Front 242 Bring The Beats Back To L.A.

FRONT 242

FRONT 242 play the Regent Sep 27; photo James Christopher

Front 242 return to SoCal as part of the Cold Waves Festival, appearing at The Regent Theatre with Severed Heads, Romy, and Das Bunker DJs Sep.27.

This is a must-see for longtime fans of industrial music. Front 242 always put on a great, energetic, show and Severed Heads is also a rarity in Los Angeles.

“Los Angeles is a particular place which has always had a strong ‘dark’ community,” said long-time member, Patrick Codenys. “To me, it is such a contradiction to the image most people have of the city: cinema, plastic body culture, glam and fake, etc.

“As a matter of fact, there is a real creative underground scene far from those stereotypes. You just need to know where to look to enjoy it.”

Although the band no longer tours, they enjoy working with people who are willing to bring them to the U.S. under good conditions.
“This allows us a more relaxing time and even a chance to meet fans and friends,” Codenys said.

Their live performance will consist of playing a sort of “best of” set with the classics. While some versions of the songs have been changed and modernized, each will be represented graphically.

“Sound-wise we are back to analogue sounds, close to our early albums,” Codenys said. “The new technology allows us to be more sharp and precise with our sound without betraying the spirit of the time. The show remains purely physical with projections and clips for each song. Bringing back the aesthetic of the 242 album covers and imaginary world. We worked close with people to design the graphics and stage costumes.”

Front 242 began creating their brand of pre-computer electronic music in Belgium in the mid-80’s. This meant finding creative ways to recreate music live that sometimes lead to unexpected mishaps while performing.

“In the very early 80’s, sequencers were not stable and any variation in the electric stream could make you lose your programming,” Codenys said.

“Also, clubs in the U.S. have a tradition of rock/jazz/country/blues bands and were not ready for electronic music. People working in a club would say, ‘Place your drum on the riser.’ We would answer, ‘We have no drums.’ Then they would show us where we could place our guitar stack and we would say, ‘We have no guitar.’ Finally they would say, ‘You are not a band.’ It was very difficult to change the mentalities at the time.”

When Front 242 first started to use samples, soundtracks, speeches, etc. they weren’t copyright-protected like they are now. They would use tape recorders to align the voices onto a track.

“Around the 90’s we needed to ‘mask’ the origin of our vocal samples by using effects, cuts, plugs, etc.,” Codenys said. “As for the sound samples, we always designed our own sounds – sometimes sampling synth sounds to restructure, filter and reshape into a sampler.”
For example, the track “Welcome To Paradise” includes lines of sampled lyrics such as, “Hey poor, you don’t need to be poor anymore. Jesus is here (don’t tell the devil).”

“‘Welcome to Paradise’ is an ambiguous track as some people took it first degree and others found it cynical,” Codenys said. “Of course, it is more of a joke if you listen to the message; but what is the real interest of that song is the way words are singing. We started from that preacher’s speech/singing and built the track around it. Generally, it goes the other way around, first music then lyrics.”

Today, as in times past, a live Front 242 performance is a way for them to experiment with all the facets of their music through mixing different technologies.

“But what remains the most important is the emotional communion that we experience with our audience during the show,” Codenys said.

Ian Hunter & The Rant Band Rock SoCal Twice

IAN HUNTER & THE RANT BAND

IAN HUNTER & THE RANT BAND play Teragram Ballroom Sep 12 and The Coach House Sep 13; press photo

Ian Hunter, the once glam rocker of Mott the Hoople who evolved into a phenomenal solo artist penning radio hits such as “Cleveland Rocks” and “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”, continues to tour and write interesting albums such as last years’ Fingers Crossed.

He will be performing with The Rant Band at Teragram Ballroom Sep. 12 and The Coach House Sep. 13, a venue he has played a few times including when he and Mick Ronson played after a week-long stint recording 1979’s live album Welcome To the Club at The Roxy.
The group has put together an amalgamation of songs covering 48 years of music to perform.

“You’ve got to please the casuals that means you’ve got to do a bit of the old stuff,” Hunter explained. “Then you’ve got to please the other half that means you’ve got to do a bit of the stuff no one’s heard, then you’ve got to do some solo stuff. And it all sort of melds in somehow.”

