Tuesday, December 1, 2009

An interview with Will Walker of Will's Pub

Will's Pub has been an institution in the Orlando music scene for a long time now, so it was only fitting that I interviewed Will. He has seen a lot of bands and a lot of people come and go, so I bribed him with sake bombs, and he agreed to let me interview him. Will's Birthday Bash is Saturday at Will's Pub. Go check it out. Thanks a lot Will!

When did you first get involved in music? How?

I was always a music fan in one way or another. Whether it was my parents listening to Motown or my own stuff growing into a teen. I tried to take some guitar lessons as a kid, and well lets just say I sucked.

What made you decide to open your own venue?
Will's wasn't a venue in the beginning. We just had some pool tables and a jukebox. . . Orlando was a different place at the time. There was a decent music scene but no where for people to play. Skinnys, Go Lounge, The Sapphire. . . that was basically it. A lot of my customers were in local bands. And well they asked, so we did it.

What was the first band to play at Will's Pub? When was that?

Jim Orourke was the first. He's still playing around town.

It sounds like you've basically learned this on the fly, over the years. What lessons have you learned (maybe even the hard way) in this time that you would pass on to someone who wanted to open a venue of their own?

Well the venue part is pretty common sense. We learn things all the time. It's usually the human element that catches you by surprise. Like some asshole stage diving to no where.

I'm sure you've learned a lot since then about running a bar that is also a venue, learned a lot about booking and promoting shows. Any words of advice you have for bands that are trying to play shows at your venue?

Be persistent but not annoying. Don't call or come to the club thinking you're going to speak with someone. Get together a couple of songs online. GO TO OTHER PEOPLE'S SHOWS. Nothing like getting an email from a band in the "407" saying "I've never been to your club but we should play there." Networking pays!

What's the story behind the old Will's being torn down, and how you decided on the current location?

Awe yeah. This is where a lot of speculation has happened. I was sub-letting from the motel next to the old local local. When the property went up for sale I was supposed to have first right of refusal to buy my parcel. Well in layman's terms, money talks and I was simply left out of the circle until it was more than I could afford. The rest is history.

What's your favorite Orlando band right now?

Really? Whatever band is playing at Will's tonight?.?.?

Any bands you miss that you wish were still around today? Any you're glad to see are no longer around?

Really? Again? I miss some of the ones I started working with. Kow, Cluj, The Hate Bombs, so many more. . . I kind of grew as a person with some bands.

Naming names about who I'm glad isn't around anymore is just a little more than I'd do while sober.

Any other ways you have been involved in the music scene over the years.

I had Will's South for about a year (fucking awesome). I built the stage they are using at Taste and booked that place for about a year. I'd like to think I've had a little to do with Orlando's music scene since I started. I've helped fund a couple of CD's and hopefully there are a few babies out there Will's Pub made happen!

You mentioned Will's South. Do you plan on opening a second location again in the future? What kind of plans do you have for the current location?

Yes, we do. It's going to be a little while but a second location is in the plans.
As far as the "new" location, it will never be done. We do want to open the back patio up. Improve the pa. Possibly work on the ventilation.

I know Tierney Tough works with you a lot, and she does a great job planning shows, and you guys were heavily involved in Orange You Glad Fest (which was great.) Do you think you guys will do more things like that in the future?

Orange You Glad is her project. I helped her with it as much as I could. I hope she wants to do it again. I definitely think a lot of people want to be involved again. I also think we learned quite a bit from the first one.

How would you compare the Orlando music scene today, to what it was say, 5, 10, 15 years ago? I've asked other people similar questions, it is always interesting to see the responses I get.

The "scene" is way bigger in terms of how much is going on. BUT it is less cohesive than ever. There are little microcosms that exist in the outskirts that aren't even known about around the rest of the city.

What do you think you would like to see more of in our local music scene? Why?

Once again people in other bands really should go see other local bands. That is how you make a scene. Then they come see you. Their friends and fans become yours and it grows from there.

Also some show sharing is really healthy. Trade some gigs with Tampa bands or Gainesville bands. It's a small drive and it enriches the whole area.

And local bands PLEASE learn how to promote your shows. If some of you were as inventive in promoting as you are in making up excuses we would all be fucking successful.

You joked about there probably being some babies out there that are a direct result of Will's Pub, ha. How many would you estimate? How many are yours?

Well, Will's is romantic. It's the lighting or something. As to how many babies we have helped conceive I couldnt tell you.

How many were mine? Yeah right.. back in the day...

Last question: which band in town would you say are the heaviest drinkers?

The old guard are still the champs. Bands like The Ludes or Shak Nasti kill it. The new guys just aren't that passionate. They'll learn.

Thanks Kyle, This was fun!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Excited (To Reach The End) of 2009? Here's one more reason! (Jon Mann CD Review)

What can be said about a band with a name like Surfer Blood? I'll admit that my first perception of the band upon hearing their name uttered by a friend was very different from what I can easily say is now my favorite band of 2009. Surfer Blood is an indie pop band from Florida's own Palm Beach and "Astro Coast" is their debut record. I haven't been able to stop listening to this album on a daily basis since the first time I heard it. The mellow melodies and soothing song writing throughout the album are unlike a lot of new music I've heard put out in recent years. I am a fan of the record as a whole, but the stand out tracks in my opinion would have to be "Take It Easy", and "Twin Peaks". "Catholic Pegasus" is also very much a righteous jam; I must say those deep/haunting vocals are very reminiscent of Why?, and they make me shiver every time I hear the song. All in all, "Astro Coast" is the must hear, must have, must love record for 2010. But don't just take my word for it, please check it out for yourself or you will all be sorry. (editor's note: is that a threat?)

