Archive for the ‘interview’ Category

Incoming: Birthday Suits

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Minneapolis-based power duo the Birthday Suits will light up The Horned Hand Monday (8 p.m., $2-5 suggested donation) with their explosive live show, a wild and kinetic spectacle that has drawn comparisons to Mt. Punkmore acts like the Ramones and the Stooges. Birthday Suits aren’t quite punk, though; certainly the energy and tempo is there, but Japanese imports Hideo Takahashi (guitar) and Matthew Kazama (drums, like this) trade more in big, hooky garage-rock riffs that erupt like solar flares and rumble like thunder. These two dudes know how to make a racket.

Earlier this week, The Bulletin’s Rachael Rees emailed some questions to Takahashi, and he emailed back some answers. Here’s her report, followed by a video that showcases Birthday Suits’ strengths.

Matthew Kazama, left, and Hideo Takahashi are Birthday Suits

Guitarist and vocalist Hideo Takahashi said audiences might not like the sound of Birthday Suits’ music, but he guarantees they’ll feel it was worth paying to watch them play thanks to their physical energy on stage.

In an email interview, Takahashi described the band’s music as “loud music you won’t like,” but someone must like it; Takahashi and drummer Matthew Kazama have toured across the globe in 2011, from Los Angeles to Spain.

The duo is known and sometimes criticized for placing an emphasis on touring rather than spending time in the studio. Since 2005 the band has released two albums — “Cherry Blue” in 2005 and “The Minnesota: Mouth To Mouth” last year — totaling 37 minutes of music.

“You can write good songs and people will tell you they’re good songs,” Takahashi said. “But if you put out good shows, right away people would tell you to your face it was good with all kinds of expression.”

Takahashi said he’s personally inspired by Japanese pop music, old school punk like the Dead Kennedys and Japanese garage-punk such as Teengenerate.

He admitted it’s challenging to write songs without the second guitar and bass often found in rock bands, but said it has channeled the duo’s creativity, ultimately giving them more freedom when writing songs.

“We write songs together,” he said. “The songs I sing I write the lyrics for, the songs (Kazama) sings he does.”

Takahashi said he started Birthday Suits with Kazama when their previous band Sweet J.A.P. fell apart.

“Sweet J.A.P. ended because one of us had different opinions about the band, ” Takahashi said. “I think less chefs in the kitchen worked better.”

Farewell: JoAnna Lee heads to Texas, but not before playing two last shows this weekend

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Photo courtesy Lance Hardy Photography

JoAnna Lee has been a constant presence on the Bend music scene over the past several years, but on Monday, she’s loading up her car and moving to Austin, Texas to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter.

No surprise, though: She’s gigging until the very last minute. Lee will perform at 7 tonight at Parrilla Grill (635 N.W. 14th St., Bend) and again at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday at Bend WinterFest (in the Old Mill District), just hours before she points her wheels toward the Lone Star State.

“I’m packing up my old 1988 Honda that I’ve had forever with whatever I can fit in it,” she said Thursday, “and that’s pretty much my shoes and my guitars.”

Her decision to relocate is a classic story of chasing the dream. She has never been to Austin, but heard great things about its vaunted music scene, did a little online research, and decided that’s where she is supposed to be.

She’s heading south with no place to live and no job lined up, plus some money saved up from her various jobs in Central Oregon.

“I’m going on a feeling,” she said. “Something in my heart said, ‘This is where you need to be.’”

Lee, 25, said she’s been thinking about moving away from Bend for a while. She moved here with her family early in high school, and began playing out not long after that. Over the past five years, her sturdy alto and sultry mix of soul, R&B and acoustic pop has made her one of the more radio-friendly artists in town, as well as an in-demand live performer and a regular vocal presence on songs by the local hip-hop group Cloaked Characters. (Check out the shimmery video for her song “Sunshine” by clicking here.)

Her musical ability stretches back further. Lee learned to play guitar at age 11 when her mom showed her the chords to a few Beatles songs. Her family “has a lot of soul,” she said, and is full of music fans; Stevie Wonder’s music was a constant presence during Lee’s childhood, and his style is an influence on her sound. More recently, she’s found inspiration in neo-soul artists like Alicia Keys, Adele and Joss Stone.

And so, JoAnna Lee has had a comfortable spot in the local music scene for a while. And a comfortable spot is ideal if you’re happy being comfortable.

It’s not so ideal for someone who wants to stretch and grow and strive for something better.

