achy talks friendly animals, gets serious about superheroes

achy talks friendly animals, gets serious about superheroes

Johnson City, Tennessee-based self-proclaimed “giggle-pop” trio Achy – comprised of Achy (Samuel B.) (songwriter, composer) and his cohorts Mahto Bowder (bass), and Sam Love (drums) – just unleashed their seven track stunner Friendly Animals unto the world. Laced with a psychedelic, garage rock feel, the trio somehow pulls off a brit-pop soundscape above it all. Each track is refreshing, and honestly something we would enjoy at an outdoor barbecue. (You know… IF the heat ever dies down anywhere close by!)

Feel free to check out Friendly Animals below, and then check out our quick interview with the trio, where we get deep into their production process and – of course – superheroes.

What was your first musical memory, or the first album or song you heard? Do you think that has any bearing on who you are as an artist now?

Samuel: My absolute first musical memory is sitting in the living room of my folks old apartment, and my dad had this little record player set up and was playing Money by Pink Floyd on it. And that memory has always stuck with me super strong. My dad and my mom showing me their music growing up definitely impacted the way I make music though.

Sam Love: My first musical memory that really really made me love music was Pink Floyd. Particularly the Syd Barrett era, which was a more spastic and creative-sounding time for Pink Floyd in my opinion. However Lonesome Crowded West by Modest Mouse was the most influential album on my drum playing.

Mahto: There was always stuff like the Grateful Dead, Augustus Pablo, Bad Brains, Neil Young playing at the house. My folks had a fairly wide taste. My first cd was Help by the Beatles. I feel like the set me up pretty well. I do remember going to see a stage production of beauty and the beast and suddenly being much more interested in the piano at the the house. All that said I’m sure it must be why I act in the way I do now.

What is this self-proclaimed “giggle-pop” genre you’ve come up with on Facebook? Where did that term come from? Don’t necessarily disagree — just SUPER curious.

Samuel: It’s to describe that lil giggle you let out when a pop hook sounds real good. And we found it just online I can’t remember where or who but some beautiful stranger described us with the perfect genre! We also crack a lot of jokes at the live gigs.

Sam Love: Our term “giggle pop” comes from how much fun we having playing and learning music together; I think Samuel and Mahto have great senses of humor and we always make each other laugh in between songs! Although we take the music we make seriously I think it’s important to also have fun with it and they are great fellas to have around for that!

Mahto: I think someone else called us that in a Facebook event. It’s pretty accurate though. We get pretty giggly pretty often.

Friendly Animals is so refreshing and upbeat. We hear it all happened in 2 days. (AMAZING!) Any fun anecdotes?

Samuel: Thank you! It was the most exhausting two days I’ve ever had, we as a group literally rehearsed the songs one day before recording them and a lot of the parts were actually written as we recorded. By the end of recording I couldn’t even redo guitar takes cause my fingers hurt so bad!

Sam Love: The recording process for our EP Friendly Animals was a blast! It’s was a lot of work, but working with Henry of Taped Records in Knoxville was absolutely amazing. He has done a great job setting up an environment where work and productivity explode like a volcano, but in a way that doesn’t stifle the creative process. I feel like it was refreshing for all of us.

Mahto: It was very hot. And very hard on the hands. I thought the improv jam was the most fun though. After spending all day trying to get the songs right, after learning them the day before, it was really nice to be able to turn the brain off and slip into the rhythm off this new thing.

Do any of you have a favorite track from the album, or perhaps a song you prefer to perform live? Why? What makes it something to look forward to for you?

Samuel: Mine would have to be “Breakfast w/ You”, seeing people smile and get excited that we’re playing it just makes me so happy. That or “Telephone P’lease”!

Sam Love: My personal favorite song from Friendly Animals is “Summer Sweater” because I really like how the grooves kind of take on a funkier sound. I always look forward to playing it live!

