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4/25 Temples
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Upcoming Shows

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Lydia Loveless
Rodeo Burns
High Noon Saloon
8 PM; $10

Friday, April 25, 2014
Jonk Music logo Temples
Drowners
Squarewave
High Noon Saloon
9:30 PM; $13/$15

Friday, April 25, 2014
The Mowgli's
The Sett at Union South
9:30 PM; Free

Friday, April 25, 2014
Danny Brown
Lucki Eck$
ZelooperZ
Majestic Theatre
9 PM; $20

Friday, April 25, 2014
The Faint
The Hussy
Barrymore Theatre
9 PM; $22/$25

Friday, May 2, 2014
Jonk Music logo Cloud Nothings
Protomartyr
Fire Retarded
High Noon Saloon
9:30 PM; $13/$15

Saturday, May 3, 2014
EMA
Downtown Boys
Chants
High Noon Saloon
9:30 PM; $12

Saturday, May 3, 2014
Revelry Music
& Arts Festival

UW Campus at
Langdon Street
Noon-10 PM; $5-$30

Saturday, May 3, 2014
The 1975
Bad Suns
Sir Sly
The Orpheum
9 PM; Sold Out

Saturday, May 3, 2014
TRUST
Mozart's Sister
The Frequency
9 PM; $10/$12

Sunday, May 4, 2014
Murder By Death
Those Poor Bastards
High Noon Saloon
8 PM; $15

Sunday, May 4, 2014
William Fitzsimmons
Ben Sollee
Majestic Theatre
8 PM; $18

Sunday, May 4, 2014
Patrick Park
TBA
The Frequency
8 PM; $10/$13

Monday, May 5, 2014
Scott Weiland &
the Wildabouts

Majestic Theatre
8 PM; $35/$37

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Fitz & the Tantrums
Night Terrors of 1927
Barrymore Theatre
7:30 PM; $25/$28

Friday, May 9, 2014
Timber Timbre
The Terrace at Memorial Union
9 PM; Free

Monday, May 12, 2014
Manchester Orchestra
Balance and Composure
Kevin Devine and
the Goddamn Band
Majestic Theatre
7:30 PM; $17.50/$22

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Eric Hutchinson
Saints of Valory
Majestic Theatre
8 PM; $20/$25

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Jonk Music logo Communion:
Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
Neulore
Bootstraps
Busy Living
Boom Forest (solo)
The Frequency
8 PM; $9.50/$15

Friday, May 23, 2014
Jonk Music logo Atlas Sound
TBA
Majestic Theatre
9 PM; $15

Friday, May 30, 2014
Jonk Music logo PAPA
TBA
The Frequency
9 PM; $10/$12

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The Madison Podcast
Episode 27: Jonk Music
September 11, 2012 

Wednesday
Apr232014

Q&A with The Faint’s Todd Fink

BY BENJAMIN SCHICKER | Jonk Music
Photo by Bill Sitzmann

The Faint's new album, Doom Abuse, has a lot of what they're known for: dark lyrics, heavy guitar riffs, and synthesizers. It's their first album since 2008's Fasciinatiion. Since that time the band has spent some time off focusing on side projects and collaborations (Vverevvolf Grehv, Depressed Buttons, Digital Leather) and reuniting to play their 2001 album, Danse Macabre, in its entirety. Todd Fink (vocals, keyboards) spoke to Jonk Music before their tour started.

Friday, April 25, 2014
The Faint
The Hussy
Digital Leather
Barrymore Theatre
9 PM; $22/$25

Congratulations on the new record. We've been playing it over at WSUM and getting good response so far.
"Thanks. Yeah, it's been a long time coming. It feels good having a new record out. I was just in Madison not that long ago. I played at the bike shop (as a member of Digital Leather). I liked that place."

So you played with Bobby Hussy? He's confessed that he's a pretty big fan of Digital Leather. I think Southpaw Records is putting out a split record of Digital Leather/The Hussy.
"Oh yes, we're doing several shows together. I didn't have much to do with that particular Digital Leather/Hussy record. It's more of Scott's home drum machine recordings. They did use some of my artwork."

