Technology is changing the world as we know it every day. We all know that new technology and advanced knowledge may lead to incredible achievements but they also result in criticism. When technology is used properly, an industry can do great things. But there will always be the people who want things done “the old-fashioned way”. Within in the music industry, new technology has completely changed the way things are done and the opportunities available. From social-networking Web sites to digital music and illegal downloading, the way that people consume and connect with music has changed drastically in recent years.
One prominent example of this involves music festivals. Not able to afford a ticket? Live thousands of miles away? You no longer have to worry because most of these events now bring the entertainment to you for free…and you don’t even have to leave the house! This year, many of the big music festivals began live streaming their performances online. Coachella used YouTube, where fans could choose between three different stages at any given time to watch their favorite acts. NPR Music and Limelight Networks provided SXSW with the means to stream featured performances over the course of the festival. HullabaLOU Music Festival, Pitchfork Music Festival and Bonnaroo Music And Art Festival also followed this growing trend. In addition to festivals, Ben Folds even took to Chatroulette during one of his live performances last year and improvised songs about the random people he was connected with through the Web site. Overseas, BBC aired performances from the huge Glastonbury Festival, which takes place every year in England.
Legendary lead singer of the rock band The Who, Roger Daltrey has been vocal about his aversion to the concept of airing live music festivals. In speaking to BBC Radio in Scotland last month he certainly didn’t hold back, saying that the TV coverage makes him “want to puke”. He elaborated by explaining that “most of the mystique is taken away” with this recent development. He also criticized the idea because he doesn’t believe artists are able to benefit much from it. Daltrey commented on the industry as a whole, saying, “I think the record industry has been decimated by free downloading and touring is becoming incredible expensive”. Having been a part of the music world for a long time now, he certainly has a different perspective on the way it has been shifting. But, are his complaints valid? (more…)
You can try, but you probably can’t put an accurate label on Foxy Shazam. Their eccentric and eclectic mix of punk, soul and straight up rock ‘n’ roll has earned the band critical praise and performances at Lollapollooza, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Reading & Leeds. Following a summer tour with Hole and the release of their smash self-titled album, the band recently finished a two-month cross-country stint with Free Energy and is preparing for another huge year in 2011.
One might expect that outrageously energetic 24-year-old frontman Eric Nally lives an equally wild life. On the contrary”offstage, he is a soft-spoken, friendly father of two. We had the pleasure of speaking with Eric about touring memories, writing with Meat Loaf, modern day rock stars and what it’s like to lead a double life.
OS: You’ve just finished your fall tour with Free Energy. How were the shows and what were some of your favorite moments from the tour?
EN: We went to the UK for a week in between this tour and that was awesome. I loved that because we sold out London for the first time. It was big for me because we’re from Cincinnati, Ohio and it’s just really far from home. To sell a place out so far away is an awesome feeling; to bring your music to a different country and do that. I liked playing Montreal because Hollerado, the band that’s opening on this tour, is from there. All their crowd was out and it was just really fun.
OS: Foxy Shazam is well known for its incredible, off-the-wall performances. What inspires the band to become so theatrical on stage?
EN: I usually tell people, “that’s just the way we were born!” It’s just natural to us. We don’t have to do any preparation or any pre-show rituals to summon these things on stage, they just come out naturally. It’s just the way we came out of our moms, I guess. When I’m on stage, I’m an entertainer…when I’m off stage, I’m a spectator. So I just kind of sit back and watch and soak everything in. When I go on stage, I let it all out.
OS: You’ve stated that Foxy Shazam are “not concerned with what category it falls into.” Do you often find that people are trying to fit you into a genre or compare you to other bands because they’re not sure where to place you?
EN: Yeah, that happens all the time. Anybody I ever meet that’s an artist…everybody wants to be themselves. But really, in the way that everything works now, it’s just what people have to do. I accept that. Everything needs to be compared to something else just so you can wrap your head around it easier, I guess. Either way, I don’t mind it, but people do try to compare or group us into a category. Every time it’s different, so it’s cool.
OS: You’ve said that you would never want to make the same record again and the evolution of the band’s music has certainly reflected that. How do you see Foxy Shazam’s music evolving in the future?