Naturally there should be a couple of songs from Fingers Crossed such as the recently released single, “Ghost” that has a delightfully soulful chorus complimenting Hunter’s rough around the edges vocals. As well as “Dandy” which is a nod to David Bowie who passed while Hunter was having difficulty writing a completely different song called “Lady” that he turned into “Dandy”.

“I only knew him for about a year that was around the Hunky Dory, Ziggy period,” Hunter recalled. “I kind of wrote the song from a fan’s point of view from that period.

“Because when he came in, everything was kind of drab, it was kind of like watching a black and white movie. Then, all of a sudden, David came in and everything went technicolor.”

One of the lyrics, “the last bus home” shows up throughout the song and refers to the end of a good night out.

“We used to go and see gigs and they were magic then you would come out and you really didn’t like your own existence,” Hunter chuckled. “It’s the same as when you came out of a movie and it’s ‘oh Jesus, here I am again’. That’s the whole idea of it.”

Not one to write and tour at the same time, Hunter prefers to focus on one or the other. He’s been touring since last year on the recent record and will most likely begin writing the next one in January.

“I just write when I want to make a new record,” Hunter noted. “I’m not one of those people, I can’t really work on the next one when I’m on the road. If I started on it now, it would be a bit dated by the time I did it.”

Being a rhythm guitarist and not a lead guitarist, Hunter prefers Martins, but also uses Gibsons and RainSongs.

“I have two other guitar players in the band so I stay acoustic,” Hunter said. “RainSongs is kind of a unique guitar because it’s not wood so it has a little edge to it. It’s kind of like halfway between an acoustic and an electric. I use it for open tuning.”

He keeps some of his guitars in Europe and some in the States so he doesn’t have to deal with transporting them as often.

“When we depart here, we go to Germany, then England and you don’t want to be carting stuff all over the place so we generally leave stuff in different countries,” Hunter explained. “You can pick them up when you’re there and it saves a lot of aggravation on the plane.
“It’s something you learn over the years. I never would have thought of it years ago.”

Something else he has learned over the years is that you have quite an advantage if you are passionate about what you choose to do in life.

“And if music’s your passion, more luck to you, but get a lawyer,” Hunter laughed. “If you haven’t got one in the family, get one.

“Usually with musicians, one side of the brain’s not working. They need somebody to compensate for the side of the brain that’s not working.

“I mean, I could never understand at school why you had to be good at arts and sciences. Usually you find arts people aren’t very good at math and vice versa.”

One other thing he laughingly mentioned he’s picked up over the years is that he likes to have a drink prior to going on stage.

“It’s a ritual that starts about 30 minutes before we go on. It gets you in the mood.”

Chameleons Vox Return To Perform Script Of The Bridge In Full

 CHAMELEONS VOX

CHAMELEONS VOX play Echoplex Sep. 10; press photo

The Chameleons singer/bassist, Mark Burgess will perform the seminal 80’s album Script Of The Bridge under the guise of Chameleons Vox at The Echoplex on Sep. 10.

For long-time Chameleon’s fans, this is a do-not-miss evening of cherished songs such as “Less Than Human,” “Don’t Fall” and “Second Skin” to be performed by the man who penned them.

In the early 80’s UK music scene, The Chameleons were critically compared to the likes of The Cure and Joy Division. But as time has shown, their unique sound and thought-provoking lyrics stand on their own merits.

Concert Guide Live asked Burgess to talk about the early days of the debut album, the importance of a good shower and the upcoming live dates.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: What do you like about playing in SoCal?
MARK BURGESS: I’ve always enjoyed California, north and south, both performing and hanging out. I’ve always had a terrifically warm response, not just with Chameleons but with all the projects I’ve brought there. For me it’s always been a fresh and progressive environment. I find it very stimulating. San Francisco has long been one of my most favourite cities in the world.

CGL: What is it like to perform the first album, Script Of The Bridge in its entirety?
MB: We enjoy it for the most part, although I do still find it strange because an album’s running order is a very different dynamic from a live show. Our albums, especially Script, lend themselves well to it though because they were conceived like a journey from A-to-B, a beginning, a middle, an end with the pace of the songs a factor.

CGL: Why were the songs “Here Today,” “Less Than Human,” “Paper Tigers” and “View from a Hill” omitted in the original U.S. version? Will you be performing them?
MB: Yeah, we’ll be performing the album as it was meant to be heard. The cut version was nothing to do with us, that decision was made by MCA Records in the U.S. without any consultation or consent from the band. We were very, very upset by it.

