Monthly Archives: May 2011


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Portland’s Grails bring joy to my world. Since 2003 they have released 8 albums, including four volumes of ‘Black Tar Prophecies’ and have toured Europe extensively. They even have a member of Om amongst them. Their latest album “Deep Politics” is a record deep in atmosphere and Morricone-esqe stylings bringing with it a feeling of post-apocalyptic-rock. Alex Hall speaks to Jason Stoll.

1. Can you tell us how Grails came together?

Emil and I were introduced by a mutual friend in 2000 in order to play a brief set at a kind of mixed media art show. But it was surprisingly well-received and went from being a one-off thing to a recording project and the rest of the guys were recruited to help in the studio. And then the recordings were well-received, so it became an actual band, and here we are somehow in 2011…

2. Has the band developed in the way you expected?

The only constant in the band has been a lack of expectations. For as prolific and active as the band has been, we’ve never had anything resembling a “career” path. After completion of a record, we honestly have no idea what the next one will sound like. Or when the next tour will be once we’re back home. This attitude has certainly not benefitted the band, when it comes to things like success in the marketplace, but I guess the notion of careerism in rock music has just never settled well with me.

3.You seem to have moved from a post-rock perspective to a Morricone-esqe soundtrack style – Do you think being instrumental has helped this?

Sure, it’s probably easier to absorb as an influence the music of someone like Morricone when your band isn’t built around one person telling stories. But I guess I’ve never thought there was anything very remarkable, or even inherently interesting, about playing instrumental music. Instrumental forms have had a huge place in popular music from the very beginning.

4. How does Emil’s involvement in Om / Holy Suns impact on Grails? Especially with Om being quite high-profile. Has this worked for or against the band?

It’s worked out fine so far, since Emil’s been willing to way overextend himself in order to make it all work. We’ve benefited from his suffering, I’m sure.

5. How is Temporary Residence as a label compared to say Important Records or Neurot Recordings?

Each label has its own way of operating, and we’ve taken that into account when it comes to finding homes for releases. In the last several years, Temporary Residence has been a better fit for the “proper” albums, with Important better suited for the more idiosyncratic stuff. In general, we’ve been incredibly lucky with the labels that we’ve had the opportunity to work with. This band has never had a bad label experience. How many people can say that? The folks behind all of the labels we’ve worked with are some of our best friends in the world.

6. Are there going to be Black Tar Prophecies Vol. 5, 6, 7, etc?


Yeah, Vol. 5 will be out later in the year, and we’re going to pull 4,5,&6 together on a cd to make a complete album, just like with Vol’s 1,2,3. The cd will be next year. But then that’s it, promise.


7. There seems to be an occult leaning to your music – is this a fair comment and if so what is your interest in this?

It’s mostly an escapist device, a backdoor to altered states or spiritual realms. We make music to escape the more mundane aspects of our own lives; why write a song that sounds like a trip to the grocery store?

8.Your toured with Silver Apples – how was that? Any other memorable tours /shows? 


The Silver Apples tour was kinda weird. We were billed as the headliners for all but one of the shows and it just felt a bit awkward. Simeon is a wonderful guy and was very gracious about it, but I swore that you could catch tiny glimpses of his despair over the situation. His is a sad story – a totally seminal figure in the history of electronic music, supremely fucked over for decades by the recording industry, finding himself doing support for our band 45 years into his career? That’s a tear-jerker of a documentary, right there. But like I said, he was very very cool and even jammed with us at the end of our set on a few of the nights. There’s a live recording that’s not bad of us playing together in NYC that’s floating around on the internet somewhere.


9. Are your live shows still expanded with Randell Dunn?


No, that was just for one tour. We have a couple of ace musician friends that are playing with us now, filling out the frequencies with synths/keys, lap steel, melodica, percussion, other stuff…..The band has honestly never sounded better live. It’d be great to bring this lineup to Europe soon..