Let's talk about Doom Abuse. It sounds like this was a different process for you guys.
"Yeah, it was. We came back together excited to make new music and get some new music out as soon as we could. We remembered how much more fun and easier it was when we first started. We didn't worry about as much while we were making things. We wanted it to mostly be about having a good time, being a band, and trying to make cool music instead of trying to make the most perfect thing and ending up with a bunch of compromises. Not that we had to compromise much before. It was hard to find a place where nobody felt compromised while we were arranging. We wanted everyone to feel 100 percent behind what we play when we play live. So we just tried to strip it back to the initial way of just trying to make some cool songs as a band, in a room, with our equipment on."

Was there more improvisation, or were there rules for taking turns, etc.?
"We don't really have just one way to make a song. We just get together, start talking, and sometimes that leads to a line. Maybe there's some beats that we have laying around that we've always wanted to use, and we'll put something on it. We'll jam a little bit, but usually only a couple of instruments at a time. It doesn't really come together the same way ever. A lot of times, it just starts from a melody or a lyric or a riff that we have, or a drum beat that we feel like we should be using — that it's always there, but we're waiting for the right song."

As a producer, what role did Mike Mogis play?
"In this situation, he was there as a fifth member of the band while we were making it. We needed him to expedite the process. We gave ourself so little time to make the music. Each day we were trying to finish a song so that it could get mixed the next day. And Mike would be one song ahead of us all the time. Instead of sitting around in the control room, commenting on equalizer ideas or panning or something, we were just furiously writing this album in order to get all the parts down to have it mixed the next day. We just trust him to do what we would do if we were there. I think we've built that relationship over the years, making a bunch of records with him. He kind of knows what we want, but we check in, solidify things, make comments. Then on to the next song, the next day."

On your last tour, you played Danse Macabre in its entirety. When you revisit older songs, or an entire album, do you have to find new ways into the songs?
"We had to go back and learn the Danse Macbre songs. There were some songs that we had never played live before, because they didn't make the cut for whatever reason. For some of them the technology at the time was stopping us from being able to do it, or just skills or whatever. In looking back at the record and figuring it out how to do it, we had to take a fresh look at it. It was kind of like a third party perspective, because we hadn't listened to it in years. We have played half of the songs live, so we know those ones well. But even those, we hadn't played for years as a band since we took a three-year break. I hadn't even been listening to songs in those three years. I had been deep into electronic instrumental music."

In coming back to the album, it struck me as very dense with sections. How many fun things can we put in?
"Every line is a different set of words. I could tell that my tastes had changed just a little. I could appreciate what was good about it. I could also see what things weren't really working about it for the first time. So, I think that experience did play into how the new record came together."

You mentioned taking time off. During that time you did some work other people. Is it refreshing to work with other people and on other projects? Does that bring something different?
"I haven't worked with that many people. I've been doing more of it lately. When I have done it, it feels good to soak up different knowledge that they have, to hear things with other people's ears instead of just your own. You know how you would solve a problem that you're up against, but everyone has their own way of doing it. It's interesting to see that other people's ways work also. I've always been a little bit of a control freak."

Are you looking forward to the tour, or is that part less fun?
"We love touring. Well, we love playing the shows. Touring is the work part of it. Playing shows is just play."

Do you have any rituals that you do on tour?
"Not really. We do have different things that we do. Dapose usually walks for a few miles every morning to go get some exotic tea, or maybe he'll walk through a forest. Clark (Baechle) and I are usually working on music. We don't have any sports cheers or anything that exciting, though we have played with some bands that do. My friend from Athens has this fold-up bike that looks pretty cool. I'd like to get one of those. I don't know if I can justify it or not."

I think David Byrne takes a fold-up bike on tour. He wrote a book (Bicycle Diaries) about biking around different cities around the world while on tour. He said you see things differently than from a tour bus.
"That's the problem with tour buses. It's great that you just show up in the next place, but you don't get that same sense of going anywhere or seeing the city. So, if bands come to Omaha, park at Sokol Hall, they'll think 'This is Omaha. OK, well, there's not much around.' I mean, Sokol Hall is great but a lot of things down there would be closed that time of night. It's good to be mobile and to be able to live life, even though you're on tour."

Is there anyone that you'd like to share a stage with?
"We've thought about that a little, since we are going on tour. I'm looking forward to playing with this band, Suuns. I suggested them and we're going to do some shows. There's legendary bands that it would be cool to do shows with, like Devo. I've never seen Gary Numan live, but I like his early stuff, especially. We don't really do many shows with bigger bands, but I like festivals so that I can see something."

I recently came into your the 7-inch split that you did with Ex-Action Figures, which came out in 1999.
"Right, that was after Media, after Blank-Wave Arcade, and right before Danse Macabre."

