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Stars on Comedy Bang! Bang!

Posted by Joel Weichbrodt on Mar 30, 2015 7:12:21 AM

For those unfamiliar, Comedy Bang! Bang! is a long-running podcast, previously titled Comedy Death-Ray, and more recently and additionally, a half-hour television show on IFC.

CBB began as something of a comedy variety show, showcasing songs, sketches and the like. It was also a place to find many acts' talents (Doug Benson, Nick Kroll, Paul F. Tompkins and Chris Hardwick, to name a few) long prior to their attainment of dues from a larger audience. Eventually, it turned into a "finely honed" machine of accessibly absurdist "interviews". The idea is host Scott Aukerman starts the show off in a typical interview podcast format, only for it to be crashed by someone (or multiple people) playing a character (due to Aukerman's "open door policy"). Sometimes the character is an original, other times an original concept, sometimes an impression, but the show quickly deters from its standard format into something of a "yes, and" improv gauntlet of who can keep up more quickly with the premise. It's utterly ridiculous and amazing to listen to.

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Topics: Emo, Indie, 2015, Podcasts

No Context For Robyn Robotron

Posted by Joel Weichbrodt on Mar 23, 2015 8:14:00 AM

Last year, I started this No Context For series for two reasons:
1 - There are a lot of interesting viewpoints that get left out of the overall music conversation, simply because there's nothing "official" to attribute to that person.
2 - I wanted an excuse to collaborate with the folks who have these takes.

I happened upon one Robyn Robotron at her now-defunct show, Scabaret. It became evident immediately that she was a force to be reckoned with, and such a strong personality is something I very much appreciate. As time passed, it became clear that Robyn is quite self-aware and outright with her thoughts on a great many ideas, notions, opinions, etc. From this interviewer's perspective, that's the goldmine combination - honest with self, honest with others.

Recently, I decided to get a bit out of my comfort zone and start doing these NCFs with people I don't know as well (the last run was with a few close friends). That approach is a bit less predictable and variables are high in both number and potential issues (especially since these don't tend to be folks who are used to doing interviews), so I couldn't be happier that Robyn was very willing and forthcoming with answering my questions. As tends to be the way with NCFs, this doesn't (for the most part) follow the traditional interview path, so do enjoy our back and forth, and hopefully this provides you with more context for Robyn Robotron than you previously had.

Robyn, you're the first person I've asked to do this that I actually don't have much context for to begin with, so this is some new info to me, as well. What do you think I should know about you that I may not, as we get started?

Let's see, I'm a 36 year old, stay at home mom from Oklahoma who's lived in Portland since 2008. I'm a white, cisgender feminist who is working towards being as intersectional with my feminism as possible (my number one tip - listen to those with less privilege than you). I get a kick from performing, in almost every way, starting with acting as a child turning into a love of karaoke as an adult (I've done a bit of "professional" performing, such as some extra tv and movie work and a few years as a backup singer/go-go dancer for Toxic Zombie {photo below-Joel}). I'm more of a fan of comedy than music (although music is still important to me). I self- identified as punk in high-school, but not so much now, even though I still hold most of the ideals and enjoy all the same music as back then (although I wouldn't begrudge anyone else who categorized me as a punk, I don't have much of an aversion to labels). I sometimes rely heavily on parentheses (and brackets).

Now, I'm wondering what inspired you to ask me to do this, other than the awesomeness of our mutual friend.

I asked you to do this because I'm super interested in the relationship music has to the other aspects of your life. We do indeed have a fine assortment of mutual friends, and I figured there's no way there would be nothing there as far as a music aspect is concerned. And I've already learned a few things about you - this is going to be awesome!

So, how did punk manifest itself, say then vs. now? How did that play into things?

My parents where a bit on the older side, and I was an only child (which means no older siblings to influence me). Because of this, when I was little, I mainly listened to '50s and '60s music on the oldies station (it's a tad disturbing when I go home now and that same station plays '80s and '90s music {which begs the question, where does one hear '50s and '60s music on the radio these days?}). I didn't start noticing new music until around 1992, when grunge broke, and I was all about Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers. I also got my first boyfriend that year, and he told me there was this movie I needed to see, Sid and Nancy, and that was my introduction to the Sex Pistols and punk rock in general. (It's funny, I used to wish I could go back in time and save Sid Vicious, but if I had, they wouldn't have made a movie about him and it would have been a paradox.) It seems like such a strange way to discover music compared to today, where everything is available. Back then, if it wasn't on MTV or the radio, you had to know someone who already knew what was up. Anyway, I went from listening to whatever they were playing on 120 Minutes on to Minor Threat, Operation Ivy, Dead Kennedys, the Misfits and so on.

How did that go over in Oklahoma in the '90s?

