Peter Hook To Play New Order And Joy Division Substance (Flashback 2016)

PETER HOOK

PETER HOOK plays “Substance” at The Wiltern Sep 24; photo James Christopher

Flashback: PETER HOOK / JOY DIVISION / NEW ORDER 2016 interview.

New Order and Joy Division bassist, Peter Hook, returns to SoCal, this time playing The Wiltern Sep. 24 with Peter Hook and The Light. The lengthy set will cover both the Joy Division and New Order albums Substance.

This is a reprint of the Concert Guide Live interview with Peter Hook conducted on a previous tour through SoCal.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: Peter Hook and The Light are in the midst of a pretty massive worldwide tour, what do you like about playing live?
PETER HOOK: I love playing live and I always have done. To me, touring is really exciting because I love to travel and I love to meet fans from all over the world who have been touched by our music. We are touring a lot this year, which is great.

CGL: Who is in the band with you?
PH: The Light is made up of 4 excellent musicians. First we have David Potts on guitar and vocals who first played with me in my side project REVENGE in the early 1990s, and later went on to become my song-writing partner in another band of mine, Monaco. Then on drums and keyboards we have Paul Kehoe and Andy Poole, both of whom were also a part of Monaco. Then to round out the line up we have my son, Jack, playing bass alongside me. I must say with the 2 bass guitars it really creates a unique sound.

CGL: Considering all of the material you can pull from, what is one of your favourite songs to play live?
PH: Off the top of my head, and because we just played it at rehearsals, I would say that “Subculture” is one of my favourites to play live. It showcases the goth-pop aspect of New Order and is also great fun to play because it shines a spotlight on each individual instrument. For example, towards the end there are 2 different live bass lines being played as well as synth bass and a keyboard line, while the guitar remains solid and funky throughout and the drums have a nice, loose feel about them. It is a track from New Order’s third album, “Low-Life.”

CGL: How did it come about that your son took up the bass, as well?
PH: I did not pressure him into doing it, he just began to develop an interest in my bass guitars aged around 11 or 12 and then went from there. I got him his first bass when he was 13 and he developed into a really great bass player.

CGL: When you first went on tour together, what surprised you about him?
PH: When we first went on tour he had never done anything like this before but he took to it really well, which was nice. He was not overawed by the occasion yet also kept his feet on the ground and it is important to find that balance. I am very proud of him and we continue to have a great time.

PETER HOOK

Peter Hook; photo James Christopher

CGL: What was it like when you first decided to take on lead vocal duties?
PH: It was very daunting at first. I had not planned to do it, I just sort of fell into it. But concentrating on the vocals forced me to draft in my son on second bass which is now one of the hallmarks of our group, so that was a fantastic thing to have happen. I was very nervous at first because I had never been in that ‘frontman’ role before, and it was the Joy Division material we played first and Ian Curtis of course has very big shoes to fill. I am aware I will never fill them, but I just try and do the best job I can. When we moved on to doing the New Order material, let’s just say that Bernard’s shoes did not feel as big!

CGL: Your bass tone and playing style have always been unique in that it’s reminiscent of guitar playing. Was that a conscious effort and what drove you to choose to play the bass?
PH: I chose to play the bass simply because when me and Bernard saw the Sex Pistols, we were blown away by the gig and decided then and there to form a band, he already had a guitar. So I just went out on a whim and bought a bass. The guy did not have a case for it so I took it home in a bin bag! My playing style developed partly by accident! Bernard’s equipment was so loud and gnarly back then that I had to play high in order to hear what I was doing, and it was Ian that told me that it actually sounded good, and that later went on to become one of my trademarks.

CGL: What is your favourite bass guitar and why? How important are the type/brand of amps to you and to the sound you like to get?
PH: My favourite bass guitar is my ‘VIKING’ bass guitar, which I play live. It was custom built to my specifications by Chris Eccleshall in the UK who is a very gifted guitar maker. I really like the tone it gives and it is also very durable which makes it a good one to take on the road. When it comes to amps I tend to favour Hi-Watts, which I have used since as long as I can remember as well as other gear by Trace Elliott, which is also always very good.

