Kool Kat of the Week: SEX BBQ’s Kate Jan Gets Scandalous Turning Up the Heat With a Debut Album, SEX NOIR CITY, and a Saucy Shindig at the Drunken Unicorn

Posted on: Apr 1st, 2015 By:
sbbq live 003

Photo courtesy of SEX BBQ

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

Kate Jan, New York transplant and guitar slingin’ skateboarding badass punk rocker chick and her beloved debaucherous band and partners in crime, SEX BBQ [current lineup: Kate Jan (vocals/guitar); Steve LaBate (guitar); Rob Bellury (bass); Steve Brown (drums); and Steve Albertson (everything else)] will be shakin’ a tail feather this Saturday, April 4, at the Drunken Unicorn, with Young Rapids and MammaBear to boot! So, come on down and have a smut slingin’ hell-raisin’ ruckus with SEX BBQ at the Drunken Unicorn this Saturday at 9pm!

Kate, not your typical psych-punk space cowgirl, has been slingin’ her guitar and writing music since childhood, major influences including Riot Grrrl punk rockers, Bikini Kill, as well as the Breeders, ‘90s skate thrash punk and even Chuck Berry. In 2012, Kate voyaged to the southern underground to continue her Neuropsychology education and decided to add a little rockin’ debauchery to the mix! SEX BBQ formed shortly thereafter and have shared bills with Hospitality, Single Mothers, Beach Day, Little Tybee, Concord America, Belle & Sebastian and Warehouse, just to name a few. They’ve also been featured in several national music outlets [PunkNews.org; Under the Gun Review; Speakers in Code; and Magnet Magazine]. SEX BBQ’s first single “Locus of Control” b/w “Wake Up” was recorded by Ed Rawls and Justin McNeight (The Black Lips; The Coathangers; Those Darlins) in the summer of 2012, with both tracks appearing on their new album, SEX NOIR CITY, debuting this spring. The album’s nine new tracks, recorded by Damon Moon [Rrest; Iron Jayne] in East Atlanta, are chock full of surf riffs and garage punk elements, destined to satisfy the retro rockers in us all!

ATLRetro caught up with Kate for a quick interview about SEX BBQ’s debut album, SEX NOIR CITY; her New York City underground roots; and her take on the band being described as “garage, surf, psych, prog, metal, dream pop, indie rock, Tom Waits-style junkyard blues, B-52s-esque, Spaghetti Western weirdness!” And while you’re checking at our little Q&A with Kate, get an earful of SEX BBQ’s vintage, noir rock ‘n’ roll sound, here!

SEX BBQ  murder by T.O. Lawrence

Photo Credit: T.O. Lawrence

ATLRetro: What a cool name for a band! Sex BBQ! Can you fill our readers in on the funky story behind the name and how you got together?

Kate Jan: Thanks! Steve L. and I started playing songs together in my apartment in Atl – we just started writing, playing and having fun. We gradually found Steve #2 (drums), Steve #3 (keys and percussion), Laura Palmer (vocals and organ) and Everett (bass) through friends. The extremely talented and creative Laura Palmer introduced the name SEX BBQ to our vernacular from a satirical guide to decoding your teen’s text lingo (SBBQ). After briefly entertaining and then ignoring the possibility that we’d be set aside as a joke band or a frat-rock dad-rock sextet, we embraced it as the best combination of all words ever. And so SEX BBQ was birthed.

As a skateboarding, guitar-slingin’ neuropsychologist and rockin’ New Yorker chick to boot, what brought you to The Dirty Dirty?

I came for a Neuropsychology Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Emory after getting my PhD, and stayed for the medium bowl at the Old 4th Ward Skatepark.

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Photo courtesy of SEX BBQ

The band’s sound has been described as having a “garage, surf, psych, prog, metal, dream pop, indie rock, Tom Waits-style junkyard blues, B-52s-esque, Spaghetti Western weirdness,” which of course sounds like a helluva good time! How would you describe your sound and your live show?

That pretty much nails our sound. Thankfully we’ve got tapes and records now! Our live show is a party all around. We don’t mess around with stage banter but we play, dance and mingle while we sling those axes and sing our hearts out.

We see that you picked up a guitar pretty early on. Can you tell our readers a story about how you got started playing music?

I got two stories. My mother was a huge Joni Mitchell fan and played acoustic guitar. She played and sang for me. My Dad played piano and actually now plays church organ, which is kind of weird because we are Jewish. But, you know, when music calls it calls. When I was 6, I picked up a guitar and wrote her a song for Mother’s Day. It went something like “I Love You. You’re My Mom.”

