Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Son Of A Gun interview with Nick Usalis and Garrett Luczak


Every once in a while in the midst of all these would-be 60s psych garage rockers you come across these days there’s someone that’s just channeling that proto-punk meets psychedelic garage rock vibe perfectly without even really trying to, and you can tell.  There’s an honesty and integrity to that kind of music that just can’t be fabricated or duplicated in my opinion.  And god damn we need more bands like Son Of A Gun right now!  The infectious qualities of their sound prove that there’s a healthy dose of pop something-or-other going on, but there’s such a tasty snarling edge to the mid-fi production quality and reverberated echoing vocals and guitars you can just turn them on, tune on in, and flip-the-fuck-out with ease!  Son Of A Gun recently unleashed their debut album on an unprepared world in the form of their No Bread 12-inch for Chicago’s Tall Pat Records at the tail-end of 2014.  I happen to have been keeping up with Tall Pat since they opened their doors and they have yet to disappoint at this point, or in fact amaze.  In keeping with that proud Tall Pat tradition No Bread is a devastatingly effective debut album, absolutely all killer and no filler.  Nothing on the album clocks in at over three-minutes, there’s almost always room for a nice tasty solo or break-down of some sort and Son Of A Gun always makes sure to cram as much reverb, fuzzed out insanity and fun as they possibly can in there for good measure.  From the minute I dropped the needle on No Bread I was subconsciously bouncing around the living room like a coke addled pinball, bobbing my head and hammering imaginary air-drums in spastic fits of involuntary convulsions like Animal in the opening scenes of The Muppet Show.  It’s an experience that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.  Songs like “Look So Good”, “Accident”, “Hangin’ Up On Me” and “Shape” are some of the sweetest garage psychedelia I’ve heard in forever.  There’s a timeless sense to Son Of A Gun’s sound as well, it’s something I don’t hear too often, and unfortunately right now with so many people trying to sound like they do, it’s something that I’m afraid will almost invariably ensure that Son Of A Gun won’t get half of the respect that they so richly deserve while they’re around.  From early beginnings as a one-man bedroom project Son Of A Gun has bloomed into a captivating, dare I say enthralling?  Fully realized live band with a debut album under their belt that sounds as well-oiled as most bands third release, which is usually just about the time they’re loosing they’re steam and the songwriting is really starting to fall off.  Fortunately for all of us, Garrett Luczak had been perfecting the sound of Son Of A Gun for years before he ever put together a full live band of contributing musicians, and you can tell.  I recently got a chance to sit down with Garrett as well as longtime guitarist Nick Usalis and have an in-depth conversation about the band’s earliest incarnations and output, where they’re headed from here, as well as a glimpse inside of the creative process for Son Of A Gun during those periods.  So follow me intrepid readers for a trip down the rabbit-hole, things will never be quite the same once you’ve taken the trip.  Tomorrow colors will be the brightest you’ve ever seen, your food will be the best you’ve ever tastes, the air the freshest you’ve ever smelled.  In short your world will be a little bit of a better place for having heard Son Of A Gun…  Talk about mind-expansion through art!
- Listen while you read:  https://sonofagun.bandcamp.com/


I know you all have been around for a while.  What’s the lineup in Son Of A Gun at this point?  Have you all gone through any changes or is this the original lineup?

Garrett:  Son Of A Gun originally started as me recording everything by myself in my bedroom in August of 2012.  I didn’t start playing live until 2013 with a slightly different lineup than we have now.  Right now, it’s me on guitar and vocals, Nick Usalis on guitar and vocals, Sammy Meyer on drums, and Chris Zalejski on bass who has been in Son Of A Gun since the first show.

Are any of you in any other bands right now or do you have any active side projects going on right now?

Garrett:  Yeah, Nick and I play in a band called The Rubs which is putting out a full-length on Tall Pat Records, who just recently put out our [Son Of A Gun’s] latest album, this spring.  I also play drums in a band called Gross Pointe that is releasing our first single on Hozac soon.  Sammy’s currently playing drums in Paul Cherry and also dabbles in guitar with his side project called The Chips. 

Have you released any music with anyone else in the past besides Son Of A Gun?  If so, can you talk a little bit about that?

Garrett:  I played in a couple of bands in college, but we never had a real release.  One of those bands was called Beer Helmet.

How old are you and where are you originally from?

Garrett:  All of us grew up in the Chicago suburbs.  I’m twenty-four, Nick and Sammy are twenty-three, and Chris is twenty-five.

What was your home like when you were growing up?  Was there a lot of music around or anything?  Were either of your parents or any of your close relatives musicians or extremely interested/involved in music when you were growing up?

Garrett:  When I was nine, my dad and I started taking guitar lessons and he has always been very supportive of the jams.  Several of my older cousins who played in bands had a bit of an influence on me also.

Nick:  I also got into playing music at a young age.  Nobody in my family was a musician, except for my grandfather who played the accordion.  I used to go over to his house and play this old Gibson knock-off acoustic guitar that one of my grandmother’s friends gave to her.  That’s when I figured out I really liked guitars. 

What was the local music scene like where you grew up?  Did you get very involved in that scene or see a lot of shows when you were younger?  Do you feel like that scene played an important role in shaping your musical tastes or the way you perform at this point?

Garrett:  For the most part, the music scene in the suburbs was pretty happening about twelve years ago.  There were tons of all-ages shows, mainly at places like the VFW or Knights of Columbus.  I played in a few bands in Junior High, but that scene I was a part of didn’t really stick.  All of our musical tastes have evolved passed pre-pubescent pop punk.

What do you consider your first real exposure to music to be?

Nick:  Hearing Black Sabbath’s Paranoid album for the first time in my dad’s station wagon while on a fishing trip.  I was probably eight years old.

Garrett:  My dad also exposed me to some good tunes when I was a kid.  I remember him playing a lot of Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.

If you were to pick a moment, or a small series of moments, that seemed to change everything for you musically and changed everything, what would it/they be?

