Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sonic Avenues

     Sonic Avenues is the kind of band that writes such good songs they can afford to not release them on their LP’s as evidenced by Sixteen Wires that was released/uploaded on bandcamp in March. They write power pop that has equal importance on both power and pop. A mix of Buzzcocks, Pointed Sticks, Powerpearls and the Cheap Rewards re-issues LP’s blended into a fine music cocktail. Currently, the band is finishing up writing their third LP and looking to play the world. 

Interview by Ed Stuart

Who’s answering the questions?

Where is the band from?
Montréal, La Belle Province, Canada.

Who is in the band and what instrument do they play?
I play guitar and I do lead vocals, Seb plays lead guitar, Chance is the guy on bass and JC beats on the old pots and pans.

How did the band start?
A couple of years ago, I used to live in a house with three roommates. We used to throw EPIC parties in that place. I had a room in the basement, which had drums, and amps set up. It was perfect for not studying while bugging the shit out of my roommates and neighbours. Needless to say that my room quickly became the scene of many late night drunken trashy jams. My buddy Jamie was a regular. He’d come over with a bunch of beers a couple of nights every week and we’d just bash it out for a couple of hours. After a while, we had a couple of (pretty shitty) original songs. That’s when we decided to take the idea of starting an actual band a bit more seriously. But it’s mainly because of him that Sonic Avenues saw the light of day. I was very lazy while he was motivated and insistent about it. So, I figured we might as well give it a shot and see what happens. At that point, drunken jams progressively turned into actual rehearsals. And once we had a few presentable songs, we approached a few people to see if they wanted to be in the band. That’s when JC and Seb joined the group. That was in 2006. 

What bands did you have in mind when starting this band?
We were really going after the garage 60‘s movement initially. Bands like The Kinks, The Zombies, The Who, The Litter, etc, were dominant driving influences. Basically, we were punks trying to do 60‘s; all those punk and powerpop records were never far during that time. I always loved bands like The Real Kids, Barracudas, Adverts, Buzzcocks, Pointed Sticks, etc...  These were always an underlying influence no matter what we were trying to do. And eventually, they became predominant and took over the main direction of our song writing.

How is the recording the third LP coming along? Any schedule release date?
We haven’t started to record it yet. We’re still in the process of writing the last few songs. So far, we have gone through a LOT of songs that we decided not to keep. It sounded too much like the old stuff. We just want to keep things fresh and interesting; not just for the people out there who like our band, but also for us. I’m very happy with the songs we have now. It’s most definitely our strongest material to date. At least it feels that way. Variety - while remaining true to our style - is what we are trying to achieve this time around: dark, bright, long songs, shorter songs, different tempos, etc. I can’t wait to start recording it. Studio time will start this spring and if all goes well, the album should be released later this year.  

Do you think music can still be a vital force in such a disposable age?
Of course! I do realize that there are thousands of records being released every year and that it has become really, really hard to keep track of it all. Lots of good stuff just keeps flying right under our noses all the time… That to me is where the downside of that situation is. These days, people go through a lot of records real fast without looking back because of the rate at which they come out. But every now and then, there’s a record that’ll just stand right out of the bunch. That one will just stick to the turntable and for a while, there will be no other ones! Those are the records that you actually come back to. Luckily, music like this is still being released these days and this is very reassuring. So yeah, most of it is disposable nowadays but there’s still great music out there that will keep coming looking for you. The search of mind-blowing tunes may prove to be harder in this era but the reward of finding them is certainly well worth the effort in the end!

It seems like Sonic Avenues and Steve Adamyk Band have toured a lot in the past and have released a split 7”. Is there any future tours planned with the two bands? How did this band friendship come about?
Initially, we were introduced to the Ottawa scene by local Ian Manhire (Going Gaga Records, Sedatives, White Wires, Voicemail) when he invited us to play a basement show a few years ago. I think it was one of the first White Wires show, too... It was awesome. It was a shock for us to see how great and ‘together’ that scene was (and still is). It was the best thing I’d seen since the Spaceshits reign over Montreal more than 10 years ago. It was the real thing; a bunch of kids hanging out, drinking beers and partying to some bands in a basement. It can’t get any better than that. So, shows after shows in Ottawa, we started to become real good friends with some of the people there. They made us feel like we belonged to their awesome, growing scene. It was a good feeling. Especially after having spent months/years in a city (Montreal) that was experiencing a bit of a lull in terms of punk scene activity, where most bands were operating essentially on their own which sucked. Luckily, that is changing I think. Anyways, Steve and his bandmates were some of the people we felt really connected to and we quickly became solid buds. Both our music goes really well together. We’re all on the same wavelength and that makes life on the road not only easy, but a lot of fun. Steve has also filled in for our bassist on a few occasions and Seb, JC and I were his backing band at SXSW last year. And now we officially share one member: Seb. About future touring plans, Steve and I were very recently talking about it and it looks like the bands are gonna hit the road together once again in the nearish future. We have no official details yet, though.