I took a few lessons when I was 12 or so, and learned the basics, you know – songs by The Muffs, Seven Year Bitch and most of THE CROW (1994) soundtrack. After that, lying on my floor devouring mid-90s punk and – after Kurt Cobain died – listening to Nirvana day & night went hand in hand with writing my own songs.

Album cover by Steve AlbertsonYour top retro influences are listed as the B-52s, Bikini Kill, the Pixies, Pink Floyd, and even film composer, Morricone, famous for so much, including his Spaghetti Western film scores. What influenced you the most with regards to such a wide-variety of music makers?

It’s a collective list from our variety of band members. I don’t even know who Morricone is, and I always liked the Breeders WAY better than the Pixies. I cried when they broke up way back when. Like bawled.  My major influences are Bikini Kill, Blake Babies and all of 1990s’ skate and thrash punk and NY Hardcore. Recently, I’ve been heavily influenced by The Delmonas, Chuck Berry (at least I hope) and Grace Slick.

As a musician coming from New York, the metropolis of underground music, how would you rate Atlanta and its rockin’ underground music scene? And who are some of your favorite local bands?

My favorite Athens band is straight-up grit-dirty garage party rock trio Free Associates. They rock my world. In Atlanta I really dig Concord America, Todaythemoon, Tomorrowthesun and Jungol. I spent my teenage years going to CBGB, ABC No Rio and Tramps seeing bands like The Skabs, L.E.S. Stitches, Agnostic Front, Bouncing Souls and my friends’ bands. It was just way easier then – there was still punk and hardcore. I think all those clubs are closed now.  While living in Queens in the 2000s, I honestly couldn’t afford to go out. To be verrrrry honest, I spent lots of time writing electronic music on Reason in my tiny apartment. I was dating a hip-hop producer for awhile – shout out to Beatnik & K-Salaam – and got to go to shows and meet people like Talib Kweli, M1 from Dead Prez, Pharaoh Monch and Wordsworth. I almost bowled with Talib Kweli when Brooklyn Bowl first opened. I also hung out with a metal engineering crew and got to see and chill with Lamb of God and my favorite indulgence, nu metal stylies Killswitch Engage. If I had lived in Brooklyn it would have been different in terms of exploring underground/indie music, but holy rent!!

SEX BBQ sacrifice by T.O. Lawrence

Photo Credit: T.O. Lawrence

If you could put together a dream line-up of bands to play with [still around or not], who would it be and why?

Free Associates, Gun Party, Blake Babies, The Delmonas, Jefferson Airplane, Sick of it All, H2O and The Black Lips. Because they all have unique ways of playing energetic shows and they’re all really great. And the Descendents.

You’re touring in support of your debut album, SEX NOIR CITY. Can you tell our readers a little about it?

We haven’t released tour dates for this spring and summer. We are playing April 4th at the Drunken Unicorn and that’s all I can reveal now. Tehee!

Anything scandalous planned for your shakin’ shindig happening this Saturday at the Drunken Unicorn?

I could tell you, but then I’d have to involve you in our Master Plan and you might get in deep, deep shit. Seriously though, once, during a Drunken Unicorn show we created our own micro-economy by distributing SEX Bar-B-Bucks. It was the genesis of the sharing economy and our gateway to taking over the world. It was Everett and Laura Palmer’s idea. In sum, expect wizardry.

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Photo courtesy of SEX BBQ

What’s next for Kate Jan and Sex BBQ?

We are SO STOKED for our release of SEX NOIR CITY, and we will have tapes and a limited run of white vinyls with hand-painted jackets for sale. I think we are even more excited about the new music that we’ve been writing in the meantime. I have a jam space and recording studio in my basement so I think we’re going to record an LP there soon in a collaboration with Jones Maintenance Revue.

Can you tell our readers something you’d like folks to know that they don’t know already?

Music and medicine are both great, but growing flowers and raising a puppy rock too.

What question do you wish somebody would ask you and what’s the answer?

Q: What does your wisest and oldest mentor say about SEX BBQ?
A:  My grandfather is 94, fought in the Royal Air Force as a pilot after escaping Poland, is wildly into classical music, and recently discovered the genius of Brian Jones and the Rolling Stones:  “Keep enjoying, Katie, the world of music, which adds a disproportionally large percentage to human happiness on this earth.”

SEX BBQ playing cards by T.O. Lawrence

Photo Credit: T.O. Lawrence

 

All photos courtesy of SEX BBQ and used with permission.

