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For many musicians, their work is a labor of love but for Neon Indian it is a whole new level where you’d find them constantly buckled down working on something, if not on music. With a relentless touring schedule that’s not stopping anytime soon, I am grateful frontman Alan Palomo, took the time to discuss the future, his many other projects and some guy literally stabbing himself in the back.

TWYE: I was fortunate enough to catch you at one of your few Australian shows recently. How did the crowds respond to your sets because if I remember correctly, Psychic Chasms was yet to be released here?

Alan Palomo: It was definitely a pleasant surprise because there were people who were genuinely excited about it and even in Melbourne, where I’ve done some recordings with Miami Horror, I think it was a good segue way into my stuff because I remember I went on stage during Miami Horror’s set. But in terms of going to a new country, I think the objective is really to try and give people a solid impression of what it is you do in a live environment. From what I can tell, people were definitely fascinated.

TWYE: Do the reactions differ from place to place?

AP: Oh yeah, absolutely. We kind of hone in on our live show in a way where there’s a lot of experimentation, and that’s what the live show becomes about after a while. We have intro melodies as a segue to each of the songs where we’d take a component from the last song with the next one and have this weird modulus snyth duration and it seems like people get really into it. But yeah, it does show that once they’re familiar with your music, people really get exited and know what to expect.

TWYE: Hidden in the depths of my music collection I found a track from your VEGA and Ghosthustler projects and found parallels between them and Neon Indian, as if they were the build up to what Neon Indian sounds like today. Were these projects intended to be aesthetically similar?
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Without doubt, my band of the month is HEALTH. They are about to release a killer record titled Get Color and on the verge of it’s release here, I got to interview HEALTH’s noise architect and bassist, John Famiglietti who discusses the finer points of their music, aromatic homemade back scrubs and how a little African kid is now the proud owner of a HEALTH t-shirt.

HEALTH

Photo: Katrin Huth

TWYE: From playing free shows in downtown L.A. to supporting Nine Inch Nails, what has been the best tour so far?

JOHN FAMIGLIETTI: All of the tours have been amazing in their own ways–even our first D.I.Y. basement tours were special in their own way. I’ve never had more fun than our first European tour, though.

TWYE: You recorded your debut album at The Smell – a place that is pretty infamous now. What are your thoughts about being associated with such an amazing community?

JF: I think it’s great. When I first moved to LA, the outside music community thought the LA scene was a joke and we would get no respect when we went on tour. Now those same buffoons are going out of their way to say how much they love LA and how cool it is. I find it very validating.

TWYE: I recently saw snippets from the Live At The Smell dvd which HEALTH was apart of. There is a high level of intensity in your performances. Are there any pre-show rituals?

JF: One hour before show I prepare a homemade back scrub (ingredients vary from night to night) but the base is always instant green tea powder, honey, and Himalayan rock salt. Then I slowly and methodically massage it into BJ’s back to exfoliate the dead skin. Not only does it smell good, but it puts him in the right mindset to play his best. In the old days, Jupiter and Jake used to trade off slapping each other’s faces to get aggro before playing, but the novelty wore off after several months of touring and they haven’t done it since.

HEALTH

Photo: Joe Perez

TWYE: The evolution of a HEALTH track appears to embody a certain organicism to it, whereby you are continually layering sounds. Can you please explain HEALTH’s process behind writing music. How do you determine the density and structure of your music?

JF: I’m glad you find that the music sounds organic and that’s the ideal, but often the process of writing is the opposite of natural. Songs are often methodically structured in writing before a note is even played, then restructured as reality changes those plans and as we try to make the songs more effective.

HEALTH

Photo: Matthew Taplinger

TWYE: When I read about a future collaboration with HEALTH and Johnny Jewel in another recent interview, I almost fell off my chair (I’m praying that will be included in HEALTH//DISCO2). Are there any other musicians you would want to collaborate with in the future?

JF: Talked to Johnny, chances are looking pretty slim to none right now, but we’d still love to do it. He’s probably our favorite producer working at the moment. We might actually do something again with Crystal Castles some day, something farther than a remix, but all parties involved are very busy. So stay firmly seated in that chair.

TWYE: With the Australian release of Get Color just around the corner, it must be exciting your music is finally reaching the far corners of the planet.

