I love Bambi Edlund’s philosophy – the one that keeps pushing her site “Le Pen Quotidien” along every day. It’s a helpful strategy that’s inspiration to just about any creative person, a line of thought to support true passion in a world that often requires a not-so-creative 9-5 workday five times a week. Edlund puts her idea to words, “After a lifetime of knowing how to draw but not knowing how to WANT to draw, I think I’ve finally figured it out. But still, my tendency to finish only that with a finite deadline means that I fall short on follow-through… I figure it’s time to face up to the fact that I only consistently do that which I am held accountable for, and plan accordingly. And so, we have this website. Daily drawingsÑof anything, in any style, any mediumÑas long as they are done daily and posted.”
Edlund, a graphic designer and illustrator in Vancouver, B.C. has been drawing as long as she can remember, her notebooks in first and second grade covered with things like “chickens playing the banjo” drawn in the margins. “Le Pen Quotidien” contains more critters like this along with other interpretations of buildings, vehicles, people, even heavy working equipment. Inspiration for the name? A chain of bakery/cafes called “Le Pain Quotidien” (translated as “The Daily Bread”). Since the idea struck down on site at one of these corner spots, “changing the pain to pen seemed a fitting title for a daily drawing venture.”
If you’re wondering about Bambi’s ability to keep a new drawing up each day of the year, forget about it. It’s finally turned into her top priority, something she wouldn’t consider thinking about missing. And she doesn’t stockpile these pieces – she knows the value of posting her work the same day it’s produced. In the future, Edlund hopes to translate her work into children’s books. Looking at what she’s accomplished thus far, I’m confident this dream will become reality as well. Read into the XXQ’s to learn more.
XXQs: Bambi Edlund
PensEyeView.com (PEV): How and when did your passion for art first develop?
Bambi Edlund (BE): My father is an artist, and so I just always drew when I was a kid. My parents kept one of my notebooks from first or second grade and it had things like chickens playing the banjo drawn in the margins. It was just something that was always there.
PEV: Was there a certain moment or time in your life when you realized that you were going to be an artist or do art professionally?
BE: Well, in school I was always the artist, right through high school. After graduation I applied to art school and didn’t get in, which I can understand now because I just didn’t have the passion for it then-I was technically good, but I didn’t care enough. Not long after high school I abandoned it, pretty much completely, for a lot of years. Over the last ten years, in addition to working full time as a graphic designer, I have done art in spurts-but throughout I did always know that at some point I would do it professionally, I always had faith that the passion would come. Then one day, about two years ago, it just showed up, quite unceremoniously. A strange but welcome surprise. Now it’s the only thing I consistently feel like doing.
PEV: Now living in Vancouver, B.C., what kind of art were you interested in growing up? Were you surrounded in an artistic environment?
BE: My dad painted a lot when I was a kid, plus worked as a commercial artist and signpainter, and most of our family friends were potters or weavers or photographers, so I was never very far from art. My first love was children’s book illustrations, of the whimsical animal variety, and that remains my favourite art form to this day. Richard Scarry, Quentin Blake, and Mercer Mayer were my earliest influences.
PEV: What drove you to illustration and painting versus any other genre?
BE: Twelve years ago I studied for a semester in Europe, moving around with a group, studying art history. I remember one moment in a gallery in Paris, it was an absolute turning point for me, as I was always kind of haunted by the idea that I should be making art, and for me that meant painting. I was standing in a wing of a gallery after seeing hundreds or perhaps thousands of paintings in the past couple of months, and it hit me that I don’t really care about paintings. At least not serious fine art paintings. It was such a freeing moment, because it allowed me to banish that idea once and for all. Over the next few years I realized that if what I really cared about was children’s illustration, that’s what I should be doing. So I have worked at it bit by bit, and now I’m finally at the point where I’m creating art I care about in the form of illustration. I like that it’s free from the seriousness of fine art, which is simply not my thing. I don’t take anything very seriously, when it comes right down to it.
PEV: Tell us about your site, “Le Pen Quotidien”. And for those not familiar with the language, what does it mean?
BE: In some parts of Europe and New York City there is a chain of bakery/cafes called “Le Pain Quotidien”, which means “The daily bread”. I was in one of these cafes in New York last fall when I came up with the idea of doing the blog, and so changing the pain to pen seemed a fitting title for a daily drawing venture. I keep it in lower case wherever possible, however, as there is a right-wing politician in France named Le Pen. I get the odd visitor to the site that has come in after googling him-I suspect once they hit my blog it’s pretty clear we’re not affiliated.
PEV: What made you decide to do a new drawing every day? How hard has it been to manage that task?
BE: This past October while on vacation I read Julie & Julia, about a woman who decides to make every one of Julia Child’s recipes in her French cookbook in a year. She admits in the book that she never would have done it if she hadn’t said she was going to. That really struck a chord with me-I knew it was time for me to start drawing regularly, but I also realized that, sadly, the only things I consistently accomplished were those that had to get done, either for work or for other people. So, I figured if I told a bunch of people I was going to do this, I would be held accountable and would come through. And I have. It has been a lot of work, but mentally it has become my number one priority, and I am so excited by it that I haven’t ever considered missing a day. It’s funny, people often ask if I ever stockpile and do a few so I can take a day off, but I am committed to doing the drawing in the same day that it’s posted. I think because I’m doing it for myself, as an exercise to help me get better, I don’t even consider cheating. It has been a great test run in terms of assessing whether or not I could succeed at drawing for a living, and I think the fact that I have been able to churn something out every day for 151 days now-through illness, the death of a friend, Christmas chaos-proves to me that I could happily do this daily.
PEV: Needing to draw something new everyday, do you ever get hit a “creative road block”? What do you do when this happens?
BE: The toughest part by far has been coming up with ideas of what to draw. I have been very careful to make sure I only draw something I really feel like doing each day, so it often takes a lot of time to come up with an idea that seems worthy. I vary the styles and content a lot to keep myself interested (I’m extremely fickle), but when I can’t come up with anything I usually hit the web and start looking at either sites with great links just to get my mind moving, or I browse Flickr. I always end up with an idea by the end of the day.
PEV: What kind of music are you currently listening to?
BE: I listen to a lot of different music. I always have The Long Winters, Harvey Danger, Nada Surf and The Shins in rotation. Lately I have been listening to Tom Petty’s Highway Companion, Lyle Lovett’s It’s Not Big It’s Large, and Feist’s The Reminder.
PEV: Is there an up and coming artist right now that you think we should all be looking into?
BE: In terms of illustrators, I think Tommy Kane and Mattias Adolfsson are brilliant.
PEV: If you could sit down to dinner with one artist, alive or passed, who would it be and why?
BE: Jim Henson, no question. The Muppet Show came on the air when I was six, and it changed my life. The fact that someone else thought that animals in place of people with no questions asked was a good idea really spoke to me. I remember writing a report on his creation of the original kermit (from a green bathrobe and ping pong balls) in grade four or five. I think Jim Henson was an absolute genius, and it broke my heart when he died.
PEV: Out of all your illustrations, is there a certain one that stands out among the rest?
BE: There are so many now, and really, I have been happy with most of them, which has been the most shocking part of all. It’s like a magic switch was thrown when I decided to do the project, and suddenly each illustration I started I was able to finish, and not screw up. I think having to stop and get the thing posted saves me from taking things too far and wrecking them. If I had to choose one it would change daily, but I think the bike of bees would always be high on the list. And the bat and rat spooning in the attic is dear to my heart as well.
PEV: I noticed that in a lot of your illustrations a certain person is clearly shown. Has anyone in your illustrations ever commented on your interpretation of them?
BE: The only people I have drawn are friends, so I suspect it’s odd for them to check in and see themselves. One fellow that I did early on (my first portrait, actually) admitted that the photo I had used was his most hated photo of all time, so I ended up doing another illustration. The new one he liked enough to use for the header of his own blog, so that’s kind of fun. But mostly I prefer to draw animals, and for the most part they’re fairly easy to please. The rats are pretty critical.
PEV: You mention a lot the term “Leap”. Tell us about your fascination with “leaping” and the meaning behind that.
BE: Leap was a recent theme for Illustration Friday, which is a website that posts a word each week, and invites artists to illustrate that word. It’s great for me because it gives me a jumping off point for generating ideas. Most people do one illustration, but sometimes I find it’s fun to do a few completely different interpretations of the word through the week. Leap was a funny one though, because I realized I had already done “a leap of leopards” as part of my collective noun series, and “ten lords-a-leaping” as part of the 12 days of Christmas. Not sure why “leap” has showed up so much, but surely I have exhausted it by now…
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted your art career?
BE: My friends and family have been incredibly supportive. It has been so helpful knowing that so many of them are checking in daily and enjoying the work I’m doing, it keeps me moving at 2 a.m. when I’m half asleep and blindly putting a sketchbook on the scanner (which is not at all unusual). Everyone is really excited about the response to the project, and that keeps it fun for me.
PEV: Where do you think your work take you ten years from now?
BE: Ultimately I would love to do children’s books, I don’t really see me ending up anyplace else. I went through my twenties and early thirties trying to figure out what I should be doing, and of course now it seems clear that this is where I have been heading since I was really little. I suspect that happens for a lot of people, in hindsight it was always perfectly clear.
PEV: In one word, what best describes Bambi Edlund?
PEV: In your hometown of Vancouver, B.C., where is the best place to see great art and meet great artists?
BE: Well, I am fortunate enough to live in a house owned by a painter whose husband was an architect, and whose children and friends are all artists, so I meet more great artists in my own home than anywhere else.
PEV: When you aren’t working what can we find you doing in your spare time?
BE: “Spare time”. That’s cute.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Bambi Edlund?
BE: I have managed to get this far in this project without drinking coffee. I can’t stand the taste-but I suspect it would prove invaluable. By month six I may be drinking it anyway.
PEV: So, what’s next for you and “Le Pen Quotidien”?
BE: Well, I have vowed to do the daily drawing thing for a year (and as if that weren’t enough, I decided to do it during a leap year-I suspect I’ll burn out completely on the 365th day and curse February 29th forever). I have absolutely no idea what will happen beyond that, but the response so far has been staggering-I expected after six or eight months people might begin to notice, but the internet has an incredible reach. I’m just enjoying this time, the sense of all kinds of possibilities looming.
For more information on Bambi and Le Pen Quotidien, check out www.LePenQuotidien.com
To be clear, it is never the intention of PensEyeView to insult the intelligence of its audience. That’s obvious. However, there is a good chance you’ve already heard… maybe even seen our latest feature. Malbec, the LA-based group setting new standards by “integrating sequenced hip-hop beats with modern pop stylings,” can be heard on all kinds of TV shows and movies, from The Ghost Whisperer to One Tree Hill. Add to that the fact they’ve gone under the name “Pontius” in the past (you’ll find that story below), and you may have no idea if and when you’ve come into contact with Malbec.
Whatever you call them or wherever you hear them, the fact remains these guys have a hold of something special. Winners of the LA Music Pipeline Contest and part of the “Top 100 Best Unsigned Bands” list in Music Connection Magazine, Malbec uses a striking mix of sounds, pulling from “southern rap/hip-hop and brit pop, to classical compositions and folk music.” Their new release, “Dawn of our Age” is the definitive example of such technique. Pablo, Sam, Nick, Sid and Mark “spent a year and a half writing and recording this record making sure that each song was crafted and written the way they saw it.” They continue, “The industry has changed so much and instead of writing something to get signed or whatever, we wanted to write something that meant something to us, something that inspired us.”
