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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My first . . .

This week's edition is with a couple of members from Ice Eater. I've known Jordan for years because I used to work with his uncle. Unbeknownst to me, I was at the first DJ set Jordan did at Dada. It was there that I learned about the attraction between drunk college students and hip-hop.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Have it your way

I've decided to revamp my Pandora listening experience. After twelve months away from the site, I want make some better stations with plenty of variety. I need good music to work to, and stuff that will not make me long for a big bed and pillow. And I don't want music that makes me want to bounce off walls.

Since stations devoted to Converge, Nada Surf, and Strung Out will make long for driving 100 miles while sitting at a desk, I'm opting for Carly Simon, Walter Jackson, and Explosions in the Sky. Consider this going soft, but I look at it as making sensible choices with music.

The difficulty that I have involves the degree of familiarity and unfamiliarity. How many times do I want to hear a song over and over again? How often do I want to take a gamble on something I've never heard before? Good questions to consider since I don't like burn out.

My hope is that I can enjoy hearing music I don't have or have never heard before. And I let someone else do the picking, because it's hard to play DJ when you're trying to work at the same time.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Triple-D

I have a healthy addiction to watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Yes, that show on Food Network with Guy Fieri where he drives all across the country for one-off havens. If it's on and I'm not watching VH1 Classic, then I watch.

Even though every episode follows the same format (imagine the drinking game involving fist-bumps and the words "texture," "melt in your mouth," and "amazing"), no place is the same from the others. And it's a nice reminder about why one should celebrate your local places.

While it's nice that Applebee's is available anywhere with cheap beer, going to a place like Angry Dog or Twisted Root is much more satisfying experience. The places are locally owned and their menus are not created for the lowest common denominator.

Of course, given how the show is on Food Network, it makes me want to eat. And also seek out local places that I haven't tried before. In the past few weeks, Jenny and I have hit up Fuzzy's Tacos, Lovers Pizza, and BB Bop Rice Bowls. All great places with reasonable prices and close to home.

As much as I disdain a lot of reality TV (especially the "competition" shows), Triple-D is highly watchable and entertaining. Now to think about where we'll eat next.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My first . . .

This week's edition is with Jesse from These United States. Some interesting answers and a nice little story about playing with Willie Nelson.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Making Beds in a Burning House

Donna brought this up last week, and I thought it was too good to pass up without comment: She has recently taken to making the beds in her house. After all these years of being a "bed rebel" (as she calls it), she enjoys straightening up the bed she shares with her husband as well as the beds their kids sleep in.

As someone who has visited Donna and Noel's house, I vaguely remember seeing an unmade bed. Seeing this didn't make me think less of these well-spoken and well-rounded friends of mine. I remember more about the Days of Heaven, Tunnel of Love, and London Calling posters in their abode, along with a vast library of comics, CDs, and DVDs. Their home is a reflection of who they are and what they like -- as a home should be.

When it comes to the beds that I sleep in -- including hotel rooms -- I make them by habit. Not only does a made bed look good, it sure is nice to climb into one that has smooth sheets. Smooth sheets help me relax as I drift off.

But I seem to have this daily battle with my beagle Victory. It's rather frustrating when she gets under the covers and creates her own little fort. I have no clue what I'm getting into when I head into my bed. She could be at the foot of the bed or smack dab in the spot where I sleep. Everything's crumpled, so I usually straighten some things out. But she's a wonderful part of my life, so I simply deal with her erratic behavior.

What's funny is that I was not someone who made my bed growing up. What was the point? Was company coming over? Oddly, I still have that attitude when I stay at my parents' house. I rarely straighten things up. When I have Victory with me, making a bed is completely pointless because she likes to curl up in it when I'm not there.

Consider this another slow embrace of adulthood. I might be an adult on paper, but I don't adhere to doing everything because I'm age appropriate. I do this because I want to.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Put them in the iron maiden!

Here's a fun little thing, showing a little behind the scenes of the writing and editing process. Read my edited review of last Friday's Iron Maiden/Coheed and Cambria review, and read the following, my original draft. Notice little differences and tweaks here and there, and compare and contrast.

Iron Maiden, Coheed and Cambria
Gexa Energy Pavilion
Friday, August 17


Seems like Iron Maiden’s set on Friday night was a make-up for the last time they were in town. Talking to a number of people who saw that show back in June of 2010, the common complaint was, too many new songs and not enough old songs.

