GWAR Fight Their Way To California

GWAR

GWAR to destroy HOB/SD Nov. 21 and Fonda Theatre Nov. 22; promo pic

Obnoxious, loud, funny, frightening rock band GWAR may still be AWOL from the Masters Army but you can catch them if you dare at House of Blues/San Diego Nov. 21 and the Fonda Theatre Nov. 22.

“You can expect to get your fucking head chopped off if you get too close to the front row,” Pustulus (guitarist Brent Purgason) invited. “You can expect to be covered in blood and god knows what other bodily fluids … But you can expect to have your fucking sox rocked off, literally.

“What other band are you gonna go see that would show such appreciation for the fans that we expel a lot of bodily fluids on to them? I don’t think other bands would do that for you. We sacrifice life and limb to bring you entertainment. And I doubt you’re going to get that from Nickelback.”

In fact, a memorable good time at one of their shows involved throwing a fan into a barricade.

“Have you ever seen Uncle Phil throw Jazzy Jeff out the fucking door at Fresh Prince Belair?” Pustulus asked. “Well, I got to do that to a guy in Edmonton, Canada during a show and that was pretty fucking cool. I got to Jazzy Jeff him right into the fucking barricade.”

It is well-known that GWAR are not of this world, and were part of the elite fighting force, The Scumdogs, before arriving here on earth.

“We all got frozen in Antarctica during the ice age, but the problem was I was doing some bong rips in the closet and I was trying to hot box it out,” Pustulus admitted. “Everybody else got thawed out and got whisked away to join a rock band, while I got left in there for another 50 years. It sucked but I’m here now so it’s all good.”

Not being very good at doing military stuff, each member of the Maximus Clan earned a reputation as an intergalactic fuck-up.

“Well you know the raping, the pillaging, the constant imbibing of various substances throughout the galaxy, that kind of put a damper on us doing what we’re told,” Pustulus noted. “Self-gratification is one of the things we tend to revel in. Quite frankly that didn’t fit into anybody else’s work schedule.”

Speaking of work, coming to California to play isn’t really what they look forward to doing while here.

“We look forward to just watching the vagrants walk the streets,” Pustulus said. “You know, everything smells like weed out there. Definitely, don’t look forward to the actual performance other than the after party and the getting paid part.”

October saw the release of Blood Of the Gods, the first album since 2013’s Battle Maximus and without founding member/vocalist Oderus (Dave Brockie).

Battle Maximus was a record put out more or less under duress,” Pustulus explained. “It was important to us that we weren’t viewed as something that could falter. I don’t think it was rushed but I think we could have taken more time.

“As for Blood of the Gods we were absolutely not going to rush this record in particular. A lot of times we’re just fighting and kicking and screaming and biting and fucking each other through the album process. People were involved and included the entire time which is not always how this band has functioned in the past.

“We all work together when we’re not fighting or when we’re not stealing each other’s girlfriends or drugs or pawning each other’s TV’s we’re writing great music together.”

But, don’t forget the killing. That’s something else Pustulus likes to talk about. Killing things that you love.

“You know, if you’re going to kill something, the best way to do it is to have it trust you first. So that way when the life is fully drained from it it gives you that look of ‘why?’.

“And plus, you know, if you care for something and you take its life that’s a way to feel emotion. Because when you’re as emotionally de-void as I am at this point in time, you have to do things that make you feel alive. And you know, stuff like that will do it.

“That’s not too dark, is it?”

Ozomatili Bring Their Unique Music Non-Stop

OZOMATLI

OZOMATLI play Canyon Club Nov. 24, The Rose Nov. 25, The Coach House Nov. 26; promo pic

Although you may not have touched a car radio since the introduction of the AUX port, it’s possible to wager that most artists heard on the radio can be placed into a pre-existing genre with ease. However, every once in a while, a band will emerge with a sound that escapes an easy label. They will challenge our preconceived notions of musical genres by blurring the lines between them. Ozomatli, a band that is famous for their mold breaking fusions of culture and genre, are one of those very bands.

While it can be said that they play primarily within the realm of Latin rock, the group has dabbled in nigh every genre you can think of, including salsa, jazz, funk, reggae, and rap. Their songs can (somehow) shift from cumbia to hip hop within seconds, their albums playing out more like a collection of different artists than one borne out of a single group. For decades, the band has been sharing their unique sense of fusion with the world. One that comes paired, appropriately enough, with a focus on activism and political progress.