"Swim (To Reach The End)" - Now available on

Surfer Blood - Astro Coast out on
Kanine Records January 19th, 2010

Surfer Blood, Bananafish, An Introduction to Sunshine, and Great Deceivers - Live at
Backbooth 12/13/09

-Jon Mann

Also, here is a link to a Kanine Records sampler. Thanks Kanine!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Looking forward to some of the Anti-Pop shows this weekend, especially hanging hard with Furious Dudes. They're playing Friday night at Uncle Lou's. If you like beer and hanging, you will like the band and the dudes.

I have some new stuff in the pipe for the blog. My roommate (Jon Mann) is going to start putting up album reviews here. Should be some good stuff. It will pretty much be all inclusive content-wise, but sounds like he is going to focus on local acts, Florida acts, and bands coming through town to play shows. But then again, who really knows.

Also, have a few interviews in the pipe: Will Walker, Tony Weinbender and also Chris Anderson. I've gotten some great stuff back from them already so I think their interviews should come out pretty well. Got some other interesting people I want to interview, if I ever get around to asking them. I should get on that.

Oh, and Municipal Waste (the few songs I saw when I wasn't working the door) was great. And, I really want to play music with people.

Friday, October 30, 2009

An interview with Richard Minino

I'm stoked I got this one back in time for Fest 8 weekend. Richard Minino is the prolific artist behind Horsebites, whose unique artwork you will see everywhere this weekend if you go to Gainesville (for good reason, it's great stuff.) He's also a pretty decent drummer (understatement) and eats more nachos than anyone I know (follow him on Twitter or read his blog, you'll see what I mean.)

When and how did you first get involved in music?

I first started playing drums in highschool when I was 17. . . I had no clue what I was doing until my neighbor (who actually got me in to punk) showed me a few basic beats and I sort of went on from there. Later I joined a band with Sam whom I'm in a band with til this day. It's kind of just second nature now and always been something fun to do. I never went in to it with aspirations of becoming some kind of rockstar or some BS like that.

You've been playing with Sam for a long ass time. Actually I guess you've been involved in music with several of the same people for a very long time. I'm sure you've had some ups and downs throughout that period. What have you learned in regards to keeping those sorts of relationships working, and keeping everybody on the same page in a band for a long time?

It definitely gets hard when you're trapped in a metal rolling closet for long periods but if you're good friends then you'll stay good friends if you don't try and stab each other in the back. Whatever we fought or bickered about was mainly about dumb things siblings would fight over. At the end of the tour we all hugged and went back to normal life. It really taught me to have patience and to not be self-absorbed.

How many bands are you even in right now?

I'm currently in 3 bands right now, Gatorface, No Friends and None More Black.

You do a lot of work as an artist, too. When and how did you first take drawing and turn it into something more than just a hobby?

It wasn't my call really. I was kind of thrown in to the whole illustration world by force. I was just doing designs for my own band (New Mexican Disaster Squad) and other bands and people started noticing and wanting me to do stuff for them. Then my friend Kyle from Tampa told me I was gonna do a shirt for a band called Fall Out Boy (at the time I never heard of them) and I said ok. Then it showed up in Hot Topic. That was when I started seeing designing as an actual career possibility.

Aside from Horsebites and the bands you are in, what other things do you do creatively or involving music in general that I may not know about.

The Black Axe which is the design firm that 4 other designer/web dudes started early this year is keeping me busy with all my art. We just started a new company Crispy Tees and it sells novelty type shirts but with a better twist on them instead of the standard funny one liner and crappy illustrated shirt. I'm also starting a new company with Heather Gabel called The Caustic Collection and it's been a little slow mainly because she's having her first child soon and I've been wicked busy. That's about it for now. HA!

This is a question I asked Josh from Sharkguts, but I'm curious to see your response to it. Is your approach to art any different from music? When you sit down to draw something, is it a total different mindset from playing drums for you, or do you draw that creativity from the same place you think?

It's completely different. Sam and Alex are usually the song writers in the bands that I'm in so they are actually pretty good at drums too. They have a rough idea of what I would probably play and write songs to usually fit that. It works out pretty well because I don't have to think that much. When it comes to art I have to get in a completely different creative zone where visual objects are what I'm looking for to inspire me.

If someone came to you tomorrow and told you that you had to pick between music and art, or have both your arms cut off, which would you choose?

Definitely art, that was my first passion and will always be my main passion. Music is great but drawing is where I feel completely in charge and open. Even if someone cut off my arms I would still draw with my feet or stick a brush up my butt and draw with that. Ain't no stopping me!

Who do you look up to as a drummer? What about artistically? Is there anyone in general that you respect as a big influence on your work and how you live and work?

I really look up to Bill Stevenson (Black Flag, Descendents, ALL) and Josh Freese (The Vandals, Devo, NIN). They are amazing drummers with completely different styles. Bill has a sort of Bill Ward (Black Sabbath) style mixed with some type of Jazz influence. Hearing that in punk music blew my mind growing up. Josh is just an all around prodigy. He can play anything but what I really admire about him is his care free attitude and how really doesn't give a fuck. He wore an orange suit with a green bow tie when playing with a Perfect Circle and then he was talking on his cell phone when Carson Daly tried to interview while he was playing for No Doubt. During the show! How rad is that. What a jackass.

