May 20th, 2011

Rollo & Grady Interview with Charles Bradley

Rollo & Grady Interview with Charles Bradley

HEART OF GOLD

Look up soul in any dictionary: it means “strong positive feeling, as of intense sensitivity and emotional fervor.” Charles Bradley is one of the best soul singers of our generation. His raspy vocals are reminiscent of the voices of Otis Redding, Al Green, and James Brown, whose music he was covering when he was discovered in Brooklyn by Daptone Records’ co-founder, Gabriel Roth. Roth took Bradley to meet Tommy Brenneck, who plays with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Budos Band, Menahan Street Band, and runs Dunham Records.

Rollo & Grady Interview with Charles Bradley
Tommy Brenneck

Bradley’s brother had just been shot and killed, and Brenneck encouraged Bradley to open up about his life and put it on tape. Bradley’s life gave him a lot to sing about: fatherless since day one, homeless since 14, cooking in kitchens, reuniting with his family only to get terminally ill, getting better only to lose his brother. “Heartaches and Pain” is the song he wrote about the murder of his brother, and its title describes the whole of Bradley’s debut album, “No Time for Dreaming”, a heartwrenching glimpse of how to get through hard feelings and hard times with only your voice between you and giving up. Again: it’s great soul, and it gives our generation a sense of the greatness of that genre as it was in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Rollo & Grady Interview with Charles Bradley



May 2nd, 2011

Rollo & Grady Interview with James Nee

Rollo & Grady Interview with James Nee

We Are Trees is James Nee’s musical project, one that he started when he was sixteen in Virginia Beach. Nee’s voice is often compared to that of Grizzly Bear’s Dan Rossen; Nee doesn’t agree with this comparison, but the similarities are unmistakable. I would go as far as to say that a few of his tracks are superior to some of Rossen’s work with Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles, but to overemphasize the comparison would be selling We Are Trees short; Nee certainly isn’t ripping anybody off. His music is layered and complex and at the same time very mellow with engaging vocals occasionally accompanied by string arrangements. In the past year, Nee has put out two EPs: Boyfriend in July 2010 and Girlfriend in March 2011. Both were well received by music blogs and by some traditional print outlets. Boyfriend caught the attention of Collective Crowd Records, who signed the singer last year.

Rollo & Grady Interview with James Nee

Rollo & Grady Interview with James Nee



April 9th, 2011

Rollo & Grady Interview With Jared Swilley of Black Lips

Rollo & Grady Interview With Jared Swilley of Black Lips

Talking to Jared Swilley about Black Lips’ upcoming release, ‘Arabia Mountain’, I couldn’t help but feel proud: This band has matured a great deal in the past decade. Swilley says that the album is the band’s best to date and that its recording re-energized the group. And although Jared can’t promise vomiting, pissing, man-kissing, or any of the band’s usual on-stage debauchery, he can promise that this music is the best thing he and his bandmates have ever done. He is not one to bullshit about albums, he mentioned publicly that he wasn’t totally proud of their previous album, ‘200 Million Thousand’.

The Black Lips were just teenagers when they formed in Atlanta in 1999: Cole Alexander on guitar and vocals; Ben Eberbaugh on lead guitar; Jared Swilley on bass; and Joe Bradley on drums. These four cut their first album in 2002, just before Eberbaugh died in a head-on collision on a Georgia highway. The band carried on, believing that Eberbaugh would want them to continue. Ian Saint Pé, the bands current guitarist, joined the group in 2004.

Rollo & Grady Interview With Jared Swilley of Black Lips

Their music caught everyone’s attention, starting Atlanta’s “flower punk” movement, and mixing in the sounds of blues, country, garage, and the 80s. Their performances were out of control; they gave their audiences the whole package of punk, rock & roll and controversial on-stage antics.

They took their time recording ‘Arabia Mountain’, working for the first time with an outside producer: Mark Ronson. Ronson, who has worked with Nas, Adele, and Amy Winehouse, wouldn’t have been the first guy I would have thought of for the job, but it worked out really well for the band. Their friend, Lockett Pundt of Deerhunter produced two songs on the album, which was recorded and mixed in Brooklyn and Atlanta in 2010 and 2011.

‘Arabia Mountain’ will be released in June through Vice Records. Touring behind this album, they’ll play with the Vivian Girls on the East Coast and Cerebral Ballzy on the West.

