Interview: The Body

“No, no, yes, maybe, no, no, all humans are despicable. Peace.”

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The Body will always hold a special place in my heart because they were the first band I heard who showed me that “metal” or “whatever” isn’t limited to fast minor guitar riffs and double kick pedals (no offense intended to the proponents of aforementioned). I got the chance to ask Chip King and Lee Buford a few questions after their most recent show in Philly, which diverged from their past guitar-and-drums sets into borderline harsh noise territory, which was SICK despite a thoroughly ambivalent response from the blackgaze crowd waiting to see Alcest. This is also the first time I’ve ever tried to interview a band so I apologize for any weird stammering below.

[Interview by Ross Griebenow]

[Edited for clarity and conciseness]

Ross (WKDU): How’s your tour going?

Chip King: It’s been great.

Lee Buford: It’s been fun, everyone’s been really really cool.

R: How long of a tour is it?

LB: It was like a month with these guys [Alcest], and then tomorrow’s our last show with them and then we got a couple more shows after that.

R: Your set was not what I expected at all, I was expecting guitars and drums.

LB: This is the first tour we’ve done it without that.

CK: this seemed like a good time to do it. Rough crowd tonight (laughs)

R: Yeah, I noticed that, they were not into it.

CK: The whole front was just like nope.

R: You guys are known for your collaborative work with other bands obviously, so what do you look for in collaborators?

CK: Friends whose music we think is good, then, you know, it’d be interesting to see what happens.

R: Is there a difference between doing an album collaboratively with another band vs. having other people on your album?

CK: Yeah. I mean, the kind of nice thing about the collaborations is that you’re not the one person deciding we have to do it like this, it’s just nice to work together with people and see what happens. But our records are like, we know what’s going to happen.

R: What do you get out of collaborations that you don’t get out of solo records?

LB: I mean, I think when we do our own records it’s like, pretty intense. I mean it’s like thought out a lot more. And collaborative stuff it’s like whatever happens so it’s not as intense. The pressure’s off.

R: so is it more fun to do it collaboratively?thebody2

LB: I mean, it’s fun. But I don’t know, I don’t get the same out of it creatively.

CK: I agree.

R: in your writing and recording how much is spontaneous vs. deliberately planned out?

CK: Increasingly more spontaneous. We talk about what we want to do more beforehand. We used to come to the studio and have everything written out. And the process of recording informs what we’re doing more lately. We’ll have ideas of how we want shit to go and we get in there and it kind of builds on itself which is nice.

LB: Yeah, even recording we don’t write anything beforehand. We’ll have ideas so it’s still spontaneous when we’re recording.

R: So if you’re moving in that direction, is the sound going to change?

LB: I think it’ll be like it was tonight.

CK: We’re trying to get stuff to sound like the recordings, we’ve never been able to play some of the songs from the last records because they’re just based on playing electronically whereas playing with guitar and drums we didn’t have the space to do layers or the ability. Unless I sprouted a new arm.

R: So when you have just guitar and drums are you still just trying to emulate the recordings or are you doing something different?

LB: There’s certain songs that are more like guitar and drum songs and those are the ones we play then, but as the years go on those songs are getting less and less on the records so we end up playing songs that are real old. So there’s like two sets of songs, but as time goes on all of it’s gotten so many overdubs and shit that everything’s in the electronic category kind of.

CK: One of the things I’m playing now is a sample of my guitar through my keyboard with more distortion and it’s sounding more like what I wanted my guitar to sound like than my guitar sounds. So I’m happier with the sounds of that because it’s more like my vision for how I wanted my guitar to sound in the first place.

R: I read one of you talking about trying to make a guitar not sound like a guitar.

CK: Yeah that was me. But it’s hard to make a guitar not sound like a guitar. Until you run it through the distortion and put in a keyboard and blast it and just redline everything. (laughs) All I want is the distortion and the attack.

R: I come from liking more electronic stuff so I love that.

LB: Me too. I mean, honestly, I don’t listen to any like new rock music at all. Can’t even think of like a new- maybe like Radiohead or something- where I’ve been like, this is cool.

CK: The only like, modern stuff I like that’s metal-ey or hard or whatever is like Full of Hell. They’re kind of pushing shit in a way, you know. Is Judas Priest a modern band? I like their first few records. (laughs) Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion, that’s a modern record, I like that. That’s the metal-est record out there.

R: In your music is it more important to be expressive or original?thebody3

LB: Kind of both, I would hate to do the same thing over and over again.

CK: I think we haven’t done that.

LB: I would hate to do something someone’s already done better.

CK: But it’s not like we’re ever like we have to make this different, it’s just the way we do music I think.

R: What motivates you to keep trying new things and combine different things when you tend to get roped into a genre that’s pretty static?

LB: What makes us keep trying stuff? I don’t know, I mean, I feel like anybody that makes anything has something to say to some degree. A problem I have with lots of people musically is they’ll be like oh, I like this kind of music. But it’s like if you’re trying to get a point across it doesn’t matter what kind of music it is as long as there’s a point. To me, what you’re trying to get across is more important than how you get it across. And so I think that’s what we do is try to get the same point across but in different ways.

R: So is trying different things just a means to the expressive part?

LB: Yeah but it’s also for us too, it’s interesting to be like oh let’s try this, oh that worked, or this didn’t work, that is more interesting than being like oh we know we can do this, we can like play guitar and drums in a doom way and people will like it, we can just keep churning that out.

