Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Q&A: Matt Riggle Of 41 Gorgeous Blocks

I've known Matt Riggle for many, many years. Its been a pleasure watching him perform, from the old days in the late 90s on through the continuing career of his band 41 Gorgeous Blocks. In 2004 he convinced me to start performing again after a long hiatus, and the blocks and him even learned my songs and invited me onstage to perform with them, eventually leading to a 2005 U.S. tour during which Dr. Frank of MTX performed with them at a show and allegedly stole Matts black hoodie, Zen Sushi refused to pay us even one dollar for performing and Matt and I recited Back to the future part one verbatim during a long all-night drive. Hes very talented, a great live performer, great singer, guitarist and songwriter and a good friend. He is also now a published author! Im happy to finally have a Q&A with him ready for your beady eyes to finally read.

Q: What inspires you to write lyrics, and what of your songs are your favourites and why?

A: Bad things tend to inspire me. The worse, the better. I guess I like "Christmas Without You" and "Rock Island" because they're about my brother. Also, being able to sing "It's Over" over the years has made it easier to let certain eras of my life end. That sounded stupid.

Q: What's currently some of your favourite music?

A: I don't vary too much when it comes to the music I love. The Mr. T Experience, Violent Femmes, Petty, Green Day, All, Descendents, Bracket, and the Beach Boys are never too far way. Occasionally, I'll find myself listening to only They Might Be Giants for a year or so. Oh, I've been on a huge Chixdiggit kick for the last few month (the song "Summer Please" simply never gets old to me). Of course there are more bands, but how am supposed to list them all? I hate rankings. Oh and, damn, I love that ukulele song in The Jerk.
Q: Any guilty pleasures you listen to that you'd rather not name?

A: Absolutely.

Q: What are some of your favourite books? What's the last thing you read?

A: I somewhat recently discovered Robert Cormier and am working my way through his YA novels. Just finished "Tunes For Bears To Dance To" which was sad but great, though that pretty much sums up all his books. I'm also waist-deep in Barbara Ehrenreich's "Bright-sided" which is totally kicking ass. I read mostly non-fiction for years but am proud to announce I'm back on a fiction kick. I'm also a huge, huge Cometbus fan. I actually wrote a lengthy paper on his stuff for school. Haha. Please don't tell him that.

Q: What sort of guitar/guitars you play right now and why?

A: These days it's mainly the Les Paul Junior. I've always been a Fender fan and would often give an over-exaggerated roll of the eyes when someone said they preferred Gibsons. But, yeah, I get it now. Still love my strats, though.

Q: What sort of guitar amps do you use and why? Do you use effects pedals and why?

A: I play a Marshall JCM 900 or a Marshall JMP. Both are 50 watt and played through a 4x12 or 2x12 cab. No effects. Just a tuner and solo boost. Oh and I have an on-again/off-again relationship with the gain knob.

Q: Are any of the old 41GB CDs still available? Which one is your favourite and why?

A: Yeah, all are still available in some form or fashion, even if it's just me burning it for someone. I'm working on getting everything available for free online. My favorite is probably the last one we did, Querulous, but then again, I would say that, woudn't I? And as always, I'm looking forward to the next one.

Q: Tell us about the unusual artwork you've used on Tshirts and CD covers. I know there is an interesting story behind them that people might like to hear.

A: Yeah, thanks. My older brother Bobby drew all that stuff. He died in 1997 when he was 20, leaving behind a pretty big mountain of cartoons. I could say it's an homage or a way of keeping him "with us," but really it's just that I love his stuff. In fact, it was on our albums and shirts (and drumheads) long before '97.

Q: Are you a back to the future aficionado?

A: I'm not sure about the "a-word", but I do know for a fact that somewhere lives a hi-8 tape of you and me reciting that entire movie while driving through an insane fog storm outside of Pittsburgh, pausing here and there only to scream at the occasional near-wreck scenario.

Q: Are there any crazy or funny tour stories you can share with us?

A: This one time, you and me recited Back To The Future while driving through an insane fog storm and screaming outside Pittsburgh.

Q: You've been published recently. Tell us about that.

A: A short story I wrote was just published by Wide Array in a book called "Upstart Crows II: True Stories." WA is an indie publisher run by two of the funniest and smartest people I've ever met. I rarely use these words--and, frankly, am embarrassed to use such a cliche when talking about writing-- but being on those pages is "truly an honor." Check 'em out: http://www.widearrayonline.com/

Q: What's next for you and for 41GB? What are you working on other than the band?

A: Personally?
We're practicing regularly again and looking at doing some more shows and a new album in 2010. Personally, other than graduating from college in a few days, I'm just chipping away at some writing projects and looking for a job.

Random topic round. comment on one or all topics.

Topics: Rubiks cube, Rubiks snake, Simon, Guitar hero
Guitar Hero is a perfect metaphor for what is wrong with our modern culture. Wait, on second thought, it's not metaphoric. It's literal. It is the problem.

Topics: PBS, history channel, discovery channel, Spike TV
I listen to NPR and only watch the Daily Show, Colbert, Real Time and Curb, so... it's hard to say.

Topics: pro wrestling, UFC, MMA, boxing, football
I don't know what most of those letters are, but I can safely say that professional sports are a perfect metaphor for what is wrong with our culture. Wait, that one's REALLY not metaphoric.

Topics: lowrider cars, rims, bass systems, hydraulics
Simply not applicable.

Topics: airports, airplanes, the concorde, bicycles
I like airports, planes, and bikes.
The concorde can suck a fat one, though (whatever it is).

Topics: energy drinks, coffee, juice, tea, beer, wine, liquor
No, YES, yes, nah, YES, eh, sure.

Topics: vegas, gambling, slot machines, card games
Oddly, non-online video poker is the only thing that does it for me. Thanks, Grandpop.

Topics: magicians, renaissance faires, reno 911, southpark
Used to want to be one, never been, prefer The State, and have never even tried to want to care.



Monday, March 29, 2010

Q&A: Eric Knight

I've had the pleasure of getting acquainted with Eric Knight through facebook. He's not only a truly sincere and kind person but doubles as an amazing singer-songwriter musician! His striking sound and truly original songwriting is bound to captivate. I was really excited to be able to do an interview with him and get in-depth details on his music and personal tastes.

By: Sarah Rocks

Q: First and foremost, how are you?

EK: I'm doing fantastic. How about yourself? Actually extremely busy but in a good way!

Q: You're a crazy awesome musician with a style all your own. How would you describe your sound?

EK: It's a special blend kinda like Starbucks. My sound is rooted in Rock ultimately. This new record has a retro yet modern sound to it if that makes any sense? Eric Knight New Wave Chai Latte as I like to call it.

Q: What kind of musical endeavors are you currently working on? Anything top secret with anyone we know?

EK: Well I always have a million projects going on at the same time. I am working on a project now that is very top secret. It's codename is SYNERGY. Currently I am developing a new entertainment company that has a new unique business model that I think is going to revolutionize the way we do business in both the music and entertainment industries. I am working with some big names in the industry and I am extremely excited about it. Basically, I want to create the next Google, Microsoft, Apple inc. of the entertainment industry. Pretty ambitious.

Q: All the guitar nerds and techies out there are wondering what equipment do you use?

EK: LOL! Ummm I literally plug straight into my amp no effects or fancy gadgets but my wah wah pedal. My amp is a Peavey Classic 100.

Q: Who would you love to work with in the future?

EK: Musically: Daniel Lanois, Brendan O'Brien, U2, Earth Wind & Fire too many more to mention. Others would be mostly people that aren't alive anymore: Albert Einstein, Walt Disney.

Q: Rolling Stone described the last decade in music as a "letdown". Would you agree? What would you like to hear more of or less of this decade?

EK: I would agree to a certain extent. There will always be exceptions that in this past decade there were some exceptional bands but for the most part it was absolute crap! The majors continue to homogenize music more and more to the point that now "autotune" has actually become part of the song, it's INSANE!
I would like to hear more great songs period. Well written well sung songs. And I would like it to get back to development of the artist.

Q: We've noticed your personal style is that of a gentleman. How very fashion forward of you! We must ask why the suit and tie?

EK: I just like what I like. I don't know about how fashion forward I would consider myself. I'm definitely not in the Lady Gaga realm of fashion although I appreciate it.
As far as the suit and tie goes. This new album Delusions Of Grandeur (shameless plug) that I have been working on for what seems like forever now is kinda a homage to the sounds of the 80's. It has a retro yet modern sound as I mentioned before but yet for some reason still sounds like me. They are short, catchy and to the point. So the suit and tie was kind of a reflection of that sound.

Q: Do you have a fave designer? If so, who and why?

EK: Actually I love Armani because of their suits and the way they are cut. Also I love H&M. That's all I practically wear now. I think their stuff is cool and really affordable. H&M ROCKS!!!

Q: I hear about you traveling quite often. Where's your favorite place to visit?

EK: Well just got back from Maui and that was AMAZING! Now I see why people never want to come back from Hawaii. It's truly amazing. I would also say Europe when I performed in France. Can't wait to go back this year.

Q: How do you feel about astrology, numerology, tarot divining & psychics?

EK: Actually that's interesting that you would mention that. I am very into Astrology, Numerology & the Tarot. I've done my share of Psychics in my day as well too. I believe we all have this connection and that all these different outlets connect us. I have a song that I am writing titled "11:11" dealing with how a very special person connected me to that number. I see it everywhere. You should look it up, fascinating stuff.

Q: You're becoming quite a musical sensation! Have you ever had that moment come over you where you thought "Wow.. This is all really happening."? Describe!

EK: Well I don't know about the musical sensation part LOL! I feel like I have been working really hard to get to where I am currently at. I'm very happy so far but I feel that I am just scratching the surface. I've always said I'm running a marathon and not a race. I am just hitting my stride, I believe, as a songwriter and my best songs have still yet to be written.

Q: Any under the radar artists you highly recommend we check out?

EK: Ignacio Val is an artist that I have been working with for the past year or so. He is a Latin rock artist that is about to explode. A star in every sense of the word. I am very excited to be working with him and can't wait for the rest of the world to hear him.

Q: Care to share any tips or advice to budding musicians seeking out a career in music?

EK: Educate yourself and learn everything you can about each side to the business. It's no longer about just writing the music. You have to wear a million different hats in this industry. Knowledge is truly power!

