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McDonald’s Blasted for Asking Indie Band to Play SXSW for Free

McDonald’s Blasted for Asking Indie Band to Play SXSW for Free

Music fans are up in arms after indie duo Ex Cops told fans that last week McDonald’s had asked them to perform at South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas and wanted to compensate them only with food.

Amalie Braun and Brian Harding of the Brooklyn-based duo may not be household names but they have been signed to a small label and are successful enough to make a living from performing, reports Business Insider.

After receiving the offer from the burger chain, an offended Harding took to Facebook to express just why he was so upset. As a selling point to take the gig, Harding explained that McDonald’s said the performance be “a great opportunity for additional exposure,” and that the chain “will have their global digital team on site to meet with the bands, help with cross promotion, etc.”

Harding stated that he doubted what this obscure jargon actually meant—and suggested the chain probably has little idea either.

“Getting past that rhetoric, at the very least a big corporation like McDonald’s can at least pay their talent a little. Right?...It is a horrifying and gross reality when one sees the true nature of corporations and their pathetic attempts to achieve relevance with millennials," Harding wrote.

Harding's original post has received over 10,000 likes and more than 700 comments since being posted. Most fans echo the musician's sentiments and call out the burger chain for being "ridiculous" and "cheap."

McDonald’s, which is currently worth about $97 billion, responded to Harding, in defense of its initial offer.

“We follow the same standard protocol as other brands and sponsors by inviting talented and emerging musicians to join us at the SXSW Festival. We look forward to serving McDonald's food, drinks and fun in Austin. #slownewsday"

But Bruun told Rolling Stone the fact that this they didn’t offer payment for the performance is simply “not true.”

“They're not following any guidelines because everyone else is offering money,” Bruun told the music magazine. “They'll have to take that up with South by Southwest if they think they're following the guidelines ... Other, much smaller corporations are offering us money."

The Ex Cops have several scheduled performances in Austin, including one sponsored by smaller companies like Pandora—which is paying the band for their time.

McDonald’s may be trying to reach more youngsters by enhancing their presence at the popular music, technology and culture festival, but so far seems to be alienating many people in the social media sphere after news of their gratis offer to the Ex Cops was made public.

In December, McDonald's Chief Digital Officer released a statement announcing the chain's upcoming sponsorship at SXSW. He stated the goal was to "improve the SXSW experience for everyone" with new features in their McDonald's lounge.

This article was originally published by Fox News.

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Angry Birds

Angry Birds is a Finnish action-based media franchise created by the Finnish company Rovio Entertainment. The series focuses on the angry birds that try to save their eggs from green-colored pigs, their enemies. Inspired by the game Crush the Castle, [1] the game has been praised for its successful combination of fun gameplay, comical style, and low price. Its popularity led to many spin-offs versions of Angry Birds created for PCs and video game consoles, a market for merchandise featuring its characters, Angry Birds Toons, a televised animated series, and two films The Angry Birds Movie and its sequel The Angry Birds Movie 2. By January 2014, there had been over 2 billion downloads across all platforms, including both regular and special editions. [2] [3]

  • Angry Birds: The Big Green Doodle Book
  • Angry Birds: The Big Red Doodle Book
  • Angry Birds Space: Sticker Book
  • Angry Birds Space: Poster Book
  • Angry Birds Space: Colors
  • Angry Birds Space Learn to Draw
  • Learn to Draw Angry Birds
  • Angry Birds Official Guide
  • Angry Birds: Hunters of the Jade Egg
  • Bad Piggies: Piggy Island Heroes-"It's Raining Pigs"
  • Bad Piggies: Piggy Island Heroes-"Piggies And Pirates"
  • Nat Geo Angry Birds Space: A Furious Flight into the Final Frontier
  • Nat Geo Angry Birds: 50 True Stories of the Fed Up, Feathered, and Furious
  • Nat Geo Angry Birds Star Wars: The Science behind the Saga
  • Nat Geo Angry Birds: Furious Forces
  • Nat Geo Angry Birds Seasons
  • Nat Geo Angry Birds Playground Series
  • Angry Birds Comics
  • Super Angry Birds
  • Angry Birds: Flight School
  • Angry Birds Toons (2013–2016)
  • Piggy Tales (2014–2019)
  • Angry Birds Stella (2014–2016)
  • Angry Birds Blues (2017)
  • Angry Birds on the Run (2018–2020)
  • Angry Birds MakerSpace (2019–2020)
  • Angry Birds Slingshot Stories (2020)
  • Angry Birds Bubble Trouble (2020–2021)
  • Angry Birds: Summer Madness (2021)
  • Angry Birds (2009)
  • Angry Birds Seasons (2010)
  • Angry Birds Rio (2011) *†
  • Angry Birds Friends (2012)
  • Angry Birds Space (2012)
  • Angry Birds Star Wars (2012) *†
  • Angry Birds Star Wars II (2013) *†
  • Angry Birds Go! (2013)
  • Angry Birds Epic (2014) †
  • Angry Birds Transformers (2014) *
  • Angry Birds Fight! (2015) †
  • Angry Birds 2 (2015)
  • Angry Birds Action! (2016) †
  • Angry Birds Blast (2016)
  • Angry Birds Evolution (2017)
  • Angry Birds Match (2017)
  • Angry Birds Blast Island (2018)
  • Angry Birds Dream Blast (2019)
  • Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs (2019)
  • Bad Piggies (2012)
  • Angry Birds Stella (2014) †
  • Angry Birds POP! (2014)
  • Angry Birds Champions (2018) †
  • Angry Birds POP Blast (2019)
  • Angry Birds Explore (2019)
  • "Angry Birds Rio Samba Tune"
  • "Angry Birds Space Theme (feat. Slash)"
  • "Bad Piggies Halloween Tune (feat. Major Lazer)"
  • "Angry Birds Theme Song"
  • "Angry Birds Theme (ClubBangerZ Angry Mix)"
  • Vuokatti (Finland)
  • Holiday Club (Finland, Spain)
  • Haining City (China)
  • Activity Park (Malaysia)

By July 2015, the series' games had been downloaded more than 3 billion times collectively, [4] making it the most downloaded freemium game series of all time. The original Angry Birds has been called "One of the most mainstream games out right now", [5] "One of the great runaway hits of 2010", [6] and "The largest mobile app success the world has seen so far". [7] The first main-series video game sequel, Angry Birds 2, was released on 30 July 2015.

The first game in the series was initially released on 31 December 2009 for iOS. [8] At the time, the swine flu epidemic was in the news, so the staff decided to use pigs as the enemies of the angry birds. [9] The company released ports of the game to other touchscreen smartphone operating systems, including Android. In early 2019, all remaining Angry Birds games released before October 2014 (with the exception of Friends) were been discontinued and removed from app stores, though Bad Piggies was added back in early 2020. Rovio has declined to explain their reasoning behind the decision apart from a brief tweet and support response, both giving different answers. [10]


How to Land a Music Festival Gig

From Bonaroo to High Sierra and the Warped Tour, it seems that more and more music festivals are popping up all over the world. But for emerging artists, landing a slot at a festival, even as an opening band, may seem out of reach – a goal for “later” in your career.

To find out just how feasible it is to try to land a spot on a festival stage, we spoke with a talent booker from San Francisco’s 18-year-old Noise Pop festival as well as a local SF band, Geographer, who got its first big break at last year’s Noise Pop. Geographer used that to build visibility, help land a national tour with an established act, and continue to build their following. They also returned to this year’s Noise Pop, but as a headliner instead of a support act.

Noise Pop is a well-respected (and well attended) music festival, that focuses exclusively on all things indie: music, art, and culture. Noise Pop takes place every February in San Francisco, with fans traveling from all over the world to attend, drawn by its eclectic mix of music and culture, not to mention the intimate venues around San Francisco that play host for the week’s shows.

Well-known acts such as The Shins, Modest Mouse, The White Stripes, and Death Cab for Cutie, got early career boosts at Noise Pop in previous years. The February 2011 line up carried on the all-things-indie tradition with headline performances by Best Coast, Yo La Tengo, Ted Leo and a solo set by Death Cab’s Ben Gibbard.

The Talent Booker’s Perspective
Talent booker Dan Strachota is on the team responsible for booking emerging artists at Noise Pop. To attract the attention of festival programmers, Dan says the key is to set yourself apart from the rest of the indie bands in your area. “Try to stand out from the pack in some way, either in your performance style, through the use of costumes, your musical style, by playing free shows, or even your marketing style.”

As an example, Dan mentioned Chow Nasty, a San Francisco band that “would flyer like mad whenever they had an upcoming show. They combined their unique name with a distinctive font and after six months of seeing their flyers everywhere, I thought, ‘OK, what is this band – who are they?’ They had generated enough interest through repetition for me to want to check them out.”

For any up-and-coming local band, landing a headlining slot at a festival may be fairly impossible, so the best-case scenario is to get a supporting gig for a more established band. When looking for possible openers, Dan says he “prefers bands that bring an element of fun to their music. It’s good to have high-energy bands that will bring a party vibe to that night’s show.”

When asked if there’s one piece of advice he would offer to an artist trying to land a festival gig, Dan stated that there is no silver bullet to achieve that goal. Instead, bands just have to do the hard work required – have a web presence, play lots of shows, and relentlessly work each day to build a following. “One of the most important things I look for is that the band works hard, they promote their own gigs, and they try to get more people in every time they don’t just sit back and hope. I want to see bands that are actively involved and invested in their music careers.”

Tips From a (Now) Veteran Festival Band
San Francisco-based trio Geographer epitomizes many of the attributes that Dan outlines. The electro-influenced indie pop trio is comprised of vocalist/instrumentalist Mike Deni, cellist Nathan Blaz, and drummer Brian Ostreicher. The group has worked hard the last few years to play as many gigs as possible around the SF area, and by doing so, came to the attention of the Noise Pop booking team. Their hard work and growing fan base helped land Geographer a coveted opening spot for the 2010 festival in support of Atlas Sound at the historic Great American Music Hall. So just how did they land this breakthrough festival gig?

First, Deni says, they spent a lot of time getting to know everyone involved in the local music scene. It sounds obvious, but many musicians spend a great deal of time hidden away writing, rehearsing, and recording their music. According to Deni, it pays to get out and schmooze with your peers. Getting to know other bands, managers, booking agents, and club owners helped Geographer become part of the fabric of the San Francisco music scene.

This lead to sharing bills with other notable bands, and can also lead to musical collaborations or even partnering on a joint mini-tour. Deni said they would work “desperately to convince a band further along than us to headline a show so that we could then get a booker behind the bill.” Geographer’s payoff would then be as the support band to open the show. He suggested doing this repeatedly “until enough people in your hometown have seen you, so that you can eventually move up to support national touring acts” that come through your town with their correspondingly larger audiences.

Another key was Geographer’s dedicated efforts to keep up with self-promotion. “Promotion didn’t come naturally to us,” Deni admits. “Spending more time emailing than writing music can be demoralizing. But the benefits were worth the effort. We worked our asses off on promotion, and now that we have management, we can channel all that energy into our music.”

The Role of the Media & Press Kits
Attracting the attention of the press – which includes everyone from your local newspaper’s entertainment editor to music bloggers – will likely occur once you’ve built a local following and are playing larger shows. However, there is important work that can be done right now by any gigging band. Dan advises that once you land some shows, “Work your ass off to get people to those shows. Invite people who can help you, such as press, talent buyers, and local radio stations. Treat each show as special.” Send local music blogs and entertainment editors invitations to your gigs, keep the invites short and interesting, and only target outlets that tend to cover your style or genre of music.

You’ll also need a solid press kit. These days most bands rely heavily on Electronic Press Kits (or EPKs) as can be found on Sonicbids, a website that brings artists together with promoters/agents. Agents can access artist EPKs submitted for various events and festivals. In fact, Sonicbids is the exclusive method Noise Pop uses to screen and accept bands.

What goes into an effective EPK? Be sure to include a well-written, concise band bio, at least three songs, good photos (live and “press” photos if possible), press clippings (if you have them), upcoming show dates, band technical requirements, performance videos, and complete contact information. The Noise Pop team offered up four more key tips regarding your EPK:

1. The formatting of all text should be simple – keep it easy to read.
2. Put your best song first and make sure it has an interesting intro because this may be all the booker hears before deciding to move on.
3. Play to your strengths. For instance, if you are best known for powerful live shows, be sure to include a performance video clip and plenty of live photos of your band in packed venues.
4. Make sure all your links are active and that all songs, videos, and photos load when clicked. It’s frustrating and a potential deal killer when a booker interested in your band discovers your press kit elements cannot easily be accessed!

Applying to Festivals
The first step before applying to a festival is to find out which festivals present the type of music you perform. Take the time to really research which types of festivals have given artists in your genre their first break. (There’s a link to an extensive list of U.S. music festivals at the end of this story.)

Many festivals, including Noise Pop, favor local bands and artists, at least for support slots, so start in your own region. Reach out to musicians you know, managers, local bookers, and use the internet to research which opportunities seem to be the best fit. Once you narrow down the list to the best options, look closely at the festival website to see how they accept submissions, and more importantly, what their deadline is – most have submission deadlines at least one to two months before the festival takes place.

Once you’re ready, take the plunge and apply. It’s vital that you take care to tailor each submission to the specific festival. Write a short, engaging cover letter/email that shows you know who the festival caters to and if possible, give an example of a recent gig that demonstrates your suitability for the festival’s target audience.

If you don’t get selected, don’t get discouraged. Most festivals receive hundreds of submissions for just a handful of opening slots. If you weren’t in the top five, it doesn’t mean the bookers didn’t like your music. Keep in touch throughout the next year and ask to be informed of any upcoming opportunities. Festivals often sponsor other events, such as film screenings, benefits, and other activities throughout the year, so you never know when they might need an up-and-coming artist to fill a spot on short notice.

Geographer’s Mike Deni wraps up the story with what happened after the success of playing as a support act at Noise Pop ’10. “People really started coming out to our shows. Shortly afterwards, we were invited to go on an East Coast tour, and a bit later we were booked as support on our first national tour with Stars, which was a big jump for us.”

By the time Dan and his team were putting together the 2011 Noise Pop, the momentum that Geographer had been building since their breakthrough at the previous year’s festival led to being offered a slot as a headliner at San Francisco’s legendary club, The Independent. That sold-out show is evidence of Geographer’s continuing upward trajectory, which proves that talent, sweat equity, and landing a festival gig can be a path to success for an independent act.

Casey Newlin is a member of the team that produces two indie rock festivals based in San Francisco, Noise Pop and the Treasure Island Music Festival. Keith Hatschek is a regular contributor to Echoes and directs the Music Management program at University of the Pacific. They co-authored a September 2010 Echoes story on Online Music Collaboration.


