Document 129175

TRUCKEE BROTHERS o R YAN FERGUSON o THE POWER-CHORDS o GLISS o EMER Y BYRD o BUSDRIVER o FISHBONE
FLOGGING
MOL L Y
NOV|DEC 2006 FREE
c
NOV|DEC 2006
ONTENTS
03
editor’s note
05
rumor / local picks
06
THE OWER-CHORDS
preview: Generation Wise
08
G LISS
10
E MERY BYRD
12
T RUCKEE BROTHERS
16
22
26
COVER PHOTO: FLOGGING MOLLY : KIM LOSTROSCIO
P
preview: Huh What?
backstage: “I Don’t Give A...”
opening act: Full Tilt
FLOGGING MOLLY
headliner: Drunken Lullabies
R YAN FERGUSON
spotlight: Then & Now...
cd reviews
Goddamn Electric Bill : The Transit War
Zindu : Fifty On Their Heels
Cattle Decapitation : Mower
28
B URNING MAN
32
B USDRIVER
34
F ISHBONE
36
the local pyle BY TIM PYLES
culture: The Medicated Dream
backstage: Get On The Bus
live: @ Canes
M U S I CM AT T E R S
01
editor ’s note o
M U S I C M AT T E R S
m
a
g
a
editor/copy
creative director/photography
z
i
KIM LOSTROSCIO
MICHAEL CALDWELL
ANDREW MCINTOSH
BART MENDOZA
GREG PASSMORE
MARY SMEDES PIKE
TIM PYLES
KIM SCHWENK
WILL K. SHILLING
MARK P. SMITH
contributing photographers
FRANK LEE DRENNEN
KEVIN ESTRADA
PIPER FERGUSON
GREG PASSMORE
DEREK PLANK
MATT WEATHERS
[email protected]
office: 858.581.6280
distribution
publisher
BEAU’S DISTRIBUTION SERVICE
GREG PASSMORE
MUSICMATTERS MAGAZINE
Please send all submission queries, CD’s, and any other
questions for review/publication.
ATTN: JEN HILBERT
P.O. Box 9101 San Diego, CA 92169
phone: 858.581.6280
fax: 858.273.5377
email: [email protected]
MUSICMATTERS Magazine, issue NOV|DEC 2006. Copyright © 2006 by
MUSICMATTERS Magazine. Reproduction in whole or part without permission
is prohibited. Letters to MUSICMATTERS Magazine are assumed intended
for publication in whole or part without permission from the writer. MUSICMATTERS Magazine does not necessarily endorse the lifestyles depicted in
these pages. This magazine is intended for mature audiences, and both the magazine publisher and staff encourage you to live a responsible, healthy and balanced
lifestyle while supporting your local community and abiding by its laws. Please
don’t become one of the many tragic statistics of musicians overdosing, harming
others or generally behaving like an idiot.
02
M U S I C M AT T E R S
editor
e
JEN HILBERT
contributing writers
advertising
n
Jen Hilbert
IF YOU HAD ASKED ME 11 MONTHS AGO WHAT
I thought the likelihood was of publishing another
issue of Music Matters, I would have put the chances
equivalent to Guns N’ Roses releasing their longawaited Chinese Democracy sometime this year. But
as of this writing two unlikely things have occurred Guns N’ Roses issued a press release which hints that
Chinese Democracy will hit store shelves by December
and Music Matters is back in print. So I guess it’s fair to
say that you can never say never.
When we ran the last issue of Music Matters in
December of 2005, it was very difficult to say goodbye.
I shed more than a few tears at the publication’s end.
If you’ve ever started a magazine or, for that matter,
if you’ve ever put your heart and soul into something
you cared deeply about, you know the pain of having
to say goodbye. Everyone worked so hard to make the
magazine a success, from the staff who worked all
hours of the day and night, to the freelance writers,
to San Diego locals like Tim Pyles and Bart Mendoza,
to local bands who went out of their way to spread the
word and advertisers who took a chance on a startup
publication. I was truly in awe of how many people
came together to support the magazine.
Whether or not the magazine was a success is open
to interpretation. Was it a financial success? No. Was
it successful at entertaining readers? I hope so. Did it
strive to be better and better all the time? I know so.
And that’s why when the opportunity arose to do it
again I said yes.
The risk of failure is still there but it’s worth taking
the risk, because when something that so many people
put their heart and soul into succeeds I’ve got to believe
it’s worth a dozen failures for that one sweet success.
o Jen
M U S I CM AT T E R S
03
o
Tiger Army To Produce New Album With Jerry Finn
rumor
LOCAL PICKS
Various Artist
International Pop Overthrow Volume 9
Not Lame Records
Released - September 2006
Genre - Pop / Powerpop / Rock
internationalpopoverthrow.com
The North Atlantic
Wires In The Walls
We Put Out Records
Released - July 2006
Genre - Punk / Alternative
thenorthatlantic.com
TIGER ARMY : KEVIN ESTRADA
+44 : PUREVOLUME
OPPOSITE: SABA PHOTO: KIM LOSTROSCIO
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PSYCHOBILLY ROCKERS, TIGER ARMY,
recently announced that they are heading into the studio to record a new album with acclaimed producer Jerry Finn. Finn has produced albums for AFI,
Rancid, Bad Religion, Morrissey, blink-182 and +44. According to Tiger Army’s MySpace page, frontman Nick 13 had this to say about working with
Finn, “I’m incredibly excited to work with Jerry. He was the only person on my
wishlist of prospective producers. We see eye to eye on everything from our
love of analog tape and vintage gear to the sad state of rock music, and I can’t
wait to hear what someone of his caliber will do for us sonically.” The new,
yet-to-be-titled, Tiger Army album is scheduled for release next year and will
include the track “LunaTone” which Tiger Army performed live on their last
tour. www.tigerarmy.com
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M U S I C M AT T E R S
Hoppus And Barker Minus DeLonge Equals +44
+44, the new band
of former blink182 members Mark
Hoppus and Travis
Barker, is scheduled to release its
debut cd When
Your Heart Stops
Beating on November 14th, 2006.
The cd contains 12
tracks, including
their first single,
the catchy “When Your Heart Stops Beating”, and the very personal, “No It
Isn’t”, a song about the blink-182 “hiatus”. Hoppus and Barker formed +44
after they parted ways with blink-182 bandmember Tom DeLonge in early
2005. The two are joined on +44’s debut album by Transplants touring guitarist Craig Fairbaugh and lead guitarist for The Nervous Return, Shane Gallagher. +44 started a 29-city tour in support of the new album on October 13th.
The tour is scheduled to conclude on November 22nd in Detroit, Michigan.
For more info go to www.plusfortyfour.com.
The Bronx
The Bronx II
Island Def Jam/White Drugs
Released - July 2006
Genre - Punk / Rock / Hardcore
thebronxxx.com
Matt Curreri & The Exfriends
Exercise Music for the Lonely
City Salvage Records
Released - April 2006
Genre - Punk / Country / Rock
mattcurreri.com
Ferraby Lionheart
Ferraby Lionheart EP
Self-Produced
Released - March 2006
Genre - Indie / Folk / Pop
ferrabylionheart.com
The Bloody Hollies
If Footmen Tire You...
Alive Records
Released - August 2005
Genre - Rock / Blues / Punk
bloodyhollies.com
M U S I CM AT T E R S
05
preview
o
power
-chords
the
KIM SCHWENK | Words
KIM LOSTROSCIO | Photos
Generation Wise
“THE BEST PART OF THE SANDWICH
is…the last bite!” exclaimed Eliseo (Seo) Parra, guitarist of the Power-Chords, right before
gobbling down his food with a satisfying “mmmmm” ending. This wasn’t before the rock-paper-scissors match with drummer Austin Ballow to get the best half of the sandwich in the
beginning. What some would guess an obvious
weekend chat with a local punk band would be
like, actually proved to be anything but typical.
Originally from Chula Vista, The PowerChords, a four-piece “power pop” punk rock
band, got their start around the summer of
2003, practicing in Ballow’s garage since day
one. Previously making contact through high
school and having similar interests in music. “I
used to play in a band with Craig’s brother, oh,
not the band, the guy” laughed vocalist/guitarist Jon Hammer, “That’s how I got hooked up
with Craig. He really wanted to play bass in a
band, so I said I’ll teach you.”
Initially, Hammer played drums and Ballow
played guitar. Soon after, the lineup changed
with Craig Barclift on bass, Ballow on drums,
which he picked up in no time, Hammer on
rhythm guitars and vocals and Parra on lead
guitar with vocal duties as well. Hammer remembers, “I just wanted to play a punk beat,
‘cause I really hadn’t heard too much, everything was hardcore, that was too fast or too
slow not dancey.” He continued, “That’s really
the main point of our band; to be more danceable and melodic but punk”.
Actually starting a band wasn’t really a skill
issue for the Power-Chords, all of the members
began with some sort of classical training, subsequently gaining smart initiatives over time to
handle the business aspects of promotion, etc.
“One of the big motivations at the time was the
lack of music. There was a lot of non-memorable music to me in the year 2000,” recalled
Hammer. “Punk shows were more and more
sparse and all ages shows weren’t booking.”
The term “power pop” is used to describe
the band’s sound, however, as the band agreed,
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M U S I C M AT T E R S
it’s a grossly misused term in music today.
Their influences, they originally started covering Rolling Stones songs, run the gamut from
NOFX to early UK and American punk from
the 1970s. Ironically, while the band doesn’t
listen to NOFX anymore, they agreed that
NOFX were a good resource to uncover bands
like Minor Threat and The Dickies. “They definitely did love punk.” Is there a preference then
between the UK and the US sound? “I personally prefer the British sound,” stated Hammer,
while Ballow noted, “there were so many good
UK acts like The Boys and the Buzzcocks, but
the Ramones are just huge.” Craig laughed and
went on to say “someone recently described
our sound as British, but with more balls.”
So we have four early twenties lads, what
possibly could they be musing about? Since
Hammer writes all of the songs lyrically, he
said, “honestly, most of the songs are about
girls,” (snicker, snicker) “or drug use, family
issues, but the underlying point is something
everyone can understand, nothing too social or
political.” Parra chimed in “Jon’s writing is so
literal, as opposed to coded writing with heavy
metaphorical content. It’s just direct, but coming from someone who is educated, not necessarily simple.” The music itself has a familiar
sound environment, but as Hammer said, it
is kind of bent. “You know, to get away from
sounding like the same Beatles song.”
