Interview

An Interview With The Murder Capital

By Will Oliver, March 6th 2020

Irish rockers The Murder Capital have been building quite a bit of momentum overseas both back at home in Ireland and in the U.K. as well. They released their debut album When I Have Fears last year to mass critical acclaim (it was one of our favorites of the year) and now it’s time for the band to have their moment here in the U.S., where they are about to embark on their first-ever North American tour.

Last week I had the pleasure of chatting with the band’s drummer Diarmuid Brennan over the phone, one day before they played their biggest hometown show to date. We talked about the early days of the band, their process, how they bring it live every night, and how grief helped shaped their debut album.

You can find our chat in full below and please note that it has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Read the rest of this entry »

An Interview With Longwave

By Omar Kasrawi, February 22nd 2020

Photos and Interview by Omar Kasrawi

May of 2018 brought the first new Longwave show in nearly a decade – a band that helped define the New York rock and roll sound of the early 2000s. And more than a year later, the band dropped its first new album since 2008’s Secrets are Sinister. The band used a mini-tour supporting Blue October, to bring If We Ever Live Forever to the masses, culminating in a sold-out Webster Hall show. They’re currently on tour at the moment.

I spoke with founding members Steve Schiltz (vocals/guitar) and Shannon Ferguson (guitar) to get their thoughts about getting the band back together after a long hiatus, recording at Schiltz’s studio, and what music gets them going these days.

The following is edited for brevity and clarity. The band play Bowery Ballroom tonight.

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Omar: I’ve spent a lot of time with this new album and it was around a minute and 20 in, when that bassline kicks in. And shortly after that, the guitars come roaring in, and it kind of feels like, “Okay, this is a Longwave record.” Were you guys trying to recapture that sound that has been so associated with the band?

STEVE: Well, see the thing about that song in particular…it was something I had started by myself and we had, we kind of made it into a Longwave song. I think Christian’s bass is the last thing we did on it.. we had done everything with this scratch bass and [Christian Bonger’s bass] really made it….

SHANNON: There’s definitely a push to make it sound like the band. I know Steve really likes that song. And he likes the intro a lot. I like it, too, of course. But I think he liked it because it didn’t sound like Longwave. Especially in the beginning…he said, “You know, let’s do something new.”…And I think that, me and Christian, especially, wanted to make it more like the band. You know, I do think it was my idea to push Christian to the bass. Christian didn’t want to play the bass on that song.

STEVE: Chrisitan had thought I did a fine job on the bass…

SHANNON: Steve’s a great bass player, but Christian’s really, really amazing. It makes a big difference having Christian on it.

STEVE; It’s also better just because that bass originally wasn’t intended to go all the way to the end. I just recorded it. No amp, you know, I was just fucking around here. So yeah, Christian had the Marshall set up…as soon as he started playing and it was like, yeah, well there, we don’t need that other thing now.

O: So Christian’s in Vietnam. Shannon’s in California. And Steve and Jason in New York. How did that distance affect the creative process during recording? Were you sending files across the Internet?

SHANNON: Very old school I mean, we probably could be sending demos around and stuff, but we didn’t really do it that way…I think I was the only one out of town.

STEVE: Christian was not in Vietnam at that time Shannon was the only guy out of town. Jason also has moved upstate, and he was still in town, too. So it was three of us still living in New York. Shannon…would fly in.

In the beginning, we weren’t expecting to be recording a record at first. We were seeing if we wanted to play and what it sounded like again, cause we hadn’t played in like, eight years or so. But what ultimately happened was that I just recorded every single thing that anybody played that was kind of interesting.

Shannon would be messing around the guitar and he’s got his amp up…I would just have the mic on the guitar the whole time…he’d be playing and just fucking around with a peddle of mine early on, something he just found…And then I would go, “Oh shit!” And I pull up Pro Tools and there it is, and I’d just recorded it and a lot of little loopy things and things on the record. The little noises and stuff were from that.