Artistically I really like the attitude of some of the greats like Ed Roth and Robert Williams who were extreme low brow artists doing whatever they felt like and not worrying if they would ever be accepted in the fine arts community. They also brought a real edge to that style of art. You know it makes you feel good to see your parents frown at that type of art and not get it at all. That's what made me realize what art really was growing up.

Have you discovered any new bands that you're way into? I know you listen to a lot of punk rock. What other things are you into?

I actually listen to less and less punk as I'm getting in to a lot more of 50's and 60's Rockabilly and even old Ragtime and Big Band stuff. Although I have to say a new band that knocked my socks off was the new Bronx band "Mariachi el Bronx". Love it.

I know you are pretty into nachos. So, I have to ask you- where do you get the best nachos in Orlando?

It's true. I think nachos are a vital element to my life source. The best nachos is a repeating topic that comes up between my friends and I. I guess I would say it's neck and neck between City Fish seafood nachos and the nachos from Stardust. Wooooo they are good!!

What is the absolute worst place on this planet that you have ever had to play a show in your entire life? Why?

Hmmmm, I've played so many shit holes before that it's a hard choice. I do have to say I would probably play most of them again though so this makes it hard. I guess one that I could remember is playing inside of an Electronics Boutique in a strip mall. It really wasn't a bad show it was just super surreal and made me feel awkward as hell. I mean come on a video game store!?!?!

When you are working for a client doing design work, do they usually come to you with a preconceived notion of what they want? It seems like it would be like being a tattoo artist. Some person comes in with a really douchey idea, and you have to find a way to make it into something that looks good.

I actually prefer when they give me an idea because I think any designers worst nightmare is "just do something cool". That kills me. I would way rather have them explain to me exactly what they are looking for and for them to expect that I'm gonna do it in my own style. That's what I like.

Of all the albums, shirts, etc that you have designed, which one is your favorite? Why? Also, what do you have the most fun designing?

I actually had a blast doing some snowboards for K2 recently. That was a real blast because it was in a format I rarely get to do, and to see your art printed that big is a real treat. Also, dealing with people in the X-treme sports field is nice because they really know what their demographic is and they have a hold on it. They give the best direction because of that.

I know you are a guy that prefers to hand draw things, and then convert them into a digital format after. Do you have any tips for people out there who like to draw, and just really don't know a lot about photoshop and illustrator, but would like to start doing design?

Yeah, don't do it. Honestly, if you you're not that good at drawing then stop. You're taking my nacho eating money from me.

Actually, as a veteran of playing music and being an artist in the punk scene for a good amount of time, what advice do you have for youngins that are just getting started, or want to get started?

You really have to be willing to be stepped on and really not make money for a long time. It goes the same for a band. If you have intentions of being rich or famous then you're not doing it right. Those are usually the people that fail at these type of things. If you keep your head up and just draw to please yourself and to always get better, that is the only way you're gonna be noticed. People who try too hard can succeed quickly but usually die quicker also because they don't build a strong fan base.

Tell me (us) about your cafe racer. I don't know shit about motorcycles.

HA! I actually don't own a cafe racer, my roommate Ben does. I own a Honda CB350 which can be converted into a cafe racer and is usually the japanese motorcycle that most people convert to a cafe racer. I just got in to bikes less then a year ago and have been obsessive about them since. I don't think it will wear off cause I'm looking to buy another soon. There is just something about riding with your friends and getting lost on some weird ass back roads in Florida. It's so much fun.

OK, I think this is the last question. If you were going to start a band/biker gang, and tour on motorcycles for 3 months straight, what famous people would you want in it?

Well, I would definitely want all the bikers from Pee Wee's Big Adventure. Have you seen the part where they party in the bar? Yeah, they know how to roll. I would also like to have Anna Faris because let's face it, she's hot. Um, a lot of the Scout Troopers on their speeder bikes from Return of the Jedi and I guess the last person I would like to have is Kurt Russel. Hands down. Ultimate Bad-Ass.

Thanks a lot Richard, have a great time at Fest.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Friends and shows!

Been working with some friends on some pretty awesome shows that are coming up. If you're around you should check them out!

October 29
Pre Fest 8 Party

The Menzingers
How Dare You
Cool To Be You
The Knockdown
Only Thieves
(for links see prior post)

7pm, $6 @ Will's Pub in Orlando
w/ Lola Pizzeria serving food.

November 13
Furious Dudes @ Uncle Lou's for Anti-Pop in Orlando

November 14
Only Thieves ? @ Tanquerays for Anti-Pop in Orlando

December 5
Andy Matchett & The Minks + TBA @ Propaganda in Lake Worth

December 19
Look Mexico, Andy Matchett & The Minks , Mike Dunn & The Kings of New England (CD Release) w/ TBA @ New World Brewery in Tampa

Thanks to Joe, Paul, Steev and Will for helping me and helping these guys out!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Did the Sunday brunch thing yesterday with a few friends. Dr. Geek made an appearance:
Maybe I should interview that guy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I was talking to Richard earlier, and he asked me about the blog, how often I post and stuff. And I told him really only like twice a month, since it'd be a pain in the ass coming up with enough people to interview to do more interview posts than that. But, then I started thinking maybe I should post about other stuff, too? I dunno. Anyways, I'm real stoked on this show Justin and I are putting on at Will's Pub Thursday. It is a pre- Fest 8 show, and it is an awesome lineup. If you read this you should come:
The Menzingers
How Dare You
Cool To Be You
The Knockdown
Only Thieves

Doors are at 7pm, and it will be $6.