No one leaving the old Starplex said that after the “Maiden England” tour on Friday.

The six-piece gave the nearly-filled shed 100 minutes of classic songs, including “2 Minutes to Midnight,” “The Prisoner,” “Run to the Hills,” and “The Number of the Beast.” On an arctic themed-set, along with several permutations of the band’s mascot, Eddie, a handful of songs from Seventh Son of a Seventh Son were performed and the “latest” material came from ’92’s Fear of the Dark.

Frontman Bruce Dickinson still sounds as good as he’s always been, hitting operatic high note after note with complete ease. And not too bad since he ran and jumped around the stage constantly. Bassist Steve Harris throttled every one of his four strings while guitarists Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, and Janick Gers had plenty of fun tossing off solos. Harris and Smith did a fine job on backing vocals, especially on the harmonies with “Can I Play With Madness.” And once again, Nicko McBrain playing complicated Maiden’s material look as easy as playing basic jazz shuffle.

Earlier, Coheed and Cambria played a set that was good at the beginning but really kicked into greatness towards the end. Surrounded by their Keywork logo, touching on material from all of their previously-released albums, they included their cover of Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell.” The very appreciative crowd went especially wild for that one mere seconds into it.

Personal bias: My first time to see both Maiden and Coheed; bands I’ve enjoyed since college. I certainly want to see a headlining set from Coheed after this show.

Random quote: “If you find the guy who’s smoking the weed, tell him to keep smoking it,” said a passerby usher.

Coheed’s set list:
“No World for Tomorrow”
“Gravemakers & Gunslingers”
“Delirium Trigger”
“Here We Are Juggernaut”
“The Running Free”
“Heaven and Hell”
“In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth:3”
“Welcome Home”

Maiden’s set list:
“Moonchild”
“Can I Play With Madness”
“The Prisoner”
“2 Minutes to Midnight”
“Afraid to Shoot Strangers”
“The Trooper”
“The Number of the Beast”
“Phantom of the Opera”
“Run to the Hills”
“Wasted Years”
“Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”
“The Clairvoyant”
“Fear of the Dark”
“Iron Maiden”
Encore
“Aces High”
“The Evil That Men Do”
“Running Free”

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My first . . .

This week's edition is a pretty special one. It's with Josh Eppard, the returning drummer of Coheed and Cambria. Originally I was going to interview Claudio, the band's frontman, but scheduling conflicts tied him up. Josh was cool enough to step in and the interview turned out well.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

120 bpm

I haven't played drums in front of people since last fall, but I've been playing in some sort of capacity almost every day. It's not just because I can't stop tapping along to music; I have a drive to be a better player. Yes, even after playing for nearly 18 years.

Back when I started playing, I tried playing along to records. Without any padding on my kit. So when I'd hit a cymbal, everything would get washed out. I didn't try drumming along to a record until last year. I don't know why it took me so long to realize that I could play along to records as long as there were sound-deadening pads on my kit. But that's how it's rolling these days.

Also helping things: playing along to a metronome. Playing by myself without a metronome can get boring very quickly. Working on my timing with the metronome on, things don't get boring. Since I tend to rush whenever I do a complicated fill or build-up, I hope to curb that with the electronic beep-bop-bop-bop-beep. (I wouldn't be surprised if I fell asleep with that sound in my head in the near future.)

I'm not so sure if or when I'll play with a band again. My hope is, if I can be a better player while I'm not playing with anybody, it would most certainly help out a band that appreciates that sentiment.

Monday, August 13, 2012

It's Happening Again

I must admit there was a sinking feeling when many of the bands I featured in Post reunited. Not that reunions are bad in general; it was just a little tough to stomach writing about bands being finished and then they reunite. I considered writing a new afterword, but that did not come to fruition. And while a number of bands that reunited have proceeded to do more shows and record new material (ie, Braid, Hot Water Music), some of the bands went dormant again.

I wasn't really surprised when Sunny Day Real Estate ceased touring and recording again. (Take a wild guess as to why, if you know their story.) The members of the Get Up Kids are doing other things in their lives, and who knows how long At the Drive-In will keep doing shows before people get tired of them playing the same set again and again.

