Monday, December 10, 2012

Living Room Concerts, Part II


by M. David Hornbuckle

Last year, the Birmingham Free Press wrote about Troy Thompson and Laney DeJonge hosting Pere Ubu’s Dave Thomas in their living room. We wondered in that article whether Birmingham would see the trend of living room concerts catching on the way it has in other parts of the country. Recently we learned of another couple, Axel and Susan Barron, who have been hosting a series of concerts at their home in Avondale since April of this year.

Axel and Susan belong to an organization called Concerts In Your Home (www.concertsinyourhome.com/). CIYH helps set them up with artists who will be travelling through the area. Axel says, “It’s a national syndicate of people who allow traveling musicians into their homes to play intimate singer/songwriter shows. Typically the artist(s) show up around 6:30 or 7 pm and hang out for a while until enough people gather.”

The Barrons have set up a stage in their backyard in front of a wide shed, and so they’ve dubbed their endeavor “The Shed Series.” When the weather is rainy or cold, they move the concert inside to their ample living room. The shows are BYOB, but they provide some snacks and other beverages. Instead of selling tickets beforehand, they ask for donations at the event. The suggested donation is $10-15 per person, and all of that money goes to the musician. Axel says, “the artist is encouraged to stay the night at our house, although many do not, but they have that option.  The idea is to help these traveling musicians with their costs so that they can spend their money on recording albums and hiring session players.”

The Barrons’ house, on the edge of the newly renovated Avondale Park, is large, open, and inviting. Whether the concert is held in the yard or the living room, the setting is ideal for an intimate evening with a singer/songwriter. Axel says, “We ask our guests to bring a lawn chair and their favorite drink. The artists play two sets, sometimes three, depending on the vibe. During set breaks the artists usually mingle with the crowd. It’s a very intimate setting, and it’s all about the music.”

Artists that have performed at the shed series include Chris Ray and Elle Bijet, Sarah Peacock, SunMoonPie, Carey Murdock, and local favorite Stuart McNair.

“We typically try to have at least one show per month,” Axel says. “The Shed Series has received excellent reviews on the CIYH website by the artists who have played here and I think more and more artists will continue to seek out the venue.”

The Shed Series usually brings a modest crowd of 15 to 20 people. There have been as many as 23, and they think they could handle as many as 40. Typically, the Barrons market their events mainly through word of mouth. Axel says, “Most artists have someone they know in town and usually they bring a few friends to the shows. Sometimes total strangers show up, and that’s okay. It’s usually someone who heard about it through someone who regularly attends or is a friend or acquaintance of the artist. We also invite our close friends and neighbors, those who enjoy this type of thing.”

The Barrons are true believers, and obviously huge music fans. They see the series only getting better in the future. Axel says, “I think it’s only a matter of time before someone quite reputable plays here. You get the sense that these musicians really dig playing in an atmosphere where people are actually listening to what they are playing and saying!”

Monday, November 12, 2012

Justin Townes Earle to perform at Workplay Theater on Saturday, November 17









Justin Townes Earle recently released his fourth full-length studio album, Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now, to favorable review (see below). Produced by Earle alongside longtime collaborator Skylar Wilson, the 10-track album was recorded completely live with no overdubs over a 4-day period at an old converted church recording studio in Asheville, NC. Of the new record, Earle comments, “I think that it’s the job of the artist to be in transition and constantly learn more. The new record is completely different than my last one, Harlem River Blues. This time I’ve gone in a Memphis-soul direction.”

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Viva @ The Nick


“Viva has a beautiful voice, solid songwriting chops, and she f*cking shreds the guitar... she and her band are getting down and dirty”
- Baltimore City Paper

VIVA released Rhinestones And Rust this month and is on the road through the Fall surrounding the release.  The video for "A Thousand Horses" premiered at No Depression and features BMX trickster Tory King, a park carousel and the band performing the 6/8 shuffle in a half pipe in Queens. Mia over at AfterEllen picked up the clip as well.

VIVA will be at THE NICK in BIRMINGHAM this SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11th.

The Aquarian
calls VIVA, "The love child of Joan Jett and Little Richard."  Burlington Free Press anoints her a “guitar wizard" and Scott Bernstein of Glide Magazine’s Hidden Track dubs her, “One of the more inventive guitarists on the scene.”  Vintage Guitar
sums, "Viva DeConcini proves she's a force to be reckoned with if rock and roll is to survive and grow."

**Please reach out of you'd like an advance copy of Rhinestones and Rust,
to speak to VIVA or to cover the performance**

 

Sunday, November 11 – 10pm
Viva @ The Nick
2514 10th Avenue South  
Birmingham, AL
(205) 252-3831
$6

*Service Industry Night*
1/2 off ticket price if SIN!

 

VIVA has played everywhere from Bonnaroo with Cyro Baptista to Monterey Jazz Fest with Peter Apfelbaum. She has produced sell out music, burlesque and variety shows at The Slipper Room and Joe's Pub, and is one of the few females to have been featured in Guitar Player Magazine (2009). In 2011 she made her NYC theatrical debut as the musician in Taylor Mac's play WAAFME, which the NY Times hailed as one of 2011's ten best. She will also be performing with him throughout this next year as part of his 24 hour-long concert of imperfection.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pegi Young: Friday at Rogue Tavern

 

Singer-songwriter Pegi Young released her third album, Bracing For Impact (Vapor Records), on November 15, 2011.  She was once again accompanied by her acclaimed recording and touring band, The Survivors: legendary keyboard player Spooner Oldham, bassist Rick Rosas, guitarist Kelvin Holly, and drummer Phil Jones. Pegi Young & The Survivors appeared on Conan on November 16, 2011, and were the opening act on the west coast leg of Stephen Stills’ tour last fall.  In addition, they performed on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon on April 4th of this year, and performed at Farm Aid on September 22nd alongside such acts as Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, and Dave Matthews.


https://www.facebook.com/pegiyoung

Lines In the Sky at The Nick, Nov. 8



Lines In the Sky: Nashville's fresh sonic reply to alternative rock with substance and an ambient, progressive flavor. LITS presents a totally unique blend of sound and style, appealing to fans that respond to LITS’s gorgeous soaring vocals, power polyrhythmics, TV/radio/film-friendly songwriting, and inarguable monster chops from 3 young guys barely old enough to get into clubs.

The band features prodigy brothers Jesse Brock, frontman on vocals and guitar, and Bowman Brock, drums and percussion, and their longtime friend Zack Wakefield as the band’s ruthless bassist. Their newest release, "Dig Deeper", out June 2012, is produced by LITS with last-minute assistance by British legend John Eden. Internationally-known producer Eden (UK’s Status Quo, Vinx w/Sting, Tony Banks of Genesis, The Voice’s Karla Davis, et al.) heard the bands' initial demos, fell in love with the music, and the band immediately brought him on board to re-engineer the tracks. Fellow stellar and Grammy-award-winning engineer Richard Dodd (Tom Petty, Dixie Chicks, ELO, Traveling Wilburys) mastered the project, offering genuine praise and support of the young band as it navigates its early path through the industry and to its fanbase.

