DAN BAIRD

How is the European tour going so far, having fun?  Well, i’m back at the shack right now, but i’ll be over there again in 3 weeks. confusing, but yeah, we’re having fun.

Any chance of running into Dixie Beauderant over there? Nope.

Do you have a philosophy when it comes to the stage?  Yes I do. Bring it absolutely as hard as you can and your night’s “happiness level” will allow.

3 levels of happiness:

High level – band is feeling good, audience is receptive, monitors are happening and you find a flow. we don’t use a set list as i think song selection is a part of the flow of the night. this should make it possible to do a great set. it does not guarantee success, but places the onus on the band.

Medium level – one or two of the above mentioned factors is lacking somehow. Doesn’t matter which ones, but you’ve got work through something to do a good set. this is most shows for all bands. they can be the best nights of all. If you do pull through whatever problems it can really be a galvanizing force, and then you feel like roots-rock superheroes!

Low level – pretty much nothing is going right. the club has you in a hostel, fed you alpo on noodles, inept sound man hates you, monitors are best turned off, it’s a sauna on stage and there are 15 rabid fans there that you really don’t want to disappoint, but you’d really, really like to tank the show. we’ve all been there. Hopefully a certain professionalism will kick in, or your guitarist will go “dan, don’t do it” (geez i wonder if this exact scenario has ever happened). just a suck it up and go night.

So in the end, maximize happiness level, and go like hell.

Any tips to surviving a world tour in one piece?  Oh boy, as a band; take care of each other – you’re all you really got out there. To the permanent pain in the ass in the band – stop it now you stupid butthole, we’re all you got.

Individually – rest as much as you can, eat 4 hours before the show if possible so the drummer and singer don’t puke onstage, unless that’s your thang. Make the other guys in the band laugh as often as possible. don’t be the permanent pain in the ass.

It also depends on how old and beat up you are. You’ll need to stop “having fun” as much as you used to. Sorry.

What English players, if any, were you most influenced by?  Good grief – too many to list. the obvious Stones, Faces. Steve Marriot, Clapton; it’s endless.

Any plans for a follow up to the rockin’ Dan Baird & Homemade Sin debut?  Yup.

Any new tunes or titles you can tell us a bit about?  Nope.

How do songs start for you most often; with a riff? a subject?  A groove or chord change that talks to me.

What was the first rock concert you ever attended and what do you remember about it today?  The original Fleetwood Mac with Green, Spencer and Kirwin. See, there’s some more english guys.. the “Then Play On” tour. they did “oh well” without the hobbit dance theme thingy that was on the end of the record and the audience didn’t like that, so they cranked it up and did “rattlesnake shake”. Whining over.

If you had to blame someone, who really got you hooked on rock & roll?  This will be a funny answer – Johnny Rivers.  See, when I was 13 and was learning how to do it, I knew I couldn’t be in the Beatles or Stones. I was smart enough to know i wasn’t that cool, but maybe, just maybe i could be as cool as johnny rivers singing “Memphis” or “Seventh Son” and have James Burton play in my band. and then the chicks would dig me.  Yes, I identified with a cartoon character when he said “come to butthead”.

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SUEDE STOUT

1.0  –  What records were you listening to in 8th grade? Lynyrd Skynyrd, Styx, Bad Co..

2.0 – Was there an artist you wanted to be as a kid? a hero figure? Peter Criss, Billy Powell.

3.0 – When did you realize you could do music for a living?  1985.

4.0 – Is Darwin Records looking for new artists? Always.

5.0 – Is the Chicago music scene a focus for you? Absolutely.

6.0 – Turnstyles; Live In The Studio is a cool concept, were you happy with how it turned out?  Very, have gone through 4 pressings!!!  yay!

7.0 – Are you working on any new material right now?  Finishing new Turnstyles CD called Youthful Wisdom features nearly every great Chicago musician I’ve known –Matt Walker, Scott Bennett, Steve Gerlach, Tom Gerlach, Warren Beck, Chris Tomek, Dan Ponosky, John Schulte, Paul Mertens, Todd Sucherman, Clark Sommers and about 20 more! As the title suggests, maybe in some ways we’re smarter when we’re young and our priorities are more than money and world domination.

