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dimanche 23 février 2014

Album de la Semaine : Eagulls - Eagulls



Interview de Eagulls, par Jayson Green de Pitchfork

The Leeds punk band Eagulls posted an open letter on their blog last year. Currently, it is a closed letter. In the spot where it once lived, you will now find yourself instead contemplatinga picture of a hairy ass, dick bent up under it, crudely rendered eyeballs scrawled in marker across the cheeks.  
What did the note say? Essentially the same thing the picture does. It was dashed off, by hand, in a fit of gleeful adolescent derision after the band's first exposure to the South by Southwest touring circuit. Among the things it called out: “all beach bands sucking each others' dicks and rubbing the press' clit”; bands that employed “disgusting Afrobeat sounds”; bands that get attention from “music industry heads” because “you are girls or have girls in your band.” It was a fine example of what rock critic Richard Meltzer once called punk rock’s “second-person hostility, the many stations of I-dislike-you.” It was, in other words, really fucking obnoxious and stupid, and proved an effective introduction.
Effective, but not entirely accurate. “That upside-down ass sums up how much of a joke [the note] was,” Eagulls lead singer George Mitchell says. “People were saying we were trying to act hard or to be punk, which wasn’t the point at all. We wrote it in five minutes, laughing our heads off.” The quintet's sound is a mix of the glowering, gob-hocking punk exterior they soaked up from their local hardcore scene along with more inclusive melodic impulses, which poke through on their upcoming self-titled full-length, due out March 4 via Partisan
Mitchell is friendly and talkative on the phone, calling from the freezing apartment he shares with two bandmates (“I can see this conversation coming out of my mouth,” the 25-year-old tells me). Peppered with wry asides, our chat touched on his punk apprenticeship, which included lurking at all-ages shows, bonding with avuncular figures at skate parks, and parent-sanctioned band practices, and Eagulls' powerful new album. And that note. 
Pitchfork: When did you start playing music?  
George Mitchell: I was 13 when I said to my mum, “I want a guitar.” She was like, “You can’t have one, they’re too expensive,” and I was like, “I’ll get an acoustic one, they’re only 20 or 30 quid." So I saved up and got one, and when I got home, I was dead pissed off because I couldn’t make it sound angry or loud like all the music I was listening to: Sex Pistols, the Clash, Stiff Little Fingers. The only chord I could do was an E, and it was so happy sounding. Then I got an electric guitar for Christmas and it was still the same. I couldn’t work out how to make it as angry or menacing as I wanted back then.
Pitchfork: What was one of the first live punk shows you remember seeing?
GM: When I was like 15 I went to see NOFX. That was the first time I crowd surfed. There were just tall skinheads there boosting people up. I remember that night as well because I met this old bloke that used to skateboard, and he took me under his wing. He used to write music on a four-track and bring it up to the skate park and show me. He was working in a factory making airplane engines. Last time I saw him he said he quit skating because his knee hurt too much, so I don’t know what he does now. Old School Jeff, he was called.
Pitchfork: What was the hardest song for you to write from the new album? 
GM: “Opaque”. That’s the simplest song, really repetitive. It just so happened that when we wrote the music it was really poppy sounding, but I didn’t want to just release a summer-hit-like song, I wanted to do something that’s more "us." 
At the time, some guy at work ended up getting handcuffed and walked out. I was like, “What the fuck’s going on there?” It turned out he’d been getting with girls and sexually abusing them at work. Like most sexual abuse cases, he got away with it. Everyone around knows who he is and we sort of stay away from him. It’s really disgusting how he treats women. But the song was sort of about that. So it’s like a light-sounding song but, when you look into it, it’s not so light.
Pitchfork: How do these things turn into songs? Are you always taking notes? 
GM: I carry a notebook. I’ve always just sat and wrote stupid stuff constantly since I was little. Some of the songs turn out from little bits of poetry I write. Usually we’ll write something in the practice space, and from that, I’ll get the gist of the direction the song is going to go, and then I’ll go back home and lock myself away from everyone and write.
Eagulls, left to right: Henry Ruddell, George Mitchell, Tom Kelly, Mark "Goldy" Goldsworthy, Liam Matthews
Pitchfork: There are lines from the song “Amber Veins” that I wrote out because I really appreciated the language: “Possessions pawned/ Prickles of thorns/ Plucked-open pains/ False and forsworn/ Forgetting all.” 
GM: That song is actually about heroin and heroin users. Some heroin dealers moved in next door to my mum's old house. It was a normal street, and then you’d see people bringing washing machines down the road at 11 p.m. and then stumbling out. It's about watching people decay. I don’t really give two shits about them because they were disgusting people.
Pitchfork: Do you read poetry?
GM: I wouldn’t say I read proper poetry. I appreciate more outsider art than proper educated people writing poetry. It’s just more real. You’ve not been trained to do it. It’s just what you do. That’s how I see what I do. I’ve never been trained to write but I've always done it. I mean, I’m educated, but not very well.

