HAMID SAMI w/ TELECRAZE

What are you working on right now and why are you excited about it?   I am working on Telecraze LP. i want to release it in late 2017 or early 2018 and, it is going to be the first time i release an LP officially. I am working on film music and instrumentals as well, mostly focused on my works with my friend Jon Meyer, a film director in Portland I have been friend with since 2009.he did this doc called “thanks for checking in” featuring one of my instrumentals, which is now mostly set for awards and festivals before being released.

Did you grow up with music in your family?  No, I grew up listening to music secretly, carrying my cassettes whenever I went out and listening to them before sleep. I received copies from friends. my cousin introduced me to a lot of music, Pink Floyd mostly notable, the Iranian 70’s era had some good music, and some of the more contemporary musicians did some good songs, but I think the darkness of the world kept me more towards western music. I grew up in nature, and then in 8 I had to relocate to town, right in the capital, and it was so rugged, so rough, I started to realize why did some of the songs I listened to when I was 4 were so dark, later I found out those songs were Kraftwerk.

What was your first public performance?  It was in 2008, in Tehran Art university, we had a band called Font and the students had this ceremony to introduce contemporary music to the students of the university.it was ok.

How do songs come about for you and Telecraze?   Uh, sometimes I am playing an instrument, and then it resonates with a part of me, I just happen to let words come out and little by little they paint a picture of what this is pulling the strings on  ….in Telecraze, I worked with the members on my finished songs or just an intro I didn’t know what we were doing, it was mostly to let it work for everyone, we did one song we all worked on from beginning to the end, drummer was a bit hardcore so which ever direction we would take things would come out a bit aggressive.one time our bass player had a very bad experience in streets, he saw a man on a wheelchair came right in the middle of street and put himself on fire, and wouldn’t let anyone get close to him, Mehdy was traumatized, wanted to make a song about it, so I went working with our drummer and did it little by little. I made the vocals to the last part of the song in rehearsals. We called it Burning Alien, recorded it alongside 4 other songs to include in our EP, Knockout Mice. but the recording went bad , so when the finished work was in our hand it didn’t sound like what we wanted so it never came out. From all those songs I released only 4 of them on our SoundCloud.

How would you describe the new music / live scene for bands in Iran and how do you feel it’s different from what you know about the states?   The scene here is a pop, funk, rock and singer song writer on major scene, and noise, ambient, electronic on a very smaller scale. There is hip hop underground going on.

How do you feel about playing covers and what are your personal fail-safe go-to’s?   I don’t cover much. I did a Grizzly Bear cover with Telecraze for our live show, the song “Yet again”.i did  Radiohead’s Creep and NIN’s Hurt for myself. And just recently played Kesson Delef of Aphex Twin on the piano, I don’t feel like doing covers on live shows, I go on places when doing covers which I won’t go naturally.some times it’s easier for me to do a cover than my own songs, I do them better  I can’t go fail-safe. there is no life in it when it is not to help you reach your deep subconscious areas, and subconscious is very chaotic.it could change everything upon reaching, the feelings may not lay a place for all elements one deals with in their world.

Who are your favorite songwriters / bands?   Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Sigur os, Boards of Canada, Nine inch Nails, The Doors, Autechre, Aphex Twin, Nick Drake, Loscil, Damien Rice, Kendrick Lamar, Farhad Mehrad, Brian Eno & Harold Budd, Zbignew Preisner,

Your instrumental music was in a documentary which is now being set for awards and festivals, what’s it about?   It’s about a man Ian Stout.who started filming himself and uploading these clips every day ,as a remedy to help himself reach tranquility and peace,face his insecurities every day and talk his heat out as much,Jon Meyer the director been following him and decided to do a documentary on him using the videos on the anniversary of the beginning of these uploads..

You’re time machine is set for the 70’s, what concert do you go to?  The Doors, that is the kind of world I have never experienced.

Are you jazzed about any new artists or releases over there that we should know about?   There are a couple of ambient and electronic musicians i enjoyed  listening, Siavash Amini, Umchunga, Tegh, Idlefon, singer/songwriter Soheil Nafisi, Iranian traditional music Kamanche Master, Keyhan Kalhor.

