The Pistola Press

A Philadelphia music blog

Archive for September 2009

Phoenix and Chairlift at the Electric Factory 09/28/2009

Phoenix and Chairlift played to a sold out crowd last night at the Electric Factory. First up was Brooklyn’s Chairlift, who sound more intriguing live than they do on their record. Caroline Polachel, the lone female of the band, brought all the energy to their performance. French indie rockers Phoenix headlined the show and they absolutely killed it. Lead singer Thomas Mars jumped into the crowd during “1901” and  made his way through the crowd to the back of the venue. It was quite a feat getting through the packed crowd. Photos and setlists below.

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Written by Colin Kerrigan

September 29, 2009 at 7:54 pm

Toy Soldiers Interview

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Philadelphia’s Toy Soldiers are a unique bunch. Their music has a folky, bluesy style to it with a touch of soul. The live shows are one big celebration especially this past Saturday. The band celebrated the release of their debut album Whisper Down The Lane at The Fire. Toy Soldiers will play a handful of dates around the Philadelphia area. Ron Gallo, one of the founding members of the band, dropped by for a quick conversation.
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How did all of you come together? I know a few of you weren’t there in the beginning. How long did it take for you to become the band you are today?

The title Whisper Down the Lane is sort of symbolic of how this records and this band came to be, it was literally me seeking out friends who I had endless amounts of musical respect and trust in and just basically telling them, “come into the studio, take a listen, write parts, lay them down”.  Oddly enough it was my first time meeting some of the people in the band the day that they came into the studio. These people being Vinchelle Woods and Josiah Wise (the back-up singers).  The way I came to meet them and got them involved was through Kate Foust, who was hands down the first person that came to mind when it came to having singers.  I knew I wanted her voice all over this record and I knew she was a great writer so I asked her to do all of the backup vocal arrangements and choose her ensemble as well. Dan King was a long-time unofficial member of Toy Soldiers; our bands used to play together all the time and he would come up and take a solo on “Myself: Repeated”, so when album time came he was unquestionably the lead guitarist.  Pete Veloski, the trumpet player, had recorded on previous Toy Soldiers tracks and through both Pete and Dan we contacted Noah Skaroff to play sax.  Along with his great sax playing came this great sense of interest, enthusiasm and just downright brilliance that has made Noah a crucial member of this band.  Zach Poyatt who played the role of multi-instrumentalist on the album (mainly the keys) was a friend since sophomore year of college, our bands played together for years and I see zach as total musical genius, so he sort of pounded through every track somehow playing perfect parts in all of them.  The rest is practically history.  Garrett had always come to shows and was a great friend to all of us, he has such a vibrant personality and just brings large amounts of positivity to the table so she started banging on a tambourine, then got a baby drumset and washboard.  Tom Cladek replaced the original drummer around the time of finishing the record, he was recommended to us by a friend of Kate and Vinchelle from UArts.

Where’d the name, Toy Soldiers, come from? Did you have a fascination with the little green and green army guys?

The name toy soldiers came from a painting in the Philadelphia art museum.  There wasn’t anything particularly interesting about it but it caught my eye.  It was a painting of a kid holding some small toy soldiers and it was titled “Toy Soldiers.”  It had a ring to it so I remembered it as a good name for a band, especially a band that I didn’t think would one day become a serious thing, as we started off as a joke duo.  Then!… a few days later these two guys came into my work and told me I looked like the subject of this painting they saw at an exhibit recently, and it happened to be a different painting but it had the same title and also was a kid holding toy soldiers. The resemblance wasn’t present in the first one I saw but could see what they were saying in the second one.  For reference the painting is by Antonio Mancini.  Weird connections but that’s where it all came from.

What was the recording process like for the first record? Was it a collective writing process? Did anyone/group of people in particular help you guys out a lot?

The recording process was like a group efforted Jackson Pollock painting. Everyone came in and casted their strokes, freely and with grace.  The writing process has recently become more collaborative but for the record the songs were written in my room with a guitar or in the basement.  Sort of I would write a song, bring it to the band they’d learn it rework it and polish it then it was done.  The Fire (Derek Dorsey, Dan McShane and Dino Leonetti) made this record possible.  They lent us their space, Dino one of the sound guys there engineered and produced the record and they really made it all happen.

This past summer you spent about two weeks on the road. How was your guys first experience on the road? Anything crazy happen? I’ve heard a few stories…”jay” walking?

Our first road experience had to have been the best a first road experience could be.  It was a share of ups and downs but entirely a success.  We encountered amazing hospitality, which has probably spoiled us, great shows and responses and all around just a fun trip.  All of the downsides of the trip we’re like teases, they could have been potentially bad but we’re quickly and efficiently solved.  For example, Garrett got arrested in Lower East Side Manhattan two minutes before our set for illegally parallel parking his herd of rabid antelope (who happened to be minors) in a bus only lane.  They couldn’t tow them (obviously) so he spent a hot minute in a cell, missed the set that night, but magically appeared an hour later and went completely charge-free because of his charm and neighborliness and rubarbian team spirit.

What’s your favorite city that you played in?

I think collectively our favorite city was Burlington, VT.  Just wade through Lake Champlain and you’ll see what we mean.

