listening to: JJ72 - 'Take From Me'
Here are a few interviews I've just come across from an old website I had. They are old and thankfully, my writing has improved, but there are a few big names in there, so I thought I'd share my cringes.
listening to: Ash - 'A Life Less Ordinary'
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Hailed as saviours of rock and roll on the release of their debut record, BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB have kept the ante up with their second LP, ´´Take Them On, On Your Own´´. Una Mullally woke up bassist Peter Hayes in his London hotel room to chat about rebelion and rock ahead of their gig in Dublin´s Ambassador...
´´Ermm ugh fhurrgh ahhwgh´´. This is the sound a rockstar makes waking up. Which is what Peter Hayes was doing when confronted by a phonecall from the Event Guide. This is also what one third of the most celebrated rock band around sounded like for the next twenty minutes; mumbling mostly, occasionaly laughing uncontrolably and mainly making very little sense. Well, it was early in the morning (2PM).
Picking up from where The Stone Roses and Jesus and Mary Chain left off, BRMC injected an authenticity into rock when their epynomous LP came out. Their sound was instantly picked up on by the industry and the press and endorsed by most of their fellow musicians. So what did it feel like to be immediately touted as the commanders of `the new rock revolution´? “I take it seriously” mumbles Hayes, “we can only do our part. I don´t know if we spearheaded it. It takes more than one band and it takes fans of music.” Pausing awkwardly for a few moments, he adds, “hopefully we can be able to give a voice to people”.
Trying to write ´rock classics´ is usually a cliched experience, but BRMC manage to do it because for them, the rock comes from the heart and is without a doubt the essence of their material. Who´d of thought a song like ´Whatever Happened To My Rock and Roll?´ could be written with such authenticity and without a foundation of irony common to many so-called rock bands around at the moment. “I don´t care much for innovation”, declares Hayes, “I care about the spirit behind it”.
BRMC seemed to be obsessed with maintaining this authenticity of rock and roll. Like their music, they themselves constantly refer back to what has gone before them, “Rock and roll used to be pretty idealistic. In a way, it did everything. Rock has its enemy, but a lot of bands have lost sight of that.”
Despite their success, BRMC have turned away from the commercialism associated with today´s industry. Most recently, they turned down a six figure sum for a TV commercial. Were they trying to make a specific statement? “Yeah...I´m not sure what the statement was. It´s pretty easy to do ads, then everyone goes crazy for one song and your get albums sold”. Bohemian like who?, “well, we try to make it on our own”.
This self-sufficiant attitude extends all the way to the studio, where BRMC take care of production and engineering themselves, “it´s not really about independence, but if we do it all on our own, it feels a bit more honest in a way. It gives people more to hold onto than if it was done by somebody else”.
In Hayes´ rock opinion, a lot of bands have sold out when it comes to maintaining the rebelion that was once the centre of rock and roll, “It used to be ´us´ and ´them´ and I think that´s healthy. Now it´s ‘ok’ to do ads”. This is where, Hayes just goes a wee bit weird, “Republican/Democrat, Protestant/Catholic, all those lines are being blurred to make everybody happy and watered down”
This defiant attitude comes across more than ever on ´Generation´, a track on their current LP. Where The Who endorsed their peers, BRMC are rejecting theres, “we´re asking questions, ´where the fuck are we?´ Is it that generation they´re calling us? Do we love all this music being shoved down our throats? Is that really true? I don´t think so.” Not fans of Britney then, “We´re innundated with pop that doesn´t have a lot of purpose it´s the same crap over and over again. The American public is not given much variety. As far as I´m concerned, that´s the government controling it. If you control the art, you control the people”.
Whatever about their gripes and strange, hungover rockstar mumbles, live, BRMC continue to hit the g-spot of rock over and over again. Authentic, weird and pissed off - in other words, what rock and roll is all about.
The Fiery Furnaces
Meet The Fiery Furnaces, a ‘genuine’ brother/sister duo clocking up critical acclaim everywhere for their new LP, ‘Gallowsbird’s Bark’ released late last year on Rough Trade Records. One half of the band, Matt Friedberger got up extra early to chat to Úna Mullally about Franz Ferdinand, driving across the US and that unique brother/sister relationship.
Matt Friedberger is sitting in room 217 in a Texan hotel consoling his sister, Eleanor, who’s too sick to do the interview. They’re tired - and so they should be, as they’re just nearing the end of one mighty ‘road trip’. “It’s just me and Eleanor and our buddy who plays drums driving a van all over the US. We’ve no rock and roll tour bus or anything like that. But when we get to the UK, it’s going to be complete luxury coz there will be people helping us drive”. This really is DIY stuff, and that’s how The Fiery Furnaces have got so far, well that and a wee bit of luck.
