1. Dredg - El Cielo
2. Deftones - White Pony
3. Thrice - Vheissu
4. At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command
5. Incubus - Make Yourself
6. Muse - Absolution
7. Radiohead - OK Computer
8. Abandoned Pools - Humanistic
9. Zao - The Funeral of God
10. Ryan Adams - Love is Hell
Thought I would just toss this up here. It was fun and given the topic, I think it is still relevant. Circa Survive was kind enough to give me an interview for an independent study I was doing for a class. The paper was about the music industry and I wanted to get some input from someone that was actually involved in the industry. I contacted three bands and they were the only band to grant me an interview which was incredibly generous of them. I conducted this interview last October at Voodoofest in New Orleans. Also, not that anyone will but if anyone does want to read my paper I'm sorry but it no longer exists because of the death of my old computer where it was located. The interview was with Anthony (singer), Colin (guitarist), and Nick (bassist, who didn't have much to say). Enjoy, these are some great guys.
Does it at all concern you that we haven’t had a music revolution (like Nirvana or the Beatles) in quite a long time?
Colin: I think it’s uh… probably yes, slightly concerning. Maybe just because it seems like there has been bands worthy of that but… music has changed so much that perhaps it’s not even possible anymore. Now, it’s much more like an ADD type thing. The attention span just isn’t right; you have stuff thrown at you like every two seconds. Everyone is like check this out, it’s the new Nirvana. Everything is over-hyped, so there’s no room for surprises.
Why do you think more and more bands are making the jump to major labels, often knowing they will lose artistic freedom?
Anthony: After you have accomplished a certain amount that’s what you do. A lot of times I think bands don’t realize that they don’t really even need to take that step.
Colin: The “what-if” factor is also enticing to them. The “what if” factor of becoming big and more successful. It’s also not fair to judge their reasons. In reality, they do have families and there are big differences to the lifestyle that would benefit your family if you signed a million dollar deal with a major label. I don’t look down on any bands for trying it. But that is something that we were always afraid… or at least weary of from the beginning.
Do you think when bands make this jump to a major label that they expect to instantly become bigger due to the fact?
Colin: I don’t know what they're thinking. Just to be fair…There are so many labels that are in the indie scene that operate similarly as major labels just on a smaller level in mentality and sometimes even financially. So you really can’t draw these fine lines anymore because everyone is so like infatuated/connected with each other. It’s really all about passion which is rare these days. You have to find someone in the industry that is passionate about the music they are promoting.
Anthony: You want people that approach you because you play music they like. You know like I like this so this is what I want people to hear. You don’t want “Make me a shitload of money so I can coast for two years.”
Do you feel like there is a lack of originality in music these days? As if people are trying to aim their music at what people want to hear?
Anthony: I think all people play for different reasons. Where some people are artists and care about the music, I’m 100% certain there are people that don’t give a shit that much; they just want to be on a stage. Then there are people that are in it just for this social aspect of it.
Colin: The problem is that anything that becomes commercialized is then going to be copied/repeated. When you are part of something that is underground and on a small scale in a community setting, then that is thriving on creativity and something other than aesthetic; almost like spirit in kind of way. The way hardcore punk rock is very different than the way it was before. Once something like Nirvana happens, or Thursday sells 300,000 copies, the record industry says “We have to find the next this.” They aren’t looking for what Thursday was before they blew up. They are looking for whatever sounds like that to repeat it “x” amount of times until that well is dry. Then back to the drawing board until some 20 year-old discovers Fallout boy, ya know? or whatever.
So it’s like, yeah of course there are people that read AP and read that and go, “OK that guy has got eye liner on, I’m goin to do this and wear that.” There are a lot of copy cats out there. Unfortunately, the only people that are doing things truly originally are the people that are like, “Fuck myspace, fuck that. I’m not putting my shit up there.” Hence, they are basically making music in their bedrooms that no one is going to listen to because half the people the A & R people that are signing bands now, go to myspace and look for it. So it’s really all about, alright how far and deep are these people going to go and look for originality.
