Monday, October 31, 2016

The Witzard Premier: Darko The Super's "Spook-tacular" Beck, Devo & Jimi Hendrix-sampling Halloween-themed Put Down The Candy & Let The Little Boy Go! Mixtape (U DONT DESERVE THIS BEAUTIFUL ART)



"I'd like to think of this album as more of a home-made mixtape you could burn to CD and give to Trick-or-Treaters. It's what I've been working on the past few months; music is a labor of love. I love releasing albums and sharing them with my friends and I intend to never stop. Put Down The Candy & Let The Little Boy Go! furthers that narrative. Maybe one day, I'll embrace my outer-adult to the fullest and find a real job. Til then, this is all I have," Evan Souza, better known as Darko The Super or Doc Heller, wrote within a message included along with his Trick-or-Treat-ready Haloween-themed mixtape. The Witzard previously premiered the mixtape's Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg-inspired title track, which Souza says was dually inspired by Slaves' recent Mike D (Beastie Boys)-produced album, Take Control. Darko The Super clever re-appropriated a line pulled from Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg's Eazy-E dissing "F*ck wit Dre Day (and Everybody's Celebratin')" and used it as "a metaphor for letting [his] childhood go and facing [his] fears of becoming an adult in the sense of what's acceptable by society's norms; trying to stop embracing [his] inner-child and focus on [his] outer-adult."


Put Down The Candy & Let The Little Boy Go! showcases 10 frantic genre-blending tracks—four of which ("Put Down The Candy..." "Milk of Magnesia," "Evan Threw Up," and "Spray Paint") were previously released over the course of the past month or so. Darko The Super drew inspiration and material for sampling from a wide array of sources including Horror film Kill List, Beck's "Corvette Bummer" & "Steve Threw Up," Drake's latest album Views, Devo's "Shrivel-Up," Small Professor, Facebook beat solicitation, Stoned Jesus, Portishead, Jimi Hendrix, Serengeti's Gasoline Rainbows, Deltron 3030, Michael Rapaport's 2006 film Special, and his girlfriend Alora. "Milk of Magnesia" is one of my personal favorite, almost Ol' Dirty B*stard-reminiscent, contained tracks, which Darko The Super fittingly described via email as: "For this track, I looped up the intro part of "Corvette Bummer" by Beck. I wrote the first two verses and the chorus after hearing the Beck song; the rest of it was cut-and-pasted from other unfinished songs I had written and never used. "Milk of Magnesia" was something I wrote in my notes to remember that I wanted to use it in a song somehow. I do that with a lot of phrases. It's also something old ladies who cheat at trivia drink." Put Down The Candy & Let The Little Boy Go! is currently available for just $6.66 (or more) at Darko The Super's own U DONT DESERVE THIS BEAUTIFUL ART label's Bandcamp page; make sure to grab a copy and "burn this to CD and hand it out to all the Trick-or-Treaters. I'm sure the little green ghouls will love you for it!"

Sunday, October 30, 2016

German Producer-composer JJ Whitefield Unleashes "Ghanaian Afro-Rock" JOHNNY! 45x3 Bundle with Eric Owusu, Henry Taylor, Tomi Simatupang & Bernd Oezsevim (Now-Again)



"'Johnny" was our band internal call for "dude," "bro," etc... our sound guy Jochen started, at one point, calling everyone "Johnny" and this spread to the point that everybody was called "Johnny" by everyone in the crew... [it] was easy, you didn't have to remember names... also, there is a similarity to the West African habit of using the name "Charley" for "dude,'" Poets of Rhythm/Whitefield Brothers mastermind JJ Whitefield wrote within an email concerning his latest eclectic musical output, JOHNNY! Billed by Now-Again as "Ghanaian Afro-Rock from German producer/composer JJ Whitefield and an international cast of top-shelf musicians," JOHNNY! consists of Johnny (Henry) Taylor on vocals/keys, Johnny (Eric) Owusu on vocals/percussion, Johnny (JJ) Whitefield on guitar, Johnny (Tomi) Simatupang on bass, Johnny (Bernd) Oezsevim on drums, and Karl Hector helming production duties. "[Whitefield] first started exploring African rhythms with The Whitefield Brothers in the late 90's, continuing in the 2000's with Karl Hector & The Malcouns. He’s been instrumental in launching Ghanaian Afro Beat/Funk legend Ebo Taylor's international career, decades after the maestro recorded the landmark albums that have inspired thousands. Whitefield recorded two new studio albums with Taylor and toured in his band between 2009 and 2013, where he met Taylor’s son Henry and percussionist/singer Eric Owusu." JOHNNY! & Karl Hector are currently finishing up a proper full-length for Now-Again.


Johnny Whitefield said the group's influences come from two angles: first, a recent 4-year stint as tenor guitar player in Henry's father Ebo Taylor's band playing Afrobeat and Highlife-stylized music. Whitefield called it a "wonderful experience" playing with Ebo, Henry & Eric, having formed a close kinship easily transcending that of most touring band mates; at that time, the three young musicians already had the urge to continue making music after the Ebo years and in December 2012, JJ Whitefield decided to quit Ebo Taylor's band to start working on a Zamrock-centric project presented to him by Now-Again Records founder Egon. Together, Egon & JJ Whitefield re-issued, re-mastered, an properly released a big chunk of the classic sought-after 70's Zambian Rock LP's. Whitefield worked alongside Zamrock legends Jagari Chanda and Rikki Ililonga, a process which fueled his interest in "merging African rhythms with heavy Fuzzy Rock sounds, et voila: JOHNNY! got his style.” Last Wednesday, October 26th, Now-Again suddenly unleashed JOHNNY!'s 45x3 bundle (or single 7-inch) debut containing "Ago," "I'm Gone," "Only Love," and their companion instrumentals in a limited edition of 1000 die-cut dress jacket and re-sealable "Japanese-style" sleeves; upon my first listen, I almost instantly picked up notes of Thin Lizzy, Death, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Paul Simon's Graceland, Music from Saharan Cellphones, Madlib + Mamao's cross-continental Sujinho album, Stevie Wonder, Seu Jorge, and even Iggy & The Stooges' brand of sleazy Fuzz Rock.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Canadian Emcee Emay Channels Yasiin Bey (FKA Mos Def) & Pusha T On Socially Conscious First Music Video, "Bakkah: The History of Humankind" (Directed By: Aaron Hall)



"No question! My objective for the song and why I named it "Bakkah" is because Bakkah refers to the Kaaba in Mecca, which is considered the "House of God," in a sense. In the song though, I'm referring to how people relate to one another as being our "house" that is faulty and shaky; barely standing, but nonetheless, is," Hamilton, Ontario, Canada emcee Emay (Mubarik Gyenne Adams) wrote within an emailed statement sent exclusively to The Witzard earlier today.

"This new song, "Bakkah: The History of Humankind," was initially just a poem about humanity as a whole. When it began to rhyme, I basically just ran with it. It was also a great opportunity for me to experiment with my writing, as I was always self-conscious about using a more poetic/metaphorical style of writing, so with this track I allowed myself to get completely lost in that form," Adams continued. "Bakkah" stems from his long-rumored Sinner, Song-writer EP (2014) follow-up, ILAH; "Bakkah" was preceded by a string of like-minded Soundcloud loosies "Beg II "For Madeena,'" "Tiers of Tears," "Israfil "angels trumpet,'" Chef Byer-produced "Blaow "That Hurts,'" and Gene One-assisted "Drench"—all, or none, of which may ultimately end up re-appearing within ILAH.


Upon hearing "Bakkah: The History of Humankind" for the first time, I almost immediately managed to liken Emay's feverish delivery to that of Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) or G.O.O.D. Music President Pusha T; beaming with an "undeniable" sense of social consciousness and political urgency. "For the video, me and the director, Aaron Hall, bounced a lot of ideas off of each other and eventually, Aaron thought of using riot gear for the video. To me, the video is a battle displaying my ideological development and the conflict of ideas taking over and building off of one another," Emay wrote, detailing the concept behind "Bakkah." It's an odd, yet fitting, dichotomy and quite obviously, an intentional artistic decision for Emay and director Aaron Hall to feature a break-dancing robot within the companion video for a track subtitled "The History of Humankind." "My beliefs and ideas about the world are constantly evolving and developing; this isn't an over-night process, but one that takes a decade or maybe even a lifetime," Emay continued. Mubarik Gyenne Adams' soon forthcoming proper "debut" album entitled ILAH was proceeded by his Where The Wild Things Are-borrowing instrumental project Emay, Karen O + The Kids (2010) and critically-acclaimed Sinner, Song-writer EP (2014) with outsourced production work from Resolved Dissonance, Hut, Giraffage, Star Slinger, and Hallow Pigeons.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Tony Molina Speaks on His Latest EP, "CONFRONT THE TRUTH," OVENS' 15-year Anniversary, His Love for YG & The Bee Gees Robin Gibb's Influence (The Witzard Interview)


"You could fit the contents of Tony's previous releases on Slumberland and Matador [Records] onto one side of a 90-minute cassette and still have room left over for the eight offerings on CONFRONT THE TRUTH, but would you want it any other way? When Tony sings about "trying to move on but I just don't know how," no extension of the time it takes for him to bring that feeling across is going to solve the problem at hand. You're immediately thrust into the orbit of these songs; you know how he feels, and now you can relate. Transference is complete. You've got plenty of time left over to dwell upon them.

