Today’s Feature – April 29-30: Richard Dana

April 30, 2008 at 10:06 pm (Today's Feature)

Talk about inspiration – Richard Dana, a self-taught artist and visionary, made quite the leap in 1984. Receiving a degree in Russian Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in International Relations from Johns Hopkin’s School of Advanced International Studies, he left work as an economist and Soviet Affairs expert in Washington, D.C. to jump into his real passion, and new full-time career in art.

Influenced by different aspects of art history such as the time of the Dadaists and Surrealists, as well as work from the Far East, Dana has turned a hobby into serious business, even finding a way into the elusive, often impenetrable network of professional artists (no simple task, considering the subjectivity of art work). Dana describes the meaning of his work as “as an inquiry into the dualities of life such as: emotion and reason; spirit and flesh; spontaneity and order; woman and man; the abstract and the concrete.” While dualities are often clear, Dana is more interested in the “gray zones where people actually live and dualities blend.” The key to success in this kind of work is the fact that Dana doesn’t specifically rely on one particular style to create. He simply goes to where the piece takes him.

His work has appeared in the U.S., in Belgium, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Taiwan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. Chances are you’ll also get your chance to check out his work in the near future (considering he’s been hanging around Washington D.C. as of late). While there’s a side chance you may see Dana on the tracks of NASCAR one day, it’s more likely you’ll see his latest commissioned work, “very colorful, complex, patterned backgrounds which will then be printed archivally on canvas, to be stretched.” Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: Richard Dana

PensEyeView.com (PEV): What is your first memory of your attraction to art?

Richard Dana (RD): Obsessive doodling in class in grade school. Thematically, if you will, I gravitated in my doodles toward the usual “boy” stuff: Tanks, planes, dinosaurs.

PEV: Growing up, which artists were you watching or interested in? Did anyone in particular help shape your style?

RD: Initially I was very taken by M.C. Escher, Victor Vasarely and Salvador Dali. As I think about whatever commonality these three artists might have, I guess it would be use of optical illusion.

I am a self taught artist who had a completely different career prior to taking the plunge into the world of “professional” art. When I took said plunge, one of my principal learning tools was studying art history. I found that the Dadaists and Surrealists were much to my liking, and in particular Max Ernst. because of his incredible dedication to experimentation with different styles and media. Somewhat contradictorily I also developed a great and lasting appreciation for the art of the Far East, especially Chinese landscape paintings.

PEV: Most artists face several obstacles when coming up in the art world. Tell us about yours, if any at all?

RD: As I mentioned, I had a very different career for 10 years before deciding to become an artist full-time (see below). When I entered the art world I literally knew not a single soul in it. The main obstacle was being outside the “network”. Networking is crucial for most professions, but perhaps more so than most for the visual arts, as the determination of the product’s value is so subjective. To be blunt: There is an incredible amount of bullshit involved in the business of art and networking is the fastest, most efficient way of spreading it around.

PEV: What is one misconception most people have about someone who is a professional artist?

RD: That it is not a “real” job. There is a pretty common misconception that being an artist is all fun and games. We get up late; we party late, we work when we want to. To the contrary, if an artist hopes to stand a chance of being successful he or she better take to heart Thomas Edison’s words: “Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration” (Percentages subject to some fluctuation.)

I also think that most true artists are never quite satisfied with what they do, which also cuts down on the purely fun and games aspect of the profession. There can be the sense that one can push one’s art farther; that one has almost got it, but needs to keep pushing on, and thus is never quite satisfied. A big danger for an artist in becoming self-satisfied is that he or she then becomes an artisan, churning out endless minor variations on a theme.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life that you realized art was going to be your full time profession?

RD: Brief capsule history time: Starting with grade school doodling, I’ve always been very visually oriented. As a result of an art class in my senior high school year, I decided I wanted to be an artist. The first year and a half of college, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I loaded up on art classes. The classes, however, seemed to me close to a total waste of time. I had a very clear idea of the type of art I wanted to create and felt the art teachers were not responsive to the way I was determined to paint (on the other hand I was very disinclined to learn from them). For some reason sophomore year I also took a course in 19th century Russian literature, fell deeply in love with it and became passionately interested in all things Russian.

After college I came to Washington, DC, to enter graduate school at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. I received an MA in International Relations, with a specialization in Soviet Studies. After graduation I worked for over 10 years in Washington as a Soviet Affairs expert. All through college, graduate school and my former professional life, however, I continued to paint: in the kitchen, on the dining room table, whenever and wherever I could.

I can’t say that there was a blinding flash of realization that what I wanted to be, rather than a Soviet Affairs expert, was an artist. But in a relatively compressed amount of time I began to realize that my real passion lay in making art, even as I was becoming disillusioned with what I was doing (this was during the Reagan Years, when US policy towards the USSR was all about military confrontation, with which I disagreed).

After quitting my Soviet-related job to become an artist, people would tell me that this was a brave career move. I would respond that the line between bravery and stupidity is a thin one. I knew next to nothing about the world of contemporary art, and I grew to learn that it is as byzantine and arcane as my previous profession, and a good deal more Machiavellian.

PEV: When you start to work, what kind of environment do you surround yourself in?

RD: I work the vast majority of time in my studio; past and ongoing work is all about, as are the tools of my trade. The one thing I almost always surround myself with is music, which has been a pretty critical component of my creative environment.

PEV: You’ve been quoted as saying, “My work is an inquiry into the dualities of life such as: emotion and reason; spirit and flesh; spontaneity and order; woman and man; the abstract and the concrete.” So, how would you describe your overall style?

RD: Those words reflect, to a greater degree, on the content, or “meaning” of my work, rather than the style of my work. In regard to the style of my work, both a great strength and weakness of my work is that I don’t have a set, specific, readily identifiable style.

One fairly consistent and fundamental aspect of my style, however, does incorporate duality; the vast majority of my work starts out abstract and then proceeds to representational imagery. Thus, if you will, the visual foundation of my work has this duality of combining abstraction and representation built in. From there I might proceed to address other dualities. Dualities are black and white, though; I’m more interested in the gray zones where people actually live and dualities blend.

PEV: Having exhibited work throughout the United States and countries such as Belgium, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Taiwan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. What was it like the first time you saw your work in a gallery?

RD: A certain amount of pride and satisfaction seasoned with anxiety.

PEV: In all your travels, which city (US or International) do you think offers the best art scene?

RD: The answer to this question depends on how one interprets “art scene”. I would say that, overall, I would gravitate to Germany (pick a city, although Berlin rocks). I very much like the German aesthetic in contemporary art, which is much darker than the American one. I think that, by and large, the best contemporary art is being made there. There is a good market. The artists are warm and interesting.

But if one interprets “art scene” as art community, then I found the best scenes in Moscow and the former Soviet republics (Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Tashkent, Uzbekistan). Perhaps I was predisposed to find this so, given my background, but what I found was almost like extended families which were very close, passionate, engaged and engaging, supportive and disruptive, and ultimately very embracing. As capitalism and market competition penetrate these cultures this sense of family is eroding.

But, very generally and honestly, most artists everywhere are pretty interesting and open people, and I have not really found a bad scene. Being an artist can be a bit like being part of a global fellowship slightly off the grid, if you enter into the spirit.

PEV: What kind of music are you currently listening to?

RD: Ah…. Music!!! A crucial part of my work routine and life. I’m going to have to try to restrain myself here. I listen to a pretty wide array of music, both old and new, all the time, but particularly rock, post-rock, reggae, dub, jazz, and blues.

Some favorites and recent listenings:

Rock and Postrock – Can, the Clash, Luna, Yo la Tengo, Sonic Youth, Stereolab, Jefferson Airplane, Los Lobos, Sigur Ros, Fountains of Wayne, Frank Zappa and the original Mothers of Invention, Thievery Corporation, Chemical Brothers, Massive Attack.

Reggae and Dub – Anything by the Dub Syndicate and all its side projects, the Suns of Arqa, Lee Scratch Perry, Burning Spear, Culture, Mickey Dread, Don Carlos, Augustus Pablo, Pablo Moses.

Jazz – Sun Ra, Pharaoh Sanders, John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane, Miles Davis, Soft Machine, Material.

Blues – John Lee Hooker, Muddy Water, Buddy Guy, Magic Slim, Magic Sam, Jimmy Reid, Butterfield Blues Band, John Mayall, Otis Taylor.

But above all – Neil Young: His whole restless, ongoing, varying output of brilliant music. A truly passionate artist.

PEV: Now calling Washington, DC home, where is the best place to catch great art?

RD: One of the great things about living in DC is access to the large amount of free museums which show a lot of great art. An excellent new addition to the scene is American University’s beautiful new museum, which exhibits in a very eclectic and offbeat way and which often features Washington area artists. For alternative spaces, the Arlington Arts Center is consistently interesting and the Washington Project for the Arts is getting back on its feet again. Washington is a conservative city, and the commercial galleries reflect this fact by showing very polite, conservative work. Somewhat contradictorily, a number of galleries also try to be “cutting edge” by showing both too many artists just out of school and too much mediocre and relatively tame videos and photos.

PEV: Is there an up and coming artist right now you think we should all be looking out for?

RD: In the Washington area no one immediately comes to mind, other than Dan Steinhilber, who is pretty young, but past the “emerging artist” stage. Dan’s a very clever artist and is definitely moving on up.

PEV: Which artist alive or passed would you like to sit down to dinner with? Why?

RD: For pure entertainment value, I’d have loved to break bread with Salvador Dali. Beyond that, though, a dinner with the fascinating contemporary German artist Sigmar Polke would be fascinating. His art seems the work of a brilliant, mysterious, omnivorous alchemist.

PEV: Concentrating principally on mixed media painting and drawing, you have also been moving into installation territory recently. Those are two rather different fields; do you find it hard to keep the balance?

RD: Not really, as I do so much wildly different work within the confines of painting and drawing. If anything, perhaps because installation work is still relatively new to me, I find that often I can access a playful part of my creative process more quickly and with less second-guessing than with painting and drawing. And I would suggest that a big part of creativity is focused serious play.

PEV: When you hit a creative roadblock, what do you do?

RD: Drink.

Just joking, more than less. I’m usually working on a few pieces simultaneously, so if I’ve stalled creatively with one piece I will start working on another piece which requires predetermined labor.

PEV: When you look at a blank piece of paper, canvas or space, before you begin to work, what is going through your mind?

RD: Fear.

Just joking, more than less. Probably more accurately, I would be thinking: “What lovely virgin territory to muck about in.” As I mentioned, much of my work combines abstraction and representation. With this work I always start abstractly; I try to create as spontaneously as possible and to allow the element of chance to enter into the creative process as much as possible . I love to experiment on a blank slate. For example: with a canvas horizontal I may pour all sorts of media on it (oil, acrylic, house paint, varnish, bleach, fabric dye, whatever), move the media around a bit, and see what happens.

The hard part is to figure out what to do next.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Richard Dana?

RD: Aside from general social deviancy, I guess that sports have been a major part of my life and that I’ve been a bit of a jock (although not in attitude). In particular, but not exclusively, I’ve played massive amounts of soccer. Unfortunately I’m advancing into decrepitude, and had to stop a few years ago.

PEV: If I were to walk into your studio right now, what would I most likely find?

RD: A conceptual piece about nothing. I’m literally just about to move into a new studio. I’ve been between studios for a few months and doing smaller work at home.

PEV: Being a self-taught artist, do you ever wish you went attended art school earlier on?

RD: On balance, no. I really enjoyed my studies. Coming to Washington to study international relations really opened me up to that big world out there. As a result, I think I have been more inclined and able than most Washington artists to take advantage of the international nature of Washington in creating opportunities to exhibit abroad.

I’ve also heard many of my artist friends say that they had to spend several years after graduating from art school to forget what their teachers taught them.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

RD: Generally with horror, as I’ve become such a bloatedly egotistical bore. Other than that, they’re happy for whatever degree of success I can claim.

PEV: So, what is next for Richard Dana?

RD: NASCAR!!! Auto racing has always been a secret fetish of mine, and I’m feeling a career-change itch coming on.

Unfortunately, before I make this career change I’ve got to finish a project I’ve just started for which I received a nice little pot of grant money. The grant money allows me to take my work to a slightly different place. With the help of a computer/printing whiz friend (who will get most of the money for her services) I am creating very colorful, complex, patterned backgrounds which will then be printed archivally on canvas, to be stretched. Then, taking a deep breath, I will attack the canvases with brushes loaded with paint and see what I come up with. This is a reverse from my more normal process of spontaneously creating an abstract field and thoughtfully place representational elements in it. For this project I’m thoughtfully creating abstract fields which I will then spontaneously have at.

