I am incredibly qualified to write this piece because horrible things happen to me at concerts: at Summerfest someone physically knocked me down onto the ground when I was waiting in line for food; at Vampire Weekend this creepy couple sat down in my sister and brother-in-law’s seats while they went to the bathroom and I had to yell at these people for two minutes until they left; at Arctic Monkeys I was ran over by a 6 foot something inch guy while he was rushing the stage. As a result, the most aggressive side of my personality comes out at concerts.
As a general rule, you do not go to concerts to make friends. It’s weird, because you would think that so many people in a small space all with one thing in common would facilitate beautiful friendships but it doesn’t really work that way. Even if you meet a few cool people, most people are the incarnation of everything you hate. Here’s a condensed yet comprehensive list of what I’m talking about:
The “Excuse Me, Sorry” People: These are the assholes that squeeze in between groups of people to try to get in the front of the crowd, even though they got there an hour later than everyone else and there’s literally no space for them to move forward yet they still somehow feel entitled to the front row. Usually it’s high school girls that do this while giggling but every once in awhile it will be a couple of 30 year old guys that then commence to befriend the 15 year olds around them. The bottom line is that if you are this kind of person, you are selfish and stupid and I hate you.
The High School Couples: Look I get that you really love each other but why do you have to make out in a crowd of hundreds of people and right in front of me? Dear God.
The Club Dancing People: These are the people who are confused about the difference between concert-going and clubbing. At a concert, general bobbing and swaying is acceptable, and just going with the vibe of the song. Club Dancing People will jump up and down with their hand above their head, or move around more than they should with their hand at their ear like a DJ spinnin a track. This is also annoying because you are in way closer proximity to other people at a concert than at a club so you really should not be doing this. Especially when it’s a Hozier concert. I guarantee you will never see a DJ spinnin a Hozier track at a club.
The Incessant Snapchatters: This doesn’t actually affect me but I don’t really get why it’s necessary to take that many 10 second videos of poor quality. Also when you zoom in that much you can’t even see what you’re looking at.
The Tall People: These are people that should just make the decision to stand in the back because no matter where they are, they will see what’s going on. Some day I will open my own concert venue that arranges where everyone is standing based on height.
To conclude my dissertation I would like to say that although all of these people (and combinations of these people) inevitably surround me at concerts, I still come away feeling like I have just seen the best show ever and go through the next week in a sort of daze and listen to the music from the show nonstop. Even though it would be kind of great if everyone stayed still and sat down and didn’t say a word, it’s cool that the energy from the crowd can change the energy from the performer – and they give you a great show and a 4-song encore. So I will live out my love-hate relationship with live shows and maybe invest in stilts or a stool or something.
Also listen to this Tiny Desk Concert it’s great and a great example of how amazing Hozier is live (I’m in that daze I talked about).
Hey folks, just a reminder that our second-annual Radio for Rwanda radiathon with GlobeMed is this Sunday, May 25th, from noon to midnight!
Last year we raised an incredible $3,333 dollars, and we hope to at least double it this year! There will be more guests, more prizes and giveaways, and hopefully less of Peter’s voice being lost…or maybe more?
Join by tuning in for any of the twelve hours, donating online, or stopping down to the station!!
My luck came close to running out last week as my best friend and I struggled with finding proper transportation and therefore nearly had to sell our tickets – two tickets I had spent $80 on so that my best friend had a great Christmas present instead of Swedish Fish and nail polish – to a show I, personally, had been looking forward to ever since it was announced: Arctic Monkeys at The Rave. Thankfully, everything fell into place and my Friday the 13th turned out to be pretty freakin’ awesome.
Arriving to The Rave at a little after 5, we waited in line for an hour and enjoyed the Moon Taxi pre-show, gazing up at the lit stage that held a man with a slight resemblance to Kurt Cobain…who I may have tweeted about…which the band may have seen. And favorited.
Twitter famous, ya’ll.
