Category: Interviews

Interview with Beth Ragland from Onehundreds on their album release show and what to get everyone on your list this Christmas

The opening track on What Science Can’t Explain is so easy going that I found myself bopping along to it… and I don’t do that. I’m pretty stodgy as far as movement when it’s not one of my favorite bands. It’s like years worth of standing around staring at instrumental bands at Cave 9 and Boiler Room have set me on a course for nothing but toetapping for the rest of my show-going life.

The first single Silver Hands was nice. It was clearly electronic, vaguely Southern rock, grunge and pop wrapped up in one package, but I fell for its country-like rhyming scheme. Simplistic and easy to grab onto, yet self-depricating at the same time. Prefacing ANYTHING with “maybe I was born in a van” is gonna get me everytime.

Just sayin’.

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Singer Ian Thomas McIntosh has an easygoing infectiousness I haven’t heard since Grouplove or Delta Spirit. The album goes in and out of different sounds and you find yourself wanting it to because you enjoy the waviness of it all. The wavy vocals are the common thread between dark postrock anthems and upbeat power pop. And like I said earlier, the guitar riffs could fit in comfortably at any Glory Fires show.

All these nice words from the same girl I described earlier. The anti-hippie rock, “PICK ONE SOUND” type of kid who hates how everyone’s sophomore album is experimental but ends up defining her favorite bands by that exactly. Except Onehundreds has gone through many incarnations over the past few years, so this is more of a mature sound at their coming out party. And it works very well.

Their first album, Unexpected Magic, sealed their poppy vibe but didn’t give it the smooth addictive quality that Michael Shackelford & Jamie Vance brought when they produced & mixed the new album, respectively. The same big time sound that the Grenadines first hailed is being carried by torchbearers of a completely different vibe.

I caught up with Beth Ragland, drummer for Onehundreds & Feather Canyon. Read it below.

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BHAMFM: How long have you been making music with Onehundreds?

Beth: I have been with Onehundreds since the beginning of 2012.  Their previous drummer had joined St. Paul and the Broken Bones and wanted to focus on that so then they approached me about joining.  I already really liked a lot of their music so I decided to give it a shot.

BHAMFM: In previous bands you’ve played in, you also sang a little. How was it harmonizing on What Science Can’t Explain?

Beth: It was actually a lot more challenging then I am used to, but in a good way.  Ian (our lead singer) has a great voice and on some of the songs he holds out notes for a really long time.  I had to start “thinking like a horn player” and learn how to hold out all these long notes.  I really like singing with Ian though.

BHAMFM: How long ago was the album recorded and where’d you guys do it?

Beth: We started recording the album in April of this year and finished up in October.  We recorded at Tom’s Sound practice space with Michael Shackelford as our engineer.  We had started practicing there and Michael was interested in trying to record some music in the space.  It’s a great space because it has a larger warehouse space that gives a really big sound and then some smaller rooms for more intimate sounds.  It was very much a DIY kind of approach towards the end.  We finished up some songs, vocals and overdubs in our own practice space.  We then sent it off to Jamie Vance to be mixed and mastered, who is a friend of Charlie’s and a wonderful sound engineer who is now based in Portland and L.A.  He did a wonderful job and we’re thrilled with the end result.

BHAMFM: The band itself has been around for a while. How many shows have Onehundreds had with this particular lineup?

Beth: We have played 5 shows since I joined in 2012.  Our last show was in June.

BHAMFM: What is your favorite thing to listen to and get inspired these days?