First of all the song “Sixteen Years” that was just released sounds like a power pop gem. How did this song not make the Television Youth LP? I like Television Youth, but “Sixteen Years” is a cool song. 
Thanks! That’s one of the first feedback I get about that song. To be honest, I kind of regret not putting “Sixteen Years” on Television Youth. I think it would have been a good counter weight to balance the darker side of the album. The only reason why it didn’t make the cut was primarily because we were just sick of it and we collectively started to think that it wasn’t good. We also wanted a 10-song album. So, some of the material had to be cut. Two other songs found their way into the garbage bin... Maybe I’ll throw them all on a 7” one day. One of them was called Bored With Love and it was meant to be the song used for the Steve Adamyk Band/Sonic Aves tour split. That 7” was gonna be called the Bored With Love split. It would’ve been cool. But then that song suffered the same fate as Sixteen Years; we thought it sucked and preferred new material over it. So I picked Fadin’ Love instead for the 7”. I’m probably gonna remix Bored With Love eventually though… it had a pretty cool noisy surf-style part played on a classical guitar. We’ll see...

Exclaim stated when describing Television Youth “distilling old-school punk and garage rock into a joyous racket. The arrangements are more complicated, but the hooks, which are what matter most when we're talking about this kind of music, remain firmly in place.” While writing the second LP was this a conscious decision or maturation or the band’s song writing?
I’d say it was a bit of both. On TV Youth, we consciously wanted to show our darker side, which wasn’t really reflected by our first album. We tried to write songs that would take a few spins in order to fully “get”. To me, this happens when the structure of a song is a bit less familiar or intuitive. But at the same time, you don’t want to become plain weird in the end. It’s a delicate balance. But as far as conscious planning goes, that was it. The rest seems to have happened on its own. So, I guess we did maybe mature a bit as a band.

Dusted Reviews wrote “Sonic Avenues’ really excellent album Television Youth is an anachronism, not just in its musical references – The Jam, The Clash, The Only Ones and certain harder-edged elements of The Kinks – but in its way of looking at the world. It’s just not the same being a punk kid in a dead-end town anymore. No matter where you live, no matter how far away the nearest rock club or comic book store, there are kids just like you at the other end of your Wi-Fi connection.” Do you agree with that; it’s not the same being a punk kid in a dead-end town?  What about that statement from Television Youth about being an anachronism? Do you still think this term is applicable today?
I think that being a punk kid has always been the same wherever, whenever, technology progress or not. It’s essentially always been about music and DIY. Being punk is about the love for an honest, unpretentious style of music. A music that beats to the rhythm of an agitated excited heart: 150-200+ beats per minute. Being a punk musician is about writing, playing, rehearsing and recording songs, organizing tours, supporting the community. All of that on top of an (often shitty) 40-hour/week job. That is what being a punk is all about.

Now, about that statement... First, I have to admit that when I first saw that review I was amazed to find out that some people actually read or thought about our lyrics! I think the subject tackled in TV Youth still absolutely applies today. More so than ever if anything. In fact, smart phones and all those modern gadgets ARE the new TV’s. TV’s on mega steroids. I mean, they’re amazing machines. I love the social and informative aspects of them. But they epitomize what TV’s have always been about to most people: easy access entertainment. I don’t think that the critic who wrote the review knew I was actually going after this very specific thing, that TV’s are just an image used to represent it all. In short, that song was written about the fact that a lot of people born with amazing creative potential seem to let it erode with time to the profit of hours (days or even years) spent in idle mode. Some people let their brains get filled with a constant influx of shitty information instead of activating their own neurones and become what they were meant to be. I know there’s waaaay more to intellectual potential being wasted than just ‘idle mode entertainment’ but that would’ve turned Television Youth into a shitty and lyrically overloaded punk opera. Another the reason why I decided to name the song “Television Youth” was also based on phonetics. It just sounded good to my ear. “Television” was a better, cooler word than many other options I was playing with at the time.
So, yeah anyways, I do love TV and I think I’m gonna go watch Point Break after this. Word.

