Battle of the Release Parties: Aziatix vs. Best Coast

This week I attended back-to-back music release events for Aziatix and Best Coast. Weird! For the former, I crossed a velvet rope along with invited guests and journalists. For the latter, my Kindergartener daughter and I sat on the sidewalk for a couple of hours with fellow fans outside Amoeba to attend the in-store concert. K-pop vs. indie rock. Massive production value vs. lo-fi. Lil’ Wayne vs. Kid Cudi. Making charts is something I really enjoyed and miss about working on Giant Robot magazine, so I figured this was as good an occasion as any to dust off the old format… Enjoy!

Links that actually work:


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Show reviews: Guitar Wolf, Coathangers, Earthless, Joy, Bulletins, Best Coast, plus David Choe

It doesn’t suck to live in California, where you get to see bands like Best Coast play free record-release shows at Amoeba. Yes, the brand-new EP is as amazing as the RSD 7″ led us to believe, perfectly combining honesty and polish, and the new songs sounded great live. So did favorites like “The Only Place,” “Crazy for You,” and the closer, “Girlfriend.” The place was packed and stoked and so was Bethany, who made a point to repeatedly thank all the fans and friends for being there. Watch the set at the Amoeba site when you have the time!

Afterward there was a record signing where Eloise got to give Bobb and Bethany band portraits that she drew while we were in line. I’ll occasionally run into Bobb at shows or the market, and he is not only the most talented musician and producer but one of the raddest guys. Glad Eloise got to see him in action and say hi. Hopefully next time we’ll see him over donuts in Highland Park! (more…)

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Reviews: Deltron 3030 at Fingerprints, Red Hare and Coliseum at The Satellite (plus eating out with Dirty Beaches and SISU)

After a 13-year-long hiatus, the Deltron 3030 super group has reunited for a full LP, some festival shows, and… a couple of free in-stores? Pretty damn cool that the heroic trio of Dan The Automator, Del The Funky Homosapien, and Kid Koala would play a Long Beach record shop. But after a long day of travel and press, they had to eat. Good thing Berlin is connected to Fingerprints.

Left to right: Dan The Automator, me, Kid Koala, and my pal Paul Kwon scarfing an early dinner at Berlin. How cool is it that there is a coffee house that serves high-end food connected to the record store? Brilliant and tasty, too. Del didn’t eat with us because he was busy practicing his ollies and had some cheese pizza coming to him. No artisan flatbread slices for Del. He’s a purist. (more…)

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Reviews: Lecherous Gaze and Hot Lunch at The Satellite, Bob Forrest’s Running With Monsters

Gotta love the free metal shows from Scion. Last week’s was right down the street from my house at The Satellite, and it was very much a Tee Pee records showcase with Lecherous Gaze (above) and Hot Lunch (below). Sweet! (more…)

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Dirty Beaches and SISU at The Echo, RAD at Permanent Records, Shizu Saldamando at VPAM

After circling the world once or twice and releasing a double album, 10″ soundtrack, and a bunch of digital mixtapes, Dirty Beaches came back to L.A. last Friday, teamed up with soulmates SISU as well as Chasms from San Francisco. The opening duo from San Francisco were raw and cool, like the swirling goth of Siouxsie meets the industrial tone of post-Dils, post-Rank & File Blackbird. (more…)

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Donut Friend by Mark Trombino (Drive Like Jehu) is open!

Just got back from Donut Friend, the long-awaited eatery from my friend Mark Trombino. He’s known by most for producing key albums for Blink 182 and Jimmy Eat World but also eternally loved by some others for his drumming with Drive Like Jehu and Night Soil Man. (Mark is on the right, and that’s my crew of Angelyn from Kumquat and Carlos from Music Friends on the left. They know him way better then me!)

Donut Friend is on York Blvd. in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, right next door to Scoops Ice Cream and between Gimme Gimme Records and Wombletown Records (way closer to the latter). Today was only its second day of operation, with soft launch hours of 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

When you walk in, you can’t miss the very yummy mural by another friend Saelee Oh. Mammals eating donuts, playing instruments made out of donuts… Wow. Then you turn around and see edible beauty in the form of baked treats that you get to trick out yourself.

