Thursday, October 27, 2011
Had the pleasure of catching up with kevin from the Mannequin Men about their new album, tour and upside down pizza...
For those new to you guys quick introduction - tell us who you are and what you play...
Kevin- i play guitar and sing, Seth-plays drums and also sings, Ethan-plays guitar, and Miles plays bass
Have you been in or are currently in any other bands?
we all have a few side projects kicking around. i'm in a band with Seth called Calibrated Crematorium that's put out a couple records and is kinda a pop project. Mannequin Men has been the family car though for quite a while so most of the stuff before that you likely haven't heard across the pond.
You're based in Chicago - as an outsider it looks like an awesome city with a strong music scene supported by some great local labels, tell me about the area... Where's the best spots to buy records? Go to shows?! EAT?!! (i saw on telly something about upside down pizzas - do you REALLY have upside down pizzas?!!) (REALLY!?!!)
Ha. I honestly don't know but I can say with all honesty if there is upside down pizza here and I'm missing out on it I'm going to have a real problem with that. Possibly, you're thinking of Chicago deep dish which has the sauce on top? Dunno. I'm pretty serious about pizza so maybe a bit of research is in order. Reckless Records is probably the best record store in town and Ethan works there so maybe that's a bit of homerism. Permanent is great for newer stuff too though. There's tons of places to go to shows so it's a bit hard to nail it down. Some really great DIY spaces making names for themselves like a loft called Mortville. Best club around has been the same best club since I was too young to get in and that's definitely the Empty Bottle. I love Chicago and we all do, it's where I was raised and it still feels like a brand new suit.
Are there remnants of the Blues, Jazz, R’n’B and early Rock ‘n’ Roll Chess Records brought to the city? Any surviving characters or landmarks around that keep that memory alive?
That's a great question with a kind of unfortunate answer. First of, yes, there's still a memory of that in people here but you have to really seek it out. Just last year at the Taste of Chicago Andre Williams played and you kinda see the heads coming out of the woodwork. Syl Johnson, Twinight Records and that kinda stuff will always be in the hearts here, but Chess Records, was commodified a long time ago so it's definitely not the same....not that it could be I suppose.
What was the first type of music made an impression you?
I'd love to say it was something real cool or strange like Beefheart or something but it was likely when I was about three years old and starting hearing my sister playing Michael Jackson records around the house. That music had a power that has yet to be matched. It was a language, and I couldn't get enough of it.
How did you find your new label Addenda Records ?
Addenda had put out a record by a band we all mutually adore (The Eternals) and so when we were looking around for people to do the record we figured we'd ask if they'd be into it. They were really excited and genuine about their interest and we're really happy we decided to work with them. I've known Dustin (one of the owners) for almost eight years now and he's a real true blue music guy. Having people like him behind your stuff just makes you feel even more bulletproof.
I like to ask bands whether they prefer playing live or being in a studio recording, you guys have combined the two on ‘Mannequin Men’ – what made you decide to make the new record in this way?
Pretty much listening to Tonight's the Night and reading Shakey. There's a saying that I truly believe in, and that's "you can't polish a turd". If your songs stink, no amount of studio trickery is going to solve that. I think we wanted to go and try to do it ourselves and let the songs be what they are.
Gary Panter returned to do a second album cover for you guys – he really out did himself! Did you guys share any ideas with him for the piece or did you just let him go away alone and work his magic?
This one we kinda let Gary run with it. The first thing he sent wasn't really what we had in mind even though it was great and we were pretty worked up about what we should do. Gary has become a friend of the band and he's the sweetest guy on the planet, but we didn't know what would happen if we asked him to rework some things.
He was totally sweet about it and two days later sent us the current cover which was a total 180 from the first. We all adore it and adore him and couldn't be happier to work with one of the greatest living artists I can think of. He's a total hero of the band.
What are some of your favourite record covers?
Oh man. another good question...i'm going to forget so many. I really like Damned Damned Damned, historie de melody nelson by serge, on the beach, ...and don't the kids just love it by the televsion peronalities, maggot brain by funkadelic....goes on and on. I'm pretty into rocksteady from the 60s too and jamaicans at that time had such a clever aesthetic, very simple, beautiful record covers.
