Modern Till Midnight with St. Vincent | Peter and the Wolf | Sleeping States | Doug Burr | Tame...Tame and Quiet | Mom | Sober (Fort Worth Modern) Wow, what an impressive line up at the Modern this evening. I usually assume that people involved in "the arts" are a day late and a dollar short when it comes to music, but I think this looks to be quite an event, with a solid local line up that seems perfectly crafted to cater to the vast cross section of people who will probably be at the Modern this evening. I should point out that the English band Sleeping States, the only non locals on the bill, are a pretty nice little pop band that kind of reminds me of sleepy early 90's indie rock and brit pop, maybe something like Belle and Sebastian doing Silver Jews covers remixed by Sea and Cake. Anyway, this event is also a good opportunity to get one final look at the Ron Mueck exhibit, which closes down October 21st. It's fifteen bucks to get in, and you can get more info, including set times, right here.
Man Man | The Extraordinaires (Palladium Loft) Man Man put on one of the highest energy live shows I've ever seen a few months ago at the Cavern, and I'm hoping the excitement they were able to bring to that small venue can be found in the considerably larger surroundings of the Palladium Loft. I bet it can. If you have any interest in their music and you have yet to see them live, I promise you want to. From the Philadelphia art spazz scene that produced the love em or hate em Need New Body, Man Man comes off live like one of the easiest bands in the world to like-- all clapping, yelling, and banging on drums. Worth it. The Extraordinaires will be playing a Good Records in store today at 6pm.
Great Tyrant | Life Death Continuum | Trifle Tower | Aphonic Curtainz (Red Blood Club) This is an impressive lineup featuring some of the top talent in local music, regardless of categorization. Great Tyrant and Life Death Continuum both exhibit the rhythmic complexity and grandiose bombast of every great moment in prog from Magma to King Crimson, but with more anger than 70's cheese. Life Death Continuum has a more direct style of attack than the ominous gloom of Great Tyrant's music. Trifle Tower is frantically tumbling and screaming hardcore. Aphonic Curtains is the new project of Aaron Gonzalez, Rob Buttrum of House Of Tinnitus, and Mike M. of SDS. I caught their first brief impromptu performance at Tinnitus, and was impressed by the trio's ability to manipulate the intensity by their keen sense of dynamics. Buttrum has classic drum chops, which is apparent even as he beats away on scrap metal. Mike M. adds electronic buzz and static over everything and it comes as no surprise that Aaron Gonzalez is a great bass player, even if he uses a butterknife in lieu of a plectrum. We're not sure about the line up for this one, so maybe someone in the know can give it to us in the comments. (This is a rerun of the write up we did last week. We thought the show was last week and added it to the previous weekender because we're dumb. But this time, we're quite sure that the aforementioned show is actually happening THIS weekend. Promise. Sorry for the confusion.)
Thomas Function | Chronic Seizure | Party Garbage | Teenage Cool Kids | Wax Museums (715 Panhandle) Looks like another rad show at Panhandle. Alabama's Thomas Function has been compared to Television, and though I can hear it more in the vocals than anything else, fans of solid poppy jangle rock shouldn't shy away from the punk atmosphere of 715 tonight. Teenage Cool Kids is also very pop-oriented but they tend to be more 90's indie rock and pop punk than late 70's New York. Party Garbage features members of The Snobs and Ben Snakepit of Snakepit fame. Wax Museums will probably be the highlight of this show for me.
Violent Squid | Mad Scientists | Silk Stocking (Dallas Scaregrounds) The Dallas Scaregrounds is an obviously bizarre place to see a show, but this lineup is better suited to the setting and should alleviate the usual overhanging cloud of awkwardness. Mad Scientists return with a new drummer from more of a punk rock background, so expect more force and drive from this quirky, charming guitar solo factory. It's pretty much impossible to predict what Violent Squid will try to do on a given night, but that's more than I can say for most local bands and the results usually hit rather than miss. Silk Stocking playing a haunted house pretty much explains itself.
