Those klezmer crusaders known as Jerusafunk dropped by the Radio Phoenix studios and now the podcast is available in all its deliciousness. We talk all sorts on the new record The Hierophant, the upcoming J-Funk tour, and try to find out all we can about band member side projects. Not only that, they brought in some fantastic tracks from some fantastic local bands and, as always, the complete playlist can be found below.
Now then, make sure to catch Jerusafunk perform as the in-house band for Pan Productions’ The Goblin Kings City, a live stage musical adaptation of the 1986 film Labyrinth. Only a few show dates left for that so click here for more info on how to score tickets. You should also check out The Hierophant Album Release Party with Nick Perkins Band, Zach Alwin & Duck Funk, and DJ Mitch Freedom at the Crescent Ballroom on June 15 because you KNOW that’s gonna’ be a funkysweet time.
Tune in every first and third Wednesday at 7 PM for The YabYum Hour, only on Radio Phoenix.
We’re super stoked to be the first to share this sweet new music video from local hip hop legend Dadadoh. We even got a chance to chat with the man behind the music (and music video) about all the shizz coming from his camp this year.
But, first, we want to give you inside eye on the music video for “Lonesome”. The track itself feels more atmospheric than your usual hip hop jam and that’s part of the reason we dig it. “Lonesome” is where Dadadoh gets into one of his more meditative moods and that musing quality echoes the emotional implications of the track’s title.
Check out the music video and the continue on below to read our Q&A with Dadadoh about the making of “Lonesome”, the fact behind the fiction, and what’s next for PHX’s favorite musical hustler. Oh, btw, make sure you have Radicalhere – the album from whence this track came – in your own personal collection (available ).
YabYum: So, first of all, I’d like to know more about the making of the video. Who directed it? And did you have additional help from any key players to bring the new video to life?
The ideas behind my videos are so specific that I really couldn’t imagine anyone else directing them other than myself. My ideas are never set in stone. They’re really just rough blueprints of what-ifs that I’m always expecting to evolve into something else later down the line.
I’m over performance shots in hip hop videos. I mean how many ways can you shoot a video looking into a camera and mouthing the lyrics. The concept has been beat to death in my opinion so when it came to making my next video I wanted something that was more of a film than a commercial for my song.
Andy Warpigs had just released his video for “Everybody Likes You Now” and I loved the feel of that video. I found out it was shot by this really cool cat named Indy Prince. I reached out to them and tried to explain this crazy idea I had and, fortunately, for me they were totally down to help me make it happen.
It looks like the new music video might be continuing the tale that we first got a glimpse of in your last music video. So, I have to ask, is this narrative entirely fictional?
This video is definitely another chapter in the same universe as my last video. Hip Hop has so many unspoken rules and I’ve always felt that those limitations have hindered the art form at times. I try to play with those sensitive areas in my visuals. I can’t really confirm at this time what’s real and what isn’t but I can assure you that the truth will come out in the end of the narrative.
The single featured in this video came from your last album, Radical. Where did you record the songs for that collection?
I’ve been producing music for myself and other TVLiFE Entertainment artists at my home studio that I’ve coined “Jamarvin’s Room” in Tempe, AZ since 2012. The entire thing took thirteen months before it got wrapped in cellophane and I finally had the release party on my birthday last year.
You perform as Dadadoh but you’re also involved in other musical projects. Mind enlightening all who might not have the full Dadadoh-music-hustle picture just what you’re up to these days?
I wrote and recorded a song for the evangelistic rap group 20 Ft. Neon Jesus awhile back that should be on their next album. I just shot a concert film for Red Tank! that I’m really excited for the people to see. We’re in pre-production on the next two MC/DC projects. I engineered and played percussion on Andy Warpigs next two albums. I’m working on an EP with Indy Prince (who you can hear wailing like an old black lady on Andy’s “Dog Ate My Dope” single).
Ricky Smash and I just spent two months recording and releasing a new project called They Don’t Think It Be Like It Is But It Do by our band Exxxtra Crispy that I’m really excited about. I also DJ for this super cool femcee called Bert who’s ill! I put on a women’s event four times a year called Women Only that gives new female artists a platform to perform and connect. I started a podcast called “Before The Show” that is currently recording its third season and that will be released soon.
What’s next on your itinerary? You’ve already been in a feature film, directed your own music video, and put out some killer music. I want to know what else Dadadoh has on his bucket list?