In the old days, you would lock out a studio and just have everything to set up the whole time and usually, you can’t really afford that kind of luxury anymore. But I have this place, and if I was willing to step over everybody’s shit for a little while, like here on the floor…then we could just leave it all set up. And I had very recently made it so that we could record everybody. So it turned out to be a really cool way to have done it…it wasn’t started like that, envisioned like that, it just happened to kind of be a cool way to do it. But once everyone would leave, that was it….I would sit there and mess with this stuff and kind of go through and edit things.

O: So what was the impetus to get the band back together again?

STEVE: Shannon had asked me … God, seven years ago now. So more than a couple of years ago, we went out drinking one night, had a good time with each other, and then, you remember that Shannon? You asked me, at Rosemary’s in Williamsburg. And he said, “You know, I think we should get the band together.” And I said, “Oh, God, OK.”

So I went into the bathroom, came back and I said, “Shannon you need to know, I haven’t told anybody this yet, but my wife and I are pregnant.” So, you know, that kind of stopped it for a while…I called Shannon up maybe two years after that. four, five, I don’t know how many years after that. And I said, “I hit a wall.” I do these like TV commercials for a living. And I’m lucky to have that kind of work. And it’s good work….It’s creative…I get to play guitar. I get to do all my own instruments. And I had hit a wall and I called him up….I need to do something else, too. And I said, “Do you still want to get the band back together?”

And he had just moved to California, because. you know, none of it was an easy thing to do. It wasn’t like, “Hey, come on down Tuesday, we’re going to mess around,” OK, well, we look at flights and see how much it costs to come out here. So. But the good thing was that whenever, when we finally did get together, it was with Christian. And Shannon will attest that really kind of, that all of a sudden it was everybody’s a little bit better now because Christian’s so good and everyone really focused when they came. I was worried…people are just gonna want to take breaks a lot…But when we were here…everyone was focused and doing it…four or five times of doing that. And then we basically had the record.

SHANNON: It wasn’t a struggle. It was pretty easy once we got together and started working on a song. It felt pretty natural. You know, I think we took a long break. But all of us have played, been playing with each other in different formations for that whole time.

STEVE: That’s true. This is like the fifth or sixth or seventh band that I’ve been in with Christian now. And Shannon, it’s like the third or fourth for Shannon, Christian’s been in all of our bands. And the second time he’s been in Longwave.

I think all this is to say I can only speak for myself, but maybe you might be able to understand. And once you have kids, and three of us have kids, now your time gets really scarce…And so I really felt like when I had this time when we were all getting together, it was very important and we were going to make the most of it. And again, speaking only for myself, at our age. We’re in our forties now, I’m so lucky to have enough guys, to have a band that wants to do it. And it’s good, right? Like most, most guys at this point…have lost interest or your friends don’t want to do it or… It’s very lucky to have it at all.

O: What did it feel like stepping back on stage for that first gig in nearly a decade at Mercury Lounge?

SHANNON: I think that was the most nervous that I had been, and I could tell Steve was nervous too, for a show in like maybe 15 years….But then, you know, the backstage of the Mercury is actually in the basement. And when we came into the crowd and it’s completely packed, full, I just felt really at ease. It was good to be playing again. Maybe a little rusty for me but OK.

STEVE: Same for me. I remember thinking the same thing. What had changed for me that I knew that to kind of stay away until, like, I had to have my own little space. So I remember that show, I went off by myself and I got dinner, and not that I didn’t want to see the other guys, but I couldn’t deal with it before the show, all of our friends and people that I wanted to see. It was just a little overwhelming and kind of emotional….I remember walking up and walking through…to get ready for the show. And I looked in, and the room was full and I was like, “Oh, this is gonna be fun!” You know, it’s not going to be nervous or weird or whatever. It’s actually gonna be really fun.

SHANNON: I have a lot of confidence in Steve and the rest of the guys. So…once they start playing it, it’s easy to get excited. So there’s a lot of time on stage where I’m not actually playing. So I get to listen and it’s like, “This is amazing. You guys really rocked it!

O: One of things that has always stood out to me about Longwave songs, is that so many feel like they could be the track to climactic cinematic moments.

SHANNON: Well, I mean, as far as the band’s sounding sometimes like every song is the last song of a really cool movie. You know, I feel it. I feel like that’s always kind of been a part of the band. I think that Steve always kind of brought that kind of drama to the band. Like you listen to the first record, Endsongs, it sounds like every song could have ended any John Hughes movie. And I think that’s why I wanted to be in the band. It’s a great thing to be able to pull off in songwriting.

