Interviews

Elway

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Photo by Katie Hovland

We caught up with Elway last fall after they played Riot Fest Chicago. We spoke with three of their four members, (singer/guitarist Tim Browne, guitarist Brian Van Proyen and drummer Garrett Carr). Bassist Joe Henderer unfortunately could not be present. We discussed the band’s latest album for Red Scare Industries, Better Whenever, including how it was written and the manner in which it was recorded. The record finds Elway experimenting with new songwriting techniques, while at the same time penning lyrics that represent some of the most personal they’ve written to date. We talked with Browne extensively about the reasons for this, as well as the band’s new outlook moving forward and more. Click here to view…

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Interviews

Meat Wave

Photo by Katie Hovland

This fall, Meat Wave released their second album and first for Side One Dummy, entitled Delusion Moon. We recently spoke with singer/guitarist Chris Sutter and talked about what writing and recording the record was like, as well as what some of its songs are about. We also discussed the album’s cover art, some of the band’s recent tours and their plans for next year. Don’t forget to check out Meat Wave when they play Ian’s Party on Sunday, January 3rd at Double Door. Click here to view…

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Ian’s Party 2016

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Poster art by Frank Okay

The ninth annual Ian’s Party is scheduled to take place this January 1st through the 3rd, at Double Door, Subterranean and the Chop Shop. The event began in Elgin and moved to Logan Square in 2011, but this year has shifted to Wicker Park in hopes of creating more of a festival feel with the venues located so closely together. This year’s lineup is nothing if not eclectic, with genres ranging from pop punk to folk to electronic. A majority of the scheduled bands are also Chicago-based. The shows are 17+ and three-day passes can be purchased here for the only $25, but the price will increase to $30. Single-day passes are available on all venue sites for $12 or they’ll cost $15 at the door. Friday will feature sets from The Brokedowns, Prizzy Prizzy Please, Drilling for Blasting, Truman and His Trophy, Rad Payoff and approximately 15 other bands. Saturday will host Absolutely Not, Vacation Bible School, Sass Dragons, Dethwarrant, Al Scorch, Canadian Rifle, Elephant Gun and over a dozen more. Sunday concludes with Panda Riot, The Howl, Sweet Cobra, Brickfight, The Mons, Mean Sean and many additional acts, including local favorites Meat Wave. Half Acre Beer Company is sponsoring the entire event, which promises to maintain its party-like atmosphere while simultaneously showcasing some of the most exciting bands in Chicago’s underground. Check out some of the tracks below for a sample of what to expect this year.

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Interviews

Red Fang

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Portland’s Red Fang turned ten this year and with three acclaimed studio albums and an ever-growing international army of devotees, the band has no plans to slow down. Though a cursory listen would put them in the metal category, their fan base expands far beyond metal. Their particular brand of heavy music is a unique distillation of thrash, sludge, pop and punk. Their music itself is very serious, but yet they’ve managed not to alienate the purists with their humorous sensibilities, e.g. releasing a video featuring the band saving the world’s beer supply from rabid, drunken zombies. While their antics have made the band mildly divisive to some, Red Fang overwhelmingly wins in the end. The heaviness stops with the music – no tough-guy bullshit and no silly metal posturing. It’s a victorious concoction of pilsner, black t-shirts, laughs and riffs. I was fortunate enough to sit down with Dave Sullivan, (guitar) and John Sherman, (drums) to chat about these things, as well as the tropes of genre terminology, how to conduct yourself on tour and more. Three dudes and three tall-boys later, this is what resulted. Click here to view…

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Turnspit – “Lamplighters”

Chicago’s Turnspit formed in 2014 and features singer/guitarist Jason Douglass Swearingen, (Love & Squalor) singer/guitarist Gillian McGhee, bassist Jason Duarte and drummer Dan Tinkler, (Dog & Wolf). Despite only having played a handful of shows, the band is set to open for The Lawrence Arms at Double Door on Friday, December 11th. The night will also serve as a record release show for Turnspit’s debut EP, I Wonder If They’re Happy. It was recorded by their drummer at both Atlas Studios and in his home. Check out a song from the EP below called “Lamplighters” and for those attending the sold-out show on 12/11, plan on getting there early to catch this new and emerging act.

