Some may call Jazz, Blues, and Ragtime dying arts, but Webster Groves, Missouri is determined to prove the heart and soul of a truly American made musical form pulses with life at the 12th annual Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival on September 15, 2012. Started in 2001, the event doesn’t just draw in people from the surrounding St. Louis Metro area, but is a draw to those throughout the region—from at least as far away as Ohio. The Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival was held on two stages. The Allen stage was dedicated to the Blues and the Gore stage was for Jazz.
Ragtime from the St. Louis Ragtimers warped the audience back to the time of Joplin and Louis Armstrong. The St. Louis Ragtimers played together for 50 years, bringing Dixieland Jazz and Ragtime to life with their own flavor to entice the ear. With Trebor Tichenor on the keyboard, Al Striker as vocals and playing the banjo, Don Franz on the Tuba and Bill Mason on the trumpet, there can be no question why they were once a Gaslight Square famed act and a treasure of the Gateway city. Constantly playing at festival and concerts around the world, they prove the art form’s alive and kicking.
Blues and Jazz continued next on the two stages as a third kind of jazz, a new jazz called PoJazz –a fusion of poetry and spiritual jazz played in the MCCaughey & Burn Fine Arts. Raven Wolf, the one man musical half of PoJazz makes his Jazz by mixing Native American and other genres of jazz. As Raven Wolf played with the poets Dwight Bitikofer, Jennifer Fandel and Father Gerard, the Allen Stage was the taken over by the Dave Black Quartet with their slow smooth relaxing Jazz and Blues. The Dave Black Quartet, which was made up of five musicians rather than four, fused elements of jazz, funk, blues, rock and the world beat. Meanwhile, Boss Hall’s band let loose the soul of the event on the Gore stage. Boss Hall’s band is made up of guitarist Tom Hall, vocalist and flutist Margaret Bianchetta, dobro player Bob Breidenbach, bassist Vince Corkery and violinist Kevin Buckley.
After the Dave Black Quartet and Boss Hall band finished their sets, the stages were the homes to Jim Stevens and his band and the legend David Dee and his band. Jim Stevens started the music fire on the Allen Stage with a saxophone blazed with Blues, Soul, and the groove of Funk. Where Jim Stevens brought the fire of Jazz and Blues, David Dee heaped on the fuel until it was a bonfire on the Gore stage. Dee sung what is called the St. Louis Women’s anthem of “Gone Fishing.” He continued on to many other songs that had the audience dancing in the aisles. Dee writes and performs songs for “the female—for the woman.”
Jim Stevens and David Dee surrendered their stages to the Webster Groves High School Band and the Webster University Jazz Ensemble, who in turn gave over the stages to the day’s headliners Rich McDonough & Rough Groves with Anita Rosamond on the Allen stage and Marsha Evans & The Coalition with Roland Johnson on the Gore stage.
Rich McDonough opened for Albert King, Junior Wells and Robert Cray among others. He once shared the stage with the late Johnnie Johnson at the Sheldon Concert Hall. He played at the Grand Emporium in Kansas City and the Blues Route Festival in Holland. Rich’s music brought the soul of Blues to the pinnacle as the band played and he alternated between vocals and harmonica.
Marsha Evans earned the title as “The River City Show Stopper.” She headlined the Big Muddy Blues & Heritage Festival. She also performed with Johnnie Johnson. She was joined on the Gore Stage by Roland Johnson, who’s named the “Best St. Louis R&B artist” by the Riverfront Times. Her music drew the people to dance in front of the stage and in the aisles, on the sidewalks and on the street. Her voice filled with the love, the passion and the power of someone like Aretha Franklin, whom she recently opened for. Her title is well earned.
When Roland Johnson took over the stage and later she joined him, you could feel the artistic love the two performers shared all the way to the end of the packed two blocks. Their act brought a crescendo to another successful Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival.
Follow David Lucas on Twitter @owlkenpowriter.
Music is the soul of any culture. The Latin American soul sung in Kiener Plaza September 7, 8 and 9, 2012. The Hispanic community of the Greater St. Louis metro area celebrated its diversity and richness through food, crafts, and music. People danced in front of the stage, with the Gateway Arch in the background, as musicians played Latin Pop, Salsa, Rock, and much more.