CGL: Do you find it challenging to “connect” with a song in the same way when you’re singing and playing bass as opposed to just singing and being front man?
MB: No, not at all, because it’s the most natural way for me to perform. It was good from a vocals point-of-view to focus on that for a while, and, besides, my mate Ray was in the band and was a bass player and initially I didn’t want to see him go; eventually though I had to, because I was keen to get back to playing the music with the feel it was meant to have. That was sad for me, but it was either that or leave the band and start another.

CGL: What continues to stick out in your mind when you think back to recording this album?
MB: I think it was just the great time that we had doing it. I mean we should have been really depressed, I suppose. Steve Lillywhite had passed on producing it, CBS had fired us and we were, to all intents and purposes, right back where we started, but we weren’t at all. We were making the record we wanted to make with no compromises. Ideas were flying around, we were laughing a lot and making a great record and we all felt it. I think it was the best time to be in the band on reflection.

CGL: Working with producer Colin Richardson seems like an interesting choice since he is mostly associated with heavy metal music, but, oddly, he seems to have had a real affinity for The Chameleons. What was it like working together and how did this relationship come about?
MB: Well, Colin was the resident engineer at Cargo so we’d worked with him on nearly all the demos we’d recorded there. He liked the band and the music so it was just a natural choice. He understood the music and how we worked and we admired him for the same reasons. At the time he worked on whatever came through the studio. He wasn’t known for any one particular genre, just known for being a very good engineer.

CGL: The Chameleons popularity has grown over the years far beyond any commercial success the band achieved during its initial run. Are you ever surprised at the acclaimed status your music has taken on?
MB: Yeah, I mean it was a surprise. I was more aware than the others I think because I was the first to get on to the Internet when hardly anyone else even knew what it was back in the early 90’s. I found a mailing list run out of Berkeley and an ftp site with my lyrics, gig fliers and stuff. That was a pleasant surprise. Then later with various re-releases and then the huge reaction to the reformation gigs in 2000; but at the time I never honestly imagined people would want to hear me perform this material some 30 years later or whatever. I didn’t envision that at all.

CGL: As a final question, do you have any pre-show routines/rituals?
MB: I need to take a good shower before a show. I mean, I start the working day with one, usually in a hotel or motel, but the pre-show shower is something different. It’s nothing to do with hygiene, it just helps clear my mind and feel fresh for the stage. Some of the smaller venues don’t have them of course and quite often it’s a mad dash across town or whatever to wherever I’m staying so I can do it. I get quite grumpy if I can’t take a shower before a show.

Sing-Along With The Dead Daisies

THE DEAD DAISIES

THE DEAD DAISIES; press photo

The Dead Daisies, a virtual cornucopia of musicians from 70s and 80s rock bands, are finally peddling their songs with headlining shows around the U.S. stopping at El Rey Theatre Aug. 25 and House of Blues/San Diego Aug. 26.

Founded by songwriter / guitarist David Lowy in 2012, the musical collective currently includes vocalist John Corabi (Mötley Crüe / Union), bassist Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy / Whitesnake), drummer Brian Tichy (Whitesnake / Billy Idol) and lead guitarist Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake / Dio).

Although the inspiration for the band name may seem a bit morbid, (it came about when the original lead singer discovered he had heart issues and a doctor said, “you got to start taking care of yourself or you’re gonna be pushing up daisies”), the music and live show are all about having fun.

“The thing is, when you listen to a studio record you check out the songs and it’s all about the songs,” Aldrich reasoned. “But, when you hear a live record you really get to know the personality of the band behind the songs.

“We have a lot of fun and that’s what our show is all about, having fun together with the audience, the people involved in the show, singing with us. We definitely have a lot of interaction with the crowd. It’s fun.”

THE DEAD DAISIES

THE DEAD DAISIES; press photo

As the newest member of the group, joining a year ago, Aldrich hit the ground running contributing to both a studio album and a live album, while also playing over 100 shows around the world.

“We jumped right into writing the last studio record and then we toured a lot last year,” Aldrich said.

“While we were on tour it got to the point where we were just really kind of firing on all cylinders and decided to record and then ultimately release the live stuff. So, it’s been a whirlwind but it’s good.”

The band co-wrote Make Some Noise together, something Aldrich discovered he really enjoys. As a member of Whitesnake, he and David Coverdale wrote over 30 songs together, spending weeks coming up with stuff and making decisions before giving it to the rest of the band.

