Category Archives: INTERVIEWS

Q&A With Jason Narducy

JasonNarducy

Since having formed a punk quartet (Chicago’s Verbӧten, featuring Dave Grohl’s cousin Tracey Bradford on vocals) as a precocious 10-year-old, multi-instrumentalist Jason Narducy has kept busy with other bands (most notably Verbow) and as an in-demand sideman with the likes of Bob Mould, Superchunk and Robert Pollard. He’s also releasing his first solo record under the Split Single moniker, Fragmented World (Inside Outside). We talked to Narducy about rocking as a youngster, his famous Split Single bandmates and the unlikely influence of Michael Jordan. Narducy will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

MAGNET: You began playing an instrument early on. What do you think sparked your interest?
Narducy: I grew up with my parents playing the Beatles and the Stones and the Kinks. I immediately took to rock music. I remember when I was probably five years old, I got a Mickey Mouse drum kit from my parents and grabbed two cousins and made a band. I said, “You’re doing this, you’re doing this.” I wrote a song called “Wolf Man,” which was to the tune of “I’m Eighteen” by Alice Cooper. I loved werewolf movies, so that was the combination of things. And then my stepdad in ’76 or so co-founded a bluegrass band called the Special Consensus, which still exists though he’s not it anymore. So I would go see the Special Consensus at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn (Ill.). I specifically remember that. That’s 35 years ago.

Was there a “Beatles on Ed Sullivan”-type moment where you were like, “I’ve got to do this?”
Yes, but not yet. [Laughs] I remember seeing the Special Consensus and then my stepdad bought me this little mandolin, which I promptly put a Star Wars sticker on to make it cool. I learned mandolin first, and I would jam with him. My mom played piano, so the three of us would play music together. Then in ’79, when I was eight, my dad took me to see The Kids Are Alright on a Sunday. We were in line to get tickets, and there were two elderly women in front of us. The ticket-seller guy was yelling through the glass, “You don’t want to see this movie! It’s loud! It’s too loud!” Something in me was like, “Ooh, what’s going to happen here?” To this day, I get goose bumps watching that movie … just the opening with the Smothers Brothers and smashing the instruments. I had never seen anything like that, and that was it. I drew pictures of the Who for about a year and would constantly have air-guitar concerts with any kind of toy. When I was nine, my mom and stepdad gave me an electric guitar, and a year later, I had Verbӧten.

What was it like being a 10-year-old kid and playing in a band in clubs?
It made perfect sense to us at the time. We knew it was different because we were … I hadn’t gone through puberty. [Laughs] It was weird to be amongst teenagers and adults, but to us we were like, “We’re a band. We write our songs and record them and we go play shows.” There was never a moment like, “Can you believe we’re doing this?” It was like, “This is what we do.” I think that conviction came through because immediately people around us took to it. It’s only now in retrospect, I’ll meet a 12-year-old and look at them and go, “My first band was breaking up when I was your age.”

So Verbӧten only lasted a couple of years?
A couple years, yeah. We were all different ages. I was 10 when it started, the drummer Zack (Kantor) was 11, Chris (Kean) was 12, and Tracey was 13. By the time I was 12 and Tracey was 16, she said, “We need to make a 45 and get a van and tour.” That was another world we hadn’t even thought of. So we had a band meeting. It has to be the only band meeting where the parents were there. [Laughs] Tracey was like, “This is what we’re doing.” I was 12, and my dad was like, “No.” [Laughs]

What did you do musically from that point till Verbow?
I stopped playing music for a bit. I didn’t play guitar routinely until high school. I started a band when I was a freshman. From age 12 to 15, I wasn’t playing very much. I had to shake the rust off. I had some bands where I wrote some songs but not much else to speak of. We did some four-track demoing but nothing else. I was in a bunch of bands in college in Baltimore and here in Chicago, but it wasn’t until I stared playing with Alison (Chesley) in ’93 that things started again.

When did it go from you being a fan of Bob Mould to him producing the first Verbow record (1997’s Chronicles)?
In ’91-’92, I would go to as many shows of his that I could. I’d go to soundcheck, and I’d bring him local press. Back then, there wasn’t the internet; he’d do the interviews, but he wouldn’t know what happened with them. So I’d bring a stack and hand it to him. He’d appreciate it and we’d talk. I never told him I was a musician, never gave him a demo tape. I had a friend whose dad knew a guy named Al Teller, who was running MCA Records. His dad said to me, “When you want Al to hear your music, I’ll do it, but don’t do it before you’re ready.” That rang a bell with me. I looked at the band I had and thought, “We’re not ready.” I felt the same way with Bob. When I started playing with Alison (as Jason & Alison), I was ready for him to hear it, but I don’t think I gave it to him because Jam Productions proposed to Bob that Alison and I open up three of his acoustic shows. Jam called him and told him about us opening and he said, “Tell me about this Jason & Alison thing,” and they told him that I’d booked a show at Beat Kitchen (in Chicago) where I played Workbook all the way through. When I walked into soundcheck, he just laughed: “Welcome. You would’ve been here anyway, you might as well play the show.” After we soundchecked, he asked us to do the rest of the tour. Then after the tour, he asked to produce the record. We didn’t have a label, we didn’t have a publishing deal, we didn’t have anything. We were free agents. He said, “Come to Austin, and we’ll make this thing.” We made Chronicles in six, seven days, and he sent the tapes to labels and sort of protected us: “This guy’s no good, don’t talk to him.” He paid for the whole recording and everything.

What did you do after Verbow ended?
I started a band called Rockets Over Sweden, which put out a self-released EP. We maybe played six shows or something. My painting company started doing well. We bought a house. My wife and I had a son. I sort of stopped music again. I was playing in fun cover bands just to drink some beer and play the Who, but it wasn’t until 2005, when Bob asked me to play bass in his band, that I got back into it.

So that’s all it took, him asking?
Yeah. But then I thought about it … I was a basketball player in high school, and I went to Doug Collins’ basketball camp, and Michael Jordan came to the camp to talk to us. He wasn’t there for very long, but the things he said really resonated with me. He said, “Never walk into a gym and just dribble and shoot and jog over and pick up the ball. You never do that in a game, so you’re practicing something you don’t do. Go into a gym and play at full speed.” He’s like, “People stand at the free-throw line and shoot 100 free throws. You never do that in a game. Shoot two free throws, run around the gym, come back and shoot two more.” I knew that I was not up to speed to play bass in the Bob Mould Band. So I thought of that and went to my garage and set up a full PA system facing me, with a mic and bass amps behind me, and I cranked Bob Mould coming at me at full volume all summer. Instead of sitting down and listening to tunes with headphones, I practiced like it was a show. That really got me ready.

