Beer and Pavement

Indie-Craft Interview #4: Bob Hartzell

Posted in Indie-Craft, Interview by SM on May 3, 2012

Bob Hartzell found me over a year ago, offering me an Archers of Loaf poster he printed back in the nineties. Since those halcyon days of yester-decades, he’s made quite a nice niche for himself in the Midwestern art scene with his Augratin Press. It’s nice to see the posters he creates for shows here, but his other projects are cool as well. Bob agreed to share some thoughts for yet another edition of the Indie-Craft interview series

1. Describe your craft(s).
I make things. I am mostly a silkscreener but I have been doing more light sculptures now that people are buying them. I also do as much community based work as I can because it is the most rewarding.

2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie?
It helps hold of the eventual moment when I start to suck.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?
I think my community-based work encourages people to do creative things outside self-ordained, artistic environments. Other than that, my craft contributes nothing to society.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?
Furniture and Architecture as well as broken things.

5. What is your dream of success?
I am lucky to have done what I have. If it all goes down from here, I should still consider my self fortunate, but I will probably complain anyway.

Bob’s work can be found via Facebook or his website.

Tagged with: ,

Indie-Craft Interview #3: Kim Sherman

Posted in Film, Indie-Craft, Interview by SM 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 SM 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: ,

Indie-Craft Interview #1: Stillwater’s Brian Strumke

Posted in Beer, Indie-Craft, Interview by SM on April 17, 2012

This blog focuses on the intersection of indie rock, craft beer, and other independent and/or artisinal 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.

Brian Strumke is the gypsie brewer who produces the delectable Stillwater Artisanal Ales in his hometown of Baltimore as well as in various breweries around Europe. His take on the Saison has been a real kick to the craft beer scene, challenging convention while creating a great deal of success for himself. It’s been a quick rise to the top of the craft beer universe for Stillwater as Brian has reached the top of many lists, is in the process of establishing his own pub, and even getting his own distribution truck wrap.

After running into Brian on a couple of occasions, I figured that I could bug him to be my first indie-craft interviewee. Luckily, he agreed. The results are below…

1. Describe your craft(s).

Artistic interpretations in the form of beer.

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

Freedom is paramount, I am very adamant on doing things my way especially because my art is an expression of myself and maintaining the control of my art is what is most important to me.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?

Working with beer is about sharing good times with people. I produce a product that is designed for enjoyment and also use that product to make people question what beer actually is… Nothing we do is straight forward and I enjoy creating intrigue within my consumer base.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?

Anything that is backed by a good philosophy and executed well.

5. What is your dream of success?

Happiness.

If you would like to try some Stillwater Artisinal Ales, move to one of these places or petition your local distributor to bring Stillwater to your neck of the woods. If you want to see what I’ve had to say about Brian’s beers in the past, go here.

Be on the lookout for more Indie-Craft interviews. I have chocolate makers, filmmakers, music makers, and possibly more beer makers lined up (or potentially lined up) for future interviews. If you have a suggestion for someone I should badger with the five questions above, let me know.

Tagged with:

Dubb Nubb Interview (Director’s Cut)

Posted in Interview, Records by SM on March 8, 2012

Just like yesterday’s interview with Believers, I submitted a rather long interview for the T/F blog that needed editing. This one is with Dubb Nubb. You can read the edited version here or scroll down and read my director’s cut below. For more information on Dubb Nubb, go to their Facebook page and/or their Bandcamp space where they offer many lovely recordings for your enjoyment.

Give us your elevator spiel about Dubb Nubb.

Deelia – We’re an indie folk band and we’re a folk band. And we’re guitar, ukulele, one drum, and tamborine. And we do harmonies and we’ve been together since we were about 16/15. And Amanda joined the band in the summer. And we go on little tours and stuff all the time. We just put out like our third or fourth release.

Hannah – Some people would like to say that we’re like indie folk. And some people say we’re freak folk. I think it’s because it’s hard to categorize what our genre is. It’s kind of a mixture of lots of different stuff. Because we grew up listening to Bob Dylan, stuff like that. That kind of folk. Right now we’re listening to Fleet Foxes and that other kind of folk and combining that together.

I read somewhere that you started writing songs at 15. I suspect that you grew up in a musical household. What was that like? What kinds of experiences did you have growing up that made you give songwriting and performing a try? What kind of music was playing in your home?

