Friday, August 31, 2012

Interview with Alex from Running

Cover Art for Running's First Record

Ariel Pink may be my favorite songwriter of all time. It's between him and Tom Waits - put Kurt Cobain there hell, ok, Bjork can come too. The point about Ariel Pink, and the rest of those musicians, is that they come from a long line of history, most of which results from some sort of Blues derivative, even though for Bjork and Ariel, it may seem a bit less bluesy. Ariel Pink writes really really poppy songs - poppy not in the sense of Rihanna vs. Chris Brown, but in the sense of the good ol' days, like if Tom Petty did a lot more mushrooms and Bruce Springsteen sang about gender change, all the while Kraftwerk is dancing on the recording device. That's a terrible comparison. I'm just having fun.

The point here is that Ariel Pink worked with a lot of different people early on, most visibly John Maus, synthpop savant extraordinaire, and Geneva Jacuzzi, a brunette pixie who appears in Pink's newest Video "Only in my Dreams." A little bit less known is Gary War, who I saw at the empty bottle last week. Before Mr. War emerged onstage, however, a little band called Running played and they blew my mind. I don't know if I've ever seen drums played as hard as Alejandro plays. Jeff, the guitarist, hunches over with a classic sneer and eyes the crowd and the singer. And then Matthew, vocalist and bassist, gives his everything as he is carried away by the tubthumping rhythm of his bass.

I had to get to know these guys so I approached them and asked for an interview and they were kind enough to give me one. I also picked up their awesomely-titled Asshole Savant. It's a one-sided 12" with an etching that comes with a flexidisc, making for one hell of an odd package. I loved it. It sounds awesome. A lot like their live show.

A Live Show
You can pick up their earliest release at THE PERMANENT RECORDS WEBSITE. You can also check out their record Asshole Savant HERE And this is their Website - there isn't much on it.

Jordan: Who all is in the band Running and how did you guys meet each other?

Alex: Jeff, Matt, and Alejandro. 3 guys. We met here in Chicago, met Jeff hanging out around town, met Matt in some dark bleak corner.  Running started in 2009, August for sure. Our relationship blossomed right away

J: When did you first come up with the idea of being in a band together? Had you guys been in bands together or bands in general? 

A: Possibly when some Wolf Guys were playing some flutes made out of toilet parts at the now defunct Mopery, then Matt slurred the words let's start a hardcore band and i said fuck yeah homey. We had never played music together. Then, same week I saw Jeff, he looked very tired, and I asked him, how about you and me in a punk rock band?

He nodded, he was in. We jammed, he busted out that heroin-skronk guitar tone--we were all in love.

J: How important is the music scene in Chicago to the band? Have you guys always been here?

A: Running is a Chicago band--a sweet place to be. People are supporting, friends play killer jams, you chill. Love the many gigs at weird basements, creative spaces, and other wacky places. 

J: What do you all do when you aren't making or playing music?

A: For Internal Revenue Service reasons we cannot disclose that information, we are fully, and legally employed. 
Running works but fuck it, I'll tell you everything. Matthew is the CEO of a multi media empire known as Priority Male ®, Jeff and I just count wads money and gamble other people's money and homes all day at the Chicago Board of Trade. Do you PayPal?

J: What is the process like for making a song with you guys? Do you have set times in which you're specifically "writing" a song, or does it kind of just end up happening?

A: We get drunk, and bang some instant classics, recorded on an phone. Its simple, Running pays the rent for a space, our instruments live there. 

Asshole Savant Cover
Personally, I just listen to The Fall, I hate everything else, and I rip off their drums, often, very often, but its just like their old fuck M.E.S. stealing all kind of tunes--and making them better, of course.

J: Do you ever have to consider the label that you're working with in order to come up with a product, or do you take a mostly finished idea to someone when you want them to put it out?

