The members of Washington, D.C.’s own The Deadmen proudly display the wears and tears of being road warriors. Hailing from various sectors on the Eastern side of the United States to South Africa, the foursome together present a masterful impact onto their music.
After releasing their debut EP through 8 Gang Switch in 2014 now comes the band’s first full length The Deadmen. Produced by Mike Faneule, there was some uncertainty on whatever or not this rocker would ever see the light of day. If you were to ask the band, they would tell you that The Deadmen was just biding its time. The landscape lyrically throughout the full-length centers frustration, paranoia, loss, but then closes in on hope and love-the purest form of rock and roll.
Today, Ghettoblaster shares The Deadmen’s video for the single “Everything”, directed by filmmaker Patrick Mason. Here is guitarist/vocals Justin Hoben on the song:
“When you realize your True Self is turning a relationship into a pit of quicksand, you can either make an attempt at a positive change or own it with sarcastic shrug. Change is hard. The idea for this song came after a particularly heated Deadmen group text, but took on more of a “significant other” feel as the lyrics were written.”
The unfortunate passing of a friend. The ending of not only his band, but also a relationship. The relocation to a new city. Fallow Land’s Whit Fineberg began to start feeling like he was directionless. However, these dark moments that culminated in such a short span of time also forced Fineberg to be more inspired than he ever has before. He soon began writing more than he had in years and crossed paths with bandmate Evan Veasey back home in Ann Arbor.
For their debut EP Pinscher, Fineberg and Veasey worked attentively together with Chris Bathgate on truly understanding the importance of each song. Once Fallow Land were pleased with their newfound keen sense of their art, they went to record at High Bias Studios with the help of audio engineer Chris Koltay, mixing by Matt Bayless, and mastered by Ed Brooks (Cursive, Death Cab for Cutie).
Ghettoblaster recently caught with Fineberg and Veasey to talk more about Pinscher, how the duo met in Ann Arbor, and the future. Here’s what the members of Fallow Land said.
I’ve seen online that some outlets are labeling Fallow Land as a “math rock” band. Would you agree with that?
Fineberg: We have definitely drawn influence from math rock. When I was writing a lot of the songs on Pinscher I was listening to Bearcubbin and Don Caballero. That being said, I wouldn’t say we are explicitly a math rock band. I wouldn’t say we are explicitly anything. We just pick elements from the music we like and adapt it to fit our compositions.
Veasey: Yes and no. Both Whit and I listen to math rock a fair amount so I think that some of that influence has made it into the music. For example, the first song on the EP, Yang, switches between 4/4 and 6/8 time signatures, and a new song we are working on is mostly in 5?8. However, I don’t think I would call us math rock. Even though our music has some of the rhythmic complexity of that genre, I think we lack the technicality of real math bands. I would consider us more of a mix of several different things. Like maybe emo-math-shoegaze or something like that.
Fineberg-you found inspiration with your writing when you were at a pretty low point. From the untimely death of a friend to the dissolution of not only a relationship but your previous band, what was it that inspired you?
Fineberg: I started writing Pinscher out of necessity. I was faced with all of these really trying scenarios that were incredibly complex and overwhelming. Choosing to hide from them would inevitably result in self-destruction so I had to come up with a safe way to face all of these issues and try to understand them. Whenever I wasn’t in class I was recording demos. It’s really what kept me together.
Veasey-what was it about Fineberg that intrigued you to join him in setting up Fallow Land?
Veasey: I think what drew me to working with Whit initially was his great music taste and career ambitions. Prior to playing with Fallow Land I had played in 4 or 5 other bands, and I learned a lot about playing with other people and the creative process by doing that. However, none of those groups were particularly serious. We would play a few shows around town and practice a lot, but that was basically it. When Whit came to me asking if I was interested in putting a new group together, he was already planning a tour for that summer and talking about recording a record within the next year. I am aspiring to make music my sole source of income, so meeting someone with similar ambitions was exciting. Also he happened to like a lot of music I liked and wrote good songs, so it just kind of worked out.
Fineberg-I read that producer Chris Bathgate helped you go about thinking your own art in a different way. What was it that Bathgate showed or told you?
