Bulls and Roosters – A Chat with Danny of together PANGEA

Words By Alicia Maciel 

LA rock quartet together PANGEA is driving across the nation, touring in support of their latest full-length album Bulls and Roosters, via Nettwerk. The Bulls and Roosters Tour kicked off on September 14th in San Diego, CA and is wrapping up on October 22nd, and feature support from Tall Juan and  Daddy Issues.

Releasing a 1-minute-40-second gimmicky, nostalgic music video via Stereogum for the album’s mosh inducing lead single “Better Find Out”, directed by Steele O’Neal, heightened expectations of fans everywhere. The video can be seen HERE. “Better Find Out” is available to download/stream now HERE.

Co-produced by together PANGEA and longtime collaborator Andrew Schubert, and mixed by Chris Coady (TV On The Radio, Beach House, The Black Lips), Bulls and Roosters was recorded to two-inch tape at Golden Beat studios in Los Angeles and showcases a more matured sound than prior efforts.

We wanted to try new things and experiment with making music that wasn’t so aggressive or fast,” said singer/guitarist William Keegan. “Rather than worrying about any expectations, we were like, ‘Fuck all that. Let’s be as honest as we can possibly be.’ Sure, it’s growth, but there’s still a brattiness to it.”

Together Pangea have continually challenged themselves with each subsequent offering. Jelly Jam [2010] poured the gasoline, Living Dummy [2011] struck the match, and Badillac [2014] lit the fire with its revved-up nineties rock-inspired flames. Along the way, fan favorites like “Sick Shit,” “Badillac,” and “Offer” would rack up millions of Spotify streams. “Snakedog” became a plot point in a bonkers episode of NCIS and “Sick Shit” soundtracked a trailer for HBO’s Animals, while the group received support from Consequence of Sound, Pitchfork, MTV, Stereogum, and more. Following the 2015 release of The Phage EP, produced by The Replacements’ Tommy Stinson, the boys independently embarked on the journey to what would become Bulls and Roosters.

Bringing matured rock brattiness along with minimalistic, portrait album art – Bulls and Roosters represents together PANGEA’s growth and determinacy of “never making the same album twice”. Other than the album art alone standing out compared to their previous album artworks, Bulls and Roosters is a tame yet brash rock n’ roll earworm that’ll stay in listeners’ minds for years to come.

While on the road heading to their Nashville gig at noon central time, bassist Danny Bengston took some time to chat with me on the phone.

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Photo credit: Derek Perlman

Hey Danny, how are you?

Pretty good – it’s been a nice day, not too long of a drive. We’re driving to Nashville from Atlanta right now. We just played in Orlando yesterday. It was awesome, never played there before. The show was beyond our expectations!

That’s sick – was the show close to capacity?

The room was pretty big, a lot more people were there than we thought there would be.

To start off, I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about your gear. What you got, any pedals?

I have two basses I take on the road, one’s a Rickenbacker maple wood and the other’s a Fender P bass. I play them through a 1978 Peavy Mark III bass amp head. 410115 bass cabinet and a chewing pedal.

What tones did you find in your equipment that resonates with your sound?

I’ve always liked my very first bass amp. It has a great, shitty sound so I just looked around until I got another Peavy.

When recording your bass tracks, do you record along with the drummer live or are the drums overdubbed?

Most of the time, we record drums, guitar, and bass altogether live. I think it really adds to the sound and it’s always better to play together. On this album, there’s one or two songs without everyone recording together.

Are the bass parts planned or is it more improvisation?

The bass parts are planned ahead. We tend to write a month in advance. So, we’d learn a new song and I’ll go into working on bass parts.

What’s the songwriting process like for the band?

Usually, William or I bring ideas to the table.

It seems you guys have taken a different approach to songwriting, less garage rock influenced and more honky-tonk, 60s/70s country rock. What drew you to this change other than simply bringing different sounds to your audience?

As a band, we decided collectively to keep writing music we enjoy and we take influence from the music we’re listening to during the recording process. During this album, we were listening to a lot of Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and Neil Young.

I recognized you guys recorded Bulls and Roosters on tape. Is there a reason together PANGEA took the analog route?

We chose to go in that direction since it would fit the mood of the songs a lot better.

 

What’s your favorite track on the album?

After making the album and having some time away from it, “Gold Moon” is my favorite. I really like the vibe of the song, the guitar playing, and everything else about it.

Why did you choose to name the album after the track Bulls and Roosters?

It’s a reference to a painting by John Baldessari. It’s about selling artwork and we thought it fit well.

With Bulls and Roosters being a more minimalistic take compared to your previous, more aggressive works – do you feel it’s the best work of the band so far?

Definitely – I think it’s the best stuff we’ve done so far.

While you’re on the road, I figure you guys are already working on some stuff.