A quick search will tell you they have long been involved with all manner of activist activity, from performing at protests for immigration and women’s rights, all the way to becoming cultural ambassadors for the U.S. State Department. And so, here is a band that has brought many different genres together, showing us that disparate genres can coexist with one another in the same band and even the same song. I suppose it only makes sense they would try and show us that we can all coexist with each other just as well.

In a recent interview with percussionist and original member, Jiro Yamaguchi, Concert Guide Live digs down to the historical roots of Ozomatli. For those curious about how a band like this could exist, check out our conversation below. And be sure to listen to their new album, Non-Stop: Mexico to Jamaica, a collection of Latin songs rearranged as reggae songs. It’s awesome.

And If you want to experience the magic in person, you have several chances to see them in the SoCal Area: Nov. 24 The Canyon Club, Nov. 25 The Rose, Nov. 26 The Coach House, Dec. 9 Saban Theatre, Dec. 22 and Dec. 23 The Music Box. So, don’t miss out!

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: When did activism become a part of Ozomatli music?
JIRO YAMAGUCHI: When we were just starting out there was this labor dispute going on down at this building which was run by the Los Angeles Conservation Corps. Our bass player was involved in that group and they were fighting for health care and better wages for their job. But in doing so, they got fired from their job, but won the lease to the building. Which is when we came in. It was called the Peace and Justice center. We were just playing music to make money to keep the whole operation going. And then it became this thriving arts community for the youth. There was like skate programs and graffiti art and things like that. So that’s how we got our start. We got asked to do gigs for all different kinds of causes. Whether it was women’s issues, immigration issues, Prop 187. So, we have always been involved.

CGL: What about music makes it an appropriate medium for political discussion and activism?
JY: It’s a vehicle that brings people together. It’s a medium in which you can express ideas. I don’t think our music is overtly political, but we do represent – I think – conclusion, and trying to put different ideas together to see if they work. And they don’t always work.

CGL: Speaking of bringing different ideas together, are there certain band members that bring different genres and cultures to the table? How did your sound form?
JY: It’s funny because when we first started we didn’t have any focus necessarily on any genre, or like, “this is the style of music we’re gonna do.” It’s kinda like the group of people that got together, the people who showed up, whatever their forte’s were, that was what we made music with.

Wil (Wil-Dog Abers/bass) has expertise in reggae, and Cut Chemist is a Dj, and I had been playing tabla in a lot of North Indian classical music. Justin (Poreé /percussion) had a lot of experience with Afro Cuban music, as well as our lead singer (Asdrubel Sierra) who is well versed in Latin music of all different kinds. And so, we just threw everything into the pot and made music from it. It just naturally was that way. Everybody was open enough that they were into exploring whatever kinds of ideas.

CGL: So, it sounds like the band would never have existed if it weren’t for that cultural center.
JY: I mean, I think it’s all pretty important. In a lot of ways, it represents Los Angeles and the blending of different communities and cross pollination of different things. I think we’re pretty unique, but then again, I think there are bands around the world that also infuse different music. But I guess music has always been fusing, whether it’s rock, jazz, reggae. It all feeds and communicates.

CGL: You ventured into children’s territory several times, including the Happy Feet Two videogame soundtrack and Ozokidz. What inspired this shift towards a family oriented style of music?
JY: Well, we realized that some of our fans were getting older. We noticed that they weren’t coming to our shows in the middle of the week, and we were like, “Why is nobody here?” So, we sent that out on our Facebook and said, “Hey we’ll give you tickets, come on down, we’re here.” But then people would respond, “We can’t, it’s a weeknight, we have kids.” So, it was just a realization that “Our fans have families now, let’s make music for them.”

ALBUM REVIEW: Shakra “Snakes And Ladders”

SHAKRA "Snakes & Ladders" cover

SHAKRA “Snakes & Ladders” cover

Snakes and Ladders, the excellent new album from Swiss hard rockers Shakra is their eleventh (!) studio release. Now, after 11 albums many bands might become complacent and be accused of phoning it in. But not Shakra, these guys still sound like they mean it.

Maybe it’s because this is the second release to feature the return of lead vocalist Mark Fox, but they have pulled out all the stops, sounding energized, lean, mean and ready to take on the world with a top-notch collection of hard rockers that almost demand you to pump your fist and bang your head.

