Tag Archive: “Featured”

 

Jasper The Colossal
Jasper The Colossal

After emerging in 2007, Jasper the Colossal became one of Dayton, Ohio’s most ferocious rock and roll bands. In addition to leaving sweat on nearly every stage the city had, Jasper also played all over the country, including shows with R. Ring, Girl in a Coma, The Dollyrots, and Hunter Valentine. The band was also active in the studio, recording and self-releasing an EP (Prehistoric) and a full-length (Liar). And in 2013 they disappeared.

After a year-long hiatus, in which the band to regrouped and wrote, Jasper returns with a hometown show on November 8 and plan on hitting the pavement hard in 2015. They are also scheduled to begin recording a follow up to Liar this fall, with hopes to release a single and video by the end of the year. 

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Jasper’s Paige Beller to discuss the band’s legacy and future plans. This is what she said.

For those who’ve not heard Jasper The Colossal, how do you describe the band?

We like to dance up and down the lines between punk, indie and good old fashioned rock and roll.

You also have several other musical projects going.  How do you know what is a Jasper song and what is best for another project?

I’m lucky to be in different bands of different genres. It keeps my multiple musical personalities happy. Jasper generally writes together, with me writing the lyrics at the end. However sometimes I’ll be playing around and something will just hit me. I feel like Jasper has little unique things about it that make it ours, and it’s usually pretty obvious to me if I start to fall into that while writing on my own. Then I present it to Sarah and Moriah who help to develop the rest.

Is it difficult to still find the same energy to put towards a band after seven years?  What is it about your partnership that makes it work?

I think being in a band can be hard for anyone. It’s a very emotional experience and sometimes things don’t go the way you’d hoped. I think that Moriah, Sarah and I have managed to get inside each other’s heads and really know what to expect from each other as people. The energy has been there pretty consistently through the years, but we definitely noticed a sort of lag before our last show. I think that contributed to us taking some time off. Refresh and regroup. Now we’re looking to come back hard.

What can we expect from the follow-up to Liar?

There are some songs that people will recognize from the live shows. It’s given us a lot of time to really think about those old-new songs and develop them live, which is always nice. We’ve also got some new-new songs for the November 8 show, and will continue to write and start the recording process through the winter. The latest songs we’ve been working on still have the same flavor, but we still haven’t written that catchy fast paced punk song we’re familiar with. It seems that we’ve taken a bit more of a layered approach. More backing vocals, more texture. And we’ve been a bit mid tempo lately, so I think this full length will have a kind of wavy feeling to it.

Where are you recording it, and how did you decide that would be the right environment for the record?

We will be doing a bulk of the recording at a studio outside of Richmond, Indiana. We recorded Liar there with our friends Greg and Jerry engineering. It’s a really cool converted farm house in the middle of nowhere. It forces us to focus and really buckle down. We wake up early, record all day, break for Mexican food, and then record some more.

Is the record completely written?

We’re about nine songs deep into the next album, but we’d like to get a few more together to round it out.

Will you be looking for label support for the record or self-releasing it?

We will be self-releasing unless something comes along. It’s still pretty early in the process at the moment. So if you know anyone who’s interested…

In the past you’ve played with nationally recognized rock acts like R. Ring and Girl In A Coma.  What were those experiences like?

It’s pretty incredible to get to share a stage with someone so significant as Kelley Deal. When we were asked to play the show at South Park Tavern with them, we were stunned and scared as hell! But Kelley and Mike are so very down to earth and nice.

Kelley invited me out to sing and play guitar on a video with her, and it was completely surreal. I was homeless at the moment, crashing a buddies futon and without any transportation, so I got dropped off in front of her house, just a complete wreck, thinking the whole time “Keep it together….this is Kelley-fucking-Deal!” The whole thing was so cool.

As for Girl In A Coma, I cannot say enough about that band. As people they’re nice as hell, as a band they are one of my favorites, and their live show is so inspiring. I have definitely picked up a thing or two from watching Nina destroy her guitar, and they have certainly influenced Jasper on many levels. Plus, playing with any band that I admire like that really makes me up my game. I’ve been really lucky to find that the people I look up to are generally pretty awesome.

Will you be touring in 2014 or 2015 in support of the record?