Fineberg: What has always stuck me about Chris’ work is his ability to milk every idea for all that its worth. He has this understanding of arranging music that’s incredibly sophisticated. Chris finds the most powerful aspect of every section of a song and figures out how to amplify it. Chris frequently asked me, “What’s the most important moment of this section?” Or, “What’s the high point of this song?” Chris taught me to break a song down to its essential core and rebuild from there.
Veasey-were you aware Fineberg’s work around Ann Arbor before the two of you met?
Veasey: Yeah, I had been aware of Whit’s different projects and things for a number of years before we started Fallow Land. We both went to the same high school and I had some friends who knew Whit and were fans of his band Bad Television. I also went and saw Bad TV a couple times my freshman year before we started the group. We were running in the same circles during most of that time.
Fineberg-you were living in Chicago but continued to drive up to Ann Arbor to play music frequently. For the band, how special is Ann Arbor to you two?
Fineberg: Ann Arbor is where I developed as an artist. I started playing shows at the Neutral Zone (a local teen center) when I was fourteen. It’s a really weird scene here. There are a ton of fantastic musicians and artists, but in the past couple of years many of the venues have begun to close down. Unfortunately there isn’t the same degree of appreciation for art from the public as there is in many other cities. That being said, I feel deeply rooted in the scene here and the musicians I have access to collaborate with are fantastic.
What is the meaning behind naming the EP Pinscher and having the EP artwork a picture of this certain breed of dog?
Veasey: There isn’t really any meaning. We actually found the image of the Doberman before we had decided on the title for the EP. We like the photograph so much that we decided to use it as our album cover and the title Pinscher just seem to fit.
Fineberg: In truth, the picture came before the concept to name the EP. My friend Andrea Calvetti actually took the photograph of his own dog. We met because he was good friends with one of my roommates in Chicago. He actually lived on the floor above us in our apartment complex. Andrea is an incredible photographer and I was scrolling through his photographs on Facebook and I saw the photograph of his dog. I was struck by the extreme power and potential for chaos that existed within the dog, yet it is exceptionally calm in the photograph. One of the ideas illustrated throughout the EP is staying calm when chaos is raging inside of you. Writing all these songs in the first place was an attempt to stay calm in the face of chaos. There is something very empowering about going through something that’s totally insane and coming out ok on the other end.
The ending to the band’s recently released video for the single “Faux” is rather intriguing. For those who watch the video, you are left wondering after seeing the twist. I’m sure that there’s several different ways to go about understanding what the ending entails. What is the meaning behind it?
Fineberg: We can be destroyed by our desire to be someone else.
Veasey: “Faux” is all about changing every aspect of yourself at an almost molecular level to please people you care about, so we wanted our video to reflect that theme. Basically, when the main character in the video sees his reflection, he sees another person looking back at him. When his lover turns his body over in the water and sees a stranger’s face, she is seeing a part of her partner that has died. So I guess it was almost like a part of himself committed suicide.
Is there talk on doing a longer LP for the follow up to Pinscher?
Fineberg: That’s definitely the plan. We’ve begun writing a couple songs that we anticipate being on the full-length. That being said, we kind of rushed through some of the steps while recording Pinscher, primarily due to budget constraints and partially due to inexperience, and that’s something we don’t want to do again. We want to take our time on the LP and make sure we get everything right.
Veasey: We are planning on beginning to write a new record right after we release this EP. Hopefully we will get back in the studio in the next 6 or 8 months. We learned a lot about the process by recording and releasing this record, so we are excited to go even further with the next one.
With Fallow Land consisting of just two members full-time, do you ever find yourselves wanting to expand?
Fineberg: There are positives and negatives to the way we’ve been doing things. Musicians tend to be really busy and having to put everything on hold for one of the member’s schedule is something that can really stunt the growth of the band. We are happy with the musicians we are working with right now, Evan Laybourn (on drums) and Scott Kendall (on bass). I think everything will become clearer as we begin to record our follow-up LP.
Veasey: We really like playing with Scott Kendall and Evan Laybourn, and hope to continue working with them in the future. However, that being said, we think there are a lot of different advantages to having things organized the way they are now. Honestly, only time will tell. We are definitely open to the possibility of adding new people as permanent members though.
