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.

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NATHAN BIGGS

bassist of THE PEAR TRAPS

1.0 – How did the band come together? 

Bryant had written a number of songs before moving to Chicago and went to craigslist to find some bandmates. Within two months we were regularly playing in Billy’s basement, drinking, booking shows and recording.

2.0 – Did you expect your the Pear Traps EP to turn out how it did or did it take on a life of it’s own?

Bryant continually writes and we are always adding new songs to our live sets, so we had been playing out for over half a year with most of the tracks from the EP and had a good idea as to how we wanted them to sound. This makes our overall sound really based around Bryant’s guitar work and the next type of song we want to add to our live set.

3.0 – Can you talk about the cabin you recorded it; how did you track it?

We all took off on a cold Thursday, two vehicles full of equipment and went to Nashville, Indiana. The cabin was a small two story with a huge fireplace that we ran mics around to do all of our tracking as a live band. Bryant (guitar) set up in the main hallway, Billy’s drums in the large bedroom, Josh (guitar) in a small bed room, Stephen (keys) and Nathan (bass) in another room off the hallway. We spent Thursday night and Friday morning testing different mic and amp positions, hanging mics over the drums and eventually tucking Josh’s guitar amp in a closet. Then we spent all of Friday and Saturday playing, grilling, listening and drinking.

4.0 – Do you have a favorite song on the disc?

(Free Download)“Come Home” is probably our favorite song. It has sort of set the tone for how we come up with songs now- in that Bryant comes to the band with an idea and chord structure that we all turn into a song. Between Josh’s guitar licks, the warm, overdriven tone from Stephen’s keys, and some crackle from the fireplacebleeding through in the background, it was the easiest choice for the first track.

5.0 – Is the ‘EP’ the band’s preferred mode of communication?

As of right now yes, but we are always talking about taking the time to put together a full album.

6.0 – What do you guys sing about?

Bryant’s final lyrics to a new song typically follow the completion of a songs structure and the melody he wants to sing too. I think in general just something that’s happened or happening or a vague idea he’s been thinking about.

7.0 – Is it difficult to duplicate your sound live?

Not really, as we just typically ask for more reverb on the vocals and, guitar wise, Bryant actually built the heads that both he and Josh play through to get the sound we want. I think people are actually surprised when they first hear us because we’re a bit louder/more energetic live than our recordings tend to seem.

8.0 – How do you know when a tune is ready for prime time?

When we’re excited to play it and reasonably confident we won’t fuck it up.

9.0 – What bands were you listening to in high school and do they still influence you?

This runs all over the place for us. We were all pretty into 80s alternative (Replacements, Joy Division, The Cure), but mix in a need for some Kinks, Guided By Voices, and Roy Orbison and you start getting warmer.

10.0 – If you could jump on a tour next week with anyone, who would it be with?

Deerhunter would be awesome. Or maybe Atlas Sound. Or French Kicks. Or J Mascis. Too many.