I am a firm believer that music finds you when you are mentally ready for it. I just recently discovered the whole Hip Hop genre. I never realized that Flavor Flav had a legitimate career before resident weirdo on VH1.
Eagles of Death Metal would fit nicely into this category. All my friends went ape shit when Death By Sexy came out in 2005. For some reason I just couldn’t get into the album and pushed the CD to the back of a large tower of discs only to discover it again about six months ago. While I was cleaning out my collection, the disc was in my stack of "listen again before selling."
The Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati falls on the same weekend as two other big regional music fests, one 100 miles to our south and the other about 300 miles northwest of the Queen City. Like Bunbury, the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago and the 10th annual Forecastle fest are happening July 13-15.
In theory, the proximity (geographically and time-wise) should lead to some crossover, as artists from one event might run their tour route to the other cities to score some of those big festival performance fees. (MidPoint's 2011 fest in Cincy, for example, shared some acts with the somewhat nearby Pygmalion Music Festival in Urbana-Champaign, Ill.) But so far that hasn't happened with Bunbury, which seems to be focusing on more mainstream "Alternative" artists, as opposed to Pitchfork's more esoteric lineup and Forecastle's endearing mishmash of styles.
Louisville's Forecastle previously announced that hometown heroes My Morning Jacket would be curating the event and performing. This morning organizers announced that joining them will be Dubstep superstar Bassnectar and Dad Rock champs Wilco, plus Andrew Bird, Girl Talk, Atmosphere, Neko Case, Sleigh Bells, A-Trak, Dean Wareham (playing Galaxie 500 songs), Galactic, Clutch, Flying Lotus, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Mike Doughty, Real Estate, Deer Tick, Charles Bradley, JEFF the Brotherhood and Cincinnati's Walk the Moon, among others. Click here for ticket info and the the full lineup so far.
Meanwhile, here is who Pitchfork announced yesterday for this year's event in Chicago's Union Park: Vampire Weekend, Feist, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Hot Chip, AraabMUZIK, A$AP Rocky, The Field, Liturgy, Kendrick Lamar, Grimes, Cloud Nothings, Tim Hecker and Willis Earl Beal. Thirty more artists will be announced later.
Pitchfork tickets go on sale next Friday, March 9, at noon via the Pitchfork fest's site here.
So if you could go to any of the three festivals, based on the info available so far (and not counting travel costs and lodging arrangements) which one would you attend — Cincinnati's, Louisville's or Chicago's?
On Wednesday night in Columbus, radio station 99.7 The Blitz had a one year anniversary party and invited hundreds of fans to an appreciation party at the LC Pavillion to give feedback on the station and meet the members of the Blitz on-air team. Die hard Blitz fans were surprised with a live performance from one of the most popular bands on the station, Bobaflex. Bobaflex did an hour high energy set for the intimate crowd performing their hits like “Bury Me with Your Guns On.”
Bobaflex is an independent metal band from West Virginia that has been grinding through the music business since 1998. Over that time, they have released four albums and been on tour with National acts like Disturbed, Filter, Sevendust, among many others. In their thirteen years, they have gained a cult following centered in Ohio and West Virginia.
CityBeat caught up with Shaun McCoy, a vocalist, guitar player, and charter member of the band before the show to discuss the single that is gaining steam across Ohio in radio play and their unconventional view of the music business. Shaun’s anti-establishment view pairs with his innovative ideas to show where he envisions the music business is heading. This is seen in the upcoming release of their fourth album, Hell in My Heart.
CityBeat: I know you guys have the new album, “Hell in My Heart,” The 15 track album that came out in February.
Shaun: Well, it’s technically not out. There was some confusion about it. And now we’re re-releasing it this summer with some extra tracks. But we still have a few copies on us. We pulled it offline and stopped ordering it until this summer. We are looking at distribution deals with some investors. So we’re almost going to do our own label which is the safest thing to do these days. And using other people’s money because we don’t have that much. So we are almost doing the label thing but having more control in the band. And working with an investor or partner but not with an evil corporate label that’s going down the tube anyway.
CB: You guys have been pretty vocal about being independent and doing this on your own because you have been in the business a while. You’ve also talked about your management team and how they’ve helped out. What’s the process to go through to get the album out on your own?