CGL: You’re playing three shows around Los Angeles this time, each one with a different set. But the “Low-Life” / “Brotherhood” set will be the new one. Assuming that you haven’t played most of those songs for some time, which song was the most challenging to “re-learn”?
PH: Yes. We are playing 3 times in LA this year, 6 different albums. I must be crazy! We also have some very special guests lined up to join us, which is always exciting. The “Low-Life” and “Brotherhood” show is the newest one like you mentioned, it has been a challenge but is such an enjoyable set to play live. I’d say the most challenging to get right was probably “The Perfect Kiss” simply because that is such a complex song with so many different layers, but we pulled it off and it sounds great, complete with cowbell and frog noises!

CGL: Is there anything you’d like to add?
PH: Not much, other than I am really excited to be coming back and I will see everybody very soon!

Dance The Night Away With The Orb (2019 Rerun)

THE ORB play Teragram Ballroom Nov. 21; photo Roney-FM-K3-Media

THE ORB play Teragram Ballroom Nov. 21; photo Roney-FM-K3-Media

ALEX PATERSON / THE ORB 2019 interview rerun…

The Orb recreate a live musical collage of their greatest hits during this, their 30th year anniversary, currently on tour in the states. Breaking out samples and sounds, beats and rhythms, The Orb impact an audience with their trippy sounds and visual aids.

“It’s a mish mash of old and new,” founder Alex Paterson noted. “With bits of old things being played over new things and vice versa. A bit more energetic. A bit more danceable, rather than hip swaying.”

The Orb bring their own elaborate visuals to compliment the live music which are dependent on the size of the screen available at each venue. The bigger the screen, the bigger the visuals. While producer/collaborator Michael Rendall joins Paterson for the musical side of the live spectrum.

“It’s a very similar set up as me and Thomas (Fehlmann) with a lot more freedom.,” Paterson said. “We’re sacking the Americas… We’re throwing American techno back at them…old style…payback time. It’s all good fun. And remember it’s 30 years since the beginning of House pretty much in the world.

“But the visuals compensate for everything you see… I’m just the conductor.”

THE ORB "No Sounds Are Out Of Bound" cover art

THE ORB “No Sounds Are Out Of Bound” cover art

Mixed throughout the setlist of reimagined greatest hits are several songs from No Sounds Are Out Of Bounds. Tracks such as “Doughnuts Forever” and the 15 minute “Soul Planet”, one of Paterson’s favorites to play live.

“Soul Planet all the way,” Paterson confirmed. “It’s the last track on the album and it’s the longest track on the album. It’s what we can all do very, very, very well. When we do a long track, we can investigate what’s going on in 15 minutes, it’s good fun.”

“And Rush, “Rush Hill Road” which is a single and a video. That goes down real well. We muck it about, make it sound a bit heavier.”

The catchy “sing along” album version of “Rush Hill Road” features Hollie Cook on vocals.

“Dare I say I know her dad, Paul Cook, from the Sex Pistols”? Paterson teased. “I used to be a Killing Joke roadie, and Paul’s met me years ago many times in different clubs and things and we all eventually did a gig, it was quite bizarre, with the Sex Pistols when they did a reunion back in the 90’s, it was really odd.

“So anyway, I met Hollie a couple times through the reggae connection, as well, then she started doing an album with Youth (Killing Joke), and Youth being one of my best friends invited me over, and we did a track on her album, then she did a track for me on our album.”

Prior to No Sounds Are Out Of Bounds, The Orb released Cow, a unique and truly original flow of atmospheric songs, alternating and overlapping samples such as – animal noises, rushing rivers – but it wasn’t really toured or performed live.

