Compiler – Return [Lost The Plot Recordings]

Compiler "Return" cover art

Compiler “Return” cover art

Seeing the next wave of ingenious producers create fresh tunes that defy logic is mesmerizing. Whether it’s a gritty evil bassline that makes the hair on your arm stand up, to clever ways of fusing disparate elements you never expected to sound good together, there is always something on the horizon ready to subvert all expectations we have. Compiler is one such producer with a proven track record of putting out tracks that sound like nothing you have heard before; his latest, Return on Lost the Plot Recordings is three mind-bending tracks of massive proportions.

The title track opens up the release, with waves of warbling atmospherics blended into the rising rhythm of the drums. The drop hits with the force of a black hole, instantly sucking you into its wobbly orbit. The hard snap of the snare and the fuzzed out staccato motif fling you back and forth like a rag doll, with the repetitive vocal refrain cementing the vibe even further.

“Do While” forges into a totally new direction; it starts off with an ominous character and driving drums reminiscent of the previous tune. But it takes a left turn as it lays down a fierce broken rolling rhythm that has all the weight of a jackhammer. There is no doubt that everyone on the dancefloor will be headbanging to this tune.

Delivering the final blow is the shellshock of “Break.” There is no way to prepare for the gravity defying weight of the sub or menacing thrash of the drums. Underlying all of this is expertly crafted bass howls and gritty textures, with intricately designed hat shuffles that drive the mutant explorations deeper into unknown territory.

Out now via Beatport, this is a release you definitely do not want to sleep on!

New Model Army’s Justin Sullivan Announces Solo Album

Surrounded cover art

Surrounded cover art

Justin Sullivan steps out from New Model Army to release his second solo album On May 28th. It comes 18 years after his first solo album — 2003’s Navigating by the Stars.

Surrounded is a collection of 16 new songs written in the first weeks of the 2020 lockdown. These songs are again stunning guitar and vocal compositions highlighting Sullivan’s love of storytelling, wide open landscapes, and unforgettable atmospheres. Pre-order it here.

“The stories of polar (and in particular Antarctic) adventurers at the beginning of the 20th Century have long been a fascination,” Sullivan explains regarding the new single. “On my first solo record, [the song] ‘Ocean Rising’ is, in part, the story of Ernest Shackleton’s epic voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia. The final race to reach the South Pole between Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen is another fascinating tale. Being raised in England, Scott and his ‘noble, tragic’ failure is a story written large in national mythology but the other man, a truly remarkable explorer, is rarely acknowledged. The battle over who gets to tell which version of a story is very relevant in these times of ‘culture wars,’ but the song is more a simple study of the man himself. I hope I have done him justice.”

Mostly recorded at home, Surrounded also features contributions from many other musicians including Jon Thorne on bass (Lamb), Tom Moth (Florence and the Machine and brother of NMA bassist Ceri Monger) on harp, plus string arrangements from composer friends Tobias Unterberg, Henning Nügel, and Shir-Ran Yinon. Also featured are the current members of New Model Army. The album was mixed by Lee Smith, co-producer and mixer of New Model Army’s recent albums, including 2019’s From Here, at Greenmount Studios in Leeds.

“Under the circumstances, it wasn’t particularly surprising that this was the moment to make another solo record and the songs came thick and fast in the first few weeks of the lockdown,” Sullivan shares about the album. “There is not so much about ‘what’s happening in the world.’ As with Navigating by the Stars, which was written in the aftermath of 9/11, I wanted to write about other things — some well-known stories, some less well-known, a few autobiographical, and more a landscape of the imagination than social comment. I’m grateful for all the many musical contributions I received from friends that helped create all the different atmospheres and places; it’s a long album, but it seems that all the songs belonged together in one collection. I hope people enjoy it.”

