Interview – Kylesa

th DSC 00211 150x106 Interview   KylesaIt’s been a pretty eventful month for Kylesa.  They just finished up a tour and Spiral Shadow, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed Static Tensions, was released by Season of Mist on October 26th.  I caught up with Laura Pleasants (guitar/vocals) and Corey Barhorst (bass/keyboards) after their set at Webster Hall a few weeks back.  And although I was barely able to speak due to a cold, and Laura was barely able to hear because she just stepped off the stage, it turned out all right.  Here’s what they had to say:

You’ve been on the road with High on Fire and Torche.  How’s that been so far?

Laura:   It’s been awesome.  We toured with High on Fire in 2005, and we’ve toured with Torche a bunch of times, so it was just like going on tour with friends and family.  It’s been great.

Apart from set times, is there a difference between opening as opposed to headlining?  Do you change the set around for the audience?

Laura:  We just have forty minutes to play, but we’ve been playing the same set every night.

What about your plans after this tour?  Are you planning any headlining tours or anything?

Corey:  We have some stuff in December.  We’re doing some shows on the West Coast; more Northwest.

Laura: Yeah.  We’re playing with Baroness and Black Tusk in Portland, and then we’re playing Seattle and Vancouver.

Corey:  And then between Christmas and New Year’s, we’re doing the East Coast with Clutch for a few days.

Laura:  [To my friend in Clutch shirt] We’re going out with your boys!  Clutch rules!  So that will be a fun After-Christmas party with Clutch for a few days, and then we’re going to Australia.  And I think before we go to Australia that we’re talking about doing some US headlining dates, and I can’t remember if it was going to be West Coast or East Coast.  I think it’s going to be…

Corey:  Both, but at different times.

Laura:  January we’ll do maybe East Coast, and then when we get back from Australia, go to the West Coast.

Spiral Shadows is being released in a couple of days. I haven’t had a chance to see the actual album yet.  Did you work with a producer or engineer?

Laura:  Yeah.  Phillip, our other guitar player, produced it.  He’s produced our past few records.  We recorded at The Jam Room which is in Columbia, South Carolina.  We’ve recorded there for a long time, and we’ve worked with engineers there for a while.  It’s a very comfortable recording environment.

Your albums have some pretty distinct artwork.  How closely do you work with the artists?

Laura:  Album art is especially important, so we work very closely with the artist.

So you give them the ideas?

Laura:  Yeah.

And this album has a black and white cover which says a lot to me.  What is the significance behind that?

Laura:  It’s pretty monochromatic.  Well, there are two different versions.  The digipack is printed on an optical board, so it’s reflective and psychedelic.  We had that in mind with the design.  And it’s the end of a decade.  We were wanting to do something very specific.  The artist we chose does really really good work in black and white, and we wanted to keep the colors pretty simple.

Is there an overall theme to the album?

Laura:  Well, lyrically, there is.  Musically, it’s open to your interpretation.  Lyrically, we had a common theme of distance.

Your lyrics seem very personal.

Laura:  They are.  Yeah.

So with two different singers, do you each write your own lyrics?

Laura:  We do.

Do you discuss what the songs are about first?

Laura:  We do,  and we’ve written lyrics together for so long.  We’ll discuss what we want to write about.  When it get more developed with what the songs are about, we’re just really on the same page.  So writing lyrics to each other is really easy.

I notice that with each album, the different sounds seem to coalesce a lot more.  Is this a conscious decision, or does that just come with being comfortable writing together?

Laura:  That just comes with creative growth; just growth as a musician and jamming together.  We’ve all been playing together for a long time.

And for the record, Don’t Look Back is not a Boston cover?

[Laughter]

Because you’re way off.

Corey: You know, it started out to be a Boston cover, but none of us could figure out how to play the song right.  So we wrote it our own way, and we just kept the title the same.

Laura:  That’s funny.  No one’s asked us that.

Really?  Well, it’s new.

Laura:  Boston’s good.

Definitely.

Laura:  It’s a rocking song.

If you were KISS, and painted your faces for a persona, what would you be?

Laura:  I’d be a lion, because I’m a Leo.

Corey:  I think I’d just be anything green.  Like a lizard or something.

Laura:  No.  No.  No.  Corey would be a fucking weasel.

Corey:  Yeah.  I guess a weasel.

