King Eddie Expands His Kingdom

For his recent self-titled album, King Eddie frontman Justin Maike had the goal of creating something “as D.I.Y. as possible, while still sounding polished and nice.” So he made the album using the resources he had in front of him, from recording in a haunted house in Detroit to hanging blankets on the walls so he could record in his basement in Iowa.

The sound for the album itself was D.I.Y. as well, because it involved Justin doing the writing and then seeking help from his “et al,” as he refers to them on Facebook, to create his totally rocking final project.  Justin’s girlfriend Aurora contributed her angelic, but sassy vocals, her sister Velvet played her funky bass, and their friend Angela added the dreamy keyboard. Justin’s friend Jake helped him with the intricate guitar parts, and Justin came all the way back to his hometown of Detroit to record Joe Myers’ groovy drums. “It was a group of people who had never played together all on one album, so it was hugely collaborative,” Justin explained.  He said that while he loves doing the song-writing, he also really likes getting his friends involved in what he called “coloring the picture.” And with Adam Cox, the producer for Mexican Knives and The Muggs, there to help Justin with production via email, what a picture it all became.  The album’s creation spanned three different states, many months, and tons of great friends.

“King Eddie” is an absolutely beautiful and poignant ride from start to finish. It combines new and insightful sounds with more old-fashioned psychedelic rock motifs from the 60’s and 70’s. So it will have you both jiving with your friends at house parties one minute and dusting off your old Jefferson Airplane albums the next.

Justin says his main influences for the album were the Doors and other bands from the days of yore, mixed with many elements from Latin and Hip-Hop music. Justin also retains his Detroit roots with a somewhat Detroit garage rock sound, especially in “Daddy (Was No Powder Keg Man).”

What separates King Eddie from other Detroit-based sounds? Well, in my opinion, two things: First, the guitar parts, and second, the vocals. The guitar sound is a unique one because it stands as what makes the album move from feel-good sounds to more profound emotional ones without making either seem out-of-place. Justin states that, “I know it’s not cool anymore to be the guitar guy,” but explains that his music relies heavily on strong guitar parts, with fluid melodies and powerful harmonies. I would even go so far as to say that the guitar carries the entire sound from start to finish and makes us feel present in each track. That presence then allows for that second element, the vocals, to shine through and make their mark on listeners. It’s clear that Justin and Aurora are dedicated vocalists and have not only perfected their own voices, but also the way in which their voices work together on the tracks. You can especially hear their lovely harmonies on my favorite track on the album, “Annie Social.” These voices add soul and character to the album and will make the songs stick in your head all day, but not at the expense of their complexity and quality. I am especially obsessed with Aurora’s voice, which I’m sure won’t offend Justin, as I will wager that he is quite obsessed himself. Her sassy and effortlessly powerful pipes are what you’re looking for, and more. Trust me. She’ll have you really grooving on track eight of the album, “Flyin.’”

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So where did the idea for such a memorable work of musical art come from? Well, Justin wrote the songs while Aurora was pregnant with their daughter, Jette. So that experience alone inspired most of the songs. As Justin explains, “the pregnancy was very surreal, because from a male perspective, it doesn’t feel like much is changing.” But his lyrics reflect on more than just the pregnancy, also cataloging his pre-baby travels as well as how he and Aurora met. Finally, Justin mixed in a good amount of politics and current news, which he presents in “a purposely non-preaching way.” Moreover the album presents itself as a reflection on the most important aspects of his life inspired by an excitement in the future he had before him with his two wonderful girls.

Now that Jette is here, Justin feels that he has become a much better musician. As he explains, “you need to plan your free time out much more because you know you only have a certain amount of time.” He continues, “I considered myself to already be self-driven, but Jette really cranked up the dial on that.” And of course being able to share his gift with his girlfriend and daughter makes it all the more special.

Justin and his family are now very focused on getting settled in Denver, where he will continue to grow musically, Aurora will help with music and work on her videography, and Jette will continue being an adorable little baby girl.

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Check out King Eddie’s bandcamp to download these incredible tunes!


Ryan and His Abundance of Arms

“If I’m given the chance to eat at McDonald’s or eat a healthy balanced meal, I’ll choose the healthy one even if it takes longer to eat,” Ryan Allen describes to me as I quickly type up his words next to a broken tape recorder. I do a double take as I realize what I just typed. “Is this guy talking to me about food right now?” I ask myself. Then I realize that Ryan Allen isn’t just telling me what he had for lunch, but is instead making one of the most significant analogies to the way people listen to music that I have heard in a long time as a music journalist. So I laugh out loud.

See, Ryan Allen is trying to explain to me that he believes people don’t really savor music like they used to.

Most people just want their fast food sort of music just served to them in an easily digestible way

– he says, and explains that he would prefer for the music he makes to require several listens in order to gain approval form his listeners. He will later compare his music to “a good book,” which one “wouldn’t want to finish in one sitting.”

Metaphors aside, Ryan Allen does exactly what he came to do with his new recording project, Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms. After participating in many different bands so far, such as Thunderbirds Are Now!, Destroy This Place, and Friendly Foes, Ryan decided to step away from his collaborative arts and do something altogether individual. In creating the solo albums for Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms, Allen was able to use all of his experience in bands to his advantage, because, as he says, “the longer you spend doing it, the more honed in you can become on how you want the sound to get across.” But he wanted to produce something completely different from anything that his bands would put out. He describes his band Destroy This Place as loud and somewhat aggressive, and says that with his solo music he wanted to “dial that back.”   That sound ended up being what he calls “smart, personal, and emotional lyrics [coupled] with melodic pop music.” Don’t let the term ‘pop’ turn you away from the album, though, because he uses it in more of an old-fashioned, British invasion, sort of way. This sound comes naturally to him, and his listeners will not be disappointed by its execution.

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I listened to “Heart String Soul” for the first time on one of those snowpocalypse mornings in which one is able to relax for lack of obligations, but pretty quickly feels the sting of cabin fever. This album is much like that feeling, because while it is extremely catchy (I mean take-up-arms-against-this-melody catchy), it also exudes such strong emotions that it is somewhat cabin-fever-like in its desperation to be heard. Allen explains this idea, saying that he wanted to go for something that is “power pop like Fountains of Wayne,” but veers away from that music in that it is not “very surface level.” He wanted to create songs that would “combine something that’s very unique to listen to with lyrics that are maybe not shiny happy people songs, but songs about being jealous of your friends who are more successful than you and stuff like that.”

I dug this album because it reminded me of the soundtrack to one of those 90’s films with very little plot, met with actual real life adult issues. It struck me as sort of Motion City Soundtrack meets early New Pornographers meets The Who. Is that a thing? If it is a thing, it’s this thing for sure. And for all of you who were saying to yourself, “Hey, this sounds a little like Big Star to me,” not to worry! Because Allen himself declares that they were one of the biggest influences on the album. He also adds in a little Teenage Fanclub and Tom Petty to the mix of inspirations for good measure. So I suppose, not for lacking of trying to narrow it down, we will have to call it a hybrid of all six, but not in a too-many-cooks sort of way. Phew. I’m exhausted.

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And where did such goodness come from? Ah, well, in this case, “Heart String Soul” was inspired by the past few years of Ryan Allen’s life, including stories about his wife and his three-and-a-half-year-old son, Emitt. He loved playing in bands for years, but was inspired to go solo on this project because of these stories and their extremely personal nature. He explains that this does not mean that he felt himself unable to write passionate songs in a band setting. In fact, he says, “I don’t think I could make music and call it solo music without the experiences that I’ve had playing in bands.” He just means that when he writes songs he is able to see whether they would best be created with others or alone. Furthermore, because Allen has actual adult stuff on his plate, he doesn’t want to just “go to band practice and sit there and bullshit and get nothing done.” He says, “If you’re twenty-three that’s awesome because it’s not a waste of time,” but if you are thirty-five, “you better do something productive.” This combination of planning and focus behind “Heart String Soul” place each track on the pedestal of being carefully considered and deliberately crafted for this specific purpose over many years. These qualities are not as common as one would hope in the music industry.

The honesty of the album doesn’t necessarily separate it from albums being released by other Detroit artists today. But the stories themselves do. Years ago, Allen would have told his simple tales over loud speakers, wanting only for flannel-clad hipsters to bounce around on creaky wooden floors in response. But Allen has realized that his stories have expanded a great deal over the past few years. And when his three-and-a-half-year-old son looked up at him upon seeing the album cover appear on the computer screen and said, “Dad that’s your CD! We should listen to that!” he realized his target audience had expanded quite a bit as well.

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Ryan Allen will perform songs from his album live at the album’s release show, which will take place on March 28, 2015 at the Berkley Front. He will play with Sean Sommer on drums and Michael Majewski on bass, and the band will follow two others, Love Axe and Javelins.

 


Vonneguts, Vonneglory

“Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something,” screams Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. to a world where desolation and pain rule over artistic endeavors. So too scream his namesakes as they sit quietly in a room, surrounded by empty packs of Camels, flower wall paper, and a looming Detroit winter. The Vonneguts have just released their first full-length album, which reveals itself to be just what Kurt Vonnegut demands: a collection of songs, dances, stories, and poems (though certainly not lousy ones). And as it was self-produced and written over the span of a year by only the band’s four dedicated members, Miles Hubbell, Mike O’Brien, Joe Myers, and Phill Dage, it is truly something which they have created for creation’s sake.