The release of Surrounded will be accompanied by the re-release of Sullivan’s only previous solo album. 2003’s Navigating by the Stars was released on CD but has been unavailable for many years. Described by The Independent as having “the warm organic quality of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks,” the audio of this new version has not been altered but carries two additional tracks: “Sooner or Later,” which first appeared on a B-side in 2003, and “The Wreck of The Essex,” a song written and recorded later that same year that has laid dormant ever since except for a few live performances. Navigating by the Stars will be available digitally and, for the the first time ever, on vinyl. In addition, the debut album will come in a CD digisleeve edition with an expanded booklet as part of a limited CD box set edition of Surrounded, followed by a standalone release later this year.

SURROUNDED TRACK LISTING:
“DIRGE”
“AMUNDSEN”
“COMING WITH ME”
“CLEAN HORIZON”
“STONE AND HEATHER”
“28TH MAY”
“AKISTAN”
“UNFORGIVEN”
“SAO PAULO”
“1975”
“SEA AGAIN”
“CLEAR SKIES”
“RIP TIDES”
“DAUGHTER OF THE SUN”
“RIDE”
“SURROUNDED”

Meat Beat Manifesto Celebrates 30 Year Catalog (2017 Remembered)

MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO

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

MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO 2017 interview remembered…

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.

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.”

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!

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.

Southside Johnny Brings The Real Deal To SoCal (2017 Remembered)

SOUTHSIDE JOHNNY AND THE ASBURY JUKES

SOUTHSIDE JOHNNY AND THE ASBURY JUKES play The Coach House Apr. 7 and Whisky A Go Go Apr. 8; photo Daniel Gonzalez

SOUTHSIDE JOHNNY 2017 interview remembered…

In the 60’s and 70’s, Asbury Park, NJ was crawling with musicians, long-haired, bleary-eyed hopefuls, who would jam well into the wee hours of the morning just for the hell of it. This was party music, high-powered soul and maximum R&B made for dancing.

While Bruce Springsteen may be Asbury Park’s most famous export, Southside Johnny Lyon and his Asbury Jukes remain the truest crystallization of that time and place, and they’re bringing it to The Coach House Apr. 7 and the Whisky A Go Go Apr. 8. It’s their first trip to the West Coast in over 10 years and for anybody looking for live music that’s the real deal, this is not to be missed.

Though he’s a Jersey boy through and through, Lyon actually likes it here and even lived in San Clemente for a while. “We don’t play out there that much,” he explained over the phone, “It’s just too expensive to cart this great big band around.”

He may have moved back east, but he still loves The Coach House, calling it “one of the good places to play in the world.” His sentiment makes sense, considering the well-worn, unglamorous atmosphere of The Coach House, along with its reputation of booking veteran, road-warrior musicians, makes it a perfect match for the working-class ethos of Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes. When I point out the “institution” status of both the venue and his band, Lyon interjects, laughing, “So you’re saying I should be in an institution? Is that what you’re saying?!”

His latest album, Soultime, a throwback, 70’s R&B album, has garnered him some of the best reviews of his career. Something he takes little notice of. “I don’t read reviews. It could be really good, and then they’ll say one thing they don’t like, and I go, ‘F—k you!’ [laughs]. It’s irrational, but that’s me.”

Songs like “Looking For A Good Time” and “Spinning” are filled with fat, Stax horns, funky rhythms, and a groove that’s straight out of 1972.

“I was in a liquor store and “Superfly” came on by Curtis Mayfield, which starts with this great, sinuous bass thing, and then the horns go “Duh-na-na” and people were moving and bopping. Everybody in there was subconsciously caught up in the groove. I said, ‘Ah-ha! That’s what I need to do next. Make music for people to groove to’.”

Lyon has been fascinated by this groove his whole life, growing up on his parents’ unusually hip record collection filled with blues and R&B greats. As a teenager, Lyon’s older brother Tom would take him to the city to catch whoever was in town, an education that he never forgot.

“We saw Muddy Waters, John Hammond, Cream at the Cafe-A-Go-Go—a little 200 seat club— we would go all the time. We saw the Jeff Beck Group at the Fillmore East, Albert King, Tim Buckley, Frank Zappa and the Mothers. Bands would come to Asbury Park, too. We saw Ray Charles there, The Stones when they first came over. We were young and music was the only thing that really mattered.”