For more information on Richard Dana, check out www.rdanaartist.com

Advertisements

Permalink Leave a Comment

Today’s Feature – April 27-28: Fiance`

April 28, 2008 at 9:58 pm (Today's Feature)

Some time in 2006, the pieces started to fall into place to form the Denver-based Fiance`, out of pure chance and luck if anything else. To put it simply, the group was “born out of the Internet and the Olive Garden.” Sounds like a pretty good story – the four artists coming together while waiting tables and looking for talent through Craigslist. So it may come as a surprise to learn that,

#1 – Their chemistry on stage and on tape is much more than acceptable. These guys sound like they’ve been together since childhood. And #2 – The amount of success they’ve had in such a brief period of time!

Releasing their first EP, “Girl from the Ivory Coast,” in March of 2007, the band had hardly been around for six months. Their opening offering opened to critical acclaim, and accurately reflected the foundation of Fiance`’s sound, “a piano-based mix of indie rock and brit pop… honest songwriting that includes complex character sketches to haunting accounts of contemporary suburban life.”

More is on the way through their sophomore EP, “Please Ambitious Please.” The collection is an excellent next step for Fiance`, further exploring the gritty side of their music, translating to a significant emotional landscape for listeners to respond to. The band hopes their music “can affect the listener the way their favorite music affects them.”

Fiance` performances are like living projects, always breathing, always growing, always changing. Every show brings on new lessons and new methods to more accurately portray their sound. You can catch the act even as the four musicians continue to write new material, touring extensively throughout 2008. That however doesn’t mean they won’t be back in the studio shortly – so keep an eye out for even more. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: Faince`- Michael James

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Tell us about how Fiance` first came about?

Fiance` was born out of the Internet and the Olive Garden. Patrick and Tyler met while waiting tables at the Olive Garden. I found Pat by chance through MySpace. I was (and still am) involved in a solo project, but I was sort of looking to start playing with a band again. After chatting over the phone, Patrick and I met up one evening in a practice room at his school and played through a few things Patrick had written. It seemed to flow pretty well so we decided to meet again and the next time we got together Pat had invited Ty to play bass. After playing together for a few months and going through a few auditions, we met Chris from a Craigslist ad. The truth is the way things came together was by chance and luck. I think we are lucky because not only is the chemistry in the band amazingly seamless, but also it seems like we’ve all been friends for a lot longer than we actually have been. I think that speaks to the chemistry and the connection we all feel to each other and the music we make.

PEV: Currently hailing from Denver, Colorado, what kind of music where you listening to growing up?

I listened to a whole variety of stuff. I am a few years older than the other guys so I grew up listening to stuff from the 80s. I listened to everything from The Smiths, and Tears for Fears to Metallica with some other bands (possibly of the late 80s hair band era) that shall remain unnamed to protect my pride. In high school I was heavy into the grunge/Seattle scene…everyone from Alice in Chains and Nirvana to Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots. I also started branching out and listening to older stuff like Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.

The Beatles were (and continue to be) a huge influence to this band…especially for Patrick and Chris. It sounds almost clichŽ to say that but it is really the truth. Patrick also draws inspiration from songwriters like Elliot Smith and David Bazaan. Ty tends to be a bit more off the beaten path…he is really into everything from Tool to barbershop acappella-style stuff.

PEV: Tell us about your creative process… What kind of environment do you have to be in to write music?

As a band we are always writing new music. When we are not…or when we are playing a lot of shows and we simply don’t have the time to write…we all get very anxious to get back to our little basement room and make new music together.

In general, Patrick will come to us with an idea for a song…maybe a lyrical idea, or a line or two of melody. In some cases he has come with virtually completed songs…other times it is just the seed of a song. In all cases though, the song in “Fiance`-fied” in our words. We tend to all throw in a bunch of ideas and in the end it usually sounds like a Fiance` song. The more we write, the more we are starting to write as a unit. In other words, these are not just Patrick’s songs with a backing band. We are truly creating the stuff together in a very collaborative and collective way. As time goes by…I think we will only do more of that.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Fiance` performance?

We try to be honest and sincere with our music…both in our recordings and our live show. I think that our show is in constant flux. By that I mean we are constantly tweaking songs and refining them not only for the benefit of the audience, but for us as well. We have songs from the first EP like the title track, “Girl From the Ivory Coast” that we have totally reworked and made it this epic live song. I think we all wish we could re-record the version we play live for the first EP.

Our main goal with the live show is to translate the emotion and the energy of the songs to the audience and to continue to get better. When it comes to our show, we have a motto, “We want to blow the audience’s minds.”

PEV: Tell us about your first performance. How have you changed since that first show to where you are now?

Our first show was at a club in Denver called Bender’s Tavern. Other than the obvious mishaps and sloppiness of a first show, it was actually not that bad. I just remember the energy of that night. We had literally been playing together for about six months before we ever set foot on a stage. Needless to say, we were out of our minds excited for it. The show went very well and the response was great. One of the bands we opened for that night was impressed that it was our first show, which gave us confidence that we were on to something. When it was all over, we just wanted to get up there and do it again.

I think since that first show we have really just found out who we are on stage as a band. That energy is something you develop and tweak over time. Our show is a lot smoother now as well…we transition from song to song and Patrick has become very comfortable interacting with the audience and engaging them. Like I said earlier, we are constantly trying to get better…ask me this question again in a year and I will probably tell you how much better we are than we are today.

PEV: What can fans expect from your highly anticipated sophomore EP “Please Ambitious Please”?

I think the new EP really spans a large dynamic landscape. There is the poppy up-tempo stuff like “I Don’t Want You Anymore” and then there is the polar opposite in a song like “Quiet Things.” We really tried to explore the emotion in the songs and translate it so that the listener had a moving response to the music. That is our end goal with everything we create…we hope that it can affect the listener the way our favorite music affects us.

I think “Please, Ambitious, Please” has a lot to offer…and it takes a few listens to really begin to understand the different dynamics of what is happening. But that is the best kind of music–the kind that grows on you over time until it is a favorite in your collection.

PEV: How is this different from your past projects?

Naturally, we learn from our mistakes. We all have a soft spot in our heart for “Girl From the Ivory Coast.” We were all proud of it when we released it. But at the end of the day, there are things that we wish we could have changed and things that we learned from “Ivory Coast” that helped us get closer to the music we wanted to make for the new EP.

With the first one, we felt kind of rushed to get it out. We didn’t have any recorded material and the pressure was on to put some out. We were also a young band, and I think the performances show it…we were still figuring each other out as musicians. I think that with “Ambitious” the songs are much more refined and cohesive. We were also able to spend a lot more time on this disc…tweaking stuff, re-recording tracks, to get it where we thought it needed to be. The growth that we’ve shown on this EP is significant.

With that said, we still want to do things better next time…and I think we will.

PEV: How would you describe the sound of Fiance`?

I think we are a piano-based mix of indie rock and brit pop. There is a huge British influence in our music…but we also have this very American honky-tonk piano thing happening in a lot of our music. We are constantly experimenting with intricate arrangements and orchestrations both musically and with vocal harmonies. In short, we hope our sound is “good music.”

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Fiance`?

When we take breaks from writing and rehearsing we do it by playing Frisbee. We play in parking lots, we play in parks, and we play on tour. Fiance` loves Frisbee.

PEV: The name of the band, Fiance`, is unique. How did you come up with that?

Our band’s name is actually inspired by a picture that was taken in 1976. It is the picture that we used as the cover of our new EP “Please, Ambitious, Please.” The picture is of a man jumping with all his limbs spread out…very joyful looking. The man was Patrick’s mother’s Fiance`. They did not marry…but the picture remained and 30 some-odd years later inspired the name of our band.

PEV: What one word best describes Fiance`?

Sincerity.

PEV: How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts?

We LOVE life on the road. The worst part is that we have to come home and go back to every day life. We all feel so lucky to be able to travel around the county (and hopefully some day the world) and play our music every night. Although we are cramped into a small little van and sleeping on floors, it is worth it to us. If we could do it constantly, we would in an instant.

PEV: In all your travels, which has been your favorite city to play (US or International)?

I think so far we have had the most fun in Omaha, NE. We have not had the chance to tour except for regionally around Colorado, but the people and response in Omaha has been fantastic. It is now on our list of places that we will play numerous times a year.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

For the most part, they have been so supportive. It is a great feeling when your family and friends support you in a career like music because it is so easy for them to take the stance that we are dreamers…or unrealistic pursuing a life in music. The clichŽ is to hear “when are you going to get a real job??!!” But everyone we know on a personal level has been truly supportive. The best part is that the people close to us really believe in us. We don’t have the pity support…but genuine backing from our families and friends because they believe in our music. We all feel really lucky in that respect.

PEV: What can we find the members of Fiance` doing in your spare time?

As I mentioned before, we love to toss the Frisbee. We also have gone on several bowling outings together…we are quite the ‘lane masters’ if you know what I mean. We also recently found our inner ‘old men’ and went to the driving range…I think that Fiance` could become a team of super golfers in the future.

PEV: Which artist would be your dream collaboration?

I would imagine that we would all answer this question a bit differently. But if there were one artist that would be a dream of all of ours to work with it would be probably be Lennon or McCartney. Obviously, working with one of those individuals will never happen…but you never know about the other. Anything can happen.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band you think we should all be looking out for?

We meet and play with a lot of great bands while we are on tour. On this last tour we met a band called Gazelles. They are out of Denton, TX…we were blown away by their live show. People should definitely keep an eye out for those guys.

PEV: What is your take on today’s mainstream music scene?

I think there is some great music being made right now. On the opposite end of things, there is some really watered-down crap too. The industry is in all kinds of upheaval. From a business perspective, I understand why the labels are less interested in artist development and long term “career artists” and more willing to sign vanilla one-hit wonders that can make them some money and be easily dropped when the spotlight fades. But the music that becomes mainstream out of that mentality really suffers because of that methodology. In the end, I think labels will still be around. It is hard to imagine exposing the world to music without some kind of larger marketing machine behind the artists. But the major label system that has been in place for decades now is fading fast. I think indie labels that aren’t looking to post massive multi-million dollar corporation style profits are the wave of the future. In my opinion, the smaller labels that take on only a few artists that they really believe in and treat those artists like family are the one’s who will build great music and careers that benefit both the label and the artist. I hope in that trend, the music will begin to be more of a priority again…not just the thought “Can artist X sell Pepsi products?”

PEV: Ten years down the road, where will Fiance` be?

I hope that we are still writing and playing music together. We want to travel not only in the US…but also around the world playing our music…and in ten years I hope we will have done that.

PEV: So, what is next for the band?

We are going to spend most of 2008 supporting our new EP through shows and touring. We will most certainly continue to write and not only “road-test” our new songs for audiences, but also begin work on our next recording. We don’t ever spend very long out of the studio environment.

For more information on Fiance`, check out www.FianceMusic.com

Permalink Leave a Comment

Today’s Feature – April 25-26: Fernanda Cohen

April 26, 2008 at 2:16 pm (Today's Feature)

Some of the savviest, most creative and thought-provoking images seen in the modern marketing era have come to you courtesy of our latest feature, Fernanda Cohen. Growing up in Buenos Aires and arriving in NYC in 2000, Cohen’s illustrations have been seen on the cover of The New York Times Magazine, and featured by The New Yorker, Target, Sony, MTV, Cosmopolitan and Harvard Business Review among others. The fact her work leaps from one environment to another so easily speaks volumes about her universal appeal – from the pages of the Harvard Business Review to the popular marketing antics of Target. Her illustrations have also received over 50 awards worldwide, including gold and silver medals from the Society of Illustrators of New York and Los Angeles.

Honing her craft at the School of Visual Arts, Cohen had a rough time determining her path upon graduation. She admits, often times art directors were unsure as to “where to put her.” Fernanda elaborates, “My work looked too arty to be categorized as illustration. I stuck with it though; I’m glad I did.” And after multiple successful solo shows, and other projects such as her own line of porcelain, it looks like Cohen will be sticking with it for a while.

Even as she continues to illustrate, Cohen is working on an idea for an animated TV show, as well as an animated feature film. Honestly, she seems to do just about everything, so keep the name Fernanda Cohen handy. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: Fernanda Cohen

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Tell us about how you first got involved with illustration. Was it always a natural fit for you?

Fernanda Cohen (FC): I’ve always liked to draw but I didn’t identify with the local bohemian art scene in Buenos Aires when I was growing up. I came to NY when I was 19, to visit my brother, and found out about illustration as a career option. I fell in love with it immediately, without really understanding what it was. Fortunately, my passion only grew stronger at SVA.

PEV: Growing up in Buenos Aries, what kind of artistic styles were surrounding you that may have influenced your work?

FC: I’ve spent my adult/professional life in New York, so I can only remember kids’ stuff from when I lived there. That said, I loved the cartoonist Quino (the creator of the popular comic strip Mafalda, which I used to copy all the time). His work continues to be a twisted, yet somewhat innocent, social commentary that everyone can relate to.

