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Marky Edison Interviews Lugosi In Advance Of Dublin's Musictown Event

 

This is the fourth year that I’ll be hosting an event for the Musictown Festival in the Music Library, Dublin. Previously we’ve had Mongrel State, Kicking Bird, Naoise Roo, Hvmmingbyrd, The Motives and Cult Called Man. This year we’ve got an electro act, No More Questions and the horror/fantasy inspired rock of Lugosi. I’ll be leading the Q&A between their live sets so I thought I’d get a head start and have a chat with the Reverend JM Burr from Lugosi. We meet in the library a month before the show.

“There aren’t enough places like this. I was working with a guy who was bumming me out and I didn’t get on with. There were only two of us in the office. I was trying to teach myself more theory and I discovered that the Music Library has a piano here so I spent every lunch on a Thursday here just running through scales, expecting that that would transfer over to the music theory that I was going to follow up with. It didn’t help. That’s my experience of playing in a library. I’ve gone to a number of things in the room here. My friend is a librarian in London and has to go on all these ‘Save The Library’ marches. It makes no sense.”

The two bands will be playing a set together to close the show. “On Soundcloud, they [No More Questions] have genres for each of their tracks. One says ‘dubstep’ and the beats are very interesting.  Then there’s another one for ‘pop’ and it’s nothing I’d listen to. It should be an interesting show. I have an idea for where it’s going to go. We’re saying we’ll do an original song together, a drone-y jam number and then a cover. Even if we don’t get it right, we’ll still get it right. They seem like they’ll be comfortable in whatever modality of music. If we spend two or three hours in a room and make a soundscape together that could be good. Rather than a ‘1-2-3-Go!’ That mightn’t work for us. It’s musical impressionism.”

“Several years ago, around Halloween time, I got a note in my door from a neighbour. It said “I’ve seen you play. I like the way that you sing and growl and front your other band. Let’s get together and make some music.” We didn’t have a drummer at the time, so it was the bass player and myself, the singer. We got a guitarist and we knew who we wanted for the drums. My brother-in-law, who had been playing drums in one of my other bands. We got a drummer from metalireland.com; he was a very good drummer but we just really wanted Jimmy. There’s nothing wrong with his drumming but he wasn’t Jimmy.”

“I had a number of songs that I had written originally for a punk band when I was just out of high school. We were called The Red Skulls. We recorded some songs and the ones that I had written the words and music to, we threw in for Lugosi to get us started. Then we started writing other tunes as a group. Generally speaking, they were all inspired by horror movies, science fiction, TV references, campy horror, serious horror, but it’s all in the spirit of fun.”

“Myself and Neil are big fans of The Misfits. The first time I heard them I was thirteen years old. I just could not believe what I was hearing. The other punk I’d heard up to that point wasn’t very good. It wasn’t very interesting. With a lot of American hardcore, I just don’t like the singing. It’s not very musical.  Everybody loves Black Flag but they never had great singers. Musically fantastic, and Rollins did so much after but it never appealed to me. I prefer the more musical singing like Bad Religion. A lot of people are turned off by that because it is very melodic but, for me, the musical singing, coupled with interesting growly stuff, really makes for something I like to listen to. And I like to make music that I want to listen to.”

“We’re going to release an album soon. We’re putting the finishing touches on it at the beginning of April. Pressing is a thing from the past but I love the idea of a physical product so even a small run that we could have just for gigs. It’ll be a 10-track album with nine originals and an instrumental, a gargantuan instrumental called ‘Galactus’. There’s songs about vampires, about shape-shifting native American witches, plain old run-of-the-mill witches. There’s a song about Ash Vs Evil Dead, ‘Groovy, Baby’.  There’s one about Twin Peaks. A lot of people don’t consider that horror but I think it’s the height of horror. This is the guy who made Eraserhead after all.”

Lugosi and No More Questions play The Music Library, Dublin on Saturday April 13 from 2.30 – 4.30 pm. This is an all-ages show and tickets are free from Eventbrite here.

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Captain Stavros Interviews & Watches Cousin Kula

'Who or what are Cousin Kula (@CousinKula)?' you might be wondering to yourself, and rightfully so, I too had the same question on my lips about a year and a half ago. I'd put on Still Corners for background noise while I re-wrote some notes for class. After a few tracks however YouTube's algorithm had a hiccup and jumped artists putting on a track I didn't recognize, I'd soon come to know it as 'Working For It'. I had no idea who these guys were but I was instantly hooked and wanted to learn more. Studying now placed firmly on the back-burner with curiosity leading the charge, I pop open DICE and sure enough CK is touring. They're playing Servant Jazz Quarters in a couple of weekswhich is practically around the corner from me, kismet! I book a ticket and reluctantly get back to studying. 

If you've never been before SJQ is an intimate venue. Nestled in the heart of Dalston is a pocket universe where you can catch some of London's finest jazz and other genres in an eclectic setting. The music is always in the basement, which reminds me of the bowels of an old clipper ship, lots of exposed giant wooden load baring beams. Anyway. A few things from that evening really stuck with me. The opening band for example was Be Good (@BeGoodIsABand) who played a cover of Roy Orbison's 'Crying' I never knew I needed. Another was telling a dude with the hair of a wild man, only later to learn it was Jordan (Lead Guitar of CK) to be quiet so I could hear the song, and then regretting I'd opened my fat mouth when he took the stage. Finally I remember CK coming on, and like the rest of the audience, being well impressed. Everyone was chanting MORE MORE MORE by the end but Elliot (Lead Vocal/Rhythm Guitar) in a remorseful hushed tone said, 'sorry we can't because we don't have any more songs to play', disappointing but fair enough.   

