Ten Questions with Bad Bad Hats (with And How at Reverb 9/22)…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 7:17 am September 21, 2021

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Bad Bad Hats play at Reverb Lounge Wednesday, Sept. 22.

This is the first Ten Questions interview since before the pandemic! Green shoots? Maybe.

Minnesota band Bad Bad Hats are no strangers to Omaha, having opened for The Mynabirds at Slowdown back in 2015 (alongside the lost-but-not-forgotten High Up). They’re back in support of their new album, Walkman, which dropped last Friday on Don Giovanni Records.

The power-pop trio has a soft spot for jangly, cool ‘90s indie rock. In fact, my first run through the album I was reminded of Exile-era Liz Phair, though front woman Kerry Alexander’s lyrics of love gone wrong (and right) aren’t nearly as dark and acerbic as Liz’s bedroom diaries. Playing alongside bandmates bass player Chris Hoge and drummer Connor Davison, Bad Bad Hats headlines at Reverb Lounge Sept. 22.

We caught up with Kerry and gave her the Ten Questions treatment. Here’s what she had to say:

  1. What is your favorite album?

Kerry Alexander: Wow, tough question from the start! How to choose, how to choose. Obviously different albums have been my #1 at different points in my life. But one I always come back to is Fortress Round My Heart by Ida Maria. 

  1. What is your least favorite song?

I, in general, don’t believe in “guilty pleasures” in music, or that certain genres aren’t good, etc. I feel like if music is making you feel an emotion then it’s working as intended. That said, I don’t love “Boogie Shoes.” 

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

There are many things to love, but I like that it’s allowed me to travel so much. I love experiencing new places, trying new food, seeing friends who live far away. I also love the synergy of playing music with other people. When you’ve practiced and you’re on your game and you anticipate each other’s moves. It’s a very special bond. 

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

Rock venue bathrooms. 

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

My lack of illegal substance use is well-documented (see our song “Nothing Gets Me High”). So I guess I’ll say, I like emotional substance. Deep conversations. Sincere feelings. Haha! That’s pretty corny, but I’m sticking with it.

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

This question is always so hard to answer because we love playing in so many different cities and venues. We love Chicago, we love Madison, we love Portland, we love Charlotte, we obviously always love the hometown gig. And I know this is an Omaha publication, so not to pander, but we do have so many great Omaha show memories. It’s always a good crowd, Reverb Lounge is an amazing venue, and it doesn’t hurt that we can get some Coneflower ice cream before we leave town…!

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

Well we try to block those shows from our memory, but we’ve probably played the worst shows in the Twin Cities. Because that’s where we got our start! And we needed some time to get good at our instruments and our flow and our stage presence. And we’re grateful that folks stuck with us while we figured it out. Being a musician is a constant learning experience for me. But that’s what I like about it!

  1. 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 are professional musicians, yes. And that feels good to say! Because it took us about 6 to 7 years of being a band before we could say that. Chris, our bass player, accidentally became a full-time musician when his part-time job told him he couldn’t come back after a tour. Haha! So sometimes you just have to make it work. 

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

I would love to work in music supervision. That sounds fun! Maybe? I don’t actually know what that job entails. But I like the idea of it. Is there anything better than a perfectly soundtracked movie or TV moment? I would be in trouble in any job where I have to drive a giant vehicle. Keep me away from that.

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

I don’t know if anyone’s told me a story about Omaha. I went there the first time with no preconceived notions. I only know my own Omaha story. Which is: Show up to the venue. Load in and soundcheck. Go get some delicious ramen. Grab a beer at the beautiful Reverb Lounge bar. Play a great show. Talk to a bunch of friendly people at the merch table. Go to sleep. Wake up the next day and have Archetype coffee and Coneflower for breakfast. And what a wonderful story it is!

Bad Bad Hats play with And How on Wednesday, Sept. 22, at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Digital Leather (sort of belated) album release show Saturday at The Sydney…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:01 pm June 25, 2021
Shawn Foree of Digital Leather. Photo by Ben Vanhoolandt.

It feels like the following story on Digital Leather, published in The Reader last August during the height of the pandemic, was written 10 years ago. Some of Shawn Foree’s predictions about post-COVID gigging came true — some clubs did close permanently, some bands did break up for good. But the one about new regulations post-COVID seems to be a miss. More and more, it’s beginning to feel like the pandemic never happened.

