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The Subjects

Brooklyn is a truly great place. Although it may never be as popular as it’s older brother, Manhattan, the thing about Brooklyn that makes it truly unique is it’s rich and vibrant music scene. This is the bustling borough that has brought us the likes of Grizzly Bear, Yaesayer, and other great artists that were born elsewhere but now call Brooklyn home like Sufjan Stevens, MGMT and The National. Today we would like to pay homage to another great four-piece coming out of Brooklyn that goes by the name of The Subjects. The band is made up of Joe Smith and Jimmy Carbonetti on guitars, Matt Iwanusa on drums and Dave Sheinkopf on bass and after releasing their debut album in 2007, they have just released a brand new EP called New Soft Shoe which we are currently playing to death. Drummer Matt Iwanusa was kind enough to answer a few questions about the band’s interesting begginings and clown car impressions in hotel bathrooms. Take a look at the whole Q and A below:

Yellow Bird Project: Firstly, we hear you guys have interesting beginnings as a band. Could you tell us how you guys got together and how your band name came about?

Matt Iwanusa: Dave and Joe taught Jimmy and I in high school. Joe and Dave had been working on recording songs together and a friend of theirs gave it to a few of New York’s “finest” dive bars…

Jimmy and I were writing music together as well, playing at private parties for our parents, school talent shows and charity events we put together at lunch time with very creative sounding “charity names”.

Joe and Dave starting getting emails from clubs to play shows and i guess it just seemed right for Jimmy and I to help complete the band.

YBP: There must be a large age discrepancy in the band. Does it ever get in the way of anything?

MI: Not that large. I think maybe 7 years? We have spent so much time together that we all can act 7 years older or younger at any point during the day.

YBP: When you guys are writing new songs is there one or two band members who handle most of the songwriting or is it more of a full band collaborative effort?

MI: Lately it’s started out that Dave or I have an idea. We’ll record it at home then bring it in. Sometimes it’s a full song other times it’s just a melody. After that we probably record it as a band 4 or 5 times. Once the full band plays it so many new ideas come up that the song usually sounds way different. Everybody plays a big part in the process.

YBP: How have things changed since you guys first got together? How have you grown as a band?

MI: We have become much better at our instruments for sure and now we all feel comfortable multi-tasking. It’s a great feeling when you can switch around and not feel locked into one specific thing. I think that has opened up a lot of possibilities for us.

YBP: We are big fans of Daytrotter and we saw that you guys performed for them. Could you tell us a little bit about the Daytrotter experience?

MI: Everybody that works at Daytrotter is amazing. We did a session with them right when they started and have stayed friends ever since. Sean is a great guy and I think he is doing a really great thing!

YBP: Out of all the amazing bands to come out of Brooklyn who are some of your favorites? And could you introduce us to a Brooklyn band that we may not know but you think more people should know about?

MI: My favorite band right now is Here We Go Magic. Luke has always been doing great stuff and I think the direction he is going in now is awesome.

I love Glass Ghost as well. Their new record is going to be amazing.

White Rabbits are great also. We toured with them in June and I never got bored of watching them play. They are a great live band and do an amazing clown car impression in hotel bathrooms.

YBP: Who has been the most fun band to tour with thus far and why?

MI: I think I answered that in the last question but I would definitely say White Rabbits. It was great to tour with a band who is excited about what they are doing. They go out and kill it every night and then are ready to party after. We were friends before the trip but are definitely besties now!

YBP: If you could tour with any two bands dead or alive who would they be?

MI: I would say Genesis 1972-1973 and probably Wings…

YBP: Where is one place you haven’t played yet that you would give anything to play?

MI: England. We haven’t been there yet. It’s been talked about but for some reason hasn’t happened yet.

YBP: Finally, who are you favorite bands that have designed T-shirts for The Yellow Bird Project?

MI: I have always been a big Shins fan. I think those guys put out some great records.

Well we think so too! And a big thank you to Matt for answering our questions and wish him and the rest of the band luck on their upcoming tour!

Here’s a song from their New Soft Shoe EP: The Subjects – “Winter Vacation”

The Middle Distance Runner

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Hey there. I recently had a chat with Tony Dekker from Great Lake Swimmers. Take a look at the video:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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noah-and-the-whale

Hey guys, check out the interview I did with Noah & the Whale for Baeble Music:

With the onslaught of great bands coming out of the UK in the past few years, it safe to say that Noah & the Whale has made their mark as one of the best. On their debut album, Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down we got a first taste of their emotion driven rock, fronted by the deep vocals of lead singer Charlie Fink and backed by a great band of young musicians, including Tom Hobden, Urby Whale and Doug Fink. We recently had a chance to hop on the phone with the band’s drummer, Doug, to discuss the band’s future prospects, including an interesting upcoming tour along with a sophomore album nearing completion. We also talked a little bit about the amazingly talented Laura Marling and the band’s benevolent charity work. Take a look. -Greg Lozoff

Baeble: Firstly, your band name is quite unique. I’ve heard that it has something to do with the film The Squid and the Whale. could you tell me a little bit about your band name came to be?