Lines In the Sky is touring the South, Southeast, and will include a few Northeast dates during summer and fall 2012, promoting the new tracks from “Dig Deeper” as well as bringing new life to their debut release, “The Double Plus Good EP”. The independent band also has under-the-radar heavyweight support from the Nashville music industry, but is doing all the major labor by themselves, including video, merchandise, and tour management . New tour listings are being added at the band’s linesinthesky.com site as well as their Facebook BandPage and local outlets where they are playing.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Music Fans and Musicians! Stay Connected!



Music fans check this out too! You are the reason! 

This is a simple reminder of some of the services we offer.

If you are an area musician and would like to be able to post to this blog send me an email to: Music@birminghamfreepress.com


You may post anything relative to music in our area as long as you guarantee you own the content or represent the artist or party in question. You may post show dates, news releases, video or audio. We ask only that you do not over post (judgement required).  

Posting is available to all area musicians or those in the music community. Other authors will be considered on a case by case basis.

We offer many areas of exposure for artists. These are all free for Alabama musicians. See the list below and choose any or all that suit your needs:

  We retweet relevant music tweets several times daily --  https://twitter.com/freepressmusic/bfp-music-3  

We also draw information and content from our many BFP entities to share to other appropriate outlets.

We offer inclusion on our Reverbnation roster for area artists which includes many promotional opportunities not available without a label. We will add you to our label on request.

We also offer playlists on Spotify at: BFP Music (click here to check out our playlists) 

We have a group on Soundcloud to post material and share with fans and other artists.


Our various Facebook groups and our fan page offer other options for sharing. Go to the tabs on the left to see a full list of what you can use. 

Branded X Presents "Honor the Veterans"

Hey Birmingham my name's Eric from the band Branded X, we are putting on a show to honor our brave soldiers Nov. 16th at Matthews Bar and Grill. Any military that presents their military ID gets in free. The lineup consists of Chaotic Theory(Guitarist is a veteran), Branded X(Drummer is a veteran), The Hellmand Project(A group of veterans that came together to form this band while be treated for PTSD at VAMC in Tuscaloosa) and The Final Fight.

You can check out the event here http://www.facebook.com/events/123167071170629/ and please share with all your friends and any military you may know. You can also check out all the bands at the links below, please help support us by checking out our music and liking us on facebook for up to date news. Feel free to leave feedback as most of these bands are new on the scene.

Chaotic Theory
http://www.facebook.com/ChaoticTheoryRocks/app_2405167945

Branded X
http://www.facebook.com/brandedxrock/app_2405167945

The Hellmand Project
http://www.facebook.com/TheHellmandProject/app_2405167945

The Final Fight
http://www.facebook.com/WeAreTheFinalFight/app_2405167945

Friday, October 26, 2012

Loup-Garou: The Band in Birmingham You've never heard of (yet)

Who is Loup-Garou?

Loup-Garou is one of the newest band in the Birmingham area. With 5 members from 5 different corners of the world, we each bring  our own style, to provide something original and unique to our listeners.

Loup-Garou was formed February 29th 2012 and is a 5 piece  consisting of Alto Sax, Rhythm and lead Guitars, Bass and Drums with male and female Vocals

Where can I hear your stuff?
Head on over to http://loupgarou.dyndns.org to stream our music, check out our merch, and see where we are gonna be!
Also be sure to like us over at www.facebook.com/loupgarouband so you can keep with us. Since im already on a hey come like us and do this rant anyway if you do that twitter thing go follow us on there (@LoupGarouBand).

What does Loup-Garou mean?/ Why Loup-Garou?



The Loup Garou is a French legend of a human who changes into a wolf at his/her own will. Its not a werewolf because a werewolf can only change with the moon and a loup garou can change at any time. It's an homage to a friend of some of the band that passed away a few years ago.

Taken From Loup Garou's Blog:

It's been a good week in the land of Loup-Garou. We've been working on some new songs, and we'll be playing at least two brand new songs at Our Girls Show on November 3rd!

Now, on to some questions:

Q: I've been seeing some sponsored ads on Facebook, Do you guys have a record deal now or something?

A: HA!.. No.   We are running a  facebook campaign for our Our Big November Show Girls Girls Girls! (which you can learn more about right.... here!: http://www.facebook.com/events/459441310766900/
We are doing some promotion with a Little Town Sound  (http://www.facebook.com/LittleTownSound) and Dustin Gilmore from http://dustingilmorephoto.com/ will be on hand taking pictures of the bands and the fans. We are thankful the support from them as well as Matthew's Bar and Grill for helping us put together what will be a great show.

Q: I saw a painting/poster/ etc of your band stuff. Who does your artwork?

A: That would be Loup-Garou's own Shawna Ross. With the exception of the poster for the Girls Girls girls Show at Matthew's, Shawna does all of our artwork from the CD designs to the t-shirts.


Q: Where can I get my own Loup-Garou stuff.

A: The fastest and best way to do it is to simply email us @ LoupGarouBand@gmail.com, or call us at 205-565-7034. You can pay over the phone with credit card or you can go to loupgarouband.bandcamp.com, if you REALLY want to just order on line. You can also find our shirts, CD's, downloads and stickers at all of our shows!

Q: I want a Loup-Garou Hot Air Balloon!

A: That's a question more than a statement but, again give us a call, and We'll do our best to accommodate your request.

Q: Do you do private parties

A: Yep! We do any event where you want live music. We are currently booking for January 2013, so call us for availability . Even if it's a bar mitzvah... Especially if its a bar mitzvah.





Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mandi Rae - New Album - Upcoming Shows

Mandi Rae just released her 3rd full length album Tales of Woe and Wonder.  It is now available on Spotify, Itunes, Google Play, Amazon, and more... You can check her out at some of her upcoming shows!

Find her on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/mandiraemusic .... on twitter @mandiraemusic ... or online at http://www.mandiraemusic.net

Monday, October 15, 2012

Kent Duchane on Tour

 
 