Once doors to the Eagles Ballroom had opened, the rush inside began. The line weaved through lobbies and stairwells and angry (bitter? jealous?) Rave employees until, finally, we were in. This was my first time in the Eagles Ballroom specifically, despite many past trips to The Rave itself. Needless to say, I was pretty blown away by the room. It was both extremely large and very beautiful. In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a handy dandy photo for some perspective:
It’s pretty fisheye’d (excuse my lack of proper terminology and phrasing), but it’s something visual. From my Google image search heart to yours.
After waiting for about three hours (one of the bands were late and threw off the whole set by an hour, but it was well worth the wait), we were finally treated to the first opening act: NONONO. Upon entering the venue, I had no idea who this band was, but they’re super catchy and worth checking out; the chorus of ‘Pumpin’ Blood’ may be somewhat recognizable due to a commercial for Sparkling Ice. I will say that I prefer this Swedish dance-pop live compared to the tracked versions of their work, but it’s decent nonetheless and you’ll enjoy it if you like unique vocals mixed in with lots of synth and whistles. Live, the vocals actually immediately reminded me of Swedish rock band The Sounds, who I enjoy immensely. NONONO lead singer Stina’s voice is deeper and more passionate during her live performances and the band brings along some good, contagious energy.
After a set that seems to be a collection of…well, all of their work since they only have one EP out, NONONO left the stage to the second opener: Foals. Hailing from the UK just like the Arctic Monkeys, Foals has apparently won some really awesome award for “Best Live Act” as of this year and were nominated for “Best Act In The World Today” as well. When the show’s announcer shared this with us, the smartass inside me initially thought “They’re either going to be incredible or they’re going to be disappointing thanks to the high expectations this radio personality/concert host just gave us.” Never again will I let myself have the doubts I did that night. WHAT. A. SHOW. They were insane. With a guitar intro nearly parallel to the likes of psychadelic rock bands of the past, Foals put on one of the most energetic and fantastic shows I’ve ever seen. While hits like ‘My Number’ come off as retro disco-pop on the tracks rather than intense indie-rock, I can assure you they are a blast to hear live. Complete with a crazy light show, crowd surfing by lead singer Andrew, and amazing guitar-solos, the show was absolutely paralyzing. I would present you with a selfie of my dropped jaw and un-interrupted stare that lasted the whole set, but I didn’t take one because I was busy experiencing the barely-explainable wonder that was happening in front of my very eyes.
That hour of great intensity passed, and at long last I was about to see Alex Turner (and Alex Turner’s hair, which is so distinct that it is often described as a separate member of the band) put on the moves and serenade me (recklessly? I’m sorry, I had to) as the red lights and constant smokiness gave off a magnificent silhouette of the band. Starting the night off sultry and slow, ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ echoed throughout the ballroom as the screams bounced off the curved ceiling. Following up with the ever-energetic ‘Brianstorm’ was the perfect choice, as the formerly mentioned slower show-starting hit suddenly melted into something fast-paced and wild. By wild, not only do I mean the brilliant vocal effects and guitar solos, but also the crowd, who had then chosen to send waves upon violent waves of somehow-synched pushes towards the front of the room, trapping everyone’s ankles and nearly causing us all to kiss the concrete on multiple occasions. Keeping the energy going with the slams of chords (a weird description yet the only accurate one I can come up with) during the scream-inducing ‘Dancing Shoes’, AM proved that they knew just how to pace the entire show perfectly. ‘Dancing Shoes’ was followed up by “Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’, ‘Old Yellow Bricks’, ‘Crying Lightning’, ‘Snap Out Of It’, ‘Reckless Serenade’, ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’, ‘Arabella’, and ‘Pretty Visitors’ before Turner decided to let everyone know that he was indeed focused on the lovely ladies in the audience. Loudly repeating “How are the LADIES doin’ tonight, Milwaukee?!” before declaring that the next song was for us specifically (‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’, naturally), the energy jumped yet again on the scale from sexy to party. The spirit of Young Taylor went absolutely insane, let me tell you. I heard that song when it first came out seven or so years ago, and it’s the reason I decided to check out the rest of their work a few months ago. As you can tell, I’m not exactly a “lifetime fan”, but simply a ‘fan of their beginning turned fan of everything they’ve ever done, ever’. As the main set ended with ‘Knee Socks’, ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’, and ‘505’, the couples standing directly in front of me were, uh, mingling so hard that they were close to creating life. That’s what these jams do to people, you know? I mean, what are boundaries anyway? I sure don’t mind you brushing against me as you try to do everything except keep it in your pants. However, all was forgiven as I reminded myself I was 100 feet away from such incredible musicians who returned two minutes later for an encore; “I’ve only got time for ‘One For The Road’, Milwaukee!”, Alex yelled, going right into another fantastic hit off their latest album, AM. Immediately after, he goes “I’ve only got one question for you.” and ended the night with a powerful performance of “R U Mine?”, making me wish for the millionth time that night that I could gaze into his eyes and say “Why, yes, Alex Turner. I am yours. Yes. Play with my hair and sing me to sleep, would you?”
