Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nichole Vs. The Helio Sequence

The Helio Sequence Interview Audio

Nichole vs. The Helio Sequence
The EARL Atlanta, GA
May 31, 2009

Nichole Bennett: Alright, I’m Nichole, and I am lucky enough to be here at the EARL in Atlanta with members of The Helio Sequence. Would you guys mind introducing yourselves?
Brandon Summers: I’m Brandon.
Benjamin Weikel: And I’m Benjamin.
NB: So, there’s a lot of information online about the story of you guys, and most people who are literate and have an internet connection can look that up. If they were to reenact your story, would they use marionette puppets or sock puppets?
BS: Finger puppets probably.
BW: I was thinking we might as well go all the way with marionettes. Or Jim Henson, you know?
NB: We’re going with muppets?
BW: Yeah, totally muppets, dark crystal, that would be cool.
BS: Lo-fi or big budget.
BW: I think we would get more realistic drumming action with like the Animal thing.
BS: Animal, yeah. Animal could play you.
NB: That’s a good one. So, we settled on muppets? And you guys used to work at a record store together?
BS: We did. It was actually a music store. It was more like a band instrument rental store with some guitars. So we were renting instruments to kids who were beginning band.
NB: Any stories from that? Any funny…or scary stories?
BS: Oh jeez, too many to remember. We used to practice there, which is sort of a story in and of itself.
BW: We actually recorded our first records there. I was a band instrument repo guy for a while.
NB: I didn’t know that existed!
BW: I became responsible for all of the accounts. And there had been people who basically had never paid for years, and I’d have to track them down.
BS: It got to be where you knew these people. It was like “Oh, that woman would come in and say she paid it off and would actually drop twenty five dollars on us.”
BW: Some people would be alright, but some people would be really weird. They’d bring their kid to the front door and be like “This is what happens!” Yelling at the kid because he can’t fifteen dollars a month for a clarinet.
NB: The drama of a music store!
BS: Like “He could have been the next Jon Bon Jovi, but you took that chance away from him”
BW: I have a pretty bitter taste from all that repo business. It’s not my kind of thing.
NB: Yeah, I played saxophone, so that was kind of expensive. But that’s another story.
BS: But you paid for it?
NB: Yeah…upfront. That was not very fun. So, again anybody who is literate and has an internet connection can learn about how you lost your voice and how you gained it back.
BS: Right.
NB: But I was curious about something most others had skimmed over and that is the Bob Dylan connection. You got to read a lot during that time, and his was the first book. And there are some of my favorite Bob Dylan covers on this album. And I read that you gained your voice back by playing a lot of Bob Dylan. Is that true, or am I just making this up?
BS: Yeah, in a way. That’s kind of a gloss over. You know how records come to you at a time when you really need them? I don’t know if that makes any sense. You just happen to hear a record at a certain point in your life, and it means a lot to you. For some reason when I lost my voice…it’s not like I didn’t know who Bob Dylan was before I lost my voice, but I happened to be at the record store, and I happened to come across a copy of The Times, They Are a Changin’ And I was like, I’ve never really listened to this record. I just bought it on a whim, and it really meant a lot to me, particularly the song “Boots of Spanish Leather.” That was the first song that I decided to learn. And then from there, I thought it was interesting to actually put the chords under my fingers and actually learn a song, so I should do more of that.
NB: I really like that. I think that one of the big things music does for people. It’s kind of a soundtrack, in a way. Yeah, I was actually going to ask you what your soundtrack album was from that time, and you just answered that for me.
BS: And other things come along. What else were we listening to during that time?
BW: I don’t know. That was such a long time ago.
BS: I remember listening to a lot of Dark Side of the Moon during that time. You can infer a lot from that, I’m sure.
NB: Oh yeah, I get that in the album.
BS: So we decided to put some extended guitar solos in, and then we cut them all out.
NB: Speaking of the latest record, there’s kind of an almost a paradox between a more polished sound, but you still have that “off the cuff” sound. I heard that “The Captive Mind,” you just recorded.
BS: Yeah, a lot of the vocal stuff was just first take. We would be working on something in the studio, and I would be able to take it home and work on the vocals.
BW: The demos.
BS: Yeah, the demo stuff, really rough. And bring it back and record the real version of it. And when I went to lay down the real track, something was missing from it. Something about the energy or the feeling of it or the meaning. And it was kind of “Well, what if we just redo some of the instruments around it. Lay down the drums again and the guitar and the bass, all kinds of stuff, and just use those vocal takes.” A lot of it ended up like that. A lot of it was first take stuff. It’s almost better that way.
NB: Yeah, you get a combination, almost a paradox between…it’s definitely very polished, like you tweaked it, but at the same time it’s very organic.
BS: That’s probably a lot of the mixing process. We spend a lot of time working it out. We record our own records and mix them.
NB: I think it’s neat when a band takes things from start to finish.
BS: I can’t imagine doing it any other way. It amazes me when a band is like, “Yeah, when we recorded the record we went in for about a week, and then we handed it off to a bunch of people and they finished it for us.” I don’t understand it.
NB: I imagine you would get handed back something totally different than you had actually put out. But you guys have control over that side of things.
BF: Maybe we’re just control freaks.