It’s always stimulating to hear of a band making music for themselves as opposed to someone else. You can catch Malbec at their big show at The Viper Room in LA on March 28th (that’s today) for the CD release show. If you’re around, head on down. You can learn more now in the XXQ’s.
Pen’sEyeView.com (PEV): How and when did the band first get involved with music and form as Malbec?
Nicholas Ruth (NR): Well, in general all of us have been involved with music in some way our whole lives. Specifically however, Pablo Sam and I (Nick) all met at Indiana University. Pablo and I were studying classical guitar and Sam and Pablo became friends through the Indie music scene. Pablo and I moved out to California after he graduated and I consequently dropped out of the Master’s program. Pablo got hooked up with Sid through a mutual friend and started collaborating on music together. We decided to actually start a band together. Sam came out for vacation, we asked him to play bass and she honestly never left. Mark was a friend of a mutual friend and he was recommended as a great drummer. He was really the first and only person we ever “auditioned.”
PEV: Now calling Los Angeles home, what kind of music where you listening to?
NR: We listen to almost everything. We have a wide variety of genres and artists we like. We like to think the diversity of our musical interests are an inspiration to the uniqueness of our sound. Basically, out taste ranges from U2 to UGK to Black Flag.
PEV: When and where was your first live performance? How have you changed since that first one?
NR: It was an Italian restaurant outside of San Diego. We started off the set with a Jam. Cause we didn’t have enough rehearsed song material. And even funnier, we had no name so the owner introduced us as Pontius (Marks last name) and we changed it half way through the set to Jet Set Copia! HA! Needless to say we have hopefully improved since then.
PEV: Tell us about “Dawn Of Our Age”. What can fans expect from it?
NR: We feel that it is truly a representation of our sound. We spent a year and a half writing and recording this record making sure that each song was crafted and written the way we saw it. We wanted to make something that didn’t have rules. No preconceived notions as to style, arrangement etc. The industry has changed so much and instead of writing something to get signed or whatever, we wanted to write something that meant something us, something that inspired us.
PEV: How is ” Dawn Of Our Age” different from other albums out today?
NR: I guess time will tell. Even though the music world has gotten quite watered down there are still some great records out there currently. With that said I think we believe that this record is still very unique and different. We believe that its main uniqueness in that it is not genre specific. We don’t want to have to conform to a set of rules about what we can and can’t write. Each of us brings something very unique and fresh to the table. Ultimately the possibilities are endless and this record is a step in that direction.
PEV: When you sit down to write an album like ” Dawn Of Our Age”, what kind of environment do your surround yourself in?
NR: Really anywhere. Part of the record was written in Argentina when a few of us were there in Sept of Ô06. A ton of it was written at our studio. Writing really happens everywhere.
PEV: What is your take on the current music scene today?
NR:In general it’s wack. However I truly believe people are always hungry for something new and fresh. Especially when what we are exposed to as a society is such a small percentage of what is out there.
PEV: How has your musical styling changed since your first recording or over the years?
NR: I think in general when we did our first recordings we were heavily influenced by the producers we worked with. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing but in general it was usually pushed in a specific direction. As we have progressed, we have learned to not lean to much on outside influence and trust in ourselves.
PEV: Tell us about the first time you stepped into a recording studio. What was going through your head?
NR: Like the first time we walked into Toys R Us.
PEV: What is “road life” like for the band? What are the best and worst parts?
NR: Road life has been great in general. We have met a ton of great and interesting people. The best thing has no doubt been the nights like Indy and Detroit when the crowds have been great and the energy has been amazing. The low points have been the long drives through the night and the reoccurring cold that is being passed around the Petri dish we call our van!
PEV: In all your travels, which city (International or US) do you think offers the best music scene?
NR: Well, we haven’t been overseas yet, so nationally I think it’s the Midwest.
PEV: Who is currently in your CD player right now?
NR: Gucci Mane.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band that you think we should all be listening?
NR: Spleen United.
PEV: Who would you wish to collaborate with that you have not had a chance to yet?
NR: Mannie Fresh and Quest Love.
PEV: What do your friends and family think about all your success?
NR: I think in general they have been super supportive and think that its amazing that we have been able to pursue something like this.
PEV: What has been the most memorable part of your career so far? Why?
NR: No question it has been finishing this record.
PEV: What is one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Malbec?
NR: None of us are from the same city.
PEV: Where do you think the band will be in 20 years?
NR: I don’t know but we will be close to 50.
PEV: What one word best describes Malbec?
PEV: So, what is next for Malbec?
NR: Tour, tour, tour!
For more information on Malbec, check out www.myspace.com/MalbecTheBand
It’s always good to see another web site helping out your local musician (especially when that site has a significantly different premise than that of PensEyeView.com), and that’s exactly what Boston-based Nimbit.com and founder Patrick Faucher aim to do. Their mission: To put musical artists in complete control of their own music business and brand, enabling them to reach their full potential as quickly as possible. Talk about a helping hand!
Nimbit was created with the understanding that musicians need to be more than just talented in today’s industry – they also need some street smarts to succeed; an entrepreneurial spirit. Nimbit fills the gap between art and business, a healthy mix of in between, “supplying a full range of business management tools that support all aspects of the music business.” The web site allows solo artists and groups alike to sell all of their music and merch direct and track those sales as well as take advantage of services such as web hosting, design and solutions.
Faucher is exactly what you want from a guy leading a company like Nimbit – a musician himself, he even earned a degree from the Berklee College of Music. Nimbit is a “passion and a labor of love” for Faucher, “I’ve had to learn some things that weren’t natural to me as a creative person but, I think creative people and artists have a tremendous capacity to address business problems and technical problems and business strategies.”
If you ever find yourself at the Nimbit offices, you’ll notice quite the mix of sound emanating from the area, whether it is newbie’s like Brooke White or more established artists like Tom Rush. In the future, Nimbit plans on growing more and more – becoming “the hub where labels and artists and other key players can run the business of music.” And of course, the artist will continue to be the primary beneficiary of their music. Read the XXQ’s to learn more.
XXQs: Nimbit.com founder, Patrick Faucher
PensEyeView.com (PEV): Hey Patrick, thanks for talking with us today. Where did I catch you?
Patrick Faucher (PF): Running around my office. My office phone forwards to my cell phone.
PEV: You are located in Boston right? Is that where you first started Nimbit?
PF: Yeah, right outside Boston.
PEV: How did you first come up with this concept?
PF: Back in the late 90’s I was actually working for a small boutique web firm. We did work for bands like Phish, Aerosmith, and others like that. We evolved into being like an online mall concept and went through the whole dot com-boom-bust cycle. I got together with one of my colleagues there and said ‘hey, let’s go back to servicing artists’… Since we are both musicians as well. We wanted to make something that was easy to use, cheap, so that any emerging artist can get online to help promote themselves. That was in late 2001, early 2002.
It took about a year to get the business plan together and get the resources lined up. Then we built the first platform, which was like an online tool kit. We wanted to make it a full blown e-commerce site that could support everyone’s individual needs. That’s when I got together with another gentleman named, Phill Antoniades, who is now my partner. He was running a company, as it turns out, just down the road from me called Artists Development Associates. They had been in business for about ten years, doing everything from CD manufacturing, to radio promotion, online CD sales… like a CD Baby. There’s was called CD Freedom. I said, ‘Can I adapt that onto my platform so artists can put their stuff up for sale, get fulfilled and we’ll process the transactions?’ He said ‘sure’ and then we started to talk about other things that artists need to do and realized very quickly that we need to put this under one system, where there was a centralized artist management and sales and marketing system people can have.
That was four years ago, that we put the companies together. Now, we work to make the company more powerful and flexible and so that artists and labels and managers can do direct marketing and sales.
PEV: For people that don’t know, what is it like for an artist to get their information out there?
PF: Well, it’s kind of a double edge sword. It’s really not that hard to find places to put your music up and have people listen to it. There are tons of music portals and places where bands go to hear music; MySpace and dozens of others. Not to mention retail sites where you can charge… so that’s not that hard. What is hard is really centralizing all the business management that goes around it. If you want to sell more than just MP3s and a CD – that situation gets a lot more complicated. Especially if you are the one that is doing the fulfillment. Even using PayPal, you still have to do the shipping and processing. That is where someone like Nimbit comes in. We’ll handle everything from an MP3, to a CD, to a DVD, to a t-shirt, to a ticket. In the near future, ring tones. Anything around an artist’s content we can get it online and fulfill those orders… No artist can do that on their own.
PEV: I want to touch on your musical background as well- The Berklee College of Music. What kind of music where you listening to growing up?
PF: Well, I grew up in the 80’s, so there was a lot of classic rock, early techno. I was a bit of Prog rock geek, like Rush, Yes, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin. But I really had a love for jazz, which led me to Berklee. My first experience of listening to music was heading down to the library and I was listening to Louis Armstrong albums, big band, Buddy Rich. I was a trumpet player so I grew up in bands and did my time in marching band. When I graduated high school, I got a degree in engineering. A soon as I finished that, I soon realized that is not what I wanted to do (laughs). So, I went back to music, gigging, a small tour and went back to school for music. That’s when I applied to Berklee and moved to Boston.
PEV: When you were at Boston, where was the best place to catch music?
PF: There was Wallys, which is just down the road. You would never know who was going to be there. You could walk in there and see Branford Marsalis play. Or some major blues cat like Buddy Guy. A couple of others that are still around. Harvard Square as well.
PEV: There was recently an article in Inc Magazine about all your success. Are you surprised about how fast the company has taken off?
PF: No, I’m not surprised at all. I’m glad for the recent exposure. I’ve been at this for six years (laughs). I feel it has been a slow and steady race for me. We are finally at the point where we are branding Nimbit and more predominant artists that are using our system and indorse what we do. They industry is really catching up and catching on to what we do… And that is a great feeling. I’m not surprised at all. If anything I’m not surprised it caught on sooner (laughs).
PEV: I found one thing interesting- that you balance the artistic side and the corporate side… Do you find it hard to balance both sides of the brain so to speak?
PF: You know, I never really think of it that way. It is a passion of mine and a labor of love. I’ve had to learn some things that weren’t natural to me as a creative person but, I think creative people and artists have a tremendous capacity to address business problems and technical problems and business strategies. As well, we can be very analytical. Plus, for me, I went to engineering school and then to music school, so it’s been a perfect role for me. In terms of learning the corporate gig – yeah, there is a bit of a learning curve. I have a corporate board and I have to speak the business speak and know what’s up with my business. I had to learn financials and spread sheets. But that is secondary and only serves to carry out the vision.
PEV: Since you do deal with so many artists, is there a certain artist we should be listening to?
PF: There are so many!
PEV: It’s always a hard question. I just like to hear what people are into.
PF: Well, it does depend what you are into. But to pick a couple, I really don’t look at my role as being a “taste maker” or working for one type of artist. At Nimbit we help whoever has the motivation to make music that turns people on. Trust me there is a niche for every kind of music out there. And there is a lot of it I hear that I don’t like. There are hundreds of bands that sign up and I try to listen to all of them. Our staffers here have their favorites too. We have artists like Brooke White, who is on American Idol right now, I think she is great. We have legacy artists like Tom Rush, who is a legend in the folk scene. We have some unknowns, like The Mile After, probably one of the best young power pop bands I ever heard, and I can’t wait to help them get to the next stage.
