Please enjoy the comedy stylings of Murs & MacLean…note: in solidarity of the writers strike, this interview was not scripted. If anyone wants to buy the rights to this slam dunk of a TV show, inquire within…
Please enjoy the comedy stylings of Murs & MacLean…note: in solidarity of the writers strike, this interview was not scripted. If anyone wants to buy the rights to this slam dunk of a TV show, inquire within…
One of the perks of living in a high priced, high stress, high-octane city like LA or New York is The Warm Up Show. Often limited to friends and uber fans, or kept a secret until the last minute, the warm up show allows a bigger act to play in a small intimate setting and perform new material or just get the lead out of their rusty performance. As the summer ramps up for the onslaught of music festival mania, warm up shows start popping up in unexected places.
Last Saturday I joined Mia and her posse to head over to the Swinghouse party. Swinghouse Recording Studios throws these events once in a while which allows people to come down, have a few drinks and a few laughs and watch the bands that record and practice there either showcase or warm up for a tour.
The nice thing about Phil’s Swinghouse bashes is that they’re like a house party. The downer is that they are like a house party…whose address was posted on Facebook. Call me jadey, but there were way too many brown lipsticked lookieloos who were pushing their way in to see the bands, and triple fisting the free cocktails…if we were going to rate them on a groupie scale, well they would be the ones who eat all the steak. Getting trampled while trying to get an interview is so not filed under fun. And for what, valley girls? If you’re five inches closer is he really gonna sleep with you? Sigh, one of the hazards of an embedded music journalist.
I plowed my way to the middle of a small recording room for Electric Touch, a band I interviewed at Coachella. Far from a warm up show, ET weren’t exactly ‘cooling down’, though this was the finale of their week of LA dates. Their energetic poppy set which included covers of American Girl and Come Together. Now, it’s a rite of passage for a band to cover the Beatles, but I’m surprised by all the bands I’ve met lately that site Tom Petty as a big influence. It’s like the kids are finally listening to rock again. It’s encouraging to me, especially now that LA is drowning in robot music…and impressive, considering Petty’s rather disappointing Superbowl half time show.
As I sat on an amp and listened to Voxhaul Broadcast and Astra Heights, I spied Adam 12 making his way through the clammy crowd. She Wants Revenge practices at Swinghouse. And not only do they have a new EP about to drop on some very happy Suicide Girl heads, but they’re moments away from going out on the Nylon Tour. The secret guest revealed.
For a band that has over-inked girls with Sailor Moon haircuts losing their freaking minds, Adam is sweet and decidedly low key. His fedora belies his down to earth and thoughtful cadence. (No offense to a man who accessorizes – normally I applaud – but so many LA douche bags wear fedoras) It’s good to see Adam taking back the hat.
Anyhow, no matter how much Adam tried to find a quiet place to prep, the crowd seemed to swell his way.In fact, on a rather chilly night, the room was moist with the scent of humid human in the air. Sure, an intimate secret show is something many girls dream about, but if I get jostled and trampled by the Shes who want She Wants Revenge, then the music portion of the night becomes a casualty.
Mia and her lingerie modeling friend and I decided to slip out of the Soylent Green smelling studios and take off early. Not something I would have been caught dead doing in the past, but as a retired hipster, I often get home before last call. As we tried to exit, Mia’s friend took an exaggerated pause by the door and scanned the smokers in a last ditch effort. I noted to her that many of them couldn’t afford to take her for dinner, let alone pay for Plan B. She wrinkled her nose. For her, this warm up show was more like luke warm.
Speaking of Luke…I had been remiss in making it out to see Luke, play. He’d invited me several times but I work most nights (and days too). Now, I’m not an industry prick tease. So I don’t say I’ll show up and then flake. If I’m due to cover another show or I’m overwhelmed and exhausted, I say ‘I probably wont make it’ or ‘I’ll try but I don’t know if it’s gonna happen’.
Note: This is how all industry types should conduct themselves, no matter what industry they work in. I don’t want to get all miss rock n roll manners on your asses, but for fuck’s sake! If you say you’ll do something, do it. Don’t lie. Don’t flake. If you can’t or don’t want to, just excuse yourself from the event.