Dave Depper has made quite the musical career being a vital part of several Northwest bands. Acts like Menomena, Fruit Bats, Mirah, Corin Tucker, and Laura Gibson have all called upon Depper to be part of their projects. Today, Depper has solidified his role within the ranks of Death Cab for Cutie; after being a touring member for a year, Depper is onboard full-time.
Now comes the next step of Depper’s musical progression-the long awaited release of Emotional Freedom Technique. Written and recorded at his home in Portland during those short-term periods not being on the road, Depper went into shaping his debut. Everything Depper did with Emotional Freedom Technique was done by himself on purpose, from the writing to the instrumentals. Heavy on the synth pop and simple hooks, Emotional Freedom Technique brings to life the deeply rooted songs that were personal to Depper.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up Depper to discuss the production of Emotional Freedom Technique, how a night with friends led to him to go about writing for the album, and more. Here is what he said.
When purchasing a Farfisa organ from Chad Crouch (Hush Records/Blanket Music), he mentioned to you about playing bass. Having never played before, you agreed to do so. Now that some time has passed, have you ever confessed to Crouch about your fib?
Oh yes, I confessed pretty soon afterwards! It turned out that I kinda had a natural knack for bass playing, so it all worked out for everybody in the end.
You have played music with a long line of various musicians that all encompass different vibes. Having the opportunity to be around such a wide range of sound, what you say was the similarity that pulls it together?
I’m naturally drawn to musicians who are committed to doing things their own way, who nurture a unique aesthetic and don’t follow the prevailing trends.
Before becoming a full-time member of Death Cab for Cutie, you were about the join Ray LaMontagne’s touring band. What lead you to choose to go the other way?
I did join Ray’s touring band, and played with him for nearly a year!
Your lyrics for the album paint the picture of the struggle of being a traveling musician, relationship wise. Do you feel as if recording Emotional Freedom Technique was therapeutic? To help get some of those feelings out in the open?
Yes, absolutely. It’s probably the most therapeutic thing I’ve ever done, and that includes going to therapy! That’s a big part of why I gave the album the title it ended up with – it was an incredibly emotionally freeing experience.
You are stepping out as the lead singer/musician. Especially after all these years being in the supportive role of the band, how does it feel?
It’s been alternately frightening, exciting, panic-inducing, and triumphant. I’m not naturally very comfortable being in the spotlight, and I’ve had to work really hard to find the confidence in myself to really do it the right way. I’ve never put lyrics out in the world to be scrutinized, and though I’ve played thousands of concerts in my life I have rarely been the focal point of anybody’s attention. That said, I am enjoying myself and its fun to have this little side solo career that I can nurture when time allows.
Was there any point when you thought about scrapping Emotional Freedom Technique because of your vigorous touring schedule?
Oh, for sure. There were several times where I’d be on a roll with recording, only to leave for a couple of months and then return to find that I absolutely hated everything that I’d recorded before I left. And after a few years of this I began to wonder if the recordings were simply too old and that I needed to start on a fresh project. I’m glad I stuck with it. I also like that these songs kind of neatly sum up a multi-year period in my life.
If you and your friends never came up with the idea to write twenty songs in twelve hours, do you think you would have ever recorded an album like Emotional Freedom Technique?
I’m not really sure! I do think that I would have eventually become interested in the recording of electronic pop music, but that game was a definite catalyst that resulted in a jumping-off point for the entire album, musically speaking.
You have been fortunate to take part in a lot of amazing things in your music career. What is that you want to do next?
I’m very excited to be recording a new album with Death Cab later this year. And I’ve also begun working on my own next solo record. Emotional Freedom Technique is nominally a synthpop album, but I’m interested in taking some of the sounds I explored with it and just taking them as far as I can go on the next record- hopefully making something a bit darker and more avant-garde. There’s a lot of small song ideas that I’ve worked on thus far, and I can’t wait to grow them into whatever they’re meant to be.
A good number of bands start out when a handful of musicians simply plug in their gear and start jamming together. Whether it evolves into something special begs to be seen. With musician Nathan Peters, a night of hanging with friends on a cold December became a beacon of hope. A fuse was unexpectedly lit and sparked the creative fire that became Lioness.
For this unique project to suddenly jump to life was beyond ideal for Peters. His previous bands Captain of Industry and Swim Diver had slowed or ceased production and a potential outlet to create some solo output never fully materialized.
