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:


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 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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Photos + Interview by Joe Saturday

The last time we saw Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Holly Miranda, she was celebrating the release of her third LP Mutual Horse (released via Dangerbird Records) at the Park Church Co-Op back in March.

Her next headlining show would have taken place in August at The Loft at City Winery, but illness forced that show to be rescheduled for October 25th. Before taking the stage that evening, I briefly had the opportunity to catch up with Holly to discuss topics like the making of her album, her Patreon, and even her plans for the future, among other subjects. Continue below for excerpts from that discussion, Holly’s setlist, and a photo gallery of Holly’s guest-filled performance that evening as well as photos of opening act Tim Mislock.
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English rocker Miles Kane is back with his new album Coup de Grace, out today via Virgin EMI. Last week I had the pleasure of chatting with Kane over the phone. We touched upon the new album, his collaboration with both Jamie T and Lana Del Rey, and his batshit new music video with WWE Superstar Finn Bálor.

Find our conversation transcribed below and note that it has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
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All words and photos by Dutch Doscher

What Mourn has endured over the past few years would have fractured most bands and at first glance that might just be the case.

The day after Mourn entered the United States from Catalonia, Spain, it was pouring rain. There’s angst in this trip back to the US for the largest US tour they have ever done. It’s completely understandable. After a grueling few years of battling their previous record company over mismanagement and non-payment, along with the pouring the rain and their upcoming tour, this has brought up some visible anxiety for this punk band. Leia Rodriguez, their bass player, was having a hard time processing the new world that’s ahead of this band.

Jazz is looking after her sister Leia, Antonio and Carla are chatting under the awning of the record company Captured Tracks as the rain pours around them. MOURN is here in support of their new album. An album they are very proud of and happy to talk about.
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