CAM MAMMINA w/ SLIM GYPSY BAGGAGE

img_2079

What got you hooked on rock & roll?  I would have to say my dad and mom were really influential on me musically starting from a really young age. My parents had an awesome record collection and there was always music in the house. Besides the stand-bys of  Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, The Eagles, Jimi Hendrix, etc. I really loved listening to The Stray Cats. Brian Setzer is definitely one of the reasons I was drawn to play guitar (even though I play nothing like him!) At a young age, my parents would also take me to see shows. My dad took me to New Orleans Jazz Fest when I was 10 and I got to see Counting Crows who were one of my favorite bands at the time. My aunt Jenna (Mammina) also was hugely influential. She’s a very accomplished jazz singer and always was playing with great guitarists beyond the music my parents were listening to and the shows we went to, my dad also played guitar and got me started with that from a young age, I think he got me my first guitar when I was 7 or 8. From there, I was exposed to a lot of different styles of music and bands by my guitar teacher who I started taking lessons from around age 10.

Do you recall what bands you were you listening to at 16 when you first got your driver’s license?   My favorite band at 16 was definitely Brand New and they’re still my favorite band to this day. About that time was when my favorite album of theirs came out and I literally listened to it non-stop. It was on when I was driving, sleeping, eating, doing homework… I also listened to a ton of Modest Mouse, Manchester Orchestra, and Minus the Bear which I still listen to often. At that age I was going to a bunch of metal shows and listened to quite a bit of that; my favorite metal bands at the time were probably Mastodon and Between The Buried And Me, they still get a bit of rotation too.

How did Slim Gypsy Baggage come together?  I first met Morgan (our singer) when I was around 16. Her Fiancé (now husband) Dirk and I became really close friends and hung out all the time at his tattoo shop so I met her through him. She was playing out a bit at that point and sometimes would play with our bass player Matt. I ended up meeting Matt when I was 18. Dirk was officiating his wedding and Morgan was one of his wife’s bridesmaids. They wanted someone to play some light music before the wedding and Dirk and Morgan recommended me to them. After the reception the three of us (Matt, Morgan, and myself) sat around and played Grateful Dead tunes. A couple of years later I saw Morgan and Matt playing at a bar in town and we started playing together shortly after that.  After going through a couple of drummers, I met Scott (our drummer) through surfing on Lake Michigan. He quickly became one of our best friends and started playing with us.

How do you guys approach songwriting?   We take a pretty collaborative approach to writing. Normally it starts with a riff or chord progression I’m messing around with and then between Scott, Matt and I we flesh out an entire song. Then Morgan normally starts working on a vocal melody. Sometimes Morgan will come to us with a skeleton of a song with all the lyrics done and we’ll work out the music from there. Recently, we’ve been writing out all the vocal parts together as well as the music with some great results. We’ve been really excited about the songs we’ve been coming out with.

What is your go-to onstage guitar and what amps are you playing live?  My primary stage guitars are a Collings 360 LT-M, a 1961 Fender Jazzmaster that’s been re-finished in a kind of ugly Daphne Blue, and a National Resolectric. The Jazzmaster was my main guitar for the last few years and then I played the Collings and had to buy it. Recently, the Jazzmaster has taken a bit of a back seat to the Collings but it still gets taken out from time to time. The Resonator is used on a handful of songs, normally the ones with a bit more of a country or deep bluesy vibe. For a couple of years it was the only guitar I’d play live but the lack of a tremolo makes it a bit less appealing.  I’m pretty effect-driven in some of the songs we play and I love playing with pedals (possibly more than playing guitar). My pedal set-up has been:

Guitar > ABC Switcher (for ease of changing guitars)>Moog Ring Modulator>Matchless Hot box Preamp/Vibrato> Clean boost> Overdrive> a tube overdrive that my friend made>Wah>Fuzz> Stereo harmonizer> Stereo Delay> another Stereo Delay> reverb> amps. My amps have changed around a bit for the last few years but I pretty much always have an Orange Rockerverb 50 on one side with a rotating cast of amps on the other. Recently, it’s been either a Matchless DC30 or a Vox AC15 HW but I’ve used a couple different Fenders there as well. As long as my amp has two channels and preferably a reverb, I’m pretty happy.

