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Nor’easter Festival 2011

Apollo Run: Runnin’ Shit at Nor’easter Festival 2011

Posted on by Caroline in Nor'easter Festival 2011 | Leave a comment

At this year’s Nor’easter Festival, I had the opportunity to bro out with all three of the Apollo Run boys after their killer set.  The trio brought the noise to the Nor’easter stage, tearing through tracks with so much energy that it could have sent my lazy ass up the Nor’easter pro climbing wall with the greatest of ease.  Not only did John, Jeff and Graham bring an arena-style presence to the venue, which was a feat in itself, but it turns out that offstage, they’re three down-to-earth guys with spirit and charm to spare.

When we sat down to chat, I first addressed their tabloid-inspired tune, “Charlie Sheen’s Got Tiger Blood Man,” which aside from being catchy as hell, has become a small-scale YouTube hit.  While they have opted not to play the song at live shows for the time being, the band is thankful for the press they’ve garnered from the video.  At first glance, the puckish song may seem like it doesn’t fit with the band’s more serious orchestral-rock sound.  However, John says, “the song’s melody and structure is similar to our other songs,” which helps Apollo Run to gain listeners who may have never even found them in the first place.  Charlie Sheen, bringing the people together as always.

A highlight of seeing Apollo Run live is watching lead singer John McGrew hit defiant high note after high note. I was hoping that John had some sort of OCD ritual to help him blast through his vocals (like Jim James of My Morning Jacket, who pictures himself riding in a rocketship with Roy Orbison), but his methodology is much less complex. “Breathing,” he says, “that’s all it is.  If you’re not breathing, you’re not going to hit the high notes.” I guess we believe that it’s that easy, John. But I mean, if I find out he gargles snake venom to perfect his vocals, I won’t be all that surprised.

While McGrew’s heavenly voice may evoke comparisons to icons like Jeff Buckley, Apollo Run doesn’t actively look to their heroes for songwriting inspiration.  “It’s the book you’re reading, or the day that you’ve had, not the music you’re listening to you,” they profess. They take inspiration from all aspects of life, including the geek-chic book & television series, Game of Thrones, just in case you didn’t already love these guys. While Graham did give a specific shout-out to Jesus (hey, he’s not a bad guy), Apollo Run primarily lets their experiences, rather than individuals, guide their songwriting process.

The band recently released their 2nd EP, Here Be Dragons Vol. 2, and they’ll continue to tour to promote those tracks.  Come November, they’ll be hitting the studio to cap off the Here Be Dragons trilogy with a full-length LP.  And what can you expect from HBD 3? And I quote, verbatim: “More dragons, love, heartbreak, turmoil, battles, sex, drugs, rock & roll. Awesome bass work, epic drumming, twists and turns.” Apollo Run, you had me at “more dragons.”

While we anxiously wait for Vol. 3 to drop, you can anticipate the band to tour up and down the eastern seaboard in the meantime. Check out their show line-up at the following link: http://www.apollorun.com/shows/.

 

 

Nor’easter Festival 2011: Interview with Tan Vampires

Posted on by Eric in Nor'easter Festival 2011 | Leave a comment

I started transcribing this interview (mainly because Apollo Run is rocking out so hard in the background), but then after I got halfway through I realized that the written version of the interview wasn’t really capturing the tone of the conversation we had at all. These guys have known each other for the better part of ten years and that truly shows when you talk to them.

They are comfortable with each other not only when jamming through tunes from their debut record, but also off the stage, chatting with a music fan that they just met, also known as yours truly. The conversation didn’t get off to a great start (you will hear the awkwardness that I created within the first 10 seconds of meeting these guys…), but after lead singer Jake Mehrmann talked about his experience with the RPM Challenge the rest of the band began to open up and soon enough we were talking about things that really matter– like their favorite vampire movies.

Take a listen to the full interview below while enjoying a few Apollo Run tunes in the background, now that’s a two for one deal.

Tan Vampires Full Interview

Nor’easter Festival 2011: Interview with Joe Fletcher

Posted on by Eric in Nor'easter Festival 2011 | Leave a comment

The Nor’easter Festival provided us with some great opportunities to chat with artists and one of the most enjoyable conversations we had all weekend was with Joe Fletcher. Along with his band, The Wrong Reasons, Fletcher played on Day 1 of the festival and it was safe to say that his music was the most heavily influenced by country music of the ’60s out of any band in the lineup.