Before and after. First, choose a donut to start with. I went with the glazed vegan. Then, select a filling, put stuff in it, and choose toppings. If you’re too hungry to think, there are suggested combinations all named after bands: Jets to Basil, Chocolate from the Crypt, Coconut of Conformity. Yes, there’s a Rites of Sprinkles T-shirt. Mine was the GBH (Greek yogurt, blueberry jam, and honey) with pistachio bits on top, and it was tasty.

You have to admire a guy like Mark, who has been in some rad bands and found success producing huge albums but chucked music altogether to follow his dream of opening the most awesome donut shop ever. Check it out at or and then pay a visit to the shop:

Donut Friend
5107 York Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90042

Seeya there and please tell me if there’s crud on my mouth!

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Writer/co-director Matt Riggle on FILMAGE (Descendents documentary) w/ info on this weekend’s San Diego screenings

FILMAGE, the long-awaited documentary about the Descendents and ALL has been making rounds on the film festival circuit throughout 2013, and currently it’s hopscotching the country yet again with the help of cool supporters such as Vannen Watches (makers of the Descendents/Coffee Time watch) and Hi My Name Is Mark (Mark of Blink 182 appears in the flick). They are sponsoring three screenings at the Digiplex Mission Valley in San Diego on Saturday, September 21.

I was able to catch an early screening in Long Beach, and was not only stoked to see one of my all-time favorite bands on the big screen blasted though huge speakers but actually learned a lot about the road bumps they’ve encountered and suffering they’ve endured on the quest for ALL. It’s a worthwhile story to tell, and the band’s commitment to its craft (up there with The Beatles and Queen, says Robert Hecker from Redd Kross) and enduring a rough life (as some brushes with death) will appeal to audiences well beyond O.G. punks. I hit up writer/co-director Matt Riggle about the movie, its making, and its future.

MW: How did you get into the Descendents? A rad show, hearing the right song at the right time?
MR: I personally started with ALL’s “Dot” single then traced things back to Descendents. To me they were just so unique sounding. “Can’t Say” was the first thing I heard and it remains, to me, a shining example of a perfect song. I’d never heard a band with so many songwriters sound so cohesive. And they were so strong and melodic and funny without being a joke. I loved the look of their records, too–the covers, the sparse use of pictures, the consistent typesetting. And the fact that the drummer wrote great songs and produced was insane to me. It defied the laws that I thought were in place for bands. (more…)

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Dustin Wong (ex-Ponytail) on his newest solo LP, collaboration with Takako Minekawa, and upcoming tour

Dustin Wong has released so many solo albums, there’s probably no need to specify that he used to be in a band called Ponytail. Yet it is interesting to look back for comparison’s sake. He’s gone from the Baltimore group’s spastic rhythms and hyper energy to dreamy loops and improvisation. He’s also moved to Japan. I look forward to hearing his meditative and loopy but intellectual jams in a live setting when he returns to the United States next week, accompanied on many dates with his frequent collaborator and Japanese subculture icon, Takako Minekawa. Here’s the scoop…

MW: You’re on a roll with new releases. Have you been out of your mind creatively or do the releases just happen to be coming out around the same time?
DW: 2012 was a really productive year for me, writing-wise. Only a moment after finishing the mix for the last album, Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads, I started writing new songs. Since I finished this record I haven’t been writing as much for myself but I have been writing with Takako more, which has been really fun and imaginative.

MW: After leaving Ponytail and doing so much solo work, what is it like to collaborate again? And with Takako Minekawa!
DW: Oh my god, so much fun! Making music with her is like recess, running around the playground. In the beginning, we were definitely trying to figure out how to work together but once we got it going it’s been really amazing. We are working on a bunch of songs right now and hoping to put something out next year! (more…)

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Tae Won Yu’s Poses, Kicking Giant, and REMAKE: The World In Paper in one awesome weekend

Wendy and I flew into Portland, had dinner with my old college friend and his family, and then rolled up to the Land Gallery where we immediately ran into even more friends: artists transplanted from Los Angeles Souther Salazar and Monica Choy, musicians from Brooklyn Aaron Hartman and Alicia Jo Rabins. Portland may be a small town but I guess the world has become even smaller…

Like me they traveled to Portland’s Mississippi district to attend the opening night of Tae Won Yu’s art show, REMAKE: The World in Paper. As fans of his album cover art for Built To Spill and Versus might guess, Tae’s paper constructions are as whimsical as they are meticulously crafted. Wendy and I couldn’t not buy a print.