The Neil Young documentary 'Don’t be denied' was on TV the other night over here – have you seen it? It’s covers snap shots of his career and he reflects on what he’s done so far – noticed you guys are pretty big fans what’s your favourite Neil Young period?
definitely have seen it. we're all pretty into Uncle Neil. I know it's a huge cliche to say you celebrate someone's entire catalog but I'd have to say I do. I'm most into the holy trilogy (time fades away, on the beach, and tonight's the night) but it changes day to day. The man is a genius and a legend and a loser and everything in between. An incredible career and he's the punkest motherfucker that ever lived.
He also talks about the change of direction his music took in the eighties - "they were criticizing me for changing my style so much and people couldn’t comprehend that you could believe what you were doing even if you didn’t do the same thing over and over again." With the word ‘matured’ knocking around with this new record are you coming up against that a little? Miles touched on it here i was wondering what the rest of the band thought?
Yeah, I think we're a little worried that the punk kids will think we're old and shitty, but we've never been all that connected to the drunkenness and chaos and shit that those kids love, it was more a product of trying to figure things out. So at this point, you kinda just let go of that worry and just enjoy the fact that you're doing something you believe in. In this business that's a hard spot to get to and mean it.
You guys did a split single with Jack Oblivion – if you could collaborate with anyone else who would it be?
tough one. if it could be anyone ever it'd be nice to work with Bob Darin in his late 60s period. Some of the most beautiful, creative, and well written songs i've ever heard. If it had to be a living musician, I guess it'd be ok to jam with Crazy Horse.
You’re about to head out on tour are there any favourite spots you’re looking forward to revisiting?
we really like hanging out in Canada so it'll be nice to go back there. the last time we were in montreal I had the flu and threw my arm out trying to bounce a super ball over power lines on a dare so i didn't have a really good time. i'm looking forward to getting back there for sure. Also, we're playing Cake Shop in Manhattan and that's one of my favorite clubs in the US so I'm pumped to get back there too I suppose.
Have you planned what you'll listen to while you're on the road? (making road trip mixes is the best!)
Ha, yeah, we just got a new van that has a CD and tape player which is a total luxury for us. We're all working on mixes and things of the sort to bring along. Probably be everything from Eek-A-Mouse to Kevin Ayers.
A recent Twitter post said "If I was directing a movie about our band I'd cast the guy who plays Lincoln Lee on Fringe to play Seth." - who else would play the rest of the band?
well Ethan would be played by a young Jack Nicholson, Miles would be a shaggier haired Jesse Eisenberg which is a comparison he'll hate and probably contributed to my reasoning for making it...and I'll go ahead and say that Jean Paul Belmondo can play me. Yeah, that works.
What's the future for Mannequin Men?
Well, we were listening to some R. Stevie Moore in the car on the way to a show recently and we are all kind of excited about making a really strange studio record next, maybe throwing a lot of curve balls and having fun. We'll be touring the west coast in March around SXSW and we'll likely start writing again in the period between the tours so we'll see.
'I'm full of dust and guitars' - Syd Barrett - if you were cracked open what would be inside?
gonna be hard to top that one...i would say closed doors with faint noises coming from behind them.
Mannequin Men Facebook and Tumblr
Find copies of the new album here
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Four bands from the recent 'Gilded Gutter 2011 Summer Compilation' will play as a launch for the album at Power Lunches - Saturday 3rd December - 5 pounds on the door.
For more details the Facebook event is here
Wake Up Dead
London based punk outfit made up from members of Black Time and Black Mamba Beat. Their first 7" is a double A Side and will be released on new label EZPZ (set up by Josh from The Love Triangle).
Snotty London via Reading Punk outfit making noise about everyday humdrum. Check out their self released debut cassette 'Demo 2011 Tape'. Featuring members of Shitty Limits and No.
Black Mamba Beat
Trio from South Africa now based in London are to follow up last years debut LP on Jeet Kune with a 12"EP on EZPZ Records soon.
Bomber Jackets are; Jackie P, Sarah Datblygu, Sian Dorrer, and Nick Ferrari, who offer electronic musings on the mundane. So far the group made up of members from Wet Dog, Charcoal Owls, Plug and the Pheromoans have put out a split 7" with The Rebel. Soon to be released are singles 'Larching phase' on Night people and 'Old Lord Fauntleroy' on Alter.
The compilation is free to download on the blog if you'd like a taster of the bands...