Friday, October 23, 2009

An interview with Dan Rozenblum of Thunderdome Touring

Thunderdome Touring's Dan Rozenblum agreed to let me pick his brain about booking, touring, and music in general. There is definitely some useful information here for anyone who cares about any of those things. I think I first officially met Dan when I booked Psyopus at this crappy (and sorta awesome) bar I worked at in Tallahasse called The Inn Between. Thanks in part to Dan, they no longer have to play crappy bars like that.

When did you first start playing music? What instrument did you pick up first? When did you start playing in bands, and what was your first?

I picked up guitar in 1988, so when I was 13. I was really into U2, Pink Floyd, Metallica, Slayer, and Testament. I begged my mom to let me play guitar and that pretty much was the turning point for me for the direction my life has taken. I got really into music and that really became the main focal point of everything. I didn't start playing in a band till 10th grade. But that was just jamming with my friends at school. I went to a private school so there were only a few kids who played metal, but I ended up going to public school in 11th grade and that's where I played in my first real band. I actually played bass in that band and it was hardcore punk band called Now Or Never. That was 1991, and the kids at public school are the ones who gave me my introduction into Dead Kennedys, Misfits, Minor Threat, Youth Of Today and stuff like Thrill Kill Kult. That year was pivotal for me. All that punk stuff, and also the Nirvana thing. That was the year I played my first show and it was the most incredible experience ever!

Cream Abdul Babar started in 1994; you guys had a pretty long run. Lots of touring, and I'm sure some great and some not so great experiences along the way. Of the bands you guys had a chance to tour with, who was one of your personal favorites? Why?

Yeah that band defined my life for the 13 years we were together. It was a group of best friends that were together not because of any sort of strategy on song writing or getting signed or "which guy are we gonna get to play guitar who has bad ass riffs". It was 110% based on friendship and fun. That is all. And the fact of the matter is that we are not "broken up." we simply "do not play together at the moment." The term "break up" implies there is animosity or that something went wrong. Nothing is wrong; we just logistically cannot play together. These are still my 7 best friends. The coolest tour in my opinion was our tour with Dragbody. That lasted 3 months, and was simply amazing. We toured with Mastodon too, but that was the worst performed tour ever for us, hahaha! Another really good one was with Melt-Banana.

What other bands did you have a chance to play with over the years?

We played hundreds and hundreds of shows across the US, that included bands like Neurosis, Morbid Angel, Citizen Fish, Taken, Mastodon, Kill Your Idols, Indecision, Kylesa, Melt-Banana....

It is clear that you learned a lot over the years touring with CAB. Now you run your own booking agency, Thunderdome Touring. What advice do you have for young bands out there that would like to book and promote their own tours? What to do, what not to do? Any tips for them on finding places to book shows at, etc.
The best piece of advice I can give a band is to do as much as you can for yourself and by yourself. There are all these bands that think they've played 4 shows and they can get signed and get a booking agent. That's the worst crock of shit ever. There are 10 million bands that want the same thing you do. Do what you need to separate yourself from them, and get yourself ahead. Labels and agents want to see what you can do yourself. Tour constantly and get your chops down. You do not have good chops after 4 shows. You have good chops after 3 months on the road straight through. Then do it again. And maybe even one more time. Book it yourself. Promote it yourself. Bands nowadays have it easy; there are all these internet sites at your fingertips to utilize. Work them hard. Make posters, send them out to clubs, stores, create a street team etc. If you have some $ run an ad in a magazine or web banners on a site. Do everything you want your ideal label to do yourself. Then when the labels come calling, you have the power to say:"what can you do that we can't do ourselves?” The best way to find venues is to look at other bands' sites. Don't look at bands that are way bigger than you, because those bands are playing venues far too big for you. Check out bands on your level or a little bigger.

Any nightmare tour experiences when you were with CAB? What about something awesome?

No nightmares really... the worst thing was probably a blow-out... so thankfully that is all!awesomeness is having Dick from Subhumans / Citizen Fish buy all your shit in Berkeley and tell you that your band is "brilliant", while you are standing next to Dave from Neurosis who also comes to see you every time you play the bay area, even if it's 3 days in a row.

How do you keep up with what venues are out there to book shows at in various towns around the country that you have either never been to, or haven't been in years?

I usually work with the same reliable people all the time, but when a new place pops up, all the agents know about.

You mostly cater to metal bands, but at times you have also done work for hardcore, punk and indie rock bands. How do they differ? How is booking a series of shows for a metal band different, easier, or more difficult than it is for other genres?

It's the circuit of venues & clubs. We've got metal promoters and punk promoters and what have you . . . or guys who do all of it. I lean mostly to metal bands because that is what I do best. I work with all the metal agents and we exchange bands on each other's tours.

Are you working on any major tours right now? How much work goes into setting up say, a month of shows for a band? If a band wants to book a lengthy tour, how far ahead of time do you suggest they start contacting venues?

Established bands I will book 6 months ahead. Sometimes less, but for an international band, I like to start working on it about 1/2 a year out. So I may place holds at venues in October or November for a tour in May. Generally speaking though, you can book a tour with 3 months notice. Anything shorter than that is scrambling, in my opinion.

