The Maine talk new album, 8123 records, future plans

By Rachel A.G. Gilman

Via Rachel A.G. Gilman for WSN

Via Rachel A.G. Gilman for WSN

Before The Maine played Gramercy Theatre on Oct. 23, a show that is a part of The Maine’s tour, which is a final farewell to their 2013 album, “Forever Halloween,” front man John O’Callaghan, clad in all black with his bleached-blonde hair tied in a bun, and guitarist Jared Monaco, dressed in denim, took the time to sit down with WSN.

Earlier, The Maine spent their summer on the Vans’ Warped Tour, five years after first headlining. The big difference was the band didn’t get “hung up on the politics of what the tour is and what the tour can contain,” O’Callaghan said.

Monaco added, “Just like any other scenario with a bunch of different people in one place, you can position yourself to have a great time.” The band did and was able to both make and keep friends.

On playing New York, O’Callaghan said, “I’ve grown to really, really enjoy the city.”

He continued, “When we started out it was really stressful, parking and getting acclimated…now, I love this place.”

Monaco noted that despite having played “twenty plus” shows in New York, he’s never really been able to play tourist.

Though The Maine have enjoyed their journey over the past 16 months promoting “Forever Halloween,” they’re ready to begin again.

“I think each album that we’ve created and promoted and then moved on from has been kind of the same,” O’Callaghan said.

“You get to a zone where it’s kind of comfortable and it feels …warm… it’s the anxiety of the future and the unknown and the uncertainty of what’s to come, [it] kind of makes you want to hold onto what you have at the moment as tightly as possible…We’re very anxious to get into the studio. You go through a crisis of, ‘how did I write those songs and how am I going to write new songs’ and we’re at that point right now.”

Monaco said his favorite part of the process is “getting to know what [their] album feels like on stage.”

“We have a month in a house that we rented in Palm Springs,” O’Callaghan explained, concerning what’s next for The Maine.

“I think what’s different about this [record] is that people will be aware that we’re in the studio…We’re really going to take our time…and make sure that it’s exactly what we want to put out…a sound that we’re comfortable with.”

As to what that is, O’Callaghan added they want “to convey and portray an idea of optimism and positivity with the new stuff, [something] less ominous, less dark.”

This will be The Maine’s third project with 8123 records. “What’s special about the dynamic at 8123,” O’Callghan said, “is that we have room for spontaneity…we can record a song with anybody and turn around and put it up online once it’s finished.”

Before heading back into the studio, The Maine will be playing a Halloween show in Chicago where they’ll be dressing up. “It’s a fun show to goof off on. It’s fun to be a kid because we’re all kids,” O’Callaghan said. “It should be a great time.”

Rachel A.G. Gilman is a staff writer. Email her at music@nyunews.com

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Parlour Tricks discuss music, future plans during CMJ

By Matthew Mahoney

Via Big Picture Media

Via Big Picture Media

Parlour Tricks, who have gone by Lily and the Parlour Tricks previously, sat down with WSN during their time at CMJ’s Artist and Press Lounge. The entire sextet, which is currently based in New York City and creates catchy indie-pop songs, could not be in attendance, but front woman Lily Claire and bassist Brian Kesley were able to chat about their music and plans for the future.

WSN: What is the meaning behind your name?

LC: The name is just something, when we started the band, was a phrase that I always liked and the connotations. I liked the idea that people would get together in a home and entertain each other, which is really what the six of us do together. And, it’s fun to say and other people can interpret it how they want to.

WSN: What has changed since the formation of the band in the two years you all have been performing together?

LC: Everything — except the personnel! We’ve gone through a big evolution, revolution… The music has evolved and the way that we perform has also changed. We did a huge renovation very naturally. We started working with a producer that we love and we’ve grown up.

WSN: So you guys are currently working with Emery Dobyns in Nashville, how is that process going?

LC: It’s fabulous.

BK: We’re pretty much done.

LC: The last two singles we released, “Requiem” and “Lovesongs,” were from that batch of recordings, and we have a bunch of other songs that we’re going to release in one fashion or another. We’re really enjoying releasing singles right now, which has a nice pace to it, but definitely a larger release, probably an EP in 2015.

