Foresteater dropped their stellar debut EP, Nightlife of the Exploding Heads, last year, but they have this brand-new music video to provide us with the perfect excuse to revisit some of the gems from that release.
“Very Friendly People” sets a stellar soundtrack for a contemporary tale of tragedy that unfolds in the music video created by Foresteater frontman Mikey Pro and Coach Taylor of Camelback Media.
I had a chance to chat with Mikey about the making of the video, the album, and the impending Mescal Porch Collective tour that Foresteater will be taking part in. But, first, check out “Very Friendly People” below…
YabYum: I see that this video was made by “Coach Taylor and Mikey Pro”… So, first of all, who is Coach Taylor and how did you two come to work together on this new music video?
Mikey Pro: Coach Taylor is firstly one of my oldest friends. We grew up together as next door neighbors so we’ve known each other since we were 8 or younger. Present day, he just started a media company called Camelback Media and I believe this is his first music video.
It’s also Foresteater’s first video so it’s really fitting as far as having the freedom to do or try anything we want without any rules like “this is the way we do things when we make music videos” or something. It was really just two long-term friends being creative together without any rules. I ended up being in charge of the content/story while he was in charge of making sure everything looked good and, of course, the editing. It was really nice to work with someone I’m so comfortable with.
Please tell me a little bit about this single. This was from Foresteater’s debut album, Nightlife of the Exploding Heads, correct? When did that album come out? And where did you record it?
Yeah. This is the first Foresteater single off of the debut EP. The album came out last year and I recorded it with Bob Hoag at Flying Blanket Studios. I knew I wanted to give it the video treatment for a bit and finally felt comfortable enough to do it once Taylor and I started talking about it.
It feels like the video is commenting on selfie culture or maybe scene culture in general. As one of the music video creators, maybe you could tell us a little about the underlying concept for “Very Friendly People”?
The video is a satirical dramatization of people being way too concerned about moving up in a social scene. Also, it shows how judgmental, fake, and ruthless the culture of a social scene can be. We wanted to show that the more the story’s protagonist, Patty, changed herself to fit in, the more the scene accepted her.
I also wanted it to be creepy so there is a sort of supernatural-psychological-thriller element to it where I represent the “nightlife” in phantom form and slowly get closer and closer to Patty until she is completely consumed. The scenes outside the bar with Grey “the doorman”, Lindsey “the selfie queen”, and Zak “the dealer” represent social tests and when Patty finally passes them she is celebrated by everyone who had ignored her before only for it to be revealed that the band and I have been working together the entire time to transform her.
At the end, my “we’re all mad here” smile and Patty collapsing to the flat-line sounding guitar feedback represent that the person she was is truly gone.
So, the album is out, the music video is out, what is next for Foresteater?
We are taking our music on the road for a West Coast Tour thanks to Mescal Porch Collective. Our tour kickoff is Friday June 9th at Last Exit Live with The Sink or Swim, Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold, The Lonesome Wilderness and some very special guests.
Dementia Awareness Week kicked off yesterday and, to mark the occasion, Serene Dominic released Silver Alert, his musical examination of the perils and joys of aging. Dominic dealt with the disease directly when it affected his own father. And now, as the artist moves into the realm of AARP, his work looks inward to explore what waits for all of us in that approaching Winter.
I have to say, this is a very timely topic for me this year. As my partner and I approach Middle Age (ahem), our parents are preparing to entering their Golden Years. And, at this pivotal time, there are things to be considered. Conversations to be had. For my family, the family of a coroner and mortician, we’re pretty comfortable with those little chats. How do you want to be cared for if you are no longer capable of caring for yourself? What do you want done with your remains after you die? That’s a normal Friday afternoon chat at my house.
Silver Alert takes a more personal approach to the topic of aging and delves into matters like cougar bars and vanishing record stores. The album explores a variety of different sounds as it explores its host of topics.
Of course, that’s no surprise given the breadth of Serene Dominic’s body of work. As you move through the discography, there are moments of pop, of glam, of vintage rocknroll, and just about everything else you might sample in a “History of Popular Music” course at your local university. Silver Alert provides a similar melting pot of sounds as the narrative unfolds.
I had a chance to chat with the man himself about the making of, and the inspiration behind, Silver Alert. Read my conversation with Serene Dominic below and don’t forget about the release party later this week! The album release happens on May 19th at The Rogue Bar in Scottsdale. A number of local favorites will be joining Serene Dominic’s GemSeekers including The Lonesome Wilderness, Carol Pacey & the Honeyshakers, The Bittersweet Way, and The 1140s. More information on that event can be found here.
Carly Schorman: Where did you record the album?
