): I was in a high school band. I have always played the drums. I felt something while playing music that I could get nowhere else. That is what keeps me in tune.
AL: What are some important things to know if you are in a band?
Arthur (SS): Communication and listening to one another is important. A band is like a relationship because you spend so much time with people. Compromise is a big part of our band. We have a lot of democracy.
Sam (LFO): It's definitely important to get along. You should be making music that you enjoy.
Hiram (KFC): It's important to know where's the beer? Seriously, you should learn about the business: you should learn as much as you can about publishing and contracts. We had our own label at first. We learned a lot on our own.
Jonah (V): It's important to know proper directions. We spend most of our time driving down dead ends and abandoned roads. For people who are not in bands: when we do a show, this is one night among many nights. People want to stay up all night and go out after the gig. They think that we are having a great time. But this happens for me every night. I meet people who want to party all night.
AL: What are the worst aspects in music today?
Jonah (V): Notes and time signatures. It sucks going to so many shows.
Hiram (KFC): You have to be optimistic in terms of how things are going. I think that there are a lot of really great bands that are coming up. I would count us as one of those. It's frustrating that there are a lot of bands out there. We are a new band for most people. Not many bands are selling a million records.
Arthur (SS): There are too many fucking bands. Most of them are okay. I can't pay attention to all these bands. I wasn't really into music until I was much older.
Sam (LFO): The worst aspect is it's hard making a living doing music. It's fun to do but it's hard to make money.
AL: Do you think that it is good or bad that fans are just attracted to the lead singer or a member of the band and are not really fans of music at all?
Arthur (SS): I think it's bad. Maybe I think so it's because I'm the drummer and I'm in the back. There is a lot going on in our music. It's not like the lead singer is the star of the show. The dynamics of a band is the most important thing.
Hiram (KFC): It should be about the music. Any edge that you can use is going to be great. You stand out from the other bands because of image and how you look. I am definitely from the school of it should be about the music first, the image second.
Jonah (V): For us it is a good thing, but for Journey it's bad thing.
Sam (LFO): It's natural to focus on the singing or the speaker.
AL: Is fashion and image an important thing in music?
Arthur (SS): I am glad you asked that question. Fashion is not important at all to me. Why I wear these big sunglasses in this band photo because it is ironic for me to wear them. It's my Spinal Tap moment. I don't feel like I am a rock star in any way. It's funny and ridiculous to me that I wear these huge sunglasses and nipple tape. It's irony.
Jonah (V): Music is fashion and music is fashionable. Saying we are not into fashion is it's own style. I don't know if kids are concerned with that. We just played a bunch of shows with Hot Hot Heat. They are really dressed up and having fun.
Hiram (KFC): That attention to image has always been around. Even serious musicians like Bob Dylan had a cool look.
Sam (LFO): You can make music without a cool jacket.
AL: What do you about all this attention to garage rock and new rock revivalism? Do you have anything to do with that?
Sam (LFO): I see the term "garage rock" thrown in reviews to describe our sound. I don't really keep up with any trends in music. The stuff I listen to is a broad range of stuff. I don't really know who are all these "garage rock" bands are.
Hiram (KFC): I don't see us as being part of that. We have some of that in our music. People can do what they want. There are bands who are in that milieu who I like. There are the derivative bands too. There are so many genres to weed through now. You have to find those bands who are giving it their own spin or who are being true to themselves.
Arthur (SS): People always want to classify and deify something. I don't care for any categories.
Jonah (V): People think that I am from Sweden. We are not really a garage band. It's just a stripped down rock and roll music. We like stuff like 13th Floor Elevators.
Low Flying Owls
AL: Is there room for serious music today? Or are the dark forces of capitalism, competition, and marketing too much to handle?
Hiram (KFC): I think that there is a blending of both. Why there is so much music being revived this week, is because there is not a lot of new music that is super forward. Much of the good stuff has already been written. If a band is paying homage to old bands, that's a great way for kids to retrace the steps. It's good to go back.
Arthur (SS): There is room for serious music. As long as there are feelings involved, and people having their hearts broken, and as long as there is love, people will always want to write and hear songs with power and emotion. Even cheesy pop songs can be good. I am disappointed that people don't play ballads in clubs. How are you supposed to ask a girl to dance?
Jonah (V): Radiohead gets to do serious music and people are hearing it. It's hard to get anything across on a first record. A lot of creative and imaginative music doesn't get across to people. Some obvious things are easier to sell.
Sam (LFO): Marketing records successfully is harder to pull off. I don't know if a record comes out next week and is going to be number one and a thirteen-year-old kid is going to love it. I don't know if it's going to be serious.
AL: Is it better now to be on a small indie label or a major label?
Arthur (SS): The difference is money. Big labels are notorious for breaking a career because money is involved. We went with RCA because they have an indie label mentality: they are interested in developing an artist. The lines between major labels and indies have blurred in the past two years. Big labels are losing money because they aren't developing artists. They are dropping bands after one album. The label we were on, Tiswas, didn't have any distribution. They couldn't help us when we went on tour.
