Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Audego- Awesome Music From Down Under

A few weeks ago, dear friend and sometimes writer on this blog, Danny Allen told me to check out a group from Australia called Audego.  Music is one of the top things I care about in life, so I'm pretty judgmental and I can sometimes be skeptical when people tell me who to check out.  Fortunately, Danny is one of the few people who I have complete trust in when it comes to musical likes and dislikes, so I listened to him and gave Audego a shot.  After a few songs in, I was sold.  That same night I creeped their Twitter and asked them if I could interview them for a blog, and I was fortunate enough for them to actually accept this offer.  Therefore, I am super pumped to bring you an interview with Carolyn 'Big Fella' Tariq, one half of Audego.  She was kind enough to take some time out to answer some riveting (and some not so riveting) questions about Audego and music in general.  Big Fella and her partner in crime Pasobionic have a new album that came out this past fall entitled 'Beneath the Static and the Low', so go check out that album and support these guys.  They are certainly worth a listen.

1. What got you guys into music?  Was there any band or singer that made you guys say "Yep. That's what I want to do"

I’ve always been doing music; singing since forever and playing various instruments through school. Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston were huge to me growing up, and then I fell in love with Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and Fiona Apple. I don’t think there was a particular catalyst that got me involved in making music except that I always loved doing it. Public Enemy really inspired Paso to make music, but I think he already felt compelled toward it too. I think music ability is innate. 

2. How did you guys meet up and decide that you could work well together and make some quality music?

We met through a remix that Paso did of one of my solo tracks from back in the day. He killed it. From there we formed Audego in 2010 and have been making tracks ever since. 

3. How did you guys come up with the name 'Audego'?  Does it symbolize anything or is there a story behind it?

Audego is a mash up of “audio” and “lego”. When we are writing, we usually chuck in little bits at a time to slowly build it. So it will either start with a basic vocal harmony repeating, or a basic beat structure, or the main vocal idea, and from there we fill in the gaps. 

4. Your music video for 'Fight' is pretty amazing and even more trippy.  How did you guys come up with that concept?  It left me pretty mesmerized when I watched it.  Made me think of the old videos they would play when MTV first came out where it seemed videos would try to just get as weird as possible.  

We didn’t have much to do with the filmclip concept. Vidad Narayan and Bryce McCoy from Round3 Creative developed those ideas. They did such a good job. We told them we wanted something surreal, and they grew it out from there. 

5. How would you describe your music?  I'm at a loss on how to properly describe it besides just calling it awesome and intriguing.  

Ah, thank you! That’s really nice to hear. We don’t really know what genre to say we are either, but generally we just call it electronic. We describe it as beatsy, crusty stuff with layers of dusty vocals.  We used to call it future-noir electronic, but that seemed a bit wanky. We have influences from so many different genres it’s hard to pin down which genre we feel we belong to. 

6.  Today a lot of people discover new music through Spotify or iTunes under 'Similar Artists' or 'Related Music'.  Do you think this is a good way to have your music discovered or do you kind of wish you could stand out on your own and maybe catch people off guard and hook them into checking out more of your stuff?

We would prefer to stand out on our own, but if being “similar” to another artist helps expand your audience then we’re grateful. At this point we’re just happy to have people hear our shit. 

7. Are there any artists you consider yourself similar to?  Or maybe some artists that you think you should be compared to? 

I always get annoyed being compared to other bands but I know people like to box things in to help them understand. I do it all the time to other bands, but it stings a little when people compare us to other acts. We really don’t want to sound like anyone else. If something (in the arts) has been done, you shouldn’t do it again. 

8. Is it true that all Australians can surf and enjoy some shrimp on the barby?

We do like to surf the Internet, and we do love little people, but not on barbecues. You shouldn’t call them shrimp either. It’s offensive. 

9. What has been your biggest show to date and what were your feelings going into that show?

Ah, biggest show….Hmmm. We saw Lauryn Hill perform for a festival a couple of years ago, but she seemed over it. She only did a twenty-minute set and all her tracks were twice the speed that they normally are, so that was disappointing. I saw Tina Turner when I was ten. That was huge and awesome. She was working it hard, all sweaty and stuff. I touched her sweaty hand and didn’t shower for a few days afterward out of respect for her sweat. She’s the coolest. 

