For the Record: Don’t Let It Be by Playboy Manbaby

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by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

So, I’ve been a Playboy Manbaby fan since the band’s inception or, at least, since their very first show. And, as I’ve stated before, they keep getting better with every single album they put out (which is really saying something considering the band has been consistently putting out music since 2012).

I’m not bragging when I claim to have loved the Manbabies since they were Babybabies. I’m just trying to qualify the following statement: their new album really is their best album ever, hands down.

Playboy Manbaby will release Don’t Let it Be this coming weekend at The Trunk Space in downtown Phoenix. This much-anticipated follow-up to 2014’s Electric Babyman contains 11 feisty tracks that mark real growth for the band, musically speaking.

The songs on Don’t Let it Be are refined in a way we haven’t heard before from the punk-funk outfit. They go beyond the raw explosiveness of earlier releases to carefully constructed songcraft. And they do so without sacrificing that savage emotional force that made them a crowd favorite early on.

Don’t Let it Be kicks of with “You Can Be a Fascist Too” – the first single off the album which was released just in time for that inauspicious inauguration. Then the second track, “Last Man Standing”, highlights the band’s horns section – David Cosme (trumpet) and Ricky Smash (sax and we know that’s not your real name) – before “Bored Broke & Sober” takes over. “Cadillac Car” is already to be a crowd favorite and is in contention for personal favorite from the album along with the apocalyptic “I’m So Affluent” and the super rambunctious number, “White Jesus”.

The album bears the mark of maturation, not just in the lyrics, but in the instrumentation as well. The orchestration is thoughtful, impeccably timed, and, well, rowdy as fuck.

Robbie Pfeffer, lyricist and vocalist, has a reputation for being a blitzkrieg onstage. Offstage, however, he’s the guy that will pet your dog and ask about your mother. Rather than suggesting that these are two separate and oppositional expressions, I’m putting forth the argument that Pfeffer is the quintessential example of the much-maligned millennial. He’s the meta-millenial. Kind-hearted, community-focused, and facing a world that keeps threatening collapse with a can-do attitude. The existential angst runs high in these young ones, but that’s not going to stop them from cold-crushing outdated conventions with their dad-staches and second hand clothes. They were born to rage against the dying of the light. That mixture of humor and personal fortitude comes through in the lyrics on this album in high shine.

If you go in for the riled-up cross-genre style of music Playboy Manbaby has become known for over the years, Don’t Let It Be might be you’re favorite album this year. You’ll laugh. You’ll dance. You might call your boss and quit your job so it might be best to hide your phone before smashing that play button. This album has that fury in equal measure to that signature Playboy Manbaby humor.

In keeping with the “For the Record” tradition, I had the chance to ask Robbie Pfeffer some questions about the album, the impending release show, and what’s next for Playboy Manbaby.

YabYum: Let’s start with all the details. Where did you record the album? Who helped out?

Robbie Pfeffer: We recorded with Eamon Ford at his old house, then at Chad[Dennis, the drummer]’s house, then at his new house. Lots of different houses. A ton of people have offered me great feedback on this album and helped it become what it is. Also we’re really stoked to have Lolipop and Dirty Water Records help make it a tangible thing!

So, what’s with the title? Do you bear some Beatles’ ill will? 

I think it fits the album pretty well, it kind of sets the tone that this is not going to be a “chill” experience.

With previous releases, the tracks seem a bit more of a cathartic drive. That energy is still very much present on the new album, but it seems like there’s more of a focus on songcraft, both lyrically and instrumentally. Has PBMB shifted their approach to songwriting? Or is this just the natural effects of the maturation that evolves from playing together for several years?

Ever since this band formed we always heard that we are band that doesn’t translate well past the live setting. So we really wanted to make a record that stands on it’s own even if you’ve never seen us. That’s the goal, at least.

On a personal writing level I’m not trying to hide the meaning of what we’re talking about in any way any more. I want to take the most direct path to the point I can find. I really don’t want subjectivity anymore, I want specific meaning. That might change in the future, but for now, that’s how I’m approaching writing.

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Playboy Manbaby – Photo by Peach Girl Photography

One of the things I like most about PBMB is the band’s ability to tap into the current cultural malaise and channel that angst into some sort of purifying flurry. As the principal songwriter for PBMB, would you say that’s an unintended consequence? Or is there some underlying philosophy at work here?

I’m an anxious dude and I try to stay alert to the societal changes around me. Music has been a way for me to work that out without drowning in my own existential dread. Also, I know I’m not the only person who questions what it means to be a person and the dynamics of power that exist in this hyper-active world we live in so if people can know that it freaks me out too, but I’m still trying my best, maybe that’ll be comforting to some people. Really I just want everybody to treat everyone else with a little more empathy and kindness.

It seems like you’re a real nice guy (irl) so my guess is that you just have a real low bullshit tolerance level to manifest the sort of aggression we see onstage. Is there a line for you between the performative persona and the other guy? Or is Playboy Manbaby the place to purge all that aggression so you’re not punching people in the throat? The people want to know.

That’s very kind of you! I really disdain violence of any kind. My hope is that when people are dancing at shows they can respect everyone around them and make sure that while they’re having a good time they’re not ruining anyone else’s good time. Generally people have been really great about this, but in the few instances where it’s gotten out of hand we have no issue stopping a show to make sure everyone gets to enjoy a safe, inclusive environment.

We’re a band of nerds and outcasts and we’re not about to be a platform for macho dudes to beat up on vulnerable people trying to have a good time. If anyone feels uncomfortable at our show for any reason please contact any of us and we will address it immediately without question.

The release show happens this coming weekend and the lineup is pretty stellar. Want to tell the people of the internet what they can expect by way of lineup and location?

I’m super excited about this line-up. We ran into the Thin Bloods dudes on NYE and were excited to hear after they’ve all been scattered across the country and busy with other stuff they happen to be back in Phoenix. We’ve shared a ton of great memories playing with them and they’re one of my all-time favorite bands so that’s fantastic news. Also, super stoked on The Darts, Genre, and Andy Warpigs. All great musicians and great people who bring rad stuff to the community.

What’s next for Playboy Manbaby? Touring? Videos? Sit back and relax for a while as reward for a job well done?

Hopefully, all of the above. We took way too damn long on this record and I never wanna take that long again. We’ve got like 10 new songs that we haven’t recorded and we just wanna make as much art as we can until we collapse.

~

Do not miss the Playboy Manbaby Album Release /// Thin Bloods Reunion show happening Saturday, February 25 at the Trunk Space or you will be so sorry.