“Well, what I can tell you about that album is that no musical instruments were played in the making of that album,” Paterson revealed. “It was an absolute joy to use samples in a very constructive way…not even bars, not even loops, just sounds; and then creating our own music with those sounds.

“The whole thing was (put together) a little under 10 days. It’s a small album, it’s only 41 minutes long. It sits very well on the palette.

“Lots of the recordings were taken in America when we went down to the Moogfest three years ago in Durham and I discovered the river Eno which I thought was quite amusing, so I recorded it. And that’s on the album, as well.”

Hanging out in clubs in the late 80’s, hearing things that he liked, Paterson wanted to do his own thing similar to what he was hearing.

“I was lucky to have people around me with studios that I could go in and muck about,” Paterson recalled. “Creating my own music in ‘88, ’89, was very much fun. A lot of freedom. A lot of experiments. Not afraid to do things.

“Everything’s gotten a lot easier with the advent of mass production of computers. It takes away a lot of the studio costs, which is quite good, really. Because you can spend a lot of time in the studio doing this thing.

“I haven’t finished yet. It’s a good feeling to feel that a childhood sort of dream that you always wanted to make music, you always wanted to be known for your music, your art, I did it.”

It’s not often that The Orb play in the states so don’t miss them at Teragram Ballroom Nov. 21.

“Looking forward to Los Angeles,” Paterson admitted. “We should be rocking you by then.”

Cummings Brings His Blues To Town (2020 Remembered)

Albert Cummings; photo Jennifer Mardus

Albert Cummings; photo Jennifer Mardus

ALBERT CUMMINGS pre-pandemic tour interview in 2020 remembered…

“I’m still kind of a kept close secret, you know what I mean?” Albert Cummings mentioned. “But hey, if The Coach House knows about me the secret is getting out – that’s exciting!”

A blues, rock guitarist, with nine albums under his belt, if you haven’t listened to him, now is the time! His new album, Believe, comes out on Valentine’s Day, and you can see him live at The Coach House Feb. 13, a place he’s only played once before.

“You could just walk in and feel history. I love playing places like that,” Cummings recalled. “Everybody you ever wanted to hear or listen to has pictures on the wall. I gotta bring a picture, get myself up there somehow. Really cool. So happy to play there.”

Albert Cummings album cover art for "Believe"

Albert Cummings album cover art for “Believe”

Cummings headed to the legendary Muscle Shoals studio to record Believe, fully intending to do an all covers album. He began to notice that his cover songs on previous albums seemed to get more radio airplay than his original material.

“I got like nine albums with 11 or 12 songs on every one and maybe one out of that is a cover,” he declared. “That means over 100 songs are out there that are originals. I was like wow; they’re only playing the covers.

“Then I realized the blues DJs they want to have their show popular – this is only my opinion – they play songs people are familiar with. So, I was originally going to do a 100% cover album just so I could get some more play because the airplay gets me to places like The Coach House (laughs).”

Albert Cummings; photo Jennifer Mardus

Albert Cummings; photo Jennifer Mardus

However, once he got to Muscle Shoals and started playing with the other musicians, he thought better of it and did six originals and five covers.

One of those covers is a rendition of “Little Red Rooster” which features some nice guitar solo work. In fact, all of the guitar solos sound fresh and natural, not forced throughout the album.

“I know that if I try to do a guitar solo after a track is done, if I don’t get it in the first two, three, it just goes downhill from there,” Cummings explained. “I always end up picking from my first three.

“I think if you’re thinking you’re stinking. The more you think about it the worse it becomes. You can’t think about music. It’s gotta come from your heart. It can’t come from your mind.”

But it’s the originals that really stand out. Songs like “Going My Way” with its nice solid groove and guitar work or “Call Me Crazy” which really catches fire and jams. The guitar gets pretty wild and you wish it would go on forever. Maybe it will in a live setting.

“Oh yea, that’s one of those four-hour guitar songs,” Cummings laughed.