Doug Fink: Yeah, It does indeed. Originally, it was the Squid and the Whale by Noah Baumbach. Take the full name of the director and the tail end of the film and then you have it. It’s also a reference to the fact that cinema is a source of influence for us.

Baeble: Your upcoming tour is called Club Silencio. I’ve heard that it’s going to be a different sort of tour. Could you tell me the concept behind it?

Doug: Yeah, well I guess it’s not totally original. I think people have been re-imagining live gigs for so long now, but the idea is to basically combine cinema with the music. So you get the kind of theme of Mullholland Drive’s Club Silencio, which pretentiously [laughs] is somewhere to deal with reality and illusion and whether something is actually happening or whether you’re basically imagining it. So the idea is that the whole evening will run as a complete program, sort of in an old fashioned way. There will literally be a program. There will also be a compare; a virtual compare, that will be projected on an enormous screen at the back of the stage. And the idea is basically that we show some short films that we’ve selected. There will be footage that we’ve made ourselves and then there’s the support act, and there will be some footage while he plays, and then there will be some more material and then we come on, and then again there’s some more material there. Yeah I guess it’s not really totally ground breaking but we put some thought into it and we’re quite excited to see how it turns out.

Baeble: Well it sounds really interesting. Are you going to be playing mostly songs off of your first album Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down, or will you be playing new songs specifically for the tour?

Doug: It’s definitely going to be a good balance of things. I mean, I don’t really know where this is leading towards. I mean we played in Brooklyn last week and we kind of made the decision to play more or less all new material. We were in New York to mix the second record. So yeah, I think the set is quite exciting. Well obviously it’s developing so it’s hard to know what works live without actually playing it live. And added to that is the need to combine it with the visuals. We think we’ve got the set well worked out so it’s going to be a nice balance between the two I think.

Baeble: I hear you are playing Italy this summer

Doug: [cutting in] The rumors are true.

Baeble: [laughs] Is this going to be your first time playing there?

Doug: Yeah, first time in Italy. We basically got offered to do this string of four dates. And as far as we can gather, if you do those four dates you’ve done the length of Italy [laughs]. So that was the plan. I mean we like Europe a lot. Italy being one of our favorite places so it’s a great excuse to go have a few days there, but yeah it should be good fun.

Baeble: Are you at all nervous or are you more excited to find out how the Italian audiences will react to your music?

Doug: Oh it’s exciting! I think as long as you entice people to express an opinion, either way it’s exciting. I think the bottom line is you have to feel like your doing a good show. And usually between the four of us we can agree that the set is going to work and then afterwards we’re happy with our performances and then you know, it’s all good really. It’s just exciting to play to new people. It’s one of the great thrills actuallyof live music.

Baeble: You guys seem to be a big fan of the cover. When I saw you play in New York City not too long ago you did a cover of the Smiths’ Girlfriend in a Coma, and I just saw the other day that you have a cover of Daniel Johnston’s Devil Town on your Myspace page. Are there any covers that the band is working on for the upcoming tour?

Doug: That’s a good question. Actually no [laughs]. Not at this point. No cover material actually due for the tour. Like I said we’re being slightly more prescriptive with our set than we would normally be. By the nature of the multimedia aspects you have to know what you’re going to do, for the ease of the whole engineering of it. So no, not for this tour. But it’s always great to do cover versions, like just explore songs and kind ofwell you know it’s nice to play the music that’s influenced you.

Baeble: So you told me you’re working on a new album, could you tell me about it? Is it going to be along the same lines as Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down or will this album go in different direction?

Doug: For three weeks in January we recorded it. We mixed it last week in New York with a fine gentleman called Henry Dobbins, who’s the producer and engineer on it. And yeah we’re really excited about it. I mean, it’s definitely still us, and it hasn’t really changed enormously, but it’s definitely more electric than the first record. Just really I guess a tip of the hat to some of the music that we’ve been listening to since we’ve recorded the first record. And maybe it’s slightly more experimental certainly with sounds anyway, and it’s slightly less precious. Like before we went to the studio we had time to really think about the sounds we wanted. And, you know, Charlie’s lyrics are recognizably Charlie’s lyrics. We’d never call it a concept album. It just doesn’t feel like that at all but the way the story runs kind of, well it is a narrative I suppose, or a thread that connects all the songs and I think that’s basically about the disillusion of a relationship. And then the other big plan for the record is Charlie’s making a film for it. So there’ll be a…well I guess you could call it a feature length music video that will run for the whole length of the album, so the album is effectively the soundtrack for the movie. So that’s exciting too, and that’s going to be filmed in April.