Saturday, October 22, 2011
'Look Forward to Nothing' (Siltbreeze) is the highly anticipated follow up to universally loved debut 'Loneliness is a Dirty Mattress' (2010 RIP Society) from Australia's Kitchen's Floor. The trio pick up where they left off with their bleak and noisy garage-art rock but flip it on it's head by creating something more lush. "116" best shows off the introduction of bright pop melodies tangled into the amalgam of cacophonous instruments. A personal highlight is raucous track "Regrets", the accelerated guitars played alongside rattling rhythms is where the album really feels like it gains full momentum. From the outset there are curious jolts in rhythm creating an unhinged feeling complimenting the consistent unaffected, mono-toned vocals. Instrumental track 'Every Day' sustains a repetitive, buzzing state for three and a half minutes brilliantly capturing the humdrum of daily life. There are parts of the album that bring Pink Reason to mind especially on 'Kidney Infection' which mirrors a similar solemn/lone wolf attitude. Brimming with angst this primitive second album hits all the noise-punk pleasure centres, 'Look Forward to Nothing' could very well see Kitchen's Floor make it into Top Ten lists for a second year in a row.
Kitchen's Floor - Regrets by Gilded Gutter
Find the record at Siltbreeze
Kitchen's Floor Facebook
Thursday, October 20, 2011
New York noise makers Talk Normal are returning to the UK in November for a slew of shows with Wire and Jad Fair now that they're close to completing a new, second album. I caught up with the Andrya and Sarah to find out about their recent work...
So you've been recording lately - what have you been working on? Where were you recording?
Our next album! We're mixing now (as I type this, in mid-October). We recorded new material mostly in two places - at a studio in Brooklyn called Vacation Island, and in Hoboken NJ at Echo Canyon West. Nearly one full song and parts of a few others come from tracks created in our rehearsal space. Some editing took place @ Thump Audio and Christina Files' home studio. Mixing will be completed at The Farm. This album is covering a fair amount of NYC-area geography.
Do you ever have any preconceived goals or ideas when recording, or do you prefer to work in an improvised way?
Sarah:: Hardly anything is improvised, tho we are always glad for happy accidents, of which there are a few on this record. When we enter the studio, we have our songs @ a place where we've workshopped them and have been performing them for a while. Our “budget” or lack thereof doesn't allow for much improvisation in the studio (time-wise). But we are quite specific about our sounds, so for the most part these songs would be at this 'realized' stage regardless. Tho thankfully, there has been time for a few quick and fun sonic explorations.
Do you prefer playing shows or recording?
Sarah:: I find recording extremely fun. It's nerve-wracking in a way because you want it to be fully realized.... but in my own combination of haphazard and also extremely specific work habits, I can get a lot of joy out of the studio process. Which is just different from playing live shows – performing live can be so totally invigorating, but I know I am capable of reacting to the audience more than perhaps I'd like (positively or negatively). It's hard for me to tell in advance how a crowd will affect me. All that said... I love shows...
To my ears at least, your songs seem like each track is it's own tale, where do you draw themes from in your music?
Sarah:: Anywhere. Often there is one idea that sparks the beginning of the story, if it is a story. Or a phrase, or kind of sentiment. Some are from older experiences, written down or saved in the mind. Others are momentary inspirations, sometimes teased out further. i.e. Mosquito came entirely from a walk Sarah took on the way to practice. Hot Song was put into words by Andrya inspired by a profound cultural clash that reached all the way through young children near us. Admittedly there is some kind of story behind each one.
I've always wanted to know more about 'River's Edge', it's so frenzied - can you tell us a little about that song?
Sarah:: I had done a done a lot of private writing when I was younger, which I rarely shared with others. At some point I shared some of that with Andrya for creative use/inspiration, and some years later I started to have a kind of nervous writer's block about that kind of writing, maybe because the landscape for it's output had changed so much. Andrya encouraged me to throw together quick thoughts about that pressure/block, and keep focused on the underlying knowledge that it was surpassable even tho it seemed like a heavy black cloud. We took some of those short phrases and put them to song, to my own chagrin sort of in a way that almost says “doesn't take much... expresses a lot”. Definitely a “less is more” track lyrically. We molded it and some other artist references were thrown in by Andrya, and thus the lyrics were born. The music came out of an old jam that we sometimes played for warm up and focus. Exploration within the basic guitar structure, for me. And Andrya's desire to command a drumroll into a new orchestration it'd never seen before. The mechanics of her structured performance through the song take a tremendous amount of skill and commitment – a very visceral live experience.
New York is a hotbed for art of all kinds - where do you pull inspiration from where there's so much on your doorstep?
Sarah:: Same old same old – a moment, a feeling, an event, an experience, a newsflash, a striking visual, something you think you want to forget, a song...