SHAKRA

SHAKRA; promo pic

The album kicks off with “Cassandra’s Curse” a dark and brooding rocker that features everything Shakra shines at, namely heavy riffs, a catchy chorus and studio production that makes the music jump out of your speakers.

Title track “Snakes and Ladders” takes off right out of the gate with a melody that wraps itself around your eardrums and never out stays its welcome as it boogies along like a finely made Swiss watch. Featuring a killer guitar solo that manages to be speedy and melodic all at the same time, this track is a real highlight.

Shakra’s new album has been thoughtfully constructed to bring out the best in both their performance and their sound, but without losing any of the energy and excitement that great rock-n-roll demands. This is rock-n-roll that’s turned up to eleven – but with an eye always focused on melody and song craft.

The bottom line is, these songs are so catchy that they almost issue an ultimatum to sing along, and that’s a testament to the quality of song writing on display. The twelve tracks on Snakes and Ladders show a band that has arrived at the party ready to rock and with no intention of taking any prisoners. Highly recommended.

Black Pistol Fire Add Madness To The Good Vibes

BLACK PISTOL FIRE

BLACK PISTOL FIRE play The Constellation Room Nov. 16, Troubadour Nov. 18, The Casbah Nov. 19; photo Charles Regan

Deadbeat Graffiti is the latest release by the wild and stimulating rock duo Black Pistol Fire who will be playing The Constellation Room Nov. 16, Troubadour Nov. 18 and The Casbah Nov. 19. Melodic, and at times soulful, and at times frantic, Black Pistol Fire should be on your radar if they aren’t already.

Concert Guide Live talked to drummer Eric Owen about the California music scene, the new album, the story behind the name and more.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: I imagine you must have played in Southern California before –
ERIC OWEN: We played recently at a semi-private show in Mission Viejo, but it’s been about 2 ½ years since we played a proper show in Southern California. We’re pretty excited to get back.

CGL: What do you look forward to when coming out here to play?
EO: Some of the best music coming out now is happening there – the whole kind of garage, psychedelic scene is pretty amazing. What Burger Records is doing, Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall. A lot of good vibes out there and great music.

CGL: What sort of setlist will you be playing, which songs from the new album?
EO: You know that changes night to night. But the couple that are seemingly getting played every single night would be “Lost Cause” which is the new single, a song called “Bully” and a song called “Speak Of the Devil”. Those three are getting played every single night. And we’ve been rotating a bunch of other ones sort of in and out like “Blue Dream”, “Yet Again”, “Fever Breaks”, and “Eastside Racket”.

CGL: What’s one of your favorite songs to play live?
EO: I like playing “Bully” because it’s got that soft chorus then sort of soft verse then that chorus hits so, so hard. If someone hasn’t heard it before, it might take them by surprise. I like that aspect.

CGL: When did you realize you wanted to be in a band and play in front of people?
EO: I think it was watching music videos as a pre-teen. Seeing bands like Nirvana and Weezer. And then the music station we had in Canada growing up used to play a lot of concerts. Seeing those crowds, the way they reacted to a band was something appealing that I didn’t know if it could ever be possible necessarily, but it was something very attractive and looked like a lot of fun and emotional.

CGL: What do you like to do right before you go onstage; do you get a little nervous?
EO: It depends. If everything is sounding good in soundcheck and if everything’s going well on the technical side of things, that definitely takes away some of the nervousness.

There’s a different feeling, of course, when you’re about to go on as opposed to just practicing. It’s kind of a feeling of excitement. Both Kevin and myself stretch and try to loosen up a bit. It’s a pretty physical show so we try to just be quiet and warm up for the madness that’s about to happen.

CGL: How did the band end up being a duo?
EO: Just over the course of several years, it ended up being a lot of trial and error with different people and us just clicking and working and here we are.

CGL: What’s the story behind the band name?
EO: Years ago, we were trying to figure out a name and Kevin read it somewhere that in firefighting there’s a term called a black fire which means it’s something that can’t be put out. No matter how much water or anything you do, the fire can’t be contained, and you have to let it run its course. It’s kind of a powerful word and image. And then going through a bunch of other words and so on and so forth we eventually went from black fire to black pistol fire. You got a color or shade, a weapon and element. A powerful image there.