O: And you’ve both been working on creating musicals scores and music for commercials since the band went on hiatus, has that changed or influenced the creative process going into the new record?

SHANNON: I think that it affected the recording the most., I noticed, and I’m not sure that Steven noticed this, but sort of getting back to Steve’s studio and where we made the record. I know it’s like an increased amount of efficiency….to be able to make fast decisions. And I think that that just comes from doing all those scores. But maybe just getting older, too. I don’t know. But I feel like, just all of us, we debated the songs and the parts much, much less than we have on any other record.

STEVE: You know what? I forgot about this, but Omar, what we would do, especially when we’re writing stuff together for this record, you’d be in this room, have this thing kind of half written, definitely not finished yet, but we liked it. And didn’t know how to finish it. What we would do…because I had it all miked up, We would record it and then we’d listen back. And it would sound good, right? Like sound coming through the speakers like everything’s miked and it sounded pretty good….made it really easy to say, “You know, I don’t think that section works,” or, “What if it was twice as long?” and rather than [rerecord] it, I would just chop it in like a second and then I’d play it again for everybody and we’d say, “Oh, that doesn’t work”….”Oh, that’s right, that’s right.” And then we chop…I would do it in the machine…one thing about doing that stuff is it makes you really fast. You have to be fast right, with the software. So it was actually much faster to do it that way than it would be to just play it again…into your iPhone voice memos. And when it’s all done, you hold it up to everybody and listen back….I especially like even knowing that it’s possible to do that now. And that’s that comes from doing so many edits for scoring things.

SHANNON: I remember, having just the whole record kind of an easy feel to it. The other thing, as far as scoring and having all this time and having to work, kind of in a different industry for the last decade. I do feel like we’re just faster and better at writing the parts. That could also be partly because Christian is in the band.

O: I’ve lost track now, but you guys have brought up Christian as an influence on the band a number of times. That sounds like he’s some sort of special sauce.

STEVE: He’s good.

SHANNON: I mean, you can hear it on the record. Yeah, that’s him.

STEVE: You know, I played in bands with Christian on the drums. Me on the drums. Probably in three bands. Shannon, do you even know this? The reason I bring it up is that I’m not a great drummer, but when I was playing with Christian, I was like, “Damn, I sound good! Listen to me play these drums!” And it’s cause he’s just so solid…He just makes you sound so much better because he’s got it together.

SHANNON: The thing that you brought up earlier, Omar, asking us what it was like to do this again after 10 years. It’s not just that we were all playing in bands for ten years, we’ve also been hanging out for the whole time, too. It’s not like the band had a huge falling out in2009 and we didn’t talk for years. We’ve been pretty much doing stuff together. So it wasn’t that hard to come back again.

O: To me, Longwave was one of the defining sounds of the early 2000s rock scene. And that makes me wonder, who are some of the artists you enjoy listening to today?

STEVE: Shannon probably listens to the same five records still, yeah.

O: What are those five records?

SHANNON: Shannon: Well, I. I don’t get to listen to my own music anymore because I have a 10 year old. He controls the playlist in my house and he’s super into Nirvana. He likes Green Day. And that’s basically it. I played him some Led Zeppelin yesterday…Steve told me to listen to the new Spoon record. Maybe it’s an old one, Dave Friedman produced it?

STEVE: He’s done the last two. [NOTE: Friedman produced Longwave’s The Strangest Things in 2003]

SHANNON: I listened to the first one. That’s the first “newest” record I’ve listened to in years.

STEVE: Yeah, I love that Spoon record. I like The War on Drugs. I don’t find myself listening to a lot of Longwave-y type music. The last record that really knocked me out was that Mark Ronson record (Late Night Feelings) There’s a song with King Princess…that just killed me (Pieces of Us). I listened to it over and over and over and over again…There’s a few songs on that Mark Ronson record that I just love.

