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Category Archives: Band Profiles

Musician Interviews.

Canon Logic

Photo Courtesy of Canon Logic and Planetary Group.

Greetings!

It’s been a long time, since I’ve left you, without a dope beat to step to. So I’d like to share some fantastic news! Here we go…

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Photo Courtesy of Canon Logic and Planetary Group.

In support of their most recent full-length album, WYLD” set to drop on 2/25/2014. Brooklyn based band Canon Logic will be bringing their splendidly crafted music to the fancy people of NYC, with a residency at one of the best music venues in the LES, Pianos!

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Photo Courtesy of Canon Logic and Planetary Group.

! WARNING: SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION !

Now, I have to admit. Not only will Canon Logic‘s residency change your actual life, but Petrified Tourist a band I play in, will be sharing the bill with Canon Logic on 2/17/2014. What better way to spend President’s Day than seeing not one, but 2 great bands!

There will also be some additional, fantastical NYC bands sharing the residency with Canon Logic as well. Why don’t you mosey on over and check out Marco With LoveAlso, while you’re at it. Why not show some social media love for NYC based bands and fellow residency participates, Folding Legs and Vensaire.

All of these bands are guaranteed to gratify and fulfill all of your sexual musical needs!

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Photo Courtesy of Canon Logic and Planetary Group.

OK, enough self promotion and back to the matter at hand. Which is, Canon Logic is a really great band! If you haven’t heard of these fellas, do yourself a favor and watch this video:

Canon Logic’s Official Video for their new single “IBOK”.

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Photo Courtesy of Canon Logic and Planetary Group.

So there you have it folks, you officially now have plans for 2/10, 2/17 and 2/24. See you there!

-HVTBM-

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Stamping_Mill_Cover

Photo Courtesy of Stamping Mill.

Last week, I posted a quick a review on HVTBM of Stamping Mill’s new single, “Belong”. After listening to the projects latest single, I found myself being drawn to repeatedly listening to it. Angular and random, yet organized and orchestrated. Stamping Mill‘s sound is a clear illustration of chaos theory, minute differences in a larger condition, springing forth possibilities of musical directions unseen and unpredicted.

When listening to Stamping Mill you may find yourself thinking, “Is there a chorus? Is there a bridge?” the question that followed shortly for me was, “Does there need to be a chorus? Does there need to be a bridge?” haven’t those musical constructs been driven into the ground by mainstream culture? As an audience, do we always have to be patronizingly patted on the head and given a “hook”, so that we can be relieved of the responsibility of remembering a melody? Do we really need anymore music that follows the Clear Channel formulaic guide for success? I personally don’t think we do. In an era where music is used more to sell ad space, it’s inspiring to hear a musician creating art on their own terms, pushing people to think, and distributing their music in a way that the artist sees fit.

The element I appreciate the most about Stamping Mill, is the honesty. The line has been drawn in the proverbial sand, you can like this project or not, I find that’s a true sign of interesting music. When I listen to Stamping Mill, I feel that it’s a call to arms for us musicians. As a musician, if you don’t like something or you’re not willing to accept certain things about our industry, then don’t participate in that aspect of the industry. We no longer have to fuel the machinery of the record business with our creative blood if we don’t want to. We don’t have to play for cheap beer and a small percentage of the door at music venues that we’ve helped fill with paying customers. We no longer have to accept, we can refuse! It’s up to us to find a new and better trail to blaze.

Enough of my insane babbling and on with the interview!

HV: When I read Stamping Mill‘s bio, it mentioned that you go by a pseudonym of “Joseph”. What significance is behind that particular name? And why do you feel a need to go by a pseudonym?

SM: Joseph was my grandfather’s name.  He was a silverminer for 30 years & had a shitty life.  He wanted to be a musician & played an accordion in bars & brothels.  He sacrificed so that his kids & grandkids could have a better life.  The names, Joseph & Stamping Mill, are a small tribute to him.

I use a pseudonym because I want this project to be about an experiment in new music, rather than about a person.  I’m also a little bit reserved & I think I can make more interesting music, if I’m not concerned with what others think.

HV: I recently watched an interview of Michael Gira from the band SWANS. He mentioned in the interview that an entity named “Joseph”, speaks through him and uses him as a puppet. Are you the “Joseph” fueling Michael Gira’s inspiration?

SM: No way.

