Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - My Oh My
Though the footage here pains me as a Yankee fan, this is too beautiful not to share. A tribute to late Mariners announcer Dave Niehaus that encapsulates everything I love about our greatest game.
Pitchers and catchers report today. Spring is here, and hope springs eternal. Play ball!
Bringing back this two-and-a-half year old post, because props to Mac and more innocent days.
Listen to the critics, fuck the haters, and know the difference between the two (because a lot of them seem to hop back and forth across that line willy-nilly without even realizing it).
In what proved to be the most hilariously bizarre interview I’ve ever conducted, I chatted with zany post-hardcore mashers The Venetia Fair in between showcases at this year’s SXSW. Within, the band discusses how Macklemore stole their song, declare all-out war on Twenty One Pilots, and throw around just about every slang term for “semen” you’ve ever heard (and a few you haven’t). Some things are better heard than read, so rather than transcribe this one, here’s the original interview audio.
SXSW Lost Interview III - Life After Liftoff
Another interview from this year’s SXSW that never made it into print, this one with Ohio-based “alien pop-punk” outfit Life After Liftoff. Apologies to the band for the names I have most certainly gotten wrong — one of the downsides of chatting with a full band is that it’s often really tough to tell who’s talking on the recording afterwards. Lee’s is the only voice I’m entirely certain about here; I did my best with the remainder. C’est la vie!
Adam: We’re really bad at this.
That’s all right! Honestly, I was not prepared for this one at all.
Group:Yay! Oh good! Perfect!
Your publicist didn’t tell me I was talking to you until like five minutes ago, so I have no questions prepped or anything. But it’s alright!
So to start out, let me just get all your names.
Lee: My name’s Lee Weiss, I sing and play guitar in Life After Liftoff.
Ryan: My name’s Ryan Chatterton, I play guitar, keyboard, and sing. Yeah.
Adam: My name’s Adam [Bostick], I play drums.
Jason: Jason [Sigritz], I play bass and sing and stuff.
So how’s SXSW going for you guys so far?
Ryan: It’s like a big, crazy circus of fun.
Lee: It’s rad!
Have you played your first showcase yet?
Lee: No! Ten o’clock tonight!
How many shows are you doing while you’re here?
Lee: Just this one.
Just the one? Really?
Lee: Yeah, this is a limited engagement man! We were actually on tour all of February, and we hit Austin two or three weeks ago, so to be back and be playing SXSW, it’s a blessing.
Adam: We’re happy to be back.
Was it on your way to anywhere?
Lee: No! We had gone back to Ohio, and then as soon as we got back we got the call, “hey you guys are playing our showcase.”
Adam: We found out last Thursday that we were playing. He [Lee] was coming anyway, so we just went ahead.
So are you going to hang out and catch some bands while you’re down here?
Lee: I was already planning on being down here, so I was here Monday. The guys came in last night. The band is going to be here roughly 48 hours total, and I’ll be here through the rest of the week.
Ryan: We were watching bands all day today, and I’m sure after tonight we’ll catch one or two more.
Who did you see that was good?
Ryan: We just saw The Dangerous Summer.
Lee: I was at MC Lars last night, he ruled.
Oh you were over there? I was over there too.
Lee: Nice man! He was really good.
He was doing that, all-different-backing-tracks stuff.
Lee: Exactly. Caught the Venetia Fair last night, they rule…
I was over there too! I feel like I should recognize you now!
Lee: Stoked to see Butch Walker. Fall Out Boy is doing a show. Green Day…
Is that confirmed, Fall Out Boy?
Lee: Yeah, they’re doing two showcases, one for Perez Hilton and one for Crush Management.
Ah, I had heard rumors about the Crush one. Didn’t know they were doing Perez’s.
Lee: I’m stoked to see them, for sure.
So tell me about your band.
Lee: I call it “alien pop-punk.” It’s a very harmonious mixture of early 2000’s pop-punk and punk rock music with a modern twist. And we’re a very positive band, we try to… while all the bands right now are kind of heavy and going in that direction, we’re staying pretty true to what we do, and we’re happy with it. We’re fun. You can dance to us. Or get naked. Whatever.