Having spent their lives growing up in San
Diego, the guys acknowledged quite an impressive back catalogue of local music history.
They’ve given great personal interest to The
Zeros, and more recently to the garage and
mod revival sounds of The Crawdaddys, TellTale Hearts, Gravedigger 5, and Manual Scan.
Although for them, SD punk may not have a
defining moment in music history, the reception of their band recently is quite encouraging.
“We’ve played some shows lately in San Diego
that have been some of my favorite shows,”
said Barclift. “For a while our best turnouts
have been in LA.”
While the Power-Chords hands down agree
all ages shows are the best, they still haven’t
been booked at the larger all ages venues like
Epicenter and SOMA. So in the true spirit of
punk, they throw guerilla shows. That aspect
is just one frustrating part of being in a band.
Hammer says getting screwed on a time slot
adds to the frustration when all the kids have
a curfew. Add to that, general mood and artistic issues, but for the most part the band acts
and follows through in a hierarchy, but with a
genuine and professional attitude. “We don’t
get mad at Jon when he acts like a (orchestral)
conductor,” grinned Parra.
The band has now finished up recording
their new single release “Unattached Strings
b/w Dreamgirl” on 7” vinyl to be released on
Matt Friction’s (of The Pink Spiders) record label Mean Buzz based out of Nashville. “Initially
we were in a hurry to press the record and go on
tour, but decided to wait and make the record
better. But for sure it will be out before December,” Hammer stated and then laughed “We
might make a CD for all the normal people.”
Even though the Power-Chords have a full
plate of possible tours, local gigs, with one in
Hawaii at a scooter rally, and record mixing,
they manage an academic agenda as well, with
majors in music, electrical engineering, business, ecology and botany. “Our band is like an
outlet for our very serious agendas in our lives
and we’ll keep playing music as long as people
want to hear it,” Hammer noted.
And we as fans should want to hear it, because the Power-Chords have a intellectual
mechanism that makes them tick. It’s punk
with prowess, true grit and musicianship. They
not only understand and respect the warm soul
of our rock ancestors or the grand performance
of live orchestra, they have the ability to channel sincere integrity lost by many of their generation. As Hammer profoundly noted in parting words, “When an orchestra is on the edge
of bankruptcy, what’s that saying about the real
appreciation of music today, you know?” o
CRAIG BARCLIFT | Vocals - Bass AUSTIN BALLOW | Drums JON HAMMER | Vocals - Guitar SEO PARRA | Vocals - Guitar M U S I CM AT T E R S
07
o
preview
gliss
JEN HILBERT | Words
MATT WEATHERS | Photos
Huh What?
“NOT ONLY DID I HAVE THE ALBUM, I
had a huge poster of Dee Snider!” Victoria
Cecilia says in between laughs. This is a bit of
a surprise considering that Cecilia makes up
one-third of LA’s Gliss, a band whose moody,
textured rock has been favorably compared to
The Libertines and Baby Shambles. I guess
I expected a member of a band who has been
hailed “utterly sexy” to be a little more haughty. Cecilia is anything but. She readily admits,
like many kids of that time, she had a thing
for Twisted Sister. Despite rubbing shoulders
with some of rock’s elite - Gliss has toured with
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Editors and
Billy Corgan - Cecilia is very down-to-earth.
I caught up with her shortly before she and
her fellow bandmembers, Martin Klingman
and David Reiss, headed out on tour in support of their new album Love The Virgins,
to learn a bit more about the band and what
makes Cecilia tick.
bought me a drum kit and a piano when I was
very little. They’ve always been very supportive
of the whole music thing. And they sent me to
music school when I was very young.
I just recently became familiar with your
band. How did you meet Martin and David?
Well they (Klingman and Reiss) were actually already playing together and I was playing in a different band and we started doing
shows together.
Did you get to know him throughout the tour?
Yeah, we hung out with him a little bit. You
know, you don’t see each other much cause
right after the show you leave again to go to
the next country. But we saw each other during
sound checks and right after the shows. He’s a
very cool guy.
What was the name of the band that you
were playing in?
The old band I was playing in was called Aeon
Spoke. There’s a bunch of bands in Silverlake
so we all kind of know each other. So they
(Gliss) ended up needing a bass player. In the
beginning I was just really helping them out
but I was really into it and then I ended up being the permanent bass player.
You moved to the US from Denmark. When
you were growing up, what was your family
like? Were they musical too?
No (laughs) actually I was the only one, which
is really strange. But my parents were really
cool. I guess they were really into it cause they
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What kind of music did you enjoy listening
to when you were growing up?
Well my first, (breaks into laughter) the first
album I ever got was Back in Black. I listened
to that and I listened to Twisted Sister when I
was really young. That’s the earliest I remember was like AC/DC and Twisted Sister and
then I ended up listening more to Metallica and
Slayer - so it was rock but I guess heavy rock.
I saw that Gliss toured with Billy Corgan.
Were you surprised when he asked you to
tour with him?
I think I was just more excited than surprised. I
mean, I guess maybe I was surprised but I was
just so excited.
Everyone that I’ve seen that’s written anything about Gliss always talks about the fact
that you trade instrumental duties onstage.
Was that done for any particular reason?
Yeah, because we kind of needed to have somebody play drums. We auditioned different
drummers and we didn’t really find a guy that
worked. The three of us ending up getting really close - we got along very well from the beginning. So it was kind of hard to find a fourth
person that would just fit in. Martin used to be
a drummer, so he ended up playing drums on
some songs, and I’ve programmed drums for
a very long time so we did a lot of drum programming for the songs and then we just kind
of ended up playing drums too - me and David.
In the beginning it was just for fun, jamming at
rehearsal, but it somehow worked better live
using real drums and we didn’t think it was a
good idea for Martin to sit behind the drum kit
the whole time because he’s the singer. So we
all started taking turns.
What things do you enjoy doing when you are
not playing music? Do you have any hobbies?
I actually have a couple. I love reading.
What are some of your favorite authors?
Dostoevsky, Kafka, F. Scott Fitzgerald and
JD Salinger. I guess my favorite if I have to
pick one would be Kafka. And I make my own
clothes. I’ve always thought it was pretty fun to
just come up with different designs for dresses
and jackets so when I have time, I start making
my own clothes.
So have you ever considered at some point
maybe starting a clothing line?
Yeah. I could definitely see myself doing that at
some point.
We talked a little bit about music that you
used to like, what bands inspire you now?
I actually listen a lot to jazz but I love the bands
we’ve toured with. I love BRMC, and I love Billy Corgan of course. I don’t really listen to a lot
of rock music anymore.
Do you have any heroes that have really inspired you? They don’t have to be music-related.
Yes, Sarah Silverman - I think she’s hilarious.
She is so funny and really honest. She’ll just say
the craziest stuff. I love that. I love comedians.
I think they are so cool. They just get up there
all alone and then they’ll just say all of these
crazy things. I love that.
Gliss performs at Cinespace November 14th.
To learn more about Cecilia and the other members of Gliss go to www.gliss.tv o
REISS | Guitar - Bass - Drums - Tamborine CECILIA | Bass - Drums - Vox - Programming KLINGMAN | Vox - Guitar - Bass - Drums M U S I CM AT T E R S
09
backstage
o
emery bYrd
MARK P. SMITH | Words
KIM LOSTROSCIO | Photos
“I Don’t Give A F*!k About The Sex Pistols, They Never Meant A Thing To Me.”
BY THE LOOKS OF THE CROWD YOU’D
have thought the Killers were playing. The
Beauty Bar stage-front area was packed wallto-wall, and a small group of adoring female
fans had begun to gather toward the front.
The finish of each successive song elicited
a stronger and stronger response from the
crowd, who were visibly enthralled by what
they were hearing. When the intentionally
brief set came to an end, several inquiring audience members approached the band to ask
them where they were from.
“We’re from here.”
“Really?”
This is not an uncommon exchange for the
members of Emery Byrd, who have maintained
a modest yet sustainable presence on the San
Diego music scene for the past two years. In
those two years they’ve recorded and toured
with Louis XIV, opened for Youth Group,
Gram Rabbit, Transfer, Ryan Ferguson, Dirty
Sweet and others, been a featured artist on 91X
radio station and in San Diego City Beat, been
nominated for two San Diego Music Awards,
and appeared in publications from Atlanta to
Montreal. So why haven’t you heard of them?
The trend of our new generation of consumers - we will most likely be called “The MySpace
Generation” - seems to be our short attention
spans. With a constant and readily accessible
stream of new bands and free music, we have
become increasingly insatiable when it comes
to what we listen to. We latch onto one band after another - whichever we consider the “next
big thing” at the time - only long enough to
chew it up, spit it out and replace it with something new. It’s as if knowing about a band before they’re popular has become some kind of
currency, and that currency is no longer of value once the band has had some success. These
poor bands are built up and rallied around one
minute, then thrown by the wayside the next.
“Overall that’s my biggest problem,” remarks guitarist and songwriter Brandon Leck.
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“This unwarranted buzz and hype, it’s just
meaningless, it’s totally baseless. Everybody
is looking for the next thing that they can call
their own before anybody else hops on it. ‘Oh,
you haven’t heard about this band? Oh, they’re
great!’ And then as soon as they do anything,
they’re a fucking sellout. That’s what I never
understood about punk music - like Green Day.
Why do you care if a band makes it and gets
signed to a major label? It’s so counteractive.
God forbid, what if Nirvana never signed to
Geffen? That’s depriving the world of Nirvana.
That’s terrible! To what? To keep their indie
cred; to make albums like Bleach?”
Amazingly, Emery Byrd has managed to bypass most of this nonsense. They have stayed
unwaveringly true to themselves and their music. They have achieved what they have based
on their own merit and their unwavering commitment to each other and to their music. Instead of whoring themselves out on MySpace,
they just do what they do and they do it well,
and they let people come to them. A tight core
of friendship and a shared understanding of
who they are, where they come from, and where
they’re going keep them moving forward.
“I think that’s the crux of it - the five of us and
our relationship with each other. This is pretty
much all we have out here. That’s why we’re
still together. You don’t want to let anybody
down because that’s your family.”
Their family got a bit bigger when they first
moved to San Diego and fate brought them
together with Jason Hill and Brian Karscig
of Louis XIV, who took the Byrds under their
wing, so to speak. That was the beginning of a
long-term friendship that is still in place today.