50 years ago people used to buy music and get their water for free, now people pay for water and get their music for free. How do you think this affects music in any way?
Well, I think some people are definitely getting richer but it’s definitely not your average musicians! It’s incredibly hard to live off your art. In fact, it’s nearly impossible, especially with the genre of music we play. I think that never changed. The only difference is that now the artists’ products cover more grounds way more easily. I think artists like us don’t profit financially from it but we do benefit in some ways because of the increased exposure and easy access.

Where can people hear the band?
Live - we don’t have a lot of shows booked for the next few months as we’re going to be busy recording. Go on our facebook page to keep track of show scheduling:

What’s next?
Recording the new album! Also, we wanna play everywhere: US, Europe, Japan, Canada, etc. So LOTS of shows are going to follow the release of the new record. We also want to do a bunch of 7”’s this year. So, as early as this summer we’ll get going with this series of singles project. 

Also, the Ottawa Explosion 2013 weekend is coming in June (19-23) and we’re playing. Best w-e of the year. Spread the werd.


The Ills

     When I first started hearing about the Ills, I heard comparisons to bands like The Spoiled Brats and The No Talents. So, when I finally got a chance to hear these Iowa City monsters, they did not disappoint! Those influences are indeed there, but the Ills have taken that sound and stuck their own brand on it. It is theirs, they own it now, and lucky for us they are sharing it with the rest of us lowly dogs!

Interview by Jay Castro

Who’s answering the questions here?
Danny and Erika

Who is in the band and what instrument do they play?
Erika Ebola - Vox
Danny Dysentery - Guitar
Molly Marburg - Bass
Tommy Tinnitus - Drums

Are you all originally from Iowa City?
None of us are. Tommy Danny and Molly are all from different areas of Iowa, Erika is from Texas and Iowa.

How did Rip Off records find their way into your hands in Iowa?  
Danny: When I was a kid, Iowa City record stores carried a lot of punk and garage punk records.  I would make trips to Iowa City to go record shopping. I had heard about The Rip Offs in Maximum Rock 'n' Roll and spotted their LP at a local record shop and bought it and I loved it. When I met Erika she was into it too, and we started obsessing and collecting a lot of that kind of stuff, like the No Talents, the Drags, the Statics, the Makers, The Registrators etc.

Erika: I first heard about this stuff when I was a kid in Texas. I was kind of on the hunt for female attitude and vocals that kind of matched how I felt. I loved those classic grrrl bands from Olympia labels (like Bratmobile and Bikini Kill) and those awesome women fronted bands from the early LA scene, (X and the Bags etc.).  A friend had this Spoiled Brats song dubbed on a tape and made a joke that no one could like this, except probably me! So, it was played for me, and I instantly fell in love with it! Which lead to you know all that stuff, girl and guy, and then I ended up in Iowa.

Does the band play shows a lot in Iowa City?  Is there a scene out there that the rest of the country should know about?
Erika: We play a lot.  There are a lot of cool and different punk bands in Iowa City, but there’s not a scene of bands that sound similar.  Everyone is doing their own thing. It doesn’t really create a cohesive scene “sound” but I think that's great because that would be boring.  There are a lot of really cool bands here if your into different kinds of punk, like Lipstick Homicide, Slut River, Conetruama, NERV, Big Box, and a lot more… and they are all doing their own thing from straight up pop punk to black metal hardcore.
Also, it’s a very academic town. It has the highest percentage of the adult population holding a bachelor's degree or higher in the US, yet, it is still very small. Maybe this has an influence on how stuff end up playing out here, I dunno.

Danny: What she said.