Serene Dominic: This was recorded at home, where I’ve recorded everything I’ve done since 2010. The Green Room is a spare bedroom in my Sunnyslope cinder block house, no sound proofing or anything and yet it sounds pretty dead which is great for drums and vocals. I always love reading about historic studios that it turns out were once former meat lockers or a movie theater like Stax. Or that Motown was once somebody’s home. I love hearing records where you can sort of hear the room. That has something to do with capturing a band performance as opposed to just writing a song as I record it with drum loops or samples, which is what I always do. So Silver Alert is half me recording with the GemSeekers and half what I usually do which is make up something with drum loops and write songs around beats. I hope it doesn’t sound like two different extremes.
And who might the “GemSeekers” be in this instance?
Since the beginning it’s been Nick Pasco who plays with The Breakup Society (who are gonna put a new album out soon on Onus Records) and Andrew Jemsek (from Drunk N Horny, Moonlight Magic, Fathers Day and a bunch of other bands). We used to have Andrew’s brother, Tristan Jemsek from Dogbreth and Diners, but he moved to Seattle. We also have Jedidiah Foster (from The Bittersweet Way) on guitar, although he was doing bass for some shows. Now we have Jim Dustan (from World Class Thugs and RPM Orchestra) on bass. If this lineup solidifies, we’ll probably do a whole album of just the band. Or maybe an EP.
Do you keep a running tally of the number of songs or albums you’ve released? Rough estimates also welcome.
I did when I was a teenager and first began writing songs and I had hundreds then. Of course, they were mostly crap but they had something that I might use later on. There’s two songs on the new album that are really pretty old, music-wise. “Go Value Yourself” was made up from bits of an older song I wrote when I was 18 and all jazzed up about Saturday night. And now it’s a pep talk for an old guy taking a job as a Walmart greeter!
I do the RPM Challenge every February, when you pledge to record an entire album of new music in 28 days every February, so I’ve built up quite a backlog. I’ve been doing that for seven years now and I’m kind of on a constant recording schedule year round. So it’s hundreds of songs. I’m in the middle of compiling a Serene D album discography /timeline and hopefully will get all of these up on the Onus Bandcamp site.
1. Box City: The Compleat Recordings [1992-1994]
2. Heathens of Vaudeville 
3. Adult Contemptuous [recorded 1998 – released 2003]
4. Songs From The Serene Dominic Show EP 
5. Unnatural Blonde 
6. 24 Originals Happening Now [2011 – this had 25 songs!]
7. Winter Trance Party 
8. Speculation 
9. The Holiday Slides Project [2013 – cassette only]
10. For Your Extreme Convenience 
11. Cutting Taylor Modern [2015 unreleased]
12. Swimming in the Head [Cast Album]
13. Dark Lullaby [2016 unreleased]
14. Silver Alert 
Cutting Taylor Modern will come out when all the songs on it have been recorded by someone else. Dark Lullaby is a new musical which will come out when the musical is ready to be performed.
Silver Alert is proving quite the timely art piece in my personal life, but I’ll get to that in a moment. I was hoping you might share with our readers where the inspiration for this album came from?
I became preoccupied with aging because, well, I’m aging. The last two years are the first time I’ve been treated by people like I’m old, giving me the senior discount without me asking for it. I was looking for a title that reflected that.
I was originally going to call it From Here to Senility but then I kept driving around 1-17 and kept seeing Silver Alert warnings. And I was wondering where these old guys are fleeing to. Anthem? I just pictured Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond just not seeing a familiar tree and then running scared in a wrong direction for miles. I put myself in that mindset for “Pain In My Joints.” And there’s a song called “Where’s the White Shadow?” which I contributed to a Beastie Boys’ hardcore tribute album of Related Records last year. Its pretty unrecognizable from what they did. They wrote a bratty song about the TV show, “The White Shadow”, being cancelled but instead of coming from a young punk it’s coming from an old guy who’s disoriented because he can’t watch Ken Howard anymore.
I’ve seen that confusion up close and I’m scared because my father had dementia in his 80s and I saw a man who was always so meticulous all his life suddenly become permanently altered. And he watched a lot of TV towards the end which didn’t help because every newscaster or TV detective he’s mistaken for someone in his early life.
I freak out at the slightest thing that can seem like a senior moment. Like, all the sudden, I can’t remember the name of someone who was an SNL cast member. And I get defensive that, no, this is not a senior moment. I mean when I was 20, sure, I could name all the SNL cast members. I can still name those ones. But now we’ve had 40 plus years of names to forget. Fuck me if I forget the guy who played Deuce Bigelow for a couple of minutes. Who cares? I could look it up on the internet on my fucking phone. Why bother to commit anything to memory?