Is there a constant flow of you having to follow up with venues and promoters trying to lock down these shows? What do you do when you need say, one date in between two cities, and you just are not hearing back at all from the venue? Give up and move on and try to find a different place to send them? Keep following up, trying to make contact?

I never give up and if someone isn’t getting back to me, I move on. Since we work with the same people repeatedly, we have an on-going relationship and it's rare for that to happen. I also assume if you don't call me back you don't want the show.

Tell me about the history of the name, Thunderdome. How it started, how you came to use it.

That's all Ian Mott. He came up with it and it was going to be the name of his punk radio show on WVFS I believe. Then we used it- with his permission- as the name of the all ages venue.

You were involved in the Tallahassee music scene for quite a long time. If you were to pick a given era that was your favorite: the bands, the venues, the people at the shows, when and who would it be?

Hands down it was the mid-late 90's, with bands like Nel Aspinal, Bacon Ray, Flanders, Syrup, Atlas Shrug, The New You, etc. That was a thriving local scene and it has never been like that since. We were on the verge of having an Athens-like scene with bands really blowing up.

Any new bands you've heard recently or begun working with that you are really excited about, that more people should know of?

I'm listing to Born Of Osiris right now, as well as Revocation, this bad ass band on Relapse. The guitarist is insane and his solos are very much in the Vai / Van Halen area.

What's your favorite thing about doing what you do for a living? You're a pretty new Dad, right? Does it afford you a lot of time to spend with your child?

Yes, I am a new Dad. It's the coolest thing ever. I work from home currently, so that makes it easy to spend time with her. But I work long hours and it's intense. I accepted a job at another agency though, so soon I'll be going to an office. Bye-bye working from home.My favorite thing about what I do for a living is watching a show on a tour you put together at a House of Blues or similar type venue. It rules.

If you weren't doing what you do now, what would you be doing?

I have no idea. I really would like to be an actor, but that's just a dream.

An actor? What kind of actor would you be? Are you into comedy, drama, action? I could see you toting some bad ass grenade launcher or something.

Hahahaha, that would rule but I'm not built enough for action flicks! I think I'd like to do drama.

Who are some people you look up to- personally or professionally- that you have learned a lot from and have in some way lead to you running a successful business working in music? How did they impact you?

I watched a guy named Tim Borror grow from working in his friend's basement to opening his own company, building that and then having the entire company be brought in to a corporate agency, making him the vice president of the NYC office. He's a bad ass and if I could follow that mold I would. Also a guy named Ash Avildsen. He is a self-made dude who has a knack for turning bands from $100 bands into headliners. He's got the Midas touch and what he has done so far has been amazing.

Last question. What town would you never recommend anyone ever trying to book a show in? And, what town was your favorite to play in when you were touring?

Hahahahaha, Wow. Ummmmm, hard one. Every town has something to offer. It's just if the promoter is good or not. You have to balance expectations. Knowing you are going to play a small town you have to know that it's not going to be 750 people. My favorite place to play was always New York City or San Francisco.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chris Cucci of Post*Records

I've been wanting to do this interview for a while, but I had to take a break for a bit from the blog. I got my motivation back recently and I knew Chris would make for a great interview. He has his own record label, Post*Records. They have helped out a lot of great local bands here in Orlando, and I felt he deserved a spotlight.

When did you first get involved in music in general?

I took guitar lessons for a very short time when I was young. I think I learned to play hot crossed buns or something. I am left handed and played a borrowed righty guitar restrung for a lefty. I didn't play again until high school when myuncle gave me my first guitar and taught me a bunch of chords and scales. It was a right handed guitar so I learned to play that way and have no idea how I ever played the left handed one as a kid. I always liked putting events together and helped organize stuff like that in high school for bands in our little Florida beach town.

What little florida beach town did you grow up in?

Englewood...west coast, gulf beach town south of Sarasota.

What other instruments and such did you end up picking up along the way?

Guitar first, then got a banjo as a gift and learned that as well as all kinds of electronic gadgets. My uncle is pretty nerdy about gear and I own a few homemade tube amps as well as analog synth and midi modules that he built. He is supposed to be making me ananalog synth powered by SID (the sound chip from a Commodore 64). I hope that happens. That synth sounds pretty great.

Think it'll see the light of day in a new band or project you could get involved in?

Hopefully! I am a big fan of the C64 and especially love computer music from that era so I would very much like to use it for a project. I'd probably call the band The Hard Hat Macks...if anyone likes that, we need to do some retro gaming together.

What bands have you played in in the past? I remember that you were a member of The Heathens.

I played a couple years in highschool in a 3 piece called Bootleg!, then played with my friend Alex in a band that we always changed the name of in the late 90s / early 2000s. It was lots of drum synths, phased out guitar, and he was a badass keyboard player. Then I did The Heathens and have played a few parts as guest spots on various Post*Records projects. Oh and I also was in Old Dogs which was super fun...we have a live tape floating around that is supposed to get released someday, so we will see about that. I've also been in a lot of bands
that lasted like a week based on ideas that sounded better on beer.

Haha. What was the worst band idea that sounded better on beer?

There have been many...one will actually be performing as a one shot deal this Halloween at Ethos...Meneaters: A Tribute to Hall & Oates. As the name implies, a Hall & Oates cover band..me, my brother, Shawn McNulty. Joe (brother) and I were drinking beers blasting a live Hall & Oates album one recent night when the idea was born. The record had an 8 minute version of Sara Smile..it was pretty intense.

So eventually, after being involved in putting on shows, playing in bands, etc, you started your own label. Post*Records. When did you start Post?