PEV: You moved to New York City in 2000, to study illustration at the School of Visual Arts. How has your stay in NYC been so far? What is your favorite part of the city?

FC: I’ll always be grateful to New York for having treated- and spoiled- me so well. New York and I are a perfect fit, as long as I can get out now and then, otherwise it can be overwhelming. I love Gramercy Park.

PEV: Tell about your earlier days in art, when you were just starting out?

FC: When I first graduated I was given a hard time because art directors in the illustration field didn’t know “where to put me;” my work looked too arty to be categorized as illustration. I stuck with it though; I’m glad I did.

PEV: What would we find if we walked into your studio right now?

FC: A bookcase with a nice collection of art and children’s books, tons of funky-looking toys, lots of stationary, plastic folders with my original drawings, dozens of pens, paper pads, art on the walls, my computer-related equipment, and a toaster that does not fit (because I don’t toast anything).

PEV: When you prepare to jump into a project/piece, what kind of “mind set” do you surround yourself in?

FC: I turn off anything that makes a sound, and I either go for a long walk alone, or take a shower (alone too).

PEV: What is your take on today’s modern art scene? The good and the bad?

FC: I’ve never understood what they do with all the stuff used in large-scale installations, which are very popular in the fine arts field, after they take it down; it seems like such a waste.

I think fine arts is overestimated.

PEV: If you could sit down with any artist – living or deceased, who would it be and why?

FC: Saul Steinberg, no doubt, because he was a brilliant communicator.

PEV: Who in on your iPod right now or in your CD player?

FC: The Flight of the Conchord’s song “If you’re Into It”- on repeat.

PEV: Is there an up-and-coming artist (any medium) that you think we should all be looking out for?

FC: I can only think of Tomi Ungerer, who is actually an old illustrator (one of my favorite ones) not many people know about, who was big in New York in the 70s and 80s.

PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to your career?

FC: Some of my old friends have stopped talking to me, which is fine with me. Otherwise, everyone in my family considers him/herself my biggest fan, and my friends are big followers and supporters too.

PEV: Tell us about the first time you saw one of your works hanging on the walls of a show or published?

FC: My first mainstream, published illustration was in the Book Review section of the Sunday Times. It came out the weekend after my graduation, so my entire family was in town. I remember running to the nearest deli to get The New York Times after midnight the night before; I felt so famous (thanks to Steve Heller, one of my all-times heroes).

PEV: What’s something we’d be surprised to hear about Fernanda Cohen?

FC: I photograph myself in my underwear for photo-reference.

PEV: When you aren’t working, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

FC: Out of New York, traveling with David, my husband.

PEV: What do you find to be the most challenging “problems” for you as an artist?

FC: To be as prolific as I wish to be and still have a life.

PEV: What advice can you offer to an artist who is debating whether or not to pursue a career in art?

FC: You have to really believe in what you do and be shamelessly full of yourself to succeed.

PEV: What one word, best describes your work?

FC: Bubbly.

PEV: Where do you think your work will be in twenty years?

FC: At the MoMA store?

PEV: So, what is next for Fernanda Cohen?

FC: My husband likes to joke that my next project will be my own line of auto-parts (because I want to do it all!).

I’m working on an idea for an animated TV show, followed by an animated feature film. It will take me a few years to execute it though.

For more information on Fernanda Cohen, check out www.FernandaCohen.com

Permalink Leave a Comment

Today’s Feature – April 23-24: Heather Levy

April 24, 2008 at 9:55 pm (Today's Feature)

The well traveled New Yorker Heather Levy seemingly has no weakness when it comes to putting a brush to canvas. This artist who has gathered inspiration from her travels through France, Spain, Canada, Mexico and Greece is garnering more and more attention for her work in drawing, oil, water color, acrylic, and even from her own original series, the RocketScience Series and the United Series.

Looking to the work of Dali, Chagall, Kahlo, and Picasso among others, Levy ended up at Emerson College in Boston, MA to study film after struggling with direction in higher education. She says, “I was encouraged to create without any concessions… I would often film my latest paintings or include them in my short films somehow.” She’s still creating animated art and experimental films along with her painting, working with musicians, the Basso Modern Duo to create films for their music and vice-versa, marrying two of Levy’s favorite imaginative mediums.

Looking more to her work in the studio, the United Series “responds to the notion that we, as human beings, are all united,” all a different circle interacting with one another. The unique circle designs “reminds us that the spirit of unity we feel with others is part of our natural condition.” The exquisite corpse is truly attention grabbing, even for the artists involved. The process calls for two painters to choose a subject matter with one painting half of a canvas and then covering it up. The second artist paints the other half and in the end, everyone is surprised.

Heather calls DC home nowadays, which makes sense: free museums are everywhere. Keep an eye out for more work from this artist, including a few children’s books with her illustrations. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: Heather Levy

PensEyeView.com (PEV): What is your first memory of your attraction to art?

Heather Levy (HL): I can remember being entranced when I was a child by two small Art books… one about Marc Chagall and the other about Salvador Dali.

I was freaked out and amazed all at once. Those books are now a part of my library and I still love to look at them.

PEV: Growing up, which artists were you watching or interested in? Did anyone in particular help shape your style?

HL: Growing up in NY I had great access to many Museums and Art Exhibits. Modern Art has always fascinated me most. The MOMA is one of my favorite museums.

I continued my obsession with Dali and Chagall. I was amazed by Frida Kahlo, Alice Neel, James Rosenquist, Egon Schiele, Francis Bacon, Vermeer,Picasso, Bosch, and Rodin.

PEV: Tell us about your earlier days in art, when you were at Emerson College, in Boston, MA.

HL: Emerson was a great environment to be an artist of any ilk. As a film major, I was encouraged to create without any concessions. I would often film my latest paintings or include them in my short films somehow. At Emerson I learned the Art of painting/drawing on Film which is still one of my favorite mediums.

PEV: Most artists face several obstacles when coming up in the art world. Tell us about yours, if any at all?

HL: The Art world is a tough cookie. Perseverance is key… One must become to used the rejection letters. I like to think that each “no thank you” brings me that much closer to my next “yes,” statistically speaking.

PEV: What is one misconception most people have about someone who is a professional artist?

HL: Many people think it is really easy to be an artist. Once a lawyer said to me, “Oh how fun it must be”…While, yes, there is great satisfaction in creating Art, it is hard work as well. I work 24/7… If I am not creating Art I am thinking of ways to sell or exhibit my work. If it weren’t enjoyable, there is no way I could be so dedicated.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life that you realized art was going to be your full time profession?

HL: Yes, I suppose that occurred while I was at Emerson. When I had first graduated high school, my father gave me two choices- “What do you want to be, a lawyer or accountant”, he was paying for my education so I felt obliged to choose one of these options. I spent a year at the University of Tampa as an accounting student and faithfully failed out. I spent a year at a community college to reassess my situation. While at the community college, I interned at an alternative radio station and really enjoyed it. It was a counselor at the community college who recommended Emerson to me. Once I arrived at Emerson, I felt a great relief and finally felt as if I belonged.

PEV: When you start to work, what kind of environment do you surround yourself in?

HL: I require a lot of light and will also light many candles… unless it is summertime and then no candles. Then I choose some music. Must have music!

PEV: You have shown work in drawing, oil, water color and acrylic, do you find one to more challenging than the other?

HL: Each medium has its own attributes. I love oil, but I was getting too many sinus headaches so I haven’t used them for about four years now. I look forward to using them again when I have a more ventilated space to work in… I love gouache. It smells so good I want to lick it! Acrylic is a joy as it is a lot like oils but dries faster. Watercolors will always be my friends.

PEV: In all your travels, which city (US or International) do you think offers the best art scene?

HL: That’s a tough one. It’s a toss up between Paris and NYC.

PEV: What kind of music are you currently listening to?

HL: I am a little addicted to Glenn Gould right now… specifically his Bach variations.

PEV: After living in New York and Paris, and now calling Washington, DC home, where is the best place to catch great art?

HL: All three cities are top notch for checking out a wide variety – classic through modern-of Art. DC rocks for its free museums!

PEV: Is there an up and coming artist right now you think we should all be looking out for?

HL: Check out Andrew Wodzianski… a very talented and cool artist.

PEV: Which artist alive or passed would you like to sit down to dinner with? Why?

HL: I would like to sit down and have dinner with Dali and Vermeer together. Dali idolized Vermeer and between the two of them I think I would learn an incredible amount… and be very entertained!

PEV: Tell us about your work with experimental films?

HL: Film is such an amazing medium. I fell in love with it at Emerson and am still awed by it. These days I don’t have access to professional equipment so I make due with the resources I have. Lately, I’ve been working with a couple of musicians (a stand up bass and piano player…Basso Modern Duo) where I make a film for their music or they make music for my films. It has been a great challenge. One of my favorite things to do with film is to paint or draw on it. Marrying my two favorite mediums… I like to paint my film and film my paint…

PEV: When you hit a creative roadblock, what do you do?

HL: Creative roadblocks are necessary evils. They give you time to reflect before you go back to that loss of sense of self when creating… I try to inspire myself by visiting a museum or gallery or look at my favorite artist books, websites… get the juices flowing again!

PEV: When you look at a blank piece of paper, canvas or space, before you begin to work, what is going through your mind?

HL: It varies… When I’m working on a specific piece i.e. a commission or portrait, then I will have done many studies and tests before the actual painting, and I will have mapped out the approach as well as the final composition… When I’m working on what I like to call my loss of sense of self paintings, I don’t even see the blank canvas… I turn to my paints and let them speak to me… Usually it is a color scheme that will start it and by the time I “wake up” there is usually an interesting beginning… It is then that I think about what I’ve started and elaborate from there.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Heather Levy?

HL: I’m quite the chameleon. I feel as if I have lived many lives in this one life. I have so many different experiences from which to draw from it can be a little overwhelming. I wish I had documented them all because now that I’m getting older, I think I am forgetting some of them!

PEV: If I were to walk into your studio right now, what would I most likely find?

HL: Besides a big mess and several work stations- as I like to be working on several paintings at a time, possibly my napping cat Charlie and me!

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

HL: At first most were quite dubious… Now they are proud and very supportive…

PEV: So, what is next for Heather Levy?

HL: Great things! I am about half way through illustrating a children’s book. I have a bambino on the way… Someday to have an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the Hirschhorn Museum. More painting!

For more information on Heather Levy, check out www.HeatherLevy.com

Permalink Leave a Comment

Today’s Feature – April 21-22: Lifehouse

April 22, 2008 at 9:10 pm (Today's Feature)

I’ve known about Lifehouse for years – from their multi-platinum debut “No Name Face” to “Stanley Climbfall” to the self-titled release to the latest, “Who We Are.” Hell, my x-girlfriend even called “Hanging by a Moment,” OUR song (and I liked the song!). So it’s a little hard to believe these guys are still in their 20’s, keeping in mind their years and years of success. But while we all know about Lifehouse, there is no better way to learn more about a band than seeing one of their shows LIVE. And not only were the guys from PEV catching a show in person, they were catching it at one of the most enthusiastic venues for Lifehouse, Washington DC’s 9:30 Club. The club had been sold out for weeks, and Jason, Rick and Bryce knew exactly what they were in for.

The group’s chemistry on stage is impossible to ignore, as the Capital crowd indicated with an incredible response. They went as nuts as any crowd can go for a show; it was simply a great atmosphere to be a part of. Fortunately, we caught up with the guys prior to the show to talk about the tour, habits on the bus and the newest record, ÒWho We Are.” The new album title makes sense – the collection gets back to the basics of what made Jason first form the band while still a teenager in suburban California.

It is the definition of an album that was made directly after the conclusion of a tour; the band already knowing how to fully play off of one another’s abilities and strengths fresh from the stage. As matter of fact, no demos were recorded prior to their work in the studio, “We just cut it, listened to it and realized it was pretty electric…the kind of song where you just turn up the radio.” This has ultimately led to an unreal energy level on every track – music you can blast with pleasure this summer.

The show itself is full of hits, and the guys are right. It is one BIG party. The tour will continue as long as fans keep clamoring for more (and do they ever), so keep an eye out for a show near you. Jump into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: Lifehouse – Rick and Bryce

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Alright guys, we are here tonight at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC. I know this is not your first time here, correct?

Bryce: No, we’ve played here quite a few times and played this club a few times.

PEV: What do you guys think of the DC fans?

Rick: We love the DC fans. Every time we’ve had a show here it’s been a big turnout and they go nuts. It’s been fun.

Bryce: This is one of the earliest sell out crowds we’ve had on this tour.

PEV: How do the DC fans compare to the fans from other places?

Bryce: Oh, wow, that’s uh… Well, maybe they’re better looking (Everyone laughs).