Category: Kool Kat of the Week | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Kool Kats of the Week: Nashville’s Blackfoot Gypsies Are Out to Prove Rock’s Not Dead by Blastin’ Out Their Raw and Modern Twist on ‘60s and ‘70s-style Rock, Country ‘n’ Delta Blues at The 120 Tavern & Music Hall

Posted on: Feb 17th, 2015 By:

by Melanie CrewBFG logo2
Managing Editor

Nashvilles’s Blackfoot Gypsies will make a rockin’ pit stop in Atlanta during their Winter 2015 Tour, opening for old-school folk, rock ‘n’ alt-country punkers, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ and fellow Nashville rocker, Warner E. Hodges of Jason & the Scorchers at The 120 Tavern & Music Hall in Marietta, this Saturday, Feb. 21 at 8 pm! If you’re looking for a fresh sound harkening back to the days of classic rock ‘n’ blues, come on down for the ruckus that will being goin’ down this Saturday night at The 120 Tavern & Music Hall!

Blackfoot Gypsies, hailing from Music City USA and formed by Matthew Paige (vocals/guitar) and Zack Murphy (drums) in 2010 have expanded into the rock outfit they are today with the addition of Dylan Whitlow (vocals/bass) and Ollie Dogg (harmonica). The band’s just a few short months shy of releasing their new LP, HANDLE IT (April 2015), put out by Nashville’s famed genre-bending, Plowboy Records! “Under My Skin,” their first single from HANDLE IT was released Jan. 2015 and will soon be made into their first music video for the LP. And if that wasn’t enough, after delving into their deep grooves and rockin’ riffs, you’ll just have to get your grimy little hands on the band’s earlier releases [2010’s EP BLACK GYPSIES – self-released; 2011’s EP DANDEE CHEESEBALL – self-released; 2012’s LP ON THE LOOSE– self-released; and 2013’s Limited 7” “The New Sounds of TransWestern” – released by Fat Elvis Records). Blackfoot Gypsies headlined the Muddy Roots Music Festival in 2013 and have shared bills with Alabama Shakes, Trampled by Turtles and the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Catch ‘em while you can, because these fellas are on a rockin’ voyage with no end in sight!

ATLRetro caught up with Paige and Murphy for a quick interview about the band’s retro rock influences; their upcoming LP “Handle It”; Nashville’s music scene; and their take on the current state of Rock ‘n’ Roll!

And while you’re takin’ a gander at our little Q&A with Paige and Murphy, why not take a peek at the Blackfoot Gypsies and their Jan. 9, 2014 live recording on Nashville’s The Written Record: Sessions at Electric Kite Studio <here> and get an earful of their news single off their soon-to-be released LP, “Under My Skin.

L-R: Matthew Paige, Dylan Whitlow, Zack Murphy, Ollie Dogg

L-R: Matthew Paige, Dylan Whitlow, Zack Murphy, Ollie Dogg

ATLRetro: So what’s the secret origin story of the Blackfoot Gypsies and how did you get your name?

Paige: The secret is a secret, so I’ll tell you a lie that may be the truth. When you’re from nowhere and you’re headed to the same place, you grab hold of all the resources you can. You hold onto your friends until they become family — generating a channel of common earthly vibrations that are streamed into a concentrated beam that transforms your world, if even for a minute, to a plane of love and understanding within our hilarious existence. The Blackfoot Gypsies are a distraction for your distractions that are distracting you from your passion. We’ve developed a unique walk as we tread down many over-walked paths, garnering us blackfeet, while our gypsy eyes are transfixed on the present. Travel till you die. Home is for the birds. Smoke on that for a while.

Murphy: We got our name from the cosmos. There are no secrets within the cosmos, only our naked truths of the origin of all nature.

You’ve listed the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Faces and MC5 among your top influences. All of these were founded in the ’60s, which it’s hard to believe is 50 years ago. Why do you think these acts and musicians have stayed relevant for so long? Are they the Beethovens of the 20th century?

Paige: They had a similar approach to living the music, not just playing it, that we do. It feels so pure. They were pushing their limits to reach the world — expressing their lives and having people connect over it. That’s all we’re really looking for after all, a genuine connection. It’s magic when it happens, and it happens around magic. Real, live music is magic.

Murphy: There’s only one Beethoven. There’s no need for any more Beethovens. The Stones, Dylan, Faces & MC5 are definitely all influences. They’ve stayed relevant because of their uniqueness. There’s no need to have another Stones, Dylan, Faces, MC5, etc… They did it right the first time. You can’t top the original. So, while they’re our influences, we aim to keep our music unique to us. There’s only one Blackfoot Gypsies, the world only needs one because nobody does us better than we do.