Rollo & Grady Interview With Jared Swilley of Black Lips



April 6th, 2011

Rollo & Grady Interview With John McCauley III of Deer Tick

john 1

STRAIGHT INTO A STORM

John McCauley is a rock star, plain and simple. He’s an extremely talented musician with no pretense who is accessible to his fans and loves to have a good time. Like the fictional character Russell Hammond played by Billy Crudup in Almost Famous, it’s easy to envision John taking a hit of acid after a show and heading out to a late night party with his fans. He’s the kind of guy that would jump off the roof into the pool without any encouragement and without proclaiming, “I’m A Golden God.” There would be no guilty feeling the next day; he would chalk it up as a life experience. That’s the way John is wired.

Deer Tick began as a solo project in December 2004 when John was only 18 years old in Providence, Rhode Island. During that time he taught himself to play drums, guitar, piano, and pedal steel. He went on to record his critically acclaimed debut album ‘War Elephant’ at age 19. John’s distinctive, howling voice and tales of love and loss put him on the map with critics around the world. The music press anointed McCauley as one of folk/country’s most promising young songwriters.

Rollo & Grady Interview With John McCauley III of Deer Tick

John didn’t envision Deer Tick as a solo effort, so he invited Andy Tobiassen (no longer in the band), Dennis Ryan, and Chris Ryan to join the Deer Tick for their sophomore album, ‘Born On Flag Day’. At the time, John commented on the newly formed band, saying, “I tend to limit myself as far as what I write about and how I deliver my lyrics, so collaboration has been a really healthy thing for me lately. I’m kind of realizing that singing songs about getting drunk and cheating isn’t going to sustain itself for much longer. I’m going to have to broaden my horizons.”

Deer Tick’s brand of music has been described as country, folk/rock, and alt-country, but that’s selling the band short. If you see them live, you will see elements of grunge, blues, punk rock, and country ballads, with a primary focus on straight up rock n’ roll. Their live performances and non-stop touring have earned the band a loyal following of devoted supporters and fans.

In addition to performing with Deer Tick, McCauley is currently touring with Middle Brother, which is a collaboration with Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes and Matthew Vasquez of Delta Spirit. They are touring behind Middle Brother’s self-titled album, which was released last month.

Rollo & Grady Interview With John McCauley III of Deer Tick



January 14th, 2011

Rollo & Grady Interview :: Hanni El Khatib

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HANNI EL KHATIB

2011 is going to be a big year for the multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Hanni El Khatib. The San Francisco native generated industry buzz when local music blogs Passion of the Weiss and Aquarium Drunkard each presented him in shows last year. Soon after, his music was featured in the HBO series “Hung” and he landed a slot opening for Florence and The Machine.

Hanni’s music is straight up rock ‘n’ roll with a touch of soul and blues. Influences range from Johnny Cash to the Sonics, and his cover of “You Rascal You,” is a dead ringer for a Black Keys song. Still, his sound is his own, transporting a hybrid of the past and present. “Build. Destroy. Rebuild,” Khatib’s second single, sets the tone for his debut album Will The Guns Come Out, which will be released May 2011 on Innovated Leisure. When he is not touring, Hanni serves as creative director for HUF, a skateboard company founded by professional skater Keith Hufnagel.

Rollo & Grady Interview :: Hanni El Khatib



July 6th, 2010

Rollo & Grady Interview :: Michael Coomer of Harlem

Coomers interview []

Last month I caught up with Michael “Coomers” Coomer of the band Harlem. “We met for drinks at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, in nearby Beverly Hills. He’s surprisingly petite and ladylike, with beautiful almond-shaped dark brown eyes and full lips that he painted a deep red the day we met. Coomers has a unique tomboy-meets-ghetto-fabulous-meets-exotic-princess look, like his music, manages to combine sexy elements (lingerie peeks out from under his see-through top) with individual flourishes (he designs elaborate patterns for his nails) and ethnic accents (the bright, rich prints of Austin are his wardrobe staple). Coomers studied the menu, deciding on a glass of wine and Truffle French fries…”

Oh shit, that’s from MIA’s interview for the New York Times. Actually, Coomers and I had a less exotic conversation on the phone last month, as the band was preparing for its European tour. This may have been one of his last interviews. According to an article in NME, the band was driving in Barcelona on the way to play the Primavera Sound Festival when a French doctor fell asleep at the wheel and almost crashed straight into their van. Harlem’s driver averted the accident, but the other driver hit the back of the van. He then jumped out of his car and shouted, “I’m a doctor.”

commers snake

During our conversation, we discussed the band’s signing with Matador Records, music critics, and Twitter. Harlem has mad Twitter skills. Here are some of my favorites:

“Smith Westerns are at the grocery trying samples of gelato. Bad boy rep still intact.”

