All posts tagged the-vine

  • The Vine interview: The Dandy Warhols, October 2010

    An interview for The Vine with The Dandy Warhols – all four of them – conducted in tandem with my girlfriend Rachael in the band’s hometown of Portland, Oregon.

    Why? We won a competition to do so.

    The Dandy WarholsInterview – The Dandy Warhols

    Despite their early ambitions to re-energise the shoegaze genre (which will make more sense after reading the below interview), The Dandy Warhols emerged from Portland, Oregon in the mid-1990s to become best-known for brandishing a unique take on alternative rock that favoured lengthy psychedelic compositions and instantly accessible pop tunes in equal measure. After hitting their stride commercially with …Dandy Warhols Come Down in 1997 and Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia in the early 2000s, the band were dropped by their label Capitol Records in 2005. Ties between band and label had been strained for some time, as evidenced in the infamous 2004 documentary DiG!, which chronicled the band’s career in parallel to The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

    Rather than despair, the band made the most of their freedom by establishing their own label, Beat The World, which they now use to promote their friends’ bands, in addition to their own material. 2008’s Earth To The Dandy Warhols was their debut LP as an independent band, and they’ve recently released a greatest hits compilation entitled The Capitol Years: 1997-2005.

    Ahead of their Australian tour as part of the Parklife Festival, my girlfriend Rachael and I met with The Dandy Warhols in Portland on September 9 2010, after winning a competition organised by Virgin Mobile, Pedestrian.TV and Parklife Festival promoters Fuzzy. After watching them record a rare acoustic set for the local community radio station OPB – wherein they covered songs by Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, as well as a couple of their own – we decamped to their studio space, The Odditorium, for an extended interview during which the four members come and go.

    To read the full interview – around 50 minutes’ worth – visit The Vine.

    Footage of our trip to the US is embedded below; read more about it here.

  • The Vine interview: Megan Washington, September 2010

    An interview for The Vine.

    Megan WashingtonInterview – Megan Washington

    Megan Washington is on the cusp of something big. Her recently-released first album, I Believe You Liar, debuted at #3 on the ARIA charts. During her current album tour, she and her band are playing five sold-out shows at the 850-capacity Melbourne venue, The Corner. Successful album tours aside, she’s booked to play (at least) eleven significant music events for the remainder of 2010. Put simply, people are going bananas for Washington.

    Most people, at least. One of TheVine’s critics, Everett True, wrote a contentious review of I Believe You Liar, which was published the day before we spoke. Hours ahead of Megan’s sold-out show at The Zoo, my girlfriend Rachael and I sat cross-legged on the concrete floor of a nearby car park with the singer, who smoked five self-rolled cigarettes over the course of our 50 minute conversation.

    So tell me: what were your first feelings when reading Everett’s review last night?

    At first it was…I don’t think it was a particularly compassionate review. I think that you can state your opinion, whilst not being overly hostile. You know what I mean? It was a bit hurtful, but I guess everybody feels like that about their art and the thing they try really hard to make.

    Then I read it again this morning and realised that it makes no sense. It starts by saying that pop’s doing fine by itself, thanks very much, ask Katy Perry, blah, blah, blah. Then he said the production is ‘too pop’ on the record. How does that make sense? The production’s too pop, and [yet] pop’s doing fine.

    Do you know what I mean? I guess you’ve got to be adult enough to understand that people have opinions and even though if I really thought… he didn’t even mention the songwriting. He said the lyrics were quirky, without actually discussing any of the lyrics. Why are they quirky; how are they quirky? I thought it was more of a vehicle for him to voice his opinion about the state of the music industry in Australia.

    Full interview on The Vine.

    This was one of the most relaxed and fun interviews I’ve done. It’s another occasion where I’m glad I was writing for the web, as I wanted readers to see it all unfold. I had no desire to cut any of it, and I’m glad that my editor didn’t either.

  • The Vine interview: Quan Yeomans of Regurgitator, September 2010

    An interview with Quan Yeomans from Regurgitator, for The Vine. Excerpt below.

    Interview – Regurgitator

    Regurgitator's Ben Ely and Quan Yeomans, circa 2010With the help of drummer Cameron Potts (Cuba Is Japan, Baseball), Regurgitator’s core creative duo of Quan Yeomans (guitar, vocals) and Ben Ely (bass, vocals) are back in action. Previously, the ‘shock pop’ band – stable for most of the last decade with Peter Kostic (Front End Loader, Hard-Ons) behind the kit, and up until recently, Seja Vogel (Sekiden, Seja) on keys – were responsible for some the most interesting sounds to emerge from the burgeoning Australian alternative music scene of the mid-1990s.