“But it’s actually easier when you have five people together plus a producer,” Aldrich admits. “Everyone has a vested interest in the musical ideas so everyone puts their best forth and then the producer basically says, ‘I like this, this, this and this…’

“When there’s more people involved and everyone is interested in it and everyone is part of the band it makes for a good product.”

The live setlist primarily features songs that were penned once Aldrich joined the group but, there are a couple of songs from Revolucion and a song from the self-titled debut album which originally featured Slash, as well as a few rock-n-roll covers.

One of Aldrich’s favorite songs to play live is “The Last Time I Saw the Sun”.

“It’s a song that I do a slide tuning for and it’s just got a good groove to it,” Aldrich noted. “It’s got a nice kind of rock-n-roll sing-along chorus. But I also like “Make Some Noise”, too, because it’s really simple and people definitely respond to it.

“But we basically are supporting the live record. We want people to go away and when they hear the record they go, ‘oh that’s how the night went for me, too. It was a fun, sing-along. I remember the set’.”

The guys in the band were all friends before they started working together and get along great. They hang out together on the road, eat together, joke around a lot, and give each other space when needed.

“Everybody has different things they’re into, for example, Brian Tichy has to find a Starbucks coffee or else it could ruin his day,” Aldrich chuckled. “Fortunately, Starbucks is pretty much everywhere.

“We were in Argentina and for some reason the map on the phone would say there was a Starbucks and we would walk up to it but there wouldn’t be one, it would be some other coffee place. We didn’t want other coffee, we wanted Starbucks.

“So, we kept walking. We walked for miles and miles for probably an hour and a half. I don’t know how many miles, but we walked. We kept getting directions, ‘it’s just around the corner’. Finally, we found it and we took a picture. It was raining and we took a picture of us looking triumphant when we found the Starbucks.”

Be sure to get your tickets and come out to support The Dead Daisies on one of their first headlining shows in the U.S.!

The Alarm Summer In America

THE ALARM

THE ALARM play The Casbah Aug 15, The Coach House Aug 16, The Canyon Aug 17; press photo

The Alarm have been crazy busy in America this summer with a ton of live shows including dates on Vans Warped Tour as well as their own headlining gigs not to mention a new documentary.

“It’s great, we love being on tour and playing our music,” founding member, Mike Peters said. “We’re lucky to be alive and playing music in 2017.”

With a multitude of dates in SoCal such as The Casbah Aug. 15 and The Canyon Aug. 17, it’s The Coach House on Aug 16 that Peters has a great affinity with in Orange County.

“It’s a special place in some ways ‘cause it’s where the last Alarm gig with the original lineup took place,” Peters recalled. “The audiences have come with all the changes that have gone on and rallied round and supported me as a solo artist and have been there for me. It’s a bit of a home away from home.”

This time The Alarm is performing as a full band with Peters’ sons helping the crew with the show and setting up equipment.

“They’re on the summer holidays and they’re both musicians,” Peters mentioned. “They’re having an amazing time. They’re loving it.”

Vans Warped Tour has a certain reputation of bands and genres that at first glance seemed at odds with a group such as The Alarm. However, the audiences have been very receptive and they’ve increased their social media followers.

“It’s been a challenge, of course, but we’re still a modern band and can mix it up,” Peters explained. “It’s breathed a lot of life blood into the group.

THE ALARM

THE ALARM

“Seeing how young bands play and react in modern times has been good for us. It’s never good to re-tread old ground. It’s always great to take up challenges. And I’m sure the Vans Warped Tour will really inform the future of the group and keep us relevant. It keeps us in the modern context which is what we always strive for.”

For a band that first toured America in 1983, creating a 25-minute set out of their huge wealth of music required great discipline.

“It’s a really good opportunity for us to get together and think about how we put our music across and I think we came up with a great set,” Peters said. “We get 11 or 12 songs in, a really good representation of where we came from. It comes over great as far as I’m concerned.”

Peters often refers to a 1976 Sex Pistols concert and hearing “Anarchy in The U.K.” as inspiration for wanting to learn how to make music himself.

“I got a guitar from a guy that my sister was going out with and he showed me how to play a couple of chords and I never looked back,” Peters recalled. “I just played along to records in my bedroom and tried to go see bands when I could.