CGL: Do the two of you write the songs together or is Kevin (McKeown-guitar/vocals) the primary songwriter?
EO: No, Kevin does the primary, for sure. He is the pilot, the captain, the creative genius behind the whole operation.

CGL: How did you gravitate to playing the drums?
EO: I think it was watching Dave Grohl of Nirvana. And then two of my friends in elementary school – one was playing guitar and the other was playing bass and they didn’t have a drummer. I heard they were jamming and I thought that would be my in. I could try to learn to play the drums and I eventually did. I think we learned three or four songs over the course of a couple of years – they were mostly Nirvana songs and one Stone Temple Pilot song – and probably not done very well. But we learned them any way and that’s how it came to be.

CGL: What is one of the most memorable moments you’ve had while touring?
EO: The one that sticks out most to me is last October in Monterrey, Mexico, there was a pretty big festival and we knew there was going to be a good amount of people there, we thought we had some fans in Mexico.

Then playing the set and seeing the crowd of several thousand people just growing and swelling and having it be crazy by the end. Then to not really be able to go out in the crowd because you’re getting your picture taken. It was just surreal and strange but interesting. Something we hadn’t really felt before or since for that matter. It was a whole different world down there which is cool. It’s pandemonium.

Meat Beat Manifesto Celebrates 30 Year Catalog

MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO

MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO play Cold Waves Festival at Regent Theater Nov. 11; promo pic

Industrial music legend Meat Beat Manifesto will be performing on Day 2 of the first Cold Waves Festival in L.A. along with Revolting Cocks, MC 900 Ft Jesus, Crash Course In Science, Boy Harsher and Not Breathing on Nov. 11 at The Regent Theater.

Original mainstay Jack Dangers has continued to create and evolve musically over the years, but for this performance, he will primarily play a lot of the older stuff.

“Some of the songs I haven’t played live, I’m not gonna say which ones, I’ll let that be a surprise, but some of them we haven’t played on stage for 25 years,” Dangers teased. “I had to get all new video for that. We use a lot of video and samplers live.”

Sampling has always been a part of the music since the beginning, often using spoken word samples from films. So, Dangers went back to the original source films where he got the samples in the first place.

“Like when the technology came up to speed about 12 years ago, you could miniaturize these bits of video into computers and have them to play live – project them,” Dangers explained.

“It’s even more fun being able to go back and get the film and turn that into a video sample and mess with it. You can speed it up, put it in reverse, you can chop through the sample itself. Originally, I would use tape machines and then when samplers became available I would be using those.

“We use the audio as well as the image. That always makes a difference as well rather than just spinning out images.”
For example, in “Helter Skelter” there’s a scream that goes off and on all the way through the song which is from the film “A Clockwork Orange”. It’s from the scene where the main character is experiencing the Ludovico Technique.

“I used that as just an audio sample,” Dangers said. “The Helter Skelter sample is Lydia Lunch. She’s saying that on one of her spoken word records she did back in the 80s.”

Another memorable sample from that song is “it’s in my brain now” which comes from “T.V. Mind” off Big Sexy Land by Revolting Cocks who coincidentally will be performing the album at Cold Waves.

“Maybe I’ll run on stage and have a mic,” Dangers chuckled. “You know Luc Van Acker was the guy who originally did that, so I’d have to run on stage and grab the mic off of him.”

As the song came together it included a bit of Lydia Lunch, a bit of Revolting Cocks and the famous beat from “Hot Pants” by Bobby Bird (produced by James Brown).

“I actually spent a day messing around with that beat making it sound different,” Dangers said. “If you played it next to the original you’d see that I changed it quite a lot.

“At that point, 1989, we didn’t really have the technology like a few years later what you could do with drum and bass and jungle. We’d cut the rhythm track up. So back then I was using different chunks and playing them back a different way and using effects.”

Considering the current political climate, one would think there would be a virtual treasure trove of samples to draw from, but Dangers thinks it’s almost too much and too obvious.

“It’s like this nightmare has happened,” Dangers stated. “I’m more interested in the way that Twitter and Facebook were used to make this all happen. Rather than the usual right-wing talking points and misinformation.

“It’s obvious all the misinformation and fake news that’s put out there by the Russians so Trump would benefit. It wasn’t the other way around. These things always take time to come to the surface.

