Ten Questions with DeVotchKa (@ TWR Feb. 10); Samantha Crane, About-Face, Cult Play tonight; Lupines, Janglepop Saturday…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:51 pm February 8, 2019

Devotchka plays at The Waiting Room Sunday night.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

“Devotchka” is a Russian word for “girl,” according to Wikipedia, whereas DeVotchKa is a Denver four-piece fronted by brassy crooner Nick Urata. The band’s history dates back to 1997 and 11 studio albums including their latest, This Night Falls Forever (2018, Concord Records), a romantic collection of lush ballads that, on tracks like “Done with Those Days,” and opener “Straight Shot” sees Urata channeling such vintage vocalists as Roy Orbison and Chris Isaak.

One common thread in these songs is their sentimentality,” Urata says. “When you first discover rock and roll, that’s usually the same time you’re discovering girls or boys, when everything is so romantic and huge — that era of your life is where these songs are coming from.”

We caught up with Urata and gave him the Ten Questions treatment. Here’s eight of his answers:

1. What is your favorite album?

Nick Urata: Revolver by the Beatles. Every song on it is a classic and in a genre of its own. The moment I heard it I knew I had to make music.

2. What is your least favorite song?

The “877 Kars 4 Kids” (jingle/commercial)

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

I’ve always wanted to be in a band. I’ve been in so many that fell apart when you find one that works it’s like magic. To have brothers and sisters in music, to share the peaks and valleys of this life is a blessing.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

“Hate” is a strong word, but if you’re serious about your band it takes over every aspect of your life.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

I left (this one and No. 10) blank. They will just get me in trouble…

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

Omaha, obviously.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

There have been a few.  When we look back it turns out our home town of Denver is the sight of some of our worst disasters. Mostly because that’s where we cut our teeth and learned how to put on a show. It’s always the ones that you think are going to be earth-shattering that are the biggest let down. For us early on we were asked to open for Marilyn Manson, we were elated, but the reality was a harsh one. I thought his fans would be enlightened and open to something different, but the diehards up front hated us and made our first arena show a nightmare, it was also the day GW got re-elected, very dark…

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

It goes back to my previous answer: If you are willing to give up any semblance of a normal life you can eventually quit your day job. I’m happy to report we all have.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

I would love to be a cinematographer, but I’m not sure I can even spell it so I guess that says something, but I think the fact that we can capture our world in such a beautiful light is a miracle we take for granted and future dystopian generations will cherish.

On the flip side, anything around an airport or church.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

Devotchka plays with Neyla Pekarek (formerly of The Lumineers) Sunday, Feb. 10, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple Street. Tickets are $25 Adv/$60 M&G. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com

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Now onward to the rest of the weekend…

Acclaimed singer/songwriter Samantha Crain headlines tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s. She’s a Choctaw singer, songwriter, poet, producer and musician from Oklahoma and a two-time Native American Grammy Award winner. Sean Pratt and McCarthy Trenching open at 10 p.m. $10.

Meanwhile, over at The Sydney in Benson, Cult Play headlines with Lincoln band Universe Contest and Dross (members of Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship). 10 p.m., $5.

There’s also a four-band emo show at West O bar Dr. Jack’s Drinkery, 3012 No. 102nd St. Headlining is Nebraska band About-Face, with Missouri act Faintheart, and Nebraska bands Midwest Coasta and Phantom Killer. $10, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) it’s back to O’Leaver’s for the amazing Lupines. Also on the bill are Las Cruxes and Chase the Ghost (Reagan Roeder/Brian Tait madness). $5, 10 p.m.

Also happening Saturday night is the return of ’90s/’00s Omaha act Janglepop at Reverb Lounge. Read this ancient article about the band here. Modern-day jangle-pop alt-country band Clarence Tilton opens at 8 p.m. $5.

And that’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

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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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with Future Generations (tonight at The Waiting Room)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:32 pm January 15, 2019

Future Generations plays tonight (Jan. 15) at The Waiting Room.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Brooklyn indie band Future Generations was trying to get their heads around their changing world on their sophomore album Landscape (2018, Frenchkiss). “The title partly came from ending the first significant relationship of my life, and with the band’s move to Brooklyn, we were all put into this world we’d never experienced—living on our own and navigating the landscape of being in New York City,” said frontman Eddie Gore.

Produced by Justin Gerrish (Vampire Weekend, Hamilton Leithauser), Landscape also is the first Future Generations release to feature their full lineup which, in addition to Gore, includes Mike Sansevere, synthesizer/guitar/percussion; Eric Grossman, guitar; Devon Sheridan, bass, and Dylan Wells, percussion.

We caught up with the band and gave them the ol’ Ten Question treatment. Here’s what they said.

*Band note* This was done in the van on the way to Indianapolis and later to Omaha, with Devon dictating and transcribing questions and answers.

1. What is your favorite album?

Dylan Wells: Kid A by Radiohead

Mike Sansevere: I gotta think about it. You can probably just put Donuts by J Dilla for me. It’s a played-out answer, but that’s probably it.

Eric Grossman: That’s a good question I have no idea. That Bruce Springsteen live album probably, I have no idea what it is.

Eddie Gore: Parachutes by Coldplay

Devon Sheridan: It always changes but right now I’d say Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend.