Beth: Well I always enjoy making mixes so there is a lot going on in those.  Here is some new stuff that I’ve enjoyed lately: I really like the new Cults album Static and there are several songs on that album that I’m digging – I really like the whole thing.  That Janelle Monáe song where she teamed up with Prince is in the regular rotation – Givin Em What They Love.  Look that one up if you haven’t already, you won’t regret it.  I’m a sucker for Prince.  I really like Midlake’s new album Antiphon.  It’s beautifully recorded and has captivating arrangements. I have also been digging on the new Blouse album Imperium.  I saw them last year at Bottletree and didn’t know anything about them and they blew me away.  Their previous album is also one of my favorites that has come out in the past few years. I like Foxygen’s album We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic.  What’s funny about them is that they blatantly rip off the styles of the Kinks, the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, ELO, but there’s something really charming about the way they do it.  Like your little brother decided that one of your old favorite albums is now his favorite and he’s playing it for all his friends.  A few other recent releases – Washed Out – Paracosm, Pond – Hobo Rocket, Arcade Fire – Reflektor, The Black Angels – Indigo Meadow, David Bowie – The Next Day, Casual Sex (it’s a band) – they’ve been releasing a lot of great singles on their Soundcloud, RJD2 – More Is Than Isn’t, My Bloody Valentine – mbv2…Other more random stuff that I’ve been into lately is Supertramp, specifically the album Breakfast in America.  I discovered that my boyfriend had it on vinyl and it has been my favorite thing to put on while cooking or cleaning.  Keith Cross & Peter Ross’s album Bored Civilians is one that Charlie shared with me and it is a beautiful 70s classic rock hidden gem.  I really like Cosmonaut on Vacation’s album Let the Moment Land.  Yay!  A Birmingham band!  I’ll end this there.  Go check them out.  Go check out Onehundreds too!

BHAMFM: Any thing you’d like to let folks know about What Science Can’t Explain?

Beth: The album is being released by Step Pepper Records (http://www.steppepper.com/) digitally, on CD and on vinyl at http://theonehundreds.bandcamp.com. We will have CDs available at the show on Friday but we also have a 180 gram translucent green vinyl available for pre-order at the show.  If you pre-order it on record at the show and live in the Birmingham area Santa will hand deliver it to your door on the week of Christmas!  

 

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No Genre, No Problem: A Conversation with Brian Sella of The Front Bottoms

(The Front Bottoms will be at WorkPlay with Manchester Orchestra and O’Brother on Sunday, November 24th.  The show is reportedly SOLD OUT.)

Banner photo credit: Mark Jaworski

 A quick scouring of The Front Bottoms’ Facebook page reveals the usual information: manager, iTunes links, current location (Jersey, by the way), record label, so on.  However, the band’s choice of “genre” is perhaps more accurate and compelling than even the two-piece band, currently on tour with Manchester Orchestra, even realizes.

Genre: “What’s a genre?”

This description, both wildly vague and dangerously specific, has arisen more and more frequently among artists of the millennial age.  The Front Bottoms are certainly a product of an increasingly ambiguous generation, though not at the expense of carving their own unique niche in the noise of pop culture.

Take, for example, the lyrics to one of their most beloved songs “Skeleton,” from their most recent album Talon of the Hawk (Bar/None Records).  Vocalist/guitarist Brian Sella playfully sings of getting “so stoned” that he “fell asleep in the front seat,” though he “never sleeps in the front seat.”  Much like millennial icon Tyler the Creator, Sella says that The Front Bottoms, collectively, do not engage in stoning activities.  “It’s just not something we do as a band,” says Sella.  Dealing with lyrics-inspired invitations to smoke with fans and fellow musicians is an “easy fix,” says Sella, laughing.  “I just say no thanks.”

The aforementioned album Talon of the Hawk is a satisfying blend of punk, folk, and – yes – even some distinctly pop sensibilities, mostly stemming from Sella’s lyrics and his almost Tom DeLonge-esque delivery.  Not surprisingly, Sella says he grew up on what he calls “Top 40 pop punk,” citing Sum 41 and DeLonge’s Blink-182 as important early influences.  “I distinctly remember my older sister having [the Blink-182 mega-smash] Enema of the State,” says Sella.  As for more recent influences, Sella – without pause – is quick to praise Pusha T’s most recent album, the Kanye West-produced My Name is My Name.

“Genre” is, as clearly perpetuated by the Front Bottoms themselves (rounded out by drummer Matt Uychich), an absolutely inconsequential element of music (and art, in general).  Identity, however, is more important than ever.  The Front Bottoms, as evidenced on Talon of the Hawk standout “Twin Size Mattress” (Sella’s personal favorite), are acutely aware of their evolving role in pop culture.

I wanna contribute to the chaos, I don’t wanna watch and then complain

‘Cause I am through finding blame. That is the decision that I have made.

INTERVIEW: ShuwnRay about success in local hiphop, having a talented family & who’s next in Birmingham

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Childhood photo of ShuwnRay (lower right) & his twin brother Anthem (top)

Not too many success stories / ’cause in my hood it was all sad stories”

The hook of ShuwnRay’s second track on his album 2:32 PM (Birth of a Tyrant) means more to me than most people. And not in the “oh I really get into the music I write about” blogger way.