 
OCTOBER

MON 15th ~ THE NORMAN KNIGHT, Whichford, Nr Shipston-On-Stour, Cotsworld, CV36 5PE. 01608 684 621
TUES 16th ~ THE MERCHANTS INN, 5-7, Little Church St, Rugby, Warwickshire, CV21 3AN. 01788 571 119
WED 17th ~ BLUES WITH BOTTLE CLUB @ THE ANCHOR, London Rd, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 1AS. 01732 454 898
THURS 18th ~ ORANGES, 1 Apsley St, Ashford, Kent, TN23 1LF. 01233 611 950
FRI 19th ~ BEACH & BARNICOTT, 6, South St, Bridport, Dorset, DT6 3NQ. 01308 455 688
SAT 20th ~ PRIVATE PARTY, ST. LEONARDS, DORSET.
SUN 21st ~ OVAL TAVERN, 131 Oval Road, Croydon, Surry, CR0 6BR. 0208 686 6034
MON 22nd ~ THE SHIP INN, 10 High St, Upavon, Wiltshire, SN9 6EA. 01980 630 313
TUES 23rd ~ THE BLUES KITCHEN, 111-113 Camden High St, London, NW1 7JN. 0207 387 5277
WED 24th ~ THE HOLY INADEQUATE, 67 Etruria Old Road, Nr Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1 5PE. 01782 915 170
THURS 25th ~ THE LAST INN, Hengoed, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY10 7EU. 01691 659 747
FRI 26th ~ CAFE PORTICO, The Terrace, Grantham St, Lincoln, LN2 1BD. 07956 653 156
SAT 27th @ 3.15 pm ~ CRAWLEY BLUES FESTIVAL ~ Hawth Ave, Crawley, Sussex, RH10 6YZ. 01293 553 636
SAT 27TH @ 9.30pm~ THE MINERS ARMS, Whitecroft, Lydney, Gloucestershire, GL15 4PE. 01594 562 483
SUN 28th ~ THE WEATSHEAF, High St, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY1 1ST. 01743 272 702
MON 29th ~ THE FAMOUS MONDAY BLUES @ THE JERICHO TAVERN, 56 Walton st, Oxford, OX22 6AE. 01865 311 775
TUES 30th ~ PLEASE BOOK ME!!
WED 31st ~ THE CLEVELAND BAY HOTEL 718 Yarm Rd, Eaglescliffe, Stockton-On-Tees, TS16 0JE. 01642 780 275

NOVEMBER

THURS 1st ~ BELUSHI'S, 13 Market St, Edinburgh, EH1 1DF. 0131 226 1446
FRI 2nd ~ THE TOLBOOTH, Jail Wynd, Stirling, FK8 1DE01786 274 000
SAT 3rd ~ THE OLD BRIDGE INN, Dalfaber Rd, Aviemore, Morayshire, PH22 1PU. 01479 811 137
SUN 4th ~ SINKY'S, 19 Pilmuir St, Dunfermline, Fife, KY12 7AJ. 01383 736 281
MON 5th ~ PLEASE BOOK ME!!
TUES 6th ~ PLEASE BOOK ME!!
WED 7th ~ SKIRWITH VILLAGE HALL, Church St, Skirwith, Nr Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 1RL. 07968 095 597
THURS 8th ~ KATIE FITZGERALD'S, 187 Enville St, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 3TV. 01384 374 410
FRI 9th ~ TENBY BLUES FESTIVAL, Tenby, South Wales
SAT 10th ~ THE OLD ROAD TAVERN, Old Rd, Town Centre, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN15 1JA. 01249 652 094
SUN 11th ~ THE ROSE & CROWN, Market St, Charlbury, Nr Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 3PL. 01608 810 103
MON 12th ~ PLEASE BOOK ME!!
TUES 13th ~ BIRMINGHAM. T.B.C
WED 14th ~ THE MUSICIAN, Clyde St, Leicester, LE1 2DE. 01162 510 080
THURS 15th ~ THE GREYSTONES, Greystones Rd, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S11 7BS. 01142 665 599
FRI 16th ~ HOLY MOLY'S @ ESQUIRES, 60A Bromham Rd, Besford, MK40 2QG. 01234 340 120
SAT 17th ~ THE CASTLE PUB, 5 Castlegate, Newark-On-Trent, Nottinghamshire, NG24 1AZ. 01636 640 733
SUN 18th @ 4.30pm ~ THE PRINCE OF WALES, Church Lane, Ledbury, Herefordshire, HR8 1DL. 01531 632 250
MON 19th ~ PLEASE BOOK ME!!
TUES 20th ~ THE PRINCE ALBERT, Rodborough Hill, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 3SS. 01453 755 600
WED 21st ~ THE MAN OF KENT ALE-HOUSE, 6-8 John St, Rochester, Kent, ME1 1YN. 07989 881 850
THURS 22nd ~ THE HALFWAY HOUSE, 24 Priests Bridge, Barnes, London, SW14 8TA. 0208 878 3961
FRI 23rd ~ IMPERIAL, 14 South Parade, Weston Supermare, Somerset, B5 1JN. 01934 621 815
SAT 24th ~ 5PM ~ THE RED LION, 1 Talbot Rd, Port Talbot, South Wales, SA13 1HN. 017717 467 332
SUN 25th ~ THE RANELAGH, 2-3 High St, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 1RP. 01273 681 634
MON 26th ~ PLEASE BOOK ME!!
TUES 27th ~ THE SPREAD EAGLE, 1-3 Fore St, Ipswich, Suffork, IP4 1JW. 01473 256 093
WED 28th ~THE ROYAL OAK, Pett Rd, Nr Hastings, East Sussex, TN35 4HG. 01424 812 515
THURS 29th ~ GUERNSEY. T.B.C
FRI 30th ~ THE GOLDEN EAGLE, 1 Delamere Rd, Southsea, Hampshire, PO4 0JA. 02392 821 658

DECEMBER

SAT 1st ~ THE LANSDOWN ARMS, 36 Lansdown Place, Lewes, East sussex, BN7 2JU. 01273 470 711
SUN 2nd ~ THE WEATSHEAF, High St, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY1 1ST. 01743 272 702

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Temple.....



I am a Saint,
my religion,
The Church of the Box Spring Mattress...
it's a quiet church,
sometimes holds a couple,
of worthless souls.

I am a Bitch,
gave birth to seeds,
just watch them grow.
Gave them freedom of choice,
Scattered them across the earth.
They will knock on my door,
Someday, not Today.

I am a Madman,
its all in my "ART"
We are all "ART",
in process...
I will paint in wild strokes,
use your body as canvas.
I will drive you mad,
and you will be humble,
by the experience.

I am an Angel,
Wings given,
by the grace of ordinary women
Women you're under,
my protection.
I will lay you down like silk,
so I can find your wet spot.
Dry your eyes, and
Cry no more.
Women can heal women.

I am a Butterfly,
planting them,
in your stomach,
Give you chills.
But my I love you's
you will never have.
But your spine,
will quiver for my wings.
You will miss me,
but I will forget you.

I am Wicca,
Been making my brew,
casting spells,
with my Grandmother's eyes...
New Orleans Style.
Blues, and Voodoo,
Cards say...
Justice
Just lay down,
take it like a man.
Justice is swift,
but Sweet.
For we cast the light,
like grains of sand.

I am a Man,
lay you down,
with liquor,
and love....
Blow your head,
it's how I feed,
My Soul.
You're just a notch,
in my bed post.
So play the mouse,
I am the cat, that eats her prey.
Sorrys you will never hear.
You're my Fuck Toy.
Just a live dildo,
that doesn't ever need batteries....
I will walk over your,
spent body.
Keep on Truckin.....