Music reflects the culture from which it came. While the lyrics were in Spanish, it was clear the origins were diverse. The cultures of North, Central, and South America called the people to dance floor. Each culture gave the audience something different. It didn’t matter if you spoke Spanish or not, the emotions of the songs and various types of beats made you dance. Even the vendors and onlookers had to toe tap and dance.
Latino music coming out of the United States echoes with memories of the countries from Latin America. It resonates with triumph and heartache of trying to fit into an alien culture. The struggles of growing up and living in modern America with the crime and discrimination play across the songs. It recalls the dangers of illegal immigration and the blind groping of the legalization process to stay in the new home. The music cries the loneliness of leaving wives and children and all they have known. In all of the music, there is the hope for the future.
The Festival gave St. Louis community a taste of what the Hispanic culture brings to the Midwest. Like all good appetizers, the music at the Hispanic Festival leaves you wanting more.
Follow David Lucas on Twitter @owlkenpowriter.
Phoenix Always Rises: I have a hard time classifying music (as evidenced by my initial email to you). How do you define Mangadrive? I think it would be hard to put you into one genre, since your music encompasses so many different sounds.
Mangadrive: If I could get away with just calling it “Energy Music” and leaving it at that, I would. People expect a relevant name and on the business end of things we have to label it something to fit in catalogs. With healthy doses of Psytrance and Techno in the music, I’ve just been calling it Psytek. I’m not going to fight about it though. Even that doesn’t describe absolutely every song or remix I’ve released.
Phoenix Always Rises: You have a new album coming out soon called Mechafetish. What has the recording process been like for this album?
Mangadrive: During the writing and mixing I’ve had Gundam , Evangelion or something similar on a screen behind me playing and muted out. Now and then I turn around and if it’s working with the screen, and it’s working for my idea of pace , then it’s working for the album. That should help explain the energy and mood I’m gunning for on the tracks. These songs break and bend and sometimes the action might cease to build into something else completely. It’s not all dark, angry and doom and gloom either. It’s just a different type of musical expression this time and I hope people enjoy it.
Phoenix Always Rises: What were some of your inspirations for this album?
Mangadrive: Early Juno Reactor, Early Astral Projection and any music that actually tells stories in the songs. I’m not really shooting for these awesome set full of club bangers that fits neatly into DJ sets. I want you to feel like you are in mech suit for an hour, but the environment will change. I tried to put some of the songs in a desert, a jungle or floating out in space, because my favorite albums usually do that. I’m usually being motivated and getting all these awesome mental pictures, not sitting in a passively strict dress code club eating pharmaceutical paste.
Phoenix Always Rises: Do you have a release date for it yet?
Mangadrive: November 2012 if all goes well. I’m going to do a Kickstarter (or one of these similar fundraising sites) in October-ish so people can get some mechalion T-shirts , stickers and other fun stuff with their album if they so wish and it will help me pay for all the fantastic art, mastering and other essential album release fees.
Phoenix Always Rises: You also have another project called Gheists. How would you say this project differs from Mangadrive?
Mangadrive: Mangadrive is like watching an anime full of plot twists and ridiculously large weapons. Gheists is more like being fed ruffies and locked in a closet with Slenderman.
Phoenix Always Rises: What artists influence you?
Mangadrive: Recently? ∆AIMON, C/∆/T, Access to Arasaka, Mind.In.A.Box, Modulate, Memmaker, Swarms, Protest the Hero, Astrix, Prometheus, Xenomorph and more..
All-Time? Prodigy, Juno Reactor, Astral Projection, Anthrax, Cubanate, The Shizit, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Deftones, GZA/Genius, Underworld, cut.rate.box and more..
This is one of those “this could be 8 more pages” long type things. I’d have to give credit to way more than would really fit. So take all of this with a huge grain of salt.
Phoenix Always Rises: One of my favorite songs of yours is your remix of Anglespit’s “Grind”. I’m a huge fan of remixes in general because I always find it interesting to hear an artist give their take on a song. Who would be your “dream artist” to remix and why?
