RICH KLEVGARD w/ THESE PEACHES

What are you working on and why are you excited about it?   I went in the studio with the point of releasing an EP. Kind of a bridge to carry over from the debut album, Almost Heard the Ocean to my second album. I was in the studio last week and tracked a brand new song. Then it seemed like maybe this should be its own album. So now, that is what I am pretty much working on. The band is on hiatus for the time being. We lost a few members to distraction and lack of focus.

Did you grow up with music in your family?  My parents were classical music people. So a lot of concerts that they attended, I did too. It was always on in the house. In my room there was a lot of Kiss, The Beatles, Boston, pretty much ‘70’s rock. When I went off to boarding school my range of music appreciation began to grow Dylan, Stones, Neil Young, Grateful Dead, and after heading to college I became exposed to the blues- Muddy, John Lee Hooker, Son Seals, Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Elizabeth Cotton, and also into jazz music as well — Art Blakey, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Willem Breuker Collektif. Classical performances were at the beginning but not without ironically Hank Williams, “Your Cheating Heart” around the time I was 3 or 4 years olds.

Was there a live concert experience that impacted you early on?  I think seeing a Bob Dylan show seemed to really show how tight a band can be but at the same time so very loose, authentic and unscripted as well. Giving the sense of spontaneity always impressed me, that and the connection of the artist to the audience.

What was your first public performance?  A group of friends playing together on and off as Surf Jazz Kill and The Uninvited Guests showed up at a party and using the house bands instruments tore it up. Talk about loose, unscripted and spontaneous!

How do songs come about for you?  Certain cadences of words arrive. Sometimes with a melody, sometimes not. I write everyday but don’t always play guitar everyday. Basic song structure comes through exploration and discovery-one my talent on guitar isn’t that great, but I have taught myself to create moments where the melody embraces the lyrical direction pretty easily.

You’ve been around the Chicago music scene for nearly 30 years now, in different roles, what’s the (your) state of the union?  This is an extremely difficult business. That in of itself is an incredible detractor from the act of making music. The task of making yourself the center of attention is a guilty pleasure it seems. I don’t like being in the spotlight, but once I am there it feels unreal. I’m lucky to have my own songs to play and to not be spending time and energy covering everyone else’s stuff. In Chicago there is an incredible community of caring and generous artists without a doubt. In the land of performance there is a whole lot of hurt going on. It’s where most bands usually seem to fall apart trying to get from one gig to the next. The recording process is time-consuming and expensive. Manufacturing even with the return of vinyl is on the way out. Digital streaming and social media savvy is where it seems to be. Performing is the only way to make money but it is also an extremely arduous path to navigate. People like to hear bands and unless you are established with a fan base over 1000 people locally, you are not going to be actively sought after to headline someone’s club.

Who are your favorite 3 artists of all-time?

Miles Davis- spirit, creative genius, longevity

Bob Dylan- words, music, reinvention

Vivaldi- summer, fall, winter, spring

What advice would you give to a young musician seeking a path?   Play anywhere and everywhere you can, surround yourself with people who are kind, generous and honest.

Are you jazzed about any new artists or releases we should know about?  In Chicago, The Flat Five, Cardinal Harbor is cool, Big Sadie is as solid as they come!

You are to put something personal in a time capsule headed for the outer reaches of space — what is your offering for mankind?  I always thought it might be some sort of graphic design tome of visual delight that would be remarked on and celebrated for all time. Now, maybe one or two songs and a story about how we aren’t who we think we are — maybe something much more…

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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”.

MATT SPIEGEL w/ TRIBUTOSAURUS

1.0 – Was there a specific band or artist that got you hooked on rock & roll as a kid? 

Well, my sister left some vinyl around when she went to college. Abbey Road, The Kinks’ live album, Billy Joel’s debut, and Springsteen’s The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle. So it starts in that pile, and probably with “She Came in Through The Bathroom Window” specifically. That vocal made the hairs stick up on my neck…after hearing lots and lots of classical music from mom and dad. The classical had an impact too.

2.0 – What was the first album you ever purchased?

REO Speedwagon’s High Infidelity. There’s no lying when answering this question, no matter the quality of the album in question. “Keep On Lovin’ You” had owned me on the radio, enough to make me ride my bike to the mall.

3.0 – What music is in your car right now? 