slimgypsy

Does SGB spend any time crafting a live show as such or do you guys prefer to change it up night to night?   We try to pick our sets based on the type of crowd we’re going to play for as well as the length of our show. We play a wide range of venues and try to stay busy playing as much as possible so sometimes we’re not going to play for crowds that know our music well. In those instances, we try to do a slightly mellower set and maybe throw in some covers to keep everyone happy and interested. In a perfect world, we’d be playing for hundreds of screaming fans every night and be able to play whatever but we try to be conscientious of who’s in our crowd and make sure they’re having a good time and liking what they’re hearing. We’ve been known to do totally stripped down acoustic shows to fit the venue or be super loud and raw… Just whatever makes sense that day.

Do you, or the band, have a routine pre-show to help get in the right head space for the gig?  I can’t say we have any specific pre-show ritual but we normally all get a drink and walk through the crowd if we’re not playing first. It’s cool to see how an audience is at a show and you never know who you’ll meet or run in to.

What was it like to jam on stage with blues legend Buddy Guy?  Playing with Buddy was a crazy experience. We had Just played the BBQ, Blues, And Bluegrass festival in our hometown and Buddy Guy was set to headline the event. After we got done playing, we were all hanging out backstage having a couple drinks and watching the band that was after us. I ended up getting invited in to Buddy’s trailer and met him and then he offered me to possibly play. I kind of freaked out at that point. It’s not something I had really ever thought of to do and I was really intimidated by the whole thing but I was down to do it. So I watch him play for an hour or so and he calls me up and I am literally shaking. There’s about 10,000 people in the crowd with another 10-15,000 sitting on top of the bluff in St. Joseph, MI watching. I just kind of zoned out the whole time and tried to not mess up. Afterwards, I listened to a recording of it and I played pretty well through the whole thing although I don’t really remember it, it was just that huge of an adrenalin rush. It’s a pretty cool experience and the fact that I got to have that happen in front of my friends, family, and band was so amazing.

slimgyps2

If you we’re to do a 5-song-EP that was in essence a ‘best of’ of your first two discs, DiveBomb and UnderCurrents, what cuts would be on it and what’s the track order?  Interestingly enough, we actually have two more discs we recorded during each of those sessions that we haven’t released; there’s a bunch of songs on those that I really like. Also, we haven’t gotten into the studio this year so there’s quite a couple new songs that I would put in our “best of” over some of these. but If I had to do it based on what we have out and as a concise 5 song that follows a certain feel, I think it would go: “Underwater”, “Wheels”, “Rewind”, “Break Through It” & “Witch Pill”

It’s crazy how much those songs have changed over time, a lot of the songs on both of those CD’s rarely get played live anymore and the ones that are have so many things changed. Hopefully we’ll be getting back in the studio soon to record some of our newer stuff and we’ll probably be releasing one of the other records that we’ve been holding back sometime soon.

What advice would you give to a kid just picking up the guitar?  Keep practicing and try not to get frustrated! It can be difficult at times starting out but just keep at it. Practice your scales religiously to get your dexterity up and try to get some basic understanding of music theory. It will definitely help you out in the long run and make you a better player. Most importantly though, have fun!    —- visit SlimGypsyBaggage.com

Advertisements

13 ANGELS

This time we forgo the 10 question interview in lieu of some post-show backstage hi-jinx with 13 ANGELS at Live Wire Lounge in Chicago. The lads share their inception story, drunk calls from Shannon, their favorite albums and plans for world domination one skate park at a time …long live rock.

 

 

 

SARAH FIMM

1.0 – What’s the best thing about BARN SESSIONS

Perhaps that it’s real, it’s live, and you can see a mouse suddenly appear behind John’s lovely head in the “Hiding”‘ video.  That’s just my personal opinion.

2.0 – Did you have a sound in mind when you starting recording it or did it evolve?

It was more of a feeling I wanted people to remember.  The entire landscape of music has gone through drastic changes.  I wanted to do a live experiment with talented people to see how the variables would change the result.  It evolved as things do, once my team of amazing artist friends helped it become what it is.  The sum of their talent and personality, combined with other elements, created the sound.

3.0 – Do you consider branding & image as part of the artistic process? 