Rick: There are more sweet lids here than in many other states (Everyone laughs), I think.

PEV: Alright, sweet lids, I’ll mark that down.

Bryce: (Pointing to a movie on the tv in their trailer, of some fat, old man in a bath tub) Like that guy, sweet lids (everyone laughs).

PEV: You go to so many different cities every year, but is there one that stands out over the others? One that tends to be better for the band than another?

Bryce: Every night is different. As soon as we play one night we’re like, “That show was awesome!” Then we’ll go to another city and be like, “That show was awesome!” So it’s kind of hard to pinpoint. New York was a big highlight.

Rick: And LA!

Bryce: Yeah, LA. We’ve played a venue in LA called The Wiltern – sold it out. So, that’s been great. Every show has been sold out.

PEV: We’re on your tour bus right now, so tell us what road life is like for you? Does it toll on you?

Rick: It definitly weighs on you. Especially when you have been on the road for a month, then you get on stage and you get to play… I mean, that’s the easy part, that’s the fun. It’s the traveling on a bus with twelve other guys. It’s like a Kiss Army on here (laughs)!. It’s a locker room in here (everyone laughs).

Bryce: Yeah, last night I left my shoes out and I got a lot of shit for it… but I’m ok with it now.

PEV: What do you like to do to unwind after a show?

Bryce: We like to sit and talk about what we did on stage that night and make the set better. Try to pinpoint certain things. Sometimes we’ll watch a movie and have a beer.

PEV: What can fans expect from the new album, “Who We Are”?

Rick: Well, first off we went straight to the studio from the road. We had a great chemistry from touring for so long, we just wanted to go in with no music, no plans, just see that red light go on and play. We wanted to get ideas and start them and rapidly get an arrangement. The record has a lot of energy in it. We cut our records old school style. There is not a lot of the modern technology that we lean on. More trying to get a take out of it. It’s more live, more up tempo.

PEV: When you sit down to write music, what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in?

Bryce: Well for this record, like he said, we would just got in there with no plans. Jason would come in with his song idea, show it to Rick and Rick would put down a beat, I’d put down a bass line. It was very non-chalant. That’s the best way to come up with ideas.

Rick: We co-produced this record with our manager, Jude Cole, who is like family… he’s been there from the beginning. So, there was no pressure. It was like going in and making a record with a couple of your friends. And the label wasn’t whipping us or anything, so we got to make a record we wanted to make and gave it to them.

PEV: So going back a little bit, back in the day, when Lifehouse first started out – what was it like?

Rick: Well first off we were little kids (laughs) and we kind of sucked (laughs). I mean we had good songs but… well, we had all the vegetables for the soup but the soup wasn’t the greatest (everyone laughs). Too damn salty! (everyone laughs). The first tour we did was opening for Pearl Jam, on a side stage. It was Pearl Jam and Sonic Youth was the middle act, it was nuts being able to see those bands. But the song took off so fast that we were sent on this three year window and by the time we got off it was like, “What just happened? What did we just do for the last three years of our lives?” (laughs).

PEV: Do you remember the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio?

Rick: Yeah that was in Jacksonville, Florida, on our way to a festival. We didn’t even realize it at the time… I mean, that was when the song first started to blow up. We showed up to a festival thinking it was a small thing but there were 40-50,000 people! It was like “WOW! How did this happen?” But you know it is a trip, it is always a trip hearing it on the radio. You can turn it up and be like, “That’s us man!”

PEV: Rick, I actually have a quote from you, “We are closer as a band then ever before.” With that, what’s something we’d be surprised to hear about the members of the band?

Bryce: Wow, well, I guess I like to sleep (everyone laughs). That’s my thing. They call me the “mattress” because I like to sleep. Surprising? I’m trying to come up with a good one besides that.

Rick: That’s a really good question!

Bryce: Rick’s the cleanest.

Rick: Um, yeah… I’m neurotic. Yeah… I’m very OCD (laughs).

Bryce: He puts towels down on the hotel room floors so his feet stay clean!

Rick: They color those carpets certain colors because they know they are going to get way dirty (everyone laughs). I don’t care! I don’t want to clean it! I just don’t want it touching my feet (everyone laughs).

PEV: I’ll have to remember that. You found their secret. So, when you get to go home, how have all your friends and family reacted to your career?

Bryce: They’re all real supportive of it. We see family members all the time, in and out. They come out, have fun and I think it brings our families closer. I mean with my family, they come out together, party and watch a rock show, so it’s cool.

Rick: I have a real normal home-life. When I get home I am like planting stuff and doing drywall. My neighbors know I have a pretty crazy job because they see me on TV, but they know me as like the normal guy in the neighborhood, which I like.

PEV: Right now is there an up and coming artist we should all be looking out for?

Bryce: Wow, there are a few that we listen to all the time. There is this one guy, Ken Andrews, his solo record is really cool. He was the lead singer of a 90’s band called “Failure”. Also Silverchair is one of my favorite bands. They’ve been around for so long and don’t get as much credit in the US as they should.

Rick: You know Mute Math? They have taken musicianship to a level like… I mean, we were watching their DVD and I had to turn it off (laughs). We were like “I can’t even hang in their league!” I think I should just cash in my chips now (laughs).

PEV: So who is on your iPods right now?

Rick: I actually don’t listen to music on the road (laughs).

Bryce: You know, we play music every day and constantly working. But we go to radio stations for interviews and hear what is going on. In my case though, I’m a classic rock guy. I love The Stones, The Who, The Beatles, stuff like that. We are constantly listening to music, working as a radio band.

PEV: You said before that “the easiest part is going on live”. What can fans expect from tonight’s show?

Rick: By this point there is a good catalog of recognizable tracks. We spent a lot of time putting together a good show. It is an event now!

Bryce: A party… A BIG party.

Rick: It’s going to be a fun night.

PEV: Internationally, which place do you think offers the best scene for music?

Bryce: Japan.

Rick: Japan is pretty cool.

Bryce: Just a winner.

Rick: I like Amsterdam, but I don’t think bands played there when I was there.

Bryce: You just like Amsterdam (laughs).

Rick: Yeah, I do.

Bryce: It’s the world’s Vegas (everyone laughs).

Rick: (In an exaggerated announcer’s voice) The world comes to Amsterdam! Check out Amsterdam! (everyone laughs)

PEV: So what’s next for Lifehouse?

Bryce: We’re going to finish up this tour and still booking up more dates, even into summer and maybe into next year. We are hoping to go overseas, no word on when or how but we are going to do it sometime. We just put a song out on iTunes for Teen Safe Driving with Allstate and it is a great tune. We’ll make another record soon as well.

PEV: Well thanks for taking the time guys and good luck with the show tonight.

Rick: Thanks guys. That was a really fun interview.

Bryce: Yeah, thanks guys, we’ll see you out there.

For more information on Lifehouse and to see when they are coming to your town soon, check out www.LifehouseMusic.com

Permalink 1 Comment

Today’s Feature – April 19-20: Haale

April 20, 2008 at 1:36 pm (Today's Feature)

The Bronx-born Haale finds more than success through her music – she finds an escape, a relief, the guitar fitting flawlessly in her hands and around her body. Her songs can do the same for you – a calm, enchanting mix of classic psychedelic sounds with the melodious feel of Persian mystical that was first heard on her two EP’s, “Morning” and “Paratrooper.”

Of Iranian descent, Haale at first ignored the idea of including her Middle Eastern influences in her music. However, she found a connection in exploring that part of her life and has since seen most of the country as well as Europe, playing huge shows at the Bonnaroo Festival, SXSW, and the Mimi Festival in France. Through time, she has been able to adjust her seamless blend, learning from every artist she has the opportunity to collaborate with, including the talented Sean Lennon.

Her new album, “No Ceiling” is a collection that reflects a journey for Haale, becoming clearer and clearer as you listen on. The record comes out on her own label, Channel A Music, and “explores themes of transformation and evolution, singing in English and Persian through a riveting soundscape of percussion, psychedelic guitars, and soaring strings.” It also includes a sixteen page booklet with ink-drawn illustrations, live photos, lyrics and translations.

Haale is always touring, truly enjoying what she calls “a beautiful life.” The album has only been available for about a month, so expect a show near you soon. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: Haale

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Hey Haale, great to talk with you. Where’d I catch you?

Haale: We are Pittsburgh on our way to Cleveland and then onto Chicago.

PEV: How’s touring been for you?

Haale: Awesome. Touring has been great. We’re having a really, really good time.

PEV: What’s the best part about road life?

Haale: Just being able to play all over the place. It’s been great.

PEV: What’s the worst part about it? Is there a downside?

Haale: I don’t really feel the downside. I really really love it. I don’t like to be in one place. Even if it’s like a twelve hour drive to do a show that night. We’ve had one of them on the tour. But otherwise, it’s a beautiful life, I love it.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Haale performance?

Haale: They can expect to rock hard (laughs).

PEV: Has there ever been any embarrassing live performances or any that you wished you didn’t remember?

Haale: Um, I think that if there is one, I don’t remember (laughs)… I probably blocked it out.

PEV: Growing up, what kind of music where you listening to?

Haale: Well, I heard a lot of things growing up, in the house. Classical music, Persian traditional music as well. Other great, great, great Persian musicians too. There was also Beatles, Tracy Chapman, Bob Dylan. I had a pretty diverse experience when I was growing up.

PEV: Was there a certain point when you decided that music was going to be more than just a hobby?

Haale: I think I always knew that. I think ever since I was nine years old, was the first time I ever sang on the stage and knew that was what I wanted to do. But it wasn’t encouraged. I went on a detour for a while. I majored in Biology. Then a friend gave me a guitar and I started writing songs, then that was it.

PEV: Where’d you go to school?

Haale: Stanford, California.

PEV: You said you took a detour but got back into it. What where those earlier days like?

Haale: Well, I was pretty anxiety ridden then (laughs). I had so many things going on, which I guess was a positive. Once I got that guitar in my hand, I felt ready. I started to sing open mics and then developing from there. It was really a relief to start playing.

PEV: Tell us about the open mics.

Haale: It was very special. The people where very unique. Most people had other jobs but there was always this real pure love for songwriting that you could experience there. Beautiful, very tender.

PEV: How has your sound changed since then?

Haale: Well, I’ve been writing and working my music for a while now. You know, you get better the more time you sing and collaborate with other musicians. Plus when I first started, I was writing music in just English. Later I thought, “Wait I have this Persian culture that I have ignored for so many years”. I’ve been surrounded by so much Persian influence. I always wanted to do a song another way and rearrange them. I started working with Persian poems and just exploring that side of me.

PEV: What was your earlier life like in the business, when you were first starting out?

Haale: It was a lot of hustle. I mean I was hustling to get gigs, sending music out. Sometimes you’ve spend hours a day on the computer mailing things. It was difficult and took so much time away from writing. I was doing this all myself. I wasn’t even touring yet, it was just in New York. Then there was also the wonderful part in it of meeting other musicians and growing with them. It was a lot of multitasking.

PEV: Congratulations on the new album “No Ceiling” (now available). What can fans take away from this?

Haale: I think people can relate to it in many, many ways. I mean there is a really strong rhythmic connection in the album. Lyrical the message runs through the album. I think it’s beautiful. As far as the lyrics go, there is an image of journey in it.

PEV: How is “No Ceiling” different than other music out today?

Haale: Oh, I don’t know. I think you can tell me that.

PEV: When you sat down to write “No Ceiling”, what kind of environment do you surround yourself in?

Haale: There’s no one specific environment for me. I wrote it in different processes. Some with other people, just sitting down in the studio on the lower east side. Then sometimes, I’d take the lyrics and work on them by myself at my house. It varies.

PEV: What’s your favorite part about living in New York City?

Haale: That you can see anything at any time.

PEV: When you are not touring or performing, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

Haale: Playing music (laughs).

PEV: Well Haale, thanks for taking the time with us. I appreciate it and best of luck with the tour.

Haale: Hey no problem, thanks.

For more information on Haale, check out www.Haale.com

Permalink Leave a Comment

Today’s Feature – April 17-18: Virginia Coalition

April 17, 2008 at 5:12 pm (Today's Feature)

To a guy like me, Virginia Coalition has been around forever. Growing up close to the DC metro area, I’ve been listening to Coalition tunes since high school – my favorite? Green and Gray. Who can’t help singing along to “And then the rains came?” The group has always stood out as one of those “good time” bands, the kind you and your friends go to see when you just wanna have a blast. Truth be told however, Andy, Paul and Jarrett have been playing together for well over a decade. And while their early years were “absolutely blazing hot with energy,” the new Coalition has matured; “These days we take our passion and use it in the studio and in the songwriting sessions, making sure that we are saying exactly what we mean and in a way that is musically and emotionally dynamic.” Don’t get confused though – the energy is definitely still there.