Never taking himself too seriously, Lyon remains one of the most normal musicians around. He’s never been one to kowtow to the powers that be, he’s never envied the more visible and profitable success of Springsteen—who he counts as a friend—and he’s unapologetically who he is. After a floundering recording career spent jumping from label to label, Lyon started his own, Leroy Records, and built a career on the road, making a living up on stage, not in the studio.

Decades spent on tour took their toll, burning Lyon out and taking all the fun out of performing. He briefly relocated to Nashville where no-strings-attached jamming with local musicians brought him back to the start. “It became real to me again. It became something I loved to do. It’s still grueling traveling on a bus for 15 hours, but still, you get in front of an audience, and it makes it all worthwhile.”

Lyon co-founded the Jukes with “Little” Steven Van Zandt, who would shortly switch over to join Springsteen’s band. In his book, Born To Run, Springsteen even describes the night it happened, when he first rolled into the Upstage Club to try and jam. Lyon, who read and enjoyed the book, also remembers that fortuitous night.

“He had long hair, his gold Les Paul, and he was doing this song about the nuns teaching him the meaning of the blues. He was not their favorite student, they used to beat him, and he took a lot of crap from them. But one day, one of the nuns brought in a B.B. King album and played some stuff.

“So he’s singing the song, and he’s playing, and he’s got this charisma, and I’m going, ‘Who the fuck is that?!’ He was in my club, singing on my microphone [laughs]. But he was great, it was unbelievable, he was almost fully formed. You could tell right there that he was somebody to be reckoned with.”

The two quickly became friends, and have been entwined ever since, with Springsteen contributing some of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes’ biggest songs like, “The Fever,” “Hearts Of Stone,” and “Talk To Me.” And while Lyon may not have nearly the same notoriety, they share a working-class philosophy and an electric stage presence, born out of the hours and hours they spent in dark smoky clubs, and their Jersey upbringings.

“I wouldn’t have a career if I wasn’t part bulldog. That’s part of the Jersey thinking. There’s nothing subtle about it. You’re gonna do it, you’re gonna do it the way you want, and if there’s people that don’t like it, screw ‘em. It’s that blue-collar thing again. We know what it’s like to work, we’ve seen our parents work, we know what work is and we’re not afraid it. There’s always an audience for what you want to do as long as you do it honestly.”

ALBUM REVIEW: Public Memory “Ripped Apparition”

Public-Memory-Ripped-Apparition-cover-art

Public Memory “Ripped Apparition” cover-art

Hovering between the grounded rhythms of dub music and the pure atmospheric sounds of indie music lies Public Memory. Having crafted a distinctive sound that is amorphous yet impactful with releases such as Wuthering Drum and Demolition, the newest release Ripped Aparition continues in that vein yet expands upon it in new and imaginative ways.

The album begins with the ominous warblings of “Worn Shadow,” which slowly builds the tension until it feels like it’ll burst. Which it does, into the hypnotic bass vibrations of “Bad Orbit.” The consistency of the bass develops the perfect backdrop for the crescendo of the melodic motif. When the vocals enter, it grabs ahold of you despite its ethereal nature. The song then holds its steady groove, as endless waves of effects float in and out until it slowly winds down.

The blissful keyboard of “Dusseldorf Witch Hat” drifts in, lulling the listener into a false sense of time and space; the trip hop beat backed by the overdriven bass counterpoint the meandering sounds and melodies perfectly. This gives the song a feeling of always moving forward yet staying in the same place, and it’s the perfect kind of song to get the creativity flowing.

Building up the epic feeling of this release, “Courtroom Tap Water” establishes itself with laser precision; by employing reverb and a slow well-placed snare pattern, it evokes a cavern hidden deep in the forest that keeps calling out to you. All of this feeds into the lumbering behemoth named “Butcher.” It’s a tune that has an overpowering heavy presence, which only highlights the peaceful musings of the lyrics. It is mind numbing the way in which this song infects the brain and lingers long after it’s gone.

