Quite literally, a one question interview. Also known as 1QIs, we post these first to our social media on a near-daily basis, with the archival piece here. Check 'em out.
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An in-depth discussion with a band or artist, generally in the form of a straight Q&A – no editorializing.
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Album streams, our Set List "top five..." features, our year-end "best of" lists and other music-related miscellany.
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Contributions on a range of topics from a range of industry figures: musicians, filmmakers, editors and more.
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A melting pot of mixed content: movie, book and even video game reviews. Updated sporadically, but eclectically.
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A semi-regular column exploring new and rising local bands and artists deserving of attention.
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We post a variety of features in recurring series – click below to browse them.
One-question interviews with artists where we find out about the gear and equipment they use to achieve their sound. Browse 21 features
A collection of items grouped by topic, eg. "Top 5 Worst Beatles Songs" or "Top 10 best '77 punk releases". Browse 20 features
A wide-ranging guest column written by BJ from Ancient Shores, mainly covering film but extending into philosophy and aesthetics too. Check out BJ's work on the A389 podcast. Browse 15 features
Guest column by T of Vegas Browse 13 features
A roundup of coverage of the annual punk rock festival held in Gainesville, Florida Browse 4 features
A life lived and lessons learned by Eddie Spaghetti of Supersuckers. Browse 4 features
Our annual roundup from Gainesville, FL's famous Fest. Browse 4 features
It's the end of 2013, so here's our best-of roundup for the last twelve months. Browse 4 features
SPB's coverage of the annual festival in Gainesville, Florida. Browse 4 features
Our annual round-up of the best music of the year 2014. Browse 4 features
A brief but englightening chat with an artist who reveals an interesting or unexpected story from their career Browse 4 features
Our annual round-up of the best music of the year 2015. Browse 4 features
Our annual round-up of the best music of the year 2016. Browse 4 features
There’s so much music released, whether physically or digitally, that keeping up with what’s going on becomes almost like a full time job. With Only Death Is Real, the aim is to bring you something new. Browse 4 features
Our summary of the best music (and more) of 2018. Browse 3 features
Our wrap-up of the best music and more from 2019 Browse 3 features
A collection of coverage rounding up the year 2012, covering our favorite albums, shows, bands, and more, as well as asking record labels and bands about their past twelve months in music Browse 3 features
A cookery column by Nick, vocalist with metal band The Famine. Veggie/vegan friendly! Browse 3 features
Our annual round-up of the best music of the year 2017. Browse 2 features
A regular series by Robert F. Browse 2 features
A semi-regular column where we choose a specific area and give a local scene report. Browse 1 features
Our coverage of the annual Fest extravaganza. Browse 1 features
Luke (Somni) SPB: What is the best movie you’ve seen this year? Luke: I've seen a lot of great films this year, so this is tricky. I'm going to go with The Witch (dir: Robert Eggers), a great little horror film set in yee olde times featuring a goat called Black Philip. It was brilliant! I'm a big horror fan, and this was what I'd call a proper horror film, but others might not. By that I mean that it doesn't rely on jump scares or gore, instead building up tension through the atmosphere ...
Quite literally, a one question interview. Also known as 1QIs, we post these first to our social media on a near-daily basis, with the archival piece here. Check 'em out.
Nate Cook (The Yawpers)
SPB: What’s the worst or harshest thing that’s happened to you in the middle of a tour?
Cook: We were in Bern, Switzerland. I’d spent the last 6 months unable to move due to a collapsed disc in my neck. It had finally stopped crippling my movement about 2 weeks prior. We were playing a show at a circus tent, and were nearing the end of a tour. I had been looking forward to this show for weeks. The promoter was dope, our last show there had been cool af, and there was a girl there I had met the time before that I was excited to see again.
On this tour, we had a Bavarian tour manager, Andy. He looked like a caricature of a WW1 regular army chef, with striking blue eyes set into a soft red face. He was built like a barrel, with strips or muscle lacerating his body. He took no guff and feared nothing.