I sure hope so! We really want to start working the surrounding areas, Cincy, Columbus, Indianapolis, and start to build a base. We’ve done the long tours in the past, and it’s a great experience, but it’s so hard to get back there in a timely manner so that people stay interested. I’ve been really trying to pick the brains of the working musicians I know, and it’s really made me rethink how I look at booking. That being said, I’d still like to get out west again. And south. Everywhere really.

(Visit the band here: https://www.facebook.com/jasperthecolossal.)

Ready Astronaut
Ready Astronaut

Ready Astronaut, the Kansas City future-folk project of The Slowdown’s Josh Johnson, releases his self-titled debut album on CD and digital formats this week, which is laden with concepts of heartbreak, wanderlust and self-discovery.

The album is rooted in earthy folk-rock, adding modern textures and experimental flourishes and exploring unconventional rhythms and slinky grooves in keeping with his work with The Slowdown, but departing significantly from the full band’s heavier rock elements, as well as the more synth-oriented funk territory that the band had begun to move into on The Slowdown’s most recent album, 2014’s sophomore full-length Digital Gold.

Ready Astronaut has shared the stage recently with Radio Moscow.

Today, Ghettoblaster is offering a stream of the record. Enjoy it below:

The Afghan Whigs
The Afghan Whigs

(Editor’s Note: This feature was originally published in Ghettoblaster Magazine issue #38.  Issue #39 is on newsstands now.)

Though The Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli long denied that the powerful rock band would ever reunite in an official capacity, long time Whigs fans kept fingers crossed, holding out hope that Dulli’s occasional gigs with John Curley would spark a full blow reunion for the former-Cincinnati outfit.  What fans didn’t know, was that Dulli was bonding behind closed doors with Whigs guitarist Rick McCollum during the Twilight Singers 2011 spring tour, and that the seed of reuniting the band was taking roots.  In November 2011, the three convened for several days in New Orleans, conjuring an old black magic that had been kept under wraps for years.

Originally formed in Cincinnati in 1986 by the core trio of Curley, Dulli, and McCollum, the group combined sheer volume, audacious personality, gritty soul immediacy, and swinging musical chops; a sound that propelled them to the top tier of Cincinnati’s music scene almost immediately and later captured the attention of a small, fledgling label out of Seattle called Sub Pop. Sub Pop signed the Whigs in 1989, and the group commenced to rearrange the landscape of ’90s alternative rock (amidst contemporaries like Nirvana, Tad and Soundgarden) for years as one of indie rock’s juggernauts. 

The band’s landmark albums Gentlemen and Black Love (which were released by Elecktra) saw the band getting MTV airplay, they made appearances on network television, and the Whigs embarked on larger and larger tours.  The band’s sixth and final album, 1965, for Columbia would unfortunately prove to be the core trio’s final album together. 

Although Dulli continued making music with The Twilight Singers and The Gutter Twins (alongside Mark Lanegan), and McCollum and Curley have remained forces in independent music in Minnesota and Cincinnati respectively, longtime fans of the cult band always felt like the Whigs story had a few additional chapters that were left unwritten. 

In December 2011 it finally happened – the band announced that they’d be doing appearances at All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in London in 2012.  Dulli also signed on as the curator for ATP’s stateside edition on September 22 in Asbury Park, New Jersey.  Though this was exciting news for many fans, and the Whigs pacified us briefly with covers of Marie Lyons’ “See and Don’t See” and Frank Ocean’s “Lovecrimes, anticipation of a full blown U.S. tour and perhaps an album, kept diehards chomping at the bit. The tour happened and it was remarkable, showing a band who was hungrier after years of inactivity than perhaps they were in their earlier prime.

Do To The Beast marks the triumphant return of the band to both their onetime label Sub Pop, and recording in an official capacity. Although Rick McCollum is absent, and details surrounding his departure are sketchy, Afghan Whigs unleash and deploy their arsenal of aural dark drama and suspense in ways that only a troupe with years of unrelenting practice in pop vitriol can, leaving fans satiated and satisfied.

Ghettoblaster recently chatted with Dulli about the catalysts that brought them to these killer new heights

When we spoke in 2012 you were pretty non committal as to whether a new album was in the works for Afghan Whigs. Had the possibility of doing a new record not occurred to you then?

Not really, no. I was just kind of rolling in the moment man.