“I feel like a lot of things have grown around me, and yet I’m still in the same place,” she said about her life in Bend. “My friends are having kids and getting married and settling down, and … I just noticed I’m still playing these gigs, which is great. I love Bend and I love that I can walk anywhere and see someone I know, but … I need experiences. and when I’m frozen in this spot where I feel like nothing’s really happening around me, I feel like I have nothing to write about.

“So part of taking this leap of faith is to grow in my music and my songwriting, and to take it somewhere,” she continued. “I really want my music to go as far as I can possibly push it.”

Lee calls music her “true love” and she feels like all the signs in her life — her faith, her relationships, her creative muse — are pointing toward Texas. And she’s not about to turn away from the opportunity.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve known that my heart and my passion is with my music. That’s truly what gets my heart moving,” she said. “When you know that you’re supposed to do great things, but yet great things aren’t happening, you know that you need to make a change to make them happen.

“I’m ready to make this happen for me and challenge myself. I want the challenge,” she continued. “I have to do this. This is something that I’m going to be able to look back on and say, ‘Gosh, JoAnna, if you hadn’t done that, you wouldn’t be where you’re at today.’”

Lee’s plan upon arriving in Austin is pretty loose: Get a job that will give her the time and brain-space to focus on music. Visit some venues, press kit in hand. Play open mics. Meet people. Make connections. Eventually, she hopes to find some folks and form a band, and she wants to get back to work on her long-in-the-works album.

If it sounds daunting, well, it is. But Lee doesn’t show it.

“My biggest thing I’m nervous about is my car making it,” she said with a laugh. “And even if my car breaks down, you know what’s gonna happen? I’m gonna hop on the next bus and then get there.

Tonight: X-Ray Press

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Michael Pasuit, left, and Paurl Walsh are the core members of X-Ray Press.

Tonight marks the end of Empty Space Orchestra’s four-Friday residency at Silver Moon Brewing & Taproom, and one of the cool things about the run has been the opening acts: four different bands, all very different, all good.

This evening’s opener is my favorite of the four. X-Ray Press is an experimental rock band out of Seattle with a brand new album called “UVB-76″ that takes me right back to working in college radio in the middle of the country during math-rock‘s heyday. “UVB-76″ is a complex chunk of punk/rock/jazz/etc., where time signatures switchback more than the road over Mackenzie Pass. It’s not easily digestible music, but it’s built to challenge ears and kick down genre walls.

All that said, these dudes also have a knack for building up twisty, turning tension, and then breaking it with a sliver of totally accessible melody. Like, check out the song below; the first 1:50 or so sounds like weird, robotic worms writhing in a bed of guitar strings and effects pedals, devouring each other in unorthodox time. Right around that point, though, X-Ray Press shifts into Grizzly Bear mode, singing a capella harmonies for a spell before one of the guys takes over with soaring lead vocals. Play or download it:

Download X-Ray Press, “The Terms (In the Colors of Our DNA)”

To find out a little more about this band, I sent ‘em a few questions, and they were nice enough to send back a few answers via e-mail. Here’s that interview, slightly edited:

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Top 5 things Weinland can check off their “Someday that will be us” list, by Adam Shearer

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

When the excellent Portland indie-folk band Weinland played in Bend a couple times last year, I covered those appearances extensively; see here and here and here to get up to speed. Tonight, the band returns to town, sharing a bill with Laura Veirs at the Tower Theatre for the final PDXchange Program show of the year. Find details on the show (and Veirs) here.

Because it’s been a while since we chatted, I wrote Weinland frontman Adam Shearer and asked him what’s been going on with the band. Turns out they’ve been quite busy, with a bunch of exciting things happening, especially recently. So here’s a list of the top five things Weinland can check off their “Someday that will be us” list, as submitted by Mr. Shearer himself.

• Weinland Was Featured on NPR
Weinland was recently featured on NPR’s All Songs Considered. NPR selected our version of Led Zeppelin’s “Hey Hey What Can I Do” for their FM broadcast. Check it out by clicking here. The track comes from the new Zeppelin tribute entitled “The Land of Ice and Snow,” which also features Laura Veirs, M. Ward, Chris Walla, and many more.

• Weinland’s Music is on MTV
Weinland was recently featured on one of MTV’s most popular programs, “The World of Jenks.” The show featured our track “I Feel Wasted” from “Breaks in The Sun” in their third episode. Fingers crossed: They just requested two more songs and we’re hoping for more news of this nature. Read what we had to say about it on our blog.