When I found a wooden hard drive to go with the Barn Sessions package I was pretty pleased.  There is an overall aesthetic that is particular to each project.  I liked the wood because what people receive is the same material that shaped the acoustic environment where the music was created.   I am a creature who tries to be consistent.

4.0 – When did you start writing songs (originally) and what was your first?

This is a good question.  I would have to say if I really go back in time, I was writing in my head constantly, and piano melodies near my mother’s lap at 3 or 4 years old.  I remember listening to her voice when she would talk to people.  I remember thinking that her kindness created music in people.  I would play things that fit the scene of the room.  I would play to the moods of the people inhabiting the room.  I became aware of the power of simple observation, and began to understand how music was a doorway to change people’s emotional states.

5.0 – Do you have a philosophy when it comes to writing? 

Stop thinking so much. :)

6.0 – And what about the stage and playing live?

There’s nothing like it at its best and its worst.

7.0 – How did you catch the folk bug originally? 

I didn’t know I had it!  I came from rock. (Older brother-you know:)

8.0 – Did you have to work at it or does it come naturally, or both?

-I work all the time at all aspects of everything I do. My friends tell me I really need to get out quite often luckily.  Playing music, and trying to survive as a musician, are two different things.  They both take extraordinary amounts of discipline and work.

9.0 – What’s your favorite record of all-time? 

That’s the hardest question.  If I had to choose, Brian Eno and Harold Budd. It brings me to a state of absolute serenity.

10.0 – What was the first concert you attended and how did it impact your life? 

I think the first time I was truly impacted was either Tool, NIN, or Tori Amos.  It was all within the same week.  It really changed up the playing field.

BRYANT LEE

1.0 – What’s the best thing about your latest release, the new The Pear Traps EP, Elsewhere

It’s different than our previous EPs.  The first 2 were home recordings that we did by ourselves which is mainly why they took on the lo-fi sound.  Elsewhere is our first “studio” recording and although we kept it uncomplicated, it’s easy to hear the difference.

2.0 – Did you have a sound in mind when you starting recording it or did it evolve?

We completed the songs before actually recording them and knew how we wanted them to sound through our amps/drums/etc, but did not have any idea how it was going to turn out after recording.

we did the recording and mixing ourselves on the early recordings, so we had total control of the sound.  This time we had someone else (Jamie from Carterco here in Chicago) do the recording, mixing and mastering on legitimate equipment (as opposed to our karaoke microphones) and it was definitely a change.

We finished recording in 2 days and then Jamie spent another day or so mixing. During the mixing process Jamie was definitely leaning towards a cleaner, more professional sound and then when we heard the early mixes, we were always like “put more effects on that, make it more lo-fi!”  I think in the end it actually did evolve into a very happy medium and we could’nt be happier with Jamie’s help and input to give Elsewhere its full sound.

3.0 – Do you consider branding & image as part of the artistic process? 

In my opinion branding and image are part of the business process, not artistic.  If you know us or have seen us play a show it’s pretty easy to see that we put zero effort or thought into branding and/or image.  We are 5 friends playing music together because it’s fun and we like playing.  Not to try and make money or get big or anything like that.  Probably because we’re old enough to realize that we do this to have fun at practice every week and play out.  If we ever decided to start focusing on our image or try to be anything other than what we are, I think the enjoyment of us being in this band would go down dramatically.

4.0 – When did you start writing songs and what was your first?

I started writing about 3 or 4 years ago, right before we became a band.  I’ve always been a guitar player and never really thought about singing or writing songs – I actually prefer just hanging out and playing guitar in the background.  But over the years I’d come up with ideas for songs that I thought were OK, run them by the singer and nothing would ever come of them.  After not playing in a band for a little while and not finding anything that I was very interested in I started trying to complete ideas for songs by myself and eventually started singing.  I figured out how to program drums, record/mix audio, and just started messing around with songs in my apartment.  My first finished song was called “Ways to Doubt.”  It’s actually not that terrible and the thought of giving it a shot with The Pear Traps comes up every once in a while.

5.0 – Do you have a philosophy when it comes to writing? 