Pitchfork: So the trick is to not get too educated.
GM: I’d say so. A lot of bands try to be bad on purpose. They try to make themselves something that they’re not.
Pitchfork: I have to ask about the blog post you guys put up and took down. 
GM: A lot of people took that so out of context. People thought it was a publicity-stunt, which I find hilarious because we had nothing to publicize at the time. It gave me a big insight into how music journalism works, to be honest. Before the letter was written, there wasn’t that much to say about us. Within minutes of putting that up, every single piece of music we put out after it links to this silly thing. If we hadn’t written that, what would people write about?

Pitchfork: Whether or not it was meant to be a publicity stunt, it certainly served that exact purpose.
GM: Yeah, that’s what bothers me so much. It spawns all these strange things that people think. If you sat in my room and looked at all my sketchbooks you would understand that I write something stupid every day. Pages upon pages of weird things. Just like other things on the blog, I just put it up. I don’t really think sometimes. We found this weird sex letter on the floor once and posted it, and no one has ever mentioned that. That’s actually a lot worse. One of my friends texted me about it and was like, “George, did you write that?”

Pitchfork: In the post you took down, you mentioned something about having girls in your band. What did you mean by that?
GM: At the time we were playing a few gigs with all these horrible bands. We just really didn’t like them and how they were acting like real rockstars. But the part that was really upsetting was where people pinpointed us as being sexist. That was depressing. I didn’t mean it to be that you have to have a girl in your band to be cool nowadays. It was more towards certain publications who’d rather write about a band because it’s got a woman in it. Like, “Oh, look at this woman playing the guitar,” that sort of condescending shit. But yeah, that note lasted five minutes in my life and so much longer in other people’s lives.

Line Up :
Mark 'Goldy' Goldsworthy
Henry Ruddel
Liam Matthews
Tom Kelly
George Mitchell
Label :
Partisan Records
Tracklist :
01 – Nerve Endings
02 – Hollow Visions
03 – Yellow Eyes
04 – Tough Luck
05 – Amber Veins
06 – Possessed
07 – Footsteps
08 – Fester Blister
09 – Opaque
10 – Soulless Youth

dimanche 16 février 2014

Album de la Semaine : Thought Forms - Thought Forms

Thought Forms

Thought Forms (Réédition 2013)

Interview de Thought Forms, par M3 Event

Bristol based effects pedal enthusiasts Thought Forms combine a love of feedback, My Bloody Valentine and Shamanic improvisation to create a truly overwhelming sonic experience that is not to be missed. M3 had a chat with guitarist Charlie Romijn about their free live EP, the smell of vinyl & the band’s recent US tour with Portishead…
M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
Charlie – I’m Charlie Romijn. I play guitar in Thought Forms.
I have a solo project called Silver Stairs of Ketchikan and a blog / DIY label called Lava Thief.
I like making stuff.