Your newest 7” is on No Front Teeth records, how did you get involved with that label?
Erika: It’s kind of a strange circle. Jim from Rapid Pulse Records originally pointed us in their direction. They heard some demos of ours and were interested and put out our first 7”. Our new EP Get It is actually coming out as a split release between the Canadian label Shake! Records and No Front Teeth Records. We played a show with the Ketamines last year and their drummer Ryan (who is also in Fist City) helped connect us with Shake! Then, Shake! reconnected with NFT for this release.

The Ills did a pretty cool video for your song Total Dick.  Was that fun to make? Where and how did that happen?
Danny: Erika made it. We filmed it in a local junk shop owned by our friend Brian who’s a big fan of the band.  I think Erika did her part in the bathroom of our apartment.

People have compared the sound of your band to the glory days of Rip Off records and bands like The No Talents.  Bands I’m pretty sure are integral to your sound. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill!   Do you feel any pressure because of those comparisons?  Are the almighty Ills up for the challenge?
Danny: In the beginning it was kinda more of a “let’s be this kinda band”, and I still love them. Now we are not trying to be one kind of thing anymore, we’re just mixing all our influences and everything together. But those comparisons are flattering and kind, and we do love rip off records, but we’re nowhere as good as those bands!

Erika: It is flattering that we have those comparisons. They are a part of our influences. But, we would never try to or want to fill their shoes.  They are pretty fantastic at what they did and got that covered. Plus, we gotta do our own thing! I think there may have been a moment of pressure to self-edit to keep within that expectation. But that’s all self-inflicted pressure that we said, “ehh, forget about it”, to a long time ago! We have a lot of different influences and I think our music will continue to reflect that.

On your bands profile, you list your other interests as Punk Punk Punk.  Surely you have some non punk interests?  Baking, knitting, sculpting, c’mon spill the beans!
Danny: I really love Italian horror movies, film in general, pretentious art shit, coffee and rock n roll and all music really.
Erika:  I collect purses and nail polish and movies.  As a band I think we all like drinkin’.

Do you think Rock ‘N’ Roll can still be a vital and influential force for kids in such a disposable age?
Danny: I think on a massive scale, no. On an individual scale, yes. Because like there are teenage punk bands right here in my town that are exciting and inspiring... to see like 14 and15 year old kids taking the time to write songs and learn instruments and put together good bands shows that. But in the mainstream I think no, it’s time has passed. I don’t think there’s gonna be one band that's gonna come along soon that's gonna capture peoples imagination and bring rock back into the forefront. It looks like right pop is here to stay. Is there even big rock band right now? I guess I don’t know and don’t pay attention to even know.

50 years ago people used to buy music and get their water free; now people pay for water and get their music free. How do you think this affects the music industry?
Danny: I don’t know about paying for music, but they charge way too much for water here at the local grocery store. And you have to buy water because the local tap is so fucking nasty you can’t use it. I mean its 29 cents a gallon now...  as for music it’s harder to get people’s attention now, it’s not like when you had to read reviews, decide if you wanted to spend your money based on word of mouth, make a commitment and give that record a chance. Now all you have to do is go and click a button and if it doesn’t hit you on a gut level then… bam, yr done. You don’t give it any attention.

Erika:  People still buy vinyl and tapes. I don’t know much about the economics of the larger music industry and I don’t think it much affects bands like us.  But, you know because everything IS free and easy; it is disposable. It can be strangely difficult to get people to even listen to something that is free and in front of them. There’s no personal investment or connection with a band or record before hearing it. It’s “ill check that out” which translates to, I’ll listen to 10 seconds of two songs and then decide if I’m interested or writing it off entirely.

Where can people hear the band, purchase your music or buy those awesome purple Ills T-shirts!?  
You can hear some of our music at sand
Our 7” Ep Get It should be out in May. It should be able available from: Shake! Records,  and NFT,  
You can get the shirts, our old 7” and our newest one (soon) at

What’s next for The Ills?  Any tour plans?
Getting ready to record our 2nd album! Writing the third! We plan to hit the road soon for our EP and 1st LP that should be out on Big Neck Records this summer!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Peach Kelli Pop

     Peach Kelli Pop is the kind of sugary bubblegum pop that just might give your ears cavities, if ears could actually get cavities. If she looks familiar, that’s because Hanlon is also the drummer in the White Wires, but PKP is not a side project by any means. Hanlon is a one woman band that writes and plays every instrument herself on Peach Kelli Pop’s two LP’s, the latest being Peach Kelli Pop II, released late last year on Burger. Currently, Hanlon is busy taking Peach Kelli Pop’s lo-fi basement Shonen Knife, girl-group, garage surf sugar pop to your town as we speak opening for Kate Nash.