The eight offerings on CONFRONT THE TRUTH notch a significant advancement in his style and approach. Almost completely absent from these new songs are the over-loaded guitar crunch of DISSED AND DISMISSED, or his earlier work with OVENS; it's replaced by gentle acoustic balladry, tasteful Mellotron and piano backing, the kind of musicianship that often takes a lifetime to master. The sadness of this music has precedents in Pop's past; Tony's revelatory turn into specific traditions of Pop music speak directly to the reasons why we love music in general, and what keeps our finest players driven to create. The repertoire from which he draws may be narrow, but in these songs, you hear exactly what Tony found in those influences that shaped his experience; years upon years of focus and isolation in developing his guitar skills to speak to these truths. The main difference here is that where Tony's previous works felt casual and easy to digest, here we feel the full weight of his emotional needs pressed against the gentlest and most careful music of his career..."


- Doug Mosurock,
a fan first and a friend forever

August 2016


I. Now, correct me if I’m wrong: but according to your Discogs page, you’re still an “active” member of Caged Animal, Case of Emergency, Dystrophy, Lifetime Problems, OVENS, Sharp Knife, and Yadokai. Is there any new (or as-yet-unreleased) material from any of these projects currently in-the-works?

Every single one of these bands broke up, some as early as 2002, except for OVENS, who aren't broken up, but haven't recorded since 2009. We're going to have our 15-year anniversary next February, actually. It's crazy that it has been that long! I guess in Punk or Hardcore years I am an old man. I'm going to be 32 next month.


II. Aside from 50 lone cassettes mailed out along with OVENS, your debut solo “album,” Embarrassing Times wasn’t very widely released; one album and two EP’s later, do you have any immediate plans to release another full-length?

Not at all. I never plan for releases and I have never written or recorded with the intentions of turning it into a physical product that people can buy, which is a terrifying thought to me. Once I've recorded something and I have a bunch of songs that seem like they flow well together, as a solid listen, then, it basically becomes a "release," even though sh*t gets shelved most of the time.


III. What ultimately made you decide to reel it in a few notches and record a stripped down, “light-hearted” almost Lemonheads and Dinosaur Jr.-reminiscent, Punk album than your previous works?

The new 7-inch is mostly influenced by 60's bands and song-writers like Judee Sill and is the farthest thing from Punk I've ever done. Maybe [DISSED AND DISMISSED] reminded people of Dinosaur [Jr.] or The Lemonheads, at times, but I can't see that on this set of songs. I've never been too into Punk, I also have never heard a Lemonheads album all the way through. I've always been more into Metal and Hardcore and sh*t and The Beatles, obviously haha.


IV. Now, is CONFRONT THE TRUTH EP a tried and true “solo” album, wherein you play every single instrument throughout... or did you assemble a “solo band” for the purposes of this EP? If so, who did it include?

My friend Anthony OBC played the organ and the bass track on "No One Told He" and he also did the Mellotron part on "Hung Up On The Dream." He was a huge influence on the making of this record and there's no way it would have ever happened without his creative input, influence, and contributions to the songs. ["Confront The Truth"] is actually something he came up with years ago. Blaine Patrick did the drums on "No One Told He." I played everything else myself.


V. We, here at The Witzard, are a primarily Hip-Hop-centric publication with a soft spot for Punk, Soul-Funk, and Indie Rock; with that said, what would you likely deem a few of your favorite Hip-Hop releases of the past 12-18 months?

I rarely follow current music, but my favorite current artists are Milk Music, Weyes Blood, Jessica Pratt, Meg Baird, Sharon Van Etten, Cate Le Bon, White Fence, and a bunch of current Metal and Hardcore sh*t. It's pretty embarrassing to admit, but I don't follow Rap as much as I should because it's probably the best type of music there is. I think the last thing I really liked was the newest YG [Still Brazy] album. That album is sick!


VI. What do you have planned next, Tony, following your CONFRONT THE TRUTH EP’s 10/28 release on Slumberland Records?

Nothing really changes for me. I'm always writing and recording one thing or another. I don't know or care if I release another record as long, as I'm doing music I'm happy with—even if I'm just in some cover band that plays the bars in Pacifica or some sh*t.


VII. How did CONFRONT THE TRUTH’s closing (only “electric”) track, “Banshee,” a Thin Lizzy cover plucked from their 1971 Nightlife album, come to fruition and end up on the EP?

Yo, Nightlife is from '74! I like doing covers, mainly instrumental ones, because I am not much of a vocalist. I did a rough demo of it one afternoon at my practice space at Turk+Taylor in [San Francisco] years ago to Tascam-688, which is a cassette 8-track that me and my friends use for the hell of it. I liked the way it came out and I think it worked as a closer. Nightlife is the most under-rated [Thin] Lizzy album and I think it's their best album. I finally replaced my CD with the LP, which I bought on tour in DC last summer; shout out to Joint Custody Records!


VIII. What might you cite as some of your greatest sources of influence and inspiration while writing and recording CONFRONT THE TRUTH EP’s rather quick-strike 8 tracks?

The Beatles, Judee Sill, George Harrison (solo), old Bee Gees, Robin Gibb's first LP [Robin's Reign], The Stones, Hendrix, Sagittarius' Present Tense, Carole King, Kaleidoscope's Tangerine Dream, The Zombies, Idle Race first two albums [The Birthday Party & Idle Race], The Move, Roy Wood's Boulders, The Kinks, Pink Floyd 1967-73, Pretty Things, Vashti Bunyan, the first ELO LP [The Electric Light Orchestra], Townes, Gene Clark, Dear Nora, Excruciating Terror, and Mortician.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Peanut Butter Lovesicle Frontman Timmy Miller Continues to Piece Together The 303 Construct with Acoustic-driven "Missing Pieces" & Reggae-indebted "Thinkin' Bout It" (self-released)



"'Missing Pieces" is more of an interlude type track. I had the acoustic guitar part for about a year and I came up with the backing vocals around the same time, but nothing creatively really came to me after that. A couple months ago, I re-visited the track and since recording it, a keyboard came into my life, so I decided to try some different sounds overtop of what already existed. The second half of the song has a heavier Electronic beat with the same first verse vocal and I really like the switch up from acoustic to heavier Electronic—it's very interesting to me and although it's a short one, I like what it does from beginning to end."

- Timmy Miller on Friday's "Missing Pieces"


Ocean City, New Jersey native, Timmy Miller, who has since re-located to Denver, Colorado and started working for the National Park Service, released two more tracks from his forthcoming solo debut, The 303 Construct this past NEW MUSIC FRIDAY; "Missing Pieces" and "Thinkin' Bout It" are actually the third and fourth tracks from what's shaping up to be quite an eclectic mix of Reggae, Funk, Hip-Hop, R&B, and guitar-accented Rock. "'Thinkin' Bout It," for me, is a favorite style-wise, but definitely one of my biggest strays out of my comfort zone. I love Reggae and always wanted to record a Reggae-style tune but this track definitely takes more of an R&B/Hip-Hop feel with the straight beat hi-hat, as opposed to some syncopated Reggae rhythm you would hear on any of the classic Roots Reggae bands like Culture or [Toots & The Maytals]," Miller fittingly described Friday's fourth released track. "This song was conjured up starting with the bassline and I immediately knew I wanted it to carry a sexy vibe, the bassline reminded me of some [Ginuwine] 90's R&B song... but I have no idea which one. The more I played around with the vocal ideas, it became very apparent to me that the vocal also needed more of a sexy storyline approach to it and also that a Dub-style delay was going to be needed in parts. I really wanted it to take on some Sublime-esque moments," Peanut Butter Lovesicle's frontman continued. It's currently unclear exactly when (or if) The 303 Construct will be released in complete full-length form, but for the time being, it appears as though Timmy Miller intends to unleash a track or two each Friday afternoon; so, with that said, stay tuned to this space in the coming weeks, as it'll be interesting to see and hear how this all unfolds!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Cosmic Safari: Praktikos Shares Self-released "Chillactic" ßeat Tape, Vol. 1 Ahead of Forthcoming Departure EP (Ambient Instrumental Hip-Hop)