At what point did you turn to John Curley and say this is something we should think about? Or did he bring it up?

He brought it up to me after the Usher gig at SXSW in 2013.

Was there a creative spark at that gig that put it on the “to do list” for you?

The experience of putting together that show…we basically had 48 hours to create a show and perform it with Usher at South By. And it kind of reminded me of being a teenager and having a gig a few days away and having to make a show. I hadn’t really done anything like that in a long time. It was a joyful experience for lack of better words.

So it brought fun back to what you’d been doing as a career for a long time?

I like to think that I’ve always had fun, but sometimes there is a moment that you are like…there was something about that experience that I hadn’t felt in a while. And after we performed it, at like 6 in the afternoon, when we were back at the hotel having dinner it was resonating. And that’s when John asked me, “Do you want to try to make a record.” I said, “Let’s book some time and see what happens.” So that was mid-March and we took some time in early May and we were on our way.

Was Usher involved in the record in any way then?

His guitar player plays on one song. Usher himself was not involved.

But really exciting for the Ohio contingent is that you’vee collaborated with Mark McGuire of Emeralds and Ahmed Gallab of Sinkane…

Ahmed isn’t on the record, but he did one of his songs at the South By Southwest show. And he performed with us, but he isn’t on the record Mark McGuire is on the record. He performs on half the record having played on five songs.

How did you meet him and how did he become involved?

I actually got him a scoring job in LA. A friend of mine was producing a film, but I don’t think it ever came out. It had Brian Cranston in it. Anyway, they need a composer and I recommended Mark. At that point, I still had never met him. But they listened to his music and hired him and I met him later when they took him out to dinner…they invited me. So I met him at that dinner a couple years ago and we’ve been friends ever since.

That said, you’ve never been shy about collaborating, and allowing that interaction to ignite a fire in you. Have other core members of Afghan Whigs always been on the same page in that way?

I’ve met a lot of people along the way and I’m not shy about introducing myself to people that I’m a fan of. In that respect, I guess I would be the driver. But I’m also not imposing my will on anybody. It is accepted by all.

There was one former collaborator noticeably absent. Without getting too far into the weeds on this question or too intrusive, was it weird to do the record without Rick McCollum involved?

Weird? No. The writing was kind of on the wall with Rick during the tour. I think that may have been why I was noncommittal about a record doing the tour. It was kind of a liberating experience…I have nothing bad to say about Rick. I love him. But Rick has things to work out in his life before he can be creative or otherwise with anything that I have anything to do with.

Several years ago, I had a friend who was touring the a musician who was in an infamous and storied alt-rock band in the ’90s. Things were on the rails for a while and then being in those old situations where temptation is heavy made that sort of a miserable experience for all involved. Was that kind of thing going on there?

No, no. It’s more of a personal issue. I’ll just leave it at that.

Over the last couple decades I imagine you’ve seen more than a few people you may have at one time considered contemporaries have their trains jump the tracks in terms of their output losing focus or poignancy amidst their fanbases.  How have you managed to avoid these pitfalls?

Um…switching groups (laughter). That is one way of doing it. I like everybody else do what I do and try to believe in it to the best of my abilities. Chances are if you are feeling something and you have a way of expressing yourself that folks have come to enjoy…I’ve never had a huge audience anyway. But I’ve been very lucky in that this group of people have adopted me and taken me in as one of their own. That is my fortunate lot in life. And I’ve hopefully made music that they’ve enjoyed over the course of this long career I’ve been fortunate enough to have.

Sure. Is Do To The Beast an album that had been bottled up for 16 years or is it more a document of the time and place for where Afghan Whigs today? Is it a little of both?

I think it is a document of its time and place. It happened really fast. It happened organically. It was the outcome of circumstance really.

Much of the album was recorded at Josh Homme’s Pink Duck studio. How long were you there and what was that creative environment like for you guys?

He has a great studio and a great engineer named Justin Smith who works there. We did two different sessions there. He’s got a great board, great gear, a great live room, great microphones. You’d have to be fucking up not to pull something great out of there, you know?

He’s an opinionated sort of personality. Did he pop in and weigh in on what you were doing at all?

No, he was there the first day when we arrived to welcome us to the studio and then he was off on tour.

The video for “Algiers” was the first that fans got a taste of, and it had perhaps a significantly different flavor than everything you have done before. Were you throwing fans a curve ball?

