depopulated:

WOMEN

Posted in interview, music by Trevor on March 12, 2009
Left to right: Matthew Flegel, Patrick Flegel, Chris Reimer, Michael Wallace

Women, left to right: Matthew Flegel, Patrick Flegel, Chris Reimer, Michael Wallace

Calgary’s hardest band to google, Women, played at the Bottom Lounge with Chicago acts Volcano!, Thin Hymns and Bengal Lancer last night. The four dudes from Canada squeezed onto a little couch in the freezing back room to say a few words about gear-hunting, inexplicable small-town European crowds and would you please stop calling them lo-fi.

Phoenix: So, you guys just got back from Europe, right? How long were you there for?
Christopher Reimer [Guitarist]: Yeah. We were there for three weeks.

P: Did you get much time to do anything besides travel and play shows?
CR: Yeah, we actually did a lot. We had a couple of spots where the drives were really short, so we ended up in the city the night before. We rode around Berlin and went to museums. We were on this island in Spain, where we rented bikes and just rode around this island for four or five hours.
Patrick Flegel [Guitarist, vocalist]: It was the best day of my life.
CR: Yeah it was probably the best day of all of our lives.

P: Did you draw a big crowd overseas?
PF: Somehow — Yeah, it was really weird, being in a not-very-big city in Spain and —
CR: And having like a hundred people show up.

P: I’ve noticed sort of a big lo-fi movement across the Atlantic, and I could see you guys as being kind of part of that — your record was recorded in Chad VanGaalen’s basement on, like, boom-boxes. What draws you to that sound?
PF: We wanted it to sound like recordings that we really like from the ’70s. But we definitely, definitely don’t feel a part of the lo-fi thing. It’s not like we’re trying to do that at all. A lot of people say we’re similar to acts such as Times New Viking and Wavves, stuff like that, but I don’t really feel like that’s what we’re doing. We’re really just trying to make our music sound old.

P: I, for some reason, was looking at your stage plot on the Internet, and noticed that you keep it pretty simple. For instance, you only use a four-piece drum set. Is that just easier to travel with or do you like having it —
Michael Wallace [Drummer]: Yeah — I don’t know — it’s nice to not have a lot; just the simplicity of it and working within that is nice. It’s funny that you say that, because [four-piece drum sets] are totally common. But yeah, I only use one cymbal: it doubles for a ride and a crash.
Matthew Flegel [Bassist, vocalist]: We were going to kick him out of the band if he used a crash.

P: You guys are going to be in the van for a couple of more months now —
CR: A month, on this tour, and then a few weeks off. We’re going to try to do some writing; we haven’t really had a chance.

P: You said earlier that you have four new songs. Those came from before this tour, then?
PF: A couple of them, yeah. A couple we arranged while we were on the road.
CR: We had the parts, we just kind of slapped them together. One we’ve been playing since our first tour — we wrote it half-way through our first tour.
PF: So they’re not really new.

P: Well so how do you pass the time on the road? Do you have some favorite road tunes?
PF: It’s pretty awesome to have an iPod with your entire record collection on it at once. Endless options as far as music goes.
CR: It’s pretty hard to get tired of listening to music.
PF: If we had twenty CDs we’d probably be sitting in silence. But we can just cover so much ground — you don’t really get sick of it.
MF: We found a Patsy Kline tape at the gas station
P: New or used?
MW: New, actually, which is nice because it sounds good. It was five bucks.
MF: We got a Billy Joel cassette, Bill Cosby — which, the tape is fucked, so it’s the funniest thing in the world.
MW: Sounds like the antichrist.
MF: Or Electric Lady Land.

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understanding understandrap.com

Posted in ad-aware, interview, music by eddie on February 19, 2009

A bit ago we marveled in snarky disbelief at the existence of UnderstandRap.com, whose ad on Facebook seemed more fitting for an AARP newsletter.  But unlike some of our bloggy brethren, the journalists in us felt it unreasonable to leave the post as a hit-and-run affair.  We chatted with Bill Buckholz, the 28-year-old proprietor of UnderstandRap, who was nice enough to talk to us at length about his motivations behind the site, the rap scene in Seattle, parents making things uncool and why Katie Couric sucks.

PHOENIX DIVERSIONS: I can only surmise that you’re big fan of rap—or are you?

BILL BUCKHOLZ: I wouldn’t say I’m the most knowledgeable person about rap. I feel like I know a little bit more than the average person, but I haven’t always listened to rap music. For the most part I’ve been into other types of music. I’ve always been aware of rap and I’ve liked a lot of rap—I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan though.

P: What kind of artists in particular? Anyone that you’ve enjoyed over the years?

B: Probably the first artist that I really got into and really liked was Outkast. I really enjoyed a lot of their music. I thought a lot of it was pretty clever, good sound. Somewhat meaningful lyrics, at times. Lately I’ve listened to a lot of –I got [Lil Wayne’s] Tha Carter III, of course. Saw him when he came to Seattle. I’ll be seeing the Game at the end of the month. Big fan of T.I., Lupe Fiasco, people like that.

P: You said you’re from Seattle, and I don’t think there’s much of a rap scene up there, is there?

B: [Laughs] There’s really not. Lil Wayne played at Key Arena, kind of an interesting crowd there—pretty diverse, all sorts of different backgrounds there. There’s not really a local scene at all for it. There really doesn’t seem to be that much interest from the city as a whole, at least not that I’ve seen in the years that I’ve been out here.

P: I feel like the only rap artist I know from Seattle is Sir Mix-A-Lot.

B: [Laughs] Yeah, I can’ t think of any major rap acts from the past several years that have been from here.

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Eugene O’Neo-Futurists??: Phoenix makes awful pun, chats with director Greg Allen.

Posted in interview, theatre by kalbing on February 9, 2009

More Reasons to go to the Goodman: A plug for the Neo-Futurists

neo-futurists-logo1

As you may or may not know, during the Goodman Theatre’s three month-long series, “Global Exploration: Eugene O’Neill in the 21st Century” top-notch theater companies will be performing 6 of O’Neill’s better known plays at the Goodman Theater (Desire Under the Elms, The Hairy Ape, to name a few.) Companies heralding from Amsterdam, Portugal, New York, and Brazil will grace the prestigious stage. I’m sure they’ll be “transcendent…a triumph!” They always are.

But what I’m most excited about is Chicago’s very own Neo-Futurists‘ production of O’Neill’s Strange Interlude.

strange_interlude21

Greg Allen, founder of the Neo-Futurists and a prolific actor, director, and playwright, chatted with me about the Neo-Futurists (now in their 20th year of existence), their flagship show, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, and the experience of directing “Strange Interlude”, one of O’Neills more experimental works.

(**Check out the Phoenix in upcoming weeks to read the full-blown feature on the Neo-Futurists.**)

Phoenix Diversions: Tell me how you got into theater.

Greg Allen: I was interning at theater companies, directing some shows, and someone offered me a late night slot. I was young, looking for something to do late at night, and I came up with the idea of the Neo-Futurists, and told people it would run forever.

PD: I know you got your name from the Italian Futurists. How do they factor into the philosophy of the Neo-Futurists?

GA: Well, the Futurists had this incendiary, revolutionary talk, which attracted me. Though I left out their sexist, violent, fascist side. I was into their manifestos, their talk of embracing novelty, heralding a new future. I think that’s what theater is at heart– a new and enterprising event. That’s what theater has the potential to do. Everyone can take part in it. There’s the visceral presence of the audience, and the ideas of simultaneity, brevity, speed, no illusion.

Read more after the jump…

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