Fun Facts:

Hometown: Hialeah, Florida (LOL) I know don't make fun

Fave pick-me-up when feeling down: Reading

Celebrity Crush: Zoe Saldana

Greatest fear: Failure

Turn offs: Liars

Thing that relaxes you the most: Being surrounded by family and friends

We here at TBB are looking forward to seeing and hearing plenty more from Eric in the future! For more info on Eric's music and career check out his site www.ericknightonline.com


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Q&A: Guitarist Zach Blair of Rise Against

I met Zach so long ago, I must've still been in high school. We probably both were. I recall seeing his band Hagfish play in various lineups, the constant being himself and his brother Doni until they got George Reagan as singer and Toni Barsotti as drummer. The band was so well known for Zach's great stage presence and guitar riffing that an effects pedal maker even put his trademark "sound" on a pedal, and he was well known for playing cool guitars like a custom Gibson silver glitter SG (at a time when glitter guitars were extremely rare), and another fond memory is at a big Orbit room festival in '97, I got to play his customized lucite Dan Armstrong guitar during my set as the band he was in at the time, Hagfish, was playing the festival too, along with Tripping Daisy.
We cut our teeth in the same Dallas music "scene" if you can call it such, that spawned many other talented people. We both toured and played and although many of our peers quit doing music or playing, Zach and I kept going. I've followed him thru the years as he's been a very influential guitarist to me and many others all over the world, and I was very proud of him when, to my surprise, after not having seen him in forever, he was in a music video playing with Rise Against, a very good, very popular band! I called friends gushing about how cool it was that Zach was rocking out in that band. How great. I managed to track him doown via the wonders of the internet and caught up with him and he graciously took time out of his busy schedule to do an email Q&A. Zach is literally one of the funniest, warmest people you could meet, a great guy with a big heart and guitar skills and chops that can blow anyone away! Plus, he's a guitar nerd such as myself. Read on and get to know Zach a little bit, and go see him perform with RA, you'll have a blast!

Q: Hagfish was in my opinion one of the most fun, greatest pop/rock bands ever. How do you feel about the body of work Hagfish released now that you're so many years removed from it?

ZB: man, I'm very proud of it. listening back now it just sends me to where I was when i was a kid and I feel very fortunate to have put out something like that at that age,sort of a snapshot of who i was then. plus,my brother was in the band and it was just all a very good memory

Q: Name 5 major guitar influences from your past and 5 you like currently.

ZB: pete townshend, angus young, johnny ramone,gregg ginn and tony iommi and currently stephen egerton(always), jay robbins, scott ian, mike scaccia and blind marky felchtone

Q: What sort of gear do you play now? Back in the Hagfish days you were definitely a guitar nerd like the rest of us, but you had some sweet guitars, like the silver glitter Gibson SG and the customized Dan Armstrong see-thru guitar.

ZB: I'm fortunate enough now to be working with the great folks at Gibson guitars. I'm playing standard Les Pauls for the most part but lately have been missing the SG's! For amps i've really been using a Marshall 900 with a Mesa dual rectifier

Q: Do you use effects pedals? maaybe a little-known fact is that didn't you at one time have your own effects distortion pedal named after you?

ZB: ha! it was "the integrated tube" pedal from dod,and they had a preset that was called "the Hagfish sound"! wow,you remember that?! no,no pedals really. i've been using the Seymour Duncan pickup booster for leads but other than that i just run straight

Q: How'd you fall into the guitar position you currently hold?

ZB: well,i knew a guy named Phil Hill from a band called "the Teen idols" that we're on Fat Wreck Chords and this was the time when Hagfish was on that label as well. he went out as a fill-in guitar player for Rise and when they came through Dallas i went to see the show. I really liked the band and at that show Phil told me they needed a player but at the time I was obligated to Gwar(which I played with for four years). Fast forward a few years and I played in a band with Bill Stevenson (ALL/Descendents/Black Flag) called "Only Crime"(a dream come true) by this time Bill had recorded a record for these guys and since Bill's studio is a big family atmosphere(and I've recorded every record I've ever done there) we were prone to get close! Anyway, we went on tour with Rise Against and got along famously. A few years later they lost their guitar player and remembered me and liked my playing and it was a perfect fit! It's been three years and feels like three days!

Q: Tell us all what Rise Against has been up to besides touring like crazy?

ZB: man,a whole lot of that!! This band is the little engine that could. nobody tours as much as this band, I'm convinced. and as a result the band has huge,great crowds worldwide and great fans. I always believed in this band and knew they would have a cool career and being a part of it now is just amazing.

Q: Do you have any funny or crazy tour stories you can share with us?

Well our singer, Tim was moving around on stage and picked his guitar up and just dropped it on my head! a Les Paul custom! It knocked me out! He's done that a few time actually. Also,theres a ton of weird Gwar s**t that would probably be litigious territory if you printed it.

Q: What are some of your favourite places you've been on tour and why?

ZB: Dublin, Ireland is amazing! It's like a movie set! Really small,quaint town. I love it.

Q: are you getting to take a hand in any songwriting or arranging, or any musical ideas when ya'll record?

ZB: Well,the band was already operating very well in that area and the writing is handled by Tim the singer and Joe the bass player. but everyone gets a say and being a writer myself I have to put in my two cents when I can!

Q: You went bald at an earlier age. yet, I've never seen you do the full beard thing many bald men do. What's your opinion on the beard thing and why do you stay clean-shaven. Also, what sort of razors/ shaving products do you swear by?

ZB: That's funny, I just grew a beard on a bet!! I just personally like the streamlined look. plus, I've toured my whole life and this is just easier for me, shave it ever so often and don't worry about hair care products, ya know? I shaved initially because I saw the writing on the wall and nothing is sadder than a guy that hangs on! And the Gillette Mach 5 is by far the superior product.

Q: Do you drink or smoke or anything? Why or why not?

ZB: I don't do either and never have. My parents were big fans and purveyors of both and I just grew up with it. It wasn't taboo like in most households. I could have done it with my parents! It was more rebellion to not do it in my house! Anyway, I always knew I wanted to do this with my life as well and I've only seen drugs and booze f**k this life up. Plus,when I was a kid I discovered the whole straight edge movement and identified with that. Now as an adult I still make the choice. It's just not for me. I have nothing against those that chose to partake, everyone in the world does practically!

Q: how do you feel the music biz changed over the last 15 years and do you like the changes or not?

ZB: It seems to be more widely accessible. and free! I'm on the fence,really. I mean,every decade or so there's a new way to buy music, a new medium. vinyl,8 track,cassette,cd and now mp3's. The problem is now s**t can be stolen in the privacy of your bedroom. I'm for more people getting turned on to music. And,for me,as a working musician it really seems like the one thing you can't download is an organic live experience. You can watch youtube but it's not the same. So more people are going to see these bands they're getting turned on to which works out for those of us that are still out there 250 days a year.

Q: What's next for you and do you have any other musical projects other than RA?

ZB: There's no time for anything else. it's Rise life! And I'm happy with that. I've found my tribe, so to speak and am ready for anything this throws at me. That having been said, we have some weekends in December including the tenth anniversary show at the Metro in Chicago on the 18th and we're just going to play the first two records! Should be fun and it's for charity. After that we go to Australia in January and then we're home for the good part of next year with much needed time off to write.

Random topic round.

Topics: Rubiks cube. Atari. Simon. Guitar hero. Rubiks snake.

ZB: I'm no good at games. if there was one about obsessing and fidgeting nervously I'd be a pro

Topics: Skateboarding. Surfing. Cycling. Olympic sports. Luge.

ZB: I do yoga. I'm not good at stuff.

Topics: gun shows. pornography. church. gay marriage.

ZB: I think gay marriage should be legal worldwide. If someone has the capacity to love ANYONE enough to marry them they should be able to.

Topics: coffee. energy drinks. sodas. juice.

ZB: I drink far too much coffee and used to only drink Diet Dr. Pepper. I got really sick last year and since then haven't been able to drink it at all.

Topics: cereal. burgers. truck stops. drive-thrus.

ZB: hmm, I only eat a few things and you haven't mentioned any of them so there!

Topics: jeans. slacks. shants. pahorts.

ZB: jeans. I'm always on the search for good jeans. but,then again, aren't we all?

Topics: boxers. briefs. tighty-whiteys.

ZB: boxer briefs!

Topics: rims that cost more than the hooptie they are on, bassing loud
with the windows down in 100 degree heat, jorts so long they are like
pants, t-shirts so long they are like a mumu

ZB: why you gotta hate?

Look for Rise Against and Zach at a concert hall near you and check out their music!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Q&A: Brendan Brown AKA BBB of Wheatus!

I've never met Brendan Brown from the band Wheatus, but I did like the single "Teenage Dirtbag" they had released many moons, ago, which landed a slot on the soundtrack for the movie "Loser". My Floridian accomplice Sarah Rocks and I were discussing the song one night, and she decided to contact him via the wonders of the internet and voila! An entertaining and informative blog post for all you little creeps in internetland out there. Triple B is a pretty cool dude, had fun with the random topic format and I am pleased to now be his gmail acquaintance.

Topics: Rubiks cube, Rubiks snake, simon, guitar hero, deejay hero

BBB: Rubiks cube: As a kid I was WAY more interested in living creatures than in plastic puzzles. I always thought it was neat that some kids would simply pull the damn stickers off and solve it by placing them back on the right sides. Rubiks PWNED, if you will....The same goes for the snake. I had several real snakes and preferred them to plastic ones...besides, toy puzzles don't eat live mice and rats.

BBB: simon: Haaaated it. That game is designed to train sheep.

BBB: guitar hero: As a real guitarist I am afraid to play it, lest it detract from my actual shredding skills which are formidable....but we have just finished a Teenage Dirtbag version for Rockband next year so take that.

BBB: deejay hero: Seems very cool but I have not yet played it....I do have a MASSIVE vinyl collection and we are releasing Pop, Songs and Death Vol. 1 AND 2 on vinyl next year...attached are some pics of me cutting a test acetate with my friend Paul from Saltmastering.com Vinyl rules.

Topics: boxer, briefs, tighty-whiteys, speedos, board shorts

BBB: I have gone commando since 1988. I cannot understand nor can I abide the concept of mens underwear. As a consequence I do not own a single pair of Boxers, Tighty-whiteys, or board shorts and I would be quick to consider that speedos are in fact some sort of medieval torture device conceived by religious fundamentalists. Free ball or f*** off.

Topics: macs, PCs, commodore 64s, atari 2600

BBB: Macs!!!!.....I hate PC's although I am forced to use one in the case of our Sonoma DSD Multitrack recording system. Regretfully, Sonoma will not run on a Mac. So we own 1 Dedicated PC and 5 Macs, not including iPhones. I used to have a Commodore 64 when I was a kid and I know nothing of Ataris except for the horrifying sound that Pong makes....was it Pong?

Topics: energy drinks, sodas, espresso, drip coffee, juice

BBB: Massive quantities of strong drip coffee, tons of water and lots of tea....I hate energy drinks. Most juice has too much sugar in it.

Topics: mardi gras, spring break, day of the dead, new years day

BBB: Day Of The Dead.....but you skipped Festivus.

Topics: john sencio, idalis, kennedy, kurt loder, tabitha soren

BBB: Kennedy: I'd hit it.....Who is John Sencio? Kurt Loader: an honorable and respectable journalist, something MTV obviously has no use for. Tabitha Soren: um, grrrrreat!

