Jupiter One, the New York gang of electrifying punk-rockers are probably cooler than most of the people you know. I know they’re cooler than me and in all likelihood; they’re also cooler than you. Their story is worth your attention too – you can’t beat a plot that includes band members meeting in a circus, some marrying one another, and then all together making music that’s been compared to acts as good as The Cars and The Killers.
Lead singer K Ishibashi met guitarist/keyboardist Zac Colwell literally in the circus to start the foundations of Jupiter One, and would later bring on K’s future wife Mocha, as well as drummer Dave Heilman and bass player Pat Dougherty. Now they’re playing with unlimited freedom, capable of pulling sounds out of the air and putting them in an order that is more than pleasing to the ear. As they most accurately put it, their self-titled release is “percolating with the nervous energy of the Talking Heads, the stuttering punk-funk of Gang of Four, and the pulsating synths of the Cars.” You can find one of the tracks, “Countdown,” as part of the ever-popular Madden 08′ soundtrack.
Head off to a show if you get the chance as they support the new record, where you’ll see “a sweaty Asian guy in a jumpsuit, and a wagon full of testosterone with feathers.” Not bad. And keep an eye out for the next album – they’re already preparing. Dive into the XXQ’s to learn more.
XXQs: Jupiter One
PensEyeView.com (PEV): Tell us how Jupiter One first started out. Was it an instant connection from day one?
Jupiter One: As you may have heard, Zac and I met in a touring circus band. We were roommates, and we had a mutual love for the kind of music that keeps you up all night and gives you goose bumps. We ravaged the earth for all music good. We were lucky to find other musicians in NYC that shared our goal.
PEV: Growing up, what kind of music were the members of Jupiter One listening to?
JO: Mocha and I grew up as classical violinists, but we were always able to sneak the good stuff in. Zac’s a second generation musician, so he was schooled early on in the best of the best of jazz, old R&B, and rock and roll. He’s got original Stevie Wonder, Beatles, and Coltrane LP’s that his dad gave him. I’m always jealous. Dave (our drummer) grew up listening to solid drumming and percussion. He’s always dreaming about Stuart Copeland and John Bonham.
PEV: How has the sound of the band evolved from over the years?
JO: We first got together a while back as an experimental multi-media avant-garde group. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that we solidified our minds and our members into this more rock ‘n roll song splashed concoction. It took us a while to become comfortable using our “instrumentalism” to support the songs.
PEV: For K and Mocha, it is pretty unique that you are married and in such a successful band. Do you find this balance to be difficult at all?
JO: It’s a total blessing to be traveling together, but it can definitely be challenging at times. I think Mocha has a problem sometimes with the vulgarities that involve being a band full of single guys in a tour van.
PEV: Having had several songs used in several media outlets including EA Sports, Sci Fi Channel, and ABC to name a few. Did you like how the songs were used in their particular situations?
JO: We think it’s great. We don’t play video games or watch a lot of TV in general, so we haven’t seen most of the spots, but we’re thrilled more at the exposure that it brings to us.
PEV: Was there a certain point when you realized that music was going to become more than just a hobby you?
JO: I don’t think that anyone in our band has ever considered music to be a just hobby. We’re always scheming of ways to make new songs and music and how to get it heard.
PEV: Who have you not collaborated with so far that you would like to?
JO: There’s several producers of artists that we’re crazy about that we’d definitely like to work with. Dave Friddman (Flaming Lips and MGMT) and Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Air, Beck) are our heroes. we’re also way into Spoon and we’d love to work with Mike Macarthy.
PEV: In all your travels, which city do you think offers the best scene for music?
JO: Every large city seems to us to have a thriving music scene. Pittsburgh really stood out as a having a pretty interesting scene and friendly music loving people.
PEV: How has “life on the road” been for you? Good parts? Bad parts? Any favorite stops along the way?
JO: The road has been very good to us. We’re having a blast in almost every place we play or visit. We can come back to the same place, and it’ll be a completely different experience. It’s always great to see people really excited about us. We’ve tried to make some scenic spots out of this tour, including Yellowstone National Park and Big Sur in California. we’re always floored at how beautiful this country is. We rented a cabin in Montana for a few days and rehearsed. It was exactly like what a postcard from that area would be like.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Jupiter One performance?
JO: A sweaty Asian guy in a jumpsuit, and a wagon full of testosterone with feathers.
PEV: Before a show, are there any pre-show rituals you do or is just go out there and perform?
JO: Drinking, drinking and drinking. Maybe some vocal warm ups for boring married singer guy.
PEV: Any embarrassing or funny live performance stories?
Once I broke my guitar strap and I had to play it like a ukulele for the rest of the set. Another time Zac was so drunk he couldn’t play half the set, and I thought to myself: “This is what Roger Waters must have thought when Sid Berret had lost his mind to acid and couldn’t play the set”.
PEV: Is there an up and coming artist out right now that you think we should all be looking into?
JO: There’s this band from New York called ‘Apes and Androids,’ and we’ve been loving the hell out their debut album.
PEV: Who are you listening to right now?
JO: Let’s see… Supertramp, new Spoon and LCD Soundsystem album, MGMT, The Zombies…
PEV: Aside from music are there other areas of the entertainment or art world that you have an interest in pursuing?
JO: Maybe the adult entertainment industry. We can’t wait for a time when they are one in the same.
PEV: What is one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Jupiter One?
JO: We’re all vegans. It’s kind of hard on the road when there’s only S’barros and Wendy’s. Subway has been our savior. Although, I think they pickle their olives using animal fat.
PEV: When you sit down to write, what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in?
JO: It depends. For me, it has to be a totally comfortable environment of silence and nervous contentment. For Zac, I think he can create beautiful songs under any circumstance. Once he told me he came up with a melody while riding a roller coaster.
PEV: When you are not touring or performing, what can we find the members of Jupiter One doing in their spare time?
JO: A lot of catching up and wishing that we’re on the road again.
PEV: In one word, describe Jupiter One.
PEV: So, what is next for Jupiter One?
JO: We get our album released in stores in the US and in Europe this summer with two bonus tracks. Our song “Platform Moon” will be in FIFA ’09 from EA Games this year also. We also have a bucket load of great songs that we’re thinking recording later for our next album.
For more information on Karmina, check out www.JupiterOneMusic.blogspot.com.
Talk about a power duo – sisters Kelly and Kamille of the hard working pop group Karmina own a venerable wish list of accomplishments:
– At the ripe old ages of eight and ten, they enrolled in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where they took classes that included music theory, composition and classical voice training.
– Before things had even started to take off with Karmina, Kelly and Kamille were successfully competing in prestigious music competitions, including the John Lennon Songwriting Competition, ASCAP’s Lester Sill Songwriters’ Workshop, the San Francisco Concerto Orchestra Competition and the California State Vocal competition (which they won 27 times!)
– Both attended the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, and earned their Bachelor of Music degrees in Music Industry.
And if that wasn’t enough, Karmina could have very well never came into existence – Kelly was on the Olympic development soccer team and Kamille was singing classically; so well that Grammy-winning producer David Foster teamed her with Josh Groban to perform at several high-profile fundraising affairs. All of this is the long-winded way of saying that Karmina, one of the crown jewels of CBS Records, has the “chops” to stand on any platform with just about anybody.
A rarity today, the sisters write, sing, produce and perform all of their material, owning their success entirely. They pride themselves on music that “possesses a soulful, seductive embrace that tugs at the emotions without sacrificing the hooks, melodies and exuberant sense of fun found in the very best of pop music.” Their debut album, “Backwards into Beauty” defines the duo, crafting songs exactly as they originally formulated them, without over-production or overload from battling producers.
As you might imagine, Karmina expresses sincere passion during their live performance. The new record demands it. They’ll be on the road supporting “Backwards into Beauty” while writing new material for the next album, so check out a show near you. Jump into the XXQ’s to learn more.
XXQs: Karmina – Kelly and Kamille
PensEyeView.com (PEV): Tell us about how you first jumped into becoming musicians? Was it an instant connection from the start?
Karmina: We became involved in music at a very young age, starting with elementary school choirs and community musicals. Music went from being a hobby to an obsession.
PEV: Kelly was born in Germany and Kamille in Hawaii, then moving with your family to San Francisco and finally to Los Angeles. Growing up, what kind of music where you listening to?
Karmina: We’ve listened to all kinds of music… from the Beatles to Stravinsky. Some of our favorites include Michael Jackson, Toto, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Alanis Morissette, Third Eye Blind, and Bjork.
PEV: Tell us about your creative process? What kind of environment do you have to be in to write music?
Karmina: All we need to write music is our instruments. We could be anywhere-a hotel room, a bedroom, or even in the car! The more inspiring the better, but typically our inspiration comes from emotion and current experiences, not environment.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Karmina performance?
Karmina: Live karmina is a lot of fun because our fans/audience can get to know a little bit more about us as well as the songs! We are in an extreme giving mode: this is our opportunity to put on a show and express our music to the fullest, and meet our friends/fans afterwards!
PEV: Tell us about your first performance as a duo. How have you changed since that first show to where you are now?
Karmina: Our first duo performances were classical and musical theater duets. We then started singing cover songs, and filled them with harmony. Now we perform only original compositions. And we don’t look at our hands while we play our instruments any more!