10. What are the high and low point of being Grails?


There’s really not very many low points. It’s easy enough on certain days to get bummed out by ‘lazy journalists’ or by the more shallow or satanic aspects of today’s musical culture….but other than that, we feel very privileged to do what we do. We get to make whatever kind of records we want and still have amazing label support and an audience of active listeners to whom the music means a great deal. I don’t know what else we could ask for.


11. When are you back over to Europe?


Not really sure…Like always, we have a limited amount of time that we can devote to touring and we’re focusing on playing in the US this year. So it won’t be until next year at the earliest.


12. Future plans?
The band exists to make records, so as long as Grails exists, that’s what we’ll be doing…


Liverpool Sound City

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Some good shows coming put in Liverpool over the weekend as part of Liverpool Sound City – Fucked Up, Steeling Sheep, Hot Club De Paris, Kurt Vile, Black Lips. Two of our faves though – Clinic on Friday 20th May in the Bombed Out Church and Mugstar on Sat 21st May in Static Gallery. Enjoy.

Chain and the Gang Deaf Institute

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Chain and the Gang hit the shores up last night, taking a little while to shake the sleep out of the eyes. Straight up jammin with the Chain and the Gang Theme. James Canty attempting to get things started early with some keys. Come to think of it they actually they looked like they had been up all night. No sleep, all sugar. Straight corporate Cola the drink of choice, but less said about that the better (“they already have enough people talking about them”). Two songs in, coats are off, hair is swept back and at least one guy is jamming at the front. Soon to be joined by I.A.N. himself. Trademark fitted polyester (acrylic?) suit, stretched to the nines, as limbs fly and hands are slapped. Soothing backup vocals, rattled off in response, slightly nervous, possibly coy. The real fun comes between the songs, even the drummer looked tickled. A dismantling of the current state of play. The Psychedelic Weekend (a fucking nightmare..), Cocoa Cola, Submarines (the J type a classic, my favourite..) and the USA as industrial prison complex, white privilege and power. Grab some sweets and join in. Playing Leeds, Liverpool, Glasgow, Belfast, Cork, London. In that order.


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In keeping with Lemmy’s punk credentials Motorhead tour this winter with Anti Nowhere League and UK Subs.

Motorhead UK tour dates…

Wolverhampton Civic Hall (November 2)
Newcastle City Hall (3)
O2 Glasgow Academy (5)
Mountford Hall, Liverpool (6)
Bristol Colston Hall (8)
Norwich UEA (11)
London HMV Hammersmith Apollo (12)
Plymouth Pavillions (14)
Southampton Guild Hall (15)
Nottingham Royal Centre (17)
O2 Apollo Manchester (18)


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Keith Morris Circle Jerks / Black Flag front man’s new project is a force to be seen; a punk rock supergroup featuringBurning Brides frontman Dimitri Coats, Redd Kross bassist Steven Shane McDonald and Rocket From The Crypt / Hot Snakes drummer Mario Rubalcaba. The band came together after a Circle Jerks recording by Coats fell apart, so Morris and Coats formed Off! They released 1st EP in October 2010 which, along with three more EPs, were later released as a four 7″ vinyl box set entitled First Four EPs in December 2010. Behind The Wall of Sleep’s Marc Glaysher talks to Dimitri Coats….

So how did you guys start jamming together and form what was to be OFF!?
It sort of happened by accident. Keith and I found ourselves in a situation where we were writing songs together. I was hired to help out his other band and the whole thing crumbled around us so we decided to do something with the tunes. Steven and Mario were our first choices for a rhythm section. We played them what we had and they both said yes.

