Posts tagged ‘Interview’

January 4, 2013

Breakups, Death and Dance Music: An Interview with PonyHomie

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We’ve written about PonyHomie several times over the past couple years. But today, in honor of the release of their new album, Remable, and their headlining show tonight at Chop Suey, we thought you’d want to hear it straight from the horse’s – err, Pony’s – mouth.

We caught up with Brando Feist, vocalist and synth master for the dark electro-dance trio to learn a little more about the new album, the band’s creative process, and what we can expect to see at the show tonight.

SEA live MUSIC: What can fans expect from the new album, Remable?

Brando: Remable is a bit of an odd record, to be honest. Though many of the songs are very dark lyrically, the melodies are deceptively uplifting. People quite often mistake some of our darkest, saddest songs for love songs or happy tunes. We’re just happy to have people listening and having their own take on these songs that the three of us now know so well.

SLM: Do you guys collaborate on songwriting, or does one of you do most of the heavy lifting?

Brando: Our writing process has always varied… typically I [Brando] will have an idea or a new keyboard effect and show Mike [drummer] and Ramon [bassist], ask them what they think, and take it from there. I usually write lyrics and song structure by myself to really focus on the content. When I feel like the song is completed on my end, I will send it off to the guys to have them start thinking of parts. The hard work starts when we all three put our ideas together to nail down drums and bass parts. Often what Mike and Ramon come up with is nothing close to what I originally envisioned, but I am always happily surprised by the results.

SLM: Where do you draw most of your inspiration from for PonyHomie’s music?

Brando: Lyrically, I typically draw inspiration from loss and sadness, depressingly enough. Loved ones I’ve lost in one way or another. I’ve written about death and made it sound like a breakup, and I’ve written about breakups and made it sound like death. I try to have a sense of ambiguity in my lyrics to let the listeners decide for themselves what they want the song to be. Musically, my inspiration comes from new music. When I hear the latest tracks from my favorite artists, that’s when I am drawn to my keyboard and pushed to write something new.

SLM: Can you tell us a little about the recording process? Did you do all the recording in Seattle?

Brando: All of the recording was done in Seattle. When we originally recorded our demo to send to Scott Colburn (our producer), we figured that he would like to rerecord almost everything for the album. We were very excited that he thought much of what we had sounded great as is, so we decided to focus on turning our demo into a cohesive album. We kept all of the original keyboard parts, recorded in my studio apartment, and many of the bass parts that were recorded at Mike’s house. For the rerecording of the drums and vocals, we headed to Gravelvoice Studio, where Scott helped us finalize our tracks.

SLM: How did you decide to focus on synth, rather than guitar, as the main instrument for the band?

Brando: I had been playing guitar for many years, and had started to lose interest. I was finding it difficult to write new songs that sounded like new songs. I wanted to start focusing on more electronic and dance driven music, mainly because that was what I had been primarily listening to at that time. I purchased the Nord and immediately began writing songs I couldn’t possibly have thought of with guitar. I still love playing guitar, but I continue to base even our most guitar centric songs around the strength of the keyboard.

SLM: You use some really great vocal effects – how did you come up with the right balance?

Brando: I have no idea. There was a lot of tinkering involved. I played with the settings until I found something that sounded great or made me laugh and I stuck with it. If I thought it might work, I used it and didn’t look back.

SLM: Do you have anything special planned for your show at Chop Suey?

Brando: We have a couple of old tricks up our sleeves. They aren’t necessarily things we haven’t done before, but I think people will get a kick out of it.

SLM: If you were to arrange a national tour, who would be your dream bands to play with?

Brando: I’ve thought about this question a lot, and I don’t have a really good answer. I can think of some absolutely amazing bands that I would love to meet and to play shows with, but we wouldn’t necessarily fit on a bill well together. I could write a list, but it would be several pages long…

SLM: What is the story behind the bandannas?

Brando: I wanted a give a sense of anonymity to us as musicians… to let the audience focus on the music and what was being played rather than who was playing it. I never really wanted to be an anonymous band, because that just seemed like far too much work to hide our identities from the friends who were coming to see us play. The first couple shows we played, we kept the bandannas on the whole show, but by now they’ve become more of a symbol for us.

SLM: What music is on heavy rotation for the PonyHomie crew right now?

Brando: Since meeting with Scott Colburn, I’ve been checking out a lot of his other production work. My favorites come from the Portland band Nurses, and Brooklyn based Prince Rama. Both fantastic bands. I also have gotten very into a band called Royal Bangs… their album “Let It Beep” is phenomenal.