CK: For years it’d be like the craziest thing I can do is play this guitar, or I can play it this way or I can play it louder or I can add amps or add bass amps and it got to a point where it was like I don’t think I can go much farther with that and it’s like I don’t have to prove anything to anybody about it, I feel like I’m just like a hack job at guitar because I’m not pushing any boundaries, I’m just bored of it and it’s like, I could try this different thing and it went along with what I enjoy and what I like.

LB: And plus we listen to a lot of music and it’s varied, and you get those influences from stuff so it’s like it’d be cool to take this thing and this thing and this thing and mash them all together. I think that’s part of it too.

R: For me your music is like bleak and brutal but there’s also an intensity that’s kind of outside of that, so I was wondering if you think there’s a relationship between normal heavy negativity and stuff and just some kind of abstract intensity and if either of those are a goal for you.

LB: I mean especially starting out I think a lot of our stuff was like oh, I want to be loud as fuck as a way of getting an emotion across, just pure brutality style. But it’s just different ways to say the same thing kind of. And like a lot of it, I think the bleakest songs are not “heavy”. That’s the great thing about music, you can say so many different things so many different ways.

R: Are you working on anything new right now, or do you know what direction you want to take next?

LB: We’ve got another collab with Full of Hell done and we’re working on our full length slowly, in a couple days we’ll go back to the studio and work on that. Gnaw Their Tongues, we’re doing a collaboration with him.

R: Cool, that’s all I have, thank you guys so much!

 

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Creepoid Comes To Underground Arts This Friday

— By Carolyn Hanes

 

Psychedelic fuzz wall of sound hypnotic blah blah blah. Common descriptors for many of the records and bands I love. But maybe it’s not enough for you. Maybe you need more than a general idea of psych rock. Of face melting fuzz. But that’s why the unique aspects of these bands, Creepoid, Ecstatic Vision, Purling Hiss, Spirit of the Beehive – I mean have you seen Kurosawa’s “Dreams”? Dreams, magical realism, one man’s imagination – You follow the path these dreams take you on and yet all are so wildly unique and extreme.

These bands draw you in, they blend comforting elements of these psychedelic fuzz genres with such unexpected punches of rage, voids of silence, lyrical daggers, haunting harmonies. There’s what you know, and what you don’t know. And to see these bands all in one show, it’s hard to imagine where the experience will take you. So don’t assume. Just let the dreams take you.

 

This post will be expanded with images and commentary from Friday nights show.  Stay tuned!

WKDU Feature: Kevin Garrett

— Interview by Ryan Stone

 

You may not have heard of him yet but you probably will soon.

Kevin Garrett, a singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist from Pittsburgh by way of Brooklyn, has had quite an impressive few years, from getting cosigns from Sam Smith & Katy Perry to songwriting and producing for Beyoncé – and all off the strength of one EP and handful of singles.

Just last month (February), Garrett dropped his awaited sophomore project, another EP entitled “False Hope.” To support the album, Garrett embarked on his first headlining tour with openers A R I Z O N A.

Before his sold-out show at World Cafe Live on Friday, March 3rd, I had the opportunity to speak with the budding “odd soul” artist to see how his new music is coming along and much more.

R: First of all, congrats on the tour – the False Hope Tour – and also, the EP [“False Hope”]. How’s the reception been for that so far?

K: The tour has been pretty cool, I think almost all the dates have sold out, which is awesome. And I think at the shows you can kind of tell how many people have listened to the EP or not. It’s been pretty much every night, the songs that have only been out for a month now today (March 3rd), everyone’s been singing along, which is pretty cool. Online [the “False Hope” EP] seems to be received pretty well. I think a lot of people are just kind of excited for me to do anything at all in terms of new music, so while it’s not an album, at least it’s another small body of work that I’m super happy about.

R: Speaking of which, you’ve mentioned it in other interviews over the years and you’ve got the new EP everyone loves, but I wanted to know the status on your full-length LP because I know you’ve been working on it for a few years.

K: Yeah, the full-length album is kind of this elusive, mythical beast. But I’ve definitely been writing it for forever, for 25 years. I’ve had the concept for it for about four or five years now. I guess I’m just kind of continuing to build sort of what I’ve grown organically on the road. I want to make sure the album has enough space to breathe, because there’s so many huge releases and everything that are happening and I just want to be creative about it. Whether I’m independent still or whether I end up partnering with a label, either way I want to make sure the album has the right point of release.

R: So you’ve been working on it all this time, were the songs on the two EPs meant to be the album and they just kind of worked together [on their own] or were they specifically meant for the EPs?

K: No, “Mellow Drama,” it was the first EP and it was supposed to be a longer project. It was originally supposed to be a 10- or 11-song album. I never really had the intention of putting an EP out first, I was always an album person. Then I linked up with some management and was placed on a timer based around tours and stuff and needed to get music out. So I decided to truncate it so I can still tell the story I wanted to tell, but hold some stuff back and keep writing it in the meantime. It’s kind of strange [that] I ended up touring an EP for almost two years and that was great [*knocks on wood*], but I don’t know if I want to do that again for this EP. I think with the album itself, this second EP is a showcase of growth stylistically; showing people where I’m refining myself lyrically [and] production-wise. I guess for the album it’ll be a lot more of the same, still going to be probably sad, but we’ll see what happens.