Mahto: I rather like playing “Telephone P’lease”. It makes me feel like a rockstar.

How do you want fans to feel after listening to the album in its entirety?

Samuel: That they feel like they know us! By the end of the record I’d love it if people felt a little closer to what we’re doing and like they could come up after a show and talk like old friends.

Sam Love: Ideally, after listening to Friendly Animals for the first time, I would like the listeners to feel like they just heard something different in an interesting “fresh” way.

Mahto: I want listeners to feel like Samuel for a minute.

On a broader spectrum, what drives your passion to create music?

Samuel: The people and connections I make everyday doing it, the strongest and funnest connections you can make are when you become besties with another band or artist, that’s true love right there.

Sam Love: I always find myself in and around musical environments, and being able to play music with good friends and musicians like Samuel Bowman and Mahto Browder really helps drive my passion to create music. I also love how music can bring so many different people together, and even serve as a sort-of medicine.

Mahto: It just something I have to do. I think there is something primal that makes people want music.

If you could be any superhero – “existing” or made up – who would you be and why?

Samuel: Definitely Hellboy, coolest hero ever! Also the best graphic novel hands down.

Sam Love: If I could be any superhero, pre-existing or otherwise, I firmly believe I would be Father Captain Doctor Love. The man who, of course, had humble roots in a church eventually becoming a Priest. After seeing the ugly underbelly of religion and understanding religion’s sinister and corrupt nature in his town he quit the church to join the army. He quickly became a Captain, but after seeing the unjust conflicts and unspeakable horrors of war he left to further his academic career and reflect on his experiences. He decided to become a heart surgeon, and graduated at the top of his class successfully becoming a doctor. It was then he learned he could just also read minds and become temporarily invisible for 10-15 minute intervals on Thursdays.

Mahto: Batman. He just does what he wants. No powers or anything.

___

Keep up with Achy here.

carry illinois talks new ep work in progress and wonder woman ahead of kansas city appearance

carry illinois talks new ep work in progress and wonder woman ahead of kansas city appearance

On July 12th, Austin-based indie pop act Carry Illinois – comprised of Lizzy Lehman (Lead Singer/ Rhythm Guitar), Andrew Pressman (Bass), Rudy Villarreal (Drums), Darwin Smith (Guitar), and Benjamin Rowe Violet (Keys) – will make a much anticipated appearance The Rino in Kansas City, MO. But before we head out to celebrate the summertime with this impressive quintet, we wanted to ask brainchild and front woman Lizzy Lehman some questions. Below, she delves into her inspiration and the development of the band.

What was your first musical memory? Do you think that memory has any bearing on how you create music now?
My first musical memories are of watching The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” and Maurice Sendak’s cartoon musical “Really Rosie” (with music sung by Carole King).  Hearing the music from both artists absolutely inspired my love of singing and a deep desire to create truthful, emotional, and relatable music that reflects the journey of navigating the challenges and triumphs of life.
What unique flare do you think performing and creating in Austin, TX has given to your music?
 

Austin is a very accepting and supportive city where it is ok, and even encouraged, to be different and loud and proud about being yourself. Performing and creating here has made it possible for my music to fully represent my awkward, wonderful, painful, scary, and hopeful personal experience without fear of being judged.

Music lovers in Austin want to see artists expressing themselves in the most authentic way possible. My music has been embraced by people from all walks of life, even by those I would never expect to connect to it, and that is truly rewarding and validating.

What’s the story of how the musical project started and expanded? Was it a meet cute?
 