Ryan: That escalated quickly.
Lee: It did!
Alright. I don’t even know what your album situation is right now… This is the worst interview ever!
Ryan: No no, it’s cool. I can just tell you all… no I’m just kidding.
Lee: PropertyOfZack actually streamed our second single from our first EP that we released about two years ago, called “The Promise”. We released an EP back in 2011 called Memory Of You. We did a follow-up EP in 2012 called Brand New Life. We just finished our first US tour for Brand New Life, and we’re getting ready to release our first full-length album called Everything Is You with Tyler Smith of dangerkids. And we’re already starting to work on the second record at this point.
Oh wow. Are you chronic writers?
Ryan: We’re go-getters!
Lee: We just like to be busy. We really don’t like to sit around too much.
So when does the album come out?
Lee: Sometime in 2013.
You don’t have a date yet.
Lee: No date yet. We’re actually working around Tyler’s schedule because he just left for their first tour with Conditions and Sleeping With Sirens. So we’ve actually been working on the album with him for the last year and four months, five months, and we’re one song away from completion. So, 2013.
Do you know where it’s going to be coming out?
Lee: We are actually looking for a home right now, no idea yet.
Is that part of why you’re down here?
Ryan: A little bit.
Lee: A little bit. You know, just getting the word out. We’ve self-released the last two releases. We’re hoping someone will see what we’re all about.
What about upcoming tour plans? I know you said you just finished a big tour.
Lee: We’ll be out in May for about a week or two doing a south and east coast run. Hitting the midwest again probably.
Who’s that with?
Lee: Actually, the tour we just did is called High School Nation. We played to about 1,000-5,000 kids a day in high schools. We would do like four shows a day, and then we would do shows at night. So we’ll probably do another run like that, and then this summer we’re looking to actually hop on a normal tour with other bands. After a while, being in a van with the four of us, it’s like…come on.
Adam: We need other friends.
Ryan: We kind of just signed with some new management stuff, so things are kind of up in the air.
Ryan: We didn’t want to start doing things and then get new plans, so we’re kind of holding off.
Getting all of your ducks in a row?
Lee: And also finishing recording. That’s gonna be the primary.
Adam: That’s the primary thing. And getting ready to tour that.
So what’s the goal for the rest of 2013? Get the album out and get on the road?
Adam: Make money, play arenas [Laughs].
Ryan: Buy a yacht. I wanna buy a yacht.
Lee: Finish our current record, get that out. Write and record the second follow-up record, have that ready to go. And then definitely hit the road as hard as we can. That’s our goal.
And if kids want to find out more about you, what should they check out?
Ryan: The Internet. [Laugh]
Adam: We’re everywhere. We’re all over it.
Lee: Google “Life After Liftoff”. We’re on facebook.com/lifeafterliftoff, YouTube, Twitter, everywhere. We’re all over the place. Instagram. MySpace. I think we still have one. We do! We’re on the new MySpace!
Adam: If Google Plus still existed, we have that too.
Ryan: We do! It’s small as hell, but it still exists.
Jason: We were the first band on there, I swear. I had a really, really early pass to Google Plus and I put us on there. And there’s no other bands.
That really worked out!
Jason: It did, that’s why we’re here! [Laughs] “We saw your Google Plus profile, and we thought we’d put you on SXSW.”
Google Plus, it’s where all the kids are now.
Adam: [Laughs] It is, don’t be fooled. My dog’s on there.
Lee: That’s where all the geriatrics are. That’s where everyone in, like, a nursing home or assisted living is just sitting around, like “I wonder what’s going on?”
Adam: Dude, they’re on Adult FriendFinder.
Jason: Now we’re talking about what I want to talk about!
Any parting words?
Lee: Thank you to Red Gorilla for having us down to SouthBy, we are blessed to be here and stoked to be back in Austin, and thanks to PropertyOfZack for featuring us!
SXSW Lost Interview II - Valaska
While waiting on another interview at this year’s SXSW, I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes chatting with independent Chicago-based singer-songwriter Dave Valdez, who records and performs under the name Valaska.
