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As the festival gets under way, we bring you the most authoritative “must-see” list, based on what 59 participating Psycho artists told us in interviews we published leading up to “America’s rock ‘n’ roll bacchanal.”
“I’m proud of what we do and how this record turned out. There’s no mystery to what we do and we approach music not with some master plan or ultimate goal, except to take these songs and perform them the best we can. We always hope for some kind of response from people because even though songwriting is very personal to me, I’m still communicating with people.”
To give you a taste of the panoply of musical strains in store for the long festival weekend, we’ve assembled video playlists for each day of the festival (including the pre-party).
“How many people our age can just get out there and become relevant to a new generation? We don’t have any illusions of record deals and we’re thankful just to wake up every day and play rock & roll. How many people can be fortunate enough to say that?” said Molinare
“I was moved by the actual words of the Statue of Liberty and was especially drawn to the message of inclusion. Our parents and grandparents came to this country from rougher lives and to start creating something new. People have the basic human right to work and create a better life for themselves and loved ones,” stated Lashley in his hallmark Boston accent.
Poet, essayist, and (music) journalist Noah C. Lekas releases his debut book that explores mysticism and menial labor in contemporary America. The collection of narrative prose arrives April 13th via SoCal label Blind Owl Records, with various artists contributing short films to accompany each poem. The Big Takeover hosts the premiere of one of the videos for poem “Steamroll the Sky” featuring the gritty glory of New York City.
“Guthrie said anything more than two chords and you’re just showing off. That’s a great sentiment because sometimes keeping things simple is the hardest thing to do,” exclaimed Engine.
“I really am grateful for everything. As for the planned tour, I feel that if you’re touring you should be supporting a new record. Kerry and I will continue writing and we’re looking at recording next year. Kerry was the original catalyst for the band and he got my son and I into music. I forever love him like a brother for that,” concluded Bartsch.
“I’ve never been the guy to say the newest record is the best. With Digital Garbage, I’m very happy with it because there has been some new dynamics. Dan (Peters) wrote a track and Guy(Maddison) added some synth. I know there might be a political statement or two in Mark’s lyrics but I don’t consider us a political band,” said Turner.
“I was always raised to fight for my beliefs. My family goes back generations as being involved in unions and I’m still appalled at the ongoing disrespect toward the American worker,” he stated.
“Our sound wasn’t planned or contrived in any way, we just play like we do because it’s all we know. With this lineup I feel this is the one; in it for life because this is really all we do,” stated Lawrence.
“People always ask how my new music will sound and I tell them, it’s me and will always have the power, passion, and energy. It’s a magical time and it fills me with joy to be able to do this every day,” exclaimed Pesch.
‘I talk about authenticity a lot and I don’t want to feel the more I mention it the less impacting it gets. There are many versions of someone’s persona when they’re part of the music or art world in general. I know onstage I feel I can settle into a character by using dry humor but I feel a lot of my songs rely on vocal melodies and that is what I don’t hide from,” stated Loveless.
“When you take the time to look around you see the diverse ways people communicate within different cultures. With music, I understood that it didn’t have to have the end goal of being turned into something tangible, like a record but instead be utilized through musical storytelling to preserve a community’s tradition and values.”
“The album title is more or less related to the problems we had, we wanted to face them positively because they were directly affecting our daily life.” – Jazz Rodríguez Bueno on MOURN’s latest LP, ‘Ha, Ha, He.’
“Knowing there are so many hardworking people in every DIY scene makes me grateful for all the opportunities that are handed to me.” – Melina Duterte
“I like to think our music always has darkness but with small rays of hope. The world is a dark place but we do have positive messages without making light of it. If our music makes someone feel less alone then I know what I’m doing is still worth it,” affirmed Vernon.
“I remember how poor we were at certain times. My dad worked hard and he always made sure we had two things, books and music. I grew up listening to anything I could get my hands on, from Cole Porter to African rhythm records. I didn’t care what it was, as long as it sparked something in me.”
“I always felt rock & roll should be raw and dangerous. Playing live is an exorcism and really just a celebration of life; Owning pain, joy and emotion,” affirmed Lewis.
“Southern Indie” label This Is American Music shows there’s more than meets the eye in their home region and reveals the importance of community in the music business.
A post-punk/shoegaze trio from Tel Aviv that exemplifies the notion of music being universal.
“I’m never complacent. I always just try to get better and improve my work, which keeps me hungry and striving for greatness endlessly,” he concluded.
“I still love everything about it. I guess quitting for awhile helped me get even more excited about music.I consider myself very lucky to be able to still write and I feel very free and more creative now than I have ever been. I’m going to ride it as long as I can,” laughed Secich.
“I really don’t feel our rise to fame was that quick. First off, we were still touring in vans and I knew nothing when I went to record. I really have to give props to our producer, Keith Forsey. He taught me so much about music and sound and has been a huge influence on my growth as a musician,” complimented Stevens.
Onstage, with her low-slung bass guitar and trademark bare feet, Finch epitomized grunge era cool.