Baeble: Did you choose a title for that yet?

Doug: At the moment it’s probably going to be called First Days of Spring. Even though it’s coming out in, well summer here and probably September in the US. So it might be a bit incongruous, but yeah First Days of Spring it looks like.

Baeble: We here at Baeble are big fans of Laura Marling. Will she be again providing backup vocals on the new record?

Doug: No. I think Charlie made the decision basically to have no female vocals on it really, no backing vocals. It’s kind of just where the sound is. I mean I wouldn’t necessarily rule out future collaborations, but they’re both young songwriters so you know, Charlie produced her first record, and Laura sings on every track on our first record so I think it makes sense then to kind of move apart, in terms of recording. But she is actually in the process of sort of demoing her new stuff and it sounds pretty cool.

Baeble: Is it true that Charlie is also designing a T-shirt for the Yellow Bird Project?

Doug: [laughs] Yeah, I mean we all are. It’s a bit of a group effort. Yeah it’s going to happen. We keep coming up with an idea and then someone says no I don’t like that idea, so we haven’t settled on something final yet. But it’s a really great idea.

Baeble: How important is it for you guys to be involved in charity organizations like Yellow Bird?

Doug: I think it’s really important. We would give charity as individuals regardless of being in a band, but I think whatever walk of life you come from there is social responsibility. I think if you can exercise that purely through your bank account that’s fine, but if you can use yourwhatever credibility (you may have) as well I think that counts. I mean, we definitely don’t do as much as we’d like to do. But I mean, over Christmas we were doing demos for our first record and then we got some extra time so over the course of about 24 hours we did another album. We were just having some fun, and we call it our punk album [laughs]. It’s really just us doing some covers and some of our originals and we just called it the A-Sides. And then with Young and Lost Club (Records) we put that out over Christmas and did a gig, and all the profits from that went to a charity called Age Concern in the UK, which is basically for the elderly and disadvantaged people. So yeah I think it is important to have social responsibility wherever you come from really.

Baeble: We’ll that’s nice to hear that you guys did that.

Doug: Yeah you should check out the A-Sides, it’s good fun. There’s some tracks on the Myspace page.

Baeble: I definitely will. As a big Noah & the Whale fan I’d like to hear anything you guys put out. Finally, do you have any plans to play at any of the big Summer Festivals this year?

Doug: We are indeed. In the US we’re doing Coachella, which is going to be really great. And then we’re doing our tour off the back of that, that’s in April, so it isn’t really Summer, but it will feel like Summer for us. And then I think we’re due to do Lollapalooza as well in the US, but I don’t know if that’s been all confirmed yet. And in the UK and Europe we’ll do the usual round of festivals which should be good fun, it’s always good fun.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Noah and the Whale on Myspace

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(Written for the Yellow Bird Project, Feb 27th, 2009)

Well my friends, it is time for another Yellow Bird interview! This time we had a chance to catch up with a true indie-rock veteran. His name is John Moen, and you may know him from his previous work with bands and artists like Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, Elliott Smith and the Decemberists. These are just a noteworthy few of the many projects that John Moen has been a part of. He has now released his very own album under the ‘Perhapst’ moniker along with the help from some very talented friends. The results are pretty amazing.

Yellow Bird Project: I hope you know, I have replaced in my vocabulary the word ‘perhaps’ with the word ‘perhapst’. So how did this name come about?

John Moen: I am honored. I just made it up and thought it was genius. It IS possible that I was over-served at the time. The word is pretty fun to say, though, is it not?

YBP: Is the Perhapst album a new project or is it something you have been working on for a long time?

JM: The project has been bubbling away for a good long time. I can’t remember exactly when I started it…let’s just say years have passed.

YBP: How has being surrounded by such talented musicians as Elliott Smith, Stephen Malkmus and Colin Meloy influenced your own musical endeavors?

JM: I think it would be foolish to spend time making music with people who are so greatly talented, and fail to absorb any of their ideas or approach; but I wouldn’t be making records if I didn’t think I had at least slightly different take on things myself.

YBP: What are the advantages of being a musician in Portland, Oregon? Any disadvantages?

JM: The advantages used to be cheap rent, little competition for shows and an outstanding group of peers for support and collaboration. We still have the outstanding group of peers but the town is less of a well kept secret these days.

YBP: “Cruel Whisk” is one of my favourite songs on the album. In it you sing, “cook yourself and spare the bird.” Is this a song about vegetarianism?

