Beer and Pavement

I live here and so do these people, so just watch

Posted in Records, Video by Zac on January 13, 2014
Tagged with: ,

Dome Sweet Dome

Posted in Live by Zac on October 10, 2012

This was posted elsewhere. I’m thinking I might get rolling again…

drumming hipsters in a geodesic dome

Cloud Dog in The Dome

Like any college town, Columbia is home to many music venues offering a wide array of cheap entertainment. Aside from the regulars (Blue Note, Mojo’s, Roxy’s Eastside, The Bridge, etc.), there are a few DIY venues featuring another side of the scene not often seen or heard by the masses. Most of these venues are living rooms just north or east of campus. Another is the hairhole, which we’ve told you about in the past. A newer-ish DIY venue is The Dome.

Joe Dame’s dome is also his home. (Sorry.) And by “dome”, I mean to say that it’s geodesic dome near Ashland at the end of a long, winding, gravel driveway. And by “home”, I mean to say that Joe is renovating the dome in the woods to not only house some cutting edge music but also to serve as his house.

Late last week, I ventured out to The Dome in order to take in one of the more interesting lineups I’ve seen in CoMo in a while. There was Ben Chlapek and Neatly Knotted project plus collaborator Steve Ruffin – or the pleasant projectionist at Ragtag who wears those glasses. The duo opened with a lot of ambient noise. Quite enjoyable for a warmup without a proper name (Iced Wine, anyone?). The echoes they produced filled the rickety dome in the woods and warmed me up proper.

Out of the cornfields arose Curtain Co. with some chill waves (or is it chillwaves?) for the Domers to groove on. Another duo, this time the two musicians worked closely, pretty much shoulder-to-shoulder in delivering movement-inducing beats, causing heads to bob and even a few kids to hit the splintered dance floor.

Local regulars Enemy Airship played third with heaps of Broken Social guitars and keyboards to fill the Dames Dome’s rafters with layers of guitar and synths. A long time ago, I wrote that this group (at the time known as Nonreturner) had found their sloppy, rock ‘n roll selves. Well, along with that old band name went the sloppiness. The band is tight and professional and they just sound like they know what their doing. The guy who accompanied me to The Dome proclaimed them his new favorite local band and I can’t really argue with that.

Finally, what made the night really stand out came in the form of three drummers from Lawrence, KS. Cloud Dog played with a fury I haven’t seen since Lightning Bolt, but maintained an aesthetic closer to Animal Collective. The threesome was quite engaging with drum sticks flying everywhere as some hypnotic Tron-like imagery projected behind them. Look for Cloud Dog in a club near you.

All that happened in one evening at The Dome. Joe has done a great thing in some woods just south of town. You owe it to yourself to find an invite and/or ride to one of the more unique and homey venues in and around CoMo. Joe Dames’ Dome cannot be missed.

Tagged with: ,

Indie-Craft Interview #12: Ben Chlapek

Posted in Indie-Craft, Interview by Zac on May 16, 2012

Ben Chlapek prints posters and plays in bands. Of course, this only skims the surface of his creativity and drive. Ben’s Never Sleeping Design posters can be found everywhere. Half the bands covered in this blog have used a Never Sleeping poster to advertise a gig. Then, there are his music projects. The layers and textures Ben builds from scratch are pretty unforgettable and just as striking as his printed work. Luckily for me, as with many of the subjects of the series, Ben lives here in Columbia and agreed to answer my questions about his indie-craft.

Photo by Corey Hale Ransberg.

1. Describe your craft(s).
Freelance artist (illustrator, screen printer, painter) – neversleeping.com
Musician (guitar, keys, vox) – Enemy Airship, Neatly Knotted.

2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie?
Well, I suppose having a little control over what I do is the big reason. Though I’m totally broke, so maybe if a halfway decent corporation said “jump” I might ask how high. I don’t know though, I’ve always been a do-it-yourself type. I want to take broken things apart and fix them, and print my own drawings, record my own songs, etc. It’s really frustrating that I can’t do everything I want by myself, and that I have to get others involved to get a certain desired result. Not enough hours in the day to learn everything I suppose.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?
It’s all entertainment, which is good and bad. People need entertainment like art and music to feel like they are people and not some sort of hamster in a wheel. At the same time, it’s totally disposable. No one has to care about it. No one is going to die if I don’t make drawings of weird little houses or play my guitar or synthesizer with the perfect tone that took hours to get just right. That being said, music and art affect me daily. Hourly. I can pour over an album or series of artwork and analyze every single detail…just totally get lost in it. Maybe one day someone will do that with something I make.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?
I’d like to make a line of effects pedals. I’ve always been fascinated by that, and I think I might be good at it with a little practice. Fixing/building old mopeds from the 70′s and 80′s is something I sort of got into, just because I had no idea about it. I still can’t do a lot with the engines, but I know how to swap out parts and clean carbs and a few other things. More than I knew when I started. I obsess over sound and trying to get a good recording on my 4 track tape machine. I’d like to make a short film. Like, write the soundtrack and plan out every shot and be the only person in it. Or something along those lines.

