Ten Questions with Grocer (playing tonight at The Sydney)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 5:45 am March 21, 2022
Grocer at The Reverb Aug. 17, 2021. The band plays tonight at The Sydney in Benson.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The last time Philly indie rock band Grocer came through Omaha last August I tagged them for a quick interview about touring during COVID, with the Delta variant about to come down like a hammer.

Drummer Cody Nelson put some wisdom to the situation: “We’re in a new place every night. If we can make sure we’re surrounded by as few potential carriers as possible that increases the chances of us being healthy and being able to continue our tour. If the venue takes the lead, it’s more comfortable for us to show up and be safe.” You can read the full article at The Reader website, here.

Looks like they survived, as the band is returning to The Sydney in Benson tonight, for a tough-as-nails Monday gig. Their style very much is in the early Pixies tradition, angular and cool riding high on the bass line and backbeat drums, while guitarist Emily Daly shreds feedback-drenched leads filtered through a muffled effects pedal.

Since last time, the band recorded a 9-track LP, Numbers Game, that’s slated for release May 6, and just released the first track, “Pick A Way.”

We caught up with Grocer again, but this time subjected them to the Ten Questions treatment. Here’s what they had to say:

What is your favorite album?

Danielle Lovier: My most listened to album is Shadow of Your Smile by Astrud Gilberto.

Nick Rahn: Bitte Orca – Dirty Projectors

Cody Nelson: Commit This to Memory by Motion City Soundtrack

Emily Daly: Sister by Sonic Youth

What is your least favorite song?

Cody: Don’t know if I have one, but I really don’t like Du Hast

Emily: Baby Shark

What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Cody: Pass…JK it’s the most meaningful form of social/creative connection I’ve personally ever found. 

Emily: The camaraderie of hanging out with fellow weirdos with the same impossible goals

D&N: Touring!

What do you hate about being in a band?

Danielle: Making a decision on where the four of us should eat a meal while on tour.

Nick: Self Promotion

What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Cody: Legal: Coffee, Illegal: Don’t worry about it 😉

Danielle: LSD lol

In what city or town do you love to perform?

Danielle: I think Omaha actually is pretty high up on the list for us, as well as Atlanta & Charleston.

Emily: Chicago/El Paso

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

Nick: Phoenix, too many reasons

Cody: Definitely Philadelphia, haha

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?

Nick: No, I also freelance as an audio engineer and a handyman.

Danielle: Not quite there yet. I make planters.

Cody: Certainly not (yet), I’m also a professional poker player.

Emily: Nope!

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

Emily: I would love to teach, which I’ve done before, but unfortunately doesn’t pay a living wage. I would be useless at anything involving math. 

Cody: I would like to try being a therapist/psychologist, would hard pass any other sort of medical/legal field.

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

Danielle: We heard that there’s a recording studio in Omaha, where the sound engineer actually wrote ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ and gave it to Boys II Men, from which Mariah Carey stole it and said sound engineer was never credited.

Nick: Just the one story about the corn husker who saw Conor Oberst at a Runza.

Grocer plays tonight with Bad Self Portraits and Bach Mai at The Sydney in Benson, 5918 Maple St. Show time is not listed, but it probably starts at 8 p.m. $12.

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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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with Squirrel Flower (at Reverb Saturday); new And How music, tonight with Thick Paint…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:05 pm March 16, 2022
Squirrel Flower plays at Reverb Lounge Saturday, March 19.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Chicago by way of Boston’s Squirrel Flower a.k.a. Ella Williams has been writing and recording indie folk music since 2015, but broke through the waves with 2020’s I Was Born Swimming (Polyvinyl) that Paste Magazine called a record “you’ll want to sink into, like a warm bath or maybe a 4 p.m. ocean that’s been baking in the hot sun all day.”

She followed it up with Planet (i) (Polyvinyl, 2021), of which Allmusic said, “Themes of personal, meteorological, and environmental disaster scud like silver clouds over the album’s panoramic arrangements in a tenuous, but pleasingly textural way.” In fact, the record’s one-sheet called it “a love letter to disaster in every form imaginable. Tornadoes, flooding, gaslighting assholes, cars on fire—these songs fully embrace a planet in ruin.”

Sound depressing? Yeah, it can be. But most of Planet (i) is acoustic-riff indie rock that fits alongside acts like Cassandra Jenkins or Tomberlin at their quieter moments. It’s a pretty record that feels like a long, contemplative road trip, dusty and afternoon-sun lit, lost along an empty Highway 30.