8.0 – What advice would you give to a young artist entering the studio for the first time?  Work out everything you want to do beforehand, practice with a metronome, but be flexible to the creative nature of recording so you can morph and grow with the process.

9.0 – How long do you think it will be before everything we do is broadcast 24/7 as standard artist branding?  Less than 10 years, maybe 5?

10.0 – You bump into Paul McCartney at The Lantern and he’s up for a late night jam, what Beatles song do you guys play together? “Blackbird”, “One After 909”, “Silly Love Songs” (but I get to play Bass  :-) )

MATT MAGUIRE

1.0 – Are you happy with how your debut Larabee EP Expose A Little Wire has been received?
I am happy. I didn’t know what to expect when I made the decision to release the songs.  It’s been a pleasant surprise to have total strangers listen to the songs and react to them in a positive way.  I’m hoping more people will get to hear the songs as well.

2.0 – Did you have specific goals in mind for the release? There was no master plan for the release of Expose a Little Wire other than to follow in the footsteps of other DIY musicians.  It’s a tricky time in the music business because somewhere along the way people began to assume that music should be free.  So financial goals are difficult to assess.  The main goal is to put the music out and make a connection with people.

3.0 – Are there any plans for a full-length follow up to the EP? There are definitely plans for more recorded music.  I’d love to record a full-length album.  I will probably put out a single or another EP before a full-length because I have songs in the can that I would rather release than hold onto for too long.

4.0 – Do you have a philosophy when it comes to recording?  My philosophy on recording is to get a song to a point where you feel as though you could listen to it forever.  The most frustrating thing about recording is to put in the time, effort and money and come out with something that you can’t stand to listen to.  From a sound perspective, I like classic 1960’s and 1970s recording sounds and styles because on the whole those sounds have staying power.  There’s nothing sadder than to put on a 1980s recording that you loved at the time and realize that the 80s big drum sound ruins the track.  I wish I was more technically oriented so that I could have a better working knowledge of the recording process.  That’s something I need to work on going forward.

5.0 – Your video for “Little Liar” has a great old school vibe & look, how did it come about? Thanks.  I saw other videos that used old footage from various places and came across a neat website that compiled stuff that was no longer covered by copyright, so it was fair game to use.  In searching through the archives I found pieces of a film called “Coffeehouse Rendezvous.”  It was really cheesy but I liked the overall look and feel of it.  Parts of the film were originally shot in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia, not far from my house, so I used those bits and pieces as a nod to my hometown.  Throw in an iMovie editing feature, and you have yourself a video.  There, I’ve given away all of my video creation secrets.

6.0 – When did you get hooked on rock & roll? what songs early in life left a mark on you most? Probably by age 5.  I am the youngest of five children and I used to sit in my room for hours playing my older sisters’ records – hairbrush microphone in hand.  That stack of 45s was full of Motown, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, The Foundations, The Monkees and The Beatles.  From the stack of 45s I think The Foundations “Baby Now That I Found You” got a lot of play.  Seriously, how can anybody resist the “ba da da da” background vocals?  A little later I would say that Elvis Costello’s “The Angels Want To Wear My Red Shoes” left a big mark.  That song was really my introduction to The Byrds because of the jangly guitar sound.  Nick Lowe’s Labor of Lust album in it’s entirety is fantastic as is Please Panic by The Vulgar Boatmen.

7.0 –  Have your tunes always had a twang to them or did that develop over time? I think the twang developed over time, but I was always drawn to the twangy stuff by The Monkees did (Papa Gene’s Blues, What I Am I Doing Hangin’ Round), Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe.  I also had some old Faron Young records as a kid.  I suppose that sound keeps kicking around in my head.

8.0 – Do songs come easy to you or are they labors of love that have to steep before being ready for prime time?  The songs couldn’t come any slower if I tried.  I wish that I could be one of those writers who can bang out song after song.  I am always amazed when I hear someone say that they went into the studio with 30 new songs and whittled it down to 10.  Once written, however, the song structure doesn’t tend to change drastically.

9.0 –  Is there anyone in your life, outside the band, that you trust as sounding board for new material?  I have a friend from high school, Gerry, who used to help manage my old band.  He’s listened to everything I’ve written since I started playing.  His opinion matters because he knows good music and he understands what makes a good song good.