The recently completed, “Urban Paradise” was the result of both shared time and shared ideas. “We had released singles and EPs before that, and put up songs online,” says guitarist, Phill Dage. “But it’s different to release them in a physical copy.” I had the pleasure of sitting down and listening to that physical copy with three of the band’s members, Miles, Joe, and Phill, along with Miles’ girlfriend Kate. Mike (who is presently living in California) was sorely missed, of course.

 

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Phill reveals that one of the main reasons this album worked out for the band as well as it did lies in the fact that they “were all living together and devoting [their] money to it, so it was a communal effort.” The guys explain that being physically together during the album’s creation helped the music to flow more easily because they were not constrained by the need to plan specific times to work on it. “It doesn’t always work out so easily that bands can just move into a house together and play like that,” says guitarist Joe Myers. “It was pretty cool to come home when we were all done with our days and just make music together.” Phill agrees, saying, “the moment of spontaneity was much more available.” The blessings of living under the same roof seem to have shaped much of the album’s collaborative qualities.

But what about the general idea behind it? Though it would seem like four guys with this much individual intellect couldn’t possibly agree on an idea behind an entire album, they surprised listeners by doing just that.

It all began one day in December of 2013, when the band got together and created something of a storyboard for the album. Their plan organized every aspect of the album, down to instrumentation and key themes on which the songs would focus. “We got our heads together on an idea,” Phill explains. “It was the story of this wandering urban traveler who has these highs and lows.” He reveals that the album dives into many different aspects of the traveler’s life, detailing “different events, like love and hardship.” The band members then showed this blueprint to their producer, Steve Sholtes. They were incredibly grateful to him for being “welcoming to their ideas,” as Phill describes, because “they felt like they could try something new or kind of crazy.” The band had a framework, a place to focus on that framework, and the freedom to expand upon its foundation. They were ready to make their masterpiece.

Because of the collective space and the shared idea behind the project, the album has become “more of a conceptual album,” says Miles, the deep, golden voice behind The Vonneguts. He points out that the second track of the album is essentially three separate songs with soundscapes in between that serve as connective tissue. The song that follows, “Travelogue,” though completely different musically, is similarly a collection of different concepts. The song is a poem read by Phill on top of one of the band’s innumerable jam sessions. It is unique because the music was recorded long before Phill added the poem to it and each member played a role in the lyrics. “I remember one day I decided I wanted to encapsulate what this record is in words on a page and just try to do something I could speak to. The day before we went down to the studio I was asking Miles and Joe what words they would want to have spoken and I was just kind of able to incorporate them into it. I did it a couple of times in the studio to try and get the phrasing right on the music, but I didn’t revise it at all. That song serves the purpose of adding depth to the story.” Joe also notes that “Travelogue” is the song which “kind of brings it all together.”

The nine minute opus and the spoken word poem that follows it both unfold much of the urban traveler’s story in small clips of what the album strives for throughout: connectivity. Each track on the album is meant to lead into the next as the traveler’s story becomes more complex. Joe tells that the band even decided to put the lyrics on their bandcamp page in an effort to help listeners more closely follow this story.

Beyond just creating the theme of the album together, the band also formed its parts as a team. As Joe explains, “

My favorite part about the album, I think, was that it was always changing as to who was playing what instrument.”

When they created each song individually, each member had a mastery of his own instrument, and was also able to take on other roles in order to add something new to the sound. The drummer also reveals that “there were some songs in which Phill would write all of the lyrics and he wouldn’t sing any of the song, or I would write the lyrics, or someone else would. It was very interchangeable. I thought in that way it was much more of a team effort.” This malleable quality of the album’s creation is very present in its substance because the sound is very apparently unconfined by tempos or keys. It also speaks to the album’s subject, as the urban traveler, while devoted to his home, refuses to be limited by it.

While the idea for the album was created from each of the band member’s individual and collective efforts, it is certainly not without musical influences. They name Stevie Wonder’s “Innervisions” and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” as the top two. While the influence of these records may not be obvious at first, “Urban Paradise” does carry a more antique sound overall. “I personally don’t listen to much modern music at all,” says Miles. Not only does this show in his deep, almost Jim-Morrison-esque vocals that weave between retro guitar riffs, but the lyrics also reveal something more simple from the past. “I’m more inclined to be singing words that are kind of traditional as opposed to the modernization of lyrics,” he declares. But it must be noted that, while the lyrics may be somewhat old-fashioned, they are anything but predictable. Their subjects are intended to live outside of time and thus be meaningful for all listeners, not just other millennials.

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But surely, though “Urban Paradise” is not meant to live in a specific time period, it must be what most would call a “Detroit album,” yes? “Ultimately, I think there is definitely Detroit pride in the album,” says Phill. “It was conceived here, but nothing about it is specifically Detroit.” The guys describe that their idea of the Urban traveler is meant to transcend space and time, offering a universal idea of what it’s like to live in any city.

The sound of “Urban Paradise” is distinctly different from the Vonneguts’ previous albums. Miles Hubbell declares the main reason behind this to be that “the harmonies are much more thought-out in this album.” Phill adds that, overall, it seems like the band put more of their collective musical knowledge into this album than they had previously. “We know what’s going on going into the songs. I mean, Joe wrote scores for the string parts,” Phill continues. He says that the album just reveals “more musical knowledge and a more technical understanding of what we’re actually doing.” The band also mixed the album themselves, with some assistance from their beloved producer, Steve Sholtes. Steve allowed the band to be free to make any changes they wanted to, which was something they really enjoyed. Of course, this task put the band’s ability to analyze the minute details of its own songs to the test. “It was tough listening to a song one hundred times,” Joe explains, “but on the hundred-and-first time it was like, ‘that’s the one!’” The sound is altogether new for the band, and they are pleased to present it as such.

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Of course, “People with new ideas, people with the faintest capacity for saying something new, are extremely few in number, extraordinarily so, in fact,” says Rodion Raskolnikov, of Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment,” (who happens to be the fictional character with whom Miles Hubbell most closely associates himself). I think he would agree that each member of the Vonneguts have proven themselves some of those lucky few. Phill’s fictional likeness, Siddhartha of Herman Hesse’s “Siddhartha,” grounds himself in his own freedom of mind, a role which Phill certainly played in the band during the creation of the album and continues to play as the band moves forward. When asked which fictional character Joe most closely associates himself, he chose someone quite different: Dumbo, the little elephant who could fly. “Do you know why?” he asks me.

Because everybody doubted that guy, man. Every doubted him and he came back and he flew!

If you ask me, every band would be so lucky to have this cast of characters in its ranks. This combination of personalities is what makes “Urban Paradise” something worth lending both ears to as soon as possible.

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Now that the band has released its pride and joy for the world to hear, they plan to enjoy their achievement to its full extent. They obviously feel their songs need to be heard, but not just on dusty record players. Indeed, they have already begun performing some of these songs, playing Dally in the Alley on September 6th. They also plan to play at a show on October 19th at the New Dodge, one on the 22nd at PJ’s Lager House, and one on the 28th at the Magic Stick. In an effort to preserve the Vonneguts’ unity while Mike is away in California, the guys have decided to take on a new name for some of their shows, calling themselves the Motor City Golden Boys. They miss Mike dearly and await his impending return with bated breath. In the meantime, the band is also running its own DIY venue, called Elijah’s. Right now that venue lives on East Grand Boulevard, where it hosts many well-known local bands. The Vonneguts are incredibly dedicated to maintaining this Detroit venue, and Joe even notes that they are hoping to one day purchase a more permanent location for shows. Clearly the guys are not only dedicated to being able to perform their music in their home, but also giving other up-and-coming bands the opportunity to be heard. After all, even after having travelled and performed in places like Boston, New York City, and Chicago, the band still loves the Detroit music scene most of all. “I just like playing in the Motor City, man,” says Miles. And we couldn’t be happier to have you, Vonneguts.


The HandGrenades Release New Video for “Wrapped in Plastic”

Detroit favorite, The HandGrenades, just released the best (more like whatever the superlative of bomb-ass is) video I’ve seen come out of Detroit in a long time.   This eye/ear-gasm for their track, “Wrapped in Plastic” off of their awaited EP, 52, was directed by their very own, Jesse Shepherd-Bates.  The crew lets us sit-in on a rustic black-and-white concert, which quickly becomes as personal as a basement jam session with close friends.  Each character in the story transforms from blurry to sharp as we get to know them.  Meanwhile, the video gradually becomes more chaotic with its soundtrack, as images layer on top of one another and the band members’ faces grow jumbled.  So, in the glorious end, we are left with the real madness of things once, but no longer, wrapped in plastic.

 

Check out their video below and get stoked for their new EP, which comes out May 13.


Keri Lynn Roche: American Idol’s Sweetest Detroiter

Ever since Kelly Clarkson was named the very first winner of the television contest on September 4, 2002, American Idol has brought millions of skilled vocalists out of their showers and onto the big screen.  And, as Americans, it has since become our job to use all of the basic knowledge of vocalism we’ve gained from artists like Jessica Simpson and N*SYNC to decide the fate of these up-and-coming singers.  And, as humans, we will continue to get excited about these new potential stars as long as they continue putting the fate of their careers in the thumbs of our texting hands.

That being said, my thumbs are already sold on one of the phenomenal singers this year who received a golden ticket at the Detroit auditions on January 15th.  Her name is Keri Lynn Roche, and her achievements as a local artist so far have already encouraged Detroiters to tune into this season of the show unceasingly.