HV: As one musician to another, I have to say that I respect your choice to not tour or to perform live. I myself have done the touring/performing circuit and whilst it gives me a feeling of gratification, I’m usually unhappy with how most venues financially treat musicians. Was your decision to stop performing live financially based, or was it never really what you set out to do as an artist?

SM: I played live for a few years, but I really didn’t enjoy it that much.  I can’t pretend to get excited about a song that I’ve played 200 times.  And besides that, I’m not really a good performer.

We all need to promote our music & it’s flattering to get positive feedback, but ultimately I think it leads to conformity.  People tend to enjoy music that is familiar to them.  The more you play live, the more you’re likely to play to the audience & conform to what is fashionable at the time.  That’s why bands from the same city often have similar sounds.  I want to keep this project as pure as possible & one of the ways to do that, is to keep it away from live performances.

HV: Do you find other musicians giving you weird looks when you mention you have no interest in performing live?

SM: I’m well aware that most musicians think that you’re not a real band if you don’t play live.  I understand that & that’s why I usually refer to Stamping Mill as a project rather than a band.

I have a few former band mates that help me with technical issues like EQ, mixing, & drums, but I don’t really seek feedback from anyone else, so I don’t get any weird looks.

HV: Something that I really enjoy about your single “Belong”, is a feeling that the instruments all have their own personality. You’ve mentioned that you use a randomization program, can you explain more about this program? It sounds pretty amazing!

SM: The songwriting process is as follows:

Stamping Mill uses 4 separate guitar parts for every song that are constructed randomly by a basic Excel computer program that I designed.  First, I develop a song structure, usually comprised of multiple sections.  Then, I create one or more melodies or cadences for each section, which is sort of transcribed into the randomization program.  Next, I input the various scales that I want to use for each section of the song into the randomization file.  The program then spits out the notes in a sequence & then I record the guitars (or xylophone or cuatro or dombra) using that sequence & the cadence that I constructed.

If I want a section of a song to be sonically pleasing, I use the same scale for all 4 guitars.  If I want a section to sound chaotic, I use the full 12-note scale for every guitar.  Usually, I try to make sure that the instruments are not all in the same key in order to add some contrast.  I just try things out & go with it.

The bass, drums, & vocals are deliberately written to drive the songs towards a more traditional structure.  Some of the songs come out differently (than) I envisioned, but I leave it as is. As you can probably guess, it’s a very labor-intensive process, but I enjoy it.

HV: Aside from the randomization program, what other gear do you use when you write and record? I.E. laptop, mics, mixers…  Etc.

SM: I run the guitars through a 4-track & then into Protools.  I’ve always loved the tones of those cheap analog Tascam 4-tracks.  I don’t know why.  If you turn up the Tascam a bit, you get a light natural distortion.  Sometimes I run the guitars through an Overdrive pedal with very light distortion.

I mostly play a Les Paul Standard & Studio, but I also use a Line 6 Variax & a guitar that was reconstructed from old parts I’ve found over the years.  

I use a Shure Beta 58A mic to record hand drums, xylos, & other instruments (dombra & cuatro).

HV: How has Aleatoric or “Chance” techniques changed your writing process? Do you think you’ll ever use a more traditional writing process in the future?

SM: It has completely changed the way I write music.  For the most part, I think in terms of cadences & moods rather than melodies or progressions.  On the other hand, ‘Belong’ was written as a traditional song years ago & then converted into it a Stamping Mill song.  I liked how that turned out, so I will probably do more of that in the future.

I’m always a little tempted to write traditional songs, but as I said before, I want to keep Stamping Mill pure.  My goal is to develop this style of music & just see where it goes.  Some of the songs sound terrible to me, but I release them anyway because it’s part of the development process.  I feel like I’m on the right track as long as I’m trying out new things.

HV: I saw on your website that you give Stamping Mill’s music away for free, I also noticed that you have companion artwork that is tied to each song that you sell instead. This is a really interesting model. Do you feel that your audience responds positively to this?

SM: Well, we only have 10 songs & I’ve only sold a few of them, so no.  I don’t expect to make any money off of this project, so I want to try something different.  I actually think this could be the future of music; where musicians control their own music, give it away for free, & sell the superfans something personal that they can collect & enjoy.  In a way, it’s sort of like selling paintings.

HV: Do you think you’ll ever have a desire to perform live again or tour?

SM: Not unless I felt like I had something innovative to contribute to live performances.  I don’t see it happening.

