Archive for the ‘Eye Music Feature’ Category

The Joke’s Over (Neon Windbreaker profile) – Eye Weekly (3.23.11)

July 21, 2011

In which I travel to Austin, TX and cover a Toronto joke band called Neon Windbreaker who’ve managed to get serious enough to play a bunch of shows at SXSW. Much commentary ensues.

Read the whole story at Eye Weekly here.

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Long live music videos – Eye Weekly (1.19.11)

February 14, 2011

On the eve of MuchMusic’s RapCity and The Wedge resurrection, we contemplate the state of the music video:

When Kanye West’s “Monster” video leaked just before New Year’s Eve, it caused prolonged discussion: about whether or not the leak was intentional; what exactly was up with the dead-looking models propped up in bed next to Yeezy; and why it looked so much like the video for “The Ark” by psych-rockers Dr. Dog. It was hard not to look beyond the hoopla and think: wow, a music video. Not only are bands still making them but, as Kanye and Gaga and Feist have proved, audiences still care about them.

Read the full story at EYE WEEKLY.

Tranzac Club: an oral history – EYE (11.17.10)

December 12, 2010

Australian expat club, folkie coffeehouse, Caravan site, Fringe Festival venue and a hotbed for Toronto’s punk and avant-garde music community — Tranzac Club has been meant many different things to many different people. These are their stories

Walking past the Tranzac Club, you’d be unlikely to peg it as an iconic hub for Toronto arts and music. The tucked-away building on Brunswick Street just south of Bloor — kitty corner to the uber-rowdy Brunswick House — had previously housed an industrial dry-cleaners in the 1950s. Inside, it boasts all the charm of a basement rec room — mismatched tables and chairs, the odd threadbare sofa and shadowy lighting.

Yet, since 1967, the Tranzac Club has fostered countless notable Toronto artists, actors and musicians — including many who have gone on to international acclaim, like Owen Pallett (a.k.a. Final Fantasy) and Fucked Up. A not-for-profit space that runs on membership fees, meagre beer sales and volunteerism, the Tranzac has a long tradition of celebrating music and art that’s not necessarily commercially viable. When word went out recently that the Tranzac, under threat of closing, was kicking off an “emergency fundraising campaign,” we took it as an opportunity to celebrate the venue’s rich history — before it becomes history.
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Interview: Slash – Eye Weekly (9.9.10)

November 7, 2010

An interview with the legendary Guns N’ Roses guitarist, the one and only Slash:

You just got back from Australia, right? How have the shows been going?
Awesome. The guys [in my band] are so good that I can just play and not worry about keeping it all together. They all really carry their own weight and everybody loves what they’re doing. It’s a relief to be in a situation where I don’t have at least one guy in the band who’s a complete basket case.

I assume you’re talking about the Velvet Revolver experience with Scott Weiland.
Uhh, maybe…. [nervous laughter]. There always seems to be one guy who’s just disconnected from the trajectory of the group.

That’s a polite way of putting it. Do you think the improvement is a case of you being in charge of the band?
I wouldn’t go so far as to say all that. I’m not really the in-charge guy. [The musicians know] it’s my gig, and that I put it together and blah blah blah. But everybody’s there to have a good time and I don’t have to be the dictator, so I think it really is just one of those circumstances where I’ve been fortunate this time around.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Land of Talk interview – Eye Weekly (9.15.10)

November 6, 2010

Chatting with Land of Talk’s Liz Powell about the band’s exquisite sophomore album Cloak and Cipher.

Elizabeth Powell is Land of Talk. For a long time, she was their bandleader, frontwoman, songwriter, lead guitarist, what have you, but with the Montreal-based outfit’s latest album, Cloak and Cipher, Powell has taken full command of the project and guided its evolution from the crackling intensity of a seriously impressive power trio to an inclusive group capable of expansive and surprising musical statements. Since Land of Talk’s debut in 2006 with the stunning seven-song EP, Applause Cheer Boo Hiss, Powell has had her ups (joining Broken Social Scene) and downs (losing key band members and, for a time, her voice) but remains a singular creative force whose frail voice and shadowy guitar playing make her one of Canadian indie-rock’s genuine treasures. EYE WEEKLY caught up with Powell over the phone during a relaxing afternoon in Montreal.

It goes without saying, but Cloak and Cipher has come a long way from Applause Cheer Boo Hiss.
It’s so different. I think of Cloak and Cipher as where I would naturally go. I mean, with Applause Cheer, I had $750, which kind of determined what we could do in the studio. But I love constraints and I needed that to happen, and I think that’s the sound of my circumstance in 2005 or 2006. I was always hoping to build on that.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Interview : Buzz Osborne – Eye Weekly (8.25.10)

November 6, 2010

A chat with Melvins bandleader Buzz Osborne yields many jokes and occasional insight into the sludge-metal pioneers’ 30 year career.

