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Allyce Andrew

The Wonder Years – Interview with Dan Campbell

Dan Campbell discusses his first time performing at Warped, Tina Fey and the 2008 election

For a band that could have easily been named Jesus Christ and the Flying Thunder Foxes due to their lack of expectations, The Wonder Years have long since expanded their position in the scene. Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, TWY are pop punk heros who have since been featured on the cover of Alternative Press magazines Warped Tour issue and have received positive reviews for their latest album “Suburbia: I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing.”

In an impromptu interview with the energetic and amicable frontman Dan Campbell (aka ‘Soupy’) at the Sam Houston Race Park on June 25th proved to be a wealth of surprises and stories, ranging from a possible future in law to rival high school football teams and even his affect on the 2008 presidential election.

Allyce Andrew:  What color would the sky be if it was not blue?

Dan “Soupy” Campbell:  What color would the sky be if it wasn’t blue?

AA:  Yes.

DC:  I guess clear, because I guess the idea of the sky being blue that’s like what, what is it – there’s a UV light spectrum, right? Is that how it works?

AA: I’m an English major…

DC:  So was I, that’s why I’m trying to think back to like eighth grade.

AA:  Oh, you’re an English major, too?

DC:  I was, I graduated actually like last month. 

AA:  From what school?

DC:  From temple University in Philly. I went to school for secondary ed and english, right and I have been done [with] all my classes for two years now but in order to graduate in secondary ed degree you’re supposed to student teach and I didn’t have time for that since we’ve been on tour since I finished my last class. So, I went back and said can I have my degree and not my certification and they said okay but I have to take one more class so I did it online last semester and I finally graduated college.

So, 5 out of the 6 of us in the band have a four-year degree. 

AA:  Do you think that it’s important for a band to have a college degree?

DC:   I mean it’s not important for a band to have a college degree, but I don’t plan on doing this for my entire life. 

AA:  Do you want to teach?

DC:  I did want to teach but now I kind of think I want to go to law school, is my new thing. I don’t know, I also like writing a lot so I might try to write freelance for some magazines in my spare time and the business side of music, I get really into. I like logistics — how did this come from the sky being blue? [laughs]

I guess if you couldn’t see the sky being blue you would just see the blackness of space above it. 

So, I’m super I don’t know, neurotic so I like everything to be in spreadsheets and lists and I like maps. 

AA:  You could be a manager someday.

DC:  Well, I like booking. There’s a band from Ohio called Mixtapes that I’m booking them now and I’m not doing the worst job in the world. It’s definitely not great but I’m doing my best and they’re amazing. 

AA:  So, you want to like stay in music even if it’s not making music?

DC:  Yeah, maybe. Or maybe I’ll go to law school — I’ve been reading up on that lately and starting to read LSAT books and then two of our band members are music industry majors and one of them is thinking about law school for copyright intellectually property law and I don’t know what the other is thinking about. 

AA:  What are you thinking about?

DC:  I don’t know… I don’t know, I thought about entertainment law, I also was thinking criminal law but then I don’t want to defend like a f’ing rapist, you know what I mean? I don’t really know, I’m still kind of ill researched on the topic so I guess I shouldn’t speak too much on it. 

AA:  You could have your own t.v. show.

DC:  That would be a disaster. [laughs] Kennedy, our drummer is an anthropology major and he got accepted to George Washington University for a Grad School program for Comparative Religions and actually ended up turning it down to come on tour with us. They extended his acceptance so he can go back and do that after the bands tour which is amazing because George Washington is obviously a prestigious school.

AA:  Which is probably why I’ve never heard of it. [laughs]

DC:  It’s in DC. Our guitar player Matt is a film major and he just went to Warped Tour film crews and our other guitar player Nick ran a recording studio before this and worked at a screen print shop and I’m sure he’ll do those things afterwards, too.

AA:  Those are all great alternatives, though. 

DC:  Yeah and the thing is we love doing this band but we’re all realist people. We realize that trends change and eventually people are going to hate our band no matter what we do, it’s impossible to change that fact and eventually the tides will turn and like everyone will love like techno jazz and we won’t want to play that and we’ll stop.

AA:  How did you all meet?

DC:  Three of us went to one high school and three of us went to another high school and when we all graduated our scenes kind of exploded into each other. They’re really kind of just down the street.

AA:  Were you guys like rival high schools, did you hate them?

DC:  No, our high school hated a high school called CB West and our football teams — how f’ing stupid, like bro movie is this — our football teams got in like a giant fist fight in the parking lot. It felt like the bro version of Grease, you know what I mean  And apparently, one of our football players went to jail for kicking another players teeth in. But we got along, I went to North Penn the rest went to Wissahicken and we all got along. 

AA:  That’s good, you didn’t have to kick anyones teeth in to avenge your football team. 

DC:  No teeth kicking, because I would. Because football’s life.

Random conversation ensued from the topic of Sunday football to sunglasses and led to The Wonder Years’ classification in the pop punk spectrum of the scene.

DC:  I think that we’re really poppy sometimes but we never expected to play the Warped Tour, I guess is the best way to say. We never expected to be on magazine covers, we never expected to be interviewed — we expected to play basements for a year and break up. 

