Category Archives: GUEST EDITOR

From The Desk Of Diamond Rugs: Ibanez Tone Lok Pedals

As was the case with Diamond Rugs’ 2012 self-titled debut record, much of the band’s sophomore album, Cosmetics, formed and grew in the studio. That’s an impressive feat, considering that Diamond Rugs is something of a weekender project for members of no fewer than five bands, all of whom keep moderate-to-ridiculous recording and touring schedules anyway: John McCauley and Robbie Crowell (both Deer Tick), Ian St. Pé (Black Lips), T. Hardy Morris (Dead Confederate), Bryan Dufresne (Six Finger Satellite) and the legendary Steve Berlin (Los Lobos, Blasters and about six dozen other outfits). The boys in the band will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our recent feature on them.

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St. Pe: These pedals came out in the late ‘90s/early 2000s and were plugged by rap/rock bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit. They eventually found their way to the used guitar stores for way cheap. But, oh boy, do these sound good. A.K.A., I love them.

Video after the jump.

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From The Desk Of Diamond Rugs: George Jones

As was the case with Diamond Rugs’ 2012 self-titled debut record, much of the band’s sophomore album, Cosmetics, formed and grew in the studio. That’s an impressive feat, considering that Diamond Rugs is something of a weekender project for members of no fewer than five bands, all of whom keep moderate-to-ridiculous recording and touring schedules anyway: John McCauley and Robbie Crowell (both Deer Tick), Ian St. Pé (Black Lips), T. Hardy Morris (Dead Confederate), Bryan Dufresne (Six Finger Satellite) and the legendary Steve Berlin (Los Lobos, Blasters and about six dozen other outfits). The boys in the band will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our recent feature on them.

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Morris: George Jones, good lord, George!  If you have even the slightest love of music autobiographies and you have not read George Jones’ I Lived To Tell It All, well, go on eBay or whatever and get a copy, now, before George’s ghost snorts it up. George was a one man Mötley Crüe, and the stories have to be read to even begin to be comprehended. Unbelievable that he only died a couple of years ago. Seriously, read it.

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From The Desk Of Diamond Rugs: Black Sabbath: Paris 1970

As was the case with Diamond Rugs’ 2012 self-titled debut record, much of the band’s sophomore album, Cosmetics, formed and grew in the studio. That’s an impressive feat, considering that Diamond Rugs is something of a weekender project for members of no fewer than five bands, all of whom keep moderate-to-ridiculous recording and touring schedules anyway: John McCauley and Robbie Crowell (both Deer Tick), Ian St. Pé (Black Lips), T. Hardy Morris (Dead Confederate), Bryan Dufresne (Six Finger Satellite) and the legendary Steve Berlin (Los Lobos, Blasters and about six dozen other outfits). The boys in the band will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our recent feature on them.

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Morris: Many years ago, at a sushi karaoke party, a friend of mine gave me (what I thought was) a CD labeled, “Black Sabbath: Paris 1970.” I was excited and intrigued, but when I put it in my truck CD player, nothing happened, so it sat in my truck and I would pop it in every so often with the futile hope that it might play. Eventually, I tried putting it in a friend’s computer because I thought, “Maybe my CD player just sucks,” and whaddaya know!? Black Sabbath comes up on the screen in full 1970 force, ripping through tunes like rabid cats trapped in paper bags. It was a DVD (duh), and I had wasted almost two years not seeing the amazement my friend had so generously been trying to bestow upon me. So don’t waste your time. Watch it. Over and over. It’s the best thing on the ‘net, anyway.

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From The Desk Of Diamond Rugs: Band Gone Bad

As was the case with Diamond Rugs’ 2012 self-titled debut record, much of the band’s sophomore album, Cosmetics, formed and grew in the studio. That’s an impressive feat, considering that Diamond Rugs is something of a weekender project for members of no fewer than five bands, all of whom keep moderate-to-ridiculous recording and touring schedules anyway: John McCauley and Robbie Crowell (both Deer Tick), Ian St. Pé (Black Lips), T. Hardy Morris (Dead Confederate), Bryan Dufresne (Six Finger Satellite) and the legendary Steve Berlin (Los Lobos, Blasters and about six dozen other outfits). The boys in the band will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our recent feature on them.