“I grew up on glam rock – David Bowie, Marc Bolan and TREX, Slade, Sweet, those kind of bands in Britain. And when it became Punk rock it was The Clash, The Pistols, Joy Division, Siouxsie and The Banshees, Buzzcocks. The purest song would be a three-minute punk rock single, that was what I loved the best.”

Today, the songwriting is inspired by his life and what he’s been through. Both Peters and his wife are Cancer survivors and he has been living with leukemia for 21 years.

“Music has kept me strong, kept me one step ahead of the disease and allowed me to become a father and a musician. I have a charity called Love, Hope, Strength, we give a lot back through that to society and like I said, I’m very lucky to be alive and play music in 2017.”

When it comes to the actual songwriting, it’s usually the music that comes before the lyrics. But it’s all jumpstarted by a phrase.

“Somebody says something to you or you read something or hear something and that triggers something in your imagination that makes you want to say something and that becomes the title and then the lyrics flow from there.

“I think after you have a phrase then the music instantly follows. You can hear it all in your imagination straight away just because you’ve given birth to it.”

Following the exposure Peters has enjoyed being around a lot of modern bands and seeing a little bit of what’s going on with the next generation, Concert Guide Live was curious what sort of advice he had for bands starting out today.

“Stay off the internet. Go underground. Do it with posters and aim at your own audience. Don’t try to be global before you become local.
“If you’re gonna make it, you’re gonna make it. Don’t be on the internet a lot. You’re better off staying off the grid. Be punk rock, go underground, you go dark, people will find you.”

Colin Hay And His Band Of Immigrants Embark On SoCal Driving Tour

Colin Hay

COLIN HAY plays Belly Up Jul 19 & 20, The Coach House Jul 21, Wiens Family Cellars Jul 28, Microsoft Theater Jul 29; photo Sebastian Smith

With a string of soon to be sold out shows in and around SoCal, Colin Hay is at the top of his game as a solo artist. Once the lead singer for 80s group Men At Work, well-known for their inescapable song “Down Under”, Hay has continued to sing and write while touring the world.

Check out his witty, tongue-in-cheek replies to questions about social media, his first live performance ever, the poet Robert Burns and more.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: You have a string of dates coming up, hitting the nooks and crannies of SoCal, what do you like about playing here?
COLIN HAY: Well I love living in California, and have been here for almost 30 years, so it’s nice to play at home. And, this is a driving tour. You can drive right to the gig, and wheel your gear in, on the day of the show, instead of having to drive to the airport, and take your shoes off and lift your arms above your head, you know the drill. And, I get to play with my fabulous band of immigrants.

CGL: Was there a specific moment when you realized you wanted to do music and perform it in front of people?
CH: When I was 14 and singing in a band at a local social event, a girl came down the front, and watched me sing. She gave me a curious look of interest. Need I say more?

CGL: What can you recall about your first live performance – and where/when was it?
CH: On the Fairstar ship, on the way from the UK to Australia in June 1967. There was a talent contest, I didn’t win.

CGL: What sort of a setlist will you be playing for the fans?
CH: Old songs, new songs, and those in between.

Colin Hay

Colin Hay; photo Sebastian Smith

CGL: What do you like to do right before you go onstage?
CH: Well, unlike boxers, I like if possible, to have some kind of erotic experience before I go onstage. It rarely happens, but whenever it has, I’ve always had a good show. Failing that, I do some vocal warm ups.

CGL: What are your thoughts on social media and the 21st century in general, regarding the music industry?
CH: Social media is part of everyone’s lives it would seem, and it’s important to have some some kind of relationship with it. I drop in and out, I seem to not have too much time to devote to it personally. I like to daydream a lot, and look at the clouds, the white fluffy ones, as opposed to the one that holds all my digital information.

As far as the music industry is concerned, there are many factions vying for, and trying to figure out how to carve up the somewhat diminished revenues from album sales, digital streaming etc. It remains to be seen, and is still in process. It can be strongly argued that artists and the creators of music are not receiving their fair due, but then again, this could always be argued, right from the beginning of the commercialization of art. We shall see.

CGL: Since you have been a writer for numerous years, I imagine you could come up with an interesting reply to “If you could be anyone other than yourself, living or deceased, who would it be and why?”
CH: Perhaps Robert Burns from Ayrshire, the Scottish poet, who lived at the end of the 1700s, and wrote a vast amount of brilliant poems and songs. He was also loved by a number of women in his full yet short life. Dead at 37.