That said, we’re still not “fully back” in Omaha, and the live music calendar reflects that. Touring is only now just getting off the ground again, and a lot of local bands are still getting back in performance-shape and aren’t ready to return to the stage.

That said, it’s good to see Digital Leather is playing Saturday night at The Sydney. I have no idea who will be in Foree’s band for this gig or if he’ll be playing songs from his most recent release, New Wave Gold (No Coast, 2020). So much time has passed, Foree has likely already shelved those songs for new material, he’s such a fast (and prolific) song writer.

For those of you who missed it, here’s that Digital Leather article again, written in support of the new album, released when we were all hidden in our bunkers. DJ WAffLEZ also is on Saturday night’s bill at The Sydney. Show starts at 9 p.m., tickets are $10. It’s the only show I have on my calendar this weekend.

Digital Leather in the Days of COVID
The Omaha electro-punk act celebrates 20 years with its 24th album.

Aug. 13, 2020 — Prior to the interview for this column, the last time I spoke with Shawn Foree, the mastermind behind the musical project Digital Leather, was a couple years ago. It was late in the evening standing outside the patio door at mid-town punk club O’Leaver’s, no doubt killing time between live sets from a couple local garage bands we both knew.

Foree, who looked like an unholy cross between Jim Morrison and Deliverance-era Burt Reynolds, told me he was about to hang it up as far as Digital Leather was concerned. He’d just turned 40 and was tired of banging his head against the music industry wall, trying to get someone to notice what he was doing. And it sure didn’t look like things would ever change.

The conversation bummed me out, because Foree / Digital Leather was and is my favorite Omaha-based music project. The only person more frustrated by his music never receiving the attention it deserved was me. Digital Leather music is the perfect amalgamation of modern songwriting, instrumentation and vintage digital sounds. The product is highly addictive, darkly worded 21st Century synth-punk that can stand alongside music by acts like Gary Numan, Psychic TV and The Faint.

As it turned out, Foree was just in a bad mood that night at O’Leaver’s. “Don’t believe me when I say I’ve given up,” he said over the phone July 21. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again.”

In fact, only a few months after that announced retirement, Digital Leather recorded and released a new album, followed by another and another.

And now comes New Wave Gold, out Sept. 15 on Madison, Wisconsin, label No Coast Records (Thee Oh Sees, Red Mass, The Hussy). The 16-track collection is the 24th full-length album (in addition to 13 EPs and singles) released by Digital Leather over the 20 years Foree has made music under that moniker.

Digital Leather fans will be happy to know New Wave Gold is the most cohesive, pop-fueled collection Foree has released since 2009’s Warm Brother (Fat Possum Records). He recorded and mixed the album in his apartment studio with contributions by drummer Jeff Lambelet and mastering by sound engineer Ian Aeillo.

The album opens with the first COVID-19 quarantine-inspired song I’ve heard, “Dark Ages,” which closes with the lines: “Don’t you go and worry about me, baby / You got better things to think about, I’m sure / Honey, don’t you know these are the Dark Ages / Disease is in the air, and it’s pure.”

Foree is the only person I’ve talked to who’s tested positive for COVID-19. “I tested positive a month and a half ago,” he said. “I was asymptomatic. It was a little freaky. I wasn’t sure if I was going to become sick, but fortunately, I was OK, maybe a little tired. I tested again a couple weeks after, and it came back negative.”

His day job doing environmental testing, which he’s kept throughout the pandemic, takes him all over the country. “I was floating around South Dakota, Missouri, all around red states, so it could have come from anywhere,” he said. “It was a positive test, but none of my friends had it, just me. So I don’t know if I really had it.”

With COVID-19 shutting down music venues and making touring impossible, it’s a strange time to release a new album. Foree, who has released more than an album a year on average, didn’t want to wait around for the world to reopen. “The record was done,” he said. “I showed it to Bobby (Hussy), who runs the record label, and we just said fuck it and put it out so I can move on to new material.”

To help market the release, Foree is working with national publicist Grandstand Media, whose massive client roster includes acts like Tame Impala, Waxahatchee, Soccer Mommy, Bright Eyes and Kim Gordon, to name a few. “It’s totally new ground for me, selling records without playing live,” Foree said. “If we can make our money back, that would be fine. Making a profit is not on my or the label’s to do list.”