Strawberry Fields presents Terrorvision (Corner of Oak and Bonnie Brae in Denton) Tonight Strawberry Fields will be showing two "80's schlock" horror films, From Beyond and Brain Damage. Last night was the first time I've caught a show at Strawberry Fields and it was fucking terrific. A packed store, enthusiastic audience, and friendly staff made for the perfect night. And where else can you browse an "Encyclopedia Of Cop Killers" between bands? Woah. I don't know how often Strawberry Fields plans on doing this, but I wouldn't miss their next show.
Caribou | Born Ruffians (Palladium Loft) Have you ever seen Caribou live? I saw them over a year and a half ago with Junior Boys and Russian Futurists at a sparsely populated Hailey's (imagine the kind of crowd that show would draw these days) and it was a pretty incredible experience-- Dan Snaith's live drumming is worth the price of admission alone, and the fact that he has released an incredible new album this year just adds to the excitement of this show. With a seemingly perfect blend of Kraut rock, psychedelic pop and minimal ELM/IDM style electronica, Caribou has become one of my favorite bands to emerge this decade. And even though their albums have all been fantastic, the two live performances I've caught from the band have put their studio material to shame.
House of Dang One Year Anniversary Party and And/Or Gallery Show with Treewave performance: A big party for these two neighbors, featuring food and drinks and art and music and fun. Does that description sound dumb to you? Well it's my fault, because I don't have time to write much at this point. Anyway, this starts at 6 (at House of Dang), Tree Wave goes on at 830pm, and here is some info from And/Or on the art show, which will also feature the music of Travis Hallenbeck.
Figurines | Dappled Cities | Lifters (The Cavern) I haven't heard the most recent Figurines record, but I really enjoyed the Danish band's full length debut last year-- an exhilirating and well done dose of pop punk that pulls off the amazing feat of actually sounding original. Imagine that?
House On Swiss Halloween Show with Tah Dahs | Sydney Confirm | Laura Palmer | New Science Projects | The Freekout | Sticky Buns (3114 Swiss Avenue in Dallas) The latest edition in a series of house shows to take place in what essentially appears to be a storefront (although it does seem to double as someone's home). This indie pop/folk focused line up will be easy to swallow with two kegs and what is usually a large and pleasant crowd. $5 cover.
Burning Hotels | The Cut*Off | PPT | Black Tie Dynasty (Ridglea Theater) Before you get all confused about why we might be listing this show, I want to let you know that we're willing to mention things when they're for a good cause. The quality of sex education in America is laughably oxymoronic and nearly non-existent, especially in the South. This show benefits The SPEAK Project, which raises STD awareness with the 15-24 crowd. More info here.
Qui | Record Hop | Red Monroe | (Hailey's) Despite releasing a fairly disappointing full-length debut, I hear that seeing Qui live is the best evidence that David Yow is still the one of the great all-time frontmen. And for the record, Iggy Pop hasn't released a good album in decades. Record Hop continues to impress with the live previews of their anticipated second release and they will pair up beautifully with Qui. Red Monroe is somewhat of a departure from the rest of this lineup, and we'll have their review up soon.
The Melvins | Big Business (Granada) Big Business has a member of Karp, and I've wanted to catch them live ever since I heard about this duo's formation. They even exhibit some of the gorgeous simplicity of Karp's concise and minimal heaviness, but with a dash of Hair Metal vocalizing. The Melvins need no introduction or explanation other than along with Nirvana, they are pretty much the only two groups to gain notoriety when they did whose music has suffered the least from the effects of time.
Christian! Teenage Runaways | Lars Larsen/Douche (Strawberry Fields) C!TR disbanded over the summer when one of its founding members moved out of state. Sashenka Lopez is visiting her hometown this week and the group is having an impromptu reunion show to celebrate. Douche was great as usual at the last SHQ show the other night. It's nice to see that Strawberry Fields will step up and host a show like this in the wake of that beloved space. Not sure what Larsen has in store for his act.