• Weinland Played with The Decemberists
Ya, we did! And it was awesome. Just to make sure we made the most of it, we also covered “Carry On My Wayward Son” by Kansas, and the security guards told us that they all agreed we were their favorite band … but only because we paid tribute to Kansas. :)

• Weinland Is Going to SXSW
Last year Weinland was invited to showcase at the 2010 South by Southwest Music Festival. SXSW is one of the largest music festivals in the country and a big feather in the cap. But we couldn’t go, because I (Adam) had a baby on the way and that baby was due the last day of the festival … which happens in Austin … which is too far from Portland (when you have a baby on the way). My son is now a happy 7-month-old and Weinland just received an advanced invitation to showcase at next year’s festival (March 2011). We’ll see you in Austin!

• Weinland Has Started Their Best Record Yet.
Seriously, we’re really excited about it. We can’t say anything else about it now, but just know that Weinland is gearing up for a big year!

Weinland has a Facebook page, and you probably do, too, so go be their buddy by clicking here. Then go see them tonight, with Laura Veirs, at the Tower Theatre in Bend. Show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $15 plus fees, available through the venue.

Turning the page: Slug on Atmosphere’s new babies, new music

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Atmosphere: Ant, left, and Slug.

Sean Daley picks up the phone ready to talk.

You can just tell. The guy –- who you may know as Slug, founding member and principal creative force of veteran indie-rap stars Atmosphere –- is a pretty good talker at any given moment. But on this day, he’s relaxing on his back porch on a sunny, family-filled day in Minneapolis.

“I’m f––in’ awesome,” Daley says. “My little brother came over earlier to visit the new baby. We’ve got a four-month-old here.”

I’ve called Daley to talk about music, of course. After all, Atmosphere is one of the most successful and longest running acts in underground rap, formed in the early 1990s and churning out inventive, intelligent and introspective hip-hop ever since, thanks to Slug’s mic skills and the clever production work of his longtime partner in rhyme, Anthony “Ant” Davis. The two are part of a team that founded the influential Rhymesayers Entertainment record label, which has released their critically acclaimed and increasingly commercially successful albums (2008′s “When Life Gives You Lemons” debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200). They’re also relentless tourhounds who’ve played all over the world and will roll into Bend’s Midtown Ballroom on Tuesday night (see “If you go” at the bottom of this post).

All good reasons to talk about music. Another: Atmosphere just quietly and unexpectedly released a surprise double EP called “To All My Friends, Blood Makes the Blade Holy,” the cover of which features four hands, three holding cocktails, and one holding a baby bottle filled with milk.

Indeed, Daley’s life is all about that baby these days, and in this interview, he spoke with another guy (me!) who loves to talk and is currently looking after a four-month-old kid. So, for all those reasons to talk about music, we spent 75 percent of our time on the phone talking about babies. Here’s an edited transcript of that conversation:

Frequency: In addition to your new baby, you also have a 16-year-old son. That’s a pretty big age gap!

Slug: I didn’t know I was going to have another one, honestly. But then two years ago, my wife was like, ‘Let’s have a kid.’ I was hesitant at first. I had all these reasons why I wouldn’t have another kid. Any excuse you could think of: I’m too busy. I’m too selfish. The carbon footprint of having a child. And then she said something to me that clicked. She said, ‘If you really want to make the world a better place, you’ve got to have kids and raise ‘em right. You’ve got to balance out all of the idiots that are having kids.

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Say farewell to DJ Mud tonight

Friday, August 27th, 2010

I know all you Frequency readers pick up the print version of The Bulletin every day, so you probably saw this in today’s GO! Magazine. But just in case: Local DJ Mud (aka Mike Graham) is moving to Portland very, very soon, which is a bummer for Central Oregon’s dance-floor denizens, but great for him.

Bend is a town with several cool, creative DJs, but I’ve always connected with Mud’s work more than anyone else’s. Not sure why; I just dig his aesthetic: dark, murky, minimalist, slightly agitated. If you’re unfamiliar, he’s got lots of music available online. Start here, with his newest mix, called “Let Tomorrow Be”:

Mud – Let Tomorrow Be by mudsimple

You can grab tons of other stuff at his Soundcloud account, and here are two other mixes that I posted last year. (He’s also the man who made this classic track, don’t ya know.)

OK, enough screen-gazing. You need to go and say goodbye to Mud and dance, once more, to his sound. Tonight is the official Farewell Mud party, starting around 10 p.m. at The Blacksmith (211 N.W. Greenwood Ave., Bend). On hand will be Mud’s old buddy Mosley Wotta, hosting and toasting and doing what he do.

