Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
On December 15th, I was invited to the Cobalt Hotel to celebrate Rob Schindel’s birthday. Rob’s better half, Ani Kyd, had arranged Rob’s birthday festivities as well as the evening’s entertainment which included several of Vancouver’s celebrated underground musical artists.The evening opened with Ani’s son, Michael Kyd, performing an acoustic set. Michael’s act is entertaining especially because of his self deprecating, witty lyrics. His songs are performed in a ‘confessional/ narrative’ style; serious, contemplative lines countered with amusing statements like, ‘…but I just beat a twelve year old girl… in swimming.
Next in the evening’s line up was Dirty (Derek) Swagger performing his songs with a Johnny Cash/ Kenny Rogers country flavor.
Mr. Plow was third on stage and hilarious from start to end. His tunes’ titles, alone, are amusing: ‘Let’s Get Fat Together’, ‘Biscuits and Gravy’, and ‘Fuck DOA’. Anyone who can work the lyric ‘Feel my girth’ into a song, deserves a listen. I also feel his songs are so quick with the one-liners and innuendos that one would have to listen to his act several times to catch all the inside jokes (and it helps if you’re over the age of thirty, or very well read, to catch the cultural jabs).
Understandably, I got a couple of ‘Are you for real?’ stares when I asked who performer number five was. “Cummings? Is that with a g?” I inquired. Then it clicked. The fellow crooning in his best Elvis voice was none other than Jim Cummings of I, Braineater. I apologize everyone, but I haven’t seen the fellow since the ‘80s, and believe me, we have all changed considerably since then. His voice is like a fine wine and has improved with time.
Gerri Jen Wilson of JP5, Spank Machine etc., took the stage for her first solo venture. She started her set with ‘These Boots are Made for Walking’ and ended with the Rezillos’ ‘Somebody’s Gonna Get their Head (Kicked in Tonight)’ . She sounded great and looked very comfortable without any bandmates to accompany her. Perhaps we will be seeing more of solo-Gerri in the future?
Then our gal of the moment, Ani Kyd, took the stage as the final act. Her acoustic set was definitely an interesting take on her usual hard-driven songs. Creepy Feeling, 13, and Rejoyce adapt very well to an acoustic venue, but I was very surprised (and pleased) with the softer offerings of My First Kill and Erase. The acoustic vibe allows the focus to fall on Ani’s vocal range, especially with Erase. I think Ani should record and release a disc of acoustic tunes (with a mixture of new and old) as she may find herself with a different, yet still homogeneous, fan base.
It was a fun evening full of musical surprises. Well done, Ani, and happy birthday, Rob.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
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Visit Seether MyspaceDue to the length of my interview with John Humphreys, this is the second of two parts. The first part can be found at Seether Part One
Seether is already famous for a few non-musical items that I won’t go into because it’s been written to death, but this band could rival Def Leppard for surviving personal pain and calamity amongst its members, and for this they have my admiration and respect.A special Swanktrendz thank you goes out to Lisa Pieterse at WindUp Records Canada, for her efforts in organizing this phone interview with Seether.Swanktrendz,ST- ST- Would you say the band members share a similar taste in music, or is there a wide divergence of music that you’re into?John Humphreys, JH- I think there’s a little bit of a divergence there. I appreciate the Seattle sound with bands like Soundgarden and Nirvana, but I was more of an ‘80s kid. By the time those bands were out, I was already with the Nixons and those guys were more like my peers as I was trying to do albums and records and compete with the quality of those bands, or along those lines. My influences go further back to bands like Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, or Motley Crue and I was into that style and flash which I hoped I’d bring to the band. I also appreciate the early ‘90s which was when Shaun actually picked up the guitar, and I had already been playing about 10 years by then.ST- How did you find working with Howard Benson as a producer?JH- Magnificent. He’s a great guy and he was about the quality of songs. Shaun wrote a lot of material - close to 60 songs - and everybody had their input. Then we helped narrow the 60 songs to 15, and 12 ended up on the CD. Howard really brought out a lot in us and helped us to trim the fat, shape the songs, and arrange the result. Some of the songs, arrangement wise, were recorded completely different and then changed in post production. He (Howard) also added keyboards and a lot of ‘colour’ to the CD. A song like Breakdown had Howard adding a keyboard line to; he also suggested Shaun play sitar on the song Don’t Believe. He brought an interesting dimension to the band and helped us grow a lot. I really appreciate his ability as a songsmith and I feel he brought the ability to our project. ST- Do you have any personal favourites on the album?JH- I do. It changes from day to day sometimes as I really like the whole album, but Walk Away From The Sun is one of my favourites as well as Eyes Of The Devil, which actually was one of the first songs written as the band was playing. Shaun started playing the riff and Dale and I just sort of jumped in, whereas with other songs Shaun would have a demo with a