NB: This record is also more lyrically focused. And I say that, but at the same time, if you took the lyrics out, the songs would be able to stand by themselves. And it’s a little less cluttery. I hate the word cluttery because I do like the older stuff too because it is that way.
BW: Yeah, but when you compare them, that sums it up in a way. We approached the record thinking that way. Bob Dylan is a great example of somebody that makes songs that to us that are really really meaningful. And it’s not so much about the music as the lyrics or the story. And so we thought, we love music with orchestration and all of the crazy sounds, but let’s try to see if we can make more of a lyrical connection. So when we were doing all the orchestration, instead of just throwing it all together and being like “Here’s everything!”.
BS: And having to work the vocals in after that.
BW: It would be like “That’s kind of just getting in the way of it.” It’s really all about the vibe. It had a feeling from the beginning. Whenever we did something that felt like it was changing it too much or it was losing that feeling, we just cut it out. So then it ended up being…compared to the average band there are still more parts and more orchestrated, but for us, it was a little more sparse.
NB: Yeah, I think you can get that. I discovered you guys after you opened for Minus the Bear, and I immediately picked up Love and Distance there. And I never buy albums from opening bands.
Matt Crisler [taking photographs of interview]: Band snob!
NB: That is not what I meant at all. I meant I never buy an album from a band that I don’t even know, like right there, and I did. And I listened to it. And then the new one came out, and I was blown away by how different it was, but it was still you guys. But you guys put it much better than I could. Obviously, I’m very terrible with words.
BW: It’s a good thing you’re a writer.
NB: Yeah, it’s a good thing. I actually really wanted to ask you guys. You did something on this latest album that is sometimes scary for smaller bands, scary for indie bands. I think this was a lot more universal than most bands would go.
BW: Yeah, it’s totally out of fashion.
NB: It’s not very fashionable to appeal to a lot of people.
BW: I don’t know if it’s a question of appealing to a lot of people. I think it’s more a question of meaning.
BS: Well, I think it’s a question of just saying what you want to say. Like, when I’m writing lyrics, I’m thinking something to myself, and I’m just writing. I’m not thinking of something being universal or trying to get to a large amount of people. But I know what you’re saying, I think that a lot of lyrics, especially in the indie world come off as impressionistic. Like, a little image here, a little image here. Don’t do something that is too specific because then you’re going to have to take responsibility for having said that.
BW: Some people do it so well that they are creating a mood, and the only way to keep it that was is by not saying something, by having it be almost sort of more background. Almost commercial. And I don’t mean commercial in the sense of sellable, but commercial as literally in a sense of in the background. Like background when you’re driving, background when you’re hanging out in a bar. Nothing that is really going to get that close to you. Something that is going to be off. You can push it away, and it’s there and it sounds great, feels great, you know. But the moment somebody starts saying something that are personal, that means something, and I don’t think that’s the fad of music right now.
NB: It’s almost dangerous.
BS: Yeah I guess it could be. But more and more, the older I get, the music I am listening to, I’m actually listening to what people say. I’m listening to what is going on behind the sound of something or just “I like how that part sounds” or “That’s a catchy part.” That’s one level of music, and I don’t think you should discount that, especially if you’re making pop music, in essence. But if you’re able to make a song on that level, and then think to yourself “Well, what are they saying. What is that guy saying?” And it may be that I’m not getting anything from that. It doesn’t make any sense, or it’s all mixed up. That, to me, it actually brings the value of the song down.
BW: There are a lot of records, and I’m definitely not naming any names, but there are a lot of records on the surface that I’m really immediately excited about. But the more I listen to the music, I’m like “What is he saying?” It’s kind of killing it for me. The lyrics are either really horrible, or you can’t hear them. Everyone’s hiding behind the lo-fi.
BS: What you are saying is that if you’re saying something, you have to take responsibility for it. And you’re saying there’s something dangerous about it. And I’ve thought about it—that you somehow risk not being cool anymore by not agreeing with somebody. So it’s interesting that more and more, you get less of that .
NB: It’s very fashionable, I think, especially in a lot of hyped bands…We were just talking about the internet mentality earlier with Venice [is Sinking]. To not make sense, to be esoteric, and “Oh you guys, you just don’t get me.”
BW: It’s all very impressionistic.
NB: Impressionistic is a perfect way to put that. So if you were to describe your sound to a five-year-old, what would you say?
BS: I wouldn’t describe it, I would just put the CD on.
NB: I don’t talk to five-year-olds.
BS: No, I talk to five year olds very often. I have a nine month old. I’ll just put on music for her.
NB: So, no need for description…just put it on.
BW: I have a three year old nephew, and he came out to our show in Los Angeles, his first rock and roll show. The first time he’s seen me playing. My sister, his mom, she plays him the songs, and he knows that this is uncle Benjamin’s band. And we were playing the set. We stopped playing after the second song, and everything kind of died down for a second, and I just heard this “That’s Uncle Benjamin!”
BS: And mind you, this is in a three or four thousand person venue.
NB: Do you guys read press about yourselves?
BW: No.
BS: No, not anymore. I used to.
BW: It just bums me out.
NB: Yeah, it would be something that would just tear me apart.
BW: Yeah, it’s really depressing…
NB: I’m already self-critical enough. I don’t need any help.