Garrett:  I think skateboarding in elementary school opens you up to a lot of music that maybe you wouldn’t find till you’re older.  The whole band skateboards, so I bet we probably all share discovering some jams through skate videos very young.

What was your first instrument?  When and how did you get that?

Garrett:  My dad bought me a Fender Dual Sonic when I was about five years old.

Nick:  My dad also bought me my first electric guitar when I was in first grade.  I think it was called a Slammer Hammer.

When did you decide to start writing and performing your own music?  What brought that decision about for you, or was it more of just a natural reaction to being given a new outlet and opportunity to create something and express yourself?

Garrett:  I started writing songs when I was in fifth grade because I didn’t know how to read guitar tabs and I didn’t feel like learning, so I just made up my own stuff.  By the time I was in junior high I had a band of my own that would play places like the teen center.  I still don’t know how to read tabs.

How and when did the members of Son Of A Gun meet?

Garrett:  I’ve known our bass player Chris since freshman year of high school.  He’s been along for the ride since day one.  I met our drummer Sammy at the Empty Bottle through another friend of mine.  We started playing a lot of shows with his band The Morons and we ended up putting out a split 7-inch together.  I eventually asked Sammy to join Son Of A Gun and we played as a three-piece for about six months until I met Nick at a party and asked him to hop on board as a second guitar player.

What led to the formation of Son Of A Gun and when would that have been?

Garrett:  I moved back home from college and all the college bands I was in pretty much dissolved. My ex-girlfriend and I were in one of the bands, so when we broke up that summer I just wanted to make music even though I didn’t have people to play with.  That was like June of 2012.

What does the name Son Of A Gun mean or refer to in the context of your band name?  Who came up with and how did you go about choosing it?  Are there any close seconds that you almost went with you can recall at this point?

Garrett:  Son Of A Gun comes from a song title from the band The La’s.  It doesn’t really have any significance to the band itself, I just needed a name to release the music under and I happened to see it on the back of the record I had and it sounded like a good fit for the music I was making.

Is there any sort of shared creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by, spoken or unspoken?

Garrett:  No ballads.

Where’s Son Of A Gun located at this point?  How would you describe the local music scene where you’re at?

Nick:  Right now we’re posted up at our cozy rehearsal space in Garfield Park, which is very close to the Logan Square neighborhood where we play most of our shows.  I think the Chicago music scene is one of the best, if not the best in the country right now.  There are tons of people making rad music out here.  We’ve only been a part of it for a short amount of time compared to some of the other bands, but I get a real sense of community.  Everybody is friends with each other and seems to give a shit and will help you out.  Another cool thing is that there are tons of DIY venues.  New ones seem to pop up every few months.

Are you very involved in the local scene where you’re at?  Do you book or attend a lot of local shows or anything like that?

Nick:  We try to make it out to shows as often as we can.  You can almost go out every night of the week and see your friends play.  We do book shows from time to time.

Do you feel like the local scene has played an integral role in sound, history or evolution of Son Of A Gun?  Or do you feel like you would be doing basically what you are and sound like you do regardless of where you were at or what/who you were surrounded by?

Nick:  I think that the Chicago music scene has had a slight impact on our sound.  Everyone is influencing each other to make music, but we all have our own flavor. 

Do you record or release any music for anyone besides yourself/Son Of A Gun?  Are you involved in running or operating any labels or anything like that?  If so, can you tell us about that here?

Garrett:  I currently run Lo-Fi Supply which was originally started as a company where I screen printed my own artwork on beer koozies and t-shirts.  Lo-Fi released The Morons/Son Of A Gun split 7-inch and a tape for The Morons called My Ear Hurts.  We haven’t put out any music recently.


How would you describe Son Of A Gun’s sound to our readers who might not have heard you all before?

Garrett:  A pinch of 60’s garage and psychedelic music with a dash of 70’s proto-punk and rock n’ roll.

Speaking of your sound, I’m curious who you’d cite as some of your major musical influences?  What about influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?

Nick:  We’re heavy into proto-punk type stuff like The Stooges and MC5, as well as garage music from the 60s like The Sonics and The Shadows of Knight.  We’ve been told that our music sounds like a blend between the two.  We’re also influenced by current artists such as OBN IIIs and Ty Segall to name a couple.

What’s the songwriting process like for Son Of A Gun?  Is there someone who usually comes to the rest of the band with an idea for a song or a riff to work out with the rest of you or something like that?  Or do you all like to get together and just kind of kick ideas back and forth or jam until you hit on something that you’re interested in working on and refining from there?

Nick:  There’s really no specific way we write songs.  It’s sort of sporadic.  Sometimes we’ll come up with a riff during practice, and other times it’s Garrett and I sitting down together to write.  Sometimes we write songs on our own and bring them to the table.

What about recording?  Over the years recording has been the death of a lot of great bands, and while I think that most musicians can appreciate the end result of all the time and effort that goes into recording when they’re finally holding that finished product in their hands, getting to that point can be an excruciating chore sometimes.  Getting things recorded and sounding the way you want them to and even seemingly small things like getting it properly mixed and mastered can prove to be painful processes indeed.  What’s it like recording for Son Of A Gun?

Garrett:  We started recording everything ourselves, with no real idea what we were doing.  We realized how stressful it was to record yourself once we wanted our recordings to actually sound good.  We went to the studio which was very stress-free for our last album because we recorded it live, and had someone who knew what the hell they were doing.  But I think we’re going to try recording ourselves again very soon.

Do you all like to take a more DIY approach to recording where you handle most of the technical aspects of recording on your own so that you maybe don’t have to work with or compromise on the sound with anyone else, or do you all prefer to head into a studio and let someone else worry about that headache so you can concentrate on the music and getting things to sound the way you want them to from the very start?