The very first to audition in Detroit for this season of American Idol, Roche proceeded to 1. admit she was nervous (displaying her knack for honesty on all occasions), 2. offered her adorable laugh at least thrice, and 3. tell J-Lo she was “so pretty”.  So, the audience immediately fell in love with her in this little-orphan-Annie way, which is great because that’s legitimately exactly how she is in real life.  But then, just to force everyones’ hands, she also sang outrageously well and had all three judges saying “absolutely yes” within seconds.  She chose to combine her interest in current musical trends (though a lot of current music is what she describes as “not something I would spend 99 cents on”) with her devotion to tradition and vocal power, by singing Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” and Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind.”  Her song choices revealed something imperative to her nature: she is not entirely ready to forget the past, but she is always prepared for the unpredictable future.  The judges promptly complimented her on this decision, and then continued to praise her unique style, her confidence, and her artistry.  Keri Lynn Roche was officially in the game.

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But for Roche, the game had begun long ago.  “I tried last year for American Idol on Season Twelve, and I was turned down,” Roche tells.  “But,” she continues, “I knew that I sang my ass off and I knew that I gave what I could.”  Instead of feeling discouraged by the negative feedback she received, Roche says, “I took the challenge and I went back.”  She explains that this persistence for taking the challenge is what makes her different from the other singers in the running right now.  “I just don’t want to settle.  My motivation is not ‘I want to be a millionaire.’  I want to inspire people and I want to feel good by making music.  And if I can do that on a larger scale, then why not?  Why stay in a dive bar when there are many other people who might want to hear what I have to say?”

 

So, while Roche has been served “no’s” on several occasions, she hardly even seems to notice them.  And this attitude started at a very young age.  Roche often attended performances of her older brother’s band, a group which always inspired her own musical fortitude.  Furthermore, she explains, “I went to Liz Phair, Jewel, and James Taylor really young and I would just start crying at the shows.   It wasn’t because I was upset, but because I wanted to be where they were.”  She was encouraged to explore her own musical side after asking “how in the hell can I possibly get up on that stage and do what that person is doing right now?”  “I was just so determined by it,” Roche says.  Others showed her what was possible at a very young age, and she was not going to give up on that possibility for herself.

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Growing up in Detroit has made an even greater musical impact on her.  “Ever since I started singing, I always loved older singers. One of the first CDs my mom got me was a Motown CD, so from a young age it was always powerhouse singing.”  As she grew up, she began to fall in love with the women of the era, including Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.  “I was a pop princess.”  But, with both passions in mind, Detroit made a great home for her.  “This area is music city: so many people that are interested in hearing new music and that has been a really vital part of being an artist in this city.”  And as soon as she got her own guitar, she was thankful for that open-mindedness.  “A lot of people want to hear local talent and know what’s happening here.  It’s a great place to develop a fanbase.”

Playing her first show at the Blind Pig (a Johnny Cash tribute) when she was a mere sixteen, Roche was just beginning to gain a following..  She would later play at places like AJ’s Cafe (at that time, Xhedos), The Black Lotus, the Magic Stick, and the Crofoot.  People almost immediately fell in love with her sound.  “I started very folk-rock-acoustic,” she explains.  But, she admits, “the sound has changed as I’ve grown.”  Over the past few years, the singer and musician has switched from guitar to piano, which has been what she calls “a drastic change as far as intimacy goes,” and she has begun experimenting with electronic music by working with different musicians.  But what else happened between the café shows and the big screen?

“A lot of change in my personal life,” the singer explains.  “What has mostly inspired me is life struggle and the change that’s come in music has been made by that.”  Though she by no means wants it to be a focal point for her fans, Roche wants to be honest with the world about her struggles, especially since she feels that if she hadn’t overcome them, she definitely wouldn’t be where she is now.  “Being sober and writing has been a huge transformation for me,” she declares.  “In regards to alcohol and drugs, they went hand-in-hand with music for me for a long time.  It completely changed my entire perspective and artistry and I was super bummed thinking I didn’t make it anywhere.  I had been in a bad place.  I had no idea I was slowly drinking poison; it was really holding me back but I didn’t even know that.  As opposed to the young destructive [person I was], I’m now cultivating a completely different side of myself.”  Roche reveals that there is “a lot of heartache and things that happen along the way, and you don’t understand why its happening at the time.  But then you have a beautiful song and you say ‘oh, that makes sense!’”  Indeed, she explains that all of the hardships she has experienced over her eight years of performing have made her who she is.  “I started to really transform over the last couple of years,” she says.  “Music was the only thing I had left to hold onto.  There’s no reason why I shouldn’t talk about my struggle because without the music I never would have come out of that.”

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So, Roche’s attitude as a musician was built upon a combination of the good and the bad, with a firm trust in her own capabilities all the while.  Her music was her foundation and everything else followed.  But the singer and songwriter will admit that there is an enormous difference between devotion to music and devotion to the music industry.  “There are definitely parts of me that have felt tainted by the business: not about creating but about the motive behind it.  There are a lot of days where you think ‘I don’t think I can survive in this industry.’”  And since she is in the very heart of the industry right now, she is experiencing a great deal of apprehension.  “I definitely felt nervous, but I tried to be as authentic as I could possibly be and try to disregard cameras.  I tried to be myself and its very intimidating when you’re sitting with three of the biggest names in the industry and wondering if they’re going to validate you.”

The nerves were definitely a struggle, but America hardly noticed them.  Her strength on the screen was enormous and continues to be because she doesn’t allow the thoughts of others to cloud her own.  It’s what Harry Connick Jr. would later describe to his wife at dinner as “that grit.”  And boy, did he and the other judges “dig that.”  Roche knows she has the confidence to make it as a singer/songwriter today, but she also knows she has something else far more important and far less common: “remaining humble and grateful.  That’s the key to who I am.  That has helped me survive in this industry.”

Now, as one of the singers on her way to Hollywood, Roche is loving every second of it.  “I have been enjoying the experience.  I see that everyone involved has something spectacular and really incredible.”  Beyond just living it up, Roche is fulfilling her goal of creating a bigger audience in which to share her message, and she says she is very honored to be able to do so.  “You don’t really realize how a three minute clip of you on TV can affect someone’s life.”  And being on the big screen, while trying in many ways, has encouraged her in her musical life at home as well.  “TV is like an anabolic steroid for a local musician,” she explains.  “Last year I didn’t really get any airtime and it still had a huge effect for me as far as exposure goes. People are coming to me more than I am usually going to them,” she says.  And rightly so.

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Roche is thus moving up in every way possible at once, and Detroiters are undyingly supportive of her.  I encourage everyone to tune into American Idol this season, because this girl deserves your attention.  Watch this Wednesday and Thursday at 8pm to see her perform on Hollywood Week.  she will also be playing a show at the Ark in Ann Arbor this Wednesday, which promises greatness.  Finally, check her out on 1071’s Acoustic Brunch on February 9th.  Oh, and like her on Facebook and go buy her incredible new single, called “Scar on My Heart” ASAP because it’s beauty incarnate.  Guys, I love this girl.  I can’t wait for the days when I drive downtown Detroit and see her face more often than Joumana Kayrouz’s.


A Fireside Chat with “The Jet Rodriguez” frontman, Cameron Navetta

Thursday, October 10th, 2013.  Raining innumerable domestic animals.  Inside the New Way Bar, loners, lovers, childhood friends, and withered businessmen merge with a love of two sacred things in common: music and baseball.  The Jet Rodriguez gets the crowd on their feet just in time for the Detroit Tigers to trample the Oakland Athletics with theirs.

Cut to today, when I, after months of virtual stalking, am permitted by the fairies of music journalism to converse with the man who essentially made this all possible.


