Remembering Rilo Kiley 15 years later (#TBT from the Lazy-i vault); Deerhoof tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:46 pm August 4, 2016
Jenny Lewis with Rilo Kiley circa 2002.

Jenny Lewis with Rilo Kiley circa 2002.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Music blog UPROXX has a remembrance of sorts of Rilo Kiley on the band’s 15th anniversary. The writer goes through their catalog and has some nice comments about the sole Saddle Creek release in 2002, The Execution of All Things, which was something of a landmark for the label, its first real, non-Nebraska success. Rilo Kiley also would become the first band to to leave the label.

The details of their defection are interesting a decade later. This from Aug. 2, 2004, Lazy-i:

Rilo in the L.A. Times — Aug. 2, 2004

The LA Times published a story about Rilo Kiley yesterday with the headline “Leaving indie life behind — L.A.’s Rilo Kiley, with a new album on its own label and support from Warner Bros., believes its time has come.” Jenny Lewis lays out the logic behind jumping from Saddle Creek, saying essentially that they felt it was time for their big break, even if it costs them their creativity.

“I think we’re excited, but we’re a little nervous as well because we’ve been completely independent up until this point,” says Lewis, 28, in the LA Time article. “Once you start considering stockholders and the way these corporations are run, it isn’t necessarily in line with experimental music and continuing to do things in a totally organic way. But at the same time I feel like, you know, it’s been eight years for us, and if we’re not gonna do it now, then when? And I think we owe it to ourselves to continue to grow.”

Later, she explains that the band couldn’t get airplay on an indie label, which is absurd. “I think after making the record we started playing songs for our friends and we realized for the first time that [radio airplay] could possibly be an option, and I think that led to our decision in trying new things,” she said in the Times article. “With the shift that’s happening in music right now, where bands like Modest Mouse and Franz Ferdinand and all these rock bands are starting to get played on the radio again, it just seemed like the appropriate time.”

That’s kind of like saying that Creek bands are damned to only get airplay in college radio. She could have led the charge to help change that. Oh well, I’m sure there’s more to the story than this…— Aug. 2, 2004

There was.

Two years later I got a chance to ask Rilo Kiley drummer Jason Boesel about why the band strayed from Saddle Creek in this interview. Here’s an excerpt from the story from Sept. 22, 2004:

“We made this record with Saddle Creek and made it for Saddle Creek and figured it would come out on Saddle Creek,” (Boesel) said from his home in Los Angeles where the band is rehearsing for the upcoming tour. “Shortly after completing the record, we had some ideas and talked about them with Saddle Creek and discovered that we differed on a couple issues. Ultimately, we created our own record label to have total freedom over the record and the music.”

That, despite the fact that the CD was already in the can. Seems the disagreements between the band and Creek stemmed not from creative issues, but from what Boesel characterized as limitations inherent to indie record labels. Saddle Creek label manager Jason Kulbel said in last month’s issue of Alternative Press that one of the main differences was in how the two parties approached commercial radio. “Even if we had it, we are just not down with throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars at commercial radio so they will play our stuff,” Kulbel said in the AP article.

But Boesel said it was more than just the cost of doing business with commercial radio. “I don’t know if we’re throwing thousands down for commercial radio. That might be an exaggeration,” he said. “We didn’t want to put a ceiling on what we did.”…

“At some point, the hope is that this record would move to Warner Bros. proper,” Boesel said. “We wanted that to be a possibility. Even if it had been released by Saddle Creek that was a possibility, but it wasn’t something they (Saddle Creek) were comfortable with. They’re definitely crusaders with high morals and ethics, trying to do this thing for the greater good. For some, that’s the right approach. For us, it wasn’t. We’re trying to do something similar, but in a different way. We’re trying to enter into that world with full knowledge of the traps. We came in with a finished record and have not compromised it in the least.”

(Saddle Creek label executive Robb) Nansel said there were a number of reasons why Saddle Creek frowned upon a deal where Warner Bros. or any other major would simply take over the record. “They wanted us to sell ‘x’ number of records and then they would take it from us,” Nansel said. “The first few weeks are the most difficult time for any release.”

