Friday, May 31, 2013

Interview with Eric Scobie of Great Reversals

I first met Eric Scobie in about 2001 or so when my old band would play Grand Rapids, Michigan on our tours.  Eric was a friendly face who was always supportive and wanted to engage in some good conversation.  He would bring food to shows for touring bands and never ask for any type of reimbursement.  All in all, he was a great guy.  I reconnected with Eric a few years ago and was pleased to find out he was now playing drums for Great Reversals  He's also been keeping busy being a dad, a teacher, and putting on shows in the Detroit metro area. 

OPFM: You play drums for a band called Great Reversals.  Your record, "To The Ends of The Earth" is pretty incredible.  It seemed like, even though you're the drummer, that you had a big hand in the lyric writing process.  Can you talk about that process a little bit?

ERIC: I've always been interested in writing, whether it's for school, for a zine, lyrics, whatever so I've been able to try my hand at it a bit over the years. Aaron & I did a band a long time ago where we basically split writing lyrics although it worked somewhat differently for "To the Ends..." than it did for our previous band. Basically when we started Great Rev I knew I wanted to have a release that served as an outlet for all my emotions that stemmed from raising Elijah (my oldest son who is deaf and has a bunch of other developmental delays), so after we did our demo which Aaron wrote all the lyrics for, I literally took a day off work and went to the library one day and wrote 7 or 8 sets of lyrics. I'd had titles for all of them floating around in my head for several years so it was super cathartic to finally sit down and flesh them out, knowing that they were going to be used for our next project. Once I had them on paper, I sent them to the guys, and there was sort of an editing process that went on....some of the stuff was too personal and raw, too "close" to my experience. But anyway, we picked a few of them and then Aaron took them and re-worked things. My writing (especially with those songs) is more raw and to the point, whereas Aaron has developed a much deeper poetic sense to his style. So he added a lot of the visual imagery to the lyrics and really enriched the emotions I was trying to evoke. I should mention that Aaron and I have been best friends since we were little kids so he knew exactly what I was going for and he obviously knows the challenges my wife and I have experienced with Lij. So while the subject matter was mine, the final product was truly a collaborative effort.

OPFM: When I listen to the record it seems like the music really fits the lyrics.  It's amazing that you wrote the lyrics before the music to me since they seems so well placed.  Do you feel that the songs musically lived up to the standard of how important those lyrics are to you?

ERIC: We were definitely VERY conscious of the mood for each song as we were writing. We actually wrote the last song “In Hiding” first and when Steve brought that song to practice and we started working on it I was absolutely blown away by how perfectly it captured the feeling of those lyrics. That song is really for me the centerpiece of the record where all the emotion crescendos….the first time we played it live I was a sobbing mess. Thankfully it was in a basement with like 15 people and I don’t think anybody filmed it, haha. Same thing with “Open Wounds”; we knew that we wanted that song to come raging out of the gates and Alex did a great job putting that one together. So in short, I am completely happy with how those songs compliment the lyrics and vice versa.

It’s funny because right now we are working on the next batch of songs and this time we’ve been working on the music without having the concept/lyrical direction nailed down so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. We had an idea but as we were fleshing out the songs we decided to scrap it. So we have the music 95% set, but now Aaron has to get busy writing.

OPFM: You told me back in March that you've been putting on shows about once a month. Can you tell me how that is going?  Is this something you see yourself doing long term? Does the stress of putting shows pay off?

ERIC: I can truly say I consider it to be a labor of love. The shows are going good as far as I'm concerned, I've been booking again since the summer of 2010 and since then I've done somewhere in the neighborhood of two dozen shows. Turnouts are usually in the 30-60 range. So not too huge, but certainly enough to make sure bands get gas money and sell a few records.

I can definitely see myself doing it into the foreseeable future, as long as there are bands I want to see that are willing to play, why stop.

In terms of the stress, I certainly still get the day of jitters and there are always last minute details to take care of, but we've got a good little system going. The other guys in Great Rev help me run the shows....Aaron usually cooks vegan food for everyone (donations highly encouraged), Steve brings his p.a. and runs the sound, and for the last few shows Sam has drawn up the flyers. Without those guys all pitching in it would be much more stressful. Honestly for me the main thing I stress about is the financial end, but I generally prefer to work with smaller scale d.i.y. bands so even that isn't generally much of an issue. I have worked with bands that have had guarantees on a couple of occasions, but I felt they were reasonable so I went for it because they were bands I really wanted to see. The space is certainly big enough where I could try to bring in package tours and whatnot if I wanted to, but honestly I don't want to deal with booking agents and all that and for the most part the bands I am most interested in don't partake in those kinds of tours in he first place. So I kind of feel like I've found my little niche here in Metro Detroit and I'm really thankful to still be able to do it.