It's now March 2019 and CK are touring again with a whole volley of new material. Over the years I kept tabs on the group and was looking forward to seeing them again, but how would my experience compare to the previous? We've all been guilty of romanticizing the past and maybe even embellishing how wonderful it really was. It was a risk I was willing to take, no risk no reward. I'm now lurking about the Lexington, tonight's venue. I catch (wait in the shadows for) Elliot coming down the stairs after Cousin Kula's soundcheck and say 'hey, I'm the weirdo that's been in touch over Instagram for a low-key interview before or after the gig tonight, we still on?' They oblige. Elliot asks me to join the guys outside on an already full picnic table in the smoking area outside the Lexington on a crisp and dark March evening. The table is full and the one seat that's available I give over to Elliot and say I'll just crouch down and I'm cool with that, it'll also help me keep the interview brief. 'Naw mate, we can all move over' everyone moves over and I grab a seat next to Doug (Synths/Sax). The vibe is all inclusivity and I'm not even sure what I've done to build what feels like an instant rapport. I ask if it's okay to record the interview and off we go so without further adieu let's get started because it's a fun one. James (Percussion) is running late and can't participate. Side-note it's really hard to remember who said what exactly so when an answer was unanimous or inseparable/indecipherable by individual member I'll preface with 'Cousin Kula', enjoy (I know I did). 

Captain: I'm not in the habit of asking music related questions, I mean I might slip up and toss one out, but I'm more focused on asking random questions to know more about the people that make the music I already like, I hope you're okay with that? 

Cousin Kula: No problem 

Cpt: So first question is, what questions do you not want/hate to be asked? 

Cousin Kula: I guess we'll just see as we roll? If we don't like it we'll be like, naah, next. An irritating one is how would you describe your sound? (Someone) Ah yeah, that's a bad one. (Someone else) What kind of underwear are you wearing? 

Cousin Kula: Hey, that's a good one! 

Cousin Kula: You wouldn't want to be asked that. 

Cpt: That's a great question, I'll take it! What kind of underwear is everyone wearing? I'll go first, blue with white polka dots. 

Cousin Kula: Wow, you actually know? That's amazing! 

Inner Monologue: Is it though? 

Cpt: How do you not know? 

There's almost zero hesitation as everyone starts to dig into their waistbands yelling out random things like. 

Ollie: Turquoise 

Elliot: Black, I think it's always black. 

Cpt: For the record, everyone's wearing underwear. 

Elliot: But you've got the best pair on. 

Cpt: Thanks, but tomorrow's are my favourite. 

Doug: You've already got them picked out, are they on the radiator or something? 

Cpt: Nope, straight outta the package, brand new. Wait, do we wash new underwear or just throw it right on? 

Cousin Kula:  Right on, straight out, that crisp outta the package feeling. What are they? 

Cpt: Dinosaurs with cowboys riding them. 

Cousin Kula: OoOoOOOo VERY nice. 

Cpt: Okay, first real question. Cats, Dogs or Other? 

Doug looks up from writing setlists: Boring! 

(laughter) 

Cpt: Okay, next question. Are lucky numbers a thing? 

Cousin Kula: No? I dunno, is luck a thing? 

Things get almost too philosophical but before they can ... 

Elliot: Wait, 4:20 is. All our songs at the moment are around 4:20 (open to interpretation). 

My eye catches to my left that the setlist are still being drawn up but that's not a dig because Doug is still fully engaged in the interview.   

Cpt: Side-note guys, could I grab a setlist off you? 

Doug: What, you want me to just write you one out now? 

I ponder the request for a moment as a serious question, have I passed the audition, do I get to play the triangle in the group now? Then the laughter comes roaring in and I'm snapped back into reality. 

Cpt: Nah, nah, of course not (convincing tone) I mean after the set. 

Doug/Elliot: Of course. 

Cpt: Okay, music related one. If you could put your music in a film, past present or future, what would it be? 

Will takes the lead/Cousin Kula: OooOoo, that's a good one! 

Cpt: You would not believe what a lead balloon this question is but I find myself not being able to give up on it. 

Will: Wes Anderson is pretty cliché, but I'd love our music to be in a Wes Anderson flick. 

Elliot: I think it'd be cool to be an animated film. 

Cousin Kula: SHREK SHREK. 

Elliot: With our sort of sound something animated is a bit more fun. 

Jordan: Toy Story. 

Elliot: The next avatar (everyone laughs at this). 

Cpt: I said I was going to ask only a few questions but seeing as we're on a roll here can I keep going? 

Cousin Kula: Yes, go for it. 

Cpt: You want it, you got it. Board Games or Video Games? 

Cousin Kula: OoOOOoO 

Oliver: Used to be video games when I was a teenager, but now it's board games. 

Elliot: Yeah it's definitely board games. 

Jordan: Video games for me, yea. 

Cpt: I think it's gone the opposite way for me used to be board games now it's video game. I'm with you Jordan, video games. 

Oliver: Settlers of Catan. 

Cpt: Excuse me? 

Oliver: Settlers of Catan, that was my summer basically. 