Foree also is the first musician I’ve interviewed since COVID-19 began. The pandemic has had a huge impact on his music world. “All my friends want to play shows and are depressed, because it’s not only their livelihood, it’s part of their sanity. It’s part of who they are,” he said. “I have friends who were about to release records, go on tour, go to Europe, and now it’s all TBD. I think everyone is pretty fucking depressed about it.”

Even after the pandemic is under control, he said things won’t be the same. “There will be all kinds of new regulations; it’ll be weird,” Foree said. “A lot of people won’t want to go out to shows. Venues might close. How are they going to support themselves if they can’t do business? The same goes for musicians who live off their music.”
Foree isn’t one of those, not anymore. He’s managed to find a balance between making a living and making music, and has accepted the fact that, despite having toured the country and releasing albums on a dozen different record labels, he may never make it to “the next level.”

“Part of me is frustrated that I don’t have a larger audience, but I’m also kind of glad things are the way they are,” he said. “I see the silver lining. I have freedom to do what I want. You’re supposed to give it up at 30 and get a real job once you realize there’s no money in it. Well, I have a real job and can still do it, so fuck them all.”

First published in The Reader, September 2020. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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The return of Bright Eyes: Conor Oberst on the new album, COVID-19 and the good ol’ days (in the column)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:30 pm September 10, 2020
Bright Eyes circa 2020 from left are Nate Walcott, Conor oberst and Mike Mogis.

In this month’s Over the Edge column in The Reader, an interview/feature on Bright Eyes wherein the fearless frontman Conor Oberst talks about the band’s new album, Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was (2020, Dead Oceans), how he’s coping with the pandemic and his love of the folks he played with during the good ol’ days when Omaha was the shining star of the indie music world.

You can read it in the current print edition of The Reader, on news stands now (I picked up my copy at Hy-Vee, but you can find them all over town). You also can read it online right here at The Reader‘s website.

Some background on the interview: It was conducted Aug. 19 over the phone with Oberst calling from his home here in Omaha. We spent most of the 30-some minutes talking about the COVID-19 pandemic and what he’s been doing since it started. It’s all well-covered in the article. Discussing the new album actually came as an afterthought toward the end of the interview.

Among the content that didn’t make it into the story were his thoughts on the actual making of the album. I asked what was the toughest part of putting it together. He said it was effortless for the three of them — Conor, Nate Walcott and Mike Mogis — to jump back in after nine years away from the project.

“As you know, all Bright Eyes records are kind of different,” he said. “There’s different players, and so it was exciting to get to work with, like, Jon Theodore (of Queens of the Stone Age), Flea (of Red Hot Chili Peppers), and people that we had never worked with before. So I can’t really pinpoint something that was like really hard. As with all the records, you don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s a little bit of mystery and there’s a little bit of excitement, but that was stuff I love. I never thought that it’d be, like, Flea doing a slap-bass thing on a Bright Eyes record in my life, but it sounds cool when he does it.”

Check out the article here. I’ll also post it on this website in a few days…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Ten Questions with Nap Eyes (at The Waiting Room March 15)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , — @ 1:22 pm March 12, 2020

Nap Eyes plays at The Waiting Room Sunday, March 15.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The Halifax, Nova Scotia, four-piece Nap Eyes, fronted by singer/songwriter Nigel Chapman, has been playing its brand of laid-back indie since 2011. Their PR folks compare them to Silver Jews and Daniel Johnston, “but the new sheen and maturity also now brings to mind the wide-angle appeal of The Jayhawks and the addictive brightness of Green Day’s Kerplunk!

The Jayhawks I can see, Green Day not so much (and that’s a good thing). While their earlier releases were looser and more free-form (think Pavement meets Wilco), their latest, Snapshot of a Beginner, is a more-tightly produced collection of indie rockers. The band went to The National’s upstate New York Long Pond Studio and worked with producers Jonathan Low (Big Red Machine, The National) and James Elkington (Steve Gunn, Joan Shelley). The end result sports some of that National grandiosity, with a touch of new frontier drama brought back down to earth by Chapman’s nasal croon.