No, it was just a song we liked. I don’t know if you have heard the record, but there are some curve balls to throw. We have a repertoire of pitches. There are curve balls, sliders, screw balls, fast balls, knuckle balls. We have it all.

You approach, a soul and blues based approach, has always been sort of a distancing factor between you and your peers. It was apparent in the ’90s while the grunge movement was happening, and it is apparent now. I don’t know that there are a lot of folks playing in the same ballpark you are. Do you believe that or see it differently?

I don’t really see us doing anything that the Rolling Stones didn’t do. There are styles of music that turn you on and you appropriate the parts that work for you and that you can perform sincerely and you do what comes naturally. Making this sound is as natural to me as falling asleep or making love. So it is nothing I think about constantly to be honest with you.

There has to be a confidence level now, at this point in your life, that may have not have always been there with relationship to the Afghan Whigs. How important is having confidence and being self assured to your success?

It has been there for me since I tried out for the basketball team in third grade man. You have to dare to fail in order to succeed. While I’m just like anyone else and have my doubts and insecurities, you can’t let them own you. Confidence is a way of life.

So having swagger is a key element of success?

Believing in yourself is a key element of success. If you don’t, no one will.

The Ghost Wolves
The Ghost Wolves

(This feature originally appeared in Ghettoblaster Magazine, issue #38.  Pick up issue #39 at a newsstand now.)

Carley and Jonny Wolf carry the name The Ghost Wolves proudly and deservedly.  It’s both a symbol of the band’s sound and a nod to Carley’s ranch upbringing among hybrid wolves. As their moniker suggests, this Austin, Texas husband and wife duo deliver raw blues, garage rock and American roots that’s ferocious and primal.

The band has been rabidly touring the country since releasing their debut in mid-2011. Despite their young ages – mid-‘20s – both have been lifelong devotees of the rock lifestyle. Multi-instrumentalist Carley fronted her first rockabilly group at age 14, performed internationally as a backing musician with several groups, and as bassist for Johnny Falstaff.  Similarly, Jonny has toured and recorded with everyone from Gregg Ginn to Junior Brown.

Their new album Man, Woman, Beast hit shelves in May on Nashville’s Plowboy Records, home to records from label partner Cheetah Chrome of The Dead Boys, Buzz Cason, Bobby Bare, Chuck Mead, JD Wilkes & The Dirt Daubers, Paul Burch and an all-star tribute to Eddy Arnold, who’s grandson Shannon Pollard is also a label partner.

Man, Woman, Beast is us in a literal sense; a man, a woman, and our 120 pound beast [a wolf hybrid] who goes everywhere with us,” Jonny says. “But also, metaphorically, this band is a beast, for us personally.  It is all consuming, everyday, we’re working on this, writing, touring, recording new songs, booking gigs, making videos, merchandising, handling the business. It’s a full time job and then some.

“We’re also big fans of music that isn’t sugar coated, because life isn’t sugar coated.  So we always include the dark, the violent, the uncomfortable in our music along with the sublime, the love, the good things,” he adds.

There is lots of “good” to be had on the album. Written in a secluded rehearsal den in Knoxville, Tennessee in the summer of 2012, the band enlisted the help of a production team consisting of Gordy Johnson (of Big Sugar) and Ben Richardson to bring the songs to life.

“They really helped facilitate a good-vibe environment in the studio for us, helped keep things on track, and most importantly wear our ear extensions in the control room,” Jonny recalls.  “They did not at any time try to dramatically change our sound or alter our dream for this album.  They truly were there to just help us amplify what we had in mind and attain it in the best sounding way possible.”

Also helping out was Howie Weinberg, a man whose work is present on some of the most influential rock albums of all time (Beastie Boys, Nirvana, Metallica) mastered the album.

With nothing but a four-piece drum kit and an electric guitar, The Ghost Wolves create a huge sound. “Gonna Live,” shows similarities to The White Stripes. “Baby Fang Thang,” showcases Carley’s bare-boned electric guitar and devilish vocals. And the heavy, femme fatale track “Shotgun Pistol Grip,” recorded on Carley’s signature one-string guitar, was recently featured on this season of Shameless.