I want to give an appreciative thanks to Planetary Group, 42°53’N 74°46’E Records, and of course Stamping Mill. Go here to listen to some free music and buy some art while your at it.

 And remember, keep the frequency low on your metaverse dial.

 -HVTBM-

Photo Courtesy of Rare Monk and Planetary Group.

Photo Courtesy of Rare Monk and Planetary Group.

BAND MEMBERS

Dorian Aites: Vocals, Guitar, Keys, Violin
Forest Gallien: Bass, Keys
Isaac Thelin: Violin, Saxophone
Jake Martin: Guitar
Rick Buhr: Drums

Today’s quick band profile is of Portland(ia), Oregon’s Rare Monk. The band’s recent single,Death By Proxy is like one amazingly, enormous hook! It feels like I’ve heard this song before, but in a good way. Not in a mass-produced, redundant way. Fans of Grizzly BearLocal Natives, and Phoenix should really give Rare Monk a listen.

Photo Courtesy of Rare Monk and Planetary Group

Photo Courtesy of Rare Monk and Planetary Group

The 2nd single off of Rare Monk’s Death By Proxy EP is, Underground“. The tune has a great half-time feel, vocoder effects, and well placed string arrangements. Rare Monk has a wonderful talent of letting each instrument breathe and co-exist with one another, giving the song’s elements a puzzle-like, interlocking quality.

Photo Courtesy of Rare Monk and Planetary Group.

Photo Courtesy of Rare Monk and Planetary Group.

Rare Monk has a radio friendly accessibility. But not in a patronizing, mind numbing-ly, shallow context. With Rare Monk, there is a genuineness and honest approach to their music. I don’t feel the band is musically holding back, or mincing any of their abilities in order to fit into an indie-rock mold.

Photo Courtesy of Rare Monk and Planetary Group.

Photo Courtesy of Rare Monk and Planetary Group.

You want to know more about Rare Monk? Well of course you do! That’s why you’re reading this amazing blog isn’t it? You big silly head. Here are some super cool websites for you to peruse. Just look below, I made it real easy for you. I know, I know… What would you do without HVTBM to spoon-feed you all of this great music? You’re welcome.

So put a bird on it (Sorry, I couldn’t help it.) and check out this amazing band.

www.raremonk.com
www.raremonk.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/raremonk
www.twitter.com/raremonk

-HVTBM-

Photo Courtesy of PopGun Booking/ZZZ’s/Dead Till Tuesday/Neg-Fi/Thank You Martin Van Buren.

There is going to be an amazing showcase of musical performances by ZZZ’s, Dead Till Tuesday, NegFi, and Thank You Martin Van Buren. The show is in partnership with the one and only PopGun Booking. The event will be held at the Glasslands Gallery located at 289 Kent Avenue Brooklyn, NY on November 26th, 2012.

Want to know more about the bands playing this event? Just click on the band’s name:

 ZZZ“S

Photo Courtesy of ZZZ’s and Daisuke Yoshida.

 DEAD TILL TUESDAY

Photo Courtesy of Dead Till Tuesday.

NEG-FI

Photo Courtesy of Neg-Fi.

THANK YOU MARTIN VAN BUREN

Photo Courtesy of Thank You Martin Van Buren.

CLICK HERE TO RSVP ON FACEBOOK

21+, Doors at 8:30pm

Hey, look below! An opportunity for you to invest in live music.

Tickets-$10

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS

This show will provide all the noise-rock shenanigans you could ever ask for.

And remember who loves you. HVTBM loves you, that’s who.

-HVTBM-

Photo Courtesy of RBTS WIN and Keith Hernandez.

ROBOTS:

Javier Bolea – Cliff Worsham – Jim Debardi 

I am very excited for this weeks interview on HVTBM. Here we go! Asheville, NC’s, RBTS WIN!

HV: RBTS WIN released “The Dark Ones” in December of 2011, how has the album been received so far? And are there any plans to release the album in different media formats, I.E. Vinyl?

RBTS: So far all of the press on “The Dark Ones” has been really good. We consider this our most dynamic album to date, so our hopes were high. We’ve seen that point being made about the album and we are grateful for that. Being sample based, Vinyl is a huge influence on the band. We hope to one day be able to listen to ourselves on wax.  For now, you can get copies of the album via our web page www.rbtswin.com in both digital and CD.