PEV: What can fans expect from your debut album, “Backwards into Beauty”?
Karmina: Expect to hear songs that describe all the things you’re going through… A roller coaster of emotion!
PEV: How is “Backwards into Beauty” different from your past projects?
Karmina: We co-produced this album. All our ‘pop/rock’ lives we’ve been searching for a sound that best defines us. It was our chance to bring the songs to life exactly how we envisioned them.
PEV: Do you think being sisters gives you an advantage as a team to create great music since you know each other so well?
Karmina: Absolutely…..we learned music simultaneously, hence we understand music in the same light. Honesty is so important–we can be openly critical and complimentary of each other, which leads to the best collaborations.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Kelly and Kamille?
Karmina: If kamille wasn’t a musician, she’d be a secret agent. Kelly has a tattoo of an eighth note.
PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?
Karmina: In the womb! I think it was around high school that it just became a given. We had invested all of our time and energy into music, and it was something we were very passionate about. It’s what we loved doing most, and we were set on doing what we loved for our careers. It worked out well!
PEV: What one word best describes Karmina?
PEV: How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts?
Karmina: Life on the road is literally an adventure (check out our mini videos on our site for some of that fun!). Best parts? Well, meeting so many great people, visiting countess cities and states all over the U.S., performing up to four times a day, etc. Worst parts? The luggage!! We have to travel around with our bags and instruments, in a different hotel room every night, and we usually have crazy hours!! No time for jet lag!! We’ve had to learn to put on fresh faces and a great show no matter how tired we are.
PEV: In all your travels, which has been your favorite city to play (US or International)?
Karmina: Probably we would have to say New York. There is such an energetic vibe, and the city is very welcoming to all types of art. New York is colorful, and it makes you feel alive!! (not to mention all of the great restaurants!).
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?
Karmina: We have had nothing but support from our family and friends. If it wasn’t for their on-going encouragement, we wouldn’t be where we are today. They’re our biggest fans–go to all of our shows, etc.
PEV: What can we find both of you doing in your spare time, aside from music?
Karmina: Kelly has an affinity and talent for knitting scarves and beanies, and making jewelry. Kamille still loves to dance, and has been involved in a few local dance troupes.
PEV: Which artist would be your dream collaboration?
Karmina: John Williams (who spoke at our graduation for U.S.C.’s Thornton School of Music) and/or Timbaland. We’ve always wanted to collaborate with genres and artists that are very different from ours–it makes for a new and interesting sound. Both of these artists are so incredibly talented, and they have been revolutionaries in their fields.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for?
Karmina: Yes!! Keaton Simons, Sharon Little, Will Dailey, and PJ Olsson!! All amazing bands that are well on their way to extreme success!
PEV: What is your take on today’s mainstream music scene?
Karmina: It’s a tough time for music, but we feel as though it’s going to get better. There’s definitely a lot of average music on the radio, but there are still those quality bands that are carrying on the authenticity of music . It really comes down to taste. If the music moves you, then it’s doing its job! Because we’ve had extensive musical training, we tend to seek out artists who inspire us and challenge us to progress.
PEV: Ten years down the road, where will Karmina be?
Karmina: Touring around the world, collaborating with amazing fellow artists, having multiple top selling albums out, still writing songs like crazy, and making a difference…
PEV: So, what is next for Karmina?
Karmina: Promoting our debut album, ‘Backwards Into Beauty’, and writing album number two simultaneously!! We’re going to get our music out there–“we wish the world could hear”….
It surprised me to hear that Austin, Texas rocker Bob Schneider first came to fear our PEV hometown of Baltimore. The guy’s style, his music, hell his whole aura has that rugged folk-rock feel; the type of artist who only needs to pick up his guitar and boots in order to head out on tour. A bit of tough guy with a touch of madness. And while he did survive a plane crash, that isn’t the whole story with Bob Schneider.
Just check out his record, “When the Sun Breaks Down the Moon.” It’s an album with the pure, rough stuff – “I think of myself as an entertainer, a singer, a songwriter, so if anyone is looking for this kind of polished video product, they’ll be disappointed.” The work is honest, pulls no punches and apologizes for nothing. If you simply give the collection a quick sampling, you’ll hear Schneider flow from one style to another, all while keeping it tied together under one folk-rock umbrella with original lyrics and memorable riffs.
Schneider, who is also one of the most decorated singer-songwriters out of Austin (with over 30 Austin Music Awards), can wow you with more than just music. He designs his own album art, packaging, posters and even T-shirts. Just look into his web site, or go check out a few local galleries for his work. It’s impressive. And get out to a live show where Bob mixes it up on stage as more than just a musician. The man is there to entertain (just watch out if he starts mentioning something about crystal meth). While he’s not touring, he’ll be preparing a new studio record as well as re-recording the collection, “Lonely Land” and pulling together a new DVD. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more (and why Schneider now holds a spot in his heart for the home we call Baltimore).
XXQs: Bob Schneider PensEyeView.com (Richie:):So, where’d I catch you right now?
Bob Schneider (Bob): At home, in Austin.
Richie: Growing up, what kind of music were you listening to?
Bob: Country… a lot of country. My dad played hits from like the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. So a lot of that too. He played guitar as well.
Richie: Did he help give you that push into the music business?
Bob: He taught me how to play when I was three, but as far a career, no. When I moved to Austin to play music, he was not too happy about that.
Richie: That conversation didn’t go over so hot, huh?
Bob: Um, no. He wanted me to get a career. Then once they came and saw me and realized I was good at it, they have been supportive ever since.
Richie: Tell us about the beginning of your career, when you first started out.
Bob: It was pretty exciting, you know. Pretty fun. Especially when you’re starting out and it’s new and it’s not really your job, it’s your dream. It was cool.
Richie: Was there a certain point when you realized that music was going to be an actual career?
Bob: No, I was never going to do a “career”. When I was in college, I got the buzz to do it. I decided to move to Austin, try it for two years and see what happens. If it didn’t work, I’d try something else. I’ve been doing it ever since.
Richie: What college did you go to?
Bob: At that point I was going to the University of Texas – El Paso.
Richie: When you sit down to write music now, is there a certain atmosphere or environment you surround yourself in?
Bob: Um, well, I mean… I need to be alone, usually. The place doesn’t matter so much. Just a place where I can be alone to write.
Richie: What can fans expect from a live Bob Schneider performance?
Bob: Anything really. Hopefully, they’ll be entertained, that’s my main goal. I use a combination of you know, drama and comedy and stuff you can dance to, ballads. I mix it up. Some nights I lean to the funny stuff. Some nights I lean towards the dramatics. It depends really.
Richie: With goofing around, have there been any embarrassing live performances?
Bob: I might say something that seems “wrong” sometimes, because I think it will be funny. Like, Monday night I played a gig and I started talking about taking a bunch of crystal meth and chopping off my own cock. And I realized we had this girl who was playing violin, who was like this musical prodigy, she was actually on stage at that time. So, I was really embarrassed that I said that – Not that I was embarrassed about what I said, but that I said it with her there. I just forgot that she was on stage. That’s the only time I feel bad.
Richie: What can fans expect from your latest release, “When The Sun Breaks Down The Moon”?
Bob: What can they expect? Well, basically it’s just a collection of demos for songs I did. Most the times when I write songs, I’ll record it as well. I think of myself as an entertainer, a singer, a songwriter, so if anyone is looking for this kind of polished video product, they’ll be disappointed. But if they are interested in seeing the rough, kind of baby covered in that “juice” that’s covered on kids when they come out of the womb (laughs)… what is that stuff called?
Richie: I don’t know. Like the afterbirth or something. I’m having a daughter in the end of June so I’ll let you know?
Bob: No (laughs). When they pull the baby out, and it’s covered with “goo”… anyway, it’s like that. That’s what the songs are like. Is this your first kid?
Bob: You nervous?
Richie: Um, yeah, a little bit, so yeah. But excited!
Bob: I have a two year old boy and it’s the best. Well, that will be awesome, congratulations.
Richie: Thanks. Any advice for me?
Bob: Just know it’s going to be rough business, it’s not easy. But having said that, it’s all worth it. You may find it will be tough on your relationship. You may find that you are used to being the most important thing in your wife’s life. Now that isn’t going to be the case. Again, the kid is going to be the most important thing in your lives.
Richie: Does your son like to listen to you play music?
Bob: Yeah, I play all the time.
Richie: Think he’ll pick up the music bug as well?
Bob: I think kids, in some degree, become kind of what you are… but I hope I don’t fail as a parent (laughs)… to the extent that he won’t need to play music to be ok… which is what I do.
Richie: How have your friends and family reacted to your success?
Bob: They are all real supportive about what I do.
Richie: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?
Bob: I think that they’d be surprised to hear how mellow and normal I am. Where my music tends to be dramatic, crazy and I say a lot of crazy stuff. People tend to think I am this crazy rock n’ roll type of party guy, which is not the case.
Richie: How is life on the road been for you?
Bob: The worse part is being away from your friends and family and your town. But the best part is being able to play music… which is like a double edged sword. Which every time I can’t help but to think about the Louis CK bit about the double edged sword. You remember that?