Bern has a very progressive attitude towards drug use. Usually, for someone of my ilk, that’s a boon. But after walking past the third needle exchange I’d seen in a block, when jumping over countless orange plugged syringes, the policies had lost their zeal.
Plus it was hot. Remarkably hot. And we were towards the end of 6 weeks of plugging away on the road. After setting up our gear underneath the tent, while a tawdry bartender openly complained about our presence, our promoter mentioned a river we could take a dip.
She mentioned it casually, like we were going to jump into the normal bandaid ridden cesspools we had frequented in a lifetime of Ramada Inns.
“Let’s take a dip in the river. It’s perfect this time of year.”
The walk to the river itself was harrowing. Bern is built inside old castle walls, and the water was at the bottom of them. Steep steps littered with state sponsored smack addicts, also had wisps of blood, either from a mixed needle, or a hemorrhaging median cubital. So much blood. As we approached the river, it became clear that the junkies and their flotsam were going to be the least of our concern.
It wasn’t a river. It was a torrent of ice melt from the alps. A moat of quickened death making a horseshoe around the city. Frothy azure water stretched about 50 yards across, was littered with scores of bodies, flailing wildly against the current that pulled them past our line of sight. The entrance point was a bridge at least a half mile up stream. We walked slowly, as if to a dirge.
As we approached the bridge, we hid our clothes and shoes in a bush. The Swiss, for all of the myriad stereotypes applied to them, are apparently fearless. Toddlers, drunks, grandmothers: all of them approached the water with a veneer of fatalistic nihilism you don’t really see outside of Europe. Andy began to voice concern.
“We have a show to do. I’m not sure if this a good idea.”
I could feel the pulse of his fear; it was in tandem with mine.
As we walked past the disinterested throngs of attractive and well-dressed Europeans, sprawled on trendy blankets or standing on the bridge’s hand rails, the moment’s gravity set in.
Our promoter was taking lead, and seemed unfazed, so we attempted to follow in kind. On the far side of the bridge, she walked us to a bight with a small muddy beach. I dipped my foot in the water.
It felt like a traction beam made of Freon. Instant neuropathy. And my god, the current. Surely this was a bad idea. I turned to tell everyone we should probably just walk back and eat some fondue before the show.
Our promoter, immune to a sense of mortality, leapt in before I could find a voice. It was too late now. Death is a distant fear to being a coward.
The band leapt.
The cold is undesirable. It felt like fever sweat. My body contracted. I was aware of my breath. I felt my head start to slip under the water. My body started to warm. I felt like I was home.
Then, the current. I was wrestled from instant hypothermic dreams of unconditional love. Of peace. Right into the ravenous maw of nature. My arms somehow began pulling me across the river to the only safe exit point on the other side.
I had purpose. To survive. I had jumped out of the dregs, and into the froth. I competed with death.
I saw our promoter reach the other side. She grabbed the steel railing of a submerged staircase that led out of the water.
I did the same moments later. The current nearly pulled my arm out of its socket. I felt the nerve in my neck slide back between my discs. The pain was excruciating, but I managed to pull my shapeless, frail body onto the cold bank.
The band was close behind.
Andy was nowhere to be seen.
I scanned the river. We had floated a half-mile downstream in the span of a minute, and the river was full of people. Side effects of a less litigious society. Eventually, I spotted him.
He was frantically bear hugging a sapling that was too weak to stand up straight, and had fallen with his passing grasp. 200 pounds of Germanic heritage, separately clinging on to the young that sprouted from these Swiss banks.
He was a quarter-mile up stream, so we could do nothing but watch as he, arm over arm, climbed from certain death to an even more certain crag of river edge, replete with goatheads and used needles.
We sprinted to him, and as we approached, breathless, he informed us in perfect English,
“I can’t really swim.”