The art was amazing but the other reason we flew up from Los Angeles was to see Tae play in his new duo, Poses, with fresh drummer Victoria Salvador. As Paul Weller went from the harder-rocking Jam to the more soulful Style Council before finding middle ground in his solo career, Tae has gone from the art-punk Kicking Giant to the R&B-tinged KG to something in the middle with Poses. Fans will not be disappointed and, yes, he is still a rock ‘n’ roll animal. And who is that setting up in the top right photo? (more…)

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Show reviews: Billy Bragg and Wayne Kramer at Amoeba Hollywood, Rocket From The Crypt at Del Mar

Before they played their songs at today’s noontime free in-store at Amoeba Hollywood, Wayne Kramer and Billy Bragg talked about Jail Guitar Doors. The organization was started in England by Bragg, with the intent of raising money to give guitars to prisoners. Not so they’ll be musicians when they are released but so that they have a creative outlet for the rest of their lives. Of course, its namesake is a song by The Clash, and when Bragg was telling the MC5 guitarist about the cause and the tune, Kramer’s response was something like, “That song is about me!” Bragg was embarrassed but excited when the Detroit musician agreed to sign on to spearhead the U.S. arm of the group. When the British punk/folk singer relayed the story to Mick Jones, the singer of “Jail Guitar Doors” didn’t even remember that Kramer was in it! (more…)

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Sandra Vu on the new SISU record and tour with Dirty Beaches

Has Mario Rubalcaba ever been in a less-than-killer band? John Reis? Ian Svenonious? James Canty? No way, not even sub-par despite surveying a variety of collaborators, genres, and styles. Add to the list of rad musicians in a ton of impeachable bands Sandra Vu. I dug Midnight Movies, love Dum Dum Girls, and am a massive supporter of her psychedelic goth solo gig, SISU. I’m dying to hear her new material live and extra stoked that she and her crew are touring with Alex Hungtai a.k.a. Mr. Dirty Beaches. Dude. That is a rad lineup and I hope this brief Q&A inspires some of you to check it out.

MW: I still haven’t heard the new Blood Tears LP! How does it compare to the Light Eyes EP in terms of recording or even just the sound in general?
SV: We need to get you the LP! We had no budget for the EP, so the main technical difference is that Lars Stalfors didn’t mix it and Ryan Wood wasn’t as involved in making it. He was just too busy so I pretty much made it on my own. There are also no live drums on the EP, which was a limitation of not having enough to make it sound good enough. The EP is just about as lo-fi as I’m willing to go. Other than these technical things, the songs themselves are relatable but different. Blood Tears is more immediate to me, the songs on the whole are tend to be structurally more simple. I worked on the bass guitar more on the EP, and two of the main songs “Light Eyes” and “Two Thousand Hands” are meatier–longer, denser. The songs on both LP and EP were written in the same time period, but the EP was completed after. It came about in the long waiting period of trying to plan the LP release.

MW: During the Dum Dums’ downtime, SISU plays a lot! How has the band been evolving?
SV: We play any opportunity we get! I’m really proud of how the band has evolved. SISU is essentially a studio project, but it’s been really fun to take it further in the live show. Since I switched from playing bass to guitar live, it’s opened up a whole new world. Playing bass for me is more rigid, you’ve got to play it 100 percent correct and on, or else the bottom will drop out. On guitar, I get to wiggle around a little more which is really fun. I add parts that aren’t on the recordings; sometimes I wing it a little. On the other hand, it’s a pretty challenging job for my bandmates, who have been thankfully open to adapting to so many different configurations. We can play shows as a 2-, 3-, 4-, or 5-piece band, with different members on both coasts. It’s insane! Tito can now switch between stand-up drums, second guitar, and bass guitar. We had Jules pick up the guitar when we do the duo. It’s stressful but it typifies the way this band flies. I hate waiting around, and I hate excuses. I am so thankful for Ryan, Nat, Jules, Tito, and Dave. They are all so talented and down for the challenge. I really couldn’t do it without them.