Richie: I know him but don’t know the bit, tell me.
Bob: He’s funny, you should check him out on the web. But he was just talking about how everything is a double edged sword, even a single edged sword.
Richie: In all your travels, which city, international or US has been your favorite to play?
Bob: I don’t know, probably my home town. There are great cities all over to play. I mean, New York, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Madison, I mean the list goes on an on. But Austin is great. I’ve been lucky to have a lot of success here. So, probably Austin.
Richie: When you are not performing or playing music, what can we find you doing in your spare time?
Bob: Well, I try to spend as much time with my son. But then I work, I’m kind of a workaholic. The lions share of my time is working. But the little spare time I do have, I hang out with my son. If there is any tiny time I do have, I may catch a movie.
Richie: Ten years down the road, where are we going to find Bob Schneider?
Bob: My goal is to end up in Vegas, playing the Belagio, Ceasars, one of the those places. Two shows a day, five days a week, making the big bucks.
Richie: So, what’s next for you?
Bob: We are getting ready to record a polished studio record. We are re-recording “Lonely Land” which I can’t seem to get through to Universal Records so we are just going to go in and do it. And then we are working on a DVD, as well. Then just playing solo, which tends to be more mellow.
Richie: Well, thanks Bob that’s great. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today.
Bob: No problem, thank you – Hey, where you at?
Richie: I’m in Baltimore.
Bob: Baltimore! I love Baltimore. It’s weird because the first time I ever played Baltimore, we were loading out the night after the gig – first of all, I was scared to death of Baltimore (laughs). But we are loading out in this alley behind the venue which was poorly attended, years ago which is shared with another venue across the alley, but in the same alley where we are at and this door flies open! These dudes come out in like a brawl, like out of a f–kin’ Looney Tunes cartoon. Where everyone is just punching and cursing and pushing. I was just like, this is a rough, rough time. Then, a few years ago, we went back and walked around. It was really nice and really beautiful and the people were nice. It was great! Then “The Wire” came out and I love that show. I love that town.
Richie: Yeah man, everyone in Baltimore loves The Wire.
Bob: It’s a great show.
Richie: Well thanks again Bob, I appreciate it.
Bob: Take care.
When we first started PensEyeView.com, we dreamed of profiling some of the planet’s best upcoming artists, from the world of art, music, stage, anywhere creative work was being undertaken. The idea of having some of the ridiculously huge acts we’ve featured on here wasn’t even a seed in our heads, and today’s feature is no exception. O.A.R., the local guys who grew up right down the street are the pride of Maryland, DC and Virginia, and we were lucky enough to get some time in with lead singer, Marc Roberge.
Not to take anything away from the fine people of The Ohio State University where the band truly started to gel together, but we in the middle of the east coast (including the Baltimore-based PensEyeView.com) consider O.A.R. as one of our own, and we tend to stoutly defend such a claim. The band (otherwise known as � of a revolution) took college campuses by storm through some intense online music distribution with personal songs relating to both life at OSU as well as growing up in Rockville, MD.
Their story is remarkable, a feel-good tale about fine music naturally finding its way into the hands of great fans. Armed with nothing but talent – no giant labels, no huge PR firms, no marketing plan – O.A.R. grabbed the nations attention through classic word-of-mouth with funky tunes such as “That was a Crazy Game of Poker” and “Night Shift.” And this was all while graduating on time from Ohio State. Just imagine a handful of these guys running into your classroom late – playing in front of thousands one night and taking an exam the next morning.
The much anticipated follow-up to 2005’s “Stories of a Stranger” will arrive on July 15th in the form of “All Sides.” Roberge says “All Sides represents what we think is all sides of OAR� It tells a lot of different stories, from our own personal experiences – love, loss, all things we’ve gone through over the last ten years.” Have you heard some of the tracks off of this thing? Songs like “Shattered” and “This Town” explode with a sensation that can only be described as O.A.R. – booming with life and jumping with electricity, and always capturing the feeling of a live show that the band excels in.
I could write on and on about their music, but I’d be amiss to ignore their other work, namely their activity in Kuwait and Iraq on the USO tour as well as their “Heard the World Fund.” The band has always found a way to give back, and this fund focuses on education and children, taking 50 cents from every ticket sold and putting it towards educational initiatives everywhere. I’m sure you’ll be busy looking into all of the sides of O.A.R., but make time to grab the new album and catch a show, as they tour from June through Thanksgiving. If you’ve never been to one of their live performances, just picture “the heir to the Dave Matthews throne” for an idea of what to expect. I’m not kidding. Learn so much more below in the XXQ’s.
XXQs: O.A.R. – Marc Roberge
PensEyeView.com (Richie): Hey Marc, how are things? Where’d I catch you?
Marc Roberge (Marc): Hey man, things are good. Just working on making sure I can be a musician for the rest of my life (laughs). I’m at home now in New York, trying to get stuff done around the house before the summer rolls around – which gets real hectic. So, today we (my wife and I) are going out to get a new bed and possibly some new lighting.
Richie: Wow man, a pretty big day for the Rogerge family, huh?
Marc: Yeah well, I don’t get much time to do things like this so it’s always cool.
Richie: The tour starts in June right?
Marc: We’re doing some other stuff before then but then yeah, kicking off the tour then. Then doing another tour.
Richie: So going back a little bit to when you were in college at Ohio State, the band then, really started to take off. You were becoming a huge draw, people knew the songs and you were traveling all over… what was it like to balance school and the music career?
Marc: Yeah, I mean it was really hard. In high school we done it and put out a record and did shows. But when we got to college, we were required to travel all the time. So every Thursday to Sunday night we were on the road – In a van, somewhere in the Midwest or on a plane to the west coast. I just told myself, I had no choice, I wasn’t going to drop out of college, I only had a little bit more to go and I just really took the challenge head on. We’d find ourselves traveling back in the van with one light in the back, so only one person could study. I learned how to study in the back of a van, I learned how to study in the back of a bar, I learned how to study in all these weird situations and plus I was taking double the credits, since I wanted to graduate on time. We were definitely going on tour in May 2001, so it was either do or die. We had to get it done by then. I remember it being very hard but incredibly fulfilling. When I could show up to a class and do a test, or write a paper… I mean, my teachers knew my situation, they knew what we did for a living… they didn’t give us any slack but they allowed us to an “ok” to come to class a little late every once and a while.
It was pretty hard but the rewards out weighed the difficulty. It wasn’t something like I just wanted to get by. When you are doing something for yourself and no one else, you just feel better about it.
Richie: You talk about road life then, but what is life on the road like for the band now?
Marc: It’s a lot easier, I’ll tell you that much man. We have a couple buses now – we are probably going to take on a third. We’re more comfortable. A lot more flying. To get on a tour bus with your five best friends, I mean, these were my buddies from high school and college and it’s great. You go to bed after a show on a bus and then you wake up in another city. The hardest part is finding something to do during the day. I’ve started to run out of things to entertain myself. But you got to be creative and stuff. Being away from home is the hardest part – no matter what kind of vehicle you are in.
Richie: When you aren’t performing or touring, what can we find you doing in your spare time?
Marc: You know, I’m kind of like “Tim The Toolman Taylor”. I love the domestic life. I love being married. I love coming home and trying to fix stuff. I’m not very good at it all the time but I’m trying. I love walking my dogs. I like watching Americana TV with my wife. There is something just really cool about 6PM come along and sitting down to dinner with my wife and having a good meal, walking the dog and then going to bed.
I’m not into the nightlife. I’m not interested in clubs, I’m not in bars – I live in bars! I want to enjoy New York City in the daytime. I’m kind of like my father is; I like to play golf, be married and have a cup of coffee in the morning while I read the paper (laughs). A lot of people ask me, “Do you go to movie premiers and stuff?” And I’m like everyone else, I go to the movies just like you. I love suburban life in the city.
Richie: That’s pretty cool.
Marc: Cool, but some would say boring or even surprising.
Richie: Well, I was going to ask what’s one thing that people would be surprised to hear about you. I guess that is it. But what about the other guys?
Marc: We have a couple of guys who are married. But we are away so much, eight or nine months a year that the little stuff at home, means so much. We have one guy with a little three year old and like going home and mowing the lawn is a big deal to him. We have a couple guys like that and then we have some that are really into the social scene. Like your website is, we have a guy in the band that has a site called http://www.LookAtLife.com that is for writers and artists to go and be seen. He’s really into that. We let him handle all that. None of us are crazy partiers. We’ve done that and now it’s all about maintaining mental health – a way you can enjoy this job and have a good home life too.
Richie: With traveling, do you find a certain city to be the best for the band?
Marc: Yeah, I think Maryland, DC, Virginia is always a good time and a homecoming. A place like Chicago has become a great place to go too. New York has become a huge market for us but I think that is the kids from Connecticut and New York and Jersey to come to our bigger shows in the summer and winter. LA has become great as well.
Personally, I love being out west on the west coast – LA, San Francisco. Especially the weather. We’ll go out there to record a record but really it’s the weather (laughs).
Richie: Tell us about the latest album, “All Sides”.