Would you rather have an owl follow you around 24/7, that randomly dives and attacks you or to break your arm everyday, each day you break it a different time and way, at night it heals only for it to happen again..?

Hands down, be followed by the owl.  First because owls are vunderful goot, perdy creatures.  Secondly, I’m sure we could find a way to incorporate the “hoo’s” into a song. Thirdly, we could all use some wisdom at times.  And lastly and most importantly they will sleep the entire day away so attack would only happen at night, where due to their HUGE pinnas, if we happened to be playing the show the sound would be unbearable and we would keep them in their place with our music.

What are your plans for the next 6 months? I see that you have a good amount of shows coming up around Philly. Any plans to travel outside of the city?

The next six months will be a process of letting the album grow, just like any child.  We’re going to play as much as possible and try and weasel our way onto some really great shows.  Do Philly once or twice a month and try and spread outwards into the surrounding cities.  In January, we’re going to do a two week southern tour.  And when we return, a few of us will have graduated, so probably start working on album number two, and maintain a steady, constant growing pace because we can’t stop, won’t stop, can’t stop, won’t stop.

Listen to “When I Tripped Into You”

Written by Colin Kerrigan

September 28, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Sharon Van Etten Interview

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The first time I heard Sharon Van Etten‘s voice was on The Antlers‘ record Hospice. Her solo material displays her hauntingly, beautiful voice and folky guitar. She’s currently on tour with the Great Lake Swimmers and hits the road with Kyp Malone’s Rain Machine in a few weeks.

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Sharon Van Etten – Photo by Cat Stevens

What’s it like living in Brooklyn? It’s as if every new musician/band comes from there. I remember walking  into my friends apartment building in Bushwick and it seemed like there was different kinds of music coming from every which way.

New York is a crazy place.  Brooklyn is more affordable than Manhattan so there are more artists living in Brooklyn, for sure…There is so much to see and hear. I live in Bushwick, it’s a mix of neighborhood and industrial. It’s quiet, with a low hum. There are new neighbors every week.  New businesses popping up all the time. Art spaces and locally run restaurants and DIY performance rooms. Still exploring, still discovering. It’s a pretty exciting time right now.

Have you always lived there? If not, how did you end up there? Why did you decide to move to BK?

I am originally from NJ. I lived in TN for a bit, then moved back to NJ with my parents in my early 20s and saved up money to live in NY, which has been a dream of mine since I was a kid.  I have a couple friends who have lived in Brooklyn for years and they showed me different neighborhoods and introduced me to some of their favorte venues… and all of my favorite places seem to all be in Brooklyn.  It is affordabe, and there are lots of god venues – how could I NOT live there right now…

What was it like working with The Antlers on Hospice? Your part on ‘Thirteen‘ is beautiful. It fits so well with the album, it’s fantastic.

I feel really lucky to have been a part of it.  Peter (Silberman) is a genius. The first time I heard his voice, I thought “this is someone I want to know”. I only sang what belonged there.  He did all the writing. It IS a beautiful record. I am so proud of those guys!  They deserve all the praise in the world.

Would you rather get eaten by a grizzly bear or a great white shark? You no have chance… either way, you’re becoming dinner.

Which one would be wearing a hat?

Who influences you musically?

Everyone.  ha. I listen to a wide range of music… But the singers that have changed my life are Diane Cluck, Meg Baird, Vashti Bunyan, Jana Hunter, Jessica Larrabee (from She Keeps Bees), and Leah Hayes (from Scary Mansion)

Who or what inspires you while writing?

My friends and old lovers. People I get to connect with at shows. A rainy day. (I sound so cheesey!) but it’s true.

Do you dabble into any other types of art?

I paint sometimes. I draw terribly. I dabble in sewing. I like cutting hair. I play piano. I am a hobby person who never learns anything very well.

After you get done tour with Great Lake Swimmers, you’re heading out on tour with Kyp Malone/Rain Machine. How did you get hooked up with him?

I met Kyp in New York. I went to see Celebration play (who are amazing) and Kyp was opening for them at the time. He looked so familiar. I looked at the show bill again and realized I went to High School with his brother and introduced myself. His brother was a huge influence on me musically in high school. After that, he took me under his wing. We have played a couple shows together, but this is our first tour. I am so excited. His new songs are so good. I can’t wait to play with them every night!

What are your plans for when you get done touring?

I am hoping to settle back in at home and write and prepare my self to record a new album.  We will see, though. I tend to get distracted…

Written by Colin Kerrigan

September 27, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Sufjan Stevens at Johnny Brendas 09/22/2009

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Sufjan Stevens played his second of two sold out shows at Philadelphia’s Johnny Brendas last night. The performance was phenomenal. It truly was a magical moment witnessed by the some 300 people in attendance. The rest of the tour is completely sold out and has been for a while now. No tickets were mailed out, everyone who bought tickets had to pick them up at will call. For those of you who have tickets, get ready for a fantastic evening and for those of you who don’t….maybe next time.

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Written by Colin Kerrigan

September 23, 2009 at 1:27 pm

The Walkmen Interview

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The Walkmen just started their headlining tour with Here We Go Magic. They had a killer year so far with more to come. They a make in stop at the TLA in Philadelphia tomorrow and tickets are still available. Go check them out. What else are you going to do on a Wednesday night? Matt Barrick, The Walkmen‘s drummer, dropped by The Pistola Press to answer a few questions.