The best way to check out this re-vamped Virginia Coalition is to give their latest album, “Home This Year” a listen. They describe it as “three lifelong friends who are looking to each other and looking inside of themselves to make their most sincere and mature record that will speak about life in the most musical and universal way possible.” Truly, these tunes all intertwine in a pattern that makes total and absolute sense. Andy, Paul and Jarrett traveled across the country to write the new pieces with some amazing talent such as Ari Hest, Anders Osborne, Maia Sharp, David Ryan Harris as well as Marshall Altman.

If you’re from the DC area like me, you understand what a Virginia Coalition performance is all about. If you don’t know what it’s all about, YOU MUST get to a show. These guys have the ability to play just about any style of music. And keep an eye out to see if Jarrett has pants on. He’s only taking one pair out on tour this time around… and occasionally his pants catch on fire (you’ll get some clarification below). They’ll be touring with The Beautiful Girls from Australia all over the place. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: Virginia Coalition

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Virginia Coalition has a long history of being a widely successful and well known band. Looking back at those very first shows the band did, how has your music styling changed since then?

Andy: In our very early years we were absolutely blazing hot with energy which was extremely exciting but not always the best thing for the listener. If you’re sacrificing tuning your instrument for a super sweet jump off of the kickdrum its time to ease up a little. These days we take our passion and use it in the studio and in the songwriting sessions, making sure that we are saying exactly what we mean and in a way that is musically and emotionally dynamic.

PEV: What were your first years in the music business like for the band? When you were first starting out?

Andy: Our perception of the music business or even of music as a business was somewhere between foolishly naive and utterly idiotic. We didn’t know an LLC from LLCool J and were desperately spinning our wheels trying to chase down every potential lead. It was hard being in a band for me in my early twenties, I was either disappointed or manically and absurdly excited about somebody’s second cousin who knew a guy who was going to make us famous. We were starting out long before Napster and Myspace were even in the picture. We had a mailing list that was…….drumroll……a mailing list!! We’ve all learned html and all that since then but we needed to play catch up on a lot on the marketing side of things.

PEV: Having all grown up together, what kind of music were the members of the band listening to? Do you remember the first concert you ever attended?

Andy: The first show I went to was Jane’s Addiction in the 8th grade. It was their Ritual tour and I thought it was so cool, Primus opened up for them and I almost got thrown out when I was crowd surfed onstage while Primus was up there. Sweet! We all listened to different kinds of music, Paul and me both had a fair amount of metal in our musical upbringing and Jarrett was a more of a Beatles, Smiths guy. I also was really into the Grateful Dead until college.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a profession rather than just a hobby?

Andy: About the time that I started and lost my second job waiting tables I realized that I’d rather make crappy money playing guitar than make less crappy money doing a job that I wasn’t any good at. Being a full time musician is a lot of work especially in the beginning but it really is a “if you build it they will come” type of a thing.

PEV: What is a live Virginia Coalition performance like?

Andy: You’ll have to see that for yourself.

PEV: Having a huge fan base in the college circuit as well, is there one college that sticks out as the best Virginia Coalition fans?

Andy: I’m not touching that with a ten foot pole!

PEV: You said, “We wanted to get back to that original creative impulse and focus on our songwriting.” With that, what can fans expect from your latest release, “Home This Year”?

Andy: They can expect to hear music from three lifelong friends who are looking to each other and looking inside of themselves to make their most sincere and mature record that will speak about life in the most musical and universal way possible. Something that is artistically speaking, the peak of the mountain that we’ve been climbing for ten years.

PEV: How is “Home This Year” different than others out today? As well as different from your previous works?

Jarrett: It is the first record we’ve made that i think is actually an album and not just a collection of songs. We’ve always had that goal in the back of our mind. And especially in today’s world of ADD attention spans it’s becoming increasingly important to have a great record, not just a few great songs and some less savory stuff! Kinda like kosher meats! What’s in your corned beef?

PEV: What happens when you hit that “creative brick wall” and feel like a song is just not coming out right? What is your method to cure that?

Jarrett: Stop Drop and Roll. It really is like having your pants catch on fire. You gotta get out of them as fast as possible and into some other pants that aren’t on fire. Then come back to those pants when they are completely extinguished.

PEV: Is there a certain environment you surround yourselves in when you sit down to write music?

Jarrett: Windows are good. Walking your dog is really good. I find that when locomotion takes over it frees up a part of the brain that makes words and melodies start happening.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

Jarrett: My father is always asking to borrow money so he can go to the race track. But seriously, we haven’t really noticed a difference in people at all. We’re well kept in check.

PEV: Having traveled everywhere, what city do you think offers the best appreciation for music? Why?

Jarrett: It’s nice going through smaller towns. You definitely get the feeling that you’re welcome. That said, pizza on any street corner at 3AM is nice too.

PEV: What is life on the road like for the band? Best and worst parts?

Jarrett: It’s as good as it’s ever been. With our new record we have stripped things down quite a bit. These are songs that were intended to hold their own alone on an acoustic guitar so it doesnt take many instruments to make them sound really strong. Less is definitely more. Less to load in and out. Less to get in the way. Less baggage, too. I’m only taking one pair of pants on the CD release tour. It’s always about pants.

PEV: Is there an “up and coming” artist or band right now that you think we should all be listening to?

Jarrett: Of course, but I’ll never say. Because then they’ll get all successful and “sold out”. Then they’ll make a concept album about time travel that no one will buy and then go to therapy together after one sleeps with another’s girlfriend… and all because we said the were up and coming. But I will say that it’d be cool if Neutral Milk Hotel made another record.

PEV: With a long list of names you’ve worked with, is there someone you have not had the chance to work with or collaborate with, that you would like to?

Paul: The list could go on and on. I could think of so many people for so many different reasons. If i had to pick one dream situation it would be to go into a studio with someone like Timbaland or Rick Rubin. Nothing else sounds like Timbabland. As an excellent engineer once remarked to me, “when Timbaland nails something, he REALLY nails it!” Throw in the fact that he’s from Virginia and you’ve got a really exciting situation with a lot of common ground to start from. Rick Rubin got down with The Beastie Boys, RUN-DMC, Slayer, Tom Petty, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers?! What’s next, The Vienna Philharmonic? If you helped make “Wildflowers” and “Licensed to Ill” AND “Hell Awaits” you’re alright by me. He really gets it.

PEV: When the band is not traveling or performing, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

Paul: Right now I’m reading “Team of Rivals” about Lincoln’s rise to the 1860 Republican nomination, taking my cats for a walk (all my neighbors think I’m really weird, but my little dudes demand it of me!), recording and mixing various things on my Pro Tools rig, drinking double bagged ginger tea, working out, watching the Food Network and my TiVo of this weeks “The Soup” , getting prepped to wet up some newbs in HALO 3 not to mention my new joint Rainbow Six Vegas 2, and checking out, on jarrett’s recommendation, The Helio Sequence! Ohh what will i do tomorrow?!

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Virginia Coalition?

Paul: That we’re not from Virginia. No, I’m kidding. Actually I was born in DC. I think Jarrett and Andy we’re born on Uranus?

PEV: If we were to walk into your practice studio what would we find?

Paul: Empty mugs with old tea bags, empty soy lattes, hilariously crappy practice amps, portrait of Marshall Altman done in a Fresco-secco with a Licked finish, and a grill for our tuna steaks, yum!

PEV: In one word, describe Virginia Coalition.

Paul: Toothsome Bastards. Oh crap, that’s 2 words. Sorry! You can just edit out the 2nd word and say “Toothsome”.

PEV: So, what is next for the band?

Paul: I smell a plug! Well, now that our new CD, “Home This Year”, is out (like major YAY!) we’ll be touring for the first time with a band called The Beautiful Girls from Australia. They have no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into. Must be to enjoy the rock n roll!

For more information on Virginia Coalition, check out www.VirginiaCoalition.com

Permalink Leave a Comment

Today’s Feature – April 15-16: Holly Long

April 16, 2008 at 11:08 pm (Today's Feature)

“The music is blaring, and it’s in me. And outside of me – it’s holding me physically captive. I’m moving my arms like a conductor – trying to be a part of what I’m hearing.” The music has always been there for Holly Long, so it’s no surprise to hear that artists such as Tori Amos and Counting Crows helped her maintain her sanity even as everything within her was failing and everything around her was changing.

In late 1996, Holly was unexpectedly rushed to the hospital with what appeared to be an intense case of the flu, but turned out to be “the beginning of a two-year, life-changing odyssey.” After falling into a coma, she was diagnosed with Endocarditis, a severe heart infection that turned her body against her will. But the music was always there, and in the end the experience helped her re-build a foundation and sharpen her musical focus; a focus that has led to a remarkable, critically acclaimed collection and the new album, “Leaving Kansas.”

The record is another step in Long’s artisan journey, having created these songs with a whole new multi-faceted approach: “a sonic environment that brings out the truth in every song” with a “warm Americana-inspired palate at the same time.” The collection is dotted with different pieces of American music, from jazz to rock to folk. Holly will tell you that while “Leaving Kansas” captures the spirit of her work, the best way to feel her sound is in person. There you’ll see that she’s capable of “singing songs like she did the day she wrote them,” absolutely giving in to every twist and turn in a performance.

“Leaving Kansas” is out right now, so check it out immediately. And look into becoming a Holly Long River Runner – once you hear the album, there’s no way you won’t be talking about it with every music lover you know. Get into the XXQ’s to learn a whole lot more.

XXQs: Holly Long

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How and when did you first get started in music?

Holly Long (HL): I remember it so clearly. I’m once again lying down on the living room floor – atop three or four couch cushions I’ve fashioned as a makeshift bed. I’m snuggled underneath my mom’s orange, rust and tan crocheted blanket (we’re deep in the heart of the ’70s, mind you) and my dad’s hi-fi stereo headphones are straddling my small four-year-old brain – perched on my ears like two enormous black beetles. I’m heavy into the soundtrack for the musical Oliver! or Carole King’s Tapestry or maybe Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life … Anyway. The music is blaring, and it’s in me. And outside of me. It’s in the walls, and the furniture, in the orange and rust blanket. It’s drowning everything else above and below me – it’s holding me physically captive. I’m moving my arms like a conductor – trying to be a part of what I’m hearing. And I don’t know it yet, but these moments are searing into my very core. I will forever grow up wanting music. To make it – to hear it – to be surrounded by it. To be it somehow. Even if I’m no good at it.

Now – when did I get involved in the music “industry?” That’s a much less profound story. I will suffice it to say that halfway through my twenties, I fell for and started seriously dating a sound engineer. I was a struggling actress in L.A. at the time, and had been writing songs purely as a hobby and creative outlet for about six years at that point. My new boyfriend heard my music one day in my apartment during our early courtship, and asked if I wanted to come into a real studio and make a demo. Two nights later, I walked into the Record Plant here in L.A. – sometime between major label sessions – and made my first four- or five-song recording (straight to CASSETTE) on a gloriously regal, ebony baby grand Yamaha. I could have played that damn thing all night. I was hooked again. And wouldn’t you know – those familiar, friendly black beetles were again cupping my ears the whole time. I guess I felt like I’d come home.

PEV: Growing up in Chicago, who were you listening to? Do you remember the first concert you attended?

HL: I was such a schizoid listener as a child and a teen. Not having any older brothers or sisters, I turned to my friends’ older siblings’ musical taste to mark the way for me. That’s how I got introduced in the ’80s to Crowded House and Cocteau Twins and Peter Gabriel and U2. Let’s see, there were also huge doses of Pink Floyd and Zeppelin (no doubt introduced to me by guys I thought were cute in their dark and brooding ways … though my dad listened to those bands, too). I had already been steeped in the great pop bands of the ’70s, like the Eagles, CSNY, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac and the Police. My teen years were a strange ’80s mix. Kate Bush and Art of Noise. Hitmakers like Depeche Mode, Duran Duran and Cindy Lauper as well as Bauhaus and Dead Can Dance. (I was definitely trying to impress some hot Goth dude there – back in the days before Goth was coined as such.) And though I know my first concert, technically speaking, was watching Air Supply on Navy Pier from the vantage point of my dad’s shoulders in 1978 or ’79, the first concert I bought a ticket to willingly was for Fishbone playing at the Metro in Chicago when I was about 15 or 16. And oddly enough, I was never a big concertgoer. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to feel comfortable on stage as a musician – though I had been acting on stage since I was 9, I didn’t have a whole lot of experience witnessing bands in my youth to give me a solid sense of what a good performance looked like…

PEV: Tell us about the first time you stepped on stage, live, to perform.