3VanHalen

Crowell: A while ago, I started revisiting the rock ‘n’ roll I first heard. I came to rock in an oblique way, being the son of a deceased Baptist minister. Rock, pop, R&B, soul—there was none of that in my house. I was raised on a diet of classical, religious and Celtic music, and it was up to me to beg, borrow or steal my rock on the down low. I’d sneak a radio in my room, listening to whatever rock radio stations I could find long into the night after my supposed bedtime. I guess you could say nothing’s changed, except now I stay up all night playing it instead of listening to it.

One of the first bands I fell in love with was Van Halen. My friend Kent Hunter, the guitar alter ego to my drumming at the time turned me on. Something about the virtuosity of Eddie’s guitar playing, coupled with the on-the-edge almost-sloppiness of it got me in a really different way than anyone else. So, on this time warp I’m on, I bought 1984 again, listened to it for the first time in years. It knocked me on my ass even harder this time. David Lee Roth, say what you will, is pure, beautiful cheese with an unerring sense of hook, Michael Anthony lays down bedrock bass parts (or does he? Eddie claims a lot of credit), and Eddie and Alex are inhuman. “Girl Gone Bad” is the one that gets me. Drums and guitar laid down first, before everything, and in one take. Nothing like this would ever make it onto a top-40 albums chart now. Time’s all over the place, click track’s out of the question, and it feels like it’s on the edge of falling apart the whole time. The guitar solo feels like doing a DUI test when you know for a fact that you’re 10 drinks over, but somehow spectacularly passing it. It’s completely unhinged. It’s beautiful.

Today, Van Halen’s a joke. Revolving cast, petty bullshit, delusional interviews, terrible shows. But putting on 1984 still makes me feel like a 14-year-old kid finding a new drug for the first time, and “Girl Gone Bad” makes me forget about the band gone bad.

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From The Desk Of Diamond Rugs: Rock ‘N’ Roll Vs. Age Part Two

As was the case with Diamond Rugs’ 2012 self-titled debut record, much of the band’s sophomore album, Cosmetics, formed and grew in the studio. That’s an impressive feat, considering that Diamond Rugs is something of a weekender project for members of no fewer than five bands, all of whom keep moderate-to-ridiculous recording and touring schedules anyway: John McCauley and Robbie Crowell (both Deer Tick), Ian St. Pé (Black Lips), T. Hardy Morris (Dead Confederate), Bryan Dufresne (Six Finger Satellite) and the legendary Steve Berlin (Los Lobos, Blasters and about six dozen other outfits). The boys in the band will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our recent feature on them.

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Crowell: In addition to starting to wonder about the upper limits of age in rock, I also realized at one point that it had been a while since I heard many young rock bands that really kicked my ass. This was a bit of a drag, seeing as I generally think most of the best rock albums were made by bands under 30, if not under 25. Not that there haven’t been older bands that made great albums, but it’s the exception more than the rule. Rock is traditionally the bastion of the young for some pretty good reasons, among them the fact that, the older we get, the less risks we tend to take, musically or onstage. I’m comforted by the fact that, in Diamond Rugs, there’s a great thread of immaturity in the best ways, where the nastier or weirder it gets, the better. But, I digress. In the past year, I’ve found the Districts, through touring with them, and Scoop Outs, through my friend Charles Austin (king of the great and weird in Halifax, Super Friend(z), producer/engineer of wonderful madness). Rock’s not dead, and it doesn’t smell any worse than it ought to, either.

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From The Desk Of Diamond Rugs: Rock ‘N’ Roll Vs. Age Part One

As was the case with Diamond Rugs’ 2012 self-titled debut record, much of the band’s sophomore album, Cosmetics, formed and grew in the studio. That’s an impressive feat, considering that Diamond Rugs is something of a weekender project for members of no fewer than five bands, all of whom keep moderate-to-ridiculous recording and touring schedules anyway: John McCauley and Robbie Crowell (both Deer Tick), Ian St. Pé (Black Lips), T. Hardy Morris (Dead Confederate), Bryan Dufresne (Six Finger Satellite) and the legendary Steve Berlin (Los Lobos, Blasters and about six dozen other outfits). The boys in the band will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our recent feature on them.

