Oregon Bike Trails’ Zach Yudin // the YANP interview

MP3: Oregon Bike Trails – High School Lover

Oregon Bike Trails is the reason I started doing interviews again. It’d been months since I did one, but as soon as I heard these songs I knew I had to talk to the guy. So even though Zach doesn’t have a record label or any physical releases yet, I had to interview the guy.

Zach Yudin of Oregon Bike Trail :: the You Ain’t No Picasso interview

Let’s get the basics out of the way early on: can you tell us a little about yourself? Who you are and where you currently live.

I’m Zach Yudin, I am a college graduate who lives and works in Santa Monica, Ca. I like to surf, ride my bike, eat Mexican food.

Even though there must be a dozen bands out there with places in their names that have no relation to where the group is based (of Montreal, Architecture in Helsinki, etc), I was still fooled into assuming you were from Oregon. What made a California resident who writes beach-and-sun pop songs to get his band name from bike paths of the Pacific Northwest?

When I was a kid my family and I went on a summer vacation to Sun River, Oregon. My brother and I biked everywhere on these really cool intricate bike trails that went all through the town. I think those images have sort of stuck with me. When I was thinking of a band name Oregon Bike Trails sort of popped into my head, and I liked it.

Is Oregon Bike Trails your first band? How long have you been writing/recording music? Have you performed live as OBT?

I’ve been writing and recording music for about 5 years, and have had quite a few different bands/ musical projects. OBT was just another one of those projects. Officially starting on Jan. 18 2011, that was the day I posted my first song online through ‘BandCamp. I have performed live, although, I am still trying to piece together a band for future shows.

Read the rest of the interview after the break.

Continue reading Oregon Bike Trails’ Zach Yudin // the YANP interview

Yellow Ostrich’s Alex Schaaf // the YANP interview

So far 2011 has been a great year for discovering bands. My first new love of the year was Yellow Ostrich’s The Mistress, which combines percussion and melody in a union better than any I’ve heard since Local Natives burst on the scene. So after a lot of foot-dragging, I finally go around to asking Alex Schaaf to do an interview.

MP3: Yellow Ostrich – Hold On

Alex Schaaf of Yellow Ostrich // the You Ain’t No Picasso Interview

I love the vocal layering on this record. You’ve got everything from the simple (“Hate Me Soon”) to the wildly complex (“Libraries”). How did you get started using that so heavily in your arrangements? How do you approach the backing vocals for a song you’ve just begun?

I’ve always been a big fan of vocal harmonies, in all the music I’ve ever made vocals are usually a big part. And for the Mistress stuff, I thought about taking that even further, to use vocals as more of a rhythmic non-lyrical element, just as a kind of experiment. I had done an EP a month before I started working on the Mistress called Fade Cave that I did with almost all vocals, just a little drum machine here and there but it was mostly 100% vocals. Just a kind of experiment to see what i could come up with. And I liked using a looping pedal for my voice, and so I knew I could do the Mistress songs live that way, so I just wanted to see where I could take it.

Many songs on the Mistress started with a vocal riff, like “Hahahaohhoho” or “Campaign” or “Libraries,” then I built the rest of the song around that vocal riff. Some of them I added the vocals later, like “Hate Me Soon” or “Whale.” I had recorded a different version of “Whale” a few months prior that was mostly electronic, and “WHALE” was the first one i came up with for the Mistress, experimenting with that kind of vocal riff.

I’ve read that you have a background in vocal jazz and choral groups as well as training from the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. What’s it like bringing that basis into pop music? Did you have any classical teachers along the way who directly or indirectly helped you translate that teaching into a pop format?

I think I’ve always come from a pop standpoint first, rather than being a classical musician who decided to venture into the pop world. I studied classical music in school, mostly because it was the only kind of music I could study. But I did learn a lot about song structures and harmony, etc., and the effect that using different chords/chord changes can have on a song.

I took jazz guitar lessons the last two years of school from Steve Peplin, who does a lot of his own solo guitar stuff. He helped me think of different ways to approach the guitar, and to kind of think outside the box. He even played on one song — on “I’ll Run,” the intro is him. We put his amp facing into an upright piano, and then depressed the strings so that it rang through the piano and made the strings vibrate, giving it a kind of natural reverb. Then we mic’ed the top of the piano for that guitar sound. Kind of cool ways of thinking about guitar that I got out of studying at a Conservatory.