For The Record: Dead Horse Power by No Volcano

dead horse power 01by Joe Golfen
Staff Writer

Following up a great first album is no easy task, with the added weight of expectation and the fear of the dreaded “sophomore slump” hanging in the air. And anyone whose heard Who Saved The Party?, the beloved debut by Phoenix’s No Volcano, has every right to be wonder how the band was going to top that.

No need to worry.

The group’s second record, Dead Horse Power, is a supercharged blast of post-punk power, heavier and darker than their debut, but still shining with the kind of pop catchiness that’s won them so many fans. With the track list laid out in alphabetical order, the record keeps the energy crackling, adding a distinct garage rock grit to the band’s usual repertoire of angular guitars and pounding drums.

I sat down with singer/guitarist Jim Andreas and drummer Chris Kennedy (who also handles the recording and production for the band), to talk about the new record, their upcoming release show and why you should always set your videos to autoplay on Facebook.

Joe Golfen: This album really sounds bigger and fuller than the first one, were you trying to go for a more rocking album?

Chris Kennedy: Well, I think I’ve gotten a little better at the initial recording part, mic placement, things like that. For production, I just kept tinkering and learning new things. And that’s the big plus of recording yourself. I have unlimited time and takes to get things right. You’re not on the clock like at a studio.

Jim Andreas: Yeah at most studios you don’t have the luxury of taking things home and saying, ‘I don’t like that anymore’. Chris tweaks things big time. Now we can spend all the money on videos (laughs)!

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Photo by Bil YANOK

CK: Also, because of the fact that I’m a hack (laughs), I do something that mastering engineers would cringe at, but I get that soundwave huge, almost pegged.

And everybody says you shouldn’t do that, but here’s what happens: it makes the drums sound great. When you overcompress it just a little bit, so it starts to get a little compression distortion, I love that drum sound. And we’ve recorded at super fancy studios, middle of the road studios, all of that, and never have I been able to get a drum sound I like this much.

The drums do sound great, and they sound huge. That certainly adds to the heavier sound.

JA: I think it’s heavier musically, for sure, but the songs themselves are heavier too and maybe a little darker. Just the overall mood is a little heavier.

Was that something you set out to do?

JA: No not really, but it hasn’t really been that long since the first one, so they were all written in a very short span of time. So that must have been where our heads were this time around.

CK: It was the groove of the time.

JA: We actually have 9 songs for another record already to go (laughs). We are doing 4 of them at the show.

Your release show at Crescent should be a great time. Are you doing the whole new record at the show?

JA: I think we are going to do a five from this album, four new ones and two from the first record. We really want to mix it up and keep the energy high. We love playing fun shows, that’s our top priority, so we want to make sure people have a good time.

CK: Yeah, we’ve tried to go the other route, and we’ve had bands that were pretty and quiet. And that’s very satisfying musically and all that, but you just lose people’s attention sometimes playing live. You can’t really ignore No Volcano.

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Photo by Bil YANOK

What about the name, Dead Horse Power?

JA: Oh well I think it kind of fits the mood of the record, it’s a little heavy sounding. Plus it’s just a cool play on words.

I was actually shocked no one used it before. I wrote it down and then googled it thinking someone must have used it. Because with our last record, and I didn’t realize this until it was already out, but there is a band called “Who Saved the Party?”

CK: There’s also a game called Oh No Volcano, and band called “Volcano” so that confusing.

JA: But I really thought someone must have used that phrase “Dead Horse Power” somewhere, but nothing came up. But it just really fits that mood. A Little heavy, a little dark. Our bassist Jake (Sevier) said we should change the band name to that (laughs).

And you didn’t mean to put the songs in alphabetical order?

CK: Ha well no it was accidental. Because unless you put a number for each song, the computer just puts them in order.

JA: So when he sent us mixes, that’s how they were coming over. And given the task of coming up with an order, which is always tough, this just worked and was super easy.

CK: And you don’t have to put numbers on the record.

JA: And you don’t have to argue about it (laughs).

The video for “Blackout” turned out really amazing.

JA: yeah that turned out so well, I’m so happy with that. That’s a guy from Tucson named Jason Willis and he just did such an awesome job.

CK: That guy is super talented, we sent him such crappy iPhone video. He didn’t come film us, we just sent him some terrible footage from practice on our phones, and a week-and-a-half later, that amazing thing was done.

JA: Even my face, I just shot that singing into the phone and it looked so stupid, but that video is amazing. We were worried, it was like, do you still like the band after what we just sent you?

CK: And really, that song to me was kind of a sleeper, I almost thought we might cut that one from the record, but it really started to click after a while.

JA: And that video really makes the song I think, kind of gives it a new life.

CK: Plus, it seems like people are way more willing to watch a video on Facebook. A lot fewer people will click through to Bandcamp or whatever.

JA: You just got to make sure the video autoplays when people are scrolling through Facebook. It really sucks them in (laughs.)

~

Details: No Volcano Dead Horse Power Album Release, with Father Figures and Less Pain Forever and DJ Todd Joseph.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, November 26
Where: Crescent Ballroom, 308 N 2nd Ave, Phoenix
Tickets: $8 advance / $10 at the door
For more info check out the Facebook event page.

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For the Record: W H I T E – L A B E L by The Doyenne

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Photo by Daniel Funkhouser

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

We get a lot of electropop sent to us here at YabYum. A LOT. I listen to hundreds of singles every single week, and let me tell you, the reason most of the submissions get turned down is because it sounds too much like everything else we’ve heard that week. Your retro synths and hook-filled love chants are not original. In fact, usually by Thursday, they sorta make me want to kill myself.

This is not that. This is the antithesis of that. This is everything art should be: raw, exposed, fresh, and maybe a little weird. I am, of course, speaking of W H I T E – L A B E L, the October 2016 release from Phoenix’s Doyenne.

W H I T E – L A B E L is a 12-track collection that delves into the psyche of the artist and, in turn, the listener. It is an avant-garde undertaking that blurs fantasy and reality with the same fluidity that the Doyenne approaches gender. And avant-garde is often weird. It should be. It should sound strange to you, at first, because it is new and different. And then it begins to take root in the listener. That’s exactly what this album does.

The new release from The Doyenne opens with “SEX | PARTY” and listeners should immediately recognize this album is NSFW. Twerking, weed, and pornographic fantasies are all on the table here. You’re not  going to want to spin this on company time. Actually, you’re going to want to wait until you have space to move around anyway because the Doyenne will get you dancing.

Combining electropop elements with hiphop, the Doyenne shapes out a unique brand of bedroom pop and, in doing so, gives new meaning to the term. There is an authentic presence of self because, as a songwriter, he doesn’t hold back.

