Lucy Pearl – Interview

Lucy Pearl

Who or what is Lucy Pearl, you might ask. Well, here is a quick rundown, followed by an interview with Ali.

Lucy Pearl is Raphael Saadiq, the lead vocalist and songwriting core of Tony Toni Tone; Dawn Robinson, one of the four signature vocalists from En Vogue; Ali Shaheed Muhammad, the turntable master, producer, and mixer from A Tribe Called Quest.

Was the music for the Lucy Pearl album something you had worked on before or was it all new for the album?

We just went into the studio and recorded everything all at one time. There wasn’t anything that was already done.

How was it creating for such great singers as Raphael Saadiq and Dawn Robinson?

It was cool. (laughs)

Did your approach change from the days when you were doing A Tribe Called Quest tracks?

Yeah. Everything is live as opposed to sampling, so it was different, but I have been working with R&B singers like D’Angelo. It isn’t a world that is that brand new to me.

When did you start deejaying and sampling?

I started deejaying when I was about eight years old. I started sampling when I was like fifteen.

Who or what is Lucy Pearl, you might ask. Well, here is a quick rundown, followed by an interview with Ali.

Lucy Pearl is Raphael Saadiq, the lead vocalist and songwriting core of Tony Toni Tone; Dawn Robinson, one of the four signature vocalists from En Vogue; Ali Shaheed Muhammad, the turntable master, producer, and mixer from A Tribe Called Quest.

Was the music for the Lucy Pearl album something you had worked on before or was it all new for the album?

We just went into the studio and recorded everything all at one time. There wasn’t anything that was already done.

How was it creating for such great singers as Raphael Saadiq and Dawn Robinson?

It was cool. (laughs)

Did your approach change from the days when you were doing A Tribe Called Quest tracks?

Yeah. Everything is live as opposed to sampling, so it was different, but I have been working with R&B singers like D’Angelo. It isn’t a world that is that brand new to me.

When did you start deejaying and sampling?

I started deejaying when I was about eight years old. I started sampling when I was like fifteen.

I know from being an A Tribe Called Quest fan that you sample a lot of diverse artists. Were you raised listening to lots of different music styles?

Some stuff I grew up with and some of the other stuff I got from Q-Tip. His father played him a lot of jazz and stuff, so my style was really a combination of both of our flavors.

How did the group come together?

Raphael and I were trying to do something for like three years now. I was actually doing some outside production. We done some work together, a remix of a Tony Toni Tone track and he had played on a Tribe record, and it was just something that we figured, instead of doing stuff with other people, we figured we should just do something together. Three years ago, when we wanted to do it, it never worked out. We reintroduced the issue and said we needed a third person, and he kept running into Dawn at this restaurant in Los Angeles and he approached her about it, and that is how it came to be.

Was the chemistry there right away?

It was right there.

You can hear it.

Yeah.

When your career kicked off with Tribe, were you just making music for fun and no expectations?

We were just eighteen and were having fun, but we knew what we were doing when we made the record. It didn’t really take off until the second record.

What were the expectations going in, recording this album?

I didn’t have any real expectations. I just wanted to get together with my homeboy and make music. That was it.

Did you get to experiment with different instruments?

Yeah. I was fooling around with the guitar.

I know it was live, but did you three do all the music or was there collaboration?

No, the only collaboration was on the song called “You”, with Snoop Dogg and Q-Tip. Everything was done with me and Raphael and two cats named Jake and the Fatman. It was something we thought about, but as we got together, we thought it was coming together nicely and we played off each other nicely, so we didn’t need an album full of other people.

Was it cool to have the freedom to experiment with a new style?

Yeah. And that is what music should be about.

And having fun, right?

Yeah. That is what this whole experience was.

What is the live show going to be like?

The same kind of free spirit that we had on the album. We don’t want it to be too choreographed, and just go out, have fun, and be free.

Will you have a band?

We have a band. We’ll have a total of ten people on stage.

How does it feel having all those people backing you?

It’s different. I’m used to playing all of the music and now I don’t have to. It’s really different, but good.

Will you be deejaying?

No, I’m going to be right at the front of the stage.

What are the plans from here on out?

I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t try to predict it. (laughs)

+ charlie craine

Jimmies Chicken Shack – Interview

Jimmies Chicken Shack

Larry, what’s up? How you doing?

Good, Jimi! What’s up with you? I hear you have a busy schedule today.

Hey, man, I’m sorry we got to you late. It’s just been a crazy ass day!

Where you at right now?

Right now I’m in Indiana, Pennsylvania.

I hear the traffic was a little crazy.

Yeah, the highway was closed off and shit.

The new record (Bring Your Own Stereo) is doing pretty well right now. You got to be happy.

Oh, hell yeah!

The band has said its goal is to confuse people; it definitely confused me. This is really diverse record. I never heard anything like this record because the record is sectioned off into swing, ska, pop rock, and heavier tunes. I wondering if you would comment on that and tell me some of the responses you heard about the record.

I mean, people seem to be getting it and liking it. I guess we always had that mix of doing a bunch of different things, especially if you come see us live. On the first record ( Pushing the Salmanilla Envelope) it’s more clumped together, kind of that, the high-energy hard tunes. With this record we were just going to go everywhere that, there has always been these songs that we not would necessarily play, now it’s like we don’t want to be part of niche. Let’s just take what songs are good, and no matter what kind of song it is, and just do it. I don’t know; the band’s taste is definitely scattered all over the place and I’m glad the record is like that. I love our first record but I like the new one better. I think it’s because the record is truer to who we really are. The energy on the first record but also there is this negative energy transcended from recording it to listening to it, and I can’t even listen to it that much. I love a few songs to death, but overall the new record is truer to us. Believe me, our stuff is not going to get any softer. I’m sure our next record could be just as bizarre, but there’s always going to be the hard rocking stuff, but at the same time I like a lot of pop music and reggae.

It really shows. What categories or labels have you heard the band be thrown into? I hate to say labels!

Some people have said, we like to call it ‘mutt rock.’ (laughs)

That’s a great description! (laughing)

Others have called it ‘love punk,’ which I thought was really funny. (giggles)

The diverse songs, such as “Lazy Boy Dash” has a great mesh of swing/ska and rock, “Fill In The Blank” goes in a different direction, and you have the hit single “Do Right”. Talk a little about those tunes.

“Do Right” is like five years old. It’s a pop song I wrote years ago that we really never would have played but the label heard it and said this has to go on the record. I was alright. “Fill In The Blank” we wrote collectively as a band over the fall last year when we were getting ready to work on the record. Out of the songs on the record that we wrote together, like “Spiraling”, “Face It”, “Fill In The Blank”, and “Lazy Boy Dash”, I love all those songs because they all have pieces of us in them. And the rest of the tunes are songs I wrote either awhile ago or, songs like “Silence Again” and “Pure” are some of our oldest songs. “Pure” is older than our band. “Silence Again” was again like five years old, like “Do Right”, but it was something that we’d never played. The other guys who used to be in the band didn’t really like that stuff. “Waiting” and “Trash” were written in that same week, just before the week we were ready to record. I just one day wrote “Trash” and was working on “Waiting” at the same time, two totally different songs but they happened in the same week. “String of Pearls” is a couple years old, and then the EP we put out, Slow Change, that’s some of our favorite stuff right there.

I think it’s great that you guys did that for the fans too!

We always liked having long records where there’s a lot of music going on, but sometimes that’s not a smart move. But this way you get two cd’s or something you have never heard. I think it’s really cool of the label to do that too.

I think some bands get carried away with EP’s, but, on the other hand, bands like Radiohead and The Verve have better EP’s than some bands have records, you know what I mean?

Oh yeah.

Backing up to an early comment about this record. The band saw two members leave, Chaney (drums) and McD (guitarist). Now go into the new record, talk about how the new members gelled and how the vibe was created for this record.