drum machine on it and give it to us. Then Dale and I put it through our ‘filter’ (along with Shaun) and ‘out comes’ the song with a Seether feel. Eyes Of The Devil was completely organic. It is an interesting song because it occurred during a natural process of literally playing/jamming and the music just evolved into a song - that same day. ST- As a drummer in the studio, do you have a lot of musical input as far as the songwriting goes? I know Shaun writes the lyrics, but is it a band effort for the music?JH- Musically, Shaun is very open-minded and I, as the drummer, can have carte blanc to do anything I want. I just keep it tasteful and, like earlier when I was talking about Dave Grohl, importantly - I try to support the song. The role of a drummer in rock music is laying back and supporting, and carrying the song to make it flow and provide the tempo and feel that is very important. But it’s not about flash or ‘pulling off your cool fill’ of the week. It’s about supporting your song and making it the best it can be. I’d like to think I’ve been a part of a lot of great songs during my career. ST- I agree. When you can find the balance of drums, guitar, or any instrument - and someone like Jimi Page or...? Led Zeppelin did it well- that is the goal of any great band. Seetherdoes this well, and in listening to your last album, I hear a diversity that joins songs with a harder edge such as No Jesus Christ and Don’t Believe, with radio-friendly songs like Breakdown or Rise Above This and they’re all great songs. JH- Believe it or not, it wasn’t premeditated. I mean it wasn’t like we needed so many singles or anything. Again, I have to credit Howard as it was just choosing the ‘best’ songs, regardless of whether they’re heavy or mid-tempo, just as long as they’re ‘great songs’. And I’m really proud that we do have some good songs here.ST- Even though I’m not a big fan of reviews, while researching Seether I came across a Rolling Stone review… Are you aware of it? JH- I am, I am.ST- When you or the band sees or reads something like that, what is your reaction? Do you just kind of let it roll off your backs, or does it piss you off?JH- I think it’s a bit of a thorn in your side, and it sucks. I mean, let’s be honest, we’re human and that kind of thing sucks, but it’s kind of weird ‘cause what other business
can you pour your heart and soul into a project to complete an album and have it critiqued by the world?. I appreciate all the opinions, but there’s a million different people, with that many different views. I can’t hold too much faith in that magazine, sometimes.ST- I question his actually listening to the CD as there’s no merit in what he’s saying. He was writing anything because your CD is a is a full album, with no filler tracks at all.JH- I agree, not to sound arrogant, but I feel strongly about our CD, even though Rolling Stone begs to differ. I’ve written songs and I’m a big music fan myself. We’re hardest of all on ourselves; as musicians and artists. We will not turn out something that wasn’t the best work we felt we’d done at the time.I don’t sit around. listening to my Seether, patting myself on the back, but I am proud of this CD. I can go to bed at night saying we did a really good job.ST- I totally agree . My final query, John,is a question that Swanktrendz asks all successful artists - such as yourself: ... Are there any lesser known bands that you enjoy and appreciate, bands you’d like to mention them so they may receive better audience awareness?JH- Actually, there’s a brand new band that’s from Oklahoma, where I hail from, and I’m going to start producing them. They’re on my friends list on Myspace. They’re a great bunch of guys, called Stone Cold Sober. They’re an unsigned band with pretty good songs, and I’m going to try to help out with a little of my experience so that they don’t have to make the mistakes I did. I always like being able to help, and this is a band that I think is pretty cool. ST- Excellent. We’ll provide a link to Stone Cold Sober.Visit Stone Cold Sober
Also, I appreciate, and want to thank you for your time, John, as I know you’re a busy fellow. Enjoy the rest of the tour, and I look forward to seeing Seether in Oshawa in January.(Shane's Note:) As a footnote to this piece, I’d just like to say that there’s a perception in certain circles that rock artists (especially hard rock) are lazy, not too intelligent, and often self medicated, while writers are the complete opposite of the work ethic spectrum. John Humphrey and the other members of Seether are reasons why such generalizations are unfair. Seether works harder than most ‘working people’ would ever dream of. On the other hand, Brian Hiatt’s Rolling Stone review of Seether’s recent album is an embarrassment to music reviewers, fans, and musicians. Yet the Seether article is not alone, too many times I have wondered the reasoning behind similar articles that were off the mark. I suppose The Rolling Stone is no longer a member of the school of responsible journalism, choosing self importance/promotion over musical inquiry and substance. A new affiliate for the grocery store tabloids.Photo from http://www.glam-metal.com/seetherint.html
Back to Seether Part One