    Now that Yeomans and Ely have left Brisbane for Melbourne, Vogel is pursuing a solo career, and Kostic is geographically removed in Sydney, Regurgitator’s music will be released in an unconventional manner for the foreseeable future: Yeomans states that the band will “eschew the stock-standard album release/record label scenario for a ‘take it as it comes’ approach more in synch with current trends of the listener”. TheVine got in touch with the singer/guitarist in late August 2010 to discuss these trends (and others) in depth.

    Before we talk about the new material, I’d like to go back a few years to talk about Love & Paranoia (2007) briefly.

    Oh, do we have to?

    I’d like to know what you took away from that album release. How do you feel about it now?

    I don’t know. Slightly embarrassed, I guess. I don’t really feel anything for that record, to be honest. I remember all of the things we did to get through it, in Rio [de Janeiro, where the band recorded the album], which is kind of funny. And it was fun having Seja there and being in that strange apartment in the middle of Rio de Janeiro. It was kind of interesting, but musically, [blows raspberry] – it means nothing to me in particular.

    You’re embarrassed by it?

    Oh, well, I wouldn’t say embarrassed. I don’t think about it. No-one comes up to me and goes, “What do you think about that record?” I don’t really feel embarrassed on a regular basis, but I felt a twinge then when you asked me about it, so maybe that’s a realistic understanding.

    Full interview on The Vine.

    More Regurgitator on MySpace. Music video for their song ‘Bong In My Eye‘ embedded below.

  • The Vine interview: John Butler, September 2010

    An interview for The Vine. Excerpt below.

    John Butler at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Colorado. Photo by Tobin VoggesserInterview – John Butler

    It’s a pretty safe bet to name John Butler Trio as Australia’s biggest independent act. Since their humble beginnings with the 1998 LP John Butler, the singer/guitarist and his regularly-rotating musical partners released Three to wide acclaim in 2001 and have continued to grow in stature ever since.

    Butler [pictured right] owns Jarrah Records, an independent label created to release his band and The Waifs; in 2005, he and his wife inaugurated the JB Seed grant program to support artistic expression and encourage social, cultural and artistic diversity in Australian society. In the last five years, Butler and his supporters – including Paul Kelly, Missy Higgins and Blue King Brown – have given away somewhere in the vicinity of $500,000 to Australian musicians, managers and social activists through (the recently-renamed) The Seed.

    Above all else, though, John Butler is known for his music, a heady mix of blues, roots, rock, and – more recently, with the release of April Uprising – pop. When TheVine reaches John Butler, he’s on a tour bus somewhere in France, having just played at a music festival. He and his current band – drummer Nicky Bomba and bassist Byron Luiters – have spent much of 2010 overseas. The trio completed their most successful US tour thus far, which included their biggest headline show to date at the sold out, 8,500-capacity Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. Ahead of his biggest Australian tour since the release of 2004’s Sunrise Over Sea, there’s a lot of ground to be covered. Butler is up to the task; he speaks with TheVine for over 40 minutes.

    Andrew: It’s been interesting to follow you over the years, because it seems your outspoken nature and what you and your name stand for are all ideas that many Australians can identify with. Besides your music, which obviously resonates with people, I wonder if this idea, that people feel like they can identify with you, speaks to why you’ve achieved so much as a public figure. What do you think John Butler stands for in the eyes of the Australian public?

    John: Wow, what an introduction. That’s great. A real journalist, this is refreshing. Well first of all, who I am and how I define myself is a work in progress. And in another way I think it would be kind of pretentious to think of what I stand for to people. It would be almost a little bit too self-concerned to presuppose what anybody thinks about me.

    I think to some people I’m a loud-mouthed fringe hippie who hugs trees. I think other people think I’m a blues artist. Some people think I’m a sensitive new age guy who writes songs about his children and his family. Some people think I’m somebody who’s lived in Australia for 24 years, and is Australian, and loves Australia but still has an American accent. [laughs] I think I’m many things to many different people. I think some people hate me and some people love me and there’s probably a lot of people who don’t give a shit and that’s probably a healthy thing.