It seems to me like we’re much of the same mind. You don’t seem afraid to confront the notions of death and aging head on. Is that the result of your upbringing? Or the result of your years as a songwriter spent delving the reaches of your psyche for workable material?
I don’t think it has anything to do with my upbringing. I didn’t have deep philosophical conversations with my parents about death or anything like that growing up. I didn’t have anyone close to me die until I was 21. So my working knowledge of death when I was a child, the only people I always thought of as being dead were Buddy Holly, Laurel and Hardy, and JFK. And Nat King Cole because he died of cancer because he smoked.
So all my ideas about death weren’t fully formed until a lot later. Now this late in life when someone dies, it’s not as weird a thing. It’s like they just moved to The Netherlands. Recently, I found out an old friend and bandmate of mine died and I learned it through Facebook. So I wrote “Subterranean Heaven” about him. One day he was posting about some record he likes. Next day – The Netherlands!
What new project(s) do you have in the works?
[I] will probably release Dark Lullaby in the Fall and try to get [the show] put on then or the following spring. The original idea was to do it as a cast album, but I really love the way it came out as a standalone album so maybe the version I just did myself will come out as is. I mean, doing it as a live musical could take a while just to find someone who wants to do it. That’s my biggest priority. And The GemSeekers are going to be the band in the show so we’ll probably start doing a lot of those songs live too.
As a sideline, I’d like The GemSeekers to do an EP as well, so maybe we’ll just re-record some of the stuff from my previous records we do live and some Dark Lullaby stuff. Maybe do it live at Audioconfusion! I’ve been wanting to record somewhere else and I keep threatening Jalipaz that we’re gonna do it, but then I wind up demoing stuff and then I like the way it turns out. Recording yourself is a dangerous mindset. Like cutting your own hair.
Head out to the Silver Alert Release Party (and Onus Records’ Two-Year-Anniversary Celebration) at The Rogue Bar this weekend! More info here!
koleżanka (Kristina Moore joined by Arky and Winter Calkins) joined us at the Reading Room and shared these lovely songs with all in attendance, which now includes all of you as well. Both tracks will appear on their much anticipated debut album Vessel, which is due out in June. But before that, catch them live on Tuesday May 16 when they open for Silver Ships at the Trunk Space.
In the meantime, allow their experimental/electronic/noise pop to wash over you and succumb to its beauty. Check out both koleżanka videos below.
You certainly may have seen him either attending or, even more likely, performing at various venues around the Valley. In T-shirt and cap, the young man has quite an unassuming air.
However, as Audile Collective, he is responsible for engineering some of this town’s best releases as of late by bands like Good Friends Great Enemies, Huckleberry, Nanami Ozone, and Playboy Manbaby, just to name a tiny few.
He also moonlights in more bands than I can keep track of so I decided to track the man down and find out exactly what’s what with his bands, his studio, and what’s next.
Mark Anderson for YabYum: When did you move to Arizona and how/when did you get involved with the music scene here?
Eamon Ford: The first time I moved out here was 2012. My close friend, Michelle Blades, suggested I come out this way. She and I knew each other through skateboarding in South Florida. So as to not just do so on a whim, I enrolled in the Luthier program at Roberto-Venn. I was able to get involved with the scene that first time through the generosity of people like Michelle Blades, Stephen Steinbrink, and Mo Neuharth.
Then I moved away, came back and started my band Nova Joven with Isaac Parker, Zack Parker and Chad Dennis. I was privileged to play lots of shows because of the folks at the Paper Knife, Parliament and Stateside Presents.
Moved away, again. Came back and started recording non-stop starting with both Numb Bats’ releases, R. Ariel’s Changer record, and the first Pro Teens full length among others.
Is audio recording something you’ve wanted to do for some time or did you fall more casually into it? I see you attended both CRAS and Roberto Venn so I wasn’t sure if you had one path in mind then switched. Can you build guitars/instruments too??
I’ve always had an interest in recording but it seemed out of my capabilities with all the costs and knowledge required. After Roberto-Venn I moved back to Florida and worked for a few different Luthiers and ended up taking a job at a Guitar Center. I, within the first few days there, knew I couldn’t do it for long so I worked as much as I could and took advantage of the discount. I bought lots of gear I had absolutely no Idea how to use but I knew at some point I would. I’m a musician before I’m anything else and the repair tech world was taking me further away from the playing of music.
