Thursday, 29 April 2010

New York, New York

Three weeks to go, so I need to find things to do. This looks pretty sweet!

This is the day of our Popfest show, but hopefully I can make it. Japanther and Ninjasonik at a secret Brooklyn location. How could that be anything apart from awesome?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Hexicon album launch

I'm totally bummed out that I won't be around on Friday, but for those of you who happen to be in London, The Wilmington Arms is the place to be. Hexicon's eagerly awaited debut album will finally be available (hopefully) and they're having a launch party to celebrate. It's the end of a mamooth wait, but I've heard it and it has been worth every second. It's rather awesome, so you should get down to the Wilmo and pick up a copy.

Joining them on the bill are the awesome Tigercats, featuring members from the also totally awesome, but sadly departed (well...or on hiatus, whatever..not playing anywhere near you soon anyway) Esiotrot.

Hexicon myspace

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Math The Band Interview!!

Woot! So, since the Christmas Island interview worked out alright I thought I'd try my luck with another band I've been listeneing to aot recently, Math The Band. I was hoping to catch them at South By Southwest, but their shows were always clashing with something else and it just never happened. Anyway, what can be said about them? They play some sort of messy-but-fun-and-mega-fast-electro-bleep-boom-chip-core-pop...yup, that's pretty much it. They're also very productive and have a lot of stuff out there for you to hunt down or buy from their webshop.

Both the below songs are from the record available to buy there, Math The Band Banned The Math.

Were Wolf Fever (Mediafire link, mp3)

Everyone Is Embarrasing (Mediafire link, mp3)

OK, on to the interview....again same rules from me. Anything I could think of without thinking about it too much. All the questions stay, even if they don't want to answer them. Nothing has been edited, apart from the occasional spelling mistake. Again, I can think of loads of other things I should have asked. Maybe next time.

Kevin is answering the questions...

What's the line-up? What software do you use for programming your drums/beats?
Right now, the live setup is I play guitar and sing, and Justine plays keyboard, a floor tom and a crash. We have had a drummer at a fair amount of shows, and are actually looking for a new drummer now.

On the albums, I do all of the work, from writing to recording to mixing and producing. I program/produce the music using the following things:
-a pc running acid, fruity loops, and max msp
-a mac running ableton live
-arp axxe
-yamaha cs15
-moog mg1
-nintendo entertainment system
-gameboy pocket
-commodore 64
-shitty guitars
-shittier drums
-even shittier homemade microphones

How did you come up with your band name? Are/Were you good at maths?
Neither of us were ever good at math at all. The band was named after pin on my backpack actually. I started the band when i was 15 years old, and had a pin on my backpack that just said "math", and had some numbers on it. I named the band after the pin, because that way my band had a pin.

Tell us a bit about your discography. First/best/current releases? Who does the art/videos and stuff?
The number of albums we have is a little bit fuzzy for a few reasons. I started the band when i was a young dude, and when the band was new i would write just about a song a day, put them on a cd when i had 80 minutes worth, and call it an album. At the time i thought it was great, but looking back on it now, ide rather call those demos, and dont really want anyone to have to be exposed to them. All together, I had 2 instrumental albums like this, totaling something around 70 tracks. Then I had 3 full albums with vocals. These 5 albums totaled something like 150 tracks, and were all made within a span of 2 years. After that, I actually made a couple albums that used electronics and acoustic guitars and banjos and things like that. I made 2 full length albums and one EP that got put out in mexico of that kind of music, but sometimes wish i had put it under a different band name, because it sounds dramatically different, and sometimes people get confused. After that point we recorded our first album to be actually pressed, math the band banned the math. for that album we basically took the songs from the old albums that we thought were worth revisiting, added some new songs, and ended up with a greatest hits of sorts. Almost exactly at the time this album came out, we changed the entire concept and lineup of the band. Until 2008, I had been the only member of the band, but after releasing math the band banned the math, we got a drummer and keyboard played, and i started playing guitar, and we started adding these sounds to the songs. If you listen to our last two releases, tour de freinds EP and Dont Worry, you'll notice a pretty big change between them and banned the math. this is mostly because the time span of writing one album to another there is 4 or 5 years. I would say we're most happy with our most current release, "dont worry".