Cpt: Sorry dude, is that a board game or a video game? 

Oliver: Board game. 

Cpt: Sounds very Risk like. 

Doug: It's basically like Risk, on a board. 

Elliot: except you don't lose any friends. 

Cpt: Wait, Risk is on a board (I lose my composure with laughter unfit of a gentleman). 

Doug: No wait, it's like Age of Empires on a board I mean (classic). 

Elliot: We have a little set up in our house for like, uhm, old school board games. 

Cpt: wait, wait, you guys all live together? 

Oliver: Yeah, we all live together, 4 of us in 1 house where we rehearse and 2 of us in another house down the road. 

I reminisce with the boys that in my younger days I thought it was standard that all bands lived together and that this caused me a great deal of embarrassment at one time. I ended up writing to Aerosmith, the whole band, at an address I found in one of their jewel cases. I even drew a Corvette from a 'Learn To Draw' book I'd purchased from the book fair at school. I got a letter back which I collected during my lunch and ran back to school winded to open it in front a crush I had on a girl in my 5th grade class, one who was also an Aersosmith fan. Turned out it was just a merch catalog. I wanted to crawl into a hole and die, pretty sure I need therapy to resolve these feelings. 

Cpt: Okay, next question, do you remember your first rated R movie? 

Elliot: Pulp Fiction. 

Jordan: Reservoir Dogs. 

Elliot: Actually I think mine was Jeepers Creepers. 

Douglas: I think mine was Kill Bill? 

Cpt: Kill Bill, circa 2001, no 2003 Kill Bill? 

Douglas: Yeah? 

 Cpt: Wow dude, how old are you? I've gotta do some self reflection. 

Everyone laughs because I've blown it officially, I'm the old dude at the table telling the kids to get off my lawn! 

Oliver: OoOoo I think mine was Lock Stock And 2 Smoking Barrels. 

Cpt: You can't just make things up Oliver, this is a factually based interview! 

The tide turns on Oliver, everyone except for Oliver is heard saying: YEAH YEAH YEAH! 

Cpt: I didn't get one from you Will, you're awfully quiet over there. 

Will: I don't think mine was even a rated 18, it was something like Blair Witch Project, it wasn't even Rated R, probably a 15 or something. 

Cpt: Even if it wasn't rated R it should've been because it fucks you up (it fucked me up). 

Elliot: It is, it is, It's fucking scary. 

We went back and forth here talking about Korean and Japanese horror. 

Elliot: Jordan's into his films. 

Cpt: Jordan, is this true? Any particular reason why? 

Jordan: My Mum's into her films, growing up me and her watched a lot of them and I was watching '80s horrors from a younger age. We always used to go to the cinema together too and I just sorta grew up in the cinema. My Grandad's an actor so ... 

Cpt: Wow there, anybody we know? 

Jordan: Yeah...maybe? 

Elliot: It's British TV, do you know Zippy and George? He was their voices. 

Cpt: Oh yeah, I know them, they're the ... 

Cousin Kula: yeah yeah yeah. 

Jordan: He's a Dalek as well. 

Cpt: WHAAAAAAT? Oh yeah, just a Dalek, I thought I recognized the telescopic arm family resemblance there Jordan. 

(Laughter) 

Elliot: I met him once, we'd go around his house and he'd be smoking cigars, Jordan would be smoking cigars with him. 

I look over at Jordan and his eyes have become half moon crescents of nostalgia as he brims with a huge smile and I can totally envision a miniature version of him just puffing away smoking rings on his Dalek Grandad's lap. I stop the interview at this point because I feel like my line of questioning has trekked into personal territory. It's not that I wouldn't have loved to have kept the recording going but the guys were really candid, unguarded and open with me and their answers. To me on some level I'd feel like I was betraying the moment. It was easy to share with everyone at the table like a bunch of picnicking conspirators, it was the type of conversation collusion that made me forget this was supposed to be an interview. 

Cousin Kula's chat, like their music, has a shorthand to it that can only have been forged from growing up, living and playing together. No one overtook anyone else in the conversation but instead continued thoughts linking the voices together as one. I had to play the interview over and over to break up the quotes because one voice (aside from my obnoxious tones) blended into the rest carrying on and knitting thoughts together. Watching them perform this translates over in much the same vein, no voice or instrument steps on any other's toes. The results? It all comes out clear, luxuriously produced with a clean velvety depth, very pleasing to the ear. Like the tide, it rolls up all unassuming and before you know it you're waist deep in an energetic sound that ebbs and flows like no other. Guitar screams with a shreddingness of flare once only imagined by Prince. The keys keep a staccato tension at times and an immersive anticipation the next that builds and juxtaposes itself so well alongside the rest of the lineup of instruments, particularly on 'Working For It' and 'Jelly Love'. Your reality will distort with each tune and be reconstructed as something wholly different, of this I can assure you, but go with the ride, don't resist. Unlike being stranded in the cold and unforgiving vast emptiness of an ocean tide however their tunes will not leave you stranded on a deserted isl but instead envelope and mesmerize you. This was one of the first gigs in recent memory where when I heard, 'This is our last song' I realized I hadn't even taken a single photo, I'd been absolutely engrossed  by the performance. I think if you enjoy their sound you must see it constructed live. It's one thing to admire a creation in its completion but seeing each tiny piece, the subtlety the ambiance complexity, coming together to make the whole will hold your unwavering attention.   