I discovered a lot of variance between tracks. For example, “S O U N D ♪♫ C H E C K” has a vibrant, carnival feel before The Doyenne declares war in “Slay the Queen”. And “Lævateinn” gets appropriately disjunctive with a slightly industrial edge as the aggression rises while “V I B R A T O R” creates a trance-like atmosphere. Doyenne classics like “Party Girl” and “Ass Like Beyoncé” also make an appearance on W H I T E – L A B E L. 

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Photo courtesy of The Doyenne

The Doyenne throws down some serious vocals on “strange kind of love.”, the closing track. I’m definitely excited to hear more from the artist on the vocal front in releases yet to come. This album isn’t really a dance-club mix (it’s more art house than that), but it will definitely turn your living room into a dance party for you and your friends. And I bet it gets the Trunk Space popping.

Artists have long been the harbingers of shifts in human consciousness. They break down the illusory bonds of convention simply by being true to their own nature. The Doyenne is going to keep shimmying over those unneeded divisions in the sands of society until they are forever obscured and he’ll do it to a dance beat. Fuck yeah.

So, if you’re harboring outdated modes of thinking, then it’s time to “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” (to quote Jillian Michaels with only a moderate amount of shame). The world is changing and it’s not going to wait for you to adapt. If you listen closely to W H I T E – L A B E L, you can hear the future of music plotting its path into the world.

I had the opportunity to ask the Doyenne a few questions about the W H I T E – L A B E L, DIY music-making, and living “beyond gender”.

YabYum: Okay, let’s start with the nitty gritty. Can you tell me a little about your music set-up? What are you using to make these tracks?

The Doyenne: I use two different Digital Audio Workstations; Fruity Loops (FL Studio) which is my main program and the one I’ve used since 2006. I also use Logic Pro X when the Mac set up is available (the song “strange kind of love” was produced entirely on Logic Pro, for example). Vocals were recorded either using a Samsung CO1U or an Audio Technica ATR2500, both of which are USB microphones. I usually use a keyboard for synth parts and all other mixing or production is done with the DAW. My laptop is dated and has been in use since 2009, but most of my work from the last few years has been produced on it. It’s the same laptop I use to pipe music into sound systems for live performances, though I’ve also used a tablet for that.

Are you DIY with your recordings? They have a clean, well-produced sound.

Thank you! I produce, compose, arrange and record all of my tracks. Before I was solo, I was one half of a production project where I recorded vocals and sent them to an instrumentalist who, at the time, lived in Bulgaria. This was before 2008. Since then, everything has been put together by myself.

W H I T E – L A B E L gets downright gritty when it comes to divulging the details. It seems like, as an artist, you don’t hold back when it comes to putting your authentic self out there. Would you say that’s accurate or does The Doyenne still hold back a little something-something of the self from your songwriting?

Haha. I feel that I’ve written from a very honest place but there’s still a lot that I want to say. I definitely think that The Doyenne is, accurately, me and not a costume that I put on. However there’s a lot more that I have to say or, at least, there’s a lot more ways that I’d like to learn how to say what it is that I want to say.

You address the topic of gender throughout this release, at one point identifying yourself as “beyond gender”. Can you expound a little on what it means to you to be beyond gender?

That’s a line from “S E X | P A R T Y”. I feel like I’m both man and woman, or rather I don’t feel like I can’t do things because I’m a man. As I get older, I feel more comfortable with every part of myself that would be considered feminine or masculine, and it’s in that acceptance that the all parts of me act synergistically as greater than the sum of the individual qualities. That’s what I mean when I say that I’m beyond gender; I’m saying that I’m beyond the limitations that society places on people based on that construct.

It is one of my great ambitions to catch a live performance from you. I hear it’s quite the worthy experience. I’m just curious how you feel your music translates to the live setting? Would you say that’s your strength or do you prefer the solitude of the creation process?

I rarely get to watch myself perform on video playback but I know that performance has always been the end goal when it comes to making music. I’ve never had a real ambition for spending time recording and writing music, especially when everything is done by me. It’s always about finding the best way to sing, rap, or dance to get the idea of a song across. I actually mostly record for my sake; I listen to the songs over and over to learn them and plan out how I’d perform them in my head.

Now, if I’m not mistaken, you’re in school at present. Are your studies music-related? And, if so, do you feel like your formal education has helped you cultivate your skills as an artist?

Yes, I’m in school right now for an associate’s degree in music business and I’m hoping to graduate in Spring of 2017. I’ve learned some skills to be a better musician but the entire reason that I wanted to go to school was to learn how to market myself and eventually realize my real goal – to tour. Returning to school has definitely helped me put a lot of things into perspective, though I understand that route doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. I’m still deciding on whether or not I want to continue as a recording artist full time or if I’d like to go further into another field like music law.

I’m planning on spending a lot more time with W H I T E – L A B E L, but I’m interested to know what you’re working on now. What’s next for you, musically speaking or otherwise?

My immediate goal is to get back to performing. I intentionally haven’t been booked for a show in almost a year so that I could focus on being mentally healthy and focused on school studies. Designing a better show and being able to better communicate with the audience are the most important things to me. This year alone, I’ve uploaded and released five separate music projects. I want to see if they have the same ability to move a crowd as some of my older songs like “Party Girl” and “Ass Like Beyonce’”.

As far as releases go, I have some ideas and I would ideally like to release something before the first half of 2017 is over. I had an idea for an album called American Faggot that would be more intentionally organic and folk-inspired as well as an album talking about my recent time in police custody. I also want to do more singing. Haha. I never wanted to rap exclusively and now I feel that it’s okay to work hard and find my voice.

~

Check out The Doyenne on Facebook and Twitter.

For The Record: Can’t Change the Sun by Blaine Long

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All photos courtesy of Blaine Long

by Senior Staff

Blaine Long might be the Arizona musician everyone’s talking about right now. He was recently featured as a contestant on The Voice so Long’s been launched into the national eye, but we haven’t forgotten his desert roots. Last year, Blaine released Can’t Change the Sun: a mellow, earthy, and introspective album that is perfect for sinking down into during this first autumnal chill of the Sonoran.

As the album opens with “Healing Time”, it’s Blaine Long’s voice that immediately sets this release apart; refined without sacrificing rawness, emotive without approaching the overly sentimental sound of contemporary country music.

On par with Blaine’s stellar vocal stylings is his songwriting. The tracks on Can’t Change the Sun delve into the inner reaches of the artist’s mind. I’m happy to report that the underlying message is one of hope, of a personal sense of peace, the most difficult kind of message to hold to these days. The lyrics my be a little beat down at certain moments, but they are never broken.