Expect to hear tracks off this one when she rolls into Reverb Saturday night, as well as songs off her just release follow-up EP, Planet (Polyvinyl), which consists of outtakes from the Planet (i) sessions and a cover of Bjork’s “Unravel.”

We caught up with Williams and asked her the Ten Questions. Here’s her rather minimal responses:

What is your favorite album?

Squirrel Flower’s Ella Williams: Nebraska by Springsteen 😉

What is your least favorite song?

Happy Birthday

What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Playing music with them 

What do you hate about being in a band?

Literally nothing !

What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Bagel with cream cheese

In what city or town do you love to perform?

Chicago! Where I live right now. 

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

I’ve never had a bad gig but one time I played in Sioux City, Iowa, and we got caught in the craziest rain storm ever. Full rivers flowing on the street while we were loading out.

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 have very low living costs and teach and work catering/restaurant gigs from time to time. It took a long time to get to the point of only needing a bit of side work here and there.

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

I worked as a carpenter’s assistant for a bit, which I really loved. Would like to go into carpentry maybe. I would hate to be in finance or be a coder. 

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

Mainly just nice tales from my friend Paige, who grew up on a goat farm outside of Omaha! Can’t wait to play in Omaha. 

Squirrel Flower plays with Tenci Saturday, March 19, at Reverb Lounge. Tickets are $15, showtime is 8 p.m. This is a No Vax No Entry show, so bring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

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Omaha band And How released a new track off a forthcoming album with no set release date (that I know of). Produced/recorded by Ian Aeillo, who gave me the tip, the song was recorded at the old Enamel Studios (and I’m sure there’s a good story behind that). When we’ll hear more tracks from these sessions is a mystery, as I’m told frontman Ryan Menchaca has his hands full with this project and touring with Thick Paint. Fingers crossed that both bands play at this year’s Petfest…

Speaking of which, tonight And How plays with Thick Paint and Masonjixx (headliner) at Reverb Lounge. $15, 8 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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with Lala Lala (playing this Saturday at The Slowdown)…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:40 pm March 10, 2022
Lala Lala plays at Slowdown Jr. Saturday, March 12.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Chicago’s Lala Lala is the indie rock project by Lillie West playing at Slowdown Saturday night. You might remember when she opened for Better Oblivion Community Center back in March 2019, just months before the troubles. And she’s been through a few times before that.

Her latest, I Want the Door to Open (Hardly Art, 2021) is a sonic push forward for West, incorporating deep beats, electronic shifts and her breathy vocals that at times reminded me of a young Suzanne Vega. It’s a very modern-sounding eclectic collection of songs that can both rock and be quietly introspective.

West co-produced I Want The Door To Open with Yoni Wolf of Why? and had input from poet Kara Jackson, OHMME, Adam Schatz of Landlady, Sen Morimoto, Christian Lee Hutson and Kaina Castillo. Ben Gibbard sings a duet with West on “Plates,” a song about accepting the past regardless of whatever negative feelings accompany those memories.

We caught up with Lillie and asked her to undergo the Ten Questions survey. Here’s how it went:

  1. What is your favorite album?

Lala Lala’s Lillie West: Not sure of all time right now I’m really loving the Sudan Archives album Athena. And I always love Mudanin Kata by David Darling & The Wulu Bunun.

 
  1. What is your least favorite song?

I do not have one. And if I did I would not tell you.

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

Connecting with people. Traveling. Singing. Music is magic.

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

Driving a lot.

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

Ummm I dont know kombucha? Hummus? Soft fabric? Oil paint? THE SKY??

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

I love to perform anywhere but Chicago does always show up for me literally and spiritually. 

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

I completely lost my voice during a set once but I won’t say where because it’s not their fault.

  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?

Yes and no. I also do focus groups, sell prints of my photos, make content for different audio companies, sell clothes online… but I quit my day job at a record store in 2018. 

  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 be a farmer or a dancer. I would never under any circumstance be a cop.

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

I haven’t heard many stories but early in our DIY days we stayed at a house that had a pile of dog food and an inside out dish glove on the ground that no one who lived there could explain. 

Lala plays with Elton Aura Saturday, March 12, at Slowdown, 729 No. 14th St. Showtime is 8 p.m., tickets are $20. This is a No Vax No Entry event, so bring your vax card or proof of a negative test taken within the past 14 days. 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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with Unwed Sailor’s Johnathon Ford (new EP out Jan. 21)…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 3:01 pm January 11, 2022
Unwed Sailor has a new EP coming out Jan. 21 on Spartan Records.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Well, as you all know by now, tomorrow night’s Unwed Sailor show at Reverb Lounge has been cancelled due to one of the band members getting the Covid. Prior to that announcement, I had reached out to the band to see if they’d do the Ten Questions survey in support of the gig. And even though the gig is kaput, we figured why not do it anyway in support of the release of their upcoming EP, Live at CommVess, out Jan. 24 on Spartan Records.