Katie Pucheu-Morvant [filmer]:  And how long have you guys been together?

DC: Five-and-a-half years. [laughs]

When we started this band we were like if we do an East coast tour we will have accomplished every goal this band has ever had and now we’ve toured Russia. So, you never know. 

AA:  How was that?

DC:  Scary [laughs], fun and scary and then scary and then fun.

AA:  What’s your craziest touring story?

DC:  I have a standard fall back story when people ask me this question because I’m always bad at being put on the spot but during the 2008 presidential election we were driving and John McCain had a bus called the Straight Talk Express  — all over the side it said “straight talk express” and we were driving on the highway and all of the sudden in was next to us. So, we honked the horn and Kennedy hung his testicles out the window at it. 

So Mike Kennedy, our drummer, hung his testicles out of the window at John McCain’s bus and I think that that’s why he lost the election. So, after that he chose Sarah Palin and it all went down hill.

AA:  [laughs] That’s a great touring story, can you think of more? There have to be more awesome stories like that. 

DC:  There’s definitely more but we’re really kind of lame. A lot of bands are like, ‘yeah, then we f’ing partied all night’ but I went to bed at 9:30 last night. 

AA: [laughs]

DC:  I’m 25 but I feel like I’m 40, the weight of the world has fallen deadly upon me [laughs]. We play card games and like we’re just f’ing nerds. I read a lot.

AA:  Do you guys bring footballs and stuff?

DC:  We do and I brought a skateboard for this tour which was a blast yesterday and not fun at all today. Get a shot of the ground real quick. [camera pans to unforgiving gravel] That’s why it’s not fun today.

AA:  [laughs] Well, can you skateboard for us anyway, do you have it?

DC:  Oh, you just can’t skateboard on this. It’s too gravely.

AA:  Maybe you can find something.

DC:  We looked all over here today, we were trying this morning. 

AA:  Parking lot maybe?

DC:  Yeah, well even the parking lot’s all torn up.  It’s like hard to board today but yesterday was a blast. But, we brought a football that we haven’t thrown around yet. The good thing about Warped Tour is that we’re learning still, this is our first Warped tour.

AA:  Oh, so this is only your second day of Warped.

DC:  Ever and it’s like the most difficult tour — and it’s commonly known as being the most difficult tour in the world. Most tours are like, you wake up when you’ve done the drive and you don’t load in until 2. Then you know, loading is at 7:30 in the morning. So, we wake up early and you’re in the hot sun all day and there’s a ton of work to do and we can get it all done quicker and have more free time but we’re not good at it yet. We’re not good at setting up everything yet for a festival

AA:  Maybe on the fourth day?

DC:  Maybe on the fourth day. And on the fourth day he said, ‘let there be skateboarding.’

AA: [laughs] Well, what books do you like to read?

DC:  Right now I’m reading Tina Fey’s “Bossy Pants” — I feel like it should be read by like feminists but I think Tina Fey’s awesome. Okay, I f’ing hate movies. I really don’t like them — nah, I shouldn’t say that, I like some movies but I don’t like to watch a whole movie because if I feel like I’ve spent two-and-a-half hours or an hour-and-a-half even just watching one story line then like I haven’t accomplished enough. So, oddly enough then — well, I guess not oddly enough I guess it kind of makes sense — I love television because the story arc is up and down in half an hour and then I can go and get work done.

So, recently I’ve gotten really obsessed with television and this kind of clique in television between like all the people that used to work at “Saturday Night Live” and were part of Second City, Groundlings and “30 Rock” and “Community.” Donald Glover who wrote for “30 Rock” is also on “Community” so I started watching “Community” a lot.  And, he also does this dope hip hop project called Childish Gambino — and then I got really into “Parks and Rec.” because of Amy Poehler and Aubrey Plaza and like you know, “Arrested Development” Will Arnett and Poehler are married. It’s this whole interconnected community of awesome television shows.

“Party Down,” I’ve been really into so I really got excited about Tina Fey’s book. I guess if you want to talk my favorite books, I love Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.” I think it is an American masterpiece. It’s one of the best pieces of American literature I’ve ever held in my hand it’s awe-inspiring.

Actually, there’s a movie about his that you can watch about it called “Capote,” about him writing the book. It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and it’s awesome, you should check it out.

One-on-one with Graffiti6's Jamie Scott

We interview one-half of the duo Graffiti6

Graffiti6 is fronted by Jamie Scott – a former folk musician whose latest album ‘Colours’ has launched him into the soul, pop spotlight.  ‘Colours’ was a result of years of performing and songwriting experience as well as the collaboration between Scott and the celebrated songwriter-producer, as well as fellow London native: TommyD. Graffiti6’s critically acclaimed debut album was released in the UK in 2010 and the US version is set to be released today and may be purchased here.

Allyce Andrew: Hello, Jamie! Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions!

Your debut album, ‘Colours,’ is set to be released very soon in the US but it has been out in England for quite some time. Does that fact make the debut any less exciting or are you still stoked to reach an entirely new audience?