Ultimately, it was one of the best shows I’ve been to. Ever. Don’t let the live performances on internet-land fool you, because this show greatly surpassed any of the video representations I looked into beforehand. The band was spot on, the vocals were spot on, the visuals were…well…you know…they were sort of like this:
This will be the first full week of shows for the school year! The board is ready, the DJs are educated and acquainted, the schedule is all figured out (to be officially posted with descriptions soon!) and the new CDs are filing in.
(click through the picture twice for a large, readable version)
Yep, it’s pretty much official, Marnie Stern is awesome, and she has a freakin’ cute dog. Friday night’s concert was a success! Roomrunner and Marnie Stern played a great show, we got to hang out with all of them, talking everything from crazy tour adventures to life after college. Here is some documentation from the event (excuse my poor photography skills, I really suck at taking concert photos):
Thanks again to everyone who came out and showed their support despite all the other events happening on campus. As always, here at WLFM we love to see people dancing rather than sitting at the boring War Requiem. Just kidding!! Also, if you did happen to miss the show because of the LSO concert, I will be posting vids on Facebook shortly!
Yeah that’s right- On Friday April 19th at 9 pm pm (after the orchestra and other con shenanigans are over) you should all head over to the campus center for MARNIE STERN live with opener Room Runner.
If you don’t know (and shame on you if you don’t), Marnie Stern is the genius creator of albums such as In Advance of the Broken Arm and This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That, to name a few. Pitchfork said her newest album, The Chronicles of Marnia is an exploration of “the moment when physical intensity turns into an almost meditative state.” You can read the full review here.
Marnie’s current tour is taking her all over the US, including SXSW, a festival often-frequented by WLFM members, and then eventually, to us at Lawrence! You can see a preview of what to expect here.
You also might be familiar with Marnie because of her collaboration with insane percussionist Zach Hill from Hella and more recently Death Grips.
So anyways, your obvious choice of activity for Friday April 19th at 9 pm in the Esch-Hurvis room of the Campus Center is Marnie Stern, LIVE, IN PERSON, AT LAWRENCE. BE THERE!!!!
Hailing from the southeastern WI/IL border, Day Dreamer is something special. With clever, relatable lyrics and a strong, unique sound to match, this band has a lot to offer. The passion in their work is undeniable, and if you don’t believe me you can watch this:
Their EP is up for download on their bandcamp and they also have a music video for what is my personal favorite song they’ve recorded thus far, Violet. If you like indie, emo, punk rock, or anything in between, you should give this band a chance. They’re going places for sure, and I’m not just talking about on tour.
The four talented individuals who make up this blend of musical fusion are Chris Sorenson, Brandon Boozer, Zack DiPersio, and Tyler Koutny. I was able to ask three of the four some questions about their music, past experiences, and their “Best Wishes” for where this experience takes them.
