Insanely nasty, metal-infused drums meet inspiration from Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, John Coltrane, and Jimi Hendrix?? WTF, right? Well, in the case of Zach Hill of Hella, that is no fairy tale, nor is it something out of the ordinary in the strange world henceforth known as Astrological Straits. Hill’s debut as a composer/artistic director somehow puts into the rhythmic beats and patterns of a kit what cannot be expressed with actual notes — or, um, words…
The album compiles who’s who of jaw-droppers including Primus’ Les Claypool, visionary guitarist Marnie Stern, Team Sleep/Deftones’ Chino Moreno, and Hill’s Hella bandmates Carson McWhirter and Josh Hill, just to name a FEW. What’s more, you ask? Well! If the avant garde, crazy, offbeat rhythms don’t collapse your skull in confusion, then they’ll certainly impress. The imprint left from Coltrane, Miles, and co. can be seen in the memorable riffs filling the space between those awesome beats Hill plays as well.
For a knee buckling, goosepimple forming, hair raising experience, we’ve conveniently included a sample from the release, which is out on August 12th, titled “Dark Art.” Properly named, might we add.
It’s taken six years, a couple trillion EPs and more than afewfalse starts, but Detroit indie pop provocateurs PAS/CAL are finally releasing their endlessly-anticipated full-length, I Was Raised on Matthew, Mark, Luke & Laura — July 15th at iTunes, everywhere else on July 22nd. Recently the Rind caught up with P/C impresario Casimir Pascal to get the skinny on the new record, soundtracking commercials, and superhero pseudonyms.
What is your creative process, with the band not all being located in the same city?
For IWROMML&L, beyond a couple of the songs in the Cherry suite, I wrote the bulk of the tracks locked up & alone in my lil’ private studio. Songs tend to begin by a string of words that are often tethered to a melody which happen to pop up when I least expect it—sometimes I’ll be in a bakery grabbing Syrian bread or perhaps in the midst of a good shampoo. I’ll try to rush home or leave a voicemail for myself so that I do not lose the lil’ bit of something that came to me. From there it is like an exhaustive trip with a guide that gives few hints to what is coming around the corner. I’ll sit at the piano or with an acoustic guitar and see where the song wants to go. The lyrics, melodies, and chord progressions are written hand-in-hand, each contingent on the other. I think this why my tracks don’t typically follow the verse-chorus-verse-chorus tradition. Furthermore, the songs are composed over a goodly span of time—often months versus hours or days; this process is definitely the culprit in terms of my meandering arrangements. I tried the “template method”, but I am never happy with the results. I spent a bunch of time transcribing the song structures of Bowie, the Beatles, Prince, Broadcast, Gainsbourg, Smiths, et cetera and attempted songs based on their style. What a waste of time! This may sound a bit “wizards & unicorns”, but I believe in personal muses… and the trick is getting yourself to a place in which you are open to hearing what they are trying to tell you. They speak rather softly, y’know…
You wrote all these short EPs – was filling up a full length an issue at all? Or were you just as comfortable?
Song collections (EPs & LPs) are fine, but I only write one track at a time. In some way I am happy that the the Album of the late 60s to late 90s is a dead way to package an artist. I love the idea of writing, recording, producing a song and immediately giving it to the world, only to jump back in the studio to give them another. The concept that one needs to wait until he has a dozen or so songs before he debuts his music is as old & tired as most music journo’s In Utero tees.
What’s the deal with Suite Cherry? It’s our favorite part of the record. Where did the theme come from?
Munch said that when he painted he never thought of selling. I agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly, but times have been hard in Motown since we can’t seem to figure out how to sell (or make) cars like we used to. We’re all finding ourselves disheveling sofas looking for loose change nowadays. Thus when a certain innertube-shaped candy company called saying they needed a theme song for the launch of their new cherry flavored product we all scattered to three separate recording camps with the hopes of tripling our chances at earning some lifesaving green. Of course none of the tracks were used nor were any of them probably appropriate for the spot, but they all did have the word ‘cherry’ somewhere on their lyric sheet and more importantly I thought each were exceedingly great. A suite is born: Gene and his wife head up the first movement, Trevor Naud’s brooding baritone carries the insatiable second part, and I hold up the rear with a synthetically orchestrated ode to aging with the one you love.