Even though Texas is the Reason doesn't get a lot of coverage beyond a few paragraphs in the Jawbox chapter (read much more about them in Brian Peterson's Burning Fight book), I can't stress enough how great that band was and continues to have a great legacy. So, it's not surprise how much I enjoyed this 7-minute film on their 2012 reunion, which came online today. Speaking very frankly about the differences between their 2006 reunion and this one, things come across to me as sincere and genuine. Texas's Do You Know Who You Are? is still an incredible album. Definitely something I can listen to without having to be in a funk.

Again I'm faced with trying to write a final word about bands. There was a reason why I put 1985-2008 in the title, hoping that anything could happen after 2008. I certainly didn't think Sunny Day or At the Drive-In would ever consider playing again. And I certainly thought Braid was done. And who knew if Hot Water Music would do much more down the line. Still, it's nice to see these bands reunite. Given how these guys approach things in life, it's pretty obvious that it's not a cash-grab. It's purely from the heart.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

My first . . .

This week's edition is with the members of the Virgin Wolves. I asked some different questions this time out, and it was certainly fun to talk about The Song Remains the Same.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

In Love with a View


I've seen many in-store acoustic performances at Good Records, but Neil Halstead's recent one was probably one of the best I've ever seen. Not to over-hype things too much, but his 50-minute set was nothing short of fantastic. Even with false starts and forgotten lyrics.

This past Saturday, Jenny and I walked up to Good about 20 minutes before "show time" and we found none other than Jimmy Menkena talking with Neil. Menkena's band is planning on featuring Slowdive's "Machine Gun" on their next record, so it was very apt to see the two of them talking. Noticing my Slowride shirt, Neil said he had never heard of Slowride, the great Dallas punk band. Sure was nice to introduce him to at least the name.

I mentioned to Neil about the last time he was in town (10-ish years ago) when he played the Gypsy Tea Room. I was fortunate to interview him with my friends Brad and Nick, and we even met Sid Hillman, Neil's opening act who happened to be from Kingwood. I wasn't expecting him to remember me or my friends, but I certainly remember the whole evening. It was one of the best shows I saw in the tea room, given how intimate things were since Neil only played with his acoustic guitar and harmonica.

This in-store featured a few new songs from his latest record, and he then took requests. He honored shouts for "Who Do You Love," "In Love with a View," "Prayer for the Paranoid," and "Sarah." Once he opened his mouth, I was immediately reminded of why I love Neil's work, solo, with Slowdive or Mojave 3. He might sing in a whisper, but it's so delicate and soothing at the same time.

I'm happy that this was the first show I took Jenny to. She might have not known Neil's work before, but she came away satisfied and a fan. This certainly helped the show experience, and she was kind enough to take a picture of me with Neil. Now to make a Mojave 3 compilation for her, happily sharing this fantastic music . . .

Monday, August 06, 2012

Competition

If memory serves me correctly, I was not a competitive child growing up. I liked to play sports and had one meltdown in elementary school during P.E. When I got into music, I liked playing above all else, and I could care less about "challenging" someone for his or hers seat in concert band.

But when I started playing kickball a few years ago, something snapped. As in, people who are my friends off of the field are not my friends when we play against each other. Trash-talking, psych-out moments, complaining about calls, you name it.

I was expecting a throwdown yesterday when I played volleyball for DC9. Our team was made up of three full-timers (including my editor Audra), a walk-on player, and me with a fellow freelancer. Playing against the digital radio station Indie-Verse, I knew a couple of the players beforehand. When the ball was in play, my team's focus was trying to get the ball over the net and scoring. But when the ball wasn't in play, we were friendly and sportsman-like.

What a relief.

Matter of fact, when one of the players on the other team hurt his knee, we all helped him out and were thankful that he got back in the game after a few minutes.

After those guys and gals beat us 18-15, we all shook hands and hung out. I was glad that DC9 didn't come across as hungover wimps with no skills. And I was glad I didn't throw any hissy-fits.

Yet I reserve the right to protest any questionable calls in any sport I play in the future. It's just my style as an adult.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

My first . . .

This week's edition is with Vinnie Kircher from Jaill, a Sub Pop act. Despite the fact that his cell reception kept dropping (I stopped counting after five time), we talked about a lot of stuff.