No. ShuwnRay (or as I know him, Rashuwn Brown) and I grew up together on the west side of Birmingham. I always knew he was special. He’d survived sickle cell disease to become an outstanding student leaving most of us in class looking at him crazy like “damn, now we have no excuse not to do better”. He even makes callbacks to our high school days on Birth of a Tyrant, naming girls who wouldn’t give him the time of day back then and now *surprise* ain’t laughing anymore.

But I digress. He has grown into a genuine artist who makes not only catchy and conscious rap & hiphop, but did it on his own. As he tells the story for everyone to hear on his album, he made a conscious decision to be an artist. He prospered and grew in his craft in his A&M dorm room studio, much to the sacrifice of his grades.

“I wasn’t nor did I want to be popular I was just a skinny dude who wore glasses and his twin bro was a star basketball player,” he says.

His story is not rare. Not even in his family. I also spent my younger days with his twin brother Rafeal. Ralph (as we called him) cut an almost 7 foot tall lanky figure and their family’s infectious smile. He went from Minor High onto Berklee College of Music and now is a producer in Atlanta with Sony/ATV Music Publishing, after a stint with Sony BMG. But Shuwnray’s story is not JUST about his superproducer brother who now goes by Anthem.

To say these guys are lucky is not fair. Hard work is no stranger to them, or anyone from the West side of the Magic City for that matter.

To step away from his latest album, I ride really hard to “Nightcap”, his slow jam single with Dee Skillz.

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When you hear ShuwnRay spit bars on 2:23 PM (Birth of a Tyrant) about success, grinding and working for what he has — this is NOT an immitation of his peers in NYC, LA or any sort of homage to the current obsession with “hustling” in the wider scale of his industry. It’s a part of his DNA.

Read our interview & listen to the record below.

BHAMFM: How long have you been seriously writing & making your own tracks and who were your biggest influences growing up?

ShuwnRay: I started doing music in 2001. I was in a gospel rap group with my brother Rafeal “Anthem,” and my best friend Jarvis Foster. I did music on and off in high school but didn’t find a passion for it until I moved to Huntsville, Al and meeting a bunch of talented artist from all over the nation helped me grow into the artist I am today. One of my biggest influences is my mentor Rodney George. He taught not only me but my brother as well how to produce, and how to count bars and structure a full song. Musically my biggest influence has to be the one and only Scarface.

BHAMFM: Tell me about some of the equipment you accumulated building your dorm room studio and how does that compare to where you record now?

ShuwnRay: I used to record people in my dorm room at Alabama A&M with a Basic HP desktop computer, a headphone microphone, and a house stereo. I did all my recording in Adobe Addition and production in Reason. I honestly believe most of my best work was done in my dorm room and as far as sound it was the best campus because I have a great ear for music. Alot of artist such as Nashville rapper Dee Goodz and Knoxville rapper Young Cos started making music in my dorm room. The difference now is I’m older, my mixing is better, I have better equipment and years of experience. I still record my own music but I try to let other people mix and master it.

BHAMFM: How long did it take you to make the Birth of a Tyrant album and who were you favorite people to feature on the record?

ShuwnRay: I started my 2:32 PM (Birth of a Tyrant) project in November 2012 and finished it in April of this year. I can’t really single out any of the artist on there because every song is dope and each feature brought something different but if I had too I’d say Paradise featuring Cory Savage and Cuttdogg, Never Over featuring J. Dotta of K.L.U.B. Monsta and Mack Down featuring Paper. Never Over is one of my favorite tracks because it’s all me!! In high school I wasn’t nor did I want to be popular I was just a skinny dude who wore glasses and his twin bro was a star basketball player. I originally wanted K.L.U.B. Monsta as a whole to hop on the track but due to scheduling conflicts J. Dotta murdered the song not only for him but for his brothers too. (More of BHAMFM’s love with K.L.U.B. Monsta here, produced by none other than ShuwnRay’s brother Anthem)

ShuwnRay's twin brother in the studio (photo courtesy Sony/ATV Music)
ShuwnRay’s twin brother in the studio (photo courtesy Sony/ATV Music)

BHAMFM: Is collaborating with your brother a big part of your career plan? How often have you guys worked together in the past?