I was genuinely excited during this performance and new tracks like 'Jelly Love' and 'Sparkly Fairy Queen' which came with surprise 8-bit outro that's a reprisal of the chorus. The ending is still in debate because rumor has it Oliver (Bass) isn't a fan but if I can imagine myself as the deciding vote I'd say keep it, two thumbs way up, sorry Ollie! A six song set might seem short but time the way we perceive it in our daily reality ceases to exist when you're in the audience, it's more than a taster but definitely not enough to satisfy, but you won't leave dissatisfied either. The gang all work jobs to support making this array bad-assery tunes and were in fact driving back home that very night to Bristol to make it into work for the morning, that's commitment. You've got a couple of months before the gang swings back around for a yet-to-be-announced show and location I got the heads up on alongside The Physics House Band on May 3rd. Give 'em a follow on your preferred social media of choice so you don't miss out. 

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Captain Stavros Interviews Broncho

 

I've been going to gigs at the MOTH since I moved to London just over 7 years ago and never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I'd ever make it past the red velvet rope in front of the long wooden staircase that leads backstage, let alone twice in the past 2 weeks. As I climb over it now I've got one leg on either side of the rope, I've been left unsupervised and told I could head on up. My right foot's gone over and sets down gingerly on the other side as to not trigger any pressure alarms. One one thousand, two one thousand, okay I think it's safe. There's no meaty paw on my shoulder or 'HEY YOU!' bellowed in my general direction so I proceed with caution. I knock on the doors at the top of the steps and enter on tip-toe. I'm greeted by Gavin the tour manager who's writing out the setlists by hand. Just over his shoulder on my right is a spread of antipasti laid out for band and crew that I'm eyeing, I can't help wondering when the last time I ate was. Also to my right is Ryan (Lead Vocals/Lead Guitar) of Broncho, he's got a paper plate wrapped around a bunch of merchandise in his one hand and a roll of duct tape in the other. 

Ryan looks over at me as he signs the plate, 'it's a Birthday Burrito' he smiles. Looking at Ryan all I see is Sam Rockwell's double, he also sounds an awful lot like Rockwell, I tell him this. 'Nobody's ever said that to me before' he says 'I'll take it as a compliment' it's definitely meant as one. 'Wait, I hear Ben's sick, are you forging his signature?' I ask deciphering penmanship surprisingly worse than my own for once. 'I'm forging everyone's signature' he says with bravado in an I-won't-tell-if-you-don't smile he pegs me with. I've inadvertently become an accessory to fraud by proxy, both thrilling and exciting. Ryan goes on saying this is a present for a little girl who's just turned 10. She's come over from France with her parents to celebrate her birthday here at the gig. I don't even remember my tenth birthday but I'm confident she'll never forget hers. 

The doors behind me swing open Penny (Bassist) casually walks in and over to a chair where she dumps a few outer layers of clothing. Ren Harvieu's playing downstairs and her set is being piped in backstage. I realize it's just about half finished, I need to get this show on the road. 

Cpt: A few years back I saw Bat For Lashes and Natasha (Lead Vocals) was dancing on stage to her own music and I thought, wow, how meta to be dancing to the very music you've created. I've always wondered what's that gotta be like. By extension what's it like for you when you hearing yourselves on TV, Film or radio (episode of Girls and Film 43) I've seen myself on TV once and it was surreal, real weird stuff like I was in a Fellini movie or something. Okay okay, I'm getting sidetracked here. 

Ryan: Hey, I love getting sidetracked 

Cpt: Okay, but what is it like? 

Ryan: I don't really know, I don't find myself in...those circumstances. I did hear about the Girls thing, but lots of times I don't see the stuff. It's great for my Mom, she loves it. It's more of like doing it for everyone else in my life you know? My parents get proud when I'm in something and my Brothers get proud you know? And that's what it's all about. Because I can't think that way about stuff because I don't want to start searching that stuff out, I like living in the moment. 

Cpt: No, you're right, I get what you mean. I guess I mean not actively searching it out but you're in the moment at a friends place or a car or something and there's your voice and it's not coming out of your mouth at present. 

Ryan: There have been a couple of times where I've been somewhere like at a restaurant or something and a Broncho song will come on and you just get embarrassed. 

Cpt: That's so sweet, I can totally relate about the embarrassment part. I feel like everything I do, say, or remember doing or saying leads me to embarrassment. 

This is especially true of listening to this interview the next day, the first I've ever recorded. Totally embarrassing. 

Cpt: Penny, could I encroach on your thoughts regarding this subject? How do you feel about it, when your music is in media you or your friends watch/listen to? 

Penny: You get texts from friends a lot who will be watching something somewhere random at a random time. 

Cpt: I'm guilty of this. On my side though, they're not friends, they're usually just bands I'm harassing but I dunno, I'm proud of them as they're just breaking out and getting into the spotlight. 

Penny: I guess I was watching a show on Netflix once and, that A-Typical show, had a Broncho song in it so when it came up I was kinda like, it took me a minute to recognize it. 

Cpt: Really? 

Penny: Well yeah, first you're like who's ripping us off? Or who did we rip off accidentally? 

Ryan: There are times where I'll hear one of our songs out and about and it takes me a while to figure out that it is us. 

Cpt: Okay, my last and probably most embarrassing question. You've formed in Oklahoma right? 