10.0 – Dreaming late last night you got a call from ‘Mr. Bigg’ about a summer tour, what act are you going out in support of?  It would have to be Elvis Costello, but only because he was touring with the spinning wheel of songs from the entirety of his career.  So many great songs.  And because this happened in a dream, all of the fans at the show would become Larabee fans.

DUSTY WRIGHT

Your new record If We Never sounds immediately comfortable – how do you view it in relation to your other musical incarnations?

Very personal and uncomfortably comfortable. The songs were written for me in most instances. Two of my friends died while I was recording it. My son’s godmother Patti and my best friend Buff. It made me examine my life, the life of men my age, my relationship with my family (wife, children, friends, etc.). In many ways, it’s a rumination of a middle-age man’s life; all the lust, love, betrayal, sorrow, joy, the finality of life. It’s no doubt my most personal effort as I’ve really examined my own ego and id on this one. (hear track “Sometimes I”)

How do you approach song writing for a solo release versus, say, GIANTfingers?

No difference, really. Just different players. Interestingly enough, this record began as the second GIANTfingers CD and the morphed into my own solo effort. I recorded some tracks with the band and then started laying down more personal tunes, very sparse, in some instances just my voice and guitar with a few embellishments. But I don’t know if I really approached this record any differently than any of my other records, song-writing wise. I don’t write a song and think of who will play what. I just let it flow and then decide what works for me vs. what may work better for GIANTfingers. I’ve always felt that a good song can be played just as readily on an acoustic guitar as it could be on a cello. Melody is (the) driving force.

Do you think the concept of a full-length record will be spun out in 50 years or stick like the symphony has, as a revered format?

Very good question. I think the full-length is dead right now. How many people ingest a full-length album today? I’d like to see that poll. We buy tracks. Artists like  CeeLo Green have been done well by releasing killer tracks like “Fuck You” or earlier with “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley that made folks stop and notice. And they were done before the albums were released. Besides, did it matter to the Beatles or the British Invasion bands way back when? Nope. They just released singles that got compiled into albums. There is just too much music, too much culture for people to pay attention to an entire album.  Much of my favorite hip-hop has always been best ingested by individual tracks and not entire albums. However, if an album is a magnificent effort and the songs flow into one another, then it rewards the listener like a novel or short movie. Even my own CD is stupid, even though it’s a concept album about middle-aged angst. I’d be a fool to suggest that anyone spend the 40 odd minutes to listen to it. But if they do, I hope they’ll enjoy the experience. I think it works best while driving or riding the subway. Ingest it like an audiobook. I also think that providing strong visual components for your music can act as a barker for your brand. Recently my video for the track “Secret Window” featuring the French actress Stella Velon won Best Music Video at the LA Film & Script festival. And the cover art was rendered by artist Jeff Zenick.

Do you see rock & roll as a reasonable raison d’etre?

Reasonable? No; necessary. Two guitars, bass, and drums. A garage. Some dudes that want to let it all hang out, and voila… Let there be rock! Rock and roll will never die. Long live rock! Rock is just like any other musical genre. Once you introduce it to the status quo, it will ascend, peak, descend, and then settle in to itself. Rock probably had its Renaissance during the late ’60s/early ’70s. Those bands and tunes have stood the test of time. Just like jazz in the ’50s, classical music in the 19th century. But then again, punk rock kicked it in the arse and it had a rebirth. Rap kicked it in the teeth. And on and on…

Did you have to fight or embrace cynicism to keep on keepin’ on?

Not at all. FIrst and foremost I have to be engaged myself. I don’t look at songwriting, or painting, or writing a great novel as any different. It’s all about the journey for any artist. You have an idea, you produce the idea in some format, and then feel compelled to share that idea with other people. Then you leave it up to others to embrace it or reject it. An artist need only worry about pleasing oneself. Any attention after that is extra gravy. But it’s easy to be cynical given today’s music culture. Especially when so many people feel that music has so little value that they have no qualms stealing it. I often ask these same folks why they don’t steal art off of walls. Normally they have no irrefutable rebuttal. Musicians need to make a living, too.

