Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Interview with Brain F≠

Sleep Rough LP Cover
Brain F≠ are awesome.  They're a punk band from Charlotte, NC on Sorry State Records and they rock.  They have great lyrics combined with a huge amount of energy and an awesome trade-off between Nick and Elise. The members in the band are from North Carolina and New York pretty much divided in half.  They've been in other bands for a long time, but this new album "Sleep Rough" that came out in 2011 has become a North Carolina favorite and one of my favorite Sorry State releases of that year (what the hell am I saying, they're all my favorite). Here is their tumblr

They begin their album with a quote from Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, an awesome book about World War 2/The Cold War/Drugs/A lot of other things.  Pynchon's awesome.  But the first line in that book is incredible.  "A Screaming Comes Across The Sky."  It notes the sound of a V-2 rocket, which travels faster than the speed of sound.  The scary rush and bang comes after the city catches on fire.  I don't know how applicable it is to Brain F≠, since they're a band and not a bomb, though they have a great loud sound and a lot of fun.  I've never been able to see them live, but I wish I had.  This is them live

They're working on a new album currently, which should be coming out on Sorry State/Grave Mistake and is going to be awesome.

I decided to interview them because I like them a lot.  Here's what they said.

Jordan:  When did you guys start the band Brain f≠?  
Brain F≠:We started in late 2009, september or so. Our first show was in November at the Milestone (best venue in the state) with Double Negative, Grids, & Moenda.

Jordan:  Who are the members of the band?  
Brain F≠:  Elise sings, NIck sings and plays guitar, Eddie plays bass, and Bob plays drums.
No Caption Needed But This

Jordan:  What did the name Brain Flannel come from? 
Brain F≠:  Divine intervention after weeks of thinking and a dissertation's worth of hand-scrawled pages of band names. Agle and the Squale Bagels was a close second.

Jordan:  What's up with the logo? 
Brain F≠:  It's shorthand for "lannel". 

Jordan:  Did you guys play in bands before? 
Brain F≠:  Nick was/is in Logic Problem and Joint Damage, Bob was in Grids (and is now in Infección and Double Negative), Ed was in Yardwork, Elise wasn't.

Jordan:  What's the scene in Charlotte like? 
Brain F≠:  It's very enjoyable and very diverse - Paint Fumes are probably the busiest right now, Nö Pöwer are the rawest, Andy the Doorbum is the realest, and all their crowds intermingle. Great Architect is one of the craziest assemblages of brilliance you could ever wish for. We all go to each others' shows - there isn't much segregation between genres or whatever, you know? Lots of good folks. 

Jordan:  What is a typical Brain f≠ show like? 
Brain F≠:  "Let's have a shambles."

Jordan:  How did you get in touch and work with Sorry State records? 
Brain F≠:  Heavy amounts of blackmail. You'd be surprised what kind of trouble a fixation on the live-action Tick series can get someone into. 

Jordan:  How's the new album coming along?
Brain F≠:  We are waiting for the final mixes. And we have to name it. But it's pretty close to being a final product. Unless the above comment blew our agreement, it's gonna be a joint release between Sorry State and Grave Mistake again.

Jordan:  What separates the new album from the 1st one? 
Brain F≠:  This one is completely in English.

Jordan:  How do you go about recording?   
Brain F≠:  Do you have a certain studio or do you prefer home recording? Our tape was recorded (mostly live) by Charlotte luminary Henry Thibodaux White at Yauhaus. "So Dim" and half of "Restraining Order" were recorded (not live) by Rick Contes at Birthwave (at the time was our practice space/his house). Our version of "Jesus & Tequila" on the Rich Ivey-curated Dick's Picks 4006 tape was recorded by our very own Edwin Jamal Schneider in our practice space. Both albums were recorded by William Evans (of Whatever Brains) - Sleep Rough in Elise's garage, The Real New Brain F≠ LP in the Whatever Brains secret underground volcano lair. Lots of cigarettes.

Jordan:  Which bands helped influence your sound?   
Brain F≠:  Double Negative

Jordan:  Do you have any plans to tour in the near future? 
Brain F≠:  We plan to visit both the west coast and our European motherlands after the new record comes out. We'll play NYC and NC (where we're evenly distributed between) sporadically until then.

Jordan:  Have you played shows with any bands in particular that were really fun? 
Brain F≠:  White Lung/Nü Sensae at Sewercide Mansion (RIP) was one of the best shows we've ever played, the Hopscotch show and aftershow (with Rich Ivey as a human set list) was the most affectionate and probably most fun, and the best out of town was probably with GG King & Cops at 529 in Atlanta. That GG King set was one of the best things we'd ever seen. New Year's at yauhaus this year was really great, too.