Yeah, we’re working on some things right now and are trying to get in the studio soon enough to get a demo done.

Is the Bulls and Roosters tour your first big, national headlining tour?

No, I think it’s our third or fourth American headlining tour. We did one for Badillac and The Phase.

I’m excited for your show here in Chicago on the 6th – are there any other cities you’re looking forward to hit?

We LOVE Chicago, it’s one of our favorite places to play. The crowd’s always really good, so are the people and the food. New York is always a spot to look forward to as well as Toronto. We’re looking forward to heading back to the west coast, too.

Check out together PANGEA on tour! Hope to see some fellow Chicagoans at Bottom Lounge Friday, October 6!

September 26 – Nashville, TN @ The End

September 27 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle – Back Room

September 28 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery

September 29 – Philadelphia, PA @ Voltage Lounge

September 30 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg*

October 01 – Boston, MA @ Sonia’s Nightclub

October 03 – Montreal, QC @ L’Escogriffe

October 04 – Toronto, ON @ The Hard Luck

October 05 – Cleveland, OH @ Mahall’s

October 06 – Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge

October 07 – Madison, WI @ The Frequency

October 08 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St Entry

October 10 – St. Louis, MO @ Firebird

October 11 – Ames, IA @ Iowa State University – The Maintenance Shop

October 12 – Omaha, NE @ Showdown

October 13 – Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge

October 14 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court

October 16 – Seattle, WA @ The Vera Project

October 17 – Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret

October 18 – Portland, OR @ Analog Theater

October 20 – Sacramento, CA @ Harlow’s Night Club

October 21 – San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel

October 22 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst – Atrium

Tickets for the tour are available now HERE.

Alicia Maciel is a junior at DePaul University studying marketing, music business, public relations, and advertising. Immersing in photography, promotion, interviews, interning at Metro and Notion Presents, managing The Chicago Vibe, curating live music, and plenty more – she hopes to bring innovation to the music scene. “A Chicagoan gal making music personnel personal.”

A Chat With: Widowspeak

Indie rock group Widowspeak just released their fourth studio album Expect The Best on August 25th. The Brooklyn-based duo of Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas have been making music together since 2010, but this latest album brings their fullest and most developed sound to date. In support of the new record, the pair and their live band will kick off an extensive North American tour this week, followed by a UK tour. Before the tour hits Chicago, we chatted with Molly Hamilton all about the new album and upcoming tour. Check our chat with Widowspeak now to find out the biggest lesson they’ve learned in their years of making music, what makes this new record different, their ideal night out in NYC, how they prep for tour and more!

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Photo Credit: Shawn Brackbill

Rachel Zyzda: So your new album Expect The Best just came out last month! How did the writing and recording process for this album vary from your previous records?

Widowspeak: For this one, I still wrote the songs separate, from voice memos and notebooks and random ideas pieced together, knowing we would then expand on that and make them more intricate eventually. In the past, it has mostly been Rob figuring the latter part out, but this time we played with the regular touring band in the studio.

RZ: After releasing a few albums and being a band for several years, what are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned as a musician?

Widowspeak: I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is just to be kind to people, which seems obvious, but… We are really laid-back as a band and always super appreciative of people we meet on tour, whether that’s the people running the shows or going to them. We’ve heard stories about other bands, whether ones we know personally or are fans of, being jerks or just generally difficult to work with, and that is a total bummer.  It’s so important to be good to people.

RZ: Where did you find yourself drawing inspiration from for the new songs, whether it be musical or non-musical influences?

Widowspeak: The new songs I wrote sort of in a big batch of them all at once, and I think they are all sort of about feeling stuck in various feelings or states of mind. It’s not uncommon at all to have those sorts of thoughts, but for me personally I wanted to write these songs more directly about that because it was getting increasingly hard to do anything, let alone music. Some of them are more concerned with the symptoms of those feelings, like being unproductive, or looking at social media, and others are about trying to figure out “why.”

RZ: I really love the cover art too, and the limited edition vinyl you put together with the purple lava lamp splatter. How involved are you with the visuals that the band puts out, and how does the cover tie in with the theme of the record?

Widowspeak: I’m usually really involved in the visuals, if not doing everything except the technical layout myself (sometimes, as with our last record, we use someone else’s art). This time, I took the cover photo and all the other photos in my apartment in Tacoma. The lava lamp is actually my stepmom’s that I borrowed (and that broke!) I had this weird feeling that the corner of my apartment, with a lava lamp, should be the record cover and had no idea why, ha.

RZ: Are there any songs from the new record that you’re particularly excited about performing live? Any spoilers you can give about the set for the upcoming tour?