No. I admire vegetarians but I have not been able to overcome my meat addiction. The song is quite obviously about masochistic cannibalism. Hmmm.

YBP: I hear you play quite a few instruments. Do the drums hold a special place in your heart or is there an instrument you prefer to play? Any new instruments you’ve picked up lately?

JM: The drums are sort of boring all by themselves. However, playing them to a great song is a true pleasure. I wish I had a harpsichord.

YBP: Your life has been so filled with music. What are some things you like to do that aren’t musically related?

JM: I am raising a daughter. She is super-fantastico but does manage to eat up a lot of my free time. I’ve been known to get into some gardening now and then and I follow the Portland Trail Blazers with much enthusiasm. I also enjoy cooking myself. Ha.

YBP: You have been part of quite a few bands. Which band has been the most fun to tour with?

JM: My first touring experience was with the Dharma Bums. We were quite young (circa 1987) and it was a real adventure. I admit that I have lost the lust for the road, a bit. I have visited more than enough gas stations and slept not-so-well in plenty of random homes and hotels for my taste. This is my job, though. I don’t mean to imply that it sucks, but it certainly isn’t as jazzy and exciting as it once was. Jazzy?

YBP: Is being a part of the Decemberists’ live show as fun as it looks?

JM: It is. We have a good time.

YBP: Now that you have released you very own record. What is next for you?

JM: Release another one! That’s what people like me do. We do not know when to quit. I don’t even know any new chords. It’s ridiculous.

YBP: Finally, what has been the highlight of your musical career thus far?

JM: Having a career at all is the “highlight” of my career. I have been very lucky.

A big thank you to John Moen for doing this interview!

Listen to Perhapst:

Perhapst – Incense Cone

Perhapst – Aren’t You Glowing

Bye for now!

-The Middle Distance Runner

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los-campesinos

Hey there. Check out the interview I did with Los Campesinos! for Baeble Music:

“It seems like there is a sort of private club that everyone who likes Los Campesinos! is a part of”

February 14th…Valentines Day. What better way to celebrate then to sit down with one of my favorite bands and have a chat. So in one of the little nooks on the balcony of the Bowery Ballroom in New York City, I met Neil (guitarist) and Gareth (lead singer), two of the seven members of the UK indie pop outfit, Los Campesinos! We talked about issues ranging from their newest album to Kurt Vonnegut, to throwing up by football pitches, along with the insecurities we all feel about how all good things will eventually come to an end.

Baeble: Firstly, let’s start off by telling me your names and where you are from?

Los Campesinos (Gareth): Cool. My name is Gareth.

Los Campesinos (Neil): I’m Neil.

Los Campesinos (Gareth): And we’re in a band called Los Campesinos! From Cardiff, Wales…Europe.

Baeble: I’m sure you’ve heard this question a million times, but where did you get your band name?

LC (Neil): A million and one. [laughs] No it’s ok. I used to be able to speak some Spanish which I have long forgotten pretty much and it’s just a word that I was aware of. So I just thought one day “sounds pretty cool”. It doesn’t really mean anything to us. Just sounds nice, looks alright.

Baeble: What does it mean?

LC (Neil): It translates to the peasants or the farmers, but we’re neither and we represent neither of those. It’s just a word.

LC (Gareth): I think to a British tongue it’s reasonably exotic. And it looks nice written down. And it works.

Baeble: I especially like the exclamation point at the end.

LC (Gareth): Book ends. The Capitol L and the exclamation point nicely book end the rest of the word. I think it looks nice written down. That’s important [laughs].

Baeble: What are some of the differences you have found between playing shows in the UK and playing shows in North America?

LC (Gareth): We much prefer playing North America to the UK. I think the main difference is the audience. Audiences in the UK kind of stand back and wait to be impressed. I guess it could have a lot to do with the that fact that we’re slightly more exciting (to audiences around the world) than to people who we live an hours drive away from, but the audiences that we played to on this tour especially have just been so receptive and dancing and sort of wanting to have fun from the start whereas in the UK it always feels like, and this is from watching other bands play as well, it always seems like it’s the crowd versus the band and nobody really wants to enjoy themselves, but the US is completely the opposite in our experience.

Baeble: Let’s talk a little bit about the new album. How did the name We are Beautiful, We are Doomed come about?

LC (Gareth): We are Beautiful, We are Doomed is kind of a recurring theme throughout the record and what it’s based on. It’s intended to mean a slightly pessimistic also sensible view maybe, that all good things come to an end inevitably. There’s quite a lot of talk about the end of things, be it death or…a new relationship is often exciting and fun but I guess, more often than not is doomed to fail. And also Los Campesinos! itself, what we’re doing is the best thing to do in the world and we get to travel the world and we get to play to people and it’s so much fun but inevitably, eventually it’ll stop. So it kind of seems to be a slogan that can cover a fair few aspects of Los Campesinos! and of what I was writing about at the time.