So I don’t know if Shannon can relate, but…I don’t usually get the awesome, transcendent feeling from listening to other people blast loud guitars and distortion and delay and shit. I’m kind of selfish that way. I like to do it but…I don’t really care when someone else does it too much.
Shannon: Yeah. Yeah, me neither. Yeah. Especially with the effects.

Steve: Again, that Mark Ronson record sounds fucking amazing. And you’re like, “How did he even get it to sound like that?” You know, one song is with the Tame Impala guy (Kevin Parker). And I’m listening to this. And I think this is just great music. And I don’t I don’t think there’s a guitar on that song.

O: That kind of makes me curious, as you say, you’re not going to search out heavy guitars, distortion. But when you sit down to write a song, is the first thing you pick up the guitar?

Steve: Yeah, it could be. It could be anything in this room. There are a lot of guitars. With Longwave, it starts with Shannon with a sound …it’s still a release to do it. “Wow listen to that!” you know. It’s not as exciting, honestly, for me to make the new sound…I get more excited when I hear him doing it.

O: So, what’s next? Besides the tour?

STEVE: There are a couple more videos there that are either done or in process for a couple of the songs on the record [NOTE: They’ve since released the video for The Trick]. We haven’t yet talked about playing anymore or writing more music together. I don’t know how that will go.

SHANNON: Actually, I brought it up a month ago. I think Steve thought I was being sarcastic.

STEVE: Oh, okay (Laughter)

SHANNON: “When are we going to make the new record?” And you laughed.

STEVE: We should, we should do it. We have stuff we didn’t finish for sure from the last record. I definitely started making a big list of stuff that was unfinished that we could start with. Yeah.

Interview and Photo by Killian Young

Jukebox the Ghost are getting in the Halloween spirit with their HalloQueen concerts on a six-city mini-tour, the most they’ve ever done in a year. The indie-pop trio are splitting these October shows into a set of original songs followed by another set of covers while they’re dressed as Freddie Mercury (played by vocalist/keyboardist Ben Thornewill), Brian May (played by vocalist/guitarist Tommy Siegel) and Roger Taylor (played by drummer Jesse Kristin). They even recorded some studio versions of their Queen covers (“Under Pressure”, “Somebody to Love” and “Don’t Stop Me Now”) to hype up their fans for the gigs. Ahead of Jukebox the Ghost’s headlining show at Webster Hall, I caught up with Thornewill about all things HalloQueen,

Some of the questions have been edited for brevity and clarity.

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Q: To start off, can you tell me about the first time you listened to Queen?

A: It’s so funny. I think I probably had a similar [experience] everyone else did of our generation. It’s just a part of growing up, it’s just the music that you know. And “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a song from Wayne’s World. All these other songs are at sporting events. So I actually don’t remember the first time I encountered Queen.

I remember in high school stumbling upon the Greatest Hits and thinking, “Oh my god, how are there this many incredible songs by this band?” And that’s been the experience we’ve had doing these shows. We keep adding songs and changing them out. No matter what we play, it’s hit after hit after hit.

Q: How have the couple early HalloQueen shows been?

A: Fantastic, awesome. The first one of each year is a little nerve-wracking because I’m shaving the beard into the mustache for the first time, and we’re playing new songs. We haven’t done it for a year. So that’s always a little stressful, but we played in Austin on Friday and Seattle on Saturday – and they couldn’t have gone better. Smashing shows, totally packed, people were in costume and freaking out, and we had an amazing time.

Q: I heard there are three new cover songs in the set?

A: Yeah, three new songs. We may have switched one of them out for an old favorite because it didn’t get the response we wanted. But there’s still new stuff happening in the set for sure. We’re still being cryptic about it, I guess.

Q: The costume contest is a big part of these shows. Can you think of any especially memorable costumes?

A: It’s funny, I have two answers to this. One is, I’ve never gotten to watch the costume contest. Because while they’re parading across the stage and voting and everyone’s screaming and clapping, I’m trying to change into my Freddie Mercury outfit and get ready to be Freddie. So I never actually get to watch it, which is such a bummer.

