fookcast Friday #1: Please Don't Adjust Yr Volume

The newest addition to the Huevos exclusive music archive is fookcast, a series of digital mixtapes compiled with your mental well-being in mind.

It's typically the things we do outside of routine that shake up our lives. Consider fookcast when deciding what to do, especially on Fridays. Now starting on a biweekly basis, Huevos will feature 1-2 hour long music broadcasts provided by fook—pseudo name of Nathan Rich—who selects, snips, and shapes found songs into a self-indulgent stream-of-conscious experience, free from genre boundaries. For best results: use fookcast during long hours of work, boredom, masturbation and meditation. Stream or download. Indulge and enjoy.

This week's 'cast is designed for comfort, so some familiar names (Frank Zappa, Smashing Pumpkins, Modest Mouse) have been revisited. A vinyl rip of Bobby Vinton's "My Blue Heaven" kicks off the two hour long feast before channeling into space with No Age and Stereolab; the second half is a lucid void devoted entirely to Boris' 70 minute endeavor "Flood." Meanwhile, Red House Painters wrap up the exploration with one last plea.

download fookcast #1

featuring the sounds of...

BOBBY VINTON my blue heaven ... FAUST jennifer ... FRANK ZAPPA shut up 'n play yer guitar some more ... MODEST MOUSE grey ice water ... ALGERNON CADWALLADER horror ... HOLOPAW hula-la ... KICKBALL sea ... THINGY revolution in a box ... GASTR DEL SOL rebecca sylvester ... HELLA post-ivy league depression ... NO AGE glitter ... STEREOLAB parsec ... DEVIN TOWNSEND fall ... SMASHING PUMPKINS for martha ... BORIS flood ... RED HOUSE PAINTERS lord kill the pain


Pixies bring Doolittle to Palace Theater

Guitarist Joey Santiago speaks about his side project with drummer Dave Lovering and keepin' on with the Pixies

The linear pattern of nostalgia-ready bands reunited and world tour bound continues. But the Pixies have been going at it for seven years. “I can’t even think of the end right now,” guitarist Joey Santiago told me during an interview conducted in September. “But I want to keep going. (Laughs) There’s no reason to quit. ”

It was a crucial move that the Pixies chose Doolittle as their touring album. It’s a record along with Surfer Rosa that both continue to be cited by artists as prime influences since their pinnacle of success in the 90s. Frank Black introduced Santiago and drummer Dave Lovering on his solo projects after the Pixies disbanded and in 2004 an official reunion eventually culminated from a few low-key rehearsals, releasing a new single [“Bam Thwok”] the same year. Although a new record isn’t in future sights, they’ve been dispatching free live albums on their website from the currently rolling Doolittle tour.

While taking a year off the Pixies madness in 2009, Santiago and Lovering launched a new fan-interaction project called The Everybody, meaning literally anyone. They released Avatar, a nine track album of instrumentals reminiscent of the Pixies without Frank Black yelling over them. Fans could download the album from their site in a mixing package of their choice and were granted complete freedom to clip, cleave, and dice these tracks into reinvented masterpieces. For a fee, they’re given then given the liberty to re-release these songs royalty-free and were encouraged to submit them for the the final compilation of winning tracks, ear-picked by the duo themselves. This was later introduced as Everybody Else, however, Santiago seemed to have remixed feelings about the outcome.

“I thought it was good. We had other ones that were better and I don’t know why we picked those,” he continued. “The mixes were good there, but I always have a different take. I should just do it myself--me and David, actually.”

Let’s hope the fans in Louisville aren’t as disappointing.

The Pixies will salute Doolittle this Wednesday, Nov 9th at the Palace Theater with Surfer Blood opening. Tickets are still available through the Palace box office and Live Nation. Doors at 7:30PM. All Ages.

*This article also appears at Louisville.com

Photo courtesy of Pixies


Interview: Lou Barlow on low-fidelity and felines

Lo-fi veteran Lou Barlow returns to Headliners this Friday to celebrate the reissue of Sebadoh's beloved Bakesale. And cats.

As the 90’s dissolved, so did the uncertain future of Sebadoh that was left stalled in 1999 after their last album The Sebadoh was released. Every couple of years since then, Lou Barlow gets back together with bandmates Jason Loewenstien and Eric Gaffney to keep the legacy alive. Sebadoh breathed life once more when they embarked on tour in 2004, and again in 2008 during the wake of Dinosaur Jr.’s anticipated revival. “They’re all nostalgia tours for me at this point; not in a bad way,” he said in our interview conducted last week. “For us, it’s just a matter of keeping the light burning until the time comes for us to make another record, which seems to be getting to that time now.”

When Lou wasn’t touring, the music lived on through Loobiecore.com where he built an archive of Sebadoh demos and tracks from his stripped-down solo project Sentridoh, many of which fans can download for free. Although his music made the digital transition, the hand-made feel of his website suggests this to be the only change. It wouldn’t be surprising to find it looked the same exact way upon its launch in 2000.

