You are all veterans of the Atlanta music scene. How did you end up coming together?
Jacob: Well, you know Jason and I have played together for a long time. Our old band, Resons, started ... I was playing in Abby Go Go, and I would go over to Jason's car shop and jam out with him a lot. We were just screwing around, but then, about four songs in, we thought, "Shit. This is really good." It was fast. It was hard. It was angry. It was what we wanted.
Jason: It was fun.
Jacob: Then we started fucking around at Kirkwood Ballers Club. I'd wear this funeral shroud that monks wear when they die. My mom had one. I don't know why. Anyway ...
Anyone who doubts the continued worldwide appeal of soul music need look no further than the band Hiatus Kaiyote. Although the four-member crew (consisting of vocalist Nai Palm, bassist Paul Bender, multi-instrumentalist Perrin Moss, and keyboardist Simon Mavin) hails from Australia, the group's sound is rooted in classic, American-made soul motifs, while still stretching the genre toward the future. The group's debut album, Tawk Tomahawk, has been garnering the crew accolades since being released last year, and has propelled the band on a worldwide tour (which hits Atlanta, Wednesday, August 14), giving audiences across the globe the chance to hear live renditions of the acclaimed tunes. Before playing a recent West Coast gig Bender and Palm took a few minutes to chat about performing for American audiences, their musical evolution, and more.
What has been the reaction to your band by U.S. audiences?
Paul Bender: The States have been really good. Last time we were over, we did SXSW. That was exciting, but there was a whole bunch of shit that people were checking out. We couldn't really get a gauge of what the impact [of our appearance] was until we did our first headline show, which was in DC. It was crazy. We did the soundcheck, went to get some dinner, and when we were walking back from dinner there was a fucking huge line around the block. And finally we got ourselves in the venue and it was packed and crazy. Then it turned out it was kind of like that everywhere we went in the States. It's, like, huge crowds and people singing along to all the stuff that's on YouTube; a lot people just really getting involved with the music. It's been really mind-blowing.
Though you've been involved in music for over 40 years, you're more visible lately to younger audiences. Part of this is a surge in interest in the Testors, including the band's 2011 reunion at the Atlanta Mess-Around and re-releases by labels like Windian. Is the band its getting its due today, years after sharing stages with future mainstream new wavers at places like Max's Kansas City and CBGBs?
It's true that people are discovering my music more and more. Atlanta plays very important in that history of going beyond the typical avenues. Testors were determined to make our music without compromising, and we were committed to never surrendering our integrity to commercial interests or producers. We knew that sticking to our path was suicidal in terms of commerciality, but its what we chose to do. Same goes for my solo stuff. There is a huge amount of albums I released in Europe that have not been available here. Some people seek them out. I don't get much money from the sales because the 'biz' is traditionally a huge rip off, although there are some labels that have a solid honesty, I never did music for the idea of chasing riches anyway. I was chasing something deeper and more valuable to me. The fact that some folks have found that element is very rewarding to me.
A cornerstone of East Oakland's hip-hop scene of the early-to-mid '90s, Souls of Mischief came together while its members were still in high school. A spin-off from the likeminded Hieroglyphics crew, featuring MCs A-Plus, Opio, Phesto, and Tajai, the Bay Area natives have been delivering raw hip-hop, drawing upon jazz, funk, and improvisation, using rap as a medium for storytelling rather than boasting about personal assets.
In 1993, SOM's self-produced debut, the acclaimed 93 'Til Infinity, sported a title track that has become an anthem of sorts for the group. Twenty years later, the group is revisiting with a full U.S. tour. For many, the jazz-influenced alt-rap album remains a classic, and although the Souls never quite found mainstream success, they continue garnering praise from artists as varied as Kanye West to Vampire Weekend. The Souls recently announced that Adrian Younge would be producing their new album, There is Only Now, which they anticipate will drop this fall. Before they play tonight at Terminal West, the Souls talk about their beginnings, influences, and the new record.
What does it mean to be celebrating the 20th anniversary of 93 'Til Infinity ?
Phesto: It's almost like the infinity of a certain time. It's a record that stood the test of time and is very influential to this day. It was our first record and it set the standard for us. To this day, we always use that as our standard but we have grown as artists since then and we always try to make something different and kinetic.
Every cloud may have a sliver lining but rarely is it full of volcanic ash. However, this was the case for British sophisti-pop-jazz duo Swing Out Sister. In 2010, just as the duo's singer and songwriter Corinne Drewery and keyboardist and composer Andy Connell were about to set off for a string of U.S. tour dates, Eyjafjallajokull erupted over Iceland. Its debris cloud caused the largest interruption to air traffic since WWII. Tour cancelled. Rather than waste the material they'd prepared, SOS turned their sliver lining into a 25th anniversary CD/DVD. Private View (Shanachie) is a renewing of vows to their beloved hits with a stripped-down acoustic sound backed by lush new arrangements.