Our artist right now is nick shively -
and we have done videos with a few people, check them out here - and here:

You're playing an insane amount of shows in May. Do you like touring? How do you kill time in between shows? How do you manage to avoid killing each other when you spend so much time together? What's on the Math The Band touring playlist/mix CD? What kind of venues/shows do you prefer playing?
We like touring a lot. We generally tour 100-150 days a year, but might be doing more than that this year. we've done 30-40 shows in 2010 so far, and are going to be on tour from may 1st til the 4th of july also. There isnt really time to kill between shows. any time not spent sleeping or playing a show is spent driving or maybe eating if there is time to eat. we dont really have trouble getting along on tour. its usually just justine and I, and we have been dating for 4 years now and have fun on the road. We have a giant ipod that we just leave of shuffle with the rule that nobody can ever skip a song. we have something like 3 weeks of music on it. We like plying shows in peoples kitchens because stage diving off a refrigerator is cool.

What's "the scene" like where you live. What local bands should I check out?
there is mostly a noise scene where we are from. we have a hard time finding bands we fit in with where we live

Favorite bands in general?
jingle cats

What was the first gig you went to?
mustard plug and big d and the kids table

First record you bought?
mighty mighty bosstones - lets face it

Last record you bought?
"why?" - almost live from elis live room

What was the last gig you went to? (As a fan. Not as a friend or as part of the bill?)

Favorite ice cream flavour?
lemon jalapeno

I was hoping to see you at South by South-West and walked all the way to some weird backyard show behind a vintage clothes shop…it was that day when it was absolutely freezing cold….only to find out that you had cancelled. What happened? Did you play any SxSW shows? Was I just unlucky?
that show had a lot of technical difficulties, and the schedule was pushed an hour or two behind. we were playing another show across town that we were going to need to rush to right after our set, so we had to pick one show or the other, and played the other show. Sorry about the mixup! we had to choose one show or the other

What are your thoughts on people "illegally" downloading your music? I confess, I have downloaded a lot of your music and haven't paid for any of it. I do tend to download a lot to find out about new bands and then I try to buy stuff directly from the bands at gigs etc. For example, I actually just bought a t-shirt from your online shop. Who made the artwork? It was a tough choice, but I went for the red one with the little characters on the globe one, rather than the diver. It looks awesome!
I am all for people downloading music. That is how we have gotten any small amount of success. if we didnt put all our music up free to download for a long time, we would most likely not be doing this band anymore. i actually used to pay 100 bucks every christmas to host downloads of all of our albums for a couple weeks.

Have you ever been outside the US? Any plans to?
we have played mexico and canada, and really hope to play europe and asia soon. I have spent time in europe, but never to play music.

Future plans. What can we look forward to from Math The Band?
after our summer touring with mc chris, we will be finishing a new album as fast as we can!

What question(s) do you wish interviewers would ask? Please also provide an answer. Also, what question(s) do you wish they wouldn't ask?

And if you would like to add anything, feel free to. Thanks.

But he didn't, so I assume it must have all been alright. Thanks, Kevin! Woot. Have a listen and if you like what you hear, support the band by at least paying for some stuff. Personally, I just bought a t-shirt.

Math The Band myspace

Hmmmm....who will be the next interview victim?

Friday, 16 April 2010

Christmas Island interview

I've talked about Christmas Island a fair bit over the past couple of months. But, like so many other bands that I just stumble upon by accident, I didn't really know much about them. So, I sent off some random, fairly general questions in the hope that one of them might answer. Eventually, Brian did. Hooray. In hindsight there's a bunch of things I could have and should have asked, but hey, it was an experiment....and it maybe next random spur-of-the-moment email to a band will contain more exciting questions. Anyway, here goes....I haven't edited anything...not even spelling mistakes. The unanswered ones remain unanswered.

So, hi Christmas Island. Thanks for doing this…and sorry if I'm being terribly amateurish. But, but…let's start with the basics. There's not a huge amount about you on the internet, so please fill us in. Who's answering these questions? Who's in the band? Names, ages (if you feel like telling us) What do you play? Where are you from? What's it like?
Brian: Me, 29, Vocals and guitar. Lucy, 26, drums. Craig, 29, guitar and keyboard (live)

Apart from being in an awesome band, what do you do? Do you have "normal jobs"? If so, how is that working out with touring etc?
Brian: I work a 9-5er at a local alt-weekly. It sucks for touring because I have to figure it out based on my vacation time but it beats being broke. Lucy works at a gelato shop. Craig works at a video store.

General band-related stuff. Band name, where did it come from? How and when did you start playing together? When was your first show?
Brian: I stumbled across the name somewhere and I liked the ring of it. It sounded mysterious. Once I found out A-bombs were tested there, it sealed the deal.
Lucy and I had already been dating a while and when both of our previous bands broke up (The Cowabunga Dudes and Holy Boys, respectively), we decided to play music together. Our first show was in April '08. Craig joined the band in June '08.