Two years ago Dinosaur Jr. took on Louisville and this Friday Lou makes a triumphant return with Sebadoh for a night of ultimate low-fidelity. Mazes, sounding much like a blast from the 90’s themselves, claim the opening slot. Best word of advice: bring your cat. Lou Barlow LOVES cats!

Your website Loobiecore.com still remains very hand-made and DIY. It doesn’t seem to have made the digital transition. How involved are you on the internet side, with social media?

I’m there. I always check my forum and website, and I do my Twitter sometimes. I don’t have a smart phone so I’m not doing it every minute and sometimes Twitter seems really cool to me and other times I don’t think anything I have to say or am thinking is gonna be interesting, and I don’t feel worthy sharing it with the world. It’s pretty mellow. I definitely keep my own stuff up and I’m active, but I’m not obsessive. I don’t really get a lot of results from it either. I sell stuff on my website and get maybe 50 orders a year. There’s people on my forum, but you have two or three people on it at one time, if that. It pretty much stalled out 1400 followers. No part of it is really growing, and it’s kind of going on. Just trying to keep in touch with people. I like the aspect of that, like if you keep in touch with people, and if they wanted to they could contact me directly. But people don’t really contact me directly.

Yeah, it seems a lot more low-key.

It’s real low-key. [Laughs]

You tend to release a lot of recordings in your signature lo-fi quality that often blurs the line between demo and finished product. How do you determine what is refined?

I feel like if the lyrics are finished, the story’s been told. Having said that, I think there’s other...I mean, now it matters less and less as time goes on. I don’t think things have to sound finished. Back in the day, in the 90s, people were pretty hung up on lo-fi and it was considered lazy. It was this “lazy” thing and it’s just like, “you’re a stoner tossing stuff off.” I never really felt that way in a lot of the stuff I did do that was lo-fi. I mean, I really spent a lot of time crafting it. But I did all of that, and I would craft these things, and people would be like “you’re just tossing this off; why don’t you do it for real?”

I did spend some time doing some new stuff for real. But in the end it doesn’t really matter because, it just doesn’t matter. If I feel like I want to do something more with something or have ambition with the way something should sound, then maybe I’ll spend more time crafting it. But if I was to do a demo or something I recorded in a hotel room and think “wow that sounds great,” then I’d probably release that. And releasing- what does that mean? Releasing is like putting it on a CD no one buys. What is releasing?

Making it public, basically.

Yeah. With the website I can make things public immediately. There’s something satisfying about that. There’s not really an end to it.

And it’s free!

It’s free; it’s there if anybody takes it.

And you really only need to know the bare essentials of recording. Do you think that limits you sometimes?

I think I do all right. I did a couple solo records the last couple years that I did quite a bit of the work at home. But if I put the stuff I did at home next to the studio, you can’t really tell the difference. On a lot of occasions, the stuff I did at home sounds better than the stuff I do in the studio. I kind of know enough. Every time I get into a situation where I’m recording, I really get into it. I delve into it and I figure out what I need to figure out. It’s always a good trip/adventure. Every time I start a record I start from scratch and I feel like I’ve never recorded anything in my life and I don’t remember any of the things I did over the last record. I start everything from scratch and kind of build it by ear, and that’s what makes the project- the adventure: learning how to do it.

Have you ever felt inspiration from cats?

Cats? Of course. I love cats.

Have your own cats played a major role in your feline inspiration?

Well, all my cats split. At least, one of them got killed by wild animals. About six years ago when we had our first kid, our cats started disappearing. They left because they weren’t the most important things anymore and most of the cats we had were strays; they were the kind of cats that adopted us. And they kind of moved on. We don’t have cats now because my wife’s allergic. She had to go to the hospital a couple times when she was pregnant, so when the cats left I thought it was safer to not endanger my wife and keep her off asthma medication because she’s breastfeeding.

That’s crucial. And it’s a good thing that your cats are independent and they can just leave on their own. You didn’t even have to ask them.

I really believe what makes cats so unique-as far as housepets go- they really can lead a dual life. I guess dogs can have that duel life if they live in the country.

They’re so dependent, though.

Yeah, they kind of want you to be the pack leader. I find that endearing about dogs, but I also find that a little... One of the reasons I don’t have a dog, is because I have a lot of empathy for dogs and I feel like they spend a lot of time very sad and expectant and I find that a hard thing to look at every day. Where as with cats, you can look at them, and they can have these supremely relaxed looks.

It’s like total indifference.

Yeah. Depending on the cat. I’ve had cats that were really emotionally dependent, and we’ve also had cats that were incredibly empathetic. Like if I was sick, one cat would always know it in the proximity of wherever you weren’t feeling well. They’re simple creatures, but they’re not. Dogs have a pretty complex emotional life. The thing I really love about cats is, you know, it’s legal to let them run around and let them out of your house- it’s legal. The relationship to human beings is so much more...


Yeah, it’s really interesting. Dogs, you can’t let them run around because they’ll fuck things up. They’ll get together and eat babies. Your family pet will a baby.

Yeah, and we don’t want that. You know how people are about killing babies.

[Laughs] Yeah.

So on your website people can submit pictures of their cats- have you gotten a lot of responses to that?

