Interviews

Friday, August 15, 2014

Cheetah Chrome: The Cream Interview 2014

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 3:40 PM

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The Dead Boys and their earlier incarnation, Rocket From the Tombs, are always thought of as New York City bands, even though they came to the Bowery from Cleveland just as the world was beginning to recognize the place as a hub for original artists. Now, we like to think of co-founder and guitarist Cheetah Chrome as a Music City local, since he's been living here with his family for going on 18 years. He's stayed busy with a wide variety of projects, including a group called The Batusis with New York Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain, a brief Rocket From the Tombs reunion and working as the head of A&R and a staff producer at Plowboy Records, a local label that's home to Bobby Bare, Paul Burch, J.D. Wilkes and the Dirt Daubers and other notable not-watered-down Americana acts.

Last fall, Chrome released his debut record of solo material, a seven-song EP appropriately titled Solo. It includes tracks recorded in 1996, from sessions in Woodstock, New York, with Dead Boys producer Genya Ravan at the controls and Nashville punk group LAMF as the backing band, as well as tracks from an aborted Batusis full-length helmed by drummer-producer Ken Coomer (of Wilco and Clockhammer fame).

A couple weeks back, Chrome announced his first solo show in Nashville since 2002. The show starts 7 p.m. Saturday at The Basement. Tickets are $7, and the bill includes Chet Weise and Poni Silver's psych-blues band Kings of the F**King Sea opening and young punks Sexx performing after. (Sadly, a death in the family forced The Dead Deads to drop off the bill.) We got an opportunity to chat with Cheetah Chrome on the phone about Solo, Plowboy and more — read that after the jump.

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Those Darlins, Tristen and Adia Victoria: The Cream Interview

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 1:35 PM

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Those Darlins, Tristen and Adia Victoria all play Nashville pretty regularly. Here and there, two out of the three have teamed up for a show. But this Sunday at 3rd & Lindsley will be the first time all three have taken the stage back to back to back. Besides the fact that it’s a must-see lineup — and one that’ll also be broadcast live on Lightning 100 — it is (at the risk of sounding too stuck on the separate-sphere-for-women’s-rock Lilith Fair model of the '90s) a grouping of fascinating, female-fronted acts that doesn’t come around just every weekend.

Through the miracle of freeconferencecall.com, The Cream managed to get the frontwomen from all three outfits on the phone at once. Jessi Zazu, longtime leader of the Darlins — who’ve grown before our eyes into a leathery, knowing garage-pop quartet — dialed in from a tour stop in Phoenix. Then relative newcomer Adia Victoria — who recently gave blog readers outside of Nashville the first taste of her haunted, Southern goth rock narrative — and local fave Tristen Gaspadarek, architect of beguilingly knotty pop tunes, each joined the call from somewhere in town.

We more or less framed the conversation and scooted out of the way, so that these three could get on with their conversation about good first impressions, gendered perceptions and gear. And though we had a hunch they’d get along well, it’s worth noting what a thoroughly egalitarian, mutually appreciative exchange it was.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Legs McNeil: The Cream Interview

Posted By on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 4:13 PM

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  • Legs McNeil
This evening, legendary rock writer and oral historian Legs McNeil will appear at Grimey’s Too/Howlin’ Books to promote his and longtime collaborator Gillian McCain’s latest offering, Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose. Taking its prose from salvaged journals, the book tells the true story of a Pennsylvania girl who suffered physical and mental abuse, struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and died of cystic fibrosis when she was only 17 years old. McNeil will also read from his and McCain’s essential Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, because, he says, “you’ve gotta do your greatest hits, right?”

After the jump, check out our Q&A with McNeil, wherein he talks about Dear Nobody, the ever-changing legacy of punk, life and the recent death of Tommy Ramone. As a bonus, former Dead Boys guitarist and current Nashvillian Cheetah Chrome will join McNeil, most likely to read from his McNeil-co-written memoir Cheetah Chrome: A Dead Boy’s Tale: From the Front Lines of Punk Rock. Feel free to revisit our 2010 Q&A with Chrome when you get done with the one below.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Andrew W.K.: The Cream Interview

Posted By on Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 4:33 PM

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  • Andrew W.K.
So in this week's Scene, we ran a (hopefully) humorous make-shift Q&A with party-rock flag-flier Andrew W.K., based on an excellent, wildly popular advice column he writes for the Village Voice's music blog. But we also did our own interview with the man. In it, he talks about partying, self-help, being a motivational figure, how Andrew W.K. conspiracies took an emotional toll on him and what to expect at his one-man Exit/In show tonight.

