For A Wounded Wren – An Interview With Into Another’s Richie Birkenhead.

December 19, 2012

Friday December 14th 2012 is a day that will forever be inscribed into the hearts and minds of all of us who learned with painful shock and awe of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting where twenty children and six adults were suddenly and unexpectedly robbed of life and taken from their families in a baffling and brutal fashion.  I can’t begin to speak about this day, let alone cover a concert or interview, without bringing light to the fact that all those in attendance who I interacted with were savagely impacted by news of the tragedy and hesitated into the evening with contrite and broken hearts. I have no illusions that I can accurately capture exactly what resonated inside the hearts and minds of everyone in attendance, and certainly lack any combination of words and meter that can begin to truly explain what the families of those afflicted felt that night and will continue to feel.

I was personally dismayed even further upon discovering that a family closely connected to my small church lost a child in the tragedy.  And yet, although it seems to this writer that we all felt a natural resistance in trying to continue with our plans for the evening, we pressed in with an appropriate mindfulness of this unfathomable tragedy that co-occurred on such a dark and heavy day resonating within our collective corner of space and time.  If for nothing else to honor those lost with a celebration of life through an explosion of noise, energy, screams, sounds, and sweat, all poured out in gratitude and with a renewed appreciation for the lives, music, and loved ones we are still so blessed to hold. (more…)

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Bury What’s Dead – An Interview With Steve Von Till Of Neurosis.

December 17, 2012

Steve Von Till is best known as singer and guitarist for the atmospheric metal band Neurosis. Steve is also in Tribes Of Neurot, and records solo work under both his given name and the moniker Harvestman. His solo albums comprise of original songs and traditional folk arrangements, using minimalistic acoustic guitar and vocal styles. Outside his semi-professional role as a musician, he works as an elementary school teacher.

The following interview was conducted via phone on 12/12/12.

The Steve Von Till Interview (more…)

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Nomad By Fate: An Interview With Chuck Ragan Of Hot Water Music

July 27, 2012

With his emotional and gravel-coated bellow, vocalist/guitarist Chuck Ragan made a name for himself as one-fourth of the much loved Gainesville post-hardcore outfit Hot Water Music before releasing his first solo album in 2007. Alongside friends Chris Wollard, Jason Black, and George Rebelo, Ragan formed Hot Water Music in the early ’90s. Through a slew of well-received albums for labels like No Idea, Doghouse, and Epitaph — and an incessant grassroots touring regime — the passionate crew turned itself into a highly respected and influential act on the underground scene. Outside of his main gig, Ragan also recorded two side albums with some friends, including the stripped-down rock of Rumbleseat and the punk-oriented Cro(w)s. Ragan’s third solo album Covering Ground is as much of a love letter to his transient lifestyle as it as a concession to the loved ones he often has to leave behind and is also undeniably his most honest and accomplished album to date.  Musically Covering Ground sees Ragan peeling back the layers of his songwriting style and allowing the talented cast of musicians to fill out the arrangements with their own voices. Despite the fact that Ragan is working with instrumentation that has existed for hundreds of years, Covering Ground is also a remarkably diverse-sounding album and showcases the range Ragan is now able to attain with his whiskey-soaked pipes.

*The following interview was conducted after Chuck’s set at The Acoustic Basement Stage of the 2012 Warped Tour stop in Hartford, CT on 7/22/12.

The Chuck Ragan Interview

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Start Again- An Interview With Adam Duritz Of Counting Crows

June 5, 2012

“There are a million great songs written every day, many on records you discover that you wish your friends could appreciate as much as you do.” That simple truth, courtesy of Adam Duritz, is as good a place as any to begin discussing Counting Crows’ Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation). After five renowned full-lengths, multiple live albums and soundtrack appearances—not to mention Grammy and Oscar nominations—the modern rock mainstays are not only issuing their first independent release, but coloring it with infectious interpretations of some of their favorite tunes.

Recorded in Burbank last April and June, Underwater Sunshine is a collection of 15 gorgeously rendered songs, in which the Bay Area seven-piece honors global icons (Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons), indie-pop heroes (Teenage Fanclub, Travis), compelling up-and-comers (Dawes, the Romany Rye, Kasey Anderson) and even their own seminal pre-Crows projects (Sordid Humor, Tender Mercies). But no matter the artist, the Crows selected each song due to its merit, not its ubiquity. “You may or may not know these songs,” Duritz concedes. “It wasn’t an intentional theme, but it did sort of fall out that a lot of the songs on this record aren’t well-known. The songs on Underwater Sunshine come from old bands and young, they stretch from the early ’60s to earlier this year, and they were recorded for major labels, for indies and, in some cases, for just a few friends to hear. Either way, they’re all great songs, and hopefully they’ll be heard by a few more people now.”