From start to finish, Can’t Change the Sun maintains a salt-of-the-earth sound that will warm your wind-chilled spirits through the coming seasons. And, did I mention? There’s also a fabulous cover of “Imagine” tucked away into this hearty, 14-track release.

I had a chance to chat with Blaine Long about music-making, #TeamBlake on The Voice, and what’s next for this hometown hero creating national waves.

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Blaine on The Voice

YabYum: Just curious, what was your introduction to music and when did you realize it was your calling?

Blaine Long: Just growing up, listening to my mom’s Beatles and Michael Jackson’s records. My dad would put on Johnny Cash and then later in the night he would play classical music. This was all on the family record player. I remember sitting in my bedroom, it must have been kindergarten, making up songs. And I remember enjoying it and thinking that I was actually doing it.

How long have you lived in AZ? What do you like about living here?

I was here from 1984 to 2004, then moved to Boulder and then ended up in California where I met my wife. We’ve been back in AZ since 2007. I love the smells of the desert. I love the climate. I love the people. I love the geography. I love the kind of music that comes out of Arizona.

When did you get involved with the music scene out here? Where (what venues) did you first start performing in front of audiences?

I started in the music scene in 1994 with my first garage band, Jones Fracture. Starting out at open mics, Congos on Scottsdale Road, Fatso’s Pizza, Boston’s in Tempe, Hollywood Alley, Billy Gordon’s in Tempe, Bandersnatch in Tempe…

blaine long 03Who and/or what are some of your influences?

Tom Waits, John Hiatt, Dead Hot Workshop, Chris Whitley

What prompted you to try out for The Voice?

Through Bright Angel Records – they got me a private audition. And so because of that relationship I did the audition. They are the label for my latest album, Can’t Change the Sun.

Now, you had quite the positive response from the coaches. What made you decide to choose #TeamBlake above the others?

He said that he would fight for me with the producers for song choice, key, style.

What’s it like to be featured in a video with over 1 Million views?? Is it out of this world or do you not really let that stuff get to your head? Has it altered your day-to-day in any way?

It’s cool. It’s an honor. But it doesn’t feel real, so no, it doesn’t really affect my day-to-day.

When and where can we see you play around the Valley?

My website is the best way to find out where I’m playing.

Some shows I’m promoting right now are Roosters on Nov. 11 from 2-5 PM; Chambers on First on Nov. 12 8-11 PM (with Jim Bachmann and Honeygirl). I’ll be at the Rock Bar in Scottsdale on Nov. 23 and I’ll be at Lon’s in Scottsdale every Saturday starting in January.

You’re representing Chandler! Any favorite spots around town that outsiders might not know about?

Our family loves Someburros near the mall. Great Mexican food at a great price! It’s our weekly Sunday dinner. Other than that, I love Green in Phoenix and Scottsdale. McKnight Guitar Shop on Chandler Blvd has really cool people.

blaine long coverLet’s talk a little about your most recent album. Where did you record it? And, how long did you have it in the works prior to recording?

My last album, Can’t Change the Sun was recorded at 3Leaf Post Recording Studio in Phoenix. It was engineered and co-produced by Sean Cooney. I only had a handful of songs for that album before it was time to record. I co-wrote some songs with Grant Woods. I wrote a few on the spot in the studio. I’m really proud of that album. It’s got a great sound. I love the freedom the the label game me to create on the spot, in the studio. But I also released Rey, recorded in my home studio last year (2015).


What’s next for you? Any plans in the works that you can share? Or is it all top secret?

Not much is top secret any more. I’m just gonna keep doing what I do – write songs, perform locally and out-of-state when I can. I’ll just keep pushing my song writing and not being so shy about performing. I’ve been an all original artist for the last 7 years in the Valley making my living doing that. I’ve very proud of that and I work hard to be as honest as I can with my song writing and performing. The Valley has been really good to me and people have supported the original part of what I do and I’m just thankful.

~

For the Record: Snake River Blues by decker.

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Photo by Matty Steinkamp

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

It’s no secret that decker. is a bit of a sweetheart of the YabYum staff. It seems like oh-so-many years ago now that Brandon Decker took the award for Songwriter of the Year and since that time we’ve watched the band/the artist/the collective finely tune a transmogrifying sound.

Patsy came out last year to some rave reviews, but did decker. take time off to enjoy a season of accolades? No. The band committed to a grueling tour schedule and got to work on their next album – Snake River Blues is the result of that effort.

The new EP has a bigger sound than previous releases – the sort of sound that tears through a crowd and rattles every individual within earshot to the core. Earlier albums have more of a solitary feel.

In achieving a grander, barroom-ready sound, decker. did not sacrifice the intimacy that marks his songwriting. Therein lies the true potency of decker.: raw, brutally honest lyrics with authentic, emotive power.

Snake River Blues achieves the energy of mystical force. That combined with its lyrical quality marks Snake River Blues as a memorable release; one that will live on in your mind long after that initial listen and all the listens to follow. This is an album you take along on long drives, that you listen to in your bedroom on an at-home Saturday night, that you learn all the words to so you can sing along at the incredible live experience that is decker. Snake River Blues is dark, brooding, soulful, and magical.

I had a chance to ask Brandon a few questions about the new album, life on the road, and what’s next for decker.

YabYum: So, fill us in on your year following the release of Patsy. What were you up to while penning Snake River Blues?

Brandon Decker: Well, its all a big blur. We worked hard, to the brink really, on Patsy and touring it. I came home and was tired of the music we were performing. I ended up on this Muddy Waters kick, along with some Chuck Berry, Tom Petty and then this Thee Oh See’s record Carrion Crawler and wrote all the songs in a few weeks. It happened really quickly.

Let’s talk about some of the nitty gritty of Snake River Blues. Where did you record the EP? Which artists from the decker. menagerie appear on the recordings?

We did the record with Bob Hoag at Flying Blanket Recording. The performers are Amber Johnson on keys (etc.), Andrew Bates on bass, Nick Ramirez on drums and myself as the core. Bob does – surprise surprise – some percussion! Only other player was our buddy from The Haymarket Squares, Mark Allred, who plays the big slide solo on the “Snake River Blues” track.

There is a mystical current that runs through your music – something I think your newest music video really encapsulates. What’s at the spiritual center of Brandon Decker?

I’m interested in mysticism, magic, the spirit, as I think we all are fundamentally. I’m interested in growing in my spiritual awareness. I’m aware of my frailty and imperfection. I really try to focus on gratitude, compassion, and presence and seeing that everything is Creation.

It seems like your time is divided between a hectic road life spent playing shows around the country and a quiet home life hiking and camping and passing hours with your son. Does this division result in a sense of balance? Or do you feel split between two different modes of living: always thinking about the other when living one?