It was alright. I did live in a suburb of Oklahoma City, after all, not out in the country. There was a pretty vibrant punk scene in OKC in the '90s, with most of the kids coming from the the south side of OKC and Moore (that's my hometown) or Edmond (a suburb north of OKC). Most of the bands were pop-punk, with a couple of hardcore bands thrown in. Most of our shows were at armories and American Legion halls (if you'd like to see the Legion hall where I attended the most shows, look up "I Hate Robyn" by Dry Heave on Youtube {yes, the song is about me, and yes, that's the future drummer for All-American Rejects}). It's a shame none of those bands stuck it out long enough to get anywhere, because there was some great talent there. Some of those kids went on to play with bigger bands; the aforementioned All-American Rejects (obviously), one guy who recently toured with Screeching Weasel and Black Flag, and one of my best friends was in Butt Trumpet for a while and is now with Poison Idea. But, that's not quite the same as one of the 90's bands making it.

As far as dealing with shitty reactions from "normal" people, there was a bit of that, but not any more than I imagine most punk kids were dealing with in other places at the time. My mom likes to tell about when she was working at a grocery store and a woman came through the line telling her about some kids with purple hair and how someone should be watching them. My mother smiled and said "oh, that's probably my daughter and her boyfriend". It was a bit of a change moving to Portland, where there's a lot more subculture people even though the total population is about the same (when my parents came up the first time, they kept seeing people walking around that looked like me). Even today, in OKC, the subculture community is so small that there is a lot of overlap. I used to go to punk shows, goth nights and raves and would see the same people at each one. Here, in Portland, not even all the punk or goth crowds hang out together, it's much more segregated and insular. Honestly, it keeps me from going to a lot of punk shows, because it's hard to get people to talk to you unless you're dressed correctly for that scene (I went to one show and I was the only person not wearing a bullet belt, for example). I'm used to a much more "anything goes" approach to subculture fashion (I like to say that I wear a costume, not a uniform).

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Topics: Music History, Live Music, Punk Rock, 2015, Portland, No Context For

Henry And Heidi, comfort levels and honesty

Posted by Joel Weichbrodt on Mar 16, 2015 8:14:00 AM

There's something utterly fascinating to me about what people are willing to be open about and what they choose to keep hidden or censored. How does the conscious vs. the subconscious prioritize what we let on and what we don't? How do we choose who sees what side of us? How aware are we, really?

And what value do we really place on an honest portrayal of oneself? If we've learned anything from folks like Dan Harmon, it's that honesty comes with a price - career, relationships and everything else fall victim. Do we want to see or hear everything, or just what parts we want? Maybe with a hint of extra honesty, but not too much at once?

I hear frequently that honesty is a highly desirable trait. I'm not so sure it is. Were we all honest with each other, I'm not so sure we'd have anything to be fond of. We like a degree of polish.

For Henry Rollins, it seems to have been a very thought-out process; I'd always been under the impression that this element was very calculated and purposeful within his work, even precision-tuned for maximum efficiency. Having followed his career and ingested more hours of him talking, either by himself or to others, than damn near any other singular entity, I found this to be a warranted assumption, albeit low stakes and hardly controversial.

Personally, I'm highly tactful (most of the time) with whom I share specific information about myself. I confine certain topics and ideas to certain people or outlets, and I rarely let on everything to any one single person. That which I feel no need to defend or prove typically sees more light of day, as with those I'm most comfortable around (or whose opinions I don't care whatsoever about).

The most comfortable I'd previously heard or seen Mr. Rollins prior to recently was spoken word shows. Him, a stage and an audience seemed the magic combo to get as close to the real Henry as an audience member could. Couple that with a series of podcast appearances over the last few years and it seemed we'd gotten as much of a glimpse into the mind of our hero as we'd ever get.

It should also be noted that anyone he speaks to or with, without fail, has a degree of reverence toward whatever facet of Henry Rollins they most identify with. Sometimes it's just that he's recognizable, although there's usually some sort of granular knowledge playing in. This allows for certain aspects of full-blown honesty and openness to manifest, but nonetheless sees little use for personal life-level interaction to be observed.

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Topics: Music History, Live Music, Punk Rock, 2015, Hardcore, Podcasts

The Vicious Rumor: Dustin Herron (Abolitionist, 1859 Records) Interview

Posted by Joel Weichbrodt on Mar 9, 2015 11:46:00 AM

You know what the best part about having a forum for my whims is? Well, basically that.

For example, maybe one day I'm digging the most recent release from the Abolitionist camp, The Vicious Rumor, and I think to myself, "I wonder what goes through the mind of Dustin Herron when it comes to writing punk rock songs?". Then, instead of leaving it at that like I probably should, I just get ahold of him and bug him about it. And here we are.

Abolitionist has been a staple of the Portland punk party for a minute now. Whenever the name is brought up, inevitably it will be accompanied by the perception that Dustin is a busy fellow. I decided to investigate that a bit, as well as a bunch of punk rock stuffs, and this is what came of that exchange. A huge thanks to Dustin for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer a bunch of questions from a curious fan and fellow busy person.

I was recently talking to a mutual friend of ours, and he told me you're the busiest person he knows. What does that entail, and how do you keep it up?

