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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Interview: Will Porter

This interview is week 11 of Sean Claes' 52 Weeks of Austin Music Interviews.

A Songwriters Manifesto
Will Porter: From Ardmore to Austin




By Sean Claes
Six years ago, a friend of mine named Trevor Lane and I came up with a crazy idea to throw a music festival outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma (where he lives). It took a year of planning to unleash the dream, but in 2008 we held the first ever Backwoods Bash Music and Camping Festival at a place out in the sticks. We brought in several area musicians and some from as far as Austin (Full Service played that inaugural year). It was a hot mess... luckily the people who attended didn't know we were holding the thing together by its shoestrings. We kept the mantra "The only reason to have a First Ever is to have a Second Annual."


We learned and continued to make adjustments, and I am please to say that the 2012 marks the 5th Annual Backwoods Bash.

Why am I telling you this story when I'm introducing an interview with new Austinite Will Porter? Well, this was where I met Porter. He kicked the festival off and his track, "Songwriters Manifesto" was the official theme song for that first year.

Will Porter is an amazing singer. He is one of those players that walks into a bar and looks like he's the bouncer, not the entertainment. But, when he opens his mouth and sings, wow. I liken his journey to that of local celebrity Nakia, as his charisma, talent and voice (the only things that SHOULD matter) are encased within a non-stereotypical singer physique.

Porter recently relocated from Ardmore, Oklahoma to Austin, Texas after a car accident made him realize that life is finite and he needed to follow that dream to the Live Music Capitol of the World.

He's been hitting up a few open mic nights, but his first Austin show will come at the Red Eyed Fly on Monday April 2, 2012. If you're in the area at 11p, please wander in and give him a good Austin welcome.

I've not seen him in five years, so I thought I'd look him up and introduce him to everyone the only way I know how.



Sean Claes: How did you end up taking the stage and becoming a performer when you were 15?
Will Porter: I was in Show Choir at the time. After singing a solo for an assembly for our entire school I found my purpose in singing and performing after hearing the reaction of my classmates and teachers. Shortly after that I started playing guitar and writing songs beginning my musical journey.

Claes: You grew up in Oklahoma and, until recently, lived in Ardmore. How did that help you formulate your music and songs?
Porter: I was born and raised in Marietta about 20 min south of Ardmore. I think Love County contributed 'cause there isn't anything to do so I would just sing, play guitar and write all the time. Well, that, and play video games!

Claes: You turn 30 this August, and you made the move to Austin in February. What prompted your move from Oklahoma to Austin?
Porter: Long story short I had a blow out coming home from a gig, lost control of my vehicle and hit a steel fence going about 60mph. Luckily I was alright but my car was messed up obviously. It helped me realize that life can be over in an instant so I better get off my ass and do I was born to do. I'm ready and it was time

Claes: In the early 2000s you we a part of a band called Cardinal Trait as the bassist and backup singer. You ended up signed to an indie label. And through them released You Ought To Know in 2004. How was that ride?
Porter: Those were some of the best worst years of my life. I hated working with that label but it did afford us some wonderful opportunities. Ultimately I'm thankful for learning more about the awfulness of the music industry, becoming a better musician jamming with great players and the friendships

Claes: You penned “Songwriters Manifesto” the theme song for the 2008 Backwoods Bash, an annual music and camping festival that takes place outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The song is pretty telling, as it begins “I’m not where I wanted to be ten years ago.” How well does that track describe you?
Porter: It was an honor to be the theme song for Backwoods Bash! I wrote the song when I was 25, exactly 10 years after I started music seriously. At the time it said everything I wanted to say and still does. I do it ‘cause I love the music! I do it ‘cause I love to sing! And I just hope I make you feel like I feel! I'm very proud to have written something that honest and heartfelt.

Porterhouse in 2010

Claes: In 2009 you formed PorterHouse with drummer Walton McMurry and released an EP in 2010. How did that collaboration go? Is it still a viable partnership, or did moving to Austin end the band?
Porter: PorterHouse was a blast and I still keep in contact with Walton. He's back in OK gigging and about to complete his masters at UCO in percussion. We got to open up for Colt Ford, Saving Abel, Aranda and Cody Canida. I hope we get to work again in the future but regardless we're homies.

Claes: You also released at least one “solo” album in PorterHouse Radio where you made it a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek radio show. Tell me a little about that album.
Porter: I figured if I couldn't be played on the radio then I would make it sound like I was. Just a diff want way to present my songs than the standard album. I went to audio engineering school and learned how to record and produce. PorterHouse Radio was my first album. I played, recorded, wrote, and mixed every track. I learned a lot thru the process.




Claes: Last year you collaborated with a rapper by the name of Big Savage on a track called “I Never Imagined” How’d that come about?
Porter: Savage found me after I opened up PorterHouse Studio and had an article about me in the paper. We've recorded many songs together. On occasion, he'll ask me to sing a hook for him. He had the words and I came up with the melody line in a couple of minutes then recorded it. Took about 10 min for me to do my part. It wasn't till a few weeks later he called me and said "We're gonna shoot a video for Never Imagined". I was like "Sweet! Lets do it!!"

Claes: Are you interested in continuing that kind of thing, perhaps guesting on a few hip-hop records by Austin folks?
Porter: Hell yea! I love collaborating and singing with talented people. I play a lot of acoustic shows but It's fun singing over a fat hip hop beat sometimes

Claes: People judge by looks, and being a large bald guy you don’t have the conventional “musician” look, but you’ve got an amazingly powerful and soulful voice. When you play a new room, do you surprise a lot of people with your vocals?
Porter: Almost every show somebody comes to me and says " I wasn't expecting THAT to come out of YOU!". I've learned to accept it as a complement. I've grown my hair back out. I've been told it "softens my look". Haha. Whatever, just listen to me sing!