PEV: How does the music taste range in the office. Across the spectrum?
PF: Oh it goes over the full spectrum. I think there is a general liking for folk, Americana, and indie and pop-rock, jazz and blues, across the board here. But there is a lot of classical and jazz I’m into. There are people that are strictly metal-heads… You name it. There are many people that have a very strong palette… because they are musicians. Any musician worth their sole wouldn’t ever listen to one type of music. It’s like eating a hamburger everyday; you wouldn’t do it.
PEV: Who is on your iPod right now?
PF: Allison Krauss/Robert Plant. Latest Chili Peppers. I’ve been listening to classics like Miles Davis. Some old Disco classics. I like to listen to compilations too, so I’ve always got one or two of them floating around as well.
PEV: You describe yourself as a “geeky band guy” but I think you are doing pretty well for a “geeky band guy”. How have all your friends and family reacted to all your success?
PF: They’re very happy and supportive. Even from the beginning, when I was mortgaging my life to do this. Even now, I am not rolling in the dough, but everyone is very pleased to see that the business has come to point that it is making a difference and following our vision. There is also a bit of satisfaction, kind of like “revenge of the nerds”. I mean, in high school, I wasn’t a jock or anything. I was in the brain crowd and band guys. But in the end, I think the smart guys get the girls (laughs).
PEV: What’s a normal day like for you at the office?
PF: (laughs) It doesn’t exist… It’s a new challenge everyday. There is no two days alike, which is what I like. I mean, the day revolves around, how are we building the product, what is going on with my employees. I spend a lot of time making sure my team is happy and they have all the resources they need. Then whatever else is going on; Launching a new product, a new marketing campaign, something happened with the servers last nigh… You name it. Different everyday.
PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time?
PF: HA! Well, I try to sleep. I have three children, and that takes up a bulk of my time. I spend time at home with my wife and three kids. I like to go skiing. I used to gig but don’t have time to do that anymore. Now I have a little garage band project I put together with my three sons.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?
PF: Something that would surprise people to know about me? Geez… I don’t know, I think some people would be surprised to hear about how much of a party animal I’ve been in the past perhaps. I guess that’s the most surprising.
PEV: Where do you see Nimbit in ten years?
PF: I see Nimbit being the biggest, if not one of the biggest platforms for music marketing in the entire music industry. Kind of being the “Switzerland” that allows everyone to cooperate and create commerce in the new music industry. The hub where labels and artists and other key players can run the business of music.
PEV: So, what’s next for Nimbit?
PF: Right now, just keep rolling down the road with our leadership position of being the best direct sales platform. We just launched a new product called Nimbit Skin. We’re just going to build great sales and marketing tools for our clients and make it easier for people that create music to collaborate and prosper.
PEV: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today Patrick.
PF: My pleasure.
For more information on Nimbit.com, check out www.Nimbit.com
Needless to say, the crew at PensEyeView.com were a touch nervous before their backstage interview with the legendary Wailers at Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore, MD – the groups background after all includes work with the one and only Bob Marley, over 250 million albums sold with the iconic superstar, collaborations with insane acts such as Sting, the Fugees, Stevie Wonder and Carlos Santana as well as the reputation as the “greatest living exponents of Jamaica’s reggae tradition.” Clearly, this was not going to be any ordinary interview.
Today’s Wailers includes Elan Atias on lead vocals, Al Anderson on Lead Guitar and the only remaining original member, Aston “Family Man” Barrett on Bass. Elan sat down with us for an extended period of time, to talk about the music of a group that originally formed in 1969 when Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh recruited the Barrett brothers – bassist Aston and drummer Carlie – a line-up that pioneered roots rock reggae.
Elan and Aston truly fuel the sound of the current Wailers, “Family Man represents tried and trusted roots authenticity,” while Elan “injects fresh excitement into a show that continues to attract enthusiastic audiences from around the world.” As a matter of fact, Elan, who was first discovered by Al Anderson in 1997, has successfully taken on the daunting task of working his own songs into the current Wailers set list, as well as working with Barret to produce a whole new Wailer’s album that will include some of the biggest names in the music industry today (Trust me, we asked for some hints, but the lid remains tightly sealed on the project).
The entire show and chance to meet the group was an experience we here at PEV won’t soon forget. The band continues to tirelessly tour for their millions of fans around the world, so a show is never too far off. Be sure to attend one soon and prepare for some remarkable music when the new record hits the airwaves. Learn a whole lot more in the XXQ’s.
Pen’sEyeView.com (PEV): First off it’s an honor to get to see you guys here in Baltimore. How do you like the city? Have you been here before?
Elan Atias (EA): Yeah, it’s great. We’ve played here a couple times. A lot of outdoor festivals, right in the street. Not too long ago, just last year.
PEV: Is there another city that you guys really love playing? Something that really stands out.
EA: A lot of cities in South America… Brazil! Europe, too. Same way. Crowds, I mean, I’m not saying that the crowds don’t go crazy here, it’s just a different type of way of enjoying our show. They just go nuts.
PEV: Is it a little more reserved here?
EA: Yeah, more reserved here. Some people just like, enjoy the music , some people like to stand and watch and some people just like to get into it . Over there everybody’s into it. Everybody’s like just like going crazy, jumping and singing every word.
PEV: So life on the road, you guys are in the middle of a tour right now?
PEV: What’s the best parts and the worst parts?
EA: The best is the music and we get to do what we love!The worst part is the lack of rest. That would be the only thing. Sometimes its really easy: there is a show and then a day off then another show. But when it’s consecutive, like 5, 6 shows in a row, it can get rough. You know it’s alright, though. We used to do worse, like 1-2 years ago, when I first started. It’d be a show every night.
PEV: The Wailers have played with big names, just equally as big names, Sting, Bee Gees, Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, Dave Matthews, George Crane and Parliament…is there any artist out there that you would like to work with that you haven’t yet?
EA: Well, the one thing is that we would love to announce is that we’re working on a new album, that’s basically on the same concept as the Carlos Santana “Supernatural” album. All the original Wailers, even Aston’s brother, Carlie, who died in the early 70s. We have old, unreleased, 2 inch tracks that we transferred to wave files, you know, digitized. So we made all these new tracks. All new songs. All new tracks. And we brought in all these great contemporary artists from all different genres to record new songs, who have been inspired by the band and they’re going to add their own element and writing their own songs and their own instruments but it’s not going to take away the integrity of the foundation that’s the sound of the Wailers. So, yeah. It’s very exciting right now that we’ve got a bunch of artists. I can’t name any names, because none of them are confirmed, but, we’ve already got like 4 artists done. There’s going to be 12 songs. Each side’s like 22 artists from everywhere. From all different genres. Pop, hip-hop, rock. No reggae. We’re the reggae artists, so, it’s all those type of artists. They do the same thing as the Supernatural album. The Santana album.
PEV: This is the first one in 15 years? The first new album?
EA: Yeah, first one in a long time. Especially that the whole band, even Carlie, even Aston’s brother, with the drums. ‘Cause it sounds like it’s from the 70s. It’s great. We recorded live. We just digitized it from 2 inch tape. They’re all unreleased, so yeah, pretty sick.
PEV: What was it like for you when you first started with the Wailers? How did that feel?
EA: It was amazing, man. It was indescribable. I couldn’t put words to it. I got to do what I love. I’m playing with a band that I grew up loving and the music that inspired me. You know, I never sang with a band before. It was the first band I’ve ever sung with. We didn’t have a sound check or rehearsal the first 8 shows, and I was 19 or 20 years old, so going in to this the way it was. That was back in the end of ’96, middle of ’99 I was with the band. Almost like when someone goes to college for 4 years. That’s when my college years were. I didn’t go, so I had the best professors and my university was the world and we toured 3-1/2 years all around the world, 3 times over. Everywhere. I learned a lot and I had the best professors teaching me the way. Telling all the stories on what not to do and what to do. Carlos Santana, Dave Crosby, all these guys I met along the way. Just giving me their tutelage and mentoring me to do the right things. I’m pretty blessed, I give thanks every day. I’m very fortunate.
PEV: You grew up listening to the Wailers and Bob Marley. Are you still surprised to see the impact that the Wailers have on their audience?
EA: No, I can understand it. Especially new generations all the time. I just got back with the band in last June. I was not with the band, on and off, since the middle of ’99. So I basically had 7-1/2 years off, and don’t get me wrong, there’s 18-50 year olds in all the shows, but there’s kids, the majority of the kids are college kids, and you see them and the music just goes on forever. The message goes on forever because of the way the lyrics are deep and easy to understand. Even when people are all around the world and in different countries who don’t understand or don‘t speak English. They feel the vibes. They understand. They get it because it comes across and everybody grabs what they need. Each person helped me find myself. And I just think that that’s why it’s gone forever. That’s why it’s not surprising to me because this music is for life. It’s the heartbeat, like Fam [Aston “Family Man” Barrett] says all the time. It’s heartbeat of the people.
PEV: What is one word you would use to describe the Wailers?
EA: It’s timeless, definitely it’s timeless. And, you see, people ask me all the time, “What’s your favorite Marley songs?” That is the number one question. “What’s your favorite Wailer song?” And I say “I don’t have a favorite.” Every week there’s a different favorite. I’ll have 2 different favorites at one time! I go through the whole catalog. All the songs are my favorite. Because it’s what I’m going through at that moment in my life, how it effects me, in my mind, how I relate that way. And it’s the same with people, and it’s even that way with the new kids who champion it and discover it and come to the shows, and then you have all the older fans, and it goes up in age, all the way to 50s, 60s. Same age as the band.
PEV: You play a lot of the hits, but what does it feel like when you get to do some of your own material?
EA: It’s great, even 10 years we put in my own material and it’s really satisfying because people just come up to us at the end of the show, “When are you guys coming out with a new album? When are you guys coming out with new material?” And I say “You didn’t hear those 3 new songs tonight.” “No, we thought those were unreleased Wailers songs or some Bob Marley song we didn’t know.” I’m like ”Thank you so much” because that’s a huge compliment. I would say that’s exactly what I set out to do when I first did that music and the same with the music of Al Anderson [who just walked into the room]. It’s pretty cool. Al’s the one that got me into the band
Al Anderson (AA): Yeah, I sure did.
EA: I met him at a club, through a friend of mine, and he came and played on my demo album that we worked on and Junior had left the band and Al was like, “You ready?” I was like,”Uhhhh. I don’t know.” But I just said “Yeah” and I just went on, kept on going.
PEV: That’s how some of the best things start. Just like that.
EA: I think everything’s foreseen. Things happen for a reason.
PEV: Is there any up and coming band or artist that you guys would like to call attention to?
EA: Yeah, Trevor Hall’s been opening for us this part of this tour. He’s a great guy. Great guy.
AA: Yea, he’s a cool cat. You know, so many people get into the music business for other reasons, but he seems to be in it for the music. He’s been a cool cat. I’ve been meaning to get up on stage and play with him… I think I’m gonna do that tomorrow in Norfolk.
EA: Yeah. Him and Chris [Steele, Trevor Hall’s percussionist]. That last night they jammed with us was at The Pony in New Jersey. No, it was 2 nights ago. PEV: Any others?
