Archive for the Interviews Category

Crash Chords Podcast Episode 2 Featuring the Wall Street Playaz

Posted in Albums, Bands, Events, Interviews, Music In General, Podcast, Songs, Tours and Live Shows on July 10, 2012 by mattstorm

This week we talk about the world’s largest drumsticks, a review of Cage The Elephant’s latest, we get up close and personal with the Wall Street Playaz and much more. Enjoy!

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Band Bonding: An Interview with Schäffer the Darklord

Posted in Bands, Interviews, Music In General on February 14, 2012 by mattstorm

Photo by Ben Trivett

I had the wonderful pleasure of sitting down with Schäffer the Darklord recently for an interview. He is truly a sweet, nerdy, and down to earth guy and we got to talk for quite some time about many different things and I discover as a fan myself that we had a lot in common from music to video game to movies and more.  I am very thankful that he took the time out to meet with me and talk. I hope you guys enjoy reading this at much as I did doing it. Enjoy!

Me:  How young were you when you first started having an interest in music?

Schäffer the Darklord:  The very earliest memories as young as possible. My dad and my older brother were both big into music and my mom too.  My earliest memories growing up were learning lyrics to The Beatles, The Doors and Led Zeppelin.  I’ve always had an interest in music.

Me: In school were you in the choir or anything like that?

Schäffer the Darklord: Oh yea I did the whole bit. I was in concert band, marching band, musical theater, chorus and jazz band. Any of the sort of music curriculum’s in high school I could do I did.

Me: My follow up to that question is did you always want to be a musician or did you have other interests at first?

Schäffer the Darklord:  When I was young and all of my friends wanted to be things like astronauts, you know those early really idealistic ambitious when I grow up type of things? The first thing that I remember wanting to be is a special effects artist for horror films.

Me: Wow that’s really specific.

Schäffer the Darklord: I just remember seeing movies possibly the Star Wars movies even before watching horror films and that’s what I wanted to do.  Then when I was in grade school I wanted to be a comic book artist. It was always dorky pop culture stuff. It was probably middle school/high school when I decided yes I want to be a musician.

Me: Did you always have an interest in hip hop?

Schäffer the Darklord: At first it was an interest in heavy metal I had always wanted to be a heavy metal drummer and I was for several years.  I played drums in a bunch of hard rock/metal/noise bands over the years.

Me: Did you have the long metal haircut?

Schäffer the Darklord: Oh god yes and I used to play shows and have large chunks of drumstick in my hair. Oh yea the whole bit.  I always enjoyed hip hop but my more directed early aspirations were to be a rock and roll drummer.  I didn’t try to start creating hip hop till I was in college but I can definitely say I always wanted to be an entertainer and music would be a part of that.

Me:  When I saw you perform live I noticed you are true and true a performer on stage. Yyou work the crowd, you were very funny like when you perform “Do Sex” and there is a lot of fan interaction.  I think that’s great. It’s always nice when it’s a give and take.

Schäffer the Darklord:  I cultivated that because I felt that when watching an energetic rock band there is always something for you eyes to look at like if you get tired of staring at the singer you could always look at the guitarist or the drummer and there is a lot more going on visually.When I started doing a one man rap show with pre recorded tracks I always felt self-conscious like this isn’t enough and that it might not be entertaining enough and it has to be big, there needs to be something for them to look at so I just gave them my arms waving them all over the place, pointing and gesturing wildly because I was like this will work if I exude a ton of energy they won’t get tired of watching. I wanted to do something that I wouldn’t get tired of watching. When I first started doing it is when I moved to San Francisco and I had already been recording rap songs but didn’t think the songs themselves  were enough so on top of cultivating this hyper energetic persona I also did a lot of standup comedy open mics just so I could not necessarily just be funny but more so get used to working with transitional material to keep the audience engaged because I would get so bored when I would go to see rap acts and they would be like song, intro, song it was more of a recital than a performance.

Me: I mean yeah if you want to hear song, intro, song you could just listen to the album.

Schäffer the Darklord: Yea if people wanted to be watching someone standing in place they could just see a DJ and watching someone playing the songs when they could just be listening to it.

Me: Apart from music what do you when you want to relax or unwind?

Schäffer the Darklord:  Pretty much everything, I’ m a collection of stereo types, you could look at me and pretty much tell I like watching movies, playing video games I have a PS3, I read comic books.

Me: Impromptu question who is your favorite superhero?

Photo by Ben Trivett

Schäffer the Darklord:  It’s Batman. How could you not even with all the bad material out there is so much content that it just gets drowned out.

Me: Have you played Arkham City?

Schäffer the Darklord: Of course!

Me: When you’re writing what comes first the music or the lyrics?

Schäffer the Darklord: It’s different every time. There  isn’t just a formula. Often times I’ll write lyrics that I’ll just sleep on for months.  I’ll get this great idea for a song but just wait on it because I don’t have the right beat for it and then right beat comes along and it works.  Sometimes I’ll get a beat and immediately be inspired and then I’ll get the lyrics for it. Sometimes I’ll get down to the end of the barrel and I’ll just have some loose ends here and there like here are a few verses I wrote towards a concept and  a chunk of a beat that I haven’t used yet and I’ll start shoving things together till something works.  Sometimes that really works out and I end up with a song that I wasn’t expecting. Most of the time though it just ends up as a filler track on the record but yes every time is different.

Me: What is your favorite album of all time?

