Do you like ROCK MUSIC? Do you like seeing wildly popular ROCK BANDS in tiny, tiny venues? Do you like HELPING PEOPLE who were affected by hurricanes? Today, Tuesday November 27, 2012 at 12 NOON SHARP, you must head HERE to buy a ticket to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in Williamsburg’s Union Pool.
Karen O. & Co. are playing a very, veryintimate show at Union Pool on Saturday, December 8, with proceeds going to a Hurricane Sandy relief Charity. Everyone wins! You’ll surely get to witness what will be the most talked about concert of 2012. Tickets are $75 but hey man, that money is going to a good cause: Waves For Water, a charity that provides clean water to victims of natural disasters around the globe. Kick in an extra $25 and you’ll get a VERY, VERY, EXTREMELY LIMITED edition silk screened poster, signed by Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio! How limited? There will only be 25 made!
This is what is known as a win/win/rock/win. Good luck getting those tickets!
Birds and Batteries (photo credit: Matthew Washburn)
Following the release of their fourth full length album and in the midst of a U.S. tour, NYMN was able to grab a moment of time from the busy Mike Sempert, the musical and spiritual guru of Birds and Batteries. The band will be playing two shows in NYC, so we decided to check in with Birds and Batteries and ask some questions about their new album, their tour, and their ability to swim in shark-infested waters.
NYMN: I first became aware of your band when I heard “Ocarina” on a Paste Magazine Sampler CD nearly five years ago. Now you’re sitting pretty with your fourth full length album Stray Light released earlier this month. When you complete an album do you start to think more about what you’ve accomplished or does your mind start racing with what’s in store for your future?
MS: When I finished Stray Light I was definitely enjoying that sense of completing an album. That seems like a long time ago though.There was a lot of time and a ton of work that went into self-releasing Stray Light. So at this point, I’m definitely thinking about the next thing.
NYMN: You play instruments, use machines in place of instruments, and add samples to your music. You also whistle. People freaked out when Dylan went electric. Now people complain musicians can only play music using a computer. You’ve obviously embraced differing forms of expression and media. How do you determine what sound and what vessel to use when recording?
MS: I’m a big fan of immediacy. So I try to go for the most direct path towards fulfilling an idea, though it’s easier said then done. Certain things, like live drums and real strings are worth planning for, booking studio time around, etc. Also, in truth, the budget for an album influences how far I can go with recording in a studio and how much the home studio set-up is used, i.e., electronic sounds.
NYMN: Stray Light came out roughly a month ago and you’ve been touring rather extensively during that time. How has it been taking songs from the album on the road?
MS: We’ve been playing these songs live for a while and they’re really fun to do. A lot of the album was recorded and written around the idea of what would be exciting to do live. The song “Evolutionary Step” was the only song that we played live for a while before tracking it. The rest were adapted from recording to live, but when they were recorded, the question of “Is this gonna be sweet live?” definitely influenced their creation.
NYMN: “Be My Girl” is a song title you might see on any random radio pop album. But when you first listen to the song it is dark and heavy with your whistling adding an eerie loneliness. How can a love song sound this scary and yet be effective?
MS: Hah. Yeah, its not the most eye-catching song title, but it’s straight up which was the whole point. I don’t really see the song as scary, but I understand there’s a darkness to it. In many ways, within my own personal narrative, this song is about love overcoming rough waters. So, it makes sense that those rough waters come through.
(Editor’s note: A music video for “Be My Girl” was released yesterday – video contains NSFW images)
NYMN: The album appears to be be preaching self-acceptance and self-realization in many of it’s songs. Was this a conscious choice? Was there a spiritual breakthrough prior to or during the creation of this album?
MS: Well, I’m not preaching anything. And there haven’t been any spiritual breakthroughs, just moments of clarity amidst a lot of other feelings. My goal with this album was to focus on that clarity and hopefully give the listener something bright and positive. It’s tempting and easy to write music that comes from the opposite place. I decided to filter out the darker songs and put them on a digital EP called Unfold. So in a way, the totality of the story is in both the EP and LP combined. But for the sake of a continuous listening experience, and sort of as an experiment, I split off the songs by their emotional vibe. Still, life and love are complex and there’s plenty of darkness on Stray Light and light in Unfold.
NYMN: You are coming to Brooklyn on September 2nd to play at Union Pool. What do you like to do when you come to NYC for shows?
MS: Real Brooklyn pizza. That’s what we like to do. Like to do that pizza.
NYMN: You’re a Bay Area guy so here are some rapid fire questions about NorCal:
Earthquakes are (fill in the blank): not a joke
I (blank) the weather in San Francisco: I actually live in Oakland. The weather is great.
Sonoma or Napa? Neither
If you paid me (blank), I would attempt to swim from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf. I’d do that for a thow-wow. Probably less actually, but I thought I’d high-ball it. I just looked it up, its less than a mile swim, which is doable. So I Married An Axe Murder is my favorite movie to take place in SF. How wrong am I for making that statement? Haha. That’s a good one actually. Vertigo was shot in SF and rules pretty hard, as a movie. Apples and oranges though.
It must be nice to get a seal of approval from David Byrne. And that’s just what happened with the song “Uncanny” from the self-titled EP from People Get Ready. Having listened to the EP, I feel confident why he picked this band and is recommending them to the masses. It may have something to do with his connection to Steven Reker, who is both a member of People Get Ready as well as one of Byrne’s touring dancer/guitarists. But I would wager it has more to do with Byrne’s appreciation of music as more than just notes, beats, and words. This is dance music, but not the kind of dance involving apple bottom jeans and boots with the fur. This is dance music requires the New York Times to describe because my words would be in comparison a baby in a high chair with a bowl of spaghetti dumped on their head.
“People Get Ready” is an experience beyond hearing music in a club or viewing a dance; it is a moving meditation that suggests dreams — each song is a miniperformance — that then dissipate. While they’re sweet, taken individually, they’re not all that lasting. Mr. Reker’s music shifts from shimmering to galvanic with little effort.
The music they played the night was a performance piece named after his band and not the actual songs on their EP. But that’s the culture of this band. Music is one portion of their delivery which also includes lights, movements, and dancing, which makes a review of their album daunting and possibly incomplete.
The four track EP is skillfully composed and has that stark yet experimental tone you imagine someone like David Byrne or Phillip Glass would gravitate towards. Of course, I then see that the band played in a live adaptation of Phillip Glass’ Einstein on The Beach with the help of my good friend, The Internet.
The first track “Uncanny” is the band. It is stark. It is haunting. It is emotional without being able to assign it an emotion. It is a syllable stretching, vocally driven song that sounds like it should instantly transform your listening environment to a cloudy and cold beach where the sand and the sky are almost the same color.
“Disappear”, the second track on the EP, is more frenetic and paced like skipping rope. It adds some levity to the album which can be dominated by an almost joyful melancholy. The remaining songs “Cathedral” and “Side Saddle” close out the album admirably with a playfully trailing musical scale at the end of “Side Saddle”.
I look forward to seeing the final product of a full-length album. I only wonder will a Get Ready People performance become less a concert and more a performance piece.