Your album, "Blackout Summer" was out last year but I only just discovered it at the beginning of this year…and I absolutely love it….it's just great. How/where/when did you record it?
Brian: Thanks! We recorded it in Fall '08 with Mike McHugh at the Distillery in Costa Mesa, California.

Some songs are really quite personal (Weird It Out for example), while others tackle lighter topics (Dinosaurs springs to mind). So, first I guess I'm wondering how you write songs? And who writes the lyrics? Sharing of duties? And how did you decide what went on the album? Was it ever a concern that the songs tackle such different subjects? Personally, I think it's what makes the album so amazing; that you go from thinking "aww…that's so sweet" to screaming "Brontosaurus! Tyrannosaurus REX!" in the space of a few songs. And then the Nineteen seven-inch has a completely different feel to it from the album. Any particular reasons behind that?
Brian: I write all the guitar parts and lyrics. All the songs are pretty personal. Even "Dinosaurs" is more about feeling alienated and being a misanthrope...but it's also about dinosaurs, too. It's always been my intention to have each song be about a different subject just because it gets redundant to sing about the same stuff. At the same time, though, I think there's common themes that run through all the songs.

Hmmm….maybe I should do that horrible "what are your influences" question…rephrased as please tell me some random bands of personal importance throughout your lives. What did you listen to in school? First record you bought?
Brian: Personal importance? For my whole life? Man, it's all over the place. In chronological order: Richie Valens, Metallica, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, The Descendents, Operation Ivy, Dead Kennedys, Jawbreaker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, CAN, Television, Urinals, Desperate Bicycles, Tronics, Alex Chilton, The Terminals.
The first records I ever bought were MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice on cassette.

What was the first concert you ever went to?
Brian: Nine Inch Nails at the Universal Ampitheatre in '92. Marilyn Manson (who was fairly unknown at the time) opened. He sucked.

The last concert you went to, as a fan, not as part of the line-up?
Brian: The Strange Boys w/ Heavy Hawaii at the Casbah. Love both of those bands.

How do feel about "illegal" downloading of your songs, blogs sharing your album on the internet etc. I have to confess to having downloaded everything I could find by you, which was the album and the seven-inch….oh and some demos of album tracks. However, I am planning on seeing you at least once at South By Southwest (any show in a place called Beerland simply has to be awesome) and if you have anything to sell, I'm planning on buying it. Really. I promise.
Brian: I don't really give a shit about illegal downloading. I do it all the time. If I really like something, I'll buy the record...and sometimes I won't. Who cares.
If people want to download our music for free, that's fine. I'm just stoked that people want to listen to our band in the first place. We canceled SXSW. Sorry! We got kind of overwhelmed.

Everyone in a band has friends in bands. What local/friends' bands should I check out?
Brian: The aforementioned Heavy Hawaii are always great. I've also really been diggin' Nude Boy.

Future plans? More releases? Any plans to cross the Atlantic and come visit the UK?
Brian: We're just finished the songs for our split 7" with Meth Teeth on Sacred Bones. After that is a 12" EP on Woodsist which is about halfway written. We're adding a bass player so it's going to sound a lot different. Christmas Island 2.0.
We're planning on coming to the UK and possibly Europe later this year. Stay tuned!

That's it. Thanks Brian for answering my rubbish questions. I was completely bummed out that they cancelled South by South-West, but shit happens. Hopefull I'll get the chance to see them soon enough.

Christmas Island myspace

Two songs that I've already posted, in case you still haven't heard them. Both are from the album Blackout Summer, which is rather awesome indeed. Buy it!

Dinosaurs (Mediafire link, mp3)
Blackout Summer (Mediafire link, mp3)

Yesterday in pictures

Paul Rains of Allo Darlin' waiting for soundcheck

Bill "Moustache/Darlin/Secondary Modern" Botting

Elizabeth Darling and Paul Rains

David Tattersall

Allo Darlin'

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Why not visit Nottingham this weekend?

If you're in the Nottingham area on Saturday, why not come down to Lee Rosy's. It's the first Moustache shouw in two and a half month, so is pretty much guaranteed to be a rather shambolic affair.

And of course...the other bands are awesome as well.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Damn you, Sister Ray

So, I went a little crazy in Sister Ray this afternoon. Well, not THAT crazy, but with another week until pay day I really shouldn't have bought three albums. But, but, but...I did and despite having had them all as mp3's for ages I'm still very pleased with each purchase.