HV: Being from Asheville, NC. I used to see Cliff quite frequently in the music scene playing in various bands. Most notably, Post-Hardcore band Secret Lives. Cliff, what spurred the interest to pursue an obviously different style of music with RBTS WIN?

Photo Courtesy of RBTS WIN and Nathan Shafer

Cliff: I had always produced electronic music in some form. This band is what I consider my adult attempt at music, all of the stuff before this I just consider practice for who I am now. RBTS WIN was formed in 2008, I had been doing both Secret Lives and this band at the same time. SL disbanded in ’09 and I was able to focus on this project as a full-time thing.

HV: Recently, RBTS WIN played at MOOG AHA AVL, which is presented at the MOOG store in downtown Asheville. What was the experience like performing there?

Courtesy of http://www.shufflemag.com/

RBTS: AMAZING! Moog is so good to the locals. It was a treat for us to see our band in such a polished and professional way, I’m sure that none of us ever thought we’d be involved with such a great company. The show was very intimate (only about 125 people), so we got to just have a good time with our closest friends and fans and go with it. Plus, having the opportunity to play with all those toys was pretty jammin’.

HV: I see a lot of photos of the group with Roland SP-404s, Akai Samplers, Micro-Korgs, and MOOG Synths. Which do you guys prefer, production hardware and instruments you physically play? Or production and editing programs like Reason and Ableton Live?

Photo Courtesy of RBTS WIN and ERIC GRAHAM PHOTOGRAPHY

RBTS: We all grew up playing instruments in bands, so having hardware is easy for us. Computers were not really a big dig early on in our generation, so we were always using hardware that was either kicked down to us, or we saved, and saved to get. Ableton is what it is, it gives anyone the ability to produce music. When you use samplers you have to get to know that particular piece of equipment, it is a very intimate and hands on way to go. As of now, we use MPC4k, MPC2kXL, and the sp404sx for production and we record into pro tools.

HV: I noticed that the band seems to be based out of Asheville and Miami, does RBTS WIN split it’s time between these locations? And if so, do you guys think its beneficial as a band to split your time between multiple locales?

RBTS: Javi is from Miami, so we are back and forth throughout the year, mainly being based in Asheville. Though, Javi is always fantasizing about palm trees and thunder storms. The benefit is being able to hit spots on our way down to MIA. On our way to Winter Music Conference 2011, it gave us the opportunity to play Gainesville Total Bummer fest and more.

Photo Courtesy of RBTS WIN and Nathan Shafer

HV: What are some of your favorite towns, cities, or venues to play in the south? And when you leave the south, what are your favorite places to travel to and play?

RBTS: Atlanta, Miami, Gainesville, Orlando, Johnson City, TN are some of our favorite southern spots. We haven’t done much travel north yet, though we plan on changing that soon with NY, DC, PA dates in the works for April. We hope to go over as well as we have done in the south.

HV: Are any of those dates confirmed yet?

Photo Courtesy of RBTS WIN and ZEN SUTHERLAND/MOUNTAIN EXPRESS

RBTS: We have confirmed dates for sure and hope to release those dates within the next couple weeks.

HV: Any bands from Asheville, Miami, or any other cities that you guys think the world should know about?

Photo Courtesy of RBTS WIN and ZEN SUTHERLAND/MOUNTAIN EXPRESS

RBTS: TWO FRESH(AVL) Violens(BK) Rabbit Punch(FL) Attached Hands(FL) Kentsoundz(MIA) The Critters(AVL) Curtains(AVL) The Contra Verse(ATL) man, there are so many bands doing cool things right now its hard to name them all.

HV: Any other major plans for RBTS WIN in 2012?

RBTS: We are releasing a split EP with our good friends in the Hip Hop act, The Mic Company in April. We are also working on our follow-up to The Dark Ones, “Palm Casual 2”. We are planning on doing a lot more travel in the future and quitting our jobs would be awesome as well…

For more information on RBTS WIN! Check out the sites below:

-HVTBM-

Photo Courtesy of RBTS WIN and Kent Hernandez

Photo Courtesy of PearlAndTheBeard.com

 Emily: Vocals, Cello. Jeremy: Vocals, Guitar. Jocelyn: Vocals, Percussion, Melodica, Kazoo, Glockenspiel.