“We could learn a lot from Louis because we
could learn what to do and what not to, and
that was an important thing at the time for us
to figure out. I think at one time they had the
same relationship that we did. We were taken
on in the beginning as like, little brothers. We
were a bit wide-eyed with them, because obvi-
ously they’d been around here, they knew this
place, and they introduced us to a lot of different people, and it immediately gave us exposure. But we moved out here to be our band. I
didn’t personally come out here to be their little
brother band or to ride any coattails. We’ve always been our own separate entity, we haven’t
pandered to anyone.”
As Emery Byrd gears up to record their first
full-length album this month, there are high
hopes about the direction their newest material is taking. The new songs stand out a head
above the old, and there is no mistaking that
the new stuff is their most confident.
“If we could have written these songs five
years ago, we would have,” Leck says matterof-factly. “There’s a little bit more directness to
them. If you listen to the first EP, the lyrics and
stuff, it’s a little booze-drenched. We were kind
of dancing around the subject, where now it
has a clearer voice, and the music is more closely lining up with the subject matter.” The Byrds
will record with local producer Ben Moore.
“We’re gonna try to make it a full-length. We
have a ton of songs, all of which feel like they
work really well together. You write about what
you know… We’re working class kids - that’s
what we know. And I think all these new songs
are a direct reflection of that.”
As far as their goals, selling out the Casbah isn’t really high on their priority list. “It
doesn’t mean that much. I would rather play
to a place of ten people with somebody in it
who can go, ‘I get it.’ The hipsters are never
gonna care about us. [But] we’re happy with
the kind of music we’re making… which is
most important. I gave up a long time ago on
honestly giving a shit if there are 40 people
[at a show] and 38 of them don’t care. It’s ok.
It’s no big deal. We like the songs we’re making; we have a lot of confidence in them.” And
that confidence is what sets Emery Byrd apart
from their peers. That’s what is making people notice. www.emerybyrd.com o
BOBBY PRATT | Bass ANDY POZNIAK | Guitar NICK ROPPO | Drums MATT CARASTRO | Vox BRANDON LECK | Guitar M U S I CM AT T E R S
11
o
opening act
Truckee
brothers
BART MENDOZA | Words
FRANK LEE DRENNEN | Photos
Full Tilt
“THIS CAN’T BE THE PLACE,” SAID MY
friend. I had to agree the house standing in
the dark before us didn’t look like the sort of
place rock ‘n’ roll might dwell. It’s a beautiful, old home, lit up from the front, and we
can’t help feeling like we’re in a bit of a time
warp standing there. But it’s been said, you
can’t judge a book by its cover, and that
proves to be the case here. Inside the front
window through the curtains we can just
about make out Cady Truckee, aka Christopher Hoffee, crouched over a piano, playing
a tune and greeting us with the traditional
words, “It’s open.” Anyone passing by
would not suspect that this home doubles as
The Truckee Brother’s world headquarters,
housing their own Chaos recording studio
and their label Populuxe, with the living
room, complete with friendly dog, doubling
as rehearsal space.
The story of The Truckee Brothers only
goes back three years, but there is a lot of
history before that. Cady has eight releases
to his credit, having spent time performing
with his bands Five Crown and Blacksmith
Union, as well as issuing discs under the
name Atom Orr. Peat Truckee, better known
as Patrick Dennis, also has a storied past,
touring with Dave Sharp of eighties rockers
The Alarm, gigging alongside Byron Nash
and fronting the MacAnany’s. Over the
band’s 36 months or so in existence, there
have been various other Truckees - including brothers Orida (O of Reeve Oliver and
Fluf), Remi (Jack Reynolds of Momma) and
GTO (Clark Stacer of Loam) - who have left
for the usual reasons.
The lineup solidified earlier this year with
the addition of a new rhythm section; drummer Hemi Way Truckee aka Matt Lynott (of
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Elgin Park, Wirepony, and Jade Shader)
and bassist Ott Truckee, otherwise known
as Greg Friedman. This bassist has a smaller resume, but has issued a solo album,
Souls of Passing Feet. The sound the band
is currently making however is greater than
the sum of its part. Sure, it’s rock, but there
are enough twists and turns in the band’s
music to make even the most jaded listener take notice. The key to their music is
in the songwriting and the signature twin
vocals of Hoffee and Dennis, but the secret
weapon here is the rhythm section. Lynott
not only packs power into his beats, but
his jazz background makes for particularly
inventive arrangements and percussive effects. Meanwhile Friedman is practically
a third lead guitar player with a style that
compares favorably to a young Bill Wyman
or John Entwhistle.
The genesis of the group, originally just
the duo of Dennis and Hoffee, came together working on recordings for (singer-songwriter) Lisa Sanders. “We were looking for a
name to use for our production work, something like the Dust Brothers or the Glimmer
Twins,” explained Hoffee. “Somehow, the
Adams Ave. Street Fair Association thought
we were a real group, and offered us a slot.
And since we won’t turn down a gig, we put
something together quickly.” Ironically for
these prolific songwriters, their first show
was playing at the annual Sounds Like San
Diego concert, covering hits by other area
artists, but they soon recorded their first EP,
Wall to Wall.
“When we started playing, it was for fun,”
recalled Hoffee. “To be honest we were surprised by the reaction we got.” While working as a duo was fine, it was another local
CADY C. F. TRUCKEE | Volcals - Guitar PEAT M. TRUCKEE | Volcals - Guitar HEMI WAY TRUCKEE | Rhythm musician of note who suggested adding to
their sound. “We played a show at the Casbah with Steve Poltz, and he suggested that
we needed a band. That led directly to our
recording the first album, It Came From the
Speakers, with a fleshed out group.”
The present lineup of the group is a blur of
influences, and maybe that’s what has made
them stand out. They are impossible to pigeonhole. Looking around the studio walls,
you can spot a framed CCR poster, stacks
of vinyl and other memorabilia from rock’s
golden era. “Those are the things that excited us as kids,” remarked Hoffee. But that’s
just scratching the surface. Lynott is big
on jazz. Dennis is particularly fond of The
Clash and other British rockers. And Friedman’s originally a Boston-based classical
guitarist. While his impressive bass runs
might say otherwise, The Truckee Brothers
are his first group playing the instrument.
“I had heard there was an opening in the
band,” laughed Friedman. Unfortunately it
turned out to be on other than his normal instrument. Still, Friedman wasn’t deterred.
“I went out and bought a bass, learned the
parts, and when I came in could already play
the songs.” That kind of enthusiasm made
him an instant Truckee Brother. As for Lynott, he’s not sure at exactly what moment
he passed the audition. “I didn’t realize I
was working with the band full-time until it
was too late to get out,” he deadpanned.
While the band is a firm Southern California favorite, they have also made inroads
into the tough British club scene. It started
by making initial contacts with European
promoters following an appearance at
SXSW in March 2005. After the release of
the album It Came From The Speakers the
M U S I CM AT T E R S
13
opening act
o
“...We had sold out on word of mouth alone.”
o
following month, the band needed to tour
to promote the disc. The quartet at first
thought they had struck gold when they
were offered the opportunity to tour England, opening for Dennis’s old friend Dave
Sharp. Unfortunately, having bought tickets and prepared for the road trip, “The tour
fell apart,” he remembered. “So we went
to England with no shows booked.” Making the best out of a potentially depressing
situation, Dennis and Hoffee arrived a week
before their rhythm section to see if something could be salvaged. To their surprise,
they were able to book a tour quickly. “I
think half the reason it’s hard for American
bands to get gigs in Europe is because club
owners don’t really believe you’re going to
show up,” laughed Dennis. “But since we
were already there, they just said ‘oh, okay,
you can go ahead and set up in that corner.”
By the fourth show the band knew they were
onto something. “We did a sound check and
then went out to get some food. We were actually late getting back when we noticed the
line to get in. We had sold out on word of
mouth alone.”
Their return to San Diego only continued
their upward mobility, with an appearance
on TV’s Fox Rox and the use of their music on MTV’s Real World reality show, San
Diego Music Awards nominations in both
2005 and 2006, as well as sold out shows
at The Casbah within the space of a year.
They have also begun to do film work. In
addition to chronicling their own performances for future DVD release, they have
begun composing soundtrack music for
indie movies. These include a short entitled
Poly Esther, and an upcoming Teri Carson
film which will include their song “Vulcan
Death Grip.”
Zorba the dog bounds in and tries to get
in on the conversation. The pitter-patter of
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M U S I C M AT T E R S
furry feet or the occasional jingling of her
collar does show up on various songs taped
at Chaos. “I think she’s on every recording
we’ve ever done here,” Hoffee joked. With
the amount of material being produced at
this location, this surely makes Zorba the
most recorded canine in San Diego history.
Going hand in hand with the band’s recording work is Populuxe Recordings.
Originally formed to release just The Truckee Brothers discs, it is fast becoming one
of San Diego’s most eclectic labels, with
2007 set to be the imprint’s breakout year.
In addition to band related recordings, the
roster now includes Cindy Lee Berryhill,
Dead Rock West, The Howler, Charlie McCree and even regrouped nineties favorites
Loam, all of which will have albums out on
the label in the first half of 2007. One common feature of the releases is the production work of Dennis and Hoffee, but Friedman and especially Lynott also take part
filling in on the recordings as needed. The
studio has begun hosting high profile artists as well, including the likes of The Blasters’s Dave Alvin, who stopped in to work on
Berryhill’s pending album. “We’re working
out distribution and all the business ends
of things,” said Hoffee. “We have releases
every couple of months next year. There’s
no doubt that this is an amazing amount of
talent and great music we’re talking about
here. We’re hoping for big things.”
At the moment however, the band is
crammed into the studio’s control room,
where they are checking out a new recording, “Mayday.” It’s a dense moody rocker
with hairpin turns and twin guitar lines
reminiscent of Queen’s Brian May. The
band takes perverse pleasure in the fact
that, although the song certainly has hit
potential due to international law, its name
could never be said on the radio, lest it be
mistaken for a distress call. The band is
driven to stretch their musical boundaries.
“Change is a constant,” explained Dennis,
we don’t want to get too comfortable in one
area, so we want to constantly keep pushing
the envelope. It doesn’t work all the time, of
course, but when it does, it’s magic.”