Nick:  Being in total creative control can be very fun, but also very stressful.  You can drive yourself insane trying to mix and master a song to sound the way you hear it in your head.  We decided to head into a studio to record the LP because we knew taking on twelve songs on our own would be a challenge.  We wanted to get these songs pressed to vinyl as soon as possible.  We wanted to get the songs out there.  Our guy Dave Vettraino at Public House Recordings did an awesome job on the record and we’re really happy with the way it turned out.  I think we might take a DIY approach to our next release since I just recently acquired some new recording gear though.

Is there a lot of time and effort that goes into working out exactly what a song’s going to sound like before you record, with every part of the arrangement and composition all worked out ahead or time, or do you all just get a good skeletal idea of what something’s going to sound like while allowing for some change and evolution during the recording process?

Garrett:  Most of the songs are finished products and are being played live by the time we record them.  We leave a lot of room for experimenting while recording, though.



I know a lot of people don’t know exactly how to take this question but people have been tapping into the altered states that drugs and alcohol produce for the purposes of making art for thousands of years.  I’m always curious about their usage and application when it comes to the art that I personally enjoy and ‘consume’.  Do psychoactive or hallucinogenic drugs play a large or important role in the songwriting, recording or performance processes for Son Of A Gun?

Garrett:  We don’t take hallucinogenics, but we do like to party!

Nick:  I think we’re more productive when we’re sober when it comes to writing and recording new material.  It’s different when it comes to performing though.  We like to get loose!

You all have kept up a pretty intense schedule of self-releasing material, taking full advantage of places like Bandcamp, constantly offering up new recordings for fans.  Let’s talk a little bit about the recording of your back catalog for a moment here.  As I mentioned you’ve released a lot of digital material but I’m going to try and concentrate on some of the hallmarks and physical releases here.  In 2012 you released the Son Of A Gun album which I know is still available digitally on your Bandcamp page, but I saw some spotty information about a cassette version that I couldn’t verify as well.  Was that every physically released at all?  Can you share some of your memories of recording that first material?  When and where was that at?  Was that a fun, pleasurable experience for you or more of a difficult and nerve-racking proposition for you all at that point?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

Garrett:  The self-titled album never actually saw a physical release.  I recorded this album out of summer boredom and heartbreak.  I had just gotten cheated on by my girlfriend of three years and I was trying to use my emotions in a creative way.  I wasn’t worried about how it all sounded; I was just trying to find some sort of release.  I recorded all of the songs in my bedroom using GarageBand.

You also released the Treading Lettuce cassette in 2012 as well.  Was the recording of the material for Treading Lettuce very different than the session(s) for the self-titled Son Of A Gun release?  Where and when was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?  Now, I know that Treading Lettuce saw a cassette release.  Who put that out and do you know how many copies it was limited to?

Garrett:  Treading Lettuce was never physically released.  That album was also something I recorded alone in my bedroom with GarageBand.



2013 was a busy year for you all.  To start, Why Pick On Me? dropped the self-titled Son Of A Gun EP cassette.  Can you tell us a little bit about the recording of the material for the Son Of A Gun EP?  When would that have been?  Where was that recorded at?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

Garrett:  I recorded all of the songs for that tape in my bedroom right before hopping on a plane to L.A. that same day.  That was around June of 2013.

You also dropped the Gross Pointe split cassette for the ever sick Dumpster Tape.  I know all of their releases are pretty much limited edition affairs but I couldn’t find any concrete numbers on that release, do you know how many copies that was limited to as I know it’s already long since sold-out?

Garrett:  I think that release was limited to only a hundred copies.  We still have a couple left for sale in our personal stash.  We can be bad about setting up our merch at shows.



You all dropped an EP as well as your debut full-length album in 2014.  The Take EP was released on cassette by Why Pick On Me? who are constantly killing it with their limited run tapes.  Can you tell us a little bit about recording the material for the Take EP?  Who recorded and where was that at?  When would that have been and what kind of equipment was used this time around?


Garrett:  These are the first recordings we did as a full band.  Half of the EP was recorded at our practice space and the other half was recorded at Nick’s house.  We did it in January, I think, over a couple weekends.  We just used what ever recording junk we had lying around.


As I mentioned before, you also released your debut album for Tall Pat Records, No Bread in 2014 as well.  Did you all try anything radically new or different when it came to the songwriting or recording of the material for No Bread?  What can our readers expect from the new album?  Where was the No Bread material recorded?  Who recorded it and when would that have been?  What kind of equipment was used?


Garrett:  We recorded No Bread in May of last year at Public House Recordings in Logan Square.  The approach to this album was a bit different.  Songwriting was different in the sense that Nick was contributing to songwriting instead of me writing all of the material.  It was also the first time we had been in a studio.  There’s a huge difference in quality when comparing it to the previous recordings, as well as access to different instruments like organs and a stylophone. 


Does Son Of A Gun have any releases that we haven’t talked about besides the digital only stuff that’s readily available on your Bandcamp page?

Garrett:  No.  Everything that we’ve released is up on Bandcamp.  However, we were asked to record a couple songs at this studio called Treehouse Records as part of their series ‘Monomonthly’.  If you want a taste of what’s to come, you can find two brand new songs on their bandcamp page.


With the recent release of the No Bread album I would normally hesitate to ask, but you all keep up an insane release schedule.  Does Son Of A Gun have any other releases in the works or on the horizon at this point that you can talk about?

Nick:  We’re about to start on recording five or six songs.  Nothing set in stone yet.

Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up your music at?

Nick:  Everything is available for purchase online.  You can buy the new album at tallpatrecords.com and Dumpster Tapes’ online store.  Other than that, you can purchase our music at most Chicago record stores, like Bric-A-Brac, Permanent Records, and Reckless Records.

With the completely insane international postage rates that just seem to keep going up and up I try and provide our readers with as many possible options for picking up imports as I can.  Where’s the best place for our overseas and international readers to pick up copies of your stuff?

Nick:  Online for sure.  The labels that release our stuff accept international orders.  Other than that, you can purchase a digital download on Bandcamp.

And where would the best place for our interested readers to keep up with the latest news like upcoming shows and album releases from Son Of A Gun be?