The arrangement of Lioness alone is etched within the history of the Dayton, Ohio, music scene. Such rich folklore within the project undeniably allows Lioness’ new album, Time Killer, to come off as a magnificent piece of indie rock and hints of other various genres. Peters and company exemplify a group that’s exciting, refreshing and fully-formed out of the gates.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Peters to discuss more about the band and Time Killer.
It’s been about year since the band posted the first video footage of Lioness playing music together. What has been the response been with the Facebook videos?
We had some pretty great responses, it’s a pretty great way to show people what you’re up to. We are going to be working on a music video with a local film maker in the next month!
How did the band get to be where it is today?
We started out as two people, then three, then five, then 11. We have so many people that put a ton of effort into producing the music, getting it out there. We have great strength in numbers in that regard.
When it comes to writing the music, how does the band go about piecing all of the ideas together?
We alternate Monday rehearsals, every other week is a song writing session with five members of the band. Its been fun to write lyrics with the core of the group. One of us will have an idea, then we bounce that around and craft it up, using imagery and word play.
A portion of the members have been involved in some of the great Dayton bands (Starving In The Belly Of The Whale, Motel Beds, Pig Eyed Jackson). With a range of influences within the band, what was the process with honing onto a collective sound?
Basically I am the coral around the farm yard animals, but seriously, we try to work within strong lines using a minimalist approach to everyone’s part in a song, which makes listening to 11 people perform not overwhelming and not sound like shit.
Time Killer was recorded with Micah Carli, formally with Hawthorne Heights. How was the recording process with him?
Micah Carli is a consummate professional, the likes of which I have only experienced previously with the extraordinary Noel Benford. Its easy for an audio engineer to rush the process and then you end up with something subpar. Micah not only doesn’t do this, he is honest and pushes you to get the best “good vibrations” possible. In his studio, Micah has a cross-stitched piece on his wall that states, “I don’t fuck around” and that pretty much sums it up!
I saw online that although the debut album hasn’t been released yet, the band has the second one almost written. Is the thinking that the group wants to release music in a fast pace?
I think a record a year would be great. It would be awesome to do five or six a year, but, it’s hard to keep up with that Pollard pace…
Lioness will be releasing their debut via Magnaphone Records. How exciting is it to be onboarding with the record label?
I think the goal of Magnaphone Records is amazing, which is to release old Dayton gems on vinyl, and slowly build up to releasing new vinyl as well. The days of the big record labels are numbered, and we are thrilled to be working with a local record company owned by someone the band knows and respects.
There was some discussions about taking the band out for regional touring. Is that still being discussed?
I think regional touring is the only thing we will be able to accomplish. There are so many great places to play in a 2-4 hour radius of Dayton! We are definitely going to focus on playing more and promoting the new album.
Lioness Time Killer will be released June 24 via Magnaphone Records.
Australian crooner Slow Dancer (the moniker for Simon Okely) saddled into a nice groove with his latest album In A Mood. Throughout the full-length, Okely mentioned that he pushed himself to go more ambitious and more expansive with his sound. Incorporating new instruments such as drum machines and elegant strings, In A Mood is hopelessly romantic and soft to the touch of the ear.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up Okely to talk more about Slow Dancer, just how much musical influence he picked from his parents, and how a relocation to the bustling city of Melbourne changed his life.
Your parents listened to quite a collection of 60s/70s rhythm and blues. What was it about those musicians that captivated you when growing up?
To be honest, not a lot. It wasn’t a diet of Nina Simone, Wilson Picket and Al Green, it was pretty station wagon rock kinda stuff. I hated the Doobie Brothers for ages, and thought Steely Dan where horrible. Van Morrison just seemed to be synonymous with driving to the beach on holiday’s so he kinda got a tick of approval from my child self. It really wasn’t until I was older when through his various interviews, Nick Cave gave me permission to like the Carpenters and I suddenly saw my childhood soundtrack very differently. Plus by then I was listening to everything blues, and loved how I could then see how the blues informed those artists. I also adored The Blues Brothers – to this day it is the only musical I can stand. They wore raybans at night, had slim fit suits and white socks, gave zero fucks, ate toast for dinner – as a good boy from the ‘burbs, I was captivated.