Laura:  That would totally suit you, dude.

Interview: Vanessa Amorosi

*GigJunkie sent us this info their full site and many more articles can be found here http://www.gigjunkie.net

VanessaAmorosi 300x225 Interview: Vanessa Amorosi

Talented Australian vocalist Vanessa Amorosi has just released her fourth studio album ‘Hazardous’ in the UK, following the release of her new single ‘This Is Who I Am’. It’s a collection of hard-edged, guitar pop and electro anthems that ache with attitude and was mixed in LA by Chris Lord-Alge, the studio genius behind much of Green Day, My Chemical Romance and Stevie Nicks.

To date Vanessa Amorosi has sold over 2 million albums internationally and the new album has already reached gold sales in her homeland Australia. Throughout her 10 year career, the APRA Award-winning singer songwriter has also been involved in many impressive musical collaborations most recently with Mary J. Blige and major international events such as the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Vanessa took some time to chat to GigJunkie about the new album ‘Hazardous’, her everlasting love for Prince and her impending plans for a UK tour.

INTERVIEW:

Q. First off congratulations on just having released your new album into the clutches of UK fans yesterday! How does it feel to be here?

Vanessa Amorosi: Thank you! It’s amazing, I love touring Europe and the UK, it gives me such a buzz and it’s so very different. We did two shows over the weekend and that’s just lit the fire for me, now I’m definitely coming back to tour! I’ve been in the UK for about three and a half months now and I leave tomorrow to go back to Australia for a month but then I’m back here in September.

Q. Are you looking forward to going home for a bit?

Vanessa Amorosi: It will be nice. I’ve got a new single coming out in Australia so it’s going to be a bit of running around the countryside, but you know, at least I’m sort of close to my family and friends.

Q. What can you tell us about the album ‘Hazardous’? How does it compare to your preceding record ‘Somewhere in the Real World’?

Vanessa Amorosi: This is the most rewarding album I’ve ever made. When I first started releasing records I used to write stuff about things that I fantasised about or that I Imagined, but this album is very raw and just talking about the things I’ve kept very private. This is the first connection for me and the people that support my career, it’s getting rid of that missing link that was perhaps evident in my earlier albums.

GigJunkie: I’m sure your fans will appreciate a more personal touch to your music.

Vanessa Amorosi: Yes it makes it so much more rewarding because it’s such a truthful album and it’s talking about my experience so it’s really nice to be embraced for being real.

Q. What song from the new album would you recommend to listeners? Do you have any personal favourites?

Vanessa Amorosi: Not really, there’s not really a specific song that I listen to and go “Yes! This is my favourite!” because it just depends on mood. The fact that all the songs represent a certain time in my life that was difficult makes you feel good because now I look back and laugh at it. I think it’s quite funny that I found those things so hard to deal with.

Q. What was the very first gig you ever went to?

Vanessa Amorosi: My first gig was Primus and my second was Mr Bungle. I loved rock music! I was in rock bands as a youngster but didn’t release a rock album as I was so young looking. I sounded really old but I wasn’t, so I started writing a pop record instead.

Q. What has been your favourite gig that you’ve ever attended?

Vanessa Amorosi: I would probably say Presidents Of The United States Of America. That was my favourite gig ever – it was absolutely wild in the mosh pit! I’ve also seen acts like Lady Gaga and P!nk and I love them all, but when The Presidents came out I was a young kid and it was my first time in a mosh pit and it was just so insane, I never ever forgot it. I don’t even think my feet were touching the ground throughout the whole show, I was just propped up by all the bodies around me.

Q. You have toured with many large-scale artists from Rob Thomas to Kiss, is there still anyone you’d love to share the stage with? Any musical idols?

Vanessa Amorosi: Prince! I love Prince. I think he is a genius. But in saying that I’ve also had great role models through travelling with people like Joe Cocker and Jimmy Barnes.
When I tour back home in Australia, I feel so lucky in the sense that I can jump in two worlds and I’m accepted in those two worlds. I can do those more rocky songs in front of rock crowds and be appreciated and then I can step into the pop world with like Katy Perry stuff and still be accepted there as well. It’s so wonderful how it is at home.