ShuwnRay: When you talk about Birmingham and dope underground music everybody knows about “Anthem”, but many people don’t know this super producer from Birmingham has a twin brother who does music also. If I had it my way, he would be the only producer I work with but things never go as planned. At times I wish we were on the same level musically but I understand this is a business and people are in it to make money and to get noticed. My last two projects were produced by him and when you have a producer who is “hands on” with your entire project and understands what you’re trying to do you create something epic. I hope one day we’ll be able to bang out a project with him behind the scenes in person instead of just sending beats. I understand he has other artists he’s working. Even though he’s my twin brother: musically I’m not a priority yet. I still have to something to prove not only to him but my entire family and show them I’m dope. Now, it’s time to make something happen! For the record — to all those people who think I get my beats for free: NO! I still have to pay like everyone else… but I do get a discount (laughs).

BHAMFM: What is your biggest motivation right now, working on new material for 2014?

ShuwnRay: My biggest motivation right now is not failing! I don’t have a job so music is full-time for me. This year has been good. I’ve done several shows, released a new album that people love and I’m gaining new fans weekly. Last year around this time people didn’t know me. Now they do. A lot of things and people motivated me to go extra hard but not getting chosen to perform at the SXSW Music Festival and A3C Hip Hop Festival really made me say okay it’s time to get it. In a few weeks I’ll be releasing a joint project with Birmingham hip hop artist Dee Skillz entitled Love’s End.

(Editor’s Note: We were lucky enough to get a leaked preview of their collabo. Take a listen below!)

Love’s End is a story about finding love, falling in love, losing love and trying get back that love. Its a very dope project with a concept we all can relate too. I’m working on projects with Jacob Duran and Back Wood ENT. also so be on the look out for those albums sometime next year. I haven’t set a date for a solo ShuwnRay project yet but I am in the stages of acquiring beats, writers and ideas for it but for the most part I’m promoting 2:32 PM until late summer/early fall of 2014.

BHAMFM: Who are your closest allies in the local hiphop community? What singers/mcs should people be paying attention to?

ShuwnRayJacob Duran has to be the closest artist I’m working with right now. We have a lot in common and if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t even be in the position I am right now. He gave me a chance to perform and be a part of The Circuit which opened SO many other doors. Prep Boi Fresh, Heavy, Ben Gudda and the whole Back Wood ENT camp, we’ve been cool since high school so it’s only right to affiliate yourself with people you grew up with plus they make good music and its more of a family situation with them. Dee Skillz, Eugenius and the entire LDLR crew I mess with them hard. Cory Savage is another artist I met last year and we’ve been cool every since. Aside from being a dope artist dude is smart and the conversations we have about life and music are mind blowing.

People should pay attention to K.L.U.B. Monsta, Skoolie Escobar, Jas’mine Garfield, Gabriel Tajeu, Haruskii Stankface.

Also, people need to be on Truth Turner and my homie from Indiana, Flaco. Flaco is super dope and I hope I can get him to come down to Alabama and showcase his music one day soon.

BHAMFM: What performances do you have coming up?

ShuwnRay: As of right now we’re making plans to go to D.C., ATL, Nashville, Knoxville, Baton Rouge and a few more places in 2014. I really don’t have any definite shows in Bham right now but I will be at open mics and checking out other artists’ performances. My plan is to do one more showcase before the year is over so hopefully I’ll have the details about it within the next few weeks.

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Licking Hammers: A Conversation with MC Lars

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Good art is always at the center of any cultural movement, we remember the artists with the fanciest megaphones.  Back in the day, gatekeepers were responsible for who we heard and who we didn’t.  These days, there’s more democracy, so I think we give “rock stars” more props because often times they are more self-made.” — MC Lars

Depending on who you ask, dreams either mean everything at once or nothing at all.  Personally, I believe their meaning lies somewhere between the two.  A neutral significance, if you will.  That being said, I woke up suddenly a couple weeks ago, stricken with the realization that I had just dreamed about MC Lars.  Specifically, I had just dreamed that MC Lars showed up at my apartment with what I now estimate to be at least 100 cheerleaders, all singing the Iggy Pop-sampled portion of Lars’ 2006 single “Download This Song.”  In the dream, I wasn’t surprised by this happening, as it was apparently a part of some monstrously DIY tour he had just embarked on, wherein Lars was attempting to perform the song for every person in every household in America.