What inspired you to start Thought Forms? What are your own musical backgrounds?
We got together in May 2004 – a friend of mine from school, Emily Mcmullen, was jamming with this guy called Deej Dhariwal who she’d found on a local music forum (he’d just come home after finishing university and was looking for a band) and she asked me to come along.
There was a spark there instantly and we had a lot of fun making a lot of noise that afternoon…
We became Thought Forms.

Emily decided to leave the band in 2006 so we asked Guy Metcalfe to join us on drums; he was 13 at the time, we’d seen him playing in his band Caldera (a kind of post rock / metal band) when they supported us at a local show and he was the first person who came to mind when we lost Emily!
Before I joined Thought Forms, I had a band called Poor Eric – we played kind of garage punk stuff.
Deej is a bit older and did a bunch of stuff when he was at uni – a lot of soundtracks for the films he was making and he was also in a band with Mel from Ashtray Navigations.

How did you come to be involved with Invada records?
MV/EE asked us to support them at The Cube in Bristol when they were over on tour in 2006 – Fat Paul (co-owner of Invada along with Geoff Barrow) was DJing that night.

He loved our set and came to introduce himself (life hasn’t been the same since…) and asked us if we’d be up for doing a record with Invada.
We went over to the Geoff’s studio to seal the deal a couple of weeks later and have been part of the Invada family ever since!
You recently finished an American tour with Portishead, how did that go?
It was absolutely amazing!
We got to travel all around the US and Canada, meeting wonderful people, playing in these ridiculously huge venues with one of our favourite bands in the world and if all of that wasn’t enough, we had a really great response from their audiences too. We had such a good time, we’re very lucky.

Many people have claimed that there is no longer any money in record sales, and that touring is the most efficient way to earn an income as a band. How much truth do you think there is in this sentiment?
If you’re a “big” band then there’s probably a lot of truth in it.
At our level though, not so much – touring is expensive and sure, you can break even (some of the time) and if you’re lucky maybe even make a little on top, which goes straight back into the band fund for next time.

Recently, there seem to be a large number of bands offering their releases for free via sites like Bandcamp. What do you think of this distribution method, do you think it is a realistic solution to the problem of illegal downloading?
I think it’s great, you can give things away for free if you want to, which is cool – we’ve put a few live sets up for people to download that way and it’s nice to be able to share those little extra things that you wouldn’t necessarily want to make a release out of but which you think people might enjoy.

I don’t think it is a solution to illegal downloading but it is kind of… the other side of the coin.
People seem more than happy to pay for music on sites like Bandcamp as well as making the most of the free downloads – in fact, quite often people have paid MORE than the minimum amount for something, which shows that there are plenty of people out there who value music and want to support the artists.

What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
Vinyl is my favourite, it just feels nicer somehow to put a record on than a CD.
It feels more long-lasting too, you’re not going to lose an LP in your car or get the cases all mixed up! Plus they smell good. I like tapes a lot too.

Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
To an extent.
I also think that people don’t really take as many chances on new music anymore.
It used to be that you’d go and buy an album perhaps on the basis of one song you’d heard or on a recommendation or just because you liked the cover and you’d listen to it over and over again and get to know it – and sometimes there would be records or songs which you didn’t really like at first that end up being your favourites.
These days, most people can just check out a band online and if they don’t like it within 30 seconds, the music probably won’t get a second chance.

What is your take on the current SOPA/ACTA controversy?
I haven’t really been following it… I don’t think it would stop piracy anyway.

What would you say are the main challenges facing an up-and-coming musician/band in today’s cultural climate?
Well one thing is that in most cases, you can’t really make a living from being in a band, so you have to have another way to make money to live on… but of course, it’s not always easy to find a job that allows you to go away on tour, recording or even just for one off gigs when you feel like it!
It can be tricky to juggle at times.