Widowspeak: I’m excited to play all of them, honestly. I feel like because these songs were originally recorded with the band, they are already really full of that energy. Sometimes we have to try to figure out how to play a song live that was more sparse, or where the instruments aren’t represented by the four of us. This time everything feels more natural, also more high-energy. For tour surprises, I will say we are trying to figure out a new cover… hope we get it figured out in time!

RZ: Are there any cities you’re especially looking forward to playing?

Widowspeak: We love playing our respective hometown cities (Seattle/Tacoma, Chicago, Des Moines, Detroit) as well as our new hometowns, NYC and Kingston, NY (upstate), because so many of our friends are there. But it’s also great to play shows anywhere and to be surprised by the people you meet there, or how cool a venue or their staff are. Tour is crazy and full of things you didn’t expect, so I’m just going into it excited to play the songs and hoping the van doesn’t break down.

RZ: Speaking of touring, I saw you recently posted on Facebook about a taking a roadtrip (and tour is essentially one big roadtrip itself), so what are your go-to road trip activities, tunes, and essential snacks?

Widowspeak: Yeah, we got a new tour van which is also a great camper van, and we’re excited to bring it on the road! Generally we listen to a lot of podcasts, especially comedy or science ones, because they tend to be things people can all agree on (but also tune out if they want to). Music-wise, the van has a tape player so I’m excited to bust out the old cassette collection and go foraging in the bins at thrift stores. When we’re on tour we like to research ahead of time to see if there is a must-try local restaurant/food truck/etc. that is around, because no one wants to be figuring out how to eat breakfast from the things they have at a gas station. We try to plan ahead. So we definitely sometimes will go through a National Park or something, if it’s sort of on the way, or we’ll go swimming or thrifting or play pinball.

RZ: Since the album is called Expect The Best and you’re based in Brooklyn, describe what you would consider your best night out in NYC?

Widowspeak: I would say the best night out in NYC definitely involves knowing where to go so you don’t spend too much money, because the city is crazy expensive and it takes finesse and skill to do it right and not be broke. First, getting some snacks somewhere where there is happy hour food. I really love dollar oysters, and there are a bunch of places in Brooklyn that have them. Or honestly just grabbing something from a deli and finding a good spot in the park or something to people-watch. Then I’d say maybe go to someone’s roof if you know someone with a cool roof, unless it’s raining. There’s nothing better than watching the sun set over the skyline and bridges. But that’s kind of where my idea of the perfect evening devolves, because the best NYC night out would be unpredictable and you’d end up a lot of places you didn’t expect, like random apartments and bars you’ve never been to, or other boroughs from where you live. I will say that later, when you’re crawling home, I would get tacos or halal from one of the trucks, depending on where you are. That’s the classic NYC night-ender.

RZ: On a similar note, who are some of your favorite NYC bands at the moment that you would recommend to your listeners?

Widowspeak: Well, we just moved back into town, so I can’t totally speak to any of the newer bands that are just starting out (as we haven’t seen ‘em yet), and also a bunch of the NYC bands are now somewhere-else bands, but EZTV, and also there’s this band Poppies I like, Cut Worms, our friend Renata Zeiguer, who used to be in a band with Rob, is incredible. Other than that there are a bunch I’m not thinking of, I’m really glad to be back in the area though, lots of new bands to hear.



Listen to Expect The Best in full here, or grab the physical record in the shop or on the webstore!

You can also see Widowspeak at The Empty Bottle on 9/13 with Clearance and Luke Henry & Hunnybear. Grab tickets here.


This interview was originally posted on ANCHR Magazine.

Catching Up With: White Mystery

If you’re at all familiar with the Chicago music scene, you’ve undoubtedly seen White Mystery out and about over the years. The sibling duo of Alex and Francis White still manage to pack a serious punch with all of their live performances, despite only being a two-piece band. In addition to developing a full live show between the two of them, Alex and Francis have remained completely hands on with all aspects of the band, from management to booking tours to sending press releases…they do it all. In between all of that hustle, the pair still find time to put out an album every year on April 20th. Their latest, Fuck Your Mouth Shut, marks their eighth studio album, and their ninth is on the way in 2018. In the midst of working on new music, playing shows, and gearing up for tour, the duo developed their own TV show called (you guessed it)… White Mystery TV! The show has featured artists from all corners of the local Chicago scene and just wrapped its first season (but more on that later). Before White Mystery start their tour along the east coast and midwest Friday, September 1st, we chatted with Miss Alex White after their set at The Slippery Slope Anniversary party last weekend. Here are six things you need to know to get caught up with White Mystery!

