“Subjective Loudness: Inside Sonelab recording studio and rehearsal space in Easthampton” – September 27, 2012

“Subjective Loudness: Inside Sonelab recording studio and rehearsal space in Easthampton” – September 27, 2012


“Behind the Beat: Upbeat and Energized” Sojourner – September 27, 2012

“Behind the Beat: Upbeat and Energized” Sojourner – September 27, 2012

Green Day releases new album amidst onstage outburst and trip to rehab

When Green Day announced this past April it was planning to release an album trilogy, few expected the days preceding the first record ¡Uno!’s release to be clouded by another band-related story.

Though the exact details surrounding lead singer/ guitarist Billie Joe Armstrongs’s “meltdown” during the conclusion of his group’s appearance at the iHeartRadio festival in Las Vegas on September 21 are unclear, one fact is for certain – Armstrong was not pleased by the abbreviated time limit placed on his band’s set.

Watch video of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong “meltdown” during his band’s set at the iHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegas here:

Sadly, the story doesn’t end there. Less than 48 hours after Armstrong smashed his Gibson guitar to bits on stage, it was announced that the Green Day frontman was on his way to rehab. According to the Los Angeles Times, the singer is being treated for substance abuse issues. And the NME reported that he had been “drinking a lot” the night of his rant.

Of course, seen through several prisms the events discussed above, when coupled with the subsequent Monday release of ¡Uno!, an album featuring songs with titles like “Loss of Control,” “Troublemaker” and “Let Yourself Go,” will lead both the press and fans alike to make a variety of conclusions.

Was Armstrong’s blow up at the iHeartRadio festival the “final straw, the moment where he realized he’d truly lost control,” as theorized by MTV? Was it punk rock theater, meant to inject some juice into the headlines mere days before Green Day released its new album? Was it a premeditated PR move, even now being massaged to make the band look dangerous and appeal to young crowds who normally shell out their cash for music by Justin Beiber, Taylor Swift and Rhianna? I don’t have the answers to any of these questions.

Green Day - UnoI do however have ¡Uno! to listen to, and the knowledge that, yes, Green Day has been around since “19-fucking-88.” I remember the band’s appearance at Woodstock ’94, and all the literal mud-slinging that occurred back then. I also have the personal experience of having once waited outside in the rain for over an hour in order to see Billie Joe and company play a small college gymnasium mere weeks before the guys took their tour for the record American Idiot to stadium-sized venues around the world. Just maybe these thoughts and memories are enough.

I could go on about how my generation and the music-loving world in general already lost one elder statesman in Adam “MCA” Yauch earlier this year, and how we must continually accept the fact that our heroes are not just growing up, but in fact, are already grown, growing older, and are human after all. Sometimes we forget that simple truth.

So good luck Billie Joe. I wish you a speedy recovery. I’ve been playing your new record all day, and I’ve even resisted the urge to parse through the lyrics to see if there was any clues regarding the inner turmoil you may have been feeling before the outburst that has now gone viral. I can’t wait for ¡Dos! either, or the forthcoming ¡Tré!. Sometimes the music is all you need.

For more information on Green Day and to see future tour dates please visit http://www.greenday.com/.

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“Behind the Beat: Dream Sound” The Stereo State – September 20, 2012

“Behind the Beat: Dream Sound” The Stereo State – September 20, 2012

Album review – Blues Control “Valley Tangents” – September 20, 2012

Album review – Blues Control “Valley Tangents” – September 20, 2012

Uncut conversation with Brian Jonestown Massacre leader Anton Newcombe

Anton - Boston (Michael Williams)

Anton Newcombe live in Boston, 2012 (Photo credit: Michael Williams)

In a blog post last week, I showcased a feature-length piece I wrote concerning Anton Newcombe, the leader of the band the Brian Jonestown Massacre. I have long been fascinated by Newcombe and his music, so when the opportunity came up for me to see his band live as well as interview Newcombe himself via e-mail prior to the BJM’s recent east coast tour I couldn’t resist.

While not all my notes and observations made it into the completed article, I thought readers would enjoy seeing the uncut version of my interview with the infamous bandleader. So, I have posted the entire exchange here with only small edits made for spelling and clarity. Enjoy!

Underground: First off, where am I reaching you for this interview?

Newcombe: I’m in Berlin enjoying a brief break before I return to the United States to finish the tour.

What were some challenges you faced during the recording of your latest album Aufheben?

I no longer drink alcohol and that changes the way a person hears sound, among other things. I am lucky that I work with an engineer full time in Berlin and he helps me avoid second-guessing myself while we record and mix music.

How did you overcome such obstacles?

The same way I deal with fear of any kind. i think about my awareness of a problem or situation then I confront that fear or thing and I move forward, but i do not give up. I set goals and meet them realistically.

What led you to name the album Aufheben?

I was reading an article that mentioned the word and decided to learn more about the concept and meaning. I can see clearly that it is very topical in many ways to many problems facing humanity and mankind, but more importantly western civilization and governments. Take for instance global warming. To address that issue we will need to abolish, lift up, preserve etc many things, most things in our cultures in order to survive and thrive.

How would you characterize the dual meaning of the album’s title, which can be translated as both “to abolish” and “to preserve”?