Check it out!

So I was reading your advice column, which is a great read by the way. Does it feel like an enormous responsibility when you're responding to those people, just in the sense that they get pretty personal with their questions, and they're asking for advice on some pretty serious life decisions?

Yes, yes. Going back a little bit here. I remember really very early on at shows or after shows when I would meet people who were starting to find out about what I was doing, or this whole party phenomenon. Right away, people looked to me, for whatever reason, for feedback, for advice, for sometimes just to have someone to listen to them. And to talk about things, so it wasn't even to give them the answers or a secret for anything, but to give them someone to talk with. I was really surprised by that, really blown away actually. Especially because it's something that, I didn't put myself out there as being someone that had any kind of authority or knowledge or expertise about anything.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Jamey Johnson: The Cream Interview

Posted By on Wed, Jul 9, 2014 at 9:00 AM

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Jamey Johnson will perform tonight at Marathon Music Works as part of Full Moon Full Life.

Only one artist has ever expressed to me his thanks for not making him hostile during an interview, and that’s Jamey Johnson. Though he delivered it with a chuckle, it was a loaded statement all the same; he’s been known to get rather stingy with his responses in the past when questions rub him the wrong way. The bottom line is the guy doesn’t respond well to being painted into a corner, whether the corner’s one of perception — say, holding him to a reductive notion of a country outlaw — or professional demands, particularly those that seem to have little relevance to his creative impulses.

If you were to draw a Venn diagram of generations of country-music makers from the ‘60s on, taking care to include stubborn traditionalists and trend-responsive chart-toppers alike, Johnson’s name would be a point of overlap between a lot of those rings. To golden-oldie legends like Willie Nelson, Hank Cochran, George Jones, Bobby Bare and Bill Anderson, Johnson’s been a fan and friend, co-writer and singing partner. He’s lent his voice to tribute shows and anniversary albums for such ‘80s chart fixtures as George Strait, Alabama and Randy Travis, the latter of whom is also benefiting from Johnson’s interest in horse training while recovering from his stroke. It’s easy to forget that some of this decade’s commercial big dogs are also Johnson’s cohorts and co-writers, among them hit factory Dallas Davidson, Jerrod Niemann, who’s lately been banking on country club bangers, and rural rapper Colt Ford.

To further make the point, here’s Johnson on Ford: “After meeting so many writers who write those kinds of [country rap] songs and being disappointed, I had prepared myself to be disappointed in this one too. But when I met him, I met one of the most genuine, down-to-earth human beings I’ve ever met. That made me pay attention to his lyrics a little more — and his lyric is very similar to mine, even though his meter isn’t.”

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Yonder Mountain String Band: The Cream Interview

Posted By on Tue, Jul 1, 2014 at 7:40 AM

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Yonder Mountain String Band saw a change in their lineup recently with the departure of mandolinist Jeff Austin. They're currently on tour with guest musicians, trying to sort out what their new long-term arrangement is going to look like. They'll play the Ryman this Thursday, July 3, where they'll be joined by Sam Bush. You'll be able to see my Critic's Pick on that in this week's forthcoming issue of the Scene.

The Cream sat down with Yonder Mountain String Band's Ben Kaufmann, Adam Aijala and Dave Johnston at Bonnaroo, where we talked about the band's experience playing the festival and sorting out their band identity. See our interview after the jump.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Black Flag Vocalist Mike Vallely: The Cream Interview

Posted By on Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 12:15 PM

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Black Flag's initial run was nothing if not volatile. First was the hardcore punk pioneers' legendarily violent shows. Then there was the group's ranks of former members, which seemed to swell each year. But from '78 to '85, the chaos spawned one stone-cold classic after another, with the band frequently breaking new ground even as they purposely alienated chunks of their audience along the way.

Last year, a reanimated Black Flag released What The ..., the band's first album in 28 years. The record featured Ron Reyes on vocals, whose original tenure in the band ended with him being credited as "Chavo Pederast" on the 1980 EP Jealous Again after the singer quit in the middle of a set. This go-round he was booted from the band while touring Australia. He was replaced by pro skater Mike Vallely, who also sings in another band with Ginn called Good for You. This version of Black Flag will play Exit/In tonight. The Cream sent Vallely a few questions via email. See his answers after the jump.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Noam Pikelny: The Cream Interview

Posted By on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 8:15 AM

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Grammy-nominated banjoist Noam Pikelny is currently collaborating with master fiddler Stuart Duncan for a tour featuring the two artists without any further accompaniment. The duo draws material from Pikelny’s past three solo albums, Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe, Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail and In the Maze, in addition to samplings from the larger canopy of folk and country music.