  • BB: “Ok, first of all, where in the world did the name Jet Rodriguez come from? Is there a story there? If so, how many jigs would I have to perform in exchange for it?”
  • CN: “Well, protocol is that the one who’s asking us about our name must perform up to three jigs before we enlighten them.  But for you, I’ll do it for one really solid jig (I’ll take you up on that later).  Jet Rodriguez is a reference to the classic 90’s childrens’ movie “The Sandlot,” in which the hero is named Benny “the Jet” Rodriguez.  Which I think is actually yet another reference to the Elton John song, “Benny and the Jets.”  So it’s a reference within a reference.  Which basically just amounts to double the royalties.  Not really worth it, actually.”
  • BB: “That’s SO META. Well, with a name like that, your band will definitely be a hit FOR-EV-ER. (I make stupid jokes when I’m nervous around famous people).  So, uh… How long have you guys been a band?”
  • CN: “This is a hard question for me, incidentally.  It seems as though we’ve been a band of four co-expressive men for approximately two years.  However, Jet Rodriguez has been a thing for about five or six years now, as it merely started out as my solo endeavor.  Naturally, Danny Bowron (the drummer) was the first additional member, whose original role was to help me play the solo material.  Then we added a guitar player (Mike ‘”Effing” Daniele) under the same pretense.  Then we added a bass player (The Lance Corporal of Darkness, Steve Krycia) still under that same pretense.  Finally, my plans to have the guys help me with the solo material all went to hell, because that was a stupid idea anyway, and we became a band, in the real sense of the word.  We all contribute to the overall puzzle that is Jet Rodriguez.  And I’m confident that that’s the way it should be.  We don’t actually call Mike, “Mike ‘Effing’ Daniele.”  I just thought that was funny.”
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  • BB:  “So, Are you guys from Detroit, originally?”
  • CN: “I’ll let you in on our little secret.  We just like to walk around pretending like we’re a true Detroit band.  It feels cool to do that.  But alas, we are not truly “from Detroit,” as far as Southeast Michigan is concerned.  We all went to a high school about 30 minutes northeast of Detroit in a magical place called Anchor Bay.  Only one of us has ever lived within city limits.  Not to blow the lid on national rock and roll icons, Against the Grain, but they were bred from Anchor Bay as well.  We grew up with all of them and,  in fact, are good friends with them.  But from a regional perspective, we are from Detroit, because that’s easy.  However, I will say that the vast majority of our shows are in Detroit and the outlying close suburbs like Ferndale.”
  • BB: “What’s Anchor Bay like?”
  • CN: “It depends on who you ask.  Some people totally hated it.  Me, I’m grateful for being raised in Anchor Bay.  I consider it a sort of microcosm of suburban America.  It’s really diverse for one thing.  Part hick, part ghetto, part upper-middle class, part dirt poor.  It also supplied a sufficient amount of suburban angst to the artistic kind.  It’s right on the water, which was nice growing up.  It’s a neat place.  Don’t ever go out of your way to visit, though.”
  • BB: “But you met your band mates there, though. So that must have made it worth it?”
  • CN: “It did make it worth it.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
  • BB: “Well, I’m sure I speak for many locals when I say this, but Detroit is definitely lucky to have you here now.  What has it been like performing in Detroit since you started?”
  • CN: “The music community has really welcomed us with open arms.  I haven’t yet figured out if that’s just because they don’t realize we’re imports, or if they’re just a generally welcoming community.  I hope it’s the latter, but it’s probably a bit of both.  We’ve considered attempting to crash the circuit of other local scenes, but art as a concept in Detroit is just so great, and I’ve always admired the local music associated with Detroit.  It’s where the artists go, plain and simple.  It’s just an attractive place to express oneself.  Playing in Detroit is beautiful.  It’s insane to play on a stage like the Magic Stick and think about all the Detroit acts that have stepped foot and sweat and bled on that stage.  And it’s exciting to see new and innovative things pop up too, like the Loving Touch.  So whether you’re considering what has come before you, or what is to come, Detroit is an incredible place to simply be, let alone have an opportunity to play music.  Honestly, we do view Detroit as a home for us.”
  • BB: “What genre would you say you fall into?  And what are the advantages or disadvantages of playing this genre in Detroit right now?”
  • CN: “I would say that we at least fall under the general umbrella of rock.  And the true advantage/disadvantage of being a rock band in Detroit is simply that Detroit is rock.  I tend to look at it like this: you can either rise above in this town (but only the crème de la crème does that), OR you can fall through the cracks and be completely overlooked (because a lot of other folks are seemingly doing what you’re doing). My hope is that Jet Rodriguez would one day have the honor of being in the former group.  The neat thing about rock, especially in this city, is that it really doesn’t have so much to do with the style of music as it has to do with the attitude of it.  I think there would be some (clearly uneducated) people out there that would listen to George Morris and not really understand it as rock music.  To us Detroit people, we get it.  It’s rock.  But some dumb folks might not be as quick to call it that.  My point is, George and his Gypsy chorus play the most rocking music I’ve ever heard.  I mean, he is straight up Detroit rock n’ frigging roll.  To me, he’s the difference between someone who plays rock, and someone who is rock.  You know?  Anyway… That’s not to suggest that I think there’s any shame in trying to classify and pinpoint artists into specific genres.  That totally has it’s place.  Like right now, I think Jet Rodriguez is maybe a throwback, stylistically. We might have a Woodstock-ish aura, expressed through a 21st century lens though, of course.  We’re a lot of 60’s-70’s rock, with a dash folk mixed in, perhaps.  I made up a genre to help put it into words: “psychedelicate,” is what I call it, which is something I think effectively captures what we’re projecting.”
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  • BB: “I could definitely see the psychedelicate aspects during your performance at the New Way.  I also loved the way you and your drummer interpreted some of the covers you played that night.  A lot of times I despise covers of songs I really like, but you guys did an amazing job with those songs.  I was floored when you played ‘Moondance.'”
  • CN: “I’m totally ecstatic that you dug our covers that much.  In truth, we as “Jet Rodriguez,” do not play covers at all.  The only exception being one time last year, when we did Marvin Gaye for Det x Det.  The whole covering songs business is really a side thing that Danny and I do under the name Damn Uncanny.  Get it? Like Cam and Danny? Damn Uncanny?  Well, we’re trying to take it seriously and play out more as a completely separate, more cover-ey duo-ey entity.  It’s kind of entertaining for me.  I suspect that it’s ultimately an extension of my deeply engrained need to always try to be the center of attention.  On stage.  Performing.  Lights.  That kind of thing.  It’s all about me.  I’m “that guy,” I guess.  No, but for real, Danny and I love to sing together.  We’ve been doing that since we were 12.  And we figured, if it helps pay the bills, then why not, you know?  Why not explore that avenue?  It’s fun, and people seem to like it.  It’s taken me a long time to get to that point, creatively, but I’m here now, with the encouragement of Danny.  The idea of doing covers used to piss me off.  In the name of Art and Expression, I felt icky about doing something other than my own stuff.  But I tried real hard and now I’m a lot more comfortable with the idea.  Playing covers wouldn’t ever do anything but help promote my true art in the end, I’m inclined to believe.”
  • BB: “And how do you choose which songs to cover?”
  • CN: “It’s a very crowd conscious thing.  We do a lot of pop songs, 80’s, 90’s, whatever.  Some well known classic tunes as well.  Anything we think a general audience of all ages could potentially appreciate.  Granted, we have to like the song as a prerequisite.  We try not do stuff we don’t like.  Sometimes a stupid song works it’s way into the set list, but in general, we try to exclude that.  We also pepper in the stuff that might not be as well known, but that we really enjoy, like Fleet Foxes or Sufjan Stevens.  We try to limit the more obscure stuff.  Just enough to make it pleasant for us.”
  • BB: “Well, it was definitely pleasant for the crowd as well.  Ok, Cameron. Let’s get down to the real stuff here, shall we?”
  • CN: “Totally.”
  • BB: “Are you left or right handed?”
  • CN: “Lefties rule. Righties drool.”
  • BB: “Ok, ok. I’ll withhold judgement on that one.  Now, describe to me the happiest time of your life. Please.”
  • CN: “I would be doing an injustice to the present if I did not say that right now is totally the happiest time of my life.  It truly is.  I’m playing my music.  I’m in love with a beautiful woman who is also my best friend.  I have a supportive family, both biological and musical.  And I live in (the suburbs of) America’s #1 rising city.  Right now is when it is.”
  • BB: “That all sounds so fantastic.  And any goals for the upcoming months?”
  • CN: “We do have some awesome goals!  We’re going to be continuing to record our first full length record together.  There isn’t yet a release date on that, but it won’t be too long.  Really, we’re just laying low and tightening up.  Making sure we sound the best we can.”
  • BB: “Wonderful!  And just a few more things, here, then.  What are the top 5 items on your Christmas List this year?”
  • CN: “5. Snuggie, 4. Recording equipment, 3. HD camcorder, 2. Snuggie, 1. A new guitar/amp rig!? (Plzzz Santa??)”
  • BB: “And what about if you got the chance to meet 5 musicians this year for Christmas?”
  • CN: “Oh, good one! Let me think… Ok, 1. Sufjan Stevens (easy answer for me), 2. Neil Young, 3. Van Morrison, 4. Robin Pecknold,  5. George Harrison.  Well, in retrospect I think I would have switched Van Morrison and George Harrison.”

Well, there you have it, guys.  Not only is Cameron Navetta a brilliant composer, singer, and musician, but he also has great taste in Beatles.  Listen to the band now at thejetrodriguezmusic.com, and look for their record, “Day of the Dead” on vinyl, CD, or available for download on their website in the upcoming months!

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Education Sounds Like This

I sit here in this brightly-colored classroom, as my teacher pulls up a file on his computer screen and suddenly he asks, “Do you see that big phallic thing at 200?”  My eyes focus on the projected image before me. “Yeah, we gotta get everything out of its way.”

That’s when I realized this was no ordinary classroom.  This was what the guys at FyouNK Collective in Royal Oak call a “Meat & Produce” session: an event in which musically-minded people come together to discuss the production process.  As the Facebook page says, “Producers of any genre are welcome – electronic, hip hop, pop, rock, etc., as long as you are open-minded.  Musicians, singers, and rappers who are looking to collaborate are also very welcome to join in on the fun.”  Essentially, as the men in charge state, “Anyone with a dedicated interest in music production is welcome to join.”  Such a vast invitation can properly explain the fact that when I walked through the doors at FyouNK Collective, the place was pretty nearly packed.  And rightly so.

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The professors on the eve of the twenty-first day of October were some of my favorite musicians in Detroit, so I simply could not miss my chance to explore this learning opportunity for myself.  This faculty included Detroit’s very own guitar-driven-bass master, OCTiV, the Detroit-raised beat manipulator, Freddy Todd, and the electronic mastermind/party-starter, ill.so.naj.  I was a little late for class and I dropped my pencil twice, but my teachers made me feel right at home and worthy of their profound lessons.

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First, OCTiV came up to the desk at the front of the classroom and told us all about the importance of equalization, or balancing sounds in music.  He summarized much of this tweaking mechanism, saying that what was most important was “getting unnecessary things out of the way of stuff you want.”

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He then explained that, though some sounds need to be made less powerful for the sake of more important ones, all is not lost in doing so.  In fact, often times those sounds that are diminished for the sake of others can still be felt in the song and have an enormous presence in the overall vibe of the piece. Thus, OCTiV showed the importance of knowing the difference between hearing sounds and feeling them.  As OCTiV revealed, however, extra sounds can sometimes be distracting.  “You need to make sure people can pay attention,” he declared, reminding composers to make cuts whenever necessary for the listener’s benefit.  Of course, it is okay to be sad about these cuts for a bit.  I mean, we are all still mourning for those sounds which were demolished by the aforementioned “phallic thing.”