Shaun: Well people are still holding onto the old, it has to be in the stores which is going to be over in the next five years. You still have to play that game and have an official release. So, we had a couple label deals on the table. They were a no-win situation for the band. So we kind of balked at them. And now, we’re doing a distribution deal. Which you’re not locked in legally with them. They just put it out in the stores and you just kind of pay for shelf space. You do all the marketing and promotions yourself. It’s up to you to promote the album. They just put it in the store. You get a way higher split on the album. You get a majority of the money and you keep the bailments. So basically they’re just a service. We took a long time picking a good distribution company because many are in trouble right now. I think we’re in talks right now with Mega Force and they may distribute us. The band ran into marketing and promotions trouble when we paid for it ourselves and it nearly killed us. So we are looking at the option of using an investor to make it easier on the band and split things down in different percentages and have someone else’s money and do like a label does and have someone else do all the promotions and marketing. And they get a piece for putting that much in and investing in the band. But still it will be a band-friendly contract. It’s not going to be a big corporate Atlantic Records thing where they get 12% of your record and you don’t see royalties for three years.
CB: Is that what the April 20th show is partly about? Are you looking for investors at the showcase?
Shaun: Yeah. I think CDs are like 8-Tracks in a few years. I mean kids don’t want to buy them unless they want something physical to be signed. That’s really it. Adults buy CDs. And it kind of kills me we still have to put it in stores because times are changing and we like to be ahead of the curve. But we’ll play that game for this album and put it in stores. It also opens up radio and touring options. People are still using that as a form of legitimacy. So we have to put it in stores. That’s the way it’s going to be. I’d prefer to have it online and at shows and you’d have to come to the shows to actually purchase it. And that would make the shows better. We’ll have it at shows but right now we have to play the CD game so we’re going to distribute it. There’s nothing finalized, now we’re in talks but nothings done but you can say we’re in talks with Mega Force for distribution.
CB: How long have you been doing this? I know you and your brother started this together.
Shaun: Legitimately, we started in ’98 but full force and making it a profession and barely working a job or not working a job and putting a 100% into from about 2003 until now.
CB: So now it’s full time for all of you.
Shaun: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s been full time for about six or seven years since we signed with TBT, our old label who went bankrupt. Once we got with them it was a full time job.
CB: If you weren’t in a rock band, what would you be doing?
Shaun: Wow, if I weren’t in a rock band, I’d probably turn to a life of crime to make a living. I’m 40 hours short of an advertising degree. I owe the government out the ying-yang. Either I’d be a criminal or I’d just work at Lowe’s.
CB: So you guys have this interesting thing where you let everybody sing. Do you get pushed to try to pick a lead singer or do people give you pressure around that or do people accept that this is how you are going to do it?
Shaun: Early on, when we had a record deal on the table, they actually liked that idea. Years ago, people asked, “Well who’s the lead singer?” Well nobody, we switch off and on. Even our bass player is singing lead on some songs. Well now, if they’re talking to me they say “Well you’re the lead singer.” Or if they’re talking to my brother “Oh you’re the lead singer.” It’s one of those deals. We kind of squash it. It’s whoever song it is. I’m a big KISS fan and I always like Ace songs best and he only sang a handful of them. That’s where we got the idea from. I’m a big Eagles fan and I like any band that has versatile lead singers. It makes the album more eclectic and it makes for better ideas. You don’t get bored or get stuck in a rut when you have three different guys and all three have a little different vibe. That helps for sure.
CB: Have you met KISS?
Shaun: I would like to meet KISS. I have not met KISS. Well, who have I met? We met Dave Mustaine of Megadeath. And that was a big deal. I met all of Anthrax, all of original Anthrax. That was cool. We have toured with Mudvayne and Sevendust but I would love to meet KISS. Absolutely one of my favorite bands.
CB: Have you ever been star struck when you met somebody?
Shaun: Yes, Jonathan Davis and Korn walked into our dressing when we were opening for Mudvayne and Sevendust and we were the openers in the Nokia Center in Dallas. Jonathan Davis had his dressing room across from us and we decided to leave him alone since he was a huge star. I was getting my tattoo worked on drinking and he walked into our room out of nowhere. I was like “What!” He said “Hey this where the party’s at. I smelled weed, I hear drinking and partying. I see you’re getting a tattoo. Does that hurt?” I was like “Noo!” I said “Thanks for having us on the show.” And I shook his hand. He said “Great having you on the show. I’ll see y’all around.” Then he walked out. Then everybody couldn’t even talk and were like “Oh my God! Jonathan Davis just walked into our room.”