Ryan: Uh-huh. 

Cpt: Okay, great. When I think Oklahoma I think stagecoaches, traveling from one side of America to the other. 

Ryan: Horses. 

Cpt: Pardon me? 

Ryan: HORSES. 

Cpt: Ya, look... 

Ryan: Ti-pies 

At this point the interview has derailed and I try an old Jedi mind trick to get it back on track. I divulge that I've recently bought a comforter cover with a Western motif to it, you know like Cowboys, Bank Robbers that sorta thing. To date no one living, or dead, has seen it. I'm not given an opportunity to finish my train of thought when Penny nearly spits-out what she was drinking to laugh, and in the process confirms my suspicions of what would happen if a woman did ever see this, comforter of mine.  The interview is back on track-ish though and that's what really counts. 

Cpt: I just love that whole frontier lifestyle. 

Ryan: You know what's more Frontier than Oklahoma? Oregon. When I go to Oregon I feel like I'm actually in the West. 

Penny: That's because you are. 

Cpt: Ahahaha (my turn to laugh) 

Ryan: Cause I am. Oklahoma's just, not in the West, we're central. 

Cpt: I've obviously got a misconception of what Oklahoma is and where because all I can think of is the musical when I hear that word. Like the burning word into canvas or something. 

Penny: Rodgers and Hammerstein. My idea of Oklahoma is 'Middle-America', everything average. 

Ryan: Our whole motto is, Oklahoma, we're O-K. 

This is an O-K place to stop our interview because it's almost time for the show and Ryan's gotta take this burrito/forgery concoction to the birthday girl. I make my way downstairs to my usual booth by the stage. Ren's band has nearly torn down their setup and the nice Portuguese couple who I've asked to save my seat have actually saved it, Louisa moves her bag for me and smiles while her boyfriend Louis comes back with some beers. 'Everyone always comments on our names' they say when I comment on their names. I notice Security heading towards our booth and he locks eyes with me like a heat seeking missile on its target, I tense up, there's nowhere to go, the jig is up. 'Good evening' he addresses us, 'there's a young girl here with her family tonight, would it be alright if they join you at this booth?' 'BRING THE BIRTHDAY GIRL OVER!' I yell probably a little too loudly judging from the shock/horror on the faces (security included) around me, but relief takes many different forms some weird, some ugly and some loud. 

After the set, which goes out like a light just as fast as it came on, I head towards to stage to nab a setlist. Gavin nonchalantly strolls over and says, 'this is the one with the songs we actually played, it's correct' I thank him profusely and he tells me to stick around because they'll be having drinks. Usually people are asking me to leave so it takes a moment to sink in and I smile stupidly but he's already left to tear down. I do end up sticking around and that's where I meet Nathan (Percussion). 

'Nice shoes' I say. Nathan plops down next to me, 'Hey' he says 'you're that guy that was doing the interview right?' 'Yes' I say, 'you're the guy that wasn't around to get interviewed, right?' with a smile that hopefully reads with a lot less sarcasm than it does here. 'Yeah, sorry about that, I was napping. If I don't get a nap in before I'm useless.' 'I hear that' I say empathizing as I too have stolen 40 winks before heading out tonight. I immediately steer the conversation back towards the Nike Special Field Air Force 1s in Khaki/Coral he's rocking (I'm a bit of a sneaker freaker). 'They're new' he says, 'I'm not sure how I feel about them, but they are comfortable'. 'Sir, they are spot on, can't go wrong with an AF1.' The conversation flows naturally (for once in my life) between shoes, second hand clothes, the excellent light show his crew put on and I make suggestions on a few more pairs of kicks he might want to look into and ask him to e-mail me if he needs advice, 'don't be surprised if I do'. The latter part of the evening is a game of musical chairs. Broncho's got a wide fan base but on this night it's made up of fans, friends, family and colleagues. Execs have flown in from California to tour with them, friends from Oklahoma living in London have come out and Label mates show up too including Phil who I've been communicating with over e-mail of Park The Van Recordshe introduces himself to me and we finally get acquainted (got me here to review this gig, hi/thanks Phil if you're reading this!). 

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Wild Nothing, Village Underground, London + Interview With J. Fernandez

 

It's a little after 7:30pm when doors open, a queue's already formed, taking up the better part of a block. I'm led through a small nondescript cement concourse by security that gives way to a set of arena style doors. My guest and I push through and we enter the warmly lit catacombs otherwise known as the Village Underground, a.k.a one of my favourite London venues. 'Wow, look at all this fog' my guest says as we spelunk our way deeper inside. It's true, about the fog I mean, I don't know if they're paying the guy on the fog machine by the cloud but I cannot see three feet ahead of me. The music hasn't even started yet and I need a fog horn to find my way to the bar. If this heavy handed individual operating the fog-o-nator™  moonlights as an anesthesiologist we're all in really big trouble. After a quick glance over at the merchandise table with nothing really catching our eye we head to the stage. We secure a place against the barrier in one of the few pockets left near center stage.