Baeble: The lyrics to “Miserabilia” are kind of perplexing. Could you tell me a little bit about what that song is about?

LC (Gareth): The song “Miserabilia”…the made up word Miserabilia is a mix between both misery and memorabilia and it kind of alludes to the thought (that) throughout relationships inevitably you acquire lots of mementos and things that remind you of that person and that relationship and then there’s also a tendency, from my experience at least, to cling onto them for longer than is necessary and to keep them after the breakup and then they just become bad memories. And that song is about that; about how people do cling onto these things and these memories that plague them and mess with them.

Baeble: Being Canadian, I have to ask about the lyrics of the song “We are beautiful, We are Doomed”. The lyrics read, “Charlotte says, It’s more constructive than the one in Canada, when you got drunk, ate loads of crisps and threw up by a football pitch”. Could you tell me a little bit about what happened in Canada?

LC (Gareth): That was just one of my many slightly, well incredibly unoteworthy miniature minor breakdowns that I’ve had since being in the band. And Charlotte is my friend. One of my best friends who for better or for worse has kind of become a cancer for me. I do spend an awful lot of time emailing her at home and just whining and complaining about things and she’s always very understanding and at least pretends to care. That was just…I can’t even remember what it was about, but I went a little bit nuts one night and got really drunk and then went to…this was when we were recording our first record Hold on Now, Youngster, I went to a shop and bought loads and loads of crisps and just gorged myself on them and then ended up…I found a soccer pitch…I think that was intended to remind me of home because I’m a big soccer fan. So I found a soccer pitch and proceeded to be sick.

Baeble: I like how you say soccer. Is that for our benefit?

LC (Gareth): It’s kind of gotten to the point now where being in North America for four and a half weeks, the first two weeks we kept saying football and then being like, “oh soccer”. So now I’ve been practicing. But if I still call it soccer when I get home then I’ll be in for some trouble [laughs].

Baeble: One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Between an Erupting Earth and an Exploding Sky”. It’s the albums only instrumental track. Could you tell me how that song came to be?

LC (Gareth): That was one morning Tom got up earlier than the rest of us. We got up at about two in the afternoon, walked into the studio and Tom had recorded it.

Baeble: Really?

LC (Gareth): [laughs] Yeah just on his own.

LC (Neil): It was all his work. He probably had an idea about it a few days before, but yeah, it’s pretty good.

LC (Gareth): And “Between an Erupting Earth and an Exploding Sky” is a quote from a Kurt Vonnegut novel. He’s one of my favorite novelists.

Baeble: Which novel is it?

LC (Gareth): It’s from Timequake is it?

Bable: I’ve read a few of his novels but not that one.

LC (Gareth): Yeah. It’s one of his more difficult ones. But yeah it’s from that. It’s early on in the book.

Baeble: So is it safe to say there is no chance that the next album is going to be all instrumental?

LC (Gareth): [laughs] I don’t think so. If we sleep in every day then we might have two albums worth.

Baeble: What is the song writing process like for you guys besides waking up early and recording all on your own?

LC (Gareth): [laughs] Tom writes the music and I write the words. And then we’ll go into a practice room and people will learn their parts and then we’ll play it and see if the song develops, what changes and doesn’t change. Yeah it’s a pretty simple process. It’s not as confusing as the seven people muddling their way around and trying to work something out.

LC (Neil): We’d never get anything done.

Baeble: Gareth, are you always carrying around a notebook in case you think of a line?

LC (Gareth): Yeah. I’ve got a notebook. But more often than not I’m sat at my computer anyway. So there’s just a hundred million text edit files with embarrassing bits in them and occasionally I have to go through them all and delete everything because I’m just horrified to read it back.

Baeble: You could release a poetry book.

LC (Gareth): I could. I don’t think anybody would release it. [laughs] But yeah.

Baeble: So how have you guys evolved as a band since you all got together in 2006?

LC (Gareth): I think even in the past year, as a band, we’ve all improved so much as musicians, like actually playing our instruments and songwriters. Certainly we are a lot more able than we were in 2006. Even the beginning of last year I think we have improved an awful lot.

LC (Neil): I think for me We are Beautiful, We are Doomed really captures kind of when we got more mature and when we stepped a bit further forward. If you had to put a date on it that would be when recording really changed a bit.

Baeble: I think you can definitely hear it in the music.

LC (Gareth): I hope so, yeah.

Baeble: What would you like listeners to take from your music? Whether it be seeing you live or listening to your albums?

