The Vacant Lots On ‘Departure’, Sonic Boom & Mind Control!

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The Vacant Lots recently delivered their psych rockin’ debut album ‘Departure’, highly praised by heavyweights like The Times, NME, Pitchfork and Mojo. They enlisted the help of rock royalty to put the album together, including Galaxie 500’s Dean Wareham, Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom and Alan Vega (of Suicide). The Vermont duo (Jared Artaud & Brian MacFadyen) are fresh from a tour with the Brian Jonestown Massacre and it’s high time to find out what all the fuss is about!

Your debut album ‘Departure’ is upon us – congrats! Are you happy with the result? And what went into putting it together?

JARED: You don’t think about it at the time when you are writing the album how much work and help goes into it. We are really thankful for the amazing team and artists we have assembled to make this thing happen. The album was recorded primarily by NYC engineer Ted Young at Water Music in Hoboken, NJ. ‘Before The Evening’s Thru’ was engineered by Kyle Chunco and Ben Kindzia in Buffalo, NY and ‘Mad Mary Jones’ was recorded by Black Angels FOH main man Brett Orrison in Austin, TX. We were fortunate to have Sonic Boom on the mixing decks and mastering it all up. Our manager Samantha Tyson has been a guiding light (so to speak) managing the unmanageable and our label Sonic Cathedral has been incredible. Not to mention countless other people who have helped the record come into realization. We are really pleased with the results. We released a few 7″ singles and to have our debut LP come out of the gates this way is very meaningful to us. I know it has taken a few years, but it was worth the wait for us and we were ready to put it out there.

Peter Kember (aka Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom) mixed and mastered the album – what was it like working with him?

JARED: Sonic Boom is an architect of sound and an absolute genius. We learned so much from him mentoring us. What is most revealing about how he works is how innovative and methodical he is. It really doesn’t matter what he is doing, his entire perspective on the situation is singular and immensely creative. Moreover, through his vision we explored territory that would have been completely devoid to us if we hadn’t worked with Sonic. If you give Sonic something to work with he will do something you hadn’t ever dreamed of. When we were thinking about who we wanted to work with on ‘Departure’ we wanted someone who understood where we were coming from and where we wanted to go. Someone who would help take us to that place. Someone who knew our roots and help keep the momentum going. Sonic is also a master of subtlety and simplicity. There was no one else we could have dreamed of working with on ‘Departure’.

When and how did The Vacant Lots form? Ever thought about becoming a trio?

BRIAN: We stuck with the duo because we found we could produce a fuller, more focused sound between the two of us. As a duo we are able to really lock in and play off each other, in a way that we found couldn’t be replicated with an additional player.

JARED: We got together in 2009 in Burlington, Vermont. I had put up posters around town “looking for a drummer”. I figured that would be a good place to start. I knew right away from that first rehearsal there was something there. Something that I was looking for. Although Brian has been using a myriad of different electronics for our sound, he is an extraordinarily unique and original drummer. We did a lot of rehearsing and demo recording in that year. Experimenting with ideas and trying to sculpt our own sound out of all this raw material. ‘Confusion’ and ‘Cadillac’ came from these experiments. It wasn’t until 2010 when we got invited by Sonic Boom to tour the U.S. with Spectrum that things started to happen. I mean we only played a handful of shows. It was the first time we had really got on the road and toured. We thought about adding more members to the band, but we felt then and now that you can do more with less. It is challenging we know, but we actually like having to problem solve and figure out how to get the sound we want with just two. You can produce a lot of sound with just two people. We feel that by limiting yourself you can actually achieve more. Through these imposed limitations we have always been exploring how much two people can do with sound.

How did you connect with UK label Sonic Cathedral? I believe you’re their first stateside release?

JARED: When we heard they wanted to put the album out we got really excited. Yes, we are their first and very grateful to work with such a dedicated and supportive label. Sonic has done a lot of work with them in the past and then we were asked to contribute to the ‘Psych For Sore Eyes’ compilation. It was a natural progression from there and we all just got on very well and they were really into the album. They heard the demos and rough mixes and it just felt like a great union of sorts. Plus our manager, Sam had a lot to do with sealing the deal. It wouldn’t have happened without her.

I first heard you guys on ‘Psych For Sore Eyes’ (with The Band In Heaven, Hookworms and Lorelle Meets The Obsolete). It was a really special release, how did it come about?

JARED: Sonic Cathedral always has their finger to the pulse. Just one of many good ideas I guess. That release pulls from contemporary psych bands all across the planet. We all played Austin Psych Fest and have crossed paths one way or another. The track we contributed ‘6 AM’ was mixed at the same studio we recorded ‘Mad Mary Jones’. I had no idea at the time that we would be working with Sonic Cathedral on the debut album. It’s funny how things pan out.

What’s life like in Burlington, Vermont?

JARED: I haven’t lived there in a few years. Take it away Brian.

BRIAN: It’s a nice, quiet town. I have a small studio set up in town where we’re able to rehearse as well. I grew up there and it will always be home. The scenery is beautiful and conducive to creating.

Galaxie 500 legend Dean Wareham makes a guest appearance on ‘Tomorrow’. Did you make room for his performance or was it spur of the moment?

JARED: Well neither really. I have always wanted to work with Dean in some way. His guitar playing and lyric writing has been a huge source of inspiration for me. Dean is a phenomenal rhythm guitar player and one of the most underrated players and songwriters of all time. We had sent him a few tracks to see what he thought. He liked ‘Tomorrow’ and so I asked him if he would lay down some guitars and maybe take the solo. I never told him this but that whole middle section was inspired by Luna’s ‘Ihop’ that 3 chord break. Dean laid down the only guitar solo on the album. It’s so sad sounding and beautiful to me it fit in so perfectly.