“Whoops I got a little stoned. Highschool embarrassing exchange with pretty girls out front. I’m never going to be cool, bummer.

“the only thing gayer than being into a band is being into a dj.”

“drinking wine all day and when I looked in the mirror a voice inside me said “you look like interview with a vampire” thanks gay me.”

“I have a pitbull in a headlock right now because he tried to get fresh. Weird how dogs go from affectionate to rapey so fast.”

“I have taken like a million whore’s bath this week.”

“accidentally said “thanks mom” to the bartender. played it off as a joke but wtf.”

“South by sou…Damn this place smells like ax body spray.”
Rollo & Grady Interview :: Michael Coomer of Harlem



June 14th, 2010

R&G Interview // Bobby Hackney Jr. of Rough Francis

Bobby
Bobby Hackney Jr.

Rough Francis is Bobby Jr., Julian, and Urian Hackney, brothers and direct descendents of the early punk band out of Detroit, Death. The Hackney brothers, along with guitarist Dylan Giambatista and bassist Steven Hazen Williams, make a hard, fast-paced rock atypical of their Burlington, Vermont base. The Who and MC5 are influences, as are sounds from both the British Invasion and Motown, but Death remains the band’s biggest inspiration; Rough Francis even got Death’s 1976 album …For The Whole World To See re-released through Drag Records, around the same time the band began playing their own high energy stage shows in late 2008. Having released their debut EP last month, Rough Francis is now on its way towards a career very much its own, with a feature in the New York Times under its belt, a mention on Spin.com, and an opening slot for Mos Def.

R&G Interview // Bobby Hackney Jr. of Rough Francis

R&G: Can you talk about the history of the band?

Bobby Jr.: Sure. A lot of people think that it all started when we first heard Death, which is partially true. Honestly, it all started when my brother Jules went out traveling for a long time and ended up in California. He started to get a little homesick. We were calling each other a lot, talking about music and stuff like that. We thought of maybe putting together a band because he wanted to come back to Vermont. I said, “Yeah, if you come back to Vermont, we should totally do a band.” Shortly after that we started finding out about the Death stuff. At that time my father was getting a lot of phone calls and emails from random record collectors. They would just call my father’s house and say, “Hey, are you Bobby Hackney from Death?” He’d say, “Yeah. How did you know about that? That’s so weird.” He had no idea that anybody would know about the band. At first he would ignore the calls and not pay too much attention. After a while, more calls and emails started coming in. Then he started talking to my brother about it. My father started to tell Jules the story of Death and what they’d done when they were younger. Then we started talking about it and we were like, “Woah, we really have to do a band now, because this is a sign.” When we heard the music, we were just blown away: shocked and inspired. I always remember the day that I first heard those songs. It was a very moving and touching experience.

R&G: Were you and Jules planning on putting together a punk band prior to finding out about Death?
R&G Interview // Bobby Hackney Jr. of Rough Francis



March 1st, 2010

Rollo & Grady Interview // Ade Blackburn of Clinic

Rollo & Grady Interview // Ade Blackburn of Clinic
Image by Leslie Kalohi

In the past 20 years I’ve come across two bands whose unique sound and style have made a significant, lasting impact on me. One of these bands is Morphine, and the other is Clinic. When you listen to Clinic’s music you hear the band’s influences, ranging from The Seeds to Velvet Underground, but make no mistake: Clinic does not sound like any band that you’ve ever heard before. Their sound – distinguished, idiosyncratic, and mysterious – comes from frontman Ade Blackburn’s twisted, haunting melodies, and from vintage organs (notably the Philips philicorda), which they often pick up at garage sales or flea markets. Adding to the band’s mystique, its members appear in costumes and surgical masks during their performances.

Clinic was formed in 1997 by Ade Blackburn and Jonathan Hartley after the two split from their previous band, Pure Morning. They self-released several singles, which caught the attention of legendary radio host John Peel and Domino Records. In 2000, Domino released Clinic’s debut album, Internal Wrangler. This garnered immediate and international critical praise; it also won Clinic an opening slot on Radiohead’s Kid A tour. In 2002, Clinic released Walking With Thee, a brilliant album that earned the band a Grammy nomination. Since then they’ve released three more albums: Winchester Cathedral (2004), Visitations (2006), and Do It! (2008), each of which was more imaginative than the last.

Last month I caught up with Ade by phone to discuss a range of topics including their upcoming album, Spotify, and the band’s experience of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center.
Rollo & Grady Interview // Ade Blackburn of Clinic