SXSW Picks & Sleepers

RED DYE #4, THE DISOWNED, THE SNOBS, FORTY SECOND SCANDAL: Over the next few years, look for the teenagers in these local bands to start grabbing headline slots and press attention. Way too young to drink, their hearts pound with Ramones-like lust and they reference Austin legends like the Big Boys and Butthole Surfers. Red Dye #4 and the Snobs are already veterans on the scene, the latter having opened this year's Austin Music Awards. Like the spray paint graffiti used to say: the Future is now. (Steamboat, noon-4pm) -- Margaret Moser

TOWN LAKE THROWDOWN: Now this is more like it. Sure, SXSW wishes they had Patti Smith out here, but the bluegrass stomp of Split Lip Rayfield, stately chamber rock of Alejandro Escovedo, raucous zydeco throwdown of Geno Delafose, wildman roots hoedown of Austin's Gourds, and Bandera country roots badass Charlie Robison is what a Saturday sunset at Town Lake should be. It ain't the Fab T-Birds' Riverfest from the Eighties, but this kinda bill is the Riverfest of the future. (Town Lake Stage, 5-8pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

EELS: You may have missed 2000's Oh What a Beautiful Morning, a gatherall of live material from the Eels' Daisies of the Galaxy tour, plus cuts from frontman E's solo tour with Fiona Apple. Two years later, these college faves are back in Beckian mode with the slacker-soul of the brand new Souljacker (DreamWorks), chock-full of guest performances from folks like Koool G Murder and John Parish. (La Zona Rosa, 7pm) -- Melanie Haupt

CHUCK PROPHET: Revered by many as a guitar player and songwriter, Chuck Prophet's New West debut, No Other Love, is due in April. With his sixth solo album, Prophet continues to melt the singer-songwriter mold, delivering an 11-track song cycle that he says is "about dancing monkeys, failed criminals, and the storms that come between seasons." (Mercury, 8pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

THE CRACK PIPES: The right Rev. Ray Pride and his mighty Crack Pipes expanded their chicken-scratch garage-punk ministry with 2001's Every Night Saturday Night (Sympathy for the Record Industry). The Austin-based quartet has honed their evangelical essence considerably since their humble mid-Nineties founding to become one of the town's premier purveyors of sneering skronk. (Beerland, 8pm) -- Greg Beets

THE HARD FEELINGS: The whole blues/punk thing can get sloppy at times, especially when the whiskey's flowing. Not so with Austin's Hard Feelings. Their self-titled debut on Sympathy for the Record Industry features lots of stinging slide guitar, a rhythm section that drives like a determined cabbie, and a whole passel of blues shoutin'. (Beerland, 9pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

FANTASY'S CORE: Nagasaki's Fantasy's Core are a zany troupe that flip-flops between punk, blues, metal, and soul. The quintet's 2001 SXSW set blew several minds with the antics of Mao Karisu, a rabidly charismatic vocalist who feigned hara-kiri with a toy light saber, did Jack Palance-style one-armed push-ups, and sang an ode to Pachinko. (Elysium, 8pm) -- Greg Beets

THE SPIDERS: Out of San Marcos, the Spiders purvey balls-out punk metal licks and glam attitude like it never went out of style. The quartet once covered side one of Mötley Crüe's Too Fast for Love in its entirety, which should give you a good idea of their intent. The Spiders are currently working on the follow-up to their hard-hitting 2000 debut, Sex Is Thicker Than Water (Unscene) for Acetate Records. (The Red Room, 8pm) -- Greg Beets

SXSW SOUND & VISION: Rykodisc and David Bowie got nothing on Austin's institution of silent films scored and accompanied live by local bands. Alt.classical indie rock jazz band Golden Arm Trio pioneered the form along with series starters ST 37, and this special SXSW double-feature features the former's mournfully jagged original soundtrack to F.W. Murnau's 1926 masterpiece Faust, and the latter's nuclear-powered blast on Fritz Lang's Metropolis, also from '26. David Byrne's ladies of string, Austin's Tosca String Quartet, close out the evening. This is Austin at its best and most original. (Scottish Rite Theatre, 8pm-midnight) -- Raoul Hernandez

BRUCE ROBISON: With Tim McGraw's chart-topping version of his "Angry All the Time" and cuts in the works from Lee Ann Womack, Allison Moorer, and the Dixie Chicks, Bruce Robison represents a 6-foot-7-inch stretch of Music Row right here in Austin. He also makes fine albums of his own, last year's Country Sunshine being a collection of crisp melodies and vivid narratives. (Austin Music Hall, 9pm) -- Andy Langer

CORNELL HURD BAND: One of the best honky-tonk/Western swing ensembles in Texas, the Cornell Hurd Band just released another sprawling, 23-songer titled Song of South Austin on their own Behemoth label. Featuring guest turns from Johnny Bush and Marti Brom, it also highlights the work of steel master Herb Steiner and the vocals of bassist Justin Trevino. (Broken Spoke, 9pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

JANNE HAAVISTO & THE FARANGS: Producers often have bigger ears than talent. Not so with Finnish studio wizard Janne Haavisto, founding member of instrumental stalwarts Laika & the Cosmonauts. Haavisto's detailed aural world draws from Bollywood soundtracks, electronic instrumentals, garage pop, international folk, and dub, as heard on his two Texicalli albums. (The Drink on 6th, 9pm) -- David Lynch

MARY LOU LORD: Lord is not your mother's folksinger. Following her 1998 major-label debut, Got No Shadow (Sony), she took a break to focus on her family. Last year, she covered Daniel Johnston's "Speeding Motorcycle" for a Target ad, which was included on this winter's set of covers, Live City Sounds on Rubric. (Empanada Parlour, 9pm) -- Dan Oko

NATHAN HAMILTON: A native of Abilene who now calls Austin home, Nathan Hamilton has just released one of the best albums out of Texas this year, All for Love and Wages. The Austin Chronicle raved that it "burns with a rare fire and is highly recommended to those looking for a healthy helping of new American roots rock." (Hard Rock Cafe, 9pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

WEARY BOYS: Cowboy hats, beards, vests, a Telecaster, and an upright bass. That could spell a band that's got a too-keen sense of irony, but not Austin's Weary Boys. Theirs is an electric-bluegrass brand of authentic country that could go over in a punk club, honky-tonk, or state penitentiary (and has, at all). Their indie debut lives up to the hype. (Continental Club, 9pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

THE MEAT PURVEYORS: Kicking over whatever hurtle splintered like a barstool over your head, Austin's Meat Purveyors are back with their second Bloodshot barnyard mosher, All Relationships Are Doomed to Fail, complete with hoedown covers of ABBA and Ratt. Their agitated bluegrass has no real successor, 'cause who could match the adrenaline 'n' attitude this foursome spat onstage? (Mother Egan's, 9pm) -- Christopher Hess

THE GRASSY KNOLL: Bob Green is a S.F.-dweller, but it's the conspiracy-theory heebie-jeebies of his native Dallas/Ft. Worth that give him his inspiration. Dropped by Verve/Antilles after 1998's claustrophobic electro-fusion masterpiece III, SXSW trumpets the return of Green's jazz 'n' paste wonderland of funky .007 basslines and sampled white-noise loops. (Le Privilege, 9pm) -- Michael Chamy

RADIO 4: The Primal Scream elements are tough to miss here, but maybe the NYC fivepiece is merely playing Gang of Four to the Strokes' Television. It's a mad mixture of some kind of proto-New Wave with the more dissonant moments of early post punk-like Joe Jackson's "I'm the Man" sped up and turned inside out. (Rehab Lounge, 9pm) -- Michael Bertin

HARVEY SID FISHER: The uncontested king of zodiac music returns to SXSW backed by Austin's Hidden Persuaders. Fisher, an actor from L.A. who did bit parts on Seventies TV shows like Emergency and Kojak, became a musical cult figure with a 1989 public-access video of his astrology songs. (Empanada Parlour, 9pm) -- Greg Beets

SOUTH: Bigger than toast and twice as tasty, this UK trio plays like Stone Roses redux, a guitar 'n' vocals trio with soul to burn and a lazy groove that infrequently ramps up into heartache guitarwork. Signed to UK indie Mo'Wax, their new From Here on In is the first essential UK disc of the year. (Element, 9pm) -- Marc Savlov

PREFUSE 73: Scott Herren's retort to the path hip-hop has taken is the creation of "clip-hop." MCs are used as just another layer of music by shattering lyrics into cut rhymes without vowel or syllabic support, and the rest is beats composed largely of snips from Herren's pre-fusion jazz records circa 1973. "You wonder where the chorus is, but I don't do that shit." (La Zona Rosa, 10pm) -- Christopher Coletti

HALOU: SF-based husband/wife duo Ryan and Rebecca Coseboon have managed to capture the sound of 4am eros better than anyone we've ever heard. Languid, liquid beats burble in the background like a warm, inviting rainshower while Rebecca's velvety-smooth, honeyed vocals ooze between fluffy synth lines, smoky cellos, and a soothing, ambient groove that hollers "Sex, please!" (Element, 10pm) -- Marc Savlov

KELLY HOGAN: If Kelly Hogan's singing didn't sound so elegantly effortless, she'd still be an alt.country diva simply for having the good sense to work with the Jody Grind and the Rock*A*Teens. Recently, she's been kinda Bloodshot, her second LP on the Chicago indie, Because It Feels Good, upgrading folks like Randy Newman and the Statler Brothers. (Momo's, 10pm) -- Michael Bertin

STEPHEN BRUTON: A renown sideman (Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson) turned singer-songwriter, guitarist Stephen Bruton recently released his latest CD, Spirit World, on New West, but is just as comfortable as musical director for Tony-winning actress Betty Buckley in her cabaret show. Live, he's the best of both. (Mercury, 10pm) -- Margaret Moser

KELLY WILLIS: One of the most anticipated/attended shows of SXSW O1, Austin's country darling Kelly Willis has won the hearts of fans from all genres. Her voice will melt your frigid music industry heart, and she's developed a battery of songs that stand against the best of 'em. She'll be adding to it sometime this year with a new album. (Austin Music Hall, 10pm) -- Christopher Hess

OWEN TEMPLE: The Texas singer-songwriter field has become a little crowded in the past few post-Robert Earl Keen years, but Owen Temple manages to stand out from the rest of the pack. His latest disc, Passing Through, on Scenework Records, shows no signs of sophomore slump. (Broken Spoke, 10pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

BOB LOG III: Out in the desert villa of Tucson, Arizona dwells a strange creature named Bob Log. No longer one half of Doo Rag, he's now a one-man band, playing bass drums with his feet while damaging his fretboard with primitive, hyperactive grooves that are more fetid swamp muck than dirty Delta silt. (Emo's Jr., 10pm) -- Michael Chamy

PAUL JONES: This Delta bluesman recently told a reporter, "I believe in God, but the Devil, he's got power, too." Listening to Jones' 1999 release, Pucker Up Buttercup (Fat Possum), it's clear this welder wasn't just philosophizing. The raw sound of Jones' guitar and voice, propelled by a drummer named Pickle, sets you ringside in the eternal fight between Good and Evil. (Antone's, 10pm) -- Dan Oko

THE HELIO SEQUENCE: This Portland, Ore., duo, vocalist/guitarist Brandon Summers and beat keyboardist Benjamin Weikel documented their message on their self-released 1999 EP Accelerated Slow-Motion Cinema, a 2000 Cavity Search debut, Com Plex, and recent CS outing, Young Effectuals. That message: Get noisy, get bent, get poppy. (District Bar & Grill, 10pm) -- David Lynch

ACTIONSLACKS: Oakland's Actionslacks count among their faves everything from Wilco to Hüsker Dü, and it all comes together in their sound. The Scene's Out of Sight, their 200l release, finds them doing what they do best: slashing guitars, smart lyrics, tight harmonies, and live-wire energy. (Ritz Lounge, 10pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

WINSLOW: A key cog in the corps of Austin cosmonaut rockers, Winslow's patient melodies reveal a gentle, moody, dream pop fare like the Autumns and Dallas' fondly remembered Comet. There's no Mogwai this year, so Winslow might be among the sky's brightest stars in this early spring season. (Red Eyed Fly, 10pm) -- Michael Chamy

I AM THE WORLD TRADE CENTER: After world politics messed things up, IATWTC toyed with the abbreviated name I Am the World, but have now restored their moniker in full. With little more than a laptop, the electronic pop duo of Amy Dykes and Dan Gellar have made synths truly palatable even for those with a natural aversion to such. Track=Song, their latest and follow up to their debut Out of the Loop, is a collection of covers and remixes. (Buffalo Billiards, 10pm) -- Michael Bertin

ORIGINAL SINNERS: We hope that Exene Cervenka needs no introduction here, but hell, most of you guys are half our age, so: Founding member and guiding force behind L.A. roots-punk legends X, poet, author, and everything else that you indie hipsters hold dear. Exene's mark on DIY can't be overstated. (Red Room, 10pm) -- Marc Savlov

1001 NIGHTS ORCHESTRA: Founded more than a decade ago by Persian lutist Kamran Hooshmand, this Austin acoustic ensemble performs classic and original Middle Eastern pieces of Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Afghan, Armenian, Greek, and Sephardic origin. Their Chocolate Records debut, Salaam, is still their only release, in part because an expanded version of the group was busy creating an excellent live accompaniment to silent film classic The Thief of Baghdad. (Clay Pit, 11pm) -- David Lynch

OJALA: These two seasoned Austin world musicians -- Javier Palacios and Kamran Hooshmand -- blend their respective Latin and Persian socialscapes into a seamless and graceful whole. Drawing inspiration from the cultural exchange between North Africa and Old Spain, their eponymous self-released debut was one of last year's local best. Listen for guitar, oud, hand drums, Persian finger snapping, whistling ,and syncopated hand claps. (Clay Pit, 11pm) -- David Lynch

ST 37: Amid all the bands searching for the perfect three-minute formula, this veteran Austin space rock group is a revelation. Hawkwind-style cosmic pop gives way to delicate Spacemen 3 minimalism and all forms of textural mayhem in between. No wonder they've been invited to Terrastock 2002 in Boston. (Red Eyed Fly, 11pm) -- Michael Chamy

ALABAMA THUNDERPUSSY: Richmond, Va.'s Alabama Thunderpussy marry drop-tuning uber-riffs with melodic song progressions. In limbo when Man's Ruin folded, ATP release their fourth LP, Staring at the Divine, on Relapse Records. The post-punk love child of Skynyrd and Entombed, ATP play some of the most delicious moonshine metal around. (Emo's, 11pm) -- David Lynch

SIANSPHERIC: More gentle than the Bardo Pond, this Ontario quartet shares their knack for abrasive distortion, yet uses it to build an enveloping sea of tranquility. Warm, strummy waves of sonic bliss, as well as sublime Sigur Ròs-like textures abound on their latest Sonic Unyon CD, The Sound of the Colour of the Sun. (Red Eyed Fly, 11pm) -- Michael Chamy

ASH: Northern Ireland's finest, this punk- and rock-influenced trio somehow got lost in the Britpop shuffle circa 1994 when their debut single "Jack Names the Planets" arrived. Since then, they've honed their crunch-pop skills into a piledriving wall of sound methodology, found on their newest, Free All Angels, which recently entered the UK charts at No. 1 and should the States', as well. (Element, 11pm) -- Marc Savlov

THE BRIEFS: If you didn't know better, you'd think you'd stumbled on a pre-wuss Gen X record, what with the first-wave punk sound and Billy Idol lookalike Chris Brief, who drums and sings. The Seattle quartet released their debut EP on Interscope last year after their SXSW performance landed them a deal. (Red Room, 11pm) -- Michael Chamy

THE DRAGONS: San Diego's Mario Escovedo-led Dragons blast out four-chord rock à la the New York Dolls or punch-drunk Stones. With four LPs under their belt -- the latest being Rock & Roll Kamikaze on Junk -- they codify what the genre ought to sound like -- easy on the finesse and plenty of passion. (Emo's Jr., 11pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

YAYHOOS: After five years of false starts, this alt.country supergroup -- Dan Baird, Eric Ambel, Keith Christopher, and Terry Anderson -- finally united last year to record Fear Not the Obvious. The results deliver exactly the type of swagger you'd expect. Baird's "Get Right With Jesus" is clearly the LP's centerpiece, but their cover of ABBA's "Dancin' Queen" oughtta be a show-stopper live. (Mother Egan's, 11pm) -- Andy Langer

THE DERAILERS: Funny, but as time passes, "Bakersfield"/"Buck Owens" get mentioned less and less in association with Austin's Derailers. If imitation is flattery, then Owens gets a perpetual butt-kissing here, but that doesn't mitigate the fact that the Derailers deliver sure-fire honky tonk, even if it does more backbeat with each successive outing. (Austin Music Hall, 11pm) -- Michael Bertin

JON DEE GRAHAM: "Jon Dee Graham - songwriter of large repute." Rarely does a bio say so much. Since '97's exceptional Escape From Monster Island, Austin's former Skunk and True Believer has been the subject of lustrous word-of-mouth. His brand new Hooray for the Moon on New West may be his most confident and thoroughly accessible work yet. (Mercury, 11pm) -- Andy Langer

DARDEN SMITH: Long one of Austin's favorite singer-songwriters, Darden Smith is cherished for his winning way with a melody and his unwavering lyrical honesty. In April comes the full bloom of Sunflower, his first LP of new songs in nearly six years, featuring Patty Griffin, Kim Richey, and a definite glow. (Gingerman, 11pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

THE SILOS: Walter Salas-Humara & Co. just ended a tour of Europe and Spain, having released Laser Beam Next Door (Checkered Past) last year, which is more of the roots-cum-college-rock that put them on the map. They're already hunkering down to write the next album. (Momo's, 11pm) -- Melanie Haupt

IAN MOORE ACTION COMPANY: Born in Berkeley, raised in Austin, and now living near Seattle, Ian Moore's self-titled 1994 debut manifest fret board chops. His sixth and most recent LP, Via Satellite holds kernels of string wizardry, but since his professional start as Joe Ely's guitarist, Moore's music has become more nuanced. (Hard Rock Cafe, 11pm) -- David Lynch

T-MODEL FORD: Fat Possum specializes in raw, juke-joint blues played by elderly black men, and Mississippi native T-Model is no exception. He was 75 when his debut for the label, Pee Wee Get My Gun, came out, and 2000 saw the release of She Ain't None of Your'n. Even by Fat Possum's standards, T is pretty primitive, with a lineup that consists of a drummer and himself banging out blues yarns with buzzy, dirty-sounding chords. (Antone's, 11pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

MR. SCRUFF: Andy McCarthy, Manchester native and Ninja Tune label-mate, strives to create "music he couldn't hear out anywhere else," leading this DJ pioneer to explore a plethora of genres in sets that last as long as five hours. His refusal to accept short slots has landed him an entire night at Plush. (Plush, 11pm) -- Christopher Coletti ANALOGUE II: Before all this IDM business, Tortoise set a precedent for instrumental indie rock. That was back when it was all warm, inviting, compellingly groovy basslines. Analogue, a group from the North Carolina Research Triangle area, took that cue and released their lost jewel of a debut AAD in the summer of 1996. They re-emerged as Analogue II at CMJ 2000 and SXSW 2001, offering up moments of analog bliss. (Empanada Parlour, midnight) -- Michael Chamy

VUE: These five Bay Area scruffs glammed it up good with their self-titled Sub Pop debut, but with last year's Find Your Home, they shed the velvet pants and stepped up the Stooges post-soul quotient. (Red Room, midnight) -- Raoul Hernandez