After the break up of a previous band, I knew I did not want to go back to playing solo. I had grown to love the power that comes with having a full band behind me. I set to work recruiting some of my favorite musicians- some old friends, and some new friends of friends. Darwin and Rudy have been with me from the beginning, through all the experiments, and the ups and downs. I am so grateful for their love and support. Following the painful loss of our bass player and dear friend John, we brought on Andrew, who has been a good friend and part of my chosen family for a long time. We lost our former keys player to the domestic life, but it made us think more about the sounds we want to hear, and we were very lucky to find Benjamin. He has added depth and sparkle to our sound in all the right places, with his array of synths and keys. We’ve made some changes to our sound over the years, with me “going electric” and accepting my love of pop and rock music. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive and creative group of guys. It wasn’t exactly a meet cute but the love is strong!
Your new EP Work in Progress is so vulnerable and honestly provides such a kaleidoscope soundscape. What was it like, making that EP? 
 
Making the new EP was a highly creative, visceral, and fully collaborative experience. It was amazing to have several days to build up the instrumentation, allow my band members to flex their creative muscles by experimenting with different sounds, and then record my vocals with a fully realized and rich musical context already in place. I was able to engage my emotions in a much deeper and connected manner while recording this EP because I was singing my most revealing and brutally honest lyrics to date.
How do you feel your music has progressed since you started? 
 
My music has become much more personal, honest, and revealing. It has also gone from having a very rootsy/folk feel to fully embracing my unabashed love for pop music. While the subject matter of the songs has become more earnest, the music itself has gained a more driving, catchy, and relatable feel. I have gone from making up songs about things I have never experienced, to confronting my most painful insecurities and challenging life experiences. I have become a truth-teller who is no longer afraid to tell my story.
What is your favorite part about live performance?
 
I love getting to belt my heart out, and in doing so I am able to share my true voice with the audience. Singing is my first instrument and my greatest musical passion. When I sing live I feel alive, and it is extremely fulfilling to see people engage in both the intimate and dramatic moments throughout our set.
What do you hope people take away from your music, and from seeing you live?
 
I want people to know that we are all connected by a need for love, support, and understanding. I want them to know that it is ok to feel their feelings and process their own pain. I hope that they feel comfortable enough to come up to me and let me know that they share a common experience, and that my music helps them to not feel alone in the struggle for self-acceptance.
If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why?
 
I would be Wonder Woman because she is strong, powerful, confident, and can face any challenge that comes her way! I would love to be able to stand tall even when I am having a difficult time maintaining stamina to get through my toughest moments.
Anything else?
 
I’m looking forward to meeting you in Kansas City! Please come say hello!
___
Keep up with Carry Illinois here.
mike llerena & the nerve release old haunts & new horizons, talk musical influence and constant writing

mike llerena & the nerve release old haunts & new horizons, talk musical influence and constant writing

Punk folk outfit Mike Llerena & The Nerve recently released an album titled Old Haunts & New Horizons, and we haven’t been this thrilled in a hot second. First of all, the unique blend of genres is incredibly striking. Second of all, the journey they take you on over the length of ten tracks is indescribable, and absolutely perfect for a summertime release. Take a listen to it below, then read on for our short, fun interview with Mr. Llerena himself!

What was your first musical memory, or the first album or song you heard? Do you think that has any bearing on who you are as an artist now?

I think my first musical memory would be hearing The Beatles in my house as a little kid. My first concert was actually seeing Paul McCartney solo when I was about 10 (setting the bar high!), but before then I had been hearing those songs for as long as I can remember. Like a lot of musicians, The Beatles have remained a fixture in my music library and their influence permeates my approach to songwriting and arrangement, even if I don’t always realize it.

I know you’re from Gainesville… do you think being from Florida has helped shape your sound, or do you think you’d be playing the same type of music had you originated elsewhere?

While I certainly have a lot of influences that aren’t specific to Florida, growing up here certainly played a role in me discovering and embracing certain bands. If I hadn’t moved to Gainesville and played music for years here, I would probably still like Against Me!, Hot Water Music and Tom Petty, but living here definitely makes you feel more of a kinship with those bands and artists.

Your upbeat single “Crossfire” was a great intro to the new album. What inspired it, specifically?