MW: Do you see a lot of DDG fans when SISU plays out? Midnight Movies?
SV: Not too many! Every once in a while someone will tell me or I will see a DDG shirt, and very rarely a Midnight Movies shirt. I think I’m the most low-key Dum Dum Girl. I mean, I’ll play hard but I’m literally in the back and I’m terrible at self-promotion. I feel bad spamming all those people who know me from DDG. It’s okay, though, if they don’t dig it. They can unfollow me or whatever. I used to be very shy about exploiting the DDG thing, but I’ve worked so hard in that band for three years now, so I feel like I’ve earned it. Ultimately, if it gets someone interested enough to give SISU a chance, then I feel no shame. You can’t control whether or not people will like it or not.

MW: I love how your releases are handcrafted. I couldn’t not purchase the cassette and vinyl and CD versions of the EP. Can you fill me in your visual aesthetic and art background?
SV: I love that you love it! I’m a designer by day. I love collage, old psychedelic silk screen posters, Tadanori Yokoo, Julian House, Peter Saville. I am self-taught, so I feel like I have very little structure to what I do. Though I’ve done very little silk screening myself, I think in terms of what would work as a screen print, and like things like overprinting and halftone pattern.

MW: You play every instrument, sing, produce… Is music something that has always come naturally to you or is it something that you’ve had to work your ass off to become great at?
SV: Because these are all things I really love to do, I think I just naturally spend a lot of time on them and never consider it “work.” Apart from piano lessons and some flute lessons, I learned a lot by myself or from my friends. I don’t even know if most of what I’m doing is correct but I do it anyway. If it feels right, then it’s right to me. I don’t really like when things sound too perfect or produced, so I happily continue not working hard on learning my craft as an aesthetic choice. Instead, I spend a lot of time learning things the hard way. I would rather pick up something, fumble around with it, and maybe come up with my own way of doing it, rather than wait for an expert to do it for me. It’s just always been my personality, I guess–impatient? I started overdubbing myself on cassette tape with different instruments as soon as I could strum a chord and play a beat. Having said that, there is a certain level of experience and training that I can never achieve with jobs like mixing and mastering, where I am more than willing to enlist.

MW: SISU has toured with a lot of friends but hitting the road with Dirty Beaches has got to be different. Can you describe the history and chemistry of this pairing?
SV: I met Alex when Dirty Beaches opened for DDG. I had an instant bond with him through some shared cultural experiences–namely racism and food. He is one of the sweetest guys I know, just very honest and real. His latest record is very synth-heavy, which relates with SISU, for sure. I think his point of view and story is pretty different than SISU’s; For the EP and LP, I hadn’t left the house, my own body, whereas he’s had this history of displacement and is out there drifting all over the world. I look up to him like an older brother. He’s worked a lot harder and a lot longer than I have, and he continues working hard. He’s very inspiring to me. We share this struggle of having to deal with that little bit of extra bullshit from looking the way we do. By the same token, we also from have that well of family and roots to draw from, as people who grow up with dual cultures do.

MW: You’re barely home but are you still at that old place in Echo Park? What are some favorite places around the area and do you think your apartment might be haunted?
SV: No, we failed to keep the infamous Echo Park house in the family. I have no idea who lives there now. We’re in Silver Lake now. The house is old enough to be haunted but I haven’t noticed anything particularly supernatural, just lots of yelping coyotes from the reservoir. It’s only a few miles away from Echo Park, and yet the air feels so different. I’m even more of a shut-in there because it’s more secluded. I think people tend to grow into their own bubbles there. Our neighbors are rich, entitled jerks, and they hate us for being the poor renters of the block. Despite them, Silver Lake is a really beautiful and peaceful place but it does lack the vibrancy, soul that Echo Park has.

Catch SISU on tour with Dirty Beaches now, and buy the new releases at their merch tables while you’re at it. Gas ain’t cheap and neither is being a real artist. Look up the dates HERE. I’ll be at The Echo show, for sure.

