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Live Gig “Preview”: Tinie Tempah’s Tiniest Gig for O2 Thinking of You

By on Friday, 22nd April 2011 at 4:00 pm

Have you ever dreamed of having your favourite artist performing just for you? Well, O2 made this happen for one very lucky fan, Katie Hobbs. She, along with 399 punters, turned up at Islington O2 Academy on the 30th of March expecting an intimate gig by Tinie Tempah. Little did Katie know that in a moment, those 399 left the dancefloor and she had Tinie all to herself, singing his latest single ‘Wonderman’ just for her. This is the first known example of a ‘flash exit’ (opposite of a ‘flash mob’), emptying the crowded venue in just seconds.

I honestly don’t know what I’d say if I’d just had my favourite artist sing to me and only me. (I’d probably lose the ability to speak.) But I’m sure I’d be as thrilled as Katie was: “This has been the most amazing day of my life. Getting an exclusive gig from Tinie was simply incredible. I had absolutely no idea what was happening and before I knew it I was getting a solo performance from my favourite act. It doesn’t get any better than that!” Awww. Tinie himself said the experience was amazing, adding, “I owe my success to my fans, and being able to interact with them when I play live is the greatest feeling. I’ve played all sorts of gigs in all sorts of venues but never one like this before. It’s definitely my tiniest gig ever, but it’s also one of my best.” Double awww.

This gig was part of the current O2’s Thinking of You campaign, aimed at showing how O2 values its customers. Considering O2’s long history supporting live music in the UK with its high profile sponsorship of venues all over Britain, this event was pretty neat of them to organise.


For more from behind the scenes on how O2 made this happen for Katie, head on over to Thinking of Katie.


Interview: The Joy Formidable (Part 2)

By on Thursday, 14th April 2011 at 2:00 pm

In the second part of my in-person interview with the Joy Formidable in Washington on the 25th of March, we talk about their debut album ‘The Big Roar’, Rhydian’s album artwork and the little hole in the wall club they used to go to when they were younger.

Missed part 1 of the interview? Never fear, you can read it here.

Again, cheers to Jonny and Joel for setting this up for us at TGTF.

Let’s talk about the album, as it’s just come out over here (15 March in America). How did you approach the writing and recording of this album vs. the EP (‘A Balloon Called Moaning’) released last year. How do you guys work, is it a continuous process?
Rhydian: It’s all been pretty similar. We have a studio in what is essentially our bedroom, it’s a tiny wing in the corner where we can get our ideas down whenever we please, and that’s really important to us.
Ritzy: It’s very simple set-up.
Matt: I wouldn’t say it’s a studio…
Ritzy: I was about to say…we’ve got to find a new word for it. Because if we said “in our studio” to someone, they would probably piss their pants laughing. They would say, “are you serious? The computer with leads coming out of it? This is the shittest studio I’ve ever seen!”
Matt: “You have to rotate it slightly to the left to get volume to come out of the right speaker!”
Ritzy: “And someone has to lie on top of one of the speakers to make the other one to come on.”
Rhydian: All you really need these days is a laptop, and you can do that anywhere, can’t you? So it’s very location based. The fact that it’s always been in our room, and A) we can get ideas down whenever we please, and 2) it’s almost like a claustrophobic kind of space, so it ends being kind of an obsession and it hasn’t always been easy. But we don’t want to change that, we haven’t changed that for the entire breadth of all our recordings, we’ve just had…you know, we wanted this time around, we wanted live drums on it for Matty because he’s been a great addition to the dynamic (between Ritzy and me) and when we needed it to be powerful in the mixing, we wanted to replicate that, and that’s why we got Rich Costey in and our live engineer to help out as well. But essentially, our framework has been the same.
Ritzy: Yeah, the approach hasn’t changed. With Matt, it’s been great to capture what he’s brought to us rhythmically and dynamically…
Matt: “…his Tylenol influenced beats…”
Rhydian: And that’s why we did the some of the same songs. I know with some people it was a tiny bit of a sore point early on, but when ‘A Balloon Called Moaning’ came along, we shared that quite early on, and it was almost like a tour CD, you know? We always had ‘The Big Roar’ in our minds and these tracks work together and to see them fully realized with Matty playing drums playing on it was important to us.
Ritzy: Absolutely.