R: Yeah I was going to ask you about that, you kind of answered another question I had. I’ve seen that you like to do comedy, you’re a fan of comedy, like, you’ll do little jokes in between your songs, but you think you’re going to stick with the more self-reflective style of songwriting in your music?

K: I think that when it comes to making those songs, I’m just trying to be honest about my experiences. I watched some interview the other day with Father John Misty and he was talking about authenticity [for music] is kind of synonymous with the word ‘empathy’ because you’re trying to connect with people and the more people that connect with you, the more authentic you seem in their eyes. It’s like if 10 people come to the show and only four of them relate to your music, then it’s kind of like, well, what are we doing? But if all 10 of them relate, then it’s like ‘aw yeah!’ But at the root of all, I’m trying to make a song or make an album that I can listen to and evaluate my experiences, and you can listen to it and you can connect in some way that makes you think about whatever’s going on with you in your own way. With the comedy aspect of everything, the experiences that I write about already happened, so more often than not, I’m not writing about something…or I’m not performing that song as the experience is happening to me, I should say that. When I’m writing it, maybe I am, but by the time I’m performing it, by the time I put it out, the moment’s already kind of passed on me at that point. So I’m just like, ‘let’s have fun with [it].’ Because if I’m going to sing about some completely sad stuff for an hour and a half, then I might as well try and lighten the mood.

R: When you’re making these songs, you’ve said that you’ve recorded a lot of these in your bedroom to start – or have they been fully done in your bedroom?

K: Well I write everything alone. With, I think, the exception of “Little Bit of You,” everything was created in my bedroom. “Little Bit of You” was done in a session, but then I worked a little production in my room with the other producer, Chris Loco. The three producers that I worked with on the [“False Hope”] EP were all in the UK, so we’re all going off Facetime and stuff, just emailing sessions to each other. Otherwise it was all conceived in my little spot. It’s kind of cool because I didn’t really have a big time on the first EP and I scaled down even more for the second one. It wasn’t by design, it was just the way it happened and being unsigned has an influence on that. It’s just the way it worked, I guess.

R: I don’t know how it was on the “False Hope” EP, but I know on the “Mellow Drama” EP, you worked a lot with Joe LaPorta and Ryan Gilligan. How did you link up with them, was that through Roc Nation or did you have a relationship with them?

K: No, a lot of the people I’ve connected with on that end have been through myself, not through Roc Nation. I was connected to Joe through Ryan, I believe, and then Ryan I knew from Pittsburgh actually because he went to Duquesne [University]. We had some mutual friends, actually someone who worked on the production-end of the first EP knew Ryan [and] we all knew each other from the same New York circles. Ryan Gilligan has this way about mixing where it’s so much more than mixing, like he breathes new life into the project when he puts his ears on it. He’s my first choice for anything that I want to release ever. And Joe, obviously, I keep going back to him because he always knocks it out of the park. It’s like, there’s a couple different ways to master: just make it louder or make it tastefully louder, and Joe can do both, but he does the latter a lot better for people. So I like both of those guys a lot.

R: Yeah, I mean, I was looking at their credits, they got some crazy people up there. Good friends to have!Image result for kevin garrett

K: Yeah they have some crazy credits, they work really hard.

R: You went to NYU for Music Technology and you have done some production on your own. Do you intend to do more production or do you think you think you’re going to stick more with songwriting?

K: Well I’m very involved in all my stuff, songs like “Pulling Me Under” and “Stranglehold”… “Stranglehold” went through about five different versions of production style before it got to the one we landed on. I remember making the demo for “Stranglehold,” which is the version that ended up coming out; just over the past two years being in my space, being in my headphones even just programming stuff out, like drum wise or finding sounds on the synths that I’ve gotten over the years, it’s been a learning experience. But school wasn’t where I learned production by any means. It was more of, like, a fundamental engineering class. We took like electronics courses and there was a lot more time learning how to solder things than how to record. But it was good, it definitely eliminated some middle man. In terms of creativity I definitely want to be the recording artist, but I don’t think that necessarily means I have to sacrifice production or anything. I think I can still be involved in that respect. There are a few artists that are doing that, like James Blake and Frank Ocean even who are very selective with who they work with and know what they want their sound to be, like, experimenting and stuff. It just comes down really more to doing rather than definition of your job title.

R: So then when you’re making your music, what is your set up looking like?

K: I use Pro Tools. I trained myself on Pro Tools, but I also really like Logic for MIDI. I don’t use that much MIDI, though, to be honest so I stay in Pro Tools for the most part. It’s just a little easier for me to edit audio in [Pro Tools]. I like a lot of analog gear: Moog, I use a sub-phatty for a lot of bass sounds, and then Dave Smith Sequential Circuits stuff, like the Prophet 6. We also use a Juno 106 a lot. I have a couple other DSIs (Dave Smith Instruments) and then, honestly, if I can’t get to a studio to record real piano, if I doctor it up enough, I like the Korg SV1 that I use on-stage. I’ll just plug it into my audio interface; I use the Apollo Universal Audio stuff for plugins and everything. It’s crazy what technology does these days. In terms of MIDI, there’s only a few things that I really go back to a lot: a lot of Native [Instruments] stuff and some of the Komplete sounds and then Soundtoys, it’s the best.