Q. Do you enjoy being a solo artist or do you sometimes wish you were in a band?

Vanessa Amorosi: No I love being a solo artist. I don’t have to ask anybody to approve the decisions of where I’m taking my production *laughs*. In saying that though, I also have a wonderful team, it takes a really strong and passionate team to get music out all over the world. But musically I like the fact that I’m responsible and that I have to deliver and the only person that can let me down is me.

Q. Do you ever find yourself battling pre-performance nerves when singing in front of large audiences or has it become second nature by now?

Vanessa Amorosi: Oh no, it’s so second nature! It’s so part of the routine now, I just don’t see myself being without it.

Q. You obviously go by your full name Vanessa Amorosi – if you ever decided to create a stage name for yourself what would it be?

Vanessa Amorosi: *Laughs* Ohh I remember in the beginning of my career a discussion with my old manager who asked me; “What is your stage name going to be?” and I think for nearly a year and a half we invented some of the craziest names in the world. In the end it just seemed much easier to keep my real name. As far as stage names go, I’d probably just have a symbol and try and do what Prince did. I’d have a really crazy, funny symbol – like a weird V with an elephant or hippopotamus underneath it.

Q. What is the best and worst thing about being a celebrity?

Vanessa Amorosi: Hmm.. I don’t quite think about it, I keep a pretty normal life, as normal as it can be. But I suppose the worst thing about being a celebrity would probably be being judged in a public way. That’s very difficult especially if you stuff up, because there’s nowhere you can go and everybody knows you’ve done something wrong. But at the same time, if I wasn’t famous I wouldn’t be making my own music and enjoying what I am doing now.

Q. Throughout your career, you’ve won many awards, been involved in musical collaborations and major international events – what has been the highlight of your career to date?

Vanessa Amorosi: I think it’s the journey that I have with the people that support me. I’ve grown up with them. I don’t like calling them fans because it feels insincere, I’ve gotten to know my fans really well and I’ve grown with them, they’ve got family and kids of their own and they come along and it’s like an adventure. That’s the best thing about making music; it’s a journey, not a one-night thing. It’s been 10 years in the making and I have a really great bunch of supporters out there.
In fact, at one of the shows I recently did here, my street team, which are my hardcore fans flew all the way out here to come to the shows and support me. I love it! I’m telling you it’s a journey.

Q. What advice do you have for people who want to pave the way for a successful music career?

Vanessa Amorosi: I would say perseverance – you have to work on it every day, nothing happens overnight. It may take you 10 years to get to where you want to be but if it’s really what you want it will be worth spending 10 years, it will be worth the sacrifice.

Q. What can we expect from you in the next few years? What’s in the pipeline for you?

Vanessa Amorosi: Travelling and touring. I really want to start getting a show on the road out here and that’s my aim for the beginning of next year. We’ve got some shows booked in for Germany now, but I really want to tour all of Europe and the UK.

Q. Any final words for your UK fans?

Vanessa Amorosi: Just please check out my new album and make your own opinion on what my music is like and whether it relates to you. And if it does you are more than welcome in any one of my shows and I’d love to hear from you!

www.vanessaamorosi.com/

By Shannon Andreucc

Interview: Dr.Dog

drdog 300x198 Interview: Dr.Dog

Throughout the last decade that cemented the role of the talent show, as the crooked road into a music career. In West Philadelphia, a jaunty, often lyrically simplistic, but dusty, mysterious and genuine old school indie epitomising act Dr Dog, carried on producing ranging album after ranging album. Taking recognition when it came and not grumbling or changing their ways when it didn’t. Driven by founding members Scott McMicken, and Toby Leaman, Dr. Dog have found the right balance between repetition for impact and, repetition that is not grating and irritating. If only they’d have taught that skill to The Subways then the world would be a better place?

2008’s horn fuelled and piano tinkered sojourn of ‘Fate’, is probably the album that people with a little more than a passing interest in Dr. Dog would tell you to purchase if you only purchased one album of their albums. However, there is an argument for proclaiming that the best introduction to this ranging band would be ‘Easy Beat’. The full range McMicken and company is on offer here, from longing and bluesy to carefree, fuzzy and poppy. Keyboardist, Zach Miller agrees to uncover the veil on their, at times, mysterious ways and approach.

1. Is it an internet myth, half-truth or fact to say that it was My Morning Jacket who helped you achieve recognition, when in 2003 their front man, Jim James got hold of a copy of one of your demos? Do you still have much to do with them?