I’ve been working on my stand up movie for awhile now and I think it’ll be done by the end of the year. I’m also working on booking a summer tour for 2018 where I want to get overseas and I plan to release my next album right before that tour.
I’m playing with the idea of re-recording some songs I’ve already released as a full band where I play all the instruments as well.
I’m mixing a cover I recorded that I’ll send to the When In AZ Vol. 2 compilation when it’s done.
We start production on the next Exxxtra Crispy album next week and I’m hyped on where we’re going to take that sound next.
I’m looking for more radio, television and movie placements in my future too. Hell, if I haven’t done it and it seems borderline impossible, then consider me all in.
Photographer Daniel Corrigan was there shooting musicians when the scene in Minneapolis exploded. Taking photos of Prince, The Replacements, Babes in Toyland, and more. Jenny Lens was one of the few photographers chronicling the early punk scene in both North America and London. Charles Peterson’s influence on rock photography rests in his coverage of the Pacific Northwest music scene – primarily Seattle’s – during the late 1980s through early 90s.
Photograph historians. Hometown shooters chronicling the life of musicians. Without these, and certainly many others, the very history of those music communities, as well as thousands of others, would be lost.
Take a second, close your eyes, and picture Bob Dylan. Kurt Cobain. Stevie Nicks. Imagine your favorite musician. Yep, there it is. And thanks to someone with a camera, that image will be etched into your mind forever.
Every day my social media feed is flooded with images of local Phoenix musicians who played the very night before. And because of three, now two, dedicated and passionate photographers – who sometimes visit 3 venues in a night – I can relive the music through their photos.
And remarkably, night after night, Bill Goodman and Elaine Campbell shoot the bands for free. Nada. Zero. Zip. And then post them on their social media feeds. For free.
One of the reasons they do it, I’ve come to understand, is because they love music as much as they do photography. They hold musicians near and dear to their hearts. So, they shoot and share. And if you’ve seen any of their work, it is beyond captivating. Sometimes in color. Sometimes in black and white. But always stunning.
At this point, I would be neglect to mention the late Tony Zeimba. Ziemba died fighting cancer. He was one of the first band photographers I had met when I first started playing. Not a finer photographer, in or out of the studio in my opinion, has ever pushed the shutter.
I caught up with Goodman and Campbell, (in between running to a show, of course), and asked them to give me a glimpse of where they came from and why do it.
Frank Ippolito:At what age did you first start taking photos?
Elaine Campbell: Earlier this year (2017).
Bill Goodman: I was fascinated with my parents’ Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera when I was around 12 or so. I didn’t get into shooting more seriously until much later. I was in my 30s.
Tell me, what was the first camera you owned?
BG: Canon T-70 35 mm SLR purchased at a pawnshop
Have you ever shot in a studio?
(These answers fascinate me because it even makes their photos in natural light even better.)
When did the connection between photography and music strike you?
EC: Watching Tony in the last 10 years.
BG: I think it was around 2003 when the newly opened Stinkweeds’ Central Phoenix location started a Blues Brunch music event on Sundays at noon. Mikel Lander became my first regular subject at that event.
Can you recall the very first show you photographed?
EC: Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold CD release party.
BG: I Think it was a show at The Modified Arts down on Roosevelt. I can’t recall who it was.
Most shows you shoot only have stage lighting, how do you manage to create such great images?
EC: I don’t know (laughs).
BG: A lot of trial and error, and the fact that digital cameras have gotten so much better in that area. My first shows were shot with High speed black and white film. Digital, at the time, was not as good as film in low light.
To me, you both are photo historians of Phoenix. Would you characterize yourselves as such?
EC: I never did, but so many people have mentioned it independently that maybe there is something to it.
BG: I can’t speak for Elaine, who shoots way more than me, but I think that initially for me, it was more of an adventure, trying to capture what I was seeing and hearing. It was harder a decade or so ago, and I felt challenged. I’ve done it for so long now that it isn’t as hard for me, so it has finally sunk in recently that my role is as of a documentarian wherever I go.
How do you feel about your role within the music community?
EC: Just trying to let the people who do not go to shows to understand that the Valley has an amazing music scene.
BG: Again, I think documentarian is a good description. I also feel it is a good way to pay back the music scene for all the great experiences over the years. I’ve seen a lot of great shows, many for free, over the years. I feel very privileged to have been present for so much great music.
Bill, you share a common bond with another photographer, Tony Ziemba, who just recently passed away from cancer. Can you describe your relationship with him?