It was also safe to say that Fletcher was the best storyteller on the Nor’easter stage over the course of the weekend. Some of our favorite songs from his set like “Drunk and Single” and “Womanizer Blues” have timeless themes, but still make you feel like you should be playing a card game and drinking whiskey in an 1800s style saloon.

We met up with Joe after his set and discussed drugs, sex, rock and roll and Rhode Island. Well maybe not the first two, but we all know how sexy Rhode Island is anyways. Read on for the full interview and also a video of Joe playing “Too Many Doors” with Dave and MorganEve of Brown Bird, courtesy of our friends at Kitchen Sessions.

Maimed & Tamed: One of our writers went to school down in Providence and wanted to ask– what is your favorite place to grab a drink in Providence?

Joe Fletcher: My favorite place to drink in Providence umm… I don’t know how long ago she was there, but there is this place called the E & O Tap. I like that place, it’s a cool little bar right around the corner from where I live. A friend of mine owns it and it’s a really nice place. There are lots of great bars in Providence, plenty to choose from, but that is probably the one I frequent most often.

M&T: You played your song “Drunk and Single” in your set this afternoon, so what are you drinking to get you to that single man’s mindset?

JF: I actually quit drinking a few years ago [M&T Note: Major props to Joe]. The reason I am able to maintain a healthy relationship today is because I am no longer drinking. That is a biographical song in a way, I would just forget that I had a girlfriend pretty much any time that I drank.

M&T: Now you’ve kicked the habit and you got a good song out of it too

JF: Yeah I did, I like that song a lot

M&T: We were down at the Newport Folk Festival this year and really enjoyed some of the local bands, we love Brown Bird and did a pre-festival interview with them–

JF: I was actually their guitar tech at the Folk Festival this year. When we played at the Monkey House we were on a one week tour with them and they also play on our newest record.

M&T: And you have also done some work in the past with other Rhode Island bands like Deer Tick and The Low Anthem, right?

JF: Oh yea we have played shows with both of them. Deer Tick has been real good to us, John McCauley sings on our new record too and Chris Ryan, their bass player, played with us. The last song we played today, “Too Many Doors,” John sings on that on the record and Chris plays bass. We’ve played a bunch of shows with them over the years and we just played a big one up in Portland, Maine not too long ago. They’re always trying to help us out, so I guess that makes them actual fans of the band.

The Low Anthem, I just had dinner with those guys not too long ago and they’ve always helped us out as well. We’ve opened for them a number of times, around Providence mainly. With Brown Bird, I’ve known Dave [Lamb] for like five years now and we’ve been playing shows together before MorganEve [Swain] was in the band. I actually knew them separately before they got together and started playing together.

Chris [Owens] and I, we do a lot of shows just the two of us in smaller places for some quieter shows and that’s what we did last week with Brown Bird. Three shows in Vermont and a couple in western Massachusetts. Dave joins us playing his drum about halfway through the set and MorganEve comes up and sings. They all come up and do “Too Many Doors” with us and we’ve had The Low Anthem do “Too Many Doors” in the past with us too. It’s a big sing-along song.

M&T: Do you think that playing in and around Providence is a good place for a band to break into the folk music scene? Of course Newport Folk Festival being nearby helps, but do you think it is a good place for young folk acts?

JF: I think it’s good for a few reasons, and one of the best is that geographically it is a great place. You can get to New York fairly easy, Boston is an hour away, Providence has its own vibrant music scene, Portland is three hours away, we got here [Burlington, Vermont] in four and a half. I have friends that play in bands in Denver and they have to drive like nine hours to Kansas City for the next big metropolitan area. We’ve got so many here that we are just constantly on the circuit.

I don’t know if it is the place for folk musically specifically, but The Low Anthem and Deer Tick definitely brought some attention to the town in that way. There is a lot of people doing that kind of stuff there now, so it’s got a little bit of a name for that kind of music now. It’s becoming less weird, like when I first started with the Wrong Reasons six years ago, back in the beginning it was like what are you doing play this kind of music living here? Now I get that question a lot less often.

M&T: Where are you guys headed next?

JF: We’re off until Friday, we just finished a long string of shows and then Chris and I are going down to Alabama. We have a two and a half week tour to Alabama and back and then we have some shows around that same Maine, New York, Providence circuit.

Nor’easter Festival 2011: Interview with Kingsley Flood

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Kicking off the Nor’easter Festival was local Boston favorite Kingsley Flood. They didn’t let the weather bring them down, cruising through tracks from their debut Dust Windows while testing out some new jams off of their yet to be named EP set for release this winter.