I was missing Arizona and, on a visit to PHX, Mo Neuharth suggested I move in with her in the Garfield neighborhood. So again as to not do so on a whim, I pulled out a semi-frightening student loan and enrolled in CRAS! After that, I moved out to New York and became an intern at the Rare Book Room (Deerhunter, Dirty Projectors, Palehound, Animal Collective). I owe a great deal to Nicholas Vernhes and Gabe Wax for my confidence and knowledge in this field.
What is your current recording set-up like?
I live in a house with my roommate and bandmate Matt Tanner (Pro Teens’ drummer). I’ve set it up so we have one big tracking area, drums have their own area and amps/guitars/synths another. Lots of sound treatment and gear. Then there is a control room and other rooms that serve to isolate Amps when people want to be able to track live. I’m capable of 16 channels live and am running pro tools 10. Focusrite Isa 428, Universal Audio 4-170d, a Pair of Distressors, Overstayer Stereo VCA compressor, other pre’s and compressors and mics. It is most certainly a “home studio” and people really gravitate towards that feel. Musicians can really take their time here to work and not feel rushed or pressured. The space is very flexible and capable of lots of different sounds. The studio is called Audile Collective.
Why did you decide to set-up Audile Collective here in Phoenix?
While at the Rare Book Room I knew that I wanted “this” – having my own space and being my own boss. Now, my space is no Rare Book Room or as prestigious as other top dollar studios here in town, but that’s kind of the point.
While in New York I learned the importance of the surrounding room, it’s flexibility and its comfortability. There was really nice gear in that studio but not all the nice gear and that struck me in a big way.
So I came back with the idea of setting up a studio that could be useful to all budgets and bands. I have really nice gear but I don’t have all the nice gear. That way my costs for myself and the artist are low and we don’t waste time.
The idea of a huge console and walls of gear is a frustratingly dated notion of people who think they should be able to buy a new car and multiple pairs of leather pants with each record. It’s a romantic and boastful idea. As a band who goes into one of these studios with racks upon racks of gear, you are paying to cover the cost of what the engineer has put on themselves so they can swing a big dick. You are paying for everything you see. But at a studio like that you are at best using 20% of what they have.
There is nothing cool about a console that Keith Richards did a line off of, it just means that it’s in need of a good dusting. Nice gear is just that, nice to have. And with the production of gear today, companies are making great streamlined and flexible pieces of equipment at fair prices (most of the time) for a studio to be properly outfitted or someone to record into a cheap interface with a nice external pre in their bedroom.
Could you tell us a little (or a lot) about your recording process?
The process varies a considerable amount each session and I try my best to not be what I call a “sonic stamper”. I aim for my touches to be transparent so the band can sound as much as themselves as possible and I lend my ideas for production but never get attached to them as to make it clear to the artist that this body of work is absolutely theirs.
I really don’t like the notion of engineers having a “signature sound” because often that just becomes this lazy sonic blanket they put on everything and it all starts to sound the same. Listening to the artists ideas and really just stepping out of the way is crucial to a truthful audio representation of their efforts.
Not everyone has the language and know-how so it’s in those moments I step in but never before. There is no method that works for all and there is no “It should sound like this”, It should sound how they want it to sound and that’s it. Maybe if your snare sounds like a slab of ham hitting wet cardboard, that could sound “bad” but even then it’s pretty debatable.
What bands are you in now? Pro Teens for sure…
Pretty much just Pro Teens. Good Friends Great Enemies has retired into the great beyond and Lai was a fun temporary collaboration with Kristina Moore (koleżanka, Where are all the Buffalo, Foreign Language), Ark Calkins (Ark, Willetta, koleżanka), Chad Dennis (Playboy Manbaby, Instructions, Nova Joven). I have a personal project called Universer that I’ve released a single song as. Working on a larger body of work for it but it will probably just remain a project that puts out recordings and doesn’t play out.
What projects are you currently working on that you can tell us about?
Dang. I. Am. Busy. Pretty recently I finished the new Huckleberry full length Natural Selector, the Nanami Ozone EP Make It All Right, Go Outside’s EP No Thanks, the Elna Rae EP Dexter, and Playboy Manbaby’s Don’t Let it Be.
Currently I’m mixing an EP for Hypoluxo from Brooklyn, New York. I’m also mixing a full length for Spirit Tramp out of Athens, Georgia. Started tracking and mixing the new koleżanka record. Working with Max Knouse. Just finished 4 songs with Vance Nowe and a 5 song EP with John Chanteuse. Both of whom are in a wonderful band called Herbert Walker. Oh and new Pro Teens.
What do you make of the overall music scene we have here in the Valley/State? The good and the bad from your perspective?