Albert Cummings guitar; photo Jennifer Mardus

Albert Cummings guitar; photo Jennifer Mardus

Cummings never played with a band until he was 27, then a couple years later he was doing an album with Double Trouble which was the only band he’d ever listened to.

“To do an album with those guys is over the top,” he said. “Pinch me, I can’t even believe it happened.”

Coming from a rural area out in the hills of western Massachusetts, about an hour from Albany, once he started a band there was no place to play. He knew he’d have to go to Albany if he wanted to do anything with his music.

“If you’re gonna go fishing you don’t go to an empty stream,” he quipped. “So, I went to Albany and I started to do really well, and people were starting to fill up.”

It was here, in Albany, that he caught Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble at the RPI Field House and a whole new world opened up.

“I didn’t know what blues was as a music until I started listening to Stevie,” he admitted. “And what I think was cool mostly about Stevie was he introduced me to everybody else in a way. Like I didn’t know who BB King was, or Freddie King or Albert King or all those people.”

Sometime later, the Field House contacted Cummings to be the local headliner at a blues day concert they were putting together for the students, the faculty and the public. They asked him who he thought they should get as the National headliner.

“I just jokingly said ‘why don’t you get Double Trouble to come play with me?’ and I was not qualified to say that, but I said it,” Cummings laughed. “And they said, ‘that’s a great idea’.

“So, I had to send this little demo out that I had which was my first CD which was Albert Cummings and Swamp Yankee… the CD was The Long Way.”

Albert Cummings; photo Jennifer Mardus

Albert Cummings; photo Jennifer Mardus

Much to his surprise, two weeks later Double Trouble agreed to do it! As a result, the last time Cummings walked into the RPI Field House was to see Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble play, then literally the next time he walked in there he was fronting them!

“Then we booked another gig that night in Saratoga, NY which is about 45 minutes north. We played a large club and we played this sold out show and it was just incredible.

“I’m taking Chris (Layton) and Tommy (Shannon) home, it was just the three of us, it’s 2:30 in the morning and they’re telling me ‘Albert, what we heard on your little demo and what we heard tonight are two entirely different things. You need to do an album’.

“And I’m like, ‘Well, I don’t know how to do an album’. And they said, ‘We do’. And then they said, ‘We want to produce your next album and we want to play on it.’ And I’m like ‘ok’.

“So, I’m literally driving. It’s late at night, I drive by two exits on the highway I’m so floored. My head is just spinning I’m still intimidated and scared but I had to say, ‘I’m so sorry guys, I just drove like a half an hour out of the way. I’m so sorry. (chuckles)

“We set it all up, exchanged numbers at the end of the night and I was still skeptical, yea, right. How the hell can that happen? And sure enough. Next thing I know I’m on an airplane going to Austin, TX, where I’ve never been before.”

Albert Cummings; photo Jennifer Mardus

Albert Cummings; photo Jennifer Mardus

Cummings was further surprised when Layton called him at the airport to let him know he was going to bring Reese Wynans along to play, too. This turned out to be the first time since Vaughan died that Double Trouble did an entire album with another artist.

“I was so green, but the album came out great, cuz those guys are so good,” Cummings marveled. “They took care of me, they brought me under their wings, and they helped me. They made me think of things differently. They made me understand how to build a guitar solo.

“I remember asking them ‘what would Stevie tell me to do?’ and they said, ‘play from the heart’, and that’s what that album’s called, From The Heart.

To this day, that experience still resonates with Cummings both in the studio and performing live.

Be sure to check out his new album or any of the previous nine and catch him live. This secret needs to be exposed!

Chameleons Vox To Perform Script Of The Bridge (2017 Remembered)

 CHAMELEONS VOX

CHAMELEONS VOX play Echoplex Sep. 10; press photo

MARK BURGESS / THE CHAMELEONS 2017 interview remembered…

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.