Marc: All Sides represents what we think is all sides of OAR. It was written in situations and different locations; we were in Iraq for a USO tour and wrote songs there and when we came back. All the songs are all the sides of our collective musical influences. It’s something that has a lot of sides and that’s what the record is. It tells a lot of different stories, from our own personal experiences – love, loss, all things we’ve gone through over the last like ten years. It’s really culminated on this album.
Richie: How is it different than “Stories Of A Stranger”?
Marc: Story Of A Stranger was a real stepping-stone, it was a learning experience for us. We were experimenting with co-writing, which was new. That record allowed me to meet new people and write songs with them. It opened my eyes to take in other people’s ideas and talents and try to learn their skills. This album is different because I had that experience of going and working with someone else or just doing it on my own. I take what I learned and apply it to my own songs. This record was all about us. For this we wanted it to be just about OAR. I had a vision of what I wanted it to sound like and sound like us.
Richie: Is there a certain environment you have to be in to write music?
Marc: That’s a good question! I mean a lot of guys will sit in a room with a bunch of candles but… I mean today I was walking the dog and thought of a melody. I went home and jotted it down. You know for me, every time I set up the environment to write it doesn’t work. I prefer it to just happen. But I went with Glen Ballard to write and we’ll just sit around and talk for a few hours, drink some tea and if a song comes, it comes. It happens more often now.
Richie: You also have the “Heard The World Fund”, which focuses on education and children. Tell us more about that. What made you decide to take on this project?
Marc: We’ve always wanted to give back. I mean, everyone always says they want to and it’s true. You are given all theses great things in life and it’s your turn to give back. We really believe that and wanted to do it. So, we take money from every ticket sold, 50 cents and put it into a fund. Then over the year we find something that we feel passionate about and donate a large sum of money. Like “Classroom Wish List”, which gives teachers in areas and counties that don’t get paper, markers and stuff like that. Currently we put a bunch of money towards sending under privileged kids to private school for a year. We just believe that education is the key. Americans, we see the graduation rate dropping, and the interest in school dropping. We also like to support our guys overseas as well. We just feel like this is something we should be doing.
Richie: Tell us about the USO tour you did.
Marc: We went to Kuwait and then went to Iraq for a week. The weird thing about Iraq is that everyone is working. So, you’d have all these people around for a show and then something happens and they’re all gone. It was a great experience, as far as life experience goes. It opened my eyes to see all the work that people are doing over there. Doctors that are willing to help anyone. No one knows about the stuff they do and we got to see it. We were surrounded by all these warriors that put their life on the line, literally. I mean there was a rocket attack while we were there and two people died. It was a great experience but it’s something I hope I never have to do. I think that war is fundamentally wrong and these are just kids out there.
Richie: Is there an artist right now that you think we should all be checking out?
Marc: Well my personal taste in music is certainly not mainstream or cool (laughs). For me, Ryan Adams, not Brian, Ryan, is the end all be all for songwriters. His last album especially is filled with great songs. I heard of something yesterday that a friend of mine sent me and they are cool as shit, Vampire Weekend. I listened to it and they are really, really good. Also, Matt Nathanson is one my favorites. He’s like one of my best friends in the music business and co-wrote one of the songs on this record called, On My Way. Ryan Adams though is where it begins and ends.
Richie: So what is next for OAR and Marc Roberge?
Marc: A lot of stuff. We are going on tour from June to Thanksgiving pretty much. We have some shows with Dave Matthews Band. We have the album coming out in July. And basically we are just going to play until they tell us to leave, and then we’ll play on their front lawn.
Richie: I don’t think they’ll be telling you to go away (laughs).
Marc: I hope not, I’m getting ready to go out a buy a new bed soon (laughs)!
Richie: Good point man. I’m looking forward to catching you guys when you come to town.
Marc: For sure man, you got to come out!
Richie: Thanks again it was great talking with you.
Marc: Thanks for taking the time.
For more information on OAR, check out www.OfARevolution.com.
Some of the best musicians we’ve featured here on PensEyeView are just like sponges – they’re constantly absorbing everything, chalking it all up to experience, as well as to content. Content that is the stuff of great lyrics, great songs. Keaton Simons is always learning, and luckily for us, has every ounce of talent and more necessary to create some outstanding music – whether it’s through singing, songwriting or shredding up his guitar.
His well-crafted mix of Rock, Jazz, Blues and even Bluegrass have caught the attention of millions, especially when he performed with Snoop Dogg on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He’s also captured the attention of some the world’s top entertainers, from Coldplay and Chris Isaak to Gnarls Barkley and Mike Doughty and even worked with one of our favorite PEV alums, Josh Kelley, co-writing three of his songs on his popular new album.
And speaking of new albums, Simons new record, “Can You Hear Me,” just dropped this month. It’s one Simons can stand behind completely, one he’ll sign and send home with you with total confidence. With it, he says he was able “to get back to honest, straight-forward expression; a purity and dynamic that relied on the strength of the songs and not the added embellishment of the arrangements.” The warm, soothing tones of his live show are something to witness, and the good news is that his live performances have now become his main focus. Check out the show dates as he continues to support “Can You Hear Me.” Buy and the album and get into the XXQ’s.
XXQs: Keaton Simons
Pen’s Eye View: How and when did you first get involved with playing music?
Keaton Simons: I come from a family that has a great appreciation of music so I was always immersed in it. I’ve been singing since I could talk. Started playing piano when I was very young as well.
PEV: Was being a musician something you always aspired to become? Or was it just a hobby for you?
KS: I’ve never thought of music as a hobby, but I wasn’t sure about making it a career until I was around 14.
PEV: Growing up who were listening to?
KS: The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, The Pharcyde, Run DMC, and lots of blues.
PEV: Tell us about the first time you performed live on stage. What was going through your head
KS: I was always performing for people growing up. The first time I remember performing on stage was in 1st grade singing RAINBOW CONNECTION and I LOVED it soooo much!
PEV: What can people expect from a live Keaton Simons performance?
KS: Lots of love, warmth and guitar shredding.
PEV: Have there ever been any awkward or embarrassing times on stage yet?
KS: All the time! Come to a show and you’re bound to see something.
PEV: What can fans expect from “Can You Hear Me”?
KS: People can expect a very full and honest representation of me. I really wanted to be able to play a show and tell people with total confidence to buy my record to take ME home with them.
PEV: How is “Can You Hear Me” different from other work out today?
KS: It’s the only album coming out that’s mine. Hahaha.
PEV: Tell us about the time you appeared on Jay Leno’s TONIGHT SHOW with hip-hop icon Snoop Dogg.
KS: It was really fun! I love Snoop and really felt honored to play with him. Hope to do some collaborating with him someday.
PEV: Which artists are you currently listening to?
KS: Will Dailey, Trey Lockerbie, Lelia Broussard, Tony Lucca, Todd Cary, Josh Kelley, Curtis Peoples, Nina Storey, etc.
PEV: What up and coming artist do you think we should all be listening to now?
KS: Me (of course) and Tony Lucca.
PEV: In all your travels, which city do you think offers the best appreciation for music?
KS: That is impossible to say. There are appreciative people all over the world. It’s just a matter of gettin’ ’em out to shows.
PEV: How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts?
KS: I LOVE the road! The best and worst parts are moving through cities so quickly. It’s exciting to breeze through a place then move right on to the next. But sometimes I want to have a bit more time to get to know a place and the people there. I can fall in love with a town pretty quickly and sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye. Fortunately, I will always come back.
PEV: When you are not traveling or performing, what can we find you doing in your spare time?
KS: Mostly writing, recording, hangin’ with my dogs (literally; not slang, haha), hiking, etc.
PEV: What’s one thing, people would be surprised to hear about Keaton Simons?
KS: I’m not sure. I’m kind of an open book. You tell me.
PEV: When you sit down two write music, what kind of environment do you surround yourself in?
KS: Whatever is around! I love writing everywhere.
PEV: In one word, describe Keaton Simons.
PEV: How have all your friends and family back home reacted to your success?
KS: Everyone has been amazingly supportive and increasingly excited. I’m a lucky boy!
PEV: What has been the best part of your career for you so far?
KS: Learning about people, the universe and myself.
PEV: So, what is next for Keaton Simons?
For more information on Keaton Simons, check out www.KeatonSimons.com
NEW!: Get a FREE download from Keaton! Check out www.loudbytes.com and enter the redeem code: d21acd464dbc47b2
I guarantee that once you give Paper Rival a listen, you’ll find it damn near impossible to disagree with me when I say this band has more talent in one guitar strum than half the artists that currently reside on the American Music Chart’s top 50. Paper Rival appreciates every ounce of passion that goes into their work and their solid, loyal fan base is the best proof they could possibly ask for.
Their latest release, “Dialog” just hit the streets and is mix of elements both today and yesterday, “alternative rock with a folk twist. Each band member adding a bit of what makes them tick (as well as some of the essential pieces that make good music into classic hits). They dove back in time to find what moved them in their musical direction – Lead singer Jacob Rolleston says it’s like “when you are riding in your car with your mom and she’s listening to Jethro Tull and it’s embarrassing because she’s got the windows down. Then like 15 years later and you realize they are real awesome.