Claes: Do you have a favorite song that you’ve penned? Why?
Porter: Probably "Songwriters Manifesto" because it said everything I wanted to.
"My Reality" was inspired by my love of philosophy and is based on Platos Alegory of the Cave. It made me feel good I could share Plato with a tight groove!
"Its a Shame" says what I wanna say to every girl I've been into that wasn't into me. I wrote it about a particular chick who loves the song but has no idea it's about her. Ironic isn't it? It's a shame you’re not in love with me babe. True : )

Claes: How much of your set is originals and how much is covers? What are your favorite covers to perform?
Porter: Longer shows it’s about 50/50. I try to put my own spin on my covers but stay somewhat true to the original. Basically I would want to original artist to listen to it and say "Good job man!." Fav covers are “You Don't Know Me” by Ray Charles, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles, “Nice and Slow” by Usher, “Red Headed Woman” by Wade Bowen and “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkly.

Claes: Are you solo singer/songwriter or are you looking to put together or join a band?
Porter: I'm both. I'll always perform acoustic shows because I love them but I'm also looking for good players to back me up too.

Claes: You’ve produced music via your own PorterHouse Studios when you were in Ardmore. Are you set up in Austin now?
Porter: I've got all my equipment and I'm still recording out of my apartment and demoing things out.

Claes: You had indicated to me that you were thinking of doing some busking during the big music week in Austin. Did you? If so, how’d it go?
Porter: Yea I've been down there a few times. I've had a lot of fun and met some interesting characters as you can imagine being on 6th. I even met Danny Trejo one night! I've been a fan of his since I was like 13 watching his movies. That was too cool.


Open Mic at Kick Butt Coffee in February 2012

Claes: Having just moved to Austin, have you had a chance to play many places in town yet?
Porter: Mostly open mics and busking but I opened for Sam Sliva and the Good in Yokum and at the stock yards in Fort Worth. My buddy Lucus, Honkey Tonk Red, plays bass for them

Claes: What local musicians have you caught and been impressed by since you got here?
Porter: JT Coldfire is a badass. Gary Clark JR is also a badass. I've noticed a lot of good talent. That's what brings me to Austin. It's inspiring

Claes: You play April 2 at The Red Eyed Fly. Tell me a little about that gig?
Porter: I go on at 11pm and its gonna be a fun show! My first show downtown so I'm gonna be excited to play and on my A game!

Catch Will Porter perform at Red Eyed Fly at 11p on Monday, April 2, 2012. For more information about Porter, visit his Sonic Bids page.


Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. If you like what you read... please share. To visit Claes' homepage, go here - http://www.seanclaes.com/.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Interview with Butcherwhite

This interview is week 10 of Sean Claes' 52 Weeks of Austin Music Interviews.

The Butcher Is In
Getting Messy with Butcherwhite

3/5/10 @ Red Eyed Fly - Photo by: Photography By Maurice



By Sean Claes
Butcherwhite came onto the Austin music scene in 2005 and brought their brand of metal with them kicking and screaming. Bandmates Billy Perkins (vocals), Rob Hacker (bass), Bill Ables (guitar), and Justin Stansfield (drums) continue to fill the stage and bring their offering to the alter of rock every chance they get. They've released two albums, the self-titled debut (2006) and Sex and Poison (2009). In between gigs, rehearsals, jobs, and real life, they've been assembling a third record, that should see the light of day soon.

The name derives from the color of a butcher's apron. It's white, but that color is only temporary as it will deem the fate of the blood, guts, knives, and bones that accompany the job of the person who dons the apron. Butcherwhite.

I took the chance to see how The Butcher was doing these days.




Claes: Unabashed metal with a slight punk swagger is how I would describe your music. How would you do it?
Justin Stanfield: Energized, rowdy, catchy licks and lyrics…and I always liked on one of our posters (from the ROT Rally), "Loud • Greasy • Dirty." On a personal level, it gets me pumped up and amped up. As I feel, so do the fans…I see the reactions from our music.

Billy Perkins: Our music is influenced by everything from the Ramones to Sabbath to Riot to Slayer. We enjoy a 6 minute Texas metal stomper with time changes, and a 2 minute hooky punk tune equally.


Claes: Do you think the band has continued along the same track you were on in 2005 when you began, or have you evolved?
Rob Hacker: Evolved for sure with a much heavier sound since I joined in 2009, layin' down the bass tracks on Sex & Poison with my molasses-thick grooves - and the newest addition of Justin slaying it on drums.

Perkins: I think we're still doing what Butcherwhite does, but we've definitely evolved. We have a couple of "new" players on bass & drums since the early days. Our rhythm section is subtly different, even though we're plugged in to the same beefy formula.

Justin's drums are more busy and aggressive. Bill's leads have gotten even better, and he and I are both playing different guitars & through different gear now. My vocals have also evolved. Watching and listening to our live performances, I've come to realize that I can be a decent singer, but I'm not a very good screamer. I tend to sing a little more than growl these days.





Claes: I really dug your 2009 album Sex & Poison. How do you think you’ve progressed as a band since then?
Perkins: Mostly, I think our songs are just coming from a different place now. A lot of the tunes on Sex & Poison were reflections on some dark times regarding my split with my ex of 17 years. That's not an easy break, and in my case it got really ugly and dramatic - as in suicide attempts ("Why Do You Wanna Die"), mental hospitals, electroshock therapy, substance abuse ("Find A Way"), and the guilt that comes with making the excruciating decision to end a long relationship ("The Hardest Mile," "In The Rearview Mirror").

Now I'm in a much happier place, so our songs don't really have as much of that depression and sadness. Now it's just meaner, more fun and heavier. Newer songs like "Lying In Wait" are about giant beings lying dormant in the clouds waiting to take their role in the end of the world. Still full of testosterone and adrenaline, maybe even more - just refocused into different subject matter.

Claes: Tell me the story behind the song ‘Blood War” off of Sex & Poison.
Perkins: Blood War is another tune off that album that sprung indirectly from the drama surrounding my divorce. I have one sibling, a younger brother, who I love dearly. We've always got along throughout our entire lives and never really even argued.