I guess you have a wide range of influences seeing that you all come from different backgrounds in music and play in such a variety of bands, what bands (old and new) do you guys dig, and a have an influence on your sound???
Oddly enough, our record collections aren’t that far off from one another. A lot of classic rock like Zeppelin, Beatles, Sabbath, Velvet Underground, Stones, Creedence, BOC, Alice Cooper, etc. leading into The Stooges and The Ramones. Keith and I dig newer bands like Deerhunter. Steven is really into Arcade Fire. As far as what OFF! is doing, both Keith and Steven, when looking back at the scene surrounding Black Flag and Red Cross, are quick to point out bands like The Last and The Germs.
Since you started jamming together has band developed in the way you expected??
It’s hard to say. It all happened so fast. The material was written and recorded so quickly. As soon as we started playing shows, it seemed important to people and we hit the ground running. There’s been development from being on the road and getting to be a band for the first time. We’re in the trenches now. The first and second EPs were recorded before we’d ever played a show. You can hear the difference once the third EP kicks in.
The band is fronted by Keith Morris say (ex circle jerks, black flag,etc), as far as song writing goes, what gives you inspiration when writing songs??
Keith is inspirational. It’s fun to see him get excited about being in a band again. He deserves all the attention. The writing process is sometimes brutal. We’re both pretty opinionated and stubborn but we trust each other. It’s all coming from friendship, honesty, and a general desire to kick ass and not take shit. We bring out the best in one another and work hard at trimming the fat and arriving at tunes that a lot of people can relate to. We’re damaged guys even at our age. This band keeps us relatively sane. It’s a release.
How has the reaction been to your live shows, I can imagine people are pretty stoked???
It’s been nuts. I heard some kid at Coachella got his elbow ripped off but the vibe isn’t violent. Our tunes are fun and oddly danceable so everyone seems to have a great time. The rooms have been packed everywhere we go. There’s definitely something going on. We manage to evoke a feeling that hasn’t existed in a while. There’s a real excitement in the air. The shows are a blast. We bring it live for sure.
You guys are currently touring at the moment?? How is it going so far??
So far, we’ve hit both US coasts. The reaction has been insane for a brand new band on tour for the first time. We’re looking forward to a lot more but we’re not in our 20’s. We can’t live on the road most of the year. Three of us are dads. We want to take advantage of all the offers that are out there though and keep the momentum going. It’s a big world. Keith has never been to places like Australia and hasn’t toured most of Europe. We will in this band.
You released a boxset consisting of four EP’s, how did this idea come about?
We have fun winking at old ghosts. The title is a play on Keith’s past and the fact that Pettibon contributed an amazing visual to our sound. Keith originally wanted to release the 7″s one at a time every few months but Vice talked us into the box set idea when we signed. That meant writing and recording the last two EPs very quickly to make the Christmas rush. It was really stressful but the deadline added an urgency we needed. It worked.
Raymond Pettibon to created the artwork for the boxset, how did his evolvement in OFF! Come about???
Keith and Steven have known Raymond for years from the Black Flag and Red Cross days. Once we arrived at our sound it was obvious who we needed to contribute artwork. He was into what we were doing right away and became our visual fifth member. His dark sense of humor and fucked up social commentary is totally unique and a perfect match with OFF!
So what plans are the future plans for OFF! And can we expect you guys to travel further a field, possibly the UK??
Yeah. We’re playing a few festivals in the UK and Europe in August and headlining club shows in between. We’d like to release more music and continue touring as many places as we can that make sense.
How would you guys sum up OFF!
It’s something that none of us could’ve planned or anticipated. That’s why it’s real. It just sort of happened out of necessity.

Master Musicians of Bukkake

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Master Musicians of Bukkake: Totem 3

The appeal of the exotic seems universal in the Western mind: Chinoiserie, the 1001 Nights, the Turkish style that so beguiled Mozart (amongst others), the nineteenth century fad for Gypsy music. The exotic taps into the romantic notion of the noble savage, the exotic sidesteps the overly-intellectual tendencies of Western art, as well as its crass consumerist impulses. Of course, nothing is ever simple or pure, and such notions can seem at best paternalistic, if not patronising or racist. Discomfort with these stereotypes is nothing new. Around 1970 Can began a recording the Ethnological Forgery Series, which parodied the sounds of various “ethnic musics” (around the same time Mauricio Kagel (coincidentally also resident in Cologne) produced his Exotica, where classically trained musicians were let loose on a variety of instruments gathered from all over the world). 40 years on and no one would be convinced that these were genuine recordings of world music.