Continue reading the rest of the interview after the break

Continue reading Yellow Ostrich’s Alex Schaaf // the YANP interview

Richie Follin of Guards, Willowz & Cults // the YANP Interview

Photo by Karly Grawin

I didn’t put it together until this year, but I admired Richie Follin’s work years before Cults or Guards put Bandcamp on the map. When I went to CMJ in 2006, his band Willowz opened for the Mooney Suzuki and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately for me I didn’t follow up, otherwise the greatness of Cults might not have been such a shot from left field in early 2010.

MP3: Guards – Sail It Slow (feat. Madeline Follin)
MP3: Cults – Most Wanted

In the past 13 months, Cults have shot into major label orbit, Guards went from bedroom project to critically-acclaimed effort and Willowz quietly prepared to tour and record again. Yet when it’s time for Richie to chat, he makes it seem like he’s got all the time in the world — the true sign of a great guy.

Richie Follin of Guards, Willowz and Cults :: the YANP Interview

Guards and Cults both went from zero to sixty thanks to internet exposure. What’s that sudden lift like? Do you remember how you found out or realized that your EP was being posted all over the internet?

It’s really weird for me to see how it all works now just compared to just 10 years ago…It’s amazing how fast from the time you record something to posting it up on the internet people get to hear your music. It eliminates the need for touring every city to bring people something. I guess the internet has done that with everything…no more door to door salesmen. My step father has a saying now that goes, “everyone will be famous in 15 minutes”.

When your bandcamp page really got a lot of attention, there wasn’t much info to go on. Did any over eager writers or new fans get anything hilariously wrong?

The bandcamp format just has no “bio” section so I think a lot of people thought Cults and Guards were trying to be a lot more mysterious than we really were. People are still getting stuff wrong haha…a lot of the live reviews we get the writers seem to think Madeline is in Guards , but she isn’t…When Cults first posted that bandcamp page a lot of people were emailing the manager asking if it was me…So there has been a lot of confusion, but that seems to happen even when you post a bio. hehe.

Read the rest of the interview after the break.

Continue reading Richie Follin of Guards, Willowz & Cults // the YANP Interview

Idiot Glee interviews Neon Indian

A few weeks ago I got an email saying that Alan from Neon Indian was going to be in Lexington for a few days and was available for an interview. I agreed without looking at a calendar and it wasn’t until the day of the interview that I realized I would have about 15 minutes to interview and photograph him. So instead I called up James Friley of Idiot Glee to see if one talented young musician wouldn’t mind interviewing another. He agreed and I snapped a few photos on the set of the “Sleep Paralysist” music video.

Idiot Glee interviews Neon Indian

James: You’re doing a music video for Sleep Paralysist Are there more people in the band or are you the only one filming?

Neon Indian: Um, I’m the only one filming just for this one. I mean, for the music itself and for this track and the record, it’s just been me. Sleep Paralysist was co-produced with Chris Taylor from Grizzly Bear, but he was at Cochella this week. But yeah, I’m the only one on the shoot for this one, although I think that for some of the one’s we’re planning for “Step Up”, we’re gonna get the live band involved. We’re trying to find some cool and interesting ideas and ways to sort of interject them into the narratives.

James: So they don’t really write, they’re just the live band basically?

Neon Indian: Um, well yeah. For my other project, VEGA, it’s a little bit more collaborative. You know, Ronnie and Jason, I’ve been playing with for a very long time. They definitely have more of an aesthetic footing in Vega– it’s more of a band aesthetic anyway. It’s kinda this disco band with really heavy percussion, a lot of guitar and bass arrangements and stuff. That sort of seems to be their areas of expertise. Neon Indian is just a little bit more stripped and minimalist in its arrangements.

James: I guess my next question is, how did you get here? I know about the Miller House, I’m from Lexington and I’ve been here but how did you find out about it? Did you pick it or did someone else pick it?

Neon Indian: Well I think when Ben and Aaron were talking to me about different ideas they had for location, they sent me a bunch of photographs and I just thought that it was one of the most bizarre, eccentric places that I’ve ever been in. And on top of that it was just also the idea that somebody lived here and that this was someone’s actual living space and that they were finding a way to make it work and that they built it. I dunno, it just seemed like a really great place to tell this really bizzre, disjointed story, you know? Or lack thereof. I just seemed like a really great place to create a narrative. And on top of that, just filming in New York would have defeted the purpose of trying to get in a frame of mind to make a video for this thing. So I was just very curious to see what Lexington, Kentucky had. And it’s surprising how much of an underbelly this place has– it’s got a lot of really interesting little nooks and we filmed some different scenes at people’s houses. We went to this one guy’s house that had this collection of shrines that he had been building for years…

James: Shrines?