As Santa-esquely improbable as that may be, the ambition of such an idea would fit pretty comfortably in the world of MC Lars.  Later that afternoon, I decided to reach out to MC Lars (real name: Andrew Robert MacFarlane Nielsen) to discuss his hindsight-influenced thoughts on “Download This Song,” as well as his upcoming book and future plans

BHAMFM: “Download This Song” was released 7 years ago, yet the message needs little adaptation to remain relevant in 2013.  Does this surprise you?  Has the music industry evolved/devolved the way you thought it would in those 7 years?

MC Lars: “Download This Song” was actually written and recorded in the fall of 2005, the rhymes were essentially a paraphrasing of David Kusek and Gerd Leonhard’s “Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution”, a book that my manager had recommended to me.  What struck me the most was their comparison to music as being synonymous to water – you pay for convenience and quality, i.e. bottled water instead of tap water. I think it’s great how Spotify eventually filled the hole in the music industry, but am frustrated that it took so long to happen.  I made friends with Shawn Fanning this past year, he was working with some of my friends from college in San Francisco, and it’s fitting that his former business partner (Sean Parker) is responsible for Spotify’s success.  Some of the things in that song came true, some didn’t, specifically my speculation that labels would disappear.  They haven’t, they’ve just fulfilled their roles as digital tastemakers.

BHAMFM: How has your outlook on “the industry of art” changed since you first started touring and recording full-time?  Do you feel jaded or have you maintained a positive outlook?

MC Lars: I’m really thankful that I’ve been able to do this for over a decade and finally am at the point where I can save money and plan for the future.  I’ve been given some incredible opportunities which have opened doors (international tours, radio play, the blessing of crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter and stuff like Warped Tour), but the thing I’ve learned that really holds it together is the art itself.  If you are grounded and surrounded by supportive, loving people, that’s when you can make meaningful art.  When you are stressed or have negative people around you, it definitely shows in your work, and it tends to suffer.  I don’t feel jaded – there will always be people making more money than me and having bigger shows, but there will always be that dude at the open mic night, starting from the bottom.  I’m blessed that this is my gig and am really happy that now I get to diversify into other areas like kids entertainment and writing books.

BHAMFM: You were one of the first underground rap artists to both sample and reference “indie” bands.  A few years later, Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) released the extremely popular I Am Just A Rapper mixtapes, which strictly sampled “indie” bands.  Do you feel that your original willingness to pull samples and references from current indie music more or less opened the door for guys like Gambino to capitalize on doing the same? MC Lars: Donald Glover is dope!  He did a track with my friend K.Flay back when he was in college.  I’m not sure about whether he had ever heard about me or not, but I do know that creative sampling has always been the hybridizing lifeblood of hip-hop.  I don’t know if I can take credit for sampling post-punk and indie bands, it was just what I was into at the time.

BHAMFM: As a writer, what’s most important for you?  Words or melody? Do you feel they are mutually beneficial and influential, or does one “carry” the other?

MC Lars: A great beat and great production are both really important – I feel like my best songs had killer hooks that I sampled or co-wrote with people, and then a funny lyrical take on a pop culture topic.  Whole approach to writing songs lyrics has always been like writing a paper: your “hook” is your thesis and your verses are your defending paragraphs.  I love how “Weird Al” Yankovic is the master of the genre reference – his postmodern “style parodies” are amazing, but his masterful music and lyric composition are equally important.  The best artists, in my opinion, had great things to say and an engaging way of saying it.  Atom & His Package is a great example of this – I was listening to him yesterday and his song “the Palestinians Are Not The Same Thing As The Rebel Alliance, Jackass” still makes me laugh.  Melody is more important if you want to get people’s attention, great lyrics are necessary if you want to keep. it.

BHAMFM: Name one album from your younger years that helped shape you, not only as an artist but as a person. MC Lars: King Missile’s “Happy Hour” is one of my favorites, Hall’s poetry is really special to me and his talent with telling stories is a dope extension of the Beat movement.  “Anywhere” is one of my favorite songs.  He wasn’t the best singer, but he did his own thing and made a mark.  I met him when I was a teenager and he was really cool to me.

