HESO Magazine

Photography, Music, Film, Hitchhiking, Craft Beer – Cultural Pugilist

Tag: Alternative music


Built To Spill – Untethered Moon

The Beard – EP 115 – Built To Spill by Beard Radio on Mixcloud

Built To Spill - Untethered Moon

Built To Spill – Untethered Moon

Ex-Indie Rock giants Built To Spill have their first new album out in more than six years. It has probably been longer than that since I have heard anything from them. Long off my radio radar due to ODing on them in the second adolescence of my 20s. The late 90s were heady university days of cross-country summer roadtrips following bands and ladies, camping in national park rest stops and avoiding (or attracting) whichever state highway patrol we were trying not to look overly guilty in the eyes of. But we were. Guilty of being young and immature and full of ourselves and probably various pharmacological combinations made all the better by exorbitant amounts of booze. And Built To Spill provided much of the soundtrack for those broke-down romps through the Pacific Northwest.

Despite the age difference, I often felt like I grew up with Built To Spill. And maybe they have grown up as well. Which is not to say that the fine bearded gentlemen you are no doubt grooving to right now are not, nor ever were not, complete musicians in many aspects. How difficult it is to make any kind of scratch on the thick veneer of the music industry, especially out of Boise, ID, these guys are for real. But there was a frivolity to their tunes, maybe to frontman Doug Martsch’s demeanor, which translated to making the music into a more lighthearted affair, at least with Ultimate Alternative Wavers, The Normal Years, There Is Nothing Wrong With Love, Keep It Like A Secret, and Ancient Melodies of the Future. Perfect From Now On is from another planet and I haven’t heard a tune from There Is No Enemy while You In Reverse is fuzzy…

Anyway, Untethered Moon is the first BTS album recorded with new band members Steve Gere (drums) and Jason Albertini (bass), who join vocalist/guitarist Doug Martsch. Untethered Moon was produced by Martsch and Sam Coomes (from the band Quasi). Coomes is a great addition as producer and the promotion of former roadies to rhythm section is a novel and very sound move, which might have signaled a new time in Martsch’s recording life and therefore a breakthrough. Each progressive listen does sound better and better, if not a bit more down to earth.

BTS is touring in support of their eighth studio album, Untethered Moon, which will be released on April 18th exclusively for Record Store Day at all good independent record stores. A very limited-edition quantity of Untethered Moon will be pressed on transparent blue vinyl and will be randomly distributed into the initial run of pressings. The CD and digital editions will be released on April 21st. BTS will continue to tour as the three-guitar army that they have always been with Jim Roth and Brent Netson filling out the line-up.

Built to Spill’s upcoming tour dates:

04/19    Indio, CA                                  Coachella Festival
04/20    Las Vegas, NV                          The Bunkhouse 
05/09    Atlanta, GA                               Shaky Knees Music Fest

NEW Headlining dates:

05/10    Carrboro, NC                             Cat’s Cradle
05/11    Charleston, SC                          Music Farm
05/12    Jacksonville, FL                         Jack Rabbits
05/13    Ft. Lauderdale, FL                     Culture Room
05/14    St. Petersburg, FL                     The State Theatre
05/15    Orlando, FL                               The Social
05/16    Tallahassee, FL                         Sidebar Theater
05/17    New Orleans, LA                        Howlin’ Wolf
05/18    Houston, TX                              Warehouse Live
05/19    Austin, TX                                 Stubbs BBQ
05/20    Dallas, TX                                 Granada Theater
05/21    Oklahoma City, OK                    ACM Performance Lab @ UCO
05/22    St. Louis, MO                            The Ready Room
05/23    Omaha, NE                               Slowdown
05/24    Minneapolis, MN                       Varsity Theater
05/26    Madison, WI                              High Noon Saloon
05/27    Indianapolis, IN                         The Vogue
05/28    Detroit, MI                                 St. Andrews Hall
05/30    Chicago, IL                               Metro
05/31    Grand Rapids, MI                      Founders Brewing Co.