Schäffer the Darklord:  If I had to pick just one it would be Check Your Head by the Beastie Boys. I know even among hardcore Beastie Boy fans it’s not a popular answer. Check Your Head was the first one where they really did that combination of experimental hip hop with combined instrumental stuff and it still really felt kind of raw. I like a good record where it sounds like the artists don’t really know what they’re doing going into it and they’re figuring it out as they go. I feel like after Check Your Head it became a formula. Subsequent albums they were like “well we have X number of rap songs and X number of instrumental songs and  we have one good punk rock jam and one good kind of somber instrumental.” With Check Your Head it felt so urgent and real and I’ll just never be able to get enough of that record.

Me: How did you get involved in the nerdcore scene?

Schäffer the Darklord: I feel they adopted me. I had already been doing my act for a few years, I had put out my first record and done some modest touring to hand full’s of people who didn’t like me and were just strangers in dive bars across America just sort of chipping away at it. There was this old forum of torrents in the early days of nerdcore where all aspiring nerd rappers were posting stuff and some body on one of those forums had posted a link to something of mine and was like hey I think this guy counts cause I had glasses and I was singing ridiculous songs about Satan. I mean let’s face it even the hardcore metal bands like the black metal bands that wear all the Goth make up and they pose in the forest at night for black and white photographs are such dorks when it comes to that stuff. It’s all nerdy fantasy.  I feel some savvy early nerdcore fans pick up like that guy counts and I just found out that they had been discussing me on these forums.  I think MC Frontalot taking me on tour with him and playing for a bunch of his diehard fans across the country really drove it home.  I never had to come out and declare “Hey guys me too!” they decided for me and they were like “No you’re one of us.”

Me: What’s your favorite kind candy or chocolate bar?

Schäffer the Darklord:  I would say Hersey’s Special Dark. I love dark chocolate I know it seems like the obvious thing to say because of my stage name but I do love it. That’s my jam!

Me:  My favorite happens to be Kitkat.

Schäffer the Darklord: Kitkat’s are also awesome.

Me: Was there a specific musician or band that has influenced you and your music most?

Schäffer the Darklord: Probably the Beastie Boys. I remember being 10 years old when MTV premiered the video for No Sleep Till Brooklyn and it’s one of those things that if someone were to do a bio film about my life that would be a scene.  Me just watching it with my jaw a gape “there’s like electric guitars in this and heavy metal drums and they’re are just a bunch of goofy white guys rapping about bullshit and having fun and one guy is wearing a suit of armor!” It just blew my mind and I feel like I ended up doing what I do not just because the Beastie Boys but also because of that moment and that video. It had such an effect on me and I’ve remained a fan of them ever since.  I’ve seen them live a bunch of times. A couple of their shows still remain some of the best live music performances I’ve ever seen.  They are the closest thing I have to religion.

Me:  I have a Fan Question from Mary she would like to know Which darklord inspired your stage name?

Schäffer the Darklord: Oh! Darth Vader the Darklord of the Sith. In the original movies they never refer to him as the Darklord of the Sith but there was a picture book that came out for one the movies and it was in that where they refer to Darth Vader as the Darklord of the Sith and I never forgot that I was like “Yeah that’s badass!” So I hung on to that because I frickin love Darth Vader since I was a little guy. Yea it’s been one of my consistent interests since childhood, Darth Vader and Batman. I’ve never stopped being enamored by those characters.

Me: For me my favorites are Boba Fett and The Joker

Me: Is there anything new coming up you want to let your fans know about?

Schäffer the Darklord: I am working on a new album right now. I hope to have it out by the end of the year. We’ll see out it goes because I’m not just recording but I’m still writing. I’m on a more focused regimen now to try and get the a fourth record out this year. So I’m still writing so I’m chipping away at that and I’ll probably shoot  a couple of music video this summer and then when the record comes out there will be touring because that’s the thing fans give me a lot of grief about if I put anything on facebook on the Schaffer the Darklord profile anything like “Oh my god you guys this orange juice is delicious” there will be at least one person “come back to South Carolina!” all the time and I don’t slight them for that because I understand and I’m touched that they want to see me so badly and I understand it’s got to be frustrating when a lot of the other artist they like come through every 6 months or so and I don’t. I tend to keep my tour focused when I have a new album to support.

Me: Did you grow up in New York?

Schäffer the Darklord: No I grew up in rural Iowa and then I moved to California, I lived in the bay area for several years and then moved here.  I have only lived in New York for eight years so I’m still pretty new to New York. I mean I don’t feel like a tourist anymore but I know that I’m a bit of a newbie.

Me: What was it like in rural Iowa?

Schäffer the Darklord: We only had 1,800 people in our town. No stop lights and trackers driving on main streets.

Me: Do you miss it?

Schäffer the Darklord: God no! I miss my family. I go back and see them every couple of years but I’ll stop in Iowa on tour in the college towns in Iowa City which is on the other side of the state and still not see my family because it’s four hours away.  I don’t get to make it back to my little corner of the state very often. I went this year and it was great to see my family. Whenever I go back I just think how can I be a rapper living in new your when I grew up here?

Me: Tomgirl happens to be one of my favorite songs.  I can relate to it. What inspired you to write it?

Schäffer the Darklord: It very much is a true story. It’s a personal experience. I’ve always felt like since I’m a little bit weak and I’ve never been stereotypically macho or into typically macho thing and I don’t just mean I like comic book not watching professional football it goes deeper than that.  I felt like I spent most of my adult life smirking at rumors that I’m gay which I’m not but friend of mine had a term for it something like ” I’m not gay I just have sugar.” and I always liked that but it wasn’t quite right. I felt like I’m not the only guy that must feel like this and it was very common to hear growing up “oh that girl doesn’t like to wear dresses and she wants to play in the mud. She’s a tomboy” but never really heard it said the other way and thought that wasn’t fair and there had to be others out there who were heterosexual men who just happen to be pretty effeminate and into stereotypical girly things. I also felt this song was great opportunity to poke fun at things that are masculine and feminine. These things are all insignificant and don’t really matter like in the song I mention the I love watching America’s Next Top Model and I do I love that show but it doesn’t mean anything.  I love that show so frickin much it’s like sports to me! It’s just poking fun at if you like “this” but don’t like “this” your somehow non gender conformist. I had gotten fascinated with the idea of gender politics and I thought I’d write a song for people who felt similarly. I felt that giving it a title gave me the ability to poke fun at it.