The girl I had wanted to see that night showed up with her boyfriend, and I spent the next three months in the fetal position, as my neck had collapsed on the nerve again.
And the water was cold.
Shanti Wintergate (Play Date)
SPB: What is the biggest different in how you approach writing a song for children as compared to writing a song for adults?
Wintergate: I would have to say the actual approach and process is pretty much the same. We set out to make authentic, thoughtful music for kids and families. So as much as we maybe stick to a more positive or playful energy or themes with the kids stuff, the musical approach and genuine care in the songwriting and production is the same. We want to enjoy listening to it ourselves and for it to even move us in some way. It’s all we can go on, ya know. :)
When we first started making music for kids, there wasn’t a lot of options for kids music that didn’t make your ears want to bleed after listening to it 100 times (which is what happens with kids). There wasn’t a lot out there with heart and soul to it...and I don’t mean “soul” as a genre but, you know, depth, substance, care. Isn’t that what we all want for our children?!
Anyway, now there’s a lot more to choose from out there from people that I think felt just like we did. If you look at the children’s category of nominations for the Grammy’s, there are way more independent “kindle” artists getting nominated. It’s not all Disney and Kids Bop... so maybe there’s some hope! :)
Dries (Loud Love-vocals)
SPB: Is the recently released EP reason for extensive touring or are you more focused on releasing more material soon(ish)?
Dries: Well yes and..no :)
The aspect of bringing your music on a live stage: the aspect of connecting with your peers and audience, the sense of community and togetherness created during a live performance is a super-important element of every punk or hardcore band. So yes, we love to play, we looooove it. So of course we’re very happy the EP generates that demand and we’re more than satisfied with the number of shows we can play right now.
But we’re currently also in a very creative phase and already have a bunch of new songs we’re eager to record. We’re a relatively new band so we’re still finding that balance between getting out there, trying to reach as many people as possible with our music and, on the other hand, maintaining that creative flow where we’re writing a bunch of new songs, where we’re totally enjoying creating music together and further evolving and growing as band. We’re trying to find that mix between playing as much as we can and finding the right amount of time to finish and record our new songs just the way we like it.
But one thing must be clear: we want to be a strong presence on stage as well as a band that’s creative, evolving and bringing new music on a regular basis.
SPB: You took time to write this second album. What are your plans for the near future (or to put it bluntly: are you planning on working a third album soon)?
Ray: At the moment we are really happily promoting our latest release, Return of The Infamous Four. We're playing shows, festivals, doing some tours and we have two more video's coming out. We keep promoting this album until the end of 2020.
But, at the same time, we already have some ideas for a new record too! So during this period songs will be written, but writing a new album is not our main goal right now. We'll probably start focusing on that in 2021. We are really happy that people are already asking about a new record and that they are wanting more.
Lazerbeak (Shredders / Doomtree)
SPB: To you, what is the most important element in your setup to get the best live sound?
Lazerbeak: By far it's the MPC Rennaissance. I grew up making beats on the MPC 2000XL and it's really all I know as far as production is concerned. When AKAI released the Renaissance it was a game changer for me because it was the first time I was able to work with plug-ins and MIDI on my laptop and still utilize all the things I've come to love about the MPC. My setup is literally a laptop, the Renaissance, and a pair of headphones -- whether it's performing live or making a new track in the studio -- and it all fits in my backpack.
Ben (Much Worse)
SPB: What was your first live show?
Ben: First concert: Oasis/Black Crowes at Roy Wilkins [Auditorium] when I was in 7th grade. My old man got tickets through his work or something like that.
John Erik Kaada (Kaada, Cloroform)
SPB: What is your favorite album cover of all time?
