Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dissipated Face interview

Photo by Flannery Thaiss @ Downtown Music Gallery September 2014

Imagine free jazz mixed with hardcore punk and you'll get a very unique band. Dissipated Face was truly an interesting project, that got lost, but thanks to Roaratorio Records we can witness full blast of energy created in legendary CBGB back in 1986. Here's our interview with members of the band.

Artwork by Raymond Pettibon

Thank you for taking your time to talk about your recording from 1986 and the formation of "Dissipated Face”. Before we start talking about your formation, where are you from and what would you say influenced you in your childhood and later as a teenager?

Stephen Popkin:  I was born in Brooklyn NY in 1964, and grew up listening to Doo Wop, Brill Building songs and Folk music as a kid, and that led me to digging Bob Dylan and the Beatles by the mid 70s, Things really began to change when I moved to Merrick on Long Island New York at aged 12, and started studying the drums seriously, first at the Long Island Drum Center and later with Chet Doboe who was an influential local drum teacher that wrote many instructional books.

I became a fan of the Sex Pistols in 1977 after seeing them win a People's Choice award on TV, for the most disgusting band or something like that, which was presented by Ed Asner. I had heard, The Ramones, The Clash, and Talking Heads via Eddie Morman Young who like The Ramones came from Queens. I met him at summer camp in 1978 called Camp Swago. His sister, and his band mate Keith's brother, were a couple of juvenile delinquents who traveled in the punk rock circles of the day and were really into those bands and it rubbed off on us.

CBGB show flyer of show with Daniel
Carter where the EP was recorded
by Bruce Gallanter

Kurt Ralske:  My dad was a semi-pro jazz musician when he was young. I grew up hearing 1950s jazz and classical music. In my early teens, I worked hard at playing jazz on the trumpet, inspired by 60s and 70s Miles Davis. Then when the teens years really kicked in (anyone remember "acting out"?), I switched from trumpet to guitar. Why? It was simply an easier instrument to play after you've smoked too much weed.

Stephen  When I met Kurt I had just turned 17 and he played me two records I had never heard before: Miles Davis Bitches Brew and Henry Cow with Fred Frith, and that really opened my ears to new sounds like Ornette Coleman, Theloniuos Monk, Sun Ra, Bill Laswell and John Zorn. We saw them many times along with DNA, Bad Brains, Talking Heads, Fred Frith, McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones with our friend Bruce Gallanter. I saw Miles Davis and Sun Ra over 10 times each who were my favorite living jazz musicians at the time as well as The Clash and The Ramones whenever possible.

Kurt: I listened endlessly to Jimi Hendrix "Band of Gypsies", John McLaughlin/ Mahavishnu Orchestra "Between Nothingness and Eternity”, and King Crimson "USA". (These three still sound pretty good to me, even now.)

Photo by Scott Hiller

Were you part of any other music groups before forming "Dissipated Face"?

Stephen: I met Ben Munves in grade school, in an experimental music class for gifted students . Ben was a very talented piano and Moog player at a very young age who had gone to the Mannes School of music which was sort of like a feeder school for Juilliard. We formed "Data 5" with Tommy Williams (The Hooters, Debbie Gibson and Mazarin) on guitar and singer Paul "Doc" Docteroff in 1976. Later I started "Innovation", again with Docteroff. From grade school throughout early high school we played in basements and garages, parties, and battle of the bands. Then I formed "Thunderfux" with Ben on guitar, and a variety of bass players, after we reunited in HS and he wanted to start a punk rock band, before we had met Kurt.

Kurt: Before Dissipated Face, I didn't play in any formal groups. But every weekend, I would go to Manhattan and play in free jazz jam sessions, with musicians like Tom Bruno (drums), Steve Buchanan (sax), Lefferts Brown (electronics), Ellen Christie (voice). I learned so much from these musicians. They were supportive of what I was trying to do, even though I was a little high school punk from Long Island.

What can you tell us about the formation of "Dissipated Face”? Why the name Dissipated Face?

Stephen: Ben showed up at John F Kennedy High School in Merrick/Bellmore one day because he got kicked out of a private school. It was controversial because my mother had shown me an article about it in the New York Daily News newspaper, and then like a week later, there he was at JFK HS, and he said "Popkin let's start a punk rock band. I'll play guitar". I had only knew him as a piano player but I knew he was really talented and also, I had a sheet music book called "The Punk Rock songbook" I said "OK I'm in”.

Photos by Scott Hiller at The World nightclub

Kurt: I switched to a new high school in 10th grade. Because I didn't know anyone, I would sit in the back of the cafeteria by myself and practice whipping out on my electric guitar. Of course, this was a total insecure poser thing to do. But it worked! Steve and Ben approached me and roped me into jamming. And thus, a Face was born.

Stephen: We had taken to making fun of rock stars calling them dissipated, because they were getting so old and decrepit, especially Rolling Stones Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (shades of The Clash song 1977 which stated "No Elvis , Beatles or The Rolling Stones") One day we saw a picture of Jagger in the Soho News and we said he had a dissipated face and the name just stuck. We starting calling Ben, "Ben Face”.

Around the same time we started seeing this guy who we found out was Kurt Ralske, practicing his electric guitar without an amp in the school lunchroom everyday. I had recognized him as a trumpet player in the HS band where I played drums and percussion, although he wasn't always in class and I thought he was the flute players brother or something. Since Ben and I were looking for another player to complete our punk rock band we approached Kurt to join, and when he said yes Ben switched from guitar to bass.

Kurt: The three of us were a funny mix of music styles and personalities. Steve had the punk-est taste in music, Ben's sensibilities were a little more pop, and I was totally "outside". I loved Pere Ubu, Public Image Ltd, Gang of Four "Entertainment!", but I really couldn't relate to, say, The Clash or The Ramones, which was closer to Steve's bag at the time.

Stephen: But before we formed Dissipated Face we started "The Good Humor Men" which was a Progressive Rock proto Dissipated Face band that sounded like Eno meets Ash Ra Temple and Miles Davis' Bitches Brew mixed with Jack Johnson, with Ben and Kurt and Mitch Hiller on keys and percussion, and Ron Vos on drums. I mainly played Ben's Moog and sang through an echo chamber like Robert Wyatt, then Ron and Mitch dropped out because they couldn’t rehearse every day.

Photo by Scott Hiller

Kurt: And that was how I played. I could play weird modal chord voicings I'd copped from McCoy Tyner on Cotrane's "A Love Supreme", but I didn't know how to play even the most basic punk barre chord. Totally backasswards...but, this is part of what made Dissipated Face a great group. We had no idea how it was "supposed" to be done, we just had fun exploring how we might best fit together.

Stephen: So then in September 1981 we became the original "Dissipated Face" a somewhat angry and political, progressive power punk trio with Kurt Ralske on guitar, Ben "Face" Munves on bass and vocals, and myself Stephen "Steve X Dream" Popkin on drums and vocals.

Photos by Scott Hiller

Bruce can you tell us how you met the members of Dissipated Face and your involvement with the band?

