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Every Time I Die

Every Time I Die Return to the Machine Shop, Michigan

After 12 years, Every Time I Die made a triumphant return to the Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan. The venue, which had a slight western theme with restrooms labeled as “cowgirls” and “cowboys,” and a literal chain for a barricade, erupted with screaming fans and staff trying to capture crowd-surfers the second Keith Buckley stepped on stage. His vocals sounded as if he has the ability to rip through sandpaper, starting off the show with Roman Holiday. Guitarists Jordan Buckley and Andy Williams shred through the riffs with undying power and control, while bassist Stephen Micciche had control of the undertones in each song. Clayton Holyoak, the group’s drummer, had one of the most calming facial expressions I had ever seen on a drummer. Throughout the entire show, he maintained an appearance of being thoroughly at peace with the environment around him.

“Peace,” however, is one of the last things a fan of Every Time I Die should expect at one of their shows. With an abundance of people creating circle pits, crowd-surfers and head-bangers galore, beer seemingly falling on you from every direction, and getting kneed in the head multiple times (personal experience within the photo pit), it’s safe to say that the Machine Shop’s western theme lived up to the hype of Every Time I Die—wild, wild, wild.

The crowd, just as excited as the band were to be back, kept the energy alive throughout the 21-song set. With classic hits like The New Black, Pigs is Pigs, The Coin Has a Say and We’re Wolf mixed in with crowd favorites like Apocalypse Now and Then, Petal, Romeo a Go-Go and Decayin’ With the Boys, there was a bit of something for everyone at the show and it was hard not to be ecstatic throughout the entirety of it. Vocalist Buckley kept the crowd going as well, stopping between songs here and there to not only say a few words of encouragement, but also to check in with crowd members to see if they were still having a good time (shout out to the person on a swing). One interesting highlight of the setlist was that Every Time I Die decided to end their set with Fear and Trembling, which normally is an opener song throughout most of their previous tour dates post their latest album, Low Teens.

For a band that’s been around for nearly two decades and released eight stellar LP’s, it’d be easy to say that a group has “worn out” on stage and in studio, or become “too tired” and “boring” to continue putting on kick-ass shows—Every Time I Die is not one of those groups. During their final song, guitarist Jordan took the initiative to stage-dive and the crowd carried him from the stage all the way to the back of the venue, near where they had their merch setup. As the Flint stop was their final run on their recent US tour until the Vans Warped Tour this summer, I truly don’t think Every Time I Die could have seen a better send-off crowd than the one in Michigan.

Further reading: Panic! At the Disco Back with New Track

Ron Pope

Ron Pope Interview

Defining independent artist of the moment Ron Pope has sold more than two million digital tracks worldwide, has racked up over 200 million streams on Spotify and 150 million views on YouTube. On the release of his latest album, Worktapes, he talks music, almost giving up and what’s in store for 2018.

It was in 2012 that I first heard A Drop in the Ocean (2007), one of Ron Pope’s most listened-to tracks on YouTube (with 53 million views at the time of writing). That song marked the beginning of a lifelong love of all things acoustic, so when the opportunity to speak with the man himself arose, I jumped. We’ve just a 20-minute slot in which to speak, but Pope is relaxed, optimistic and ready to go. Naturally, the conversation begins with the release of his highly anticipated EP, Worktapes. “The response has been great,” he tells me. The EP comes just months after the release of Work, the first in the two-album series. “I kind of thought of it as one project, but I wanted to divide it just to give people more manageable, more bite-sized pieces.” Pope explains that with the advent of technology and smartphones (“little computers”, he calls them), musicians have to compete with everything out there now. “Because there is so much that people are doing, and so much in their faces, I think it’s easier on my audience if I give them 10 songs at a time or seven songs at a time and not 20, or whatever.”

 A nod to the past   

Worktapes is a nostalgic trip to the musician’s earlier albums—slow, quiet and vulnerable tracks that have earned him his distinct sound and reputation. I ask Pope if this was a conscious decision. “It’s intimidating writing quiet music. If a crowd makes noise and you’re in a band, you can just play louder, you know? If you’re playing quiet music live, if people aren’t quiet, then it’s ruined, it’s a waste of time. So you have to really believe that people are going to listen to it if you’re going to create it… [quieter music] has come back into my life in a very real way in the last handful of years.” Pope is truly in touch with his intuition and it’s his connection with his emotions that makes his deeply authentic music so attainable to his fan base. “You make music for yourself, and then you release it for your audience, so I’m creating music that feels good to me; I’m shaping the music and I could never manipulate that [process]. What sounds good to me right now is what I will create, that’s why the records sound different from album to album, that’s why sometimes there’s loud songs and sometimes there are quiet songs and it really has to do with what feels right to me.”