Why lie about it? It’s like the agent that used to promise to read my scripts just so he could try to cop a feel. We both knew that no matter how much of my c cups I let him juggle, he was never going to read past the title page. Damn, I probably would’ve let him juggle if he had just been honest.
Anyways, back to your regularly scheduled blog…
When Luke invited me to see his band Hot Hot Heat play at The Grove, I was willing to make the 45 minute drive to Anaheim. It’s a known truth that I don’t dance very often at clubs. Justice just doesn’t move me. But if you drop something from Make Up The Breakdown, I’ll be on the dance floor like a shot. But then Luke explained that it wasn’t the venue, The Grove in Anaheim. No. It was the Grove at Third and Fairfax. Hot Hot Heat was playing at a MALL. Yes, they’re poppy. Yes, Steve Bays is cute in a kitten way…but a MALL? That seems a purgatory reserved for the Ace Young idol rejects of the world, not a well to do indie rock band.
If you haven’t been to The Grove mall in Los Angeles, it can best be described as why Al Quaeda hates us. Not only does the mall feature a train trolley that gives rides to weary shoppers walking the 500 yard length of the mall, but in the middle of this Disney-Dali shopping experience, there is a six million dollar water fountain. Why did it cost six million dollars? I’m glad you asked. The fountain spurts water in time to the musak, which is a list of barely bearable songs like ‘That’s Amore’. Money well spent.
When I arrived, I noticed that they had constructed a bit stage…right over the water fountain. Because when you’re sending enough volts of energy to power a rock band with lots of amps, the best place to ground the entire stage is in a pool of water. Is the Grove trying to kill off Canadians one by one?
Surprisingly, the place wasn’t as much of a indie zoo as I thought. Though there were a lot of Gen-Wii, Forever 21 tweens buzzing with excitement. But a far cry form the tat queens at Swinghouse…though I couldn’t help thinking…were these little Hello Kitty Heat lovers the sweaty Swinghouse girls of tomorrow?
Finally, Luke sauntered out on stage with Dustin and Paul and Le Petit Prince himself, Steve Bays. Despite the crazy kiddie pool, the warm up show was relaxed and the guys looked like they were having a lot of fun. The aftermath of a mall show? Lots and lots of homemade cupcakes and hot pink and purple bags filled with fuzzy things piled in the green room. A nice juxtaposition to the rows of bottles of whisky and beer. Which made for much more colorful fun.
And at the end of the day, fun is what it’s supposed to be about. Los Angeles often treats music like a competitive sport, so it’s nice when a show is just a show. Ironing out the kinks, playing some songs and having fun…even if it is at a mall. With cupcakes.
Tis the season of the warm up show. Let the fun begin.
Hey Mr. DJ, put a record on…no really. I mean a fucking record. you know, those vinyl thingies that old timey people used to play?
While having dinner with Ian last night, the topic of dj culture came up. The electro, hose, nu-rave scene has burst like a serato pinata here in LA, and in NYC as well. Now, I’m always a champion for new music and creative outlets…but it seems to me there is a glut in the market. It’s like that Jack Black joke in the Tenacious D pilot, about aspiring musicians… (paraphrasing) “if you suck, and we ask you to stop, you must stop!” Lately I can’t walk into a bar without screaming FOR THE LOVE OF KRISHNA, PUT THE I POD DOWN!
It seems that with the nightly dance parties in heavy supply, anyone, and I do mean anyone, with a laptop and i tunes is now a DJ. So where does that leave the DJs who have been doing it for years? What does it mean to be a DJ? Is it style? Are you a DJ if you can scratch? Is it substance? Does being a DJ constitute having a good selection and crate digging your heart out? Or can you get by if you get the crowd to dance by playing Thriller and Justice off your Nano? And is it any great feat to get a bunch of kids cracked out on Sparks to sway and slam to a beat? Ugh.