If’n your interested, I sent Mud a few questions (yes, they’re the same as from this post … I’m lazy) and he sent me back a few answers:

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Also tonight: Brothers Young CD-release show at Parrilla Grill

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

I really dig Brothers Young. The Portland-based band — made up of three brothers (Dustin, Dillon and Michael Young) who grew up on Ithaca Avenue in Bend, plus three of their closest friends — played one of the best sets at last year’s Bend Roots Revival, and you can read my thoughts on that show here.

Tonight, they return to Parrilla Grill (7 p.m., $5, Rural Demons open) to kick off a tour of the West in support of their fine new EP “Good People,” out next week on Emeritus Records. The title track is an excellent example of the Brothers Young sound: light, lilting, lovely indie-folk full of earworm melodies and mesmerizing unison vocals. I love unison vocals! Too few bands do that these days. Take a listen to “Good Deeds,” and download an MP3 of it if you want:


Download Brothers Young, “Good Deeds”

Given that Brothers Young has strong ties to Bend, I thought it’d be fun to ask ‘em a few questions. Dillon Young came through with answers:

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Bid adieu to The Dirty Words tonight

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Bend’s indie-rock community will take a big hit in the next week or so when the four fellows in The Dirty Words relocate to Portland.

David Clemmer, Mike Chastain, Aaron Poplin and Scott Page have played a whole bunch of shows around town in the past five years, and they’ve done so with style. They got together when Clemmer met Chastain through a local theater production in 2004 (see my full feature on the band here) and they’ve been rocking constantly and consistently ever since. Clemmer writes songs that drip with passion, emotion and wit, and his three bandmates ably inject those songs with a healthy helping of kinetic energy. Think Modest Mouse, but with plenty of melody in place of all that silly barking.

Anyway, the Words believe Portland will be more fertile ground for their band, and they’re probably right. But before they go, they’ll play a farewell show tonight at Silver Moon Brewing & Taproom (24 N.W. Greenwood Ave., Bend). Doors will open around 8 p.m., the show will start around 9 p.m., and it’s $5 to get in. It’s also Clemmer’s birthday, so come prepared to party.

David Clemmer was kind enough to answer a few questions from the Frequency question machine about the band’s impending move and future plans. Read on …

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Tonight: Poison Control Center at Mountain’s Edge (with MP3 and interview)

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

So, yeah. Lots to do in town tonight for the music junkies. And many of your options are good: The White Buffalo brings his full band to Silver Moon. The Aggrolites are gonna dirty-reggae up the Domino Room. Kelly Joe Phelps and Corinne West at Angeline’s in Sisters.

This is where I implore you to at least consider seeing Iowa-based indie rockers the Poison Control Center at Mountain’s Edge (fka Timbers South, in that strip mall by the Goodwill). I already told you why in last week’s GO! Magazine; click here to read that. Today, more goodies to grab your attention:

1) PCC’s 2010 album “Sad Sour Future” is a sprawling monument to the joys of underground rock ‘n’ roll; it buzzes and jangles and stumbles, finding all kinds of nooks to explore within the well-worn territory of indie rock. Think Pavement’s “Wowee Zowee” on Ritalin. Here’s one of the best tracks, made available by the band for you to download:

Download Poison Control Center, “Being Gone”

2) I didn’t have the newspaper space or the time to call the PCC for an interview last week. Now, though, I kind of wish I’d made it happen. Four of the guys — the ones not driving the van from Seattle to Portland, I’d guess — took the time to answer some of my silly questions via e-mail, and they seem like awesome dudes who love exclamation marks! Here’s our digital convo, with some light editing done by yours truly:

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Interview: M. Ward of She & Him

Friday, May 28th, 2010

M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel are She & Him. Photo by Sam Jones.

On Sunday evening, indie-pop-rockers She & Him — otherwise known as actress Zooey Deschanel and musician M. Ward — will co-headline Bend’s Les Schwab Amphitheater with Band of Horses. (Grab today’s GO! Magazine to read a feature story on Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell. Or click here.)

She & Him released their sophomore album, “Volume Two,” on March 23 through Merge Records. Although Ward is a talented singer and songwriter in his own right, She & Him is more about showcasing Deschanel’s talent — other than acting, in this case. She wrote the lyrics and music for “Volume Two,” while Ward produced the record. Via e-mail, Bulletin reporter David Holley asked Ward a few questions about the album and Sunday’s show.

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