I started Post*Records in 2004. I had been working with a partner doing local live events in Orlando and I started releasing compilation albums for us around 2001/2002. I really liked that and wanted to release music from unknown bands full time so I broke off and formed Post.

It is clear that aside from just enjoying listening to and playing music, you also care a lot about helping foster a sense of community within the music scene- helping, involving, supporting those involved from all aspects- be it fans, musicians, venues, etc. Do you think anyone influenced you in this regard?

Slim Moon did a lot for independent bands and I respect the fact that he used the success of bigger acts to support releases from lower selling bands and also stayed very loyal to the scene in the northwest, specifically Olympia. Ian MacKaye also was an influence. I would buy records from them via mailorder in highschool and get handwritten notes and always extras thrown in. I try to throw extrasin all the orders and write notes to thank people for supporting. I am also a huge fan of Long Gone John at Sympathy...I appreciate howhis personality is such a big part of the label's brand.

That's awesome. I remember ordering a shirt from a band one time. They sent me two shirts, an old CD, and stickers. I was thinking,"Holy shit this is great!" I totally know where you're coming from on that. It really makes you feel appreciated. So you are pretty involved with everything then, huh? You aren't just the guy who comes up with ideas and helps unknown bands, you're also packing up boxes, dropping in some extras, then driving down to UPS to ship them out. That involves a certain degree of self-sacrifice, from a time and effort standpoint. Do you get a pretty strong sense of satisfaction from knowing you've helped someone else out or making that connection with a fan? It can't be purely entrepreneurial.

Yeah, exactly. It's not about money. If it was, I would be a big idiot. When I had a lawyer draw up the contracts for the label...tailor made to my specifications of giving the bands most of the rights and an easy opt-out, he said "Get ready to work really hard for not a lot of money." He was right. When Phil started Sleepy Bird, I passed the quote along to him. It's a good quote, seems to be pretty accurate for anyone running a small label (and from what I've seen, many bigger ones too.)

What tips do you have for someone- a musician, or a fan, that wants to get involved in music and do some of the things you have done over the years? Lessons you've learned from your mistakes, or your successes.

Running a tiny record label is like becoming a Pokemaster..it takes hard work and dedication. You can't just go out there with a Chimchar and expect to conquer the world, you need to cultivate and stay at it, turn that little guy into an Infernape so you can really kick some butt. Be nice to people. Everyone has their share of success and failures. Get ready to work hard for not a lot of money (thanks, Greg the lawyer.)

What do you do when you aren't working with music? Would you say there are things you have learned working with music that translate to that?

I help other people grow their businesses. I think that everything I do probably affects everything else...so yeah, it all translates. I like working on business plans, interpreting data from businesses, and learning about how different types of companies operate. From that standpoint, I can say with some certainty that a record label is a horrible business idea despite being a very rewarding one if you like supporting your scene.

Are there any new Post*Records releases, or even just new bands in general you've recently discovered that you are excited about?

1991 is working on a release for Post and Darin from Happy Valley is recording it...should be great! There's this other local thing coming from Post that's sort of a surprise but all I can say right now it that it's an album themed around the ancient greek gods and most locals will know who when they hear it. I think Mowgli is an awesome local band right now. And I really love the band Buff Clout from Jacksonville and urge everyone to go out and see them live (US tour starts in a few weeks)...they give an amazing live show...lots of energy, raw..no stupid theatrics, all fingertap shreddage and hard drum hits. I try to see Garbo's Daughter whenever I can, they're great live and on tape. I really like Hot Hands too. Another suggestion..go see Reviver/Reviver on Oct 24 at Wills! There's lots of good bands playing that night. There's this French band called The Last Rapes of Mr Teach that has a new 7" coming out soon...look them up, I really like them and I have bugged them to do something a few times....we'll see.

How do you feel about the current state of the Orlando music scene? Do you feel it is as strong today as it was in some of the earlier years in which you were involved with it? In what ways would you say it is different or similar now as it was then? What do you attribute this to?

Orlando's scene has these waves of greatness and then HUGE periods of dull nothing. I think we have some really awesome stuff going on in Orlando right now and it's totally attributed to the younger bands out there..like high school thru 20 yr olds mostly but then a few others. It is always like this from what I've seen. I attribute the dull times to bands getting a few good turnout shows and then thinking they're some superband and not playing shows in town anymore to the point that when they do, nobody even cares anymore. Or really crappy bands overplaying, also a problem. I would like to see more people put on events instead of just the same shows with the same 3 bands playing every month at the same place. There are lots of house shows now and that's great, it was not like that for a while but house shows really help make a scene. I wish people would stop relying on myspace and facebook as their sole promotion tools ( and I don't mean that they need to add twitter and texting to their marketing tactics)...it's nice to see posters for shows and flyers around town. I was in barbq and I mentioned to Henry that the wall was covered in posters for shows at Firestone. He said something about how it's true but he likes that there is someone actually putting posters on the big wall in there. It's true, it would be nice to see some other bands and venues putting up their posters in there...

Anything new you're planning to get involved with? You don't strike me as someone who stays sedentary without working on new things.