Nick:  Follow us on instagram @sonofagunboyz or like our Facebook page!

Are there any major plans that Son Of A Gun is looking to accomplish in 2015?

Garrett:  We’re hoping to get an EP out and write material for our next LP. 

What, if anything, do you all have planned as far as touring goes right now?

Garrett:  We’re planning on hitting the road in July, possibly starting in Minneapolis and make our way down to Austin. 


Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road?  Do you enjoy touring?  What’s life like on the road for Son Of A Gun?

Garrett:  We don’t spend much time on the road.  We play most of our shows in Chicago and neighboring cities and states.  We have a DVD player in our van, so touring is probably gonna be pretty sick. 

What was the first song that Son Of A Gun ever played live?  When and where would that have been?

Garrett:  I think the first song that we ever played live was “Faceless Man” in a shitty basement bar called The Underground Lounge in February of 2013.

Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you all have had a chance to play with over the past few years?

Garrett:  We’re all big fans of Uh Bones, The Sueves and The Yolks (Interview here).  We love to play with those guys!


Do you give a lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent, stuff like flyers, posters, shirt designs, cover artwork, and that kind of thing?  Is there any kind of meaning or message you’re attempting to convey with the visual side of Son Of A Gun?  Is there anyone that you usually turn to in your time of need when it comes to the visual side of the band?

Garrett:  I try to create all of the visual stuff myself.  My day job is teaching art and I make a lot of art on my own, so I don’t feel like we need to seek outside help for our visual representation.  I also think doing all the artwork for the band myself helps create a cohesive visual image.

With all of the various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the methods that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for you own music?  What about when you’re listening to or purchasing music?  If you do have a preference, what is it and can you tell us a little bit about why that is?

Garrett:  My preference has to be vinyl.  There’s something so permanent in putting out your music.  You can throw a hundred songs on Bandcamp, but it ain’t official until it’s out on vinyl!  It also sounds so good, especially if you have a nice turntable and stereo, it’s like a religious experience.  I love buying and listening to records, I think I have a record buying problem…  


Like it or not, digital music is here in a big way right now.  I think that when it’s combined with the internet is when things get really interesting though.  Together they’ve exposed people to the literal world of music that they’re surrounded by and it’s allowed bands and their fans to communicate like never before in history, thereby eliminating a lot of geographic boundaries and limitations that would have crippled bands even a few years ago.  On the other hand though, while people are being exposed to all this amazing music they’re really not that interested in paying for it right now and a lot of people have started to see music as this kind of disposable entertainment to be used and then discarded when they’re done with it.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Garrett:  It’s cool to share the tunes online where someone from Germany can hear your stuff, but if you like the band, you’ll buy the record.

I try to keep up with as many good bands as I possibly can but there’s just not enough time to sort through all the amazing stuff that’s out there right now.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to I might not have heard of before?

Nick:  If you haven’t already, I would definitely check out Uh Bones.  They’re making some pretty groovy tunes and they’re putting out a full-length on Randy Records this year.
Garrett:  Check out The Sueves and Skip Church!  Both are projects of badass artist Joe Schorgl.


What about nationally and internationally?

Garrett:  We played with this band called The Make-Overs from South Africa (Interview here), they were pretty cool. 


Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me so much about the band!  It was awesome getting to learn so much about the band and getting a glimpse inside of the creative process for the band.  Since you took the time to make it this far and I don’t have any thing else to toss at you I’d like to open the floor up to you for a moment here.  Is there anything that I could have possibly missed or that you might just want to take this opportunity to talk to me or the readers about at this point?

Garrett:  We advise everyone to KUT LOOSE.


DISCOGRAPHY
(2012)  Son Of A Gun – Son Of A Gun – Digital – Self-Released
(2012)  Son Of A Gun – “Lightnin’ Strikes” – Digital – Self-Released
(2012)  Son Of A Gun – Treading Lettuce – Digital – Self-Released
(2013)  Son Of A Gun – Sample This – CD-R – Self-Released
(2013)  Son Of A Gun – Colors – Digital – Self-Released
(2013)  Son Of A Gun/The Morons – Son Of A Gun/The Morons Split – 7” – Lo-Fi Supply (Limited to 300 copies)
(2013)  Son Of A Gun – Son Of A Gun Does “Wooly Bully” – Digital – Self-Released
(2013)  Son Of A Gun – Merry Christmas From Son Of A Gun – Digital – Self-Released
(2013)  Son Of A Gun – Live At Cole’s – Digital Self-Released
(2013)  Son Of A Gun – Son Of A Gun EP – Digital, Cassette Tape – Why Pick On Me? (Limited to 50 copies)
(2013)  Son Of A Gun/Gross Pointe – Son Of A Gun/Gross Pointe – Cassette Tape – Dumpster Tapes
(2014)  Son Of A Gun – Take EP – Digital, Cassette Tape – Why Pick On Me? (Limited to 100 copies)
(2014)  Son Of A Gun – No Bread – Digital, 12” – Tall Pat Records