Finally, what does the future hold for Thought Forms?
We’re finishing off our new album right now, that’s coming out on Invada in July.
We’ve also got a tape coming out on LF Records and some shows lined up in Europe.

Line Up :
Charlie Romijn 
Deej Dhariwal
Guy Metcalfe

Label :

Invada Records

Playlist :


dimanche 2 février 2014

Album de la Semaine : Pontiak - Innocence



Interview de Pontiak, par The Negative Trip

Jennings Carney photo by Lino Brunetti

Virginia brothers Jennings, Van, and Lain Carney comprise one of the best bands around. If you haven’t checked out Pontiak, do so immediately. In the last five years or so they have released five albums full of interesting, intelligent, and inspiring music on Chicago’s Thrill Jockey label. Sun on Sun, Maker, and Living are mandatory listening if you have even a passing interest in the rock n’ roll. They are the epitome of the power trio, creating a wall of great textures and tones using bass, guitar, drums, and the brain-melding primal connection that only brothers possess. My pets like them, my little boy loves them, and my wife blushes when they visit. Check them out.

1 - We talked about some new recordings you guys have done, including 
single track long-song EP. Can you talk some about that?

JIC -We have been in the studio for several months now working on a 
bunch of stuff. We just finished an EP that will be out later this 
spring/early summer and an LP which will be ready for a fall release. 
Can't say too much about the EP just yet though! But I am very excited 
about both the EP and the LP.

2 - I think it is cool that USX and Pontiak have a lot of parallels. 

For example, we both did a song called "Suzerain". We are both from 
Appalachia, both from small towns/rural places. Both of our bands have 
managed to spread our music around while still keeping our roots in 
solid ground. And as I mentioned before, we both just recorded a 
single track album. The cultural similarities are interesting but the 
ideas are harder to explain. Some of them might come from being 
exposed to the same literature, music, or modern events. But I feel 
like ideas, particularly among musicians, seem to take root on a 
subconscious level and can do so simultaneously among bands and 
musicians of the same era. I have noticed this many times in the past 
with other bands we know. What do you think about this? Have you ever 
noticed parallels with other bands?

JIC - Yeah. Regarding "Suzerain", that's pretty awesome. I really 
love that song, and the whole album "Sea Voids". Secondly, I would 
agree with you about the connection of the two bands. It's a very 
interesting concept to me and one that I see often. There are these 
ideas that pop up among groups for no apparent reason. A general 
zeitgeist among peers. It happens a lot with any kind of movement. One 
could put that to a subconscious information exchange or we could have 
our higher antennae tuned-in. I am not sure. It's like the theory of 
entanglement. That an idea/information is exchanged simultaneously 
among a system. But I also think that staying connected to the place 
where I grew up, and that I identify myself with the Blue Ridge 
Mountains must put me into a mindset that is sympathetic to your 
similar background. I could probably go on about this for a long time.

3 - You guys have toured extensively in both Europe and North America. 
Can you discuss (from a touring musicians perspective) some of the 
contrasts you see between these two places?

JIC - Touring the N. America is completely different, obviously, than 
Europe, but the differences are in the style or the shape of the tour. 
For me, the US and Canada lacks good, wholesome food on the road. You 
can't just stop at a gas station and get some non-processed good food. 
It's processed so much that it won't break down, it's fast food, it's 
disgusting. That said, Europe has its fair share of bad food, but you 
can find simple, fresh food readily available. Food aside, the culture 
of the concert goer is much different too. In the US particularly, 
there is so much competition for listeners' ears that it's a buyers' 
market. We have had our fair share of good and bad shows and the 
extremes of both. But I feel like in Europe, people go out to shows 
because its what they do for art and culture. People go to shows in 
the US because they want to have an experience/entertainment. Both are 
valid. And I am making huge generalizations. But I spend a lot of time 
behind the merch desk at shows, and I talk to a lot of people. My 
experience is that in the US, the bands have to prove themselves. I 
guess if an American band can make it to Europe, then they don't need 
that rite of passage as much. Who knows. I love to tour in Europe 
though. It is great to be able to see a cathedral or a castle for a 
few hours and then head to sound check and then have a nice dinner 
after the show! But at the same time, if we play New York, for 
instance, we can check out an exhibit at MoMA and then head down to 
Brooklyn for a show. But the exotic feeling of Europe holds a special 
place for me because it still feels new.