Buce Lee Gallanter: I first met Kurt Ralske on line at a Fred Frith concert at Squat Theatre around 1981. We talked about Frith's unique approach to the guitar and his previous band Henry Cow. We became good friends soon thereafter. I was then living at home in Linden, NJ with my family and had jam sessions whenever my parents went on vacations, a few times per year. Kurt played guitar so I invited him to some of these sessions and he jammed with several jazz/rock musician friends of mine.

Kurt was in high school at that time Merrick, Long Island, NY and formed a trio with Stephen Popkin and Ben Munves soon called Dissipated Face. Dissipated Face also came to my house around that time and played for friends of mine, some of whom were knocked out by their unique sound, a blend of punk/psych/reggae/prog influences.

We all became friends and the three members became part of my extended local family of musicians, always eager to jam and play gigs. I taped as many concerts and jams as possible since for me all gigs & jams were important to be documented. I became a sort of manager for Dissipated Face since they were eager to play live as much as possible. They ended up on bills with Borbetomagus, Phantom Tollbooth, Shockabilly, Scornflakes, Machine Gun and many other bands who were in between categories. We all attended as many gigs together of all types of creative music as possible - free jazz, noise, punk Downtown, etc.

You started playing shows from 1981 as a trio. Where all did you play before your legendary performances at CBGB?

Stephen: We rehearsed everyday after school. Ben's father, R. Peter Munves was an executive at RCA Records and then Columbia Records  (he signed Walter / Wendy Carlos of "Switched on Bach" and Phillip Glass and worked on Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music ), so we saw the music business first hand and took the idea of being a band very seriously. The first gig we played was a party when I set up a venue, "The 11:59 Club", in my basement with our roadie Wayne Kropp, on November 13,1981. Then our first proper gig was at CBGB on November 30th 1981. We were passed at the audition night by Hilly Crystal, the owner of CBGB (who was recently the subject of a motion picture), and then we were invited back many times throughout 1981-1986 opening for The Meat Puppets, Cheetah Chrome (from The Dead Boys), The Anti- Nowhere League, Plan 9 (a psychedelic band from New England) and many local bands like The Tapes and The Nightcaps.

Photos by Preston Fox

Kurt: It was very exciting for us three little high school kids to play gigs at CBGBs and other clubs in Manhattan and New Jersey. These new and strange experiences made suburban life feel tolerable. We were still losers, as far as the rest of the high school was concerned...but we knew we were superheroes, because we were playing a Tuesday night at CBGBs!

Flyer by Lawrence "LA" Willette

Stephen: We booked and played any gig we could, bars and clubs in Manhattan, Long Island and New Jersey often with Bruce's help. Places we played included Inroads, (a large loft located at 150 Mercer Street), The Coventry (where both the New York Dolls and KISS started) The Underground (with Iggy Pop and Chris Spedding for a Dada party hosted by New York nightclub legend Fred Rothbell Mista who later ran The Limelight), My Father's Place (where I accused owner Eppy of shorting our pay), Arrows, The Dive, Dr Bs, The Jetty and others. Many school nights we would drive in to the city to play a show and return home and sneak into bed at 4am without our patents realizing it, somehow (?)

Flyer by Bernard Tubina

What's the story about Daniel Carter adding his forces and how did you came to an idea to join punk music and avant-garde jazz?

Stephen: All three of us lived in Manhattan after 1984 and we used to rehearse at a place called Vital Music in the East Village on East 10th street near Tompkins Square park, run by Dan Hoyt (from an industrial synth band called Lysdexic. He would later get arrested in 2002 as NYC's serial subway masterbater). A lot of the local hardcore bands would rehearse there. My recollection is I that’s where we met Daniel Cater, he was sitting in with another band and we heard him and asked him to jam with us, and he said yes. We always were experimenting with new sounds and players since we were a trio we had room for a guest player, and Daniel played all sorts of reeds and horns like saxes and trumpets which was unusual. Only Ornette Coleman played saxophone and trumpet to my knowledge because each instrument takes different unique lip movements that are hard to master so we knew he was a special musician. He also played the flute and clarinet. He only played free jazz improvisation so we could just play loud and fast and he would play on top of us as well as with us.

Kurt: The funny thing about playing with Daniel in the 1980s is that I have absolutely no recollection of ever talking to him. There was no chit-chat about the songs, or what time soundcheck was. He would just appear onstage, and everything that came out of his horn was magic.

Bruce: Daniel Carter was and still is one of the only creative improvisers who sought out like-minded musicians from whatever background they came from to play with. He heard something special in Dissipated Face and they became kindred spirits combining punk, jazz, funk, and noise into their own sound & songs. From the early 80’s when No Wave, early punk, Downtown and soon hardcore punk emerged, musicians from diverse backgrounds experimented across diverse borders and came up with new forms of music not held by categorization.

Kurt: I've come to appreciate that Daniel is not only an incredible musician, he is a champion talker. Conversations with Daniel range wide and free and deep, like his music. Ideas spin and collide, language flows in expected torrents, focus zooms from micro to macro. You talk, you listen, you think, you learn. Every minute spent with Daniel is, for me, an education.

What drew you to the hardcore punk rock scene in the east village in the 1980s and what were your impressions of the bands you played with?

Daniel Carter: I call hardcore punk UFO music because of the way it can turn on a dime, rhythmically, harmonically, melodically, mood-wise, atmosphere wise. The emergence of hardcore punk was a breakthrough in 20th century music. There was an increased collectivity in the creation of the music. It was politically radical, whether for good or ill (I think it was mostly for the good, though it was serious as a heart-attack, think kamikaze). It's a kind of rap music, but it never, to this day, has made it into the mainstream, as hip-hop definitely has.

Photo by Cristina Arrigoni

When I first heard hardcore I said to myself, wow, everything I got from Ornette, Coltrane, Miles, Cecil Taylor, and Albert Ayler, (plus doo-wop, soul, funk, disco, hip hop, r&b, and classical, and world music, in other words all the music I ever loved), I can now apply to hardcore punk. Hardcore, along with all the above-mentioned genres, still to this day, inspires me to aspire to get to the point where I'm playing in a group that does it all, in a cosmic synthesis, brought to earth.

Stephen: At that time, in 1984-1986 I was really getting into the SST Records bands like Black Flag, Husker Du, The Minutemen and the Meat Puppets (who we got to open for), and we wrote several songs in this new hardcore style like My Life Is Like An Alligator, Falling Downstairs, Thank God I'm Not A Red (based on my experiences as a college student at Boston University as a student radical influenced by Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies) and Slit Wrists/Cut Heart (about the Queens Boro President Donald Manes who violently attempted, then committed suicide because he got caught being a corrupt politician), which is a bonus track on the Roaratorio EP. We also revived several older songs like, Reagan is a Nazi, Rock is Dead, Shithead, Streets of New York and others with these new arrangements and Daniel kept right us with us!

Robert "Bob" Musso:  I remember the downtown music scene when I moved into NYC in 1980. There was Rock, Punk, Jazz, Free Jazz, Loft Jazz, Blues, Country, Folk, Noise, experimentation, and all sorts of art and improvisation being mixed together in every way imaginable. I’d go to a club and see the Ramones, and then Don Cherry would play afterward while someone was painting on the same stage! That time really opened my mind as to the notion that anything was possible.