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After OCTiV offered a new perspective on making positive changes to songs, Freddy Todd took the reigns.  The musician began by highlighting his philosophical approach to music, a quality which separates him from many of his composing counterparts.  Todd told his students that when you are creating music, “step one is your brain.”

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For Todd, focusing on one’s mindset is an essential part of what he called, “starting right and starting proper,” and it is a step in the music production process which simply cannot be skipped.  Todd then detailed what that meant for his own music, telling us that he needs to be inspired and in a clean room when he begins to create his sounds.  He encouraged students to develop their own rules for getting in the correct music-making mindset.

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Todd admitted that producing quality music, however, ultimately requires more than just a positive mental state.  “You can get inspired and write a whole track on your headphones, but typically if you want to put out an album you need a good pair of studio monitors.”  Thus, while the mind is the strongest tool at a musician’s disposal, it is also critical that he or she has the necessary tools available to them and knows how to use them properly.

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After explaining the process for beginning a song, Todd left the floor open for ill.so.naj to give some technical advice for the later parts of production.  The electronic artist focused his lesson on the idea of personalizing the musical experience.  He did this by showing students how to use programs, such as Ableton Live, to make improvised edits to tracks.  He encouraged everyone to take their iPods, iPads, or other beloved gadgets and “then assign them customized ‘MIDI mappings’ and touch screen layouts, creating unique ways to trigger effects or blend sounds.”

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This process allows performers to create their own unique set-ups, which cater to their individual needs and styles.  Ill.so.naj told us that, with these tools, he was even able to use a Guitar Hero controller to perform his songs on stage at one point.  The musician proceeded to play many of his own clips for the students to give them an idea of where improvisational tools might be applied.  Though he emphasized using the computer programs to be prepared for any show, he declared that:

Most importantly you gotta leave room for those happy accidents to happen. That’s where the magic is.

Here, the artist’s technical approach highlights both the immense dedication required to produce such music, and the importance of allowing for freedom in its performance.  Ill.so.naj showed us that even this freedom, however, requires much focus and effort beforehand.

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The three musician/producers took their students behind the scenes into many aspects of their artistic processes, and it was truly an educational experience for all involved.  The teachers were able to reach both the dedicated producers in the crowd as well as the beginners who had just fiddled with their friends’ computers during study hour.  In fact, each speaker made the intricacies of his musical processes seem approachable and comprehensible, even for any woefully ignorant music journalists in the building.

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All of that, of course, is to say that the environment at this Meat & Produce event was ideal for many different people with vast ranges of experience and interests.  Obviously October’s teachers brought a great deal of information to the table, and for that we were sincerely grateful.  But I know for sure that all other producers who take the time to share their wisdom in the future will do so just as admirably.  For my part, I know that I will be back at the FyouNK Collective often for more music education, and I am certain that the seats will fill just as quickly with musicians who are eager to learn.

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George Morris & The Gypsy Chorus

One minute and forty-eight seconds into a video for George Morris’ song, “Fuck It,” directed by Jesse Shepherd-Bates, the singer can be spotted standing in front of a wall, staring intently at the camera, and holding a baby in his arms.  I have seen this video probably 6,000 times and I have always been overwhelmed with confusion about this paternal scene.  That is, until I saw Morris perform at The Magic Stick on Saturday, September 28, 2013.

George Morris & The Gypsy Chorus drape themselves across the stage and let their sound follow suit by unraveling its delicate fabric upon our ears.  I hear everything at once and am at a loss for words.  The band performs such stellar songs as “Nine Lives” and “Girls on Parade” with such vocal crispness and rhythmic perfection that they seem too good to be live.

Even for a band with a stated “leader,” as it were, this group contains members who could very easily be making their own agendas.  AJ Nelson, the bassist, carries the pulse on each track, adding passionate motion to stage right.  The keyboardist extraordinaire Helena Kirby pours her entire being into the keys before her with grace and diligence on stage left.  Behind them, Zach Pliska casually puts every drum to use with intense precision that is simultaneously impressive as all get-out and super annoying (because it’s as frustrating as someone beating you at a videogame while eating Cheetos and petting their dog at the same time).  I imagine each of these three could be performing alone on this stage right now and doing a bang-up job at entertaining the audience.  But instead, they choose to fulfill a greater musical role by supporting one another and the man behind the words.

choose to fulfill a greater musical role by supporting one another and the man behind the words.

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And there he is, of course, standing firmly at the front of it all.  Morris moves about in subtle surges, proving himself to be one of those singers whose voice comes from his toes and rises up out of his pores without asking.  But the surges are less forceful than they are gentle.  Morris’ voice is uniquely angelic and as serene as a lullaby, even at its most outraged.  All of that is to say, snaps for Jesse’s video production.  I would love to have George Morris hold my baby.*

Periodically on stage the bandmates will look at each other whimsically.  Kirby will flash her dazzling smile to Pliska and Nelson intermittently, and they will smile back.  Then, after “Girls on Parade” she will look to the crowd and yell, “We love love! Don’t you love love?”  Finally, a few songs later Morris will walk up to Nelson and hug him in front of us all without saying a word.  While at this point it appears as if the crew has spent their entire childhoods on the same couch watching “One Saturday Morning” before playing laser tag, it turns out that they didn’t all know each other that well before uniting musically.  Morris sits me down after the show (not really, but I like to think this is actually how the story went) and tells me that this band is only three or four months old (which is astounding to me), and that before that he had only worked with Nelson and Pliska on other musical endeavors.  Prior to creating the Gypsy Chorus, Morris was, in fact, going solo much of the time and exploring his own musical identity.

“I’ve been trying to write music since I was probably ten years old,” Morris explains.  The musician grew up in the Waterford and Commerce areas, where he explored music at a young age by trying to collaborate with cafeteria mates as early as his middle school years.  “My first real band was in high school,” Morris declares upon noting my obvious awe.  Morris is modest.

Though he says he hopes his music style has changed a great deal since the cafeteria days, there is one sentiment that will forever thrive in his music: “My philosophy has always been just to try and concentrate on writing good melodies.”  From the complex phrases of “Call Girl,” to the more calming predictability of “Old Friends,” Morris’ Magic Stick set shows this auditory foundation.  The artist makes these varying melodies the basis of his work, and, as he further states, “I’ve always tried to do that no matter what type of music I’m trying to make.”

geroge4Morris’ writing process thus begins with a prominent tonal expression.  But how does this melody come to life?  “It’s spontaneous,” Morris reveals.  I imagine the singer/songwriter kneeling on a knoll somewhere in England (in proper poetic fashion), feeling the wind upon his cheeks and the grass between his toes.  Suddenly, Mufasa appears (this is where it gets less clear, as I’m not sure why Mufasa would need to urgently speak with Morris) and says, “Look inside yourself, George,” and then suddenly Morris’ pen is on the staff paper and he can’t stop writing.  Within minutes, the page is filled with notes that traveled to his soul because they wanted to.  I could be wrong about this scene, but it does seem plausible.  “After that moment, though,” he continues, “then I sit down and just flesh it out.”

“My philosophy has always been just to try and concentrate on writing good melodies.”

But once one has found one’s melody, one must always consider one’s television.  What does television have to do with music, you ask?  Well, everything.  Duh.

“Honestly, I’ll write to TV shows, or, I don’t know… Romantic Comedies.  Like, the end of [them], you know, when either everything’s going horribly or everything’s coming back together.”  Yes, that’s correct, readers: George Morris is inspired by the movies you hope no one finds out you watched in your bed while eating Ben & Jerry’s by yourself.  Not only that, he pairs these with his essential ethereal tones to make you regret ever having been embarrassed by your TV-based feelings in the first place!

Morris then turns to me seconds later and says very frankly, “There’s a CSI song.”  And I suddenly get really nervous for the world because I realize that none of us are as awesome as this guy is.  “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here,” as Dante would say.

Before forming George Morris & The Gypsy Chorus, our fearless leader had actually been doing solo shows for a year or so with these same wonderful tracks.  When asked why he chose to integrate his phenomenal music makers, Morris smirks slightly and says, “Well, I got tired of playing by myself.”  He chuckles a bit, and adds, “And I wanted more energy.”  To me, the word ‘energy’ kind of encompasses the entire idea of Morris and his Gypsy Chorus because it very clearly reveals a mission for the band as a whole to be a living organism.  If the singer had said that he collaborated with these artists in an effort to add more volume, strength, or power to his music, the music itself would be less significant.  He would then be using this band to demand that his message be heard by his audience without any possibility of them misunderstanding.  But Morris’ message is one whose foundation is, and only needs to be, itself.  The band is there to make the message mean something to each listener individually.  “And,” he adds, “they do their own thing; they’re all putting their own twists on it.”  This energy toward the audience and between each other is what makes George Morris & The Gypsy Chorus the jubilant band family that I saw on stage earlier.

Nelson saunters up near the end of our conversation and chimes in to help Morris further explain to me the band’s sound.  “It’s tough because I feel like the definitions of genres are always changing,” he explains.  The friendly bassist goes on to illustrate how vastly different the word “indie” is now than it was when he first got into “indie” music.  Morris agrees and the two try to explain how much they don’t understand about music labels anymore and how they would almost always rather listen to The Walkmen than MGMT.  We talk for probably fifteen minutes about this until Nelson finally looks up at me and asks, “What was the question?”