OPFM: You're a dad, husband, teacher, show promoter and drummer. What piece of advice would you give to folks who are getting older but want to remain an active part of the hardcore scene?

ERIC: I think the biggest thing for me is trying to find balance. Great Rev practices once a week, we try to play a show a month, I try to book a show a month. I find that if I go beyond that it just stresses me out way too much and throws thing out of wack. I am a husband and a father first and foremost; hardcore is a huge part of my life but ultimately it has to take a backseat to everything else. So basically touring is out of the question for me, and a lot of times I have to say sorry to shows we get offered or to bands who ask me if I can help them out. It sucks sometimes, but I have a good sense of what my limits are. We have gone out of town to record and we’ve done a couple weekends, but that stuff has to be planned out waaaaay in advance. I get to do less these days than I did ten or fifteen years ago, but I think it means more to me now, I really find that I appreciate it in a deeper way.

OPFM: Does the band understand and support your decisions when it comes to touring and shows? Are any compromises made like having a fill-in drummer or anything like that?

ERIC: Oh yeah the dudes are all super supportive and understanding. They did a 4 day weekend down to Tennessee and back a couple years ago and our friend Matt filled in for me for 3 of the shows. The last show of the run was in Toledo so I drove down and played that one. I’ve always told them I don’t want to hold them back in any way so if opportunities to tour come along and I can’t pull it off they can definitely get a fill-in. But the band is pretty much designed to be fairly part-time. Steve plays in Tharsis They, as well as Hollow Earth who up until recently have been touring like crazy, Alex has a pretty solid job that he can’t get away from very much and has recently started a second band, Sam plays bass in another band called Boneshaker, Aaron is married and has a daughter, so we’re all busy guys. I think for us it’s more important to continue to plays shows and write when we can rather than try to pull off a bunch of touring and then get burnt out.

OPFM: To close up the interview could you talk about the new 7" that you're going to put out with How Soon is Now?

ERIC: First of all we’re super stoked to be working with Chris! We got burned by a label on the last record so to have somebody as solid as him behind us is really awesome. It’s going to be 3 new ones and they are definitely the heaviest songs we have ever written. We feel like they bring some new elements to the table for us which is cool and exciting. I think most bands want to stay anchored in their major influences and at the same time expand or add wrinkles to their sound as they grow together. That’s something I feel we’ve been able to do as a band and the new songs continue that.

Lyrically when we started writing the plan was for the songs to revolve around Aaron’s transition into fatherhood, but as we’ve gotten into the project there was a sense that maybe we didn’t want another “dad-core” (for lack of a better term) record again so we’re going to be shifting gears. Aaron tends towards the philosophical; grappling with issues of ethics, religion, and meaning so I would imagine that’s where he will go lyrically.

We are however taking pieces of the aforementioned lyrics and using them for a new song that we start recording tomorrow! It’s going to come out on a split 7” with another Michigan band that we’ve become really good friends with these last couple years.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Patsy O'Hara - ....Sings the Bourgeois Blues

Ok, skip the first track..unless you want to hear 2:32 of drawn out noise that seems sort of nonsensically placed. 

Now that you've skipped the first track you can hear a d-beat, rock and roll influenced hardcore band blaring forward with a nice dark, yet melodic sense that seems solid and hard hitting. The instrument tone here is bright; you hear the clanky bass provided a bit of a percussive component to the background. About two minutes into the first track the band shows that they aren't a one trick pony.  The musical stop/start drum and bass line fills in nicely over the melodically strummed guitar chords.  

The band continues to rage on in the same demeanor for the duration of the album, showing a nice versatility in their musicianship. "Ardnaxela" has a great melodic introduction that crawls into a nice palm muted stomp.  It's catchy and it works for me on many levels.  As things move on I get the impression of what would happen if you took older Baroness material and mixed it with some mid paced d-beat.  "Ocean to Ocean" kind of reminds of a successful version of what Modern Life is War meant to do when they tried to write "Midnight in America".

"No Witness But The Moon" sort of comes out of nowhere and almost takes on the characteristics of some sort of Irish campfire instrumental. Its a perfect lead in to "12/12" which has a slow, powerful waltz outlining the songs verse/chorus structure. 

I hope to find out more about this band and seek out their side of the upcoming split with Centuries.

Listen to it here.

Nomads - Surveying The Western Reserve

Nomads is an instrumental post rock band from Cleveland, Ohio. They have all the ingredients that most bands of this genre offer up; clean guitars with a touch of reverb and delay, understated bass, nice roomy drums that know when to get technical but also know when to play it safe.