The lyrics focused on the Y2K bug, which cause a bit of a scare that year. What's to be scared of now in 2014? And on the flip side, what's good?
"Well, I find myself not being scared of things anymore. I'm more accepting responsibility for what I let into my consciousness. I think of it like real estate. Whatever you think about takes up space in your head and it becomes your reality, whether it's subtle or tragic. I guess I'm pretty new age-y in that way. As far as good things go, I'm just about at the brink of completely believing that you get to decide what world you live in through your imagination and beliefs. I'd like that to be true. But I used to believe only in facts, science, and atheism. It's an interesting collision of world views, where I am right now."

Monday
Apr212014

Concert Preview: Danny Brown

BY ANDREW BRANDT | Jonk Music

When April arrives, it brings with it a lot of things: baseball, the outdoor Farmers' Market, the general dread of finals approaching, and the general buzz about them passing. For us Madison music-heads, however, this April will once again bring something greater than all of these spring sentiments combined: Danny Brown.

Friday, April 25, 2014
Danny Brown
Lucki Eck$
ZelooperZ
Majestic Theatre
9 PM; $20

Danny Brown is a Detroit-based rapper who didn't hit it big until 2011, when he released the top-notch XXX mixtape at the ripe old age of 30. Since then, he's been making the most of his lost time in the limelight by bringing his fierce live show to every town he can. He also released the aptly titled and excellent Old last September.

Last year, Danny gave the jam-packed High Noon Saloon a taste of his party prowess, performing nearly the entire second half of Old and crowd-favorites like "The Black Brad Pitt." Unlike the majority of rappers in the game, Danny played without vocal backing tracks and without a crew. Over the course of an hour, he simply got on stage and spat more fire than a Famous Dave's sandwich smothered in Devil's Spit.

Like Andrew W.K., Danny's live set is more of a party than a concert. He doesn't perform on stage to have us observe but rather to give us an incomparable party experience. Last time, it took me three showers to wash the party's glory off; this Friday, I expect much of the same. Because while Saturday night might be all right for fighting, Friday night at the Majestic is looking prime for a party.

Thursday
Apr172014

Q&A with Temples' James Bagshaw

BY BENJAMIN SCHICKER | Jonk Music
Photo by James Loveday

Temples began in Kettering, England (where Weetabix is made) when James Bagshaw and Thomas Warmsley began recording demos in their home studio. They posted the music on YouTube and attracted the attention of Jeff Barrett from Heavenly Recordings. Vocalist/guitarist James Bagshaw spoke with Jonk Music about the band's beginnings, their influences, and what goes into their songwriting.

Friday, April 25, 2014
Temples
Drowners
Squarewave
High Noon Saloon
9:30 PM; $13/$15

What was it like when Jeff Barrett reached out to you?
“It was amazing. We didn’t really expect that. We were aware of what Heavenly Recordings had done in the past and what they’re doing currently. I don’t think anyone expects to get the phone call. You expect to be the one doing the calling, trying to sell your music. That’s the classic thing that bands do, send their demos through and rarely hearing anything back. We didn’t send any demos out. We just happened to have a phone call.”

Did you do the deal over the phone?
“We met up for a drink, he came to a couple of shows, and it was just a handshake, really, for the single. After that, we talked about doing the album. We had an extensive conversation to make sure that we were on the same page, which we knew we were. We wanted to make sure we had creative control over everything since it was the way we were used to working."

Have you spent much time with your label mates? (Toy, Stealing Sheep, Charlie Boyer and The Voyeurs)
“We’ve done a few shows together, kind of like a Heavenly road trip to Paris, which was really good. Most of the bands all together on a coach. It was like a school trip but with alcohol.”

How does touring America compare to touring the UK?
“It’s different. When we’re touring Europe, everywhere is slightly different. In America, it’s the first time that we’ve had a proper tour bus, where we’ve got beds. That’s all new and that’s quite nice. It’s nice having that home on wheels, instead of hotels. It’s quite nice. I’m sure we’ll be sick of it by the end of the tour and want to have a proper bed.”

