When and why did you guys start the band?
Matt Cherry: I think we started playing together in 2008, but we did not start playing shows until the summer of 2009.
At Corndogorama, I think?
MC: Yeah, that was the first show. It started as a joke. We were at some bar talking about Spinal Tap one night. We were trying to come up with our own Spinal Tap songs. Our second or third practice after James came in, I was like, 'This isn't really funny. It's just good!'
James Halcrow: Yeah, good enough to be Wizard Smoke.
So the band name is the only joke left from the original concept?
MC: I don't think we ever took ourselves seriously. There was always a level of comedy to everything.
JH: I guess it's a lot easier to be tongue-in-cheek than it is to be earnest about stuff, especially if you're just trying to have fun with it. We're not trying to be Bob Dylan or something. We're not trying to write meaningful music. We are just writing stuff that sounds good and are trying to have fun playing it. To come at that in an earnest way, you can seem kind of pretentious. Not that there's anything wrong with earnestness. If you're actually trying to be a career musician, I respect that, but if you're just playing in a local band and having fun, why are you so serious about it?
What was your original inspiration for starting Music in the Park?
Originally we started doing Sunday Jazz concerts at my home in the West End in 2009. We involved multiple music acts and food in my backyard. I found a grant opportunity from the city of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs. I applied and was granted a small individual artist grant. I took that and created an all-day event for the West End community. That was 2010, and I was recently reacquainted with an old friend of mine, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. Miguel was doing very well and gaining steam in Los Angeles as a new modern composer/arranger. Miguel and I met when we were young at the Henry Mancini Institute. I was in college and he was a high school prodigy. I thought it would be a fabulous idea to bring modern orchestral concepts to a neighborhood that rarely if ever gets live free progressive orchestral/band concepts.
How has the community reacted to the series?
Our West End community has been extremely appreciative. Howell Park where we decided to have [past concerts] was a park where many at-risk youth and underexposed neighborhood members frequented. So It was great for the community to experience the gift of awesome music and inspiring youth.
Having been almost totally quiet since 2009's self-released Fate to Fatal EP, the Breeders return playing songs from their now two-decades old breakout Last Splash LP. To celebrate, the band reformed with its most known lineup - twin sisters Kim and Kelley Deal, Jim Macpherson, and Josephine Wiggs - to perform the album in its entirety along with ephemera from the lineup's golden era, including potential covers of Guided By Voices, Sebadoh, Pete Townshend, and more. I caught up with Kelley Deal at her home in Dayton, OH to discuss the LSXX rehearsals, the importance of not jamming with assholes, and where the band stands with longtime label 4AD.
You guys are touring in support of LSXX, the 20-year reissue of Last Splash -
We're actually not touring in support of the reissue of the record. We're actually touring to celebrate that Last Splash is 20-years old. The reissue kind of happened after the fact. We're not on 4AD now, but we told them we were doing this tour and were like, "Do you want to re-release something?" and they said, "[gasp], yeah." I think they really only said "No" to us twice [during the reissue process] for all of the stuff we wanted, so they've still been really, really good to us.
So just to clarify, you're playing all Bauhaus songs on the Mr. Moonlight tour, correct? Nothing from your solo albums?
Yeah, I had been touring with my Ninth album for two years when I decided to put on two surprise shows in L.A. I wanted to play an intimate show for the fans, the hardcores who've always supported us. So the first night I played my whole album Deep, and then I thought of putting on a night of all Bauhaus songs. It was a pilot, and a test to see how well it worked musically, and if we would have the quality that I would expect it must have. It worked out really well. I was there just a couple of months ago, just about to start my album, which I imagined would take up a period of three months whilst I toured here and there, but I went to London with Youth, who's a really well-known producer and a very old friend from Killing Joke in the early '80s, and we basically did the album in four-and-a-half days. So this tour, as you say, is a tip of the hat to those very hardcore Bauhaus audiences around the world, which are also my own as well.
When did you start the Clone Defects?
We formed in April 1998. It'll be 15 years we've been a band on April 28. I can remember that because it was the birthday of my roommate, Wes (Kersten, guitarist).
Did you guys plan a reunion show on the eve of your anniversary on purpose, or did that just happen to work out?
It's a coincidence, really. Gentleman Jesse (Smith) asked if Human Eye could play the Mess-Around. We hadn't rehearsed in a while, and were going to wait until our next album comes out April 30 on Goner Records before we play out. Since Clone Defects all live near each other, making it easy to get together and practice, we decided it was time to play our first Atlanta show.
Mexican-American punk legends the Zeros owed more to the East Coast punk sounds of the Ramones and New York Dolls than the proto-hardcore sound of its West Coast contemporaries. Tonight (Friday, April 26), after a storied first run from 1976-1980, and several comebacks, the band's original lineup finally makes its first Atlanta appearance, headlining the opening night of the Atlanta Mess-Around. Vocalist and guitarist Javier Escovedo, took a few minutes to discuss the band's storied past and its plans for the future.
You and your brother (the Nuns' Alejandro Escovedo) were among the first Hispanic punks in California, if not the first. What was it like being on the ground level of an influential scene as someone with your ethnic background?