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FYF 2013: Bonus Pics w/ No Age, METZ, Charles Bradley, Baroness, The Locust, Melvins, FLAG, Les Savy Fav

One of the raddest things about FYF is that the fest doesn’t just give up-and-coming or outsider bands a chance to rip it up in front of huge, curious crowds. They also promote indie and DIY culture in general, with the presence of craft tables and zine and mixtape contests. I think the fact that they give a photo pass to someone like me is part of that. There I was in the photo pit with my little GX1 and pancake lens, surrounded by professional shooters with thousands of dollars worth of bazooka-like gear… Somehow, I got some pretty good shots that I didn’t use in the FYF recap blogs (parts 1 and 2) but still want to share–like the one of No Age, above. The L.A. duo is known for weirdo ripping, but I was going to cry during “I Won’t Be Your Generator” because it sounded so gorgeous when given the fuzzed-out Replacements’ “Answering Machine” treatment. You can tell this outtake was from early in the set because drummer Dean Spunt is still wearing a hat.

I was grateful for the three songs that we were allowed to stand in front and take photos during. But, especially with a band like METZ, I knew certain musicians were just getting warmed up and that the real rocking out would happen toward the end of the set. In the outtake above, the Sub Pop rockers aren’t even covered in sweat yet. I considered setting up shop in the front row for certain bands’ entire sets but never followed through for hygiene reasons.

Since I’m not one of those guys with a hefty lens trying to get a close-up of the singer’s face, I like to stay on the side where it’s uncrowded and try to get the entire band in the frame. Actually, Charles Bradley was on the fest’s biggest stage so I didn’t get the drummer for this particular shot, but I like how you can see the remaining members admiring the former James Brown impersonator’s dance move. (more…)

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FYF 2013: Day 2 w/ Jonathan Richman, Mac Demarco, The Orwells, Chelsea Wolfe, Kurt Vile, No Age, Baroness, Melvins, Les Savy Fav, My Bloody Valentine

Two days of FYF is pretty manageable when you live 15 minutes away and doors don’t open until two. I got to sleep late, have brunch with my family, and still roll in early enough to find free Sunday street parking and order one of the best ice coffees ever while walking through Chinatown. Seriously, the helper at Hill Street Cafe & Cigar brewed and poured fresh espresso, spooned in some condensed milk, added ice, topped it off, sealed it in a boba cup, and then shook it by hand. I love FYF but that probably wasn’t going to happen in one of the food trucks, and definitely not for 3 bucks.

Jonathan Richman kicked of the day with a set that reminded us that music is made by humans for humans. The ex-Modern Lover who appeared in There’s Something About Mary not only chooses to surround himself with people rather than watch TV and have conversations in person rather than with a cell phone, but doesn’t even use monitors when playing with his buddy Tommy onstage. It’s that immediacy, integrity, and honesty that makes him a hero to punks and all music that stems from it. (more…)


FYF 2013: Day 1 w/ Crystal Antlers, METZ, Roky Erickson, Ty Segall, Charles Bradley, The Breeders, The Locust, Nosaj Thing, TV on the Radio, FLAG, Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Too big, too pop, not DIY anymore–punker-than-thou purists are entitled to their harsh opinions about FYF, not to mention long lines, crummy food trucks, and overextended lineups. I happen to think this year’s Los Angeles music festival really is the best weekend of summer (not counting Comic-Con) and don’t have to point any further than the long-awaited appearance of FLAG. Ever since their friends-and-family debut at the Elk’s Lodge, the ex-members of Black Flag had yet to play Los Angeles until this show. I was all over that, and a bunch of other great bands, too, for the bargain price of 99 bucks and a convenient location just 15 minutes away… (more…)


Filmage (Descendents documentary) secret screening in Long Beach

Last night, I was invited to attend the “family and friends” screening of Filmage, a documentary about the Descendents and ALL. How cool is that? The filmmakers were in attendance and so were many of the film’s local contributors and friends of the band. My friend Sandy Yang (Red Krayola) came along, too! (more…)


Nosaj Thing on FYF — This weekend!

Photo by Mikey Tnasuttimonkol

Last time I corresponded with Jason Chung a.k.a. Nosaj Thing was right before 2011′s FYF. I thought I’d get back in touch with the Los Angeles-based experimental electronic musician before he plays this weekend’s show alongside heavyweights like TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and My Bloody Valentine… Yes, he’s as cool as his music is heavy.

