Thursday, 13 May 2010


...are currently being completely awesome.This has been my first mobile post.Woo! me word that rhymes with Pavement...

...and I won't kill your parents and roast them on a spit...

So, it's almost time. Three days of great music and, I assume, a wee bit of alcohol. It's gonna be a blast. Avi Buffalo, Surfer Blood, Times New Viking, Pavement, The Raincoats, Monotonix, Omar Souleyman, Quasi etc etc's going to be awesome.

Photos and stories can be expected early next week.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Trouble Books interview!

Another interview popped into my email this morning. This time it was the lovely Trouble Books who had taken some time out to answer my questions. Their album The United Colors of Trouble Books is one of my favorite records of recent years and the vinyl copy is perhaps the nicest thing in my entire record collection. With screen-printed recycled charity shop record sleeves it is a thing of beauty. Apparantly, MIE Music still has twenty copies left, so I highly recommend you get yourself a copy. Their most recent album, Gathered Tones, is rather amazing as well and also available to buy now.

So...interview...same rules as usual. The below text has just been copied and pasted straight from the email. Nothing has been edited or removed...I've just added some pictures.

OK. Hi Trouble Books. Why don't we start with some basic facts and things. Or actually, let's just start with telling us who is answering these questions?
This is Keith answering the questions to take a break from chores.

You are not particularly well-known in the UK. Maybe I hang out in the wrong circles, but in general I don't think any of my friends know who you are. So, please, tell us. Who's in the band, who plays what, where are you from, what do you do, how long have you been playing? Do you have day jobs, are you students? You know, that kind of thing.
The band is always me and my wife Linda. Our friend Mike plays with us whenever possible, and we have several other friends who contribute to the recordings and often play live too. Most of us are in a post-university, pre-career drift here in Akron due to a combination of a poor economy, useless liberal arts degrees, and cheap living expenses.

How did you come up with your band name?
It's just an inside joke really. I didn't think we were going to play more than a show or so in our friends' kitchen, otherwise I might've thought about it a little more.

How do you make the songs? I get the feeling it's very much a collaborative effort?
I usually plant the seeds and everyone else does some nurturing and pruning. The songs are always started as recording experiments and later we figure out how we could possibly play them live. None of us are proper musicians technically, and nobody has any real interest in or ability to "jam". Instead, everyone tends to add their parts gradually whenever they have time.

Your first release United Colors of Trouble Books is one of my favourite records and the LP looks amazing. I love the recycled vinyl sleeve-screen printing thing. Sorry for being such a fan boy, but it's just great. Who came up with the idea/did the art work?
A lot of the ideas for "United Colors" came while Linda and I were spending some time walking around in the Black Forest region of Southern Germany. The house on the cover is from an illustration in Anton Müller's "Der Schwarzwald in 47 Bildern" that I made into a silkscreen. It's the type of architecture the old houses there are in, so we wanted to represent that. Also, the album has an indoors-y, at home vibe I think. Our friend Debra came up with the overlapping color design, and we printed them on inside-out garbage record sleeves from our friend's record store basement because we didn't have much money.

If I remember correctly you only pressed 100 copies. Any reason? I assume that makes no sense at all financially or can you still break even on such low numbers?
Actually, 300 LPs were pressed. We sold 200 here in the States and sent Henry at MIE Music 100 (with different covers) to sell in the UK/Europe. We pressed, and will always press, small numbers because I don't want to drag around boxes of unsold music for the rest of my life. I've found it's a better experience to be pessimistic and then pleasantly surprised with the results, rather than the other way around.

Sticking with United Colors for the moment. It sounds absolutely amazing on vinyl. How did you record it? When, where and with who?
We recorded it ourselves at home in our living room onto an 8-track cassette machine. The whole thing was written and recorded over about 3 months I think. I like to keep the writing and recording periods short and concise, I think it gives the album a more unified mood and sound, and tends to also make it mean more to us. "United Colors" is October-December 2008 for me, "Gathered Tones" is Summer/early Autumn 2009.

I just ordered the new record, Gathered Tones. Please tell me about the album? How did it happen? How is it different from the previous?
I think it's even more abstract that "United Colors" is. Linda and I were listening to Black Dice, specifically the album "Creature Comforts" a lot, and getting into how beautiful it was while also being so strange and insane sounding. The idea was to make the sounds on "Gathered Tones" be as unidentifiable as possible, whereas "United Colors" still had a lot of semi-traditional instruments and arrangements underneath the ambient sonics. Mike thinks the new album is both the weirdest-sounding thing we've recorded, yet with some of the catchiest pop melodies. We also got a chance to borrow and use a bunch of old analog synthesizers for "Gathered Tones", which definitely changed the vibe.