BG: Tony was a real unique guy. He shot purely for the joy of it. I don’t think he ever took a dime for anything he ever shot, and his stuff was so good. I think the music community really misses him. He was a kind, gentle spirit. We do share some of the same reasons for doing what we do. I mostly do it for fun. I do occasionally get compensated for some stuff that I shoot that is specialized.
Elaine, you were married to Tony, how did he come to photographing bands?
EC: Music was Tony’s soul. He started shooting at a very young age when there wasn’t digital. He stopped for a while when work and family took priority. When we started going to see more music, that passion returned. Honestly, when he was so ill due to the cancer, the music healed his soul.
What did he teach you about concert photography?
EC: He hated pictures of musicians with the microphone in their faces.
Without playing favorites, which bands are some of your favorites to shoot?
EC: Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, Haymarket Squares, Sistah’s Too, Mike Eldred Trio, VooDoo Swing, Royal Crown Review, Phat Cat Swinger, Two Toned Lizard Kings. It’s fun to shoot a band that has some movement.
BG: I can’t think of any specific bands today. I like a lot of stuff… In the past I had a couple of favorites that no longer exist. What Laura Says and Mergence come to mind. I really miss both of those bands.
Favorite place to shoot?
EC: Anywhere the lighting is good. Crescent Ballroom, MIM, outdoor festivals, Rhythm Room, Desert Botanical Gardens.
BG: On a good night, It’s hard to match Last Exit Live for its lighting. It makes it look like I know what I’m doing. I however tend to prefer the dark, moody places, best. The Lost Leaf is a favorite of mine for its atmosphere. The always moody red light forces me to shoot monochrome in there, with generally good results. And I just like the place.
P.S. After a couple of days, I came back to this piece with this realization: The reason Bill and Elaine’s photos drip of raw emotion and energy is due to the fact they are shooting for the pure love of shooting the music, without worry about getting paid.
So, the next time you’re on stage, and you feel the stare of a camera lens, it’s probably one, or both, doing what they love to do, documenting you, doing what you love to do. So, give them some love, back, just sayin’.
To help kick of YabYum’s increased coverage of the literary arts this year, our editorial staff decided to reach out to comrades-in-art and co-founders of Called Back Books, LM Rivera & Sharon Zetter.
Called Back Books came to life in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, but this avant-garde publishing house now calls Santa Fe home. To celebrate the launch of our POETRY series, we subjected the CBB team to some questions and they were kind enough to play along.
Before we get to the interview, however, Called Back Books offered this gift of poetry to share with all our YabYum readers. An extended sampler from the printed poetry of Called Back Books is available to you here for free preview/download/printing. Everyone should have more poetry in their lives. Called Back Books is here to answer that calling.
I had the chance to “chat” with the founders of Called Back Books recently, but first, make sure you get that digital download of your poetry sampler from Called Back Books (it’s 120 pages so consider that your workplace warning).
YabYum: I would imagine poets, like other writers, put a considerable amount of time and thought into the act of naming. I’m curious to know why you chose the name Called Back Books?
CBB: “Called back,” are the only words in Emily Dickinson’s last known letter–and they are engraved on her grave–and what would we be without her? Nearly nothing or, at least, much, much less. The master Susan Howe wrote a book called My Emily Dickinson, if she went out of her way to do this: we can at least tie our endeavor to Saint Dickinson.
What led you to the decision to launch a publishing house?
Habitual disappointment and disgust with the coeval thing called the contemporary. Also, the few kinships that have formed, the radiance of those kinships, and the lack, in relation to the exposure of those bonds (and others), in terms of so-called publishing (what we, idealistically, call THE BOOK). And, lastly, we wanted to hold the reigns (of composition and the formal structure) and let our authors say what goes and stays in their works (for obvious, personal, reasons).
Who are some of the poets you’ve worked with (past/present/future) that really stood out for you personally?
Every writer we’ve worked with has been fire itself. We are especially addicted to our immediate poetic allies and their books (Colby Gillette’s WITHOUT REPAIR, Pablo Lopez’s NUMBERS, Adam Fagin’s THE SKY IS A HOWLING WILDERNESS BUT IT CAN’T HOWL WITH HEAVEN, and Gillian Olivia Blythe Hamel’s forthcoming occident (and more presently)).