Does a good music producer make for the best DJ? Or is it shiny stickers spelling out your name on the back of your laptop? I’m an on air radio DJ and I spin at some of the local clubs, in between bands. I spin mostly rock and punk, so I don’t get asked to be on the hipster club bills. Does this make me less of a DJ? OK, don’t answer that last question.
Ian mentioned that some of these club promoters/indie label owners/hipsters in American Apparel DJs, have their own booking agent. And big time bookers too. What makes someone pay thousands of dollars to have a specific DJ flown in for a party? Is it name recognition? Does a lot of website party photo ops constitute recognition? Or do you need to be seen walking the red carpet with the Good Charlotte boys? And why do some of these hipster dj duos think that they’re famous?
One unnamed duo, who have recently gotten a bit of local hype, claim that their fame is wearing on them. Heavy is the head that wears the black leather fedora. Woe is the electro boy in a Members Only jacket. Too much fame! How do they get up everyday and lace their free Puma kicks? Now I’m sure you couldn’t pick them out of a line up. Nor are they gracing the covers of any magazines. In fact, if you took them out of the insular LA/NYC scene, no one would know who they are. But they behave that their lazy re-mixes are an art form so great that they should be given the VIP treatment wherever they go. I smile as I wonder how long these ‘famous’ guys would last in a spin off versus someone like Pete Rock.
Which begs the question: Is DJing an art form? What does it take to make something art? By playing someone else’s music, are you then too a musician? How much do you have to change a piece of music to make it your own? How many seconds of a sample can you use in order to patchwork together a song? Is cutting together a track of samples any less artful than editing sound of instruments being played in a studio?
In my moonlighting as a clothing designer for Rock-N-Role, I take vintage cast offs, de-construct them and make them into something new. I consider that designing, but I’m sure the people at Parsons would consider it cheating or whatnot. One of my favorite artists, Banksy, often takes pre-existing works and adds his own cheeky flair. Is that not real art?
If you’re a DJ with your own album out, ala Junkie XL, or Cut Chemist, does that set you apart from the popular kids who speed up a Justice track and call it a new mix? Where does the line get drawn? I believe that the great Steinski is an artist the way he blends together bits and pieces of old movie quotes, Zapruder film audio and beats…but he can’t legally sell The Lessons. So sales and charting can’t be the only measure of a man (or woman).
Someone like Shadow, who can keep a crowd going and has a flair for ‘spinning plates’, certainly earns the respect and worship of many…but is his art form cheapened by an up and comer serato spinner in a hyphy crunk hoodie and neon wayfarers? Or is there room for both?
A lot of the old school dj/turntablists that I’ve interviewed are very careful not to slam serato. “It means I don’t have to carry 80 pounds worth of records on the airplane with me.” said one. But they do say that you can’t polish a turd; meaning if you kill on the decks with 45s, then you’ll be great with serato. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you will still suck. Technology can sink or swim you.
I personally give more respect to the record collectors, or ‘vinyl trekkies’ as Kid Koala calls them. Spending hours and hours at odd hours, digging through dusty crates connotes a certain commitment to the craft, as well as an obvious love for music and sense of musical history. But is any of that important when faced with 200 electro/emo hispters who ‘just wanna dance’? What do you play to those kids…what you like or what they want to hear? And whatever happened to street cred?
I’m just playing hipster’s advocate here, trying to get a discussion going…
…but it seems to me that a lot of these new DJs are in it for fashion…or perhaps because it pays better than working at Urban Outfitters and the hours and drugs are the perks they’re looking for. How many of the new DJS consider what they’re doing an actual craft or career, and how many are just in it to be pimped by Scion or Nylon. If we could send a camera crew to each of their homes, would we find them listening to music in their off hours? I mean really listening to music. Pushing their boundaries and searching for the next sample that will blow our minds.
Speaking of blowing minds, I couldn’t discuss the tables without including this from Kid Koala…he plays a record like it were a violin. And he spins without headphones! If this is an art form, Koala is masterful:
More interviews, more hot content, more Ali for your eyes to feast on.