Jordan:  What are some of the band's favorite albums of 2011? 
Brain F≠:  TV Ghost, GG King, Total Control, Escroto de Rata, Shitty Limits final outing,.. Whatever Brains (and the new one is even better)

Jordan:  When can we expect those sick t-shirts on your facebook page to come out? 
Brain F≠:  they are available now, but I think we're almost out. Write us at brainflannel at gee male

Monday, May 21, 2012

Double Negative Plays 2201 W Huron in Chicago

Hey SportsFans,

Double Negative, Triangle Area Royalty, and Hardcore Punk Royalty, are playing a sweet house show tonight with Sea of Shit, and a couple other rad bands.  It's gonna be an amazing time.  Dig crowd-surfing, beer drinking and punk rock?  This is right up your alley.

Sorry State Records just put out their newest 7" called "Hits Volume 3" and I haven't had an opportunity to pick it up, but you can listen to the Sorry State Bandcamp found HERE.  It's probably gonna be available at the show tonight for ultra cheap, in comparison to ordering online through the website with shipping.  I know Daniel Lupton, the mind behind SSR is going to be touring with these guys so it's going to be a great show.

Double Negative is incredibly interesting.  It's like hardcore confusion as they say, meaning that their vocalist played in an indie band signed to Merge Records before he joined the hardcore scene, and that band was around in the 90's.  The band has some amazing guitar lines and the instrumentation is all on point.  I've seen them three times, opening for the likes of Ty Segall and Off! and Trash Talk and they were great each time.  Definitely a well-recommended group to check out.

They're playing a DIY house show at 2201 W Huron in Chicago today and it's going to be awesome.  Not sure of the price, but I imagine somewhere in the realm of $5.  it's going to be great.  You should go if you consider yourself a good or even mediocre person.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Interview (Sort of) with John Wesley Coleman

John Wesley Coleman With His Fun-Time Guit-Box
At first I was pissed when I got Wes' response to my interview questions.  I sent him an e-mail after seeing him at the Duke Coffeehouse after we had hung out for a while and talked about writing (I'm an aspiring novelist and short-story writer) as well as drank a few (too many) beers.  It was also the show where I met Dan McGee from Spider Bags, which was a blessing in itself because he's awesome, a great musician, and a real pal.  Anyway, Wes and I hung for a bit behind the mercy table slamming back Yuenglings and I brought up the possibility of an interview and he said he'd be down.

He didn't respond to my first e-mail.  But about a month later I e-mailed him again and asked if he were interested.  He responded, in what would be typical fashion, "shoot me some questions. word up."  So I did.  He got back to me fast.  A little too fast, actually.

They are a bunch of very short responses.  At first, I was a little annoyed, but then I started looking at them a little more and listening to his records.  They're pretty fucking perfect answers.  Like.  I really think they're good.  I don't know if this counts so much as an interview, as much as it is a portrait of an enigmatic thrasher rocker who likes to have a good time.  Regardless, I think it's actually good shit, even though I was a little annoyed at first.

The Golden Boys with the Fun Times
John Wesley Coleman is out of Texas and he plays in The Golden Boys as well as has a really great solo act that has some punk influence, some country influence and some other weird shit in it.  A little Bukowski.  A little Burroughs perhaps.  Definitely beat influenced, at least in my regard.  It's fun.  He puts on a great show and is definitely worth checking out.  You can get a JWC album and Golden Boys album HERE or dig the new Golden Boys record HERE.

I don't know how to define this interview, but it's fucking funny.  Unfortunately, I can't say that he speaks about it better than me haha, but here's the interview nonetheless.

Jordan:  What do you do outside of making music?

JWC:  Skateboard, thrash

Jordan:  Is there a certain lifestyle that has allowed you to record what you do?

JWC:  Make pizza, thrash

Jordan:  What influences the music you make?

JWC:  The Streets

Jordan:  When did you start writing music and recording?

JWC:  elementary school i was writing songs with piano, 14 i was writing with guitar

Jordan:  Do you feel that there is something in your solo work that makes it much different from Golden Boys stuff?

JWC:  Party

Jordan:  What characterizes the subjects you tackle as a solo musician?

JWC:  Uhmmm...party blues skate rock

Jordan:  When did the Golden Boys start?