It’s a defining record for Paper Rival, one that shows their change in attitude, at least in Jacob’s case: “In the beginning I was always making music to only please myself. But as I got older I realized I wanted to make music to please others and myself. I’m doing more for myself by making music that others can listen to. There’s something for everyone on “Dialog, bringing in new sounds from the upright bass, the piano, fiddle, even some new synth additions. It pulls out the warm tones they aim to provide, tunes that get into your veins. These guys will tour and tour until they start work on the new album, so catch a performance. And hurry – they’ll likely be tackling Europe soon. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.
XXQs: Paper Rival PensEyeView.com (Richie): Hey, Jacob. Where did I catch you?
Jacob Rolleston: I am in my living room in Nashville, watching YouTube videos of other bands.
Richie: How’s living in Nashville? Do you like it?
Jacob: Actually, I don’t like Nashville. Everyone in my band loves it and hates the fact that I don’t.
Richie: What’s the scene like in Nashville?
Jacob: The bands here are phenomenal. It’s rough to play here because you have to impress everyone. It’s hard to do that. People are trying to do anything to make themselves noticeable. Even the bands whose music you may not like are ten times better than any other bands that are signed and doing the same thing. It’s just really a pretencious city. A little too much for my taste.
Richie: How did Paper Rival first come together?
Jacob: Well, I am actually from Chattanooga, Tennessee, which is about two hours south. I was in a different band and Patrick was actually recording that band’s record – that is how we met. He and the guitar player of his band came to me and asked me if we could form a band and then the others came together. That is how this band started.
Richie: It’s a rather interesting name for a band. Can you explain?
Jacob: We used to call ourselves Keating. But there was a Keating in Canada and their lead singer, it is her last name, so they kind of had it first. But you know, they were our “rival.” We were trying to get the name for everything first, like the MySpace and Pure Volume. We would get mixed up on paper for like contracts and gigs. We played in Edmonton, Canada one time and people came to us, thinking they were going to see them, so they were kind of our “rival on paper”. It was our way to kind of keep the Keating name.
Richie: That’s pretty cool.
Jacob: Yeah, we got it from the movie, “The Dead Poets Society.” That was the name of Robin Williams character’s last name. It was kind of annoying because they are an awful band.
Richie: Tell us about your first performance together as a band.
Jacob: It was actually really good because all of our old bands used to play together. The first show was very laid back and calm. We all felt like we were doing the right thing. It really felt good. I felt that everything meshed together like it should. I didn’t have that in other bands before.
Richie: So it was like an instant connection?
Jacob: Yeah. But some bands say that they had some kind of click from the start. I mean it wasn’t totally that. There were some speed-bumps along the way. After the first four or five practices it came together. After Cody came into the band, we knew immediately he was going to be our bassist. But up until our first show, it wasn’t like we didn’t get along, but it took that first show to prove that we were really going to do this.
Richie: Tells us about your latest release, “Dialog”.
Jacob: Our full length that comes out June 3rd, “Dialog”, on Photo Finish Records! For us it is about our influences growing up and our parents’ as well. Maybe when we were riding in the car and it sinks in. Like when you are riding in your car with your mom and she’s listening to Jethro Tull and it’s embarrassing because she’s got the windows down. Then like 15 years later and you realize they are real awesome. Then you realize you were some asshole kid for not liking it then. I would say it is a 90’s alternative rock, with a folk twist. Kind of Van Morrison and Dinosaur Jr. Even more modern groups like Indigo Girls. Kind of like a Todies, Breaders… A folksy mix.
Richie: How is this project different than your others?
Jacob: For me, it’s like an incredible change of pace. In the beginning I was always making music to only please myself. But as I got older I realized I wanted to make music to please others and myself. I feel like I’ve done that with this record and accomplished that. I’m doing more for myself by making music that others can listen to, rather than just making music for myself. If we’re not there, than we are getting really close. I really love this record. Everything about it just feels real nice.
Richie: You have a lot of touring coming up. What is road life like for the band? Best and worst parts?
Jacob: The best part is just having a good show. Ask any band, that is the answer. It doesn’t really matter how much merchandise you sell as long as you play a great set. The worst is when you are using your own money to pay for gas. The past tours we’ve done have not been moderately successful. We’ve just been out supporting other bands. We drove out to California with only three shows and not really making any money. With gas being close to $4 a gallon, we spent a thousand bucks getting there and back. Then we went from Nashville to New York without a show in between to get paid. That is the absolute worse part. It’s not 1992 when gas is a $1.40. Bands have to get paid. It sucks for bands like us and for local bands trying to get their name out there.
Richie: That’s a good point; gas prices affecting the music business.
Jacob: Gas prices the way they are are killing bands. I mean, I speak from experience. On a regular night, Paper Rival gets $100 a night, I’m not ashamed to say it. There is no reason right now for a promoter to pay us any more and we understand that. But if the next show is more than 4 hours away then we’ve already spent our entire pay for the next show. So, if we have two shows in a row, we start spending money that we owe people, plus losing money, plus… It just adds up.
Richie: Has there been a certain city that has been the best for the band?
Jacob: My favorite cities are Seattle and Portland. No matter how the shows went, just the feeling of being there meant so much to me. I have a little bit of family in Seattle, so it is nice. It is just so beautiful. Just the normal cities to play, like New York, LA are always great.
Richie: In your spare time, what can we find you doing?
Jacob: Well, we pretty much all work in our spare time. With the gas prices the way they are, we have to. I work in a mall. My girlfriend manages a clothing store in a mall and I work there, kind of doing stock (laughs). Brett does carpet, Cody paints, we all have normal, every day jobs when we are home.
Richie: Is there an up and coming band right now we should all be looking out for?
Jacob: I wouldn’t say “looking out for” only because I don’t think they want to be popular, “Why?”. They are just an incredible band. Kind of like Soul Coughing and Cake. But more indie then that.
Richie: Ten years down the road, where do you see the band?
Jacob: I honestly don’t know. We all want to see this band succeed but we all want other things in life. So, I mean, hopefully I’ll still be making music down the road with this band. But I would like to get an English degree and teach high school or something. I still want be making music with this band for sure.
Richie: So what is next for Paper Rival?
Jacob: Just getting this record out and touring our asses off. Other than making another record in a year or so, we are going to be touring the country and possibly Europe.
Richie: Well thanks man, I appreciate you taking the time with me.
Jacob: Hey man, thanks.
For more information on Paper Rival, check out www.PaperRival.com band info and links to their MySpace and Pure Volume pages.
In just about every PensEyeView interview, we ask our guest, “What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?” A tough question on the fly no doubt, but Howard gave my favorite answer to date (likely due to my partial obsession with He-Man): “That as a five year old I was kicked out of ballet class for running around in circles screaming ‘HE-MAN, HE-MAN!'” That’s when I knew I was going to like Nick Howard. The fact is music is quality stuff helps too.
Coming from across the pond, this UK native is the best kind of artist Ð one that truly trusts his own material. Moving to New York City in 2004, with no family or connections, Howard took to the streets without a dime to his name on a mission to establish himself. And he’s done just that. Opening for Jack Johnson in the summer of 2005 at the famous Gorge Amphitheater in Washington, Howard then caught the attention of Jamie Siegel (Joss Stone, Lauren Hill, Dashboard, Santana) and the two subsequently produced his first full-length album “Something to Talk About.” The record has some “heavy content with more light-hearted, pop-infused melodies” and is what Howard sees as a coming of age record. He says “I made it on my terms and on my time. The content is varied and talks about things throughout my life as well as things I’ve noted in other peoples lives along the way.”
If you have the chance, get to a live Nick Howard show. It may not be too trippy for you (since you personally probably don’t know Nick) but Howard literally takes on another persona on stage. He definitely supplies the entertainment Ð fully engaging both the audience and himself. Once you see it live, there’s no chance you’ll pass up buying the new album. Learn a whole lot more in the XXQ’s.
XXQ’s: Nick Howard
PensEyeView.com (PEV): Tell us how you first jumped into music? From the start, was it a good fit?
Nick Howard (NH): Music’s been a part of my life for such a long time that I don’t think I ever ‘jumped’ into it so to speak. I can’t really imagine a life without music; it’s an integral part of mine.
PEV: What kind of music where you listening to while growing up in the U.K?
NH: Everything under the sun! My parents are a product of the 60’s and heavily into The Beatles, so my earliest years were influenced largely by that. Outside of the parental influence, I personally developed an interest in Motown and particularly Michael Jackson. I would listen to Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad on repeat while working out the dance moves in front of my mirror with my older sister. As a teenager, I was swamped by the 90’s Brit-Pop revolution by bands like Oasis and Blur. As I trundled through college I sought to learn as much as I could about other kinds of music so I did the atypical college/university routine of buying every quintessential Jazz and Hip-Hop album I could find.
PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?
NH: I’ve always known that it would be, but made sure that I gave myself enough support educationally to make the journey easier. I envy people who can just quit their jobs, rent a van and go on tour, but life has never been that way for me. I was raised on the premise that if you want something, you have to work for it.
PEV: Tell us about your creative process. What kind of environment do you have to be in to write music?