Some bands want to create a sound in the studio and then just re-create the same thing live. Is that how you operate?
“We always want to approach live shows differently. We want to maintain the atmosphere around the songs that we’ve recorded. On certain songs, you don’t want to jam out because it would take the impact away from a short section that’s only meant to be a little interlude. Other songs are a bit more free. Songs like 'Mesmerise' we extend live and really take it up a notch. 'Sand Dance' as well. Sometimes you can’t get the exact sound that you want live, so you might orchestrate the songs differently. You take over a certain melodic part on a different instrument, or put it through a different pedal, just to create a different vibe from the way they come across on records.”

Are touring and creating new music separate for you? Do you ever get to create new music on tour?
“We haven’t had a chance to write anything yet. We get a chance to play around in soundcheck, but you never really have enough time in soundcheck to do anything new. You just try to make sure the sound is good so that you can have a good gig. We have some ideas floating around but nothing recorded. We’re just enjoying playing these songs, focusing on bringing them to life.”

You’ve talked about producers that you admire like Jack Nitzsche (Phil Spector, Rolling Stones, Neil Young) and Tony Visconti (David Bowie). What is it about their work that really draws you in?
“Just their names, you know straight away when a song has been produced by them. I think that’s a credit to a producer if they have their own sound. You’ve got that with Jack Nitzsche, Tony Visconti, Joe Meek, and Phil Spector. They have a strong statement from their way of recording. That appeals, in itself, that you can instantly tell. A lot of bands, you can listen to the song and you wouldn’t know who produced it, and it doesn’t really stand out. But when you learn those traits, you learn to love it, and you love the song even more because it’s portrayed in a more alien way and it’s not just standard.”

You guys get lumped in with other modern psychedelic bands. Were there psychedelic bands from the '60s and '70s that inspired you to write music?
“It wasn’t certain bands that made us want to write music. We were trying to write music that wasn’t within any type of genre constraints. I guess you write with your influences subconsciously — like, early Pink Floyd, David Bowie, King Crimson. There’s not just one artist. We never really wanted to sound like any of them because we wanted to do our own thing. You can’t help that your influences come out through your music. The Verve have been really important to us as well, and the whole twelve-string thing.”

What appeals to you about the twelve-string guitar as opposed to a six-string?
“They’re different instruments in many ways. Having an octave or a unison string for each string, you get a harmonic phasing of the strings which gives you a very big sound for one guitar. It’s very much like having two six-string players but with one with a capo on the twelfth fret. It’s quite a full sound. If 'Shelter Song' was on a six-string guitar, with the same riff, it wouldn’t have near the impact it has on a twelve-string.”

Wednesday
Apr162014

Concert Preview: Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks

BY RYAN THOMAS | Jonk Music
Photo by Atiba Jefferson

Animal Collective have never been shy of side projects. The indie/experimental troupe’s singer/drummer Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) is as famous for his wondrous solo work as he is his exploits with Daft Punk. And singer/guitarist Avey Tare (Dave Portner) has released two interesting if not immediately captivating records of his own. With AnCo currently taking a breather after the 2012-2013 Centipede Hz album and tour, Portner and Lennox are back on the solo grind. Lennox is prepping a new album tentatively titled, of course, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, and Portner just released a new LP, Enter the Slasher House, on April 8.

Thursday, April 17, 2014
Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks
Dustin Wong
Majestic Theatre
8:30 PM; $15

Right. Now let’s breathe after all that jargony business and get to the point: Enter the Slasher House is super awesome and, omg, Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks are coming to the Majestic.

So, if it’s not AnCo, who the heck are these ominous sounding Slasher Flicks? Portner’s band features keyboardist/singer Angel Deradoorian (formerly of Dirty Projectors) and drummer Jeremy Hyman (of Ponytail, Dan Deacon). Even in print they look like a kinetic group, and on the record Slasher Flicks sound electrifying. The band tracked much of the album live, and it shows. Portner’s jangly guitars mix with Deradoorian’s booming synth bass and Hyman’s spastic drumming for a lively, invigorating sound.

I send, per usual, unabated love to AnCo and mean no disrespect, but Slasher Flicks sound like more of a “band” than AnCo has since 2007. For those who disliked the hectic nature of Centipede Hz, Enter the Slasher House will probably not be an instant pleaser — but it rewards and rewards with subsequent listens. I’m an expert and I promise you.

With set design from the talented Abby Portner, this Slasher Flicks tour will likely be a visual delight as well as an aural one! Oohlala! And whether or not you caught AnCo at the Orpheum last fall shouldn’t matter for this show. Though there are obvious threads running through both Slasher Flicks and Animal Collective, I’d venture to say that live Slasher Flicks will give live AnCo a run for their money.