Jamie Scott: No, we are still very excited for the US release because we have spent a while now here in the States so it will be really cool to actually have the main body of work out so people can hear it. And of course it’s a great country to tour so we are ready!

AA: You’ve been touring a lot in the US, which is something that I read that you’ve been waiting to do for years and now you’re set to perform at Jay Leno. Has it been as grand as you expected?

JS: Yeah I think that until you get on plane and fly from state to state, you can never quite imagine the size of America! So for me it’s also amazing to see the different cultures and people all over the States as well as getting to perform our music so much.

AA: You are certainly not new to writing and recording music, is Graffiti6 the project that you see yourself sticking with for a long time?

JS: Yes for sure!

AA: Tommy D was an essential component in the writing and production of ‘Colours,’ how did you two hook up?

JS: We met through my old Label boss who knew Tommy and thought we should meet…it was as simple as that.

AA: Your past work, namely Jamie Scott & The Town, was especially stripped down and influenced by folk and soul music while Tommy D has a lengthy resume of work with pop and hip hop artists. Were you initially hesitant to work with someone who approached music in a different way than you did?

JS: I was actually excited about it and very open to change for a while because i had been going through a rough few years and wanted to feel i was starting a fresh with a few things in my life. So this actually came at a great time for me.

AA: You achieved a good bit of well deserved success with your former project,
what made you shift gears and form Graffiti6?

JS: Well the decision to call what we were doing ‘a project’ only really came after we had written 4/5 songs together and soon realised we had a sound and a style going on so I would say I fell into Graffiti6.

AA: What was your initial attraction to music since you approached it at such an early age? Also, you have a very soulful and striking voice, what were some of your influences as you were growing up and today?

JS: Well, I first remember hearing a record when I was 7, and it was Joni Mitchell. The album was ‘Blue’. I think i had a connection with music since then. I started to teach myself the guitar and piano and before long I was realising that writing music was an amazing way to get things off your chest and relieve your soul a little. As for the soul influences, i heard mostly only Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway and so on when I was younger. Combined with a lot of folk records.

AA: A lot of musicians seem to attribute their home town to their musical style – growing up in England, do you think that your work would sound any different if you would have been born in another area?

JS: No, I think because of the music I listened to, wherever I was from I would have still been influenced heavily my folk and soul music.

AA: What are the future plans for Graffiti6? Will Tommy D still have a major role in the next record?

JS: Yes most definitely….Graffiti6 in the studio, is a collaboration between myself and Tommy. Without either of us it wouldn’t be Graffiti6 anymore. In terms of the future…..Endless touring I hope!

AA: Again – thanks for taking the time to answer these, happy touring and best of luck in the new year!

JS: Thank you so much.

Get a taste of Graffiti6 by checking out the music video for “Free” below!

Young the Giant – Interview at Austin City Limits 2011

An interview with bassist Payam Doostzadeh of Young the Giant at Austin City Limits 2011

Formerly known as The Jakes, a name change to Young the Giant and a handful of new songs seems to have launched the band into commercial success over night. After being featured as MTV’s push artist of the week and a performance of their slap in the face track “My Body” on the 2011 VMAs — their debut album, “Young the Giant,” has peaked as the 36th top rock album on Billboard and remains on the charts today. Their performance at Austin City Limits this year was nothing short of magical as a (much welcomed) rainfall began during their rendition of “Apartment.” I met up with bassist Payam Doostzadeh afterwards to discuss his lack of concept of time, recording, their success and the future.

Allyce Andrew:  So you joined in 2008?

Payam Doostzadeh:  What year is it? 

AA: 2011 [laughs].

PD:  Yeah, I guess. I was the last member to join. 

AA:  But, you guys had all know each other before.

PD:  Yes, I had know Sameer the longest, since we were eight — we used to play soccer — is that Skrillex? [insert sigh]

AA:  I know, I want to see him, too! 

PD:  We were sitting next to their manager on the plane. Anyways, I’ve known Sameer since we were eight, we played soccer together and I hated him because he was much better than I was. I just kind of hated him from that point and then Jake moved from England when he was like 12 and me and him started a band, and then me and Sameer started playing in a band when we were like 14 — it was an acoustic band called Cable Car. 

I’ve been playing music with those guys for a while, then I joined as a temporary bassist for the Jakes because they had to go on like a California tour and they needed a bassist, so I joined and I haven’t left.

Katie Pucheu-Morvant (Filmer): It [the band] was called the Jakes before, right?

PD:  Yes, but now it’s called Young the Giant. Why? I don’t know. It means nothing, it’s not pretentious, it’s not because we think we’re huge.

KPM:  How did you guys come up with that?

PD:  Sameer just blurted it out. We wanted to be something young, like the Young Turks but that’s already a band, like the young something. And Young the Giant, he just like said it and we lived in Hollywood, we all lived together and upstairs we had a loft which was a studio as well as Jake and Francois’ bedroom. And once he said Young the Giant we were all like, “yeah, that’s cool — let’s work on that.”  We went upstairs and we jammed out like three or four songs under the guise of Young the Giant and it just worked. Everything seemed really good.

