Interview: Brendan Kelly of The Lawrence Arms

The Lawrence Arms

You never expect your record about the impending apocalypse will actually release when the entire world is on fire but that’s where The Lawrence Arms find themselves. On July 17th, Chicago’s finest return with Skeleton Coast – the trio’s first collection of new material’s since 2014’s impressive Metropole. It’s been a long six years since then and the new record reflects that – as a creeping dread is felt throughout its fourteen tracks (as opener “Quiet Storm” bluntly puts it, “Listen closely: Some horsemen are calling. Lay back, the night sky is falling”). Skeleton Coast is a wild ride featuring the best work of the band’s career. I spoke with bassist/vocalist Brendan Kelly about recording Skeleton Coast in the middle of the Texas desert, being inspired by the Beastie Boys and Outkast, and how this record is the perfect record for this unprecedented times.

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Interview: Mike Henneberger

Mike Henneberger

Recently I was able to have a phone conversation with author Mike Henneberger before he released his new memoir, Rock Bottom at the Renaissance. I previewed this book in the form of a review a few weeks ago, and it was enlightening to hear firsthand Mike’s take on what I had read in his memoir. We discussed other bands that have had an influence on him over the years, everything that went into writing his book, and the creation of his new company called Berger Media. The book is available to purchase everywhere starting today, and more details can be found at his official website.

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Interview: The Ghost Inside

The Ghost Inside

On June 5th, The Ghost Inside will triumphantly return with their self-titled fifth album – an eleven track journey featuring the heaviest and most poignant work of the band’s illustrious career. It’s the Los Angeles band’s first release in nearly six years and it’s a record that almost never existed as the path towards The Ghost Inside was littered with tragedy, pain, and self-doubt. On the morning of November 19, 2015, the band’s tour bus collided head on with a tractor trailer while headed west to Mesa, Arizona on U.S. Highway 180. The drivers of both vehicles, Greg Hoke and Steven Cunningham, lost their lives in the accident, while vocalist Jonathan Vigil, bassist Jim Riley, guitarists Zach Johnson and Chris Davis, and drummer Andrew Tkaczyk suffered life-changing injuries (Tkaczyk lost one of his legs following an initial ten-day coma). After facing a lengthy recovery period, the band took time to get into the right head space to figure out if they wanted to continue as The Ghost Inside. Realizing that this tragedy is the precise moment to put their inspirational lyrics to the test, the quintet returned to a sold-out performance last summer at Los Angeles’ The Shrine, promising new music soon. That moment is now and I was fortunate enough to speak with Andrew about the record, the moving visual for their first single “Aftermath,” and creating the record the band was always meant to make.

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Interview: O’Brother

O'Brother

O’Brother has never been an easy band to pin down. I’ll leave it to them, as they explain it best: they’re a “borderline metal band that’s heavily influenced by Radiohead and Sigur Ros”. Their debut album, 2011’s Garden Window embraced chaos and mystique, featured vocals from Andy Hull (Manchester Orchestra) and introduced the band’s experimental nature. O’Brother quickly amassed a loyal following through clever, brilliant music and non-stop touring. Disillusion (2013), their sophomore effort, expanded on the post-metal influence the band only teased beforehand. In 2016, O’Brother released one of the best albums of the year in Endless Light.

Last week, O’Brother put up their new album, You and I on Bandcamp for a pay-what-you-want price. On April 7 2020, first single “Killing Spree” was unveiled to the world, following a few days of teasing online. Where Endless Light touched the surface of using space as an instrument, their fourth album, You and I revels in ambience. Guitarists Jordan McGhin and Johnny Dang go back and forth between classical guitars and staring at the computer. Anton Dang still plays the bass guitar, of course. Michael Martens hardly plays the drums. In the meantime, vocalist Tanner Merritt reaches for the piano. I caught up with O’Brother this week from their respective homes over a surprisingly non-lagging Zoom call. Martens chatted from his living room, McGhin from his bedroom, Anton Dang from his porch, and Johnny Dang and Merritt from their offices/home studios.