"Born and raised in the culturally-diverse Bay Area, Haseeb Naweed (aka Praktikos) is an Electronic music producer presenting a unique blend of atmospheric beats, often featuring deep uplifting melodies and soulful female vocals," Praktikos wrote within an email sent about two months ago; quickly likening his "ambient, downtempo, chill hip-hop style beats with a relaxing uplifting spacey vibe" to The Witzard's recently covered Jenova 7 & Eddie Shinn's A Cosmic Safari album, which initially prompted him to email me his music. "His latest release, Chillactic [Beat Tape, Vol. 1] is a 10-track instrumental catalog of ambient chilled hip-hop beats, providing listeners with an intimate introduction to his work... Influences range from Nujabes, Flying Lotus, Bonobo, and many pioneers of the chill-out/electronica sound (Carbon Based Lifeforms, [Paul] Oakenfold, Enigma)," Naweed continued. Praktikos is currently finishing up recording a 5-track EP titled Departure, which will be released this upcoming November 21st. He's also actively working on a "new Bloodsport project coming soon... featuring samples from the film and soundtrack."


Praktokos' Chillactic Beat Tape (Vol. 1) is self-described by the artist himself as "a 10-track instrumental collection featuring a unique blend of ambient spacey Hip-Hop beats. Perfect for freestyling, contemplation, or just kicking back after a long day;" it's fittingly tagged on Bandcamp as "experimental hip-hop, instrumental hip-hop, rap, ambient, beat tape, beattapes, chill beats, chill hop, downtempo, instrumental, Oakland" and within its download file, contains a handy Leasing Rights PDF, so that artists can freely re-use its beats on their own personal projects. While listening to Chillactic's 10 contained tracks, I readily hear influence drawn from J Dilla, Brainfeeder mastermind Flying Lotus, and Enigma, as well as an almost Radiohead or Aphex Twin-esque sense of tediously planned self-destructiveness... akin to Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke's critically-acclaimed sporadic work with Stones Throw-affiliated masked villainous emcee, DOOM. Chillactic is currently available to stream at either Soundcloud or within the 3-minute "demo reel" player below, as well as for purchase from Praktikos' Bandcamp page for a reasonably-priced $7.99 (or more). His next project, the proper follow-up to Chillactic Beat Tape (Vol. 1), Departure EP is currently planned for a November 21st release.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Hip-Hop Producer Turned Drummer Jay "J-Zone" Mumford & Long-time Mastering Engineer-Guitarist Pablo Martin Aren't Funkin' Around On The Du-Rites LP (The Witzard Interview)


"Just some nasty instrumental Funk! It’s a niche market, but that’s always been where my heart is. I just never had the resources or the right mind and skill sets til now. When I first started playing drums, Pablo called me to sit in with his band, PABLO, because the drummer wasn’t showing up. They were patient with me as I learned my instrument and how to play with other musicians, instead of just jamming in my basement. I eventually became the drummer in that band, but for a moment, the rest of the band was busy with stuff and both Pablo and I had other side projects that were kind of dragging. The PABLO band is more like Rock, so Pablo and I decided to make a pure Funk project on our own. That became The Du-Rites and it’s ironic that it’s coming out before all the other projects and is actually getting really good feedback. It was initially inspired by restlessness and a desire to "Funk out,'" Jay "J-Zone" Mumford replied during our previous interview, when asked how he came to form a band with his long-time mastering engineer and Tom Tom Club guitarist, Pablo Martin? Now, following two Funk-tastic singles, "Bug Juice" and "Hustle," and a slight mishap turned instant collector's item 7-inch vinyl pressing, J-Zone & Pablo Martin have unleashed their self-produced and conceived debut as The Du-Rites, The Du-Rites LP; "Can you dig it? If so, get a plate of neckbones, beans, and rice and put on your Old Spice. The Du-Rites are here to pour some fried fish grease on your kale salad. They’ll out-Funk you so bad, you’ll give up the Funk and start making ballads. Rollin' with Soul like a 1979 Cadillac when you step on the gas. Groovin’ so hard, they’ll knock the boogie man on his a**,” writes Neighborhood Wino & Music Connoisseur Pimpin' Polyester Pete on the LP's reverse sleeve. The Du-Rites LP is currently available digitally, with politically-charged bonus track "Moving to The Moon," on either J-Zone's personal or The Du-Rites Bandcamp profiles or on sunset orange wax from Old Maid Entertainment/Ilegalia Records in conjunction with Redefinition Records... "Ever order a kale salad and discover a neckbone in it? That’s Funk! Ever write a love letter on a chicken grease-stained napkin? That’s Funk!"


Sincerely,

Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Master Allah Truth Truth (MATT)


I. I know that Pablo’s mastered nearly every J-Zone record since A BOTTLE OF WHUP A** THE EP (2000), but how did you two initially come to form The Du-Rites?

Pablo: We’ve known each other for years. We got together a few years ago to jam and we would come up with ideas that I would later finish at home and send back to Jay. Last year, we decided that it would be [a] good idea to make an album; but it started very informally as two people jamming on holidays just to get by, while people were with their families (I had none here) or shopping. We would get together sporadically on dates like Passover, Christmas, or during bizarre weather events, like blizzards or heat waves.


II. How might you attempt to best describe The Du-Rites sound to fans new to your music or even Funk as a whole; in particular, your “ever written a love letter on a chicken grease-stained napkin” metaphor for the band’s sound?

J-Zone: Grease.

Pablo: Groove and dirt—in that order.


III. How did you happen upon the band name “The Du-Rites” and what exactly is it intended to convey or signify? What were some of the rejected band names?

J-Zone: It was the only name! No rejected names. I was thinking how in the 60's all those Soul bands had names like The [insert hyphenated name that really has no meaning]: The Bar-Kays, The Mar-Keys, The Shangri-Las, etc. It was a play on that. I figured we do Funk right, so... The Du-Rites. It literally just popped in my head with no effort. Like I said, that era of music and everything about it is ingrained in my daily life.


IV. Are the initial “EP’s-worth,” or eight minutes-worth, of music first recorded during The Du-Rites earliest conception included within this album? How many versions, tweaks, and re-edits have they gone through since then?

Pablo: Yes, the initial eight minutes are also the biggest ones in terms of orchestration. We re-did drums on “The Chief and I” and re-tracked both drums and bass on “Man with The Golden Tooth” because Jay wanted to re-track his part. But the original had the drums and bass on one single track, so I couldn’t edit around it. I guess the original version of this track would be the most interesting out-take of the album. Having said that, we have hours and hours of jamming that eventually we might want to revisit, but I truly believe that what we picked was the very best of all. Also, on the original eight minutes were “Hustle” and “Bookie.”

J-Zone: I started composing songs on my own later into the making-of the album. “Bug Juice,” “Ghetto Ferris Wheel,” “Play The Right Hand,” “Neckbones,” “Moving to The Moon,” and “Git’n Off” were songs I composed after that initial run of songs Pablo wrote. “Git’n Off” was actually the first song I ever wrote without using a sample as the main piece. I’m not much of a keyboard player, but I composed my songs around organ riffs, and then, had Pablo add the fly stuff on guitar.


V. How would you describe the typical recording process behind The Du-Rites LP; let’s just say, for example: “Bug Juice?”

Pablo: “Bug Juice” is Jay’s masterpiece on this album; “Hustle” is mine. This combination defines very well who does what in The Du-Rites. For “Bug Juice,” Jay sent me the track with the drums, organ, and bass for me to add the guitar. I took a Psychedelic approach, so they are hypnotic, but not the main thing. The drums are everything on that song. I ended playing bass because my bassline kicks a** and made us sound strong.

J-Zone: I played bass on a lot of songs, but Pablo ended up replacing most of them. I played bass as a kid and can throw down some lines, but he’s got a better ear for which basslines work. He also has that Fender Telecaster bass that just sounds amazing. The only cuts that survived with me on bass are “Neckbones,” “Moving to The Moon,” and “Ghetto Ferris Wheel."


VI. What might you likely deem as some of your greatest sources of influence and inspiration during the creation of The Du-Rites LP?

Pablo: I use all the influences I have at once and try to not think of any particular sound when I’m writing because you end up writing too close. I used everything I know from Funk to Stax [Records] to Tom Tom Club and everything in-between. I used Dub and Disco techniques, but without thinking about any specific ones.