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Interviews

Wrekmeister Harmonies

Photos by Katie Hovland

Photo of J.R. Robinson by Katie Hovland

Meeting in a quiet diner in the heart of Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood was the perfect setup for an interview with J.R. Robinson. It’s here that the sound composer behind the experimental drone project known as Wrekmeister Harmonies has lived and worked for a number of years, often flitting under the radar and spending a lot of late nights creating the epically winding and dramatic opuses that have become his trademark.

His latest, and arguably best, is called “Night Of Your Ascension,” comprised of the 30-plus-minute title track and another shorter piece, “Run Priest Run,” that are respectively inspired by the lives of 16th century musician and murderer Don Carlo Gesualdo and disgraced priest Father John Geoghan, one of the most significant perpetrators in the sex abuse scandals that plagued the Catholic Church the last two decades. Musically, both characteristically feature a combination of peaceful choirs and graceful string sections that quickly degrade into guttural howls, crashing cymbals and assaultive guitars. An assembly of 30 musicians collectively helped Robinson bring the album to life—a list that includes members of Einstürzende Neubauten, The Body, Indian, Bloodiest, Cave and Come, as well as harpist Mary Lattimore and indie folk singer Marissa Nadler.

There’s reason why folks like these—and members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor who will be featured in an upcoming project as he explains below—flock to Robinson. He’s a musician’s musician, a guy who scouts for talent at choral concerts, blurs the line between classical symphonies and contemporary metal and records in crematoriums for effect. Yet he’s also multilateral, a visual thinker able to see the full picture (with short films that often accompany live performances) and a storyteller who makes you understand the narrative woven into his score without ever uttering a word (his music for the most part is lyric-less).

Though the first two Wrekmeister Harmonies releases—2013’s “You’ve Always Meant So Much To Me” and 2014’s “Then It All Came Down”—were impressive starts, it is perhaps “Night Of Your Ascension” where Robinson solidifies himself as an auteur. It was released though Thrill Jockey on November 13th, Friday the 13th to be exact, which is perhaps more coincidental for being the same day as the national release of the film “Spotlight,” which follows the Boston Globe’s exhaustive coverage of disgraced priests like Geoghan, and also the same the day Robinson finally checks out of Chicago and picks up the next part of his journey due West where everything eventually sets. Click here to view…

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Interviews

Dillinger Four

D4

Photo by Katie Hovland

Last month, Dillinger Four played the Double Door as part of a brief tour commemorating their 21st anniversary as a band. After the string of shows wrapped up, we talked with singer/bassist Patrick “Paddy” Costello about how everything went. We also discussed the band’s history, including some of the more noteworthy shows they’ve played in Chicago over the years. In addition, we conversed about D4’s most recent album, Civil War, and Costello touched on some of what they have planned for next year, which involves releasing new material and more touring.

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The Bollweevils – “Honesty Isn’t So Simple”

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In August of this year, The Bollweevils released a new 7” via Underground Communiqué, entitled Attack Scene. It marks the band’s first new material in 17 years. Containing two tracks in total, the 7” was recorded at Million Yen Studios by Jeff Dean and was mastered at Azimuth Mastering by Bill Henderson. The cover art was done by Wade Marks and the record is available on clear blue or black vinyl. When asked how it feels to be releasing new music for the first time in many years, singer Daryl Wilson explained “Damn it’s been too long! It’s exciting! Love the new songs and we are totally excited to get the other new songs recorded and released. We have gotten so much better with the passage of time and are having a blast doing what we do. It’s the best feeling seeing something we created come together and have the opportunity to share that creation with others. Especially if those people like it as much as we do.” Combining the melody of their Stick Your Neck Out! LP with the aggression and hardcore tendencies of Heavyweight, these songs find the band sounding invigorated and developing upon the sound in which they’re known for.