But these were dark and trying times. My family was greatly affected by my actions. My brother was living in L.A. at the time, and going through a lot of stress of his own while trying to break into Hollywood as an actor. The drama going on in both our lives put our mother under a great deal of strain, but my actions in particular almost broke us.

Kevin flew down to Texas one weekend, and let me know very strongly that he disapproved. Some of it was his own stress spilling over, but nevertheless we almost came to blows for the very first time in our lives. I was always scrappy growing up...like I was probably in 30 fights or more. I was hot-tempered, and likewise so was my little bro. BUT - there was absolutely no way I could lift a hand against my brother. Never. I literally would have put my arms to my side and let him beat me in the face and still not lifted a finger to hurt him.

I always protected him through our childhood, like a big brother should - and I was going to protect both of us and our relationship by taking whatever punishment he felt like I deserved. It was a very emotional moment for us both - but one we thankfully got over quickly. I'm getting emotional right now as I type this.






Claes: I know you did some recording in late 2011. Are any of those tracks going to see the light of day (or have they and I totally missed it) as a third Butcherwhite album?
Hacker: Lots of new songs coming together as we jell with Justin and keep popping out new tunes for the next album.
Perkins: We have plans to record a new 6 or 7 song EP very soon (songs are ready), then hopefully start working on new tunes for the 4th Butcherwhite record. We'll see how it plays out.

Claes: Tell me about a few of your newer songs.
Perkins: "Finding Religion" is a ZZ Top-like Texas metal groover, a neutral & somewhat cynical observation of religious worship rituals.

"Shine" is an interesting song for us, and one of my favorites to play. It's a bit more complex rhythm, even a little Rush-like, that was composed by Bill Ables. Lyrically it's a story of a man who goes to a fortune teller and is shown a vision of the end of the world.

"Lying In Wait" is a metal stomper that continues along this apocalyptic path. When flying back from San Francisco a few years ago, I was in a nighttime electrical storm. I got buzzed before getting on the plane, and it was like a Twilight Zone experience. We flew very high above the storm. It was pitch black, but when lightning flashed I could literally see the curvature of the earth. I imagined that I saw giant beings nestled in the tops of the clouds.


"Barney" is a crowd favorite - a two-minute punk song about my best little buddy, my pudgy beagle who died a few years ago.


"Ugly Season" is reminiscent of "Blood War", and derived from the same tough period in my life.


"Hedgehog"…let's see, what can I say about Hedgehog. It's a Ron Jeremy reference, and is the best punk singalong ever written. It's simultaneously our most prideful and our most shameful moment, and it rocks all kinds of balls.


Stanfield: New tunes have us so excited, they seem to morph into even better tunes the more we play them. Still sounds like the good ol' Butcherwhite with new chops, more energy, and seems to earfuck everybody in its path. Heavier on different levels of the music spectrum.

Claes:
Do you have any songs that were almost too personal to release?
Perkins: Well speaking for myself, I have plenty of those. It's not that they're too personal to release, they're just not metal songs. They'll see the light of day at some point. But Butcherwhite holds nothing back.


Claes: You just got over the big music week in Austin. Where did you play and how did it go?
Perkins: We played a rooftop gig at Blind Pig Pub. We always have fun when we play, but (in my opinion) playing during SXSW is a lot of hassle with not much to gain. The club really didn't have their shit together, which was a little frustrating, but what the hell - it's SXSW week and it's to be expected. Our set got cut way short for reasons that we still don't understand. When we show up, we're ready to PLAY.

Claes: Did you catch any bands that really struck you as interesting?
Perkins: I have some friends from Canada that play in a live dance band called Shout Out Out Out Out, and they always bring a party. Two drummers that sync up perfectly and rouse the crowd, and at times two bass players. Those guys bring it.

Claes: What are your thoughts on the whole “Music Festival” in Austin as a whole? As a band and as a fan of music.
Perkins: As a band, it's always flattering to be in any way a part of the excitement. But…and this is just me - it's really a pain in the ass. Every alley, parking lot, club, and closet is booked with live music, but with no plan whatsoever as to how it can be pulled off. It's a logistical nightmare to load and unload in a timely fashion, then it's over too fast. Is it worth it? Not really.

As a fan of music, it's pretty great. It's like a smorgasbord of great music, and if you have the energy and mental capacity to keep up with everything that's going on, you can have a ton of fun. I love my city.



Claes: Billy, you’re a well-known poster artist (is that a fair title to call you?) and you just got done with Flatstock. Tell me a little about that show.
Perkins: Flatstock is a gathering of 100 plus concert poster artists from all over the world. It's an awesome community that I'm very proud to be a part of. It's a pretty overwhelming display of work if you've never been. Literally some of the most dementedly creative minds on the planet under one roof. You can buy rare limited edition screen prints directly from the artists. Makes your living room hip and sexy! These are some of my dearest friends, and when we get together, we throw down hard.

Claes: I know Billy is in Honeycreeper, who I interviewed back in January, but what are some of the other projects members of Butcherwhite are into these days?
Hacker: I play Bass with longtime Austin favs "Johnny Tequila"( Classic Rock,Blues and Country) on occasion.

Perkins: Bill Ables plays guitar in Skrew. Rob is also a luthier and has owned The Custom Shop for over 18 years now. He's worked on instruments for Eric Johnson, Nikki Sixx and a lot more. Broken headstock? Call Rob.



Claes: Who in town are you guys listening to these days?
Hacker: My new favorite local band is "Douche Magouche" ...words can't even describe how fuckin' cool these guys are.

Perkins: I love my boys in Hyde Park Showdown and Burning Avalanche. The Heroine from San Antonio are awesome. I'm actually about to go on a mission to find some new local music that I haven't heard yet.