Neon Indian: Yeah! Just like a lot of weird, esoteric Mexican iconography mixed with a lot of random references to Day of the Dead, death and a lot of stuff like that, but also sort of blended with little fragments of his life.

James: Hm. I don’t think I know him.

Neon Indian: Yeah, I’m trying to remember his name. It might be Bill or something like that. But yeah, I feel like in New York every living space is so incredibly small that it’s really hard to have it be representative of you– you see it as just a kind of transient storage sapce where you keep all of your shit. When you go to a smaller town and people have all of this space to create an environment that’s sort of their signature, it’s kinda cool to be reminded of that.

James: Do you like it in New York? You just moved there recently, right?

Neon Indian: Yeah I love it– I definitely have no intention of moving anytime soon. But I was raised in Texas so I know all about those creature comforts– you know, having the luxury of driving and not seeing anyone for a half hour. In New York, that’s kind of an impossibility.

James: Did you grow up in Denton or were you just there right before you moved?

Neon Indian: Um, yeah. I was born in Montery in Mexico and I moved to San Antonio when I was like five or six. And I just kind of worked all over the place. San Antonio was where I spent most of my life. For college I went to Denton and that place was kind of my musical stomping ground in a lot of ways and that’s sort of where I began forming these projects and then Austin was the last place I lived in right before I moved to New York. And Austin is where Neon Indian came to fruition.

James: Did you get to go into Downtown Lexington very much and hangout?

Neon Indian: Yeah, a little bit. Yeah I went to Stella’s Deli and little places like that.

James: Oh ok! That’s definitely where I would recommend to eat. Do you see any similarities [between Denton and Lexington?] I mean Lexington’s kind of a college town.

Neon Indian: Denton is very much so a college town, I mean really the only thing that has brought a lot of life to that city is the university. I mean, you know most of the community that I interacted with weren’t even in school, but that seems to be sort of the brain of it. You’ve got a lot of people coming in and coming out, so it’s a very transient place in that way. It feels like more of a college town than Lexington– Lexington still has a community and it has a lot of context outside of the university, you know? Just hearing about all the different communities that happen out here, whether artistically or otherwise. Denton’s just sort of all in the confines of a five mile radius.

James: So did you feel like you were abandoned when you moved to New York? Or were you like this “king of music” when you lived [in Denton or Austin] and then said “alright, I’m leaving…”

Neon Indian: No, not necessarily. In Denton, I feel like “king of music,” or a title like that would be a very strong term but yeah I was just kind of part of the community there. There’s a lot going on there and even though Neon Indian has turned into its own little monster, things were happening in Denton long before I got there and they’re happening long after I’ve left. The musical community there has been pretty active and definitely spawned a lot of interesting artists. I was just kind of another guy who left at some point. And Austin, I wasn’t really there long enough to make any connection with that place. If anything, I feel like what really made Neon Indian “happen” living in Austin– that city was so incredibly alienating for me, you know? I didn’t have a car, I mainly just went to classes. And I thought I had friends there and I mean I did, but it’s kind of that thing where you walk into somebody’s life and they’ve already fot a rhythm going and you feel like a third wheel in a lot of social situations. So as a result, I just kinda stayed in doors and just fiddled with my synths.

James: I guess I asked because I thought about moving to New York like so many times. And it’s just like I’ve already got so much here in Lexington, why would I abandon all of this? But in New York there’s so much more opportunity and that’s where it’s gonna happen… I dunno.

Neon Indian: Well I mean you know, at least with the Internet I can say that it can happen anywhere really. And I think that people can realate to a narrative that isn’t just someone who moved to New York to make it. I like the idea that I had moved to New York after things had kinda already established themselves. I could just take something there and kinda run with it. Most of the motivation to move to New York was that I was gonna write a record up there and that was just the place that I had been talking about with Fool’s Gold, who’s based out of there. I dunno, it seemed like a good excuse to kinda hang out there for a while. I mean, it really depends on what you’re looking for. If Lexington is where you find your creativity and where you find your musical identity then you can definitely stay here. I moved out of Austin because I just couldn’t live there anymore– I wasn’t really connecting. And then with Denton, if I’m not going to school then I wouldn’t want to really be there too much.

James: I guess that’s the difference. I’m not in school now– I got suspended because I didn’t go, that’s lame, but I still wanna live here.