If you had to pick, what one year in rock is your all-time favorite? 

Wow, great question. Certainly my pre-teen years in the late ’60s defined me, and probably unconsciously informed my own musical style, my ethos, pathos, id, etc. ’69 to ’72 were memorable for me because my older cousin who was attending Kent State bought me Abbey Road and Led Zeppelin and introduced me to heavier music. I was already a Beatles fan, but Abbey Road was the album, especially side two, that made me appreciate the album as an album.  Wasn’t long after that I began ingesting Cream, Bowie, Dylan, Santana, Hendrix, The Doors, The Allman Brothers, Neil Young, et al.

Sometimes artists reach similar places completely unaware of one another and that cohesion is what creates a ‘scene’. Was there ever an artist you heard that made you think “yeah, that’s my scene man!”?

You know I’m often inspired in the least likely places. Sometimes it can be a tiny jazz club in the Village or rock club or even a private party, but I think that when Americana hit in NYC in the late 90s it was a scene I really felt a kinship and bond with. Many of the bands played the same venues, sometimes sharing the same bill. That was also was period during the mid-to-late 90s where I was producing a series of Americana gigs at CB’s Gallery (next to CBGB’s) called The Front Porch Series. And if was often my band and 4 other bands sharing the night. Most of us waved the flag of roots-rock, alt-country, Americana. Then one day I was a playing a BMI showcase at the original Living Room and Ollabelle was performing before us and it was like, “Holy Shit! That’s it man, that’s the sound, that’s the vibe, that’s the band. That’s all of what I wanted to convey. I turned to the dude next to me and said, “wow, they should be signed immediately.” And he said, “they just were. T-Bone Burnett is bringing them in to CBS.” I was stoked for them because they so deserved it. They just nailed it! Ditto for early Daniel Lanois and his solo records and gigs.

Any goofy behind-the-scenes stuff at Creem that like to laugh about now?

Nothing goofy really. But I do have some cool rock and roll stories. One of my fondest memories involves riding around Glastonbury during the festival with Robert Plant. He was headlining the main stage that Saturday night and I assigned myself to cover that event while at the helm of Creem. I took the train up from London and met him at his hotel. We climbed into his Mercedes and he drove me around Glastonbury sharing stories of King Arthur and the Holy Grail and the Maidens of Tor. He then asked me if I was a Moby Grape fan. I was even though I was introduced to them much later in my rock and roll life. He proceeded to try to ring up Jerry Miller, one of the guitarists and songwriters in the band. When we got back to the festival, we caught some the Velvet Underground’s reunion set, some of Midnight Oil, hung out with the Black Crowes backstage, and then Plant finally played. He was magnificent, as one might imagine.

What is your take on the new media and where does Culture Catch fit in?

New media is now. As I say, “converge is the word.” Web content has converged with TV content. The content is delivered on multi platforms and devices. Most consumers have access to two of the three screens — mobile, laptop, and desktop. Most folks in America could care less what size the screen might be. Plus, you can watch your content when you please in any environment. CultureCatch.com was one of the first companies to actually produce and post audio podcasts and vidcasts/webcasts on iTunes when we launched 6 years. My show featured compelling, long conversation with celebs in all areas of the arts. I think because I had this great access I was able to draw attention to our website. So we were part of the birth of new media. We even ran the podcasting symposium at Macworld the year they launched the iPhone. It was quite the event. Apple has been very kind to us. Really helped promote our programming across multiple platforms. Ditto for Verizon Wireless and some other forward thinking brands. Just this week we were mentioned in the New York Times by Mike Hudack, CEO of Blip.tv, as one of his favorite shows on his network. Am I getting wealthy from it? Not yet. But I’ve got no gatekeepers telling me what I can or can’t program. As long as there are interesting artists willing to share their stories, I will keep producing my content.

Rumour has it you were once purified in the waters of Lake Minnetonka, how was it working with Prince?