So you mentioned Rich Costey…his name comes up a lot in UK recordings. How did you get involved with him?
Rhydian: It was a suggestion from our label. You know, we’ve done everything on our own up until now, so we don’t care what your name is, how big you are, you’ve got to work with the band. We had a real honest courtship thing. It’s all about trust. So many people fuck it up, especially when you’ve been doing it yourself for so long.
Ritzy: He’s obviously very talented, and we liked the work he did for Muse and Interpol. But as Rhydian said, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be a great fit for what you want your sonic vision is for your own tracks. We went over there, we spent some time, did a few tracks and he did some bits and pieces with us, and it went really well. He was really intuitive and we were thinking the same things…and you know, we had a very limited time for him as well to mix in, and so the relationship was good. We could hand it over and trust that we could “get there”.
At the end of the day, the music is your baby, and you want to make sure it’s well cared for.
Ritzy: Certainly. Yeah, we tracked it ourselves, we’re so close to it as a body of work. It’s not like it’s been overthought, it’s not like we kept going back to it. We tracked it very quick. But we know every little nuance, every moment in the record, and the mixing part is such an integral. Alongside that, we wanted to keep every nuance and that charm, we definitely did not want it suddenly become so polished or sort of have things left out that we held so dear because it captured a moment for us. So it had to be…
Rhydian: The fact that we didn’t have much time was hard, because it’s all about the subtleties as well. If something’s slightly out of volume, you go, “no, that’s not giving the vibe we had in mind.” It’s all about what’s realising up here [points to his head] and when you haven’t got much time, even when you trust someone, they inevitably get it wrong, there’s nothing like you being able to do it yourself. But we got there, we got there, didn’t we?
Ritzy: He’s a very talented guy. Absolutely. The difference between the demos that we had, you know, they’re exactly the same in the feel and the vibe, and the power he brought to them is undeniable. So definitely, we need to mention Neak Menter, our live engineer, it’s the first time we worked with him on a record as well. He knows our live sound, so he’d definitely been an important collaborator with us on this album.

Speaking of the album…so Rhydian, I hear you draw these.
Rhydian: Yeah.
Ritzy: [smiles] He sure does.
From where did this artistic expression come about? Have you always drawn?
Rhydian: Yeah, I’ve always done all kinds of stuff, not just line drawings. But yeah, it’s a pleasure to do it with the band because it seems to tie in with the story (of our band) and a real extension to the songs, being able to somehow the meaning across that isn’t just…you know, we’re involved in everything, so including the videos, all the visuals. And even though it’s me drawing, we jam ideas. Well, when I say “jam”, it’s more like, “this is the visualisation I am getting from the meaning of this song” and “what about this? and that?” That’s something else we wouldn’t want to change, because I think it adds something to the songs. We certainly didn’t want to have this commissioned work that looks, stylistically, current and cool and fresh but actually says fuck all about your music. I’d prefer have it be utterly fucking awful and have a bit of charm about it and (have it) actually say something. Same with the videos and been able to do them under $200 budgets. For us, they piss on other things that have been done on a milion pound budgets that don’t say anything and have no charm. Yeah, maybe they look slick, but I’m fucking yawning after the first 10 seconds. Yeah, so it’s nice to do it.

I think it lends something very special when you know a band member has actually done the artwork, instead of as you said, someone random, like a photographer providing a picture, and as a fan, you think, “what is this, in relation to the music at all?”
Rhydian: That can work as well. We’re not trying to fly these flags like, “it has to be us, we’re the only ones capable of doing anything interesting”, of course not. When it feels right…
Ritzy: I think it came quite naturally, because we put so much detail into the record, we wanted to follow through on everything. The artwork, the box set…
Rhydian: And also, it’s nice to challenge people. For instance, sometimes the lyrics aren’t direct, you don’t get them straightaway at first glance, so (as a fan) you have to invest. I think there’s an element where you have to challenge people. Same goes for the album (‘The Big Roar’), you know the format. We really wanted to celebrate that and not just give people fucking 2 to 3 minutes of single formulas all the time. I can see that from the reviews, some people are saying, “this is dragging on!” Well, it’s because you have to invest in it! The first song(‘The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie’) is 8 minutes long. If you did that in the ’70s people would be, “whatever”. You do it now, people think, “holy shit!” Some people think it’s the fucking greatest track on the entire album, and some people think it’s fucking boring. It’s that element of needing to challenge people, that’s what I’m saying . And with the album, and the artwork, it’s nice to be able to give a slant to the lyrics because they’re not always there in your face, at face value. They both tie together to create some medium.