J-Zone: I’m a big late 60's-early 70's Funk fan. All those obscure bands that put out 45's back then and disappeared—that was what inspired me most. I have a monthly DJ gig playing that stuff, so it’s ingrained in whatever I do. That stuff was a bit raggedy sonically, vocally, and even from a writing standpoint, but the musicianship was so good and the grooves were so strong. A lot of early Funk bands were actually Jazz cats doing R&B stuff because it paid more. So, there’s a Jazz influence, as well. Pablo mentioned Stax and of course, there’s Motown, Kool & The Gang, and The Meters, but I was also really inspired by lesser-known bands like Dynamic Corvettes, Ray & His Court, Warm Excursion, Willie & The Mighty Magnificents, and The Counts.


VII. How do your “extracurricular” bands you play in together (PABLO & Lulu Lewis), and even separately, ultimately play into The Du-Rites’ sound or are they solely separately functioning entities unto themselves?

J-Zone: The Du-Rites is a different type of groove than PABLO or Lulu Lewis. PABLO may dip into Funk territory when we jam out, but the songs are more Punk Rock and LuLu is Punk Rock and Blues. It’s soulful and groovy, but not as syncopated as The Du-Rites stuff, as far as drumming goes. It’s a whole other bag, but I still sound like myself regardless of what I’m playing. I just had to get used to the pulse of the Rock stuff because it’s different, more straight ahead. Playing with those bands made me a better musician because the other cats (Walter Baker & Bill Harvey) are veteran players and really [talented]. Being the least experienced musician in those bands, I had no choice but to keep it together. It got me out of my basement and out on stage, playing with good musicians. That’s what it’s about!

Pablo: The Du-Rites is its own thing, separate from any other of my other projects. It’s Funk by the book; pure, so no other direct influence besides having no fear of being raw and dirty, which is what I do with my other bands. However, the experience of Lulu Lewis & PABLO are highly affected by The Du-Rites with the concept of groove first. I’m lucky that Jay is kind enough to drum with me on that stuff because it takes it to another level, but also I think it was great for Jay to come out of his comfort zone and dip into Rock "N" Roll a bit and learn from it. Plus, I hooked him with Walter & Bill (and later, with Dylan Hundley for Lulu), who are not only some the best in NYC, but some of the nicest I know.


VIII. How did each other’s past works including, but not limited to Tom Tom Club, Danger Mouse, Lulu Lewis, Broken Bells, and J-Zone’s Hip-Hop albums ultimately end up affecting The Du-Rites' new-found Funk-tastic sound?

Pablo: I used everything I know, including Lulu and [Tom Tom Club]. There is always a lot to use from your own experience. That’s key and more valid than using other pointers or influences that are not exactly your own.

J-Zone: I think my background in Hip-Hop gave me a feel for what gets heads nodding. As a sampling producer and DJ, I also have a sense for what’s funky and how drums should sound in a mix. I think my ear is the most important thing I got from Hip-Hop that I use outside of it. The melodic stuff Pablo brings is what makes The Du-Rites appeal to a wider audience and makes it more than just breakbeat sh*t.


IX. Do you fellas have any immediate plans to concoct any sort of Du-Rites remix of vocal album with emcees, producers, vocalists, etc?

Pablo: Yes, but right now we’re just anxious to put the record out and see what comes out from it. I’d like to think we’re a rhythm section like the old days, like The MG’s, The Funk Brothers, or Sly & Robbie, to name a few. We can work with anybody at any time in any style.

J-Zone: What Pablo said. I also think “Du-N-It” would sound great with Steve Arrington on it! I like instrumental music better than vocal stuff, personally, but the reactions I’ve gotten from people all say they’d love to hear how a Charles Bradley or someone of that ilk would sound over the stuff. I’m open for whatever.


X. What do you have planned next, following The Du-Rites LP’s 10/21-11/18 release on Redefinition Records... any current plans for a tour, music videos, more 7-inch singles, etc?

J-Zone: To tour we’d need to hire other musicians to play bass, percussion and keys. We can both play multiple instruments, but we overdubbed our asses off—there’s only two of us!

Pablo: We have a video documentary being released with the album and I would like to do another video in the way I did with Lulu [Lewis]. We’re anxious to see the record come out because we had a few stressful points with the manufacturing of the 7-inch. So, we want to put the LP out to wash that out and then keep moving forward.


XI. I know it’s a bit of a “sore subject,” but would you care to briefly speak on The Du-Rites’ recent “Bug Juice” b/w “Hustle” 7-inch pressing error? How many 45’s were ultimately salvaged and do you have any current plans to re-press and properly release it?

Pablo: Basically, we were played by an a**hole at the pressing plant who’d promised us fast turn-around at a regular price, but lied and failed us at every stage of the process. He tried a lot of tricks with us; from refusing to refund our money to crazy stuff like blocking us from social media and spying on our pages to see if we were trashing him. The most potentially damaging thing he did was [lecture] us about the way we do our releases because that type of talking can ruin good relationships. So, once we got 100 (barely) out of the 300 we initially ordered, we moved out, in bad terms; we lost money on sales and we risked credibility, but instead of getting us down, we came out of this with an authentic rarity in our hands: a collectible.

J-Zone: Yeah, that was a nuisance. Every plant is backed up; vinyl is unpredictable and I totally understand that, but this situation wasn’t necessarily about turn-around times. The plant just didn’t communicate with us. The 7-inch machine was broken, at one point and we didn’t know til weeks later. 66 of those 100 records had visual defects, so I had to email my customers after the records were sold on Bandcamp and let them know about that and offer refunds. And only having 100 units, the wholesale price shot up to $7.00 for records with defects. It wasn’t a good look. Luckily, the customers didn’t really trip about it. At this point, we’re exhausted from the whole situation and want to move forward on a positive note. If you’ve got one of those 7-inches, you have a collector’s item!


XII. You’ve previously stated that “The Du-Rites’ music is already being featured in a major film in 2017 and if you need a theme song for your fried chicken joint, [we’ll] get it done;” are you able to divulge which “major film” you’ll be appearing within and have you heard anything from any fried chicken joints yet?

Pablo: I’m not sure if can divulge the name... but yes, it is true, we’re the opening song on a major film in 2017. It’s actually a vocal track; we did the music. We were the writers and rhythm section backing the singer/rapper.


XIII. Would you care to briefly speak on The Du-Rites LP's lone (digital-only) vocal track, "Moving to The Moon" and it's correlation to our nation's current political situation?

J-Zone: "Moving to The Moon" was an idea I had after the album was already submitted for vinyl and tape manufacturing. I wasn't sure we'd be getting our 7-inch single in time (or at all), so I figured we could do some bonus material for the digital version—plus, we had time to do it. Besides the intro to "Neckbones" and the banter at the end of "Du-N-It," there was no vocal presence on the album. I want this album to be seen as totally separate from what I did as an emcee and be taken seriously for the musicianship, but on the same token, it wouldn't really be a J-Zone-related record without some type of commentary. So, I just went to Facebook and wrote down the statuses and news stories that annoyed me the most and made a poem. The bit about Washington Square Park was an observation from when we shot the album cover and press photos there. Musically, I did the drums, bass, and keys on that one, then sent it to Pablo and told him to shred at the end.

Pablo: No, if there is something where the corporate structured government succeeded was being able to make any kind of protest manifestation, a song in this case, by not giving a sh*t, [I] didn't want to be part of that. Basically, Jay wrote the song [and] I shred the guitar out of 7-inch issues anger.

Friday, October 21, 2016

3 Feet High & Rising: Stones Throw's Latest Signee Sudan Archives Unleashes Impassioned Bare-bones Violin-assisted "King Kunta" Cover, "Queen Kunta" (Kendrick Lamar)



"Meet Sudan Archives, a 22-year-old self-taught violinist/vocalist who writes, plays, and produces her own music. In this live performance video, she flips Kendrick Lamar’s “King Kunta” with just her voice, a violin, and a loop pedal. She'll be performing at Stones Throw Superfest in Los Angeles, November 5th," Stones Throw Records wrote on their Facebook page Thursday afternoon. Their latest signee, formerly know as Sudan Moon, "began playing the violin at age eight in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, where she also played in various school and church choirs. Her [2014] debut EP, GOLDENCITY, was self-produced on an iPad in her parent’s basement." Now, just two short years later, Sudan Archives is currently preparing to release her proper self-titled "debut" album, which it appears as though, was completed long before she recently signed a deal with Stones Throw. "While classically-trained, Sudan finds inspiration from the various fiddle styles of Africa and aspires to lead an all-female orchestra" and her Facebook page lists West Aisha El Falatia, Issa Mbaye Diary Sow, African Folk, and Traditional Sudanese Music as Artists [She] Also Likes and Influences. Aside from the aforementioned assorted tidbits of information, little else is known about Sudan Archives; although, I can undoubtedly say this much, she's indeed in a league of her own, even on a label that's become increasingly left-field or even non-Hip-Hop in recent years!