Supporting Death Cab For Cutie:
07/08    Troutdale, OR                            Edgefield Amphitheater
07/09    Bend, OR                                  Les Schwab Amphitheatre
07/11    Berkeley, CA                             Greek Theatre Berkeley

New Music - of Montreal & Harouki-Zombie

New Music – of Montreal & Harouki-Zombie

Asking too many questions never got anyone any answers. Beyond the dull what is the meaning of life and why god why asking questions to yourself whilst sitting alone in a room is more a kind of mental masturbation leading to nowhere. Might as well put some music on that snazzy Bose Digital SoundDock on your desk and ask yourself why it doesn’t sound like vinyl. Which merely begs yet another question: what to play?

If for no other reason that you should be dancing as much as your still young legs can, but you kinda want to rock some funky dance-punk in your skinny jeans, then the latest of Montreal release Daughter of Cloud is exactly what the existential doctor prescribed. 17 tracks of rarities ranging from the days of 2007 yore circa the epic Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? through to 2010’s False Priest, the album is in realty two—the first nine tracks one of unreleased material and the subsequent eight a compilation of tracks previously released on hard-to-find 7”s. Thematically and stylistically as disparate and off-the-wall as rarities albums are, there is a cohesive element to Kevin Barnes iconoclastic meanderings. Simultaneously serious and jovial, an earnest self-consciousness pervades every note, be it tongue-in-cheek electro-funk, pretty twee-pop, or glib dance-punk. Even if it doesn’t make your foot tap and head bob, the lyrics on “Sails, Hermaphroditic” (If I could Dr. Frankenstein (Dr. Funkenstein) the world (if I could change your mind) / Start this bitch anew / I would change the shit out of you) are enough to make you laugh at the world, and your useless self-conscious stall tactics.

New Music – of Montreal & Harouki-Zombie

Rather than arranging the songs chronologically, Barnes sequenced the tracks to take you through a whirlwind of images slap-painted with raucous fury and tinged with fragile emotion. Beginning with genre-mashing up-tempo beats and guitars the 56-minute album eventually dissolves into softer shades and straightforward songs, yet still features the trademark of Montreal cadence-switching sensibility. Even their most accessible single, “Tender Fax” has moments of irreverence, as if it just can’t stand to be three full minutes of radio candy. On the penultimate track, “Noir Blues to Tinnitus” Barnes explores the idea of sound within the human ear without a corresponding external sound, i.e. imagined sound or better put, the noises / voices in our head. It might be a confusing, glam-rocky and hallucinatory place, but listening to the sounds play out from Kevin Barnes’ head is always new and exciting.

New Music - of Montreal & Harouki-Zombie

of Montreal Group Compilation

Much like Harouki-Zombie’s debut EP Objet Petit A, the new project from Orenda Fink (of Saddle Creek’s Azure Ray) and Nina Barnes (of Montreal’s chief album artist). The title track is an immediately infectious beat-driven female whisper-fest that elicits images of dark subterranean European clubs where effortlessly stylish singles dance unselfconsciously in stroby lights. “Soldier’s Gun” continues in this vein while stepping up the tempo and heavy breathing in sexy foreign tongues. Polyviynl Records simultaneous release of Daughter of Cloud and Objet Petit A is no coincidence. There is much crossover. Firstly, Nina Barnes is Kevin Barnes partner in art, music and marriage. Secondly, the male Barnes has penned and lent his production skills on the stylistically similar yet more light-hearted third track, “Vacated Hunters”. The final track “Swamp Theme” is a dancy, trip-hop ode to zombie swagger in double-time. In the era of the portable, the EP would not be complete without not one, but two dark and house-y “Objet Petit A” remixes (digital only).

Daughter of Cloud is available on CD, 2xLP (cyan or black vinyl), cassette (purple tape), and digital formats. Objet Petit A is also available as limited edition hand-numbered purple 2×7″ + MP3. Better not to ask why, just find an online garage sale, buy a vintage turntable and follow the link to the vinyl. It comes with the MP3, so you can still maintain your minimalism.