5. What is your dream of success?
I know it shouldn’t have to do with money necessarily (or at least that’s what people say), but I won’t truly feel successful until I can stop living hand to mouth. It would be nice to get more exposure from any of my art or music endeavors, but it seems like you have to be in the right place at the right time. If I stay in Columbia, I’m not sure the “right time” will ever come around. I’d like to think if I make work that’s good enough then people will notice, though.

Follow Ben Chlapek on Twitter or Tumblr. Then go buy his craft in his etsy store. After that, be prepared to see Ben’s visage and his work everywhere.

Tagged with: , ,

Indie-Craft Interview #11: Zach Biri

Posted in Indie-Craft, Interview by Zac on May 15, 2012

Zach Biri is the man behind local record coop Yards and Gods. His bands Nonreturner (RIP) and Enemy Airship wreak of Canadian indie a la Broken Social Scene and Wolf Parade’s many offshoots. That’s a good thing. There aren’t enough Broken Social Scenes or Wolf Parades in this world, particularly in Middle Missouri. What also makes Zach similar to these bands is how seriously he takes his craft without taking himself too seriously at the same time. He’s thoughtful and has a lot to say, as you will see below…

Credit: Carrie Wade

1. Describe your craft(s).
Musician, audio engineer

2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie?
As I have no experience in the indie beer community, my answer will be about music.

The stock answer is, of course, maintaining creative control and not contributing to toxic corporate culture. I’m not sure this is true across the board. Plenty of toxic corporate culture (selling an image, getting people to buy shit to attain some manufactured aesthetic, etc) is facilitated by the indies and the all-but-corporate-whores on them, and not every band or chairman on a major label is evil or even makes (much) money.

I also don’t buy into the notion that there isn’t some old greasy dude at the top of the food chain on the indie label that makes a bunch of money off of the blood sweat and tears of the doe eyed naive kids in the bands. Business is business, big or small. Obviously this isn’t the case for people who just cut out all the middle men, and it’s nice to see that becoming a viable option. I guess some people pat themselves on the back for it, but I always kind of thought remaining on an indie label (when it was even a choice in the first place, as it often is not) was – in the best case – a matter of good intentions.

Second best case: a self celebrating distinction of circumstance – some people are in love with the idea when it was basically forced upon them in the first place. Third best case: an excuse to half-ass things and sell it as an endearing quirk or something “you just don’t get because blah blah blah conceptual blah blah blah lo-fi blah blah blah” (DISCLAIMER: I do not dislike lo-fi, but it’s an example of something people clearly try to pass as intentional sometimes when a little bit of effort and planning just wasn’t in the playbook).

There are shitty people and practices on either side of that line, and as much as I don’t want to come off as a total misanthrope, there’s always someone out there trying to use you to make a buck or feel good about themselves. Maybe there have historically been more nightmare people on the major side – I love Albini’s rundown in Some Of Your Friends May Already Be This Fucked. I think, though, that in 2012, even more of these proverbial friends “may already be this fucked” as well and not realize it because they think they are safe not signed to a major – you think they paid you proportionally from the door? Do you think you are not being used in some way by someone even if you etched the vinyl yourself with an Exacto knife? I’m not saying there is or isn’t an assumed importance or benefit of remaining indie. There’s a lot about the concept of indie that is pretty great, and also a lot of the culture that I find to be sickeningly precious and/or self righteous, and I don’t buy it 100%. It’s a complicated rats nest, but it’s good that it’s on the table for discussion. I think what’s important is however you get there, don’t be a fucking prick about it.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?
Does it? Millions of people pick up guitars, learn a couple of chords, and consider themselves musicians, and every kid who pirates Cubase and Komplete considers himself an engineer. Would it be fair to say that adding another voice to the cacophony is contributing to society at all? Is that elitist in some way? I don’t know. Some would argue that this culture where everyone is in a band and access is easy is just confusing the cultural narrative when it’s already ass-to-ankles full of “content creators”, and vapid and soulless to boot.