LC (Gareth): I think if you would have asked me that a year ago I would have had a very definite answer. I’ve kind of come to realize that you can’t dictate what people are going to take away from it. I think playing live or listening to the record there are two different ways to go about it. There will be a lot of people that will come to shows and will enjoy how excitable we are and how into it we are and will enjoy the sonic noise of it and that aspect. And they might not listen to the words and they might not read any further into it than that, and that’s great. But equally there are people that will probably stand back a bit and will sort of listen to the record on their bed with headphones taking in every word and trying to read some meaning into everything, reading the lyrics sheets and stuff. Either way, anybody listening and enjoying our music at all is incredibly flattering. I think if we tried to dictate what people take from it then we’d be a bit ungrateful.

LC (Neil): It kind of defeats the object as well.

Baeble: You guys are from the UK, which is an amazing place to find new music. So many great bands have come out of the UK. Do you have any tips regarding new bands from the UK that you think more people should know about?

LC (Gareth): We’re really lucky. There seems to be, not a scene as such, but that there are a group of bands all at a very similar level who are all friends and play with each other and go to watch each other’s shows and support each other and it’s a really healthy environment and a healthy scene. Bands that we’ve played shows with, like Johnny Foreigner. A band who is coming to the US for the first time for SXSW called DANANANAKROYD. They’re incredible. Label mates of ours, bands like Lovvers and Sky Larkin and countless other bands. A band called Pens who are very new who are from London, who are great. It’s a really really healthy musical climate at the moment in the UK. A couple of years ago there was a pretty bad time where everything was just really lack-luster and repeating it self and really pretty bad.

LC (Neil): I think finally everyone who was trying to do something to go against that has finally come to the surface and it’s paid off so to speak.

LC (Gareth): It’s an exciting place to be.

Baeble: I know it is. I was just there actually.

LC (Gareth): Where did you go?

Baeble: Just to London.

LC (Gareth): Did you get to see any shows?

Baeble: Yeah, we went to Rough Trade East and saw Noah & the Whale. We saw Holly Thorsby who’s an Australian singer/songwriter and Daniel Johnston which was amazing. Personally, I enjoyed those shows much better than some of the shows I’ve seen here. The audiences here a lot of times won’t even listen to opening bands and just keep chatting away while they play.

LC (Gareth): I think we’re lucky then because it seems like in the U.S. we’ve kind of…I really like the idea of Los Campesinos! being something that transcended just being a band writing songs and it does seem like we’ve got people that like our band and that are really into it and kind of buy into the things we’re encouraging and it seems like there is a sort of private club that everyone who likes Los Campesinos! is a part of and often looking out into the audience, the front five or six rows are just full of people who seem like they’ve been friends forever and are really enjoying it and are looking out for each other and protecting each other if it gets a bit rough or whatever. And that’s something that we’ve kind of cultivated in the U.S. that hasn’t really happened in the U.K. So I guess our U.S. crowds are nicer.

Baeble: What is the craziest thing you have ever had happen at a show?

LC (Neil): Some girl did a back flip off the stage in Paris.

LC (Gareth): That was good.

LC (Neil): Nearly hit me in the face.

LC (Gareth): We played in Paris and this girl got on stage and ran at the monitor and sort of just flipped off the monitor and ended up in the crowd. That was incredible. And then she just crowd surfed out of the way. That’s probably the most crazy.

Baeble: That sounds a little dangerous yet exciting at the same time.

LC (Neil): We probably wouldn’t retell it in the same way if she had kicked me in the face. [laughs]

Baeble: So what’s next for you guys? Are you going to go straight back to work on the next album or are you going to tour some more?

LC (Gareth): We are back touring North America in April. We’re playing Canada, we’re playing the west coast. We are lucky enough to be going to Mexico as well. And as soon as we have the time we will be recording again. We’re writing new songs at the moment and I think we just want to do as much as we can in the shortest amount of time possible. Because it would awful if we had songs that we never got to release because people stopped caring. So we want to strike while the iron is hot and just keep going. If we didn’t then we’d just be at home bored out of our head.

Baeble: Well I hope you guys keep at it because we love hearing it.

LC: Thank you very much

Greg Lozoff

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I did another interview for The Yellow Bird Project. Here it is:

November 5th, 2008 by themiddledistancerunner

Boy do we have something special for you today! I’m putting my normal music drivel on hold for this week, because as you can already guess by the title of this post, I have had the opportunity to interview an extremely talented musician who goes by the name of Nicole Atkins. If you don’t already know her you are in for a treat. Along with this interview, Nicole has provided us with a song off of her new EP, entitled Nicole Atkins Digs Other People’s Songs. The song is a cover of “Under the Milky Way”, which was originally done by an Australian band called The Church. So here is the interview, I hope you enjoy:

Middle Distance Runner: To me, your music seems very dramatic and emotional. How important is emotion to you in the music you make?

