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 38 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
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 7 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
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 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
How an artist spends their time by day will influence the creative process at night. In Don’t Quit Your Day Job, Scene Point Blank looks at how musicians split their time, and how their careers influence their music – or, alternately &ndash 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
Discussing the state of the music business at the kitchen table Browse 2 features
Our coverage of the annual Fest extravaganza. Browse 1 features
A semi-regular column where we choose a specific area and give a local scene report. Browse 1 features
Luke Henshaw (Planet B) SPB: How has the increasing digitalization of music changed how you listen or record? Henshaw: To me, with the increasing digitalization of music, a lot of what I hear is all sounding the same and I’m having a hard time differentiating who's who. There’s no creativity with the production. Everyone's sharing and using the same software with the same functions. I'm also finding a lack of actual song writing occurring right now as well. Digital programs make it so anyone with a computer can push 1 button and record a song ...
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.
Mike Bruno (Adult Magic, Iron Chic, Dead Broke Rekerds)
SPB: What is your favorite 1960s artist?
Mike Bruno: My personal favorite ‘60s artist is definitely the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Jimi Hendrix, of course is one of the greatest guitar players to ever live, if not the best. His band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience (that existed mid-late ‘60s composed of Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell) are definitely one of the most electrifying 3-piece power trios in rock ‘n’ roll history. They do not get enough credit at all. They were tight as hell, but still somehow displayed a care-free, almost punk (but psychedelic) "looseness" to the music. Really listen to any of the studio albums they appeared on together ("Are You Experienced", "Axis: Bold As Love", "Electric Ladyland") or watch any footage of the band live and you'll find it pretty damn hard to argue.
SPB: What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
Steve Diaz (guitar): Bus boy at a Mexican food restaurant for 1 day. They tried to make me recycle the chips and salsa from used tables back in the mix. Even at 16 I knew that shit was fucked.
Louis Ramsey (guitar): I worked at a siding (for houses and whatnot) warehouse. There were three of us that worked there and I was low man, so they made me load and unload all the trucks by myself. If you pick up box of aluminum siding incorrectly you can kink the entire box and they'd dock your pay (and they're expensive) and it's almost impossible to move an old-school bay window with one person.
Dan Achin (drums): My first job was washing towels at an automated car wash. All I could do was wash, dry and fold towels ‘cause I wasn't old enough to pull the cars forward when they got to the end. Also, the other dudes that then dried and detailed the cars didn't want me helping ‘cause they wanted the tips. I made $3.35 an hour.
Tony Bucci (Broken Field Runner - guitar, vocals)
SPB: What is your favorite 1970s artist?
Bucci: My favorite artist from the ‘70s has got to be Nick Drake. I️ hadn’t heard of his music until I️ was 19 and was visiting with my “cool cousin” Tempi who put it on during a long drive saying, “Tell me when this was released because I️ bet you can’t.” She was 100% correct.
His music is as fresh sounding today as it was in 1972 and is a testament to how your art can touch people long after your gone, most notably Elliott Smith and Kings of Convenience in his case. I️ toyed with giving Judee Sill because of how thoroughly her S/T album has grabbed me as an adult, but Nick Drake drove me to look more earnestly at my acoustic guitar as more than just something wail on.
Ian Vanek (Howardian)
SPB: Walk our readers through your kit and offer insight as to how you arrived at your sizes (shells and cymbals).
Vanek: Howardian play on a 1963 Rogers "bread and butter" crushed oyster kit. It's stylized with the rack tom and cymbal stand coming off the bass drum. It consists of a 20-inch bass drum, 12-inch tom and a 16-inch floor tom. I have a Pearl "free floating" brass snare drum. I use a Zildjin 1960s 18-inch ride cymbal, a pair of vintage 13-inch Zildjin hi-hat cymbals and a riveted 16-inch Zildjin crash.
I made these choices based on years of listening to players I thought had the sound that closest reflected what I wanted to do. This meant looking up to The Ventures, The Sonics and Buddy Rich. All of whom made these jazz-like kits really sing. Pre-rock drums was the route to making something I wanted to stamp with my logo. I'm willing to play anything really, but when I'm at home this is what I've collected, I guess. Limitation is important and these traditional implements are more than enough for me as a player to have fun.
Ian Vanek is also a Scene Point Blank contributor.
Andy Lefton (War//Plague – guitar)
SPB: What guitar model do you play in War//Plague and how does it lend to “the War//Plague sound”?