I like listening to music like this before bed.  It relaxes me and helps me sleep deeper.  The band is playing here on Saturday and my interest is peaked, as bands like this can either be extremely exciting or a total snooze fest in a live setting. 

If you're a fan of instrumental post rock like Gates, Explosions in The Sky, This Will Destroy You, etc.. then Nomads would make a nice addition to your library. 

Listen to it here.

Cheap Art - Descocialized

Cheap Art is from Atlanta Georgia and you can define them as a band that crafts shorts songs that are full of smooth transitions, angry screams, overdriven guitars and fast paced drumming.  Power violence?  I guess you could call it that too. 

There seems to be a trade off of lead vocals between distinct male and female screams.  It provides a nice versatility.  In addition to their blazing fast blast beat frenzies, Cheap Art can dose out a nice breakdown every now and then.  They also have a tendencies to throw in smaller discordant bridges that employ some more experimental guitar work. 

The production is extremely raw and fuzzy which adds a certain aesthetic to the presentation. Perhaps without the under-production this may have lost some of it's authenticity of time and place. In most cases I would be upset, but here it seems to fit well.

Listen to it here.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Centuries - Patsy O'Hara split

This is the Centuries side of the Centuries/Patsy O'Hara split.  If I can track down the Patsy O'Hara material I will post that as well.  In the meantime, here's Centuries. 

I'm hearing dark hardcore with a heavy, epic feel.  Influences that sort of come to mind are Majority Rule and older Envy mixed with some older Tragedy material. They start you off nice and slow with a building, melodic piece before firing off into some faster material.

Dark guitars, screaming vocals, distorted bass and pounding drums are blended nicely in the mix here with production that really translates what you can imagine this band sounding like in a live setting. You can almost close your eyes and picture a bunch of full stacks blaring at 10.

"Dusk" was the most impressive track to me due to it's versatility.  They seemed to have peaked on this track by seamlessly integrating their fast, d-beat influenced material with some slower, more melodic pieces.

Check it out here.

Lighthouses - Black Letter Day

At first, Lighthouses reminded me of what would happen if you mixed Apart with Explosions in the Sky.  The two opening tracks have a grand, epic feel to them. The reverb and delay on the guitars emphasize that post rock influence while they fall in front of the large room sound of the drums.  The second track picks things up into a screaming mass of chaos, and while you think this transition would be awkward, it actually comes across with some ease.

Once you move into the third track though they take a more Touche Amore influenced sound with an upbeat tempo and very deliberate lyrical delivery.  As the tracks move on, you get a nice versatile musical prowess that can keep the listener interested. The vocal delivery at times becomes a little too similar to Touche Amore and I sort of prefer the points where we see exit into a more individualist characteristics of the band. There's some very unconventional transitions that I think normally wouldn't work, but for some reason Lighthouses has a steady handle on them.

Production wise I would have hoped to have the vocals down just a touch, as they tend to smother the composition at times.  All in all, the band seems to have found a very nice balance between delving into the sound of some of the more popular younger bands and perhaps asserting their own instrumental maturity that will set them apart. 

Check it out here.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Will Killingsworth Interview (Ampere, Orchid, Vaccine, Bucket Full of Teeth)


OPFM: Can you list for us the bands/projects you've been in over the years and what instrument(s) you played?

WILL:
LACERATION, 1994-1997, guitar/bass/vocals
ORCHID, 1997 - 2002, guitar
BUCKET FULL OF TEETH 2000 - 2002, guitar/vocals/noise
KOLLMORGEN, 1999 - 2000, solo project
AIR WAVE RECEIVER, 1999, guitar
THE GUTS, 1999-2000, guitar
ARCANA, 1999-2000, bass/vocals
AMPERE, 2002 - present, guitar
TORRINGTON, 2002, guitar
STOP THE CLOCK, 2002, guitar
PSALMANAZAR, 2003, drums
PUKER, 2003, drums
CUMPUNX, 2003, guitar/vocals
PROGZILLA, 2003, guitar/bass
WITCHDOCTOR, 2006, bass
FAILURES, 2007 - present, guitar
COMPLAINTS, 2007 - present, drums
VACCINE, 2009 - present, bass
RITUAL MESS, 2009 - Present, guitar/bass
LONGINGS, 2012 - present, guitar/vocals
THE TOLL, 2010 - present. guitar/vocals
NO FAITH, 2011 - present, vocals/noise
WON'T BELONG 2011 - present, drums

(for descriptions and assorted downloads go to http://willkillingsworth.com/index.php?/project/music/)

OPFM:. You've been recording in your studio since 2001. Did the development of learning to be a studio engineer come out of interest or was it simply a need to just be able to capture the music you were making without having to go through an intermediary?