String Theory Gone Kaputtt

String Theory Gone Kaputtt

In the world of independent music there are no rules. When Bob Dylan was accused of lifting lines directly from Junichi Saga’s Confessions of a Yakuza (Kodansha, 1991) for Love and Theft (Columbia, 2001), people took notice, likely because this was a first for idiosyncratic Google-nerds to have a poke at a giant. Did it change the way Dylan works? Dylan himself has admitted as much that every good artist must borrow, beg and steal from his or her influences. Indeed, “if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”—itself plagiarized from 12th century Bernard of Chartres—is the natural way of things. To say otherwise would negate Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, Newtonian Physics and String Theory, which is to say, everything. Now that the possibility exists that everything can be scrutinized, does that change how we make things, especially art?

Jeff Hassay is hard to pin down as an artist. Is he a musician? A writer? A male model? A conceptual installationist? A d.i.y. foodie who roasts his own coffee and makes multi-vitamins? Composer of the short film score for the film short The Night Girl, player, multi-instrumentalist and composer for three American tours of Mango Productions’ Woven, uncredited engineer on RTX’s Transmaniacon (Drag City, 2004), self-producer of multiple albums of material under the names of Fission Works and Cockfighter, Hassay has now emerged from relative obscurity with a new album, Kaputtt. The album, released on January 24th, 2011—a day before Destroyer’s Kaputt (Merge, 2011)—under the newly dubbed moniker Creator, feels lighter and more off the cuff than Dan Bejar’s late 70s-early 80s tinged synth-pop storytelling. Of course, covering someone else’s mostly unreleased material will do that. As art critic Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer puts it, “So 2011: the cover preceding the original. Injecting a nonlinear hiccup into the historical flow.” Is this how revolutions begin? Not by invading nations with bombs and drones, but by self-immolating fruit vendors and hiccups in the flow?

String Theory Gone Kaputtt

Creator Kaputtt (Hill of Beans Records, 2011)

Kaputtt by Creator (Jeff Hassay, 2011)

Kaputtt by Creator (Jeff Hassay, 2011)

HESO: Where did you come up with the idea to cover an unreleased album?

Hassay: I thought it would be a cool conceptual thing to do, release a cover album before the actual album comes out. Disjunct time. It’s something Philip K. Dick would have done, if he were back from the dead, could play guitar, and liked Destroyer.

HESO: Thinking along the lines of where you come from and where you are going. Your last album, the 2010 Universal Field Theory Blues flows much like Einstein’s own forays into the unification of electromagnetism and gravitation: quiet, yet at times groovy and raucous, but mostly contemplative and ending much before its realized. Beside scientific principles, what else motivates you to create?

Hassay: 12 influences: Pliny the Elder, elder berries, Barry Mannilow, Sweet and Lowdown (Woody Allen, 1999), down in the tube station at midnight, Night on Earth (Jim Jarmusch, 1991), Eartha Kitt, kittens with string, String Theory (or the lack thereof), Theodore Roosevelt, Arise Therefore (Palace Music, 1996), formative years (including these now).

HESO: What’s your next project?

Hassay: My next musical project (literally) is a dubstep concept album about Teddy Roosevelt. The new band shall be called “_ship” pronounced “spaceship” and the album will probably be The Rise and Demise of Theodore Roosevelt. I want to do some of it acoustically. I have three poems for you:

summertime (in my mind)
you are now part of this

invite me
your pool party

oh teenage girl
swing that pillow at your pig-tailed friend
for the glory of god

Jeff Hassay might be so talented in so many different fields that unifying them all may prove—as Einstein found—too much to take on in the short time allotted to him, to each of us. For if we research all of the esoteric influences on every one of Dylan’s or anyone’s albums, we might find ourselves bound too closely by Heisenberg’s Principle of Uncertainty to affect not only what we do, but how it is done. So how then do we know if Schroedinger’s Cat is dead? How do we hear the lessons of life’s rich bounty without polluting it with our own desirous clamor? Realizing that Shiva the Destroyer, is also the Creator, might be the first step. The next one might simply be to hear with our hearts rather than merely listening with our ears.