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The Walkmen – Photo by Nick Ray McCann

The first time I ever heard of The Walkmen, I was like in 7th grade and I saw Saturn car commercial that featured “We’ve Been Had”.  I remember I memorized a few lyrics and looked it up on the computer. That was right when you guys were getting started. How did the commercial come about? How’d they find your music?

We’re not sure how it that works but someone who worked on the ad approached us about using that song. It was quite unexpected.

What was it like working with Chris Zane on You & Me? Was it different compared to your previous records?

We randomly ended up working with Chris Zane because he works at the studio affiliated with the label that put out You & Me, Gigantic, and we were very pleasantly surprised. In the past, it has always been a struggle in the studio getting things to sound how we want them and with Zane, he was able to do this very quickly. He’s very good at capturing how we sound playing live which is more difficult than it would seem.

How do you go about incorporating horns into your songs? They’re in a few tracks on You & Me. Do you write the songs with the horns in mind?

Paul (Maroon) took up the trumpet a few years ago and started adding them to our eight track recordings. The parts became more involved along the way and he had to get Pro Tools just to have enough tracks for the parts. In the studio, we generally get professional horn players to play the parts, though sometimes Paul does them.

It’s been a little over a year since You & Me’s release. Have you guys started to work on anything new?

We just finished another session with Chris Zane in which we recorded thirteen new songs and we are working on writing some more since they all probably won’t make it on the record. so things are moving faster than they ever have.

A lot of great new music came out so far in 2009, are there any artists/albums that have really caught your attention?

We are big fans of Thee Oh Sees.

You’ve had the opportunity to play in large arenas with Kings Of Leon and headline smaller venues like the TLA and 930 Club What kind of tour do you like more? The small intimate venues or the 20,000-seat arena?

We enjoy playing smaller venues for fans of our music, rather than arenas where people could care less, though we did enjoy playing at the Spectrum in Philly.

Imagine life on Earth was no longer inhabitable; the air became toxic. Would you rather live in a bubble under the sea or on a space station?

Bubble

If you could be any cartoon character, who would you be?

Foghorn Leghorn

Last record you bought:

Thee Oh Sees, Hounds Of Foggy Notion

Last drink you had:

Root beer

Last musical instrument you bought/acquired:

Washboard

Last good advice someone gave you

Get in the left lane (driving in Ireland)

Last time you felt like a kid again

Yesterday

What’s one song you wish you wrote?

Moon River

Written by Colin Kerrigan

September 22, 2009 at 7:49 pm

TV On The Radio Interview

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TV On The Radio announced just a few weeks ago that they’re taking a year long break so they can take rest from it all (first reported by MTV). A hiatus that the band earned after the year they had following the release of Dear Science. Gerard Smith(keyboards/bass) dropped by back in June to talk about a variety of things from his art history background, his thoughts on band members who act as the producer, and what he’ll be up to during the band’s hiatus.

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Colin: Hey what’s going on?

Gerard: I’m now looking at a rolling hill landscape which I don’t know what people mean by rolling. A series of hills that are laid out before you?

Colin: Maybe it’s never ending…

Gerard: Yeah, wouldn’t that constitute for some kind of strip or wouldn’t it have a different now.. I don’t know.

(Both laugh)

Gerard: Uh, oh, here comes the Home Depot truck.

Colin: Watch out.

Gerard: How you doing man?

Colin: I’m doing pretty well, just hanging out. Enjoying the nice weather.

Gerard: It’s fucking raining here dude. What are you talking about?

Colin: (laughs) Where are you?

Gerard: I’m soaked (laughs). I’m in Sunsbury, Canada.

Colin: Oh, geez. We’re in different countries right now . What are you doing up there?

Gerard: It’s a travel day so we just stopped off here so the driver can rest. Then we’ll make the rest of our way over to Toronto.

Colin: Very cool. I heard Toronto is a cool city, I’ve never been there. I’ve been to Montreal.

Gerard: Yeah, Toronto’s alright. I like it cause they got wicked good West Indian food.

Colin: I’ll have to keep that in mind whenever I make a trip up there. Alright, so how did you guys get involved with The Roots Picnic. That line up’s pretty killer. I mean The Black Keys, Santigold, The Roots, of course, and you guys.

Gerard: Is it SantAgold or SantIgold?

Colin: I think it’s SantIgold. It was SantOgold at one point, I think.

Gerard: Yeah, uhh, The (Black) Keys are gonna be there, really?

Colin: Yeah.

Gerard: Wow, I didn’t know… Well, I know  Jaleel (Bunton), our drummer, always been really active musically. And on top of being active musically he used to bartend at a relatively popular New York bar called Max Fish.

Colin: I’ve heard of that actually. A friend of mine told me a story where he threw up on a famous actor’s shoes the other night. It was pretty funny.

Gerard: Yeah, that’s usually the case.

Colin: I forget the actor’s name (Josh Hartnett) but my friend was pretty proud of himself.

Gerard: I never really went to bars much but I guess that’s kinda the place, a lot of people go there, you know?

Colin: Yeah, I heard it was pretty run down at one point and now it’s making it’s way up.