1/4 PonyHomie / Redwood Plan / Ever-So-Android / Jabon @ Chop Suey :: Tickets are $8 :: Doors at 8:00 PM :: 21+

September 16, 2011

An Interview with Tonight’s Featured Act, The Features

Over the past year, The Features have become one of our favorite bands outside of the Seattle area. While the band has been doing quite well in Europe, most notably the UK, for years, it’s only been relatively recently that the Tennessee rock band has started getting the same attention and respect stateside. You may have heard The Features on KEXP or perhaps you even heard the band because you happened to tune into PBS’ surprisingly captivating documentary mini-series Circus.

Or maybe this is your first time hearing about the band. Whatever the case may be, continue on to read our interview with drummer Rollum Haas and check out the band in person as they open for Kevin Devine at El Corazon tonight.

For those not yet familiar with your band, what key elements might help them identify what they’re hearing as The Features?

We’re a four piece rock band that has keyboards instead of another guitar, we don’t do a lot of solos/showboating, and our singer doesn’t sound like a fey indie rocker or the guy from Creed.

At what point did you start seeing the reactions to your original songs become positive enough to warrant the jump from being a band heavy on covers to one that plays its own material?

By the time I joined in ’98 we were long past that point. I know that Matt started writing his own songs pretty early on. When we rehearse we always just mess around with new material, so unless it’s a special occasion or we’re asked, we don’t bother. Occasionally we’ll talk about it but it hasn’t happened in years.

Kings of Leon certainly have their legion of fans as well as an equally devoted army of those who decry them as America’s Nickelback (which is a compliment in some circles, less so in others…) Have you found either positive or negative reactions from fans after hearing you’ve signed to KOL’s label?

I haven’t seen anything negative from it but I understand what you’re getting at. There’s very little in between with music fans these days……kind of like politics. The indie world is as fickle as the pop world.

There’s a whole unspoken list of things that bands aren’t allowed to do if they want to be perceived as being cool. I think the Kings had a hard time with that crowd because they didn’t listen to the bands those people think you’re supposed to listen to and look how they think you’re supposed to look. Also if your music appeals to a certain type of person, the elitists will stay away rather than risk association(even if they like it). Whatcha gonna do? There’s plenty of bands heralded by that crowd that are good but a lot more that are total horse-shit. It’s always been that way. Black Sabbath got crummy reviews yet there were bands that based an entire career off of individual songs from them so now they’re respected. Sorry for giving you an essay…

How did your involvement with PBS’s great documentary mini-series Circus come about?

A fan of the band was involved with the project and wanted us to be a part of it. It’s always a nice surprise when stuff like that happens.

If you lived in a parallel universe where all bands in 2011 had to become tribute bands, which band would you choose as your new identity for the year?

If I had to pick a newer band, The Walkmen. If I had to pick an older band, Roxy Music.

Are there any bands from Seattle that make your van’s playlist?

We’ve talked about covering “Rusty Cage”. Just talk….We all like Jimi Hendrix. I always hear that Nirvana’s from Aberdeen, but they’d be on there. Most Seattle bands are too tough for us. Any individual member of any band from Seattle could beat up our entire band.

Anything in particular that you’re looking to do with your time in Seattle?

My wife is coming up to visit me so I get to have a break from what’s sure to be a smelly van for a bit. My memories of Seattle are a little fuzzy. I remember a lot of sake, a lot of hills, hot dogs with cream cheese, and helping a guy push his car out of the road.

9/16 Kevin Devine / The Features / Dane Ueland @ El Corazon / $12 advance, $15 doors / 9:00 pm / All Ages

March 7, 2011

An Interview with The Dears, Tonight’s Croc Headliner

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When The Dears were in town in 2009, we had the distinct, yet somewhat bizarre, experience of being serenaded by frontman Murray Lightburn from a distance of 12 inches away. The then group of seven kicked of their set with a mobile Lightburn venturing into the darkened crowd with a candle in one hand,  mic in the other.

Jump two years to the present and Lightburn will be returning to Seattle having soldiered through the dark days of 2008, notably having shed all five at-that-time new members of the band. (Founding members Lightburn and wife Natalia Yanchak are now joined by four others, mostly familiar faces who have played with the band previously.)

To get to this point, the band’s faced quite a few trials and tribulations but by the sound of their latest Degeneration Street, Lightburn and Co. seem to be back on solid ground. (Stream the full album below.)

In advance of their headlining gig at Neumos with Eulogies, we were able to catch up with the band who collectively answered our questions en route to their first show of the tour in Victoria.

We’ve been reading you’ve been saying this album is the most collaborative to date. How did that move to a more democratic process come about and how did it end up working in the studio?

There were a great many fights — actual fist-fights that sometimes resulted in hospitalizations. That’s how passionate we are. The democratic process within art-making is overrated.  That said, when you feel that you can truly trust someone, that’s all that really matters. The studio was a blur; everyone knew what they had to do and went about doing it. Anyone in the band who was on the otherside of the glass would say something when they felt strongly about something. And then someone else would say that they were thinking the same thing.