Delia – Well, Hannah started playing guitar when she was ten. Our dad plays guitar and he taught her how. We always grew up listening to music. My parents blaring music on the stereo like every morning is how we woke up.

Hannah – A very artsy, musical family.

Amanda – And they took us to see a lot of shows. We would go to concerts in our pajamas, like on weekends, I don’t know, music festivals and stuff like that. Going to shows was such a part of our family.

What are your biggest influences currently? What are you listening to? What makes you think “oh, that sounds like us” or “that’s what we want to do”?

Delia – I think one of the major influences we had was this band called First Aid Kit. They put out a cover a Fleet Foxes song. They have these harmonies…they put out an EP not too long ago. They’re pretty much our age, too. So, we were really inspired by them in the beginning.

Hannah – I’ll say what is really inspirational is going to shows to see bands perform live. Like Shenandoah Davis and we saw…oh, what’s that band we saw when we were like 16? [turning to Delia] …uh, if you were still in love, why are you asleep?

Delia – Uh…

Amanda – Like ladies…

Hannah – Yeah like ladies we’ve seen live…

[The sisters fumble a bit, trying to recall bands they’ve enjoyed.]

So, just any live music or do you prefer the harmonies or a certain sound or a certain thing you’re drawn to?

Delia – I mean, we like a lot of different kinds of music. We listen to electronic music and just general indie people, like on Pitchfork or whatever. That kind of stuff too. So, we listen to a lot of different kinds of music. So, our sound is unique like oh, this is a folk song…there’s a lot of different elements…

Amanda – Do you just sit down and write a song and you want it to sound like this?

Delia – Not always, but sometimes if I have a really weird inspiration, I want to use this element in there. I know other people who are in bands who are like “I want to write a song that sounds like this band.” And I think that is so silly.

Well, let’s talk about the songwriting process a little bit. Do one of you come to the other one with an idea? Do you hear something…obviously, you don’t want to emulate it, but maybe something gives you and idea…Do you say “let’s sit down and write a song?”

Delia – Our songwriting process has changed a little bit now that we don’t live in the same house. Basically, what happens a lot of the time is that I will write a song by myself and it will be kind of an unfinished song. We’ll come together and we’ll finish it together, putting out all the parts for all the instruments.

Amanda – Don’t you write them as poems first a lot of times?

Delia – I used to, in the past, I would just write lyrics, but lately I’ve been having the melody in my head while I write.

[turning to Hannah] So, where do you fill in?

Hannah – She’ll sing it to me. Basically, she’ll sing me the song and I’ll make up chord progressions, write a bridge, and write a chorus.

[our food arrives]

There’s a lot of naïveté to your aesthetic and energy, in a good way of course. It reminds me of Beat Happening and even some of the Moldy Peaches stuff. However, you write some pretty heady, mature songs with some complex arrangements and lyrics that show you to be well beyond your years. How did you get to that point? Were there some experiences or just years of work?

Delia – One of our most intense songs, “Soldier”, is like…People get really emotional with that song. But the song is about… I wrote it when I was sixteen… It’s about my high school boyfriend going to bed too early… It’s about my high school boyfriend. We broke up and it’s about that. It’s just this really immature subject matter, but I made it into this really intense, crazy song, right? … Sometimes when you’re really upset, you write the best songs, of course.

Amanda – Do you set out to write a song with a really good metaphor or do you just write lyrics as they come out?

Delia – I think it was how I was feeling, you know? I really felt that way at the time. And looking back that was really dumb. I mean, that guy was…whatever.

You’re writing a lot of poetry…

Delia – I’ve always been a writer. I love creative writing. I always have. When I was in elementary school, that was my jam. I’m sort of in the creative writing program at Mizzou right now. That’s always been an interest of mine. I guess that plays into when I want to write a song. … It’s hard to be like “How did you write that?” I just sat down and … That was one of the quickest songs I ever wrote. Some songs take me forever and that one I just wrote it in a matter of hours. That’s like the best songs sometimes.

Sometimes immediacy…when you don’t play with something too much, it comes out way stronger, way more honest. Hannah, do you have anything to add to that?

Hannah – I haven’t written too many of the songs, but what I’ve noticed with Delia is she’ll have an idea. “Oh, I want to write a song inspired by this line of lyrics or inspired by this thing that happened to me. What’s most inspirational, I think, is when we go on tour and our different experiences outside of our everyday lives are really inspirational.