Neon Indian: Yeah, totally. When you missed class and stuff, was it kind of family realted or…

James: Um, yeah, well I spent years in a band called Bedtime and I traveled two hours to where the other dudes lived every Sunday, and two hours back, to practice. Which was kind of ridiculous and I just got tired of it. But because of Bedtime and Idiot Glee, I couldn’t figure out what I was going to do with a music degree. Professionally, there’s nothing that I really want to do, except music, so that’s what I do. Plus I just stayed up a lot of times til three or four, just recording, and them slept through my classes.

Neon Indian: That seems right. My last semester at UNT (University of North Texas), if I’d go to class I’d go to check my email [laughs] and see how the bookings for South by Southwest were doing. Stuff like that. I definitely had quite the disconnect.

James: Did you get the degree?

Neon Indian: No, I stil have like a year and a half.

James: That’s what I have exactly– three semesters.

Neon Indian: Totally. And I mean that would be the bulk of my actual film degree. I dunno, it seemed at that point that I could either do one thing or the other really well and music is just what I was connecting with more. Even though film was still an incredibly stern interest of mine, I have every intention of getting into film after music. If anything, I see this as a really interesing deviation. But I duuno just right now getting a degree in film and connecting to a program that I didn’t really feel was giving much back just didn’t seem worth it.

James: On top of that, you should probably take advantage of Neon Indian while you can.

Neon Indian: Oh absolutley! It was also one of those things where I’ve got this momentum and I really want to see what it can turn into, you know? I wanna write a proper record with this, I don’t want it to just be some thing that I did “half-ass.” You know, just put out a couple of singles and just fall off the wagon for a while. College I can always go back to. But musical syngery and having found some kind of identity or objective with a certain kind of creativity that you have, that’s a really rare thing. That’s why you go to school to begin with if you want to study film or music. To try to find some sort of identity and trade, some set of skills. And it’s happening right now, and it’s not in the confines of some classroom somewhere. I’m getting to tour and live as a result of it.

Continue reading the rest after the break

Continue reading Idiot Glee interviews Neon Indian

Portugal. The Man :: the YANP interview

Toward the end of last year, I picked up the album The Satanic Satanist by Portugal. The Man and fell in love with it. Now, a few short months later, they’ve released their follow-up record American Ghetto online and are almost done writing the next album (as well as a pair of EPs). Lead singer John Gourley was nice enough to take some time two days after the release of American Ghetto to chat with me about following your passion, keeping up their prolific pace and being afraid to write in the major key.

MP3: Portugal. The Man – Dead Dog (from American Ghetto)

Portugal. The Man :: the You Ain’t No Picasso Interview

YANP: So, I’ve been following you on Twitter for a while and trying to keep up with American Ghetto, but I think I didn’t start following and keeping up with the band until you guys were already done with this album, so I sorta missed out on the story of how it was recorded and the time line and everything. When exactly did you start recording American Ghetto and where was it recorded?

PTM: Well American Ghetto was basically born out of how we put together the Satanic Satanist disc. … We had really done pre-production for the first time ever when we made that album. We had never sat down and done demos or anything like that. So, I guess we had Satanic Satanist pretty much rounded out by the time we went into the studio; we’d had it for about a month, a month and a half. So, anytime we’re getting ready for the studio, there’s just a lot of excitement, a lot of inspiration comes out of that excitement. So, I guess for lack of a better word it just got me really excited to work on the new material and try new things…I just start kinda piling up ideas, and started working on what became American Ghetto. There was no pre-drafting to it; I didn’t really do any demos, but our manager Rich just sent me out there for 10 days and we started tracking some things with our friend Anthony Safry, who did production on Satanic Satanist as well.

YANP: Now, I’ve not really read about you guys having any ties to Boston, so what brought you there?

PTM: It was just mainly Paul. But actually when we finished the album about two years ago now, we decided that we really wanted to do this mix for it. And it obviously never went to that finished stage, but we started sending the album out to different producers– we wanted to let them produce the record without having us around, just to see what they would do. I’m a big fan of collaboration and just seeing what new people would do with our music. That’s why we have guests on our album and have guests musicians live from time to time. I just like to hear the way that people interpret it. So we sent Censored Colors out to a bunch of producers with the idea that they would mix and do a final production. But Paul Kolderie is just so cool and so laid back and really positive about everything and he just understood that we weren’t too precious with the band. Once the songs have gotten your – our contributions– to the art it’s kind of done and it’s fun from that point on. You know we get to mess around with delays and reverbs and song structure and things like that. Paul was just “the guy.”