CB: Yeah, I’ve interviewed Fieldy and Ray from Korn. They’re great guys.
Shaun: Absolutely. He was really cool to us. That’s the thing with the bigger tours, I’ve never really met an asshole rock star that wouldn’t talk to me or made a rule to “Don’t look at me, especially when I’m eating.” I’ve never seen that yet. That hasn’t happened on the bigger shows like Papa Roach or Megadeath.
CB: One of the things I always say when I’m doing interviews is the bigger the rockstar I talk to the more down to Earth they seem. It’s kind of been the exact opposite of how I envisioned it. Everyone is usually very nice and very down to Earth. One of the theories is that everybody has been at the bottom of this industry and worked their way up and people appreciate it a lot when you do make it and do well. Have you ever had any boyfriend or husband issues on the road?
Shaun: Well yeah, it’s happened. We’re really cool guys, we’re cool with the fans. But there have been weird situations where somebody’s girlfriend has liked someone in the band and then they come up and we don’t know them personally and the guy never comes to a gig again and sends us an e-mail, “I can’t believe you did this to me.” I don’t even know who they are or don’t even know their name. Our ex-guitar player used to have issues with that. He always had people showing up to gigs looking for him. Many times it was due to Facebook and Myspacing and meeting girls. But I personally try to be cool to the fans and I, personally have not or very minimally had that. It’s always been light and nobody’s said anything bad. I’ve had a couple guys try to steer me away from girls via Facebook or Myspace, mainly Facebook. And say, “That chick is trouble man.” And I say, “I don’t even know you man. Why are you contacting me.” I had a guy recently tell me a girl was dangerous. And I was like, “Dangerous? What is she, Al Qaeda? She’s 120 pounds. What are you talking about? Does she have a gun on her? Does she carry a knife and stab people?” I just ignored it. It’s really not too bad. Just our ex-guitar player. And all the guys at this point in the game have girlfriends. I’m the only one who doesn’t. So, on that front, I can’t say it happens too often.
CB: Well I think dating is scary these days anyway. Just meeting on Facebook or Myspace. You talk about music changing. Dating is definitely changing.
Shaun: Oh my God! In the band, you always have some nutball or weirdo a little bit. Or I’ll get stalked multiple times where I can’t get on Facebook without a thing popping up “What are you doing? Why haven’t you called me?” I’ve had that happen several times. I had an older lady, like forty years old, who showed up to gigs crying. She was a nice lady at first and really cool and ran merch for us. I thought she was a forty year old redneck mom who’s not gonna rob us. So we let her sell merch for us. Her and her daughter followed us all over the country spending so much money to follow us to gigs. I’m like “I guess they really like the band.” And they bought us beer. She was married and she started sending me weird lovey messages like “Oh Shaun I love you as deep as the ocean is blue.” So I sent her a message saying she was making us uncomfortable and chill out a little bit. A year later she started it again. She sent me these weird messages, “Oh you don’t know how much I think about you.” I finally told her that “You’re creeping me out.” Then I got this huge message of evil after I told her she was creeping me out. “Who are you to judge?” Then her son called me. And her family was “Why are you being mean to my family?” And I’m like “You’re mom is creeping me out.” It went on forever. Finally I had to quit speaking to her or looking at her. She still showed up to gigs in the front row and call out “You don’t know what you meant to me?” I’m afraid the people would think something is going on and she’s crying at the gig. She would text me for a while and I would never text her back. She got my phone number somehow. Her texts were like I was answering her calling me baby and honey and I wouldn’t answer her and she would send me, “Baby are you sleeping?” and I haven’t answered her but she would answer back like I was talking to her but never was. That was scary. That was weird. Then I found out she pulled a gun on her ex-husband. So that’s when I told the band she had a weird past and was creeping me out. There were a couple gigs that I said they had to keep that lady out of the building. That’s one of several stories.
CB: Wow. So, did somebody inspire the song, “Vampire”?
Shaun: The song, “Vampire,” my brother wrote about a needy girlfriend who wouldn’t leave him alone and needed so much attention and was draining his life and sucking his life force out of him. He’s had a few that were very needy. Read my mind all the time draining like a vampire sucking his soul away. That’s what that song is about.
CB: I’m sure she was really pleased that’s what inspired the song. Does she know?