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015

Bridesmaid interview with Bob Brinkman


I’m a guitar guy usually, so when I read a description of Bridesmaid’s music I wasn’t actually sure how they were going to sound, let alone if I was going to like it all.  In fact, all I knew for sure was that it was instrumental drum and bass.  In the end, I’m actually glad I went in with very little idea of what I was going to hear as it allowed me to be more open-minded when checking out their stuff in the end, and thank all that’s holy I was.  It only took one prolonged dosage to Bridesmaid’s toxic brand of instrumental sludge and I was hooked.  Pummeling walls of low-end distortion clash and explode in fits of muddy chaotic noise, almost threatening to drown out the drums at times in the heady psychedelic brew of gnarled and twisted music.  Bridesmaid truly is an epically heavy band in more ways than one.  Featuring dual drummers and dual bassists, Bridesmaid probably doesn’t sound quite like anything else that you’re listening to.  Instead of trying to sound like anyone else they’re busy building new inlets, exploring the murky haze of mystique and mystery that surrounds the instrumental psychedelic, rock and metal genres.  Songs like “Count Of Monte Fristoe” are seriously infectious dosages of sludge-ridden psychedelic proto-metal, I mean, at least I think they are.  I’m actually still not exactly quite sure what the hell to call what Bridesmaid does other than fucking awesome.  Their debut 12-inch, the brilliantly titled Breakfast At Riffany’s, pivots effortlessly back and forth from the deepest pits of the heaviest and bleakest valleys of the desolate and annihilated metal landscape where much of their sound seems to be drawn from, and these awesome psychedelic explorations into that very outer limits of more varied rocky and garage-esque takes on the stripped-down and brutal sound that Bridesmaid produce.  Hell, it’s almost easy to forget that there isn’t a guitar on some of their tracks, which I will admit surprised the hell out of me on first listen.  The call and return on “Ralpha Centauri” is on par with some of the amazing live antics that earned Cliff Burton a place on my list of personal bass heroes and one of the greatest bassist of the last century; and if you know me, you know I don’t toss around Cliff Burton or John Entwistle comparisons often, as in like, at all.  There’s just something about the way Scott Hyatt and Bob Brinkman approach composition and arrangement that not only elevates them out of the would-be kitschy bass and drum sub-category labeling that’d be so extremely easy to force on them, but cements their place as one the most savagely interesting and original bands happening right now.  I could go on and on about the wicked, gnarled, distorted, and dystopian sounds that Bridesmaid’s music seems to excrete forever, but I’ve whinged on enough at this point.  Instead, I’m just going to urge you to click on the link below and check out “Baron Von Mitchousen” for yourself.  The six-minute long all-out assault on the senses revs up to a blistering volcanic eruption of sound before stalling out in mid-air like a suicidal fighter pilot executing some insanely dangerous aerial maneuver mid-battle plummeting towards the frigid waters below before pulling up at the last minute and obliterating the enemy plane he was avoiding.  And perhaps more than any other song I’ve come across “Baron Von Mitchousen” personifies Bridesmaid’s incomparable abilities in conjuring some seriously sinister sonic lethargy as well as equally devastating blows of devastatingly fuzzed out and maniacal metal.  So treat yourself to some music at the link below, join the coven and soon you’ll be just like your Uncle Jerk brothers and sisters, just another empty vessel with one single goal, to preach the wisdom and word of Bridesmaid - like me.  So I ask you, can you dig it!?!  I said can you dig it!?!
- Listen while you read:  https://bridesmaid.bandcamp.com/


I know you all have been around for a while.  What’s the lineup in Bridesmaid at this point?  Have you all gone through any lineup chances since you started or is this the original lineup?

Bob Brinkman, Bass - Scott Hyatt, Bass - Ricky Thompson, Drums – Adam Boehm, Drums.  The original drummer was Cory Barnt, but he moved recently.  During the transition period we did shows with two drummers, Ricky and Cory.  We liked it so much we added Boehm.  

Are any of you in any other bands or do you have side projects going on?

I’m in Drose and sometimes Axebmober and Battle Axe, but these bands are only sporadically active.  Scott has Ves, Before the Eyewall who are touring, and Siouxplex, and Ricky is in Barely Eagle, Muscle Puzzle, and Drose.

Have any of you released any music with anyone else in the past?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about that?

All my bands have at least recorded demos at some point, but nothing as official as the Bridesmaid stuff.  Drose does have a record coming up but the details are still being finalized, though.

How old are you and where are you originally from? 

I'm thirty-four and from Lima, Ohio.

What was your home like when you were a kid?  Was there a lot of music around or anything?  Were either of your parents or any of your close relatives musicians or extremely interested/involved in music?  

My hometown was pretty depressing, not much in the way of job prospects.  My parents made my sisters and I take piano lessons but I never stuck with it.  One of my cousins played piano for the first president Bush.  In high school there were a lot of grindcore shows/DIY punk shows and I saw a lot of bands from all over the world as a result.

What about the local scene where you grew up?  Did you get very involved in the scene there or see a lot of shows or anything like that?  Do you feel like it played a large role in shaping your musical tastes or the way you perform at this point?

It introduced me to the whole DIY ethos.  I don't think the local scene did much to shape my current tastes, though, other than getting me involved in music and understanding that anyone can do it if they want to.    

What do you consider your first real exposure to music to be?

Probably playing with Legos while my older sisters watched MTV.  There was quite an age gap and they were in high school while I was in elementary school.  

If you were to pick a moment, or a small series of moments, that opened your minds to the infinite possibilities of music and changed everything for you, what would it be?

I think one of the biggest things was getting over the notion that music had to be ‘cool’ or in certain genres.  There's no such thing as a guilty pleasure or embarrassing record to own.  If music’s good, listen to it.  

What was your first instrument?  When and how did you get that?

Piano, I was forced by my parents.

When did you decide to start writing and performing your own music?  What brought that decision about for you, or was it more of just a natural reflex to being given a new opportunity and outlet to create something of your own and express yourself in a new way?

When I started playing bass in high school, at fourteen.  I knew right away I wanted to start a band, but it took another couple of years before I had one.

How and when did the members of Bridesmaid originally meet?

Cory and I were in our first high school punk band together, Suburban Mayhem.  Scott I knew from playing shows with one of his old bands, Locusta.  Ricky and Boehm we knew from around the local Columbus scene as well.

When and what led to the formation of Bridesmaid?

Cory moved to Columbus, and I knew Scott was in to amp hording and sludgy/droney music.  I had just lost a job and gotten out of an unstable relationship, so I had a lot of free time on my hands.

What does the name Bridesmaid mean or refer in the context of your band name?  Who came up with it and how did you go about choosing the name?  Are there any close seconds that you almost went with you can recall at this point?

We sat around making metal poses and saying words until we couldn't stop giggling, Bridesmaid was the one that sounded the funniest when you said it while doing the “I'm holding an invisible orange” pose and grimacing.