Hentai Lacerator | Yatagarasu | Voyant | XathaX | Church Of The Apocalypse | Animal Forces/Lichen Sie (House of Tinnitus) I hate to mention it, but The Observer attempted to toss this Hentai Lacerator show in with their event previews and just ran a reprint of what their Houston New Times Counterpart, Houston Press said. The problem with that is that they incorrectly list the groups playing that night's show in Houston. Way to go. Do they not trust that their current staff could tackle the preview for this show? That's okay, neither do I. They also did a show preview for next week's Dr. Dog show and mention how their new album, "We All Belong" came out last month when it was actually released in February. The reason for this mishap is that they just reran a piece from Seattle weekly, The Stranger that is seven months old. I understand a corporate paper is going to reprint from their national talent pool, but can someone at least edit a reprint or throw it out if it isn't regionally accurate? I should lay off, they did finally notice that 1919 Hemphill exists...as it has for the last five years, but I guess someone can only mention it when a national act like Kimya Dawson plays there.
Anyways, this violently explosive Cincinnati headliner mixes various strains of extreme styles and they reminded me of the noise-infused work of Japanese group The Gerogerigegege or even a sloppier and more manic Charles Bronson. This show's openers will only add to the panicked fun of Hentai Lacerator, and I can personally vouch for that since I've seen most of them in one capacity or another. Huntsville's Yatagarasu is a frighteningly convincing one man setup with intricate bass playing, 8-bit electronics and screaming that impressed everyone at his show here last March. Voyant is the harsh/power electronics project that includes Electronik Warfare's Andrew Michael and ultimate multi-tasker Shane English. Church of The Apocalypse are a gear-heavy act with a twelve string bass and a method that revolves around repetition and doom riffs. Lichen Sie combines the talents of two known noise makers from Aunt's Analog and Dromez, and this will be an interesting duo since they are both so punishing just by themselves. XathaX uses a theremin, which you think would pop up more at noise shows, but I don't see them very often and I'm looking forward to it.
Vegan Soul Food Pot Luck with Kimya Dawson | Angelo Spencer | Jesse Gage | Sparlin, Jessels | Daniel Bass (715 Panhandle) K Records singer/songwriter and founding member of Moldy Peaches Kimya Dawson comes to Denton tonight with her husband Angelo Spencer as part of a small Texas tour. This thing gets started at 6pm with a vegan soul food pot luck and an early start time for the first set. If WSJR was runnin this folk shit, we'd serve ONLY meat at OUR pot luck. But thats probably one of the many reasons why we aren't runnin this folk shit.
Taxi Fare (Zubar) Nature keeps runnin this dancehall shit, and I'm hoping he'll play the Switch remix you can find on this Myspace page. Fucking addictive.
Film School | Red Monroe | Eulogies (The Cavern) Film School's sound seems to fall somewhere between Snow Patrol and Coldplay on one side and Catherine Wheel and Ride on the other. Lots of layers of reverb and nice melodies, etc., and all of it is pretty pleasant and well done, if more than a bit predictable at times. Openers Eulogies play that kind of music thats like, you know, that "indie rock" stuff? Yeah, I don't really know what to say about it either. It's not bad I suppose, but it's not very good either. Get it? And we WILL have that Red Monroe review very soon. Leave us alone, we're busy.
Peter and the Wolf | Matthew and the Arrogant Sea | Violent Squid (Rubber Gloves) Peter and the Wolf makes its 15th appearance in Denton in the past month. Violent Squid plays for what seems like the 15th time this month too, but guess what? Their shows are different every time, so it's always worth checking out. Dig?
BOTH OF THESE SHOWS WERE CANCELED, SO INSTEAD OF GOING TO THESE PLACES, WATCH THIS.
Dillinger Escape Plan | Genghis Tron | Behold The Arctopus (Curtain Club) Genghis Tron mixes electronics with hardcore and I remember them being pretty decent, but I definitely wouldn't want to have to go to this venue with this lineup to catch them. Dillinger Escape Plan has a solid live rep, but the vocals kind of ruin it for me. I thought they'd be playing Nokia by now. Just want to mention that those Relapse bands sure love their hoodies.