2. What is your least favorite song?

Dylan: “Piano Man” by Billy Joel.

Mike: Ohhhh yeah that song sucks (Dylan and Mike fist bump). Might have to second that.

Devon: Mine is “We Are Young” by Fun..

Eddie: Whatever that “Thunder” song by Imagine Dragons is.

Eric: I don’t know what are some bad songs?

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Dylan: Traveling, specifically eating at cool little diners every morning.

Mike: Making music, that’s why (I’m in) in a band, to make music.

Eric: *too busy playing Mario* just say uhhhh, figuring out and eating lunch.

Eddie: Getting paid to hang out with my friends.

Devon: I’m with Eddie. I also just like putting good energy into the world via music. Always thought it’d be so cool to do that.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Dylan: Financial insecurity.

Mike: Traveling. I also really hate foreign bathrooms, just a different toilet everyday. That kills me.

Eric: The stress of being in a different place everyday. I like being in my own bed.

Eddie: I don’t really hate anything about being in a band.

Devon: I hate the always nagging feeling of never feeling like you’re doing enough, either creatively or professionally, for the band. Even if it’s not true.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Eric: You can say butter.

Dylan: A nice Northern Rhone Syrah.

Mike: You can put down water for me.

Eddie: Cheese.

Devon: Eggs, they’re freaking next level.

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

Dylan: Austin.

Mike: Atlanta.

Eric: The North Pole.

Eddie: Nashville.

Devon: Nashville, because of hot chicken and Eddie’s parents’ super comfortable basement.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Dylan: Baltimore, because I fell out of my drum throne.

Mike: I never make mistakes.

Eric: There was a hectic show in D.C. where my pedals didn’t work. It was with Mt. Joy earlier this year.

Eddie: We played the wrong venue in Alabama a couple years ago. That was bad.

Devon: We played an empty show at a terrifying bar in Memphis on a Monday, and now we always say “at least it won’t be as bad as ‘Memphis on a Monday.’”

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

Devon: Not quite yet, but getting there. Mostly we all bartend and work in the service industry to varying degrees. We all love and appreciate food, and it keeps us flush when we’re not touring. Mike does royalties for labels.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

Dylan: I would want to work on a winery; would hate to do an office job.

Mike: Accountant/Accountant.

Eddie: Food critic. I’d hate to be a music critic.

Eric: Would love to work and office job; would hate to work on a winery.

Devon: Would love to do criminal defense law; would hate to be a gun manufacturer.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

Dylan: Birthplace of 311.

Mike: Warren Buffett. And they got a Whole Foods by the hotel.

Eric: All I know is Omaha Steaks.

Eddie: I don’t know anything about Omaha.

Devon: OMAHA!!!

Future Generations plays with Magic City Hippies, Tuesday, Jan. 15, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple Street. Tickets are $20, showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com.

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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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with Middle Kids (at The Sydney Dec. 8)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:00 pm December 6, 2018

Middle Kids play at The Sydney in Benson Saturday, Dec. 8.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Middle Kids’ debut LP, Lost Friends (Domino, 2018) is one of the funnest, hookiest, prettiest records of the year. I point to the band’s Australian roots (they’re from Sydney) for their music’s sheer golden-sun tunefulness, because in my experience, those Aussies know their way around a beautiful melody (And as Exhibits A, B and C I give you Courtney Barnett, Tame Impala and Wolfmother, all past winners of Australia’s highly coveted Triple J award for album of the year, just like Middle Kids was this year).

The trio’s origins go back to 2014 when frontwoman Hannah Joy met bassist Tim Fitz through mutual friends and began making beautiful music together, both the kind you listen to and otherwise (as in they’re married now). Drummer Harry Day filled out the combo on their self-titled EP in 2017. 

The follow-up full-length, Lost Friends, is a buoyant ride of anthemic indie rock that shuffles and shimmers in a style that fits right alongside acts like Alvvays, First Aid Kit and Oh Pep! — bands that aren’t afraid to put melody above all else. 

I caught up with Middle Kids’ Tim Fitz and gave him the Ten Questions treatment. Here’s what he had to say: 

1. What is your favorite album?

Middle Kids’ Tim Fitz: Pretzel Logic by Steely Dan

2. What is your least favorite song?

“Aja” by Steely Dan

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

The joy and community that comes with mutual experience and creation.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Continually trying to work with others and love them is a terribly painful blow to the ego.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Cheetos

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

Too many! Philadelphia comes to mind. Also played a great show once at Stubbs BBQ in that great Texan city known as Austin.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Had a terrible gig in Portland once that involved a sound guy who was definitely affected by some substances, to the point where he didn’t know how to get any sound out of the speakers. They called in another guy to help, who was also out of his mind, and together they drunk drove that sound-desk for the duration of the show.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

We all do a few things in music, a few little fingers in a few pies. We get by with a little help from our friends. It took a while but once you get that first Porsche you never look back. You gotta diversify, hustle and follow your gut. You gotta buy low and sell high. That’s how we do it anyway.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

We would love to open a Boulangerie in Paris. We would hate to run a Lawn Mower Shop.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

We hear that the people are good souls. We’ve heard their skies are cold and gray but their hearts are warm and their eyes are bright.

