interviews

An Interview With Short Stack

Posted on by halley in interviews | Leave a comment

short stack

Australian pop rock outfit Short Stack recently released their third studio album, “Homecoming.” We sat down for a virtual talk with the band.

First, let me tell you: I love the album. I was at the office when I first heard it and couldn’t physically restrain a little desk-chair-wiggle. In the ideal world, where would your listeners be listening to this album and what would their reaction be? Beach partying? Club dancing? Park picknicking? Road tripping? What’s the ideal scenario?

Thank you! I think it’s definitely got a house party kinda vibe. The songs are very fun and loud, the perfect soundtrack for throwing away all your inhibitions and doing something a bit crazy.

As a music reviewer, I often try to describe a band’s sound without comparison to any other musical groups. It’s hard. So I’m going to ask you to do it. How do you describe your music and its effect?

I don’t really know. We have so many influences from Black Sabbath to Biggie. We recorded this album in London with Chris Kimsey who has worked with the Rolling Stones, so that gritty, guitar driven UK sound is definitely something we had at the front of our minds.

OK, with that second question out of the way, who would you say your main musical influences are?

We grew up listening to 90s punk. So Nofx, Blink, Green Day, Rancid, that kind of thing, but now it really is everything. Especially when somebody is doing something exciting in the rock community in definitely drawn to that.

Everyone loves a good how-did-you-meet story. How did you guys come together? Can you talk a little bit about your two-year break, how you reunited and why your sound shifted from pop to rock?

We met on a train in highschool & shared the same taste in music. We went from swapping mix CDs to being like “hey let’s start a band!”. We broke up because we felt we had done everything we wanted to do with the band, and felt creatively there was nothing at that particular time we wanted to say. When a few years passed we got back together and our energy was renewed. We had so much new found passion and it was really cool we got a second chance.

Can you talk a little about your music-making process? Do the lyrics come first? The beat? Is it collaborative? Or do you all play pretty separate roles?

I usually come up with an idea and we work on it in Bradies studio. It’s very much a collaboration between the three of us. One of our favourite songs we wrote was written in the studio in London, so we do enjoy changing it up a bit.

What is the one question you wish interviewers asked you, and what is the answer to that question?

Haha I love surfing. I surf every day, so if we just chatted about that I’d be stoked. Or Batman, we’re huge comic fans, Batman is my religion haha.

Shadows And Light: An Interview With Apocalyptica

Posted on by Paul in Concerts, interviews | Leave a comment

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When they first formed in 1993, Finnish metallers Apocalyptica got their start playing cello arrangements of Metallica songs before eventually branching out into original compositions. They’ve just recently released their eighth studio album, Shadowmaker, featuring new vocalist Franky Perez, and while it’s highly unlikely that they’ll ever return to playing nothing but covers, one thing is for certain: they’re probably never going to record a version of The Lego Movie‘s “Everything Is Awesome.”

Sitting down with Perez and cellist Paavo Lötjönen a couple of hours before their show at The Phoenix, we discussed the difference in nature between the Finns and their new American bandmate, with Lötjönen stating, “We hate each other as much as before,” and that things on tour have been “relatively OK-ish.”

“Which is basically their Finnish way of saying they really like this,” added Perez. “I never get, ‘Hey man, we love you.’ They basically go, ‘You’re relatively OK-ish.’ That’s a fucking compliment.”

Lötjönen elaborated on the subject. “That was one of the things Franky got to learn when he came into the band. You know, American guy – everything’s awesome and even if things are not that good, everything is really good … For Finns, everything sounds overrated. If something is awesome, we hardly use that adjective.” However, despite any differences in disposition, the band seems to be enjoying the infusion of new blood. After collaborating with various guest vocalists on their albums over the years, they’ve paired up with Perez for the current album and tour and he seems like a good fit – an engaging frontman, but also a good match in terms of personality. And perhaps there’s even a bit of a cultural exchange going on, with Paavo adding that “It really is super, super, super happy. And maybe he’s teaching us some positiveness.” Perez, on the other hand, speculates that the Finns are teaching him to stay humble. “When you go there, nothing’s grandiose, nothing’s supersized … That’s a good way to live.”

Speaking of staying humble, Apocalyptica comes from relatively humble beginnings. As Lötjönen points out, the band never had any lofty goals when they started out and didn’t necessarily have any plans to branch out beyond Metallica covers. “Basically, we started off because we had a joy of music and we wanted to play something fun. We never had a master plan. Even the first album, we didn’t have even the plan to make an album. Just a bunch of guys playing together and having fun and enjoying the music … We were expecting to sell maybe 1000 copies and it sold almost 2 million copies. It just happened. After that, we got to feeling that it might be interesting, a possibility to create music. Album by album, it’s like step by step.”

While they come from different backgrounds, both culturally and in terms of musical upbringing, Perez and Lötjönen each feel that they were always meant to play music. “Music has always been a part of my life.” says Lötjönen. I started to play cello at age six. Before that, my parents are professional musicians. I’ve always lived inside the music, from classical to rock and pop. It’s part of me from the start. I’m swimming in the music.”