The album format…since you brought it up…what is your opinion of the digital age? People downloading individual mp3s, for example. Did you want to make the album such that it could be consumed as a whole album, continuously from start to finish?
Ritzy: Oh yeah.
Rhydian: I think you would miss things if you had just as (the tracks individually, not as an album) that way.
Ritzy: I think the way it flows, yeah, the moments between songs. It was definitely conceived in a way that it’s meant to be listened to. For us, we definitely wanted to celebrate the entire collection. And I suppose the flow and structure, it’s definitely very considered. The songs aren’t put down in any old order.
Rhydian: And it’s almost not to do with being on CD or vinyl, it’s more to do with it being a body of work that you invest in more than 3 minutes. I suppose what I’m saying that it’s not a retro thing, it comes back to the thing about challenging and investing comes back into play, where you actually have to have a little bit of patience.
I almost feel like I tend to like songs that go beyond the regular radio 3 minutes, because nowadays you are forced, in a way, to get the whole album to get those tracks. If they ever showed up on the radio, they end up being radio edits, and the best bits are cut out.

My favourite track on the album is ‘The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade’. I was wondering if you’d be so kind and willing to share what the song means to you?

Rhydian: [looks at Ritzy] This is yours.
Ritzy: Oh man…it’s always difficult. I’ll give you an overview, because I’m not a big fan of dissecting lyrics. It was written in North Wales, and it’s definitely celebrates the area we are from, the view, how picturesque it is. Over the last couple of years I’ve definitely had a big, big struggle with my life in North Wales and the slight need to escape from it as well. I suppose it suggests trying to find something that’s better that you maybe can see in the distance that’s coming closer, but for the time being, you’re slightly stuck where you are. There’s that hope for something that could be magnified…
Rhydian: It’s like that beauty in the loneliness almost, isn’t it?
Ritzy: Very much so.
Rhydian: It’s personal circumstances, without delving too much into that, yeah. It encapsulates to us what this album is about. It’s eternally optimistic while recognising the turmoil as well, whereas I think maybe ‘A Balloon Called Moaning’ was always about a struggle for optimism. I think ‘The Big Roar’ recognises the turbulence. That’s maybe, without the risk of sounding completely fucking nuts, it’s healing a little bit, because it’s been a couple difficult years (for us).
Ritzy: I suppose the most important thing is that every line in that song has a lot of meaning. When it was written, it certainly was very emotively penned track at the time. And that’s where my shyness in dissecting it comes in. Definitely emotional to me.

DC doesn’t always get all the bands coming through here, so I was very excited to see you were playing here for this tour.
Rhydian: Actually, it seems like that DC is actually full of discerning listeners. But that doesn’t always, I suppose, make for “let’s go see a show!” You have to be really into it to go (to gigs).
It’s definitely getting better, with venues being able to draw better bands and more eclectic bands, and people are more willing to go out to the smaller clubs. And One reason I wanted to be a blogger was I wanted bands to know that there’s definitely a community here that want to see good bands. When you were in Wales, where did you see bands?
Ritzy: Oh man. There was this one club…
Rhydian: Not many!
Ritzy: It was down the road…not a big deal in the states, but it was within driving distance and you couldn’t take a bus, so you had to plan it. [to Rhydian] It was a bit of a plan, wasn’t it? It was called Buckley Tivoli. We caught it just at the back end of Britpop. The guy who owned it had been in the industry for a long time, it’s changed hands since then. But this guy had a lot of contacts and could drag a lot of nationally known bands off their big tours and say, “hey, you want to come play this shit hole in North Wales?” And a lot of them did!
Rhydian: It was the only place you could see touring bands.
Ritzy: It fit about 350. And it wasn’t strict on the IDs, so if you were underage…I think the first night we went, it was very important to get to know everyone there. Introducing yourself, flashing your ID with your thumb on the birth year. Just play the game a little bit. Yeah, we used to go there every week. Every week, there’s always be a really, really good band.
Rhydian: That was it.
Ritzy: That was our world. It meant everything to us. We’d buy our tickets in a fucking tie shop in this village, because that’s where you would buy your tickets from.

