Kool Kat of the Week: The Sexual Side Effects Are on a Mission to Rock Your World: Amber Taylor on Growing Beyond Glam and Throwing a Franken-Party to Remember Friday Jan. 25!

Posted on: Jan 24th, 2013 By:

Photo courtesy of The Sexual Side Effects.

Andy Warhol would have approved of the Sexual Side EffectsFranken-Party  this Friday Jan. 25 at the Drunken Unicorn. A rock ‘n’ roll fantasy collides with an art show. The crowd is scantily but fabulously dressed, clothes replaced by body paint. Go-go dancers twist and shake in Nancy Sinatra boots as multi-colored lights sweep across the dance floor. The epic extravaganza launches SSE’s Franken-Tour across the Southeast and Texas and also boasts Sarasota, Florida’s MeteorEYES, who are on their Winter Migration Tour, and self-proclaimed Atlanta nerd-rock band Go! Robo! Go!

The Sexual Side Effects have only been playing Atlanta for a couple of years, but to say they have taken the city and the Southeast by storm is like underestimating a thunderstorm before it starts firing up a tornado. In fact, it’s hard to imagine with all the high-voltage energy lead vocalist/guitarist Amber Taylor is channeling into the band, it won’t be long until they have the attention of the nation and the entire world, maybe even the galaxy if ETs are tuning in.

Over time, we figured some Kats would be so Kool that they had to be Kool Kat of the Week more than once, and Amber certainly qualifies in spades. Last time we chatted with her in July 2011, she was plotting a neo-glam revolution with her Gilded Trash events in Atlanta and New York. SSE still sports its glam roots in some of their sound, their audacious stage shows and encouragement to people to wear outrageous, sexy costumes to their performances, but the band has revealed itself to be much more. On the Retro side, one can see in-your-face post-punk, new wave and even psychedelic influences, and yet their approach feels right in tune to the 21st century. With a successful EP,an award-winning video, scoring “Best Local Rock Act” and “Best Band Name” in Creative Loafing‘s 2012 Best of Atlanta, sell-out shows from DC to Florida and a Franken-Tour on the horizon, we felt it was high time to catch up again with Amber to find out more about why their kick-off party in Atlanta this Friday is not to be missed and what’s up in a future so bright we imagine they’ll have to wear shades.

ATLRetro: Without giving it all away, what do you want folks to know in advance about Franken-Party?!

Amber Taylor: Franken-Party! is our new party. It started by making a silly flyer with Frankenstein partying with a couple of cold ones, and it inspired a eureka moment. We (The Sexual Side Effects) realized that one of the funnest and most successful shows we produced over the years was at My Sister’s Room in October 2011. The concept was simple – Art + Music. We played, had a couple of guest stars and bands from around town joined us on stage, had an art show, body painting, burlesque queens and tons of other fun eclectic art.

This whole experience can be summed up by the name “Franken-Party!” Pull all kinds of art into a blender – music, visual art, performance art, film, burlesque, drag, costumery, you name it. If it’s art, it has a home. I know I wasn’t supposed to give it all away, but, oh well, I guess we just slept on the first date. Don’t worry I like to make breakfast in the morning.

If Franken-Party is a rock concert, why so much art and half-nakedness? Do I have to be at least half-naked to attend?

It’s only part concert. It’s really an art-party that’s all about the people. People have to enter covering up their “naughty bits,” but if things get a little out of control, so be it! It’s not a party till someone get’s nekid!

You’ve expressed on Facebook a lot lately that you feel this is a big year for you and the Sexual Side Effects. Why now, what’s up and how does this relate to Franken-Tour?

Well, we have been working our tails off night and day over the last couple of years, and have reached a point where we have a team built to help us get more accomplished. In 2013, we have established an agent, publicist, radio promoter and are flirting with a couple of managers as well. This will enable us to put more time and energy into our art.

We hear Ryan McDougall is leaving the band. Who is replacing him and will Franken-Party being his last gig with SSE give the night a bittersweet tint?