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

1. What is your favorite album?

Nap Eyes: Curtis Mayfield – Curtis

2. What is your least favorite song?

“A Man Needs A Maid”

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

Eating at restaurants.

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

Eating at bad restaurants.

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

Legal: silk. Illegal: lsd.

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

Boise, ID

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

Nanaimo, BC, because a guy grabbed the mic and started rapping (though perhaps this was also the best gig simultaneously because of this fact?)

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?

None of us have other jobs right now which is probably extremely short sighted. We just eat beans and rice and live monkish lifestyles.

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

Love to attempt: Ben and Jerry’s quality control. Hate to do: bathroom attendant at an all you can eat buffet.

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

Heard the water tastes like wine.

Nap Eyes plays with Destroyer Sunday, March 15, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Showtime is 8 p.m., tickets are $22. 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with PUP (March 4 at The Waiting Room)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:30 pm March 2, 2020

PUP plays at The Waiting Room March 4. Photo by Vanessa Heins.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

There is a long-form version of this story at thereader.com wherein I talk about the Over the Edge column and how I’m shifting its direction to become more interview-based. You can read that version right here.

Ten Questions with PUP

Toronto-based punk band PUP — the name an acronym created by frontman Stefan Babcock’s mother, who said playing in a rock band was a “Pathetic Use of Potential” — has been around since 2010, when they were called Topanga. They changed their name to PUP in 2013 with the release of their self-titled debut on Royal Mountain Records. They switched up to respected punk insignia Side One Dummy for their 2016 follow-up, The Dream Is Over. Much touring followed.

The four-piece quickly created a following for their explosive live performances and melodic (dare I say pop) punk equal parts scratchy confessional and fist-pump anthem that’s a call to arms for your typical suburban Canadian (and/or American) underdog. They’ve never been more powerful than on their latest, 2019’s Morbid Stuff (Rise Records), a collection of shout-along emo-punk nuggets.

With a gig slated for The Waiting Room March 4, I caught up with PUP guitarist Steve Sladkowski and gave him the Ten Questions treatment:

1. What is your favorite album?

Steve Sladkowski: It’s hard to pick one, but currently I’m enjoying just about anything that’s being released on the Sahel Sounds label based in Portland, Oregon, especially the album No. 1 by Etran de L’Aïr.

2. What is your least favorite song?

“Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey

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

I’ve been able to see the world and make friends in a way that seemed completely impossible prior to my life in PUP.  To be able to do that with three of my closest and best friends on the planet still feels a bit like a surreal dream.

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

As someone who is in their early 30s, it can get a bit tiresome to answer people’s (sometimes unintentionally) condescending questions about what I have devoted my life to; but otherwise, it’s tough to be away from our partners, loved ones and friends while we’re on the road. Like any job, there are tough days, but it’s something that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

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

Coffee first with bourbon a very, very close second.

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

It’s always fun to play at home in Toronto, but I love to explore new places, so really anywhere they’ll have us is a nice place to play.

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

Probably when I was in a jazz band in my early 20s, playing stuff like “Someday My Prince Will Come” to utterly disinterested audiences at weird suburban Southern Ontario wedding halls.

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 are!  It took… a long time, probably the entire course of two albums’ worth of writing, recording, rehearsing and touring ad nauseam. This is basically the case for every person I know who is able to eke out a living while playing music in a streaming world.

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

I’ve been very singularly minded toward music for basically the past 20 years, However, I’ve always found urban planning and public transportation fascinating.  We’ve been lucky to see a lot of cities and ride a lot of public transit, and it’s something I find myself reading more and more about both online and in books. I would absolutely hate to be a banker or any other profession that revels in bald-faced capitalism.

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

I heard the guitar player in PUP was suffering from the worst food poisoning of his life while onstage in Omaha in 2015.  He’s probably looking forward to having a nicer time exploring the city in 2020 when they visit!

PUP plays with Screaming Females and The Drew Thomson Foundation March 4 at The Waiting Room. Tickets are $20 Adv./$23 DOS. 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Criteria returns from the road (with voice in tact)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , — @ 2:00 pm February 5, 2020

Criteria performing at Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles Jan. 26, 2020.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

My chief concern about the two-week Criteria tour, which just wrapped up, was how frontman Stephen Pedersen’s voice would hold up to violently intense singing night after night. Judging by this video of the Jan. 26 show at The Teragram Ballroom in downtown Los Angeles, his voice held up just fine.