GuidedByVoices

Crowell: About a year ago, I went through a long period of re-evaluating a lot of things in my life. One thing that crossed my mind was that maybe I was getting a bit too old, at 33, to be playing/touring in rock bands. Coincidentally, around this time my friend Bobby Bare Jr. needed a bassist for a tour opening for Guided By Voices. I knew a bit about GBV, a few songs heard late at night, filtered through countless Heinekens and packs of cigarettes while hanging with my rock ‘n’ roll gurus Dave Marsh and Paul Boudreau, long after the customers at the bar Paul owned had gone home. The first night we opened for them, in Des Moines, I believe, I had no idea what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect five men over 50 to pummel the audience with two-and-a-half hours of relentless three-minute songs, fuzzy pop and abstract rock compacted into a menacing and brutally awesome package. Three nights in, while talking to Bob Pollard after the show, I asked, “Bob, do you do yoga or what? How the hell can you swing your leg straight over your head in the middle of singing?” He smirked and replied, “Are you fucking kidding me? It takes at least 10 beers for me to pull that off.”

No one’s too old for rock’n’roll.

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Diamond Rugs: A Tree With Roots

DiamondRugs

The multi-sourced, multi-generational Diamond Rugs continue crafting smart, gritty rock

As was the case with Diamond Rugs’ 2012 self-titled debut record, much of the band’s sophomore album, Cosmetics, formed and grew in the studio. That’s an impressive feat, considering that Diamond Rugs is something of a weekender project for members of no fewer than five bands, all of whom keep moderate-to-ridiculous recording and touring schedules anyway. But to hear Diamond Rugs bassist (and Deer Tick keyboardist) Robbie Crowell tell it, there was never any question that Diamond Rugs was going to put out a second release. In fact, the band had Cosmetics on its minds more or less immediately after the first one.

“On the first record,” says Crowell, “we went in with no real game plan, just to see what would happen. But we wanted to make our second record pretty much right after we’d finished the first one.”

So, Cosmetics was a more tightly built LP than the first?

“No,” says Crowell. “We went at the second one more or less the same way.”

Never mind, then, however it happened. Cosmetics, like its predecessor, is a tight little stomper of a record, a cross-section of the kinds of music—the wildly diverse kinds of music—beloved by its members. Crowell’s Deer Tick bandmate John McCauley, who initiated the project three years ago, remains the de facto frontman and writer, while Ian St. Pé (Black Lips), T. Hardy Morris (Dead Confederate), Bryan Dufresne (Six Finger Satellite) and the legendary Steve Berlin (Los Lobos, Blasters and about six dozen other outfits) return to fill out what turns out, remarkably, to be an even deeper bench than the roster might suggest.

The talk turns to that depth pretty quickly, and when it does, Crowell has a lot of praise to pass around. “John … ” he says at one point, his voice fading off as he forms the thought. “That guy, he’s probably the most prolific songwriter I know. It seems like at any given time he’s got about two albums’ worth of songs ready to go. And Bryan—I mean, nobody plays drums like Bryan. It’s staggering.”

But to run down the passenger manifest, as Crowell does long and loud, won’t describe the music on the new record, which sounds consistently more controlled than Crowell’s narrative of the recording might suggest. The opening cut, “Voodoo Doll,” sets the tone: Clipped, tight percussion, just-this-side-of-sloppy vocals, Berlin’s deep saxophone honk and fuzzed-out, chunky guitar chords are the point of entry. On the surface, we’re talking about regular old, garden-variety, dirty-ass rock ‘n’ roll.

Yet, spin the album a few more times and the loose feel begins to separate out into recognizable patterns that could only come from a band whose members are ardent students of music, as well as professionals. The Buddy Holly-style rave-up of “Couldn’t Help It,” the Bo Diddley drumming of “Live And Shout It,” the overblown absurdist cock-rock lyrics on “Motel Room,” the wobbly keyboards on “Clean” (itself a traditional shimmery I-IV-V garage-rock wail, at least until the chorus approaches)—these are the moments that stand out on multiple listens.