10. Have any kickass pre-show rituals like rip some shots of whiskey or play a game of Jenga to calm you down before playing?

We’re both pathologically shy so it’s kinda weird that we are performers. I have to drink about 5 chamomile teas to rest my nerves and Paso will have a couple of pre-gig nervous cigarettes. We’re really wild. 

11. What is your dream venue to play?  Is there a certain place that if you play it, you'll know that you've made out to be pretty successful?  

I would have liked to play on Jimmy Fallon’s show. He’s doing the Tonight Show now though, so now I want to play on the Tonight Show. I would also love to play on the Colbert Report. 

12. Have you had a moment yet in your careers where you were left thinking "Holy shit, I can't believe this is real?"

I think when our filmclips were getting played on TV in Australia that was one of those moments. I grew up watching RAGE (Australia’s best music show), so when our clips were on there, that was weird, but so cool. 

13. If you could open up for any band on a tour, who would it be? 

Opening for the Black Keys would be cool. It would also be really cool to open for Outkast or Frank Ocean. 

14. Are Big Fella and Pasobionic your real names? 

Big Fella is my real name, I also go by my stage alias, Carolyn Tariq. Pasobionic was born Paso, but changed it to Pasobionic for pizzazz and moxy’s sake. 

15. A lot of artists have a lot of demands on their tour 'rider' where they need certain things in their dressing room before a show.  The Ramones always needed a bunch of cheese pizzas, Katy Perry needs a shit load of candles, and Van Halen demanded a bowl of M&M's with all the brown colored ones taken out.  What would be on your tour rider/list of demands?

I think cheese pizza is an awesome idea. The Ramones knew what was up. I would want cheese pizza too. Why would you want fucking candles? What a waste of a wish. 

16. Any artists you would love to collaborate with?
Andre 3000 or Frank Ocean. 

17. What would you guys be doing if you weren't making music?

We’re both awkward at verbal conversation, so music is a way to communicate for us. Without it, we would be emotionally constipated; backed up and full of emotional turds. Or you know, if we weren’t making music, maybe we would have improved our people skills due to the lack a creative alternative and would be superior versions to what we are now.  

-Big thank you to Carolyn for this interview.  Pretty cool to do this with you, and I hope you and Pasobionic come over to Boston for a show so we can get some beers.  Once again, everyone check out Audego and spread the good word!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Who Is Boston Calling's Secret Performer?

On Saturday, May the 24th, the fine city of Boston will be in the middle of hosting the Boston Calling Music Festival.  The lineup for all 3 days is pretty impressive, with bands like Brand New, Modest Mouse, Death Cab For Cutie, Jack Johnson (eh),  and Tegan & Sara set to captivate audiences.  One big mystery around the event is who the secret performer is on the second day of the festival.  If we are to believe that the lineup goes in order, the secret guest will be going on second to last, right before Death Cab For Cutie closes out day 2 of the event.  As of now there is no telling when it'll be announced, and there don't seem to be any clues as to who the band/person is, so here are 6 guesses as to who it could be.  Things to keep in mind is that it won't be a headliner, so it's gotta be someone well known, but not too well known, if you catch my drift.  Someone who is on a similar level of popularity as Death Cab, Modest Mouse and Brand New.  Well, to be honest it was going to be 7 guesses, but some deeper digging revealed that, unfortunately, the Arctic Monkeys will be playing overseas on that day, so it is now down to 6.  Here we go:

6. Grouplove- The band that refuses to go away.  Just when you think Grouplove's 15 minutes of fame is up, they turn out another catchy single to keep them relevant.  I was actually surprised they didn't play the previous two Boston Calling festivals.  A young, up and coming band who is trying to become a household name (they're well on their way at this rate) could be an underdog type of surprise that could generate some buzz that they deserve.  Their songs range from cheery to downright depressing, and they have a lot to prove.  I think a lot of people hear them on the radio and just think that they are a flash in the pan who has gotten lucky with 4-5 singles over the past few years.  Boston Calling could be their coming out party.  I think Grouplove is here to stay, but a true test for them would be nailing a set as the surprise band at Boston Calling.