“This is such a surreal level that I think you could address it in a surreal way more than an obvious in-your-face political stance.”

Impossible Star is a new album ready to be released in 2018 which Dangers has been working on for a couple of years but don’t expect to hear too much of the new stuff played this time around.

“We’re looking to do that next year,” Dangers promised. “We’ll be doing some live shows next year – me and Ben Stokes – that’s the lineup when we play live. The two of us. We use a lot of multi-media, a lot of video.”

Cold Waves Festival has been running in Chicago for a few years, bringing together classic industrial-type artists. It’s unique and thrilling for both fans and musicians alike.

“I’m excited to be playing with the other acts,” Dangers noted. “I’ve always liked Crashed Course In Science and I’m good friends with Not Breathing – worked with them on and off through the years.

“I’ve done some remixes for MC 900ft Jesus – got to see him [Mark Griffin] actually when we played in Dallas last year. He came to the show. That might have been some inspiration for him to get back on the road because we hadn’t been doing it for a while, like him. Not as long as him, though (laughs).”

“And Revolting Cocks – Big Sexy Land was a big album for me when it came out – getting to see that live. It should be a good night. It’s the hottest show in town!”

Indeed.

The Sounds Hang Out For Six In SoCal

the sounds

The Sounds play Observatory/OC Nov.8, Fonda Theatre Nov. 11 & 12, Observatory/S.D. Nov. 14, The Glass House Nov. 16, Pappy’s & Harriet’s Nov. 17; promo pic

The Sounds, an indie rock group from Sweden, shall be gracing Observatory/OC Nov. 8, Fonda Theatre Nov. 11 & 12, Observatory/S.D. Nov. 14, The Glass House Nov. 16 before wrapping up their SoCal appearances at Pappy & Harriet’s Nov. 17.

The group will be celebrating the ten-year anniversary of their most prolific album Dying To Say This To You along with new music from the recently released EP The Tales That We Tell.

With six studio albums and tours since 1998, the band is already known for their entertaining live shows and boast a musical style best described as rock intertwined with a new wave style molded for the 21st century.

THE SOUNDS

THE SOUNDS; promo pic

Concert Guide Live was able to catch up with the group’s drummer Fredrik Blond to get his take on playing packed houses, travelling with his bandmates, and not making future plans.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: What can you discuss regarding your latest album The Tales That We Tell and how does it tie in with your decision to again tour North America?
FREDRIK BLOND: We released the EP over the summer and so far it’s been very well received by our fans.

There’s always a lot of fans asking us to play in California and since we were already heading to Mexico, it seemed like a good idea.

Also, the weather is really awful here [in Sweden] in November so I didn’t need any convincing. I mean, who doesn’t like sunshine and palm trees every once in a while?

CGL: What is it like playing your music in the United States compared with your home country of Sweden?
FB: It’s a little different but not that different. I would say that people here in Sweden tend to not let loose as much when they listen to a Swedish band.

The crowd is always much better if the band or artist is foreign for some reason.

CGL: How did your group first come together and how did you enter the music industry?
FB: The band was started back in 1998 when Felix (Guitar) and Johan (Bass) who had known each other as kids, met up one night and decided that they would form a band. I was asked to join in, and Felix brought Maja (vocals) along from his school.

A year later, we found Jesper at a festival here in Sweden – he was from the same town as us – and he just happened to be really good at keyboards.

We played a lot of shows all over Sweden and after one show in Stockholm we got a publishing deal that later led to a record deal.

CGL: What are your favorite venues you enjoy playing at live at?
FB: Honestly, if the place is packed, then I don’t care. If it’s 200 or 20,000 then I know I’m gonna have a good time.

But if I have to say one place off the top of my head then I would say 9:30 Club in D.C. Great club and all the crew guys there have always been very nice to us over the years.

CGL: How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
FB: Well, I probably wouldn’t. I don’t like talking about myself or what I do that much. I mean have you ever heard an artist give an accurate description of their own music?

But when people press me on it, I usually mumble something like “it’s rock music, but with keyboards added.”

CGL: What musical singers and bands have personally influenced you and your style of music?
FB: Oh, that’s a tough one. I think Nirvana was one of the bands that made me want to be in a band when I was about 15 or so, but you wouldn’t necessarily hear that in our music.

Also, The Clash’s drummer Topper [Headon] was a big influence for me.

