Super dreamy and almost trippy shoegaze, make out to Living Hour

Shoegaze. The term is one of many that recently has me thinking whoever names marijuana strains must also name music genres. Lately, it seems like music genres and sub-categories surface by the minute, whether they are new experimentations or nostalgic resurrections.
Coined after slow paced indie-rock bands that spend much of their set ‘gazing’ at their effects pedals, shoegaze is closely related to the sounds of dream pop, chill wave and psychedelia… see what I mean?

“When it comes down to genres those are all somewhat fitting but I think there are a few unique elements that wouldn’t necessarily fall under a specific genre,” said Living Hour’s Gil Carroll, before their set at Detroit’s Marble Bar on Sept. 20.

Winnipeg, Manitoba’s Living Hour released their debut full length earlier this year on Lefse Records (Portland, OR). The self-titled record featured songs that began as ideas in Carroll’s notebooks six years ago, as well as tunes that the quintet approached more collaboratively since forming two years ago.

“I think there’s new (genres) just because there’s so many different sounds you can make now with digital equipment and different instruments that there’s so many influences coming together that it forms different sounds that haven’t been heard before,” said guitarist/back up vocals Adam Soloway.
“It’s super hard to characterize that under indie-rock for example, but were also super dreamy and almost trippy at times so you kind of have to tell people that because they might think that we’re like Pavement but we’re more like Slowdive,” said Soloway.

Living Hour’s first ever tour was two years ago last week and with little time to showcase their comfortably noisy debut, their current tour includes dates in the states, Canada and Europe and the U.K.
Aside from their non-stop self promotion on Facebook, Instagram and other social media outlets, the band attributes their respective niche style for garnering geographically widespread audience in such little time.

“I think we also need to credit the shoegaze community,” said Soloway.
“Just because it’s so tightly knit across the world that if one person hears something and they post something in an online forum or shoegaze facebook page, tons of people will listen to it and it doesn’t matter how big you are because people get super into it because its… shoegaze.

Living Hour’s Marble Bar set included slow outros that felt like sun-set glistening ocean waves crashing at your feet.
Female vocalist Sam Sarty’s soothing vocals filled the room like a cool September night’s window breeze. Her nurturing melodies directed the rest of the members as they swayed with eyes closed, joining the audience.
“We want people to make out to it… If they want to,” said Sarty.
“Sex music,” added Sarty.

And just like that… another genre floats to the surface.


Detroit natives, The Social Bandits, are toying with live music platform, and it’s working

Detroit natives, The Social Bandits, are toying with live music platform, and it’s working.

In the hodgepodge of colorful characters and versatile sound that has become Detroit’s music industry, there is said to be an overwhelmingly saturated rock and roll scene. This statement made last year by Dave Zainea, owner of Detroit’s Majestic Complex in midtown, was a foreshadow of his future business plans.

Zainea teamed up with Amir Daiza, owner of Pontiac’s Elektricity nightclub and the former Clutch Cargos venue. Together they renovated the Majestic Complex’s iconic rock venue, The Magic Stick, and turned it into a stomping ground for electronic dance music events. One year later, the red ribbon cut and decades of rock band stickers and delusional scriptures scraped from the restroom walls, the city has only the ghostly memories of a monumental atmosphere for Detroit rock and roll.

bandits-msu-moody-10What happens when a band breaks the traditional tropes of bar gigging and creates an innovative platform for the delivery of their live music marketing? The Social Bandits take the stage.

From OU to every other U

Detroit’s alternative quartet, The Social Bandits, pin their original sound on many influences aside from rock and roll.
“There are a lot of solid 70s and 80s cover bands that make a good living and there is a huge metal and hard rock scene, not my vibe, but it’s cool they still play so many shows downtown,” said Brad Rude, co-lead vocalist and bass playing bandit.
“But I would say there’s not a whole lot of ‘rock and roll’ that is current and original in Detroit right now. There are few bands like this and I would consider The Social Bandits to be one of them,” Rude added.

“But I would say there’s not a whole lot of ‘rock and roll’ that is current and original in Detroit right now. There are few bands like this and I would consider The Social Bandits to be one of them,” Rude added.

With a broad range of influences including The Beatles, Bob Marley and The Killers to name a few, The Social Bandits have an innate love for Detroit’s historically staple sounds of funk and jazz. Oakland University’s jazz program was a catalyst in bringing out the boys’ Motown inheritance.