Claes: You’ve been in the music game a long time. What have you seen that has changed in Austin in the past decade or so?
Hacker: Too many out of town newbies coming here willing to play for free effin' it up for the rest of us. And that is all…

Perkins: The sound ordinance is a big buzzkill, although BW really hasn't been affected by it (yet). The Red River district sprung up and thrived, but I think it's now in decline. It created a very tight community though, one that will probably stand the test of time.

Clubs have come & gone. I miss Room 710. Bands have come & gone, that's probably the saddest part. Local bands like Elvis On Speed usually shine like a star briefly, then they're gone. Get out & see em while you can.

Good news is that the live scene in Austin just refuses to die, despite the city's best efforts to corporatize it. Clubs will just spring up somewhere else, like mushrooms. Hello East side!


Claes:
I’ve noticed that Dirty Dog puts on a lot of free shows. Do you think this is a positive thing for the scene? I’ve heard the arguments both ways… some say free shows are making it hard for bands to get fans to attend their paying gigs.
Stanfield: Free shows are nothing but a positive thing for both the scene and the bands/fans. Pay to play?? *spits on ground*

Perkins: I should clarify that "Free Show" doesn't mean the band plays for free, it just means no cover. The Dirty Dog is a well-managed club that takes care of the bands much better than most. They also don't designate that the shows have to be free; bands can charge at the door if they want to.

We just like free shows there because they're located on 6th St and get a lot of walk in traffic. It's no risk to come inside and have a drink, and we get paid from the bar. Plus, once they're in, we're confident that we can keep em there.

Also, those bands that are whining don't have to play the free shows if they don't want. Some of them have inflated egos and think people will actually pay a lot of money to see them. It all comes down to how the individual clubs pay the bands.

Some pay only from the door money. Some pay from the bar. Some don't pay at all. I pretty much like em all except that last one.

Butcherwhite just likes to play, and we want people in the door so we can give em a show. Pay is secondary, we'd just spend it on beer and shots anyway.


Keep up to date with Butcherwhite and see where they'll play next by following them at either Reverb Nation or Facebook.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Driver Friendly, Ruthie Foster, Ben Kweller - CD

March 2012 CD Reviews


I didn't have a chance to interview anyone for my 52 Weeks of Austin Musician Interviews for this week (my two lined-up interviewees fell through) so instead I'm going to offer you three CD reviews. This is what I've been listening to lately. I also included some of the FREE places these bands are going to be performing this week. Take a read, take in a show, and buy some Austin music.
- Sean Claes, INsite Editor


Driver Friendly
Bury A Dream
The long-awaited follow up to 2008’s Chase The White Whale is finally coming out on April 24. I’m happy to say in the last 4 years, while the boys of Driver F have matured a bit more musically (and have elongated their name to the original “Driver Friendly”), Bury A Dream provides same great sound that made me fall in deep musical like of their last effort.

The Driver Friendly sound is fun rock anthems that beg you to sing at the top of your lungs while moving your feet to the beat. The songs, driven by drums, horns and guitar, are as fun to listen to as they are lyrically powerful.

It seems the buys of Driver F are searching for answers in this album. Several of the tracks bring up mental battles with the metaphysical. “Ghosts” kicks the CD off and sets the stage with the single line of “It’s not death that scares us, it’s the ghosts we cannot see.”

This album is chock full of gold. Key tracks are “Messidona,” “Do Whatever You Want,” and “You’re A Legend, Sir.” If I had to choose a favorite track, the faith driven “Lost Boys” would be it. It’s also the track that contains the line which became the album name.
They release Bury a Dream on April 24

To see their schedule for this week, visit http://www.driverf.com/sxsw. Or, just check them out anytime at http://driverf.com/


Ruthie Foster
Let It Burn
The cliché is true in this instance. Ruthie Foster could sing the phone book and I’d listen. In Let It Burn, Foster mixes a couple of originals in with an album of covers.

Foster picked some impressive obscure tracks to cover. She delivers a powerful cover of Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain,” a nice laid-back delivery of Los Lobos’ “This Time” and gives John Martyn’s “Don’t Wanna Know” her signature treatment.

Let it Burn also contains a couple of well-known tracks rearranged and reimagined for Foster. The Pete Seeger track, “If I Had a Hammer” is much more sultry and soulful and if I didn’t know “Ring of Fire” was a Johnny Cash song, I’d have a hard time believing the gospel-tinged blues song was a cover.

I think it’s a testament to the songwriting of a musician when originals can be speckled in the middle of well-respected and they hold their own, and in Let It Burn Foster gives us “Aim For The Heart,” “Lord, Remember Me” and “Welcome Home.”

As if Foster’s voice wouldn’t be enough to make me really enjoy this album (it is), she has some amazing guest-vocalists in The Blind Boys of Alabama and William Bell.

It was recorded in New Orleans with some phenomenal players who helped bring to life the tracks contained within Let it Burn. Musicians included Ike Stubblefield (keys), George Porter Jr. (bass), Russell Batiste (drums), Dave Easley (guitar) and James Rivers (sax).

Although the music was amazing, I have to say the track that blew me away was the acappella “The Titanic” which features only Foster and The Blind Boys of Alabama. It closes the album out…beautifully.

She plays a free show on Wednesday March 14 at 12:30p at the Red Eyed Fly and at 3:30 at Dogwood (Formerly Mother Egan’s). She plays again free on Thursday at Waterloo Records at 4:30p before her 2 official showcases Thursday night.

Of course, she may be coming to your town soon as she’s on tour, so check http://ruthiefoster.com/ for tour information.


Ben Kweller
Go Fly A Kite
I have to admit, I’ve been on the fence about the music of Ben Kweller. When he made Austin his home a few years ago, got a little excited. Then I met him and he was one of the most genuine people I’ve had a chance to shake hands with in the industry.

So, when he released a country album in 2009 I happily gave Changing Horses a chance. I even made him the cover story of the February 2009 issue of INsite.

Fast forward three years and Kweller came back to the pop-rock table with Go Fly A Kite. I’m digging it. He brings a sound that is classic a la Beatles and Roy Orbison mixed with the production and swagger of current tunes.

