Michal Palmer (Bilinda Butchers)
SPB: Was there a historical or real-life inspiration behind the concept for Heaven?
Michael: Yes, both. The album's concept was inspired by various works of Lafcadio Hearn as well as some travel diaries written between the 15th and 20th Century in Japan, researched and written about by Donald Keene. I became very interested in one story in particular called "The Lovers' Suicide" in which two young lovers who are unable to be together decide to commit suicide in order to be together in the afterlife.
The idea of such a grand commitment to love fascinates me. And although I think it is extreme, it reminds me how precious the love you share with your friends, family, or a partner is: a feeling that that can give you faith, meaning and purpose to your life; something to live and die by, similar to religion.
I created this idea and story for my girlfriend with the intent to illustrate the intensity of my feelings. Heaven continues to remind me of how lucky I am to love and be loved.
My friend Michelle Yoon and myself pieced together several elements of various women from these tales and diaries to create the story of Ume Nakajima, the woman who drowned herself to be with her lover in the afterlife from which our album is based off. She is loyal and caring, someone I can always depend on. Occasionally I think of what would happen if something bad happened to one of us and how devastating it would be to not be able to see each other. I created the concept of Heaven to help illustrate the complexity and gravity of my feelings for her.
Robert Gowan (Wasted Wine)
SPB: Who is your favorite 1990s artist?
Robert: Probably an obvious choice, but perhaps not for us: Tupac Shakur. As far as characters and universes, I get into Tupac the same way I do Zappa or Tom Waits. He has an extremely dynamic and defined character that constantly evolves, very rapidly, through the breadth of his career almost effortlessly. He incorporates personal and theatrical elements so well that I think even he lost track of who he really was. Eventually, closer to his death, it had all grown into this elaborate, illuminati-type mythos that predicts the future and leaves a huge controversy to this day about the circumstances. Much like Tom Waits, who released 'Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, & Bastards' - basically giving away his formula - you can kind of categorize Tupac's music in the same way. Whether it's the amped-up party and diss tracks, or the more subdued, "keep your head up"/social justice, or mom-loving tracks, they're largely shocking or sappy and sentimental. Even still, his tracks manage to fit into the world he's shaped and not turn you off in the same way Eminem's 'Recovery' might have spoiled even his early stuff that you'd loved before. The best part about all of this is that it all happens in a very understandable arch that follows his life, making it resonate but never cross the line between artsy and cheesy.
Dennis Callaci (Rhino Records/Mad Platter/Video Paradiso-General Manager)
SPB: When do you start planning for Record Store Day on a given year?
Dennis: Record Store Day falls on Saturday April 18th this year, and for this year's event we have been working since late last year to get things in line. Besides all of the nifty releases for the day that take a good amount of time to order and get in line, we have set up some great events at both stores. Dengue Fever will be playing a live set at Rhino at 3pm, and we will be hosting a screening of the film "Records Collecting Dust" (Jello Biafra, Mike Watt, and others on their record collections) at 7:30 at both stores as well as more to be announced. Logistically, we work on making the experience as fair and easy for our customers as we can, as there are hundreds of folks lined up outside of our doors before we open. This means forecasting deep on titles and trying to cover the bases so there are as few disappointments as feasible. We want the day to be a celebration of record stores, and the artists that have made brick and mortar as important as water and air to us music freaks.
Matthew Turner (My America – guitar/vocals)
SPB: What is the strangest trend you see in modern music (or in the industry)?
Matthew: This actually came up very recently when we were in the studio recording our new album with Kevin Bernsten. We were pretty aligned in terms of musical taste with Kevin. We liked a lot of the same stuff. So naturally we would get into a lot of stuff we both DIDN'T like and the recording technique that goes into making those bands sound the way they do. I just don't understand when, I guess what you would now call "pop-punk" bands, became so far off base from anything punk at all. You know, all the fake drum sounds, triggers, auto tune, whatever else. Kevin actually told us a gem of a story where he was in another studio and heard a guy in there tracking and jokingly told whoever it was behind the board to turn off the auto-tune. The guy was like "uhh... there is no auto-tune?" The guy was just emulating what he hears on the records he likes. So much that it's basically warping his brain and has him thinking this actually sounds good. It was an incredible story that, to me, is like the pinnacle of this not-so-great trend.
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