“I was pleasantly surprised when they came in; I nicknamed them the Swing Brothers,” said Sean Dobbins, OU’s jazz combo coordinator and assistant program instructor, about Rude and drumming band mate Dylan Walsh.

There are a lot of solid 70s and 80s cover bands that make a good living and there is a huge metal and hard rock scene, not my vibe, but it’s cool they still play so many shows downtown

Brad Rude, co-lead vocalist and bass playing bandit

“They had this connection they could play with and it was obvious from day one that they could have careers as musicians and go far,” added Dobbins.

According to Dobbins, studying jazz teaches musicians a sense of subtlety and introduces musical texture. Rude, who believes jazz is the root of all modern music, says that jazz is a big part of his musical life especially from an educational standpoint.

When the Swing Brothers aren’t busy playing jazz combos at Detroit’s Cliff Bell’s and other smokey landmarks of the city’s musical authenticity, the Social Bandits are making entrepreneurial moves. They are currently making a conscientious aesthetic change in formats through which they deliver a live set. Although the band play their fair amount of bar gigs, the traditional route up the ranks, in recent months they have been taking advantage of an environment that draws a particular fan base: college parties.

“There are a lot of good venues that support local music but if you’re [the band] not bringing out enough people then it’s hard to make matters worth-while,” said Rude.

bandits-msu-moody-11

He added, “So we’re going right to the source which is college kids at parties. They’re going to be at parties anyways, they might as well listen to the Social Bandits while they’re there.”

As a band with a desired demographic of younger listeners, there seems like no better setting to cater to than college parties. Rude says the response has been beautiful.

“We’ve had parties at MSU where the basement is packed wall to wall. You couldn’t fit more people in there with a shoehorn.”

Thus far, the band has traveled to The University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Central Michigan University, Western Michigan University and Grand Valley State University.

The Social Experience

The element that separates the aura between the binary of a Social Bandits bar gig and a college house show is the level of crowd interaction that the band is able to participate in, coupled with the deliberate differences in song choices. Spencer White, frequent Bandits show attendee, said that being able to get strangers dancing is one of the hallmarks of being a “good band.”

“The bar gigs are great but there’s a certain disengagement you can have at a bar gig where you can wander away, grab a drink, things like that,” said White.

“But at the college shows you’re packed into a room and it’s a party ya now? You’re committed. You’ve got your booze with ya, you’re with all your friends, you’re hoppin’ around in a tight space. Regardless of the setting, the Bandits have great command of the room but it shows so much more in a tight place like that” White added.

the-social-bandits-central-4oAs a live concert guru, White explained the best type of live interaction is “in-song” interaction. Something that a band can afford much more of in a house show due to the band’s relative proximity to the band.

“The Bandits never miss a chance to have you clap, or yell with them, or sing their lyrics or even hop on the drum kit for a little bit during the drum solo whereas at the bar gigs you can’t always do that type of stuff” said White.

“It’s that kind of stuff that makes people involved with the music, makes the experience more than just songs that are being played at you,” he added.

Playing to a crowd rather than at them is what Dobbins considers being the most important part of catering to a live audience.

“Act like you’re taking apart a movie and make sure your repertoire has all of the emotions there can be,” said Dobbins.

“Happiness, sadness, drama, comedy, everything that you could think of that would go into a movie should be in a set because you’re trying to get your audience members on every emotion possible,” Dobbins added.

As for variations in song choices, the Bandits typically play their originals everywhere, however different platforms get different access.

“We play a lot of original songs,” said Jesse Medawar, who handles half of the band’s vocal and guitar duties.

“We definitely play original songs at a bar gig but we play all of our originals at the house shows where we’re trying to market ourselves as The Social Bandits rather than just receiving a paycheck,” Medawar added.

Cover songs, on the other hand, vary between show platforms because of relative target audience. Bar covers include Pink Floyd’s “Money” or Eric Clapton’s “Crossroads”, where covers on a college set list include Sublime’s “Santeria” or Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop”. The fact that Miley Cyrus can’t stop the band sheds light on their aesthetic diversification and perseverance in giving audiences a memorable emotion to take away with them as Dobbins claims vital.

On The Horizon

Moving forward, The Social Bandits have a spring college mini-tour coming up. They are booked to play college house shows through April and May in Lansing and Mount. Pleasant. Audiences at these shows will hear a taste of original songs from the band’s first full length LP, which is set to release this August. After the release of the record, the band plans on taking a two-week east coast tour.