Sudan Moon has seemingly assembled an as-yet-untitled "Quartet" in preparation for for her upcoming Stones Throw Superfest appearance, which consists of herself, Iridas & Yvette Cornelia, and Max Kaplan on keys. While it's currently unclear when exactly her Stones Throw debut might end up materializing—fingers crossed, before the end of 2016—Moon is additionally preparing for her first international trip to Ghana, Africa this upcoming December "to teach Electronic music production to the children of The North Star School" with an array of donated equipment from Pandora and Ableton. "Your generous donation today will help our team cover the logistics costs associated with producing this magical workshop. This 3-day workshop will prepare our students for an increasingly tech savvy world. Please share or donate [to] The Taiwo Fund," Sudan Archives wrote on her Facebook; donations can be made to The North Star Beat initiative on either The Taiwo Fund Facebook page or GENEROSITY.COM. Ahead of Sudan Archives self-titled full-length, Stones Throw has uploaded a spine-tingling sparse, impassioned cover of Kendrick Lamar's (already gripping) To Pimp a Butterfly stand-out, "King Kunta," now, for all intensive purposes, fittingly re-titled "Queen Kunta" recorded "with just her voice, a violin, and a loop pedal" and filmed by in-house photographer and director Eric Coleman.

Phil Collins & "F**ck, That Tastes Good" Present: Action Bronson & Big Body Bes' Knxwledge-produced "DU-RAG VS. HEADBAND" (Directed By Tom Gould) Blue Chips 7000?!!!??!




"The silver vehicle featured in ["Du-Rag vs. Headband"] is also an E31 8 Series BMW, an “M8;" the only prototype ever produced (one that was reportedly not even road safe) was locked away by BMW in the company’s Giftschrank (poison storage). BMW and The M Division had strongly denied that the car was even a possibility, since the initial stages of its development. The only public showing of the car happened on August 17, 2012 during The Legends of The Autobahn car show held in Carmel, California. The car was specially shipped from Germany for the appearance," Genius contributor @ebuzzell wrote, appended along with "Mash the petal of the 850; sound like the thunder cracking." Sharp-tongued Flushing, Queens rapper and former chef turned television personality Action Bronson surprise released his latest non-album single, "Du-Rag vs. Headband" last night at 10:00PM on his VICELAND travelling food show, F*ck, That's Delicious. Since unveiling his proper Atlantic/Vice Records debut, MR. WONDERFUL back in March 2015, Bronson has become established working relationships and aligned himself with world-renown chef Mario Batali, Rachael Ray, post-Jimmy Fallon Late Night host Seth Meyers, Wendy Williams, and Jimmy Kimmel, as well as Eminem & Blink-182's long-time manager, Paul Rosenberg.


It's unclear as to whether or not "Du-Rag vs. Headband," along with "Descendant of The Stars" and "MR. 2 FACE," will ultimately end up appearing within Action Bronson's third Blue Chips mixtape, Blue Chips 7000 or his long-rumored MR. WONDERFUL follow-up, The Human Highlight Reel. For now though, we have "Du-Rag vs. Headband"'s rather outrageous (well, maybe not by Bronson standards) Tom Gould-directed music video, which features his sh*t-talking "Albanian cousin" Big Body Bes mounted atop a pearly white steed, frequent F*ck, That's Delicious cohorts Meyhem Lauren & The Alchemist, and Nxworries producer and Traveling The Stars: Action Bronson & Friends Watch Ancient Aliens co-star Knxwledge; chaotically nestled within Gould's video presentation, we see ax-minced dinosaur eggs, Bronson sporting a Middle Eastern du-rag-esque head wrap, the aforementioned E31 BMW 850CSi & 8 Series "M8," countless unadulterated rap squats, a Knx-driven ice cream van, and Body ferociously rapping, "and when I die, make sure you spread my blood on a BMW," as well as an uncharacteristically hilarious white steed-centric outro rant. Now, it's really nothing all that different than what Action Bronson has repeatedly been doing ever since Blue Chips (2012), but it's still interesting for anyone who's even remotely into anti-Kanye Hip-Hop, exotic food, pro-wrestling, jet-setting, and generally, having a good time!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

"Ultra-talented Drummer, Composer, Producer & Bandleader" Pat Van Dyke Re-releases PVD Breaks, Vol. 1 On DJ-friendly 45 RPM 12-inch Vinyl (Redefinition Records)




"The PVD Breaks [Vol. 1-2] project started as a way for me to hone my skills mixing live drums in my modest Jersey City studio. The goal was to achieve the sound of classic drum breaks using what I had at my disposal, recording different kits in different rooms, with a variety of mics and mic placements, and really taking it a step further during the mixing process to differentiate one breakbeat from the next," Redefinition Records-deemed "ultra-talented drummer, composer, producer, and bandleader" Pat Van Dyke wrote within a recent emailed statement sent to The Witzard. "I always wanted to release the [2010-12] project on vinyl so that producers, DJ's, turntablists, and beat-makers could really manipulate the music in a variety of ways... as they would an open drum break found in the context of an old record. When Redefinition Records hit me up, I was excited to work with a label who’s had such a long run of quality releases with artists like K-Def, Klaus Layer, and Damu [The Fudgemunk]. I’m grateful for their help in making the vinyl release a reality and for getting the music into the hands of the right people. I also want to give a shout out to Joe Buck for hooking up the artwork and layout for the 12-inch," PVD enthusiastically continued.


Jersey City native Pat Van Dyke (no relation to Dick) has worked alongside John Robinson, Suff Daddy & Mayer Hawthorne, Lux DeVille emcee 8th W1, Melinda Camille, Fancy Colors, and MAX Digatron and has additionally had his music showcased within FOX, NBC, MTV, VH1, Comedy Central sitcoms, and has provided the soundtrack to viral videos from the likes of VICE Magazine and Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. "I initially released [PVD Breaks] Volume 1 & Volume II on my own (digital only). When Redefinition Records hit me up about releasing the project on vinyl, we re-titled it as simply Volume 1, but included the best breaks from both of the original releases," PVD replied when asked about the project's relation to his 2010-12 Bandcamp-released PVD Breaks Volume 1 & Volume II projects. PVD Breaks, Vol. 1 is fittingly advertised by Redefinition Records as "26 original drum break loops played live by the ultra-talented musician/band leader, Pat Van Dyke; vinyl cut at 45 RPM for high quality playback/sampling; various mic techniques implemented for optimal sound quality; recorded and tracked in different studio rooms for texture/variety." Flea Market Funk founder and writer DJ Prestige enthusiastically attests that "the combination [of Pat Van Dyke & Redefinition Records] is deadly, and if you’re looking for quality, royalty free drum breaks, plus a variety of synths, horns, and keyboards, you came at the right place."

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

3 Feet High & Rising: Seattle Singer-songwriter, Guitarist & Looper Steven Curtis Performs "Bad Company" & "Ocean" Live at Robert Lang Studios (Soundcloud self-released)



"Hi there, my name is Steven Curtis. I'm a musician based in Seattle, Washington with a decent local following going. I recently released a video that reached over 200,000 views on Facebook. I performed with a loop pedal at Robert Lang Studios, which have worked with Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Macklemore, Train, Linkin Park, Kenny G, and more," read a recent email from self-described Seattle "singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, looper, performer," and Alex Hager affiliate Steven Curtis. "With just a microphone, loop pedal, and a guitar, Steven takes the stage and blows the crowd away... in the summer of 2015, Steven did over 100 shows. 2-3 shows a night just to get his name around Washington; now, he's starting to trend everywhere, [recently] reaching over 1,200,000 views on Facebook doing a cover of "Candy Shop" by 50 Cent. Steven's hard work and dedication has given him a steady following and supportive fan base," Curtis' on-site Bio continued. For those who may not be fully aware, a loop pedal is defined by Not Playing Guitar as: "a guitar loop pedal records short passages played on an instrument and plays them back in a repeating loop. Loops can be mixed together to create complex rhythms and harmonies from layers of simpler parts. Usually, a loop pedal is used to create a backing that you play along with," as Steven Curtis effortlessly does throughout his Robert Lang Studios-recorded original compositions "Ocean," "Bad Company," and "Everything."