Yeah, I did initially. I made a bunch of pages of people’s cats. That was a long time ago; I had a lot of time on my hands. Now we’ve got kids at home and there’s no time to do that, but people still send me pictures which is great because I love people taking pictures of cats. It’s why I need to be looking at cats because it can be really calming.

It really is. I’ve actually done that a couple times. When I was really angry I’d look up some cat pictures, and it worked.

[Laughs] Your heart rate comes down a little bit.

Definitely, my mind shifts to more positive things. It’s a different vibe. Do you think you’d ever do an album of cat shit?

Maybe if I’m really old. I think maybe once my kids split and I feel a little senile, you know. And maybe I could really hook into some really heavy medical marijuana. Like if I was 65-70 and cats was the central theme of what I do. Sell cat related merch...[Laughs] Till I give up on all that, I don’t feel mentally feeble enough to chase my tail like that; I might put off the cat album.

It’d be really good in a time of intense writer’s block. You can always remember you’ve got that cat album on the backburner.

Sure, and probably with that being the most successful thing I’ve ever done, I can start wearing cat related clothing exclusively... and I’ll get a guitar with cat ears.

You could become a cat!

People would love that. Like in Cat Fancy magazine they’ll have an interview with me.

You can be the Grizzly Man of cats.

Exactly, that’s true. [Laughs]

Sebadoh will be playing with Mazes and Deer Meet at Headliners Music Hall on Friday, Nov 4th. Tickets are available through Headliners and Etix.com. Doors at 8PM; show starts at 9PM. 18+ with I.D.

*This article also appears at Louisville.com


Interview: Talking color with Alex Maas of the Black Angels

In a hue of red-orange...

The black alliance was broken last year when the Black Angels canceled their opening set for Black Mountain on the Dropout Boogie tour, but this Friday they make a welcome return to Headliners Music Hall, this time as a headlining act. Sludgy shoegazers Dead Meadow are set to open with Spindrift; expect to hear a dynamic of heavy psychedelia and low-key gypsy rock jams to build anticipation.

I caught up with guitarist/vocals man Alex Maas who suffered from a hernia on their previous tour, resulting in a few canceled shows including Louisville. Now in full health, Alex took some time with me to reflect on visual songwriting, black metal and describing the unknown.

When you combined your first two EPs for Another Nice Pair, were any of these older songs reworked in the process of compiling the release?

It was more of a compilation because those songs were limited presses off records. I think there’s only 1,000 copies of each, so for bigger distribution we thought, “okay a lot of people haven’t heard these songs. let’s release them. ” A lot of people were asking of them.

Your style has changed since 2005 when these were released, have you also adapted this transition when you play these older songs live?

Yeah, we have. With a song, the more you play it, the better it gets. That’s my opinion. We’re playing a little differently now.

In another interview you said that your music was a way to commune with the unknown and unexplained. What exactly has that entailed for you?

For me it’s less of a communication between the two and more our descriptions of the unknown. It’s hard to communicate with the unknown if it’s unknown, right? It’s more our way of expressing these kind of mysteries. The unknown is really interesting. You don’t know what happens when you die-- not that you have to know, or that you need to know. The unknown has always been kind of a point of inspiration for us.

Do you feel like you’ve made discoveries from creating this music that moves you?

Yeah, I think we’ve definitely pushed ourselves not to sound cheesy and pushed ourselves into different realms. Whether it be a spiritual thing, or something a lot more simple than that. When we’re experimenting with different sound, I definitely think it’s a way to time travel and kind of get lost.

You’ve coincidentally toured and have been associated with bands that also use the word “black” in their name. For the Angels, what does black mean to you?

It’s the opposite of light. [Laughs] We got our name from the Velvet Underground song “The Black Angels Death Song.” As far as touring with bands with “black” in their names- The Black Keys and Black Rebel Motercycle Club being the two off the top of my head, it was really amazing to be able to tour with those bands. We’d always been big fans of them and when the opportunity presented itself to tour with these bands for the first time, I was like “wow, awesome.” Obviously with Black Mountain as well. It wasn’t until our first tour was booked that I’m like “man, we keep playing with these Black bands.”

I know! Such a weird coincidence.

Yeah, and it honestly wasn’t like “we’re only gonna tour with these bands.”

Black to me isn’t as evil as everyone thinks. I mean, half of the world is black when there’s no light. If you think it’s a bad connotation. It’s always been a darker people color throughout literature. To me it doesn’t really have that feeling.

Speaking of color—on your song “Deer Ree Shee,” is that a tambura you used for the drone?

Yes, that’s a tambura and a sitar as well.

In classical Indian music the feeling or emotion of a song is called the rasa. Would you say that you take this same approach to writing music?

Yeah. That’s a good description of the way we write music; it’s about the feeling. We used to get a lot of slack about being a band like “oh, this is too simple, or there’s only note, maybe one or two changes...”

That’s how a lot of that classical music was, though.