On giving up

The indie star attributes the freedom he has to create the music he wants to his label Brooklyn Basement Records, a company that he runs with his wife, Blair. “Music is really keeping me off the streets—which is good for me and good for the streets,” he jokes. But it hasn’t always been an easy journey; Pope’s past encapsulates the old ‘struggling musician’ adage almost entirely. Has there been any point where he considered giving up? “There were definitely times early on where I thought about giving up,” he recalls. “I was playing in the subway, I was paying my rent in rolled change and I was living off, like, hot dogs. One day, when I was down in the subway playing and I hadn’t eaten all day and I didn’t have any money and I was freezing… It was the middle of winter, nobody came, I played a bunch of songs and it was just so cold down there and at some point, I just started crying. I couldn’t control it and I just started crying.” This would become a defining moment for Pope, one that would change his attitude to hard graft in the coming years. “The adversity I deal with in running a business and being an entrepreneur and trying to compete on a global level with the giant multi-national corporations…Even when that gets overwhelming, at least I’m not starving. I try to have perspective.”

 2018

So what does 2018 have in store for the captivating artist? “It’s been 10 years since my first solo album Daylight came out, so I’m probably going to do some ‘stuff’ around that,” he chuckles. “I say ‘stuff’ because I’m not going to tell you what that is yet.” That’s unfair, I think, but I can’t wait. 20 minutes goes by so quickly, doesn’t it, I say; it does, he replies in his cheerful, chippy tone.   

“Music is really keeping me off the streets—which is good for me and good for the streets”—Ron Pope

Ron Pope in the Hot Seat

 CN: If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?

RP: [Laughing] I really don’t have any other skills, so I have no idea—thank God I am a musician.

CN: Which animal would you be and why?

RP: My dog has the best life in the world. If I could be any animal, I would be my dog.

CN: If you were a musical instrument, what would you be?

RP: I would be an old telecaster [guitar], kind of beat up and rough around the edges but still plays pretty good.

CN: Top piece of advice for budding musicians?

RP: Don’t give up! If you’re meant to be a musician, you don’t need me to tell you not to give up—but don’t give up. When everybody else quits, keep going.

CN: Tell us a secret…

RP: I’m still wearing my pyjamas and it’s 1.20pm!

Further reading: Ron Pope Releases Seventh Studio Album

Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish to Perform on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

16-year-old musician Billie Eilish is to perform her single Bellyache on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, March 22.

Bellyache has been written from the perspective of a conflicted psychopath. The dark, gritty pop song—described by the BBC in 2017 as the “pop equivalent of a Tarantino movie”—features on her critically-acclaimed debut EP Don’t Smile at Me.

Currently on her sold out Where’s My Mind North American tour, Billie Eilish has proven to be a formidable talent since signing with Interscope Records. Following her performance at this year’s South by South West (SXSW) festival, Billie Eilish was listed in The New York Times’ Acts that Stood Out coverage. “This 16-year-old singer has a misty, sleepy voice that can take on a jazzy quaver—part Lana Del Rey, part Amy Winehouse. Onstage, there was absolutely nothing complaisant about her. As her band played folk-pop tinged with some hip-hop bitterness, Ms. Eilish strolled, slouched and crooned with precisely gauged insolence and nonchalance.”

Bellyache has also featured the latest Music Issue in The New York Times magazine’s 25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music is Going. The piece describes Billie Eilish’s music as “otherworldly”, saying that “our culture demands that young girls crave validation, but Eilish and her cast of characters feel no such thing. There are no apologies in her songs about the disappointments of love—only poetic quips about potential lovers tripping over knives or the subject of a song remorselessly burning the car of an ex-flame.”

Last month saw Ocean Eyes, another track from the highly applauded EP, officially certified with the RIAA GOLD in North America. The EP has, at the time of writing, surpassed more than 300,000,000 streams globally, proving the young star to be a musical phenomenon—and the artist shows no sign of stopping.

Catch Billie Eilish’s performance on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Thursday March 22 at 11:35pm/10:35pm CT.