(The brothers Pontiak next to their mobile home.)

4 - We talked some about some of the gear you tried out overseas, 
particilarly the Verellen amps. Can you sort of retell that story 
about the amp you tried out? I have yet to play one of his amps, but I 
have heard they are amazing.

Yeah. I love the Verellen bass amp - the Meatsmoke. Before one of our 
tours I had spoken to Ben Verellen (maker and owner) about his amps 
and what I was looking for in an amp. I currently use an Ampeg SVT 
Classic with an 8x10 cab. I had been thinking for awhile about looking 
for a handmade amp that was point to point. I found out that even the 
first SVTs had boards in them so that got me thinking about the 
Meatsmoke. We use Nomads of Prague for our backline in Europe and 
Tschepitz, the owner told me when we got to Prague before the tour 
started that I could take the Meatsmoke out on the road to test it and 
that I could send back any amp I didn't use with our driver who was 
switching out after the third show. So the first three shows I used it 
in Krakow, Warsaw and Berlin. I have to say that I was completely 
blown away with the tone and the power of the amp. I usually have an 
overdrive pedal from Fulltone which is on most of the show with an 
SVT. I didn't need it for the Meatsmoke. It has it's own overdrive 
channel. In fact, during our London show at the Old Blue Last, we were 
playing to a packed house and in the middle of the second song, the DI 
box cut my stage signal so there was still power to the mains, but I 
lost my stage volume. So I took out the DI, and turned the amp all the 
way up, All The Way. 300 watts. It was incredible. I spoke with a few 
people that night after the show and no one noticed at all. That's 
power! Talk about sustain!

An interesting side note. I forgot to give our first driver one of 
the bass amps to take back to Prague from Berlin. Earlier while we 
were driving to the Berlin show from Warsaw he was talking about how 
in Poland and Czech it's really dangerous to drive at night because of 
wild boars running across the road. Anyway, after we said our goodbyes 
in Berlin he left and 30km outside of Prague a boar ran across the 
road. He was going about 130km/75mph and flipped his car totaling it. 
If he had had that amp in the car (it was a Mazda hatchback) he 
probably would have died from having a 80 lbs SVT head flying around 
in the car with him. That was a close one. And I am glad I forgot to 
give the amp to him!

5 - Final thoughts? Feel free to talk about what Pontiak is doing now, 
or in the near future.

JIC - Well, we are planning on doing SXSW this year and the Austin 
Psych Fest in April. I am excited about both. It will be our first 
time for both though we have played Austin several times. We are 
working on putting some shows together around the festivals, and we'll 
be playing those various shows with our friends White Hills and 
Cloudland Canyon. We have some European shows planned as well for next 
fall too and hopefully some festival dates in Europe and the US this 
summer. Finally, we are beginning work on the full length and that 
will be released in September. It'll be killer.
Thanks for taking the time and interest too! I love getting a chance 
to play with USX and hangout. It is always a great time. I hope to see 
y'all soon!

Line Up :
Jennings Carney
Van Carney
Lain Carney

Label :
Thrill Jockey

Tracklist :
01 – Innocence
02 – Lack Lustre Rush
03 – Ghosts
04 – It’s The Greatest
05 – Noble Heads
06 – Wildfires
07 – Surrounded By Diamonds
08 – Beings Of The Rarest
09 – Shining
10 – Darkness Is Coming
11 – We’ve Got It Wrong