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Interview: Derek Zanetti of The Homeless Gospel Choir

The Homeless Gospel Choir

This past week, I was able to connect with Derek Zanetti (aka The Homeless Gospel Choir) and discuss everything that went into making his new album, This Land is Your Landfill. I asked Derek about how he is staying connected to his fans during this pandemic, his take on the current political climate, his cassette collecting passion, and what he is most looking forward to when things return to normal.

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Interview: Paul Marc Rousseau of Silverstein

Silverstein

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to have a great conversation with the lead guitarist of Silverstein, Paul Marc Rousseau. In this interview we chatted a lot about everything that went into making their new album A Beautiful Place to Drown, the collaborative efforts present on the record, the detailed writing process for these sessions, and we even discussed lead vocalist Shane Told’s consistent vocal improvements. A Beautiful Place to Drown is available everywhere music is sold this Friday, March 6th.

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Interview: Caroline of Your Smith

Your Smith

This past month, I was able to sit down with Caroline Smith (of Your Smith) and talk about everything that went into her great new EP, Wild Wild Woman. In this interview we chatted about the lessons she learned from touring with road veterans K. Flay and X Ambassadors, how she typically composes her material, and key artists she has listened to over the years that have been essential in her development as an artist. Caroline is currently wrapping up the final dates of her US headlining tour.

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Interview: Zach Lupetin of Dustbowl Revival

Dustbowl Revival

Recently, I was able to sit down with Zach Lupetin (vocals, guitar) of Dustbowl Revival to discuss the band’s seventh studio album, Is It You, Is It Me, available everywhere this Friday, January 31st. We chatted about the band’s upcoming headlining tour in support of the new record, the stylistic changes that went into the new album, and artists that he admires in today’s music scene. I feel that the band grew a ton on this latest album, and I’d recommend Dustbowl Revival for fans of Lake Street Dive, Galactic, and other American-roots rock bands.

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Interview: Michael Barrios

Michael Barrios

Michael Barrios is in his San Diego bedroom, sitting by the window. His long-time partner, Daisy is beside him. Above her head are polaroid pictures tracing their four-year-long relationship. All of Barrios’ musical equipment is scattered across the floor, including his newest synth pad. There’s a disco ball above the bed. He’s a softly spoken, passionate man, and it’s been two years since his last interview.

It’s been three and a half years since the release of Barrios’ debut album under the No Hope Kids moniker, Our Time Apart. Next year will see the unconventional young artist make his return. With this upcoming release, he’s changing the name – although, he hasn’t gained much hope. Planning this currently unnamed new project (there are some cool album titles in play), returning to being in a long-distance relationship, and juggling full-time jobs with it all hasn’t been easy. But you can count on those experiences popping up throughout the album.

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Interview: Jade of Oso Oso

Oso Oso

This past week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jade of Oso Oso, before he played a supporting set at the Fillmore Silver Spring near Washington, DC. In this interview, I asked Jade about how much he follows what others say about his music, the recording process he went through during the Basking in the Glow sessions, and how he continues to find inspiration as an artist. Throughout our chat, I got a glimpse into what makes Jade such a talented songwriter, and found our conversation to be a hell of a lot of fun too.

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Interview: Mat Santos of Ra Ra Riot

Ra Ra Riot

When Ra Ra Riot announced a headlining tour with several major cities and markets on their itinerary, I knew I had to reach out to set up an interview during their local stop to my market, in Washington, DC. I had always enjoyed the stylistics changes that the band had done from album to album, and the growth in lead singer Wes Miles could be heard easily when comparing their original sound, to what came out on their latest record Superbloom. The band graciously granted me an interview with bassist, Mat Santos, to discuss what went into the recording of the latest album as well as some insight on: the band’s formation, Wes’s vocal regimen, and the band’s plans for the future. The interview was conducted in the “green room” backstage at the 9:30 Club in DC, and I truly enjoyed the conversation that Mat and I had that evening.

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