Middle Kids plays with The Shacks Saturday, Dec. 8, at The Sydney, 5918 Maple St. Tickets are $13 Adv./$15 DOS. Showtime is 9 p.m. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with Cloud Nothings (@ The Waiting Room 11/13)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:39 pm November 12, 2018

Cloud Nothings plays at The Waiting Room Tuesday, Nov. 13.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings began as singer/songwriter/frontman Dylan Baldi’s secret basement project that caught fire in a big way, resulting in a record deal with rising indie label Carpark Records (Speedy Ortiz, TEEN, Dan Deacon). Through the course of their five-album career spanning back to their self-titled 2011 debut, the project has worked with some of the hottest producers in the business including Steve Albini, John Congleton and John Goodmanson.

For their latest, Last Building Burning (2018, Carpark), the band worked with metal producer Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Myrkur, Black Mountain). The result is a bracingly sharp turn from the melodic indie rock of 2017’s Life Without Sound; a move toward hard, fast, punk wherein Baldi’s croon had devolved into a sneering, angry, agitated bark that cuts through a wall of shrieking guitars. Intense.

I caught up with Dylan Baldi and gave him the Ten Questions treatment:

1. What is your favorite album?

Cloud Nothing’s Dylan Baldi: It feels reductive to choose a single favorite album of all time. Favorite album of 2018 so far is Rose Mercie’s self-titled. Wild Raincoats/Electrelane-sounding hybrid out of Paris, France…very cool band.

2. What is your least favorite song?

Honestly there are so many bad songs. Most songs are bad. How can a person pick just one?

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

I like the feeling of actually creating energy. Like when a song is at its peak there can be an actual, almost tangible energy created. Pursuing that energy is the whole reason I play music, it feels good to hit those highs.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

I hate waiting for our records to come out. I wish there was a way for vinyl to come into existence the second we finished recording. But unfortunately major labels are clogging the vinyl pressing plants with deluxe Rolling Stones reissues or something so we have to wait four months for our puny little records.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Lead. I love to just sit in an old basement full of lead and breathe it in. That’s also my other favorite part of being in a band. The free access to lead. I can smell it now…

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

I like playing anywhere that has good food. There are lots of places with good food. Even better is when the venue gives you dinner. That is the apex of luxury to me. Chicago seems to have an inordinate amount of venues that also feed you delicious food. I’ll say Chicago.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

We played a show in Singapore a few years ago that stands out. Our drummer and I missed our flight from Cleveland because we were buying Naked Juices at the bagel store in the airport, so we ended up getting to Singapore like an hour before we were supposed to play. Then during the jetlagged fever dream of a show all the mics and drum hardware kept falling over, and the soundpeople just pointed and laughed and didn’t fix anything. Then we got a beer near the venue to pretend the show didn’t happen, and the beer turned out to cost $40. Singapore was hard for us.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

Yeah we’ve been strictly musicians for about six years now. It’s the biggest luxury. Gives me lots of time to make sure I’m making the best music I can. It took us three years of touring and working together for basically zero dollars. But luckily it resulted in an album that people liked in 2012, so since then we’ve been doing okay.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do? 

I would like to be a librarian. I feel like the library science must have lots of layers that I wouldn’t understand unless I went through school to learn it all. And I like books. I would hate to do anything where I have to be alone for a long period of time. I like being around people.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

We have lots of friends in Omaha, and my girlfriend made a record here with Mike Mogis. She loves it here. We’ve never been, I’m looking forward to it!

Cloud Nothings plays with Nap Eyes and David Nance Tuesday, Nov. 13, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Tickets are $15, showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Lazy-i Interview: David Nance — on his new record, Jack White and how music feeds his soul (at Reverb Lounge Oct. 12)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:15 pm October 11, 2018

The David Nance Band plays at Reverb Friday, Oct. 12.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Last weekend I got a chance to interview David Nance at his Dundee home while rain poured down around us. I sat on the porch swing with my lap-top while Dave walked around with his huge, shaggy head of hair, in a worn-out illegible band T-shirt and flannels and answered my meandering questions for a half-hour before it got too cold. We finished up in his living room with his dog, Wild Man, staring me down and occasionally barking.

Last week Chicago label Trouble in Mind Records released his latest album Peaced and Slightly Pulverized under the name David Nance Group (don’t go looking for it in Spotify under “David Nance” because you won’t find it; better yet, just go to a record store and buy a copy or pick it up at the show). Joining Nance on the record are drummer Kevin Donahue, bassist Tom May and guitarist Jim Schroeder performing a collection of psych-rock anthems — huge, droning monoliths grounded in Nance’s grinding guitar and echoing vocals.

David Nance Band, Peaced and Slightly Pulverized (2018, Trouble in Mind)

AllMusic critic Mark Deming called the record “a raw and raucous exercise in no-frills hard rock” adding that his guitar work is “a style that splits the difference between Neil Young’s primativist noise and Keith Richards’ fractured blues, with a bit more slop than either but a similar passion for volume and blissful crunch.” I guess that’s a compliment — Deming gave the record 3-1/2 stars.