AA:  Well, under that guise it seems like you guys have done a lot more than with your former band.

PD:  Well, yeah we got signed. [laughs] That’s why.

AA:  Yeah I know — but it’s kind of amazing because you got to work with um, how do you pronounce his name?

PD:  Joe Chicarelli. 

AA:  Yeah, you worked with him and he’s an amazing producer.

PD:  He’s pretty epic.

AA:  Yeah, how was that?

PD:  Intense. He’s a very knowledgable producer, almost too knowledgeable. He’s worked with you know some of the best musicians in the world — not including us. Sorry, I phrased that weirdly. We do not fall in that sub-set of greatest musicians in the world. I’m talking about like, U2 and I don’t know everyone, My Morning Jacket and the Raconteurs, the White Stripes — Jack White.

So you know, it was a great learning experience. He definitely pushed us beyond our limits.

AA:  Did you ever expect that to happen or was that just a happy surprise?

PD:  I was not expecting that at all, I thought that we were going to work with some random producer. He was excited, we were excited, the label was excited, everyone was excited — so it worked out.

AA:  Why did you guys choose the label (Roadrunner Records) that you’re on, because it’s mainly a metal label.

PD:  Yeah, I know — we get that question a lot. Primarily because they were the most interested in us. They were the ones who were coming back, time after time. Here in Austin, two years ago — was it two years ago? At South By [Southwest] ’09 they approached us everyday — we want to sign you, sign this contract — let’s do it. 

We had some other labels, like, talking but they weren’t very committed and they [Roadrunner] were like, ‘listen, we’re going to give you full attention, we’re going to give you all of our resources, we want you to be our next project that we’re going to focus on.’

So, us being young and, mainly our management helped us out with the decision, too, but we were like f’ it, let’s go with these guys. They’re a metal label that’s trying to break an indie band so they’re going to put everything they have into it. Nowadays, record labels aren’t as important as they were 10 years ago — we have Internet now… [looks around] Something smells good, sorry.

But yeah, because of that dedication they had towards us it was really the deciding factor of why we went with them.

AA:  It’s paying off, too, because you guys played at the VMAs recently.

PD:  Yeah, that was ridiculous.

AA:  Were you so nervous?

PD:  No, luckily we had our good family and friends up front in the crowd. It was just really cool to see them, like super excited and a bunch of celebrities in the background that I don’t really care about — more importantly my friends, you know. They were loving it and we fed off that energy and it was truly amazing experience.

AA:  When did you first start playing the bass?

PD: [laughs] I started playing bass in middle school, I played upright bass because I wasn’t good enough to play violin in orchestra. Yeah, I was in orchestra throughout high school and elementary school and everything. I wasn’t good at violin because I never practiced in the summer, I just f’ed around. So, I played stand up and then Jake when he came from London, or England, we joined a band so I had to buy a bass guitar and that’s where I kind of transitioned.  So, like it’s been about eight, seven years — eight years? Nine years? I don’t even know how old I am anymore. [shrugs]

AA:  Either way, that’s a long time, but I know that you want to watch Skrillex and I do too, but what’s like next for Young the Giant?

PD:  Finishing the Incubus run, playing some radio shows, radio festivals in December like holiday shows, time off — well deserved — to write, chill, relax and then we have a headlining tour for the first half of next year. We’ll go to Australia, maybe Japan and then hopefully start recording the next album a year from today.

Relient K interview at Warped Tour

An interview with Ethan Luck of Relient K at the 2011 Van’s Warped Tour in Houston, Texas

Ethan Luck is a man of eclectic interests. Luck formerly performed as guitarist for Demon Hunter, has a sharp eye for photography and now performs on the opposite end of the music spectrum as the drummer for alt favorites Relient K. I caught up with Luck for a quick interview at the 2011 Van’s Warped Tour in Houston, Texas to talk about life on the road and their latest album “Karaoke.”

Allyce Andrew: How long have you been in Relient K?

Ethan Luck:  About three-and-a-half years.

AA:  So, have you seen a lot of member changes or are you the newest member?

EL:  There hasn’t been a member change other than me, the line-up has been consistent since like the “Mmhmm” record—and that came out in 2005, I think? But the lineup was solid before that—so it’s been like seven years.

AA: And they only have two original members?

EL: Yeah, Matt and Matt.

AA: [laughs] Yeah, it’s quite confusing.

EL: Yeah, it can be—sorry. Well, there’s two Matts and two Johns and then me so we just call everyone by their last names except for me. My middle name is John so I can go by that.

AA: [laughs] Well, have you played at Warped tour before?

EL: Yeah, in 2008.

AA: Have you noticed any major changes so far between Warped Tour then and Warped Tour now?

EL:  Um, you know, this year is very reminiscent of ‘08 because there’s a lot of the same bands that we were out with in ‘08 like the Street Dogs and the Aggrolites, but there’s a lot of new bands that we’re stoked on like—who did we watch yesterday? Hellogoodbye. They were really cool. But it’s kind of the same drill, though. It’s a lot of the same places we’re playing, it’s hot stuff—like that. But yeah, we’re very excited to do it again.

