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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Psycho Shanon

Given my time in radio, it's not far-fetched for me to interview radio personalities for the Observer. I've done a handful of stories before and I have no problem doing more of them. My editor was gracious enough to let me write about "Psycho" Shanon Murphy, a member of the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning show. She currently has a brain tumor on the stem of her brain and surgery is the only option.

Prior to yesterday, I had never met or interviewed her. We have mutual friends in the industry, but she was very open and honest with me on the phone yesterday afternoon. We talked for about ten minutes while I was between call reports at my merchandising job, and almost all of those minutes are in the interview that is now on DC9.

This was a very tough interview to do. I couldn't help be speechless while she explained to me the timeline of this and the severity of the issue. Extremely heavy stuff, but I was extremely impressed with her bravery and strength to get through this.

Johnny on the Spot

I've listened to many podcasts over the years, and I've secretly hoped to be on one someday. I'm a big fan of the Dig Me Out podcast as Tim and Jason review obscure albums from the '90s that never made it beyond college radio or 120 Minutes. They sound like guys I knew at the college radio station I worked at, something I have fond memories of.

A few months ago, I sent a copy of Post to Tim and he really enjoyed it. He had sent me a copy of his book, Power Ballad, and I enjoyed it as well. He asked me to be on the show and to suggest an album to review. I gave them the options of Do You Know Who You Are?, No Division, and Nothing Feels Good. They went with Do You Know Who You Are? and we talked a two Wednesdays ago.

If I sound like I'm talking a little slow, it's because I'm being very careful with my words. I love Texas is the Reason and I wanted to make sure I had all of my facts straight. I had spent a few hours reading the Texas chapter in Brian Peterson's Burning Fight as well as listening to podcasts and interviews with members of the band. Plus, I was nervous.

So if you have an hour to spare and want to hear me, Tim and Jason talk about this record, click here.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Juliet

Yesterday was not the first day I dealt with the loss of a dog. We always had a dog in my family growing up. When one died, we got another one. The breed was always a wire hair fox terrier and always a male. The dog stayed outside in the backyard (save for cold nights and my mother put him in the laundry room), and I usually feared the dog because of a terrier's usual desire to jump up on its hind legs when you walked towards them.

J.W. and Rocky were integral dogs of my childhood, and Bailey was a wonderful dog during my high school/college years. But when I first lived on my own, I didn't live with a dog for three years. When I decided to move in with Jason in 2004, I was a little concerned about living with a dog under the same roof. Until then, I thought all dogs that lived indoors chewed up valuable material possessions and always peed on carpet.

Yet for the five years I lived with Juliet, a schnauzer/terrier mix, she never chewed anything up and rarely peed on the floor. She was the epitome of a great dog: friendly, upbeat, and usually told you when she needed a bathroom break. She was a perfect pet during parties (even though she was accidentally let out a couple of times) and very importantly, she was there for me when I was the only one home.

I took to Juliet very quickly once I moved in. I voluntarily walked her every single day -- no matter what the weather was like -- helping me stick to a regular routine of walking. That routine led me to walk even farther, then eventually jog, and then get back into riding my bike. Essentially, Juliet gave me the opportunity to keep exercise as a lifestyle, not a nagging hassle.

When Jason moved out and took Juliet with him (she was his dog), I lived exactly one month without a dog. That was a very long month, and things picked up when I brought Victory home four years ago. Now Victory and I live with Jenny and her two dogs, and I can't imagine me and Jenny without dogs in our house.

All of this came from living with a dog for five years. Juliet lived to eighteen, which is an amazing age for any dog. I knew she was going downhill for the past few years. Every time I went to Jason and Dana's house, I made sure I said hello to Juliet and pet her, thinking it might be the last time I see her alive. She was hard of hearing, could barely see, lost a tremendous amount of weight, and was very aloof. She never minded petting, and I was always happy to see her.

I used to not understand why people would be so torn up over the passing of a dog. Now I get it, and I don't regret becoming close to one. I made the most out of every day I had with Juliet, and I make the most of the days I have with Victory, Truvy, and Sunny. Life has been very random with all kinds of difficulties and triumphs in the past two years, and having a dog greet me when I come home always has a healing effect.

And this path to the present was because of one dog. Yes, a dog. They're that important.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Barbeque and banana pudding

I have the Internet to thank for solving a longstanding mystery in my family. For decades, we have never known the biological family my grandmother came from. All we knew was that she was adopted, but that was it.

My uncle David loves genealogy. The guy gives the gift of a family tree to people as a wedding gift. He loves looking up people's history, but not knowing where his mother came from always made him wonder. He finally got his answer this year.

Mainly in part to the Internet and a lot of research, he found out that my grandmother had five siblings she never knew existed. Two of them are still alive, and they don't live too far away from where I live. Since a lot of the family was in town last weekend for a cousin's wedding, a group of us went down there and met as many as we could.