Currently the band is in the studio working on their next album, Double Happiness,
with a tour of England scheduled for early
2007. To date, 19 songs have been taped,
but it’s been a slower process than the band
is accustomed to. After all, their first EP was
recorded and mixed in a mere seventy-two
hours. “Nothing passes muster unless the
whole band approves,” Dennis remarked
of their work ethic. Lynott nods in agreement. “We have albums planned for years
in advance, even box sets,” he quipped. “We
just have to write them.” For the moment,
the band has cut down on their live schedule to concentrate on the new material, but
they still manage to hit the stage every few
weeks. This brings us back to the purpose of
tonight’s band gathering: rehearsal.
Settling in the dining room as the musicians started warming up, it’s clear the band
has the coolest neighbors in town. They’re
going full tilt, complete with large concert
monitors. The room, with its hand-stenciled walls and antiques, is both beautiful
and comfortable, looking more like the setting for a video than any place a band might
rehearse. As the band barrels through the
set they would be showcasing later on that
week, it’s clear that the four are not only
performing well against each other, but
each are bringing something unique to the
table. They are also having a good time just
playing. Dennis smiled as if the reason for
this should be obvious. “We used this band
to recapture why we started playing music
as teenagers,” he said. o
M U S I CM AT T E R S
15
o
headliner
f logging
Molly
JEN HILBERT | Words
KIM LOSTROSCIO | Photos
Drunken Lullabies
ALTHOUGH IT UNDOUBTEDLY SERVED
as a social lubricant, it had to be more than
the consumption of whiskey at the Southern
Comfort Music Experience that had a crowd
of spiked and leather clad punks, Abercrombie & Fitch attired college kids and even some
middle-aged mom and dads dancing with
abandon throughout the parking lot-turnedlive music venue in San Diego’s Gaslamp
Quarter. The scene was a huge celebration
- as if the home team had just won the game
with seconds to spare. Amid the excitement, a
young punk lifted a girl into the air and spun
her around with her feet flying outward (unfortunately her sneaker hit another friend’s
head and they were forced to take their dance
antics back down to terra firma as the whole
group erupted in laughter), while another
group of fans linked arms then skipped in a
circle until they were so dizzy they teetered
back-and-forth like Weeble Wobbles. So if
not the whiskey, what was the source of this
happy-go-lucky mood? The catalyst for the
crowd’s exuberance appeared to be the unique
blend of traditional Irish folk and punk music
played by the headlining act, Los Angelesbased septet, Flogging Molly.
Flogging Molly have been steadily gaining
fans for years. The band got its start when
lead singer and founder Dave King - who
previously played with Motorhead guitarist
Eddie Clarke in the band Fastway - moved
to the U.S. from his native Ireland. He came
to the States to sing for a new band called
Katmandu. Formed with ex-Krokus member,
Mandy Meyer, Katmandu failed to garner
significant interest - they were criticized for
sounding too much like Great White - and
eventually dissolved. But several years later,
King decided to embrace his Irish past and
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M U S I C M AT T E R S
incorporate it into his music. That’s when
things really took off. Since then, the band
has gone from playing a regular gig at the
LA pub Molly Malone’s to touring the world.
They’ve recorded four studio albums, one
live album and have made inroads with the
under-21 crowd through their numerous appearances at the Vans Warped Tour.
I spoke to King and Flogging Molly’s accordionist, Matt Hensley, after the aforementioned Southern Comfort show. We discussed
the band’s formation, their new DVD and the
difficulties of life on the road. When I asked
King about the band’s beginnings he responded in a thick Irish accent, “I got an opportunity
to move to America and I moved here to get a
band together but the band never really happened and at that time, musically, I had ended
all of my ties in Ireland so I thought I’d stay in
America. Things were very quiet for a long time.
But then I met Bridget (referring to Bridget
Regan, Flogging Molly’s fiddle player and sole
female member) about 14 years ago and it just
hit me like a bag of bricks that where I’ve come
from, I’ve never really gone back to the music
that I was brought up on. It just seemed like we
started playing and it seemed to be a really easy
connection and a really easy balance between
traditional music and just music in general but
that wasn’t a conscious thing at the time - that’s
the way it just happened, you know?”
The band eventually grew from two to seven
where it’s remained. In addition to King, Regan and Hensley, the band consists of Dennis
Casey on guitar, Nathen Maxwell on bass,
Robert Schmidt on mandolin and George
Schwindt on drums. Taking a sip from his
beer, Hensley, the former pro-skateboarder
turned accordion player, recalled his somewhat humorous induction into the band.
front: KING | Vocals - Guitar REGAN | Fiddle back: CASEY | Guitar MAXWELL | Bass SCHMIDT | Mandolin SCHWINDT | Drums HENSLEY | Accordion “About six months into playing this accordion, my wife bought me tickets to see this band
called Those Darn Accordions. They were
playing in LA, so I went to see them. Afterwards we went to Molly Malone’s. I was in the
restroom and my friend that was with me just
goes (to Dave King) ‘I don’t know if you’re
gonna start your band again but if you’d like
to, my friend plays accordion.’ Then I walked
out of the bathroom and I sat there. I’d seen
Dave sing once so I recognized him but that
was about it. I was sitting there having my
drink and my friend didn’t tell me what happened and he (referring to King) looked at me
and he tapped my shoulder and I looked at
him and he went ‘Nah!’ and he went on down
to the next guy and looked at him for a second
and went down the whole fuckin’ bar looking
for whatever an accordion player looks like.
Then he came back to me and he’s like ‘You
don’t play the accordion do you?’ And I’m like
‘Yeah I do’. And he’s like ‘Alright, cause it’s
funny, you don’t look like a fuckin’ accordion
player.’” (It’s true - it’s much easier to imagine Hensley as a skater. He’s tall, thin, has a
boyish charm and makes frequent use of the
word ‘like’ in a sentence.)
During this initial meeting, King gave Hensley a tape of his music to listen to. Hensley
took the tape home, learned all the songs and
went to one practice. “That was more scary
than the first show,” Hensley said, “because
this room is full of all these really talented
musicians and I was just like ‘Aw shit! I’m in
way over my head.’ When it was over I’m like
I’m just gonna drive back to San Diego and
that was fun practicin’.” Contrary to Hensley’s assumptions, he got the job. “I drove
home about 2 hours. My wife was like what’s
up and I’m like ‘I’m in the band!’”
M U S I CM AT T E R S
17
18
M U S I C M AT T E R S
S D M U S I CM AT T E R S . C O M
19
headliner
o
“We’re old dudes, we’re kinda fat and we drink a lot”
...but that hasn’t stopped them from releasing a
new DVD and captivating audiences worldwide.
o
Hensley still seems genuinely amazed that
he’s in the band and that they’ve been so successful. “I love what I’m doing and I believe in
it but we’re not all 19 and we don’t all have little sexy bodies. We’re old dudes, we’re kinda
fat, we drink a lot - it’s not MTV... I was just
thinking we’d be this kickass band, we’d tour
a little bit, but it just grew. It got bigger than
anybody can figure out.”
The band’s history and inner workings were
recently captured on film for a documentary
that’s available as part of their latest release, a
CD/DVD combo entitled Whiskey On A Sunday. While you might be inclined to think the
decision to do a documentary was some kind of
marketing/publicity strategy, it wasn’t planned
at all. The band hadn’t considered a documentary until they were approached by the producers who thought Flogging Molly would make
intriguing subject matter. “We were like, alright, if someone wants to film our sorry asses
we shouldn’t say no.” a self-deprecating Hensley remarked. Apparently the filmmakers were
so discreet the band rarely remembered they
were there, except when it came to poker. “One
of our tourists said he (the cameraman) never
played poker and he was pretty fuckin’ good.”
said Hensley. “He took some of our money. I
was a little irritated with that, but that was the
only time I knew he was on the bus.”
The resulting film is a better than average
hour and a half long documentary that follows the band on tour and gives viewers an
intimate glimpse into the lives of Flogging
Molly’s members. With seven people in a
band you might expect it to come off like an
episode of MTV’s Real World - full of fights
and hissy fits - but they really don’t have any of
those moments. “Every once in a while they’ll
be some crazy bit of business, like Nathen will
get drunk and spill a bunch of shit on me or
somebody and then we’ll talk shit for a little
bit,” Hensley admitted, “but then we’ll be
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M U S I C M AT T E R S
hugging an hour later.” This is amazingly rare
for any band, let alone one with seven members. Hensley agreed. “I know. I meet people
that are in bands that are three pieces, and I
won’t say their name, but I grew up thinking
these guys rule and they must love the fuck
out of each other and then I meet them and it
turns out they get three dressing rooms cause
they hate each other’s guts. I just can’t believe
it. You know, a three piece is on the verge of
killing each other and we’re a seven piece and
we’re relatively cool and calm. If you ever see
us and there’s seven dressing rooms then you
know we’ve gone the wrong direction.”
Unlike many rock band documentaries filled
with parties, groupies and enough alcohol to
make Mel Gibson put his foot in his mouth
more than a few times, the Flogging Molly
film includes candid, heartfelt confessions
about the toll living on the road can take on relationships with family and friends. A particular tear-jerker moment comes when King describes a heartbreaking reunion with his mom.
After spending eight years in LA, with an inability to return to Ireland, King went back to
see his mother. When he knocked on her door,
she answered it, but she no longer recognized
him. When I asked King what that was like he
said, “That was a harrowing time and a time I
never want to go back to, but since then we’ve
totally rebuilt our relationship.”
Part of their relationship rebuilding is
caught on film when King, his mom and Regan return to King’s father’s grave in the documentary. It’s the first time they’ve been there
since King’s father passed away when he was
ten years old. “To bring my family to see him,
that was important. He was one of the biggest
influences I’ve ever had in my life, if not the
biggest.” King said.
King pays homage to his father and other
friends and family throughout Flogging Molly’s music. For example, “Laura”, the new stu-
dio track off Whiskey On A Sunday. “That was
a friend of mine who passed away,”King said,
“I chose to write a song about what she left behind. Just a celebration. Like a lot of songs are
about my father and to me remembering them
through song keeps the spirit alive.”
King also wrote a song about the long time
he was unable to see his mother. It’s called
“The Sun Never Shines (On Closed Doors)”
and the lyrics speak for themselves, “Death
comes like a thief in the night/To steal while
you sleep/The soul’s flickering light/Well
maybe it’s then/I’ll see you again/Because the
sun never shines on closed doors.”