EN: I don’t know…every record we make kind of stands for where I am at that moment. I’d have to kind of be in the moment to understand, but that’s exciting for me. I really like not knowing. It’s kind of cool to not think about it and not prepare.
OS: In the song “Wannabe Angel” from your self-titled record, you sing, “For you I wear this mask, at home I take it off.” Is it difficult to transition between your life as a rock star and your life as a dad and husband?
EN: Yes, that’s exactly what I was trying to say with that. I feel like I’m a completely different person when I’m on stage. It’s kind of like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type thing and that’s awesome to me. It’s like how actors do…entertainers, really. It’s just who I am. Being a dad compared to being a professional touring musician…it’s just the complete opposite end of the spectrum. I feel so different when I’m not on stage.
OS: Earlier this year, you helped write some songs for Meat Loaf’s album Hang Cool Teddy Bear. What was your role in the writing process? Would you be interested in writing for other artists again?
EN: Absolutely! I love being associated with people that have rich history in music and Meat Loaf is obviously one of those people. I just co-wrote two songs with Justin Hawkins who used to be in The Darkness”he’s one of my best friends now. It was just awesome. We went there together and we wrote together and sat with Meat Loaf. It was great, I made a lot of good friends through that whole experience. A lot of the other writers that were there were a lot older and have done stuff like that before. That was something that I couldn’t believe I was experiencing so early in my career.
OS: Are there any artists in particular that you’d like to write for?
EN: I would love to, whether it’s writing or whatever, work with Cee-Lo Green sometime. I think he has the best voice in music right now. I think it’s just awesome, it hits me in the right spot. It’s the perfect voice for me. I’d love to work with him someday.
OS: Foxy Shazam was one of the first bands featured on ChatRoulette for album promotion, but you aren’t a huge proponent of bands using social media. Can you share your thoughts on that?
EN: I feel like the rock star is kind of a dying breed, we’re becoming extinct. You don’t seem them very much anymore. I think one of the most important things about what that persona was, was that you didn’t know them. It was almost like a mythical creature. People would gather backstage for hours just to catch a glimpse…and you don’t get that anymore. People know everything that everybody does because of Twitter and Facebook and they’re updating constantly. Everybody’s so human now, I guess, which is fine. That’s how it’s always been, everybody’s just a person. But I think there was this certain mysteriousness about the artist and that’s not really around anymore. So I kind of try to keep that going. I think it’s important to have people make their own stories about you rather than know the hard facts because chances are the hard facts are extremely boring (laughs).
OS: Foxy Shazam has recently announced some big touring plans for 2011. Can you tell us about the tours and festivals you’ll be playing next year?
EN: In January, we have a tour with Circa Survive. That will be awesome because I’ve heard their new record is great. I haven’t heard it but I’m really anxious to! I’ve heard a lot about that band and I know a lot of people who know them and they say they’re great guys and that’s really important to me, to share a tour with people that are nice. I’m really excited about that one, I think it will be awesome. Then we go to Australia [for the Soundwave Festival] in February and I’m really looking forward to it. I just love taking my music to different countries. I’ve never been to Australia, so it will be awesome. We have a bunch of days off in between the shows there so I’m going to do a lot of sight-seeing.
Check out this live video of Foxy Shazam performing “The Rocketeer” and don’t miss them on their upcoming tour dates, listed below!
Dec 16 Detroit, MI – Shelter
Dec 17 DeKalb, IL – House Cafe w/Victorian Halls & ‘Richardson’ Richardson
Dec 18 Minneapolis, MN – Popsickle Festival w/Motion City Soundtrack, Minus The Bear & more!
Dec 19 Kalamazoo, MI – The Strutt w/Their Teeth Will Be of Lions
Jan 14 Richmond, VA “ The National w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 15 Charlotte, NC “ Amos Southend w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 16 Ashville, NC “ Orange Peel w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 18 St. Louis, MO “ Pop’s w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 19 Omaha, NE “ The Slowdown w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 20 Des Moines, IA “ People’s Court w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 21 Grand Rapids, MO “ Orbit Room w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 22 Columbus, OH “ Newport Music Hall w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 24 Cincinnati, OH “ Bogarts w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 26 Baltimore, MD “ Rams Head Live w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 28 Rochester, NY “ Water Street Music Hall w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 29 Albany, NY “ Northern Lights w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 30 Allentown, PA “ Crocodile Rock w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Feb 26 Brisbane, AU – Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!