Dylan really evolved throughout his long career from folk to rock. His 70s work, especially “Blood on the Tracks,” is seminal to us. What’s his

L-R: Ollie Dogg, Dylan Whitlow, Matthew Paige, Zack Murphy

L-R: Ollie Dogg, Dylan Whitlow, Matthew Paige, Zack Murphy

key period (or album/song) for you and why?

Paige: The period where he transformed from trying to be someone else into just being as radically himself as he could be. He lived how we should all live our lives: copy the masters that teach you your art and then harness the power that is you, and let yourself explode.

Murphy: I don’t have a favorite. All of it is amazing, but most of all I love that he is still doin’ it and keepin’ it fresh. There’s no reason to stop, and because he hasn’t stop he’s stayed relevant; and is not a throwback act. Bob Dylan is still exciting.

We’ve talked about influences, but you also have a very fresh sound which merges roots, blues and we’ve even heard “Zeppelin.” Who else is on your key “retro” listening list? Do you think rock music still has some places to go and how do you keep your sound fresh and vibrant?

Paige: Cab Calloway, John Lee Hooker, Little Richard, Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter. People with soul. Real rock n’ roll is just a code for truly visceral music. Soul doesn’t go out of style, and when you put a fat slab of soul on something real, and then you have it IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE! That’s as fresh as it gets. Yesterday, today AND tomorrow. I’m not sure music goes anywhere; it’s just a part of us. And, it’s fun to get excited about it.

Murphy: Anything visceral is on my listening list. It doesn’t have to be retro. It could be new hip hop. Rock music can always go new places. The best way to sound fresh and vibrant is to be you and not worry about the rules.

ZM, DW, DO, MP

Zack Murphy, Dylan Whitlow, Ollie Dogg, Matthew Paige

You’re touring in support of your latest album, “On the Loose.” What would you like people to know about it?

Paige: It’s a fun record, capturing a great place and time. We did all of it on 2-inch tape, so the vinyl sounds especially tasty. It’s got a good vibe and the songs lay a good base for where we plan on visiting with our next records. I’m proud of it still, and I wouldn’t change a thing on it.

Murphy: “On the Loose” is an album that I’m very proud of. Matthew and I were just gettin’ our sound and new line-up together. I think it was a great first step out into the world of album-making for us. We love playin’ these songs, but “On the Loose” has become part of the template for the live show. Come see a show. Buy an album. Get in our van…

And you’ve just scored a deal with Plowboy Records for your next LP, HANDLE IT. Tell us about that.

Paige: Plowboy Records honors the past, but in a relevant way. It was a no-brainer to go with them. Everything they stand for. I find myself saying, “Yeah, that’s right! Me too!” They’ll be putting out our next album HANDLE IT (out Apr. 14) on vinyl record and CD. We’re really excited for the world to hear it. I know a guy who makes fake platinum records, and I’m going to send one to my mom. I’m pretty sure she’ll fall for it.

Murphy: Plowboy Records are a natural fit for us. They are based in Nashville and are very much into the same stuff we are. HANDLE IT is the BFG logonext step. I’m also very proud of this album. It is a total natural evolution from our previous releases and I can’t wait to get this album out into the world. We’re playin’ the songs out live too. So, once again, come out and see the show.

Nashville is Music City and many folks think about country, but plenty of great rock bands have emerged from it. What’s it like to be a rock band in a country town right now? Any other Nashville bands we should be looking out for?

Paige: Nashville’s been the host to great musicians of all genres for a long time, although country is the popular one here. But, the cool thing about the “rock” bands here is that if you slowed them down, and mellowed them out, more often than not it’s basically country music, and I love it! I like to think of ourselves as more of an energetic, eclectic band of stray dog people. Bands I like to see in town are Margo Price, Justin Collins, Ranch Ghost; any band with soul. There’s a lot going on around here.

Murphy: Nashville has always had good rock ‘n’ roll; people are just now talking about it. Outside of the Music Row modern bro-country stuff, REAL country music is actually pretty damn similar to REAL rock ‘n’ roll. I don’t know how or why people always forget that, but we’re happy to remind them that good music is just good music, no need to read between the lines.

Show PosterDo you have anything special planned for the Atlanta stop on your tour?

Paige: We’ll be shooting a music video, for the first single off HANDLE IT. We have some of our Atlanta friends coming out to be in it with us. I’m predicting lots of fun and nudity, but who knows. I’d really like to go to Manuel’s and get glared at over a beer. We’re also looking for the best donut in town. You know the place? Let’s do it!