Mangadrive: Juno Reactor. I’ve remixed and worked with a few people that still blow my mind as to even meeting them in the first place, but I think doing a remix for them would be kinda like that guy in the park shooting basketball getting to shoot hoops with Lebron to me. Their music is beyond special to me.
Phoenix Always Rises: Another remix I enjoy is Cyanotic’s remix of your song “Like Lambs to Slaughter” (featured on Cyanotic’s “Gears Gone Wild: Spring Break Edition). How did they come to remix that song?
Mangadrive: Sean was assembling material for the album and I ended up sending him a bunch of stuff, but he was intent on remixing stuff at the time. We wanted to do a collab but neither one of us had that kind of time then. He laid down that awesome remix and we both agreed it was cool enough to use for GGW. Another release I was honored to be a part of somehow.
Phoenix Always Rises: I think a live Mangadrive would be a really cool experience. Do you have plans of touring or doing any live shows in the near future?
Mangadrive: Nope. I like playing around on the computer and making beats. That’s what I do. If someone wants to mail me a blank check, a laptop, life sized mecha replicas (would prefer fully functional), a screen to project Gundam on, and wants to line up some shows? I’m all about that level of stupid and stupid it would be.
Phoenix Always Rises: At several points in the song Reborn.And.Rewired there is a sample that says “Nobody fuckin’ changes. Nobody is reborn. It’s all bullshit. It’s all fuckin’ lies!” That sounds so familiar, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out where it’s from. What is it from?
Mangadrive: Clue: “I want to play a game”.
Phoenix Always Rises: Where would you like to see Mangadrive in 5 years?
Mangadrive: In more video games and even movies. I’m not really worried about being a “rock star” but putting sound to imagery is what I’ve always been fascinated with. Most of the music that has really inspired me has come from games, game soundtracks or movie soundtracks… even movie soundtracks based on games (MORTAL KOMBAT!)
Phoenix Always Rises: What advice would you offer to aspiring musicians?
Mangadrive: Don’t take this shit so seriously. It’s meant to be fun and even inspiring. If you want to be all professional and run a business then go to a tech school or open up a Subway. I’m tired of credibility whores running around masquerading as creative people. I want to hear music. I don’t wanna your bullshit over the top of your music. I’d like to think that a lot of people agree with this, but that’s going to be subject to taste. Some people like deep artistic movements with a lot of purpose and reason that goes completely outside of the music. If that’s your angle, then I suggest you lay in front of bulldozers. Not because they might be bulldozing important buildings or trees, but because seriously.. I don’t want to hear your bullshit over the top of your music. Make me care about your songs, not your blog or obsessive need to remind me of everything that sucks about industrial music on Facebook.
Phoenix Always Rises: What advice would you offer to someone who has an interest in making electronic music but has no idea of where to even start?
Mangadrive: Buy a synth. A real one with knobs and stuff you can tweak and just play the shit out of it. I think that’s a better foundation than learning through a computer because it gives a better interactive input and gets you thinking more about the musical process. I’m not a hardware snob by any means, but I feel like actually playing synths before I had these insanely good sounding plugins on a computer gave my music a little something something extra. I won’t say an advantage and I’m not saying my music is awesome.. just suggesting that a human needs to input the music into the computer and let it process the information. If the computer is doing all the work, then your music is a bit automated and people will recognize that and they will hear the computer more than they hear you. Took me a while to realize that, but I’m starting to get it.
Phoenix Always Rises: I see you post a lot about games on Facebook. This may be a bit of a dumb question, but is it safe to say that video games are a big influence on your sound? If so, what game or games would you say are your biggest influence?
Mangadrive: Video game soundtracks are kind of in a weird place musically, but I’m definitely one of those people that will listen to them as they would “normal” music and jam out just the same. Sometimes even more so. People like Akira Yamaoka, Nobuo Uematsu, and Kenichiro Fukui just to name a few are a huge part of my interest in doing music that sounds very “video game”. I like my electronic music to sound electronic, and while other acts really embrace the more organic sounds I’m happier with a balance of the two more recently. I’ve done tracks like “Credits” from Artifice and even remixed Mega Man as a direct homage to this kind of thing. As far as a game soundtrack being my biggest influence.. I’d have to say that Einhander was a very special game to me. Not only was the game responsible for my still and always current addiction to “shmups”, the soundtrack was just this insane mix of angry German sounding techno that was a bit away from most of the stuff being heard in games at the time as original programming, especially in a Square game who at the time were releasing a lot of JRPGS full of really symphonic arrangements. More recently you have the soundtracks to Mushihimesama Futuri that directly influenced “Pink Bullet Curtain”. So yes, video games are incredibly important to this project in multiple ways. I even “play test” a lot of tracks with video games going to try to make sure the flow and energy is right. Not so much on Mechafetish, because it’s meant to be something a tad different, but there will probably never be a mangadrive album without at least one track that is about shooting everything on the screen.