Fortunately those times are behind them and
now King and his mom keep in touch regularly.
“We talk with each other all the time and I see
her as much as I can.” King said. “Yeah - you
know, I suppose there’s a - I don’t know how
you put it - but there must be a reason for everything and I mean, still, I’m not very happy
with the relationship because we really don’t
get enough time together and she’s getting
very old now. She actually just got out of the
hospital the other day.” King said in a somber
tone - obviously still grappling with the desire
to be close to family vs. the desire to continue
touring in the band.
It’s a common problem. Hensley confessed
that he’s not scoring any brownie points with
his wife right now, “She’s actually really pissed
off at me because we’re always on the road but
she’s very forgiving. It’s weird because the
band has gone to greater places than we ever
had aspects to, so at first, I was just in a band
from LA and now we tour all around the world.
And it’s great, but I’ve got an 8 year old son,
and a wife, and it adds different stresses on the
whole situation. You know, on stage tonight
it feels like a thousand dollars. I feel so filled
with joy just to be up there playing. It all makes
sense somehow when you are on that stage. For
all the misery it’s definitely worth it.” o
M U S I CM AT T E R S
21
o
spotlight
ryan ferguson
MARY SMEDES PIKE | Words
PIPER FERGUSON | Photos
Then and Now: Ryan Ferguson’s Solo Career Revisited
IT WAS JUST ABOUT A YEAR AGO WHEN
I met Ryan Ferguson for the first time. Squandering a brief meeting between sound check
and an outdoor performance at one of the
monthly TNT events at the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown San Diego, we
skipped across the trolley tracks to duck away
from the hubbub into a little bistro. Over a pint
of Red Hook, Ferguson spoke optimistically
about his new solo project, and I listened and
recorded every word. The interview was meant
for a feature article in the January 2006 issue of
this magazine, but, sadly, that article was never
written…until now. A year later, it is possible
for me to look back on Ryan’s burgeoning solo
career and document its progression since our
first encounter.
When we first talked, Ferguson was riding
high on the wake of his recent debut onto the
local scene as a solo act. It’s hard for him to
define when his solo career actually began;
he’s been writing songs since he was a kid and
has always written music on the side of whatever project he’s been involved in and even
recorded a song here and there. Though he
was a drummer in his first high school band,
he has since focused on guitar. The Chapel
Hill, NC scene lent influence when Ferguson
first started playing guitar - bands like Superchunk, Archers of Loaf, Polvo, Ben Folds
Five, the whole Cat’s Cradle Scene, this owing to a family presence back east. That indie
seed was planted deep and later sprouted into
arguably one of most influential post-punk indie bands hailing from San Diego - No Knife.
No Knife caught on quickly in an atmosphere
over-saturated with four-chord punk songs.
Their music breached the boundaries of punk
and explored uncharted territories that appealed to a growing, loyal group of fans who
22
M U S I C M AT T E R S
RYAN FERGUSON | Singer - Songwriter were looking for something new, something
different, something more than the current
scene had to offer.
And that leads us to the obvious question
on the minds of many puzzled fans: What happened to No Knife? Well, according to Ferguson it just kind of fizzled out. “In a nutshell,
still to this day, the four of us have never sat
around a table and actually said, ‘We’re done.’
It just kinda happened. We came off a tour with
Cursive back in spring of 2003, and the shows
were great, but the actual experience of touring with No Knife... it was just a really different
tour for us... just the chemistry with the band.
We were going through a weird phase... even
before then... we could see it looming.” Ferguson equates No Knife’s gradual demise to that
of friends and fellow San Diegans Rocket From
the Crypt, who played their final show on Halloween of 2005, following a couple years of sporadic appearances and subsequent hiatuses.
No Knife almost called it quits before releasing their last full-length album, Riot for Romance, in 2002. “We kind of surprised people
by writing that record, we surprised ourselves,
actually. What it came down to was that it
wasn’t fun anymore. There was no point in
denying that it just wasn’t the right thing to do
anymore. It was really spontaneous,” Ferguson
says. But good relationships are maintained.
Ferguson’s first solo gig (the first time he
was billed as Ryan Ferguson) was in August
of 2004 opening for Thrice lead singer, Dustin
Kensrue, at an acoustic show at the House Of
Blues in San Diego. Ferguson made the Thrice
connection when he was with No Knife, and
opening the show was an opportunity that
was, in his mind, “intimidating but necessary.” That first solo show turned out to be
quite awkward for Ferguson (and likely for his
audience too), mostly owing to the fact that he
had only five songs prepared. “I’m not used to
playing sitting down, or while it’s still light
out,” he confessed nervously to the audience.
No doubt they could sense his discomfort.
Generally, audiences have been supportive
of the transition from No Knife’s unbridled
energy to Ferguson’s more subdued acoustic
persona. His vocal melodies are still frequently
reminiscent of his past repertoire, but he acknowledges that the new pop persuasion is
intentional. He also acknowledges the positive
impact No Knife’s credibility has lent to his
new project. Embarking on his new solo career in the wake of No Knife’s dissolution was
like starting over without having to start from
scratch. The most difficult aspect of the whole
ordeal for Ferguson was forming a backup
band. The thought of forming a new band was
daunting because he knew all too well how
these people could end up being the ones he
would spend countless hours with on a tour
bus, sharing close quarters and sitting around
the dinner table with every night. But the idea
of a “team” or a unified identity was important
to him, so he essentially assembled an everchanging group of local musician friends to fill
the void on a show-to-show basis.
Fast forward one year and we are in the present: Fall, 2006. It’s the eve of the San Diego
Music Awards, at which Ferguson will be both
a nominee and a performer, and I’ve arranged
to steal a little more of his precious time to get
updated on what has happened in the year
since we last spoke.
What is the most significant thing that has
happened in the last year?
“I just finished a new record. I think finally finishing up my own first solo record was kind of
M U S I CM AT T E R S
23
spotlight
o
“I’ve just gotta live week to week with it right now,
so that’s all I can do, and so far so good.”
o
a big deal, because now it’s all about just basically shopping this around and trying to get
someone to sign me. The EP helped lay down
the foundation, and I just wanted to follow up
with newer songs and the chance for more people to hear it outside of Southern California.”
What can people expect with the new album
as opposed to the EP?
“I think the EP was a little tame; it was still
just kind of some early songs that I never really got to completely develop. I had a little bit
more time with the newer songs, and although
there’s a lot of acoustic guitar in most of the
songs, I wanted it to come across as more of an
electric kind of a rock feel. The Three, Four EP
- half of that was just recorded in my bedroom
with an acoustic guitar, so it was still kind of an
undefined project, and I think this new record
defines me more and it kind of goes back to a
style that I’ve always written.”
Do you think this album is where you want to
be with your sound or are you still not there
yet?
“I think more or less I’m there. There’s certainly some pop influence there and there’s certainly some rock and roll, and there’s of course
a couple nice real mellow songs... I think as a
whole, it’s pretty well rounded. I think these
songs just pick it up a notch.”
Last year you won “Best Pop Record” at the
2005 San Diego Music Awards, and this year
you were nominated for “Best Pop Artist”.
What do you think that says about where
you’ve come in the last year?
“To be honest it was a total surprise to me. It’s
certainly nice to be recognized. It was a surprise for me because I felt like, what did I really
do this year to get myself recognized? I just figured that there are a lot more busy bands and
artists this year than myself.”
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M U S I C M AT T E R S
What other outlets are you pursuing with
your music?
“The publishing outlet still (you had mentioned
the video game). In all honesty, I can’t tell you
how many people I’ve heard from, whether it’s
through MySpace or an e-mail or just someone
who comes up to me after a show that’s heard
of me only through that Sims 2 video game.
People might not be a big fan of putting music
in video games or wouldn’t really think twice
about it, but it was a great opportunity and I’m
certainly glad it happened. I think I’ve turned
a lot of people on to my music solely through
that avenue. This year I wrote a song for an
upcoming feature film called High Water that
should be out, I think, Spring of next year. It’s a
surf film written and directed by Dana Brown,
whose father Bruce Brown did The Endless
Summer. He also directed a movie called Step
Into Liquid, which is a big surf film.”
Are you tied in with that whole surfing
scene?
“No. I honestly am probably the worst surfer
in all of San Diego. I attempted it when I was
a kid and I continued through high school and
I honestly just don’t belong standing on top of
boards in the water. So I’m not really a surfer at
all but I love the beach, I grew up at the beach.
I’m a fan of the ocean in general, so I could
relate partly to what they wanted. They just
wanted kind of a Beach Boys-y cool pop tune...
and that’s what I tried to deliver to them. They
say it’s gonna be the theme song, we’ll see. I’ve
seen the rough cut of the trailer, and it’s just
kind of cool to be able to listen to your song to
an actual picture. I’ve always wanted to write
music for movies or in movies somehow. So
this is another great opportunity. I’m hoping to
make more fans... basically be more visible.”
What’s your ultimate goal for your music
career?
“I’m very much a realist. I don’t think I’m
gonna be trying to play music when I’m 45 and
bald. I kind of feel as though this very well may
be my realistic last shot at a music career, so I
just wanna have fun with it. I really truly hope
to get this record released by a label that I believe in and that I believe will get me the best
opportunity to get out there and remain out
there in the music scene - on the radios if possible and certainly touring. This very well may be
it, and I just don’t know how much I have in me
to keep pushin’ and pushin’ and pushin’. I feel
real confident in my songs and my songwriting
right now, and I just really hope that something
happens because I really, to tell you the truth,
don’t know what my backup plan is now. I really don’t know what I’ll do after this. As much
as I try planning ahead, it’s sometimes, in this
business, impossible to do. I’ve just gotta live
week to week with it right now, so that’s all I
can do, and so far so good. It would be great if
music paid the bills for two more years.”
Over the past year, Ryan Ferguson’s star has
not faded but rather slowly and steadily grown
brighter as a result of his hard work and consistent active role on the San Diego music scene.
Publishing opportunities like the placement of
“Suddenly” in the Sims 2 video game and his
upcoming surf film theme song will help him
secure a presence beyond the local scene and
aide him in preparation for a successful touring circuit. Also on the agenda is a collaboration with Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman on a song
for an upcoming release, either his or theirs.
“Hopefully it will be on their record so more
people will hear it,” Ferguson humbly jokes.