RyGuy – which Mike the bassist affectionately coined him – is leaving the band. This will be his farewell show, and a farewell to one part of our journey as a band. It’s a positive thing though! The SSE has always had its core three members – myself, Mike Sidner [bass] and Clay McClure [drums]. We have evolved into a group that incorporates different people into it from time to time or project to project. We still have the same sound, same direction and personality, but now we just get to share the experience with more people and make it a bigger family. We may continue as a trio, or may get another guitarist. We have a couple of people we have auditioned, but either way the train will never stop until our dying days. Art is my mission in life, and it will never stop.

Photo courtesy of The Sexual Side Effects.

Looks like SSE is playing all over the South in the next two months on Franken-Tour. You’ve also played a lot of Florida dates lately. Any plans to go north of the Maxon-Dixon line?

We are going to work on the Southeast, Florida and Texas for a while. Too many bands want to go national overnight, and this is the biggest mistake they can make. The Wall of China was not built overnight; it was built brick by brick on a solid foundation. The U.S. is a big place, and every time we play a city we have to go back within two to three months. We are going to do about five rounds on tour in the Southeast and then figure out what’s next once SSE mania has spread far and wide. In other words, this shit is on!

It seems like your five-song EP HIGH MAINTENANCE and the video for “All She’ll Ever Hurt,” directed by David Joseph and the Comcast/Xfinity Video Award winner at the 2012 Georgia Music Awards, really amped things up for the band. Do you consider that a key turning point?

Well, it has helped a lot, but nothing happens over night. Art is hard work, and there is a long road to travel to get to the point where we want to be in our hearts. The video and the album are the introduction for the band to the world and they still get discovered everyday by people. Surprisingly the UK has really embraced us! As some point soon we will start touring there.

What’s been your favorite gig on this crazy trip so far?

Phasefest in Washington, DC, with Hunter Valentine, Vanity Theft and Glitterlust was one of the most magical shows I have personally felt yet. The club sold out at 300 people, and they had to turn away 200 people at the door AND it was $25 to get in! It was off the chain! I’m surprised the fire marshall didn’t shut it down. Well, at least my amp stayed cool. What an insane night; on top of that, we played the night before in Atlanta at a convention, got in the van after the show and drove straight to DC overnight. I remember being exhausted before we hit the stage, but when we plugged in, it was like a firecracker went off – for the next hour. Thank God for Red Bull! The last song we played the whole crowd was singing along – and they didn’t even know the words!

OK, since we’re ATLRetro, we always like to talk about the past as much as the future. Let’s go back to your roots. How old were you when you discovered glam music? Who was the performer, what happened and why did it appeal to you then?

Well, in all honesty about the glam thing, we have moved away from glam as a definitive title for us. Because of who and what I am, my relationship to Glitterdome  [at The Chamber] in the past, our parallel to the band Placebo, and of course, our Glam night we did called Gilded Trash, we kind of got that label in the begining. This isn’t totally fair to the listener though. We have a much different sound which is more rooted in Post-Punk, Psychedelic Space Rock, New Wave, Brit-Pop, Indie Rock and Indie Pop. Of course, there are elements of ’70s glam in what we do and our sound as well, but that is only a small part of the mixture. Of course, there is also the Joan Jett element of how I look, as well as the T-Rex-ness that gives that aura.

David Bowie, of course, was my all-time favorite. Pat Briggs from the Glitterdome was a big part of my fondness with David and glam in general. After I got to know and perform with him, I had a huge glam fetish. When the movie VELVET GOLDMINE came out, it seemed to boost that whole scene and the nostalgia of it all as well. Some people love that movie and some people hate it, but to me it is an important part of glitter fantasy that every child should have!