So I usually go back and look through the socials and find out who the winners were. There was one some years ago, and a girl just dressed up as fish. Not like a Nemo, not like anything – just a fish. For some reason, everyone just latched ahold of it. It was not the best costume. It was not the most creative costume. It was the dumbest costume onstage, and it was 700 people chanting, “Fish! Fish! Fish! Fish!” So I remember hearing that and seeing the picture: “Oh, that’s a girl in a fish outfit. Cool.”

Q: I remember a few years ago in Brooklyn, the winner was a guy dressed up as “Juicebox” the Ghost.

A: There’s usually a couple Jukebox-related puns, and then usually somebody dresses up as me or Jesse. That seems fairly common too, in a really nice way.

Q: Can you tell me about the inspiration to do HalloQueen for the first time?

A: Jesse, the drummer, came up with the name: “Guys, I’ve got a name for a show. It’s called HalloQueen. We do a full set of Queen for Halloween.” We had learned like four or five Queen tunes at that point just ‘cause we wanted to and for playing the shows. He was like, “If we learn three more songs, we’ve got a full set.” And then it was born, and it’s taken on a life of its own.

Q: What was the first Queen song that you learned how to play?

A: “Bohemian Rhapsody”! We did “Bohemian Rhapsody” in college, even before we’d come up with the band name Jukebox the Ghost. I’d completely forgot about that because it was so audacious. We had no right to be doing that. We sounded nothing like how we do it now. We learned that back when we were 19, 20.

Q: Do you have any favorites of the Queen covers to perform live?

A: “Bohemian [Rhapsody]” is always a trip. I play bass on “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “[Another One] Bites the Dust.” So that’s really fun for me to play the bass. I play drums on “Fat Bottomed Girls”. Honestly, every song is a blast. I know that sounds like a cop-out, but I’m either playing piano, up dancing around, playing bass or playing drums and all the while dressed up like Freddie Mercury – and it’s so much fun.

Q: Can you tell me how Queen has inspired Jukebox the Ghost, either in original music or performance?

A: The Queen influence on our music actually happened in a roundabout way. People for so many years would say, “You guys sound like Queen.” When we were actively trying not to sound like Queen. Then maybe four or five years ago, we’re doing these Queen tunes, and everybody keeps saying it. Obviously we’re inviting the comparison. And we just thought, “Screw it. Let’s try to sound like Queen a little bit.” So you heard that a lot on our last record, like with the bridge of “Everybody’s Lonely” or “Jumpstarted” or some of these songs that are a little more adventurous and a little more out there.

For me as a performer, being able to run around and sing and have the microphone like that. I’ve integrated that into our set a little more, some more freedom to roam around.

Q: Are there any Queen deep cuts that you could envision covering?

A: We learned “Death on Two Legs” for this tour. Do you know that tune? That’s a deep cut that’s awesome. It’s super metal. It’s really fun. We only play 1:40, 2:00 of it. And that was the one we played in Austin, and it just didn’t get a response. So we’ve found that we can sneak ’em in. If it’s something that people won’t know, we’ll do a sample of it, just to give ’em a taste. For the most part, they’re not coming to hear the Queen b-sides, the deep cuts. They wanna hear “Bohemian [Rhapsody]”. We wanna play “Bohemian [Rhapsody]”. And we’re gonna make it a party.

Q: You have a band cell phone number that fans can text. Have you gotten any good HalloQueen-related questions?

A: It’s so funny, most of that is people being like, “Is this real? You’re screwing with me, right?” There hasn’t been a ton of richness of questions yet. So hopefully we’ll get into some more deep conversations. But it’s also a little overwhelming because at any given time there’s 2,000 text messages awaiting response.

Q: Have you seen the Queen + Adam Lambert tour?

A: No, I haven’t. And I don’t know if I want to. I want to for the sake of doing it, but I don’t know what my emotions would be about that. I have very mixed feelings about the Queen movie itself, so I want to maintain some of the shine and glamor of the unknown of the band.

Q: Tell me about your thoughts on the movie.

A: I hated it [laughs]. Hated it, hated it! It’s funny, Jesse, our drummer (who’s the biggest Queen fan of the band), loved it. For him, he was looking at it like, “Are they gonna check all the boxes of the Queen history?” He’s checking the outfits are in chronological order and the albums are in the right order and who wrote “I’m in Love with My Car”. He loved all that nerdy stuff. For me, I wanted to see all the messiness of Freddie Mercury and the reality of the band. And I just didn’t feel like it was there for me.