Boesel added, “It would be wrong to say we’re not taking a gamble choosing to go into this world. We’re taking a risk. These companies are set up to make money, while indies like Saddle Creek started out as a way to put out good music, which is a completely different thing.”--Lazy-i, Sept. 22, 2004

It is indeed. So did the gamble pay off? One assumes (maybe incorrectly) that Rilo Kiley made more money by moving to a major. Regardless, the band officially broke up in 2014. Jenny Lewis went onto a semi-successful solo career.

Actually, I don’t know how any musician or artist measures success these days. She had a number of quality solo releases; who knows how well they did from a money standpoint.

Lewis’ new project, Nice as Fuck, is something of a step backwards compared to her solo work. The first single, “Door,” is fun and clever but as lightweight a pop song as you’ll ever hear. And then it’s regurgitated six more times to fill out the collection (the band’s “theme song” is also included on the album). A nice little distraction for Lewis until she gets around to her next solo outing…

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room is that Deerhoof show I mentioned yesterday. $15, 9 p.m. You really should go. Philly dark-punk band Blank Spell opens along with local hero Thick Paint.

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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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with Deerhoof; Conor Oberst’s ‘Ruminations’ out Oct. 14; Sam Evian Creek debut Sept. 30…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:40 pm August 3, 2016
Deerhoof returns to The Waiting Room Aug. 4.

Deerhoof returns to The Waiting Room Aug. 4.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

San Francisco experimental rock band Deerhoof are known as much for their live shows as their quirky, jittery, inventive music. On stage the four-piece is an explosion of music that fuses rock, jazz, prog and noise into one throbbing, powerful sound. Frontwoman/basist Satomi Matsuzaki is a wound-up rock ‘n’ roll cheerleader, jumping and kicking and chirping in a language that sounds like a fusion of Japanese and English. It is, indeed, a sight to behold.

While the band’s idiosyncratic art-tortured albums can be a challenge to navigate, their latest, The Magic (2016, Polyvinyl) comes as close as they’ve ever dared to something resembling traditional rock. Nestled among the Eno-esque rhythms are some of the best holy-shit power-chord riffs I’ve heard from a rock band since Superchunk. Over the course of 15 tracks, the band can go from high-energy Sonic Youth grind (“Dispossessor”) to throbbing, blue-light art lounge (a cover of “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire”). The Magic is a career high-water mark.

With the band returns to The Waiting Room Thursday, Aug. 4, I caught up with Satomi Matsuzaki with a Ten Questions survey. Here you go:

1. What is your favorite album?

Satomi Matsuzaki: The Magic by Deerhoof

2. What is your least favorite song?

“Hotel California” by Eagles

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

Making music with Deerhoof.

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

Long flights when we go on tour.

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

Barley tea and dried squid.

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

Everywhere we go.

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

If there was any, I already erased that memory from my brain. I wanna stay positive and keep going forward. I learn from mistakes and just move on.

8. How do you pay your bills?

Usually bank wire through my phone bill payment app.

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

My profession is music and I prefer not to do other work. I won’t hate any job though if I decide to do whatever to live.

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

I have been there before. It’s located in the middle of USA and The Waiting Room is a great venue! They have a laundromat in backstage and that helps me a lot on tour!

Deerhoof plays with Blank Spell and Thick Paint Thursday, Aug. 4, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Showtime is 9 p.m., tickets are $15. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com.

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How did you spend last winter? If you’re like me, you wasted those cold January days watching TV and wishing for spring to return.

Conor Oberst, Ruminations (2016, Nonesuch)

Conor Oberst, Ruminations (2016, Nonesuch)

Conor Oberst spent his winter writing a new album called Ruminations, which drops Oct. 14 on Nonesuch Records.

Said Oberst about his winter in Omaha last year: “I wasn’t expecting to write a record. I honestly wasn’t expecting to do much of anything. Winter in Omaha can have a paralyzing effect on a person but in this case it worked in my favor. I was just staying up late every night playing piano and watching the snow pile up outside the window. Next thing I knew I had burned through all the firewood in the garage and had more than enough songs for a record. I recorded them quick to get them down but then it just felt right to leave them alone.

Over the span of 48 hours, Oberst recorded Runinations at ARC Studios with engineer Ben Brodin. According to Oberst’s publicist, the tracks don’t have the multi-layered instrumentation of the most recent Bright Eyes and solo albums: This is Oberst alone with his guitar, piano and harmonica; a sort of throw-back to his earliest recordings, but with modern lyrics.