After their set we chatted with lead singer Naseem Khuri and bassist Nick Balkin about their upcoming run of shows at Lizard Lounge, Boston music and bears. Yes, bears.

For the full interview read on below and make sure to check out “Cul de Sac,” one of our favorites from Dust Windows.

Maimed & Tamed: You guys are playing three shows coming up at the Lizard Lounge in December, could you talk a little bit about what you guys are doing for the new EP?

Nick Balkin: For the new EP it’s going to be six songs and I think the idea for doing three shows at the Lizard was that we could treat it like we were curating a very small festival. We’ve been able to play so many shows on the road and we have met so many great bands from out of town that we wanted to have a chance to bring them into Boston. If we do three shows at Lizard it means we get to bring in more bands and show more of our fans these bands that we have been able to discover on the road.

M&T: What are some of your favorite bands around Boston that you would tell our readers to listen to?

Naseem Khuri: We love Mean Creek, and we’re hopefully doing something with them in the future. Viva Viva is another band we love and Girls Guns and Glory is just a straight-up kick-ass country band. It shows the eclectic nature of Boston music where we may fall somewhere in between Girls Guns and Mean Creek.

M&T: How has it been working on the new EP when you [Naseem] are in DC and the rest of the band is up in Boston?

NK: I’m not home very much, but we have been recording mostly in Somerville at Q Division Studios. It’s great, I basically live there and on Nick’s couch and that’s how we roll.

M&T: On the first album, Dust Windows, what made you guys choose Vermont for a spot to record?

NK: Vermont is a wonderful state and we are currently enjoying it very much right now. We really wanted to work in a remote atmosphere and Pete Weiss was the one who engineered it and he’s got this great studio called Verdant Studios. It’s in the middle of nowhere and for our first record it was a hell of a way to sort of congeal and be cohesive and really get to know these songs well.

NB: There’s nothing else to do there, it’s out in the middle of nowhere and you don’t even get cell phone reception in most parts of the area. It brings you deeper and deeper into the music, and makes sure that you’re getting really into it.

M&T: Last question– where did the idea for the “I Don’t Wanna Go Home” video come from?

NK: We really wanted to show the plight of bears who are just trying to get by. I mean it’s a hard world for bears and in this economy they have to resort to stealing honey, there’s no other way to do it. We were just really concerned that they were not getting the attention that they deserve.

NB: Things are tough all over, especially for bears these days. Didn’t it actually come to you in a dream, didn’t you have a dream about it? But it was much darker where the bears were all dead at the end?

NK: Yeah it did and if we had a bigger budget there would have been explosions, but right now we just have people tackling the bears because that was cheaper. One day our vision will be implemented, those bears will explode.

Nor’easter Festival 2011: River City Extension Talks About New Record

Posted on by Eric in Nor'easter Festival 2011 | Leave a comment

After witnessing their crowd-pleasing performance at this year’s Newport Folk Festival, we knew that River City Extension would certainly bring a similar energy to the Nor’easter Festival this past weekend. Whenever I am talking about River City Extension (which is quite often since Newport) people ask me what they are like and I casually mention that they have played SXSW, Bonnaroo, Warped Tour and Newport Folk Festival all in the past year. That usually clarifies absolutely nothing and begs the follow-up question– “Wait Newport and Warped Tour?”

With a band whose personalities are as unique as their music we were glad that we were able to catch up with band members Dan Melius (horns) and Pat O’Brien (keys) to chat about their new record. The band treated the Nor’easter crowd to “There and Back Again” which is set to be included on the new album that is (tentatively (we think…)) called Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Anger. Read on below for the full interview with Dan and Pat and check out their performance of “South for the Winter” from Newport Folk Festival 2011.

Maimed & Tamed: How is work coming along on the new record?

Dan Melius: We’ve got about 4 or 5 tunes that are pretty set and the rest of it we haven’t even touched yet. Joe [lead singer Joe Michelini] wrote the songs so he’s got ideas and we’ve all got ideas too. The beauty of it is that there is eight of us coming from so many different backgrounds and when you get all of that together you come up with something kinda cool because everybody is open to working together.

M&T: How has the recording process worked for you guys in the past?

DM: For the most part Joe is at the helm and he will be like– try this, and if what he thinks will work does work, then that’s awesome. Everybody will put in their own two cents of course, and if what Joe has doesn’t work then we figure something out. I write 95% of my own horn parts, but every now and then Joe will be like– I want you to follow my guitar line, and it will sound cool. It’s really a communal effort, just headed by the overall vision of Joe.