HL: I can’t actually remember the very FIRST time I stepped on a stage to perform – but it wasn’t musically oriented. My first piano recital happened long after my first performance in some church play or school play or something … certainly long after the various self-penned living-room variety shows I lured my family into watching over the years. But I always found performing to be equal parts nauseating and thrilling. Sometimes that’s still how I feel … Now, my very first GIG – that was when I was 24 years old and I got booked with my friend Seana – who was also starting to write songs on her little Casio keyboard and making demos just like me. She got us a gig at a little joint called On the Rox on top of the Roxy on Sunset Blvd here in L.A. I’m not sure how she got the gig because neither of us had hardly any experience performing: me … none – her … maybe one or two previous gigs. We played for about a half hour – so that would have been 15 minutes for me on my piano. I spoke very little in between, and the whole event was a huge blur – I just wanted to get through it so that nobody had the chance to come running up on the stage and pull me off with a big cane screeching “Imposter! Who do you think you are – a MUSICIAN?”

PEV: What is the best part about performing live on stage?

HL: I actually do find performing incredibly satisfying. And most of my shows I do alone or with only one of two other musicians – and those are lovely and intimate. The times I’ve been able to play with a full band have been really exhilarating – especially because I’ve been so blessed over the years to somehow play with the best of the best. It makes it so wonderful knowing you’re in good hands up there that you’ve got the freedom to actually inhabit your material and not worry about anyone keeping up with you. But the live show is where it’s really at with me. And when I was younger, I used to think perhaps I needed to come up with some tricks or more swagger, or comedy in between songs because how could my material itself be enough to engage the audience? But I’ve found over the years of many good, terrible and in-between gigs, the shows that really land – and make me feel so satisfied at the end – are the shows where I’ve just completely surrendered to showing up in the moment. Singing my songs like I did the day I wrote them – being pleasantly surprised at all the crazy moments that come up on stage – the unexpected gems of moments. That’s where the fun is, and the joy of live music – where the audience can really be a part. Because at the end of the day, the audience is just as important as the performers … it’s a symbiotic relationship in a live show. Everyone together is creating the mutual experience. Whether there’s three people, or three thousand in the room. And that’s something that you just can’t get from a computer screen, or even an HD TV.

PEV: In 1996 fell into a coma and was diagnosed with Endocarditis, a severe heart infection that threw your body into massive trauma. What was it like to go through and ultimately recover?

HL: I’m going to try to keep this answer as brief as I can. Because this experience so changed me – shook me up and started to rebuild my foundation – certainly beyond anything that had happened previously in my life up until that point. So, I could write a book. (Should I write a book?) First of all, I had no idea I had a genetic propensity for this disease. So when I got that sick so quickly, (in three days I went from perfectly normal to a fever of 105 to passing out completely) it felt like madness and mayhem. Like I was the sole losing side in some crazy war that was taking place inside of my body. And before I was admitted into the ICU at Cedars Sinai hospital in West Hollywood, I broke down almost completely – lost consciousness somewhere in my mother’s house – and had to be carried to a wheelchair before I was strapped to a gurney and the doctors struggled against time to find out what was wrong with me. It took them about 36 hours to diagnose my condition, which was luckily bacterial in nature – meaning it could be fought with antibiotics. And once they discovered that the strain was susceptible to regular old penicillin and amoxicillin, they poured liquid bags of it into my body through a tube going from my arm straight to my heart – which was where the infection had begun, and was the reason my entire body was now – inside and out – dotted with scabs of infection. I had an amazing team of doctors – the best of the best in LA – infectious disease, cardiologist, neurologist – no one had seen this condition in someone my age so dramatically. And of course, because I was placed in a teaching hospital, in addition to the torture of many routine procedures related to my disease and recovery, I was made to endure medical students entering my room at regular intervals poking and prodding me, naming lesions on my hands and feet, picking up my almost useless legs and making notes in their books. It was oddly interesting to be such an interesting subject to them.

The time passed slowly in the hospital. My stay was only just shy of four weeks in all, but it felt like a vacuous sticky eternity to me. After two weeks when the critical moments had past, I had physical therapists come to visit my room to teach me how to walk, write, move again. I had visitors – thank god – who saved me from my dull monotony of endless TV shows I had never watched before, hanging out with my mom (who was so loving and vigilant, but who by now was starting to annoy me) and sitting darkly feeling sorry for myself. I didn’t know when it all would end. I didn’t know what would happen when I got back out of the hospital – I missed my life dreadfully. I just wanted to walk down the street where I lived again. I missed my physical freedom – and I have never ever taken it for granted ever since. Well, among many things.

I’ve only scratched the surface. I’ve forgotten to talk about how listening to Tori Amos and Counting Crows repeatedly saved me from my horrific mood-swings during the day and gave me something to look forward to getting out for. I’ve forgotten to describe the amazing Haitian night nurse who frequently would change my sheets for me in the middle of the night when I’d wake from some watery nightmare literally in a pool of my own water. (Eew. Maybe you’re saying to yourself.) But her spunk and life force became something I craved at the end of every day just to keep myself from feeling as though this strange cellblock I inhabited would never unlock itself.

When I eventually got out of the hospital – there was so much more to face. So many more months of slow recovery to become again the vibrant healthy 26-year-old I had been before the disease. Bouts of severe iron deficiency that left me, again, in bed all day long – new, unbearable migraines while my brain healed its scars – weeks and weeks of administering my own bags of medicine at all hours of the day. Odd memory loss. Panic attacks in the middle of the night. In fact, my collective memory of that whole year is so steeped in sweaty damp fear. Panic that I might never regain all I was. Panic that I might get sick again. Panic that I was doomed and that the best of my life had passed me by and I had been too young and stupid to appreciate every glorious god-given moment.

Oh – and then there was god. And not God in some Judeo-Christian fashion – no. Though at 26 I was still barely on my spiritual journey – this sickness surely cemented my new relationship with the Glorious Everything – the unknown power of Love. God, some call it. I seriously was saved. By God – by Me – by Us – by the eternal force that lives and breathes in all things. And there is no simpler way to suddenly understand it than to almost die. There was no white light – no tunnel – no rising out of my body. All those early near-death moments are so murky for me – sick fever dreams and blackouts. And most moments during my recovery were spent feeling abandoned and so angry at God. Not questioning why this should happen to me, but realizing how inevitable pain is for every one of us, and that the human body is transitory – all of life is transitory. This left me feeling empty and rage-full toward a God who would create a group of beings who were forced to deal with the reality of this torture, one way or another. But at the end of the whole process, after some amazing moments of falling on the floor and getting myself up again in a matter of twenty minutes, of looking in the mirror with compassion at the wasted thing I had become and finding a beautiful white light of love in my own eyes, and of waking up many mornings just grateful to have woken up at all, there just lived and breathed in me a new faith that I had never had. A connection – a knowing that I am special. That we all are special – and it wasn’t my time to go yet. I still had things to do on this plane of existence. And so here I am.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Holly Long performance?

HL: Ha! I wish they could expect some really profound life-altering experience like the one I’ve just described. Well – let’s see – the last really great solo show I had a few weeks back – my fans witnessed me deliver a cover of a Billy Squires tune that I had half-memorized and la-la-lahed through half of (I got a standing ovation afterwards) … they saw one of my capos fall off my guitar during a touching two-capo-trick ballad and splash elegantly into the glass of wine at my feet (and I finished the song! I asked everyone if they wanted to hear the end of it and sure enough they did – so I finished!). If they’re lucky – they’ll witness me having to deal with some of those silly fabulous serendipitous moments that make up a great relationship between audience and performer. But even if the show goes smoothly – they should expect a real, intimate performance out of me. I’m all about trying to show up as much as I can in the moment and giving the audience a real shot as seeing the inside of my heart.

PEV: Tell us about your latest project, “Leaving Kansas”. 

HL: This latest CD is a new foray into more organic music for me. The production was carefully designed and poured over by myself and my producer Anthony JW Benson. We really wanted to create a sonic environment that would bring out the truth in every song, and paint a warm Americana-inspired palate at the same time. I’m very proud of this record – and grateful for all the artists and engineering that went into making this, my latest baby.

PEV: How is “Leaving Kansas” different from other albums out today?

HL: I know for sure how this album resonates quite a bit with other Americana-inspired singer/songwriters out there! I hear a little of my latest influences like Patty Griffin and Ryan Adams in there … but I do think Leaving Kansas is different in the way that we chose to incorporate a number of divergent American music influences and wrap them up in the same package. For example, “Sunday Redemption” is basically a white girl’s gospel song … “Cindy” is an Americana – rock song replete with smoking violin solo instead of the more typical electric guitar. “Homeward Bound” has a lot of blues/rock influence. “Softer Now” is held down with this beautiful rich jazz backbone. And “He and I,” “Broke Down” and “Too Much Mountain” are influenced by the whole ’70s folkie songwriter sound. So there are many pieces in here of what I call true “American” music – jazz, blues, rock, gospel, folk … a little smattering of everything for the palate under the “singer/songwriter” umbrella.

PEV: How is “Leaving Kansas” different from your previous works such as “Every Little Seam” – released in 2004? How have you grown from your earlier works to where you are now?

HL: My previous albums were a whole different ball of wax, I think. And my previous producer, Chris Horvath, is just stellar at creating the kind of sound we were after with City Girl and then Every Little Seam. In the studio with him we would mention artists like Jonatha Brooke, Paula Cole, Aimee Mann and Sarah McLachlan. I was really steeped at that point in my development as a writer in the whole “Lilith Fair” sound. (In fact – I was sad that my career wasn’t yet at the point where I could have actually participated in that huge musical movement spearheaded by the great McLachlan.) And I think those two albums echoed my attempt to root my own piano-based music in those familiar and emotive sounds that I was hearing on the radio back in the ’90s. My music has a much more pop/rock feel on my first albums – though the songs are no less straight-from-the-heart. They are simply my younger voice … certainly my voice before motherhood (City Girl primarily) which was a huge turning point in my writing.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

HL: My friends and family have been so supportive and loving over the years. My mom was in fact my biggest fan for all of my twenties (is that even necessary to say?) And it’s been really lovely to hear how those who’ve heard my music over the years can hear – and relate to me – how much stronger and more authentic they think my voice as both a writer and singer has become over the years. My life as a musician has been filled with moments both successful and less-than. As a result, it’s always been comforting to fall back on the loving words of friends and family when you need them the most, as much as it’s comforting to pick out of the crowd the beaming proud faces when you’re feeling on top of the world. I don’t think I’ve yet become successful enough for it to have affected my friends – my family – my neighbors! (Having been a neighbor of Julia Roberts and others for over three years I can tell you from vicarious experience – that’s a whole different way of living). Hopefully, one day I’ll be able to learn the joys as well as need to shoulder the burdens of increased visibility and success.

PEV: With all your touring and traveling, which city, International or US, do you think offers the best appreciation for music? As well which has been your favorite to perform?

HL: I have yet to tour outside the US, so I can’t really answer that question. Though intuitively I think the UK specifically will be a friendly environment for me to share my music … time will tell!

PEV: Who is in your CD player right now?

HL: Amos Lee. Cat Stevens (old stand-by). Craig Lyons (friend and local L.A. writer/producer/talent) Ryan Adams – pretty much never leaves my CD player. Iron and Wine – hearing for the first time. PEV: Is there an up and coming artist you think we should all be looking into today?

HL: That’s hard to choose. I know so many fabulous people here on the west coast – some bands, some singer/songwriters. Let me just give you a short list of a few people or bands I think for one reason or another deserves to have their fan base grow: Amy Cook, Sam Shaber, Shannon Moore, Craig Lyons, The Youngs, Paul Chesne, Matt Ellis, Christie McCarthy, Adrianne, Gregory Page.

PEV: On the day of a show are there any special rituals you have to do or superstitions you have for a good show?

HL: I used to worry that I didn’t have that ritual. In fact – I think a big part of my ritual was actually WORRYING about the show! In the last few years though, I’ve mostly been able to let that kind of stuff go. Usually – if I’m able to meditate and/or do some yoga sometime before a gig – I will be more in the flow – and it will go better. Other than that – drinking lots of water, eating a green apple to chase away the seemingly ever-present phlegm in my throat and being sure to eat enough are just the basics I need to do on the day of any show – small or large.

PEV: How has life on the road been for you? Best and worst parts?

HL: Well – I’ll answer this and the next simultaneously. Perhaps it might surprise my audience, new and old, to hear that I’ve hardly been on the road at all! Sure – I’ve done my fair share of gigs in Minneapolis, performed regularly in the Chicago area, had a long weekend in San Diego awhile back which was glorious, have driven up to the Santa Barbara area a few times to play … but mostly – I’ve played and played the Los Angeles area. From mid-size clubs where I do my full-band shows, to smaller clubs where I perform solo or with a small band, to tiny intimate coffeehouses, to house concerts, large and small, to live broadcasts, webcasts, outdoor festivals down the street from my house … school benefits, charity events, art galleries – you name it in L.A., and unless it’s the Hollywood Bowl, the Greek or the Forum, chances are I’ve probably played it. So – I don’t really know what the “road” is like for long periods of time. (I can only use my past experience as an actor in runs of plays for extended periods of time and knowing how fun and challenging that was to be a part of an extended family like that.) But – I would like to find out! Problem is – I’ve got a real family now. So if I were to go on the road for weeks at a time – there’d need to be a nanny – teachers – personal masseuse for me and my husband – only the red M&M’s…

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Holly Long.?