Pre-orders are under way at the Nonesuch website. The tour kicks off in Grand Island Aug. 18. and some locals are opening some dates, such as MiWi La Lupa, Anna McClellan, and on Nov. 23 Simon Joyner will open when Oberst plays solo at Carnagie Hall in NYC. That should be a show for the ages.

* * *

Sam Evian, Premium (2016, Saddle Creek)

Sam Evian, Premium (2016, Saddle Creek)

Saddle Creek Records also announced today that the debut release by newest roster addition Sam Evian, entitled Premium, will drop Sept 30. Sam Evian is Brooklyn’s Sam Owens of band Celestial Shore. You read about his signing in Lazy-i here.

According to the publicist, the album’s nine songs “reflect the casual, relaxed atmosphere Sam created for himself at Brooklyn’s Figure 8 Studio.” Among the players on Premium are Austin Vaughn on drums (Here We Go Magic, Luke Temple), Brian Betancourt on bass (Hospitality, Here We Go Magic, Luke Temple), Michael Coleman on keys (Figure 8’s studio manager), Dan Iead on pedal steel (Cass McCombs), vocalists Cassandra Jenkins and Hannah Cohen, Shahzad Ismaily, Eddie Barbash (the saxophonist on the Colbert show) and Steve Marion (aka Delicate Steve).

Pre-orders are, of course, under way at Saddle Creek’s online store.

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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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Deerhoof, The Power…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:51 pm June 28, 2010
Deerhoof at The Waiting Room, June 25, 2010.

Deerhoof at The Waiting Room, June 25, 2010.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Deerhoof was amazing last Friday night at The Waiting Room — an explosion of music that fused rock, jazz, prog and noise into one throbbing, powerful sound. While frontwoman/bassist Satomi Matsuzaki provided her share of cheerleading energy, jumping and kicking while chirping in Japanese, it was drummer Greg Saunier who fueled this rocket, with his drum kit set up right along the front of stage right (reminiscent of that crazy drummer for John Vanderslice oh so many years ago). Saunier is one of the best drummers I’ve heard on TWR stage (or any stage, for that matter). The band was rounded out by John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez both playing what appeared to be 12-string electric guitars, while behind them was projected a nightmarish pastiche of old film — most of it purposely damaged and/or deranged. As a live band, Deerhoof eclipses their restrained, measured recordings with sheer ferocity, transforming from an art band into something that more closely resembles punk. Ironically, their one cover was a spot-on version (minus flute, of course) of  Canned Heat’s “Going Up the Country,” featuring Saunier on vocals and Matsuzaki on drums. A top-five show of the year? Yes. Opening was Athens band Southeast Engine (on Misra by way of The Wrens), whose subtle folk rock and two-part harmonies sounded like Two Gallants crossed with The Delta Spirit.

If Only He Had the Power, a new five piece from Lincoln, played for a small gathering (20?) at the Barley Street Tavern Saturday night. Their rough, aggressive, noise rock was helmed by a female vocalist who began the night with her hands in her pockets but ended it unrestrained, flailing, lost in the moment. The band’s keyboard and bass anchors its sound — the guitar was barely audible, and the drums sounded more like an afterthought. What would they sound like on a larger stage with a real PA? Keep an eye on this one…

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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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Lazy-i Interview: Deerhoof; Burger Records caravan, Joyner, MAHA showcase tonight…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , — @ 12:29 pm June 24, 2010

Deerhoof

Deerhoof: In the Headlights

The influential SF band launches tour in Omaha.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I don’t know if Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier, the mastermind behind the art-damaged band that has stoked the flame of indie’s more adventurous musicians, is telling the truth or bullshitting when he responds to the question: “Who have you always wanted to collaborate with?”

His answer: “Keith Richards!”

But it’s not such a surprise when you consider — like Richards and the Rolling Stones — how influential Deerhoof’s music has been.

Odd, quirky, adventurous and never boring, Deerhoof’s sound melds rock, jazz, classical and noise to create a hybrid that’s as disturbing and unusual as it is catchy and beautiful. The band has been cited as aninfluence by an army of today’s most creative musicians, including Sleigh Bells, Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, Of Montreal, The Flaming Lips, Fiery Furnaces, Sufjan Stevens and St. Vincent. Locally, Deerhoof’s influence can be heard shining through on UUVVWWZ’s debut album. It’s the San Francisco band’s habit of taking a melody in the most unpredictable directions that has made it a touchstone for other artists searching for their own voices.