JWC:  About 9 years ago

Jordan:  How does that whole songwriting process go?

JWC:  random.. after a few bong riffs or tequila shots..hunting trips..mushrooms

Jordan:  You said you were a writer the last time we hung out.  What all do you write?

JWC:  i write total trash ..made up bs that makes me laugh

JWC as a Cartoon With a Funtime Donkey Cartoon
Jordan:  Is there a general theme in what you write other when it isn't music?

JWC:  naw ..maybe about about my cat and dog and girlfriend and the streets

Jordan:  Which writers do you like to read?

JWC:  don't really read that much

Jordan:  Do you have a stance on the importance of reading?

JWC:  do it!!! better than video games

Jordan:  I've been seeing that you're a skater?  How's that been?

JWC:  ripping up the old body

Jordan:  Are bands pretty close in the Denton area?  What's that like?  Do you all hang out much?

JWC:  dento 4 hours away. it rules..good times..close connections from here and there..transit rats! punk rats!

Jordan:  What bands are you into now?

JWC:  Crazy Spirit, local bands,.., jazz, Quinn galaviz,

Jordan:  What's up for the future in JWC III?

JWC:  skateboarding Bowls, laser flips

Jordan:  Anything else?

JWC:  Enjoy your summer. buy vinyl, 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wax Idols Interview

Wax Idols are a band that often get categorized as Riot Grrrl, but they're a lot more than that.  The lead songstress Hether Fedewa doesn't like to categorize things by gender.  It makes it hard as a man, who literally will never be able to empathize with a woman (but then we get into a tough area, don't we?)  I personally don't believe in gender.  I believe in individuals, but whatever.  Categories are stupid but it seems like our political system is obsessed with them.  Be you.  Hether would probably agree.

Wax Idols have 2 7 " records and an LP called "No Future."  "No Future" is out on Chicago's very own Hozac Records.  Yeah, they're awesome.  Their newest record, the 7" on Suicide Squeeze called "Schadenfreude" is fucking awesome.  It's already one of my favorite 7"s of a year of very good 7"s.  It actually was the record that truly turned me on to Wax Idols.  It's absolutely fantastic on both sides.  Unfortunately, it's sold out from the website, but you can hear the a-side HERE.  

Hether Fedewa fronts the band from San Francisco, and as she says in the later interview, she has had a lot of help from people around the area.  It's cool to see people from all over the world kind of zone into somewhere, like how she worked with a Chicago label.  Whatever, I think it's cool.  

Jordan:  Who all is in the band and how did you all meet?  Had you just been in the same circles for a while?

Hether:  The current lineup is KEVEN TECON (drums) AMY ROSENOFF (bass) and JENNIFER MUNDY (2nd guitar/vox), in addition to me of course. I met Keven & Amy through our mutual friend Tamaryn. I didn't know Jen at all before she joined the band...she just heard that I was looking for a new guitarist & contacted me! Glad she did.

Jordan:  I heard that you were previously in Hunx & his Punx.  What has the transition from different bands been for everyone in Wax Idols now?

Hether:  I was only in Hunx for like...2 months, as the "lead" guitarist. I played a handful of Bay Area shows and did a short tour with the band GIRLS. Keven & Amy were previously in a band called Veil Veil Vanish & have another project called VOICES. Keven is also playing drums in SOFT MOON right now. I'd say the transitions have just been...natural? I don't know really. Things just happen the way that they happen.

Jordan:  Do you end up having other people in the San Francisco area helping out with your music?

Wax Idols' First LP
Hether:  To a certain extent, yes of course. I mean, my current lineup is fully a part of WAX IDOLS at this point. We are writing & recording together now. They've been with me for a year & a half. Not to mention my producer Monte Vallier who has been fucking incredible to work with. Matt Hartman (Henry's Dress//Coachwhips//Sic Alps) was one of the first people I collaborated with. We covered & recorded a song together by THE LOOT that was on that super limited cassette release I put out a few years ago with my friend William Keihn (Psychic Snerts, infamous SF artist weirdo). Hartman also served as the live drummer for a few shows in the beginning...he's been a real rock for me over the years in many ways. Then a couple girls from that band The Splinters wanted to play in Wax Idols, as well as Paul Keelan who I had already been in a band with before. They played with me for about a year & played on some of NO FUTURE. There are some really talented people here and I am fortunate enough to be friends with some of them so..yeah. I have had help! Haha. 