I saw a company that for a certain amount of money will give your myspace a certain number of hits.
Colin: Right, because unfortunately people will go to a myspace and see how many friends they have. They won’t look to see if half of the friends exist.
Anthony: I’m pretty sure that is how we got on this show because we won a myspace contest.
Do you think it’s safe to say that major labels are just a business and indie labels are actually passionate about the music?
Colin: No. We love Equal Vision and there are people on both sides that are passionate but they operate too similarly.
Opinion on the infamous topic of file-sharing?
Anthony: Love it.
Colin: We support it. We’re definitely not against it. We don’t mind people burning copies for their friends.
Anthony: When you are a kid, they teach you sharing is good.
Colin: It’s flattering when someone says, “I bought your record and I wouldn’t let my friend burn it. I told him he had to buy it.” It’s like, “Thank you but… burn it for all your friends and then come see us.”
Do you worry about your careers as musicians in 5-10 years because of issues like file-sharing?
Colin: To be completely honest, we don’t make money off our records. So, maybe some day we would, but as the way things are going that’s not likely to change. For us, we feel lucky to do what we do in any sense of the word. I think all of us are in the moment and enjoying it. We will do it no matter what, no matter what the scale. It’s not worth it to worry. We wouldn’t be enjoying this. We did this in vans before a bus and a car before that. I don’t think any of us want to do the same thing our entire lives. All of us have different passions and goals that might lead us somewhere else professionally.
Athony: I think being able to do this now, has caused me to not worry about the future. There is no sense in being worried or cautious.
Would you be disappointed if all music went digital, and there weren’t CDs anymore?
Colin: It’s hard to say, there is so much nostalgia wrapped up in buying new music and getting artwork. As a kid there was something real cool and special about that.
Anthony: I remember being attached to tapes and I couldn’t afford CDs. I just had my walkman that played tapes and I was like, “How the fuck am I going to listen to stuff now, I can’t afford CDs!”
Colin: I transferred my first like 100 cds straight to cassette to have in my Walkman.
Anthony: I would steal them out of his car. That was how I listened to White Pony (Deftones' third album) for the first time.
Colin: It’s kind of bitter-sweet. It’s still kind of cool to be here to witness the change.
Anthony: (in old man voice) I remember when we had plastic circles that we put in a machine to play music.
Colin: As an artist there is nothing more mentally dwarfing than sitting there plugging into a 250 gig hard drive full of albums and knowing what you’ll work on for months, possibly even a year, becomes this tiny thing in a hard drive that someone may or may not choose to ever listen to again. It’s like existentialism 101 for musician’s that think they are like God’s gift. You’re just 316 megabytes bro.
Anthony: “I will delete you with the click of a button.”
Would you bummed if there was no “album mentality” anymore and it was essentially all singles?
Anthony: I think that would be kind of sweet. Back in the day, songs were only released as singles, that’s what they did. Two here and two there and then eventually you release the album.
Colin: I think anything that is different is exciting, anything that is out of the box and can be done in a different fashion. It’s like in art history class and you have the classic debate where the teacher would bring out a Warhol, a Picasso, and then some splatter painting and asks, “Is this art?” But that’s what funny. You can’t fucking say what it is. Anything can be art. Maybe there won’t be a booklet but it will be some holographic choose-your-own-adventure bullshit.
Anthony: Dude like you’re in the fucking band. You listen and you are playing on stage in some virtual-reality shit.
How does it feel to be on a label that has so much faith in you guys that you were signed before even playing a show?
Anthony: It’s sweet! The kind of generosity they have shown us throughout our existence has been awesome.
Colin: It’s funny, because our producer gave us so much shit about that when we first recorded our album, he would always say, “You guys haven’t even played a show yet!”