Shortly after Swing Out Sister's tour bus rolled into NYC on the group's current U.S. tour, Drewery and Connell took a few minutes to talk about
On the occasion or her 60th wedding anniversary I once had a woman tell me in confidence that the secret to staying together so long was that "sometimes you have a take a little more than you really should." What's SOS's secret?
Corinne Dewery: We don't analyze. It's just what we do, and we don't spend too much time worrying about how much we "really should" take. Take as much as you need, as long as there's still enough for someone else to do the same.
Few psych-influenced garage-punk outfits are as productive in the studio or on tour as Madison, Wis duo the Hussy. Though they are constantly on the road, and have released records via garage-punk taste-makers such as Tic Tac Totally and Southpaw, the band has yet to appear in Atlanta. That changes on Tues., July 2, when the group's current tour supporting its third LP, Pagan Hiss, stops at the Earl. The Hussy's chord-shredding, hair slinging performance artist frontman Bobby Hussy took a few minutes to talk about writing songs with his bandmate Heather Sawyer, setting his guitar on fire, and the band's busy but bright future.
With each record, your sound gets harder, heavier, and weirder. Is this a conscious change, or is the evolution of your sound organic?
It's totally organic. It's just the songs we write, paired with any new gear we have to play with. We just record a batch of songs, and weed out what wouldn't fit on the record.
Shannon and the Clams is an internationally touring Oakland trio with a shared love for '60s pop, doo wop, and fairytales. Shannon Shaw's raspy voice and range are instantly recognizable, whether she's belting out a song with her Clams or for fellow Hardly Art act Hunx and His Punx. Guitarist Cody Blanchard handles his share of vocal and songwriting duties, making his name and voice known here and with his King Lollipop solo act. Landing on Sub Pop subsidiary roster came only after constant touring, and enduring a revolving cast of drummers. While caught it what she calls "the second most insane storm I've ever ridden through in my life," Shaw talked about the band's Hardly Art debut, Dreams in the Rat House, before heading South.
Let's start by talking about the new album, which is just now getting out to your fans due to a production delay.
It took so long for people to get them. Sorry about that. We were supposed to get ours May 21 for a big record release party, but they didn't show up. They had to get shipped to us on the road, and we got them on June 10.
When a lot of bands, like Dum Dum Girls or King Tuff, make the jump to Hardly Art or Sub-Pop, their next batch of recordings sounds more polished than earlier material. Dreams in the Rat House sounds like you always have. Did you intentionally stick with a rougher sound?
We choose to sound that way. We're always in progress, but recording-wise, we have no interest in sounding like we recorded in a studio. I want it to sound like we recorded in a barn or under your grandpa's bed.
When I heard that Brother Hawk and StoneRider were playing a show together I wondered why it hadn't happened before. If you've been to either of the last two packed concerts for the band Graveyard, you've seen one of the bands open for them. It's been a while since we last heard from StoneRider, and with good reason. They'll be premiering eight new demos at the Basement this Saturday despite losing them in a hard drive crash last week. Brother Hawk will be premiering three of 'em. I sat down with Matt Tanner (aka Dreamy Matt of CL's Lust List and lead singer of StoneRider), JB Brisendine (lead singer of Brother Hawk), and Jason Krutzky (drummer of StoneRider) in the back of a truck at Thunderbox Studios late one night. We talked about the hilarious homeless man that inspired one of JB's best songs, StoneRider's Europe^2 tour, and why rock 'n' roll is becoming more important in the Atlanta music scene.
So how did y'all meet?
Matt: I think the first time I met you it was outside on that chicken farm that housed shows and you still had dreads. You were probably 14. I remember stepping in a lot of shit, like literal shit. And it sounded like shit. And then we started to work together at Outback Steakhouse.
JB: I remember we both were trying not to eat meat back then and these guys in the back made these chicken tenders that were off the chain that weren't on the menu. I remember both of us breaking down and feeling sorry about ourselves after. I used to be a vegan for six years but then I started dabbling here and there gateway drug−style. Before I knew it I was eating barbecue every day.
So tell me a little bit about your Europe^2 tour, Matt. I call it the Europe squared tour because you were in Europe, playing with the band also called Europe. What do you think of Europe as a band?
Matt: They do what they do very well and have sort of transcended that '80s hair metal stigma. You know when you sell 14 million copies of a single you're sort of obliged to play it, but they've recorded a lot.
And you were playing with your new bass player, Adam McIntyre, right?
Jason: Yep! He's in Puerto Rico right now. You know, I was talking to my buddy and I guess that if you go to Puerto Rico on a new moon there's this lagoon that you can go to and there will be bio-luminescent creatures living in the water. You can jump in the water, it's like 10 feet deep, and there are just trails and trails of bio-luminescent creatures that you can run your hands through.
So they're like glow in the dark?
JB: Avatar shit.
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.
Killin it. So damn sexy
ooooohhhh, I'm so excited!! I can't wait to see them together!
come on man you know you got a bromance. you probably still rock that OutKast…
Yes, 14 is the correct answer. I'll pass your info along to the group's manager,…