My other question was how well fans of headliners Cursive and Cloud Nothings would receive the band. Would anyone even remember Criteria, who haven’t toured in more than a decade?

“(There were) plenty of folks there to see Criteria in every city,” Pedersen said. “People showed up early! It was bizarrely good! By end of our set it was apparent that we made new fans each night. Super cool. I made myself available to folks after we played (by running merch) and it was shocking and humbling how many folks wanted to talk to/thank me/us for putting out a new record and going on tour.”

The new record in question is Years, released last month on Cursive’s 15 Passenger Records. Pedersen said the album debuted at No. 42 on the Billboard Alternative chart. “I have no idea what that means,” he added.

So with this tour’s success, will Pedersen step away from his lucrative day job and hit the road for a year-long tour?

“No dice,” he said. “I worked from the road fairly successfully. Long drives on the West Coast meant lots of time to get work done.”

But that doesn’t mean the band is going into hibernation, either.

“We’re processing next moves,” Pedersen said. “Maybe play a couple festivals. Maybe do some East Coast dates. We’ll see.”

It’s too late for Coachella, but there’s always South by Southwest and Lollapalooza!

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

InDreama returns with ‘Poison House;’ new album in the works; Friday night at Reverb…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , — @ 1:42 pm January 28, 2020

InDreama plays Friday night at Reverb Lounge.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The InDreama show at Reverb isn’t until Friday night but Nik Fackler let me know the band just dropped its first single in forever, called “Poison House.” Check it out. It’s four minutes of bouncy psych-rock candy with a drop of madness in the middle.

The band features Fackler on guitar and vocals, Aaron Gum, Dereck Higgins and new members Ryan Menchaca and super-guitarist Jacob Cubby Phillips.

“We (Aaron Gum and Higgins) enjoyed doing the one-show-a-year thing over the last five years,” Fackler said, “but over the last few year we really started to accumulate a lot of new songs. Then with the recent addition of Ryan Menchaca and Cubby, things really felt solid as a live band.”

For Fackler, whose known as much as a filmmaker as a musician, InDreama has become a creative escape. “It is nice to have a project that can be any genre and just be there for you when you want to just sit down one night and write a weird song without any mold it’s trying to fit in,” he said.

The itch to make new music began to build over the last few years of writing screenplays and preparing to shoot a new feature film. “I currently have three film projects in development (one finished, one in rewrites, and one still writing),” Fackler said. “The process of writing is so incredibly time consuming and you never really feel complete until the film is released, which could take years and years.”

He said he started getting depressed, feeling he hadn’t completed anything in a long time. His last finished project was a video for The Faint’s single “Child Asleep.”

“I needed to create something that I could finish and put out quickly to fill that hole,” Fackler said. “Then InDreama played our annual show and I thought., ‘This is it, it’s time to record an album.’ Music will always have that immediate quality about it.”

So the band spent a day at ARC Studio and is in the process of mixing tracks. “We are shooting for a full-length album,” Fackler said. “We are gonna record a few more tracks next week.  Some late blooms. The idea is to finish the album and release it, while slowly putting out a few singles here and there as we progress.”

All the while, the band will continue to do live shows.

“We are playing more shows to experiment with new ideas as we record and mix,” Fackler said.  “It’s also just great to be on the stage again and embracing the abandonment of reality.”

While I had Fackler’s attention, I asked about the future of his other band, Icky Blossoms. Their last album was 2015’s Mask, released on Saddle Creek Records. Vocalist/instrumentalist Sarah Bohling recently moved to Atlanta. So is the band on permanent hiatus?

“Icky, like Indreama, is hard to ever see ending,” Fackler said. “Derek (Pressnall), Sarah and I are so close that it is hard not to imagine us always working together.”

I asked Nik if Friday’s show is going to be a multi-media experience. “We plan to just rock out on Friday,” he said. “There is a good chance that I will bring in some LED lights. But, in all honesty, if you are on enough mind altering substances – when you see us, the likelihood of seeing things goes way up.”

Ah, Nik, some of us are just high on life.

