Wednesday, October 21, 2009

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Interview with: Nathan “Brace” Paine of Gossip

Posted: 21 Oct 2009 09:00 AM PDT

Gossip is currently on tour, rockin' the country. Last month, Sara had a chat with guitarist Nathan "Brace" Paine and talked about European radio, queers, fat girls, and their newest release, Music for Men.

Sara, PopWreckoning: In an age of music where so many genres are bent and merged, how would YOU classify Gossip?
, Gossip: God, how would I classify us into a genre? I don't know, I mean, that's kind of a hard question. Cuz we enjoy sort of spreading out. I don't know. How would I classify Gossip? We're a band.
PW: Well what I mean is, there is so much music that's genre bending and merged together. There's so much music that breaks all the rules. So what would be the best way, for someone who hasn't heard you guys before, to describe you guys sonically?gossip
NP: Oh jeez. I like to think sometimes that we're a soul band?
PW: I like that. You don't have to pick just one genre!
NP: Uhhh…..a soul disco band.
PW: Soul disco! I like that!
NP: Like a soul-disco-pop ticket?

PW: I would have said something similar! I read about you talking about this Suicide Club in Portland?
Nathan: Oh yeah, yeah.
PW: Tell me about it, and why is it illegal?
NP: Umm…Maybe I shouldn't be talking about that.
NP: Um well, it's not that it's illegal. It's like an underground spot, in this little illegal warehouse bar. That was a dance club that I did for years in Portland that was like post-punk music and electro and sort of everything.
PW: Any chances of it coming back?
NP: I don't know! I mean, I would LOVE to, but it's just…I tour so much it's hard to sort of set up a proper party, y'know? Cuz you've gotta take time to flyer around town, and I'm not there to flyer. But yeah, I love to DJ. I was thinking about doing a new night. So, possibly, yes.

PW: Ok, you were mentioning touring so much. You guys have….Europe has been really good to you guys, yes?
NP: Yes!
PW: Tell me a little bit about that.
NP: Yeah, Europe's been really good to us and I can never really figure out why. I feel like we approached things the same way over there as we did over here. I don't think there's necessarily anything we did different over there. It's just…people really rallied us from the get-go over there. I don't really know why. I think, I mean, y'know… Maybe it's cuz we're from the South in America and it's different, y'know? But I don't know. And y'know the radio over there too is interesting. Cuz in America they say it's not pay to play. But mainstream radio is COMPLETELY pay to play. And they only stick to certain playlists. The DJs have no power over what they want to play, really. In Europe, like in the UK, on a BBC or whatever, the DJs actually get to pick what they want to play. It can be totally indie, totally independent, or not. I mean, they have a few things they have to play like anything else. But it's definitely more freedom on the radio over there. So I think that might have something to do with it as well? I don't know.
PW: Huh. That's interesting to hear. I didn't know that about radio in Europe.
NP: Yeah it's really… I don't know if you're familiar with . He's like the British guy who….
PW: Yeah, I was reading a little bit of Beth's (lead singer, Ditto) comments on that.
NP: I think he really started something amazing over there with this weird radio thing and playing records you like and that you want to champion that are not popular.
PW: That's awesome. That's really awesome. We need more like that over here.
Nathan: Ohhh… We need a so bad.

PW: (Laughing) Um…speaking of your guys' success in America, you guys, last year, got some exposure from MTV on a couple of spots.
NP: We did!
PW: Did that help build your US fanbase some?
NP: Oh yeah, I remember that. I don't know. We haven't really played America since then. We played in Seattle recently and we're touring in October, so we'll see.

PW: Ok! You've said that nothing has changed for you guys since you broke through. Is that really true? Have there been no major changes at all?
NP: You mean personally, or whatever?
PW: In any way, shape, or form. You said that you guys still live in the same house?
NP: Oh yeah yeah….I do, we do. I mean, well, Beth just bought a house, but there have been a couple changes, but I still really feel like we're the exact same people. I don't think it's effected us really. I mean, we're on a major [label], so there's like, y'know…there's some better treatment or whatever. Like, the tours are cushier. But those are little changes. I don't think personally it's affected us really. In our day to day lives, I don't think we really feel it.
PW: That's cool that you can remain so grounded around all that.
NP: Yeah, it's really important to think about, I think. I think we all try to keep ourselves grounded all the time. I think it's important. To continue to be creative, I think you have to do that.