Phoenix Always Rises: I’m not much of a gamer (aside from hidden object, puzzle games and the old school Ultima games, before they went online), what game would you say that even non gamers should try at least once?
Mangadrive: It’s sad but out of all these questions, this actually took quite a while to answer, and I’m still not so sure this is the right answer for a lot of reasons. I’m going to go with Civilization though. Mainly because you can play this game from multiple perspectives. It’s based on actual real world history and facts, and it’s just plain interesting to see what would happen if Genghis Khan had lived long enough to get nuclear weapons and kill everyone. I’ve played this series since the early 90′s when it came out and it just never gets old for very long because it never plays the same twice. It’s always installed on my computer in some form. Most recently Civ 5 with Gods and Kings , which I actually stopped playing to do this interview
Phoenix Always Rises: Any final words for your fans?
Mangadrive: Thanks to all of the people supporting these releases and the project in general. I hope you all will enjoy Mechafetish!
Mangadrive’s Official Page
Mangadrive on Bandcamp
Mangadrive on Facebook
Last year sometime, I received an email saying that an artist named Mangadrive was following me on Twitter. I made a mental note to check the music out later. A few months later I finally got the chance to check out his album These.Blades.Will.Never.Rust and really liked it. I loved the song Leviathan in particular because I had never heard anything where the synths were so intricate and so quick.
He released a new album called Artifice and I loved that as well. This song is one of my favorites.
I hadn’t heard the albums that came between the two, so the whole album was a huge musical jump for me. Through the last 6 months or so, I have gotten the rest of his albums and I love them all. One day I want to sit down and listen to all of his albums in order. I think that would be pretty interesting to hear.
This artist completely blows me away. He has introduced me to a completely new side of electronic music. I’m kind of a newbie when it comes to the electronic genre in general, so it was really cool to hear something completely new to me. What I like about Mangadrive Is the fact that his music is a lot different than what I’m accustomed to. His music completely fascinates me. It’s so technical that I can’t help but constantly wonder “how does he do that?”
One of my favorite tracks: Reborn.And.Rewired
One thing I really like about Mangadrive is that he encompasses so many different genres. I admit, I suck at classifying music, but I have Mangadrive to thank for opening my eyes to the genres of 303 and psytrance. I am looking forward to checking out more music from those genres in the future. I’m also looking forward to hearing more of his music.
So if you’re into darker electronic music, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Mangadrive!
Phoenix Always Rises: How did you guys come together?
Matt: A dirty hole-in-the-wall venue, a rusty metal dumpster out back and two strung -out rejects comparing sewn on patches and half-inch buttons. Yeah, it was your typical spooky kid love at first sight story. I was supporting a long-time friend’s music project, The Minus Men and Gabe was opening as Hindu Pez. It was my first introduction to Hindu Pez and I not only liked what I heard but knew something far more sinister was in store for us both just around the bend.
Gabe: We lived together for a while. There was always talk about doing something, musically, as Matt has a lot of poetry he’d written over the years. I hear this sort of talk from a lot of people I know and I tend to hope that they prove that they want to do something bad enough that I don’t have to chase them for it. If you’re not willing to buckle down and work with me in a small capacity, how will you ever do something bigger-scale? Matt passed my silent test and proved himself very quickly. He writes interesting lyrics and they complement my ugly style of programming-n-guitar. It also helps that we like a lot of the same music, the same type of women, absurd video games, bad horror flicks, and have a strong love for booze-n-chemicals-n-chaos.
Phoenix Always Rises: You covered Marilyn Manson’s “1996” and Ministry’s “So What?” for this E.P. What Made you choose those 2 songs?