WSN: How does your songwriting process work?

LC: I write the skeletons of these songs. I either start with a phrase, both melody and the lyrics, or the bass line. And then I get it as far as I want to or can, sometimes. But I get the basic form of the song down and the three part harmonies are always done. That’s a part that always has to be concrete, and then together we flesh it out and make the arrangements the way that they are.

WSN: You guys have three songs out at the moment; “Lovesongs,” “Requiem,” and “Belle Gunness.” What’s the meaning/inspiration behind these songs?

LC: “Belle Gunness” is about a 19th century murderess who lived in the Midwest, who would put an ad in the paper, like a lonely hearts ad, looking for a husband because she had a lot of land and money. She was not an attractive woman, but it didn’t matter. And she would ostensibly lure men to her house and then they would disappear and they were never heard from again.

BK: And she would make people bring proof of their wealth. They would show up with deeds and cash and whatever else was used to prove that they were also wealthy,

LC: So then they would marry and then inherit all of their wealth…

BK: Because she would kill them.

LC: And her house burnt down, but her body was never found, so they don’t actually know what happened to her. And she had a groundskeeper on her farm, and he was in love with her, and he would help her marry all of her victims, so the song is from his perspective and is therefore a love song…the other two… “Lovesongs” is about love songs, it’s just about listening to love songs and that feeling you get after, and “Requiem” is that frustrated relationship feeling where you’re not getting what you want, and you triumphantly say goodbye. So I’d say it’s a positive break-up song.

WSN: Why should people pay attention to the Parlour Tricks?

LC: Because we’re so nice.

BK: We’re really nice — we don’t mean any harm,

LC: I meant it’s why not really?

BK:  You’ve got nothing to lose.

Matthew Mahoney is a staff writer. Email him at music@nyunews.com

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Ellis Ludwig-Leone, founder of San Fermin, talks Skirball ballet, CMJ

By E.R. Pulgar

Via E.R. Pulgar for WSN

Via E.R. Pulgar for WSN

Ellis Ludwig-Leone, San Fermin’s founder and keyboardist, sat down with WSN before his band’s show at Webster Hall to talk about his anxieties, his new ballet at the Skirball Center, the band’s new lead singer, and being a part of CMJ.

WSN: How does it feel to be a part of the CMJ Music Marathon?

ELL: It’s cool! I have actually never been to a CMJ show until this year. Everyone has always talked about it, but I have never been part of it and it’s pretty crazy. Last night, we did, like, a surprise thing at Brooklyn Bowl and it was an electric atmosphere.

WSN: How did you get your start in music?

ELL: I played the piano when I was a kid. And I had a band with Allen [Tate], who’s our lead singer and an NYU alum.

WSN: Really? What school?

ELL: He was general arts and sciences, I think? Yes! That’s what he was in! He was on the basketball team for all four years of college. We had a bunch of bands during college that were all pretty whack, and then started this band afterwards. I studied classical music at Yale, he was doing philosophy at NYU and we were on separate paths until we got back on track after we graduated.

WSN: Can you talk to us about Rae Cassidy?

ELL: We recorded with the girls from Lucius but couldn’t tour with them once we got signed. We had to find a lead singer; Rae toured with us for about eight months and then she moved to Milwaukee to pursue her own music and we introduced Charlene Kay.

WSN: How is she adjusting?

ELL: We love her! She’s been like a fish in water, a really easy transition where it feels like she understands what the music is about and wants to be a part of it. As someone who is writing, that’s all you can ask for.

WSN: What does it feel like being onstage and hearing the crowd scream back lyrics you wrote?

ELL: It’s very cool. You’re very aware of how the crowd is feeling, but you’re also aware of how people on stage seem to be feeling. When I really have the most fun is when everyone onstage is just locked in together and we all have the same mindset. You feel like you’re part of a team, which is something I haven’t felt since I played sports as a kid, so it’s kind of a cool thing.

WSN: Are you working on any new stuff?

ELL: I actually have three ballets going up at the Skirball Center in a week with this group called BalletCollective, called “All That We See.”

WSN: On the subject of new stuff, what are your biggest inspirations?