BW: It would be dumb to say there is no point to music journalism, and I’m definitely not making a judgment of music writing. It’s more of just that I have an understanding that a journalist is a writer, and they have to do something interesting. If you write a bunch of reviews, that don’t say anything, then your job is boring. It’s a realization that somebody writing about music—you can’t take it personally because there’s always agendas just beyond the music. I don’t want to read it.
BS: And at the same time, you can’t truly get away from it. Someone’s actually going to come up to you and say “I read your review in Rolling Stone or blahblahblah.” And then you don’t have to read it.
NB: Since music journalism is so much more accessible with blogs and the internet, do you feel that it is affecting you guys in anyway, even though you aren’t reading it?
BS: I’m sure it helps just general awareness. And the way that people find out about music is all over the map these days. I’ve had people come up to me on this tour and tell me that they found out about us because we have one song on the Google phone. They came to us and asked us if they could include our song, for free, so it comes with the phone when people buy it. I’ve had people come up to me and say that they didn’t know who we were, and I heard you guys on my new phone. I love you guys. I went out and bought your records, and I’m a fan now. You can find music in so many ways. It’s just crazy.
NB: That’s another thing. When bands talk about commercials, they say that people heard their song on a commercial.
BS: I want to find someone who became a fan because of a ringtone.
BW: I think we did! There was a myspace comment once that they had downloaded “Don’t Look Away” ringtone.
BS: They probably meant to download The Chili Peppers.
BW: And then he went and looked at our myspace page.
NB: You guys have been around for quite a while. What advice would you give to a band that is just starting out.
BS: Keep going. I don’t know.
BW: Stop if you’re not good. We usually don’t take support bands on the road with us. So we get tons of local openers. Sometimes people are really excited, and they ask us “How do you hook up with Sub Pop” or “What do you do?” And I think some people want to try to skip steps. They just want to jump up ahead. And all that I can say is some people win the lottery, and some people don’t. Start thinking one step at a time. Book your small show, and get some friends there. Do one thing at a time. Don’t think about this big thing far off in the future. Enjoy making music
BS: And keep sight of that as you keep going because there are going to be people coming along saying “We want to sign you and throw all this money at you.” That kind of stuff happens. We had that happen to us especially early in our career.
BW: We said no.
BS: And we said no. For us, anyways, it was the right thing to do. Some bands can sign some gigantic contract and have a bunch of people throw money at them and get paid. But, I think you really run the risk of falling on your face.
NB: Definitely. Which fictional character is most like you guys?
BS: One character? Or is it a duo?
BW: The three muskateers.
NB: It can be one. You don’t have to pick a duo. You can pick separate ones.
BS: Probably Animal for Benjamin.
BW: Why? Why would that me be? I’m thinking the geeky guy in Real Genius.
BS: I’m trying to think of a fictional character.
NB: It can be cartoon.
BS: Yosemite Sam?
BW: What? How are you like Yosemite Sam?
BS: I don’t know. He’s fictional.
James Sewall [of Venice is Sinking]: Droopy’s good.
BS: I’m down with that.
NB: Okay, if you guys could break any world record, what would you break?
BW: Richest dude in the world.
NB: Richest dude in the world!
BS: Longest touring band in the world. We’ll be 90.
NB: Never stop touring. Do you guys prefer studio or stage?
BW: Both, in their own ways.
BS: Yeah, they are totally different worlds.
NB: As a duo, with a keyboardist/drummer, I’m sure it totally different both ways. And we talked earlier about how you go back in and tweak things.
BS: Yeah, it’s a totally different. A lot of bands come back from touring and record an album, but for us, I feel like the studio process is a lot slower, much more methodic kind of a process.
NB: And at the same time, your live sound is very similar to your studio so. So, whatever magic you guys are working…
BS: That’s what it is.
NB: And if you could turn in your tour van for a dinosaur, which one would you choose?
BS: What’s the fastest dinosaur?
NB: I’ve never seen a dinosaur race.
BS: Because that’s all you need out of a tour van---get to that next city.
BW: You’re thinking you want the dinosaur to be a vehicle?
BS: Well, if we didn’t have a tour van, we’d need something to get from show to show.
BW: I mean, I don’t think a dinosaur is going to work.
BS: We have to trade it in for a dinosaur, though.
BW: If we had a dinosaur, we could open a zoo…
BS: And then from the revenue of that, okay.
BW: We could totally buy a new van. I’m thinking we should go for a big one, like T. Rex.
BS: Okay.
BW: Well, maybe a brontosaurus, though. It doesn’t eat meat. It would be more indie. It would be more cool. A vegan dinosaur. And less likely to eat anyone.
NB: We would like to request a vegan dinosaur, please.
BS: Okay, I’m down with that.
BW: We would have to buy some land.
BS: We could get a loan from the bank.
NB: With the brontosaurus as collateral.
BW: But where would we put the dinosaur while we are waiting for the loan?
BS: This is really tricky.
NB: This question is a lot more complicated that I had originally thought it would be.
BW: Or transportation too. We’d probably have to hire a construction company for it.
Matt Crisler: You could walk it.
NB: Dinosaur rollerskates.
BW: I wonder if you could lease a brontosaurus. Like if we had a huge, a really heavy truck, that we could chain it to.
BS: Or a van…oh damn, we gave it up for the dinosaur.
NB: On that note, we’ll end on if you were any animal, what would you be?
BS: A panda.
BW: I don’t know. A brontosaurus.
NB: Thank you very much for being with me.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nichole vs. Chairlift