Gabe: I can’t speak for Matt, but I’ve always viewed Ministry’s So What as a classic – a standard, even – so it’s more of an homage than anything. I also made a point to change some of the guitar bits, because most of the parts on their “Mind” album – as well as live versions – are moderately repetitive. I also wanted to layer tons and tons of noises, found-sounds, and heavy, heavy drums (both live drums and drum machine) as well, to give it that heavy overkill that Ministry had in their live shows. I think it turned out well. It’s raw as dirty, back-room sex in a utility closet, but I’m happier with that as opposed to something over-produced.
The Manson track was my personal tribute to one of my dear friends who is no longer with us. That song was our get-pumped-up-and-take-shots-and-fuck-shit-up track that we’d play at max volume before we went out for the evening. It’s a great, raw track to get completely twisted to, so that was our ritual. I always think about her when we play it live. I miss her every day.
Matt: There was never any actual discussion about whether we wanted to do covers and if so which songs. We are both longtime Ministry fans and have attended many of the same shows over the years. We both have a lot of respect for Al and company and their method of creating music as well as the legacy they have made for tough industrial music. After obtaining a copy of Ed Wood’s The Violent Years we decided it would be fun to sit down and isolate all the samples that were used for So What. After forming a solid backing track we started performing the song in a house we were both inhabiting in order to entertain ourselves after we had consumed too much booze to do anything else. After that we started performing it live at the end of Hindu Pez sets also to entertain our inebriated selves. After working on a few original compositions that ended up on the EP we decided it would also be fun to cover 1996. Antichrist Superstar was very influential on us both and it takes us back to a very formative time both in the music scene and our personal lives. 1996 was both a year of becoming and the most punk rock song on ACSS. It was only fitting for us to reinterpret it now.
Phoenix Always Rises: Who has influenced your sound?
Gabe: For me, personally, there’s NIN, Chemlab, Skinny Puppy, Delta 9, Ministry, Alec Empire / Atari Teenage Riot, Godflesh on the programming, noisy side.
As far as guitars go, it’s Hendrix, Queens of the Stone Age, Fu Manchu, The Smashing Pumpkins, Black Sabbath, RATM…just off the top of my head.
There’s a lot of other stuff that has small influence on things – hip-hop, for example – we’re both big fans of Wu-Tang Clan and Dr. Dre. I like a lot of classical music (as it shows on the abUSE album I did as Hindu Pez) and it’s bled through a bit on the full-length album we’re working on.
Matt: All of the above. I’d also like to add: Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Bauhaus, Elton John, Mister Rogers, Dr. Seuss, Frankenstein, Bobcat Goldthwaite, Jesus and Satan. Oh yeah, and a Justin Bieber singing toothbrush we nuked in a microwave.
Phoenix Always Rises: What was the recording process like for this album?
Gabe: I was mid-tour preparation with Red This Ever, playing live guitar for them. I was really pressed for time and only had roughly 2 weeks before I was about to leave for 2 months (on top of trying to finish guitar tracking for the Deathhouse Blues album, which was a much easier task, as most of that is improv), so we spent something like 5 hours a night multi-tracking guitars and vocals. Day jobs and schedules got in the way a lot. Thankfully we already had all of our electronics done, so focusing on a specific guitar tone and a certain raw vocal style was easier than having to get every single part done.
Matt: When we started getting to the finish line, it really started getting stressful. The time frame felt impossible and it started messing with our heads – the lack of sleep, the endless takes, the striving for reaching as close to perfection as possible. We managed to finish all recording and mixing before Gabe left for tour, so thankfully all we had left when he got back was the other stuff – album art, for example, which I worked on with Travis Helmkamp and Michelle Clark. They did an incredible job and really understood the concept, you can tell by looking at the booklet that they internalized it. The broken, bloody teeth on the back, the nasty splatter on the front – really nailed what we were going for. All that stuff was hand-built by Travis, the bloody photos were shot and stylized by Michelle. Those are my actual wisdom teeth that were removed in surgery on the back cover. There’s a great shot of blood circling the drain on the disc itself. Good stuff.
Phoenix Always Rises: Gabe, how would you say this material is different from your projects Death House Blues and Hindu Pez?
