An interview with Velvet from LA before their show at Bottom of The Hill.
Emily: Vocals and guitar
Peter: Guitar and backup vocals
Steven: Bass and back up vocals
Q: How did the band start?
Emily: I had a solo project under my name, Emily Gold, and from there it started to evolve into something with me and my previous drummer. We played with different people and earlier this year we solidified the lineup.
Q: How would you describe the LA scene, is it very collaborative?
Emily: There’s a lot of crossover between bands. Everyone knows each other and goes between projects. It’s very fluid and friendly.
Q: What was production like for your two previous singles ‘Even if I tried’ and ‘How do I know’?
Emily: We’re now moving into a heavier rock sound from shoe gaze and dream pop.Those songs were recorded before this project and in this form we’ve been writing a lot of new material and we’re going to be going back and recording an EP.
Q: What is your writing process like as a group?
Ryan : Its pretty organic and easy. Emily and Peter bring in an idea into the room and we fill it out as a band.
Q: Do you share the same musical background?
Peter: The beauty of this band is that we all have radically different interests musically but there is a lot of crossover. It just comes out very naturally, the interests that we share.
Steven: When we play together its on a very good level, our differences add something interesting to the mix.
Q: What are the differences in musical backgrounds and taste?
Steven: A lot of rock bass players might not cite James Jamerson as an inspiration but he’s a big influence for me.
Ryan: I have a jazz background.
Peter: I have come from psych rock background, a lot of bands that I played with were in that realm. Even though there are differences, our similar interests naturally come out.
Q: What do you derive inspiration from lyrically?
Emily: I tend to write about interpersonal relationship more than anything celestial. My songs are more about my relationships with others and myself.
Q: Where are some of your dream venues in California?
Emily: The Filmore would be incredible for San Francisco. The Wilton and ACE are both great venues in LA.
Peter: I grew up in the Bay Area so as a young musician there’s a lot of music venues that I find really inspiring, Great American Music Hall, Bill Graham.
Q: Are there are any particular artists that you associate with San Francisco and LA?
Steven: The Dead for San Francisco.
Peter: Bands like Sly and Family Stone, The Tower of Power, Metallica.
Emily: A big influence for me is Queens of the Stone Age, even though they’re not from LA, Homme was from Joshua Tree . The sounds of the desert, they're really inspirational to me.
Peter: Buffalo Springfield, it was such a small blip of time because they weren’t together for that long, but it was a great moment.
Q: What does it feel like to be a young band in LA at this moment?
Emily: There’s a certain trap that LA bands fall into playing the same LA venues over and over again. At this point I see LA as the hub and we want to branch out beyond that. But there are also so many great musicians in LA that it really makes you challenge yourself. It’s a kind of incubator.
Steven: LA is intimidating musically because theres so much talent so that really makes you work hard.
Peter: Across the board for all different music scenes in LA everyone you’re playing with is so talented. There are so many talented people in LA, its absurd. Maybe in our music scene there is not so much competition but rather everyone is looking to each other to do better.
Ryan: You also form really good relationships with people and help each other.
Q: What is the sound for the new material?
Emily: It’s still evolving. We have so many influences and its good to be able to explore them all.
Peter: For example, Emily had this song this other day and I brought in my part and then we brought it to the rest of the band and it was fairly spontaneous, so we’re really lucky in that way.
An Interview with Le Couleur of Montreal during their tour of Europe.
Q: Le Couleur is curently on a Euro tour, how does playing in Europe compare to your native Canada?
A:It doesn’t change much except people from Europe are a bit more connoisseur about electronic-dance music. They have a better background so you have to be very good as an electronic-dancy project. Otherwise, europeans know how to receive. They are very welcoming and you feel they care about art and music - You eat and drink good, you always have a nice bed to sleep in. The total opposite of the United States...
Q: You recently played at Josephine in Paris, how does it feel to be back in Paris and what are some of your favorite venues in the city?
A: It’s good to be back. We try to play as much as possible (we have come every year for 5 years) cause Paris is a natural target for us. This show with Deerhoof 2 weeks ago was super fun but we always have good time. Especially last year at the Supersonic. It was kinda full house and we were headlining the night. People were dancing and singing along. We travel all around the world to achieve this goal!
Q:You recently released the single “Discolombo” with Lafayette, what was the inspiration behind this track?