A: We typically put together a recording and know who we need to hit to find out if it can be released. Permanent Records picked up the first one, and I think it happened when their minds were blown when they connected the dots that their pals Matt, Jeff and I were Running and knew each other...WOW! Liz loved #1 Dad (a Running song, the slowest and longest), so I knew they were giddy about releasing that slab. They released our first piece of wax, with beautiful art made by a machine, depicting Chicago's grid, definitively a wolf in sheep clothes. Then when CAPTCHA honcho's Mr. Funke asked us to release something, we knew about his roster of bands and got pretty excited. He also experienced the excruciating pain of dealing with Running making an art statement on wax, kindly baptized Asshole Savant.  We had the songs, took them to a studio, Cooper from Cave manning the board, Asshole Savant was born. Funke paid the bill, it was that simple.

J: How did you arrive at your present sound? Is it a conscious thing as well, or did it just happen because of noises that you all enjoy?

A: Naturally, we play loud, to make sure we are effective at ignoring the sounds of our own tormenting thoughts, you know, about life in general in this mundane world, paying the bills, drinking pale ales, skeletons biting bird's asses, common things. I enjoy harsh damaged sounds, and Jeff delivers then pretty well as I've seen tweakers looking even weirder than their regular selves during a Running set. 

J: How would you say that one of your records translates into a live show?

A: Personally I like the live shows because people smoke me out and i get free drinks.  Live is where is at for me but Running on record is the awesomest shit i've ever done. I have played in other bands and I have never listened to my own shit as much as I listened to Asshole Savant. I stare at it constantly. Running sounds like the record, and the record sounds a lot like Running think its sounds live. 

J: What makes a good show for you guys in addition to free beer and getting paid?

A: People getting wasted, buying our record and leaving it behind at the pisser. Girlfriends telling their boyfriends: What have you done with your life? Why aren't you in Running? Pass ME the CornNuts ®

J: What are some upcoming shows of yours that we can look forward to?

A: Good question! November 8th with Cave at the Hideout (I think) kick off show for the Cave/Running tour 2012. 
Maybe somewhere before that, just google Running for more information. 

8 - Chicago, IL @ Hideout
9 - Cleveland, OH @ Happy Dog
10 - TBA 
11 - Easthampton, MA @ Flywheel
12 - Boston, MA @ Great Scotts w/ People of the North
13 - New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge w/ White Hills
14 - Brooklyn, NY @ Kent 385
15 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brendas w/ Purling Hiss
16 - Pittsburgh PA @ 6119
17 - Columbus, OH @ Double Happiness
18 - Detroit, MI @ TBA

J: Are any of you guys actual runners, or is the name just something you thought was cool?

A: Frankly we do not remember why we are called Running. My dad was a runner, a marathon man, he had a bunch of trophies, I made "smoking devices" out of them. I would love to teach a workshop on that, 2 week internship. 

J: What can we look forward to in the future of Running's output?

A: Expect more tapes and bullshit gimmicks we'll be peddling at shows but, if you want less uncertainty in your future, do not fret,Running is excited about this Castle Face release.. GROUP FLEX II - SON OF FLEX is almost ready to go. This playable flexi book features new and exclusive tracks from Warm Soda, Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin, The Mallard, Running, The Fresh & Onlys, Kelly Stoltz, White Fence, Blasted Canyons, Sic Alps, and Burnt Ones. It's going to be see through, and kinda 3D, and awesome, so get ready. Joe Roberts did the art and it's insane and we should be doing presales once we're a little closer to getting it made but we're really excited and wanted to get some details in people's brains.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Interview with Jay Gambit of Crowhurst

Crowhurst Logo
Jay Gambit does a lot of really cool stuff. Any given day, you can see that he's been immersing himself in medi, stories, and art - this may come in the form of a grindhouse film or a book on whatever psycho-philosophical facet is interesting him. In short, he's got a lot on his hands at all times. And yet he still manages to constantly put out noise records under the name of his music project Crowhurst. You can get any of his records on his bandcamp, which can be found HERE. It's a bit overwhelming, so I'd suggest checking out THiS BLACK METAL RECORD and THIS NEWEST FULL-LENGTH

In a live show, Jay will use his know-how of media to incorporate a visual show along with all other sorts of stimuli to make the viewer enjoy his or herself. It helps that he's a visual/graphical artist as well, as you can see from his official website found HERE

He's put out around 16 records so far this year, so it's a bit hard to keep up with him at all times, but the overall aesthetic and insane work ethic, make Jay and his Crowhurst music project truly incredible. It's an honor knowing him and I can't wait to see where he goes in the future.