Me: What’s your favorite movie of all time?

Schäffer the Darklord: Empire Strikes Back.

Me: Without a second thought!

Schäffer the Darklord: I feel like I should even say it because it’s so cliché to say but I’ve been saying that since I was kid that’s why it’s so well rehearsed.  I don’t know if it can truly be considered one of the greatest movie of all time because it’s hinged on two other movies and doesn’t stand alone. Within that universe of films it’s just amazing. It’s a masterpiece of filmmaking.  If I had to choose outside of that I wouldn’t say this is the best movie but it definitely deserves more recognition than it got. From Dusk Till Dawn. I love that movie so much and in college I worked in a video store and it blew my mind so I forced upon all my friends. Even customers I would be like “You’ve got to see this!” to all of my friends. Unfortunately so many of them were just disappointed and thought it was garbage. I could watch it all the time and I would never get tired of it. It’s just so well paced, fun, exciting and weird. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite movie of all time but it’s one of them and definitely under appreciated.

Me: For me it’s Scott Pilgrim Versus The World.

Schäffer the Darklord: Scott Pilgrim is also a hard contender as well.  Me and my girlfriend saw it in the theater last summer and just walked out of it with our minds kind of blown and then she’s such a sweetheart she bought it for me for my birthday on DVD and we’ve probably watch a dozen times.

Me: My girlfriend had to tell me to stop at one point because I was watching it at home, on my iPod and I was listening to the soundtrack all the time.

Schäffer the Darklord: Oh my god! Me too! I was watching all the time.

Me: Do you believe social networking has hindered or helped you to connect with the fans? As well the music industry itself?

Schäffer the Darklord: It has only helped my connection with my fans. I feel like I would be nothing without the prevalence of social networking. It allowed people to share my songs which turns other people into fans and it allows me to connect with them so I can get back to them and actually interface online. I feel social networking has built my notoriety. As far as the music industry is concerned I feel social networking has all but destroyed the music industry. We don’t need it anymore. Artists can now release their stuff on their own and get it directly to their fans without the need of big labels. By enlarge we don’t them anymore. Record labels barely have a relevance except for the major labels but the smaller and middle level ones don’t really have a place anymore because of social networking.  It used to be a thing the dream was to get signed by a label but that not something anybody even really says anymore.

Me: What was the video shoot for “The Bender” like?

Schäffer the Darklord: Brutal!

Me: Really?

Schäffer the Darklord: Yeah we shot it over four days.  We did two days over a weekend and then shot the rest of it a month or two later.  There was a big break between shoots and they were just long days,  twelve hour shoots and multiple locations. It was exhausting and I suffered some injuries on it.  The bit at the end  when I’m flying around on the glowing box, I’m tethered into the back of a pickup truck and we’re just doing donuts in a parking lot in Red Hook at like three in the morning at the end of a day of shooting all day long.  Yea I definitely got beat up a bit.  The director Burke Heffner abused me a bit but it all worked out in the end. The shots where it’s close up on my face and hands are just handing me things. The pills aren’t real but all the weed is and we shot that for like 4 hours.  He told there was an alternative that we can burn that looks like smoke but I’ll be upfront I’m a total pothead so I was like we’ll do this for real.  It was a lot of fun to shoot. All of those people we great I got so many of my friends from the New York Burlesque scene. They all came out and worked the long hours and gave great performances. Burke was amazing and did a really great job. He’s a very talented filmmaker and I felt really lucky that he was interest in doing a project. I’m completely happy with how it came out but I had a rough couple of weekends. I remember the fake cocaine scenes that had people just dumping pounds and pounds of this baking soda on top of me and then going home and showering it just being everywhere.

Me: My last (and kind of cliché question) is do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring musicians?

Schäffer the Darklord: That’s a good question. I would say learn your craft before you try to make a name.  I know there so many people who just learn the very basics of an instrument or get a group together with only a couple of songs and then immediately go out and play a show and it could be because of our social network/instant gratification generation but they play one show and they’re already trying to book more shows, design a logo and make t-shirts and stickers when they would just get more benefit from spending some more time learning their craft. I feel this translates especially well to nerdcore rappers because I wrote songs on my four track for years and years before I ever did a show. I must have recorded 40 or 50 songs before I ever did a live show and they were terrible and no one will ever hear them and there are people out there who want to but most fans are never going to hear that shit and shouldn’t because I feel like there are a ton of people who have been inspired by MC Frontalot and other nerdcore rappers and they take a quick tutorial on garage band and make a song about their favorite video game without knowing how to rap yet.  Maybe go out write a ton of shitty rap songs first before you do the ones about the stuff you like and shoe horn it into the flavor you want.  I feel like learning to create your art before booking an act is key.  Get some chops before you start putting yourself out there.

For Schäffer the Darklord’s Facebook Fan Page click here

For Schäffer the Darklord’s Twitter click here

Band Bonding: An Interview with Marian Call

Posted in Albums, Bands, Interviews, Music In General on January 25, 2011 by mattstorm

I recently had the wonderful pleasure of interviewing Marian Call.  I first discovered her awesome music when I saw w00tstock back on October 29th, 2010.  She was super nice and I had a blast talking to her!