Phoenix is incredible. I moved back here from New York to try and put together a studio all on my own and I knew I could do so here. This music scene is so hungry and the bands here are willing to put in the work. I’ve lived in a lot of cities and none of them can touch the tenacity of this place.
The only “downside” I’ve noticed is Phoenix is quite big so there are so many micro scenes. It’s great when they come together but I’ve noticed particularly with Phoenicians who have played in the scene for a long time that they’ll be nostalgic for a time before or will be so caught up in what they use to do that they have these blinders on not allowing them to notice all the new blood.
As a self employed audio engineer, I’m lucky to be able to work with so many bands of so many niches. Oh and lets not forget how awesome it is that Tucson and Flagstaff are so close.
I believe you’ve toured some. Do you have a particular show/venue/city that stands out as a highlight?
Boulder, Colorado is always a fun time. Real hungry scene there with the tape label “First Base Tapes”.
Anything else upcoming? Any summer touring at all?
Lots of recording coming up. Pro Teens is hitting new material hard when we get back from tour (it’s really piling up), which we leave for May 2nd and will be back the 22nd!
Is there something I failed to ask that you that you would want people to know about? What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
This scene is really diverse and I think if at any moment someone here feels like it’s in a lull, all they need to do is look around and go to a new haunt. So much happening between places like the new Trunk Space, Lost Leaf, The Lunchbox, Rebel Lounge, Stateside venues, students at TUF and between so many bands in town like Twin Ponies, koleżanka, Go Outside, Le Monolith, Malta, RNA, Diners, Body of Light, Elna Rae, Nanami Ozone, Little Brother Mojo, Playboy Manbaby, Herbert Walker, Nick Perkins band, Huckleberry, Jerusafunk, The Hill in Mind [RIP], James Band, Running From Bears, the list could go on for quite sometime. I’m very lucky to be playing with my friends in Pro Teens and to work with so many talented and genuine people through my studio. I find myself constantly inspired by everything I work on.
I can do an impressive amount of pistol squats and I make a really good vegan eggplant lasagna, once a year.
While some of you decker. fans might be thinking, “Didn’t we already celebrate the premiere of Snake River Blues?”, that just proves you’re not quite up to super-fan status yet. You might have enjoyed Snake River Blues, the album &/or live listening experience, and you might even have sampled Snake River Blues Black Rye Double IPA from Dark Sky Brewing Company, but you still haven’t really had a chance to look under the hood of the decker. music-making engine.
Matty Steinkamp of Sundawg Media set forth to create a documentary that pulls back the curtain on Sedona songwriter Brandon Decker as he prepares to take Snake River Blues to the Big Apple. And, on Thursday, May 18, FilmBar will host the public premiere of the documentary so all you decker. darlings can get a behind-the-scenes look at what happens before the band hits the stage.
For Snake River Blues (the documentary), Matty Steinkamp wanted to tell the story of “A small town songwriter going to the big city.” This isn’t the first partnership project from the pair. Steinkamp and Decker joined forces for Play the Documentary.
In fact, it was at the premiere of that feature that the seed of this new project was planted. During the after-screening Q&A, David Moroney (of Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra fame) asked Matty what his next project would be and if he was “going to follow an artist”.
The very next day, Matty reached out to Brandon and learned that the artist was planning on heading to New York City for a residency in support of his next album, Snake River Blues (the album). The stars aligned and Matty signed up to follow decker. through their fundraising efforts, all they way through to NYC. And Snake River Blues (the documentary) was born.
I had a chance to ask Brandon Decker of the band, decker., and silver screen star of Snake River Blues (the documentary) about what is was like to be followed around by a filmmaker through some tenuous days and about the struggle to pursue one’s passion through the heartache and long drives and subway stairs. Check out the Q&A below, but first, Snake River Blues (the trailer)…
YabYum: Was it invasive to have Matty following you around? Or were you pretty comfortable with the process? You seem pretty comfortable with an audience, no matter the size.
Brandon Decker: I mean, it wasn’t the most comfortable. Often it was like business as usual. The more awkward thing is when you turn around and he’s standing there with a camera and like, “tell me how tour is going so far” and your brain just goes blank, “um, it’s cool.” That sort of stuff. I’ve been joking, Matty could ruin me with this footage I’m sure. So, I’m pleased with how gentle he was. All that said, I work and live in a tunnel vision, and indeed kind of borderline frantic pace so most of the time I was too busy in my world to think about it too much.
I know that a lot goes into an album after the recording is finished. Any chance you could lay out a timeline for Snake River Blues – the complete experience – from inception to writing the album to going in the studio to the release show in New York..?