 

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BEN TAYLOR w/ BEECHERS FAULT

 

 

20160511 - Beecher's Fault at Mercury Lounge 0016
photo by Gustavo Mirabile

What was the first album you ever purchased and how do you rank it today?   Not sure what the first one I bought with my own money was but the first CD I was given was Queen’s Greatest Hits 1 & 2…the double disc. My parents gave it to me for Christmas when I was maybe 7. It’s still one of my favs to this day. So many incredible songs.

20160511 - Beecher's Fault at Mercury Lounge 0020
photo by Gustavo Mirabile

Was guitar your first instrument? and what was your first guitar?   First instrument I played was actually piano. My parents bought an old electric organ from a neighbor in England for me to practice on. I didn’t start playing guitar until I was 13 and my first guitar was a black and white Stratocaster. I was really into Clapton at the time so I think he inspired that choice.

What do you play these days and do you use the same gear on stage as in the studio?   I’m really not much of a gear guy. I like to keep it as simple as possible so I play an American Telecaster for its simplicity and versatility. I own several guitars (most of them gifts) and I’ll occasionally switch it up but the tele is my go-to for studio and live. My amp is a Budda tube amp and I love that thing.

You’ve moved around a lot geographically, how do you think those contrasts of place & time have impacted your music or approach to it?   Well being from England and having English parents who love music has definitely had a huge impact on me. I grew up listening to all the English greats (Beatles, Stones, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Floyd, the Police, Bowie etc…) I think my time in Texas allowed me to gain an appreciation for country music. I’m a HUGE Jerry Jeff Walker fan. But just in general I’ve always used music as a medium for making new friends in new places. Everyone loves music so it’s a great thing to talk about when you’re in a new place.

What’s your favorite part about being in a band; writing, recording, or playing out? I love all of it but writing is probably my favorite part. I tend to write in quick spurts. I’ll get an idea for a song and finish writing it in a day or two. I love it when it all happens at once like that.

What do you think is the tightest Beecher’s Fault elevator pitch (or did I just blow the interview?) “Wilco and Passion Pit had a baby named Beecher’s Fault”

Take us behind the scenes: what is the bands dynamic and how does that vary pre-show verses post?   Ken and I tend to run the show. We are the main songwriters and founders of the band so we are the most intense and bossy. The other three (Lauren, Serge and Max) are awesome musicians and great friends so it’s really easy to work with them. They do a great job of tolerating us. Pre-show I’d say we are generally relaxed but a little intense and focused. Post show we all like to hang and have a good time. Beechers-Fault-full-band-photo

You’re a Wilco aficionado of sorts — what are your favorite three Wilco albums? “A Ghost is Born” is definitely my favorite. I was introduced to it and Wilco in my first week as a student at Colgate University. It just really resonates with me and I think the songs are some of Jeff’s most expressive and personal. After that I’d have to say “Being There” and “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”. Both of them are just packed with amazing tracks that I can listen to hundreds of times and never get tired of.
What advise would you give to a young artist or band getting ready to really ‘give it a go’? It’s way harder than you think. Don’t expect anything from anyone and make sure your band-mates are your favorite people in the world because years from now you’ll still be in the “struggle” with them.
You’ve been asked to do a tribute on the Grammy’s: who is the artist and what is the song do? Wilco, “The Late Greats”.

JOHN NORRIS

1.0 – How did you get your start in the music business?

I played with bands in the late 1970s/early 80s in Ireland, wound up in Hamburg, Germany in the mid 80s and started working as a crew member on tours. I toured with a variety of acts including Devo, Rory Gallagher, Nick Cave, Einstürzende Neubauten

2.0 – Peterson has quite a long and rich history, when did you first become aware of them and how did you ultimately become involved with the brand?

I used Peterson strobe tuners on the road always, no self-respecting roadie should be without one. All my peers used them. The challenges onstage during a show are many and varied, and you need to arm yourself with the very best tools to excel. Sometimes I see guys trying to get by with a needle/LED tuner and struggling with things like tuning acoustic instruments in deafening conditions, which is no problem with a mechanical strobe. It’s just about having the right tools for the job. I started repairing the older models for colleagues and through contact over the years with the factory in Chicago, built up a relationship with Peterson that led to the offer of a job in the U.S. a dozen years ago.