We have a pair of tickets to give away to the following three shows, so if you want them, simply email us at email@example.com by the deadlines given below (we will choose a random winner for each pair). Please include the name of the artist you want to see in the subject line. Good luck, and thanks to the Granada and the Loft for the hook ups:
1. The Melvins/Big Business (this Thursday at the Granada- email by TOMORROW at noon)
2. Man Man (this Friday at Palladium- email by Thursday at noon)
3. Caribou (this Saturday at Palladium- email us by Thursday at noon)
According to a post from Scott Porter on Denton Rock City, Secret Headquarters is being forced to shut their doors permanently, effective immediately, due to an act of vandalism that occurred late Saturday night. We have no details on who might have done it, but there was speculation that some of the materials used by the vandals came from SHQ itself. We'll give you more details when we get them, or maybe someone in the know can explain further in the comments. I'm not sure I understand exactly why the SHQ, as a tenant, is being blamed by their landlords for vandalism on the property, but I bet we'll find out soon enough.
WED: Kimya Dawson (715 Panhandle) WED: Peter and the Wolf/Matthew and the Arrogant Sea/Violent Squid (Rubber Gloves) THU: The Melvins/Big Business (Granada) THU: Hentai Lacerator/Yatagarasu/PDAF/Voyant/Xathax/Church of the Apocalypse (House of Tinnitus) FRI: Man Man (Palladium Loft) FRI: Modern Till Midnight with St. Vincent/Peter and the Wolf/Mom/Sober (Ft. Worth Modern) FRI: Thomas Function/Chronic Seizure/Party Garbage (715 Panhandle) SAT: Caribou/Born Ruffians (Palladium Loft) SUN: Qui/Record Hop/Red Monroe (Hailey's) SUN: Gogol Bordello/Dub Trio/DJ Dubta (Granada)
Very slow weekend as far as the number of quality shows, but there are some really good ones happening:
Carl Craig (Minc) I'm actually embarrassed that I forgot to add this to our "Shows of Note" list for the week, because Carl Craig's apparent Dallas debut (according to one flier I saw) is a pretty big deal in my book. After starting his career as a protege to the legendary Derrick May (and indirectly of Juan Atkins, both of Cybotron fame), Craig has become well known for the diversity of his musical endeavors and his many names, which he has used to create such a variety of electronic dance music that listing it all here would be pointless. The guy is a critical legend of the Detroit techno scene, and he is still creating cutting edge dance music today. This isn't just a "hey, check out this old legend to up your indie cred" show, this is a "hey, its friday, lets have fun" show.
Timbaland (Palladium) If you listen to Movin' 107.5 as much as I do, then you're probably well aware of the influence that Timbaland continues to have over urban top 40 radio. The funny part is that ten years ago, his profile was just about as high as it is today, making him the rare hip hop producer with the longevity to sustain a career for a decade and the talent to keep expanding his musical horizons. Of course, Timbaland has released some crap in his day, and will probably continue to do so, but I think you do have to admire his ability to take fairly strange songs and shoot them to the top of the charts. Lets put it this way: pretty much ANY Timbaland song is just as or more interesting sound-wise than pretty much ANY hit "indie" rock song (looking at you Feist). This show is free, and you can get your name on the "guest list" by rsvping at Scionevents.com
BIrth To Burial | Medicine Window /Douche (Secret Headquarters) Birth To Burial never played a proper "last show", so the sorely missed act gets their chance Saturday night at SHQ. The group's hiatus left a gap in quality local bands that wrote catchy, fast-paced rock songs that were devoid of cliched riffs and stupid lyrics. Another Denton-rooted rock act, Medicine Window, also seemed to disappear off the face off the earth around the same time. Medicine Window isn't as speedy in their delivery as Birth To Burial, but they share some of the same pummeling influences. No official word on whether these reunions continue past Saturday, as they often do. Douche is a newer band mining Chicago/DC hardcore territory a little more harshly than the reunion acts, and they're brilliant live.
Tech Support with Wanz Dover, Ineka and Robert Taylor (Zubar) They'll be focusing on a Berlin style mish mash of tech genres at this one, with what I'm guessing will be a focus on things like space disco, IDM and minimal. It will probably be the most contemporary elctro weekly in Dallas, so those who crave something new should be sure to swing by.