“We’re bringing out other musicians to feature on it and its very diverse,” Rude said about the currently untitled, upcoming record.

“I think there is something for everybody on it. It’s about half way done and I think it’s going to be huge for us.”


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.’”

kingeddie3

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.

kingeddie4

 

 

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


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.

 

Vonneguts9 Vonneguts14

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.

Vonneguts2

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.

vonneguts1 vonneguts2

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.

Vonneguts7 Vonneguts8

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.


Introducing: Touch Somebody

Touch-Somebody

Allow me to introduce Sterling Heights-based Touch Somebody; a pop-infused quartet with an attitude. If you’re a fan of Blink-182 or Say Anything, you’ll definitely want to stay tuned.

After some less than successful experiments, the guys of Touch Somebody finally came together for the purpose of writing what they really feel, rather than conforming to a particular style. Last year Touch Somebody recorded and released a DIY album entitled Is it Wrong to Say I Love You?  and begun to play shows around the Metro Detroit area.

Lead singer and guitarist, Thomas Dameron, spent his fair share of hours behind the board before heading off the recording and producing the band’s debut album. Previously, he spent many years writing and recording electro-pop tunes under the moniker, Audio Summer, while he was only in high school. Now working with a full band, he upped the home-studio ante to produce the first Touch Somebody album. Dameron explained that the greatest challenges in producing a record in his basement came from recording live drums with his brother, Jon. Through a number of technical issues, delays, and unfortunate mishaps, the guys were finally able to release the album approximately 1 year ago via Bandcamp. The album is free, and I encourage you to check it out right away.

In more recent history, the group has recorded a few singles with legendary producer, Rob Freeman, of Hidden in Plain View- who is know best by his work with Gym Class Heroes, Hit The Lights and Armor for Sleep. We’ll have to wait to see when those singles appear, but in the meantime the boys are making some additions to the home studio as they prepare to hunker down and record a wealth of new tracks that have been written since the release of the first album.

Get to know the band by checking out the first video from a two-part series about the band, produced by Habitat Media Group:

 


Bands You Need to Know: The Native Howl

The Native Howl

Folk-rock bandits, The Native Howl formed less than 2 years ago when singer-songwriters Jake Sawicki and Alex Holycross finally joined forces after years of making music in close proximity to one another. Since coming together the duo have self-released The Revolution’s Dead EP, and used their combined business acumen to launch Clean As Dirt Records, out of Leonard Michigan’s CAD Studios.

In the year that followed, the group proceeded to play stages throughout Michigan and began writing and recording their debut full-length album, Inukshuk, due for release by early October. An Inukshuk is an Inuit cultural symbol made up of a pile of unworked stones often used to designate safe travel passages.

This Wednesday, June 30, you’ll be able to see The Native Howl perform two 50-minute sets at Detroit’s Campus Martius as part of the Lunchtime Concert Series hosted by 93.9 The River. The guys will be handing out demos of Inukshuk with purchase of anything from their merch table.

You can get your hands on The Revolution’s Dead at The Native Howl’s bandcamp, and stream the music video No Chance (For My Soul), below:


PHOTO GALLERY: Temples @ Magic Stick

It was a great Sunday evening in Detroit.  We were invited to check out the band Temples, and they really knew how to draw a crowd.  For a Sunday night the Magic Stick had a very nice crowd.
While we were there, we of course snapped some great photos.  Check them out below!

For more about Temples check out the link below!

Temples (Facebook)

temples temples-2 temples-3 temples-4
temples-5 temples-6 temples-7 temples-8


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.”
cameron2
  • 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.”
cameron4
  • 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!

cameron3

MUSIC VIDEO-Mexican Knives “Killer Snake”

Last Thursday Mexican Knives released their new music video via Noisey for their track “Killer Snake,” from the 2013 EP “Other Tramps.”

Want more Mexican Knives? Check them out here:

Facebook
Bandcamp
Souncloud

Filmed, Directed and Edited by Wesley Levise
Additional footage shot by Esme McClear
Song by Mexican Knives


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.

george7

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?”

george5

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.

geroge9 geroge3

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.


Zoos of Berlin “Above the Air”

Hello Detroit!

Hope everyone is enjoying their Labor Day Weekend! Its Monday so that means here is your track of the week!
This track was recently a Rolling Stone download of the day!