Chairlift Interview Audio

Nichole vs. Chairlift
40 Watt Club Athens, GA
April 27, 2009

Patrick Wimberly: Before we start this, can I just read a quote from Dr. Dre?
Ethan Silverman (Tour Manager): She already started it.
PW: Can I use a quote from Dr. Dre?
Nichole Bennett: Let’s do it.
PW: In 1993, Dr. Dre said “Everybody has something they can do in the studio. I can take a fuckin’ three year old and make a hit record on him. God has blessed me with this gift.”
NB: So, I’m Nichole, and I’m here in Athens, Georgia at the 40 Watt Club with Patrick of Chairlift.
PW: Hi.
NB: We were just starting off with a Dr. Dre quote that we are all still recovering from. I guess to start us off, if you could kind of describe the story of Chairlift would it be a pop-up book or would it be a graphic novel?
PW: Oh definitely a pop-up book. That’s an easy question.
NB: Would it have pull tabs? Like interactive pop-up books?
PW: Yeah. There would be pictures of us dancing. There would be pictures of us meeting each other, with big smiles on our faces.
ES: I picture a pop-up mountain with a chairlift with the two of you sitting on it.
NB: With a little wheel to make it go around?
PW: This is Ethan, he takes care of us on the road.
NB: You guys have a pretty varied sound. For most people who have just heard the iPod commercial, they get this “Bruises” poppy sound. But you’ve really got more of a darker sound as well. How would you say it all ties together? Or how would you describe your sound to a five year old? Or maybe that three year old that Dr. Dre was hanging out with?
ES: Patrick is really good at talking to three year olds.
PW: First off, I’d like to say that I really like three year olds. “We’re in a band called Chairlift, and we play songs for dancing and for having fun. And for exploring your own mind.” We did play a show recently for a bunch of three year olds, and they got up on stage and danced. It was really cute.
NB: So, if you could take five albums on a desert island…
ES: On a deserted island?
NB: A desert…well, you can have your friends.
PW: Do I have a stereo there?
NB: Yeah, you’ve got a stereo.
PW: I would take Sexuality by Sebastian Tellier because I can’t stop listening to it. What else would I take?
ES: You would take a Rolling Stones record, but I don’t know which one.
PW: I would take a Led Zeppelin record. I would take III.
NB: Three of them?
PW: No, I would take the third one. That’s only two. I would take Abby Road. That’s kind of like a standard. I would take the new YACHT record. I don’t have it yet, and it comes out July.
NB: Hopefully you’re not deserted by then.
PW: Yeah, hopefully I’m not getting deserted on this island until after July, and the YACHT record comes out. And one more: I would make a new one and take it with me.
NB: Just take a blank disk with you.
PW: Yeah, I would record it on the island.
ES: Just bring a four-track.
PW: And I would call it All Alone.
NB: What is your favorite dinosaur?
PW: This is another easy question because I would take the…wait. If I could take any dinosaur to a desert island, it would be a brontosaurus.
ES: I would take the new YACHT record.
NB: My favorite dinosaur is the new YACHT record!
PW: Next question.
NB: So you guys are touring. What is the most annoying thing about touring? You guys just came from Austin, and you are zooming around.
PW: The most annoying thing about touring is…
ES: All these free drinks we get.
NB: Oh, how terrible!
PW: No, that’s not that annoying.
ES: It’s being in cool places but not spending much time in them.
PW: Yeah, that’s it. It’s not having enough time in areas that you want to spend time in.
NB: Do you ever read press or reviews about yourself?
PW: Never. Some other members of our band do, but I never do.
NB: If you could replace your arms with anything, what would you replace them with?
PW: Other arms.
NB: Other arms?
PW: Because I need my arms. They’re important to me because I’m a drummer. I would replace them with Al Green’s. He’s got nice arms.
ES: You should replace them with another drummer’s arms.
PW: Well, maybe if I had his arms, I could sing that well.
NB: Crunchy or smooth peanut butter?
PW: Crunchy because it has peanuts in it.
NB: What is one question you wish interviewers would ask?
PW: I wish they would ask…Are you going to ask this one in your next interview?
NB: Yeah, maybe. And you can answer it if you like. If it’s good, I’ll steal it.
PW: Probably not. I’m not that good of an interviewer. I would ask me on this desert island…
NB: With a brontosaurus running around.
PW: …I would ask “What would you name a brontosaurus if you had a brontosaurus on a desert island?”
NB: That’s a good one.
Caroline Polacheck: I’m just going to hump into this interview
NB: Sure.
PW: Caroline is here.
NB: Caroline just arrived.
CP: Is this for radio?
NB: This is for college radio.
CP: I should not have said hump. Hi guys, I’m Caroline. I’m in a band called Chairlift.
NB: Thank you for joining us. Well, we should probably catch her up on the important questions. Mainly, what is your favorite dinosaur?
CP: Definitely a pterodactyl.
NB: That’s a good one. Let’s see, I guess the only other good one is: If you could replace your arms with anything, what would it be?
PW: I take that back. It would be Stevie Wonder’s arms because he can do everything with his arms.
NB: This is true.
CP: So it can be other people’s arms?
PW: Anything counts. I would put one hairdryer on one of your arms.
CP: I would probably have a giant snake coming out of one arm…
PW: And a hairdryer.
CP: No. Wait, yeah how will I dry my hair? Well, the snake can be trained to hold a hairdryer. In its mouth. It would be really long. It would be way longer than an arm size. It would go from here to there. But it would learn to coil for transportation purposes. And then the other arm would be some kind of moving light show with speakers in it.
NB: I’d want to hang out with you. Party time, Caroline’s here. If Chairlift had a catch phrase, what would it be?
CP: We have so many. “My dude.” “It’s on.”
NB: What is the most embarrassing CD in your collection? Or are you not embarrassed by anything?
PW: I’m not embarrassed by anything. I have music that people say I should be embarrassed to have, but it’s not embarrassing.
CP: I have some CDs at my mom’s house that are pretty embarrassing.
NB: Do you guys prefer performing in bigger venues or smaller ones?
CP: I like playing in place with good sound and good lights because that affects the show more than size. Playing in an intimate place and the lighting is really moody and the sound is really spectacular and submersive. That makes for a good show.
NB: I asked him earlier: Do you read reviews about yourself?
CP: Yeah, probably more than I should. Less and less. I think it’s interesting. I don’t take it all to heart. It’s like throwing a ball back and forth. It’s interesting watching your reviews consistently change. Like if all of them are saying the same thing at one point in time and all of them are saying another thing at another point in time, then it’s like “Okay, that’s a legit point you made.”
NB: I was talking to Matt of Matt and Kim last night and he said “I want more haters.” The more haters you have, the more people are paying attention. It changes the way I thought about criticism.
CP: To me the most brutal thing isn’t press because you can take that with a grain of salt, but for me it’s live videos. It freaks me out to see myself play live.
NB: What can we expect to see from Chairlift in the future?
CP: Probably Aaron, Caroline, and Patrick. A lot of those people.
NB: Those three.
CP: Yeah sometimes instruments….sometimes clothes.
NB: I will let you guys go grab dinner, but I have one more question: If you were any animal, what would it be?
PW: A monkey. Easy question.
NB: He was ready. He needs harder questions next time.
PW: Next time you come back why don’t you challenge me a little bit, okay?
CP: I think I would be a killer whale. It seems like it would be fun to be a whale.
NB: That would be really fun.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nichole vs. Tokyo Police Club