Dust Congress | Zanzibar Snails | Nouns Group (The Public Trust) A rare Dallas appearance for these three acts. This is the official CD release show for Denton band, Dust Congress. The EP is self released by the group with old school silkscreen packaging and a handful of concise yet layered somber folk-pop songs. Zanzibar Snails has strayed somewhat from its ambient beginnings and gotten noisier lately by adding viola and extra guitar to its improv noise drone sets. Not much is known about Nouns Group except that they have fans who often post about the band in the comments section even when they're not playing, and some have even made some really cool "fan art", inspired by the band. The Austin Chronicle says they're the only band in the Universe without a Myspace page. Sounds like somebody needs to grow up and get with the times!
Mark Farina (Ghostbar) San Francisco legend Mark Farina has been releasing House music records for almost twenty years and has been featured on countless compilations, so it might be tough getting into Ghostbar to catch his free show tonight. Sounds like it might be a Suite type of situation. He's playing another free all-ages show tomorrow in front of American Airlines Center at 5 if you aren't connected enough to get in. Hopefully, one doesn't have to be connected to get into the American Airlines Center parking lot.
The Itch (1919 Hemphill): I won't go so far as to say the Itch are as original as the description on their page would have you believe, but I thought some of the music was nicely choppy, performed with unabashed zeal, and will probably be good live.
Blackheart Society | The Foxes (Double Wide) Apparently Blackheart Society has had some lineup changes but it's yet to be seen (or heard) if this will drastically change them as a band. The Foxes are from England and their inoffensive and standard rock music sounds kind of like Canadian act, Sloan. This early show starts at 9:00.
I'm glad Ghosthustler finally got some press from Dallas' "alternative" weekly (a mere four months after Spin wrote about them, way to go guys!), but I'm not sure I understand what this article is supposed to be about. I've been able to gather: "blogs," "retro," "future," "80's," and something talking about how Radiohead isn't rock n roll. Someone want to explain this to me?
Lazy Magnet | Work-Death/Superior Human Vomit | Yellow Crystal Star | Doug Ferguson (House of Tinnitus) Those who might tend to be get a little scared whenever they think about going to a House of Tinnitus show might want to give Yellow Crystal Star's quietly mesmerizing instrumental pieces a chance. Their stuff is relatively formless, but the way everything seems to come together is far from random and quite stimulating. I haven't had much luck locating a lot of information on the other performers for the evening, but House of Tinnitus is one of the few places in DFW that is just like Motown once was-- whatever they've got, it's probably pretty cool.
Gito Gito Hustler (Secret Headquarters) This Japanese girl garage rock band would probably only seem "cutting edge" and "totally crazy" to a Dallas Observer music editor, but to their credit, they've been doing this stuff for more than ten years, and the small bit of material I've encountered from them certainly makes Gito Gito sound like a band that should be experienced in a live setting rather than on record. And that isn't an insult necessarily, just a fact.
Taxi Fare with DJ Nature (Zubar) Nature's dancehall reggae night is a great change of pace for Dallas electro fans and a hell of a lot of fun for anyone willing to give it a shot. As a bonus, watching hipsters try to move to dance hall is quite humorous, especially when they're doing it amongst people who actually DO know how to dance.
Adam Franklin | Pleasant Grove | Stumptone (the Cavern) Adam Franklin, former lead singer of Creation Records band Swervedriver brings a pleasant if rather subdued set of pop songs to the Cavern that really aren't half bad for the most part, as long as you don't mind the word "alternative" popping into your head during a set. I don't mind that every once in a while.
Astronautilus | PPT | A-B Theory (Doublewide) No, I'm not amazed that Astronautilus can take lyrical suggestions from the crowd and turn them into songs. It's called freestyle, and any MC worth talking about can do it and do it well. Thats not a criticism of Astronautilus either, but just a reality check for everyone that feels the need to tell me about it every time his name gets brought up. The guy seems to have a lot of fans around here though.