Yeah, and that’s not something that we sought out to do. Simple was good. It was easy to get moved by a certain mood or certain style, like the tambura or something. Like whenever you hear [plays notes on guitar], you play these strings, and you repeat them over and over, it’s almost like the instrument is breathing. And it’s breathing inspiration and life into a potential song. And the repetitive nature of that has its own loop. It’s a tone thing, like it’s living. A lot of times the music comes and then we’re just describing the images that we hear, or the images that we see. It is connected to your limbic system, which is where all your memories and images are stored. And so it makes sense to how we make music--our band specifically. A lot of times, it’s the music first and then we’re just telling the story afterward of what the music is telling us.

Right, so it’s your interpretation of the music— more visual.

Yeah, it’s a total visual thing. Until I realized how the human body works—I was always perplexed as to how that happened—how do we write a song? People would ask us. It’s hard and different every time. [that’s what she said!] Knowing that has enabled me to go to that place and be okay feeling like “this might be nonesense, but I’m gonna say it anyway.” I make a lot of headway that way, in terms of songwriting.

Definitely, because it becomes a more natural thing and you can make it a mindstate. Which is awesome.

Yeah, and to play these songs live in front of people, you have to go back to that spot. If you don’t, you’re probably not going to be feeling it. It’s almost impossible to be into it every single time. I have a hard time with people I know seeing the same songs played over and over, so I like to keep it fresh and play a different set list every night. To me it’s more real as to where the music came from and how it’s being projected.

Do you ever get reoccurring visions of color?

Red and orange, for some reason. It’s something I’ve talked about with friends. It’s like a tinted hue of orange. I don’t know why it is or what it means, but for me those two colors...it’s almost like a sepia. A red-orange that kind of goes back and forth. I first remember seeing that when I was little, like if I was sick, everything would have this weird hue.

I know what you’re saying, like if you closed your eyes?

Yeah, it’s really tripped out. It was really strange. I remember that and I don’t know if it’s because you’re sick and your mind isn’t well--something is happening and going on in there. Whenever we’re writing music, I had that same kind of indescribable hue that hazed over. And it’s not always there, but it’s on and off.

That’s a really intense color, too.

Yeah, I remember when I was younger and had the flu, kind of hallucinating. It has a kind of eerie feeling to it. But it has a negative connotation. I think of seeing it when I was younger, and I’m like “ugh.”

We’re still on the subject of color, but moving to more rapid fire questions. I’ll give you the choice of two black things and you name your preference. Black eye vs. Black tongue?

Black eye.

Black coffee vs. black tea?

I’m a huge tea drinker, but I like black coffee. I don’t put cream in either one.

Black cats vs black girls?

Black girls

Black metal vs. black light?

Black light

Black light? So are you a raver?

[Laughs] No, I’m not a raver. I was at a couple parties when I was a teenager, but I’m not a raver. I’ve never been into black metal. I never got big metal into it at all. If the right person turned me on to it, I’d probably be into it. I’m not a huge black light fan, but I remember being at the skating rink when I was younger and I’d wear a white shirt, and it would look so awesome.

It’s really intelligent, the music they play [in black metal].

Yeah, it’s really complex.

It’s almost like a classical composition, really in-depth, or like hitting 3 notes on a scale. It never was for me. Probably didn’t have the patience or wasn’t good enough to play metal.

Yeah, for me it’s only good at the right times.

Yeah, I could totally see that.

Blackberries vs black beans?


You don’t like burritos?

I do. I like black beans, but I was mainly thinking of the antioxidant value the black beans have versus blackberries. Antioxidants over no antioxidants, I’m going to choose the antioxidants. Black metal and blacklight...So what’s the best time to listen to black metal?

Only when there’s a funky bass. Because if it’s not funky, it doesn’t do it for me.

It’s an isolated dichotomy. The funky bass would even out the note riffs of the black metal.

Yeah especially in jazzy progressive metal. I’m still slowly getting into the pool of metal because I’ve been avoiding it all these years.

Yeah, I hear you.

Black Sabbath vs Black Francis?

Frank Black is a really good songwriter, but I’d probably have to go with Black Sabbath. My sister always listened to the Pixies growing up, I do like them. But I have to say Sabbath.

Black Mountain vs Pink Mountaintops?

Ah shit, you had to throw that one in there. Pink Mountaintops. It has to do with the music for sure, because Black Mountain is more like metal and Pink Mountaintops is more like the Velvet Underground.

I’ll have to agree with you on the Pink Mountaintops. The electronic stuff [on Axis of Evol] definitely changes it up. It’s a nice break.

Chris Farley Black Sheep or killer Black Sheep?

Killer black sheep? I know of the one with Chris Farley, but is that a movie?

There’s one with Chris Farley and the other is about sheep that murder people.

Oh, that sounds awesome. But because I haven’t seen it, I’ll have to say [Chris Farley] Black Sheep.

The Black Angels play with Dead Meadow and Spindrift on Friday, Oct. 21 at Headliners Music Hall. Tickets available through ear-X-tacy and Etix.com. $15 adv/$17 day of show. Doors at 8PM, ages 18+ with I.D.

*This article also appears at Louisville.com
Photo: Flikr/DCP313


Interview: Seeking out new tastes with Maps & Atlases

Music. Math. Noodles.