Feb 27 Sydney, AU- Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!
March 4 Melbourne, AU – Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!
March 5 Adelaide, AU- Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!
March 7 Perth, AU – Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!
Taxi rides from east to west side; uptown todowntown, overlapping forty- to one-hour set times in Brooklyn and Manhattan, droves lined up to see the next big thing, open bars and deeply-discounted beers”this was the daily agenda for attendees at the 2010 CMJ Music Marathon.
Things moved expeditiously and, for the most part, the tightly-knit sets stayed on schedule from Tuesday through closing in the wee morning hours on Sunday. Wide-eyed by the first day and nearly trudging from venue to venue mid-way through the week, attendees and artists had their work cut out for them. This year, the CMJ Music Marathon was jam-packed with some of the most buzzed-about artists”most from New York”who had more multiple spots than last year, easing some of the timetable anxieties.
Bursts of electro and new wave pulsated throughout the five-day event. New York trio, BRAHMS, made the room dance from the moment they helped kick-off CMJ Tuesday night at a Piano’s showcase. Singer Eric Lyle Lodwick darkly thumped through each track like Dave Gahan making BRAHMS a melodious addiction. The name Oberhofer could be heard here and there. Fronted by Brad Oberhofer, the subtle guitars, meshed with keyboard have a few chiming hints of Vampire Weekend in tracks like AWY FRM U, off the band’s debut, o0O0o0O0o, produced by Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock. Sydney’s Cassette Kids, who now reside in Brooklyn, didn’t fail to make patrons stir in and around their standing-room spots as vocalist Katrina Noorberger, like a willowy Terri Nunn, commanded the stage with her dirty dance-rock beats.
Out-of-towners brought as much hype to the daily time slots. Boasting five CMJ gigs under their belts, Newport Beach, Calif.’s Young the Giant offered their soul- and synth-fused set with tambourine-slapping Sameer Gadhia evoking some murmurs of Brandon Flowers vocals. A New Zealand Showcase presented an electronic beat down from Bowie-loving, petite powerhouse Zowie and the more Scissor Sisters-ridden Kids of 88 while Robert and David Perlick Molinari of French Horn Rebellion filled Santos Party House with whimsical, electro beats (French horns included) as one of the last to perform Sunday morning at 1:30 AM.
A mix of dance, rock and DJ sets took place the final two days at the FADER Fort, reminiscent of a rave house, and some surprises filled in the week, including Phoenix, housed in a packed Madison Square Garden with surprise guests Daft Punk. A rumored turned confirmed appearance by Kanye West with new artist CyHi Da Prynce at the Brooklyn Bowl Fool’s Gold Records Anniversary Party heightened the end of the fest by Saturday night. Here’s to CMJ 2011.
By Tina Benitez
Tina Benitez is a contributing writer, who covers music, wine and pop culture from her New York home office for publications like NY Press, Royal Flush, amNY, Men’s Fitness, Venus Zine and Wine Spectator.
As one of the biggest names in contemporary progressive rock, Circa Survive continuously strive to do things differently. For their latest record, Blue Sky Noise, the Philadelphia-based quintet brought on a new producer, switched record labels and ultimately created an album that received rave reviews from critics and fans alike. We caught up with guitarist Colin Frangicetto as the band prepared to head out on their next US headlining tour.
OS: You’re out on tour from mid-October to the end of November with Dredg, Codeseven and Animals as Leaders. As headliners of this tour, do you plan on increasing stage production?
CF: Yes! When we do headlining tours, that’s always the first goal, to bring more to the stage in the way of production.
OS: Circa Survive have had several guest vocalists during shows in the past, including Good Old War, Mindy White from Lydia and Geoff Rickley of Thursday. Can fans expect any on-stage collaboration between acts on this tour?
CF: I would be extremely surprised if it didn’t happen.
OS: Do you have anyone in mind?
CF: Probably anyone we can get our hands on, I mean, we’re fans of all of the artists we’re bringing, so I would assume it would be multiple people from different acts on this tour. I wouldn’t expect anyone to be excluded unless they wussed out and didn’t do it (laughs).
OS: Any songs you’d want to do in particular?