One track that didn’t end up making the final cut features a rather unlikely collaborator. “There’s an unreleased version of ‘Gonna Live’ in the vault that has Bushwick Bill from the Geto Boys rapping on it,” Jonny says. “We haven’t had a proper hang with him yet though. We had already left for tour when he came to the studio late one night and Gordy showed him the album. Apparently he dug it, and decided to lay down some of his sweet goodness on one of our tracks, for fun. Not sure how we will release that one yet, maybe as a limited edition single.

“We did see him perform one night at The Continental Club in Austin with Gordy’s drum/guitar duo Sit Down Servant. It was a very late weekday set, like 1am or something and he had everyone in the room in the palm of his hand, just vibing along with him. He’s magnetic, cheerful, and honest, in the moment. With the duo behind him, Gordy on foot bass synthesizer and slide guitar, and the drummer laying it down, it sounded like some incredible music from the future.”

Speaking of the future, it remains both bright and busy as The Ghost Wolves hit the road in support of Man, Woman, Beast.

“We’re going to be touring pretty non-stop,” Jonny says.  “It’s what we love to do; just play shows and hopefully take some time to write in the winter around Austin.  But the fun part about all of this is that things tend to change daily, so we’re always waiting to see what’s around the corner.”

Print issue #39 of Ghettoblaster will be hitting shelves near you any day!

It’s a great one too, featuring Shabazz Palaces on the cover and interviews from Shellac, Dilated Peoples, Electric Wizard, The Black Angels, The New Pornographers, Blonde Redhead, Flying Lotus, Zola Jesus, plus America’s Funnyman Neil Hamburger, Cinemax‘s The Knick, Valiant Hearts: The Great War, Oni Comics‘ Black Metal, Ticket to Ride‘s Alan R. Moon and so, so, so much more!

You can order a copy soon over here, or you can fill out this form to subscribe for a whole year’s worth of Ghettoblaster delivered straight to your door!

Grieves
Grieves

Earlier this year, Seattle rapper Grieves returned to deliver his fourth studio album, Winter & The Wolves, on Rhymesayers Entertainment. The insatiable, devil-may-care MC is well known for his meticulous exploration of life, love and loss, through a unique medley of hip-hop and soulful music. Together with B. Lewis, Grieves created 14 new tracks, combining organic pianos and guitars with boisterous synthesizers, to paint a colorful backdrop for his unique blend of rapping and singing.

A reflection on growth and maturity, Winter & The Wolves is about the instinctual fight for survival. It’s about suddenly finding that you’re all alone, facing countless hindrances to your livelihood, and having the courage to overcome them all. Tackling difficult obstacles like addiction and heartbreak, Grieves wrestles with the realization that life doesn’t get any easier as you get older. His signature combination of humor and gloom culminate to depict the struggle of a man’s inner turmoil between abandoning the dreams of his youth, and carving out a new path for himself in this world.

Tammy from Ghettoblaster Magazine recently caught up with the MC during his “A Different Kind of Wild” tour. This is what he told us about not making Peruvian pan flute music:

Single Cover
Single Cover

Kansas City electronic artist White Girl is fresh off an appearance at Dancefestopia, headlined by R3hab, DVBBS and MAKJ among others. White Girl is preparing to release his forthcoming 7” “M.E.T.R.O.R.O.C.K.” b/w “Cocky” on November 4 on vinyl and digital formats through Nice, Nice Records.

White Girl, the brain-child of Martin Bush, is a live electronic dance-infused romp through eternal fields of post-punk grasses and rolling new wave hills. Bush’s dual inspirations for the forthcoming 7″ were Kraftwerk’s Computer World and Prince’s Purple Rain, and Kansas City newspaper The Pitch praises the release for the way that it “moves subtly between Kavinsky-style vocodered electronics and big, shimmering guitars.”

Bush previously fronted rock/pop band Audiovox (winner of “Best New Act” 2009 and “Best Pop Act” 2010 at Kansas City’s Pitch Music Awards), and played at the last three SXSW festivals, CMJ 2012 and Middle Of The Map fest, in addition to performing non-festival sets with Ra Ra Riot, Passion Pit, Owl City, Parallels, Inner Party System, Glass Animals, El Ten Eleven, Cinnamon Chaser and Airborne Toxic Event.