Tuesday
Apr152014

5 Questions with Corey Hart

BY MONICA GROGAN | Jonk Music
Photo by Kyle Jacobson

On the third Wednesday of every month, Communion gathers local and touring artists together at The Frequency to present a showcase of the flourishing music scenes in cities across the nation. Along with an impressive repertoire of touring artists including Johnny Stimson (Dallas, TX) and Sturgill Simpson (Jackson, KY), Wisconsin acts this week include Hugh Bob & the Hustle and Corey Hart.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Communion Madison:
Sturgill Simpson
Johnny Stimson
Hugh Bob & the Hustle
Corey Hart
The Frequency
8 PM; $9.50/$15

Corey Hart is a name that has been around the local Madison scene for years. Winning various awards for his voice and written music at the MAMAs in 2012, he is no stranger to the local Madison music scene. I was eager to ask Corey about what this local music scene in Madison is like from an artist's perspective, and this was his take on it.

Can you talk a little bit about the Madison music scene as you see it in your eyes?
"The scene, like Madison, is small but very diverse. I can really only speak to the folky singer/songwriter scene because that's what I'm familiar with. The quality of the material that Madison's singer/songwriters is very high. I think that the general public is finally starting to catch onto that. The populous needs to embrace its local musicians to keep the scene healthy."

Which local artists have you really enjoyed working with and which would you like to work with in the future?
"It gets a bit incestuous, doesn't it? I don't think that's a bad thing, though. Everyone is so supportive of each other, it's great. I currently play with my band, Whitney Mann's band, and occasionally with Anna Laube. I have also done things with PHOX, Count This Penny, and Dan Walkner [Wrenclaw, Clovis Man]. I really enjoy writing guitar parts and singing harmonies, so I would like to work with more singer/songwriters in that regard. I also think it would be fun to collaborate with Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo. The list goes on..."

What's your favorite venue in Madison and why?
"I have a few. To play, I love the Shitty Barn! Technically not in Madison. It is like a home away from home for me. The Majestic Theatre is awesome to play a show in. Everyone there is very professional and nice. Plus, I love looking out onto that room from the stage. High Noon Saloon is always a great room, too. The vibe there is a perfect mix of professional and down-home. I've spent many hours in that room. To see a show, Capitol Theater is kind to the eyes and ears. I think it's the best sounding room in town. The Shitty Barn is easily the most fun place to see a show."

How do you think local artists differ from larger names connected to big labels?
"That's a tricky question. I am not very close with anyone on a major label. Also, not all major labels treat artists the same. I would assume that there is far more pressure to put out albums and tour the hell out if them if you are on a major label. The beauty of the local scene is that it's a community you can be a part of. It's more tangible. On a related note, I think the caliber of a number local artists is on par with that of many who are on major labels."

What's your favorite restaurant in Madison, and where do you think the best cheese curds are?
"I love Ha Long Bay and Forequarter. My family eats at Graze a lot as well. I don't eat cheese curds. Please don't hate me."

Monday
Apr142014

Concert Review: Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds

BY MAX SIMON | Jonk Music

Beyond one acoustic-to-electric transducer, a friendly mouth organ lived half of his life at The Frequency obscured. Saliva-drenched, beard-battered and hidden, the harmonica — let’s call him Franklin — soon thereafter muttered more than a peep. With 37 rectangular metallic buddies at his side, Franklin began to reed the crowd like a college girl on BuzzFeed. One might say that a certain musician was the puppeteer behind the magic, but Jackson Kincheloe blew it (the harmonica, that is).

Bouncing beside the rusty-wheeled harmonicrafter was Jackson’s mother’s daughter, Arleigh. With the spirit of a family of small passerine birds, Sister Sparrow had an unusual variety of bilingualism. She incessantly translated the language of funk into its neighboring dialect, the tushy-tickling-saul-sauce.

It was a case of mace to the face backed by a racy-paced bass (held and hit by Josh Myers). Downstage left stood two injectors of lax: Phil Rodriguez on the trumpet and Brian Graham on the sax. The venue’s flowing libations added to the baritone’s buzz, yet the tenor of the Dirty Birds’ wetness flowed out of Sasha Brown’s guitar. A third Kincheloe, Bram, kicked and hit things with sticks real good — fixing a neat stage arrangement with patterned personalities.