The Chicago-based Maps & Atlases emerged after meeting in school at Columbia College where they were heavily inspired by the thriving arts scene around them. After releasing two EPs of noodle-heavy, spastic pop songs, their full-length debut, Perch Patchwork, took a different turn — the studio environment guided their sound down creative avenues they couldn’t have imagined. LEO caught up with singer/guitarist Dave Davison to discuss the new record and the importance of good food.

Your debut departs from the noodles of your earlier EPs; do you consider this to be the defining record for Maps & Atlases right now—or do you see yourself developing later on into something different?

From the beginning we were all sort of interested in experimenting with lots of different techniques, rhythms and aspects of music to try to be unorthodox. I think that we always wanted to write songs that were meaningful and catchy, and fun at the same time they were intellectually stimulating. I think this album is a continuation of that. The end result seemed a lot less jarring in some ways. I’m not sure exactly what we’ll still write in three years; I’m really excited to delve into that.

So, you’d say that your creative process is more of feeling things out?

Yeah, at least for Perch Patchwork, we were seeing what avenues that songs went down in the process of creating them.

Would you say that your live shows have become more improvised too?

They’re definitely calling it that. I think it’s interesting, because when we first started, the concept of ever improvising and jamming wasn’t something we would've really envisioned in the kind of show we were doing, but we loosened up a little bit.

In another interview you said all of you had an influence from 70’s psychedelic jams. For you, what was the defining record that made you want to be a musician?

I think if I had to choose an artist that made me want to be the kind of musician I am now, it would have to be David Bowie. Just because after discovering his records that my parents had when I was high school, it was all I ever grew up listening to. It just all of a sudden clicked for me in that way and really opened up a lot of different doors to me. Listening to David Bowie definitely was connecting a lot of dots in music that led me to where I am now as a songwriter and singer.

Have you ever been inspired by fine cuisine?

I totally have been. Being on tour and going to restaurants is the big highlight of going on tour for me just cus you can seek out different places. It’s kind of like how we’re able to find neighborhoods and remember how to get places, and I think in a lot of ways, we’re kind of a food centric band. A lot of our tour activities center around that. We’re mostly vegan or vegetarian band, so a lot of times we get really excited about seeking out a vegan place. I don’t necessarily write too much about food specifically, but a lot of times going in and seeking out food leads to the kind of experiences that are inspiring as opposed to a fast food restaurant on the edge of town.

So you have a pretty large palette.

Yeah, I would say so, definitely. I get mostly excited about spicy food, Thai, Indian, Ethiopian...

Maps & Atlases perform with Circa Survive and Sleeper Agent at Expo 5 on Sunday, Oct. 16. Show at 7:30PM, $20. Tickets available through ear-X-tacy and TerryHarper.com

*This is an extended interview. Read the condensed version at LEOWeekly.com
Photo: Drew Reynolds


Good news for those who buy Ben Sollee tickets

10 VIP passes are up for grabs. Get off the fence already--10 first replies are wins!

Ben Sollee w/ Vandaveer
Headliners Music Hall
10/15 | 8PM, $20 + VIP upgrade

Travelling cellist and Kentucky native Ben Sollee plays Headliners Music Hall this Friday. If you've already thrown down the cash for a ticket in advance--congratulations! You're eligible to receive a Very Important Person privilege, courtesy of the nice folks of Crash Avenue.

What does a VIP upgrade entail?
Winners receive a wristband that grants exclusive access to the Headliners Mezzanine (including the bar on the Mezzanine) throughout the evening. Revel in the moment of VIP status.

Why Ben Sollee?
You've been hearing about him for months and have never checked out a show. Why not start here?

He returns to Louisville for what's likely to be sold-out show, so it would be ideal to buy your tickets, STAT! Replies accepted until 5 PM Thursday!


Interview: Lessons with John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants

They Might Be Giants returns to Louisville to send off the last Waterfront Wednesday of the year. The band's other half, John Flansburgh, takes a moment to discuss the new record and sketchy situations.

We may not be aware, but we have all experienced They Might Be Giants in one form or another. As a child I unknowingly witnessed their work watching Tiny Toons and Malcom in the Middle and never imagined I’d be coming back to question the entity behind it all. They were still an established band long before this time and have maintained strong output of inventive art that marks them a beloved act by all audiences. Leading the forefront of the inevitable internet-music marriage, they were the first artists to self-run an online music store and release albums exclusively in MP3. The past few years have kept them involved in mostly youth culture (get ‘em while they’re young) with their last three albums directed at children. Today, the two Johns tour in support of their latest adult TMBG album in four years, Join Us, which has been received surprisingly well according to John Flansburgh.

I caught up with John to discuss music and their upcoming show at Waterfront Park, a free event hosted by WFPK in their final Waterfront Wednesday of the season. Through the thousands of interviews past, it was clear he knew how to throw one down and made good company for a relaxed conversation. Flansburgh says he’s looking forward to be back in Louisville; this time TMBG is joined by Baltimore’s J Roddy Waltson & The Business and Louisville pop posse The Deloreans. Although there probably won’t be science lessons on the set list, it shouldn’t discourage you from bringing along the kiddies anyway. It’s an awfully generous opportunity with a free event of this capacity, and could seriously handicap your credibility as a human being if you neglected the legs/nubs you were born and failed to attend. A free They Might Be Giants gig is more of a right than an opportunity; don’t waste it!