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Credit:  Diane Alexander White

THEIR INFLUENCES PROVIDED “PERMISSION BY EXAMPLE”

While strolling down memory lane trying to pinpoint what first inspired her to pick up an instrument, Alex White describes two distinct childhood memories. “When I was pretty young, my mom would take me to the dollar store, called Amazing Savings. And they had discount tape cassettes of oldies music. Like all the great one hit wonders from the 60’s, and I really really loved those songs,” Alex recalls. She continues describing her journey to rock ‘n’roll, saying, “Afar as the moment that inspired me to start playing rock ‘n’ roll….And I’ve said this a couple times too because it was just that distinct of a moment that I remember… I was in fourth grade, and my parents were repurchasing their old record collections on CDs ’cause CDs were like a new invention, you know? I heard The Who for the first time, and the album was Who’s Next by The Who. It’s the classic song “Baba O’Riley,” which is like [singing] ‘Teenage Wasteland…’ And that song just really connected with me. Where I was like I need to play guitar, this is so cool!”

The inspiration continued through Alex’s teen years, where she found influence in other bands. “If you flash forward a little bit…Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth. I heard Sonic Youth and I was like I can do this! This is so great, this is so powerful. It’s a female singer, she’s playing guitar, it’s experimental…I really believe in permission by example. You see something and you’re like oh yeah, I could do that! Maybe better, or differently. And Sonic Youth really did that for me when I was about 14 or 15,” Alex says. She also reveals that some of her artistic and musical talent stems from somewhere down her family tree. “My mom played piano as a very young person, but her job is being a photographer. My grandfather, who passed away when I was like 5, really young, he played mandolin. So he never showed me how to play, and I don’t even have memories of him playing…But, I’m convinced that I’m genetically predisposed to having really fast fingers and that kind of thing. So while I didn’t know him very well and he never taught me, I feel that the heritage lended to it,” she says.

THEY’RE ALWAYS UP FOR THE DIY HUSTLE

In addition to rocking the stage all by themselves, Alex and Francis White know how to work the DIY system as a band…and man do they work hard! Talking about the benefits and challenges that they face being an independent band, taking on multiple roles, Alex says, “Well like anything there’s pros and cons to being DIY. The biggest pro is that when you take on multiple roles, like when you become the management, the licensing agent, the booking agent, and the art director… and the the creative force, you can make a career out of it.” She continues to give major props to her brother Francis, saying it’s very much a partnership. For any struggling musicians or music industry professionals, just remember Alex’s “permission by example” principle and look at how she has earned a living with White Mystery.

“This has been my job full time for 7 years. It’s a very bohemian lifestyle. I work really fucking hard and all day long, but in the comfort of my own home or on tour with a laptop,” Alex continues, vouching for the DIY lifestyle.  However, she does also recognize the potential downfalls. “The disadvantage is that it can be very challenging to penetrate these very established systems. Something like Lollpalooza…While we play big ass shows in Chicago, we played in Japan, we’ve been in Sundance Film Festival movies. We’ve played with Patti Smith and The Stooges many times. We played Riot Fest…for some reason it’s been damn near impossible to get into Lolla, while we’ve put 8 albums out,” Alex continues. She still manages to see the positive side of the situation and brace herself for the challenges, adding, “So there’s certain things, but I try to convince myself that everything happens for a reason, and I just kind of stick to my vision, and good things always happen when you do that. You’re gonna have challenges. Be prepared for the challenges.”

VIDEO GAMES INSPIRED WHITE MYSTERY TV

Well kind of…For the past month, White Mystery have invited different artists and musicians around Chicago over to talk, play music, and play video games. All while broadcasting live; hence the name White Mystery TV. Talking about the origin of this clever concept, Alex says, ” I have to give my brother Francis credit for it. He plays a lot of video games, and there’s this network called Twitch. It seems like a lot of people in the rock scene aren’t very familiar with it…It’s the second largest streaming service on planet earth. World wide.” Alex continues on to say that there’s been times on tour where she and Francis wished they could share their view with friends and family back home. “Before Facebook Live and Instagram Live…it was more like us driving through the Swiss Alps thinking this is so crazy and so beautiful, I wish we could show people back home what this looks like,” she says.

The inspiration to launch WTV also stemmed from their past work on a White Mystery film, called “That Was Awesome.” Alex says their past work on that film coupled with their desire to share their experiences beyond their live concerts helped push the project forward. “We’re realizing wow, our worldwide audience is able to watch us. So while there might be 100 people at the show, there might be 1000 people watching,” she continued. Talking more about the show itself, Alex says, “It took a long time to develop it because of the technology required to make the infrastructure. It’s not like ‘Hey I have an iPhone..” let me hold it up to something. It’s a little more sophisticated. So when people are watching they’re getting a little more of the Wayne’s World basement thing, but what we’ve done is bring all of our favorite musicians on. So people are like wow, that’s so great you have so many cool local musicians. Like The Orwells…Mario [Cuomo] was one episode one. Twin Peaks are freakin’ huge!” The show has also had rappers like ShowYouSuck, Joseph Chilliams, Mykele Deville, as well as newer buzzy bands like Bunny and Post Animal. “We’ve been trying to represent the city of Chicago so that we can share what’s going on here with our audience in like Germany and Japan. It’s been a really cool thing and they’re all archived on YouTube so you can watch them again. They’re like each 3 hours long,” Alex concluded. Make sure you tune into Season 2 when it starts!