Tokyo Police Club Audio

Nichole vs. Tokyo Police Club
The EARL Atlanta, GA
March 5, 2009

Nichole Bennett: Just introduce yourself.
Greg Alsop: I’m Greg Alsop. I’m in Atlanta, and I play drums in Tokyo Police Club.
NB: Thank you so much for joining me. So I guess just a little bit of background on the band. If you could describe the story of your band, would it be a comic book or would it be a pop-up book? And maybe fill in the details.
GA: I would probably choose a pop-up book. I’m not as familiar with graphic novels as some. I sort of grew up on pop-up books. I had a great version of “The Night Before Christmas” that my mom bought in the seventies that saw me through year after year.
NB: Yeah I make my parents read mine every Christmas.
GA: Yeah, same. We formed in January of 2005. We were all friends in high school. So you could picture us all there drawn in mostly pastel colors. And there’s a little slide arrow of us waving in front of our high school. We’d all just been friends in high school. The other three had known each other since elementary school, and we all just kind of bonded over similar taste in music. We were the only people we really knew in our small town who were into a lot of the new bands that were coming out around that time. You know like Interpol, The Strokes, Arcade Fire… Everyone else was, kind of strangely, into hip hop. It was a bunch of really rich white kids. Just like…beating each other up for no reason. And we were like “I don’t want any part in that.” So, our thing to do on Friday nights was just to gather in somebody’s basement and just play music until our parents told us to stop. Eventually, that brought us here.
NB: Where did the name Tokyo Police Club come from?
GA: There’s no good story.
NB: Is it just words mashed together?
GA: Yeah, it really is just words mashed together. That’s the best description. We should come up with a decent story for it because people ask us that all the time. We’re not a band full of mystery. That’s the problem…very open. And we’ve got nothing to say about our name. We wrote the song “Cheer It On” in May of 2005 and it came to be our first show, and we were like “We need to call ourselves something.”
NB: So how is this tour going?
GA: It’s fantastic. It’s the best. Yeah, we are touring with all incredible bands that we are great friends with. Ruby Coast from our home town in Toronto. Born Ruffians from there also. The Harlem Shakes, who are amazing. Ra Ra Riot, who we’ve been out with before. If I’m missing somebody, then I apologize, but it’s just all incredible bands.
NB: Yeah, I saw that all of your openers are fantastic.
GA: Yeah, we wanted it to be that way. We haven’t toured in a while, and we’re not going to be touring again for a while, so we wanted to make this as fun as possible. Going out on tour can be very exhausting, but when you get to the venue everyday and there’s a bunch of people there that you’re really excited to hang out with it’s much better.
NB: How would you describe the sound of the band, or even maybe the sound that you guys are looking for, to a three year old?
GA: To a three year old? We’re music you can jump around and have fun to, I’d say. You don’t have to cover your ears. We don’t have too many swears. Hopefully they aren’t words that a three year old would be familiar with anyway so it doesn’t really matter. Even if, there’s nothing that you would be shocked to hear a three year old say. It’d be a little more cute.
NB: Three year olds cover Tokyo Police Club.
GA: Yeah, yeah, you could do that. If Kidz Bop or whatever that was decided to do one of our tracks, they wouldn’t have too much trouble choosing, sifting through the lyrics.
NB: Do you ever read your own reviews? I always wonder, as a musician, if you read your own stuff.
GA: Yeah when the album first came out, I did. But eventually it became too difficult separating what they are saying as an actual critique from just journalism. You can’t take it to heart. Sometimes you find reviews that maybe do offer very good criticism that you can use to make better songs in the future. Some publications are just about tearing bands up, and some publications are just about puffing bands careers up. I don’t know. I feel like it’s good to find a middle ground.
NB: I feel like reviewers should also be reviewed sometimes.
GA: Yeah.
NB: They’re never criticized for their writing.
GA: That’s the one thing. That is the one part of the music industry that is completely unnecessary. It’s kind of the easiest job out there.
NB: Yeah, nobody is looking over their shoulder.
GA: Exactly. Maybe that will be my thing…writing in just letters to the editor week after week. More counter-reviews.
NB: What is your favorite flavor of jellybean?
GA: In just the regular variety, yellow.
NB: Yellow-flavored.
GA: Yellow lemon I guess. Or white, I guess. I like white beans sometimes. But if you’re going to go all the way to the Jelly Belly gourmet flavors, Dr. Pepper. We had a bunch. I got a bunch for Easter last year, and they were all nicely laid out in a tray, and within a few hours they all just spilt and were all over the floor. So every once in a while, you could just reach down, grab a couple up and just make a cocktail.
Matt Crisler (WSBF-FM): Do you eat the black ones? That’s the big question as to whether or not they like jellybeans?
NB: Yeah, I like the black ones.
GA: I do, yeah.
NB: My friends would all hand me the licorice ones. And I love food, so I was always like “Give me all of yours.” So, I gradually grew to love them.
GA: Yeah, I will take all of the other ones. But if I reach down and grab one, then I’ll eat it. No problem.
NB: So you guys have a Candyland van with jellybeans all over the floor.
GA: Yep.
NB: So I was thinking about this the other day that pop music, when you think about the word “pop” it has become something totally different in especially the minds of young people these days. Do you have your own personal definition? Or has it become a bad word? It used to be like pop and that meant Brittany Spears.
GA: I definitely agree that it used to be something to approach rarely, and if you were labeled as pop music it was just stuff that was very trite and easily digestible. The definition has become much for vague and all-encompassing. I mean, what do you really consider not “pop” music these days? Clearly if it’s not jazz and if it’s not composed in a modernist classical sense, then everything else can really fall under the pop category. I mean, we label ourselves as pop music. I don’t like assigning genres. Oh it’s like trip-electrocore or something. What are you talking about man? It’s just music, and if you like it, then listen to it. It shouldn’t be something that you try and find a label for and then listen very strictly to that.
NB: One more, and this is the one more and this is the one that I ask all bands. If you were an animal, what would you be?
GA: Me? Maybe a turtle because then when I tour, I can bring my home everywhere with me.
NB: That would be nice.
GA: That’d be the best actually. That would be really great. I don’t think it fits with me any other way.
NB: Thanks so much.