A: It’s part of the conceptual album (P.O.P.). This song tells the story of an unfaithful couple going secretly and separately to this swinging event (kind of Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut). They can feel or smell each other but without seeing his partner cause they have masks. They do that because they’re getting old and jaded of their life.
The whole album talks about the concept of Pop Culture - where everything is quite ephemeral : Famousness, coolness. One day you're the flavour of the month and the other one nobody cares about you anymore. You’re lame!
Q:You’ve also recently released a series of remixes of the hit “Under Age” of your most recent album “P.O.P”, how did these collaborations happen?
A:We’ve released a bunch of remixes through the years. But we are really proud of this one since the roster has been carefully selected (Bleu toucan, French 79, Rocky and In Flagranti). We know all these bands and we love them. It’s cool to have our song remixed for dance floor!
Q: Are there other particular artists who you would like to collaborate with in future?
A: Sure! Collabs are always fun for us. Sadly Prince, Michael Jackson and Bowie are dead...
Q: What is the electronic/disco scene like in Quebec, and do you feel this group is better represented since the birth of the Lisbon Lux label?
A: The label has been so good for us (and the other way around - we’ve both grown together). They organize 2-3 showcases per year a little bit everywhere to promote this frenchy sound. Which is essential for the success of the band and the label. Montreal is still a bit shy about this scene - Compare to Berlin or Paris for instance - Even though there’s more and more electronic/dance stuff coming out. But we don’t care. We do whatever we have to do without thinking to please everyone.
Q:There are now more French artists forgoing English to writing in their mother tongue in the worlds of rock, electro and pop. Do you also see this trend in Quebec and do you feel it is an important time for French music?
A: Music and its language no longer has borders. Of course there is a saturation in the worldwide market but it’s also the beauty of this thing - You can reach everybody, everywhere, every time. There will be always an audience for good, original and sincere music
Our sound is in French cause it’s our mother tongue and it’s natural for us. We’re kinda proud to do that this way. It’s more original and it allows us to stand out. But we do also English. Spanish, Italian. We’ll probably do german or Vietnamese. We don’t care about language - As long as it sounds good!
Q: Is Le Couleur currently working on new material, and if so, can you share any hints as to what fans can expect?
A: We will finish the one year and a half tour of P.O.P. at the beginning of July. We’ll take a couples of weeks to tune up our new studio and we’ll start composing/recording in August.
We wanna try something new for the next record. We want to surprise everybody with a “new sound”. We’re approaching a different way to compose and record. We have a new studio with a bunch of new gear. We have 4 albums under our belt and we want to challenge ourself a bit more.
An interview with Dick Taylor of The Pretty Things at Paradiso.
Q: When was the last time you were in Amsterdam?
A: The last time we were at Paradiso, it was me and Phil (May). We came over because there was a bouncer here who died and we were his favourite band, so we played at the funeral. I hate to say it's a nice thing to do but I was glad we did it.
Q:Where are some other particularly memorable venues in Europe for you?
A: We’ve done a festival called Finkelbank three times now which is always good. We’ve especially liked playing in Berlin at the Quasimodo.
Q: This year you’ll be playing at the Isle of Wight Festival, what does that mean to you?
A: We played at the very first Isle of Wight festival and its great for me because I live on the Isle of Wight. On the same bill as us was Arthur Brown, still a good friend, and Jefferson Airplane.
It was really the start of something. The brothers who put it on, the Foulk brothers, went on to put on the festival of 1969 which had Bob Dylan and The Who and we played there too.The following year was the 1970 festival, one of the biggest ever at that point.
We’ve been asked to play “SF Sorrow” at Isle of Wight this year since its the 50th year anniversary.
Q: What else is coming up for you this year?
A: We’re probably going to wind down our touring but we have a big show on the 13th of December at Indigo in London with some guests.
Q: How is touring and writing with the new members?
A: Well they’re new for us! They joined over ten years ago. The rhythm section was sixteen when they joined. There's a very big age gap but we’re great friends and it's great to have that mixing of generations.
Q: The last album you released “The Sweet Pretty Things are in bed now (of course)” the new members contributed on writing for this record, was this a kind of rejuvenating factor for the group?
A: We don't really think in those terms. They're both amazing musicians. It's also become the norm for us, it was great when we were recording to have them contribute.
