NAS - Life's A Bitch (DJ SIDEREAL REMIX)


I can't believe it's almost the 20th anniversary of Illmatic, released in 1994. I was 7, Nas was 20, signed to Columbia, and working with some of the best producers available (ie. Pete Rock and Q-Tip).It's funny listening to Read more

Joel Compass - Astronaut (Henry Krinkle Remix)


Now, I've been all over Joel Compass since his single "Back to Me" dropped earlier this year, paired with a pretty captivating, albeit strange, emotional slowmo video. The young (20) producer turned new age R&B talent is getting a lot Read more

Misun - Hills and Trails


This uptempo synthy spaghetti western pop song from Misun can be paired with pretty much any end of the summer activity, especially if it involves riding through tumultuous Texas desert towns on quarter horses. There probably needs to be Read more

» Interview

Interview: Rare Monk

On by Alex Mitchell In INTERVIEW$, Music | 1

 

Welcome to Rare Monk, the experimental indie rock band out of Portland, Oregon. They just dropped their third collection in October – a three track EP titled Death by Proxy - and are currently touring the west coast. They play at the Silverlake Lounge in Los Angeles tonight at 9:00pm. So be there.

I had a chance to meet up with the band today in Echo Park to ask them a few questions about their music, experiences as young musicians on tour, and the daily balance between working and holding a strong commitment to Rare Monk – the Rarest, funkiest Monk of them all.

Listen to the Rare Monk Death by Proxy EP after the interview and download it HERE.

First, what does “Death by Proxy” mean?

Who do you want to sound more like, and less like? Have you been compared to any bands?

I mean, the biggest comparisons we draw on are bands like Modest Mouse and Phoenix, but we are really not trying to sound like anybody. Kind of cliché thing to say but it’s true. We are trying to do our own thing without getting caught up in what the “popular” sound is like today. That being said, there are a ton of bands that we love, but I think at this point in our careers, we aren’t trying to have that greatly influence the music we’re creating.

I’m curious about women, or men, who have come on to you strongly at or after shows. Do you ever look out into the audience while playing and think to yourself, “that girl right there wants me real bad.” And then with soaring eagle confidence you bring the house down with a beautiful solo while staring into her eyes. 

It’s funny I feel like we are sometimes more of a musician’s band, meaning I feel like people pop musical boners for us more than anything else. Times are changing as the sex icon rockstar thing is being replaced by computer wielding DJ’s.

What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you guys on tour? Broken down van? Broken instruments? Has anyone ever been like fuck it lets go home I hate Valencia? Then everyone has to rally that one guy and be like man c’mon we’re a team!

We’ve had several van breakdowns that were pretty shitty. We broke down in the middle of nowhere Texas in 115 degree heat last summer, without any cell service or passerbys. Luckily, we had just overheated and had a gallon water jug in the car, so after an hour or so we were ready to go. Isaac was playing some spaghetti western type of soundtrack as tumbleweeds went by our feet… it was surreally fucked.

What’s the best show you’ve ever played? What about it was good? Fans? Performance? Combination of many factors?

One of the best shows we ever played didn’t necessarily have the biggest crowd, but it had all of the best treatment, sound, and professional aspects. We played at this place called Wonder Ballroom in Portland and we had our own dressing room, stocked with beer, food, multiple couches, the whole nine yards. And for a band that is used to playing small clubs without any green room or backstage area, having those factors was pretty rad. We even had to walk down a long hallway and make sure not to get lost on the way to the stage. On top of that, the stage sound was incredible and the whole sound crew took care to make sure our shit was tight. If we could have treatment like that every night on the road, I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to stop.

What are your jobs away from music? How hard is it to be committed to a band and still have to put in hours at another job to pay your rent? At what point can you all quit and just be rockstars?  Who’s got the best job and who has the worst out of you guys?