Even though you haven’t written as many of the songs yourself, you’re obviously involved in the structure piece of it as primarily the guitarist…I guess, that’s the piece you bring to it. Even the structures of the songs are pretty complex. It would be very easy to write some simple ditties or something, but you write some pretty complex songs. Is that from your training early on?

Hannah – I learned on classical guitar and I really enjoyed it. What I really liked about it was dynamics…What I really like is when a song is moving forward into a different idea musically. I try to make it sound interesting and that…I mean, you should listen to the lyrics, but you should listen to the music too.

Well, a great band…that works. You have to have all those components. Then, you bring in your sister to play percussion. So, when did you (Amanda) come in?

Amanda – I joined the band in May, because we were going to do a little tour after they graduated from high school.

Hannah – You kinda joined our recording in March.

Delia – That’s true.

Amanda – I did play percussion on some of their recordings, but that was like sitting at a full drum set. You know, playing some parts. And so, when we were trying to figure out what to do for this tour, I had some drums in my parents’ basement…but I didn’t want to really pack a whole drum set…So, I just found this drum my dad had, an old banjo and it broke. He had taken it apart and used it as a drum. I just started playing it and it sounded cool. … One thing that I like about adding the percussion in is that it kind of… [turning toward her sisters] You guys are amazing at what you do, the dynamics and stuff, but they were really not that good at keeping a steady tempo [laughing].

Hannah – I am like the queen of rushing. I just want to go faster. It’s really bad.

Amanda – So, I feel good about keeping them on tempo.

Delia – It’s good to have that heartbeat of the song. It really adds a lot of texture. I think before, it didn’t sound as…I think it can be more epic now.

Amanda – And it’s really simple. I don’t do anything very complicated at all.
[I then proceed to tell the girls how Pavement added Bob Nastanovich to the lineup just to help Gary Young keep the beat.]

Amanda – I was booking shows for them, coordinating their recording, and merch and all that for three years. It’s been awesome to actually play with them as well. Not just bossing them around.

You boss them around?

Amanda – Sorry, was I really bossy?

Hannah – You’re still bossy.

Delia – But it’s okay, because you’re the boss!

One thing that I noticed in a lot of the songs is that there are a lot of things about places, distance, and travel. There was the whole project you did – It Feels Like Home – seems to be running throughout your material… Is travel a part of your lives? Have you had a lot of people come in and out of your lives? Where does that come from?

Delia – I think the original thing it came from is that Amanda used to live in Jackson, Mississippi for like three years. We would always go down there with our parents and drive eight hours to visit her. We go down there and do Dubb Nubb stuff there a lot of the time. That trip in itself inspired some of our songs… Ever since we did all that Jackson stuff, people really liked us down there… We decided we should go other places, travel other places and see how people like it… It all started in Jackson, Mississippi.

Amanda – We didn’t really go on really far-reaching family vacations.

Hannah – Yeah, we never really went on family vacations. So, when we went to Jackson or to Nashville, it was like kind of a big deal for us.

Amanda – Well, also, like with places, these people…

Hannah – We experienced different cultures and kind of…

Delia – …more unique people that really impact you in a short amount of time and you never really see them again.

Amanda – And people are really connected to the places they live… So, if you write a song about that place, that’s gonna…

Delia – It’s like a memory.

Hannah – Like Tennessee Mountains. The St. Louis song… That’s one…

Amanda – But if you’re in Mississippi, and you say you wrote this song the last time I came to Mississippi and it has the word “Mississippi” in it, they’re gonna go crazy.

Delia – We played “Tennessee Mountains” in Tennessee… it was really fun.

Amanda – And that’s like way better than being at a show and be like “I know everybody has had a terrible breakup. This is a song about a terrible breakup. Yay!” It’s just happier. It’s a song about how much I love St. Louis.

So, do you consider yourselves full transplants or are you still St. Louis people?

Delia – It’s hard. I mean, we (she and Hannah) just came here in August… It’s hard to be like “Oh, we’re a band from Columbia!” I usually don’t say that. I usually say that we’re from Columbia but we’re a St. Louis band. I still feel connected to the St. Louis music scene. A couple of bands came from St. Louis for our show. We played the Blue Fugue last week. It was just so much fun and we’ve known those bands for a couple of years. We used to play shows with them on Cherokee Street… It’s hard to stray away from St. Louis.