“Azimuth” keeps those vibes rolling along. The methodical pacing, the metronomic click of the ride, and the warmth of the bassline fuse together to forge a surrealistic sound that’s hard to get enough of. All of this paves the way for “Midsummer Shadow,” a song that truly goes hard. The vocals and rhythm each have a barely contained feeling of anger as an undercurrent, with the bass and other elements helping to build the atmosphere which seeps down into the depths of your soul.

Public-Memory-press-photo

Public Memory press photo

The playful trip hop beat of “Epigone” stands in contrast to the previous works, but somehow still matches the delicate ferocity of what came before it. It accomplishes that with a mesmerizing melody and a rhythm which feels like a ship rocking back and forth that is taking you to an uncertain destination.

Taking a cue from the previous track, “Dracula AD,” takes the melodic sense and turns it on its head. While containing some very pleasing motifs, there is a darkness floating around in the track which creates a sense of rising anxiety. When the otherworldly vocals enter, it becomes apparent this is a track that adeptly combines polar opposites into something fresh and exciting.

Closing out the release is the massive “Lost Future.” Combining all of the disparate elements found throughout the album into one song, it never veers into chaos and instead stays ever sure of itself. In addition, this song plays with the experimentalism so prevalent on the album; it is eye opening how this song sounds truly experimental yet instantly gets stuck in your head.

Public Memory has crafted another fantastic gem with Ripped Apparition. Whether you are looking for an introspective album or love the left-field explorations of lo-fi, there is plenty to dig into here. Get it now via pre-order or on general release this November 20th on Felte Records!

Tommy Castro And The Painkillers Bring The Perfect Panacea (Rerun)

Tommy Castro; photo Jayson Carpenter

Tommy Castro; photo Jayson Carpenter

TOMMY CASTRO AND THE PAINKILLERS 2020 tour never took place thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic so we thought we’d rerun the interview…

There is no doubt the Covid-19 epidemic has drastically altered and affected all of our lives. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the music community, with so many essentially getting their entire way of life halted in an instant. Despite this, musicians have been charging forward even harder than before.

Tommy Castro and The Painkillers are such a band; having been around for over two decades, they have seen their ups and downs. Our current pandemic situation has postponed all future events, including The Painkillers night at The Coach House.

“It will continue to be rescheduled until we can play it,” remarks Castro. “I don’t know what the next date is but the one in June I don’t think is going to hold. Even if the state decided to open things back up by then, it won’t give us enough time to promote it. So, we are probably looking to have our show there in the fall.”

The Coach House is a favorite venue for many blues and rock bands, with Castro and his band included in the mix.

Tommy Castro; photo Bob By Request

Tommy Castro; photo Bob By Request

“The Coach House is great, and I even remember the first time we played there,” reminisces the bluesman. “We were coming up in popularity and our current record was doing well. That was not an easy gig to get, you had to earn it! When we finally got booked in there, we were really excited about it and haven’t missed a year since then. It’s got to be about twenty straight years that we have been playing there. It’s a good-sized room, not too big and not too small. It suits our audience very well. Blues audiences tend to be an older crowd and they like to sit down and enjoy the show.”

Speaking of Covid-19, everyone has that moment when they first heard about the shutdown.

“We were on tour, being in the middle of the northwest and Canada,” he reveals. “We came down from the mountains in Canada into Montana and worked our way back towards Sacramento, with that and Paradise being the last shows we played. It was very up in the air whether those were even going to happen. After those ones, we all went home and have been on lockdown ever since. I would have never imagined a thing like that happening.”

Life has been very different and difficult since the stay at home orders were first issued, but not even that can get the guitarist down.

“I’ve been keeping myself really busy with a couple of live stream shows,” divulges Castro. “I have a lot of work to do – working on songs, practicing my guitar, working on my house, the weather is warmer so getting some exercise, and just making the best of it. I’m not going around and visiting people in their homes or anything of that sort. I had my birthday on the fifteenth of April, and all of my adult kids and I got on zoom and had a little birthday party for me which was a lot of fun.”