Kaada: We are currently planning the release of a new Cloroform album, and on band meetings we have discussed what to do next in terms of design and visual appearance. We dug up the album cover we made for a release of a remix album in 2001, where other Norwegian artists perform our music. The album was called Scrawl, and had knitted covers. We got a knitting factory in Molde to knit 3000 covers for the cd release. They made them in three colours. Red, green and blue. I don’t mention it to brag about our own covers. But I do think that the idea was actually pretty awesome, and I’m proud that we went through with it. We are now investigating if it is possible to do something similar on our new vinyl release. A knitted stagedrop would also be nice. Maybe there are some relatives out there that could knit a 3x5meters backdrop for us? Don’t know how long it would take to knit something like that, but it would be good if it was done ‘til our next tour in April 2020. Know anybody that could be up for the task?
David Stickney (Pound – drums)
SPB: Walk our readers through your kit and offer insight as to how you arrived at your sizes (shells and cymbals)?
Stickney: The best way to think of my kit is actually as 2 separate kits. The main kit is a typical, traditional kit: just kick, snare and two toms. My shells are made of steel, I have a 22” by 14” kick, a 13” by 9” hi tom, a 16” by 16” floor tom, and I have a 13” by 7” Chrome snare drum.
For cymbals, I have 13” hi hats, an 18” fast crash, a 16” trash stack, a 24” thick ride with a gigantic bell, and a 20” china.
If I turn to my left, I have a second kit set up that is very minimalist. I have a gigantic 30” old Slingerland marching drum as my kick, a big brass 14” by 8” snare, and two ride cymbals that I crash on, one 24” and another 22”.
I never play the two kits at the same time, I swivel between the two of them. The main kit is for all of the fast, intricate technical parts, and the minimalist oversized kit is for all the heavy, stomping beatdown parts. Think of it as a guitarist kicking on a distortion or a boost pedal -- it’s my live, acoustic version of that.
I wish I could say the idea started as a stroke of artistic genius, but it actually much more utilitarian than that. I had a giant kick drum I wanted to use (at the time just a 28”, I’ve since upgraded), but it didn’t sound good playing fast intricate grindy parts, so I had the idea, “I’ll just put it over here, and switch to it for the slower riffs.” It might not have even been my idea, Ryan might have suggested it. Neither of us really can remember the exact moment the idea birthed, we just suddenly started doing it.
Brianda (Just Friends)
SPB: Did you intentionally choose a name that’s impossible to Google?
Brianda: Hahahahahahaha I had no part in that *three laughing emojis*
Will Butler (Tired of Everything – vocals)
SPB: Tired Of Everything is your first time singing in a band. Between your first show and today, what have you done to shape how your voice sounds live?
Butler: I would say, honestly, I still don't know what I'm doing as far as my voice as an instrument. My first major step from the preparation for the first show and performing it was both knowing the lyrics and exuding confidence.
I'm a quiet person so it took a lot to walk up on stage and, since then, I've played on some bigger stages and feel comfortable and confident. Singing (or as my mom would call yelling) in a band is rough on my voice so I try to get in weekly practice with the full band to strengthen my vocal cords. A ton of the work for the band isn't the actual singing which is ironic -- I write lyrics, figure out shows we are going to play, etc and I'm busy with a day job and a record label, so it is about scheduling and doing better with phrasing in practice and the rest of my time is spent with the other parts. I look at my favorite punk singers and I'm pretty sure they are doing things the same way: they tossed themselves into the situation and they make the most of it. We oddly recorded before playing our first show and I think the recording process is harrowing as it brings what you're doing into a tangible thing. That experience and recording some practice demos have let me step outside of myself to see what I could do better. I wouldn't say I'm a gleaming example of a singer but I enjoy it and I enjoy having a message to spread.
Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation)
SPB: What is the worst you’ve been screwed by a venue or promoter? (No need to name names…unless there is.)
Ryan: There's a guy named Mitch that runs a venue called Ground Zero in Spartanburg, SC. We were on a tour that was booked during a gigantic boom in tours at the time -- EVERYONE was out touring at the same time and I don't think many of them were doing great because of it.
