Monsters Are Waiting

Monsters Are Waiting
By alexander laurence

The band Monsters Are Waiting has emerged out of the LA scene recently. The
fuse new wave pop with moody music. They played a show with Giant Drag earlier
this year, and then things have exploded. That interested in the band
culminated with the release of an EP and their first proper album Fascination (2006).
They have played almost twenty shows in the past two months, including a few
on the east coast. A few appearances at Popscene and at the Hammer Museum were
among some highlights. I caught them at the end of this stretch of shows. They
were headlining a sold out show at Check Your Ponytail. While we were talking
in their touring bus, we were hit by another car. Some of their fans were
excited to see them I guess. I was able to have a brief chat with Annalee Fery
and Andrew Clark. It was the A-team tonight.

Eric Gardner: drums
Jon Siebels: guitars
Annalee Fery: vocals/keyboards
Andrew Clark: bass guitar

AL: Where do you live and how did you meet?

Annalee: We live in Echo Park. We all met down in our basement where we
rehearse. I have known Andrew and he was playing with the other two guys. They were
practicing. They had heard some songs that I wrote. They said: “Let’s all
play together.” We played together and was seeing what would happen.

AL: You were neighbors?

Annalee: Yeah.

AL: I noticed that there was a fifth member at the beginning. Who is that?

Andrew: When we first started, we had another guy who was the singer. Anna
came by and watched us when we practiced. She started singing and we thought:
“That was awesome.” Originally we were going to have two singers. We were fans
of The Pixies and Blonde Redhead. We wanted to have both a guy and a girl
singing. It never really worked. Everything gravitated towards having just a girl
singer. And Christian wanted to sing more.

AL: He got the boot?

Annalee: He didn’t get the boot. He wanted to do his own thing. His songs
didn’t really go with what we were all doing. He didn’t play on our record.

Andrew: He was there when we wrote the songs.

AL: I like that name “Less Than Zero Music.”

Andrew: That is Jon’s publishing name. Mine is Pretty Much Music.

Annalee: Mine is Snapper Juice. That is my grandpa’s nickname. He would say:
“You can call me Snapper.” He is from Portland, Oregon, where I am from. He
had this funny name. We are playing up there in a few days.

AL: Where is the rest of the band from?

Andrew: Jon and I are from Los Angeles. Eric is from Boston.

AL: How long has the band been together?

Annalee: For about a year and a half. We have been playing seriously for
about a year.

AL: What were some of the first shows like?

Andrew: The very first show was the only one with Christian, the other guy.
It was all right. We just had to get the first one out of the way. Part of the
reason that we booked the show was because we didn’t have a band name. We
would be forced to come up with a band name. We are putting the ad in, what are
you calling the band? We had a song called “Monsters.” It was something that
Anna started singing in the chorus. I don’t know where it came from.

AL: What does it mean?

Annalee: It has so many meanings. The first thing that came into my mind was
“Monsters in a skirt.” I was thinking about all these bitchy girls who walk
around with their heads up their butts. They seem like they are waiting for

AL: What kind of monsters are they?

Annalee: Whatever you want them to be.

AL: They have no superpowers?

Annalee: No.

AL: How do you write songs in the band? Do one of you write songs, or are
things created in the practice studio?

Annalee: I think that is pretty much how it happens. We get together and turn
on the recorder. We see what we get.

(A close friend interrupts us.)

AL: How do you decide which songs go on the record?

Annalee: We are always coming up with new songs. It is never planned.
Whatever came out on the record was what we had done at the time. We practiced a lot
by playing shows. We would try things and change things around.

Andrew: We recorded the first batch of songs. We released it ourselves as an
EP. We printed them up and put it on a credit card. We were hoping to sell a
few. Amoeba started selling it. We sold them all. We hadn’t been on a label
yet. We had some new songs. We played them and they felt part of our set anyway.
We added them to the new record. That was what came out just now.

AL: How many shows have you played then?

Andrew: That’s a good question. I have no idea.

AL: How did the residency at Spaceland go?

Andrew: It was good.

Annalee: Surprising really good. There was a new sound guy there. We are
taking him with us wherever we can take him.

AL: How did the shows go out in New York City?

Annalee: It was fun. The place was packed every night. It’s weird that people
know your stuff that live that far away.

Andrew: We did two shows at Pianos and a show in Boston. There was a show in

AL: Those shows were good?

Andrew: The Boston show was good. We had a lot of people there. People were
saying that was good for a first show in Boston. I was surprised.

Annalee: There was about 15 people at the DC show.

AL: Who have you played with?

Annalee: We have done a lot of small tours. We have played a little bit with
She Wants Revenge and Editors. We have played with Stellastarr*. We have
played a few times with Giant Drag.

Andrew: Editors was the only real tour. We are going to play more with

AL: You played with Forward Russia?

Annalee: Did you see them before?

AL: Yeah. That show in San Francisco at Popscene was the first time I saw
them. Are you going to do a headlining tour soon?

Andrew: We have played the West Coast and in New York. We haven’t been in the
middle of America yet. I don’t think we are going to be headlining soon.

(Some car hits us at this moment, and we get out of the van to look at the

AL: What about the look of the band?

Annalee: Yeah. We all decide what we look like. We are all moody people. At
first we were like brother and sister: “Do you like this?” We don’t call each
other anymore.

AL: What happened out there?