WILL: Honestly I'm not sure it was really either of those things exactly, or at least I wasn't as self aware of my motivations.  I remember in my first band some friend of a friend brought over a 4-track and shittily recorded us at practice, and I thought, "maybe I should get one of those things."  From there, my next band drove maybe an hour to record with someone in their house who had a mixing board going into a 6-track cassette recorder.  It honestly sounded pretty good all things considered, so my next move up was buying the cheapest mixer that I could to use with my 4-track.  I think that was when I recorded all of the Laceration stuff, and with that whole project my impetus was kind of to be self-sufficient.  Besides spending a day to teach my friend who played drums the songs, I did everything else in that band for better or worse.  That sort of pseudo one-man-band concept was probably a result of living in Alabama, taking a year off between high school and college, and having increasingly limited options of who to play music with.  I also took the literal meaning and implications of DIY very seriously, so to me if I could record myself, then I should.  That all said, it wasn't until 4-5 years later maybe with the last Orchid record that I and the rest of the band had a crazy idea like "we want total control."  Nowadays I record all of my own stuff, partially because I want to, and partially because I think that I would have a hard time working with another engineer due to the amount of control that I am used to.  The reality of total control is both a blessing and a curse though, and not really my prime motivating factor.

OPFM: I imagine when you're recording a band other than your own a certain level of objectivity needs to be employed.  Let's say you aren't partial to a band's style of music or you just don't think the musicianship is up to par; how do you objectively approach making a band sound the best they can?

WILL: I definitely will try to play to a bands strengths when mixing.  For example if a drummer isn't super tight, but has a good energy I might try to push the overheads or room sound more, as opposed to making sure that every kick drum hit is super articulated.  Likewise if a bass player is sloppy it might be a matter of getting the bass to feel solid in the mix, but without perceiving every nuance.  In a lot of cases some subtle overdrive can also help add some energy to a performance or round out imperfections.  Of course the trick is not to do any of these things in a heavy handed manner, but one that feels natural.  But this is all in instances where such things are perhaps needed, and not really the norm for every recording.  Most of the time I'm thinking in the back of my head about how the band thinks they sound, conceptually, or how they perceive their recording sitting in with other recorded music.

OPFM: Do you think your approach and your studio (Dead Air Studios) has a specific sound? Meaning, do you think people hear a recording and know off the bat that you were the man behind the board?  


WILL:Hmmm, well, maybe?  I think that there are some things that I do that are specific, and it could happen in some styles where people request certain feels that are similar.  Something like a raw blown out hardcore recording for instance, I think that some of the sound and technique could be picked up on by a listener as having a similar vibe or sonic imprint due to the hardware I use to make that happen.  Beyond times like there where I'm taking similar approaches to achieving a particular sound, it seems unlikely to me.  At least, I'm never really trying to impart my own signature onto a recording or bands sound, maybe I do in the end unknowingly, but if so I'm unaware of it.

OPFM: Your newest project is LONGINGS, which features yourself on guitar/vocals, Megan on bass/vocals and Cole on drums.  You've played with Cole and Megan before in some of your past and current projects.  This band seems to have an influence somewhere between Joy Division and maybe some Mike Kirsch sounds thrown in.  Can you tell me how LONGINGS came about and what you hoped to musically tackle with it?

WILL: Actually I've recorded Cole several times, but this is our first time playing together, which has been great.  The band came about in a couple of ways really.  Meghan and I are always brainstorming future music projects that we'd like to do, some of which we've done as one off things just for fun (see http://thepinsandneedles.bandcamp.com/ for an example), others who knows if we'll ever do, and some we actually try to see through as functioning bands.  The concept of LONGINGS is the direct result of Meghan and I being into a pretty obscure 80s German band and wanting to do something similar.  Almost immediately though our musical path diverged in ways from that concept and now we're just kind of following our inspiration and creative ideas to see where they lead us.  The last band we had done together (WON'T BELONG) was determined to sound like old Boston Hardcore like SSD, but with Meghan doing vocals.  I still think that that idea is really awesome and cool, and I think we more or less achieved it, but it made crafting songs surprisingly difficult because we were so focused on that vision.  Anyways, I think that the approach with LONGINGS is pretty exciting and I honestly don't know exactly where we'll end up, which is cool.  Meghan and I have been listening to lots of stuff from bands like WIRE, BAUHAUS,  THE RATS,  SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES, THE CHAMELEONS, X, THE WIPERS, FRED BANANA COMBO,  CHRISTIAN DEATH, OF A MESH, GUN CLUB, etc etc which I think all play a role in it somewhere.  My goal is to create something that is dark, punk, and melodic, hopefully while being catchy and relatable.  You're the second person to mention hearing a Kirsch influence in our songs, which I think must be some sort of subconscious thing on our end, or the reality of our many other influences also playing a role in this band, which again is part of the exciting element of doing it all. 