Topics: soul train, the grind, so you think you can dance, dance dance revolution

BBB: I only dance at weddings when I am incredibly drunk and I am very very good at it...I usually wind up clearing the floor. I can break dance and Tom Delay is an a**hole.

Topics: pants, jeans, jorts, capris, cargo shorts, leggings

BBB: None of the above, I usually wear one of several sweat suit pants that I have, some velour, some not, all XXL.

Topics: visors, ball caps, berets, tams, toboggan hats, cowboy hats, fedoras

BBB: Toboggan hats...I have several....what is a Tam?

Topics: electric guitars, acoustic guitars, guitar amps, guitar strings, effects pedals

BBB: I only use acoustic guitars with Tomastik Infeld Spectrum Bronze Strings....there has never been an electric guitar used on a wheatus record except for one single lonely overdub on the song "Sunshine" from our 1st record. I hate electric guitars. They are hateful unmusical things that should be used as firewood. In order to get the sound that I get on wheatus records I have a tremendous amount of processing gear namely the Digitech 2120 Artist preamp and a load of MIDI CC assignments....It's magic, like god. Guitar amps sound best when unplugged and used as boat anchors, or as ballast in a spacecraft.

Topics: skateboards, surfing, snowboarding, skiing, bobsled

BBB: BMX....I have a collection of vintage BMX bikes and I ride trails when ever I can...Suspension frames are for pussies.

Topics: two-man luge, biathlon, pole vault, high jump, javelin throw, lawn darts

BBB: Two-man Luge....I mean, those people are crazy....But I have always held lawn darts to be mythical because of the numerous accounts of suburban 4th of July accidents that they are associated with....more dangerous than fireworks, says I (eye).

Topics: bling, grills, tshirts so long they look like mumus, rims thatcost more than the hooptie they are on, jorts so long they are like pants

BBB: I can appreciate bling but only if it's a been applied to fake stuffed animals....For instance, I have a Bling Shark at home on the wall. I own and regularly wear Mumu shirts. I cannot afford rims that are more expensive than my car. I love a long a** jort.

Topics: mcdonalds, BK, wendys, chick-fil-a, arby's, carls jr, subway,
cracker barrel

BBB: Cracker Barrel.....it rules because our keyboard player cannot eat there without experiencing a psychotic schism from reality. The rest are not REALLY food.

Essay question. pick two of three.

Q: Are there any funny or crazy tour stories you can legally share with us?


Q: What's the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you as a teen/ adult?

BBB: I poop my pants sometimes....the proper nomenclature is "Shart"

Q: If johnny has 3 guitars, and sells 2, then buys 10, and then Ed
steals 3 of them and sells two then buys 8, and then Ed swaps 4 of his
for 3 of Johnnys, how many does johnny have?

BBB: There are 3 answers to this problem:

1) Did Ed swap WITH Johnny or with someone else?

2) Neither of them have any guitars because I kidnapped them both and sold their organs on the black market....I burned all the guitars to keep warm through the winter. I have a long beard and elves, who am I?

3) ....UM....9 if Ed swapped with Johnny, 8 if he did not..... I think? I smashed my cosign calculator against the wall during this question and had to use my cats to figure it out.....they are not very reliable with the math.

S&S: Lastly, please tell us all what you have going on presently creatively and musically, what are your future plans and how can everyone find you online?

BBB: wheatus just became the 1st band to ever release and album for the Playstation 3. I'm proud of that...can you tell? You can download it (Pop, Songs and Death Vol. 1, The Lightning EP) in many different formats, for free or donation here: wheatus.com

There is a movie called April Showers on iTunes right now with 2 of the songs from our new EP in it.

We are currently working on Vol. 2 and will release that exclusively on wheatus.com in April 2010. We will also be re-releasing our 1st record next year in a special 10th anniversary edition.

I love you,
brendan b brown


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Q&A: Photographer & Artist Angelina Fitzgerald

I first met Ange at a local concert- I think it was my pals the Boys named Sue- at a now-closed bar on Greenville ave. Since then, I've been impressed with not only her photography but all around creative drive and how she brings people together and has so much energy flowing. She's very cool and it's about time everyone knows who she is and what she does!

Q: What got you into photography and what has kept you interested in it?

Ange: I've always been really interested in photography and at school, I studied it (film) but then my Minolta got stolen and I lost interest due to lack of gear and just getting busy with other stuff, like moving to Seattle. I was reunited with (digital) photography when a guy I had a crush on put his camera in my hands on a weekend road trip to Austin... it's been a love affair ever since (with the camera, not the guy)
for me, I shoot to get to the editing process. there's nothing better than a full memory card and a free afternoon with nothing to do but edit my heart out w/ the National radio on Pandora in the background. I adore looking at what I've shot, adjusting it slightly (if necessary - cropping/lightening/darkening is mostly all I do) and then moving on to the next image. I'm totally addicted to the whole post production process and would be the happiest of camera campers if that's all I did every day, all day long.
I love looking at the photos I've taken in the past, and reliving that moment, emotion, energy... that, for me - is the whole point.

Q: What would you say to someone who says that photography is just luck and opinion, that no one person can say what is a good photo or not?

Ange: I guess I would agree that "photography is in some cases just luck and opinion". who said that? you?
I think everyone has their own idea of what a good photograph is, much like any art form - its all subjective.
people have different tastes and that's what makes Art so interesting. it's also fun when you click with someone who has the same taste as you.

Q: What sort of camera and gear do you use and why? Do you have a favourite camera and why?

Ange: I shoot w/ Dex, who is a Canon 5D. mostly because that's what I learned on. Dex has a bunch of cool lenses that I swap out but I'm partial to my 16-35mm wide angle. I just acquired a Yashica-A from some friends who collect vintage camera gear, and this camera I am totally unfamiliar with, know not the first thing about it, but I'm really looking forward to the medium format film photo field trip adventures I plan to have with it.

Q: What is your favourite subject matter and why?

Ange: as far as genre, I like shooting pretty much everyone and anything when it inspires me. lately I've been shooting mostly for hire and it's become work and something I have to get through so I've noticed that I don't have the passion nor desire as often to shoot just for fun when I have the time, probably because I've been kept so busy shooting for other people, I've found that I maybe need to give it a rest for awhile.
I definitely have to be feeling it and when I do, I like street shooting and am not really into having everything all planned out. I sortof fly by the seat of my pants and like to see what happens. I will say that I definitely prefer getting people in my shots most of all. love shooting musicians and bands. and kids. I'm more of an on location than in studio type of shooter.

Q: Do you have any favourite photographers?

Ange: I have so many favorite photographers. take me to the bookstore and I'll make a beeline for the photography section every time.
Sally Mann, William Eggleston & Andreas Gehret are just a few I'm obsessed with at the moment.

Q: what sort of bands/artists do you enjoy? Guilty pleasures, please!

Ange: listening to music is like breathing.
one band that I am enjoying right now, (as I type this even) is the Rogue Wave on Independent Lens.
The Boom Boom Box is my FAVORITE FAVORITE FAVORITE local band right now. they are so badass and brilliant. "I take my medicine. I have my uniform on" zomg. I just love them. I love them so much that I'm a little bit intimidated by them and when I saw their show at the doublewide last night for Cha Cha's bday I couldn't bring myself to speak to them or ask them if I could take their photograph. what a nerd, huh?
other musical artists I am really inspired by: Iron & Wine, the entire Garden State soundtrack, Neutral Milk Hotel, the Dandy Warhols, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Ryan Adams, Nada Surf, The National, Beck, Tegan & Sara, the Decemberists, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Sufjan, the Musettes, the French Kicks and so so so many more. I could go on for many more paragraphs here.

visual artists: I'm a huge fan of Michele Mikesell's work and my daughter Sage Ryan's artwork is ridiculously amazing too. My nephew Jack just turned 8 and he is a really fantastic artist...he has a gift. oh and check out Gigi Bio out of BKLN NY - she does amazing photo collages. Gustav Klimt.

Q: What other artistic pursuits do you have other than photography?

Ange: artistic efforts I'd like to pursue other than photography: I'm looking forward to fine tuning my screen printing skillz. I want to master photo transfer to canvas/wood/fabric. I'd also like to become a fabulous seamstress and make my own clothes. I want to get better at making shooter straps out of recycled bike tire tubes, it's an ongoing merch project for www.photopol.us.
I want to weld metal. one of my dearest memories is of sitting in my grandfather's workshop and watching him weld together stained glass window panes.

Q: tell us about your relationship with bicycles.

Ange: let's see...what's the deal w/ my relationship with bicycles? I love biking. I wish Dallas had a better relationship with bicycles. I have a personal relationship with Clyde, my ride who is an ultra cool blue cruiser I picked up on Craig's List. He has a bell and a basket. we're uber cool. jealous?
I really would love to see a culture in Dallas that is more bicycle friendly. I lived in Seattle for 5 years and it's very different there.
I really prefer a more urban city, that's more dense, where you can walk most places or bike, where public transportion is the norm.

Q: What sort of plans do you have for the future? Anything fun and
exciting you're working on?