Andrew: We know those kids. They came to see us. They were like “How much
money do I owe you?” We will talk about it later.

AL: When are you going to have jumpsuits?

Annalee: Is that what you want to see me in next?

AL: Yeah, sure.

Andrew: I don’t think we have done jumpsuits yet. I would like to get one.

AL: Maybe you can get one by Santino Rice? You have been in San Francisco a
lot this year?

Annalee: Yeah. We like that club, Loaded. They have good sound there.
Popscene has some sound issues.

AL: You guys switch instruments on a few songs. Why is that?

Andrew: That is how we wrote the songs. I play bass guitar most of the time.
We switched a couple of songs. We have a few new ones. Eric the drummer wants
to play guitar.

(Another interruption.)

AL: Do you write all the lyrics?

Annalee: Pretty much. I like when songs don’t spell things out so much. I
like when people come late to it or have a different angle. It all takes shape
once you feel it. Every song is different. I am thinking about stuff that is
happening at that moment. Sometimes it just happens when we are writing. I start
to sing something and a word comes out here and there.

AL: What about some of the rumors about the band?

Andrew: What are they?

Annalee: I don’t think we have any. There is a rumor that Andrew has three

AL: Do you have a message board?

Andrew: Yeah. It’s there somewhere.

AL: What do you think of the reviews so far?

Andrew: They have been good so far. We have been lucky. Sometimes I am not
sure what they are talking about. They have been fairly good.

Annalee: I did have someone say that I gyrated my hips. Yeah. I was like
Damn! They are sure paying attention.

AL: Because in reality you are innocent and child-like?

Annalee: No. Not at all. That is what my mother would like to read.

AL: So let’s set the record straight.

Annalee: I am very innocent. And I am a child. I am a child of God!

Andrew: Anna is wearing the monkey finger puppet.

AL: What is going on?

Annalee: Touch it.

AL: Okay. (Laughter.)

Andrew: It’s getting kinky.

AL: Okay. I guess that is it.

Website: www.monstersarewaiting.com

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The Feederz

THE FEEDERZ: Frank Discussion Interview
by Alexander Laurence

I first heard about The Feederz in 1981 when a few of my friends when to see
Black Flag and a few other bands in Arizona. They came back with the "Jesus"
single. Later I would read about Frank Discussion in RE/Search. A few weeks ago
I heard that Broken Rekids was re-releasing the first two albums: EVER FEEL

These albums sound as relevant as ever. I heard that Frank was in the studio
with Jack Endino recording Vandalism: As Beautiful As A Rock In A Cop's Face.
This was good news. The Feederz have always been uncompromising and
mysterious. They are definitely one of the most important west coast punk bands ever.
And they seem to be as vital now than they were twenty or more years ago. They
played a show in San Francisco recently. The Feederz are back to do some damage.


AL: What was the punk rock scene like in Arizona during the early 1980s?

Frank: Actually, we got started in the 1970s and back then there were just lik
e ten of us in Phoenix. Out of this circle there we'd start a new band every
week even though a couple of bands like the Consumers and the Exterminators
were more permanent fixtures. There wasn't a scene and we'd just get gigs at
biker bars and shit by lying about what we played. It was big fun harassing the
denizens of Phoenix. Sometimes we'd have to fight our way out of the clubs
though. By the time the 1980s rolled around there were more bands, but fairly
early in the 1980s I did the "Bored With School" thing and had to leave Phoenix or
go to jail.

AL: What you think of John McCain or Arizona politics?

Frank: I don't think of John McCain much. But if you want someone truly
twisted who's from Arizona check out Evan Mecham, former governor of Arizona. Now
that guy was nuts. His very first act in office was to rescind Martin Luther
King Day. Then he refused to disavow a textbook that called blacks
"pickaninnies," defending it as a "term of affection." When the movement to recall him
became seriously large, he sent letters to conservatives all over the country
asking them to move to Arizona to support him. In the same letters he claimed
thousands of homosexuals had moved to Arizona just to recall him. And that's just
a few of the things he did while in office. He was impeached in 1988, but he's
still a force in conservative politics there. Only in Arizona. I wonder if he
wears a tin foil helmet at night to keep the voices away.

AL: When did you start making music?

Frank: In the early 1970s. Actually, I learned to play guitar from Captain
Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica.

AL: What is your relationship to Jello Biafra and the Dead Kennedys?

Frank: I have no relationship with him. But you're talking about my affair
with his wife aren't you? Actually D. H. Peligro was already in the Dead
Kennedys. Basically, he was good enough to help us record and do a couple of shows
with us. There was never any question that he was first and foremost in the Dead
Kennedys. Peligro was and is a great drummer and a great guy.

AL: What gave you inspiration to perform with live cockroaches glued to his
head? I know that Christian Death used dead animals at the same time.

Frank: I don't know. You just come up with things. Who knows where they come
from? But hell, come to think of it, we had used dead rats since back in

AL: Why was the original cover of Ever Felt Like Killing Your Boss? made
with sandpaper?

Frank: To destroy everything it came into contact with. A "product to destroy
all other products" so to speak.

AL: You were in the Weekly World News for the Gilman Street show with dead
morgue animals. What was that about?

Frank: That was great fun. But it almost ended things for me. Fuck, being in
the Weekly World News and seeing Julie Andrews tits all in the same year.
What's there to do after that? Actually a video of the show is on the re-issue CD
of Teachers In Space if anyone wants to see it.

