Archive: Volcano! interview

Originally printed in the Event Guide

Ready to Erupt

By Aoife Barry

Chicagoans Mark Cartwright, Sam Scranton and Aaron With are members of Volcano! , an experimental rock band that touches on free jazz, improv and noise rock. The first ‘rock’ band to be signed to the Leaf label, they recently released their second album, ‘Paperwork’, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed ‘Beautiful Seizure’.  Aoife Barry spoke to drummer Sam as the band made their way from Malmo to Gothenburg, Sweden.

Volcano! are in a noisy tour bus, on their way to a gig in Gothenburg. It’s only their second date on their European tour, but so far, says drummer Sam Scranton, things are going well – but he has no clue how the rest of the tour will pan out. “We’ve only played one show,” he says over the din. “It was pretty good, a little small but a receptive audience. I think we kind of expected it to be a small show, but we’ve never played here before so it’s hard to know. Sometimes you play in a small place and a ton of people show up; sometimes you play in a big town and no one shows up – it’s hard to know.”

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Archive: No Age interview

This originally appeared in the Event Guide

Get Hurt

By Aoife Barry

For a two-piece, No Age make a lot of noise – the sort of glorious racket that inspires teenagers to pick up their guitars and gig-goers to flail about in wild abandon. An arty indie rock group made up of good friends Randy Randall and Dean Allen Spun, No Age are Los Angeles-based and part of LA’s Smell scene, named after a popular club that’s hosted the likes of HEALTH, Mika Miko and Silver Daggers. No Age are currently signed to Sub Pop records and released their album ‘Nouns’ this year.

Los Angeles may be typically known as the hub of the movie industry, the mean streets where dreams of Hollywood are made and broken – but in the last couple of years it has become the centre of one of the most exciting music scenes in America.
Centred around an all-ages venue called The Smell, this scene gave birth to arty, angular and downright fun bands like the aforementioned HEALTH and Mika Miko, Abe Vigoda, the Mae Shi and Lavender Diamond but to name a few. One of the brightest lights in the Smell scene is No Age – a duo made up of two vegans with a love of art, a DIY ethic and a carefree ability to have fun.

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Archive: Conway Savage interview

This originally appeared in the Event Guide.

The Good Son

By Aoife Barry

When he’s not tinkling the ivories in The Bad Seeds, Conway Savage is creating his own music: Solo, he trades in blues-infected , down-tempo psycho-billy dirty rock, or haunting, emotional duets with the likes of Suzie Higgie. He’s released six albums over the past 15 years; his latest, ‘Quickie For Ducky’, was recorded with Amanda Fox and Robert Tickner. Melbourne-based Savage is an intriguing character – dry, sarcastic and yet well able to laugh at himself (and others).

“Oh I’m so angry at the Bad Seeds, I’m so angry at the publicity machine -I could just kill it, what am I gonna do about it!” Conway Savage is laughing at a question about his level of ‘fame’ as a solo artist versus that of his work in the Bad Seeds – but if it seems as though I’ve struck a raw nerve, the sarcasm has dissipated within seconds. “What you got to do with music is continue on with what you got to do,” he drawls softly. “I was doing this stuff before I did the Bad Seeds, you know; as Guy Clark said – sing like you don’t need the money.” As part of the hugely successful group Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, he may no longer need to play for the money all the time, but these days it’s all about getting out there and plugging away with his solo career.

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Archive: Robots in Disguise interview

Never Mind the Bollocks – the Robots Re-write Rock…

By Aoife Barry

“I’d say get the bass out from under the bed, stop trying to pull boys with it, and play it!” Sue Denim, bassist and one half of English electro-punk band Robots in Disguise laughs, a twinkle in her eyes half hidden by a pair of enormous Jarvis Cocker-esque black glasses. Her partner in music, guitarist Dee Plume, smiles from under her red and black fringe and adds: “Try and write a song everyday, that’s what I’d say.” “Why don’t you follow that advice now?” teases Sue.

We’re sitting in a noisy bar an hour or two before their debut Irish gig in the Village, chatting about the new single (The Sex Has Made Me Stupid), the new album We’re in the Music Biz and what it’s like being a female musician. I’ve asked Dee and Sue (Plume and Denim are pseudonyms, but it seems strange to think of them with ‘normal’ surnames) about what they’d say if they could go back ten years and give their younger selves some advice. After around seven years in a band together, they have a lovely partnership. As a pair they’re perfectly similar and dissimilar in equal parts; they work so well together but are independent at the same time.