“Crossfire” had actually started off as a slower, acoustic song (with harmonica parts on it nonetheless) before I adapted it to the faster, louder full band version that we play now. The lyrics of the song deal with the anxiety of feeling caught between two opposing sides in an argument, going through various stages of identifying with one side’s argument over another and trying to find your own place in that conversation. Whether you’re dealing with this on a more personal level or observing it in the current state of political discourse in the U.S., the lyrics of the song can apply to different situations.

What was the production process like on Old Haunts & New Horizons? Any fun anecdotes?

We spent about a year recording the album. During that time, we formed the band, played shows in and out of Gainesville, kept recording in the studio, and lived our day to day lives outside of the band. Our engineer Jared Pennock (Z-Chord Studios) co-produced the album with me. He also co-produced and engineered my last two solo EPs as well. Working with him a third time was great because we have a sort of established shorthand with each other after recording together for so long. A lot of cool things can come out of working with someone you’re comfortable with in the studio: the spoken word intro on “Last Words”, the tape machine intro on “The Catharsis”, ideas like that are facilitated in that type of environment and it makes for great moments on the record.

How do you want fans to feel after listening to the album in its entirety?

Above all else, I just hope people like the album. Being on the other side of the process, I feel like each listener can and probably will feel different things after listening to it. The album may mean one thing to me, but it may mean something else entirely to a listener. I wrote the album and sequenced it in a way so that the songs tell somewhat of a story from start to finish. It’s a loose narrative, but at its core, I think it’s about a young adult reflecting on where they’ve been been, where they are now, where they’re going, and how all three of those things are connected. The bittersweet nature of nostalgia is a prevalent theme on the album as well.

On a broader spectrum, what drives your passion to create music?

I’m always writing songs. In some ways, writing songs on a regular basis has helped me document the last few years of my life. A lot of musicians say this, but songs and albums are like snapshots in a way, windows into significant moments in your life that you can reflect on long after they’ve passed. For me, writing songs is like a necessity that needs to be fulfilled, like having enough oxygen. Whether I become successful playing music or not, I’ll always write songs in some capacity. It’s something that I love doing.

If you could be any superhero – “existing” or made up – who would you be and why?

While Batman is my favorite superhero, I would have to pick Spider-Man just so that I could experience swinging from building to building several stories above the ground. Exercise is important and web-swinging sounds a lot more fun than running on a treadmill.

___

Keep up with Mike Llerena & The Nerve here.

broken baby talks starting a band, premieres “pass the acetone”

broken baby talks starting a band, premieres “pass the acetone”

Relatively new duo Broken Baby – comprised of Amber Bollinger and Alex Dezen – is hitting the Los Angeles music scene hard with their unique and energy-inducing brand of post punk-rock. They’ve already brought social commentary to the forefront in first single “Year of The Fat Man”, in an endearing way that gets you moving, even if you aren’t necessarily a dancer. But their new single “Pass The Acetone” is set for release this week, and we’ve got your exclusive premiere of the upbeat, sassed-up track right now.

Of course, we had to throw a few questions at them as well. So while you enjoy the new tune, check out our quick interview below!

What was your first musical memory, or the first album or song you heard? Do you think that has any bearing on who you are as an artist now?

Alex: I don’t know if I can remember that. I think it was probably hearing Saturday Night Fever coming through the walls of my parents room. The next thing I remember is a vinyl copy of Let It Be by The Replacements that I broke. It was my sister’s. She was pissed.

What is the conception story of Broken Baby? Was it a meet-cute? Give us all the details!

Amber: We were on tour for Alex Dezen’s second solo record and we were bored in a van driving across the country. Alex suggested we started a band together. I thought it was a joke, but when we got back to Los Angeles we followed through. Yep. The EP was done two weeks later.

A recent post on Facebook gave us a glimpse into the raw beauty of being empowered, woman or man. What spurred on this beautiful and open post about double standards?

Amber: Alex and I have so many talks about music and life, and we agree that this is a very interesting time.