Shaun: The girlfriend? No she doesn’t. There’s several songs about her. “Playing Dead” is about her too. He doesn’t really tell anyone about her. He’s writing about the same stuff I think in that song.
CB: Some of the best songs come out of bad relationships. Some people I talk to that say they should never get married or never get in a good relationship because they think the band will fall apart.
Shaun: Yeah, we’ve all been divorced. I’m currently separated and getting a divorce. We’ve been separated for two years. She’s had like two boyfriends. We’re good friends and everything but it was definitely hard to keep the marriage together being on the road so much. We had a child together and it was tough. There’s a song called, “On That Night”, and that’s about being betrayed by someone you loved which we’ve never really delved into too much in the past. And this album, it’s like all the things that went on during TBT’s bankruptcy and then we were owned by a bank for a year. It was hell getting a record together. We didn’t have the rights to do it. We thought of everything that happened the last few years. Jared’s song was about his and his ex-wife divorcing. There’s definitely some reality in this record.
CB: Sometimes those are the best songs.
CB: Do you guys write everything yourself?
Shaun: Yes. we worked with songwriters on a couple that weren’t singles. On this album, we definitely collaborated on everything with each other. On a couple songs, I might write the scale or my brother or Jared might but then everybody comes in and puts their ten cents into it.
CB: Where do you guys usually write together?
Shaun: Well we usually get a rehearsal spot or sometimes we’ll put it together at home. We have a nice rehearsal spot with a studio in it. We’ll just sit down from noon to five and go over the set list and some rifts. Everybody will critique everybody’s other songs. And go over them and hammer them out. We’re at the point that we’re mature enough no one will have their feelings hurt when someone doesn’t like someone else’s idea. You either like it or you don’t. We write songs a lot faster now. We know each other so well. There are still some bastards that you have to hammer out that just aren’t right but a lot of the songs come together pretty quick.
CB: Do you guys still live in West Virginia?
Shaun: Yes. I lived in Ohio for a while. Then now I live in West Virginia. Jared, I think lives in Ohio with his girlfriend. The others live half the time with their girlfriend in Ohio and the other half in West Virginia.
CB: I heard about you guys in Columbus. There’s a huge buzz about Bobaflex in Columbus. I thought you were from Columbus.
Shaun: That’s our biggest spot. That’s one of our favorite spots to play. We owe everything to Columbus and West Virginia.
CB: I was hoping you’d be at “Rock on the Range.” That’s one of my favorite festivals to shoot and go to.
Shaun: We were supposed to. We still have the number one requested song in the city. I don’t know what his prejudice was, the guy running it. He said “Oh you won’t draw 2000.” And neither does Egypt Central. We’ll draw about a 1000. Anywhere from 700 to 1000. I know all the promoters in Columbus and we outdraw all the bands when they’re out by themselves. To say all the lower bands outdraw us on “Rock on the Range” is a lie. That’s not true. I don’t know why they won’t have us on.
CB: Well sometimes they try to mix it up and want some new people.
Shaun: Yeah. And it also goes back to that release date. We don’t have a new CD in stores, not gonna be on there. We’re on the old model forever until there are no CDs left.
CB: I love the song “Bury Me With My Guns On.” I thought it was amazing that the song is all over the radio. Then I heard that you had no label and doing everything yourselves. I found the story to be so interesting from the music industry perspective. I hear the song in Cincinnati, I hear it in Columbus, I hear it in Cleveland. So you guys are doing a good job getting it out there on the radio.
Shaun: We’re number 50 on the rock charts right now and we’re paying a radio promoter like a label would. We are paying them to keep pushing it. That’s where we’re at right now. We’re on a teeter-totter at this point. We’re getting a game plan together quickly this week and next week to get this record out.
Now in it tenth year, one of Cincinnati’s most celebrated bands, Wussy (led by former Ass Pony Chuck Cleaver and his equally skilled songwriting partner/co-frontperson Lisa Walker), has amassed an amazing discography so far. Beginning with 2005’s Funeral Dress, the group quickly developed a reputation for the “ragged glory” of its performances, both live and on record. That sense of recklessness worked impossibly well with the band’s fractured, soul-burrowing love songs and the unbridled tense, passionate energy between its co-leaders. Early on, Wussy often sounded on the verge of falling apart, but there was always something magical about the group that assured you that, even if by Scotch tape and rubber bands, the band would hold it together.
