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.
A collection of items grouped by topic, eg. "Top 5 Worst Beatles Songs" or "Top 10 best '77 punk releases". Browse 16 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 10 features
Guest column by T of Vegas Browse 9 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
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
A semi-regular column where we choose a specific area and give a local scene report. Browse 1 features
Kate Eldridge (Big Eyes) What is the most annoying recurring thing you read about your band (whether accurate or not)? I am really bothered by the term "female fronted." Being a "FEMALE" has nothing to do with the music I write and play. It also sounds so unnecessarily scientific. Nobody says "MALE FRONTED" or asks how it is to be a MALE in a band. It's also really annoying getting compared to other bands solely because they ALSO happen to have women in them. It's 2015, people, knock it off.
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.
Raymondo (Collision Course Records)
SPB: What is your dayjob and how does it affect/influence/interfere with your label operations?
Raymondo: Well....I'd like to say I sit around in my sunglasses drinking lattes and looking at my phone all day...but running an indie punk label isn't that lucrative!!!! Soooo...I get up at the crack of dawn with my faithful partner, Daisy and we get our lattes to-go and get into the daily routine of running a window cleaning business.
The good parts??? In & out, fast, 80% of clients pay the same day, so... that helps...and the hours are whatever you make 'em. I like to wrap it up by noon. I'm happy if I'm done by 2pm & try to always be back to the base by 3pm!
That gives me time to chill, make lunch, pack orders and check emails & still get to the post office!!!
When you add in recording & playing in bands and going to see friends bands etc....it's a pretty full week!! 'cept when it rains. That's when I get to sleep in & listen to records!!!
SPB: What’s the most recent “grower” record you picked up that took a while to click?
Kyle: "Prey," the latest from Planes Mistaken for Stars. It's one of those records that feels so dense on the first play through but keeps rewarding over repeat listens. Sonically, the songs tend to bleed into each other (brilliantly so, as I've come to realize) which made it hard to sink the hooks. I remember being in a sort of trance the first time I got through it -- "Wait, that's it? But that was only,like 3 songs, right?" A real time-traveling record.
After a while though, the nuance starts to reveal itself. Tracks like "She Who Steps" and "Black Rabbit" have this almost Lynchian vibe about them that starts creeping in after a while. There's something so sinister about the record as a whole, really. It tells a different story each time. It sticks with you. I just wish it were longer!
SPB: You have a classical background in your musical upbringing, but moved further and further into the experimental scene when you moved to the US. What was it that pulled you towards this scene, and what is the allure of a freer musical form?
Lee: It was about finding the very personal voice within the instrument, cello in my case.
I never fully felt comfortable or connected playing only classical or jazz standards because it was not my very own...then, when I began to improvise and write more original pieces, I just felt this immense sense of freedom along with strong desire to go deeper and deeper... Meanwhile, I am constantly aware of how having that background in classical training from early on provided me a great foundation to build on.
The biggest allure in playing in freer form is that actually it's not free at all and rather you need to utilize every little piece of knowledge and experience you've gathered in order to make improvisation something meaningful... Also, playing with others who will challenge me to come up with musical responses that make sense to me is another big attraction... but then of course sometimes it's just fun to play...
Drew Riekman (Blessed – guitar/vocals)
SPB: What is your favorite 1990s artist?
Riekman: When I received the email, the first question I asked myself was “Is this the favourite 1990's artist in relation to myself, or in relation to our band?” I settled on selecting someone that relates more to the band than how I personally feel. Even though it's probably the easiest and most bland answer anyone under the umbrella of “Post-Hardcore” can give; the answer is Fugazi. I know I'm using a loophole because they also existed two years in the ‘80s and two years into the 2000's, but I hope it's justified as they spent the bulk of their existence in the ‘90s.
The breadth of music that their discography touches on is inspiring. It's served as a reminder that when we're writing there's no wrong answers, and that songs are what we, as the artists/creators, determine them to be. It's easy to get caught up in asking yourself about flow – “does this part make sense here? Is this dynamic change too weird or abrupt?” It's great to have a band you can look to, who took risks and made interesting decisions -- always with amazing results in my opinion. It's subjective, but all the different dynamics, timing, and structures always made the song more interesting and enjoyable for me.