It influenced me to call some of my old Rutgers friends from New Jersey a few years later and start my band, “Machine Gun”, (Based on the FMP record by Peter Brotzmann). Our first gig was at the Pyramid club when we were first called, “Sounds of the Apocalypse”. Half way through the set male dancers started undressing and dancing on the bar. I met Steve and Ben and started playing with them around the same time, and was really impressed as to how tight they were playing together. Steve would play drums and percussion and Ben would play Bass and Keyboards. We’d get together whenever possible .

A few years later Steve and Bruce would help me start my record company, MuWorks Records. I’m still in touch with all of them and try to play with them whenever possible.

What happened next? How did it end?

Bruce: Dissipated Face broke up in the late eighties with all three members moving on to other creative endeavers. Although all of us have been involved in a variety other activities, we have remained friends and still jam on occasion, especially the annual Yule Log Christmas jam that we all look forward to participating in.

Stephen: After Kurt left Dissipated Face, Ben and I played in projects with Daniel Carter, Robert Quine, Bern Nix, Robert Musso, Bill Milkowski, Ted Goldberg and even Juma Sultan who was in Jimi Hendrix's Woodstock Band. We went under the name Dissipated Improv Orchestra for most of these gigs, playing CBGB, the original Knitting Factory on Houston Street and The Village Gate.

Kurt joined Nothing but Happiness and The Crash in the East Village and then recorded his first Ultra Vivid Scene single, a solo 7 inch independent release that he took to England, where it was heard by Ivo Watts-Russell who signed him to an album deal with 4AD which was distributed by Columbia Records in the USA. He then returned and recorded the first Ultra Vivid Scene solo at Ben Munves Studio in NYC without our Involvement.

Roaratorio Records did a nice job releasing your live recording. How did you get in contact?

Stephen: James Lindbloom of Roaratorio Records was trying to put together a Daniel Carter "The Punk Years" compilation. Daniel had played with many bands in the nascent hardcore scene in the 80s including Bruce Loose of Flipper along with Suzanne Miller, and members of the Cro-Mags and countless others. 

Daniel:  I never actually played with the Cro-Mags, but I did play with their drummer, Mackie Jayson (also in Bad Brains), in some jam sessions, and also, in a show, with a group, he played in, called Frontline. The band's line-up was comprised of Mackie on drums, Noah Evans on bass, and Miles Kelly on guitar.

Stephen: James was trying to acquire tapes of these recordings to put together some sort of jazz hardcore punk compilation . I heard about this on a Sun Ra mailing list around 2003 and contacted him there. The problem was I had to find the tapes in my archives. Fast forward to 2010 or 2011 and I finally found 2 tapes we made with Daniel Carter. One was the Dissipated Face  and Daniel Carter live at CBGB 1986 soundboard tape where Daniel had played the whole concert with us, after jamming regularly together for a couple of months. It was for a WNYU-FM (New York University) CBGBs show with Ritual Tension and the Honeymoon Killers organized by DJ Bernard Tubina aka Bernie Bash, Fun radio show,  We had done an on air interview at WNYU-FM before the concert. The entire bill also played on WKCR - FM (Columbia University) the week before on Ted Goldberg's (who was a college radio DJ who also ran Inroads) radio show Transfigured Night.

James Lindbloom: The record grew out of a larger project that I attempted to undertake 10 years earlier.  Daniel Carter (with whom I’d worked on the Music Ensemble album) had mentioned, in a couple interviews, his time spent playing with various punk and hardcore bands in NYC during the 1980s.  He gave me a list of all the musicians and bands he could recall gigging with (including members of Flipper, Frightwig, The Cro-Mags, etc), and I started tracking down everyone I could.  Stephen Popkin was one of the first to respond, with a tape of his band Dissipated Face at CBGB in 1986.  My original plan was to make it a compilation record of Daniel’s work with several different groups, but it turned out that, more often than not, no one was rolling tape back then.  After a few more years of chasing down all the leads I had, I decided to release the Dissipated Face material on its own as an EP.

Stephen: Once I found the tape all those years later I contacted James and he told me that it was the only tape of Daniel's punk years that he was able to obtain and he wanted to release the fastest and most hardcore sounding songs from the tape on an EP. His label specializes in avant garde and free jazz on vinyl only releases, which impressed us. Also all his releases feature special packaging or unique pressings so the ideas of an 33 1/3 - 5 song EP fit in with his labels unusual type pressings . He was able to get Raymond Pettibon who's known for his comic like drawings with ironic or ambiguous text, to do artwork for this release which is really special and means a lot to me and Kurt because, Pettibon is a contemporary artist who started out doing the "bars logo" for Black Flag, and and SST Records LP cover art and flyers, and later did Sonic Youth's "Goo" as well as covers for The Minutemen, Foo Fighters and many others, and he's been featured in many museums and galleries since then. He recently had a display of baseball themed billboards on the High Line elevated park in New York City.

James: I selected one from a small-press monograph of his, asked him for permission to use it, and he consented.  

Dissipated Face original members reunion
Photo by Teresa Register

Are you still active as a musician?

Stephen: I'm a DJ professionally and still a drummer with the reformed Dissipated Face with Daniel Carter. I also like to organize and play at jam sessions whenever possible. I love playing the drums and I feel each and every time I hit a drum it makes me a better player and a better person. I'm also an advocate for the hard of hearing, advising people about the proper hearing aids and assisted listening devices (ALD) to suit their individual condition, after I went deaf in one hear due to labyrinthitis in 2005. I’m planning putting together a new trio for a recording, and still am collaborating with Kurt and Daniel.

Photography by Donna Rae Katz

Kurt: Daniel is still magic. In 2013, we reconnected: now we are great friends and musical collaborators. I'm back playing the trumpet again, mostly because I'm excited about the music Daniel and I are making.

Photos by Cristina Arrigoni

Is there anything else recorded, that you might release in the near future?

Stephen: We are recording a new album, after our next gig, with Kurt Ralske producing it, with the reformed Dissipated Face lineup of, Kurt Ralske on Trumpet , Daniel Carter on Reeds and Horns and myself Stephen Popkin on Drums, with Robert Musso (Machine Gun) on Guitars and Will Dahl (Harley's War/Hardcore-Allstars/Blind Idiot God) on Bass. I would also like to release the complete Daniel Carter live at CBGB 1986 concert, as well as do a proper compilation of the 6 or so soundboards I have, that we recorded at CBGB, compiling the best of our live repertoire from 1981-1986 live, in the next couple of years

Photo by Teresa Register

Bruce: When the Roaratorio label decided to release a rare 7" EP with Dissipated Face & Daniel Carter live at CBGB's, Mr. Popkin decided it was time to reunite and play a few sets to celebrate this release. Two of those sets have taken place at Downtown Music Gallery, one of the few great record
store left in Manhattan and which was founded by Mr. Popkin and myself 23 years ago in May of 1991.

Photo by Cristina Arrigoni

Would you like to share anything else with Psychedelic Baby readers?

Daniel: Dissipated Face, (I dig their serious dedication), now reignites and re-inspires me to keep on keepin' on toward that synthesis. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Bruce: The new version of Dissipated Face with original members,Popkin & Ralske, and Daniel Carter, plus Bob Musso & Will Dahl third date will take place at Downtown Music Gallery on February 23rd of 2014. Dissipated Face were amazing in their day and were fearless in exploring the better parts of free music. Long live Dissipated Face and Daniel Carter.  After all of these years, they still sound great!