You all had a lot of success there. Good press, you got to play Lou Fest. On top of that, there was all the touring, you’ve had a couple of opening gigs…

[our waiter interrupts for coffee refills]

So, you’ve done all these really cool things, especially in the last year… True/False, the Daytrotter session – which is a pretty big deal… What’s your personal highlights from the last year because a lot’s happened?

Delia – I would say the Daytrotter was the big… Oh my gosh, I can’t believe this is happening because we have always been fans of Daytrotter since we were very young… I think Lou Fest was really fun.

Hannah – Playing in Nashville…

Delia – …all the tours we went on this year were great! They all went really, really well.

Amanda – Yeah, this past tour we went around the state of Missouri and that was just really awesome. All the shows were really different, but they were all successful. Which is cool to say “We’re from Missouri and we’re only playing shows in Missouri.” … We played in Cape Girardeau and not a lot of bands stop through and play Cape Girardeau.

Delia – “You guys will have to come back…”

Amanda – It was cool to know that you don’t have to go very far to go on tour, get fans, and have a good time.

Well, it has been a knock on bands that are really great, but then they sort of fizzle out because they never leave town. So, they never get any exposure outside. There’s no way they can keep it going… Do you all have dreams and goals of something bigger? Not that there’s anything wrong with this, but…

Hannah – I think one of my dreams is to tour with a band that’s well-known. And that would just be really fun and get lots of exposure and learn from them.

Delia – Yeah, that would be the next step, definitely. We’re trying this summer.. We’re going to try to devote the summer to touring around. We’re playing a tour around working at rock ‘n roll girls camps. We’re going to work at one in Oakland, CA. So, we’ll tour around there…

Amanda – I’m excited for that.

Maybe you could start a rock ‘n roll camp for girls here?

Amanda – Seriously. That’s not an out of the question dream, because there are these rock ‘n roll camps for girls all over the country. Even in smaller places, like Murphysburg, Tennessee has one…. but there isn’t one in Missouri.

Yet.

Amanda – Yet! Exactly! So. we;re going to hopefully go to two different ones and be counselors and spend a week… And they do shows during lunch time. They have girl bands come play shows…

Delia – Our other dream is to play SXSW. We were trying to get on that recently, but we’re sorta not sure about it.

Amanda – It kind of sucks because of the timing… We’ll see. We’re still trying to get some kind of show.

But you are playing True/False again…

Delia – …which is awesome.

So, what do you enjoy about doing True/False?

Hannah – It’s so fun because… It’s fun to have an audience and play for people, but they didn’t come to hear us play. It’s kind of fun to see people’s reactions. People come up to tell us good job and it’s really rewarding…

Amanda – Yeah, because they didn’t come to see the music even… It’s not like they came to a show and never heard of the opening band. They came to see the movie…

Delia – So, sometimes we play the little church venue and everyone was just so into it. It was just so much fun. The acoustics were so good. We could sing really loud. It was awesome and we got to see a really good film. It was just a lot of fun. I think Columbia is a lot of fun at that time. Last year was so fun. Pearl and the Beard played…

Amanda – That was really cool to meet them…

Delia – Yeah, now they’re our friends…

Amanda – …and we opened for them.

Do you have plans to do more than just do your sets or do you try to go to parties, or see other films?

Hannah – I want to go to some of the shows, definitely. Maybe all of them. The other bands sound so cool. And I’ll definitely go to movies.

Delia – We didn’t get into some of the parties last year because we weren’t 21. That was a problem, I remember.

Amanda – Yeah, you’re still not 21. [laughs]

Hannah – I got a fake ID… just kidding.

Delia – On tour, we got kicked out of a bar we played at, because they were scared that the police would find out that we weren’t 21.

Amanda – And it was good that we got kicked out, because by that point there were only creepy dudes in there that were talking to us. So, we were really happy to leave.

Delia – Yeah, that’s cool…

Amanda – That was an insane tour…at an absinthe bar…

Absinthe bar? Where was that?

Amanda – St. Joseph… What was it called? [to her sisters]

Delia & Hannah – Cafe Acoustic!

Amanda – They were very nice.

Delia – Yeah, they were great.

Amanda – They kicked us out really nicely.

Well, they’re drinking absinthe…

Amanda – Right.