EA: I love the B Side Players. I love Black Cowboy. I’m not in love with Mickey Avalon’s music, but he is a friend of mine I grew up with, so I have to promote him [laughs], and Dirt Nasty and all those cats. The Dyslexic Speed Readers. I grew up those guys. Like, we went to school in 6th grade, 7th grade, in LA. Who else do I love? I love Cheb Khaled. He’s older, but he’s a singer from Algeria. He’s like the Elvis of the rest of the world. Of the Arab world. This guy, I did a tour with him and I did a song with him and Santana. Well, me and Santana did this song and then he did a maverick version of it and we did a tour and I’ve never seen….. it was like the Beatles. Old grown men, crying and trying to jump onstage and like mess with the security so they can get pictures and kiss him. Grown men. Women calling, “S’il vous plait.” It’s unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it before. And the guy has just the most amazing voice. He’s got this song called Aisha in French. Unbelievable. Unbelievable singer. There’s so many. So many. I love a lot of new artists. A lot of great artists in the world. Those are just a few I can think of.
PEV: How do you stay so active on stage? You’re jumping and moving the entire show!
EA: O man, you see that’s my workout. That’s how I stay slim, you know. I just get into it – it’s a pretty good workout.
PEV: So, what is next for The Wailers?
EA: Just tour and promote the new album!
For more information on The Wailers, check out www.Wailers.com
The Moog: Tonyo (vocals, keyboard), Gergo (drums), Adi (guitar), Csabi (bass) and Miguel (guitar), have been setting standards left and right in their young rock careers. Hailing from Budapest, these guys are the first Hungarian band to be signed to an American label – especially noteworthy when so little opportunity is available on their hometown music scene. But somehow, the stars aligned, and the shared love for “garage-pop music and good hair” brought these guys together and landed them in the states. And thank goodness for it!
Their sound is revitalizing and dust-free, a mix of influences familiar to them and stranger to us. While their work is more stimulating because of the break from traditional rock-pop music, it doesn’t mean the American scene isn’t making an impression on these guys. They expected things to be different from home – for example, it was a bit of a surprise to see fans beyond the age of 30 appearing at their gigs, “At home, you stop going to shows when you are 30… but there were some old Texas cowboys banging their heads to our music.”
The first release, “Sold for Tomorrow,” is heavier and darker than some of their older works… not to mention “it has balls now.” The music is built out of that rhythm and melody we want to hear for those random (private) dance parties when you feel too damn good to stand still. The album is influence by party bands across space and time, from The Beach Boys to the Ramones to the Strokes. You’ll notice this at a live show, strung together in an intense session that includes lead singer Tonyo getting into the crowd and screaming in your ear. And who doesn’t want that? The Moog will be touring all over, so keep an eye out. Read the XXQ’s to learn more.
XXQs: The Moog – Tonyo – Lead Singer
PensEyeView.com (PEV): Hey Tonyo, where did I catch you right now?
Tonyo: In Seattle. In a studio, recording our second album here.
PEV: How’s the recording going?
Tonyo: It’s great. We’re recording the guitars now and it’s f–king awesome.
PEV: I was listening to some of the first album, Sold For Tomorrow, and how is the new album different?
Tonyo: I think it’s heavier, darker… but it has balls now.
PEV: I got to ask you, what is the meaning behind the name Moog?
Tonyo: Well, at first the synthesizer, and we got our name after that… but there is a more interesting story than that. We were hanging out a club in Barcelona, called Moog. We had such a great time there that we had to name our band after it. So, the music wasn’t that good, like cheesy 80’s but we were so wasted and so drunk that, that’s why we chose that name.
PEV: Do you get asked that a lot?
Tonyo: Yeah (laughs). Basically we have our name after the synthesizer but we named it after the club which named it after the synthesizer… So that’s the story.
PEV: Hailing from Budapest, tell us about the music scene there.
Tonyo: Well, we have some real great bands. They can’t reach international crowds yet but they are on their way. I think in a few years, the scene is going to be insane and worldwide.
PEV: You talk about how it is hard for most Hungarians to get exposure but you have the honor of being the first Hungarian band to be signed to an American label. That’s a pretty big accomplishment. Was it exciting when you first found out?
Tonyo: Yes (laughs). It’s amazing too since we found the label off MySpace.com. It makes the whole thing, very twenty-first century. I don’t think this has happened to any let alone Hungarian, but Eastern European band. We are unique.
PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success?
Tonyo: They are happy. But they don’t really get what all this means. My parents are an older generation… they support me in everything I do.
PEV: Is there something from home that you miss, that you can’t find here?
Tonyo: Um, yeah, old buildings (laughs). Trash on the streets (laughs)… Depressed faces (laughs). Everyone here is so happy. It was a bit shocking at first but we got used to it.
PEV: When did you first come to the US and what were your original thoughts?
Tonyo: I think it was in 2006 or 2007, when we mixed the first album. It’s great, just a bit strange. Everyone is very open and happy and I wasn’t really used to that but I am getting used to it and I like it (laughs).
PEV: What has been your favorite part about the US music scene so far?
Tonyo: Well, I like the New York scene, where The Strokes came from. I like that scene because it is always interesting and interesting bands that come from that scene.
PEV: In all your tours and performing, which US city has been your favorite to perform in?
Tonyo: New York was great; good to see it, f–king crowded. I like Los Angeles. I like Austin, like the South By Southwest concerts. It was great to play there. Our first show was in the afternoon, and it was not the official show yet but a lot of people came to see us. It was funny because people in their thirties still go out to shows. At home, you stop going to shows when you are thirty. I still liked that show because it was so strange and unique for me. There were some old Texas cowboys bang their heads to our music.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Moog performance?
Tonyo: Well, it’s intense. I go into the crowd and shout into their ears. Don’t miss it!
PEV: What’s something we’d be surprised to hear about the members of the band?
Tonyo: Something surprising about us? Well, I don’t know. I can’t really describe it but it is real different. Maybe because we were raised in another country and other continent. It can be heard in our music. It’s really strange and interesting to see us – in a good way though… I hope (laughs). So, I think what is special about our music is that it’s a mixture of pop, happiness, darker and it can be interesting.
PEV: When you aren’t touring or performing, what can we find you doing in your spare time?
Tonyo: Um, sleeping (laughs). We don’t really have spare time. We just travel, play and eat. We are not able to go out and do sightseeing.
PEV: When you sit down to write music, is there a certain environment you surround yourselves in?
Tonyo: Usually, I write the songs. I write the songs on the piano, which might seem weird to people that like our music. Then we transfer it to chords and tracks to guitars. I usually do it at home too. To compose them in the final way, we do it in the rehearsal room.
PEV: Out of all the artists you’ve seen, is there a certain artist today that you would like to collaborate with?
Tonyo: Yeah, there are some. I would like to play with Neils Children, an English band. I like the Strokes a lot too.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band we should all be listening to?
Tonyo: I like Photo Atlas, I don’t think they are still up and coming though. I don’t know, I’d have to think about it.
PEV: Any pre-show rituals?
Tonyo: We drink a lot (laughs).
PEV: What’s your favorite drink?
Tonyo: I like wine. And any kind of shot. I also drink beer, too.
PEV: Where do you think the band will be ten years from now?
Tonyo: Um… Rehab (laughs). I don’t know. I think we’ll have some great success in a few years but ten years… I don’t know. I don’t want to think that far. I can’t really tell it now and predict any kind of future. Ten years, it’s a long time.
PEV: What’s next for The Moog?
Tonyo: Well we finish this album. It will be huge and great. We will do some shows in Hungry and a European tour. And then we maybe go to Japan. Our first album will be released in Japan with a major, that is for sure. So, we’ll go to Japan soon.
PEV: I appreciate you taking the time out with us.
Tonyo: I appreciate you calling, thanks so much.
For more information on The Moog, check out www.MySpace.com/MoogBand
It’s nearly impossible not to discover our latest feature, the fine country gentlemen out of Corinth, Mississippi, Saving Abel. Just check out their history – in 2005, not too long after lead singer Jared Weeks and guitarist Jason Null started working together to define the foundation of Saving Abel, producer Skidd Mills (12 Stones, Saliva, Submersed), caught ear of their song, “18 Days” and instantly expressed interest in producing the sound Null and Weeks were cultivating. Mills recalls his initial thoughts, that “these guys are the real deal; they’ll be doing this for a long time.”
Soon, drummer Blake Dixon, bass player Eric Taylor and guitarist Scott Bartlett would join, and the “Addicted” EP started making its way around the country. It eventually fell into the hands of Virgin Records Chairman/CEO Jason Flom, and the rest is history. The huge label fell in love with the southern rockers, and signed them a day later.
So how did these guys find such remarkable success so quickly? Simply put, they understand the power behind a well-written tune. Weeks will tell you, “If something is really bothering me, or how I’m feeling at that moment, I’ll write about it. For me to get the most out of a song, I have to get it almost to the point I’m ready to cry if I can’t get it out, and that makes people relate to it.” These radio-ready songs with “big riffs and memorable melodies” are putting these fella’s on the fast track to hit maker status – and their vehicle? That EP that brought them so much attention in the first place; but now it’s their new album, “Addicted.” And while Saving Abel does have a strong southern feel (not unlike fellow southerners 3 Doors Down), they want to make sure audiences realize that they’re “not just picking banjos, that we are really serious about what we are doing and got something good going on… that we got an edge to our music.” They are indeed here to make a new for themselves, and they don’t need to play off some southern gimmick to get it done.
The band has been on the road recently with The Sick Puppies and Dropping Daylight, so keep an eye out for a show. They’ll also be playing the “Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival” along with acts such as Seether and Disturbed. Not too shabby. Jump into the XXQ’s to learn more.
XXQs: Saving Abel – Jared Weeks
PensEyeView.com (PEV): Hey Jared, how’s everything going?
Jared Weeks (JW): Everything is going great man. I’m actually right in the middle of the continental divide and freezing my ass off in Wyoming. We don’t get this kind of snow in Mississippi and it is really cold dude.
PEV: So, are you on break right now?
JW: We’re actually with the Sick Puppies tour but they took a five day break, so we are doing a radio show for a Salt Lake City, Utah station. They wanted us to do a headlining show down there. We drove down to Salt Lake City and now we are going to meet back up with the Sick Puppies in Madison, Wisconsin.
PEV: You mentioned you grew up in, wait, I don’t want to mess it up… Corinth, Mississippi-
JW: Yeah man, you got it! Most people say like, Corneeth, or Cornathe or something but yeah you got it man.
PEV: What kind of music were you listening to growing up?
JW: Man, I did the whole church thing growing up in the bible belt, you know. Basically when my eyes were open, like way open, was when I started listening to Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Stevie Ray Vaughan, any kind of blues. That’s like the best music to feel. It’s expressed through the guitar. But I’m a real Stevie Ray Vaughn fan – southern rock at its best.
PEV: How did Saving Abel first come together?