Robert "Bob" Musso: It’s great to see this Dissipated Face album getting released. It’s a great document from a great time from great people!”

Stephen: We want to play some concerts or festivals with, John Zorn and Bill Laswell's Bladerunner with Fred Frith, Masada, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Machine Gun, some of Joe Russo and Dave Dreiwitz projects, and other like minded bands. Contact us via
Photo by Teresa Register

THIS JUST IN....The 2015 Dissident Arts Festival will occur over the weekend of AUG 15-16: Two Nites/Two Sites! Join us on Sat Aug 15 at the new location of El Taller Latino Americano AND at Brooklyn's hip new music club Shapeshifter Lab on Sun Aug 16.

Dissipated Face will be the headliner on Sunday 8/16  (last year's headliner was Will Connell/Vincent Chancey's quartet and the year prior it was Roy Campbell, among the past performers and speakers were celebrated actor/raconteur Malachy McCourt, folk legend Pete Seeger, and tributes to Woody Guthrie, Paul Robeson, and Phil Ochs

ShapeShifter Lab (18 Whiteell Place Between 1st and Carroll Str, off 4th Ave in Park Slope)

Rock Is Dead Shithead
 from the EP,

directed by Kurt Ralske

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2014
© Copyright

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bass Drum Of Death - Rip This (2014) review

Bass Drum Of Death "Rip This" (Innovative Leisure Records, 2014) 

Over the past few years Bass Drum Of Death has transformed from a lo-fi home recording project into what some people consider a rock juggernaut of sorts.  Finally having formed a solid writing relationship with drummer Len Clark, the changes to the music are somewhat subtle to be honest, but instantly obvious to anyone who’s been listening to the band for a long time.  The hooks are somewhat more laid out and accessible, ala the aptly titled opening track “Electric”.  Sounding like an outtake from some early Ty Segal record, it will have you bopping your head and bouncing around from the second the album starts, but that’s probably “why this town’s electric” after all!  Screeching distortion and feedback lead into the gritty snarling rhythms of “Left for Dead”, a song wrapped in it’s own neurosis and feeding on the edge-of-your-seat paranoia that it so successfully channels.  The massive break in the middle, damaged melodies tumbling over instrumental sections is what really sets it apart for me giving way to the minimalist sounds of “For Blood”, which sounds like it could have been from either of the last two albums.  After a few seconds of understated guitar it literally explodes into a wall of fuzz, reinforced by the emphatic understated vocals of Barret crooning and bellowing behind a sea of noise that breaks like waves in the ocean, sound, fuzz, distortion and madness crashing over the top of you, pinning you underneath the crushing force of the waves before raising you to the surface letting you catch your breath just long enough that you’ll survive another submersion!  “Everything’s The Same” shows a real growth in Bass Drum Of Death’s composition, arrangement and performance.  While Barret was responsible for making all of the sounds on previous records, it seems like having a collaborator that he trusts and can rely upon to help him create and refine his ideas has really allowed his guitar work to step up to the next level.  Blistering punkish melodies bleed into the twisted garage rock mentality that seems to fuel the band, while also allowing for a new level of psychedelic tinged tendencies to leak their way into the mix!  “Sin Is In 10” clocks in at over four minutes, thirty seconds longer than anything else that precedes it on the album and following a series of two and a half minute songs, and there’s a reason for the difference.  Rip This is filled with manic guitar freak-outs, gnarly distortion and fuzz, but “Sin is in 10” takes things to a whole new level.  It’s so hard and heavy that if it weren’t for Barret’s vocals over the top it might almost sound out of place.  The bridge in the middle of the song is literally just wave after wave of gnarled guitar building up on themselves, creating an impenetrable veil of fuzz and insanity, before spasmodically feeding back into “Black Don’t Glow” which displays more of the refined work that the band has become capable of recently.  The vocal melodies on “Black Don’t Glow” are as catchy and perfectly executed as anything in Bass Drum Of Death’s back catalog.  The solos are tight and precise, the rhythm section massive and entrancing, and the vocals, oh boy!  The vocals, they lay their hooks into you and simply refuse to let go until the track’s done.  It’s not often I find myself wishing that a three minute long song was a thirty minute one, but I get the feeling that “Black Don’t Glow” is gonna be a show stealer live!  “Burn’s My Eye” showcases more of the frantic garage energy that fueled Barret on his earlier solo adventures into mid-fi madness, melding all the sensibilities of audible pop lyrical sensibilities that he’s capable of while also having the rocky galloping momentum that propels Bass Drum Of Death’s music above the rest.  “Lose My Mind” was chosen as a single for a reason.  If there’s any other song that could have been on the bands’ first full-length GB City, or even their High School Roaches 7-inch, it’s this song.  The face-melting guitars never let up for a second, Barret howls in the background about “losing [his] mind” and while it runs almost four minutes long, there’s not a single moment where the listener gets bored, or even distracted, from the blaring seizure of power that is “Lose My Mind”.  The song almost operates like a mantra for the band, perfectly summing up the prevailing attitude that drips from every sweaty pore of Bass Drum of Death with the lyrics, “I just wanna be alone”, “I don’t need to be your friend”, “I’m here to stay, I’m here go away, I’m hear to stay, I’m here I loose my mind”!  The only song that kind of took me off guard on the album was perhaps “Better Days”.  I don’t know what it is about rockers exploring the limits of the acoustic guitar these days, harkening back to the days of Donovan and the burgeoning moments of Bob Dylan going electric with The Band for the first time, but it’s back in a big way.  It’s a great rock song; tight hook, ridiculously catch melody and great lyrics, a love song that never strays into any sappy clichés or anything.  But it does almost feel a little out of place on the album, especially as it’s the second to last track, followed only by “Route 69 (Yeah)”.  Which while it does retain some of the more slow-paced melody based feelings of “Better Days” “Route 69 (Yeah)” is revved up a bit again and the vocal distortion adds an edgy, nasty bite to the vocals.  The solos in “Route 69 (Yeah)” are what really set this song apart from the rest of the album and make it feel like a fitting end to the reality warping trip that is Rip This.  I’ve been listening to Bass Drum Of Death since their second release, and while things may be a bit more refined on this release, and there may be a second person involved in the writing process for the first time, anyone who’s enjoyed the early singles or albums is going to be able to get down on this one for sure.  There’s even a limited edition triple-gatefold of the LP which includes a hand numbered 7-inch and you know that’s going to sell out quick, so don’t sleep on this and thank me once you’ve spun your first copy to death and have to pick up a second one and remember to Rip This!