You’ve designed your own signature TVL Fuzz Pedal – I’m impressed! How did that come about?

BRIAN: I’ve been making prototypes recently, working on some basic circuits. One piece in particular, this one knob fuzz, really stood out tonally, and allowed Jared to fully realize the grinding chainsaw guitar tone on 6AM. After discovering an effective way to apply Anthony Ausgang’s op art design to the enclosures we were able to put a small batch together that reflect the TVL aesthetic both visually and sonically.

JARED: UK label, Fuzz Club Records is selling the pedals on their website and we had a handful to sell on our UK tour with BJM.

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What are you listening to at the moment? Any tips for SBWR readers?

JARED: On the new front I would highly recommend checking out Tess Parks, The Black Ryder, Cheval Sombre and Prince Rama. On the old front I’ve been listening to a lot of Roxy Music, Nina Simone, Richard Hell and Albert Ayler lately.

BRIAN: For newer stuff, I’ve been listening to Angel Olsen, Dirty Beaches & Wooden Shjips. Also been really into Dr John’s first record, D.R. Hooker & Django Reinhardt.

Am I right that you create your own artwork or is it Anthony Ausgang’s work? Is the ‘Departure’ cover meant to send you into a hypnotic spin? Mind control!

JARED: Quite the opposite! The music and artwork may seem hypnotic, but it is designed to wake people up. Mind control is fucking evil. There is enough of that shit going on with some of the most well-known man-made institutions. It’s time for something new, no? Ausgang designed the artwork on our TVL Fuzz Pedal as well as the Arrival artwork. He is a brilliant artist truly ahead of his time, you have to check out his work if you haven’t. He has inspired us a lot. It’s true that we design most of our artwork including the Departure album sleeve. I think the visual element is almost as important as the aural experience. That is also why we use visuals when we play live. We make all of those too.

What are your favourite pieces of gear? Guitars, amps etc?

JARED: I have been using a Silvertone 1484 amp since we started. All of the recordings have this amp on it. I try to use it as much as possible live, but sometimes that isn’t possible traveling overseas etc makes this impractical, so there are other ways round it by using effects etc. For guitars I have only used a Gretsch Country Gentleman and Vox Phantom XII. The Vox is great for live playing and has this very trashy sound that I like.

BRIAN: Handwired tube amps because they’re built in a way that enables and even promotes modification and experimentation. You can pull and substitute components without worrying about messing with a circuit board. Other than the fact that the death caps could strike you down if you’re not careful, it arranges signal flow in what I consider the most intuitive configuration, and is a great tool when first learning about electronic circuitry. Plus they sound cool as hell.

I don’t mean to keep name dropping but considering this is your debut, you’ve already turned plenty of heads! What’s your connection with Alan Vega (Suicide) and how did you earn a support slot with The Brian Jonestown Massacre?

JARED: We are immensely honored to have collaborated with some of our musical heroes. And, it is a bit surreal that our first USA tour was with Spectrum and our first UK tour with BJM. I have so much respect and admiration for these artists because without them we wouldn’t be here. Alan Vega’s work with Suicide, as a solo artist and installation artist has truly inspired me in a myriad of ways. Working with him on a few releases has been a real eye opener and meeting him in person has only reaffirmed my resolve that he is one of the most brilliant and important artists of the last 100 years. We met Anton at Austin Psych Fest in 2012. He was incredibly kind and inspiring to us when we met him. We just stayed in touch. He was touring England and invited us along. We are really looking forward to it.

If you could assemble a fantasy band (of musicians living or dead), who would be in it?

JARED:

Scott Walker trading off with Jeffrey Lee Pierce on Vocals

Tom Verlaine on Guitars

Elvin Jones on Drums

Sun Ra on Keys

BRIAN:

Pete Drake on Lap Steel / Vocals

Curtis Mayfield on Guitar

John Cale on Bass

Max Roach on Drums

What’s next for The Vacant Lots?

JARED: Well ‘Departure’ is out now. This fall we are going back for a full-on European tour alongside the release of a 7” remix by Alan Vega of ‘6 AM’ coming out on Sonic Cathedral. There is more to come but we can’t really say much more about that now. Thanks for the interview.

Thanks for your time guys.

**THE VACANT LOTS DEBUT ALBUM ‘DEPARTURE’ IS OUT NOW VIA SONIC CATHEDRALLP / CD / DIGITAL**

*New single ‘Paint This City’ out September 22*

< TOUR DATES >

September 24 – London, Shacklewell Arms
September 25 – Rugby, Grand Central Studios
September 26 – Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia
September 28 – Southend, The Railway Hotel
September 29 – Bristol, Start The Bus

Visit The Vacant Lots @ Sonic Cathedral @ Bandcamp @ Facebook.

The Bilinda Butchers On ‘Heaven’, Japan & Animal Crossing!

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The Bilinda Butchers are fresh from a string of live shows following the release of their debut album ‘Heaven‘. It’s an adventurous concept record that journeys beyond genre expectations in favour of story telling. It was a complex undertaking, with a mix of sounds, samples and guest talent. The San Francisco-based trio weaved changing emotions with each new melody. In this interview the Bilinda Butchers’ Michal Palmer sheds new light on ‘Heaven’…

First up, congratulations on getting the job done on your debut LP ‘Heaven’! Are you happy with the result?