Oh yeah, also about to launch a new company called "the DIY team" www.thediyteam.com its what I'm calling an "indie co-op"...basically a big indie band/label collective for anyone who needs help with getting distribution and also some assistance with press campaigns, college radio promo, and booking. The idea is that I've gained some nice resources thru doing Post*Records but it's a small operation and I can't take on every band. the DIY team is a way to use my resources from Post to help bands and small labels out there who want to help themselves. I give the bands digital distro at a way better deal than anyone out there and also provide them with members-only access to an online community of other bands...as it grows, so will the diversity and depth of the resources it provides. I'm just getting it started now locally to test out the concept but it should be national by the end of the year or sooner.

The last questions I want to ask you, is: If you were kidnapped, and forced to start a band with *any* member of the Orlando music scene- past or present- who would it be, and what would you want the band to sound like?

I would like to start a 50s rock band with Sean McNulty on sax, my brother Joe on piano, Dino from the Copper Rocket on drums, and this girl with this awesome squeaky voice that used to work at Panera Bread (the old Rollins location) as singer. I would play guitar. And you would not have to kidnap or force me because it would be awesome. I would probably have to kidnap and force all of them to make it happen.

Thanks a lot Chris!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

An Interview w/ Andy Matchett

Today's interview is with Andy Matchett. He has played in a lot of bands, including my own, and is now focusing more intently on his solo effort. His music in this solo effort is far different from that which he created as The Monorail, but is no less endearing in any way; he's just. . . grown up. I'd drop a bunch of pompous adjectives to make it sound like I was capturing in words the effect his music has upon listening, but I think that's stupid. Mostly.

What do you do creatively?

I write songs and sing them in front of people, preferably with a backing band. I usually play guitar or some kind of piano or keyboard, but I’ve been obsessing about the drums for a few years now, so we’ll see where that leads… I like to paint & draw and I like to build things. A couple years ago I started doing these large scale, elaborate doodles with sharpie marker on plywood. A few friends had them tattooed and I’m really proud of that. Right now I’m working on a series of handmade guitar straps & equipment cases for low-budget artists who don’t want to drop wads of cash on that kind of gear.

You definitely have a broad range of interests. You mention that you are focusing on being a solo artist, musically. In the past you have done the Monorail and People Chasing People. In what ways do you consider what you are doing now different? Will you carry on any of the Monorail songs as Andy Matchett, Andy Matchett and the Monorail? Or do you intend to leave that part of your musical history behind?

I've been writing songs for almost 15 years now and 9 of them have been with The Monorail in mind. The idea of that band will never completely die for me. We started The Monorail before being dancy & poppy was an acceptable thing in indie rock and we took a lot of heat from the hipster crowd for that, but by 2004 every band on the radio had a disco beat and it just got irritating. I felt a little slighted by the whole thing, to be honest, so I started to gravitate to things that were less gimmick-related and more about longevity and true expression. You think about The Beatles, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Springsteen, Beck - people who weren’t necessarily associated with a fashion movement (or able to transcend one, anyway) - they've got dance songs, introspective songs, protest songs, everything. There aren’t any rules with those guys. I'd rather be completely unknown in that kind of position than locked into fleeting success with something stylized & fashionable. This album I'm working on now will probably just be a solo record without the connotation that comes with a band name. I'm pulling songs of mine from the last 10 years without any concern for what's happening right now in music. I want to focus on songwriting instead of some sort of disposable genre gimmick.... That’s not to say I wouldn’t drop a super catchy ELO party album out of the sky in few years, call it The Monorail & make everybody realize I'm a huge weirdo like they do when Neil Young comes out with Vocoder records about electric cars & space.

So does that mean you won't be writing about electric cars & space?

How about a three disc song cycle on the plight of soybean farmers instead?

How did People Chasing People come out of The Monorail?

People Chasing People needed a guitarist and The Monorail needed a band. It was a best-friendship formed in mutual admiration of each other’s music. For all intents & purposes, we were the same band, we just couldn’t decide on which of us would sing or what name we would drop.

When did you decide, "I'm not content just playing guitar. I want to sing,

It was always about doing both. I think I decided that before I even had a guitar. I wanted to write songs, sing them and have a great band playing along. It took a lot of time to figure out the rest.

At that point, was singing something you were good at, or did you have to work at it? Is there anything in particular you learned about singing in a band that you think people should know if they wanted to do it, too?

It was a struggle for me to get comfortable listening to my own voice. I never felt weird while I was singing, but listening to it afterwards was the worst. The first time someone isolated my vocals in a recording session I almost abandoned the whole project entirely. I couldn’t imagine anyone else wanting to hear that. You get over that stuff pretty quick, though. To me, if you want to sing you should just start singing, regardless of how you think people will feel about it. If you’re comfortable in the moment, the rest will work itself out at some point.

The lyrics in your newer songs often paint some pretty vivid scenes, and recount stories that have happened. From a writing standpoint, you do a great job of showing people your story, rather than simply telling it to them. Where did you learn this? It doesn't seem like something you could accomplish on accident.

Well, I’ve got about 3 years of an English degree from a fairly reputable Florida university - that probably did the trick. (laughter followed by a heavy sigh) (editor’s note: I dunno, all it got me was this lousy blog.)
When I was doing The Monorail it was always more important that the music be intense and emotional and fun. Words tended to be an afterthought. We’d play new songs live without even finishing the words, so I’d just make things up. When I started singing on my own and realized people could actually hear what I was saying, I decided to get my act together. I still think a powerful melody or a striking chord change can be the focal point of a great song, but the older I get, the more I seek out music for its lyrical content.

You've been doing this for 15 years now. If you were going to sit down with someone who is say, 15 years old, and they said, "teach me how to write songs," what's the most important lesson that you have learned in this time that you would want them to learn?