    Full interview on The Vine.

    More John Butler Trio on MySpace. Music video for their song ‘Revolution‘ embedded below.

  • The Vine album review: Die! Die! Die! – ‘Form’, August 2010

    An album review for The Vine.

    Die! Die! Die! - Form album coverDie! Die! Die!Form

    By now, Die! Die! Die! have assured their allegiance to a idiosyncratic punk-rock aesthetic: gritty, bottom-heavy, and consistently confronting. Like the New Zealand trio’s previous releases, Form contains a sound most unlike many other bands on the planet. Their hyperactive rhythms inspire vivid imagery of movement, of change, of progress. Form – their third full-length, and their first under the banner of legendary Kiwi indie Flying Nun Records – marks an evolution in the band’s songwriting, most notably in frontman Andrew Wilson’s guitar parts. He regularly alternates between a clean, jangly tone – usually during the verses – and punches one or more overdriven effects during the chorus. His playing isn’t formulaic, though, nor predictable; instead, his vocal and six-string contributions form the melodic basis amid the rhythmic bedrock laid down by bassist Lachlan Anderson and drummer Michael Prain.

    Musically, Die! Die! Die! describe a man-made wasteland built upon deceit, treachery and wasted potential. Their soundtrack is drums, bass, guitar and vocals. The images they conjure are frequently alienating, yet curiously, this music is addictive. Its disembodied, abrasive nature still manages to communicate a human warmth.

    Full review at The Vine.

    More Die! Die! Die! on Facebook. This album is brilliant. Video for the Form track ‘HowYe‘ embedded below.

  • The Vine album review: Big Boi – ‘Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty’, July 2010

    An album review for The Vine.

    'Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty' album cover by Big BoiBig Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty

    Though they both effectively released a pair of solo albums under the OutKast moniker with 2003’s Speakerboxx/The Love Below, Atlanta-based rapper Big Boi steps away from his songwriting partnership with André 3000 for the first time to deliver nothing less than a monster album in Sir Lucious Left Foot. The title refers to one of Boi’s numerous alter-egos; two more, ‘Daddy Fat Sax’ and ‘General Patton’, are name-checked as song titles in the album’s first half. The key to this album’s thrilling ride lies within this approach: by taking advantage of the freedom to flit between several personas, the rapper can both shrink and exaggerate his true self. It’s less a schizophrenic episode than a tactic to unlock new songwriting ideas and it’s one that works beautifully.

    In a decision seemingly born from label-related frustrations – this album was first due out in 2008 – Big Boi leaked two tracks of originally intended for Sir Lucious Left Foot prior to the album’s release, in ‘Royal Flush’ (featuring Raekwon and Andre 3000) and ‘Sumthin’s Gotta Give’ (featuring Mary J. Blige). A slew of pre-release singles would follow, including ‘Shine Blockas’ (featuring Gucci Mane), ‘For Yo Sorrows’ (featuring George Clinton and Too $hort), and ‘General Patton’ (featuring Big Rube). All of which might seem like overkill  if it weren’t for the monster lead single proper ‘Shutterbugg’ (featuring Cutty).

    Full archived review at The Vine. More Big Boi on MySpace; music video for ‘Shutterbugg‘ embedded below. For mine, this is a real contender for album of the year. I don’t get into most hip-hop, but this is outstanding.

  • The Vine album review: The Boat People – ‘Dear Darkly’, July 2010

    An album review for The Vine.

    'Dear Darkly' album cover by Brisbane/Melbourne band The Boat PeopleThe Boat PeopleDear Darkly

    Over three decades ago, a pair of aspiring Brisbane musicians set down two rules that they’d follow throughout their long partnership: they were to equally share the amount of songs that appeared on each album between themselves, and they’d never do anything without the other’s permission. That pair was Robert Forster and Grant McLennan, who founded seminal pop band The Go-Betweens in 1978. In 2010, whether conscious or not, another pair of Brisbane pop writers – James O’Brien and Robin Waters – have tapped into this same ethos for their band The Boat People’s third album, Dear Darkly. Like every Go-Betweens album, they touch upon romance and melancholy in equal measure. And like every Go-Betweens album, Dear Darkly consistently errs on the side of greatness.

    Augmented by guitarist Charles Dugan and drummer Tony Garrett, the duo each author six songs on an album that exhibits the best work of their decade-long career. Though their last LP, 2008’s Chandeliers, was subject to a three-year gestation process, they’ve opted to work faster this time around. The result is their most eclectic collection to date.