AL: Do you work with computers?

Frank: Why yes. I'm writing to you on one this very minute. Heh. But
seriously, there are so many new opportunities for sabotage and putting out
information using the net and computers. New means of attack in a whole new playground.
I like that. The idea of owning some corporation's or some government's
website is mighty attractive, you must admit. If their website suddenly says
something they wouldn't normally care to admit, well then... You can attack all
governments, companies, etc. anywhere in the world without leaving your living
room.. Nice huh? Not that I would ever do such a thing...

AL: Did Surrealism and Dadaism influence you?

Frank: In the early days. I was a kind of homespun Surrealist. I had read the
Surrealist Manifesto and had immediately seen the implications of it.
Unfortunately, the Surrealists hadn't. One day I had a talk with one of the
Surrealists from way back. All he talked about was real versus false poets and such
shit. I was truly disillusioned. Vale from RE/Search then gave me some things by
the Situationists and it was like I had finally found people who got it...
There were a few that I never lost respect for though, like Tristan Tzara, Luis
Buñuel and Marcel Duchamp.

AL: Why them?

Frank: Because they never sold their dreams or their ability to rebel off
short or the dubious honor of being lovingly accepted '"back into the fold." Even
in their old age they never lost their bite. Even back in the day you could
see 16 year olds who were already senile. Who were already accepting the
unacceptable and defending it wholeheartedly. Maybe they thought they were growing
up. If that's what it is I don't ever want to grow up. Because that's not
growing up, that's dying. They're already in rigor mortis just waiting for the
needle to pump the embalming fluid in. Life always fights against its
enslavement, and is always testing the bars to its cage. When you see officer friendly
and don't become enraged at their mere existence, that's when it's time to start
to worry.

AL: Why did you cover songs like "Have You Never Been Mellow?" Is that "Punk?"

Frank: Because they're horrible little songs that irritate. Who knows if it's
punk and who cares? If you worry about whether something's punk you're
already lost. If you liked Mellow, then you'll love the version of the theme for
Seventh Heaven we sometimes do. Hahahahaha.

AL: Not sure if I liked it. I thought it was annoying. I am not sure where
people came up with the idea of covering a song, a good or bad one, then totally
destroying it. Now it's conventional for a punk band to do an odd cover of a
pop song.

Frank: I think covers of really terrible songs have always been part of the
culture. Probably because it's fun and a lot of times funny.

AL: What do you think of the French student movement in 1968?

Frank: The May Occupations movement? Mmmmmmmm... Some wonderful possibilities
there. Did you know less than a dozen Situationists managed to ignite a
situation that ended up bringing France within 48 hours of an outright civil war?
Think about that the next time someone says we have to wait until there's a
mass movement! The student's part in it was overplayed in the media you know.

AL: Have you received hate mail for songs like "Crawlspace" and "Jesus
Entering from the Rear?” Those songs still seem offensive today.

Frank: We haven't received much hate mail. But we know we're hated. And
that's just fine.

AL: Do you get threatened at shows?

Frank: From the beginning we played biker bars. At one biker bar, the owner
fell in love with us because I took down a 200+ pound biker. Don't ask me. It's
part of their culture I guess. And at one show someone tried to shoot me. At
another show, a bunch of cops from the Mesa PD were doing the security. A
bunch of people heard their plans. Apparently I had really pissed them off. I got
word that they decided after the show they were going to fuck with me so I had
to hide in the van. So I guess the answer is yes.

AL: What are the other members of The Feederz doing now?

Frank: Which version? Out of the original Feederz, Clear Bob lives in Phoenix
and Art Nouveau died a number of years back. The drummer for much of the San
Francisco days still lives in Northern California. And now there's Ben Wah and
Denmark Vesey who are part of the new lineup.

AL: Were the first two records recorded as live takes? Who produced those

Frank: No, we do the basic tracks live, then throw on some overdubs. If you
listen closely, you'll hear things like a rhythm guitar and the lead playing
at the same time. Can't do that live. We always produced our own stuff until
our latest that is co-produced by Jack Endino.

AL: What is more important: music or ideas?

Frank: Ideas. No question. Otherwise it would just be alternative muzak. On
the other hand, if you weren't doing it as music what would you do? Go hand out
flyers on street corners or do some tedious "spoken word" crap?

AL: What should people expect when they attend a Feederz show today?

Frank: Not sure how to answer that. But I do know what NOT to expect: some
pathetic reunion attempt by a bunch of tired earwigs wanting to make a couple of
bucks off nostalgia. Gawd. Seeing some of those things you just want to say
"they look so natural." Almost as if they were still alive. But one thing I can
tell you to expect from a Feederz show is, if you don't cry out and you don't
move, it won't hurt as much.

AL: Are you finished recording the new album?