You know, not much about my life has been balanced. But I’m working towards that end always. I have a robust life and feel very blessed. There are definitely these two very different sides: the dad life and the music life.

With certainty, right now, I enjoy the dad/hiking/nature part vastly more. It makes sense. To whatever extent I’m involved in “music business,” I’m growing less and less interested. It’s a big crock of shit from what I can tell. It really is like the Hunter S. Thompson quote about music*. But yes, I’m obsessed with my work nearly every waking moment and, while I try not to let that run all over my time with my son, I’m just compelled to work. Then the moment he’s gone and I’m on the road or whatever all I think about is being with him. I am absolutely never bored. I can tell you that.

snake river blues 02There is an air of desperation on Snake River Blues (as well as prior recordings), but in person you seem like a pretty zen dude. Do you fuel all your artistic and existential angst into your music or what?

Ha! Well, there is an air of desperation in my life. I’m happy to hear I seem zen! Music has definitely always been a place I work out some of the kinks of living. I mean, that is precisely what it is to me. I have no small amount of existential angst and music is one way I process it. That and whining. And hiking. And psychedelics.

You have an upcoming residency at Rockwood Music Hall in New York. I just so happened to be in New York one time when you were playing there and it was a spectacular show. What plans do you have for your month-long residency?

Well, we just wanna pack the house and kick some ass. We basically toured the country three times last year. And the ugly kind of touring. The no-money, sleeping-on-floors, is-the-van-gonna-break-down kind of touring. We don’t have rich dads or labels paying for our shit. When we got home, exhausted as I was, I felt hungry to make a bigger splash as quickly as possible. Instantly the notion of releasing a new album with a New York residency became the focus. Past that we just really want to survive it. The Snake River Blues endeavor has proved every bit as complex as touring and here we are again – exhausted!

I know you spend a lot of time on the road. I’m curious to learn if it’s all late nights, early mornings, and gas station food or if you get a chance to soak in some of the local culture in the various spots you stop in?

For the last few years we’ve really tried to. Doesn’t always happen. But I’m a nature boy. I love water. I try to get in rivers, creeks, hot springs or the ocean or go on a hike or play some frisbee in the park. We try to take things in. But again, it’s always a bit of survival mode.

And, as per usual, tell us what’s next for you. Album release, residency, and then?

Rest. I definitely plan on resting. I’ve been essentially non-stop since fall of 2009. I doubt I’ve taken 20 days off since then. I’m ready to ride the wave a bit and see where the inertia carries things.

~

The Snake River Blues Beer & Vinyl Release + Tour Kickoff show happens THIS WEEKEND (Saturday, Aug. 27th) at Valley Bar in downtown Phoenix. More information here

* “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.” – Hunter S. Thompson

For the Record: Honest Life by Courtney Marie Andrews

courtney marie andrews 01by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Singer-songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews has desert roots but a wanderlust spirit so she left her Sonoran home to explore other locales. Every once in a while, however, she’ll breeze through town to share some of the songs she’s composed on her journey. This month, Andrews will be popping into Valley Bar in downtown Phoenix to play some road-tested tunes and unveils her new album, Honest Life, for her hometown fans.

Now, I’ve been following Andrews ever since I found myself enamored with “It’s Okay, I Understand” and listened to it a million and a half times. Such an early introduction has allowed me to witness the development of this songwriter over the subsequent years and Honest Life demonstrates the culmination of the years she has devoted to honing her craft.

From the start of “Rookie Dreaming”, the opening track, I knew I was in for something special. Courtney Marie Andrews pairs a pensive songwriting with an adventurous soul and that spirit can be felt on every track. From the country bar ballad “How Quickly Your Heart Mends” to the travel weary “15 Highway Lines”, Honest Life presents the sincere observations of a wide-eyed watcher.

I had the opportunity to ask Courtney Marie Andrews a few questions about life on the road, songwriting, and what it means to live an “honest life.”

Read our Q&A here and make plans to head to Valley Bar on August 21st for Andrews’ live show with Dylan Pratt and Jesse Teer. More about the show here.

YabYum: What new horizons have you seen since you were last in town?

CMA: It’s been an interesting few years. I’ve spent a lot of time on the road singing backup and playing guitar for some great artists. In between that time on the road I bartended at a small town tavern, wrote songs, and recorded Honest Life with my band. I feel as if I’ve lived 10 different lives since my last time in town.

You grew up in Phoenix, but you’ve lived in some “weird spots” since leaving our dusty desert. I’m very interested to know where some of your favorite spots are..?

A majority of my time has been spent on the road; spent a few months in Belgium while singing for a songwriter over there; lived for a few months in Los Angeles in between tours; but I’ve been spending a lot of my time in a few different small towns outside of Seattle. Right now I’m staying in a house 7 miles from any town or gas station. I like it in contrast to the crazy touring lifestyle.

courtney marie andrews 02The new album is simply breathtaking. It is aptly named for the emotional honesty that resonates in every track, although I’m fairly certain that wasn’t why the name was chosen. What does “Honest Life” mean to you?

“Honest Life” means coming of age, and realizing how hard it is to remain true to yourself, but truly believing it is within you, and the ones you love, to do so. “Honest Life” is every stranger you meet no matter what background they come from. It’s the idea that everyone in the end, at least tried, to live their most honest life.

I’d like to know a little more about the album’s creation. Where did you record it? Did you write it during a respite from your travels or during you pen the tracks in different locales?

My band and I focused on the songs, and rehearsed them for a month before heading into the studio. The players on the record are great friends of mine, so it felt more personal, which was perfect for the songs and theme of the album. We recorded it at Litho in Seattle, with a true gem of a human, Floyd Reitsma.

Most of the songs were written in a hotel room in Belgium. I was singing backup for Milow, a songwriter from there. While essentially living in this hotel room, I was going through a major heartbreak, and Honest Life flooded out of me in nearly one piece. I was far from my loved ones, and America. I pined for anything familiar, anything that attached me to myself again. Once I finally did get back to the states, I did the opposite of tour for a while, bartended in a small town, and wrote the rest of the songs about finally arriving to the place that I deeply wished for all those months overseas.

I see that you’ve performed with some other musicians of note. Would you mind sharing some of your favorite artists that you’ve performed with?

I recently got off tour singing backup and playing lead guitar for Damien Jurado. He’s become one of my dear friends, and he’s such an incredible songwriter.

A lot of musicians are eager to leave behind their hometowns to explore new regions. Do you ever get homesick for Phoenix? What, if anything, do you miss about living here?