Q: If you could collaborate with any of the living members of Queen live, who would it be?

A: It would have to be Brian May, right? Just to get those guitar licks. And his guitar writing is out of control. And I would just love to see him and Tommy nerd out and play together on guitar. ’Cause Tommy’s playing those licks in his own way, and I think they could do something real cool together.

Q: Do you have a favorite memory from a past HalloQueen show?

A: My strongest memories are of the first HalloQueens when I didn’t even know how in character I was gonna be, what I was gonna do, if I was gonna talk in an accent. Just getting up there and trying to embody the bravado of Freddie. And I attempted it and loved it. It felt for the first time like I was doing theater, like it wasn’t me on stage – it was me playing a character. And I really loved that.

———–

Jukebox the Ghost will play the NYC edition of their HalloQueen concert at Webster Hall on 10/26, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are sold out from the venue but are still available on Stubhub.

An Interview With Dean Wareham

By Qbertplaya, January 9th 2019

Last month, Dean Wareham (of Luna and Galaxie 500) and Cheval Sombre played the first of their three shows in support of their album, Dean Wareham Vs. Cheval Sombre, at (le) poisson rouge, and our photographer Qbertplaya was there to capture it – and you can find her photos here. She had the opportunity to follow up the show with questions for Dean Wareham, which he kindly answered over email.

Find their full discussion below:

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Qbertplaya: I’m curious about when and how this project was initiated. Had you and Chris Propora aka Cheval Sombre worked together before?

 

Dean Wareham: We have. . .Britta [Phillips] and I played on the first Cheval Sombre albums, produced by Sonic Boom, who was staying at our Manhattan apartment while recording Cheval Sombre out in Jersey City. We added electric guitar and bass, and and we released that album on our Double Feature label.

 

Q: Were you both wholly familiar with the songs that were covered before you decided to make an album together?

 

DW: Not all of them. I had never heard of Blaze Foley till Chris started recording his amazing song “If I Could Only Fly” and I don’t think Chris had heard “The Bend in the River” (originally by Marty Robbins), or “Mountains of the Moon” which was written by my friend Michael Holland.

 

Q: I was listening to the album while riding in a car with my husband, who admittedly does not pay attention to music as much as I do. It surprised me when he started singing along to “Wand’rin’ Star” from the musical Paint Your Wagon, as he generally dislikes musicals. I asked him how he knew that song, and he said he learned it while in middle school choir. Are the ten tracks that appear on the album songs that either of you particularly loved or grew up with and thought it’d be a great idea to cover? Were some of the songs favorites of yours and others Chris favorites? How much of the same sensibility in choosing these songs did you share?

 

DW: On this record, he who sings it chose it! We talked about a “cowboy” album, and maybe I took it more literally; most of the songs I picked were from Hollywood westerns. Chris went with more modern songwriters like Dylan, Townes Van Zandt.

My parents played Marty Robbins album Gunfighter Ballads being played in the house — I imagine a lot of our parents bought that one in the early 1960s. “Wand’rin’ Star” was actually a number 1 hit for Lee Marvin in the UK, on the only song he ever recorded. We should all be so lucky.

 

Q: I also love the inclusion of the more recent “Grand Canyon” by The Magnetic Fields, although it is nearly 20 years old! Were you able to run the track by Stephin Merritt to see what he thought about your rendition?

 

DW: Well that’s one Chris chose and it’s the one song on the record I don’t even play on, it’s all Chris with Jason Quever on the piano. I believe Chris sent Stephin a copy of the album; they both live up the Hudson River in NY State and they run into each other occasionally, but I did not get any feedback on what he thinks. I worked with Stephin way back in the early ‘90s, singing on that first album by the Sixths.

 

Q: So you’re LA-based and Chris is NY-based – how did you coordinate developing this project? In my head, I’m imagining something akin to how Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello aka The Postal Service would mail each other work leading to their album Give Up, a process I found very romantic. Thankfully, technology has improved in the last 15+ years, allowing people to transmit stuff magically over this thing called the Internet. Would you physically get together in one place leading up to the actual recording sessions? I imagine coordination could be difficult with both of you working on other projects as well.