Me: Thank you so much for agreeing to do this. I’m really excited and I’m a big fan. I first heard you at w00tstock. I saw you at the New York show.

Marian: That was my favorite. A smaller audience, but higher energy.

Me:  What band or artist has influenced you the most?

Marian: Musically or businesswise?

Me: Musically, but both.

Marian: Joni Mitchell. They Might Be Giants. They might be the two biggest childhood to adulthood influences.

Me: Growing up I loved They Might Be Giants. Where did the idea to use a typewriter as a musical instrument come from?

Marian: I wanted it in a piece of mine. I wanted it to suggest the cultural references that come along with a typewriter.   It seemed topical.  People said why not play one live. I thought it’d be weird but it was a great idea.

Me: It was fun when you played your geek anthem live. You referenced all things I know and love. That was one of the biggest things that I came home to talk about, you left an impression. How did you get involved with w00tstock?

Marian: I got a phone call one day, really. Shocking and unexpected. I had heard about w00tstock and thought it was awesome.  One day I got twitter messages, e-mail and a phone call from Paul of Paul & Storm. I was tongue-tied.  I didn’t know why they thought of me but it was all fan recommendations. Fans are good stalkers like that. I said I don’t know if you want me and I don’t know if you realize that my internet friends are louder than my actual reach. I’ll show up in a town and be lucky if I get 15 people in a show. I first performed at  w00tstock in San Diego, it was like an audition. Mostly getting to know the guys. They invited me back to NY and Boston, with a longer set. I was the only girl on stage, it felt like they needed me.  I was very happy to be asked back. I’ll have to bake them cookies.

Me: What was or is your favorite board game?

Marian: I really like a lot of games. My current favorite is a new game called Ingenious. It won game of the year last year It’s like a cross between Mastermind, Othello and Chinese Checkers. It has a board with colored octagons that you manipulate. It’s fantastic, played it nonstop. I also love Carcazan and Settlers of Catan, and one called Gloom.  It’s a card game.  It’s relatively new.  You have to make other players sad to win and make your opponents players happy in order to make them lose.

Me:  What is your process like for writing new music?

Marian: Very quick. Lyrics first. I often get out the rhyming dictionary. I’m very into rhyming and syllables, and then melody later. Finally the chorus last. Most of my songs are written pretty quick. I usually don’t struggle with a song. I use the left brain approach, piece it together like a math problem. Melody work is to make sure I’m not plagiarizing other songs. I go back through iTunes to make sure I’m not emulating something I’ve been listening to. I approach it as a craft. I tinker with it. I have a degree in composition. Music writing isn’t hard for me. The booking is more difficult.

Me: Does what you learned in school help in your music career?

Marian: Yeah, I think so. I think there’s something good about going back to learn the fundamentals.  I’m not doing 17th century counterpoint, but it’s still good to learn. I thought for a while I wouldn’t use it. I saw it as enriching even if it was a waste, but since I am in music it all works out. I highly recommend it. A lot of people skip the school part of being creative. you can, but the value of getting your fundamentals is underrated.

Me:  What is your favorite geeky movie?

Marian: I need specifics.

Me: What do you currently adore the most.

Marian: Scott Pilgrim!

Me: What other interests do you have outside of music?

Marian: Tons and tons of things. I love film and poetry. I love the internet and pop culture, NPR, photography, and I’m pretty much into everything. I’m game for a lot. Except for very technical how to stuff. Not interested in car engines or hard drives. Almost everything else I enjoy in conversation or learning about. I will sit through a lecture on just about any subject.

Me: What was it like doing a tour of all 50 states?

Marian: It was really cool to meet a lot of my online friends in person. That was my favorite part. It was exhausting and very, very, very fun. It’s a wide question in scope. I was completely reliant on my fans for the entire thing. I was completely trusting them.

Me: Sounds like you have a great community formed with your fans. A great commonality.

Marian: Genuinely like talking to my fans and seeing on twitter what’s going on in their lives. It’s a mutual thing.

Mary:  Have you considered other quirky/mundane items to use as instruments?

Marian: I use a rain stick, a kazoo, I use bells, hammers, sandpaper, all kinds of weird shakers, funny stuff like buttons, I actually have to look at my track list. I think that’s about it. I use a lot of alternative instruments also like banjo, tuba, piccolo, etc.

Me: I really love “We’re Out For Blood”. The live version is awesome. “Vanilla” is the song that got me hooked.

Me: Would you like your fans to know anything else?

Marian: I plan on touring Europe this summer. If anyone would like to see me in their town, please contact me. I’m also working on a new album. If anyone wants to hear updates on that, just message me on Twitter.

You can also find Marian Call on her Twitter here, her Facebook fan page here and her website here

*Update: 01-26-11 This is the postcard Marian Call sent me.  Awesome!

 

*Special thanks to my beautiful and awesome girlfriend Mary who helped me put this together.

Band Bonding: An Interview with Kelly-O of The Dollyrots

Posted in Bands, Interviews, Music In General on July 14, 2010 by mattstorm

I had the pleasure of speaking with the lovely, talented, and and super-sweet Kelly-O from The Dollyrots.  We chatted about everything from their latest album; which drops this August, to cooking vegetables!  Here it is!  I hope you enjoy it!

Me:  How did the band get together?

Kelly-O: I  knew Luis in high school and wanted to learn to play guitar. He was that kind of dark music playing smart kid that knew to play guitar so I asked him to teach me.  After that, we both went to the same college.

Me:   When writing the new album where did you draw inspiration from?