He kicks the album off with a guitar driven tune called “Mean To Me” that drives home the this is not a follow-up to Changing Horses as much as it’s Kweller reclaiming his place on the rock stage. During “Jealous Girl” he seems to channel the sound of Tom Petty. He rocks out during “Time Will Save The Day.” The upbeat “You Can Count On Me” bops along at a nice pace to close the album.

My favorite track on the CD is the telling and gospel-influenced “Full Circle.” It’s a little comical to me, here I am reviewing an album and the key track I find is about the negatives of judging people.

“As I burned all the books I read. I recalled somethin’ someone somewhere said; ‘There’s so much in us you don’t see.’ Don’t judge anyone because everybody comes full circle. I’ve come full circle.”

If anyone has earned the right to write a song warning people of being judgmental, it is Kweller. The child prodigy (Remember Radish?) has grown into a well-rounded musician. He’s earned his solid setting as an Alternative musician as he can seamlessly dive into different genres and perform music with heart, emotion, and skill.

The entire 38 minute album is a joy to listen to. To find out more about Kweller, visit http://benkweller.com/

He’s playing at a few places in Austin this week. The ones I was able to find two free shows: 3/14 (You must RSVP)
at The Stage on 6th (508 E. 6th) at 5:00p and on 3/17 he plays the annual SXSan Jose at 7:00p at Jo’s Coffee (1300 South Congress).

Sunday, March 11, 2012

March into FREE 2012


Badgeless and Proud
Get your Music Fix for Free

By: Sean Claes
Are you the type that makes a list of places and people you want to see or are you the type that just wanders down the street listening for a sound you want to know more? Personally, I make a list.. and then throw it out the window as soon as I get downtown and let the rhythem of the music take me. In the last 5-6 years of wandering like a gypsy that feeds on good music during that 3rd week in March, I’ve discovered a few things that have helped me in my journey. I’m talking about free shows. No badges, no four letter acronym shows, nothing but good free music spread out amongst the industry bar tab that is BadgeWorld.


Below INsite shines a spotlight on three free festivals that have been a mainstay for the last few years – Texas Rockfest, Red Gorilla Music Fest, and the Wildfire Reggae and Arts Festival.

As an added bonus we’ve got a link to the ultimate Free List plus the Website for the coolest new App born in Austin that provides you with fan photos of shows as they happen.

And, of course, we're hanging at Jovita's on Thursday for the Defeat The Squares Showcase and CD release and thin you should too. Details at the end of this story.

HEART OF TEXAS ROCK FEST
Texas Rockfest has been a thorn in the side of the establishment for the last 12 years. It was an idea hatched as a big middle finger from creator Adam Brewer to BadgeWorld when it began, but now it stands on its own as a viable free rock festival that is based smack-dab in the middle of the downtown Austin music area. This year, the two outdoor stages are at 7th and Neches and they will also have satellite stages at Tinest Bar in Texas (817 W 5th) and two stages at Blue Moon (422 E 6th).

The 7th and Neches stage will host bands like Agony Column , A Good Rogering, and Dead Earth Politics (Wednesday 3/14), DAHEBEGEBEES, Golden State, and Dirty Wormz (Thursday 3/15), Vallejo, Casey McPherson, Eyes Burn Electric, and Art Versus Industry (Friday 3/16) and Natalie Zoe, Witchburn, and Critical Assembly (Saturday 3/17).

Visit http://texasrockfest.com for times and schedules for all of the bands. Did we mention that INsite has been a sponsor for Rockfest for about 5 years? We REALLY like this one.


RED GORILLA MUSIC FEST
The Red Gorilla Music Festival is one of those festivals that I ended up wandering into for a few years based on hearing good music I wanted to know more about in several downtown clubs. I started to realize it was the same festival when I suddenly noticed the.. well… red gorilla. This year they've got free shows set up at Chuggin’ Monkey (219 E. 6th Street), Blind Pig Pub (317 E. 6th Street), Thirsty Nickel (325 E. 6th Street), Darwin’s Pub (223 E. 6th Street), Dizzy Rooster (306 E. 6th Street), Whisky & Ink (209 W. 5th Street), The Rooftop Bar (403 E. 6th Street), and Touché (417 E. 6th Street).

The fun is in the discovering of new bands, but here are a few I recommend: Mingo Fishtrap (3/13 @ Blind Pig Pub), Kris Bell and Squint (3/14 @ Darwin’s Pub), (Suite 709 3/16 @ Darwin’s Pub) Nappy Roots (3/17 @ Thirsty Nickel).

Visit http://www.redgorillamusic.com for the times and schedules for all of the bands.


WILDFIRE REGGAE AND ARTS FESTIVAL
Wildfire is the new entry in the free festival group that has caught my eye and ear in the last few years. Gregory “Episode Phive” Cooper began this multi-day free festival with a big push towards unity and love in 2010 at Ruta Maya (3601 S. Congress). Not only is this festival far removed from the downtown scene, it’s focus is more of a “let’s provide a great party with some awesome music and enjoy ourselves” than the hard-nosed “gotta get to the next showcase” environment.

If you like Reggae music and aren’t really into the mass consumtion of music at 30 different clubs in the middle of downtown Austin… this one is for you.

It goes on from Thursday 3/15 until Saturday 3/17 and local favorites like Don Chani, McPullish, Ashes of Babylon and Axis Unity are slated to play. Also slated is HR Human Rights (with members of Bad Brains and Fishbone), Zvuloon Dub System (Tel Aviv, Israel), and Micah Brown (Dana Point, California).

For a 51 track sampler of bands playing, visit http://wildfirereggaefest.com/sampler
For band listings and line-up go to http://wildfirereggaefest.com


THE NEW MUSIC TIPSHEET LIST
Every year, the fine folks at New Music Tipsheet comb the scene and collect the information about the best free shows and events during March in Austin. It’s called the Daytime Party List: www.newmusictipsheet.com/thelist2012.pdf. It’s where we at INsite go to find many of the “official” showcase artists playing free shows that sometimes are accompanied by free food, swag, and drinks. It’s really the best way to make your journey to free a worthwhile one.