5. Jimmy Eat World- This might be the best warmup to Death Cab For Cutie.  You have similarities in bands (I might be wrong here, but they might have toured together at some point?) which makes sense having them followed up by Death Cab since they would have similar listeners.  Jimmy Eat World has a break in their touring schedule from March to August, making it reasonable that they could play a night in a major city without much hassle.  Also, Jimmy Eat World is someone who won't steal the spotlight of a festival, works as a good pick for a surprise, and they are a crowd pleaser.  Sure, most people may only know their breakthrough song 'The Middle', but they've been around and have had their fair share of hits over the years.  I think in terms of the other bands on the lineup, these guys may be the best fit in musical style.

4. Say Anything- I think Say Anything would be a nice fit for Boston Calling.  They're sort of in-between albums right now, supposedly coming out with a new one later this year, and they don't have any shows planned as of right now.  In terms of the lineup, you gotta compare them to the 2nd to last band on Sunday, which is Brand New.  I think Say Anything and Brand New are pretty equal in terms of popularity (personally, I'd take Brand New over Say Anything any day, but I'll admit they're close) and they are a band that a lot of people would be pleasantly surprised to see.  Say Anything is good because you have those quirky WTF type songs like 'Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too' and 'Do Better' which would get massive sing alongs from the crowd, and then hit them with meaningful songs like 'Alive With the Glory of Love', 'Walk Through Hell' and 'Burn A Miracle'.  This would be a solid surprise performer, perfect to not take away all the spotlight from the headlining Death Cab For Cutie.  It just kinda sorta makes sense.

3. Dropkick Murphy's- It makes so much sense, yet it might be a letdown.  Boston's favorite band with bagpipes would make perfect sense as a surprise guest, but I feel like it may be so obvious that people would get kind of pissed off.  On one hand, they would certainly bring a new genre to the table with all their horns and pipes and plaid and whatnot, but on the other hand it almost may be too....I don't gimmicky the right word?  I'm sure I'm speaking for a lot of other people in the greater Boston area by saying that I'd be perfectly fine going a few years without hearing 'Shipping Up to Boston'.  Not only are they almost too Boston-y, they play like 18 straight nights at the House of Blues leading up to St. Patrick's Day every year, including this year.  Although it may be a no brainer of a surprise guest, it may be too obvious and could leave the festival attendees feeling a bit underwhelmed.

2. Cage the Elephant- Cage the Elephant could provide a spark to the lineup that it may need.  This lineup is solid, but I think it would maybe use one more rock band who can get people a little bit crazy towards the end of the night.  Cage the Elephant is the perfect band for this to happen.  They can rock out with the best of them, they're young and have a growing fan base, and they're coming off of a new album which can always use some more publicity.  The problem here is that they are playing in Washington (you know, the state) the night before.  That might be too far for them to realistically play Boston Calling, but there may still be a chance.  Fingers crossed, you guys.

1. Pixies- I mean, a band who formed at UMass must have a slight itch to perform at a festival in their home city.  The Pixies have become more and more famous as time goes on, and now that they have gone back on tour and released two EPs recently makes it seem that they are on a roll and probably won't slow down.  One problem in them playing Boston Calling is that they recently played Boston at the Orpheum Theatre about 3 weeks ago, so maybe it will be a bit too soon to play Boston again.  On the other hand, that show sold out and I'm sure they realize that they still have a huge following here in Boston, so why not perform to a huge crowd and give everyone else a fair shot at seeing them.  If there is one band who deserves a true musical hero's welcome in Boston, it's got to be The Pixies.  If you only know The Pixies from 'Where is My Mind?' playing during the final scene of 'Fight Club', you should definitely do some more listening to them.  I saw them play a festival in Chicago this past September, and they are totally worth going to see.  I'm praying that these guys are the secret performers.  That would be a surprise guest who would not fall flat upon revelation.