Download Kaputtt by Creator
Links to Jeff Hassay’s previous work:

A Way You’ll Never Be (Masterpiece in Four Parts)

Fujirock Festival – Sideshows Steal The Show

Two questions are typically asked surrounding Fujirock: “Are you going?” and “How was it?” Recently the answer to the first has been yes, while the answer to the second generally begins with “Wet” and gets more complicated from there. Despite the weather perpetually being an issue during the three-day megafest in the mountains of Yuzawa, a little known town in rural Niigata, the mainstay of the now 13 year-old music festival is almost always the sideshows. So a fan would be excused if they were lured to the expensive midsummer exposition upon hearing that the likes of Oasis, Weezer, and Franz Ferdinand were headlining, but despite often disappointing sets by Green stage acts it’s the smaller, more carnival stages which hold the real untold treasures, just waiting to be discovered by the intrepid, if muddied, troubadour festival-goer.

Fujirock Festival – Sideshows Steal The Show

Fujirock Festival - Sideshows Steal The Show

Swedish gypsy punk band Räfven electrifies the audience at Fujirock

Truth is with over two hundred acts spanning the twelve or so stages it’s impossible to see everyone you would like to, or even a fraction of the talented musicians from all over the globe coalescing in the pine tree scented paradise of Naeba. So you pick, you choose, you try to schedule, but often you end up guessing or just plain stuck due to traffic jams, sudden downpours and mud delays. Sometimes these forays into chance take you toward the mini Naeba Shokudo stage on the edge of the Oasis foodcourt, sandwiched between the massive Green and more club-like Red Marquee stages, to happen upon bands like The Inspector Cluzo, a duet of drums and guitar who seem to have the classic bluesy-soul guitar rock highlighted with vocal bird call arpeggios sound down to a beautiful science. Or to the Orange Court, the farthest of the big stages (which was to host All-Night Fuji on Friday but had been turned into a field study in rainwater collection) to discover the gypsy jamband folk-punk stylings of Räfven (who performed an astonishing nine times), a infectively rabid band of street musicians all the way from Gothenburg. The Orange Court is also a place where someone like Juana Molina’s immense talent and ethereally disturbing voice and intricate instrumentation goes unappreciated on Sunday afternoon. Yet on Saturday evening in the more intimate Gypsy Avalon, it’s perfectly accompanied with a bit of wine from the nearby Organic Village and a space on the- shock and awe- semi-dry grass!

By far the best place to be a fan in the front is the Red Marquee, which was the only dry place in town all weekend. Potential electrocution might explain why Dinosaur Jr., who unloaded at least five more Marshall stacks on top of the already well-endowed PA equipment on hand, was scheduled to close the covered tent Saturday night. Not only is J. Mascis’ guitar – a massive wave of undulating sound wrapped in distortion in perfect time and balance to bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph- the loudest thing I’ve ever heard, it’s one of the most beautiful and melodic. Sadly, a few songs before they undoubtedly encored, I made a break for Public Enemy at the White Stage, headlining arguably the best stage / lineup combination of the entire weekend (Melvins, Zazen Boys, Bad Brains). Despite missing Flava Flav and Professor Griff due to “visa problems”, Chuck D promised a “real hip-hop show” and if the audience’s reaction was any indication, him promising to play their second studio LP It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back in its entirety (broken up only by a tribute to MJ, name dropping various websites – publicenemy.com, rapstation.com, and introducing a new artist) was the performance they were waiting for.

Fujirock Festival - Sideshows Steal The Show

Band Member Teaches Crowd to Live Tweet During Bright Eyes final show at Fujirock

Starting off well is paramount to lasting on your feet all day and into the night, and the best way to do that is by taking the Dragondola, which claims to be the world’s longest gondola lift (despite that not being true), for a ride. Lasting about 15 minutes and not only soaring 5.5 km toward the 1800-meter high Mt. Takenoko, it provides a much needed and breeze-filled getaway from the muddied hordes milling about like so many insects below. As the early afternoon creeps closer and the big names crawl out of their luxury hotel suites to fulfill their 50-minute sets, hitting the airlift back down the hill and grabbing a couple of the tastiest and cheapest beers at the festival from Tokyo Brewing Company is a must before braving the over-crowded walkways for the likes of frenetic rock Nordlander Ida Maria and her succinct pop-punk ditties or the fragile-looking Nick Cave cohort Rowland Howard whose snaky, smoky, whiskey-honed voice will do things to you long after he exits stage left. And then there’s Bright Eyes who, according to Conor Oberst, is not a band anymore. So their appearance at Fujirock was part of a “one-night world tour”, and will disband after the release of their next album. All this didn’t seem to bother the largely perplexed and oddly small audience gathered to hear the strong Saturday afternoon set in the Red Marquee tent. What was confusing was the attractive young lady sitting in a chair, texting, twittering, and occasionally giggling, next to the caterwauling Oberst (who can pull some truly interesting sounds from a simple acoustic guitar), working the crowd up into mini Midwest tornadoes of passion, ennui and release until finally, our mystery lady pulled out her voice -alongside Mike Moggis’ Cornet- and stole the show. Sayonara Bright Eyes.