Well, I wrote it (Snake River Blues stuff) late-2015 after the Patsy tour wrapped up and started playing it with Amber. We booked the studio time around then and started fleshing it out with the band in January. In studio early April. Had quite a few moving parts last year. Last year I remember as just tons of performing and stressing about raising money. That was all year. Hasn’t really stopped come to think about it. I’m just taking it all in stride a bit more. Anyway, the preparations were ongoing until the marathon session getting to New York. Then all hell breaks loose. I was absolutely the most run down and tired I’ve ever been in my life just to make it to the airport to go to New York City. Like, think finals in college times 25. (At age 36). That’s how it felt. New York was insane on a whole new level, predictably. It was basically 24 days of “go til you drop.” Which happened twice. It’s no surprise my body broke down in November. So that’s how it ended. I was like a person dying while trying to crawl the last few feet on Mt. Everest on that tour and my hands stopped working. My body literally shut down. That’s how the year effectively ended for Snake River Blues. And here we are, doing it again for a new album and another trip to New York and everywhere else.
There were some intense moments that played out on the screen. Is that usually “par for the course” as a working musician? Or did the launch of Snake River Blues, the album, create a special kind of havoc in your life?
See, when I see the film it doesn’t even touch how hard last year was. I look at it and think, “people (close to me) are going to wonder what I was whining about.” It doesn’t seem that bad. Albums, at least with the treatment I want to give them, both on the musical side of things and the non-musical side, require every bit of you. I don’t know how to turn it off or let shit go so well. I’m working on it but I’m crazy. Last year was way more sustainable than the Patsy year though, when we did the U.S. three times. And this year will be better as well. So, less havoc.
I have to say Amber Johnson is a new personal hero of mine. I always sorta saw her as the Shirley Temple to your Shot of Rye, but that woman is a true warrior-artist. She just tackles the challenges thrown at her with such cheerful poise (and the super cute dresses) that I think it’s easy to lose sight of the grit. After viewing Snake River Blues, I feel like I get her on a whole new level (and I always thought she was rad so it’s about to get weird). How did you two wind up in musical arrangement?
I’ve never had a tougher bandmate than Amber. Kelly was close and certainly is a strong, strong person. But she had her breaking point with this life. Amber has certainly been close but there’s no quit in her.
Amber did the bulk, probably 2/3 of that NY trip, with a severely sprained ankle. We had to carry gear on the subway and all our personal shit, basically non-stop, at all times for 4 weeks. You know how much walking you do in New York? Miles of fast-paced walking a day. Up and down Subway platforms and flights of steps and block after block. And she did that on a severely sprained ankle and never said shit.
She works as hard as anyone on the music, preparing. She runs the merch, deals with all the drunk creeps the whole night. Works basically 7 days a week and is always kind and positive and thoughtful and professional. Well, almost always. Amber’s tougher and more real deal rock n’ roll than most dudes who’ve been fired or quit this band. I met her at Main Stage when she was in another band. Saw her a few days later at a show and she had been fired from the band and I was like, “Yes!” She’s been critical musically, and non-musically, ever since.
So, I don’t want to give anything away before the premiere at FilmBar, but there is some serious fundraising stress that gives shape to the narrative of this documentary. Now that you’ve been through the ups and downs (and ups and downs) and crossed to the other side, was it worth it? Would you do it again? And, if so, would you do anything differently? That’s kind of a bundle of questions… but whatever.
Was New York worth it? The project? I mean, of course it was. The struggle is part of the fun as far as I can see. This whole thing is worth it.
It’s stupid often. And draining. And depressing. But it really is just like I say in the film – what else are you going to do? There really is no other choice. Life is a struggle in some way for everyone, even those who seemingly have it made.
The whole life thing is about growth and adapting to change and learning grace and, whatever the particular set of circumstances we do that in, that is our life. Of course, I’d do things differently. I am. But I love this mess, and frustrating as it can be, it means something. To me at least. We’re onto the next project and it’s got it’s set of challenges and it’s a wonderful life.
– Make sure you head out to FilmBar on Thursday, May 18th, for the world premiere of Snake River Blues. More information on that event (and tickets) can be found here.
Sharon and Frank Labor of Battered Suitcases joined the YabYum crew down at Phoenix Center for the Arts. They brought along some really great tracks, spanning time and space, that really show some shining examples of lyrical prowess, from Jim Carroll to Leonard Cohen. The complete podcast can be found below!
Mr. Travis James is going to hate this – I mean, I’ve already applied for the Witness Relocation Program, and dear gawd I hope it goes through before this is published – but IMO, he’s managed to combine the very best of the Cabaret and Punk, while at the same time, channel the very essence of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart, and he manages to do this in the first two songs of this split.