I am a Child,
little wicked child,
that gave up her toys,
Looking to play with you.
Care to play a game?
I can pick the posies,
right out of your pockets.
Ring around the Rosies,
around that sweet little ass...
While I laugh,
behind my little girl,
upside down smile smile
Care to play again?
This little piggy goes to market...
Bow Down,
kiss my piggy toes!
Then I will make you,
Squeal like a Pig!
You're my favorite toy.

I am a Temple,
that houses all,
the different sides,
of you and me.
Come inside,
all is welcome.
If you don't bow...
The exit will guide you out.
I am looking for...
someone cut from my bone.
Thirsty for blood,
but turning it into wine.
As we drink from the cup...
Of MAJESTY.

 -MistressAnn Domina

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Miles and No Progress


by Catherine Zickgraf


Miles and Making No Progress


Years back, they tamed these Georgian woods.
Men sunk a path between the toes of deep rooted oaks.
But still hundreds of square miles remain untouched,
and the pine beds are cushioned with needles in layers of time.

The ledge on the left slopes down toward the stream.
Here our grandfathers once parted the wild ivy sea.
We can’t be seen together, so we drive
where no one but God is watching. 

You and I are swimming the asphalt.
Just a few generations have trickled by,
and I’ve already forgotten the old or the dead
who once threaded this road through the earth’s green bed. 

Forgotten, I say since I don’t learn from their mistakes
from this road they traveled before me.
This always blows up in your face, they learned.
It’s guaranteed to blow up in your face.

To make this road, tall trees were mowed down,
then stripped of leaves by a screaming saw.
But this road belongs through these miles of pines
because finding a way is what we do.

And the jade of the spruces paints the sky
and swallows us trying to disappear.
You drive, I ride, we’re trying to hide
as we flow around the Southern countryside.

We park on this road where no one is looking,
and you try to steady me down the hill. 
It’s cool though, it got this, I’m tougher than you think.
And besides all that: I know what I’m doing.

In my skirt, I ride your lap.
Your back on a tree—you’re a man like that.
And you take my feet off the ground . . .
but people would judge me if they found out.  

Vines grow over the path we made.
My sins are boring down like roots,
digging like fingers into the dirt.
And I’m chained here, ashamed of the hurt I’m causing.

Why am I controlled by this need to be filled?
I hide, betray, I lie every day.
But I need you to touch that place inside
that nobody else can even find.  
















Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Results of Adults: Nudis Manibus






Results of Adults has released their latest EP: Nudis Manibus.
 

Album Notes:
Meeting by chance at Mauds Coffee Shop in Gainesville, Florida the ghostly shades of George Harrison and John Lennon came up with a foolproof plan. Employing a sitar-shaped time machine designed by the engineers at Area 51, they kidnapped Wayne Coyne and headed back in time to 1968, where, during a marathon meditation session on a mountaintop in the Appalachians lead by Gram Parsons, they recruited Iggy Pop as Paul McCartney’s stunt double. Paul was so busy writing a song called “Teddy Boy” that he didn’t even notice that the others had left without him. With a stop in 1973 to steal Neil Young’s guitars, they journeyed back to the present day, where they set up shop in Brian Wilson’s attic. Now relocated to a basement in Birmingham, Alabama, they are churning out thrashing psychedelic pop under the alias RESULTS OF ADULTS like there’s no tomorrow.

 ...Here's Why!

A well known area music magazine recently did me the honor of requesting my input for the best albums coming out of our area. My response was "I hate choosing because there are so many great ones" and "because I don't think people need a filter anymore to tell them what is good." I did however put a few forward that at the time stood out to me for one reason or another. One of them was an EP, which I was lucky enough to receive well in advance of its release, "Nudis Manibus" by Results of Adults. 

I hear music all the time. I love so many local musicians, so many that for me it isn't possible to pick and choose. Birmingham is developing a tight knit music scene which is ushering in a new/old concept...one of unity. The good will between Birmingham musicians from all different genres is inspiring to behold, and an honor to be part of. So, together with them, BFP Music is shying away from the old paradigm of petty competition, self-serving elitist promotional tactics and the old method of exclusionary focus. 

Although we will be the first to scream out our love for traditional, soulful, perhaps even stereotypical Alabama music, we're also highly conscious of the emerging talents with offerings uncharacteristic of the Southern mold. 

We find that musicians with their inherent love and appreciation of music actually tend toward this type of appreciation as well. Blues musicians can watch the guitar licks of Tim Boykin as he slams out some of the heaviest heavy you can get, not complaining about the genre but completely enamored  with his ability, his creation. The guys from Who Shot Lizzy?, with their escalating popularity in the country genre don't sneer at the likes of Results of Adults when they put out a wild psychedelic album, they listen and appreciate. Sure some people would rather listen to country, some people want rock. Some people realize it as a synthetic division with blurred boundaries. But all the musicians I know have one thing in common, a respect for the craft, a knowledge of the effort and a love of the art.

What an offering like Nudis Manibus does for the scene is illustrate the range, the stretching of the boundaries. It's not inherently better or worse than any other. None of the guys I know think that way. If you need to think that way I regret to inform you, thankfully, that your attitude is fast losing credence. Nudis Manibus isn't a mash-up of world music and hip-hop. It isn't some guys sitting in the studio trying to insert crazy sounds to make it original. It's its own kind of freak. What that does for me is show Birmingham music for what it is...our city has its own things. 


To be a musician in Birmingham right now is to be part of something fast becoming unique in our area. It isn't some quest to find that "different" sound. It isn't about manufacturing "popular" bands. It's a spirit that in its totality results in a response similar to that of listening to the music being produced. You have to hear it to understand.

Listen to Nudis Manibus and you'll hear a broadening of the accepted and a breaking free from the common. You'll hear something that doesn't "fit." In this case that's a good thing. 

So, as unflattering as it might sound to some I applaud  Results of Adults for being an indicator. For making enjoyable music, yes, but even more for being one of the signs of the direction we, as a music community, are headed. I give Nudis Manibus my first and only BFP Indicator of This Day award!. For real. Check it out!                 

by Lee Waites            

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

BFP's BF'ing-D Music Industry Night @Bottletree


3 excellent performances for only $7
Wilder Adkins//Alice Gillee Project//The Deep End
Musician Networking. Drink Specials. Door Prizes...

If you've ever wanted to share an idea about music, complain about media coverage or just meet area musicians, this is the event for you. This is the first in a series of BFP BF'ing-D Music Industry Nights. Along with a number of involved Alabama bands we are pooling our resources to launch a new idea in music coverage. BFP Music will produce a music magazine, all music, all the time, planned, promoted and produced with area musicians. We will focus on diverse, wide ranging and inclusive music coverage. We will directly engage our readers, followers, writers and friends in an attempt to make music coverage more user friendly and more of an active presence than a static, "We'll cover what we think you should hear" approach. Those days are over. 

YES...networking is a large part of what we're doing! NO! you don't have to network to enjoy this show. Just come by and join us, watch the bands and see what we're up to. You'll get three stand alone performances all rolled up in one. 