So many agents do this -- they just book and book and book all their fucking bands at the same time so everyone's competing. Anyway, we arrive to the venue, totally exhausted, this absolute asshole at Ground Zero just says "Ticket sales suck, you can play but I'm not paying anyone". Our tour manager got super pissed, got in his face about it and the dude called his buddies to come protect him. He just sits and brags about how he brought Slayer fucking 25 years earlier like any of us give a shit. Then he called the fucking cops on us after we did in fact play.
We weren't going to stiff the fans that did show up, but this dude sure had no problem stiffing us. He called the cops at the end to have us all removed from the property because our TM had gotten really angry at him. The next time we come to SC we played somewhere else and I mentioned to the crowd how glad I was to not be playing for that douchebag Mitch. The place ERUPTED in applause. Countless people came up to us afterwards telling their stories of this asshole and that they totally understood where we were coming from regarding him.
OF COURSE, some bootlicker goes and tells his ass and now I'M the bad guy. He goes on a tirade online about me, that I'm a shit talker, blah blah blah. One thing I've NEVER done is stiffed someone after signing a contract. This guy gets it. He knows nothing's gonna happen. He fucked over the entire tour package which was rather extensive and had a lot of bands on it. But I'm the asshole here to him. He fucks over an entire package, I say one little thing to an audience who was unanimously in agreement about this dude, but yeah... I'M the big asshole new, sure, yeah, that makes all the sense in the world. Fuck that dude. Never went back and never will.
Jim Blaha (The Blind Shake - guitar)
SPB: What type of guitar do you play with The Blind Shake and how did you pick that model?
Blaha: For The Blind Shake I always was drawn towards the cheaper models like Univox, Tiesco and Danelectro (they were cheap when the band started at least). I never wanted the guitar to be too precious. I liked them because they were really light and I could move around with them more on stage. As things progressed I ended up playing a Telecaster. I love it. It stays in tune so well and it is so normal it's weird again.
Ryan Schutte (Pound – baritone guitar)
SPB: What led you to the baritone guitar as your instrument of choice?
Schutte: I do a fair amount of hybrid picking which is more difficult on larger gauge strings. The baritone 9 string allows me to use lighter gauge strings, which is easier on my fingers. The thinner strings also help clean things up a bit, resulting in less mud in my tone.
Dan Jones (California X)
SPB: How many vans have you had? (Any related “death of a” stories?)
Jones: The short answer is: One.
Our main touring vehicle during the first few years of the band was a Red Jeep owned by Lemmy-The-Singer. It was a tight fit, and we had to borrow gear at a lot of the shows we played. It was so packed with boys that the shocks would bottom out any time we hit a bump on the highway, causing everyone to wince. We got our one and only True Tour Van when Jesse from Hoax moved away from Western Mass. He was going to junk their old van but offered it to us first. We gladly purchased it from him for $500. It was a white Dodge Ram 15-Passenger that used to belonged to Ampere before it passed to Hoax. Our first trip out was down south and things went smoothly until we returned home, when the front right wheel fell off near UMass a few miles from our house. It was a cheap fix, and we continued on. The van made it a little longer and helped us out on our full-U.S. tour, but the transmission blew in Connecticut around 3am during our return trip. The van dying played a huge role in the decline of our activity as a band. We still play shows sometimes, but the death of that van really killed a lot of our motivation to play. Soon after that, our lives became busier and we found that we didn't have as much free time to tour, and the prospect of renting a van was kind of a bummer. I really do miss that van almost every day.
Pictured: The day after Jesse dropped the van off at our house.
Bobby Hussy (The Hussy, Fire Heads, Cave Curse)
SPB: Are you partial to a specific model of guitar?
Bobby: I am partial to a few guitars depending on the project. In The Hussy I almost exclusively used offset Fender guitars like jaguars and jazzmasters, until rather recently when MPLS Guitars made me a custom guitar with a Fender Jazzmaster whammy for the new Looming LP. I love it! It feels like a Gibson but has the wild whammy of a jazzmaster!