Peaced isn’t so much a natural progression from Nance’s earlier records — last year’s break-through album Negative Boogie and 2016’s More Than Enough (both released on Ba Da Bing!) — as much as a slight turn toward more structured rock songs that evolve into amazing guitar jams — satisfying and easy to get lost inside.

Nance said the album was recorded in Jim Schroeder’s basement. “Jim has a nice tape machine set-up,” Nance said. “He’s a little more focused than me when it comes to fidelity. He’ll dial it in a little more; he cares about tape hiss.

“Out of the gate it’s the record that sounds most like a live band,” he added. “The last one we recorded in a day and then threw stuff on it. This one was recorded in a room with maybe a vocal overdub. It’s 90 percent live and that was the intent.”

Regardless of the live nature of the recording, Nance said the band likely will only play four songs off the record when on stage. “We’re also doing covers and old ones,” he said.

Those live shows used to be a mixed bag. I remember seeing Nance play a few years ago, possibly at Reverb or O’Leaver’s, where the set consisted of a half-hour of drone and feedback with a slight pause in the middle. On the other hand, recent shows, including at this year’s Maha Music Festival, have been relatively straight-forward, focused on selections from his latest albums but always climaxing with him and Schroeder trying to kill each other with feedback.

“I love the way it sounds when we’ve played recently” Nance said. “It’s been really present and in the moment – lots of uncalculated things happened. It’s been deep; I get a deep feeling coming away from it.”

One recent notable gig was opening for Jack White at ONEOK Field in Tulsa (Home of the Drillers) Sept. 17. “I never thought something like that would happen,” Nance said. “Someone from Jack’s team called and asked if we could play Shreveport and Tulsa. I said we already had a gig for the first night but would love to do the Tulsa show. We didn’t hear anything back. I wrote him three days before the show to see if it was still happening and they said ‘sure.'”

Nance said they got the gig thanks to someone who works at White’s Third Man Records who’s a fan of his band. “This guy emailed and we talked back and forth about records we like,” Nance said. “I found out later that he’s the guy running the show with Jack.”

Nance said he only spent a few moments with White in Tulsa. “We were all back stage and they just showed up in a van, got out and 20 seconds later were playing on stage,” Nance said. “As they were leaving the stage, Jack said thanks for playing and apologized for forgetting to say our band’s name from stage. It was insane.”

Old connections also helped land a new label. It was Nance’s history playing with Brimstone Howl that got him in front of Trouble in Mind Records. “I met Bill and Lisa (Roe, the label’s proprietors) through Brimstone,” he said. “When we went through Chicago we stayed with them. I love their label, they put out my favorite current stuff. Years ago they said if you ever want to do a record, we’d be more than happy to release it.”

Connections over the years also helped Nance book his upcoming tour on his own. Nance and his band (Schroeder, Donahue and Sarah Bohling of Thick Paint on bass) start out in St. Louis Oct. 24 for a 22-date tour that takes them south and east, back through The Waiting Room Nov. 13 before ending Nov. 16 in Chicago. Next March they’re headed back to Europe, followed by shows in Australia with indie-punk act Thigh Master.

“I worked at Coachella cooking pad thai and that funded my first tour,” Nance said. “I’ve been booking things myself for awhile. It works out pretty well. I’ve been connected through the underground to a lot of great people doing great stuff.”

Nance said he looks at music as “another part-time job. I would love to do it full-time, but I don’t know if that’s possible. I’m lucky to have the ability to do what I do, book shit myself and come home with enough money for rent. I’ve had opportunities to meet people and see great bands.

“I just want to keep doing it. It feeds my soul. I feel whole doing it. I always go in assuming no one’s going to like anything and nothing’s going to happen, so I’m pleasantly surprised.”

David Nance plays with Closeness Friday, Oct. 12 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Tickets are $8, showtime is 9 p.m. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com

Note: This story also appears online at The Reader website.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with Soccer Mommy (at Reverb Sunday); Lord Huron, Cut Worms tonight (SOLD OUT)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:00 pm October 3, 2018

Soccer Mommy plays at Reverb Sunday, Oct. 7.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Soccer Mommy is Sophie Allison, a Nashville singer/songwriter influenced by the likes of pop stars Avril Lavigne and Taylor Swift, though her music is more easily filed alongside fellow indie singer/songwriter projects Mitski, Waxahatchee and Big Thief.

In fact, on her 2018 Fat Possum release, Clean, Allison’s style and voice are reminiscent of ’80s folkie Edie Brickell, and I’d throw early Liz Phair in there as well (someone Allison has opened for recently) except lyrically Allison’s songs are more longing and withdrawn than Phair’s Exile-era, jaded, take-it-or-leave-it love rants.

Instead, Allison often comes off lost or left-behind, as if watching as her lover hits on someone else at a party she wasn’t invited to in the first place. Even on indie radio hit “Your Dog,” the modern anti-thesis of the Stooges’ tune, Allison sounds worn out rather than angry. Clean is, indeed, a beauty of a record, but I’m waiting for when Allison’s had enough and returns as a mad-as-hell reincarnation of early PJ Harvey.

We caught up with Allison and asked her to take our Ten Questions survey:

1. What is your favorite album?

Sophie Allison: It’s hard to pick just one! One of my favorites that I’ve returned to this week is Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco. It’s a popular choice for a reason!