Review made by Roman Rathert/2014          
© Copyright

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bo Street Runners “Never Say Goodbye: The Complete Recordings 1964-1966” (2014) review

Bo Street Runners “Never Say Goodbye:  The Complete Recordings 1964-1966” (RPM, 2014)

A band given far too little attention during their brief lifespan (1963-1966), 2014 has seen efforts to set the record straight and make British R&B/pop band, Bo Street Runners, known as more than the band with whom drummer Mick Fleetwood first recorded.  At least two major efforts have been made in the name of the band, with almost simultaneous releases of the new two volume “Tapestry Of Delights” by British music historian Vernon Joynson, which contains comments by Bo Street Runners member Gary Thomas, intended to remedy the lack of biographical information available regarding the band.  Now, thanks to John Reed and RPM Records, UK, the band’s complete recordings are available legitimately, and conveniently in this one package, consisting of a four song EP, four singles, two radio recordings, both sides featuring latter day frontman/vocalist, Mike Patto, released as a solo single, credited to Patto with Bo Street Runners as his backing band, and the recording of song “Bo Street Runner” prepared especially for the Ready, Steady, Win! competition held by Ready, Steady, Go! on UK television.  Seventeen tracks in all, with a total run time of about forty three minutes.

The story of Bo Street Runners recorded legacy begins with the four tracks comprising their Oak Records’ EP.  Three of the tracks are covers, well chosen and consistent traditional R&B, Ray Charles, and blues, Willie Dixon and Jimmy Reed, covers as well as a band original by vocalist and harmonica player, John Dominic.  The latter’s contribution is the band’s namesake tune, “Bo Street Runner” which reinforces the reality that the Bo in the band’s name was indeed an homage to Chess Records’ artist, Bo Diddley,  and the Street Runners part of their name inspired by his classic tune “Road Runner.”  Only 99 copies of the EP were pressed, resulting in its’ collectability.

The band’s four singles follow.  Among the highlights are the band’s namesake tune in its 45 rpm mono version featuring new keyboard player, Roy “Fingers” Fry, on Vox Continental organ and gorgeous Zombies’ style vocal harmonies.  The collection’s title track, “Baby Never Say Goodbye” c/w “Get Out Of My Way” further drives home the band’s mixture of jazz and pop sensibilities.  These are also the first recordings of drummer Mick Fleetwood.  The band had 13 members, including 5 drummers, resulting in a sound, varying from the Bo Diddley style rockers to jazzy, keyboard and horn driven numbers like “Tell Me What You’re Gonna Do” the latter produced by hit maker (Donovan, The Animals) Mickie Most (employing studio musicians some claim) and even including an interesting cover of the Lennon/McCartney classic “Drive My Car.”  Invariably the band’s blues/R&B roots show through, especially during the John Dominic era recordings which end here.  Gary Thomas’ guitar is featured as well. 

The collection finishes with the two Patto single sides, two very interesting takes done for radio by Bo Street Runners, and the version of “Bo Street Runner,” for the Ready, Steady, Win! television competition.  Which, the band won by the way.  While the band did not have a signature sound it always sounded interesting.  The amount of talent on display here is considerable and the band’s versatility makes for quite pleasant listening.  What you have here then, is the complete recorded legacy of The Bo Street Runners.  The sound quality is excellent thanks to a fine remastering job by Simon Murphy and the package is topped off by a 16-page full color booklet, featuring extensive sleeve notes by set compiler John Reed.  Fans of melodic pop rock would love to find this one under the Christmas Tree!

Review made by Kevin Rathert/2014           
© Copyright

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Pink Tiles interview

With all of the Aussie music I hear people talking about here in the US, it’s predominantly seriously skuzzy, hardcore, lo-fi, brain damaging sludge punk, and don’t get wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that stuff.  Hell, I love me some lo-fidelity mental assault as much as the next guy, but there’s more going on over there than all of that.  I feel like a lot of the time bands like The Pink Tiles get the raw end of the deal, especially here overseas.  They’ve got this perfectly polished, pop punk attack that could only really grow and be perfected where they’re from in the heart of Melbourne.  Incorporating some really interesting, almost country or rockabilly licks, but keeping every song on their debut album clocked in at less than three minutes, The Pink Tiles are taking things back to basics, except this time, they’re doing things their way.  There are some seriously tasty lead lines here, slinking under the surface of drums and keys that shiver and shake the rhythm of the song into the listener’s bones along with bass that lodges it firmly in their brain shortly thereafter.  Victoria de Fruita’s sweet, innocent sounding vocals are perfectly teamed with the minimalist sound of The Pink Tiles, harkening back to a time I can recall in the 80s when things didn’t need to be so angry or in your face about everything that they did.  The interesting thing is the vocals turn on a dime and get seriously sultry and demure at times, extremely dark and alluring.  The backup parts on The Pink Tiles debut album sounds like the best of Mo-Town at times, but with a sweet bite, an added edge that sets them apart and above the rest.  Think La Luz, except with no surf, and done totally differently…  No scratch that.  Just think Pink Tiles and click the link below for an exact definition on that.

What’s the current lineup in The Pink Tiles at this point?  Have you all gone through any lineup changes since you started or is this the original lineup?

It’s changed three times since we started.  The lineup as of October 2014 is:

Paul Maybury  - lead guitar
Leigh Barker – Casio
Sammy Strawbags – percussion, backing vocals
Jay Williams – drums
Victoria de Fruita – guitar and lead vocals
Mara Williams – bass and  lead vocals

Mara and Paul:  As for lineup changes, the original line up saw Paul Maybury as Casio Master and Arnaud Thiebault on lead guitar.  Unfortunately, Arnaud was only in Australia for one year as an exchange student, so Paul stepped into the role of lead guitarist.  This left a Casio vacancy, which was promptly filled by Cozi de Fruita, sister of Victoria.  Cozi had to leave the band for personal reasons, so Leigh, who had never played Casio, took over the Casio role.  Sam joined The Pink Tiles as a guest for a one off gig so she could attend a party, and it was so much fun, she stayed on.

Are any of you in any other active bands or do you have any side projects going at this point?  Have you released any music with anyone in the past?  If so, can you tell us a bit about that?

Mara:  Not me.  The Pink Tiles is the first band I’ve ever been in.

Paul:  I’ve been playing in bands in Melbourne and Sydney Australia for twenty five years.  These include: HOGG, Megalong Valley, Rocket Science, The In The Out, The Bowerbirds, The Swingin’ Nutsacks, Chigwell Sharp, and others I have forgotten.  No side projects at the moment.

How old are you and where are you originally from?

Paul and Mara:  The Pink Tiles are roughly two years old.  It’s a Melbourne bedroom band.  We started out learning to play in the bedroom of Victoria de Fruita, and still rehearse in a bedroom to this day.

Victoria:  Originally from the island of Negros in the Philippines.

What was the local music scene like where you grew up?  Did you see a lot of shows or get very involved in that scene?  Do you feel like it played a large role in forming your musical tastes or shaping the way you perform at this point?

Paul:  There were a lot of great shows and bands in Sydney in the late 80s and early 90s, and they were very influential on me.  Notable bands: The Space Juniors, Lubricated Goat, Massappeal, Hard-Ons, Munroes Fur, Splatterheads, and loads more!  Sadly, venues started closing in Sydney and there was nowhere to play.  After visiting Melbourne, I realized that the music scene there was very strong, so I jumped into a van heading south and never looked back.  Every band I have seen, good or bad, has been an influence on what I do now.