SUBSET: This Austin-based pop trio wins both hearts and minds with their ability to explore defeat without succumbing to the defeatism of their emo-logged peers. Subset's 2000 debut, Overpass (Post-Parlo) was a deft combo of the heartfelt pop of Badfinger and the stop-start angularity of Mission of Burma. (Ritz Lounge, midnight) -- Greg Beets

IMPERIAL TEEN: Imperial Teen specializes in a unique brand of bubblegrunge that few can replicate. After '96's Seasick and '99's What Is Not to Love, the Teens went on hiatus, with the boys (singer/guitarists Roddy Bottum and Will Schwartz) decamping to L.A. and the girls (drummer Lynn Perko and bassist Jone Stebbings) staying in San Francisco. Due later this spring, Merge debut On, produced by newlyweds Steven McDonald (Redd Kross) and Anna Waronker (That Dog) is rife with the irresistible dark undercurrent that marks IT's exhilarating pop. (District Bar & Grill, midnight) -- Melanie Haupt

THE DEARS: A phenomenon in their hometown of Montreal, the Dears brand of pop recalls Brit bands like Blur and at times, the Smiths -- with lead singer Murray Lightburn being dubbed the Black Morrissey. Their second effort, the appropriately titled Orchestral Pop Noir Romantique, will be made available by Universal Music this Spring. (BD Riley's, midnight) -- Jim Caligiuri

ABRA MOORE: After following Clive Davis from Arista to his J Records, Abra Moore's No Fear is due in late May. Recorded in NYC, L.A., London, Nashville, and Austin, it's reportedly more ambient than '97's Grammy-nominated Strangest Places. Be the first on the block to hear what she's delivered to the biz's hottest label. (Steamboat, midnight) -- Andy Langer

LI'L CAP'N TRAVIS: It's not enough that Austin's Li'l Cap'n Travis has mastered the near-impossible of being both funny and earnest, but between their self-titled debut and the new Lonesome and Losin', they became a damn fine band. Unassuming, self-deprecating, and genuine almost to a fault, the Cap'n makes rock & roll safe for being a little silly and kinda country. They might just be the best thing going in Austin. (Continental Club, midnight) -- Michael Bertin

FLATLANDERS: Reached out at Joe Ely's ranch studio last month, Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock sounded like they were doing more eating, drinking, and reminiscing than recording, and yet their New West debut in May is one of the most anticipated albums of the Austin New Year. More a legend than a band, this trio's overtaking their mythology. (Mercury, midnight) -- Raoul Hernandez

BEAVER NELSON: Nelson's marvelous third album, Undisturbed, isn't exactly unTexan-- something the Houston native and long-time Austin resident probably can't shrug -- but it sounds more like an LP from the catalog of Marshall Crenshaw or Graham Parker rather than from the Texas troubadour tradition. More importantly, it's a darn fine songcraft. (Hard Rock Cafe, midnight) -- Michael Bertin

WILL SEXTON: His New Folk Underground collaboration with David Baerwald should take up much of 2002, but Will Sexton's solo SXSW showcase serves as a strong reminder that his Scenes From Nowhere may have been last year's most criminally overlooked local LP. Its fatalistic narratives were both stirring and flawlessly transferred on stage. (Ruta Maya, midnight) -- Andy Langer

RECKLESS KELLY: Since 1997, Reckless Kelly has delighted audiences here in hometown Austin and nationwide with their driving brand of rockin' country. Their music is full of sleek harmonies, ringing electric guitars, and lyrics that reflect life beyond the band members' relatively young age. (Austin Music Hall, midnight) -- Jim Caligiuri

BOTTLE ROCKETS: The Bottle Rockets did it. The pride of Festus, Mo., plays tribute to the late patron saint of Cosmic Cowboys, Sir Doug Sahm, with their brand spankin' new Songs of Sahm (Bloodshot). It's a little like the Bottle Rockets --sloppy, spirited, and joyous from start to finish -- and a lot like Sahm. In other words, it's damn near perfect. (Mother Egan's, midnight) -- Michael Bertin

BASTARD SONS OF JOHNNY CASH: It's been a busy year for these neo-honky-tonkers: They (re)released their debut CD, Walk Alone, and in addition to having just wrapped their winter tour, there's talk of a new album in the fall. Until then, we're all just waiting for the Man in Black to claim his musical spawn. (Broken Spoke, midnight) -- Melanie Haupt

HIGH ON FIRE: Though Monster Magnet, Fu Manchu, and QOTSA get all the press, it was Sleep who kicked off the stoner rock stampede. Sleep axeman Matt Pike keeps the bong proudly in tow with SF's High on Fire, whose upcoming Relapse Records disc comes on the heels of 2000's The Art of Self-Defense, which crossed Sabbath with the Melvins to create a hash-encrusted apocalypse. (Emo's, midnight) -- Michael Chamy

JERRY CANTRELL: Jerry Cantrell's second solo album, Degradation Trip, suggests you can take the guitarist out of Alice in Chains, but not Alice in Chains out of the guitarist. AIC's influence on nü-metallurgists makes that paradox a welcome return. Equally impressive are bassist Robert Trujillo (Suicidal Tendencies) and drummer Mike Bordin (Faith No More). (Stubb's, midnight) -- Andy Langer

ANTI POP CONSORTIUM: Handling hip-hop with aggressive discontent has lent APC a unique sound that's sometimes dark, usually rough, and always different. Based mainly on prose and literary content, Beans, Priest, and M. Sayyid, form a bizarre musical statement that rebels against the stale state of pop. In 2001, they opened for Radiohead in Europe and were hailed as a group that's "grandly poetic, perversely abstract, and straight-up-street," by Time magazine. (La Zona Rosa, midnight) -- Christopher Coletti

JACOB FRED JAZZ ODYSSEY: Having completed the crossover from Austin's jazz rooms to its hippie-jam-band-dives and back again, Tulsa's Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey are always welcome guests in any venue in Austin. Having sharpened their chops for a recent tour with Charlie Hunter, this trio will no doubt be in high form for this showcase. (Vibe, 12:30am) -- Christopher Hess

TEYE & VIVA EL FLAMENCO: Born in the Netherlands, and coming to Austin via London and Paris, guitarist extraordinaire Teye has flamencoed with Bruce Springsteen, Dwight Yoakam, Rosie Flores, David Lindley, Rick Trevino, Roseanne Cash, and Lyle Lovett. In their fourth consecutive SXSW appearance, Viva El Flamenco plays songs from their 1999 debut Viva el Flamenco! (Clay Pit, 1am) -- David Lynch

SIXPENCE NONE THE RICHER: These young CenTexans emerged from the contemporary Christian scene to open for 10,000 Maniacs in 1994, paving their way to stardom with the sweet imperative "Kiss Me" and an ever-so-poignant cover of the La's "There She Goes." In 2001, songbird Leigh Nash could be heard on Delerium's single "Innocente (Falling in Love)," but the promised Sixpence LP has failed to materialize. (Steamboat, 1am) -- Melanie Haupt

THE SADIES: Fronted by brothers Travis and Dallas Good, Canada's answer to Austin's Death Valley are equally adept at pulling off Ennio Morricone as they are Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, because, well, it's about the same thing. With three Bloodshot discs under their belts, they take the surf out of surf punk and replace it with tumbleweeds. (BD Riley's, 1am) -- Michael Bertin

SLOBBERBONE: You've reached the pinnacle of success when Stephen King lauds your work in his latest magnum opus of horror. The book in question is Black House, and the song in question is "Gimme Back My Dog," off of the 'bone's 2000 release, Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today (New West). When you're a small-time alt.country band from Denton, Texas, this is praise worthy of a press release. (Mercury, 1am) -- Melanie Haupt

DASH: It's just Dash now -- you can leave the "Rip Rock" part with the Nineties. The new, improved Dash is still an explosive trio with plenty of history behind them and more to come (watch for their upcoming album Sonic Boom). Whatever you used to expect from the New Orleans-based band, they've still got it and it's better than ever. (Hard Rock Cafe, 1am) -- Margaret Moser

JEFF HUGHES & CHAPARRAL: It'll be hard for Jeff Hughes to top last year's Head for Cover, a collection of countrified classic rock songs like AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" and Roxy Music's "More Than This." Since Hughes is clocking in at one album every three years, be prepared to hear some real country-rawk. (Broken Spoke, 1am) -- Melanie Haupt

JIM LAUDERDALE: One of Nashville's best songwriters and a charismatic performer, Jim Lauderdale is releasing two discs on Dualtone in May. One, Lost in the Lonesome Pines, will be his second collaboration of mountain music with Ralph Stanley. The other, Hummingbird, is an album that was rejected by RCA a couple of years back and has never been released. (Gingerman, 1am) -- Jim Caligiuri

SUPERSUCKERS: Whether opening for the Ramones or backing Willie Nelson on The Tonight Show, the Supersuckers' twang and punk fusion has resulted in 14 years of stellar shows. After a long run on Sub Pop and a short stop on Koch, the Seattle quartet formed its own Mid-Fi Recordings in 2001, and recently released Must've Been Live, a guest-studded compendium recorded live in Austin, Dallas, and San Diego. (Metro, 1am) -- Greg Beets

WACO BROTHERS: One great reason to attend SXSW, Chicago's Waco Brothers put on an ass-kicking set with their branded style of Celtic Clash-fueled twang rock in venues ranging from stages to alleys. Mandatory stop for first timers. (Mother Egan's, 1am) -- David Lynch

SONS OF HERCULES: The Alamo City's garage punk kings push all the right buttons -- MC5, Stooges, and Radio Birdman -- with their stellar performances. Towering over the crowd like a punk version of Spurs great Billy Paultz, vocalist Frank Pugliese is a stage veteran whose band the Vamps opened for the Sex Pistols in 1978. (Red Room, 1am) -- Greg Beets

TITO & TARANTULA: When he's not paying his Actor's Guild dues, ex-Cruzado/Plugz frontman Tito Larriva and monster slide guitarist Peter Atanasoff are throwing down big-bottom border rock to make Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk 'Til Dawn look like a comedy. Their third LP, Andalucia, remains import-only. (Continental Club, 1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

PONG: Concurrently retro and futuristic, and blessed with four vocalists, Pong is one of Austin's best outfits, proof found on last year's Woodeye debut, Killer Lifestyle. They live on a planet populated by Mouse on Mars, Kool Keith, Kraftwerk, Black Sabbath, Beach Boys, Brian Eno, Can, and the Minutemen. Wacky and dangerous. (District Bar & Grill, 1am) -- David Lynch


Dovetail

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“If The Beatles, The Byrds, and The Beach Boys were all thrown in a blender, put on frappe, and topped off with a dash of Muse and the slightest hint of Queen, you’d have yourself a Dovetail. Dynamic vocals and superb instrumentals make these Texans one HELL of a band that every rock ‘n’ roll lover should see.” - BUZZFEED

Mount Karma // Dovetail (Album Premiere & Track by Track Preview)

There’s been a glut of rock bands who know how to produce accessible rock music with slammin’ guitars, raw vocals and intense emotions. Sure, alternative rock bands that combine folk-indie sensibilities like Imagine Dragons or Half Moon Circle and those who have done well exploring fusion genres like Muse are popular, but have there been any true rock ‘n roll bands lately?

Enter Dovetail, a six-piece rock band from Texas who reminds me of the versatility of rock ‘n roll greats like The Beatles and The Byrds. Is this high praise really justified?

Jump Into Limbo was given the opportunity to preview their debut full-length album Mount Karma which will be launched on 29 October. Find out what we have to say about this album, track by track.

As the opening song, this song got me hooked onto the rest of this album. It grabbed my attention with a no-nonsense guitar refrain that repeats throughout as a lead-bass conversation. The chorus kicks and I am absolutely certain that this should be a huge hit. Not surprisingly, Dovetail won the 2012 John Lennon Song Writing Contest in the category of Rock Song Of The Year for this song. Well deserved indeed! To be sure, I had this on replay for days even before starting on the rest of the album.

After Julie, I was instantly impressed that this band was something special - and how would they top that opening track? Big City was slightly less than perfect because I thought it had an awkward melody line (I would have preferred a lower key). The saving grace are the harmonies in the chorus and the toned-down and piano-driven bridge section.

The title of the song gave it away - country-inspired for sure. This track is enjoyable in a slow-anthem-triumphant-singing-in-the-car-on-a-road-trip way. And isn’t that one of the most enjoyable ways to enjoy a rock ‘n roll song? The ebb and flow of the lyrics get your fists up in the air - and keep them there till the next ‘hey!’.

I fully appreciate the extensive dynamic arrangements that were made in this song. The four-part harmonies and piano licks are outstanding, and so are the lyrics in the verses. Unfortunately, I must have missed the metaphor because I’m not quite sure what ‘you’re so heavy’ means…

See The Sun channels The Beach Boys with its more acoustic arrangement and pop-ish piano chord backing but keeps things interesting with unexpected chord progressions and guitar licks that let you know that this isn’t your typical rock ballad. Kudos to the lead singer in this track, who shows zero restraint in belting out vocally challenging notes. There’s always something new happening in this song that I’m beginning to wonder how the band’s songwriting process is like. For instance, what might their scores look like - if they even have one? The thought of how un-formulaic their song structures are is impressive. I would say this is my favourite slow-tempo song from this album!

Can’t Feel You Listen here

This song delivered that softer, more sentimental side of the band. The chorus is stunning but sad: I’m been wasting away, been wasting a day, been wasting a way that you want me. My only problem with this song? This song should be longer!

If you liked the first track Julie, this song is in the same thread. Oozing sex appeal the way rock ‘n roll music should (I say it’s because of the guitars), this track is pretty good - but is it enough to follow up on the energy that’s present in Julie? I’d say up the tempo, bring out some more overdrive guitars and hit me with ‘em.

Easier To See Listen here

Ah, here it is! MORE BASS. Finally. Not to be underrated, Dovetail’s songwriting is top-notch in this Muse-like song that sees lead singer Philip Creamer crooning about his vision. I can feel the powerful energy that exudes from this song, and is replicated even in the minor-ish piano melody lines. The fast tempo got me head-banging in a matter of minutes, and will definitely be a joy to see being performed live!

Listen Children Listen here

While I’d like to think that there’d been a lot of thought to make this more lullaby-like song a bridge to the next in making listening to the album a journey. However, I felt that it ended slightly abruptly and didn’t really fulfill its (intended?) purpose. However, it’s not labelled as an interlude, so who am I to judge?

Simply stunning! I would rarely question songwriters on their production of music, but this song seems perfect for a duet. It’s just calling out for a female vocal (might I suggest a country voice, perhaps Joy Williams of The Civil Wars?) Don’t get me wrong, the song is already fantastic as a classic love song with intense emotions. Now we need to hear the other side of the story - tell it together!

A poignant song of love that quietens down with the same layering and acoustic techniques - but none of this overwhelms.

This song is memorable for its much simpler chorus ‘It’s gonna get down’ that just sticks in your head. Revamped from an earlier version from their EP, my favourite part is the guitar solo in the bridge, though I would have liked it to continue with further reckless abandon, as the vocals often are. Another chaotic and unexpected ending to the song (if you listen to the entire album, this is common!)

The Road embraces some silence, some space to breathe early on before letting the layers meld together into a swirling vortex of almost free-styling piano, trumpet and drums. “I don’t want to live forever, no. I just want to find a good way to go. I don’t want to be a trending, never ending road.” are the melancholic lyrics that lead this song to one of those days of

The acoustic set-up and soaring vocals of this song make it a lively, almost folksy experience. Mount Karma is the perfect title for this song, and it represents the entire album as it barrels through themes of love, journey, finding and losing. The harmonies make a resurgence with vengeance, building up the crescendos of the song before it falls back to a poignant refrain “Love on mount karma, when I was younger, my life passed before my eyes.”

Overall, this album was pretty darn good! I would definitely be interested to see how the members could recreate the masterpiece that is this album live! Dovetail consists of Creamer and his brother Daniel, Aaron Haynes, Scott Lee, Tucker Cauble and Matthew McDonald. - JUMP INTO LIMBO

In its first full-length album Mount Karma, Texas-based band Dovetail merges Beach Boy-harmony with ’60s influenced country-rock while still managing to maintain its own sound.

Kicking off the album with “Julie,” its John Lennon Songwriting Contest award winner for best rock song, the band marks its territory quickly. The twangy, western guitar throughout the track stands in stark contrast to the gorgeous overlay of vocal harmony the band provides.

In “Big City,” the band switches into full-on anthem mode as lead singer Phillip Creamer pleads, “Big city slow down and let go.” Creamer’s voice is definitely Dovetail’s ace in the hole his sound is reminiscent of Matt Bellamy of Muse, minus the operatic perfection.

Never pigeonholing itself to one style on the album, the band brings down the tempo and throws its Keane influences to the forefront with “See the Sun.” This comparison is a little off-putting as Keane recently released a new single, “Higher Than the Sun.”

In “Story,” Creamer lays down a mournful guitar over the bouncy piano. This juxtaposition helps to cement the sense of loss conveyed in the lyrics.

The band takes a spaced-out turn in “The Road,” not unlike British bands Keane and early Radiohead. Creamer exclaims, “I don’t want to live forever, no. I just want to find a good way to go,” and the band ramps up around him, building to a strong climax.