It’s whatever’s on my phone, or maybe an Android tablet I use too. I don’t keep a ton on either of them. Whatever Tributosaurus is working on (Pink Floyd, Tom Petty) , plus: Funkadelic (America Eats It’s Young), Fleet Foxes, Wilco (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Engineer Demos), Spoon (Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga), Grant Green (Sunday Morning). There’s a little more…I swap it out often. Also, Sound Opinions podcasts rotate.

3.0 – How did the Tributosaurus concept come about? 

My brother Jon throws a big birthday party concert every year, and one year (when he was in the pit band for Blue Man Group), some NYC Blue Man extended family was there. They told me about something in New York called Loser’s Lounge. Every few months they got a wide array of NYC musicians together to do the music of, say, Burt Bacharach, and they’d all cover a tune or two doing their own spin. Brilliant. So I thought of doing that in Chicago, but clarifying it to be iconic rock and roll artists, and to do it as close to note for note as possible. The idea was to treat the rock canon with the same reverence and respect with which orchestras treat Brahms or Shostakovich.

4.0 – It must be fun to argue about which tunes to do by a given artists, is there a formula for Tributosaurus set lists?

Yes..there are five core members, and we each get 3 or 4 picks, depending on the set length we’re going for. Every once in a while we might say “well, this and that HAS to be in,” but for the most part the list ends up being a product of our individual tastes coming together. No veto is allowed either, so if I, or anyone, picks an absolute dog, you suffer through it. Of course, tunes you thought you hated always end up being appreciated. That’s one of the real joys of the thing.

5.0 – What five homage’s are you most proud of?

The first time we did Steely Dan, we surprised even ourselves. It kind of made us realize that absolutely anything was suddenly possible. Marvin Gaye gave me the best appreciation for the deconstruction/reconstruction nature of the project, because it took 15 or 16 people to re-create the deceptively simple Motown sound. Stevie Wonder with a huge band was a joy and an absolute party. The Replacements holds a place in my heart, because we were properly gritty, sloppy, and a little drunk, but nailed the stuff we had to nail in that great music. Queen last month at The Vic, with 1100 people singing along to “Bohemian Rhapsody”, is a beautiful memory right now. Those are the first 5 that popped into my head…there are many others.

6.0 – Did your confidence in your voice as a singer lead to your career in radio in any way? 

Interesting. No..they’ve always been concurrent careers, one sometimes jumping ahead of the other. My dad was a sports guy, mom a music teacher and opera singer. My brother 10 years older is a musician; my brother 9 years older was a baseball player and sports fan. I’ve always been consumed by both, and done both. College was full of both. They inform each other far more than you might expect. Team and locker room concepts inform band situations. Musical narrative/lyrical concepts show up in game theories and radio production. There’s probably a book in there.

7.0 – As the resident rocker at The Score you have contributed many musical spoofs & bits, any personal favorites?

‘The 12 days of Bearsmas’ was a lucky and fun concept. We tried it last year too, and may this year, but it’s better when the Bears are terrible. 7 false starts, 6 prime time losses, 5 Cutler picks, etc. ‘The Hossa’ song to the Kink’s “Lola” became a Blackhawks favorite, sometimes played on the ice for their afternoon skate, and put on jukeboxes at sports bars in town. That’s pretty cool. Truly, I’m proud of the music you hear on our show in production, and as bumpers coming out of opens and back from commercials. The producers have good, varied tastes, in addition to stuff that Mac and I like. I have no doubt that you hear the most interesting, eclectic mix of music on our show that big city talk radio has ever seen.

8.0 – Musically speaking, where does the road part for you and Danny Mac?

Um, in about 1986 I think. The man loves his 70’s, and a touch of his skinny tie 80’s period. So I kind of have anything after that covered. In the vintages we do share, I go into soul and funk more than him. I like punk and new wave more than him. But I dig much of his taste, even if it’s a bit narrow. He loves the Stones, ACDC, Zeppelin, Alice Cooper. And he seriously LOVES it. You have to respect when someone is as passionate about it as he is. Plus, like so much with him, he’ll surprise you when you least expect it, and quote a lyric from Pete Townsend’s Empty Glass or XTC’s Black Sea. He turned me on to Todd Rundgren. As long as he doesn’t veer into UFO and Nazareth too much, we’re cool.

10.0 – What’s the best concert you’ve ever seen?