You playing with Mould is how Tommy Keene saw you and asked you to play in Bob Pollard’s band in 2006, right?
Yeah, and Jon Wurster. They were both in the Pollard band, but no one else had been picked. They both saw me at different times: Wurster in North Carolina and Tommy in D.C. The last show of that tour was in L.A., Tommy was there, and that’s when he asked me. I couldn’t believe it. The last show of the tour and you want me to start up with another songwriter I love? It was pretty amazing.

How did Wurster join the Mould band?
In ’08, we were about to head out and (drummer) Brendan (Canty) and his wife were going to have their fourth kid. He was like, “I can’t do this.” Bob tried another drummer, and it wasn’t working out. We asked Jon first, but he had a Mountain Goats tour at the time. But we were two, three weeks in, and we were like, “Where are you now?” Two days later, he flew to L.A. and we started playing. We didn’t even rehearse.

What’s it like playing with Mould, a guy you basically idolized?
Bob is this unique person where he’s still impressive. He’s an incredibly hard-working guy. He’s a genius. You maintain that respect and reverence for him because he’s so intelligent. There are times where I’ll ask him a question about some city that we’re in, and he knows the main source of manufacturing income. He just knows these things. He’s also just a really good bandmate. He defers to Jon and I on a surprising amount of things. It’s his band and it’s his call, but there’s a nice interplay. He likes our feedback, and it feels good to be a part of that. We would gladly do it without that.

What has the Superchunk experience been like for you?
I was honestly hesitant about that because Laura (Ballance) is so iconic. I envisioned walking onstage and having vegetables thrown at me. [Laughs] So many guys have crushes on her and out I come … I was like, “This could be such a mistake.” But she really did an amazing job reaching out to the fans first with that letter and introducing me. It couldn’t have gone better. She’s still in the band, so I know I’m just the touring guy. It’s been super-comfortable—no pun intended. I enjoy the challenge of learning that many songs that quickly. Mac (McCaughan) changes the setlist every night. I’m not exaggerating when I say that probably every soundcheck, I’m learning two to five songs right there. That’s invigorating for me. I like that challenge, and it’s gone well so far.

So you’ve been doing all the sideman stuff and went a long time without writing anything—eight years, I think you said on Twitter. So what happened to spark this period of activity with Split Single?
At the end of 2011, (Dolly Varden’s) Steve Dawson asked me to (open) a show. I wanted to challenge myself: What if I wrote 10 new songs and played those songs at the show? I could fall flat on my face or it might go OK. Either way, I’ll feel good about having pushed forward instead of getting up there and playing some Verbow songs or Jason & Alison or whatever.

Do you think if you hadn’t been asked, this LP may not have happened?
Maybe not. I definitely needed that deadline. Those are always healthy. Looking back, though, the first two weeks of January, I was recording (Mould’s) Silver Age and that show was January 28, and I was asked in December and there were the holidays … I’m not sure how I did that. Three of those songs ended up on (Fragmented World). That’s really how it got going, that challenge to myself and the question from a friend to do a show.

I really like the record, and I’m glad I really like it because I didn’t want to have to sit here and pretend I did.
[Laughs] Oh, cool. I’m glad you do, though. Probably the back end more, with all of the power-pop stuff.

Well, I’ll get to that. How do you feel about how the record turned out?
I’m excited. I enjoyed this process more than any other time in my life. When you’re younger and you’re writing songs and you have a label, you put pressure on yourself. I put pressure on myself that was completely unwarranted, feeling like I had to write this super-important record. You get older and you realize there are going to be people who like it and there’s going to be way more people who don’t like it. Always. For every band. Once you know that, it’s sort of freeing. I really enjoyed the songwriting process, and I really enjoyed recording with (Wurster and Spoon’s Britt Daniel on bass) and interacting.

Never Look Back” is my favorite. It’s one of those songs that, depending on how much attention this record gets, is going to be on year-end best-of lists and CD mixes. I don’t know if people still do that, but it’s going to be on them if so.
[Laughs] Really? Thank you.

I was wondering, after you write a song like that, do you know at the time that you nailed it?
I’ve been writing songs long enough to not feel like I have any control over that sort of thing. On the second Verbow record (2000’s White Out), at the last minute I tacked on a demo for the very last song. It’s Alison and I playing a song I just wrote, acoustic. And that’s by far everybody’s favorite song. I don’t know—it felt good when I wrote “Never Look Back.” It was definitely one of the best songs I wrote in that first batch. I felt like it was strong enough to play for people. But I ended up not opening the record with it.

There’s been some press about how Split Single is this “indie-rock supergroup.” There seems to be some confusion, like you three called each other up and said, “Let’s form a band,” and you wrote all these songs together. Does that matter to you at all?
It did in August of 2012, when the story broke. The story broke because Britt was talking to a blogger in Toronto, and that blogger posted this thing that had the name wrong. It had everything wrong about the story. That’s actually why I joined Twitter because Jon and I landed in Ireland with the Bob Mould Band, and he opened up his laptop and goes, “Uh oh.”

And then it came up the same way again recently.
Yeah, it did. I knew it would happen. My publicist was like, “They’re going to lead with the Britt Daniel thing because they love Britt Daniel.” And it’s like, and I love Britt Daniel. It’s just how the press works. I don’t mind that. Britt’s totally behind this thing and is excited about it. Both he and Jon were a huge part of making the record. Is it a little bit skewed? Yeah, but if you read further, it’s like, “Jason’s going to be playing shows with other people because Britt and Jon aren’t available.” It’s a solo project.

That’s why I ask. It’s your project, and it’s special to you. You’re not just the session man. This is your stuff, and it’s great that it’s getting attention, but people are getting the story wrong.
Yeah, it’s important to stress that because I don’t want anybody buying tickets to a Split Single show expecting to see Jon or Britt. That part’s important. But I think so many musicians have side projects now that it doesn’t really matter. I’m not offended.

