Occasionally I'll read a nice musician interview - here's one from someone whose music is not normally my thing, but I always make time to read an interview with him because he's got interesting things to say.
Never heard of the other guy but good value too. And I vividly remember Elton John doing a beautiful job on Candle in the Wind at Diana's funeral - that performance made me cry, and I'm pretty sure he was crying too.
This reminds me of something that happened when I was staying at a school friend's place for a weekend when I was 13. They were nice welcoming people to me, which was a bit of a change in this xenophobic little rural town in which I went to middle school newly arrived in Australia. I remember having a little trouble with the amount of fat in the Australian-rural-style roast - the roast was swimming in the stuff, and it was poured off and kept as dripping to return on sandwiches and to roast vegetables in down the track...
Anyway, we were early-teenage girls and it was 1984, so we were listening to music, could have actually been on Countdown, can't remember, but a Boy George song was on when my classmate's Elton-John-fanatic dad came into the lounge room and said, "Boy George is gay, you know!"
So bloody what. Typical bloody cultural homophobia at the time. But we shot straight back at him, "Hello, so is Elton John!" and it devastated the poor misguided man. Could never enjoy his favourite artist's music the same after that. People are so strange.
At least her father kept it to teasing and unnecessary remarks, which was bad enough. My own father bashed me in the face for having a poster with a "poofter like that" up on my wall the following year. :persevere:
You'd think we've come a long way in 30-odd years since, but in some ways we haven't.
Metal isn't my thing, but selected bits of it are in my husband's multi-genre collection, so I pricked up my ears and read this interview:
I was particularly interested in this part of the interview, which is relevant to a topic on this forum (http://curefans.com/index.php?topic=9116.0) about Killing An Arab
, which some people (yours truly not included) seemed to think The Cure should stop performing, not because of what the song was about but because of how it was often misinterpreted by nincompoops:
QuoteEven though you weren't physically present, Rage Against the Machine's Killing in the Name was chanted at the Black Lives Matter protest in Portland, but it was also chanted by pro-Trump supporters in Philadelphia. How did that feel?
First of all, there's no accounting for stupidity. There's a long list of radical left anthems that are misunderstood by bozos who sing them at events like that, from Woody Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land to Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA to John Lennon's Imagine – those people have really no idea what the hell they're singing about. The one thing that I speak to in all of those instances is that there's a power to the music that casts a wide net, and that's a good thing, not a bad thing. In that net, there will be the far-right bozos, but there will also be people that have never considered the ideas put forward in those songs and are forced to consider those ideas because the rock'n'roll is great. You can either put a beat to a Noam Chomsky lecture – no one wants that, but there's going to be no mistaking what the content is – or you can make music that's compelling.
So you don't try to serve people with a cease-and-desist order when they misuse your music?
When they were using Rage songs for torture in Guantánamo, we sued the state department, but no. My take is: "Go enjoy the rock'n'roll. You look like fools, but go enjoy the rock'n'roll."
Didn't really know where to put this, but it's (kind of) an interview with Mogwai producer Dave Fridman about work on their latest album:
Quote from: undefinedDespite the challenges of producing the album remotely, Dave Fridmann's work on the latest Mogwai album saw the band top the charts for the very first time.
"Mogwai is one of those bands that's ultra‑dynamic, that goes from ear‑bleeding volume to deafening silence. If you go to one of their shows you'll experience a full range of emotions because of those dynamics, and because it's so visceral when they're loud. My job was to try to make the visceral experience of a live concert come out of a pair of stereo speakers, or tiny computer speakers, or earbuds. That's not an easy task.
"In general, it is why I have bands come into my studio and perform their music here, and I'm in the room with them listening, experiencing their music in the way they experience it. I'm not sitting in the control room. When you do that with Mogwai, it's absolutely mesmerising. Capturing that is not as simple as just recording them straight. There's studio trickery involved in getting that across on a home stereo system. I hope that I can bring some added value to the table here, not only with Mogwai, but in working with anybody."
In these two paragraphs Dave Fridmann summarises many of the essential aspects of his production and mix work on the latest Mogwai album, As The Love Continues.
Fridmann has worked with Mogwai off and on since the band's second album, 1999's Come On Die Young. He also worked on the follow up, Rock Action (2001), and again on their ninth album, Every Country's Sun (2017), and most recently on As The Love Continues. The latter, which went to number one in the UK (the band's first chart‑topping effort), came into being in a rather unusual way. Fridmann directed the recording sessions via Zoom, which may seems like a rather remote, impersonal, digital approach for someone so fond of the warmth and humanity of analogue gear. However, while countless people the world over are by now absolutely fed up of relating to others via a screen, the American has a different perspective.
"I'd actually argue that even as Zoom is a digital format, it's an analogue experience. We were looking at each other in real time. We were hearing each other in real time. We were interacting in real time. I couldn't pause reality. It was just like being in the room together. If we had been sitting in the room together, we'd have had the same conversations.
QuoteQ: Peter Buck has said "New Test Leper" is his favorite R.E.M. song of the band's whole catalog. What still resonates with you from the album?