Sister Sparrow released every drop of her positivity throughout the 18-song setlist. From her choice cover, “The Way You Make Me Feel,” to a dozen other feet-knocker-offers, my favorite was “Mama Knows.” Almost everyone came from his or her mother’s womb, so it’s, like, relevant in today’s culture.

Thursday
Apr102014

Interview: Phantogram’s Josh Carter

BY ANDREW BRANDT | Jonk Music

When you think of music, the first sense that usually comes to mind is hearing; there's simply no listening to music without having the ability to hear it. Electronic duo Phantogram, however, considers sight to be an equally pivotal sense when it comes to crafting jams.

In technical jargon, a "phantogram" is a class of optical illusions wherein a two-dimensional image appears to be three-dimensional, thanks to those ultra-tech, ultra-classic blue and red specs. Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel chose to fashion their band after this phantasm because, even at their inceptions, their songs appear to be something greater than mere music.

 

Saturday, April 12, 2014
Phantogram
Teen
Majestic Theatre
9 PM; Sold Out

Whereas other artists gather inspiration from their own life happenings or what have you, Phantogram has always been influenced by the optical. "We're very visual writers," Carter told me in an interview this week. "We're constantly talking about scenarios like short films or vignettes — and then we start writing music to what we're imagining." The band then takes those images and turns them into tunes, sometimes jamming "over a simple drum-machine rhythm for hours." Other times, Josh said they'll start with one of his beats, "chop up some samples, and write around that."

The first concoction to come out of these experiment-like sessions was the band's debut, Eyelid Movies. While its songs are heavily soaked in pop, hip-hop, and electronic stylings, Eyelid Movies also has a musically inexplicable element to it; as the record's title implies, closing your eyes to these tracks allows you the ability to see the music nearly as clearly as you can hear it.

In the four years that have passed since Eyelid Movies hit shelves, Phantogram has kept their visual aroma in tact. Their full-length follow-up, Voices, was released in February, and trying to spot the separate genres within each of the album's eleven songs is about as worthless as picking apart the particles of a sneeze. Each track is a tightly knit blend of various influences that culminate into a cohesive, well-constructed whole. Voices further showcases the band's signature twilight-tinged sound, bashing Carter's busy beats with Barthel's rippleless, astral vocals. And while Carter lends his voice to sing lead on a few tracks, he kept Sarah in mind while writing the words. "It's not really a coin toss," he joked. "Sarah sings on the majority of songs, but it's a natural thing."

The main distinguisher between Voices and Eyelid Movies isn't the music itself, but rather the brand they're releasing the music behind. "There was a bidding war. Every label wanted to sign us at once," Carter recalled. "Our heads were spinning, you know?" Ultimately, the duo decided to leave Barsuk Records and sign with major label Republic Records. As Carter put it, "We just love making music, and we want as many people to hear [it] as possible. If we can have that kind of platform with a different label, then why not?"

Amidst the chaos of deciding upon a new label, Phantogram also found itself with another exciting opportunity on its hands: recording with "one half of the mighty Outkast," Big Boi. As Carter recollected, "He [Big Boi] heard 'Mouthful of Diamonds' somewhere, and Shazam'd it." From there, one thing led to another until Big Boi flew the duo down to Stankonia Studios in Atlanta to work on his second solo record, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors. "He's become a good friend to us," said Carter. Carter then revealed that Phantogram is currently mapping out an EP's worth of material with Big Boi, tentatively titled Big Grams.

Over the course of two records, Phantogram has shifted from an unknown duo to a major label band that dabbles in major rap collaborations. Yet they appear unphased by their rapid success, and unafraid that it may just be some kind of illusion or trick on their (or their audiences') eyes. "There are some bands that are comfortable with staying at a small club level," Carter said. "But I think we just want to get heard more — because we love what we do and have a really strong vision."

Tuesday
Apr082014

5 Questions with Sleeper Agent

Sleeper Agent

BY JON KJARSGAARD | Jonk Music
Photo by Phil Knott

Sleeper Agent visits the High Noon Saloon on Thursday night for their first headlining tour. The garage pop band from Kentucky (insert Badgers-Final Four comment here) has been touring relentlessly since their 2011 debut album, Celebrasion, including in support of such big names as Weezer, fun., and Grouplove.

 

Thursday, April 10, 2014
Sleeper Agent
Holy Child, Pagiins
High Noon Saloon
8 PM; $12

Their follow-up disc was released two weeks ago, and frontwoman Alex Kandel recently answered a few of our questions leading up to their Thursday show.