No, not really.  If I’m ever at home not doing anything I’m usually messing around on my guitar.  If something happens to sound all right I record it.  Or tell myself I’ll remember how it goes but then usually forget about it.  If I come across the recorded guitar parts again (sometimes days or weeks later after I’ve forgotten I recorded anything) and it sounds decent I’ll try to put lyrics to them.  Very little effort or thought goes into the lyrics.  To me vocals are primarily just another melodic part to the music.  Ideally the lyrics end up clever or interesting but as long as they don’t seem extremely contrived or cheesy I’m usually OK with what comes out.

6.0 – And what about the stage and playing live?

Stage presence is another thing we don’t really put too much effort into.  It’s kind of the same thing as image, if we ever had to try to act or be a certain way on stage that wasn’t natural to us, I don’t think we would want to play out.  We have fun playing shows together so I imagine that comes across to the audience, which is all I would really hope for.

7.0 – How did you catch the rock & roll bug originally? 

Possibly a little cliché but it was when I heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.  I think I was in 4th grade and had always really been into music but when I heard that guitar intro it just blew me away.  I think my actual logic was that if I learned how to play guitar I could learn those songs and then I could hear them whenever I wanted to instead of waiting for them to come on the radio.  My dad was very musical and supported my interest in learning an instrument but we didn’t have much money so he made a deal with me that for every chore I did I got a dollar saved towards my guitar and after 100 dollars were saved up he’d buy me one.  Couple months later I had myself a very cheap, used white electric guitar and I was ecstatic.

8.0 – Did you have to work at it or does it come naturally?

I was not natural at all, it took a lot of effort for me to be a passable guitar player.  I’m just very stubborn.

9.0 – What’s your favorite record of all-time? 

Possibly another cliché but I’ve honestly got to say The Beatles’ White Album.  It was kind of funny because when I was younger I literally went through my Beatles phase in chronological order.  At first I really liked the poppy mop top love songs even though it was completely dorky and my friends would give me shit for it.  Then heard Revolver and thought it was just amazing.  Then got my hands on an Abbey Road tape and would listen to it on repeat.  Then one year for Christmas my mom bought me the White Album.  I remember listening to it lying in bed and feeling disgusted at how perfect everything they did was- no matter what genre they played in.  I actually remember hearing Dear Prudence for the first time and wanting to quit guitar because I knew there was never any way I could play something that great.

10.0 – What was the first concert you attended and what do you remember most about it today

This one is not so cliché.  My dad liked country and about the time I was listening to Nevermind over and over he took me to a Randy Travis concert.  I actually had tears in my eyes because I hated it so much.

AARON LEE TASJAN

1.0 – Can you describe the Enemies debut EP in 10 words or less?

Drink bottle of cough syrup, light self on fire, relax.

2.0 – What’s your favorite track on it? 

“Summer Of Legs” because it makes me think of spiders which makes me think of gummy spiders which are SUPER fun to eat.

3.0 – The recordings include several members of the Madison Square Gardeners, is it a continuation of the band but with a new name? 

No. The MSGrs will play again at some point I’m sure.  I play with a lot of the same guys because I think they’re the best musicians out there.  That’s the way it was in the Gardeners for sure.  I was just inspired to do something else musically this time around, that’s all. The music is different…But I’m not really the type of guy who says, “oh I’m going to write this type of song or that type of song,” I just write whatever sound I’m hearing in my head at that moment. I like to play all kinds of different music.  To me, it’s my guitar playing and weird lyrics that tie it all together.

 4.0 – In this day of meta tags and keywords, how important are titles in helping to define a bands image and audience?

Probably somewhat important…I don’t know though…to me it always starts with the music, the music’s gotta be good and it needs to really grab someone’s attention.  I mean is someone ultimately going to become a fan of my music because I played with the Dolls or Pat Green covered one of my songs or BP Fallon and I opened for The Kills or had our song produced and played on by Jack White? I don’t think so.  Maybe somebody hears about you that way or something but it certainly doesn’t mean they’ll ultimately like your music.  People are going to like what they like and you have to make your music in the face of that.  It’s not a bad thing really.  Music is magic and you can’t explain it to someone…not even with a nifty meta tag or keyword.

5.0 – What led you to pick up the guitar originally?