1. What are the first three adjectives or words that come to mind when thinking about Day Dreamer? Chris: Hm, punk rock, punk rock, and most importantly punk rock. Brandon: Emotion, honesty, and drive. Zack: I would say the same thing as Brandon. Emotion, honesty, and drive.
2. How have you learned from previous musical experiences, and what do you hope to accomplish with this one? Chris: I have learned from playing music in local bands for my entire teenage life that you really need to stop caring what people think of your music. Once you stop trying to emulate another’s voice, writing style, what have you, you really start to feel fulfilled in writing your music and that really is the point of all of this, isn’t it? So yeah, I hope to accomplish fulfillment through our music and I guess in the most vague sense, I really hope that this band acts as a catalyst to travel. Brandon: I was in a pop punk band early on in high school, and we got fairly big in the local scene, but I never felt too creative. It was all really just for fun. Along with Day Dreamer, I am in a hardcore band called Loose Ends. With these bands I am working not only towards a better understanding of my instrument and my voice (which still needs much work), but also [towards] gaining a better understanding of myself, my words, and my thoughts. Zack: I learned from doing solo acoustic stuff and watching other bands perform. I was [also] in another band with Chris and Brandon, Get Well Cards, as the drummer but I didn’t find myself energetic. So what I wish to accomplish in Day Dreamer is to be able to perform with enthusiasm and express the way I feel about our music.
3. What’s your favorite thing about Day Dreamer? Chris: My favorite thing about Day Dreamer has got to be the fact that I thoroughly enjoy the writing process as opposed to other bands that I have been apart of. Brandon: I think my favorite part about Day Dreamer is probably the same as Chris’. We all work very well together. Zack: I can say so many things about how much I love being in this band, but my two favorite things are everybody has such a deep appreciation for the music, not just our own, and also how well we work together. I mean, there’s nothing better than working with your good friends.
4. What is something you’ve done or learned as an artist that you’re proud of? Chris: I have learned as an artist that to write good music, you must appreciate every single type of music no matter what your personal opinion on the genre or sound may be. You’ve got to appreciate that not everybody listens to the same thing and so you have to meet people halfway. I will admit when a band is good even if I don’t enjoy their music. You’ve got to learn to grow up and appreciate all forms of art so that you can truly grasp the concept of making your own. Brandon: I have gotten a lot better at my instrument than I was when I first actually started playing guitar. The first band I played guitar in was called Get Well Cards and honestly, I was a shitty guitar player. To let your mind expand and to let your abilities expand, you do have to take a step back and stop saying “This band sucks.” In most cases, the band doesn’t suck. You just need to take it for what it is and appreciate it. My musical taste has widened way more than I ever thought it would. Zack: I have learned that you have to be open minded [with] what you listen to and appreciate all types of music. it helped me become a better artist and a better songwriter.
5. What is something you would like to become better at individually? Chris: I would like to get better at pacing myself while singing. Not too interesting of an answer, I know. Brandon: I want to learn how to play all different styles of music, mostly old blues guitar. Blues rules. Zack: What I would like to become better at is my stage presence. I am a very shy guy and just need to be able to jump the gun.
6. What would be your dream venue to play in and tour to be a part of? Venue: Chris: Honestly, it would be insane to play a packed show at the Metro in Chicago. Brandon: Realistically right now, I would love to play a show at the Subterranean in Chicago. Playing a sold out show at like, the Bradley Center or something would be absolutely insane, but I’m not sure the fan base for this type of music will ever get that huge. Hahaha. Zack: I would love to play at the House of Blues. I just love it in there. To be able to play there would be amazing. Tour: Chris: It would absolutely rule to play shows with Daylight, Saves The Day, and my all-time favorite, Brand New. Brandon: Touring with bands like Daylight, Tigers Jaw, Seahaven, Title Fight, or Balance & Composure would be damn wild. Zack: I would love to tour with Tigers Jaw and Daylight; that would be amazing.