Basically, we became a much better band when Double D and Sipple came on. We did so much touring with them in the past; it wasn’t like they were really new members. When we went to do the record, these guys are just more open to more music, they’re really into a lot of the new record. Actually, Chaney loves our new record, man. He came out and visited us when we were recording and he really loves our new stuff. It was just the mood and the people, they were happier to be in the studio. We all want to be there. The first record was really tough and some people were not there every today and did not want to there, it was more of a trial than anything, but this time it was everybody was so psyched to be there.

Did the schedules and touring bother the band?

Well, Jim McDoughan never toured with us, he left before we’d toured for the first record. Double D had been with us. Anywhere outside of Maryland nobody knows Jim McDoughan was in our band, other than see his name in the records. Sipple toured at least a year and a half with us. For Chaney, the life itself was not suited for him and he was not happy doing it. He wanted to leave but we asked him to try the road out and he did, but and it just was not working out.

You guys said you were surprised with the outcome of the record thanks to your producer Jim Wirt (Incubus).

We give our producer a ton of credit for the way the record came out. He really, first of all we want someone who could take each song knowing that they were in very different worlds and go there genuinely. First of all, Jim being as schizophrenic as he is (laughs) stylistically, he was able to love “Face It” for as hard as it was and make it hard and still love it and still love “30 Days”. It was his idea to use the stings and the backup vocal stuff, which we would not have necessarily done. It took a little prodding on his part to convince us into it, and I’m glad he did because he took each song to a different level.

I saw the video for “Do Right”. It’s hilarious! Who came up with the idea for the video?

Right on! The director came up with a parody on our hometown, like if everyone in the band came home and everybody in the town acted like they knew us. We just went from there; all the scenarios and the dialogue the producer had was stuff that was not necessarily true but funny, and I was like, ‘Well, wait a minute, because some of those things are actually true.’ So we changed and turned some things around to become more factual things, and I think it made it a bit more genuine. Also, it made it funnier. (laughs)

The song “High” had success on Mtv. How did you handle the pot/drug reference?

It never was a really a pot reference. Actually, the song was written about the exact opposite. The song was written about when I lived back in Portland, Oregon, about my friends who were rapped up into heroin. To me that song is me going, ‘What does it take to get you high? Is that really high?’ You know? I know a lot of people equate that to be a party song, ‘Ooh, yeah, burn one, light up a joint,’ and that’ s cool if that’s what people are getting out of it. There is a line that goes ‘You don’t like me when I’m high.’ That was my girlfriend saying she does not like me when I smoke pot, but it was not a point of really trying to hide that reference though, because it was never really there.

It seemed to come across that way.

Yeah, you’re right, but hopefully it’s a little bit more broad than that. But when you say, ‘What does it take to get you high?’ people are going to be like, ‘Pot, high, let’s get high.’ Of course, the reference is there, and it’s about singing about what you know. I mean, I like twisting issues like that. It’s always been amusing to me that people think it’s a party song, but in a sense it’s like a drug protest song. (laughing)

What about misinterpretation?

I think misinterpretation is one the coolest things that we are afforded as human beings! (laugh)

You’re the first person I have ever heard say that, and that’s a cool attitude to have towards people interpreting your music. I see that the band will be appearing on The Conan O’Brein Show and then the Donnie and Marie Show. How did you get hooked up with that?

I did not know, but it seems very appropriate for us. Hopefully we’ll tour with Rage Against the Machine and then tour with the Backstreet Boys. (laughs)

What!?

That would be awesome!

Could you even handle touring with Backstreet?

I don’t know, we’ll see if we can do it. Sure, why not? How many sold-out shows have they played filled with twelve-year-old girls who buy records?

What will their parents think of you guys?

Hey, at least they get to see a cool band before them! (laughs)They’ll actually hear real drums and shit.

How many ex-girlfriends equal into the equation for the lyrics on the new record?

I would say two, total. The majority of the songs for this record were about my last girlfriend but some of the older songs were influenced by a different girl.

Who was it that was always on your case?

The oldest one was always on my case, and the newest ex is the one that’s hard to forget.

What’s up with your record label, Fowl Records?

It’s going good, we have a bunch of acts on the label and a website, www.fowl.com Some of the best bands in Maryland are on our label, without a doubt. Actually some of my favorite music in the country is on the label. It’s really amazing. Bands like Underfoot is amazing, Coloring Lesson, Mary Pranksters, Live Alien Broadcast, are all awesome bands and totally different bands.

The music scene in Maryland and the southern states is totally different from what’s going on elsewhere

Yeah, I think our band reflects what the scene is like, if you listen to our records and go see our shows, you’re going to see a lot of different styles of music going, a lot of different stuff that seems to work together.

Are you bringing any of those bands out on tour?

I would love to do a Fowl tour one day, that would be awesome.

The website is pure candy. Who developed your site?

I developed the site myself. That’s kind of why they had me do it myself, because they really don’t have a lot to do with computers and they know I’m into the arts. So, we came up with the cartoon thing.

Have you always been into the arts and graphic drawing?

Oh yeah. I have always been into the arts, I paint, I’m into the physical graphic art and whatever I can get my hands on, you know.

The colors are so vivid and animated.

Yeah, like a fucking Simpson’s cartoon!

The site is great for fans because there are so many different features to check out. The faceplate on the stereo is killer!

Did you click on the odometer?

Nope.

You got to click on the odometer, man! (laughing in mid sentence) Check that out!

What about this book, How To Live Without a Job?

Basically, we were doing it when we were all living together, a bunch of prose we were writing. I would write a few lines and he would write a few lines; that’ s how the lyrics for “Let’s Get Flat” came out. Me and my friend, Joe King, he’s an artist too, we went to high school together, took art classes together, and lived together a bunch of different times. We would be hanging out getting blazed and playing music and writing chaotic stuff, so we wanted to make a self-helping book that said how to live without a job because people will always want to know how to live without a job. So if they pick it up and get a bunch of psychotic writing, we thought that would be funny! It looks like a self-help book, but it’s just a bunch of poetry.

Are you into writing short stories or anything like that?

Yeah, if I had the patience or the will to do it. I mean, we all come up with crazy ideas for movies and shit like that. Eventually my friends and me will put out some demented material.

So are you heading out anywhere?

Actually, we are leaving here and heading somewhere else in Pennsylvania. We have been opening for Fuel and now we are driving all over the country.

Closing comments?

If you like something on our records or on the radio, come see us and we’ll confuse you. If you don’t like something on the record or radio, come see us and they’ll like it. HA! The thing is that we’ve been in the studio four times as a band, we have on the stage together four thousand times! We like to keep them separate entities. The avenue for our record is a set of headphones and a smoke bedroom. So, you have to make a record appeal to that type of avenue. That’s the place we shine when we’re playing.

I hope you confuse people!

+ larry sarzyniak

PJ Harvey – Interview

PJ Harvey

‘Uh Huh Her’ is the seventh album from PJ Harvey and the follow-up to the hugely successful ‘Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea’ which won the 2001 Mercury Music Prize. After a summer of live dates – including appearances at the V Festival, the Eden Project and the first rock concert at Tate Modern – Harvey finished work on the new record in the autumn of 2003. The album was written, performed, recorded, mixed & produced by Harvey, who chose Head to assist in additional recording and mixing and Rob Ellis, long time collaborator, to play drums and percussion on the album. Multi-instrumentalist, Harvey, played everything else.

Check out an interview with PJ Harvey!

Was this album written over a short or long time period?

PJH: The time period that this album was written over was very large really because I’m somebody that, I write all the time so I end up with quite a backlog of songs. So when I come to record an album, I just select which songs feel right according to how I’m feeling, what kind of a record I want to make, what songs are interesting me most at that moment. So some songs for this new record were pulled from being two years old. Some songs were written a couple of months before I started recording, so it’s quite a mixture and of all different times in my life. Two years ago I might have been living somewhere entirely different [than] where I am now but I like the fact that songs coming from different eras have very, very different qualities. So I think on this record in particular there’s a lot of very different moods going on, but the common thread being that they were all finally finished off in the same environment, and maybe brought up to date with the additions that I made. But these songs came from over a couple of years of writing, really.