BHAMFM: Name one album from recent years that you feel is currently shaping you as an artist/person.

MC Lars: I love the new Schaffer the Darklord record, “Sick Passenger”.  He has his own rap style, his beats are awesome and I love how it’s a concept record.  He’s one of my favorite “nerdcore” MCs and he’s making us all work twice as hard!!  I love his skits, I need to step up my comedy game.

BHAMFM: Many would argue that Kanye West or Jay-Z are this generation’s “rock stars.”  How do you feel about this perception?  Do you feel that the cultural shift toward “anti-anti” hip hop (and, thus, away from “anti-anti” rock & roll) was a conscious one?  What truly makes one a “rock star?”

MC Lars: I’m currently writing a book about how the post-WWII counterculture revolution, as reflected primarily in Kerouac, indirectly paved the way for hip-hop.  There is definitely irony in the fact that Jay-Z has a net worth nigher than Samoa’s GNP, but still gives hip-hop props as having its genesis as the voice of an ignored, disenfranchised underclass.  Obama has Eminem on his iPod – what does that say about hip-hop?  People hate rock stars today as much as they celebrate them because we’re not bonded by the same pop culture as we were back in the day.  I admired Miley for acting ridiculous on stage and getting everyone to talk about her because when her record dropped, we were all aware.  It’s harder and harder to do that, so people resort to crazier theatrics and when it works, it’s impressive.  “Wrecking Ball” is a great song, and she knew that midwestern housewives were going to be upset because Hannah Montana shouldn’t be licking hammers in their view.  Yeezy is truly an artist – I love how he pushes people’s buttons, his beats are dope and he always has clever things to say.  Good art is always at the center of any cultural movement, we remember the artists with the fanciest megaphones.  Back in the day, gatekeepers were responsible for who we heard and who we didn’t.  These days, there’s more democracy, so I think we give “rock stars” more props because often times they are more self-made. Hear MC Lars on some transcendentalism tip rapping along to Dead Milkmen about Edgar Allen Poe.

GET TRYIN: The //GT Interview

I talked with Mark Beasley of //GT this week about touring, making their two awesome EPs and their upcoming show at Bottletree this weekend. Go see them play with fellow post rockers Crystal Stilts & Zachary Cale for 10 bucks Sunday night!

 

BHAMFM: You guys as separate members have played in tons of bands before. What was the motivation for forming GT — to play with friends (bandmates Byron Sonnier and Scotty Lee) or to make a sound you all mutually loved?

Mark: The initial motivation was Scotty and his desire to record and perform his compositions. I joined because I liked what he was doing and it has evolved from there.

BHAMFM: Could you give us a little backstory on both the self-titled EP and the Heavy Dreams EP and how it was different recording each? Was the latest an extension of songs you’d already written/played live?

Mark: Heavy Dreams was recorded with Les Nuby (Verbena, Vulture Whale). We were very well-rehearsed on most songs and knocked things out in a few takes. Other than vocals there were no overdubs. Get Tryin’ was recorded with Michael Shackleford (The Grenadines) with some help from Lynn Bridges. Much more guitar overdubs and experimental mixing.

BHAMFM: BLOGGER BLURB TIME. Gun to your head: which of these comparisons you’ve drawn is the corniest or spot on: “Heavy psychedelic punk rock”, “stoner surf” or “Southern grunge”?

Mark: Stoner Surf cracks me up because we really did sound like that at first with all the instrumental sections.

BHAMFM: Two of you work behind the scenes at Bottletree. How did the venues on your recent tour compare?

Mark: We played some really cool spots along the way. I enjoyed O’Sullivan’s in Fort Wayne, IN because I got free beer, which is now an Instagram legacy. The Windup Space in Baltimore was cool with a Twin Peaks inspired stage. We got to see a Baltimore band have a “Replacements moment.” The Milestone IS the Nick of Charlotte, awesome.

Interview: Teddy Rowe (Younger Siblings)

Last week I caught up with Teddy Rowe, singer of local indie pop band Younger Siblings. He also promotes DIY shows locally at venues such as The Forge. Teddy and I talked a little about his band, the Birmingham DIY scene in general, and an awesome show he has coming up with Ashley Eriksson of LAKE and Adventure Time fame.