ELL: I think anxieties. For me, you write because you find yourself obsessing on certain things. I also like listening to other music; I feel like when I hear something really cool, I always want to try to do something that’s as cool. Hearing another band you just want to get out there and do something yourself. You’re part of that dialogue, I guess.

WSN: Do you have any closing remarks for our readers?

ELL: Come to the ballets! It’ll be fun. At the Skirball Center, on the 29th and 30th. And Allen Tate, I’m sure if he was here, he would say go Violets! That’s what you guys are right?

WSN: Yeah, the Violets.

ELL: Go Violets!

E.R. Pulgar is a staff writer. Email him at music@nyunews.com

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Haerts exhibit promise at former CBGB venue, 313 Bowery

By Francesco Zenati

Via CMJ.com

313 Bowery, former home of Morrison Hotel Gallery and RIFF boutique, became a Patagonia store over the winter. However, the basement of the location is now, what Zach Baron from the Village Voice calls, a “semi-secret ‘Never Open to the Public Performance’ space underneath the old CBGB.” Both Fader and CMJ have both recently held private events in the location.

On Oct. 27, Haerts had their album release show in the old CBGB basement. It was a treat to be able to experience the band’s new album, as well as the location. The invite read, “Please bring a flower for admittance.”

The stairs leading down to the basement were decorated with wilted branches that one had to brush by to pass; they seemed to welcome rather than ward off: a quirk akin to a doorknob that always steals loose threads from your sweater. The basement was organized lengthwise, that is, the stage was at the end of a lengthy, but tight hall. There were dried roses hanging upside down from the beams on the ceiling and more wilted branches encircling structures in the middle of the basement (presumably, structures of support rather than decoration).

Besides certain technical difficulties, Haerts made a very promising display of their sophomore release and first full-length studio album — they released their EP “Hemiplegia” in Fall 2013 — “HAERTS.”

They executed the synth-pop sound very faithfully, but Nini Fabi’s gritty, almost country, voice added a quality that, along with Garrett Lenner’s 12-string guitar, made the group’s sound unique in a genre that prides itself on similitude. Fabi would call collaborators onstage to share in her joy admitting, “the [rest of the band is] so nervous!”

There seemed to be a very loving atmosphere between the band, those involved in the album production, and friends. Fabi, near the end of the set, revealed the secret of the flowers, which was for people to leave their flowers and take someone else’s “as a memory of the night.”

Haerts will be playing Terminal 5 on Nov. 19, to kickoff a nationwide tour.

Francesco Zenati is a staff writer. Email him at music@nyunews.com

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Hump Day Update: October 29, 2014

By Rachel A.G. Gilman

via Wikipedia

via Wikipedia

Welcome to Hump Day Update, the place to find out everything you need to know about what’s been going on in the entertainment world for the week. I’m Rachel A.G. Gilman. But enough about me, let’s get to the news.

For the first time since publicly making up this summer, Drake and Chris Brown will work together, joining Lil Wayne on Nicki Minaj’s new single, “Only.” Lots of people are questioning what the new single will sound like, but I’m more curious about whether or not Drake and Brown will let another big-bootied lady come between them.

Jim Carey hosted “SNL” this week where he not only tried to make sense of Matthew McConaughey’s Lincoln commercials, but also performed a terrific rendition of twelve-year-old Maddie Ziegler’s dance in Sia’s music video, “Chandelier.” This qualifies Ziegler as the coolest pre-tween of the week. However, her peers probably aren’t allowed to stay up and watch SNL, so they probably don’t get it.

Katy Perry turned thirty this week. Her only birthday wish was for her name to appear on the marquee of a pizza place on Santa Monica Boulevard. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but since Perry’s party consisted of watching fire dancers in Morocco before flying her friends to Paris, I guess she had to think of something to ask for that money couldn’t buy.

Taylor Swift gave Perry a present in her own way with the release of her new album, “1989” this week. The song “Bad Blood” is reportedly about the superstars’ ongoing feud. But, hey, I don’t think Perry should take any of this to heart. After all, isn’t it sort of a rite of passage in Hollywood to have Taylor Swift write a song about you?