Perez agrees. “Same thing for me – I never had a choice, it was something I was born with. But I can honestly say everyone in this band is the same way; if you asked that question to each one of us, they would tell you the same thing – they didn’t have a choice. Kind of born with it. And I think I’d be miserable doing anything else. I don’t think I could do anything else, and I’ve tried. Not very good at it.”

TO Jazz Preview: Interview with Eric Krasno of Soulive

Posted on by Mark in Concerts, interviews, Toronto Jazz Festival | Leave a comment

Toronto – Today marks the start of the Toronto Jazz Festival. For the next ten days, the city will be teeming with fantastic musicians playing venues large and small. You can check out some of the highlights of the line-up here.

In anticipation of the festival, I had a chance to chat with the guitarist of soul/jazz/funk outfit Soulive, Eric Krasno. We talked about their latest album, Rubber Soulive, and also dove into how new technologies like do-it-yourself studios, grassroots record labels, and the internets are changing the the face of music.

Mark: Soulive has been doing jazz, soul and funk for over a decade. This latest album, Rubber Soulive, is a funkified Beatles tribute.

Eric: It’s kind of a take on the Rubber Soul album that they did. In London [white guys playing soul music was called rubber soul]. We ended up calling it Rubber Soulive based on the Beatles album, but ended up taking other Beatles tunes as well.

MJ: What was the motivation behind this album?

EK: We had talked about doing a covers album. At first we were talking about doing a British Invasion thing, where it was different British groups, this was right around when they did the re-master of the Beatles stuff. Originally it was going to be an EP. The first session we just sat and listened to a bunch of tunes and talked about which ones would translate best into our instrumentation and our style, and then we just recorded them live in the studio pretty quickly and organically.

MJ: Over the last decade, you’ve worked with a number of different record labels. You were involved in Velour, a couple of years with Blue Note, and a brief stint with Stax. Now you’ve gone your own route with Royal Family. I’m curious about how the record label has influenced your sound and how you make music over the years.

EK: We’ve been pretty fortunate that labels didn’t really tell us what to do. The difference really is when you have a big budget. As we decided to do it on our own, we had to be a little bit more aware of what we’re spending. We have our own studios now, so we’re able to record a lot easier, but we’ve been fortunate in that we could pretty much record and hand in what we wanted to put out and they’d put it out. It’s a lot different if you’re a pop singer on a major label where you don’t have a lot of influence over what you do.

MJ: So what was the prime motivation then to break out with the Royal Family?

EK: We had [wanted to enter into a subsidiary deal with labels, but it didn’t pan out so we started our own]. Now we’re doing all of our other projects as well. We can put out live recordings every night. We actually offer our recording of our shows live at the show that night, so you can leave with a copy of the show that was just played.

Things like that we weren’t allowed to do on major labels: being able to put out as much music as we want, and put stuff out for free on the internet. For the number of albums we were selling, it made more sense to do it ourselves.

MJ: Things are moving very quickly in the music industry with technology and the movement online. It sounds like with the Royal Family you’ve got a little more freedom to embrace the change.

EK: Absolutely, that’s exactly what we’re trying to do.

MJ: How has the Soulive sound changed over the last decade?

EK: It has evolved in that we’ve got better as a group, as far as communicating and improvising, and [we’ve also] allowed other influences to seep in. It started out just organ, guitar, and drums, and now … our palette has expanded.

MJ: From a guitar point of view, what are some of your influences? I don’t want to load this question, but there are certainly some people that pop in my mind when I listen to you.

EK: I was a huge Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page fan; a big rock & roll fan as a kid. Stevie Ray Vaughan was a good one, and then later on I found Grant Green and Wes Montgomery. It’s a combination of all those things really.

MJ: I’m glad you said Grant Green, because that’s definitely what I had in my mind when I was listening to Rubber.

You seem to be doing a lot of studio work and live touring. Do you like the mix?

EK: I kind of need the mix. I’ve also produced a lot of records over the last ten years; everything from hip-hop, to pop, to African music. It’s nice because I can try all sorts of different things when I’m in the studio. But then after a while, I like to get out and play, and then when I’m out on the road, I get sick of the road too, so I definitely dig the balance.

MJ: So if you were heading to a deserted island and you had to pick one Beatles album, which one would you have to take?

EK: For me it’s Abbey Road, I have to say.

MJ: Nice.

Soulive plays this Monday (June 27th) at the Horseshoe Tavern at 9:30 and 11:30.

Soulive – Drive My Car – Rubber Soulive by royalfamily

Interview: Zaza, May 8 2010, European Tour with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Estragon, Bologna, Italy

Posted on by Allison in Concerts, Everything, interviews, Music | 9 Comments

 

First of all, I apologize for taking so long to post this. Zaza, the three piece Brooklyn-based band (that we have referenced in our Best-of 2009 and end-of-year podcast, review of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart North American Tour) has been gracious enough to speak with our European friend, Davide prior to their sound check in Bologna before opening for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club on May 8 at the Estragon.

It has been a very busy spring for Zaza. They have already completed their first European tour after opening for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and we can expect a full length LP from them in 2010, which was on my wishlist from 2009. So well done and godspeed!

Join us as Davide embarks on a world of conversation with Zaza, covering the live versus recorded debate, how they signed with Kanine, their history with the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and the organic process that they have enjoyed since it all started.

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