We’re streaming the record’s first song below, “Honesty Isn’t So Simple,” and asked Wilson what inspired its lyrics. He said, “Everyone has aspects of themselves that they never reveal. It’s really hard to be completely honest and show vulnerability to other people. If you show your hand you fear that it’s not always reciprocated. All we want in life is to trust others but it’s pretty hard to do that sometimes.” While the subject matter is fairly serious, the band definitely shows their humorous side on Attack Scene’s other track, “The Bollweevils Anthem.” Take a listen to “Honesty Isn’t So Simple” below and purchase the record here.

Also, this Thursday, 11/05, The Bollweevils are playing at 1st Ward, (2033 W. North Ave.) with Break Anchor, Union 13 and The Mizzerables. The show starts at 8:00 PM, is 18+ and costs $10. Tickets for the event can be obtained here.

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Features

Riot Fest, 2015

For its inaugural year in Douglas Park, Riot Fest continued to grow and expand, while still retaining its formula of legacy acts mixed with eclectic and emerging artists. Despite the change of location, Riot Fest felt right at home in its new digs, taking advantage of an open layout that made for easy navigation from one stage to another. There was a little rain and a fair amount of mud, but those that weren’t deterred by the elements were treated to a surplus of memorable sets from a genuinely diverse collection of bands. We recapped some of our favorite moments and observations from what was an eventful, action-packed weekend. Written by Jamie Ludwig, (JL) and Bill Denker, (BD). Photos by Katie Hovland.

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Ribbonhead – Animals

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Local band Ribbonhead is set to release its new EP Animals on 10/14 through Bandcamp and on cassette. The EP was engineered by Nick Biscardi at Flashpoint Studios, while the band handled mixing duties and Bill Henderson of Azimuth mastered the record. Writing and playing out since mid-2014, Ribbonhead consists of Josh Glass, (guitar/vocals) Lee Zickwolf, (bass/vocals) and John Sant, (drums). The Bandcamp release will be immediately available on 10/14, with the tape release that includes an exclusive track following shortly. They’ll be hitting Liar’s Club at 9:00 PM tonight, 10/12, alongside Honah LeeBeat the Smart Kids, and Butchered.

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Dog & Wolf – Filler for the Vacancies

On Sunday, October 11th, Chicago’s Dog & Wolf will self-release their debut album, called Filler for the Vacancies. Formed in 2012, the band consists of Kyle Geib, (guitar/vocals) Nick Arvanitis, (bass/vocals) and Dan Tinkler, (drums). The LP was recorded at Atlas Studios by Matt Jordan and mastered at Boiler Room Mastering by Collin Jordan. Coinciding with the record’s release, Dog & Wolf is playing a show at Fireside Bowl on the same day. The event is part of Phantom Note Production’s Phantom Fest and the lineup that evening includes Sincere Engineer, Turnspit, Mean Sean and Dowsing. Filler for the Vacancies will be available on CD at the show or it can be obtained digitally via the band’s Bandcamp page. Dog & Wolf will also be touring later this month in support of the album, including a stop at The Fest in Gainesville, FL. Check out an exclusive stream of the entire record below.

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Interviews

PEARS

Photo by Katie Hovland

Photo by Katie Hovland

After forming in early 2014, New Orleans’ PEARS wasted little time writing and recording their debut LP, Go to Prison. Soon after, they caught the attention of Off With Their Heads singer/guitarist Ryan Young, who subsequently released the album on vinyl via his label, Anxious and Angry. Extensive touring followed and in July of this year, Fat Wreck Chords re-released Go to Prison. We caught up with guitarist/singer Brian Pretus after the band’s recent performance at Riot Fest Chicago at talked about how PEARS got its start. We also discussed their unique sound, which combines aggressive hardcore/punk, chaotic yet detailed songwriting and a hint of melody. Our conversation also touched on the band’s forthcoming second album, which is due out early next year, and more. Click here to view…

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