Wow, I’m starting to feel really thankful to be where I am.
Ritzy: It was a big fucking deal. Yeah, like I said, it meant everything to us.
Rhydian: And then it got turned into this party club. Bands like Oasis and Nirvana had played there. All the great bands played there.
Ritzy: We didn’t see any of those, because they played there just before we went there. We’d have been very little then! We saw Super Furry Animals, Catatonia, and lots of really good bands that passed through.
Rhydian: And maybe because it wasn’t this abundance on our doorstep, I suppose, maybe that’s where this slightly otherworldly and optimistic…although maybe not always optimistic, but hopeful element comes from. I dunno. When something’s on your lap all the time, you don’t have to work for it so hard for it, you appreciate it.
Ritzy: That was for the first time we first became aware of each other, I suppose, because I used to see him [Rhydian] at this club. [points to Rhydian] I knew you were a dreadful drunk! You know it’s true…
Matt: Were? He still is!
Ritzy: I used to watch him… [to Rhydian] You used to run home from the club!
Rhydian: Oh yeah…
Ritzy: Like that… [does funny arm and leg gestures, presumbly imitating Rhydian’s drunk gait] All the way back down the hill. I used to get a lift from my parents if I could blag a lift. And we’d see you running. [laughs]
Matt: He’d be trying to figure out which leg was shorter than the other…
Rhydian: It was definitely an interesting place to grow up in, where we were.
Matt: There are pictures. You better hope they don’t get out!
Ritzy: Hide that one!
Matt: Exactly. I’m nervous! Even I don’t want them getting out…
Rhydian: Hey, I’ve got pictures of you guys, don’t worry about that!
This is the problem when you know your band mates back in childhood…!
Ritzy: I know. I dread to think about it!


Interview: The Joy Formidable (Part 1)

By on Tuesday, 12th April 2011 at 12:00 pm

When the Joy Formidable stopped by DC in late March on their campaign to promote ‘The Big Roar’ in North America, I had to opportunity to have a chat with Ritzy Bryan, Rhydian Dafydd and Matt Thomas before the show. In the first half of our interview, they tell me what it was like growing up in North Wales, how South by Southwest went for them and the intervening influence of Tylenol in their lives (yes, really). Read on…

Their answers to our Quickfire Questions can be read here.

Many thanks to Jonny and Joel for setting this up for us.

(So first the discussion is about drink…)
Matt: We’re sticking to this! [points to bottle of Maker’s Mark] And sweet relish… [fingers American relish condiment on table]
Ritzy: Yes, a new Welsh concoction.
Rhydian: [looks dubious] Oh man. Whiskey with relish? Yeah?
Matt: [in jokey voice] I’ll have a whiskey…with relish! [all laugh]
Rhydian: …on the rocks!
Ritzy: [raises bottle of mustard] …with mustard!

Do you have relish – like non-American relish – back in Wales?
Ritzy: Yeah, but it’s more like fine, chopped up tomato with onion. That’s what we call relish.
Matt: Finely chopped leeks with daffodils…
Ritzy: [at Matt accusingly] We don’t eat our daffodils!

So welcome back to Washington, it’s wonderful to have you back here, and this time playing the larger main stage at the Black Cat. I saw you guys for the first time in November playing Backstage, and I remember that being a very exciting night because generally, DC crowds do not mosh. And people we seriously moshing! What do you recall of that night?
Rhydian: We do recall! Yeah, Ritzy used to live in DC so it feels quite special playing here. And we have some friends here, haven’t we? [looks at Ritzy]
Ritzy: It was the first time we’d played here. And I suppose, obviously there is that dreaded thing called nostalgia for me, coming back here and playing our first show here.
Rhydian: And it was the first time Grouplove joined us [on tour], wasn’t it? So I definitely remember it. [to me] And you’re right, the crowd was great. Regardless of how many people are there and whatever the mood is, we genuinely enjoy being onstage. So if someone is a bit reserved, then, we don’t mind, we can give them a little shit and heckle them a bit, but we like to bring people out a little bit.
Ritzy: They made us feel very welcome, and I was sick as well. That was the first day I was really ill.