Jordan:  I really liked the article in MRR with Hether and Lorno from DA!  I thought you had a lot of interesting things to say about women's role in Rock.  What has that been like, being a woman in a music scene often dominated by men?

Hether:  I don't really have anything to say about that. I mean, what is it like being a man in a music scene often dominated by man? Do you ever ask yourself, or other men that question? See my point?  If you read the article - you already know how I feel!

Jordan:  What kind of music, people, or events end up influencing or inspiring some of the ideologies behind the band?

Hether:  Everything in my life has led me to where I am now. As far as specifics...I have very rarely subscribed to the creative visions of others, unless it happens to be a shared one serendipitously. I have my own & they are quite strong. I set my own goals & follow my own whims when it comes to Wax Idols and life in general. That's just how I roll!

Jordan:  What kinds of ideas and songs and thoughts were going into the songs for your first LP?

Hether:  I was dealing heavily with death, loss, sexual frustration (and frustration in general) & heartbreak during the 2 year period of time when I was sort of "compiling" the songs that would eventually be recorded for NO FUTURE. General feelings of discontent & isolation, you know. Fun stuff like that.

Jordan:  How did you end up working with Hozac records?  Was it difficult working with them from San Francisco?

Hether:  I can't remember exactly how we linked up, but no it wasn't very difficult. They're great guys and they are really passionate about music.

Jordan:  How about the suicide squeeze 7"?  I thought that that record sounded completely different from your music before.  What went into that?  How did you end up working with Suicide Squeeze?
The New Wax Idols 7" (I Can't Spell the Name)

Hether:  Dave from SUICIDE SQUEEZE contacted me after he heard GOLD SNEAKERS. He has NU SENSAE signed to his label & they're good friends of mine, I think they turned him on to WAX IDOLS originally. There was no plan of action for that 7"....we just wrote 2 songs and that is what they sound like. If the evolution of a bands catalogue was completely stagnant & repetitive, wouldn't that be boring? What would the point be in being an artist or a human being if you're not constantly in a state of change? Know what I mean? I like to answer questions with questions. 

Jordan:  What is the band working on now?  What can we look forward to in the close future?

Hether:  We're currently writing & recording the next LP which will be released on Slumberland Records sometime this fall. It's pretty insane so far & we've only just begun. I've written some of it alone, some of it in the studio with my producer, some of it with my bandmates & some of it with Mark Burgess (singer//bassist of THE CHAMELEONS UK) who is co-producing the record with Monte Vallier and I. REALLY into that, obviously! Mark is, in my opinion, one of the greatest songwriters & vocalists of all time so his influence & support has been immeasurable.

Wax Idols Live
Jordan:  Do you all have plans to tour any time soon?

Hether:  Yes! We're doing a NORTHWEST TOUR with WHITE LUNG (Vancouver)...really soon! June 8 in Seattle at RENDEVOUZ, June 9th in Portland, June 10th in Oakland, and June 11th in San Francisco at The Knockout. Then we are going to San Diego June 30th (at Soda bar with Colleen Green) and playing a Part Time Punks show at The Echo in LA with Dead Angle. We have a big surprise in store for those shows....stay on your toes Southern Cali! We'll be touring more extensively again after the next LP is released.

Jordan:  Anything else you'd like to say?

Hether:  Is that a trick question?

Interview with Alpo on Theory Interactive's debut game "RESET"

RESET logo
I don't know if you've seen the trailer for the gorgeous first-person puzzler "RESET," but HERE it is.  The game looks drop-dead gorgeous, and I'm a sucker for anything with a robot.  I'm also a sucker for gorgeous music in the background because then I know that the game intends to push the medium as far as the classic videogame goes.  That means that the people are making it more than a simple tactile experience.  The game clearly has an emphasis on visual style as well as auditory orgasm.  The video itself shows a bit of time-lapse as trees grow around a decrepit robot, which, to me, is striking and powerful.  You can find out more about the game and the team HERE.

I e-mailed the guys from Theory Interactive about the game and what was making it work and they happily responded.  Usually, this is a blog for music, but, to be honest, I don't really see genres and mediums as different.  One day they will all be combined, so why not start now?  It's all about story-telling and experience.  And this game definitely has that.

Alpo Oksaharju was kind enough to respond to my interview questions with a lot of wisdom as well as a lot of perspective.  It was really cool to see what he was saying about the game as well as the role of videogames in art, and furthermore, that of art itself.  It's a really cool perspective.