M&T: What is the name of the new record going to be?

Pat O’Brien: Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Your Anger. It came up at a show the other night and after the show we just asked Joe– so are we going to do that, is that going to be the album name?

DM: We’ve tossed around a couple but I think that’s finally the name of this album, do you guys like it? It’s nice right?

M&T: [nods in approval accompanied by a collective “yeah”]

DM: I think it definitely reflects the overall tone of what’s going on. I mean this record is definitely a lot different than our last one. It’s definitely more low-key, a little more melancholy, but not in any sort of like sit in a corner and cry way. We’ve been travelling for a year, we miss home, we miss our friends and family, this is what we are feeling and these are the songs that are being born out of it.

M&T: You are headed to Chicago to work on the new record, do you have any sort of timeline set up for the process?

DM: We’ve got a month blocked out, but hopefully it won’t take quite that long. We’re aiming for about three weeks and then the fourth week is if we need it. We’re all going out at once, we’re staying in the studio at two apartments, which is going to be really cool because we will basically be able to work whenever. If inspiration strikes, everybody is there. Say we want a gang vocal here, there’s eight of us hanging out in an apartment let’s go and fucking do it. It’s going to be real cool like that.

 

Nor’easter Festival 2011: Interview with Tim Noyes of Aunt Martha

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You might notice from the picture above and from yesterday’s post on The Toughcats that the fishing pier at the Nor’easter Festival was a popular spot this weekend. Our friends at Kitchen Sessions made it a go-to spot for mini-sets from festival bands and the photo above was taken right before Aunt Martha played an impromptu version of “Lay Low.”

After the festival we were able to catch up with Aunt Martha’s lead singer and songwriter Tim Noyes to chat about the band’s new record and their series of Bonnaroo 2011 covers, check out the full interview below–

Maimed & Tamed: What were some of the major differences between making the Norway, ME album and your previous recordings?

Tim Noyes: Norway, ME was a totally different process than our Bloodshot EP and Candymaker. Those were more standard recordings – we went into studios in New York and made them over the course of a week. Norway, ME was just me, up in my spot in Maine, with a laptop. Time wasn’t an issue like it was for the other records and I felt free to experiment with a lot of different sounds and effects. The biggest difference though was that I never planned on releasing Norway, ME. Those songs were meant to be demos at first but then I got a little carried away and we ended up releasing the thing.

M&T: What was the motivation behind giving Norway,ME away for free?

TN: Well it didn’t cost much to make. That was big. But more importantly, I wanted as many people to hear it as possible, more so than I wanted the money that we could have made selling it. My hope is that some of our fans sent their friends to our website and they picked it up. And hopefully it’ll get out to more people over time.

M&T: Where did the idea come from to do all of the Bonnaroo covers leading up to the festival this year and how did you go about picking the songs? Which was your favorite to record?

TN: We came up with the Bonnaroo cover idea in Montana. We were stopping off during the drive from Seattle to Michigan and singing “Mermaid Parade” by Phosphorescent and we had just finished up a bottle of Cutty Sark. Phosphorescent was playing Bonnaroo and we just figured it’d be cool to start covering as many Bonnaroo artists as we could. Then we decided we’d post them up and get people excited about the festival. As for our favorite, I’d say “Take Your Mama” by Scissor Sisters. That’s a blast to sing and we all sing it.

M&T: You have played Bonnaroo and now Nor’easter what other festival out there would you like to play the most?

TN: Ah – well we’re headed to PeachTree down in Atlanta and Orlando Calling in Florida. We’re definitely excited for those. But if I were to pick another one I’d go with Outside Lands out in Cali. That’s a great one.

Nor’easter Festival 2011: Interview with The Toughcats

Posted on by Eric in Nor'easter Festival 2011 | Leave a comment

There are moments when you stop thinking about the next blog post, what to tweet about, or how worried you are that you haven’t listened to that new band that is supposedly the next Rolling Stones, and you realize how lucky you are to be working in the music industry. See that picture up there? That was one of those moments.

I was fortunate enough to catch The Toughcats performing a short two song set (including a ridiculous cover of Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes”) for our friend Steve from Kitchen Sessions and it was an incredible experience. After kicking off Day 2 of the festival on the Waterfront Park Stage the band migrated down to a pier that jutted out into Lake Champlain. The setting was perfect with the sun high in the sky and the boats passing by on the water, it was almost as if I forgot what brought me to Burlington in the first place.