With plenty of barbeque and desserts (including a delicious banana pudding), there was no shortage of people to talk with and share pictures. I freely admit that the experience was overwhelming due to the amount of people involved. I knew there would be a ton of names and faces to remember, something I'm terrible about, even with people I see out and about in the music scene. But I figured I should share my interests and personality and hope I'd meet a few who shared them.

Not only did I meet a few who knew me from my traffic reporting life, I found out that there is nearly 30,000 vinyl LPs behind the house where we all met up. Taking over an old record store from a family friend, some of my relatives have cataloged a bunch of these records and sell them online. Since I have a library of music in my house, I was more than happy to see a library that greatly dwarfed mine. I've been asked to come back and help catalog the records, and I'm up for it.

Coming away from the experience, I'm quite happy I went. I hope I can go back soon. You can learn so much about your family from older generations. We aren't the products of strangers, and whatever older generations have overcome before, those solutions certainly can help the younger generations. 

Radioactivity

This is the life I live these days. Yesterday, after a handful of hours dealing with the various tasks involved with my field marketing job, and ironing out some upcoming traffic fill-in dates, a ton of rain came down and a cold front came in. As I got home, getting into my slippers, I finally read a mass message sent by my editor at the Observer about Radioactivity. Turns out, the bass player from the band is someone I have a friendly rapport with since I interviewed him last year.

So, without further ado, here is my interview with Mark Ryan on the new band, the Marked Men, and Mind Spiders.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Everywhere in Denver

In the past few weeks, much has been made by people I keep in touch with via social media about an "emo revival." This came from when Stereogum posted a helpful guide called "12 Bands to Know From the Emo Revival" and was widely read and discussed. I didn't take issue with the "revival" tag, but certain writer friends of mine did, and they made their voices heard via Facebook posts and tweets. (Things got to the point where Dan Ozzi wrote this for Noisey called "There's No Emo Revival, You Just Stopped Paying Attention.")

It's taken me a long time to understand that there will always be people who think genres disappear and reappear. I accept it and don't begrudge people who think that way. It's like those who said, "Hey, disco is making a comeback" in the '90s, while others were adamant that it never went away. There are plenty of people who seek far and wide for what they want, but more people just want what's easy to access. As in, instead of spending hours searching blogs or streaming services for exactly what they want, they go with what a friend posts on Facebook or what's on a commercial.

There's no wrong or right way to find new music; we all have our ways to finding it. If it looks like a certain genre has left a relevant spotlight due to lack of popular interest or declining concert attendance or record sales, it's understandable if the tides turn down the line. If you have your ear very close to the ground, no genre completely goes away.

I held out hope while I wrote my book that a younger generation would take to Rites of Spring or Braid instead of Fall Out Boy, and that happened. Only now are we seeing the fruits of this. That's why I couldn't help pass up the chance to contribute to a list of Top 20 Emo Albums for the LA Weekly West Coast Sound blog (20-11, 10-1). If somebody wants to know more about the roots of this "revival," I'm more than happy to help. Be it the context of when Dear You or Clarity came out, it's all important to telling the ongoing story. 

And yes, this is an ongoing story. Whether it's underground or mainstream. 


Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Intersections

After not writing anything for the Observer for a while, I present you with two links from the past few days.

-Russian band Louna was robbed in Dallas while the band ate at a Souper Salad. I had received a press release about it earlier in the evening on Friday. A few hours later, right as I was about to go to bed, I was asked to write something about by 10 the following morning. I figured to strike while the iron was hot and this is what I came up with.

-Back before we had to move, I had a nice chat with Evan Weiss, who performs as Into It. Over It and also plays in a number of other great bands. We've talked before and have a friendly rapport. I look forward to seeing him play with a full band at Trees.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Moved in

Well, it took five hours, five movers, and almost $1,000, but Jenny and I finally moved to our new place a couple of weeks ago. And we're still not completely unpacked.

There's a reason why I don't like moving: it's transferring the stability that is your home to a new place that's hopefully as stable as the last one. I moved so many times in college (apartment to dorm, dorm to another dorm, dorm to apartment) and that was enough for me. I'm thankful that I have moved only three times since college.

So far, we really enjoy our new place and neighborhood. Turns out, it's a neighborhood that I spent many holidays in as I had relatives who lived just a couple of streets away. It's a quiet neighborhood that thankfully has not had a problem with my sporadic muted drum playing. I consider ourselves lucky, and life these days is a mixture of a lot of work and some leisure time. The motivation to write comes and goes, but when it strikes, I have to remind myself to sit down and type. The way things are going, I could put out a new version of Post with an afterword before I put out When We Were the Kids. We'll see.

But for now, Jenny and I hope to unpack everything this weekend, hang up everything that we can, and make our home more of a livable situation. I'm happy to say it will be our home for at least the next year.