1. Mom - Little Brite 2. The Polyphonic Spree - Live from Austin, TX (DVD) 3. Red Monroe - ¡Policia! ¡Policia! 4. The Polyphonic Spree - Live from Austin, TX 5. Adam Pacione - From Stills to Motion
OVERALL TOP 20
1. Mom - Little Brite 2. Iron and Wine - The Shepherd's Dog 3. Soundtrack - The Darjeeling Limited 4. Akron/Family - Love is Simple 5. Bruce Springsteen - Magic 6. Tunng - Good Arrows 7. Kevin Drew - Spirit If... 8. Stars - In Our Bedroom After the War 9. The Polyphonic Spree - Live from Austin, TX 10. Flaming Lips - U.F.O.s at the Zoo 11. Calvin Harris - I Created Disco 12. Cloudland Canyon - Silver Tongued Sisyphus 13. Dirty Projectors - Rise Above 14. Devendra Banhart - Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon 15. Feist - Reminder 16. Ween - Friends EP 17. Bat for Lashes - Fur and Gold 18. Red Monroe - ¡Policia! ¡Policia! 19. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam 20. Shout Out Louds - Our Ill Wills
Matthew Dear | Mobius Band | Tree Wave (The Granada) Just about everything you need to know about Matthew Dear is covered by Stonedranger in his excellent interview with the man himself if you'll look below this post. Matthew Dear has been somewhat of a crossover act this decade, due to his charmingly minimal "Microhouse" records and his increasing tendency towards pop experimentalism. Treewave has continued to be great as a one-man act this year and I loved watching him baffle the crowd at a Voot Cha Index | Black Tie Dynasty show at Hailey's this past summer. He made an onstage announcement that his next set would feature (paraphrasing here) "reworked Christian music, and I'm not joking." We'll see if that's the case tonight. Mobius Band is affiliated with Matthew Dear's Ghostly International as well as highly regarded Austin, TX imprint, Misra. There are electronic touches blended in to their work, but it's a little more straight-forward rock music.
Naxat | MC Router | Cheap Dinosaurs | Red Rocket (1919 Hemphill) This is the debut show for Alex Atchley's Naxat project, which is melodramatic 8-bit metal. Continuing in that vein is touring act Cheap Dinosaurs, who's 8-bit sound is more pop oriented. MC Router plays with similar sounds but instead, raps over it. Red Rocket takes things a little more seriously, with electronics that don't sound as throwback and anguished vocals.
Jesu | Wolves In The Throne Room | USSA (Hailey's) With a pedigree that includes Napalm Death and Swans, Jesu doesn't exactly bring the ominous and heavy attack you would imagine. The music is dense, thick and dark, but it's much more atmospheric and melodic with whispery vocals to top it off. Wolves In The Throne Room might steal this show, with music that's not exactly all that heavy but with uncontrolled shrieking and screaming that will probably be awesome live. USSA is a real disappointment for Jesus Lizard fans, as if Tomahawk wasn't bad enough. Seems like Duane Denison can do no right since the band that made him famous disbanded. Let's just hope that Qui is as good as I heard they were live, later this month. I can tell you myself not to bother with their debut record, unfortunately. I blame the Mike Patton connection.
Great Lake Swimmers | Doug Burr (The Cavern) Local favorite Doug Burr is celebrating an album release as he opens for this acclaimed breezy pop act.
So far this year, it would be safe to say that Matthew Dear'sAsa Breedhas been one of the new records that I've listened to most. Combining influences that range from Talking Heads to New Order to Tropicalia to traditional Southern folk, it's a strange record to be sure, but one that over time reveals itself as an accessible and thoughtful selection of electronic pop songs. In anticipation of his show tonight with Mobius Bandand Treewaveat the Granada, we gave Matthew Dear a call so that we could talk to him about his new album, his various musical projects, and dance culture:
So I read that you grew up in Texas, is that right?
Yes I did, I grew up there until I was 16 and then I moved to Michigan.
San Antonio, just south of there actually. My dad lives in the Austin area now, and my mom is moving back to San Antonio, so I'm still very much a Texan.
Do you get to come back a lot?
