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SXSW Announces The 1975, Against Me!, And More

sxsw_2012-300x118Hard to believe, but SXSW has announced yet another round of new artists, bringing the total to an amazing 2,000-plus acts. But after seeing that the new additions include The 1975, Against Me!, and St. Vincent we have to admit it’s worth expanding an already enormous lineup. Also performing will be Kelis, Damon Albarn, Chromeo, Ingrid Michaelson, Kylesa, Speedy Ortiz, SZA, Lucius, Jacques Green, together PANGEA, Women’s Hour, Betty Who, and Lost in the Trees. You can view the full lineup here (warning: it’s going to take you a while to sift through), and catch SXSW from March 7-16 in Austin, TX.

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Riot Fest Lineup Announced

Chicago’s Riot Fest has become one of the must-attend alternative music festivals of the year. 2013 will be no different, and dare I say it may even be the best year yet.

Breaking around 11pm (EST) last night, May 15, Riot Fest’s initial lineup announcement includes headline performances by Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy. An additional headliner will be revealed in the weeks ahead, but as far as additional confirmed acts go, you can count on seeing The Violent Femmes, Motorhead, Sublime With Rome, Rancid, AFI, Blondie, Public Enemy, Brand New, Flag, Taking Back Sunday, Rocket From The Crypt, Bad Religion, Atmosphere, The Dismemberment Plan, Dinosaur Jr, X, Devotchka, Yellowcard, Screeching Weasel, Pennywise, The Broadways, Against Me!, Bob Mould, Gwar, The Lillingtons, Best Coast, The Lawrence Arms, Say Anything, Bad Brains, Quicksand, The Selecter, Bad Books, Mission Of Burma, The Devil Wears Prada, Saves The Day, Glassjaw, Bayside, Stars, Toots and the Maytals, Peter Hook (performing a Joy Division set!), Smoking Popes, Reggie and the Full Effect, Attack Attack!, The Dear Hunter, Maps and Atlases, Surfer Blood, Chuck Ragan, Dessa, Saul Williams, Empires, Memphiskapheles, Kitten, Peelander-Z, Touche Amore, Masked Intruder, Deal’s Gone Bad, Twin Peaks, Flatfoot 56, and White Mystery.

Pretty awesome, right? Tickets start at $23 a day; the festival is being held September 13 through 15 in Chicago. Buy tickets or see the official website here. (more…)

Laura Jean Grace Discusses Her First Year As A Woman

It’s hard to believe a year has passed since founding Against Me! member Thomas Gabel came forward about his struggles with his sexuality and eventual decision to begin the transformation to becoming a woman. In that time, Laura Jean Grace has become a hero for thousands, if not millions of people around the world with through her open book approach to her transformation. Fans have followed and supported her over the last year, and in a new feature with Cosmopolitan Magazine Laura and her wife speak for the first time in depth about Laura’s first year as a woman. The full article can be read here, but we’ve included an excerpt below for preview purposes:

Going Into Therapy

The closest psychotherapist I was able to find who specialized in gender was in Gainesville, Florida, an 80-mile drive from my home in Saint Augustine. I didn’t want someone to tell me what to do. I knew what I needed to do, and on the drive to my first appointment, I worried about a therapist getting in my head and unraveling whatever it is that gives me the ability to write songs. (more…)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Against Me! Vocalist Tom Gabel To Become Laura Jane Grace

Against Me! vocalist Tom Gabel has announced via Rolling Stone that he will begin the process of becoming a woman, starting with electrolysis treatments and hormone supplements. The singer will later change his name to Laura Jane Grace.

Rolling Stone reports that Gabel is “the first time a major rock star [to] come out as transgender.” Rock stardom aside, let’s not forget others such as Mina Caputo (of Life of Agony) and Dee Palmer (ex-Jethro Tull) announcing that they are transgender in 2011 and 2003, respectively.

You can read more about the story on Rolling Stone‘s website and in the May 11th issue of Rolling Stone, where the full interview with Gabel will be published.

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

UTG: SXSW Unveils First Round Of Band Announcements

When not here at OurStage, Marketplace Manager James Shotwell is also the Editor of the entertainment news & review blog Under The Gun Review. Covering all areas of alternative music, indie film, and stand-up comedy, Under The Gun‘s columns and reviews offer pop culture addicts the information they crave in a way that’s both engaging and honest. OurStage is thrilled to join forces with Under The Gun, bringing readers even more killer editorial content and music news. Starting with an exciting announcement from the festival circuit…

We know it is still November, but how can you not already be excited for SXSW 2012?