Gerard: No, well I think…

Colin: Maybe the area was..

Gerard:Yeah, the area was definitely fucking questionable for a good long while. It’s probably no worse than a lot of other places.

Colin: I mean I’m in North Philadelphia and that’s pretty bad.

Gerard: Yeah, no worse than Winnipeg, fucking Canada. Holy shit dude. I thought I was going to get stabbed in the dollar store.

Colin: (laughs) You gotta watch out for that.

Gerard: (laughs) Depending on what you consider a party, I suppose, yeah. So you’re in Philly? That’s a rough town too.

Colin: Yeah, definitely. I go to Temple University, not sure if you ever heard of it. It’s in a rough neighborhood so I have to watch myself sometimes.

Gerard: Yeah, man. That’s the way it was in New York for a while. I went to school at Pratt(Institute) for a little while and man, that place is fucking shady. You know, like buying drugs or buying weed through a wall.

Colin: Through a wall?

Gerard: (laughs) Yeah. You know, you go in and knock on the wall.

Colin: I’ve never experienced that one before. I’ve had some shady encounters.

Gerard: You go into the bodega. Have you ever seen that movie Half Baked?

Colin: (laughs) Yeah.

Gerard: You know that scene where he talks about buying weed?

Colin: Yeah, yeah.

Gerard: And he has to pull his pants down. It was like that.

Colin: (laughs) That’s hilarious but scary at the same time. So you guys are hitting up Bonnaroo as well. Are you excited for that?

Gerard: Yeah, it’ll be interesting. I’m a lot less attentive than I used to be. I have to, unfortunately, inform you. It’s like, “I don’t know. Cause I’m in another spot or something” I’m becoming real absentminded all of a sudden. I left my bag in a really weird spot in a venue and couldn’t find it. I haven’t really been keeping track of..like I used to be really, really, really attentive of where we were in a tour, like how many dates in we had and how days off we had and all that. Now they’re kind of just like.. rolls off my shoulder now. Yeah, I don’t know. I mean it’s always nice playing the festivals but it’s a little bit stressful too, you know?

Colin: Yeah, it’s probably hectic at some points.

Gerard: Everything is super last minute and stuff. It’s like the battle for food. You’re like, “Oh man,” cause if you’re at a festival, you’re nowhere near a place where you could just walk  to, grab some food. Then you’re like, “Geez, do I have enough food to survive? How many meal tickets do we got? Am I going to miss a meal?”

Colin: This is going to be my first time down at Bonnaroo so I’m preparing myself for some craziness.

Gerard: For spectators, that’s totally like the benefit of it, you know? If you’ve been at on the road and you’re getting all groggy and crossed and stuff. You’re like, “Oh man, am I going to make it through this thing?”

Colin: How many days are left…

Gerard: (laughs) Yeah. Well, no. It’s like I said you’re just kind of in the middle of nowhere. Everyday you at least hop on either catching a shower or getting meals in you.

Colin: Meals are important, gotta keep your mind straight. So David (Sitek) produces all your albums. Do you find it beneficial to have him as your producer? Instead of an outside source for the producer role.

Gerard: Well, yeah. I mean cause he’s one of the two founding members of the band. A lot of people sorta overlook that fact. It’s funny like the ‘facts’.. I get a little bit nerdy.  Cause I took a couple of art history classes so I fancy myself to be a little bit of a fake historian.

Colin: (Laughs) It’s cool. You could fool me. I’m not too up to date on my art history.

Gerard: Oh, man. You gotta work on that. So I feel like you kinda got to understand someone’s roots and stuff like that. I was talking with a friend about (Henri de) Toulouse-Lautrec the other day, right? Toulouse-Lautrec from what I recall and what I gather is his parents were first cousins. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a picture of Toulouse-Lautrec but I hope maybe you’ll go look one up after this little conversation. Very short man, that’s a result obviously of his parents being first cousins and what not. But you know I think that was the slight that nature gave his folks for being first cousins. So Lautrec always renders but he’s a great painter. I always looks at the way he paints. The way he painted things was just like… he painted big people so grotesque because he was in this world of like grotesque people. He was this little guy and stuff.

Gerard: So how this connects to the TV On The Radio. I’m saying you know, it’s always nice to know that , like if somebody’s  gonna like report on something or look into something, you figure that cause you this is not Boston. You know, Brian Wilson was the producer for the Beach Boys..

Colin: Yeah and Jimmy Page produced every single one of Led Zeppelin’s albums too.

Gerard: Every fucking Led Zeppelin record and little did I know that he wrote most of the lyrics. The guy’s a genius, one of the greatest. Yet another instance, you got Johnny Marr in the studio. They would do basic tracking then he was the one sitting there doing all the auxiliary tracking after that, you know?

Colin: It’s impressive to see a band member take that role.

Gerard: I totally freaked out when I met that dude. I was like, “Oh my goddd…it’s Johnny Marr

(Both laugh)

Gerard: Think of having to deal with Morrisey and having to overcome, just all the dynamics of having to be in a relationship cause that’s what being in a band is. You know, being in this relationship and having to carry on working after the fact. It’s a lot to ask. That’s a lot to deal with. But I think it’s important, it’s pivotal. Just like the way people are interested in knowing where there food comes from and like how it’s grown and what not. I think the same should be set for people’s artwork and the art that they feed off of.