No rumors, nothing but the truth! Yes, I was the only journalist to interview him in the early ’90s while I was at the helm of Creem.  He was then known as “the-artist-formerly-known-as-Prince”. I had agreed to a cover story with him, but I had to accept certain conditions. Interview would be conducted at Paisley Park, in person. However, I couldn’t bring a tape recorder, pencil, pen, crayon, et al. to document said interview. I would have to create an interview with my memory and creative moxie. I was up to the challenge as I felt he’d appreciate my humble Akron, Ohio roots. Hung out all day at Paisley Park. Met all of his band and folks that work there. Finally got to meet and hang with him towards the middle of the afternoon. He was too cool, a bit shy, but deep. A few months later, he ended up hiring me to publish and edit his fanzine New Power Generation. That lasted for a few years until he got distracted with other things.

MICHAEL LUX

1.0  What’s your vision for Michael Lux & The Bad Sons? I’m concerned at the moment with the city I live in.  There are very few ‘front’ people.  Most of the good ones are women, which is fantastic. Everyone really loves meandering at the moment. And I’m at times hard pressed to find anyone that gives a shit or two about lyrical content. None of this is really a problem for me, though. I try and do the opposite of those things. Though there is a chance I could be persuaded by some monitary sum to try being a woman for a short time.  The vision for me is my songs settling in people’s conscience for the long haul, the way the songs i love do in mine, i suppose.

2.0  What’s more important to you, the tunes or kicking ass live? The most important thing is the songs. with good songs you will always kick ass live. why do you think the modern ‘pop punk’ and ‘nu metal’ genres were as short lived as they were?  My guess is that once people got home from diving around like lunatics, they realized they were listening to essentially the same terrible song over and over again by countless bands trying to be the other one.  But they could do that cool thing where they flip the guitar round their head or maybe vomit on stage!  yep, songs win for me.

3.0 Were the songs all really “written in 30 minutes” or are you trying to say that a song either happens or it doesn’t? It sounds awfully pretentious, but the songs actually were written in 30 minutes.  It honestly wasn’t me showing off or some bullshit holier than though stunt i was trying to pull. In Hollus, I was always used to taking days, weeks to sort of, “perfect” tunes. I had a hard time writing material for myself in the past few years because I couldn’t decide what it should sound like. Finally I sat down with a bottle of pinot and once i had a riff, that was it. I just went stream of consciousness and said ‘done.’ Put it down on pro tools because i didn’t want any time to start rethinking.  And then a few days later, another bottle, another song, etc.  This must be working for me, because I’ve just written a few more tracks the same way in the last few weeks.

4.0  Since your name is on the door, did you write all the songs or were they collaborative efforts? All the songs on “Neat Repeater” were written and recorded before I had a band.  I wasn’t even planning on forming a band for it. Just releasing it for folks that sort of cared about what I was doing in Hollus.  I’ve always been a pretty singluar songwriter.  I’m never opposed to writing with others, but I know how I work, obviously. The live group really works within the ranks to bend and perfect things, and the licks and riffs are all interpretted by the players I have, which are sometimes different from show to show, which makes the shows varied and spontaneous.

5.0 What is your favorite song of your FREE EP “Neat Repeater”? “So Loud.”  It’s the song that kicked off this whole mess. It’s when I said, “ahhh, so that’s what it sounds like..” and made perfect sense.  The song itself is very much about Chicago and embracing life, even if it’s shit, fuck it, let’s fuck it out kind of thing.  I feel like a lot of people in the city, if they’re writing about it directly, write about escaping it, or they just avoid it all together and write about some place else for some reason.  I’ve done it as well, in the other band.  I was feeling like Chicago was giving me a giant wine kiss and it needed to be recipricated.

6.0  When did you fall in love with the idea of playing music? When I was 6 I was very in to Cypress Hill and I think MC Hammer. I had the fucking pants, man. Green and Black tiger striped if you care. I had a kid move in two doors down that tried for 4 months to play me a record that I refused every time.  It turned out to be The Beatles doing “Rock n’ Roll Music” – how fucking cornball of a story is that! It’s true though!  I flipped my pudding. I got a guitar and drum kit at the next christmas, though I broke into the attic about a month into November and started learning when my parents were at work. I had a fake band with that kid for the next 6 years, that ended in 3 original records we wrote before the age of 13. I was always completely bonkers for music.