Nicole Atkins: Extremely important. It’s really the biggest reason I write songs. To try to work through different emotions in life. Also, I like my songs to feel like mini movies. I try to not just sing about a situation or a place but also try to get (to) the listener about what it feels like to be in it or there.

MDR: When did you realize that being a musician is what you wanted to do with your life?

NA: When I was in art college and realized that I had way more songs and gigs than paintings.

MDR: If you could have any other job besides being a musician what would it be?

NA: Maybe an illustrator for science or medical journals, or an owner of a music venue.

MDR: Who has been the most influential person in your career as musician?

NA: Probably most of my family. They have always been really supportive and have all of these great tragic yet humorously dark stories that make good fodder for songs.

MDR: If you could sing a duet with anyone dead or alive who would it be?

NA: Definitely Roy Orbison or Edith Piaf

MDR: I love your song “Neptune City”. What is it about?

NA: The first half is about my mom’s little brother Dom that passed away when he was little. Its about him looking down on his funeral procession and realizing he can’t go home again. Then the second half is about me. I just moved back to Neptune City after living in NYC and was frustrated by being there and just saying that maybe if I could just learn to appreciate how pretty the river is and shit that I could love it there again.

MDR: Who is funnier in person? David Letterman or Conan O’Brien?

NA: They were both pretty damn funny! Draw!

MDR: What was it like to perform on those shows?

NA: It was really awesome. Super fun. We met so many cool people too, like Dennis Hopper and Slash. Playing on shows like that definitely makes you take a step back and just say “wow, how did i get here?!”

MDR: I hear you are a big fan of David Lynch. What is your favourite of his films?

NA: I always switch between Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive. He is the master of the haunt.

MDR: What is your favourite city to play in?

NA: Austin, Texas for sure. Great people, music scene and food. Can’t beat it.

MDR: Do you have any superstitions or rituals you perform before playing a show?

NA: A little warming up and a little Jameson.

MDR: What was the most memorable show that you have played?

NA: Off the top of my head it would be our set at Bonnaroo. It was the second time we ever played a festival and had a pretty good slot. Just having a bigger stage and a bigger crowd I had so much fun playing I almost cried. A couple times during the set I just couldn’t stop laughing too it was just such intense fun.

MDR: Finally, Are you a fan of any of the artists that have contributed to the Yellow Bird Project?

NA: I am! Big fan of The National, Devendra, The Shins and The New Pornographers. I actually just sang backup on Carl Newman’s new solo record that comes out this month.

So there you have it, Nicole Atkins has great taste in music! I just want to thank Nicole again for doing this, we loved her answers. You should all go out to see her play live. She has a few upcoming dates…take a look:

11/05/2008 – Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live

11/07/2008 – Washington, D.C. – The Rock and Roll Hotel

11/08/2008 – Charlotte, NC – Neighborhood Theater

11/13/2008 – Cambridge, MA – T.T. The Bears

11/14/2008 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom

11/26/2008 – Ashbury Park, NJ – Stone Pony

And here is that delightful little cover that I promised you:

Nicole Atkins – Under The Milky Way

Until next week…

The Middle Distance Runner

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This is one of the most exciting moments in my short blogging career. The Yellow Bird Project has provided me with the opportunity to interview one of my favourite new artists, who I was introduced to by my American friend, Jeremy. Birdie Busch has been getting a lot of play time by me ever since I was told about her and was immediately hooked on the catchy as hell “Mystical”, a song off of her second full length album, Penny Arcade. Birdie was nice enough to allow us to interview her, and we are so glad we did, because not only is she super talented, but she is quite witty too. Take a look.

Middle Distance Runner: I understand your real name is Emily. When and how did you come to be known as “Birdie” Busch?

Birdie Busch: Birdie was a nickname bestowed upon me by a friend after a beret with metal studs was bestowed upon my head. It had nothing to do with singing just silliness. So when they ask, “what came first the beret or the bird? I do say the beret.”

MDR: At what age did you start writing music?

BB: I started writing music at the age of 5 on my portable tape recorder, a tune in which I rhymed Manhattan with “blatten”, a fictitious word that served the purpose of rhyming with Manhattan, so I sung, “I will take Manhattan with my blatten.” I had a dormant period that ended in my twenties where life just started to feel right to me distilled into the shape and feeling of a song. I must have been looking for songs for a long time and didn’t know it but when they came, oh boy.

MDR: What kind of music did you listen to growing up and what are your major musical influences?