Murphy: We’re gonna shoot that video and tear up the town. We haven’t played with Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, but we’re pretty damn stoked to be doin’ that. I’m sure something special will happen. The most special things are rarely planned.

What question do you wish somebody would ask you in an interview but they never do and what’s the answer?

Paige: Interviewer: “Can I please buy you dinner and our new, soon-to-be, matching big bird tattoos?” Me: “Yes.”

Murphy: Interviewer: “Would you like a drink?”  Me – “Yes.”

All photos courtesy of Blackfoot Gypsies and used with permission.

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Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back onto the Pavement! The World Famous Drive-Invasion Hits Turner Field!

Posted on: Sep 4th, 2014 By:

driveinvasion2014The World Famous Drive-Invasion 2014; Turner Field Green Lot (521 Capitol Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30312); Saturday, September 6; Gates open @ 10 a.m.; Admission $25 per person with car or $12.50 walk-up/no car ($26 through Ticketmaster).

By Aleck Bennett
Contributing Writer

You can’t keep some things down. When it turned out that the conversion to studio-controlled digital projectors made it impossible for the Starlight Drive-In to continue hosting the annual Drive-Invasion, things looked bleak for a while. But thanks to the tireless efforts of some of Atlanta’s finest, Drive-Invasion has found a new home: Turner Field. They’ll be setting up in Turner Field’s Green Lot and among the attractions you will find a 1000-foot grilling area, Jim Stacy’s Food Truck Midway (serving up a wide array of local culinary delights curated by Pallookaville’s own Mr. Stacy), the Silverscreen Gasoline Car Show (featuring the Discovery Channel CAFÉ RACER host and custom car celebrity, Atlanta’s own Bryan Fuller), an artists’ market, a kids’ play zone and two music stages.

Music-wise, you can expect an ear-filling variety of bands designed for maximum enjoyment before the sun goes down. You want some retro surf-rock action? Step right up and enjoy the sounds of Mystery Men?, Andrew & the Disapyramids (featuring ATLRetro Kool Kat Joshua Longino), and a tribute to the legendary Penetrators. You need some country-fried tastiness? Move it on over to the honky-tonkin’ tunes of Ghost Riders Car Club (featuring Kool Kat Spike Fullerton) and Cletis & His City Cousins (featuring Kool Kat Cletis Reid) . In the mood for some frenzied beat action? Get in the garage with The Brimstones, Rocket 350 and Jimmy & the Teasers. And for straight-up adrenaline-pumping rock and roll, blast off to Bigfoot (featuring Kool Kat Jett Bryant), Dusty Booze & the Baby Haters, Gargantua and The Biters.

But all that is prelude. They call this Drive-Invasion for a reason: drive-in movies. And they’re celebrating the end of the summer with a trio of beach party horror flicks that will keep the mood rocking until the last frame unspools across the screen: THE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH, JAWS and MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND.

hpb001THE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH (1964); Dir. Del Tenney; Starring John Scott, Alice Lyon and Allan Laurel; Trailer here.

THE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH answers the question “why only have one Creature from the Black Lagoon, when you can have a whole gang of them?” It tells a story old as time: when radioactive waste is dumped into the ocean, it creates a whole mess of monsters who then rise from the depths to kill innocent teens. It’s then up to young Hank and concerned father Dr. Gavin to find a way to stop the rampaging amphibious creatures. Imagine if HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (1996) came out in 1964, and replace the gore and nudity with dancing and stomping beach music (provided by the Del-Aires, with half of their songs and all of the film’s score written by future porn legend Zebedy Colt!). HORROR zips along breezily thanks to director Del Tenney’s sure hand, and thanks to him keeping his tongue firmly planted in cheek. It’s not quite a send-up, but more a lighthearted take on teen horror and beach party flicks, much like INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN (1957).

jaws-posterJAWS (1975); Dir. Steven Spielberg; Starring Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw; based on a novel by Peter Benchley; john oath Trailer here.