Wow, who said that? Haha, I didn't realize it was that obvious. Without getting too wordy, let's just say I have a lot of "irons in the fire"... I've always been like that, though. I get stoked/bored easily, and it's probably a little too consistent to be a real definable mental illness; I think my personality is such that I just like to keep busy.
I work as a full-time registered nurse and I'm constantly stimulated/engaged in that environment, which I guess I enjoy (I also used to be a paramedic). I'm also an active trail runner (which helps keep me mentally balanced), run a record label (1859), tape label (Death Culture Tapes), have a long-time girlfriend (who's also an RN), and write tunes under the guise of Abolitionist when I'm feeling particularly creative (and have time) ... Read More

Topics: Punk Rock, 2015, Record Labels, Portland

Jetsetter Epilogue - Matt Danger On Charging For Music/Services

Posted by Joel Weichbrodt on Mar 6, 2015 9:59:05 AM

After we finished the 3 part interview you may have read awhile back, Matt Danger and I continued an e-mail back and forth, expanding on ideas about charging for music and music-related services in the internet age. With his permission, I'm posting the parts you may find interesting as an epilogue of sorts. You may find details to disagree with or do differently yourself, but I love getting a well thought-out take on anything. Hopefully you do, too. Enjoy!

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Topics: Live Music, Pop-Punk, Support Music, Punk Rock, 2015, Record Labels, Portland

Video Premiere and Review: Sammy Warm Hands - Famous Last Words + "Anti-Fun" video

Posted by Joel Weichbrodt on Mar 3, 2015 11:39:00 AM

A huge thanks to Sammy Warm Hands for gifting Sound Convictions his freshly finished video for "Anti-Fun", off his upcoming release. It can be found further down, in context. In the interim, this is my review of the forthcoming ear candy from the SWH camp.

Between the time I found an advance copy of Famous Last Words in my inbox and the time I'm writing this, I listened to the the upcoming Sammy Warm Hands album 30 times and wrote almost exactly 6000 words about it.

As I was typing all that up, with Famous Last Words on a loop in the background, it occurred to me that I'm really full of shit and really in love with breaking things down. As I thought about it more, I realized that's not my job at all. That belongs to the creator(s). My job is to find a way to articulate why I get what I do out of it.

So, here's that articulation. Take from it what you will.

Sam's music, since I first came across it, has done something special for me. Sometimes it reminds me of things I should keep in mind more often. Or that I should just sit back and enjoy the songs. Or that I should check out some of these features I'm not familiar with. Or reinforcing my take on something. Or reminding me that everyone has a different story. And on and on.

Whatever the case, I find Sammy Warm Hands to embody a side of me most can't relate to and I don't put out there very often. Maybe you have something or someone who functions as your vicarious self. That's a special thing, and I know it's very personal, so that's where I'm coming from as I relay my thoughts to you, as someone with an entirely different relationship with our titular character. In an effort to be more transparent and less masturbatory here, I figure you should be aware of my bias. Onward we go.

There's a big difference between proving something and owning something. Many attempt to masquerade one as the other, but what tends to be frequently missed is genuinely owning something requires bravery. It requires opening yourself up to what many consider vulnerabilities. The rap game isn't big on vulnerability, and in turn, those who have it hide it behind whatever their particular scene deems invulnerable. This requires a degree of disingenuous approach that, to whatever end, cannot be considered heroic by any measure of the word. Heroism requires risk.

Famous Last Words seeks to prove nothing other than SWH can put together not only a solid track, but a cohesive album. What it succeeds in doing very well is owning every word of itself, warts and all. Notably absent, largely, is cockiness and angst. Notably present is a new air of acceptance and ownership of self/scenario and, perhaps most importantly, an open invitation to the listener into the mind of someone who puts their life on wax. This is what progression as an artist sounds like.

Of course, it's not obvious at first. In fact, the opening line of the album ("Worst name in the rap game/attack like Bane/knock you down proper/to your knees like back pain") would certainly seem contradictory to the not having to prove himself idea. What happens from there, however, is the immediate admission that he's far from "the coolest around".

As the first track ("Famous Last Words (Nobody Gives A Fuck)") moves forward, it becomes clear that Sam's self-awareness level is at its peak, and the first bar of brag rap (and interspersed lines throughout) exist simply as a reminder that he's no newbie. As the process behind his view of his own difficulties within the world of writing and releasing music is revealed, a new and entirely its own monster of difficulty presents itself in the form of an audience - getting anyone to give a fuck about any of it.

There's a fine line between confidence and cockiness. The cocky would blame the usual suspects for not "getting it", victimizing themself for their chosen path and generally scapegoating the world. The confident way to handle this idea is to accept it and move on. And that's what Sam does. That's why this song is so brilliant - it doesn't try to prove a point. It simply brings to the forefront something maybe you don't think about very often. This is the song that no one can argue with. No one is alienated, everyone takes something from it, and the album fluidly continues. Genius.

As opposed to a "this is me, deal with it" approach, Sam continues his choice to invite the listener into his life as an artist with "Before Doors Open", an ode to what goes into touring without label or corporate support. Straight DIY. Again, this is very much an open door take, with zero blame placed on anyone, reminiscent of Brother Ali's "Backstage Pacin'" as far as tone is concerned. ThatKidCry drops a few quick bars and finishes the track off with gusto like a pro.