Ange: some of my plans for the future include a photography teaching trip to Laos/Thailand/Cambodia, spending more quality time in Brooklyn and Manhattan with my beautiful daughter, Sage Ryan. and continuing to live/laugh/love/learn in general. my relationships w/ my family and friends are most important to me in life.
I've got 2 shows coming up in December that I'm babbling about to anyone who will listen:
my pal Clint & I throw an art party every December and called COLLISION. this is our 3rd year and we're really excited about our musical guests, the FELONS and the HAPPY BULLETS playing this year. We've also got a fantastic lineup of local artists exhibiting some awesome work to benefit Arts Fighting Cancer. it's Dec 5th, from 7-midnight at Rorschach Gallery @ 518 West Davis (in Oak Cliff near the Bishop Arts District, across the street from Gloria's Restaurant)
Art Conspiracy is turning 5 this year and this is my second year as volunteer wrangler/coordinator. we've got 150 artists coming in to build out their art onsite and then we auction it off on the evening of December 12th at 511 West Commerce, Dallas TX.
I'm SO excited about the amazing line up of music we've got scheduled, including:
The Crash That Took Me
The Boom Boom Box
Telegraph Canyon
it is going to be so rad - last year was a total blast and this year is going to be even better.
more info can be found at www.artconspiracy.org benefitting resolana.
I invite anyone who wants to get involved to contact me in order to help out.
we've got lots to do to get the rough warehouse space ready for ArtCon5. we're building a stage and we also need people to help out the night of the event 5pm-midnight. contact ange@artconspiracy.org for details.
other areas of interest:
I don't watch much television, unless it's some kind of documentary on photography, or the independent film channel.
I used to be addicted to the food channel. I love to cook.
I love going to the movies. LOVE IT. but not the normal kind, mostly art house cinema. indies. sadly, not much time for it recently.
oh, and my friends and I are in a camera gang called "Drive By Shooters" and we used to regularly go to brunch on sundays and then off on photo field trip adventures. we really need to start that up again. I miss it.
I love to read. I wish I had more time to read. I love books. I usually carry a book (sometimes two) w/ me where ever I go, just so I can read if I ever find myself standing in line somewhere. or stranded in traffic. someday I want to own a library or a bookstore.
some of my favorite books:
Kiss My Tiara & Hypocrite in a white poufy dress, both by Susan Jane Gilman; Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman; The Idiot Girls Action Adventure Club by Laurie Notaro; Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them by Al Franken; Dude, Where's My Country by Michael Moore; At Home in the World by Joyce Maynard; The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams; The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath; 3 by Julie Hilden; Pink Slip by Rita Ciresi; Devil's Knot by Mara Leveritt; Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel; Riding in Cars with Boys by Beverly Donofrio; Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier; Geek Love by Katherine Dunn; Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll; Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak; Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole; Lucky by Alice Sebold; Dry by Augusten Burroughs; Naked by David Sedaris; Blackbird by Jennifer Lauck; The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides; The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank; Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel; The Sexual Life of Catherine M by Catherine Millet; Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azur Nafisi; The Hours by Michael Cunningham; Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Choke by Chuck Palahniuk, Charlotte's Web by E.B. White; The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger; On the Road by Jack Kerouac; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher; The Liar's Club by Mary Karr; The Abortion by Richard Brautigan; The W Effect (Bush's War on Women) edited by Laura Flanders; The Complete Kama Sutra translated by Alain Danielou; Cad, Confessions of a Toxic Bachelor by Rick Marin; Diet for a New America by John Robbins; Henry and June by Anais Nin; Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf; Strip City by Lily Burana; A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers; Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell; SPELLS by Matthew Green; House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski; Oh, the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss; Total Yoga by Tara Fraser; Toot and Puddle by Holly Hobbie; Lyle and the Birthday Party by Bernard Waber; Guess How Much I Love You? by Sam McBratney; The Rainbabies by Laura Krauss Melmed; At the Cafe Splendid by Terry Denton; How Georgina Drove the Car Very Carefully from Boston to New York by Lucy Bate; Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, Girls Poker Night by Jill A. Davis

other than that, in general, I'm a big fan of bringing people together for a good cause. usually art and live local music are involved.
I'm for hugs.
and no drama.
so in closing, I am all about reading, writing, art, books, films, photography, live alternative music, liberal politics, tarot cards, cooking (the new radio station, KXT 91.7 rocks btw and has changed the quality of life in Dallas so drastically) and promoting a creative and cool camera culture in my community,

please tell your readers to feel free and stop by my website www.angefitzgerald.com, and contact me for any shooting they might need done...I'm currently booking holiday portraits at a discounted rate and my calender is filling quickly.

also, everyone needs to visit www.photopol.us. the metropolis for DFW photog nerds RIGHT NOW. it's a little photography blog my my friend Andrea Roberts & I started, Andrea also happens to play bass for the Happy Bullets. She's a photography nerd, I'm a camera gangsta. we make a good team. photopol.us (rhymes with metropolis) is everything photography, all of the time, we've got scoop on local photo exhibits and shows, national photography news, daily pix chosen from our flickr pool, (http://www.flickr.com/groups/1058404@N22/) interview every friday w/ a photographer ArtStar, project snapshots, photo field trips and so much more. stay tuned, because we'll be taking it NATIONAL very soon, eventually WORLDWIDE. Do you think they're ready?

Q: Do you have any funny or crazy stories you'd care to share with us?

Ange: ok yes, I do have this funny story but it might be the type of situation where you maybe had to be there to think it's funny?
like, it's hilarious to me but it may not be to anyone else.
but I'll tell it to you anyway.
so my daughter and I were staying in NYC, in the theatre district and it's winter, february, FREEZING COLD. like, you wear tights under your long johns and jeans over that and then a long coat on top of all of it. she was getting rundown and a little bit sick so when she was on break from rehearsals she always wanted to go around the corner to this asian place that had really good hot and sour soup.
so we go in there one day for lunch, and we order and I sit down w/ my spring roll and she goes back up to the counter to get those little crunchy things that go on the top of her soup. only, the thing is... the people working behind the counter CAN NOT for the life of them figure out what she needs. she is trying to explain it and saying "chips? you know, those crunchy things? that go on top of the soup?"
and they aren't understanding her AT ALL and they are holding all these different things up, hoping one of them is right and saying, "what? you need napkin?" "toothpick?" "water?" "cracker?" "cup?" and she keeps saying "no! chips! crunchy? on top of the soup?" and looking over at me helplessly and I'm laughing so hard witnessing all of this that i'm crying.
and I can't breathe I'm laughing so hard.
we still, to this day, laugh about that until we're both crying. it's good. she's so fun. she's my favorite person in the universe.
our dog, Jane Louise, is our 2nd favorite.

Find Ange Fitzgerald using one or more of the following ways:
Ange F. Does Photography
All photos © Ange Fitzgerald


Q&A: Ren the guitarist of The Sweethearts

When I saw The Sweethearts perform in Austin in 2005, I was not only impressed, but found that they were fun people to hang with as well. Ren and I become friends and have hung out both in concert situations and normal situations and he's a cool dude, and a guitar nerd like myself. I'd already Q&A'd their singer Linette this past summer, so it only seemed fitting to see what Ren thought about everything.

Q: Do you like the slogan "keep Austin weird" or does it bug you?

Ren: Ha! I don't really like it. You can't go anywhere in Austin without seeing someone with a "Keep Austin Weird" shirt or a car with the bumper sticker on it. They have an annual party here to in Austin to celebrate Eeyore's birthday from Winnie the Pooh which I guess is something that keeps Austin weird. I've heard that people meet at a park hang out and form hippie drum circles. I've never been to one though and I don't think I want to. I just don't get it. I remember going with you the No Doubt concert in Dallas and there was a girl with a pink tie die " Keep Austin Weird" shirt in front of us. I remember it really bugged you! That was funny!

Q: What's the Austin music scene like? Does it live up to the stellar reputation?

Ren: The Austin music scene that I liked when I first moved up here is gone. Most of the cool local bands are gone. There's still shows going on every night but I don't recognize any of the bands. Seems like there's a lot of bands that get together for a little while and then just disappear. One thing for sure is Austin does not have many people who are into pop punk music. There's not much of a fan base for it here. Most people in this town like the indie and emo bands . They do really well here. The only times you get to see cool punk bands is at the annual Fun Fun Fun Fest and Chaos In Tejas.

Q: Do you have any funny or crazy tour stories or hometown concert stories you can legally share with us?

Ren: We had a crazy and scary experience on tour once. We had a show in Downey California and we got to the venue really early.We decided to find a liquor store a start drinking in the van to kill some time. We had no idea where we were going or knew how close Downey is to Compton. We finally ended up finding a liquor store in Compton. Our bass player at the time Kyle and I went inside while Joel and Linette waited in the van. We got down with tour cash in hand which was a big mistake! A thug walked in and whispered in Kyle's ear to give him the money cause he had a gun. It was scary! Kyle acted like he didn't hear him and the store clerk kicked the guy out. We saw him waiting outside for us. He got impatient and walked back in to get some cigarettes and Kyle and I ran out of the store! Joel was thankfully waiting for us with the van on so we jumped in and hauled ass out of there!

Q: What sort of guitar gear are you playing thru these days?

Ren: Right now I am playing a DiPinto Mach IV guitar through a B52 head and a Randall cab. I'm left handed so it's really hard for me to find cool looking guitars that sound good. I got a good endorsement deal with DiPinto and I really like my new guitar. I'm saving some money to get myself a JCM 800 half stack. My guitar sounds amazing through those classic amps!

Q: Do you have any personal favourite songs The Sweethearts have done and why?

Ren: One of my favorites is a song Linette wrote about 10 years ago called "You Did It Again". We recorded that song on our first album and decided to record it again for our last ep " Take Note" We changed that song so much and made it sound 20 times better. It's cool playing and listening to the new version cause it just reminds me of how much we've grown as a band.

Q: What's the songwriting process like for The Sweethearts?

Ren: Linette will usually write her own songs and I write my own songs. We do have some songs we've written together. We then take them and play them as a full band at practice and just start tweaking them from there with everyone's input.

Q: How did The Sweethearts begin as a band?

Ren: Linette and I met when we were 15. We played in a punk cover band together and started going out. We ended up moving to Austin when we were 18 and started looking for people to play with. We started as a 3 piece. Linette played guitar and vocals and I played bass and sang backups. We had my brother Aaron travel to Austin to play drums on our first record and and just kept playing as the Sweethearts with a few different lineup changes since then. That was around 2000.

Q: What other bands/artists do you listen to regularly that inspire you?

Ren: I'm really inspired by alot of the Rock n Roll and Doo Wop bands and artists from the 50's. Two of my favorite artists are the late Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly. I just love their sound and songwriting style. I wish they were still around. As for punk bands I really like The Leftovers and the Copyrights. I wish I could write awesome songs like they do. I think they're both great bands.I'm really inspired by Ben Weasel as well.

Q: What's next for The Sweethearts?

Ren: I don't know right now. I think we'll eventually start working on some new material and maybe go into the studio and record. I got a little burned out on playing live shows recently so I don't think we'll be hitting the road anytime soon. I prefer to be in the studio working on new songs and ideas as a band. That's my favorite part about being in a band. I could be in a studio for days!

Random topic round.

Topic: Tex-mex

Ren: Tex- Mex food is my favorite!I love to cook mexican food. Linette makes the best mexican rice ever!

Topic: guitar hero

Ren: I recently bought a Wii system and Guitar Hero. It's really fun to play. Linette and I have a Guitar Hero band called "The Party Anjimalz". We were supposed to be calld the Party Animals but I accidently spelled it wrong and just left like that.

Topic: classic cars

Ren: I love classic cars. I've always wanted a 1955 Chevy Belaire. I like to watch the classic auto auction show on t.v. I just sit there and drool over all the awesome classic cars they auction off!

Topic: sodas

Ren: I think I drink too much Coca Cola. I really need to cut down.

Topics: boxers, briefs, tightey-whiteys

Ren: You're probably going to think it's weird but I like to wear my boxers over my briefs.

Topics: sports, olympics, luge, skiing, football, soccer

Ren: I've been watching alot of football lately.

Topics: skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing

Ren: I used to be pretty good at skateboarding when I was younger. I would ride my board all over town and then I justed stopped. I wish I could've kept skating.