The easy availability of the real thing has educated our ears, so you’ll have to try harder to convince us 21st century sophisticates. Which is what the MMOB do. In the Twilight of Kali Yuga sounds credibly (to me at least) Indian. But what are we to make of a band whose name takes that of a revered Sufi group and subverts it with the name of a sex act? The photo shoots add to this bewilderment, Jodorowskyan fantasies of Shamans and Bedouins in snowy forests. Is it a new series of ethnological forgeries, an elaborate, ironic mocking? Or has the irony been digested to an extent where we’re to take this music at face value?

Such matters would be unimportant if the music was uninspired, but as ever with the MMOB, there is much to enjoy. We begin our journey in the Himalayas, temple bells and droning horns emerging from the sounds of fire. From there we journey into India, …Twilight of Kali Yuga being one of the album highlights, a lively, dancing tune, supplemented by bansri and tabla. Prophecy of the White Camel takes us into Arabic modes, the oud and chants mixing with distorted electric guitars.

The second half of the album is quite distinct, more western in feel. 6000 Years of Darkness is a simple folk-like melody, lushly scored for strings and winds, with a distinctly 70s prog feel. The mood of beautiful melancholy is rudely interrupted by dystopian electronics, menacing drones and an insistent, if unintelligible, robotic voice. The final track, Failed Future, deliberately references John Carpenter, a steady and sinister synth ostinato eventually becoming more frantic as an amplified violin squalls frantically, bringing the voyage to an end. Occasionally the melodies can feel a little rudimentary (as in the first half of the final track). The times when they’re given more space to expand are the most successful and memorable, but the music is never less than characterful and atmospheric. And despite the wilful diversity of styles, this is never an album which feels incoherent.

9/10 stars


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Birmingham’s Supersonic Festival announce the first wave of bands for this year: WHITE HILLS, BLACK WIDOW, ELECTRIC WIZARD, BARDO POND, THE SKULL DEFEKTS, ZOMBI and many more…..


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Ex- Burning Witch man Stuart Dahlquist releases his next album ‘Presences Of Absences’ through Important Records on double vinyl on 26th May 2011. Dahlquist says “The intention behind Presences Of Absences has been to make something real and unbiased, an honest effort at reproducing what is Asva’s nature as a band and as individuals. Not heavy in the traditional sense of ‘heavy’ but emotive and powerful, not quirky, not elusive or exclusive, but a different breed entire. Presences Of Absences is about sincerity, goodwill and compassion, honesty, hard work and in the deepest sense, thanks and reflection at the end of the day.”

Master Musicians of Bukkake

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The 17th May 2011 sees the release of Master Musicians of Bukkake Totem 3, featuring 7 new pieces influenced by the music of Satyajit Ray, Tuareg music of the Sahara,
Early Music, and John Carpenter, And the writings of french philosopher René Guénon. 
Totem Three
features guests from Secret Chiefs Three and Alan Bishop from the Sun City Girls as well as many more luminaries from the Seattle music scene. Featuring artwork by Seldon Hunt completing the connecting art of all three of the Totem records.

Reviews coming soon.

Diet Pills

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Bank Holiday Sunday 29th May sees Leicester’s Heaviest exports Diet Pills come to Liverpool after just releasing their debut LP on Force Fed Records.
Support will be from The Royal Bastard Power Swimming Orchestra of Liverpool debuting new composition ‘GTS > Stunner’ and  Brand spanking new Power Violence from awesome foursome 100% Fuck Off.