Final Moments in the RESET Trailer
The game is made by 2 people, Alpo and Mikko Kallinen, which is amazing because it looks so gorgeous, just like a hollywood videogame, in terms of graphics and the music is top-notch.  I had to know more about it and maybe so do you.

But anyway, Alpo's better at talking and most other things than me, so I'll let him do the talking:

Me:  Is "Reset" your first outing in making games?

Alpo:  We worked previosly at Futuremark on Shattered Horizon and 3DMark projects, so no for us as persons, but yes as a company.

Me:  Who all is helping make the game?  How did you decide to make the game?

Alpo:  We are a two man team, me (Alpo Oksaharju), responsible for writing and art, and Mikko Kallinen, responsible for tech and music. We share game design duties. I came up with the idea and together we molded it to a more tangible whole. It really is a dream project for us and we just could not let it pass.

Me:  What inspired the setting and the art style for the game?

Alpo:  We are eighties kids and we love sci-fi movies of that era. I'm also greatly into retroish fuctionalistic architecture. I guess inspiration came mostly from those.

Me:  The trailer is absolutely gorgeous in terms of music and graphics.  Is the game going to look and sound like that?

Alpo:  In short, yes.

Me:   Can you say anything about the game's story or premise?  It says it's some sort of puzzler, so can you talk about that at all?

Alpo:  It indeed is a first person puzzler with time travel. The player solves puzzles co-operatively with his previous versions. The player does an action and leaps back in time to complement that action. It's not a brand new idea, but we're making our own version of it. The trailer is filled with clues on what the story is about, so you might be able to get something from it.

Me:  What has the process for making the game been like in terms of having limited resources and a very rigorous outlook?

The Robot from RESET
Alpo:  The key really was in knowing what we wanted. After we knew, it was a question of finding ways to materialize them with really tight resources. So it pushed us to really think out of the box. Of course this couldn't have been achieved without Mikko, whos is not from this planet when it comes to tech.

Me:  What do you think gaming's role is in art and media?

Alpo:  I think it's starting to show signs of maturing, in a sense that it's being accepted more and more as an artform and not just entertainment.

Me:  What about music inside of games?  How central should that be?

Alpo:  Music is a very powerful tool in conveying feeling and mood, and games are an audiovisual artform, so I think music definetly belongs there. The level of importance varies depending on the game, some "need" it a lot, other not at all.

Me:  What has your music background been like?  You sent me stuff from your band Hevein, which seems a lot different than the music in the game.

Alpo:  I formed the band with Leif Hedström back in sticks and stones, playing metal covers, as most bands do. We stayed on the metal course and and recorded one album back in 2005. I left the band in 2008 to pursue this path. I'm a metalhead, but my music taste is very diverse. In audiovisual pieces music and picture should form a bond reinforcing each other. As I mentioned, music playes a big role in conveying and sparking emotions, so the musical style should also be in sync with the style of the images.

Mikko has been a music hobbyist for more than a decade. Mostly composing stuff on the computer, and he's starting to get really good at it. I was blown away when he first played the trailer song to me.

Me:  What has inspired the music for the game?

Alpo:  The story, mood and the atmosphere. Mikko composed the music based on the half ready script and our discussions of what feelings the story is trying to surface in the player.
The World of RESET

Me:  Do you consider making your game your primary occupation?

Alpo:  It is our primary occupation. We set up Theory Interactive in the summer 2011 and we've been working on Reset fulltime for 10 months.

Me:  What music and art and media are you into now?

Alpo:  We are gamers, but we are big movie and music lovers also. I guess it's safe to say that we're into all the arts. What ever sparks a feeling, the form doesn't matter. Can't stand Lady Gaga though.

Me:  Anything else you want to say?

Alpo:  Strength beyond strength, dudes!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Interview with Whatever Brains

Whatever Brains singing and stuff

The first Seven-Inch Record I ever bought was a Whatever Brains record.  I got it from Bull City Records and I dug it hard.  I've been a fan since, and have become an even bigger fan since they released a full-length record on Sorry State.  The Raleigh band has a totally unique sound unlike anything you have ever heard (I promise) and it's hard for me to define, but I can tell you that it's definitely rooted in Psychedelia, Rock, and Punk.  From there on, it's anyone's guess.  Fantastic band, though.  I barely got to see them one time at Troika last year, which unfortunately didn't happen this year.  I heard them blast through their last song of the night, which was "Goldwood" on their first full-length record.  "Bada badada badada" was stuck in my head for weeks after, and still often can be found there.