All joking aside, Ryan Ferguson has shown
that starting a solo music career doesn’t have
to pigeonhole you as a coffee shop singer-songwriter. With the right attitude, optimism, and
business mentality, your music can take you
wherever you want to go. o
M U S I CM AT T E R S
25
cd reviews
o
o
GODDAMN ELECTRIC BILL
SWALLOWED BY THE MACHINES
99X/10
Rated: o
ooo
SWALLOWED BY THE MACHINES IS THE FIRST FULL-LENGTH
release by San Diego’s Jason Torbert, aka Goddamn Electric Bill. His
ten tracks of instrumental composition are more of the Postal Service
persuasion than any dance-y trance-y sound bites you might file in the
same “electronic” category. Rather, this album might befittingly serve
as the soundtrack to a David Lynch film.
Having finished writing “Witching Hour”, the fourth track on the
album, Torbert began tooling around the Internet in search of a musical collaborator for his new record. His search led him to The Album
Leaf’s remix of Roger O’Donnell’s “Not Without You”. He emailed
(ex-The Cure keyboardist) O’Donnell directly and quickly received a
positive response. A few more e-mails and one in-person meeting later, O’Donnell extended an invitation for Torbert to travel to his studio
in Devon, England, where the rest of Swallowed by the Machines was
recorded, complete with a Moog solo by O’Donnell on “Opa”.
Jason Torbert’s star is burning brightly these days. GDEB was nominated for a 2006 San Diego Music Award for “Best Electronic”, and
Torbert recently licensed “Witching Hour” to MTV. Torbert admits,
“I usually sit down at my recording computer, tinker out an idea and
build off of that. 12 hours later, exhausted, late for work, back in pain,
ears hurting from the headphones, I’m usually done with the song.”
It’s not surprising that an immense amount of work went into producing Swallowed by the Machines, considering Torbert played everything
on the album (Moog solo excluded) including guitars, bass, synths,
Rhodes, sitar, zither, beats, and sampled his own voice as an instrument on the majority of the songs.
What resulted was an imaginative and therapeutic listen that perfectly suits my rush-hour commute home from work – I pop in the CD,
“Lost in the Zoo” comes on, and immediately the gridlock in my mind
dissipates, my thoughts begin to wander, and I am willfully Swallowed
by the Machines. Ironically, “Lost in the Zoo” was originally intended
as a song for a car commercial. www.goddamnelectricbill.com
o MARY SMEDES PIKE
THE TRANSIT WAR
MISS YOUR FACE
ORANGE PEAL RECORDS/KOCH
Rated: o
oo
IT’S PROBABLY NO COINCIDENCE THAT GRAMMY NOMINEE
Joe Marlett produced records by both almost-weres, FenixTX, and
still-could-bes, The Transit War. The latter are obviously shooting for
the same emo-pop-informed modern rock charts with their first fulllength release, Miss Your Face, that FenixTX was supposed to conquer
but never quite did beyond their MTV hit, “All My Fault.” And while
there’s nothing as formulaic - or joyfully simple - on Miss, The Transit
War battle the same demons most post-emo, early twenty-something
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M U S I C M AT T E R S
guitar bands battle: how to churn out the reckless abandon of the underground post-punk scene and still swoon with hummable melodies
click-able not just on MySpace.com or iTunes, but spin-able on real live
radio stations across the country. A formidable live experience, The
Transit War are beautifully, meticulously antiseptic on most of Miss,
with subtle hooks and bombastic, but neutered, guitar chunks elbowing for room amidst the sterile mix. Vocally, guitarist Jim Hughes and
bassist Mike Frey share the duties, and at times, they’re confident and
complimentary timbres interlock and spar with shimmering glee - but
mostly they’re anonymous filler between clever turnarounds, schticky
pre-choruses and pointless bridges. It’s not that The Transit War aren’t
a tight band - they could squeeze a diamond out of the overly-wrought
arrangements here - it’s just that they’re not loose enough to garner
empathy, pity, wonder or awe with their beautiful odes to Jimmy Eat
World and blink-182’s early experimentation. Still, sing-alongs flow
nicely into respectable grooves towards the end of Miss’s 11 song cycle,
and it’s not hard to imagine that when this album fails to draw the kind
of major airplay-attention it so desperately and politely “screams” for,
The Transit War will give up on polished trend-hunting and let their
inner-emo growl and prowl for a more feral sound, something simpler
and less precious. But given the sophisticated bar they’ve set for themselves here, the question is, will they? www.transitwar.com
o WILL K. SHILLING
ZINDU
SHAPESHIFTER
SELF-PRODUCED
Rated: o
oo
THE POTPOURRI OF WORLD, FUNK, JAZZ AND JAM ROCK
inspired instrumentals that comprise Zindu’s debut Shapeshifter
is built around the captivating pulses provided by drummer Salvatore Folisi and bassist Chris Hale. Over the course of the album’s 13
tracks, the pair never fail to lock into a solid groove. Guitarist Billy
Carnese and tenor/alto saxophonist Jeff Sooey create textural and
melodic footprints that add color to Hale and Folisi’s rhythmic terrain. Imagine a funkier, jazzier West African inspired Grateful Dead
show with Branford Marseilles sitting in during the space jam and
you get a sense of the ground covered on Shapeshifter.
Indeed, listening to Zindu can feel like world travel. For example,
track two “Soko” transports the listener to Guinea - straight into the
heart of the Malinke people’s funky drum circle. Meanwhile, Carnese
dives in and out of the celebration unleashing raw power chords and
a guitar melody that blends cultures. Track 10 “Adowa,” based on traditional rhythms of the Ashanti people of Ghana, simultaneously has
moments that evoke New Orleans and the Neville Brothers’s standby
“Fire on the Bayou.”
The only major detraction to the album’s cohesion and listening
pleasure are the spoken word sections contained on three tracks. They
include the embarrassing rap on “Fling That Thing,” the unnecessary
rant of “Bezerker” and the positive but, “Dude, you’re-distracting-mefrom-the-music!” poetry of “Dream”. Zindu does much better when
they let their instruments do the talking. www.zindu.com
o MICHAEL CALDWELL
FIFTY ON THEIR HEELS
FIFTY ON THEIR HEELS EP
CAT DIRT RECORDS
Rated: o
ooo
DANCE IS THE NEW DRUG. IT’S TOO BAD IAN CURTIS,
Johnny Thunders and Darby Crash aren’t around today to see the
latest post-abuse reincarnates, spawning from their joyous days of
exploit. Despite a barrel full of mocking criticism, many contemporary post-punk bands aren’t just rehashing the sound; they’ve added
a suffix onto the void of the blank generation’s inability to focus. So
while the clang of experimentation was fresh in the 80s, now mediocre efforts just aren’t cutting it.
Although San Diego may not be a thriving metropolitan of culturecanned consciousness, bands like UV Tigers, the Power-Chords, and
Fifty on Their Heels certainly have taken heed from their heroes, got
inspired, and ran with it. Fifty on Their Heels with some serious and
creative skill, struts around a bit of cynical savoir-faire and a tad of
fashionista with their latest self-titled EP. Even in their infant stage,
the trio achieves a strong level of the brilliance of the Fall, even the
intensity of the Screamers and the Voidoids.
Ironically times have changed, and unlike our new wave antecedents, Fifty on Their Heels created their own label and now release
their music independently on Cat Dirt Records. Definitely a common thread throughout the album’s language, DIY is religion and
tracks like “Occupation” and “Money, Glamour, Suicide” emulate
that nihilistic jab at society, punk proudly worships. When it really
comes down to it, the album just body rocks with the speed of invention and movement and for the most part, what we are seeing here is
a dance revolution celebrating integrity and devotion. It’s the need
for jive and kinetic culture! You’ll fall for Fifty on Their Heels, you
addict. www.myspace.com/fiftyontheirheels o KIM SCHWENK
CATTLE DECAPITATION
KARMA.BLOODY.KARMA
METAL BLADE RECORDS
Rated: o
ooo
THE SANSKRIT WORD KARMA MEANS “ACTION”, OR MORE
specifically, any material action that brings a reaction that binds us
to the material world. In the words of the Bhagavad-Gita, “Those
who kill animals…will be killed in a similar way in the next life and
in many lives to come.” Eastern philosophy goes even further to
include hypocrisy and destruction for the self-perpetuating elimination of humankind, this as a result of karma.
San Diego’s Vedic grindcore warriors, Cattle Decapitation
are not so far removed from the tongues of the spiritual teachings, given their anti-meat consumption stance for the past ten
years. The irony involved is where most people would consider
gurgling, guttural vocals and gore-inspired subject matter, violent, Cattle Decapitation identifies brutality with radical education and asserts the harsh realities of not just the slaughterhouse
cd reviews
industry, but mindless procreation and society’s inclination for
wasteful habits.
With their latest recording Karma.Bloody.Karma, the response
has been tremendous and according to vocalist Travis Ryan “as
far as representing the lyrics and our sentiments, the most effective.” Considering the band’s already pre-established disposition
towards electronic and more atmospheric black metal music, the
bleak nihilism is apparent in tracks “Alone at the Landfill” and
“The New Dawn”, but most importantly Cattle Decaptitation are
quite partial to complicated guitar arrangements and vocals ranging in high shrieks, rather than throat butchering.
While the lyrics for most grind don’t translate audibly, upon a
little research, generally you’ll find out the artistic intent. Ryan says
on Karma the message, like all of their releases, is pretty obvious,
mentioning anti-procreation, anti-organized religion and a general
attitude of respect and individuality.
Comparing this release to previous releases, Cattle Decapitation
has managed to develop with honest intent and without compromising integrity, regardless of signing to a major metal label. Karma raises their innovative awareness musically having worked with producer
Billy Anderson (Neurosis, Melvins), John Wiese of Sunn 0))) , and
Joey Karam of The Locust, all the while still demanding our attention
with a bloody and brutal slap. Who knows, it might change your mind
next time you visit the drive-through. www.cattledecapitation.com
o KIM SCHWENK
MOWER
NOT FOR YOU
SUBURBAN NOIZE
Rated: o
oo
FEARLESS AND REFUSING TO BE PIGEONHOLED, SAN DIEGO-based metalcore act Mower concludes their second album with
a cover of The Mamas and the Papas’s “California Dreaming”. It
sounds just like you’d imagine; but you’ve got to give Mower props
for being ballsy. Led by the dual pronged attack of vocalists Dominic
Moscatello and Brian Sheerin - think Flavor Flav’s treble to Chuck
D’s bass, respectively (only more like Fear Factory) - Mower is sharpest when they stay true to the trappings of their genre. Angry rocker
“Road Rage” makes you want to go Mad Max on someone, while the
industrial thump of “General Admission” hints at the group’s sizable
heart on stage. Power ballad “Broken Wings” sounds like a flaccid
attempt to bring in the chicks and - along with “California Dreaming” - doesn’t really belong in the mix.