R: That made me think, I saw [in] an interview you were saying that sometimes you don’t like to start in a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), because then you end up making beats. I was wondering if you ever dabbled in that because I know you said you’re also a fan of hip-hop, so I was wondering if you’ve ever tried to go [for] a beat style.

K: Yeah, I love hip-hop. “Pulling Me Under” off the “False Hope” EP started as a beat and also “A Heart Like Yours” actually did start as a beat, too, where I just kind of made a loop and then once I liked the loop enough, then I started building it out more. With “A Heart Like Yours,” I wrote the whole song musically before I ever had any lyrics. “Pulling Me Under” has that sort of groove that you can kind of loop any 8- or 16-bar phrase and get the point across, so it was pretty easy to write that one through. When I have more time with my gear, with my computer, I spend more time making “beats,” just creating in Pro Tools. But there’s still something about just being at a piano or being with your guitar and writing something just like that because the possibilities are a lot more endless. I think that’s what I was trying to get at because I have so much respect for producers that can go in and roll out, like, 20 beats in a session and sample things instantaneously. But at the end of the day, you just have a bunch of beats, there’s still no song. So I would rather, more often than not, write a song on guitar that’s like ‘oh, this is a strong song’ and then it can be produced in different ways. There’s pros and cons with both of them, I think, because if you write a good song then it’s like ‘OK, well how are we going to produce it if there’s so many ways to produce it?’ Like “Stranglehold,” it went through five or six different versions. Then when you have beats, now we just need the song and it’s the hardest part.

R: When you write your songs, I know you said that you do music mostly first and then the lyrics. Are you notating these or are you just putting chords together, like how does that song process work?

K: I’m not really transcribing anything. I kind of have a sense because of school and my musical background what I’m playing. If I don’t record it into Pro Tools, like a demo or something, then I’ll just throw the ideas into my phone or if it’s so good that I just know I’m going to remember it, I just will finish it or know that I’ll come back to it in a second and it’ll still be there. Usually – I don’t know what it is, like what in my brain that connects the two, but if I handwrite the lyrics on a legal pad or whatever, that’s when I lock in the music and the lyrics simultaneously on one instrument. I noticed I’ll come across a notepad filled with songs that I’ve written and I’ll look at them and just read the words and start to remember what I was playing, wImage result for kevin garretthich is kind of promising for the old noggin!

[*Mutual laughter*]

R: Yeah, yeah.

K: I try to a lot more lately to be a little more proactive about remembering or taking into account different ideas because even in the middle of the night if I’m sleeping and something comes to me in my dreams or something, I don’t remember. I’ve probably forgotten so many cool things because I’m too lazy to wake up and sing it before I go back to sleep. That actually happened to me the other day now that I’m thinking about it. It was, like, a melody that I had come up with and I told myself, ‘alright, I’m just going to sing it into my phone’ and I fell asleep. When I woke up, I was like “shit!” I totally forgot.

R: [*Laughs*] Now what about violin? You were pretty much trained on the violin and you played a little bit of violin on the Noble Hunter project. Are you planning on putting violin back into your music at any point?

K: I did, yeah. I played violin when I was four or five. I forget, it was so long ago. Noble Hunter was my old band from college and there was an EP re-release of some of the songs off the album where I worked with some guys in the band to [reharmonize] everything with strings and I played violin on that. It was really fun. I think my music now is a little more geared towards pop/R&B production… I have so many opportunities, like bucket-list moments of being at a piano and just having a cello accompanying me singing something. So [I’m] just kind of waiting for the right moment I guess to bring strings back in.

R: I actually didn’t know that Noble Hunter was a thing until I was digging through [some interviews], but I came across that and saw that you played the violin and listening back to your work I didn’t hear it, so I was curious.

K: Yeah, it was in this project called “Noble Hunter: Reimagined.” It was just five of the songs off the Noble Hunter album – it’s only on Bandcamp, I think – and I remember it was the same year that the album came out, in 2012. I went to the bass player like, ‘I want to do this where we can just put strings on everything, more acoustic, less percussion and stuff.’ Then he’s like ‘cool, let’s do it’ and it sounded great, it sounded really cool. That was around the same time when The Lone Bellow was happening and NPR was having a field day because all the music that was popping was that sort of folk vibe. I think that’s coming back maybe in the next few years, but I don’t know. Right now, at least what I’m proud to create and what I’m really into is more along the lines of electro-soul. But again, like I said, if I’m playing by myself, a cello makesImage result for kevin garrett photos everything better so hopefully we can make that happen.

R: Yeah, I mean Kanye did it so…

K: Yeah right? [*Laughs*]

R: Are you still in touch with the members of Noble Hunter? Do you work with them at all?

K: Yeah, we all kind of went our separate ways once we left school and everybody wanted to do different things. Noble Hunter, it started out as a – it didn’t have a name for the longest time, it was just the Kevin Garrett Band because I had all these songs written and I knew I didn’t want to do it myself so I wanted to give it a name and use [it] like a vessel for my music. By the time that album ran its course playing the same gigs and doing a couple little regional tours, I ended up being the frontman being the sole writer and also being the manager of this band. And you could kind of tell that it was just a lot to account for, so much more than just making music. I think that wasn’t really anything that caused any problems, but I just started writing this new direction with songs like “Coloring” and “Come Up Short” and “Pushing Away.” We had already stopped playing shows, so I was like ‘alright, well I’m going to do this.’ Everybody’s been super supportive. I think we all kind of knew [the break-up] was coming, so it wasn’t any bad break-up or anything it was just like, yeah, college.