Although there is a generational gap, as I did it's not something we really think about. When you're playing music nothing else matters. There’s only one reason to play music and that's to have fun doing it, we’re not doing it for money.
Q:Do you think that that sentiment is still alive in the music industry today when you meet newer bands?
A: Yes, certainly on the scene that we’re on. We met this Irish band “The Dread”, the only reason they’re doing it is because they love it. You’re not going to make loads of money as a new band unless you're very lucky.
Q: How do you feel when you’ve had an effect on newer bands?
A: It’s been incredible, with bands like Kasabian for example . Serge said that without “The Pretty Things” and without SF Sorrow there would be no Kasabian. He said he found the record in his dad's collection and thought “I want to start a band”.
Q: Since you’ve seen a lot sides of the music industry, different labels, what do you think of the direction the music industry is going in?
A: Yes I think in some ways it is. I was reading the other day that the British music industry is expanding.The sales are going up, mostly in downloads and streaming.
There's the vinyl revival, how long that will last I don't know. We’ll all be playing cassette tapes next.
Q: You’re well known for your live shows, of I’m sure this year will be no exception. Who are some of your inspirations for life performances?
A: A lot of people, so many. When I was living in the 60s I could literally walk to a club and see Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, Ike and Tina Turner. I sat right in front of The Byrds. All of these people we absorbed.
The only thing I slightly regret is that although I knew Jimi Hendrix, I only got to see him play a few times. He was fantastic figure in the London scene. There was a lot of inspiration to be had in those days.
Q: With your great body of work, are there any particular songs your particularly enjoy performing?
A: . There's one crazy song called Defective Grey, for a while we said we cant play that and now we play it with the new guys and it sounds great.
We always finish the set with song called LSD. It’s a play on fact that British money had the initials LSD, the obvious connotations. The original was a throwaway but a lot of people picked up on it. It was banned by the BBC which helped. We play it with a long psychedelic section at the end.
Q: This being one of your final live tours what would you like to have left with your audiences?
A: I hope this band continues playing with the band in some form or another, just not intensive touring. I’m not going to stop gigging.
An interview with Holly Miranda at Paradiso on her 'Mutual Horse' tour.
Q:When was the last time you were in Amsterdam?
A: It was six or Seven years ago for The Magician’s Private Library tour. I’ve also played downstairs (at Paradiso) with the XX.
Q: How do you find touring Europe compared to the US?
A: You’re very polite. We were just in Germany and it’s almost disarming how polite everyone is. Appreciation, there’s more appreciation for the arts here. The US government is cutting all arts in the country, it’s a pretty sad state over there.
Q:You’re now touring the new record ‘Mutual Horse’, what was the process like for recording this record?
A: It was a few years of hoarding every post it note, every voice memo, and then trying to flesh those out.This record was very collaborative. I wrote with Kirby Fairchild who plays with Modest Mouse, we wrote four songs together. Also Kyp Malone, from TV on The Radio. It was a lot of collaboration.
A:I went in to the studio with 33 songs, some were just pieces and ideas. I flew out my band from New York and we recorded basically 24 songs in 5 days. We kept whittling down, figuring out what’s making sense. It’s 14 on the record. I had been thinking about how I wanted to make this record a lot differently, the one before my band was there but it was also very much me alone.
Q: Why did you want to collaborate as much? Or did you start collaborating and find it was really working?
A: From my days in The Jealous Girlfriends and before I found it difficult to collaborate, I thought of music as my own therapy. A lot of my stuff early on was me talking to myself in the future.
When I moved out to LA my publicist would send me out on writing trips, which was really hard for me. But when somethings scary sometimes you have to do it, you have to run towards the roar. So I started forcing myself to collaborate. Then it became kind of like a mutual horse, something we were trotting along together and started finding the beauty of it.
It was also great to work with my friends. My friends are the best thing I’ve done with my life and it was great to cultivate these relationships. Now it’s all I want to do. I’ve been texting with Laurel from Little Scream. Richard Read Perry from Arcade Fire.
Q: I wanted to ask about the album cover for the record, it’s such a beautiful image, where did you find it?
A: It was a piece by my friend David Hochbaum, that’s the same little girl from the cover of ‘The Magician’s Private Library’. On that cover she's sleeping in a monochrome setting surrounded by all these arrows, arrows that have just missed her.