Saunier said he doesn’t mind when Deerhoof is name checked. “Are you kidding?” he said. “Flattery will get you everywhere. We never thought we’d be a touchstone for anything. And anyway, it’s not just journalists – I’ve had musicians tell me that Deerhoof has been an inspiration to them, and I’m so moved by that. It means the world to me.”

Deerhoof - Offend Maggie

Deerhoof - Offend Maggie

Since its formation in ’92, each Deerhoof record has taken a slightly different sonic path. That shift in sound sometimes also reflected a shift in their lineup, but in the past few years, the band has settled on core players Saunier, John Dieterich, Ed Rodriguez and Satomi Matsuzaki. Their latest album, 2008’s Offend Maggie released by Kill Rock Stars, could be their most accessible, thanks to its infusion of heavy-metal guitar riffs, traditional rock rhythms (or as close to traditional as they ever get) and Matsuzaki’s cooing vocals.

In fact Matsuzaki’s voice is as much an instrument as a way of conveying the songs’ meaning; especially considering that half the lyrics are in Japanese. On the jumpy, childlike song “Basketball Get Your Groove Back,” Matsuzaki can be understood chirping the triplets “Basketball, basketball, basketball” followed by a syncopated “Rebound rebound rebound.” Does it matter if anyone knows what she’s singing?

“Satomi writes most of the lyrics, but not all,” Saunier said. “John (Dieterich) and I both (write a lot). For us the words are a big deal and we spend a lot of time on getting them just right, putting all our themes in place. We put all our lyrics in all of our CDs or LPs, although I guess that doesn’t really help anyone who is downloading the album.”

There’s little doubt that Deerhoof’s music can be an acquired taste. But despite their challenging sound, the band has cultivated an intensely loyal following that continues to grow.

“Oh we were so obscure in the mid-’90s,” Saunier said. “We lost money when we made a record or went on tour, let alone making a living. There’s no comparison (to today). What’s been great about the change is how gradual it’s been. We never had an overnight success. I guess it must be a thrill, but it can backfire so easily. Our listeners have been so loyal to us.”

Saunier said the band is in the middle of recording a new album. “Even though we are really excited about (the new songs), I don’t know if they’re going to be ready for the stage by the time we leave (on tour),” he said, adding that The Waiting Room audience might get “a little taste” of the new material Friday night.

He said it was no accident that Omaha was chosen as the first date on this latest tour that will take Deerhoof north to Canada through the PNW and California. “We just loved playing in Omaha the last time – both the venue and the audience were just tops,” Saunier said. “I have a real strong memory of it. We decided right then and there that we have to come back whenever we can.”

Which makes me wonder if he was bullshitting me again.

Deerhoof plays with Southeast Engine and Broken Spindles, Friday, June 25, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $12. For more information, visit waitingroomlounge.com.

* * *

A trio of shows are happening this evening. First, the Burger Records Caravan rolls into The Hole, 712 S. 16th St., tonight at 7 p.m. Burger Records is a label and record store based out of Fullerton, CA, that started out releasing cassettes from bands such as Nobunny, Black Lips and Harlem. These days they’re also releasing music on a new-fangled format called “the Compact Disc.” This time, the caravan features low-fi garage punkers Todd C, Audacity, Cum Stain and The Cosmonauts. Also on the dance card are locals The Prairies and Baby Tears. 7 p.m., $6.

If you decide to continue hanging out downtown after the show, swing by The Slowdown for the Benefit for Nebraska Friends of Foster Children featuring Simon Joyner, Outlaw Con Bandana, S.A.M., Sean Pratt, and Conchance. $8, 8:30 p.m.

Last but not least is the 30 Days ’til MAHA Showcase at The Waiting Room, a “battle of the bands” competition where the audience votes for their favorite performer. The one with the  most votes will be invited to play on the Kum & Go second stage at this year’s MAHA Festival July 24 down at Lewis & Clark Landing. The five contestants tonight are  The Matt Cox Band, Midwest Dilemma, Honey & Darling, Tim Wildsmith and Landing on the Moon. If I had a vote in the talent show I’d cast it either for Honey & Darling or Landing on the Moon, but it’ll be Tim Wildsmith that will walk away the winner. Show starts at 8 p.m., and admission is absolutely free.

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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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i