Interview by Ed Stuart

Who’s answering the questions?
Allie Hanlon                       

Where is the band from?
I, Allie Hanlon, the songwriter and only permanent band member, am from Ottawa, Canada and relocated to California last year.

Who is in the band and what instrument do they play?
I write and record everything and have different friends play with me live. The most recent tour had Wyatt Blair on bass, Mandy Mullins on guitar, Rachel Hortman on drums and I also played guitar and sang.

How did the band start?
The songwriting started before the band. Once I had recorded Peach Kelli Pop songs, I taught them to whoever was playing with me at the time.

In the about section of your Facebook Page, there is a review from Rocotober stating Peach Kelli Pop “[m]inimalist bubblegum/pre-Chysalis Blondie/Japanese cartoon pop/zero-grit sandpaper punk perfection! This White Wires side project (though this joy bop music is more of a mutiny than a side project by comparison to WW’s garage purity), PKP is more thrilling than PCP!” Do you really feel this a mutiny more than a side project? How does it feel to be more thrilling than PCP?
I don't consider either White Wires or Peach Kelli Pop a side project, they are both equal in importance and completely different from one another. It feels fantastic to be so thrilling, especially in the eyes of Roctober.

How do you meet up with Burger? Had they heard the first record? Did you send them a demo? Seems like they have a real community of bands on that label.
We were fans of each other: Me, of the label itself and of the Sean and Lee's band, Thee Makeout Party. Burger was familiar with Peach Kelli Pop and the White Wires and it was a pretty natural decision for us to work together. I think they asked me if I'd be interested in them putting out my newest album. I obliged for a bunch of reasons. I would argue that Burger is the most innovative and hardworking label going right now. They have been a pleasure to work with. They are supportive and positive and we seem to be very likeminded in our priorities.

What bands did you have in mind when starting this band?
I didn't have any bands in mind. I didn't even know that my songs would be played live when I started recording songs. I know now that I want to create songs I would want to listen to myself - ones that are catchy, satisfying and fun to see live. If I had to choose a band that inspires me, I'd say The Lovedolls, a fake band from Dave Markey films. I am inspired by different aesthetics and outlets that are associated with music - like cover art, stage shows, fashion, and attitude.

Now all the music is written and performed by you on the LP’s. So how do you choose which friends become your touring band for the upcoming tour? Is it friends who are in other bands that have downtime?
It is actually very hard to find people that have the time to go on tour, can afford to take off work, an so on.  I try and pick people who I think are talented but also who are balanced emotionally and mentally enough to be able to handle going on tour. Touring is great but also exhausting and difficult, so I try hard to find people who are laid back, positive, and don't have substance abuse issues (too badly, at least).

Do you think music can still be a vital force in such a disposable age?
I think music is vital in the way it affects people and the way it makes people feel. There is a lot of disposable music in existence currently because creating music has become so affordable and accessible (something I think is great in a lot of ways)
While there are heaploads of musical trash nowadays, there are also brilliant jewels of bands that exist; two examples being Detroit's The Go! and Conspiracy of Owls; bands that leave me in awe with their timeless sound, perfect songwriting and incredible production. Another high-quality band that constantly leaves me awestricken is Tucson's Lenguas Largas, whose music is haunting and beautiful.

How much time on the road do you spend each year?  Between Peach Kelli Pop, White Wires and drumming for other bands.
It changes all the time depending on a few things (like finances, personal life stuff, whether any new material has been released at the time) The new PKP album just came out so I am riding that wave right now. I'll do a couple more tours and then probably hold off until I am releasing something new again. Hopefully White Wires will tour a little more in the future.

How was it playing both SXSW and Burgerama this year?  Also this year PKP had a track featured in Spin Magazine as part of Burger’s upcoming releases with a picture of PKP. What are your thoughts regarding that?
We actually only played Burgermania (Burger's showcase at SXSW) this year. It was probably my favorite show of our month-long tour. A lot of my friends and people that I admire were in attendance, I thought we played well and the crowd was very enthusiastic.
While nothing ever seems to come from writes ups like the one in Spin, I appreciate any publicity that might expose Peach Kelli Pop to someone new.