When we talked last year, you were talking about the Sexual Side Effects in the context of instigating a neo-glam movement. Do you still feel that’s the best term overall to classify the band is or has it progressed into something different? How do you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

Well, we did set off down that path, but being true to the song and what has come out as an artist we found other elements and music we have drawn inspiration from. We are all about the fantasy of music, rock ‘n’ roll, and the show, but that manifests itself in new ways and new descriptions. It’s an art movement, creating musical art with no boundaries or constraints to what it is. We have come up with a new fusion of sounds that could be described as Progressive Psych Pop. The fun, charisma, and audience participation that glam has still manifests itself in who we are, but our sound is a little outside the box to perfectly fit in the neo-glam classification. We have grown a bit as artists as well which has made it morph into something new. Art in the context of the Flaming Lips is a better parallel for sight, sound, experience, inspiration for the show and audience participation.

OK, back to the future, are you recording anything else, perhaps a full CD, soon? What about more videos?

We have been writing and have a good number of songs laid out to be recorded. We plan to go back into the studio soon and record. We are hoping to have something proper released around Summer 2013.

Photo courtesy of The Sexual Side Effects.

You’ve said that “Really the next step for the band is to take our music and who we are and help change society beyond us.” That’s heavy stuff but all one has to do is look in your eyes to know you mean it. Do you have a master plan, and how can the Sexual Side Effects’ music change the world?

One person at a time. It takes a long time, but we have a whole lifetime. When a teacher has a positive life-changing effect on a student or a social worker or whoever, it’s that moment when they have a purpose greater than themselves. Music is our purpose in life. To help others, and to share it with others makes it even more amazing. It’s a universal language that connects us all, regardless of barriers.

Finally, you’re just having a helluva lot of fun, aren’t you?

Why yes! It’s been a mountain load of hard work though. I worked my fingers to the bone the last couple of years and realized I need to stop and smell the roses. So this year I have dedicated to having more fun in everything we do. I think part of having Franken-Party! is my need to throw down at an epic party, too!

If you miss Franken-Party in Atlanta, here are the preliminary dates for the Franken-Tour:

1/25 – Atlanta, GA – The Drunken Unicorn
2/7   – Knoxville, TN – Preservation Pub
2/8   – Birmingham, AL – The Nick
2/9   – New Orleans – TBA
2/10 – Houston, TX – Cactus Music In-Store
2/11 – San Antonio, TX – The Thirsty Camel
2/12 – Fort Worth, TX – Wherehouse
2/13 – Austin, TX – Parish Underground
2/14 – Houston, TX – Mango’s
2/15 – Baton Rouge – The Library (ex. North gate tav)
2/16 – Mobile, AL – Alabama Music Box
2/28 – Nashville, TN – 12th + Porter
3/1   – Cookeville, TN – Miracle Mountain Farms
3/7   – Carrollton, GA – The Alley Cat
3/23 – Asheville, NC – Boiler Room
3/24 – Charlotte, NC – The Saloon

More Dates TBA. Check the Sexual Side Effects’ Website  and like their Facebook page for updates.

 

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Happy Birthday, Elvis! Big Mike Geier’s Top Five Picks for Songs Elvis Would Have Covered Had He Lived

Posted on: Jan 5th, 2012 By:
Elvis Presley was born on Jan. 8, 1935, and while it’s a big unnerving to think about the King of Rock n Roll as a 76-year-old, wouldn’t it have been just grand if he was still enjoying a recording and concert career into the ’70s, ’80s and today? A big part of the fun at the Elvis Royale, the spectacular annual Vegas-style birthday celebration thrown by KingSized and the Dames Aflame, isn’t Big Mike Geier crooning the same old hits but having some fun by speculating “W.W .E.D.?” with audience members submitting requests for song s that they think Elvis would have covered. The band selects their favorite of these requests and plays them as the show’s encore. In honor of this year’s show Sat. Jan. 7 at the Variety Playhouse (doors 7:30 p.m., show at 8:30 p.m.), ATLRetro asked Big Mike to recall some of the best “W.W.E.D.?” selections from previous Elvis Royale shows:

 

1. “Thunder Road” and “Born To Run” (Bruce Springsteen)
No doubt Elvis would have been a Bruce Springsteen fan with his triumphant lyrics for the blue collar rebel.

 

2. “Hallelujah” (Leonard Cohen)
We’re pretty sure Elvis would have been drawn to the dramatic lyrics and gospel appeal.