7.0  Does the stage come naturally to you? People say I’m very natural on the stage.  I do feel very at ease.  Many times I feel like my life off the stage is spent waiting to be back on one, yeah. But going back to what I said before, I started playing in live bands when I was 14 and playing drums in church congregations before that, so I was always pretty used to it i suppose.

8.0  Do you guys do any covers live? Yeah, I always try to play a new cover every show.  I think it’s fun for everyone, as long as fucking Live Nation or the RIAA or whatever doesn’t sue me for it.  We’ve done “Moonage Daydream” by Bowie, “Crimson and Clover” and “Motor Away” by Guided By Voices.  WE’re always entertaining new ones, post one on the fuckbook if you have a suggestion.

9.0  Paul Stanley of KISS said that “most people listen with their eyes”, do you agree? God love him, He must have said that in the years he was wearing makeup right?  Like pre 1995 unplugged or whatever? Because after that, “Love Gun” only sounds good with the eyes closed. I do agree, actually, and I think it’s a good thing.  We need to have something to weed out groups, right? It’s incredible how many bands get away with looking like complete baffoons.  If the singer’s wearing shorts, I don’t care if it’s fucking Elvis Presley, i’m walking out. In fact, if anyone besides the drummer is wearing shorts, i’m throwing something at the stage.  New rule.

10.0  You’ve got one ‘ticket to ride’ in a time machine to a moment in rock history, what are your coordinates? Does in between Debbie Harry’s legs circa 1977 count as ‘coordinates’??  That’s dirty, forgive me.


SECRET COLOURS


1.0 How did Secret Colours come together as a band? We all grew up in the same town, pretty much.  I had a hand full of songs I had recorded but didn’t have a band to play them out, so I asked my friends if they would play them with me. Dylan and I had been jamming together since early high school. We met Dave and Justin later on in high school. Dave had played in other local bands and Justin hung around the crowd affiliated with Dave’s bands.  Once Dave left his previous band, he decided to start the band with me. About a month after the band started we brought Margaret in to play keys and sing backing vocals, to fill out our sound. – Tommy

2.0 How does the writing process work for you guys? Tommy usually brings in the structure and vocals of a new song. Earlier on in the band he wrote all of the songs, but now sometimes he’ll bring in just a chord progression and lyrics and we jam on it, as a group, until we get it where we like it.  We’ve progressed into a much more collaborative effort now.  We’re all finding our place in the band, and know how to compliment each other in the right ways. – Dave

3.0  If you had to pick a seminal influence for the band, who would it be? The Beatles.

4.0  What were your favorite bands growing up? The Beatles, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Blur, Gorillaz, Dandy Warhols, Spacemen 3, Stone Roses, Oasis.

5.0  Is Chicago a part of the bands sensibility? We love Chicago, we grew up with it, its our home. – Tommy

I think you can hear in our sound that we’re from Chicago, or at least not from the typical areas you’d find this style of music.  I think it’s evident we’re not from the West-Coast, or from Austin, or even from across the pond.  We’ve lived here our entire lives so I think there’s a certain quality to our music that reflects that Midwestern, dreary or droney sound. – Dave

6.0  How do Secret Colours approach playing live? We are pretty conventional as far as instrumentation. We are open to trying new things but we just can’t really afford to get theatrical, yet. – Tommy

7.0  How do you feel before shows? Depends on the show but for the most part exited. Its the most fun thing to do in the world. I used to vomit before every show but not so much any more. – Tommy

Drunk. – Dave

8.0  You have been singled-out as “a band to watch in 2011,” what are your plans for the new year? We have tons of shows to play as well as a few festivals. We are going to record a new full length album in the summer. – Tommy

Yea, we got invited to officially showcase SXSW this year, so we’ll be down there, and we’ll be playing a couple really exciting day parties as well.  This summer we’ll be bumming around Chicago recording, so we’ll probably stick close to home, but we’ve got some exciting shows already lined up for the summer time. – Dave

9.0  What’s your favorite SC song? Im not sure…it varies. I would have to say Love because it was the most collaborative song we did from our record. Plus its fun as hell to play live. – Tommy

You haven’t heard it yet! – Dave

10.0  Does a band have to get along well to succeed? Yes, unless you’re Oasis. When a band doesn’t get along it makes you feel like its pointless to keep going.