Can I get your name and what you do in the band?
My name’s Dave Valdez. Singer, songwriter, kind of everything.
Tell me a little bit about Valaska.
I started Valaska maybe four years ago. I did a [self-titled] EP with Aaron Marsh [formerly of Copeland] then, just like five songs, and then toured for a little bit. And then I started a full length album. We just finished it last year, and it’s coming out March 26th. We did half of it at Aaron’s studio in Lakeland, FL, at the Vanguard Room, and then we did the other half of the record, I did it back at home in Chicago on an old Tascam 4 Track recorder.
Going old school!
Yeah, I really like that kind of old school, analog tape saturation sound. And those are just real stripped-down songs, and we just kind of meshed the two together. And I just got back from tour. I was just out for the whole month of February.
Who were you on tour with? Just by yourself?
Just by myself. I’m kind of a road warrior.
So where is the album coming out?
It’ll be on iTunes…
I meant, are you doing it yourself, or do you have a label you’re working with?
Oh no, yeah it’s just DIY. Just myself for right now, and then maybe eventually hopefully…
And what’s the album title?
Why Natural Habitat?
I called it Natural Habitat because the whole record is kind of about being at home, in your normal surroundings. I wrote the whole record just kind of up in my room, the inside looking out, just kind of in my natural environment, my natural habitat.
Do you have plans for what you’re doing when it comes out? Are you hitting the road?
Yeah, I’ll be hitting the road probably late April, early May. I’m pretty much just trying to be touring the rest of the year.
On your own?
On my own. Later on, if I can find someone to tour with, other bands, other artists, that would be great. Because when I do tour, I have a live band that comes with me. A bass player and a drummer.
When you record, do you do all the parts yourself?
I had a drummer come down, and I did most of it myself, and then Aaron did the bass and a lot of accenting stuff. But mostly it was just me.
How did you end up connecting with Aaron?
Actually, through MySpace…
That was a thing once!
Yeah. I sent him this Hail Mary message, because I was a huge Copeland fan for such a long time, and I was like “I see that you do some producing, check out my song and see if you like it.” I wasn’t expecting him to even get back to me, but he was like “oh yeah, this is great!” And then he just decided…
It sounds like, from the timeframe, maybe you caught him just right as Copeland was winding down?
Absolutely. Right before the EP came out was when they were doing their farewell tour.
So he was looking to get busy with some other stuff anyway.
Yeah I guess you could say that. And then when the EP was out, when it finally was released, he was in Indonesia for the last leg of the tour. Which is funny, because when that record came out, he was sending out Twitter updates and whatnot about it, and I got a lot of fans from Indonesia, because he was there at the time and they were kind of fresh on the Copeland buzz.
Have any temptation to go play over there?
I would love to, but…
Once the right invite comes along?
Yeah. [Laughs] I don’t know how you get over there. It’s the whole money thing.
All I know is, we [PropertyOfZack] have…There’s a group of bands, that for some reason, you know, they’re mostly American pop-punk kinda “scene” bands, and there’s this group of American bands that have huge followings in Southeast Asia. We know because our site gets tons of hits from Indonesia and the Philippines whenever we post about them. I don’t know how that happens.
It’s bizarre. That and South America too.
Brazil, we get a lot.
Yeah, we get a lot of it.
[Dave’s Manager interjects]: Your first EP sold a good amount in England and Australia too.
Yeah, I would love to just leave the country and see what else…
So what are you doing down here at South By? Are you showcasing?
I’m actually not. We just got together with [our publicists] and they told us to just come down here, meet with them…
Introduce you to some folks.
So that’s why we’re here. It would be nice to [showcase]. I might play on the streetcorner or something.
Hey, I’ve seen people do it here and get hundreds of people standing around them.
Yeah, so I might try that tomorrow. And then hopefully, next year…
Are you seeing any bands down here?
Right before [our publicists] texted us to come over here, John McCauley of Deer Tick was just about to start, and I was so excited, and then she was like “hey come on over here”.
Is that the kind of thing you’re into?
Singer-songwriter types. I really am into Deer Tick and John McCauley. I really like old school, like John Prine and Townes Van Zandt, I love those guys.