Why is Fragmented World self-released?
I sent it to labels, and they said no. I mean, I sent it to a select few. [Laughs] I didn’t send it to everybody. I wasn’t offended by that, either. I’m 43 years old. I’m not going to get in a van and play every single club in the U.S. Labels are a risky endeavor these days. People don’t buy records. I think maybe some of them didn’t know my full story and maybe if they had … I don’t know. I’m glad it’s working out this way. I’m self-releasing, and I have distribution. I have a company administering the songs. I have a publicist. We’re going to try this out, just doing it out of the basement. It’s kind of exciting for me. There’s a lot of work that comes with it, but so many bands do that these days, and it’s a lot easier than it used to be. We’re going to try it out this way.

So you’re just going to wait and see as far as doing another record?
I don’t even know. I have a whole new Bob Mould record and tour cycle coming up. I’ve got Split Single shows. I can’t think two years ahead quite yet. We’ll see if anybody likes this record. [Laughs] Besides you.

—Matt Hickey

 

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Q&A With Steve Wynn

DreamSyndicate

On Sept. 5, 1982, Paisley Underground legends (well, not at the time but certainly soon after) the Dream Syndicate played a 2 a.m. gig at the studios of L.A.’s KPFK-FM. Broadcast live, the raw, ragged set documented on The Day Before Wine And Roses (Omnivore) found the quartet—singer/guitarist Steve Wynn, guitarist Karl Precoda, bassist Kendra Smith and drummer Dennis Duck—blazing and brooding its way through songs from its self-titled debut EP, released earlier in ‘82, covers (such as a smoking rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Outlaw Blues”) and tracks that would end up on the seminal The Days Of Wine And Roses LP, released about a month and a half later. A reconvened version of the Dream Syndicate with Duck onboard, but minus Smith and Precoda, has been playing shows since 2012. (Another member at one point, bassist Mark Walton, and Miracle 3 guitarist Jason Victor have been filling out the lineup.) Wynn is also busy with his national pastime-themed band, the Baseball Project, whose third record, the aptly titled 3rd (Yep Roc), is due later this month. We talked to Wynn about the Day Before show, the future famous person and bandmate in attendance and a couple of Eric Clapton songs. Wynn is also guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

MAGNET: Did you know the show documented on The Day Before was in the vaults? If not, how did you end up finding out?
Wynn:  Well, I knew it was taped, and I figured that KPFK kept a pretty good library and didn’t toss stuff out. Dennis and I both had the show on cassette and often talked about how much we liked it over the years. There’s really almost no documentation of that first lineup outside of audience tapes, the first EP and The Days Of Wine And Roses, so it made sense to put out the only other good recording that was out there.

If you hadn’t listened to it while prepping for the record’s release, what, if anything, would you have been able to recall from that night?
We were very aware that this would be the biggest audience that we would have ever played to up to that point. It was going to be on a very cool radio program, one that we all really enjoyed, and it would be live, no going back. Now, some bands would have taken that as an excuse to play a super-tight, super-professional set, but we looked at it from a different angle. We thought, “Why not get as outside as we possibly can?” It was a comfortable studio and performance space, all of our friends were there, we were pretty confident at that point—so we were ready for anything.

Why did the set start at 2 a.m.?
That was just the time of the show each week. But it was the latest we’d ever played, which I think we all thought was pretty cool as well. It felt like the Who at Woodstock or something. A few months later, we played our first New York City show at the Mudd Club at 3 a.m., so that personal record for a late start didn’t stand for long.

I mean this is the best possible way, but you sound possessed on “The Days Of Wine And Roses” at the end of the set.
Well, a few bottles of Mickey’s Big Mouth probably didn’t hurt. I used to scream a lot in those days. I didn’t consider myself a singer—I was a ranter. I just enjoyed letting loose and seeing how far I could push myself and the band and the situation in general. Oh, and also I had just had my very recently ex-girlfriend removed from the studio after she had been heckling me all night. Maybe that fired me up as well.

Did she say anything that pissed you off, or was she just being disruptive?
No, we were still pals, and it was just good-natured ribbing. But it was relentless, like some kind of Chinese water torture. Maybe it wasn’t entirely good-natured. Anyway, it was all going out live on the air, and I finally couldn’t take it anymore. Looking back, I do see that it fired me up to a manic point for the last song, so I guess I should thank her now.  

Was Peter Buck really in the audience?
Yes. He tells me about it all the time. He says he came up and said hi to me, but I don’t remember that part. Peter and I have three different versions of how we met. I think it was when he brought the first R.E.M. single to the Rhino Record store in Westwood where I was working. I’m sure I would have been the one to have taken it in on consignment. But really the first time we hung out was about a year later when we were making Medicine Show in San Francisco. R.E.M. had just played a gig, and he and I went out and drank and talked on the beach until the sun came up.

I recently rediscovered the Dream Syndicate’s version of Eric Clapton’s “Let It Rain,” which I’d first heard on The Bigtime Syndrome compilation in college. How did you end up covering that song?
We used to enjoy choosing unlikely covers—always songs we liked but songs that wouldn’t have been considered hip by our peers. So we would do things like “Let It Rain” or “Don’t Fear The Reaper.” I mean, even covering Bob Dylan or Neil Young or Donovan back then was not considered cool by any means. We would just strip the songs down to the basic, most primal elements and then kick them around for a while.  Kind of like we did with our own songs, I guess.

Do you think you’ll ever cover “Tears In Heaven”?
Oh, man. I wouldn’t bet on it. Too many chords.

How has it been playing shows with the reconvened Dream Syndicate?
It’s been great—in some ways, the best of every lineup we ever had. Everyone in the band plays really well, and we all play really well together, very intuitively, but we’re also not afraid to throw that out the window and let things get cathartic and freaky, just like we did back in 1982. It was great from the first reunion show and keeps getting better. I think we can take it in from very interesting directions from here, but for now, we’re just taking it show to show.

Inevitably, these reunions lead to new material. What are the odds of this happening with you guys?
As a fan of the band, I would like to hear that. I’d like that to happen.

What can we expect from the Baseball Project this season?
We’re all really excited about the new record, and we’re looking forward to hitting the road. It’s fun for me to be in a band where I can honestly say that we’re hoping to play as many stadiums as possible.

—Matt Hickey

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MAGNET Exclusive: GBV’s Bob Pollard Deals on Decades-Old Diamond Dominance

Pollard

For reasons unknown, except that it’s the internet, news of Guided By Voices‘ Robert Pollard tossing a no-hitter as a college hurler on May 11, 1978, has gone semi-viral. We noted it in MAGNET’s Top 25 Of 2012 and thought it was relatively common knowledge among diehard GBV fans at the very least. Still, it’s a treat to see Pollard’s mug in the Wright State student newspaper account of his masterpiece, the first no-no in school history.