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Visit Seether MyspaceThis Article is written in two Parts, the second part can be found here Seether Part TwoI used to be a faithful reader of Rolling Stone back in the ‘70s because the magazine was cutting edge and very relevant at that time for those of us whose musical palette ran the entire spectrum, including fringe or obscure acts. But even then, I noticed there was an elitist and snobbish tendency in reviewing albums, especially if the band in question did not fall into their idea of the cool or politically appealing acts like Springsteen or U2. ( My idea of any fair review is to give the disc a day's worth of listening, even if it kills you.)Image from www.glam-metal.comSo as I did my research for a Seether phoner interview with their drummer John Humphrey, I wasn’t surprised at what a terribly biting and unflattering review their new release, Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces, received from the rag/mag. And as an ongoing supporter of the underdog, I was truly hoping that I would (at the very least) like something about their new album. I have always felt bad reviews can be a result of ulterior prejudice/motives or even the jealousy of a fellow musician who just didn’t make it; who hates anybody who is on their way to fame and fortune.I was pleasantly surprised upon the initial few listens, realizing this would be an album that wouldn’t kill me to listen to, which makes the whole process a lot more enjoyable.In fact, I like their music very much. I state this based entirely upon their most recent release, Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces, and the previous album Karma and Effect. I have only heard a couple of cuts from their first release Disclaimer, but something tells me it will be under the Christmas tree.Seether is already famous for a few non-musical items that I won’t go into because it’s been written to death, but this band could rival Def Leppard for surviving personal pain and calamity amongst its members, and for this they have my admiration and respect. Heading into the interview, I have to admit I was excited because I’m a drummer and I think John is incredible at his craft. I would compare his talents to those of one of his predecessors in Seether, Josh Freese, (one of my all time favourites in his work with A Perfect Circle.)In speaking with John, it was evident that he is a true rock journeyman; dedicated member of the band, who enjoys the current ride Seether is on with the hit songFake It and album. Due to the length of my interview with John Humphreys, this article will be read in two parts. As well, A special Swanktrendz thank you goes out to Lisa Pieterse at WindUp Records Canada, for her generosity and effort in organizing this phone interview.Swanktrendz,ST- Thanks for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to speak with Swanktrendz, John. It is appreciated. How is the tour going for you?John Humphrey, JH- It’s going great. We started back in August, about 3 months prior to the release of the album in the States, supporting Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace. We had been off the road and away from touring for about a year and we just wanted to get out and play, and that support position seemed like a great opportunity to get in front of some people who are also our fan base, as well. Those bands were a great match with good crowds to play to. That tour ended November 19th, and now we’re headlining our own shows here in the States. We’ll break for the holidays, and then we’ll be up in Canada with Three Days Grace starting in January.ST- Are you looking forward to a month off?JH- Yeah, absolutely. We’ve been hitting it hard for five months and a three week break is a well deserved break and holiday which gives us the chance to go home and see our families.ST- I had read on the internet that you toured with the Nixons (previous band) upwards of 300 shows a year?JH- Yeah. That was kind of my foyer into the music industry, my baby years, you know? I really cut my teeth with that band. I joined the Nixons in ’92 and was with them 8 years through to 2000. They were similar to Seether as far as the music genre but we lived the work ethic of a road band who lived out of our suitcases, and who played 200 to 300 shows a year. It’s the same effort with Seether, you know? So I was used to the work ethic when I came to this band.ST- Was that one of the things that Seether was looking for when you came on? That commitment to the road?JH- Absolutely. They want not only a qualified musician, but someone who was compatible with the mentality that Seether is a road beast that lives out of suitcases. We like being in the studio and making albums, but our thing is taking it to the people, living on the bus, and hitting the road. I think that’s a constant philosophy throughout my early life and background, and I think that attitude helped, along with my ‘around the block’ experiences. Having to speak a couple of times, kind of helped my position, too. Some musicians are a little green and haven’t done this type of questioning and really aren’t used to the rigours of it all.ST- On a personal level, how does being in such a hard working band affect a marriage? Or do you have a very understanding woman?JH- (Laughing) Yeah, absolutely, man. Behind every great drummer is an awesome mom, and an awesome wife. My mom put up with the ‘wood shed’ years with my rehearsals in the shed and the garage, and my wife is absolutely supportive. She knows that music is a big part of me as a person, and my kids are my biggest fans, and biggest fans of this band. They’re wonderful to have and are very supportive as well.ST- Do you find during the shows now, because of the success of the single Fake It,there’s a reaction from the fans?View Seether Video here courtesy of WindUp Records CanadaWatch' Seether's