What do you have in store? You talked about SXSW, the summer camp thing, True/False of course… Anything else you have plans for?

Delia – We’re going to try to do a music video.

Hannah – Those are really successful… Our last one…

Delia – We did a little, tiny video of us just playing in the woods and people really liked it. We’ve never done like a full-scale video before. The last music video we put out was when we were sophomores in high school. A friend filmed us playing around in the park…

Amanda – It’s very cute.

Delia – Anyway, we have a friend who makes films and he said he would make a film for us. And we were thinking of putting out an EP because we have a lot of new stuff, but we’re not sure we’re going to record it. Those are two things we have in mind.

Last thing… Tell me something you love about each of your sisters.

[laughs]

Hannah – I love that we can play music together and have fun together. And not just hang out and be sisters, but hang out and be friends.

[sighs, laughs]

Amanda – My sisters are the funniest people that I know. And we have a funny, weird sister language. I like that…. [laughs] And they laugh at my jokes. Well, Delia laughs at my jokes. Hannah tells me that they’re bad. And that’s funny too.

Delia – We have so much fun going on tour for a week and half. We didn’t fight the whole time. I feel like a lot of bands fight on tour, but we had fun and made up weird jokes. It was really great. We do have fun having adventures with each other. We’re not just a band. We hang out and do stuff with each other on the weekends and stuff. It just a bond that not a lot of people have with their siblings. It’s really special.

[giggles]

Tagged with: ,

Believers Interview (Director’s Cut)

Posted in Interview, Records by SM on March 7, 2012

Photo by Benjamin Gross

Most blogs keep the content short and to the point. So, it was no surprise when my contributions were cut for the True/False blog. There are no hard feelings. That said, I’m posting the extended version of the interview below. You can read the edited version here in order to see what a real editor can do with my ramblings. Especially notice the title. Andrew is a titling genius.

Zac: As brothers growing up together, did you ever foresee something like Believers happening? What were your previous experiences playing in bands together (if there were any)?

Wesley Powell: When we were youngsters, the thought of playing music together didn’t traverse either of our minds, the age gap of four years felt more significant when i was sixteen and tyler twenty. We both made music individually, tyler more electronic and myself in my high school band called ‘Say Panther.’ Making music seemed the most fitting future for me since playing in high school and that sentiment came for tyler in college, but we only started to tinker together once i got to school in Columbia and he was still living there. We still have a few of those weekend-basement-recording tapes filed under ‘The 1960’s.’ After a minute of chewing on the idea of collaborating and overcoming the burden of pragmatism, we finally moved down to Austin three years ago to pursue that end. That was when we decided to make this our reason to be, for the time being.

Z: I first became familiar with your work at last year’s True/False Film Fest. Leah Cheaney, then one of the music coordinators for the fest, went on and on about the music you put together for the bumpers and that your band was set to tear the house down at the “Super Secret Party”. She was right on both counts. Can you talk about how that all came to pass and how that T/F project led to Believers?

WP: The project for the bumpers was isolated from Believers. [brother] Tyler [Powell] and I had collaborated with [cinematographer] Andrew Palermo to make the music for his first short film a few months prior and he decided to tag team once again for his work on the bumpers. As far as Believers goes, a few months before True/False, tyler and I realized we had gotten into the same funk as we did in Austin. Tyler had left Brooklyn and I had left school Holland to once again pursue musical ends. We had spent another year [this time back in the heartland] writing and scratch recording, but again lacked a band to bring the songs into the live realm.

So, to light a fire under our collective tush, we talked to [then-T/F music coordinator] Kim Sherman about setting us up with a show. Without a band and only some demo recordings to plea our worth. She graciously obliged. With a month and a half to prepare, we joined forces with Travis [Boots], Taylor [Bacon] and Pete [Hansen] and began pulling songs from our cache and making them into more than just bits and pieces. It somehow came together. Then Ron Rottinghaus [owner of Uprise Bakery/Bar] kindly let us play our first first show at Uprise where 3/5ths of us work, it was like a warm up/confidence booster for our first more public show. Certainly one of the more tender evenings of my life, playing in front of our whole community of friends at my second home. A few days later we played at two in the morning during that party. A blast. And here we are, our anniversary just a few days away.

Z: Speaking of those T/F bumpers, the soundtrack you put together was absolutely haunting and perfectly cinematic. Have you had other experiences with film and/or film scores that informed this work? What was the process like putting that music together?