He was ahead of his time, and to quote a verse from his poem “To a Mouse”
“I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion,
Has broken nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!”

More true today than it ever was.

CGL: As a final question, what other interests do you have outside of music?
CH: Staying alive for as long as possible, certainly for as long as I can remember how to get home.

CGL: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
CH: Not a thing, I think I’ve said enough.

If you don’t already have a ticket get one now for any one of these local shows: Belly Up Jul 19 and Jul 20, The Coach House Jul 21, The Cave Jul 22, Wiens Family Cellars Jul 28, and the Microsoft Theater Jul 29.

Portugal. The Man Rebels For Kicks

PORTUGAL. THE MAN

PORTUGAL. THE MAN play HOB/Anaheim Jul 27, Palladium Jul 29 & 30; photo Maclay Heriot

In a perfect world, Portugal. The Man’s catchy single, “Feel It Still”, would be the song of the summer, blasting out of car radios, iPads, retail playlists, etc. It’s short, sweet, and makes you want to hit “repeat”, kick up your heels and shake your booty.

With six previous albums to draw from as well as music from their latest release Woodstock, you don’t want to miss one of their upcoming SoCal shows – Jul 27 HOB/Anaheim or Jul 30 Hollywood Palladium (Jul 29 at the Palladium is already sold out!)

Woodstock is their long anticipated followup to 2013’s Evil Friends which featured the songs “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” (with Haim on backing vocals) and the title track “Evil Friends” which was prominently used in a Taco Bell commercial.

During this gap between albums, the band wrote tons of songs and tried to make an album called Gloomin + Doomin but they just couldn’t quite put it together. So how did they remedy this situation? They threw it all out and started over!

This time it worked naturally, with John Hill (In the Mountain in the Cloud), Danger Mouse (Evil Friends), Mike D (Everything Cool) and long time collaborator Casey Bates involved. Apparently, the title is a nod to an original 1969 Woodstock ticket stub owned by vocalist John Gourley’s father.

So, pick up the new album, grab a ticket to one of the upcoming shows, and put your dancing shoes on. The Summer 2017 Tour is here!

Just Give In And Check Out Hazel English

hazel english

HAZEL ENGLISH plays Bootleg Theater Jul 19; photo Andy Ortega

Hazel English will stop by Bootleg Theater for one night Jul 17 with a new EP Just Give In / Never Going Home under her wing.

Concert Guide Live reached out to Hazel English prior to her string of SoCal dates in February of this year to find out more about her songwriting, performing and her live band.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: When did you realize you wanted to be a performer and play in front of people?
HAZEL ENGLISH: I think I’ve always wanted to be a performer. I used to be a gymnast and a dancer from a young age so I think there’s always been a part of me that enjoyed performing for people. But it wasn’t until I was about 16 that I actually started to play music for people.

CGL: I believe you were born in Australia, what effect, if any, do you think it had on your music?
HZ: I’m not sure growing up in Australia has really had a strong effect on my music because I’ve always listened to music from other places, mainly British music actually. In Australia there is still a huge influence from the US and the UK when it comes to the music industry.

CGL: Much of your lyrical content is questioning, searching, and full of uncertainty yet the music is dreamy and somewhat relaxing, almost meditative. Is this contradiction a conscious effort or just the way your songwriting works out?
HZ:I don’t really analyze my own songwriting process, I feel like I’m already neurotic enough as it is. Though I do think that in having a dreamier, more mellow vibe, it’s easier to say difficult things without creating a really sad sounding song. I also just prefer to listen to dreamy types of music and I tend to write about what troubles me, so I guess you could say it’s just those two things coming together.

hazel english

Hazel English; photo Andy Ortega

CGL: Do you write both the lyrics and music? Which comes first?
HZ: It’s not a strict rule but I generally come up with a melody and/or chord progression first and then I will find lyrics to fit. Though sometimes it all happens at once and that can feel really magical.

CGL: Who is in your live band, and what do they play?
HZ: David Vieira plays guitar and keys, Eric Sugatan plays bass/synth & Liam O’Neill plays drums. We’re all really close friends, which makes it even more special to me. I feel lucky to have such a great band for the live show.

CGL: Tell me about one of your favorite songs from your EP.
HZ: I would say my favourite song is “Never Going Home”. It was the first song I wrote and recorded for the EP. I had no expectations or pre-meditations so it felt kind of pure in a sense. I wrote it in the studio and we recorded it really fast, so there was no time to second-guess myself.