Nick: Anytime there was a disagreement, “You guys haven’t even played a show. I’ve been recording shit for years and you haven’t even played a show!”
(Laughs and impersonations from all)
Colin: After that first show and tour we all realized it was an awesome decision to do it that way. Everything about our journey so far has been really unique at least for us. How we have done and do things is different from than lot of other people and we wouldn’t want it any other way. Again, when you see tradition over and over again it doesn’t mean it’s the right way.
Do you feel like a lot of music is underappreciated because labels and the media try to control what you listen to?
Colin: Yes. Examples are all around you.
Anthony: Every band you like that you dig that is on your ipod, is a perfect example.
Colin: If you talk to anyone with talent, they sadly might change something about their music in hopes that more people or a label will like it and finally give them a chance. There’s probably so much great stuff out there that I haven’t been exposed to.
I just watched Silverchair’s making of Diorama and it showed people from the labels telling them to change things to make it more “radio.” Have you ever ran into something like that?
Anthony: I had an experience with our producer and he thought something that I was saying was going to creep people out. It was good to be challenged though.
Nick: The closest thing to that was our A & R people telling us which songs they liked and which songs should stay or go. It was a good thing though.
Colin: It’s expected for a producer to be hands on and say we should change things. Someone was just telling us the other day, a band we know is about to put out an album that they have essentially recorded twice. They had 20 songs that didn’t make the album because the label rejected them all. I guess that is standard operating procedure for major labels these days. Like you record ten songs and give them to the label and the label says, “Well, these two songs okay but the other eight aren’t making it.” They might lose a brilliant album in the process, while the label wastes extra money. Then the album that the label now thinks is so great, doesn’t sell and then the label drops the band.
I remember you telling me once that “Suspending Disbelief” is one of your favorite songs and it didn’t make the record. Did that bother you?
Anthony: I was bummed but I wouldn’t change it now.
Colin (saying to Anthony): I talked to Dan and told him I thought it would be cool if we repackaged Juturna or something and put it on there.
I prefer the original version of “Great Golden Baby”
Anthony: I love to hear that shit. I love to hear that.
Colin: We bust that old version out live sometimes.
Do you ever worry that “everything has been done before” and there won’t be anything new to bring to the table?
Colin: If we worried about that, then we wouldn’t be natural or honest about what we do. We would be trying so hard to be doing something new and that can be annoying when you listen to something that is obviously trying so hard to be so shockingly new. The people that have done something new in the past, weren’t trying to, they were just doing what they do. Just like Nirvana, Cobain played the guitar like that because he liked the sound it made. He didn’t set out to invent something. He didn’t say, “Oh, I’m going to change the face of music.” No, he even said that he was a punk rock band ripping off the Pixies, like he actually said that all the time.
What are your reactions to kids these days that are just like “Your music sucks, my music is cool!” and all the other online bullshit?
Anthony: Words on a page aren’t worth very much.
Colin: Ok, let’s say you have ten hours in a day. Ok, to do something. If you are in a band or an artist, you have to choose your time wisely. You can’t spend your time reading that shit dude, spend it writing music and hanging with your friends. If you ask for criticism then take it but when people just sit there and say what they say, it’s not worth much.
It's not everyday that a band is able to cross that threshold where you are adored by not only the hippies and the rockers, but the frat boys and chicks as well. Incubus did just that. I remember back when I had little taste in music, I picked up the '98 Family Values Tour Live CD. Incubus's "New Skin" was featured on it. Even though I liked it, I still didn't check them out. Then, one day whilst watching MTV I saw this kickass music video for a song called "Pardon Me." I watched all the way through wondering who the hell is this? Lo and behold, it was Incubus. To this day, Make Yourself is one of my favorite albums. Although plenty of people follow the rule (always like the first album the most), and claim that their album, S.C.I.E.N.C.E, was so brilliant. It was a fantastic album, but I don't think they captured their voice until Make Yourself. Brandon Boyd has one hell of a voice and mind. "I wish I had a map of your head translated into English, so I could learn to not make you frown." Um yeah, doubt we'll be seeing those words come out of Mr. Timberlake anytime soon. So what happened?