2. What is your least favorite song?

I really don’t like that F-R-I-E-N-D-S song that is on the radio right now. I don’t know who it’s by, but I hear it all the time. (“FRIENDS” by Marshmello & Anne-Marie — Tim).

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

I like getting to share experiences of traveling and playing music with other people, especially since I really like the guys I tour with.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Sharing the bathroom in a hotel is pretty much the worst part. It can be a battle in the mornings!

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Right now I’m going to just say Malibu so we can keep it user friendly.

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

I always love playing in New York and Boston. I feel comfortable with both of those cities since I lived in NY and my sister lived in Boston and it’s always just a fun time.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Probably Liverpool. We showed up right before the set because we missed the ferry and it was just an odd vibe after that.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

I can at least sort of support myself at this point. I don’t really have another choice since I’m always on the road. It took at least half a year to be able to not be struggling to make it through tours, but sometimes we still struggle through it a bit.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do? 

I don’t really think I’d like to do anything else. I guess maybe I’d be a poet, but that’s basically what I do now. I’d hate to be an accountant or something like that.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

I haven’t really heard any to be honest! We played there once (with Jay Som and Stef Chura Sept. 12, 2017, at Reverb — Tim) and it seemed like a nice town, the show was pretty small though and not a ton of people came.

Soccer Mommy plays with Sasami Sunday, Oct. 7, at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Tickets are $12, showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com.

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Tonight Lord Huron headlines a sold out show at Sokol Auditorium. Opening is Brooklyn’s Cut Worms headed by Max Clarke, whose Jagjuwar release Hollow Ground earned a 7.2 rating from Pitchfork. 8 p.m. start time.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Is Lincoln Calling the next SXSW? (preview/interview with organizer Spencer Munson)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , — @ 12:46 pm September 11, 2018

Is Lincoln Calling the next SXSW?

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Here’s the nut graph to my Lincoln Calling preview article in the current issue of The Reader:

With more than 70 national, regional and local acts, Lincoln Calling has the makings of the first Nebraska-based festival with a vibe that could be compared to the early days of Austin’s South By Southwest Festival.

Yeah I know, a bold statement, but when you look at the line-up of up-and-comers, there’s no question that Lincoln Calling is the most cutting-edge of local music festivals.

Lincoln Calling organizer Spencer Munson talks about how he and his team booked the bands, the schedules and the non-music activities, as well as how he’s made this year’s event as relevant as last year’s while having access to a much smaller overall budget.

You can read the article online right here at The Reader website or in the September issue, which is on newsstands now.

The full Lincoln Calling venue schedules finally have been uploaded to the Lincoln Calling website. Here’s each day:

If you’re only driving down for one day, Friday is likely the sweet spot, with Parquet Courts, Criteria, Ron Gallo, Nude Party, Fantastic Negrito and Stephen Sheehan among the choices. That said, Thursday’s and Saturday’s lineups are nothing to sneeze at. Full ticket/schedule info at www.lincolncalling.com.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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The return of John Klemmensen; Son Ambulance, Oquoa, English Beat tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:15 pm July 12, 2018

John Klemmensen and the Party at Reverb, May 1, 2015. Klemmensen returns to the stage tomorrow night (Friday) at O’Leaver’s as a member of The Candy Boys.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Hard to believe it was more than three years ago — May 1, 2015, to be exact — that John Klemmensen & The Party hosted their album release show for the LP Party All Night at Reverb Lounge.

The album was a career benchmark for Klemmensen, who had been performing music for more than 20 years both solo, with The Party and in a slew of bands, the most recent having been Landing on the Moon.

But shortly after that album release show, Klemmensen’s world unraveled. Among the lows was when Klemmensen stole a King Kong poster from a King King fast-food restaurant wearing a panda hat — an act that got broadcast on Crimestoppers. It was just part of a downward spiral.

“The underlying story was depression, massive prolonged intake of HARD drugs, overall bad decision making. A lot of self-sabotage, basically,” Klemmensen said.

“I never planned on taking such a long hiatus, but getting myself out of the trouble I had caused myself took some time,” he said.  “I’m still working on being human.”

And among the best parts of his humanity is his music. Klemmensen will return to the stage tomorrow night (Friday) at fabulous O’Leaver’s fronting a new rock band called The Candy Boys. The band consists of Vern Fergesen on bass, Daniel Dean Leonard on drums, and Klemmensen on guitar and vocals.

Klemmensen said it’s “a little more sloppy and loud (on purpose) than ‘the Party.’ I think it’s closer to where I came from, like Reset or Revilo (although I wasn’t in Revilo).”

Tomorrow night’s set will focus on all new music, a reflection of Klemmensen’s new life. “I’m better now,” he said. “Weed, ice cream maybe an occasional shot of whiskey. I’m a good boy now.”

The Candy Boys play tomorrow night (Friday) at O’Leaver’s with Columbus/Omaha punk/folk act Not Funny.

* * *

OK, but what’s going on tonight at O’Leaver’s? Just another stacked bill. Headlining is Oquoa (Max Holmquist and the boys) with Saddle Creek Records band Son, Ambulance. Joining them is Denton, Texas act Claire Morales, whose new record All That’s Wanting, was released June 29. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, The English Beat, who probably plays more often in Omaha than in their origin city of Birmingham, England, returns to The Slowdown. The Bishops open at 8 p.m. $28.