It should be noted at this point that the K.I. Design beats coupled with Sam's production take on a "less is more" approach to these songs that is serious Wu-Tang level stuff. Or, if you prefer, Lucy Ford-era Atmosphere comes to mind. It takes a keen ear to turn a standard setup into something you could pick out of a lineup. If life is fair, many will take notice. Props.

Sam's very constructive when it comes to social and sociopolitical topics, but FLW's third track may be the most controversial issue he's tackled. Initially an a cappella YouTube video of his take on the occurrences in Ferguson, MO, Sam chose to fledge "Ferguson Freewrite" out into a full blown track. This came unexpectedly, but the more I listen, the less eyebrow-raising the song is. "Ferguson Freewrite" tackles a tough and complex issue in a short timespan, but doesn't give itself any loopholes or ways out, and ends up making more sense with every listen. The overall theme of taking responsibility really shines here.

Perhaps the most telling moment on FLW lies in a very genuine occurrence at the end of "Ferguson": the voice of a Rabbi comes on via (assumedly) a voicemail.

Aside from the fact that SWH is a decidedly non-religiously affiliated performer, which is neither here nor there, one wouldn't be entirely unwarranted in the assumption that some opportunistic play is afoot. Maybe the utilization of an agenda of some sort to be amplified by this unexpected clergy feature? It wouldn't be the first time someone has used that tactic.

Instead, we hear a message to Sammy, full of love and grace and hope, play out atop the beat.

That's it.

I can't tell you how many ways I wrote out my thoughts on this, how speculative I may have been about potential reasoning or how I heard it differently each time I listened. What I can tell you is just how perfectly it accompanies the song, and that what ultimately matters. If you're like me, you'll want to know every detail about Rabbi Hanan Sills and how he got featured on this album. (Also, he introduced me to a new word.)

There's a certain peace that fills the air during Rabbi Sills' words over an understated piano beat. I didn't expect it, and I definitely don't know that it would have been appropriate to a SWH song before this album, but upon my first listen, this is when I started really paying attention.

Which is good, because the picture painted on the following track, "Midnight", requires some focus to gain the full effect.

I recall Patton Oswalt saying something about how he won't write a joke unless there's a "reveal" somewhere in it. That is to say, we have to learn something between start and finish, otherwise there's little point in putting any effort in. Obviously, this isn't directly translatable to music, but we all know those moments when this tactic is skillfully employed. There's a lot of that going on here.

"Midnight" refers to the hour in which the story's female protagonist has to continually and forcibly decide to continue the day after day grinding diligently toward an end goal. It details a typical day in the life of someone who has to fight and work herself silly to achieve her goal, in itself a strong story, but reveals halfway through that this character is Sam's wife.

There's something so loving and honest in the way Sam has written her into his story through song (if you're familiar with Sam's work, you may recall a particularly honest song about their relationship from a couple albums back). He doesn't paint her as anything she's not, but gives her every due he can, and it's never, ever cheesy or derivative. His words come through very truthful and very real, and very appreciative. Somehow, he avoids the pitfall of "emo rap" in the process, as well, which is far too easy a go-to in similar instances.

From there, we're eased back in via a damn-near-perfect track featuring Man Danno, wherein our heroes trade bars in order of 4, 8 and 16. The two wildly differing styles somehow compliment each other to a T, switching so effortlessly you'd think you were listening to the second half of Felt 2. I look forward to this one every time. If ever there was a feel-good Sammy song, this is it. I'd even wager this could stand next to any of your favorite Rhymesayers, Mass Appeal, Viper or Def Jux tracks. Goddamn, this is a sick song.

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Topics: Music Books, Live Music, Album Reviews, Indie, Support Music, 2015, Record Labels, Hip Hop/Rap

The Music Podcast and Me, v1.5

Posted by Joel Weichbrodt on Feb 26, 2015 9:00:00 AM

I'm a researcher.

If anything interests me in the least, I find out more about it. The more interesting, pertinent, relevant or time-sensitive, the deeper I go. It's ingrained in me to ascertain much information as possible (or at least feasible given whatever constraints) about anything I care about.

When I first really got into music, I'd do my damnedest to research different aspects of specifics I was interested in. The problem I encountered was there was little to be found. The Internet was in its infancy then (this would be early-mid '90s), so my info was relegated to very-difficult-to-find magazines, even-more-difficult-to-find books, zines, liner notes and second hand info and stories.

These were also times when one had to actually engage with others to ascertain information about bands who weren't on an Epitaph-esque or higher level of label. There was footwork involved. Local bands? Better find someone in the know. I digress.

First hand info was next to impossible to come by where I was, but I took any opportunity that presented itself to ask questions and get answers straight from the source. I started going to music festivals and realized I could bug the shit out of a lot more people. A great deal of folks took inordinate amounts of time out of their day to listen to me tell them how great they were before asking the most obnoxiously specific questions I could think of. I'm excitable.

Fast forward to now - I've damn near accidentally contacted these same folks; tags on social media, sharing of stuffs and whatnot. It's not uncommon to see a notification from someone who's music I dig, only to think, "Did I contact them at some point?"