Then I watched him make this piece that’s on ‘Mutual Horse” and I had a copy by my bed. The title of the record had come but for the cover I wasn’t sure. Two days after Trump won, I woke up and suddenly this image had so much meaning. Suddenly this little girl is awake with a beautiful burden, the burden of a woman in the world today. It felt right for the record cover.
Q: You aLso worked on visuals for ‘Exquisite’ with Kyp Malone, are visuals very important for you in the creative process?
A: I’m getting there. I didn’t really grow up with a lot of culture, I grew up very sheltered. I didn’t go to museums or watch anything over PG. So I’m kind of a late bloomer. It’s something that’s slowly evolved.
Q: This is a very cumulative album, do you have any particular songwriting or space?
A: I like to write while in transit. That’s my quiet time. Travelling is my space.
But also a lot of these were collaborations. For example with ‘Let Her Go” , our mothers had passed away recently, we wrote those songs about our moms. Even those these are collaborations, these are still intensely personal because I know these people so well.
Q: Playing with The Jealous Girlfriends, with Karen O, the XX. Did you learn anything in particular, was there something that formed you as an artist?
A: The stuff with Karen was very educational for me, it’s very rare for me to be someones sideman. I had 5 days to learn 18 songs. All of my rehearsals Nick Zinner was sitting in front of me giving me tips, he’s my one of my favourite guitar players so it was nerve racking. We were playing these really quite songs, just me and Moses Sumney. But it really taught be how to be a good sideman. I learned how to appreciate how much the people around me are doing.
Q: Who are artists inspiring you right now?
A: I love Little Scream, Ambrosia Parsley. I just discovered Chris Williamson. Ani Difranco is still killing it. A lot of female bands.
I also love the War on Drugs, Arcade Fire. Also LCDS! I’m late but they’re incredible.
Q: What are your pre-performance rituals?
A: I am like a white witch, I travel with sage and sweetgrass, honey amber. My mayan priest in NY loaded me up. I’ve already got in trouble for saging the clubs. It’s funny how much its changed, my rituals, it used to be just whisky.
It’s good to have talismans when you’re in transit. It’s a very strange existence that we lead as musicians. In my 20s it was a lot of numbing it and getting through it and now I want to feel all of it.
Q: Do you have any ideas you can share for the new record?
A: Collaboration. I want to do everything I want to do Motown, I want to do full orchestral but at the same time when I finish a record I feel grateful that I get to do it again. I really appreciate it. Everytime its like your giving birth and your dying, like a kind of phoenix.
An interview with Mammal Hands, their album 'Shadow Work' is out now.
Q: You’ve recently released ‘Shadow Work”, the first self-produced album, what was it like to produce this yourselves?
A: Nick - It was a really great experience. With our first 2 records we were still learning about mixing and production so it was good to have people like George Atkins and Matt Halsall there in the studio who had more experience there. When we started working on Shadow Work we had a stronger sense of how we wanted the final version to sound so it felt like a good time to work on those elements ourselves.
Q: How did the process compare to “Animalia” and “Floa"?
A: Jordan: It was a lot more streamlined as we could act on all our ideas straight away and experiment a lot more. We still had time constraints to think about but we were totally free to try and create exactly what we had in our heads as the concept for this album.
Q: Why did you decide to produce this album yourselves?
A: Nick - We produced the album with George Atkins in 80 Hertz studios and after making the first 2 records there we felt we'd gained enough experience in the studio to produce ourselves and take control of the creative decisions. We started to get more complex ideas to do with using effects and field recordings to get a greater textural depth throughout the record. A track like Being Here became as much about the production as the playing of the instruments and it made sense for us to work at these elements ourselves.
Q: Who have you worked with before in production?
A: Jordan: The first two albums were produced by George Atkins who runs 80 Hertz, Matthew Halsall of Gondwana Records, and we were also involved in the process.
Q: “Boreal Forest” has an incredible video, who did you work with for this video and did you already
have an idea of what you wanted for the track?
A: Jordan: We worked with Rich Williams and Luca Rudlin, who did an amazing job, we couldn't be happier with how it came out. We did have some starting ideas, which we all traded around, for example the locations and overall weaving together of performance with spaces in nature and similar themes. A lot of the details came together on the day and also the guys came up with some brilliant ideas in the editing process.
Q: What would you say are your greatest musical influences?
A: Nick : Its different for each of us and we're always getting influenced by different stuff at different points so its hard to say what the greatest influences are.