Oh yeah, really? Was that the food poisoning?
Ritzy: No, I had like a really, really bad cold. I managed to do about four shows with it and then at the end, we ended up cancelling shows. We had one more show before our day off and then we had to cancel it…
Matt: …and that was when my addiction to Tylenol began.
Ritzy: And then we were all sick! [points to Matt] He jokes about it…and actually, that was the very first time we had extra strength Tylenol. Jonny (their tour manager) went out for me before we went on and he came back and said the guy at the pharmacy said, “this is really good shit”…
Rhydian: You make it sound like it’s a really poignant moment. [laughs]
Ritzy: No, listen. The point I’m making is that about two songs in, it felt like someone had given me the biggest, fucking doobie in my life. It was like, “what is this shit?” It was like I was swimming, everything was blurred. I thought I was going to have a laughing fit. Like…fucking hell man, what’s in this stuff?
Rhydian: Before you went onstage, you were like, “it’s cleared it up! Great!” And then you started to look funny…
Ritzy: [laughs] That’s my biggest memory…like, “someone’s shaking the room! Really badly!”
Matt: [in spacey voice] “Wow, there’s four rooms in here!” [all laugh] “Whoa!”
Ritzy: It was probably because it was mixed with a bit of the ol’ Maker’s Mark and the sweet relish. Should have read the instructions.
Rhydian: Not such a good cocktail…
Matt: Not as good as vitamin C and vodka.
Ritzy: [to Matt] But then you developed quite an addiction to it (Tylenol)…
Matt: I did.
Rhydian: He genuinely has got an addiction to Tylenol. He’s not addicted to anything else.
Matt: I haven’t looked at it since…I left it in New York, do you remember? And then we went on the last bit of the tour…
Rhydian: You’ve been talking about it ever since, even on the UK tour…”yeah, I wonder if I’ll get any Tylenol when we’re in the States…”
Matt: [insistent] I’m going to take some Tylenol home.
Ritzy: Matt doesn’t smoke, you don’t do drugs…except Tylenol. We found your weakness!
Rhydian: Your vice!
And you can get it from any drugstore here you want!
Rhydian: Yeah, he opens his jacket and he’s got fuckin’ Tylenol stashes…
Matt: I’ve got every brand and flavour. Lemon flavour…even got watermelon flavour! [thinks for a moment] I don’t think that exists…
Ritzy: They do do watermelon in medicine in the States. Yeah.
Rhydian: Do they?
They’ve got every flavour you’d want…
Matt: Wow, now I’ll be twice as wasted…
Ritzy: They’ve got cherry…

But I think you’re all in the pink of health, I trust, today?
Ritzy: Yeah. Feeling fresh!
Rhydian: This is sort of like joins our UK and European tour, isn’t it?
Ritzy: If you look at it on paper, we should all be dead. We started on the 29th of January and…
Matt: …and had a couple of days off…
Oh wow.
Ritzy: But it’s all good.
Matt: Did the UK, Europe, then flew straight to Atlanta.
Rhydian: It’s really nice to be here, because actually the drives are really nice. Okay, they’re long, but you get to see the country. And the weather’s been quite nice compared to the UK and Europe, and I dunno, think we generally we like touring over here.
Well, we like to hear that!
Rhydian: And the beaches and places like that. It invigorates the spirit, it does! [smiles]