JW: Well Jason, the lead guitarist, we were at a concert and he goes to me, ‘Can you sing, can you play?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I can do both.’ We got together, wrote music acoustically, just sitting for like 6 hours a night, 4 nights a week, just drinking a bottle of wine. The hard thing was the only way we could hear the music was to play it. So we got what money we had and went to Nashville to record in a studio. So, we went in there-paying customers and started tracking a song called “Beautiful Day.” And Skid walked in there and he liked it. And about two weeks later, Skid was like, ‘I’ve never done this before but we’re going to give you guys a production deal.’ Basically, he was going to build a band around me and Jason. If we got signed, all that he asked was to do the next two albums and, if not, then he’d do the album for free. So, we thought that was fair and we took it and started tracking immediatley.
We started holding auditions right there in the studio. Scott Bartlett, which is our lead guitarist musician, who came in just to lay some tracks down, was basically told, we either pay you for what you’ve done or join the band and I’m sure within six months we’ll have this band signed or on the road. It took a little more than six months, but it happened. Then we got in touch with the other guys involved and next thing you know, I’m sitting in the continental divide, heading to a show in Wisconsin.
PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success?
JW: I’ve got a great family, man. And there has been a lot of stressful times, you know – down to my last dollar kind of times. But my family has always had my back and believed in what I can do. I mean, my whole family are musicians. Even on a Saturday afternoon, we go in the back, play guitar, smoke some cigarettes and just play whatever we got. My family is totally excited about it and know what we’ve had to go through. And it’s now paying off. My friends are real excited and they look at it a little different in that they were only there since Saving Abel started, and my family was there in the beginning of it all, but they are still excited.
PEV: I read this quote from you: “You know when you hear a song on the radio and you don’t know who it is, but you love it and feel like you’ve heard it before? That’s our band!” Tell us about the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio.
JW: On the radio. Well, actually the acoustic thing, Jason and I were doing… there is a song called “Beautiful Day.” The song is on the album. In this town man, you kind of know people and stations and stuff. And we dropped some off at the stations. I was at the hospital, I used to be a phlebotomist, I’d draw people’s blood, which is weird and another story (laughs). But, I was in the break room and they had the radio playing local stations and it was Jason and I playing “Beautiful Day.” Just the two of us, playing acoustically. As far as the first band track goes, there was a song called “Beautiful You.” I was cleaning my room – I remember it like it was yesterday and it came on. I just cranked the volume up and ran out the house. My dad came out and was like, ‘What is that!’ I was like ‘Dammit, that’s us man!’ So, he got excited with me, man. Yeah, I remember it like it was yesterday.
PEV: The new album, “Addicted,” is already doing great. What can fans take away from the album?
JW: I hope that when people listen to it that they see we’re from Mississippi and we’re not just picking our banjos. That we are really serious about what we are doing and have something good going on… that we got an edge to our music. Also that there is a familiarity to it – you’ve heard it before and it’s really radio friendly and off the wall rock. I hope they get the serious side of it and know that we’re not playing around. And as long as they keep listening, we’re going to keep on playing. I hope they walk away with some sense of what we’re about.
PEV: Are you surprised to see how fast the song “Addicted” is catching on?
JW: Yeah, actually I am. I know it is a good song but it is really hard to tell in this business, what is good, or what will catch on, you know? But it depends on the people, if they like it or not. If you like it, it gets played. I’m totally surprised with how well it’s doing and I am not taking it for granted.
PEV: You talked about how you worked in the hospital, did you ever belt out any tunes in the hospital?
JW: Man, I used to sing to the older women. I don’t mean to put them in a category, but they were always my favorite. They are the sweetest old ladies man. But yeah, all the time I’d be at work at 4:00 in the morning and no one appreciates the phlebotomist job; you got to wake them up and then stick a needle in their arm and draw blood, so I never got a thank you. But there will be a couple of times when I’d be humming a song and coming up with something. People would be like, ‘What are you doing here? Why are here drawing blood? You should be out there singing’. And then I would tell them about the story of the band. Dude, sometimes I would just sing to the old ladies and they loved it! I wasn’t flirtin’ or nothing like that but they gave me an appreciation for what I do. They would ask me to sing songs for them and if you can just give somebody that sense of comfort it’s the least that I can do. I mean to give someone on their dying bed comfort, you know. It was good practice, too.
PEV: How is this album different than other albums out today?
JW: Well, I think that most the other southern rock bands that come out, they play off the whole, “We are from the south. This is what we do. I’m going to play off the whole culture…” And we definitely have the south on our side but we have an edge that you’ll know it. I really think they are going to catch onto it. Some people walk up to us after a show and they are like, ‘I didn’t know you were that band that sang that song’. I get all the time, ‘Where are you from?’ and I tell them, ‘We’re from Mississippi’ and they are just like, ‘I could never tell!’ My dad was born in Chicago and spent half his life there. He’s got a mixture of an accent. And I get all the time that people can’t tell I am from Mississippi. But I really think this album, to me, is like the “Thriller” album. We have about seven or eight singles on this album alone!
PEV: What’s the best and worst part about road life?
JW: The best part is that, well, I don’t get to see too much – I’m from a small town… All we see are hills and gravel roads. Traveling through like, northern California, like Napa Valley, it is so green out there and mountains everywhere. Just taking it all in and experiencing it, I don’t think I can ever get tired of it. That is some of the pros. Some of the cons are just being in a fifteen passenger van with six other guys! It’s hard to come by a shower or just get along with everyone. I mean, you ride in a van so long you just want to step outside and catch your breath. But it’s fun. Maybe we’ll get a tour bus one day! We’re just hoping that happens.
PEV: When you get a chance to kick back and relax, what do you like to do in your spare time?
JW: Man, I like to just sit down and write new music. I like to write old music too! I do a lot of cardio work too. We got a lot of weights and stuff here. But when I am on the road, I like to get out and see as much as I can. I mean you only live once, right? You got to take it all in as much as you can. I just like to go see what is going on.
PEV: Is there a certain kind of atmosphere or zone you have to get into when you sit down to write?
JW: Definitely dude. You know, we can all sit in a van and write but sometimes I like to be by myself. That way my thoughts are my own with no other influence going on. Maybe sipping on a brew, smoking a cigarette, the best way I know how. Sometimes it just hits you walking through a McDonalds or something. I’ll grab a napkin and just write it down.
PEV: What’s something we’d be surprised to hear about the guys in Saving Abel?
JW: Something that would be surprising to hear about Saving Abel… Well, Scott’s a workout buff; he’s totally huge. Hell, I don’t know man… we just do what we do. We all like to write music and feed off each other. As far as writing, Blake will come up with something and we’ll write it down. We’re just dudes from the south: chill, relax, and get along with anybody… anybody!
PEV: Is there someone you haven’t collaborate with that you would like to?
JW: “3 Doors Down” is my number one favorite source. Brad Arnold, he’s the reason why I’m sitting here right now. I so want to hook up with those guys and play with them. Plus just soak up as much from them as I can. I mean, they’ve been doing this for so long and kicking ass, you know, I mean, I would love to collaborate with them. They have an album coming out this summer and it would just make my year to hook up with them some how.
PEV: Is there a band more up and coming you think we should all be listening to?
JW: There’s a cool band now I like called “Airborne”. They’re like an AC/DC almost… really balls to the walls rock. I totally dig the Airborne guys.
PEV: So, what’s next for Saving Abel?
JW: Well, we’re going to finish up this tour with the Sick Puppies. We’ve got shows in May in Memphis, “The Memphis In May Concert.” We’ll be taking the stage with Seether and Disturbed, which is totally awesome. One of the main things we’re focusing on now is our live show. When people are there to see us, we want them walking out with Saving Abel t-shirts and talking about us. It’s going well, I’m proud of these guys. We’re going up!
PEV: I appreciate you taking out the time with us. Thanks a lot man. Best of luck, love the songs.
JW: Awesome dude, we should see you when we come through man! See the live show!
PEV: Count on it man, thanks!
For more information on Saving Abel, check out www.SavingAbel.com
Having the opportunity to speak with and meet so many brilliant individuals through PensEyeView.com has been a dreamlike experience, and today’s feature is a perfect example of why we started the site in the first place. Front man of mega-band Puddle of Mudd, Wes Scantlin, who is consistently honest and direct with his lyrics, acted just as such during our scheduled interview – completely at ease and as himself. He is, as he puts it, “going through the laid-back-cat-days,” but that doesn’t mean the band still can’t bring it on stage. I mean, these guys have played New York, London, Germany, even Iraq and Kuwait City – they know how to put on a show.
It’s been quite a ride for Wes and Puddle of Mudd, starting in 2001 with “Come Clean.” The record, which sold over 5 million copies, told us all it was OK to admit “I like the way you spank my ass,” and spawned 2002’s most played song, “Blurry.” And no one can forget, “She F@#$ing hates me!” the lyrics that are part of the theme song for men everywhere. Puddle of Mudd saw more success with “Life on Display,” providing hits such as “Away from Me” and “Spin You Around,” and today they stand behind “Famous,” the new album featuring the current chart topper, “Psycho.”
The collection, which includes newer members Christian Stone (guitar) and Ryan Yerdon (drums) as well as long time bassist Doug Ardito, is in no way a rushed creation. Ardito recalls “We had a lot of time to write and then make the record… this time we had time to live life and have experiences to talk about.” The record isn’t as heavy as some of the band’s past work, but still very “Mudd-esque,” capable of reaching under your skin to help you get through a rough day while remaining “some kick-ass rock Ôn roll music.” And that’s what Scantlin aims for when he sits down to write with his acoustic guitar, “If it sounds good and it makes your skin goose bump-up then you’re probably onto something.”
If you ever get the chance to see the band play live, take it. They’re tremendous. These guys have no problem coming into the crowd, interacting with a random birthday girl, or throwing about a billion guitar picks and drumsticks into the pit. The show also has some aces hidden – I can’t begin to describe the excitement I felt when Wes announced, “this next song is called ‘Breed’ by Nirvana.” So hurry and find the location of their next performance – soon the boys are off around the world again stopping by Japan, Australia and Korea. If you miss out, don’t worry. A live concert album should be around soon. Learn so much more below in the XXQ’s.
XXQs: Puddle Of Mudd – Wes Scantlin
PensEyeView.com (PEV): I’m glad you guys got to come to DC. What do you think of DC so far?
WS: I like it! It’s been great. There’s a lot of history here.
PEV: Any site seeing?
WS: Last time we were in town, when we were playing with Nickel Back, we got to see the capital, the monument. We never made it the White House. We walked up to the White House, it was so funny (laughs)… we walk up there and you know how they have security all around there, right… So we walk up to this security guard and she was really cool and we say, ‘We’re in the band Puddle Of Mudd and we want to go in… take us on in!’ I mean, being in a rock band you sometimes get the red carpet action, but not at the White House. They’re like, ‘No, sorry’. You got to plan that thing like three months in advance. Good looking cop lady though man. She’s a looker.
PEV: How do the DC fans relate to other cities?
WS: Oh, Lordy. Everybody’s great. Every city is cool man. DC fans are just really laid back and cool to talk to. DC fans are really smart too. Sometimes you can go to places and they’re not so, you know… a few sandwiches short of picnic, you know?
PEV: Which city do you find to be your favorite to play?
WS: Um, I don’t know man… New York City is pretty cool. When we played Times Square on New Years Eve, that was pretty cool. We’ve been all over the darn world though and seen a lot of different cities. There is always something special about each one. London, Germany… some of the best shows we’ve had have been festivals in Germany. We’re getting ready to go to Australia and Japan and Iraq to play for the soldiers – again. We go to see Kuwait City. We’ve seen a lot of places. I can’t wait to go to Australia. I don’t know why, I just can’t wait to go. I’ll probably wishing I was home though (laughs).