The rebuttal is that a level playing field makes it fair and facilitates variety or something. That’s a concept in genetics (diversity = a stronger, better organism) and I think it carries over to a lot of other things. I mean, I guess adding more “art” to the world is contributing something to society. Then again, how many bands (or artists) can you name that (if you could) you would pay money to NOT make music (or art) ever again? I’m sure I’m that person to someone, and the opposite of that person to someone else.

I guess I enjoy playing devils advocate on these last two questions because I think they are not the givens that a lot of people need to believe they are. I wonder if everyone would agree that I contribute anything to society at all. I’m not sure. I’m sorry, that’s a really obtuse parenthetical answer and I didn’t mean for it to be at all.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?
Jarrett Crader opened my eyes to the world of homebrewing a few years ago, and that shit is endlessly fascinating to me – the history and the craft of it. I’ll probably never attempt that kind of thing though, at least not soon. My apartment has two doors: the entrance to the apartment, and a bathroom door that doesn’t lock. I’m sure the landlord would freak out if he saw me sparging on my 5×5′ “patio” one day. I don’t see myself living in a larger place any time in the near future…

People who build and sell effects pedals on the small scale are incredibly inspiring to me. Ben (Chlapek) and I are hoping to break into this once we do a little bit of research – partially to design our sounds in Enemy Airship and other musical outlets from the ground up, and partially because we need new hobbies that don’t involve drinking coffee and talking shit. Looking into Earthquaker Devices after geeking out over their “Dispatch Master” pedal kind of spawned this fascination for me at least. It turns out there are a bunch of little companies like ED that are actually just one or two people making and distributing hand made pedals from their little studio apartments. A lot of times, they make only 100 or so of a certain pedal – many with unique custom design work screen printed or etched onto them – and then they are never made again.

I’m guilty of it as much as any guitarist/gearhead: there’s always the guy at the show who is craning his neck to see what pedals his favorite musician uses so that he can go home and order them and ape that sound. Try to pull that shit when it’s a board of limited run Blackout Effectors and Dr. Scientist gear. I don’t necessarily become indignant and cry foul when someone sounds like someone else intentionally or otherwise – art is part theft and everybody knows it and anyone who denies it is a liar or delusional – but adding some rare variables to that theft couldn’t hurt the crucial diversity.

5. What is your dream of success?
I don’t know. Finding a bag of money? Paying my mom back somehow for putting up with the heartache of watching her son work entry level jobs for the rest of his life because he wanted to drop out of a private university to play music with his friends? Some recognition would be nice, but I doubt I’ll find it in this town. Everyone wants to get paid to do what they love. I guess the tricky part is not compromising the integrity of that thing in order to get paid for it.

Pay attention to Enemy Airship. The band seems to have lit a creative fire under Zach’s ass. It’s more cohesive and purposeful than Nonreturner with some rather strong parts in place. If they really are able to build their sound from scratch (the ultimate in DIY achievement and Sonic Youth worship), the sounds coming out of Columbia, MO should be able to create a niche for Enemy Airship such that Zach will quit those entry level jobs and do what he obsesses over loves.

Note: I’m still waiting on a few “big” names to submit their answers to the interview questions, but be on the lookout for Zach’s partner-in-crime tomorrow and who knows beyond that. If you have suggestions for people that should contribute to this series, feel free to submit names in the comments.

Tagged with: , ,

Indie-Craft Interview #10: Justin Nardy

Posted in Indie-Craft, Interview by Zac on May 14, 2012

I met Justin Nardy on a trip to St. Louis to see Caribou. An artist on his label (Ahmed Gallab, AKA Sinkane) was playing drums for Caribou and Justin was driving so that he and his partners could conduct some label business. I found that Justin was a likable, well-grounded artist, a rare thing these days or so I thought at the time. Since then, we’ve had some beers and BBQ as well as traded some vinyl. He’s a part of the small group of people I turn to in this town for information regarding the music and art scenes. He’s always good for inspiration as several of his pieces hang in my home. Here’s what he had to say regarding Indie-Craft…

1. Describe your craft(s).
Well I tend to dabble in a bunch of different things. I have been an active musician and part of the CoMo music scene for about 17 years now. I have played in numerous bands such as, Sooprize Package, Quatermast Wind, Amputee Set, Subscribe, Carryon Killaway, Bald Eagle, The Foundry Field Recordings, and I currently sing and play bass in New Tongues. Besides playing music, I was a co-owner of local record label Emergency Umbrella. I also work full time as a screen printer for two locally owned shops, and screen print posters out of my basement when I have free time, or a burst of creative energy. I have also provided bands, local business, and random cool people with 1” buttons for the last 10 years or so. I illustrate, and do random graphic design projects, and have always been the “art/design guy” in all of the bands that I have played in. So yeah I feel like I am jack of all trades, but maybe more successful in some areas more than others. Music has definitely been my main focus and craft for some time.

