A collection of musically themed musings by Brendan Bush in Burlington, VT

7 Questions for Hey Rosetta!

Filed Under: 7 Questions, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Monday November 8, 2010

Hey Rosetta!

Photo credit: Jule Malet-Veale

Canadian rockers Hey Rosetta! are playing the Showcase Lounge at Higher Ground tonight (opening for Sarah Harmer), and bass guitarist Josh Ward was kind enough to answer a few questions for me in advance of their set. If you’re in town tonight, definitely check these guys out.

BB: Montreal and Toronto have been real incubators of quality indie rock over the past decade. Though it’s a smaller city, is there any such music scene in St. Johns, or are you pioneering the way? Do you think bands like BSS, Metric, Stars, etc have helped pave the way to a larger audience for other Canadian bands?

JW: It’s a funny thing, the St. John’s music scene. It has one of the most impressive amateur music scenes that I think I’ve ever seen, in terms of creative and talented people. With that, though, there are few bands from there who do it professionally, or go out and tour. It seems like music is always just something on the side. Your dentist might also be your favourite singer/songwriter. I think we’re lucky that we still have a small town kinda vibe. Chances are you know most of the people in the “scene” and as a result, there’s a lot of support.

There have been a lot of really amazing Canadian bands over the years who have certainly helped to make it possible for bands like us to do what we do. The bands you mentioned are great, and successful, proving that there is something to this “Canadian music.” We see it a lot when we’re out on the road. There’s a great respect all over for bands from Canada these days.

BB: I read on your tour blog that you’ll be bringing a smaller lineup on the next leg of your tour — who’s staying behind, and who makes that call?

JW: Well, on this leg we’re opening for Sarah Harmer, and her management wanted something a little lighter, and specifically smaller than we usually are. We had a discussion about it, and our guitarist, Adam, decided to sit this one out.

BB: I see that you’re working on a new album for early next year — did you write much of it while on the road, or did you take a break and make a more concerted effort to put together an album?

JW: Sometimes it is kind of difficult to find the time to really sit down and focus on writing an album while touring so much. A lot of these songs took a long time to develop. We would get together and bash out the tunes wherever we could find a little break, and do what we could (often forgetting most of the work we had done on them since the previous time we got together). There was no real extended break to strictly work on writing this album though. In fact, some of the tunes really only came together finally in the studio.

BB: You won several awards for Into Your Lungs – how has that success affected the creation of your upcoming effort? Did it create pressure, inspiration, something else?

JW: I’m not sure that success has affected the creation of the new album so much. Certainly we all feel a little anxious about it, though. There will likely be expectations from people of what it should be. I just hope this album can stand on its own. We really worked hard on it, and are proud of it as it is. Hopefully it won’t have to live in some shadow.

BB: Your band profiles have stayed pretty busy on Facebook and Twitter — who’s managing that stuff, and has the connection with your fans on those networks changed your experience as a band?

JW: We all kinda take part in that stuff. Our manager does some of the quick updates, but the rest is directly from one of us (usually Tim with the blogs, or Phil). It would be hard to imagine where this band would be without those types of networks. In the beginning, especially, we had a really strong internet community of fans and friends who helped us out immeasurably on our early tours. Not to mention getting hooked up with other bands and venues from abroad. It’s a great way to stay in touch with all those familiar faces we see on the road.

Thanks to Josh for taking the time out of a busy schedule. Here’s Hey Rosetta! playing A Thousand Suns (at a venue quite a bit larger than the one they’ll be playing tonight, but you get the point…):

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Less than 7 questions for Still Life Still

Filed Under: 7 Questions
Written by Brendan
Thursday July 29, 2010
Still Life Still plays Osheaga on August 1, 2010

Photo: Norman Wong

What can I say…7 is a hard number to write sometimes. This has become a pretty expensive hobby in terms of time spent…anyhow.

Drummer Aaron Romaniuk of Still Life Still was kind enough to answer a few questions for me in advance of the band’s upcoming set at Osheaga. Their set is from 2:00-2:40pm on the Scene Verte.