Produced by ex-Snot and Soulfly guitarist Mike Doling, the collection maintains a punk rock, hit-it and quit-it, brevity. Most songs
run at or below the three-minute mark. In the case of the promising
1:15 minute instrumental “MPYP,” the abruptness does a disservice
to the track’s good stoner groove.
Not For You seems very much like the album the band members wanted to make for themselves. No problem there, but once
the group concentrates their diverse influences Mower may well
make a cohesive album that will satisfy any aggressive music fan.
www.mowermusic.com o MICHAEL CALDWELL
M U S I CM AT T E R S
27
burnin
g
man
o
culture
2006
GREG PASSMORE | Words & Photos
The Medicated Dream
IF IT WERE NOT OVER 100 DEGREES,
you would swear it is snow. Dust - on the
ground, in the air, in, well, everything. Driving
into Burning Man the first day, the car in front
of me disappears. Like some sort of strange
mirage. Headlights don’t help. It’s dark, but
it’s daytime. Visibility is short, really short. I
creep ahead in my huge rented RV, not sure if
I am going to get hit from behind or smash the
car in front of me. It’s like a snowstorm and
I blindly trust in luck. Several minutes later,
it passes and the car ahead is moving right in
pace. It seemed as if I had only blinked, instead
of being blinded for several tense minutes.
Much of Burning Man is about luck. In a
place so desolate, so isolated, that your ability
to survive is based on what you brought, the
generosity of others and dumb luck. Burning
Man is about dumb luck, when it works and
when it ends.
Tuesday [dazed and confused] Finding
friends at Burning Man is a challenge. Cell
phones don’t work. The place is huge. Clever
as we were, our friends had taken walkie talkies and so had we. Once at the event, we pop
on the volume. Instead of raising our friends,
a confused sounding girl, maybe drunk (or
more), is repeating over and over “Sky, where
are you Sky? Sky, come in.” For hours upon
hours she continues her OCD search. In between short gaps, we quickly try to raise our
friends, eventually successful. Later in the
day, even later in the week, we check back and
the same lost girl continues to repeat her vigilant search for Sky.
We find our friends, a photographer and her
boyfriend. Both are so white I can’t imagine
they can survive the sun. Greetings exchanged,
we head off to Media Mecca, the camp where
we get our press credentials. Upon arriving we
are told that our press contact was fired. Fired
for gross incompetence apparently. Nope, we
cannot shoot at the event. Getting annoyed
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M U S I C M AT T E R S
(and panicked), our media contact bursts out
laughing, telling us he is kidding.
We have arrived late in the day and the
sun is setting. What an odd place we have
landed. Part art, part party, part dream. This
is not my first Burning Man but the arrival
is still disorienting. We do some shooting
and try to adjust our minds to integrate our
brains into art space.
Wednesday [the dust devil from hell]
What is the difference between a cute little
dust devil and a tornado? Twisted steel. In
our case, the twisted steel of our camp being destroyed while we watch in amazement
from across the playa. “Gee, wonder if it hit
our camp?” asks one of our buddies. I decide to photograph it while we idly watch. In
fact, we watch this cute little twister turn into
something big, beautiful and mean. All afternoon, the twister hovers. Slowly turning, creating a moving curtain of sand as it dusts its
way across the rings of encampments. Other
people watch, some run, some disappear into
the sand. Hours later, we return to our temporary sanctuary. Our home - holder of life
giving supplies like water, food and alcohol.
What we find left is twisted steel, shredded
tarps and supplies scattered. The wind was
high enough to actually bend one inch steel
tubes. We decide to move our camp in with
friends across the playa. An attempt to avoid
depression I suppose. An attempt to forget
we are in the desert. A few hours later we are
moved into new digs, surrounded by big, secure structures. (More on them later.)
Along the way, on the dirt roads from one
camp to another, we pick up a hitchhiker. A
blurry-eyed girl dressed in tattered clothes
and smelling of vodka. She stumbles into our
RV asking if we can take her down the road.
She apparently abandoned her family and
boyfriend days ago without a word of where
she was going. Coming from a sexual aware-
KIM LOSTROSCIO | Viper Photo SYLVA WELCH | Photo edit M U S I CM AT T E R S
29
culture
o
“When placed in an upside down art world filled with unusual
things, we do not always feel how we expect we might.”
o
ness course, she hands me a button about
sexual limits, rubs my head while I drive
(for some mysterious reason) and makes me
aware of how hard Burning Man can be on
relationships. The words of a friend roll in
my head, “After Burning Man, you will either
love or hate your partner, but it will never be
the same”. It’s not just the heat, it is the temptations of the lizard brain, that primordial
thinking that defies civilization, defies compassion. Machiavelli would love it here.
Thursday [the medicated dream] Sometimes, when our mind is impinged with surreal visions, we become disoriented. We lose
our context. The normal reaction is to sit, rest,
study and become aware of our surroundings.
Others, when perplexed by what they see, decide it is the perfect time to down hallucinogens, and take the HOV lane to Wonderland.
Don’t misunderstand me, Burning Man is
one huge trip. Drugs are not necessary and
not suggested. But, people being people, like
to increase the intensity to neural damage levels every once in awhile. If for no other reason
than to figure out what reality is. My drug of
choice is alcohol. Others indulge in more potent stuff. Something to make the event “curiouser and curiouser”.
Awaken to drums. Not the sort of marching bands, but the arrhythmic beat of Utopia.
Crawling out of bed, literally, I am startled by
the sound of a Leprechaun like fellow camper
- on a megaphone. “F___ You! Burning Man
is about partying! Wake Up!” Apparently our
neighbors, more kindly and quiet types, asked
our friend to shut the hell up last night. His
stand-alone party tent, huge amplifiers and
electro music had annoyed them to the point
of contention. “Sleep during the day! Burning
Man parties at night!” Ah, the brotherly love
of 30,000 people camped in each other’s generator fumes has hit its stride.
My Burning Man buddy, Bine, has decided it
is time to party. Only problem is that it is early
in the evening. In my mind, party early equals
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M U S I C M AT T E R S
pass out early. Plus her mood has decidedly
changed. I rarely understand women, but place
them at Burning Man and life gets complicated. There is no doubt in my mind that she
has a plan, a vision, a story. I’m just not sure
it is in my language. We start out to go see our
friend, Scar, do her thing on the stripper pole
in Center Camp. Dark ominous clouds follow
Bine’s head. Her normally joyful mood turns
paranoid, insecure. When placed in an upside
down art world filled with unusual things, we
do not always feel how we expect we might.
Despite the odd start and end of the day, my
memories are of art trails, fluttering strands of
glitter, outrageous cars, and even more outrageous costumes. It was an abrupt start and
end, but a calm blur of art space in between. It
is what I expect when I think of here. Intensity.
Friday [when houses fly] I had never seen
a house fly. Oh maybe on Wizard of Oz. But
not fly. Our camp Leprechaun has carefully
constructed his house out of a carport. A huge
contraption of pipes, fabric, tie downs and
cooking entrapments. They say tornadoes
never hit twice in the same spot. We had
moved our camp, silly us.
I was on top of the RV that afternoon, tying
down a huge poster of our photography. From
on top of the RV, I could see everything; camps
into the horizon, early evening partiers, naked
people frolicking about, and something more
ominous. The same sort of wall of sand that
wiped out our camp, reaching all the way into
the heavens, was on the horizon. The wind
was picking up and the wall coming our way.
I was having hell even holding onto the giant poster. Sitting on top of the RV, I begin to
worry about getting blown off when I hear the
sound of screams and snapping ropes. I turn
around to see this huge, and I mean huge, garage-sized structure lift straight up into the
air, sit there in midair and suddenly blast like
a rocket into the storm. It just disappears into
the wall of sand. I hear later it crashed down in
the one empty spot blocks away.
The night is long and fun. Parties, temporary friends, surreal sights, and pushing the
human body to its limits. Why does total integration take so long?
Saturday [burn] The day of the burn has
always been a bit odd. All day you anticipate
the big burn. I spend the day exploring, finding things along the inner camps that I never
seem to make it to normally. Gems, amazing nuggets of art and imagination are often
found in the smaller, out of the way camps.
They are like the indie rock musicians. Not
subscribing to the big main event, they do
their own art, eclectic, more revolution than
evolution. I frequently find something cool
and have difficulty finding it again. As the day
progresses, art cars, dancers, fire blowers all
become more and more active. All leading to
the night’s frenzy of the burn. The burn does
not disappoint and while I am not a big partygoer, the event energizes me enough to stay
out until dawn, exploring in awe.
Sunday [rear view mirror] I actually
thought hippies were gone. The lore of 7th
grade history classes that died out from
a lack of bathing. I am here to tell you my
dear readers that they are merely hiding in
the woods of Oregon, Northern California
and points beyond. We are not talking hip,
nuevo-hippie; but the joyous, vegan, tella
tubbie shaped hippies of yester-year. In
large numbers too. Burning Man is awash
(excuse the contradiction) in classic hippies. My last remaining vision of Burning
Man was of a water truck spraying the road
for dust; behind it naked hippies run out
with joy, dancing behind the truck and taking impromptu showers. It is not an erotic
scene, since most are shaped like eggs, but
more of a National Geographic type thing;
primal, unconstrained. A sadness sets in as
we leave. As we return to the world of Republicans, war, stress and “normal” life.
Discipline and structure are all that remain
after leaving the Playa. o
M U S I CM AT T E R S
31
o
Get On The Bus
LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT A BOOK I
found in the snowy woods in upstate New
York. Inside a boxy cabin at an abandoned
arts camp, I discovered a book entitled They
Became What They Beheld by a cat named
Edmund Carpenter. Artful black and white
photographs accompanied pithy reflections
of postmodern life.
One passage discussing art went something
like this: If you address yourself to the audience, you accept the basic premises that unite
the audience. You’re putting on the audience,
repeating clichés familiar to it. But artists don’t
address themselves to audiences; they create audiences. The artist talks to himself out loud.