BHAMFM: I’ve always found that I’m really attracted to bands/artists that can marry quirky/snarky lyrics with classic pop music. Do you find that you’re influenced by artists that do this?

Teddy Rowe: Yeah, to some extent. I think there’s a notion in pop music of all kinds that the singer is revealing some grand secret about him or herself. My songwriting is a lot less autobiographical. We’ve got all of these new songs coming out that are internet and computer love songs. I guess I’m in a little of each song, but I think a pop songwriter distancing him or herself can produce a really interesting piece of work. What I’m saying here is Morrissey needs to sing more about dial up.

BHAMFM: Who are your biggest songwriting and musical influences?

Teddy: In terms of bands, I pull a lot from They Might Be Giants, the Magnetic Fields, and early 80’s indie-pop bands. But lately, I’ve been super into familiar sounds. Like, cartoon theme songs or things like that. I’m really focusing in on creating sounds that take someone back to a place they’ve forgotten about. The Beach Boys are masters at doing this.

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BHAMFM: As a band from Birmingham that’s toured around a little, where are some of your favorite places to play outside of Birmingham?

Teddy: Athens, Georgia: Good food, good friends. Greenville, SC: …The crowd goes WILD. NYC, NY: We’re city boys at heart, you know?

BHAMFM: I know that Younger Siblings did a split 7″ not to long ago with the great Nightmare Boyzzz on Fat Sandwich Records. Are there any immediate plans for upcoming releases from the band?

Teddy: We released a small run of a cassette EP called “Your Very Own” via Spring St. Records for our previous summer tour. We sold out of it on tour, but we’re looking to repress it. Keep your eyes peeled for “Your Very Own” in November or December. It’s mostly old songs I wrote in high school or others we’ve been playing for forever. We’re going to start recording for an album after that. It’s going to have 10 – 25 songs and half of them will be about the internet.

 

BHAMFM: Are you happy with the current diversity of bands in the Birmingham DIY scene? Do you have any favorite bands, or any bands that aren’t getting as much attention as they should be?

Teddy: Yes! I would never complain if their were more pop bands, though. Dommel Mosel continually blows me away. He doesn’t have any recordings, but God, he’s good. Jangly, minimalistic post-punk crooner blues. LBTV is also underrated. He makes music interior design music, you know? Everyone needs to see him play.

BHAMFM: How important is a stable venue like The Forge to DIY music in Birmingham?

Teddy: I feel like at this point it’s ingrained in everyone that a DIY venue must exist. The periods of a new DIY space lying in limbo don’t feel right. House shows are nice, but there are bands Birmingham has been able to see thanks to places like the Forge.

BHAMFM: What are the most challenging things about setting up and promoting DIY shows?

Teddy: Getting people interested and coming out. It’s hard. There’s already a small, select group of people attending shows, and obviously, not everyone in that group will want to go to every show. Even getting the word out about a show doesn’t necessarily translate to people there. It’s frustrating to hear someone say, “Birmingham sucks, because…” when I’m striving to book interesting bands. You may like one show more than another, but there is someone here booking something you will enjoy.

BHAMFM: Can you tell us a little about Younger Siblings upcoming show at The Forge? Who else is playing, and what makes them noteworthy?

Teddy: We have a show on the 23rd of this month with Ashley Eriksson of the band LAKE. LAKE is noteworthy enough as a band, but I suspect that many have heard Ashley’s music and not even realized it. She created the “Island Song” that’s featured at the end of the TV show Adventure Time while the credits are playing. Her tunes range from piano ballads to danceable twee-pop. Dommel Mosel will be rocking the free world as well. All are welcome.

Interview with the organizers of CASK & DRUM Festival

caskanddrum

It seems more and more things are happening in downtown Birmingham these days. With the success of Railroad Park, the creation of the beautiful, new Regions Field (and its success as well), and of course, the current revamping of the dilapidated Avondale neighborhood, it’s clear that downtown is starting to flourish. There are plenty of things to do on a weekend in and around downtown Birmingham but one event in particular has got the city and its Internet community abuzz, Cask and Drum.

It started on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook a few months back as a complete mystery but now, has an identity as a music, wine, craft beer, and food truck festival with acts like Black Rebel Motorcyle Club, Lord Huron, and Dwight Yoakam playing the stages. “A Social Gathering of Sound and Spirits” is how the marketing gurus of Cask and Drum are describing it. To an outsider it might seem like “just another music festival”, but it’s much more than that.