The cult of Brian Wilson has seen a swell in popularity in the past decade with the Beach Boys style of harmony reaching into folk-rock (see Fleet Foxes) and electronic (see Animal Collective). While what Dovetail does may not be radical, it performs it capably.

It has been nearly three years since the band released its first EP Love is War, and it is clear that the group has spent that time perfecting its sound and honing its songwriting skills. Here’s hoping that it won’t take another three years to see its next release. - THE COLLEGIAN

The thing about swagger is, when it doesn’t work—when there isn’t enough substance behind it to make it credible—it’s a recipe for disaster. But when it does—when the songs and arrangements and performances deliver the goods and draw you in—a little swagger becomes the cherry on top, a knowing smile shared between performer and audience.

Texas natives Dovetail—the brother duo of Philip Creamer (lead vocals/guitar) and Daniel Creamer (keys/harmony vocals) with Aaron Haynes (drums) and Scott Lee (bass)—are rock and roll classicists of the first order, borrowing flavors from the Beatles, the Byrds, the Band, and Big Star to create their clever, intoxicating songs. (The former influence is accentuated by the band’s having won the 2012 John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the “Rock Song of the Year” category.)

This dynamic and very impressive debut album kicks off with the contest-winning song, “Julie,” an alternately woozy and apocalyptic little gem that manages to move through three or four distinct moods in under four minutes, deploying acoustic rhythm guitar, piano and organ, bass, drums and newest member Tucker Cauble on lead guitar. What pushes the song from good to great, though, is that little bit of swagger, the confidence with which the band propels the song through its changes.bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

Vocally, Philip Creamer has a bit of the, well, keening quality of Keane’s Tom Chaplin, but the influence I hear even more—not in the songwriting, but in the performance—is Jeff Buckley. As a vocalist, Creamer seems fearless, swerving, diving and soaring through these songs, extending syllables, building drama and leaving you guessing about how he’s going to play off the melody next. (He also sounds a bit like Monterey’s very own Casey Frazier [link], though it seems unlikely they’ve ever crossed paths…)

As a band, one of the things Dovetail do best is understand how to break a song down to the essentials and build it back up, as they do on “Big City,” highlighting how the lead and harmony vocals, lead and rhythm guitars, keyboards and rhythm section fit together. The arrangements always feel loose and organic, yet they’re consistently detailed and layered.

Classic rock influences are all over “Hey Hey Mama,” whose playful arrangement behind Creamer’s unpredictable lead vocal suggests nothing so much as the aforementioned Jeff Buckley fronting the Black Crowes. Album highlight “Heavy” is a potent, inching-toward-psychedelic power-pop number that Creamer propels into the stratosphere on the choruses, turning the song’s one-word title into a four-syllable mini-aria as little fullisades of acoustic guitar punctuate the lines.

And so it goes through the gauzy, off-kilter ballad “See The Sun,” the vintage echo of “Can’t Feel You,” and the slithery, powerful “Hurricane.” As you move into the latter third of the album, the boys throw a wider range of ideas and influences into the pot and stir, with “Story” sometimes feeling like a lost U2 ballad with its dreamy, echoey guitar and unsettling vibe, while “Get Down” features a melancholy, hitching melody at the core of a dense, greasy arrangement that’s punctuated by sharp squalls of electric guitar. The closing title track ventures briefly into Tin Pan Alley territory with a playfulness and bravado suggesting Queen.

For a listener of a certain age, Dovetail sounds like a memory of summer nights by the water, sitting on the trunk with the car stereo turned up and all the doors open. It’s a classic sound, affectionately rendered, but what really makes it work is how thoroughly the band inhabits it. There is not a false note here, just pure passion and considerable talent and, yes, a little bit of swagger that carries this album to the promised land. - THE DAILY VAULT

Artist: Dovetail
Song: 'Big City'
Who: Dovetail is a six piece band with frontman and songwriter Philip Creamer as the driving force and voice. They are mostly inspired by the 60s and 70s harmonies driven anthemic rock ‘n pop. From the nightingale vocals of The Byrds to the country rock of The Eagles
Home: Dallas, Texas
Work: debut EP ‘Love is War’ (2010) / debut album ‘Mount Karma’ (2012), re-released last October (see Soundcloud link at bottom) by their New Jersey based label ‘Ok!Good Records’
Music Is The Dope: big ‘choruses-harmonies-melodies-orchestrations’ are back. Frontman Philip Creamer’s voice takes the fine crafted songs to a stadium sized level. Rock ‘n Roll euphoria ! Oh… and long, very long hair is back too… - MUSIC IS THE DOPE

Saying that Dallas-based rock band Dovetail is a throwback rock band from the ’60s or ’70s is kind of a slight knock to both the band and music that from then. They aren’t a cover band or something.
Dovetail isn’t here to overindulge us with sounds of cheapened nostalgic pleasure. In saying that, I’m not so naive to think Philip and Daniel Creamer would have arrived with this specific sound without the guidance of a few notable music figures.
I guess what I’m saying is that while the harmonies remind us of The Beatles and The Beach Boys, their arrangements can spark images of Queen, and there are hints of T. Rex glam and Laurel Canyon folk, and songwriting they’re not just cherry-picking the great qualities of all these bands to create their sound without any reference or reason. The rock and roll experience isn’t one old enough to think Dovetail (and most rock bands for that matter) aren’t feeling the same way about things bands from the ’60s and ’70s were.
There’s a genuine voice from the Creamer Brothers and company. There’s a sincere, organic process happening here.
After hearing their 2013 major label debut Mount Karma, you know Dovetail isn’t in the business of trying to recreate what the elder statesmen of rock did. If that was the case, they’d have just recorded Magical Mystery Pet Sounds or something to that effect. What’s the fun in that?
Throughout, they show their range jumping from legitimate rock ramblers like “Hurricane,” Wilcoesque folk ballads like “Big City,” the simple stripped down “Can’t Feel You,’ and the elegantly building magnum opus title track “Mount Karma.” Though it isn’t drastically longer than any other track, “Mount Karma” feels like a grandiose crescendo with varying smaller pieces that create the larger whole. It’s really a microcosm for the entire record.
Earlier this week, we caught up with lead vocalist and guitarist Philip Creamer on the phone and discussed the writing of Mount Karma, being a rock band from Dallas, and what’s next for Dovetail. They’ll be playing tonight (Saturday, Jan. 4) opening for fellow Dallas-based rockers Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights at The Blue Light.
Follow Dovetail on Twitter here, like them on Facebook here, and watch/listen to “Julie” below. - NEW SLANG

Philip Creamer knows John Lennon. Not personally, of course, but the Dovetail frontman certainly has a kinship with the late Beatles singer-songwriter.
He’s grateful for that connection. In January 2012 Creamer entered his Dallas band’s tune “Julie,” a cut from 2012’s debut full-length album Mount Karma, into the international John Lennon Songwriting Contest. By July “Julie” had snagged the grand prize in the rock category among the first batch of contestants. Six months later “Julie” took home the most fan votes when pitted against the winner of the second batch of rock-song entries.
That earned Dovetail’s “Julie” the coveted Lennon Award for rock song of the year. Creamer and his bandmates had already won $10,000 in gear and prizes. It also makes “Julie” a contender for song of the year, for which it will compete against 11 song winners in the other musical genres. The winner, to be announced in July, takes home $20,000 in cash.
“Entering the John Lennon Songwriting Contest is one of the many things we did as a band after the release of Mount Karma in an attempt to bring attention to the songs nontraditionally,” Creamer, 29, said in an email exchange. “I entered through Sonicbids.com. I only entered ‘Julie,’ though I struggled between different songs on the record.”
Creamer said he’s entered about six songs in various contests over the years. But this was the first victory.
“When I read the email and realized ‘Julie’ had won, I went upstairs, proceeded to find my brother and freak out just a little bit!”
Dovetail consists of Creamer and his brother Daniel, Aaron Haynes, Scott Lee, Tucker Cauble and Matthew McDonald. Record producer Beau Bedford occasionally performs in concert with the band.
The Lennon contest served as the catalyst for a slew of activity with Dovetail. The group signed a recording contract with New Jersey-based OK!Good Records. Mount Karma will be re-released by OK!Good, tentatively in August. It will give the record, which was independently put out by Dovetail, much-needed national distribution.
“I am very excited about the re-release of Mount Karma for many reasons,” said Creamer. “The first is that we get to release the album to a much greater audience this time around. It’s a definite milestone on our road. With so much out there, it takes a lot of help to cut through the noise. It’s nice knowing this record will be heard in many places across the world, and we feel it is a record people of all kinds can appreciate.”
Plus, the band’s show May 24 at the Foundry Bar in Dallas marks the limited-edition release of a 7-inch vinyl single featuring “Julie” backed with a new song, “Hey Hey Mama.” Both “Hey Hey Mama” and “Big City,” another fresh track, will be on the re-release of Mount Karma.
“Big City” and “Hey Hey Mama” capture a sharp evolution for Dovetail. The songs are still very much in keeping with the gauzy melodies, cascading keyboards and rhythm-intensive guitar riffs that characterize Dovetail, but there’s a slightly harder edge, a more pointedly precise sound.
“‘Big City’ and ‘Hey Hey Mama’ are certainly a continuation of our growth as a band,” said Creamer. “I think they reflect the place we are today, though we chose to record these two particular songs because they were written at the time of the bulk of Mount Karma and we wanted to continue the feeling of the time. I think the songs more accurately reflect our own musical preferences in the arrangement and sonic aspects, while allowing space for the increasingly lead role of piano and harmony.”
Lyrically speaking, the two songs evoke personal emotions for Creamer.
“‘Hey Hey Mama’ is a bit of an unintentional nod to our love of psychedelic rock and family-style harmony, maybe even some of the early ’70s country-rock we love so much. ‘Big City’ takes away the pain for me. It’s got a bit of that positive spirit I really believe in, you know, a bit of the belief that when we get away from all the business of life we can really experience beauty, and maybe even peace.”
Peace, now there’s a word connecting Creamer to John Lennon. That songwriting contest changed the course of Dovetail’s journey.
“After five years as a band, this is all definitely a welcomed shot in the arm. However, while we haven’t been performing locally as much lately, we have been traveling a lot, getting the record deal signed and revisiting the Mount Karma tracks for the re-release. We’ve been climbing the mountain, even if it’s often unseen.” - Dallas Morning News

It’s a lazy weeknight and the windows at Whitehall Exchange in the Bishop Arts district are open. A group of three young musicians sit around a table sipping on whiskey and water talking about the journey of their first full-length record and their impossibly cool sound. These musicians comprise part of the local band Dovetail and their new album Mount Karma has grabbed the attention of the Local Edge and the adoring public alike.

A week preceding their CD release party at the Granada last month Dovetail had several promotional contests on their Facebook. The day before the show I entered on a whim and actually won. I’ve never won anything and was beyond stoked. Having only heard a few songs from their previous EP I knew them more by reputation and association than anything but I was excited to see what they had to offer live as well as on record.

Dovetail’s live performance is a dynamic cocktail of classic and contemporary touches such as impeccable three and four part harmonies, vintage clothing and obscure John Lennon covers. Normally I’d consider this a recipe for certain failure brought on by unbelievable arrogance. But the undertaking of reinterpreting the angsty masterwork of a former Beatle was done so humbly I found myself caught up in the excruciating honesty of “Mother” and actually choked up as they followed this with “Can’t Feel You,” a melancholy original about giving up the ghost in welcome worn romance. Their solid rhythmic core leaves ample room for emphasis to be placed on Daniel Creamer’s keys and Philip Creamer’s vocals, reminiscent though certainly not derivative of the great Freddy Mercury. The melodic structure of the vocals and Tucker Cauble’s spacey guitar riffs give a transcendent quality to their tunes that is neither contrived nor pretentious.

Two years in the making, Mount Karma tells a story not through the linear progression of a concept album but rather like an exhibit in impressionism where collectively the songs create vignettes or scenes that can be strung together and take on a new meaning. Songs like the breathtakingly definitive “Speak” and searing archetypal single “Julie” stand solidly in the position of major events without giving concrete detail. The title track, “Mount Karma” is placed last on the album describing a journey of unintentional self-discovery. “It’s all about growth – our growth,” says vocal and keys co-writer Daniel Creamer. Lead vocalist and brother Philip backs that statement up, “We’re pursuing knowledge of what life is for us. We’re in heavy pursuit of what our purpose is.” He continues, “People feel like they’re creating their own reality, well, is that right or is that wrong? We got to the top of that idea and saw it from a different perspective, that’s Mount Karma.”

Initially Mount Karma was scheduled to be recorded in 14 days by engineer and producer Beau Bedford in early 2010 but as the band’s sound developed and the concept grew things were re-recorded and new tracks were added. “Beau is a staple in our music. He brings out the best in all of us.” Daniel says in reference to the producer who also took the stage with the band last month at the Granada for their CD release party. As is typical of Bedford’s work, the sound from the record is the same sound one gets in the live performance and vice versa, a signature he seems to be establishing for himself and the artists lucky enough to work with him.

In our conversation at Whitehall Exchange it becomes increasingly apparent that the emphasis in their endeavor is solidly on the music. They list such icons as George Harrison, Bob Marley, The Beach Boys and Queen as their influences and drawing inspiration from local acts such as Quaker City Night Hawks, Kirby Brown and Weekend Hustler. The plan for now is to continue performing together and working and writing with Beau Bedford.

Mount Karma is available on iTunes. If you’re interested in seeing Dovetail live check them out on Facebook and Twitter. - Blitz Weekly Magazine

Not to sound cliché, but a name is everything. So, upon hearing the title, “Mount Karma”, doesn’t it make you think that you may in for the journey of a lifetime?

Now know that “Mount Karma” is the first full-length album from the Dallas group, Dovetail, and listening to this twelve track record is indeed a journey.

The album comes nearly three years after the release of the group’s first EP, “Love is War”, and since I first saw the band in early 2010, they have been mentioning that their full-length would “be ready soon”. Now, two years later, it finally is.

Spending such time creating an album is an obvious sign of perfectionism, which could either count towards the quality or be a huge strike against it. For Dovetail, they pull off the former with ease.

Beginning the record is the song, “Heavy”, which starts with a very nice chord progression on an acoustic guitar. You can sense it is building to something, especially when some rather harmonious singing is heard. Then it happens. A wave of sound crashes against your ears as the song comes to life. There is a very nice part on the piano at this point, though one or two of the keys actually sound out of tune to me from what the rest are. It doesn’t subtract from the song however, instead adding to its character. As soon as he opens his mouth, it’s evident that Philip Creamer’s voice is immaculate, and as he sings the chorus “…You are heavy, you should know I love you. You are heavy, you should know I feel that way…” he forces his voice into a slightly higher register, but manages to display complete control over it. Also, in the second verse when he again sings the line, “…Then I see that golden sunrise, it brings a little hope and pulls us through…”, he, in conjunction with the music his band mates produce, do a perfect job of making you feel that emotion hope.

The second song, “Listen, Children”, isn’t as much a song as it is more an interlude or segue into the next track, “Easier to See”. “Deep inside your heart, are you who you thought you’d be?…” asks Philip as soon as it starts. He again pushes his voice higher when singing the line that is the songs title, but this time he seems to reach his limits. His voice never cracks, and the fact that he has such an impressive range must definitely be applauded, though he just doesn’t sound as comfortable this time. The odd thing is the first time he sings that in the song is the only time it sounds that way. The chorus is where the song really shines, as drummer, Aaron Haynes, does some quick beats leading up to it before it takes off, and the way Daniel Creamer laces they keys into the end of each chorus is marvelous.

The album hits a bit of a lull (in a good way, of course) with “Story”. Love lost is the main theme of the song and the chorus tells you some basic but very wise words, “We write this story as we go, and we can’t take back the stones we throw…”. We could all learn from that, if we so choose. The highlight of the song comes at the bridge, when the music dies down a bit and Philip sings, “I can still remember how the sun fell on your face. The passage that you quoted when you said you’d never walk away.” The emotion he pours into that line and the desperation that can be heard in “…when you said you’d never walk away.” is palpable. Being able to stir emotions and make the listener feel is the single greatest effect a band could hope their music would have on its listeners, though so few these days are even able to achieve that. It’s even rarer that you find a singer who can not only do that, but convey it so well on a recording.

One of the many tracks that stand out to me is the next one, the aptly named, “Hurricane”, whose lines often mirror characteristics of the storm. The intro is quite catchy, especially the sole key that is repeatedly tapped. “…And I sit in silence with your ghost. I am afraid of you the most…” Philip sings, as the song takes a chaotic turn at the chorus. It’s of course - The Music Enthusiast

Dovetail’s latest release, “Mount Karma,” has been a long time coming. Since their first EP, much has happened as life does—the number of members has increased, their style has matured and their sound has become more fruitful. Time served them well. The album, just like their show Saturday night at Granada Theater, begins with a jingle of guitar and smooth, syrupy vocal harmonies that catapult the listener back in time to a late ‘60s/early ‘70s pop groove. “Mount Karma” carries that sway through favorites like “Easier To See,” “Can’t Feel You” and “Mount Karma.” There are several strong, emotional moments where the songs settle into harmonically dense territory, filling the ear with gospel-inspired vocal flourishes that reach high into the rafters.