3.0 – The Who’s-Who of real touring artists know Peterson is the gold standard,  is it difficult finding ways to bring that message to new, less established musicians?

It can be harder because of the nature of the product; a tuner is a functional piece of gear. There are those who value an effects pedal like a chorus or delay more than a high end tuner, but they forget that tuning is crucial. It’s the building blocks of tone, because harmonic content is a vital part of tone, and the only way to influence it is by tuning as precisely as possible.

4.0 – Do you find it ironic that most of the early live recordings of folks like Hendrix & Zeppelin are often grossly out-of tune?

People sometimes say that but it’s not entirely true, people don’t realize that strobe tuners have been around since the mid-1930s and it was the advent of recording and the “Talkies”, not Rock ‘n’ Roll which spurred interest in tuning properly, by that I mean the first time attention was paid to overtones and harmonic content.

Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and even the Sex Pistols and the Ramones  had strobe tuners in their arsenal of gear.

In those days when actual Rock Stars walked the Earth maybe they didn’t always use them or were maybe too out of it to do so! Nevertheless, those artists did have an innate sense of what is “in tune”.

Being “in tune” is also open to interpretation, dissonance is as much of a sonic tool as consonance is, listen to any epic guitar solo and it is peppered (and sweetened!) with both. The trick is to be aware of which is which and why.

5.0 – In terms of live concerts, what’s the hairiest artist-related situation you have ever had to deal with? 

Let’s see, dismantling part of a building in Moscow in order to “procure” instruments (scrap metal) for German industrial noise band Einstürzende Neubauten with the KGB style officials breathing down my neck or maybe doing a gig with a scantily clad Nina Hagen in a maximum security prison would probably count.

6.0 – I imagine you have fielded strange requests from artists over the years as a roadie and at Peterson? 

As an ex-roadie my lips are sealed (Ancient Order of The Road forbids it :-).

At Peterson, plenty of strange requests, a tuner for chemical silos to indicate how much material was left inside (existing systems are apparently not very good!).

A request for a tuner for suspension bridge tensioning (!)

Tuning the Peterson Bottle Organ.

At the recent Royal Diamond Jubilee in the UK, the eight bells adorning the prow of the Queens barge were tuned using a Peterson Strobe Tuner.

7.0 – You have quite a guitar collection, any favorites you could never part with?

I have a 1977 Gurian JM that I’m very fond of, and a 1956 Gibson LG1 that’s got quite a charm to it, I also have a couple of ‘70s Guild twelve string guitar that I like. At Peterson, we use a wide range of instruments when creating our sweetened tuning presets and we often include our own personal instruments.

8.0 – If you could program Star Trek’s Holodeck with a couple concert settings you lived, what would the menu look like?

Leipzig, Germany Oct 25th 1989: On tour through East Germany (or GDR as it was known then), with a bunch of artists. The lead singer of one of the bands coyly wishes the audience “all the best for the future”, and is met with silence, then one handclap, then two, then three, erupting into a standing ovation. A few days later, the Berlin Wall falls.

Hamburg, Germany March 31st 1990:  Standing beside Jerry Lee Lewis after delivering the “piano du jour” for him to warm up on, when Jerry Lee says “boys, this is a fine piano, some day when I got the money, I’m gonna buy me one o’ these”. My crew buddy Jed glances at the stacks of dollars in the room which JLL insisted he be paid in and pipes up “the money lying around here would do fine as a down payment”. Happily we got out alive without JLL taking umbrage.

Hamburg, Germany Oct 24th 1990:  Dizzy Gillespie sits down beside me at the back of the stage by the dimmers, looks at the band, looks at me and says “Ain’t that a heck of a band?” It was his own band who he often allowed to “stretch out” by leaving the stage to them, a generous guy.

Paris, France 18th Dec 1992 Rory Gallagher playing up a storm, blows his amps up, which trips a circuit breaker taking out the entire PA. Rory switches to acoustic guitar and plays unamplified to a hushed crowd, until some unfortunate individual exits the restrooms via the very squeaky door, cue the entire crowd looking around to see who the heretic was!