Today the official SXSW website unveiled the first round of band announcements for the March 2012 event. This is obviously nowhere near the complete list of talent, but names such as Against Me!, VHS Or Beta, and We Are The Oceans should be enough to push a few more ticket sales. You can view the complete list after the jump.

Tickets are already on sales for the music portion of SXSW 2012, which runs March 13-18, and can be purchased here.

(more…)

Living With Lineup Changes

With Shia LeBouf, explosions, robots and more explosions, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is guaranteed to be a huge summer blockbuster. But even though we’re pumped for the latest installment in the Transformers franchise”and believe us, we are”we’re almost more intrigued by the soundtrack, which features the first single from Paramore since Josh and Zac Farro left the group in December.

For those who have forgotten (or never cared in the first place), the Farro brothers quit Paramore amid a swirl of controversy at the end of 2010, calling the band a sham, and frontwoman Hayley Williams a manufactured product of a major label. (You can read their full statement on Josh’s blog.) It might seem tough to recover from the kind of bad publicity the Farros saddled the band with, but their new single “Monster” sounds just as raw and Paramore-esque as any of their material when the brothers were still members, and Williams just told BBC Radio 1 that they plan to release a new album in early 2012.

Of course, Paramore are far from the first band to make a triumphant return after a rocky lineup change. Remember a little album called Back in Black? AC/DC made what is to this day the second highest-selling album of all time, and they did it after the untimely death of frontman Bon Scott. Can you even imagine a world without Hells Bells or You Shook Me All Night Long? Scott may have appeared on six AC/DC releases before Back in Black, but his replacement Brian Johnson helped create what is arguably the most iconic record from the Australian rockers. And they’re not the only classic band that’s had to survive personnel messes” Guns and Roses have had an almost constantly rotating lineup since 1985, and Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd have had more than 20 different lineups since 1964. Courtney Love is no stranger to change; since 1989 she’s remained the only consistent staple of Hole while drummers and bassists have come and gone. Even longtime lead guitarist Eric Erlandson, who was with the group for their first 10 years, declined to be a part of their 2009 reunion and actually tried to keep Love from using the Hole name.

Sometimes bands can do more than just survive a lineup change, using a bit of new blood to actually improve. Take Sid Vicious”the infamous bassist’s name is synonymous with the Sex Pistols despite the fact that he wasn’t even one of the original members of the band. Of course, there are times when a change in the lineup can bring… well, let’s just say “mixed results.” Frontman Michael Hutchence of the Australian rock group INXS died in 1997, and in 2005 his band embarked on a search for a new lead singer on the TV show Rock Star: INXS. But despite the program’s popularity both of the albums recorded with new singer J.D. Fortune earned reviews that were mediocre at best, and many INXS fans thought the show dishonored Hutchence’s memory. (Two Australian radio hosts called the program “broadband urination on Michael Hutchence’s grave.” Ouch.)

And then there are the occasions when a member’s loss is just too great for the group to overcome. Led Zepellin decided to disband in 1980 following the death of legendary drummer John Bonham, despite a surge of  rumors that the rockers were replacing him. In a statement, the group said, “We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend, and the deep sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were.” Nirvana made the same decision after Kurt Cobain’s death in 1994. While former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl has proven to be an outstanding vocalist for the Foo Fighters, replacing a singer who has been hailed as the voice of a generation would have been a tall order.

But it seems like more and more often, bands will lose a member or two and decide to forge ahead. Florida-based punks Against Me! are selling out shows along their current summer tour, even though their lineup looks nothing like the one that started putting out cassette demos in ’97. Several longtime members of Taking Back Sunday have parted ways with the band over the years, yet their self-titled album”out June 28”is one of the most highly anticipated rock releases of the year. In fact, bands like U2, Radiohead or Green Day that have had a consistent lineup through their career are the exception rather than the rule these days. But judging from the work some of these bands have done after weathering massive lineup changes, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Q&A With Against Me!

Regardless of how you feel about bands using punctuation in their names, the hard-working, constantly-touring members of Against Me! have always been busy and energetic enough to earn that emphatic exclamation mark in their moniker.  And the band didn’t slow down in 2010, releasing White Crosses, which included the hit single I Was a Teenage Anarchist and was featured on many year-end best-of lists.