But with each successive release, Wussy’s edge-of-cliff nature gradually dissipated. By the time of the rockers’ third album, an eponymous affair in 2009, Wussy had become a more confident, cohesive unit. But not in the way, say, Paul Westerberg went from alcoholic Punk poet to “mature” singer/songwriter. As the band’s fourth full-length, Strawberry, shows, Wussy isn’t getting boring. They’re just getting better. Which, considering how powerful albums like 2007’s Left for Dead were, is almost scary.
Paul McCartney — "The Cute One" — will perform at Great American Ballpark on Aug. 4 as a part of a string of summer dates that'll see the former Beatle playing Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field (among many other giant venues). Tickets for the Cincinnati date go on sale this Friday through tickets.com.
The members of Kentucky's Black Stone Cherry take pride in their closeness. They are still just four guys rocking out and living their dream. BSC's just-released third studio album, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, reached the Top 30 in the Billboard 200 and the group is currently on the Carnival of Madness tour with Alter Bridge, Theory of a Deadman, and Emphatic. The tour hits Dayton's X-Fest, at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, this Sunday (click here for concert details). CityBeat recently spoke with Black Stone Cherry lead singer Chris Robertson in depth about the band and the personal issues he has dealt with over the past few years.
CityBeat: I don’t know if people in Cincinnati know a lot about you. Do you want to tell us a little bit about what the band is about and coming to Cincinnati?
Jesse: We have never been to Cincinnati. This is our first show there. I’ve been there before with other bands and I’ve always loved the city. I’m excited to bring this band there and just show what I’ve been talking about because we always hear about how awesome the scene is there in Cincinnati. We are a straight up rock band from Nashville, Tennessee. There’s really no frills or anything too fancy in what we do. We like to put on a good show and get the crowd into a good mood and maybe help them party a little bit, dance a little bit.
Anna: Give them what they pay for. Perform on stage and have a good time.
CB: You guys are pretty known around Nashville I know and other places for high energy performing. I saw it for the first time in Chicago opening for Kid Rock and Bon Jovi. Can you talk to us a little bit about what that experience was like and how that all came about?
Anna: Yeah, totally. We actually won a competition to play that show. We put our music on this site called Ourstage.com. Ourstage has been real good to us. They were fans of our music. We had a couple songs that were number one for a few weeks. Then they put on this competition where people could vote on getting the opportunity to open for Bon Jovi. I remember we were in Georgia on the road and Jesse came across the contest and was “Hey dudes I am going to sign us up for this.” And we were all joking “It’s gonna be killer when we open for Bon Jovi.” And not really thinking of it but being positive anyway. And it came true. So we got a phone call that we won the contest to open for Bon Jovi at Soldier Field in Chicago. What was cool for me is I had never been to Chicago before. So my first experience going to Chicago was playing a gig at Soldier Field with Bon Jovi and Kid Rock. So that was sort of surreal. The experience was awesome but it was a little bit of a tease for us all because it was one show. We wanted just to do our best and kill it. I feel we all acted very professional about it. Everybody backstage and Bon Jovi’s manager told us how professional we were. It felt very natural. I’m just glad we have that experience under our belt and hopefully there will be many more to come like that.
CB: It was a great show. Very high energy. You have a video and a song called “Kitty Litter” that has gotten a lot of play. I saw an interview that the concept behind the song was “Girls can be bitches” and I thought that was the best line of the week. Can you tell me a little bit more about the song?
Anna: Yeah, sure. I mean that is sort of the basis of the song. Unfortunately from a little bit of experience. I called it “Kitty Litter” just because that is the nastiest thing. People call girls catty. What’s the nastiest part of the cat? That’s just how “Kitty Litter” evolved. I use a line in the song that it’s a pretty little ribbon that’s tied to a fatal disease. I write metaphorically, and that just sort of means that girls can come off as really pretty and friendly but once gossip gets involved, it can become deadly. It can bruise someone’s ego or friendship or that sort of thing. That’s basically what the song is about. Not all girls are like that, just some.
CB: I’d say most, at one point another, we are all guilty I think. You guys just had a song featured on TV as well right?
Anna: You can barely hear it but it’s so cool. It was on Burn Notice..
CB: What song was it?
Jesse: It was “Drop Your Panties and Roll” from our first EP Put Your Babe On.
CB: And again, another song that I like. Can you tell me a little background what that song is about?