Nichole vs. Eulogies

Eulogies Interview Audio

Nichole vs. Eulogies
The Ranch Austin, TX
March 19, 2009

Nichole Bennett: My name is Nichole. I’m the music director for WSBF in Clemson, South Carolina, and I’m lucky enough to be here with Eulogies’ frontman.
Peter Walker: I’m good. I’m great.
NB: Great. If you could describe Eulogies’ sound to a three year old, how would you do it?
PW: It’s loud. Definitely for a three year old
NB: Like, cover your ears, little baby.
PW: Yeah, you are covering your ears. Our stuff is pretty driving, but it’s not death metal or anything. It’s like driving coming from a folk…maybe runway.
NB: Driving folk.
PW: Yeah, driving folk.
NB: A lot of my DJs and myself loved your EP. It’s kind of a teaser. We are really excited about the CD coming out. Can you tell us anything about it?
PW: Yeah, three of the songs on the EP are on the LP. Thank you. We love it too. We are so excited about it. Um, what else can I say. It really works as an LP. That might sound pretentious, but for the EP we just grabbed a few songs. The first song on the EP is actually the last song on the record, so it was a little weird. I feel like with the record, it’s all there ready to listen to.
NB: So if the story of your band was a coloring, book, what themed Crayola box would you use?
PW: What themed Crayola box?
NB: You know, like neon…they’ve got glitter. They’ve got the twenty four set…they’ve got the mega set.
PW: You know what I’d do? Primary colors. That’s it. Just red, blue, yellow.
NB: Would it be a pop-up book or a comic book?
PW: Probably a comic. You know, straightforward.
NB: Do you like crunchy or smooth peanut butter?
PW: I like both. I’ll eat them both.
NB: What question do you wish interviewers would ask more, and which one do you wish they would ask less?
PW: I know our less right off the bat. It’s “Why is your band called what it is?”
NB: Every says that. They hate that.
PW: I’m okay, actually. It’s just that the repetition is hard. More, I don’t know. That’s tough. Just more meaningful stuff.
NB: Do you ever read your own reviews?
PW: I try not to seek them out, but if someone give me a good one, I’ll read it. That’s pretty much it.
NB: I can imagine. I’m sort of self-critical, so it would be…
PW: Yeah, it’s hard. You have to be doing it for the right reasons, I think. We’re not really trying to please certain people.
NB: If your band had a mascot, what would it be?
PW: It would probably be…it’s actually right there. It’s our van. That old van right there is called “Gus”. He’s our mascot for sure.
NB: Oh man, I wish this was a video interview because Gus is quite impressive.
PW: Yeah, that’s Gus. Gusty Winds is his full name.
NB: If you could replace your arms with anything, what would it be?
PW: Wings, for sure.
NB: Is there anything else that you would like to say?
PW: Well, we have a record coming out on April 7, and we’re going on tour. The next seven, eight weeks we’ll be on the road. So hopefully we’ll get to play some shows for some of your listeners.
NB: Yes, you should stop by Clemson. South Carolina, we are a great stop in between North Carolina and Georgia. There aren’t any venues there but there is the college radio station.
PW: I love doing college radio stations, that would be fun.
NB: What do you eat on your French fries?
PW: Ketchup. Pepper, and black pepper.
NB: Everyone is saying pepper today! It’s such a new thing for me. If your band had a catch phrase what would it be?
PW: We melt faces.
NB: Melt faces, I believe so. Here’s a more serious question. This is kind of an age of the internet and an A.D.D. musicality. Everyone’s just looking for “the next big thing.” The good things they’ll write these longer reviews. But the new things, they’ll write short things and they may or may not persist. How do you guys play into that? Or how do you feel about that?
PW: We made an album. We didn’t make a bunch of singles and a bunch of b-sides. We have a whole record, and we feel like it’s a piece of art, you know? That’s where are, and that’s not necessarily where a lot of bands are.
NB: It’s a very single culture lately. With Hypemachine and blogs posting mp3s.
PW: I mean, I think that’s all cool because it’s great to get excited about a song, but I like having the whole record to choose from if I’m a listener. I can grab what I want to grab.
NB: Are you guys big vinyl people?
PW: Yeah, definitely.
NB: I really got into vinyl lately as soon as I stole my parents’ record player. I just think that this is in some ways very good for smaller bands, but at the same time it’s a very A.D.D. culture. We are like “oh, give me a single…okay, that’s good.” But at the same time, I was talking about vinyl’s a piece of art. It’s something you can own. Whereas a CD, you can put it in the microwave, and it’s still fine.
PW: I think live music is a good antidote to all of that. When you go to see a band, they hopefully aren’t just playing one song, and it doesn’t always sound on the record. So it’s cool to go see live music.
NB: I think that’s one reason it will still persist. On that note, I will go let you eat your pizza. Thank you so much for joining me.