PW: Yeah, definitely. Speaking of things that are important, you guys have become role models and icons for both the LGBT Community as well as Beth, for plus-size girls everywhere. How does that feel?
NP: I support it 100%. I really think that Beth as this icon for girls as well as the Queer Community…I think it's really special. She's something that's not really seen in the mainstream world and I think that what she's offering up is really good and interesting and it's also just about equality. And people say it's not true, but it's SO true that there's fat-phobia in the world. How often do you see fat people on TV? I think there's a total negativity connected to it. And I love that she's started to change that and I think that's amazing.
PW: Yeah that girl has balls.
NP: Yeah…
PW: She really does, I admire her so much.
NP: Yeah, it's a really powerful statement and I really enjoy being supportive of her and being a part of it with her and the band. I think it's a beautiful thing.
PW: I love how you use the word "Queer" in reference to the Queer Community, with complete and total pride and without any fear or anything.
Nathan: Yeah, it's funny…well not funny…because I'm straight and I have so many friends that are gay and part of that community. It's something that should be – something I don't think people should be afraid of. We're living in a time now where differences like that should not matter at all. It's kind of a ridiculous topic to even be brought up because this shouldn't even matter.

PW: I agree. How do you guys manage to keep things so simple while still having such a full and heavy sound?
NP: We usually try not to do…like, we're the opposite of , like, no guitar over-dubs. We try to keep things really simple. Like there's no over-dubs at all. There's one guitar line. There's no over-dubs. There's no bassline. We try to keep it minimal, that's really important to us. Over-production can be really irritating to me. Somebody like The Ramones are perfect.
PW: But is there a trick to getting everything to sound so heavy while the instruments are so simplistic? Is it just passion that you guys got in there? What's the trick?
NP: I don't know. I guess so. (chuckles).

PW: With your best effort can you describe Music for Men sonically and how it's different from your previous albums?
NP: Well sonically, it's the most hi-fi recording we've ever done. A lot of thought went into production and mic placement and all that. So its super-well recorded. It's really clean, pretty crisp. It's different than other records because on this record I actually play bass and piano and synth, and on our other records it was just guitar. There was no bass or anything really. So it makes a big difference on the record.
PW: Yeah, I'm sure. Do you have any last words for our readers, or your fans, or anyone at all?
NP: Stay tough.

PW: Oh! I have one more question that I completely forgot about!
NP: Ok!
PW: Do you guys have anything that you really want to accomplish that you haven't yet, thus far?
NP: That I personally want to do?
PW: You personally or as a band….
NP: I'd like to write a book! That would be a fun project.
PW: Yeah! Ok! And stay tough!
NP: Yep. Stay tough!
PW: Nathan, this was great. Thanks so much for your time!
NP: Yeah, I had a lot of fun!
PW: I think it was one of my favorite interviews that I've done so far!
NP: Aw! That's sweet! Thank you!
PW: Yes, thank you!
NP: See ya, Sara!

Gossip: website | myspace

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Art Brut with Princeton @ Black Cat, Washington DC

Posted: 21 Oct 2009 08:15 AM PDT

n-artbrut9, self-professed lover of comics and lead singer and lyricist for Art Brut, has a way of conducting himself in live performance that is, shall we say, interesting. As if a cross between a benevolent general and a wacky concert conductor, he asks his bandmates at the start of every song bandmates, “Are you ready, Art Brut?” He doesn’t sing so much as emote in a speaking voice, detailing anecdotes from his reality in a humorous way, backed by his extremely animated band. And as I describe to you what I saw when I saw this band playing at the Black Cat over the weekend, you probably wouldn’t believe me anyway. But what I say is entirely true.

The opening act for the night was a Californian band called . (Forget that I thought maybe they got the name because they were all Ivy Leaguers; their Web site says the name came from Street in Santa Monica, where three of them grew up.) The band is comprised of cute-as-a-button twin brothersa-princeton1 Jesse and Matt Kivel (lead and bass guitars), Ben Usen (keyboards), and (drums). Being four guys hailing SoCal, they probably would not appreciate it when I say they are good at writing and playing danceable, bouncy pop songs, but I found myself tapping my feet and dancing to their appealing rhythms. Like the Beach Boys? I think you’ll love this band.

To be perfectly frank, I was not expecting a band like them to open for Art Brut, a band known to be off the cuff and unpredictable. As an unabashed lover of good pop, I found terribly engaging. I had initially decided a song entitled “I Left Me Love in Nagasaki” had to be the punchline of a bad joke, but I was pleasantly surprised by its poppiness. I also found the “musical chairs”-like passing off of guitars between the twins, the keyboardist, and the drummer between songs very cool, as if they wanted to prove that they each had more than one talent. “Shout It Out” was one of several songs that the band encouraged us to clap along to and you know what? From a cursory glance around me, the audience was game. Somehow they’d managed to charm the bohemians.