Osaka, Japan July 8th 1993:  Explaining to a frightened stage manager that no, I didn’t need any hi octane fuel to power the tuned jet turbine used on the set of Einstürzende Neubauten and no, we didn’t need to set the stage on fire like last time……………

9.0 – How do you feel about the auto-tuning phenomenon?

I think it has its place, but there are so many people using it without any knowledge of or regard for proper intonation and temperament theory (you cannot tune everything as you would a guitar) and that’s why it sounds so artificial even when used sparingly. If you’ve ever tried to make a keyboard sound like a horn section, the same problem arises.

I can always hear it, it’s very easy to detect and differentiate from naturally in-tune recordings.

I guess I should say I’m more a fan of the preventative (tune and intonate properly when recording) rather than the curative (fix it later).

10.0 – Sound analysis is crucial in testing architectural stability for the world’s most ambitious structures and it has been postulated that sound was the secret to the building of the pyramids; is sound the most powerful force in the universe?

I would say that sound is all pervasive.

VON CLOEDT

1.0 – What 3 albums would you say had the biggest impact on you as a kid – are they still essential to you?

Wow, I had to think really hard on this one.

I’m not so sure that I can narrow it down to 3 albums, as much as 3 songs. When I was a kid, around 9 or 10, listening to the radio wherever I was, I wasn’t so much interested in what album these songs were on, but rather what the SONG was, and maybe who sang it. I had an uncle who was in country music cover bands for a long time in my life, and he could do a killer Johnny Cash voice. But, at the time of being so young, and not caring about who Johnny Cash was, the lyrics of “Folsom Prison Blues” can stand out if you’re paying attention to them, and I remember thinking “dang, that’s messed up”. And only thinking back on that do I realize that that was when I started to actually care about music and see how cool and different it can be, because… well… they weren’t going to be playing that song on “The Muppet Show” anytime soon.

The second would be the first time I heard Nirvana, which was their MTV Unplugged session. They did this song called “The Man Who Sold The World” by this guy I didn’t know about named David Bowie. That was a two-for-one. Just like every kid in the mid 90’s wanting to be a musician, Kurt was that motivation, and it made me want to find out who the hell this David Bowie was. So, I started looking into more of the historical aspect of music/musicians.

And the third one, the one band that made me hunt for meaning BEHIND the lyrics is Pink Floyd. Besides the Johnny Cash tune and the fact that I heard a lot of country tunes from my Uncle’s cover band, The Silverwings Band, Americana wasn’t really apart of my early musical development, it was classic rock.

Are they still essential to me today? Absolutely, you can’t deny the classics.

2.0 – How does being a musician yourself impact your opinion on a disc received for consideration if at all?

I think the fact that I’m a musicians affects a lot of how I listen to an album. I listen for musicianship, lyrical quality, and mixing. If an artist/band is willing to record and send out this album, they better make sure that it’s the best that it can be, not just because they want to have something out there for someone to listen to. I don’t want to hear your basement tapes with the neighbors dog barking in the background.

3.0 – You recently celebrated a milestone with your 100th AmericanaRockMix.com podcast, what inspired you to start doing them in the first place and have you been surprised by its acceptance and growth online?

Being from St. Louis, I grew listening to mainstream radio and not knowing anything besides what the radio tells me to listen to. Then as I got older, I started finding other bands that I really liked, but weren’t getting any radio play. I come from the land of Wilco and Son Volt. They sell out shows in St. Louis, but do they get played on the radio on  a regular basis? No, because they don’t fit the popular radio format. And so, I started to question “if these bands are so good, why have I never heard them anywhere besides my friends’ CD players”. So I started doing this tiny little, extremely unprofessional, make-shift, blah blah blah, show to put on the internet in hopes that someone, somewhere would find it, and love these bands as much as I do. Without trying to sound like a martyr for the music, I really did start it for the love of the music.

The acceptance and growth aspect blow me away. I think I’m a little detached from the extent of how far around the world this show goes. I get e-mails from all around the world and it never ceases to amaze me. Is the show popular? I don’t know. I know that bands like the show, but do the individual music listeners? Once again, I don’t know. And I’m ok with that. I know how many downloads and listens each show gets per month, and it’s exciting to see the numbers go up each month. But then again, they’re just numbers. And I’m not completely sure how relevant that should be to me. Not to say that I don’t appreciate those who listen to the show, because I absolutely do. If it wasn’t for e-mails and facebook messages that I get from people telling me about how they have a new favorite band or just bought a new album online because of two songs that I played on the show, I probably would have gotten bored a long time ago. It just feels good to get some verification that I’m not doing this for no reason.