Q&A: Singer/Guitarist Brijitte West

I first saw Brijitte West when I got to open up for NY Loose on toour in 1997. She was beautiful, sexy, abrasive, dangerous- everything a female rock-n-roller should be. Her band NY Loose was signed to a big label, and had released a wonderful rock and roll album called "year of the rat" which I still listen to on a weekly basis to this day. I lost track of them and then maybe a year or so ago went looking for them online and discovered Brijitte had a nice solo career going. I got in touch with her and we mailed each other CDs, and I discovered she had relocated to London. We keep in touch regularly and hopefully one day we will be able to collaborate or tour together and just rock. She found time to do this Q&A and it's about time all of you learn just how Rad Brijitte West is.

Q: What was the New York music scene like that you came from, and is it overly romanticized, or was it really a cool scene?

BW: It was a really cool scene. There were so many bands. New York was relatively cheap so you could be a waiter and still have enough for rent and rehearsal. The club bookers were really supportive too and did not put too much pressure on the bands to bring people in. It was before myspace and all that so we really had to go out and be seen if we wanted to be in the scene. There was a lot of different sorts of music happening as well. Sure you had the likes of NY Loose but there were also some amazing 60’s sounding garage bands, stuff like the Chrome Cranks, Blues Explosion and also clubs like the Empire Soul Club where you could dance to obscure records by Irma Thomas. Tramps was also great and you could go see Wilson Picket or Charles Brown tinkling away on piano in the restaurant next door. New York City was full of music. Now it is full of bloody bankers!

Q: Your biggest album with NY loose was arguably "year of the rat", which I adore. Do you have any favourite songs off of it? How did it all work out with a big label at the time?

BW: My favourite song is Detonator not only is it such a cool word but i also wrote the song in five minutes. I have always been a bit tightly wound . Big label ruined us. We signed to the wrong label and had a s**t manager. Music biz worse case scenario number 100,000,000.

Q: What made you move to England, and how do you like it there compared to America and New York?

BW: I moved to London for a change and kind of got stuck here. Life sort of happened ya know? I never had a reason to move back. Now I regret ever coming to this place except of course that I have my gorgeous and amazing and fabulous two children.
I live in London which most people think would be really exciting. London is shit..It’s dirty crowded expensive, full of head scarves, no quality of life, and there is no rock scene. The biggest thing here is X Factor and that creep with the high waisted jeans and all the garbage he churns out for the brainless masses. I live in my own bubble here.

Q: What have you been up to all these years? Catch everyone up on your achievements, what takes up your time, both musically and non musical.

BW: Well I have a certificate to say that I can run a horse stable. I also have a certificate to say I can teach English as a foreign language...um..I have two kids...giving birth in the National Health Service is like giving birth during the Victorian era. I had no pain relief. I don’t think you want the details there. My life has been about my kids. I have become a kid again through them. I had to ditch their father unfortunately and now I am a single mom living in a foreign country. Life is tough so I made the toughest coolest and sexiest record you will ever hear!

Q: What are you currently working on and what's up next for you?

BW: I have just made the record that I have always wanted to make!

Q: What sort of gear do you play out of? I know you were fond of SGs.

BW: Marshall tube amp, cab and SG with one p90 single coil pickup.

Q: Do you use any effects pedals and why?

BW: No too complicated

Q: what beauty products can you not live without?

BW: Kiehl’s Creme de Corps

Q: do you have any favourite spa treatments?

BW: If I could afford spa treatments I would have a favourite, it’s been a long time since I have been to a spa. Sorry to p*** on your glamour parade.

Q: Do you have any favourite songs you have written and why?

BW: My new favourite from the upcoming solo album is called “Hey Papito” It’s about my boyfriend. I had no idea he was famous until I went to Brazil where he lives. It’s about being on the beach in Rio and also about all our mutual friends in New York. It’s as if the Beach Boys and the Shangri Las and the Ramones all have a big happy clam bake!

Q: What inspires you to write songs?

BW: Literature, at the moment it would be Leo Tolstoy. Also, really interesting sentences or words I hear randomly, my new album is all mostly about being in my sexual prime and not being able to physically be with the one I want to be with. Sexual frustration can be very inspiring.

Q: What other bands and artists do you simply adore? what are your guilty pleasures?

BW: Rothko, Darlington and Green Day, and really goofy songs like “Mairzi Oats and Dozey Oats and Little Lambs Eat Ivy”. Fave new band is Brothers of Brazil.

Q: Where are some of your favourite places you've been to on tour, and why?

BW: I love Chicago and I saw a ghost dressed in 80’s clothes in the girls bathroom an the Metro just before the gig.

Q: are there any crazy or funny tour stories you can legally tell us about?

BW: Marilyn Manson made all their groupies drink Sea Monkies!!!!

Random topic round!

Topics: bacon butties. are you being served. fish n chips. bobbies. keeping up appearances.

BW: Ugghh all so bloody English...fattening and tasteless, and unappealing uniforms.. 75% of the English culture wear track suits on a daily basis though, that is the reality and they have never seen a track in their lives except of course the race track down at the betting shop!.

Topics: top of the pops. sloane square. piccadilly circus. the Queen.

BW: No thanks to all of the above, give me Prince Charles at least he does useful things with his power.

Topics: east village. CBGB. the continental. coney island high. the ramones.

BW: The breeding ground of sleazy rock and roll. No place in the world will ever be cooler when those places where at their heyday!

Topics: rockabilly music. lesley gore. elvis presley. little richard.

BW: All genius through and through. I bet they all had a fondness for oriental cats.

Topics: rubiks cube. rubiks snake. atari. miss pac man. galaga.

BW: No way never, nada. I am a surfer girl!!!!

Topics: british pound. US greenbacks. the concorde ssupersonic jet

BW: I am a huge aviation and airplane fanatic so I must tell you I saw the last flight of the concord standing in Kew Gardens here in England. I actually wept. Did I just admit that?

Topics: airports. airplanes. cross-atlantic flights. flight attendants.

BW: TAM the Brazilian airline gives you those buttery toffee sweets for some reason. They have the best flight attendants because they are Brazilian and they are always happy and the best bit is they play awesome classic Bossa Nova when you get
on and when you are leaving the plane. I fly to Brazil quite a lot. So much so that I have my bag checked every single time I get back to England. I guess they think I am a drug smuggler. They don’t believe me when I tell them I fly there so much because I am in love with Supla the Brazilian superstar.

Topics: handbags. purses. fanny packs. heels. shoes. makeup.

BW: Um women who spend their entire months wages on a handbag I cannot understand. The only way I would carry an “it” bag is if I had a boyfriend that was rich enough to buy me one and even then I would punk it by defacing it with black magic marker just to be really annoying. Fanny packs are one of the great American fashion faux pas, heels? yes ,whenever possible and black eyeliner and lots of mascara even if you are only going to the post office.

listen to Brijitte's fiery guitars and beautiful voice at www.myspace.com/brijittewest and www.myspace.com/nyloose


Q&A: New York City girl rocker Kitty Kowalski

I first got to meet Kitty as far as I can recall in 2005. She set up a show at CBGB, and not only was it a blast, her band rocked hard, and she played this crazy cool glitter green guitar. Me and my band stayed at her apartment and we had a lovely time. She set up another show at the Continental but was called away to Sweden on business and couldn't make it. We'd been in the same rock-and-roll orbit for years, and I believe we have a mutual respect for each other's music and opnions on so many things. She's been a New Yorker since the old days and has seen it all. She found time to do this Q&A, and I think all of you need to get to know miss Kitty K!

Q: what sort of guitar are you playing now? you still have that crazy cool green glitter one? why do you play the one you do?

KK: I've gotten into my semi-hollow body Mosrite lately. It's a 1962. I still have the sea foam green 1972 Gibson SG Special. I think it's my favorite for the way it plays and the way it sounds. Nasty!

Q: what sort of amplifier do you use and why?

KK: For small rooms I have a 1960s Silvertone combo 2 X 10. Then for the arenas, I have the 1977 Marshall 100W JMP.

Q: do you use any effects pedals and why?

KK: Nope. To much to mess with. I'm not that technical.

Q: what made you want to become a rock and roller to begin with?

KK: David Bowie. Ha ha. No seriously, I used to play "Beatles" with my sisters when I was like 5. I watched The Monkees and Josie & The Pussycats n TV, and said, that's the life for me. But seriously, David Bowie.

Q: what are 5 landmark rock albums for you and why?

KK: Never Mind The Bollocks - it was like the album I had waited my whole life to hear. Can't Stand The Rezillos - it has great timing song to song to song, and no album filler. X's Under The Big Black Sun - perfect mix of the uniquely American music I love - Country, Rockabilly and punk - a great collection of Americana. Dawn of The Dickies - some of the tightest, catchiest and clever songwriting known to man. Leonard Phillips is the John Phillips of my generation. Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - a concept, a man, a band. Mythological in its undertaking.

Q: what bands/artists do you listen to on a regular basis lately?

KK: The Wildhearts - I discovered them kinda late so I'm catching up. Electric Six - it's like a party on a disc. Hedwig & The Angry Inch soundtrack - see David Bowie above. Mostly, I kinda hate bands. I like songs. I can hate a band and like one of their songs.

Q: do you still drive that sexy schweet classic convertible?

KK: Sure do. 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme convertible. Some guy on a bike self-righteously asked me at a stoplight, "What kinda mileage you get on that?", with a sneer, to which I replied, "With a car like this, you think I give a f***?".

Q: do you still live in manhattan?

KK: I'm one of the last holdouts. It's sad that the artists and cultural contributors that made Manhattan interesting are now forced out. I've been in my place for 12 years, so I'm hangin' in there, by my fingernails, which are really short because I bite them.

Q: what's the NYC music scene like nowadays? what has changed and do you like it now or not?

KK: Everything changes over time. "The Scene" moved out to Brooklyn and beyond, and a bunch of new little joints cropped up. Some of them are quite DiY. In Manhattan, there are no good small rock venues. Mercury Lounge is about the best there is for about 250 people, but there's no good say 100 - 150 people place. I think there is a lot of interesting stuff going on right now because people are experimenting more. A few years back it was kinda annoying because it seemed a lot of bands were just making music "to get signed" or to be popular, so it had no soul and it was very watered down. Because that doesn't happen like that anymore, and bands break in unusual ways, and sometimes the quirkier the better, bands are kind of chucking out the formula and experimenting with different sounds. It's cool. There's good stuff in every era and in every seen - sometimes you just have to work harder to find it.

Q: do you have any crazy, funny New York stories you can legally tell us?

KK: There are so many. One of my faves, is a crazy guy who rides the Broadway line who calls himself Broadway Bob. He rants on the train, but it's like a standup act. I know several people who have Broadway Bob stories. He called a very fair friend of mine "a delicious, cream-filled, golden Twinkie". I hear him rant on the train, "They say that AIDS come from the MONKEY! They SAY that AIDS come from the monkey! How did the AIDS get from the Monkey to the man? (maniacal laugh a la Live & Let Die voodoo man) The wimmins! The wimmins LOVE the monkeys!" I was trying not to crack up or draw attention to myself. The seats next to him cleared out at the next top of course, and some poor unsuspecting hippie girl sits next to him and the doors shut. He looks at her and there is more maniacal laughter. "Your hair...looks like a PONY!", he shouts. I was about to pee in my pants, when he said, "How 'come your hair looks like a pony? (pause - wait for it) The wimmins! The wimmins LOVE the ponies!" I could not contain myself and had to get off at the next stop. Also, there used to be a lot of hookers in my neighborhood and I got into a fight with a pimp once. It was scary at the time, but I can laugh about it now.