Pikelny and Duncan will perform at Franklin Theatre on June 28 — see my Critic's Pick here. The Cream recently spoke to Pikelny about his experience with the tour, what drew him to Stuart Duncan specifically and why the two decided take on the challenge of touring without accompaniment. Pikelny also discussed why the banjo and fiddle speak to each other musically in a way that other instrument pairings just can’t. See our discussion below.

What made you want to do a tour outside a full band setting?

Stuart Duncan has always been one of my favorite musicians within the world of bluegrass and roots music. He's always been someone I've looked up to. I've tried to create opportunities to play with him in the studio. I've been lucky enough to get him on the last couple of records. He played on the Kenny Baker record, and he played on the record before, Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail, but those were my only real interactions with him musically. I never had gotten to play with him live. I'd always thought of him as such a spontaneous and daring musician — a guy who takes incredible chances in the studio and plays things differently every time. There was this curiosity of what that type of collaboration would be like in a live situation.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Jack White: The Cream Interview 2014

Posted By on Thu, Jun 12, 2014 at 6:30 AM

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  • Photo: David James Swanson
Pick up this week's dead-tree edition of the Scene — the one with a spiffily dressed Jack White on the cover — and you'll find our annual Bonnaroo guide, which features previews on the fest's best music, comedy and more, not to mention the fifth annual Bonnaroo Bingo card.

But before that you'll find my cover feature on White, who released his second solo effort, Lazaretto, on Tuesday and will headline Bonnaroo on Saturday. While we squeezed just as much of the interview as possible into the print edish, we only had so many dead trees at our disposal. So if you follow me after the jump, you'll find a full, uninterrupted transcript of my chat with White. (See also: fellow Creamster Adam Gold's 2011 chat with White.) Goodies that didn't make the print version include: the two lesser-known Voice-O-Graph booths White also owns (one of which he hopes to get running and tote around behind the Rolling Record Store); recent songs he's covered snippets of during his set; plans for The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather; and plenty more.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Failure's Ken Andrews: The Cream Interview

Posted By on Thu, Jun 5, 2014 at 1:06 PM

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Ahh, Sunday. The Day of Rest, Sunday Fun Day, Laundry Day, what have you. For many Nashvillians, this Sunday will be no different from those which came before: Expensive brunches will be shared, park grounds will be enjoyed, mimosas and bloody marys will flow freely, and church pews will be filled with supplicants trying to decide what Cosmos means for their belief in the Genesis narrative, or with those who are too hungover to consider such weighty matters. Also, the CMA Fest. For still others, a different sort of supplication will occur this evening, and that is at the Church of Failure.

Yes, indeed. It has been nearly two decades since the now-cult L.A. band played Nashville, or any other markets for that matter. As I write in this week’s dead-tree edition of the Scene, Failure’s unfortunate late-‘90s demise — brought about by major-label troubles, internal discord, drug addiction and the inability of critics and other industry actors to classify or understand the trio’s value — has in the years since been redeemed by an amorphous word-of-mouth campaign that has resulted in the band now being revered as much if not more than many of their grunge-era peers. Indeed, Failure’s spacy, heavily textured rock has conjured a mythology since the Alternative Nation era, impressing itself upon savvy record collectors and budding musicians alike.

Fortunately for us, Ken Andrews, Greg Edwards and Kellii Scott weathered the fallout and subsequent years relatively unscathed, enjoying moderate success in other musical endeavors, cleaning up and restoring their friendship and working relationship to a point where the re-forming of Failure was feasible — an event that, until recently, seemed as unlikely to the band as to their increasingly devout following. On Sunday, Failure will play Exit/In, where for two hours the trio will reportedly play huge chunks of their iconic Fantastic Planet album, as well as tracks from Magnified and Comfort and (praise be!) a forthcoming LP. In advance of the sold-out show — modestly billed “An Evening With Failure” — Andrews took time on a windy Montana evening to connect with the Scene via phone. Our full conversation, which has been lightly edited for clarity and length, is below. Enjoy it after the jump.

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