Mills: I don't listen to R.E.M. records for pleasure, but "How the West Was Won and Where it Got Us" is so eerie and spooky. It was an incredibly organically created song. Bill started playing the drum line, the piano just fell out of me, and in about three minutes we had a framework of the song. It's rare and exciting and when something happens that fast – it's usually pretty good. There's a reason it came out like that. That song was meant to be.
Stipe: I would agree with "New Test Leper." It's a song that I worked very, very hard on. I wrote seven completely different drafts and narrative arcs and through all seven I landed on one after watching a daytime TV talk show and someone we would have referred to then as a transvestite was presenting their idea about why they felt compelled to express themselves. That song followed me. I just couldn't land it. I can remember the couch I sat on when it hit me, and when I wrote that story down on a notebook. That song and "Man on the Moon" (from 1992's "Automatic for the People") are two of the most difficult I wrote.
QuoteI want to talk a little bit about your life post 90's. That's definitely an era for you that's much less documented. I'm interested to hear about what was going on then and what your life was like. In the late 90's you moved to Germany. What precipitated you deciding to move to Europe?
I started living in the middle of Germany, in Darmstadt. I didn't know it at the time, but it's a huge city for Stockhausen and experimental music. Later I moved to the south, which was more rural. It's more the Black Forest style. That's when I was playing with the twins in the Go-Luckys, and was actually living with their parents. I almost felt like a teenager again.
You're wanting to know about a time that was weird, because at that point I realized I wasn't a success and I wasn't going to be. It was kind of a transition for me to realize that I needed to find a way to make sure I could take care of myself, and music wasn't going to be it. It was sort of that period too, where I was thinking "I don't know what I'm doing, I'm an old woman already." The songs were definitely about feeling a lack of connection, not knowing what's ahead and not knowing how to plan. Not really feeling like I was going to live much longer, really; there's a lot of suicide talk in the songs.
That said, some of the best songs that I ever wrote were during that period. I don't know if you've ever heard "Dreaming" and "Don't Neglect Yourself" and "I Mean Nothing", but those are pretty amazing songs that I wrote when I was really living on the edge back in America, hardly being able to keep it together. When I left Germany I went back to Chico and went back to school. I was living out of my van the first six months, just living as cheaply as I could.
I was doing radio, I got to be the voice of the North State at KCHO radio, an NPR affiliate. I got to be the voice in-between broadcasts for Morning Edition or All Things Considered. I loved it, but at eight dollars an hour how can you survive?
But basically there was a transition, where I realized if I didn't do music for love then I shouldn't do it because it certainly wasn't profitable, and I felt like I was taking from people more than I was giving them. As a musician I didn't feel that I could make enough to pay back everyone I wanted to pay back. So I went back to school and got a real job. Can you believe I'm a teacher?
How has it been with COVID? I imagine there are some challenges to teaching drama right now.
Yes. The kids are traumatized from the past few years. I sure do get to know it when I talk to them and get to hear about their hopes and dreams. The students who are taking drama because they want it really didn't have anything for a good year and a half. Then there's kids that have been shoved into the class and are forced to take it, but I think they're getting something out of it. They're going to appreciate theater more, even if they don't want to be actors.
What I see is that the students are traumatized because they aren't as used to being social. And now being social always has to do with technology and phones. I don't really see kids just being together without that.
But what I'm super thrilled about (and if anyone here is from anywhere that isn't California they're probably going to think this is so California) is that our school is embracing what we call SEL: social emotional learning. We are flexible, we don't demean the students, we try to figure out how to work with them and give them time. What I really love is greeting my students as they come in late. Saying "Good morning, you came just at the right time!" rather than making them go and get a note.
QuoteVan Etten began writing We've Been Going About This All Wrong in 2020—aside from two songs, "Darkish" and "Far Away," which she wrote earlier and then set aside because, at the time, she thought they were "too apocalyptic." (I find this funny, I say, because her writing tends to be fairly dark. "Right? I mean, I put jokes in there. I temper it a little," she says. "I have to have a joke in there somewhere, to remind people that I am a human being.") The album does bear an apocalyptic imprint—near the end of "Darkish," Van Etten asks, "Where will we be when our world is done?"—but it's also a sort of reorientation around the idea of home. On "Darkness Fades" and "Headspace," there's a sense of estrangement from a partner; on "Come Back," she grasps again for connection. On "Home to Me," Van Etten addresses her son directly: "Don't turn your back. Don't leave," she sings. "You're on my mind, do you not see?"
Earlier this year, she put out two songs—"Porta" and "Used to It"—which emerged from the same writing period. But she released no singles from the album, which comes out this week. She wanted listeners to take it in from start to finish and assign their own meaning to songs. Like a hand outstretched, saying: This was my experience. Maybe it was yours, too.
If Van Etten's previous album, 2019's Remind Me Tomorrow, was about looking back on her life so far, We've Been Going About This All Wrong focuses on where she's at now.