Decked in an orange paisley blazer and silver-sheen pants, Philip Creamer is clearly a showman, recognizing that sometimes, in addition to a pitch-perfect, wistful tenor, a frontman could do with a little more … pizzazz. And for Dovetail, it works. Their sound—with lyrics covering the spectrum from love-gone-wrong to soul-searching, and classic pop melodies weaved through a bygone era of old-school, soulful, rock ‘n’ roll groove—lends itself to certain ‘je ne said quoi’ style statements. And when half-way through the set Creamer pulls off the blazer to reveal a cape with two roosters on the back, I found myself asking, “Oh, why the hell not?”

Dovetail performed an energizing set spanning nearly their entire record. With seven people on stage contributing vital soundscapes, it made for an intense and welcomed sensory overload. Not to mention the early ‘70s, “American Bandstand” and “Top of the Pops”-style video projections, cutting on-stage visuals with trippy color washes. This is what a show should look and feel like, and it was a blast. - La Mode Dallas Magazine

Dallas, TX – 102.1 The Edge, the historic Granada Theater and La Mode Dallas invite you to experience the release of Dovetail's Mount Karma, for an evening packed with music, fashion, libations and dancing. Early ticket buyers will receive a FREE Mount Karma CD at the show. In addition to Dovetail, event-goers will witness the musical brilliance of Salim Nourallah, Menkena, RTB2 and roots artist Wesley Geiger. www.dovetailband.com. - ZVENTS.COM

Today marks the iTunes release of Dovetail‘s debut album, Mount Karma. With vibe to spare, the Dallas hippie-rockers are offering twelve tracks or classic rock and pop influenced sunshine.

Mount Karma was produced by Dallas guru Beau Bedford, a man who’s been writing/performing/engineering an impressive army of big bluesy pop and 100-proof rock & roll with the level-perfect mix of soul, grit, and spit-shine. Alongside Dovetail, Mr. Bedford is responsible for the most recent efforts of Larry g(EE), The Roomshounds, and Kirby Brown–all of them, records insisting to be turned up to ’11. Check out Dovetail’s live performance of “Julie,” shot from Bedford’s cabin in rural North Texas. - The Majestic Show BLOG

Upon first look, the boys of Dovetail seem as if they come from another decade. Dressed in retro scarves, vests, and numerous pieces of jewelry, these fellows appear to be headed to Woodstock. But Dovetail's new album, Mount Karma, doesn’t overdo it with the late ‘60s vibe. Instead, the band lightly borrows from favorite parts of musical history, mixing it with ample parts pop.

It has been four years since the release of Dovetail’s EP Love is War, and the guys have been hard at work writing, performing, and fine-tuning the tracks that make up their first full-length album, which they are proudly releasing independently. The band has found its sound between then and now, maturing and discovering what works and what doesn’t. The harmonies are rich and pitch perfect, the sound organic.

Throughout the 12-track record, it is apparent that the boys are polished and well-versed in what it takes to make a song catchy. They move from the verse to the chorus seamlessly while drawing the listener in. Their sound is not too complicated, yet not too simple. Mount Karma walks the line and does it well.

The driving force behind the whole album is lead singer Philip Creamer’s vocals, which sound eerily similar to that of Tom Chaplin of post-Britpop outfit Keane. But unlike Chaplin, Creamer’s voice has more energy behind it – something akin to Muse’s Matthew Bellamy but less stylistically operatic and epic. Creamer can hit those high notes with ease, but when he attempts to soar to even greater vocal heights, that's when we hear him reach his limits. It's refreshing to see a vocalist who isn’t afraid of imperfection. The vocals bring a humanity to the record, as opposed to auto-tuning the flaws away. His honesty makes the record shine.

Dovetail celebrates the release of Mount Karma on Saturday, March 24 at the Granada Theater along with Salim Nourallah, Menkena, and RTB2. Ticketholders will receive a free copy of the album.

Key tracks to listen to: “The Road,” “Mount Karma, “Hurricane,” and “Heavy.” - Pegasus News - Dallas

“It’s a revelrous sonic landscape of timeless pop sensibilities with triumphant falsetto vocals, floating piano tinkerings and clean, moving rhythms. Philip Creamer’s voice skims Freddie Mercury territory, hitting the piercing octaval notes out of the ballpark. Thanks to younger brother Daniel Creamer, the piano melodies are more classic than fairweather novelty, which lends a complementary hand to Scott Lee’s ’60s pop-infused bass lines and Aaron Haynes’ sharp rat-tat-tats. ” - ENVY MAGAZINE - DALLAS

“With a soulful sound similar to the Black Crowes and a psychedelic presence that takes you back to the days of T-Rex, Dovetail tugs at your heartstrings with their beautiful lyrics and stunning blend of harmonies.
Dovetail released their first EP entitled “Love is War” two years ago, and is now preparing to release their first full-length album, “Mount Karma”. The band worked closely with Texas-native producer Beau Bedford, who is most famous for writing songs alongside Angelo Petraglia (Kings of Leon Writer/Producer) and Robinson (Black Crowes Writer/Producer).
“Mount Karma” was a two-year process in which the band grew in their music, as well as band members. From four to seven: Daniel Creamer (Keys/Voice), Phillip Creamer (Voice/Guitars), Aaron Haynes (Drums), Scott Lee (Bass), Tucker Cauble (Primary Guitars/Backing Voice), Beau Bedford (Backing Voice/Guitar) and Matthew McDonald (Backing Voice/Percussion).
With the capability to reach high-piercing notes, the powerful voice of front man Creamer has often been compared to that of Queen’s Freddie Mercury. Watch the intimate performance of their featured track, “Can’t Feel You,” and you’ll know what I mean.” - LAFAMOS PR BLOG


‘Then God said, “Hold my beer”’: The inside story of the night that changed L.A. clubs forever

On March 11, the night the NBA canceled its season and Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced that they had contracted COVID-19, almost everyone out at a nightclub suspected that something awful was coming. In the span of little more than a day, a city brimming with live music, packed bars and sweaty nightclubs went dark. With them went an entire cultural economy that, for many of those employed there, was their entire life and livelihood.

As California prepares to tentatively reopen businesses, live music and nightlife are two of the industries still on complete hiatus. The Hollywood Bowl is empty for the first springtime in nearly a century. Across the city and the country, concerts will likely not return for the rest of the year. L.A. is only beginning to process the loss — economic, cultural and personal — that occurs when venues close, artists move away and scene makers struggle to stay in touch.

The Times spoke with owners, staff and performing artists at four prominent independent clubs: McCabe’s Guitar Shop, a beloved folk spot in Santa Monica the Troubadour, WeHo’s legendary rock stalwart Sound, a techno club in Hollywood and the Satellite, an indie and alt-comedy club in Silver Lake. They felt the confusion and dread of that night as much as anyone in the city, and their recollections of the past months and insights regarding an uncertain future form this oral history of one of the most surreal and foreboding periods in L.A. music history.

1. MARCH 11: “THIS IS GONNA KILL US”

Jeff Wolfram, owner of the Satellite: We were doing great. We had two dance nights on weekends and were trying to concentrate on newer bands. When SXSW [the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas] got canceled, I figured this could be something. It feels dumb now, but I didn’t realize it was going to be as big a deal as it was.

Kora Peterson, event producer of McCabe’s Guitar Shop: This year was starting so great. We had Rufus Wainwright for three nights doing his Audible show. We had Winona Judd. We had this sold-out Holly Near show and Alejandro Escovedo, and Hiss Golden Messenger coming up. It felt like the arc of this year was great, with the people we were getting on the calendar. It was so sad for me to have to dismantle it.

California is slowly reopening, providing hope that you might soon see your favorite artist in concert. But from an arena stage? A computer screen? A drive-in?

Kobi Danan, owner of Sound nightclub: We had three sold-out shows at the club that weekend, promoted a show at the Shrine and had 15,000 tickets sold for the Art of the Wild festival in Las Vegas. We were doing 220 shows a year, 90% were sold out. We had 35 shows planned around Coachella. 2020 was shaping up to be the best year of our company ever. Then God said, “Hold my beer.”

Christine Karayan, general manager of the Troubadour: I wasn’t really paying attention to the rest of the world, because when you do 12-hour days, you’re kind of insulated. We started getting phone calls leading up to the Glass Animals show. “Is it still happening?” “Yeah, sure.” Then we’re like, “Are we doing the show? OK, we’re going to do the show. It’ll be fine.”

Ashanti Rogers, bar manager at the Satellite: I was trying not to burden [Jeff], but when the NBA shut down, it was like “uh oh,” and the next day two bands canceled. It didn’t really sink in until after the weekend when the governor said no groups over 250, then 50, then 10. I said, “This is gonna kill us, we’re not essential. We’re gonna be the first thing to close up.”

Karayan: I remember my husband going, “You’ve got to be careful.” I’m like, “You’re blowing this all out of proportion. Everything’s going to be fine.” The audience was just excited to be there. There was no, “Is it safe to go in?” I remember coming up to the office after and we were like, “Something weird is happening.” You could feel something changing.

Peterson: That week we had We Five and Kinky Friedman, and before [officials] gave the word banning mass gatherings, we pulled the plug on our shows. We didn’t want to be part of the problem. I spoke to Kinky’s manager, and he was like, “How do you want to play this? We’re happy to do the show if you want us to.” I said, “We love Kinky, so it breaks my heart to do this, but we can’t.” A lot of our patrons are older, and we didn’t want to make them uncomfortable.

Dave Bayley, singer for Glass Animals, the last band to play at the Troubadour: Right before we went on for the encore, my tour manager Tom came up to me and said, “This is gonna be the last show that anybody goes to in L.A. for a very long time. Do you want to say something about it to the crowd?” I was just like, “Absolutely not. That’s going to send a ripple of panic throughout the crowd.” I just thought, “I have to go for it as hard as I can for these last couple of songs.” I felt like I had a responsibility to make people happy for the last 15 minutes of live music in L.A.

Charley Tichenor, singer for Dirty Cakes, the last headliner at the Satellite: Even as we were prepping for the show, bartenders weren’t taking cash, and they were wearing gloves. I asked for a water and I went to shake their hand and they said, “I’m not touching you.” I’ve been playing live for 15 years. I’ve never had that awareness of living in the middle of something before. We had a line out the door to get in, and by the end of the night, there were maybe 20 people in the room. People walked out to smoke cigarettes and never came back. It ended up being the last stand.

2. THE FALLOUT: “HOLLYWOOD IS A GHOST TOWN”

Bayley: After L.A., we had San Francisco. There are normally, there are loads of people walking everywhere, but it was almost zombie-ish. So we just emptied all our stuff out into the middle of the street to put it in a truck that was going to store it for us, because we didn’t know when we’d be back.

Spencer Sutherland, singer-songwriter, booked to play March 12 at the Troubadour: It was brutal, man. It was shaping up to be the biggest headlining show of my career. And we had some really special guests coming out to sing with me, and a lot of industry people. It was just going to be a magical night, but COVID had other plans.

Karayan: We came in on Monday and said, “Wow, we need to cancel the rest of the month, because whatever this is, it’s clearly bad.” Nobody knew what to do. In my mind, I was like, “Let’s see if we can move all these March shows. We have some gaps here and there in the summer. Let’s see if we can move them into June.” We had a couple of holes in April. And then — excuse my French — the s— hit the fan.

Terrace Martin’s “Pig Feet” was recorded in the last week and features Kamasi Washington, Denzel Curry, G Perico and Daylyt.

Esperanza Riskin, co-owner, McCabe’s Guitar Shop: We had to let go of all of our concert workers. They were all gig workers. It was heartbreaking. Bob [Riskin] and I own the store, and we sat at home, stunned, for two weeks. We were staring at the walls going, “How are we ever going to open again?” We’re not young whippersnappers anymore. We’re both in our 70s. So should we go to the store? Shouldn’t we go to the store? Do we close the store? There’s a 30% chance of us getting it. It’s not pleasant to think that way, but that’s the truth. Isn’t that awful?

Wolfram: We did a lot of day drinking. We came to work every day like, “OK, we’ll paint, do a few things, there’s no money so we’ll do it as cheap as we can.” We’d work for two hours, then take a beer break. It was actually kind of depressing.

Artie Sinaplidis, general manager, Sound: I didn’t think it would last this long. I thought it would be two months and we’d get on with our lives.

Shailee Ben-David, bartender, Sound: To not physically do something kind of made me go insane. But you have relationships with the people who come in to get served by you. Sound put together a GoFundMe, and the amount of people who donated was incredible. It’s helped every one of us pay rent.

Wolfram: We’re in for some really bad times. We’re barely surviving. We’re not even really surviving. It’s getting tough to pay utilities, and we started a GoFundMe for our employees, but right now, I’m not 100% sure we’re gonna make it.

Riskin: The community keeps calling, saying, “You’re going to reopen, right?” I say, “We’re trying, we’re trying.” There was a moment when we thought we wouldn’t. The first round of [the Paycheck Protection Program], we did not get. And the sales right now are not keeping us going, even on the curbside. We got it on the second round. That loan is what’s keeping us going and being able to pay our employees.

Ben-David: People do [music] for the passion of it. Most are not making money off it. This experience has shown how much community we still have for music. People are donating to venues, but how long that’s going to last, we don’t know.

Danan: People on payroll are still on payroll, but the hourly people like security, bartenders, those were affected most. It’s a whole industry that’s built on so many moving pieces, and they all vanished in 24 hours. Hollywood is an absolute ghost town. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Sinaplidis: It feels like the “Twilight Zone” here. I’ve lost track of what day it is anymore.

Danan: I don’t think people know how important [music] is to the economy. They don’t understand how many lives this supports.

Wolfram: People think, “Oh, you own a venue, you must be rich.” No, not at all. Every small venue, we operate on restaurant margins. You don’t make money, but you do it because you love it. I’ve reached out to [Rep.] Adam Schiff and organizations for venues, and there’s been lot of enthusiasm. Live Nation and Goldenvoice will be fine, but indie venues are screwed.

Tichenor: There are people fleeing the city, for rent or money problems or health concerns. Clubs we had gigs at, the buildings are up for sale. I don’t know if things will bounce back, because not everything will be there. I know people who have died of drugs or suicide since this happened, who were going to shows five nights a week. Being in an audience was one of the last things holding them together.


Contents

Formation Edit

Following his high school graduation in 1981, Steve Perry left his hometown of Binghamton, New York, for Eugene, Oregon, to pursue track and field and a chemistry degree at the University of Oregon. [1] [2] A punk rock devotee since adolescence, Perry soon became engrossed in Eugene's underground music scene, where he eventually met and befriended musician and fellow University student Dan Schmid. Sharing similar musical ambitions and a mutual disinterest in school, the pair agreed to drop out of college together and start a band, forming the punk trio The Jazz Greats in 1983, which evolved into the Paisley Underground-styled garage rock group Saint Huck, which lasted from 1984 to 1987. [3] [4]

As the rise of grunge began to phase punk and hardcore out of the Northwest underground by the late 1980s, Perry set out to start a band that stood in defiant contrast to the shoegazing attitude of alternative rock, showcasing high energy dance music and Zappa-esque theatricality in an attempt to create something that an audience would react to viscerally instead of passively. [5] [6] [7] Recruiting a horn section led by alto saxophonist Brooks Brown, Perry and Schmid formed their latest band Mr. Wiggles – named so after a Parliament song – in November 1988, playing their first show in Springfield as part of a benefit concert for workers of the Nicolai door manufacturing plant, who were then engaged in a union strike. [4] [5] [8] [9]

"My conception of punk", Perry told The Rocket, "was doing whatever the hell you wanted as long as it had vitality and wasn't overly stupid . something exploratory and experimental", citing influence from genre-bending bands such as The Clash and the Meat Puppets. [1] [8] In their earliest incarnation, Mr. Wiggles played punk-inflected funk and soul music, though Perry's songwriting soon grew to draw heavily from a newfound interest in jazz, swing and rhythm and blues, combining punk rock and jazz arrangements in what Perry described was a desire to contemporize American roots music by infusing it with punk energy and using modernist, socially aware lyricism. [5] [10]

Early years (1989–1993) Edit

In 1989, the title of Mr. Wiggles was retired when the band switched to a new name, "Cherry Poppin' Daddies", derived from a jive lyric the band had overheard on a vintage race record. [11] The band played their first show as the Cherry Poppin' Daddies the W.O.W. Hall in Eugene on March 31. [4]

The Daddies sought to differentiate themselves from other Northwest rock bands of the era by having a horn section, featuring outlandish stage theatrics, and encouraging their audiences to dance. [1] As Perry spoke of the Daddies' ideology, "It was our way of saying 'screw you' [to alternative rock 'phoniness'] . we wanted to have fun, outrageously have a good blast without even thinking about it". [12] [13] Nonetheless, by the end of 1989, the Daddies had built a strong and loyal following within Eugene's counterculture, frequently selling out show and gathering critical acclaim." [14] [15]

The Daddies recorded their first demo cassette 4 From On High in July 1989, which included four tracks of funk rock and punk-influenced swing. The cassette sold over 1,000 copies in the Eugene and Portland areas, enabling the band to self-produce their debut LP Ferociously Stoned, released the following year. [16] Fusing punk rock and jazz horns with funk grooves, Ferociously Stoned drew favorable critical comparisons to contemporaries Faith No More and the Red Hot Chili Peppers while also becoming a regional best seller. The album set a record for advance sales in Eugene's record stores and remained for over a year on The Rocket's Northwest Top Twenty list. The album helped expand the Daddies' Northwestern touring reach to as far as Alaska and Los Angeles by 1992. [2] [17] [18]