Enter J. Fernandez (@jfernandezsongs) an as yet unknown to us Chicago native with a following (which I am willing to bet good money will swell after this tour) of just under a 1000. He's carrying a yellow tote bag that looks more like he's returning overdue books to the library rather than setting up the gear for his set. Dropping the bag off by the drum kit the band gets into their positions, but something else has my attention by the drums. It looks like someone's knocked over a bottle of beer. Unnoticed it rests on its side and the contents presumably spill out in an unhurried fashion much the way the music flows out of this band. The tunes set their own clip which varies as unpredictably as it does pleasantly. Laid-back J. Fernandez rolls in like a smooth breeze. The track 'Common Sense' off the newly released Occasional Din sounds equal parts zou bisou bisou, with a dash of sunshine cabana and a scattering of bum bum bums, you try and do a better job describing it why don'tchya? This album gives Mark Mothersbaugh a run for his money. Occasional Din feels like a Wes Anderson character, and like that beer that's spilling its guts out by the drum kit, they're both doing something naughty or interesting. They're unconcerned, doing their own thing like no one is watching. At the same time though everyone is watching and has their eyes on it (I definitely cannot take my eyes off of it) I mean them. J. Fernandez' music reminds me of a sound byte I once heard of St. Vincent describing how she practices playing and writing her music. She was taught to people watch, live or on TV, and translate their characteristics and personalities into music. With J's music I've got a feeling the writing process probably works in a similar manner as the notes seem to practically lift off and take flight from the lyrics. Or maybe not? Who cares? It sounds great, let's not overthink it. 

After a few songs J turns around likely parched and is looking for his now spilled beer, but reaching down we find out what looked like a beer, wait for it, turns out to be a bottle of cough syrup. The creative process is a weird and wild ride I think to myself as he removes the cap and takes a few swigs on stage. He casually explains away what most people are probably thinking, which is to say he might have a problem. Between swigs, he assures us he's got it under control and that he's just got a little tickle in his throat, who am I to judge? The music works! It stabs and burrows into your heart and mind like a knife with a full tang, beautifully balanced with a wonderful harmony. The keys add a bunch of fun sounds too from instruments unseen like harpsichords, xylophones, melodicas and much more. This sorcery gives the small ensemble a larger than life feel on stage, would recommend.

Between sets I'm doing a bit of self reflection, how was it that I came upon Wild Nothing (@WildNothing) in the first place? It feels like forever since Gemini and later Nocturne came out and after that the group sorta fell through the cracks in my mind. That being said whenever one of their tunes pops up on shuffle I take my phone out of my pocket and look at the display and think, 'oh yeah, Wild Nothing, I dig these cats', they always grabs my attention. Unfortunately as my phone slides back into my pocket my attention fades out and falters. I general have a better memory and affinity for the groups I've seen and enjoyed live. It's not that I don't have a 'like like' relationship with Wild Nothing, but I would say we had a brief tiff in 2016 that made us start seeing other people.

I'll be the first to admit it, I'm a flawed person, I make mistakes, and my judgment of Wild Nothing's abilities to perform live based on a single performance I caught at Primavera all those years ago was wrong. VERY wrong. Back in 2016 the waves were crashing onto the beach of Barcelona's Primavera Sound during the day and washing away Jack's music. The crowd was also sparse, to be fair the space was large. I've since then come to realize they didn't get a fair shake. Yes, this was a lacklustre performance, but was this the best time and place to see them? Wild Nothing shouldn't be slotted into a line up, they should be the line up. Readers, I'm ashamed to say, I went into the very gig I'd be reviewing with the preconceived notions of possibly strongly disliking the performance I was about to see. I'm a big fan of second chances though so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. With the fog machine(s) turned up to 11 and the lights turned all the way down Jack Tatum's Wild Nothing took the stage between the shadows and pools of light.

The set started off with 'Nocturne', which is a brilliant way to start a set because thinking back it's not a regular song. 'Nocturne' is the type of song that puts you on your back foot because you can't really remember it starting, it's just there already playing full of sound and energy. It's a lot like picking up the thread of a conversation with a close friend a close friend you've not seen in a while. What better metaphor to sum up the relationship I've had with this group. I'm in love all over again, I'm hooked. I imagine a conversation between myself and Jack talking about our silly spat through his lyrics going something like this.

Jack:

You wanna know me?
What's to know?
To amuse you
When the night is slow?

Captain:

Am I twisted?
What can I say?

And will you stay up just to tempt me
One more night of your company

I know where to find you
I know where you go
And I just want to let you know
You can have me
You can have me all

 Jack darling, I'm back and you can have me! The performance is completely stripped of all distraction and unnecessary aesthetics. No gimmicks, banter or costumes here, just whirlwind and sound closing in around grabbing your full attention and putting it in front of you where it belongs. Jack's hushed vocals and synthesized goodness is all velvet and stars. Transitions between songs are swift and consist of, 'hello' or 'this is a new track', 'I'd like to introduce the band now' there is no time wasted and for an hour twenty, they've played 16 tracks three of which are an encore. Jack and the band  make the experience completely about the listener, not the city they're in or how the crowd feels tonight. The only indulgence they allow themselves is one I feel only I can see. I'm right up against the barrier and in that dimly lit space (think the realm of the shadow people or something, see pics) I catch each member at one point or another breaking character as they steal a stealthy smile for few seconds losing themselves in the cheers and applause from their audience.