AA:  Do you prefer regular touring, like standard touring, as opposed to Warped Tour?

EL:  I think they each have their own charm. I mean obviously, a lot of times you prefer to do your own tour because people are showing up that are just for you, you know? It seems a little cocky to say but that’s the truth, you know.  You go do a tour, you play a club and you’re on the marquee so the people that are there are your fans, where people who come to Warped Tour are here to see a ton of bands. And there’s people that will come just to see us but they each have their own charm, you know, you have the comforts of playing familiar clubs on your own tours and the comfort of knowing that everyone is there to see you guys and stuff so yeah, I like them both for different reason I guess.

AA:  Who’s your favorite band that you get to hang out with on the tour?

EL:  On Warped Tour? I’ve got a good amount of friends on the tour. As far as far as watching bands the Aggrolites are great, they’re a great like ska/soul band that we got to know a little bit on Warped Tour in ‘08 and they’re a fun band to watch live. But yeah, we know some of the guys—like the August Burns Red guys, um other crew guys from other bands. Who else do we know? Blankin’ right now. Some of the Less Than Jake guys.

AA:  And you guys are releasing “Karaoke” soon?

EL:  Yeah, “Relient K is for Karaoke.” It comes out on Tuesday.

AA:  Oh, really? That’s exciting. Why did you decide to do a cover album as opposed to original tracks?

EL:  Um, the band has always been doing cover songs for so long—you know, we don’t always have a bunch of songs ready to go. You either sit around, we want to do something. Plus, with Warped Tour coming up we didn’t have a ton of time just to like, you know lock ourselves in a room and hack stuff out, things like that. So, we figured let’s put out cover songs since we always do them live and seem to like those and we’ll put that out for the summer and hope that people like it.

To Write Love On Her Arms – Interview with Jason Blades

A brief interview with music events coordinator Jason Blades of TWLOHA at the 2011 Van’s Warped Tour

To Write Love On Her Arms, a non-profit organization founded by Jamie Tworkowski out of Florida, began as a way to help a friend with depression, self-injury, depression and suicide and their message of light has since grown to help countless people throughout the world though its essential connection to fans through music icons such as Paramore and Switchfoot and the use of social media. Compassion has been their message since 2006, and the tattoo on Jason Blades’ chest announcing just that makes him a qualified candidate to spread TWLOHA’s message to thousands of fans at the Van’s Warped Tour.

I got a chance to briefly interview the former intern turned music events coordinator in Houston, Texas on June 25th at the Sam Houston Race Park.

Allyce Andrew:  When did you get stated with To Write Love on her Arms?

Jason Blades:  I started doing the intern program and I just applied and I was able to move to Florida for three months and just be in that. From there they asked me if I wanted to stay on and do Warped Tour. So, I did my first Warped Tour three years ago and I’m just full time now so I’ve kind of been doing it ever since. 

AA:  So, what do you do as your job for TWLOHA?

JB:  I work in the music events department, I work with this one other kid as music events coordinators so we do everything — Christian festivals, Warped Tour, anything merch, music or event related pretty much.

AA:  How does music fit with TWLOHA’s message?

JB:  It’s a pretty important part of our story and how it began, how we were able to spread our message at first. If you’re familiar with the story of how we began Jon Foreman (of Switchfoot) was one of the first people to ever wear a shirt at one of his shows in Florida. So, from there we’ve just found a lot of musicians who were able to connect with our message. We’re at Warped Tour today, so this is probably like 15,000 people. Being able to reach so many people on such a large scale through music events is usually why we stick with music, because it brings an eclectic group of people together as well.

AA:  What’s your most rewarding experience working with TWLOHA, like a specific story?

JB:  I’d say… It’s tough because there’s a lot. Mostly it’s coming out on the road like this because you can kind of lose sight of the rewarding aspects when you’re in the office because it’s papers, administrative paper stuff but getting to be on the road like this and getting to meet people who support TWLOHA or have been reached or touched by TWLOHA — that’s what makes it rewarding. Every day there’s a different story, so to pick one specific story is tough because there’s so many. [motions towards a table full of papers] That’s a whole table full of stories.

AA:  Well, what’s up with the table, what are you guys doing?

JB:  Well, for Warped this summer we’re doing this project or campaign we’re calling Fears Versus Dreams  We’re inviting people to share their biggest fears and their greatest dreams and we’ve got them posted all over the table. We probably have 300 people that have shared today and by doing that we’re hoping that we’re just inviting people to be a little bit more honest or maybe communicate things that they weren’t comfortable sharing before. Just seeing everyone else’s fears and dreams on a table, it’s pretty powerful itself. 

AA:  How else can fans participate in TWLOHA besides this?

JB:  We’re going to try to be doing this… we’re going to try to do some stuff online wether it’s on YouTube or through our Twitter account or something like that. But we have our Web site which you can visit and there’s a ‘move’ tab. There’s about 10 different ways they can get involved, there’s a street team, there’s University chapters. We take a lot of volunteers right from street team to help out at Warped and events like this so if they were to go to that move page, there’s a ton of different ways they can get involved. 