Thank you so much. Yeah we are really proud of this one! From the moment Adam and I started we had this idea for this record and we are so happy that we are finished with it. It came out even better than we could have hoped.

For the uninitiated, what’s The Bilinda Butchers back story?

Adam and I started the band when we were 16 or so. We loved My Bloody Valentine, especially Bilinda Butcher’s vocals. That sound and feeling really resonated with who we were, really shy and effeminate. So we picked the name in honor of her and to preserve that original feeling and mentality we had about making music. After finishing our two EP’s we started playing live a bit which is where we met Ryan. He fit really well and brought a different piece to the sound so we asked him to join.

Have you had any contact with the “real” Bilinda Butcher of My Bloody Valentine? Surely, that’ll have to happen if it hasn’t already!

We haven’t actually. We hope we can speak with her soon and explain what an impact she has had on us from a very early age. I’d love the chance to talk to Kevin Shields as well!

When I first came across you guys via the ‘regret, love, guilt, dreams’ EP I thought that perhaps some of the band members were on the cover!? Kinda blew that image for me! How do you go about creating the artwork for your releases?

Ohh *laughs* one of the girls is Adam’s girlfriend and the other is a friend of ours *laughs*. We are very keen on having a strong hold on our aesthetic and how we present our music. We had the idea for cover images for the first two EPs and we had to reach out to friends and artists to help us make it happen. The second EP ‘goodbyes’ was painted by our friend Yoshinori Asai. The cover art for ‘Heaven’ was done by another Japanese artist named Megumi Tsuji. We were looking for a piece that reflected the story behind the record and when I saw her artwork it just clicked.

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‘Edo Method’ is one of my most loved songs of the year – I’m not just blowing smoke! It’s a great pairing of drum machine and shoegazey guitars. How did you come up with it?

Thank you! Originally that song was really boring and had a really straightforward indie rock sound. I wanted to scrap it from the record completely but we started experimenting with different ideas. Ryan’s musical background is in techno and drum and bass, so while working on this record we were playing with a lot of breakbeats and such. So the first thing we did with this song was put in a typical drum and bass breakbeat and it just worked really well. That’s when we thought it would be appropriate to keep pushing everything to its limits and let the track get out of control.

You’ve said previously that video games had a big impact on you, particularly ‘Animal Crossing’. I don’t think many bands would be keen to admit that! Can you give us some background?

Adam and I both grew up with video games, it’s one of the biggest things we still bond over to this day. We are big fans of Nintendo, and Animal Crossing was one of those games that just really struck us (perhaps maybe a little more me than him, I have an Animal crossing tattoo) *laughs*. But there are a lot of video games that have made a huge impact on us. Truthfully, we would love to make music for video games and movies more than make records.

‘Heaven’ is a concept record built around Nakajima Ume’s Japanese love story. How did this idea come to fruition? Was it tough building an album around the idea?

It was a really interesting and difficult process and a lot of people were involved. Adam and I knew that we wanted to make a concept record before we even started really playing. So after we had our first two Ep’s under our belts we knew it was time. About three years ago I had started getting into 19th century Japanese literature as well as rediscovering my love for Samurai Champloo. The video for ‘The Lover’s Suicide’ is pulled from an episode of Samurai Champloo that ended up influencing the entire story.

‘The Lover’s Suicide’ is a popular tale in Japanese culture as well, so once the idea sort of started developing I submersed myself in research. I read a lot of travel diaries and tragic romances from the period and we pulled a lot of the elements of the story from those works. I worked really closely with Michelle Yoon, a close friend who helped me develop the story with the record. The really difficult part was that we had written about 45% of the record before the story was fleshed out so we had to fit the story into the music rather than sculpt the music to an already finished story. This was an incredibly difficult task but I think we did a really good job with it. And if you listen to the record with the story in mind you can hear the emotional dynamic with how the story progresses.

What was the recording process like for ‘Heaven’?

There are some things that I am not at liberty to discuss about the recording process. We used some really unorthodox recording techniques that most people would shudder at. But I will say that it was entirely done on two computers at home, using very minimal equipment. My producer Lukas Untersteiner and I basically pushed ourselves to our limits in the digital realm and somehow this is what we made.

I read a blog post while you were putting the album together, it seemed like frustration levels were running high and it almost got scrapped. What were the road blocks you came across?

*laughs* I’ve had a lot of comments on my diary recently. This project was really large and there was so much that went into it that I really needed a place to vent. I also wanted to have a record of some of the emotional trials I went through. I am not as good at keeping it updated as I would like to be. Someday soon I think I will fill in the gaps. I also deal with depression, especially when I am working on music. I have really extreme highs and lows so sometimes I wake up and just say I’m not making music anymore, I don’t like it at all. And sometimes I think I’ll do it forever. The diary reflects a lot of the low points *laughs*.

There’s a number of guests on the album (Juri Nakashima, Sarah P, Lamp & Harriet Brown). How did you end up working with them?

Juri is a close friend who lives in Japan. We bonded over poetry some time ago but we’re unable to speak each other’s languages very well. We found we had a lot in common emotionally when it came to art. I visited her in Japan last year and we finally got a chance to sit and talk. Our bond over art became stronger and stronger. I knew I wanted to work with her and make something that had both of our names that could be cemented in history. This project was just that.

The collaboration with Sarah Psalti happened very naturally as well. We were looking for a female vocalist for ‘Golden House’ and I contacted her immediately. It was only a couple of days after her announcement of leaving Keep Shelly In Athens so we were really worried that she was done with music. She took some time getting back to us but she replied with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm for the whole idea of the record and track. She sent over one take of the vocals and it fit in perfectly.