I’ve always thought James had a tremendous lyrical sense. The linguistic gymnastics is only rivaled by the melody. I mean, “I’m setting out to prove that I’ve got nothing to prove, and I’ll prove it.” on “Enough” is the kind of nihilistic, middle finger he’s been proudly displaying on each of his albums.
“Fade Away” and ‘Like It Or Not” are musicals in of themselves. Close your eyes while listening and fuck if you’re not on Pollard Row in London. And never one to shy away from controversial lyrics, the “fading away” is “the power behind the badge” and it’s “the ground” is where he fancies the cops going.
Again, I hope my application goes through because, put the lyrics of “Pissing ‘Neath the Stars” into the mouth of Kate Bush or Tori Amos, and I buy it. Coming of James’ mouth, I buy it even more, because you can feel the vitriol against the acoustic folk-like strumming.
If you don’t hear from me in the coming months, you’ll know he found me. I love these tracks.
Take one part the poppyiest pop punk. Add the vocal stylings and melodies of The Dead Milkmen. Add terrific lyrics, and well, dammit if I’m not a sucker for this.
“Why Do Bluebirds Fly” took me completely by surprise. I mean, Galvan sings about a horrible break-up, and then, out of the blue, goes into the chorus of “Over the Rainbow” and it works so well, I just wish Galvan was around to write the original but then he’d be 109 years old or so, and we wouldn’t have this gem to listen to.
All in all, I really dig this guy. He really digs deep into his feelings and lays them out there for all of us, and you just want to give him a big hug.
And by the way, backup vocalist Jayne Robardey on “Life Has Been Empty” brings an absolute casualness to the performance that really had me wanting more…
It was a sad, sad day when Phoenix had to bid farewell to Good Friends Great Enemies. Mourners gathered at The Trunk Space for one last show before the band parted ways. The celebratory event was only somewhat marred by the funereal atmosphere – like an amicable breakup or an anniversary of sobriety. There was that resolve to stick to the motto, “We’re celebrating this!,” but you just can’t ignore the sorrow sulking in the corner.
As a longtime participant in local music life, I’ve come to recognize the ongoing pattern of little deaths that happen as we move through the years. Bands come and go. Musicians move away or move on. And, as we gathered one last time with Good Friends, people lingered outside to trade remembrances of the band and, ultimately, of their time spent on the scene.
Of course, all of that stopped with Good Friends Great Enemies took to the stage. The audience remained captivated throughout the extended set, trying to stay present for as long as the moment allowed before its passing. It was a night for a community to celebrate the end of an era.
Of course, while Good Friends Great Enemies might be no more, the musicians involved have not actually, you know, died. They are alive and well and ready to pursue new havens for their talents. And, what’s more, they left behind one last collection of musical musings for fans and friends (and maybe enemies) alike.
I had a chance to chat with Evan Bisbee about the new album, , what adventures lie ahead, and the life and death of Good Friends Great Enemies. Check out our interview below, but I also suggest you hit play to start listening to Esoterotica (assuming you aren’t at work or standing in line at the MVD)…
YabYum: One last rad album before parting ways? Was that the plan all along? Mainly, I’m just curious if you went into this album knowing that it was going to be the last.
Evan Bisbee: Glad to hear you think the album is rad, I’m hoping people are listening to it. It was not the plan to end with it, we went into the record wanting to do something special but didn’t have plans to end the band until we were well into the process.
So where are you living these days? What led to your decision to change area codes?
I’m living in downtown Phoenix these days! I will be moving to the Bay Area in a few months, however. Mostly for personal reasons (general change of scenery, spend more time with my partner who lives out there) and, with the band ending, it seemed like the right time. We decided to end the band before I made the choice to move.
I caught the band’s final show at The Trunk Space (from the merch table). There was an almost tangible sense of camaraderie in the room that evening. Do you feel that the local music community has been supportive one?
I saw most of the show from the merch table as well that night, great acoustics. The local community has been very supportive, and we were humbled by the amount of people who came out to say goodbye (great memories) and stood there for all 75 minutes of our set. I think we’ve connected with our audience over the years and I’m grateful for those who have seen us in all our various forms or for those who clocked in at certain times, and I think it’s awesome that there was a handful of people whose first Good Friends show was literally the last!
I really am heartbroken that this band has come to its conclusion. I guess we’ve been covering you for five years now. And five years, in Phoenix music terms, can be a lifetime. We watched Long Wongs come and go (again). Parliament popped up and passed. What are some of the memorable people/places/moments that will live on in your heart/mind as you venture to new locales?