Zach: Fact. We haven’t had anything to do with them “professionally” since that tour until Jim came to sing on our new record. We still see them around the country and remain good pals but we hope someday to do another tour together.

2. Arguably your most popular of your six albums is, ‘Fate’. Do you agree with this? Describe your moods whilst compiling it, what were your aims with this one?

Zach: I’m pretty sure if we haven’t sold more of “Shame, Shame” we definitely will by the end so not by that measure. But sure up until the new one, most people knew “Fate.” Anyway we wanted to make a more musically direct album this time with less ornamentation.

3. You’ve been around as a band since the turn of the last decade. How do you think that this last decade will be remembered (talent shows aside of course)?

Zach: Digital democracy decade. Nobody had webpages or cellphones or emails when we started. All that stuff was just beginning. It’s a lot different now. Now you have a webpage before you have a band

4. How representative is your new album ‘Shame Shame’, to the sound/vibe of your back catalogue? Before penning this album did you take time to reflect on your previous material?

Zach: No. We were just focusing on the songs and responding to the mood of the lyrics. We don’t really look back to make sure we’re in line with our sound or anything like that. We know who we are and we know what kind of music we like and, we know we can make music that we love to listen to and that’s really our only mind-frame at the time.

5. Describe the Philadelphia scene that you expanded out of, how well did you fit in with it?

Zach: The scene at the time we were coming up was amazing. There were so many great bands who unfortunately didn’t really make it out with us. There are some who are still active but in the beginning I thought “wow, all of these bands are going to be huge” but it didn’t really work out like that.

6. Which of your songs sum up your current mood and why?

Zach: I’ve had “I Only Wear Blue” in my head for a while now. I don’t know if it’s speaking to anything though.

7. A topical question; are festivals a good or bad thing for music?

Zach: I think they’re at best a good showcase, but they can be special. You’re really working against the odds in a lot of those situations. You have to completely set up and soundcheck in 20 or 30 minutes and pray that nothing goes haywire. Then thousands of people show up and you have to play 45 minutes in the sun and wind while trying to get your monitors right. It’s a good test for a band and it’s a good chance for people to see a lot of different music. I’ve seen a lot of bands I never would have seen otherwise so sure I think they’re a good experience but for most bands it’s far from a definitive experience.

8. For me, the album that covers your full range is the understated ‘Easy Beat’. From the delightfully reflective, yet upbeat, key tinkled pop out of ‘The World May Never Know’, through the maudlin blues acoustic led ballad of ‘Dutchman Falls’, to the crooked jaunty acid indie folk trip of ‘Fools Life’. You display depth emotion and heart skipping through genres with abandon. How do you remember this album? And do you agree that it represents Dr Dog at your most varied?

Zach: I guess that’s probably true, at least stylistically. We recorded that in our home recording style in the basement of my house where we practiced. There was still a lot of trial and error and we didn’t really know how to do a lot of stuff so we had to come up with workarounds, like recording drums and cymbals separately. On top of that the songs were from all different times so there were a lot of different perspectives on display there.

9. How do you want leave people feeling after they have witnessed one of your live shows?

Zach: Happy.

Interview: Westfold

wgroup 300x225 Interview: Westfold
For the last couple years or so, Mark Palumbo, Tony Reyes, and Simon Carrillo have been rocking the underground scene in their home base of Portland, Oregon. And with the addition of drummer Nic Moen, as well as the release of their third EP, which is a self titled re-definition of an acoustic trio turned electric manic suppressants.

Though the city of Roses is wear our boys primarily lie their tweed hats down, the band has their roots in the home of the most famous crack, Philadelphia, PA. I have a selfish obsession with promoting these guys whenever possible. They were actually my very first exploit as a new to the game music blogger. I also like to think of myself as a pretty damn good thinker. And being the utter genius that I am, I finally realized that I have been contributing to a wonderful music blog based out of Philadelphia, Comfort Comes, for the last two years. And when it comes to all things Portland indie rock related, Crappy Indie Music The Blog reigns supreme, and have let me throw in a different interview to their site once before. Then it just made sense. Bring the two cities together, if only for a quick interview. Let the worlds collide. So, for the few folks who might read this, take a chance to visit the blog these words are also having the day on.