Jonah (V): Subpop is a small label. We released our own record too. It's better being on RCA. It's more complicated and there's a bigger machine working. I like it and hate it. You get so involved in your art and you want to be in control. We come from that indie mentality. We were in hardcore bands before this. But I want to focus on making art and I don't want to focus on working at a coffee shop and trying to scrap up some money for a practice space. I don't want to worry about subletting my room. San Francisco is an expensive city to live in.
Hiram (KFC): There are a bunch of cool records that come out on an indie label that do nothing. It all depends on whether you are a high priority for that label. It doesn't matter if you are on a major or an indie. If you were on Epitaph or Matador and the label doesn't care about you. It's the same uphill battle if you are a low priority artist on a major label.
Sam (LFO): Right now I hear it's better to be on a small label. A band like Fugazi is this whole other deal. I have been a fan of them for a long time. Whether you can pull it off as a band, it doesn't matter what sized label you are on.
Kitten For Christian
AL: Are audiences better in England or in America?
Arthur (SS): It's really good in Europe in general. How are people supposed to hear about new bands in the Midwest? Where do they go to buy records? How are they supposed to hear about a little band from New York? They can't. They have MTV and Top 40 radio. That is nothing. People in Europe have more exposure to new music.
Jonah (V): They are more into music in England overall. There is not a subculture of music. They are into everything there: pop music, garage rock, techno, and weird underground music. They will freak out at a show more and jump around a lot more than in America. Look at the music magazines there. Mojo and Q Magazine are great.
Hiram (KFC): We haven't been over there yet. We feel that people are into us just in different parts of America. We plan to tour in Europe soon. If we went over there we would get a bunch of good press. All the anglophiles in America who read that will take note. You need that stamp of approval with the really cool kids.
Sam (LFO): We are hoping to go to the UK for the first time next year. I have never been there. I like a lot of British bands.
AL: How do you think downloading music and burning CDs is affecting the music industry and bands?
Sam (LFO): It is affecting bands. Record companies have been struggling with it. They are trying to figure a way to regulate that so bands can make money. I went to the Virgin Megastore in Times Square last month and it was empty.
Jessica (V): It's obvious that there is a changing of the guard right now. There is going to be a new generation of people who are going to find a way to make it work. We all want for bands to be able to survive and people still can download songs. When radio was invented people thought that was the end of live musicians because you could just turn on the radio and listen to music for free. It's obvious that there is a changing of the guard because there is all these bands getting signed who come from a DIY background. There are bands who can make it work without a big tour bus and their ass being licked all the time. The music industry is going to transform over the next ten years. There is a demand for music because radio hasn't really supported new music for a long time now.
Hiram (KFC): It's hard to guess where the industry is going. We are down to five record companies.
Arthur (SS): Our record is available on the internet. It's on iTunes. It's a mistake to fight copying. You should embrace it. Record companies are starting to do that now.
AL: Who are the important bands now and who are the important bands from the past?
Sam (LFO): The White Stripes seem like they are important. I have definitely seen a lot of duos in the past few years. I think Radiohead is an important band. They have made great records and have been able to succeed and they keep back from the mainstream. Fugazi is great.
Jonah (V): I like Interpol, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and the White Stripes. All these bands who are coming up together now. It feels like what are we doing here. It's strange that we are playing shows all over the world. That is exciting and fun to be a part.
Arthur (SS): I love Interpol. I like the classics. I like Interpol and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I am curious to hear the new Strokes album. I think Bjork is important.
Hiram (KFC): The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, and The Velvet Underground. Those bands are classic and timeless and they all influence all the bands who are on the planet right now.
AL: Is there any room for originally in music?
Hiram (KFC): Absolutely. I hope that there is.
Arthur (SS): It feels like everything has been done, like people bringing in classical instruments.
Sam (LFO): Yeah, there is always. I believe there are still true artists out there who strive for that. No matter how original you try to be, someone is going to hear some other band in what you do.
Jonah (V): You shouldn't be worried about if it is original or if it has been done before. If you like it, do it. If it sounds good, do it! Even playing the same chords in 1999 or 1967, it is culturally different. In 2070, people are going to want to rock out. Every new generation gets into the same types of music but they perceive them very differently.
AL: Where do you see the band doing in five years?
Sam (LFO): We will have three albums out by then. Rock and roll is fifty years old now. I don't see why people will not be listening to this in fifty years from now.
Arthur (SS): We hope to do four or five albums by then. We have about twenty songs but we only recorded eleven. We already have most of our next record done. We have been around for three years. We have paid our dues by playing shit gigs.
Hiram (KFC): I hope for the best and prepare for the worst. You can't predict the future.
Jonah (V): I will be doing this for a while.
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