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Archive: Fucked Up interview

From the Event Guide, August 2008

Looking for Gold

By Aoife Barry

There may be no other band as perfectly named as Canada’s Fucked Up. A hardcore punk band who are renowned for their intense live shows (which often end with frontman Damian Abraham, aka ‘Pink Eyes’, with blood streaming down his face from a self-inflicted head wound), they have just under 50 releases to their name, including most recent album ‘The Chemistry of Common Life’. But behind their confrontational and in-your-face style and sound lies a world of self-discovery and passion. An intrigued Aoife Barry finds out more from Damian.

There are bands that waddle, bloated with self importance, onto the stage, play with a half-arsed attitude and then shuffle off, leaving nothing more than a dull ringing in their audience’s ears. And then there are bands like Fucked Up, who bound on stage, trash it out with their inner demons and leave the audience scared, riled up and exhilarated. Fucked Up literally dive head first into every live experience, not caring who (more often than not, themselves) or what is hurt along the way – they give what their audience wants and then some. Frontman Damian Abraham is what holds the band together on stage – the 300lb mountain man who is a genial soul offstage and a towering behemoth on.

“There are things I would never have thought I would be able to do,” says Damian of his transition from gentle soul to wild beast during his live shows. “Like the other night we played a show and I jumped off these speakers and I stuffed the landing – kind of like an Olympian – and I was fine, and the next day I woke up and my knees felt like they were going to pop off at any second. It’s like the combination of adrenaline and cockiness on stage, like the world doesn’t exist.”

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Archive: Mighty Boosh

From the Event Guide, September 2008

(Not the?) Odd Couple

By Aoife Barry

Sometimes, it’s the most unlikely of pairings that end up having the most impact. And in the world of comedy, it’s often the seemingly unsuited duos who audiences find they relate to. Morecambe and Wise, Reeves and Mortimer, Walliams and Lucas – all pairings that feature two men who really don’t seem the type that would gel, and yet who do so naturally. In the case of the Mighty Boosh however, this sense of ‘the odd couple’ is one that at first seems so obvious – and yet quickly disappears as soon as your attention is taken from the two men’s differing appearances to the their love for off-beat comedy and their uncanny ability to rustle up ideas in the time it takes some writers to draft just one line.

In the Mighty Boosh, Julian Barratt (aged 40) plays Howard Moon, a jazz-obsessed sensitive soul with a science teacher’s dress sense and the fragile heart of a poet. His foil is Noel Fielding’s (aged 35) Vince Noir, an easily swayed wannabe rockstar who deep down loves his housemate Moon – but treats him like the brother who’s to uncool to have around. At the heart of the show is the relationship between the two men – and their curious adventures to the likes of Planet Xooberon, the Mirror World, and the (literally) rubbish home of the Crack Fox.

Noir and Moon inhabit a world that’s not quite in the same dimension as ours – it’s a world where urban foxes become addicted to illicit substances, where a shaman called Naboo (played by Noel’s brother Mike Fielding) and his familiar, an ape called Bollo (played by longtime friend Dave Brown), share a house with the protagonists, where a crazed zoo owner wreaks havoc wherever he goes (the inimitable Rich Fulcher as Bob Fossil), and where anything is possible as long as it’s within the realms of imagination.

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Archive: Silver Jews interview

From the Event Guide, May 2008

Suffering Jukebox

By Aoife Barry

American alternative rock outfit Silver Jews, fronted by the enigmatic David Berman, began as a musical project back in 1989, when David hooked up with friends Stephen Malkmus (of Pavement) and Bob Nastanovich. The band were famed for the fact that they never played a live show, something which earned Berman a reputation as a reclusive rock star. But that all changed in 2006, when Berman brought the band on their first ever tour, which took in the US, Europe and Israel, the latter having huge importance to Berman who, after a struggle with addiction and a suicide attempt, found salvation in his Jewish religion.

However, although the Nashville-based band are now set to embark on their second ever tour, in support of new (sixth)  album ‘Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea’, it seems that Berman still has his concerns about life on the road, and performing live. “I really didn’t know whether I was gonna like touring, you know, on the first time in 2006, and I guess I did like it, because I look forward to it [this time],” he says, sounding surprised at himself.  “I know what to expect and I was concentrating so much on just getting through it last time that I didn’t have a chance to move around or talk to anybody; I really had to sort of hermetically seal myself off.”

So with such a fear about touring, did making that leap back in 2006 help him prove anything to himself? “I proved something to myself,” he agrees, “but I also feel like maybe the people who came to the shows proved something to me that I needed to see. I could never have imagined…there was no way to imagine how many people were interested in the band. I was just really gratified you know, and people came from such far distances to the shows.”

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