A lot of people had "issues" with A Crow Left of the Murder. This is due to the fact that Morning View (while a great album) was their most commercially successful. Rather mellow for the most part, appealed to the widest audience than any of their previous work. ACLOTM is a stellar album. Don't believe me? Listen to "Sick, Sad Little World" and kiss my ass (not a song, just do it). I didn't have issues. ACLOTM was everything I wanted it to be. It was unafraid, angry, and you didn't hear Brandon singing about floating down rivers, but you still had female/frat-friendly jams like "Southern Girl" and "Here in My Room" (which even I like). It was as if Make Yourself and Morning View had a lovechild and created ACLOTM. Yet, somehow plenty of people bitched about it and discarded the album.
Then Incubus did the unthinkable... They recorded THREE tracks for the Stealth Movie Soundtrack (who the hell has seen or even remembers this?). The single didn't do well at radio and the only decent song, "Neither of Us Can See," was only decent because it had a great duet between Brandon and Chrissie Hynde (of the Pretenders). This decline was the perfect segue to an equally disappointing new album, Light Grenades.
I must've had the "I wonder what Incubus's next album will sound like" conversation a thousand times over with my friends. My story was always the same,"Well, I hope they work off what they did with ACLOTM but I have a bad feeling we're going to get exactly what we don't want. Like the songs on the Stealth Soundtrack." My friends would be all, "Don't say that about them. You know better than that." I don't know if I should be called pessimistic or realistic, but I knew.
Then I got one hell of a "Pysche!" pulled on me when I heard the first single, "Anna Molly." It was one kick ass song. It was rocking, the guitar was shredding, the drums banging. I was all about it. While it didn't carry the amount of experimentation I usually enjoy from Incubus, it was a single, so is to be expected. Then after eagerly waiting, I finally got my hands on Light Grenades. To say I'm bummed or disappointed would be an understatement. Everyone has a few bands that they feel like are theirs; I was the person that showed Incubus to all my friends. While most big bands are bound to have a flop at some point, I had Incubus on a pedestal (which I thought they deserved to be on). While I can honestly say I enjoy "Anna Molly" as well as only one other track, "A Kiss to Send us Off," this album is empty. Most the songs almost sound like a Brandon Boyd solo album. Others sound like another love child between Make Yourself and Morning View, but in a bad kind of way. It's as if the album is comprised of songs that weren't good enough to be included on ACLOTM.
While I think all the members of Incubus are awesome at what they do... I always felt like Brandon was a leader. I know every lead(er) singer gets that label anyway, but I had faith in his voice (what he had to say, not how he said it). The low quality of Stealth up until Light Grenades seemed like something that Brandon would never let happen. Maybe they got sick of being perfectionists? I don't know what exactly caused this wreck but I saw it happen.
It is odd, given how popular youtube and internet video has become, that the art of the music video is dying. Yes, I could blame MTV and say, "You don't show music videos anymore, you devils of music," but the fact of the matter is MTV feeds kids what they want to see. So as long as kids want to see spoiled bitches celebrate birthdays, then that is what you are going to get. It is just like people who complain about reality tv while it is their guilty pleasure at the same time.
I remember when I was younger I wanted to be a music video director, because it fused my two passions: music and film. I will never forget the first time I saw Unkle's, "Rabbit in your Headlights,"or Marilyn Manson's, "The Beautiful People," or any Michel Gondry-Directed video. I mean who hasn't heard a song and played their own video in the mind? A music video is a exactly what it sounds like a video for music; it gives the music a face. Considering how popular music and film are, it is surprising that videos aren't much more popular (even when they peaked in popularity). Music and film are two of the biggest commercial industries, so what happened?
