Nick Waterhouse on the Blues and the Abstract Truth

Categories: Interviews
Naj Jamai
If we take the physicists at their science, then yes, you can get something out of nothing. The cosmos, for starters. Music is another matter. Ex nihilo might be fine for the Big Bang or God or John Cage's "4'33" -- nothing out of nothing -- but if music makes you move, think, feel or dream, it's never by chance, and it's never really sui generis.

LA songwriter, producer and bandleader Nick Waterhouse doesn't pretend to be a music scholar, but he understands his sources, and he knows what he wants to do with them. Words like "retro" and "revival" simply don't apply. He claims to be a modernist, and so he is. He steals and alludes and recombines and builds soundscapes and rhythms, picking and pulling and twisting from '40s and '50s blues, jazz, R&B and Latin music. In his own way, he's sampling as masterfully as DJ Shadow, and he's creating something truly new out of his sources. His records, for all their muscular swing, funky guitar and wild saxophone are as atmospheric as a Brian Eno concept album.

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Kevin Seconds Stays Young 'Till He Dies In Spite of Knee Injury

Categories: Interviews

David Robert

Anyone who's seen the videos from 7 Seconds' recent European tour won't be surprised to hear that Kevin Seconds, the band's singer, is nursing a bum knee. At 53, Seconds can still perform his duties as head of one of the longest-running punk bands going today, but by his own admission it's not as easy as it once was.

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Ice-T's Body Count Continues to Rise

Categories: Interviews, Metal

Courtesy of Sumerian Records
Body Count

It's been slightly more than eight years since Body Count's last speed/thrash-metal assault on the world's eardrums. The lengthy delay doesn't come from a lack of desire, but rather the day job that keeps founder and frontman Ice-T out of the recording studio and on the production set.

"I've been doing Law & Order," Ice-T explains during a phone interview from his East Coast home. "I was supposed to do four episodes, and it's been sixteen years. That's a five-day-a-week gig. My band's in LA. I'm in New York. It threw everything into a zone."

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Alynda Lee Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff on the Road, New Orleans and Eminems With Guitars

Categories: Interviews
Pauly Lingerfelt

When I reach Alynda Lee Segarra, she's just gone through airport security in Chicago, headed to the Winnipeg Folk Festival, where she and her band, Hurray for the Riff Raff, will perform and take part in a workshop on "riffing." It's a rather charming (and literal) statement on behalf of the event, though Segarra's music is far more intentional and intimately driven than the act of jamming or improvising, though give her and her long-time musical partner Yosi Perlstein a fiddle and some sticks and they can riff all night.

This year Segarra turned 27 and released Small Town Heroes (her fifth record and first for the ATO label), a blues and folk and swinging old-time homage to the riff raff she has known and that, despite all her recent notoriety, still is. Born and raised in the Bronx, Segarra took a cue from the Beats and Woody Guthrie and hit the road as a teenager, hopping trains and falling in with drifters and outsiders, learning to make music on the fringes of American life and on the road, and eventually settling in New Orleans a year before Hurricane Katrina hit, a city that she still calls home, and whose spirit -- its beauty, tragedy and music -- infuses the heroism of the record's title with life-affirming meaning.

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Veruca Salt Returns After Fifteen Years

Categories: Interviews

Photo by Gary Kordan
Veruca Salt
by Jeff Weiss

During their fifteen-year musical estrangement, Nina Gordon and Louise Post frequently shared the same dream: They'd perform onstage together just like in the mid-'90s, when Veruca Salt became alternative-nation nobility with hit single "Seether." Except in these REM reveries, the Beatles replaced their other bandmates.

"It'd be, like, "Holy shit, I'm onstage. Wait, there's Louise to the left of me. And there's John Lennon," Gordon says, laughing. She's in North Hollywood, where the grunge rockers' original members are rehearsing for their first shows since 1997.

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Chris Phillips of Bear Hive Lives Off Coffee Beans

Categories: Interviews

Jon Gitchoff
Chris Phillips (left) is a coffee master by day, indie-rock frontman by night.

Most musicians split their time between writing songs and paying the bills. The two aren't mutually exclusive, but many artists tend to slow their craft in order to make ends meet (hence the phrase "starving artist"). Chris Phillips, frontman for local band Bear Hive, spends his days cherry-picking coffee beans for Maplewood café ArtHouse, so he might be better described as a "caffeinated artist."

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The World Meets the Midwest in PHOX's Music

Categories: Interviews

Jade Ehlers

When reached by phone, Matt Holmen immediately tells RFT Music that he's super busy.

"I'm here for 36 hours. I'm trying to put my life in a box," he says.

The PHOX guitarist is in his adopted hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, gearing up for the band's biggest tour to date "by a long shot." Riding a surprising wave of popular acclaim behind the orchestral pop of "Slow Motion" from the band's just-released self-titled debut (and the associated video featuring sultry frontwoman Monica Martin), the six-piece band is leaving the farmland for the greener pastures of bigger locales.

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Née Frontwoman Throws Dumpster Pool Party Outside Fortune Teller Bar

Image captured at last year's Dumpster Pool Party

Kristin Dennis of electro-pop outfit Née slides a Stiegel Radler across the Fortune Teller Bar's wood rail and recounts, "Sam Coffey and I were just walking down the neighborhood alleys, really hot and wanting to swim really bad. We had no pool. And no money." It's an introduction that mirrors an urban take on a Steinbeck landscape. "We thought we could dig a hole, turn that into a pool." She angles her head from left-to-right as she narrates several pool ideas inspected for potential backyard ponds. Then the idea struck.

"Let's turn a dumpster into a pool!" says Dennis, who operates the bar. "It was kind of thrown together because it was so last minute. We made punch and we had the fire department fill up the dumpster and we just waited to see what happened. It was the most fun thing we did all year."

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No More Pain for Young Widows

Categories: Interviews

Nick Thieneman
Young Widows

Young Widows and its audience seem to have a mutually personal bond that is absent from most bands.

The band formed in 2005 when three out of the four members of the esteemed and disbanded Breather Resist out of Louisville, Kentucky, decided to continue performing together while expanding their hardcore musical palette into noise-rock and slower tempos. Since then, Young Widows has released four albums, including this year's cathartic and moving Easy Pain. But the record is absolutely lighthearted compared to 2011's In and Out of Youth and Lightness, which was a product of personal turmoil and stylistic transition for the band.

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Ryan Carpenter Tours Europe with Ian Fisher, Talks of Muny Magic


St. Louis multi-instrumentalist Ryan Carpenter has just returned from Vienna to God's favorite country, America. He slurps a gin and tonic as it stains the table with perspiration. He leans back and speaks.

"You know, I've never been much of a writer. I arrange a lot," he muses. "I have written songs. And I wrote songs for this Evangelical Christian band I was in -- Harlot Bride. Super good name. I wrote a few songs, but not many. I am more into taking songs other people have written and reworking those."

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