ABC cancelled their new romantic comedy, “Manhattan Love Story,” earlier this week due to low ratings. I’m bummed out—not because the show was fantastic, but because they’ve yet to air the episode they shot around Washington Square Park where I’m pretty sure I made it into the background.

Jack Antonoff of fun. released a new music video for “Rollercoaster,” a song with his side project, Bleachers. In the video, the band performs on top of a moving ice cream truck. Wonder low long it is until Taylor Swift copies the idea…

Remember Juan Pablo Galavis, the worst guy ever on “The Bachelor”? (He refused to get engaged at the end of the show, rendering it pointless.) Well, his girlfriend, Nikki Ferrell, dumped him after a failed run on “Couple’s Therapy.” Maybe these two need to understand that reality TV and true romance do not coincide.

Returning after a week’s break, Jimmy Fallon continued playing games with his celebrity guests despite negative comments from TV Guide. Monday night, he partnered with Charles Barkley to go against Ewan McGregor and Wilco frontman Jeff Tweady in an epically dysfunctional battle of charades. As Barkley was continually confused by the rules of charades and unable to think of a way to convey “Ice Ice Baby” other than by shivering, I got confused about what sport he used to play…isn’t it football players that get a lot of head injuries, not basketball players?

And finally, if you’d like a good Halloween parody before setting out for your spooky party Friday night, Disney blog “Oh My Disney” released “Counting Scars.” It’s a cute take on One Republic’s hit song—classic Disney villains are upset that Scar is always the most fearful—that won’t make you lose sleep.

Hope you enjoyed this week! See you back here next Wednesday

Rachel A.G. Gilman is a staff writer. Email her at music@nyunews.com.

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Dinner, Homeshake, and Widowspeak captivate Baby’s All Right for CMJ showcase

By Matthew Mahoney

Via Matthew Mahoney for WSN

Via Matthew Mahoney for WSN

Wandering into Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn on the afternoon of Oct. 23, partway through a set, which involved a man wearing a gold chain around his neck marching about gesticulating like a robot, it became clear that the Captured Tracks / Omnian Music Group’s CMJ Showcase was off to a good start.

The aforementioned man was Danish electronic artist Dinner, who was recently signed to the influential Brooklyn label Captured Tracks. Dinner had been preceded by Girl Tears, Mega Bog, Juan Waters and Mac DeMarco’s debut DJ set.

After Dinner left the stage, the venue staff took several minutes to set up for the next act, Homeshake, whose debut album “In The Shower” was released a few weeks ago on Sinderlyn Records. Homeshake, a solo artist, real name Peter Sagar, performed his odd mix of falsetto, funky bass lines, guitar parts and the occasional voice manipulation with a backing band for about 45 minutes.

The stage was then cleared again, in preparation for Captured Track veterans Widowspeak’s headlining set. The duo, who recently moved from Brooklyn to the Hudson Valley, arrived on stage looking quite rustic. Rob Thomas, the band’s guitarist, sported not one, but two denim shirts, with a harmonica and a red bandana strung around his neck, under a full beard and two small braids.

Molly Hamilton, the lead singer who also played guitar, wore a light brown, fringed skirt with black tights and a large black sweater. The band accentuated their backwoodsy aura by lighting some incense, which filled the room with a scent that was reminiscent of picnic tables in a pine forest. The two musicians have been off of the road and settling into their new home up the Hudson, where they have been working on their follow-up to their second album, 2013’s “Almanac,” for the greater part of the past year.

Their set consisted mostly of new songs, as they opened with two songs presumably named “Part 1 (the Narrows)” and “Part 2 (About California).” They followed this with “The Swamps” from last year’s “The Swamps” EP and “Perennials” from “Almanac.”

This was followed by another string of new songs, which were written on the set list as, “Blackwing,” “Girls,” and “Hands.” The new songs still sound like much of Widowspeak’s previously released material, however they sound a bit more optimistic than earlier work.

The set was closed by the haunting “Almanac” album cut “Thick as Thieves.” Hamilton mentioned, several times throughout the show, that they were playing many of these songs for the first time, in a setting  — only playing with two guitars — that would probably never happen again.