Monday, February 3, 2014

15 Bands I (And You) Need To See

Music has always been a big part of my life, although I can't play anything besides a couple of chord's of Deep Purple's 'Smoke on the Water' (thanks Dad!) and a few notes of Weezer's timeless classic 'Undone (The Sweater Song)' on guitar.  I may have given up on my dream to headline a show at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel in the fine city of Providence, R.I., but I will always be one to find new bands and check out much beloved acts whenever they are in a town close by me.  This being said, over the past few years I have seen a lot of awesome shows, and I've been fortunate enough to see some of my all-time favorite bands live and in person.  This past month I found myself making the wise decision to purchase 3 days passes for both the Boston Calling Music Festival and the Governors Ball Music Festival, and I got to thinking about which bands I'll be seeing for the first time.  That thinking then got me to thinking about what bands I haven't seen yet, so I have made up my list of 15 (it was originally going to be 10, but it was too hard to narrow it down, so 15 it is).  Last September I knocked off some big names on my list at Riotfest (Pixies, X) and I hope to knock some more off in the very near future with two awesome festivals coming up.  These are all bands that I have been a big fan of, but just haven't been able to go to a show of theirs, and it's gotta be realistic, so bands like  Nirvana, The Beastie Boys, and The Jonas Brothers are all off of this list.

15. You Blew It!- I'm starting things off with a new band who is starting to turn some heads.  A bit punk, a bit emo revival, these guys are starting to take off.  From their live videos on youtube, it seems like their shows can get a bit crazy, which always makes for an interesting night.  It may sound somewhat hipster, but when you discover a band at the beginning it can make for some awesome shows you can look back on, especially when they get big and overtake the world.

14. Van Halen- These guys are just legends.  Honestly, I don't even know if these guys are currently together or not, but let's be honest here, if they aren't then you can bet your bottom dollar that one of many reunion shows will be taking place in the near future.  I just want to experience Van Halen with a bunch of older people reliving their glory days, and also so I can dance the night away.

13. Dave Matthews Band- I hate Dave Matthews with such a passion that I'm blanking on words to type to describe it.  I have always hated him, I think he's extremely bland and boring and he just sucks as a person.  Why do I need to see him in concert, you ask?  Easy.  So I can sneak in a bag of rocks to the show and try hitting him in the face.  Realistically, I'm never going to see him because I don't want to give Dave Matthews any of my hard earned money, even if I hit him in the face with a bag of rocks, so therefore I am actually going to put Phoenix in this slot.  Phoenix is pretty awesome.  Dave Matthews sucks.

12. The Offspring- I have liked The Offspring since the 3rd grade when 'Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)' and 'Why Don't You Get a Job?' became big hits.  I really don't know how I haven't seen these guys yet.  The Offspring is one of those bands who you kind of forget just how many awesome songs they have had over the years, and I feel like it would just be one of those fun summertime shows where every one is singing along with every word to every song.

11. AWOLnation-  A newer band who came out with a tremendous debut album in 2011 and gained instant popularity with 'Sail'.  My buddy Tyler likes to always inform me every time he hears 'Sail' that the lead singer has some real soul in his voice, which I guess is true.  They also came out with a second single 'Not Your Fault' which is one of my favorite songs to come out recently.  Here they are playing it live:

10. The Smiths-  This is the biggest stretch on my list, so I had to put it kinda low at #10.  If The Smiths would actually get back together for the first time in almost 30 years, people who enjoy good music would lose their collective shit.   One of the most influential bands from the 80's, who only had a handful of albums, called it quits while still in their prime.  Johnny Marr and Morrisey went on to have successful careers elsewhere, but there is a certain mystique about The Smiths that leaves the rest of us wanting a chance to see them live.  They have all basically sworn off any possibility of getting back together, but I'm banking on the old adage "never say never" for this.  I don't have my hopes up, but please, please, please, let me get what I want.  Sidenote: check out these people dancing.  The 80's were great.

9. The Killers- Like The Offspring, The Killers are one of those bands that have so many good songs you kind of forget about them.  These guys are talented, and although their last album kind of sucked (I'm blaming that for a loss of momentum from taking time off at the peak of their popularity), I still think they would put on a hell of a show.  A dear friend of mine has seen them a few times in Chicago and always gave rave reviews about them, so I'm kinda trusting his judgment and putting them in my top 10.

8. Modest Mouse- 'Float On' got me into these guys, and I always kind of considered them a one hit wonder type until I really gave them a chance in college.  I'm really glad I did.  Modest Mouse makes music that can tug at the heartstrings at times, but they can also have the ability to rock out whenever they want to.  Along with Brand New, Modest Mouse is a personal highlight for May's Boston Calling Festival.  They've turned into a favorite band of mine, and it doesn't hurt that they have a song about my favorite writer entitled 'Bukowski'.