JF: YES. IT IS. In fact, a girl told me her HEALTH shirt got stolen in an African refugee camp. Somewhere in Africa a little kid is wearing our shirt. I just want a photo.

TWYE: The diversity of your giveaway in conjunction with Get Color’s release is a pretty genius – who came up with that? And just how many blood-signed posters/records are there? I think the number of surprised faces will be quite priceless.

JF: This was a running band joke that we never thought would actually happen. I think the original idea was from Jupiter, who was relating how excited he was to find the rare baseball cards in packs when he collected them as a kid, and how cool it would be to do something like that. Then the Willy Wonka ideas just started snow-balling from there. You can check out the availability of those tickets on our Myspace–consult the pyramid for the number of blood-stained items.

Get Color is in stores September 19!

Heidi recently took some time out with Deastro’s Randolf Chabot to discuss all things past, present and future. In this exclusive interview, Chabot identifies his beliefs shaped by his friends, childhood memories and his subconscious, even revealing what a Moondagger exactly is.

DEASTRO

Photo: Jeremy Deputat

TWYE: With the colonization of Mars climbing higher on the America’s ‘To Do’ list and taking rank over Earth’s own backyard, if invited, would you play the first Martian Music Festival?

Randolph Chabot: No, as much as a sci-fi nerd as I am I could not justify the use of resources it would take to get us there, especially considering the needs here on our own planet. It would be sick though.

TWYE: If you could design any official Deastro merchandise without boundary, what would it be?

RC: (I’m thinking flannel pajamas) Fanny Packs.

TWYE: Would you consider the ARC (Artists Revitalizing Communities) to be a ‘lead by example’ movement?

RC: Yes, my friends in that group really inspire people by their own lifestyle. Their real impact is who they are as people. You can never truly create a movement you just have to go for it and invite your friends to come along with you.

TWYE: What do you feel is the best way to initiate change in a world gone mad about aggressive shock value tactics and propaganda style recruitment?

RC: There is nothing that can stand up against someone or a group of people who have no other motive other than an actual love for people and our world. It may be stamped out by those who continue to insist that power and possession are paramount to happiness and success, but for every person that lives and makes this purity of heart their song there is at least one other, if not many, who are inspired to do the same. I guess my personal approach is to be even more shocking without a telephone number at the end of every song, trying to get money out of you.

TWYE: As an adult with the ability to draw from hindsight, do you believe that the culture you were exposed to as a child differs from what modern children are currently subject to?

RC: Yes I do. I think back to Batman the animated series, Secret of Nihm, Fivel an American Tale, All Dogs Go to Heaven, the Crow, Grunge, Punk, Emo, I feel like our art and media had this dark side to it but as a reaction to the world around them. The culture I was raised in was not afraid to express their contempt and sadness for the state of industrialization and devastation that was taking place in America. The thing about children’s programming now I think, beginning with maybe some of the pop music of the 90’s is that it is all glam and hype – it is a candy-coated piece of coal. Underneath the false wall of ready-made Walmarts, flat roofs, and the visually dead homes of the suburbs decay is marching forward.

I feel like my generation was equipped by our childhood experiences to find light in the darkest places, which I think is a line from the animated Transformers movie.

Haha. But I think the growing trend of sheltering children from the actual state of things because they can’t handle it or whatever is the wrong approach. We have to handle it; we live here.

TWYE: Hypothetically speaking, if you write cathartically about a colorful existence, what would you do if you fell into a black and white rut.

RC: I think I would make a plane of white with a million winding black roads stemming from one point.

TWYE: What does a Moondagger look like?

RC: Haha, I don’t know if I can remember my dream that vividly but I feel from recent dreams it only appears to be a dagger it is an illusion. It is actually a dark mass that swallows the hearts of men that has managed to be contained in this dagger.

Moondagger is out now on Pod/Inertia Records (CD version comes with Deastro’s debut album, Keepers as a bonus disk).

Recently, Heidi took some time out to contact Baltimore quartet, Ponytail, for Those Walls, Your Ears. This light-hearted interview openly discusses their art experiences, the musical process and blood in a jar … no joke! They also confirm a few other facts that may be of interest to you. Here is a sample from their recently released debut, Ice Cream Spiritual.

ponytail

Photo: Frank Hamilton

TWYE: At the end of your ‘parapainting’ class did you all sit in a big circle and critique your work? I am also curious as to what grade you all got for Ponytail!