This week’s interview is one I am very excited about! I was invited out to a Pearl And The Beard single-release show at The Music Hall of Williamsburg earlier this month. I had heard of the band’s name for sometime, but I had never heard their music; I was pleasantly surprised by my experience at their Prodigal Daughter”  single-release show.

Pearl And The Beard has an uncanny knack of breaking down the fourth wall between performer and audience, creating a welcoming and comfortable environment in which to enjoy their music. At times, I found myself feeling almost hypnotized by the group’s focused and solid musical execution, only to be pulled from my trance by wave-like crescendos and a powerfully emotive performance.

Photo Courtesy of PearlAndTheBeard.com and shervinfoto.com

 HV: How long has the band been playing together?

      PATB: 4 Years.

HV: Where did the name for Pearl and the Beard come from?

 PATB: Straight off our dome pieces. There is no Pearl and there is no Beard.

HV: Your album Killing the Darlings weaves in and out of folksy, gospel-esque tinged tunes like “Douglas Douglass” to more modern sounding songs like “Sweetness.”  The really great thing about this album is the different feels and song styles. And yet, there is a strong thread or motif connecting all of the ideas. What is the usual writing process for PATB? And as three strong, independent songwriters, how does the group make it all mesh so nicely?

PATB: Thanks a lot! Well, I think the common thread is that we all like the song. And since we are very different songwriters, but don’t just like one type of music, we are a bit more open to things, and thus we create a sort of hodgepodge of musical sounds. We write in every way imaginable, from having complete songs we edit as a group, to just ideas and combining them, to word games, etc. We have worked with each other for a while now and know our strengths, so we try to nurture them as we go along and push each other to be better.

 HV: Pearl and the Beard recently played at the Music Hall of Williamsburg for a single release show; what is the name of the band’s new single?

      PATB: Prodigal Daughter – which can be listened to and ordered HERE.

Photo Courtesy of PearlAndTheBeard.com

HV: A really interesting promotional tool that PATB is doing right now is selling posters that have a digital album download code on the back of the poster. How did this idea come about? And, aside from iTunes, where else can your audience purchase your music?

 PATB: The idea came from looking at what we as music listeners tend to do. I buy a CD and I burn it on my comp for my ipod and stack the CD in some nonuseful place. We wanted something someone might cherish like in the old days but also have the music to go along with it.

 HV: PATB is on a 5-week tour right now; what are some of your favorite cities and towns to play?

 PATB: We love every city equally, like a parent with multiple children. YES!!

HV: Any bands that you’ve enjoyed playing/touring with?

 PATB: Too many to count and we know we’ll forget some: Larcenist, Anna Vogelzang, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, Sharon Van Etten, Ivan and the Terribles, Daniel and the Lion, Dinosaur Feathers, Wakey! Wakey!, Ugly Purple Sweater, Kingsley Flood, David Wax Museum, Ani DiFranco, Dar Williams, and the list goes on….

 HV: NYC is filled with people that have a strong obsession for food. Any independent cafes, restaurants, or bars that the band likes to frequent? Or any specific NYC food/beverage items you guys can’t live without?

      PATB: We often meet before tours at Little Skips in Bushwick to get a quick bite and some coffee before we hit the road and after we’ve loaded up the van.

HV: Any super-duper music plans that Pearl and the Beard will be pursuing for 2012?

 PATB: Well, right now, we’re planned up ’til about August. But what we have planned is to open for Ingrid Michaelson, open with Ani DiFranco again, go to Europe twice, tour Canada and more of the US, write songs for a new album.

Photo Courtesy of Pearl And The Beard and teaandbrie.com

Thanks To Pearl And The Beard for taking the time out to speak with HVTBM!

Check out this site below to see if PATB is playing a town near you!

http://pearlandthebeard.com/shows/

For more information about Pearl And The Beard or to purchase any Pearl And The Beard merchandise, check out these sites:

http://pearlandthebeard.com/

http://store.thefamilyrecords.com/collections/patb

https://www.facebook.com/PearlandtheBeard

https://twitter.com/#!/pearlnthebeard

-HVTBM-

This Thursdays Harnessing Viruses Band Profile is Knoxville, Tennessee’s Shortwave Society.