Let’s see: Isaac works with troubled teens, Jake works at a tennis shop, Dorian works at a music shop, Rick works at a taco cart, and Forest works for a music licensing company. It’s really hard to organize practice/performance schedules around jobs because everyone has different work schedules. We usually end up practicing till like 2-3am during the week because it’s the only time we can all get together. We would all quit our jobs as soon as we had enough money/resources to stay on the road most of the year. The worst job two years running is going to have to go to Rick, dog groomer and taco stand, but I would say that Forest has the best because he works somewhere that treats him well and understands a musicians schedule/lifestyle.

I feel rappers have warped my image of what being in the studio is like. From what I can discern from reality tv, there’s a lot less weed and Dre Beats than I expected. What is it like to work in a studio when you only have a set amount of time? Is it stressful? Do you even go in at the same time? Is it harder to play your separate parts and put them all together than recording as a group?

The studio experience is always different. We’ve recorded in bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, all kinds of crazy shit, which usually involved a lot more said weed and beverages, but this time around we went into a much better studio environment. We’ve been in the studio for three months, getting in whenever we have the time. The majority of the recording was done in about two weeks, but now we’ve been mixing for the last month or two making sure everything is to our liking. The producer we are working with, Skyler Norwood, is an amazing engineer and all around cool dude, so he’s made the studio experience amazing. Working with good people makes things much less stressful and in the case of Skyler he’s able to get really good takes out of us because of the studio environment. We lay down initial tracking with all of us playing at the same time, then we start overdubbing and laying down individual parts. Then, we grab the drum and bass takes from the live recording, capturing the right “feel” of the song, making it much easier to put everybody else’s part into the mix with similar feel and intensity.

Last one – You guys are sponsored by Ninkasi. I saw like 14 empty boxes in your house on 30th. If you could have another sponsor, (besides God, and Google, same thing?) who would it be, and why?

Having a beer sponsor is pretty sweet, it’s like one of the best things a band could be sponsored by, but if we could have another sponsor having like a hotel, gas or food sponsor would be amazing. Being on the road can be shitty when you have to cover all these expenses, so morally as much as we would hate to be sponsored by Chevron or something, not paying 100 dollars every 4-5 hours on the road to fill up our gas guzzling van would keep us on the road much longer. We might even be able to make some money on the road! But probably not…

Interview: Lily and the Tigers

On by Alex Mitchell In .MP3, INTERVIEW$, Music, New & Fresh | 1

This is the first piece in a series of interviews with up and coming bands and musical artists. We’re interested in their lives as musicians, and their experiences forming a band, touring, holding side jobs – everything involved in the commitment success requires.

Our first feature is the haunted Appalachian soul band, Lily and the Tigers, led by guitar picking vocalist, 26-year-old Casey Hood.

Hi Casey, how did Lily and the Tigers form? How do you all get along?

Lily and the Tigers formed about two years ago. When it all began it was just me on the guitar and Adam Mincey on the electric bass. He didn’t even have an amp at the time so our practices were pretty funny. Eventually we started playin’ little shows here and there, backyard bonfires or friend’s art shows. We created a strong presence just the two of us. We had a few friends join us every now and then, but nobody really stuck ’til Jared joined on in the fall of 2011. He immediately understood the sound and feeling we wanted to create. One by one the rest of the guys began to join on, Ryan, Mikhail, and finally Peter. I remember the first time we practiced together. All six of us were playing in a circle facing each other in my room and the sound was so alive and moving. It just felt right.

 

Who do you want to sound more like, and less like? Is there a band that if you were associated with you’d be like, awww shit, on our way to the clouds?

Sometimes folks will compare my voice to other female folk vocalists like Joli Holland, but collectively as a band people generally have a hard time comparing us to other bands. Mostly we just hear people say that we moved them and that’s what means the most to me.

 

What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you guys on tour? Broken down van? Broken instruments? Has anyone ever been like fuck it lets go home I hate Valencia? Then everyone has to rally that one guy and be like c’mon we’re a team!