Oh, for instance, I have another example. Kim Deal, she produced The Breeders first record, Pod. I’m pretty sure because I think I was looking at the liner notes the other day. Check me on that and then you can call me out if I’m totally wrong(laughs). She was the producer on that record and I was just like, “Wow!” And I think  of like her having that involvement in the record that I guess at some point, Kurt Cobain said it was one of his favorite records ever and stuff. He took them out on the road with them. I think it’s just a great record. I think it’s important for artists to stay close to their materials. I mean when you think back to like Rembrandt and them. These people had to crush their own paints and pigments to make the oils, you know?

That was just what was available back then. It’s like certain conventions or certain points in technology development allow people a certain grasp of what it is they’re doing. I think more and more, that would stereotype of big time record deal and the big time record producer and stuff. It just seems like a random thing to me. I always imagine people just, you work on your music then you went and recorded it. I think if anything artists should be faulted for having playing a role or not. It’s like that constant thing, which I’m guilty of as well. You know, you go to get your car fixed and people are  always saying, “Oh, I’m always getting ripped off by my mechanic” You know?

Colin: Yeah, just do it yourself.

Gerard: Yeah, but I think that privilege and ability has been sorta taken away from people, you know? So yeah, I think it’s totally important.

Colin: Definitely especially having your own member. They know exact what you guys are going for.

Gerard: Yeah! Also when I first met Dave cause you know I joined the band well after it had been established. Dave has always been experimenting with sound and he had a real philosophy. He had philosophy and an idea of how he wants to approach music making. To have someone else’s philosophy to be apart of what it is you’re making, if it jodds well like Flaming Lips for instance. Like Soft Bulletin, that record works amazing. And I really appreciate Dave Fridman’s role, it’s like amazing. And Steve Albini even more so because he tries not to really put that sort of like, he doesn’t have a suggestive hand so much in his production style.

Colin: Cool. So  your album has been out for quite a while now. What was the recording like throughout the whole process? The album turned out great and other publications thought so as well, they thought it was amazing. Was the recording process different than previous recording sessions?

Gerard: No, it was the usual grueling, crazy, madness you know? (laughs) We just get in there and get it done…

Colin: Does Dave have his own recording studio or did you guys go to a different studio?

Gerard: Dave had his own studio at the time, like an old studio in Brooklyn. It was right next door to the studio actually that Dave started working at Headgear, which is where most of Desperate Youth, (Blood Thirsty Babes) and part of (Return to) Cookie Mountain had been recorded and engineered in.

If anything’s different or something that I could point out is like this time, it was more of a collaborative effort on two songs in particular, which would be ‘Dancing Choose’, Dave had some beats already set up. You know he laid out the basis of that song and he appreciated it and he worked on top of it and that became ‘Dancing Choose’. And Taleel recorded most of the instrumentation for ‘Crying’ before we really tucked into the studio properly. We all had brought in things we were working on and we kind of put it all together. I guess if anything we brought what experience we have accrued throughout our time working together. And we have this record to show for it, you know? I mean it’s definitely a lot more organized, I feel like. Although, it was a pretty rigorous schedule. I feel like we’re definitely taking advantage of the fact that we’ve been a band together and really have a better understanding now of where it is we sit with eachother; in terms of who’s playing what role and who’s doing this role. I always take a backseat and I wasn’t there for the mixing, I wanted to stay back in New York and just start working towards the live show. Cause I knew I would be playing a lot more keyboards so I started working on that and stuff like that. All those guys went out to LA and worked on the mix. So I guess that was a bit different as well for us to go outside of New York.

Colin: Going away from your home base to LA, which is pretty different from New York.

Gerard: (laughs) Very different, yes. That’s the other thing, I’m a little scared of LA.

Colin: You’re not the first person I heard say that.

Gerard: (laughs) Yeah but it’s a wonderful place and that’s where the record got done….did.

Colin: Who wrote the string and horn section on Dear Science? Did you guys have a part in the writing process?

Gerard: Yeah, it was sort of a mish mash. I don’t know if anyone sat down and wrote lead sheets, that you give to the string players and what not. Usually it’s base around the basic chords of a song. . Take whatever key, whatever chords, and take individually notes out of those chords and build your string section to accompany whatevers happening at the time. I’m sure the string players themselves, this woman Janice and two of her friends must have sat down and done a bit of their homework and stuff like that, listening to things. So I know Taleel played bit of a role, I know Kyp(Malone) did quite a bit of ranging on the end bit of ‘Lover’s Day’ for instance. And I know, I’m pretty sure Stewart Bogey might of helped a bit. He’s one of the instrumentalists and one of the horn players. He’s been touring with us of late as well.

Colin: That’s awesome, it’s very cool. I love that aspect of the album. A lot of bands try to incorporate strings and stuff nowadays and sometimes people don’t pull it off.

Gerard: Yeah, I was worried about that actually. I had the same thing, you know? It’s like that classic indie rock band adds a cello player into the situation.

Colin: Have you ever heard of Ra Ra Riot? They’re one band that incorporate the strings really well.

