Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Carjack and Wildcatting - "Form like Voltron" to become CARJACK-ING: Saturday at the CAID, for Curare III

Festival season is upon us - and all the hurried overwhelming madness gets kicked off this Saturday at the CAID

This weekend, sample the outsider-experimental freak, funk punk and folk styling of the line up at Curare III, Saturday at the CAID: Oscillating Fan Club (pictured), Chicago’s Netherfriends (recommended), Pinkeye, Jehova’s Witness Protection Program, The Frustrations, Beekeepers, The Directions, Lenny Stoofy, 1964, Lightshow Bob – and finally – electro-punk-rocker Carjack and freight-train-trounce-rockers Wildcatting will form like Voltron to become ‘Carjacking’ – the normally synth/sampled/drum machine punk tunes of Carjack as interpreted through a full live rock band of guitar gods and a devastating drummer with Carjack on vocals.

When reached for comment, Mr. Carjack himself shrugged and quipped sarcastically, “Fuck a synthesizer…”

This should be both a sight to see and a sound to hear - as both of these bands are extremely distinct, even in their own genres of electro-punk and instrumental math-rock - so the mind reels at what the possibilities hold when they combine forces...

Check it out at the CAID, Saturday! Starting at 5pm and going through the early morning!

More info at:

carjackING. (around midnight!!)


guitar cat gifguitar cat gif

Rocker CatRocker Cat

cat gun gifcat gun gifcat gun gifcat gun gif

(Oscillating Fan Club photos by Megan Lang)

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Plymouth Coffee Bean (feature) - and the Plymouth Green Street Fair

In the quaint, down-towney feeilng Plymouth area - there will be an eco-friendly event known as the Green Street Fair, highlighting Michigan-based business:

"The Green Street Fair, presented by Whole Foods Market, will blend companies, non-profit organizations, artisans, live music, workshops and speakers together in a friendly and family-oriented outdoor environment. The event will be held on the streets of Downtown Plymouth on May 3 and 4, 2008. Attendees of the Green Street Fair will be encouraged to learn the benefits of green, organic, and eco-friendly products and services. This free event will showcase local and
national businesses displaying, demonstrating and/or selling on-site."

Support your local crafters Handmade Detroit for their own Green Street-based offerings, including possible volunteer work for Swap-o-rama-rama for clothing swaps and do-it-yourself-clothing workshops!

....and, to coincide with the Green Street Fair press - I thought I'd post an un-cut version of a feature that I recently wrote on one of the coolest coffee shops I've ever been to - nestled right in downtown Plymouth: The Plymouth Coffee Bean Co.

enjoy (and visit 884 Penniman Ave, Plymouth, MI):

If You're a Pretender, Come Sit By My Fire: The Plymouth Coffee Bean Company

all photos by: Megan Lang
There's love here.
Much more than a coffee shop; The Plymouth Coffee Bean really is a home, (built into a former house); a home to the burgeoning artist community of Plymouth (through open mic nights, poetry readings and live bands on weekends,) to family-raising-crowds who need a place to take their kids on Saturday morning, to Church crowds who want a bit of brunch, to weary souls who just need a bit of escape--hovering over a steaming mocha or chai by the window sill overlooking the spacious, bustling patio outside.

Jeffree Paul St. John, musician/poet and Bean-events planner, toured me through each dynamically colored room, past the intricately designed chalk board laden front counter, through the sitting room (by the fireplace) through the living room (its ceiling a baby-blue with scattered nimbus clouds) through "the orange room" and back, all the while brushing by bright bohemians exuding disarmingly glowing greetings of familiarity. He turns and reads my awed expression

"…kinda what a coffees shop should be…" he says, standing against "all those pop-up, bigbeat corporate fastfood coffee houses."

There's the owners, Adam Schlecter (also a physical trainer, Wayne County Sheriff and former professional wrestler) and Barbie Stout (aspiring pastry chef, nickname: "Mama Bean"), Bean's Manager Donna DeMeyer (long time poet/occasional event planner), Jeffree, baristas Alan, and Brian, (w/Ray and Scott and more! - intricately swirled happiness) and two devoted customers who casually came up to sit with me, Brian Gardner and Nick Pacific…

"…this is what every coffee shop wants to be…" adds Nick.
Then I piece together the history of this warmly regarded local enclave.
Down Penniman, off Main St. in quaintly welcoming downtown Plymouth, sits a humble, light-blue two story, 100-year-old colonial house. Once used for many things, including a dentists office, the lower half (upstairs is still residential apartment-space) was converted into a coffeehouse in 1993.
Donna found it in 1997, having her poetic muse spurred by recent readings, and eventually organized her own Bean-based poetry series. For seven years, her series helped percolate local aspiring scribes to frequent the

Bean, but concluded in 2004; "[the Bean] had deteriorated to the point where a lot of people didn't enjoy being here anymore," said Donna with bittersweet reflection. "The people running it [at that time] frankly weren't putting the love and care into it that [Adam/Barbie] do now."

She returned in 07, met Barbie and, says Donna with glistening eyes, the pair quickly became best friends. (The pair are recognized around the neighborhood as quasi-celebrities.) To add to the Bean's magic, Donna met the love of her life on her first day working.