Gabe: Hindu Pez is really an exercise in being as – in the Spinal Tap sense – as loud as possible. Loud. Fast. Like a flaming car flying towards the entrance of a mall full of school children, screaming bloody murder. Overkill. I never thought of Hindu Pez as being something that was for everyone. If you got it, cool. If you didn’t, that’s your bad fucking luck. I’ve never really gotten too personal with it, either (until I did the abUSE album) so it was sort of a broad thing – more of a soap box for my bitching.
Deathhouse Blues is something that I enjoy, heavily, because it requires no real thought. Wanna do 12-bar in A-minor? Let’s go. And there’s no more discussion. We connect just by glancing at each other for when we’re ready for a solo, or for more vocals. It’s fun and it’s a great connection for me, personally, between my childhood – growing up on Hendrix, Santana, The Rolling Stones – and being able to pay homage to my music heroes as I grew up and learned how to play.
Phoenix Always Rises: You guys opened up for Cyanotic a while back. How did you cross paths with them?
Gabe: I’m not exactly sure who set the gig up, as there were two promoters I was dealing with at once – but Cyanotic was touring with Dismantled. We were lucky to be one of the few industrial bands in the area that weren’t defunct at that specific time. Luck and timing, I guess. I’d talked to Sean in passing through the old Chemlab messageboard (or, Hydrogenbar) a few years prior, so we’ve had a small form of a repoire for a while.
Getting to sit down and talk with the guy at length that night was a treat. I found we have a lot of the same tastes – early digital hardcore, 90’s hip-hop and gangsta rap, hardcore/gabber, ridiculous death metal, and all the industrial/machine-rock that we both came up on. It was a nice conversation. Both Matt and I are big fans and – it was Matt, actually, who bought it and had us start listening to it – we both really dig their Medication Generation album. The samples, the vocals, the guitars, the programming with the breakbeats and the drum machine…the whole thing is a tough, violent one-two punch to the throat and I think they deserve a lot more recognition than they’ve already gotten. It’s a very, very intelligent album and I like that it requires you to think about it, as opposed to so many industrial albums that are very this-is-what-it-is, so to speak. There’s a lot of clever lyric play on it, too, which is fun.
I’m hoping to do more shows with them in the future. We’ve got our musical similarities and it’d be great to share a series of gigs with them. I’ve got my fingers crossed.
Matt: It was an honor to gig with Cyanotic. We had just opened for Combichrist a couple months previous but I was more at home on the Cyanotic bill. I can’t even remember the last electronic album to get me as excited as Medication Generation. If more bands in this genre could set that sort of precedence on their work I’d certainly have less venom to spew at “the sad state of music”. It’s an amazing piece of work. I would highly recommend picking up a copy. Sean is really a down to earth guy. I’m looking forward to more shows, more drinks and more chaos with him sometime very soon.
Phoenix Always Rises: What are your thoughts about the current state of music? I see on your Facebook page that you have contempt for modern music. What do you think is broken about it?
Gabe: I’m bored with a lot of things I’m hearing. Our industrial scene (whatever that means) has become very stale and I don’t feel like anyone’s trying to push it very hard in any given direction. It’s easier for bands to make the same record over and over and I, personally, find that dull. Why keep doing the same thing? I really respect bands like Ministry who turned around and made an album like Filth Pig after such a smash hit with Psalm 69. Chemlab with East Side Militia after Burn Out At The Hydrogen Bar. Or The Smashing Pumpkins with Adore after such a mega-hit with Melon Collie. Another good example is Marilyn Manson making Mechanical Animals after such success with Antichrist Superstar. Most of David Bowie’s catalog tells the same story – smashing down walls between albums to keep creating new things. The list goes on.
You’ve got to respect artists like the aforementioned David Bowie – or Tom Waits, for that matter – for having the courage to do what they felt was musically correct, simply because they wanted to. No being told what to do by record labels or fans demanding a repeat of the previous album. Bravo.
It’s not just the industrial scene, either. Turn on top 40 and you’ll find all these pop singers using a lot of the same styles and formulas, almost to a fault – or even hip-hop artists that are using the exact same drum banks and the same boring, boring formula – 16 bar verse, 8 bar hook. Fuck! Do something different!