Today Ghettoblaster has a premiere of the 7″‘s A-side, which you can enjoy here:

Black Map (photo by Jen Cash)
Black Map (photo by Jen Cash)

From day one, the members of San Francisco’s Black Map possessed one common goal. So what united singer and guitarist Ben Flanagan (Trophy Fire), guitar player Mark Engles (Dredg), and drummer Chris Robyn (Far) in 2013? Simply, to create a band that was both heavy and beautiful.

They find it on their full-length debut for minus HEAD Records, And We Explode. Sharing a long history, Trophy Fire supported Dredg many times on the road with Ben even filling in as a touring guitarist, while both groups embarked on full tours with Northern California icons Far on more than one occasion. The three musicians clicked from the jump. Musically, a wall of distortion wraps around polyrhythmic percussion as Ben’s transfixing vocals instantly captivate. It ignites their career together and fuels this undeniably heavy journey.

Within a month of their first jam session, the trio hit Hellam Sound in Oakland with producer Aaron Hellam behind the board. They cut their independent Driver EP and went on to support Chevelle on tour and play various shows with the likes of ††† (Crosses), Tombs, Pelican, and Kill Devil Hill. In early 2014, they inked a deal with minus HEAD Records for the release of …And We Explode. The name Black Map suggests unexplored territory and uncharted waters. That’s precisely where these artists have gone, and they’ve found exactly what they were looking for at the start of the journey.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Flanagan to discuss their journey so far. This is what he told us.

When did you begin writing the material for …And We Explode?   

When we recorded our four song EP we just kind of went ahead and did it; there was not too much thought in exactly what our plan was. After we signed with Minus Head we had our sights set on a full length. We loved the four songs from the EP and knew we would want to absorb them onto the album. We essentially just kept up the writing process that this band had started with: not overthinking, just getting in the room together and trying to come up with songs that felt powerful, beautiful and we were proud of.

How does Black Map’s creative process differ from the of your previous efforts in Dredg, Far and The Trophy Fire?

I can really only speak for myself but the writing process is not entirely different from my other projects but the final outcome differs. This band is generally heavier than our other projects.

What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing?  Why was it so troublesome?

The song “Chinaski” went through a lot of phases. The verse chords were completely different during the songs inception. I wasn’t able to find anything vocally that was making any of us feel anything so we went back to the drawing board and Mark and I sat down with an acoustic guitar and completely revamped the song. We are so much happier with it now.

Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song? 

I wrote most of the music to “Eyes on the Prize” on an acoustic guitar in my bedroom. Even though it isn’t the heaviest track on the album it changed its shape pretty drastically once we got in a room. It started off sounding probably somewhere in the middle of Elliot Smith/Sun Kill Moon and ended up sounding like a huge Black Map tune.

 Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?

Nope. This one was all us. we spoke about it. maybe down the line.

Who produced the record?  What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?

Our close friend Aaron Hellam produced the album. I had worked with him many times in The Trophy Fire and we did the four-song Driver EP with him as well. Not only does Aaron get great tones but he has an amazing ear and great musical mind. The three band members definitely wrote all of the material but he is masterful in communicating how to get the most out of every take, especially vocally. We have a good enough report at this point he can tell me if something I am doing is shit and I won’t get offended.

Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?

The album is mostly about a reaction to discord and chaos: how we react when faced with the insanity of the world. Sometimes we face it, sometimes we run away.

Have you begun playing these songs live during your tours with Tombs, Chevelle and Crosses and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans? 

We have played every song from the album with the exception of the final song “And We Explode pt. 2.” ” I’m just the Driver,” “Code,” and “Melee” are definitely live favorites.

Mike Hill from Tombs is a long-time friend of ours.  He’s super into mixed martial arts.  Did you get any workout tips from him?

Nice. I did not know that. I remember they were very good but I don’t remember too much about that night. I think we took down a bottle of Jameson pretty expeditiously backstage. I probably tried to my own brand of drunken Kung Fu at some point that night.

Chevelle has asked you to join them in Europe, right?  Are you excited for that tour?

Nope. Not at all.

Fuck yeah we are! Touring with them in the states was absolutely bonkers! They have amazingly awesome fans and are (I hope they wouldn’t get mad at me for saying) the nicest guys in the world. We get even more fans reaching out to us from Germany and the rest of Europe than in the states so we are really excited to get out there and play for them.