Alex: Someone had asked us about it, so we answered.

We have until September to wait for your next official release. While we wait, how do you think your sound has evolved since the beginning of Broken Baby? Has your process changed at all?

Amber: Actually, you only have to wait about a week until our next song is released. PASS THE ACETONE will be out June 29th!

I think our sound is constantly evolving and moving forward. In ways that I don’t care to analyze yet. It’s been spontaneous so far, and that’s been a good thing.

Do you believe in aliens? Why or why not?

Alex: No.

Amber: Hell YEAH, I do! You’d be a dummy to think we’re the only ones to exist in this ever expanding universe. Come on!

Keep up with Broken Baby and their new music (HELLO “Pass the Acetone”!) here!

music and art collective arthur king premieres “changing landscapes” video, talks art as a connector

music and art collective arthur king premieres “changing landscapes” video, talks art as a connector

Arthur King is a unique music and art collective, creating landscape art that enriches the senses. Last summer, they took a trip to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah to create a visual experience unlike any other. During that trip, they created a short film that is as breathtaking in its detail as it is simple and endearing in its concept. With music by Arthur King, projection art by John Schlue, filming by Nash Howe, audio recording by Tim Conrad Horner, and editing by Alex Lee Moyer, the project came together quite nicely and is something we wouldn’t mind having on repeat for the rest of the day.

Not only do we have the exclusive premiere of the project, but we got the chance to take a few moments with Peter Walker, the driving force and visionary behind Arthur King.

What is your first musical memory, or the first album or song you remember listening to? Does that memory or that music have any bearing on your art now?

Drawing with chalk on my older brother’s Sergeant Pepper vinyl album. Eventually I evolved into recording said Beatles records onto cassette tapes. Today, I love manipulating instruments and sounds to make something perhaps unintended from the original design.

We understand the concept of the project, but what inspired it? 

This project was born out of my pursuing a Ph.D. in mythology and depth psychology. The premise is exploring the role of the unconscious in creative expression, and more specifically how we experience a given environment both consciously and unconsciously, and how art might bridge that gap.

What made you choose the locations for the video?

We were focusing on BLM land (bureau of land management) where you can camp and do other things without any heavy regulation or government jurisdiction. There’s a lot of BLM land in Utah, as well as magnificent rock formations and somewhat pristine environments.

The visuals aspect of it all is very endearing. How long did the visuals process take?

The visual component has been a part of this project from the very beginning, with the idea that the sound informs the visuals and the visuals inform the sound, creating a feedback loop and an overall experience involving both realms.

Could you take us through the process of all of this in general? It’s such a unique way to display an array of creativity, and we’re enamored by it!

The idea is fairly simple: 1) Locate an environment. 2) Engage it, consciously—meaning explore it and listen and look and record these things with microphones and video cameras. 3) Take these samples and use them in a total improvisational “performance” within the same environment. the result is akin to what happens when we dream, where sounds and images from our waking consciousness are thrown into the stew of our psyche and come out in an unexpected way, often bringing to light connections you didn’t know were there all along. In the end, the performance allows for a different way of experiencing the environment.

Any fun anecdotes from the production process?

During the performance there was a little scorpion that was crawling next to Tim, who was sitting on the ground and operating a recording device. Tim put an empty plastic box on top of it, thinking that would temporarily solve the problem and allow him to focus on his task at hand. He would of course release it afterwards… and avoid getting stung. But when we were finished, the scorpion was gone and he realized it had probably dug its way out in a matter of seconds. all part of the fun of being in the desert!

What do you think is the most important topic to address with art, at least at this point in our progression as a society? Is there a topic that you think is misrepresented or under-represented by its art?