Wilder Adkins will sweet talk you, get you loosened up and feeling good.
The Alice Gillee Project will then step it up a notch, with their multi genre mesh of cool.
Amping it up and driving it home will be The Deep End with their high energy performance that will leave you hungry for the next BFP BF'ing-D Bash.
Oh yes. Prizes and stuff and drink specials. Merchandise from a number of area bands...
Please consider joining us and bringing your friends. We will be passing out comment/suggestion cards at every event so you can contribute to the discussion and direction of this project. You might even get your name in the paper.

Monday, August 27, 2012

SharBaby in UK: Follow Up Interview



Phone interview with SharBaby and Dave Thomas in UK.

Homewood School of Music Coming Soon




Homewood School of Music is scheduled to open soon.

Allen Barlow took a few minutes to talk with us about his newest project. 

"Myself and Rob Gannon have been the guitar instructors at Fretted Instruments of Birmingham for 16 and 20 years, respectively. I'm a known Birmingham guitarist with a Bachelors of Music in Guitar Performance from Montevallo. Rob Gannon studied at the Musician's Institute in Los Angeles under Paul Gilbert ( Mr. Big and Racer X. ) I've been teaching for 20 years. I've also been a lead guitarist for the Black Jacket Symphony concerts such as: Are You Experienced, Dark Side of the Moon, Hotel California, Rumours, The Doors, Let It Bleed, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, and Abbey Road. I've been performing throughout the Southeast for 20 years...everything from acoustic duos in pubs to jazz for the Governor."

Barlow enthusiastically expressed his gratitude to Fretted Instruments for all his years there, while simultaneously expressing his excitement for the future.
   
"The mission of the school is to take some of the world class talent in this city, pool it together and provide Birmingham a central channel for finding the best teachers in our region. The school has 6 studios and a room for classes, clinics, and workshops. But it will be bigger than the location. We are serving as a "teaching agency" to help talented individuals find students. We have "off location teachers" in Alabaster, Tuscaloosa, Pinson and Cahaba Heights. We're offering lessons in guitar, bass, piano, voice, strings, drums, woodwinds, and brass.

"We expect to hire more people. We would like to encourage anyone who is gifted in the area, not only in musical education, but those who have a heart for enriching the lives of their students through music, to contact us. We will be renting the studios to anyone who has as few as 1 student up to a full schedule of lessons. I've been teaching 60 private lessons a week for at least 10 years. I'd teach more but I moonlight as a performer. Rob Gannon has kept a schedule of 75 students per week for even longer."

Homewood School of Music is scheduled to open it's doors on September 4th. It will be located at 1736 Oxmoor Road.


The website, which is currently under construction,  is scheduled to be online by that time as well.

URL: Http://HomewoodSchoolofMusic.com

Email: Homewoodschoolofmusic@gmail.com

Saturday, August 25, 2012

BFP BF'ing-D Music Industry Night



BFP BF'ing-D Music Industry Night is coming up at Bottletree. Any bands we're working with check out the discussion in BFP Backstage. We need to get your merch if you want us to sell it. This is a networking party. ALL area musicians are invited. ALL music fans are invited. There will be drink specials and comments will be solicited about bands and the direction of the local music scene. The bands
want you to hear them and they want to hear you. The end result of this party will be the creation of a BFP Music print version, a new direction in local music coverage, heavily backed and supported by local musicians. Please contact me if you're an area musician and this interests you. Rock on! Details to follow.

Steel for Brains - Voiceless Noise: An Interview with Russian Circles




The premise is simple. The execution? The antithesis of anything simplistic. Three guys. Three instruments. A sound that at once crushes and transcends the listener - Russian Circles has been around for a while not doing the same thing necessarily but retaining their signature, bombastic sound combing elements of prog rock with shoegaze with punk and even elements of psychedelia. I recently sat down with bassist, Brian Cook, to discuss the ins and outs of the band and how they, for a lack of better terminology, pull it off:

From where Russian Circles started out to now how do you see yourselves as a band and the progression of your music?
I don’t know. That’s a hard one for me to answer, because I wasn’t in the band originally. Colin DeKuiper was the original bass player in the band, and he was on the first album, Enter. But as someone that watched and toured and saw the band in that incarnation, I came into the band as a fan and was really excited about what they were doing just because I thought it was a kind of amalgamation of a lot of the things I liked. I mean, it had the sort of proggy elements of Yes and more modern stuff like Mars Volta, but it was still kind of driven by that Chicago touch and go kind of post-punk sound. Don Caballero and others - I mean they weren’t a Chicago band, but I feel like they were always kind of affiliated with that city because of their label. I liked that sort of combination. I mean, now I feel like, ever since I’ve been on board, and been around longer, I feel like – and maybe it’s because I’m too entrenched in it – but I just don’t see the sort of comparisons as recently anymore probably because I’m too involved. I think of where the band is now, and I don’t have a frame of reference. We just run on what sounds good and sounds fresh to us.

On that note, for this last release, what was the collective goal or thought process for the band going into Empros? What did you guys see on the canvas?
You know, when we were in the practice space, there wasn’t a specific idea. We’ve never approach a song with the idea that it was going to go in a specific direction. Every song is a blank canvas. It’s not like we see the picture we’re going to put on it. It’s more of a stream of consciousness exercise – throwing it down and seeing what works. So it’s more…abstract expressionist. Whatever works there and resonates with us – that’s where we’re going. We’re not going for an image so much as we’re going for a gut-level, emotional response on our end.
With instrumental rock or metal, there’s so much that can go wrong – it can be derivative – it can be stagnant, but it seems like you guys are carving out these melodies and these harmonies out of this dissonance – this noise. It’s chaotic and also it’s completely and utterly organized at the same time. How do you pull that off? 
I think part of it just comes from there’s a balance between the three of us where we’re all sort of stubborn, driven people with our own distinct ideas – our own sort of mutual respect but also a desire to make things interesting on our end. I think a lot of times it’s easy to fall into one of two traps. One being when you have a bunch of players in a band who are just really excited to showboat, overplay, and try to bust out all the tricks over the course of one riff. Or the exact opposite where it’s all about creating one sort of unified sound. And there’s not anything necessarily wrong with either one of those approaches, because there’s great bands that do both things – great bands where you have all players going ballistic at the same time. You know a band like Hella or something where it’s just complete oversaturation – hyper-musicianship. Or on the adverse end, totally reductionist like Sunn O))) – probably the most extreme example – where it’s just like, “Okay…we’re gonna play just three notes for the next five minutes.