Check out the New Music Tipsheet 2012 SXSW Daytime Party List here.


VIVOGIG – INSTANT ACCESS TO PICTURES OF THE BIGGEST SHOWS
One of the biggest buzz Apps this year is the homegrown (Austin) App called Vivogig. With this app the fan becomes the event photographer and they can upload photos of performances AS THEY HAPPEN. Can’t make it to Austin in March? You can check out pictures on http://vivogig.com/. In the middle of the action and want to share some photos instantly? Download the App and use it to post to your Facebook as well as on the frontpage of the Vivogig site. Just FYI, Vivogig isn’t just for March and not just for Austin… it can be used for any show in any city on any night. It’s just being launched in Austin, so the front page features folks like Radiohead, Girls, Flametrick Subs, Art Versus Industry and Quiet Company intermingling with Ted Nugent (who played IL) and Los Straightjackets (playing TN).

Vivogig for iPhone - http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/vivogig/id504474420?ls=1&mt=8

Link
DEFEAT THE SQUARES SHOWCASE
Oh.. and just for good measure, INsite is getting in on the action over at Jovitas and we're supporting our friends at Defeat The Squares with their showcase on Thursday, March 15. Six great bands and a free CD that has music from a bunch of really fantastic bands intermingled with comedy. And yes, Virgina, it's all free too.


So, get out there and have yourself some free. Oh, and do me a favor, sign up, go download the free app and share your free with us at INsite. We love a good free… and it’s even better when you share with friends.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

For Leslie


Leslie Cochran
(June 24, 1951 – March 8, 2012)

May you make Heaven as weird as you helped make Austin.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Interview - Art Versus Industry

This interview is week 9 of Sean Claes' 52 Weeks of Austin Music Interviews.

An Experimental Movement in Music
Austin’s Art Versus Industry

By Sean Claes
About a year ago, I happened to be downtown during Free Week (January 7, 2011) and was invited to catch a electronica/Rock band by the name of Art Versus Industry at Stubb’s. When I wandered in, I was taken aback by the light show, mostly because in my experience when the smog and lights hit the stage at a smaller venue it’s meant to cover up substandard music.

I was pleasantly surprised. Nick Munos (drums), Avi Ghosh (vocals/keys) and Matt Gruber (guitars), the men who make up Art Versus Industry not only provide a wall of sound that is much larger than expected from three musicians, they also make some amazingly wonderful and complex keyboard driven rock music. The lights add to the experience, they are not there to cover anything up, at all.

So, when I heard they released their Movement I EP, were about to complete a full-length album, and they were playing at several venues in March, I thought it was time to get up to speed with the guys.


Sean Claes: What is the story behind the name?
Nick Munos: The band's name is actually an acronym for Avi's name. When the band first came together, Avi was still writing and releasing music under his own name, but wanted to start a new project with a new sound, mindset, and members. We came up with Art Versus Industry as a way to tie the two projects together and to describe the attitude behind the current project.

Avi Ghosh: At the end of the day, despite the reference to my first name- the name embodies the rebellious spirit behind what we're doing. We aren't part of a molded market-machine, especially in respect to current trends though the material isn't necessarily hard to digest by a general consensus (or so we think), It's about reading between the lines to find the truth behind what we're saying without necessarily giving it away.

Claes: Avi, you moved to Austin on a whim with no band. What spurred the move?
Ghosh: I was at a point in my life that I really needed a change of pace and location. I moved to Austin with zero expectations aside from wanting to completely remove myself from where I was at the time. I met someone very special who inspired me to take a leap of faith and relocate with some recording equipment, a subset of my clothing, and an eagerness to discover something “new.” Needless to say- Austin was the breath of fresh air I yearned for and has become what I consider home.

Claes: Matt, you moved across the country to play music with Avi just after you graduated college. What’s the story there?
Matt Gruber: Well, I started listening to Avi's music under the name dEFY, shortly after he released his second full length record The Twelve Degrees Of Loneliness. I was impressed with the sound and sincerity of the music and it struck a chord with me. We became online acquaintances and then after a while, online friends.

I was in my fourth year, finishing up my degree in Math when Avi asked me to contribute to his album All That's Left of Us. After a little conversation, he asked me to be a part of his new live band and I picked myself up and moved down here to be a part of music I truly believed in.

Claes: Nick, a Craigslist ad marked your entry into the band… what were the steps that led up to that ad?
Munos: Actually I went to High school in Plano, Texas and was in an awesomely horrible garage band there. Then I moved to Austin for College and was in several different musical projects that never gained momentum. After college, I sold everything I owned and moved to Brooklyn, New York to try my hand at studio work and start a band there. Soon after, I moved back to Austin and wrote the verbose Craigslist ad that got Avi's attention.

Ghosh: I remember him hitting all the key points in that ad but the rest is just a haze (laughs).

Claes: How does the music writing process go with Art Versus Industry? Is it collaborative or do they come from the mind of a single person?

Ghosh: Usually the songs originate in my bedroom as simplistic ideas. Loops of noises, guitar riffs, synthetic drones with underlying melodies. I like having something substantial to work off of for the rest of the band to add to, take away, or entirely restructure.

Munos: Avi definitely fleshes out the foundation of songs. He will come up with the structure, sound and feel. Then he'll usually give that to me and say, “go nuts.” That's when Matt starts working on the song and will put in his two cents. Then we just build from there.


Claes: You released Movement I in February of 2011. Do you have a favorite track?

Ghosh: My favorite hands down is “Lapse.” I feel like that song truly represents what we all set out to do with Art Versus Industry; both conceptually and musically.