YANP: Nice. And then he was the one that you worked on Satanic Satanist with, right?

PTM: Yeah, so we went up to Boston made Satanic Satanist with him. We had talked to other producers…

YANP: Oh ok, sorry, I didn’t catch that he was in Boston.

PTM: Oh yeah, so sorry. his studio is out in Boston.

YANP: Awesome! So you went back there to work on American Ghetto as well?

PTM: Yeah. That was pretty much a few weeks after Satanic Satanist was completed that we went back up to Boston.

YANP: And now I’m missing my reference points. So when was Satanic Satanist completed– when would you have been back in Boston?

PTM: Satanic Satanist was, I think, January 14th until somewhere around February 20th. And then I came back out on the 28th maybe?

YANP: Wow!

PTM: So, that was at the beginning of March, and we were there for ten days. It’s one of those really great things– something really special that’s born out of those spontaneous moments. Jumping into it and putting deadlines on things and just seeing what you can do in that amount of time. There were a lot of ideas– just being inspired by all the different instruments and there was a lot of experience being built up … just no real demos. It was very fun for us, just to dive in headfirst to see what we could do. I think there’s also something to be said for practice, preparation and pre-production; time that I think is probably necessary to albums like Satanic Satanist. But American Ghetto was just born off that freedom to just do what we wanted.

YANP: So how much relief did you feel finally getting to release it almost a year after it was finished?

PTM: I felt like this album needed to be released in this way, from the very beginning I think we knew what Satanic Satanist was– it’s definitely our most focused album and it’s more of a band record. It was all of us in the studio together, jamming. And I’ve really obsessed over songwriting lately, in the last three years I’ve just really been obsessing over songwriting and trying to have a lot of fun with it. And Satanic Satanist, it was obvious to me while on tour for it that I didn’t want to throw anything out there that would stop what that record was doing. You know, we were playing Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza and we didn’t want to confuse everybody by throwing out multiple records out of nowhere.

But yeah, I guess it just happened the way it needed to. I’m not to precious to those things. The main thing that I love to do is just make music. I love to be able to go into the studio and get it all out of my mind and move onto the next thing. So at my favorite thing is sorting out in a business sense and to actually understand why and when everything should come out. And we have a really, really great manager who handles a lot of that– or pretty much all of that. I just kind of trust him with all of that and I just kind of make music.

YANP: Yeah, I just love that you guys couldn’t wait until the next day– you put it up at like 10:00 at night, the night before…[laughs]

PTM: [laughs] Yeah. We were talking about it and we said, “we could just do it. Can’t we just put it out? And we’re putting it out ourselves, who cares?” You know, we’re not relying on some SoundScan sheet to tell us where our band sits in the list of 5 million bands playing today. We weren’t even thinking about that. It’s a limited edition CD — at least it’s gonna be limited to the amount of copies that we put out there. It’s supposed to be fun– its for people to give out to people who helped support the band. All of last year was such a great year that it just felt right to just give it to people.

And it wasn’t a shot at– I know Satanic Satanist leaked a month and a half in advance or whatever, and it wasn’t necessarily because of that. But looking at it now, it is pretty amazing that it didn’t leak because friends of ours had it, we just didn’t send it out to the amount of people that we normally would. And we won’t do every record like this, but seeing how well it’s done like this, the fun that we had with it, I would imagine that we would do more releases like it in the future.

YANP: Awesome! You said something a little bit ago and I didn’t want to stop you, but you said you were getting really focused on song writing in the past three years, is that something that you would say almost that you would study when you listen to other peoples’ music or is it something that you just work on with yourself?

PTM: Uh, you pick it up everywhere. I think that it’s one of those things. I always get so caught up, just so scared of major chords, for whatever reason. Any time you start working in major chords with really tight song structures, everything becomings really obvious. I just got used to avoiding it, and I think that with Censored Colors we would jump in and see what we could do– see how we could change up songs. It got me thinking about bands like the Beatles, obviously my favorite band, anyway and bands like Pink Floyd and really great songwriting, really great musicians, really great atmospheric pop.

Yeah, I guess I would say that I study it to an extent, but mainly it’s something that you would have to find for yourself. And there are a million bands that do throwback rock n’ roll, I mean you can probably name 50 right off the top of your head that you’ve heard before. So, it’s something that you have to get to know yourself. You can study it all day long but until you put yourself into it, it’s pretty hard to find.

Continue reading the rest of the interview after the break.