Kelly-O: Lots of places, a lot of it came from rethinking the whole band. We’ve all been doing it for a while and we’ve learned a lot as musicians, grown as individuals, seen people make mistakes, and did some awesome shit. We stay up to date with what’s happening in the world. Some of it comes out of desperation and despair, frustration.  I think a lot of it came from trying to find our place and not over thinking it at the same time.

Me:  What are some of your other interests besides music?

Kelly-O:  I have always loved animals. That’s why you’ll never see us without a tour pet. I have a biology degree and planned on doing something professional, still might. At home I have a cat, a plant, fish tanks, things that I take care of. I like old people, children, punk rockers.  I enjoy cooking awesome vegetarian food, salad and cans of beans.  I’m a really messy neat freak;  I leave crap all over the place yet I’mconstantly cleaning. I’m a Gemini, some people like to know that stuff. I like painting my apartment crazy colors, I craft and bake as well. My etsy store: etsy.com/shop/prettypunkshop . I make them on tour and also take requests.

Me:  What band or artist has influenced you the most?

Kelly-O:  It’s funny because I was asked same question earlier, and ended up going on a long winded speech. I feel kind of weird, I listen to other artists. I’m a music fan, never gravitated towards one person, writer, band, or  individual. It’s kind of strange. I don’t have an idol or band that I look up to. I am a creation of my influence like riot girl, grunge, cheesy 80s 90s pop music. I’ve been thinking about this for 2 hours now.  One thing has not influenced me in any particular way. I suck influence out of other things. I feel like it’s kind of weird. For example, Nirvana! I love Nirvana, but I don’t feel like they made me want to do this. Just me, Luis, and Chris. That’s it.

Me:  Was music always your first career choice?  If not what was?

Kelly-O:  When I was a little kid, I felt like I was going to be a ballerina. I took ballet classes and sucked. I was the fat kid in class. That did nothing for my psyche. After that, I decided to try soccer. I did that for a while, I was not good at it. Then I picked up guitar, it finally felt right. I thought, this I could maybe be good at if I practice for years and years and don’t over think it. I never thought of myself as front woman  or singer. I never sought out spot light. This record makes me feel comfortable. On the front of the record, it’s just me, and only me. It felt weird. The guys were said “You sing, you play, you write songs with Luis, it should be you.” I gradually found my way through. That’s a lot of what this record is about in some strange way.

Me: When my girlfriend found out you guys were opening for Bowling For Soup she and I got really excited!

Kelly-O:  For people to show up and be shocked and excited, it’s awesome. It made so much sense. I’ve been friends with Chris (from BFS)  since our first record. When we were wrapping up recording, we decided let’s get back out on the road. I e-mailed him about a tour, management took over and then there we were. We’re actually leaving again with them soon. We’re like one happy family. We want to have a band marriage soon.

Me: That’d be hot. What is your favorite album of all time?

Kelly-O:  When I was really little it was the Dirty Dancing Soundtrack, which there are a lot of really cool oldie songs on there. From there, we went to …I went through my Madonna phase, Cyndi Lauper, and Hole’s Live Through This (Luis actually loaned me that CD to me  when I asked to learn to play guitar). Elastica made me love bass. Nirvana’s Bleach I will always love. So much music, I just listen to my iPod on shuffle all the time.  I have an iPhone and I have an iTouch, I hate them both. I can’t fit everything on either.  Sonic youth, Experimental Jetset. There are certain songs and certain records. Flogging Molly! There’s so much good music.

Me:  Did you take lessons to learn to play your instruments or are you self taught?

Kelly-O: Luis taught me bar chords and tab. I’m still kind of there. I learned scales. Most of it is instinctual, going with what feels right, sounds right. I never learned to sing but that happens when it has to. Luis has been my best teacher. We have our own language when play things. People ask me to teach them bass, I guess they would have to learn my bass jargin and move on from there. It’s flattering that someone thinks I play well enough to ask for lessons. Luis gives guitar and Chris gives drum lessons. Chris has been known to wake up early in the morning to give lessons while on tour. He’ll do almost anything for money (wink, wink).

Me:  Do you have any tour horrors stories? If so, what happened?

Kelly-O: The first thing that comes to mind is going on tour the end of January, once we did west coast up through Washington state. It was me, our previous drum Amy Wood, and Luis. We drove up, through Tacoma. We were all sunshine kids so none of us had experienced snow. We start getting closer and the snow is coming down heavier. We buy tire chains just in case, but never think to learn how to put them on. The snow gets heavier and heavier, so we put on the tire chains before we go through the pass. We pulled over and it’s not a blizzard but it’s snowing hard core. There’s six inches of snow and all we’re wearing  are hoodies with light jackets,  jeans, and chuck taylors. We get out of the van, and never having practiced putting them on, struggle our way through it. We get up the mountain, and start hearing this fwap fwap fwap noise every time the tire goes around. One of the chains broke and was destroying the fender.  We pulled over where you’re not allowed to pull over and it was the driver’s side tire. We were knee deep in black ice sludge stuff, it’s raining, trucks are going by us at 80 miles an hour, spraying snow on us. We’re trying to undo the chain. Our hands were  frozen, fingers wouldn’t work. We all go on the other side of the van and I’m pretty sure we all started to cry. I figured we’re going to get hit by a truck or have to sleep in the van that night. At this point I’m really mad, I wrapped my arms around the chain and undid it. We drove 15 mph over the pass. I vowed to never do it again in January to February, but we did and that time I sprained my ankle on black ice.  It’s long bad tour story, but my favorite.

Reader questions.

Mary asks:  How does pop culture effect your music?