7. What inspires you? Chris: When I find myself submerged in a great album, I get a feeling that nothing else can ever compare to. When I see a band that I love live, that feeling is multiplied. I am inspired by my wish to provide that feeling to other people as it has so graciously been gifted to me. Brandon: I just want to make music that I can listen to and get the same feeling that I get when listening to some of my favorite bands, and if I can do that for someone else, that is great. But honestly, I think it may be more for myself than anyone else. I just want something that I can say I did a good job on and that I can show my parents and have them know that their support in my musical endeavors over the years hasn’t been wasted. Zack: I’m inspired by music in general [as well as] writing it. Just being able to play is something I want to do for the rest of my life. Having people listen to the music that we have is just amazing. As a band I can say that it inspires us to write even more, even better songs than we have now. I couldn’t be happier.
Tera Melos, one of my all-time favorite bands, will soon be releasing their 3rd-ish full-length album, X’ed Out on April 16. Guitarist and vocalist Nick Reinhart took the time to answer some occasionally music-related questions.
AG: Say something new and interesting about Disco Stu.
NR: i can’t honestly think of one interesting thing to say about Disco Stu, and i think the whole band feels that way. actually, i guess the truly interesting thing about him is how anyone thinks he’s funny, or how the writers/creators of the show could possibly think he’s remotely as great as every other character on the show. i went and referenced a couple disco stu vids on youtube just now to make absolutely sure that this is how i felt. confirmed. he just randomly walks into a scene, does a butt wiggle, then says “disco stu.” he’s a dud, not a stud.
AG: What is the composition process like for the band? Is it largely one or two people writing material themselves and then bringing it to the rest of the group, or is it a collaborative jamming process from the start, or what? Has it changed over the years, in relation to styles/formats of the band/all that? I’m assuming material for the demo, for example, was written fairly differently than how Patagonian Rats was written, which is different from how X’ed Out was written.
NR: the genesis of a song generally starts in my bedroom, just playing guitar. i’ll start to hear some interesting things, figure out ways to transition a couple of ideas, come up with a few variations, roughly paste it all together and then record it. when we first started we would “jam” in the practice spot. maybe someone would come up with an idea on the spot, or bring a few solid guitar or drum parts in, then we would spend up to months refining things (well, as refined as we could physically get them, which sometimes wasn’t very much so, haha). we don’t really do that anymore.
i’ve found that i write/discover my favorite material after playing by myself for long periods of time. by the time nate or john even hear one second of guitar demos, i’ve already put hours and hours into making it not sound like garbage. whereas when you’re all together in a room playing you’re basically throwing piles and piles of shit against a wall and hoping that something will stick. it gets frustrating when you drive 40 miles to the practice spot for 4 days a week and don’t see tangible results. then multiply that by months and months. so i come up with ideas, bedroom style, then send out these rough outlines and everyone can play to them on their own time and throw as much shit at the wall as they see fit,.then we can get together and modify everything we’ve worked on, individually, and get it sounding like a tera melos song.
i think those guys have a really good level of trust in me and the musical stuff i bring to table. i can’t think of too many times where either john or nate have said, “yea, uhhh that’s really not that good.” it’s likely because i’m my own biggest critic and had already told myself, “jesus, that sounds awful, back to the drawing board” many times before i’ve emailed any songs.
AG: I’m gonna quote back to you something that has been quoted back to you before, hopefully in a new context: “this is the first fully realized, focused record we have made. everything sounds intentional and the way we wanted it to sound. there are no cringe moments for us. in a lot of ways we look at it like it’s our first album. it is 100% honest and not catered towards anyone. it’s tricky making a record that way, it’s even trickier structuring a band that way.” That was about Patagonian Rats, your last record. How does X’ed Out feel to the band? Now that you’ve already made the album you’ve been wanting to make for a long time, what new feelings have been motivating the creation of this new album?