Humanity needs to address a multitude of habits, and attitudes on many levels in order to progress and thrive. This should be obvious to even small children. The status quo is harmful.

Aufhben album coverHow would you describe the audience reaction to the new material on your tours so far?

Overwhelmingly positive and I am thankful for that.

What is it like for you to perform these new songs live?

I enjoy certain elements of our entire body of work, to that end, the new songs fit in seamlessly.

Do you have any favorites out of the new tracks?

I don’t play favorites or even select the songs to be played. My group figures that stuff out. I treat the creation of our music as conceptual art. Our concerts are performance art, meaning that in the live context I am more or less a part of a team. These two things are not always related in a direct way nor should they be.

I have no problem writing music by myself for the project and why should I? However I feel strongly that these ideas take on the life forms in the live context and that is where they truly shine.

Of your older material, what are some of your favorite songs to perform?

We are not and have never been a singles/ song-based project in the way your question presents. To me it’s about the entire context of a concert. I enjoy presenting a full spectrum of sounds and emotions and do not play favorites, as I don’t limit my own interests so narrowly. I create environments.

What can audiences expect/ not expect from your shows on this upcoming East Coast tour in the US, especially your Boston performance at the Royale Nightclub on August 24?

You can expect the concert to be sold out, so I would advise you to act fast and secure yourself a ticket.

What can you tell me about the band opening for you on this tour the Magic Castles?

I would like to encourage anyone planning to go to this concert not to miss the first act. I believe in their project enough to release it with my own money as a document. Actions speak louder than words. Music is meant to be heard more than talked about. I love the way some of their songs make me feel.

Watch the video for the Magic Castles’ “Ballad of the Golden Bird” here:

What are some other bands you are listening to now?

Dead Skeletons – Icelandic mystical monks, little barrie – legendary sideman for Paul Weller, Spiritualized, Primal Scream, Cate le Bon – epic songstress from Wales, Gun Club Cemetery – veteran UK rock legends form Posse, climb back up on their horses, and recreate epic culture battle for control of rock and roll in the UK. And I add new things I find everyday to my YouTube favorites channel.

Shifting gears back to Aufheben, the track “Stairway to the Best Party in the Universe” contains a part that seems reminiscent of the Rolling Stones’ song “Paint it Black.” What are some of your other favorite Rolling Stones’ songs?

Everything about the Rolling Stones including their name is a point of reference to something else. I find it interesting that their organization avoids referencing Brian Jones and his contributions. Shame on them.

There’s definitely a lot of ‘60s psychedelic influence in your work, but you also have experimented with electronic sounds and recorded in places like Iceland and Berlin. What is it about these other sounds and places that inspires you?

I taught myself to play music on mini-moogs and korgs and rolands – Iceland and Berlin are both very forward thinking cultures/places – that’s what I need in my life, in my art and the world would do well to investigate both of these societies and emulate many aspects.

BJM (Romo PR)

Brian Jonestown Massacre (Photo courtesy of Romo PR)

What has it been like to collaborate/ tour with Matt Hollywood and Joel Gion again?

I love both of those people for many reasons. At the same time, we are all independent of each other. So it’s the best of both worlds I think.

What can you tell me about the other members of your current band?

Half of the group I’ve played with for 10 years the other half more then 20. I think each of us respects and annoys each other in equal measure. That’s honest and fair.

What are some future projects/ recordings that you have planned?

I very much want to continue exploring song composition, production with other groups with a primary focus on soundtracks for cinema. I want to do an epic soundtrack for Lars von Trier or even [Quentin] Tarantino. In some way I would like to make a great movie even better with audio/ sounds/ song craft and score.

As an artist faced with the proliferation of cell phones and other recording devices, how do you feel about audience members recording you and taking photos during a concert?

It’s a shame people cannot be in the moment. My natural reaction is to be as lifeless and unkempt as possible on stage in hopes that people tire of filming me and revert to listening to the music.

What do you make of your experience broadcasting DEADTV via USTREAM? What do you hope fans get from watching your online broadcasts?

I have zero desire to morph into a presenter. However, I hope that I can inspire other to attempt creating media they themselves would enjoy instead of being so passive and cynical about the lack of quality media that speaks to them. It’s a powerful tool that can be as eclectic as your own imagination. As an artist I am very interested in the actual “folk” media – things created by people for people that bring people together in spite of financial considerations. Get the fuck off of Facebook. Stop reading about other people’s lives and start living again.

Is there any question or topic I should have asked about but didn’t? If so, what would you like to talk about or maybe elaborate on?

I would like to encourage everyone to spend 15 minutes online a day learning something new. Trust me it will enrich your life. Any subject. Search for the stimulation you did not know you needed. The mainstream is a sewer.

Any final thoughts?

Yes. I think Henry Kissinger is a fucking asshole.

For more information on Anton Newcombe and the Brian Jonestown Massacre please visit http://www.brianjonestownmassacre.com/ and http://ctkme.com/. Or check out Anton on USTREAM at http://www.7woods.com/deadTV/.

Plus, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:

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“Behind the Beat: Comic Book Camaraderie” Michael Silverstone and the SilverTone5 – September 13, 2012

“Behind the Beat: Comic Book Camaraderie” Michael Silverstone and the SilverTone5 – September 13, 2012