PEV: You are about to go on in a couple of hours; are there any pre-show rituals you do?
WS: Yeah we kind of huddle around- I call it the “puddle-huddle.” And I call my pastor, his name is Randall Smalls, he’s really cool. We ask God to come down and rock with us on the stage man! He’s always there but lately we’ve been doing real well on the live shows.
PEV: What’s the best part about playing live?
WS: Fans. Hopefully you do good. That is the best part about playing live. There have been nights were there haven’t been so great.
PEV: There has to be some war stories were things did not go as planned.
WS: Yeah, it happens quite often. Not now but… I mean, I think now we are all getting a little better playing.
PEV: You’ve been around for quite some time but how has your live performance changed over the years?
WS: I don’t know. We’ve always done different things for live shows. Just different members, man. Hopefully we can hang on to these guys, Ryan and Christian. Doug, I don’t think he’s going to be going anywhere. We’re like tied at the hip. It sucks to have to switch band members but people are going to do what they want to do. And at the end of the day, man, you can’t stop someone from doing what they want to do.
PEV: What is the best and worst part about touring?
WS: It gets very stressful. The most stressful thing about being on tour is that you have to do multiple performances in a row. I mean, we go days and days and days without a break and it starts to wear and tear on your vocal chords. You can change guitar strings but you can’t change vocal chords. The list my doctor gave to me of “don’ts” is like, ‘What am I going to do, like sit in a chair and not like talk to people?’
PEV: Yeah, that would make my job pretty hard.
WS: Yeah, I’d just sit there like ‘Yes’ or write notes down (laughs).
PEV: So what’s it like when you get to go home?
WS: Very mellow, I just chill out. I usually, depending on how long the tour is, just make the couch and the tv my home for two or three days. And just sleep as much as I can. Eat food, sleep and just chill!
PEV: When you get some spare time what can we find you doing?
WS: Like today I just laid in my bunk (on the tour bus). I mean, it gets pretty busy out here. I don’t do a lot of journeying around and looking around because there is just so much going on.
PEV: You touched on the fans earlier and you have a large wrestling fan base. You’ve had several songs with World Wrestling Entertainment – The Royal Rumble, The Smackdown VS Raw video game, WWE One Night Stand. Are you guys wrestling fans?
WS: I grew up a huge wrestling fan. And there’s this guy, Edge… the other night I’m with my wife and Edge was kicking someone’s butt and doing this psycho look and my wife goes to me, ‘You guys look seriously identical!’ Except he’s, like a lot bigger than me.
PEV: You guys do look a lot alike.
WS: Yeah, I know, isn’t that weird? I heard he was a pretty cool guy. I’m pretty sure if I ever run into him I’d just high-five him. If anyone wants to kick my ass, I’ll be like ‘Yo man, I’m the Edge dude!’ (Laughs) Don’t mess with me homes, I’ll put a suplex on your ass.
PEV: Actually Walter and I are wrestlers, too (Note: PEV Creative Director was taking pictures of the interview).
WS: Oh yeah?!?
PEV: A little side project you know.
WS: It’s cool for the kids. It’s all in good fun and having a good time.
PEV: I’ll have Walter throw me through a table later.
WS: (Laughs) Oh God no! That would be funny.
PEV: Tell us about the new album “Famous”.
WS: Well, we really worked our butts off on it. Shit, there’s about 800 million other songs that we didn’t put on the record that I am sure one of these days will surface… or not. And everyone that helped make the record, God bless, we really didn’t necessarily need the help. The help that was given was God-sent. It’s just a record with some heart felt songs on there, some party songs on there. There is some agro-grunge stuff going on there too…tasty jams for different types of listeners.
PEV: The growth from “Come Clean”, with millions sold and already with “Famous” getting rave reviews, is there something you see per album you want to touch on or see for the next album?
WS: It just depends where your head is at. I write about 70-75 percent of all the stuff and then other musicians and artists that help out too. From since day one, we used to be a lot heavier. We used to listen to Pantera, I mean, I still listen to Pantera… but we used to mock there kind of riffs. But we hope that it will still sound “Mudd-esq”. I hope it will be able to help someone through a hard time they are going through. A lot of our songs reach people in that way.
PEV: Do you ever have to get into a certain zone to write?
WS: Yeah, you do. Sometimes you do. Sometimes I’m in the right mood and sometimes I’m not. Sometimes it’ll be late night and I got a couple cold ones and if I’m not feeling it, I just put the guitar away and go to bed. I’ve actually been on kind of the down tip of writing since we’ve been so busy. But I can’t wait to get back to writing.
PEV: We got a chance to check out the video for “Psycho” (off Famous) and you have some pretty funny cameos. What made you guys to decide to go that route?
WS: Well, they have that back lot up there at Universal Studios. The Psycho – Bates Motel thing and Psycho house is up there and I was there with my dad and my son and they were giving us a private tour in a golf cart. We pulled up to the Psycho house and I was like, ‘If they release Psycho, you know this would be cool if we could do the video here.’ Then I started to think, ‘well, our record label is affiliated with Universal, so maybe we can pull this off,’ then made some calls. We got Jason in there. Kid Rock in there… it wasn’t really him though. It’s a bunch of cameos of different celebrities. We go to do the video at night! Which was great. Didn’t have to get up at 5:30 and go to some desert. It worked out good. Thanks to the Alfred Hitchcock Foundation and the Universal peeps, we really appreciate it.
PEV: What’s something we’d be surprised to hear about the guys in Puddle Of Mudd?
WS: Uh, Lord… We’re just laid-back cats now. We’ve been through our wild days. Now we’re just going through our laid-back-cat-days.
PEV: I hear the rumor about a live concert album coming out?
WS: Yeah, someone started that rumor?
PEV: So it is a rumor, no truth to that?
WS: No, it’s not a rumor. There will be one but we’re just trying to get this one out. We’ve already recorded so many live concerts, we could release live albums for 100 years. So, we’ll get it out there soon.
PEV: So, what’s next for Puddle Of Mudd?
WS: Well, we got the 930 club tonight and rolling to Richmond next. And like I said, we’ll be going to Japan, Australia, Korea. The songs are doing great on the radio and I guess we got God on our side.
PEV: Alright Wes, thanks for taking the time with us.
WS: No problem man.
For more information on Puddle Of Mudd, check out www.PuddleOfMudd.com
The Hollywood Renaissance man you haven’t heard of, Dave Yaden is more than the guy behind the scenes. In addition to his work as a producer, [from hip hop tracks with Justin Trugman (Eminem, Ol’ Dirty Bastard) to work with hardcore punk act Pierce the Veil], Yaden is also a songwriter, author and leader of his own band, The Weight.
Learning through saturation, Yaden attended USC and took in the scene for all that its worth. It’s safe to say he liked a little bit of everything he saw: He has co-written songs with PEV alums Tyler Hilton and Josh Kelley and he and his band have opened for acts such as Sheryl Crow, Michelle Branch and even Willie Nelson. Currently, The Weight is supporting their album “Home,” as they work towards the anticipated release of the band’s second record.
Yaden, who beautifully reflects the sound of the ultimate Piano Man, Billy Joel, is also working on two books. He approaches writing like any true writer should, “When I sit down to write, I don’t care what comes out. I just know I have to write. The book, which continues to be an ongoing project, is about my faith.” His approach to writing is similar to his approach in all of his work – there’s simply a need to get all those thoughts out on paper.
You can catch Yaden and The Weight now on tour with Josh Kelley. Expect “passion… contorted faces… the blues… good laughs… and Billy Joel covers” at the show. Learn more about this multi-talented artist within the XXQ’s.
XXQs: Dave Yaden
PensEyeView.com (PEV): I read that you picked up music around ten and started your professional career at 13 years old, playing in local restaurants. It seems that music was there from the start?
Dave Yaden (DY): Yup. Mom played old jazz piano tunes–Mancini, Duke Ellington, etc. Dad played folk tunes on acoustic guitar.
PEV: What was it like playing at such a young age?
DY: Do we know we’re young when we ARE young? All I remember is that as I got older it seemed like everybody that I met that played music started before me!
PEV: Where you nervous?
DY: I seem to recall being nervous before my first recital when I was 11. Mostly I remember being excited to play for people.
PEV: Growing up in Houston, Texas, what kind of music were you listening to?
DY: My parents didn’t let my brother and I listen to anything but the classical station and Christian Radio until I was 14yrs old. After that I listened to Pop Radio.
PEV: You attended USC in LA and really cut your teeth on the music scene. What were those earlier days like?
DY: Crazy. I was playing in as many bands as I could and just trying to figure out Hollywood. At first it didn’t seem very inviting, but it was because I didn’t get it at the time. I learned a lot about rock’n roll. That’s also when I picked up the Hammond organ.
PEV: Was there a certain point when you realized that music was going to become more than just a hobby?
DY: I made that decision when I was in Texas.
DY: Interesting question. Honestly, I judge who I’d like to collaborate with based upon personality and not music.
PEV: In all your travels, which city do you think offers the best scene for music?
DY: I’ll give you three: Chicago, New York and LA.
PEV: How has “life on the road” been for you? Good parts? Bad parts?
DY: I love the road. It’s a paid adventure. The only thing I miss is not being able to share the experiences with my wife and brother.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Dave Yaden performance?
DY: Passion. Contorted faces. The blues. Good laughs. Billy Joel covers.
PEV: Is there an up and coming artist out right now that you think we should all be looking into?
DY: Curtis Peoples.
PEV: Your band, The Weight, is currently on tour with Josh Kelley and is finishing up your second record. What can fans expect from this album?
PEV: How has your work on this album differed from your previous works?
DY: I would like to think it has matured
PEV: What is one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Dave Yaden?
DY: I used to be a body builder.
PEV: When you sit down to write, what kind of environment do you surround yourself in?
DY: The noise of a coffee shop.
PEV: You are also an author. Tell us about your literary works and handling the balance between music and writing.
DY: When I sit down to write, I don’t care what comes out. I just know I have to write. The book, which continues to be an ongoing project, is about my faith. It has taken many different shapes over the past three years, but none that I am happy with yet.
PEV: When you are not touring or performing, what can we find you doing in your spare time?
DY: Writing music, singing, out in Hollywood with my beautiful wife and friends (drinking good wine if I can get my hands on it).
PEV: Before a show, are there any pre-show rituals you do or is just go out there and perform?
PEV: Any embarrassing or funny live performance stories?
DY: I kicked my keyboard across the room into the bar at The Roxy in Hollywood.
PEV: So, what is next for Dave Yaden?
DY: Workin’ on the new record, right now. Lookin’ at tours for the summer and fall.
Check out Dave at www.DaveYaden.com
At PensEyeView.com, we’re always looking to help emerging artists become the next big thing, to give them another voice in an industry that can easily drown out its members. It takes talent and endurance to break through… qualities Washington, DC alternative act Rome in a Day has no shortage of. The aptly named foursome realizes the grit that success requires; “The name is a satire, intended to convey the point that in an industry where there is such a focus on instant gratification, great things still take time, patience, dedication and, most of all, hard work.”