They're also one of the first bands, besides local and Western Canadian bands, that helped us realize it was possible to make things happen on your own terms. As teenagers, two of our members were fortunate enough to have Edmonton (Northern Canadian city) band Cope take our first band on its first self-booked tour. The idea that you didn't have to wait around for booking agents to tour, for labels to release your music, or for managers to help connect you to like-minded people was one of the best lessons teenagers making weird hardcore music could learn. Because those opportunities almost certainly never would have come to us where we live, in Abbotsford, BC. But those ideals and work ethic, derived from Fugazi and bands of the same ilk, helped us persevere and work towards making things happen for ourselves, which lead us to the still growing, amazing DIY community we've been so lucky to inhabit.
There are so many other bands and people that deserve the title of Favourite or Most Important, there really isn't just one. But as far as ‘90s artists, it's hard to ignore the building blocks that Fugazi gives to bands.
Check out Blessed on Soundcloud.
SPB: What is the most thankless job in the music industry?
Tom: We think one of the most thankless jobs in the industry is putting on DIY gigs and organizing DIY venues. Having a vibrant, encouraging DIY venue in your hometown is such a great asset for young bands. In Ireland there's such a strong drinking culture that unless you're gonna draw a large crowd that buys a lot of pints, it can be expensive to put on shows in bars and traditional music clubs.
We have a lot of respect for people who go out of their way to put on gigs and performances in different spaces and break away from the pub/alcohol culture. These alternative venues often serve as great incubators for musical projects and underground culture. Unfortunately the reality is that these spaces are often expensive and stressful to maintain. With a policy of low cover charge and BYOB, they usually don't last very long. I don't know if it's fair to say it's all thankless though, people can have a lot of love for these places and the memories they have there. It's just a sad truth that they are mostly a labour of love for the people organizing them.
Poli (The Bombpops)
SPB: What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Poli: Worst job we've ever had... well, Jen and I are both servers at restaurants in Los Angeles, so that's an obvious one. But I actually have a story of us working together.
Jen and I did catering here in LA quite a few times and, even though, you get to see some cool houses and sneak some fancy food, it mostly sucks. We ended up both working a Halloween party in Hollywood for George Clooney's tequila company "Casamigos." It was baller, there was high security, tons of celebs in intense costumes and we had to tray pass. It was a nightmare. There's nothing worse than trying to squeeze by Paris Hilton with a tray and getting smooshed into a bush, smashed in the face by a Victoria Secret Model Angel's wing, and run down by Leonardo DiCaprio's mob of babes. It was way too crowded, we felt like pieces of shit and we seriously wished we hid Halloween costumes in our bags and changed inside to join the party. We had to get out of there, so we snuck a couple of airplane bottles of tequila into our pockets and bailed saying we were sick from food poisoning, never catering again.
Steve & Bryan (Breakin’ Even Fest)
SPB: How are you approaching Fest #2 differently than #1?
Breakin' Even: We definitely focused on making Breakin' Even Fest All Ages this year. Last year, all ages were admitted, but needed a chaperone.
We also expanded our lineup beyond just East Coast bands, including Sidekicks from Ohio and Pkew Pkew Pkew from Toronto. Last year we learning how to do a fest (and still are). Sometimes bringing people from far can be more complex – like trying to fit our fest into a tour route, or just making it financially viable for both parties.
Other than that, our approach remains the same: to book people we like who make music we love. Having a single stage and time for only 13 bands makes this a difficult task – we can't book everyone we'd like each year. So that means we'll have to keep booking it!
Breakin' Even Fest takes place May 5-6 in Washington, DC.
Dustin Cole Hayes (Making New Enemies)
SPB: How much space in your house is dedicated to music storage (whether instruments or records)?
Hayes: Well, unfortunately for my roommates 50% of our basement is filled up with all my music and recording gear. Then that gear is matched by an equal amount of friend’s gear left and forgotten about over time. So in total we have like 10 different amps and cabs of all sizes, two full drum sets, and a cornucopia of guitars and pedals strewn around. My roommates literally have to carve a path through the gear to the washer and dryer like a hoarder’s house…
I’d say I make up for it by cleaning the kitchen and floors a lot but I’m not sure if they’d even agree…
Mike Park (Asian Man Records)
SPB: What gives you the biggest sense of accomplishment through your years at Asian Man and as a part of the overall music scene?