So tell me what it’s like to be from North Wales. I’ve never been to Wales before…and how do you think it shaped you as musicians, as a band? What is the music scene like?
Rhydian: First of all, where we are, right at the top of North Wales, almost near the border, it’s pretty different from the rest of Wales. We’re sometimes lumped in what’s across the border, such as Liverpool and Manchester, and maybe there’s a bit of struggle with identity. There haven’t been a hell of a lot of artists coming from or at least had recognition from where we are in North Wales.
Ritzy: The last band, honestly, I think, was the Alarm, wasn’t it?
Rhydian: Yeah, there hasn’t been that many reference points. So, you know, you could say that it’s a bit of a struggle but it also really makes you to find out what you are about, as it was. Kinda strange growing up there. Beautiful place, great backdrop, beautiful landscapes and so forth. I suppose a bit of a love/hate relationship with it because of almost a schizophrenic nature of your identity. I am a native Welsh speaker first and foremost, and it was strange because, as I tell people, I got as much shit for speaking Welsh as I did for speaking English, you know? It’s a weird kind of melting pot going on there. Now I look back on it fondly, because it lends itself to creativity and finding yourself your own identity. We never had a thing trying to be a Welsh band. You know, great artists have no country. It feels like that to us, anyway. We’ve always locked ourselves away in our own bubble, that’s how we’ve always recorded. We’ve lived in loads of different places, but we never felt part of a scene…
Ritzy: Well I suppose maybe that’s the reason we turned to music, originally. I think I turned to music initially for me, because of where we lived, and it was quite isolated, and I was an only child, definitely it was something I could escape into. It was like definitely something that could pass the time. I don’t know about my bandmates, but…
Rhydian: That’s the beautiful but lonely element to where we grew up. Yeah, absolutely. Like a extreme dichotomy.

So what kind of music were you listening to, growing up?
Rhydian: So many, really. Ritzy’s parents had this absolutely huge record collection. [to Ritzy] Didn’t they? [Ritzy nods] You had a very good start, in that sense.
Ritzy: Yeah. Well, I always say it could have gone both ways. They were so obsessed with collecting records and bootlegging! You were either going to share their passion and embrace it with them or think, “fuck this! It’s the bane of my life!” A lot of stuff…my very first concert was Elvis Costello and the Attractions. I was only about 8 years old. I think I fell asleep before the encore. But I remember, you know, being transfixed and going, “wow! Why is he putting on all those angry faces! And he’s really going for it!” Just really cool being pulled into his world. Definitely not understanding the message at that age, but definitely feeling the power and conviction. And then Springsteen after that. He’s still, to me, the ultimate performer. Love or hate him, what he brings in his live performance is undeniably unique and special. A lot of energy and passion. And how much joy he brings to people who watch him, because he seems to be loving every moment. He can’t be loving every moment! Surely, there’s one night when he goes onstage and thinks, “I can’t really be arsed to go on tonight. I’m not doing a 2 and a half hour set, I’m going to bed!” Surely there’s one night?
Rhydian: Yeah, but people say that to us, don’t they? But…genuinely, at this point, it’s an honour and a privilege to get up there and play your own songs up there. You shouldn’t take it lightly. Far too many bands are in a fucking band just for the sake of it. So, yeah, it’s commitment. That kind of influence has been really important.
Ritzy: And Matt, he has lots and lots of eclectic things. He’s into loads of different stuff.
Matt: Yeah, loads of crazy stuff!
Rhydian: Tends to be the way with drummers as well, isn’t it?
Matt: Yeah, the rhythmic element!
Rhydian: Spans a lot of stuff. Jazz…

[to Matt] So what’s in your collection that people would be surprised you have?
Ritzy: Oh no, this should go off the record!
Matt: Basically, it’s a lot of songs I wrote about Tylenol, with really odd signatures. Like 15/16 and stuff like that. [starts singing] “Tylenol…” [bangs table] “It’s been real fun…”
Rhydian: The scary part is, that could actually happen. Anyone who knows Matt know that could happen! [Matt laughs] I grew up listening to Hendrix and that ‘60s stuff, and then it was a gateway to listen to all sorts of things, not necessarily a genre. It comes down to good music and bad music, really.

Last week you played at South by Southwest in Austin. I was very thankful that NPR decided to tape and stream your set at the Parish for everyone to see. How did South by Southwest go for you guys?