On the same note, NY is packed with artists and bands - what do you think it takes to play and survive as a musician in such a creatively busy environment?
Sarah:: Something excitingly done or new or re-imagined or thrillingly replicated or all of the above. Commitment (both time and money are seriously abused in these endeavor). Luck?
I've read you guys are Laurie Anderson fans and that the band name is a reference to her. There was a retrospective recently of Anderson's stuff at the Barbican not too long ago. A highlight was her pillow piece where the audience had to put their head on a pillow which rested on a plinth to hear music playing inside it, the audience's participation and experience gave the piece it's meaning. With this in mind, your shows are really intense do you ever aspire to have a connection or affect your audience in this kind of way?
Sarah:: Connection yes. I've finally started looking people right in the eye, whether they like that or not I have no idea. But the show isn't defined by their experience...
Last time I saw you play it was in a basement on the Lower East side and distinctly remember the room being gripped by your performance, do you like playing smaller spaces?
Sarah:: We've had great 'bigger' shows too, but small ones can end up feeling... intense.
I'm super excited you're coming to London to play with Wire - are there any dates you're particularly looking forward to on your upcoming tour?
Sarah:: It's like the UK local tour! Very exciting to be seeing so many places in England, and looking forward to returning to Scotland. Later w/oWire, Paris should be lovely, opening for Jad Fair.
What shows have you played that have been highlights?
Sarah:: I had a really nice time recently when we played in San Francisco @ a place called Secret Alley. Wicked DIY venue.
Are there any other projects or goings on we should be looking out for from you ladies?
Sarah:: Right before we leave on tour I'm pleased to be taking part in the performance of a Ben Frost composition for 6 guitarists.
'I'm full of dust and guitars' - Syd Barrett, if you were cracked open what would be inside?
Sarah:: Blood and organs.
11/15 @ HMV Institute w/ Wire Birmingham, UK
11/16 @ Manchester 3 w/ Wire Manchester, UK
11/17 @ Liquid Room w/ Wire Edinburgh, UK
11/18 @ The Arches w/ Wire Glasgow, UK
11/19 @ Academy 2 w/ Wire Newcastle, UK
11/20 @ Brudenell Social Club w/ Wire Leeds, UK
11/22 @ Concorde 2 w/ Wire Brighton, UK
11/24 @ XOYO w/ Wire London, UK
11/25 @ Academy 2 w/ Wire Liverpool, UK
11/26 @ Whelans w/ Wire Dublin, IR
11/29 @ Thekla w/ Wire Bristol, UK
11/30 @ Phoenix w/ Wire Exeter, UK
12/01 @ The Globe w/ Wire Cardiff, UK
12/02 @ Academy 2 w/ Wire Oxford, UK
12/03 @ The Plug w/ Wire Sheffield, UK
12/05 @ Shacklewell Arms w/ Noveller + more London, UK
12/06 @ Magasin 4 Brussels, BEL
12/07 @ Petit Bain w/ Jad Fair Paris, FRA
Talk Normal website
Check out a live sessions on Free Music Archive
Talk Normal Facebook
Friday, October 14, 2011
Guitars set to a pace of drudgery and ritualistic rhythms escalate alongside indecipherable spluttered vocals are at the core of Drosofile's single 'Mal'. This noise piece is; French man Nicolas Murer (Mulan Serrico) and America's Will Foster (Guinea Worms). A duo who, could have possibly found common ground sharing a few Brainbombs records in their collections. In a vacuum of paranoia this single summons an out of body experience with its banausic currents of siren guitars played beside metronomic beats which curiously ascend to nowhere. Initially released on a limited edition tape by Stochastic Releases 'Mal' will now be Drosofile's debut single due next month for French label SDZ Records (The Rebel, Liminanas, The Mantles). A really exciting new project with an equally brilliant video to match - a piece aptly in time for Halloween.
Find copies here
Thursday, October 13, 2011
London's Way Through have made a zine coinciding with their debut album release 'Arrow Shower' on Upset the Rhythm.
'Deep Map Project' delves into Bethnal Green's history alongside exploring Chris and Claire's personal experiences of things that lay right on their doorstep. The painstaking research that went into writing this offers a richer understanding of the area, and the duo's individual input expounding on what they treasure in this part of Tower Hamlets gives a unique spin on telling Bethnal Green's story.
Lovingly made with a hand drawn map, photographs and a mix CD to accompany the piece, this zine celebrates a much loved area of East London - a truly inspiring zine.