Anna: Oh yeah, that song was inspired by celebrities and paparazzi and how people are coming out of clubs and posing for cameras. It’s how things can get crazy or dirty. It was written around the time that there was the Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan scandals wanting to show their coochies for the camera for exposure. That’s why I say in the song, “Filthy is as filthy does/ Don’t forget to pose for the camera/ Raise your glass to the writer” because the writer is basically gaining you fame for all of your bullshit. We weren’t originally going to call it “Drop Your Panties and Roll,” but our witty bass player Jairo, I don’t know, the most random shit comes out of his mouth. So I said, “Jairo, what do you think we should call this song?” And within two seconds blurted out “Drop Your Panties and Roll” and we started laughing so hard and just kept the title. It was just convenient that that title was what I was writing about.
CB: You guys have a fairly new EP out right?
Jesse: Yeah, it came out March, just a little three song EP. Amy: What are the three songs on there?
Anna: We feature “Let’s Go,” “Party Dress,” and “XOXO.”
CB: Do you guys write your stuff?
Jesse: Yeah, the guys usually write all the music and will have a full song figured out or Jairo will have the song musically figured out or if we don’t we’ll kind of jam on it, a rift that either one of us has come up with. Then once we get that solid, we’ll bring it to Anna and just jam on it til she gets some words and melodies flowing. So everyone contributes musically, then we let Anna do her magic lyrically.
Anna: That, and then they come along and cut parts out here and there and turn it into a beautiful song.
CB: Do you guys have anybody you run it across. Do you ever co-write with anybody?
Anna: No. But we have a friend of ours here in Nashville who has approached us and has offered to help co-write with some stuff. My first reaction to that kind of stuff is pretty defensive. But this guy, he gets me and my writing style. I don’t know, I give him a lot of credit for that. So he has been coming to some of our practices. We haven’t written a song together from scratch. But he has been taking a few of our songs and sort of upping the game making it a little more “poppy” and making it a little bit more placeable as far as movies and radio are concerned. So, I am sort of working with somebody but in general we don’t at all.
CB: What’s your favorite song to play live?
Jesse: Good question. I can tell you mine. We are always writing so we have a handful of new songs that aren’t recorded yet. So mine right now at this moment is one of our newest songs called “March.” It’s got a bit of a different sound than we have recently recorded. It’s going in a little bit more of a “what’s hot right now” direction and got a lot of the dance feel but it’s pretty rock and pop. That one is fun for me because I get to play a little bit of a solo. So it’s a different kind of arrangement too.
Anna: Yeah, I actually agree with Jessie. That’s not necessarily my favorite song right now but when any song is new and fresh, you have fresh energy with the song. I’m not saying that always goes away but I’m pretty pumped about that song. Otherwise, we have a song that isn’t recorded yet called “Hey Kid” that is about the downfall of the music industry and it’s very anthemy. It’s one of those I can jump around a lot. I really like that one. “Let’s Go” is fun because it has the cheerleader chant to it but it’s not cheerleader at all which is awesome. I like “Sugar Cookies” because it’s all balls to the wall and crazy and I can jump into the crowd with that song and people can get into it and just want to dance. I try to write all of our songs to be fun to perform.
CB: What are you guys listening to right now. What’s in your Ipod or your car?
Anna: Right now in my car I’m listening to Iggy Pop’s Greatest Hits.
CB: Who are your influences when you perform or written in the past? I hear a No Doubt “feel” to your music.
Anna: Oh yeah if you mention No Doubt it’s totally cool. I have quite a few influences. Non-female anywhere from David Lee Roth to Freddy Mercury, even a little bit of Kurt Cobain. But as far as females are concerned, Chrissy Hines, Joan Jett, and Gwen Stefani for sure. I grew up in a really super religious home where MTV was blocked from the television. But when No Doubt came out, my parents actually let me listen to that CD. I listened to that CD until my ears were on fire. I admired her stage presence and I think her power sparked something in me and I woke up one day and I said that’s exactly what I’m going to do with my life. Everybody in my high school knew that I would do that one day. That dream is coming true. So yeah Gwen Stefani is up there but not my only influence.
CB: You brought up being raised in the religious household. I mean Nashville has a great music scene and I love to go to Nashville but one of the things that bothers me is the ultra-conservatism that is around town. Do you have to deal with that or has that ever been a problem for you?