Then there’s JAWS. What can one say about this movie? When I was a tyke, it was so effective that even this unabashed horror movie fanatic—as committed then as I am today—believed that there were sharks hiding under my bed. (And yes, I fully grasped the logical problem in that scenario.) JAWS established Steven Spielberg as a Big-Time Director after years of working in TV and smaller-budgeted films like THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS (1974). It also singlehandedly created the modern summer “blockbuster” phenomenon (and simultaneously marked the end of the “New Hollywood” period of the late 1960s and early ‘70s), and its style and craftsmanship has exerted a lasting influence far beyond its immediate impact. It is, in many ways, a nearly perfect movie. Pitch-perfect performances from Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw are wed to dialogue so fresh that it’s still being quoted, imitated and parodied nearly 40 years after the film’s release. Add to that Spielberg’s precise direction, one of John Williams’ best scores and Verna Field’s expert editing, which work together to create an escalating tension that reaches peaks high enough to make you completely ignore the badly malfunctioning mechanical shark.

mad_doctor_of_blood_island_poster_01MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND (1968); Dir. Eddie Romero and Gerardo de Leon; Starring John Ashley, Angelique Pettyjohn and Ronald Remy; Trailer (featuring narration from the legendary Brother Theodore) here.

Rounding out the program is MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND, probably the pinnacle of writer/producer/director Eddie Romero’s Philippine-lensed series of “Blood Island” movies. And while that may sound like a pretty small category for a film to qualify as “the best,” keep in mind that there are something like 10 of them (six in the series, and four tangentially related). In this entry, John Ashley—the co-star of multiple AIP “Beach Party” flicks—stars as a pathologist who turns up at Blood Island to study the health of the natives, only to find mysterious deaths linked to the appearance of what appears to be green blood. Throw in Angelique Pettyjohn, heaps of nudity and gore, some of the most ludicrous pseudo-science ever spouted in a movie script and a rampaging monster that must be seen to be believed, and you have what amounts to one of the most definitive drive-in movies ever created. While it may never be regarded as a cinematic classic, it is an experience that I wholeheartedly suggest you undertake. It’s not for nothing that Eddie Romero was named the National Artist of the Philippines in 2003.

And let me take this time to warn you: to survive your exposure to the energies of MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND and to ward off contagion in the days after Drive-Invasion, you must prepare yourself by taking the Oath of the Green Blood, which will ensure that you will never become a green-blooded monster. Vials of Doctor Lorca’s Green Blood Potion will be available to the first 1000 visitors who stop by the Drive-Invasion booth or Professor Morté’s Silver Scream Spookshow booth. Remember: stay safe. Protection is prevention.

Aleck Bennett is a writer, blogger, pug warden, pop culture enthusiast, raconteur and bon vivant from the greater Atlanta area. Visit his blog at doctorsardonicus.wordpress.com

Category: Features, Retro Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Kool Kats of the Week: Pillage & Plunder, the “Musical Mad Scientists” Rock The Earl While Promoting Raucous Reptilian Love With Gamera and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Posted on: May 19th, 2014 By:

by Melanie Crew
Contributing Writer

Pillage & Plunder, “weaned on the teat of comic books, video games, jazz, mathematics, punk and prog” will be rockin’ to the tune of Turtle at The Earl this Friday, May 23! It’ll be a night of mischief and mayhem with a celebration of the release of their debut LP, “The Show Must Go Wrong,” out August 5, along with Atlanta’s Slowriter and Mice in Cars, in conjunction with World Turtle Day! You won’t want to miss Pillage & Plunder’s rockin’ reptilian ruckus at The Earl this Friday!

Pillage & Plunder, Atlanta’s indie-prog/jazz-punk trio is made up of Gokul Parasuram (guitar/bass/vocals), Hsiang-Ming Wen (bass/guitar/vocals) and Noah Kess (drums/vibes). In no way are they newbies to the indie, pop-culture scene, having shared the stage with Tennessee’s indie, “rock n roll fablers” and Mega Man fanatics, The Protomen and Paper Route. They’ve also been rockin’ around town delivering their “rock magic” and “beautiful chaos” at several of Atlanta’s rockin’ venues: The Star Bar, Under the Couch, WonderRoot, Smith’s Olde Bar, 529, the Masquerade, the Inman Park Festival, just to name a few! And they’ve been busy recording since 2009 [2009 – “The Artisan/Blue” single; 2011 – “Look Inside For The Prize” (EP); 2012 – “Summer Days/Hit & Run” single; 2013 – “Goodnight Jack” (acoustic EP)]. Pillage & Plunder is a rockin’ band and chaotic force you won’t want to miss!

ATLRetro caught up with the fellas of Pillage & Plunder, for a quick interview about their rockin’ retro sounds, their love of all things geeky, the importance of the preservation of our 200-million-year-old turtle pals and their August 5 debut of their LP, “The Show Must Go Wrong”.

And while you’re takin’ a gander at our little Q&A with the band, take a listen to Pillage & Plunder’s “Summer Days” here.

ATLRetro: What’s in a name? Pillage & Plunder sounds more swashbuckler than comics, retro video games, jazz, math and punk. Is there an adventurous story of rock behind the name? Does “X” really mark the spot? Come on and fill our readers in on how you earned such a name!