Lamp are a band from Japan that are incredible. They are my favorite band. We were fortunate enough to start speaking with Taiyo, the guitar player some time ago and when I travelled to Japan last year I went to meet with them. So when I returned back home to work on the record I knew that I had to have them on it. Again they sent over one take and it was perfect. It fell together very naturally.

Harriet Brown is one of my best friends who I actually lived with for about two years. He just recently moved down to LA. We both would make music in our bedrooms and hear each other through the wall. It only felt natural for us to work on something together. Aaron has a beautiful singing voice and I knew that I wanted to showcase that somewhere. The last track which suggests Ume’s arrival in ‘Heaven’ is greeted with Aaron’s energetic vocal. I think it was really important to have something big and energetic at the very end to explain the happiness and excitement that Ume feels now that she has finally made it to her destination.

Your label Orchid Tapes have been putting out some really impressive stuff this year! I’m talking Foxes In Fiction and Alex G. How did you get involved with Orchid Tapes?

Warren and I have been friends for a while now. We started talking after we released ‘regret, love, guilt, dreams’ and have wanted to work together for a long time. We started talking about ‘Heaven’ about 3 months or so ago, but very casually. I told him about the recording process and why I was doing the project. He told me about his record ‘Ontario Gothic’ and how it had took him a long time to finish it. We just bonded so much on the process of making art that when he finally asked us to join Orchid it seemed very natural. Like being welcomed home by family.

What have you been listening to this year? Any top albums of 2014?

To be honest I don’t listen to much current music. There is too much of it out there. But one of my favorite records that I have been listening to a bunch lately is by Shed. It’s called ‘The Killer’ and I think that it’s one of the most progressive and hypnotic “shoegaze” records to date.

How have you found self-funding yourself for so many years? Any tips for up and coming independent bands?

It’s a difficult market out there. We started out when the climate was in between the death and rebirth of the “music industry.” Free music, death of labels and such. So it was really difficult to navigate and gain traction. I said no to so many things when we started out because I had no idea what I was doing. I think it’s important to be aware of who you are and where you fit. Decide EXACTLY what it is you want to be doing and look at other people who are doing the same thing. Reach out and try to get some advice!

What are your most treasured pieces of gear?

I don’t have any one piece of gear I favor. Adam and I love our guitars and we have a quadraverb we like. I try not to become attached to these things so that I can always fall in love with another instrument or piece of gear when it comes along.

Any plans for a second album yet? Given this has been a long term process I’m guessing you’re eager to push onto something new/different?

We have ideas and we are starting to have meetings about the next concept. But for the time being we still have a lot of work to do on this record.

If you could assemble a fantasy band (of musicians living or dead), who would be in it?

Mukai Shutoku from Zazen Boys, Damon Albarn (Gorillaz Era), Kevin Shields and both of the guys from AIR.

You’ve got some live shows coming up, what else is on the horizon for The Bilinda Butchers?

We haven’t decided in which direction we will go in immediately. Play some shows, keep making music, get better and keep going.

If you’d like to make any shout outs or have anything more to add, here’s your chance!

Thanks to everyone involved in the record. It was such a labor of love. Michelle Yoon especially who helped work out the story behind the concept and was a great friend throughout the process. More from her and I in the future!

Thanks Michal for your time, honesty and the music.

*** THE BILINDA BUTCHER’S ‘HEAVEN’ IS AVAILABLE @ ORCHID TAPES (VINYL SOLD OUT) @ FASTCUT RECORDS (CD) & ON DIGITAL***

**THE ‘HEAVEN HOLDS A PLACE 7inch NOW ON PRE-SALE VIA FASTCUT**

 Visit The Bilinda Butchers @ Orchid Tapes @ Bandcamp @ Facebook.

Lowtide On The Debut Album, Dual Bassists And Future Plans

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This month we welcome Lowtide‘s debut full length ahead of their Australian tour (kicking off this Friday in Melbourne)! The album arrives four years after the four piece delivered their debut EP ‘You Are My Good Light‘. The Melbourne-based band released the much praised ‘Underneath Tonight/Memory No. 7‘ in 2011, a mix of reverb heavy dream pop and shoegaze. For their full length, Lowtide have taken all the necessary measures to fine tune their music into a well rounded record. Singer and bassist Giles Simon recently explained what went into making the album. Giles isn’t lacking in wit or dry humour! One of the more entertaining interviewees so far…

It’s been a long time between drinks! Loved the debut EP ‘You Are My Good Light’, obviously a lot has changed since 2010. What were you looking to achieve with the debut full length?

It took us a long time to settle on the way we were going to approach recording the LP because we didn’t really feel rushed and wanted to let things happen a bit more organically. We had a lot of the songs from the start, but arranging and sequencing things, recording them in particular ways, in our own time, was what we were after with the first record. That, and good album art.

Can you tell us a little about the recording process?

We recorded the album over two years or more. We had demos and ideas for some of the songs that probably date from around the time of the first EP. We were lucky to be working with someone who both had the time-space continuum and matching enthusiasm to let us develop the record over such a long time and come up with something we all felt was right for the band as a whole. Gareth, who recorded and produced the record (assisted by young Thom) was really patient with us, from the first sessions at Soundpark’s great studio space, through to vocal overdubs in a cupboard in Abbotsford, and all the time spent with Gabe’s guitar going through some, well, ‘changes’.

I’ve heard Gareth Parton (Foals, The Go!Team, The Breeders) is quite a character! How did he help shape the album?