Gerard: I’ve heard of them a little but I’ll try to look into them. I know 33 has done that as well. I think with a good bit of success. I know once again Flamings Lips has done it properly. Even though, I think a lot of the time they’re synth-strings but even just that notion. Who else? Oh and Neutral Milk Hotel the use of the horn in Neutral Milk Hotel, I feel is almost pivotal. I feel like it would an entirely different record without horns.

Colin: That’s pretty cool how something that’s not a traditional rock instrument, if you want to call it that, could have such a big difference on an album.

Gerard: Yeah, it really is. And at times that horn doesn’t sound like one, it’s so distorted. It’s kind of totally, totally amazing. I really, really appreciate it.

Colin: So I always ask a random question to the artist. Would you rather get pecked to death by vultures or devoured by piranhas? Either way, you’re going down and have no chance.

Gerard: What got me there? That’s what I want to know.  (laughs)

Colin: Umm, let’s just say you were wandering around, the vultures came out of nowhere and there was a pond filled with piranhas. You had to pick one- either jump in the pond or get attacked by the vultures..

Gerard: (laughs) Uhhh, you know what, even though I don’t wanna. I’ll say the piranhas because hopefully I would drown to death.

Colin: (laughs) Ok, good answer.

Gerard: The vultures…I don’t know.

Colin: They would peck you alive. So what’s your favorite thing to do with the band beside play music?

Gerard: Uhh, I don’t know just like whenever we’re like hanging out, everyone has got great stuff to say. So I’m really stoked about everyone’s input on things. You know? That’s definitely the saving grace of being apart of this. Everyone’s like relatively good humor cause I know it can really be, it can be very different. It can be difficult in band situations like relationships. You’re in this relationship and that can be really, really difficult.

Colin: It’s good to see bands with a good relationship and friendship. You don’t want to see a band on stage that don’t like each other but they play music because they have to or you know what I mean?

Gerard: Yeah, I feel like that happens quite a bit. I’ve witnessed that at one point. We went out on this tour and like the first night of this tour, this band started screaming and freaking out, where the tour manager had to… umm…

Colin: Intervene?

Gerard: Yeah, and like turn this music up really loud. And I was like, “Oh, man, that’s a total bummer. You guys don’t need to be doing that,” You know?

Colin: Right. They act like children where their tour manager is their parent, getting in the middle.

Gerard: Yeah,  that’s the thing, again that’s the dynamic of the relationship. I have a friend who has one of my favorite quotes. It is “The only that gets in the way of the music is impatience.” I just that quote to death. Because it’s just we’re all working towards something but you know, everyone tends to wanna get their own way. You want to have your voice be heard, it’s tough. It’s difficult at times to be like, “Oh, ok..well, you have to give up on it,” you have to let go of a lot of things to like progress or to have a successful collaboration you have to be like, “ Oh, ok..well you’re going to get this and maybe I’ll get that down the road or you know, I’ll get this and you kind of just take this thing” You know?

Colin: Yeah, definitely. So what are your guys for when after you get done touring in August? And in 2010?

Gerard: Per usual, I have not a clue. I’m gonna try and figure out how to have a little bit of a routine schedule. And try and be able to either taking my son, drop him off to day care and I might take some piano lessons. I want to just to embrace..uhh.

Colin: A normal life, in a sense.

Gerard: Yeah, trying to get back what little bit of life I can and appreciate that. That’s always the catch 22 or the snag of…you know? You have to give up somethings for yourself.

Colin:Right, make some sacrifices..

Gerard: Yeah, as much as I’ve enjoyed talking with you, I would have loved to been at a movie right now.

Colin: (laughs) Well, I appreciate you talking to me.

Gerard: And like you know, all the other things. I’m just trying to be a little more serious about my craft, I think, for me, personally. I’m just trying enhance some of it, take some piano lessons, play a lot more and work on new stuff.

Colin: That’s awesome though. You only get better by playing more, progressing and new ideas will come and such.

Gerard: Yeah, hopefully. That or I’ll turn into Yes or somebody.  I’ll have my own jazz odyssey(laughs).

Written by Colin Kerrigan

September 21, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Incubus Interview

with 4 comments

Chris Kilmore of Incubus stopped by before their show at the Festival Pier in Philadelphia last August. He’s one of the most down to earth people I’ve ever spoken to. Incubus just finished up their Monuments And Melodies Greatest Hits tour but that doesn’t mean it’s the end. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more from them in 2010. It’s just a feeling..

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Colin: So do you guys feel like old men now that you have a greatest hits out?

Chris: (Laughs) Yes, that’s a great way to explain it per se (laughs). Yeah man, you know, when they said were gonna do a greatest hits albums, I was like, “Oh no, this is the end. Are we old? Are we going to face reality here? (laughs) You know, I threw it around a little bit and thought real hard about it then the thought came to me or the memory came to me, I should say, about how many bands I got turned onto by their greatest hits album. And I sorta say, “Well, you know, that’s actually pretty cool. Hopefully this album turns on a bunch of new people.” I sorta wrapped my head around it and we put this thing out and now it’s out and I’m like, “This is an awesome album”. It’s a pretty sweet album.

Colin: Yeah, definitely, with the B-sides especially for the new people getting to your music. It shows your diversity, you know?