I think art is a tool for connecting with ourselves and with others. Most importantly, in my opinion, effective art connects us with the unknown in ourselves and the “shared unknown” in others (or as Jungians might put it the collective unconscious). Art is a connector. Fear of the unknown drives the worst in us as a species, and its omnipresent in our society today. I’d imagine there is no topic under-represented right now, it’s more likely a matter of accessing the art that might be an issue. Or maybe better put: I’m certain there are artists making vital art that are not getting the kind of exposure that is just. and that’s where you come in!

How do you hope people feel after viewing this?

Moved. Curious. There’s really no hope for a specific feeling, I suppose I hope it invokes some feelings at all, whatever they may be.

Something off the cuff a bit… What superhero do you identify the most with?

Might seem like an easy answer…but I don’t think there’s anyone more badass right now than wonder woman!?

Smart, smart man. Anything else you’d like to add about the project or anything else coming up?

In between these Changing Landscapes adventures we’ve been busy with other fun things like live improv movie scoring and large-scale interactive art installations… So i encourage those who might be interested to please come find us!

___

Changing Landscapes is available now.

sleepy zuhoski talks trust in collaborators, better haze as a journey

sleepy zuhoski talks trust in collaborators, better haze as a journey

Dallas, Texas-based musician Garrett “Sleepy” Zuhoski released his debut album Better Haze this month, and if you haven’t yet gotten a taste of it, you’re missing out. That’s not just a simple statement in our eyes – as we’re sure you know, of course – but a testament to how truly enamored we are by his genre-bending style. With each line comes an array of influences, leaving the listener constantly questioning what’s to come. What’s more? The album in its entirety is perfect for a lazy summer day, the recent video for “On a Cloud” all-too-entertaining to miss.

Good news? We’ve got the video and Better Haze in its entirety to share with you, so you don’t have to go searching far and wide for this goodness. We also got a hot second with Garrett himself, so read on for more fun!

What was your first musical memory, or the first album or song you heard? Do you think that has any bearing on who you are as an artist now?

I remember listening to Bob Dylan a lot as a kid. The first time I ever thought a song was beautiful was These Are Days by 10,000 maniacs. Those both probably influenced me quite a bit. I still just want to make beautiful music, but love a gruff matter-of-fact delivery.

After all these years sitting on some of your work and working with other bands, what made you so keen to work with Salim Nourallah when the opportunity arose?

He offered to put me in a real studio and press vinyl haha. I mean, his reputation preceeds him in Dallas. I have been aware of his various projects for about 10 years and know several bands who he’s produced. I knew I was in good hands.

Better Haze is jam packed with a variety of sounds and nuances. How do you want fans to feel after listening to it in its entirety?

I love whole albums; albums as journeys. While I wasn’t really ready to do a proper “concept album” or really have a premeditated flow to it, I want people to feel like they were taken on a pleasant musical tour. I really enjoy making mixes and thinking hard about the flow of a collection of songs. I guess it has less to do with having a specific feeling in mind, I just want a satisfying collection of songs.

“On a Cloud” is such a fun and mysterious music video. What was the production process like on that music video?

Well, that was really all Weird Life Films. The label contacted them about making a video, and they pitched us the idea. We kinda just let them do whatever they wanted. They submitted the idea and we basically just said “go for it” without making any changes. I feel like it’s important to have trust in collaborators. I am not a film maker, and haven’t put much thought into that type of creative outlet, so I pretty much tried to leave it up to the experts. We were so pleased with the outcome that we worked with them on a second video (out soon) where we gave them free reign again to great results.

On a broader spectrum, what drives your passion to create music?

Honestly, I usually write songs to soothe anxiety. Thats probably why my songs have a darker depressed feel, even though people generally refer to my actual personality as goofy and cheery. I feel like theres a natural high that comes from performing music you love. I make music to feel good about myself.

If you could be any superhero – “existing” or made up – who would you be and why?

Oh dang, I’m really not a superhero kinda guy. Maybe be a Doctor Who companion, or Finn The Human.

Keep up with Sleepy Zuhoski here!