Given the unlikely resurgence of interest in his mound milestone, we asked Pollard to share any memories he might have of his gem 36 years ago. GBV, by the way, is releasing Motivational Jumpsuit (Guided By Voices Inc.) on February 18. It’s really good, so employ whatever positive baseball metaphor you’d like.

MAGNET: Before the no-hitter, how would you classify your stuff in general? What pitches were in your repertoire?
Pollard: I threw 80 percent fastballs. I threw a lot harder in high school before I injured my arm and developed tennis elbow. I had an imitation slider, which is basically a 3/4-armed curveball that my college coach allowed me to use. I developed a pretty effective curveball in college that I couldn’t control very well, but a lot of hitters would swing at it anyway after seeing predominantly fastballs. I had a decent brushback pitch.

Take us back to the game. What do you remember about it? Do you recall anything about what pitches were working, or any moments where the no-no was in jeopardy?
Well, first of all, I didn’t know that I had a no-hitter going. A run had scored, I guess on a couple of walks and errors, so I had assumed that a hit fell in at some point, which is actually a good thing because it took some pressure off. Also, I wasn’t really feeling that sharp. I only had about six or seven strikeouts, but I guess my placement was good and my team was playing pretty good defense. I struck out the final batter and our bench came running out and mobbed me, and I completely didn’t know what was happening. I was like, “What?” and they were like, “You threw a no-hitter!”

After the no-hitter, did you start to think maybe you were better than you thought? Or did you think it was just a fluke?
My dad has kept records of my pitching throughout my life, and last year he tabulated my best games. I threw 12 no-hitters, 19 one-hitters and 21 two-hitters between the ages of 10 years old and 20 years old.

Did you ever have any games that came close to the Wright State one?
Well, actually, I forgot who I threw the no-hitter against. Indiana something. But anyway, I pitched against them again the following year, at their place, and had a no-hitter going until the sixth inning with an out or two, in a seven-inning game, so I came pretty close again. I had no-hit that team for almost 13 straight innings.

What album of yours would you consider the aural equivalent of a no-hitter?
Of course Bee Thousand. From A Compound Eye. Alien Lanes. Moses On A Snail. It’s funny, I’ve thrown a lot of no-hitters, and I’ve never had a hit song.

—Matt Hickey

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Best Of 2013: Q&A With Okkervil River’s Will Sheff

OkkervilBand

The Silver Gymnasium is Okkervil River’s best album so far. It marks a return to expansive conceptual works like Black Sheep Boy and The Stage Names, but is richer and deeper thanks to the master songwriting of main man Will Sheff. MAGNET’s Phil Sheridan caught up with Sheff by phone from Austin, Texas.

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Q&A With RJD2

RJD2

RJD2—Ramble John Krohn to his mom and dad—has had quite the curious career. The Eugene, Ore., native lives in West Philly, has transitioned from dirty, jazzy hip hop to wonky electropop, leapt from El-P’s Def Jux label in 2004 after several critically acclaimed albums to his own RJ’s Electrical Connections in 2010 (with his The Third Hand LP at the XL label in between). Though he doesn’t think of himself as a film composer, he has one of the most recognizable theme songs ever: AMC’s Mad Men. He doesn’t come across like a band dude, but Icebird, his indie-rock-hop duet with Aaron Livingston, is a sturdy collaboration. Now, he’s changed his sound around completely with one of the most compelling albums of 2013 in More Is Than Isn’t. With its frighteningly memorable chord changes repeated thematically throughout the album, More comes across like Philip Glass scoring one of Ice Cube’s Friday movies. That’s a compliment.

Before I start into your new album, what’s going on with Icebird at this point? Are you excited? It’s been a minute since Abandoned Lullaby. Is Aaron Livingston getting restless? Are you?
Oh, I am definitely getting restless. I periodically bug him about it, but it really hasn’t been that long, though. I was working on my solo album; he has been working on his solo debut for Anti-. We have plans to make that happen in the future, for sure.

Is there anything you haven’t said to El-P that you’d like to say to him? I’m not trying to cause drama. Really just asking, as he was such a large part of your professional and—I assume—personal life.
El and I have our own channels of communication open. We are both grown men who can talk if and when we need to. And yes, you are right about the latter.

How does your relationship with him change when you and Aaron do stuff on your albums—say, the new one, for example?
The protocol for cutting the actual music is almost identical, honestly. I’ll cut some instrumentals, send (them) to him; he picks (songs), demos vocals, and then we get together and cut final vocals at my studio. The decision-making dynamic is one in which we both have a good say in the direction of the song. The critical grease to those wheels is that we have found a way to do that without getting too “absolutist” about it. We both realize we are exploring a song as it is happening.

To me, More Is Than Isn’t sounds as if you’re fiddling with some new production stuff in the technique department. What am I hearing? I can’t put my finger on it. If I’m correct, does that come down to the shift in equipment since your last album?
Yes, you are right, but I’m going to tread delicately with this question, as I am attempting to do as little describing of the sounds on this album as possible before people have a chance to hear it—the experience of listening to an album unencumbered by expectations is a thing I hold in high regard, and work hard to bestow that on folks who listen to my music. I’ll describe what I consider one of the shifts you may be hearing like this: I basically spent a long time trying to create music on a machine that masked its inherent digital or machine-based nature. So, I developed a bunch of techniques on the MPC and in Pro Tools that were meant to sound like a band. I threw a lot of that out the window recently, so I have been exploring the making of music that revels in its machine-based—or digital—nature, rather than trying to hide it. It’s a change in approach and boundary, not a change in gear.

What is your take on the electro-dance scene? As a DJ, you can probably make a mint, but I don’t see of you doing many club gigs in Vegas. Nor do I consider that your bag.
I have found a big inspiration in one aspect of EDM’s popularity: It changed my viewpoint of how palatable instrumental, beat-oriented music is for a large number of people. This kind of interjected a “let my hair down” mentality into making music. I never felt that putting three to five instrumental songs in a row was risky, in terms of losing one’s attention, if you will. When I find myself in club/DJ land, I still don’t feel pressure to play what’s popular. I play music I like, period—so I’m probably not high on the priority list for Vegas residencies, and that’s OK with me. I’d be happy to do them on my own terms if I was offered them. I have no desire to wade through requests or get booted off the decks for not conforming.