Check out “Above the Air” by Zoos of Berlin

For More Zoos of Berlin:
Zoos of Berlin Facebook
Zoos of Berlin Bandcamp


Mexican Knives “Killer Snake”

Mexican Knives release a brand new EP entitled “Other Tramps”

The two track EP contains the songs “Killer Snake” and “Make This Moment”

Please check back later today for a brand new music video by the Mexican Knives.

Want to learn more? Check out their Facebook here!


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!


Best Coast to Play with Local Dead-Surf Band Mexican Knives

Best Coast is an American indie rock band based in Los Angeles, California, and is often categorized under the subgenres of garage rock, surf pop, and lo-fi. The members are frontwoman/songwriter Bethany Cosentino and multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno. The band is recognizable for their fuzzy, low-fidelity sound in the vein of surf rock.
They write one hell of a melody!

Attached below is a video from Best Coast, take a look!

—–

Mexican Knives are a local dead-surf group from Detroit Michigan.  The band is lead by Zachory Weedon, and consits of Ruth (Vocals), Blair (Drums) & John (Bass).  Want to know more about Mexican Knives, check out their interview with Detroit Sounds Like This here!

Below is an exclusive track performed live at the Detroit Sounds Like This studio in Eastern Market.

Click here for more event info!

$16 in advance


Discussion with Rocket McFlyy

I’ll be honest with you, the last time I wrote an interview was for my riveting high school journal. Therefore, I approached this “interview” as more of a discussion. Before this discussion happened, I had a chance to hear the band live, and have a listening session of their recorded music. Because of this, I skipped all the introductory excess and got right to their music.

Before they were Rocket McFlyy and The Free Radicals, they were Organized Khaos, and before that, well, I’ll let them explain. The first time I saw or heard of Rocket McFlyy and the Free Radicals was May 2013 at a battle of the bands here in Detroit. Rocket McFlyy includes Rocket (piano/vocals) and McFlyy (rapping/vocals). The Free Radicals, also known as their live band of brethren, consists of Michael Moore (guitar), B (drums), and JAWZ (bass guitar). It should be noted that Rocket McFlyy not only produce their own music, but also write and produce for other Detroit musicians. Unfortunately, B wasn’t able to attend the interview, but his bandmates were sure to acknowledge his importance to the whole.

One thing you will see if you visit the band’s website (http://smcflyy.wix.com/rocketmcflyy) or twitter (https://twitter.com/rocketmcflyy) and read the bio, is a large illustration of Rocket and McFlyy standing atop a pile of alien robot carcasses, and holding space weapons. There’s a visual element to Rocket McFlyy and the Free Radicals that should not be overlooked; It was clear that some visual art work was necessary. I refer to my “art box” in the interview, which is essentially a place where I keep art supplies ready to go. You can see all of their visual representations of their music below.

For me, Rocket McFlyy and the Free Radicals’ music is a complete experience. There’s a lot of sound, concepts, emotion, and energy behind their work, and I can only hope that this discussion captured a small part of that.

So let’s get started. Turns out all you need is a little beer for a band to be comfortable around a crazy little gal from Detroit. Cheers.

rocket-1

 

[In speaking order]

CL (Camille Langston), MM (Michael Moore), J (JAWZ), R (Rocket), MF (McFlyy)

CL: One of the things I’m confused about is your studio versus your live show life.

MM: We’re actually doing a full recording right now that will resemble more of the dynamic and sound of the live performances.

CL: I know on your website it says your sound is a combination of hip-hop, Motown, and rock and roll. However, I also heard your music conceptually. I heard a lot of outer-space. I heard a lot of deep sound. I heard a lot of full sound.

MM: On the recording or live?

CL: Both. I think you guys are a totally different entity live.

MM: Which is a good thing. I think when Rocket showed us his recordings individually we all thought, “Well this guy has his act together.” And then we started playing live and things quickly progressed into what they are now. We added the drummer that we have now (B) which has really pushed things forward.

J: B brings a little bit of the soul and a little bit more complex rhythmic sound.

R: B is very classic, but contemporary. As far back as the African dance element, he can nail it. We did a show last week and it was hot. We were about to do this song and he didn’t wanna do it because he didn’t have his tom-toms. “I need my Toms man! I need my Toms!” Like, he gets DOWN.