Frank: We just did. We got out of the studio from the last mix this morning.
It's called "Vandalism: Beautiful As A Rock In A Cop's Face." New songs about
the tender joys of rioting, looting, hacking... feel good stuff like that.
Insurrection is never having to say you're sorry,


Website: http://www.feederz.com


JESUS 7" (Placebo, 1980)


TEACHERS IN SPACE LP (Flaming Banker, 1986)
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¡Forward, Russia! interview

¡Forward, Russia!
By alexander laurence

tom - voice, synth
rob - bass
katie - drums, shouts
whiskas - guitar, shouts

¡Forward, Russia! formed in Leeds in early 2004. Katie and Whiskas are sister
and brother. Tom and Rob were in a band called The Black Helicopters. All
four came together to try to create something unheard of. The first gig was in
April 2004. The madness followed. At the end of 2004 a single was recorded. The
song “Nine” was released as a split 7-inch single with This Et Al in April
2005. It was released on the Dance To The Radio label. This is a label ran by
Whiskas. Soon Katie finished college. The rest of the band quit their jobs.
During the summer of 2005 they played with Editors, VHS or Beta, and others. They
were featured at the Leeds and Reading Festivals. The next single
“Thirteen/Fourteen” came out in August 2005. White Heat Records put it out. Soon the band
its first gig in London. At the beginning of 2006, the band recorded the first
album. A new single “Twelve” made it into the UK top 40. After a successful
show at SXSW, they released the album “Give Me A Wall” (2006). In June 2006,
¡Forward, Russia! Was back in the States for some more shows. I spoke to Tom
and Rob at the show at the Troubadour. I also saw them at Popscene in San
Francisco. Unfortunately that tape didn’t come out. But I got to talk to Whiskas
over the phone. Their album will be released in America in September 2006.

AL: I talked to some of the other band members in Los Angeles, but the tape
didn’t come out.

Whiskas: I was probably off getting a beer.

AL: How did you meet the other members of the band?

Whiskas: Katie is my sister. Some people don’t realize that. The other two
were in a band called The Black Helicopters. They were playing a lot of gigs in
Leeds and were championed by a few people. They were a band that I really
liked. They liked my band. We used to play together and we got on really well.

AL: You also did a label too?

Whiskas: The label came later. Dance To The Radio was the label and
Transmission was the club. Obviously “dance to the radio…” is a line from the Joy
Division song “Transmission.” At this time I was just putting gigs on, rather
than doing the label. The band started and the label came about very quickly.

AL: You always worked in Leeds?

Whiskas: Yeah. It was all based in Leeds. I have never done anything
elsewhere. I was briefly involved with a label in Manchester. I think Leeds needed
something like that. I think the label has proved that it has kick-started

AL: What other bands did you work with?

Whiskas: We worked with a band called I Like Trains. And a second band This
Et Al which is doing well here from the early days. Since the label has become
a bit better we can actually sign bands properly and work with them a bit
more. We have released a single not by Forward Russia. We have a family of four
bands now. There are the bands The Pigeon Detectives and Yes Boss. It’s a Leeds
thing to help each other out. Most of the bands sound different. There is one
new band called Shut Your Eyes and You’ll Burst Into Flames. They are more
like us, so we have been playing a lot of shows together. On some of the
compilations, we have played with most of the thirty bands on there.

AL: How did you decided about the look of the band and wearing the same
clothes with the exclamation marks?

Whiskas: It was quite funny really. When we played our first headlining gig
in Leeds, we decided to make a big deal out of it. So we decided to put
exclamation marks everywhere. We had the idea to put the big posters everywhere. Then
we put then on the t-shirts too. We started to click as a unit. I like the
idea of a band wearing a uniform. It takes away the idea of fashion. You can’t
talk about how cool a band looks, because basically in a way they don’t.
Especially when it’s a white t-shirt with the band’s image on it. We did that and
they we decided to do that for every gig.

AL: Then you don’t have titles for songs. It’s all numbers. How did that
come about?

Whiskas: It’s great to talk about this sort of thing. Because it was all coinc
idence and us being a bit stupid. Why do all the songs have numbers? It’s
because we had four or five songs and we could think of any names for them. Then
we decided to dub them “One” and “Two” and so on… It wasn’t a long-term
solution at first. Then we wrote a few more songs and dubbed then “Six” and
“Seven.” At that point we thought: “This is silly, but what else are we going to
do?” After we finished the album, we said “We will stop giving the songs
numbers and we will start giving the names.”

AL: So you got up to twenty songs?

Whiskas: Nineteen. That was the last one. We are going to work on a few new
songs and they will have names. Because we are always thinking of names, they
haven’t got names yet.

AL: So when you play live people say “Play song eight!”

Whiskas: That is like Autechre. It’s fun to have people shouting out numbers
when you are onstage. Everyone finds our setlist pretty funny. For us it’s
useful because you can write it out in ten seconds. You don’t have to write out
long song titles.

AL: What do you think about coming to America and playing shows?

Whiskas: We have loved the two times we have been over. Our record is coming
out in September in America. We have been frustrated how short the tours have
been. We are usually playing to more people in America. But you are rushing
around everywhere. We are looking forward to hit it properly before the end of
the year. We love playing live. We just started playing the rest of Europe as
well. You can see the difference. In the UK we have toured so much that it’s
like a farewell tour for the album. It’s weird that we are still introducing it
to the rest of the world. We want to get that done. The American crowds seem
receptive and enthusiastic. In Britain we are used to kids coming down to the
shows. There are a lot more teenagers there. In America, we play at they bars
that are 21+.

AL: We have energy drinks over here to keep us young and energetic.

Whiskas: What is that thing? Battery Spark? Sparks? We had a couple of those.
We saw them and had to try them.

AL: How does the songwriting go in the band?

Whiskas: I usually come in with a few ideas and we will play around with it.
We will work on individual ideas within a song. Like we are working on a new
song. It has two or three different bits. We are not sure what order they will
come in. We might change around what each of us is playing. When we play it,
we discovered that it would be better if we played it on keyboard rather than a
guitar. Little things like that. We are making sure that we try everything
and push it so we get the best results. Most songs come really quickly.