Chris: Yeah, it definitely shows our diversity and our growth and hopefully it shows you what direction we’re moving in and have been moving in. That’s just the revolution of the music, you know?

Colin: Right, definitely. What was rehearsal like for tour?

Chris: It was a lot different than most of the times we get ready for tour. We practice for like two weeks then breakout. Everything we need to learn, we learn like during soundcheck or something like that. This time, you know, it’s been so long since we’ve toured everybody had to start listening to the music a little earlier and get familiar in their own time before we got together. We got together, I would say, two months before we started the tour, maybe a month a half but that’s a long time for us. Jose had been taking drum lesions, I’ve been taking key lessons, Mike was at Harvard studying music theory and some science. Everybody was excited to see eachother and already knew everything. I think Jose was probably the most prepared. He came in knowing every single song in our arsenal. That’s like some 86 songs or something like that, he could play every single one of them (laughs).

Colin: That’s awesome (laughs).

Chris: Yeah, so we were prepared and we got two weeks through rehearsal and we’re like, “Wow, maybe we should have always started rehearsal this early.”(laughs) But you know, we had a good time just jamming out on new ideas and things like that. This tour has been awesome. You know I mean, my perspective is jaded, obviously, because I’m up on stage and I’m in the band and playing with these guys. But I think we’re playing better than we’ve ever played before.

Colin: Yeah, I saw you guys at Radio City(Music Hall) the other night and you guys were really tight. It was sick.

Chris: Oh, thanks man. Which night did you see?

Colin: I actually went to both nights(laughs).

Chris: Oh, sweet.

Colin: Yeah, yeah. The first night I was really close, I actually had a front row ticket through your presale. And then the next night, I was a little farther back but it was still awesome. I loved it especially in that environment.

Chris: Thanks man.

Colin: So comparing setlists from this tour and your previous tour in 2007, they’re a little bit longer. Did Mike’s hand play a role in the lengths of the sets at all?

Chris: You know, probably. Like I know for a while he had problems with his hand and he was always icing it after the show and things like that. 2007 for sure, he was definitely having a lot of problems with it. I think the break helped him out a lot and we sort of just put a setlist together that we thought would be good without thinking of how long we were playing. When we finally played the set a few times then we were like, I think we were getting ready to play LA, Los Angeles, and we were like, “Lets pull up an old set list to see what we played last time we played.” And we looked at it and it was so short compared to what we were playing. We were like, “Whoa!”(laughs) We didn’t even know that. So it’s cool. We play, I guess, an hour and 50 minutes, just under two hours with the encore and everything. Everybody in the band thinks about an hour and half is a good time. After that, people start losing attention and things like that. For me, I see it both ways. I can be at a concert where a band plays three hours if I’m having a good time. Time will just fly by but if it’s something that I’ve seen a bunch of times or if I’m not really feeling part of it, then three hours can be grueling (laughs). So we try to keep about an hour and half. We jam and we play a lot of music and we have fun so that tacks a good 20 minutes onto it.

Colin: Up on stage you have a bunch of instruments. Which one is your favorite to play at the moment?

Chris: Oh man. I don’t know if I can tell you that. That’s like pick which is your favorite kid.

(Both laugh)

Chris: The Rhodes is probably my go to instrument, the Fender Rhodes. Nothing beats the turntables and scratchin’, that’s my love. Nothing beats that but the Moog and all the pedals I have, I just like making weird sounds. So I got all the instruments hooked up to all kinds of crazy pedals. Just off the top of my head, I would say the Fender Rhodes. It can sound real crazy, I can get it to sound like a distortion guitar, I can make it sound like a weird spaceship or I can make it sound like an old vintage keyboard. Real pretty and a little platonic pitch just ringing out. It’s just a beautiful instrument.

Colin: Definitely, very cool. I noticed that you guys are playing a new version of “Dig.” How did that come about?

Chris: Well, “Dig” is probably one of the hardest songs we’ve ever wrote in the studio. We wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote it. All of our songs sorta kind of just flow and they just come out. It’s real obvious how they should go, “Dig” was the exact opposite of that. We kept struggling with it and struggling with it and it just took us a while. We banged it out in the studio and it was in a range that was really hard for Brandon to sing. It’s two different things singing in the studio and singing on the road, two totally different things. It’s like playing an athletic sport. Like running a marathon in Denver opposed to Los Angeles, you know what I mean? When you get up in altitude things become a lot harder (laughs). You know so when we actually got that one down and put it on the record and started playing it live, it became a different thing. It sort of fell out of our setlist because it was a real difficult song to make it sound good live. We didn’t want to abandon it so this time around we thought about.. we dropped it, I don’t know if it’s dropped a whole step, it might even be a step and a half, I’m not quite sure. But we dropped it down, just parts of it and parts we put back in the original key and we just messed it up. I think it sounds cooler then it does on the record.

Colin: I thought it was great.

Chris: Yeah, everybody’s real stoked on playing it and it just breaths new life into that song, you know? That’s what you need after you play these songs for thousands and thousands of times. You gotta make them fresh and creative.

Colin: Yeah, definitely. Another thing I noticed at Radio City is that your dreads are getting pretty long. How long have them been in the making?