I never really thought about it. We came from a musical family, so it was natural for us to play music. The early days of punk were kind of frustrating, though. We couldn't find a place to play, but through networking with other like-minded people, we got in touch with the Nerves and played our first show with the Germs and the Weirdos. After that, it just snowballed.
Musically, the Zeros sounded more like the Ramones and some contemporaries like the Avengers than hardcore forerunners like the Germs. What were some of your influences early on, and did the sonic changes in the scene shape your approach?
Our influences were the New York Dolls, the Velvet Underground, the Modern Lovers, the Standells, and the Seeds. We were definitely influenced by bands around us, but maybe not musically, more like trying to be more professional like the Nuns and the Dils.
Still soaring high from his latest album, last year's Until the Quiet Comes, Flying Lotus (Steven Ellison) returns for another round of cartoonish beats, tones, and drones. His latest offering, a one-off 8-bit jam for Cartoon Network's "Adventure Time" dubbed "About that time//A glitch is a glitch," dives headlong into the phantasmal aesthetics of video game psychedelia. Likewise, his "Layer 3" stage show is a hallucinatory swirl of lights, morphing shapes, and mind-melting eye and ear candy.
Flying Lotus plays Masquerade tonight (Tues., April 23) with Thundercat and Teebs. $20. 8 p.m. 695 North Ave. 404-577-8178. www.masq.com.
I recently caught the video on your Facebook page in which you're hanging out with Herbie Hancock and Thundercat in a studio. Are you guys working on an album?
Oh... Yeah. ... I'm working on a jazz album right now. It's different ... It's really ... I want it to be like a real jazz record, like a bop record, and I want it to be an experimental record, you know what I mean?
Yeah, not like something you'd hear at a fancy restaurant?
Exactly. I want it to be a record that when you hear it, you feel it, and you can put everything that you have into it. I'm mostly just producing it, and not really playing too many instruments. But that all depends on the track, and what we're working on. I don't want this to sound like some cocktail jazz shit, I want it to be more like ... Miles Davis' In A Silent Way ...
When 64-year-old soul singer Charles Bradley feels moved, his ecstatic state can last well beyond the performance. Bradley spent years as a James Brown impersonator called Black Velvet, but recently ventured out on his own. His most recent album, Victim of Love (Dunham/Daptone), came out April 2, and the new film Charles Bradley: Soul of America documents his rocky life, including homelessness and family troubles. Impassioned, rapturous, and emotional, Bradley's a 110 percent type of performer, best seen live.
I've seen you perform before, and you put on a pretty intense show. How do you keep up the energy for a show like that?
When you love what you're doing, it shows on stage. I try to be open about it. I try to give people what they want, but I have to give myself what I need too. I gotta open my soul up and open my spirit up. I try to get myself to the proper state. Find something to move you.
You performed for years as a James Brown impersonator called Black Velvet before hooking up with the Daptone folks and launching your solo career. You met James Brown once. What was that like?
I met him - my mother used to hang out with him. I never knew that until later in life. It was a very important moment for me, meeting him. It wasn't long, but it was important. There's nobody like him in my life.
What made you start IRP?
It started more or less by accident. Richard Kamerman came up with the structure as a way to do the first show with the six musicians: Richard, Bryan Eubanks, David Kirby, Stephen Fenton, Ryan Gregory, and myself. The sets were very good and it seemed like something we could keep doing.
There was no event in town that focused on making musical connections between the various scenes in Atlanta. All the open-mic nights had solidified crowds and there wasn't much crossover or new connections. I wanted to pull people into the experimental scene and get an actually spontaneous event. I wasn't thinking this at first, though. I just wanted to turn this into a sustainable improv night.
Local noise-pop standard-bearers Gold-Bears may not play Atlanta often, but their occasional road trip usually involves at least one festival date, including last summer's Indietracks Festival in the U.K. The brainchild of Florida transplant and veteran musician Jeremy Underwood, Gold-Bears have the respect of their indie predecessors, evidenced by the band's relationship with Slumberland Records. A second LP, slated for a 2014 release, is currently being recorded, and will include a guest appearance by Pam Berry, vocalist of Black Tambourine. Below is a brief interview conducted on a rainy Friday afternoon with Underwood, as we sought shelter at El Myr.
Aren't some of the Small Reactions guys in your band now?
Jeremy Underwood: Depending on the date, they are three-fifths or four-fifths of Gold-Bears now. Our guitarist, who was the last original member, is moving to San Francisco, so I asked the guitarist from Small Reactions to join. Now their keyboardist is playing with us, too. Sean Zearfoss, their drummer, has been in the band for over a year now. Whenever our bass player can't play, their bass player plays with us. At SXSW it was me backed by Small Reactions.
I guess that makes it easy to tour with them in the future as you have just one extra person with them. but that adds a headliner on Slumberland Records to the bill. I'm not sure if you've planned that far ahead.
Actually, we are. Gold-Bears just got asked to play the Northside Festival in Brooklyn, which is pretty awesome because Black Flag and Iceage are playing. We're playing the New York City Pop Showcase of that. I'm going to jump in the van with them and try to do a Small Reactions and Gold-Bears tour to and from there in June.
The Quaildogs for sure!
It looks fun cheers
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Still looking for Masta Killah and Killah Priest for the Killah Trifecta!