 

Underwater Sunshine is the sort of treat that established bands too rarely bestow upon their fans. But Counting Crows have always been cut from a different cloth. Having exploded onto the scene with multiplatinum breakout August and Everything After in 1993, the band—Duritz (vocals), Jim Boglos (drums), David Bryson (guitar), Charlie Gillingham (keyboards), David Immergluck (guitar), Millard Powers (bass), and Dan Vickrey (guitar), —has thrived for nearly 20 years as the rare radio and touring powerhouse that blows you away with songs, not superficial excess. Their enduring critical and commercial popularity is easily explained: They write from the heart, challenge themselves, and still give a damn about new music. Dashboard Confessional, Panic at the Disco and The Hold Steady are among the many to count the Crows as influential, and the band are still the kind of guys who roam from club to club at SXSW, CMJ or whatever city they’re touring, simply out of curiosity and love. Music geeks? Sure. We prefer lifers.

Underwater Sunshine is a testament to that open-mindedness. It feels homemadebecause it is, the band teaming with old friends Shawn Dealey and Brian Deck to capture what Duritz calls “the feeling of all us squeezed into a room playing songs together… almost all recorded live so everybody’s tracks are all over everybody else’s tracks.” From making the electric four-chord bump of Romany Rye’s “Untitled (Love Song)” their own to not-so-delicately expanding upon Kasey Anderson’s fragile “Like Teenage Gravity,” from fulfilling a new obsession with Dawes and a longstanding one with Big Star, Underwater Sunshine exhibits the depth of Counting Crows’ tastes in an entirely new light.

The following interview was conducted via phone on 5/31/12.

The Adam Duritz Interview

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The Ian MacKaye DIY Community Interview

May 8, 2012
I heard Fugazi before Minor Threat, Minor Threat before Embrace and Embrace before Ian MacKaye’s various other endeavors, most all of which, have significantly impacted my life in one way or another. I have many fond memories of skateboarding in high school listening to Fugazi, Minor Threat and countless other punk/hardcore bands, many of which taught me not to give a fuck about what others thought of me. That’s a sentiment that still resonates very deeply within my heart today, though there’s a much less angsty application of it. There’s so much I could say about Ian and the impact his bands and record label has had on me but I’d like to share something my friend Ben Smith said while discussing Ian, and more specifically, the image on the back of Minor Threat’s In My Eye’s 7”, and the impact it had on him. He said, “What struck me about it was how normal they looked. They looked just like regular kids. They looked just like my friends and I. And if they could do it, I could do it too.” I think Ben really captured a large part of the essence of DIY punk/hardcore in that statement and if you grew up in it, you know exactly what he’s saying. So as I sat down to contemplate what I would ask Ian in our interview I put on Fugazi’s Repeater album to set the mood. Almost instantly, it took me back to the 90’s and the clubs I would frequent here in CT. I have so many great memories from those days. Simple things like the excitement of finally finding that vinyl record or CD I’d been searching months through various distro’s for. Skateboarding outside the club before the show. Looking at the flyer someone handed me, and seeing that one of my favorite bands had a show coming up soon in the area. Trying to have philosophical discussions about veganism and straight edge but really sounding like an idiot. Jumping up on stage and screaming into the microphone that one line of a song that touched me a little deeper than all of the others. Maybe I’m over romanticizing things, or maybe not. Those were very special times for me as I’m sure they were to many of you reading this as well. So in the spirit of DIY and old school punk/hardcore ethics, I decided I wasn’t going to create this interview alone but instead, open it up to others who were there with me, and not just necessarily in person but also in spirit. What did we want to ask in this interview? I asked that question to a community of old school punk/hardcore folks and received a lot of responses covering a wide range of topics. I handpicked a couple of the questions and then to be fair, randomly selected a few and viola, we had our interview. I knew Ian was extremely intelligent and always shared great insight in his interviews. I also knew some of the questions we’d come up with were rather “light” to put it nicely. He was an excellent sport about the whole thing however and was able to reply to even the most frivolous sounding inquiry with insight and poise, and for that, I’m grateful. So without further ado, WE humbly present you with…
The Ian MacKaye DIY Community Interview (more…)
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