Words to live by, kids.
And, essentially, this sums up the approach
to music of a rapping LA lad named Busdriver.
His approach to Hip-Hop is singular and experimental and absurdist. Like if Frank Zappa
could flow.
No, really. I could paraphrase all that press
release tripe that labels churn out in order to
“familiarize” you with an artist - like “Busdriver doesn’t just ‘battle’ but rather defeats wack
rappers with ‘multi-syllabic melees’ or some
shit - but y’all know what the deal is, right?
So let’s not condescend anyone and take a
glimpse at the grind Busdriver has been on for
the last 15 years.
Young South Central kid named Regan
Farquhar begins a fledging rap career in high
school in the early 90s; watches the lights turn
out on the famous Good Life Café in ‘94 but
gleams enough style and verve from groups like
Freestyle Fellowship to inspire him to take his
performance to the next level; makes a name
for himself at LA’s esteemed Project Blowed;
hand-to-hand CD-R sales garner attention,
landing him various deals with independents;
makes music with electronica wiz Daedelus
and live collabs with the now defunct Unicorns; is poised to make some noise in ’06 with
his Anti/Epitaph release RoadKillOvercoat.
The path of influences and experiences of
artists are rarely linear. That’s why, they’re
like, artists, yunno? Nonetheless, an interview
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M U S I C M AT T E R S
RAGAN FARQUHAR | MC “Busdriver” backstage
busdriver
ANDREW MCINTOSH | Words
EPITAPH RECORDS | Photos
with Busdriver reveals the origins of a HipHop MC who is different by design and dope
by all means necessary.
When did your own career begin?
When I was in high school, I started to do music with a group named 4/29 around the time
of the LA riots.
In response to the riots?
Not a response to that. I don’t think we had a
coherent response to the riots. We were being
molded in a certain way [by the events]. At the
time, [race, the verdict, and the riots] were such
a heated affair, such a defining moment, it was
just a very present issue and the tension in LA the blacks, the Mexicans, and the Koreans. And
4/29 was two black guys and a Korean. We felt
we were breaking the boundaries. (laughing)
We were the alliance, holding hands!
If you’re looking at West Coast Hip-Hop
through Yo! MTV Raps and The Source in the
early 90s, one might assume that those who
are down with Hip-Hop are gang affiliated.
Were the cats that threw down at the Good
Life Café and Project Blowed consciously
trying to reverse that image?
I don’t think the underground rap scene was
solely based on an adverse reaction to gangster
rap. Both of these things existed and evolved at
the same time. There’s a multifaceted playing
field for rap in the early 90s. Mind you these are
people who live in the same part of town, South
Central LA, Long Beach, and Compton. From
that you had Compton’s Most Wanted and
Freestyle Fellowship and Volume 10 and NWA
- all these groups were from the same area.
Would you describe nights at the Good Life
and Project Blowed and how they were different than most Hip-Hop scenes?
In the early years there was a palpable excitement in the air. Kids were forging for new
ground. The basic [rules] of a battle song or
a dis were different, vocal dexterity would be
different. There was a different code of what
was good. There were lots of characters, doing
songs that would props and concepts - improvising was a big thing. There was a real openness that you now can’t really find in underground Hip-Hop. The crowds were made up
of a variety of people, college people, and way
more black people than you see now.
And the artists there would range from
gangsta looking guys doing complicated
rhymes, to conscious guys, dreds. Definitely
a community vibe; there was mutual respect
between MCs interactions and confrontations. People really had something to prove on
Thursday nights.That kind of excitement and
pressure to compete allowed these diverse
styles to come out of the place.
Is doing something with Epitaph an effort to
try to break from the pack?
No, I’m not trying to break from the pack any
more than usual. I’m just trying to create a better outlet for my music. I don’t have the luxury
to interject my business decisions with any idealist whims. I haveta do things as opportunities
come. It’s very day-to-day. I have to sell these
CDs, get the money back, sell these shirts, get
the money back. It’s very immediate. There’s
no mission statement, no grand scheme.
Your music sounds purposefully different,
avoiding categorization by pushing the envelope. The creation and performance seems
to be the key for you. Yes, there’s the business side of music, but it doesn’t define what
you’re doing.
Yeah, but the [business] does define what
I do because I’m grassroots to a fault. I do
everything on my own. The business has an
influence, but I know what I can do well, so I
stick with it. I cannot help but to do the kind
of music I want myself to do. I don’t think that
if I did a more mainstream rap record that it
would do better than if I did a far stranger
one. It’s not so black and white as to if it’s less
weird than its better, if it’s weirder than it’s
not gonna work. Some of the strangest acts do
the best and get down. o
M U S I CM AT T E R S
33
live
o
fishbone
WILL K. SHILLING | Words
DEREK PLANK | Photos
Cane’s Bar And Grill : September 9, 2006
IF IT WEREN’T FOR THE ALTERNATIVE
rock explosion of the early 1990’s, most of
the hipsters who’ve loyally stuck by Los Angeles hyper-eclectic underground legends
Fishbone wouldn’t care that the band is still
the most unsung underdog in West Coast
post-punk history.
Since forming in 1979(!) Fishbone matriculated from a solid pillar of the underground
music scene that spawned Red Hot Chili
Peppers, Jane’s Addiction and a hundred
funk-punk-ska-core-thrash pretenders in
the 1980s - to the near-breakthrough masterpiece of 1991’s Reality of My Surroundings - an infectious, adventurous, eclectic
post-hardline, ska-funk journey.
But what goes up for Fishbone has in turn
come down - or at least, failed to stay at a cruising altitude over the years. Several albums and
ten years later, the band winds up on a Saturday night at Cane’s in Mission Beach with a
sense that the 80 percent-or-so attendance was
an insult to post-punk’s legacy of dues-paying
and path-breaking... but not an altogether unusual one. They’ve been here before.
Led by founding frontman, sometime
saxophonist and recent theraminist Angelo
Moore, they took the stage far later - a half
hour - than the already-late headlining slot,
which was scheduled for 11:30. The band
proceeded to fixate on line checks and reverb for minutes - before launching into a
driving, sprawling version of their Realityera epic, “Sunless Saturday.”
Within seconds of its laser-focused, hopeful barrage pouring over the pogoing, racial-
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ly diverse and socially splintered crowd, an
urban locomotive of funk and punk and ska
and jazz and metal and pop lurched dramatically into sync and out of stereotypes with
equally deft charisma... then left the stage
after just six songs.
To be fair, the house lights did seem to
flood the venue earlier than usual - but when
a band hits the opening chords of their set a
minute after midnight, they better be either
the Ramones or Prince.
Thankfully, Fishbone throws in the charismatic aggression of the former and the
sexual verisimilitude of the latter. After jamming the opening “Sunless” for at least fifteen minutes - and without noodling, soloing needlessly or playing Deadhead scales in
rounds - there just wasn’t the time necessary
for either the band or the fiercely loyal crowd
to really build up a nut to bust.
“Let The Hoes Fight” was a brief respite
that highlighted Moore’s newly confident
spoken word oration, while most songs
sounded like radio edits of brilliant jams that
guitarist Rocky George (ex-Suicidal Tendencies) could really have ripped to shreds with
more time and space.
To Fishbone newbies, it must have seemed
either appropriately enigmatic or anemic
- this shortchanging of a post-rock genius vision deferred. But Moore rambled something
about owing the city another visit quickly to
make up for the aborted show he was finishing - without mentioning the band didn’t get a
chance to play its coveted revamp of Sublime’s
“Date Rape.” o
ANGELO MORRE | Volcals - Saxophonist M U S I CM AT T E R S
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the local pyle o
local pyle
the
Hello Southern California!
PLEASE WELCOME BACK THE INCREDible, the unstoppable - Music Matters, plus
The Local Pyle back in print! You can take
us anywhere now! From the beach to the
bathroom! So we’re back and that means
you need to be a part of it! So if you have
news, feel free to send it my way. Rumors,
innuendo, shows, whatever you’ve got! Together we can make this a better place!
Since we’ve been away, we really haven’t cause The Local Pyle has been on-line - you
might have missed it, but we bring it back
to you in glorious print! I can’t say enough
about San Diego lately. The music awards
happened recently and I truly feel something
big is happening here. It’s been a long time
coming, so we’ll still have to wait and see.
There are so many great bands, people starting labels, doing shows in new places, writing blogs and doing things differently.
My favorite thing right now is the diversity
in the music coming from here. Every style
you could ever imagine is coming out of the
garages! How can you tag a name on this
scene? It’s just too diverse! Just please don’t
bring back flannel shirts! In moderation
please, at least!
I actually find myself being overwhelmed
by the choice of shows on any given night!
There are more places for locals to play and
the national talent coming through town is
covering a lot more. I will thank House of
Blues for a lot of that! I like going to LA to
see shows, but now so many more of them
are coming down here! It used to be you had
really ONE worthy show a night, maybe.
Now I see myself picking between two or
three! I like choices! It’s a consumer’s best
friend. Now if we can only get more people
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M U S I C M AT T E R S
TIM PYLES | Words
out to these shows and give these bands
some support! Go to a show please! Haven’t
you been paying attention to local music?
We have a scene here now! Yes, it’s true!
Can you believe it? Seriously...
I’ll admit I’m more connected to the San Diego
scene, but if you are reading this then I can be
a part of your scene too! I’ve lived in all parts
of Southern California so I think I’m qualified, but who really is! Somebody just shoot
me an e-mail of your favorite local bands. I
host weekly shows too, so I’m looking to book
some bands once in a while! Let’s connect.
It even looks like KROQ has a local show now,
as does Indie 103, as does FM94/9, as does
91X! Wow! The opportunities are endless,
if you do it right. Local bands have the ability to get beyond the city they live in and tour
the country or possibly the world. Local music
isn’t local music anymore, plus with MySpace
is it REALLY local music anymore?
So in conclusion I can help you and want to
help, so participate in the cause, do yourself
a favor and think of your band as a business.
Send me your news, keep me posted, send
me tees and tickets to your shows!
I also host a local show. Every Sunday night
on FM94/9 called The Local 94/9 (www.
fm949sd.com) in San Diego, CA. Tell me why
I should consider Temecula or San Clemente
local music, or even Santa Ana. Just tell me!
Grab the bull by the horns and hang on!
Thanks for reading! Real news next time!
Tell a friend we’re back!
[email protected] o
M U S I CM AT T E R S
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