The Woggles Bring Their Unique Sound To OC Fans (2014 Revisited)

The Woggles

The Woggles play The Constellation Room Nov. 19 and Alex’s Bar Nov. 20

MIGHTY MANFRED / THE WOGGLES 2014 interview revisited…

The Woggles bring it to the people by returning to Alex’s Bar in Long Beach on Nov. 20 and will make their Santa Ana debut at The Constellation Room Nov. 19.

“If we’re out doing a show, and playing live, you want to engage the people that are there,” claims lead singer Mighty Manfred.

“I mean otherwise there’s no reason to be up on a stage, at least from my point of view.”

The Woggles put on quite a show with Manfred stepping into the crowd while singing catchy, hip-shaking tunes. The audience can’t seem to resist dancing around him while grinning from ear to ear.

“Feeding off the audience, the audience feeds off you and it just makes everything that much more exciting, that much more exhilarating, that much more thrilling, with everything building on itself,” Manfred said.

Somehow while singing and shaking a tambourine, Manfred finds a way to get down off the stage, over any barriers, across any trenches, and onto the club floor to celebrate music amongst the audience.

“When you’re right there in front of people they’re no longer watching a spectacle, they’re a part of it,” Manfred explained.

“In a room like Alex’s and I imagine, The Constellation Room, that’s pretty easy to do. You don’t have to deal with these larger rock show impediments.

“We’ve been in Alex’s before and it’s been really terrific mixing it up with the audience. And if need be, the top of the bar is just a stage extension, you know?”

Of course, mishaps have been known to happen. Take a show in Pensacola, Florida.

“You know, before doing anything stupid, I check things out ahead of time,” Manfred unconvincingly stated.

“That doesn’t mean I won’t still do stupid things.”

During sound check that particular evening, Manfred tried his weight on a curtain next to the stage and thought, “Oh, this will be great. I can swing out from this.

“So, during this instrumental song the band is playing I scampered up there and jumped off of some amps to reach this thing. As I committed myself to this forward swing, you know with the idea I would let go and go sailing, the rod came out before I had swung far enough. I couldn’t get my arms behind me so I landed with my full weight on my back.

“People have asked, ‘Did it feel like it was happening in slow motion?’ And my answer to that is, ‘Man, the ground moves really fast!’

“The guys in the band, though, didn’t know that was going on. So, I’m rolling around, and I stand up and I’m in immense pain.

“I slowly get back on the stage and I remember the drummer, Dan Eletxro looking at me and I could see him mouthing, ‘Shake it off! Shake it off!’

“He knew something had happened but you know, ‘Get with it man. Get back into it.’ Yea, that was terrible.”

After the show, Manfred went to the emergency room to get stitched up and somehow escaped bodily damage.

“I had cut my face on the nails coming out of the rod, as it came down and hit me in the face.

“But people loved the blood, though. They loved the blood.”

The Woggles initially formed in Georgia in 1987 with the bass player, Buzz Hagstrom joining in 1994, the aforementioned drummer, Dan Eletxro, in 1995 and guitarist, Flesh Hammer becoming an official band member ten years ago.

Their latest full-length release, “The Big Beat”, on Steven Van Zandt’s Wicked Cool Records, came out last year. There’s a new Christmas single coming out on 7” vinyl followed by an EP in early 2015.

Music may hold different meaning for different people, but to Manfred, it’s a celebration of life.

“You’ve got to bring it to the people!” he said in anticipation of the next live shows.

Return Of The Damned (2017 Remembered)

THE DAMNED

THE DAMNED play The Belasco Theater Apr. 6, HOB/San Diego Apr. 7 and HOB/Anaheim Apr. 8; photo Dod Morrison

CAPTAIN SENSIBLE / THE DAMNED 2017 interview remembered…

Call them punks, goths, or something else; love or hate The Black Album; The Damned continue to excite fans of all ages throughout the world. They are bringing their 40th Anniversary tour to The Belasco Theater Apr. 6, HOB/San Diego Apr. 7 and HOB/Anaheim Apr. 8.