Lefton: It took some time to get the signature sound we wanted. Staying heavy and retaining clarity while playing blistering fast was something we strived for. As we grew, we knew we were in for the long haul, so it was vital for us to invest in gear that we could have for the rest of our lives. Having two guitarists meant working in sync with different tones and layers.
Starting out as a young musician I used what I could get my hands on, but over time I learned it wasn’t so much about the noise, but how to define that noise into your own identity without riding the coattails of others. I initially worked off some influences, asking who was happy with what sounds, etc. but over time realized you need to understand the art and science of investing in good gear of your own.
After my Peavey, B.C. Rich, Jackson, Line 6 Solid State phases, I ended up with what I feel is damn good sound for what we’re doing. My current set up is a Schecter Damien 6 guitar with Seymour Duncan Invader pickups, Blackstar HT 100 Metal head and Line 6 cab with V30s. The native overdrive from the Blackstar is fantastic! I previously came from a Peavey 6505+ head, which was great as well, but there’s no noise gate built in, so that began a domino effect of buying numerous pedals to control the sound and I just got tired of daisy chaining what I needed. So after years of growing pains, I think we’re in a good spot!
SPB: When did you start thinking about the name change (from Jake & The Jellyfish) and how did you decide that now is the time?
Jake: To be honest we’d been talking about changing it from the word go. It was only ever a “hold” name, but we just played more and more shows and the name became more and more known so it never got changed. When we were recording these new songs it felt like the evolution of the sound of the band had really cemented itself and we’d changed a fair bit as a band from its inception, so we just thought we’d do it. We’ve been pretty stoked with how it’s been received to be honest, as I was super worried about it, but it’s only been positive!
Jesse Sendejas (Days N Daze)
SPB: Is there a special technique you use to optimize the sound of your banjo when playing clubs?
Sendejas: It's just me layering instruments in the recordings so we've only actually had a banjo player play with us live a handful of times, and usually all acoustic so sound wasn't an issue. John Warmb of Rent Strike did play banjo for us a while back at Neumos in Seattle and whatever they did sounded great. Think they just threw an SM-57 in front of 'em. I'm not great with live sound as I've been playin' in an acoustic band for the last decade, but yeah, I guess throw an SM-57 on it!! Maybe cut some of those highs out.
Galen Baudhuin (Infera Bruo)
SPB: Were there any amps, cabs or anything else that stood out when you recorded Cerement at Studio G?
Baudhuin: Studio G is essentially a mobile recording unit, and kind of exists wherever I go. In this instance it was at our rehearsal space in Massachusetts. Both guitars (a Paul Reed Smith and a Gibson Les Paul) were run into a Peavy 5150 head going into a Marshall 4x12, and a Marshall JCM 800 going into a custom 6x12 that my good friend Brian Izzi (Trap Them, APMD, etc.) Built by hand. So basically left and right guitar both have two amps on them. In the mix one side favors the JCM and the other, the 5150. We also used Germanicus' (our synth player) Fender twin for the clean guitar in the intros and outros.
SPB: Was the mic’ing of your kit in the studio for Frail Bray fairly straight-forward, or were there some things you and the engineer did to find the right mics or experiment with sounds?
Jack Shirley (producer): The mic’ing was pretty straight forward. I have a default configuration I like to start with. If it sounds right, we go with it.
Chad Williams (drummer): We used Jack Shirley’s go-to mic setup for the drum kit, made a couple positioning tweaks based on the sound we heard back from tape playback, and really just went for the live sound and feel.
SPB: What model of guitar do you play and how did you choose it?
Steve: I play a fender mexi pbass with delano pmvc 4 fe/m2 pickups (quarter pounders on roids) and always a fresh set of 45-100 strings. It's super bright, but still meaty. My stingray was too stingray-ey for me. My american pbass has a lot of sentimental and monetary value, so I'd prefer not to risk taking it out of my house. I bought a cheap MIM fender pbass on craiglist, then replaced almost every component and had a buddy paint on it, and it does exactly what I need it to while being a fun conversation starter with some gear nerds.
Rory [plays a] Gibson Les Paul or SG Silverburst ‘60s slim style neck for his baby trump hands. Burstbucker pro pickups. 10-46 Ernie Ball regular slinkys. Sounds great. Looks great.
Dane Erback (Jetsam-Flotsam)
SPB: What is your favorite 1980s artist?
Dane: My wife and I run the label together, but I work with the bands and manage production.
This is an easy question. Oingo Boingo is my favorite ‘80s artist. I was born in the ‘80s and my entire childhood pre-elementary school was in that decade. My parents listened to music all the time, and I remember the Only a Lad cassette lying around a lot. The weird thing about Oingo Boingo is that, when I rediscovered them as a young adult—stole my mom’s copy of Dead Man’s Party on CD—I realized that I recognized so many of their songs already. I guess their musical vibe was ingrained in me as a kid.