"'Bad Company" was [written] about a girl I was really into a few years ago. But every time I finished hanging out with her, I just felt gross and felt nothing good came from it. I somehow felt worse after hanging out with her, knowing she wasn't good for me to pursue dating. The song only took 45 minutes to write. I was surprised how everything came together so fast, when I was letting out my emotions. Surprisingly, she's been one of my best friends for years now, haha!"

- Steven Curtis on "Bad Company"


Steven Curtis readily cites fellow singer-songwriters and guitarists John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Ed Sheeran, and Jon Bellion as his greatest sources of influence and inspiration. "Steven Curtis has a great voice, you can't learn to write songs and melodies like that, you have to be born with it," Everclear frontman Art Alexakis gushed about his one-time touring mate and opener. Steven Curtis candidly describes electrified acoustic romper "Bad Company" as "a song about liking a girl for all the wrong reasons and watching the entire series of Prison Break on Netflix," which is progressively multi-layered, not entirely unlike a sample-filled Hip-Hop track, until its triumphant John Mayer-esque meandering guitar solo at roughly 4:08; "Ocean," on the other hand, is "about fighting for your dreams and what you believe in, no matter how small the chances look. "Yes, I'll fight for my dreams and my pride—that tsunami will never take me alive.'" "Steven Curtis is two steps ahead of everyone and I guarantee, he's on the road to success," Robert Lang Studios founder and namesake Robert Lang firmly attests. It's currently unclear as to whether or not Steven Curtis is busy working on a studio album, concise EP, or live album—although, he currently has "Bad Company," "I'll Be Here," and "Fall," as well as both studio and live recorded renditions of "Ocean" uploaded to his personal Soundcloud profile for your streaming pleasure!

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Men Frontman Mark Perro Talks 2014's Tomorrow's Hits, J Dilla's Donuts, Brainfeeder & Their Forthcoming Fireball of a Hardcore Punk Album, Devil Music (The Witzard Interview)


"Today, we announce our forthcoming full-length record, Devil Music, on our very own We Are The Men Records. The LP will be available on Friday, November 11, 2016. We found a [farm] and scratched down the songs on this LP after just a couple of days in our practice space. Luckily, our space and our studio are the same exact f**king room!, so the proceedings went quickly. “Gun” was [cut on] Friday after our shifts and some messing around with a Harry Nilsson tune. The rest were recorded on Saturday and Sunday, the holy days. You haven’t heard much from us lately, have you? It’s good to be alive and playing music," read a typewritten statement, addressed to "Everyone," published to The Men's Blogspot-run band site Monday, September 12th. It's an odd coincidence, since I was just listening to their infectious Creedance, Bob Dylan, and Rolling Stones-influenced 2014 album, Tomorrow's Hits on my Nexus 7 recently at work and wondering when the next, normally annually-released, The Men album would likely surface. Nick, Mark, Kevin & Rich additionally wrote that while Devil Music will be released on their own newly-formed We Are The Men Music, "Sacred Bones Records will carry copies and your record store should have it" and that LP copies will become available for pre-order within the 'Store' section of their site. Devil Music, equal parts a new beginning and return-to-form for Brooklyn's The Men, is reminiscent of Black Flag's righteous Free Jazz and Hardcore Punk-melding Process of Weeding Out EP meets Dead Kennedy's frantic 1987 anti-hits collection, Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death. I've been lucky enough over the course of the past month or so, to have been in contact with The Men founding member, frontman, and guitarist Mark Perro and conduct the in-depth, 14-question interview, to effectively align with Consequence of Sound's premier of "Crime," which you now see transcribed below; Perro candidly spoke on everything from the departure of bassist and guitar player Ben Greenberg to recording New Moon, Tomorrow's Hits, and Devil Music to his recent affinity for J Dilla's swan song, Donuts, as well as Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder collective.


Sincerely,

Your Punk Rock Purveyor,
Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz



I. How has The Men’s core line-up changed since the recording and release of Tomorrow’s Hits–most noticeably, the recent departure of bassist, guitar player, and in-house producer Ben Greenberg (2011-14)?

Was he in the band that long? My memory doesn’t serve me as well as it used to. He was always kind of around, even when he wasn’t in the band–he produced Leave Home and Open Your Heart, we’d play with his bands, Pygmy Shrews and Hubble. He was close. [Ben] joined officially right before we went to Australia for the first time. He joined as the bass player, which was probably a foolish move on both of our parts. He’s one of the most talented guitar players I know, so, I dunno, it caused some friction. Too many egos in the room for a while there. We tried to make it work–we recorded New Moon and Tomorrow’s Hits together. They were both recorded in 2012, actually. Then, we were just on the road forever–we didn’t really write any songs at all until 2015, which just shows you where all of our heads were at. We’d never gone that long before without writing new material.

So, to answer the question–it’s now just the four of us: me and Nick [Chiericozzi] on guitars, Kevin [Faulkner] moved full time onto bass (he was playing lap steel primarily, although, he’s a natural bass player), and Rich [Samis] still on drums. Everything got so crazy with the sound and just all the stuff surrounding the band. We wanted to trim it down, get back to where we came from.


II. Sound-wise and stylistically, how did you guys manage to seamlessly transition from New Moon (“Post-Punk”) to Tomorrow’s Hits (“Garage Punk”) to your forthcoming Devil Music (“Punk/Noise”)?

I don’t think it was anything conscious. [We were] just doing what we do; trying to follow some sort of muse. New Moon was kind of a mess, in hind sight, we were all over the place. Chris [Hansell] just left the band, Ben [Greenberg] was brand new and Kevin [Faulkner] was moving full-time into the band. With that said, that was one of the most free times creatively I’ve ever felt in my life. We were experimenting with every possible sound. We took over a house upstate [New York], build a studio from nothing, and just went to work 16-20 hours a day for two weeks or something like that, just going for it. Somebody had an idea, "f*ck it, let’s do it. That was the attitude.

Tomorrow’s Hits, on the other hand, was a mess in a totally different way. We were touring so much, we had publicists and managers and agents up our a** every second. We were trying to fit in time to keep writing, but we kept getting side-tracked. I think we all had different ideas of what we wanted that record to be. Devil Music, we just wanted to get back to where we came from, find ourselves again. People forget where we came from; I think we forgot for a while, too.


III. Your recent type-written press release attests that “we found a [farm] and scratched down the songs on this LP after just a couple of days in our practice space. Luckily, our space and studio are the exact same f**king room!, so proceedings went quickly;” was Devil Music really 100% fully recorded over the course of a 3-day weekend? How!?

Yeah, it was–but honestly, that’s nothing unusual for us. We have always recorded live, and with the exception of New Moon, we’ve always been prepared. We had been playing those songs for six months or so, at that point. The songs were there and we went in and laid down a few takes and moved on. We’re not perfectionists. We’re much more interested in the energy of a take. So, we went in there, played the songs, and moved on.


IV. I remember reading that Tomorrow’s Hits was heavily influenced by Classic Rock artists such as Credence Clearwater Revival, The Rolling Stones, Bob Seger, Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen, and Tom Petty. Who would you likely say were amongst your greatest sources of influence during the January 2016 recording of Devil Music?

I dunno, man; it’s tough to say. I think on this one, I personally had the least outside direct influence. I was very motivated by the emotions I’d gone through over the past few years with the band and everything that happened about it and surrounding it. Anything I had to say on this record was very selfish and pretty frustrated, but it goes to show you that music is a beautiful thing because now that I got some of those songs out, I feel much better.


V. "'Gun" was [cut on] Friday after our shifts and some messing around with a Harry Nilsson tune,” reads your Devil Music press release. Which Harry Nilsson tune was it and does that then, make “Gun” a cover... or was Nilsson simply a source of influence?

Nah, "Gun" really has nothing to do with Nilsson... It’s not a cover, although, the song is indirectly ripping off probably 20 other songs, but that’s fine. There’s nothing new anymore. We were jamming on "Jump In The Fire," just playing that riff over and over again, while we were getting our sounds together. I think a song like that is indirectly an influence. Simplicity–one riff–over and over again. I like that repetition.


VI. While it appears as though you’re still planning to work closely alongside Sacred Bones Records, what ultimately made you decide to form your own We Are The Men imprint to coincide with the release of Devil Music?

I think it’s along the same thinking of the way we made this record in general. We got so lost, caught up in nonsense and checked out. We wanted to get a hold of ourselves again. That’s how we did it when we started–our first two LP's, We Are The Men and Immaculada were self-released. We were planning on doing Leave Home that way, as well, but then [Sacred] Bones came along. And honestly, Sacred Bones has been so unbelievably supportive of us. I don’t even understand it sometimes. We are so difficult to deal with; we really have some left field ideas and are stubborn and pig-headed, but they’ve always stood by us. Our new arrangement is a perfect example of that and we really appreciate it.