AL: Does everyone contribute equally?

Whiskas: We are a guitar driven band. That might be the spark for it all.
Everyone contributes his or her own parts. We talk about the form and the format.
Everyone will have an equal say what things should sound like. Sometimes the
song with written in individual parts. Usually the group is involved in the
shaping of that.

AL: Does Tom write all the lyrics?

Whiskas: Yeah. Tom writes lyrics that are very personal to him. We might have
some ideas about the tone or the melody.

AL: What about your sister? At the end of the day, was it a good idea to have
her in the band?

Whiskas: I like the way you put that. We have a normal brother and sister
relationship. We have proper fights. She is a great drummer. We have a strange
relationship. I went to University, and she went to a boarding college, so we
didn’t see each other for a few years. Musically we have some of the same
influences. We look out for each other.

AL: Who are some of the bands that you have played with that you have liked?

Whiskas: The bands that come to mind are Editors, We Are Scientists, and
Biffy Clyro. We have had an amazing time and amazing tours with those bands. We
had a great tour with VHS or Beta. We played with them all in the UK. We played
with this band in New York at the Mercury Lounge called Holy Fuck. We
absolutely adored them.

AL: We have a Holy Shit over here in LA. Maybe they should do a tour together?

Whiskas: Holy Fuck are from Canada.

AL: When you record is it all done as live takes?

Whiskas: No it’s all thought out. We do a lot of layering and it sounds
different from the live show. We do a lot of different parts and we hint at things,
because I use a lot of delay onstage. Tom has an amazing ear for harmonies. I
use a lot of delays, imitating what a second guitarist might play. It’s
easier to play all those parts on a record.

AL: Are there any other bands that you would like to play with?

Whiskas: We would like to play with Pretty Girls Make Graves. Someone
mentioned that we might play with TV on The Radio. I think that would be absolutely
amazing. All of us have different likes and dislikes. Sometimes we don’t about
other bands we like to each other.

AL: The record comes out on Mute Records in September. You would like to do a
longer proper tour over here?

Whiskas: Yeah. We are just waiting for the opportunity. We should be there in
October and November. A lot of British bands only do five dates. I would like
to tour for a whole month. I would like to go to some odd places.

AL: Have you played some festivals?

Whiskas: We just did T In The Park in Scotland. It was very mental. We had a
bunch of friends there. We did Oxygen in Ireland. It’s healthy to play all
over Europe. The shows in Europe look like good bands. Then we are going to Leeds
and Reading.

AL: Did you watch the World Cup this year?

Whiskas: We tried but we were in America during some of that time. We were in
Europe for ten days driving around. I was on a plane for two of the England
matches. We watched one England match on a Jet Blue flight. They have a cable
in the back of the seat. We were going to San Francisco. That was bizarre. I am
looking forward to South Africa in 2010. I catch more of it then.

AL: How do you feel about Zidane and the headbutt?

Whiskas: It’s quite funny. We were playing a show when the match was going
on. We were coming back to the dressing room and trying to watch it. It’s a
funny way to end his career. Zidane has always been that kind of player. It’s
interesting to find out what happens in the Italian league.

AL: What else are you going to do this year?

Whiskas: We want to record again this summer. We have a big European tour and
a small UK tour. We want to be in America most of the rest of the year. We
want to do the next record soon. We want to give people a fair crack at this
first album before we move on.

AL: What do you think of The Cribs? They said that they broke the ground for
all Leeds bands.

Whiskas: They were taking credit for it? I will tell you about the Cribs,
mate. I saw them in when they were a band called Wrinkle. They were playing
Mansun and Placebo covers. They were playing in Wakefield. They definitely gave the
Leeds scene a shot in the arm when they really started doing stuff. They were
helped by a lot of things too. The Kaiser Chiefs came out with their album at
the same time. The Cribs were one of the first bands.

AL: Are there a lot of places to play in Leeds?

Whiskas: There are a lot of places but a lot of them are closing down. You
can hire a hall there. There are a lot of bars.

Website: http://www.dancetotheradio.com/
Website: http://www.forwardrussia.com/

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The Black Angels

The Black Angels
By alexander laurence

The Black Angels formed in May 2004 in Austin, Texas. They are much like a
modern version of psychedelic bands like the 13th Floor Elevators and The Velvet
Underground. They invite their audience to “Turn on, tune in, and drone
out.” They really blew the audience away at SXSW this year. Since then there has
been no turning back. They released their first album Passover (2006). It is an
amazing document. They recently hit the west coast and left us wanting more.
They are off to play some festivals and dates in the Midwest. But they will
return to California in October 2006. I got to see them at Alex’s Bar in Long
Beach, and the Troubadour. I spoke to a few of the members before the show in
West Hollywood.

The Black Angels are:

Nate Ryan: bass/guitar
Stephanie Bailey: drums
Christian Bland: guitar/bass
Alex Maas: vocals/bass
Jennifer Raines: Drone Machine
Kyle Hunt: guitar/bass/drums

Brian Jones: manager


AL: How did you all meet each other?

Kyle: I am the newest member in the band. I met Christian, Nate, and Alex. I
have known Jennifer from before she was in the band, from around Austin. I met
all the rest of them at a party or maybe it was one of y’all shows? It was at
Eric Wofford’s house. He is the guy who recorded the album. He has bands play
at his house. He has a lot of birthday parties and stuff. We met and got
along really well. I ended up working on the album, Passover. They asked me to
join the band after that.