They released a fantastic Record Store Day 7" which has an outtake and a demo, as well as a Double Negative Cover and a Wall of Voodoo cover.  It definitely shows the Whatever Brains' diversity in their songwriting and performance capabilities.  I was really happy to get my hands on one.  You can stream it for free HERE and it's definitely worth a listen.  They are currently about to release their 2nd full-length which will once again be on Sorry State Records.  You out-of-staters can get it HERE if you don't have a local record shop which sells them.

They talk about an upcoming tour for 16 days that will even cover the Midwest and I'll be moving back to the CHI by then, so I'll be at whichever one is closest.  Also, this is their WEBSITE.

I basically wanted a t-shirt by them, but figured I should push my luck and ask for an interview, and luckily Rich and Will from the band were kind enough to give me some info, which is great.  They talk a lot about the band, where it came from, and what makes it tick.  I dig it like a spigot.

But they're better people than I am, so I'll let them speak.

Jordan:  When Did Whatever Brains form?  How did the process happen?

Rich:  The band started in Spring 2008. I was working on a batch of songs that didn't seem to fit the other band I was in at the time, Crossed Eyes. That band had a specific sound with similar chord structures in
each song, and I was ready to write songs outside of washy, minor-chord pop punk. Evan Williams and I had played as a two piece not too long before this, and I knew he was the only person who could help me realize what was in my head at the time. I brought the first group of songs to him, and we spent a lot of late nights at the practice space. Most of the time was spent drinking and talking about YouTube. Evan recorded three or four songs on his four track (some of which are on the Soft Dick City cassette). We liked how they sounded and decided to expand the band from there.

Will:  I think Evan and Rich had gotten together to start a metal band called Tight Dogs From The Future that eventually morphed into Whatever Brains somewhere in the Summer of 2008.  I was looking to move back to NC from Pittsburgh, PA  and asked all my friends on MySpace(whack) where I should move in NC.  Rich told me I should move to Raleigh and join his band Whatever Brains.  I hadn't really hung out with him in forever, but it was my only offer, and we'd played before in an improv doom/noise/Lightning-Bolt-ripoff band called XABBAX which was a good time, so I went for it.

Jordan:  You guys have been on a bunch of labels from Bull City Records to Sorry State Records.  What has it been like working with so many different people?

Whatever Brains LP 1 Cover
Rich: Bull City was an extremely natural way to start. Chaz Martenstein and I made quick friends when he opened his store in Durham in 2005. We talked about music extensively. Both being record store clerks and from Virginia, we had a good deal in common, and we also had a lot to share. Over the years, he's gotten me into so many awesome bands. I bought my first Oblivians and Spits records from him. Anyway, I think Chaz had been wanting to start a record label for a while, and it made sense for Whatever Brains to be his first release. I believe now, more than three years after its release, the first 7" has finally sold out. He probably still has a good deal of the second one. By the time we were ready to release a third 7", Chaz was still sitting on a many/most of our previous records, and it didn't seem fair to ask him to release another, so we roped some of my Virginia buddies into the mix. Funny / Not Funny was started by my friends Matt, Harper and Bengine in Harrisonburg. We were their second release, and they had no idea what they were getting in to. They still have hundreds of copies of the "Nesting" 7". Sorry, guys. They were also gracious enough to attempt a fourth 7" with us, but money fell short when it came time to send the record to the plant. That's where Daniel Lupton at Sorry State came into play. He'd released the Crossed Eyes 7" (of which he mistakenly took to a second pressing and is now selling for $1 in his distro) and had been a Whatever Brains fan from the start. I wasn't sure how he'd feel about the proposition to help with the "Rapper's Delight II" 7" since Sorry State had mostly released hardcore bands, but he was totally enthusiastic. He's been losing money on us ever since.

Will: It's all been pretty straight forward.  I think we have a big advantage because we never need/get a recording budget.  I went to school for audio engineering so I do that work and make the band buy me snacks/beers/microphones, etc.  Then all the labels have been cool about paying for mastering and giving us some free records.  Everybody at Bull City, Funny/Not Funny, Diggup Tapes, and Sorry State Records are all great dudes and we are eternally grateful that they have been kind/naive enough to sink money in our records.  
Sorry State Records LOGO

Jordan:  Do you find that there’s a big advantage of being part of such a diverse music scene as the triangle area?  How has that impacted your music?

Rich:  Sure. Instead of being the wussy band on the punk show, we can also be the dumb punk band on the indie rock show. But, it's been great. We all have history dabbling in different scenes, and the Triangle is a great place to do that. I can't think of a specific instance when it's impacted the music, though. It is what it is.