Does living in both the US and Canada affect your songwriting at all?
I have lived full-time in the USA for a year now. Moving to California from Ontario, Canada has probably affected my songwriting since I am generally happier and more inspired here.

50 years ago people used to buy music and get their water for free, now people pay for water and get their music for free. How do you think this affects music in any way?
I don't really think about that kind of thing too much. 50 years ago I wouldn't have been able to create music the way I have now.

Where can people hear the band?
You can go to our bandcamp site or see us play live.

What’s next?
We are doing a West Coast USA tour with UK's Kate Nash this May and playing 1-2-3-4 Go!s fest, 
the Go!Go! Fest. Check out my blog for more details:


Big Eyes

     Big Eyes from the start has had a tougher edge to them as evidenced on their debut Hard Life, but recently the band has shown a softer side. By softer, I mean switching from early-Joan Jett toughness to early Muffs style pop that still has teeth. Just listen to tracks Being Unkind and Back From The Moon, which were both, featured on Pitchfork and will be on the upcoming LP Almost Famous. The band opened the year being part of two split 7-inch releases with Audacity and Mean Jeans and has no plans on stopping with an LP and planned European tour this fall.

Interview by Ed Stuart

Who’s answering the questions?
Kate and Chris

Where is the band from?
Seattle, by way of New York and Reno

Who is in the band and what instrument do they play?
Kate Eldridge - guitar and vocals
Chris Costalupes - bass
Dillan Lazzareschi - drums

How did the band start?
Kate: I started Big Eyes as sort of a solo project, I recorded a handful of songs in my room on my laptop with electronic drums and stuff back in fall of 2009, then I brought the songs to the dudes I was playing with at the time.  The lineup has changed a few times but we are solid as ever now!

How is the recording process going for the next LP titled Almost Famous? It looks like Grave Mistake putting out the LP too? After listening to Being Unkind, it seems like this new LP will be more pop than previous work. Will this be the case?
Kate: The record was recorded and mixed back in October (2012) at Red Lantern Studios by Adam Becker.  We knocked it out in 6 very long days, and I am very super proud of it and very excited for people to hear it.
Chris: Even though the first single released was very pop oriented, by all means we are a poppy band, Almost Famous expands on all of our influences, including hard rock like Kiss and Alice Cooper, punk like Descendents and The Dickies, 80’s power pop like Nick Lowe and The Knack, and so on.

Recently, Big Eyes had two tracks, Being Unkind and Back From The Moon featured on Pitchfork. How does the band feel about it? Pitchfork has a lot of followers.
Chris: We are excited for anybody to listen to our music, and it's nice to know that our music is accessible.  We get just as much enjoyment from people liking our music as we do making it.

How did the split 7” with Mean Jeans come about? Did the band get together and pitch the idea or was it the label’s idea?
Kate: We met Mean Jeans in the fall of 2011 and we immediately clicked with them.  We toured together to Awesome Fest in August 2012 and decided to put out a split together.
Chris:  Within minutes of first meeting them we were at the bar next door slamming Jagerbombs and plotting our Rock ‘N’ Roll takeover.

Originally Big Eyes were from New York, but ended up moving to Seattle. What was the reason or reasons behind the move?
Kate: Nirvana!!!  Just kidding. It's really hard to have a full time touring band based out of New York.  Rent is too expensive, everything is too expensive. Seattle is beautiful and I wanted to get out of NY so I did.

Do you think music can still be a vital force in such a disposable age?
Chris: Music is a timeless art form, regardless of what platform it's delivered on.  Live music, vinyl, digital downloads, it all has the same result, at least on certain types of people.  People take much influence from music, it affects their daily decisions.  I find that to be incredibly true for myself and the company I keep.

50 years ago people used to buy music and get their water for free, now people pay for water and get their music for free. How do you think this affects music in any way?
Chris: People need music just as much as they need water, so as long as they're getting enough of both that's fine with me.

I know Kate is the primary songwriter, but how has the new rhythm section influenced the sound of the band, arrangement of songs, etc.?
Kate: I think the new lineup is tighter than ever.  Chris and I lock in together really well, probably due to how much we practice and play together.  Dillan is a natural.  He can play any instrument you hand him and look good doing it.  The three of us have a great chemistry.  I feel very comfortable with these guys, and it's been easier than ever for me to write songs, and so my songs have becoming a little more complex.