AL: What were you doing, Alex, before you formed The Black Angels?

Alex: Christian and I had been playing in bands for years. We were trying to
get these little bands together for years. One was called Orwell. One was
called Black and Green Scarecrows. We were really influenced by Syd Barrett. It
was that sort of stuff. We were always creating music together. We thought:
“Man, we should just be in a band.”

AL: Did any songs carry over from the early bands?

Alex: No. We started off fresh. Every band had different people and sounded
different. The first song we wrote was “Drone.” That was the only song that
carried over at all. Once we got together with all these people, this new group,
the sound started coming out. All the influences were there.

AL: I watched that video with Anton Newcombe at South by Southwest in March
2006. Then I saw the show last night. Are you always making up songs on the

Christian: It’s not always like that, but the first song we play is always
different. We are playing “Snake In The Grass” tonight. We like improv. It
depends on how we feel.

Stephanie: When we are backstage, we say, “What are we going to play?” And
we say “We’ll make it up as we go along.” We add different parts.

AL: You like to switch instruments a lot too?

Alex: Yeah. Everyone has a cool style I guess. Everyone can play the bass
guitar. We want to bring all that into the music. It’s all in the realm of our

AL: How do you write songs in the band?

Jennifer: It’s different every time. Sometimes Christian will bring in a
guitar riff. We will go into practice, and we will develop the song, and put our
parts in. We can watch it evolve. Sometimes Alex will write some lyrics, and we
will write a song a round it. Sometimes he will write lyrics after. Sometimes
we will be jamming and the songs will form. We will try to remember the good
stuff. 98% of the time we will forget it all.

AL: How did you go about recording the album?

Christian: Eric Wofford produced the record. This guy, Dave Cooley, who lives
out here in Los Angeles, mastered it. Eric did most of it on tape. It wasn’t
a Pro Tools job. We tried to have the songs down before we went into the
studio. We did it all in this place in Austin. It was right by the river.

AL: Did you make some stuff in the studio?

Stephanie: Last time we were in the studio, I just started playing this beat
on the drums, and Alex started singing something. The song is different now
than when we first played it in the studio. But we play that all the time.

AL: The band started in May 2004. What was the reaction to some of the first

Alex: We started playing around Austin. One of the first places was Trophy’s,
which is a little bar there. Everyone liked it. Most of the first shows was
just our friends. It was like that for a year. Then when we played SXSW 2005
for the first time, it was the turning point.

Stephanie: We played a KEXP show really early on too.

AL: Do people get jaded in Austin because there are so many bands?

Christian: It’s big enough to have a lot of different shit going on. But it
is small enough to where like everyone supports the other bands. We have a lot
of friends in other bands.

Alex: Also another turning point was when we started getting active and doing
things, instead of being lazy and waiting for things to happen. Like you
said, there might be a thousand bands in Austin. How do you set yourself apart? It
have to actually do stuff. We moved in with each other. That was another
turning point. All these things happened that helped the band have forward
progression and momentum. At some point there was the point of no return.

AL: Have you played a lot of shows?

Christian: Yeah. I think we have played 105 shows in the past year. It has
been non-stop touring for a while. We had members in the band before who didn’t
want to play more than a show a month.

Alex: We had to be active. Those guys are long gone. It’s like the
entertainment business is moving at a thousand miles an hour. You have to move at two
thousand miles an hour. Everyone is always doing something. Everyone is always
moving on to the next technological thing.

AL: What are some of the other bands that you have played with?

Alex: We played with Pink Mountaintops. They are fucking awesome. We played
five or six shows with them.

Stephanie: Pink Mountaintops are my favorite band right now. I like Hopewell.

AL: What is the song “The First Vietnamese War” about?

Christian: What we doing with that song was to compare the old times with the
new times. We don’t learn from history. The same thing repeats itself over
and over. The song is a story about a soldier who is a deserter from the army.

Alex: We are not a political band. We have political themes in our music. We
are not going to convert a bunch of people to a liberal point of view. We care
about the human condition. That is the most important thing.

AL: You might seem to have some dark themes in your songs. Does the band have
a sense of humor too?

Christian: I think so. We are like happy people. We are joking with each
other all the time. But music is also something that we take seriously.

Alex: Music is our outlet. It’s where our dark side might show.

AL: Is there any general religious or philosophical ideas with the band?

Christian: We were all raised going to church. So we all known the Bible.

Alex: We are like students. We are observing things in the world. We are
always learning. We don’t have a strict foundation.

AL: Are you playing a lot of festivals this summer?

Alex: We are playing the Hedgpeth Festival in Wisconsin. We are playing Block
Party in Seattle. There is also the Bleeding Kansas Festival.

AL: I have never heard of some of these festivals.

Alex: We are playing with The Flaming Lips and The Secret Machines.

AL: Do you have any favorite movies?

Christian: My favorite movie is Apocalypse Now.

Alex: I don’t have a favorite movie. I like documentaries.

AL: What are shows like in the Midwest?

Christian: Chicago was awesome. Nebraska and Detroit were so-so.

AL: You play in Texas all the time? Is it a good place for The Black Angels?