Van Etten had lived in Brooklyn for nearly 15 years when, in September 2019, she moved to Los Angeles with her partner (the music manager, and her former drummer, Zeke Hutchins), and their son, then 2. She wanted "to try to slow down," she says—to have more space for her family and to build a home studio from which she could write and record herself, and to work on more projects that wouldn't require her to be on the road. She and Hutchins were supposed to get married in May 2020; in February, traveling to Mexico for her bachelorette party, she found that LAX was empty. "That was the first time I remember thinking, 'Oh, this Covid thing might be something," she says.
Then everything shut down. "Here we are in our new home, still unpacking, still figuring out, 'Where are we? Who are our neighbors? What are we doing here?'" Van Etten says. She and Hutchins had to learn to navigate their jobs, her classes (she resumed work on her undergraduate psychology degree in 2020), their relationship, and parenting under the same roof, while trying not to let on to their son how scary the world around had become. It wasn't only the pandemic; it was also the longer, increasingly ferocious fire seasons in California brought on by climate change; rising gun violence; protests over racial justice—all the ways that individual anxieties were exposed to be community ones, too. It comes through in the music. "I wanted to acknowledge what we were going through in our political climate," she says, "and just be able to put into words my frustration and my anger."
One might think about Bob Dylan what she/he likes, but this interview proves he's still passionate about music (as a listener and as a songwriter)!
QuoteMusic is made very differently now, and your grandchildren are hearing songs for the first time in whole new ways, like via Spotify. Does the way you first hear a song matter? Do you think that has changed the relationship of the listener to the song?
The relationship you have to a song can change over time. You can outgrow it, or it could come back to haunt you, come back stronger in a different way. A song could be like a nephew or a sister, or a mother-in-law. There actually is a song called "Mother-in-Law."
When you first hear a song, it might be related to what time of day you hear it. Maybe at daybreak – at dawn with the sun in your face – it would probably stay with you longer than if you heard it at dusk. Or maybe, if you first hear it at sunset, it would probably mean something different, than if you heard it first at 2 in the afternoon. Or maybe you hear something in the dead of night, in the darkness, with night eyes.
Do you think there is anything about the technology used today to record music that would have changed the impact or value you place on the songs you've included in the book, and especially the performances, or is a great song a great song?
I think a great song has the sentiments of the people in mind. When you hear it, you get a gut reaction, and an emotional one at the same time. A great song follows the logic of the heart and stays in your head long after you've heard it, like "Taxman," it can be played with a full orchestra score or by a strolling minstrel, and you don't have to be a great singer to sing it. It's bell, book, and candle. Otherworldly. It transports you and you feel like you're levitating. It's close to an out of body experience.
A great song mutates, makes quantum leaps, turns up again like the prodigal son. It crosses genres. Could be punk rock, ragtime, folk-rock, or zydeco, and can be played in a lot of different styles, multiple styles.
Today you'll get 2 for the price of 1. ;)
Quote"We've had a few 'ends of careers' actually," he laughs. "We've been banned from a few countries and been arrested in a few countries – Australia amongst them."
"Which I now wear a badge of honour – everything's so sterile and safe these days. People are too afraid of f*cking up their careers. Bollocks to that."
Having emerged as a band in the late 70s on the wave of punk rock, The Stranglers were known for their experimentation across a large variety of musical styles, including art rock, gothic rock, pop and new wave.
With his time in a producing role for bands such as ARB, Taxi Girl, Lizard and more, JJ Burnel refined his ear for diverse musicality: "I used to love producing because it gave me a chance to learn new stuff in the studio."
"It's like osmosis. You pick stuff up and you bring it to life. I would learn a new way of singing, a new way of recording the drums, a lick here, a lick there, a new sound or keyboard."
It's this evolution that is at the core of The Stranglers' ethos: "it would be pathetic if me, now, at my age was trying to be my 24-year-old self, or – I won't mention any names – men with very long hair in Lycra who are still trying to be Metal Gods with their beer bellies."
"Make your own mistakes – humility is probably the most important thing to learn. It's as simple as that. Your success is not based on you. It's based on a hell of a lot of networks and help."
"Sometimes you evolve and you fall flat on your face. And other times you try something new and it works. That's what it should be about."
QuoteMost former punks end up touring the nostalgia circuit or cropping up at conventions. Not Christopher John Millar, aka Rat Scabies. When Scabies hit middle age, the legendary drummer with the Damned began to hunt for the Holy Grail. 'We all started off criticising government and I've ended up looking for pixies,' explains Scabies.
In 2005, the music journalist Christopher Dawes wrote a rollicking account of a trip he took with Scabies to the epicentre of it all, Rennes-le-Château, a tiny village atop a rock overlooking the River Aude in the Languedoc. Rat Scabies and the Holy Grail has taken its place as a minor gonzo classic. Dawes lived across the road from Scabies in Brentford and gradually got drawn into a world of odd theories and strange coincidences. 'I knew he'd be hooked and anyway this kind of yarn made me sound interesting,' Scabies tells me.
This "yarn" got me obsessed too and I made the trip to south France to go Grailhunting... (I still do, even in Germany you can go on a Grail travel, seeing Wolfram von Eschenbach was one of the first to write about it, back in 1200 or so)!