Still, you embrace big beats and clubby stuff on the new album.
Dance music is just like every other music for me—you sift through the chaff to find the wheat.

Tell me the idea behind utilizing the same harmonic theme through several of the new album’s instrumental pieces. I know you have a cinematic-soundtrack head, and that theme sounds vaguely familiar, like a cross between Laura and Fire Walk With Me.
I’m glad you caught that. Again, I don’t want to give away too much for folks who haven’t heard it, but the thing you are referring to was the taking one harmonic idea and exploring it three different ways. Another way to put it is like this: The process of what happens between when a song starts and when it’s completed is infinitely fascinating to me. I’m completely enamored with that experience. So, I asked myself, “What would the outcome sound like if you picked the same starting point—a harmonic idea or chord change—and walked through that process three times, knowing that was the intent?” I also was very much trying to bring cohesion to the record.

Speaking of soundtrack stuff, is “Her Majesty’s Socialist Request” your bid to get the Broccoli family and Daniel Craig to pay attention to your services?
Full disclosure here: I’m Googling the Broccoli family right now—OK, done Googling. No, it actually was a Stones reference. When I finished the song, I realized that I had just made an attempt to make the most evil, satanic take on a 12-bar-blues structure. The name “Her Majesty’s Satanic 12 Bar Blues” came to mind, but it didn’t roll off the tongue or page right. Mentally, an association between satanism and socialism struck me, largely because many Americans treat the word “socialism” like the most sadistic, evil thing you could possibly bring up. So, that substitution happened, and in my head, it made sense—sometimes that’s all you need for a song title to work.

When you bring cats such as Livingston, Phonte Coleman, Blueprint and Khari Mateen into the picture, are you discussing the concept behind the track and letting them rip? But then, what if they come back with a set of lyrics not to your liking or your own needs or beliefs?
Good question! By and large, I do just let ’em do what they do—I don’t try to box them in, at least initially. There’s a point where scrubbing a song free of any possible objectionable lyric content kills off the creative process that can make the song work. My general ethos is to get it down on tape, and go back to edit if need be. It’s happened in the past. There’s a threshold beyond which I’m not willing to go, but maybe some language isn’t something I use daily, but is a reality in American culture, depending on context, and I can live with it. I look just as much as the intent as I do the choice of words. Jay-Z has had a field day of toying with the line between intent and “possible interpretation.” I believe that the intent behind any song on the record is good-natured, even if someone might have objections to the colorful language. If I felt that a song was communicating a message of true malice or degradation, I would have a problem with that.

What should we figure out about you—as a musician and as a person—during More Is Than Isn’t that we didn’t know before?
Nothing. I don’t make records as a vessel to pitch anything about myself. I use myself as a vessel to pitch you on a record.

—A.D. Amorosi

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Q&A With Richard Barone

RichardBarone

Richard Barone is an example to all of us who get trapped in our daily grind. He seems to be the perpetual glass-half-full kind of guy. He admits he feels pretty much the same way he did 30 years ago when Barone on lead vocals and guitar along with bassist Rob Norris and drummer Frank Giannini gave birth to the Bongos, a wonderful, jangly power-pop combo that could light up any room with its overflowing energy. It’s difficult to believe that their new album, Phantom Train (Jem), is not really new at all. With guitarist James Mastro added to the band, it was cut in 1985 and 1986 and has languished on the shelf ever since. Barone has also kindly agreed to serve as guest editor for magnetmagazine.com all week.

MAGNET: I was surprised to discover something this exciting by the Bongos has been sitting in the can for so long.
Barone: There will be some more Bongos releases next year, like a special edition of Drums Along The Hudson. Unfortunately, we all live in different states, but I love working with the Bongos.

The Bongos and R.E.M. seemed like a perfect musical fit. You were pals with them, right?
I did a lot of work with Mitch Easter, the Nuts & Bolts album, I believe, and while I was there in North Carolina he wanted me to hear this band he’d just recorded, and that was R.E.M.’s first single, “Radio Free Europe.” And I really loved it. I have always been in love with record production and still am. The production of R.E.M. at that time was just a band in the room kind of sound, which I’ve always liked, but at that time I was trying to do something different.

What was it like to move to New York in the early ’80s and jump right into that legendary scene?
It was all a blur for me. Suddenly, I was playing with a band we called “a” and it morphed gradually into what became the three Bongos. We were friends. Frank Giannini was playing me Abba records. I was into this very sparse, four-piece band sound. I really liked the Ramones. Between what Frank, the drummer, was listening to harmony-wise and I was listening to guitar-wise, we formed the Bongos.

I always assumed you guys were listening to Talking Heads, too.
They’re dear friends of mine. And I really liked Eno’s work with Talking Heads, but “a” was more influenced by Talking Heads. In fact, that was what made “a” different from the Bongos was the Talking Heads influence.

Did the Bongos play CBGB and Max’s Kansas City?
We never played CBGB, but we played Max’s plenty of times. That was so cool because of its connection with Andy Warhol. We played there with Jayne County all the time. We liked those late, crazy shows and that trans-sexual thing. The Bongos always played these very different kind of bills, like with Klaus Nomi in New York. We were always interested in pushing some boundaries in terms of who we did shows with. And CBGB was too typical about that kind of thing. We were very snooty about that kind of thing. The Bongos liked to play more places where people could dance. We would go to CBGB to see other bands. When I first got to New York, I would go to CBGB every night for a week to see the Ramones.

Is it still exciting, living in New York?
New York is such a great place. I feel like a 12-year old kid when I go out. Every night there’s something happening. I saw the Zombies play the other night at the Cutting Room. As much as I travel, I still get homesick for New York. It’s going on 24 hours a day and it really doesn’t stop.

The bands I always associated you with were the Feelies and the dB’s, two of the best from that post-Ramones, Talking Heads, Television, Blondie era.
I loved the Feelies. They started a little ahead of us, so we were big fans. Rob Norris and I went to see them for the first time at a rock/dance club called Hurrah! They were amazing. We reached out to them immediately. We befriended them and started doing double-bills with them. Rob  still plays bass with Glenn Mercer. And, of course, we’re very close with the dB’s. I’ve worked with Peter Holsapple in many different ways. He’s directed shows that I’ve done. And I’m in touch with Chris Stamey all the time. We love the dB’s. We went to London and played the Rainbow Theatre with them in ’81. They don’t play as much these days as they used to.