OPFM: One of my favorite projects that you've done is BUCKET FULL OF TEETH.  The songs had a ton or variety within their structure, almost like you were taking a lot of risks and just nailing it right every time.  Can you talk about the project a little bit, how it came to be/ what the idea behind it was?

WILL: Well, as appears to be a common thread with bands I start, BFOT was created out of a shared love for a single band.  The bassist Brad (who had played in ORCHID with me) and I had always loved
SUPPRESSION and thought that it would be cool to try to play something along those lines.  I had recorded Matt from THE CANCER KIDS and thought that he would be a good fit, so we asked him to play drums and that was that.  The band quickly evolved from being anything too similar to SUPPRESSION though and basically became us trying to push our musical boundaries while remaining essentially a grind band.  There was a funny shared moment of realization though when we recorded the music for the 1st 7" and we were all convinced that we had created something that was really out there, and then when listening back to it, it sounded surprisingly straight-forward.  Sure maybe some of the riffs were based around noise, or the like, but overall musically it wasn't really as diverse or weird as it felt when we wrote it.  From there I really tried to push the boundaries even further, and to make it sound more experimental.  I had been listening to a lot of the John Zorn grindy stuff (NAKED CITY / PAINKILLER), and a lot of prog rock (YES, KING CRIMSON, GENTLE GIANT, etc), along with shit like THE MELVINS, etc, and just other weird shit, so my revised vision of pushing boundaries became to take what I found to be interesting and inspiring about that music and to work it into a punk/grind context.  I was also trying to pull even from the world of JOAN OF ARC, who's album THE GAP I think is an amazing piece of work and is somehow jarring and weird, but at the same time extremely musical, relatable, and just a fucking awesome record that can work and be interesting on all of these multiple levels.  BFOT was the only band I've ever been in where I would try to map out song structures in my head and on paper conceptually without a guitar in my hand.  To me the 3rd 7" is where we really hit our stride and were able to pull all of these ideas off to the best of our ability.  I'm not sure that every sonic experiment we made was as successful as you make it sound (thanks though!), but I do think that we created something fairly unique.  I'm honestly surprised when people bring it up to me that they are into it, because I don't really know where in the world it fits in, if that makes any sense, and I guess I kind of assume that everyone has forgotten about it?  Maybe not though!?

OPFM: You mentioned before that you used to live in Alabama.  Why did you move out East and make it a new home of sorts?

WILL: Since many of my own friends seem to think that I was born and raised in Alabama, before I accidentally perpetuate that concept I should perhaps mention that that is not the case.  I grew up outside of Boston and lived there until 8th grade when I moved to live with my father in rural California (2 hours or so north of L.A.).  I only lived in CA for two years and then my father, who was originally from Alabama, decided to move back there, and I lived with him outside of Birmingham for four years.  I came to Western Mass for college and I think ended up staying partially because it was the only place that felt like home at that point.  I didn't want to move back to Alabama, although I had had an overall good experience there, and I didn't really have any ties to Boston except my mother.  A lot of people in this area gravitate towards New York City, but I've just never had any interest in living there.  The more that I've stuck around the Amherst area though the more I feel connected to it and realize how ideal it is in many ways.  The music scene has really consistently grown and developed over the past ten or more years.  I think that in this area we're just isolated enough to feel like a small community and benefit from the close ties that that creates and cross-genre bonds that you don't find as often in larger cities.  At the same time, it's within easy striking distance of so many cities (Boston, Providence, Hartford, Albany, New York, Brattleboro, Burlington, and even Philly, Syracuse or Montreal).  So, while I might live surrounded by the woods there's only really as much isolation as you want there to be, which is great for me.  

Friday, May 17, 2013

Quone - Demo

Quone is from Toronto and I'm told they feature members of Fox Moulder.  There are some similarities, though, Quone's dual guitar work is something to pay attention to.  At times some of the single notes can sound a bit too plucked (see "Bonesaw vs. Karl Malone"), and I'm not sure if this is intentional or not. Despite that, they still manage to create some nice texture and harmonies.

The bass and drum work is pretty solid, keeping the foundation for the songs intact.  Desperate vocals sprinkle over top, nicely placed into the mix.  Tempo changes are pretty common here and keep things interesting. 

AT times I'm reminded a bit of early 2000's Bay Area bands like Funeral Diner, Staircase and Under A Dying Sun.  The songs have a nice, subtle use of dynamics where the clean to heavy transition is less drastic and more natural. 