Which is your preference: writing, recording or performing live?

PJ Harvey: If I had to put in order of preference, writing, recording or performing, I think, without a shadow of a doubt, that I would say performing because that is for me where the music makes sense. For me music is something that is intangible and I like the beauty of the fact that its moving in time and you can’t nail it down and you can’t pin it down. And I always think that songs are at their most beautiful when they are performed live and it just passes by you in the air and then its gone. And you have one of those sensations that that was a beautiful moment in time and it passed through and its gone. And sometimes when you are just driving around you have a sensation like that, of just being overwhelmed by something beautiful and that feeling, like a taste in your mouth, is just gone. That’s why music is endlessly fascinating and untamable to me. So that is why the performance of music would come first but also because it is such an enjoyable thing for me and to see the enjoyment that it can give very directly. You know, when you make a record, you don’t actually see the reaction of people when they are listening to that record or what it does for them, but when you are playing in front of people that are visibly getting lost in the moment and you are too, it’s really an uplifting and life affirming experience. It can be for everyone, I know that if I’ve gone to see a live performance and it’s been an incredible one I feel changed afterwards, I feel like I want to change my life, I want to make my life take a different path in some way because that person I saw perform inspired me so much and opened up my heart to all these possibilities that I never had before. So that’s why performance is at the top of my list of what music is about. And I don’t like the word performance, just the happening of music at that moment in time, rather than playing a recorded piece of music. And so, second on my list would be writing. Again, because it’s something that happens in a moment in time when an idea is forming, it seems to come from nowhere and it seems to pass through you and you miss catching it and it’s gone. And if you catch an idea like with a butterfly net or something then it kind of moves through you and changes and becomes something else and all that is so exciting as a writer because you are moving with it in time so this idea is, you’re moving with it, making it happen, shaping it, and then the time is gone and then it’s finished. And then you’ll never write that piece again, that quality of life and death of a piece. Whereas recording would come last for me because I find it a very painful experience, very difficult, very draining. I lose all my energy, my whole, everything is channeled so that I find it hard to concentrate on anything else. It’s wracking in the sense that you have to keep questioning yourself over and over again, is this right? Is this the best it could be? Was this right? And then the fact that you finally arrive at something you think you are happy with, and then you think, because you are never one hundred percent sure, or I’m not, then you have to at some point stamp that in time and say okay, it’s the best I can do for now and forever live with that piece, you don’t ever get to change it again. So, yeah, that would come the last of those things for me. I’m notoriously bad at making final decisions anyway so having to make a final decision on something being as good as it can be can be very difficult.

How important is the role of a producer for you during the recording process?

PJH: The role of a producer in a recording is a very, very important one, and I’ve worked with two or three producers in my time and they have an enormous impact on the way a record turns out. Obviously, a lot of it is with me I’m thinking of producers I’ve worked with in the past which is Flood, Steve Albini, and then with Mick Harvey on the last album, Stories album. Having a producer is having someone to bounce off of, so if you are unsure of something you can really ask their opinion, or if you are tired one day, you can lean on them, just say, ‘Look, can you steer the ship today because I’m exhausted and I can’t think straight.’ But they’re a sounding board for your ideas, they are a suggester of ideas that you never would have thought of yourself, an eye opener when you can’t see for mist. So they are a very large influence. And not only that but different producers have very much their different sounds. Flood has a sound that I can recognize. [I can tell] he’s produced something before I’ve read that he had or anything. Brian Eno is another one. Daniel Renoir. You can hear, ‘Oh, that’s a Daniel Renoir production.’ And I’ve always, since I started making records, which was twelve years ago, my ambition was to one day feel confident enough to produce my own album without anyone else’s help. And this was the first time I felt that I had reached that position, that I felt confident enough in myself as a human being that I could carry out my ideas and hopes and wishes for a record. I did have quite a role in the engineering of the record as well because I, many of the songs were recorded at my home on my four track or my eight track, both of which are quite simple machines. I’m somebody who likes using very simple machinery, nothing particularly very technical. I like the beauty of simplicity, so most of the recording I had taken to a point where they were finished, apart from the drums, basically. And then I took that into the studio, transferred it onto a twenty-four track machine and worked on top of it, adding drums, maybe redoing some vocals if I wasn’t happy with the sound. Rewrote a couple of songs. Two of the songs were started from scratch, because it’s very difficult for a drummer to play on top of things that are already played, particularly if they’re done without a click. A lot of the songs weren’t, they were just sort of free-floating, and poor Rob Ellis, would have to try and free float with me on this thing that was already recorded, so there was a couple of times where that didn’t work out, and we had to start from scratch, but most of the songs were already almost completed by myself at home and then the finishing touches were done in the studio.

The album artwork is made up of a collection of self-portraits, what was the inspiration behind this?

PJH: For a long time, I’ve wanted to have an album’s artwork that was purely pictures of me, me, me, me and me. No, since I was at art college, and I think it’s quite an art college obsession, of one’s self, and examining one’s inner self. I remember when I was at art college I was casting myself in plaster. I think it’s something that everyone in art college goes through, so since then I have always regularly taken pictures of myself in the mirror, I guess to document the changes over the years, and you can see yourself getting older and you can remember exactly that moment in time when you took that picture and remember how you were feeling. So it was sort of a tradition I started when I was at art college. When I was thinking about the artwork for this record – years before I thought I would just like to have this whole collection of my self-portraits for artwork, that would be really important to me. A document of my journey to this point. And, like I was explaining about how I’ve only just felt at the point in my life where I could produce myself and trust in that, produce my own record and make it entirely myself, then this felt absolutely the right record to document my journey to now. I’ve made it in a very simple way, that was something that I discovered making it that left to my own devices and my own production, I choose to make things sound simple, lo-fi, just not like how I even thought I might do. I thought that producing my own record, I might kind of, make them more sparkly, brush them up a bit, and I found that every time I tried to do that, I just took it all away again. I didn’t like it. Everything was like, get off, no, get away from the songs. I discovered that even when it comes to producing a record, they basically sound like my demos do, which is sparse, homespun, raw and sort of messed up. Not quite right, something not quite right about it. And that’s what I discovered with this is that actually that is how I like to hear things, I actually didn’t realize that before – I thought it was just the way I made my demos, and I put down that strange soundingness of them to the fact that they were not finished. But then this whole record has ended up sounding a bit like that and it’s a very homemade-sounding record and so then again the artwork being a mishmash of things that have been made over that last twenty years, some of the pictures are quite old, it felt entirely appropriate for it. Having said that, I chose as my assembler of my pieces, Marie, who I’ve worked with, again, for the last, well since I was eighteen – seventeen, eighteen. So she is part of my life and part of my journey and she felt like the person that I could safely hand into the lap all these ideas I had for the artwork and knowing that she knew me inside out as a person she could assemble it in a way that she felt presented the images best, because I think that’s something that I didn’t want to be, the producer of the artwork, totally. I felt that I did need an outside opinion to make it work for other people to view.

How do you know when a song is finished?

PJH: Basically, when the song is working its magic on you, you know that it’s complete and doesn’t need anything extra. Having said that, there were songs that were already working that magic on me, and for some reason I thought, ‘I can’t just leave it like that,’ because there would only be three things on it, you know, the keyboard, a voice and a strange plinky sound in the background or something. And I thought, ‘Well, I must try other things,’ and so there are a few songs where I tried putting everything on it, and then I just took it all away again just to leave it as it first was. And so, yes, you do know when a song is finished because it moves you in some way – it makes you excited or it makes you laugh or it makes you feel like you’ve gone right inside yourself. A song is finished when it stands up on its own as well, when it stands outside of you and it becomes something in its own right. It doesn’t have to be attached to you anymore, it doesn’t need an umbilical cord to you, it just suddenly floats off on its own and oh, there it is, it’s done, it’s a thing and it’s finished.