Noteworthy performances by both Matthew Kallman (sax) and Jeff Haley (bassist). When Jeff lays into the bassline for 'Flawed Translation' off their latest Indigo I am fucking floored; it should be restricted from minors. It has to be one of the sexiest basslines I've heard in recent years I'd liken it to Metronomy's 'She Wants'. Totally fucking excellent, this one's definitely going on my 'dim the lights' playlist. Matty K, or Saxmaster K as he shall be known henceforth, has everyone eating out of the palm of his hand whenever he picks up that gleaming brass off the floor. I especially enjoyed his work on 'Paradise' from Nocturne. It was a crowd favourite. If you twisted my arm to be critical about any one aspect from Wild Nothing's performance that night I'd have to say not enough sax and bass.

This review has been one of the more challenging ones because putting Wild Nothing into words when they can't even stick to a genre is quite near impossible. Wikipedia lists them as an: Indie rock, Dream pop, Chillwave, Synth-pop, New wave, Shoegazing, Post-punk revival and although that's more than a mouthful they're not wrong. I've always been a firm believer in less is more but Wild Nothing's genre defiant ways challenges those notions. They keep adding layers upon layers without watering down the broth. If (you should) go see them, learn from my mistakes. Do-not wait to see them smashed together with a running list of 50 other headliners during the summer festival season, see them now, if you can (do it).

Bonus Interview with J Fernandez!

There was no way I was going to casually bump into any musicians tonight for a short chat because who'd stray from an unobstructed view at a sold out gig? So I hollered at J.F. over the internets and he came back to me. 

Cpt: I'm a big fan of pizza, you're from Chicago so I gotta ask, is deep dish your go-to?

J: As far as Chicago pizza goes, I like deep dish but it’s not my first choice when I’m thinking pizza. I prefer thinner crust. My favorite pizza spots in Chicago are Middle Brow Bungalow and Reno. I also feel that root beer is the perfect beverage to have with pizza.

Cpt: Root beer, classic. I'd always order a root beer whenever we ate out and had burgers because it wasn't something we'd keep in the house. It's a beverage with a special place in my heart. Next question. If you could place one of your songs on any soundtrack which would it be?

J:Not sure if the music would go well with any of the films, but it would be nice to have either 'Common Sense' or 'Light Yeahs' playing somewhere in a Mike Leigh film.

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Musos' Guide Catches Up With The Winachi Tribe

 

I got my first live taste of The Winachi Tribe last summer at Bearded Theory. I’ve been following them since our first interview back in 2015 and it’s about time for a catch-up with their frontman, Liam Croker. After headlining the Showcase Stage at 2018’s edition of BT, the Academy Of Music And Sound, who run the showcase, picked the band to open the main stage at this year’s festival. Liam was googling the festival last week and our review popped up. The last line of the article is “Hopefully we'll see them on one of the bigger stages next time”, and it proved to be prophetic as they’ll be playing the Pallet Stage with The Cult, Reef, and The Angelic Upstarts on Saturday May 25.

That’s a long way off right now and the Tribe’s first shows of 2019 will be in Medina, Italy. In February, they’ll play two exclusive headline shows for one of Italy's most iconic fashion brands, Pantofola d'Oro. It’s the type of collaboration that most bands would kill for; flying off to exotic locations and getting the corporate treatment. “You can never plan too far ahead. You don’t know what’s around the corner. This has practically fallen in our laps.”

“It all came about when they got us to play an outdoor show on Carnaby Street in London. Duff McKagan from Guns 'N' Roses, Mark Collins from The Charlatans and Paulo Di Canio were all in the audience watching us.” says Liam, “Last year started with gigs in Hollywood, this year it will be Italy. It makes us feel it’s working and we’re a global band. We’re not just a Manchester band, or a band from the Northwest. It’s a big round planet and we want to appeal to the world.”

Meeting Duff was a big deal for a guy who was raised on G'N'R’s masterpiece, Appetite For Destruction. “I was having a pint with Mark Collins and Sam came in saying he’s just seen Duff McKagan outside. So I finished my pint and strolled out and saw him. I gave him a massive hug. Funnily enough, he’s from Seattle near a place called Wenatchee. It’s spelled differently but it’s still Winachi. He came down to watch us and was cheering ‘Winachi, Winachi!’”

Now they’ve the chance to work with the Italian fashion giants again and, for Liam and the band,  it’s an alternative medium for getting the music out there. Their last release was the Grammy-nominated ‘Transition’ last summer and we’ve been anticipating a follow-up since then. “We’ve new songs recorded already with John X co-producing. He’s a great friend of the band. He’s worked with The Rolling Stones, Bowie, Madonna... Now we’re searching for the right moment, and right medium, to release the new songs. There’ll definitely be a new song out before the summer touring starts. We don’t want to spunk away these great tunes. You have to be patient. You gotta be resilient. We’ve got so many songs ready to go, it’d put Prince to shame, but we don’t want to waste them after working so hard on them.”

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Impressions & Interviews From Rockaway Beach 2019 - Part Two

Breakfast Veggie Sausage/Pancake Overload - The Orielles 3.0

I woke up with a start from my editor in chief announcing it was breakfast time. Can't argue with that. In case I haven't rambled on enough about what all you can eat from the buffet each day, it was excellent. Well, aside from the pensioners avoiding the carefully laid out plastic tongs to serve themselves and instead use their meaty, fleshy, appendages instead. I noticed this only after my third helping on the last day, too late now! Upon getting yet another helping of veggie sausages and pancakes I noticed a slightly worse for wear Henry in the queue. As I'm without shame I thought I'd shimmy my way into the queue and chance a 'howdy'.