It’s not that Cosmetics is a smarter album than Crowell’s pretending it is. It’s that this is a record made by smart musicians who also happen to love dirty-ass rock. And so the limitations of form and technology—including the fact that the album was recorded directly onto eight-track tape—didn’t constrain the band so much as point all of its wild, wooly energy in the studio toward smart, economical, funny directions.

Sometimes a little too funny: “You can’t be too reverent,” says Crowell, as we’re discussing the band’s deep love for a multiplicity of music. “I’ve got little patience with rock that takes itself too seriously. At the end of one of the takes of ‘Killin’ Time’—I’ve still got this on my laptop—at one point, John suddenly went into this weird Joe Cocker-style shout about reorganizing the spice rack. Steve (Berlin) is our sensei, our spirit animal, the one that tries to pull us back when we get too far out. But he loved it. No one loves that kind of thing more than Steve.”

—Eric Waggoner

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From The Desk Of Torche: Trends And Technology

Back in 2005, when Torche unleashed its debut helping of thunderous doom-pop, guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks’ former band, Floor, was dead and buried. Never again would Brooks’ former and present groups compete for his time and attention. Well, never say never. Floor dropped Oblation last April. Suddenly, “a few reunion gigs” became a time-consuming reality, with Brooks balancing two bands’ write/record/tour cycles. It’s a juggling act Torche has been at since 2008 when members started moving away from the group’s Miami home base. Restarter, the band’s fourth LP, packs in all the familiar elements, but does so with a looser, more somber tone and sullen mood. The members of Torche will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on them.

Trends

Rick Smith: With the internet more available than ever, it’s easy to keep up with current trends, and just as easy to let the trends define who we are. Everything is a statistic. It’s all about the view count, how many likes, how many shares … and people are quick to convince themselves that certain things are noteworthy because of these same statistics. Is it a good thing or bad thing? It is what it is …

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From The Desk Of Torche: Sweets

Back in 2005, when Torche unleashed its debut helping of thunderous doom-pop, guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks’ former band, Floor, was dead and buried. Never again would Brooks’ former and present groups compete for his time and attention. Well, never say never. Floor dropped Oblation last April. Suddenly, “a few reunion gigs” became a time-consuming reality, with Brooks balancing two bands’ write/record/tour cycles. It’s a juggling act Torche has been at since 2008 when members started moving away from the group’s Miami home base. Restarter, the band’s fourth LP, packs in all the familiar elements, but does so with a looser, more somber tone and sullen mood. The members of Torche will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on them.

Cookies

Steve Brooks: I’m a sweet junkie. I crave sugar. I’ll murder anyone for it. My bandmates notice, “Hey, Steve, you should eat something other than cookies and candy today.” I try to substitute with some fruit, occasionally. (Shit, that’s a bit of a lie.)

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From The Desk Of Torche: Recordings

Back in 2005, when Torche unleashed its debut helping of thunderous doom-pop, guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks’ former band, Floor, was dead and buried. Never again would Brooks’ former and present groups compete for his time and attention. Well, never say never. Floor dropped Oblation last April. Suddenly, “a few reunion gigs” became a time-consuming reality, with Brooks balancing two bands’ write/record/tour cycles. It’s a juggling act Torche has been at since 2008 when members started moving away from the group’s Miami home base. Restarter, the band’s fourth LP, packs in all the familiar elements, but does so with a looser, more somber tone and sullen mood. The members of Torche will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on them.

Recordings

Jonathan Nunez: I love recordings from perfect ones, decent-to-good ones, down to the awful ones. To me, it’s more about the vibe and the real sound of the band. If a band sounds super tight and clear, that’s great. If a band sounds like shit, that’s also great. This will all translate onto the recording, and a good chunk of the time, the “shitty” bands are more interesting. The sound of a band’s recording is its own world. Records that take you places with their songs, and sounds make for a better experience.

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