The idea in bringing this up is to highlight my favorite area to glean more information about the music I'm so fond of: podcasts.

I've mentioned this before, even had a few podcasters I admire submit to interviews and such, but I really want to highlight why the podcast medium is so great for the music medium.

There are certain intricacies in tone of voice that require exponentially more typed out words to get across, often still without doing them justice. Hearing the excitement, musing, hope, sadness, humor, etc. while listening to someone talk about what was, is and will be just does wonders for me. Especially if it's someone I desperately want to hear more from.

Over the last few years, the podcast medium has really taken off, and with it more and more guests, both niche and broad, have been shedding light on their experiences. And you can just download it on your phone or computer or similar device and listen to it whenever you want! I'm still excitable. Sue me.

Maybe I appreciate this so much because of my age, where I can still accurately recall just how difficult it was to come across any of this information I now get so easily. For that matter, I can now get any of those albums I could never find, were so rare I didn't know of them, or I had completely forgotten about. Luddites, I feel you, but I'm excited every day about all of this.

When I go to update my absurdly long podcast list, I get unbelievably excited when a new episode of a music podcast I love pops up. Sometimes time doesn't allow for more than a select few to be ingested, but there's something to be gleaned from, literally, every single one. Everyone's different experiences make up the whole, so even those I'm unfamiliar with or not terribly excited about are still giant wells of information, first hand no less.

At least one podcast exists for damn near anything you're interested in. Looking for new music or ideas for stuff to listen to? You have choices. A lot of them. Want to know what's going on with your "where are they now"s? Type a name into the search bar. They'll probably pop up on someone's podcast. Maybe they have their own! Don't care what anyone has to say and only want to hear music? Someone has curated a show for you.

I'm still somewhat in disbelief. Podcasting seems like it was built for people like me. I should probably get to the point.

I lost my driver's license about 9 years ago for reasons that aren't what you think, but were nonetheless valid. Due to this, I spent a lot of time on public transit, so I bought an iPod. I was always looking for new stuff to listen to, and came across podcasts fairly early in the formation of the medium. From this, I was provided with an endless amount of free content that I could specify to my liking. I could use it for research, comedy, music, whatever I wanted.

As time went on and life threw an unusually heavy amount of curveballs at me and mine, I had less and less time to give in person to anyone, and my social contact was relegated mostly to online activities and other things I could do either at home or in the car. One upside of that is I'm writing this, some 200+ articles and posts into my tenure at Sound Convictions. The other upside is all the music and podcasts I get to listen to.

These people who give of their time and resources to bring content into the world in support of things they love have really meant a lot to me. I've made some wonderful friends over time because of the large context these folks play into in my life. You may have your version of celebrity; mine is the folks who support music worth supporting, either by playing it, promoting it, ingesting it, buying it, showing up for it and, in this instance, doing podcasts about it.

These are the people I can get behind. These are they who labor out of love.
These are people and shows I've formed relationships with. These are people who pay for you to have content for your listening pleasure. Sure, it seems disposable to some, but so does everything I put out there. To us who do it because we care, this isn't disposable; this means everything to us. This is how we give back.

Oh, man. You're still reading. Sorry about all that.

Since it's been almost exactly 2 years since I really dug into this area of music, I thought I'd go back to the initial 6 I made mention of , along with several more I've been digging since, with a few new words to give you an idea of what they're about and what you're in for. Also, these are all available with a very quick search on iTunes or whatever app you utilize for such things. The links provided are to the official (or closest I can come to official) site.

KEXP Live Performances
This comes from a listener-funded radio station in Seattle and has possibly the highest audio quality of any music podcast, period. Acts playing in or living in the area stop by for 20 minutes to a half hour, play a few songs and talk a little about what they're up to or about the songs they're playing. This is the podcast equivalent of Vice or Stereogum, as far as guests are concerned, but getting to hear acoustic or just different versions of songs is pretty awesome, if there's someone on you deem interesting.

Nothing To Write Home About 
Matt Pryor's (The Get Up Kids, The New Amsterdams, Lasorda, Terrible Twos, solo work, generally awesome person) when-he-feels-like-it show contains some of the better behind-the-scenes talk regarding varying facets of the music industry. At the same time, he's something of a Marc Maron-esque figure, in that he's very quick to question anything that doesn't make sense to him, rather than the ego stroking one may find on like-minded podcasts. Also like Maron, his growth as a podcaster and empath is notable since starting this show. Weekly
As previously stated, this is about half for those who like to keep up with news and editorial within today's punk-related scene, and half for general punk rock enthusiasts. Lots of short interviews, song premieres, etc. Sometimes they're worth listening all the way through for, sometimes not, entirely depending on how much you care about "punk news".

Food Is The New Rock
The idea behind FITNR is so brilliant that I'm surprised I don't listen religiously. The idea is to talk to musicians about food and chefs/food celebs about music. Maybe I don't take them all in because there's more of an overall emphasis on food, something I'm far less discrete about, but the quality of the show is almost incomparable within the realm of like-minded programs. If you like both of those things talked about at length by folks who have great things to say in regard to both, I highly recommend this show. If not, pick through guests, as I'm sure you'll encounter a few to your liking/curiosity.