You’re going to be doing a free waterfront show here in September.

Right, right. It’ll be fun to be back in Louisville. You know, Louisville used to be very much on the circuit of cities that we played. And I’m not sure if the rock club that put them on the map closed down or…I can’t remember the name of the rectangular room we played in.

Was it Headliners? [Note: I later came to find it was Tewligan's, which is now Cahoots]

No, it wasn’t. I forget the name it was called. In fact, the name might have changed a couple times, but I remember at one point we were still touring in a van, so it must have been the early 90s. And somebody—a fan—stole a license plate off our van which was such a drag, because it was at the beginning of a month of touring. We would have t-shirts drop shipped to us every five or six days and we’d have to go to an airport to pick them up. So we’d go to a local airport in some city and pick them up wherever the drop shipping place was. And one might not know this—but they’ve done it—if you drive a van without a license plate onto an airport, they know right away. [Laughs]

Basically they tipped off a crazy set of police alarm bells. But fortunately we had paperwork from the Louisville police saying that our license plate had been stolen, but you can’t get a replacement plate until you actually get back to the state where the vehicle was registered. So, we had to wait a month. And we were driving around for a month without a license plate, so we got pulled over like a half-dozen times, which really sucked.

Wow, that’s really sketch!

Well what’s weird about it is they were, officially, our friends, you know? They were fans who were getting a souvenir, “ha-ha.” So that month was really shitty.

So, about how many interview do you think you’ve done?

Oh, I don’t know, probably a few thousand. We’ve probably done almost 2,000 shows, and we do at least an interview per show. And that’s actually probably a conservative number. I’m used to it.

The current tour is in support of your new album Join Us, and I've noticed through your Twitter feed that several of your shows have been free events. For a band of your notoriety, it seems odd you aren't asking for any kind of admission. Any reason why?

Well, we did a big free show in Brooklyn right as the album was being released and that was just a very celebratory thing. You know, we do a free show in New York and there are 10,000 people so it’s a way to celebrate the release. This radio show [WFPK] is just something that’s having a big event and we’re taking part in it. There’s nothing better than a free show; it’s a great vibe. And you kind of super-size your audience when you play a free show. You get the music out to more people, so it’s kind of a win-win situation.

What are your favorites to play live?

Well, whenever you play a super familiar song, it gets a different kind of response from the audience which is exciting. But I think on a musical level, it’s always interesting to have new songs in the show, whether they’re from the catalog or it’s an old repertoire that you brought back or brand new songs. Right now there’s a bunch of brand new songs from the album and they’re getting a very warm response which is…unusual. But it seems like people are paying a lot more attention to this record than typical. The typical thing is kind of a time delay on how audiences respond to songs. Like when they’re brand new, they tend to be kind of quiet.

Most of them don’t know or care to know about them yet.

That’s to be expected, but over time they become equally beloved. Although I have to say, this record’s getting a very different kind of response. Even the first couple times we played songs in the past couple weeks, certain new songs have just gotten a really big reaction, so it’s very exciting.

I think it might also be because your last releases have been children’s albums.

Oh, yeah. And that’s like a different audience entirely really. We don’t really mix those worlds. The stuff we do for adults is strictly for adults and what we do for kids is certainly for kids. So the shows are very distinctly different. We’re not into generating that level of confusion.

Right. So you’d take a different approach to making a kids album?

The things that are different are the things that are the same. You know, the challenge of writing a good song is always kind of there. Those things have a lot of common elements. They sort of function differently; it’s hard to say what the difference is, but I wouldn’t say they’re completely different.

Who writes more of the music/lyrics?

Well, we’re both songwriters and then we collaborate on things.

Has it varied over certain albums?

It really varies from song to song, but by large we typically just pull our efforts into the project. There’s a lot of experimentation in the way we approach collaborating. It’s not like one of us is a music guy and one of us is a lyrics guy. I would say a lot of songwriters work in sort a painterly way and a sculptural way- they kind of throw stuff out there and let it pile up, and there are people who are into editing and the subtractive kind of pruning of ideas. There’s a lot of peeling back of ideas in our work. To try to figure out how to arrange a song is always a big question for us.

TMBG has always been ahead of the curve in terms of adapting technology and alternative ways to distribute music. Where do you see this heading? Do you believe that file-sharing is a beneficial part of music's digital transition or does it do more harm than enrich?

In terms of the business of music, once you take the money out of it, it changes the talent pool. There was a time when a lot of very bright people were running record companies, because they were professionally ambitious. You know, people tend to look at the business of music from a very…they think about the artist and they kind about audiences, but they don’t think about how it functions as a business. There are advantages to having file-sharing and there’s things that are nice about artists being able to make a living. The economics right now are very different. And having been picking around this—you know, my first job was working in a record store when I was 17 years old; I’m 51 now. I’ve seen multiple formats come and go. I’ve seen generational shifts, and there was this period where. People always sentimentalize things. The truth of the matter is, in the 1950's there was a lot of crooks involved in music. A lot of those crooks kind of got pushed out by more legitimate business practices over the course of 30 years as the business got bigger and more corporate. And it’s hard to say. People talk about the 50’s like it was a glorious era, but it was an era where the only people managing bands were crooks and the people running record companies were crooks. So, how great is a business when it’s all run by crooks? I’m a little bit nervous that as the money marches out of the music business, it seems very likely that the crooks will return. But that’s just a guess. The music business is a very strange one.