AA:  Well, on a different note, what’s your favorite band to work with or like to see at Warped tour this year?

JB:  Um, every year’s different because Warped’s always changing, but this is only the second day so it’s kind of hard to say. We definitely have a few friends that are out. So, I don’t know, we’ll see as the summer progresses who we meet and who supports us, I guess. So, if you came back in a month maybe I would have a better answer.

Matt & Kim

Energetic duo Matt & Kim prove that their sets are just as upbeat as their music

After watching Matt & Kim perform at the House of Blues in New Orleans on June 8th, it comes as no surprise that the indie dream couple won the MTV Performing Woodie Award this year.

Matt & Kim

Singer and keyboard player Matt Johnson and drummer Kim Schifino are based in Brooklyn and started the band in ’04 after they met at Pratt Institute.  Extensive touring and three energetic albums later, the upbeat duo has grown into something huge. Matt & Kim’s music lacks nothing in the terms of energy, proving that a group does not necessarily need all of its members to make a full band.

Matt & Kim

They maintained huge grins while powering through tracks and rap covers, revealed details about their sex life, forced their sound tech to put a fans underwear on his head, and interacted with the crowd in-between songs. A few things that fans were urged to do by the band was to blow up balloons with their faces on it and throw their underwear onstage (Kim even asked all of the men to take off their shirts near the end of the show). Kim proclaimed she loves her life since her job was making music each night, a mentality that shows in their performances and never fails to disappoint fans.

Matt & Kim

Interview with GIVERS

At the Sasquatch Music Festival I briefly interviewed the band GIVERS,whose members proved to be just as eclectic as their music

From Alternative Press to Nylon, after being singed to Glassnote Records everyone is catching on to the infectious afro-pop, indie band GIVERS. On the last day of the Sasquatch Music Festival, I caught up vocalist/guitarist Taylor Guarisco, drummer/vocalist Kirby Campbell and keyboardist Nick Stephan for a quick interview and, since we share the same hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana, it was entertaining to say the least. Their debut album “In Light” was released on June 7th and can be purchased here.

GIVERS 3

Allyce Andrew:  How do you feel like your set went?

[Chaos ensues as the band members worry out over the “pressures” of being filmed for audio purposes]

Taylor Guarisco: [Nick pretends to be speaking]  Well, the show was awesome. The people … were dancing a lot — more than normal — aaaaaaaand the scenery was beautiful. It was such amazing scenery to look out over the crowd and see this huge gorge yackyakablala blerghyahala.

AA: [laughs]  Who were you excited to see at Sasquatch?

Kirby Campbell:  Deerhunter, I’m pretty excited for that. 

AA:  It’s going to be amazing.

KC:  Yeah.

Nick Stephan:  [Taylor pretends to be speaking] It’s going to be great, really great, just, oh God. [laughs]

AA:  Where else are you guys going this summer?

NS:  We’re going down the West Coast.

TG:  Immediately after this we’re going down the West Coast then after that we’re going to take our first trip overseas to Europe.

AA:  Oh, really? Are you excited?

TG:  Very.

AA:  Where are you playing at in Europe?

TG:  A bunch of shows in the U.K. and then a show in Ireland and then a show in Norway. We’ve got a lot of festival shows, too, which is a treat. 

AA:  So do you like playing at festivals the best?

TG:  I mean, both festivals and venues have their strong points, you know, or like their advantages. Festivals, like, the outside environment is very refreshing and you could say there’s a certain magic to that and then in clubs there’s a certain intimacy, you know. Everything vibrates in a club, the stage shakes and you can hear everything and it’s kind of like a visceral, loud experience where at a  festival all the sound just kind of goes zoooosh [makes an expanding motion outward] and it can be a little different or weird sometimes, festival stages. But, overall, the beautiful — you have to write in: “he opens his arms in a majestic gaping way,” — the atmosphere kind of makes up for that, I think.

AA:  Yeah, I think that this festival has a really great atmosphere and lots of nice people. But you guys are signed to Glassnote now, did they approach you?

TG:  Tell ’em Kirby.

KC:  Yeah, they approached us. I think they came and met us at ACL and it kind of felt really good right off the bat with them but we though about it for a few months and wanted to make sure and then it was pretty clear this year that it was them. They just had that same family feeling that we felt that we had between us, and it just felt like a really good connection. 

AA:  What other labels were like trying to get you guys to sign to them?

KC:  Can we say that?

Manager:  No.

AA:  Oh, you can’t say that?  [Whoops!]

TG:  There was a handful, they were all really really awesome, you know.  This was our first time talking to people at labels, we got to meet so many awesome labels.  It was not an easy choice in some regards.  We’re really fortunate to meet so many good people in the “industry.”

AA:  And your from such a small town, so was it really bizarre that such a like major label approached you?

TG:  Yeah, fuck, yeah — it’s crazy.

KC:  It’s still bizarre right now.

TG:  The fact that we’re in Washington state doing an interview with you after we just played this set — there’s certain aspects of this meal that we’re still digesting, you know. We’re not all just like used to this. We came from Lafayette and the label and festivals and all these shows and people being at the shows and knowing some of the lyrics of the songs – it’s so bizarre.  It’s fucking bizarre, people knew they words of our songs and they’re from Washington state. That is fucking nuts. 