It’s inevitable. We are all very plugged in, sit on phones, check news apps, go to other tabloid apps. We’re influenced by things around us. We don’t have cable or satellite radio. Through music you always know what’s going on. We always know what movies are coming out. I think pop culture is important, it’s important to know what people think about, care about, the general consciousness. Jackie Chan was written with our first bassist, he was a into martial artists and my mom is a big Jackie Chan fan. He is my favorite celebrity sighting in Hollywood. I took the subway, got off, and see millions of people across the street. I’m walking around, trying to cross the street. Jackie Chan comes running down the street in this awesome beige suit, waving at everyone. I wonder if he knows about the song, I want him to hear it.

Anastasia asks:  What is your favorite vegetable?

Kelly-O: Cucumbers. Actually, I think it’s peppers. I said cucumbers because they’re fresh and good in salads, and they balance beans well. If it’s non-salad, then the pepper family. I carry cayenne pepper in my purse.  I replaced dairy with spiciness any kind of pepper, pickled jalapeno.

Me:  As a little kid and even now I loved to eat bell peppers like apples.

Kelly-O: Now that we’re grownups, red peppers are so expensive! It sucks! Recently I found them for  10 for 10 dollars. I’m not kidding. I bought 10. I felt like it was kind of gross but I ate them all in a few days.

Me:  You’ve been great! I’ve been very lucky to interview so many awesome people for my blog and they were all super nice.

Kelly-O: They’re all people, unless they’re a weird alien artist creature, but that I highly doubt. Most people are just people, which is awesome.


I had a blast doing this interview!  I want to thank the amazing Kelly-O(left) for her time and awesomeness and I want to thank my wonderful girlfriend Mary(right) for helping with the interview.   Make sure you check out their new album which comes out August 17th!  You can find the band on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.  Kelly is also on Twitter

Band Bonding: An Interview with Mike Phirman

Posted in Bands, Interviews, Music In General on June 14, 2010 by mattstorm

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Phirman, a comedy musician.   He recently released his record The Very Last Songs I Will Ever Record (Volume One) and I will have a review of this awesome record soon to come.  Mike was also a part of the comedy duo Hard ‘n’ Phirm with G4 personality and funny man Chris Hardwick.  I had the honor of talking to Mike on Skype and here is a transcript of our interview.  Enjoy!

Me:  It’s clear by listening to your new album that you have many musical influences. What artists have influenced your work the most?

Mike: I would say music wise definitely Stevie Wonder inspires me the most.  If I could be like 70’s and early 80’s Stevie Wonder that’s the best to me especially his funk.   The song Street Meat to me is my sound. But then I’ve always liked the Beaches Boys and I’ve always liked things with harmonies because I’ve always found harmonizing to be a lot of fun.  Weird Al as well.  Definitely my main three are Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys and Weird Al.

Me:   When writing what comes first the joke or the music?

Mike: Actually some of them are marriages of two totally random things.   I think the easiest ones the joke comes first because that’s usually from listening to something and saying you know what, that would be funny to put something different in there like the song “Lollytown” which is this concert and Rage Against The Machine cancels and they just put in place this little goof ball band and the crowd goes nuts.  That was one of those where nothing really funny  in that happens  and then the crowd goes bananas for this band that otherwise would probably  get murdered.   So from that point of view that’s one where the song doesn’t really matter.  The ones that tend to be more difficult are the ones that start with an idea and the music like the song “Street Meat” and saying I think it would be a cool idea to do a song about street meat.  Me and my wife were walking past a street meat vendor and started singing that hook and then I have to write lyric after lyric for a song about street meat.

Me:  Were you always interested in doing comedy music or did you start out as only one over the other?

Mike:  Well I guess it’s gone kind of back and forth really I mean I think I started doing comedy music whatever that is when you’re in high school, just doing goofy songs but not with full intent of this is it! It was just fun to do and I’ve always had a four track and I because ya know just hated girls and sex. Then I played in a little cover band for fun and I played bass for my church in high school.  So there has always been an interest.  I loved just putting on random music and just playing along with it seriously but I don’t think I’d be able to seriously record because I’d get to a point where I think it’s a decent song and then  I would have to write a joke or I would shrivel.

Me:  How did Hard ‘n’ Phirm come together?

Mike:  That was at UCLA and we were both in a comedy club that got together once a week and just hashed out comedy stuff or in my case at that time I was just doing basic guitar comedy and Chris was doing stand up and we hung out for a little while.  It turned out he had a great voice and we had half similar sensibilities and we started out doing these terrible acts like dueling Homer Simpsons and stuff like that or something like let’s do a Blind Melon song.  At one point there was a contest on campus called Spring Sing so we decided to do a bunch of 80’s songs but in an unplugged style and we ended up winning that and it made us realize hey we got a thing here and it totally worked out because ya know Chris also hated girls and sex.

Me:  In the Nerdist Podcast you talk about how you survey a town by how well Spiderman could survive there which gave me a good laugh.  Are you a big comic book fan if so what are some of your favorite stories or characters?

Mike:  I’m actually not a big comic book guy however I am a big superhero guy but I also tended to be more into movies and soundtracks.  So I don’t know why but I’ve never really got into the reading aspect of it which I know I should.   I have read some and I’ve been like damn this is great! I’ve always just been more of a superhero guy in movies and in theory.  If they ever made a comic about a guy watching superhero movies I’m in! In fact the only thing I got into more than the movies was the games like Spiderman The Game.  When we get to a point where we can just plug in and I can be Spiderman or I can be Superman then I  probably wouldn’t care about the music, the movie or the comics. At that point I’m just going to go live in that world.

Me:  Do you plan on going on tour?