CL: Yeah he does get down, I remember that. I have a very vivid memory of the first time I heard you all live. Which was an experience. I do agree that B brings a whole other rhythmic energy to your music. It’s different than the energy in your studio music.

MF: Yeah I think everybody in the band does that with everything, in relation to the studio versus live stuff. When we play live, JAWZ’s bass is gonna be way more dynamic. Michael’s guitar is gonna be legendary, as opposed to just awesome.

rocket-5

CL: I want to ask, in a general sense, how you all got together.

MF: That’s like 5 stories.

R: That’s at least 10 years of talking.

MF: Me and Rocket met in high school. We were in an a cappella singing group, which I hated, but Rocket made it awesome. Rocket came to me one day and was like, “Dude, I wanna do rock music with hip-hop drums.” and I was like “Bro. I can’t sing that shit, man.” So when we started this rock shit I was like, “Dude, I gotta rap.” So I started rapping.

R: And I was like noo noooo!

MF: Everybody laughed at me and then we did a bunch of studying and shit and I got better at it. And then JAWZ came in once we hit Organized Khaos, which is when we decided to do rock music.

CL: You guys are like a whole three course meal of music. There’s so much to hear and experience. That’s why I bought my art box because there’s a visual component, there’s the music, there are the concepts behind the music, and the whole website is a whole other thing. Everything there made me curious about your inspiration. Besides music, what are your influences?

R: You mean what influences us as entities existing at all? God, love, sex, rock and roll, superheroes, outer space, DREAMWEAVER, video games, inner peace, outer freedom, positive growth, keep moving forward.

MM: It’s ironic because for me there is no God, but I have beer.

J: That’s really close enough.

CL: Explain to the people what DREAMWEAVER is.

R: Uhhh Cannabis. Marijuana.

J: It’s a good plant.

R: It’s an entity and an idea for us. It’s so much more than what it is. We live in a country where there are so many drugs that are just dangerous for you that you can get over the counter.

CL: Since the blog is called Detroit Sounds Like This, tell me about your Detroit musical influences, your favorite Detroit sound, anything. Expand as much as you want.

R: So this is like the what Detroit sounds like to us section?

CL: Yeah, that’s a great way to put it.

MF: RenCen CoolBeanz is one of my personal heroes, locally.

R: I don’t know. Detroit sounds like world music to me.

MM: That’s actually really well put. That’s what I loved about Detroit growing up. It was mostly Motown but it was also really great hard rock. Really great rock and roll that you couldn’t hear anywhere else. It also had a special groove and a special anger.

J: Yeah a special anger, absolutely.

MM: There’s a certain anger to Detroit rock that I love to this day, and I still think that per capita, there are just better musicians here. I was just talking the other day about traveling to cities that are “economically healthier,” but the music scenes just don’t seem vibrant, or they don’t pull you in. There’s nothing there, you know? It’s a Saturday night at 10pm where’s the jaw dropping show? In Detroit you can find a couple of those things going on, and it’s like, where else would you see this?

CL: Nowhere.

rocket-2

MM: One thing I’m really proud of Detroit for is even with all the economic turmoil and chaos, it really kept a strong sense of artistic creativity.

R: Detroit has a heartbeat, and it’s growing, and I really believe that. It’s an irregular heartbeat, too. It’s funny that Michael would talk about the musical demographic, especially as it pertains to live performances, because everywhere I’ve been, they don’t do it like they do it here.

J: We invent the world’s greatest music. Techno came from here first. Even the more obscure shit like second wave punk came from Detroit first before it came from Seattle.

MM: In the late 90’s there were three of the world’s biggest indie-prog bands from here. I was in House Of Usher. Discipline was also out of Detroit, and Tiles was big in Germany and is still going strong.

R: In Detroit, generally speaking, it’s nooks and crannies with huge amounts of energy coming from them. At this one SPOT in a vacant warehouse, or artsy loft, or you know, some dope after-hours joint, there’s just space around it. But the inside is exploding.

CL: Self realization is so important, and until one gets to know oneself it kind of floats. I remember Rocket telling me that before you had the Groove Theory (which is essentially a theory for creating the sound of Rocket McFlyy and the Free Radicals), you had a spectrum of “yes” and “no.” Until you focused it, and until you realized your musical signature, you didn’t get the constant “yes.” I’m asking if you’re aware of your musical signature, and if you could describe it.

MM: Well I actually think I have a very Buddhist relationship with my guitar playing. It’s just something that I do. It just happens. Sometimes I feel very connected to it, but sometimes it just happens and I’m just an observer. It’s a very dissociative type of act.