KEN: Haha. Not exactly. We had crits on our artwork, but the end of our Parapainting was a massive show at a warehouse in Baltimore called the Copycat. It was a bash. There was A LOT of excitement leading up to it. One member of our band wet themselves at that show. No joke.

DUSTIN: It was just a really fun party at the very end of the semester.  People getting buzzed and dancing and having a good time.  With grades, everybody in the class got A’s!

TWYE: Being that Ponytail extended from an art project, what was the original concept/idea behind your particular body of work?

K: We have always tried to keep things natural and organic. If there was ever a concept it is  what kind of music do 4 art kids make who never met each other and have very different taste?!

D: Starting a band with 5 people that didn’t know each other at all was bizarre enough that making it all work was enough of a concept.  For me, it was more interesting that 5 random people can come together and make something that each person can claim that it’s theirs.  

TWYE: I almost imagine you guys in art school amongst a flurry of sound as silence and/or interpretive dance bands (I am a treeeee), but I am probably wrong. How did the other musical groups in the project fair?

K: Haha. There were some amazing other bands. There was a great acoustic group called Language of Love. Two girls, two guys. Trading flat harmonies. Great stuff. There was definitely a fair share of bands that threw a bongo in the mix and winged it, but seriously, it was so much fun. Some awesome projects. There was a band called Nieghbors and Ecstatic Sunshine started as a Parapainting band, too!

D: There were a lot of great bands that came out of the class.  I remember there was a band with a singer who played clarinet that had this really dark sound, it was so powerful.  Unfortunately it ended right after the semester.  Would of really loved to see where that would’ve gone.  Most of the bands seemed to be a group of friends so their concepts seemed a lot more concrete then ours which was really cool to see.  

TWYE: What is your view/thoughts on the relationship between Art and Music?

K: I think they are related, but ideas do not always translate from one into the other. I think Art has a very wonderful ambiguous quality, but the advantage of music is that it provides immediate gratification.

D: I think they are a very integral element to life.  Life with out art and music will be dreary.  Music and Art without life would be dreary. Read More

Things don’t always go to plan. This morning, resident interviewer, Heidi Greenwood and I were trying to run on schedule juggling two interviews. In between a mass of emails, drafts and daily errands we somehow managed to pull it off … well, at least one. In this interview, Heidi chats with Matt from the Brooklyn duo Matt & Kim, where you’ll learn about their film clips, Kim’s smile and that amazing show at McCarren Pool in New York City.

Matt & Kim

Photo: Tod Seelie

Heidi: So you will be gracing our shores again in May. What do you have in store for your Australian fans and what are you most looking forward to upon your return?

Matt: What we’d have in store (I’d hope) would be our dance party. Last time we were there in January 2008, every city we were going to we wanted to do all ages shows and it was difficult to find spaces that was willing to have all ages shows. In Brisbane, we ended up doing a show at this pool but it was raining and we moved the show to the women’s locker room – it was pretty memorable.

H: I noticed the inner sleave of Grand was full of amazing photos. It seems you both capture that essence of fun in everything you do, as if it’s contagious. What was the last spontaneous thing either of you have done?

M: I’m not quite sure. It’s funny that rock ‘n’ roll has scheduled my life more than it’s ever been.

H: That’s pretty ironic.

M: Yeah definitely. I know where I’m gonna be and where I’m gonna be touring and never in my life did I ever know what I was going to be doing six months from then.

H: I know what you mean. You’ve avoided the 9-to-5 but still you’re on a schedule that’s probably tighter and more substantial.

M: The only other job I had before this was working in the film industry – a freelance job – so sometimes I’d get work and sometimes I wont but it was actually stressful. So this is probably the most successful job.

H: It’s probably better that way.

M: I have no complaints about that.

H: I just saw one of your interviews at SXSW and you mentioned that you didn’t intend the “Daylight” video to be, as it is apparently come across to be, pretty adorable. Did you work with Micah Perta on the concept for the video?

M: We didn’t realise at all that it was gonna be cute or adorable.

H: It seems that its really influenced by Jan Von Holleben’s photographs – have you seen those?

M: Oh the back-end part?