Controversies and censorship Edit

Cherry Poppin' Daddies' early performances often included flamboyant costumes, go-go dancers, phallic stage scenery, prop-heavy skits, or choreographed dance numbers. [14] [19] Perry—then performing under his mad scientist stage persona of "MC Large Drink" [20] —would regularly engage in absurdist shock rock stunts, such as mock crucifixion and flag burning. [19] [21] [22] One of the band's stage props was known as the "Dildorado" or "The Dildozer", a riding lawnmower modified to look like a human penis that mimicked ejaculation by shooting colorful fluids from its tip. [21] [23]

The band attracted controversy from Feminist groups, who condemned the band's performances as pornographic, citing their name and sexually charged lyricism as a promotion of sexism and misogyny. Perry disputed such claims, defending the controversial elements as misinterpreted satire. [19] [24] [25] In what Eugene Weekly called "the most hotly discussed topic in the local music scene" and "the Eugene flash point for the growing national debate on censorship [and] free speech", the Daddies experienced controversy which nearly ended their burgeoning career. [19] Vigilante protest groups habitually tore down or defaced the band's posters and sought boycotts against venues that would book the group and even newspapers which gave them a positive review. [26] The Daddies' concerts routinely became sites of organized picketing and, on one occasion, a bomb threat. [8] [19] [27] The band members themselves were frequent recipients of hate mail, threats and physical harassment: once, Perry claimed, an irate protester threw a cup of hot coffee in his face as he was walking down the street. [7] [8]

The Daddies initially refused to change their name on the grounds of artistic freedom, but a number of venues refused to book them due to the negative publicity. The band was temporarily banned from the W.O.W. Hall, where they had previously served as house band. [1] The group later bowed to community pressure, and performed under the name "The Daddies", "The Bad Daddies," and similar variations within Eugene, but performed under their original name while touring elsewhere. [19] [28] [29] As the Daddies retired the theatrical elements from their later live shows, the controversies surrounding the band waned and they returned to using their full name everywhere. Some minor complaints resurfaced during their mainstream success in the late 1990s. [30]

National touring and independent success (1994–1996) Edit

Throughout the early 1990s, the Daddies continued to remain a reliably popular and profitable draw in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California club circuit. Despite earning critical accolades from the local music press, including winning SF Weekly ' s title of "Best Unsigned Band" in 1994, [31] the Daddies struggled to achieve wider recognition and distribution. [32] Following a number of changes in their member and managerial line-ups, the group embarked on their first national tour in the fall of 1994, which was highlighted by a set at the CMJ Music Marathon festival and convention in New York City. [15] [18] Upon returning to Eugene without any advantageous deals, the Daddies instead bought and constructed their own independent record label and recording studio, Space Age Bachelor Pad Records, where they self-produced and self-recorded their second studio album, Rapid City Muscle Car, which was released in December 1994. [15] [33] Described by Perry as "an idea album" [34] and "very psychedelic", [33] Rapid City Muscle Car was a distinct departure from the upbeat dance music vibe of Ferociously Stoned, showcasing a diverse range of disparate genres including ska punk, psychedelic rock, country, rockabilly, big band, hard rock and lounge. [13] [35] While Perry has retrospectively cited Rapid City Muscle Car as his personal favorite Daddies album, he revealed in a 1995 interview with the Los Angeles Times that the album sold "okay" but ultimately didn't surpass the success of Ferociously Stoned. [33] [34] [35]

The Daddies began dedicating themselves to full-time touring in 1995, playing over 200 shows across two or three national tours per year, including spots at prominent music festivals such as South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. [15] [18] [36] [37] As the band gradually built fanbases and markets around the country, they finally started attracting interest from numerous high-profile record labels and producers, among which reportedly included Hollywood Records, Roy Thomas Baker and Terry Ellis. [13] [15] However, when the suggestion or stipulation was made that the Daddies stick to one genre, Perry invariably rejected these offers, not wanting any outside influences controlling the band's sound. [15] [34] [38] In a similar mindset, not wishing to be pigeon-holed into any specific scene or genre, Perry at first refused to tour with ska bands, though after a highly successful and well-received tour with Fresno ska band Let's Go Bowling, he acquiesced, and the Daddies eventually carved out a lucrative niche within the national ska scene, forming regular touring partnerships with the likes of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake. [15] [18] [39] [40]

While the mainstream's growing focus on punk and ska by the mid-1990s presented the Daddies with further commercial opportunities, Perry still insisted foremost on maintaining complete creative control of the band. [15] In February 1996, the Daddies released their third self-produced studio album on Space Age Bachelor Pad, Kids on the Street. Another musical departure from their previous record, Kids on the Street was mostly a reflection of the band's growing punk and ska influences, eschewing the Daddies' trademark brassy funk and swing in favor of guitar-driven rock, punk and ska, as well as stylistic detours into jazz and country. [33] Distributed by noted indie label Caroline Records, Kids on the Street wound up becoming the Daddies' most successful release at the time, staying on The Rocket ' s Retail Sales Top Twenty for over seven months and even working its way onto Rolling Stone ' s Alternative Charts. [18] [41]

Zoot Suit Riot and major label years (1997–1999) Edit

By late 1996, ska had broken through into the American mainstream as one of the most popular forms of alternative music, catapulting such major label bands as Reel Big Fish and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones into the national spotlight. [42] The Daddies, however, without the support of a record label, were ultimately left on the fringes of commercial visibility. Although Kids on the Street had sold well for an independent release, the band had continuing difficulty securing press and distribution outside of the Northwest, while the pressure of full-time touring was inevitably becoming both a personal and financial strain on the members. [43] The Daddies experienced at least fifteen line-up changes from 1996 to 1997, including the departure of original keyboardist Chris Azorr and co-founder Dan Schmid, leaving only Perry and trumpeter Dana Heitman as the sole remnants of the original line-up. [27] Feeling they had finally hit a glass ceiling as an independent band, Perry said the Daddies were left with one of two options at this time: either sign to a label or break up. [10] [43]

Despite primarily playing ska tours during this turbulent period of their career, the Daddies suddenly began attracting a sizable and enthusiastic audience for their swing music, owing heavily to the coincident public interest in the formerly underground swing revival movement due in part to the success of the 1996 film Swingers. [44] Although the Daddies had occasionally played shows with notable swing revival bands like Royal Crown Revue, they were not largely associated with the scene or subculture when fans regularly began approaching the band's merchandise table asking which of their albums contained the most swing songs, the Daddies realized they lacked an album fully representing their swing side, prompting the band's manager to convince them to compile all of their swing songs onto one CD until they could afford to make a new album, using their available finances to record several bonus tracks for inclusion. [6] [45] [46] [47] The result, Zoot Suit Riot: The Swingin' Hits of the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, became an unexpectedly popular item as the band went on tour, reportedly selling as many as 4,000 copies a week through their Northwest distributors. [6]

While stopped in Los Angeles during another tour together, Reel Big Fish arranged a meeting between their label Mojo Records and the Daddies in the hopes of helping the band obtain a distribution deal for Zoot Suit Riot. [37] [47] Following negotiations between Perry and Mojo, however, the label instead signed the Daddies to a two-album recording contract. [46] [47] Zoot Suit Riot was licensed and reissued by Mojo and given national distribution in July 1997, less than four months after its original release.

Mainstream breakthrough Edit

As swing music steadily gained commercial momentum throughout 1997, sales of Zoot Suit Riot increased dramatically by December, Mojo was moving 12,000 units per week. [47] In January 1998, the label informed the Daddies of their decision to push the album's title track as a major single and distribute it among mainstream radio stations. [47] The Daddies, who were beginning work on their next studio album, ardently protested this move, believing that a swing song would never receive airplay and were concerned that the band would end up having to recoup the marketing costs. [8] [43] [46] Mojo nevertheless persisted, and much to the band's surprise, "Zoot Suit Riot" soon found regular rotation on stations such as Los Angeles' influential KROQ-FM, helping establish swing music in the mainstream and leading to its eventual commercial breakthrough, with the Daddies at the forefront. [48] [49] By mid-1998, the Daddies had emerged as one of the most successful bands of the swing revival: after climbing to number one on Billboard's Top Heatseekers, Zoot Suit Riot became the first album of the swing revival to crack the Top 40 on the Billboard 200, peaking at number 17 and spending an ultimate total of 53 weeks on the charts. [50] In June 1998, the album had sold 500,000 copies in the United States, going on to surpass sales of 1.4 million by August. [47] [51] [52]

Suddenly finding themselves in hot demand, the Daddies immediately started touring again. Spending the majority of 1998 and 1999 on the road, the band were now playing close to 300 shows a year, carrying out both headlining and supporting tours of the United States while traveling internationally as one of the headliners on the 1998 Warped Tour beside Rancid, NOFX and Bad Religion. [53] By this time, the group's touring conditions had greatly improved, thus enticing Dan Schmid – who had originally left the band due to health concerns – to return as the Daddies' bassist at Perry's request. [54]

Although the Daddies were experiencing commercial success under the guise of swing revivalists, having been declared the "leaders" of the movement by Rolling Stone, the band openly contested being labeled a retro act at the exclusion of their dominant ska and punk influences and modernist lyricism. [17] [53] [55] While still vocal supporters of both the swing revival and its bands, the Daddies adamantly tried to disassociate themselves from the swing scene and in particular its nostalgia-based mentality: Perry explained to Spin in July 1998, "it's not our mission to be a swing band. I'm not a guy from the '40s. That's why we play ska and use heavy guitars", [56] noting elsewhere "I can't fully take us out of the retro classification, but we harp on the fact that we're contemporary music". [17] Thusly, the Daddies avoided touring with swing bands, selecting Latin rock group Ozomatli and ska/soul band The Pietasters as support on their first headlining U.S. tour, and opening for Argentine rock band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs on their 1998 North American tour. [48] [57] At one point, the Daddies attempted to arrange a tour with Primus which never materialized [55] said Perry, "I know there are people who come to our shows who'd like nothing more than for us to play swing 24/7 . there are plenty of bands who want to be swing bands and swing bands only. We're trying to find the audience who'll let us write songs and just be who we are". [58]

—Steve Perry, commenting on the retro aesthetics of the swing revival, 2016 [59]

During the height of the Daddies' popularity, Perry found the band's mainstream notoriety was causing an alienating effect on his personal life, claiming it to have negatively changed his relationships with friends and even subjected him to occasional heckling from strangers who recognized him in public. [60] [61] He would later recall, "It's a total cliché, but [fame] doesn't make you happy. There's a lot missing. Success has given people the right to yell at me on the street, but I don't really feel like it's given me any dignity". [62] Already feeling burnt out from the Daddies' constant touring, Perry's frustration was only exacerbated by the media's persistent dismissal of the Daddies as a retro novelty act, though he later claimed to have felt pressured to maintain the image due to audience and media expectations. [58] [61] [63] When the band began to face criticism and accusations of selling out from their Northwest fanbase, [64] [65] the Daddies fought to further push themselves away from their mainstream typecasting: in a 1999 interview, responding to their place in the swing scene, Perry retorted "[we'll] unapologetically play ska right in the face of people who want to hear swing". [66]

Zoot Suit Riot had sold over two million copies in the United States by the time the swing revival's mainstream popularity had declined, finally slipping off the charts in January 2000. [3] With their touring schedule finally coming to a close, the Daddies commenced work on their next studio album.

Soul Caddy and mainstream decline (2000) Edit

In the fall of 1999, the Daddies returned to the studio to record their fourth album, Soul Caddy. A loose concept album reflecting Perry's disillusionment over the cultural zeitgeist and his experience with fame (as he described it, a "bittersweet" record about "being alienated and hoping to connect" [61] ), Soul Caddy marked a continuation of the band's musically varied format, intended to introduce a truer perspective of the Daddies' sound and personality to both their swing-based fans and a wider audience. [63] [67] [68] Drawing from the rock and pop of the 1960s and 1970s, Soul Caddy interwove swing and ska with glam rock, soul, psychedelic pop, folk and funk. [62] [69] [70]

Despite allowing the Daddies creative control over its production, Mojo's response to Soul Caddy was considered tepid at best. [69] Claiming that the new material was not like "the Cherry Poppin' Daddies people know and love", the label did little to promote neither the album nor its glam-styled single "Diamond Light Boogie", at one point releasing the latter without the band's name on it, allegedly due to hesitancy over marketing a rock single from a band primarily known for swing music. [71] [72] With virtually no publicity behind it, Soul Caddy was quietly released in October 2000. Met by a public largely unaware of the Daddies' eclectic background, Soul Caddy was received negatively by both fans and critics, one of the more prevalent criticisms being its lack of swing tracks. [73] Some reviewers chastised the band for what was being seen as an abandonment of their swing "roots" in favor of a trendier sound, [74] while a few criticized the Daddies' entire musical aesthetic — UGO's Hip Online stated bluntly, "covering five or six genres on one album is just insane". [75] The Los Angeles Daily News placed Soul Caddy on their list of the 10 worst albums of 2000, the reviewer wondering what made a swing band "think it could get away with an album of recycled psychedelic pop". [76]

Despite some moderate critical praise including a glowing review from AllMusic, who called the album's "impressively surprising" array of sounds "refreshing coming from a band who was assumed to be generic retro swing", [77] Soul Caddy failed to achieve the chart success or commercial attention of its predecessor. The Daddies' accompanying national tour fared just as poorly, showing a marked decline in attendance while audiences reacted unfavorably towards the band's decreased focus on playing swing music. [65] Speaking retrospectively in a 2002 interview, Perry recalled "we went out on tour and most people saw us as a swing band because of the success of Zoot Suit Riot. we felt this tension to be something we weren't". [65] Facing low ticket sales and their own dissatisfaction over the tour's outcome, the Daddies brought their scheduled tour to an early close, reaching a mutual decision upon taking an indefinite hiatus in December 2000. [65] "A lot of it was just fatigue", Perry explained, "We'd be on the road for a long time and we had no life outside of Cherry Poppin' Daddies. I think everybody was interested in doing other things". [78] The Daddies were released from Mojo shortly thereafter, though guitarist Jason Moss would later comment that the band were kicked "to the curb" after Soul Caddy ' s poor commercial performance. [79]

Hiatus and limited touring (2001–2006) Edit

With nearly a decade of full-time band activity come to a rest, the Daddies parted ways to pursue other musical endeavors, remaining active in various local bands. Most notably, Perry and Moss started the theatrical glam punk group White Hot Odyssey, releasing an album on Jive Records in 2004 before disbanding the following year, while Schmid and keyboardist Dustin Lanker formed the piano rock trio The Visible Men, recording two studio albums and touring extensively until their own disbandment in 2007. Around this time, Schmid also toured as bassist for Pixies frontman Black Francis ' band, recording on his 2007 album Bluefinger as well as recording on Pete Yorn ' s Francis-produced self-titled album in 2010. Lanker later joined California ska punk band the Mad Caddies as a touring member, eventually becoming a permanent member in 2013. Drummer Tim Donahue, after a stint with The Visible Men, worked as a session musician, recording on albums for artists including TobyMac and Shawn McDonald and playing in Yngwie Malmsteen ' s band for his 2001 European tour. [80] [81]

Over the next few years, all Daddies activity was put on further hold as the members returned to their family lives and full-time jobs, while Perry chose to resume his education at the University of Oregon, graduating in 2004 with a B.S. in molecular biology. [71] In February 2002, after over a year without playing, the Daddies ended their hiatus by headlining at The Festival at Sandpoint in Sandpoint, Idaho, which was followed by a series of sporadic appearances at various music festivals throughout the Northwest. [65] Despite the sudden resurgence of activity, the band resolutely announced no future plans for recording new material or undertaking any extensive tours. [65] Favoring a change of pace from their formerly intensive touring habits, the Daddies began scheduling their performances entirely around the band members' desire and personal availability, playing as few as eight to ten shows a year and limiting their appearances largely to Northwest shows or commissions for one-off "swingin' hits" concerts at various festivals and venues across the United States. [65] [82]

Susquehanna and return to independent label (2006–2009) Edit

Following four years of relative inactivity as the band maintained their relaxed touring pace, Perry began writing material for a new Daddies album in early 2006, claiming to have come to the realization of a cathartic reliance on songwriting. [83] In an April 2006 radio interview, he confirmed that the band was in preparation to record a new studio album, noting that the music would cover new territory for the Daddies, drawing heavily on tropical elements. [84] Throughout the fall of 2006, the band carried out several small tours throughout the United States, where much of this new material was debuted.