2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie?
That’s tough, but I think remaining indie really comes down to never having to answer to anyone but yourself. To always be able to have totally creative freedom in what you are doing, and by doing that I think you stay happy and sane (or I would like to think you stay happy and sane).

Though I feel like anymore it is really hard to stay indie, and not depend on a larger group or some money at hand. Most indie bands aren’t indie anymore, most indie labels aren’t 100% indie, there is money coming from somewhere, whether it is selling music to movies or commercials etc, but that’s what allows those bands and labels to keep going. So maybe the definition of indie has changed. I think it is fine to make money off of your art or passion, but remaining indie all depends on what you do with that money once you have it, do you completely change everything or do you carry on like always with a little more funds to help you along the way? I don’t know if any of that makes sense, but in the end remaining indie to me means I am happy and I don’t have to answer to anyone or change what my creative outlook is to please some asshole and make them money.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?
Well I don’t know if I have ever personally created any art or music that has changed people’s lives or improved them, but overall I think music and art are two of the most important things people can have in their lives. I know that I would not be the person I am today without music and art. They improve the quality of life.

By being a musician in Columbia for such a long time I think I, with the help of many others have built a scene and a community of awesome people with many talents and that we have overall improved Columbia as a town. By creating music, art, putting out records, and bringing numerous bands to Columbia we have made it a better town to live in. We not only provided entertainment and things to do in a town that sometimes lacks entertainment and things to do, we have also created some pretty amazing bands and music. The musicians in this town are definitely a great group of people that are super talented and I feel like most of the bands here support each other and have each other’s back. And that is a great feeling to have, that we all have a support group and a tight knit of people that are always there for you and help push you to be creative. I am still blown away that places like The Hairhole and Rag Tag exist in this town, where you can go and constantly be surrounded by talented like minded people.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?
Other local bands, indie labels, lots of things on etsy, vinyl nerds, screen printers, people who book local shows, True/False, my wonderfully talented and supportive girlfriend Julie Hayes, indie record stores, craft beer etc. etc. etc.

5. What is your dream of success?
To wake up every day and be happy doing what I am doing and to be completely comfortable in my own skin.

I am not there, in fact there is much of my everyday life that is pretty opposite of that. I wake up and go to a job that I hate and make someone else a ton of money while I struggle to get by. Which is tough because I am doing a form of art that I love (screen printing), but instead of doing it under my own terms and conditions and remaining “indie” I am working for people that I generally hate and despise. I have been in tons of bands and l have loved everything I have done in those bands, yet none of them have been a complete success. When I turned 30 I thought I might completely stop playing music, and yet I still struggle with it and to be happy doing it. The record label that I was part of, that I loved and that put out a bunch of great records by friends and amazing bands went under. The part of me that loves to draw, screen print, and do design work constantly struggles to find motivation to do anything. So I feel like success is a long long way from becoming a reality. I am successful and happy that I get to wake up every day with a person that drives and pushes me to be creative, and that I am still actively playing music and creating art at age 31 but I definitely struggle with it at times. My ultimate goal of success would to be able to open a venue/bar/record store/screen printing/art gallery/musician practice space and employee all my wonderfully talented friends and make it the best thing in the world and have it support all of us and our families while providing an amazing place for people to hang out.

You can find Justin’s work at his old blog or his new blog. Buy his art here and you might be able to score a Bald Eagle record at Insound. In the meantime, don’t forget to peruse all the Indie-Craft interviews. There are still more to come…

Tagged with: , ,

Indie-Craft Interview #9: Julie Hayes

Posted in Indie-Craft, Interview, Uncategorized by Zac on May 9, 2012

Julie Hayes bombed the shit out of this town.

What I mean is that she knit-bombed the shit out of this town. Once I learned of her shenanigans, I promptly made sure that my other blog featured her and her other crafty creations. Those creations (and finds) can be obtained for a reasonable fee at her Etsy shop – possibly world headquarters for indie-craft wares – where one can ascertain a pretty good feel for Julie’s aesthetic and a bit of her personality, making it clear why she’s so cool.

I feel lucky to know someone so cool. So I’m introducing her to the Coalition now… 

photo by Tony Irons

1. Describe your craft(s).
Well, I went to school for fine arts and ever since I graduated I have done nothing conceptual. I do what’s called “low” art in the art world. And I am an avid dabbler. I knit, sew, embroider, make jewelry, build things from reclaimed wood, you name it! I find that if it has a function, I’m drawn to making it. I think that was my biggest problem with “fine” art, it had no function to me.