Chris: (laughs) Oh man. I haven’t had a hair cut since ’95.

Colin: Holy shit.

Chris: Yeah, I think I started locking my hair in ’96 so I mean it’s been a long time. Most people’s hair just stops growing at a certain length. My shit keeps going….

(Both laugh)

Chris: Who knows if it’s going to stop.

Colin: Hey, that’s cool.

Chris: I think I don’t cut it just to see how long it’s gonna go. It’s so long it’s gets in the way for a lot of things. I can’t even tie my shoes. I bend down to tie my shoes without tying my hair.

Colin: Maybe you’ll get a Guinness Book Of World Records some day…

Chris: Oh, I don’t know man. Some of those guys got dreads that drag on the ground.

Colin: (laughs) Definitely. How’s Jose (Pasillas) managing being a father and a rockstar at the same time?

Chris: You know, I think he’s doing a good job at it. He really misses his kid, it’s obvious. I got a dog for the first time and I left it home and I miss her. I can’t even imagine if I had a kid. So he misses her a lot but at the same time, he’s doing what he loves to do. So it’s a weird, weird dichotomy there. You want to be home with your kid but you want to be playing music and doing what you love but he’s handling it well. He said the other day, he couldn’t look at pictures sometimes. He can’t look at pictures because he gets all teared up (laughs). He’s like, “I can only look at pictures at certain times.”

Colin: (laughs) Very cool. This may sound kind of strange but whenever I interview an artist, I always ask a random question. So um..

Chris: Ok.

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Colin: Imagine yourself in a real life Jurassic Park. Would you rather get eaten by a T Rex or a velociraptor? You have no chance of getting away.

Chris: Oh, velociraptor for sure. No doubt.

Colin: No doubt?

Chris: Yeah cause they’re smarter and run in packs, you know. I think I could outsmart a T Rex (laughs).

Colin: Oh yeah?

Chris: But velociraptor is a little smarter animal, smaller, alittle faster. From what I know it’s a little more aggressive (laughs).

Colin: (laughs) Nice. While you guys were on hiatus, did you have a chance to check out any live shows or anything like that?

Chris: Yeah, you know I’m always checking out live shows and it’s always something random. I’m never really looking for shows to go see. It’s worth of mouth kind of thing comes by. So I always check shows out but it’s just random. I guess one of the groups I like to see live is The Roots. They’re one of my favorite hip-hop bands…

Colin: Didn’t you guys just play with them on (Jimmy) Fallon?

Chris: Yeah, we played with them. It was pretty sweet. Ben (Kenney), he used to be in the band. So when Ben got in the band, I sorta stopped bumpin’ all my Roots albums in the back lounge cause I didn’t want to weird him out.

(Both laugh)

Chris: But then he started bumpin’ them so I was like, “Alright, cool. We’re cool.” (laughs) Yeah, so I try to check them out, anytime they play. They got a full schedule these days. I live in the mountains in Los Angeles and I’m a hermit. I stay locked up in the mountains a lot. Sometimes I go through long stretches without seeing or hearing new music.

Colin: (laughs) Cool. Do you and the rest of the band have preshow rituals that you go through?

Chris: Not really. I just try to stay as relaxed as possible and not have a ritual. Cause then if I break the ritual for some reason then it might weird me out a little bit (laughs)

Colin: (laughs) Right…

Chris: So I’ve always been like that . Brandon (Boyd) warms up, he’s got to warm up a little before the show. Right before we go on we do this thing called the ‘claw’ where it’s just basically we all just put our hands in the middle and you know, say, ‘Have a good show’ and that’s about it. (laughs) Nothing special.

Colin: So what’s Incubus’ plan for when you’re done touring? I know Mike’s heading to Harvard.

Chris: Yeah, he’s gonna go back to school this fall. My plans I’ll probably get a little more serious into playing keys. I took a lot of lessons in the last year and it’s not really now until I sort of stepped away from them and started doing what I do with the band that I realized how much they actually helped me. And how proficient I’m getting at those things. I’m just planning to surround myself with these keyboard cats and a bunch of DJs. Try to mesh those two worlds together. I think being a DJ turning into a keyboard player or being a DJ turning into any other kind of musician, I think you have a little bit different perspective on the music. As opposed to being like trained or self taught in something. Where people can actually teach you, you can go take guitar lessons , you can go take piano lessons, you can study the history of guitar and things like that. Where the turntables, none of that stuff has really happened up until the last couple of years. I think I have a little different perspective than a lot of these keyboard cats I’ve played with. It’s always fun just bouncing ideas off of them and trying to see how they think about things. I’ll probably do that, take a bunch of lessons, maybe take some classes. Just stay on top of what I do , so it doesn’t leave me.

Colin: Definitely, that’s sweet. Do you guys have any new material in the works?

Chris: Yeah, we’ve been writing like crazy on the road. Mike’s been writing a lot of stuff and burning CDs and giving them to us. So you know, they’re all just ideas right now and until we actually get together and put them together, that’s all they are…just ideas. But there’s a lot of them. A lot of them floating around right now.

Colin: One last thing, have you in fact perfected the art of rolling?

Chris: ….Yes, yes. I can roll anything. (laughs)

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Written by Colin Kerrigan

September 18, 2009 at 5:50 am