THEY’VE WITNESSED THE PEAKS AND VALLEYS OF THE CHICAGO SCENE

Speaking of representing the local Chicago scene on White Mystery TV, Alex and I also discussed some of her favorite parts of the scene at the moment, and how it has gone through cycles. “Chicago is a very special place. I’m born and raised here in the city. Having gone to New York and LA and San Francisco…Chicago is a very supportive, cooperative scene. There’s a lot of idea exchange and support,” Alex says. 

“I guess what I love most is the mutual support people give each other, and that goes across the arts. That goes to comedians. DJs. Actors and Actresses. Everybody is like ‘I’d love to help you with that.’ It’s not this cut throat thing. There’s friendly competition where we push each other higher. But the community is full of support,” she continued. 

This principle of helping each other out and lifting each other up can be seen just on White Mystery TV alone, when genres are mixed and collaborations extend to poets and performing artists, not just musicians. It’s also demonstrated in Lollapalooza performances here, like when Joey Purp showed up for a song with Whitney. “It’s genre bending,” Alex says before shouting out her favorite venues in the city. “I love the Empty Bottle. The DIY scene is very, very strong. There’s a new one every time. I’m kind of older than a lot of people in the scene. So how you were saying ‘Wow, Chicago’s really popping right now…” I’ve seen several cycles take place. There was a point when I was younger when a place like The Empty Bottle would not book rock shows. They would only book very kind of indie stuff. I’ve seen it with highs and lows. And it’s always good, and there’s always stuff happening, but there’s definitely times where it’s thriving and that’s cool to watch,” she says.

“I try to convince myself that everything happens for a reason, and I just kind of stick to my vision, and good things always happen when you do that. You’re gonna have challenges. Be prepared for the challenges.”

— Alex White on Being a DIY Musician

THEY STAY ENTERTAINED ON THE ROAD BY READING WIKIPEDIA PAGES

Since they’re gearing up for tour (starting tonight), Alex and Francis discussed how they stay entertained on the road and what they’re looking forward to on this particular run. Although Francis had been loading out for most of the interview with Alex, he jumped in for this question. 

“Reading Wikipedias is a very interesting way to observe a story of a person or place or event,” Francis chimed in about their road trip habits. Off the back of that, Alex says, “I read books to him for hours at a time. I recently read the entire Mount Everest Into Thin Air book to him. I read the whole thing. We read Wikipedias…He drives, and I’ll read. Hours will go by. We’ll be like oh my gosh, you know that was 3 hours. Sometimes you read these biographies of like James Brown and you’re like crying at the end. You’ve started with the moment they were born and gone through their whole life, to the moment they died. It’s very emotional to go on that trek.”

Although they educate themselves on the road by reading, the biggest lesson from touring and playing music is unrelated to Wikipedia and books. “I never really had to learn this lesson, it was just something we knew, but don’t leave your guitar or money in the car. Don’t leave your passports. Or the stuff you need. Ever,” Francis says. Alex and Francis both emphasized the importance of knowing when to stick together and not splitting up while on the road. 

As far as where they’re most excited to play on this run? “Meltasia,” both of them said in unison when I asked. “I’m looking forward to Meltasia, but I’m mostly looking forward to the drive into Meltasia cause for my sister and I, it’s always a really special drive where we blast Led Zeppelin…we’re going deep into the woods, further and further and further away. Usually all we have is a case of beer and that’s it. No tents, no water, and we just know we’re gonna hang as long as we can, and shotgun as many beers as we can. The build up to it is one of my favorite feelings throughout the whole year,” Francis elaborated. “It’s the anticipation of getting there. It’s the journey. A lot of people have told that to me in my life, and now I really, really believe that,” Alex chimed in. 

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DESPITE HER VINTAGE STYLE, ALEX ADMITS SHE’S BAD AT THRIFTING

Again, if you’ve seen White Mystery around, chances are you’ve noticed Miss Alex White’s incredible retro inspired style, and no one pulls it off as well as she does! Fortunately for Alex, she’s able to acquire most of her clothes, she says, admitting that she’s not actually that great at thrifting. “A lot of my stuff just comes from my friends. I get a lot of custom made clothing now. When I went to The Grammys I had this amazing custom made jumpsuit. I was the Vice President of the Recording Academy for the Midwest. So I’d go to the Grammys and get to walk the red carpet with all these cool clothes,” Alex reveals.