    Full review at The Vine. More Boat People on their MySpace. Music video for ‘Soporific‘ is embedded below.

  • The Vine album review: Dead Letter Circus – ‘This Is The Warning’, June 2010

    An album review for The Vine. Excerpt below.

    Dead Letter Circus - This Is The Warning album coverDead Letter CircusThis Is The Warning

    Three bands define Australian hard rock: Karnivool, The Butterfly Effect, and Cog. It’s nigh on impossible to discuss Brisbane quartet Dead Letter Circus without referring to the current scene’s pioneering figures. In the context of those bands, it’s perfectly reasonable to wonder aloud: is DLC’s debut full-length a contender to Karnivool’s stellar 2005 debut, Themata? Does it stack up to The Butterfly Effect’s first LP, Begins Here? Can it be favourably compared to Cog’s The New Normal? The answers, respectively: it’s not, it doesn’t, and it can’t. It’s far from a trainwreck, but on the whole, it’s consistently disappointing.

    A bit of history: Dead Letter Circus released their debut EP in 2007. Its six tracks were treated by Forrester Savell, the go-to man for alternative rock production in Australia. DLC relentlessly toured the land for the next several years to celebrate occasional singles and EPs in the lead-up to This Is The Warning, their first release with Warner Bros. They’ve worked hard to cultivate a significant fanbase, who rewarded the band with a #2 debut on the ARIA charts.

    Full album review at The Vine. Though I was all over that debut EP when it first came out, I am not fond of this release. More on the band at MySpace; ‘Big‘ video embedded below.

  • The Vine album review: Janelle Monáe – ‘The ArchAndroid’, June 2010

    An album review for The Vine.

    Janelle Monáe - The ArchAndroid album coverJanelle MonáeThe ArchAndroid

    For the uninitiated, go peep Janelle Monáe’s jaw-dropping performance of ‘Tightrope’ on Letterman in May 2010 then report back, just so you know what you’re dealing with here. Ordinarily, this’d be a cop-out; ordinarily, you’d be right to call me a goddamned lazy writer for pointing readers off-screen. But damn, if you haven’t seen that video, you must. It’s remarkable because Monáe – an exceptional vocalist, dancer and entertainer in her own right – is operating within the tightly-leashed, clichéd confines of the late night TV spot, yet somehow, the singer and her band skilfully throw aside decades of forced, contrived on-camera choreography through sheer energy and charisma. It’s the most memorable TV performance of my generation; truly, a career-defining four minutes. Without that kick-ass, life-affirming performance, I wouldn’t know her name or her music.

    Full review at The Vine. More Janelle Monáe at MySpace. ‘Tightrope’ live on Letterman video embedded below. It’s amazing.

  • The Vine album review: ‘Mike Patton’s Mondo Cane’, June 2010

    An album review for The Vine.

    Mike PattonMondo Cane

    Mike Patton - Mondo Cane album coverI’m coming clean: I wouldn’t be listening to Mondo Cane if Mike Patton’s name wasn’t on the cover; I can’t understand Italian, and I’ve never heard the original versions of these songs (barring one track, ‘Deep Down’, which was the theme song to ace 1968 comic book film adaption Danger:Diabolik). These factors could conspire against my capacity to enjoy this album – but they don’t. Mondo Cane is a wholly thrilling ride. Patton possesses one of rock music’s most distinctive and admired voices, and while he’s the star here, these 11 songs are filled out with depth and colour by the contributions of some 65 orchestral performers.

    While recent Faith No More converts – via their widely-celebrated reunion world tour – might find Patton’s latest project a little too challenging, I’d argue that Mondo Cane shows the singer fronting his most accessible act yet. This music speaks to me in a language that the average rock band can’t fathom, and I’m not just referring to Patton’s fluently-sung Italian. I’m of the opinion that orchestral music moves humans far beyond the emotions that can be summoned by any configuration of guitar, bass and drums; here, Mondo Cane proves my point. From the opening strains of ‘Il Cielo In Una Stanza’, I’m hooked.

    Full review at The Vine. This album is the shit. To get an idea of what the hell I’m talking about, watch the video embedded below.

    Elsewhere: I interviewed Mike Patton for The Vine about Mondo Cane. Read it here.