“Personally, I’m all for the music aspect. I love blending different styles. We’re about music and inspiration and hopefully inspiring others to start creating.”
“Never give up in what you believe in. I just remain true to myself. The newer fans now have a female guitarist they can look to for guidance and leadership. I stand still and the world revolves around me,” stated Ford.
“I was first inspired by Courtney Love. I know she’s not the best person but it wasn’t until I heard Pantera that I knew I wanted to try and make a career from music. I knew I wanted to do something to help people and inspire them and I do feel responsible to be positive,” she reflected.
On the heels of her lovely new solo record, Red Kite—only her second in seventeen years—we have a lovely chat with Saint Etienne frontwoman Sarah Cracknell.
“The time off has really worked to our advantage. We pursued a lot of other projects since then and we have gained all these new perspectives. I feel we’re all much more accountable now and this record, to me, has us taking control of every aspect,” said Bottum.
“I understand that our music is heavy and something a lot of people won’t get or even dance to but we work to create a special energy. I’m not into stages. I don’t think anyone should feel they’re elevated and above any one else. A lot of the Bay Area venues we play have been closing but we network to play venues where we feel we can connect better with people,” she said.
“Going solo is absolutely more challenging. It’s naked, harrowing, terrifying. I have a binder in front of me to help me remember words. With the ‘Utters and maybe rock in general, you have this safety net of volume or speed. If I make a mistake it’s not as glaringly obvious but with these songs, it’s painfully obvious,” he sighed.
“Today, our country puts away roughly 2.3 million people. California spends about $47,000 a year per person to lockup inmates. This is a deep, complex problem and the issues surrounding all of this could make it the biggest disaster in U.S. social policy history. I think it’s an embarrassment,” stated Kramer.
In a short time, Dick Diver have created some monumental works (New Start Again and Calendar Days spring to mind) that not only display deft and diverse songwriting but also some ace guitar and lasting melodies. Melbourne, Florida is no different than its predecessors, but does show a newfound confidence.
“Hearing early rock n’ roll made me wanna bash stuff and make a racket! When I was 4 years old they discovered me in the kitchen with all the pots and pans upside down on the floor. I was bashing on them with a spoon along to the music coming out of the radio. When I was 11 I got a guitar, picked it up and wrote a song on it, on one string! I’m still cranking on that string and bashing stuff.”
“When you’re not feeling good about yourself, a number one record doesn’t matter.”
It’s a common belief that bad things come in threes. For Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band, that theory just doesn’t hold up. Former Brooklynite and current Philly resident Chris Forsyth and his band (featuring Peter Kerlin, Paul Sukeena from Philly deep thudders Spacin’ and Steve Urgo, formerly of The War on Drugs) are countering this aged idea successfully at every turn, beginning with the release of Solar Motel on October 29th, 2013 .
“Shopping Howl’s record around to the old guard made me realize that the kids are the new guard, here and now. I’m not going to abandon them because they straight up made my career. I don’t want to alienate people, I want to learn and grow with them. If I can challenge the kids with this band then I’m all the better for it,” he said.
“When Rasputina started we didn’t have anyone to emulate. My naiveté turned out to be a real blessing because it seemed obvious to use cello instead of guitar. I wasn’t going to get a guitarist or learn just so I could have a band,” laughed Creager.
2014 shows no signs of Fair slowing down his collaborations or Half Japanese.
“Hardcore indirectly gave my natural big mouth a megaphone. It nurtured the activism within my heart and made me appreciate the idea of unity and community,” shared Kevin.
“I get really down on hateful music that has no point. What good is it if all you’re doing is screaming about how angry you are if there’s no type of catharsis for you?” stated Newton.
Bandleader Perry Serpa on the NYC ensemble’s four-album series and the special challenges of running a rock orchestra.
“There’s no higher compliment than to get feedback in person. To have someone come up to you 20 years later and say something you wrote saved their life is very gratifying, especially when you look back to when you first wrote it and wondered if anyone was even listening.”
“Every time you hear that noise that says ‘We are the makers and you people are the takers’, there has to be some kind of soundtrack to that which says ‘fuck you’. I want to be part of that soundtrack,” stated Bondi.
Beme’s rap goes beyond the mere food/shit dichotomy. Beme’s “shit talk” is also music; the body is not a bank, but the music is rooted in the breath, the free improvisatory flow of words that are also tethered to the formalism of rhyme. Talk is ex-lax; rap betters the talking cure. It, too, is a work out that can make you less hungry. As a mural from the Oakland-based Community Rejuvenation Project suggests: there’d be less eating disorders and drug addictions if people were allowed to talk more, if word-jazz and singing were more acceptable. In this sense, Richard Berman is wrong: it’s harder to solve the obesity crisis by keeping your mouth closed. The extra energy you get from dieting has to go somewhere.
On the heels of a reissue of their sole album and a farewell series of shows, we talk with Norman Brannon, guitarist for the highly regarded band Texas Is The Reason, about their past and their present.