HL: See above!

PEV: When you are not traveling or performing, what can we find you doing in your down time?

HL: I honestly don’t have a whole heck of a lot of downtime because whenever I’m not parenting or attending to my husband and family/friends, I’m attending to my career, or playing music. However, I am lucky to have help (we have a full time nanny – thank goodness, or I wouldn’t be able to do any music at all). I’m able to do yoga, meditate, occasionally read books (I’m an avid reader … mostly populist best sellers. I feel like I read more impressive things in college, so I get to cheat now and just read what I wanna). I love movies, and luckily because my husband is in the industry, we get a bunch of currently running films sent to us as screeners around award times. So, I get to watch great movies, hot off the presses, despite the fact that I can’t make it out to the theater very often anymore. I still run and work out regularly. We spend a lot of time as a family with friends and neighbors. I try to get a little time each week to do NOTHING. (Though that doesn’t always happen.) It’s really important to maintaining my sanity. Most of the time I feel like I’m just barely balancing a lot of plates and wondering which one is going to fall and when.

PEV: In one word, describe Holly Long.

HL: Heart.

PEV: So far, what has been the most memorable part of your career?

HL: That’s the hardest question here so far. Honestly – I can’t say. I just can’t say. So I’ll throw out a few (that’s me – wordy to the end!) I suppose singing “Purple Rain” in 2005 on stage with St. Paul (who was a member of The Time and in the film Purple Rain) was pretty mind-blowing. I suppose witnessing the recording of and having Tracy Chapman’s rhythm tracks for New Beginning available for me back in ’95 to record my demo songs to was pretty singular. Getting supremely high with Hootie and the Blowfish in their producer’s backyard and then chatting about songwriting was kind of fun, as was almost kicking Jason Falkner’s ass at pool in the mixing studio … opening for David Crosby at a political fundraiser at the Troubadour in 2001 was excellent. But then really – the most poignant moments have been much deeper. Like when, during a fundraising performance, I caught a glimpse of the face of the concert’s recipient – a wonderful woman and mother battling so hard with her second bout of cancer. And while I was singing my song “Now It’s Time” for which the whole show was named, she smiled at me through weary, grateful tears and I could barely make it through the song for the beauty and sad tenderness of the moment.

PEV: What is next for Holly Long?

HL: I have already lead a really rich, full life and I hope to do more and more with my music. I want it to grow. I want to be challenged out of my comfort zone more and more. I want to headline at Red Rocks. I want to develop a traveling charity event like “Lilith Fair.” I want to play Carnegie Hall with a full orchestra. I want to know what it’s like to have throngs of people singing my words – knowing that I have touched them in some way. Knowing that all this struggle and doubt and fear has somehow been worth something. That my humanity is big enough to enfold others and ring true deep at the core. I want to meet my idols (list too large here to go into). I want to co-write with them. I want to make a difference. What’s next? Well – whatever steps lead me there. Or wherever it is I’m supposed to be doing to lead me wherever I’m supposed to be going – because god knows, I’m certainly not in charge of that.

For more information on Holly Long, check out www.HollyLong.com

 

Permalink Leave a Comment

Today’s Feature – April 13-14: North Col

April 15, 2008 at 1:11 am (Today's Feature)

The Baltimore-based band, North Col is a lot of things. They’re smart, talented, busy as hell and completely honest. To a lot of people on the outside, the music business looks like one big party. I mean, the credo is “drugs, sex and rock n’ roll!” However, the members of North Col had to take a few lumps to arrive where they are today – some shots that nearly put an end to their musical careers.

For years, the group toured as the band, Thin Dark Line, having a label-released album in stores to promote. After the tour, the guys took some time off, “because of the emotional, financial and relationship strains that they incurred.” It took about a year, but after everyone got their lives back in order, the band came back as they are today, North Col, with a very different mindset: Music this time was for fun; “A stress reliever, not a stressor.”

It’s with this attitude the band crafted the new EP, “Three.” The collection was recorded free of charge to the group, so in turn you can now download it absolutely free at http://www.northcolmusic.com. Not a bad concept, eh? The album is all about being who they really are, “they’re not trying too hard to do any one thing… They had a good time making this EP and they think you’ll probably have a good time listening to it.” North Col plans on getting some new tracks together while their drummer recovers from shoulder surgery (a bizarre snowboarding accident actually). Come summer, they’ll be hitting the stage hardcore – so keep an eye out. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: NorthCol

Penseyeview.com (PEV): How and when did the band first get involved with music and form as North Col?

North Col (NC): We formed years ago as a rock band called Thin Dark Line. After several years of touring around the country to promote our first label-released album in stores, we decided to take a long break from music-as-business because of the emotional, financial and relationship strains that we incurred. In June 2007, after about a year of rest and getting our lives back in order, we (Bryan Barnes, Mike Barnes and Brent Kaminski) hooked up with our very first drummer (Ian Dexter) and began to write some new music – this time, for fun. A stress reliever, not a stressor.

PEV: Calling Baltimore home, what kind of music where you listening to growing up? The first band that we all found to have in common was a love for the band Saves The Day. When TDL first started, we would cover a song or two to start practice. Over time, we found that we shared other influences like The Beatles, The Eagles, Thrice, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins and a variety of other bands. Each of us has his own taste, of course, but we manage to find some common ground in artists we like.

PEV: When and where was your first live performance? How have you changed since that first one?

Our first live TDL performance was at a video-game arcade (remember them?!) in 2002. Brent wasn’t even part of the band at that point, but we felt like we were kings of the world. Tons of kids came to our first show, along with parents and friends. Our first performance as North Col was last month and we were surrounded by some of our best friends. It still feels great even after all of these shows. I’d say we’ve changed tremendously since our first TDL show and maybe even a little since last month at our first North Col show. We’re mixing a few things up and adding a cover song for our second show.

PEV: Tell us about your EP “Three”. What can fans expect from it?

NC: “Three” is a result of the maturing of our style as songwriters. We recorded the EP in our free time at the expense of our friends. We didn’t pay for any of the recording, but we think it sounds top-quality. The songs are the first three that we wrote in a stress-free, fun environment. As a result, we didn’t think we could charge for something that we got for free, so we’ve made it entirely free at our website: www.northcolmusic.com.

PEV: How is “Three” different from other music out today?

NC: Maybe this is more about our band than this specific EP, but we’re not trying too hard to do any one thing or be anyone we’re not. We actually don’t even care if you listen to our music. We had a good time making this EP and we think you’ll probably have a good time listening to it. We’re happy to have you as a fan, but we can’t please everyone.

PEV: When you sit down to write music like “Three”, what kind of environment do your surround yourselves in?

NC: We’re usually joking around or fiddling at practice and then someone stumbles on something and we build from it. Then we just play for a while and maybe something will come out of it. Occasionally, one member will write and record an entire demo and bring it to practice, but that’s not the usual scenario.

PEV: What is your take on the current mainstream music scene today?

NC: There’s a lot of pretty cool stuff out there. There’s a lot of pretty uncool stuff out there, too, but the most experienced musician and listeners can find something they like about any piece of music.

PEV: How has your musical styling changed since your first years in music or over the years?

Obviously, everyone changes and matures and you’ve heard it all before on the Behind The Music specials on VH1. We just know more about music, what we like and don’t like. Some people may describe our sound as less-aggressive.

PEV: Tell us about the first time you stepped into a recording studio as a band. What was going through your head?

NC: We were so focussed on the end product: a CD of ourselves! We recorded 5 songs in 5 hours including mixing. We recorded with Paul Leavitt, who has gone on to produce some very successful bands and who still records / mixes for us today. Check him out! www.paulleavitt.net

PEV: What is “road life” like for you? What are the best and worst parts?

NC: Not that we’re ever going to go out on the road again, but by the time we stopped touring, we were a machine! We had every aspect of touring down to a science. We knew how to save money, sell CDs, eat, find places to stay and “make it!” Best parts are the times you share with your closest friends. Worst parts are the times you’re away from the people you love. And all the rest of it.. the emotional, sometimes financial and relationship drains.

PEV: In all your travels, which city (International or US) do you think offers the best music scene?

NC: Nashville, TN is a place we always liked, but for the most part, although people complain about their scene or think that another one is better, every scene is pretty much the same. We promise.

PEV: Who is currently in your CD player right now?

NC: Iron and Wine, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley

PEV: Is there an up and coming band that you think we should all be listening?

NC: North Col, probably.

PEV: Who would you wish to collaborate with that you have not had a chance to yet?

NC: Kanye West or anyone from the Wu Tang Clan… or Bill Murray.

PEV: What do your friends and family think about your musical career?

NC: By now, they’re all supportive. They better be. Why, do you know something? It’s my dad, isn’t it. He wants me to grow up and get a real job, doesn’t he?

PEV: What has been the most memorable part of your career so far? Why?

NC: Seeing Sean P. Diddy Combs while we were visiting our label in New York City. Why? Because he has seen JLo’s butt in person.

PEV: What is one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of North Col?

NC: We’re all single.

PEV: Where do you think the band will be in 20 years?

NC: In our memory, filed under “fond.”

PEV: What one word best describes North Col?

NC: YOU.

PEV: So, what is next for North Col?

NC: We’re playing our second show on 3/29 and then our drummer is going to have surgery to repair his shoulder which was recently damaged in a bizarre snowboarding accident. During his recovery, we’re going to be recording some new tracks and we hope to be back in the swing of things this summer with some new tunes and some new shows. Ya dig? Thanks for reading, babes.

For more information on North Col and their music (for free), check out www.NorthColMusic.com or at www.www.myspace.com/northcol

Permalink Leave a Comment

Today’s Feature – April 11-12: Redline Addiction

April 12, 2008 at 2:21 pm (Today's Feature)

Redline Addiction Let it be known – I love two things more than just about everything else: Music and Sports. So when I hear a band make a sports reference to leaving it all on the field, I’m more than pumped up to find out what they’re all about. The Redline Addiction, a Washington, DC band that pulls no punches within their music or during their performances, seems to have it down; “We leave it all on the stage every time we perform. Bottom line is we are all in this for the chance to perform, whether it’s for 10 or 10,000. We push it to the max.”

It’s hard to believe the current group has only been together since July 2007 – I mean, they did open for the Misfits this past October. But these guys (Rob Robinson, Justin Liberti, Justin Ganderson, Chris Mcvey and Neil Mutreja) each come with a plethora of experience in genres ranging from pop to punk to pure rock. There’s more to their success than that however – the Redline Addiction understands that there’s a difference between an artist and a performer. While the performers currently dominate the mainstream charts… the Redline Addiction is part of the charge to put the power back in the musician’s hands; to show that success comes from creativity, not from some pop-star recipe of redundancy.

Their latest release, “Goodbye Miss Dolly” is full of energy. The writing on the album “doesn’t fall victim to many of the normal pitfalls of songwriting, like trying too hard to sound Ôdeep’ or Ôintelligent’ or reaching for symbolism and metaphor. That’s not to say that the lyrics don’t have all of that, we’re just subtle about it.” The band is already hard at work on their next record, and has a bunch of local dates in the DC and Baltimore area coming up. Check them out and find your new favorite local act. Jump into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: Redline Addiction

PensEyeView. com (PEV): How and when did Redline Addiction first get involved with playing and writing music?

Redline Addiction (RA): We didn’t come together as Redline Addiction until July 2007. Individually, we have a varied background in music. Liberti, Neil, and Chris all played in bands, together and separately throughout high school (Wootton) and college (UMD: Neil & Chris; West Virginia: Liberti). Ganderson played in bands throughout high school (Norfolk, VA), College (Cornell) and law school (Miami, FL). I was mostly a choral singer who minored in voice at Wash U in St. Louis. I didn’t start playing in a band until my senior year of college, but had been involved in several vocal performing groups throughout my whole life.

As Redline Addiction, we all dabble in the writing process, though Chris did the majority of the writing on our debut album “Goodbye Miss Dolly”. Usually he comes to us with a basic outline of a song: root chords, verse/chorus/bridge, and he will have most of the lyrics written. From there, we collectively attack the song, giving our input and suggestions as we work to flesh out the songs. I was the last member to join the band. When I got up with the guys, they had already written all of the songs on the album. We sort of tweaked things a bit, especially melodically in order to fit my vocal range and styling, but for the most part the songs have remained in the original format.

PEV: What kind of music were you all listening to growing up?