Right now I'm listening to Matthew Bourne, Jon Hopkins and Rival Consoles.
Q: You toured extensively before producing this album, where were some of your favorite shows?
A: Jordan: For me, the most memorable is a show we were invited to play in Gaeta, where we played on the steps of a cathedral on the Italian coast.
Q: Are there any artists you would like to collaborate with?
A: Nick - Ive always liked Kris Drever's voice and guitar playing but I'm not sure how that would work!
Q: Are you working now on new material?
A: Jordan: Not properly at the moment, but we are starting to throw a lot of ideas around and are also experimenting with different ways of approaching the composing and instrumentation for the next album. We would like to take our time on the next album and try and build on the sound world that we have already created as a band.
Follow the group here: https://www.facebook.com/MammalHands/
AN INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL JOHN PAXTON
Q:You have played with various bands over the years, most recently Buffalo Sunn, what made you decide to go solo?
A: It was a tough decision but it all just came to an end. Some of the members wanted to go on and do other things outside music and I think we had taken the band as far as we could take it which was a shame because we had recently recorded some great stuff in Sunset Sound in LA with a great producer Joe Chiccarelli. The fact I was the only one left it seemed like a no brainer to carry on as a solo artist. I don’t think I could stop writing music or stop wanting to perform it’s a relationship that has its ups and downs but at the center is strong.
Q: How long have you been working on solo material?
is a great city but it’s not without its problems we have a serious housing and homeless situation now which is scary. But I love this city and I don’t think I could live anywhere else. It’s a beautiful place and I’m realizing just how cool it is through my daughter’s eyes now. I live by the mountain’s so a trip up there is always inspiring we have plenty of amazing forests to get lost in over here!
Q: Where has been your favorite venue to play in Europe?
A: I was lucky enough to play the Paradiso in Amsterdam that was a great venue to play, good vibes there.
https://www.facebook.com/Danieljohnpaxton/A: I’ve always been the chief songwriter in the bands I’ve been in so I’m always writing stuff some went to the band some go on the shelf and some go in the bin ha ha. There is a certain freedom that comes with being a solo artist, you can dip into all the influences you love and bring them out through your music. Sometimes with a band you can’t really do that.
Q:Have you had periods of playing solo before or is this a new move for you?
A:No, I’ve only been playing solo shows for the last 8 months, but its great both terrifying and exciting at the same time, it’s cool.
Q: What is your writing process like?
A: I really wish I had a process! Some people just have it down to an art form but with me it’s a bit more all over the place. Sometimes songs just come to you and it happens quick and it all falls together but other songs can take forever. Ideas are always floating around my brain, so I just try to grab them when I can and turn them into music.
Q: Who are some of your greatest musical influences?
A: I love so many kinds of music. I grew up listening to my folk’s record collection so that would have been stuff like the The Band, David bowie, The Who, Alan Parsons project and Patsy cline. My older brother is a music encyclopedia he got me into so many bands growing up everything from folk music to kraut rock and all other styles he would always point me in the right direction in each genre. I Love harmonies that’s what always catches my ear. I’ve been listening to a lot of Damien Jurado, Michael Nau lately and William Tyler. I Also like the new beach house stuff and Amen Dunes I’m not sure what artists influence me I suppose when people hear my music they might spot them better than I can.
Q :Are there any artists you would like to collaborate with?
A: I don’t know maybe Damien Jurado but id be nervous so if he needed someone to bang a tambourine I could do that or something
Q: What most inspires you about Dublin?
AN INTERVIEW WITH GRMLN
Interview with Yoodoo Park of GRMLN. His album "Afraid of.." is out March 18th.
Q: How did GRMLN start?
A: GRMLN started as a recording project I would make songs for when I was in high school. I was obsessed with garage band on my family computer, so started recording in my family living room straight into the computer.
Q:You released two albums last year and ‘Afraid of’ is due March 18th, are you very disciplined with writing new music?
A: I really like recording, which makes it really easy to keep writing new material. And I usually keep changing my sounds because i get bored of writing the same kind of music over and over again.
Q:What was the main inspirations for ‘Afraid of’?
A: I was writing a lot of the songs from ‘Afraid of’ on my acoustic guitar, so this album definitely has a focus more on the melody as well as the acoustic instrumentation, compared to my past albums.