NH: More than often, a song is influenced by the environment you’re in at that moment. That might be physical or emotional, but the point is you need to be in one or the other in order to write a song. Even if I sit down and think, ‘Hey, I’m going to write a song about heartbreak today’ I need to work on imagining a prior point in life where I’ve gone through that emotion, so that it translates into song.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Nick Howard performance?
NH: You’ll hear most musicians say that, on stage, they are transformed into another being altogether and its no different for me. If I didn’t fully engage myself into what I was singing about then I’d feel I’d be cheating the audience. I’m a perfectionist who gives as much as I can on stage. You’ll hopefully notice that at a live show. I really enjoy a crowd that gets into the material with me.
PEV: Tell us about your first performance as a solo artist. How have you changed since that first show to where you are now?
NH: It was so long ago that I can hardly remember. I played through school, either in bands, school orchestras or in the choir, so I was used to performing, just usually with the aid of about 20 other people. One of my first solo performances was at 17 at a local talent show where I played my own material to an audience of strangers for the first time . I essentially sat there frozen solid just trying to get through it. Afterwards I remember my Mum saying, ‘It wouldn’t hurt to open your eyes and look at the audience.’ She was on the money, from that point on I made an effort to really engage the crowd at my shows and still do today.
PEV: What can fans expect from your latest release, “Something To Talk About?”
NH: My first record was an EP recorded in the outskirts of Brooklyn and with a limited budget. Its a raw window into my life at that time. Still really struggling to work out what I was trying to do and writing songs that reflected that. My new album is almost a coming of age record. I made it on my terms and in my time. The content is varied and talks about things throughout my life as well as things I’ve noted in other peoples along the way. I feel it’s well rounded, and offers a fresh look into a number of different subjects.
PEV: How is “Something To Talk About” different from your past projects?
NH: See above.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Nick Howard?
NH: That as a five year old I was kicked out of Ballet class for running around in circles screaming ‘HE-MAN, HE-MAN!’
PEV: What one word best describes Nick Howard?
NH: My girlfriend’s answer: ‘hot.’ My answer: ‘mess.’
PEV: How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts?
NH: I don’t understand when people complain about touring. If you can make a living doing what you love then you are one of a lucky few. A friend of mine says that if music is your misery, then you’re doing something wrong. Playing live to people every night is the most rewarding part of what we as musicians do, if it isn’t, then why are we doing it in the first place?
PEV: In all your travels, in which has been your favorite city to play (US or International)?
NH: Playing in LA for the first time was kinda cool, and playing at The Gorge in Washington was beautiful. London is a city full of musical history and is an awesome place to play, playing a hometown show in Brighton is rewarding, but above all, playing in New York is the most magical and energy filled experience any musician can have.
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?
Some still don’t think I have had any yet!
PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing and writing music?
NH: My days are filled up by working in order to support my music, so my life is pretty full. That said, I’m a keen sports enthusiast and follow teams on both sides of the Atlantic. I can always find time to check on a score.
PEV: Which artist would be your dream collaboration?
NH: Real life: Paul McCartney. Fake life: Marty McFly.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for?
NH: I’ve heard Nick Howard is great.
PEV: What is your take on today’s US mainstream music scene versus that of the UK?
NH: Good question. I think the UK has a little more edge right now. Over the past 5 years, we have constantly seen new genres coming out of the UK where as in the US, things haven’t been as gutsy as they have in the past. It might be because the record industry is being cautious right now. I’m sure it won’t last long.
PEV: Ten years down the road, where will Nick Howard be?
NH: I will always be making music. Hopefully it will be on a platform where other people can listen to it. If it isn’t, then I’ll still be making it anyway.
PEV: So, what is next for Nick Howard?
NH: A break from typing and a cup of tea…
For more information on Nick Howard, check out www.NickHowardMusic.com
So would the real Bo Bice, please stand up? Is he the tall, dark, handsome fellow that seized America’s attention back in 2005 as the American Idol Season 4 runner-up, the man behind the gold-certified album and hit of the same name, “The Real Thing,” or the country rocker about to release the much anticipated “See the Light?” Honestly, there’s a lot of Bo in every one of those versions, but his latest record has truly allowed him to step out and be himself. He says, “If you hold true to the original music it will show through in your performance and in your music.”
“See the Light” however does benefit from Bice’s work on “The Real Thing.” He was able to pull countless tools and tricks of the trade from the past recording, then selected them appropriately as to not over-produce the new record while still thrusting forward a “real rock album with a clean pristine sound and some really raunchy undertones.” The list of song writers who helped pull this collection together is more than impressive – it includes Chris Dawkins, Hank Williams Jr., and even Jimmy Buffet himself.
With complete control over “See the Light,” Bice was able to let these new tunes mature as well; not like a fine wine, but more “like a really good booze,” as he puts it. He’ll be out supporting the album all summer, so check out a show near you. Bice prides himself on getting up close and personal with his music without scaring anybody off – his performance is simply a real good time. But don’t expect any shows around Halloween; Bice has an unreal fear of zombies. Seriously. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.
XXQs: Bo Bice
PensEyeView.com (PEV): Bo, how are you?
Bo Bice (Bo): Man, life is good.
PEV: Where’d I catch you now?
Bo: In my studio, in Nashville, doing some interviews.
PEV: At home in Nashville, what do you like to do in your spare time, after performing and touring… and aside from interviews?
Bo: Man for the most part, I love spending time with my family – my wife and my son. I spend a lot of time doing that. Yard work, too: clearing land, cutting down trees. I like to fish. Every chance I get, I like to go out on my Harley and ride. My wife tries to get me into a car, I just follow her around on my bike. I’m a pretty laid-back cat, just writing music, hanging out in the studio… Yeah man, just family, music, and just being a kid I guess.
PEV: I was reading on your bio that you moved around a lot: Alabama, Georgia, even England. With such a wide variety of cultural exposure, what kind of music were you listening to growing up?
Bo: I listened to all kinds of stuff growing up. I started out listening to stuff my mom was into like James Taylor, Charlie Daniels, George Jones, things like that. As I got older, my mom, she pretty much raised me until we moved to Georgia and she met my dad who was part of the southern rock influence. Lynard Skynard, Hank, Jimi Hendrix, The Dubies… It was a lot of stuff thrown at me from like two and three that stuck. I’ve said it in many interviews, my original music is original songs but the southern rock influence I can’t take credit for, it’s the bands that gave it to me.
PEV: When you first started out playing gigs, what were those earlier days like?
Bo: It was kind of groovy in England when I started my first band at 14. It was cool because I could hang out in pubs, drink and play music. But when I moved back to the states, I was 17 years old having to go outside and hang out in the parking lot when I wasn’t on stage, which kind of sucked. But I was always writing music. I’ve been writing music since I was 12 and I guess that’s kind of my mindset now, which kind of holds me back in a way today, because I am pretty adamant person that holds strong to original music and what they do. If you hold true to the original music, it will show through in your performance and in your music. Some people call it stubborn, some people call it stupid, but I don’t tell a carpenter how to cut a piece of wood, and he shouldn’t tell me how to write a song. It’s kind of what I live by.
PEV: So what can people expect from a live Bo Bice show?
Bo: From a live show people can expect that we keep it energetic, fun and spontaneous. But in the end of the day, I pride myself on it being a clean show, you know. We don’t drop “F bombs” on you or spit on you. We leave you knowing you got your money’s worth. We don’t sit on stools and serenade – we run around and get in your face. And it shows in the crowd’s face too, they rock out with us.
PEV: Your latest release, “See The Light”, what can fans expect from this album?
Bo: I think what fans can expect from See The Light, that is different from The Real Thing (my previous album), is that The Real Thing was kind of a manufactured CD. No slight to anyone for that, it was just kind of put together before I even came into the picture, so… But the one thing I can say I took away from it was that I met a lot of producers, folks that had tools in their arsenal that I used on this CD. Along with my buddy, my engineer, we just kind of sat around and piddled on different things that he learned over the years and things I learned, to make this thing a generally Earthy album. It’s not over produced, it’s a real rock album but yet it has a clean pristine sound with some really raunchy undertones.
I was able to reach out to people to co-write with some folks that I’ve know for over a decade. Chirs Dawkins who wrote stuff for Carrie Underwood, Hank Williams Jr., Jimmy Buffet- him and I have known each other for ten years. Now, he’s a Grammy Award winning songwriter, and I’m just eating Grammy crackers. I’m still waiting for my Grammy.
PEV: This might be it!
Bo: I doubt it, but I do eat Grammy crackers. But I do prefer Teddy Grahams! Bite sized! (people laugh in the background).
PEV: You said with The Real Thing, that “it was fun album but not MY album.” With “See The Light” did you have any added pressure to making it a real Bo Bice album?
Bo: I think it was kind of the opposite. You know, there was no pressure. I was going to make an official Bo Bice album. I felt like my feet were held to the flame with The Real Thing and this album gave me a chance to really come out and show people what I can do. There was no pressure in making it, so many different people that helped make it what it was, which was a genuine rock album. I was excited every day to go to work in my own studio with all these people. It was probably as stress free as I have ever been. It shows in this album. I think that kind of mindset helped me and the album turn out to be a real genuine piece.
PEV: And when you sit down to write music, what kind of atmosphere do you surround yourself in?