H: Yeah. I guess that’s why it makes it so cute.

M: When the director showed me (vaguely) the ideas for it, he showed me some of those photographs and the whole sideways plane kinda thing. But we didn’t want to the whole video like that. We just thought it’d be a better part to the end. We thought the rest of the video would be like uncomfortable.

You know the way Kim and I are, is that we’re gonna be honest and be ourselves and you know we could just have fun with it.

H: It did look pretty uncomfortable in that freezer there.
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High Places

Photo: Mimi Cabell

On the eve of commencing their first tour down under, I invited fellow photographer and all-round super pal, Heidi Greenwood, to chat with Mary Pearson and Rob Barber – the creative brains behind the magical group, High Places exclusively for Those Walls, Your Ears. I assure you Heidi has seen High Places live more times than you have seen Kings of Leon on our shores. So without further delay, here is what they had to say on moving homes, the creative process and so much more.

Heidi: You just arrived in Australia from New Zealand, how was your time down there?

Rob: New Zealand was awesome. We played 3 shows: Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and they were all like equally awesome, and we had a lot of days off that we could do some non-music stuff and not just tour. And that was really really good because we had always wanted to go there really bad for as long as I have known about it. I’ve wanted to go there because it’s about as far as you can possibly get. It was really cool to go there, and it exceeded every expectation, like everyone there was so nice and it was such a beautiful country and the weather was perfect – it was pretty much a perfect trip. So Australia better step up!

H: You both seem to have a common love for nature and a peaceful well-being, how do you draw inspiration from New York City. Do you have ‘get away’ spots like Prospect Park hide outs that you like to venture off to? (I know they have those great organic markets there on the weekend.)

R: Yeah, it definitely has a lot of under utilized green spaces. Like a lot of people I know tend to not really utilize it that much in terms of the park system there, but there are parks that are on the Atlantic ocean and beaches and parks that have huge rocks and hills and cliffs. New York City is pretty wild and the parks are pretty easy to get to, there is even a park (well we actually just moved) but the park in our old neighborhood in New York was pretty amazing. It was just like a big old hill, you know, that has a really good vantage point from the top and that was our big procrastination spot whenever we would be writing music or recording. We would just be like, “Let’s go for a walk” and we would get take out and ice-cream and go up to the top of the hill and sit there and that was always really nice. New York definitely has a lot but what you are saying is true, the music almost being somewhat escapist to.

H: I guess it almost makes sense though because it’s almost like this kind of post-punk anarchism like instead of using that aggression of the City, it’s kind of like working against it almost?

R: Yeah, I mean I think in a weird way we were trying to create a vibe. When we are playing live, usually in a performing situation we are very very loud and we are usually playing with other bands that are very loud and aggressive and it’s almost another way of seeming punk or against the grain as to how the people react around us, not negatively but as a kind of challenge to what is noise music and challenge what is experimental music by using a more peaceful sound palette and then project it really loud to see what the results are. So I think that that definitely ties into a lot of the other vibes you were picking up in the music for sure.

H: It’s also been said that you will be relocating to Los Angeles. What are the reasons behind that decision?

R: That is true, yes. I am actually in the process. I have apartments in both cities so I am half way there. Mary has totally moved to L.A. for sure, she’s already moved in. It’s a little weird for me I think, I mean I really love L.A. and think it has a lot to offer, similar to how New York does. It has a lot of bands and a lot of weird places to play and you can play a lot of shows and not play yourself out. The climate is amazing, I think we just fit in better there, our friends are a little more in tune with what we’re into. Not to shun New York or anything, I’m from Philadelphia and I moved there in ’96, so the two cities are really similar in a lot of ways. Philly is just like a slightly smaller New York. For me, it’s kind of part of my roots you know.

H: So relocating gives you a new environment to draw inspirations from …

R: It definitely feels like that in a lot of ways. We have spent a lot of time in Los Angeles, we always have a lot of time off there and hang out there a lot on tour, so it’s not foreign to us but it definitely is nice to mix up your surroundings a little bit and see what happens. See if it effects your creative output, maybe in our earlier music we were reacting against our surroundings in New York, so perhaps our L.A surroundings will make us super goth and start wearing clothes made of trash and garbage bin liners.

H: Well Trash fashion IS pretty big in New York right now.

R: Ha, that’s true.

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