My family moved to Southern California when I was kid and I wasn’t allowed to start school for a while…I’m not sure why, I just wasn’t. We were grocery shopping and I saw a sign in the next door music store window that said, “Guitar Lessons: First Lesson Free.” So that seemed like a pretty good idea.  I loved the guitar so much.  I’ve no idea why, I was just drawn to it.  I bought a guitar a couple weeks before my first lesson…I wrote a song on it that day, recorded it on a tape deck and sent it in the mail to a friend of mine.  I suppose more than anything else, I wanted to write songs…then I heard Buddy Guy from my Dad and thought, “I need to learn how this thing really works.”  I should note that I still have no idea, but luckily no one ever asks me. :)

6.0 – Do you care about amps?

Um sure. I mean, I like to play through one that sounds good.  I’m not a “gear head” or anything.  I like things to be simple…I like Marshalls, Vox’s and Fenders.  I think if you’re doing anything, you should give a fuck.  Not caring in order to appear cool is like making sure you remember to take your swimming trunks to Christmas dinner.

7.0 – What’s your worst stage nightmare?

I don’t really have one.  To me, getting to play my songs for people is a dream and it’s always a sweet one.

8.0 – What’s your favorite guitar solo of all time?

Well, there are a few…almost any solo Luther Perkins played certainly, George Harrison’s solos are always great…I think Gary Clark Jr is really a fantastic new guitarist whose going to go far.  If I’m going to say favorite of all time though, I’d have to go with J Mascis’s solo from “On The Way” off of Dinosaur Jr’s record Where You Been? I just love it so much. It’s very primal and it’s imperfections are enhancements.  Just simple, brilliant, blood and guts twangerama.  My favorite!

9.0 – How did you hook up with The New York Dolls? 

Years ago I was playing in a band that BP Fallon was managing…co-writing most of the material with the singer and playing lead guitar.  BP brought Steve Conte from the Dolls down to see us and Steve and I really hit it off personally.  Anyways, I’d left that band about a year and a half later and one day the phone rings and it’s Steve and he’s saying, “My wife and I are having our first child and I don’t want to miss it, would you fill in for me with The Dolls?”  It was pretty simple really but man did I feel lucky.  Here was this guy who could’ve called anyone he wanted in the whole world and they naturally would’ve jumped at the chance and he called me.  It was a pretty heavy gig for me at the time because I was only 23 or 24.  It was my first real gig and SO much fun.  David and Syl are just two of the very best guys out there and I was honored to work with them.

10.0 – If you could have a one word rock star nickname what would it be?

Kevn, spelled just like that. With no “i.” If you know, you know.

TIM SHEFFSTALL

1.0 – What was your favorite musical artist or band growing up and what was the first tune that really clicked with you as a kid?

The music that I started with my grandparents and parents – listening to their music on the radio – Elvis Presley, Bread, America, Jim Croce.

2.0 – When did you decide to make a real go of it as a musician and what was your initial game plan if any back then?

In the beginning, when I was 15 years old, I started playing the drums because my father was a professional drummer and I had every instrument in my house. I loved experimenting with all the different instruments. 27 years ago, I played in 2 really awesome cover bands – Hung Jury and The Crave. And I really mastered my craft by playing other people’s music and thought it was time for me to write my own music, where I could say what I wanted to say and be what I wanted to be. And I am so thankful for the free lessons.

3.0 – How many records have you put out as COLD STATIC  and how do you feel the band & music evolved?

3 studio CDs and 1 live CD as Cold Static. It evolved from me writing my own life story and saying anything I want to say. And being myself and choosing my life for free.

4.0 – If you had to describe the band as a combination of main influences, who would they be?

I have absolutely never been influenced by anybody but, ut, I can tell you right now, my favorite bands today are: Godsmack, Disturbed, Mudvayne, Slipknot, Stone Sour, and Hell Yeah. And you will see a taste of all of those bands on the next CD that I am working on right now.

5.0 – How is the new record coming along and what can you tell us about it?

As I answered the last question, it’s gonna be a taste of the bands that I love, with a super twist of Cold Static.

6.0 – Do you put more pressure on yourself as a songwriter today than you did starting out, or is it easier now?

I am absolutely my worst critic. And my best song is gonna be the next one I write.

7.0 – How have you maintained an edge living ‘out of the way’ as it were on remote Anna Maria Island in Florida?

Because Anna Maria Island is my home, where I can be me. And my friends love me, but I love my fans too.