CGL: What are some of your more memorable experiences playing your music live?
FB: I think some of the best memories are just hanging out with my band members and our crew and traveling the world together, partying, having a great time and then waking up in a new place every day.

CGL: Beyond your latest album and upcoming North American tour, what other plans does your group have in store for the future?
FB: I think that at the moment we’re in a stage of our lives when we don’t want to make big plans. I mean making plans can certainly be useful at times, but I think personally that the point of life is to live it!

Tom Keifer And His Livewire Rock-N-Roll Come To SoCal

TOM KEIFER

TOM KEIFER plays The Coach House Nov. 12; photo Tammy Vega

High-energy. Dynamic. Fire and brimstone. Visceral. These words help define rock-n-roll, both on and off the stage. Tom Keifer and his band are on course to deliver all of that Nov. 12 at The Coach House.

Keifer sang in the Philly rock group Cinderella, and went on to release a solo album back in 2013 The Way Life Goes. It was a labor of love that took nine years to perfect, and was released to critical acclaim. Unfortunately, some legal trouble caused it to get pulled from the shelf. Simultaneously, Keifer had to have voice surgery which caused delays in touring/recording schedules.

All of that is overwhelming, but a recurring theme in rock-n-roll is perseverance through struggle. And without a doubt, he is a shining example. Keifer fought for and obtained the masters to The Way Life Goes – the deluxe version of the album (with the bonus of a few new tracks) was just released and he is currently on tour in support of it.

Heading to one of his shows, Keifer says to expect “a high-energy, loud screaming rock show; it’s a rock-n-roll show” complete with Cinderella classics as well as the tracks from his solo outing.

“I’ve always really liked playing “Nobody’s Fool” live, that one always feels good to me and I like singing,” Keifer said. “Out of the new stuff, lately we’ve been doing the title track, that one has been fun. There’s a couple there I’ve been having fun with, singing and playing.”

TOM KEIFER

TOM KEIFER and band; photo Tammy Vega

While the album was made over several years, the touring band has remained constant.

“When I started touring the record, it’s pretty much been with the first people that walked in the room the first night,” Keifer explained. “With the exception of this year, we have a new drummer and a new keyboard player, which was our first member change. Much like the first auditions, the two new guys were the first ones who walked in the room. It’s all been pretty effortless, and the chemistry has been great from the get-go.”

This chemistry even continues off-stage.

“On tours I have done before this band, everyone kind of stays to themselves, and watches movies, and there’s lots of distractions of different kinds of entertainment going on,” Keifer divulged. “But honestly with this band, every night we just get together and hang out and talk.”

Being a mainstay of the rock world for over two decades, Keifer has a unique perspective on the ongoing debate over rock being at death’s door.

“That question always comes up, if it’s not in vogue, say in certain media outlets or radio formats, then oh, its dying,” Keifer explained. “But as long as it’s being created, and it’s being enjoyed by the fans and the people out there, then it’s alive.”

Thus, Keifer remains determined as ever to continue bringing rock music to his fans.

“Playing live is my favorite part of what we do, it’s great to get out there and play live and share that moment in the music with the fans,” he remarked.

“I get nervous every night, brother, as long as I’ve been doing this. I love what I do, and I want to be, you know, give it my all every night. My main instrument, being my voice, it’s flesh and blood.”

All in all, Tom Keifer is amped for his dates on the west coast, commenting, “We are out rocking and love seeing everybody at the shows.”

My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult Perform Iconic Wax Trax! Albums

Thrill Kill Kult play Teragram Ballroom Nov. 4 and The Casbah Nov. 5; promo pic

Celebrate 30 years of high energy craziness with My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult (TKK) at 80’s Bar Nov. 3, Teragram Ballroom Nov. 4, and The Casbah Nov. 5. They’ll be performing their first two iconic Wax Trax! albums I See Good Spirits And I See Bad Spirits and Confessions Of A Knife.

Forming in the late 80’s, TKK was one of the early Wax Trax! Label bands alongside Ministry, Front 242, KMFDM, Frontline Assembly and others who were part of the early industrial music scene. However, TKK was also known for their tongue-in-cheek, sometimes hilarious, lyrics and samples and nods to B horror films. Not to mention outrageous live sets and props.