Where do you find your inspiration?

PJH: I think as a person and a writer I thrive on extremes and I feel inspired by extremes in life. That has often taken me to various parts of the globe, searching for something that’s going to throw me into the new and into the now, and taking me away from where I was born and where I grew up, and everything English that I know. So, I’ve often done that, and there’s many places I’d like to go see in the future. With the last record, for instance, I did spend some time in New York, which is almost the complete opposite to my home in Dorset, which is very quiet and very removed and surrounded by wonderful nature and scenery. So it’s almost the opposite to that. And then, here, again now, I find myself in Los Angeles, as an opposite to New York almost. Then again, it’s a mood that way and further and it’s inspired me in different ways again, it make me look in things in a different light. Next stop Russia, that’s what I say.

+ Published: June.07.2004

G. Love – Interview

G. Love

G. Love began playing guitar at age eight and wrote his first song in ninth grade. It was at this time that G. Love, aka Crazy G., aka Garrett, began listening to the hip-hop sounds of Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys. While in high school he began playing on the streets of his hometown by himself and after one year in college he relocated to Boston, playing wherever he could. It was at a Boston bar that he met drummer Jeffrey “The Houseman” Clemens in 1993. G. and Jeff became a duo and were joined a few months later by bassist Jim “Jimi Jazz” Prescott.

The trio signed with Epic Records’ grassroots OKeh label. G. Love & Special Sauce cut their self-titled debut live at Studio 4 in Philadelphia. The album was released in May 1994 and has sold over 350,000 copies in the United States alone.

After touring festivals like Pink Pop in Holland, Glastonbury in England, and Roskilde in Denmark, and playing the H.O.R.D.E. tour alongside Blues Traveler and Black Crowes, they went back into the studio. In September 1995 G. Love & Special Sauce released their second Epic/OKeh album, Coast To Coast Motel. More touring followed with the likes of the Dave Matthews Band.

They released their third album, Yeah It’s That Easy, in October 1997. The next year on the road with Special Sauce included a six-week headlining tour of Europe, as well as two months of US dates supporting Widespread Panic.

With their most mature release to date, Philadelphonic, I was lucky enough to talk to G. Love about what is sure to be the beginning of a long trip around the world. G. promises over two hundred and fifty shows during the next year!

How’s it going?

Great.

You’re on tour now, right?

Yeah. We’re on our way to Vancouver.

Your publicist said you’re going to try to do two hundred and fifty plus shows this coming year.

Yeah. That is my goal, man. I hope I can reach it.

How do you have any time for yourself?

That is for myself. That is what I want to do. That is a goal I set for myself. To give you a hint, we have a new record out right now, so when you have a new record out you end up doing a lot of press and shit. So, as it turns out, I’m doing a lot of press and shit and in-stores. So a lot of the time I have two or three shows a day. I’ll probably do close to forty shows on this tour, and then the next tour will be just as busy. Hopefully the record will continue to progress and take off, therefore we’ll be engaged in many extracurricular activities. And whenever I do a performance for over twenty minutes, that is a show. I mean, you know how it is.

Yeah. So has everyone been asking you about Woodstock?

Yeah. It was cool, but the vibe, as I’m sure you know, was pretty wack. I actually just spoke with my friend who had a food stand there and I asked him if he made it out alive and he was like, ‘Yeah. We didn’t lose money and we made it out of there alive.’ He said, ‘We were like a beacon of light there amongst all of the hooligans.’

(we pause for a minute as G. Love orders a tuna sandwich)

I was checking out philadelphonic.com. Are you connected with that?

Yeah. That is my shit. (laughs)

I was reading some stuff on the site and I read something I heard before but wasn’t going to ask until I saw it on the web site, and that is you used to be known as Crazy G.

Right. That is true. How did you know that?

I heard it a few years ago after I got Yeah, It’s That Easy, but I forgot about it until I read it on your website.

Oh, shit. When I used to play on the street that is the name I gave myself. That was the name I performed under, Crazy G. By the time I made my first record demo called G. Love, Oh Yeah, and that was just acoustic solo stuff, that was the first time I used the name G. Love, when I was nineteen.

Why did you stick with G. Love and not Crazy G.?

My name is Garrett and people always call me G., so my hip-hop name was always G. Love.

What is Project Hype?

Well, that is our street marketing team. It’s for fans that want to take a more active role with the band. It involves putting up flyers; they get a lot of stickers that they can give to their friends. It’s just a propaganda campaign. (laughs) It’s just to spread the word of our music and it’s for the fans that dig our music and want to get more involved. They get a lot of perks, like getting backstage, doing artwork flyers and potentially record covers. It’s just a chance for us to get more involved with our fans.

Do you think your fans are really more like diehards rather than fair weather fans like a lot of bands get?

Yeah. We have a really great group of people that enjoy our music and our vibe. That is why it’s so cool to be on the road.

I was reading some of the posts on the message boards and there was some controversy about a few songs.

Like what?

The first was about the dedication of “Dreamin’ ” to Bradley Nowell from Sublime.

It is dedicated to him.

The other was the track “Friday Night (Hundred Dollar Bill)” where you sound like Slick Rick.

That is done in Slick Rick’s style.

I loved Slick Rick’s disc Great Adventures of Slick Rick.

Yeah, me too. I did an interview with some guy last night and he was like, ‘How did you do that track with Slick Rick?’ And I was like, ‘No, dude, that is me.’ (laughs) It actually just happened on a whim in the studio. I was like, ‘Check out this style.’ And everyone was like, ‘That is so phat.’ And I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ And my producer was like, ‘That is totally fucking hot.’ I kinda actually wish I hadn’t done it like that because some of my boys don’t like that style much, but it’s cool. It makes sense to do it that way because it is a story. And it is a story that could have happened to Slick Rick.

Then the other track was “Rodeo Clowns” and how it was written by Jack Johnson and you sing backup. But I was wondering if you were singing backup or lead with him.

Yeah, we are both singing the lead. That was a friend of a friend and I was looking for a couple of new songs for the record. That song fell in my lap and he was a really big fan of the band. It was like, ‘Let’s do it.’

It’s a good track.

I like it a lot.

Well, I have to say that message board helped me out a lot. No matter how much I researched, I would never know as much as some diehard fans.

Definitely. They are so in tune.

You went from Epic to 550 Music. You stayed with Sony, but was there a reason behind moving over to 550?

Our A&R guy, who signed after our first record, he switched to 550. That is still in the same building, but we didn’t have representation at our label from the most important person, so in turn something was lost along the way with our relationship with our label. So it was time to leave Epic and go to 550 where our A&R guy was. Epic was really great but I’ve never felt this kind of enthusiasm from our fans and from the record label. It is really an incredible time in our lives right now.

I wanted to toss a couple of songs out at you and see what comes to mind. First, “No Turning Back”.

We were in our first session for our record and our bass player was just noodling around and came up with that bassline. I was like, ‘That is the phatest bassline.’ We jammed out on it and I had written some lyrics on the Widespread Panic tour, and I was at the gorge in Washington I went out in the crowd and was hanging out in the parking lot in this drum circle and I was vibing. I saw this girl, and she was this really pretty girl, probably like eighteen or nineteen, and kind of a hippie girl. She was sitting there singing all of these songs about the earth mother and I was like, ‘What is this girl’s trip?’ I didn’t talk to her or anything, but after a couple of days she just stuck in my mind. And the song is about how I imagined her vibe to be. We ended up recording a real rough version of that at our first studio session. It kind of stumped us because it was too raw to be on a record and the way the song was recorded and the drums were played made it impossible to do overdubs over it. And there wasn’t guitar and, since I couldn’t overdub it onto the track, it was too raw. But it was so good that no one wanted to record it again, but our producer actually arranged the song so that it could make the record. It is one of the great songs that we really like to play live off of the record.