I sat down with one of the people who helped get the legs under this project, local hero, Will Lochamy. If you don’t know who Will is, then you should. Will is a long time Birmingham resident and radio and television host of the Oh Brother Radio Show and The Iron Bowl Hour, respectively. He’s been involved in several other projects in Birmingham and is a champion of the revitalization of our city. Here’s what he had to say about this heavily buzzed about festival.

BHAMFM: My first question is: How did this idea come about?

Will Lochamy: The fine folks from the Lakeview Association came to Scott Register and asked about doing a music festival. From there, Scott immediately thought of Todd Coder (of Ticketbiscuit) because of his involvement with Hangout and everything else he does. From there, myself and Jeff Clanton were contacted, and that’s kind of how the whole thing came together. You know, there’s been a need for a music festival in Birmingham like this for a long time. This is very different than any music festival that’s happened here. I really do think it’s going to be a unique thing for the whole country, not just Birmingham.

BHAMFM: At this point the early tickets online appear to be sold out, but are there opportunities to buy tix at the gate?

Will: Wow. That’s news to me. There are phases of ticket sales. The prices go up on each phase so people are encouraged to buy tickets earlier. VIP tickets sold out almost immediately. That was very early on. There are three different kinds of tickets and three different phases of ticket sales. There definitely will be another phase, whether that is at the gate or online that last week (before the festival). People still have an opportunity. Don’t give up yet!

BHAMFM :What sets Cask and Drum apart from other music festivals around the South?

Will: I think the layout, for one. It’s on a green space. Other festivals are like that, but for Birmingham that’s unusual. Aside from that, just the lineup and the people who are putting this lineup together: Todd Coder, Scott Register, the folks from Birmingham Mountain Radio. I think the lineup that has come together is so different. You have Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Dwight Yoakam, and then, Railroad Earth, that are all playing on the same stage on the same day. Each one of those bands is going to bring their own crowd, and yet, that crowd will still enjoy the other bands. So, it’s not like there’s any band that alienates people or anything like that.

BHAMFM: One of the sponsors for the festival is Schaeffer Eye Center. Is this Crawfish Boil 2.0? It’s the same sponsor and original location, so what would make it different from that festival?

Will: It is the same sponsor. Jack Schaeffer is highly involved in a ton of stuff that goes on in town. It’s incredibly different from the Crawfish Boil, and you can see that from just looking at the lineup. And also, while Cask and Drum is in Lakeview, Lakeview actually spans a huge area. So, it’s not in the same place or even in the same area that the original Crawfish Boil was. That was up in the Lakeview Entertainment District. This (Cask and Drum) is down on the green spaces on 1st Avenue South, kind of near Pepper Place, in between Inline Electric and Alabama Ballet. So, really close to Sloss Furnace, just across the railroad tracks. While Schaeffer Eye Center is awesome and a great sponsor and we are super glad to have them on board, the similarities between Cask and Drum and the Crawfish Boil stop there. There’s nothing wrong with the Crawfish Boil, but this is a very different event.

BHAMFM: Looks like the headliner will be Mr. Dwight Yoakam, aka Doyle Hargraves from Slingblade. What made you guys decide to book Dwight on the bill with these other unique acts? Also, what is the likelihood that he will fly off the handle and go off on a long rant like in the movie?

Will: (laughs at my amazing joke) It really just goes back to the Slingblade movie all together. That’s the only reason we wanted him! No, here’s the funny thing, Dwight’s folks actually came to us. Which was, of course, a huge honor and at that point, how in the world would you turn that down? It’s Dwight Yoakam. Here’s what’s so great: I like Dwight Yoakam, my parents like Dwight Yoakam, teenagers can like Dwight Yoakam. So, he’s somebody who just, across the board, you know is going to be accepted by everyone. And a name like Dwight Yoakam. And the hat, that’s a huge part of it.

This is a major Birmingham event in the fall. It’ll be nice outside and you will feel cool hanging around downtown with your friends, drinking and watching live music. Don’t miss Cask and Drum on October 12th. You know you want to get drunk and sing along to “Guitars and Cadillacs“. Don’t deny it.