MW: You mentioned to me that you moved from Pasadena to Downtown L.A. Has the different environment, architecture, and energy affected your outlook or approach to music?
JC: I’ve always been sensitive to my environment. Downtown has brought out some of my old self somehow–I think in a good way.

MW: I haven’t seen you since the Octopus/Drift days. Will I even recognize you or your music at FYF this time around?
JC: Probably. I just got older and depressed!

MW: How was your recent trip to Asia?
JC: I actually just got back. Feeling inspired. I don’t know what it is but Tokyo woke me up. I need to move there sometime. Vibes…

MW: I was stoked to find the Mary Anne Hobbes session on your site. I know that’s ancient history to you, but can you tell me about it?
JC: She’s been a longtime supporter and I just thought I’d do a special mix to play some unreleased music from friends and myself. I’m working on a new mix now.

MW: The recent Chance the Rapper project was really interesting. How did it happen and unfold?
JC: The guys from Yours Truly reached out and thought it would be a good fit. I was already feeling Chance’s style and everything came together naturally… It’s a special track.

MW: It’s rad that you’ve worked with members of Blonde Redhead and M83, as well. I love those bands. Anyone else on your wish list? Maybe someone at this weekend’s shows?
JC: Karen O, please.

Find out more about Jason and his music at and then dig his set at FYF on Saturday, August 24. Shockingly, there are still some weekend passes available for the fest in beautiful Downtown Los Angeles.


Syd Butler of Les Savy Fav on FYF

So many rad bands are playing this weekend at FYF. Since the set times were announced last Friday, I’ve been fine-tuning a schedule that includes FLAG, Metz, The Melvins, The Locust, Jonathan Richman, Nosaj Thing… The genres and bands are so all-encompassing that a dozen music lovers can attend the same festival, have the best show ever, and never cross paths. And that’s cool and I respect people’s differing tastes but no one should skip Les Savy Fav.

This is a rare appearance by a Brooklyn band that dangerously and successfully balances art and punk, delivering concept, energy, and anarchy in spades, and hasn’t played for more two years. If you’re unfamiliar, check out the Les Savy Fav intro that Stereogum posted earlier this year. Fugazi, Enon, Gang of Four–those are the types of bands lazy journalists compare Les Savy Fav to, and this is a rare appearance not to be missed.

To celebrate the group’s reactivation for FYF (and a House of Vans show in NYC) I sent over some questions. Les Savy Fav bassist, Frenchkiss Records honcho, and David Cross comedy collaborator Syd Butler responded.

MW: What’s better, setting up an awesome festival like ATP or being invited to play one like FYF?
SB: Curating ATP was a dream come true but it’s always exciting to play festivals like FYF, see our fans, and have a great time together.

MW: Are you ready? How fast do the songs come back after a hiatus from music? How much of it is muscle memory? Vestigial memory?
SB: We haven’t played or really practiced in almost two years. We recently began practicing and the first day was pretty rough. I was surprised by how much work it takes to get to show level. Certain songs came back as if it were yesterday, but some songs we play have so many parts–especially for Seth, who sometimes plays three or four different parts at a time. So to remember all the changes was a challenge for all of us.  Some was straight-up work but some moments were easy. At one point, Harrison (drummer Harrison Haynes) looked at me with a smile and said, “I can’t believe how much muscle memory we have on these songs.” The hits were automatic.

MW: Any secrets to going forth for nearly 20 years now?

SB: I think at the end of the day we like each other and what we all offer as friends and as artists. We are constantly learning from each other, through thick and thin. Honest communication has been key for us.

MW: You’ve been way ahead of the curve in a lot of ways (like music) but comedy is one you don’t get enough credit for… Got any stories about making the DVD that came with Inches?
SB: I’m glad you brought this up. We feel very connected to the comedians that were in NYC at the time  (David Cross, Fred Armisen, Todd Barry, Eugene Mirman). We had toured so often with bands that when we stared touring with comedians it was a breath of fresh air. It felt obvious to us to combine what we were doing. The bonus DVD was put together very quickly and with great help from friends of Tim’s (singer Tim Harrington). It was done over the Christmas holiday and I was a complete pushy asshole trying to get it done in time. Tarikh Korula is owed a tremendous thanks for both helping us and dealing with me.