Alex also gave her mom props for being a great thrifter, even though that didn’t pass down to Alex.  “What I love shopping for is shoes. These shoes, they’re just really practical and comfy, just wood platforms…I’ve had so many versions of this kind of shoe. We were in Beverly Hills and we played on late night television, The Carson Daly Show. After we were walking around Beverly Hills. I was like oh, a shoe store, cool! I go in there and find these, they’re made in Portugal, I was like oh, I like ‘em…once in awhile treat yourself. So I bought these shoes, I left the store, and I look at the storefront and see this is like an old lady shoe store. I just bought shoes from like an orthopedic shoe store,” she recalled. 

Alex’s once last piece of style advice? “I don’t buy vintage shoes…vintage clothes, but never vintage shoes. I was crossing the street once in a vintage pair of shoes, and my heel broke, and I wiped out on the street. I was like never again!”



Check out all of White Mystery’s tour dates below and keep up with them on social media.

White Mystery: FacebookTwitterInstagram

09/01/17   Experimental Procedures Chelsea, MI Details
09/02/17   Happy Dog Euclid Tavern Cleveland, OH Details
09/03/17   Arsenal Lanes Pittsburgh, PA Details
09/04/17   The Pharmacy Philadelphia, PA Details
09/07/17   St. Vitus Brooklyn, NY Details
09/10/17   Meltasia Fest East Durham, NY Details
09/11/17   Bug Jar Rochester, NY Details
09/13/17   State Street Pub Indianapolis, IN Details
09/15/17   Trumpet Blossom Iowa City, IA Details 
09/16/17   Farnam Fest Omaha, NE Details
09/22/17   Ingenuity Fest Cleveland, OH Details


Also- Listen to White Mystery’s 8th album Fuck Your Mouth Shut below or grab your own copy from the Shuga webstore here. (You can also scoop one up at the shop!)

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/3z2grSnDNnDwZV8GvI5q9Y

This article was originally posted on ANCHR Magazine.

A Chat With: Toothless

“Even toothless, she can still bite off a boy’s head.” This is the quote that inspired Ed Nash of Bombay Bicycle Club’s newest project, Toothless. Following the project’s inception, 2017 has already been a whirlwind for Nash. After releasing the collaboration-laced debut album from Toothless, The Pace of The Passing, back in January, Nash has already followed up with a six song EP, Palm’s. The project has also been constantly expanding the live show, playing festivals like Secret Garden Party and the upcoming Reading and Leeds Festivals. Before Toothless hits the road to tour the UK and Europe, find out more about the inspiration and influences behind Toothless…including more on the quote that started it all. Nash also talks new music and his collaborations with the likes of Marika Hackman, The Staves, and Liz Lawrence. Get to know Toothless now!

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Photo Courtesy of Toothless

Rachel Zyzda: When did you first decide to branch out to your own side project and start working on Toothless?

Ed Nash: I have always written and recorded my own music, and had intended to release it long before I got ’round to it. My commitment to Bombay Bicycle Club kept on growing over the years as the band got bigger, and as a result I didn’t have the time to put into my own project. It was only at the end of 2014 when we decided to take a break after touring the last Bombay record that I finally had enough time to do it! I had the name and a lot of the ideas beforehand just not the time.

RZ: The story behind your moniker is quite interesting, with the inspiration stemming from a Raymond Pettibon drawing with the caption “Even toothless, she can still bite off a boy’s head.” When you were writing for the debut Toothless album, The Pace of the Passing, did you find yourself drawing inspiration from different forms of art, and are there any particular influences that stand out?

EN: Absolutely! All of the album and single artwork was inspired by a Charles and Ray Eames show that I saw at the Barbican in London. There was a video called “The Power of Ten” that was my main focus. A lot of the songs on the record draw from Greek myths and The Odyssey. I like using preexisting stories in my own songs to help get my own points across.

RZ: The album also featured a few different collaborations, like “Palm’s Backside” with Marika Hackman and “The Sirens” with The Staves. How did these working relationships with these artists come around and what was your favorite part about the collaborative songs?

EN: Most of the features on the album are people that I was lucky enough to have met through touring and playing shows over the past ten years, Liz Lawrence sang with my band throughout 2014, and we played multiple shows and shared studio time with Wild Beasts. That’s not to say that I used these artists only because I knew them personally, they couldn’t be gratuitous or for the sake of getting cool people on the record. For example, Tom from Wild Beasts has a beautiful baritone voice, the opposite to the way I sing, and the part he recorded really needed that style of singing.

RZ: Who else would you love to work with in the future and why?

EN: I really want to work with my favorite producer Dave Fridmann. The timing’s never been right so far as he’s a busy man. I’m not going to stop trying.