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These guys know exactly what they’re talking about when it comes to the musical world, and for that, I believe they have the upper hand over their “indie” competition.  But they finally agree that their sound is based on a combination of very different musical acts: The Beatles, Radiohead/Thom Yorke, The Walkmen, Jack White, and The Velvet Underground.  “For me it was Beatles, Beatles, Beatles,” explains Morris.  “Then I got really discouraged because I couldn’t write a song as good as any of those songs.  Then I heard The Velvet Underground and that showed me a different way to make music.”  As for their other influences, Nelson declares, “Radiohead is almost like The Beatles, where you just can’t even attempt to do anything like that, and you’re always going to be let down.  But ‘The Eraser’ (Thom Yorke’s solo album) had obtainable melodies.”  Morris and Nelson quite obviously treasure the musicians who came before them immensely and eternally.

The singer takes a break from explaining how the past has affected his cherished Gypsy Chorus to give me some sneak peeks into their very bright future.   “We are putting an EP together that will come out at some point and in some form,” he explains.  “That will all be leading up to a record eventually.  I’m not sure how it’s going to come out or what, but sometime next year.”  Furthermore, the band is also playing one of their tunes at the TEDx Detroit event on Wednesday, October 2 (guys, that’s tomorrow!).  Finally, they plan to open for Jessica Hernandez at St. Andrew’s Hall on November 27, 2013, so you should probably go to this show if you have a brain.

Beyond just musically, the band has been progressing artistically in many ways, as well.  Morris has recently given good friend Jesse Shepherd-Bates the reigns to make another music video for the band’s awesome tune, “Girls on Parade.”  “Jesse just chose it,” he explains.  “He just showed up at my house one day and said he bought a camera and was shooting a video for the song.”  So, of course, Morris simply said, “okay,” and since then the singer explains, “it’s all Jesse.”

Morris did have his doubts about the videos at times, simply because he felt he wasn’t knowledgeable enough to assist with such tasks.  “But,” he continues, “I’m really impressed with how Jesse has just kind of jumped into it.  He learned on the fly and is turning out some really impressive stuff.  All of his videos look spectacular, and this is the first time he’s ever really done it.”  So, with a director like that, Morris feels confident that his creation will be preserved and admired.  Jesse’s video for the band’s catchiest track, “Fuck It,” is a superb example of the director’s mastery.  If I lived in the smart house of the Disney Channel Original Film “Smart House,” I would definitely opt to have this video play on my bedroom walls instead of that one B*Witched video.

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Going back and forth between solo work and close-knit bands with hit videos, Morris’ musical career has certainly been an exceptional, and consequently wild, ride.  He admits that much of the wonder he has experienced as a musician has to do with his place of residence.  While he feels that, at times, “Detroit can be a hard place to make any art,” as, “it’s very critical,” he explains that musicians just need to have a little more confidence here than they might in other places.  “I think the talent in Detroit is incredible.”  He declares, however, that, “because of that, it’s a hard place to play sometimes.  Because even if there are so many musicians around here, at a lot of the shows everybody is standing still.”  While the audience can sometimes seem uninterested, Morris explains, “You have to understand that that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and that they’re just listening to you.”

“It’s when they leave that it’s bad,” he laughs.

Detroit then proves itself not only a teacher of self-worth, but a place where that worth can easily flourish.  “Detroit is unlike the majority of cities,” Morris continues, “and I think everybody takes it for granted because they just assume that it’s like this everywhere.”  Morris explains that “In a lot of places, if you want to see a rock show, you go to one venue.  Then a metal venue, maybe.  And maybe a folk venue, or something.  That’s all you get to choose from.  Here there are tons of places that constantly host different kinds of bands.”  Being in a band whose genre he and Nelson will later agree to call “alternative indie pop rock (with a little electro),” Morris would feel slightly unappreciated in lands of black and white.  Having this realization, Morris talks about his city with an overarching sense of love and sanctity.  He is grateful for this often-dreary place because it has given him a chance to be himself and feel valued as such.

If you are not yet entirely amazed by George Morris & The Gypsy Chorus I must inform you of the two most important facts about them: 1. George Morris plays sports with adults at the YMCA as his day job, and 2. Bassist, AJ Nelson helps his dad make granite ping-pong tables that are worth a lot of money.  Enough said.

Listen to their music on bandcamp and don’t be afraid to give them ye olde thumbs-up on Facebook!

*If I had a baby, of course.  Which is not the case.


St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival Highlights

Candy-coated almonds are phenomenal.  So much so that one can forget that they actually contain any ounce of nutritional value in them for the entire duration of consumption.  Why am I bringing this up?  Well, certainly because Meadow Brook has some phenomenal concessions, and people should invest more in them.  But mostly because I am obsessed with candy-coated almonds.  When I was a kid, I would attend women’s basketball games at the Palace way too often just so I could convince my Mom to pick up some of those little droplets of heaven for me.  But I must confess something: at St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival on Saturday, September 14, 2013, I didn’t have a single nut.

Why is it that I never got my hands on the one thing that makes me truly happy?  Because everything else at Laneway was just too damn good.  The festival was distractingly good, actually.  My stomach awoke in almond-less loathing the next day, but it was worth it.

People keep asking me who my favorite bands at Laneway were, and I am mortified by the question much of the time.  Instead of approaching such a difficult inquiry, I will instead detail my Laneway highlights, musical and otherwise.

 

The HAERTS Persona

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Those of you who got the chance to see HAERTS open up Laneway Festival with unforgettable gusto know that they were one of the best bands on the list this year at Laneway.  They delivered several times over when it came to putting us in the Laneway mood at 12:40 pm on Roscoe Stage.  They definitely made my top 5 bands of the day, and that’s not just because I love chick singers.

A really important part of the HAERTS experience for me happened after the show, however.  About fifteen minutes after the crowd had migrated a little to the right (Derrick Stage) to see Youth Lagoon, the members of HAERTS appeared on the side of this stage behind the gate.  They walked with such purpose up to the gate, said NOTHING (no joke, nothing), and the gate guard just opened the door for them to proceed to strut right out into and through the Youth Lagoon crowd.

The few patches of people who happened to be so far to the right of the crowd that they were able to view such an occurrence became like kittens in the rain, on their toes and terrified as ever.  But get this, the band just walked on past them all like this was completely normal, and headed with so much style to what appeared to be the beer/food area.  The band was akin to Judd Nelson at the end of “The Breakfast Club,” striding across the football field with such clout.  I could hear “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” playing in the background, I’m not kidding.  Oh, and then HAERTS’ band members proceeded to go to the other bands’ shows and be super into them, which is something that I didn’t see many other band members doing much that day.  Holy cow, HAERTS is so cool.  I’ve already hung a photo of them on my dream board.

 

People Who Like ADULT.

adult

ADULT. represented their hometown wonderfully with their acclaimed freaky-electronic fervor.  They knocked socks off and turned them inside out repeatedly and without hesitation.  What stood out to me most about this show, however, was that the immense passion of Adam and Nicola spread like the plague onto their enchanted audience.  Instead of bouncing slightly from one leg to the next (with one pocketed hand at all times, in generic hipster fashion), as the crowd had in most other shows that day, the ADULT. fans refused to contain themselves.  People were flopping around rampantly from head to toe the entire time.  THE ENTIRE TIME.  Beers were spilling on wardrobes, shoulders were being bumped repeatedly by unknown neighbors, and beanies were falling to the ground to be immediately stomped on by combat boots.  And the characters doing the romping knew the words, they knew the beats, and they always wanted to yell about everything.  They woo-ed with greater forte every time Nicola so much as looked up at them (which seemed like it happened a lot, but it was hard to tell because she was wearing sunglasses).  The scene was an exposition of beauty I had never seen before.  So, as far as fans go, ADULT. fans won Laneway.  Well done, ADULT. fans.  Well done.

 

The Frightened Rabbit Accordion

frightened rabbit

The Frightened Rabbit performance was a phenomenal one by all measures: great tone, balanced set list, and ability to make you groove from yards and yards away.  They also had that whole “being Scottish” thing going for them, which only made the audience more fascinated by their every move.  Oh, and the frontman Scott Hutchinson swore a lot.  In a Scottish accent.  Ladies and gentlemen, it’s everything you’d ever hoped it could be and more.

As it turns out, Frightened Rabbit also has a knack for hyping up the audience with opportunities for their participation.  So, in line with such a skill, Scott Hutchinson requests that in one of their songs the audience acts as an accordion, holding one foundational tone the whole time as accordions are often want to do.  So, of course I’m freaking out about this because it just so happens that one of my childhood dreams is, in fact, to be an accordion for a Scottish band.

When the time comes, Hutchinson holds up his hand and we all make this “ahhhhhh” sound in unison with the tone he has given us moments earlier.  And we’re holding it and we’re holding it.  And it’s wonderful because I find myself looking around at other audience members who are floundering a bit with their note after a minute or so.  Then I spot those proud vocalists in the crowd who are still hanging in there.  Suddenly I feel my diaphragm closing in on itself and I look to others who are also gasping for air to complete the job.  But the thing is: we don’t even know when this song ends!  But we still want to try our hardest to fulfill our collective destiny which was just made for us by Hutchinson.  And suddenly we are all brothers and sisters in surrender, understanding the silliness of our overwhelming devotion to our accordion.  We start breathing again.  And we laugh.