Anna: I don’t hang out with those people.
Jesse: Well speaking of Nashville having a really good music scene. I’m not sure if you saw the Rolling Stone article but they just named Nashville the best.
CB: I did and I just read it last night and saw the article.
Jesse: Yeah that’s huge and I got really excited when I saw that.
CB: I think it’s true. I always tell people that I find Nashville to be an awesome place but also a frustrating place because I have seen people on the street or working at Trader Joes that I feel are awesome singers or musicians that are never going to make it, better than a lot of the people out there.
Jesse: That is kind of frustrating to see that. I think, with what we’re doing, there is a really strong rock scene going on here. Of course you have country, you have Americana, you got folk, got blues, whatever. But we find more success when we play shows out of Nashville. We love living there, we love playing shows there. But everyone is a musician and everyone is a critic. You’re a dime a dozen. You’re like everybody else in town.
Anna: Right, like everybody is a music lover but if they come to see you, they never want to show it. It’s either everyone is jealous of everyone else or everybody is trying to copy someone else. Nashville is a tough crowd as a lot of big cities are, but Nashville in particular. When we go out of town, it’s night and day. We have fans who are putting their hands up and trying to get as close to the stage as possible. When that kind of energy happens, that’s when they get the better show and that’s when I’ll jump into the crowd with them.
CB: So are you guys originally from there?
Jesse: I’m from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Anna: I’m sort of a mutt but I grew up in Montreal in my childhood and then moved to South Florida for high school and college.
CB: How did you guys all come together and form the band?
Jesse: Funny story. Anna and I actually met on the internet.
Anna: Before it was cool.
Jesse: Yeah before it was cool to meet someone on the internet. I was living in Indiana at the time and going to school there and I was in a band there and really tied down. So when I met Anna on the internet and saw that she lived in Florida, I was like “long distance relationship, okay.” And we had a really strong connection. Then we started visiting each other all the time and sparks flew. So she decided to move up to be near me when I was still in my other band. As time went on, that band fizzled out. Then we started writing together, and I realized that “Holy crap! This is really good. This is the best stuff I’ve ever done.” We couldn’t hack it in Indiana anymore, we wanted the big time and the closest option that seemed like the right place was Nashville. So we moved here about six years ago and we met the other guys when we got here. I worked with our bass player Jairo. We met Nathan via Craigslist when we were looking for a drummer. So a very unique come together of how it all started.
CB: So are you and Anna together-together?
Jesse: We are together-together.
CB: Does that cause any problems? That’s a lot of togetherness.
Anna: Oh for me and Jessie? No, every relationship has its problems but I think what’s really awesome about our marriage and being together is the fact that we have a common goal. So it’s not like I want to have babies and be a stay at home mom, it’s like “F that, we are going to do this together.” We actually have a lot of fun with it. Jesse and I are best friends first. When we’re on the road, we feel that too. I don’t know, it’s really unique, we get along really well honestly. We’re all really different people but it just happens to work.
CB: I think you have to get along to be in a band together for long periods of time. It’s a tough situation but if you’re good friends, you just kind of let things go.
Anna: Yeah for sure. I would love to spread the rumor that we are real rock stars that cause trouble, drug addicts, burn out all the time, real crazy, but we’re not, we’re actually super business-minded. And don’t get into any trouble, the worst thing we do is play dirty mad-libs in the van for like eight hours straight.
CB: You guys do this full time right?
Jesse: No, we all work 9-5’s and the band is like another part time job.
Anna: But we’re working on it to be full time. That’s our goal.
Jesse: That’s our goal to make a living at making music.
Anna: You really have to believe you are going to do it. It can get really discouraging. For example, all the guys do work 9-5 jobs. I used to. I’m more of a night person and I just started waiting tables and making more money doing that. I’m working at a higher end hotel in Nashville where all the musicians come through and all the main songwriters come through. And here I am wanting to make a living for The Worsties and overhearing shit bands getting signed and things are happening for other people. I am pouring their sparkling water and wanting to throw up in their food. It’s discouraging because you see things coming together for other people. But at the same I’m super positive because every goal we have set we have surpassed so far. We’re going to get there. Our time is coming. It’s hard.
Jesse: It sounds very cliché but there is a lot of power in positive thinking. If you will it, it will happen.