Washed Up Emo 
Tom Mullen's righteous crusade to ensure the golden age of emo's memory is kept in appropriate perspective and reverence hasn't gone unnoticed by an ever-increasing number of fans and musicians alike. Washed Up Emo's love, care and sheer force of will have served the emo community well, giving it something of a hub for both young and old with equal respect for both.

100 Words Or Less
Ray Harkins' brainchild is one of the few podcasts of which I'll heartily suggest you listen to every episode. If you have any interest at all in any aspect of independent music or the culture therein, these conversations are invaluable for their takes on scene history, stories and ideas. There is a cross-correlation between damn near every aspect of scenes within the indie music world, and the insights found here alone are worth your time. Also, the website is its own force to be reckoned with.

Jonah Raydio
The titular Jonah Ray (The Nerdist podcast, The Meltdown) and friends provide an almost entirely listener-provided amalgam of songs to soundtrack their otherwise mostly nonsensical, inebriated inside jokes. Guests are random and occasionally of household name status, although you just have to listen to find out because they don't bother telling you beforehand, aside from an occasional hint in the episode title. You'll have to determine for yourself if this is your cup of tea, but the music tends to be pretty great and of the variety you'd probably not stumble across.

This Is Rad! 
Slight conflict of interest aside, my buddy Kyle Clark (who you may recognize as the fellow laughing in the background of most of The Nerdist podcasts), alongside Matthew Burnside and Natalie Hazen (Nerdterns) discuss one rad topic an episode, usually with a guest or two. The subject matter varies episode to episode, but when music gets discussed, I promise you there will be something there you've never considered. Kyle alone is a genius and human encyclopedia of everything, and combining him with anything/one of interest just may blow your mind. Just look for an episode centered around some aspect of music.

Dying Scene Podcast 
The good folks at by far the furthest-reaching and granular news source for punk-related goings on do interviews, album reviews, curate playlists, etc. Basically, they're you and your friends bullshitting about music, only taken very seriously and in a celebratory manner by those who genuinely love it and dig deep.

Jake Bannon (Converge, Deathwish Records, tons of other cool stuff) talks to folks involved in hardcore, a lot of the time centered around the Deathwish community. If either of those things piques your interest, you'll love this. If not, chances are you'll get nothing out of it whatsoever, although I recommend giving a couple episodes a try. You never know when interesting info will pop up.

Hymns To The Dead Goddess
Even more specific comes a podcast not updated for over a year, but stands as an indispensable piece of history. Up for you to lose months researching, inside Hymns are contained some of the most dug for, sought out, how-the-fuck-did-you-ever-come-across-this-amazing-shit music I've ever encountered. Lovingly curated metal, crust and the like that was a better resource for new (or new-to-you), interesting music than all of your friends combined. Your most high-quality, obscure-reference-oriented go-tos have never even heard of this stuff. Absolutely indispensable, provided that's your bag. And it's entirely focused on the women who provide the music. Does it get better than this? I don't know. All praise to Lilith.

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Topics: Live Music, Pop-Punk, Emo, Indie, Punk Rock, 2015, Ska, Metal, Hardcore, Podcasts

A Short Ode To An Old Pennywise Album

Posted by Joel Weichbrodt on Feb 23, 2015 6:42:00 AM

One of my favorite things about music in general is everything else that comes along with it.

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Topics: Album Reviews, Punk Rock, 2015

Jetsetter: Matt Danger Interview Part 3/3

Posted by Joel Weichbrodt on Feb 21, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Continued from Part 2

Within most of these responses lie the answers to a bunch of questions I was going to ask, so I'm going to refer back to a question I used to ask a lot:

You can only listen to 5 albums for the rest of your life; what are they?

5 albums for the rest of my life would drive me into a spiral, but here we go:

Aerosmith - Get A Grip
Alkaline Trio - Goddamnit
Fats Domino - Live From Austin, TX
Angels & Airwaves - Love Part 1 & 2
Face To Face - Ignorance Is Bliss

If I had a sixth: Transplants' Haunted Cities or 36 Drive's Trust In Chance EP.
... Maybe Andrew WK's The Wolf just to stay pumped.

Wow, that was a bit unexpected, but a damn good list. I don't think I've gone more than a month in a decade plus without listening to Goddamnit. I like that question because it places someone in a scenario that would never happen, yet we take the list so seriously.

I only have a couple more questions.

My take on this has been fairly well established, but I'm curious about your take on being in a 3 piece band vs. any other number of members - the dynamics of performing, writing music and such.

Again: excellent question.

As I commented early, I believe three is the magic number.