AA:  Who’s the producer that you worked with on your album?

TG:  It’s a self-produced album and our friend Korey Richey was our engineer and he would like co-produce the album with us. We had Ben Allen and Chris Coady do all of the mixing. So this album is like this labor of love, we spent so much time producing it and taking the time out to make sure that it felt super, I guess you could say, in line with our full creative vision. We took our time with it. It took about a year and then those guys mixed it, Chris Coady and Ben Allen, and just gave it another dimension with their mixing.

AA:  So, what’s the songwriting process for you guys?

TG:  We get all these bones of these little animals and we shake them and we throw them and depending on the shape that the bones make we’ll determine the key. 

[something dusts over us]

TG:  Alas, the oracle has spoken.

KC: [laughs] What the hell was that.

AA:  I don’t even know what that was.

TG:  I’m sorry, I wasn’t really supposed to send the juju out, there will be a new GIVERS song out by tomorrow.  It shall come.

AA:  What key will it be in?

TG:  G. So yeah, the bones determine the key and we check the compass depending on the highest point of the bone that determines the tempo. North is fast and South is slow.

AA:  [laughs] Does it matter what kind of animal you use?

TG:  Oh, we only use — well, I can’t tell you what animal we use but  there’s only one animal that we use. 

No, but every song has a different writing process.  Some songs come from free-form jams, some songs come from little ideas that someone will bring the the table – there are really no rules and no limitations to the creative process. Which we think that it should be like that in every band, we’re just lucky that it’s become the case for us. There’s no set rules or anything like that. The only rules that are [adopts something between a gangster and mobster an accent] there are not rules. [laughs] That’s off the record, actually.

AA:  Everything is on the record, sorry.

TG:  Ooooooh!

NS:  Busted.

Interview with Dallas Green

I caught up with City & Colour frontman, Dallas Green, at the Sasquatch Music Festival

On the third day of the Sasquatch Music Festival in George, Washington, Dallas Green (the frontman of City & Colour as well as member of Alexisonfire), took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to me about recording, skateboarding and life on the road.

Allyce Andrew:  So, you just recorded a new album? “Little Hell?”

Dallas Green: Yes.

AA:  And you named it that because you had trouble with your recording?

DG:  Well, I wrote a song called “Little Hell” which is where the original idea came from but then as I started thinking about it more it just seemed like that’s kind of how I feel about life. It’s all sort of about little hells that you either put yourself into or have like, you know thrust upon you that you have to sort of get through it.  It’s all in how you get through those that like sort of builds your character, molds you into the person that you are and that’s kind of why I called it “Little Hell.”

AA:  So, it’s like underlying optimism kind of?

DG: Yeah, I feel like that’s sort of how I write songs. They have this sort of stark melancholic feel but at their core there’s like a light at the end of the tunnel. 

AA:  And you recorded it with Alex Newport?

DG:  Yes.

AA:  How was that?

DG:  It was great. I recorded it all on tape, so it was important for me to have someone who was experienced in that field where he’s been making records on tape for almost 20 years so that was good. And he’s also very meticulous, very interested in getting the best possible performance that you can get as opposed to producers that just try to re-write your songs. He liked the songs already so it was all about getting them to sound as good as they could be.

AA:  So, he just. Oh my gosh!  – [Dallas swats a bee away from his face]

DG:  I got it, I hit it

AA:  Oh, please don’t get stung!

DG:  It’s okay, I just punched it in the face.

AA:  [laughs] Good, now it’s angry. That’s perfect. 

So, it was kind of like you already wrote the songs and he just produced them basically?

DG:  I had written all of the songs and demo’d them and stuff and sent them to him. I mean we worked a little bit on structures to like trim the fat, you know? Certain songs didn’t have to be as long as they were or we could’ve extended certain parts but they pretty much stayed the way they were and he made sure they sounded good.

AA:  Are the influences for Little Hell kind of the same as your older albums?

DG:  Musically?  There’s definitely some different stuff going on, especially from the first record which is just me and a guitar.  This record definitely expands on certain ideas  There are songs that could almost be considered rock songs, just like full band kind of vibe. But there are still songs that are at its core me and a guitar.

AA:  Yeah, because the two tracks that I’ve heard were “Northern Wind” and “Fragile Bird” and those were so different.

DG:  Yeah, that’s like the two extremes and then there’s a lot of in-between those two songs.

AA:  So, the albums like very diverse in that sense.

DG:  Yeah, I guess so. 

AA:  So, what’s, like, the hardest part about touring?

DG:  Uh, just sort of the wear and tear like emotionally and physically that it can have on you – that’s all.  Because, you can go through long periods of time where you’re just in and out of different time zones and not a lot of sleep and eating poorly and stuff like that so it’s hard to stay healthy.  But then, you get to play music every night so that’s a plus.

AA:  Well, what do you do on your downtime?

DG:  I don’t really have any. 