Their music is really different. There’s a sort of punk energy, lots of new wave synths, ska and soul rhythms, a beefy horn section, weird time signatures, dancey beats, and smart, political lyrics. Because of this, their music is almost impossible to describe, but there’s also no band or artist that captures their sound. Danny Elfman, the band’s frontman, went on to be a well-respected soundtrack composer, and you can hear his songwriting style in his scores as well—especially in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, and The Nightmare Before Christmas (and plenty of contemporary ones too).
Francis (Hope Drone – drums)
SPB: Was the mic’ing of your kit in the studio fairly straight forward, or were there some things you and the engineer did to find the right mics or experiment with sounds?
Francis: Personally I wanted to go for a natural, organic Albini-esge drum sound. I put my faith in our engineer Christopher Brownbill who we have worked with previously and is a good pal. Chris tried to find the line between ambient and an expansive sound, but also closer and intimate enough for the aggressive parts so the articulation could cut through. A fair bit of experimentation occurred, but the main help was the drumming was consistent and not too heavy handed on the cymbals. The bottom line was trying to be realistic with the sound recording.
SPB: From when you were starting out to now, what parts of your setup have really helped voice your sound over the years?
Sebastian: I'd have to say the most important piece of gear to the Noisem sound has been my white Fender Stratocaster. In terms of playability and ease of use to me they're second to none. When I play live I need to cut through a harsh wall of sound and the presence of the typically bright and jangly Strat lends its hand to that well. People grill me all the time about using a Strat too and I have to remind them of all the killer music that has been created on Strats. Everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Iron Maiden to Possessed and Obituary have used them to great effect. Without that guitar I don’t think we would sound the same.
Dick Lucas (Subhumans UK)
SPB: You’re at least somewhat active in three different bands. Do you make a point with Subhumans to differentiate your vocal sound or delivery from your other bands? How so?
Lucas: No. What sets the vocal sound for any song [is] whichever band is the music I'm singing to: so hard and fast leads to fairly tuneful yelling, whereas a slower song has the space to allow me to be able to hit the good melodic notes without losing breath. A lot of the Subhumans' songs are in the hard and fast bracket, but even the slower ones are prone to the other deciding element when it comes to vocal sound, which is my age at the time of recording! Like a lot of things, singing gets better over time, and the early recordings are full of strained and missed notes. Not that it mattered at the time!
Greg Antista (Greg Antista & the Lonely Streets)
SPB: You’ve seen a lot of changes (and cycles) in the music scene. What stands out to you as a constant both when you started and today?
Antista: The common denominator in the music that has moved me over my lifetime is powerful songwriting with a hook you can’t get out of your head. As a teenager coming of age in the late 1970s, I fell in love with the music and culture of that time. The songs that never got old — the ones I listened to hundreds of times — became connected to milestones and memories that remain embedded in my mind. With bands like the Ramones and the Clash, you may not have caught all the lyrics the first time around, but the choruses and melodies had you hooked at the start.
By the time I started to venture out into my local Orange County punk scene in the early ‘80s, once again, bands like the Adolescents and Social Distortion grabbed me with their strong, relatable songwriting. Songs like the Adolescents’ “No Way” simply bring to life what every teenager wants to yell at the top of their lungs. Later would come Rancid, followed now by the Interrupters. Both bands deliver choruses and melodies that make you move and sing along at the same time. I know there are many who find great value in subtle, textured songwriting, but I’ve always preferred a three-minute musical punch to the face. That’s what I’ve tried to achieve in my own songwriting as well.
Jeff Moses (World Domination, Inc. / 월드 도미네이션 인코퍼레이트)
SPB: How do you find the international artists who are on the label?
Moses: All of the bands on our label come from the personal connections we've built from being involved in the punk scene for over 20 years. With the bands from outside Korea, it's not different.
Right now, Iman's League (Singapore) and Green Eyed Monster (Japan) are the only two non-Korean bands officially on World Domination, Inc. We met both of them while ...Whatever That Means was on tour in Southeast Asia and Japan. We played together in their countries, booked them tours in Korea, and then made it a little more official by becoming their label here in Korea.
Beyond the bands officially on the label, we've done releases with bands from the US, Mexico, Malaysia, and have an upcoming release with a ska band from the UK. Again, these are all through the personal connections we've made through touring abroad and booking tours here in Korea. That's one of the most exciting parts of being a small DIY label. Any show or band you book could lead to new connections with great bands from all over the work. It's really cool.