Rhydian: We were just saying before, it went really great. Again, a gig is a gig, we went there not worrying about, you know, some kind of industry bullshit. We had a bunch of shows out there to start our (American) tour, our album is out here now. A show is a show, and you’re committed. It was chaotic, and we actually reveled in that. You get thrown on…and it was good fun in that respect.
Ritzy: We’re quite chill with shows like that. No pressure, like we haven’t got anything to prove. We’re really happy with the way we are and what we’re doing, and we don’t want to change anything. So for us…
Rhydian: It was just like a gig in Austin…we’d never played there before.
Was there a particular place you enjoyed playing, or an audience that resonated with you?
Rhydian: They were all great.
Ritzy: There were eight shows…and then the ninth show was fun, we did an evening show…
Rhydian: Buffalo Billiards? Yeah, that was a good one. That was nice.
Ritzy: And the evening atmosphere was slightly different in some respects…
Matt: And then the record shop?
Ritzy: The bicycle shop was a good one!
There was a show in a bicycle shop?
Rhydian: Yeah! We thought it was going to be a fucking motorcycle shop. No, it was like playing in Halford’s or something. It was weird. But it strangely worked. It was fun.
So I guess you get all the tree huggers I guess, then? [all laugh]
Matt: They were hugging trees after the gig. Let me tell you… “I need some calm!”
Ritzy: It’s actually very hard to choose. They were all…we went there with no expectations and we hoped people would come see us. And we had crowds for every, every single show! It was very big and very welcoming. So that connection felt great to us,
Rhydian: Play every show like it’s your last! That’s the way to do it…like you’re going to get knocked over by a bus the minute you walk offstage.
Matt: I’d rather be knocked over by something cooler…
Ritzy: Like a steamroller.
A Segway?
Rhydian: No, a Tylenol truck.
Matt: “It was the Tylenol that killed him!”

Keep an eye out on TGTF for the second part of this interview coming soon.


Live Review: Cut Copy with Holy Ghost! at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – 30th March 2011

By on Friday, 1st April 2011 at 2:00 pm

“You must be a Cut Copy fan.” This is what someone greeted me with 2 years ago this month as I stood outside the Black Cat waiting to get into a show starring Friendly Fires. (It was the first date on a North American tour they were co-headlining with White Lies, sponsored by NME.) Even today, I don’t really see the similarities between the two bands – except maybe the fact that both sound kind of tropical and they both make enjoyable dance music? – But to be sure, Washington is a major hub for Cut Copy fans, as for 2 nights straight the Australian dance band sold out the 9:30. Your faithful editor at TGTF managed to get herself into the second night’s show.

Holy Ghost! was a fitting opening band for Cut Copy in that they warmed up the crowd slowly but surely with tracks from their self-titled debut album, to be released in mid-April on DFA Records. Any self-respecting dance fan knows Holy Ghost!’s ‘Hold On’, and the new material is as punchy and the beats are just as sweet as that now-dance floor classic. ‘It’s Not Over’ and ‘I Will Come Back’ were definite highlights. It also happened to be drummer Nick Millhiser’s birthday, something frontman Alex Frankel just had to reveal in order to embarrass his best buddy. Too funny. ‘Do It Again’ featured Frankel playing with an iPad on what I believe to be a TouchOSC program (?) and it was very neat to see him just press buttons effortlessly on this small, flat piece of technology and make it produce the sounds he wanted. Their set concluded with ‘Jam for Jerry’, which I imagine is in honour of the late great Jerry Fuchs, who notably played with LCD Soundsystem and !!! before his tragic death in 2009.

I’m quite faint-hearted when it comes to strobes. I saw Phoenix last year at Constitution Hall and ended up turning away from the stage because I was getting blinded. I had a similar reaction to seeing Chromeo, who incidentally also took Holy Ghost! with them on the road summer 2010 (only difference was I could feel my face vibrating at that 9:30 show). Cut Copy’s music lends itself to a summery, tropical feel, so it should come as no surprise that blinding multi-coloured lights figured prominently in their stage set-up. Wednesday night I made the mistake of standing in front of a light that looked innocuous enough but then when it was switched on – yep, blinded!

Oh well. It’s not like anyone around me cared at all. They were all mesmerised by the action on the stage, and really, who wouldn’t be? Lead singer Dan Whitford of Cut Copy, a human dynamo, spent the whole evening waving his arms about enthusiastically, when he wasn’t playing his synth or running to around with his guitar or over to a synth-patch thingy with a multitude of wires poking out of it, sitting on the side of the stage (I know, I’m being so technical – all of this goes over my head – ask Pendulum or Delphic how this stuff works, they’ll sort you out). It was kind of funny, because Whitford and all of them really were almost too overly enthuasiastic. Guitarist Tim Hoey made me laugh when he started molesting his guitar, banging it against the stage, their drum kit, balancing it standing up on his open palm and then banging it just so to get a crash of guitar, etc. Um, who does that? But the crowd ate it up!