CF: Not in particular…there are certain group vocal parts on the record that I think anyone familiar with the album would know, but I think most likely it will be up to the artists and which ones they would want to contribute to. We’ll leave it as a surprise.
OS: What is the transition like between seasons as a full-time touring act? Do crowd interactions and response tend to vary between outdoor festival shows versus indoor shows?
CF: It really depends more on the territory and the vibe of the event. Sometimes we play festivals where we are very much so outsiders and we’re playing to a bunch of fresh ears, people who haven’t really heard us before. So obviously the response in a place like that is going to be a lot different than, say, Bamboozle, or a place where we have an extremely large crowd watching us, that is familiar with us. It’s a much more high-energy vibe when people are familiar with the band, which I think is to be expected, especially with rock bands…it’s a lot easier to get into it when you know every word and every arc of every riff. But we try to accept all types of responses. In traveling around and playing for people of different cultures, you kind of get used to the fact that every place is different. In the states, even, you can drive eight hours and the crowds will just have a completely different energy. We are obviously fans of a joyous celebration with ecstatic energy, but if people just want to stand there and watch and not really participate, that’s fine too.
OS: Your first two albums were released on Equal Vision, but Blue Sky Noise was released on Atlantic Records. What are some of the big differences between working on an indie label and working on a major label?
CF: I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that indie labels are operating and have been operating in a similar vein to major labels for quite some time. I think a lot of the major labels have taken certain cues from a lot of the indie labels. So there’s a much bigger middle ground where they’re kind of the same. But, some of the differences have been worldwide support that we haven’t experienced in the past…being able to go to Germany for the first time and play for 400 people in a random city. Atlantic is a much bigger company so there’s a lot more people involved in the record on all aspects. More minds, which is always a good thing, but at the same time, it’s more people to pay attention to and make sure that everyone is on the same page. So it’s a little more work in that aspect, but the pay-off is really the same. We feel like the people there are just as passionate as the people at Equal Vision and that’s really what it comes down to. When you change labels, you’re really just changing the people that you’re working with. We had a great relationship with Equal Vision, we actually still do. There were big shoes to fill and Atlantic has been wonderful so far. It’s still early on, but it’s been great.
OS: You worked with producer Brian McTernan for Juturna and On Letting Go, but worked with David Bottrill for Blue Sky Noise. What made you decide to work with him?
CF: The journey of making this record was we really wanted to try a lot of different things. A producer obviously has a huge impact on the overall sound of the record. We see working with producers almost like working with teachers, in a way. We thought that we had kind of learned what we were supposed to learn from Brian and we were really excited to see what someone else could offer and bring to the table. We essentially just wanted to change the sound palette and make a record that jumped out as sounding different from the other two. David obviously met that criteria, but on top of that, he has just made so many incredible albums and worked with so many wonderful artists. The idea of working with him didn’t even strike us as a real possibility until we started sitting down with people and we looked at the calendar…and it’s like, “Meeting with David Bottrill” and you’re like, “What?!” Your brain tries to make sense of it, but it doesn’t really become a reality until you say, “I do want to work with you, David” and he says “I do want to work with you guys!” We sat down together and after that wave of nervous fanboy excitement, being in the studio with him was just incredible. I never was so happy with a choice. He was perfect for us for this record and took us to different places. I think the record speaks for itself and his track record with working with artists is still in tact, I hope.
OS: All three of your album covers were created by Esao Andrews. Is there any sort of connection between the three covers?
CF: It’s funny, because the theme for a lot of the decisions was, “Change, change, change.” But when it came to Esao, we were like “No, we’re gonna stay.” We feel like he’s really our visual counterpart; he’s great at putting a visual to what we make on a record. I think any connection with the covers would be inside of Esao’s twisted mind. I think it’s open to interpretation and you can easily connect all three by some type of narrative in your own head. I think what’s so great about that is that it’s what we try to do with our music. We try to create this subtle narrative, but at the same time, we want it to be subtle enough that you can steer it any way that you like to make sense and interpret it the way you want.
OS: You spend a lot of your free time working on original paintings yourself. Do you have any plans to exhibit your art or mass produce it for fans?