InDreama plays with Minne Lussa and Glow in the Dark Friday, Jan. 31, at Reverb Lounge. $8, 9 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

See Through Dresses, Joy Division tribute, Seven Questions with Black Mountain (Slowdown tonight)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 10:49 am November 27, 2019

Black Mountain plays tonight at Slowdown Jr.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I don’t remember there being so many shows on the night before Thanksgiving. With (most) of us off work on turkey day, it makes sense (although who wants to be hungover at the family gathering? Everybody?).

Three shows are on my radar tonight:

Over at the Reverb Lounge, See Through Dresses returns with what I have to believe will be a set that includes a lot of new songs. Locals Hail Varsity opens at 9 p.m. $10.

Meanwhile, just around the corner at The Waiting Room, there’s a slew of tribute acts hitting the stage. Headlining is Control, a Joy Division tribute that features among its players guitarist Mike Saklar and bass player Randy Cotton. In fact, that duo will also be part of Stigmata Martyr, a Bauhaus tribute that comes on right before Control. The evening kicks off at 9 p.m. with 138, a Misfits tribute. $10.

Finally, down at Slowdown Jr. indie metal band Black Mountain headlines. Their new album, Destroyer, was released on Jagjaguwar, a label that’s been releasing their stuff since their self-titled debut back in 2005 — an album that’s still a regular on the ol’ stereo.

At the top of the mountain is Stephen McBean, who’s rock history goes back beyond his previous band, the more laid back Jerk with a Bomb, which merely hinted at the harder stuff to come. On Destroyer, McBean and Co. give us a modern take on Black Sabbath combined with something that’s a lot more funky. Check out “Boogie Lover” to hear what I’m talking about.

I tried getting McBean to do a 10 Questions survey but he wasn’t having it. Instead, here’s seven questions (sort of):

What is your favorite album?

Black Mountain’s Stephen McBean: Rudimentary Peni, Death Church

What is your least favorite song?

Thankfully, I can’t remember.

What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Playing music with humans & machines.

What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Oysters.

In what city or town do you love to perform?

The one I’m currently performing in.

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

I like the Philadelphia Flyers.

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

Camp Dump strike.

Opening for Black Mountain tonight is Ryler Walker. This is a Slowdown front room show; tickets are $20; showtime is 8 p.m.

Look for an update tomorrow.

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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

New venue The Berkley to feature local music, food; Wilco tonight…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , — @ 1:44 pm November 20, 2019

Future location of restaurant/music venue The Berkley.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The Berkley is a new live music venue / restaurant that’s opening in January at 1901 Leavenworth, the building that used to house Connections and is just a door down from where the first Milk Run was located, with Shuck’s on the opposite end.

It’s the brainchild of Amelia Drake and Deb Sauls. You might remember Amelia from the post-wave duo Drakes Hotel, a band that included her husband, Christopher Yanulis (and if you don’t, here’s a reminder from 2007).

Drake said she and Sauls are going full force on renovating the space, and at the same time, she’s figuring out the kind of music The Berkley will host.

“We’re looking for lower-decibel bands like singer-songwriter or small piece acts,” Drake said. “We are going to be a little different from other venues in town in that we are primarily a restaurant. So, musicians may find performing with us similar to playing a supper club. I’m hoping to attract talent that would be comfortable playing in a coffeehouse circa 1995.”

She’s working with local musician Virginia Kathryn Gallner to book bands. “She’s given me a formidable list of local acts to check out. I’m still making my way through them,” Drake said, adding that she only just moved back to Omaha in June. In addition, she’s reaching out to an Ohio connection who books national acts to try and piggyback on bands passing by Omaha.

Drake said The Berkley will only book music Friday and Saturday nights while it fine-tunes its service. It’ll also host youth acts on weekend days (likely Sunday) “to give young musicians an opportunity to cut their teeth on our stage.”

I think they’ll have no problem finding singer/songwriters to book, but I’m hoping they branch out to more acts like, well, Drakes Hotel. It’ll be interesting to see how the bookings evolve.

No doubt it’s a unique neighborhood to start a business. I remember parking being a bit of a challenge, but I’m told they’re reconfiguring the venue’s back lot for additional parking — who remembers that back lot when the Milk Run was in operation?

To keep track on The Berkley’s progress, follow them on Facebook, here.