Check it out here.

Hell Mary - Forever on the Fence

I can't say I'm a huge fan of the artwork.  I don't know, something about the mix of boobs and blood just rubs me the wrong way.  Perhaps I'm uncomfortable with death and sexuality crashing into each other on the same medium.

That said, Hell Mary are from North Jersey and play an interesting brand of hardcore that moves swiftly and keeps your attention. Picture something that would fit in well on Bridge 9 Records, but with a little more thought put into it's construction. It's executed almost perfectly with a nice combination of catchy/straight forward hardcore mixed with some parts that don't exactly follow the usual formula.

The guitars are thick, the drums are booming and the vocals have a great variation that go from inspired speaking to angry shouts. You can find yourself singing along after a listen or two. Hell Mary seems to stand out to me more than any of the bands in this genre, they have something setting them apart. They're the type of band that works as a full functioning machine that seems to rely on all of their contributions to make their sound complete.

Typically the songs are staying under 2 minutes, so the band seems to have become well versed in packing a good amount of movement into a small frame of time.  I keep thinking of describing this as "Hardcore music for people who are tired of what most other hardcore bands have to offer". 

Check it out here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Edhochuli - S/T 2013

I caught Edhochuli play last weekend down in Lancaster and the band totally blew me away.  Having never heard them before I went in with no expectations.  They exceeded every possible hope I could have had for discovering a new band. 

Musically, Edhochuli seem to have nol imitations.  They have a large 70's rock influence that's meshed with a great screamy hardcore underside.  The technicality of each musician is pulled off wonderfully and tastefully.  No one is stealing the show here, but rather each instrument is working toward emphasizing the overall presentation of these songs. It pays off, as this some of the most interesting stuff I've heard as of late.

Strap in for a ride, because these songs are long (think anything from 4 - 8 minutes), but you'll never get bored or feel like they are overstaying their welcome.

Listen to it here.

Chambers / The Death of Anna Karina - split LP

Chambers have an interesting sound that incorporates a very matter of fact vocal style over top of some of slightly dirty tunes that keep a melodic, yet edgy tone to them.  I can't help but think this what Yage would sound like if they sang in Italian.  There's a little bit of Raein sound in here too at times when things take on a more rock and roll approach to them. Mildy distorted guitars with big chords are on display for most of the duration while the busy drums keep the tempo moving and interesting. At times the vocals take on a chanting style to them that can create a pretty nice dynamic (see "Le facce uguali di due medaglie diverse").

The Death of Anna Karina come out of the gates with an upbeat track that features a nice catchy hook. Their sound is a bit more on the straight forward rock side of things, though the tones of the guitars and taseful drum work are similar to Chambers in some respects.  The vocal delivery is a bit screamier here though and works to make the more straigh forward style more intense. Picture Amanda Woodward meets the Goodtime Boys and you start to get an idea of what's going on here. "E poi niente" almost shows the band totally change gears as they throw out a bit of fast paced d-beat influenced material. They return for their five minute finale "Labile" with it's epic qualities, including a series of peaks and valleys. 

Listen to it all here.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Dave Rudnik Interview (Kug Fu Rick, High on Crime, Seven Days of Samsara)

I first met Dave Rudnik in the early 2000's when he was playing bass for a band called Seven Days of Samsara.  His positive spirit, ferocious energy and technical musical ability left me extremely inspired. I've been following Dave's bands for some time now and he has just become one of those guys who never ceases to be a part of quality music.  Perhaps my favorite memory of Dave is when he jumped off the top turn buckle of a boxing ring and landed a knee into my back while I was playing a show.  Ah, those were the days. Dave is probably not jumping off of any top turn buckles these days; he's married, has a child and owns a house in Milwaukee and those things can make you rethink causing bodily harm to yourself and others.  However, he still manages to write and release some excellent music.  Here's a short interview I recently did with Dave on the past and the future.

OPFM: You've been playing music in bands for quite a while now. Could you please give us a list of all the bands you've been a part of over the years?

DAVE: Wretch - bass - 1994-1995
The Fratelli's - bass - 1995-1998
Luke Skawalker - bass/vocals - 1996-1998
Seven Days of Samsara - bass/vocals - 1998-present
Kungfu Rick - bass - 1998-2003
High on Crime - guitar/vocals - 2003-2008
Coffin Dodger - bass/vocals - 2005-2006
Get Rad - bass/vocals - 2005-present
HERDS - bass - 2008-2009
Party By The Slice - guitar -2008-2010
LIFES - bass/vocals - 2013-present

OPFM: How important has maintaining a DIY approach to music been to you?  Have their been pros and cons?