Self-produced and recorded in Eugene during the summer of 2007, the Daddies' fifth album, Susquehanna, was released via digital download exclusively through the band's website in February 2008, receiving a limited CD release several months later. Taking the shape of a narrative concept album which Perry detailed as a portrait of "various relationships in decay", Susquehanna featured prominent strains of Latin and Caribbean-influenced music, incorporating flourishes of flamenco, Latin rock and reggae into the band's traditional fare of swing and ska. [85] [86] While its low-profile DIY release went mostly unnoticed by the mainstream media, response from internet-based publications ranged from mixed to positive, with reviewers once again polarized over the album's eclectic blend of genres. [87] [88] The Daddies embarked on another full-length tour in support of Susquehanna in mid-2008, followed by a headline tour of Europe, their first visit to the continent since 1998. [89]

In July 2009, the Daddies announced having signed to independent label Rock Ridge Music for the release and national distribution of two albums, a re-issue of Susquehanna and Skaboy JFK: The Skankin' Hits of the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, a compilation of the band's ska material culled from their first five albums. [90] Perry explained that fans had been suggesting the concept of a ska collection for years, and that such an album might help show a different side of the Daddies than the "swing band" persona they're generally recognized for. [89] Skaboy JFK was released in September 2009 to a largely positive critical reception, followed by further touring into 2010, taking the Daddies back across Europe and the United States, as well as appearing alongside Fishbone and The Black Seeds at the 11th Victoria Ska Fest in British Columbia, where the band played the first all-ska set of their career. [91]

White Teeth, Black Thoughts (2010–2013) Edit

Shortly after the release of Skaboy JFK, Perry already began announcing plans for the Daddies' next studio album, revealing the band would be returning to swing music for their first all-swing album since Zoot Suit Riot. [92] [93] Initial production on the album, titled White Teeth, Black Thoughts, began in March 2011, though lasted infrequently throughout the year as the Daddies continued to carry out several more successful international tours, including two separate sold-out tours of Australia in 2011 and 2012. [94] [95] During this time, the band experienced major changes within their touring line-up after longtime keyboardist Dustin Lanker departed the group in 2012, prompting the Daddies to decide to continue touring without a live keyboardist. Several months later, trombonist Joe Freuen was added to the band, marking the first time the Daddies had ever included a full-time trombone player in their official line-up.

In mid-2012, Perry finally elaborated on the production status of the new album, revealing that the band had written enough material to release White Teeth, Black Thoughts as a double album, consisting of the main all-swing album and a bonus disc of "Americana"-influenced rock songs in styles including rockabilly, country, bluegrass and western swing, the latter disc featuring guest appearances from accordionist Buckwheat Zydeco on a zydeco song and former Captain Beefheart guitarist Zoot Horn Rollo on a psychobilly track. [96] [97] On June 20, 2012, the Daddies launched a PledgeMusic campaign to help finance the final stages of the album's production, successfully reaching its target on August 14 and continuing to collect pledges into the following year, ultimately raising 133% of its goal. [97] [98]

Preceded by the release of two singles and music videos for the songs "I Love American Music" and "The Babooch", White Teeth, Black Thoughts was released independently on Space Age Bachelor Pad Records on July 16, 2013. Following the low-key DIY release and promotion of Susquehanna and Skaboy JFK, the Daddies worked to heavily publicize White Teeth, Black Thoughts, receiving coverage by major news outlets including Billboard and USA Today, while the band later appeared on the Fox-owned KTTV program Good Day L.A. to perform "I Love American Music", their first major television appearance since the 1990s. [99] [100] [101] Despite not experiencing any chart success, the album received generally positive critical reviews, and the Daddies carried out a brief fifteen-city tour of the United States during the summer. [102]

In January 2014, it was announced that the Eugene Ballet had collaborated with the Daddies for production entitled Zoot Suit Riot, a dance show set to the music of and featuring live accompaniment from the band, featuring choreographed dance routines set to thirteen of the Daddies' songs, ranging from their biggest swing hits to their lesser-known rock, pop and psychedelic songs. Zoot Suit Riot played at Eugene's Hult Center for the Performing Arts on April 12 and 13, 2014. [103]

Cover albums and Zoot Suit Riot: 20th Anniversary Edition (2014–2018) Edit

During the initial writing and recording period of White Teeth, Black Thoughts, the Daddies began playing select shows billed as "The Cherry Poppin' Daddies Salute the Music of the Rat Pack", playing an equal mix of the band's own swing songs as well as covers of songs popularized by the "Rat Pack" of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.. [104] In a July 2013 interview with Billboard magazine, Perry revealed that the band had concurrently recorded a tribute album featuring these songs and would be releasing it after touring behind White Teeth, Black Thoughts. [99] Please Return the Evening — the Cherry Poppin' Daddies Salute the Music of the Rat Pack! was released on July 29, 2014, promoted by music videos for the album's covers of the Sinatra staples "Come Fly with Me" and "Fly Me to the Moon". [105] [106]

The following December, Perry expressed plans on the Daddies' official Facebook page to further explore the band's swing and jazz influences with another cover album, this time centered on the hot jazz of the Cotton Club era of the 1920s and 1930s. [107] Production on what would eventually be entitled The Boop-A-Doo began in Spring 2015 in Eugene, utilizing vintage recording techniques as well as the use of pre-1940s instruments to achieve an authentic jazz-era sound. [108] [109] The Boop-A-Doo was released on January 22, 2016, promoted by a music video for the 1930 Eubie Blake/Andy Razaf song "That Lindy Hop", directed by Perry. [110]

Initially, the Daddies announced that Please Return the Evening and The Boop-A-Doo would comprise two parts of a planned trilogy of cover albums designed to showcase the band's swing and jazz influences. [111] Although Perry revealed in a November 2016 interview that the Daddies' third volume of cover songs would focus on either western swing or a Babs Gonzales/"beatnik"-style bebop, as of March 2019, there have been no further updates on the status of this album. [112]

During this period, Perry was also occupied with the task of remixing and remastering the Daddies' Zoot Suit Riot compilation, having re-obtained the rights from Jive Records in 2014. Speaking on the project, he lamented that production of Zoot Suit Riot had been rushed and that only first takes had been used, noting that there could have been "2 or 3 more" takes of the songs "if we had known the future back in 1996", noting "after 25 years [of the band], I would like to make the record sound a little better". [113] [114] [115] Zoot Suit Riot: The 20th Anniversary Edition was released on CD and vinyl on January 13, 2017, featuring five bonus live tracks recorded during the band's 1998 tours. In promotion of the album's re-release, the Daddies played select dates throughout the country, performing the album in its entirety.

Bigger Life (2019–present) Edit

While the Daddies dedicated most of the 2010s to playing and recording swing and jazz music, Perry first revealed in a 2014 interview with The Huffington Post that he had started writing new non-swing songs for the next original Daddies album, describing his ambitions of making a "psychobilly/Zappa/American Idiot/R. Crumb type record that paints a picture of the American socio political scene", emphasizing his desire to experiment with rockabilly and roots rock. [106] Over the next four years, Perry gave sporadic updates on Twitter and in interviews on the development of this new album of originals, describing it in 2016 as "a little like Ferociously Stoned 2", featuring a primary emphasis on rock and funk, and then later in 2017 as "swing-ska-rockabilly-psychobilly". [116] [117] Production on the album began in late 2017, and on May 8, 2018, Perry announced on Twitter that the mixing process had begun on the finished product, now titled Bigger Life. [118]

On March 12, 2019, the Daddies premiered the first single and music video from Bigger Life on their YouTube channel, a ska punk song entitled "Gym Rat", later followed by two additional singles and music videos for the songs "Diesel PunX", a rockabilly-styled song influenced by the science fiction sub-genre of dieselpunk, and the Celtic punk/folk punk-influenced "Yankee Pride". Bigger Life was released on CD and vinyl on June 14, which was celebrated with a show at Eugene's W.O.W. Hall the same day, where the Daddies debuted a new stage show focusing exclusively on the band's repertoire of ska and ska-punk songs, a set they continued to perform at select shows and festivals, including the 2019 Victoria Ska Fest. The Daddies had been scheduled to perform as part of the Supernova International Ska Festival located in Virginia in June 2020, though the festival was ultimately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On January 31, 2020, the Daddies released the standalone single "Faux Nice, Mock Fancy", a glam rock-styled song recorded during the Bigger Life sessions. In a Facebook post announcing the single, Perry detailed that he planned to release various unreleased songs as singles throughout the year as he started work on new material. [119] This started with the single and video release of "Platform Shoes", another glam rock-styled song from the deluxe edition of White Teeth, Black Thoughts, in mid-March and a cover of Canadian rock band The Kings ' 1980 hit "Switchin' to Glide" in mid-May.

The Daddies are generally classified as a swing and/or ska band by the media, and their music is largely composed of various interpretations of both genres, ranging from traditional jazz and big band-influenced forms to modernized rock and punk fusions. During their commercial breakthrough in the 1990s, critics conceived terms such as "punk swing", [120] "power swing" [29] and "big band punk rock" [121] to describe the Daddies' unique approach to these fusions, mixing "the propulsion of swing beats and rabbit-punch bursts of brass with grimy rebel-rock guitars to give the jumpin' jive sound a much-needed facelift". [122] The Pacific Northwest Inlander wrote of this style in 1994, "atop the swing of the band's jazz you can hear strains of Parliament-Funkadelic, crumbs of barrelhouse rhythm and blues, snippets of ska, and huge whiffs of in-your-face punk rock", likening the Daddies to "Cab Calloway-meets-Johnny Rotten, or the Duke Ellington Orchestra pumped up on steroids and caffeine". [7]

The Daddies themselves used to facetiously classify their music as "swing-core", [123] exemplified by the fast tempos and frequent use of guitar distortion in their swing material, as well as "third wave swing", owing to their prominent ska influence. [6] [55] [124] [125] In recent years, however, Perry has dismissed attempts to apply labels to the Daddies' music, often casually describing them in vaguer terms as "a rock band with horns" or "a dance band that uses jazz a bit". [22] [126] Perry has compared the Daddies' style of musical eclecticism with that of Fishbone, Mink DeVille and Oingo Boingo, while also citing major influence from The Specials and Roxy Music, as well as from Fletcher Henderson, Jimmie Lunceford and Duke Ellington on his composing and arrangements. [8] [33] [127] [128] [129]

Alongside the constants of swing, ska, and on earlier recordings, funk, each of the Daddies' studio albums feature a collective assortment of varied and often diametrically opposed genres of music. Some of the musical styles the band has experimented with include blues, [7] country, [8] disco, [130] Dixieland, [58] flamenco, [85] folk, [70] glam rock, [69] hardcore punk, [131] jump blues, [132] lounge, [29] psychedelic pop, [132] rhythm and blues, [69] reggae, [85] rockabilly, [71] soca, [87] soul, [69] western swing [133] and zydeco. [134] As opposed to playing fusions, the Daddies perform each genre separately, contrasting one style against another so that the album's musical texture continually changes. [135] Perry has explained that the group's "detournement" of using vastly different genres is both a means for band experimentation and evolution beyond their typically swing and ska-oriented live shows, as well as an artistic choice, lending each song a distinctive musical personality and using certain genres to effectively fit – or ironically contradict – the tone of the lyrics. [10] [61] [136] [137]

Lyrical Edit

Steve Perry is the Daddies' sole lyricist, and writes the majority of his songs in a fictional narrative format he credits as being influenced by Randy Newman, Ray Davies and Jarvis Cocker, often told about or through the unreliable perspective of downtrodden characters struggling against adversity. [1] [7] [17] [138] Recurring themes in the Daddies' lyrics include sex, death, working class life, class consciousness, alcoholism, family dysfunction, loneliness and social alienation, frequently utilizing humor and satire. [17] [19] [38] Perry often incorporates commentary on contemporary American politics into his music, such as addressing issues relating to the financial crisis of 2007–2008 on 2013's White Teeth, Black Thoughts and exploring themes of race and class during the Donald Trump administration on 2019's Bigger Life. [100] [139] [140] The Register-Guard has described Perry's lyrics as "ribald [and] often despairing", "[probing] the underbelly of society, stabbing at oppressors such as . the pressure to conform", [2] while The New York Times has lauded them as "vivid poetry" containing "an inventiveness missing from most of the other swing bands' lyrics". [141]

The Daddies have often been criticized for their seeming juxtaposition of lurid subject matter and profanity with jazz and swing music, [142] [143] though Perry has defended the band's predilection towards "darker" lyricism and visuals, calling to attention his interest in the era's film noir and avant-garde artistic movements. [144] A prominent example of this includes the two music videos for the Daddies' hit single "Zoot Suit Riot", which – in addition to being written about the 1943 race riots – both featured pervasive surrealist imagery inspired by the films of Luis Buñuel, specifically his 1929 short Un Chien Andalou. [144] [145] "We wanted to be darker, weirder and stranger", Perry stated in a 2012 interview, "and unfortunately, with other [swing] bands it was 'Back then everyone dressed nice and was nice'. That's not true. You don't know anything about that era at all". [144]

Most of the Daddies' studio albums are written to varying extents as concept albums, featuring either recurring lyrical themes or an abstract narrative. According to Perry, this lyrical interconnectedness is intended as means of providing an album with threads of thematic stability against wildly varying musical styles. [10] [146]

In their native Oregon, the Daddies have been called "a Northwest institution", [147] having been inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame in 2009. [148] The Register-Guard has credited the band with shaping Eugene's alternative musical culture in the 1990s, while Eugene Weekly added likewise, "when some people think of the Northwest music scene, they think of grunge. If you're a Eugenean, however, you might think of swing, thanks to [the] Cherry Poppin' Daddies". [149] [150] Seattle's The Rocket commented on the band's influence in 1997, stating "[t]he Daddies were busting out the swing before the Squirrel Nut Zippers, stirring cocktails before Combustible Edison and skating the ska before Sublime . the band shakes out an incredible variety of sounds with peerless verve and polish." [1]

Together with the controversies surrounding the early years of their career, the band have also attracted a fair amount of professional criticism in their home state. The Portland Mercury have been frequent detractors of the Daddies, deriding them as "at best, an edgeless recycle of a rather particular musical fashion movement at worst, a self-conscious parody of the genre they purport to love", [151] while the Willamette Week, in an article detailing the band's polarizing reception, described the negative consensus of the Daddies as "an annoying white-boy funk rock band who, seeing the opportunity, milked the swing revival for all it was worth". [147] Jazz critic and author Scott Yanow vociferously criticized the band as the choice "whipping boy for the Retro Swing movement" in his 2000 book Swing!, writing them off as "a punk rock band who has chosen to masquerade as Swing, at least until a better fad comes along", spotlighting the Daddies' "mediocre" rhythm section and profane lyricism as a case for making them "a band to avoid". [142]

The Daddies are more widely recognized, however, as one of the first bands to revive swing music in the musical mainstream, helping spearhead the swing revival of the late 1990s which paved the way for the larger successes of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and the Brian Setzer Orchestra. [3] [48] Although the Daddies have been cited as an influence on ska punk bands the Mad Caddies and Spring Heeled Jack U.S.A., [152] [153] SF Weekly once claimed the group has "never gotten the accolades it deserves" for their eclectic funk-ska repertoire. [38] The Phoenix New Times expressed similar sentiments, listing the "woefully unsung" Daddies as among the bands that defined the Northwest's "alternative to alternative", "[delivering] rock with more complexity than three-chord guitar riffs and social critique without heavy-handed cynicism". [29] [31] In a 2008 retrospective feature posted on RollingStone.com ' s The Capri Lounge, a blog run by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine, the Daddies were declared as "one of the most misunderstood bands of the nineties". [154]

Band name Edit

—Steve Perry, commenting on the Daddies' name in 1998, Billboard [11]

The Daddies have also retained a more ignominious recognition for their off-color band name which has persisted beyond the initial controversies which pegged the band's early years. The Daddies frequently appear on lists of the worst band names of all time, including those by Pitchfork, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Toronto Sun, and VH1, the last of which called it "quite possibly the most offensive band name ever, made all the more ridiculous by the fact that these outwardly bragging virgin-sexers had a completely innocuous mainstream hit song". [155] [156] [157] [158] A 2009 issue of Blender magazine placed the Daddies in third place in a bracket chart of the worst band names, while in 2013, Rolling Stone included the Daddies on their list of "The Thirteen Dumbest Band Names in Rock History", noting that the incestuous interpretation of the name is "the last thing anyone wants to visualize while listening to music". [159] [160]

Steve Perry has expressed ambivalence about the name's controversy, conceding it's "probably the most heinous name in the history of rock" [45] though also trying to contextualize it within the band's roots in the 1980s Northwest punk rock scene: in a 2020 interview, he explained "it's a lot harder to understand the name now that the counter-cultural mentality has faded, but in that time, the idea was you wanted to choose a band name that would attract other punk rock kids and keep others at bay". [161] In a 2000 interview, he further detailed the contrast between the Daddies' name and their unexpected breakthrough into the wider cultural mainstream, saying "Pop culture is trying to offend no one. We didn't come out of that we came from the loyal opposition. We came out of the punk movement. How can I deny that? I started this band a long time ago, and we just used [the name]. We didn't know that in 10 years we'd turn into some sort of happy, peppy, feel-good things." [45]

Although Perry has occasionally voiced regret over not having changed the Daddies' name early in their career, he has more recently come to embrace the controversy around the name as his "Holden Caulfield red hunting hat - a badge of honor", dismissing critics who choose to demonize the name based on literal interpretation than the jazz-era jive slang it drew from as "outrage addicts". [33] [162] [136]


POINTS NORTH: Choice Words From An Instrumental Band

Points North ( Kevin Aiello – Drums, Eric Barnett – Guitar and Uriah Duffy – Bass) have released their sophomore CD to rave reviews (including one here on Indie Pulse). I describe them as Rush meets Yes with Trevor Rabin meets The Police. Something like melodic Prog-Rock. Whatever you call it, I call it fantastic…..even more so when it’s LIVE!