Fujirock Music Festival

Fans Reach Out to Touch Peaches as She performs an out of her ind set at Fujirock

Other notables were Tortoise, DJ Towa Tei, Longwave, Simian Mobile Disco and the standout State Circus of Mongolia. Glam and electronica rocker Peaches wins for most mouth-wateringly fruitlike S&M-ish costumes, fuck you swagger and stage presence, the longest stage dive (that I was witness to) while maintaining the song’s chorus (“Harder, harder”) perfectly, and just overall raw sexual energy and love of music. As the forty-plus year old Merrill Nisker (backed by the Herms) deftly maneuvered her hour-long set to the audience’s rapt glee, in support of her latest album, I Feel Cream, no one was thinking, “Hmmm, who’s on at the Green stage?”

Holy Fuck opening for the Airborne Toxic Event on the White Stage was an auspicious beginning to Sunday which turned out to peak with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s powerful set (see full gallery of CYHSY photos) of first album classics interspersed with a few newer tunes before petering out with Animal Collective’s introspective- at times masturbatorial- and overly hyped performance. By the time Röyksopp Nordic electro-magnetic vibes began spewing forth I had the good fortune to catch a guitarless Rivers Cuomo crooning the classic “My Name Is Jonas” while simultaneously being bitten by several ticks before passing out from three days of mud and blood, sweat and bugs, and of course lots of great side acts who deserve main stage attention. Like Räfven, Juana Molina, Diplo, Comeback My Daughters, Wilko Johnson, Justin Nozuka, Soil & “Pimp” Session, The Inspector Cluzo, Zaz and Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, among many others, who made multiple showings across three days in what feels more like an attempt to fill time slots than any genuine desire on the part of the lower echelon of artists’ to extend their stay. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but among other possibilities, it could be they weren’t invited to play at Fujirock’s sister festival in Korea, the Jisan Valley Rock Fest, like scores of other larger names were. Enough politics, the fans scream, give us more music. No problem.

Fujirock Festival - Sideshows Steal The Show

Patti Smith live at Fujirock

Ebony Bones takes home best costumes and most color amid the rock-steady downpours of Friday at the Green Stage. Despite hearing that Oasis wasn’t that bad (I couldn’t bring myself to actually watch) and stripping White Stage headliners The Neville Brothers of any audience whatsoever, the Green Stage redeemer is by far Patti Smith, who put on one of the more powerful performances I’ve been witness to at a festival. Shame that it came on Friday afternoon, as she seems as confident as ever, spitting and smiling alongside longtime guitarist Lenny Kaye and surprise guest Tom Verlaine. She sang as sure of voice as the wind pushing the sheets of rain down on the thousands gathered, watching her stomp through guitar romps and shake her trademark black beanie in the air declaring, “this one’s for the children!” amid dedications to Haile Selassie and MJ. Ending with the explosive “Rock and Roll Nigger,” aided by Verlaine’s intricate guitar work, Smith can still go blow for blow with the biggest names and walk away smiling.

Rumor has it Naeba’s days of hosting the popular festival are over and the days of Fujirock being nowhere near Mt. Fuji may be at an end. Who knows where the roving Japanese festival will end up? Likely I will be asked, “Are you going?” to which I will undoubtedly say yes (if I can hitch a ride out there…) and to the always difficult to answer, “How was it?” I’ll likely say, worth the time, effort and extraneous cash, if you should have it.