MPMF news and musings: The official MPMF.12 "Kick Off Celebration" is set for Wednesday, Sept. 26, in the Hanke Building just off Main St. (215 Michael Bany Way, between 12th and Reading). The free, open-to-all (21-and-up) party starts at 6 p.m. and will feature music from DJ Ice Cold Tony (who will be laying down some mash-ups featuring MPMF artists) and great Cincy rockers 500 Miles to Memphis will blow the rest of the roof off with a set starting at 9 p.m. There will be giveaways, free Vitaminwater, free Eli's BBQ (while it lasts) and a chance to win a pair of VIP tickets to the CityBeat-sponsored New Year's Eve blow-out at Bogart's featuring music by The Afghan Whigs.
And now, with the countdown down to just 8 days, here are our daily MidPoint Music Festival 2012 picks …
Tennis (Denver, CO)
It’s been a breakthrough year for Colorado Indie trio Tennis, starting with the winter release of its stellar (and highly anticipated) sophomore full-length, Young and Old, on Fat Possum Records. After touring its comparatively lo-fi, critically-lauded debut Cape Dory (crafted by core duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley), the duo took its vintage Pop songs into the studio with The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, who helped give the songs a more direct punch (resulting in the addition of a drummer to the fold). Where acts like Best Coast and Jesus and Mary Chain rewire the classic Pop of the ’60s, Tennis write songs that often recall the ballads of ’50s Pop, something more evident and effective on Young and Old, which charted well and performed exceptionally at college radio. The band’s songs have been used on TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy and are becoming favorites in the fashion world, and they’ve also made a fan out of the Republican (one of "the good ones") daughter of an almost-President, Meghan McCain, who tweeted her joy that Tennis had become the soundtrack to her summer this earlier this year.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Lesley Gore, Dusty Springfield, the house band for Mad Men (if they had one). (Mike Breen)
Tennis performs at the Know Theatre on the Bioré Strip's Main Stage Saturday, Sept. 29, at 11:45 p.m. Here's Tennis' clip for their swoony tune "Pigeon."
The Bonesetters (Muncie, IN)
Bonesetters don’t necessarily sound like a lot of bands but they fit well in the Midwestern construct of talented groups crafting a complex sound out of relatively simple ingredients. Sparse guitar melodies, both plugged and unplugged, are appointed with spartan rhythmatism, unexpected instrumental counterpoints (mariachi trumpet, keening violin, gentle vibes, wheezing harmonium) and a quiet sense of Indie Rock urgency on Savages, Bonesetters’ full-length debut from late last year. It’s easy to understand why Muncie loves Bonesetters, it’s harder to understand why they don’t play here all the bloody time.
Dig: Clem Snide, My Morning Jacket and Gomez making high lonesome carnival Surf Rock for emo hodads. (Brian Baker)
The Bonesetters perform Thursday in Washington Park at 5 p.m. Here's the band's debut album, which you can sample below, then download the whole shebang for free.
LOCAL LOCK PICK
The Dukes Are Dead (Cincinnati, OH)
Rock & Roll
If you’re a local Rock fan who has yet to catch a live show from exciting Cincinnati foursome The Dukes Are Dead, you’ve missed out on some great shows … and you only have this one more before The Dukes Are Dead are dead. In just a couple of years — first as “The Dukes,” before adding “Are Dead” to avoid confusion with the 17,000 other bands with the same name — the foursome amassed a loyal following and even got into theater, becoming the house band for the local staging of “Rock musical” Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Though the band’s last show (sure to be a debauched blow-out) is this one at MPMF, there is hope for fans — in their farewell note on Facebook, it was announced that the members will each continue to pursue making music in the future.
Dig: No-nonsense Rock & Roll, bands with names that turn out to be prophetic. (MB)
The Dukes Are Dead's final show is Saturday, Sept. 28, at 8:30 p.m. at The Drinkery. The kind gentlemen of The Dukes are also giving fans some final recorded music as a parting gift — sample below then click on the player to download your free copy of the five-track EP, Before We Died.
Click here for full MPMF details via the official MidPoint site.
There’s no such thing as “just another day at Bonnaroo." This morning I was in attendance for a mesmerizing performance by Nashville AltCountry siren Tristen in the press tent that barely ended in time for me to race over to This Tent for a performance by Black Joe Lewis & The Honey Bears that shook me to my very soul. Their raging Funk and Soul revue literally had the crowd jumping and screaming for the duration of their 60-minute set.