Well, we’re all getting older, Richard. Except for you, that is. Is there a portrait of you in somebody’s attic that keeps you looking so young, a la Dorian Grey? You don’t look a day older than when I first saw the Bongos 30 years ago. How do you do it? Don’t be modest, now. Tell me the truth.
Well, I do go to the gym every day, and I like to have a good time. If there’s any secret, it’s that I have a good time with everything I do. I really mean that, whether I’m onstage or hanging out with my friends. I approach everything pretty much the same way I did when I was a teenager. And I feel it’s part of my job to do that because I’m doing pop music. That’s where it comes from. And whatever experiences I have are in the songs, and I express them with the same enthusiasm I had when I was 18.

How does Phantom Train sound to you, after all this time?
We began and finished it back in the day. I think it’s my favorite of the Bongos albums. It combines that raw “band in the room” quality that I really do like with the high production quality that I love, making it larger than life when it needs to be. I thought Phantom Train was the first time we hit just the right balance between the two. Numbers With Wings came close, but that was literally larger than life with a widescreen. Phantom Train we got both the band sound and the larger-than-life production.

So, why didn’t it come out back then?
It was a strange turn of events. We’d literally been on this “phantom train” for the past five years, and we couldn’t get off. We were going from tour to studio and tour to studio. And it began to take its toll on us in some ways. We were fried. You may notice a lot of the lyrics are about escaping and being on a train that’s going nowhere. It came to a point we needed some kind of a break that wasn’t even discussed between us. My break was to play some acoustic solo shows in the West Village. I lived right in the midst of all these great clubs like the Village Vanguard, and I kept thinking how nice it would be to play one of them, especially since the Bongos were playing 300 shows a year. So I started playing acoustic shows with Nick Celeste on acoustic guitar and Jane Scarpantoni on cello. It sounded so good, very low key and a lot of fun. By the time we played the Bottom Line, we recorded the show live, and that became Cool Blue Halo. And the Phantom Train album just sat on the shelf.

—Jud Cost

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Q&A With Jon Wurster

Jon Wurster

To call Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster “Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster,” while true, is a bit limiting. He also keeps time full-time (and tours constantly) with Bob Mould and the Mountain Goats, contributes hilarity to The Best Show On WFMU With Tom Scharpling and maintains one of the most reliably funny Twitter feeds (random tweet: “I have napped four times today. #HardcorePunk”). Superchunk is touring behind its 10th LP, I Hate Music (Merge), minus founding bassist Laura Ballance, who has retired from live shows due to hearing issues. (Wurster’s current Mould and former Robert Pollard bandmate Jason Narducy is filling in.) While traveling from gigs to home and to more gigs, Wurster answered a few questions about Ballance’s absence, Twitter, documentaries and his love of denim. He’s also guest editing magnetmagazine.com this week.

MAGNET: You’re basically a full-time member of three bands at this point. How do manage it all?
Wurster: There’ve been a few scheduling challenges, but things usually work out. It just means I’m constantly doing something, which is a good problem to have. The toughest thing is when two of the bands, usually Bob or Superchunk, play back to back at a festival. It’s hard on my body but really devastating to my ears. Also, being gone 250 days a year means my personal life essentially consists of me, a bowl of popcorn and DVR’d episodes of Locked Up Abroad.

Superchunk had close to a decade where you guys didn’t do much together, and now you’ve had two records in a relatively short time span.
Yeah, by 2001, I was kind of over it. Not the people in the band, just where we were 10 years in, for me, and what we were doing musically. I was tired of our sound. I didn’t really love (2001’s Here’s To Shutting Up), and the tour for it was pretty dismal—understandably so, coming on the heels of 9/11. By the last show (Washington, D.C, Nov. 26, 2001), I just felt like that era of the band was over.  I wanted to call it a day—just have it be done so it wouldn’t be hanging over us. I wanted to play with other people and see what else was out there. But Mac (McCaughan) floated the idea of not ending the band, just having it not be the foremost thing in our lives. And that seemed like an OK idea. We played a few shows a year and recorded a handful of songs from 2001 to 2009, but we were definitely on hiatus. When the idea came to start playing more shows around 2009 or thereabouts, it might have been me who suggested doing a new LP. Jim (Wilbur) thinks it was. I definitely didn’t want to just go out and do a “Sweatin’ To The ’90s” kind of thing. Mac wrote a fantastic bunch of songs for (Majesty Shredding), so it was really exciting and inspiring to do it again. Same with this new record.

What has it been like to be in that sort of routine, for lack of a better word, again with the band?
It’s been great because we all have lives and we’ve grown up. Superchunk isn’t life or death anymore. When you’re young and in a band, everything is so incredibly important. For me it was, anyway. We take it seriously, but it’s not the end of the world if only 100 people come to see us in Richmond.

What is it about the dynamic between the four of you that allowed for that break and then this spurt of activity? You guys obviously didn’t break up and clearly have a bond.
We’ve remained friends. We don’t hang out much, if ever, but we basically lived together for 10 years in a van, so there’s really no need to at this point. When we get together to rehearse or record, it’s fun. We catch up and joke around. The being away from each other for large stretches makes the times you reconvene so much more enjoyable. I have the same experience with the Mountain Goats and the Bob Mould Band.

How did you end up finding out about Laura’s hearing issue?
I feel like she was really starting to talk about it when we toured for the last record. There were some venues in Japan that were really unsympathetic to loud music, and those shows were especially hard on the ears. This is in no way belittling her hearing problem, but I definitely have the same issues. I think I just always saw it as the price of doing this. My ears have been ringing since ’95, and I’ve been wearing heavy-duty earplugs the entire time.

She has said that she isn’t quitting the band and looks forward to making more records, but is there any doubt or worry in your mind that that could change?
I have no idea. I don’t worry about it because I honestly haven’t worried about Superchunk for the last 10 years. I love doing it when we do it, but when we aren’t doing it, I don’t think about it. We all have other things going on, and Superchunk is something nice to come back to every once in a while. If we don’t do anything again after this record, that’s OK.

Do you think Superchunk would continue if she said she had to quit?
I don’t know. The idea of touring without her came up before, and I was against it. I’m always a little skeptical when I see a band play with additional people or replacements—I know, I know, I’m a replacement—but we had a record coming out and we wanted to play shows to support it. I’ve been looking at it like R.E.M. when Bill (Berry) left. He was still part of the family, he just wasn’t there onstage. I have absolutely no idea what the future holds for us, and I like that.

