Lazy-i Interview: Icky Blossoms talks new album, David Sitek, the line-up, touring and the soul of creativity; Live Review: Midwest Dilemma; Buck Bowen tonight…
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Here’s the story: Icky Blossoms is headed to SXSW next week. They’re driving. The distance from Benson, Nebraska, to Waterloo Records in Austin, Texas, is roughly 770 miles the way the Google flies. Gas currently costs around $4 a gallon. They’ll be driving a van that probably gets (if they’re lucky) 10 miles a gallon. If you use the above numbers:
770 / 10 x $4 = $308
That number does not include the cost of roadside junk food and other assorted “necessities” to make the 14-hour non-stop drive tolerable. Nor does it include the cost of lodging (substantially more than $308 if they’re staying at a hotel) and meals needed while in Music City.
Icky Blossoms just returned from Los Angeles where they recorded their debut album with TV on the Radio’s David Sitek to be released on Saddle Creek Records in early July. If you’ve ever been to LA and know how expensive its pleasures cost, than you know the band very likely is tapped out.
That’s where you come in. This is an early heads up for this Saturday night’s Icky Blossoms show at The Slowdown. In an effort to generate as much money as possible to cover costs, the band has moved the concert from Slowdown Jr. to Slowdown’s big stage.
Icky Blossoms needs you. Change whatever you had planned for Saturday night. Buy your tickets now. $7, here. You will be watching the birth of Omaha’s Next Big Thing.
To entice you even further to come to Saturday’s show, Icky Blossoms’ guitarist/vocalist Nik Fackler offered to answer some questions about the new album, touring and the future of the band.
What did Dave Sitek do to improve these songs? Did he act more like an engineer or as a traditional producer, and what’s the biggest change we’re going to hear in these songs from what we’ve heard in the past?
Nik Fackler: Sitek produced a creative, experimental and pro atmosphere for us to work in. I personally haven’t worked with many music producers, so for me he was kind of like a film director. He orchestrated the flow, experimented with ideas, created beats and analogue synth sounds and kept us all on schedule. He had an ear for what would work on the dance floor and kept a continuity between all the songs. The biggest change to previously released songs is quality, clarity and bigness.
Did you guys write any new material in LA for this record? Will we hear new songs on Saturday? What is the scheduled release date for the new record?
Nik: We wrote three new tunes when we were out in LA and we will be playing all three at the show on Saturday. The record is going to come out in early July.
What’s the lineup for Saturday night’s show? Is it the regular “live band” lineup?
Nik: The live lineup has shuffled a bit. Saturday’s show will see Saber Blazek (Machete Archive) on bass, Clark Baechle (Faint, Depressed Buttons) on drums, Nik (Fackler), Sarah (Bohling, keyboards, vocals), and Derek Pressnall (lead vocals, guitar) take stage.
How is Derek going to tour with: 1) a new baby in the house, and 2) Tilly and the Wall releasing a new record (and, presumably, touring as well)? Is that going to limit the amount of touring that Icky will be able to do this year?
Nik: We are planning on touring and promoting the record as heavily as we can. How much that will actually be will be determined in the way the record is received and what kind of offers come in. If all goes well it definitely will be a balancing act, but not one we can’t handle. Our main focus right now is to continue to make our best songs and as many of them as we can so we can build a fan base. Scheduling stuff can always be worked out.
What about your schedule? If funding comes through for one of your major film projects, won’t you have to put Icky on hold? Does one project (music or filmmaking) take precedent over the other?
Nik: Creation is my soul. The goal for me is to never limit the amount of things I can create. I think we live in an age where artwork like film and music can be accomplished quickly. The digitizing of the world has removed some of the hands on aspects of art, but created the ability to produce things more quickly and with just as much quality. Right now, I am in a mode of work. Trying to forge a path for myself where I can do everything and not have to put anything on hold. Right now, it’s about coming up with a balanced and positive process to execute all these different ideas I have.
Neither takes precedent over the other. In a way I see them as all part of the whole.
How many times is Icky going to perform at SXSW? I know of only two gigs currently scheduled.
Nik: We are playing three shows. Thursday: The Waterloo Records Party, Waterloo Records Parking Lot, 2 p.m.; Friday: Saddle Creek Showcase at Lamberts BBQ, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday: Mad Decent/ Check Yo Ponytail/ Fool’s Gold Super Party at Emo’s East, Noon.
Opening for Icky Blossoms this Saturday at Slowdown is Midtown Marauders and Pony Wars. 9 p.m. $7. See you there.
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Last night saw a much stripped-down version of Midwest Dilemma at Slowdown Jr., at least compared to the last time I saw Justin Lamoureux’s band, where there were something like 16 people on stage. Last night MD played as a 4-piece with Lamoureux on guitar backed by cellist, flautist and brass player (tuba, bass trombone). I know he likes the big ensemble (hey, who doesn’t want to be surrounded by their friends?), but I much prefer this slimmed-down format which strips the songs to their bare essentials with just enough unique accoutrement for added flavor. Years of performing have aged Lamoureux’s voice like a fine Bordeaux. He’s discarded any vocal affectations (at times in his career he used to sport an Oberst bray) and now sings with a purely unique folk voice that would be appealing to anyone who likes, say, M. Ward’s style of music. Among the highlights was an ode to The 49’r and Lamoureux’s pre-song take on the role the bar played in his life (spoiler alert: booze). He hinted that a new album could be ready to go in a couple months, but quickly added that he’s been saying that for the past four years. Maybe it’s time we all put a collective boot up his ass?
Headliner Water Liars came on at around 10:30 to play a short set in front of about 10 people (including myself, bar staff and Lamoureux’s bandmates). Despite the lax crowd, their songs sounded heartfelt and full for a duo in the classic guitar-and-drums design. I love this guy’s voice, which reminded me of Will Johnson on songs that reminded me of Will Johnson as well. Gorgeous stuff.
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Tonight at House of Loom it’s the homecoming of nefarious hip-hop artist Buck Bowen, returning from California and places beyond. Hear Nebraska has the story of where Buck’s gone and where he going, right here. His hop-hop set tonight is part of Loom’s Midtown Marauder Showcase, which runs from 9 p.m. to 2 and costs $5. More info here. Bowen also will be manning the turntables at Loom Saturday night for a DJ set. Info on that showcase is here.
Also tonight, a live performance by KMG and Birthday Suits — I have no idea who these dudes are, but it don’t matter cuz the show’s at O’Leaver’s, which means it ain’t nothing but a party. $5, 9:30 p.m.
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.