First one up was Let's Wrestle - In The Court Of The Wrestling Let's, an absolute gem of an album, recorded by the awesome Simon Trought at Soup Studios. The vinyl is limited to 300 copies and comes in a hand screen-printed sleeve, complete with finger marks and everything. My copy is number 287, and since it's been out for a while I'm sure they must be running out. But, if you hurry up you can still order it from the Stolen Records website and so you should. Go! They really are one of the most impressive London bands out there at the moment. I really need to get my shit together and see them live again soon. It just always seems to clash with something. Then, when I tried to catch them at South By South-West, the PA had blown at the stage, so I had to move on. They're still away in the US, now touring with Quasi , which sounds like a pretty amazing combination to me.

Next one was PENS - Hey Friend! What You Doing? I absolutely love this album. It's loud, messy and incredibly fun lo-fi garage noise pop. It sounds absolutely awful and totally awesome at the same time. Here, have a taster before you run and buy it. This is one of the stand-out tracks on the album.

PENS - High In The Cinema

Then, when you've fallen in love with these London girls, head over to any decent record shop and get it. Or pick your favorite online retailer, for example Rough Trade. Yay!

Finally, I got an old favorite. Pit Er Pat - High Time, an album that was made for vinyl. It sounds just lovely. They're so far from everything else I listen to, still I can't help but loving them more and more each listen. Fay's voice might be annoying to some, but to me it's just spell-binding, strong and and fragile at the same time. The record isn't in great condition (which is probably why it only cost seven quid), but it still sounds miles better than my mp3's. The record is a couple of years old now, so it might not be readily available. However, the Thrill Jockey website is selling it for $10 (for some reason $3 cheaper than the CD) and you really can't go wrong with that. Still have no idea why they cancelled their recent London show. I can only hope it wasn't anything serious and that they'll reschedule it.

Hmm...that's about it for now. Tomorrow, I'm gonna have to take a different route home. The new Quasi album looked a bit too tempting today.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Iranian indie music you say

No One Cares About Persian Cats
Iran | 2009 | 106 minutes | Directed by Bahman Ghobadi | imdb link

So, apparently there's a thriving indie rock scene in Iran. Hundreds of bands playing gigs in abandoned warehouses, on farms, in basements or anywhere they can escape the watchful eyes of the government or bureau of censorship. All non-religious music is strictly banned and rock music is synonomous with devil-worshipping. Negar and Ashkan are two twenty-somethings looking for musicians to join their indie rock band, Take It Easy Hospital, with the aim of going to London to play a gig. The film follows them as they enlist the help of Nader, who convinces them he can sort them out with not only the needed musicians, but also the passports, visas and permits they need in order to get out of the country. They follow him through the underbelly of Tehran's music scene, secret recording studios, rap video shoots and even raves. Things slowly start coming together as their London departure date gets closer and then...well....I'll leave that to you.

I was always going to have a problem with this film. I think the concept of underground music in Iran is incredibly fascinating and definitely something I'd like to know more about, but I don't like the feeling of almost being forced to like a band just because they're making music in a very difficult socio-political environment. And in the end....the band, is just not that special. It's just another average indie band. There's a point in the film where Nader says that there's more than 200 indie rock bands in Iran and I just hope some of them are more exciting than Take It Easy Hospital.

The film would probably have worked better as a documentary, since this fictionalised account of true events comes across a bit like a hand-held infomercial about Iranian indie music with a bit of suspense thrown in. Apparently director Ghobadi is an accomplished documentary maker, so I'm not quite sure why he decided to take the fictional approach. If you want to draw attention to a music scene, and the musicians themselves are willing to be in the film, why ask tem to play characters based on themselves? Some of the more dramatic/moving scenes would have worked much better in a straight interview scenario, rather than as a fictionalised re-enactment. But, what do I know? I'm sure they had their reasons.

In the end the most interesting aspect of the movie for me was just to see what Tehran looks like. It's probably due to my own ignorance, but I was surprised at how "normal" and modern it looked. And all the kids, wearing Converse and Vans and band t-shirts. Where does one go to buy a Strokes t-shirt in Tehran? Hmmmmm.

So, I really don't mean to shit on their parade. Well done for doing all they can in order to make music under such horrible circumstances. It's just not my cup of tea. And since the musicians themselves were very determined to come across as non-political and wanted to be judged on their music alone, I have to do just that....and it's really not my cup of tea. Still, the film was reasonably entertaining. I give it 3 Niks out of 5. Yup.

Take It Easy Hospital myspace