NR: well in addition to patagonian rats being the record that we’d wanted to make for a long time, it was also the way we wanted to make a record for a long time. so we applied the same process to this album. it’s probably just a matter of knowing what we want and choosing the right paths to accomplish that. it took us a long time to get to this point where we’re happy with how we sound and perform. everyone that’s been in the band made it their top priority and focus. it took years of hammering out ideas and playing nearly 1,000 shows to get this to where we can fall asleep at night without obsessing over how to make everything fit. i think we’re all really happy with our current state.
AG: You’re big pop music fans. Do you consider your music essentially similar in nature to the more straight-ahead pop stuff out there? Do you consider the more “straight ahead” music you listen to “exceptional,” in any stylistic way? What, if anything, unites Tera Melos and Madonna?
NR: hm, i mean we just like all types of music. i don’t think straight forward music is in any way more exceptional. not at all. it’s all just personal preference. i think when we were younger and discovered non “straight ahead” music it was really fascinating and new and fresh. now i don’t get the same exclusive rush listening to it that i did when i was 22. now i can get that rush from lots of different types of sounds. it’s funny you mention madonna, because i can get goose bumps listening to old madonna songs. the production, the melodies, the vocals etc. in fact, just yesterday i was playing drums along to a madonna playlist on my ipod.
i think it’s just a musical growth thing. like when you’re young and discover punk music- it’s this big revelation and takes over your mind. then we came across more technical, outside the box music and it was the same feeling. now that we’re adults and have further developed our brains we can appreciate all types of music and not feel limited.
AG: Where is that tour documentary, people? Those are such great trailers that have been kicking around for a while now.
the truth is that the documentary was finished, we saw it and weren’t happy with it. it was no one’s fault, it just didn’t have the right content for what we were hoping for. we don’t feel comfortable releasing something that we don’t stand by 100%. so we brought another friend along for a few more tours to gather more footage to eventually put something together that we were all stoked on. it will definitely get finished. as a side note, i literally- LITERALLY -as i was writing that last sentence just got a text message from our friend spencer at Sargent House saying they just got the hard drive with all the tour footage and want to get together to start re-editing. so that’s good news.
we’re really glad that people are that interested in our band to want to see the doc finished. even though we try to be really interactive with people and work towards dismantling the “wall” between fan and artist, i think a lot of people want to get further inside to see how it all comes together. i have no idea what the vibe will be- could be a fugazi “instrument” type thing or a pantera “home videos” kind of movie. we’ll see.
AG: I think I noticed people stopped describing you guys as “jazz,” once Vince left the band and once John joined. It’s always been a misnomer anyway, but can you relate to that descriptive shift? How do you feel about how you’ve been described, in general?
NR: well vince definitely came from a jazz background. our old guitar player actually met him in a jazz band class at a junior college. he had a very open, fluid approach to how he played drums in the band. when john had joined we were already heading in a bit of a different direction musically, one that jazzier drums might not be completely appropriate for. lucky for us john came from a punk background and brought a very different sound to the band. i think we initially got tagged with the jazz label because there were elements present for sure- weird timing, syncopation, ride cymbal twiddles and lots of 7th chords. i never really agreed with it, but it sounded cool. seems like people generally have a difficult time describing our music, which i think is a really good thing.
AG: What about improvisation live? On some old blog posts I remember you saying how much you liked it when bands change up their live sound, when they make mistakes, when surprising moments happen (yes, I remember those blog posts). It seems you consciously cater your live sound to that type of surprising experience. Is that about right? What motivates a very technical band like yours to take the risks involved in improvising every night?
NR: the improvisation is a result of a few things- wanting to have fun with songs and make them feel fresh to us, making mistakes and rolling with the punches and probably just a sever case of musical a.d.d. so for instance, if i had a photo of a dog and wanted to do 100 separate paintings of it, each one would be a little different. i’m sure after about ten very similar pup paintings i’d probably want to switch it up and make the dog’s eyes melting or something. naturally i’m sure there would be subtle differences in each one. then, because i’m not a super accurate, professionally skilled painter, i’d probably accidentally drip a fat blob of yellow paint onto the dog’s face. so i’d have to figure out some way to work around that. in the end, there would be 100 similar, yet fairly different paintings of a dog. that just seems natural to me. i don’t see why you’d do it any other way.