Tommy Castro; photo Jayson Carpenter

Tommy Castro; photo Jayson Carpenter

Recently, he performed live over the internet for John Lee Hooker’s live stream show. “I’m a big fan of John Lee,” he affirms. “We knew each other and were friends, he recorded on one of my albums back in the early 2000’s. We had the same booking agency in those days so were playing on a lot of the same shows. It was a real honor and great way to pay tribute, with me playing a couple songs of his.

“It was cool because I had the time to learn to play one of his songs I didn’t know before,” relates the guitarist. “This one is in a very particular tuning and really went into the John Lee Hooker style. I’ve done his songs my own way so this time I did one that way but on the other one, I just really tried to imitate his style in Open G on an old Harmony guitar that I have. It was fun preparing for it and also playing my own songs. His Facebook page has a couple hundred thousand subscribers from around the world, so it was great exposure for me and a lot of fun.”

Moving from live shows to live streams over the internet has been a sudden and intense change for any musician out there.

“Anytime I have to learn something new it’s good for me,” explains Castro. “It always reminds me of a quote, ‘If you’re green, you’re still growing.’ Those things I don’t know that much about and I need to learn about and am put in a position where I have to learn it, it’s good for me…good for my brain. It expands my abilities. You tend to get stuck in what you know so I know how to play live and make a record, I’ve learned over the years how to be involved in online promotions, and most importantly how to keep in touch with my fans through social media and the internet.

“All of that has been a constant learning situation for me but this was a crash course in live streaming,” he points out. “Especially because it was completely solo. I never play, never in my career have I done a solo show. There have been times on the radio or something where I would play a song or two, but it was never me having a fully worked out acoustic set for a show. What I do is electric blues that requires a band and is what I really know how to do. So, learning how to step up and play a solo show like this was really good for me.”

From their humble beginnings to their current status as blues stalwarts, their journey and outlook on life is a fascinating one.

“When I was about eight years old, my brother got a guitar and started playing it,” explains Castro of his musical origins. “I had always been interested, and being six years younger, thought it was the coolest thing. Eventually I got my own guitar and started playing with friends my own age. For most of my life it was something I did for fun. I enjoyed it and didn’t get any schooling or lessons on it. I just listened to lessons and had a basic chord book and figured it out. Growing up in a lower middle-class neighborhood, nobody I knew was taking lessons or getting any proper musical schooling so my friends and I would just listen to the records and figure things out.”

That was the start of it all and it just kept rolling from there.

“I just kept playing, blues was the thing I liked best,” he elaborates. “I listened to rock and roll but was always most inspired by the blues-based stuff i.e. The Rolling Stones, Cream, Led Zeppelin, etc. A lot of the blues in the sixties was being played on FM radio when it was still relatively new. FM stations were super progressive and could play anything they wanted since there wasn’t much corporate involvement yet. The DJ’s played everything: from psychedelic blues to psychedelic music, bluegrass, folk music, and a good bunch of blues music. That’s how I could hear Albert King, B.B. King, and Bobby Bland on the radio.

“That’s how I was exposed to it. Most of my friends were into rock so I was always the guy in the band who wanted to play blues. And that’s what I did for some time. I would play in various bands, we would get bar gigs and play on the weekends; until one day, I decided that this is what I was meant to do. I gave up on any other plans I was working on and decided to take a shot at making a living as a professional musician.”

One of the biggest leaps one can ever make in life, the future was tentative, but it was also a great time for this move.

“At the time, this was the eighties, and there was starting to be a market for blues bands and especially guitar players,” details Castro. “On a professional level, I played with a number of local San Francisco bay area bands until I decided it was time for me to start my own band. I’ve been doing that ever since – we have eighteen albums out there and have toured around the world for 25 years.”

This is an unprecedented time in history; but with musicians such as Tommy Castro and The Painkillers pushing forward, they give us a glimpse of the path forward and provide hope for the future. Through their commitment to make music regardless of the circumstances, it demonstrates how we can overcome anything. This is a band you want to keep up with, as they keep heartfelt live streams and stellar shows heading our way.