For a group with so many great adjectives surrounding them, it’s surprising to hear that they’re a “Craig’s List success story… of sorts,” especially when they’ve played with the likes of Paul Oakenfold, Tommy Lee, Carbon Leaf, Army of Me, Scythian, Mr. Greengenes and Jimmie’s Chicken Shack. They’ve also appeared at shows at Angel’s Rock Bar, Ned Devines, and at DC101 Elliot in the Morning’s Halloween Bash. The group catches more and more notice with their “equal parts modern rock edge and soulful vocal styling… offering electrifying original music featuring strong male and female vocals combined with pure rock adrenaline.”
Their three song demo, “A Brief Into…” is currently getting play on various FM and internet radio stations with it’s “smoothly flowing lyrics, developing interesting and varied drumbeats, and pretty yet edgy vocal harmonies.” Catch a live performance if you can, where you’ll find “energy and adrenaline mixed with loud and complex rock riffs.” Also ask the group about their trip to Outer Banks, North Carolina. Good story. Learn more in the XXQ’s.
XXQ’s: Rome in a Day
PensEyeView.com: How and when did Rome In A Day first come together?
James: Considering that we’re a fairly new band, the process has been longer than one might expect given that fact. I was playing solo for a while with the intention of giving my solo tunes a bigger, full band treatment. So, I met Adam (our drummer) about 2 1/2 years ago. We played with several different line-ups, most being three-piece and none lasting for very long. We finally found Ali (our lead guitarist), who was originally our bass player, a little over a year ago. Things started to progress more quickly from that point on. When we decided to switch Ali over to lead guitar and add a fourth member to our group, we found ourselves at liberty to choose from many bassists who responded to the add of a more established Rome In A Day. Jay stepped in April of last year and the rest is history. It might surprise folks to know that we are a craigslist success story of sorts. Don’t tell anyone, haha!
PEV: Growing up, what kind of music where you all listening to?
Ali: Started out on Classical piano (Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, Bach). Then listened to alot of funk (Maceo Parker, Tower of Power, Liquid soul, Parliament) and Jazz guitar (Soulive, Greyboy All-Stars, Kenny Burrell, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, MMW) and which eventually led to more progessive rock (Dream Theater, Into Eternity, Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Guthrie Govan, John Zorn, Buckethead, Joe Satriani, Coheed). I was also obsessed with No Doubt in high school and had a brief stint listening to Ska and Punk music (Less than Jake, Reel Big Fish etc). I’m pretty embarassed about that though! Maybe we should leave that out. Haha!
James: I went through a bunch of phases… as a kid, I listened to pop (Michael Jackson, Terence Trent D’arby- now named Sananda Maitreya- etc.), Motown, Scott Joplin, classical, a couple country dudes… basically, a lot of the stuff my parents were listening to as an interacial (and thus eclectic) couple. However, I think my dad (black), might have been a bigger country fan than my mom (white), haha! I went through a rap/r&b phase as an adolescent, memorizing my favorite Warren G., Fresh Prince, Kool Moe Dee, Nonchalant, Baby Face, Tony Rich, Tony! Toni! Tone!, Digital Underground, Naughty by Nature, and Boyz 2 Men songs. Towards the end of junior high, I got into the Seattle grunge scene (STP, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, etc.), which parlayed its way into classic rock in high school (although I stayed into grunge the whole way through). I also hit a l’il Latin phase when I started taking Latin guitar lessons. So, I got in to Mana and the Gypsy Kings (even though they’re from France). Nowadays, I listen to pretty much everything from rock to hip-hop to classical to bluegrass. Just take a look at my CD collection- my tastes are a culmination of all my past phases.
I’ll take liberty to answer for Adam and Jay too. For Adam, I’ll say Sesame Street and The Wiggles. And for Jay, I’ll say Barney and The Teletubbies. That’s what you guys get for letting Ali and me answer all these questions!
PEV: Was there a certain point when music went from hobby to knowing you could do it for a living?
Ali: We’re still working towards that aren’t we? Get me out of this day job!
James: For me, it was when I quit my day job a few years back. Hmmm…
PEV: Tell us about your first live performance as a band. How did it go?
James: Once we got Jay, our first show was at a friend’s art exhibition at the Pierce School Lofts in DC. It was no Ram’s Head Live or RFK Stadium, but it was a good time… and it was an encouraging start finding out that we could have so much fun together playing at the top of a staircase!
Ali: Awww, well for me it was Whitlow’s in Arlington. It’s a continual process in developing a stage presence and a dynamic with one another, but it was definitely a positive experience and made me realize that it was only the beginning of something longstanding and very worthwhile.
PEV: From that first time on stage to now, how has your performance style changed?
Ali: I think we’re alot more confident and energetic. We have more crowd interaction, and our songs have definitely taken a more aggressive format.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Rome In A Day performance?
Ali: Energy and adrenaline mixed with loud and complex rock riffs. James Stevens jumping on the bar and Ali trying to strut in high heels. Jay doing his bass dance and Adam smiling like a goon behind his kit 🙂
PEV: Tell us about your latest release.
James: It’s a three-song demo entitled ‘A Brief Intro…’. You can currently hear a couple of the songs on various FM and internet radio stations. Don’t worry- we’ll have a lot more songs out soon!
PEV: How is your sound, different from other bands out there today?
James: We seek to impress people with every element of our music while retaining a catchy, widely accessible appeal. We put a lot of thought into writing thoughtful but smoothly flowing lyrics, developing interesting and varied drumbeats, and working out pretty yet edgy vocal harmonies. Some bands are vocally driven, others base their songs around guitar riffs, while others are all about the beat. We like to let it all shine.
Ali: We have a pretty diverse set of musical backgrounds, which I think forms RIAD’s unique style.
PEV: Since you are based out of Washington, DC, tell us about the DC music scene.
James: A lot of the action (in the rock scene at least) lies around the fringes, in Northern VA, in MD… I’ve found the fans to be supportive and the bands to be cooperative. Some musicians complain that the scene is too clique-ish. I’ve yet to fully form my opinion on that subject.
PEV: Tell us about life on the road for the band. Best and worst parts?
Ali: Best parts: Seeing the country, bonding/having fun with the bandmates, being able to market your music to new areas. Worst parts: Trying to maintain the same energy on stage after traveling all day, not having a place to curl my hair/put on makeup, the minor bickering after seeing the same people day in and day out.
PEV: What’s one thing that people would be surprised to hear about each member of Rome In A Day?
Ali: I’m not sure how to answer this exactly – I guess I could pick something random about myself (I’m a sorority girl? I also play piano? I majored in Politics and Business? I’m a freak about ketchup?).
James: Let’s talk about Jay and Adam… Jay’s silly despite wearing a beard and Adam is old enough to drink (he just usually chooses not to). As for me, somewhere in between my acting like an idiot and occasionally speaking in broken English, I got a psychology degree at Yale.
PEV: When you sit down to write music what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in?
Ali: A calm one, with some minor libations, where we can vent emotions and colaborate creatively (after a slew of hostile text messages) huhuhuh!
James: Ummm, yeah… Ali and I get along a lot better in person than over email/texts. I guess that’s a lot better than the reverse… I hope Ali doesn’t read this! heheheh!!
PEV: How have all your friends and family members reacted to your careers?
Ali: With the upmost support and enthusiasm. It’s part of what makes this business rewarding.
James: My sister knows the lyrics. Her criticisms have also been crucial to my development as a charismatic frontman. The cool thing about music is that everyone has an opinion about it. If you’re lucky enough to have friends and family members who are willing to express their real opinions, then you can learn from their honest suggestions and revel in their sincere praises.
PEV: What has been the most memorable part of the band’s career so far?
Ali: There have been quite a few – doing the 98 rock interview, playing a show like Angels Rock Bar in Bmore/Ned Devine’s in Sterling/DC101 Elliot in the Morning’s Halloween Bash. As we progress as a band, we’re always given new and more exciting experiences. It’s difficult to pick just one.
James: I’d say when we were in the Outer Banks, NC and had to figure out how to burn the time between when my folks turned in the key for the beach house we were staying in (10am) and when we had to go onstage at Sundogs (10pm). Needless to say, it involved heating hotdogs in the sun and offering them to people (and a dog); Jay tossing me the frisbee and me somehow ending up w/ a busted lip; inviting Eastern European store clerks to the show (and they showed up!); watching Ali unwittingly dip her purse in salt water; making up hacky games with Jay being the only one that actually knew how to use it properly; Jay beating Ali with an inflatable dolphin, and catching ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 3’.
PEV: When you aren’t touring or performing what can we find everyone doing in your spare time?
Ali: WORKING. UGH. What is this ‘spare time’ thing anyway? I’m not too familiar with that term.
James: Drinkin’, partyin’, havin’ the time of my life… no, I’m kiddin’. I’ve fashioned a full-time job out of booking shows, promoting, corresponding w/ fans, etc. Other than that, I like to watch movies, go to other bands’ shows, draw this comic I’ve been working on forEVER (soon my New Year’s resolution will kick in and I will magically finish it)… I have a lot of interests.
I think I can answer for Adam and Jay too. Adam likes to eat Lindt white chocolate truffles. Jay likes to drink Grand Marnier.
PEV: Which city do you think offers the best music scene and why?
James: We’ll letcha know after we’ve toured around a little more. I really like New York so far. When you go into a rock club there, you really know what it’s there for- to be ROCKED!
PEV: Having played with artists such as Paul Oakenfold, Tommy Lee, Carbon Leaf, Army of Me (PEV alumnus), Scythian, Mr. Greengenes, Jimmie’s Chicken Shack, The Speaks, to name a few), what artists have you not collaborated with yet that you would like to?
James: I think we could all agree on Dream Theater, 30 Seconds to Mars, Anberlin, and Stone Temple Pilots (we’ll probably miss the next reunion tour, but we’ll take the next one please).
Ali: From a realistic standpoint? Or in general? I want to jam with John Petrucci/Guthrie Govan/Joe Satriani and have them show me how to be god (or in my case a goddess) on the guitar. I also want to collaborate with Gwen because I admire her energy and her style. Should we pick a few bands collectively though? Hmm.
PEV: Is there an up and coming artist right now you think we should all be looking into?
Ali: Besides Rome In A Day? No. HA!
James: Haha! Well, there are certainly some other local/regional acts we admire, like The Underwater from York, PA, Sematic from Northern VA, and Of Broken from Baltimore. Oh, and RIAD from DC!
PEV: What one word best describes Rome In A Day?
Ali: Eclectic. Ineffable. (I stole Jay’s word). Something you haven’t seen before… what’s one word for that?
James: Fresh… but not in the flirtatious sense. Well… you can take it both ways.
PEV: Where will you and your music be in ten years?
Ali: In the 99 cent bin at Target. No, hopefully we’ll still be playing, marketing our music and having a profitable career out of doing something we all love and are very passionate about. Who knows where its going to take us though. I think that’s part of the fun of this industry. There is no set plan.
PEV: So, what is next for Rome In A Day?
Ali: Many more shows and many more songs to be recorded. Hopefully some intense studio time this Spring and some mini-tours over the Spring and Summer. And Lunch… I’m hungry! Wahhhh.
James: And acquiring many more fans is also the aim. The fans are the second most important thing in this business… next to LUNCH of course. Thanks for listening!