There’s a Townes Van Zandt tribute show going on one night down here.
Yeah, a bunch of different artists playing a bunch of Townes’ songs. I don’t remember which night.
Oh wow. I’ll have to look into that. It would be great to see. And then, like, Bright Eyes. I love Conor Oberst.
I just saw Desaparecidos [Oberst’s punky side project] like two weeks ago. I’ve seen Bright Eyes a bunch of times but I’d never got to see him rock out like that. It was a fun change of pace.
That’s awesome. Yeah, I saw Bright Eyes in Nashville at the Ryman. I actually got to meet him. It’s like, what do you say to somebody who’s such an inspiration. It was great, I loved it.
So that’s really all I’ve got. Any parting words?
[Dave’s manager interjects again]: Talk about what your record sounds like, what it’s similar to, what you want people to get out of your record.
I mean, yeah, I guess. The biggest… I get that I sound like Ben Gibbard a lot. I get Ben Gibbard, and then Elliot Smith. Basically, the record is kind of, not to put it down, but it’s downer music.
Can I put the “emo” name on it? I know some people are allergic to it.
I mean, I don’t mind. It’s like acoustic emo. It is what it is. I just make music. And then, I dunno, I just want people to be able to relate to the record. Anyone who can find something in the record, find something in the music.
Along those lines, where can people find you?
It’ll definitely be on iTunes, you can find me on Facebook, we’re working on a website. Facebook.com/ValaskaMusic.
[Dave’s Manager interjects once more]: We have updates on our management website as well, Vintagebear.Net. And his website will be called ValaskaMusic.com.
SXSW 2013 Lost Interview I - Ed Tullett
Singer-songwriter Ed Tullett signed to Equal Vision Records last year, and played the label’s showcase this March at SXSW. While at the showcase to chat with some of their higher-profile acts, I found myself with some time to kill. Coincidentally, so did Tullett.
You just got off the stage at the Equal Vision Records showcase. How did your set go?
It was great! Everything went well. I was with my friend Micah [Josiah Dailey] who’s from Phoenix, and we’d never even met before. We played like three days, and then we’re here.
How did you connect with him?
Online, basically. It probably sounds pretty creepy! But he sent me his stuff and I really liked it, and it just went from there. And I knew I needed a band member, because doing it by myself isn’t going to work.
Was that just a one-off thing for while you’re down here?
Maybe, I don’t know. I mean I’d love to play with him in the future, he’s a great musician, but yeah, we use a ton of guitar loops, and then the drums and stuff, and by myself, I couldn’t have done that.
Now, you’re from the UK, right? Have you played over here before? Is this a first for you?
I’ve never played here before, that was my first show.
Your very first show in the US.
Yeah, I’ve only been here… I was in New York for three days last July, and that’s it.
Have you had a chance to take in SouthBy yet?
A little bit. It’s kind of crazy. It’s kind of humbling to see this many musicians in one place. You always know there’s a ton of musicians, but to see this many people who are probably better than you in one place is kind of weird. But it’s really cool.
Your music tends to be acoustic-based, a lot of loops and things like that. You’ve gotten a number of Bon Iver comparisons… Actually, maybe you should talk a little about that. There was the stem competition? [Tullett’s contest-winning remix of Bon Iver’s “Hinnom, TX” can be found on Spotify]
Yeah, it was great, it was so cool to be recognized by someone who’s such an inspiration. I never thought I was going to win, there was some great music…
So he just put the stems online for anybody to remix?
Yeah yeah, and I just thought “this would be fun.” Then I did one, everything was great, but I uploaded it to the online thing, and just got my fans to listen to it and comment and stuff, and then it just went from there. And they picked it!
So how did you connect with the Equal Vision folks over here? It’s not usually that sound that they focus in.
I’m glad someone knows that! They’re a great label. My manager, he just sent my stuff to a ton of people. He picked me up around maybe March or April of last year, sent it to a ton of people, and Equal Vision absolutely loved it. The A&R there wanted to fly me over straightaway. So I went to Manhattan and then Albany in July, it was a crazy three days, tons of meetings and stuff. And then it was all finalized shortly after that. They’re a great label, I’m really happy to be on them.