[Both Laugh]

Either one of those approaches is cool, you know. Unfortunately there’s a lot of bands who try to do those things and doing either extreme is really hard to pull off. I think we try to find some sort of middle ground where we’re all doing something that’s compelling to us as individuals but still making it unified is kind of interesting. I was just thinking about this band, Akimbo, that’s from Seattle where I live – they’re breaking up – their playing their last show on Saturday. They’re a trio and one of the things I’ve always loved about them is they have a great drummer, a great bass player, a great guitar player, and they all know how to lock in together, but they’re all interesting players on their own – the bass line is really interesting, the guitar playing is really interesting, and the drumming is phenomenal, and that’s what I’ve always liked in bands. Whether it’s something area-rock sized like Rush or something like The Minutemen or Unwound. You can isolate any one instrument, and it’s still compelling and interesting, or you can throw it in with the entire group, and it sort of blends itself to one sound. If you can find that balance – to me, that’s the sweet spot. I mean, that’s what we strive to do. It works individually and from a unified perspective. You’re like “Oh shit, listen to what the drummer’s doing there.”
I think you guys definitely achieve that equilibrium.
Thanks, man.

The atmosphere of the show – the fact that there isn’t a spotlight on anyone person. It’s just you three guys playing and achieving this balance is what people see.
Well, I think ultimately that’s what we’re aiming to do. I mean, going back to what you were asking about this last record. The goal is always to make something that works on that level. How successful our songs are – how successful the music is largely depends on that balance. And I think this time what we were wanting to do was make the record about the three of us, whereas the record prior we brought in a lot of instrumentation – we brought in horns and other things – it was really fun to make a record that was grandiose – a very layered thing. But as much as I love that record as a document – as a finished sort of stand alone piece – it wasn’t really a fun record to try and perform live, because it kind of strayed from the path of what the three of us try to achieve when we’re playing together. I think ultimately we’re a band that likes to perform live, and we like to be able to do what we do on record live. As a band we want to be able to try new things and so we were able to make this record, kind of blown out, big production. And with Empros it was sort of a deliberate step to say “Okay, it’s just going to be the three of us. Everything we do on this record we have to be able to pull off live.”

During the 90s it seems like metal went through this, honestly, terrible phase, and now it seems as if metal is garnering that respect back again – the respect it had in the 60s and 70s. Why do you think that is?
I think it’s really easy to look back on any period of time and say that a particular genre of music took a dive. I mean, you can look at the 80s and like every fucking rock artist from the 70s that carried over sucked. The Rolling Stones, you know. But I think a lot of amazing things came out of the 80s like whether it was American hardcore or the sort of beginning of what’s defined as “indie rock.” With metal, I was never…I was never a big fan of the British wave of heavy metal. I feel bad saying it. Haha. I mean, that period of metal – I respect it. I just don’t listen to it as a fan. But I mean, you had thrash metal that came out during that time. And I love that era of metal. Like the early thrash bands. So when the 90s came around it was like thrash took a hit and sort of became out of vogue. But then you had the sort of early black metal stuff then which I think a lot of people were scratching their heads over at first, myself included. But I think a lot of interesting stuff spawned out of that. A lot of hardcore bands, bands that were from the punk scene from the 80s came in during the 90s and basically did their own thing. Whether it’s the Melvins who did their own heavy, sludgy thing or if you’re even talking about grind bands like Assuck or even crusty hardcore bands like His Hero’s Gone. It wasn’t metal in the traditional sense, but I think it was still bringing that sort of heavy, blown out, angst-driven, atonal, distorted, ugly music. I think metal needed that as a sort of resurgence to like recalibrate. I mean, we have all these metal bands that all of a sudden blew up into the big time – like Metallica and what not, and they kind of lost the things that made them special and they took this new generation of listeners to basically rewrite the history of the genre.

I’ve always thought of the 90s as the kind of enema to flush out the shit music, and here, now, we’ve got these great metal bands who are getting their platform. It’s not about showmanship or even building an audience – it’s more about the art itself.
I think so many of the bands right now that are the, for me, torchbearers of modern metal: whether that’s a band like Mastodon or Agalloch. I mean, you know, even a band like Lamb of God. It’s all dudes – I mean a lot of the guys involved with that – my impression with that is that these are guys who grew up listening to hardcore and metal and punk along with other things and just basically started playing and said “Fuck it, this is what I love doing, this is what we’re gonna play, and we’re not gonna hold back.” And their success basically came from that. I mean, we’re talking obviously wildly different levels when we talk Agalloch versus Lamb of God.

[Both laugh]

They all came from playing art spaces and VFW halls and what weren’t what we consider to be “metal” crowds.

Do you guys ever read on tour? What’s your escape?
I try to read on tour, and I have very little success because it’s sort of like…you have a book you’re really into. Like, on this tour, I read the Bob Mould autobiography which is incredible. Or like, I read, all the Girl With the Dragon Tattoos, DaVinci Code, but then I’ll try read something that’s a little more highbrow like our last tour I brought Jean Janet’s Lady of Flowers, some French author’s book from the 1930s and all the beat poets loved it. The book’s fine, but it’s definitely not a page turner [laughs]. I’ve kind of learned that I have to do my sort of pulp/junk food reading on tour and save the James Joyce for when you’re at home.

One last question, man. What do you look for in a venue as far as what Russian Circles try to accomplish with their shows?
I imagine you have a lot of people say the Bottletree, because the Bottletree is actually an incredible venue. They take amazing care of bands. I mean, it’s a good sized venue – especially for a place like Birmingham. You get thirty people in the room, and you’ve got a good show, and a backstage like this? Yeah. [Laughs]. I mean, most of the time it’s like a janitor’s closet.

Like at the VFW?

[Both laugh]

We always look forward to playing here, and I don’t think any band is blowing smoke up Birmingham’s ass when they say they love playing at Bottletree. I’ve read interviews from bands that aren’t even in Birmingham, and there’s so many that are like “We love the Bottletree.” Black Mountain just said the other day that this was their favorite place, and those guys are used to playing to 1300 or more up in Seattle. It’s funny. Every time we play here, I’m like, “Man, this stage is tight,” but I know the Melvins have been up there with two drummers, so I’m not going to complain. I mean it’s a venue that’s run by dudes who are in bands. They know how it works. I mean, I think of the main issues with American venues as opposed to those in Europe, and I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about European venues from other bands you’ve talked to is that so many of the venues are volunteer run, arts-driven, community centers. They kind of function on a level like this. The people that are working at the venue are there because they have a passion for the music. I know a lot of the people that work, and they recognize that it’s a pretty special place. A very crucial difference between playing a place like the Bottletree and the Knitting Factory in like LA or New York. The one in LA doesn’t exist anymore, so they can go fuck themselves. I mean, when you’ve got a bunch of people that are there just to get a paycheck it’s a drag, man. Here, you’ve got that sense of community. It’s just more fun to play somewhere where you can have a conversation with the people who work there, have a drink with the promoter – you know, just comfort. We all grew up playing basements and shows run by our friends. It’s always about making a scene happen – a community.

Thanks to Brian and the guys for the interview. A few things: if you’ve not listened to Russian Circles, start here. It’s my personal favorite song of theirs, so I have zero shame in linking it up. If you’ve got a favorite feel free to comment. Also, if you’ve yet to catch any show, metal or whatever, at the Bottletree Cafe in Birmingham, Alabama, you’ve yet to experience what’s considered by many to be one of the best venues anywhere.