AM: You just released the EP “Palm’s” earlier this Summer, following the debut LP released earlier this year, which is quite a quick turnaround! Have you already started writing for the next album or EP?
EN: People keep saying it’s a quick turnaround but to me it feels quite slow… As this is the only thing I do I think I get very impatient. I’ve started writing and recording the next full Toothless album and hope to get that out at some point next year. I’ve also got an idea for another EP, I haven’t told anyone about that yet though!

RZ: Taking the songs to the live sense then, what is the usual band setup for your shows and what are some of your favorite songs to play out live?
EN: It’s taken the best part of a year to get the live show to a point where I’m fully happy with it. As I played almost everything on the record, it was very hard to adapt the songs to work with a live band. The live show now consists of a 5 piece band with two guitars, bass, keys, drums and a hell of a lot of singing. I absolutely love playing “Sisyphus” live, not only is it the most upbeat song in the set but we have added a Kraut Rock style outro that gets pretty wild!
RZ: You’ve got some shows in the UK and Europe this fall, but any plans to tour stateside soon?

EN: We don’t have any plans to head to the US at the moment unfortunately, though I am incredibly keen to get back soon. We played two shows in New York and Los Angeles at the beginning of the summer which were some of the best shows we have done.

RZ: On the same subject of tours, you’re playing a Sofar Sounds show on September 20th to support Amnesty International and Give a Home, which is such a great cause to be involved with! Are there any other charities or causes that you’re passionate about?

EN: Yeah, I’m really looking forward to the Amnesty show! Over the years I have done quite a lot of stuff for Amnesty International and I love the Sofar Sounds shows too. It’s going to be a great event. With Bombay we did quite a lot of shows for the Teenage Cancer Trust. They are a truly fantastic organization. I will always continue to support them.

RZ: What new music are you listening to lately that you’d recommend to your listeners?

EN: This week I have been listening to the new Grizzly Bear record. I love it, though, I am probably biased… I fucking love Grizzly Bear.
RZ: Anything else coming up in the next year that you’re looking forward to?

EN: I’ve decided I want to paint my next record cover which I’m super excited about. I painted the cover to the Bombay record Flaws but haven’t done anything proper since then. I have been painting small portraits over the past few months to get my technique up to scratch for the real thing.



Keep up with all the Toothless updates by liking the official Facebook Page, and listen to The Pace of The Passing in full here.

An Interview With Post Animal

Words from Kevin Sterne
Photos from Rachel Zyzda


Chicago’s Post Animal are in the thick, sticky center of their summer tour and recently made the pilgrimage back to their hometown for two long-awaited shows at West Fest and Subterranean. Comprised of long-haired rockers Dalton Allison (bass, vocals), Jake Hirshland (guitar, keys, vocals), Matt Williams (guitar, vocals), Javi Reyes (guitar, vocals), Joe Keery (guitar, vocals) and Wesley Toledo (drums), Post Animals pulls from contemporary and classic rock influences while adding their own psychedelic spin.

I was welcomed by humble dudes Dalton, Jake and Matt for a sit down in band’s van while Woods played on the West Fest stage behind us. We discussed their current tour, the Chicago scene, and their much-anticipated new album.

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What does it mean for you guys to be playing Chicago’s West Fest

Jake: I think today specifically we were all looking forward to playing West Fest. We’ve all come to West Fest for many years, and other Chicago festivals as well. We’ve seen a lot of people that we really like play here, and around this specific time of day. We’ve been in the audience for this experience. So to be out here and playing and having people show up. Just seeing people smile has been an out-of-body experience for me.

Dalton: And just now, standing on this stage and looking out, you can see the John Hancock Center, and I work at a Best Buy at the ground level of that. To be on a stage, at West Fest, and looking out and seeing my employer has been a crazy last hour.


Who are some bands that you’ve seen play West Fest in the past?

Jake: Mild High Club!

Dalton: Lemon Twigs played like the same exact time slot that we just played. So that was crazy.

 

You all are in the midst of a national tour. How’s that going?

Dalton: The tour is insane. It’s the first time we’ve played outside of the Midwest. We’re going to more places than I ever imagined. More cities, more physical, actually locations than I ever thought I would travel in my life. That’s been the craziest thing for me.

 

Any memorable or favorite places you’ve played on the tour?

Dalton: In DC, we played the 9:30 club and Black Jack. Thalia Hall in Chicago.

Jake: It’s surreal playing these shows like in Tampa, and these weird places that I’ve never been to.

 

Any crazy tour stories?

Matt: Some pool swimming. Some family meals.

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So, let’s address the elephant in the room: word is there’s a new record.

Jake: It’s done, actually. We’ve been sitting on this thing a long time.

 

Can you talk about the recording process, and how that all went down?

Matt: Our friend Emily has a lake house in Watervliet, Michigan. Right on Paw Paw Lake. And we spent about eight days there tracking all the instruments. Writing some and recording. And Dalton spent time mixing it and producing it. And then he co-mastered with our friend Adam Thein.