Mike:  I would love to but I don’t have a plan to yet.   On Tuesday I’m going to be doing a half hour show at the UCB Theater and that’s going to really be the first show aside from the Nerdist Podcast.  Some of the stuff is hard to translate from the album on to the stage with one dude there because when I’m in the studio I can just add another track and then add another track and you know what  I feel like having twenty dudes singing behind me or twenty girls singing behind me but then live it’s a guy and a guitar but in short  I would very much hope yes I would like to do that.

Me:  What was your favorite record growing up?

Mike:  My favorite record would be the Soundtrack to Superman: The Movie.  My favorite song is I Wish by Stevie Wonder.  My favorite moment in music is there is a 12 or maybe 15 second turn around in the 1812 Overture that boggles my mind.   Then there are things like when I was working on the cover art for the album I listen to the Star Trek 2 Soundtrack nonstop.

Me:   I know recently you had a child and congratulations!  Do you think being a father will influence your music and comedy?

Mike:  Definitely!  It already has.  Well for one there is a song that is a take on the Wiggles.  I like the idea of being family friendly. Of course I say that but then me and Chris have a song called Super Fucking High.  I do thou prefer to be funny without cursing and when it comes to him being older I would like to do things that he can enjoy too but with that I don’t want to go the route of Jar Jar Binks.  I mean I would still rather have a planet of Wookies than Ewoks even thou they’re cute and kids love them.  All thou there are people who are asking me if I’m performing and I tell them no and yes.  Not really performing outside these days but constantly performing and playing with my son and he gives me a ton of idea as well.

Me:  How did you come up with “Chicken Monkey Duck”?

Mike:  That is one of those ones that the idea and the music are two different things.   The words, “the lyrics”, are just something I’ve always done as a little freestyle thing when I’m doing busy work I’ll do that in my head for over the last 20 years or so.  I don’t know why I guess because of all the “K” sounds for like a little percussive freestyle. Then I had a little song going and I figured what the hell I’m going to lay a track of me freestyling  over that and it sounded ok.  After recording that I figure I should make a little video for that dropping picture of a duck when it says a duck and it’s nothing revolutionary but what the hell.  So I did that and then I was like I should perform this live… Shit! Now I have to memorize the exact order I did on that one random night so that was the only part that was like AWWW Why?! After listening to it a couple of hundred times I finally got it memorized.

Check out Mike Phirman’s record here!

Band Bonding: A Review of Hypnogaja’s album Truth Decay and an Interview with Hypnogaja

Posted in Albums, Bands, Interviews on May 8, 2010 by mattstorm

Hypnogaja is a modern rock band from Los Angeles,  California.  They have a sound that fits in very well with the likes of some of the bands they’ve toured with, like Shinedown and Saliva.  I had the pleasure of conducting an email interview with the band recently, but before we get to that let’s talk a little about their latest record: Truth Decay.

Truth Decay is the band’s fifth studio album to date.  The first single off the new record was the song “The March”  which is a rocking anthem about not giving up and doing whatever it takes to soldier on.  The band gets a lot of support especially for the latest record through the use of their twitter and facebook pages.  This album is definitley in my belief the their best record to date.  The band has made amazing music in the past and this record just feels like the next natural step in the band’s evolution.

As always, I have a favorite song off the record. It was tough to choose just one, but when pressed I would definitley say “Static”.  The tempo in this song is almost hypnotic.  The lyric I favor most from the song would have to be “I search for signs, Of another who can bring me back to life, I hear the sound, Of static.”

If you like modern rock and Nu-Metal then you’ll love Truth Decay.  It’s a brilliant record from start to finish and will definitley keep you rocking through the day.  This band is definitley the life blood of what I personally think rock music should be.  The instrumentation and fantastic writing this band puts on display is what the world of rock should take notice of.

Now, as promised, the interview with the band.  I want to thank all of Hypnogaja for taking time to answer these questions for me and their other fans as well.  I would also like to especially thank their keyboard player Mark Donikian, with whom I’ve been in constant email contact with. This would not have been possible without his help.

*Crash Chords:   What band or musician most influenced your sound as a band?

Hypnogaja:  We are influenced by so much music – and so many different types of artists- that this question is literally impossible to answer. Our iPods are all over the map, with music from different decades and genres. On any given day in the van, you might hear songs by Pink Floyd, Portishead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Prince, Gnarls Barkley, Metallica, Alice In Chains, Donna Summer, Massive Attack, Eurythmics, Fleetwood Mac, KISS, Nirvana, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, The Beastie Boys, Blondie, Stone Temple Pilots, Bernard Herrmann, Marvin Gaye and more, more, more. We can’t get enough music into our ears.

*Crash Chords:   How did you come up with your band name?*

Hypnogaja:  It’s derived from “hypnagogia” – a term that ShyBoy (our vocalist) first heard in psych class. Basically, it’s a lucid dream – the state your mind falls into as you drift into sleep. This transitional state has been long regarded by scientists, philosophers and artists to be a highly creative moment for the human mind.

*Crash Chords:   How did the band get together?*

Hypnogaja:  Most of us migrated to Los Angeles for one reason or another. One of us is a native to SoCal. We all found ourselves in this band because we share a love for writing and performing music. Hypnogaja started out more as a studio project, with heavy electronic leanings. As people have come in to the group, our sound has evolved and gone in different directions with each album – not because of a lack of musical identity but because of our thirst for creative exploration.

*Crash Chords:   Where do you seek inspiration from when writing new music?*

Hypnogaja:  From everywhere. Writing is so intangible. You can sit in front of your notepad, keyboard, computer, with your guitar, etc. one day and nothing comes out – and then on a different day, some great new idea flows from seemingly nowhere. It’s all about tapping into the stream at the right time, when you’re in the right frame of mind.