In Fire Heads I always use a Gibson Les Paul. I love the “chunk” it puts off with high gain amps.
In Cave Curse I use a Gibson Flying V to get that cutting tone plus cutting “look”. :)
SPB: What guitar do you play and what do you like about it when performing solo, versus with a full band?
Turner: I play Martin D45 acoustic guitars live these days, I have four of them. They are spectacular instruments. I went through a lot of other types of guitar, many of them excellent (special shout out to Gibson Hummingbirds) but it's hard to find an acoustic that can handle the beating I give it during a full band show. The Martin stands up to me, so I love it. For solo shows I quite often use my ~Gibson 1957 Country & Western, but it's more of a home guitar than something for the road, as it's kind of an antique.
Rob Huddleston (Ann Beretta)
SPB: Did you use a different model guitar on the recordings of your old material (Old Scars, New Blood) than on the original recordings? How did it affect the overall sound, in your opinion?
Huddleston: The answer is yes and no. Old Scars, New Blood is a collection of rerecorded songs from every record we've released. For this record we wanted to put together songs that were less of a greatest hits and more like a current live show and with a few songs we wanted to revise them a bit to reflect the current band. I don't own many of the guitars used on Bitter Tongues as I gave them away to friends but, for later records, some of the same guitars were used. My guitar sound hasn't changed much as I've used the same Mesa Boogie Duel Rectifier amp since 1997 but for this record I did experiment a little with different amp and guitar combos depending on the song.
For all songs the basic rhythm tracks are played on a late ‘90s Epiphone Sheraton that was custom made for Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse before he passed away. I've owned this guitar for a while now and it's become my go-to stage guitar. Since we wanted to have a live sound and feeling to this record it’s the main guitar and sound used throughout. I've modified the guitar slightly by having Lindy Fralin put in some of his noise canceling P-90 pickups in. They give a great crunchy sound while reducing some of the noise and feedback created by hollow body guitars. For the clean sound I use either a 1952 Gibson ES-125 through a vintage amp or a Fender Nashville Edition Telecaster that I think was only made for a year or two in the early 2000s. I play the Fender through a hand wired Vox VC30 combo amp for anything needing a bright and clean tone. The song Broadway features this clean sound and is one of my favorite sounding moments on the record.
Another guitar that was played frequently on the record was a late ‘90s Ibanez Art Star. This guitar while not expensive also has a great crunch to it and is pretty versatile. It was my main stage guitar for the last few touring years of the band. I never really toured with expensive guitars and this one really took a beating. This guitar and the Fender were used as the primary guitars on our Three Chord Revolution album. The Ibanez was probably used a bit on a few other recordings also but i'm not sure which songs specifically.
Joshua Fleming (The Vandoliers)
SPB: How do you describe your sound to strangers?
Fleming: It’s Texas Music.
Tierney Tough (The Pauses)
SPB: Where did you learn to drive? And what kind of car was it?
Tough: My dad taught me how to drive in empty parking lots in some sort of dad-like truck, probably like everyone else's parents did with them. He also showed me how to drive and park with a trailer, which I can confidently say, is one of my greatest skills in life. It's especially fun for me when random men on tour are shocked that I can do that, which happens more often than not.
SPB: You've been touring a lot including some interesting support tours. What's your absolute dreamband to tour with and why?
Distillator: We've had the pleasure to tour with many of our favorite bands already: Vektor, Pestilence and Metal Church. Since we are a band with 3 people we have 3 different opinions. We'd love to do a tour with the following bands: Opeth, Gojira, Behemoth.
All these bands have a great balance between melody and progression, great grooves and brutal riffs. They play very well, great musicians and put on a great show.
Of course there are many more bands that we would love touring with such as Coroner, Atheist, Megadeth, etc... Honestly, we love touring and being on the road. No matter with what band, we always have a great time and cool shows.
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