Park: Developing lifelong friendships even when money and fame and power are usually the root of success in this corrupt business called the music business. This is my biggest accomplishments. When I constantly hear these nightmare stories of bands/labels fighting/suing each other and shit talking, I sit back and find solace in creating an oasis of good people whom I can call friends for life.
Shane Handal (Set and Setting)
SPB: There are a lot of stereotypes about post-rock. How do you approach genre and expectation when composing?
Handal: For whatever reason, post-rock sometimes has a negative stigma attached to it. Which is weird to me, because a lot of bands are proud to proclaim certain genres. Anyway, we never really felt like we've belonged in that genre, but because we are instrumental with long songs we get bunched in there. Maybe that's why bands don't like it? It puts us in a box full of stereotypes for listeners.
There are times when writing that I purposely try and dodge a more cliche "post-rock" opportunity either with a riff or melody, but most of the time it's not really a thought that crosses my mind. We try to write what comes out naturally, and there's rarely a thought of how we should write something because of stereotypes in any genre. When there is an expectation, we usually try and avoid that rather than give into it.
Photo by Ryan Zarra
SPB: If you could universally (and magically) fix one item at venues around the world, what would you upgrade or change?
Kelly: If I'm being very honest, I would want to wave a magical wand and make all venue bathrooms private, single use, clean, beautiful, great smelling with ample amounts of toilet paper! I think we can all relate to venue bathrooms being some of the absolute worst we've ever been in. And having an inclusive, gender-neutral toilet situation would be amazing.
Rick Jiminez (Extinction A.D./This Is Hell – guitar/vocals)
SPB: After music, what other arts interest you?
Jiminez: Although music has been the focus of my life for as long as I can remember, it hasn't been the only "art" I've been interested and even consumed by. Art is such a fluid term, but to me, the only thing that I've ever really cared about that didn't fall under the umbrella was baseball.
Since I was little(er) I always loved to draw. Of course that started with cartoons which then became comic books and then went into full on illustration which then became graphic design. Around my early 20s, though I was faced with following graphic design or music full-time, and I easily chose music.
Graphic design was fun and fulfilling to me when based around my bands but as a career seemed too bullshitty and... well, I guess too "adult career." I think if I would have stuck with comic book penciling I could have very well made the decision to pursue that as a career but at some point I decided regular graphic design was more stable then comics, even though the stability of that wound up being a strike against it while the instability but much more satiating feeling of playing music was a pro.
Another art that piqued my interest in the late ‘80s and continues to enthrall me is professional wrestling. And many would argue that's not an art, and they are welcome to think that, but I am welcome to acknowledge that I care not for the judgments of the employee of the month at Duane ass Reade. Talk about something that is never the same twice: a story, an athletic display...it’s like surfing, where the wave is always different, but instead of conquering the wave, you have to work together with it, or like a movie or a play where, yes everyone knows it’s a complete fabrication of real life and staged, but you have to entertain thousands at once and make them believe for 10-30 minutes that what they're viewing is somehow plausible.
It’s also extremely hard to give the illusion you're physically decimating someone while trying to have them feel as little as possible in reality... which doesn't make something art per se, but man that shit is difficult as fuck. It’s much easier to make a punch look real if it’s actually real, but you ever see grown men punch each other in real life outside of a MMA or boxing match? Believe me, it usually looks like creamed crap... and I'll also take the underwear/kneepads/boots motif over the marked out guido look or flat brim with teal sweater from the smith haven mall outfit. I'll also take a punch being followed by a steel cage match for the world title as opposed to it being followed by 3 dudes yelling "don't you dare touch Gina again, I'll end you bro!!" at each other while being separated by a few really nice cars that their parents bought them that have brakes that work and no check engine light on.
Is fixing cars that are complete jokes an art? I know some mechanics but have yet to find one that can ever make any of my shit boxes work or pass inspection. If that’s an art I'd be interested in that too.
Maybe I should have stuck with graphic design.
Adrian Tenney (Badlands, ex-Spokenest)
SPB: How did you get started in Badlands?
Tenney: Badlands (as a solo project) started when playing my music with other people ended.
I had been writing music in numerous other bands with my friends, and although it was super fun, it was always very hard to coordinate! Gradually it became more difficult, or impossible to collaborate with people (friends moved away, people got new jobs etc.) and as that happened, it became more of a necessity to record and perform on my own.