 

CHVRCHES, in General

CHVRCHES went up on stage with the freedom of the majestic African antelope and the confidence of its predatory lion combined.  Lauren Mayberry’s exquisite voice bellowed their famous track “Gun” through the crowd, and I was in a trance.

This band was my favorite of the bands I saw perform at Laneway for a number of reasons.  Firstly, I believe their stage presence attained the ideal level of liveliness and unpredictability.  The life came from the sounds themselves: electronic tones with powerful lyrics.  The unpredictability stemmed from the band’s primitive and almost spiritual body movements on stage.  All three members just danced like crazy pretty much the entire time, ceasing only when absolutely necessary.  I especially enjoyed when instrumentalist and vocalist, Martin Doherty lost complete control and just started flailing around like crazy.  Even the bassist, Iain Cook couldn’t help but bounce around for the entire set.  See, a lot of bands at Laneway were kind of scanning the crowd in the hopes that loads of people would be grooving to their tunes, but CHVRCHES did enough grooving for all of us.  In fact, it seemed like they didn’t even notice us at points because they were too lost in the sounds.

CHVRCHES was also memorable for me because I felt like I never knew what they were going to say and I was fascinated by that in an obsessive way.  For instance, at one point, Mayberry started talking about the fact that Madonna grew up in “this fair state,” and how it was safe to assume that we would catch a glimpse of the pop phenomenon just wandering about at Meadow Brook on that very date.  This was incredible to me because:

  1. The way she said “this fair state” had the be the cutest way in which anyone has ever said anything.

  2. I imagine someone must have told her a few facts about Michigan (or potentially Detroit) before the band stopped here on their tour.  After being informed of the basics, she consciously thought, “Well, I figure of all the people I know of who grew up in Michigan (famed Detroit-ers included), I definitely feel most comfortable talking about Madonna (who actually grew up in Bay City, turns out).”  That was a thought she really had, and I think that’s the best thought ever because no one else would think that.

  3. After saying all of the this, she started to tell us that she couldn’t hear a lot of our responses to what she said because of her elaborate headset bit.  But she revealed that she would sometimes just imagine that we were all saying such things as, “We most certainly will spot Madonna today,” and, “You’re just so intelligent,” and, “Your shoes look really nice today,” etc.  She may have thought her mention of Madonna was awkward (which it wasn’t), so she diffused it by being the coolest person in the world.

After getting to know how much Mayberry resembles a kitten, we were all blessed to catch a glimpse of Doherty taking the reigns and whipping out his ever-hypnotic vocal tones.  At this point, after seeing him get down (and I mean, GET DOWN) for the past few songs, I think we all were dying to dive into his psyche in whatever way possible, so this worked out.  He proceeded to offer some of the most sincere and sacred vocalization I had seen that day.  Oh, and he did not stop dancing.  In fact, he took this opportunity to dance more!  I am almost certain his well-worn Nikes did not touch the floor for full minutes.

chvrches

Finally, CHVRCHES chose to play “Science/Vision,” a phenomenally ethereal surge of peacefulness.  The words “Breathe, don’t speak, it’s leaving your body now” seemed to pulsate through the crowd, and it was perfection.

This performance topped my list because it offered a superior sound even than their recordings, and it felt wild and spiritual.  I never stopped being impressed by the amount of personality on stage, and for that, CHVRCHES was my Laneway favorite.

 

The Science of Sound

At one point, I could hear Frightened Rabbit on Roscoe Stage, AlunaGeorge on Meadow Stage, and Katy Perry’s “Roar” on the speakers by the entrance simultaneously.  So cool.

 

Kindness

Last, but certainly not least, I want to address something that made me happier than all others that day.  The simple virtue of kindness is often disregarded in life when one has a goal for oneself, and even more often when one is in a large group of strangers.  Laneway folks were an exception to this rule, and for that I was very grateful.

Each lawn show had its own crew of front-rowers waiting earnestly for the band’s arrival to the stage.  The difference between these front-rowers and the front-rowers at most other shows, however, is that these people weren’t going to push you to the ground if you suggested with your body movements that you wanted to get closer to the band.  I saw so many people weaving in and out of the crowd to evaluate the sound wave quality in different grass patches, and there was no conflict whatsoever in these instances.  I even saw people giving up their seats in the Pavilion during Sigur Ros.  Sigur Ros, people!  I personally felt free to stand anywhere I wanted without being hassled by anyone, which is very rare for someone as paranoid as I am about mosh casualties.  People were giving each other the opportunity to see the bands they loved in a more real way, and I found that absolutely amazing.  Special shout out here to the guy who walked up to me at the beginning of the National’s show and handed me an All-Access pass for no reason so I could see them from anywhere I wanted.  Kindness.

crowd

At several points during the Washed Out show especially, I noticed pure gentleness and sincerity in the acts of others.  Washed Out was ever-glorious (among the top 5 as well), as always, but they took a little while to get started.  No fault of their own, of course, because there were some apparent technical issues at the beginning of their set.  Aside from a few joking hollers of “At Least One Song” (in place of “One More Song”), the fans were stationary and respectful.  They looked at it more as a chance to catch the Washed Out crew candidly handling the situation and just being as chill as you would expect about everything.  During what seemed like a rather long delay, after all, the crowd just loved one another and made friends.

Within minutes of the power being right again, I spotted a decent-sized dance circle in the middle of the mass.  I built up the courage to ask these awesome people if I could dance with them, and they made me feel like I had just handed them the golden ticket straight from my own Wonka Bar.  They were stoked to have me join them for some reason, and they never once made me feel weird about it (even though I was dancing at my utmost weird).  As the concert continued, this group grew in number with strangers who felt comfortable participating in the dance.  By the time I left there were people dancing next to each other and shaking hands all around me and I couldn’t feel my limbs anymore.  That’s what happens to me when I am overwhelmed by kindness.  Props to the Laneway attendees for loving one another so wonderfully.  The rest wouldn’t have mattered in the least if they hadn’t.


From the Meadow to the Lawn: The Pilgrimage of Mack Partin

Mack Partin

Two Saturdays ago, a mass of indie fans filed into the Berkley Front’s euphonious attic to see Meadower play their beloved indie rock ballads. This Meadower show was unique because their openers included Huumans (Detroit) and The Most Dangerous Animal (Flint). This Meadower show was unique because their guitarist, Brent Mosser, made screen-printed posters by hand.

 

This Meadower show was unique because it was their last.

In 2010, the group of four indie rockers (Joel Gullickson, Matt Provost, Brent Mosser, and Mack Partin) leapt onto the scene and has been playing local shows consistently ever since. Mack Partin, the band’s charming bassist and one of those people whose name just sounds better when stated in full, sits across from me in this dim bar on a Monday night and attempts to explain to me just how meaningful Meadower was.

Mack reveals that to him, Meadower made such a strong impact in part because of the surreal alliance of its members. “I had lived with our guitar player Brent for three years prior to him joining the band, I ended up living with the drummer for a couple of years, and the guitar player Matt and I had been in a previous band. So, I had a lot of history with those guys.”
meadowerBeyond just fulfilling his Partridge Family-esque dreams, Meadower also transformed the way Mack considered the art of composition altogether. Instead of having one writer in the group, “Meadower worked as a collaboration, so we would show up to practice and figure out a song.”
“I really liked doing that,” declares Mack, because that way, “We would write the song together.”

Playing shows about thrice a month at places like The Crofoot, The Loving Touch, Small’s, The Belmont, and PJ’s Lager House, Meadower was not by any means struggling to make an impression. So, why did such a unique band conclude what most would consider a phenomenal run? Upon my asking this question, Mack brushes aside his bangs and looks up from his chicken sandwich, trading in his sly grin for a dismal countenance.

“It ended because creatively, I think we accomplished everything that we had set out to do as a band. And we had been trying to write something for a little bit and it wasn’t really coming together the way I think anyone wanted it to.”Mack Partin

Alas, at their last show, Mack confesses that he “definitely got emotional during the set, looking at those guys and thinking ‘this is the last time I’m going to play with them in a long time,’” The devoted musician even shaved his mustache for the performance, in an effort to pay homage to the clean-shaven man who joined the band three years earlier. “I’m a sentimental guy,” he says, with the addendum, “or mostly just an idiot.”

Overall, Mack appears both sorrowful over Meadower’s conclusion and proud to have been in such a close-knit group in the first place. He also knows that the future is uncertain, and the band is devoted more to the music than to daily routines that may get in the way. “You know, I might get a phone call from Matt of Brent or Joel being like ‘Hey, I’ve got an idea: let’s work on a Meadower song.’” He adds, “If one of our closer friends were to ask us ‘ Hey, come play this show,’ we’d do it in a heartbeat.” For now, Mack is eternally grateful for the time he had with his talented and dedicated bandmates.
“You got me all choked up,” he concludes. “I love them. I love those guys.”

Though pained by the conclusion of this awesome foursome, Mack has by no means put an end to his career as a devout bassist. He has, in fact, been pleased to spend time veering in different creative directions. He has found time now to focus on jamming out with 500 Club at PJ’s Lager House, like he did last Wednesday, and writing new music with a groundbreaking punk rock band, Lawnmower.

lawnmower

Lawnmower itself was born in 2010, but Mack Attack added his name to the triumvirate one year ago. At the time, Mack says, “Me and the drummer of Meadower had been kind of messing around with stuff on our own time and looking for different people to play with just for fun,” because, he concedes, “We legitimately just love playing music.” So, it’s no surprise at all that when Travis (Lawnmower) approached Brent (Meadower) at a Meadower show in Flint, saying, “Man, we just need to find a guy who will play the bass for us,” Brent knew the perfect man for the job. “‘Mack will do it. Mack has nothing but free time.’”