Do you guys ever consider or talk about the band’s future, or do you just see how it plays out naturally?
We never made long-range plans, and I think that’s what has allowed us to keep going so long—that and there’s almost no chance of us ever getting dropped by our label.

What kind of legacy do you think the band has at this point?
I said this in the Merge book (Our Noise: The Story Of Merge Records) and some people—nobody in the band—seemed a bit annoyed by it: I think we will be remembered more for the way we did things than for our actual music. Superchunk’s made a lot of great music, but the fact that we basically did it ourselves most of the time and that two founding members went on to form one of the most successful independent record labels of the last 25 years is what we will most be remembered for.

You have a very active and hilarious Twitter feed. What is it about that form of communication that suits you or appeals to you?
I travel constantly, and it’s fun to comment on the crazy things I see every day. It’s also allowed me to take complaining to a new and more creative level.

We’ve learned a few things about you following you on Twitter. First of all, your love of denim. What’s the story there?
Actually, it’s just denim jackets. It started in 2009 when I bought a Levi’s jean jacket. I’d never really owned one before, and I began calling it The Denim Jacket™ on Twitter as a joke. I like how light they are and that the more you wear them, the better they look. But what I love most are the inner pockets. They hold everything I need to be a productive citizen: pens, keys, cell phone, airplane tickets, hand sanitizer, gum, rabies medicine.

You also have a fascination with Kiss, with one of the greatest series of tweets being the excerpts from Peter Criss’ autobiography (Makeup To Breakup: My Life In And Out Of Kiss). Explain that one.
My Kiss problem is interesting. I was a huge fan from ages 10 to 13, but then I completely lost interest. Just before the original lineup got back together in ’96, I became fascinated by the band’s inner workings. I wanted to know everything about how and why they did the things they did. I can’t say I listen to their music much, but I will buy any book or DVD about Kiss. Last year, I got an advance copy of the Peter Criss book, which I didn’t know was an advance copy. I thought it was already out. This book, he definitely lets it all hang out and leaves no bridge unburned. It really is only a notch below Mӧtley Crüe’s The Dirt in terms of hilarious accounts of drug-fueled sex—“We fucked nine times that night, even using the bidet, I had no idea what a bidet was”—and pure insanity. At one point, Peter’s pre-Kiss band escaped physical confinement in their creepy manager’s mansion only to be lured back and held captive again. As I got further into the book, I started tweeting the good bits. Someone at Peter’s publisher saw the tweets and became a little alarmed that I was tweeting passages from this book that wasn’t even out yet. But it turns out the co-author, Larry Sloman, was a fan of The Best Show, and he vouched for me and told them it might actually help sell more copies.

You tweet a lot about documentaries. What’s your favorite of all-time, and what’s a recent one you’d recommend?
My favorite documentary, maybe even my favorite movie of all-time, is called Overnight. It’s the story of Troy Duffy, a screenwriter/director/musician whose every dream comes true and the stellar flameout that follows. Recent documentaries I’ve liked include The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, Source Family, A Band Called Death, Weedle’s Groove, Kumare and Bus 174.

Lastly, and this pre-dates Twitter, but you’re known for your WordHate™ series where you rank annoying words. How did that get started?
I don’t think I can say it any better than I did the last time I stopped by the MAGNET offices. The good doctor’s prayer is still the WordHate™ gold standard.

Since I have at least your somewhat undivided attention, please do me the favor of chiming in on three. First up: “webinar.”
The word is terrible, but I recently attended one on corporate synergy and strategizing that was utterly fascinating.

“Artisanal.”
Well, that one’s OK because it has “anal” in it.

And, finally, “rockin’” as in “Wilbur is rockin’ that polo shirt.”
Awful. This interview is over.

—Matt Hickey

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A Conversation With The Waterboys’ Mike Scott

Waterboys

Mike Scott is pop’s only literate lyricist who would dare take on the stately iconography of William Butler Yeats. Forget about the living proof provided by his band the Waterboys as they tackle the Irishman’s prickly poems through a series of 14 daringly diverse arrangements on the new An Appointment With Mr. Yeats (Proper American). You’d know that if you’ve listened to Scott’s richly robust catalog of Waterboys albums made since 1983, or even read his recently released book, Adventures Of A Waterboy. Though imbued with an intellectual curiosity beyond that of the most wizened scholar, Scott has long found himself inspired by Yeats’ vivid world-weary lyrical textures and smartly grammatical manner. On the other hand, he’s a big Twitter fan. Go figure. Scott will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

What makes you fond of Twitter? I see that you’re active. I must say, I can’t imagine how you cram your wordy literary aplomb into 140 characters.
I love the way people use Twitter to make pithy but pointed statements. The limitation, the whole 140-character limit, is a great spur toward brevity and focus. When used to its best, Twitter is a strong medium for wit, sharpness and intellectual rigor. Plus I’ve made great friends there: Rosanne Cash, author Dan Levitin, singer and novelist John Wesley Harding, to name but three.

Lyrically, musically and collaboratively, what do you see—honestly—as the trajectory of your Waterboys albums? The new one feels more brusque and muscular as it winds its way through Yeats’ texts. Your voice sounds breathy and scuffed.
The first three are the evolution of the early layered Waterboys sound, culminating in (1985’s) This Is The Sea. The next two—Fisherman’s Blues and Room To Roam—are the rootsy albums we made in Ireland, and to my imagination, they sound kaleidoscopically colorful, and are full of great memories. Then there is the sequence of albums I made both with and without the Waterboys in the 1990s and early 2000s, which are variations on the exploration of spirituality, the mysteries of consciousness, ways of seeing myself and the world and framing those in the skin of a song. They are the inner-exploration albums. Since then, it’s back to the world.

I enjoyed seeing you read from Adventures Of A Waterboy with an acoustic set of your faves following. Does it feel as if you have to constantly reintroduce America to your comings and goings?
Yes. Because we didn’t tour consistently enough here when the band started and establish ourselves, we are constantly catching up now. But I’ve got myself an apartment in New York, and I’ve hired some brilliant New York-based musicians, so expect to see more of the Waterboys in North America from here on in.

There are so many great author autobiographies. I’m recently keen on Future Indefinite by Noël Coward, along with—on a non-author tip—My Inventions by Nikola Tesla. Was there a model from which you gleaned to shape your book?
I’ve read lots of biographies, including many music ones, but there was no example on which I drew for the shape or tone of mine. I wanted my own voice, and let the events of my life shape the text’s narrative structure.

