JOHN RUSSELL


1.0  How long have you been recording your own music? Since at least 1984.

2.0  What is your favorite part of creating a song? The mixing process…it is fun to play each part individually, but to hear the sum of all the parts is orgasmic.

3.0  Have you ever been in love with an instrument before? Well, yes, and I am still in love with my vintage Gretsch drum-set and my Noble Cooley deep shell snare.

4.0  What is the music scene like in France? how has it affected you as an artist To be fair, I suppose it depends on where you are in France. To be polite, I will just say that I have only been impressed once…and it was by a cover band. France has never been (in my opinion) a front-leader in music innovation. You have Gainsbourg and M, both great musicians and writers and then you have David Guetta, but I’m sorry, I cant give much credit to a DJ. I live in a village of 65,000 people…the “talent” is limited. I suppose I have an unfair bias as I was “grown” in Chicago and am used to a cornucopia of good music…I must say that the lack of good music has inspired me, like being locked up in a room for 8 years and not being able to hear new or any music at all. The music I make is not reflective of the music today, it is reflective of me and my past influences.

5.0  How did you get the nickname “Johnny Bottles”? Rehearsing with Rubygrass was always a party and I tended to “accidentally” leave my empties for weeks next to my kit. I would have to walk carefully to my drums to avoid knocking them down…and when I did, Oskar, our lead singer, would say “That’s my Johnny Bottles.” Nothing romantic.

6.0  Will Guitar Hero save or destroy rock? I played it once and I hated it. Nothing will destroy rock and rock will never need to be saved. It caters mostly to the “wannabees” and should be taken for what it is, a game.

7.0  Can all this machinery making modern music still be open-hearted? I hate modern music..and probably always will. I feel no honesty or sincerity in a lot of today’s music. All I hear and see is someone trying to get recognized and make a fast buck. Although machinery has been helping poor fucks for along time to think that they are “artists”…. I remember when Softcell came out with “Tainted Love”…it was considered ridiculous. Kraftwerk is another band that relies solely on machinery and frankly, I love it…so to make a short story long, I guess a hesitant “yes” is my answer.

8.0  Is popular music the real lightening rod for higher consciousness or peace? NO, its for the lower unconscious and seems to generate greed, hatred and bitterness!

9.0  What is the first album you ever bought and why?
Kansas….Leftouverture….a master piece! Learned to play every song on the drums; cool time signature changes. (My) first taste of prog rock and I have never lost the taste for it….I have every Rush album ever printed and had to buy some of their albums twice to get it on CD!

10.0  If you could have only one robot in your band, which instrument would they play? Cowbell ~

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TOM BRAAM of BRAAM

1.0  Why are you a singer in a band?  Someone has to be pretty.

2.0  What is your favorite Braam song? Kings I.

3.0  Is Youtube good for rock & roll? Yes.

4.0  When you do you like listening to music most? In my truck.

5.0  From where do you draw the inspiration for your lyrics? When I’m purchasing a two-liter plastic nasty bottle of Rhine wine off of Roosevelt road in singles.

6.0  You like to cook, is music food? No.

7.0  You also like to paint, is painting a different high than making music? I kind of realized that when I paint I’m like a little dictator to myself and my demons, yet when I write music with my brothers I act like a mouse just hoping for providence, now I am a rabid donkey! (Upon the release of their latest “Living Room”)

8.0  How would you describe the evolution of Braam’s music? Pacific Blue.

9.0  What is your favorite stage in Chicago? Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn because the local folks sit on the side of the stage drinking coffee and expect good music and they watch my fingers as I play my chords.  And there is a certain amount of respect that you give Fitzgeralds and you take home the same.

10.0  Is there such thing as a “ghost in the machine”? You would have to ask Trudy Styler Sting ~

STEVE GERLACH w/ TOMORROW THE MOON

Is Rock & Roll dead yet? Rock & Roll is hanging by the skin of its ass. We are that skin.

What is your favorite stage guitar and why? I can get by with just about any Gibson. For me, at this point, the pedals are almost more crucial than any specific guitar.

How would you describe Tomorrow The Moon? Tomorrow The Moon is about quality songs and a spacey rock vibe. We don’t go out of our way to try and be “different,” but some people still seem to think that a band can’t have  prog leanings and still be ‘punk.’ The fact is, music is still evolving, or at least trying to. But if you try too hard, you’ll lose sight of the songs. If you don’t have a song, you don’t have anything. There are things ‘Tomorrow The Moon’ will never do. “Jamming” is one of them. There are others, too, like growing beards.

You have toured a good deal, how do you like the road? I enjoy the bits of touring I’ve done because I know they will end. Some people don’t want it to end. I have a life here in Chicago, and particularly in the summer, I don’t have an urge to leave. But music has taken me places I wouldn’t have otherwise gone, and I have no regrets.

Have you ever smashed a guitar? I did sort of smash the hell out of one of my favorites due to a terrible monitor mix that only got worse. The neck was badly broken… I immediately felt bad about it, but it made some cool noises when I jumped all over it, so I guess the audience must have loved it, not that I was aware… I had pretty bad bruises on my knees the next day. Tommy Keene refers to those sort of incidents as “glamour fits.” The guitar recovered fully.

Why do you love The Kinks so much? Songs! I saw them on Sept. 17th, 1980 and it was super high-energy. By that time they had a wealth of material, the best material any band ever had. And they just totally rocked.

Do you ever get angry when you are playing guitar? Is that an emotion that makes sense in rock? If the song is angry, sure. Not as many things make me angry now as when I was young. One of the things that makes me want to slit my wrists is that happy, upbeat positive music that you hear on ‘adult rock’ radio stations. There’s a place for that stuff, I guess, but that place is not anywhere near me.

Will radio ever have a “Tivo” feature? I don’t know if there are enough people listening to radio for the development of a Tivo-type feature to make sense. Satellite radio and Pandora have that covered more or less, right? If it’s cost-effective, then it will happen.

Does every band need a love song? No, I don’t think every band needs a love song; in fact, it can be very awkward when a band whose range has never included love songs tries to go there. Metallica suddenly tried to add that layer to their bag of tricks one day, and if it wasn’t a commercial flop, well, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an artistic flop.

What happened to Sting? Sting got famous writing songs that were inspired by and about being very unhappy, and then all of the sudden he couldn’t tap into that emotion anymore because has was too happy. Success completely changed him, as it does to almost anyone. McCartney was happy to begin with, so he was relatively unfazed by success, whereas Lennon started whining about his childhood after the Beatles broke up. The truth is, he was out of ideas, so he started trying to tap into his unhappy youth. Who cares? He had already peaked. I’m starting to sound like Gene Simmons, so it must be time to go ~