BB: It’s not often that one comes across of band of mid-twenty-year-olds who have been playing together for over 10 years. As 13-year-olds, did you ever imagine you’d be playing festivals like Osheaga and playing residencies at venues like Mercury Lounge?

AR: as 13 year olds we had no clue where this band would take us . as we got older and became closer friends we started to have the same visions . the picture got clearer in our minds

BB: You’ve said that your goal is to make enough money as a band to buy a farm off the grid, grow your own food, etc. You sound like you’d fit in very well in Vermont – have you spent any time here? If not, where do you envision your farm?

AR: we haven’t spent much time in Vermont , only driving threw while on tour , but that would be a great spot .i like to picture the farm somewhere tropical close to mountains and rivers .

BB: The lyrics of your song “T-Shirts” surprised me the first time I heard it. Care to elaborate on the meaning of that song?

AR: t-shirts is just real talk . about being really in love with someone . in love enough to do anything for them .go threw anything with them . its also about using logos on shirts to clean up blood .

BB: Girls Come Too is an impressive debut album. Is there a followup in the works?

AR: we are working on our next record right now actually . we have about 15 new songs written . were recording it at a home studio we have set up with our friend and sometimes band member Markus

BB: With a presumably large collection of unreleased material, do you find that you are more likely to write new songs, or revisit and rework material that you’ve already written?

AR: most of the songs for our next record have all been written in the last year . new songs happen so spontaneously ..we try to just go with the flow .

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

7 Questions for Bear in Heaven

Filed Under: 7 Questions, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Wednesday June 23, 2010

Bear In Heaven - Beast Rest Forth MouthBear in Heaven will be performing at the Monkey House in Winooski this Friday night, June 25. I’m pissed that I have to miss it for a prior engagement, and I highly recommend you check it out if you’re in the area. These Brooklyn rockers are said to put on one hell of a show.

Bear in Heaven frontman Jon Philpot was kind enough to answer seven questions for me, posted below for your reading enjoyment. Also, if you’re ever bored, check out some of the videos Bear in Heaven have posted on their blog. I’m not normally one to watch random web videos, but I found these to be really entertaining.

BB: Besides the bands you’ve been touring with, what have you been listening to lately?

JP: Gene Clark – White Light, Sibylle Baier – Clour Green, Vangelis – Earth

BB: There’s a lot of social networking “ghost writing” going on for bands these days, but it seems like you guys are actually using Facebook and Twitter yourselves to connect with your fans. Does that connection further your experience as a band, or are you doing it purely for our sake?

JP: It’d be weird for someone else to do our writing… they wouldn’t know what we’re doing/feeling. Only we do. Plus, it’s pretty fun to say something and have a bunch of people read it. Jokes! Good and bad.

BB: The energy created at a show is a two way street, with the band and the audience feeding off each other. Do you ever find it difficult to come up with the necessary intensity night after night?

JP: Our energy level doesn’t pose too many problems. There have been a few shows where we had intense amounts of travel before a show. But, really, if we can’t be semi-alert for 50-60 mins of a show then we have a problem… It’s totally true that we feed off the audience. But, we’re somewhere in between a party band and a space out band. I don’t fault people for not freaking out and just staring at us. Tho, I do enjoy when people lose there minds and go for it.

BB: Do you ever wish you could be in the audience at a Bear in Heaven show?

JP: No, I’d be too critical.

BB: Receiving Pitchfork’s “Best New Music” for Beast Rest Forth Mouth is a pretty big deal. Has that created any pressure on you, or was it all pretty much profit?

JP: It opened doors for us. There is additional pressure, but it’s pressure to be better. That’s not a bad thing.

BB: Is there any one show that stands out as the best from the past few months of touring?

JP: We had a great time in St Paul. Played the Turf Club when we were touring with Cymbals Eat Guitars and Freelance Whales. There wasn’t a ton of people there… but damn… the people that were there were incredible! Now the competition is on when we go back on tour this summer. Who’s gonna win? St Paul? Pitchfork Festival? Fargo?!

BB: How many of you are currently sporting the straight ‘stache? Any plans to go full ‘stache as a band?