I know that you’re writing for yourself, that you cannot consider how quick on the uptake your readers or listeners are. But do you ever think that they might not fully grasp your use of metaphor, anthropomorphism or metonymy?
I think that I always work to make my lyrics understandable. I also think I’ve got better at that over the years. I like a song where various meanings are possible, of course, but I see no point in being sloppy and misleading people.

I want to duck back to the notion of America for a moment. I know that at your musical career’s beginning, you had a great feel for American-born folk, gospel and country—Fisherman’s Blues and This Is The Sea most certainly. From the instrumentation down through your love of Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie, and your use of Bob Johnston as producer, the work reeked of the American. What do you think of us now? And what do you think we think of you now—especially after all your time in New York City?
American music has influenced me more than I can say, but I prefer the music you made from 1920 to 1970—jazz, Broadway, blues, gospel, rock ‘n’ roll, proper R&B, counterculture, soul—than anything made since. And what do you lot think of me? Ain’t got a clue.

You certainly have shown connection to Robert Burns, C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald in your lyrics. Why has Yeats stood beyond that lot and stayed so—you picked on him for “The Stolen Child” on Fisherman’s Blues and “Love And Death” and “The Song Of The Rosy Cross.” What made you want to do an album of all-Yeats as opposed to, say, Lewis?
Yeats wrote so many lyrics that work as songs. Simple as that. If Lewis had written brilliant poems that rhymed and scanned, and expressed a non-denominational, un-boundaried spirituality, I’d have set them to music, but he didn’t. Burns was a great poet—none finer, and as a Scotsman I’m fiercely proud of him—but he has been set to music definitely over the years by a myriad of composers and singer. I had nothing to add there.

Being that you’ve used C.S. Lewis as an influence in your work, how do you see Yeats take on religion as it relates to your own—and how did that affect what and where you went on Appointment With? And how are the personal questions of God’s role still part of your daily existence?
Yeats is marvelously free of religious limitations. Lewis was a great writer, and a great man, but the Christian framework of much of his work renders it frustrating to a non-Christian like me. Yes, there are still spiritual truths to glean from what he wrote—spirituality itself is beyond religious differences and specifics—but it makes it a job of work to translate, and to filter out the dogma. So, it is refreshing to read Yeats, who, like Whitman or Blake, goes straight to spirit, addresses it as a force in his life and ours, and doesn’t get fixed or stuck in a particular system or jargon. As for me, I went through around 14 years of intense spiritual education and reading and experience, from 1992 to 2005, and I’m still absorbing what I learned. Paradoxically, I don’t need to be reading or thinking about spiritual matters at the moment—just getting on with life, testing my knowledge in the field of deeds, as the song says.

Did you decide what poems, texts and “ballads” of his you wanted to use before you got into a studio? How were these particular words picked?
Yes, the adaptations were all done before we recorded An Appointment With. I chose whichever poems suggested a melody in my mind. I effectively made myself available to the poems, without imposing my own selection on them.

From there, you don’t seem to have been precious about trimming or reshaping Yeats’ original phrasing. Tell me a little bit about that process. I know you’re audacious and ballsy, but it takes big balls to reconfigure such classic texts.
I figure that for Yeats’ poems to live and breathe as contemporary song lyrics, I had to not approach them as museum pieces or sacred cows. In the folk tradition, words and tunes are constantly adapting, and so I brought some of that attitude to Yeats. If I wanted to go where the poems sent me musically, I had to make some little changes, sometimes merging two poems to make one song, or losing a line or even a verse if it didn’t serve the shape of the song. But I worked with the absolute rule that I would never change Yeats’ intention or meaning. Also that I would never insert any lyrics of my own among Yeats’. That, to my thinking, would be the height of arrogance, and when I’ve come across other artists doing that, I’m very dismayed indeed. It is so wrong.

On Appointment, there are a dozen different musical mood swings. How did you allow the musical settings to coincide with his words? Was it something organic where his words told you what to do, or did you have this palette that you wanted to use as paints behind and through his words?
The words directed the music. The poems, in effect, told me where to take the music. From there, I had my own palette of styles and skills to work with, though I managed to expand that when a poem—for example, “News For The Delphic Oracle” or “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death”—pushed me into what were for me unexplored musical territories.

Sounds corny, I know, but was he alive and collaborating with you in a sense? Did Yeats physically bring out other voices within you?
I felt the will and personality of the poems, not the poet. To do my job properly, and to be as ruthless in my artistic decisions as the job required, I had to be uninhibited by the weight of Yeats’ reputation.

—A.D. Amorosi

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Q&A With Chris Stamey

ChrisStamey

Although Chris Stamey is best known as being part of the original dB’s, the legendary jangle-pop combo from Winston Salem, N.C., that sprouted wings when they moved to NYC in the late ’70s, his solo work has always been equally fascinating. Soon after cutting Stands For deciBels and Repercussion, the seminal band’s longplayers tracked in the early ’80s, Stamey pulled up stakes and returned to churning out his own hackle-raising sound. He has resurfaced recently as part of a fertile duo with Peter Holsapple, but it’s albums like his current solo release, Lovesick Blues (Yep Roc), that keep his one-man trip smoldering like a late-October controlled burn in the N.C. tobacco fields while light rain begins to fall. MAGNET recently caught up with Stamey, who will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

“Astronomy” (download):

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Q&A With David Chase

NotFadeAway

MAGNET’s Jonathan Valania recently sat down with Sopranos creator David Chase to talk about his new movie, Not Fade Away, a weedy coming-of-age dramedy about being young, horny and trying to be the Rolling Stones in the teenage wasteland of suburban New Jersey in the mid-’60s. There’s sex. There’s drugs. There’s rock n’ roll, in the form of an impeccably-curated soundtrack and convincing scenes of the band trying to kick out the jams in garages and basements. There’s James Gandolfini as the hey-you-kids-get-off-of-my-lawn father, shaking his fist at the longhairs from the wrong side of the generation gap—something even he eventually figures out. And the ending is just as wonderfully ambiguous as the fadeout of The Sopranos, only the music’s better. Discussed: Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Orson Welles’ Touch Of Evil, the meaning of the end of Antonioni’s Blow-Up, Jagger/Richards, Chinatown, the Sex Pistols, Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers, Dylan’s wig and why Chase will have to answer for making Journey cool again when he meets his maker.

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