And, as you know, we’re kicking off the Poet’s Corner? Poet’s Nook? The Poets Pocket? We thought it would be fun to have you tackle those questions before we force other poets through the ringer…
You are kind people. By which we mean to say: these monikers are much too quaint/sentimental for our taste. Something along the lines of POETS PRISON, THE POETS PURGATORY, OR THE BOOK OF QUESTIONABLE POETS AND THEIR DISCONTENT—this is more in line with our tendency…
So, who are you and what do you do?
We are Sharon Zetter and LM RIVERA and we write, read, and publish poetry, prose, theory, collage, and anything worth taking in (anything that will have us)—occasionally hiding under the alias of Called Back Books.
What is poetry?
Any thing happening at the point after tzimzum (the infinite explosion) when language (Being) bursts from the vessel—or the disorder of the psyche mapping itself onto the language of personhood (like an eternal Celanian handshake). Jack Spicer, por vida!
Who or what are your influences?
For the sake of this discussion we’ll limit the list to ten poets: John Milton, Edmond Jabès, Rosmarie Waldrop, John Ashbery, Jay Wright, Frank O’Hara, Anne Carson, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Marina Tsvetaeva, and Paul Celan.
But it would be sinful not to mention our shared personal literary Saint Figures: Franz Kafka, Fyodor Dostoevsky, William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, and Don Quixote.
What are you reading?
Sharon is reading through Bolaño’s canon, currently Monsieur Pain, the pre-Socratic philosophers, and re-visiting Duras’ Malady of Death. LM is reading as many of Andre Bazin’s writings/books as possible, O’Connor’s Wise Blood, Avital Ronell’s Stupidity, and Cinema Scope.
What is your mantra?
When we hear words like “mantra” we also hear the Goebbels-like economy of propagandistic language and, also, that which Martin Amis describes (namely, the cliché’s war against writing) and we try, whenever possible, to oppose, fight against, and extinguish it. As good ol’ fashion Nietzscheans: we prefer to think of our thinking as transvaluative.
Brandon Kellum of American Standards joined us in the Radio Phoenix studios and now the podcast is available for all our listening pleasure. We talked all sorts about the new album Anti-Melody, local bands making it happen, and opening for childhood idols. Take a listen below and catch them on tour in a town near you!
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!
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!
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.
My name is Mignon Gould and I am the founder and Agent-in-Chief of TheChicSpy.com, an online style and entertainment publication featuring the works of creatives in fashion, film, and pop culture.
How did you get your start?
Several years ago I worked for The Arizona Republic. I wrote for their weekly style publication called “Yes”, as well as a few of their other magazines. After leaving the newspaper, I went to graduate school in San Francisco, received an MFA in Fashion Journalism with an emphasis in Multimedia Studies. I used my publication as my thesis and decided to launch it into a business.
What inspires you?
I’m so inspired by my family in all that I do. Creatively my mother was inspirational. She is a clarinetist and performed for the Phoenix Symphony. She also enjoyed pottery. She created this amazing chess set when she was 16 and it’s mine now. It’s beautiful and the details on the pieces are amazing.
As a publisher, writer and entrepreneur, I’m also inspired by my 3rd great uncle John James Neimore, who in 1879 founded The California Eagle, one of the first African-American newspapers in California. He was in his teens. I can’t imagine how super focused he had to be to do something so groundbreaking at that age, and in that era.
What do you like about AZ?
I love the arts community and how unpretentious and enriching it is here. After all, we have one of the leading fashion collections in this country at Phoenix Art Museum, and we have one of the most attended art events in the nation with Artlink’s First Friday Art Walk. In the Valley, art is accessible for everyone.
I would like to have helped others achieve their professional goals. I’m currently preparing to launch Chic Spy Studio, a virtual internship program for college students and recent graduates in journalism, fashion, media, marketing, and design. I piloted the program in 2013 with students from around the country including Arizona State University in Tempe, Syracuse University in New York, and Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I originally launched my website to create a portfolio of my written work. I was able to get a job at a newspaper with that portfolio. Now, I want to create a platform that helps others land their dream job.
What is your mantra?
Carpe Diem. I wrote a poem in the 90s, and keep it with me always. It keeps me marching on, knowing no mission is impossible:
Have you ever wanted to create a new version of you Someone who’d always know what to do A feeling of strength and power divine No limits or boundaries to draw the line Carpe Diem is to seize the day Become who you want Make your own way It’s now or never, I’ve heard some say Now is the time, to seize the day