For those of you not in the know, Unwed Sailor is the long-running post-rock project by former Pedro the Lion member Johnathon Ford. The band plays mostly ambient instrumentals in the vein of classic indie acts like The Album Leaf and Tristeza. Very cool vibe.

Of the new album Ford told super-hip NYC blog Brooklynvegan: “It’s been a long time coming for Unwed Sailor to release a proper live recording and to document the process through film as well. Being able to create an intimate first hand look into the vibe and sound of the band playing music and hanging out together in a live studio experience has been a real treat.”

Check out “Blitz,” the first track from the new album:

You can preorder the EP from the band’s Bandcamp page, here. It’s a monumental drag that this show has been cancelled because it would have been a perfect fit for Reverb. Here’s hoping they can reschedule when this pandemic finally runs its course.

Anyway, here’s how Mr. Ford answered the Ten Questions survey:

What is your favorite album?

Johnathon Ford: Hard question! I don’t have an ultimate favorite, but I would say an album that shaped me as a music lover and a musician would be New Order – Substance.

What is your least favorite song?

Another hard question! There are so many. I’d have to say that “God Bless America” or “Jesus Loves Me” are high on the list.

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

Self expression. Creating music and playing it live.

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

Being forced to cancel shows and hearing loss.

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

Popcorn and coke in my mouth at the same time.

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

Seattle, WA and Portland, OR

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

San Diego, CA in 1996 with my band Roadside Monument. The only person at the show was the bartender and he ended up leaving during our set.

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?

Ah, the seemingly impossible dream of making a living off of music. The forever goal. Serving beer, making pizza, and collecting rent.

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 an archeologist. I’d hate to be a cop.

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

I haven’t heard many stories about Omaha, but I’ve experienced my own stories while playing there. A lot of great memories in Omaha. Too many to count. I can’t wait to come back.

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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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with Tokyo Police Club (at The Slowdown Oct. 28)…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , — @ 1:02 pm October 25, 2021
Tokyo Police Club circa now. The band plays at The Slowdown Thursday, Oct. 28, with And How.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Seems like only yesterday when in fact it was 13 or 14 years ago that Saddle Creek Records announced that it signed one of its first non-Omaha acts — Tokyo Police Club. Elephant Shell came out on Saddle Creek in April 2008 to much fanfare, but the record would prove to be a one-and-done for the label, as TPC would go onto Mom + Pop Music for the follow-up, 2010’s Champ.

And now a decade later, TPC is celebrating that record with a tour that comes through The Slowdown this Thursday, Oct. 28. TPC is issuing a vinyl version of the album in honor of the 10th anniversary. In addition, TPC frontman Dave Monks has a new album coming out Oct. 15 and guitarist / keyboardist Graham Wright dropped a solo album last month. 

That leaves drummer Greg Alsop to do our Ten Questions survey. We caught up with him and here’s what he had to say: 

What is your favorite album?

Greg Alsop: Siamese Dream – Smashing Pumpkins

What is your least favorite song?

“More than a Feeling” – Boston. It’s like 3 terrible songs strung together. 

What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

The travel. 

What do you hate about being in a band?

The travel. 

What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

5:1 CBD to THC. (Thankfully – legal where I live). 

In what city or town do you love to perform?

Omaha. No – for real. The Slowdown is one of the best venues in the country and we’re always so happy to be back there. It’s a club that actually goes out of its way to make touring bands feel welcomed and taken care of. Laundry? Check. Load-in ramps? Check. Love the Slowdown and can’t wait to be back.  

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

Austin TX, SXSW 2007. At that gig we learned what a “texas mickey” was and why one should never be on our rider…

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’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do this full-time for a while now, which we’re all still extremely grateful for. This will be our first tour since 2019 and we’re all pumped to have the opportunity to be doing this again. 

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

I think there’s a real opportunity to go city to city solving unsolved mysteries. However, everything would have to get wrapped up pretty neatly by “van call” the next morning…

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

Nothing comes to mind, but if there’s some inscrutable case out there please let us know and we’ll get our best sleuths on the job. 

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Tokyo Police club plays with And How Thursday, Oct. 28, at The Slowdown, 729 No. 14th St. Tickets are $20, showtime is 8 p.m. This is a No Vax / No Entry show, so bring proof of vaccination and a photo ID to get in the club. 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

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.

Lazy-i

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.

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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

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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