“We’re very, very lucky, the way it’s turned out”. Matt is referring to their association with Rough Trade, who released their demo as an album, almost as soon as the siblings had posted it off, “we had to come up with the money to record our demo, so we borrowed money and did 16 tracks. I mean we were really lazy about it. A friend told me Rough Trade were looking for some new bands, so we just posted it off and, well, yeah, we’re lucky”.
It’s not all luck though, there’s how the music sounds as well, “um, a mix of 50’s washboard blues and tambourines of bad 60’s pop and third rate Tears For Fears stuff I guess”. Along with that, The Fiery Furnaces possess an eccentricity that would put The White Stripes to shame, “to be eccentric is a necessity. We need to do that because we don’t have a ‘rock and roll message’. So many other records are just dull, so we try to be playful”.
Matt had been in more bands than he’d care to mention before finally forming one with his sister (“I was in loads of bad bands with lots of bad experiences”). He was living in New York when Eleanor returned to the Big Apple after travelling around Europe. She brought back with her, a whole range of travel log lyrics she had written and the seeds of The Fiery Furnaces were sown, “when we were younger, I prompted her to play” explains Matt, “and then as I got older, she encouraged me, she’s been keen and supportive. This is her first band, so it’s still fresh for her”.
I sense a good deal of brotherly love… “well, of course we drive each other crazy. But you expect that. At least in a band with your sister you know that’s going to happen, which is not as bad as fighting when you’re in a band with friends or just other people”.
The Fiery Furnaces first taste of European touring came when they supported Hot Hot Heat (I’m not joking). Franz Ferdinand completed the bill. “We were playing in front of a bunch of 16-year-olds who were just staring at us it was really funny. And we shared a tour bus with Franz Ferdinand, which was pretty unpleasant – cramped and smelly”. Matt then goes on an amusing tangent of anecdotes involving the tour, “I mean, there’s a lot of stuff that I remember that they (Franz Ferdinand) wouldn’t want me to say (giggles). But, what was really funny was, every night, Steve from Hot Hot Heat would get up to sing ‘Take Me Out’ with Franz Ferdinand, and he thought it was great, but Franz Ferdinand didn’t. They were never very pleased with that”.
Gossiping about that tour left aside, Matt talks about their own gigs some more, “I mean we’re just lucky to play music for people. People are coming and not booing. They’re not throwing things at us, which is good. I still can’t believe people take time out of their schedules to come see us, I really appreciate that”.
So, The Fiery Furnaces, they’re not The White Stripes, their sound is mental, but great, and if you want some good gossip on Franz Ferdinand, you know where to go.
TAKING THE RAP What do you get when you combine the toughness of 50Cent, the wit of Eminem, the flow of Jay-Z and then showcase it all on hip-hop’s most innovative label, Def Juz? His name is C-Rayz Walz and he rapped his way through an interview with Úna Mullally, proving his skills as one of the finest emcees around.
UM: Hi this is Úna from the Event Guide, I’m calling from Dublin…
CW: Yo I’m doubling too. UM: Um, are you ready to do the interview now?
CW: I’m so up/I’m so ready/Foot’s on my chest makes my breath so heavy.
UM: How are the shows going?
CW: I stay doin’ shows/I’m the type of cat that go and fill/If I’m on the grill with skill/Who you know that the show better?/My flow vendetta is health/I’ve got a show with atmosphere on February the 12th/I wish you was here coz I would definitely invite you/you’d come to the front row and I’d light you.
UM: So that’s good then?
CW: Sound good/I got a good ten/From the hood then/But I got skills that makes the wood bend.
UM: Have you done any of the overseas dates yet?
CW: I only went to Europe for just like a little bit/And I smashed it/I think it was with Fat Milk-fluid/My man Bo reppin’ that/I came through with the weapon locked under the hat/You know the flame that’s insane in the core of my brain?
UM: How do the audiences compare to those in the States?
CW: Well the States is a typical situation – it’s real rude/We don’t appreciate music here like we don’t appreciate food/That we waste and abuse doin’ things we use/But when I go over places, it’s like, so cool/Coz they show respect like no neglect.
UM: How did you get involved with Def Jux?
CW: With Def Jux I’m keeping my rap style healthy/Brother to that cat, El-P/I was on Cannibal Ox record, it was first for years/And El started in the same studio, the same place we were at/That’s where El started doin’ his tracks/When he had music without words, and I was spittin’ that fire/And I had most cats callin’ me solid/Said, I want you to spearhead the movement/I said, no doubt, why not?/Sign the dots/So here I am, spittin’ is slim/Doin’ the interview on the phone with my female friend from Dublin.