This is the part where I whore myself out: if you have a facebook page, follow me at facebook.com/steelforbrains. If you’re liking these interviews then follow me on tumblr. I assure you there’s a hell of a lot more to come. Thanks again to Russian Circles for a great show and thanks to Bottletree for keeping good music in Birmingham.  Also, thank you to my friends at BFP Music for their support and for making music and music journalism what it should be - free of bullshit. Until next time. Support good metal. Support good music.

Cheers. - D

http://www.steelforbrains.com/post/29217431551/russian-circles-interview

Jonathan Dick is a writer/musician from Birmingham, Alabama.  He is an award-winning writer of poetry/prose in addition to being an avid metalhead.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wilder Adkins: Oak & Apple

by Lee Waites


The morning air was nice and cool, a pleasant mist was drifting around. It doesn't help that I live in the woods surrounded by the peace of nature. I put on my downloaded copy of Wilder Adkins's Oak & Apple and proceeded to be called home. The way Adkins handles the message in these songs is the same way he handles the guitar. It is distinctively delicate, purposeful and beautiful.

Adkins's voice, self described as "drony" combined with the soft, sultry woodwind vocals of Gabrielle Jones, female accompaniment on most of the songs is perfect for the simple message. The complexity, not one of vanity, is buried deep within the spirit and wrapped in the essence of the message. The performances drip like honey and sway like trees in the wind, in a union of nature and spirituality. Each note is crisp and cleanly played  and the rhythm of the nuanced fluctuations, accents and stresses is inspired and near perfect. 

The lighter, crisp voice of Kaylor Otwell, female vocalist on track four, "He is Risen," likewise fits comfortably with Adkins's own...complimentary, lilting, floating side by side, never in conflict. 




"It started pretty small," says Adkins. "I was just going to make a short hymns EP between recording albums of my original stuff, but it turned into a full length project. I've always really liked old hymns because the words are so rich. I think this is a special project because these songs do hold a lot of meaning for me. A lot of people have told me that this album is very peaceful and I'm glad to hear it. I don't like a lot of modern hymns albums which basically sound like U2 singing old hymns or something." 

The album is obviously a work of faith for Adkins who wrote tracks 1, 4 and 7 and modified the words on track 9, "What Wondrous Love." 

"I took the melody of the original and wrote new words to make it into a story song of the prodigal son..." says Adkins. "Abbeville (track 3) was pulled from the Sacred Harp hymnbook, which I don't know if you're familiar with sacred harp singing, it's this old tradition of singing without instruments, and the music is written out with shape-notes"   

Adkins presents here a wonderful offering, obviously an outward expression of his soul. Its beauty is so inspiring it almost captured this old Deist in its grip. I had to share it with you. But beware it might just transport you into a magic world where you're happy all the time and surrounded by friends. And don't be surprised when some bearded man, shrouded in grace sits beside you and offers you a cup of wine.  Thanks Wilder.      

 http://wilderadkins.bandcamp.com/album/oak-apple

Also performing on the album:

  • Nicole MacLean (Piano-track 2)
  • Brent Kendrick (drums-track 10)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sharbaby Hits the UK: Pre-Tour Interview

Currently Grooving to: Leeris Perth (check it out)

I am currently listening to this. I am grooving on it. I now share this with you. Check it out.

  
Leeris Perth is Kevin Lehner’s experimental solo music project with contributions from other musicians.

Since the start of his solo project, Leeris Perth has worked with various artists around the country while living in Boston, New York, and currently his hometown of Birmingham, AL.

Leeris Perth's music has often been described as sounding very eclectic. With the style changing from song to song as demonstrated with the new release of his self titled EP.

Leeris Perth is a collective of music, art, poetry and other creative outlets which are born from observing, describing and changing the world around us.

credits

released 05 August 2012
Kevin Lehner: Guitars, Piano & Vocals
David Somerall: Bass
Matt Bryant: Drums
Brooks Davis: Lead Guitar on "Stop Back"
Alora King: Vocals on "The Drifter & The Pusher"
Ryan Broda: Synth on "The Drifter & The Pusher"

All songs written by Kevin Lehner

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Kevin Peek at Secret Library Recordings in Birmingham, AL

Produced by David Somerall

Album artwork by Payton Roberts

tags

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Interview with Stuart McNair on His UK Tour

Beauty in Agony - An Interview With Agalloch




Beauty in Agony - An Interview with Agalloch






It was something to be seen. Portland, Oregon metal behemoths, Agalloch, did not so much shred or destroy like so many other metal bands. No. Agalloch did what they do best both with their music and their live performances. In a rather short period of time, Agalloch managed to take those in attendance at the Bottletree Cafe in Birmingham, Alabama to a wholly different place - a place where the agony and despondency of mankind is voiced through the echoes of crushing riffs and absolutely gorgeous melodies. Even for those who had not before allowed themselves the opportunity, the entirety of that small venue was transported, if only briefly, to a place created with the craftmanship and sheer tenacity of the band Agalloch.


After the show, I had a chance to sit with John Haughm (lead vocals/guitar) and Don Anderson (guitar/vocals) from the band. Here’s their take:


With Faustian Echoes, what compelled you guys, as artists, to go in that direction?


Don: You go. [to John]


John: There were a myriad of things, really…a lot of coincidences came up. When we were coming back from Israel, we had a layover in Frankfurt, Germany, and one of our favorite places in that airport is called the Goethe bar – you know, the author of Faust. So we were actually sitting there having breakfast talking about doing an EP, like more of a black metal EP and so that was one coincidence. And then another one was, I was watching the Svankmejer film “Faust”, and I started to realize ‘Wow, there’s a lot of really great samples in this film that we could totally use to really make an interesting piece. And then I was reading Faust – because it [the film] actually inspired me to read the actual Faust poem, and I realized there were a lot of passages, at least in the English translation, that were very similar to my lyrics – you know very…


Don: Agallochian


[All laugh]





John: Well yeah, you know, like very damning towards mankind and that kind of thing. And so it just really fell together and, in fact, Don was actually teaching a class which actually went in line with one of the samples in the Svankmejer film about language.


Don: Well, you know…the whole discussion of language as being inferior or unable to represent human emotions and feelings and always failing at that is a standard component of post-modernism and post-structuralism.





Okay, I’m going to assume you’re a teacher. What do you teach?


Don: I’m an English professor.


[Laughs] Well you and I have something in common. But back to the idea of language – the lyrics: one of my closest friends, in our discussion of Agalloch’s lyrics, used the terminology “dark poetry” – a kind of a poetry of the adverse in his description of the band’s lyrics. On that note, what are your feelings as far as when you look at how metal is defined or, kind of misconceived into this stereotype by fans and even the press, because of a lack of understanding or lack of knowledge, even?