Jordan: So Crowhurst seems to be you, but also a bunch of other people collaborating. How do you end out choosing who helps? Are they friends, acquaintances, or people in the noise music scene?

Jay: It's one of those things where I'm really grateful for anyone who's there and wants to join the group and go with the vision. I have met a lot of incredible and talented people by just openly asking if anyone wants to play on a track. The great part about this is that I get to see a lot of really creative strengths of individuals that I can call upon to play to those strengths that work for the benefit of more ambitious tracks and projects.
The Cover for Aghoree

JR: What is Crowhurst?

JG: Crowhurst is an perpetually evolving collective of artists head up by me, dedicated to delivering a unified set of visions.

JR: How did you get the name Crowhurst?

JG: Donald Crowhurst was a british amateur sailor who risked everything he had to try and win the first round-the-world yacht race. He got in way over his head and essentially went insane and committed suicide in shame. His body was never found. There's a few films about this, but I'd suggest Deep Water for those completely unfamiliar. It's on YouTube.

JR: How did you first get into noise music?

JG: I've just always loved sound and psychology behind how it impacted people. 

JR: Do you or have you ever had projects not based in noise music?

JG: Oh yeah. When I was a kid, I was in a band I'd rather not name because we were awful and we went on to inspire a lot of really bad music. When I was in college, I put out a record with a bunch of guys under the name "Drug Ring" and it's still one of my favorite non-noise records I've ever made. Really heavily inspired by the Melvins and the Jesus Lizard. I was actually on vocals and had little to nothing to do with the production, but it was a great chance to actually work as a lyricist and do what I wanted to do as far as vocally with it. I've also been in a bunch of other little side projects doing grindcore and metal related stuff that were just bedroom things and I've guested on some tracks as well.

JR: How did you first know that you wanted to make noise music? Did anything inspire it?

JG: I don't actually remember how I started making a noise record. I know that I started it with my friend Corey Fruin (Al Borland, WerewolfWerewolfWerewolf, Heavy Breath) who came up with the idea of calling it Crowhurst. I just kind of ran with it and he's one of those very frequent contributors to records. He was on Aghoree and There Is No Hope Here.

Jay Covered in KITTENS (Sorry I'm not Sorry,  Jay)
JR: How has your sound evolved over time? Is there something that you have gone for in terms of an aesthetic or is something else driving the progression?

JG: I mean, our sound has progressed in the sense that every day I feel like I kind of know what I'm doing a little bit more. With each record I kind of figure out a little piece of the puzzle. Now there's kind of a routine of how things go in order to work in the way that benefits the record the most.

JR: You seem to make a lot of music. How does your production of music seem to go? Does something need to set it off or is it a more organic process?

JG:  I've got this thing in my head that doesn't let me stop making records. I just have ideas and feel like a jackass if I have all of the tools and the help in the world and I don't get off my ass and make things happen. One idea spirals into two new ones, and I make commitments to things I am truly dedicated to and am happy to take as much time as I can physically take to fulfill those commitments.

JR: Do you feel that there is a need for noise music? What role does noise music take in the life of someone like you or me who likes pop music as well? Why would someone want to make noise music?

JG: Well, I don't think there's a real difference in what noise and drone are, conceptually of course, than what someone like Vivaldi and Bach were doing when they were writing their pieces. It's only been for the past few hundred years that we've started to define what we consider to be "musical instruments" and "standard songwriting". I'm just looking at things from a different perspective, but my influences come from albums like "Kid A" and artists like Brian Eno, Alain Goraguer and Miles Davis just as much as they come from artists like Whitehouse and Swans.