So they’ve reissued the album?
Yes, they’ve reissued Never Joy. That was originally released, probably, not last September but the September before. I was 17 when I wrote and recorded that, just by myself. We’ve remastered it. It’s a cool album, but it’s kind of weird because I’m 19, I’m 20 in October, and it’s just weird to still be on the album cycle of an album that I did when I was 17. Which is pretty young I guess. I’m still young now! [Laughs]
Have you been writing and demoing and all that in the meantime?
Yeah, I have. There’s definitely a lot of progression. I’ve got a new single coming out on April 9th which is called “Oxblood” which is one of the songs we played. It’s, like, electric guitar and a ton of high harmonies. I’m really excited about it. It’s very different from stuff on Never Joy. I’m definitely progressing lyrically; when I was 17, you know, my lyrics were pretty naive.
Is it hard for you to get on stage and still sing those songs?
No, I like it! It’s hard because when no-one knows you, it’s hard to sing stuff like that, acoustic stuff, because you need people to be really into it to get it. But if people like it, it’s great. I don’t know what to say, it’s just how I write. I’ve always written poetically, and I’m getting better and better. I usually write as poems first, and then turn them into songs. That’s pretty hipster of me, I guess.
Do you have any timeframe on when you want to get a new recording done, or are you all-in on Never Joy for now?
I’d love to get something out as soon as possible. We’ve got that single coming out on April 9th. I’ve got a ton of ideas written; lyrically, I’ve got tons of stuff. I’d love to get a record out soon, but we’ve got to talk to the label and see what they say. Definitely this year I think.
What about touring plans? I know you’re just here for these couple days at South By, any plans to come back?
I would absolutely love to. It’s hard now, because the label’s based in Albany, NY and I’m based in Brighton, England, so it’s kind of hard, but I’d absolutely love to do any touring I could do really. But the one problem for me is I really need a band, because my stuff isn’t just acoustic guitar. That’s why Micah is so great, we can loop stuff and play drums, it’s like a full band with two people. But yeah, it’s hard. I’d love to do any sort of touring over here and have him with me because, yeah, that’s enough, I don’t need anything more than drums and some loops.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Hopefully some touring, hopefully to do a new record but I just don’t know when it’s going to be.
Do you have touring lined up in the UK or in Europe?
I did a very small tour supporting Jonny Craig last year, at the end of last year, and I supported Tegan & Sara for a one-off date — which was really awesome, I love those guys.
How was being on the road with Jonny?
Interesting. I didn’t really speak to him very much, so…
I’m talking to him later this afternoon.
Oh really? Well have fun, it’s going to be good. Don’t ask him about MacBooks, I guess. Have you seen the Kickstarter thing he’s doing?
In the video, there’s just a MacBook right there. Come on. He’s asking for it.
Yeah, I think he is. It’s something I’m going to bring up. We’ll see what happens.
Oh yeah? That’s a good idea.
So for people who are first checking you out, you’re an unfamiliar name in the US right now, what would you say… I dunno, sell yourself!
Yes! Why should people listen to your music?
Jeez! Well, Americans like English people, right? So there you go, that’s one thing! If you like kind of folky [music], with a ton of harmonies… I could compare myself to other bands, like Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, that sort of stuff, but…
Well what have you been listening to lately?
That’s a tough question! There’s a great band who just released an album called Rhye. Do you know them?
Yeah, it’s so good.
Oh yeah, it’s an incredible record. What else, I dunno man? I’m always listening to Radiohead, they’re my favorite band. But go get Rhye’s album, that’s an incredible album!
Any final words? Where should we look for you?
Just Google me! I’m on Facebook, Twitter, everything. It’s usually just “Ed Tullett” — with two “t”’s at the end! Everyone has it with one “t”, and that’s wrong. It makes me sound like my name’s all French, like it’s “Eddie Too-lay”…
That’s alright, over here we’d just pronounce it “Tullett” anyway! [Laughs]
That’s true, that’s very true. But then I’m English, so I’m cool over here!