*Crash Chords:   What interests do you have outside of music?*

Hypnogaja:  We all have very different personalities, which I think makes for a really interesting collaboration. Our collective interests run the gamut from films, books, record collecting, comic books, live concerts/theater to various sports (especially hockey and baseball), travel and, of course, amusement parks of any kind.

*Crash Chords:   What is your favorite food?*

Hypnogaja:  Several of us have gotten hooked on the Food Network, and we’ve been enjoying shows like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives – where the host goes around and eats at the best diners in America. I think we all enjoy a good steak, there’s some avid sushi fans and there’s always room for home-baked desserts. On tour, our best meals are the ones that are home-cooked by fans, friends and family. You can only eat at so many gas stations and truck stops before you start needing some real nutrition.

*Reader Questions*

*Mary asks*
*7.  What made you write music for the Looking Glass Wars?*

Hypnogaja:  “Looking Glass” and “Lullaby” were both songs that already existed in our catalog when our publisher sent them to Frank Beddor, author of the Looking Glass Wars. When Frank and his team heard the songs, they thought they were a great fit with the book and they included the tracks on the book’s soundtrack, as well as the audio version of the book released by Scholastic.

*Veronica asks*
*8.   Where do you see yourselves, say, 10 years from now?*

Hypnogaja:  Our dream is to make music forever, for as long as we can. We hope that we’ll still be making records and touring. We see ourselves doing this for a long, long time.

*Bob asks*
*9.  Why do you rock so much?*

Hypnogaja:  Please tell Bob that HE rocks. We just work here. Many thanks to him and all of our fans. We couldn’t do this without the support!

For more information on Hypnogaja check them out here.

Band Bonding: A Review of OK Go’s album Of the Blue Colour of the Sky and An Interview with Dan Konopka of OK Go

Posted in Albums, Bands, Interviews on May 6, 2010 by mattstorm

OK Go is one of the most unique bands around.  Typically, I like to compare a band’s sound to that of another, but with them I can’t. I found that no comparison does the description of their sound justice.  OK Go formed in 1998 though the lead singer Damian Kulash and  bassist Tim Nordwind met when they were 11 years old. Dan Konopka and Andy Ross joined up later on. The band first found major success through the help of their legendary treadmill video for “Here It Goes Again” when it blew up on Youtube.  It currently has 50,988,412 views.

The band’s latest record Of the Blue Colour of the Sky is a wonderful evolution of the band’s sound and creativity.  The style variation from song to song is magnificent with a new rhythmic and beautiful surprise around the corner.  Their attention to detail as well as the use of technology makes this album shine above many others and is definitely in my opinion their best work yet.

My favorite song from this record would have to be track 3, “All Is Not Lost”.  It’s a great song about not letting the bad things in life get you down and that there is always something better around the bend, just keep your head up.  The most memorable lyric for me is “But just remember: when the tide rolls in, it can’t be too long until it rolls back out.”

If you’re looking to spice up your life with some variety that rocks, you need too pick up Of the Blue Colour of the Sky. It’s an album packed with songs that will get stuck in your head and you’ll be humming them all day long.

I was lucky enough to get to conduct an email interview with Dan Konopka of OK Go thanks to the help of Bobbie Gale, their publicist. Dan is the drummer and provided some great insight to the band as well as himself.

Crash Chords:  What is the first album you ever bought?

Dan Konopka: Van Halen’s 1984. It’s still one of my favorites. I can’t say it was a huge influence on our band, but I can definitely say it inspired me to pursue drumming.

Crash Chords:  What is your favorite movie of all time?

Dan Konopka: That’s a hard one to answer. Off the top of my head I’d say it’s either Goodfellas or Casino – I love Scorsese’s films. But when I really think about it, I’d say Caddy Shack.

Crash Chords:  What do you think is the most defining factor of the band’s success?

Dan Konopka: I think it is the utilization of the internet. We’ve managed to forge our own metric of success through connecting with people online. We can really connect with so many more people online then without.

Crash Chords:  Do you believe that the future of the music industry resides within internet culture?

Dan Konopka: Yes, we’re already at a place where more music is consumed and shared online – I believe it’s going to stay that way.

Crash Chords:  Do you like bananas?

Dan Konopka: I love bananas. I like banana bread, banana pudding, banana liquor, whatever you got bananas.

Crash Chords:  Which musician or band had the greatest influence on the music you play?

Dan Konopka: Probably the single most influential band would be the Pixies. We also take lots of cues from the Beatles, Prince, Led Zeppelin and the Cars.

Crash Chords:  Was being in a band always your first choice of career and if not, what was?

Dan Konopka: I’ve always wanted to be a professional musician. In college I majored in music and minored in sound engineering.

Crash Chords:  When creating new music where do you draw inspiration from?

Dan Konopka: Definitely from the bands mentioned earlier, but also from the musicians/producers we work with. Dave Fridmann, the producer of our last record was a huge inspiration to us. He has such an amazing catalogue of music he’s worked on, and is a classically trained musician. Being around great people is always an inspiration.

The last two questions were inquires from a fellow blogger.

Crash Chords:  Mary asks: Where do you get the inspiration for your music videos from?

Dan Konopka: We come up with them ourselves, and our close friends will pitch in and share their great ideas with us as well. We don’t usually draw randomly from the public or anything like that.

Crash Chords: Mary asks: Do you think that it matters whether you are professionally trained or self started (self taught) when it comes to a love of music or is it inconsequential?

Dan Konopka: I don’t think you need to be trained to be great at music. So many of the world’s best musicians weren’t trained. So many just played by ear – expressing what they were feeling the best they could. The amount of practicing someone does isn’t what people notice when listening to music.

To find out more about OK Go check them out here.