R: Between then and the two projects you’ve been working on – you also have a few loosies/singles up on SoundCloud – do you have a whole computer full of old or unreleased Kevin Garrett songs that may or may not see the light of day?

K: Yeah, I remember there was a semester I took of songwriting, “Songwriters Forum” – you can’t teach to anybody, but some people think you can so they make these classes in school and I took one, just to kind of see why everyone else wanted to take it and I learned very quickly why. It’s because I think the majority of students thought you could teach songwriting and they could be better songwriters because of it and that wasn’t the case, it was more of a showcase. And I remember I made a catalogue after that semester because the teacher asked me to make it and I was just racking my brain of all the songs I made and all the different projects I had in my head. I think ahead a lot and I think hard too much to a fault and it was cool to compartmentalize everything that I had in my brain. So I have this banjo project [I was] working on, I have this “Noble Hunter LP 2” project that [I was] working on – there’s still a second Noble Hunter album, it’s still in a folder on my computer, we just didn’t get to it. It’s recorded, it’s mixed. And then my first EP at the time and then “Mellow Drama” the album and everything else and the [full-length] album that, at that point, I’m starting to conceptualize. I don’t even know where that is anymore. I think the better question is ‘where are all the legal pads full of lyrics?’

R: A shoebox full.

K: Yeah, there’s a shoebox under my bed, yeah.

R: That’s classic. I also saw that you were a big fan of Sam Cooke. You also mentioned Shania Twain.

K: Shania Twain, oh my goodness! Don’t even get me started!

R: I was the biggest fan of Shania Twain when I was a kid. I had all the cassettes and I used to blast them.

K: Yeah, man, exactly! You know you’re a fan when you say you have the cassettes, too, because that’s legit. Like there’s some younger people who are like, ‘oh my god, I have all her CDs.’ She wasn’t making CDs when she was hip, those were cassette tapes.

[*Mutual Laughter*]

R: Do you like “Come On Over” Shania or more “Up” Shania?

K: Oh, wow. There’s a tweet that I had, I forget, I think it was ‘97/’98 or maybe it was ‘98/’99, but whenever “From This Moment On” came out. Now listen, I have so much respect for Beyoncé, “Love On Top” is a crazy song and it takes key change to a whole next level, but “From This Moment On” had a key change that was unbelievable. It had strings and everything and she’s singing and dressed and doing this thing…that was special. That was like…mm…that song, oh my goodness. She just got recognized at the Billboard, last year, Women in Music Awards. Long time coming, but yeah, she’s great.

R: Yeah I just wanted to throw that out there because I’m a mutual fan. Now in today’s day and age, everybody’s making music on the Internet and that’s how they’re getting there. Do you want to speak to the fact that you’ve been selling out shows – tonight (March 3rd) is even sold out – and, you know, performing? You’ve been doing this for the past, what, two-and-a-half years you’ve been on tour essentially? Can you speak to the success of building your fan base and everything on tour as opposed to the Internet?

K: I think it’s very old-school, right, to hit the road and expect something good to happen? I think I’m super lucky with the support looks that I’ve gotten. Looking back, James Vincent McMorrow has this built-in fan base everywhere he goes, he can sell out any room he wants with no radio play at all. He’s just now getting radio play on certain alternative stations, which is great for him. Then X Ambassadors, I went on their tour just as their one song was going really viral off the car [commercial]. Less than a year after touring with them, they have a song that’s [in] the Hot 100 with “Unsteady.” Then Alessia Cara, same thing, like “Here” was obviously a viral success and was already going on radio when it hit number one on pop radio when we were on tour. But then, right after that tour, she really kicked off and had the craziest year. I think that the looks that I’ve gotten in terms of opening has given me the opportunity – I like to joke about it – to steal everybody’s fans, but James Vincent McMorrow put it really honestly, he’s like ‘if you make good music, then the fans that come to shows, they come to shows because they want to see good music played live, and you can do these same rooms probably on your own after a few more tours.’ It’s kind of proven his point, like I played Lincoln Hall with X Ambassadors and I played Music Hall Williamsburg with X Ambassadors, and it’s the first of three just about a year ago and now I’m coming back and we sold it out. It’s crazy to think about that and, not for nothing, but Ryan Adams is in the basement [of World Cafe Live] tonight…I’m freaking out a little bit.

R: [*Laughs*] I did not know that.

K: Yeah, I got really lucky with the opening looks that I got and then Spotify has been very helpful and other streamers have been very helpful in their support and that’s how we consume music. We don’t buy CDs anymore, we don’t buy records as much. There’s still the novelty experience of getting vinyl and that’s obviously on an uptick, which is really refreshing. Record Store Day is cool and all that, but [*knocks on wood*], fortunately, live music has been something that I’ve been very lucky to benefit from and merch has been something that has been pretty cool, you know, I mean I’m wearing my own damn stuff. I work with the same designer on everything. We try to be really creative with lyrics and what we want to plug and what would be good for someone to just buy in a store anyway. Without really having a label, without having that sort of team to develop that in my career yet and no real marketing plan, it’s been cool to see people just coming for the songs. This isn’t a big production, obviously. It’s not anything with big lights or smoke and mirrors or DJ or whatever. And I’m certainly not crushing it on the charts or anything – maybe one day – but it’s cool to see. I didn’t expect any of the shows to sell out to be honest.Image result for kevin garrett

R: Quite a few of them have, right?