A Tribe Called Quest:
The Pharcyde (part one of two):
Supernatural @ Rock The Bells Press Conference:
Flogging Molly (part one of five):
Hanging with DJ Zegon and Squeak E Clean at their studio:
Really? TMZ is considered a real news program? Well, now, we’ve already figured out that CNN, Fox and other “news” programs are heavy on the program part and are delighted if some news seeps in…but this is just horrendous.
Our nation is already teetering on the ridiculous. If TMZ is our source for news, I do believe the UN can rightfully “quit” us. Even if Bush tried to quit them first.
So where shall we go for our news? Most Americans already get their political fix from two COMEDY shows (Stewart and Colbert). Do we really need to allow TMZ more freedom and help them in the dumbing down of America?
Now I realize that I am considered by many to be in the infotainment biz…you may say that it’s the pot calling the kettle noir. But I do think of myself as smarter than the average bear. Which is why this story makes me nauseated. Where can one move to now, in order to secede from the United States of Tabloid Dummies?
If anyone knows, email me…I’m looking for an apartment there.
The Federal Communications Commission ruled that Telepictures Productions‘ syndicated magazine show, TMZ, can feature candidates for public office without automatically invoking the FCC rule that requires stations to offer up airtime to other candidates. But it warned that stations were still on the hook if an appearance was deemed to be for the purpose of advantaging one candidate over the other.
The FCC requires that any licensee that features a legally qualified candidate for public office on its air must offer the same opportunity to other candidates, but there is an exception for “bona fide” news programs.
The commission ruled in 1988 that Entertainment Tonight was such a program, and Telepictures sought the same ruling for its syndicated magazine show.
“Based on the record before us,” the FCC said, “we conclude that TMZ does qualify as a bona fide newscast because it reports news of some area of current events in a manner similar to more traditional newscasts. In addition, we have no evidence before us of bad faith or unreasonableness on the part of Telepictures.”
But the agency also pointed out that the stations, not Telepictures, are ultimately responsible for making the call as to whether a particular appearance by a candidate is news. “The licensees of the stations on which the subject program airs remain ultimately responsible for a determination to air a particular program and should not do so for the political advantage of a candidate for public office,” it added.
Telepictures assured the FCC that it made its calls on candidate appearances based on newsworthiness and not on any political agenda.
The FCC also ruled Friday that the news segments and interviews on Christian Broadcasting Network’s 700 Club — which airs on TV stations as well as ABC Family — are also a bona fide news program exempt from the equal opportunities rule.
That show is hosted by Pat Robertson, himself once a presidential candidate.
But the commission stopped short of declaring the entire program exempt. CBN had asked that the whole show be exempt, but absent that, it wanted the interviews and news segments to get the exemption. The FCC chose the latter.
MAY DAY! Weiland’s Pilots crash at Jimmy Kimmel
The mid nineties remind me of crazier days, when I had a two seater beater sports car that I drove way too fast. My friends and I wrote on our arms, riot grrrl style and picked fights with poor unsuspecting bimbos at clubs. I was doing stand up back then and moonlighting as a writer at MTV, when I could make it into the office sans hangover…you see, coming up the comedy ranks doesn’t pay well, unless you use the currency of drink tickets to your advantage; dinner was often dirty martinis with extra olives.
I was a complete maniac. A twister that even Bill Paxton would have trouble keeping down.
Back then everything seemed possible, yet it was cool to grouse about how reality bit and how some day everyone would be sorry when we had our own sit com.
Obviously things have drastically changed. Kurt is gone, Courtney went Hollywood, My Toyota bit the dust and well, I’m not drinking my dinner anymore. But since this is the day and age of the “Comeback tour” , The Re-union Tour” or the “I’m so completely fucked I’m going to dance with the stars or be watched by Big Brother, Reality Tour”. So if these guys can bring back the grunge, whether in Marc Jacobs jeans and flannels or in person, then I surely can have a couple too many. Right?