I See Good Spirits And I See Bad Spirits

I See Good Spirits And I See Bad Spirits album cover

Songs such as “A Daisy Chain 4 Satan,” “Sex on Wheelz,” “The Devil Does Drugs,” among several others became alternative radio hits.

Concert Guide Live caught up with founders Groovie Mann and Buzz McCoy on a recent tour and this is what they had to say.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: What do you remember about the first TKK live show?
THRILL KILL KULT: Our first show was a Halloween show at the Riviera in Chicago. Robert Englund aka Freddy Krueger was there to introduce us! We had no idea what we were doing. We put the band together literally within a week or so of the performance and practiced in our drummer’s parent’s basement! The show itself is kind of a blur.

Confessions Of A Knife album cover

CGL: We take the computer for granted now but in the early days, touring must have been quite different. Any particular mishaps or surprises come to mind?
TKK: Our set up remains basically the same. We’ve just replaced the old drum machines and sequencers with a laptop now. A bit less to set up and a lot less midi cables to deal with. Actually, we had more mishaps when we first started using a computer on stage because it would freeze up sometimes. Luckily those days have passed and laptops and associated software are much more reliable now.

CGL: What sort of setlist will you be playing? Do you have a particular song you look forward to playing live?
TKK: It will be a very dance oriented set list, with some remixes thrown in. Our favorite song to play changes nightly, depending upon our mood. Some nights they’re all our favorite, other nights we’re sick of them all!

CGL: Lyrically, do you consciously set out to push the limits, or is it more of a natural process, writing what comes to mind and what you like?
TKK: We don’t consciously set out to push buttons or be provocative. It’s just the way we write.

CGL: Do you have any new favorite B movies from the last few years?
TKK: There was a film called “Sexy Evil Genius” which wrote TKK into the story line and used a couple of our songs. That was cool, and a bit flattering.

CGL: As a final question, do you have any pre-show routines/rituals?
TKK: Besides alcohol? Haha. No. No séance or prayer circles for us.

Twiddle Bring The Jams To Teragram Ballroom

TWIDDLE

TWIDDLE play Teragram Ballroom Oct. 28; photo Jay Blakesberg

Twiddle shall again be gracing California with another appearance at the Teragram Ballroom on Oct. 28 as part of their current tour.

Founded in 2004, Twiddle has remained one of the musical circuit’s most lively groups known for their unique mixture of musical genres and, above all, always striving to relay a constant message through their work.

“Our message is a message of hope and being good to each other and positivity,” exclaims Milhali Savoulidis (lead vocalist / guitarist).

It’s a message that continues to this day and has resulted in the group spawning a fanbase referring to themselves as “Frends”, a nod to “The FRENDS Theme” and the lyric: There Ain’t No I In Frends.

Savoulidis makes up one quarter of the four-man group which first began in the state of Vermont. The foursome, after meeting at Castleton State College, began at the bottom of the music ladder as a simple local band playing at whatever venue would have them.

But though the group did begin in Vermont, they truly began to take shape in California, a place Savoulidis says is part of Twiddle’s roots. It’s a place that’s also “special and refreshing” every time they play there.

“Los Angeles was just one of our favorite places to go visit and hang out in,” Savoulidis said. “We spent a lot of time when we were younger there specifically in Venice.”

The group played at local bars and venues in the area before their perseverance paid off by becoming contracted to the musical label JamFlow Records. They’ve since remained consistently busy, something Savoulidis says helped Twiddle enter the professional circuit to begin with.

“We’ve been touring for the last 12 years consistently, 200+ shows a year. I think it was just through hard work and dedication that got us noticed by the industry to begin with.”

Twiddle remains very proactive, especially at their live showings. The group is noteworthy for its hefty combination of different music styles ranging from reggae, jazz, bluegrass to rock.

Savoulidis owes this quite simply to the unique musical tastes of each member of the band which has helped make Twiddle one of the most prolific jam bands playing today.

“We all came from different musical backgrounds and I think that makes up our sound and I think that’s why it’s so diverse.”

Savoulidis cites Twiddle’s keyboard player Ryan Dempsey’s enjoyment of jazz, specifically Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, as important to Twiddle’s sound and bass player Zdenek Gubb’s love of musicians like Les Claypool being a big contribution to its utilization of rock.

As for Savoulidis, he isn’t shy in revealing his musical tastes that help fuel the band’s unorthodox musical style.