I had the opportunity to reconnect with the band’s lead guitarist and vocalist, Mark Palumbo, via a series of questions and corresponding answers via e-mail (which we have both decided is really a rather convenient way to go) in which we discuss the band’s latest EP, their upbringing, and, of course, paint covered blood stains and bullet holes.

For the Crappy Indie Music readers who might have missed Ben Meyercord’s constant plugs and mentions, or Goldie’s long time love for you guys, how would you describe Westfold?

Westfold is a group of friends who spend most of their time hanging out together while writing Face Melting Indie Rock.

So, we know you currently rock the hell out of Portland, yet have deep roots in the city great city of Philadelphia. What exactly is your connection with both cities?

Portland is our hometown. We all live here and love it. Philadelphia is where Tony and I grew up and met. I go back every once and a while to visit family and friends.

What brought you guys out to the Northwest?

We didn’t come to Portland together. I moved out here in August 2001 as a transient. I was in a band called The Wayward Symphony with my friend Rodney Shank. We wanted to start new. {Portland made sense. So I packed a bag and my upright bass and took a train west. We didn’t have jobs or a place to live. We played on the street for money and slept in a disgusting hotel downtown. It was the type of place where they just painted over bloodstains and bullet holes in the room.

Once we got settled in, Tony came out to visit. We had a blast together! Until that point we hadn’t hung out in years. I was shocked when a few months later, Tony called me with news he was moving to town. At that point I started writing songs on guitar and Tony was just learning bass. We then started a band called Jacobin.

Was it directly after Jacobin, that Westfold was born?

Yeah. Simon and I started hanging out. We had this idea for “dual songwriter” acoustic songs. Westfold grew from that beginning.

What sort of, if any, music were you and Tony playing/becoming inspired by when you were growing up in the home of Rocky?

Tony and I always seemed to be in bands that were on the fringe musically. Heavy and bizarre. Lyrically, our past bands were thought provoking and poetic. I was a drummer back in the day. Tony was a guitarist.

Do you think that your music still holds a bit of east coast influence?

Maybe a little. It’s still in our blood. I don’t really think about that kind of stuff much.

You recently released your third, and arguably your finest, EP. What do you think it was that made this one so different from your first two releases?

There were a few things that made this last recording different. First of all, we never intended on releasing it. We planned on just recording a demo to send to labels in hopes of landing a deal to record our first full length album. Also the speed in which we recorded. We finished everything in just 32 hours. I think that by working so diligently, it captured a moment in time without over thinking. Like a diary page that has charm, honesty and flaws. Plus it was our first time working with engineer Adam Pike at Toad House [Recordings]. He’s amazing! If we ever get the backing to record the new songs we wrote this winter, we want to work with [Pike] again. He knew his stuff and really made us feel comfortable in his studio.

For long time cult followers, the general style of Westfold might have seemed to have changed pretty drastically over the last couple of years. You’ve progressed from an experimental folk group, to a band with a much heavier and complex sound, to say the least. What do you think has inspired such a change?

I started playing electric guitar again last year. That has a lot to do with it. We still write on acoustic but when it’s translated to electric the sound builds. The four of us have recently been writing collectively with more ease than ever.

So, can we expect to hear the newly transformed version of you guys from here on out?

We hope so. It’s been a humbling learning process. Westfold intends to continue to go forward and always take a new approach to each new song. Simon and I still play the occasional house party with acoustics. We still enjoy the intimacy that an unplugged set creates. The full band just continues to grow in a very natural sense. Being fully electric has definitely changed us for the better, though. We’re so excited about the new songs we’re working on. We’re like kids in a candy store.

Any plugs you would like to throw out before we close this up?

The Portland band Themes is on the top of my list. They just finished recording in the studio and played us a sneak peak. It’s amazing! Also, The Taxpayers are about to leave Portland on a two month tour. I recommend checking out their show if they come to your town. They’re going to be in Philadelphia towards the end of July. They’re having a bit of trouble booking a show there so if anyone can help them please do so. My favorite band in Philadelphia is Sweetheart Parade. I love those guys. I usually play a show with them when I come to Philly, and Joshua Britton plays with Westfold when he comes to Portland.

Westfold’s latest self titled EP is now available on iTunes.

If you are in the Portland area, or plan on making your way out the upper left coast, be sure to catch Westfold playing at The Know on July 9th.