* * *

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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

That Saddle Creek at 25 story you may have missed…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:49 pm June 28, 2018

Saddle Creek Record’s Benson offices circa sometime in the early 2000s…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

There’s been a bit of a lull in music news lately. It’s the end of the month, it’s summer, it’s Omaha.

That being the case, I’m taking this opportunity to post that Saddle Creek at 50 cover story I wrote for the June issue of The Reader. You may already have read it, I know. This is being posted more for posterity’s sake and to ensure there’s always a version online should something unsavory happen to The Reader‘s website. Because Lazy-i is forever….

I promised out-takes from these interviews, but I haven’t had time to put them together. I will eventually (or I’ll use them for other stories). In the meantime, here’s the story, which is also in the current issue of The Reader. Pick up your copy today before the August issue hits the stands…

Saddle Creek at 25
The label that defined indie cool over a decade ago is suddenly cool again.

by Tim McMahan

It was sometime in 1993 when a group of guys pulled their resources together and released a cassette tape by a 13-year-old boy named Conor Oberst. That cassette, titled Water, was the first release on Lumberjack Records, catalog number LBJ-01.

Earlier this year catalog number LBJ-270, the debut album by Stef Chura called Messes, was released on CD, LP, tape and digital by Saddle Creek Records, the company that Lumberjack Records became. The label’s name isn’t the only thing that’s changed over the past 25 years.

Just ask the Saddle Creek founder Robb Nansel. “What’s changed since we started? Everything.”

Nansel reminisced about days gone by and days ahead alongside Amber Carew, the label’s new A&R representative, over beers at The Trap Room, a small bar he co-owns along with music club The Slowdown, which sits about 30 feet south of us.

Like all independent record labels, Lumberjack/Saddle Creek started as a business run out of a bedroom. “At the time, it was very day-to-day, you know?” Nansel said of the early years. “Our concern was ‘How are we gonna put out this Norman Bailer record?’ When I had to write the business plan for an entrepreneurship class, the goal was to sell 10,000 copies of a record. That was the definition of success.”

It would take years for the label to hit that goal. Nansel said he considers the first “real” Saddle Creek release to be LBJ-19 — Bright Eyes — A Collection of Songs Written and Recorded 1995-1997 — which came out in 1998 and was the first Saddle Creek album distributed outside the area.

“Everything before that was just consignment around town — make a hundred copies of a cassette or seven inches or whatever, take them to Homer’s and The Antiquarium and call it a day,” he said.

By 2005, Saddle Creek Records had become one of the most respected and well-known small independent record labels in the country, thanks to the success of its crown-jewel acts — Bright Eyes, The Faint and Cursive. Nansel points to that period as the label’s most successful era in terms of national exposure and record sales, with all three bands releasing albums that sold more than 100,000 copies.

“That was when reporters were flying in from all around the world to write stories about what’s in the drinking water,” Nansel said, “and when Dave Sink told me not to fuck up Omaha.” Sink, the owner/operator of the late, great Antiquarium Record Store, was revered among local musicians.

“He said ‘You’re gonna ruin this town; it’s going to turn into the next Seattle,’ and I said no it’s not. We have a small label, and that’s it. There’s no venues in town, there’s no other record labels. It’s hard to have that much of an impact on a city.”

Nansel knew all the national attention wouldn’t last. “Everything’s cyclical,” he said. “Scenes happen all over the world. It just so happened that people had their microscope on Omaha then. I knew they’d move their microscope somewhere else soon enough.”

But by the time the national spotlight had shifted away from Saddle Creek, the label had built  new offices in the so-called “Lo-Do” area of Omaha above what would become The Slowdown. The staff had grown to seven, including primary partner Jason Kulbel, who had originally come to Omaha to run a nightclub. Meanwhile, the roster of artists had ballooned to well over a dozen. As the label was entering its next chapter, Saddle Creek faced a number of new challenges.

In 2008, Conor Oberst signed to Merge Records, while The Faint started its own record label, Blank.Wav. And for the first time, Saddle Creek had turned its attention away from Omaha and began signing bands that had no real local connection— acts like Tokyo Police Club and Two Gallants and Canadian acts like The Rural Alberta Advantage and Land of Talk. It was a dramatic departure from the early days when Saddle Creek only signed bands that either came from Omaha or were friends of bands already on the label.

At the same time, Saddle Creek finally began to feel the impact of technology that had been ravaging the music industry for years.

Until then, the internet had been the label’s best friend. “It was so important for our growth,” Nansel said. “It allowed Saddle Creek to exist on a national level. When the major labels were yelling ‘The sky is falling,’ our business was growing. They were seeing the massive catalog sales that they’d had for decades plummet. We didn’t have a catalog, so all we saw was growth. There was a point when Saddle Creek could put out anybody’s record, and it would sell at least 5,000 copies,” Nansel said.

Fast forward just a few years and “we were putting out records that were selling like 150 copies,” Nansel said. “This was what everyone had been talking about when they said (the internet) was going to ruin the industry.”