Fake It VideoJH- You mean an immediate reaction as we’re playing it live?ST- Yes, exactly.JH- Yeah, definitely. When we started in August, the song was obviously just starting in radio, so it’s been interesting to watch the evolution and familiarity of the song as it becomes a high point for the fans. Now when we kick off that bass line, it’s immediately recognized and there’s that instant crowd response. Back in August, the response was a little slower, but now it’s definitely the show stealer and it’s been great to really watch that song grow up.ST- I guess it’s picking up steam the longer the song and video are charting?JH- Yeah, absolutely. It’s done well and I’m really proud of it as I think we’ve done a video that fits the song really well. I think it’s the first time that a song and video have come together like that for us and where the interpretation for that song is put into the video. I think fans and people have really responded positively to both the song itself and the video that provides the perfect meshing. I think the song has triggered something. ST- How has the band dynamic changed playing live, now that you’re a 3 piece? Is there a big difference?JH- Yeah, it’s a lot of fun, and I think it sounds great. There’s not a lot of 3 piece bands out there, so I think it’s interesting. We go back and forth about bringing on a guitar player, but we’re having a lot of fun being a 3 piece so we’re not too sure if we’re going to do that or not.ST- I had read recently that Shaun was considering adding a second guitarist for the live shows. Are there any concrete plans to do so right now?JH- No, not concrete. But we’ve definitely kicked it around and there’s guys out there we’re considering. In fact, we’re going to be talking about it tomorrow at a band meeting, and figure out what we’re going to do.ST- Is there a chance that Pat Callahan might return to the band?JH- I don’t think so. I think he is much happier now.ST- I’d like to talk about your drumming influences going back to when you first started playing. Who would you say were the guys that inspired you to drum?JH- I was definitely influenced by the ‘80s era of music and concerts back then. I really dug the big shows and presentations that had the drummers that you could see visually all the way to the back of the arena. It’s drummers like Tommy Lee, and I love guys like Tommy Aldridge that I saw way back when with Whitesnake. *I really love Dave Grohl, but it took me to when he started playing with Queens of the Stone Age on the album Songs for the Deaf to really appreciate him as a drummer. I do understand that as a drummer he was supporting the music, playing great fills, driving the great melodies and songs that Cobain was writing. When he did the Queens of the Stone Age album, he kind of went off a little bit and showed his skills and abilities, and I became a fan of his.ST- Along those lines, have you been following any of the Zeppelin clips that were on YouTube today?JH- (laughing) I haven’t, but I’m a huge fan of Jason Bonham. In fact, back in the Nixon days I was fortunate enough to do a few shows with him as he had a band that was doing Zeppelin covers and stuff, so seeing him doing that, it’s really amazing. I hope they follow it up with a tour ‘cause somebody asked me the other day What would be your dream tour? and I never thought I’d have the chance to say it, but if Zeppelin goes on tour I’d give my right arm to play a show and open for them. Although I’m sure they have enough material that they could probably handle the whole night all by themselves.the second part can be found here Seether Part Two
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Attend Aaron’s CD Release Party on December 9th at 10:00 p.m. at the Media Club in Vancouver, B.C.
Lit Fuse Records presents Butterfly Man , the debut folk album from Vancouver singer/songwriter Aaron Nazrul , produced by former “Doug and the Slugs” keyboardist and Genie Award-Winner Simon Kendall , with additional tracks produced by Lin Gardiner of Super G Music and Vancouver’s DJ Darren Woodhead .
Aaron Nazrul (real name Aaron Ross) was a hit at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, winning popular and critical acclaim: “The Golden Voice of the Festival…definitely a talent to watch for in the future.” Festival FM Radio
Aaron’s music combines the raw emotional intensity of Ben Harper and the cultural diversity of Manu Chao, an emerging talent with the voice of a future classic. Tracks of note are As the Sun Goes Down, Take These Chains, Butterfly Man, and Delivered featuring guest vocals from Frazey Ford of The Be Good Tanyas.
The album was inspired by Aaron’s recent travels in South East Asia, and includes songs written during a motorcycle trip through Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and China. Butterfly Man is a slang term in Asia for a restless traveler who never settles in one place, or with one person.
The album was Executive Produced by Lit Fuse Records founder Baba Brinkman, who has gained international recognition for his Rap Canterbury Tales performances. Butterfly Man is now available from the iTunes Music Store, with general release in retail stores December 4th.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
They have experienced previous success with their songs, Piece by Piece and Never There (She Stabs) (featured on the soundtracks for the movies The Punisher and Elektra, and on the video game, Madden NFL 2005).
Check out their latest video here:
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