2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie? 
I have worked with lots of people on lots of projects, but I could never imagine working with someone who I did not know. Being independent allows you to keep control of what you’re making and how you’re making it. I couldn’t imagine someone from the public trying to tell me what to make.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?
In the most basic sense, it makes me a better person. For a long time after I graduated I wanted to make things to sell to people. I think that mind set is changing for me. I think I’m starting to savor making things for myself again; holding back a little what I’ve been giving all those years. It makes me happy to be able to produce a piece that I’m proud of and that makes me a better person. I have done public art pieces in Columbia and I’m happy with the response that I’ve gotten to them. I hope that they make people think and react to them, though I cannot say exactly what those reactions are. I’ve been interviewed for pieces I’ve done and the reaction seems positive.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?
EVERYTHING. Literally. It’s hard to not be inspired in todays world. So much is at our fingertips. I remember being in school and having to trudge to the library to look at books put out by artists who have been dead for 20, 30, 40, 100 years. Today, you can sit down, turn on your computer and be hit by inspiration. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not inspired by a color, or a project or a scene. It’s incredible.

5. What is your dream of success?
Happiness. Whatever that looks like to me is what I imagine success to be. Right now I am happy. I have a lot of time to myself to make things and to create and that makes me happy. In the future, that may change, but I don’t know. Being an artist is a very personal thing and to me, success has always been a very personal thing too. It’s never been about money or fame. It’s always been about my state of mind and how I feel about my work. My work has changed so much since I started making things so many years ago, and I can only guess that my idea of success will change as well.

You can learn more about Julie at her blog, Yonder. And don’t forget the rest of the Indie-Craft interviews.

Indie-Craft Interview #3: Kim Sherman

Posted in Film, Indie-Craft, Interview by Zac on May 2, 2012

Kim Sherman is a really busy person. So busy that I thought for sure she’d never get around to this “interview.” Not only did Kim prove me wrong, but she went above and beyond the call of duty by contributing the many interesting bits of information you find below the picture I lifted from her Facebook profile. There’s indie filmmaking and indie rock-making she does, filling every open slot on her calendar. She used to head the music scheduling at True/False before returning this year with both a film to screen (V/H/S) and busking gigs for her band, Jerusalem and the Starbaskets, to fulfill.

Speaking of True/False, it was suggested that Kim was the real story of this year’s fest. How often does someone go from volunteering/working for a major film festival to a contributing filmmaker? This doesn’t even mention Jerusalem and the Starbaskets’ thrilling set at one of the fest’s showcases following a year where the band found some well-deserved acclaim for their album, Dost. In other words, Kim is a big part of the best thing that happens in Middle Missouri.

All of this makes Kim Sherman an ideal subject for the Indie-Craft Interview series… 

1. Describe your craft(s).
I am an independent filmmaker and the drummer for Jerusalem and the Starbaskets. My day job is producing for feature films. In independent cinema, this usually involves being pretty hands on in all aspects of the creation of a film. My role and job shape shift a bit, depending on the project and my relationship with the project’s director. For some director’s, I deal more with the practical aspects of the project. Things like hiring cast and crew, working with unions, securing permission for locations. Really, the things no one likes to do on a film set. For other director’s, I work in a more collaborative sense, and help guide the story with them. In either case, I work very hard to make sure the director has everything they need to tell the story, and that they have the space and freedom to insert their voice in that story. If the audience takes something away from the film, hopefully a strong emotional or academic response, and the director feels like people really understand what they were trying to convey, I feel like I did a good job. Though, it helps when the film sells and everyone involved makes money.

2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie?
Choosing Independent Filmmaking was really easy for me, being from the Midwest. I wasn’t exposed to studios, early on, and I never really dreamed of working for a studio. Though, I respect that the industry needs both halves to survive. Some of my favorite films came out of studios. I know that “independent film” meant something different in the 90′s, when that meant a film cost less than $3 million. Now there is a much wider range for independent financing, so films are made for under 10K pretty regularly and with great success. Technology and talent are available in abundance at all levels of that financial spectrum. So for me, the biggest reason for staying in the Independent realm, is simply being able to work on stories that I find interesting, that I feel are important, and that maybe break the rules a bit.