For more information on Rome In A Day, check out MySpace.com/RomeInADayMusic
“Music that really is music, not an advertisement. Imagine that.” Ben Miller, Jeffrey Prystowsky and Jocie Adams of The Low Anthem represent exactly that. Not music that a label wants. Not music made just to be called “indie.” Not music for the songwriter squad. The Low Anthem create music based on music, music based on song. It’s no surprise that their shows are attended very often by other musicians. The group puts it best; “Our band is a musician’s band. It’s certainly not the music that is sold on the radio or something with catchy hooks.”
The group’s style is in no way traditional, as one can tell by the absurd assortment of instruments used on their album, “What the Crow Brings.” Something like a Tibetan singing bowl is an excellent example of the alternative sounds you can hear at a Low Anthem show, but you can expect to hear toy pianos and pump organs in “textures through different combinations of instruments” on the record. “You’ll never hear a guitar solo or a trumpet solo. The instruments are all there, but blended together in very minimalist parts.”
While “What the Crow Brings” sounds like it has roots deep in Americana, it can also be listened to as a very contemporary work, adopting a style that cannot be categorized by any current or past standards. The collection was also placed into 500 recycled cereal boxes on hand-silkscreened, serial numbered CDs (as if their music wasn’t interesting enough for you).
A live Low Anthem show is a little different from the album sound itself. These guys try to make every show unique, introducing new ways to perform on their instruments as well as using them in different arrangements – a true experiment in action. Keep an eye out for the next record scheduled for release in September, and get into the XXQ’s.
XXQs: The Low Anthem – Ben Miller, Jeffrey Prystowsky and Jocie Adams
(The following interview was done over Skype video)
PensEyeView.com (PEV): Alright now, I can see you guys.
Low Anthem: Hey Richie.
PEV: So how you guys doing?
Low Anthem: Alright man, doing well.
Jeff: Where are you? Are you in Baltimore?
PEV: Yeah, I live in Baltimore. Where did I catch you?
Jeff: Providence (Rhode Island).
Ben: I’m an Orioles fan… Baltimore Orioles!
Jeff: Cal Ripken Jr. fan! (points to himself)
PEV: I appreciate you taking the time with me today. You mentioned that you are in Rhode Island, did you all grow up there as well?
Ben: We grew up in New Jersey, New York and in Boston but living in Rhode Island for a while now and that’s where we all met each other.
PEV: What kind of music were you listening to growing up?
Ben: All different for each of us. But I was raised on Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Paul Simon…
Jeff: I listened to a lot of Miles Davis… a lot of my parents stuff.
Jocie: Um… (laughs)
Ben: Jocie is a classical musician so she doesn’t know a single cultural reference you might make. (everyone laughs).
PEV: How’d you go from classical to folk and rock music?
Jocie: Good question…(laughs)
Ben: I think we met because I was into classical music, actually we were in composition class together and she was “convertible” (laughs).
PEV: Ok, that’s a good way to put it. So, it seems like music was something right from the start.
Ben: Yeah, I think independently we all definitely felt that way.
Jeff: For a while I thought I was going to be a professional baseball player but that was until puberty and I got the short end of the stick.
PEV: Tell me about when you first started out as a band… those first couple of shows.
Ben: A pretty gradual process from there to where we are now. Jeff and I have known each other for about six years and always kind of played in a revolving cast of characters… all different sorts of music we played together. And about a year and a half ago, we decided to do it professionally. That’s kind of the way, or at least for me when I established Low Anthem as a band. Low Anthem was established in 2006, I guess. I think in the beginning, it was just something we loved doing and we would tell all of our friends to come and see it. I don’t know… some of the older recording were pretty embarrassing though.
PEV: Was there a certain time when music stopped becoming a hobby and became a profession?
Ben: It’s definatley a choice because it’s a whole other set of things you have to do. It’s a whole other network of people you have to be in touch with. We had no idea how to do the professional sides of the music thing-
Jeff: The music doesn’t change so much as the business sense of things. I don’t think that music was ever a hobby for us, it was always serious but we didn’t have the business savvy, like getting in touch with someone like yourself.
PEV: (laughs) The internet!
Ben: Yeah, so we just kick around and just try to play these gigs and there is a whole lot of level of things you go through. I don’t know which level that we’re at but we are just now able to finally make a living playing, which is a goal for a long time. It’s a good milestone for us since we can do it and sustain it, as long as we keep working and do it the way that we have been. But musically, it’s changing always, so I don’t think that we ever said we were going to take music more seriously. Like Jeff said, we were always doing it anyway, we were just figuring out how to do it all the time.
PEV: And what can fans expect from a live Low Anthem performance?
Ben: That’s a good question. A lot of people don’t ask that. The live show is really different from the record in a lot of ways and it’s a pretty dynamic thing for us. We travel with about like twelve different instruments, some of them are stranger than others. Not all of us play any of them particularly well, but we play all of them a little bit. We rotate around. We have these songs that are at the core of what we’re doing and we try some creative arrangements to serve the song well. So a lot of the efforts is what is the perfect texture and instrumentation that will bring the song out. I think that’s what we evoke the majority of our time around.
Jeff: We’ve been able to pull off regular shows at venues and playing a different live show weekly, so audiences have come to expect a fresh take on each set. The fans have said that that is something they really have enjoyed. Each time they see us it’s something new; a new song or a old song played in a different way.
Ben: Some times we’ll travel as a folk band playing acoustic instruments, with a lot of arrangements and vocal harmonies, it’s pretty simple organic stuff. We have plenty of electric rock n’ roll songs too. Sometimes we’ll play a lot of rock n’ roll stuff depending on the venue. For example, we play the Rockwood Music Hall in New York and every week we try to insert a different version of ourselves – in a good way. But there is a folk set and a rock set. We never really tell people what they are going to expect. Like if someone says, ‘you gotta go check out this great folk band’ and then they were kind of confused (laughs). I figure for the people that most come out, it’s nice to do something different, something more creative.
Jeff: We think a lot about it, our live show and how to make it the best it can be.
PEV: Is there a certain city or scene to play that sticks out?
(Low Anthem laughs)
Jeff: We don’t like the hipster scene, we know that much (everyone laughs).
PEV: I say that because bands tend to play a certain venue and they get there and they are like, ‘this is NOT my crowd’.
Ben: We just came from New York, after spending a few days there and kicked around after we had our live show and did some work with a new producer. But we saw a bunch of shows in these trashy but elitist version of trashy bars; no names on the outside, looks like a rubble on the inside but in an obnoxious elitist way. We really don’t like that (laughs). There are a lot of really cool kids in New York and I don’t think we are among their ranks (laughs). We tend to have a little older fan base or at least it extends a huge age range. A lot of kids like our stuff and-
Jeff: I think we have the record for the oldest fan, he is I think 83. He’s one of our biggest fans.
Ben: He makes jokes but it is really true. We aren’t like the indie scene so much but we are not straight up the songwriter alley as well. But we are also not traditional folk either. Our music, at the core of what we’re doing, would never call ourselves traditional. We are just trying to make the best music for now… It just happens to be it’s song based music but not songwriter music, because there’s too much of the crazy stuff going on. And we’ll play seedier venues than most songwriters.
PEV: Do you guys have any pre-show rituals?
Jeff: I always do my pitching exercises… just in case I get the call.
PEV: Hey, you never know, you never know.
Ben: We work on our harmonies before every show and sing songs together to try to get our voices ready.
Jeff: I also do a… someone told me it’s the last pose you do in Yoga, where you lie down on the floor and do these breathing exercises.
Ben: Jeff eats a banana split after every show.
PEV: You guys seem to have a lot of fun together. What is it like on the road?
Ben: It’s hard to make touring profitable. What we’ve done is just taken a handful or markets and just toured around where we’ve known these people. It’s nice because we’ll go back and have this little community wherever we go. It tends to be our shows are attended by musicians. Our band is a musician’s band. It’s certainly not the music that is sold on the radio or have catchy hooks. I think in general, I think the listeners that listen to us are more interested in the song-writing and instrumentals that we do.
????Touring is great. I love hanging out with musicians. These guys and the musicians we meet on the road are just the best kind of people. We drink a lot of bourbon-
Jeff: The technique is called Shivasina! (Everyone laughs) I just remembered it.
Ben: A lot of touring is supporting acts for other musicians of for someone who works in radio. We regularly go across Massachusetts, Pittsburgh, New York, Providence and Boston. New Haven as well.
PEV: Do you think there is another band that we should be looking out for?
Ben: Chris Thile is well known for Nickel Creek and now is signed to Nonesuch records (the best label in the world). His new band “The Punch Brothers” is unbelievable. There record is called “Punch” is one of the most beautiful I have heard in a long while. “Annie Lynch and the Beekeepers”, they are a fantastic country/songwriter band; cello, mandolin, when that girl sings, it is just the most beautiful music with great sprit to it. Another band we love is “The Accident That Led Me To The World”, some country as well. It’s a crazy concept where each album tells a story. Those are two bands we really love playing with. Also Bob Iver, who just released a record on “Jagjaguwar”. He’s got a beautiful voice. Elvis Perkins too, he is just fantastic.
PEV: I have a copy of “What The Crow Brings”. What can fans take away from this album?
Ben: It is a very personal record. Jeff and I, just the two of us and Jocie is on the record but only in a small way. We did it all ourselves. The production is not top quality of production you hear in the studios. But it was a labor of love for over eight months. The songs on there, we’ve probably arranged five or ten ways before we settled on that recording. We really crafted it in a way too meticulously in some ways. It definitely comes straight from us. There is no filters, no one else’s ears to tweak anything. We’re proud of it, spent so hard working on it and we are now thinking about the second record. We almost lost our minds on this record… And a band member-
Jeff: And my girlfriend (everyone laughs).
PEV: Baseball, girlfriends, you are suffering for your art.
Ben: Hey, listen to this Richie. (Jeff pulls out a Tibetan singing bowl and plays it)
?????It is a Tibetan singing bowl.
PEV: Is that going to be on the next album?
Ben: We went into this shop, and there we all these bowls, we drove people crazy… We took every single one and started to play them. Everyone was very suspicious about what we were doing. It’s supposed to be a very spiritual ritual. It’s important to have a sense of respect for spiritual traditions… but it’s also important to have this on our next record (everyone laughs).
PEV: What’s something we’d be surprised to hear about the members of the band?
Ben: Jeff here is-
PEV: I don’t know if I want to hear this answer…
Alright, go ahead, lay it on me.
Jeff: Well, Ben’s dad is a philosopher…
Ben: Jeff is a baseball historian of sorts. Jocie, is a beautiful classical musician and composer… I don’t know, I’m not trying to fool anyone. I am also a fan of John Steinbeck but you’ve got to be a fool not to. I don’t what else that would surprise people.
PEV: So what’s next for Low Anthem?
Ben: Well, we’re working on our next album, which won’t be released until September. So we are working on that in between touring. We have about seven tracks finished but are still working on about twelve others. There is a radio sample that is going through re-mastering. And there is going to be a folk radio campaign based on that. I think this next album is even better. We really got to be artists and I’ve said all along that it’s about being in touch with the material. Also an extensive tour based on this one as well and some song writer series and college gigs. There has been a lot of growth this year, and based on What The Crow Brings and our audiences have grown exponentially. We all think that our next record will just be even better.
PEV: Alright, thanks guys for taking the time to talk with me today.
All: No problem, thanks Richie
For more information on The Low Anthem, check out www.LowAnthem.com