Munos: My favorite song is “Let's Kill.” It's high energy, lots fun to play live, and sums up where the band was mentally “at” during Movement I's writing process.

Gruber: Mine's definitely “Play God.”

Claes: The album is available on your bandcamp for “name your price” meaning free. What has been the reception to the album thus far?

Munos: The reception has been great. It's an amazing feeling going to shows and seeing people singing the songs back to you. It has definitely helped grow our fan-base and allowed for notoriety on a national scale.

Even though the album is available for free, our only request is that if share the love and spread it to your friends. At this point in our careers; we just want as many people possible to hear the result of so much time and effort.

Claes: Is it meant to be listened to front to back or are the songs individual pieces?

Ghosh: It's definitely meant to be heard in one cohesive setting, even being an EP. We've always approached this material as a focused, collective work that builds upon each other, similar to what the next release will present. Even though the music may vary sonically- there is a unified theme and recurrence that only works if you listen from start to finish.

Munos: I personally feel that Movement I works either way. It's a short release and the songs flow together well, but the full-length scheduled to come out soon is definitely meant to be heard from front to back.





Claes: You’ve drawn comparisons to Nine Inch Nails because of the electronic-meets-hard-rock aspect of your music. Would you say they are valid?
Munos: That is a tough question. Just like Nine Inch Nails we make loud, hard hitting electronic music, but I think that is about where the similarities end. It is a huge compliment to be compared to a band of that caliber, but we definitely have our own sound.

Gruber: I believe it's valid only since there are a lot of bands in this genre that mainstream audiences are unaware of. I feel we draw more comparisons with some of the lesser-known acts than we actually do to NIN. It is very flattering though.

Claes: You mentioned a full-length album is in the works.
Munos: Absolutely, the new full length is nearly finished and we have some exciting surprises in store for listeners. We can't be any more specific than that, but I'm excited for people to experience it.

Ghosh: I've never taken so much time, effort, and care to put out a body of work and I don't think I've ever felt more proud of art that I've been involved in. It'll be a challenge for some listeners; but I think it's bound to be a gratifying listen for everyone who's been anticipating the release.

Claes: You’ve got a good collection of unreleased material I’ve seen live and via YouTube. What is your favorite Art Versus Industry song to play live?

Munos: I have a couple. A song called “I Don't Know” a new opener. A song called “Even if it Hurts,” which is an uptempo danceable song and then our slow jam “Dissipate.” All three are officially unreleased and set to come out on our new album.

Gruber: Hmmm, it changes. Especially since we still are playing a decent amount of dEFY/Avi Ghosh material live. So I'll answer for each: dEFY - “This Means Goodbye.” Avi Ghosh - “Eat Me Whole.” Art Versus Industry - “Even if It Hurts.”

Ghosh: Mine's a tie between “I Don't Know,” “Dissipate,” and “This Means Goodbye.” I'd been playing “This Means Goodbye” for years and only with Nick and Matt did that song ever truly come to life.

Claes: Do you have room in your live set for a cover song or two, and if so which ones do you like to jam?
Gruber: We've done NIN's “Big Man With a Gun” in the past to poke fun at some NIN comparisons.

Munos: There is always room for a cover song! We have been toying with this lately and working on taking an unexpected top 40 pop song and making it our own. I don't want to give too much away, but we've got something dirty in the works.

Ghosh: Covers are tricky ground because you're meddling with people's past experiences and to just to re-represent a song the way it already is goes against our musical goals. We're taking the approach of recreating some well-known songs from the ground up- something we're hoping to share later this year.


Claes: What is your opinion of the state of the art of music in Austin these days?
Munos: I think Austin is saturated with amazing musicians but has a much smaller number of bands that are doing something new and original. I feel that Austin, like a lot of the music industry in general, needs a swift kick.

Ghosh: It's a little worrisome, not so much regarding the talent level of the city because that's always in abundance- but moreso the infrastructure for live music. With Emo's leaving Red River and the future of the “Waller Creek” revamp- I feel like the downtown identity for live music is departing.

Throw in the fact you have to pay for parking now and an already struggling economy- I can't help but be skeptical on how these changes are supposed to help our vibrant arts and music community.

While the resurgence on the east-side leaves me hopeful- the sound and vibe of Red River was unlike anything else I've seen anywhere in the US. It was special and to see it being torn apart is a tad heartbreaking. I'm hoping that the newly formed entertainment districts will keep our live music tradition alive and stay true to the necessary production standards previously offered.

Claes: Where are some of the places you like playing in town?

Munos: We always feel at home at Stubb's. They have an amazing staff and we always seem to have our best shows there. We also love The Parish and miss Emo's indoors/Outdoors.
Gruber: Stubb's & Elysium are always fun.

Claes: The widely believed thought is, Elysium is the place for Electronica/Goth music. Have you found other venues accepting of your style of music, or had it been difficult to move into bigger / atypical venues?
Ghosh: I think it was always surprising to me that our most receptive shows, especially early on, were at venues completely independent of Elysium. With that being said, the Elysium is a phenomenal venue that's professionally run and our city's little haven for the darker spectrum of music.

John (Whickham, the owner) has really done an amazing job in integrating us into his venue and never fails to make it feel like home every time we play there. We're fortunate- there really hasn't been a stage in town that hasn't been welcoming and accepting of what we do. It's one of the many reasons we're proud to be based out of Austin.

Gruber: I feel that we've been accepted greatly at other venues, such as Stubb's for instance. We usually have a great time there and people are always very appreciative of what we bring whenever we play there.


Claes: Your live show rivals that of major productions with lights and smoke effects. How important is that visual aspect to your show?
Ghosh: When you come to a show, it's of utmost importance that you feel removed from everything else and are part of a unique experience. We're all about utilizing technology and setting to present a show that will entertain you both visually and sonically.


Munos: People go to shows to be entertained. It is our job to make sure they feel like they got their monies worth, especially when wallets are tight. We spend a lot of time planning how our overall production should look, how the lights should be programmed, and positioned.