Your fondness for the city of Melbourne runs deep. What have you learned about yourself since moving to the town that continues to make stay enchanted with it?
I fell in love at first sight. I like the way the weather gives you a cold shoulder, but the people give you a warm embrace. People go into the city and do things, they invest their time in others, and in art of all forms. People are from all walks of life too, lots from interesting birth countries, everyone has a story, and people here in the city are for the most part, less afraid of the ‘other’.
Being a multi-instrumentalist, you incorporate a wide range of sounds within your recordings. Have you ever thought of assembling a band?
I have. And I have been in bands, as the writer, and as the hired gun. I am a kind, polite, control freak. It’s better when others don’t get in my way, for their safety and mine. They quite simply can’t hear it like I do.
You are a social worker during the day. What’s the story behind choosing to go down that path?
Well I’ve always had an interest in criminology and social justice. I probably went down the social work path because I’m one of those people who has heaps of empathy. Its a tool I use in both my careers. It’s my biggest strength and my occasional weakness.
How long was the recording for In A Mood?
I did some of the initial writing whilst traveling around Europe for 6 months, but I recorded it proper over the space of about 12 months. When I got sick of recording, I would go to work, when I got sick of work, I would record. It was a slow process, but It makes me happiest. Plus the rent gets paid on time that way.
Your lyrics for In A Mood are sensual and soft; tales that explore the many stages of romance and relationships. Have you found some of real life experiences coming into the lyrics?
Absolutely, I tried for brutal honesty with this record. I struggle at times with performing some of the songs because of it. But I’m one of those old romantics that think it is the responsibility of the artist try and capture nothing less.
You have some dates here in the States coming up. What are hoping to take in during your tour?
I love the states. Traveling by road is my favorite way of taking them in too. I adore Chicago because of my affinity with Blues and Jazz, and criminology. I cant wait to get back to the Green Mill!
Bloomington, Indiana’s own Hoops are about to head out to one of their first extensive tours in a matter of days, running through the US and United Kingdom. Before they embark on their voyage across the United States in support of their latest Routines (via Fat Possum Records), I was curious on how morale was with the troupe. Hoops member Keagan Beresford informed during our phone conversation that everyone is taking everything in stride. “It’s pretty relaxed,” he reveals. “We’re playing a lot of songs from the album, but we have learned a few ones we haven’t got the chance to get tour tight. We got some new equipment that we feel pretty good about and all of us are excited.”
Being a band that’s been loosely defined since its inception a few years ago, Hoops consist of Beresford, Drew Auscherman, and Kevin Krauter. Friends for a period of time, Hoops have released cassettes and a self-titled EP, which has earned them praise and accolades from several outlets. Hyper-melodic songs that are constructed around powerful pop chords, complex drum patterns, Hoops painfully work to make each song sound unique and distinctive. For the band’s full-length debut Routines, Hoops stayed true to themselves while growing as a stronger unit. “We have gotten used to the unpredictability of this lifestyle,” Beresford says. “I feel like that’s a lot of the dramatic material within (Routines). We have been playing in this band for a couple of years now. Now it’s whole different animal. It’s daunting, but we also take everything with a grain of salt. We are taking care of good care of ourselves and each other. There’s an element of pressure for sure, but we are doing it one day at a time; keeping our heads on straight.”
The band has definitely had some excitement building around it as of late, especially with all of the press.
Yeah…all that was pretty alien for us, because we have never done anything like that before. We have been playing together forever, so that’s been the easy part.
I saw that you were trying to keep a low profile for a while. What made the band change that approach?
We did at first just because we didn’t want to be that kind of group that tried to sell themselves super hard. We actually got on (Fat Possum) and if they were going to help support us by promoting us, there was going to be a little give and take to it. We became less sheepish about publicity and social media stuff. We are getting more used to it.
Exactly how long has everyone been together?
Drew, Kevin, and I have known each other since high school; I’ve known Kevin since sixth grade. Drew and I used to be an improv doom metal band together, which is kinda of an odd way to start our musical relationship (laughs). Kevin and I met at church and we were in a Christian rock band for a while together. The way the Hoops thing started was Drew started ambient music on his own and released a few recordings. It became a surf pop thing after that; Kevin, Drew, and our friend James that used to play drums with us. Then we started college and there was a break for a year. Drew write an album’s worth of full band-type songs and recruited us to play it; all of us started writing, releasing recordings. That’s how it’s got to where it is today.