I've never felt the same kind of energy playing on my own as I do playing in a band, and I do miss that, but everything is so much more under my control now. At this point in my old (not a teenager anymore) age, it's worth it to not feel totally exhausted by all the elements of performing.
SPB: What’s the secret to a successful tour?
Sam, Brandon and Avi: Cut the dead weight. Chillers only. You gotta be down for the cause, 100% without doubt. You have to believe in the people around you and they got believe in you. Have their back. Embody the spirit of the road dawg.
SPB: What is your favorite 1970s artist?
Known Cowboy: My favourite 1970s artist without question has to be no other than David Bowie!
God, I love Hunky Dory.
The fun fact is that I didn’t discover Bowie´s work until last year after he died. When I found out about him it was a revelation.
I would say Pink Floyd, but I think the power of expression of Bowie did a powerful job in me, more than the mesmerizing tunes of DSOTM or WYWH,
I will end this reply by saying that I actually love a record from 1978 called Visions of the Country by Robbie Basho.
Dan Gardner (Four Lights)
SPB: What is your favorite 1980s artist?
Gardner: The Replacements. Westerberg is one of the greatest American songwriters. My parents were big fans of theirs and I grew with Let It Be and Tim playing in the house, in the car, everywhere. Those records were a big part of my growing up and continue to be just as important to me to this day. Every teenager should be given a copy of Let It Be.
SPB: What’s your favorite protest song?
Bong Mountain: The serious, educational, and inspirational protest songs that have helped me through tough times just aren't enough right now -- they don't perfectly convey my anger towards the current state of things.
There isn't one song, but a full album”
Galactic Cannibal's "We're Fucked" is a statement within itself. It's angry, loud, sharp, and painstakingly crushing to your ears in an almost sarcastic manner. The overall message is in the title: WE'RE FUCKED. At this point, I think we are fucked -- not in a way that there is no hope but in a way that makes you forget about the state of things because you moshed too hard in your kitchen and put your own head through the wall because that's all there is to really do at this point. And at that, all you can really say is "THIS WORLD FUCKING SUCKS."
SPB: Do you get nervous before you play a show?
Magana: Yep! There are 2 distinct phase of nervousness. The first one is my self-manager side. Did I do a good enough job with promotion? Should I be outside handing out flyers to the people passing by? Will anybody show up, or will I be playing to the person doing sound? And then immediately following is the performance anxiety. Did I practice enough? Am I going to mess up the solo in the third song? Are the people that are here going to get bored and leave in the middle of the set? And then I get onstage and drink wine and it's usually totally fine.
I get more nervous playing solo than when I play with a band. I feel more exposed and it's something that I'm less used to. And I get more nervous in front of tiny crowds than big crowds because it seems so much more personal. Like if I don't put on a perfect show, I'm going to deeply offend the people that are listening.
Andy (Magnetic Ghost)
SPB: What is the weirdest venue you’ve played a show at (or attended)?
Magnetic Ghost: Seattle house show that wasn't in a house, but was in a yard, complete with a tarp covered in dumpstered mashed fruit which everyone was encouraged to wrestle in / on after imbibing copious amounts of Carlo Rossi jug wine. Total anarcho hippie vibe at its best. I haven't done this yet, but I'd really like to organize an outdoor winter show in Minnesota, ideally when it is pretty frigid. Maybe have it lit and sorta heated with burning barrels, but have the cold become an endurance test for the performer--- frostbite and chilblains as art? Call it "cold drone" or something.
Curran Reynolds (Body Stuff)
SPB: Do you make a conscious decision to reference or deviate from past material when working on Body Stuff?
Reynolds: The Body Stuff approach is to make music from the gut, without consciously thinking about any other music at all. After it's made, then I can reflect and say, "Hey, this sounds like it's referencing this or that." Looking at the two EPs I've made so far, in hindsight I can say that some of what's being referenced is the big rock and pop hits of the late '80s. This is the music I grew up with as a little kid and naturally it comes through. But those influences are buried under the noise of other influences, like death metal drumming and various New York City vibes. And to compare the first EP and the second, I think the second has some dreamy Maine woods isolation vibes in it too, because that's where I was living the year I wrote it.
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