Alex: Not really. We have a hard time playing there. When we go to Houston,
people are not into this type of music. We are doing a bunch of shows with Blue
Cheer. It’s the first time they have played in a long time.

AL: I didn’t know Blue Cheer was still together.

Alex: We are going to do five shows with them. I think it’s two guys from the
original band. We are going to go through Texas and Oklahoma.

AL: Are you going to step it up for those shows?

Christian: You know it.

AL: If you guys do really well, you are going to blow them off the stage.

Alex: It’s going to be crazy.

AL: How do you make a setlist for a show?

Christian: Last night was different. We choose a new set for every show. When
we played the KEXP show we did the slower material. We did more of the mind
control stuff.

AL: People do get hypnotized in the audience. They look vulnerable. They look
open to suggestion.

Christian: It’s all mind control.

Alex: Like last night, you were asking if we were going to play for three
hours. If we had time we would have. But they had to close down the bar at 2am.
So it goes. Maybe later we will have more time to experiment.

AL: Are you going over to Europe soon?

Alex: Yeah. We have a record coming out there. It’s a seven inch single of
“The First Vietnamese Wear.” It will have a new song on there too. It will be
our first release over there.

Christian: We are going to put golden tickets in the single.

AL: What do they get if they win?

Alex: Lifetime pass to the shows? That would be cool.

AL: You always have David Bowie or Charles Manson on the list? They might
show up? I saw a funny name on there.

Alex: David Bowie was possibly going to come. Our manager is named Brian
Jones. Obviously it’s not the guy in the Rolling Stones.

Christian: It’s the real Brian Jones. It’s not that real Brian Jones. People
don’t believe that is his name. I knew Brian before the band ever started. We
both knew him from before. We didn’t have him involved with the band because
of his name. He was into the same sort of music.

AL: I think you are up here. It’s time for the sound check.

website: www.theblackangels.com

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The Duke Spirit

THE Duke Spirit
By alexander laurence

The Duke Spirit. I met them in New York City almost two years ago. I was sitting at the downstairs bar at the Bowery Ballroom. I think that we were all waiting for The Concretes to play upstairs. I found myself sitting next to Olly Betts and Liela Moss. They seemed like a colorful group. I looked around at them: “What band are you in?” Olly said “We are The Duke Spirit.” While everyone was hyped to see bands like The Arcade Fire that year at CMJ, I headed over to the Delancey at 4am. The Duke Spirit was playing very late. The show was awesome.

It’s two years later. We had to wait for a long time for The Duke Spirit to release their record here. We also had to wait for a while to see them live. One tour with Snow Patrol was canceled due to bad health. The bass player broke his arm at another time. Finally I caught them at a show in Spaceland in June 2006. I talked to Liela Moss for a little bit. Her voice was shot. She gave me a CD single. She was really nice. The show ended up being packed and alive with emotion. These songs were finally played on American shores after a long wait. I finally sat down with leader Luke Ford about all the madness surrounding the band. Their first record Cut Across The Land (2006) is out now. Go get it please.

Toby Butler: bass guitar
Luke Ford: guitars
Dan Higgins: guitars
Liela Moss: vocals
Olly Betts: drums

AL: The tour with Snow Patrol never really happened?

Luke: No. It was a tour of twenty or more dates. It was going to be the biggest tour we have ever done over here. We have done some big tours in the UK. We ended up doing four shows, in Denver, and Austin. It was great going back to Austin because we had done SXSW before. It was great going back to Stubbs. That is a great venue. Then the guy from Snow Patrol lost his voice after four shows. It was really annoying.

AL: It seems like a lot of British bands have been afflicted with throat problems. Snow Patrol, Razorlight, Subways, and others have all canceled shows. I think it might be better just to carry on, and say: “We have this problem, and just bear with us.” And the singer just does as much as he can, and the others pick up the slack, or the audience joins in?

Luke: It’s true. We did a tour with Ted Leo. He is from New York. Halfway the tour his voice was shot. He canceled one show. We played by ourselves. Then the next night he had fans getting up there and singing the songs. Maybe some of the British bands take things too serious. Maybe they have hardcore managers saying “You can’t go on, because you are going to miss all these TV shows.” British bands are more business-like. And American bands might have this work ethic that makes them want to go on. They like to keep the wagon rolling.

AL: Then it took a lot time for The Duke Spirit to come over here and play some shows that weren’t CMJ or SXSW shows?

Luke: Yeah. The record came out a year before in the UK than it did in America. It came out in March here. There was a lot of delays. We were signed to Universal Music in Britain. We were tied to them. When you are dealing with these big corporations, they dick around, and you never get a straight answers out of them. We weren’t help that much when we wanted to come to America. It was a bit of a joke really. But the record finally came out on Vagrant Records. It worked in the end.

AL: Some of these songs may be two or three years old now. Do you have a whole new set of songs ready? Are you ready to go into the next record?

Luke: It’s been weird. We are playing stuff from this album on this tour. But we have been playing some early songs too. We had a mini-album out before that. We like to break things up a bit. We like to throw in some new songs too. We have written about thirty new songs. We are ready to record the new album. We realize that the album is new here. People want to hear songs that they have been listening to at home. We have a big pool of songs now. So we can change the set every night.

AL: Is it like Déjà vu coming over here, and playing the old songs and trying to build it up again?