Yeah, I try to come back once or twice a year to visit my father, and it's good to have a show there too, kind of kill two birds with one stone.
And I read that there is a song on your new album based on a true story about one of your ancestors being gunned down by a Texas Ranger?
Yeah, it's the last song on the album called "Vine to Vine." It's based on a story my dad told me about one of our relatives getting murdered by a Texas Ranger for their land. Back then, south Texas was pretty lawless.
So it was kind of more like a mafia hit than law enforcement?
Yeah, it sounds like it.
What made you want to write a song about that?
It's really one of the only songs I've ever written based on a story I've been told. It just kind of came to me, I just felt the need to put it down. It sounded like a great story, and I think I did it more for my family and my father than I did for myself. I already had a guitar loop that sounded like it would fit perfectly, and it just kind of work out naturally.
So the idea came together after you heard that guitar loop and put two and two together?
My mom had made a move from San Antonio to the Detroit area for a job when I was still in High School, and when I finished school, I went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor 40 miles west of Detroit, and around that time I met Sam Valenti who had an interest in starting a label and shared it with me, and we hit it off really well and became good friends, and about a year later he put out my first and Ghostly's first record in 1999, and we've been colleagues and really good friends ever since.
Do you play any role in the label these days?
Well its definitely Sam's thing, and although I interact with him from a musical standpoint, its his label for sure. If I find some people on the road that I really like, I can bring it to Sam and put in my two cents on what we should release, but it's definitely Sam's brainchild and he has the monetary investment and all that.
So what was the vision behind the label and what you guys were trying to do when you first started out?
Sam I think is still finding it, he's always finding it. He was an art history student so he's very much involved in the artistic end of things, not just sonically, but visually and the overall package that goes with it, which is always changing in his mind. In the beginning, we wanted it to be a dance music label, we wanted it to be a 12 inch DJ culture, but it quickly became more avant and different, and he wanted to cover all the aspects of what he thought electronic music should be. And what started off as my first 12 inch, a dance record, soon after was Tadd Mullinix's first record, which is more listening music or IDM as they were calling it back then. And from there the label just grew, and now we have bands like Skeletons, which is more like an art jazz band punk rock band and Spectral, which is still dance floor techno based.
I know you work under several different monikers, and I wonder if you could tell us a little about each one.
Yeah totally. Audion came about from my need to make really dance floor heavy techno, and at the time I was still doing dance music under my own name, but from that, I think I've evolved to where I want anything under my own name to be my eccentric experimental pop side, it's going to have words and be song based, and from now on, anything that's a dance record meant for the clubs is going to Audion. And False is a bit more subversive, dark, moody dance music.
Do you like working on one project more than the others, or is one more challenging?
No, definitely not, the good thing is that they represent different styles of living and working. This tour that we're doing under my own name right now is completely backwards from an Audion tour that I'd do in Europe. Right now we're at a rock club in Chapel Hill, NC, and dealing with rock venues, and singing and playing guitar and giving more of a performance set. And the crowd is totally different, they are more into standing and watching the show rather than dancing the night away at a club. In Europe, I play big festivals and big crowds that are more into techno and dancing and partying and I'm both of those people. I love going to a techno club late at night and dancing the night away, and I also love going to rock clubs and seeing my favorite bands play, so to choose one of those would be impossible, both of those characteristics are a part of my persona.
I find the differences between European and American audiences very interesting because electronic dance music is so much more a part of the mainstream culture there than it is here, and I wonder if you have any ideas on why that might be?There are many factors that contribute to that. Europe in general is a lot more relaxed about many things that give dance music more room to breathe. Closing times for clubs are more open, you can have 24 hour clubs there that stay open until whenever they want, the laws aren't cracking down on them, they serve alcohol until they close, there is not cut off time. So it's a much later lifestyle out there. Regular people don't go out to dinner until 9 or 10, and stay out to dinner until midnight, they have really long late social hours all over Europe, Spain, Germany, that's just normal over there. But over here, a lot of people go to sleep by that time, your average family. So that definitely lends itself to a later night life. When someone stays out 50% longer than someone that lives in that states, that just adds to this desire for dancing and techno clubs to be open that late. Also, drug laws are a lot more relaxed over there, you can get away with it a little more, obviously in places like Amsterdam, so there are many reasons that people over there can soak up techno music, and it's not thought of as a bad thing over there, whereas here, techno has a bad association with drug use and illegal raves, and warehouse parties, and it's kind of been shunned by mass media and people in general.