Mara:  Yeah, I grew up in Melbourne and as a teenager would go to the under ages shows.  The first gig that I attended was with my brother Jay at a suburban youth hall called EV’s.  Pavement headlined and Magic Dirt was the main support.  Our aunty dropped us off and picked us up, and we had a blast getting crushed in the mosh pit by sweaty teen dudes.  After that experience I attended gigs whenever I could, even bands I didn’t like!  Guess I liked hanging out even though I didn’t really know anyone else.  Although I strongly supported the music scene as a punter, it never occurred to me that I could actually play in a band!  So I didn’t, until I met Victoria decades later.

Victoria:  Zilch.  The Philippines are the land of karaoke and music is distilled to the cheesiest most unpalatable kind.  Air Supply and Barry Manilow are still cashing Filipino airplay checks, for sure.  Although, classics are getting played like popular Elvis songs, Madonna, the Beatles, or Ricky Jervais's band Seona Dancing's one hit track "More To Loose".  I never really got into music that much until the summer of '94 when a few kids pirated a radio station in my hometown Bacolod, and played songs from The Jesus And Marychain, The Pixies, etcetera.  It was like an awakening for me.

Leigh:  The local music scene in Canberra was a lot of fun, but seemed fairly cut off from the rest of the world.  It was always exciting when a national or international act passed through, especially if a band you were in landed a support with a big act.  When I got my driver’s license, I found myself travelling further, to places like Sydney or Melbourne, to see or play gigs.  Eventually, I decided that Melbourne was the place for me to immerse myself in music.

What about your home when you were a child?  Were either of your parents or any of your close relatives musicians or maybe just extremely interested or involved in music?

Paul:  My mum was a huge influence and always playing Country Blues and Chicago blues.  My parents had many a fondue party listening to Joe Cocker and Neil Diamond, which I guess had some kind of effect. My older sisters were huge music fans and introduced me to rockabilly and garage rock at a young age.

Mara:  My mum loves music; Abba, Evie, Billy Joel, Streisand, Andrew Lloyd Webber, so on and so forth.  So, naturally I rebelled as a teenager.  I do however have many secret shames.  I love musicals, good lyric writing, and shed a tear when I saw Stephen Merritt recently, because he writes the perfect music for the perfect lyrics so artfully.

Victoria:  My parents were both guerilla fighters when I was a kid and we were taught to sing revolutionary and folk songs over campfires when we came for visits.  My infrequent visits to my father's Baptist family were among my first memories of live music, hearing gospel choirs that play upbeat and fun songs, unlike the boring catholic masses and their depressing songs.

Leigh:  My dad has always been really into music, it was his horribly cheap guitar that he paid five dollars for in the early 70s, which I was determined to learn that got me into the passion of performing.  I also spent hours on end listening to his records and cassettes through headphones each night.

What do you consider your first real exposure to music to be?

Paul:  Seeing Brownie McGhee at The Basement in Sydney when I was fourteen.  My mum bought me a ticket on my birthday and I went by myself.  Thanks mum.

Mara:  We didn’t have MTV in Australia at that time, as far as I am aware, at least our household didn’t.  We had a TV show called Countdown, and I used to love watching Madonna sing “Holiday” with her teased hair, excessive make up, and splatter paint attire.

Victoria:  The AM radio receiver.  I predominantly grew up in rural countrysides at my grandfather's farm on the shoulder of the volcano, or visiting my parents in the jungle with no electricity.  The AM radio, powered by D batteries was my friend.  It wasn’t until twenty years later when I saw Spencer P. Jones and The Escape Committee play live in Sydney for the first time at a venue called Hopetaun Hotel, that I was exposed to proper live music.  I’ve been hooked ever since.

Leigh:  Some local band at an all ages gig when I was about thirteen or so.  I guess it was the first time I experienced the raw power of live gigs and the rush it can give you.

When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?  What brought that decision about?

Mara:  Writing music is something that I did not actively pursue.  It just happened one day following an event I felt very guilty about.  I encouraged my friend to ask a guy out, with positive affirmations like YOLO, “What’s the worst that could happen?” so on and so forth, and she was shut down very dramatically.  The rejection hurt so bad even bystanders were affected.  I felt so bad, and the guilt came out in a song.  Then more songs followed based on real life events.  Ever since then, whenever I’ve felt strongly about something, another song arrives.

If you were to pick a moment, a single moment that seemed to change everything or opened your mind to the infinite possibilities that music presents?

Paul:  As stated above, Brownie MacGee.

Jay:  Listening to "Albatross" & "Waterloo Sunset" on a compilation on a drive up to Queensland as a kid with my mum and sister, and feeling an overwhelming sensation as I fell asleep in the car; I wasn't driving.

What was your first instrument?  When and how did you get that?

Mara:  I had a Yamaha keyboard when I was about eight.  I loved it because setting number ninety nine had the sound of the waves.  Also, it had another setting where you could set a beat, and play a note and it automatically played a song.  Suffice to say, I hated lessons and thus never advanced.  In fact five year olds progressed faster than I; true story.  I had a guitar when I was about fifteen but it was more for the look than the actual playing, thus I never played it.  Following these two experiences, I decided that I was not a player, but an admirer of those who could.

Jay:  Pa (grandfather) gave me my first classical guitar when I was seven and bought me my first steel string acoustic when I was eleven.  I bought my first decent guitar when I was fifteen, a Maton Em325.  I didn't own my own drum kit till I was nineteen.  They were too big for the house and way too expensive.

Leigh:  I had a little keyboard with a fun little synthesizer built into it when I was five.  I think I drove everyone crazy with the drum machine parts and weird synthesizer sounds I’d come up with.
Paul:  There were always guitars and other instruments hanging around the house for my mum’s hippy mates to play “Bobby Macgee” on.  I had a couple of lessons in playing “Ba Ba Black Sheep” and “Au Claire De Lune” on the acoustic guitar when I was seven.  The teacher had a beautiful Gibson electric guitar sitting in the corner that we weren’t allowed to touch. This disappointed me so much that I gave it up until I was about sixteen when I got a job and bought first, a great pair of shoes, and then, an old Italian semi-acoustic electric guitar, ‘cause it looked cool.  Then, I realized I would look cooler with my new shoes and guitar if I could play the damn thing, so I got two lessons from a local guitar teacher.  He wanted to teach me scales.  I wanted to learn the lead parts for “Johnny B. Goode”.  Once I had convinced him to show me about half of that, I said, “Thanks, see you later”!  My real musical education came from just getting in a room with friends and making an uninformed racket.

How did the members of The Pink Tiles originally meet and when would that have been?

Mara:  Victoria and I met at the legendary band venue in Melbourne called The Tote, in December 2011.  One woman band Becky Lee Drunkfoot was playing.  I noticed Victoria because she was alone, and I almost was, and she looked like a Filipina which is also what I am.  It’s rare to spot a Filipina at The Tote, as the crowd is mostly a white middle class one, so we got chatting.  It turned out she liked Kim Deal and wanted to play the Ukulele.  Coincidentally, I had a pineapple shaped Ukulele and loved Kim Deal from way back.  We became friends, and played Spencer P. Jones and Elvis on the Uke.

Paul:  I met Mara at work and was immediately bewitched and bedazzled.

When and what led to the formation of the band?