Concert Guide Live recently asked original guitarist, Captain Sensible, about the longevity of the band, red berets, “New Rose”, “fake news” and a whole lot more.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: With The Damned celebrating their 40th anniversary, does it feel like a long time, or does it just seem like one long day?
CAPTAIN SENSIBLE: That 40 years can be divided into a few distinct periods… the dawn of punk, when I was sleeping on Brian’s (guitarist Brian James) floor and we had to lie about the true nature of the band to get gigs… the chaos years when Smash It Up was our battle cry… the goth period when the band was once again instigators in a new musical genre… and after a fairly bleak decade, the resurrection, to which you have to thank the current lineup. It’s the longest lasting in the band’s history, not just because we get on – but also due to the new lease of life they’ve given to the early material.

It’s weird being in a band… you tend to stay the same mental age as when you start out, which in my case isn’t saying much. Shame is, your body doesn’t… so the reckless lifestyle that earned me my name has had to be curbed somewhat.

CGL: When the group began, did you and Dave (frontman Dave Vanian) ever imagine this sort of longevity? How did it happen!
CS: I was only trying to break out of a cycle of unemployment and unskilled jobs… like my year as a 70s toilet cleaner – joining a band was my escape from that life.

Life on the road isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but I suppose we must be quite good at it to last all this time. Or, too dumb to think of any better way to spend our lives.

Hey, but all the beer’s free!

CGL: For a new generation of fans, describe the London music scene and how the band did or did not fit in at the start of things.
CS: The various bands all had their own take on punk… The Clash sounded nothing like The Stranglers, the Pistols nothing like The Damned. We were just making the music we wanted to hear cos the mid 70s music scene had gone completely stale. Glam had been fun but had gone, leaving mega prog acts like ELP, Yes and Genesis, with their boring drum solos and songs about pixies and wizards.
The Damned had the first record out because while the other bands were waiting for big money deals, we signed with a tiny indie called Stiff, doing it the ‘punk’ way. Stiff bands would be at the label HQ (a converted high street shop) helping to pack each other’s records, roadie at gigs, everything was ‘in house’… another artist (Nick Lowe) produced us.

CGL: The Damned are in the midst of another world tour, how does playing live in the 21st century compare to the early days?
CS: Better to go for it on our 40th as we’re getting no younger. Thankfully there was no YouTube in the 70s, as our performances could be a bit ‘erratic’. Debauched even. It’s rare to have a really bad gig these days.

Pinch (drummer) describes us as a bunch of eccentrics who occasionally get together to make music.

CGL: I understand a new album is in the works, how is it coming along? What has the songwriting process been like?
CS: We don’t like to repeat ourselves… all our albums have a different sound. This one as well… there’s plenty of upbeat tunes… and some darkness, of course. Since our last release being 2008’s So, Who’s Paranoid, (a reflection on the UK’s CCTV culture), there’s been a steady stockpiling on new material and if we recorded it all, the album could be a double or triple CD collection. Sense would suggest we prune it down though.

CGL: “New Rose” seemed to click with people right out of the gate, and here you are playing it many years later. How do you still connect with playing that song and some of the other Damned classics?
CS: “New Rose”, voted last month by Kerrang as the best ever punk single… very nice of them. You had to be there when it was released to understand the effect it had…sounding radically different from all the ghastly country rock and disco that was around at the time, ours was really gnarled and manic, even when you play our debut album today it doesn’t sound like other records, almost UN-produced by Nick Lowe who was ALSO on Stiff. He’s captured the rasping chaos perfectly, the guitars don’t sound nice, they’re a distorted fuzzy mess, which is exactly what’s needed in punk rock, if you ask me. He understood where we were coming from, as our second album’s producer didn’t. Damned Damned Damned is very raw, even compared to the output of our 1977 contemporaries.