We have played several “punk rock shows” and are confident that our energy and song writing will be show enough. However, we feel our production value adds a dimension to our shows that you can't get anywhere else and have allowed us to make a name for ourselves.


Gruber: I've always been a fan of bands that put on large productions. Not just over the top, ornamental productions, but productions that enable the audience to take part and experience a whole different side of the music that they may not understand if seen in a typical rock-show set-up.

It's a necessary addition to create a specific meaning and purpose to our songs. I've also always kept this in mind: if I was a fan of Art Vs. Industry, what would I want to see when I came out to a show?





Claes: You’ve got several shows coming up this month, including a Texas Rockfest date on March 16th. Tell me a little about Rockfest and how you ended up playing.
Ghosh: The Heart of Texas Rockfest is the premiere rock n' roll festival to attend during SXSW music week. It's a culmination of talent all over the world that comes together for three days a year with an annual attendance of 200,000. Adam (Brewer), the guy who runs the event, truly loves live music and supports it because he actually cares about it.

It's quite a selfless endeavor that he undertakes every year- putting together some of the strongest regional and national talent for a FREE out-door event during the most insane week of the year in Austin. When he invited us to be on-board this year, it was a no-brainer. This is our first time and we're putting together our most brutal set to date for the event.

Claes: You’re also playing a March 10th show for Vivogig. For those who don’t know, what is Vivogig?
Ghosh: Vivogig is an incredible ATX-based live music photography platform that lets fans capture and share pictures from live performances. It's a company run by two extremely talented people (Daniel Senyard and Tanner Moehle) who “get” Austin's live music culture and are all about transcending the live experience for audiences.

It's been exciting for me to see Vivogig become what it has over the past year, starting with great podcasts into this fully integrated content generation platform.

Be sure to check it out at vivogig.com and get the iPhone app in time for our show this week! We're beyond excited to be a part of their party at Swan Dive and have a specific set designed for the event. Knowing the professionalism behind the Vivogig team, everyone in attendance is bound to be a part of something very special.

Claes: Any other gigs coming up?
Ghosh: I'm extremely excited about playing Eye In The Sky's “Future Of Music” Showcase at Shiner's Saloon on March 17th. That's another very professionally run organization and Anthony (Erickson), the mastermind behind it all, has quite the reputation for throwing memorable events and parties.

We couldn't have dreamt up a more exciting way to conclude music week. People should check out their new site which highlights the upcoming show and offers some ear candy: eyeinthesky.org

Munos: We're playing the Naked and Famous after party at Stubb's on March 23rd which we are excited about. It'll be free entry and our first “headlining” show since January's free week.




Claes: Anything else to add?

Ghosh: Just a thank you to everyone that's been part of this two and a half year journey. It's an honor to consider Austin, Texas our home and be a part of a magazine that supports our incredible music community.

You've got several opportunities to see Art Versus Industry this month. And they all happen to be free shows, so you can spend your money on a t-shirt or perhaps an EP. The shows are: March 10 at Swan Dive (Free with RSVP on Do512), March 16 at 11:30p at Texas Rockfest Outdoor stage (7th and Neches), March 17 at Shiner's Saloon, and the Naked and Famous after party at 11:00p at Stubb's on March 23.

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. If you like what you read... please share. To visit Claes' homepage, go here - http://www.seanclaes.com/.

Monday, March 5, 2012

INstantHindsite - GIGANTOUR

GIGANTOUR - March 3, 2012
at ACL Live at the Moody Theater

Photos and Story by Sean Claes
Three Monsters of Hard Rock came through Austin, Texas on March 3, 2012 and set up shop at the Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater. Lacuna Coil, Volbeat and Megadeth entertained three stories of metalheads of all ages dressed in a sea of black shirts and smoke.


It was an awesome site for the place that hosted Gladys Knight just 24 hours earlier.

I've got to say, all three bands brought their A game. Maybe it was to make up for the fact that the legendary Motörhead, who was to play, had to cancel due to an illness in the band. But it's my suspicion that these bands bring it each and every night to the fans who eat it up like bacon on a Sunday morning.



LACUNA COIL
Italian Metal/Goth rockers Lacuna Coil was up first, playing the 6:45p set.


Cristina Scabbia

Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro

Marco Coti Zelati

Cristina Scabbia

Andrea Ferro

Lacuna Coil

Lacuna Coil SET LIST 3/3/12
Our Truth
Upsidedown
Fragile
Kill The Light
Trip The Darkness
Spellbound


VOLBEAT
Danish Rockabilly/Metal outfit came up second, and I've got to admit, I'd never heard them before. I was impressed as they more than held their own in present company. Of course, doing a little research, they've been around for a dozen years, and add to the fact that their "stand-in" guitarist (after their guitarist, Thomas Bredahl, parted ways with them) is Mercyful Fate's Hank Shermann. Awesome set and I'm kicking myself for not knowing their music before walking into the show.

Michael Poulsen

Hank Shermann

Shermann, Poulsen, and Kjølholm

Michael Poulsen

Anders Kjølholm


MEGADETH
Los Angeles' Megadeth confirmed their right to me the headliners of the evening and treated the crowd to their signature style of thrash metal, proving as long as you are good at what you do, you don't need to follow the latest trend, the Dave Mustane growl will suffice... as it has since 1983.

Megadeth

Dave Mustaine

Chris Broderick

David Ellefson

Dave Mustaine

Shawn Drover

Megadeth SET LIST 3/3/12
Intro (Shut Up, Be Happy)

Set The World Afire
Wake Up Dead
Hangar 18
Trust
Angry Again
In My Darkest Hour
She-Wolf
Public Enemy No. 1
Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)
A Tout Le Monde (with Cristina Scabbia)
Ashes In Your Mouth
Sweating Bullets
Head Crusher
Symphony of Destruction
Peace Sells
No Class (Motörhead cover)
Holy Wars…The Punishment Due
Silent Scorn