7. Blur- In the battle of bands between Blur and Oasis, I always sided with Blur.  That's probably for the best because Oasis looks to be dead as Dillinger because those two jerkoff brothers can't get along together.  Most people know Blur from 'Song 2' which is played at all major sporting events, but there is so much more to them which gets them on my list.  They don't play too frequently, but they've been on my list for a while.  I'll be lucky enough to see frontman Damon Albarn (who is also the mastermind behind the Gorillaz) play a solo set at Governor's Ball, so I'll take that for the time being.

6. Rage Against the Machine-  Like The Smiths, it may be a stretch to see them live.  I don't even know why they broke up, maybe too much time protesting stuff?  Who knows.  I want to see them live.  One of the greatest live albums I've ever listened to was Rage at the Grand Olympic Auditorium.  They put on a loud and intense show, and it's pretty powerful just to listen to, never mind witnessing in person.  I don't think it would be the type of show to have your mom chaperone you to.  Not that I still need that. I swear.  Seriously though, I don't go to shows with my mom anymore.  That happened this past summer but c'mon it was the Rolling Stones who else would I go see them with?

5. Radiohead-  I don't care if they never play 'Creep'.  I don't care if their frontman has a lazy eye.  I need to see Radiohead.  Thom Yorke is a genius and I honestly think Radiohead is a band we will look back on and compare with the Led Zeppelin's and Rolling Stone's for this generation.  Sure, some of their songs can get kind of weird and out there, but I'm sure it's an experience worth being present for.  Witnessing 'Paranoid Android', 'Karma Police' or 'Street Spirit (Fade Out)' would be a life-changing experience for lil ol' me.

4. Cage the Elephant-  I'm imagining that there is one word to sum up a Cage the Elephant show: party.  There are some bands who are just guaranteed to put on a kickass show involving a bunch of drunk people rocking out to awesome music, and they are one of them.  I'd give anything to go out with some friends for a few barley-pops and then enjoy a nice evening with Bowling Green's best band.  I am a firm believer that Cage the Elephant would provide a lot of crowd surfing, moshing, and probably a rough morning afterward.  They make shows look like a lot of fun, and I want in.

3. Jack White/The White Stripes-  Jack White is a genius.  Plain and simple.  The man has a successful solo career along with 3 bands who are all awesome in their own right.  The White Stripes are untouchable.  The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather are also amazing.  Jack White is special because he just can't seem to write boring music.  If I had a choice, I'd love to see The White Stripes get back together, but that doesn't seem to be happening, so I'll gladly settle for solo Jack White.  I love how he plays songs from all 3 bands and his solo stuff at shows, giving his crowds a bit of everything.  I cannot wait to see him at Governor's Ball.  I'll have my fingers crossed that he plays 'Seven Nation Army' and/or 'Hardest Button to Button', but just being in his presence will be good enough for me.

2. Japandroids-  I've only known about Japandroids for less than 2 years, but this is one band who has quickly grown into one of my all time favorites.  I have a legitimate hatred for two of my "friends" who saw these guys at last year's Governor's Ball and for an after party show in some hipster club in Brooklyn.  Japandroids may be the best thing out of Canada since Pam Anderson.  Their music is meaningful, it can hit home at times, and it's true rock music in a time where we need it.  This duo deserves to be the next big thing, and it pains me that I haven't had the opportunity to see them yet.  Some day, you guys, some day.

1. The Strokes- One of my favorite bands of all time.  The scary part is that I'm not sure if these 5 guys all hate each other or not.  Their situation has been somewhat mysterious over the past few years:  on one hand they've managed to release two albums since 2011, on the other hand they've only played a handful of shows, none of which since November of 2011.  These guys are extremely talented and have put out some of the best songs to ever be recorded, so it's a damn shame they tour so little these days.  After years of following them, my prayers were answered and the opportunity has arrived to see them live: at this years Governors Ball.  Sure, I'm excited for the whole festival, but The Strokes really make up for the majority of my excitement.  Barring any band members fighting and/or drug problems, the weekend of June 6th-8th is shaping up to be one of the finer weekends of my life.