Gareth Parton is a consummate professional. He absolutely put his foot down when it came to hard-panning the two bass tracks. *laughs*

Comparisons have been drawn between Lowtide and acts like Tamaryn, The Cure and Slowdive. Where do you see Lowtide’s music sitting?

We have all liked, and sometimes even loved those bands, at various stages. Sometimes more intensely than others. We all listen to a pretty diverse selection of recorded music and so, while we are indebted to the sound pioneered by people like Christian Saville and the bands from the Sarah Records catalogue for example, it’s more a reference point for us, a starting point. From there we can really do anything (so long as we can agree to just what that might mean).

One of the unique things about you guys is the dual bassists/vocalists setup. How does that work and effect the song writing process?

The only other band I’ve seen playing with two basses is Sonic Youth, who are one of the great guitar bands. Other than that I guess we felt like this approach just balanced the way Gabe was playing his guitar and then the ability to explore vocal harmonies, which I don’t think happens in live music enough anymore, was a result of the fact that Lucy and I are really playing the same role in the band, just sharing it. A lecturer who taught me at Melbourne Uni, David Rathbone – the coolest philosophy lecturer you’re ever likely to come across – invited me to his recording studio once (I know!) and we had a discussion about a band with two bass players in it. It only occurred to me recently that I pretty much went out and enacted exactly what we talked about that day, even though it was about 6 years ago, in Essendon, and a long time before Lowtide really happened. I saw Kim Gordon play the other week. She is an amazing performer. She looks like my mum, but one louder. *At this point we all want to see a picture of Giles mother… but that would be awkward right?*

What’s your most loved song on the album and why?

I really like the way ‘Maxillæ Leaving, Seaward’ turned out. The recording of the separate instruments, live and only lightly overdubbed by Gabe with extra guitar tracks, really represents what I enjoy about being part of Lowtide. Although it is the most ‘post-rock’ sounding track on the record, for me it is the centre of what Lowtide as a band is all about.

I really enjoyed the interplay of male/female vocals on the record. Do you share lyric writing duties throughout?

Yes, but it comes with the sometimes awkward experience of having to explain what you mean by a lyric such as ‘gross aluminium chesterfields hang yellow light brigade, ornaments’ to someone with whom you expect to duet it with clarity and intent. *more laughs*

Did any particular music or artists influence the new album?

This album was entirely conceived, fully formed, after a day spent bathing in the serene, pale glow of Tiepolo’s ‘Banquet of Cleopatra’. She hangs on the western wall. *I don’t think that’s true… more laughs*

You’ve played shows with A Place To Bury Strangers, HTRK, Royal Baths, The Laurels and so many Melbourne locals! What’s been the stand out show so far?

Playing at the Lowfly Hangar in Brisbane with Blank Realm, Feathers, and Sputnik Sweetheart for our seven inch launch was a pretty great night for all of us I think. That place must have had some pretty wild shows if that show was anything to go by. We also played with Underground Lovers at the Corner recently and I was really into that. Especially as someone commented on a Youtube clip that they saw us open that night and thought we were better than the Undies. I don’t know about that but keep your pants on I say.

What are your top albums of 2014 so far? Any tips for SBWR readers?

I’ve just been listening to Francis Plagne’s new (4th!) record. I don’t know if it is going to come out this year, but it really is a humdinger. I haven’t heard the Full Ugly album yet but I don’t doubt its vitality. Otherwise it’s been all about 2013: Parading, the Ancients, and Day Ravies. Live: the Aesthetics blew me away at Goodtime Studios earlier in the year, so did the whole Elevator Alligators/Zanzibar Chanel party at Hugs and Kisses that happened around the same time.

How’s life in Melbourne? We’ve been blessed with some great music from your city (Contrast, White Caves, Flyying Colours, Minatures and more). What’s the big secret!?

Melbourne is great, I’m writing this from New York and it really has nothing on Melbourne when it comes to aspirationless, blatant pop hedonism, and beers with friends. Also, a shitty federal government and inner-city, latte-sipping friendly oases like Kensington really help kick out the jams.

What are your most treasured pieces of gear?

This is really a question for Gabe, the gear-head, but for me it’s the Changu, or Jew’s harp that I snuck into the vocal track on Wedding Ring without anyone knowing. My friend Callum gave it to me as a gift from his trip to Thailand and it came packaged inside a Chinese Finger Trap. Welcome to the 21st century.

What’s next for Lowtide?

Well apart from new songs leading to a sophomore effort that will knock your socks off, we are all pursuing various extracurricular activities that, while currently at an arms length from the band brand, we have planned to bring in under the Lowtide umbrella for various cross-promotional opportunities as part of the ‘expanded-concept album’ planned for the not too distant future. Gabe has started his own line of iPhone-wear, clothing suitable for when you are using your mobile. Anton has been short-listed to play the lead part in the upcoming Jarvis Cocker biopic that is rumoured to be directed by Wes Anderson, and Lucy and I are still working on a side-project called Drunk. Look out for that.

The Melbourne album launch is Friday 25th July at The Tote and the full tour details are:

Friday 25th July 2014 | The Tote, Melbourne VIC
w/ Summer Flake, White Walls and Bloodhounds on My Trail

Saturday 2nd August 2014 | The Metro, Adelaide SA
w/ Alpha Beta Fox and Ride Into The Sun

Friday 8th August 2014 | Roller Den, Sydney NSW
w/ Devotional, Miners and Shrapnel (Day Ravies solo)

Thursday 11th September 2014 | Brisbane QLD
Details coming soon..