Most of all I miss my family and friends who still live there. I get homesick for them, more than I do for the place itself. I miss good Mexican food, the purple and pink sunsets that fade into the beautiful wide open desert, and the great music community. All of my childhood and adolescent memories are attached to Phoenix so I will always miss the familiarity of that as well. I wear an Arizonan quarter ring to remind me of where I came from. It’s important to remember.

What’s next for you? Will you be taking a break from songwriting to focus on promoting the new album or do you usually throw yourself writing back into the creation process once you’ve locked down tracks on a recording?

I am always writing. It’s a weekly ritual for the most part.

~

Listen to “How Quickly Your Heart Mends”, the first single from Honest Life below.

For the Record: Hands In Our Names by Karima Walker

karima walkerby Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Tucson’s Karima Walker recently released a hauntingly beautiful album, Hands in Our Names. Combining elements of drone and folk, Walker crafts layers of sound that can have an eerie effect on the listener, like a half-remembered dream or half-forgotten lover.

There is a strong push toward minimalism on the album that I love. And, the juxtaposition of Walker’s ethereal voice against the rough, occasionally grating (gently grating, never overly-grating) effects, creates an interesting aural relationship – one that I could spend hours entrenched in. Thankfully, Hands in Our Names has twelve rich tracks in which to submerge your ears.

Karima Walker was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to discuss the album, her upcoming tour, and what’s next for her musically.

YabYum: I love the way you so seamlessly fuse drone and folk. I would imagine you have a disparate group of influences. What are some of the musicians you listen to? Or some traditions you draw on for your own work?

Karima Walker: Thank you! I was listening to Linda Perphacs, Bill Callahan, John Luther Adams, Eliane Radigue, and Will Oldham’s album from a few years ago, Wolfroy Goes to Town. That one has been swimming around in my head for a while. Masters of fullness and quietness. Then last year I saw Holly Herndon and that changed my life. I have spent a fair amount of time in the Americana/folk tradition but in moving back to Tucson a few years ago, I was re-exposed to metal a little bit. I joined Human Behavior last year, that project has been great for getting weird. I also am responding to a singer-songwriter tradition.

I see you came up to the Valley to record your new project at 513 Recording. What led you to that choice?

I first recorded at 513 with the Wanda Junes a couple years ago. I loved working with Catherine and Dominic, so I came back.

Can you tell me a little bit about the construction of this album? Did you enter the studio with a clear idea of what the song (or album) would ultimately sound like or was the process a little more organic within the studio setting?

I had the album almost completely assembled when I came in, but it was on all these different planes: paper, tapes arranged or stacked in the sequence I desired, [or] in Ableton, as one huge session. I knew I’d want to add some things or possibly re-record some pieces in the studio, but I had a good sense of what I wanted going into it.

kwalkerYou’ve worked with a number of musical projects out of Tucson. Would you mind naming some endeavors where people might have heard your work before?

I’ve been in Human Behavior for about a year and a half now, I was in the Wanda Junes for about 2 years, I sang a little on Ohioan’s most recent album, as well as Jesse Allen’s project, Bitters McAllen.

I hear you’re heading out on tour. Would you mind giving me the rundown on that? How many cities in how many days? Have you toured before – either with bands or for your solo work?

Yes, I’ve toured before- solo and with other bands, most extensively with Human Behavior. I was out for 30 days solo last spring and this year I figured I could do longer, so I started on June 30th and will finish at the end of August. I book for everyday, knowing that shows will fall through and if everything I’m working on right now comes through, that will be about 45 shows in 60 days? Whew!

What musicians helped you with the album?

Dominic Armstrong played drums on a couple songs and Adam Frumhoff played trombone on some too.

What’s next for you? Are you planning on taking a break after tour? Or are you always working on new songs?

A break of sorts! I’ll hopefully have found a place to live and resettle in Tucson. As much as I love touring, after a big push to get this record out and shared, I’m already missing the work of writing.

I am doing just about all of it on my own, and each piece, writing and gathering, recording & arranging, art concepts, determining and directing the physicality of the record, tour, publishing – each step is really different and so it’s kind of like having a garden that’s just the right size. Once one muscle gets tired, hopefully it’s time to move on to the next piece of work.

I think the new stuff may come easier than this last record! This album is still very much alive for me, and I believe that is proving to be inspiring for how I move forward.

Last Exit Live by decker. + Video Debut

deckerlive-1

by Lenore LaNova
Senior Editor

Photos and Video by Matty Steinkamp
Contributing Photographer

Brandon Decker is the master of ceremonies that presides over the band decker. The act, centered out of Northern Arizona, keeps busy between extensive touring and recording endeavors. In 2015, they released Patsy, an album of resounding beauty and a staff favorite that also earned the band our award for “Most Likely to Succeed”.  This year shows no slowing down for decker. Right now, they are gearing up for the Record Store Day release of their live album amid the chaos of recording their next LP, Snake River Blues.

Nevertheless, Brandon Decker took time out of his schedule to answer questions about the live album, their next recording effort, and the band’s forthcoming residency in New York. But, first, we’re excited to share decker.’s new music video featuring a track off their Record Store Day release, Last Exit Live. 

First, the nitty gritty. Where did you record the live album? Who helped capture the live sound and produce it?

The live album was done at Last Exit Live and is non-coincidentally named Last Exit Live. Brian Stubblefield mixed and engineered it. He did an excellent job and we’re super happy with how it turned out.

So, Record Store Day 2016. Are you a vinyl kind of guy?

I do like vinyl. I was born in 1980 and grew up in the tail-end of the vinyl era. I had many, and still have most of them from my childhood. Mostly classic rock and stand-up comedy. My mom has crates and crates of them too. As it has returned to the forefront in society, for me, it was really making the Patsy vinyl last year that impressed upon me what a tangible entity they are. A ton of work and time goes into them and they’re so much more energetically focused than a CD.


Any favorite records stores? Do you have a spot that you personally haunt?

I mean, we all love Zia and Stinkweeds. I’d say I mostly buy records from bands at shows though.

Tell me about the new video. This looks like the work of a certain Mr. Steinkamp. if I’m not mistaken?

This is indeed the work of Matty Steinkamp. It basically captures this chain gang moment we did at our live album recording but is a bit of a montage from some other shows and recording. We wanted to do something that wasn’t a cinematic type thing, but more to capture what the energy live looks and sounds like. If you know us, then you know that we play quite a few of shows and quite a few on the road so we wanted to get a video that kinda put that vibe out for people to see.