 

DW: Not much happened via the internet, except buying plane tickets . . . Chris flew out here and we recorded as much as we could in a 3-day spell in Jason’s studio in a warehouse in the downtown LA arts district. Then Chris flew home and Jason and Britta and I added extra guitars, violins, percussion etc. The one instrument recorded remotely was the musical saw on “My Rifle My Pony & Me” which was sent in by my friend Gryphon Rue.

 

Q: Were there any songs you care to mention that did not make the final cut?

 

DW: We recorded a few different versions of “Lonesome Cowboy Bill” by the Velvet Underground — this was Chris’s idea. In fact, I had Luna in the studio around the same time and we did a version of it, and released a split 7” with Cheval Sombre on one side, Luna on the other, both doing the song. The only other track that we completed but did not include was “Along the Santa Fe Trail” which again is from an old Hollywood western — that also was released as a one-sided 7” single.

 

Q: In listening to this album, I became interested in checking out the original versions and comparing. I love your final product, which has a consistent, dreamy quality that serves as a soundscape that transports the listener to a place that evokes imagery of westerns. There’s definitely a cinematic quality to hearing the album. You’re no stranger to doing soundtrack work for movies. Are there any particular movies that might have inspired you in producing these songs? Do you have any favorite western movies?

 

DW: I like late-period westerns by Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch) and for music, you can’t beat the spaghetti westerns, so much beautiful music recorded for these by Ennio Morricone and Pino Donaggio and others. For inspiration, I also visited the Gene Autry Museum here in Los Angeles.

 

Q: Lastly, for my own curiosity, can you describe your favorite sandwich? =)

 

DW: Does it have to be just one? As a child growing up in New Zealand and Australia, my mother sent me to school with Vegemite & lettuce sandwiches in my lunch box. That probably sounds awful to you but we liked them. On the other end of the spectrum, one thing I miss about NYC is the brisket sandwich from Katz’s. I lived across the street from there in 2002 and one of those sandwiches was good for lunch and dinner.

 

Last year Brigid Dawson and Oh Sees’ John Dwyer came together last year to release a new OCS record, Memory of a Cut off Head. Next week they will bring the album to life at Mumrr Theatre on Saturday, December 15, that will feature Dwyer and Dawson leading an 8-piece band including current Oh Sees live members Tim Hellman, Paul Quattrone, as well as members of strings.

We recently had the chance to speak to Dawson ahead of the show to discuss the album, her working partnership with Dwyer, what fans can expect from the performance at the Mumrr Theatre, and what else fans can look forward to in the future.

Will: Hi Brigid, how are you today? Where are you located at the moment?

Brigid: Hi there Will, I’m good today. It’s my day off, I’m in San Francisco, and I’ve been doing some cleaning around the house, and rented a couple of movies for tonight. I think it’s going to be What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?…I just saw The Nanny with John when I was in LA, and it was wonderful. Bette Davis is so creepy in it.

W: Before the release of the new OCS record last year, it had been a while since Oh Sees/OCS fans had heard from you. What have you been up to of late?

Well, I’ve still been singing on most of the Oh Sees records, and one of John’s Damaged Bug records, since I stopped touring. I’ve been doing some writing and recording of my own too this year. I’ve been painting and Drawing as usual. And also just learning how to be at home again after ten years spent mostly on the road.

W: Can you tell us about how you and John working together to record Memory of a Cut Off Head and how that album came together?

B: In the beginning of 2017, he asked me if I wanted to make an OCS record with him, I said yes, of course..and it was just a series of really nice visits to his lovely home and studio in Los Angeles, hanging out with the dogs and cats, lots of spectacular sunsets. We did it on his Tascam 388, and he brought some songs, and I brought a few, and we just worked through the singing parts and arrangements together.

W: How does it compare to make a quieter & stranger records with John compared to the more aggressive music that you guys have also made together? Can you discuss the difference in the process?