**PICK UP THE ‘LOWTIDE’ LP VIA LOST AND LONESOME**

Visit Lowtide @ Bandcamp @ Lost And Lonesome @ Soundcloud @ Facebook.

Lorelle Meets The Obsolete Talk Chambers, The Tour & Triple Fuzz!

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If you’re a fan of psych rock, chances are you’re already in love with Lorelle Meets The Obsolete! Since releasing their debut LP ‘On Welfare’ back in 2011, the duo have produced an incredible catalog of unique rock gems. Most recently with ‘Chambers’, their third album in just four years. The duo is Lorelle (singer-guitarist Lorena Quintanilla) and partner Alberto Gonzalez (drums, guitars, vocals and drones). The Mexican-natives recently returned home from an extensive tour, taking some time out to talk ‘Chambers’, the shows and their fantasy band line-up…

What was the experience of recording ‘Chambers’ with Cooper Crain like? Did he bring new ideas to the table for your third record?

Alberto: It was very intense. We spent three days with him in the studio and he mixed all the songs on the go. He mastered our previous record and the ‘Ghost Archives’ seven inch so I guess he already had a specific idea about what he wanted to do with our sound. During the sessions we just tried to let him be and welcome every opinion he had. We would love to work with him again.

Tell us a little about the single ‘What’s Holding You’. It’s got extended passages of wandering guitar noise (not a traditional choice for the lead single). What set this track apart?

Alberto: I think it really sums up the way ‘Chambers’ sounds. It’s a very straightforward song. There’s not a lot going on in it in terms of instrumentation just like in the rest of the songs. Also Ben from Captcha and Nat from Sonic Cathedral agreed on it being a good introduction to the record.

Since releasing your debut, there’s been a steady stream of new material – when do you sleep!? How do you maintain the work ethic and remain creative?

Alberto: We recorded ‘On Welfare’, ‘Corruptible Faces’ and ‘Chambers’ while we were still living in Guadalajara and Mexico City. It was the time when we had day jobs that we didn’t like so playing music was kind of a relief from our routine. Now that we live in Ensenada the band has been getting busier and we haven’t had the chance to record new material but we always find the time to keep making new music.

How do you approach personal themes in the lyrics when you’re a husband and wife team? Is it hard writing an angry song or a love song about your partner when they’re next to you in the studio?

Lorena: It was weird for me at first. I tried to pretend that Beto didn’t realize what I was talking about. Now I feel more confident because we respect each other’s private space and in the end it’s not like our songs really talk about us as a couple. Most of our songs approach other themes.

How has Mexico influenced your sound? Did the move to the Baja California coast make an impact on your art?

Alberto: I think our sound comes from everything we’ve experienced from growing up and living in México.

Lorena: We’ve toured a lot since we moved to Baja California and I think this fact has had a huge impact in our music.

Did you have any preconceived ideas for ‘Chambers’? Was there a conscious decision to build on, or explore new territory than the ‘Corruptible Faces’ LP?

Lorena: I do remember that we wanted to give more importance to the bass guitar lines. The rest was pretty much the same process.

Is it tough working creatively as a duo? Do you ever feel like you need to call in an umpire or third party to adjudicate!?

Alberto: We do argue a lot but most of the time it flows smoothly. Sometimes is just refreshing to have someone outside our environment giving a different point of view. Like Cooper on ‘Chambers’ or our friend Chivo who recorded some drums in ‘Corruptible Faces’.

In the past three years you’ve grown tremendously and are now reaching a much bigger audience, if you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

Lorena: I would turn down playing some shows that we played on the early days.

You’ve worked with several drummers and bass guitarists on tour, how do you manage this? Is translating the record to the stage a challenge?

Alberto: One of the reasons we keep having new people playing with us is that we can’t afford traveling with the same band every time we tour. It has its pros and cons but above all it keeps the songs fresh. We usually rehearse a couple of days before the tour starts and let things settle on the go.

Did any particular music or artists influence the new album?

Lorena: Syd Barrett’s ‘The Madcap Laughs’.

You’re just back from a tour – what’s been your most memorable show?

Alberto: Touring is the best! Last year’s show in Richmond, Virginia remains as one of our favorite. This year’s show at the Dalston Victoria in London was amazing and the LA show at the Smell was super emotive.

How did you approach the creative process for ‘Chambers’? Do you collaborate from the start or work alone?

Lorena: This record was very collaborative. We had some ideas on our own but we developed them all together. Most of the time we were just sitting down jamming these raw ideas. Beto would keep playing some guitar figure until some vocal melody came up and so on. We enjoyed it a lot.

What are your most treasured pieces of gear?

Alberto: Before leaving on tour this year, our friend Bolo from Testing Electronics gave me a triple fuzz he built and I love everything about it. Also my Musicman 112rp100 guitar amp is a nice piece of equipment.

Lorena: My Testing Electronics overdrive and my Shin-ei fuzz wah.

Is you could assemble a fantasy band (of musicians living or dead), who would be in it?

Nico on vocals, Geoff Barrow on drums, Kim Gordon on bass guitar, Dean Wareham on guitar, Daryl Hooper on keys and Tim Presley handling the other guitar duties.

Have you got any future plans beyond the tour? Is there another record on the horizon?

Lorena: There are some releases coming out, we just started working on another album and we’ll possibly tour again towards the end of the year.

**’CHAMBERS IS AVAILABLE NOW @ SONIC CATHEDRAL (UK) @ CAPTCHA (USA) @ BANDCAMP (DIGITAL)**

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Visit Lorelle Meets The Obsolete @ Sonic Cathedral @ Captcha @ Bandcamp @ Facebook.