I still want all the world to see my work, and that is certainly easier to achieve in the studio system. But the more overhead a film is associated with, the more money it has to make just to break even. The more money a film has to make, the more creative decisions are made solely on that point. The more a film compromises just to make money, the more contained the vision becomes. Its hard to do something different when you are only thinking about the people that are happy to see the same story over and over again. As a filmmaker and an audience member, I want to see stories that are maybe dirtier, darker, and that challenge the way life is portrayed on television and in theaters.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?
Independent Filmmaking, as I stated, can allow for more freedom of storytelling. The actual filmmaking process has become more accessible to more people, which opens the medium up for interpretations by various cultures. The idea is that independent film and audiences will gravitate towards stories that haven’t been told and recycled a million times over.

Until recently, I had been working mostly in horror films. I was fortunate to work with a few friends that know the genre very deeply, and wanted to see the old conventions given new life. They developed stories with a woman as the central protagonists. The women in these films survive where others would break. I really loved this element. I recognize that Horror is an inherently sexist genre, but I do see more and more audiences growing tired of watching women mercilessly tortured. There is a trend towards women overcoming the demons, serial killers, mutant rapists, and abusive spouses from another planet, and not just because they are pure and virginal. Horror, like sci-fi and other genre work, is a great way to point out the evils of society and hopefully make a path to the solution of these evils.

More recently, I have been involved with dramas that feature women on the verge of falling out of society. Caught between their crimes and the reality of the punishment, I ran towards these stories for their polarizing central characters. This is an idea that had been reserved for male characters, with women playing sidekick and savior. I love being a part of something that provides strong and challenging roles for women.

Beyond just women too, I hope to always work on films that push forward groups that would otherwise be marginalized in film, on and off the screen. Hopefully these stories won’t seem so fringe, in the very near future. In this way, I feel like my craft contributes to society.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?
Several times a year, I record and tour with my bandmates, Jeremy Freeze and John Garland, as the drummer for Jerusalem and the Starbaskets. My bandmates are like family, and I very sincerely love the music we make. I’ll sometimes blush when I hear it playing in Uprise or other public spaces, but I really do love listening to our albums always. Jeremy Freeze is one of my favorite songwriters, and I never get sick of listening to his voice and lyrics.

When I work on films, I spend a lot of time on my computer. I have a hard time concentrating if I’m not listening to music. It’s better for my brain than coffee even.

Recently, Jeremy and John contributed music to a film I produced. For me, it was the start of something I have been working up to. I want to combine my two loves, film and music. I am currently co-writing a film with Jeremy, that we are hoping to make late in 2013.

5. What is your dream of success?
I have more immediate goals for success, that include sustainability. It’s hard for people in my profession to balance time and money. It’s especially hard when you work in micro-budget independent films. Long term, I am starting to get back to directing, and it is my hope that I can find a successful balance between directing, producing, and drumming. If I can do this, live comfortably off of the things I have dedicated my life to, and still be there for my friends and community, I will feel like a huge success.

If you get a chance, check out Kim’s work. V/H/S hits On Demand and theaters this fall. Dost is available in exchange for your dollars. And I’m sure Kim has something else up her sleeve in the meantime.

[Full disclosure: Kim is the only person to ever call me a journalist. This can be both good and bad. Make of it what you will.]

 

Indie-Craft Interview #2: Patric Chocolate’s Alan McClure

Posted in Indie-Craft, Interview by Zac on April 19, 2012

This blog focuses on the intersection of indie rock, craft beer, and other independent and/or artisanal industries. I’ve tried to raise awareness of indie and craft industries while defining what constitutes “indie” and “craft” as best I can. The idea of indie-craft has been bouncing around in my skull for a while. However, it’s been tough for me to pinpoint what I want to say about it. With the indie-craft interview series, I’d like to get the perspective of those who actually produce all these great consumables and share those thoughts here.

Alan Patric McClure is one of a small handful of bean-to-bar chocolate makers in the entire US. His Patric Chocolate brand has won a couple of Good Food Awards and gets mentioned in foodie rags often. His cocoa nibs are used in beers by Jolly Pumpkin and Deep Ellum Brewing Company as well as available from Northern Brewer, a popular homebrew supply store.

Over the last couple years, I’ve shared a few good beers, a discussion of Neutral Milk Hotel’s Aeroplane Over the Sea, and a Berkshire hog with Alan. Today, he shares his thoughts on indie-craft.

1. Describe your craft(s).

I make chocolate from bean to bar. It involves sourcing properly grown, fermented and dried cocoa beans with interesting and delicious flavor notes and helping them to shine, while creating additional pleasant flavors via roasting, refining and conching. We then mold and package the finished chocolate bar. From beginning to end, this entire process, from sourcing to finished bar, takes months.