Q: what's parking like in New York if you own a car?

KK: You have to be like a fisherman or farmer and study the almanac. Traffic is like the tides - there is an ebb and flow. You also need common sense. It's hard to find a spot between 7 - 9 PM, because everyone is eating dinner. Things free up after 9:30 or so, but on a weeknight, if you don't find a spot for the next day by midnight, you are kinda f***ed. You have to do it at night, and not in the morning when the commuters come in. If you are unemployed, you can do the alternate side of the street parking for street cleaning thing and follow the sweeper, but you have to babysit your car for an hour and a half.

Q: tell us a little about the Kowalskis. how you started it, what you've done so far and what the future holds.

KK: Sheesh - it started a long time ago and morphed from my first NY band, the all-girl Starkist. When that fell apart, me and the guitar player formed a band called The Drags, until we found out there was another one - this was in the days before google, where you actually had to read fanzines to find this shit out. We became Killer Kowalski. As the other girl members fell away, I got Greg whom I played with forever and Paul from AOD, who brought Jack in and that was the Goofballs line up that was probably together for 3-4 years where we had an awesome run as The Kowalskis. When the record came out and we needed to tour, Jack & Paul dropped out, and we had a touring line-up for a while. I kept losing people touring. It came time to make another record, and that was such a long process. I picked up Mike when I was working on The Manges recordings and they wanted a guy to play guitar. I always wanted to steal him from The Vacant Lot, but didn't, so when they stopped playing I stole him. We first recorded with session guys and then I put the band back together, so the other half was the original Kowalskis drummer Greg and another guy he played with, another Mike. I kind of added in some parts, and now The Kowalskis is like Chuck Berry's band with me and Mike. I married a drummer, so he's stuck as a Kowalski for life, and he can't quit. We're working on a top secret, Internet only project that I can't discuss due to legal issues, but we're kinda doing to entertain ourselves. I have to have something subversive going on or I'm not happy. I have other conceptual projetcs - the experimental band, that all-girl country band, the supergroup. I need about 3 more brains for all the stuff I have in my head. Right now, I'm playing guitar in Bebe Buell's band, so that's been fun, and that does not take the brain power that writing your own songs, booking your own shows and chasing band members around does. I always say the worst thing about having a band is dealing with musicians.

Q: Do you listen patiently or wait to talk?

KK: Both. Depends on if the person is actually communicating information I want to listen to. It happens so rarely.

Q: Are you an obnoxious person?

KK: I'm sure lots of people may think I am.

Q: Do you enjoy causing a ruckus?

KK: I'm not a drama queen. In fact I despise people who manufacture problems and run around acting as if the most trivial thing actually matters. Very little matters. I do like to challenge people and ideas in my own way. I like railing on people, places and things that deserve it. I like to expose hypocrisy. I like to f*** with the system. I commit little acts of cultural terrorism every once in a while. I think it was Elvis Costello who said you should aspire to be an irritant, or something to that effect.

Q: What is your adult beverage of choice?

KK: Beer. Boring.

Q: do you have any favourite songs of yours and why do you like that song or songs best?

KK: I have different ones at different times. I loved "10 Things" when I wrote is as it was my first big girl song - a real song about something real in my life. I liked "Matter of Time" to explore my Country side and got some pedal steel on that, which I love. Some songs are fun to play, like "Mr. Wrong". Right now, "Oh Dee Dee" has been my fave for a while because it's a super short and simple pop song. Very concise.

Q: any last words for readers?

KK: Live every day as if it were your last because one day, you'll be right.

Find and Stalk miss Kitty Kowalski online at www.thekowalskis.com and www.myspace.com/thekowalskis


Q&A: Phanie D, drummer for Girl in a Coma!

I've gotten to see Girl in a Coma twice, at Poor David's pub and House of Blues here in Dallas. Not only did they put on a very entertaining live show, the drummer Phanie was very personable and down to earth. They got the opportunity to open up for my idol Morrissey on tour as well, and after the HOB show Phanie took time out of their busy touring schedule for a lil' Q&A action! read and enjoy!

Q: ya'll are getting more and more famous recently. your touring hasn't seemed to even stop. how do you feel about your growing fame and how has it affected things touring-wise insofar as dealing with "fans" and such?

P: We dont really see ourselves as famous. We notice the crowd getting bigger.. but to us.. the more the merrier. Nothings really changed so far... we try to hang as much as possible.

Q: do you have any funny or crazy tour stories ya'll can legally share with us?

P: legally there are tons. but so far on this tour we had our number one austin fan come up on stage and do a crazy pelvic thrust dance.. then try to sing some songs with Nina with interesting lyrics.

Q: how did the onstage dancing originate and do your fans go crazy over it? i personally find it endearing.

P: Jenn likes inviting people onstage... we encourage it. i dont think sound guys like it so much.

Q: What sort of gear do you use and why? Especially tell me about those crazy cool custom telecaster guitars and your pedal boards.

P: Gretsch for Phanie because the 22'kick is fun. Jenn loves fender P basses and Nina plays on a Valley Arts telecaster. Gibson offered them to Nina.. and she loves the feel and pickups on em.

Q: what's the songwriting process like? do each of you bring finished pieces to the band or do you all collectively write?

P: the music starts with nina... she writes all guitar melodies and lyrics. once in a while i will dabble in the writing.. ive written The Photographer on Both Before Im Gone. She shows us the music and jenn and I will take it from there and compose and arrange the song with her.

Q: what's your favourite song of the bands and why?

P: Probably Vino we love the change ups in it.

Q what's your favourite place you've toured to and why?

P: Besides playing to our hometown.. LA has become a 2nd home. We recently sold out the Knitting Factory and the fans out there are really supportive.

Q: what other bands and artists do ya'll listen to? and don't be cool here- let us know what your guilty pleasures are too!

P: Magneta Lane, Blue Means Go, Bowie, Elvis is always in rotation, Velvet Underground... guilty pleasure... Revenge Of the Nerds soundtrack.

Q: do ya'll like to read? especially on the road, you got lots of downtime to read books, so if you do, please share with us what you like to read.

P: Nina does the most reading..all kinds of novels.. I like to read books about ghosts...im a nerd like that.

Q: do ya'll have handbag collections and if so, do you have a favourite handbag and why?...

P: no handbags here.

Q: will ya'll be moving as a band to LA or NYC or somewhere else or stay in your hometown?

P: Nope.. we love Sa and plan on stayin forever.

Q: what does the future hold for Girl in a coma?

P: More records and touring

Random topic round.

Topics: heels, sneakers, boots, cowboy boots, foot odor, pedicures, socks

P: heels are nina,sneakers are phanie,cowboy boots are jenn, foot order are all three of us..pedicures are none of us and socks are stolen between us.

Topics: rubiks cube, rubiks snake, hungry hungry hippos, candyland, monopoly

P: Hungry Hippos is my fav,Candyland,,nina will still play, monopoly is to long.

Topics: galaga, galaxian, space invaders, pac man, miss pac man, atari

P: all these games are frustrating and fun

Topics: whiskey, vodka, beer, wine, marijuana, cocaine, heroin

P: whiskey =yum,vodka=not so yum,beer= good time yum,marijuana=not anymore ,cocaine=stupid,heroin=even stupider

Topics: coca cola, sprite, 7 up, root beer, big red, big peach, orange crush

P: whatever happened to orange crush? kids who wore the shirt annoyed me. plus i had one.

Topics: tanning salons, hair salons, fake tanning spray, fake grills,overblinging

P: sounds like a day in the life of the toddlers in pageants.

Topics: rims that cost more than the hooptie they are on, blasting bass rap with the windows down when its over 100 degrees out, tshirts so long and big they look like a mumu, jorts so long they could be slacks.

P: entertaining.

Topics: don cheto, sabado gigante, the price is right, deal or no deal, wheel of fortune

P: always sabado gigante

Topics: bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, kiwi, figs, peaches, pears, tomatos, yams

P: sounds like a party

Topics: sour gummy worms, twix, reeses cups, M&Ms, milky way, altoids

P: sounds like a naughty party

Topics: cadillacs, deloreans, porsches, ferraris, lamborghinis, mini coopers

P: if jenn ever has the money.. she would probably have one of each.

Topics: sherlock holmes, casinos, kayaking, volcanoes, barracudas

P: sounds like a board game.

Cattch Girl in a Coma and their wonderfully fun live show at a concert hall near you!


Q&A: Poppy Robbie. The Dictator of Pop!

Poppy Robbie is just plain cool. And it's about time all you grubby little worms get turned on to the great tunes he makes. And believe the propaganda, folks, this is one Dictator that's all about fun. And great music. And more. That is, unless you're an insurgent- then look out! All hail the Dictator of Pop!

Q: Let's catch everyone up with you. Describe in your own words who you are, what you do, and what makes you want to wake up in the morning.

PR: Well, first off thanks for inviting me to do this! Your Q&A's are so much more entertaining and thought-provoking than those silly ones everyone passes along to each other over the internet. How many times are we required to answer the same old questions about our tah-tah's and nyeah-nyeah's anyway? I mean, I don't even have tah-tah's or nyeah-nyeah's, but that's sort of the point, you know? Nevertheless, my name is Poppy Robbie, I'm a proud resident of Earth (Southeast Texas, to be exact), I write music and ever so often record or perform it, make questionable art, and the hope of one day owning a fully-functional jetpack makes me wake up in the morning.

Q: What sort of guitar gear do you use and why?

PR: I've got a couple guitars, but mainly I use my Gretsch Streamliner hollowbody and electrify it into loudness with a small tweed Fender Blues Jr. The reason I use those is because that's what the snake in my dream told me to do.

Q: what inspires you to write songs?

PR: I've always loved the idea that no matter how many songs have been written, most of them the exact same or in a similar way, people still do it all in hopes of perfecting the art a bit more. The idea of attempting to come up with new and clever lyrics when there have been an infinate number of songs in existance saying the same basic thing is endearing to me. Everyone who writes is wanting to just get their own unique perspective heard. Until the end of time, people will be out there continuing to write songs that have already been written a million times fold, either intentionally or not - most of the time completely nieve to the fact that those songs exist and may have already relayed the exact same feeling and emotion. That's beautiful. All sorts of things inspire me to write, though. Everything from relationships to picking up the mail to seeing a band play can get the wheels rolling upstairs...

Q: What made you want to play music and sing to begin with?