This is totally on the side, but an interesting point. People are talking about schoolteachers and they’re complaining about…ah, it’s too complicated to explain. But it goes back to the idea of talent pools shifting. If you think of all the great women who are doctors, lawyers, engineers and business people- all the women in the workforce right now were doing all these amazing things. And imagine that all those women in a different generation would be teachers. Think about what a change in the talent pools for teachers it is. Just generationally. In one generation, it’s gone from being teaching and nursing were the professions of women and now women are everywhere in the business world. If you’re a teacher, and they change the culture of teaching. Because you just don’t have the best and the brightest in your work pool. And I have to say, I remember when there was a time when everybody’s kid wanted to be an intern at the record company. And when that changed, I really felt like, oh, music isn’t the business of future.

I also noticed your music video output has slowed since ’92.

Well, we’ve done three full length DVDs for kids in the past five years. There all like an hour long animated music video collection. MTV doesn’t really exist anymore. We’ve done lots of music video-type things, but the old fashioned music video doesn’t have as many outlets.

It’s definitely losing its value.

Yeah. And the shift in outlets and value kind of made the budgeting a really confusing thing. If you’re an established band and you try to make a rock video, people immediately want to attach a zero to the budget where it might not normally be because your presence makes it a bigger deal. But still, it’s a world of $5,000 rock videos now. It’s not a world of $50,000 rock videos and it doesn’t really make sense for us spend a whole ton of money on videos when there’s no place for them to get played. And they don’t hold people’s interest that much.

How did you get a spot on Xavier: Renegade Angel?

Oh, I’m friends with the people who put that show together and they asking if I could come in and do a thing. It’s very crazy.

What are your thoughts on the show? Did you have a fun experience?

It was very, very strange. I spent like an hour screaming at the top of my lungs. The production company that does those shows [PFFR], they also did Wonder Showzen, and they’re very creative people with loopy ideas. They’re neighbors of mine; just nice people.

It’s great; it really is. Do you have any current side-projects in the works?

No, we’re going on the road for six months, so my side-project is gonna be eating chicken wings at three in the morning.

They Might Be Giants will be performing with J Roddy Waltons & The Business and the Deloreans at Waterfront Park on Sept. 21st. Admission is FREE and all ages.

*This article also appears at Louisville.com.
Photo: Lastfm/TMBG photo album


Interview: Slug of Atmosphere and the Family Vacation

Atmosphere stops at Headliner's this Wednesday, Sept. 14th on vacation with labelmates Blueprint and Evidence. Sean Daley, the other half of Atmosphere, speaks about Eddie Murphy, his six day stint in Deep Puddle Dynamics and crybabies.

With Atmosphere as the driving force behind the movement of Twin Cities hip hop, Minneapolis breeds more than just bodies of water. It plays host to a thriving music scene of issue conscious rapppers and those willing to put their stories out there in a style defined by its candor and eccentricity. Under the umbrella of Rhymesayers Entertainment—a hip hop label founded by Atmosphere, Brent Sayers and Musab Saad—these artists are given a central hub to release records. However, you won’t catch them hanging around the office for a grip as they are currently on vacation with labelmates Blueprint and Evidence. Louisville will be one of the last handful of stops left on this excavation, a journey that began in Chicago at Lollapalooza and eventually brought them full circle around the nation. It was a really scattershot circle, though.

The tour is named after a signature hand gesture devised by Slug’s son, a gesture so commonly occurred that they decided to put it on the cover of their new record. Following up on the facts of life within 2009’s When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, things begin to get really slow. Usually this fixes everything; imagine any song with a beat and slow it down…that’s TENSE. Now, imagine the flow over top of this track spoken without much aggressive emphasis…that’s DYNAMICS. It doesn’t make much sense compared to the hip hop standards of violent subject matter and themes, but Atmosphere have been managing this sub-standard for a while. Piano trails littered the loungy, low-key nature of their last record, but now they’ve exchanged their coffee banter vibes with slithering psych-rock influenced platforms that conjure up enough texture to create its own natural system. In terms of where in the atmosphere this layer lies, it's the sub-stratosphere.

I didn't get into the scientific side of their music, but I feel some spark from Slug's very blatant answers. My spirit was crushed to hear Slug dismiss Deep Puddle Dymanics as a joke and was equally confused as to whether rewriting Eddie Murphy's "Boogie in Your Butt" is actually an ironic thing to do. I found him to be an extremely sincere guy serious with a respect for all art and the different purposes they serve.

I’m conducting this interview in the back kitchen of a head shop in Louisville. Where’s the strangest place you’ve done an interview?

I don’t know if I’ve ever done one in any strange places. Usually it’s over the phone, so it’s somewhere convenient.