Have you begun writing the next record yet, or are you concentrating primarily on the album cycle for this record?

I came up with a riff on the piano I liked the other day, but that is as close as any songwriting I have done for the next album. Hope to begin writing soon.

(Visit Black Map here: http://www.blackmapmusic.com/.)

L.E.O.
L.E.O.

There are rappers that rap about their fantasies of getting paid, and then there are the other ones who stay true to the game. While their subject matter might not connect with a mainstream audience, they’re nevertheless effective at reaching their fans and make sure the connection between the artist and fan is genuine. One of those emcees is Love Equals Omnipotence, (otherwise known as L.E.O.). You’ll never catch the Flushing Queens’ emcee speaking out of line from his Boom bap basement roots, even with the one-time support of Large Professor.

The sequel to last year’s Whatever Is Necessary, Vol. 2Left Out Stranded Everywhere brings L.E.O. back to the free flowing narrative that fans have enjoyed. Now that he’s a little older, and a little wiser, Love has used the sequel to look on his career and his plans for the near future. With songs like “Aquaman” and “Thailand Hustle,” the emcee breaks the conventional frame of today’s rappers and reveals topics that everybody can relate to. What’s cool to note is that L.E.O.’s wife, Mrs. Raic, makes a couple of appearances on the tracks “Extremity (So Special)” and the closer “L.O.S.E.” Left Out Stranded Everywhere is now available for free download, courtesy of SoundCloud, and AudioMack (instant download).

Today Ghettoblaster offers a listen to the effort. Check it out here:

Tracklist:

01. Aquaman (feat. Hellspawn Darkness)

02. Nueve Uno (feat. The Fallout Shelter)

03. Extremity (So Special) [feat. Mrs. Raic]

04. Apologetic (feat. Hellspawn Darkness)

05. Thailand Hustle (feat. Hellspawn Darkness & Carnage)

06. L.O.S.E. (feat. HellSpawn Darkness & Mrs. Raic)

Visit Leo here:

• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/love.equalsomnipotence

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/LuvEquals

JoyCut
JoyCut

Italy’s foremost dark-wave  exponents, JoyCut, create mesmerizing, primarily instrumental music that’s experimental yet accessible.  They interweave electronic, keyboard-driven melodies with percussion performed on found objects from the urban landscape into powerful, haunting sonic tapestries that are alternately biting and mellow.  Based in Bologna, the quartet formed in 2001, taking their name from the conceptual conjunction between the Nick Drake song “Joey” and the Pink Floyd album The Final Cut.

Two years later JoyCut released the first of a long series of EPs and compilation tracks leading up to the 2007 release of their debut album The Very Strange Tale of Mr. Man.  This was followed four years later by GhostTreesWhereToDisappear, which was acclaimed by critics at home, as well as throughout Europe and England.  Joycut quickly garnered loyal fanbases in Italy, the UK and most of Europe touring with acts including The Editors, Art Brut, Modest Mouse, Arcade Fire and Sebadoh.

Ghettoblaster caught up with vocalist/keyboardist Pasco Pezzillo during the band’s second major North American tour in support of their third album (released in September via Irma Records), PiecesOfUsWereLeftOnTheGround.  This is what he told us about their creative process, Mr. Man, environmentalism, and their AudioTree session.

How do you balance being experimental and creative with delivering music that is also accessible.  Is this a conscious move during your creative process?                    

I think we are becoming more accessible with each passing day. In fact, since we released the album, our accessibility is shown every time we’re invited to return to a venue for a repeat performance! It would seem people are getting used to and are enjoying our philosophy of sound. Ultimatley, there’s no way we can submit our creative process to satisfy any other’s needs.

Have you found that European audiences are more receptive to your sound, or have U.S. audiences been equally or more receptive?        

U.S. audiences right now have been equally receptive, actually they’ve been fantastic! We have to admit that occationally someone does not understand why we don’t use guitars or bass guitars or even vocals for a good part of the show, so they leave, and probably because they are not interested in that kind of live offer. Of course there are infinitive way to approach live music, Many want to see people with technical skills on stage, presenters who entertain with stories or by introducing the title of the songs explaining this and that… They do not really want to listen to the work you created as an artist. That being said, apart from some little American towns with a great traditional and folk standard attitude, wherever we have been we had super feedbacks and encouragement.