Is there any sort of shared creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by, spoken or unspoken?

Not to take ourselves too seriously.

Where’s Bridesmaid located at this point?  How would you describe the local music scene there?

Bridesmaid is in Columbus, Ohio.  It’s a college-town with one of the only radio stations left that isn't owned by Clear Channel.  There's a pretty lively music scene with something for everyone, and most of the people involved in it are approachable and fun to be around.  

Do you feel like you’re very involved in the local scene where you’re at?  Do you book or attend a lot of local shows?

I book a lot of shows, my attendance has fallen off recently though.  I need to get better about going to shows that I didn't book or aren't playing to stay in-touch with the other bands around town. 

Has the local scene where you’re at played an integral role in the sound, evolution or history of Bridesmaid or do you feel like you would be doing basically what you are and sound pretty much like you do regardless of where you were at or surrounded by?

The support from local bars and media has been huge in letting us tour and keep it going; Carabar in particular pays bands a share of the bar's take that night instead of charging a cover.  This lets me hook up all the bands that help us on the road, as well as drum up some extra cash for tours of our own.  Ace of Cups and a newer venue, Spacebar, have been hugely helpful as well.  There are also some decent punk houses on campus.  

Are you involved in recording or releasing any music besides your own/Bridesmaid’s?  Are you involved in any labels or anything like that?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about that here briefly?

Drose has two albums worth of material that I’m somewhat involved in, though Dustin from Drose writes it all.  It’s his baby.  I can't say much about what’s going on with the record that’s on-deck to be released other than I’m excited about it.  I was a fan-boy that weaseled my way in to the band during a lineup change.  


How would you describe Bridesmaid’s sound to our readers who might not have heard you all before?

Sludgey riffs that go from heavy to something you can bob your head to, depending on our mood.  

You all seem to draw influence from a ton of different places and the more I listen to your stuff the more I can pick out.  I’m curious who you’d cite as some of your major musical influences?  What about influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?

I mostly listen to stuff from the 70s, a lot of prog rock and proto-metal.  I listen to a lot of new stuff too, but my favorite stuff usually ends up being tied to music from the 70s.  As a band about the only thing we ever agree on in the car is The Medea Connection's Bell Ringer or old Motown stuff.

What’s the songwriting process like for Bridesmaid?  Do you all get together and just kind of kick ideas back and forth or jam until you hit on something that you’re all interested in working on and refining, or is there someone who usually comes in to the rest of the band with a riff or an idea for a song to work out with the rest of you?

Scott and I bring in riffs or whole songs, then we refine them as a group.

What about recording?  I mean, I think that most musicians can appreciate the end result of all the time and effort that goes into recording and releasing an album when they’re finally holding that finished product in their hands.  But getting to that point has been the death of man a great band over the years.  Even seemingly small things like getting the recordings mixed and mastered properly can prove to be excruciating to say the least.  What’s it like recording for Bridesmaid?

Cory did most of our mixing, and will probably continue to do so even though he isn't technically in the band anymore.  We generally try to record most of the stuff analog, then do digital overdubs and mixing.  The last record was mastered at The Boiler Room in Chicago and it was a wonderful experience.  You don't understand how good your music can sound until you hear it in a mastering studio.

Do you all like to take a DIY approach to recording where you handle most of ht technical aspects of things on your own so that you don’t have to work with or compromise on the sound with anyone else?  Or do you like to head into a studio and let someone else get behind the board and tackle that headache so that you can concentrate on getting things to sound the way you want them to from the very start?

We find people we’re comfortable working with, then involve them in the process as much as possible.  We don't own enough equipment, or at this point know-how, to do it all on our own and get the results we want.  The mixing is really the only thing done all in-house.  We're hoping to go to a studio in town for the next batch of songs which has twenty-four tracks of tape to work with, which will be amazing since previously we only had sixteen for the record, and eight for the 7-inch.

Is there a lot of time and effort that goes into working out exactly how the arrangement and composition is going to be before a song’s recorded, with everything locked in and airtight, or do you all like to get more of a decent skeletal idea of what something’s going to sound like while allowing for some evolution and change during the recording process where you feel necessary or prudent?

This is kinda backwards from other bands, but we road test everything.  By the time a song ends up recorded we’ve probably played it in three or four cities, including our own.  Once it's locked in its' pretty much set, except for a little bit of studio trickery.  


I think a lot of people don’t exactly know how to take this question, but I swear I don’t mean this in any insulting or demeaning way.  People have been tapping into the altered mind states that drugs and alcohol produce for the purposes of creating art for thousands of years at this point, and despite what I believe to be ass-backwards laws around the globe at this point, I’m always curious about their usage and application when it comes to the art that I personally enjoy and consume.  Do psychoactive or hallucinogenic drugs play a large or important role in the songwriting, recording or performance processes for Bridesmaid?

Scott is straight edge, I love hallucinogenic drugs.  So drugs don't really come in to play in Bridesmaid, other than I prefer to play music relatively sober since I like to jump around and be high energy while I play; I’ve noticed being out of my skull isn't conducive to that.  My record collection is pretty much built around dropping acid though.  Ricky and Boehm are closer to me in their views on drugs.  

Tell me a little bit about recording your back catalog for a minute here.  In 2011 you all dropped the 7-inch split with Sun Splitter for Bastard Sloth Records.  Can you share some of your memories of recording that first material?  When and where would that have been at?  Who recorded it?  Was that a fun, pleasurable experience for you all at that point or more of a painful unnerving prospect at that point?  What kind of equipment was used?

We recorded our part of the 7-inch at Columbus Discount Recordings with our friend Andrew.  He asked us to come in as part of his internship.  It was recorded in a day on 8-track tape.  There were breaks to pick up fancy hotdogs from Dirty Frank's.  


You also self-released The Davy Jones Industrial Average CD in 2011 as well; just awesome title by the way!  Was the recording of the material for The Davy Jones Industrial Average very different than the session(s) for the earlier Sun Splitter single?  Who recorded the Davy Jones material?  When and where would that have been at?  What kind of equipment was used this time around?