MW: Any chance of another collection of singles with maybe some extra stuff for us fans?
SB: We are writing for a collection of songs for 2014 as we need to play new songs for ourselves as well as our unbelievable fans. I am personally hoping for a later Spring release.

MW: So what can we expect at FYF?
SB: I have no idea to be honest. I am really happy we were invited as the lineup is amazing. I would be psyched to go even if we weren’t playing.

MW: What bands are you psyched about seeing over the weekend?
SB: I am really excited to see YYYs, MBV, Deerhunter, The Breeders, Metz, Charles Bradley, Eleanor Friedberger, !!!,  The Oh Sees, Beach House, and Ty Segall.

MW: Cool. Maybe I can buy you a Coke or something for all your rad music.
SB: Coke Zero is my jam. I have no idea why I like it so much. But you don’t need to buy us anything. Giant Robot rules and it’s always been a pleasure keeping up with you.

Catch the band at FYF in L.A. on Sunday, August 25 and then on Thursday, August 29 at the House of Vans in Brooklyn. Follow the band’s tumblr page, too.

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Twenty years of Envy (Japanese hardcore/post rock)

Remember Envy, one of the bands that I interviewed for the final issue of Giant Robot? The group from Japan is celebrating its twentieth anniversary with Invariable Will, Recurring Ebbs and Flows, a killer box set with fourteen LPs, two DVDs and a 100-Page book that contain absolutely everything, starting with its vicious hardcore roots and culminating with its cosmic post rock present. For this mother lode of amazing vinyl, I hit up singer Tetsu Fukagawa with some questions and pulled out Doug Kim’s photos from their 2010 stop at Santo’s Party House.

MW: You recently toured Japan to celebrate your 20th anniversary. What was that like? How did you model your set for the occasion?
TF: It was great. We only did three shows but lots of people showed up and the reactions have all been good. We played a lot of old songs so rehearsal was a bit hard, but we had a great time.

MW: What inspired the making of the new box set? Has it ended up as you expected or is it something different altogether?
FT: We didn’t really plan on doing anything initially but Jeremy from TRL came up with the idea of remastering all our songs, pressing vinyl, and putting it all together in a box set. We’re all really happy with how it turned out.

MW: It must have been a trip to look back to the beginnings of the band. Do you remember those days vividly or was revisiting the old songs like a time warp?
FT: There were some things we forgot about, and it was a really good experience for us to look back on all those years. Our old songs were fast and a lot of them were in English, so we haven’t played them at all recently. We’d forgotten about some really good songs we had! I think we’ll start playing them at shows from now on.  (more…)

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Animal Style Revisited at Asian Cinevision’s AAIFF (NYC) + Ramones Pilgrimage

Last night my program of indie skate videos by friends showed at the Anthology Film Archives in the East Village. I knew it was a rad spot as soon as I saw the Let Me Die a Woman and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! posters outside. And then when I finally met R.B. Umali in person, he said that he showed the first installment of N.Y. Revisited at the same venue ages ago as part of the Underground Film Festival. Another good omen. And when I saw my friends Wing Ko and Jesse Neuhaus gather to represent The Brotherhood: Chicago, I was reminded of the Chicago and Honolulu screenings, I knew this film festival tour was a pretty rad thing to keep going. (There was also San Diego.)

I’m a crummy skateboarder. I’ve never made a movie other than filming my daughter do cute stuff. But I’m really proud that I’ve been able to help promote the rad skate videos that my friends have made. From Tadashi Suzuki and Thy Mai’s artful and fun “The Working Man” and “Perfect Time” (which I got to be in, here’s a shorter version) to Wing Ko’s amazing doc about Chicago’s first generation of pro skaters Jesse Neuhaus, Stevie Dread, and Eric Murphy, The Brotherhood: Chicago. Ben Clark and Langdon Taguiped’s music shorts on Ray Barbee and Mario Rubalcaba. Willy Santos versus Pinoy comedian Jo Koy. And I wouldn’t have taken these to New York City unless I secured the local support of R.B. Umali, who made a special remix of his upcoming N.Y. Revisited Vol. 3 just for the fest.

The screening looked and sounded incredible and the Q&A afterward kicked ass until the lights dimmed. Thanks to Asian CineVision’s AAIFF Managing Director Judy Lei for inviting us to show skate videos on the big screen alongside indie, experimental, and imported works. I think it’s awesome that she would take that chance and put the genre in such context.