In Amp Magazine, Kate stated “I mostly listen to music from the 1970’s and 80’s. And pop punk–I love pop punk. . . . The Replacements and Descendents are definitely two of my biggest influences.” What other band have had an indirect or direct influence on the songwriting? What bands did you have in mind when starting this band?
Kate: I was listening to a lot of Scared of Chaka, Cheap Trick, and The Muffs when I started Big Eyes.  I was definitely planning on starting a catchy punk band, but I've only ever played in catchy punk bands so I wasn't really out of my element or anything.  I just play what comes into my head, I don't ever try to write riffs or songs with a specific band or genre in mind.

Big Eyes seems to be putting in a lot of time on the road. I had read before the release of the first LP, Hard Life, and the band had toured quite a bit. Now I notice this again with the band having had two mini tours before the new LP, Almost Famous. Is this a way to test out material or just tighten up the songs? Any thoughts on this?
Chris: It's a way to conquer boredom.
Kate: We usually don't really plan tours around releases, but we had a limited edition copy of the new LP with us on this past west coast tour.  We just like to tour a lot.  Touring has definitely helped with tightening up the new songs though, which will be great for the "official" Almost Famous tour which starts at the end of May. 

Where can people hear the band?
The best place to hear us is live!

What’s next?
Kate: We have a 4-week tour to the east coast coming up (May 28th - June 22nd).  We are going to Hawaii in July, and we are going to Europe in October.  Other than that, writing new songs!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Resonars

     The Resonars are full of the vocal harmonies and jangly guitar melodies that made the early to mid-1960’s so sweet before the Vietnam War changed the social and musical landscape. Originally beginning as a full band, later becoming a solo project for years and now recently becoming a full band again at the insistence of Burger to play this year’s SXSW. The Resonars seemed renewed and full of purpose with an EP and a few LP’s being released and re-released. The band’s brand of Byrds and Hollies influenced songs is poised to introduce them to a whole new set of ears.

Interview by Ed Stuart

Who’s answering the questions?
Matt Rendon
Jeremy Schliewe

Where is the band from?
Tucson, AZ

Who is in the band and what instrument do they play?
James Peters – drums
Isaac Reyes – guitar, vocals
Matt Rendon – guitar, vocals
Jeremy Schliewe – bass, vocals

How did the band start? 
Matt: It’s been a solo recording project since 1997. The performing band started when we were invited to SXSW early last year.

What was the reason to release the Long Lost Thoughts EP where Matt plays every instrument and sings everything by himself after a few releases? Bright and Dark is done the same way with only Matt playing everything too. Has there been a release where the entire band plays on the recording?
Matt: The four-way split released on Trouble In Mind next month will be the first with the entire band.

In 2012, it looks like a full band was brought together for a SXSW performance. Can you elaborate on this story?
Matt: Sean Bohrman called Isaac, and asked if he could cajole me into playing a Burger Caravan show in Tucson and SXSW a week later. Isaac brought in James and I brought in Jeremy.

Jeremy: As far as my end is concerned, I was playing with Matt in another band called The Freezing Hands.  At this time The Resonars was still a one-man show.  Matt was toying around with the idea of making The Resonars a live act.  He asked me if I would like to be a part of it.  I answered yes, of course, with no hesitation.  I had heard a good chunk of his music, though not all of it, and thought it was great.  It was precisely the type of band I wanted to be in.

Do you think music can still be a vital force in such a disposable age?
Jeremy: Music will always be a vital force.  The landscape may have changed—it seems there is a lot more out there now because bands don't have to wait around to be snatched up by a big label in order to get exposure.  With so much music available for a minimum of effort, it does seem to create a lot of flashes in the pan, acts that will probably not enjoy as long a stint of popularity.  That's just the nature of the beast these days.  It doesn't mean that tan act is bad or in it for the wrong reason.  It's just the way of the listening public.  Things come and go quickly—at least that's how it seems to me, but the love of music will always be there in one form or another.