DAVE: At this point, I don't even really think of DIY anymore, it's just the way it is and the way I do things. I'm not strictly DIY, as in I rarely put out my own records and I usually record with a friend at his studio, but in terms of booking shows and whatnot, it's super important. Get Rad has done some shows with bigger bands that have booking agents and while the shows have been fun, the experience is very different and not really what I want to get out of playing music. I like working with friends and have been fortunate to make a ton of them over the years through music.

OPFM: You've played guitar or bass for all of your bands. In some bands you've been the main vocalist (Seven Days of Samsara, High on Crime, Lifes) as well. Is there one role you prefer to another?

DAVE: I really like singing in a band. I feel like screaming just ups the intensity that I feel for a song. Whether I'm playing guitar or bass in a band, I am happiest when I am singing backups. If I had to choose between guitar & bass, I would probably choose bass because I am better at it. Playing guitar in HOC & PBTS was fun because it was something different, but if it was an either or, I would stick with 4 strings (or 8 in the case of LIFES.)

OPFM: Your musical endeavors have spanned almost 20 years and I imagine a lot has changed in your personal life during that time.  You're married; you have a child; you own a house.  How have all the aspects of "adult" life impacted your view on what part music has in your life?

DAVE: It has had a pretty huge impact. When we first met (almost 15 years ago!) I had little to no
responsibility. Seven Days of Samsara played shows every weekend and toured every day we could when we weren't in school. That slowed down a lot with High on Crime and Get Rad when I had a mortgage to pay and a wife who I wanted to be near. The idea of spending two months away from home wasn't my dream anymore. When I found out that my wife was pregnant, I knew my touring days were pretty much over and since Milo (my son) has been born, I haven't been gone for more than one night and even when weve played a show 5 hours away, I have managed to make it home before he woke up. That's pretty much why LIFES exists. There's just two of us, were both married, own homes and have young kids. The insert of the LIFES demo sums it up pretty good. It says, "LIFES EXISTS IN THE FEW RARE MOMENTS WHEN WE HAVE A SECOND TO SPARE." And to be honest, I wouldn't want it any other way. A few years ago Get Rad went out west for two weeks and a week into the tour I was ready to go home. When Seven Days was touring, we would go out for two months and the day I got home I was ready to hit the road again. I still love playing shows and even crappy ones bring me unmeasurable amounts of joy, but I don't need to do it for weeks on end. Other things that bring me joy have taken priority.

OPFM: Has this made it tough for you to keep on what new bands are doing and exposing your ears to new music out there?

DAVE: The internet has made that way easier. I am a huge fan of bandcamp & soundcloud. If this had been 20 years ago, I would be even more out of the loop. Shit, I didn't even know you were in a new band until I saw the tour dates, but you are unusually hard to keep track of.

OPFM: Tell us about your most recent project,  LIFES.  You mentioned earlier that it's a 2 piece and that you and the drummer are sort of in the same life situation (kids, marriage, house).  How would you describe the band musically? How do you address the challenge of playing in a 2 piece band?

DAVE: Last fall the drummer of Get Rad got a new job. It's a really good job for him, but it's 2nd shift. With him working till 11 and our guitar player starting work at 5am and me working on Saturdays, we realized that there just wasn't going to be time for Get Rad on a regular basis. So for November and December I found myself for the first time in 20 years without an active band and I was going nuts. I knew I had to start another band, but I don't want to tour and I have a limited amount of time to dedicate to the band, so I knew Zak would be a perfect person to start a band with. He and his wife had their first kid in the fall and I had a blast playing with him in Party by the Slice, so I was psyched when he said he wanted to do it.

I'm not sure if you've been in a two piece before, but they are the best. It makes everything so easy. High on Crime started out as a two piece and we would jam whenever we had time. That's pretty much how LIFES is working out. We tend to get together late on Friday nights after the kids are asleep and our wives are getting ready for bed.

Musically I'd say were a hardcore band that leans towards power violence. I won't say that we are a power violence band, because I don't think the songs I write are weird enough.. yet! I'm working on it. Weird parts that somehow work and sound totally normal after the second listen.

As far as how we deal with it sonically, I play out of a few amps and we've got some pedals that make some noise. I also play an 8 string bass, so the sound is more full than it might be with a 4 string. We're a really new band who is still figuring stuff out. I think including recording and our 1 show, we have only played together 7 times so far. Give us a year and I'll be able to give you a better answer!

OPFM: To close up the interview, I'll ask how you see yourself playing from this point forward. I know Milwaukee has a good amount of older punks who are still doing bands and such. Do you ever feel there will be a point where you "age out"?