Now, the track you’ve selected for the video – “Speak in Tongues + Cellars” – is a live favorite. I’ve enjoyed quite a few decker. shows so I’ve heard this song uncounted times, but each show it’s a little different. Much like the live decker. experience, it’s constantly transforming. What was special about this live performance of “Speak in Tongues + Cellars”? I am assuming (and let me know if I’m wrong) that this was taken from the live album you recently recorded.

Well, we’ve never actually done it quite like this. This is a song from our 4th album, Speak in Tongues, that we don’t really play anymore. When Kelly (Cole) was in the band we had talked about doing this chain gang version of it and it just so happened that, years later, this show was the right time for it. Then we go into the middle third of our song “Cellars” – which is the one you are familiar with. But, yes, this is from the live album recording.

As previously mentioned, the band has been known to change shape and players. Tell me a little bit about how this affects
the live experience that is decker.?

Well, it means sometimes there are some extra missed notes. No, you are correct in that we play with many people. Now, I don’t want to sound at all defensive but I get somewhat frustrated with what a talking point this seems to be in Phoenix. That said, I want to play with as many lovely, talented, quality people as I can. And I want to play with people who understand and believe in my vision – it can’t work any other way in this project.

With Snake River Blues, decker. will put out our 6th studio album in 7 years. I play roughly 150 shows a year. The entire act has always been constantly evolving from the the days we used to busk in Santa Cruz several times a month to having Kelly standing up playing two floor toms while playing a guitar on a stand with a drum mallet because some drummer quit mid tour to the various different lineups we will feature this month. I’m constantly playing, touring, writing, learning, and growing. Sheer logistics and full immersion for me seemingly mandates that I work with a lot of personnel.

In many ways, it’s a blessing. We get these fresh energies and perspectives constantly. In some ways, its a curse. I’ve spent countless hours driving around Arizona chasing rehearsals and sometimes we have shows that don’t come off as tight as I’d like. But overall, I’m eyes-on-the-prize all the time and I think we’ve done a fine job of persevering while other more traditional, “stable” band lineups have come and gone because their very structure was forced to be some specific group of people.

Who took part in the live album recording?

Speaking of wonderful people. For this show, we assembled almost entirely of people we’d never played with. It was Amber Johnson and myself. Then we had David Moroney, a musician whom I admire a great deal, on drums and Mike Upsahl on bass. We had a choir with Taylor Upsahl, Camille Sledge from PAO, and Matthew Thornton from Vinyl Station. Then we had Mark Allred and Jayson James from The Haymarket Squares. I respect the talents of all these people so much. It was a real honor to have such a group of people that night.decker1

Why did you select Last Exit Live to record this album?

They have really become our favorite venue to work with in Phoenix. They want to foster an environment which feels like family and are super appreciative for all their shows and really artist-friendly in every way. Aside from that, Brian, the sound engineer, takes great pride in his recording setup and knowing the room. Its also a destination spot rather than scene spot and that was invaluable in keeping the chit chat at a minimum while we recorded.

What is in store for you next? Where are we in Snake River Blues?

We record Snake River Blues starting next week at Flying Blanket Studio in Mesa with Bob Hoag. And its all things towards the album release in New York from there.

Word has it, you are going to be doing a residency in New York later this year. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

I spent 18 weeks on tour for Patsy last year and was pretty ravaged. I wanted to come home and rest and think of what the next move would be. Very quickly, it was to write an album called Snake River Blues and try to get a residency at Rockwood Music Hall in New York. We’re super excited. I had never been to New York until last year and we had two shows there which both went quite well. While there I kind of bemoaned never having an opportunity to live there, so this is my answer to that. But, truly, this is the biggest thing I could think of to do with my year.

Record Store Day draws near. How will you be spending it?

Funny enough, April 16th is our first day in studio. So, we will begin recording the album. Then we will rush over to Zia for an in-store to promote the live album then off to Lost Leaf for a show with Huckleberry and Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold – a true decker. day!

Any additional chances to encounter the live decker. experience on the horizon?

Well apart from the Lost Leaf show we are also at Rebel Lounge with Small Leaks Sink Ships on Saturday April 30 and Last Exit Live on Friday May, 20 for a big one!

~

For the Record: Spoils of War by Wyves

Wyvesby Lenore LaNova
Senior Editor

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there just isn’t enough rocknroll in rocknroll these days. Too much of contemporary music that is termed “rock” is toned down by other influences, like indie or Americana. What happened to good ol’ fashioned, ass-shakin’, barroom rocknroll? It’s right here on Spoils of War from the Phoenix four-piece known as Wyves.

Wyves combines the established talents of Corey Gloden (lead vocals, guitar), Nick Sterling (lead guitar and vocals), Brenden McBride (bass), and Evan Knisely (drums). Their deubt effort, Spoils of War, gives listeners a much needed dose of gritty guitar rock in an era of simpering, cardigan-wearing songwriters.

The opening track, “Jump into the Water”, brings energy from the get-go with its driving guitars and whiskey scratch vocals. My personal favorite oscillates between the slinky “Bad Reputation” and the title track which has a (dare I say?) Mellencamp feel.

I had a chance to ask Wyves’ Evan Knisley a few questions about Spoils of War

YabYum: Where did you record the album? 

We recorded the album in between our houses with Ryan King at the board. Once we had all the music tracked we finished off vocals and mixing with Curtis Grippe at STEM recording.

It feels like Wyves has become a staple on the local scene for some time now, but it looks like you played your first show in June of last year. I guess I’m just carrying over some earlier musical associations of Wyves’ members. What are some of the other acts the bandmates have played with (or do play with)?

We definitely all had some connections and built in fans from other projects. Corey was a part of and still plays with Dry River Yacht Club and Brenden and I were the rhythm section of Sara Robinson & The Midnight Special. Quite possibly the best previous experience is that of Nick Sterling. It’s crazy how many people of the current AZ local scene don’t know how much he has done. He has been on stage with Aerosmith, Kid Rock, Peter Frampton…the list goes on. He wrote an album with Sebastian Bach and toured the world with him, hitting dates with Guns N’ Roses along the way. He has seen and done so much at a young age. We have a great group of experienced players, personalities and friends with Wyves.

Is there a priciple songwriter in the band? Or do you usually hash out the tracks as a team?

We all like getting together and putting in our ideas when it comes to song writing. On Spoils of War there were a couple of tunes carried over from Corey’s song bank that we tweaked a bit. Usually someone will bring a riff or verse chorus idea and we will either take off with it or restructure it so it becomes the way we all feel best. In my opinion having everyone involved is the best way to write. If you have a hand in creating it instead of just being handed the song finished, you will be more passionate about it.

Wyves certainly plays out a bunch. Do you feel the new album captures the spirit of the live Wyves experience?