Overall the set was enjoyable and the mood was relaxed. The band did not mention when any of the new songs would be released, but one can assume that they will be released sometime early next year.

Matthew Mahoney is a staff writer. Email him at music@nyunews.com

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Art History 101: Marina

By Austin Bowes

marina

The purpose of this column is to both introduce and teach my readers a smidgeon of art history about major figures. Sometimes, I like to question their being major figures. In this article, I want to talk about a major artist in a medium that isn’t always talked about: performance art.

I was first introduced to performance art in my freshman year of high school when I heard of Marina Abramović’s retrospective and performance entitled “The Artist is Present.” Back then, I wasn’t really into art, and I was only confused when I saw photos of a woman sitting at a table string at random volunteers who often seemed to cry. I encountered these photos frequently on the internet, but never really looked into what the retrospective or the performance was. I remained ignorant. It was only a year or two later when I would watch a video of this same performance, except the man who volunteered to sit across from Marina was apparently a long lost love: they smiled at each other, held hands, cried, and parted ways. I was very touched by the intimacy and closeness they shared, so I researched.

Marina Abramović began her performance art career in the early 1970s in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, where she was born. She wanted to explore the limits and possibilities of her own body and mind, while also looking at the relationship between the artist and the viewer. Her “Rhythm” series of performances (1973-1974) explores these themes. “Rhythm 5,” for example, was a performance in which she created a large, five-pointed star on the ground out of wood and petrol…then lit it on fire. She would walk around the fire, cutting her hair, fingernails, and toenails, and throw a bit of each into each point until the end where she goes into the center of the burning star and lays down. The star was meant to represent a kind of cleansing.

However the performance was interrupted when she lost consciousness in the star due to lack of oxygen.

She had to be pulled out by the audience. She noted later, “I was very angry because I understood there is a physical limit: when you lose consciousness you can’t be present; you can’t perform.”

Perhaps her best known performance, especially from the “Rhythm” series, is of “Rhythm 0,” where she stood in a room that had a table holding 72 miscellaneous objects that the audience could use as desired on Marina. Some objects would be a band-aid, newspaper, a mirror, a gun, a comb, a rose with thorns, a candle, etc. The performance, which lasted six hours, began very simple where the audience would move her body around and make her hold items, but the audience slowly began to torture Marina, pricking her with the rose thorns to make her bleed, making her hold the gun to her head with her finger on the trigger, etc. It was her exploration of the audience using the artist how they like while she was still conscious, but she could do nothing.

But how does she know this man I mentioned before? The man turned out to be Ulay, a frequent collaborator with Marina and a former lover. They explored the possibilities of performance art together like their 1977 performance, “Breathing in / Breathing out,” which looked at a person’s ability to absorb the life of another, except in a more literal context. The two kneeled face to face, pressing their mouths together, with their nostrils blocked. They breathed in and out each other’s air until they both fell unconscious. They had a multitude of performances together, and considered themselves as more of one being with two heads than two separate people. To end their close relationship, they had a final performance in 1988 entitled “The Great Wall Walk,” in which Ulay and Marina started at separate ends of the Great Wall of China, to meet in the center 90 days later and say goodbye. That was the last time they had met, before “The Artist is Present.”

“The Artist is Present” was a retrospective of Marina’s works over the years at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010. The performers were all trained by Marina herself and replicated her pieces her through the MoMA’s galleries. Marina, however, was performing something new, also entitled “The Artist is Present,” where she sat in a space and would have volunteers sit across from her and they would share a period of time together with no words. This intimate connection with the artist caused many of the volunteers to experience rushes of emotion – likewise for Marina. She performed this every day the MoMA showed her retrospective, from March 14 to May 31 of 2010.

Marina has been an artist that I have felt a personal connection with since I first delved into her art career years ago. She opened my eyes to a new kind of art that I had not even known existed.

Now, I think of art as an experience, a connection with the artist, the work, and the audience. I hope that in reading this article, you can understand this and how I feel, or at least feel the need to do further research because I can only explain so much in so few words. For me, Marina has been a sort of enlightenment, and hopefully she can be for you too.

Austin Bowes is a contributing writer. Email him at entertainment@nyunews.com.

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