It's interesting because it's a chicken and egg argument-- maybe if "rave" culture had been allowed to exist in a more open and legitimate manner in the United States, then maybe it wouldn't have become associated with a lot of the darker things that you mention.
Totally, I think that's right.
Well in American underground culture, there has definitely been an intermingling between dance culture and underground rock/punk/post-punk culture over the past few years. Do you think this is a fad, or are we catching up to Europe in the sense that dance music will play a more prominent role in our culture?
I definitely think rock musicians are embracing it more. You have groups like LCD Soundsystem and things like that, and I think the "indie" scene is gaining a respect or an understanding of the importance of electronic music and the history of our whole musical library, and I think that is cool. I think people are noticing that it's not just a rhythm in a sweaty club, but that there can be a lot of musical genius involved in it, and that there can be creativity within the form, so in that sense I think it's great. You can never tell what is going to happen, it's always shifting and changing, but it would be great if it got a bit more of a foothold and more respect from the music community.
Switching gears, I guess the story I've read is that Asa Breed is your "pop" record, and I was wondering if that is what you set out to make, or if it just ended up being that way, or if you agree with that sentiment at all.
I like to call it experimental pop music, and by pop I mean melodic, and there is nothing wrong with melodic music. Some of my favorite bands are inherently pop musicians, whether it's New Order, Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, Talking Heads, Radiohead, it's all based on catchy melodies and songs. So in that sense, I say it is pop, but I didn't set out to make it that way, it's just what I've been doing since I was a kid, messing around with songs and guitars, and it's just been a matter of time since I've been able to put it out on record. I started off with electronic music, but I've always continued to work on this stuff on the side, and I thought it was time to put all this stuff out under my name.
Did you find it challenging to work with more traditional pop songs, or did it seem natural?
It was a very natural change for me, I've been working on this album for almost four years, and some of the songs had been sitting around for that long, so for me it wasn't drastic at all, this has been in the back of my head all the time. I didn't make a decision to try something new, this is, to me, just what I do.
Could you tell me what your stage set up has been on this tour?
With the band we have a laptop, which is kind of the brains or skeleton of the music, and we have a live bass player and a live drummer, and I've stripped down the tracks to accommodate the musicians on stage, so it's kind of a mix of computer software and live music, and I do vocals with a backup vocalists, and I also play guitar. I think it has enough to keep people interesting live, but it has enough of the original songs to remind people of the album.
So on this tour, you're mixing live bands and laptop stuff, and on the album, you're mixing your electro and rock influences. What kind of music inspired you first as a listener?
Oh everything. I mean, when I was 8, I got into my brother's dance music records, a lot of new wave and experimental electro that really turned me on. I knew I liked anything synthetic sounding, I was really into samples and stuff even though I didn't know what they were, I was grabbed by that kind of music. But of course I also like country and folk and rock music. I've always been into all of these styles, and this album, to me, reflects my love of all the different angles you can take with modern music.
So I wanted to ask you about living in Detroit, because obviously there is the huge history of electronic music there. Do you feel that spirit in the city there, or has a lot of it gone away?
Well I actually just moved to New York, to Brooklyn, three months ago, it's a good time right now because I don't have children, and my wife and I both wanted to move there. But you most definitely feel that spirit in Detroit, it's there in small numbers. The people there are holding on to the electronic scene, and they really respect Detroit and the history involved there, and they know the history. It's not too big of a scene, but you can definitely feel it when you're there, and it was a really good time to be there and feel it, and do what I could do to contribute.
Any new projects in the works?
Yeah, I've got 10 to 12 new songs for a new record under my own name, and I have some new Audion remixes on the way, and some new Audion stuff that will come out next year.