We had more time doing this record than we ever did before, I feel like most of Thee Oh Sees records were pretty rapid affairs, partly because we were so rehearsed from the road, partly because we recorded live all together mostly, so they would go quick. But Memory of a Cut off Head, was great to record because we had more time to do it, fool around with layering vocals, different voices (trying to sing like a Viking on “On and On Corridor”), and of course all the instrumentation, the Strings, Patrick Mullins coming in with his Saw, and the Synth and Noise bits that he and John did.

W: Your vocals have always been a great compliment to John’s and vice versa. Can you talk about your songwriting relationship and how it has grown to its strongest point with this latest OCS release?

B: Thank you very much, that’s lovely to hear. I love singing with John, and from the beginning of joining OCS, I have trusted his vision completely, really. I knew I was joining a band, that when I was old, regardless of weather anyone I knew liked it or not (and thankfully they did, mostly), I would be proud of the music we made.

John and I have played together for 13 years now, and I think we read each other pretty well. When I first started playing with John, I would would write my own parts, harmony’s, keyboard lines. Often John would have suggestions too about what he wanted to hear. With this record, it was a more shared process, with both of us writing the songs.

W:  Do you miss playing Oh Sees material with John, Pete, and Mike and do you think you guys will ever come back together someday in the future?

B: I do, they are like brothers, and it has been a complete honor to get to play music with them all.

As for if we will all play together again, I cannot say, I have no idea. I think we all just keep moving forward don’t we? Even if you are lovingly casting one eye backwards over your shoulder to the past…

W: You have the upcoming show in Brooklyn at Murmrr Theatre with an 8-piece band. What can fans expect from these shows each night?

B: Probably quite a lot of high-class repartee on Johns part…you can expect Shannon Lay in the opening set, whose voice and playing is utterly showstopping and beautiful, and she may sing a few with us too. And you can expect some real old OCS songs, and maybe a surprise at the end..

W: Are there any plans in the future for more OCS releases with John?

B: I hope so.

W: And finally, what other future projects do you have coming up that fans can look forward to?

B: An album I’ve been recording this year, I’m mixing it now..it should be out next year sometime. It will be my first, on my own, and it’s very exciting.

An Interview With Sunflower Bean

By Will Oliver, December 5th 2018

Sunflower Bean have had an eventful 2018, releasing their critically acclaimed new album Twentytwo in Blue back in March via Mom + Pop Music. They have been touring hard in support of it ever since, including a performance at Bowery Ballroom in April and a free show at East River Park in August.

This Friday they play their largest hometown show to date with a headlining performance at Warsaw (that is presented by Governors Ball). There are still some tickets available for the show that you can buy right here.

We had the chance to interview the band’s Julia Cumming and ask her about touring in support of the record in 2018, some of the best acts they’ve opened for, and what fans can come to expect from their show on Friday.

Find our conversation below and stay tuned for coverage from the show coming very soon.
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An Interview With Erika Spring

By Will Oliver, December 4th 2018

This fall saw Erika Spring (of Au Revoir Simone and Nice As Fuck) return with her new EP Scars, which was released via Cascine.

She celebrated its release on October 4th with a performance at Cascine’s 8th birthday bash at Elsewhere. We had a chance to not only see Spring perform these songs but she was generous enough to spend some time with us backstage to take a few portraits.

We also had the honor of speaking with her more recently, where we discuss topics such as the making of the EP, it’s inspiration and working with David Lynch on an episode of Twin Peaks.

Find our interview with Spring posted below.
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An Interview With Billy Raffoul At Mercury Lounge

By Omar Kasrawi, December 3rd 2018

Photos + Interview By Omar Kasrawi

A guitar, a deep and soulful voice, and an array of tunes designed to pick at the haunting and most intimate moments imaginable was all Billy Raffoul needed to delight a packed Mercury Lounge on November 13th. The 24-year-old Canadian entertained his fans with not just already known songs, but a few that have yet to be released. Oh, and he also made sure they knew just how funny he was as he performed in New York as a headliner for the first time in his career. Before the show, Raffoul sat down with We All Want Someone’s Omar Kasrawi to talk about his career, how he taps into such emotional subjects, his love of New York, and what Stan Lee means to him. Below are excerpts from the interview.
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