It’d be nice to see more fearless artists doing what they want, how they want, without any second thought. I feel like a lot of bands don’t want to push a certain direction too hard or too far because they’ll become too – for lack of a better word – unpalatable – and they’ll end up with all of 5 fans that actually understand what they’re doing. Understandably, that’s the risk you take, and I understand that artists have to make a choice between a certain level of integrity and an attempt at success (whatever level we have left in the general music scene is beyond me, but I’m assuming it exists out there) so I can only judge bands and artists to an extent. They’ve got to eat, too.
Matt: Most of it has no creativity, no meaning, no point and no use. It’s completely devoid of brain, heart, balls and soul. I can appreciate the production value put into polishing that crap until it sparkles like a freshly painted Easter egg but underneath all that gloss it’s still shit. I think for music to be interesting it needs to first say something worth being said and then needs to say it in a way it hasn’t already been presented. I can’t tell one song from another on the radio. It’s all been produced by Will.I.Am, ghost-written by Jay-Z and features Rihanna. I want something different. How stupid is the average person? Fuck. People actually pay money for Nickelback CDs?! Meanwhile, I have to give credit to ICP, those two tired-ass Jesus Freaks in grease paint have convinced thousands of ugly stupid kids they can all be part of a family if they get shitty tattoos and dress like clowns.
Phoenix Always Rises: Do you think anything can ever fix it? If so, what?
Gabe: I think, if more artists weren’t afraid of experimenting, of pushing a song as far as it can within itself, and not (whether consciously or not) giving yourself a set of parameters whilst writing and recording, you’ll end up with more interesting material. It’s very easy – and I’ve done it too, admittedly – to approach writing with the mindset of, for example “this track needs to have this sort of drum machine, this sort of synth, this kind of guitar, because that’s what you’re supposed to do in this specific genre”. The problem with that is, you’ve already boxed yourself in, and you end up with songs that sound contrived.
Matt: Have you seen those videos online where people film a washing machine in the spin cycle and then throw a cinderblock into it? The washing machine then continues to spin until it fucks itself into a pile of twisted metal wreckage. I’d like to think [0PT-0UT] is the cinder block in that analogy.
Phoenix Always Rises: Where would you like to see [0pt-0ut] in ten years?
Gabe: Ideally, I’d like to turn [0PT-0UT] into a regular touring act that goes out frequently enough that you can’t ignore us. We’re still in the process of building our sound and our brand, as we’re still in our infancy, but that’s the plan.
Matt: Ten years is a long time. I don’t know. On the FBI’s most wanted list, in a snazzy white-collar federal penitentiary, dead and buried or maybe playing sold out shows on the moon. The future is wide open.
Phoenix Always Rises: Are you guys planning on touring in the near future? If so, where do you plan on playing?
Matt: We’re hoping to tour at the end of the year. We have to finish our first full-length (it’s about 6 songs in, so far) and then we have to figure out how to make a tour work – artistically, financially, etc. It’s a long road we have ahead of us but we’re working every day in some capacity at it.
Phoenix Always Rises: Name your dream tour. Name whatever bands you wish and whichever cities you would want to play in.
Gabe: There’s a lot of bands I’d like to tour with. Cyanotic, for example, would be great. I think I’ve already shown how much of our inner fanboy shows for them. I think it’d be interesting to tour with bands that aren’t in the genre, too, like something left-field. My favorite shows are the ones that have bands that are completely different. Nine Inch Nails did that a number of times over the years in their tours. Touring with Saul Williams took a giant pair of gonads, and I think Trent Reznor did it because he knew that his audience is intelligent enough to appreciate Saul for what he is. Had it been Saul Williams touring with, say, Motley Crue, he would have been dismissed as “some rapper”, you know? But NIN fans are much more open than that.
I’m hoping that we can do something in the same vein – taking the risk of having an artist so far from what we do, out on the road with us. That’s something we’ll look into heavier as we get closer to the completion of our full-length. It all really depends on funding, time, and what our options look like by the fall.
Phoenix Always Rises: Any final words for your fans?
Gabe: Thank you! Glad to have you aboard. By all means, have a shot with us.
Matt: Stay tuned. The beast is yet to come.
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