It's around this time that we started naming all our songs after our friends; we would just make terrible puns on their names.  Davy Jones got a whole EP out of it, he's on the cover.  Some of it was from the same session as the 7-inch and some of it was live recordings of us doing a student radio thing in Cleveland at Case Western University.


A while back in 2013 you all self-released the Breakfast At Riffany’s 12-inch which also happens to sport one of the best names I’ve come across in a long while!  Did you all try anything radically new or different when it came to the songwriting or recording of the material that would make it onto your first full-length vinyl release?  Where was that material recorded at?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used this time around and when would that have been?


The songs have gotten shorter and more up-tempo.  We used a 16-track tape machine, I forget the model, whole racks of crazy preamps only the studio could probably tell you about, and some Pro Tools.  This was our first time with guest spots too, and we lucked out as far as that went.  Dallas is from a band called The Swan King in Chicago, and is also now in Pelican.  Aaron performs under the name Nyodene D and is well known and respected in noise circles.  Scott and I both use 2x15 bass cabs that are copied from Sunn 215bh cabs that our buddy Joel builds, along with 4x12 guitar cabs.  Our amps at the time were a mix of Acoustic Control Corp and Sunn stuff; all solid state.  I've recently switched over to tube amps, so the next record may sound a bit different.  

Recorded by Brian Simakis and Travis Lautenschlager at Club Sandwich in Columbus. 
Additional recording by our old drummer Cory Barnt. 
Mixed by Cory Barnt. 
Mastered by Collin Jordan at The Boiler Room in Chicago.
Credits:
Dallas Thomas plays guitar on “Francis with Wolves”. 
Aaron Vilk plays synthesizer on “Francis with Wolves”. 


Does Bridesmaid have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a demo, a single or a song on a compilation that I might not know about?

There was the first demos recorded in 2009-ish, you can find them on some torrent sites, but the quality is pretty low and personally, I think the songs are boring compared to what we do now.  It was fun at the time but there were a lot of droning/slow riffs.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Hyatari is one of my favorite bands, they kill at that kind of stuff; we didn't.

With the release of Breakfast At Riffany’s a while back at this point in 2013, are there any other releases in the works or on the horizon for Bridesmaid at this point that you can tell us about?

We should be recording in June or July, it's not scheduled yet.  Then, hopefully a release over the winter and a spring tour to follow that up.

Where’s the best place for our interested readers in the US to pick up copies of your stuff at?

You can order them from http://bridesmaid.bigcartel.com/ or come to our shows.  Some record stores in Chicago and Columbus will have them too, but we don't really have any distribution.

With the completely bat shit international postage rates these days I try and provide our readers with as many possible options for picking up imports as I can.  Where’s the best place for our international and overseas readers to score your stuff?

We’ll ship records to anyone overseas, I have no problem doing it, but as you said it's kind of insane.  I feel bad charging like twenty bucks for shipping, but that’s what it costs us.

And where would the best place for our interested readers to keep up with the latest news from Bridesmaid like upcoming shows and album releases be at?


Are there any major plans or goals that Bridesmaid is looking to accomplish in 2015?

Get the follow-up record recorded. 

What, if anything, do you have planned as far as touring goes right now?

We're heading to Texas and back next week, then a few sporadic out-of-town and in-town shows for the rest of spring.  We’re playing a metal fest camp out in Pennsylvania in the fall, Shadow Woods Metal Fest.  There won't be any tours over a few days until the next record’s done.  Two weeks on the road at a time is kind of our max.


Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road?  What’s life like on the road for Bridesmaid?  Do you enjoy spending time on tour?

We have a blast for the most part.  You meet a lot of nice folks along the way.  The shows don't always go as planned, but they’re always fun.  It's hard getting people out to see an unsigned instrumental band on a Tuesday night in a city you've never been in.

Do you remember what the first song that Bridesmaid ever played live was?  When and where would that have been at?

It was in November 2009, at a bar Called Hal and Al's in Columbus.  It's not there anymore, no clue what song was first though.  Scott might remember.  That was back when we just picked random lines from The Ten Commandments and used them as song titles.

Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with over the past few years?

I love The Proselyte and The Swan King both as bands and people.  Sun Splitter, obviously, Hellbender ripped when they were around, and we did a show with Elder in Boston once that was a real treat.  I think they’re going to be blowing up soon, if they aren't already.  The best part about going to Texas is playing more shows with Lechuguillas and Terminator 2.  I really wish I could just write a list of all the bands that help us and play shows with us, because we couldn't do this with out them.  

Do you all give a lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent, stuff like flyers, posters, shirt designs, and cover artwork?  Is there any kind of meaning or message that you’re attempting to convey with the visual side of Bridesmaid?  Is there anyone that you usually turn to in your times of need when it comes to the visual side of Bridesmaid?

We let Ralph Walters run wild with the dumbest shit we can think up.  He's amazing.  The first logos were done by an old band-mate, Artie.  He's also really talented and I love the lettering he does on his flyers, but he's more of a traditional metal-art kind of guy.  Ralph's silliness just fits better with us though, and we’re glad he's willing to work with us as much as he does.  He does a lot of artwork for stoner and doom bands, and some commercial artwork for a brewery.  

With all of the various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the various methods that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music?  What about when you’re listening to or purchasing music?  If you do have a preference, what is it and can you tell us a little bit about why?

Digital and vinyl for both release and personal use.  I like digital for the portability and ease of use, I like vinyl for the whole experience of opening up the packaging and thumbing through the art, actually having something to hold in your hands.  I got rid of my CDs a long time ago, after I ripped them all to MP3s.  I’m kinda meh* to the whole tape movement.    
[*Editor’s Note:  ‘meh’ is an interjection used as an expression of indifference or boredom.  It may also mean "be it as it may".  It is often regarded as a verbal shrug of the shoulders.  The use of the term "meh" shows that the speaker is apathetic, uninterested, or indifferent to the question or subject at hand.  It is occasionally used as an adjective, meaning something is mediocre or unremarkable.]