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Tonight is the big Wilco show at The Orpheum Theatre. One assumes this is the type of concert Omaha Performing Arts intends to book in the proposed new $109 million music venue to be built next to the Holland.

That said, this show is far from sold out. Tickets were still available — including a ton of $45 balcony and $70 orchestra seats.

Tuomo & Markus, “a Helsinki Finland based musical group founded by renowned Finnish soul artist and jazz musician Tuomo Prättälä and singer/songwriter Markus Nordenstreng from Finnish rock band The Latebirds,” kicks things off at 7:30 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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Ten Questions with The Beths (at The Slowdown July 15)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 6:34 am July 11, 2019

The Beths play at The Slowdown July 15.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The Beths’ bandleader/singer/songwriter Elizabeth Stokes is an indie-rock firecracker who, along with her bandmates, creates hook-filled self-deprecating gems reminiscent of acts like ’90s heartbreakers That Dog., current-day dream wonders Alvvays, and fellow down-under-er Courtney Barnett (though Courtney’s from Australia while Stokes and Co. are from the land of hobbits, New Zealand).

Unlike Barnett, The Beths are still flying under the radar, which makes this upcoming Slowdown Jr. show a chance to see them before they become the inevitable festival-circuit darlings. Their new album, Future Me Hates Me (2019, Carpark Records) is, in a word, sublime — one of my favorite albums so far this year.

We caught up with Stokes and gave her the Ten Questions survey, of which she only answered nine, because, well, if you can’t say something nice…

What is your favorite album? 

This is unfair, just one? My favourite one for a long, long time was The Postal Service Give Up. I was 14 when it became my favourite record, I think that’s the age at which music just gets absorbed straight into your bloodstream and becomes a part of you. I love it with my whole heart.

What is your least favorite song?

What do you enjoy most about being in a band? 

I enjoy physically playing music with other people, connecting and locking in together. It feels different every time and it’s sometimes the easiest thing in the world and sometimes really difficult.

What do you hate about being in a band? 

Hate is a strong word. I’m not crazy about the ‘in the van’ element of touring (I know I’m not alone in this). I get a bit carsick and I can kind of feel my brain and body atrophying after spending hours and hours every day sitting in a vehicle. Holding out for teleportation here.

What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)? 

Chocolate. I wish it was something more original or interesting but that would be a lie. It is chocolate. It is easier to not eat chocolate in America because it tastes… strange? But in Europe and at home I purchase and consume chocolate almost every day, please someone help me; it’s not right.

In what city or town do you love to perform? 

This is so hard, so many amazing places I’d have to offend by not saying them. OK, I’m going to pick at random… Glasgow and Edinburgh (I know that’s two, but I don’t want to further divide them). Our shows there are just wild.

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

Auckland, New Zealand, a few years back. It was an opening party for the NZ Film Festival. We were playing as quiet as we could but were still way too loud for this party. People came down after watching this three-hour-long heavy film, and we just cranked into a 45-minute set. We were playing super self-consciously and people were trying to talk about this movie. This old guy yelled at us to stop, I thought maybe he was from the venue. Turns out he was just a super-rich patron of the festival who decided he’d had enough, so we finished the set and then I just cried in the equipment closet. I learned to never play apologetically and I know now we could play the same show and handle it a lot better.

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? 

Kind of. We have been touring basically non-stop for a year, and the touring kind of pays for itself now. And we’re just starting to earn a bit of money, I think by the time we get home in September we’ll have earned enough to hold us down for the period we’ll be back home writing and making the next record. When we’re home, Jon does studio work and live sound, Tristan is a freelance drummer. Ben and I are instrument teachers but might just fill the gap with whatever odd jobs we can find. NZ has some great funding bodies that have been very supportive and without whom we wouldn’t have been able to afford to tour at all. The NZ Music Commission helps with international touring, NZ On Air helps with recording and music videos.

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

I wish I was brave enough to have ever tried stand-up comedy. Or maybe writing would be something I wish I was good at. I think customer service or sales I’d find pretty rough. I grew up working in cafes and even in that job customers could make me cry pretty easily.

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

Nothing bad I promise! First thing that comes to mind is a line in ‘Rabbit Fur Coat’ by Jenny Lewis.

The Beths play with Girl Friday on Monday, July 15 at The Slowdown, . Tickets are $15. Showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to theslowdown.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.

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