CGL: What’s next on the horizon for 2017?
HZ: Getting ready to go on my first U.S. headline tour, which I’m really excited about. Also working on some new material which is always fun! I expect it’s going to be a busy year.

CGL: What do you like to do when you’re not playing?
HZ: I love reading sci-fi novels. I just finished reading “Fahrenheit 451” which I’ve heard is a book most people read in high school but I didn’t. I also really enjoy biking if it’s a nice day out.

Pinky Pinky Jump Start The Night

pinky pinky

Anastasia Sanchez of Pinky Pinky; photo James Christopher

Local teens, Pinky Pinky, had fun while remaining serious about playing their music at The Constellation Room. First of two bands on the bill for The Strokes’ Nick Valensi’s current band CRX, Pinky Pinky played to what began as a low-keyed audience of early arrivers. But, as their set progressed, some “whoops” and hollers erupted from the crowd.

It was hard not to admire this young female trio. Bassist Eva Chambers had some low-down, almost bluesy chops that complemented the deep, sultry voice of drummer/vocalist Anastasia Sanchez. Pony-tail flipping back and forth as she beat out the rhythms, her big eyes and captivating smile made it difficult to look away.

pinky pinky

Isabelle Fields of Pinky Pinky; photo James Christopher

But, when guitarist Isabelle Fields would go into one of her many solos, I had to watch and admire the natural skill and her ability not to rush. It made me wonder what records her parents listened to and if it had a subtle influence on her tone and style. A throw-back to early 70s rock guitar, her riffs and rhythms led me to toe-tapping and made the young men near me start dancing to the music.

Looking comfy but natural, two of the band members dressed in retro gas station attendant/car repair mechanic attire. Sanchez work pink jeans with her white short-sleeve shirt that read “California Towing” on the back while Fields wore a blue jumpsuit that had her ready to crawl under a car to begin repairs.

pinky pinky

Eva Chambers of Pinky Pinky; photo James Christopher

When the last song of the short but strong set was announced, the audience responded with a resounding “No!”, followed by genuine thunderous applause.

In fact, the audience managed to stop them from picking up their gear and leaving the stage, insisting they play one more. Looking slightly embarrassed and unsure, they obliged with one more song.

Keep an eye out for Pinky Pinky and watch their musicianship continue to develop and grow. You won’t be disappointed.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Play Around SoCal

BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY

BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY play The Coach House Jul 8; photo James Christopher

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy bring their full ensemble to perform their throwback swing music at The Coach House Jul 7 and The Cave Jul 8. The Coach House has been fortunate to have Big Bad Voodoo Daddy perform on a somewhat regular basis.

“It’s just a fun, old concert venue. It’s been there for a long time. Everybody has played there,” Marhevka said. “The reason we’re able to perform there more often is because we’re a Southern California based band so I think it’s a little easier for us to schedule that in around our touring schedule. You’ll see a lot of great artists play there all the time. It’s one of those fun, classic, American music halls.”

Scotty Morris, guitar/vocals, and Kurt Sodergren, drums formed the nine-piece band in 1993. The rest of the members joined soon after bringing a mix of woodwind instruments, a double bass, and piano to the mix. In the 1990’s they became one of the prominent bands of the swing revival with their combination of jazz, swing and Dixieland music.

Back when Big Bad Voodoo Daddy first started to play live, they were often greeted by stages too small to fit the whole band.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy; photo James Christopher

“Up in San Francisco we used to play Club Deluxe which we couldn’t even fit on at all. So half of the band had to stand on the floor,” Marhevka recalled. “We’ve been so tight on stage it’s been difficult but we always make it happen!”

One of their most notorious singles, “You & Me & the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby)”, was featured in the soundtrack for the film “Swingers”, as well as “I Wan’na Be Like You” and “Go Daddy-O”.

This success led to three albums on Capitol Records, the platinum selling, “Americana Deluxe,” and the follow up albums, “This Beautiful Life,” and “Save My Soul.”

The group recently released a new album Louie, Louie, Louie, their first since 2013’s Christmas album It Feels Like Christmas which features both traditional and original Christmas songs.

“We’ll be doing stuff from all of our albums,” said Marhevka. “We’ll kind of do an eclectic mix of everything.”