VII. Tomorrow’s Hits’ deluxe edition vinyl had some awesome packaging: glistening red vinyl encased in a wax-sealed, silk-screened newspaper-style outer sleeve collage... are you planning anything special for Devil Music’s yet-to-be-unveiled LP packaging?

Yeah, our drummer, Rich [Samis] handles all of our artwork and he’s come up with some really cool stuff over the years. There’ll be a special edition of the [Devil Music] artwork that you can only get from us or Sacred Bones.


VIII. What were the band's intentions including a zany 1970's-reminiscent THE MEN OFFICIAL FAN CLUB order form within Tomorrow's Hits' deluxe LP packaging? Did anyone actually mail the order forms back in requesting merchandise, such as The men Official Fan Club vacuum cleaners, potato chips, TV remotes, dog food, etc? I've always been half-tempted to just mail it back and just see might come in the mail!

Yeah, that whole thing was really a play on those actual fan clubs bands used to have pre-Internet, I guess... when we were kids, there was no Internet period, so this mysterious fan club thing was pretty exciting. You'd mail away and then, some package would show up with some exclusive sh*t. There's nothing exclusive now; you can literally have any song, patch, T-shirt, ever made within seconds of clicking a button. Very bizarre times... so, we just wanted to have fun with that! Unfortunately, no one ever mailed anything in–we've still got that The Men [Official Fan Club] Vacuum Cleaner sitting around.


IX. Tomorrow’s Hits only yielded one lone music video (“Pearly Gates”), which I believe, is The Men’s first and only proper music video. Do you currently have any forms of visual accompaniment planned to go along with Devil Music?

Not yet, but we’re open to it... we actually did make one other video for “I Saw Her Face,” which was on New Moon.


X. Do you fellas have any immediate plans to tour behind Devil Music? And if so, will you likely stick solely to Devil Music or delve back into a career-spanning set?

No real immediate plans. We’re doing a show in New York and a show in Chicago. We’re open to other possibilities, but we’ve got a lot of things going on that make us want to stay close to home. We’ll see, we’re just going to let it play out. I wouldn’t expect much [older] material at the shows, though; we’re pretty forward-thinking these days.


XI. What can you tell me about the recording process behind your 2014 Tomorrow’s Hits-leaning Live In Zagreb cassette? Now, was it actually recorded during a show held at Klub Močvara (“Swamp”) in Zagreb, Croatia?

Yeah, that is an actual live recording of a show we did in Zagreb–that’s the venue’s true name, as well. Our sound man, Kyle [Keays-Hagerman] would record sets here and there, while we [were] in Europe one time. We thought that one sounded pretty good and [Sacred] Bones was looking for something special to release with the record. It worked out [really] well!


XII. We, here at The Witzard, pride ourselves on being a primarily Hip-Hop-centric publication with one foot firmly planted in Punk Rock and the other in Indie Rock; with that said, what would you likely name as a few of your favorite Hip-Hop releases of the past 12-18 months, Mark?

I don’t listen to that much Hip-Hop, honestly. I do like J Dilla and I recently discovered [Donuts] so late in the game–but that’s a great record. I really like Flying Lotus, also and that whole Brainfeeder scene; although, I guess that sneaks into Jazz, but I like that cross-section I seem to be hearing in Hip-Hop these days. I’ve always loved Hip-Hop artists that have the live band going behind them!


XIII. How does your work with band mate Nick Chiericozzi as Cheap Trick-referencing Dream Police affect your creative process with The Men... or does it simply serve as an alternate creative outlet entirely unto itself?

Dream Police pretty much always existed as a side-outlet, when things with The Men weren’t going in the right direction. Our first two tapes came out of ideas that just didn’t fit into what we were doing at the time. The Hypnotized LP happened because The Men had creatively ran into a brick wall and we wanted to keep doing something. I’m really proud of that record!


XIV. You recently directed me towards your Sacred Bones-helmed Bandcamp page, wherein I was able to stream a good chunk of The Men’s sprawling back catalog and delve into on-site album descriptions. What ever happened to the remaining five as-yet-unreleased songs recorded live during Tomorrow’s Hits’ sessions? I love this album and it’s what initially got me into The Men- might these shelved Tomorrow’s Hits-era tracks ever see a proper release, Mark?

Ah man, I don’t know what happened to those songs. I don’t remember liking them that much. They will probably stay in the vaults. More likely, you will hear more new songs than those [older ones].

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Witzard Premier: Birds With Teeth & Mick Boche's Collaborative Single "Heat & Sadness," Accompanied By an Interview with Baltimore Singer-songwriter Jordan Parrish (self-released)


"I can't really say what the title will be, but it should be released as a single in a week or two, depending on what [Jordan Parrish] decides to do with it. I decided to work on it because it really brought me back to the "Hopeless Romantic 1+2" tracks emotionally and it's always nice to challenge yourself to write something new about a familiar subject," San Diego rapper-producer and engineer Mick Boche revealed within our previously published interview a few months back. Long story short, I actually first heard about "disappearing" emcee Boche (then Izaac) from my friend and collaborator John "Jumbled" Bachman, who featured Izaac within a bonus track, "World's On Fire," on his impeccable Baltimore-centric beat-minded album, [I wish it was longer]. Not long after, Izaac's social media accounts were completely wiped and he went dark, unbeknownst to Bachman and I, having left Baltimore and secretly relocated to San Diego re-branding himself as "Mick Boche." John Bachman and I were both eventually able to get in touch with Boche and we talked extensively about his new career aspirations and direction, which in turn, led to the aforementioned interview; somewhere in the midst of all that insanity, Mick Boche introduced me to his friend Jordan Parrish, whom he said recorded "Folk-Pop" music out of Baltimore as Birds With Teeth.

Parrish bills himself on Soundcloud as a "song-writer, singer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer [who's] in the studio right now" working on his debut 7-song EP as Birds With Teeth; while he currently has a number of 1-2-year-old tracks uploaded to his Soundcloud page, including an incredibly chilling lo-fi cover of 311's "Amber," his collaboration with Mick Boche, now having been dubbed "Heat and Sadness," is actively being billed as his first proper single ahead of aforementioned EP. I recently had the opportunity to sit down and ask Jordan Parrish a few questions concerning his work with Mick Boche, forthcoming Birds With Teeth EP, influences and inspirations, and plans to "bring [his] songs to life" with deeply powerful music video presentations. So please, feel free to sit back, relax, and enjoy The Witzard's exclusive premier of Birds With Teeth & Mick Boche's collaborative single, "Heat and Sadness" (or as Boche affectionately nicknamed it, "Hopeless Romantic III") while you peruse quick-strike interviews with both Birds With Teeth mastermind Jordan Parrish and ever-illusive Mick Boche.


Sincerely,

Matt Horowitz
The Witzard Editor-In-Chief


I. How did you and Mick Boche initially come to get in touch? You two are both from the same Baltimore area music scene, correct? Well, that's how I actually first ended up getting in touch with you, Jordan, through Mick!

Mick came to one of my gigs in Baltimore with a mutual friend of ours and that night we hung out at my house and talked about music for hours. We found the we both had a passion to really try to improve our skills and make songs that mattered. He left Baltimore shortly after we met, but we've kept in touch. Finding an artist who knows how to buckle down and work hard is always awesome and he's definitely a workhorse.


II. How was "Heat and Sadness" recorded—especially with yourself still living in Baltimore and Mick having recently relocated to San Diego?

Basically, we worked with the magic of The Internet. Both of us have basic home studio setups and we're both constantly working on new songs. I had written the chorus for two other friends of mine, but they didn't have time to work on it because of career changes. I loved the hook and I thought Mick would write something that matched the vibe. I asked him if he'd be willing to write for it, sent him my demo, and he sent back two good verses. This was while both of us were working hard on our own albums, so it took a while to come together.


III. Stylistically, how is "Heat and Sadness" similar or dissimilar to your forthcoming debut Birds With Teeth EP?

“Heat and Sadness" is most different from anything on my EP because it has a strong Hip-Hop influence. Don't get me wrong, I'm a mountain kid from Appalachia at heart and I grew up listening to music from Nashville, but Baltimore has rubbed off on me in the four years I've lived here; you can hear some hints of the Hip-Hop and Neo-Soul new friends have recommended to me. One way it's similar to my EP is that it's pretty somber. The last three years were pretty dark for me, literally, because I spent many months on night shifts. I had so much time to think, often all alone, often at 3, 4, 5 o'clock in the morning. I spent a lot of time pining for the sun and for people and reflecting on life and lots of the songs grew out of [working nights].