Wow. Peter Gabriel’s “Up” tour at the United Center, in the round was pretty great. Saw the So tour in 1986 I think as well…he’s wonderful live. The Pavement reunion last summer at Pitchfork was a wonderful night personally, with my buddy who shared the history with me, and my wife to be who was discovering them. But I’ll cheat and say Lollapalooza 1994. I had the full combo platter: moshing for the Beastie Boys on the lawn, up front dancing for George Clinton & the P-Funk All Stars, I sat completely in love with Kim Deal & The Breeders. Even though I left during the unnecessarily loud Smashing Pumpkins, that day ruled. I heard enough from “Siamese Dream” to cap the show perfectly.

DAVE GODDESS

1.0  As an artist, what’s important to you?  Love, truth, soul.

2.0  Tell us about recording your new CD, “Something New.” I worked on it for a couple of years. Most of the time was spent thinking about it rather than doing it. In that time, I spent maybe 40 days in the studio. I wouldn’t change a thing about the CD, and I’ve never been able to say that about any of my previous recordings. This may have a lot to do with taking that time to sit with the tracks and play with them until I was satisfied. I worked through lots of material before settling on the twelve songs on “Something New.” Also, I have a great band, and I played with some really talented guest musicians. That helped a lot.

3.0  What is the title song about? Boredom, stagnation, lack of motivation. The demand for overstimulation. The need to be entertained. The feeling of being left out. My distain for pop culture. Also one of my common themes—the search for something more. I wanted it to be like “Satisfaction” for the 21st century.

4.0  What is your favorite track on the cd? My wife kept asking me to write a song about her. I avoided it for a long time because, in past relationships, this hasn’t worked out so well for me. I try for brutal honesty in my lyrics, and that can create problems. And of course, you’re measured against “Layla” or “Alison,” or “Maybe I’m Amazed.” Anyway, I gave it a shot. The result is “Lucky Guy.” I tried to explore the light and dark sides of our (or perhaps any) relationship, and I felt like lyrically, I really got to the heart of it. I think it’s a fun, but also soulful song. I love the chunky rhythm section. I love the horn section. And my wife likes it, so I am a lucky guy.

5.0  What comes first for you when writing, a lyric, a melody, a riff? Since lyrics are important to me, the first thing I get is a concept or phrase, most likely the song title or the words to the chorus. Then I build a set of changes for choruses and verses. Next I flesh out the lyrics and maybe write a bridge. I’m slow and methodical, and I might revisit the lyrics many times. I love having written a song, but I hate actually doing it. It’s painful for me and requires huge amounts of concentration and introspection. Some guys write a song in an hour. That will never happen to me. For me, it’s a grind.

6.0  How did Ed Stasium’s involvement with the project come about? Ed had worked on a project for a friend of mine and he introduced us. Ed was obviously a big time engineer/producer in the eighties and nineties, and he sort of dropped out of the New York scene, moving to Colorado and setting up a studio out there. I sent him a few songs and he liked them, so he accepted the project. Ed brought a lot to my record, and it was a privilege to work with him. I had been very close with the songs, and it was really great to let someone with objectivity (and talent) step in at that point.

7.0  Do you have a philosophy when it comes to entering the studio? Just to make sure everyone is working towards realizing the song as opposed to making a personal statement. It’s common to work with players who view verses and choruses as things to tolerate or riff through on the way to a solo. It takes maturity to look at the bigger picture, play in the spaces, and choose just the right parts to make the song work. After that, I just go for a rhythm track that’s right in the pocket. It doesn’t make much sense to build on a foundation that’s not solid.

8.0  Any secrets to nailing good lead vocal tracks for you? Whiskey. And when I record a vocal, I think of it as a journey with no road map and no set destination. I don’t think too much, I just try to dig as deep as possible, looking for raw emotion. It’s hard to describe, but I’m sort of in a low-level trance. This can be a hit or miss process. It helps to have a good engineer or producer to guide you through it, because loss of perspective is part of the trip. That may also have something to do with the whiskey.

9.0  Growing up, what artists were your biggest influences? Can you still hear them today on “Something New?”I always liked the soul singers—Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Van Morrison and I tried to channel them even though I’m not in their league as a vocalist. I love 60’s music for its freedom and creativity. Love the Stones. Love Punk. I’d imagine you can hear those influences, but I could’nt tell you where. When I’m writing or recording, I don’t listen to other people’s music because it confuses me. And I’m confused enough already.

10.0  How do you react to criticism of your music? I’m sure what I’m doing isn’t for everyone, and I don’t care. It’s obvious that these days successful pop music is generally disposable, catchy shit. I try to be more than that, possibly to my own detriment. Baring your soul takes balls, and you can’t be afraid to look like a fool. I like what I’ve done. If you like it, great. If you don’t, I can live with that.