What has changed with your new record, About the Other Night, compared to your first album?
"A lot has changed. We changed our whole approach in making a record, I pushed myself to change and grow as a vocalist, and the songwriting became more complex. We set out to do something different."

How has touring shaped the progression of Sleeper Agent's sound? What's the best advice you've received on the road?
"When you tour you're put in a position where it would be nearly impossible to fail to become a technically tighter sounding band. You get show after show, night after night, to work all the kinks out. That being said, the best advice I was ever given was to not get too hung up on the technical sound of a show. It's called a show for a reason, and it's my job to put on a good one."

You played an acoustic set at the Tennessee State Prison a couple years ago. How did that come about, and what is something that you unexpectedly learned there?
"It came about through us searching for a cool location to film a session honestly. It's no longer a working prison nor is it a historical walking tour, so it wasn't like I had a guide. We kind of just wandered through the empty cell blocks. It felt very heavy."

Imagine you're attending a concert and one of the band members spontaneously combusts. It's very unfortunate except that you get pulled onstage to replace that person. Who is the band?
"The band is Steel Dragon. Oh, and in my fantasy I am also Mark Wahlberg."

When you hear "Madison" or "Wisconsin," what do you think of?
"I immediately think of the night before we played there for the first time. Our hotel was across from a Hooters, and we honestly had a great time. It was one of those band meals where you remember how much fun touring can really be, despite the sleep deprivation and workload."

Tuesday
Apr082014

Q&A with Dessa

BY RILEY BEGGIN | Jonk Music

Combine a philosophy graduate, a classical composer, and a creative non-fiction writer and you've got Minneapolis-based rapper and spoken word artist Dessa. If it sounds like a handful, it is — Dessa is currently touring her LP, Parts of Speech, which was released in June 2013. She will be playing at the Majestic Theatre on Thursday and took the time to talk with us about her philosophy major, her new projects, and the origin of her stage name.

 

Thursday, April 10, 2014
Dessa
Caroline Smith
J Dante
Majestic Theatre
9 PM; $15

Let's talk a little bit about your album, Parts of Speech. It's been about nine months since you released it — how do you feel about the album this far out?
"I toured this album more than I've toured any other project in the past, so in some ways it feels more like a year and a half old rather than nine months. I'm more familiar with the material having played it so much. So it's a project that I'm really proud of, and we'll be touring it more in the spring. But my mind is definitely already turning toward new projects.

What new project are you working on?
"I've got two classical compositions actually; I'm working on my first choral and classical arrangements. I'd actually be working with a choir. I won't be performing — just serving as a composer."

You also write spoken word and narrative nonfiction, and it sounds like classical compositions as well. Do all these mediums that you work with blend together sometimes? Is your creation process completely different with them?
"Most of the time it feels like there's a single wellspring for the ideas. I have to decide what the best vehicle for expression for that idea would be. They all feel really connected to me."

How do you find time for all those different mediums?
"I don't put out records at a record pace. You know, some artists put out records every 18 months. I end up putting out a record every three or four years, so I'm not breaking any land speed awards. But yeah, I think working in different media and being challenged in a broad spectrum of disciplines is part of what makes me really like this job. If you're feeling burned out on any one front, there's another angle you can take. Sometimes I'm like 'Oh man, I don't know if I really have a melody in me today.' Or sometimes it feels like all your metaphors have been exhausted... And working in both music and the language arts, it feels like there's a way to stay productive no matter what."

Do you have a favorite?
"Creative non-fiction is probably one of my favorites. I find it challenging. While you're writing prose you have the opportunity to draft and re-draft, so that's to say that as good as you can imagine it is as good as you can make it. And that's not true in my performance, where your first try is what sticks — you don't have the opportunity to return and perfect your work!"

I know that you were a philosophy student in college — has your work in philosophy influenced your current work at all?
"You know, philosophy is a study that demands very precise language and I think that a lot of my writing skills were honed in philosophy. Some of the ideas that you manipulate in a philosophy class are really challenging, so the really good philosophers would depend on creative metaphors to express those ideas. The best communicators on the philosophical tradition were very often the best creative writers. I think probably a lot of my voice and my style, which can sometimes use informal language, was informed by my time as a philosophy student in college."

Why do you go by Dessa?
"I went by Dessa since I was a teenager and started singing underage at a karaoke bar!""