What about “Relax”?

That song woke me up. I was the sickest I had ever been in Europe. The tour was going so bad on the music industry side that I was so stressed out and sick and I had to cancel a bunch of shows in Italy. I was shacked up in the hotel alone in Zurick, Switzerland. And you know when you are falling asleep and you have all of these thoughts running through your head? Well, I had all of these voices in my head, like my manager at the time and the record label arguing, and then my voice came right through the middle of it at the same time going, ‘Let’s all just relax.’ I woke up and wrote the whole song.

“Do It For Free”

We were at sound check one day and my drummer was playing this ferocious drumbeat and I had this guitar line that I was playing over the drum line and the back up singer started singing (G. Love begins to sing), ‘Can you do it for free?/ Can you do it for me?’ And I was like, ‘Shit. That was so live.’ Those guys already had a song called “Can You Do It For Free” but we took it and made it into our song. Jeff [Clemens], the drummer, really made it happen in the studio by playing five different drum kits and mixed them up together like a big soup.

What about the shout outs on “Rock and Roll”?

That was a combination of two songs that we play live called “Tonight’s The Night” and “Just Like Trains”. And I wanted to write a phat verse, so I wanted to write a song that said how I got into hip-hop and that was giving shots out to the rappers. We play that shit every night and just kick it.

I was wondering what you hope people come away with when they hear G. Love & Special Sauce?

I hope people can groove to this record when they are driving around or making love. I hope that they can groove to it while they are partying with it and also learn a little about who we are. And maybe they can rock out to some new G. Love & Special Sauce songs. I also hope a lot of people can rock out to it on the radio as well and find out more about us through this record.

+ charlie craine

Feeder – Interview

Feeder

One on one with drummer jon lee

Hey, Jon. Where are you now?

New York.By the way, if we lose each other, I can’t help it. It’s just cell phone communa-technology. You know? (laughs)

Yeah. So where you at?

I’m in London stuck in a traffic jam. I’ll tell you what, the traffic is nearly as bad here as it was in New York City.

I missed you when you were in New York because of Hurricane Floyd.

Well, it wasn’t really a hurricane, was it? It was really just some heavy downpours and rain, but yet Manhattan seemed to close down because of it. People ought to spend a few days in Wales; it rains like that non-stop for days.

I guess everyone thought it was going to be a big deal, but it never panned out.

I know. It wasn’t a big deal.

Are you touring now?

We start our tour in the North of England, then on to Scotland, and then we’ll make our way back down.

So what are your plans for the US?

We are trying desperately now to get on a tour because we’d like to fill up the rest of the year in America or at least in the beginning of next year. I think the album has been received pretty well from those who have heard it. We spent nine months there last year and set a little foundation and we’d like to capitalize on that. Maybe we can dominate your market over there. (laughs)

Personally, I think the album is great.

Well, thanks. How long have you had it?

Probably a month, or a little more perhaps.

So it’s had a chance to grow on you?

Yeah. When did you start recording the album?

We actually started doing demos for it before we came to America last time. So I’d say we started it January ’88, oops, I mean ’98. Oh God, not ’88. (laughs) We did a little recording while we were in America, but most of those tracks are B-sides. Then we came back and started recording again in December. Then we took a break for Christmas and started again in January, and then pretty much finished in March. It has been spread out really. We didn’t have a chance to use a producer on it because the people that we wanted weren’t available, so we did it ourselves.

Really? So did you have experience producing?

We have worked in studios before, so we know our way around, and we had the same engineer that worked on the first album. So it was a case of getting on with it. It was pretty spontaneous, really. I think it reflects that in the record, the way it sounds. I think it is a more exciting sounding record than the first one.

How do you guys write your material?

We came to the studio with song ideas and sat down and flushed them out, or we might come into the studio with a great track and just couldn’t get it to feel right, so we just change the feel of it. Like “Waiting For Changes”. That was originally written in half times, really, and now it is in double time. It’s just whatever works. If something doesn’t work the first time around, maybe we’ll come back to it the next day and work it out. The record company gave us leeway to record, record, and record. By the time we finished recording, we had thirty-two tracks total. So, we had some leeway to record as much as possible and had the choice of tracks.

The thing I like most about the album is that it doesn’t tail off at the end. I’m sure that has something to do with writing so much material and having the luxury of choosing from so many songs.

Yeah, it keeps going and going and going. (laughs)

Right. I mean, the last track, “Paper Faces”, is great.

That is a really strong song. It was one that we tried a couple of times at various stages and the style that seemed to work for the record was the real simple way of recording it, and that was like an old style straight ahead Lennon way of recording it really. But you are right; we picked the best stuff and the most dynamic songs that we could. I think it worked. I’m glad that you picked up on the similar vibe that we had about the record.

I also like “Pictures Of Perfect Youth”. What is that about?

I obviously don’t write the lyrics, but for an overall view of the lyrics: Grant views it from either his point of view or opinions. It’s just everyday life really, like relationships he is involved in or what others are involved with. It’s what he picks up going through life. Like “Insomnia” is about sleepless nights on the tour bus and getting off stage full of adrenaline and then having to get on the bus for five or six hours to the next town or show. There are references for places to Florida, yet there are references to places in Wales where he grew up. It’s just observations and paranoia. “Pictures Of Perfect Youth” was about an old girlfriend. It is about the fact that when you are young and you get into a relationship that you think things are going to pan out for you and they don’t. And that comes to a halt and then you go through your early and late twenties rather quickly, and you seem to forget about those who were so important to you when you were younger, until you come across an old photograph.

That’s cool. I also like how it goes from a fast track and then to a slow track.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think it is important to have dynamics on an album, especially when it’s your second album. A lot of people have problems with their second album. The whole process was a happy one. And with fingers crossed, it might do well. It did well in the UK.

I listen to a lot of British music and I’m always surprised when a really great British act doesn’t catch on in America.

I think partly because British bands come over, I mean, America is a giant place, and they get disillusioned with it. You have to really, really work it. We were there for nine months and got our name around, but we did get our foot in the door. Bands go over there and play for months to ten people when they play to thousands in the UK, and they get disillusioned and want to come home to what they know. Eventually, if you stick it out long enough, you’ll catch on. Look at Bush, they stuck it out for a long time and they had a radio single and it went sky high.

I read that there was something called “Feeder Week”. What was that?

In July, yeah. It was the playback for the record. What we did was we sent out area reps out to book a club and invite lots of people down to hear a playback of the record via the internet or fan club. We had a really good response. We got the idea for “Feeder Week” from a show on the Discovery channel called Shark Week. I’m into sharks and it’s pretty similar. (laughs) It was just something for the fans.

What did you grow up listening to?

Oh, wow. Well, I’m thirty-one years old, so Black Sabbath was really big when I was growing up. So were Led Zeppelin, the Who, and the Beatles, obviously. The Kinks, ABBA, and went on to the punk scene, like the Sex Pistols and the Clash. Duran Duran made a big impression on us. I’m not speaking for myself; I’m speaking for all of us really. We all grew up on the same thing, pretty much. We are pretty open minded about music, so we never stuck to one style, really. I was forced to listen to choir music by my father, so I had that crammed down my throat all my life. I think that is why I have gray hair.

What started you playing the drums?

I had a kid who lived next door to me who had a drum kit, and I used to be in my room at night listening to him thrash away. My parents asked me, ‘What do you want to do in life?’ and I was like, ‘I want a drum kit.’ As soon as I saw someone else playing, that was it for me really. Sad, really, I wish it was piano. We all have crosses to bear. (laughs)

What are your plans for New Year’s?