JR: I've seen your clips and videos of shows and there seems to be a lot of visual incorportion. Do you see that as a necessity in terms of a performance? Why use a video?

JG: Just from my own experience, the more you immerse your audience sensually, the more willing they will be to open their mind and also enjoy themselves. Cinematic music has used drone based compositions for centuries, but there's a certain aesthetic that heightens the enjoyment that I feel a lot of people get from experimental audio.

JR: How do you play a noise show? Do you mix on stage or just hit a button or a few or plan it in advance? What is the chronology and how does the symbiosis work during a live show?

JG: A live show usually starts with establishing the audio setup of the venue and planning accordingly which musicians will be playing. We have a pretty regular LA lineup of Bryan Schuessler from Opacities on guitar and laptop, Chris Ortega from Dive Signals on organ, Brian Reis from Yuggoth on guitar and myself on my laptop. We usually practice a few times before a show, just to tighten up and figure out what works before the show. 

JR: How would you differentiate your music from someone else's? In short, (this is a totally loaded question) why listen to Crowhurst?

JG: I like to joke that there's three or four different "bands" inside Crowhurst. There's the stuff I put out myself which is usually my experiments, which are sometimes well received and others not so much. 'Bone Fragment Grenade', 'In Event Of Moon Disaster', 'Come Find Me' and 'Thriller' are like that. There's the powernoise stuff in the "Fuck You" series, which is usually just myself. There's the stuff I do in collaboration with other artists that stretch the boundaries of what we usually do (Glacier Dream, Crowhurst with Yuggoth, etc) and then there's the ensemble records like 'There Is No Hope Here', 'GrimGrimGrim' and 'Aghoree' which are what I'm personally most proud of. 
The Black Metal Album Cover

JR: What releases are available now and what is coming out? What can we look forward to in the vein of crowhurst?

JG: Spirit Throne has Fuck You Bono which is almost sold out (if it hasn't by the time you're reading this), Fuck You Morrissey has one or two tapes left and that's it. One or two copies may be in Vacation Vinyl in Silverlake or Touch Vinyl in West LA. Come Find Me is out from Santos in Italy on tape. The Pho King Mixtape has an unreleased track from Aghoree on it and that's on tape. Aghoree will be out soon from Greh Holger's (Hive Mind) Chondritic Sound label very soon and GrimGrimGrim will be out soon from DIY Noise recordings. We'll also have a tape release out from Feral Fang Media as well for There Is No Hope Here somewhat soon. I think we're also going to have a really short song on one of these 7" compilations that's coming out.

Brian, Bryan, Chris and I are also going out to the desert to go make No Life To Live. Definitely going for a newer, fuller, more expanded and experimental yet accessible followup to Aghoree exploring some newer and darker themes. We'll also have some more cool details about that soon, but the art is already up and on our official Twitter account. We're still working openly with a lot of our previous contributors and some new ones as well to make this different yet hopefully as enjoyable record any of our others.

JR: Anything else you'd like to say or add?

JG: Thank you for your support, everyone. This is been a rad ride.  I hope I can make you more stuff that you enjoy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Interview with White Mystery

The Empty Bottle, a legendary Chicago venue, has a lounge for bands that is easy to get to if you’re good at looking important. After I saw Video perform a spitfire,visceral set at Hozac Blackout Fest this year, I followed Daniel Fried down to the lounge to tell him that he rocked. Downstairs reeked of sweat and tobacco. There were a bunch of people that I personally had never encountered who looked as though they all knew each other. I later found out that most of the people were Puerto Rico’s Davila 666, though I also ended up meeting the guys from Fungi Girls, who eventually introduced me to White Mystery.

Throughout my summer of concert hopping, I ran into Francis and Alex White of White Mystery at different events, such as Royal Headache’s show with the OBN III’s and Football at the Burlington. It was really great to see how they welcomed me as I only recently had moved up from Durham, NC and had been trying to get to know the lay of the land in Chicago.