After the band wrapped up their lakeside set we were able to chat with them about their new music, their unorthodox percussion and their favorite songs to cover. Take a listen to the full interview below and if you’re not busy on Thursday night, I’ve got the perfect evening plans for you– The Toughcats supporting Deerhoof at Middle East Downstairs (click here for tickets).

The Toughcats at Nor’easter 2011

Nor’easter Festival 2011 Recap

Posted on by Eric in Nor'easter Festival 2011 | Leave a comment

We are back in Boston after a weekend that had its fair share of rain and sun and plenty of great music in beautiful Burlington, Vermont. We made some new friends and caught up with some old ones while rocking out for two days at Waterfront Park.

The festival kicked off on Saturday with the Boston based folk group Kingsley Flood. They played through an “annoying mist” and featured material off of their forthcoming EP including M&T fave “I Don’t Wanna Go Home.” River City Extension took the stage next and also ran through some new tunes off of their upcoming disc Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Your Anger. The rest of the day was all uncharted territory as it was our first time seeing Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons, Mariachi El Bronx and G-Love.

On Sunday the sun came out and the jams kept coming. The day kicked off with an energetic set from Maine bluegrass heroes The Toughcats who finished with a cover of the Kiss classic “Shout It Out Loud.” The day continued with New Hampshire natives Tan Vampires who played songs from their debut release, which is currently stuck on repeat in my iTunes, For Physical Fitness. Lead singer Jake Mehrmann battled through a cold and led the band in a tight set that included some of my favorite tracks like “I Can Hear Them in the Dark” and “Digital Rot.”

Apollo Run was up next and I believe that Caroline described their sound best as “A centaur with Jeff Buckley’s head and Muse’s body.” Enough said. Day 2 finished with Aunt Martha and lead singer Tim Noyes showing off his falsetto chops followed by Okkervil River who brought the festival to a close as the sun was going down.

Throughout the weekend we were able to speak with nearly every band that performed so make sure to check back for interviews with Kingsley Flood, River City Extension, Joe Fletcher, The Toughcats, Tan Vampires, Apollo Run and Aunt Martha. For now check out our photos from the weekend on our Facebook page and take a listen to The Toughcats killer cover of “Bette Davis Eyes.”

Nor’easter Festival 2011 is Here!

Posted on by Eric in Nor'easter Festival 2011 | Leave a comment

 

As you should all know by now, the M&T crew is heading up to Burlington, Vermont tonight for the Nor’easter Festival. We will be sending out updates via Twitter all weekend so make sure to follow us @maimedandtamed and check back next week for a festival recap and interviews.

Before you head up to Burlington take a look at all of our artist features and our interview with festival producer Pete Ward in the Nor’easter Festival 2011 section of the site.

For now check out Tim Noyes, lead singer of Nor’easter band Aunt Martha, covering Arcade Fire’s “Rebellion (Lies)” and make sure to tweet at us if you will be at the festival this weekend.

Nor’easter Festival 2011: Tan Vampires

Posted on by Eric in Nor'easter Festival 2011 | Leave a comment

As the Nor’easter Festival gets closer and closer we have been taking great pleasure in exploring the lineup and becoming familiar with the bands performing this weekend. With some bands we knew what to expect and with others we were going in blind (or deaf if you will). With Tan Vampires it was totally different, it was like finding a $100 bill on street. Calling their debut record For Physical Fitness a pleasant surprise would be an understatement.

Since I first started streaming the album on the band’s website last week (official release was September 20th), I have not kept myself away from it for more than a few hours. The Dover, New Hampshire 6-piece was named the Granite State’s best band in 2010 by the Boston Phoenix and deservedly so. Led by singer/songwriter Jake Merhmann, the band has been playing the tracks that appear on their debut effort for years, so it is no surprise that the recording sessions took less than a week.

The album has a little something for everyone, beginning with the slow, pulsing sounds of “I Can Hear Them In The Dark,” which brought to mind The Postal Service upon my first listen. On tracks like “Customer Satisfaction Survey” the band delves deeper into this electro-synth sound to create a track that builds into passionate vocals from Mehrmann and an exploding guitar riff to boot.

The album closer, “Fortunes Wheel” is the calm after the storm that is “Customer Satisfaction Survey.” The band’s choice for this track to close out the album should be applauded. With beautifully layered vocals that seem to swirl around in your headphones from side to side, “Fortunes Wheel” always leaves you wanting more and like me, you will find yourself starting the album over from the top right away.

Take a listen to “Leaves” below and make sure to catch Tan Vampires on Sunday at the Waterfront Park Stage at Nor’easter Festival 2011.