Yeah, five years in Phoenix can feel like a long time. What was especially wild for me and Max [Greenwald, bass/guitar] and Bryce [Broome, percussion] was thinking about the amount of time we played together before even being officially Good Friends Great Enemies. When you factor in the Sweeps and a handful of other iterations we’ve been playing some of those songs (“Fool’s Ghost”, for instance) since 2009 basically. Big ol’ Dang.
Long Wong’s was kind of when the three of us started hitting our stride and meeting people we would end up playing with or around for the rest of our time. Prior to that I surfed Craigslist and we’d play ripoff pay-to-play shows with random shady out of town promoters or literally go to open mics and shred to a handful of dads.
If I’m not mistaken we met the Sundressed boys, Kristina Moore, All My Friends (Thin Bloods), North Dakota, Playboy Manbaby, Man-Cat, Huckleberry, Treasure Mammal, St. Ranger, Jerusafunk, Sunn Trio and many others during that period. Given, that also included shows at the Fixx and house shows (several at our place). We had already played with Dylan Pratt and Boss Frog because of our Cave Creek Connection. Beside a couple house shows we mostly have the Walkingstick Presents dudes and Robbie Pfeffer to thank for booking us!
Parliament was sort of an extension of this period and we also started getting more familiar with the Lolipop Records crew, as well as sort of see all those bands above evolve or die. We morphed to a four piece around this time, with Isaac Parker joining to play keys. I remember one show we played at Crescent called the Paper Knife Potpourri with Roar, Wolvves, and Pictures of Cake. What a weird bill!
We went on a memorable tour with Mr. Elevator to Florida during that time. We drove all the way from St. Augustine, Florida and back home to Phoenix in one go to get Max back home in time to take a final on Monday morning, and we left Florida Saturday night. Those were also the only five shows we played with a substitute drummer. We staged this thing at our kickoff so that it looked like Soup was quitting the band and then Matt Tanner magically knew the rest of the set and sat in. We played it too dry though so I’m not sure the audience really gathered that it was staged. Andy Kaufman would be proud! That’s around when we started switching up the original line up and for a minute we were playing with me on guitar, Ike on baritone, Max on bass, but we would switch around during shows too.
We went to SXSW for the second time shortly after we made this transition and looking back I feel like those were some awesome shaky confused sets. I had no idea what a guitar pedal was. It was awesome. It’s like our band was constantly going through puberty or something.
Our next evolution was to get Joseph Amos in the group. We played with him as a four piece for about a year. And, if I’m not mistaken, we played the opening night of Valley Bar with Roar and Treasure Mammal. It was cool having a horn in the mix, and Joe was more than capable at handling any leads. He really makes Cautiously Poptimistic [previous Good Friends album] shine, if you ask me. Not to mention all the hours that Corey Dillier put into mixing that bad boy. After we released that record we changed again and that’s when Zack [Parker, guitar] and Eamon [Ford, keys] joined. For one beautiful four-minute song during our Cautiously Poptimistic release show we had six people on stage to play “Similar Things”.
What’s up next for you and the other members of Good Friends Great Enemies?
Okay let’s see…
Eamon will likely continue to record all your favorite bands in town at Audile Collective and shred the guitar in Pro Teens.
Zack will continue to humbly hold it down in all your other favorite bands in town, currently playing in Jfunk, Pro Teens, Roar, and Sunn Trio. He’s also got some material up his sleeve but it’s not my place to share that with you so I’ll leave it mysterious.
Max will continue to play with Sunn Trio; and he and his partner, Mariah Brown, have been playing in their own (mellow and feely and technical and awesome) project called Malta. I believe they’re recording right now so you can expect some good tunes from them at some point. He will also be working toward his masters in music therapy at ASU starting this Fall.
Bryce (Peasoup) is joining the Peace Corps and moving to Vanuatu for the next two years where he will be doing his part to make the world a better place! I’m under the impression he’s gonna miss playing drums but I wouldn’t put it past him to fasten a kit together with twine and palm husks out there in the Pacific.
My immediate future entails touring with Mr. Elevator and moving to the Bay. I’m writing new songs but I don’t really know when or in what shape they’ll be released, but you better believe I’m channeling my existential dread into music.
Isaac is living and playing in NYC, and Joe is raising his son to be the best King he can be right here in Phoenix.
LUAU stopped by the Radio Phoenix studio a few days before their Gone EP album release. We talked the release show, Phoenix music subreddits, and Crescent Ballroom burritos among other hot topics. Plus, the band brought down a ton of great Valley (+ Las Cruces!) bands to play live on the airwaves. Check it out.
Make sure to tune in every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month at 7 PM for each live episode of The YabYum Hour, only on radiophoenix.org.