Aside from my personal experience with these two fantastic people, White Mystery creates some awesome music. With three records out, including a most recent 7” on Hozac Records, the band has a wealth of music. They’re garage rock in the traditional sense. As I listen to them, I am reminded most clearly of Mr. Airplane Man, a small band on the now defunct Sympathy for the Record Industry label, as that band had only two members as well. Though to categorize White Mystery under anything would be a mistake. There is definitely rock n’ roll. But there’s also a little bit of the weird in their music too - just check out their videos.
White Mystery on the Cover of their Blood & Venom Record

They put on a great show and are playing tonight at the Fireside Bowl, which is sure to please any and all rock fanatics.

Here are some links for checking them out!


This is the link to check out the show that they’re playing tonight

Jordan: When did you guys know that you wanted to start a group together? Did you all have like music lessons together when you were growing up or how did you become interested in making music?

White Mystery: White Mystery formally started on April 20, 2008 after years of jamming together, basement recordings, and playing in other groups. Our mom took us to piano lessons together as kids, but we took different paths to develop musically as adolescents.

J: How did you figure out the kind of music that you write, record and perform? Anything draw you in particular to the style you play?

WM: Songs start with a hooky riff, and explode with collaboration.

Francis & Alex White
J: Were you in other bands before deciding to be in one with your sibling? What is it like being in a band with a sibling? Does it make it easier or harder?

WM: Miss Alex White is known for her work in the Hot Machines and Miss Alex White & the Red Orchestra, traveling the world playing rock'n'roll, releasing records on labels like In The Red, Cass, and Dusty Medical. Francis White played in a psychobilly band called the Nuke Mutes. 

Sibling bands share a quiet understanding, sympathy, and least White Mystery does.

J: Have you always been located in Chicago? What parts of the city do you live in? Does any particular group of people or musicians in Chicago have more to do with the music you make and the things you like to do?

WM: Yes, we were born and raised on the North side of the city of Chicago. There are endless DIY and amazing shows to see, record stores, and opportunities for people to grow in the musical community here.

J: I was watching the "birthday" video and it seemed like you guys really have a good time together. What do you all like to do when you aren't doing music?

White Mystery Live
WM: MTV named the "Birthday" video a Top 5 Weird Video Premiere of 2011, which is pretty sweet for a totally DIY band like White Mystery. All we do is play music, tour, release records, make merch, and make rock'n'roll a full-time endeavor.

J: You all have a show coming up at the Fireside Bowl in Chicago on tuesday, in addition to a bunch of shows slated for this fall, including one at Riot fest. Are you touring for anything in particular? What can an audience expect from these shows?

WM: We are touring to stay alive until 2018. Scion loaned White Mystery an XB car to accomplish this goal, which is exciting. 

J: What's next on the agenda for White Mystery in terms of releases and material?

WM: Every April 20, White Mystery releases a new record along with videos and a crazy release party, like a Rock'n'Roll Circus in NYC this year. We're excited to share new songs with everyone. Check out WM music online here.

J: Do you all feel that being redheaded makes you a better person/musician? How does that affect everything?

WM: Natural redheads are 4% of the global population so it's definitely a special trait that is cool to share among siblings.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Interview with Billy Jeans of the Mean Jeans

The Cover of Mean Jeans' Newest LP
Mean Jeans are a band from Portland, OR that plays a punk-tinged brand of garage rock n' roll. They recently released a new album on Dirtnap Records called On Mars. The album art looks about like the band sounds. One part mars. One part jagermeister. And then there are some dudes inside the bottle that has actually become a spaceship. Plot twist. On Mars is completely solid - it's a garage record, so naturally it has 13 songs over about forty minutes and each song is a blast, which isn't to say that the lyrics are all positive - if you look to the interview, Billy Jeans (frontman/guitarist) of the Mean Jeans talks a bit about the record and its subject matter. He mentions going forward from their first record and from where the band comes.

From what I've heard, the band rips it live. They recently played Chicago at a show that I could not attend, but heard was very good. THIS is an example of the raucous shows that they play live. I would highly recommend checking out their records, which you can find HERE. To learn more about the band, you can check them out on FACEBOOK or see where they played HERE

Here's the interview:

Jordan: So how mean would you say your Jeans are on a scale from 1 to Mean Joe Green?