WP: Like I mentioned, before working on the bumpers with Andrew Palermo, Tyler and I had made the music for his short film ‘A Face Fixed.’ it was a really enjoyable and fruitful process, quite a different approach to creating music. A soundtrack is more functional in that you need to create something that fits parameters set out by the film itself, its editing, aesthetic, vibe, and so on; all things outside of ones self. And there is no consideration of how the music will be achieved live, its all recording and production. The two of us hope to do more of it in the future, with one project coming up working with our friend [filmmaker] Polina Malikin on her short film.

Z: For those who haven’t had the pleasure, a Believers live set is a soulful, festive experience where the audience is taken over by the moment, moved to dance. What goes into a Believers set to make that happen or has it come about organically? Is it that much fun for you as well?

WP: I suppose it just so happens to happen as such. Which is nice. And most of the time it’s a real treat for us as well, getting all shaky and sweaty, wibbly wobbly. All this assuming equipment doesn’t bum out or something of the sort.

Z: A striking feature of your live sets is that you have two percussionists at the center of the stage while the rest of the band fills the edges with guitars, samples, vocals, and bass. What’s the reasoning behind that setup? Is it just a space issue or is there a purpose for such a configuration?

WP: For much of what we play live, the rhythm section carries us. Taylor and Pete are the metronomic backbone, so it makes sense to have us all focus on them. And we like to have the two of them close together so they can feed off of one another’s energy, and the rest of us can feed off that. Some kind of parasitic vibe feast. Ridiculous. Anyway, personally, these days I enjoy watch the drummers in bands more than anything, their mechanical rigor, their constance, and so on. So it’s nice to have it as a focus in our band as well.

Z: This past december, you embarked on what turned out to be a successful Kickstarter campaign to release your debut EP. How did the idea come about to go with this sort of fundraiser? How do you feel about all the support you’ve received?

WP: All of us living under the poverty line, we hoped to figure out a way to soften the blow of mastering and pressing a record ourselves. We figured setting up a pre-order was a good way of going about it, the potential of receiving a little help up front. We had had friends who were enabled to embark on and achieve their own artistic endeavors thanks to kickstarter, so we chose to follow in suit. We were floored at the generosity we received. It’s astounding how our friends have helped make this happen and shown their support of what we do. They helped overcome the silly burden of finance.

Z: Describe the writing and recording process for that EP. Were these just songs you developed for your live shows or had you planned to record all along?

WP: A bit of both. The songs on our little record had existed somewhere on a tape or hard drive [some for nearly three years, on that perpetual back burner], but were only truly realized with the band. Being able to hear everything in person, in reality with Travis, Taylor and Pete brought out a better understanding of some of the songs. This took some of them in fairly different directions.

Since we went about the whole process with a DIY outlook, recording and mixing turned out to more of an ordeal than expected. Tough stuff for amateurs, figuring out microphone choice and arrangements paired with varying compressions, reverbs, room sound, and all that jazz. We’ve been recording for some years, but never have we had to consider laying down something that will end up on vinyl and be shared more widely.
This was certainly a trying endeavor that tested our patience, took months longer than expected and drove us all a bit mad. Especially the task of finding the time to record and mix in between work and everything else. But, it was a undoubtedly good experience and we learned quite a bit. Recording Taylor and Pete together live for some tracks to try to capture some of the energy they have playing together was some of the more exciting stuff to lay down.

Z: What’s in store for Believers in 2012? Are there plans to tour, write and record more music, or contribute to T/F?

Next week we’ll once again be playing True/False, this time at a more reasonable hour during the Mojo’s a go-go. Looking forward to it quite a bit. True/False is always a trip. Delays and delays after first sending out our mixes to Chicago Mastering service, we finally received our test pressing today [YES!] which means we will most likely have them ready for sale at the festival. As for the further off weeks and months, we’re aiming to disseminate our record both in the mail and online and hope to set ourselves up for more touring around the heartland and beyond. Having music to share gives us another incentive to get out and on the move. It’s another kick in the pants to get on it. As per usual, we’ll see what happens.

I have Believers’ EP in my possession and will be reviewing it shortly. To follow and/or contact Believers, it might be best to go to their Facebook page, but they also have a website you should check out. Of course, you could always buy their EP and figure it all out for yourself.

Tagged with: ,