K: Yeah, I think almost all of them, like 19 out of 22 or something.

R: Wow that’s crazy, congratulations.

K: Thanks, man.

R: So then the last thing I want to ask then because you kind of touched on it, with CDs and vinyl, things like that, do you think you’re going to save that for the [full-length]? Because you did have CDs of the last EP, but [the “False Hope” EP] you don’t have right now [on CD]. Do you think you’re going to do that with the full-length album or are you sticking with the Chance the Rapper digital-only-type deal?

K: No, I don’t think it was by design, we just didn’t have enough time. The EP dropped on the third [of February] and I was already on tour and I wanted to make CDs, but the cool thing about the way I tour is that this is the first time I’ve brought a front-of-house and also tour manager, Ethan. Up until that point, I was always doing my own stuff. But even with [Ethan], there’s still, like, a million jobs that I’m a part of and just trying to stay healthy and everything and [making CDs] just wasn’t something that made it to the top of the list. I just announced some dates with Mumford & Sons and they were actually coming back to BB&T Pavilion, I think on the 25th of May or something, so we might have CDs by then. My dream goal is if I do a third EP to treat it like The Weeknd’s “Trilogy” thing and just put together as one big vinyl or some project. That’s super, way thinking down the road, it’s just my vision speaking for itself. But I’m happy with the way things have turned out with the tour and the project and the way it was created super on my own is something that I’m proud of, especially [with] the way I feel about everything right now.

R: Yeah, and the songwriting for Beyoncé and cosigns by Katy Perry and Sam Smith, it’s been a huge few years for you.

K: Yeah, Katy Perry I was at SXSW when that happened and her friend, I think, had seen me at South-By that year and I guess sent some music her way and Katy tweeted it out. It’s kind of funny because it was just like a random bike covered in snow on the tweet and then just a link to the song and everyone’s like, ‘who the hell is this?’ And then Sam tweeted about when I was in a parking lot in Des Moines, Iowa throwing a frisbee with my two guys in my band. Because, like I said, up until this tour, any other tour that I’ve been on, it’s just been me and the two other people in my band. I had to take a seat out to fit the drums in the Toyota Highlander – very DIY. Those people playing those songs and giving me that kind of support has been really cool. Those people that high up, knowing that they’re still just honest music fans is refreshing, especially someone like Beyoncé who is in her own league of legends.

You can check out Kevin’s EP “False Hope” below:

*This interview has been modified and edited from its original version for clarity.

Meshuggah Is Coming To Tear Philly Apart

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— by Ebonie Butler

What’s up, ‘KDU kids?  Ebonie from Metal & Coffee here. If you haven’t heard already, Sweden’s finest Meshuggah are set to stop by the Trocadero Theatre on November 4th to wreck havoc on your not-so-innocent eardrums. These extreme metalists have been around since 1987 so if you are a metalhead and have not heard of them, that’d be kind of strange. But for the not-so-familiar and generally willing to have their cherry obliterated… here’s the scoop.

Meshuggah just released their 8th full-length album, The Violent Sleep of Reason, on Nuclear Blast records and they remain closely honed into the intensity and chaos that alone pioneered the djent-ish standard of mainstream metal today.

The first album I heard by them was Catch Thirtythree (yeah, I know. Late to the party) and opening track ‘Autonomy Lost’ threw me into an instant love affair with machinic prog-metal.  

Not to mention that High On Fire is supporting them on this tour… a lineup that has caused many metalheads to climax simply off the thought.

So make sure to get your ticket for the show here and I promise you that you won’t be disappointed.

And listen into Metal & Coffee [+ other metal shows] for a ticket giveaway!

Extreme Heaviness: Gojira Slays the E-Factory This Thursday

Hailing from Bayonne, France, Gojira have been busy laying waste to Japanese cities and casual listeners the world over for the past 16 years and will do the same to the E-Factory Sept 22nd.

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— By Jon Galuchie

Hailing from Bayonne, France, Gojira have been busy laying waste to Japanese cities and casual listeners of the world over for the past 16 years (check out crowd-favorite “The Heaviest Matter Of The Universe”).   Their trademark blend of metal is captivating, fierce, and ultimately comes out head and shoulders above the other bands in the pit with a sound all their own.  When it comes to the live show, the energy is felt through the crowd and each song has undeniable heft.  I had the pleasure of catching them when they toured in support of the mighty Mastodon and (if I’m being honest) they stole the show.  The audience and the band were on the same page and there was all the headbanging and moshpits that a metalhead could ask for.

 

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They recently released their new album Magma on back in June on Roadrunner Records.  Check out the newest single “Silvera” and get back to me.  It showcases the band honing in on their unique songwriting and masterful song structure and development–all in less than four minutes.

 Gojira will be stopping by to slay the Electric Factory with support from Tesseract on September 22.  Highly recommended show.

WKDU’s Patrick Magee Releases Massive “Absolve U” Compilation

Absolve U cover

One of Drexel’s own students has united the biggest names in vaporwave and electronic netlabels for a limited edition cassette compilation. Patrick Magee, of WKDU’s “The Stardust Revue”, created this compilation with the intention of giving well known artists in the community an outlet to make music without the pressure of scene politics. Following recent tensions between “hardvapour” and “traditional” vaporwave fans, “Absolve U” brings together artists known for funky sample based jams like Luxury Elite, as well as drum ‘n bass paced tunes from DJ Alina and Blank Body.