 

In terms of the writing process, how does that go?

Jake: Some people come to the table with close to completion songs. And we kind of synch ourselves into a part that’s already been written, or modify it slightly. Then there’s other people who write more of a skeletal idea, and bring it to everyone to have them fill in the gaps. Say, someone writes a song, but doesn’t write a bass line. Then Dalton will work on writing the bass line. And sometimes we’ll just jam stuff out. “When I get Home” was a jam.

Matt: I was on the drums for that one. I didn’t write the drum part, but I was playing drums when they wrote the song.

Jake: I was on keys. Dalton was on bass. And even the vocals were just melody sounds, we didn’t have lyrics yet.

Dalton: There are probably like 3-4 songs on the record that we were just jamming and mumbling into the microphone. “You’re Not There” was like that. We kind of just mumble what it feels like it should be and then write the lyrics later.

 

The new music video single, “Special Moment,” is that going to be on the record?

Jake: It’s the first song on the record.

 

How’d that come to fruition? Because that is some dynamite screenwriting, kind of American Psycho-like.

Jake: Yeah, dude. Totally. That’s all credited to Alec Basse. He came to us with a number of ideas. And we we’re perusing one that we liked. Then he basically took the reigns. With the two music videos we have, we try to get people we trust, and then give them full control. Because none of us are directors, and we don’t pretend to be. We’re actually working on another music video right now. It’s almost completely hands, and that’s worked out for us really well so far.

 

 

Let’s talk about the Chicago scene and the evolution of your music. How you would describe the Chicago scene right now, and how you fit in with it?

Dalton: When we were playing house shows, most of the bands we were playing with were garage bands. But then we met all these dudes that are in Woongi and The Voluptuals, and the guys that are more on the experimental side, and formed a friendship with them. Then we have our friends in the Evening Attraction that we play house shows with. I think there’s this psych rock thing going on, but a little heavier. People focus on being a little heavier and more groovy.

 

Listening to the studio recordings and then hearing you live, I’m finding a harder-rock, more rock and roll aspect to the music compared to maybe a few years ago when you were playing shows at Schubas and Double Door. I’m wondering about that transition. 

Jake: A lot of the stuff on the new record is leaning more towards rock and roll, heavy rock and classic rock. There’s still some psychy stuff, but were not trying to pigeon hole ourselves as psych rock. I wouldn’t say that the main thing that pops out is psychodellic in terms of describing this record.

Dalton: We’re a rock band with psych influences more so than a psych rock bands.

 

Having toured and played together live, has the live sound transitioned to this record more?

 Jake: I think so. I think the record might actually influence the live sound. I think in us writing this last record, we realized some stuff that we wanted to do and now are translating that live. We’ve even taken some of our old songs and retooled them to be a little more in this style. It’s kind of an identity change for us, not a huge change but definitely a change in identity over the last year.

 

So where’s Joe right now? I feel like I just saw him in a Dominos commercial.

Dalton: He’s running wild on everyone’s TV screen. We’re not sure if he’s real anymore. I haven’t seen him in person in a while. 

Jake: I see him at the gym.

Dalton: He’s one of the most beautiful people.

 

Was he part of the recording process for this record?

Jake: Absolutely.

Dalton: He’s been on every recording. He played drums on Water Activities. He plays guitar on four of the songs on Garden Series.

Jake: But he was definitely part of the recording. One-sixth of the playing and song writing on the record. He’s definitely still a huge part of who we are.

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What’s next for you guys?

Jake: We’ve got another month of touring. And that hangs heavy. We aren’t looking too far past that.

Dalton: We’re trying to meet with people who can help us “take the next step”—whatever that may be.

 

You guys unsigned?

Dalton: We are.

 

Have there been conversations? 

Dalton: A few, but you never really know.

Jake: We haven’t had THE conversation.

Dalton: People seem so interested in real life, but then you don’t hear from them for a while. And you’re like, okay, let me lower my expectations.

Jake: But we are really happy. I feel like we’ve finished a record that we’re happy with, going on a tour that we’re happy with. So we’re pretty content with where we are. We’d love to work with people who could take it to another level, but for the moment we feel good.

Dalton: We’re not over-reaching by any means. It’s going well, we feel really good with the opportunities we’ve already been given.

Jake: And we get to decide everything. Everything we’ve ever done has our full, entire stamp of approval. And that’s a really good feeling.

 


Kevin Sterne is a writer and journalist based in Chicago. He writes about music, craft beer and culture for Shuga Records, Substream Magazine and other places (like here). His super weird and highly offensive fiction has appeared in Drunk Monkeys, Praxis Magazine, Word Eater, Defenestration and many other places you’ve never heard of. Kevin is the creator of a really terrible magazine called LeFawn.