Do you have a favorite thing about the Minneapolis music scene?
"The music scene is very much a part of the social scene. In Minneapolis, if an attractive person were to approach you at a bar and ask you to go on a date, they would ask you if you wanted to go to a movie, dinner or a concert. And that's not true in every city, where local concerts are as abundant and are as well supported as they are here in Minneapolis. I think the reason we have such a vibrant scene here is because people are willing to part with their $10, they're willing to buy a little bit of merch at the table after the show. So, I don't think it's about the winters, I don't think there's anything romantic about the place, but it's the people that are willing to support the artists and stuff."

Madison is a relatively regular stop for you — what should folks expect when they see you at the Majestic on April 10?
"That will be our biggest room in Madison that we've played to date, so we're all excited because it will be a high water mark. And I'll be bringing the full band, so Aby Wolf will be there and all of the players live. And we've got a really awesome opener — Caroline Smith is a rising star in her own right will be opening the show. Please be sure to get there early and catch her act."

Monday
Apr072014

Q&A with Fanfarlo’s Simon Balthazar

BY LEE GORDON | Jonk Music

With its eclectic instrumentation and contemplative and earthly lyrics, London-based Fanfarlo is currently touring in support of its dynamic third full-length album, Let's Go Extinct. The five-piece indie band features the mandolin, trumpet, glockenspiel, saxophone, clarinet as well as a healthy dose of '80s-infused space-synth and on record.

 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Fanfarlo
Lilies on Mars
High Noon Saloon
6:30 PM; $12/$14

Lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Simon Balthazar shared his thoughts with Jonk Music on the band's new sound, the process of recording, and his views on Creationism, nature, and the future. Fanfarlo will be performing at High Noon Saloon tomorrow evening.

Your new album, Let's Go Extinct, seems to be very aware of your inner workings as humans, talking about cells and molecules and our place in the world and the future. Can you describe the inspiration behind the album?
"The approach is a bit like science fiction in that we present a different spin on things that are around us all the time and present them in an exciting, colourful way. I'm fascinated by different ways of looking at the nature the mind, the body, the evolution and future of life... There's no reason you can't put philosophy and science in pop music, right?" 

What are the most memorable moments from writing or recording the album?
"We did a lot of the recording in a house that had been sitting empty for 20 years but where we built a temporary studio and just lived together for a couple of weeks, cooking, getting drunk and recording, day and night. Many delirious late night sessions."

I've read that you think that Creationism is misguided and that you see some value in Christianity. What are your religious or spiritual beliefs? Did they influence the album?
"Ah yes, someone was asking in an interview specifically what I think about creationism. I mean, I personally don't put much stock in organized religion, whatever it might be. I don't think locking yourself into a belief system and into dogma is healthy. But, sure, I'm interested in what I see as the imagery and metaphors within Christian ideas.The problem with creationism is that it's a very flat, literal, and quasi-scientific take on something that is more interesting taken as metaphor and poetry.

"It's hard to sum up my own beliefs, but I do believe everyone needs to come at peace with their own understanding of reality and that there are no absolutes. I also think that the self is a very unfortunate side effect of consciousness." 

In addition to the horns that the band has traditionally integrated into the music, you added more electronic/synth sounds. What was the decision behind doing that? What kind of sound were you going for?
"Our music has always incorporated a dialogue between electronic and acoustic elements, but at the heart of it is songwriting and stories and ideas expressed through lyrics. We've started including more electronic elements over time for sure, but that's an intuitive, playful process of evolution and not really a 'decision.' You constantly pick up new influences as you go along and they end up in what you create." 

The lyrics of the new album talk a lot about possible futures. What does your ideal world look like?
"With the risk of sounding like a hippie: the world could do with people thinking more about each other and less about themselves. One of the more out-there scenarios on the record is humans mutating into a double person, regaining our lost half. Lonesome no more!" 

Your music has seemed to become more introspective compared to your earlier material. How do you think the band has changed since the beginning?
"We've matured as people and as musicians, and I think we draw on a much broader range of influences. I'm not sure if I feel we've become more introspective, though; I think we very much deal with the outside world rather than the minutiae of our personal lives. I guess it comes from a very particular point of view, though." 

What aspect of the album are you most proud of?
"Mainly that it feels like a very a honest record that expresses our ideas. But also they way we made it happen — we wrote it quickly, and we did so much ourselves in terms of recording and releasing it."