This extends far beyond being on stage with each other, or just music. Economically speaking, three is the right amount of cooks in a kitchen for me. It's triangular and allows this kind of equilibrium of mental energy that always finds a trump because it's democratic by nature so you're always reaching a point of breakthrough that rarely gates the process. Plus, in four piece groups two members usually group up and then the other two members group up and you've got this off-kilter box of communication where one person is more likely to become dissonant & apathetic, which can be contagious until everyone just goes, "meh- fuck it, I'm out". Not to say there is no proof of successful four piece acts, but with music, as with sketch comedy groups, or your writing group in college, three seems to forgo many of the woes and nuisances that can overcome groups starting out.

I've drummed for four & five piece bands with a singer, six with three guitarists and a singer, live five piece hip hop bands with two front men, brought in a second guitarist in Ninjas for a couple years here and there, and I even tried to replace myself as the singer of Ninjas once and changed the name to have just a front man represent and me on guitar doing backups- all of them (for me) suffered from infrastructural problems at the core. Ride sharing, loading in & out, enthusiasm, commitment, financial, moral, & communication problems. Three gets it done: no bullshit, no dead weight, no excuses. Most importantly, everyone is responsible for their specialized task.

I started thinking of it as a company: When you go to Home Depot, for example, there is a manager of every different section so they have complete discretion over their skill set and communication with their other sections about what they need or don't have and fix it right away on the spot. Richie Petrtillo is the manager & master of the low-decibel section in Ninjas With Syringes- so I listen to him (not tell him) about what's best for the song in question. Subtext: SHOP AT HOME DEPOT.

I bring a lot of the ideas and raw materials to the table, but a good bandmate and partner knows what to do within the framework of the piece. Same thing for our newly acquired drummer Steve Simmons (also the percussionist of The Brass): he is the master of his domain and I trust him as a musician to do the right thing after he's worked with it enough in the practice room to deliver. Some people's playing just moves & soothes you and for me, this is synonymous with trust. The worst thing you can do in a band is over-micromanage and if you're overly concerning yourself with other people's business, you really aren't focusing on what you should be doing- and much worse, stressing. So it's silly (illogical) because everyone who comes out to shows is there to relax and wants to be around the aura of a band having a good time in some sense, both on & off stage- and it really throws people for a loop or worse, they take it personally when you're not allowing yourself to be in your element. It's why people hire management to delegate responsibilities: to help carry the load. Allow yourself the gift to be in your element. For me, I found that as a three-piece. Three-piece suits, three-piece bikinis, three-piece bands. Just look at the Bermuda Triangle, or three-ways. Vintage.

I will say one thing that is nice about having a second guitarist (when it make sense) is to help carry the weight and allowing the front man to break away from his instrument. Rise Against does this particularly well and it creates atmosphere of spontaneity, live, critical to the performance, allowing them to give fans that little extra of themselves. I used to think it was lame or something whenever a 3-piece band brought in a background guy to help strum- but I realized I was being a cynical jerk. Do what you want and what is best for the experience holistically, and keep your politics at the door. This is entertainment.

In regards to writing, my old process was doing everything myself. I used to book studio time and just bust everything out on my own because I had put in the time on each instrument to feel confident in my abilities to have no hangups. We would just roll tape and I would plow through a bunch of drum tracks- sometimes in one take and be like "next", then just keep em coming. Same thing for bass, guitar, vocals, etc. Let's just have fun and put out an awesome record! This was my approach to Oceanographer in 2010 at Backline Records, where I went back to do Jetsetter, both we used clicks for. Roadrunner I did without a click which gave it an unabashed energy at Irican Productions with my friend Robert Rios [Faithless Saints]. These records all came out great but were really just a bunch of stuff I made up myself that we turned into albums with artwork and plastic wrap.

Finding people to work with again who you can trust has taken me the larger part of my young life. Some bands are lucky and they just find those people to work with right away- and to them I say, "Yes! Hold on to what you've got". It's a gift that has fallen into your lap and may not realize it's true value until it's gone. I had that in Drawback. I thought I had it many different times in Ninjas, but I was wrong. I also let a lot of people down over the course of my time working things out - and to them I can firmly say, "I am sorry", and to those who took advantage of my trust - "go fuck yourself". I am a big fan of using the scientific method: cross each experience off the list and log its findings; try it yourself and gauge your own results. It's just like sex: what works for one person, may not work for someone else, and inversely. Surely, consider people's good natured advice and where it's coming from, but also why, and above all else: take responsibility for your own experiences. I refuse to accept someone else's life (much less the TV) in place of my own. Even when that advice may be perfectly practical or seem rational at the time. Learn for yourself and come to know it in your own way and it will give you a deeper, more rewarding understanding in the end. If nothing else, a sense of respect for life. Decide for yourself and don't be afraid to fail even if it costs you some friendships along the way. You'll find new ones that are much better, if not reciprocatory.

My outlook is if [being in a band or] chasing your dreams was easy, everyone would do it (more than they are now), and I like the people who are trying more than the people who are doing a it for money, most of whom already went back to their cubicles - I insist that this be hard. I demand that it seem impossible at times because it keeps those disingenuous attitudes and people away who have no business in the business, who will lose heart because they put it in their wallet. Those flippantly interested, who turn back at the first obstacle, or sense of unease, or financial hardship will not endure. And not only love it, but thrive on it. It keeps the scene and the sacred altar of the stage alive & well, and fresh. It's why these bloated-bottoming corporations keep trying to co-opt rock'n'roll and comedians into their fold. Keep this special, keep it sacred, and above all else, it keeps it Dangerous®.