Matt: There’s always gonna be kids, adults too, who need music to reflect their feelings, or to make them feel better so in that sense, absolutely. Can it be a vital force socially? I don’t think so. Everything is too splintered. There are microcosms, like the Burger scene in Fullerton where there seems to be an unending flood of talent, bands exchanging ideas and influencing each other, it’s a culture. Of course, that is an observation from an old fart in Tucson, I could be completely wrong.

How do the band hook up with Burger? It looks like Burger put out Crummy Desert Sound, That Evil Drone and re-released Bright and Dark.
Matt: I had That Evil Drone recorded and the label I was on at the time didn’t seem that interested. I was despondent and ready to quit making records when the Makeout Party rolled in to Tucson. Sean and Lee had just started Burger and I kind of sheepishly asked them if they would want to release it. They were genuinely excited to do it, and as anyone can tell you who knows them, their excitement is pretty contagious.

How is the Tucson scene? Are there any similar bands that play in the same vein as The Resonars?  I know Tucson is known primarily as a college town with University of Arizona being there.
Matt: The Tucson scene is OK. There needs to be more youth and there are some new bands I’m genuinely excited about. The Resonars are pretty unpopular, though. People think we’re too loud and we’re not arty, gimmicky, or doing the Americana thing.

Jeremy: Not being from Tucson originally, I don’t have as good a grasp on the "scene" as the other Resonars do.  It seems to me that what we're doing is fairly unique, in that our sound does have a heavy sixties rock influence.  There are certainly other bands I enjoy seeing here, but I can't think of any others that go for the sixties vibe to such a degree.

It looks like the band is playing Europe in the fall. Do you know any bands The Resonars will play with? How excited is the band for this opportunity?
Matt: Yeah, we’re touring Europe in September/October with a bunch of other Trouble In Mind bands. We’re so excited about it that we’re all willing to give up our jobs to do it.

Jeremy:  Personally, I'm really excited for this tour.  It's a great opportunity to see some cool places and share what we do with another chunk of the world.  I know we'll be playing with Mmoss, which will be awesome.  I'm a big fan of their stuff.

50 years ago people used to buy music and get their water for free, now people pay for water and get their music for free. How do you think this affects music in any way?
Jeremy:  It has its good points and bad points.  Growing up, it was much harder for me to get my hands on music.  I had to scrape up the money for it and hope that one of the local dealers had something in their stock that was to my liking.  I get a little envious of the younger generation sometimes because of all the easy access they had to music from a young age.  I wonder sometimes if I'd be a different or better musician if I had what they did.  In the end, though, I think that this wide availability—whether it's paid for or not--is a positive thing since it's all for the love of music.

Matt: Whereas I, as a kid, would have to wait months to find a copy of say, a Pretty Things record, today’s kids have access to it instantly. Someone tells them about a band, it sounds interesting, and they can hear them that minute. I think for people who are looking to be inspired, it’s definitely a good thing.

I’ve read a couple interviews where The Resonars records where done primarily with a 4-track. In blurt-online there is a quote “I got a hold of a four-track reel-to-reel and it ended up breaking. I got an eight-track reel-to-reel and didn't like it. Then I started working with an ADAT and that sound was far too clean. I also tried an eight track cassette, but nothing seemed to work," he says. "I was getting more and more frustrated, until finally I just said ‘fuck it' and went back to the original four-track cassette.” How influential is that in the sound of the recordings? What is it about the 4-track that is so special in the recording process?
Matt: It’s the only machine I’m truly comfortable with. I’m a total dunderhead when it comes to machinery and recording technology. With that 4-track (it’s a Vestax MR-44, by the way) I can hit record and not worry about the bullshit and just focus on the music. I got it to the point where I can make it sound at least as good as any 1960s garage-punk recording.

"Photographs, if you give them the time, they can almost create a sound. You start hearing the soundtrack behind this photograph. It doesn't matter what the images are, they always sort of set something off[.]" Most bands usually just use life experience as a lyrical starting point. What brought about the photograph idea?
Matt: I don’t even remember! I think I was just leafing through one and a song popped in to my head, and then another, and another.

Where can people hear the band?

What’s next for The Resonars?
Jeremy: I am going to keep rocking with these fine fellows.

Matt: We need to start recording a new LP, the first to be recorded by a full band. We tour Europe for three weeks in September/October. After that, who knows? I’d like to stay on the road!

Photo credit by Jessie Jones.