BB: In my parent’s station wagon it were these tapes, Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, and I distinctly remember Neil Diamond’s Hot August Night. Patsy still has a gigantic place in my heart and memory. I like how she really takes her time with her delivery, kind of behind the beat. My sister, almost a generation older than me passed down her cassettes and mix tapes, fluorescent 80’s colors and all. I remember her Grateful Dead cassettes she would draw her own pictures for and also, Paul Simon’s Graceland. Another fond memory is when she decided to pop in George Michael’s single, “I Want Your Sex” into the player on a family road trip. Kinda awkward.

Major musical influences? I love Canadians! Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Rick Danko of the Band. I also love Bill Withers, John Prine, Nina Simone. I love Tahitian lullabies and Mexican Nortenos. Jeff Tweedy and Jerry Garcia. The Staple Singers. Toots Hibbert. Gillian Welch. Daniel Lanois. So many I could talk about though. Folks that I call my influences I do because I take from them the inspiration to be myself, for that is what is so appealing about all of them to me, that they were and are so free with giving their own thing to the people.

MDR: Do you play any other instruments besides guitar?

BB: I played violin in grade school from about 5-7. I remember that I really liked Minuet 3. I started playing some again cause I really find that different instruments open up different portals of melodies and violin for sure has some great ones.

MDR: What have you been listening to lately?

BB: Lately I’ve been really enjoying instrumental things, lots of John Fahey, Jim O’Rourke, and I just recently heard for the first time Juana Molina and love the way it’s making my brain bend. I am also hugely in love with early rock steady/ska/reggae. My friend and I want to do a whole record of those old songs, like “Adam & Eve”. It’s this great song, not sure if he wrote it, but Bob Marley sang it way way back.

MDR: Are you a fan of any of the bands that have been a part of the Yellow Bird Project?

BB: Oh yeah. You’ve got quite a crew. It’s funny, I lived behind this bar in Philly and would go there after work to just have a beer and ended up in the midst of a Devendra Banhart concert pretty early on in his touring and playing, without knowing anything about it and always took the line he sung, “from the womb to the tomb, I’ll always be a child” around with me in my head. Really enjoy Neko Case and the way her records sound.

MDR: If you could see any 3 artists or bands dead or alive playing the same show who would they be and why?

BB: I’ve been asking this question all around town since I read it, wondering what others say….Anything contemporary I just assume that I will be able to see if I want some time, which isn’t necessarily true but it allows me to widdle it down to music of folks that have passed from this here world that I might bring back for this show. I would have loved to have seen Bob Marley in his prime, with that big stage show and all the girls singing…also, Nina Simone. Nina Simone being backed by Bill Withers band, which someone told me happened at some point. And of course, John Lennon singing Instant Karma. When I told someone John Lennon, they said, “How about the f****** Beatles!?” And the list goes on and on. Can I add an opener or special guests? Like Charles Mingus, Led Zeppelin, and Clara Rockmore on the theremin?

MDR: What is your favourite movie?

BB: As a lot of my favourites, there’s a huge range, in which is included Ghostbusters, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Forrest Gump, Aliens, and Waiting for Guffman. When I have the chance, most times I’ll rent a movie to laugh before I cry, and if it does both, beautiful.

MDR: What is your favourite book?

BB: Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. Just Above my Head by James Baldwin. Books of poetry by Langston Hughes. These are some that come to mind. I really like the era of American Literature from the turn of the Nineteenth century and onwards some, in which all of these favourites are included.

MDR: What is your favourite thing to do on a lazy Sunday?

BB: Park myself on my couch facing and in between two old wooden speaker cabinets and listening to records I’ve gotten along the way. Not washing dishes and listening, not reading and listening, or even folding laundry. I’m just listening. I also am a big fan of walk-abouts in my West Philly hood. Does walking cancel out lazy though? Not sure.

MDR: Do you have any new material in the works? Tour plans?

BB: Yes! We are finishing up a recording in the next couple months; it’s about lampshades, Eden’s suburbs, and Mexican dishwashers amongst other things. I promise they do all come together. Stay tuned……

I recently received an e-mail from an enthusiastic Frenchman who wants to book us in France so now I am working at turning that into a first time European tour come the New Year. The U.S. is tough lately with the gas crisis so we’ve been riding our bikes around Philly and concentrating on the recording. We need more trains. We need gigantic zip-lines or sling shots.

MDR: And finally, When are you coming to play in Montreal?

BB: As soon as you have a Yellow Bird Festival!

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Well YBP, it seems a Yellow Bird Festival is in need. Get on that!

And as a special gift, Birdie has provided us with a video of her playing a new song from her upcoming album. The song is called “Penny Arcade” and I absolutely love it! Check it out.

Here is the song as an mp3 for you:

Birdie Busch – Penny Arcade

I would like to thank Birdie for taking the time to answer my questions. I can’t wait to hear your new album, I will keep my eyes wide open for it!

Until next week…

-The Middle Distance Runner

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