Gokul: When we started, we had trouble thinking up good names. Every week, I’d bring new band names to a buddy of mine who’d always laugh at our ideas. This friend always suggested (jokingly) that we name ourselves Pillage & Plunder. It sounded corny and had no obvious connection to our music at the time, but we honestly couldn’t come up with anything better. Ten years later, nothing has changed.

How did you rockin’ dudes come together as a band? Was it rock love at first sight or was there a little shakin’, rattlin’ and rollin’ along the way?

Gokul: Let’s go with rock and roll love at first sight. Hsiang-Ming and I sat together in our eighth-grade history class. We became buddies. Watching movies led to video games and anime conventions, which led to guitars and ultimately to writing/recording demos in our bedrooms. Early Pillage & Plunder rehearsals comprised of covers and jams, but we picked up some momentum as original material started entering our repertoire. We gigged around with a drummer who was a high school friend until 2011, when Noah joined the band. I would describe Noah as rock and roll love at first phone conversation.

How would you describe your sound? We’ve seen the band described as paying homage to ’50s martini lounge, ’70s psych-prog and ’90s pop punk. What should our readers expect when they come to your show?

Gokul: We pay homage to these sounds and more on a nightly basis! It’s the byproduct of having three genre-hopping musical hoarders in the same band. Generally you can expect a lot of variety at our gigs, but all of our songs tend to have at least one big heavy riff moment. Look out for the big heavy riff moments!

We see that you ‘navigated the dreams of Frank Zappa and King Crimson’.  What about these artists influenced you the most?

Gokul: The most captivating thing about the music of bands from that era is this sense that both anything can happen and that almost everything does happen. It’s fun to see artists explore what they can and can’t get away with, and that mindset is more prevalent in experimental forms of music.

Tell our readers a little about how you navigated the music scene.  What drew you to music? Have you always had a desire to play in front of big crowds or was it something you came to love later in life?

Hsiang-Ming: We each come from different backgrounds of music. Gokul started out learning jazz guitar from an early age, Noah was a marching band geek playing percussion and I was an orchestra nerd playing violin from elementary school onwards, eventually diving into guitar and bass in high school. Music is something we all are extremely passionate about and feel comfortable communicating in. We love playing live and definitely feed off the enthusiasm and energy of the crowd. Shows are like a dialogue, and it’s no fun talking to a wall. Or maybe I’m just not talking to the right ones.

In celebration of ‘World Turtle Day’ we see that you’ll be rockin’ out alongside some classic turtle-lovin’ cinema.  We at ATLRetro love our vintage Kaiju flicks, so of course we’re super giddy you’re including 1969’s GAMERA VS. GUIRON, and it’s totally tubular that THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES will be making an appearance as well! We think it’s pretty rad that you’re  not only promoting your rockin’ tunes, but are also promoting the preservation of some rockin’ descendants of prehistoric creatures.  Can you tell our readers about your love for turtles and why you’re interested in promoting and preserving them at this show?

Hsiang-Ming: YES!! This is going to be a great show! I don’t have a really good reason for loving turtles other than the fact thatthey’re AWESOME and have been around since over 200 million years ago! I just learned about World Turtle Day this year by chance and I think any event or organization that promotes the preservation of an endangered species is a cause worth talking about. We decided to do a show about it to have some fun and shed some light on a topic that is largely out of the public’s mind. The TMNT and Kaiju films are an added bonus that we tagged on not only for their pure entertainment value and because they’re amazing, but also to give people something to relate to, because kicking Foot Soldier butt and being an oversized tortoise is clearly something we’ve all dealt with in life. You can learn more about the American Tortoise Rescue and donate to their cause here. 

Can you tell our readers a little about your debut LP, ‘The Show Must Go Wrong’ coming out in August?

Hsiang-Ming:The Show Must Go Wrong” is our debut LP that we’ve been working on since 2012 and we cannot be more excited to finally release it in August! The title comes from an episode of the TV show “Parks & Recreation” that we felt reflected the songs and general mood/state of the band during the making of this album. From parting ways with our original drummer, getting all of our equipment stolen at SXSW and coping with failed relationships along the way, we’ve hurdled through a decent share of obstacles to realize that life will always throw obstacles at you, but you just have to keep on chugging and push forward, even if you make a fool of yourself in the process.

Any special plans for your show on the 23rd at The Earl?