Q: Where did you record ‘Afraid of” and what was the process like for this album?
A: I record and write all my music, so I recorded half of the songs in California and the other half in Japan.
Q: Are there any tracks on this album that you reworked or that didn't fit on the previous two albums?
A: I actually narrowed down this album from a dozen more tracks that I didn’t think would fit in with the others. So the tracks that survived to the final cut are pretty final, haha
Q:How do you think you’re sound has changed since your early albums?
A: I’m definitely trying to capture a vibe more for every album I write. Even though each album will have its own sound and own thing, taking a bit of influence from earlier albums and changing it up a bit is what I think my direction is going at the moment.
Q: Has your process for creating new material changed?
A:Not really, I usually just sit down and record whenever I feel like it kinda.
Q:You also play regularly in Japan, when did you start touring there?
A:I actually lived in Japan last year, and moving there again this year. So playing shows in Japan definitely influences my music now. Being in the city of Osaka and country side of Kyoto definitely has a strong influence on my life and writing.
Q:Has playing between the US and Japan affected your approach to music?
A:It’s just exciting for me to go back and forth, but not really a drastic change in approach to my music per say.
Q:Are there any other countries that you would like to tour?
A: I would like to tour China, I think that would be sick.
Q:Are there any particular artists you would like to collaborate with?
A:I think the only artist I actually really respect/respected is Michael Jackson, he would be pretty cool.
An interview with Tommy of THE WAMEKI, the self-described "Hardcore-Blues" band based in Japan.
Listen to '72 hours' here: https://thewameki.bandcamp.com/releases
Q: How did THE WAMEKI start?
A: I had THE WAMEKI for supporting Japan tour of my friend's band in Sydney 4 years ago. They started a band after being influence by my old band. And also I started a new band.
Bassist and Drummer were my friends before THE WAMEKI.
Q: Have you always played punk music?
A: Yes. I call my music "Hardcore-Blues". How do you feel that sound?
Q: What inspires your music?
A: Chicago Blues & NY punk
Q: You recently released the album '72 hours', what was the process like for creating this album?
A:I always make my new album for having a tour. I won't make it if I don't tour, hahaha! This album was recorded by a small tape recorder. We played again and again like a gig with handing that recorder.
Q: You often use harmonica on your tracks, is this something you've always done or did you introduce this later?
Q: You've been currently on tour in the US, how has the tour gone so far?
A: Digital Regress Records manages this tour. Name of the boss is Ronnie. He gives us meal, beds, anything to us. We are his babies! I am answering your questions with drinking milk he gave.
Q: As well as the US, you've also toured in Japan and Australia. Where would you say you have your most dedicated fan base?
Q: How does the punk music scene in Japan compare to the US and Australia?
A: Oh this is a big question. But! In fact I don't think we are in the Japanese punk scene. We often play with noise bands in Japan. We are Hardcore-Noise-Blues band sometimes.
Q: How do you usually prepare for a show?
A: Sleeping a lot! I don't go sightseeing wherever I go.
Follow THE WAMEKI here: http://thewameki.info
THE HONEY TOADS
'The Honey Toads' are an alternative band from Petaluma, CA. The group includes Nick Cafiero (vocals) Joe DeMars (bass) Jack Hogan (guitar) and Dominic Bergamini (drums).
Their latest single "Send Me Out" is now available. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkOxYi-UJtY
Q: How did the group form?
A: Entering high school we all were huge fans of music and basically just nerds when it came to our favorite bands that we idolized and wanted to be like. We each ended up under the tutelage of bass player extraordinaire and jazz master, Gio Benedetti (a founding member of Toast Machine and The Brother’s Comatose) who we also idolized and wanted to be like. The four of us were drawn together by our similar sense of humor and upbringing and became fast friends far before we were particularly good at our instruments. Still, we wanted to play music as a band very badly and, along with a fifth friend, formed The Broken Elevators which was essentially a soft folk-rock outfit that we soon after shed to create The Honey Toads. Under the guidance of Mr. Benedetti, we began to become somewhat proficient on our instruments and started booking shows, recording demos, and making merch. Tom Gaffey, the owner of The Phoenix Theater in Petaluma played a huge role in helping us secure some of our first shows and has always been extremely generous with his space when it comes to giving new acts a shot and hosting benefit shows.
Q: How long have you been playing together?