IV. What might you likely deem some of your greatest sources of inspiration and influence during the creation of "Heat and Sadness," as well as your forthcoming Birds With Teeth EP?

It's so hard to pin down the influences, but I would have to say, I fell in love with the electric key sounds in Erykah Badu's album Mama's Gun (2000). I also love cinematic music—songs that make you feel like you're living in a movie. It's also influenced by one of my all time favorite albums, The Boy vs. The Cynic (2005), by a fairly obscure rapper named John Reuben. I wouldn't call that album Hip-Hop, definitely Rap—almost like spoken word, at times; more for the NPR crowd than the average Rap album, for sure. The sonic palette of mostly live instruments, sort of a crossover between Pop-Rock and Hip-Hop, went a long way in shaping the way I define good music. "Heat and Sadness" definitely takes some of its sonic design from that album.


V. Do you have an immediate plans to film any sort of music videos or live footage to accompany "Heat and Sadness" or your forthcoming Birds With Teeth EP?

I absolutely love music videos! A good one can bring a song to life in such a powerful way, but a bad one can spoil a song and embarrass the artist. So, for that reason, I want to wait to make a visual until I'm sure I have the resources to do it right. Hopefully, I'll reach that situation sooner rather than later.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Beatsmiths Chris ('i's') McCormick, All These Fingers & Butch Dawson "Wax Poetic" About Submitting Beats for Future Islands Frontman Sam Herring aka Hemlock Ernst's Soundcloud Freestyles (The Witzard Exclusive)


It's really no secret, at this point in time that Future Islands frontman Samuel T. Herring moonlights as Socrates & Locke Ernstfrost-referencing greenhorn emcee Hemlock Ernst. "17 years in-the-making, Hemlock Ernst finally got pressed to wax. Thanks to @madlib and @nowagain for making my childhood dreams real," read an impassioned @futureislands Tweet posted on the heels of Sam Herring's official Madlib-produced debut EP, Trouble Knows Me; although, he professes he's been rapping since the 9th grade (around 1998), Hemlock Ernst's first recorded appearance "on wax" was as recently as 2010 on Rapdragons' Baltimore-minded "Gotta Go." He's since rhymed alongside The Alchemist & Oh No (Gangrene), Scallops Hotel, Curse ov Dialect, Milo, Busdriver, Cavanaugh, Open Mike Eagle, Scoop DeVille, Fat Tony's Charge It to The Game, and most recently critically-acclaimed artists, BADBADNOTGOOD & Clams Casino.

While he still has yet to release his proper solo "debut" as an emcee, it appears as though Sam Herring is slowly gearing up to unleash some sort of project, as he recently enacted Hemlock Ernst Soundcloud and Instagram accounts; said Soundcloud page houses a large chunk of Herring's scattered Hemlock Ernst discography, as well as an active link to his newly-launched HEMLOCK ERNST site, and a four now month-old freestyles: "Mazatlan Flex Freestyle," "In The Land of The Cats" (free verse), "My Myopia Freestyle," and "Barzan Freestyle." I've been lucky enough to speak with the three talented producers behind these mysterious tracks individually—Butch Dawson, Chris ('i's') McCormick, and Butch Dawson, which I strongly urge you to read below, while we all anxiously await Hemlock Ernst's proper Trouble Knows Me follow-up?!!!??! Sam Herring himself told me last night, via Soundcloud message that "there's a few projects [Hip-Hop] in-the-works, but no plans anytime soon for releases. Just building things, as I go. Back in Future Islands mode pretty strong right now."


"In The Land of The Cats" (free verse): "It was actually quite an easy [collaboration] that came together. He liked a couple of my tracks on Soundcloud and I have been a fan of him for a couple years. [I] love all the features he has been doing with dudes like Milo, Busdriver, Open Mike Eagle, etc. so, I thought I'd hit him up with [some] tracks and we just kinda built from there; the beat from ["River Echo"] is the one that first hit him and that was basically it—just happened pretty natural. He said he will make [some] more stuff on those beats I sent him. I know exactly why he is doing what he is doing right now, but [I don't know] if I'm allowed to say anything haha, but basically, he has a Hip-Hop project dropping, at some point."

- Chris ('i's') McCormick


"My Myopia" Freestyle: "A few days after my last tape (secret places) came out, Sam hit me up and sent me the track asking if he could post it. I obviously thought it was great and gave my permission. His approach was really nice/humble—apparently, he had been a fan of my stuff for a while, which was kinda crazy. I knew his work with Madlib, but honestly, never made the Future Islands connection, since I'm not up on a lot of non-rap/beat music. My roommate was like, "hey, his main band is really awesome and pretty well-known!" I'm stupid. Anyways, hopefully, we'll put some more stuff out in the future... [I] just hit him with a batch of new stuff recently."

- All These Fingers (âtƒ)


"Mazatlan Flex Freestyle" & "Barzan Freestyle:" "Well, Sam is a big fan of my music and when I had dropped a 4-track beat tape over the summer called KIM, Sam bought it and rapped over some of the beats I had. He had asked for permission, even [though] I told everyone who bought the tape that you can rap over them, but he's very generous and chill, so he wanted to make sure it was OK... made this tape for my girl. But if you purchase, you can rap or sing on these b*tties!"

- Butch Dawson




Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Witzard Premier: Darko The Super's Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg-referencing "Put Down The Candy & Let The Little Boy Go!" (Soundcloud Stream & EXCLUSIVE Music Video)



"I made the beat [last week]. It's the first beat I made actually playing everything through my MIDI keyboard. I usually never do that. It felt good to have something completely mine in a way. I was listening to the new Slaves album [Take Control] produced by Mike D of Beastie Boys, before I made the beat; maybe that inspired the sound," Darko The Super (Evan Souza) wrote within a recent statement to accompany his latest single and music video, "Put Down The Candy & Let The Little Boy Go!," which he was kind enough to let me premier right here at The Witzard! "Not too sure what the verses are about, but the chorus describes envying a friend and being dissatisfied with yourself because you're not in a better position like they are, but at least you know them. I wrote the lyrics while taking out the trash, getting a shower, and doing the dishes. I get most of my writing done doing daily tasks," Souza continued. Darko The Super additionally told me that "Put Down The Candy & Let The Little Boy Go!"'s title is a quote from Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg's Eazy-E dissing "F*ck wit Dre Day (and Everybody's Celebratin')" wherein he's cleverly re-appropriating it as "a metaphor for letting [his] childhood go and facing [his] fears of becoming an adult in the sense of what's acceptable by society's norms; trying to stop embracing [his] inner child and focus on [his] outer adult." "Put Down The Candy"'s beat draws inspiration from Michigan-based Punk band The Spits, Beck's experimental second album, Stereopathetic Soulmanure (1994), and improvised Jazz and Noise artists signed to Already Dead Tapes, whom Darko The Super has "been lucky enough to play shows with and listen to;" already dead tapes & records have previously released Evan's Oh, No! It's Darko and Knox Overstreet.


"Pennsylvania-based human Hip-Hop experiment Evan Souza aka Darko The Super or Doc Heller, invites you to follow him on a bold and warped quest through aural space with his abstract music. Having collaborated with the likes of Homeboy Sandman, Mr. Muthaf*ckin' eXquire, Open Mike Eagle, Pyramid Vritra, Dudley Perkins, Lil B, [Charles Hamilton], and many others, this gifted lyricist is surely prepared to cause your mind to explode like Robot Santa being told a contradiction," reads Darko The Super's self-penned press bio. "Sure to leave your spine tingling, Darko & Doc are here to promote a change in society, positivity, love for all, and a break from the norm. He is set to leave his mark on the world as a disciple of the Bill Hicks' philosophy, "play from your f*cking heart," Souza enthusiastically continued. Darko The Super initially reached out to me about two weeks ago via Twitter, a friend of my frequent collaborator, John "Jumbled" Bachman, and in addition to his solo work as a rapper-producer and crafting beats for everyone from Homeboy Sandman to Lil B, Evan Souza runs his own label imprint called U Don't Deserve This Beautiful Art; "my latest release is a beat tape called Beercan, which I produced during a weekend at a campground in Kalamazoo. I have two recent Rap albums—my latest self-produced Take Me to Your Computer, as well as one using beats by Small Professor, Your Mouth Is Bigger Than Your Entire Brain. The latest album on my label is a new cassette from The Static Brothers, an Experimental Noise-Rap group from Philadelphia." Darko The Super says "Put Down The Candy & Let The Little Boy Go!" will "probably [end up] on an album of the same name," which I would assume will materialize in the not-so-distant future, judging by his rather rapid release schedule.