Photo Courtesy of Shelly Obarr

Jason Day keyboards, Programming   Grant Geren Guitar, Vocals

Curtis Geren – Drums, Vocals Sarah HurdViolin, Glockenspiel, Flute Taylor Hiner Bass

Formerly: Alexia PantanizopoulosCello, Vocals

For some reason, when I listen to Shortwave Society, I have a strange reoccurring thought. Is this Knoxville, TN  band a pop group from a parallel universe? Is it possible that if Tesla was more well-known than Edison, or if Elvis hadn’t joined the army, or if Drew Carey never replaced Bob Barker on “The Price Is Right“, that maybe, there would have been a shift in the POP culture paradigm? Would bands like Shortwave Society be more of a household name, gracing covers of world-renowned music magazines, or establishing firm strangleholds on the top spots of the music charts?

Whilst luring audiences into familiar territory, Shortwave Society has a great skill at drawing an audience further into their world of intricate, interlocking melodies and clockwork machinery- like rhythms. Putting into service the use of odd phrasings, distinct melodies, unusual sound devices (like rotary telephone vocoders) and glitchy percussive elements, they defy the notion of what is normal even for indie rock.

I recently spoke with Jason Day the keyboardist of Shortwave Society to get a glimpse of what is happening in the world of this intriguing and eclectic Knoxville, TN band. I wanted to see what the music world can expect from this exciting and stimulating group.

Photo Courtesy of Shelly Obarr

HV: Knoxville, TN is a great little city. Are there any specific venues that the band likes to play or sometimes just hang out at?

Jason: We like to play at the Pilot Light the most, but Barley’s Taproom is cool too. Preservation Pub is also a fun little watering hole where a lot of musicians like to play and hang out

HV: Shortwave Society tours pretty frequently. Unfortunately, a lot bands seem to not tour that much these days due to gas prices and the economy. What keeps the band touring?

Jason: We’re scaling back our touring a bit as well. We have a trip to Calgary, Canada coming up to play the Sled Island Festival. After that, we are probably going to have to be a bit more selective about our tour schedule. There are several cities that we really love to play in though, so we’re going to try to find (a) balance between traveling and paying our bills! It is definitely a hard time to be a touring musician.

Photo Courtesy of Shelly Obarr

HV: Shortwave Society’s van was stolen somewhat recently with your gear in it. How did that effect the band in the touring and writing process? Were you able to get any of your stuff back?

Jason: Yes, last November our van and much of our gear were stolen from Curtis’s driveway. We eventually recovered the van, but it was empty when we got it back. It was a pretty devastating setback. We played several shows with borrowed gear until we were able to replace some stuff. We had a lot of help from some tremendously good-hearted friends and fans who donated money to us through paypal and kickstarter. We were able to buy some new and different gear, which changed up our sound quite a bit. It was a terrible thing to go through, but I have to admit that I think we’re all happy with the new musical direction that we have taken as a result. Adding more traditional rock instruments such as bass and drums, has given the music a bit more thrust and the writing process has changed a bit to reflect this new sound palette as well.

HV: The music that Shortwave Society makes is lush with harmonies and sometimes it channels some of the great songwriters of the 20th century. “Not Enough Sleep” for example, momentarily sounds like it references Roy Orbison or The Beatles and then quickly snaps out of it. The juxtaposition between these familiar and beloved melodies set against the foreign backdrop of sometimes glitchy and oddly timed programmed beats is a really great sound. How does Shortwave Society make all of these different concepts and eras blend so nicely?

Jason: Thank you! That juxtaposition is definitely something that we strive for. I think that it comes somewhat naturally out of all of our different influences. When we’re all hanging out, we listen to a wide variety of music; classical, jazz, rock, brazilian, african, etc. so, when we write music all of those influences are there to reference. It is really difficult to come up with anything truly “new” in the world of music, but if you cross the streams of different musical traditions and aesthetics, there are endless possibilities!

HV: The band had the experience of recording with one of Mark Linkous’ (of SparkleHorse fame), creative partners what was that process and encounter like?

Jason: Ah yes, Scott Minor lives here in Knoxville. He is an incredible engineer. He knows his gear very well because he has literally built a lot of it. He also has a great ear and was very intuitive in knowing how to take our home studio pre-productions (for Voyeur) and to make them sound very professional and, most of all, serve the essence of the songs. We are looking forward to working with him more in the future. (On) a side note because you mentioned Mark: He had been staying here in Knoxville at the time of his death and I had gotten to know him a little bit. I was even fortunate enough to get to make a little music with him. He was a real genius musician. I learned a lot watching Mark and Scott work together. They were very intuitive with each other. I feel like I’ve come to have a much deeper appreciation of  “sound” as a musical equivalent to melody, harmony, and rhythm through working with those guys.