I can honestly say what happened (at least on my part). I got lazy... I know most people are still all about the internet and spend hours on youtube. But as for myself, I don't want to have to SEEK a video. I want to be able to flip channels and discover it. I want it to come to me, I want a video to introduce me to a new artist. Maybe someone I've heard about, but have discarded for whatever reason. I am glad some artists are using their means to keep videos alive. Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around, Comes Around," is a good example of this. I don't know what it would take for music videos to become important, and desired once again, but I for one miss them.
City and Colour is the namesake of Dallas Green’s solo endeavors when he is not busy with his rock outfit, Alexisonfire, playing guitar and singing. Every person who is a true fan of music has an artist or group that they feel should be much more popular and can’t understand why the band/artist isn’t. Well, City and Colour is mine. Granted, Mr. Green is from Canada and doesn’t have the same amount of exposure. Nonetheless, anyone that takes the time to check out what he has to offer will soon discover an amazing talent. If you take the asshole and pretentiousness out of Ryan Adams, City and Colour is what you are left with. Even though I compare him to Ryan Adams, it does not mean that City and Colour is lacking in originality. His songs bring about a passion and honesty that I have not heard in a voice since Dylan. When I picture Dallas Green, I think of a singer/songwriter in the purest sense. I can see him living in the country sitting on his porch writing and playing his songs. You can easily tell that music is his life. He is not doing it because he wants money, drugs, girls, or anything else. The man just lives and breathes music.
I had the pleasure to see City and Colour at the House of Blues in Dallas on the much smaller stage to a sold-out crowd (and what I believe was only his third headlining show in the U.S.). Dallas Green looks like a punk version of Bill Gates: heavily tattooed including a hand grenade across his trachea and huge wire-rimmed glasses. In keeping with his nonchalant attitude he stands stage right rather than center. He was backed by a group of friends as his musicians who were all adorn with typical western garb (even though Green, himself, didn’t fit this mold). He began the set with the opener of his new album, “Forgive Me.” Green’s calm, smooth voice could not have sounded better. He was captivating and mesmerizing to watch. When you see him play, you truly believe that he is reliving his lyrics. The banter in between songs was always interesting. After people repeatedly shouting songs for him to play, he told a nice story. He said that one time his keyboardist asked the crowd, “When you are at the movies do you shout at the screen what to play?” He then said that he would feel like he cheated the crowd if he played what they wanted to hear, rather than playing what songs he felt passionate about lately.
Green then played a few older tunes that he had revamped, because he said they would be boring to play if he didn’t. This added so much more excitement to the show. I got to hear several old songs in a new light; bootlegs of which don’t exist in good form. This makes a City and Colour show a one-of-a-kind experience for a fan. The new live version of “Sometimes” was breathtaking. The harmony at the end of the song was pitch-perfect and had every attendee’s attention with complete silence. Next, Green asked for crowd participation at the end of “Constant Knot” and he got it from every fan in the room.
Green’s backing band left for awhile for him to play some songs solo. When someone in the crowd shouted, “This is where it gets good,” Green retorted, “It’s probably not a idea to say that after already playing nine songs. Don’t do that.” Before breaking into “Body in a Box” Green stated, “This song is about being at a funeral and feeling really uncomfortable.” With his harmonica strapped on, Green gave a great soulful performance. Next, he played an amazing rendition of the Motown classic, “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.” He frequently plays the cover tune and every time does it great justice.
Green then brought his bandmates out for one last song before ending the night. Green was very humble and thanked everyone for being there, especially since he is still rather new to the U.S. as a solo act. They then performed my personal favorite, “As Much As I Ever Could,” which bears the title of their newest album, “Bring Me Your Love,” in its lyrics. As Dallas left the stage I realized I had just seen a true performer and musician; someone who is already legendary in my book. Go introduce yourself to the music of City and Colour… I think you’ll like it.