Ed Rodriguez of Deerhoof plays guitar live at The Liquid Room in Tokyo

Deerhoof Tokyo Interview

On paper they read like a relatively run-of-the-mill, up and coming alternative rock band: two guitars, bass, drums, female vocalist all playing their hearts out for an eclectic independent label from backwoods, USA. Yet Deerhoof is not your typical San Francisco band. Nor is KRS (Kill Rock Stars) your typical label. Though somehow the two are a perfect fit, Deerhoof ranking as the all-woman-run, Olympia-based label’s oldest and best-selling act. Originating as a drums and guitar duo in the mid-90s, it has taken over ten years, ten albums and ten (or so) musicians rotating in and out to solidify the current four-member lineup (Drummer Greg Saunier, Satomi Matsuzaki (Vocals/Bass), John Dieterich (guitar) and Ed Rodriguez (guitar)) into the band that Radiohead, for one, likes listening to.

The classically trained Greg Saunier, fresh out of Conservatory, got into the Bay Area music scene with Nitre Pit, a short-lived quartet, where he met bassist Rob Fisk, the other founding member of what would eventually become Deerhoof. Nitre Pit broke up and, suddenly a rhythm-heavy duet, they nonetheless fulfilled their remaining dates, one of which had a young Slim Moon, the founder of Kill Rock Stars, in the audience.

In typical Rock and Roll Dream fashion, they were signed after the show to produce the first of Deerhoof’s numerous recordings. When HESO sat down with the band on their recent mini-Japan tour, Greg had this to say about how many lives has the band been through.”A zillion (laughs). If we count the time some guy came dressed as Milkman (Milkman, Kill Rock Stars 2004) to a show and jumped on stage, that’s its own lineup for one night. Every time we do a record or make up a song it actually does feel like we get a new life, radically changing the way we work.”

It wasn’t until 1996 or so when the band set into place the distinctive skeleton of the modern Deerhoof by adding the diminutive Satomi Mastuzaki, just off the Tokyo boat to San Francisco and looking for adventure. Besides Matsuzaki’s high-pitched voice adding a pleasingly disjunctive aspect to the duet’s oft-improvised artrock, she tempered their tonal testosterone with a demure yet powerful cuteness, not to mention a rhythmic bass once Fisk left in 1999. Thus beginning the band’s love affair with Japan.

Satomi Mastuzaki of Deerhoof plays Live at The Liquid Room in Tokyo

Satomi Mastuzaki of Deerhoof plays Live at The Liquid Room in Tokyo

Deerhoof Tokyo Interview/h2>

HESO: How many times have you toured in Japan? And what are your overall thoughts about touring here?

DH: “6 or 7. Usually more than once per album. Including Fujirock (2007) this is our third tour on this album (Friend Opportunity, Kill Rock Stars 2007). Japan’s music world takes care of a band in quite a different way. There’re more stagehands than people in the band and the room is what would pass for a smallish venue back home, but the PA system and lights, just incredible care. We have a very skewed perspective on it. We get invited and everything’s taken care of. We are the honored guests.”

Deerhoof are notorious for not giving straightforward answers to interviewers, though when HESO met them on a strangely cool June day in Shibuya, they were all ears and mouths, talking incessantly about their new album, Offend Maggie (Kill Rock Stars 2008) and whether creating new material, songs, albums, is a process of touring or more this revolving lineup or both.

“It’s not necessarily to do with touring, since music comes from someplace that’s unpredictable‚ it’s a matter of allowing your music to follow where your imagination is telling you to go and having an idea of what that’ll be tomorrow.” said Greg.

John Dieterich, who entered the band in 1999 and whose savant-esque guitar gave rise to the creation of their next album, Reveille, which caused many seminal bands the likes of Sonic Youth and the aforementioned Radiohead, to take note of, added, “It’s also affected by who you see every night. You have to react. If you feel something, you’re constantly reevaluating how you approach it‚ we’re touring with the Tenniscoats and XIU XIU right now and they’re such different bands. But the most valuable experience as a musician, for me is touring and seeing new and different bands all the time. You get to see different kinds of depth. You’re experiencing it as it happens and it’s penetrating all other aspects of your life, not just playing or recording, but it’s life. It’s human.”

HESO: How do you guys come to an album? Is it a collaboration or does, for example, Satomi always come with lyrics?