Billy Jeans: 69. I have no idea how to answer this question, but I've been asked it 20 times!

J: What was the basis behind your name?

BJ: It was spray painted on my parents house by Jr. Jeans' bitter ex girlfriend. We stuck with the name cuz it had already built a reputation for itself, spray painted all over the suburbs of Washington, DC. 

J: Who all is in the band and what are your roles?  Does one person write most of the songs or is it collaborative?

Mean Jeans at a Show
BJ: Billy Jeans on guitar/voz, Jeans Wilder on Drums/vox and Jr. Jeans on bass.  I write most of the songs, Jeans Wilder writes some, and we put it all together… together. In leather. Whatever. 

J: What do you all do when you aren't playing or recording?

BJ: I like to draw, collect records, swim in rivers, eat mexican food, see bands play portland and experiment with drugs and alcohol. 

J: How did you all originally get connected with Dirtnap?  Did you have releases before your first LP?

BJ:  We recorded some songs on my ex girlfriends laptop, using no microphones, just placing the computer in the corner of the room and hitting record on Garageband.  We posted those on Myspace and were contacted by Rehab Records who wound up releasing them as our first seven inch, the Stoned 2 The Bone 7".  Ken from Dirtnap saw us play and one time when I was buying records at his shop he said he wanted to do a record.  So we did our second single with him, the License 2 Chill 7", and next did the LP. I think.

J: How was the process recording your first album?  Has it changed much or do you have a routine down?

Mean Jeans with some goo or something
BJ:  We just showed up at this gross house where a friends band had recorded and played every song we had.  There was very little effort involved. Since that first record, we've recorded with several people, in different places.  Our 2nd LP was actually recorded at that same shitty house but with completely different people who rented that same space.  So we've spent a lot of time drinking and getting covered in mildew on the corner of NE 17th and Ainsworth in Portland.  To be completely honest, I am not satisfied with any of the recordings and am still looking for more options.  Or maybe I just need to accept that we are a shitty band. 

J: What was the writing and recording of the new album "Mean Jeans - On Mars?"  Would you say that you wrote with a theme in mind?

BJ:  If anything was predetermined, it was that we didn't want to just make the same record again as Are You Serious?.  Cuz that would be really easy. So we tried to flip the script, and go a little popper.  I don't spend much time at all listening to music made after 1990, and not much of the fast punk / pop punk that's come out of the past 20 years.  We were listening to more 70s and 80s pop like Rick Springfield, ELO, Dwight Twilley, the corny shit.  Not to say On Mars sounds like any of those bands, but we wanted to give it more than just 3 power chords, a verse and a chorus.  So it is what it is.  

Thematically, the album talks about flying to mars to get away from our lives, creepy slugs, self-loathing, day to day disappointment, and of course partying. 

J: How has touring your new album been?  Have you seen an increase in crowd-size?

Another Bit of Mean Jeans Art
BJ: Yea we just did a US / Canada tour and it was the best one we've done yet.  I had a great time and more people were at the shows, which is always nice when you are playing a city you've never played or been to. 

J: Do you all play in other bands or have other projects?

BJ: Jr. Jeans plays in a punk band called Freedom Club.  Well it sounds punk to me I don;t know what other people think it sounds like. Jr. and Jeans Wilder did a US tour as bass and drums for Peach Kelli Pop.  At the beginning of August we are playing as the Groovie Ghoulies with Kepi Ghoulie. I am stoked.  We all play in another group called Junior Membah as well.  You'll have to see it to get it. 

J: Do you all have any plans for the future in terms of the band (I know you just finished a full-length album)?

BJ:  See what we can get away with before we're old. Skate the line of total implosion until it happens. Terrorize the world. 

J: What other music are you guys listening to or excited for in the future?

BJ: New bands I am digging: Big Eyes, Dancer, Bi-Marks, Audacity