Continue reading Portugal. The Man :: the YANP interview

Donald Glover / Childish Gambino :: the YANP interview

You might not know the rapper Childish Gambino, but there’s an above average chance that you’re familiar with Donald Glover’s other work. When not assembling mix tapes under the name Childish Gambino, he’s spent the past couple years writing for 30 Rock, playing Troy on Community and writing and performing skits with the Derrick Comedy group. In short, the guy’s hilarious. But it turns out he’s actually a pretty good rapper to boot. And really, quite possibly the only rapper who lists the Long Winters as an influence.

MP3: Childish Gambino – Get Like Me
MP3: Childish Gambino – Bitch, Look At Me Now

He’s released two mix tapes as Childish Gambino and to celebrate, he agreed to a quick interview with me. So head over to the above link to download his mix, which includes tracks culled from Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective and — believe it or not — the new Knife album. That’s right, someone rapped over “Colouring of Pigeons.” You’re a brave, hilarious man Donald Glover.

Donald Glover / Childish Gambino :: the YANP interview

YANP: Your song “Get Like Me” was featured prominently in the trailer for Mystery Team. Was there a big response from that? I had to google it when it first came out and I found a lot of people that were looking for it too.

Donald Glover: Yeah. It was great. I got a ton of emails immediately, and I didn’t think there was going to be any. I just wanted to make a song that fit the trailer. Something dark and fun like the movie.

I love that you manage to work in Shining Time Station — probably the only TV show that’s never made its way into rap lyrics. What would you say are some of your favorite completely random reference in hip hop? Or, if you’d rather, what rapper/group always has the best obscure references?

I mean, MF Doom comes to mind first. Some of your geekier groups like The Pharcyde. But much like in television, I only like a reference if it’s completely relevant. The Gonzo line in “I AM JUST A RAPPER 2” is one of my favorite, because it fits me perfect. “Oh, he’s weird and likes “chicks”.” I like that stuff. But I don’t want to be the “Not Another (Teen, dance, etc.) Movie” of rap. I wanna tell a story. Not a barrage of things you remember from other things.

What bands or musicians influenced you the most growing up? Who influences you the most now?

My dad was always playing Funkedelic. I loved them. But my first CD’s that I wore out were The Cranberries and No Doubt. I was in love with them. But in college was when I started toying with music and also started listening to rap for the first time. Jay-Z, Pharcyde, Lil Wayne. That coupled with the Sufjan Stevens albums I was obsessed with and stuff like The Long Winters. I think those had the biggest influence on my sound.

Continue reading the rest of the interview after the break.

Continue reading Donald Glover / Childish Gambino :: the YANP interview

Honus Honus of Man Man :: the YANP interview

The start of this year brought us the official confirmation that Honus Honus of Man Man and Nick Thorburn of Islands have teamed up as the “doom wop” group Mister Heavenly. The pair have been working together during time off from Man Man’s recording session for their upcoming record — which is yet another reason to get excited for 2010. So as a huge Man Man fan, I knew I had to get the skinny on the next chapter of the band and what’s up with this new collaboration. Lemme tell ya, there’s great news on both fronts.

Honus Honus of Man Man :: the YANP Interview

YANP: So when I interviewed you in March of 2006, this is how we ended…

Honus: That was forever ago…at the Southgate House.

YANP: Actually it was [at the Dame,] even before the Southgate House, but–really good memory! Here’s how we ended. We were talking about bands you liked and you said that “Nick from Islands is amazing. I’d really like to work with him on something in the future.” I said “well, you’ve got a great shot at it, he’s got a long history of collaborating with friends.” You said, “well, we’ll see what happens…I guess.” So what wound up happening? How did you guys actually end up getting together and everything?

Honus: He just got on my ass [laughs]. You know, I talked to him about it back then and it was just a matter of finding the time really, because Man Man’s been on tour forever. And just finding the time…and I’m not the most prolific songwriter, so usually if I have a song it just immediately goes to Man Man. But, the band has had some downtime just because we’ve been working on this new record pretty much since the fall. So I’m in Philly until this record is done and Nick lives in New York now, so I just figured “well if I don’t do it now, I probably won’t do it.”

So I had these songs, which I wouldn’t say they wouldn’t necessarily work with Man Man but at the same time they weren’t completely finished and I wanted to try something a little bit “popier.” I really like Nick’s flexibility– he’s also really ambitious and a very different musician than anyone I’ve played with. But I was just like, “uh, I have these pieces of songs, let’s see what you can do with this.” So, that’s how it came about. So I’ve been going to New York and we’ve been working on songs…we set our goals really low [laughs].