 2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie?

I believe that a craft producer can grow to be quite large, while still being independent (i.e. not controlled by the public). I also believe that being independent allows for greater creativity, though independent companies don’t always innovate.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?

Good chocolate makes people happy, feeding their sense of wellbeing, while also literally feeding them. It is good to be a part of both processes.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?

Spirits, beer, cheese, bread, charcuterie, and pickles.

5. What is your dream of success?

I don’t know. It changes all the time. I suppose that all versions include external appreciation for the chocolate that we make, and continued existence. Earning a living wage wouldn’t be half bad either.

Alan’s chocolate has ruined all other chocolate for me. It’s that good. His chocolate is responsible for my chocolate epiphany the same way Stone’s Ruination IPA was a beer epiphany or Nirvana’s Nevermind changed music for me forever. Don’t take my word for it. Find out for yourself and buy his fine, artisanal chocolate here.

Tagged with: ,

Believers

Posted in Live by Zac on April 4, 2011

This post was published over the weekend at The CoMO Collective. Today is the official launch for the site. I don’t know exactly what that means, but if you are a fan of this blog and live in Columbia, Missouri, you should head on over there and see what we have to offer. It’s about more than music, but we should all branch out once in a while. As of now, there are no beer posts, but that might change.

That said, Believers is quickly becoming one of my favorite local bands. I suspect there are bigger things in their future, but for now I’ll relish in their two demos (linked below) and the one time I’ve been able to see them play. I don’t know whether they’re really that good or that I just like the idea of them. Either way, the band members I know in the band are nice guys. If you see that they’re playing, check them out. Once you start to hear them mentioned on other blogs, remember that you read about them here first.

Believers courtesy of yvynyl

Take that first Clap Your Hands Say Yeah record, mix in the better version of Vampire Weekend, add a dash of White Rabbits with a teaspoon of mysteriousness, you get Believers. Soon, you’ll all be believers and you’ll thank me for pointing you in their direction. You might think blog bands are passé and ignore this endorsement, but you would be missing out.

Maybe the most engaging and exciting thing that happened during all of True/False about a month back was the Believers set at the Super Secret party. Since then, the band has played a highly-discussed show at Mojo’s and is signed up to play Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest in Kansas City on April 8th. The sense of excitement and wonder in a Believers set is only challenged by all the interest the band is garnering.

Don’t take my word for how good this band is. Download their two tracks “Far From Home” and “Forward Forward Back” and you’ll figure out what all my gushing is about.

Far-From-Home

Forward Forward Back _Demo_

Tagged with: ,

Seeing Puppies, Unicorns, and Rainbows

Posted in Live, Manifesto by Zac on October 6, 2010

Being a critic[1] is a hard gig[2]. People have a hard time with a little criticism[3]. When you don’t see things through rose-colored lenses, you’re a Debby Downer or a glass-half-empty or whatever. The trouble is that we don’t live in a black and white world where things are simply good or bad. There’s a ton of gray in between that needs to be acknowledged. Of course, if you’re the one who does the acknowledging, you’re a wet blanket, stick in the mud…You get the picture[4].

Life and art are not all puppies, unicorns, and rainbows[5]. Critique is a part of experience. Just because we try to ignore the blemishes doesn’t mean they’re not there. Ignoring the imperfect makes it tough on those of us who can’t ignore it. We are ostracized for not seeing double rainbows and made to feel guilty for ruining everyone else’s buzz. However, what critics are doing is trying to make sense of an insane world and hopefully connect with those who feel the same[6].

I’m not here to piss on your parade[7]. I just like to discuss the pros and cons of food, drink, locations, people, art, etc. It’s all beautiful in its imperfections. I thrive on this. Imperfection is real, concrete, authentic. Let me have my reality.

From where is this coming?

I used to write a blog called living in misery. You may have heard of it[8]. The name came from a pun I created in fifth grade to remember my states and capitals. It has little to do with my feelings for Missouri and, specifically Columbia, but there are connections. I won’t lie. It was difficult moving here and when I complained, no one would allow me to express my…well…misery. All I wanted to do was work through these experiences in order to make some sense of it. Could it have hurt my friends and acquaintances to wallow a bit with me, to not make me feel like such an outsider? The answer you’re looking for is “no.” Join me in my sorrow and I’ll have your back when it’s your turn.