We might be playing a show in Wales. Who wants to do a gig on New Year’s Eve? Not me. I’m expecting a baby anytime now, so hopefully I’ll be with my baby and my fianc. Hopefully I’ll be with my child, being thrown up on all night. I’m quite into that, really.

+ charlie craine

A Perfect Circle – Maynard James Keenan Interview

The void that’s been left in the heavy music world since Tool’s disappearing act in 1998 has been a big one. It’s safe to say that Maynard James Keenan’s new project, A Perfect Circle , can fill that void and do even more with a versatile sound and grainy Brit-pop textures. The band also includes co-founder Billy Howerdel on guitars, Paz Lenchantin on bass, Josh Freese on drums, and Troy van Leeuwen, also on guitar. We had a chance to chat with Troy before their show in Lakeland, Florida about the recent collaboration, his bandmates, David Fincher (director of Fight Club, Seven , and The Game ), and the state of rock music today.

When did you officially become a part of A Perfect Circle ?

I started playing with the band about a year ago and it was just a couple of rehearsals a month. We were just getting together, getting acquainted, and learning the songs together, just having fun with it, then around the fall time we did a couple of shows. That’s when things really started to roll as far as the band developing and people getting interested in it.

Did you offer yourself or were you approached by Billy and Maynard?

Initially Billy gave me a call. Since I had toured with my old band, Failure, with Tool so much, we sort of got acquainted out there. I guess I was the last resort, which is fine with me.

Did you have any difficulties picking up the music?

Not at all. I basically learned how to be a musician by listening, so it was always easy for me to listen to records, hear notes, where they’re played and how to play them. It was always easy for me to jump right in and be a part of anything really. It took a couple of weeks of just listening, playing along.

Were you involved with the recording process?

The majority of the record was already done, but I played on a couple of songs on the record, featured solos.

Which ones?

Thinking of You and Sleeping Beauty. Those were songs were written as the band was developing. I came up with a couple of parts that just fit the way they wanted.

Are you involved with anything else besides A Perfect Circle ?

Yeah, I have a band called Enemy that I’m trying to finish up, but everybody in this band has something else going on. It’s kind of cool that we all made this a priority to make it happen. It’s been a really pleasant experience.

What do you think you bring to the table as far as musical abilities go?

I like to think I add a certain element of ambiance, color. A lot of times I’ll do a session where a friend will have called me up looking for something specific, but don’t know what it is. I’ll just come down and fill in the gaps. But I definitely think color and ambiance is big as far as I go.

This isn’t supposed to be a side project. Do you hope to remain active in the future in A Perfect Circle?

It’s going really well. I enjoy playing the music. It’s really a professional outfit. Everybody knows their place and we don’t step on each other’s toes. It just works, musically.

You’ve toured with Tool, but as a supporting act. What’s it like to actually share the stage with Maynard?

It’s definitely inspiring. I’ve always liked Tool and had admiration for what he can do. It’s very cool. I can’t really explain how it feels. There’s a lot going on. It’s definitely inspiring.

You’ve been on the road for a month now. Has your live show evolved?

The live show keeps evolving, as well as this unit. Not only are the lights getting more intense, the performance is getting better. We’re all more comfortable and at ease with each other. It just adds for good vibes and good music.

Have you incorporated any Tool or Failure songs into the sets?

No. This is just a completely different idea. It all goes back to this being a certain group of people making a certain style of music. A Perfect Circle is what we’re here to do and that’s it.

What are your thoughts on where you fit in among the glorified grunge scene and the rap-n-rock genres?

I don’t think we fit in at all. We prefer it that way. Being different works.

I agree. There’s this upper echelon of musicians that includes A Perfect Circle , Queens Of The Stone Age, even Fu Manchu, that just seem to play above everything else.

Yeah, they both fill spaces that are missing. I think musically the people who like to have more substance in their music enjoy them. I think that’s the kind of following we’re shooting for as well. It’s more diehard.

Definitely. And on your album there seems to be so much variation. A British-pop feel with a lot of atmosphere was my initial take. It just naturally separates itself from anything that has come out recently with the exception of those two bands.

Yeah, a lot of guitar tones and general ideas for the songs started out as a song by The Cure or any of that early alternative music, but when everyone jumps into the picture, it kind of changes. It makes it what we do.

Do you anticipate this blowing up like Limp Bizkit or Korn?

I’ve learned to not expect too much, but it would be cool. I’d be very happy, not only to be in that position, but to see the change take place.

What kind of plans do you have after the Nine Inch Nails tour?

We’re touring Europe , Japan , Australia , Canada . We’re going to go out for quite a while.

Sounds grueling. Is the video for Judith done?

Yeah, it’s getting a lot of airtime on The Box. That’s just as important to us, that we’re big there, not so much MTV.

I know with Tool, Maynard enjoyed creating some weird stuff. Was any of that incorporated into this one?

Nope. The director was David Fincher. He did Seven, Fight Club , and The Game . It was mostly his idea. It’s really a great rehearsal performance video, but with his sensibilities of lighting and contrast and editing, it just came out really cool. It’s really edgy, borderline aggro, but still tastefully done.

Sounds pretty cool. He’s done some amazing stuff in the last few years.

Yeah, it was definitely fun.

Well, I’ve run out of questions, so do you have anything to add, to our readers?

Sure, work hard and stay in school!

+ Charlie Craine

Starsailor – Interview

starsailor

Starsailor return with their third album, ‘On The Outside’. Both their previous two albums have now sold in excess of 1.5 million copies worldwide and on the last campaign they hit number one in the French singles chart with ‘Four To The Floor’. Starsailor never stopped working, they continuously toured, only pausing to write and record their new album, and in the process have created an impassioned statement, a record of real honesty and urgency. Much of the record was recorded live which has aided the directness and captured the passion. Galvanised like never before, the band have produced their best work to date. Featuring the fantastic comeback single ‘In The Crossfire’, the band’s new album ‘On The Outside’ was produced by Rob Schnapf (Beck, The Vines, Elliott Smith) and looks set to take the band to the new heights they deserve.

We interview singer James Walsh!

What’s it like crossing the country?

It’s been pretty good.

Do you look forward coming to the states?

Definitely yes, I think it’s exciting, it’s always an adventure. You never know what to expect, we played gigs and in bars in Salt Lake City to about twenty-five people. Then we played in another place with a thousand people, so that’s the interesting part.

Does it bring you back to earth considering how popular you are in UK?

The great thing about America in terms to the UK, we reached a level but it’s going to be hard to step up to Coldplay’s level whereas there is so much to build on in the States. There’s so much progression here.

STARSAILOR

What do you think about coming over and hear what’s being played here?

It’s a pretty good of mixture. Most of American stuff gets big in the UK before Americans catch on to what’s going on in their backyard. I’m sure some bands got signed in the UK before signing in America. So, often to get on the radio to make an impact, a lot of [bands] have to go to Europe first.

You recorded in On The Outside in L.A. right? Why L.A.?

The big reason was Rob Snout, the producer, because he was the man for the job. He’s worked with the Foo Fighters and such and we liked what he brought to the table. He’s based in L.A. and it’s always a good time to spend time in the sunshine.

Do you write songs alone or do you write with the band?

A bit of both really. The ballads I write on my own with my guitar. But the rock songs are more collectively written. The melancholy soft stuff is more of the bedroom ones.

How do you know when a song is going to be good?

You just get a feeling when you hit onto something that is really good. The key test for me is that I don’t like to write things down so much or record things, so I think if something is going to work it’s just hits me while I’m playing. Whatever sticks goes on the album.

What inspires you?

Watching bands is quite inspiring. You go on thinking I’ve got to do something better than them. I saw Jeremiah and immediately went home to write a song…it just flowed. It’s like one line popped into my head and all of the sudden I got a song.

Do you find it strange talking about lyrics?