Greg: It’s magic if we come up with anything at all. If we finally think it’s good, well, why is that? I don’t know how we stumble upon it. Trying a different process every song‚ I’m always amazed that the well doesn’t run dry. I always think, well, that’s it. That’s probably my last song. I wouldn’t know how to find it if I had to, there are no rules, no system, no precedent to follow. Just guessing and making it up as you go along.

John: It’s an intuitive process. In any given city in the US, there’s no system set up other than family. Theoretically there’re schools indoctrinating everyone, but that’s completely different for everyone.

Greg: In my school 2 + 2 is 4.

HESO: Well, being left-handed we had to write that backwards. I didn’t like that.

Greg: Tom Cruise said that Scientology cured his Dyslexia. (Laughs)

Deerhoof in Tokyo (Manny Santiago)

Deerhoof in Tokyo

HESO: He probably meant that Dyslexia cured his Scientology. Moving on. Ed, what was the process of you entering the band?

Ed: John and I have known each other for about 15 years, been playing music for about that long and we were in a band
together in Minneapolis. The first time I heard Deerhoof was when he sent recordings. I was so happy John was playing, it was so perfect. That was 1999.

HESO: Do you walk into the studio with a time limit, say two weeks, to get it all done?

John: Instead of going for a long stretch of time, we went in one day in March, and our original idea was to record the whole album and we were sure it would be so easy. We ended up getting four (tracks), one of which we canned. We ended up going back in a month later and recorded and went through the rest of everything.

Ed: The thinking is that we should really do everything ourselves. Greg & John have such a developed sense of mastering sound and working with recordings that as a band we try not going outside of it as much as possible. It seems incredibly foreign, the idea of putting that much care into writing material and recording and then hand it to someone else, wait a while and get it back. If you can dedicate yourself to all aspects then.

John: It’s pretty amazing the things you can do.

Deerhoof’s latest album, Offend Maggie, comes out in October and they already have January dates in Japan to support it. Why not support them?

Check out the Interview with Deerhoof and a review of their latest album La Isla Bonita.

Deerhoof Live In Tokyo

Deerhoof Live In Tokyo – Photos of the Indie band Deerhoof live at The Liquid Room in Ebisu, Tokyo

Scroobius Pip Live in London (George Bull)

Scroobius Pip – The Interview


“They say a picture’s worth a thousand words/ so with this thousand words/ I‘ll paint a picture in your mind that breaks the rule of thirds…” sound the first lines of Scroobius Pip’s album opener “1000 Words”. “Anyone can write a poem if you’ve got something to say,” he says when we meet before one of his recent London shows. Be that as it may, not everyone can stand and deliver like Scroobius Pip. Each time I revisit his self-released debut album No Commercial Breaks, I find a new reason to call everyone I know and tell them to get hold of it. A genuine wordsmith, ladies & gentlemen: this here Scroobius Pip might just be the most refreshingly original artist in the UK at the moment.

Actually, let’s take a long step back…

I meet him at The Pool, a dark lit bar in London’s East end Shoreditch. He’s due to play a gig tonight at the Strongrooms – an intimate affair given the small space, and it’ll just be him and the 6”2 Pianist this eve (Pip beat boxing into a loop peddle with 6”2 adding a rift, then coming in with the vocal) pushing his solo work, no Dan Le Sac with whom the first single “Thou Shalt Always Kill” is due out this month on LEX Records. He arrives just after 8pm clad in his trademark suit, skinny tie, and beard – that looks like it’s there for religious reasons he tells me – “I originally wanted a tight eighties moustache, but Hitler’s really got a captive market with that one.” He asks for a tap water (“very rock n roll, I know,” he says with a smile, sitting down).

Pip’s work is hip-hop, it’s jazz, it’s a cappella, but he is first and last a poet. The name in fact comes from the Edward Lear poem “The Scroobius Pip” – a man himself famous for his often nonsensical poetry. Scroobius himself is excellent company – effortlessly polite yet he’s bursting with enthusiasm and despite his sincere modesty, I’m also struck by a quiet confidence in him. He tells me he doesn’t really get nervous before gigs because his stuff is written as spoken word, to be SPOKEN and so if it’s sitting on the page, it’s not doing what it should be. Like the song “Angles” about a young guy who commits suicide after a run in with a security guard and whose brother then sets out to avenge him – “I wanted to write something that wasn’t just linear narrative, but made the listener respond like a viewer does to scenes in a film, characters expressing different points of view.” Originally recorded with a live jazz band on his solo album, this tune has now been blended with beats from friend Dan Le Sac and it may well prove to be this version that brings his sharp social commentary to a wide audience over the coming year.