Nichole vs. Dappled Cities

Dappled Cities Interview Audio

Nichole Vs. Dappled Cities
The Ranch Austin, TX
March 19, 2009

Nichole Bennett: This is Nichole. I’m here with Dappled Cities here in Austin, Texas for South By Southwest, and I was lucky enough to talk with these guys. How are you guys doing today?
Dappled Cities: Good, good.
NB: And they are playing today at The Ranch. So if you’re lucky enough to catch them. I’ve just got a few questions. We are going to do a quick interview with them because they’ve got a set to do. My first question is something that I’ve been talking about with my friends. Is “pop music” turning into a bad word? Or do you think it is turning into something new? What does “pop music” mean to you?
DC: I think pop music is any sort of music that is accessible to a large amount of people. Either that or music that makes you feel good about yourself. If you think of the nineties pop music it wasn’t really something, there’s no doubt it wasn’t something that I’d like. And Michael Jackson is pop music.
NB: Yeah, I think in the nineties it became something of a bad word.
DC: We certainly have intentions of putting it back into the psyche of cool. Pop is cool.
NB: Do you guys ever read your own reviews?
DC: Yeah.
NB: Yeah?
DC: Well, we know they’re all going to be good, so there’s no problem there. Well, if you’ve got a bad review, you can always just blame the internet.
NB: Yeah, he’s not who we are trying to reach anyway.
DC: Yeah, yeah. He’s not who we are playing to anyway. Reviews are good though, in terms of finding out what people think of what you’re doing and so on…how people interpret it.
NB: So, we’ve got a weird age coming on. We’ve got the internet coming into play and this almost A.D.D. musicality. How does this affect a band?
DC: I think that it’s great that we’re getting fans. I think the industry’s been turned on its head since the internet came in. And the only people who seemed to have benefited from it all are the artists. We say, bring it on.
NB: I’m all for that. What do you like to eat on your French fries?
DC: Pepper, lots of pepper. Oh, so much pepper. That’s what we do in Australia.
NB: If Dappled Cities had a catchphrase, what would it be?
DC: Calm down.
NB: If you could describe your sound to a three-year-old, how would you describe it?
DC: Um, you’re at three year old…
NB: If you could tell the story of your band, would it be a pop-up book or would it be a comic book? And then, how would it go?
DC: What was the first option?
NB: A comic book of a pop-up book.
DC: Oh, it would certainly be a pop-up book. We’re a very three-dimensional band. We have depth as well as excitement…and revelation.
NB: With pull tabs?
DC: Definitely.
NB: If you could replace your arms with anything, what would it be?
DC: Flying V guitars.
NB: You guys have thought this out.
DC: We have thought this out. Octopus tentacles.
NB: If you were an animal, what would you be?
DC: An octopus.
NB: I’m losing it. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Or just Vegemite, right?
DC: Yeah, we just eat Vegemite.
NB: I tried Vegemite the other day.
DC: What did you think?
NB: It was very different. It’s going to take a little while.
DC: It’s pretty salty.
NB: I think I expected more like Nutella. So how do you guys like Austin?
DC: It’s a beautiful place. I really love it. Do you live here?
NB: No, but I want to. I’m from South Carolina.
DC: I think it’s been describe to us as a black hole in the Bible belt. That was just a funny description.
NB: What question do you wish interviewers would ask you guys? So you can spill. Or which one do you wish they would not ask?
DC: Certainly a question that we really hate answering is where our band name came from because it’s a really hard question to answer. Well, most bands alcohol and drugs are involved in the conception, so no one can even remember where it came from. As far as questions we love being asked: What size is your waist for these free Levis? What size are your feet for these free shoes? What are your favorite sunglasses for your free sunglasses?
NB: Whoa, whoa, not that type of interview. We’re a small town here. Um, free…toothpicks!
DC: We might need to wrap this up in a second because we’re on soon.
NB: I really appreciate you guys hanging out with me.

Nichole vs. Matt (of Matt and Kim)

Matt (of Matt and Kim) Interview Audio

Nichole Bennett vs. Matt (of Matt and Kim)
The Masquerade Atlanta, GA
March 26, 2009