Bo: It’s… well, there are a lot of songs I’ve had for years. I mean, this next one, I reached out to writers and I think this next one will be, I don’t want to say “stressed” because whatever comes out, comes out. But I think the songs on See The Light, I had written previously, aside from the co-writes, were from a decade to five years ago, that I believed in. A lot of time when you make a new album, you don’t have time to make changes and alter it, you listen to them five years down the line and say, “Man, I wish I would have done this or that”. I was pleasantly surprised about the way a majority of these songs grew and matured, like fine wine; you don’t drink it the day after you bottle it. Not comparing my music to fine wine, I mean maybe like a really good booze.
PEV: Now, you’re at that point where you are very recognizable and everyone knows your name. Was there a certain point where you realized you became very recognizable?
Bo: Well, I think, one of my friends on American Idol with me, Niko Smith, we were on the show’s, like, the top 24, and him and I were going to the grocery store in LA. We were walking back to our hotel room and crossing the street, this car grinds to a screeching halt, I mean like (make the sound of a car skidding) “urrrrrrrrrrrrr!” You know, he stops us in the crosswalk and this hand come out of the window and goes, “You are on American Idol!” And we both kind of jumped back, like “Which one?” And he was like, “Both of ya!” So, that was the first real taste of how this had a lot more impact on it than I thought. But the other week I was on American Idol again and I went back home, I mean, I kind of take it for granted like “Aw, that’s old hat”. But when I got back home to Birmingham, people are going to come up to me at dinner, they are going to come up to me walking on the street and be like “Bo! Bo!” But that’s Birmingham, you know. So, when I’m here in Nashville, that doesn’t happen a lot, very, very rarely. But just being on the show the other week and performing the song, we had like 2 or 3 dozen folks come up to me and be like, “Great job on the show!” I mean, that wigs me out a little. I mean it’s kind of like, I kind of look around like, “Am I in Birmingham?” (laughs).
I mean I remember when no one cared, when no one knew me. At a show, I’ll stay and make sure everyone has an autograph or a picture. It means the world to me because these people pay their hard earned money to come see us. Without them, we don’t have a gig. It really means a lot.
PEV: Why did you pick Nashville out of all the places to settle down?
Bo: I picked Nashville because that is as far west and north they are going to pull a southern boy from Alabama. They don’t have good fishing in New York City! Or good salsa! You know, that’s how Pace made a living out there. I like LA and have a lot of good friends out there but it’s not the south. They don’t have grits, or chicken fried chicken. And they always complain to me when I say “ma’am” and “sir” and that makes me uncomfortable. I think it’s alright, I mean my mom and dad raised me to be that way. If I came home not saying that, I’d get my ear bent!
PEV: You are touring all the time now. What is road life like?
Bo: Well, I’ve got some free time. Between the baby and Idol and press. The road life is great and I’ve always loved it. It’s always been a part of me. I don’t have any reservations when I’m out there. My little bulldog goes out there with me. My best friends are out there on the bus with me. It’s like the closest thing to being a pirate as we’re ever going to be. I mean, that is like every little kids’ fantasy when they are young, to be a pirate. So, that’s kind of what we are. We just dig what we do and live the dream every day.
PEV: You mentioned being a parent. I am going to be a dad in a few weeks. Any advice you can give me?
Bo: Well, I think for the most part the best advice I can give anyone is always take the time. If my little boy comes in while we’re recording and he wants to jump up on my lap or play on the drums, we stop what we’re doing and the business comes second. I know if my wife is happy and my family is happy, then everything else will follow. I put family and God first. I know I’ve never been the best father or husband, but I know that I strive to be and it’s something that really makes me feel a lot better to be a great dad than it is to be some kind of “rock n’ roll star”. I don’t look at myself as some celebrity. I just think of myself as some lucky guy who got a good break. They are not going to want to climb in your lap when they are 17. Just love your wife, kiss her every night and do the same with your life.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?
Bo: Man, if you go on my website, there is nothing you haven’t heard about me. I do blogs and try to blog weekly. I’m an open cat… OK, there is one thing, ok, you ready for this? This is the Barbara Walters Special exclusive. This is the money shot, you ready for this?
PEV: Yeah, yeah, I’m ready… (laughing)
Bo: I’m scared of Zombies!
PEV: Zombies? (laughing)
Bo: Yeah man, Zombies! I don’t watch movies with them. I don’t watch commercials with them. I don’t want anything coming up from the ground and trying to grab me! I don’t even like really, really old people breathing on me! Like some kind of Zombie-vibe.
PEV: I have to admit, I ask this question a lot and I have never gotten that answer before –
Bo: You telling me you like Zombies or something! Is that what you are telling me!
PEV: I didn’t say that.
Bo: You damn ol’ Zombie lover. You loving up on some Zombies!
PEV: No, no… No Zombie loving here.
Bo: I can’t even watch those commercials, you know? It gives me nightmares!
PEV: So, what’s next for Bo Bice?
Bo: Well, I’m going to go in here and make some dinner and if I can’t convince my wife to change the diaper, then you know what that’s going to entail. I don’t know… I think what’s next for me is to figure out what is the best move for my career and for my family. There was a long time that I was really, really sick. It’s been good to be healthy for a year and half, when I was sick for a decade. I think what’s next for me is to learn how to be more still now. Learn how to make decisions that are not going to be monetary as well as momentary. I want to figure what the long haul is for me. I think I’ve been jumping from lilly pad to lilly pad and I need to find a pond to kind of swim around in. That’s what’s next for me. Whatever God has in store for me next is hopefully growth and to solidify a name for myself. I can still be doing what I’m doing at 75 years old, then man, that is a good life.
PEV: Awesome Bo, thanks so much for taking the time.
Bo: Thank you man, I appreciate it. Take care.
For more information on Bo Bice, check out www.BoBice.com
Guy Garvey, Craig Potter, Mark Potter, Pete Turner and Richard Jupp of one of England’s most storied acts, Elbow, are also part of one of music’s greatest anomalies: Why the hell are Americans so unfamiliar with this phenomenal pop group? Led by unique and imaginative frontman Guy Garvey, Elbow has become one of the more influential acts across the pond, receiving endorsements from artists such as Blur, R.E.M. and U2. In fact, The Velvet Underground’s co-founder John Cale selected Elbow’s “Switching Off” as part of the BBC’s “Desert Island Discs.” This is only part of their story – their music, their fans and their unbelievable critical acclaim truly define Elbow.
Starting out in the early 90’s, the band didn’t release their debut album, “Asleep in the Back,” until 2001. The record took off quickly, nominated that year for both a Mercury Music Prize as well as a BRIT Award. “Cast of Thousands,” their 2003 offering, includes thousands of people singing during a performance at Glastonbury, “We still believe in love, so fuck you,” a sure sign their place in England’s music history was now set in stone.
Now following their third collection, “Leaders of the Free World,” Elbow has released their fourth studio record, “The Seldom Seen Kid,” totally self-produced, mixed and recorded without any other outside help. Guy Garvey says this record begins Òwhere the previous album leaves off.” Considered “a little more romantic and dramatic” it feels like the most complete collection of the bunch, a well developed, crafted, evocative group of tunes. The band enjoyed taking on all of the responsibility this time around, treating it as “a well kept secret you know people are going to like.”
Elbow will be hopping from festival to festival over the summer, so keep an eye out if you’re on that side of the Atlantic. They’ll be making a handful of appearances here in the states as well. Look into Guy’s television show, which can also be seen from anywhere online. It’s a music program, showcasing music that Elbow loves; this week is actually the US tour diary edition. So check it out. And get into the XXQ’s.
XXQs: Elbow – Guy Garvey
PensEyeView.com (PEV): Hey Guy, how are you?
Guy Garvey (GG): Hey man, I’m good thanks.
PEV: I’m bouncing around the site right now, playing some tracks and reading (even) more up on the band. It seems that from the start being a musician was something you always saw yourself doing.
GG: Well, it was either that or act, actually. I originally got into music to show off and get attention, I guess. From a young age, I always acted out pop videos and saw myself as a potential singer.
PEV: Growing up in England, what kind of music where you listening to?
GG: A very wide and very diverse range… I’ve got five older sisters with very different tastes. They all wanted me to have a good taste in music. I didn’t so much listen to music as I had it drummed into me. So yeah, it was always going to be something like that.
PEV: What were the earlier days like for you in the music business?
GG: We would play these small pubs and clubs in Manchester (England) and there was more or at least the same excitement now as there was then. Even now when we are top billing on these festivals, there is no more or less adrenaline involved then when you were doing your first gigs in front of 15 or 20 people. It was amazing you know. That’s a source of pride and contentment.
PEV: When you first started out, playing clubs in front of 15 or 20 people, did you ever imagine that years down the road, albums down the road, you’d be where you are now?
GG: Yeah! Even when we were shit, which was like for six or seven years. We were awful but even then we were playing the music that we wanted everyone to hear. But you need that kind of blanketed self belief.
PEV: Tell me about the latest album, “Seldom Seen Kid”. What can fans expect from this?