Jordan:  Have you always had the same line-up?  Have things moved around at all?

Rich:  The band started with me playing guitar singing and Evan playing drums and singing. Not long after that, we added William Evans to second guitar. I'd seen him play bass and keyboard in bands before, but never guitar. He's infinitely better than me. After that, we asked Vince Carmody to play bass. That lineup recorded the first two 7"s. Then we replaced Vince with my roommate and former bandmate Matt Watson, who had never played bass in a band before. We recorded the next two 7"s. We wanted to expand the sound around that time and had talked of adding a keyboard player/auxiliary musician. Young gun Hank Shore had been to a bunch of Brains shows and even messaged me for lyrics and tracklists and such. He was a bass clarinet player by trade, but we got him to play standup bass (along with clarinet) on the fourth 7". Then he joined full-time on keyboards. Since he'd never played keyboards in a band before, he used Evan's microKORG, which he still uses today. Matt uses Evan's bass. Will uses my guitar amp. Matt supplies the bass and keyboard amps. Recently, when Hank went to college, we decided to add Josh Lawson to another keyboard/auxiliary position. He is a pro musician and pro dude. We play as a five-piece most of the time now, but the band has six members.

Will: Rich and Evan started as a two piece in the summer of 2008.  I moved to Raleigh and joined in July/August '08 on guitar.  We quickly realized we need some low end so we asked Vince Carmody (of Strange, Legend of the Overfiend) to play bass.  April of 2009 Vince left and we got Matt Watson (of Street Sharks) to take his place.  At some point maybe in like Spring of 2010 we got (Enloe High School Senior and Eagle mascot) Hank Shore to come play bass clarinet and upright bass for our 4th 7" (Rapper's Delight Pt. II on F/NF, SSR) then he became our keyboard player.  When he left to go to college in Chicago this January we got our friend Josh Lawson (of ORDER) to start playing synth.  At Phuzzfest in Winston-Salem Hank was back in NC for spring break and joined us on bass clarinet.  I think he's moving back this summer and Josh is staying in so we'll be a 6-piece moving forward.  

Jordan:  Do you all have other side-projects at all?  What are your backgrounds in music like?

Rich: Will currently plays in Heads on Sticks, Evan plays in Black Zinfandel, I play in Infección and Josh and I play in Order. I'm probably forgetting something. We've all been in too many bands before now

Will:  I play guitar and keyboards in (Birds of Avalon bassist David Mueller's solo project) Heads on Sticks when we do live shows.  It works out because he'll do all the writing and recording himself then the live band just gets together to practice before shows.  That's been cool.  Also Evan, Matt and I (along with new Double Negative frontman/Atrophix drummer Cameron Craig) were in that band SHARDS.  As far as my background I've been playing music of some kind since 5th grade and have been playing shows since I was 14.  I played tuba in the high school band and have taken like a decade of music theory courses.  Also got my Bachelor's of Science in Music Technology from UNCA.
Frog Fractal Non-GIF

Jordan:  What sort of events and bands and ideologies influence your music?

Rich:  Punk and not punk

Jordan:  Is there a cohesive idea that makes Whatever Brains, politically, artistically or mentally?

Rich:  Don't be a dick. It sounds like an awful t-shirt slogan, but it's the most succinct way I can put it.

Will:  <insert animated Peace-Frog fractal .gif>

Jordan:  How do you think your lyrics impact your music?  A lot of them seem to be surreal portrait-stories.  How does that happen?

Rich:  A good chunk of the songs are about how people treat other people. You see such a depressing amount of religious and ignorance-based hatred growing up and living in the south that it would impossible for me to not touch on it heavily. There are definitely other subjects, though, but they are more of a case-by-case scenario. The new record has a song about how my girlfriend and I have a tough time keeping Betta fish alive and how we wanted a poodle named Frankie. Both LPs have had some sort of explanation for each song in the lyric sheet. And while there has been a lot of satire in past Brains lyrics, I'm trying to move away from that a bit. We'll see how it goes on the third LP.
The Brains Again

Jordan:  When did you decide to record a full-length album?

Rich:  When Whatever Brains started, we planned to record four three-song 7"s in a year and then work on an LP. It took much longer than that. But by the time the last 7" was finally released (September 2010, two years after our first show), we had a ton of material ready for a longer format. We recorded most of them, used some demos and pieced together the 17 tracks that make up the fist LP.