A: We started playing together around the latter half of 2011. So almost six years now, practically as long as we’ve been friends.
Q: What are the largest influences on your music?
A: All of us come from pretty different backgrounds musically but some of our most clear influences come from our love for bands like The Talking Heads, New Order, The Smiths, and contemporary groups like The National and Interpol. Dominic, our drummer, has been very keen on the progressive metal band Periphery for some time now and we’ve always placed a lot of focus on making sure the rhythmic elements of our music hold our own interest before moving forward with a song.
Q: You recently released the brilliant single “Send me Out”, how long had this been in the works?
A: “Send Me Out” was one of the first songs we wrote when we began making music. It’s been a big part of our live set for the last few years and we play it every show now. It was one of our first demos that we recorded early on and at the time we only had enough time and money to do one take for each demo, “Send Me Out” ended up being our best cut out of the songs we did so we’d shop that demo around to venues we were looking to book at.
Q: How was the production process for this track and who did you work with?
A: This single was recorded at The Spot Studios in Denver Colorado with producers Glenn Sawyer and Rich Veltrop. We drove from our homes in the Bay Area to their studio in Denver dodging rabbits and other potential roadkill as we made the overnight journey. The studio was essentially an 8,000 square foot house that had been converted into a beautiful recording space and lodging for the band. We took the process very seriously but ended up flying through the recording sessions and headed home a little ahead of schedule. Rich and Glenn were a total pleasure to work with: both were really candid about things that were or were not working in the studio. They bring a lot of expertise to the table — you just get the feeling that they’ve seen it all. Hearing their stories and getting their advice on music in general was just as valuable as the songs we left with.
Q: How do you feel “Send Me Out” is different from your previous work?
A: “Send Me Out” came together in a very complete and succinct way and as a result its changed very little since we first composed it. The song switches time signatures between the verse and chorus making it compositionally a bit different from the rest of our tracks. It came together very organically with the only continuously changing part being Jack’s guitar solo at the end of the song which would be essentially improvised every show up until the song was officially released. From then on we’d play it just like the record.
Q: There’s a great visual chosen for “Send Me Out”, how did you find it and what made you think it connected to the song?
A: Haha we get asked this questions a lot actually. Lots of people come up and ask “why did you put those fishbowl helmets on everyone in your music video?” To be frank, the idea came from Nick’s personal fear of the listener’s interpretation of the music being tainted by the facial expressions an actor might project onto the song. By covering up everyone’s face in the video, we hoped it would condense the experience of watching the video to just its key plot points and aesthetics. It's also worth noting our actor (Luke Weinberg) and actress (Kaley Chaffey) did a phenomenal and went well above and beyond their roles to help make this music video come together. The helmets were almost impossible to see through. We opted to paint them because they had this almost sterile and metallic feel that felt like it would go very well with our desire to neutralize facial acting and provide a nice contrast to the beautiful and natural environment of the beach town where we filmed.
(If you are also referring to the single artwork it is a piece done by Édouard Riou, the illustrator of Verne’s classic novel Journey To The Center Of The Earth. Our guitarist Jack Hogan (who filmed and directed our music video) colored it and added further elements of design to it that we felt matched the song.)
Q: Are there any particular artists you would like to collaborate or perform with?
A: Yes! There are so many though giving you a narrowed down answer will be difficult. We’d honestly love to work with anyone that has great ideas and a passion for a new project, it would be wonderful to put something together with Gio Benedetti again sometime in the future or even play with him. There’s nothing quite like a Toast Machine show! There are, of course, a few artists we love who have different sounds from us, but we would be excited to talk to or work with: James Murphy, Jack Steadman, and Brian Eno who are all amazing producers and musicians that would be a treat to just talk to.
Q: Can we expect new music from “The Honey Toads” soon?
A: Yes you can! We will be announcing an early 2018 release date for our next single, “Plastic Smiles,” very soon. It’ll be up everywhere so if you’re looking for more music from us Toads follow us on our Facebook or Instagram and you’ll be kept up to date.
Find out more about the group and upcoming music here: https://www.facebook.com/thehoneytoads
The San Francisco band 'Sirena Victima' performed at Rickshaw Stop on June 7th for the quarterly performance series organized by Women in Music. They have a brilliant EP out now called 'Without Masters'.
When did your band start?
SV: DECEMBER 2014
What made you choose the name ‘Sirena Victima’?