It was a problem no one at the label had an answer for. Instead, Nansel and his staff simply put their heads down and kept going.

“We always felt that solving the music industry’s problem was not something that we as Saddle Creek were going to be able to do,” Nansel said. “That was going to be figured out by tech companies and major labels. All we could do was find bands we were passionate about and work with them and hope everything sorted itself out in time.”

Part of the answer for small independent labels like Saddle Creek has been banding together to create trade organizations that can compete with major labels for the attention of massive tech giants like Apple and Spotify, who now control the industry. The American Association of Independent Music (or A2IM) and global rights agency Merlin Network are two primary examples.

“If Saddle Creek goes up against Apple and tries to get a better deal, Apple tells Saddle Creek to fuck off,” Nansel said. “But if Merlin goes to them representing Beggars Group and Matador and 4AD and hundreds and hundreds of independent labels, then they can get a seat at the table. In a sense, Merlin and A2IM are pushing things forward on behalf of the independent label community.”

While signing those non-Omaha-related acts, Saddle Creek continued to release albums from old favorites like Cursive, The Good Life and Azure Ray while signing locals and friends like Icky Blossoms, Twinsmith and pals Big Harp. Nansel said despite new struggles to generate income via music sales, the label never signed an act with the intent of striking it rich.

“I guess I’d be naive to say that (album sales) are completely not in my mind,” he said. “There might be some super-aggressive weird punk record that I love, but then realize we can’t do anything with it. We wouldn’t be doing them a service by working with them. It would be a disastrous relationship. But I don’t think we’ve ever signed something because we thought it would sell. We have to like it first and figure out if it’s a good partnership.”

Has making money ever been a motivation?

“No,” Nansel said. “I think that’s boring. You have to work with these people every day. Imagine having to work with a band that you don’t like. You might make money, but that doesn’t sound very fun.”

Sticking with that philosophy would eventually pay off. In October 2014, Saddle Creek signed Philly band Hop Along. The folk-rock four-piece fronted by singer/songwriter Frances Quinlan hit pay dirt with its third full-length, Painted Shut, released in May of the following year. Songs like album opener “The Knock” and “Well-dressed” earned millions of Spotify plays, while publications like AllMusic.com called Quinlan “among the most captivating rock singers of her generation.”

Next Saddle Creek signed Brooklyn band Big Thief in February 2016. The four-piece, fronted by Adrianne Lenker, saw its debut, Masterpiece, released in May 2016 to a hail of critical huzzahs, but it was the follow-up, Capacity, released in June 2017, that really caught fire, making it onto a number of national critics’ annual top-10 lists. The infectious single “Shark Smile” would gain heavy rotation on nationally broadcasted (via satellite) radio station Sirius XMU.

Brooklyn singer/songwriter Sam Evian (a.k.a. Sam Owens) would come next in June 2016 and in March 2017, Saddle Creek launched its “Document” singles series that featured unreleased music from artists outside the Saddle Creek roster, starting with bands Posse, Palehound, Hand Habits and Wilder Maker.

The label was entering a third life that included opening a satellite office in Los Angeles’ Eagle Rock neighborhood with new-hire Amber Carew, the label’s first-ever A&R representative responsible for talent scouting and artist development. One of Carew’s first run-ins with Saddle Creek was when the label signed Sam Evian out from under her while she was employed at label Anti- Records.

“At the time I was like ‘Saddle Creek? I didn’t know they were still doing stuff,'” Carew said. “I was in my own bubble. Then I looked at the label and realized that Saddle Creek was putting out records I like and doing new things.”

Carew’s first signing for Saddle Creek, Detroit singer/songwriter Stef Chura, who joined the label last November and whose debut album, Messes, was re-released by Saddle Creek in February, said she was familiar with the label in high school because of Bright Eyes, who she counts as an influence.

“When (the signing) was announced, I got a lot of ‘They’re still a label?’ questions and asked if I was going to meet Conor Oberst,” Chura said. “I love a lot of their stuff, new and old; I love what they’re doing now. There are separate eras (of the label) that are attracting different audiences. They’ve always signed artists with a lot of integrity, really good songwriters. It’s a big compliment to be on the label.”

At around the same time Chura joined Saddle Creek, the label signed Chicago rockers Young Jesus, whose debut, titled S/T, they re-released in February. The album is a departure for the label, with tracks that range from six minutes to over 12 minutes, jangly noise collages and epic jams that could be filed under “experimental.” Far from a commercially influenced acquisition.

“We’re not playing the analytics game,” Nansel said. “We’re not seeing who’s got a bunch of followers on Facebook.”

“If that were the case, we would have never signed Young Jesus,” Carew adds, “or Stef. I’ve made a concerted effort to talk about the new era of Saddle Creek. When I talk to new bands, I ask them if they want to be part of it.”

Nansel said plans call for doubling the number of releases the label puts out next year. He discussed new acts that Saddle Creek is either about to sign or announce (including an Omaha band), many of which will be unknown to most fans. “They’re not even necessarily known within their communities,” he said. “They’re just brand new bands. The goal is to give people their first shot at putting out a record. It’s hard to build a band from the ground up. It’s fun. It’s the most rewarding thing possible.”