John: Well it depends on the region. I mean, in Europe, metal is just as popular as pop music – it’s just as revered as anything else. I just think it’s a cultural thing, really. I mean, in the States it’s a bit different, but it’s changing. I mean, it seems like metal is being a little more respected…again. You know, obviously this goes in cycles. If you were talk about this in the nineties [laughs] – it would have been a completely different story.


Don: Things have loosened because you know short-haired people. [All laugh] You know, metal was strange in the early 90s.


Jon: [Laugh] Or even in the 80s.


Don: Yeah, I mean, we all cut our hair. Things like that. Having too much clean tone guitar parts – where if you had a clean tone guitar part or, god forbid, an acoustic guitar – it was like Metallica’s Fight Fire with Fire was a sort of joke that was destroyed by brutality coming after it. Sepultura was good at this too. But…John and I have always been heavily influenced by so many other forms of music besides metal. And I’ve always found syntheses between those other forms. Like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and neo-folk. And we felt like well, this is all dark music – and even some of the instrumental techniques are very similar to black metal. It’s seems seamless to integrate them.


John: I mean, you can find darkness in a Loreena McKennitt album that’s darker than any black metal.


Don: We just always absorbed all kinds of influences, and just stir it in a pot, and it comes out like Agalloch.


So, where are you guys headed now, from a musical perspective? I mean, a track like Faustian Echoes is one I’m still absorbing even weeks after listening to it for the first time.


Don: We don’t really know. It’s a wonderful period of potentiality. We’re not even sure. I kind of like the idea of putting myself in a place where I don’t exactly know where I’m going, because that’s when it becomes exciting – the music becomes – I mean, we’ve been together for sixteen years. John and I have done the same thing since I was eighteen years old and it’s always that potential for something new and different. Once it becomes a recipe or something like that, it becomes boring.






I think that’s where that respect for metal that you mentioned, John, is coming from. I think it’s due in part because there’s not a movement to compartmentalize yourself as artists. There’s more of a movement to be eclectic.


John: I put Agalloch more in line with artists like Current 93 or Rush who, you know, just do it their own way. They’re always putting out something interesting, and there always just pushing boundaries within their own style.


Don: Yeah, I think bands like Rush or King Crimson are big influences musically. Not just musically, either, you know, they have phases. They have a few records in each phase. I mean, you think of Van Gogh during his blue period or whatever…you have a period where you’re doing these things, and that’s what I like to see with Agalloch. I don’t know what phase we’re in now. It’s not Pale Folklore. It’s not The Mantle. But I like to think we have the longetivity and the creativity to continue evolving.





How difficult is it to maintain that signature Agalloch sound with each album being so inherently different from its predecessor?





John: The thing about it is – we don’t try. We don’t try to make a different album. We really just sit down and write. I think the signature is just in my style. My sort of songwriting I put forth and then we collaborate on that. I mean that – you know, the red thread. I have those certain techniques that I always do, but we always put those techniques into different situations where we can express ourselves differently and have different feelings and different aesthetics.
Don: I think John’s a very good melody writer. I’m not a good melody writer. You can draw a straight line from the melody in Hallways of Enchanted Ebony all the way to the melody that opens Ghosts of the Midwinter Fires. Those sort of weird post-punk melodies. And that’s always been consistent. And, of course, the effects. We’re big into using every color we can find. I think we’re a band that paints with a wide palate – I mean we’ve got nylon strings, acoustic string, etc. – they’re always there – when we want to use them, and we never shy away from the coloring.


When we’re talking about aesthetics and painting with a wide palate – how important is the atmosphere of the show itself to the band?


John: Well it’s just as important as the lyrics, it’s just as important as the sound. I mean, it’s just as important as anything else to me. The thing I hate the most is seeing a band I really want to see and they get up in jeans and t-shirts and just play. I like bands that transform an otherwise boring venue into another world. And we try to do that. I mean, some venues don’t let us use the fog. We’ve got the incense and we have the banners – it just depends on the stage. You know, we have a lot of things to pull out of our hat to make the experience for the fans – to make them really absorb what’s happening.


Don: I think the biggest or one of the biggest influences on Agalloch is and has been cinema. And in cinema you have this phrase called mise en scene – you take a frame or a shot, and you see that it’s really well-balanced, and well, we do the same thing musically with our show and placing objects on stage. And it’s like when we come onto the stage one by one, I come into my little space, and I have my incense here – I can smell it, I have fog here, the amp starts to feedback, and then it’s like I’m just entering a whole other world.





It’s transcendent.


[Both]: It is.


John: Yes, exactly.


Don: I even have the ritual of taking my glasses off.


[All laugh]


Don: You know, I go from English professor to Agalloch guitar player. [Laughs] It’s just helpful for us and the audience.


As far as venues go – where you’ve played, what’s crucial to you as a band? What do you desire or look for?


John: Big stage. Big sound on stage is very important. We were actually talking about this today.


Don: It sounds so important because the music we play is dynamic – the quiet parts, the loud parts, the clean parts, lots of guitar, just different harmonies. It’s just really important to have good sound on stage. If it’s crappy, we’ll just fuck it and be punk rock and go through.


John: I really love this place.





Well, in my mind, it speaks volumes that you made such an incredibly small venue seem absolutely anthemic.


John: Well, that’s really the point of what we try to do.


Don: You know we were just talking today when we saw the venue, and we were like ‘Oh, man. That’s really small,’ but that’s a change. It’s always nice to come to a small comfy place where the people are nice and the people are courteous, and I mean…we even got to watch Lynch’s “Wild at Heart” here backstage.


[All laugh]


That’s important. You have to have Lynch here in the South.


Don: Well, exactly. With the trailer and the South. Yeah [Laughs]


What do you guys read on tour?


John: I try to sleep. [Laughs]


Don: I do have a couple of books. I do both. Two kinds of literature. I have James Baldwin, who’s one of my absolute favorite writers, and then I’m reading Giovanni’s Room. That’s serious reading when I want to confront questions of existence in the absence of god. When I want to just read something light, I have Anthony Bourdain’s book. If I don’t want to focus too hard, I can read about food and travel.





I assume you guys have eaten some of our Southern food, then.


John: Oh yeah. Chicken and waffles.Don: Yeah, we had chicken and waffles in Raleigh – I don’t know if that’s Southern enough – if that’s considered the South. [Laughs]


Oh, hey. If it’s any kind of waffle combination, you’ve officially crossed that cultural barrier, and you’re in the South.


[All laugh]
Thanks to my friends at Bottletree and The Birmingham Freepress  for their support and, most of all, the kindest regards to Agalloch for being so incredibly gracious and insightful.

Lastly, if you support journalism and the press as it should be then support The Birmingham Freepress or your local corporate-free news.  These people support actual journalism and not sensationalistic bullshit.  Support good metal.  Support good music.  Cheers.

D.

http://steelforbrains.tumblr.com/post/28673159610/agalloch-interview


Jonathan Dick is a writer/musician from Birmingham, Alabama.  He is an award-winning writer of poetry and prose in addition to being a metalhead.