Pathway was a rough demo 8-track studio, and Nick was known as ‘Basher’ Lowe, as he used to slap it down on the tapes – no messing about. It wasn’t really produced, especially in today’s terms where everything is cleaned up and corrected. It was dark and dingy in there so you had to be careful not to kick your bottle of cider over. We boshed it out in 2 days with a couple of days mixing, then the tape was recycled to record the Elvis Costello album, so you know there’s no chance of a remix ever. It certainly didn’t need any more than two days as we just repeated our live set until Nick was happy with it.

“New Rose” is fun to play… bands all around the world do their version, I know cos someone will press a CD into my hand most gigs.

CGL: How many red berets have you gone through? Where did the first one come from?
CS: There was a gobbing element in the early punk days… lumps would bake in your hair under the stage lights. You’d have to spend ages in the shower combing them out, so I had a brainwave…. Wear a hat, and sunglasses. I went onstage once, a few years ago, without them… didn’t go down well. Went back in the dressing room, got the beret and returned to the stage to cheers. Oh well, it could be worse… Arthur Brown has to set his head on fire every show.

I get the berets 10 at a time from a tourist shop near the Notre Dame Cathedral. You can’t wash them cos the colour comes out, so when they get too stinky I discard them into the audience.

CGL: What is your pre-show routine? Do you get nervous before going on stage?
CS: No, it’s a buzz playing a loud guitar onstage. And after the soundcheck there’s usually a mad scramble to find something vaguely edible near the venue. Not easy when you’re as fussy about food as I am. I often end up just gulping down a can of chick peas, maybe with an apple. Glamorous, eh?!

CGL: What words of wisdom do you have for bands starting out today?
CS: There’s some interesting bands coming out now, like Wand and King Gizzard… we like the garage psych thing… it still sounds fresh. They’re a good example of how to do it… Young bands should be careful not to overdo the Protools effects that are so common nowadays. Don’t sterilize and correct everything… perfection is overrated anyway. Far too many records have auto-tune vocals… it drives me mad!

CGL: On a more serious note, does the current state of the world provide lyrical fodder? How are you responding to the chaos in the world today?
CS: Don’t ask me about politics… I’m just a daft guitarist. Leave that to our trusted elected representatives, who somehow manage to answer not to the voters but to the corporations who so generously fund them.

I’m loving the debate about ‘fake news’… that’s been a long time coming. People don’t like wars… they have to be lied into supporting armed interventions, and we have to learn from previous examples. In the UK there was a genuine thrill when the Tories were booted out by Blair’s ‘New Labour’ project. But then they took us straight to Iraq via ‘dodgy dossiers’ (lies) and a whole bunch of ‘fake news’ from the mainstream media.

I’ve done MY Blair song… entitled “Stole Into The Night”, it’s on YouTube: https://youtu.be/suh_Bo-stSQ

CGL: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
CS: We are all ale snobs, so if any brewery owners are reading this, please drop off a few bottles of porter – or better still chocolate stout at the stage door.

Dramarama Does ‘Anything, Anything’ To Rock HOB (2013 Remembered)

Dramarama

Dramarama opens for Berlin at the House of Blues Anaheim Sat., April 13th

JOHN EASDALE / DRAMARAMA 2013 interview remembered… This was one of the very first interviews for Concert Guide Live!

Alternative rock group, Dramarama may have formed in New Jersey, but they call Southern California home and Orange County their base of operations. They will be playing with Berlin at the House of Blues in Anaheim on April 13.

Since this is a co-headlining show, Dramarama won’t be able to do their “Grateful Dead four hour marathon jam” according to vocalist John Easdale. “Unfortunately we’ll have to wait until we have a show all by ourselves.”

They still promise to do an entertaining mix of old and new.

Dramarama have been recording a much anticipated new album for the last couple of years. It will be ready to go after some final mastering and artwork touches. “We’re hoping to get it out before the end of the year but we were hoping that last year, too,” Easdale said.