We’ve been interested in the progress of the documentary you had started in 2008. What’s the status of that project?

For now, “the Gospel According To The Dears” is on “hiatus.”  It was therapeutic.

In terms of your influences, do you all find that you’re influenced by different artists than you were when you first starting out?

We were always more inspired and influenced by circumstances that were close to us rather other artists. If there has been any change, it’s the fact that we influence each other.

Anything planned for any free time you’ll have while in Seattle?

Looking at our schedule, we have no free time. Looking forward to our session on KEXP…#shout out

3/7 @ The Crocodile :: The Dears :: Eulogies :: The Tender Box :: 8 PM :: $12

March 3, 2011

An Interview with The Lighthouse and The Whaler, Tonight’s Rendezvous Headliner

Last summer, we were lucky enough to be in attendance for The Lighthouse and The Whaler’s sole Seattle-area performance. While the setting’s loud machinery and crowd’s attentiveness left much to be desired, the band played like they were headlining the Showbox (the good one) and didn’t let the fact that most in the room weren’t there for an audio fix get them down.

The band nailed their pitch-perfect harmonies and generated favorable comparisons to Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and Ivan & Alyosha from those in attendance who had enough courtesy to take the earbuds out of their ears for some if not all of their 35 minute set.

The young group from Cleveland played Neptune Coffee with all of their hearts and was so overwhelmingly upbeat about the whole experience that we knew bigger things would be just around the corner.

Just over six months after that performance, we were eager to catch up with the band and learn about what they’ve been up to since we last spoke after their set in Greenwood.

Read our exchange with the band below, watch their video, listen to the embedded album and head over to Rendezvous tonight if you like what you hear.

3/3 at Rendezvous: The Lighthouse and The Whaler :: Brooke Parrot :: 10 PM :: $5

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You all have had quite a year since we first saw you at Neptune Coffee last year. What would you cite as the top three highlights?

Matt LoPresti (Percussion): I’d say first MTV featured us as a band to watch on their show, The Seven. Second is definitely being KEXP’s song of the day in January. And, finally playing a packed show at the House of Blues with The Temper Trap it was really exciting.

What’s changed about your sound since adding Steve to the lineup?

Matt: We have created and perfected a much bigger sound we are really excited for our fans to hear. Something we couldn’t have done with four. Steve has been great and we think we will keep him around.

What’s your “elevator pitch” to entice new fans?

Michael LoPresti (Lead Singer/Guitar/Keyboard/Mandolin): We strive to make colorful indie pop about life, love, and the pursuit of our faith. We like our music layered with a wide array of instruments including guitar, strings, and synth with a strong beat. Also, we are really proud of our live show. So come check us out we would love to meet you.

Are there certain artists that explore faith through understated means that resonate particularly to your approach to songwriting?

Michael: David Bazan, Mumford and Sons, mewithoutyou, and Brand New are bands that come to mind and influenced us all individually.

What’s your most recent favorite album that you’ve purchased in the past six months? What stands out?

Matt: For me, I would have to say Mumford and Sons. The conviction in his voice stands out to me.

Michael:  Jonsi’s new album really surprised me. I really enjoyed the layering and melodies.

Mark Porostosky (Vocals/Guitar/Manolin/Violin):  Sufjan Stevens Age of Adz. Despite some critical reviews, I think it’s innovative and each layer of each song has more meaning the more you listen.

Aaron Smith (Vocals/Piano/Violin/Guitar):  The resistance by Muse, because it’s a really cohesive album that beautifully displays Matt Bellamy’s musical abilities….he’s a genius.

Steve Diaz (Vocals/Guitar/Percussion): Laura Marling’s album is quirky and has strong melodies that really caught my ear.

How has touring influenced your songwriting process over the past year?

Michael: We have been able to road test some new songs and watch them recorded. So it has been very good for our songwriting, and being able to get direct fan feedback has been a good thing.

Anything that you’re looking to do with your time in Seattle this round?

Aaron: We are excited to be a doing a live in-studio with KEXP on March 4th which airs March 10th at 8am. Outside of that, Seattle is a rare place where we have a day off and we are looking forward to checking out the sites.

What’s next for the band in 2011?

Michael: We are planning on releasing a new album later this year. We have been working pretty hard on developing it and are ready to record.

February 14, 2011

An Interview with Mansions, Seattle’s Best New Musical Transplant

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A little over a week ago, one of our favorite new artists rented a Seattle apartment to try his hand at PacNW living. We recently spent some time with Christopher Browder to learn more about his band, Mansions, their current tour and his hopes for his new hometown.

Though we previewed Mansions’ show at the Sunset last week by calling the morose yet beautiful set one you wouldn’t want to miss, as the band’s now Seattle-based, you should get plenty more chances to see Mansions in the coming year.