I would tell them to pick their 5 favorite songs and learn them inside and out. Then I would tell them to pick 5 songs they hated and do the same. Then I would tell them to go somewhere dark and eat a sandwich. I’m just kidding. You can’t teach people to write songs. They either figure it out for themselves or they don’t. Like capitalism!

With this much time under your belt playing in bands, mediating personalities, playing shows and touring, do you have any advice for someone who is just starting to do these things?

Yes – talk to as many people as you can and BE NICE. You’ll either succeed or you won’t, so there’s no need to be a total shit along the way.

What is something you learned about touring in a band that you wish you had known before you first tried it?

There is nothing that anyone can say to you that will prepare you for that first month on the road. The most important thing is to be sensitive to the people you are sharing the experience with. You should be up front about the things that bother you and respect the things that bother everyone else. Conflicts should be dealt with openly and quickly so everyone can move on without lingering tension. Everything else is a glorious exercise in self-realization that can only be fully understood in hindsight.

What song-writers do you find particularly inspiring? Do you have a song that you could point to and say, "I was totally imitating that guy when I wrote that song” ?

I love anyone with a good work ethic who invests a lot of themselves in their songs & albums, but never forgets about the audience. I believe in writing songs for yourself, but recording them for other people. I’m a big fan of Dave Grohl, early Weezer, REM, Blur, Dave Bazan, Ben Folds and the holy quartet of Supers – ‘Grass, ‘Drag, ‘Chunk and ‘Furry Animals. I have a lot of respect for people like Eddie Vedder & Neil Young who have made a career out of doing things their own way. I don’t really feel a compulsion to imitate any particular sound or style of music, though. There is a sweet spot right in the middle of all the rock music we’ve come to know as a society and I just want to explore the hell out of that spot. I want to build a little house there and raise a family.

You're currently putting together a full band to perform your newer material. You're recording it, too. What will you call the band?

The live band is called Andy Matchett & The Minks, but I think this album coming out is an Andy Matchett album. We’ll see. We all still have a ways to go yet.

You said that you also enjoy painting. Does your inspiration to paint come from a different place than music, or is it all as simple as being a creative release for you?

I usually only paint as a vehicle to visually express the ideas I’m presenting in the music - like when I need an album cover or something. I’ve only done a few pieces just for the sake of painting. I find it a little easier to express things directly from my subconscious with visual art, but the results haven’t been nearly as satisfying to me as a finished song is. Songs can be relevant to your life over & over in hundreds of different ways. Paintings are done and they either look good or they don’t. People either like them or they don’t, but that’s the end of it for you as the artist. I’m never as proud of my paintings as I am of my songs.

Do you see painting as being something you will pursue more as time goes on? Is there anything painting wise that you would like to achieve that you have not yet?

I see myself being more into creating actual things as I get older. Since I was a kid, I’ve been completely immersed in the world of sounds, words & ideas. Really, anything intangible that can be associated with emotion. The older I get, though, the more I realize those things are temporary in their importance. There is a fleeting passion to music that you strive, sometimes successfully, to capture. It’s addictive and potentially destructive work that is never finished. Building things, painting, sewing, fixing – there’s a satisfaction to seeing these things done and sitting in front of you. It’s easy to move on. Songs stay with you, churning around in your life, demanding attention and taking new shape. I love songs in the way I love complicated women – you can never rest or know what to expect from them. Thinking of myself as a humble ‘maker of things’ is a romantic vision of myself growing older, but at this point in my life anyway, its still all about the struggle to document things in musical form that are extremely difficult to express.

Are there any new bands that you have discovered in the last year that you
are particularly fond of? Why?

Oh, wow, so many. The Thermals – its been longer than a year, but I’m still in love with this band. Hutch has the most amazing lyrical voice. Funny, smart and urgent. His wife/girlfriend Kathy plays bass live, but on the records she drums like a freaking wolfman. I haven’t seen them on stage yet, but I can’t wait. The National is another favorite. I’m a few years behind on these guys, but I feel like I got into them just in time. They’re playing the perfect soundtrack for the great American hangover we’re all in the middle of. I think Boxer is a masterpiece. The Whigs came out with a decent one last year that I just stumbled upon and ended up liking a lot. There are 3 or 4 songs that really kill it. I think Rob Schnapf could record two goats playing checkers and it would still be an indie-rock classic. I like this new Grizzly Bear album, too – weird but familiar somehow. It’s got a quiet, sweaty, summer night kind of vibe. I love the new Mumpsy stuff, too – no surprise there - and the Surfer Blood record I got slipped an advanced copy of is just great. There’s so much good stuff out there right now.

What about in high school and middle school. What music molded you back

Every type of classic or alternative rock imaginable. I would stay up to watch 120 Minutes on Sunday nights, write down everything I liked and go buy it later in the week. I had my folks’ vinyl collection from the 60s & 70s, too, and that stuff really had an impact on me. There wasn’t any particular record or band that pops out, I just loved all of it and wanted to be involved.

Thanks a lot Andy. Last question:

Who would win in a fight between Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney?

Jesus, like a fist fight? Wow. I think Brian Wilson would probably just psych himself out and kick his own ass. Paul wouldn’t have to do anything at all but stand there and smile. And then Mick Jagger would swoop in out of nowhere, kick BOTH of their fussy asses, do a little rooster strut and take off.

*Thanks SO MUCH*
No, no. Thank YOU Kyle!