Photo Courtesy of Shelly Obarr

HV: Any other bands or artists in Knoxville, TN that you think are awesome and people should know about?

Jason: There are lots of incredible musicians here in Knoxville. As far as Ktown bands go, we’re all big fans of the Royal Bangs. They’ve worked hard for the success that they’ve been getting lately, and it’s well deserved.

HV: Any favorite cities/towns that the band has had the chance to play when on tour?

Jason: We like Knoxville, Richmond, Baltimore, NYC, Durham, Charleston, Atlanta, etc, etc… Anywhere there are good open-minded people

So there you have it folks! Be sure to keep a look out for Shortwave Society.

Photo Courtesy of Jason Golliher

Shortwave Society will be playing these upcoming shows in the near future so stay tuned.

June 23,25 Sled Island Festival Calgary, Canada
July, 29 Nomadic Roots Festival Crimora, Virginia
September, 22-24 Midpoint Music Festival Cincinatti, Ohio

-HVTBM-

One of the bands that is featured this week on Harnessing Viruses is Asheville, NC’s Kovacs & The Polar Bear. Recently, this Alt/Country quartet received some attention that helped them to win the Best Of MVA Awardalong with the Crowd Favorite Award for their video Skeleton Crew, a single off the bands album, Loathsome Teeth. The band has also received considerable praise for their live performances, helping Kovacs and the Polar Bear to land spots at the long running Asheville, NC street fair Bele Chere  and most recently, the newly established Secret Stages festival in Birmingham, Alabama.

The music that Kovacs and the Polar Bear creates has a warm and familiar sound, The band has an ability to write classic, simplistic and sentimental acoustic tunes, such as, “Ruth” and “Heart Sewin”. They also employ more modern implements, like the use of drones and synthlines in “Ox and Bull” and “Tiny Terribles”, and their overall sound is tied together with country-esque rockers like “Yellow Bellied Crops Part 2” and “Grave Steppin’ “.  Most noticeably, there are moments when the group conjures the ambience and vibe of Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline, along with a feel and emotional kinship comparable to artists affiliated with Omaha, Nebraska’s Saddle Creek Records.

Kovacs and the Polar Bear stays busy these days. They are diligently working on their new album (tentatively) entitled Second Sisters and playing regularly in the Asheville, NC music scene which is helping the band methodically and consistently build a strong fan base in the Western North Carolina area. I caught up with Chris Lee and Andrew Woodward of Kovacs and the Polar Bear to discuss what they’ve been up to, what the scene is like in Asheville, N.C. and of course to find out what their favorite local beers are.

Photo Courtesy of Megan Stone

Nick Kovacs– Lead vocals and guitar

Andrew Woodward– Drums, backup vocals, and bass

Chris Lee– Bass, keyboards, guitar and backup vocals

Joe Chang– Guitar, backup vocals, keys, and bass

HV: When I saw Kovacs and the Polar Bear play a couple years back, you guys would switch your designated instruments on different songs, is that something you still do and is that a tool you use in the songwriting process?

Chris: We still do that a lot, and we’re trying to perfect the art (of) not taking forever to switch instruments on stage. I’m not sure how we decide who plays what. Most of the time it just depends on what we feel like playing. Like, I will really want to play keys on a song which means someone needs to play bass, or vice versa. Some times a song just doesn’t sound right with certain instrumentation, so it’s time to switch.

Photo Courtesy of Patrick Dempsey

Andrew: I wouldn’t say its a huge part of the songwriting process. It’s really just a matter of doing what sounds right. I feel that we switch based on the needs of the song. It’s also nice to change it up. We all love playing everything, and it’s fun to have the opportunity to switch.

HV: Do you feel that the Asheville music scene has changed and if so is the scene supportive of what you guys are doing?

Chris: I honestly don’t know what Asheville’s music scene is doing, ever. Asheville is a small town with a ton of bands that all sound very different from each other. I see a lot of bands grow here and gain a lot of attention from local media, but at some point everybody just wants to play out of town. Sometimes it feels like most of Asheville just wants to hear Bluegrass all the time, but as the city grows, the individual scenes are becoming more apparent. I think the single best thing that has happened to Asheville’s music scene is Harvest Records. They opened their record store in 2004 and have brought some of my favorite groups into Asheville, a lot of bands that might be passed over by us otherwise (including War on Drugs, who, thanks to the Harvest guys, we were able to open for last fall).  As far as support goes I think we couldn’t have asked for a better year.