Read on to get to know your newest neighbors, listen to their album below and keep your eyes peeled for your next chance to band around town.

How would you describe your music to those who have not yet heard Mansions?

I would call it indie pop-rock that’s kinda unpolished and emotional and nostalgic.

From what sources in your life do you get the most lyrical inspiration?

I don’t really write songs about girls, but write a lot about other types of relationships like friendships etc, and the trouble those can bring.  On this new record, there is a lot about that general lack of direction and meaning that is probably pretty common to people in their mid-20s.

Is there a particular process by which you typically write songs?

Almost all of our songs start with me writing a melody, basic chord progression, and rough lyrics on acoustic guitar.  Sometimes I will start with electric guitar or bass, but almost always it starts acoustic and gets fleshed out from there.  Then I usually demo stuff over and over trying to find the right direction for the arrangement before committing to a certain way of doing it.

What artists have been the most prominent in your musical development?

Ryan Adams has played a big part in my musical development, as well as other singer-songwriters like David Bazan (and all his projects) and Conor Oberst.  I like a lot of real “bands” too, but I think I’ve always felt more of a connection to the artists who are kinda doing it on their own, since that’s how it’s been for me.

How did your tour with Jarrod Gorbel come about and how is going so far?

I did a couple tours with Jarrod and his old band a few years ago, so we’ve known eachother a while and get along well.  Plus we’ve been on two different labels together, and he was kind of enough to ask us to come out on tour.  It’s great because we’re sharing a van and hotels and everything, so it has been really easy and fun.

If you lived in an alternate reality where you forced to play the catalogue of another musician/band for an entire year, which musicians/band’s works would you play?

I could play Weezer’s first two records for the rest of my life with no problem.  Such good songs and so much fun to play.

Are there any Seattle bands that currently make your van’s playlist?

I love a ton of Seattle bands.  David Bazan, Telekinesis, Death Cab, Fleet Foxes, Minus the Bear, Nirvana (duh).

Anything you’re hoping to do with your time in Seattle?

We actually just moved to Seattle a week before this tour, so I would like to get settled into our apartment, find a part-time job and drink tons of coffee.  And also play enough in town to actually get to be a part of the music scene here and call it our home.  I would love that.

January 20, 2011

Interview: The Handsome Family at the Tractor Tonight

If we were to a make a list of “lesser known” musicians we feel all music fans should hear, we’d have enough sheets to re-wallpaper The Sunset. In the upper echelon of said list would be our favorite purveyors of morbidly clever Americana known as The Handsome Family. Hyperbole aside, we highly recommend the band and recommend checking them out when they’re in town, which luckily for you (and us!) is tonight.

The husband and wife duo of 21 years will be headlining the Tractor Tavern with support from Sean Rowe. We were lucky enough to interview the lyrical mastermind Rennie Sparks in advance of show.

Of their working relationship, Rennie tells us “it’s always the same… I write the lyrics then Brett writes music then we argue a lot” but goes on to sweetly sum up in the end “it’s nice to sing harmonies with someone that you love.”

Continue on to read our exchange, become more familiar with their work and head to the Ballard watering hole tonight for the live experience.

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If our readers are anything like us, many of them first heard your band through your relationship with Jeff Tweedy and/or Jason Lytle. Through what circumstances did you first meet Jeff and presumably later Jason?

Jeff has been a great friend to us for many years, always trying to help us in so many ways. We played at his wife’s amazing bar, Lounge Ax, many times before it closed. Jeff loaned us the equipment to make our third record and came over to do a lot of harmonies and guitar parts. He’s just a big-hearted, generous person. Jason was just this amazing surprise. One day we got a Grandaddy CD in the mail with a little note saying he liked our music. Lo and behold, what a great band!

As a band noted for your storytelling chops in songs that often focus on historical figures, are there people making headlines today that you’ve considered or would consider immortalizing in song?

Right now I’m trying to write about Stephen Foster, so I guess I tend to look backwards a lot.  Our song “Snow White Diner” is pretty much a retelling of a true story I read about while eating hash browns in a diner.

What should people expect when they come to see you at the Tractor?

To get to know us better and hopefully see the humor and beauty of our songs. Also, to see just how much my husband is starting to look like Colonel Sanders.

Do any memories of Seattle come to mind as you think back on past tours through the area?

My mom once asked me to pick her up some dried flowers at Pike Place. I carefully transported them from Seattle to Chicago by van, then Chicago to New York by plane, and then she frowned and said I’d bought the wrong ones.

Are there any Seattle area bands that make it to your van playlist as you tour the country?

Jesse Sykes

Anything planned for any free time you’ll have while in Seattle?

Trying to not be frightened by all the sentient pine trees.

1/20 at The Tractor Tavern :: The Handsome Family :: Sean Rowe :: 8 PM :: $15

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