Luke: Not really. We touring all last year. We didn’t go to the rest of Europe until last November 2005. We were still playing the same sort of sets back then. We went home around Christmas. We started writing new shows around then, and at the beginning of the year we started demoing the new songs. We came back here in March. Even though we are playing those same songs, it hasn’t been THAT weird. It feels like we continuing were we left off last year.

AL: You were filming some things here at Spaceland. Was that a video?

Luke: I can’t remember what the TV show is called. We have been doing a lot of TV shows and radio. We did a cool thing in New York called Fearless Music. We did Carson Daly yesterday. We don’t get that show in Britain at all. They had some good bands on that show.

AL: Are you all from London?

Luke: None of us are from London. Liela was actually born in London, but she moved away as a child. We all live in London now. That sort of happened. I was studying English and Photography in Cheltenham, where Liela was growing up. She was doing an art course there. We met there. Cheltenham is near Bristol. It’s the West Country. Toby was going to college there too. We all moved to London with the idea of forming a band. We messed around for a few years with other people. We did a seven-inch. It was an acoustic thing. We were a band called Solomon.

AL: Where did the other members come from?

Luke: We reformed the band. The name “The Duke Spirit” came then. And the two other guys joined around then. Olly is from Ipswich, which is East of London. He is from the other side. We were friends with a band called the Beatings. The singer left that band and is in a new band called The Creepy Morons. The Beatings was a great band. They were friends of mine. They went in to record with Kevin Shields. His music is great, but he is a control freak. He ruined them, because he took two years to make their record. Bands that play rock and roll, like they do, and we do, you feed off of the live shows. And if you stay that long in the studio, it’s going to be a problem. We met Olly through the singer of that band, The Beatings.

AL: How do you write the songs in the band?

Luke: Early on, quite often it was me who came up with the music and Liela who came up with vocals to chord progressions I had worked out. Toby began to write quite a lot. Now it is quite even. The first album it is even, with Toby and me writing all the music, and Liela writing all the words. We are a band who jams it out in a rehearsal room. We write in a very traditional way. One of us will be at home. We will write on our own. We have distinct chorus/verse, melodies, middle eights, and so on.

AL: What is up with “Lion RIP?” Liela said that is an in-joke?

Luke: “Lion RIP” as a title? I don’t know where that came from. There are a few points in our first record where we are celebrating music. It is lyrically very simple. It’s a simple statement. The song is like “Roadrunner” by Modern Lovers. It’s a celebration of pop music.

AL: Songs like “Darling, You’re Mean” have a sense of humor. Is that’s Leila playing around with words?

Luke: Yeah, totally. They try to pigeonhole us as this dark band. I hate po-faced dark bands. Bands like The Pixies and The Cramps are fantastic. They have that fantastic sonic sound and drive. There is always a sense of humor. Bands that take themselves too seriously are lame. We don’t want to come from that direction. It’s not about how mysterious we are.

AL: Are you into the Blues?

Luke: We grew up listening to stuff from the Sixties. We like the Rolling Stones, but we like stuff like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds too. Nick Cave draws from that Blues sound and the folklore. That sound is great. That guitar sound on Howling Wolf records is just great. We touch on that now and again, but we don’t want to be a Blues band. There is a lot of that going on in England.

AL: How did you go about recording the album?

Luke: We met Simon Raymonde, who produced a majority of the album. We signed to a small label called City Rockers. We were listening to the Lift To Experience record. We were all into that. We realized that Simon did that record. He put that out on his label. So we got in touch with him. He only actually mixed that album. We got on with him so well. We found out he was in the Cocteau Twins. I am not a fan of the Cocteau Twin, but when you meet Simon he is so impressive as a human being. The way he talks about music. It was obvious that we had to work with him. We did most of the record with him. We also did a track with Giles Hall. And we had a few more tracks, so we also did some stuff with Flood, who mixed most of the record too. We wanted to try to work with a different producer. We liked the stuff that Flood did with Nick Cave and The Birthday Party.

AL: What other bands have you played with?

Luke: Early on we played with The Rapture. We did a tour with British Sea Power. We played with Mark Lanegan. We also did things like playing with Kasabian. It wasn’t like we want to tour with that band, we love their music. They were big shows. We realized that we would be playing to a lot of people. Maybe we would be playing to people who haven’t heard a band like us. They could go away thinking “Wow, that was something else.”

AL: The Duke Spirit is different in the sense that you have a female front person. Some people might be used to seeing a male vocalist or something.

Luke: It’s great. It’s great to have Liela there for you. There is a real lack of great female fronted bands. There is in Britain far more than here. It has to do with the British press. We always get this PJ Harvey comparison. PJ Harvey is great. I don’t think we sound anything like her.

AL: When you get a female in the band, they are always compared to other previous bands. Whereas if it a bunch of guys, they don’t really compare you so much.

Luke: I find that crazy because I see bands like Kaiser Chiefs and Franz Ferdinand. The guy in Kaiser Chiefs has the same haircut as Damon Albarn. He went to the same place. There are constant references to Blur.

AL: They listened to Parklife too many times?

Luke: Exactly.

AL: When are you going to do your next record?

Luke: We are going to do the next record out here in Los Angeles. We have been talking to some people. The producers that we have spoken with all seem to be based out here. We have written nearly thirty songs. We are going back to London now. After a break we are going to finish it up. We have to choose the songs. It was be hard. We are playing a festival in London. It’s an anti-racism thing. And then we are doing a little festival with British Sea Power. That is it really.

WEBSITE: www.dukespirit.com

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