RA: Again, this varies from member to member. Neil is a big fan of the classic metal bands: Metallica, Pantera, etc. but also has a strong passion for reggae. Chris and Ganderson tend to sway toward the more underground, indie, and punk bands, but were definitely influenced by the 90’s alt rock movement, particularly the Seattle grunge scene. Liberti was really into Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Collective Soul and others. Me, I’m taking my time with music. Growing up I was more into R&B, Hip-Hop, and Motown. In college I was introduced to classic rock and actually studied Dylan and the Beatles, in addition to falling in love with jazz and the blues (easy to do when you are in St. Louis). Now I’m mostly listening to Folk Rock and contemporary rock artists like Ray Lamontagne, Josh Ritter, and Ryan Adams. I also have a great passion for reggae and Electronic Dance Music, (EDM) specifically house.

PEV: What’s your take on today’s mainstream music scene?

RA: My opinion about artists is this; you have professional musicians and professional performers. A lot of what you could classify as mainstream music, the artists getting regular airtime, I would classify under professional performers. Obviously, they are accomplished musicians and I would never diminish their abilities, but their most important asset is that they have a strong grasp on the pulse of the market. They know what sells and how to sell it. But I would tend to argue that in doing so, some creativity is lost. The sound is more generic, more studio and less rawness, a more limited range of variance. I certainly think that the mainstream scene is missing out on a lot of tremendous musicianship and a lot of creativity. You’ll find a ton of gems on the side stages at festivals, that’s for sure, though it’s likely you will have never heard of any of the bands.

PEV: At what point in your life did you decide that music was going to be more than just a hobby for you?

RA: Well we are still struggling with that decision. We are all full time professionals who work busy weeks. We try our best to commit time to playing music and creating new music, but real life can get in the way sometimes. When you try to accommodate five different schedules, five different lives, it can be very challenging. Our main priority towards the end of 2007 was to finish the album and get it out in 2008. We have booked several shows for the spring and are looking forward to touring more aggressively during the summer. I think its safe to say that music is a very serious hobby for us, but as to whether or not we consider it a profession, I think we will have to reassess that after we get a chance to see what kind of success the album has and how well we get our name out there this summer. Hobby or profession, music is a priority for all of us and is the one medium through which we get to free ourselves of the normal chaos of everyday life. I know music will be a part of our lives forever regardless of where it leads us “professionally”.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Redline Addiction performance?

RA: Pure energy and fun. In sports there’s the old saying, leave it all on the field. We leave it all on the stage every time we perform. Bottom line is we are all in this for the chance to perform, whether it’s for 10 or 10,000. We love to play live music and I think that really comes across in our shows. Our music is raw and energetic, fast and aggressive. That’s where the “redline” came from in our name (that and as a little shot out to DC). We push it to the max. Another unique aspect of our show/our music is that because we all have various preferences and musical influences, our songs transcend many genres. We have songs that can appeal to many people on both the underground or mainstream level. You can hear certain influences in some of our songs, like “Arsonist” which resembles, and I use the term loosely because these guys are gods, but resembles a Metallica sound. But all of our music manages to maintain our own unique style, keeping it fresh and new. No matter what, our live shows are sure to get people moving and will have a little something for everybody’s pallet.

PEV: Tell us what it was like for you when you first started out. Before you were regularly playing gigs.

RA: Like I said before, we were primarily focused on getting the album fine tuned and finished so we could get out and start touring. It took some time for me to get accustomed to the band, since they had been together for about a year before I joined them in 2007. In addition, I did not have a personal relationship with anyone in the band, so there was definitely a period of time where we were just kinda hanging out, getting to know one another. Most of the songs were in their final arrangement, so practices were mostly spent catching me up to speed. But I have had a lot of performing experience and tend to learn music pretty quickly, so this was not as laborious as it could have been. Shortly after, we started playing shows in bars, doing cover songs as well as originals just trying to iron out our stage chemistry. After opening for the Misfits in October 2007, we felt we had come together and found our niche. After that it was straight to the studio and we spent the next few months perfecting the CD.

PEV: How is your style changed over the years, since you first started out?

RA: Well, we are a little new to really say that there has been a lot of change. I can say this though, we have the foundation for about 75% of the second album and there are some changes. The next album will definitely be a bit more melodic and varied vocally. The new songs are definitely more refined and incorporate more genres and styles. Chris has really grown as a songwriter and gets better everyday. Plus there will be writing contributions from every member on this album, which explains some of the variation. There is a lot of blending of new ideas and influences that will appear on this album, which in the end will show how diverse we can be as artists.

PEV: What can fans expect from the new album, “Goodbye Miss Dolly?”

RA: Goodbye Miss Dolly has a bit of a garage feel to it. There are a lot of energetic songs that get the people dancing and sort of exude our live persona. But there are also some neat little studio effects in there as well that give the album a little boost and add some creative elements which are not easily replicated in our live show, like the orchestra in “Haunted”. Its subtle but adds something. Thematically, I think the album is fantastic. The title, the art, the song order all really suits the music and makes a very cohesive finished product. As I said, Chris did almost all of the writing on this album. He’s a humble man so I have to say it for him, the man can write. He doesn’t fall victim to many of the normal pitfalls of songwriting, like trying too hard to sound “deep” or “intelligent” or reaching for symbolism and metaphor. That’s not to say that the lyrics don’t have all of that, he’s just subtle about it. A lot of the music is about the relationship between men and women. The songs cover a broad spectrum of emotion, covering generic, universal issues like failed communication, the struggle to maintain identity, resistance to conformity, and deception. In saying that, it sounds like this album would be depressing and dark. In a sense it is, but like I said, Chris has a subtlety to his writing that allows some of these dark feelings to be cloaked in irony and sarcasm. Some times the music creates a contrast to the lyrics, which sheds unique perspective on the lyrics. The lyrics might depict one picture if simply read with out music, but when coupled with the music, it takes on a new life. Often times the music offers a feel of retrospection to a lyric that is very much in the moment.

Then there are other songs on there that tackle sociological issues like “My Favorite Rival” and “The Arsonist”. “Rival” could very easily be assumed to be about the war in Iraq, lyrically it is pretty blatant. But the genius about that song is that it doesn’t necessarily take a position one way or the other. It more sort of begs the question, does man actively seek out a rival/competition/opposition? Its very Hobbesian in that sense – the natural state of man is competition. We, as in people, almost enjoy having enemies, hence “favorite” rival. “Arsonist” struck me in a similar way to Radiohead’s album title “Hail to the Thief.” I remember reading an article, I think it was Rolling Stones, but people were getting all caught up about the title being a play on Hail to the Chief and was Radiohead calling Bush a thief, blah blah blah. I’m not quoting but, essentially their response to this was that fear is the thief. Fear takes everything from a person, their decency and altruism, saps them of their strength, steals their ability to reason reducing us to animal instincts that we blindly follow. Well if fear is the thief, Hate is the “Arsonist”. Fear may steal from a person, but hate destroys them, it burns them from the inside out and leaves their lives unrecognizable.

Back to the original question…you will find all of that and much more in the album. The album is extremely playable from start to finish, has a great flow to it, and will challenge you emotionally, mentally, and theoretically to whatever extent you are willing to allow it.

PEV: In all your travels, what has been the favorite city to play and why?

RA: We’re working on some shows in St. Louis, Philadelphia and New York, but to date, the band has only really played in DC and its VA/MD suburbs. We have a big myspace following in Philly and its suburbs as well as in Baltimore so needless to say we are looking forward to getting out there and performing for those fans.

PEV: Is there a certain “up and coming” band or artist right now you think we should all be looking out for?

RA: Redline Addiction, anyone, anyone? No seriously we have a group of local artists that we are very proud to know and have a lot of mutual respect for. On the rock side of things we there’s local artists The Llyod Dobler Effect, The Speaks, Stella Mira (who is joining us for our CD release party on 3/28/08 at the Rock & Roll Hotel), Seattle’s J Minus, the New York based Sikamor Rooney (also joining us at the release party), the Hatch and The Gay Blades,, also from New York. Then on the indie scene there is Undercover Monks, based in DC. We also have a lot of love for the hip hop artists the Fif (DC based, playing the release with us), St. Louis’ DJ Trackstar, and LA based artists DZ Azeem and Abex. For all the EDM fans definitely check out DC’s favorite DJ duo aRk.

PEV: Tell us, if you can, the meaning behind the band name, Redline Addiction?

RA: Like I said before the “redline” refers to our aggressive and fast paced style. We play loud, we party hard, we’re none stop from start to finish. It is also an homage to our Maryland and DC roots. We all grew up on or near stops on the DC Metro redline. The “addiction” came from our commitment to music and our love for performing. The rush from performing your own original music can be intoxicating and certainly addictive.

PEV: How have all your friends and family back home reacted you the band’s success?

RA: Our friends and family have been a great source of support. They come out in masses to all of our shows, most never miss a show regardless of whether it’s on a Wed. night and 30 miles away or right around the corner. They are there for us through thick and thin. Our families and loved ones have been supportive of the late night practices and recording sessions, our regular absences from family gatherings, and the attitudes that often accompany the stress and exhaustion that comes with being full time professionals by day and rock stars, so to speak, by night. Whatever success we have already enjoyed or may experience in the future would not have been possible with out them.

PEV: How is road life for the band? Best and worst parts?

RA: Don’t have much to tell about that right now. Talk to me again after the summer. I’m sure we will have quite a bit to relate to you on that topic after we finish up our DC tour and start hitting the asphalt.

PEV: When you aren’t performing or traveling, what can we find the guys doing in your spare time?

RA: We came together at such a pivotal point in our lives so we all have very involved personal lives. We all enjoy watching other artists perform so you’ll probably catch us out in Baltimore or DC enjoying some live music. I golf. I guess the reality of the situation is that most of our spare time is spent promoting our efforts as a band whether that is through practice, organizing shows, or networking at local venues and bars. Otherwise our time is spent preoccupied with our “real” careers or spending time with our friends and family just relaxing and trying to catch a breath from our hectic schedules.

PEV: What’s one thing fans would be surprised to hear about the members of Redline Addiction?

PEV: What is a normal day of a show for the band like? Any pre-show rituals?

RA: For me, if the show is on a weekend, it’s usually spent doing as little as possible trying to conserve my energy and voice. If it’s on a weekday, then we are all at work. Pre-show rituals? A shot of whiskey and a “Whoa Bundy” minus the “Whoa Bundy.”

PEV: In one word, describe Redline Addiction.

RA: Combustible.

PEV: If you could have your “dream collaboration” with any artist, who would it be and why (living or passed)?

RA: This would probably vary from member to member. My dream collaboration would be with the Bob’s, Dylan or Marley or both. But as a band, I think we’d all be in agreement that playing with Metallica or Pearl Jam would be a dream come true. If I was going to generalize our sound I would say we try to blend the influences of metal and alt rock, particularly 90’s Seattle scene. I think it’s safe to say that both of these bands are at the pinnacle of their respective genres, both of which have been an enormous influence on us.

PEV: What has been the best part of the band’s career so far?

Opening for the Misfits has to be up there on the list at the very least for the experience of that crowd. Its amazing to see a band that has been doing the whole punk thing for that long still rock as hard as they do, and their fans really go at it. It was awesome to be able to open for a national act with some legacy and who has a sound and fan base completely distinct from our own. I wouldn’t have really expected that we would be a hit at the show, in all honesty. But I was really amazed at how many people actually came up to us and told they loved our sound. It was a nice validation that our music can appeal to people of all different tastes.

Finishing the album has to be up there. Having all of that hard work and time condensed into something tangible is a unique feeling. We have a physical embodiment of hours upon hours of dedication and sacrifice. On one hand its like all of that and all we get is this small plastic disc? One the other hand we have something that we can keep for the rest of our lives and something that we can give out to people all over the world. We gave a big part of ourselves to this CD, so in a sense, when people buy it, we are giving them a part of ourselves.

PEV: What is next for Redline Addiction?

In the immediate future we have these shows.

4.12.08: The Zodiac Lounge

4.27.08: Velvet Lounge

5.09.08: Saphire Cafe

We are planning to do some shows in Ocean City and the Delaware beaches this summer. We are definitely going to be heading up the east coast to hit up some shows in Philadelphia and NYC. We are also working on booking a small tour in St. Louis so I can hit up the old stomping ground. There are a ton of great venues and a great live music scene out there so we hope to start our push westward sometime in the late summer/fall time frame. Like I said before, the next album is actually pretty far along though still in its infancy. We would like to say that by this time next year we will have our second album complete and will be planning our second tour. Check us out at our myspace page myspace.com/redlineaddiction to keep posted about upcoming tour dates and album information.

For more information on Redline Addiction, check out www.myspace.com/RedlineAddiction

Permalink 1 Comment

Next page »