AA:  Really? Did you bring a skateboard, I read that you skateboard a little bit.

DG:  I usually do, yeah now that the weather’s getting nicer, yes, I will bring a skateboard.

AA:  Do you have it with you?

DG:  No, because I just flew in here and now I’m flying home so on those things you just bring as little as possible. The least amount of stuff that you can bring that the airport will lose is the better, you know.

AA:  Yeah, exactly. So, who are you excited about seeing at Sasquatch?

DG:  Well one of my favorite bands ever is called Archers of Loaf who have just recently started playing shows again.  They’re playing right after us and I’ve never seen them play.

AA:  I’ve never heard of them, I’ll have to check them out.

DG:  They’re awesome.  I don’t even care what they play because they’ve got a bunch of records so it’s just going to be cool to see them.  I never thought I’d ever get to see them because they broke up also I never thought I’d get to say, you know, up next is Archers of Loaf so that’s pretty cool. And then um, I just got to see Basia Bulat who’s Canadian which is cool.  Modest Mouse is also playing, should be neat.

AA:  Are you going to watch the Flaming Lips?

DG:  Yeah, there’s the Flaming Lips, too.  There’s lots of stuff to check out.

AA:  So how is touring with City & Colour different than with Alexisonfire?

DG:  Um, it’s just different people, you know what I mean?  It’s pretty much the same, I mean touring is touring.  The show is obviously a lot different, you know.  One show is like let’s see how loud we can be and how sweaty we can get where the other show is like let’s see what kind of ridiculous stories I can come up with for in-between songs.  Yeah, that’s the difference.

AA:  Do you feel like you’re going to have to choose between Alexisonfire and City & Colour since City & Colour is growing so much?

DG:  Basically for the last five years I’ve just been trying to do both as much as possible.  I always kind of thought that one day, I would settle down.  I used to call City & Colour my retirement project where it was like when I was older I would sit down with an acoustic guitar.  So, I guess that’s sort of like a cross that bridge when I get there kind of thing.

AA: Well, they’re both great bands so either one is a great decision.

DG:  Thanks.

The Sasquatch Music Festival

Music fans are blown away at the tenth Sasquatch Music Festival

The small town of George, Washington is home to the Gorge Amphitheatre — the gorgeous outdoor venue that overlooks gorgeous rolling hills and a river. The Gorge was also home to around 20,000 music fans as they camped out for four days during the 10th anniversary of the Sasquatch music festival.

Deerhunter

(Deerhunter)

The headliners included Foo Fighters, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, Wilco, The Flaming Lips, Bright Eyes, Flogging Molly, Skrillex, Matt & Kim and tons more, most of whom were happy to perform at such a gorgeous venue. Many buzz-worthy bands attracted tons of fans to their stages like Foster the People, The Head and the Heart, GIVERS and Noah and the Whale. 

matt & kim 3

(Matt & Kim)

The bands were not the only people stoked about being there as the crowd itself at Sasquatch was one of the highlights of the four days. Since the festival takes place in the middle of nowhere, the fans that did make the trip really wanted to be there. Mosh pits, crowd surfing and massive dance parties were everywhere to be found among the painted and dirty crowds. Even after the shows ended, dub-step parties could be found all over the freezing cold camp ground which allowed for little sleep for those who wanted it.

From Wayne Coyne throwing cake into the crowd, to Conor Oberst kissing a fan, overall, the festival is worth all of the time and money necessary to get to it. I have yet to find one that tops it but, until next year, I will certainly try.

Bands to Watch: The Joy Formidable

The Joy Formidable makes waves in the music scene with their alternative, post-punk sound

The post-punk trio from North Wales, The Joy Formidable, have been slowly rising in the music world’s ranks with their gorgeous 90s garage, alternative sound since their origin in 2007. The band consists of old friends and bandmates singer/guitarist Ritzy Bryan, bassist Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matt Thomas. I, honestly, ignored the buzz for a long time,  dismissing the band as another trend that would eventually fade away. But, after watching their performance of “Whirring” on “Conan,” I realized that I was completely wrong.

Their new album, “The Big Roar,” was released in January and marks their full-length debut under Canvasback Music/Atlantic Records and everyone is taking notice. Music legend Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters tweeted that, “I would like to personally thank The Joy Formidable for writing the song of the year ‘Whirring’. xxx Dave.” Even Blink 182’s music guru, Mark Hoppus, has taken notice of the band, tweeting, “the new joy formidable album is far, far too good!!” and “My favorite song right now is Whirring by The Joy Formidable.”

The Joy Formidable’s road to success was not a straight shot. After playing gigs around London, they eventually generated enough buzz to land opening slots with Passion Pit and The Temper Trap and were the first band to sign to Black Bell Records, Ayad Al Adhamy of Passion Pit’s label, in 2010. 

Their current tour is mostly comprised of dates in the U.K. and France, but they will be playing at Lollapalooza this August in Chicago, Illinois. If you prefer to watch bands in venues just give it a couple of months and they’ll be back, a band with this much hype cannot stay out of the state’s for long. Until then, tracks to check out are “Greyhounds in the Slips, “Austere” and “Whirring.”