Chad Crouch has been making instrumental music (and giving it away gratis — more on that later) under the Podington Bear moniker for about a year and half, and up until last week, no one even knew the identity of the Ursus Mysteriosis. He’s always preferred to have the “man” stay on the sidelines while the “bear” creates his dreamy electronic gems, but thanks to a Gracenote CDDB error, Crouch’s name came up in the composer field when users imported his brilliant latest volume, The End, into their iTunes libraries. This won’t change the prolific Portlandian’s work, however, as he mentioned in a statement on his website, “I’m going to keep making instrumental music. It will still be attributed to Podington Bear. I won’t start plastering my face on record covers and stuff.” So there we have it, my friends. Don’t fret, because the bear is not going anywhere.
And now for the back-story…
At the end of 2006, Podington Bear had been composing music for three years, using nothing but his self-described “golden triangle” of a laptop, keyboard, and headphones, when he was struck with the feeling that he needed to start releasing these songs to the public. It was then that he came up with his brilliant idea (gimmick?) to develop a podcast in which he would deliver a new song to his listeners every other weekday for an entire year. If you’re slow with the maths, that comes to 156 songs. He only had a fraction of these finished at the time, but come January 31st, 2007, the first 14 songs were up in a podcast “album” called Meet Podington Bear. From then on, there was a new song posted every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, until the last one hit the internets just a couple of weeks ago, on June 24th. Why a Tuesday, you ask? Because that was the release date for The End.
Now that the 156-song series is over, without a moment’s hibernation, the bear has started a new podcast called Sound of Picture, in which he posts a picture and writes a short instrumental soundtrack to go along with it. It seems that we’ll continue to hear from the prolific Podington Bear for a long time, and that’s just fine with The Rind!
Mark your calendars! Alert the masses! This Friday, July 11th, Squeak E. Clean (a.k.a. Sam Spiegel) will host the second of his three SUDS Parties of 2008, and with a lineup including Switch (M.I.A., Santogold), Tittsworth (Justice, Kanye West), and DJ Pubes (Dance Right), who would miss it? Best of all? It’s FREE, as long as you RSVP (and you’re 21).
Okay, so now that you’ve gotten this fantastic information and are still on your feet (hopefully?), you’d better take a seat. There will also be free drinks provided by Dewar’s, a skating exhibition by the Girl Skateboard team, a mobile hair salon, live screen printing, and bubbles…a whole lot of bubbles. It is a SUDS party, isn’t it? Squeak and co will also be playing in the adiCUP soccer tournament on the 12th with the likes of Dim Mak, MTV, and the Robbie Williams’ heralded LA Vale teams. Food, drinks, prizes, you name it! Be sure to check them out-Squeak has put these things on in laundromats and car washes before, and will stop at nothing to entertain, so why not enjoy? It’s all leading up to the release of his NASA LP, currently under works in NYC. So much going on for this fresh jack of all trades!
Lastly, SUDS party #3 will be following shortly after on July 25th, also in CA, so don’t miss out on that one either. So much to do, so little time. Busy, busy!
Amy Ray fans unite! It’s time to launch this punk rockin’ Indigo Girl‘s kyte — and no, we don’t mean those diamond shaped hallmarks of youth. We’re talking about her KyteTV channel — an online TV station for AR fans both old and new, and a celebratory gesture on behalf of her upcoming solo release, Didn’t It Feel Kinder, due August 5th.
So what does all this mean? Simple. Get ready for tons of behind the scenes footage, live performances, dispatches from stops on the Indigo Girls US tour, and some intimate tourmate-assisted stuff with the likes of Brandi Carlile! Make sure to keep a tenacious eye out for some live chat sessions with fans, and a very special interview conducted by the other half of the Indigo Girls, Emily Saliers, coming to the channel in the near future. What’s more, starting 10 days before the release of Didn’t It Feel Kinder, Amy will perform a track each day in an almost intrusively-intimate setting!
Embed Amy Ray TV on your blog or social networking page to show off all the schnazy content coming its way, and while you’re at it, why not open your ears to “Blame Is A Killer” from the new album?