The crazy part is that I often try balance the positive with the negative. A brewer might drive me crazy when he plasters Comic Sans all over his labels, but I will still proclaim his beers to be among the best in all of craft beer. An album may have a terrible closing track, but the rest of it could still be stellar. Our town has this great documentary film festival, but sometimes it’s a little overcrowded or it tries too hard to come off as apolitical. I love all of these things and just want parts of them to be better. Unfortunately, my detractors only see the negatives. They wonder why I hate that beer, won’t listen to the album, and refuse to attend the film festival. It’s as if they can’t imagine someone liking something without thinking that it’s perfect.

What’s really difficult to deal with is when I am in agreement that something is great or good, but when I mention that one chink in the armor, I’m suddenly seen as a traitor. Take the town in which I live. Columbia is your typical midwestern college town, a bastion of liberalism[9] tucked away amongst a sea of conservatism. However, it’s got issues. There’s uncontrolled suburban sprawl; city government just made a turn for the conservative; it’s rather segregated[10], etc. These things are not unique to Columbia, but whenever I acknowledge COMO’s shortcomings, people are all over me. I get the “It’s a great place to raise kids” when the schools are broke and lack of diversity is stifling. Upon pointing this out, I am automatically thrown in the same pot as Nazis, pedophiles, and Jayhawks[11]. It’s not like I don’t like some things about COMO; it’s just that I don’t think it’s Nirvana and actually prefer larger, more diverse cities. The fact that I disagree doesn’t mean you’re wrong. It just means that we have different opinions and values. It’s OK.

The point is that just because I see more than puppies, unicorns, and rainbows (if I see them at all), doesn’t mean that your [favorite thing] is bad or has no value. Conversely, just because I don’t agree 100% with your assessment doesn’t mean that my critique has no value either.

The reason I blog is to be a part of a conversation. You can join or not, but realize that I won’t always love the same things you do. And just because I critique doesn’t mean I think it’s all bad.

Now that that’s out in the open, it’s time to get back to some bloggin’. There is a record review in my near future (among many that I’ve somehow skipped), but I’ll conclude with some thoughts on two shows about which I have mixed feelings.

Last week, I saw The National in STL. Despite proclaiming their album among the year’s best months ago, I sort of expected this show to be boring. While the material is strong, the images conjured of a live show were not promising. I was wrong about this as The National put on a solid show, playing all the songs we wanted to hear[12]. While it was good, it was not great. I was probably in the minority on this opinion, but I stand by it. They’re not a really excitable band and they don’t play the most excitable music. In fact, The National are a bit brooding. They’re an excellent band, but they don’t put on a punk rock show. In fact, it seems the most excitement happened as frontman Matt Berninger walked out into the crowd. It was a bit premeditated, but it certainly did the trick for most in the audience. Still, it was a nice show[13].

Just last night, I decided to check out the Mountain Goats at the urging of friends. Let me just say that I get why people love the Mountain Goats. John Darnielle is an engaging, emotive singer/songwriter. People knew his songs by heart and he certainly enjoyed performing for his audience. That said, it was a little too earnest for my taste. There’s a reason I don’t attend singer/songwriter shows or play the shit out of the Indigo Girls. Maybe I missed something, but the Mountain Goats are not what I thought they would be.

OK. That felt better. Tear me up in the comments.

Notes:
1I use this term lightly, but it seems to be the most accurate term to use when describing what I do with blogs.
2I use this term even more loosely as this blog is certainly not a “gig” in any way. It’s a hobby and should be treated as such. It has no influence or bearing on your experiences.
3I recognize that I too struggle with the criticism, but I look at this more as a way to stand up for myself. I catch a lot of shit for the blogs I write and most of it is never published in the comments. I typically get bombarded on Facebook or in-person. I don’t deny your right to criticize; I’m just refuting your claims.
4There are many interesting metaphors for being critical/negative.
5Although, I suppose art could be.
6This is similar to the idea that many of us prefer sad songs because they comfort us in letting us know that we’re not the only people who feel that way.
7I prefer using “piss” over “rain” in this analogy. It’s more potent. Rain feels passive.
8Most of you followed me from that old blog to this one. So, you don’t need to respond to this point.
9This is debatable in that it’s relative. COMO is as liberal as possible in middle Missouri. It’s not San Francisco liberal. Hell, it’s not Orange County liberal.
10This is an interesting point. Many COMO-lovers will admit this but claim rich diversity in the same breath. Sorry. If your community is segregated, diversity is not your strong-suit.
11There isn’t much difference between these three in COMO. In fact, the latter might be the least desirable.
12I will say that the show gave me a reason to revisit The National’s entire catalog, one I’ve admittedly neglected for the most part.
13I forgot to mention that Owen Pallett opened and did not disappoint. He’s like a good, stripped-down version of Andrew Bird.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,067 other followers