Marissa (Screaming Females)
SPB: How does your choice of guitar define the Screaming Females sound?
Marissa: I never put much thought into what sort of guitar I wanted to play in Screaming Females, because I didn't have much of a choice. My G&L was a gift given to me when I first began playing, and it always seemed to suit my style of playing fine. When Screaming Females first began playing shows and touring, I tried playing out with some other guitars but they never felt right.
I guess there's a lot to say about the history of guitar-based music and the stratocaster, but I'm sure there are plenty of articles about it on the world wide web! I'm no expert!
Alex (Debt Neglector)
SPB: Songs about girls: yay or nay? (Why? Any favorite examples?)
Alex: Songs about girls are fine I guess if it’s done respectfully. Some of my favorite bands write songs about girls but there are times when it can get a little cringe inducing. Like I don’t want to hear a song about a “nice guy” complaining that the girl he likes doesn’t like him back. That’s her right not to be interested in you, and she doesn’t owe you anything. You can be bummed about it sure, but don’t portray it like that person has wronged you in some way.
But I’m not a total curmudgeon. “Punk Rock Girl” by the Dead Milkman is such a sweet song about being really into someone and there’s nothing misogynistic about it. They just run around town together causing trouble and having fun. It’s both silly and romantic.
I’ve never found myself able to write a song about romantic relationships though. Like I recently went through a divorce and we’re finishing writing a new record now, but there’s not a song on it about it. Even though there are other personal topics on the record I couldn’t really delve into that for some reason. At least not yet. I think when situations are complicated and convoluted it can be hard to boil them down to a two-minute punk song while doing the situation justice. Plus the world really seems to be falling apart around us so I get to spend a lot of time yelling about that instead.
John (Disconnect Disconnect Records)
SPB: You've had a good run in 2019. What do we have to look forward to in 2020?
John: 2019 was great for Disconnect Disconnect, working with some great upcoming bands (Blowfuse, A Time To Stand, Drunktank, Stone Lions, Kill The Rooster), great new albums from some bands we’d worked with before (The Decline, Primetime Failure, Thousand Oaks), and working with some personal heroes (Ten Foot Pole and Radar State).
This year I’m trying to keep everything “business as usual,” working with some great new UK and Euro bands and helping some better known bands get their albums out in the UK. We’ve already got a couple of releases announced, with the debut Hell’s Ditch 7” sure to be the start of great things from this band made up of ex and current members of UK faves River Jumpers, Bad Ideas and Maycomb, whilst we’re doing the UK release of “You’re Not Broken. I Am” by The Beautiful Mistake, which is the band’s first release in 15 years! Other than those, we’ll be handling the new The Sewer Rats LP in the UK, and I’m hoping 2020 will give us a new Harker record!
As a “one man band” I have quite a lot of freedom to do whatever I want, so expect to see a mix of bands with sounds from across the punk rock spectrum, just with the general rule that if I’m passionate about the band I will try to help them out and promote some great releases. Please keep an eye on our social media channels (/disconnectdisconnect or /disconnectdisconnectrecords) and get involved to help us spread the great word of punk rock!
Vytautas Leistrumas (Solo Ansamblis)
SPB: Walk us through your gear setup from your last tour. How do you implement the mix of live and electronic elements?
Leistrumas: Let's start with a very important, beloved and sometimes hated Elektron Octatrack MK2, which serves as a midi host, effects machine and also plays some backing tracks as well as gives tempo for our drummer. We feed Arturia’s Minibrute and Microbrute signals into it where effects are applied. Midi notes, CCs and clock are being fed to Novation Mininova and Arturia Minibrute synths and (sometimes) a laptop computer, which generates time code signal for visuals and lighting. We use MOTU MIDI Time Piece to split a midi signal. Then there's the wonderful YAMAHA Wind Synthesizer WT-11, which is played like a clarinet using WX-11 Wind controller. Our Godin electric guitar is going through some Boss pedals like reverb/delay and drive straight to a stereo Peavey Classic Chorus 212 amp. Of course, we use two mics to pick up the stereo chorus effect. Our bass is something basic - Musicman bass guitar to an amplifier. We love to use Korg Volca Keys small synth for various effect sounds as well as synth-wave sounding melody lines. Last, but not least - our drummer plays Roland SPD-SX and Roland TM-2 samplers plus a regular drum set. Main and monitor mixes are done in Waves eMotion LV1 v11 mixing console by our sound engineer with all those nice waves plugins, therefore we always have the best possible sound.
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