What sort of venues/shows do you like playing? I imagine it must be hard being a fairly quiet band and play bars etc.
Oh, definitely. We prefer to play in small art spaces rather than noisy bars. We can't really compete with cheap beer and rowdy friends on a Friday night.

Do you like touring? How do you avoid killing each other when you spend so much time together? Who gets to choose the driving music?
Well, Linda and I are married, so we're pretty used to spending a lot of time together, haha. Honestly though, I'm not terribly inclined to lead us out on any extensive tour. Coming back to Europe sometime soon is a goal, since bands are treated incredibly well there and everything seems so pretty. But we've reached a point where we're not interested in being some hard-working band, grinding it out at some shitty bar for 10 people to try to win a couple hearts & minds whenever we get the chance. If people find our music and like it and buy some records, we'll make some more. If not, whatever, we'll just make some tapes and drawings for ourselves whenever we feel like it.

What's "the scene" like where you live. What local bands should I check out?
It's small, mostly a handful of friends of ours here sharing members in different projects. Mike's stuff that he does under the name "Talons" is some of my favorite music from anywhere. Anything Gabe Schray does is great, and I've been spending almost every afternoon with the new Comfort Clouds album.

What was the first gig you went to?
Oh geez, probably some local punk bands when I was in high school. They used to have shows once a month at this hotel bar in Mansfield where I grew up, and I would go to as many of those as possible.

First record you bought?

I think it was "Odelay" by Beck on cassette. Or maybe an Offspring tape...

Last record you bought?
The new Emeralds LP, "Does it Look like I'm here?". It's great.

What was the last gig you went to? (As a fan. Not as a friend or as part of the bill?)
Hm. The bulk of the shows I go to are ones that friends do... haha. Oh yeah, I went with a friend and saw Horse Feathers play a week or so ago. I'd never heard them before, not totally my thing, but the set was beautiful. Good string playing can go a long way.

Favorite ice cream flavour?
Pistachio maybe?

What's your most treasured possession?
There aren't a lot of physical things that I tend to feel overly-sentimental towards really. Are pets considered a possession? I really love our cats, they're the only things I would rush to save from a house fire for reasons other than just money. I just learned about that parasite in cat shit that causes humans to become "cat people" though, and I feel a little tricked by our girls now.

What's your "desert island band" ie if you could only pick the discography of one band to listen to for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Probably Eno's collection, although Linda's an even bigger fan of his than I am.

The very first post I wrote on this blog was after being introduced to Talons at the George Tavern in London. They mentioned Trouble Books and I think even played the song Personal Tornados. That's actually how I found out about both bands. As far as I understand Talons/Trouble Books are closely related. What is the difference between the two and how does a song become a TB song rather than a Talons song? Was that gig a rare occurrence or is there regular crossovers of songs at gigs? (I realise this question might be unanswered if whoever answers has nothing to do with Talons)
It's pretty simple. Mike writes Talons' songs, I write Trouble Books songs. We add parts and ideas to both bands. Although we've done shows and small tours where we play both Talons' and Trouble Books songs, there usually isn't too much of a crossover. Since the sounds of each band are pretty different, especially live, people usually have one of the bands in mind to play, so we just do that.

What are your thoughts on "illegally" downloading music? I confess, I downloaded both of your albums before buying the actual vinyl…and if I hadn't liked them I wouldn't have bought them. 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….or in this case at the MIE shop.
I definitely think people should get to hear an album before they spend money on it, and it's cool to see labels like Type and others put full albums up online to stream. Own Records did that for "Gathered Tones", and I've given blogs the go-ahead to post our full album for download in the past. I'm glad the days of buying an album and then finding out you don't like it are gone, but at the same time, I think that a lot of people are assuming that everyone else is picking up a copy and supporting the band, so it's OK if they just enjoy the mp3s this time.

We're not at all concerned with making any profit on our music, but we do need to cover the costs of making the records, so we hope people will want to grab the few copies we make. Because if we're not going to make some LPs or CDs, than honestly I don't think we're interested in putting the work into getting the songs "out there". I know at least for Mike and I, having physical copies is really fulfilling and important, and our music doesn't have much of an inspiration in a digital-only world. That might not make sense, but it's how we're wired I guess.

Have you ever been outside the US? Any plans to?
Linda and I were lucky enough to get a chance to do a small 2 week European tour last year, and we're hoping to put something similar together this fall. It was awesome. We'll see what works out.

Big thanks to Keith for answering my questions. Here's the first Trouble Books song I ever heard and fell in love with immediately.

Trouble Books - Personal Tornados (from United Colors of Trouble Books)

Trouble Books on myspace

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Avi Buffalo

So, this is my favorite song of the "summer" so far. Just amazing.

And the album is incredible as well.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Party show!!!

This will be awesome....and I made the flyer! Double awesome!

Cheapo cheapo tickets here