CF: I do make prints from time to time and they’ve always been limited to a certain number. As far as doing shows, I’ve done a couple, whether it’s a group show or a small exhibit at a coffee shop, something like that. I really would love to do a real art show at some point, it’s just so hard to find time to submit stuff. And then half of these galleries that I would want to submit to, they work a year ahead of schedule…so it’s like, “Oh yeah, we’ll prepare for your show at this time.” And I’m like, “Well, I could be in Japan then…so I have no idea how I’m going to do that.” So there hasn’t really been time to do that yet, but in the future, it’s definitely something I plan on doing and I’m just trying to spend as much time as I can on it on the side.
OS: In addition to working together in Circa Survive, you also collaborated with Anthony Green’s solo album and produced the remix version of Avalon. Will you be working together again on his next album?
CF: I think so. We’ve talked about it a bunch and I’ve heard a lot of the songs he’s been working on. I know Keith Goodwin from Good Old War has got his hands all over it, I think he might be producing the record. But yeah, I’m sure I’ll wind up doing something for it…it’s just too much fun not to. So if Anthony wants me to, I’m sure I will!
Don’t miss Circa Survive when they visit your hometown!
October 26 – House of Blues, New Orleans, LA
October 27 – House of Blues, Houston, TX
October 29 – White Rabbit, San Antonio, TX
October 30 – White Rabbit, San Antonio, TX
October 31 – House of Blues, Dallas, TX
November 4 – House of Blues, Anaheim, CA
November 5 – House of Blues, San Diego, CA
November 6 – Avalon, Hollywood, CA
November 7 – The Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, CA
November 9 – Wonder Ballroom, Portland, OR
November 10 – El Corazon, Seattle, WA
November 12 – The Complex, Salt Lake City, UT
November 13 – The Summit Music Hall, Denver, CO
November 14 – The Beaumont Club, Kansas City, MO
November 17 – Cabooze on the West Bank, Minneapolis, MN
November 18 – The Eagles Club, Milwaukee, WI
November 19 – House of Blues, Chicago, IL
November 20 – St. Andrews Hall, Detroit, MI
November 21 – House of Blues, Cleveland, OH
November 23 – The Chance, Poughkeepsie, NY
November 24 – House of Blues, Boston, MA
November 26 – Theatre of the Living Arts, Philadelphia, PA
November 27 – Irving Plaza, New York, NY
November 28 – Irving Plaza, New York, NY
August is closer to over than beginning, which means the same for summer, and this column. And while there are a few festivals left that dare to stretch their wings into the fall months”Austin City Limits and Bumbershoot will be tempting us in the coming weeks” its time to bid our friends on the road adieu and hope that acts touring through the winter will hold us over til spring once more. That said, festival season 2010 brought a lot of good times and memories, with thank yous to be said, apologies to be made and lessons to be learned in the process.
So to start off, I’m sorry to the Internet Warrior, who asked me to bring him sunscreen from the car while at Bamboozle but I brought back hair gel instead. While I didn’t feel your pain, I could definitely see it in your bright red sunburn.
I’m sorry to one of our interns, who sprinted back and forth and battled out burly security guards by herself to get great shots of acts at SXSW. Though I’m not really sorry, because she was”after all”at SXSW.
I’m sorry to Andrew WK’s T-shirt at Warped Tour, which will not survive the strawberry smoothie that accosted it.
I’m sorry to the people of Toronto, who no doubt missed me terribly when I couldn’t attend the first OVO Festival with Drake because I didn’t have a valid passport. Customs are no joke, kids. And thank you to our Account Manager Alex, who went in my place and rocked it.
Thank you to the cop directing traffic in Mansfield, TN, who led us down a dirt access road that resulted in bypassing the hours of wait time on the highway shoulder waiting to get into Bonnaroo. And thank you to the kid directing cars once in the camp ground that resulted in a spot just minutes from the media tent, where I lugged my lap top every day.
Thank you to the wonderful ladies of OurStage who won opening spots on the Lilith festival, who displayed grace and appreciation when some dates were cancelled.
Thank you to the awesome folks at Converse who hooked up OurStage bands The Appreciation Post and Therefore I Am with sweet sneaks at the Journey’s Backyard BBQ (a mini-fest, but fest all the same).
And thank you to all you crazy music fans who shared in our adventures. Festivals have no doubt changed and adapted in hard times and fluctuating music trends, but your passion keeps us all going. So rinse out your cooler, pack up your tent, put some aloe on that sunburn and we’ll see you next year!