Do you pay attention to what your peers are doing?  Who are some acts that you consider to be your peers?                                                                                                             

Not really, even if it should be important. Personally I am out of this scene, I do not care to be part of it. I am not the type of guy who follows million bands or who wants to have followers on twitter. I use this stuff just as a communicative tools. I just want to develop my sense of perception. I like getting lost in other art fields aside from the music. I do like loads of acts we had the chance to meet on stage during our tours: The Bells, Skating Polly, Diamonds Bones, Microfossils, Natas Loves You, Mr.Nô, Comausure.

What are some of the predominant lessons you’ve learned over the last 11 years of making music?

The first one is that there are few people really in love with what they do. The majority are in it for the money or for other futile reasons. The other couple of things I’ve learned:                                             There are no rules, no successful ingredients or strategy; those are bullshit. The most important thing is to be your self and care about the authenticity of the art you spread.

Where did the idea for Mr. Man come from?

Passing the magic childhood beauty period, growing up, we realized this world is falling into pieces. Individuals are completely alone. People get in touch just for personal purposes and interest. Environmentally speaking we are collapsing. So we imagined what an alien could think of our life system watching it from another point of view. Here Mr.Man comes. He is an alien, with this dichotomy in his name, he called Mr.Man and even appearing so different and afar from our culture, at the end of the day he is the only one who maintains our forgotten human sensitivity. He takes care of beauty, of others, of the planet.

Do you consider yourselves environmentalists?  If so, how do those concepts leach into your sound?

Nowadays to consider ourselves environmentalist is pretty hard. We are forced to fall into contradictions even playing a fair part in this game. But yes, for a certain point of view we are environmentalist. We are first of all, citizens of the world community, so we have to respect the place where we are hosted and at the same time we gotta defend it. We seriously pay attention to our mission also through our music. We would like just to make our experience valid and curious for other people. It is possible in this over spending time to respect some little and useless rules in order to make the world a better place.

Who was Domenico Lorusso and how did he inspire PiecesOfUsWereLeftOnTheGround?      

Domenico “is” a childhood brother from our hometown, one of the good guys who died too young! A very authentic bloke, a talented engineer who was achieving his professional aims in Monaco [Germany] where he used to live. One day meanwhile he was getting back to his house by bicycle with his girlfriend, she was attacked by an unknown dodgy guy. He run to defend her and this ignoble one came out with a knife and passed Domenico’s life away. That’s horrible and still unbelievable! All our feelings and sweet thoughts are for him. PiecesOfUs is for him. We won’t forget his sense of peace and his marveled energy.

Do you have to rent or borrow specialized gear when you tour the U.S. or do you bring it with you?  Is it extremely difficult to work out the logistics of a tour abroad?                                                                                                                          

The first time we came for the massive six weeks spring tour we just brought with us our personal instruments and not substitutable particular machines. We’ve flown shipping in cut-to size flight cases and once in the U.S. we bought all the rest, all we needed. We left everything in storage and at this second stage we were already set. Of course we do not live with our usual musical conforts, but the set is still powerful and functional. We usually ask for sharing some back line [amps] from the venue or with the other bands.

You recently did an amazing AudioTree session?  Did you feel good playing that and were you happy with the results?                                    

That place is so cool! It’s been a fantastic experience. Apart from playing, we must admit it, all the staff were absolutely kind and enthusiastic. They do love what they do. I discovered great acts through AudioTree sessions, one of them is The Pines! Love them. We are pretty happy with the results, we were so tired that morning, you can tell watching at our faces cause we were coming after five weeks on tour, but the live recording was so comfortable and magic. When we play we get relaxed, it’s a sort of therapy, it digs you inside but at the end you find your peace. At the end of the day it was just like recording a record. Once more we were in Chicago!

Can you tell us a little bit about your contribution to the Visa World Cup online music celebration?

We have been asked to write this sort of hymn for the world cup… representing our country, our culture, our roots. Using instruments such as violin or mandolin. We used both, reinterpreting them in our way, giving an actual image of our nation, through our personal sound, considering nowadays Italy is a place full of art and cultural polygamy. Modern and hopefulness.

Have you ever had Cincinnati-style chili, or do you plan to try it during your stop there?

Never had yet. Ready to try it.

(Visit JoyCut here: http://www.joycut.com/.)