I think everyone present must have owned ‘Zonoscope’ because the new songs got as rapturous receptions as the old material: ‘Need You Now’ and ‘Take Me Over’ stood solid alongside ‘Lights and Music’ and ‘Hearts on Fire’. Dance music usually – and often understandably – gets a bad rap for lack of quality lyrics and with me not knowing much of Cut Copy’s earlier work, I giggled to myself to words like “please please please give your love to me” and “take my heart away / save it for another day”. Not knocking it, as I know lots of people love them, but a little bland for me. The actual live experience though was very good and I can imagine thousands of times better than their recordings. The energy was up, and that was no doubt thanks to the crowd who bopped along and jumped whenever Whitford organized the masses to do just that.

More photos and setlists behind the cut.
Continue reading Live Review: Cut Copy with Holy Ghost! at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – 30th March 2011


Quickfire Questions #3: French Horn Rebellion

By on Friday, 1st April 2011 at 12:00 pm

Brooklyn-based French Horn Rebellion have just played in Hong Kong for the very first time Wednesday night (the 30th of March); they played with MGMT on this one date. The Hong Kongers seemed to have enjoyed the show a lot and it was a successful debut. I caught up with the brothers David and Robert Perlick-Molinari and had them answer our Quickfire Questions…

1. What song is your earliest musical memory?
David: My mom playing Scott Joplin’s ‘The Entertainer’ on the piano.
Robert: ‘Go Granny, Go’ – Jan and Dean (Editor’s note: I think he means ‘The Little Old Lady from Pasadena’.)

2. What was your favourite song as a child?
David: ‘Surfin’ USA’ – The Beach Boys
Robert: ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ – The Righteous Brothers

3. What song makes you laugh?
David: ‘Seven Stars Surround the Moon’ – Savoir Adore
Robert: ‘Tip-toe Through The Tulips’ – Tiny Tim

4. What song makes you cry?
David: ‘Nobody Knows’ – Tony Rich Project
Robert: ‘Enigma Variations’ – Edward Elgar

5. What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
David: ‘It’s Only Love’ – The Beatles
Robert: ‘The Luckiest’ – Ben Folds

6. What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
David: Said he only listened to music to cheer himself up, so he left this one blank.
Robert: ‘New Year’s Day’ – Brothers

7. Which song (any song written in the last century) do you wish you’d written yourself?
David: ‘I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times’ or ‘God Only Knows’ – The Beach Boys
Robert: ‘Giant Steps’ – John Coltrane

8. Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
David: Ernest Hemingway
Robert: Burt Bacharach

9. If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
David: I’d probably be in medical school.
Robert: A writer.

10. If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why?
David: ‘The Art of Fugue’ – J. S. Bach. It has so many levels of beauty and an eternity to figure it all out. Plus, that stuff never gets boring.
Robert: Fritz Reiner with The Chicago Symphony playing ‘Ein Heldenleben’.


This week’s Gonzo – the Kills grace the Gonzo couch, and Jamie Woon wows

By on Friday, 1st April 2011 at 11:00 am

MTV Gonzo gets an interesting visit this week. Well, I’m saying this because we have been advised that “pleather meets leather” when the Kills (Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart) stop by for a chat with Alexa. Jamie has been quoted as saying “You never woosh back at Nick Cave“. Now, I dunno about you, but considering Nick Cave has been busy with Grinderman these days, inquiring minds want to know what spurred on that comment. Jamie Woon, the artiste that with his track ‘Night Air’ has been making fans swoon, plays a tune. (Haha, that rhymed!)

On the video front, Richard Ayoade (whose recent debut film directorial effort ‘Submarine’ has been getting rave reviews) talks us through the rest of his back catalogue in a very special Director’s Cut. Viewers will also get a sneak peek of a live unplugged performance by the woman who had been fending off the opposition on the UK album charts for weeks, Adele. The video of the week on this episode of Gonzo? My Chemical Romance’s brilliant new video for ‘Planetary (Go)’. It’s a good night to stay in.

MTV Gonzo airs tonight (Friday) at 7 PM on MTV Music, with a repeat at 8 PM on MTV Rocks.


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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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