That’s good. I’ve only seen a couple video interviews of you. I remember in one of them you said you became interested in writing hip hop from rewriting a really bad Eddie Murphy song…? Do you think if you chopped and screwed Kenny G it’d be any good?

I doubt it.

Is there no way of making it good?

No, I think it’s because the only reason someone would chop ‘n screw a Kenny G song would to be ironic, and I don’t think irony makes for very good art.

So you genuinely loved the Eddie Murphy song?

Which Eddie Murphy song-“Big Ol’ Butt?” “Put It In the Butt?” Yeah, that’s a great song- are you kidding me?

I’ve never heard it, but it’s definitely on the list to check out. (Note: I later came to find it’s titled “Boogie in your Butt,” something Eddie Murphy was not down with in the song.)

How does working in Atmosphere right now differ from your former rap group Deep Puddle Dynamics?

Deep Puddle Dyanmics was never a group. It was a thing, a side project that we did in 1998, but I’ve been in Atmosphere since 1989. Atmosphere has always been my group that I’ve been in. And then, a couple of dudes got together and said hey, let’s do this side project called Deep Puddle Dynamics and so we did that, and it was just a one-off. We only did one show because we all live in different parts of the country, so it was never really a group; it was just more like a recording project we did one time.

I meant that it was a group of people and collective effort.

Deep Puddle was never really work though, I don’t really know how to describe it. It was four guys who, for one week, smoked a whole bunch of weed and made a record. And so there’s really not a whole lot. Whereas Atmosphere is more like a machine, you know: a touring machine, recording machine. With Atmosphere I’ve put out about 7 official records, but we’ve put out about 15 records realistically. And Deep Puddle was something that lasted for six days. That’s what I’m saying, Deep Puddle wasn’t really a group, it was just a…a joke.

Well… I thought it was great.

Deep Puddle? Huh. That’s interesting.

I listen to it very often, actually.

You do?

Yeah, to this day.

Wow- right on, right on.

I just wanted to throw a question out there- I was genuinely curious.

I guess if I had to say it was different, I’d say that with Deep Puddle we didn’t really think about what we were doing. We were just doing whatever happened. We were under the pressure of time and six days together to make a record and so we just kinda did what happened without giving it too much thought. Whereas with Atmosphere, everything we do is very thought out; there’s a point to everything we do with Atmosphere.

I guess that’s why I like it- imperfect sound.


But with your newer stuff I noticed it’s becoming more positive- how have your audiences been responding so far?

So far, so good. Every time we make a record people have a tendency to go, “well I don’t know. I’ll really have to listen to it a couple times.” And then usually six months later they go, “wow this is great.” And I think this record is no different. When it first came out, everybody was like “well, it’s a little different, I don’t know,” and now that we’ve been out here for four months on the record everybody’s been starting to come around to it. I think people have this tendency to think they know us, or they know me. And so whenever I do something they think is outside of me, it’s like, they don’t know how to deal with it. They just all want me to be that guy that’s rapping about Lucy, and I haven’t mentioned Lucy on a record since 2002. So, Lucy’s been gone for about ten years. So when I quit doing it, cause I knew I had to move on and do something else—you can’t keep doing the same shit for more than two years, otherwise you’re a sellout—so, when I moved on…it’s like, audiences don’t move on. Things are timeless. Somebody today is hearing that Lucy shit for the first time ever, so they don’t put a time stamp on it. So you know, it’s more about when you take it in or how you take it in. For me, it’s more like it’s a straight line. Not a circle. And I guess that’s how it is for artists; they live on a straight line, however, for those of us that appreciate art you know, it’s circular, it’s a cycle.

Among your influences, what is the constant drive in your life?

Just my surroundings- the people that I’m surrounded by. I usually just steal my inspiration from my immediate surroundings.

What are your feelings on file-sharing? Do you believe it's beneficial to the music community or does more harm than good?

I don’t think I’d call it either; it’s just a way of the world, you know? It’s just the way things are today. When I was a kid we used to make mix tapes and share music with each other. People are always going to share music; that’s part of why music exists. I think that artists are being crybabies about not making any money because of file-sharing, because 100 years ago before the music industry existed, you would be lucky to get a pillow to lay your head on a bowl of soup for being able to sing a song. And then somebody invented this big scam called the music industry and a bunch of people got rich. Now, those rich people aren’t making as much money than they used to and they’re being little crybabies about it.

When you're writing, are you attentive to the pronunciation in how it affects the song in a sculptural way, or do you focus more on the words and their meanings?

I’d say, both.

Do you ever take breaks from writing or is it always a constant thing for you?

I take a break when I’m on tour.

Have you been through Louisville before?

Many, many times.

Any distinct memories?

None that I would talk about publically. I do like the airplane shoved into the side of the hill over there at Headliner’s.

Atmosphere will be performing with Blueprint and Evidence at Headliners Music Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 14th. Tickets are $20, available through ear-X-tacy, Headliners box office and Etix.com. Doors at 8PM. 18+ with I.D.

*This article also appears at Louisville.com
Photo:Lastfm/Slug photo album