Will:  I think from the beginning we had always wanted to do 4 7"s before we put out a full record.  That Jay Reatard 7" singles series had come out and then was released all together.  It seemed like a good way to put out some music without committing to/having to write 12+ songs or having to wait that long.  After the 4th seven inch we planned to make a full length and so just gathered up all the new songs we had plus whatever old songs we wanted to do again and recorded those.  I think now we're planning on putting out four 12"s (our second one just dropped on SSR) then, I dunno, lazer discs?  4x4x12"s? Hypercubes?

Jordan:  How did you guys end up working with Sorry State Records?

Rich:  I think I first met Daniel when Direct Control (Sorry State's first release?) played the house Matt and I used to rent. Daniel later released a Crossed Eyes 7", which was Matt, myself and our other roommate, Dennis Duffy. Daniel was an absolute gentleman and scholar then, and he still is today.

Will: Daniel rules and has the best taste in weird/hardcore/punk music, runs an incredible label, is the pride of the triangle punk scene, a stand up dude and despite that likes our band.

Jordan:  What was it like putting something out for Record Store Day?  Seems like a big move for both SSR and the Whatever Brains.  How did you decide on the covers you did?  The Wall of Voodoo one is awesome!

Rich:  Daniel asked us if we wanted to do a Record Store Day record, and we said, "Yes." The tracks were gathered and/or recorded and mixed in a few days. It wasn't actually affiliated with THE Record Store Day, so nobody had to pay any money or jump through any hoops to get an official RSD seal of approval. The Double Negative cover was recorded at the same time we did the "Rapper's Delight II" 7". We learned that song because we thought it would be funny to play when we opened for them. Evan got me into Wall of Voodoo not too long ago. "Can't Make Love" sounded the most like Whatever Brains, and therefore the easiest one to learn. The "Shelves" demo samples a long and really intense drum track that Josh programmed for another, never finished, Double Negative cover years before he joined the band. The last track was a remix done by Waumiss for a pretty ridiculous remix download we put on Mediafire when the first LP was released. There are some cool rap and electronic remixes on that download, too.

Will:  Daniel decided he wanted to do a local (NC only + RVA) Record Store Day release and we've usually got a few odds and ends floating around, so he knew we could get it ready to send to the plant in a matter of days.

LP 2 Cover
Jordan:  What has the evolution of the band been like from when you put out your first 7” to the upcoming 2nd LP?

Rich:  It's always been very gradual. We've practiced twice a week since we became a four-piece in 2008, so we're constantly playing old songs while we're learning new ones. Will has recorded almost evertthing we've done from the first 7" to the second LP. Our friend Reverdy Francis Nicholson III tracked two songs on the "Saddle Up" 7", also. As for the music, whether it's fast or slow or good or terrible, it always ends up sounding like Whatever Brains.

Jordan:  How would you differentiate the 2nd LP from what you’ve done before?  Anything new to the table?

Rich:  The second LP is a little bit more "rock" sounding. The drums are bigger and better.

Will:  The second one was more focused from the start.  We knew we wanted to do full band versions of all the songs and kind of do a "rock" record, whereas the first LP was more of a collection of all the different sounds we'd tried out (regular full recordings/Rich's demos/this weird new wave electronic drum pad thing) plus songs that had been written farther apart and without a specific release in mind.  I think Rich wrote most of the 2nd one all in a row and with the idea of the next batch of songs being contenders for a full-length. 

Jordan:  What makes a good live show for the Whatever Brains?

Rich:  It seems obvious, but we're always better when we're having fun.

Will:  Free beer.  No serious injuries.

Jordan:  How do you decide when to tour?

Rich:  Matt, Will and Hank are/were in school. Summer is our best option for anything longer than a few days.

Will:  When school's out

Jordan:  Can we expect a US tour coming up at all?

Rich:  We're planning a 16-day tour starting in late July. We'll be playing some places we've played before, but we're trying to focus on places in the Midwest that we haven't been.

Will:  Yes.  July 27th-August 11th.  As far away as Minneapolis then back down the East Coast from Boston

Jordan:  Where does the band see itself going in the future?  Is there going to be a continuation of Whatever Brains?

Rich:  Writing, recording and playing as many shows as we can, which isn't nearly as many as most bands with the amount of records we have.

Will:  Jamming on stage at the Grammy's with Dave Grohl and Lil' Wayne.  I think as long as we don't lose too many members at once and Rich still can't stop writing songs we'll keep going.