 

3. “Under Pressure” (Queen and David Bowie)
Elvis constantly struggled with the pressures of celebrity and also seemed to have compassion for the have-nots.

 

4. “My Heart Will Go On” (Celine Dion)
Elvis loved the melodramatic Broadway tunes, and this theme from TITANIC is just such a tear-jerker.

 

5. “Do You Realize?” (Flaming Lips)
It would have been great to hear Elvis interpret this tune in a recording produced by Rick Rubin a la Johnny Cash’s AMERICAN RECORDINGS.

 

Which songs will Big Mike and the Kingsized crew perform for the “W.W.E.D.?” encore this Saturday?  You’ll just have to come to the show to find out.  Better get your ticket in advance, though.  With this being Big Mike’s last Kingsized performance before he leaves for his residency in Seattle (he is performing in Teatro ZinZanni’s CALIENTE show from February through June), it looks like the show is going to sell out in advance. Get your advance tickets here.
All photos courtesy of KingSized and the Dames Aflame. Photo credit: Emily Butler. 

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This Week in Retro Atlanta, May 16-22, 2011

Posted on: May 17th, 2011 By:

Monday May 16

Andrew & the Disapyramids

Swing to Joe Gransden, trumpet player extraordinaire, and his 16-piece orchestra and special guest Jazz Tenor sax great Skip Lane this week during Big Band Night at Cafe 290 on the first and third Monday of every month. Andrew & the Disapyramids bring back the best of surf, doo wop, Mod, soul, sock hop and all types of retro rock ‘n’ roll during a free gig at Noni’s Bar & Deli tonight. Read the Kool Kat feature on band-member Joshua Longino here. Find out if Kingsized and Tongo Hiti lead singer Big Mike Geier will croon a tune or two for tips as Monday night’s celebrity bartender at newly opened Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Parlor. Northside Tavern hosts its weekly Blues Jam.

Tuesday May 17

The Age of Aquarius rises again as HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical opens a weeklong run through May 22 at the 1929 Fabulous Fox Theatre. The legendary hippie rock opera follows a group of hopeful free-spirited young people as they explore sexual identity, challenge racism, experiment with drugs and burn their draft cards. This production won a 2009 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival.

Find out and see the winners of the 2011 Mid-Century Modern Georgia Photo Contest, during a reception at Gallery See in the Savannah College of Art and Design-Atlanta, Building C at 1600 Peachtree Street. Photos depict buildings or sites in the state that are part of the design movement that lasted from the 1930s-1970s, and attendees also will have a last chance to view the exhibition, “Capturing an Icon: Ezra Stoller and Modern Architecture,” featuring works by the celebrated American architecture photographer.

Grab your horn and head to Twain’s in Decatur for a Joe Gransden jazz jam session starting at 9 PM. Notorious DJ Romeo Cologne spins the best ‘70s funk and disco at 10 High in Virginia-Highland. Catch Tuesday Retro in the Metro nights at Midtown’s Deadwood Saloon, featuring live video mixes of ’80s, ’90s, and 2Ks hits.

Wednesday May 18

Get ready to rumba, cha-cha and jitterbug at the weekly Swing Night at Graveyard TavernFrankie’s Blues Mission and Danny “Mudcat” Dudeck bring on the blues at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack and Northside Tavern respectively. Dance to ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s hits during Retro in the Metro Wednesdays presented by Godiva Vodka, at Pub 71 in Brookhaven.

Thursday May 19

Iconic ’80s alternative and psychedelic rock band The Flaming Lips play The Tabernacle. Listen to Tongo Hiti’s luxurious live lounge sounds, as well as some trippy takes on iconic pop songs, just about every Thursday night at Trader Vic’s. Party ‘70s style with DJ Romeo Cologne at Aurum Lounge. Breeze Kings and Chickenshack bring on the blues respectively at Northside Tavern and Fat Matt’s Rib Shack.Bluegrass Thursday at Red Light Cafe features Bluebilly Grit.

Read the rest of this entry »

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