“I’m glad that people like what I’ve put out. After working for so long, though, I want people to know I can do more than just samples,” says James Webster, a Philadelphia based artist who contributed two tracks to the tape. After a monstrously successful 2015 that saw death’s dynamic shroud.wmv gain attention from press and fans alike for moving vaporwave in a new direction, James says he wants to keep making music he enjoys, independent of scene politics.  “I’m glad that project was successful, and we did what we came to do, but I’m not sure any of us are going to be chopping up k-pop samples again in the near future.”

Patrick Magee also curated “Absolve U” with emerging talents in mind, and two of the most impressive tracks on the compilation come from newcomers PowerPCME and Location Services (a side project of Magic Fades). “It was impressive, because everyone had their own unique sound but the sum of their parts came together like puzzle pieces,” Patrick said of the curatorial process.

“Absolve U” is available now on Bandcamp as a limited edition, handmade cassette as well as a digital download.

Interview: Evan Weiss of Into It. Over It.

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One of our new DJs, James Friszell, caught up with Evan after Into It. Over It.’s recent show with TWIABP, The Sidekicks, and Pinegrove at the TLA last month.


James: What are your favorite record stores and venues in Philly?

Evan: I used to work at Long in the Tooth, which is at 21st and Sansom. That’s one of my favorite record stores in the world. I actually really like Repo, I just went there before here. I just played at creep earlier today, so I was there already. As far as venues, I really liked going to shows, I didn’t do it a lot, but I really liked going to shows at the North Star Bar. I feel like the North Star Bar sounds really good. I love the First Unitarian Church. I probably saw every one of my favorite bands ever play in that room, and also bands that you would never see play in a room that size ever again. Like I saw Explosions in the Sky in there, and Arcade Fire in there, and like f*cking Sigur Ros in there. But also got to see like Dillinger Four in there and Orchid, and Reiner Maria, or f*cking Braid and Getup Kids. Any one of those bands I’ve seen play in that room, I used to go there all the time. Now, I love Union Transfer, although that didn’t exist until really around the time I moved. And I mean I have a soft spot for the TLA and the Trocadero, because I saw so many shows there, that were like, my first shows ever. Philly is a great city. It’s got a really good music scene, now especially, more than ever, and yeah, I’m really fortunate to be a part of it.

J: What prompted you to go into the woods to write?

E: A big part of it was that Josh and I had never really made a record before. We’d never written before, so he’s been in the band for a couple of years, but we hadn’t written any new material together. We kind of started writing in Chicago, but we hadn’t really learned how to communicate creatively yet, and that’s a big process. That takes a while, you know, to really find your groove and find your comfort level, find the language that really creates the best material. So we’d worked on some stuff in Chicago, and it was cool, but it didn’t really feel fluid yet. We were trying to figure out a way that we could maybe find our focus, find our rhythm, and feel more comfortable. We were just spit-balling ideas about how we could write, or block off time- get the best use of our time, and the idea of going to a cabin was what came up. So we agreed that that was a really good idea. It was something that we wanted to do anyway, like that’s awesome, make a retreat out of writing which is really fortunate, and so we played a show in Vermont, in Burlington, and we fell in love with it. Like this would be the place to do it. We love the city, we love the landscape, we love the people here, everyone was really friendly. We got to the end of the night. We were settling the show, and the promoter of the show asked what we thought of Vermont. We told him that we were like, “Man we want to write a record here, this is great”. And he told us that day he had just closed on the property to have a place where bands could work on music, and so it just seemed really serendipitous, perfect timing, and we were the first band to use the space. It was great. We didn’t want to leave. It was over and we still wanted to stay, which is creeping because going into it we were kind of like “man, are we going to lose our minds”. It wasn’t like The Shining at all, it was really really cool.

J: When you were writing this, in the woods, did you feel like there was a different atmosphere about writing?

E: Yeah, it was full, panoramic windows in the cabin. So we’re looking outside, and there’s a blizzard, and it’s overlooking a lake, and a mountain, and there’s no houses for two miles. You see chimneys in the distance. So, it’s this beautiful panoramic scene, and we’re writing in the middle of it, but it was so cold outside, like negative 20 or negative 30 degrees, that we didn’t really want to interact with it. But being able to work and write and have this scenery next to us happening, made the whole experience much more pleasant and kept our mood at a pretty even keel. We were very relaxed- it was a very serene environment. It was great. People were like, “Oh yeah a cabin” and they think it’s like this dark, dreary, and it’s not. It was like one of those places on a B&B website and you look, and you’re like “who finds that place to stay in”. It was a place like that, a really really nice place.

J: That’s incredible that you got the chance to use that.

E: Oh yeah. It was a good portion of the recording budget to go and write the record there, but it was worth it, because I think it really helped us write better songs.

J: You used a different producer for this album, right?

E: John Vanderslice, yeah.

J: When you were writing, did you know you were going to be recording it analog?