4.0 – Genre tags like ‘Americana’ can help an artist reach their audience but can also have a negative effect in the sense that they may limit an artists appeal, is the term Americana Rock intended to expand that scope? 

The tag “Americana” can really detract the casual listener from checking out a new band. There are stereotypes and stigmas that go along with the term which have gained attention due to the “redneck” movement in country music. But because of those limitations that can be applied to “Americana”, I needed to bypass that with something that people can relate to more, such as the hugely ambiguous term of “rock”. Plus it brings a format to the show. I don’t want to do a show of ballads, that’s going to put people to sleep. A lot of people listen to the show at work, or in the car, or while exercising. They need something that will catch their attention. But, yes it’s meant to expand the scope of the show without sounding overbearing. If I really wanted to expand the scope of the show, I could have named it The Americana Bluegrass Folk Alt. Country Cowpunk Rockabilly Extravaganza Rock Mix.

5.0 – One of the attractions to the home-spun podcast format must be being able to promote the artists you dig with no constraints, would you ever relinquish that to an extent for a larger audience on radio or Sirius? 

The fact that it’s a home-spun podcast with no limitations for the artists or myself is a strong fixture in the format of the show. If I gave up any of that for any reason, it would no longer be “The Americana Rock Mix”. It would just be another generic radio show. Not to say that I wouldn’t gladly do a SiriusXM or terrestrial radio show. But it wouldn’t be The Americana Rock Mix as it stands now. Maybe a variation of that.

6.0 – As with any media outlet, quality control is your calling card; what is your criteria for featuring an artist on ARM?

I really try to emphasize to people the “ROCK” aspect of the show. If it’s not up tempo or there’s no driving force in the song, it doesn’t stand a strong chance to making it onto the show. But not every song can be a rocker. It’s also got to be a song that will get caught in people’s heads. People like songs that have a catchy hooks. And, like I mentioned earlier, good audio quality is a must.

7.0 – You recently relocated to the Gulf Coast of Florida, were you burned out on the St. Louis scene and what have you learned about the Fla. scene so far?

I grew up on the St. Louis music scene. And it was tough. There’s not a whole lot of support from people up there. And then when I moved down here to Florida, I realized how crappy the scene up in St. Louis really was. I just thought it was tough up there, I didn’t know it just flat-out sucked. The scene down here in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area is so supportive of their bands. And the support works both ways. The bands love to help out those who are will to help them out as well. There are organizations down here to help out the bands with shows and tours. I just wish there was someone, with enough heart, back in St. Louis to help them with that. They don’t know what their missing.

8.0 – Is there such a thing as ‘Midwesticana’?

I know that Uncle Tupelo kind of started the whole Alt. Country music scene back int the 90’s. And there have been a few bands to spawn from that, like The Bottle Rockets, Son Volt, etc. But if there is such a thing as “Midwesticana” then it starts and stops there with those bands.

9.0 – Any independent 2011 releases that you feel should be ‘must listens’ for major labels?

I don’t think that the major label is the way to go anymore. There are a few artists that have released some amazing records this year. And I wish them huge success, but I don’t know if I wish the for them to get affiliated with a major label. The major labels aren’t making the money anymore. It’s the DIY artists/bands. The ones that are really trying to get out there to get noticed and doing their own merchandizing are the ones who are going to be more successful, and won’t be trapped by the contracts of limitations of major labels. It used to be that the people within the major label organizations had the connections to people with more connections. But in the age of the internet, everyone knows everyone. The major label is an overrated middle man now.

10.0 – Are you at all surprised by the extent to which Americana music/artists are are featured in advertising today as a sort of ‘seal of brand sincerity’ and yet remains ignored by mainstream radio?

Yeah, I am surprised. And it makes me happy. It just shows that some advertisers out there have their finger on the pulse of what is good in music nowadays. Hopefully it’s not just some trend that will fade. We’ll just have to wait and see…