But it’s a time of change for the Florida-based rockers. They’re between labels, have a new drummer in Jay Weinberg and toured with keyboardist Franz Nicolay (ex-The Hold Steady) in 2010, and frontman Tom Gabel had a baby last year. All the while, they’re gearing up for a 2-month US tour with Cheap Girls and Fences. OurStage caught up with Gabel to talk about Against Me!’s changing lineup, their changing sound and their bright, albeit uncertain, future.

OS: So, sorry to open with this, because I’m sure you’ve been answering questions about it nonstop, but after five years Against Me! are leaving Sire/Warner. What prompted that?

TG: Well, our contract was up, so that was kind of it. They chose not to renew us. I’m not sure we would have anyway, but it was just time to move on. And I know the label itself is going under a lot of changes”they fired the president, they’re firing a bunch of employees, and a bunch of bands are parting ways with the label” they’re just reorganizing. It just felt like a lot of the people we were working with were getting let go, so we didn’t really know where we fit in with the label anymore.

OS: Do you have any idea where you guys want to go from here? I know you were really psyched to work with Butch Vig while you were at Sire/Warner, is that a relationship that you’ll continue?

TG: I hope to, for sure. It’s not like that relationship was something exclusive to Warner. And as far as what label’s next, we’re not totally sure yet. It’s kind of weird, because right now we’ve started writing some new songs for the next record and everything, but it’s so early on that it’s hard to tell what the shape is or what the direction is. It’s hard to say what would be the right match right now, as far as what label. But we’ll definitely figure it out.

OS: You guys are going through a lot of changes right now” new drummer, new keyboardist, you personally had a new baby”does it stress you out?

TG: No, not at all [laughs]. I mean those are all really positive things, especially having a kid. That’s been a really positive, life-affirming experience. And as far as playing with other people, it’s exciting. I don’t know what happened, but at some point I kind of had a real mindset change over the way to approach music. I don’t necessarily believe that we have to be like, It has to be these four people! That’s the magic! Or If the chain is broken, there’s nothing left! I don’t really buy into that whole thing, you know? I think that if the stars aligned long enough for a group of people to play together, then that’s great, and you should take advantage of that. But at the same time, no one should ever feel confined to a relationship playing music. No one should ever feel stuck, especially because playing music is a creative thing. You need to feel free to experiment and make changes in order to be true to yourself as an artist. I definitely try to take that approach to playing music with those people.

OS: It was pretty gutsy having the title track of your album be the pro-choice song White Crosses. Were you worried about how that would be perceived?

TG: You know, I was more worried that most people wouldn’t understand what the song was about. That song is really about St. Augustine. The church that I’m talking about specifically is a church here in St. Augustine that has this huge anti-abortion protest thing on their church lawn. It’s a disgusting eyesore that’s just been here for years; they’ll put it up, take it down, put it up, take it down. It is what it is.

OS: Has there been a reaction from anyone like Fox News or Pro-Life groups against the song or the album?

TG: No, not yet. [Laughs]

OS: Against Me!’s sound has changed a ton since your earliest records. Has the reaction from fans been mostly positive?

TG: Well, it’s been completely positive from my perspective. The band has been going for a while. I started playing in this band when I was 17, and I’m 30 years old now. I think it would be only natural that you would experiment with new sounds and try new things. I think that a lot of the changes in our sound that are most noticeable is just that we’ve become better, which you would hope [would happen] after you’ve been playing 200-plus shows a year for a decade. And not only that, but just becoming more and more comfortable in the studio environment and knowing what you want to get out of it. The first time you go into a studio, you’re just kind of in awe. There’s all these knobs and buttons and stuff, you don’t really know what anything does, and you’re nervous. You don’t really have a budget so you’re probably in there for a day, and you’re trying to record 15 songs in one day. You kind of get the sound you get. As you progress, you become more familiar with what everything does and you have an idea in your head of what you want your songs to sound like. And hopefully each time you go into a studio you get closer and closer to achieving that.

OS: So you said you’ve started writing some new songs for an upcoming album?

TG: Yeah, I always try to write very constantly. Whether or not those songs are songs that are used or what happens with them, who knows? But I’ve definitely been working on new stuff, so we’ll see what happens.

OS: I saw you quoted somewhere saying that you want to release one new album a year for the next ten years. Do you think you can keep that pace?