PR: Listening to 45's on my mom's stereo as a child and digging through boxes of them on the floor was one of the earliest memories I have of being actively interested in music. Around that time I began recording myself singing on a small cassette stereo for fun. By the time I had reached Jr. High, like so many others, my love for music evolved into an active interest and hobby to write songs and play guitar myself.

Q: What are you currently working on creatively, both musical and non-musical?

PR: I'm continuously writing, but those folks out there closest to me all know that I've been threatening to release new stuff since I starting playing solo shows way back in 2003. The truth of the matter is I'm very lax about it and figure in the current climate of the music-releasing world, with the internet and strange shifting of the role and lack of importance of record companies, that I'm in no hurry to rush anything in particular out to be swallowed up into the vast void of the digital abyss. That's a sort of defeatist attitude, I guess, but I know my music-listening audience is a small handful of close friends and folks who either know me from my past efforts or have been following me through recent years via online and those folks should all be used to my indecisiveness by now and understand that I've got my head up my ass when it comes to that stuff haha. NON-musically though, I've been doing paintings continuously for the last few years, mostly small pieces I've been flogging-off here and there via eBay. Back in February I did a project I called "28 in Paint" where I decided that I was going to paint one painting a day for the entire month of February (of course I pick the shortest month out of the year to do this). It was fun to try and I was happy with the results. Right now I usually do three or so paintings a month, as I find time. This all started out as a random whim but has now turned into an active enjoyable interest of mine. I'm about to begin work with a couple new projects to get my art out and about and spread the word. I've been happy and thankful for the response I've been getting from it all.

Q: are you into books? If so, what are some of your personal favourites?

PR: Comics count too, right? If so, I'm a monthly avid reader of anything Ninja Turtles or Green Lantern and I've been enjoying Kick-Ass and the comic adaptations of The Stand as well. My two favorite graphic novels are probably Kingdom Come and Watchmen. As far as standard novels and the like, lately I've been enjoying the work of David Sedaris, having just recently finished his 'When You Are Engulfed in Flames'. One of my all-time favorites books is 'Walden' by Henry Thoreau.

Q: What are some other bands and artists you enjoy listening to? Including those embarrassing guilty pleasures?

PR: My top five are probably The Beatles, Tom Petty, Wreckless Eric, Elvis Costello and Paul Westerberg. Lately I've been listening to a lot of George Harrison, Violent Femmes, and enjoying Regina Spektor's new album. Guilty pleasures? Haha, most of those around me would probably argue that pretty much everything I listen to should be an embarrassing guilty pleasure. That list is too long...

Q: do you enjoy any sports? Watching or participating?

PR: I've always been into skateboarding and love the 80's skateboard culture centered around The Bones Brigade and Powell Peralta. I hear Stacy Peralta is supposed to be producing a Dogtown-style documentary about the Bones Brigade, hopefully that's true. Recently I got one of those Powell reissue decks, the Mike Vallely elephant one, and fixed it up as ugly and bright as I would have had I bought it in the 80's. I still have my old Mcgill skull and snake deck from when I was a kid. I'm pretty sure I wanted that one only because it's the model Christian Slater had in Gleaming the Cube. But yeah, I don't get to ride much anymore but when I find time it's always fun.

Q: What's the music scene like in your area?

PR: Southeast Texas has always had a very independent and varied music scene. Almost every band that springs up seems to truely have their own sound and there's a good spirit of bands wanting to help each other and the local scene itself out, it seems. A lot of people tend to move out of the area after finishing school in favor of Austin, Denton or elsewhere, but there's always new groups popping-up that are interesting and bring new life to the scene, along with new sets of music fans eager to take the keys to the car, so to speak. The only downfall I think this area has is its inability to maintain venues for long periods of time. Each time a good venue has sprung up it's always shortlived.

Q: What's next for you and what can the world expect from the Dictator of Pop?

PR: Capitol Records is going to call any minute now and you can expect a box set of all these ridiculous songs I've been hording inside my head.

Random topic round.

Topics: jeans. tshirts. jorts. swim trunks. bikinis. speedos.

PR: Jeans and tshirts are a-ok! I'm not sure what a jort is, but it sounds like an energy drink. Bikinis are a go, speedos are a no!

Topics: adult beverages. soda pop. juice boxes. hot cocoa. coffee.

PR: adult beverages < soda pop. juice boxes < juice pouches. Cold weather is my favorite time to drink hot cocoa and coffee.

Topics: cereal. grits. toaster strudel. pop tarts. protein shakes.

PR: Cereal > grits, toaster strudels or pop tarts. Protein shakes are ridiculous.

Topics: texas. cowboys. country music. rockabilly music. honky tonks.

PR: Texas is grand. Cowboys are terrible drivers. Country music is okay before the mid-ninties. Rockabilly music isn't as cool as it's fashion. Honky tonks are where you can boot, scoot and boogie.

Topics: electric bulls. oil and gasoline. james dean. michael jackson.

PR: electric bulls are just as bad as electric bills. oil and gasoline are overrated. james dean and michael jackson are no longer with us.

Topics: elvis presley. buddy holly, britney spears. warped tour.

PR: I've honestly never "gotten" Aaron Presley. My opinion is that there's only one Elvis that matters and one King of Rock n' Roll and he's neither one of those. I'm a big Buddy Holly fan (the real King of Rock n' Roll?), as well as Ritchie Valens. I would've been very interested in hearing what sort of music those two guys would have been making during the 60's had their death not occured. Britney Spears is about due for a comeback. I've only been to one Warped Tour, it was in Houston, 1998 and I got to see The Specials and Swingin' Utters. It was pretty fun aside from the extremely long hot dog line...

Topics: fast food. sit down restaurants. whataburger. tex mex.

PR: I eat way too much fast food. I like to stand up in sit down restaurants. Whataburger are Wal-Mart are the only things open in my town past 9pm. Tex mex is great!

Topics: PCs. macs. ipods. zunes. cds. dvds. vhs. mp3s. cassettes.

PR: PCs and Macs just need to have sex and get it over with. I used to be against Ipods, zunes and all those things but then finally got one as a gift and absolutely love it. Cds and dvds look identical. I was okay with VHS. MP3s are better than M16s. Ahh, cassettes - You can't make a mix-tape on a cdr, kids.

Topics: rubiks snake. rubiks cube. nerf guns. atari. pac man. galaga.

PR: What the hell is a rubiks snake?! That's terrible, take something I love (Rubiks Cube) and something I hate (snakes) and put them together. What's the world coming to. I want an arsenal of nerf guns so bad it's killing me. Atari < NES. Pac Man > Galaga.

Thanks again, Christy! Anyone interested in following my silliness can find me over at: http://www.myspace.com/poppyrobbie


Q&A: The legendary singer Alice Bag

When I first saw Alice Bag, it was when I was a early teen watching the documentary "The Decline of western civilization", which featured several influential L.A. punk rock bands in 1979-1980. It was influential to me. Despite any shortcomings or skewed perspective, I thought it was great for me to be able to watch some performances and interviews of these talented and great bands. i loved the two songs Alice and her band did. Fast forward to 2005. I was on tour in L.A. performing to pretty much nobody at Zen Sushi. Just Aaron, Valeriebot, Donna, a few friends. I was stoked because Alain Whyte's band Red Lightning had performed there and I'd been rockin' to a bootleg copy of the show. Well, the opening band was pretty cool. Three girls and a boi drummer. I was watching them and there was something strangely familiar about one of the girls. The way her mouth moved when she sang...I'd seen her before. Halfway thru their set it hit me that I was watching the legendary Alice bag singing. Opening the show. I was floored. When they were done, I tentatively approached her... "Are you Alice Bag?" I hesitantly inquired. And she was. And I dorked out so badly, I must've looked so silly, but I didn't care. It was a cool moment, getting to meet this talented and influential singer, I thought she was the coolest! I gave her my CDs and a Tshirt and buttons. Well, when I started doing the Q&As for my blog, I had her in mind early on, and when I emailed her, I was very glad she remembered me, and she took time out of her busy schedule to do a Q&A, and I hope you will all read it and start getting to know the super rad friend I have named Alice.

Q: What made you want to sing and perform music to begin with and how long have you been performing now?

Alice: I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be a singer. In elementary school, I was extremely unpopular and the only time I had a moment to shine was when the music teacher would come into our class and ask me to play the autoharp or help her lead a round of singing. I realized that I had a natural aptitude for music. I enjoyed singing and those rare occasions were the only times when I felt accepted by my peers. There was no doubt that I was better at singing than most of them so it helped me feel better about myself in general.

Q: How did the Bags start up? What role did you play in that? Were you an instigator?

Alice: My friend Patricia Rainone (now Patricia Vanian) and I had been wanting to form an all-girl band since we were in high school (we went to different schools but met and became fast friends). We tried putting ads in the Recyler, a newspaper that offered free want ads, but we kept getting calls from guys who wanted to be in our band. We did put together a couple of all-girl line-ups prior to The Bags: one was called Femme Fatale, the other was Masque Era. The Masque didn't exist yet, so the name was pure coincidence.
The idea for The Bags was that we'd be an anonymous group who played with paper bags over our heads. It was Patricia's brain child and I loved the idea. We put another ad in The Recyler and ended up getting a call from Geza X and Joe Nanini. Geza begged us to give them a chance, so we auditioned them even though they were the wrong gender for our original plan. After playing with Geza and Joe, things just fell into place and we decided it was time to jettison the all-girl band idea and try something else.

Q: you're arguably most famous for your segment in the documentary "Decline of western civilization". Can you tell us how that went down? Were you happy or sad or indifferent with the portrayal of the artists and people in the documentary and was it true to reality?

Alice: I was terribly sad after seeing myself in The Decline. By the time the film premiered my band had already broken up and what was captured on film was not our best performance. The Decline captured the emerging hardcore scene; unfortunately, it was filmed too late to catch the early Hollywood Scene at its peak. In late 1979 and early 1980 there was a palpable change in the energy of the growing L.A. scene. It was evolving, going through it's awkward stage like a pimply adolescent. The Decline is like a high school picture of that pimply teen.
After refusing to see the Decline again for some twenty plus years I finally gave in and went to a screening a few years ago. It was really fun to watch it and appreciate it for what it is rather than stewing over the fact that it wasn't what I'd expected.

Q: Could you tell us about the two songs you sing in "Decline"?

Alice: I can't really tell you much about the song selection for the movie (Prowlers In The Night and Gluttony). Our whole set was filmed and I imagine Penelope selected the songs that worked best in the context and mood of her film.

Q: I noticed in "Decline", that the guitarist in your band also played drums in Catholic Discipline. Can you tell us more about the sharing of band members, and how that worked in the "music scene" at the time?

Alice: Our band was in a state of flux, we'd only recently had a major falling out with Patricia, our original bassist and she had left the band. Craig Lee, our guitarist in The Decline had been our rhythm guitarist, Rob Ritter (AKA Rob Graves) had switched from lead guitar to bass to replace Patricia.
Aside from The Bags we all had part-time projects. I sang with Black Randy and The Metrosquad from time to time and did one off performances with friends whenever the mood struck. Our drummer, Terry Graham played drums for The Go-Go's at their first show.