Backstage at Kimmel is always a freak show or Jackass parade. The green room is set up for debauchery with it’s free sushi and free booze, playstations, pool tables and hungry eyed groupies. I have the fortune of being friends with the writers, some old MTV/VH! pals, and the booker, Scott, so I can walk a couple blocks for a show every now and then. I don’t go that often now, unless I know the band, because frankly the crowd bums me out. That might sound like class A snobbery, but it’s just the plain truth. They’re not there for the music, they’re there to touch the band or push something on them. Hell, if I’m being completely honest, sometimes I’m there for the sushi, but I digress.
Tonight the crowd could be distinctively divided into two camps. The “Dude! STP! Sweet!” camp and the “P. Diddy in the hizzouse!” camp. It was like the jets and the sharks on ABC turf. Wildly entertaining. Though the only people who were in danger of getting cut were those who stood in the way of the food table as ravenous post grungites descended upon it like zombies on a naked co-ed.
The crowd got restless as P. puffy diddy combsey sat for two or three interview segments. He fascinates me for only one reason: the man has successfully infiltrated the music, fashion, movie and vodka industries and is worth more than Midas, but still sounds like he has to prove himself. Every interview I see him do, his bravado swagger sounds more like begging to be part of the cool crowd. It’s like a pop psychology playground, getting in that ego and playing around in all the dark corners that seep out as he promotes his latest dvd/cd/clothing line/distillery. A true example of success NEVER BEING ENOUGH if you don’t love yourself. Diddy, you now have a star on the walk of fame. I know you want an Oscar. Then what? When can you rest? When can you just take a moment and say, “That’ll do, Puffy.” True, you’d be talking about yourself in the third person, but you seem to be comfortable with that anyways.
My friend and I joined the fray when the rental gaurds cleared the green room guests to walk outside. Security is very tight in the green room. However, outside one could disembowel a few toddlers and it’s all good. As the grunge natives and 909ers milled about outside, finally the reunited STP took the stage.
Now, I was more of a Pixies fan, Radiohead fan, Nirvana and Soundgarden fan back in the day. But it amazes me how I knew all the words to all of their songs. You can chalk that up to a steady diet of KROQ back in the day (my car tape deck was often broken) or perhaps I’m a true Pilot fan deep underneath…I think it’s the former. But watching skinny Scott Weiland, dressed like a Bret Easton Ellis Less Tan Zero casualty, slither around with a Jagger finger waghere and there combined with a weird Travolta shuffle, and it took me right back to that time when the true essence of my posse was “I drink, therefore I am.”
The brothers looked ecstatic to be back onstage playing their songs. And the crowd was going nuts…as for Scott? Scott looked like a man who was on a binge before he was headed back to prison. Yes, before he goes on his big reunion world tour, Scott is spending a few weeks in the slammer.
I honestly think that might be the best thing for him. With hundred of thousands of people screaming his name and dozens of enablers ready to help him wallow in excess, a few weeks of solace might just be the thing that keeps him alive on this tour.
After an encore, the band joined hands and bowed before the crowd as chants of STP rang out through the Hollywood air. Then the band lef tthe stage…errr, most of the band. Scottie just stood there, smoking a cigarette. The crew wasn’t sure what to do. ‘Can we strike the set with a rock star still standing on it?’ The band looked back at their lead singer and a bit of panic rose in their eyes…what is he going to do? How will this be spun on TMZ or Blender.com tomorrow?
Scott just gazed out at the crowd, almost like we were the act of the night and he was the sole audience member. Maybe he wanted to get a good look at all the faces he;s been missing over the years…or maybe one of the pills just had kicked in…
Finally he wandered off stage, as one would after being spun around on a tire swing at the park. Immediately the guards went in lock down mode and all of us vip wristbanded guests were turned away at the green room door. “The Green Room is closed for the night!” an overzealous guard yelled. The subtext scrawled under his thought bubble “So the publicists can get the band in a secure location and start spinning this shit into a golden yarn of rock god proportions.”
Yeah, he was pretty fucked up.
If I come off as a teetotaler wimp, don’t write me off yet. I had three glasses of something containing alcohol and the effects will wear on my immune system for days. Every headache and every grouchy phrase I utter will bring me back to my days as a riot grrl wild child and will ultimately make me think “Jesus, I hope Scott Weiland is going to be ok.”