I grew up around a pretty massive collection of killer music and I was encouraged to listen to just about anything I wanted to from a pretty young age.  My dad would take me out to the local shops and pick me up stuff on the weekend and I developed a whole ritual for listening to music which has led to what some people call a lifelong love, and others often refer to as an obsession with, physically released music.  There’s just something about having an object to hold in my hands that I know is concretely connected to what I’m hearing which offers a rare and brief glimpse into the mind of the artists that created in and has always made for a much more complete listening experience for me.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

That goes back to what I was saying about vinyl, it's great to look through all the different packaging and colors.  The weight and feel of it is great too.  

Like it or not right now digital music is here in a big way.  I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg really though, I mean when you toss the internet into the equation, then you have something really interesting on your hands.  Together they’ve exposed people to the literal world of music that they’re surrounded by and it’s facilitated a completely unprecedented level of communication between bands and their fans.  On the other hand though, while people are being exposed to all this amazing music most of them aren’t really that interested in paying for it.  I think a lot of people have either begun to see music as a disposable form of entertainment or free soundtrack to their lives, which will be there either way, whether they pay for it or not.  As a musician during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Since I never had the illusion of being able to make a living off my music I’m all for it, it lets what I’m making be heard by people that never would have otherwise.  I can understand why some people who were staking their livelihood on record sales would be upset, but I look at it as free advertising.  The downside though, of course is that there’s a ton of stuff getting put up on the web now.  It's hard to get some one to pay attention to you right away when there’re millions of other people trying to do the same thing.  

I try to keep up with as many good bands as I possibly can but there’s not enough time to sift through all the links that are floating around out there.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to that I might not have heard of before?

Hiram Maxim is a new band from Cleveland that I was impressed by.  Lo Pan are the undisputed kings of the Columbus road dogs at the moment. 

What about nationally and internationally?

Sardonis is really good in my opinion, and if you don't know about Circulus, Follakzoid or Litmus already I would look in to them, that is some serious drug doin' music.  


DISCOGRAPHY
(2011)  Bridesmaid/Sun Splitter – Bridesmaid/Sun Splitter split – 7” – Bastard Sloth Records (Gold Wax Vinyl limited to 100 copies, Black Wax Vinyl limited to 400 copies)
(2011)  Bridesmaid – The Davy Jones Industrial Average – CD – Self-Released
(2013)  Bridesmaid – Breakfast At Riffany’s – 12” – Self-Released

 Interview made by Roman Rathert/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Male Gaze - Gale Maze (2015) review


Male Gaze "Gale Maze" (Castleface Records, 2015)

A band that is commonly described as a super group, Male Gaze is already full of seasoned vets in the California music scene. Featuring former members of Blasted Canyons and Mayyors, this band is ready to make big waves. This album is full of crunchy guitar driven songs that are leaning more on the "punk" side of post-punk. Heavy 80s vibes are flowing throughout the album that makes you feel like maybe California is a little less sunshine and happiness and more closer to a gloomy London feel. Strap on your most beat up leather jacket, buy a pack of the cheapest cigarettes you can find, and get ready for a ride to a literal Death Valley. Be sure to check out Blasted Canyons while your at it, best band on Castleface Records in my opinion, and that label is a god damn treasure trove of amazing bands!


Review made by Matt Yablonski/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015

Yury Morozov - Cherry Garden of Jimi Hendrix


Yury Morozov "Cherry Garden of Jimi Hendrix" (1973/2015)

Morozov may be Russia’s most prolific artist, with estimates of more than 100 albums in his discography before his passing in 2006. This reissue of his 1973 masterpiece (hailed as “Russia’s first psychedelic album”) appends a healthy selection of bonus tracks from the same period (ca. ’74-’76). The variety of musical styles is staggering, from Beatlesque pop (McCartney is rumoured to contribute drums to one track!) to experimental musique concrete to avant garde jazzy skronk to eerie, haunted house organs (most of which are present in the offbeat opener “The Day Will Come”. Morozov recorded everything himself in his homegrown studio, often with homemade mixers and other recording equipment. Like Bevis Frond, Balduin, and Rick Corcoran, Morozov squeezes as much as possible out of his primitive surroundings, often dropping every sound effect he could muster into the proceedings.
Vocals occasionally grate, with his excursions into the upper registers particularly unsettling. But for every wackadoodle workout, there’s a pleasant pop song dying to get out, with “My Friend Pony” veering from acoustic folk to  Beefhartian shenanigans all under three minutes. Fans of electronic experimentalist Joe Byrd (United States of America, The Field Hippies) may enjoy Morozov’s “Hippie Song” and the title track, which includes maniacal screaming/singing/chanting that reminds of Ya Ho Wa 13 at their supreme heaviest.
Lyrics won’t help unless you speak or understand Russian, but the English translations may give you an inkling of what transpires inside Morozov’s head: “Requiem for a 6-String Guitar and A Boa”, “In The Kingdom of Masks” (a beautiful, flute-driven folk tune), and “Exhibition of Geishas” are some of the more colourful titles! The rest of the album reveals unusual surprises around each turn, whether it be wacky, helium-induced vocals, fractured fuzz guitar workouts, soothing acoustic folk meanderings, Sgt. Pepperish toytown pop, and other excursions just too weird to put into words! From the Bert Janschy “I Believe Anyway” to the fractured acid folk of “The Last Night” to the wacky, Bonzoid “Everybody Is Hiding Something” to the Country Joe & The Fish-like singalong frivolity “Please Allow Me Just A Little Bit”, this is an exciting collection of home made music from a genuine overlooked talent. Hopefully some of those other 100 albums will start to trickle out. Morozov’s wife Nina is hoping to obtain funding for issuing more of his albums, so visit his excellent, informative website (in both Russian and English) if you want to help out.

Review made by Jeff Penczak/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015