Beautiful Noise Director Eric Green Discusses Documentary Making, Kevin Shields & What’s Next [Interview]

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Californian film maker Eric Green has spent almost a decade working alongside producer Sarah Ogletree to create a music documentary that explores the birth of 80s and 90s guitar rockers My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, The Jesus & Mary Chain and many more! The huge task meant coordinating more than fifty interviews, negotiating music clearances and raising funds with the help of like minded music lovers. Late last month Beautiful Noise was warmly received at its Seattle premiere. Eric continues to organise Beautiful Noise screenings on the film festival circuit and has kindly made some time available for an interview. There’s still plenty of supportive fans eager to see the film (as the home video release is still to come), hopefully this will ease the wait…

 
Thanks for taking the time out to chat Eric. ‘Beautiful Noise’ has finally premiered in Seattle – congratulations! How does it feel to finally share your documentary with the world?

It feels good, my producing partner Sarah and I are very proud of the film.

How did you first get started in film?

I grew up obsessively watching movies and my interest turned into writing and directing.

What inspired you to create ‘Beautiful Noise’?

I would flip channels and see documentaries about every music genre imaginable but never these groups.

You managed to assemble an amazing bunch of people for the film. Did this involve a lot of door knocking or did you have an existing network of friends to help you pull it off?

It was an impossible task. It took a lot of emails and calls and asking people for help, each interview helped us get the next one.

Given it’s been more than twenty years since the rise of My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Cocteau Twins – it’s amazing that there isn’t more books/films about shoegaze – why do you think that is?

That is part of why I wanted to make this film. They were ahead of their time in the beginning and their music wasn’t widely circulated because of it, I think with the internet and the dedication of their fans word has spread now and they are at a sort of tipping point. I see 18 year olds walking around Amoeba music here wearing My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive shirts and that speaks volumes I think.

Can you tell us a little about what went into creating the documentary. Did you start out with interviews and then plan out a narrative?

I wrote a treatment that was the basis for the film and the story points evolved over time as we would get each interview. Ultimately Sarah and I went through all the interviews and selected clips, transcribed them and then I wrote the script which became the blueprint for the film. The documentary went through many iterations as we discovered new archival footage and the motion graphics and visual effects were designed. It was originally something like 4 hours with all interview clips. It was really hard cutting any of the clips because there are a lot of interesting aspects about these people and the music they made.

Who was the most enjoyable interviewee? Any surprises?

They were all pretty great, Kevin Shields stands out. After two years of trying to get an interview with him it happened at the last possible moment before we had to catch a flight back to the U.S. on one of our trips to the U.K. I had almost given up and then he showed up at our hotel in the middle of the night and sat down for a four hour interview. He is a really interesting guy.

Given you’re a big fan of these artists yourself, did you have any “oh wow I’m talking to…” moments?

I have interviewed a lot of famous people over the years. I make a lot of short form documentaries on the making of films and I have learned the best thing to is to try to talk to them as a friend who happens to be a great artist. I really liked meeting every person in this film, they are all extremely interesting and nuanced individuals and I found I had things in common with most of them, we were very like minded.

What were the biggest challenges putting the film together? Ten years is a long time!

Music Clearances were the biggest hurdle. There weren’t investors lining up for this film. It’s a labor of love and it couldn’t have happened any other way.

If you had to do it all over again, would you do anything differently?

This is one of those things that could only ever happen once, and only exactly as it did or it might never have happened at all. I really had no idea how difficult it would be, in nearly every aspect.

What’s next for Eric Green? Any future projects on the horizon?

Yes, I have a lot of projects I’m working on. I have a novel coming out, I’m finishing a new script, and Sarah and I are working on ideas for a new film.

Any parting advice for budding documentary filmmakers?

Always be prepared, never give up, even when it seems like it may never happen and no one cares, don’t let the rejections get to you, just keep looking for a way until you find it. Like I said, I had no idea how hard this was going to be but I also had no idea how many people, a great many people, would see the value in it the way I do and help me to make it happen. My producing partner Sarah was a very integral part in making this film and when I started I hadn’t even met her yet. So yeah, be prepared for anything.

*Read Eric’s Beautiful Noise Film Diary @ Synesthetic Sensations*

More Of Beautiful Noise & Eric Green online @ Tumblr @ Kickstarter @ Twitter @ Facebook.

Fait On ‘Atmosphere’, Life In Perth & The New Band

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Following the release of Fait‘s debut EP ‘Atmosphere‘, the guitarist takes a moment to discuss recording with producer Darren Lawson (MBV), life in Perth and what to expect from the new live band. Here’s our full interview…

Your debut EP ‘Atmosphere’ has just been released – how long have you been working on it? Guessing you’re pretty excited?

Yes, I’m very excited to finally release it! Darren and I recorded and mixed the EP in about 3 weeks, but there was one song in particular that took longer than we expected. We ended up emailing mixes back and forth for a couple of months until we finally put it to bed. The songs themselves were written over a 2 year period.

How did you end up working with UK producer Darren Lawson? Did you learn a lot from him?

I had worked with Darren previously with my old London band The Six, when we recorded the ‘Cinematic Post Rock’ album together (for Imagem Production Music). He did a brilliant job on that so he was my first pick for producing Atmosphere. He has this incredible knack for articulating each layer of sound and there are A LOT on Atmosphere. I definitely learnt a lot from him. We work really well together and he just gets what I’m trying to do.