YANP: [laughs] That’ll be the pull quote from this.

Honus: Our ambition all along was to put out a seven inch. You know, we may not play live shows, we don’t know what we’re doing. Let’s just see what happens. We keep the songs under three minutes, “let’s just try to throw our pop hooks and do it, just keep it simple.” It’s been really refreshing. I like his [garbled] things.

YANP: Did you guys start out working in person or did you email him unfinished songs and stuff first?

Honus: Um, we just worked in person. He lives in Fort Green in New York and I just hop on the Chinatown bus and go up there. It started out as one song and now we have four songs. Right now we’re just demoing stuff. The demos sound pretty good. We’re trying really hard to stick to our rules of keeping it simple. Because you know Islands has got increasingly more complex, Man Man’s all over the place. I always thought our voices would sound really nice together, too. But yeah, we’re just doin’ our thing. I’m pretty pleased with what we come up with. I plan still to release seven inches.

YANP: Oh ok, because Nick told Spinner that you guys were going to put everything for free online or something, which was surprising.

Honus: We don’t really know. We’re just trying to have fun with it at this point. We don’t want it to get too serious or too involved and anyone to have too high of expectations, because naturally that’s when it gets destroyed. So far so good, it’s been fun. We’re even thinking about maybe doing an album. But just because we only put together four songs and it happened very quickly. And like I said I’m not the most prolific songwriter, so.

Read the rest of the interview after the jump.

Continue reading Honus Honus of Man Man :: the YANP interview

Local Natives :: the You Ain’t No Picasso interview

Local Natives’ upcoming record Gorilla Manor is easily my favorite debut in a good long while. In fact, I’d say the only one to give them a run for their money is Cymbals Eat Guitars. I’ve been enjoying this record so much that I gave Local Natives’ Andy Hamm a call on the eve of their European tour to chat with him about it.

MP3: Local Natives – Sun Hands

Local Natives :: the You Ain’t No Picasso Interview

YANP: So it feels like I’ve been following you guys forever, but you’ve actually been making music for around three years. Did you guys gradually build up to all the activity you’ve had in the past year and a half or was there a point where you decided to really throw yourselves into it?

Andy Hamm: For a long time we still had school and were working full time. I guess we weren’t taking it super serious. I dont’ know how to say it, we were just doing things for fun a lot of the time, not realizing that we really wanted to do it. We changed a lot of how we worked things in the band. So as we were writing, a lot of the stuff that ended up on Gorilla Manor we felt like we were sort of forming the sound, the writing process was changing where everybody in the band was sort of getting their hands in the writing. It was feeling like it was more of a group and then at the same time I think everybody was sort of in a spot where they could quit their jobs or drop out of school– I think everybody was just sort of ready to take that step, like “we should try to treat this as something we want to do for a long time.” That was about a year and a half ago, so after that is seemed like everything started clicking and feeling really good.

It wasn’t easy. I’d be lying if I said one day we decided “Let’s be a real band!” I think the fact that we were looking at everything with a microscope and we were really thinking this was something we could be proud of, something everybody was behind. Nobody was settling on anything and I think that sort of turned into what we have now, where everybody is really involved and its definitely a group. Fortunately, looking back now we had those few years of half-assing it and having fun with it and we’ve become good friends. So that way when were ready to start being really honest about everything it wasn’t really weird and we’re with each other all the time, its not like we hate each other or anything.

YANP: That’s pretty funny about quitting your job and everything. I just read Eugene Mirman’s “The Will to Whatevs” and his advice to young bands is “quit your job and throw yourselves into it. That’s what the Rolling Stones did… and a million other bands you’ve never heard of.”

Andy: [laughs]

YANP: It’s good that it worked out in this case.

Andy: Well, I guess I quit my job but I technically got fired. I really did like my job, and I’ve always had to work for everything. I didn’t have the money to quit, that was for sure. We started touring and then we got a two month tour– I think it was that first US Tour we did with the Union Line last year. And I went to my boss and said, “yeah I think I’m going to do this tour for a few months,” and he said, “I used to be a musician, I’ll try to keep you on.”

Then like four weeks into it I got this huge, long email where he said “I don’t know what I was thinking!” I was a West Coast sells rep for a high end fashion brand and he was like “you’re my only West Coast rep and I don’t know what I was thinking because you’ve been gone for a month. I’ve gotta let you go.” But, it was a bittersweet thing. It was awesome. I remember waking up the next day and instead of being like “fuck, what am I going to do? I’ve gotta pay my cell phone bill! And my rent!” I was just saying “fuck it. All I’m going to do today is write music and work on artwork.”