More on where to find a copy on Way Through's Blog
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Belly Kids is a new publishers specializing in zines, tapes, records and comics. They released a split tape with noise hit-makers Roseanne Barrr (London) and Gropetown (Glasgow) over the summer, here's a little bit about the release in their own words...
"Roseanne Barrr are a hypnotic Bass and Drum power duo full of distorted guitar sounds, meticulous drum patterns and teen-cult chants. Gropetown are a DIY punk troupe heralding from Glasgow. Reminiscent of Arab on Radar, Holy Molar and XBXRX the music is ultra chaotic, unquestionably tight and seriously rowdy.
The Tape is limited to 100 and features a hand printed sleeve of lyrics and writing. We are so super stoked both bands are busy on tour and you can catch them up and down the country!!"
Find the tape at Belly Kids
Listen to tracks on Belly Kids Bandcamp
Saturday, October 8, 2011
There's an influx of bands around right now fitting the 'pop' 'punk' 'garage' description and while you may think you've heard it all before Royal Headache does something so right with this much loved genre. For their debut release this foursome from Sydney Australia took on Mikey Young of Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Straight Arrows' Owen Penglis for production duties. The twelve songs on 'Royal Headache' are a whirlwind of addictive guitar riffs, rabid rhythms and Shogun's unparalleled voice, making this record hard to stop listening to. Delivered with a heady rush you'd expect from the Wipers, Royal Headache race with the infectiousness of 70's Power Poppers The Nerves alongside frenetic garage rock. Opener "Never Again" sets the tone with a joyously intense energy level that increases through the following four short and fast songs, a personal highlight on Side A is "Pyschotic Episode". Things are taken down a notch with instrumental "Two Kinds", letting things cool off until closer "Pity" brings the album neatly round full circle with one last fiery number. Out on RIP Society in Australia and Eighteen Records in Europe - yet another must have album from down under.
Royal Headache Facebook
Royal Headache-Psychotic Episode by Gilded Gutter
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Total Control's run of 7"s leading up to debut 'Henge Beat' had already won me over. It was surprising that after immediately enjoying singles like 'Retiree' (Iron Lung Records, 2009) and 'Total Control' (Aarght Records! 2008) this new full length didn't have the same instant impact. Instead, 'Henge Beat' has proven to be a grower and is another great example of how when something doesn't grab you straight away it pays off to persevere with it. Australia's Total Control are; Mikey Young, Guitar (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Ooga Boogas, Brain Children) and Dan Stewart, Vocals (UV Race, Straitjacket Nation, Stained Circles, Distort zine), Alistair Montfort, Guitar (UV Race), Zephyr Pavey, Bass (a photographer), James Vinciguerra, Drums (The Collapse, AIDS) . These eleven bleak songs brimming with paranoia are akin to English Post Punk bands like The Prefects, Swell Maps and Glaxo Babies. Personal highlights are "One More Night", "Love Performance" and "Carpet Rash", this album isn't to be missed and is more rewarding with each listen.
Total Control Bandcamp
Saturday, October 1, 2011
The first full album from Veronica Falls arrives on Slumberland (Bella Union in the UK) after a run of well-received singles and an EP of their spellbinding boy/girl harmonies and dark, echo-laden indie-pop won over Captured Tracks, No Pain In Pop and Wichita Recordings. This London quartet rose from the embers of the Royal We and Sexy Kids in 2009, and recorded their debut LP with Guy Fixsen (My Bloody Valentine, the Breeders) and Ash Workman (Metronomy, Summer Camp). Veronica Falls' stormy pop songs balance uplifting melodies with dark undercurrents; "Beachy Head" is named after the white cliffs in Eastbourne, well known for being a suicide hot spot in Britain, and the single's swoon-some sing-along melody, with unhinged vocals mirrored by jarring guitars, finds the track dealing out happy and sad in equal measure. This kind of tragicomic songwriting has much precedent in British indie, and sure enough, the band's lineage in twee and C86 is easy to follow; Veronica Falls aren't challenging the past, but breathing new life into the genre. Another album highlight is "Right Side of My Brain" which finds Roxanne Clifford defiantly singing, "Take your hands off me" alongside rattled guitars and forthright rhythms, and indeed, these twelve vexing pop songs are delivered at a consistent feverish pace that are as heartfelt as they are heartbroken. Veronica Falls is a joy to behold from start to finish, easily one of my favorite records of the year.
(written for edited by Other Music)
Beachy Head by Veronica Falls
Buy from Other Music
Veronica Falls website
Veronica Falls Facebook