I really don’t mind how people interpret a song as long as they get something out of them. Sometimes it’s nice that people misunderstand lyrics, as long as it’s positive. A songwriter is trying to put across an emotion in a song otherwise it’s meaningless.

STARSAILOR

When you write a song you record, do you think of what it’s about afterwards?

Yeah, that definitely happens. Like “Counterfeit Life”. Someone thought it was the Enron collapse, the end of corporate glory. It just happened to be on the news, although I didn’t sit down and write a song about that. But maybe it was subconscious.

When coming as a band is it easier now, after all this time?

In some ways it gets easier and some ways harder because the expectation gets higher. When the first album succeeds the fans have something to hold the passing album up against. It gets easier because you learn different methods and learn when it’s the best mood and time to write. So we try to implement that.

I’ve heard sometimes that the stress of expectation is unavoidable.

You have to try to put it in the back of your mind. It has to be natural. If you try to force it [then] it becomes over the top. I think more so in the studio when you’re working on the sound that’s where you can become more competitive.

Who are you impressed by?

I think Rufus Wainwright. I find his lyrics fascinating. The way he manages to avoids the cliché lyrics. It’s like poetry.

And he can sing! Some of his lyrics, even if it’s happy it’s sad.

Definitely melancholy.

Do you find that your style is more natural now?

I’m not sure, that’s a good question.

You never know where it comes from.

The hardest thing that Bob Dylan and Neal Young have is that it’s so easy to write songs. You listen to them and there’s nothing there but them being themselves. That’s what every song writer battles with. Its one thing to write songs, but its another to make them stand up themselves.

STARSAILOR

I remember Motley Crue putting out three great albums and then death. They started releasing garbage.

I think it’s spectacular that Bob Dylan and Neal Young have been able to avoid it.

I was wondering, what are you plans after November?

Write some more songs. We’re already in the process of writing the fourth album and hopefully come back into the States. It seems as though France and America keeps on pulling us back. If we can have our way things time we’ll have a simultaneous release. It seems the interest is picking up in America. It would be foolish to keep you guys waiting.

+ Charlie Craine

Black Eyed Peas – Interview

Black Eyed Peas

Black Eyed Peas are keeping it real, real. Real how they see it. With hip hop music influenced by soul, jazz and Latin rhythms. With a live band. With pumpin’ live shows that inspire Black Eyed Peas to bust into acrobatic movements and that drive audiences to a frenzy.

“Just cuz we dress the way we do and perform with a band doesn’t mean we’re not hip hop”, begins Will.I.Am, Black Eyed Peas’ co-founder and lead rapper. “That’s who we are and we’re not about fronting. This isn’t about an image; this is about the music, whether it fits in the current scene or not.”

Behind (as in beyond) the fronting, behind (as in to the rear of in) the surface skin, behind (as in advocating) the music are three MC’s: main mic man Will.I.Am, acrobatic Apl.de.Ap (apple-d-ap) and hypnotizing Taboo. And four-piece band plus one stunning back-up singer.

And it’s all laid out on Behind the Front, Black Eyed Peas’ Interscope Records debut produced by Will.I.Am.; the 16 song collection turns positive words and phrase into refreshingly novel styles. Styles that set them apart from their peers and leaves them accessible to fans of music of all genres. “We made songs that could be understood by the normal listener where you don’t have to be a part of the scene to understand what we’re talking about,” asserts Taboo. Continues Apl : I know the hip hop world will be feelin’ the Peas and so will fans of all types of music. I think that’s not only because of the live sound, but because our music crosses musical boundaries as well as cultural boundaries.”

We interview Apl.de.Ap!

HIP ONLINE: Life has to be good.

APL.DE.AP: It’s good. We’ve been nonstop touring and doing stuff on the side.

Has it been weird to be the go to group that everyone wants to see?

For me personally, I was adopted from the Philippines and my main goal was to help out my family and I never expected to be this big. But at the same time we’ve put in a lot of hard work and we played everywhere when we started and put everything into it.

Hip-hop fans have known about Black Eyed Peas for a long time—has it been an odd transition to see more and more people jump on the bandwagon?

It’s a little overwhelming, but I guess we like to do shows and that was one of our weapons and that caused awareness to people.

BLACK EYED PEAS

Has your approach to music stayed the same?

Always the same. Integrity. We’ve always taken different kinds of music and incorporated that with hip-hop.

It has to be weird that some fans don’t realize you’ve been around for a long time.

Yeah, people think these are our first two albums and they were actually our third and fourth albums.

Did it catch you off guard because they don’t know what you are about?

I can see that when we play on stage and do an old song—they are like “what is this?” You can see it in their faces. You’ll see spurts of people that know the old songs and are like “yeah!”

Is it still as exciting to perform now as it had been early on?

Yeah, it actually got more exciting because we got more onstage and we come up out of the ground. And we have a live band and every night it’s never the same. We can improvise too and that keeps it fresh for us.

The live band is awesome. It doesn’t seem to be a dominating thing in hip-hop.

There are some artists that are good at performing off turntables—but we like to hear our stuff live. That’s what makes us the Black Eyed Peas.

What are your thoughts on hip-hop today going towards a more violent style—especially since BEP is the complete opposite.

Hip-hop has always been the same. Back in the day you had NWA and A Tribe Called Quest and those different types of hip-hop and that is how it is today. Today you have Black Eyed Peas and 50 Cent.

Back when there was NWA, but you also had Public Enemy who was political. It seems hip-hop isn’t as diverse today.

We got into hip-hop when it was a different time and music style and that is what we kept in our style. We love the B-boy style and keeping that alive.

What do you listen to?

Old school and new stuff from Coldplay to Bob Marley to Stevie Wonder.

What has changed about BEP—I ask because with the last two albums you’ve had some huge hits.

Well the first two albums were a little more experimental and stuff. And we have grown as writers and producers. And we have been able to capture what we really like. We got to capture what is going on in the world and our lives. People can relate to that better because they know what we are feeling and what we are all about. That’s done a lot for us.

BLACK EYED PEAS

Do you write a lot of stuff?

We all write our own stuff.

Do you write together?

We always write together in one room. We jump around and sometimes we even try to see the stage when we are writing. We are traveling so much that we’ll do some music making on the plane and on a bus with a studio.

Is it easier to improvise onstage because you’ve been doing it for so long?

We are all different. Will likes to put his lyrics down right there and I like to sit down and write on paper and Taboo is the same. Will just likes to jump around.

You just came back from Asia right?

Yeah, we got to play in the Philippines—where I’m from. It was great.

It had to be amazing?

Hell yeah! The President gave me a medal. There are only three people who have been given medals. They gave BEP a special date which is July 24th. It’s crazy.

+ Charlie Craine

Platinum Weird – Interview

Platinum Weird

Platinum Weird is a musical collaboration formed in 2004 between Dave Stewart and Kara DioGuardi. It is also the subject of an elaborate hoax placing the band in 1974, including a half hour mockumentary produced for television network VH1 and a series of bogus World Wide Web fan sites and related false documents for the “lost” group.

The backstory is that in 1973, Dave Stewart formed a band called Platinum Weird in North London with his female songwriting partner, muse and soul mate, Erin
Grace. The pair originally met a few months earlier and formed a creative and spiritual bond. Their debut gig was at Mick Jagger’s birthday party where they quickly enjoyed a cult-like status performing at intimate gigs in London’s rock club circuit. Elton John’s Rocket label decided to sign them. Says Stewart: “Platinum Weird formed at the end of 1973 and only lasted until the end of 1974. I was still meant to be in the band Longdancer – signed to Rocket Records – but I met Erin and decided to form a band with her. I played Elton John ‘Platinum Weird’ songs secretly on a cassette, and he agreed that it would be a good idea for me to hook up with Erin instead of Longdancer, and eventually signed Platinum Weird.” Erin’s behavior during the making of the album was unpredictable and eccentric and then disappeared.