Hmmm, once in Vermont we played an after show ’round a bonfire at a blueberry farm. The night was beautiful, but in all our walking through the blueberry fields we realized someone had dropped the keys in them. We spent a good while searching for them that evening, but there’s only so much you can see in the dark. In the end we had to spend the night in the field and do an early morning search for keys. After a breakfast of blueberries we finally found them and did a celebration dance to “Shout” which was on the radio when we finally got the car turned on again. In general though we are a great touring group. Morale is always high. We thrive being on the road, meeting new people and sharing music.

 

What’s the best show you’ve ever played? What about it was good? Fans? Performance? A combination of many factors?

One show that really sticks out to me was at a place called the Victoria House. It’s this crazy old house in Beaumont, Texas full of musicians and artists. We were late arriving to the show and walked into the opening band playing, Mad Maude and the Hatters, who were blowin’ the roof off the place. Our set was great and the crowd was super responsive even though it was hot as hell. What was so great about the show was that afterwards we wound up cooking this huuuge dinner and fed about thirty people. We stayed up playing music and singing into the wee hours of the night. There was so much love there. When you really get a chance to talk and connect with people on tour it’s such a beautiful thing. Also at the end of the night there was a couch for everyone to sleep on, and this is a big deal on tour.

 

What’s the funniest thing a fan at a show has done? Dare I ask worst?

We once played this show in North Carolina that was a river outpost for a bunch of water rafting guides. After our first song this guy jumps up out of the audience and exclaims, “My name is Tony and I think y’all are GRRRRREAT!” Like Tony the Tiger, you know? We thought that was pretty funny.

 

What are your jobs away from music? How hard is it to be committed to a band and still have to put in hours at another job to pay your rent? At what point can you all quit and just be folk stars?  Who’s got the best job and who has the worst out of your band members? 

This is a great question and one that we think on all the time: the artist’s dilemma. We have all worked in the restaurant industry, waiting tables, busing tables, making mocha lattes. This pays the bills, it’s true, but at what cost? In the past year there’s been a shift in I think everybody’s thinking. A few of the guys stopped restaurant gigs and swore they’d never do it again. Ryan and Mikhail teach kids music, which is beautiful. Jared works at the raddest music store in town. The rest of us still work them, but the band comes first. When it’s time to tour it’s time to tour whether you lose your job or not.  Having that shift in priorities has brought about a shift in the shows we play. They keep getting better and better because that’s where the focus is and eventually the time will come where we leave all day jobs behind, soon. 

 

I feel rappers have warped my image of what being in the studio is like. From what I can discern from reality TV, there’s a lot less weed and Dre Beats than I expected. What is it like to work in a studio when you only have a set amount of time? Is it stressful? Do you even go into the studio at the same time?

The first album we made in a bedroom. That was back when it was just me and Adam officially in the band and we spent a few weeks laying down random tracks. It was such a fun process to jump into. We learned a lot from that first album. The one we just finished, Hiding ’til Dawn was possible because a good friend of mine had access to a great recording studio for a class he was taking in school. We had the chance to use all sorts of great mics and had a real nice set up – only stipulation was that we had the studio from midnight ’til eight in the morning. We played for eight hours straight, all of us together in the same room. The energy in the room just built and built and we went into the zone. At the end of the night we’d finished ten songs and bottle of whiskey. We stepped out into the morning light and were just like…wow…did that happen? And it did. I prefer going from live recordings like that. Though quality can be better with single tracking, I feel like you lose some of the life of the song when it’s not all of us together building it at the same time.

 

Do you have any sponsors? If you could have one (besides God, and Google, same thing?), who would it be, and why?

Ha, no sponsor yet. We’d probably be sponsored by some kind of coffee beans I’d say. This band loves a good cup of morning coffee on the road.

 

Enjoy two of my favorite Lily and the Tigers tracks below. You can download their full length album at http://lilyandthetigers.bandcamp.com/