“I grew up really loving reggae and some of the more singer/songwriter stuff like Dave Matthews. Even grunge music was huge for me. Kurt Cobain and Nirvana was a huge influence.”

Their music is also guaranteed to be very different at each live show. This is due to Twiddle’s unique improvisational and free flowing style. Savoulidis and his bandmates hold that any song, no matter how long or short, is open to improvisation once they are added to a setlist.

Savoulidis describes the process as a team effort saying that all songs begin on one specific musical key. Once in play, that’s when things shift into different gears.

“Essentially the keyboard player and the bass player in the band, Zdenek and Ryan, they start to communicate with each other within that key, up a third, down a fifth, whatever. They are creating soundscapes and chord progressions and different moods on the spot that me and the drummer [Brook Jordan] will follow. Or I will lead a jam. It depends on sort of who is leading.”

This extends to their recordings, most notably their two most recent albums PLUMP: Chapter 1 and PLUMP: Chapter 2. They’re Twiddle’s most unique albums due the genuine teamwork put into each one of its songs, something not done on any of their previous albums.

“We all got together and worked on these songs and that is the difference. These are products of all of us putting our heads together.”

The hard work and group-based efforts of Twiddle shall continue past their current tour and albums. Savoulidis promises all manner of upcoming announcements, brand new content and even improving on Twiddle’s vibrant, fluctuating music.

“We’re always looking to try and change what we’re doing on stage and I think in the next year, as always, we’ll evolve the sound a little bit with each year that passes. That’s always exciting.”

For the present though, Savoulidis simply promises live concert goers who attend their upcoming shows are in for a good time.

“You’re going to get great musicianship, a nice message, a nice crowd, and just an overall feel-good environment.”

Sun Worship With Allah-Las

ALLAH-LAS

ALLAH-LAS play Music Box Oct. 18 and The Regent Oct. 21; photo James Christopher

Local scenesters Allah-Las play their unique, psychedelic, dream pop at Music Box Oct. 18 and The Regent Oct. 21. The group is known for playing their interpretation of retro 60s rock a la The Troggs, The Standells and The Grass Roots, full of catchy choruses and guitar hooks.

Now with three albums under their belt, the songwriting continues to evolve while hinting at previous influences. Songs such as “Tell Me What’s On Your Mind” and “Don’t You Forget It” are crowd favorites from their self-titled 2012 debut, while newer tracks “Could Be You” and “Famous Phone Figure” are quickly catching on.

Although notoriously a band of few words, Concert Guide Live managed to get a few words out of them in a previous interview prior to the release of Worship The Sun and this is what they had to say:

CGL: It looks like you have a handful of dates lined up so far this year. What else is in the works?
A-L: We’re working on finishing our second record, new songs etc.

CGL: Is there a particular song the band looks forward to playing live and why?
A-L: Yeah. We have some new ones we’re excited to try out live. See how they change and adapt as we play them for an audience.

CGL: How did everyone in the band meet, did some of you meet while working at Amoeba Records?
A-L: Matt (Correia, drums) Miles (Michaud, vocals/guitar), and Spencer (Dunham, bass) went to high school together in Los Angeles. Later on Matt, Spencer and Pedrum (Siadatian, guitar) all worked together at Amoeba. We had a lot of interest in various types of music back then, working at Amoeba allowed us to spend time digging for more.

CGL: What is everyone listening to these days?
A-L: Aww lots of stuff. The search never ends.

CGL: Working with Nick Waterhouse sure seems to be a good fit for your sound. Do you record your songs then give them to him to produce, or do you all collaborate on the production?
A-L: We always work together. I’m sure it’s annoying for Nick to have to listen to us argue our points on the mix but he’s patient. He’s an amazing producer and a great friend.

CGL: What is the status of a new album?
A-L: Should be coming out on a Tuesday sometime.

CGL: it seems like you play quite a bit and all over the place, any good road
stories you can share?
A-L: Nothing to mention really.

CGL: Is there a particular song the band looks forward to playing live and why?
A-L: Yeah. We have some new ones we’re excited to try out live. See how they change and adapt as we play them for an audience.

CGL: How would you describe Allah-Las to someone who isn’t familiar with your music?
A-L: Aww well. I try my best to avoid it and let people decide. We get some pretty funny comparisons though.