8.0 – Of all the COLD STATIC tracks you have released, which one has garnered the most attention, was it the song you expected?

“Bin Laden, We Will Get You” definitely has a place in my heart. Because we are Americans, and if you support terrorism, we will find you and you will pay. I never expected that song to have so much impact.

9.0 – How important is who you tour with, which was your favorite experience so far?

I love every single band I have toured with. Hands down, if you are playing music, I will be there to listen. Oh my God, that is a really hard question…..but, if I have to answer that, I love my hometown band, Neurotica, with lead singer, Kelly Sheaffer.

10.0 – You noted recently that bands “have to have the full package or forget it”….any practical advice for young artists with early signs of promise?

Yes, I believe you must have that total package – musicianship, looks, theatrics and performance – which all make for a great show. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have a hot girl on your side.

tafka VINCE

1.0 – It strikes me that the title to your latest CD, “On Display”, kinda sums up your approach; in your face. Is that fair? 

That’s fair. When we play or people here the music I want it to be noticed. Love it or hate it, but not background noise you can ignore.

2.0 – One may hear more New York or Detroit than Chicago in your rock, who are your musical heroes? 

Good ear you have. Big influences, The New York Dolls, The Ramones (70’s NYC punk in general), Stooges, MC5, Bowie, T Rex and coming back home the earliest influence is still Cheap Trick. The city of Chicago is a big influence. I love my hometown, the city and it’s music and people keep inspiring me.

3.0 – What track on the new disc are folks reacting to most? Is it your favorite too? 

“Laser Beam Precision” gets people dancing, always a good sign. “O” is another one of my favorites; it’s all drama and suited for the stage (like me).

4.0 – How do you write? does it start with a riff most often?

That varies. Sometimes I strum some chords or play a riff and build from there. Other times I have a phrase that is a great opening line or chorus hook and figure out how to build on that and add the music

5.0 – Who is playing and singing on the disc and what are your guys plans as a band?

On the record, Me-vocals & guitar, Lauren Kurtz-vocals, Brian Chinino-drums, Chris Geisler-bass with guests Ed Anderson(Backyard Tire Fire)-guitar, Aaron Lee Tasjan(Madison Square Gardeners)-guitar, Vee Sonnets(The Sonnets)-keys & guitar. Produced By Tony SanFilippo. Live we have Christopher Elam on lead guitar.

The record recently came out online and we should be receiving the LP’s soon, so we plan on playing as much as we can, wherever we can. Hoping to hit NYC again before the end of the year and possibly down to SXSW in the spring. Also trying to figure out how to get someone to pay for to go play in Europe.

6.0 – When did you settle on the moniker “The Artist Formally Known As Vince”? Do you feel it affords you more freedom to not be ‘Vince’?

I’ve had the name since the mid 90’s. I needed a name to put on a flyer for a solo show around the same time the other guy, whose name rhymes with mine, was using formerly and a symbol. Thought it would be funny yet a homage to one of my favorite musicians. I quickly made the adjustment to “Formally”, I liked the play on words, and it stuck. So I have actually stayed Vince all these years!

7.0 – What is the best guitar ever made for rock & roll and what is your favorite stage guitar?

I am partial to Les Paul’s especially Junior’s.

On stage I tend to play a Gibson Flying V that I had customized with a single vintage P-90 so it sounds like my Junior.

8.0 – Do you still believe in radio?

I do. I still listen to it in the van. I think you can still find new music on radio but you need to go to the college and community stations or listen to specialty shows on commercial radio to hear the interesting new music.

9.0 – Any new Chicago clubs or bars area rockers should check out?

LiveWire, is a cool new small rock club. It’s in my neighborhood, Avondale. A couple musician friends of mine run it. They like the Rock N Roll music. I love playing there. Late Bar is great for late night drinks. If out on a Tuesday night stop by Lucky Number, I sling the drinks and pick the tunes.

10.0 – It’s your ‘Dream Gig’…… who are you opening for? when? where and why? 

If I dream it would be going back in time to downtown NYC to open for The New York Dolls at Max’s Kansas City or The Ramones at CBGB’s, I think we would fit in the glam and early punk days, or close to home and open for Cheap Trick at The Brat Stop. Even these day I dream of opening for Cheap Trick or The Dolls anywhere anytime.