CL: It’s without the ego of it all.

MM: Yeah, and in terms of individuality; I’m standing on the shoulders of multiple generations of people whom I’ve simply studied and struggled to incorporate, and it would take a really really fine ear to hear that, and I don’t think most people do. But maybe I’m underestimating their intelligence.

CL: You don’t think most people hear what?

MM: Anything identifiably me. I think they hear a big loud guitar. I don’t think they really get it, to be quite honest with you. I think I can be very flashy and very showy and it looks good. I don’t know if they really…

J: Get what you’re doing.

MM: Get what I’m doing. And it really doesn’t matter if they do or they don’t on that level to which I aspire. It’s okay that they just find it entertaining.

CL: That’s a really interesting point, because I don’t know you. I don’t know any of you, and you don’t know me. But when I listened to you (Michael), maybe I didn’t hear you or your musical signature, but I did hear something that you expressed.

rocket-3

MM: That’s totally valid. My experience of it is actually quite Equalist. I play notes, I’m listening, I’m reacting, I’m kind of thinking of my job as more of a craftsman.

J: Michael puts a lot of color into the band.

MF: When I’m starting off cool, I follow JAWZ or B, because I know they’re gonna give me that beat. But to turn it up, I’ve gotta follow Michael to catch the intensity. Rocket is my opposite on stage in a lot of ways, and my equal. Rocket is pulling as much emotion out of the rhythm as possible and I have to pull as much rhythm out of the emotion as possible (laughs) and that’s where we landed.

J: We all definitely have a very concrete roll in the band, and almost a totally different perspective of what’s going on. Especially during the live performances. I have a very different approach than Michael.

CL: What is your approach?

J: I like to sit back, listen, and have a conversation musically with B. Really listen to what he’s doing, and what his groove is, and just feel the bottom line of the song. Where should I be? What is the most supportive note? Should I do something different to support what Rocket is doing? But I have to keep everything super solid, and it’s all about the groove and making it feel good. My influences as a player: Bootsy Collins, Marcus Miller, Victor Wooton…

CL: Is there anything I’ve not asked or we haven’t talked about that you view as essential to your musical expression?

MF: I want to over emphasize Marijuana.

CL: That’s going on the website.

rocket-4

 

 


Track of the Week – Rogue Satellites “Party Angels”

water-1

Detroit Sounds Like This would like to start off your week with some great local talent. Rogue Satellites provide great production and outstanding vocals that will keep you listening. Enjoy.

Artist: Rogue Satellites
Track: Party Angels
Album: Other Angels


Interview with Mexican Knives

Mexican Knives are a band based out of the city with a groove, a presence, and a fast-paced aggression that is infectious to the ear.  Zach, Ruth, John, and Blair have given their genre of “surf goth” a fan base within the city, and will surely grab the attention and the eardrums of many more fans as they plan to release their first 6-song EP, along with a split-45 with fellow Detroiters Ritual Howls.

I had a completely different band . . . I asked Ruth to come back, and everything is happening organically, the way it’s supposed to be…guitarist Zach Weedon

Beginning with Zach and Blair playing together, the band evolved with Ruth taking over on vocals, and John (having a change of heart) accepting a second offer to play bass.   With recent shows in Brooklyn and Chicago and plans to hit even more cities after their EP has been released, Mexican Knives are right on track to turn their intriguing genre of rock into a more widely recognized and appreciated sound in this city.  In this video interview, the band discusses how their sound came to be through an influence of musical stylings ranging from the Staple Sisters to Guns N’ Roses, how they made Wavves green with envy, and why more people should go to the library.

mexican-1-2

At the end of the video please enjoy an exclusive performance of the track “Nightmare,” performed live at the Detroit Sounds Like This Studio in Eastern Market.


The Gutter Ghouls

I was 24 when my psychobilly cherry was popped. When people talk about the Detroit music scene these days they’re usually referring to mostly electronic, garage punk, or hip hop. Psychobilly, for those who aren’t familiar with the genre,  is made up of elements of punk then mixed with pieces of horror (usually from old horror movies). The shows are very fast paced and the bass players usually prefer to play with an upright bass as compared to most rock groups who use a standard bass guitar.

Check back soon for an in depth interview with the Ghutter Ghouls!

ggweb-9 ggweb-2 ggweb-10