Was starting Fait as a solo project a matter of convenience (practically speaking)? Or did you have some creative itches you needed to scratch?

It was a bit of both. I had just returned back to Perth after living in London for 4 years, I was band-less and feeling like I was back at square one. I had a bunch of demos ready to go so I figured I may as well record first and worry about a live band later. So I flew back to London and recorded the EP with Darren. Adam and Aps who played bass and drums in The Six kindly stepped in to play the rhythm section on the recordings. I couldn’t have made Atmosphere without these 3 guys.

One of the thing’s I really appreciate about your music is that it doesn’t fall into the genre trappings of instrumental rock music. For instance, the predictable giant crescendo’s of post rock. Instead, it’s more melodic and atmospheric. Is that a conscious choice you’ve made?

Probably. I love layering but I am also really aware of keeping space in my music. I definitely believe that the space between notes is just as important as the note itself. I don’t really listen to instrumental post rock, so that could be a reason also!

Have you been tempted to include vocals on your music?

No, not as yet. But I’m always open to new ideas.

What are your main musical influences?

My main musical influences would have to be The Cure and PJ Harvey. I take inspiration from all sorts of musicians though.

What’s the Fait back story?

When I moved to London in 2009 I wrote a bunch of tracks with the intention of finding a vocalist to complete them. I ended up with an amazing band, but never found a vocalist. So by default, we became an instrumental outfit. We had an absolute ball playing around London and worked with some pretty cool people like Dean Garcia from Curve. The band came to a natural end though when I decided to come back home.

The video for ‘Surrender To’ received lots of love online! What went into shooting the clip?

It was all very last minute actually! We started throwing around the idea of making a video clip about 2 weeks before we filmed it. It was filmed at The Bakery here in Perth, which is one of my favourite venues. It was a pretty simple set up, a few flood lights, one manic strobe and an industrial fan! We had a great crew and John Aliaga who directed the clip was fantastic. We knocked it out in 4 hours. We were really happy with how it turned out and were blown away by the 12,000 views that we pulled in the first couple of days of putting it up. That was until youtube pulled it down.

What was your creative process while working on ‘Atmosphere’? Did it all start out with guitar parts?

Yes it always starts with guitars (except for Halcyon which is predominantly piano!). I’ll come up with a riff first, then think about a bass line and begin layering from there. I don’t play drums, so I tend to pick really simple and dramatic drum loops.

Composition and different textures play a big part in your songs. Do you often need to re-write your ideas?

Yeah I do. I can go through multiple versions of a song before I finally settle on a finished product and sometimes that can takes months. It can get really frustrating! In a way it’s quite hard not having vocals, there is nothing to hide behind and I feel like I need to work that extra bit harder to keep the listener captivated.

Do you play more than one instrument?

I play piano and guitar.

What’s your go to gear set-up?

Delay, delay, delay! Throw in my Foxey Fuzz, phaser and hot rod deluxe and that’s me done. I use Logic Pro for all my other sounds.

Does being a woman in a traditionally male dominated rock world throw up any challenges or road blocks? I should hope not.

Not at all actually. Everyone has been really supportive and lovely.

Is life in Perth treating you well? Is there a strong music community and live scene?

It took me a long time to settle back into Perth. It was such a culture shock coming back from London, but there is no denying that there is an amazing music and arts scene here in Perth. The calibre is really high, it makes me proud to be from here. And it’s such a supportive community too, a far cry from the zoo that is the London music scene.

What have you been listening to recently? Any tips for SBWR readers?

It’s not new, but I’ve been listening to a lot of The Soft Moon lately. I love the walls of synths that they incorporate into their sound. As for Perth bands, Hyla and Methyl Ethel are amazing – and they have kindly agreed to play my EP launch!

You recently assembled a full band for live shows, was that a difficult process? Did having the EP finished make it easier for everybody to learn their parts?

It was really difficult when I initially tried forming a band about a year and a half ago. That’s why I scrapped the idea and decided to pursue recording first, and that was the best decision I have made. I had total control and the songs came out sounding exactly as I had envisioned it. I could then start building my name without having to rely on anyone else. After I finished the EP I met Mike (guitar) and Rob (bass) through a mutual friend. Darrell and I (drums) met 10 years ago when we briefly played together in a local band. It all came together when it was meant to, and when it did it happened pretty quickly and organically. They are excellent musicians and I’m really excited to start playing live this month.

What can fans expect from your live shows?

Our live show is definitely more raw sounding than the record, which makes sense as it was very much a studio album. People can expect big, beautiful walls of sound as well as some more fragile/delicate moments. We want our shows to be a visual experience too so will be experimenting with projections.

Is it likely the new line-up will appear on future recordings? Do you think working with them will influence your sound?

Yes, I’m definitely keen for them to appear on future recordings. We create a pretty apocalyptic sound in the rehearsal room so it would be great to catch that on record! It’ll also be nice to spend time rehearsing with a band before recording. Last time I only had 2 rehearsals to run through the songs with Adam and Aps before entering the studio, it was pretty rushed!

Are there plans for a full length album?

Yes, eventually.

If you could work with any artist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

I’d be happy just sitting in a rehearsal room with Kevin Shields watching him create warped noise.

What’s next for Fait?

We are launching Atmosphere at The Bird in Perth on the 31st May. And in August we’ll be heading over to Sydney and Melbourne to play some shows, which we are super excited about!

* Download Fait’s ‘Atmosphere’ @ iTunes / Read the full review here *

Visit Fait online @ Soundcloud @ Facebook.