Cpt: Good morning Mr. Henry, I just wanted to say I really enjoyed your set last night.

Henry: (drops ladle of beans for his toast with a start and readies himself for an attack) Oh hey, thanks man. Hey, aren't you the guy that said getting the setlist last night was your Silver Dollar Moment?

Cpt: The very same! Best venue in Toronto, or used to be.

Henry: Yeah, we were sad to see it go, have you ever been?

Cpt: Yeah, it was the place I first saw the now defunct 'Hot Springs' We'd travel 3 hours to get to that venue.

Alex walks by.

Henry: Hey Alex, what's your name (pointing to me)?

Cpt: Inner monologue 'Don't say Captian Stavros' Ca....Steven.

Henry: This is Steven!

Alex: Hey Steven.

Alex clearly wanted to start scarfing his breakfast, who am I to judge? I'd just downed 3 of them.

Cpt: I hear you (to Alex) ate a fuck-ton of these veggie sausages.

Alex: Veggie whaaaa?

Henry: That was actually me, I love them. My Mum only lets me have 3 so I kinda went out of control and had 8 or more yesterday.

Cpt: Wow, no judgment. I discovered peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at 15 and ate them exclusively for every meal for an entire month.

Henry/Alex:...........

Cpt: I see you're wearing a Sport Team (to Alex) t-shirt, I saw them tear the Scala apart, a most excellent gig.

Henry/Alex: That was a great show! (Both start singing Sport Team songs at the top of their lungs).

At this point we parted ways so they could enjoy their breakfast but if you're reading this Henry and Alex I shot Sports Team a message and they said, 'send them our regards!'.

Squid (@squidbanduk)

I had missed Squid on Tuesday when they played the Old Blue Last. I'd mismanaged my time and only have myself to blame, but boy-howdy, do I regret it. Squid was the first act of the afternoon on the third day, you can imagine what I expected. Nothing. I was just there to get some pics for the blogs and hadn't even heard their stuff at this point. They rolled out on stage and from their first notes I was hooked.

Ollie and the boys cranked the fuck out of the tunes with lyrics like 'HOUSE PLANTS, HOUSE PLANTS, HOUSE PLANTS!' and 'Decoration is not behaviour!'. The music was all energy and colour and this had to have been the most energetic afternoon band of the whole weekend. The crowd was full of hungover dinosaurs but Squid got hoots and hollers from all the geriatrics. I wanted to grab a quick chin-wag with them but unfortunately they hightailed it out of Butlins as per their Insta-Story. I dropped them a line and I surprisingly got a pretty speedy response.

Cpt: Just caught your act, I'm doing a small thing for Muso's Guide, was wondering if you wanted to be in it? Really dug your sound and had some questions about your lyrics, what was your inspiration for 'decoration is not behaviour'?

Squid: The song is about a theory of mine that people our age buy houseplants as a means to distract themselves from how terrifyingly bleak our future is. May never be able to buy a house but we can rent on and fill it to the brim with houseplants.

Cpt: Sharp insight and can't fault your logic (I have in fact felt similar sentiments, guh, London). Pretty sure everyone would identify with the sentiments, I know I do. Can I quote you?

Squid: Of course!

Squid are playing The Lexington this Friday the 18th and the MOTH this month on the 26th. Check 'em out, you will NOT regret it, you WILL regret missing it. Ficus.

Art Brut (@eddieargos)

I've just been informed by my editor this article is due, like, tomorrow so brevity here I come. I checked out Art Brut before I hit Rockaway on the YouTubes. Sounded punkish with a lot of grit and spunk formed in 2005. Fast forward 13 years to a fat, and quite drunk by the looks of it, Eddie Argos. A too short button up shirt with a lot of jumping around and gut hanging out coupled with 5min+ ranty monologues. Jumped (slowly and very gently hopped off stage with a thud) and could not get back up without help from the security guard. End of review.

 

Echo & The Bunnymen (@officialbunnymen)

Do you eat the Olive on a tooth pick atop a comic sandwich first or last? In this case last. Echo and the hoppers took a well spaced stage with the confidence and grace that only rock and rollers that've seen it all can. Throughout their set they also spliced classic favourites like Lou Reed's 'Walk On The Wild Side' and The Doors' 'People Are Strange' (I'm not 100% it was this track even though I was singing it. Why am I this way?). It was the classic set, which even included 'The Killing Moon' the track that my generation discovered this group a-la Donnie Darko. Great lighting and sound and every song sounded like it was being recorded in studio's velvety tones. Observations during the set. Echo has a voice like an angel but when he's talking he's indecipherable. Will Sergeant, I have never seen a dude with more guitars at a gig, I lost count at 8. Weird dry bar on stage in front of the drum kit, from what I could see, consisted of:

Coconut Water

Apple Juice or Beer

Orange Juice or Orange Juice and Vodka

Milk/Milk Plus

A bottle of honey

Wet Naps

Moisturizer

All items were seemingly used and or drunk throughout the course of the gig. There was also a hand towel that was turned into a makeshift football and kicked into the audience. The audience fought over it and a man attempted to rip it out of a woman's hands (he couldn't manage it, you go girl!). With this the weekend came to a close. I can say one thing for certain, I'll never be the same again. I also bought a model of the H.M.S. Bounty at a thrift store for a fiver ( I talked them down from seven), all and all a great time!

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