As odd as the entire story about the band has become—with a documentary featured on VH1 we couldn’t help but want to figure it all out so we chat with the legendary Dave Stewart and songwriter extraordinary Kara DioGuardi.

HIP: This band has been a whole major to do.

Dave: There’s more to come. We’re just unleashing the first round.

HIP: How far back did you start working on the record?

Dave: We started about two years ago, right Kara?

Kara: Yeah it was about two years ago.

Dave: We didn’t know we were opening Pandora’s Box. We were writing our first song together and it just kept on going. It was weird.

HIP: All the filming must have taken a lot of work.

Kara: The whole thing has taken a lot of work. It’s such a great project to work. You’re using so many parts of your creative being.

HIP: Was it exciting to see it coming all together because you see this all as a big spectacle?

Dave: it’s like writing an article—like how do I tie all this together? I always knew the target and at one point when everything was at bits it was like “ugh.” But now it’s good because we did so much work and created so many pieces of a puzzle.

HIP: Dave, I know you are involved with other films, how involved were you with the Platinum Weird film?

Dave: I was hands on involved. I was like rallying them all the time and being creatively involved. It’s our pride and joy kind of project.

HIP: Had you known each other before writing songs?

Kara: I knew of Dave but we worked on one project independent of each other with Anastasia and they were raving about him.

HIP: Dave did you know about her?

Dave: Jimmy Iovine [President of Interscope Records] told me there was this whirlwind girl. He rang me up and told me he was sending this spitfire—which is his nickname for her. She arrived in England looking like she came out of a hurricane flying from L.A and we started writing a song within five minutes. We couldn’t write for anyone else, it kept on turning into Platinum Weird music all the time.

HIP: When did you decide it’s for Platinum Weird or another project?

Kara: Well it’s because it’s so evident when it wasn’t for the Pussycat Dolls there was no urban beat and the lyric was kind of adult. But that’s something that happens when you get in a room with someone and you write one type of song and you can’t write another type. We loved writing together so we didn’t want didn’t want to put it out because it wasn’t the right kind of song. That’s the way it started evolving because we were writing an album without knowing it which is great because you don’t have the pressure.

HIP: With all this stuff that was going on did you think that it would outshine the music or that it would be an enhancement?

Dave: Kara and I are very confident in that. First, you have to make people know you are making music, but once they hear the music and the sound—they like the music.

Kara: I think we wanted to get the attention of people and then once we have their attention hopefully the record will grow on its own.

HIP: When I listen to the album I hear a lot of singles. You could probably make a bunch of money? [We all laugh]

Kara: It was funny when Jimmy heard one of the songs and he said maybe you guys are a band, but you know they were very special songs and they weren’t songs that you placed with other artists and that was strange because I’m always writing songs for other artists.

Dave: I’ve never been very good at writing a song for an artist. I’ve mainly collaborated with people. When Kara came along I just felt I was collaborating with her immediately. It just felt like a band. When jimmy came Kara was freaking out because she thought “shit, I’m going to have to pay him back for the trip.” Fortunately he listened to them and said, “wow you’re a great band an then there was the deal and we signed.”

HIP: It’s interesting that you go into doing a song and you end up keeping it.

Kara: I think when you write a song that you aren’t suppose to be writing you can make the decision “oh it’s not a good song” or if it’s a great song you go with it. We would try to write those songs but each time we came up with something much more centered.

HIP: Kara, was working with Dave something natural?

Dave: It’s hard to explain. When two people get together you have different dynamics. What happened with us instantly was we had the same sense of humor and had fun but every time I heard a chord and she sang a note that kind of made something unique a Platinum Weird song and immediately sounds like Platinum Weird. I’ve not had that many times with people. But this was so strong and each time it just sounded like it. So it was like we were a band and now we are.

Kara: When we each went through the list of songs that we individually wrote there wasn’t one song that didn’t sound like us.

Dave: When we write something separate they are someone else’s songs and when we write something together they sounds like Platinum Weird songs. For some reason I keep getting drawn onto twelve string guitar.[Laughs]

HIP: Kara, are you still writing songs for other people?

Kara: It’s become more of a fun task. It’s pulling from a different side of me. One side is Platinum and the other side of me is a writer.

Dave: Well it’s basically like she goes to work everyday but she comes home to me. [Laughs]

Kara: What’s great is that I can really bend. I don’t need to be as present in my co-writes in terms of my experience. I can base it off of my artists and what to make them better. In some ways it makes me a better co-writer for them.

HIP: I didn’t see any info on shows—what’s the plan?

Dave: We weren’t doing any shows because we’re going through the process of trading all the stuff. The reason why we’re doing this is because we want to do this live. Kara is one of the best rock and roll girl performers I’ve ever recorded and played with. When she performs them live she puts so much into it.

+ Charlie Craine

Shareefa – Interview

Shareefa

In an age when everything from fashion to furniture reeks of prefabrication, it is rare to find a genuine realness even in soul music. As the one genre of music that should send shivers through ones body while still managing to touch your heart, much of today’s R&B feels as though more thought has gone into the choreography than the songs. And then, there is Shareefa.

The first soul woman signed to Disturbing the Peace/Def Jam, this Newark, New Jersey native introduces her special realness on the debut disc Point of No Return. Recruiting studio vets Chucky Thompson, Salaam Remi (How Good Love Feels), Rodney Jerkins and newcomers the Justice League (Butterfly), the mature voiced twenty-three year old Shareefa has created something special.

We talk to Shareefa about life and her new album Point of No Return.

HIP: First I have to ask, how was working with Teddy Riley?

SHAREFFA: I worked off and on with him for three years and I learned a lot from him.

SHAREEFA

Three years was a long time. Did you ever get frustrated because you probably thought at the end of three years you’d have an album out?

Of course. I was definitely aggravated because I though the songs and things I was doing wasn’t being seen seriously. He didn’t seem to have much time for me. But it was in the mist of him trying to do things with Blackstreet guy. I was angry but I wouldn’t change anything because it taught me how to work in a studio and it got me to where I am today.

How old were you when you hooked up with Ludacris.

Two years ago. I did a demo and had twelve songs and a friend of mine handed it to Jeff Dixon (Executive Producer) of Distrubing tha Peace at TRL and it was on from there.

Did you ever start to feel insecure during that time with Teddy when it wasn’t going anywhere?

No. (Laughs) Not at all. I just figured it wasn’t time. I was so excited that I was meeting people of that status. When you get frustrated you say to yourself “look where I’m at.”

Plus you were sixteen and seventeen so you are still wide-eyed.

Right.

How did your friends react?

They were ecstatic and now they say “I saw you on TV” and stuff.

But when you hung-out with your friends Teddy Riley was one thing but Ludacris is a whole other thing.

[Laughs] Right. With Teddy they were like “who is that” for kids that is young. I mean our mothers and stuff love him but…

When you hooked up with Luda…

…With Luda—that travels all over the world. With Teddy he is that guy you know from that boy group. With Chris its like “she signed with Ludacris” and everyone was like “Whaaaaaat!”

SHAREEFA

How was the transition to Disturbing Tha Peace?

It takes like a minute to mold yourself into this whole industry type life and the music thing. It has to be the right song, right look, right time. It takes time. What time is it? [Laughs]

When you are working with Rodney Jerkins was it exciting or intimidating.

Exciting because when I’m in the studio I’m gonna do what I do baby. [Laughs]

When did you know you could sing?

Ever since I was out of the womb. [Laughs] The doctors told me it sounded like I was singing when I was crying. Serious, when I was six or seven. I was in front of the camera trying to sing like Patti LaBelle.

What did your family think?

They didn’t know I could sing until right before I got signed. My brother knew growing up because he always told me to shut up. But my mother was shocked about me being able to sing the way I could. She was like “I never knew.”

+ Charlie Craine