E: No, I had a list of choices of people who I wanted to make a record with, and John wasn’t even on the list. He wasn’t even on my radar really. I was a fan of his music and a fan of his, but like I hadn’t thought about him. We had asked a couple people, the people who were on the list, about doing the record and nobody could do it, or the budget wasn’t enough. There were different reasons why it couldn’t work out, but multiple people on my list had, independently of each other, referred me to John. So after hearing like three or four people tell me to go to John I was like, “Man I gotta call this guy”. I called John and immediately we super got along, immediately knew what we were going for, knew what our sound was like, really liked the demos, you know? He was excited to work on it, like he wanted to work on it. And then at the end of the call I had figured out, I was like, “John’s the guy, I can’t wait”. He gets to the end of the call and he’s like, “Oh yeah, were making it to tape, you don’t have a choice. If you want to do a record, it has to be to tape”. And so I was like, “Uhhhhhhhhhh, I gotta call you back”. I had to talk to Josh and the people in the camp and be like, “is this a bad idea”. But I wanted to hire him. He was the right guy. I’m glad it all worked out. He assured us that we’d feel comfortable and that we wouldn’t even notice that it was being made to tape, and he was right. He was absolutely right. We never even noticed. It was just as comfortable as working on a computer.

J: Was that your first time going all analog?

E: Not my first time in a band, but my first time with Into It. Over It. Their/They’re/There had done it, but we just played live. That’s just us doing a performance.

J: Is production something you want to start taking more seriously?

E: It’s something I’ve always wanted to take more seriously. I’d much rather be making records than going on the road, that’s my favorite thing to do as far as being a musician. Making records, then writing, then touring, and then practicing. I feel like those are the four big things you would do if you were in a band. But yeah, making records is absolutely my favorite thing- I’d love to be doing that more than anything, but I understand that there are certain things that you have to do, not “have to do”, but should do to further the status of the things you’re working on. Like for Into It. Over It., Into It. Over It. should go on tour. And I love going on tour. The hour that we spend playing on stage is the most fun I have in my entire life. But as far as creative satisfaction- to me records are what outlives the person. When I’m dead and gone no one is going to remember the show, they’re going to remember the album. Or they will remember the show, but those memories fade with time. Whereas with the album you can continue to put on and enjoy- new people can still find that. So for me that’s the most important part of the process because that’s the part that will outlive everything.

J: How do you look at Standards now that you’re done with it?

E: It’s the best record I’ve ever done.

J: Really?

E: Without any hesitation, without any second guessing, it is the most fully formed, well performed, honest representation of Into It. Over It. that exists. They’re my favorite songs. The process was the most fun. The making of the record was the most fun. I listen to it, it doesn’t feel juvenile. It doesn’t feel rushed. My memories attached to it are all really positive. And I just think the song writing is better. I know people have a youthful attachment to Proper. When I listen to those songs it sounds phony to me sometimes. Like I love those songs, but that’s me at 25, and to me it sounds like me at 25. And to me, the songs don’t hold up in the same way that even Intersections holds up, or even f*ckin’ most of 52 weeks holds up, I think, a little bit better than Proper. And the Proper recording process wasn’t very fun. We had like 14 days, it was very fast. I was out of my mind, so much of it was thrown together at the last minute. When it comes to something that I feel very proud of, and when it’s over and said and done I can feel like “this is what I wanted to be doing and where it should be”, that’s this record. You’re asking that question like you don’t think it’s the best one.

J: I absolutely think this is your best record. *laughs* I was trying to hold back bias.

E: Good. *Chuckles warmly* If I was making records and I didn’t think the newest one was the best one, or I didn’t feel like I was making the forwards progress to continue to do things that not only make me happier as a musician, but also are me growing as a musician then I would quit. There’s no reason to keep going if I can’t at least expand in some way. Like it wouldn’t be a step backwards for me to go back to making a record on a computer, but there would have to be in the process that would further me as a player, or expand on a sonic palette that I haven’t explored yet. There’d have to be a change. It’s funny with Into It. Over It. because none of the records sound the same, but I think there’s something that kind of ties all of them together. So people that are fans of the music that I write can find something in every album that they really like, but they’re not going to get the same record twice. The reason why is because I already did that. You don’t want to hear me make the same thing again. If I made the same thing again you’d be like “well this just sounds like the last record”. Every single record has been received initially with a level of “huh”, like a tilt of the head a little bit. At first it’s like “oh I don’t get it”. Then 2 years later when everyone has had time to sit with it, that’s when everyone is like, “oh, yeaaaaah”. I put Intersections out and everyone is like, “DOESN’T SOUND LIKE PROPER”, and then I put this record out and it’s like, “DOESN’T SOUND LIKE INTERSECTIONS”, and I’m just like, “…what”. And I mean, the next one’s not going to sound like Standards- there’ll be elements of it, just like there are slight elements of every record in every record. It’ll sound like something totally new. For me that’s how I’m satisfied creatively- keep pushing myself and keep pushing people around me.

J: Do you think you want to start writing with a full band?

E: I think I’m ready to start bringing more and more people into the fold. That was a big learning experience with this record, allowing John a lot of control. I had never been able to do that before. I wasn’t able to give Ed the control that I think he should’ve had. I wasn’t able to give Brian Deck the kind of control that I feel like he should’ve had. Brian tried to talk me down on a lot of scenarios and I was like, “NO! NO-NO-NO-NO-NO”, and I was, you know, being a baby about it. But this time I kind of let John take the wheel 90% of the time and it really hit off. I’m beginning to trust other people with this a lot more, and I’m having a lot more fun bouncing ideas off of other people a lot more. That confidence I think is going to play into adding other people into the writing process in the future.