UM: You were meant to sign with Sony and Def Jam. What happened?
CW: Oh yeah man, but they blew up the towers/The World Trade Centre has been and gone/And the label wasn’t interested in even the dopest song/They say, ‘we can’t hire you because it’s scary/We’re goin’ through a fight with Mariah Carey’/I’m like, ‘What up Tommy Matola?’/So Def Jam died, and Sony was denied/So I had to go back to the street life/And I was so caught up like Mariah on that deal/My hustling did me wrong – I did 6 months fo’ real/And still, I aint drop nothin’. But then every other month, I dropped a single. I said I need Def Jux.
UM: How do you feel about your album, Ravipops, now that it has been out a while?
CW: I think Ravipops is the ultimate testament/The one where I was most able to experiment/It’s who I am from a hip-hop point of view/It’s crazy, in fact/I’m right here doing an interview and I’m on track.
(At this point, C-Rayz disappears to the sounds of what seems like a large-ish party in the background. Bear in mind that it’s 11am New York time. He returns and apologises, gives his reasons, and his rapping skills deteriorate slightly for the rest of the interview. )
UM: What would you be doing if you weren’t an MC?
CW: To be real, I’d be right downtown with a gat.
UM: Who do you look up to as emcees?
CW: The real artists, all the cats like Bizmark-E.
UM: What can the Irish fans expect from the show?
CW: The Irish fans expect and respect the show and I’m feelin’ that. We’ll kill it. It’ll be like the whole IRA army is there. I’m about to go thirty songs. I’ll be called marathon man. Reason. Hitting them with the rhyme right.
Sean Daley, aka Slug, one dimension of the powerful and respected underground hip-hop collective ATMOSPHERE, took time out to chat to Úna Mullally…
Una: Minneapolis is hardly a stronghold of hip-hop, but how did your hometown influence you as an artist?
Slug: In a few different ways. First of all the fact that it was not the Mecca of hip-hop. In a sense I think makes a lot of the kids that are trying to do this a little bit harder ‘cause they know they’ve already got strengths against them just where they are based geographically. Secondly, the winters we get here – I dunno what kind of winters you guys get – there’s six feet of snow. It’s super cold, and so you end up spending a lot of time in your house. There’s not much to do, and if you’re an artist, that’s good for you.
Una: You once said you had ‘a natural disdain for the universe’, do you really feel like that?
Slug: I was probably just really stoned that day when I did that interview! ‘A natural disdain for the universe’ – maybe I was just in a bad mood. Maybe honestly I do have a natural disdain…are you sure I said that? What a weird fuckin’ thing to say! I guess, uh, I’m not mad a the universe today, but it’s still early here, so who knows what’ll happen.
Una: Was it a conscious decision to be seen as an ‘anti-gangsta’ type of artist?
Slug: I don’t think I’ve ever made a conscious decision in my life. I think that everything is pretty much freestyle and I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m just playing my way, there’s no strategy. I have common sense, but other than that, I can’t say it was a conscious decision. I just kind of watch the chips fall and try and pick ‘em up afterwards.
Una: What do you think of the state of mainstream hip-hop, a lot of more underground artists are pretty cynical about it?
Slug: I mean, I’m not cynical of it at all. I have an understanding. Maybe I’m a little older than your average underground artist, I’m not sure. But I feel like having watched where this music has gone for the last 20 years, I’m not surprised that this is the direction it went. Let’s face it, America itself has got this fascination with drugs and guns and sex, period. And so, you can see that come across in all types of facets of its culture and its arts, whether it be in movies, music or even books for that matter. Right now, rap is probably the dominant music genre in America, especially with children. I guess if this was all still something not many people knew about, then there wouldn’t be an issue because nobody would know that there was tonnes of guns because it’s not on TV. Ten, sixteen years ago, there was guns in rap, it’s just that nobody really cared because the powers that be had no idea what was goin’ on. Now the first people to complain are the other members of the culture. You got underground rap kids complaining about what mainstream rap is doing. Personally, I’m not mad with what mainstream rap is doing. I am mad with what American culture is doing. Mainstream rap, I believe, is following right along those lines, and that’s too bad, but I can’t be mad at them. If you never taught a child how to read, then you can’t really get pissed off that he didn’t stop at the stop sign.
Una: Four albums down the line, do you feel you’ve achieved a lot of the things you set out to do?
Slug: I think I’ve still got a lot to achieve. Once in a while I can reflect, but the bottom line is, I’m still hungry to do more. I’m not sure yet what that is but, I can continue making music which is probably what I’ll do out of nature. Shit man, I’m like everybody else, I don’t think I’ve discovered what I’m here for yet.
listening to: Sleater Kinney - 'The Fox'