Continue reading the rest of the interview below.

Continue reading Local Natives :: the You Ain’t No Picasso interview

An Interview with Cricket Press

Local design wizards Cricket Press just put out a great new book compiling all their work into one convenient spot. Not only is it a completely beautiful addition to anything you already own, but they were nice enough to ask me to write the intro! Unfortunately that left me a little tuckered out, so I decided to ask You Ain’t No Picasso’s intern Liz if she wouldn’t mind writing a bit about Cricket Press and GigPosters.com, both of whom have new books out.

An Interview with Cricket Press by YANP Intern Liz

Every day, music and live shows are promoted in numerous ways. Think about the number of fliers and posters you pass on the sidewalk, in places of business or elsewhere. Ever wonder who or what was behind those press posters dangling from telephone poles, pressed against storefront windows or adorning the local coffee shop bulletin board? We here at You Ain’t No Picasso were curious as well and chatted with author Clay Hayes, creator of Gig Posters Volume 1: Rock Show Art of the 21st Century. The book, which hit shelves earlier this summer, functions as a collectible directory of the most influential gig poster artists from the States and abroad. In an increasingly digital-centered world where album artwork has been confined to a small thumbnail image in one’s music library, gig posters are becoming a unique relic and timeless art form.

“Gig posters are more important than ever these days,” Hayes said. “Fans and collectors can get their hands on amazing artwork that provides memorabilia and something physical to frame on their wall. MP3s are great, but people always love something they can stare at and enjoy.”

Originally conceived as an online catalog of gig art called gigposters.com, the print version of Hayes hobby-turned-business includes over 100 tear-out and frameable posters from the designers featured. Hayes began the website simply as a hobby, but quickly saw the site grow as he realized the size of the worldwide gig poster artist community.

“[The publisher] approached me with the idea [of turning it into a book] and I jumped at the opportunity,” Hayes said. “I spent a year and a half compiling it. It definitely has reached new audiences and gives people a great look into the world of gig posters.” Currently, the online catalog contains over 100,000 gig posters that feature nearly 8,500

Lexington gig poster artists Cricket Press, featured in the book, also shared some insight to their field. Over their career, they’ve designed promo art for artists such as Sufjan Stevens, Mates of State, Animal Collective and Fleet Foxes, a mere sampling of their repertoire that are featured in Gig Posters. Artists and owners Sara and Brian Turner produce posters that are instantly recognizable around the city and have gradually gained great notoriety around the world.

“[The music] influenced us to start Cricket Press. We have always been very into music…and we started recognizing how many of the bands we loved also had these really cool hand-made posters floating around out there for many of their shows,” Brian said.
“We never set out to become a poster design studio or anything like that, but once we did our first few gig posters, we were hooked.”

What started in 2003 as a “night and weekend hobby” eventually became a full time job for the Turners in 2005. The pieces they create are a mixture between traditional press pieces and wicked art innovation. Recent local works included promo posters for the Decemberists’ Hazards of Love Lexington tour stop and Man Man’s Halloween show at Lexington’s Busters Billiards and Backroom. The latter depicted a skeleton drummer with piano keys for ribs and a beating, bleeding heart in the shape of the band’s name. Brian says that “inspirations for design come from everywhere. Sometimes the band will come to us with an exact idea of their own, so the art is our translation of what the band had in mind. Most of the time though, our designs are influenced by the band’s music; a particular song, a lyric, their sound or the persona the band has created for themselves.”

A testimony to the widespread influence that Cricket Press and gig poster printers have is a story that Sara and Brian cite as their most memorable design experience. Last year, Cricket Press had a retrospective exhibit in a local gallery space. Prior to the event, an out-of-state fan emailed the Turner’s, saying he would be at the show with a “surprise for them.” “That [was] kinda cryptic,” Brian said. “We were left wondering what it would be. The night of the opening, the person eventually came up to us…rolled up his sleeves and unbuttoned his shirt to show that he was covered in various elements of our posters over the years…and there were MANY of them, tattooed all over his body!”

We figured we owed this person a drink or dinner or something in exchange for all the pain he must’ve went through in getting our artwork permanently inked onto his body. It’s one of those moments we’ll definitely never forget.”

Gig Posters: Volume 1: Rock Show Art of the 21st Century. is currently available from Quirk Books and Cricket Press is releasing their own book this November locally and (eventually) online.