Mara:  I awoke one day following a bad dream.  In the dream my boyfriend Paul Maybury was having an affair with someone, and in that dream, I didn’t feel bad about it because I was on some outdoor stage playing a seafoam coloured bass to the masses.  When I awoke, I was angry with my boyfriend for this alleged affair.  Days later he bought me a bass.  Still annoyed about the dream affair, there was really only one thing to do.  Start playing the bass.  Victoria had a guitar, so we started learning our instruments together by playing covers of our favourite songs by Alex Chilton, Detroit Cobras, Wipers and more.  This was the first version of the band.  As original songs were written, friends and family joined in.  I wrote a song called “We Need a Drummer”, and played it to my brother Jay, who cracked and said, “Fine, I’ll do it for one or two months”.  As it happens, he’s still with us.  Arnaud, our first lead guitar player, joined in because he was an international student and new to town, and didn’t have anything better to do.  We didn’t even know he could do it.  The only other time we heard him play was with an acoustic guitar around a campfire at a Game of Thrones party.  But Arnaud turned out to be awesome on guitar and a garage rock fan.  Paul joined in on Casio because he was too good on guitar, and he’d make the rest of us look shit and feel bad about being crappy.  He also played percussion, egg shakers and tambourine and handclaps, and won fans who loved the way the beans fell in the egg shaker when Paul played them; one of those musical geniuses who can do anything.

Who came up with the name The Pink Tiles?  What does it mean or refer to in the context of your band name?  How did you go about choosing it?  Were there any close seconds that you almost went with you can recall at this point?

Mara:  Paul came up with the name The Pink Tiles.  It’s based on the 60’s flat he used to rent.  The flat had a renovation sometime maybe in the 1980s, and instead of getting rid of the old tiles, they covered them with white tiles.  By 2012, the white tiles were falling off, revealing the original pink tiles.

Is there any sort of creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?

Mara:  Have fun and be yourself, I suppose.  Fuck the bullshit and all that.

Leigh:  Yeah fuck the bullshit.

Paul:  Fuck the bullshit and have something to eat, for fucks sake!

Where’s the band located at this point?  How would you describe the local music scene where you’re at now?

Mara:  Melbourne is the hometown of The Pink Tiles.  The music scene’s very healthy here.  There’re lots of venues and it seems like everyone I know is in at least one band, but usually more.  There’s punters and musicians alike supporting a little, yet thriving scene.

Do you feel very involved in the local music scene or anything?  Do you book or attend a lot of local shows?

Mara:  I do, because once upon a time, several years ago now, it was my life goal to see at least five gigs a week.  That has dropped off now that I’m in a band.  Although I can’t sustain the goal of going to that many gigs, I still try to attend at least a couple of gigs a week on top of doing my own band things.  This is really helpful when booking Pink Tiles gigs, because you already know the bands you like.

Paul:  We go to lots of shows, Mara and I work at a local community radio station and I run a recording studio.

Has the local music scene played an integral role in the sound, history, formation or evolution of The Pink Tiles?  Or, do you all feel like you would be doing what you are and sound like you do regardless of location and surroundings?

Paul:  Everything is an influence.  Food, drinks, bands, books, cats...

Are you involved in recording or releasing any music at all?  If so, can you tell us about that briefly here?

Mara:  We released our cassingle, which was incidentally recorded at Paul’s studio called A Secret Location.  We were about to release our LP, but it ended up getting picked up by a record company in the eleventh hour.

I love the sound that you all have going on and the more I listen to your stuff, the more I can hear popping out at me.  Who are some of your personal musical influences?  What about major musical influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?

Mara:  As a band?  Alex Chilton Like Flies on Sherbert for it’s shambolic-ness, yet awesomeness.

Paul:  I’m a huge fan of the production on Everly Brothers, Nick Lowe, Eddie Cochrane and Freakbeat records.

How would you describe The Pink Tiles sound to our readers who might not have ever heard you all before?

Mara:  I say throwaway pop.  Our friend Jeff says perfect pop with noisy guitars.  My cousin says The Breeders meet Gidget.  I think all are accurate.

What’s the songwriting process like for The Pink Tiles?  Is there someone who usually comes in with an idea or maybe a riff for the rest of the band to build off of and work with, or do you just get together and kick ideas back and forth until you distill something from the exchange that you’re interested in working on and refining?

Mara:  Usually I write a song, present it to Paul or Jay, and we work out how it goes.  Then, the rest of the band play along and work out a part, and then the fresh ideas come out of it.  The best ideas are usually accidents.

What about recording?  I’m a musician myself and while I think that most musicians can obviously appreciate the end product of all the time, work and effort that goes into making an album.  But getting to that point though, getting stuff recorded and sounding the way that you want it to, especially as a band, can be extremely taxing on the band to say the very least.  What’s recording like for The Pink Tiles?

Paul:  Grueling.

Do you all prefer to take a DIY approach to music where you handle most of the technical aspects of things on your own so that you don’t have to compromise on the sound with anyone else?  Or, do you prefer to head in to the studio and let someone else handle that side of things so you can just concentrate on the music and getting the best performances possible out of yourselves?

Paul:  Both are good.  But circumstances dictate which way to go.

Is there a lot of time that goes into getting a song to sound just so-so with every little section and change worked out before you record it, or do you get a good skeletal idea of what a song’s going to sound like while allowing for some change and evolution during the recording process when needed?

Paul:  We work hard to get a great arrangement before going into the studio.  Then, we change everything.

Do hallucinogenic or psychoactive drugs play a pivotal role in songwriting, recording or performance processes for The Pink Tiles?  A lot of people tap into the mind altering effects of those drugs and channel them into their art and I’m always curious about their usage and application regarding the art that I personally enjoy.

Mara:  I’d like to say yes, because I would sound more interesting, but the answer is no.  But I’m quite sure there’s a dose of mental illness on my part when writing.

Paul:  I like to smoke and drink.  All the time.  Haven’t taken any psychedelics for a while, I’m probably due for a refresher course.

Last year (2013) you all self-released the Cassingle cassette tape.  Can you share some of your memories of recording that first material?  When and where would that have been at?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?  Is, or was, Cassingle limited to any number of copies and is it still available at this point?

Mara:  Cassingle was a massive achievement of ours.  When we started the band we never thought we’d record, so it was audacious to even think we could have a cassingle.  When I was a kid I saved my pocket money to buy cassingles, so the concept of making a cassingle was extra special.  We made fifty copies and vowed to never produce the cassingle version of them ever again.  They sold out in about a month.

Paul:  We recorded that at my studio and at home.  I mixed it at home on an old laptop through the hi-fi.

Earlier this year in 2014 you followed up Cassingle with your self-titled debut full-length The Pink Tiles for Cobra Snake Necktie/Love & Theft Records, which sounds like the first pressing of which is flying off of the shelves and is almost sold out at this point!  Was the recording of the material for The Pink Tiles very different than Cassingle?  When and where was that?  Who recorded that material?  What kind of equipment was used this time around?

Mara:  The Pink Tiles LP was recorded in 2013 and 2014 over various sessions with various band members.  We actually recorded it for us, to say we did it once in our lifetimes, and then the label picked it up in the eleventh hour and took over production.