JP: So far just two of us. No plans just yet. If we planned it, it would suck out all the stachexcitement.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

7 Questions for Drink Up Buttercup

Filed Under: 7 Questions, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Wednesday May 12, 2010

I’m not going to dwell on last night’s DUB show at the Monkey House – let’s just say that I counted this time, and there were 9 people there. I was one of two that stood up to watch the show. The band was great – they definitely put everything they could have into it, considering the circumstances. Video of them playing “Even Think” from their recent release “Born and Thrown on a Hook” is at the bottom of this post.

Drink Up Buttercup @ Monkey House, Winooski VT

I had the chance to talk to James Harvey, the lead vocalist, after the show. He was very down to earth and assured me that even though they drove from Montreal to Maine to Vermont (note to tour director: Montreal-Vermont-Maine would have made more sense) and were not feeling all that well, they still had a good time and didn’t regret making the trek.

James was also kind enough to send me answers to 7 questions I had, posted below. Thanks to Jim for the thoughtful answers, and thanks to DUB for coming to play in Burlington, even if I didn’t get to see the trash can in action.

BB: Your album “Born and Thrown on a Hook” reminds me of something I wrote in 2007 about Okkervil River’s “John Allyn Smith Sails” – the coolest reworking of the coolest song about suicide that I’ve ever heard. You also mix beautiful sounds with macabre settings — is that an intentional juxtaposition?

JH: I’m not really a dark person, I love playing music that sounds fun and singing pretty melodies. I definitely view the world as an extremely dark place though, and I muse on that a lot when I’m writing my lyrics. Lyrically I think that a lot of the songs on our record are warnings. Maybe the world isn’t as dark as I think it is. Hopefully not. I’m just saying, people who you think are your friends have spoken ill of you for infinitesimal personal gain. You have been cheated on, even if you don’t know it. It’s just the way the world is. There is good stuff too, depending on who you surround yourself with. Even if they seem good though, they could be worse than someone who comes off as a total creep. Really nice people who use a lot exclamation points to express themselves scare me.

BB: Tell me a little bit about the album cover – pure artistic expression, or a commentary on something specific?

JH: Neil Krug is an amazing photographer. We wanted to use something of his for our album cover because we dug his vibe. All of the songs on the album are voyeuristic. Each song is a brief look into a certain characters world or a different world with it’s own cast of characters. The photo that we happened to pick jumped out at us as a scene that could have been one of the songs on the album, but isn’t. The album cover is essentially the hidden track on our album that doesn’t exist.

BB: Have you been to Vermont? What for, or what have you heard about us?

JH: We’ve never been to Vermont, but we hear that your syrup is as sweet as honey.

BB: Do you ever wish you were in the audience at a DUB show, or do you get the same high from playing the music that the audience gets listening to you play it?

JH: I think it’d be cool to see our band play live for sure. There is this crazy energy that I feel when our band plays music together. My face starts to buzz, it’s kinda like that feeling you get the first time you kiss someone, the first time you make out. I can feel when the audience is feeling that way too. You can just tell. It’s like the room is full of industrial-strength magnets, but they are all pulling together and pushing away from each other simultaneously.

BB: What’s your beverage of choice before, during and after a show?

JH: Irish whiskey is my drink. Can’t really do whiskey at the shows though, because I tend to get what the band calls “Jim-faced” when I drink the dark stuff. Lately I’ve been sticking to vodka on the rocks pre-show and post-show. The clear stuff keeps me in check somehow. I also always bring two bottles of beer on stage to keep things going but not too going during the set. That’s a DUB standard.

BB: I’ve read at least 10 album or show reviews, and nobody seems to agree on how to describe your music. Can you do it in one sentence?

JH: A Kubrick film viewed through a kaleidoscope?

BB: Can you name a few bands you’ve been listening to a lot lately?