TG: I’m totally jinxing myself. We probably won’t release a record for another 10 years because I said that. [Laughs] But I would love to do that. I kind of said it off the cuff, but I definitely feel right now a real need and a desire to be as productive as possible. There’s a lot of things about the major label world that are kind of slow and cumbersome about that whole process that I didn’t find really satisfying when you’re making music. I’m the type of person that when I make something, I want people to hear it immediately. So just feeling right now that there are a lot of possibilities and you can kind of do anything is exciting, and I definitely feel motivated to get new material out there as soon as possible and keep going.

OS: How about solo material? Will we see a follow-up to 2008’s Heart Burns?

TG: Maybe! We’ll see. Right now we’re kind of figuring out what we’re going to do with the next record, and I already have a couple songs. I definitely feel motivated to write and be as productive as possible, so we’ll just kind of figure it out as we go.

OS: Are you excited for your upcoming tour with Cheap Girls and Fences?

TG: For sure. We got to play with Cheap Girls maybe six or seven months ago. We just played one show with them and it was awesome. It was really, really rad. And Fences” I’ve been pen pals with Chris for I guess almost two years now”but we’ve oddly never met in person. So I’m really looking forward to meeting him and playing some shows.

OS: One last question:  You were a teenage anarchist, now you’re a 30-year-old… what? How would you describe yourself?

TG: I wouldn’t, you know? When you’re younger, I feel like you need to feel a sense of belonging. You need to create your identity”I’m a vegan, or I’m straightedge, or I’m a skinhead, or I’m an anarchist, or whatever”and the older you get, for me, I just feel less and less of a desire to belong to any kind of club or anything like that. I just care less and less about defining anything”myself, my band or anything like that”in one-word phrases or un-unique things like that. I just seems confining and unoriginal, in a way.

Check out Against Me!’s upcoming dates with Cheap Girls and Fences here.

Into The 'Roo: Wrappin' It Up

The last day of Bonnaroo was fairly laid back. Still drained from the unrelenting heat, we took the morning off and waited to head out in the afternoon to see Blues Traveler. We weren’t the only ones with this idea. As the band finished their set with a slow and spooky rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep,” it was clear why they still have such an impressive draw. Afterwards, we made our way across the grounds with John Fogerty in our sights, but we crossed paths with Against Me! and Regina Spektor along the way.

Punk rock has had a strange resurgence in the last year, and like the genre, Against Me! has made many adjustments in its return to the spotlight. In 2002, Tom Gable performed with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, rough voice, bassist and drummer. Gabel has since graduated to electric guitars and a keyboard played by former Hold Steady member Franz Nicolay. Distraught punks could smell sell-out as Gable moved to a major label and started playing to a more “suburban” audience. But as Against Me! belted out the powerful and revolutionary lines of “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” to rebels swaying in the audience, it became apparent that “being punk” is and will always be a state of mind. (Check out OurStage’s review of the latest from Against Me!, White Crosses.)

Zac Brown

Making a drastic genre leap, we moved on to John Fogerty and Zac Brown Band. Fogerty played at 4PM on the main stage, performing all the Creedence Clearwater Revival hits a child of the ’60s and ’70s could handle. The older crowd danced and sang to “Pretty Woman” and “Down On The Corner”. Personally, I had an epiphany as Fogerty sang the lyric “Look at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn” from “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”. That single line summed up the entire Bonnaroo experience perfectly.

Zac Brown Band then delivered a heavy dose of country to the roots-friendly festival. Fast-paced jams and tropical country grooves borrowed from Jimmy Buffet made the set fun and festive, but ballads like “Highway 20 Ride” could have been saved for the Country Music Awards.

Dave Matthews Band had the honor of  filling the typical jam-band Sunday night closing spot. Playing material off their latest release 2009’s Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King, the songs sounded like faint whispers of what the hits of DMB past were made of. Fans still danced, albeit sluggishly after the scorching weekend, but soon were reduced to sitting on blankets and swaying in the night heat. If Dave’s intention had been to present a rockin’ good time, more upbeat tracks would have been nice. But still, it was a suitable close to the festival. As Dave himself said, the set was “the cheese after the dessert. A little sparkling wine.”

And so we packed up our things and hit the road, eager to tend to our sunburns and tired ears. And while we’re sad its all over, next year no doubt holds all new spectacles for us. After all its Bonnaroo’s 10th anniversary…