Q: Was the L.A. music scene even a scene at the time? Was everyone buddies and working together as many try to make it appear now or was it fragmented and hindsight is rewriting history a bit?

Alice: I know it must sound too good to be true, but it was a close community. It was small, so yes - we all knew each other. By late '77 there was definitely a scene. Early in '78 a whole bunch of us moved into The Canterbury Apartments just a block and a half away from The Masque. We lived, breathed, ate and drank punk 24/7. Think about it: we were the only ones playing the new music and the only ones interested in hearing it, so we went to each other's shows and supported each other. I think the fact that the outside world saw us as freaks also made us band together. There were occasional fights between people and a healthy competition for the best spots on any given bill, but overall it was a pretty tight family.

Q: What would you say your position was back then? Did you, or anyone else you knew, have any idea that what you were doing and creating was going to influence so many people years later, or were you just living in the moment and being spontaneous?

A7. I had no clue that what we were doing would ever mean anything to anyone other than the people who were there. I was completely in the moment, so much so that it seemed like time stopped during those years because I wasn't aware of time passing at all. At the same time, I was aware that what we had was something special. I'd felt like a misfit in high school but here I felt like we were all misfits who accepted each other's quirks and valued each other's uniqueness. That's not to say that every creative endeavor was my cup of tea, we all had our favorite bands, our own style, and our own take on what it meant to be a punk.
It was only many years later that I fully recognized the lasting impact the early scene had made. When I began posting my personal collection of photos and artifacts of that time on my website, I started getting emails from people all over the world who were interested in what those early days were like.

Q: How do you think the music biz has changed since then, do you like the changes, and do you think you had a hand in changing things with your contributions back then?

Alice: I don't know that the music business has changed at all except to get even more pedestrian than it used to be. Many of the artists that I like aren't waiting around for a fat contract, which I think is smart.

Q: What have you been up to since the late 70s/early 80s? What has life been like for you, both musical and non-musical?

Alice: After dissolving the Alice Bag Band at the end of 1979 I moved back home with my parents and went back to school. After that I became a teacher, but I've always continued working on music. Some of the bands I was involved in after the Bags were The Castration Squad, Cholita!, The Afro Sisters, El Vez, and Las Tres.

Q: What are you currently working on musically?

Alice: I haven't played with a steady band since moving to Arizona about 4 years ago. I recently had throat surgery and lost some notes in my upper register. I'm struggling to recover my full range, but I'm confident I'll be howling again soon.

Q: What other artists or bands were your favourites back in the day, and who do you find yourself listening to alot now?

Alice: The greatest punk band ever was/is The Weirdos.
Some of my current faves include The Gossip, Girl in A Coma, The Sounds, and The Dresden Dolls. I like bands with strong women in them.

Q: When you write songs, what inspires you?

Alice: I like to write about the evolving role of women, social injustice, politics, love, and pretty much any topic in which I become emotionally invested.

Q: I heard you moved away from L.A... where are you at now, and do you like it better than L.A.? Are you originally from L.A. or were you a transplant?

Alice: I love L.A., I was born and raised in East L.A. and I'll always consider it my home. These days I'm living in Arizona because that is what works best for our family right now. I really enjoy the desert. The area I live in is sparsely populated and I'm treated to awe-inspiring sunsets, clean air and the sound of birds singing every day which I drink in gratefully.

Q: Do you like to read? What books have you read lately that you liked? Do you have any all-time favourites?

Alice: I am an avid reader. Right now I'm working on a book called Little Heathens about growing up during the Great Depression, some of the passages remind me of my mother who also grew up during those times.

I periodically make all-time favorite book lists and then find myself wanting to update them. Here's my quick list:

1. Middlesex- Eugenides
2. A Tale of Two Cities- Dickens
3. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao- Diaz
4. The Grapes of Wrath (or Cannery Row)- Steinbeck
5. Frida- A brief biography of Frida Kahlo- Herrera
6. Buddha, Phoenix or Adolf (series)- Tezuka
7. Dracula- Stoker
8. Love in the Time of Cholera- Garcia Marquez
9. House of the Spirits- Allende
10. Flaming Iguanas- Lopez
11. Ham on Rye (or Post Office)- Bukowski
12. 120 Days of Sodom- De Sade
13. The Diary of a Young Girl- Frank
14. Fingersmith (or Tipping the Velvet)- Waters
15. Aztec- Jennings

Q: What does the future hold for you musically?

Alice: The future holds an upcoming memoir of my childhood and punk years, tentatively titled Violence Girl. I've signed a deal with Feral House, the same publisher who put out Lexicon Devil (about Darby Crash and The Germs) and I hope to have the book out sometime next year. The book is already written and we are in the editing phase and selecting photos from my collection. I sporadically write a blog (Diary of A Bad Housewife). I think I'm going to stick to writing until I get my singing voice back.

Find and keep up with Alice online at alicebag.com


Q&A: Sean of the band Murder Majesty

I first met Sean in 2005 at the Showcase Theatre in Corona CA where I was performing. Aside from being one of the 5 or so people at the show (Along with Aaron, Valeriebot & Meagan J!) , he was pretty cool and we kept in touch over the years and became friends. Nowadays, he sings in the band Murder Majesty, straight outta Las Vegas, and he also does tour booking as well! He found time in his busy schedule for a lil' Q&A action.

Q:give us a little background on Murder majesty. how did it start, what was your role in it, how the name came to be, how long you guys have been around, fun facts.

Sean: Murder Majesty has been around for about 2 1/2 years now. I moved to Las Vegas from Orange County because I was sick of living with my mother whenever I wasn't on tour with my old band The Shilling (wwwmyspace.com/fucktheshilling)
and I thought 24 was an appropriate age for me to make a scenic change and to grow up. Well I already had a friend living here from Orange County who knew a few punk rock kids in town so after going to a few bars, my friend introduced me to a guy named Beavis who was soon to be our first drummer. He was busy playing in a punk rock band and I had success playing ska/punk with my old band and he wanted to venture down that road and knew a few people who were also into that kinda shit and so Murder Majesty was born. We decided on the name because out of every option we came up with, the name seemed to be the catchiest and fit the style.

Q: what's the latest project you guys have released and what are you working on right now?

Sean: We recently came out with our debut full length a couple months ago entitled "Start From Scratch" on a great up and coming east coast label called Unable Records. We're currently transitioning a new drummer into the lineup with all the member problems we've had over the year so we have only tossed around ideas for new songs. We haven't put any on paper.

Q: What's the songwriting process like for you guys?

Sean: Well for songs structures and backbone, me and our bassist are pretty much the inspiration behind the music. We both compose the music, then I usually come up with a harmony and then the lyrics are usually much better structured when there's a prewritten vocal harmony/pattern.

Q: Do you have any favourite songs, and why?

Sean: I have plenty of favorite songs but they aren't from us. hahaha. I like a lot of stuff from my favorite ska band ever Slapstick and pretty much everything written by Operation Ivy. Jesse Michaels is my favorite vocalist not for his voice but strictly for his lyrics. He's a poetic genius with a lot of undertones in his lyrics. You just have to use you head to figure out what the songs about. As far as favorite voice, I'd have to say Brendan Kelly from Slapstick/Lawrence Arms/ The Broadways. My favorite song that we have has got to be Goodbye because the whole song from the lyrics to the drums to the horns is very well arranged and I think its the catchiest.

Q: What other bands or artists do you like listening to?

Sean: Well for me personally, I don't have a wide spectrum of stuff I listen to. It pretty much boils down to ska, punk, and black metal. Some of my favorites recently have been Mute, Leviathan, Nokturnal Mortum, Teenage Bottlerocket, This Is A Standoff, and We Are The Union. Told ya it's a simple yet wierd mix.

Q: Do you have any funny or crazy tour stories you can legally share with us?

Sean: Well on our last tour, we encountered a few problems in the state of Arizona. After our show in San Diego on the way to Tucson, I got out of the van on the side of the freeway to stretch while someone took a pi** and then my stomach all of a sudden felt like it dropped (you know like in the movies where you hear a kerplop when the person has to take a s**t real bad) well that happened to me so i tried to walk it off but after 5 steps I had to go worse then before so I tried to round everyone up but just couldn't hold it so i dropped one on the side of the freeway. An hour up the road. Our drummer got prosecuted for marijuana posession. Awwwww what a day.

Q: what do you like to eat when youre on tour? what are the problems with getting decent food on the road?

Sean: When we're on tour, its mostly cold canned food like ravioli. Fast food is eaten often too. Or if we're hungry enough and we have the money truckstop buffets. Decent food is non existent on the road unless you're a big band and catering is included in your rider.

Q: you also do booking. How did you get involved with that and do you have a roster of bands you book, or how does it work?

Sean: I started booking shows in California when I was 12 for touring bands and after moving to Vegas, it's just kind of evolved.
I also help out my friends with tours because it's fun for me, as long as I have time. I do work for a booking agency which has a limited roster but I just handle dates I'm dealt.

Q: There's been lots of changes in the industry since we first met. Do you like the changes? Where is the music biz now and where is it headed? is that a good or bad thing?

Sean: I don't like the changes because it's put some of my good friends out of work with lack of records sold meaning no money for labels which means no money to pay employees. The music business now is exactly the same as where it always has been meaning kids still get their hand on records they like whether they buy it or steal it (from a store or online) but their is still as much of a desire for new music as there was 20 years ago, it just doesn't show in record sales. This economy and lack of funds in peoples hands does impact every bands draw at shows and such but if the money was still just as abundant as it was 10 years ago, shows would still be as crowded because people still want to go to shows, they just have to spend their money on necessities like food and alcohol.

Q: what's the music scene in Las Vegas like compared to other places? what's good and what's bad about it?

Sean: The music scene in Las Vegas sucks. We're way oversaturated with music. There's like 300 clubs, 300 shows a night so theres so much competition that shows don't do as good here as they would Orange County or Phoenix. Most clubs are also 21+ which sucks, but we as a band do our part to play a lot of all ages shows because the minors are the ones who really care for the music scene for the most part and appreciate what were doing.

Q: What does the future hold for you and murder majesty?

Sean: Hopefully not new members! :)

Random topic round.

Topics: jorts, crocs, tshirts so big they hang down past the knees like a mumu.

Sean: tight emo clothes are in! Look at the way I dress haha.

Topics: casinos, strip clubs, gambling, brothels

Sean: casinos are great if you dont lose money. Free drinks are nice too. So are tits!

Topics: rubiks cube, board games, simon, guitar hero, rock band

Sean: The best way to a girls heart in our kids generation is be great at either rock band or guitar hero.

Please check out Murder Majesty at www.myspace.com/murdermajesty