i-artbrut4And then there was…Art Brut. divulged to me before the gig that he likes being a show-off and the internet is a great platform for spreading his wit. So it should come as no surprise that the star of the evening was, in fact, Eddie himself. I’d read that he likes to jump rope with his microphone cord, but actually seeing him do this in front of an audience was another matter entirely. Another part of the Art Brut show is Argos stopping mid-song, the band patiently waiting to begin playing again as he entertained us on a variety of topics, including his insistence that if you ride on the glass elevator to the basement of Willy Wonka’s crazy chocolate factory, you will find the Batcave. He told us this in such a deadpan matter, so earnest that you wouldn’t dare not believe him. Later on he said we should all stop what we’re doing and form bands, also threatening us that if this did not happen by the next time he came to town, he would come after each and every one of us, because he never forgets a face. You can’t make this stuff up. Don’t forget, their first single was “Formed a Band”: “Formed a band / we formed a band / look at us / we formed a band / I want to be the boy / the man / who writes the song / that makes Israel and Palestine / get along“.

k-artbrut6While Argos’s onstage antics are entertaining, you can’t discount the high energy and seemingly never-stopping soundtrack to the evening. This was provided handily by and on guitars, Freddy Feedback on bass, and on drums. Everything melds together for a perfect rock noise; Future and Catskillkin are wailing on their guitars maniacally, and Feedback and Breyer are driving the tunes along with their beats. Older favorites like “Modern Art”, “Bang Bang Rock and Roll”, the thoughtful “Emily Kane” (about a childhood flame), and the previously mentioned “Formed a Band” went down extremely well with the crowd. And Argos is still funny and on top form in their newest album, Art Brut vs. Satan, as evidenced in songs like “The Passenger”, in which he walked around the stage, mimicking the wheels of a train with his hands, and causing all of us to laugh; “Alcoholics Unanimous”, with its triumphant chorus of “bring me tea! / bring me coffee!“; and “DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake”, Argos wistfully talking about his boyhood loves and how it’s perfectly natural to be a grown man and still love such things. Overall, this was one highly enjoyable night. Catch them live if you can as they make their way across North America.

Set list
Formed a Band
My Little Brother
Summer Job
Good Weekend
Rusted Guns of Milan
What a Rush
Modern Art (DC Comics version)
Demons Out
Bad Weekend
Alcoholics Unanimous
Emily Kane
The Passenger
DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake
Bang Bang Rock and Roll
Twist and Shout
Post Soothing Out

Oct 20 - Earl / Atlanta*
Oct 22 – Bottletree / Birmingham*
Oct 23 – Spanish Moon / Baton Rouge*
Oct 24 – Walter’s on Washington / Houston*
Oct 25 – Mohawk / Austin*
Oct 27 – Club Congress / Tucson*
Oct 28 – Casbah / San Diego*
Oct 29 – Glass House / Pomona, Ca.*
Oct 30 – Cafe Du Nord (2 shows) / San Francisco*
Nov 1 – Holocene / Portland*
Nov 2 – Neumo’s / Seattle*
Nov 3 – Biltmore / Vancouver#
Nov 4 – Neurolux / Boise#
Nov 5 – Urban Lounge / Salt Lake City#
Nov 6 – Bluebird / Denver#
Nov 8 – Slowdown / Omaha#
Nov 9 – Triple Rock / Minneapolis#
Nov 10 – Lincoln Hall / Chicago#
Nov 12 – First Unitarian Church / Philadelphia#
Nov 13 – Brooklyn Bowl / New York City#
Nov 14 – Ottobar / Baltimore#
Nov 15 – Bowery Ballroom / New York City#
#with Surfer Blood

Art Brut: website | myspace | Art Brut Announce Big Fall North American Tour | Video for Art Brut’s New Single “Alcoholics Unanimous”
: website | myspace | @ SECAC Day Stage @ SXSW

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Awesome New Republic – Hearts

Posted: 21 Oct 2009 07:00 AM PDT

Awesome New Republic, a band from Miami consisting of Michael John Hancock and Brian Robertson, will be releasing their second album this October 27. The title of their sophomore album is Hearts. Hearts is an eleven track record filled with electronic-disco-indie music. hearts

On Awesome New Republic’s MySpace, you can hear four of the tracks (”Birthday,” “Alleycat,” “Digital World,” “Dark Water”) that will be coming out on their album this month. If I had to compare them to any band out there, I would have to say they sound like Under The Influence Of Giants (UTFOG), so if you're a UTFOG fan you’re going to love Awesome New Republic.

The album title track “Hearts” sticks out not only because it's the name of the album, but because it’s a retro sounding dance love song. On the entire album, you can find other tracks that have that same retro sound to them. Most of the vocals have that high pitch that the made popular through Disco, mashed together with modern day electronic music.

01. Whatever
02. Dances When
03. Alleycat
04. Birthday
05. Digital World
06. Footstomping Decay
07. Dark Water
08. Deep Love
09. Last Drop
10. Wheels, No Engines
11. Hearts

Awesome New Republic: website | myspace

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