SV:Marisela wanted "Sirena" Candace wanted "Victima" and Megan okayed it.
Who are your inspirations?
SV: Kim Gordon, Crass, Grass Widow
What inspires you about San Francisco?
SV: The people that figure out how to stay here, that don't make one hundred thousand dollars a year.
You recently played at the quarterly concert for Women’s Audio Mission, the non-profit organisation in San Francisco promoting women in audio production and recording arts. Do you feel that there has been significant progress for women in this field over the past decade?
SV: We see more women in the bay area becoming active in live and studio sound. But, there is more progress to be made. WAM is definitely a beacon of hope for equality in the music scene. Candace (Sirena's drummer) interned at WAM and had a remarkably positive experience. With this experience Candace became a sound engineer at prominent venues around the bay area. WE LOVE WAM!
What progress do you feel still could be made in this field?
SV: We hope women can apply to these jobs, and reach out for the education they need. And places like WAM continue to exist for young girls to be exposed to science and music.
As three young women in a punk band, have you ever been the target of any prejudice or sexism?
SV: Y E S
Do you have any political aspirations with your music as well as artistic?
SV: All of our political views are radical. We like being artistic, but we're not trying to tell people how to think.
Do you believe that punk is a more male-dominated music genre than others?
SV: Everything is dominated by men. All scenes, all sports, and all occupations.
Any pre-performance rituals you could share?
SV: Heavy lifting, up and down stairs, into a car, out of a car, into a venue. That is our ritual. Oh yea and La Croix.
LILY AND MADELEINE
Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz, the duo from Indiana, have been touring the US to promote their new album ‘Keep it Together’. The album also features musicians Shannon Hayden and Kate Siefker, who are also currently touring with the sisters.
Q: You’ve released an album a year now for the past three years, what would you say the main differences are between ‘Keep it Together’ and your previous albums’?
Madeleine: "Keep It Together" is more of a band album compared to our last two records. All of the songs were fully arranged with our friends/bandmates Shannon Hayden and Kate Siefker before we went into the studio to record them. We had a clear vision for how we wanted the album to sound as a whole.
Lily: Keep It Together is also our most personal album when it comes to lyrics and production. It was very hands on and we were involved in every part of making it (choosing the cover, etc.)
Q: ‘Keep it Together’ seems to have a vein of defiance running through it, especially on the first track, what prompted this?
L: I don't think it's really defiance. In that song we're just talking about the expectations we have as women and how messed up it is that those expectations often dictate our lives.
Q: Is there a particular song on the new album that encapsulates the mood of the entire album for you?
M: I love the song "Hotel Pool" because it was written about our tour memories and it's very personal to me. It also sets the dreamy vibe of the record.
L: I think Chicago encapsulates the feel of the whole album. It's dreamy, melodic, modern, and really fun to sing!
Q: What has been your favorite song to perform from your new album so far?
M: We've been playing "Hotel Pool" into "Hourglass" which is really fun and flows nicely!
L: I love performing Smoke Tricks live because we do this ending that's slightly different from the album version and more intense.
Q: With your experience of the past two albums, did you find the song-writing process easier or more streamlined for you on ‘Keep it Together’?
M: Lily and I wrote a little differently with this new album. We each wrote separately and then came together to edit them before we took them into the studio.
Q: Whats your best time for writing?
M: I usually get inspiration while I'm driving and then flesh out the ideas later on when I have time to sit down at the piano.
L: Not really actually. I guess I am prompted to write lyrics after I have/overhear an important conversation. And I like to write on the piano after breakfast.
Q: How as it been to perform with other musicians instead of each other?
M: It's so fun! It makes our set more lively and adds more energy on stage.
L: It's really great because it gives us more room to experiment and be loud!
Q: Are there any musicians either of you would like to collaborate with?
L: I always say this, but I'd really like to collab with musicians from other genres. Like an artist that's more R&B or Hip Hop would be really cool.
Q: Where has been you’re favorite place to perform so far on this tour?
M: Playing at Swedish American Music Hall in San Francisco was a lot of fun! The venue was beautiful, the crowd was nice, and San Francisco is such a neat city.
L: Doug Fir Lounge because the crowd was super lively and they sang along to our encore song, it was very sweet <3
Q: Do you have any pre-performance rituals that you could share?
M: I like to do my makeup and then just drink some water and relax before a show.