So, with that, the bass man joined Travis Bravender and Aaron Quillen, and has since been mowing lawns like he’d never mown lawns before (that is to say, he has been driving to Flint a lot for band practice). When asked if he was at all concerned that he was burning the candle at all possible candle’s ends by performing with three bands over the past year, he confirms that it was nothing to fret (lol, music pun) about at all. “Lawnmower was different enough, so creatively it was moving in another direction,” he explains.

As for the sound of the trio, Mack states, “We’re more of a melodic kind of punk,” and names such influences as Weezer and Super Chunk for the sound. “A lot of my favorite bands were in the nineties,” he explains, “so I definitely take from that.” An ever-loyal Lawnmower fan, Stevie Garofalo calls the band a “catchy, raw, 3-piece punk band with original songs and good vocals and instruments.”

After a year in this punkier indie rock trio, Mack oozes love for the group as if it’s the family he’ll go home to after this interview. He tells me that, “it felt like a bunch of friends that I’ve known forever just hanging out and writing songs.” And although the bassist enjoyed the compositional eccentricities of Meadower, he can’t seem to contain his love for everything about the way Lawnmower operates as well. “What’s cool about lawnmower is that typically Travis will write something, send it to me and Aaron, and then me and Aaron comment… The main idea is kind of there. And from there we work together as a band and figure out how we can make it sound like us.” The band has developed its own unique system, and boy, does the system work.

No novices of the music industry, the men of Lawnmower had released a phenomenal full-length record in 2010, called “Franchise Wings.” Furthermore, just a few months ago, they released the EP of EPs, “Whack Yer Brain.” Both albums offer Lawnmower’s greatest attributes in perfect proportion: unique vocals, complex, but calming melodies, and incredible instrumentalism. That being said, “Whack Yer Brain” is far better than “Franchise Wings,” and I’ll tell you why: Spinner has a mohawk. That is to say, the entire album is based on “Degrassi, the Next Generation,” and if that’s not everything you’ve ever wanted in an album, then your priorities are askew.

As for the future, Mack explains that Lawnmower is only picking up musical momentum in the days ahead. They are currently recording a full-length record that is to be released within the next few months, and will doubtless be monumentally earth-shattering. Beyond that, they plan to take part in two tribute albums, one for The Replacements, and the other for The Get Up Kids. “We’re keeping pretty busy,” he says, detailing the band’s most recent show a few weekends ago at the Soggy Bottom in Flint. “We have played in a variety of different spots around Michigan. Our plan is, especially now that we have the record out, to maybe do some more regional tours.”

Both Meadower and Lawnmower have made enormous impacts on Mack’s life, and for that, he could not be more grateful. As he concludes his epic bildungsroman in this booth across from me, he appears more hopeful than most other musicians I have encountered thus far. Lawnmower is making unmistakable waves, and as Garofalo says, it “is definitely a band that could make it big in the underground punk community.” But this didn’t happen because Mack Partin became hardened by the inherent tribulations of the music industry. It didn’t happen because Mack Partin let opportunities tumble through the wilting leaves of his meadow. It happened because Mack Partin loved music for music’s sake. His future is bright because he made it so.

Come check Lawnmower out tomorrow night, August 23rd, at the Howell Opera House.

Check out Meadower and Lawnmower on Facebook and Like them by clicking the thumb button!
www.facebook.com/meadower
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lawnmower/260677670632599?fref=ts

Also listen to them both on bandcamp and buy their stuff!


Notes from D Underground

whatever fest

We can all recall a time when we wore our best beer-stained fangirl t-shirt and heard that one phenomenal band for the first time in that cramped living room with chipped-paint walls. Maybe it was in April of 2008, when Lenny Stoofy freed your mind and your body at the Scrummage Toy Factory on Van Dyke and Davison. Perhaps it was that time you brought the year 2011 to a close by skanking raucously at “Detroit’s sexiest anarchist collective,” the Trumbullplex. Or maybe it was that time Dr. Handsome covered “She’s Not There,” by the Zombies two months ago at Whatever Fest in Midtown and you cried yourself to sleep because it was better than the original.

Whatever the case, these unique and beloved experiences exist solely in the smaller, more intimate musical venues that make up Detroit’s underground music culture.  But why is it that these smaller DIY hotspots have been gaining such enormous ground as the venues of choice for young people in Detroit?

I just tend to have more fun when I’m shoulder-to-shoulder with people who are sweaty

…says Eric Schmeling, an eternal supporter of Detroit’s small local music venues and a guitarist for the now disbanded Detroit group, Cave System. After attending shows in the city since he was in high school, Schmeling says that when choosing a venue, he would almost always prefer “some dude’s basement over the Crofoot.” In other words, the smaller, the better. Underground venues and house parties are cropping up all over Detroit, filling quickly with Detroit’s youth and inspiring kids from the suburbs to make the trek to see their favorite local bands.

Brittany Badenoch, who has been involved with smaller music venues in Detroit since she was seventeen, praises their incredible presence in the city’s musical community, and not just on account of sweaty bodies. “The great thing about Detroit,” she says, “is that there’s so much space to have a venue and just kind of set up shop.” She also points out that underground venues offer a “way more laid-back and real way to enjoy music, rather than going to a venue and having to pay for parking or tickets, etc.”

What makes the underground music scene in Detroit any different than that of other American cities? “Initiative,” Badenoch says. “If you go to any other major city, you don’t really meet people who are ‘creating something out of nothing.’” In those places, “there are so many night clubs and venues… we [also] have really cheesy night clubs, and no one I know wants to go to those. So if we don’t create something ourselves that’s going to be more up our alley, we don’t have anything.” These smaller venues, as Badenoch confirms, “really force people to show initiative where they maybe wouldn’t [otherwise].”
Rising from the ashes, as they say.

Badenoch says that the significance of underground venues, however, stretches beyond just those kids who want to dance around, inebriated, for hours. “Detroit is a place where people are really anxious to create new good things in the city and DIY venues are a really good outlet for that. They really appeal to a lot of different types of people, like someone who’s interested in public relations or someone who is interested in business, etc.” Furthermore, Badenoch reveals that as a musician, she’s found that “DIY spaces always make an effort to promote a lot because they want people to come and they want to have a good reputation for their venue.”

Taking on the role of one of Detroit’s most lauded female rappers, Breezee One, Badenoch says that she has a huge spot in her heart for the house shows and underground venues that hosted her when she first started. “Me… I don’t play instruments, I’m not a really phenomenal singer (she’s terribly wrong about this), but I still make music and I still play shows.” Artists across the globe agree that it’s incredibly difficult to make a name for oneself in the music industry, and Badenoch confirms this fact. “If there weren’t DIY places, I would have never started to play because I wouldn’t have known how to approach it. The great thing about the DIY spaces is that you can be a no-name band and get a show there and then start your foundation with a fan base that way.”
Clearly it was these “dudes’ basements” that gave Badenoch and many others their start in the Detroit music culture.
But is playing at these smaller, lesser-known venues ideal for musicians in the long term?

Lead singer and guitarist for beloved local band The Hounds Below, Jason Stollsteimer isn’t so sure. “House shows are the most crucial point in a band’s life,” Stollsteimer says, “and when you first cut your teeth playing those shows, it’s pivotal.” The singer started performing at and attending smaller venues religiously in 1994, where the scene was prevalent in various suburbs of Wayne County. Now the local music mastermind says he would choose almost anything over the basement. “They have a time and a place,” Stollsteimer says. “I don’t feel I’ve gotten old, I just want to hear the band the best they can sound. And the best sound is very much not underground.” As a musician, Stollsteimer says, “I haven’t actually played a house show since 2000.” He explains, “the last time I threw one or went to one, there would be maybe ten bands there, and maybe one out of the ten would do anything more than that house party.” Stollsteimer, in fact, declares the entire idea of underground music an odd paradox: “the unsaid goal of underground bands is to become not underground, because if you wanted to be underground, you wouldn’t play shows.”

“I never wanted to be famous,” he explains, “I just wanted the songs I was writing to be heard. And why do people at the Trumbullplex make a Facebook event page? Because they want people to be there.” So, while putting one’s band out there at those small shows is definitely a key point in one’s musical career, Stollsteimer believes that the reality of underground venues is that the goal for musicians playing them is almost always to be done playing at underground venues. “If you play house shows for fucking 10 years that’s not good.”
So, perhaps spending ages thrashing on a stage in your friend’s living room isn’t going to pay your rent or get you a spot on MTV’s “Wake and Shake,” but everyone can agree that those shows are a step in the right direction.

The underground music scene “is as popular as it always has been,” Schmeling says. “It’s more cyclical, than anything else.” He explains that when “real life catches up” with the people in charge of a specific venue, there is seemingly always someone there to take over the others’ musical role in the community.

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Recloose

DJ Recloose playing at Detroit Contemporary circa 2003 – During the Broken Beat/Nu Jazz scene


Alas, Bankrupt or not, Detroit is still going to give us as many chances to experience underground music as we could ever ask for. Those paint chips are ours, ladies and gentlemen.  And don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise.

By setting aside what may be more lucrative opportunities in exchange for the chance to perform for those fans who supported them at the very beginning, these bands are showing immeasurable passion for their art and devotion to their homes. They see something in Detroit that other musicians don’t: a need for music in and of itself (sans societal bells and whistles). And as Badenoch says, she is very proud of kids these days because, “the new generation is seeing this need and deciding to do something about it.” And that is what Detroit sounds like.