AG: Also, listening back on some of the bootleg recordings you posted on that old blog, it seems like you’ve been sitting on some material for a while – Kelly, specifically, which is titled “kelly, phone ya” Live From Atlas Clothing. Is it often that you’ll sit on material for a while, and wait for the right spot in an album to open up for it? Are we going to see some more “old” material popping up on X’ed Out?
NR: a lot of times there are just songs from the past that never got recorded, or didn’t come out the way we wanted, or that we just simply really liked and wanted to rerecord for fun. there’s a couple older pieces of material that pop up on this record. “melody nine” is a redone version of a song from our split with by the end of tonight. the original version was electronic based. we’ve been playing a live version of it for a couple years now. then the main riff for “sunburn” is one that i’ve used in a few songs that never really got a fair shot at being developed into a real part. i think i’d used that riff in 3 or 4 songs previously. that’s actually kind of neat. i not ashamed to admit that i’ve pirated my own guitar part, haha.
AG: Can you give us an interesting road anecdote? Something that characterizes Tera Melos’ interaction with audiences around the world?
NR: there’s this guy we know, he goes by “panda.” don’t know his real name. he lurks around the atlanta area. he’s this really far out, bizarre, awesome, critter dude that brings us bags and bags of random stuff everytime we come through town- broken guitar pedals, hats, tea, bags of pubic hair, cassette tapes, action figures, sidewalk chalk, video, furbies etc etc. you name it and he’s probably brought it to us. very odd. i think we have given him this music that’s very important to him and helps him out through life, so he just wants to give something back to us and contribute to our world. i know for a long time he didn’t know how to pronounce our name properly either. so that was funny. we’re misunderstood by even those that understand us the most. haha, deep.
AG: At a few points you had some somewhat eloquent things to say about pirating music. What are your current thoughts on this trend? Does a wide audience satisfy you more than money with which to scrape by? Or is music being widely distributed an investment on people showing up to shows later, or some other rationalizing logic? Is bandcamp solving the problem posed by music piracy?
NR: shoot i don’t really know. look, we want as many people to hear and enjoy our music as the universe will allow. but we’re also all pretty much 30 and would like this to be a sustainable source of income. so the question is where do we draw the line on how people hear/enjoy our music. if we’re playing a show that costs $10 and there are 5 people outside that don’t have $10, then without question we would want for them to be able to come in and watch us play. but then at what number of people without $10 do we say, “i don’t think so.” i mean, honestly, if there were 100 people that couldn’t afford the show, i’d want them all to come in for free or whatever they can afford. i think a lot of our fans know our vibe and that we’re not making fistfuls of cash playing in this band. if someone pirates a record then chances are they’re gonna buy a shirt. which i’m fine with. but actually, why not just buy the album and the shirt?? i don’t know, i get trapped thinking about this stuff. a solution to that particular situation would be- dude downloads record for free from a torrent, comes to the show, buys a shirt AND a vinyl, which comes with a download card anyways- then all is right in the world.
we also do the barter system- if someone can’t afford to pay for a show then they can bring us something cool and we’ll put them on our guest list. we’ve gotten cool music gear, razor scooters, video games, simpsons stuff and lots of other cool goodies that were probably just sitting around collecting dust in someone’s closet.
we just want lots of people to like what we’re doing and come to shows and help us afford to keep doing this. i don’t know how to make all of that fit. bandcamp definitely helps for sure. it puts the artist in control and let’s fans have a lot of access to music. buy music if you can, if you can’t- then take it, but you owe us one!
AG: How do you see yourself in the music world? Do you consider yourselves an active part of a very specific music scene (*cough* math rock *cough*), as much of the coverage of your band would like to portray? Or are you just a handful of dudes playing some weird music that happens to be similar to other handfuls of dudes playing some roughly similarly weird music?