Nichole Bennett: Cool, I’m Nichole. I’m here with Matt, half of Matt and Kim. Thank you so much for joining us.
Matt Johnson: My pleasure.
NB: They just put on a rocking set here at The Masquerade in Atlanta, Georgia opening for Cut Copy. It was really rad.
MJ: This place is cool. It feels like warehouse style shows in Brooklyn.
NB: Did you know that each of the levels have a name?
MJ: I heard there was Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.
NB: Yeah, you guys just played in Heaven.
MJ: Oh really? Yeah it was weird. We were handed all that press for The Haunting, this movie. I don’t know.
NB: You have a notebook?
MJ: I got a notebook! It’s a sweet deal, right? But they had a card that was about…last night we were over at The Drunken Unicorn…on one of the these cards on the back it said that this place was haunted and it’s been falling apart. I was like, “Oh damnit, we gotta go there tomorrow.”
NB: They always say that they are no longer going to have shows. They always say it’s going to collapse, and sometimes it feels like it might.
MJ: The way the equipment goes up and down is so bizarre. Did you see that lift? The way to get everyone’s stuff upstairs…there’s this weird, really janky thing that’s on two wires. I don’t know about that.
NB: So if you were to describe the story of Matt and Kim, or at least the Matt story, would it be a graphic novel or a pop up book?
MJ: I’d say pop-up book only because I’m much more familiar with pop-up books. Actually we’ve been very intrigued by pop-up books. One of the first projects Kim and I did together, before we even tried playing music was that we used to make rock show posters for our friends’ bands in New York that were all pop-up, that had pop-up elements. You could open windows or spin little dials and things like that, and they were all silkscreened. They were awesome except that they would get stolen the first day you put them up. They were a lot of work for the look.
NB: That would be cool for house shows.
MJ: Yeah, depending on the spot. We also didn’t realize that if you put posters up on the street in Brooklyn, it’s a crime. So the cops busted us the first poster.
NB: Man, I didn’t know that. I saw posters all over New York.
MJ: Yeah people, do it, but…
NB: Underground poster putter-uppers. Do you guys ever read your own reviews?
MJ: Well, to begin with, I did. Because when we first started getting reviews and things like that, I was very intrigued. But the thing is we’d get a good review…we’d get band of the week on some website or whatever and then the comments would be hundreds of just haters.
NB: Yeah, only haters comment.
MJ: Yeah those are the ones you want to read. You just want the drama. The nice ones are boring. But all the same, it’s weird because we put so much of ourselves and so much of our time, you know all of our time, into doing this. And it’s not just like hating on the band, it’s like hating on us. But it’s one of those things now. Now Kim gets upset when there’s not enough hate comments. Like on Brooklyn Vegan, it’s the most talked about bands that get the most hate. I realized this when I was looking at an issue of Spin magazine, and it was the reader-voted best and worst bands of 2007 maybe. The lists were almost exactly the same. I think My Chemical Romance was number one on it. They were reader voted best band and reader voted worst band. The list was like exactly the same. Whoever was talked about the most was the most hated and the most liked, whoever was talked about the second most… So, we actually saw a Katt Williams sketch or it’s his standup act. It was actually from here in Atlanta, and he talked about needing haters. “If you only have 15 haters now, you should try to have 20 by summertime.”
NB: I think I’m learning that too. It’s kind of weird the way the internet treats music. It’s kind of an A.D.D. musicality, where you’re like “I’m going to hop on the Hypemachine and see what’s popular this week.” But hate, that’s the key I guess.
MJ: I don’t know. We’ve gone and embraced it. But all the same, it kind of cuts a little deep for me. So I decided it would just be easier to not read it.
NB: How would you describe your sound to maybe a five year old?
MJ: To a five year old? Well, it’s funny because before the band, Kim was a nanny. At the time, I think they were three and four. Now they’re about six and five, but we still go and visit those girls all the time. They’re awesome. They’re the first thing that made me understand parenting. Like, why would anyone want to be a parent? And these two girls are just so cool. And they also love Matt and Kim. I don’t know…how would I describe? Parents come and tell me that they and their kids sing and dance to it. I think it’s funny because the parents like it, and they come to our shows and talk about their kids liking it. So, I think it’s like a sing-along dance party.
NB: That’s a good one. It’s one of the few bands like that.
MJ: Yeah, on the end of the first album, the last track is just us in the studio. I was sick, so I was taking nasal spray and other cold medicines just to keep my nose clear, and I was totally flying on a kite of cold medicine. But it’s just us talking because we were thinking of starting the album with…because we used to always start our shows with “This is Kim and I’m Matt, and we’re Matt and Kim.” But it’s that, and I swear or something. And Kim says, “You can’t swear, Chloe’s going to hear this.” Just because of those two girls she used to nanny she didn’t want us to swear on the album.
NB: Our radio listeners can’t see this, but we are in a magnificent super red van.
MJ: Super red yes!
NB: Oh, is that carpeted wall?
MJ: Oh yeah, that’s a pro job right there, carpeted these wall myself. Kim painted these candy stripes on the back.
NB: Yeah, this is one of the more fancy vans I’ve been in. What do you guys listen to when you’re driving around?
MJ: Well, if you notice, we do not have a CD player or any way to plug in an iPod. We don’t turn the stereo on. That’s a band rule. We don’t listen to music. Everyone has their own iPod. But if you have five people in the van, it becomes a source of a lot of anger having to listen to what other people like. So we decided when we bought this van that we were just not going to put a stereo in.
NB: That’s probably a really good rule. That’s one of the better rules I’ve heard.
MJ: Yeah, so we all listen to our own thing.
NB: What is your favorite dinosaur?
MJ: Dinosaur? I guess the stegosaurus is kind of rad, right?
NB: That’s a good one.
MJ: It’s pretty big. Wait, stegosaurus is the one that has the tail with all the spiky stuff on it?
NB: Yeah. It’s got spikes. I guess we talked about the internet earlier. I know the internet has played a big role in you guys getting your music videos up, which are really fun to watch by the way. Were they as fun to make as they are to watch or is there a lot of work going into that?
MJ: I don’t know. It depends on who you ask. If you ask me, I’d say “yes.” If you ask Kim, she’d say “no.” We just shot another video a couple of weekends ago before we went on tour for a song called “Lessons Learned,” but the last one that has come out was for “Daylight.” Every situation in that was like Kim’s most hated situation. We play inside a dumpster, and we were told the dumpster would be a clean dumpster. But that didn’t really mean clean as much as the large garbage was pulled out. There was this thick inch of grime on the walls, and she was just hating being in there. But if you watch, she’s smiling. There’s different forms of Kim smiling. If she’s very uncomfortable, she smiles. She’s happy, she smiles. When she’s terrified, she gets this crazy squeaky wheel laugh. We went to go see some horror movie in the theater, and as someone’s getting sliced and diced and chopped up—that stuff freaks her out—and she just started laughing hysterically. And people are like, “Who’s that messed-up girl laughing at this stuff?” Oh yeah, so she hated being in that dumpster. She hates getting water in her face. We played in the shower. Whenever she goes swimming—have you ever seen a cat try to swim?
NB: Yeah I hate that too.
MJ: They’re just trying to keep their head above water at all cost. She hated getting water in her face. She’s kind of claustrophobic. She hated being in there. Yeah, so it was her nightmare. Our “Yea Yeah” video was fun to shoot for the three and a half minutes that we actually shot it for. And then the six hours of cleaning up with weird stuff in our hair…it was just the grossest smell.
NB: You guys just came from Austin, Texas didn’t you? From South By Southwest?
MJ: Sort of. We’ve been to Austin twice in the last month. We started this tour with Cut Copy in Austin and then looped over to the west coast. We had a day off between Chicago and Toronto, and we were like “Days off are for weak people.” So we decided we would fly back down on that one day off for South By Southwest.
NB: Yeah, I was like “Where are they coming from?!”
MJ: And then we flew back up to Toronto. We flew Toronto to New York, then over to Boston. We had to drive over night back to New York. And then D.C. It’s been really crazy. But we had the day off yesterday. We just got to hang out in Atlanta.
NB: You guys are sticking around for a little while. There’s some Athens and some Asheville action going on.
MJ: Yeah, well we’ll be back and then we’ll be in the area. We go from here to Orlando, then Miami, then Tallahasee, then Gainesville. Then I think we’ll be back up.
NB: A lot of people skip Florida. I bet they’ll be really happy.
MJ: Yeah, it’s one of those things that to get to the tip is sort of out of the way. But you can also do a lot of shows in Florida. We’re excited to be where it’s warm. Like here.
NB: If Matt and Kim had a catchphrase, what would it be?
MJ: It would be “You can’t threaten me with a good time.”
NB: And I’ll leave you with this last question: If you could be any animal, what would you be?
MJ: I’d have to be a dog. Kim and I are both nuts about dogs. Even though we couldn’t have one because we live in an eight foot wide apartment in Brooklyn, and we travel nine months out of the year. But, we’ll go and get cups of tea and coffee and go to the dog park and just lurk.
NB: Like a child predator, but with dogs.
MJ: We don’t really know the policy. Like when Kim was a nanny, you’re not supposed to go into a playground unless you’re with a child. So are you not supposed to go in the dog park unless you have a dog? Yeah I think we’d both be dogs.