Spoils of War certainly has great energy, which is what our live show is all about. Minus a couple of keyboard parts, on this album you are hearing exactly what you’d be hearing live.

Considering the band has yet to get a full year under its belt, you’ve been included in some rather impressive lineups including festivals like McDowell Mountain Music Festival and Apache Lake Music Festival. Any favorite live performances or really stand out shows to date?

To me the most standout show of the past 9 months would have to be our CD Release Show at Crescent Ballroom. We went in on cloud nine hearing how many pre-sale tickets we’d sold and halfway through the show we were told of it being Sold Out. I remember walking out to that stage and feeling everyone’s incredible energy that night. We really have been lucky with the support and opportunities we’ve been given for our relatively young band age. But we take those opportunities and use them to their full advantage. You gotta earn those spots by bringing everything you have.

Can you tell me a little bit about Wyves’ 2016 plans? Tours, music videos, etc?

This year has a lot in store for us. We plan on releasing 4 music videos for this album, one of which is already out and the second is being shot in April. We are very much wanting to tour and hit some of the West Coast markets. We are always on the lookout for big Arizona show opportunities and national band shows where we can get in front of some new faces. With all of that craziness going on, we also plan on fitting in some time to start writing some more songs and growing our sound.

Make sure you check out Spoils of War from Wyves (available here). I also highly recommend getting out to see this band live. They will be performing this weekend (4/9) at the Rogue Bar in Scottsdale and again on 4/15 at the Yucca Tap Room in Tempe. More information about Wyves’ Upcoming Shows can be found here

For the Record: The Blank Waves

blank wavesby Lenore LaNova
Senior Editor

The three-piece psychedelic outfit known as The Blank Waves are getting ready to release their debut s/t album later this week at The Trunk Space downtown. I had a chance to preview the release and I must say I was more than pleasantly surprised by the richly layered tracks that floated out of my speakers the minute I hit play.

“Song for Syd” opens the EP with its circus-laced sounds and submerges the listener into an all-encompassing aural experience before giving way to the dreamy “Changing Sun”, the second track on the album. An interlude breaks up the EP without causing a flutter in the cohesive, but not homogenized, sound that will have you feeling like you’ve drifted into a Mary Poppins’ chalk drawing.

What strikes me most about The Blank Waves music is its fluidity. Tracks meld together in a Strawberry Jam-style stew of colors and textures. Cody Hazelle, Ninos Karaman, and Max Modeen make up the holy trinity of The Blank Waves. Together, they are crafting what just might be my favorite local electronica which the band describes as “Psychedelic Lo-Fi Vibes”.

Perhaps, I shouldn’t say “band” either. The trio disdains the title. Instead, according to their Facebook page, “The Blank waves are a medium by which psychedelic forces are manifested; a link between the physical and metaphysical. It is through these relentless meat packages that one may experience an inspiration of oceanic proportions.”

“Why You Fight It” ups the energy while its repetition serves to reinforce the existential anxiety tucked away in its lyrics. “Loony Bin” closes the album, pushing the energy and dissonance to its furthest point without ever going too far for my radio-raised ears.

I recently had a chance to ask The Blank Waves players a few questions about the new album and the impending release.

Lenore LaNova for YabYum: First, let’s talk about the nitty gritty… Where did you record the new album? How long has it been “in the works”?

Cody: We’ve recorded the album ourselves in our own home over the last 6 months, with some breaks and distractions in between. The songs are representative of the last year or so of our band. “Changing Sun” and “Let it Breathe” are our oldest outings on this album. Probably close to a year and a half old at this point.

Tell me a little big about The Blank Waves. How did the band come into being?

Cody: The three of us have been playing music together for more than 3 years now, in various incarnations. Before this group we were known as Creosote Mantra where we had a fifth member in our band and put out an EP under that name. The first Blank Waves show was in January 2014 and, at the time, we were a four-piece rock band. We’ve since then morphed into the three-piece we are today by being inspired by lots of music and art as well as learning new things.

I noticed that the band members “don’t play a real instrument”. Is this true? Do you rely solely on electronic instrumentation for both recording and performing?

Max: We like to poke fun at the fact we only “push buttons” and “don’t play real instruments” because when we play live there are no guitars, bass, drums, etc. Actually we capture a lot of sounds; acoustic and electronic at our home and bring them to our shows with compact performance samplers. Cody and I also play synths and our setup is always changing. Who knows what the future holds?

The album is a pretty eclectic mix of instruments. A lot of keys and synthesizers, real drum sets and drum machines, and if you listen carefully there are even a few guitars hidden in the mix. But a really important aspect of our music is the various found sounds we like to manipulate and use in our tunes. Might be our friend’s piano, nature sounds, Cody’s baby nephew, audio books we like, etc. We then take these recorded sounds, chords, melodies, what have you, and put them on our samplers in order to utilize as many instruments and textures as we can in the live setting.

Of course we like to tweak them beyond recognition into something other worldly. That’s one of the most fun things for us.

With songs like “Why You Fight It” and “Looney Bin” it seems like the debut release is all about embracing the inner insanity. Am I totally off-point or are you actively encouraging your fans to go crazy?

Max: I like to think our music reflects some aspects of being a person and experiencing your life. We have a lot of calming and peaceful stuff that reminds me of the good times. But there is always an underlying darkness or craziness that can rear its ugly head at any moment. Just like life!

Ninos: “Looney Bin” definitely carries a heavy theme of insanity but I wouldn’t say it’s encouraging people to go crazy in anyway. “Looney Bin” reflects frantic anxieties about how we are being perceived by other people and its influence on our ability to be who we are.

Cody: “Why You Fight It” is more about the American Dream and what we’re told growing up. I guess maybe more my attitudes toward the “default” way of American living and expectations. “Money, family and working are very good for you. You know it’s true. So why do you fight it?” The other half of the song expresses a different feeling of what the American Dream can mean to an individual and how free and lofty that particular feeling can be.

Any additional 2016 plans to follow up the release? Local events? Tours? Music Videos?

Cody: Yeah! We have a music video coming out shortly, probably later in the month, for a song that didn’t make it on the EP. We’ll be playing a 4/20 show at the Trunk Space with completely different material and some local friends of ours. The details of that are still tbd… We’re also playing Indie 500 on Saturday 4/23 (the third annual and final event at the venue – eds.). Lastly, we hope to do a mini tour to California or something during the summer. It’ll be our first outing so we want to keep it easy!

 

The Blank Waves will be releasing their debut album on March 30th at The Trunk Space with Waytansea Point, Amadoo’s Crew, and Eli Kluger. More information on that event can be found here.

Additional Links for The Blank Waves:

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