There is no reward without risk, certainly, but there can still be no reward with risk. Therein resides the utility and the test. I love a challenge. And I don't want to listen to safe music any more than I would want to take someone else's word for the gift of this adventure, resigning to default by way of a canned & bland experience as we make our way through life, and you (not you, Joel- you seem cool) should want the same thing for yourself: more. That is all. *drops mic and puts a hand on a bros chest* #LIVEMAS

Well, Matt, I think we scraped the surface. I don't have anything else to ask that wouldn't be getting into ultra-specific (read: only passively interesting to a very select few) territory. Or just completely unrelated to the established context.

Do you have anything to say, in parting, that perhaps we didn't cover or cover enough? This is your opportunity to put anything else out there you'd like.

And thanks again for all the time you've given this. I really appreciate it!

Thank you for the great questions! I had a lot of fun doing this interview, Joel.

Closing advice: You can't judge people and be free at the same time; tour; always leave the toilet seat cleaner than when you found it; experiment; don't drink too much unless you need to; avoid condoms; brush & floss; read... And above all else: be the captain of your own ship. We've all been a crewman on a ship of fools at some point, be it a job, relationship, or creative endeavor. Break out. Make big plans, dream more elaborately and expansively than everyone else who is in your own way, and most importantly- work for it. This journey is endless, and the only people that can ever hold us captive is the prison of ourselves. Free yourself and the rest will follow.

One historical thing I should clear up from the Ninjas books: we decided to re-record a song for the first time in Ninjas history for an official release, and picked the first song off the first album Premature, called "Pedofeelya!" which was, admittedly, an unfortunate play on words. The original title came from when me and the founding bass player, Alex Sloyer got off work and into the basement to work on music and were sharing the things we wanted to overcome- and at the end, he was like "Hey- I feel ya... Hell, I pedofeelya", which apparently was good enough for a working title / bad joke back then and it was the first song we had written at the time that we actually liked. I am proud of that song today. No matter who comes & goes in the band, it was always a mainstay of the set- which is what we prefer to close with at shows to this day. I pretty much got tired of shouting out my closing remarks at shows and yelling "this song is called "Pedofeelya!" Have a good night!" to a room full of happy, sweaty, dancing people looking at me like "Dude- what the fuck?!"

Even though humor is a big part of this band, it was still a bit of a stretch for us and for the fans. Essentially, I wanted a conscious decision to stay more classy and less trashy as my carefree days of youth faded into adulthood, risking actually saying something meaningful and lasting.

"Ninjas With Syringes" the song was always about productivity and art stemming out of boredom- and refusing to be complacent by dismissive, hurtful information we are embedded with, which we learn at a young age that some people even carry with them into their entire adult lives. It's about breaking the chains of what you're told and substituting learned experiences over most "conventional wisdom" with an open heart & mind. To fight for these values which are true to yourself. Insisting that if you haven't worked for it, you will never fully appreciate whatever the "it" is. So don't take anyone's word for it- live that shit. We renamed it "Ninjas With Syringes" for this reason- it opens the new record and is an anthem of what the entire band and way of life is about. I'm glad we finally got a recording of it that does the song justice. The original recording was slowed down, over produced (totally my fault) and my voice had not fully matured, hence the title of the album. I love playing it fast & hard live and feeling the heat risking off it. For years, people and bandmates asked me to write a song named after the band, and it was right under our noses all along. My shit eating smile has taught me many things in my time: I am a people-pleaser, which explains why I live on stage- I joke around too much because of it- I've never learned how to be too serious- but I know when and how to switch it on now.

Over the time we've been conducting this interview, I've been preoccupied wityh relaunching our distribution efforts through No Pants for Jetsetter. After experiencing some difficulties with the company we initially chose to get Jetsetter out there- (Let's just call them Ditto Music)- we decided it would be best to part ways with them. We have since been successful and are back on track. We are still, however, urging people to avoid downloading Jetsetter on the iTunes platform for the time being until it is all figured out. We have no beef with iTunes at all- only the middle man we used to get it there. All other 6 Ninjas releases are safe to buy off iTunes. But the entire new record is now available to own here on Google.Play, which offers an equally reliable user friendly experience on any device or platform, as opposed to solely Mac users.

That link for Jetsetter on Google Play is here.

We literally just got it up and running right now while I'm writing this. You can also get the new physical album Jetsetter with artwork directly from us here at our site.

That's it! There is a universe inside every one of us with endless depths and real life magic. Fill it - With Danger™. Now go on- GIT.

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Topics: Live Music, Pop-Punk, Punk Rock, 2015, Record Labels, Books, Portland

Jetsetter: Matt Danger Interview Part 2/3

Posted by Joel Weichbrodt on Feb 16, 2015 8:07:20 AM

Continued from Part 1

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Topics: Live Music, Punk Rock, 2015



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