I recently had the opportunity to interview 2/3rds of the band. I think you’ll find it an interesting read.

Indie Pulse: The current line up has been together about 5 years, correct? How did the three of you get together?

Points North (Eric): Kevin and I actually met online, we’re a “craigslist” success story. I had moved to the Bay Area from the East Coast, and was looking for something to do Kevin had posted an ad online looking for musicians to make instrumental music, in the vein of Steve Morse Band, Dixie Dregs, etc., and I thought it sounded interesting. I actually missed the ad – by the time I went to respond, it had expired! So I wrote my own ad, looking for the person who had written that ad, and he found me.

The original Points North bass player was Damien Sisson, and Kevin had found him already by the time we connected, and we went in on our own and recorded a record, that became “Road Less Traveled”. But right around the time that Magna Carta Records offered us a record deal, Damien also got an offer to join Bay Area thrash legends Death Angel. Death Angel then went on what really amounted to a three year non-stop world tour. So for a while, Damien was still in the band, but we did a number of shows with “replacement” bass players. I had met Uriah through a mutual friend and killer guitar player, Danny Jones, and he was our first call I think our first show together was at a little now-defunct place called Time Out in Concord, CA, and truthfully, it felt like magic. (When Uriah wasn’t available, our other “replacement” was Stu Hamm, of Joe Satriani fame all the rock stars in Points North are the bass players!)

Finally, it became clear that the demands of Death Angel weren’t going to leave much time for Damien to be in Points North, and we parted ways with him, and asked Uriah to join the band full time. To my absolute delirious joy, he accepted we ended up re-recording the bass parts for the video for “High Wire”, the video “single” from the first record “Road Less Traveled”, and we’ve been together as a band ever since, including writing, recording, and releasing our second self-titled Magna Carta record in 2015.

IP: Why instrumentals? Is it literally a case of “let the music do the talking”?

PN (Kevin): This was really my idea. I was knocking around in cover bands for a long time and wanted to do something different. I was always a huge fan of instrumental music, especialy the Dixie Dregs and Ronnie Montrose solo stuff that I wanted to find players who would kick my ass….hmmmm, be careful what you wish, ‘cos I got it!

IP: How do Points North songs come together? Is it a jam or does somebody walk in with a complete demo or something in between?

PN (Kevin): A little bit of each, though mostly jamming. Usually Eric or Uriah will come in with some riff idea and we’ll jam it a bit and see where it goes. Sometimes the tune writes itself, other times it just lies there. We have about 5 new ideas working at the moment but nothing complete.

IP: How do you come up with the titles? Why do I ask this? Two words….Killer Pounder!

PN( Eric): That’s one of the hardest parts…sometimes a song comes with a title, but sometimes it’s struggle to find one. A lot of times, we have “working” titles, or ones that we think are funny. Killer Pounder was an example of that…that was the “working title”, it cracked us up, I think Kevin might have come up with it…and in that case, it stuck. But “Ignition” used to be called “Lobotomy”, in “honor” of the condition that Uriah was in when he showed up for rehearsal with the opening riff after a particularly rock-star night before.

IP: Do you use any “unconventional” techniques in the studio?

PN( Eric): Well, there’s this song, “Rocket Queen”, and there was this girl in the studio…just kidding. I think we’re relatively traditional, in terms of how we go about recording. We do try recording our “basic tracks” live, to get the same sort of feeling and energy that we have in our live shows, as opposed to tracking everything separately to a “grid”, which is somewhat common nowadays. And we try to limit the amount of “studio trickery” in favor of performances that we really like. But we aren’t shy to use modern gear and recording techniques.

IP: There is one vocal track on your newest release, Points North called Colorblind. Are there more vocal tracks in your future?

PN(Eric): Hard to say. “Colorblind” was the last song we did on the new record, and it came from a request from our label to try and create something with a “vocal element”. What we ended up with was closer to a more traditional song, even if about 75% instrumental. I personally wish we’d had a bit more time with it, it was basically written and recorded over a weekend, but I think we’re proud of it, for what it is. We’ll see, when we get to writing the next record, how we feel about trying something like that again.

IP: The chemistry between the three of you on stage coupled with your passion for music make your live shows an event not to be missed. If I were to be in the studio with you while recording, what kind of “chemistry” might I see there?

PN(Kevin): Some days we just go through the tunes. Some days we jam on new ideas. . Some days we play “stump the band” trying to play Rush tunes that we don’t know! When there are people sitting in a rehearsal, that rehearsal tends to become a performance if you know what I mean.

PN(Eric): I think it’s pretty much the same, when we’re all playing together. When Uriah and I are overdubbing, it’s a little different…speaking just for myself, I tend to make myself and the engineers a little crazy looking for the perfect take, to make it sound like what I hear in my head. But for the most part we have a good time in the studio as well, and we hope that comes across on the record.

IP: I know your songs are your “children” but do you have a song on the new CD that is your favorite? Why?

PN(Eric): That’s changed, for me, since the record came out. Right now, it’s “Rites of Passage”, but there are several on the new record that I’m really proud of.

PN(Kevin): First, I have to say I like playing all the tunes off the new CD, especially Ignition and Turning Point. My favorite tune to play is Rites Of Passage. I am really more of a groove drummer at heart and Rites is basically all in 5/4 time with the chorus sections in 6/4. I love playing that half-time feel in 5/4. It is challenging because Uriah’s part is very tricky for him to play as is Eric’s so my focus is keeping that half-time feel nice and consistent for them. I don’t want them to have to worry about losing the feel or their place.

IP: Who is your biggest musical influence and why?

PN(Eric): As a band, I would have to say that our most common influence is the progressive rock band Rush, and I know that shows in our music. For me personally, the other person that really influences my work in Points North is Eric Johnson, who was the first guitar player to me to really make me contemplate how the guitar could be the “voice” of the band. There are so many other great instrumental guitar players, and they were all influences too – Satriani, Vai, Steve Morse, Tony MacAlpine, so many other great players. But for me, Eric Johnson was the one that inspired me to do instrumental songs, and that inspiration continues to do this day.

PN(Kevin): The two guys that probably influence me the most are Aynsley Dunbar from the old Journey days and Rod Morgenstein from the Dregs. Lately though, I have been influenced by Gavin Harrison from Porcupine Tree. He is for me, one of the most musical drummers out there. I am always practicing some of his ideas & concepts.

IP: What band/artist would most of your fans be surprised to know that you listen to?

PN(Eric): I’m still a sucker for terrestrial radio…when I’m driving around, I still spin the radio dial to see what’s popular, current, and I’m a sucker for a good pop hook.

PN(Kevin): Probably nothing! I don’t listen to metal much. Anything from old BOC and my all-time fave, Camel and lately I’ve been listening to a couple of early solo albums by Ian Hunter (Mott The Hoople), Porcupine Tree and Rush as well.

IP: Recently you added keyboards to your live show via Uriah. I liked the addition. How did it go from your perspective?

PN(Eric): That came about from playing in “Fred Barchetta”, which is a Rush tribute set we play with the addition of a singer. There’s keys on both records, and it has really been a pleasure having some of those appear in our live show, it really “fills things out” on some songs, and Uriah did amazing work putting it all together.

IP: Standing in the audience, it appears that you guys are having a blast on the stage. How much fun is it? I’ve been at multiple shows where you received a standing ovation after your set. How rewarding is it to see that kind of appreciation from your audience?

PN(Kevin): All three of us love playing live for sure. When we get the audience feedback that we do, it makes it very special. I can tell you that regardless of the situation, playing in front of 500 or 20, we always bring our best. Eric & Uriah have really upped their stage presence game which I think kind of sets us apart somewhat. They don’t just stand there and look at their instruments and play. They like to interact in that “rockstar” way. You don’t see many bands do that anymore.

PN(Eric): It’s why we do this thing – we’re a live band, first and foremost, and it’s those reactions and the passionate nature of our audience that keeps us coming back for more, especially in a musical business climate that isn’t very friendly to bands and artists from a financial and career perspective. So – thanks so much, to everyone that’s supported us, that’s given us that feedback both on stage and off, and thank you for asking us to do this interview!



Love Walks In

By Margaret Moser, Fri., Nov. 24, 2000

"Rock-rock-rock-rock, Rockrgrl Conference"

Those rewritten lyrics to "Rock 'N' Roll High School" had been my mantra for days, so walking to the gate at Bergstrom airport and hearing a voice cry, "Hey, you're going to Rockrgrl!" was music to my ears. Yes, I was going to the Rockrgrl Music Conference in Seattle, and so were the girls from Manor Road coffee-and-music-house Gaby & Mo's who hailed me. It was a good sign.

Conference mania infected corporations in the Nineties, and was epidemic in the music industry like a bad rash. Most of them were one- or two-time events too specific or regionally limited to be successful. South by Southwest and CMJ were among the most successful, getting a head start in the late Eighties during the demise of the mother of all music conferences, the New Music Seminar in New York.

NMS defined the formula for conferences when it started in 1980: Dazzle 'em at night with a diverse array of music in as many clubs as possible -- on the promise that labels will be prowling for new talent -- then educate them by day at a series of hotel conference room panels that address their particular niche in the music industry. Don't forget the big, overstuffed goody bag for all registrants.

Every conference since has striven for a wide swath of names, gender, and race across both its musical menu and conference panelists. Not that there's necessarily tokenism going on. It's just not parity to have one woman and one black on a panel of four or five to represent gender and race if those numbers are not reflected in the industry. Most panels probably should be all white male, all Latino, or all whatever. That would more accurately reflect the way the industry works, and would then justify all-female panels like publicity or booking, where so many women get their high heels in the door.

All-female panels rarely hold any charm for me, and I've been on a few. While I came up through underground newspapers, fanzines, and alternative weeklies, most of my fellow journalists came into the field with college degrees and landed jobs at The New York Times, Newsweek, and RollingStone.com. Their descriptions of sexism in the business were initially foreign to me. They talk about riot grrrls and Courtney Love, but what about Florence Greenburg, Estelle Axton, and Barbara Lynn? The point wasn't that disparity existed, but rather how much dialogue remained unspoken.

Then there are the women A&R reps, publicists, and managers. The radio programmers, the deejays, the agents, the club managers, the songwriters, the musicians, the singers, the techs. Women are represented in an astonishing number of areas, but no matter what the topic, the all-female panels usually end up sounding to me like bathroom bitch sessions after gym class.

No More Trends

Resident of Seattle's Mercer Island, rocker, journalist, and mom, Carla DeSantis long ago noticed this lack of dialogue. Oh sure, there would be the occasional Rolling Stone story on Patti Smith or a sultry video by PJ Harvey on MTV, but the gaps aren't going to be closed by VH1 specials on "women in music." DeSantis wanted to see a print forum that didn't accuse or point fingers, but rather just talked with musicians who were women. So she started Xeroxing and stapling together Rockrgrl magazine.

Six years later, DeSantis has seen her DIY dream grow into a slick, full-color publication that sticks to its original philosophy of "no beauty tips or guilt trips," and features faces from Yoko Ono to Kathleen Hanna. She's tired of "women in music" being a topic, tired of "year of the woman" declarations, and tired of too few panels devoted to the issues and needs unique to female musicians. She wanted a conference that furthered existing dialogue.

Louis Jay Meyers, co-founder and former director of South by Southwest, had talked to DeSantis during New Orleans' LMNOP symposium in 1999. That year's panels featured a strong focus on women in rock. DeSantis' desire met Meyers' conference know-how like an arranged marriage, and the first Rockrgrl Music Conference was born.

With 550 RMC registrants and 250 bands and performers playing the music festival, the number of attendees climbs to nearly 2,000. Enough men registered to have a presence, but it's like going to Lilith Fair after being at a half-dozen Lollapaloozas.

Thursday's introductory panel "Everything You Wanted to Know About the Music Business but Were Afraid to Ask" offers early birds a chance to network before hitting that evening's showcases. The Women of Valor dinner honoring Ann and Nancy Wilson sells out quickly, leaving a few out-of-towners disappointed, but Ann Wilson performs that night, as does Wanda Jackson, Austin's Slum City and Lisa Tingle, New York jazz vocalist Arlee Leonard, and several dozen others.

Talk Talk

Spector's keynote address on Friday at noon receives thunderous applause despite Spector's losing her place in her notes often, improvising a few lines from songs, and even breaking down in tears at one point. Her gravelly voice recounts the oft-told stories of being manipulated and virtually imprisoned by Spector, ignored and uncredited for her contributions.

"I recently recorded another song," she says. "It's called 'I'm Never Gonna Be Your Baby.'"

Spector sets a good tone for the conference, because she's old enough to have something to say and cool enough to make you want to listen. With the age factor a panel topic ("Ageism: This Topic Is Getting Old"), Spector's wisdom opens the way for other women whose youthful days sit framed on the mantle. Gretchen Christopher of Pacific Northwest pop group The Fleetwoods talks about the rigors of touring in 1961, when her backstage requests for a full-length mirror and electrical outlet for her curling iron were considered excessive.

Other panels like "Mommy, Do We Have to Go On Tour?" "Stalkers: When Fans Get Too Close" and "Fishnets to Internet: Online Marketing Strategy" hit the mark of issues important to women musicians. Home Alive, a self-defense and awareness group formed after the rape-murder of the Gits' Mia Zapata, offers a "Self Defense Workshop." Typically, not everyone is happy.

Austin's Rebecca Cannon (ex-Sincola) was accepted to the conference as a performer, but turned down the invite because she was slated to play Starbucks. A reviewer for Rockrgrl, Cannon complains "it felt like a slap in the face -- like playing McDonald's or Wal-Mart."

Might she have felt at home playing another venue like the Experience Music Project, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's multi-million-dollar shrine to rock & roll? It's probably too expensive for the budding Jimi Hendrixes of the world, but it does offer priceless memorabilia. Better yet, Cannon should call up DeSantis and ask to do a panel next year addressing corporate-empire rock.

Love Is All Around

The songwriting panel offers observations from Ann Wilson, Eliza Gilkyson, moderator Sue Ennis of the Lovemongers, and a refreshingly bright Jill Sobule, who probably wishes she had never recorded "I Kissed a Girl." The panels on Lilith Fair and "Skirting the Issue: All About Image" continue the track of female-specific issues augmenting general information panels on demos, label woes, and technical workshops. Even the buzz from the Woodstock and Groupies panel (which I moderated) can't compete with Courtney Love's imminent arrival.

"Yes, Courtney," sighs DeSantis. "No, Courtney."

Sitting at a desk while Love lists the demands for her appearance, the head Rockrgrl holds the cell phone away from her ear for dramatic effect. You can still hear Courtney's shrill tone, even over the conference crowd. After the conversation ends, DeSantis sets her jaw tersely.

"No cameras, no recorders," she says.

"Courtney will be just fine, Carla," says the writer and music-industry veteran. "Kathleen Hanna's not here."

Carla laughs and sets off to arrange security for Love's side-door entrance into the hotel and ballroom. Already more than 300 RMC-goers have lined the hall to the ballroom. As capacity is reached and doors are shut, a cry rises up from the several dozen women remaining outside: "We demand! To stand! Let the Rocker Girls in!" The chanting continues a few moments before Louis Meyers hustles over to let the grrrls in.

A blast of cold night air blows in as Courtney is led through a side entrance and into the SRO ballroom. Looking decidedly unglamorous but acting most businesslike, she ignores the questions solicited and begins one-on-one conversations with various members of the audience.

"We need to support each other. I know it's hard. I know there's estrogen. I know we hate each other: 'She's a sellout.' 'She's boring.' 'She's jazz,'" says Love.

Never one to practice what she preaches, Love calls Britney Spears "a Barbie doll" and refers to Interscope's Jimmy Iovine as a "a little troll" before humorously confessing to being a heroin addict.

"I don't know how many of you knew that," she states matter-of-factly, "but it's true."

Love gets booed when she talks about Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit.

"He called me up and asked me how to respect women," she recounts. "I said, 'Fred, for starters, holding a party at the Playboy Mansion? Not a good idea.'"

Make no mistake, Love's appearance was important. The collective savvy of Ronnie Spector, Amy Ray, Kid Rock drummer Stefanie Eulinberg, Ann and Nancy Wilson, and all the others paled next to Love's sheer star power. Every conference needs a name, a ringer, one voice that will capture the spiritual purpose of the gathering and personify it. That's what Courtney Love's appearance did. She was flip, funny, and sometimes fatuous. She was smart, sly, and eloquent. She knows the value of her name and used that for a noble cause.

Women love to talk. We do. It's probably biological, since part of the physical act of nurturing is sound as well as touch. What's more important, however, is that conversations about women in music are now being addressed in an appropriate and focused forum. And the next time these subjects are broached at SXSW, CMJ, or anywhere else, RMC 2000 will be cited for its groundwork in bringing together those issues. If there's one thing women musicians like to do more than play music, it's talk about playing music.

The dialogue must continue.

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