GG: It’s where the previous album leaves off. For the lyrics, it jumps forward two and half years; all the things that have happened – people dying, break ups, all the things that people have really. But it’s perhaps a little more romantic than the previous record and more dramatic. I think of the four albums we put out, it’s the most complete. I’m proud of all of them but this is the best one in terms of “sit and listen to this for an hour and you won’t be sorry” sort of thing.
PEV: And you guys did this all yourself, with no outside involvement, right?
GG: I think that it’s so complete. It’s the only album that is to the exact minute detail.
PEV: Do you find it more trouble when you have outside influences when you are putting together an album?
GG: Well, it’s just a very different experience. When you get any of the people we’ve worked with before, it’s a very fulfilling experience. It’s never kind of mattered. I mean, no one or two of us wrote any one of the songs, it was all five of us writing them. It’s kind of… I don’t know how to put it… It doesn’t matter where the ideas come from, so it’s easy to invite someone in from the outside. But with this record, it felt better with just the five of us. Like a well kept secret you are working on and you know people are going to like.
PEV: When you sit down to write music, is there a certain kind of atmosphere or zone you surround yourself?
GG: Yes certainly, but you can’t put yourself in that zone. The best writers are the ones that write the most. That’s a simple equation as it is. Bowie’s brilliant because Bowie has written more songs than anyone else, so he’s got more good ones. The Beatles wrote the equivalent of a song a day for seven years. If you don’t have that work ethic, you won’t be as well known. We take twelve years to write our songs (laughs). We’re very proud of every single one.
PEV: How’s life on the road for the band? Good parts and bad.
GG: Fatigue. Constant fatigue. It can take its toll either way but it’s been great. We’ve got a big crew of people and we all know and love each other very much. We had a Bar-B-Que the other day and invited the whole town down. We got drunk and had some great food. It’s like what Granddaddy used to do on the road and we picked it up from him. Yesterday we went white water rafting so our days are spend fruitfully and wholesomely. The rest of the time is spent playing music and getting drunk (laughs).
PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time?
GG: Um, we all do different kinds of stuff. Mark is a king fisherman. Pete loves sitting and watching crap television – he could do it for days. Craig pretty much spends his time with his kids. And I like hanging out with my misses and my mates. I got a show on the BBC as well.
PEV: Tell me more about the show.
GG: It’s two hours on a Sunday night. All about music, music I love, music I think you’ll love. You can listen to it online all week as well. I’ve filtered the music from like 40 suggestions down to 3 a week. I’m interviewing everyone from the guy that pulls wooden pegs out of the ground after a festival to Frank Black, it doesn’t really matter, just good music I like listening to. The one going up on this Sunday is the US tour diary edition.
PEV: What’s something we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Elbow?
GG: They’re all pretty accomplished break dancers.
PEV: Really? Do you bring that on stage too?
GG: Nope, never (laughs). Mark did a swan dive into a caterpillar on his wedding day – he said he was going to bust a move but he nearly busted a rib. Yeah, so there was an age when it was very big.
PEV: And being from Manchester, are you a Manchester United fan?
GG: Nope, don’t follow football. That’s a surprising fact. Maybe because we’re all crap at it. Well, Richard was quite good but no, I don’t really follow it.
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?
GG: They are fantastic, all wonderful and very interested. Yeah, they’re great. I got a big family with big characters and big hearts. They are all really proud of me.
PEV: What fans expect from a live Elbow show?
GG: Maybe a lot more interaction than you might be led to expect if you went off the music alone. And we have a laugh!
PEV: What’s next for Elbow?
GG: We got festivals this summer and then hopefully back here (the US) as well.
PEV: Well Guy, thanks so much taking time with us.
GG: Oh thanks man. Take care.
For more information on Elbow, check out www.Elbow.co.uk
The gentlemen of Talley Hall own more than a colorful assortment of ties; they practically own Ann Arbor. Coming together at the University of Michigan back in 2002, Rob (yellow), Zubin (blue), Ross (grey), Joe (red) and Andrew (green) showed the world what they’ve been hiding up north when they were recognized by MTVu as one of the “Best Bands on Campus,” not so coincidently after they sold out The Blind Pig; one of the best rock clubs in Michigan.
Tally Hall has a different background than a lot of other rock acts out there, one that Michigan can be proud of. Growing up in school bands, ensembles, orchestras, choirs and theatre groups, the group of Wolverines weren’t exactly used to living the rock n’ roll lifestyle. Learning “how to perform together as a smaller less ‘academic’ group,” Tally Hall has excelled, sharing their buoyant sound with audiences across the country.
Their latest release, “Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum” showcases a more developed Tally, “warmer and more organic than its earlier counterpart.” Their refreshing take on today’s pop scene includes an ear-grabbing blend of rock, sonic sounds and big noise that lifts the spirit while jumping inside your head and making itself at home. And you’ll welcome it – it’s simply good music with good vibes.
You can find Tally Hall working on more than music, such as short videos behind their tunes (you may have seen the one for “Banana Man”), as well as finishing their new Internet show, “which will take the form of 10 episodes full of random video content, music videos, short skits, and documentaries.” Tally Hall performs at a lot more spots than Ann Arbor now, so look up a show near you as they support the new record. And get into the XXQ’s to learn more.
XXQs: Tally Hall
PensEyeView.com PEV: Tell us how Tally Hall first came together? Was an instant connection or did it take a while for the band to really form?
Tally Hall (TH): It was a little of both really. Some of us met at our various high schools, or early on in college as house-mates. Rob, Andrew and Zubin decided to join together and form a casual band, and over the next few months, the earlier connections formed together as Joe and I joined to bring us to the current lineup.
PEV: How have your abilities or style as musicians changed since your earlier days of playing music?
TH: Performing in a rock band is something that none of us had really experienced before, and it certainly requires a certain skill that many other performance environments do not. I grew up playing in a number school bands, percussion ensembles and orchestras, which is the case for pretty much everyone in the band once you add choirs and musical theater to the mix. But all of us had to learn how to perform together as a smaller less “academic” group.
PEV: Growing up in, what kind of music were you guys listening to?
TH: We listened to pretty much everything from classical to classic rock, 90s alternative, Jazz, hip-hop. Looking back, I think we were all lucky to be exposed to a lot of what’s out there in the music world.
PEV: Tell us about the earlier days in the music business for the band? Before you were playing regularly.
TH: At first, it was very much a side project from our classes. We all had our various studies and activities at University of Michigan, and would get together a few nights a week to work on new songs and usually prepare for concerts which we’d play every couple of weeks. It was casual, but at the same time, the infrastructure was there to buy music and attend our concerts, and I think that’s what ultimately caused everything to quickly spread throughout Ann Arbor.
PEV: Was there a certain point when you realized that music was going to become more than just a hobby?
TH: It’s hard to say when that point was exactly, although a few events stand out that played a key role in giving some validity to the project. Good day won a song writing contest, we were recognized by MTVu as one of the “Best Bands on Campus,” and most notably for me was selling out the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor which is the token rock club in town.
PEV: In all your travels, which city do you think offers the best scene for music?
TH: Also hard to say. Some cities do seem to have a certain community. New York, Portland, Chicago come to mind first although some other towns like State College, PA often have a great venue which can put emphasis on local musicians and help create that community from the ground up.
PEV: How has “life on the road” been for the band? Good parts? Bad parts?
TH: In general it’s been pretty exciting. You always get to see new places, cities, scenery along the road. The downside is that you often get to visit the same highways and rest stops over and over again. But at any rate, you get a chance to see a lot of the country that you wouldn’t get to otherwise, and also the chance to perform for fans from all over.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Tally Hall performance?
TH: We try to make our shows a fairly unique experience for the viewer. Unique not only relative to other shows you might attend, but also unique to the album as it exists in recorded form.
PEV: Is there an up and coming artist out right now that you think we should all be looking into?
TH: Check out the Spinto Band.
PEV: What can fans expect from your latest release, “MarvinÕs Marvelous Mechanical Museum”?
TH: It’s warmer and more organic than it’s earlier counterpart. A lot of what we couldn’t achieve with our resources originally, we were able to accomplish with the recent re-release.
PEV: How has your work on this album differ from your previous works?
TH: The material on this album has been floating around for a while through various forms of demos and early recordingsreleases, and it’s really our first “album” of material. In the future, it seems that the songwriting into album process will probably be a more streamlined one.
PEV: When you sit down to write, what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in?
TH: It really depends on each writer, but it’s usually somewhere extremely comfortable and surrounded by delicious food.
PEV: If we were to walk into your practice studio right now, what would we find?
TH: As of right now, you’d see large cases scattered all over the floor.
PEV: When you are not touring or performing, what can we find the band doing in their spare time?
TH: We spend a lot of time working on various video projects. At the moment, we’re just finishing up our Internet Show, which will take the form of 10 episodes full of random video content, music videos, short skits, and documentaries. We’re hoping to release it on our website sometime in the coming weeks.
PEV: Before a show, are there any pre-show rituals you do or is just go out there and perform?
TH: Someone gives a pep-talk prior to each performance. It’s generally one of us, but often it’s a guest speaker.
PEV: In one word, describe Tally Hall.
PEV: So, what is next for Tally Hall?
TH: A good deal of touring, and releasing the Internet Show. Then after that, back in the studio for a second album.
For more information on the Tally Hall, check out www.tallyhall.com