Hsiang-Ming: Yes! We will be playing with fellow locals Slowriter and Mice in Cars who are both amazing bands if you’ve never seen them. Aside from the music, as you know, we will be screening the original 1990 TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES film along with GAMERA VS. GUIRON (1969). Local turtle-loving brewers Terrapin Beer Co. have also generously teamed up with us to donate a few cases of free RecreationAle to attending guests [Supplies are limited so come early!]  Also, if you come to the show wearing green we’ll give you a little souvenir to take home with you! A portion of the proceeds from the show will be donated to the American Tortoise Rescue as well. You can RSVP to the event here.

What’s next for Pillage & Plunder?

Hsiang-Ming: After our World Turtle Party on May 23, we will be doing a mini regional tour during the month of June and part of July, prior to our album release in August. Afterwards, we will tour more extensively to promote the new record. On top of that, we are also working on finishing our first music video and have started demoing some new songs for our next album.

Can you tell our readers something you’d like folks to know that they don’t know already?

Hsiang-Ming: Before Noah joined the band in 2011, Pillage & Plunder‘s original lineup competed against his old band Colorblind aka Colourblind in a traditional high school Battle of the Bands.

What question do you wish somebody would ask you and what’s the answer?

Hsiang-Ming: Q: “Why didn’t Noah Kess answer any questions?” A: “The voice of Noah Kess is too awesome for the universe to handle and has been known to cause black holes. For further inquiries regarding “He who has not spoken,” please e-mail pillageandplunderband@gmail.com”  

 

 

 

 

 

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Julie Johnson Takes a Broadway Train Back to MEMPHIS at the Fox Theatre

Posted on: Jan 31st, 2012 By:

Bryan Fenkart as Huey Calhoun and the Broadway Cast. Photo credit: Randy Morrison

By Jordan Barbeau
Contributing Writer

The Tony Awards are the theater equivalent to the Oscars – the most prestigious awards any production or stage actor/actress can earn. As huge of a feat as this is, MEMPHIS, a Broadway hit show about a boy with rock ‘n’ roll in his heart, easily did just that. With its emotionally gripping story and fun numbers, MEMPHIS had no trouble winning the award for Best Musical in 2010. Overwhelming praise from fans and critics alike, along with its earning of this prestigious award, prompted a national tour of the show, and lucky for Atlantans, it’s here at the Fox Theatre for a week run from Tues. Jan. 31 through Sun. Feb. 5.

Julie Johnson, a singer and actress from Texas, holds the distinct honor of getting to portray one of the more interesting characters in the play – the mother of the main character, Huey. Scared and staunchly against her son’s plans, “Mama” does everything in her power to keep her son away from “black music,” refusing to accept his love of the art. It can’t be a coincidence that she has the same name, Gladys, as the mother of Elvis Presley, Memphis’s most famous rock n roll son.

Julie Johnson.

Julie, unlike her character, fully appreciates and embraces the art of singing and performing. According to the actress, it’s been her destiny since she was a child to perform in front of people. “It’s almost like my DNA was in the shape of a microphone,” she laughs. One glance at the list of Julie’s past productions assures that no one is going to argue that fact. Besides being an accomplished solo artist, Julie has performed in plenty of Broadway productions ranging from SWEENEY TODD to CABARET.

Even to an experienced actress such as herself, one would think that performing in such a widely loved production in front of thousands of people a year would be intimidating. To Julie, this is apparently not the case. She says the fact that the audience already knows and loves the play makes it easier. “It’s like being an ambassador,” she says of bringing the once Broadway-exclusive show to those around the country. “You feel like Bruce Springsteen.”

It goes without saying that one cannot perform in a musical about 1950s rock ‘n’ roll without having some prior knowledge of the genre. It would be like a child trying to run before he learned how to crawl. Julie is no exception. W hen asked about the time period, Julie says that her favorite artist from the ‘50s is one of the most famous blues artists of all time, Mr. B. B. King himself.

Felicia Boswell (Felicia) and the Touring Cast of MEMPHIS. Photo credit: Paul Kolnik.

Huey’s mom may be a very close-minded character, but Julie does not fault her for that. In fact, she understands her fears, having grown up surrounded by similar feelings and thoughts. In the end, despite all of the initial hesitation to accept the change, Julie says that the music is what makes everyone and everything whole, allowing folks to do what seemed impossible – unifying a split time.

Fortunately for the people of Atlanta, Julie says that audiences here will connect with MEMPHIS even more than most, due to the city’s deep roots in black music. She adds that she has not had the opportunity to spend much time here in the great ATL, but when MEMPHIS comes to the Fox this week, Julie hopes to explore the city and see what she’s been missing!

Category: Features | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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