DAVE: No way. I may become less involved, but I can't imagine not playing in a band. It's just part of who I am. Milwaukee does have a bunch of old kids who are still involved, but in the past few years there has been a ton of new blood and its the young kids that keep shit from becoming stangnant.

Thanks for asking me to do this Tom. In all honesty, the worst thing about touring less is not seeing friends as often. Good thing that a lot of them are still touring! Hope you make it back this way soon!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Old Soul - Who Are Willing To Draw Close

Old Soul is fucking epic.  There's really no other way to describe this.  The band uses the age old technique of building you up and exploding into a massive wall of melody and intensity.

At times this reminds me of a more melodic Buried Inside, especially when things get slow and drawn out.  They have a few tricks up their sleeve though, and can easily jump into a mid tempo melody that will have you thinking of older Envy material.  There's even some semi d-beat sounding parts in there coupled with some nice dynamic breakdowns.  It's almost like this band has figured out a way to meld everything together but still sound totally cohesive.

The production here lends itself extremely well to this back and forth of clean, introspective pieces that rage into all out distorted frenzy.   Why am I just finding out about this band?

Here the whole thing here


Anne Hero - Answer Us If It's Cancerous

Anne Hero sort of sounds like Botch on speed.  You'll hear tons chugging guitars followed up by those screeching alarm clock sounding notes.  The songs are extremely short and seem to put as much tension and chaos into the shortest amount of time possible.

The short run time and chaotic feel sort of throws an Orchid influence into the mix.  The screeching vocals also emphasize the chaos very well. They end things with a very dreamy clean guitar part that whirls with finger tapped notes. 

About three minutes total of music, but definitely no slouch.

Listen to it here.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Adventures - S/T

Adventures is an indie outfit featuring three members of the now popular Code Orange Kids.  Adventures sort of reminds me of a female front version of the Weakerthans who have been slightly influenced by some of the more basic Rilo Kiley work. Though at times you'll hear the vocals take that dive over the cliff into an "almost scream" (see "Walking" and "Reach Out To You").

There's some pretty solid production work here and I'm pretty satisfied with how the band comes across on tape.  Every instrument is present and making it's case.

Where some may find some apprehension is getting used to the delivery of the vocals.  There's a bit of a sense of being caught in a net or twisted into a place as the voice seems to awkwardly pour out over the music at times. I'll admit that it comes across honest and almost emphasizes the emotional aspects of the presentation as whole, though it took some getting used to. 

Listen to the whole thing here.

How Will We Cross the Seas? - Official Soundtrack

According to Director (and former Rapid Cities bassist) Shaun Seneviratne "How Will We Cross the Seas? is a 16mm short film about communication and empathy; the pursuit of happiness; and the fear of dying alone."

The soundtrack boasts a nice roster of DIY artists that fall more to the indie and folk side of the spectrum. Real Good offers the most upbeat track of the bunch, "Sysiphean" which appeared on their demo last year. 

Dark Moses and Coomunipaw provide the lighter, folk side of things with their contempary indie sounds, while Brothers McGrath provide a few atmospheric pieces that would provide great back drop for introspection in the heavier scenes.  Their last track "Homeward" actually draws a nice comparison to Tristeza in some ways. 

Based on the soundtrack I'm interested to see the film in it's entirety.   You can listen to the whole thing here

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

As We Were post a new song

I reviewed As We Were's last release back in April of 2012.  This new song is the first fresh material I've heard since then and I am not disappointed by an stretch.

Drawing on their older material and improving, As We Were still carry that Have Heart meets Trial sound, though you can tell the band is experimenting with timing and instrumentation here on this track.

It pays off, as the song takes on a few different lives but weaves between them with very few awkward moments. They seem to stitch it all together well; from bass/drum into, to all out chugging guitar breakdowns, to a nice insertion of melody and spoken vocals.  To boot, the lyrics are extremely well written, fiercely political and are delivered by multiple vocalists creating some very impressive layering. Very excited to hear this new record in it's entirety. 

Check it out here.


Gillian Carter - new song posted

Gillian Carter somehow went under my radar all this time.  Where have they been all my life?  This song is absolutely fantastic. 

Middle Man Records just posted this song with the promise of posting the rest later on today.  Let's hope they do. 

This particular song "Lost Ships Sinking With The Sunset" takes you on a bit of journey.  It blazes out of the gates with chaos and desperation reminding me a bit mid 90's bands like Jasmine or Fingerprint.  It then slows down immensely to nice tapestry of full, large open chords.  Once you've begun to wind down it picks right up with blazing guitar leads and frantic screaming.  I was pretty blown away. Picture something Pianos Become the Teeth on steroids.

Have a listen here.