So how does a label like Saddle Creek judge success in 2018? “It’s all about streams,” Nansel said. “It’s not really about physical sales anymore. I mean, that’s an important piece of it for us and our fan base. We still like to sell records, but the number of streams is the barometer of success — how many people are listening to your band online.”

And while getting your artists’ songs added to a Spotify curated playlist is a boon, Nansel said the key is for listeners to add albums and artists to their personal lists. “That’s how you retain that listener,” he said.

Streaming also is what pays the bills these days, specifically with checks from Spotify and Apple Music. “Those two primarily,” Nansel said. “Pandora and YouTube not so much. It’s like real money now. Our Spotify check is our biggest check every month; they’re bigger than ADA, our (physical) distributors.”

Good thing, too, because the label has a lot of mouths to feed. Nansel said the staff is the largest it’s ever been with the addition of Marketing Director Katie Nowak, who literally joined the label the day of this interview. Nowak, a New Yorker, will be joining the Los Angeles staff. The Omaha staff consists of C.J. Olson, radio/project management; Jadon Ulrich, art director; Jeff Tafolla, licensing, and Sarah Murray, retail/distribution. Nate Welker, digital marketing, lives in Seattle. Jason Kulbel, who manages Slowdown and other properties, stepped away from the label years ago.

Why does the Saddle Creek bother to keep an Omaha presence? Nansel, who’s lived in LA for nearly four years, points to the staff who live here. “I have a lot of roots in Omaha,” he said. “It’s an important place to me.”

Nansel, who turns 43 this year, never thought he’d still be running the label 25 years after releasing that Water cassette.

“That’s because I’m not a planner in that way,” he said. “I never saw myself doing anything else, either. People kept making music. We kept caring about it. We kept having opportunities to do stuff with it. As long as that happens, why would we stop?”

First published in The Reader, June 2018. Copyright © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

* * *

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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with Sunflower Bean (at Reverb 6/25); Whipkey tonight; Eric in Outerspace Saturday; Bambara Sunday…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:00 pm June 22, 2018

Sunflower Bean plays Reverb Monday, June 25.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Few bands have taken indie stardom by storm quite like Brooklyn’s Sunflower Bean. The trio of Nick Kivlen (lead guitar and vocals), Jacob Faber (drums) and Julia Cumming (bass and lead vocals) exploded onto the scene with the critically lauded Human Ceremony (2016, Fat Possum), a compilation of songs the trio wrote while still in their teens.

Their new maturity is apparent on Twentytwo in Blue (2018, Mom + Pop), released this past March. The band takes on a more rock-fueled tone while Cumming, who handles the lion’s share of vocals, comes off like a modern-day Harriet Wheeler but without the acoustic lilt of The Sundays.

I caught up with the band and gave them the Ten Questions treatment. Here’s what they had to say:

1. What is your favorite album?

Julia Cumming: Transformer – Lou Reed

2. What is your least favorite song?

Cumming: Anything by the Chainsmokers.

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Cumming: It’s a dream come true. I love being on a team with people I trust and care about, and making art with them. We get to travel the world, and no show we play is the same as any other. Each show has improvisation and is kept super live so that we can create these special moments every night. Creating those moments is the best part of being in a band.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Nick Kivlen: There’s nothing we really hate about being in a band but sometimes when you’re on a 4-week tour you really start missing your own bed.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Kivlen: Coffee

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

Jacob Faber: NYC will forever be the best.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Faber: Not sure of the worst gig but one that stands out is when we played a frat house and fight broke out and everyone went to watch the fight instead of our show.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

Faber: We are lucky enough that we can support ourselves through music, nothing is ever guaranteed, but we work really hard and are able to do it full time.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

Faber: Would love to be a traveling food critic; would hate to be a car salesman.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

Faber: All I know about Omaha is that Nick’s old dog, Casey, was from Omaha and he was a great guy RIP.

Sunflower Bean plays with Public Access T.V. Monday, June 25, at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Showtime is 8 p.m., tickets are $12 Adv./$14 DOS. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com.

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OK, but what about this weekend?

Tonight Matt Whipkey is playing a free show at Harney Street Tavern. Whipkey has grabbed some national attention lately when his cover of The Beatles’ “Drive My Car,” which appears on his new album Driver, was played on both Little Steven’s Underground Garage and Breakfast with the Beatles, a show hosted by Chris Carter, founding member of Dramarama. Both shows are on Sirius XM satellite radio. Driver also received a positive nod from roots music journal No Depression. See what the buzz is about starting at 9 p.m.

Also tonight (Friday) Denver’s Slow Caves (Old Flame Records) plays at O’Leaver’s with Ojai and Win/Win. $7, 10 p.m.

Saturday night Eric in Outerspace celebrates the release of their new album Later Days at Brothers Lounge. Joining them are Chicago’s The Sueves and The Cassowaries (Andrew Gustafson). $5, 9 p.m.

Also Saturday night Montee Men opens for Jump the Tiger at O’Leaver’s. Living Conditions kicks it off at 10 p.m. $5.

A busy weekend for O’Leaver’s ends with a special Sunday matinee featuring Brooklyn’s Bambara (Wharfcat Records). FiFi NoNo and The Show Is the Rainbow opens at 6 p.m. $5.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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