He’s eager to talk about his influences and passionate about up and coming British artists he’s into at the moment like Kate Nash and Adele London. Spoken word artist Gil Scott Heron “was a big influence” – Saul Williams and Sage Francis are heroes. The history of this here Scroobius Pip shows a man with fresh ideas, who only a year ago made the decision to get his music out there – “this is still my rookie year.” Having made management at HMV then came decision time: “am I going to just keeping talking about my music or go out there and do it?” So he set off in his 1987 Space Cruiser and toured the country for a month doing street performances. He would check the listings and find out who was playing – people like Mr Scruff, the kind of gigs that would attract people who might appreciate the well-crafted spoken word offerings of Pip. He would just pitch up, set up a mic and give the punters a free gig before they got inside the venue to watch artists that Scroobius himself admired. “I was never a fan of the local band scenario. I didn’t play a gig in my hometown for ages, I wanted to get a genuine reaction on my stuff from people I didn’t know, strangers. First performance ever was outside a Buck 65 gig in Camden – I was outside doing my stuff and giving out flyers. Whatever happens Ill always keep doing spoken word,” he reassures me – “that’s where my roots are.”

Scroobius Pip (George Bull)

Scroobius Pip

Collaboration with Dan Le Sac came about more recently: the pair had known each other for years, though weren’t close mates at the time. Originally both photographers, they shared a big appreciation for underground label LEX Records, so when Dan remixed one of Scroobius’s tracks something clicked. XFM’s John Kennedy and Radio 1’s Rob da Bank picked up the demo for “Thou Shalt Always Kill” and championed it on their shows. The combined radio exposure and build up of public support led to more gigs and eventually the current release. Right now they’re both incredibly excited about forthcoming projects together, as well as the very real possibility of getting signed for an album deal.

“LEX Records was a huge honour. Dan and I both said even if our careers ended tomorrow we would be happy just to be able to hold up the LEX vinyl with our names on it.” In fact Scroobius had originally sent them his individual album – they liked it but didn’t think it was right for LEX. For now he’s putting a hold on his solo material, though it isn’t a case of this being separate to his work with Dan, there are certainly crossovers and he just focuses on whatever side of things are exciting him most at the time – and right now it’s the stuff with Le Sac: “We have an album worth. And we’re working fast – the buzz we’re getting from it all at the moment we could probably put it together in a couple of weeks given the chance!” For “Thou Shalt Always Kill” –Dan sent him the beats and he adapted a poem he had half written, recorded the vocal and sent it back within the hour. “It’s a list poem so it’s easy for people to get straight into it.” A list of commandments as an antidote for the wounds of a generation fed on tabloid news and the guns, bitches and bling scenario. They’d love to release another favourite live track – “Letter from God” using Radiohead’s “Planet Telex”, but that really depends on Radiohead. The pair want to be respectful and have stopped it from playing on the radio until they can approach the band for permission.

Our interview wraps up after 40 minutes or so and he asks if I’m going to come down to his show at the Shoreditch Strongrooms. I accept and head down. The little bar, it reminds me of poetry reading – and there’s Scroobius in the corner talking to the 6”2 pianist, bowling past, excited that all the artists and friends he’s mentioned during the evening are here to see him play “See, people will go anywhere for a free gig” he says, smiling.

To check out Dan le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip, this summer’s British Festival Goers would be wise to hit Bestival 2007 on the Isle of White.

  • Thou Shalt Always Kill by Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip is available to download from ITunes now and on 7” from LEX Records.
  • To listen to Angles and Letter From God check out www.myspace.com/danlesacvsscroobiuspip
  • Scroobius Pip’s solo album No Commercial Breaks is available via www.scroobiuspip.co.uk

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