Paul:  The album was again recorded at my studio.  Some overdubs were done at home, but mostly it was all done at the studio, mixed on my D&R Octagon console with plenty of crusty analogue outboard gear.

Does The Pink Tiles have any music that we haven’t talked about, maybe a song on compilation or a demo that I might not know about?

Mara:  We did a live-to-air performance at WFMU October 2nd for the program Surface Noise presented by Joe McGasko.  That has some of our newer material and out-takes!  It’s available on the Free Music Archive.  Also, we were featured on the Shit Fest tape from January 25th, 2014, the compilation tape made by Bits of Shit.

With the release of The Pink Tiles earlier this year, are there any other releases in the works or on the horizon for you all at this point?

Mara:  We hope to get back into the recording studio before the end of the year.

© Joe Belock

With the completely insane international shipping rates going on at this point I try and provide our readers with as many possible options for picking up imports as I possibly can.  Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up your stuff?

Mara:  Unfortunately, we don’t have a US distribution deal.  The record actually cost The Pink Tiles $21.00 to produce including recording, mastering, record production, but obviously we can’t sell it with a mark up at that rate, locally or internationally.  The cheapest possible way to get our material is downloading it via Bandcamp.  If there’s anyone out there that wants to put it out stateside let us know at

What about our international and overseas readers?

Mara:  Same as above!

And where’s the best place for our interested readers to keep up with the latest news, like upcoming shows and album releases from The Pink Tiles at?

Mara:  Our website lovingly put together by members of The Pink Tiles or Facebook

Are there any major plans or goals that you’re looking to accomplish in the rest of 2014 or 2015?

Mara:  Play more shows, go to new places, win hearts and minds.  That is all.

Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road touring?  Do you enjoy being out on tour?  What’s life like on the road for The Pink Tiles?

Mara:  The Pink Tiles have never been on tour.  We’ve only been on a band holiday, and that was lots of fun.

Do you remember what the first song that The Pink Tiles ever played live was?  Where and when would that have been at?

Mara:  The first gig The Pink Tiles played was with the scrappy, now defunct, garage three-piece Bad Aches, and Queensland’s Running Gun Sound.  The first support act dropped out, so The Pink Tiles were asked to play in a room called the Gaso upstairs, no bigger than a lounge room. It was noisy, scrappy, loud, outta control and even fun for some of the members.

Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with over the past few years?

Mara:  Well, we’ve mostly only played with local bands, and there’s some really great ones out there, Empat Lima, an all girl three piece doing exotic Asian pop covers, Sugar Fed Leopards a live disco act, SMB this trashy three-piece featuring Steve Miller from The Moodists, The Clits a Melbourne atypical punk three-piece, Ukeladies Orchestra, some real musicians with Clare Moore playing vibes, and the one man band genius BJ Morriszonkle.  Playing with Bits of Shit for their farewell show ‘Shit Fest’ was also an honour.  The only international acts we've played with are Nobunny, The Hussy and Smoota.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

Mara:  The Breeders, but since that’s a pipe dream, Valentina Tapia/Shantih Shantih from Atlanta would be a good fit for us.  Anything King Louie is associated with.  Whenever I have a hard note to sing I always ask myself, “What would King Louie do?”  I love him irrationally.

Paul:  Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby; or Motörhead.

Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?

Paul:  Nothing printable.

Do you all give a lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent, stuff like flyers, posters, shirt designs, covers and that kind of thing?  Is there any kind of meaning or message that you’re trying to convey with that kind of thing?

Paul:  Yes and yes.  The message would be “Fuck The Bullshit, Do It Yourself”.

Do you all have anyone that you usually turn to in your times of need when it comes to the visual side of things?  If so, who is that and how did you get hooked up with them originally?

Mara:  Our friend Greg Tippett helps us with some design things.  Otherwise, the answer is no.  However, at our launch a guy turned up, and took over doing the lights.  Little did we know, he was an amateur and was doing the lights to build on his experience, but he didn’t have any training.  After the strobe effects, the stage went dark and Victoria told him to turn the lights on because she couldn’t see the frets on the guitar.

With all of the various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the various mediums that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music?  What about when you’re listening to and purchasing music?

Mara:  We wanted to release on formats we would buy.  So, vinyl was the obvious choice, although it’s really expensive to do in Australia.  Downloading is the standard way to make it accessible if vinyl is too expensive to buy and ship.  CDs weren’t pursued because it would just be another thing we’d have to find a place to store. 

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so, can you tell us just a little about that?

Mara:  Everyone in the Pink Tiles has an interesting music collection.  I’m not a collector, I just like to listen to songs mostly and sing along to them.  So, I don’t have prize pieces, except for my Sebadoh record I got when I was about fifteen and had Lou Barlow sign it after chasing him down the street following an in-store, but that’s more sentimental for me.  I’ve got a northern soul section, indie rock, musicals and soundtracks, country, and several Folkways releases of pretty weird music.  I used to have a public radio show with my friends for four years, so when you do radio, you’re always listening, and always seeking.

I grew up around my dad’s killer collection of music and I was always encouraged to not only listen to his music, but to anything that interested me.  He would take me around to the local shops and pick me up random stuff that I wanted and I would rush home, stick on a pair of headphones, read the liner notes, stare at the cover art and just let the music carry me off on a trip!  Having something physical to hold in my hands, something concrete and real, always made for a much more complete listening experience, at least for me.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Paul:  Yes, absolutely.  I like to stare at record covers.

Like it or not, digital music is here in a big way.  The crazy thing to me though, is that’s jus the tip of the iceberg, really.  When you combine digital music with the internet then you really have something on your hands then!  Together they’ve exposed people to a literal world of music that they’re surrounded by, allowed them to reach out and even interact with those bands and in doing so, a lot of geographic boundaries that would have crippled bands in the past have been virtually eradicated.  On the other hand though, while people are being exposed to more music than ever they’re not necessarily interested in paying for it and with everyone being given a somewhat equal voice it’s harder and harder to get noticed in the chocked digital jungle out there right now.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Paul:  I don’t like giving away something that has cost time and creative energy to produce.  Also, MP3s and mastered for iTunes codecs sound like garbage, we should be digitally delivering at 24bit 44.1khz by now.

I try to keep up with as much good music as I can but with so much cool stuff out there it’s hard to even know where to start sometimes.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to I might not have heard of before?

Mara:  I’m a big fan of Girl Crazy and Loose Tooth, who are probably two local bands that probably don't even have recordings.  Heirophants who are big fans of Country Teasers, featuring members from Ausmuteants and Frowning Clouds, are one to watch, they’re releasing a record next February.  Over the past coupla years I've enjoyed records by The Stevens and Peak Twins.

Paul:  Anything Steph Brett does…  Deafwish.

What about nationally and internationally?

Paul:  Woah, that’s a big one.  Hmmm….

(2013)  The Pink Tiles – Cassingle – Cassette Tape – Self-Released
(2014)  The Pink Tiles – The Pink Tiles – 12” – Cobra Snake Necktie/Love & Theft Records (Lipstick Pink Wax Vinyl 12” limited to 250 copies, Lipstick And Leather Pink and Black Wax Vinyl 12” limited to 100 copies)

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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