When it comes to integrity, creativity and dinosaur-heavy riffage, the Melvins have few peers. Born out of woodsy boredom in a Washington state logging town in the early 1980s, the trio, consisting of guitarist/singer Buzz Osborne, drummer Dale Crover and a succession of bass players, grabbed the intensity of hardcore punk and slowed it down — way down. Sludge metal, stoner rock, grunge, whatever you want to call it, the basic idea has provided the band with an opportunity for limitless musical exploration and collaboration (they’ve even expanded to a quartet, joining forces in 2006 with LA duo Big Business). But the Melvins are also rock’s most unintentionally ironic band: critics tend to call each album (including their latest disc, The Bride Screamed Murder) an experimental change in direction, yet they never sound like anyone but the Melvins; “stoner rock” guitar originator Osbourne doesn’t drink or do drugs; and for all the name-dropping by famous fans from Kurt Cobain to Boris, they’re still basically an underground phenomenon. We spoke with Osborne about their place in the lineage of rock history.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Slayer interview – Eye Weekly (7.29.10)

July 31, 2010

Geeks, sportos, motorheads, dweebs… everybody loves Slayer. EYE WEEKLY’s Chris Bilton tracks down the band in Quebec to find out why the original masters of thrash are more popular than ever

QUEBEC CITY — It’s never just “Slayer”; it’s always “fuckin’ Slayer!” As an expression, it’s the perfect summation of what it means to be a Slayer fan, especially when yelled in the vicinity of one of their concerts. The name of the band alone carries with it a certain set of images and associations — Satanic pentagrams, combat-helmeted demons, vaguely SS-styled lettering, the most brutalizing thrash metal to come out of the 1980s — and yelling “Slayer” is enough to let any other metal fan know that you mean business. But adding the expletive is a kind of fanatical declaration: both vulgar and impassioned, and thoroughly committed to showing total disregard for societal norms.

Case in point, there’s already an Urban Dictionary1 entry on the phrase, and it’s a phenomenon that, for some, extends past the concert venue into everyday life. (Also, “Fuckin’ Metallica” has far too many syllables and “Fuckin’ Anthrax” too much consonance right in the middle of the phrase — “Fuckin’ Slayer,” on the other hand, just rolls perfectly off the tongue.)
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Flaming Lips interview – Eye Weekly (7.6.10)

July 7, 2010

In conversation with the one and only Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips.

Wayne Coyne doesn’t mind flirting with disaster. When I reach the Flaming Lips singer at his recently-flooded home in the oldest section of downtown Oklahoma City, he’s quick to reassure me that he and his wife are old pros at dealing with Fantasia-like waves of sewage, and they had the place cleaned up in about half a day. Having lived his entire life in the heart of Tornado Alley, he’s very much at the mercy of nature, but, he says, “I kind of embrace that. I suppose everywhere is at the mercy [of nature], but with the tornadoes and the flooding and all that, you kind of get immune to it. It’s only when we go to California and people say there’s an earthquake happening that we think, ‘Oh wow, really?’”

“The danger that you live with all the time isn’t as nearly as interesting as the new danger,” he adds, in his casually philosophical way. That isn’t an entirely surprising remark from someone whose most well-known song hinges on the line “Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die?”

Read the rest of the article over at EYE WEEKLY.

The National – Sex and Violets – EYE (6.2.10)

July 6, 2010

My conversation with The National’s Aaron Dessner leads to a consideration of the band’s immaculately crafted midlife-crisis indie-rock.

The word “cinematic” gets tossed around a lot as an indie rock descriptor — usually to explain the sonic scope of an instrumental passage or densely layered orchestral embellishments. With Brooklyn’s The National, “cinematic” can be used much more literally: the music is very much like a film. Their songs play like carefully staged scenes with skewed lighting and ambiguous dialogue. As a listener, you are immediately thrust into them and have to feel your way around in order to understand just what’s going on. It could be a woman in long red socks and red shoes pissing in a sink, super-late-night revelers with “a little something” in their lemonade or a lover with his head on the hood of a car taking it too far.

In most cases, the word-images are part of a larger narrative — an exploration of that period between youthful excess and settling into the less exciting person you will inevitably become. It’s indie rock on the verge of a mid-life crisis — music as a Wes Anderson tragicomedy.

Lou Barlow interview – Eye Weekly (1.20.10)

January 27, 2010

A chat with Mr. Sebadoh himself, Lou Barlow, on the event of Dinosaur Jr.’s return to Toronto.