NR: i’ve definitely given a lot of thought to our position in the music world, but i don’t think i ever come up with anything that satisfies me. i think it’s best for us to not think about that sort of stuff. we just create music that we enjoy and hopefully the rest of it all works out.
i know we’ve been pretty outspoken about the math rock thing and how we don’t prefer it. i think it’s mostly because we generally don’t really care for stuff that falls under that particular genre and most of it feels unrelatable to what we’re trying to accomplish. in 2001 we were all still in punk bands. fugazi had already started to shift some of our musical perceptions, but it was all still very much a “punk” context for us. then we discover bands like hella, dillinger escape plan and king crimson. those were all very big deals to us. once that switch is flipped there’s no really going back. then we start this new band. drummer shows us how to play in odd time signatures. everyone has fun. and that’s that. i do remember hearing the term math rock thrown around once or twice, but it was likely just in passing.
i guess it also seems like the current quality of math rock is definitely not what it was 10 years ago. it used to be a real musical subculture with deep roots, and now it’s just commonplace. feels like it’s been diluted, big time. when we saw bands like hella, the locust, botch or dillinger for the first time it was jaw dropping. like, shocking. it’s a bummer that the generation after us didn’t really get to witness such massive shifts in the music world like the ones we saw. i really don’t mean for that to sound pretentious. it just seems like the bar has been lowered for that kind of stuff. so maybe the internal problem i have with being labeled a math rock band has something to do with a fear of being a band playing under the “bar” that, for me, was set so high and blasted my mind open. we want to keep our band fresh and exciting. i still LOVE the idea of a community of bands that exist on the fringe and is working to move music forward. that’s what i want to be a part of.
AG: I’m now beginning to realize (being an oblivious east-coaster), that Tera Melos formed in a very interesting music scene. Can you wax poetic on your local scene of yesteryear? Are you considered the group that made it big from among them? What bands did you wish you were still playing shows with? How important was that scene to the band you are today?
NR: when we were younger nate and i were in punk bands that played around sacramento. there were some pretty crazy musical things happening (unbeknownst to us) up in grass valley/nevada city (about an hour north east of sacramento). bands like legs on earth (zach hill/spencer seim’s first band) were starting to play and freak people out. but it seemed pretty insulated and didn’t really trickle down into the sacramento punk scene. not that i remember at least. so in high school it was pretty much strictly punk and hardcore shows that we found ourselves hanging out at. at one point, in 2001, a friend of mine wanted to go see a band called chrime in choir. they were sort of this keyboard based, live electronic band. i think that’s how they were described to me. my friend told me they had this crazy drummer that could play drums like no one we’d seen before. i was really skeptical about that because there were a lot of great punk/hardcore drummers that we were really into. so we drove to a coffee shop in placerville (about 45 minutes outside sacramento) to see chrime in choir. turns out they had to cancel for some reason and instead a different band that shared the same drummer was going play. the band was hella (which would be zach and spencer’s second band after legs on earth). they played and just totally destroyed. from that point pretty much everyone in sacramento was shaken up. you’d even hear the crustiest of the punkers talking about these weird ripper guys from nevada city. there wasn’t really a local scene for that stuff yet. so hella played with punks bands, hip hop groups, hardcore bands etc. it was really trippy.
i don’t think we’d be the same band had we not come out of punk music. having that foundation was important in developing into an interesting band and how we allow it to breathe and exist. one of my all time favorite bands was this local band called diseptikons. they were a really fast hardcore punk/thrash band. they had this black flag/dri/early metallica vibe that was just paramount. incredible musicianship and great lyrics about the morals and ethics involved within the underground music scene. miss them for sure.
AG: Any parting words?
NR: “a noble spirit embiggens the smallest man” -jebediah springfield
Well spoken. Check out X’ed Out from Sargent House, out on April 16th. Preorder and listen to some tracks here: at Tera Melos’s bandcamp, and just generally scope them out on Facebook.