Andrew: I feel like we have received a TON of support! A lot of people I’ve always looked up to have taken us under their wings. Venue owners, promoters, and fellow musicians are constantly sharing any help they can. Asheville is a very supportive scene for us, and yes, I feel that it has changed and is constantly changing for the better. Every time someone starts a new band or festival, everything evolves.

HV: What other Asheville bands do all of you think are great? And what venues in AVL do you like to play the most?

Chris: The Critters, Soft Opening, Floating Action, and Marley Carroll are the local acts I’m really into right now, but I can’t speak for the rest of the band. I know their list would include Tyler Ramsey, CobraHorse, The If You Wannas, The Luxury Spirit, Knives and Daggers. . . ok I’m gonna stop. Our favorite place to play in town is The Grey Eagle. We always have great shows there, and the owners and staff are just super. Some other great places to play are The Emerald Lounge, Broadways, and The Majestic House. That last one isn’t a venue, it’s just our friends’ house, but you know, house parties are my favorite things to play.

Andrew: First off, my favorite place to play is The Grey Eagle. It feels like home. The people who run that place are amazing at everything. It’s also my favorite place to see a show. As far as bands, I hate to miss The Critters, Floating Action, Town Mountain, Joshua Carpenter, Knives and Daggers! The list could keep going!

Photo Courtesy of Patrick Dempsey

HV: Where can we buy Loathsome Teeth?

Chris: Here in Asheville you can get it at Harvest Records or Static Age. Online you can buy it on iTunes, Amazon.com, CDBaby and any of their affiliated sites. And of course, you can always just ask us. I think most of our social media sites have a link to buy it, and we would always be happy to mail you a cd if you contact us. We’re easy, and very unofficial.

HV: Where did you record the album and who engineered it?  What was the experience like?

Chris: We recorded at Hillcreek Studios in Candler, NC. Which is this awesome refurbished barn on this beautiful piece of land about 20 minutes west of Asheville. Loathsome Teeth was engineered by Russell Anders, in between smoke breaks. It was the most relaxed recording experience of our lives. Russell is awesome, and hilarious, and he became a good friend of ours in the process. He taught us a lot about recording and was very liberal with his time. I think that has made all recording sessions since then go a lot smoother.

HV: Kovacs and the Polar Bear released a video this year for the single”Skeleton Crew“. Who directed the video, and how has the response been toward the video and the song?

Chris: Joe Chang, our guitar player, directed the video and our good friend Matt Warren filmed it with his super awesome camera. The response has been amazing. The video won the Grand prize and Crowd Favorite at the 2011 Music Video Asheville and I think, like, a lot of people have been watching it, not just our moms.

HV: You guys recently performed at Secret Stages 2011 in Birmingham, AL what was that experience like?

Chris: We enjoyed ourselves. It was a first year festival with some kinks to work out, but we got to see some great bands, namely Madeline, from Athens, and The Love Language, from Raleigh. For most of us, it was our first time in Birmingham, and I don’t know if we were in the wrong part of town, which was downtown, but there didn’t seem to be a lot going on.

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Fedynak

HV: Are there plans for any shows up North?

Chris: No plans right now. We always want to.

Andrew: Plans: No. Dreams: Yes! We’ve been trying to book some sort of tour, but I think that so many areas are so saturated with bands coming through that it makes it hard to find good shows. Hopefully, sometime in the fall we can make a Northward micro-tour happen.

HV: Any big shows or events coming up?

Chris: Well, most importantly, our new album “Second Sisters” will be out late Summer to early Fall, so we will of course expect an interview post release. We have some great local shows coming up this Summer. One, with Madeline, one with Tiny Creatures, and the If You Wannas CD Release Party, oh yeah and Bele Chere, our local HUGE street festival

* BONUS QUESTION

Asheville, NC is considered a Beer City. What local beers do you guys like?

Chris: My favorite is French Broad Brewery’s 13 Rebels.

Andrew: I have always loved Pisgah Pale Ale and Wedge Iron Rail IPA is the best.

Thanks again to Chris and Andrew!  Keep an eye on these guys. The music world will definitely hear more from Kovacs and the Polar Bear in the future for sure!

-HVTBM-

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