JH: Most of the music that I’ve been getting into has been the music of bands we play with. I’ve been really into Maps and Atlases music since we toured with them. They are amazing musicians, virtuosos. I got a preview of their full length and I can’t wait till I can get my hands on it. It’s gonna blow minds. I’m also really looking forward to going on tour with Free Energy because I’ve had a bunch of their tracks on repeat in the car recently. They write really great pop songs that I can’t seem to get out of my head.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

7 Questions for JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound

Filed Under: 7 Questions, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Tuesday April 20, 2010
JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound

who's bad?

I’ve been a music fan and fiend for nearly my entire life — I can’t think of a time that music didn’t at least partially define who I am or was. But it didn’t occur to me until just recently to start writing about it. So I have to say I was both surprised and amused that after only posting 7 entries to this nascent collection of musical musings, I got an email from a label representative, asking me if I’d be interested in interviewing a soul band with an upcoming show at The Monkey House.

Obviously I jumped at the opportunity, made all the more satisfying by the fact that the band – JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound – is really good. Posted below is the first of what I am optimistically expecting to be many such Q&A sessions written here. Without further ado, 7 questions for JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound, answered by bassist Ben Taylor except for the question specifically addressed to guitarist Billy Bungeroth:

Q: What are the two most recent live shows you have each been to (other than shows you played at)?

A: The Gossip @ The Barton Theatre, Adelaide, Australia – they happened to be playing there while my wife and I were on our honeymoon. Beth Ditto is the one of the most amazing performers I’ve ever seen — she genuinely makes a connection with the audience.

Diplomats of Solid Sound @ Martyrs, Chicago – an amazing soul/jazz group from Iowa City, featuring some great Hammond organ and sax playing, plus the lovely ladies of the Diplomettes singing up front.

Q: Have you met an audience you couldn’t make dance?

A: No, every audience we play for dances. [having listened to a bunch of their music, I'm not at all surprised]

Q: Do you ever wish you were in the audience at your own show, or do you get the same high playing music that others get listening to it?

A: I wish I could see this band. We saw JC sit in with the Diplomats of Solid Sound once and it was mind-bending watching him work the crowd. I get higher playing it, and I have the best view in the room.

Q: (for Billy Bungeroth): Given your blog post on new can’t-miss bands, I see we share an interest in both hip-hop and indie rock. What’s the first hip-hop album you owned (and was it vinyl, cassette or CD)? What’s the first non-mainstream or “indie” rock show you went to? [mine are Big Daddy's Kane's "Long Live the Kane" cassette and Rogue Wave/Fruit Bats/Chad VanGaalen in 2005 - 17 years later]

A: Public Enemy’s “Nation of Millions” on cassette (with James Brown’s Greatest Hits on the flip)
Fugazi, NoMeansNo, The Ex @ Sacred Heart Church, Washington DC 1991

Q: Chicago question – Ever been to the Wieners Circle in Lincoln Park? if so, what’s the worst thing you’ve been called by one of the staff? [I got called "you Beavis looking honkey motherf***er"]

A: Yes, but since it’s usually during the day, and I was sober, they were pretty nice. when I asked them to hold the mustard, they asked “you don’t fuck with mustard?!!”

Q: I’ve been inspired into a funk/soul renaissance by a friend (and Sharon Jones). What inspired you to start playing soul music (a band, a generation, an artist, or just a groove)?

A: It started with finding out who Public Enemy, Tribe Called Quest, and the Beastie Boys were sampling, progressed through a heavy Motown/Stax/Aretha/Meters/Funkadelic/James Brown kick in college, but not bothering to play it live until I met Billy and JC, cats who could actually walk it like they talk it.

Thanks to Ben and Billy for taking the time to answer some questions. And thanks to Billy for introducing me to Cool Kids. Here’s a reminder that JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound will be at The Monkey House in Winooski on Wednesday, May 5. See you there!

“JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound are for the people remaining awake through a great revolution… for people who want to move and not just sit tight… for soul people! Guaranteed to make you dance by any means necessary, JC Brooks is the new sound of Chicago.”

p.s. if you only counted 6 questions then you are paying too much attention. here’s the 7th question, which wasn’t answered: Howard Zinn was an inspiration to many – as a civil rights and anti-war activist, an historian, and a proud liberal. what made you write a song about him?

Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.