With the internet, many artists self-release their material. “There’s always that option, “said Easdale,
“We’ve been doing it ourselves since our first 45 in 1982.”

“There are a thousand bands selling a million records and a million bands selling a thousand records,” he added.

The mid-80s radio hit “Anything, Anything” seems to have defied time becoming a “classic rock” song in its own right. “It is truly gratifying and rewarding. I wish that every song I wrote had that kind of impact and that people accepted it in the same way,” Easdale said. “My purpose with every song is what happened with that song.”

Three of the original Dramarama members Peter Wood, Mark Englert, and John Easdale continue to be in the band. The other two members bassist, Mike Davis, and drummer Tony Snow, have been part of the group for over fifteen years.

As a final thought, Easdale mentioned, “We hope that the people from the audience have as much fun as we do!”

Sun Worship With Allah-Las (2017 Remembered)

ALLAH-LAS

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

ALLAH-LAS 2017 interview remembered…

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.

Flashback 2015: Front 242 To Play Classics At Rare Avalon Show

FRONT 242

FRONT 242 play Avalon Sep 27

Flashback: PATRICK CODENYS / FRONT 242 interview from 2015…

Front 242 is playing a handful of dates in the U.S. this September, including one at Avalon Hollywood on Sep. 27.

“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. “Besides, I like Avalon, it is a beautiful venue.”

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.

UFO Sighting In San Juan Capistrano Not To Be Missed (Flashback 2016)

UFO

UFO play The Coach House Mar. 20

Flashback: VINNIE MOORE with UFO 2016 interview:

UFO will be greeted with a sold out show at The Coach House Mar. 20 as they return to the local venue they’ve played numerous times over the years.

“We love the antique shops and also some of the bars and restaurants in the area. Ha!” guitarist Vinnie Moore quipped. “We always seem to have a packed house full of energetic fans which makes it a pleasure. And it’s a great sounding room.”

Following the release of their 21st album last year, A Conspiracy Of Stars, the English hard rock band is adding a few of the newer tracks to their set list of greatly-anticipated songs.

“Of course we try to keep in as many of the classics as possible, and also play a couple from the 80’s era of the band,” Moore said.

“As far as new stuff, I love playing ‘Messiah of Love’ and ‘Rollin’ Rollin’. ‘Venus’ (from the album Covenant) is always a blast to play, but really I enjoy everything.”

Moore became the permanent lead guitarist with UFO in 2003, began touring with the band and first appeared on You Are Here as well as each of the following albums.

“When I was a teenager learning to play guitar I was a UFO fan,” Moore acknowledged. “I never would have dreamed that someday I would be in the band.

“I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s so I was into all the classic stuff like The Beatles, Led Zep, Deep Purple, Queen, Rainbow, etc.”

Some of the classic UFO songs and fan favorites were during the Michael Schenker era in the 70’s. Songs such as “Doctor, Doctor,” “Lights Out,” “Too Hot To Handle” and “Rock Bottom” have been performed untold times by the group but may vary slightly depending on the audience and the venue.

“A lot of my soloing is improvised so it is different from night to night,” Moore said. “This keeps it fresh and exciting for me and keeps me on my toes and in the moment.

“It’s a little like a pro sports game. There are certain guidelines that you know about in advance, but everyone watches because no one knows what the outcome is going to be on that particular day. And this is why it’s exciting.”

While there have been numerous personnel changes over years, vocalist Phil Mogg and drummer Andy Parker have worked together since the inception of the group. What’s the secret?

“Probably copious amounts of booze,” Moore teased.

If you’re in a band starting out today, Moore suggests doing it “Because you love it and have a passion for it.” To, “Follow your love and become great at what you do.

“At that point, try to create and seize any opportunities that already exist or that you can dream up. Then let me know.”

As the California leg of their U.S. tour approaches, Moore added, “We look forward to seeing the fans at The Coach House.

“Thanks for your continued support.”