Was everyone close to proximity with one another during college?
Kinda. Kevin and I both went to Ball State University; Drew was there for a year and went to Indiana. Kevin and I would spend most of our weekends there (in Bloomington). We would finish our classes on Friday, pack up, drive all the way to Bloomington, record all day and night or play a show in there somewhere, and drive back to school on Sunday night. It wasn’t good for my grades (laughs). It became how we spent most of our spare time. It was fun. House shows have their own special kind of energy then. It’s all we cut our teeth, playing a lot.
I read somewhere that they weren’t the best shows.
Yeah-depends on the show. There are all kinds of stories that come out of those. One time we were playing in a place and something got messed up. I think we were playing with Deeper, which is a Chicago band. The cops showed up at this house part and all of the underage kids scrammed so there was, like, ten people left. We played at two in the morning and I honestly don’t remember playing (laughs). The ten remaining people all just got really high and said that it was the best set that they have ever seen (laughs).
How big is the DIY scene around Bloomington?
It’s pretty strong. There’s a lot of house shows going on every weekend and everyone is pretty interconnected. Everybody is pretty supportive of each other’s bands and always is a good turnout. A really diverse spread of music happening. Not too many bands that sound like each other, but they are pretty much buds. Nobody is trying to do the same thing.
Speaking more about DIY, did Hoops wanted to continue to record Routines the same way as previous efforts?
All of the early recordings we did were done a four-track tape machine. When we did our EP, we did it all ourselves still. We didn’t enlist any outside help, but we did digitally on a computer. The trick with that was using the right tools at your disposal; we wanted to retain that lo-fi tape sound, but use the capabilities that computers have. We just are trying the find balance, I guess, because we aren’t interested in doing super high-fi albums. Our former drummer James Harrison – who is big on recording engineering – refers to it as “medium-fi”, which I think is a good label.
ong>Hoops recorded Routines at Rear House Recording in Brooklyn. You mentioned that ended up doing everything yourselves. What was the reasoning behind that?
It was an insane recording studio with every bit of analog equipment that you could want in one place. The thing that made it not so good for us was that we didn’t know what we wanted to sound like. All we had to go off with was the demo that we made that were done on four tracks. We shoot for something vaguely close to that and we wind up with a high quality, stripped down song. It wasn’t really happening. We got back from that and we were like, ‘Let’s fine tune this thing’. We mixed the whole thing ourselves, which was the hardest part.
It wasn’t a bad experience. We were just unexperienced. Jarvis (Taveniere) was really good with that. He would hear something and say, ‘Alright, this is the kind of direction that you want to take recording at. I’m going to mic the drums this way, use this amplifier, etc. He was definitely our guide in that sense.
Does that mean that the band is totally turned off with recording in a studio going forward?
Not really. I wouldn’t have anything against it. We did it all in really compressed time; a week here and a week there. A lot of time we wound up recording and mixing up literally up until the day we left for tour. We finished mixing our EP in the back of the van (laughs). We are trying to avoid that, just for the sake of professionalism and keeping our heads on straight. It will make the workflow a lot easier, because we are going to be working on the next album gradually during our time off.
The band worked hard to figure out where collectively you wanted to go. Did you feel that you find with Routines?
The term that we tend to use is “vibe finding”. There’s a lot of vibe finding to be done. As for our future sound goes, we all are listening to different stuff all the time. Usually we try to find common ground that we are all into. Lately, we are going through 80s FM radio hits, top forty hits/songs that we really love. For example, we like the way drums sound on a certain Tear for Fears song so we are going to employ that somehow.
Routinessounds as if the band already starting incorporating a 80s-influenced feel to it.
Yeah, I say so. We got really into synthesizers, which is such a big 80s signature thing. Prefab Sprout is probably our collective our favorite band that is a big influence on how we record and write. Also the tape machines that we were using to originally make the songs; they had a 80s sound to them. There are a lot of contemporary bands that we love and they play into what comes out. We are huge Radio Department fans. Making Routines, that was our standard of operation. We would mix something and say, ‘Oh that sounds like Radio Department-that’s good’ (laughs).