Yes, I’ve been doing other stuff in NYC, too. Namely, taking my 5-year-old daughter Eloise on pilgrimages to various destinations related to The Ramones. Left to right: Joey Ramone Place, 53rd and 3rd, the address where CBGB once stood. I know the way to Rockaway Beach but don’t think we’ll make it this trip. Perhaps next time… Gabba gabba hey!

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Music Reviews: Metallica at Comic-Con, Milk Music and Colleen Green at The Casbah, El Vez at Bar Pink, plus Adam Ant and The Go-Go’s

I don’t usually get too excited about the extracurricular events at Comic-Con but when I discovered that Metallica was going to attend a panel about their new 3-D IMAX movie and then play a secret show, I had to make it happen. Through the movie publicists, I was able to catch the Monsters of Rock play for the first time since the And Justice For All… tour. I was stoked to get a killer seat in the second row of the second level with studio folks and lucky Con attendees.

When I saw them at the Long Beach Arena way back when, I was kind of freaked out by the crowd of wild heshers that tore cushions off the seats and threw them in the air. The band went on KNAC to persuade fans to behave better during the second show. Probably for the better, Spreckels didn’t have the same sense of danger–although the set was pretty much from that era. They started with a double-shot of “Creeping Death” and “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and ended with a heavy-duty encore of “Last Caress” and “Seek and Destroy.” And if The Misfits cover wasn’t enough for Comic-Con fans, Kirk turned the Star Wars theme into a sweet solo leading into “Nothing Else Mattered” and “Enter Sandman.” Metallica has and will always rule, and it was very rad of them to play this free set for their fans (and a handful of lucky, undeserving poseurs like me).

I was psyched to visit one of my favorite venues the next night. Sadly, I missed the opener and headliner due to food and sleep reasons but mostly wanted to see the middle bands anyway. First there was the one-woman wrecking crew Colleen Green. I dig the cool, effortless style and catchiness of her supremely minimal yet hook-ridden tunes to the max.

And then there was Milk Music, a trio that plays super catchy and fuzzed-out melodies, full of primo noise an unconcerned with image. This time around, they seemed to play mostly older stuff of their essential first EP, which was once impossible to find but has been repressed. Fans of Dinosaur Jr. would dig, for sure.

I thought we were ending the best Comic-Con even by having dinner with my friends Alyasha and Kien at the Convoy Tofu House. Then Aly mentioned that he knew the DJ and could get us on the list for El Vez at Bark Pink’s sixth anniversary party. I was beat but it was impossible not to be entertained by The Schitzophonics’ high-energy set of garage rock ‘n’ roll. Taking the melody of The Fleshtones, sweat of JSBX, and out-0f-control energy from an electric chair, I had to be careful not to get clocked by the guitar neck as the singer spasmed around the low stage. Amazing.

Somehow, The Schizophonics had more than enough energy to be The Mexican Elvis’s backing band. I’ve seen the El Vez for President show and the Merry Mex-Mas show in the past, and this time it was the Punk Rock Revue. Of course, the original member of The Zeros played “Wimp” and “Beat Your Heart Out,” not to mention takes on Roxy Music, T-Rex, Television, and The Ramones. More than just delivering an aesthetic education, El Vez provides maximum entertainment and energy. A musical icon, institution, and friendly guy, too boot.


Two more quickies that I don’t have proper photos for… My brother and I didn’t score preview tickets for Comic-Con so we saw Adam Ant at The Balboa instead. Holy crap, the two-hour set was awesome and full of all the old songs that Ant People would want to hear, from “Ant Music” to  “Prince Charming.” The Dandy Highwayman doesn’t kick quite as high or spin as quickly as he did back in the day, but his voice is spot on and he is full of charisma and energy. (Thanks, Greg for the iPhone pic.) I took my daughter to see The Go-Go’s at the Pacific Amphitheater the Sunday before that, too. They played all the hits, and seemed to have a great time doing it. In addition to the hits, they covered KISS and The Ramones, and even did some circle pit dancing in honor of the Cuckoo’s Nest, which was right down the street. Too bad the venue made me go back to the car with my camera, but we were too far for any decent images anyway…

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