"One of my missions was to provide interest for local writers," says Donna, "The Bean sits on a crossroads; last week we had people from Hamtramck, Detroit and Farmington. It's a good place, it brings out the best in people."

Donna hosts "A Gathering of Writers," monthly, drawing writers from all over Michigan, with a focus on poetry (distinct from Jeffree's open mic night-Mondays, being open to prose/music.)

In the late 90's, the luminous Jeffree found the Bean after moving back home to Livonia, (from the national slam-poetry tour circuit.) As events planner, Jeffree, having known what it's like to tour as poet and musician, masterfully facilitates the open mic night and weekend performances, keeping all the performers feeling welcome and comfortable.

"It's one of the better rooms," said Jeffree, in front of the red-curtained stage, "'cuz it's a listening room; for people who play bars it's a whole different vibe. This is an intersection for so many people, there's so many relationships here and I've always seen the potential of it. Basically, everyone knows everyone; it's one of those places."

Jeffree broke from event-planning around the same time Donna described, in 03, when the Bean's vibrancy seemed to wane.

Enter Adam, who'd always dreamed of running a coffee shop someday. With a BS in Health Education and Human Performance, he runs S.W.A.T. ("sweat with a trainer") and is also a top national bodybuilder and former "bad guy" wrestler. When one client said he was trying to sell two coffee shops (one being the Bean) Adam showed an interest and drove over to check the place out.

He and Barbie met on 6 years ago and were engaged 7 months ago. Barbie, who grew up in Belleville, said she found her true calling in pastry school – which tied together perfectly with Adam's new plans, when he drove her over to the still-feeling-un-loved
Bean in 06 and said to her, "We could own this place!"

"It's your home away from home," said Adam, "people actually call it their home," and "we brought love back into it." (As well as brought Donna and Jeffree back.)

In 15 months, the duo replaced furniture, painted everywhere and offered a revamped menu, with homemade sandwiches, hummus, iced drinks, unbeatable hot chocolate, muffins, cookies and on Saturday mornings– pancakes! The drinks are overwhelmingly delicious and inventively mixed. The beans all come from local roasters, the sandwiches are all health-conscious and on Fridays and Saturdays the joint's open 24-hours, with midnight movies on Fridays.

Support of local art continues with each month featuring a different portrait/illustrator's work hanging in the listening room.

And, if Barbie sees sidewalk-passersby with Starbucks, she dares them to trade cups. In fact, Starbucks, with their corporate droll, helps the Bean, said Adam, because "when people come from Starbucks to here they see that we care about you…"
here's love here…and coffee.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Frustrations - Curare III May 3rd at the CAID; Vinyl Glowing Red Pill & X! Fest in July

The sound of the Frustrations is relentless. Coarse and mangled tones, often with a somewhat panic vibe likened to mutated hell cats emoting death rattles as their sharp claws scrape breaking window panes and disorientation settles in with wavering tempos and feedback; Running drum beats and brawny bass lines under pedal fuzzed guitar scrapes, howled vocals and an erratic tempo that slows down and gives space for improvised solos or bass blurts or drum fills but without warning winds back up to the uneasy, almost nauseating tempo like some sugar-addled youth who doesn't know his own strength, blindfolded, armed with a bat and spun ragged to be let loose with the world as his piñata.

(photo by: Marianna Vermiglio)

Somewhere in all of this, you have the tip of the iceberg for the Frustrations…their debut 7" from 2005 could not have been more aptly titled – "Nerves Are Fried."
Drummer Scott Dunkerly says 'surf' and 'psychedelic' and 'off sounding music,' but never straight out punk.

The Frustrations, with Dunkerly, Colin Simon on guitar/vocals and Sean Dufty on bass are much more than punk – though they collide with the typical vigor connected to it, transcending and twisting those perceived punk styles of machine gun percussion, blurred-blade riffage and structures that sound like they're purposely flying off the rails into seas of abrasive sounds. They take that aesthetic and stretch it into a more cerebral sound that drifts confidently into slower, subdued compositions, mixing in unique tones or left-field influences and makes room for improvisation.

Dunkerley manages local label X! Records, (beginning in 2003) which he started out of high school (Kimball) with aspirations of running his own studio. With a digital 8-track he recorded a CD-R for his friends Fontana, a local punk band whose drummer, Colin would eventually join Dunkerley (with Dufty, who also plays in 1964) to form Frustrations in late 04.

Dunkerley had been running with the Fontana members for much of the early 00's through sharing bills (pairing Fontana with Dunkerley's earlier bands, the Yarbles and the Skinny Fists.)

The goal was to "get a record out as soon as we could," said Dunkerley, as 7" Nerves Are Fried came out in 05. "Other bands I was in (Skinny Fists, Yarbles), we recorded so much and just sat on it so long." The Frustrations' Exploding Mind 7" came in 07 (on Ohio-based Die Stasi) and last year, X! put out Frustrations' striking and propulsive debut LP Glowing Red Pill, (which will be getting a proper vinyl-release treatment this August.)

When recording, "we don't have any grandiose expectations," said Dunkerley, "Get [songs] down, get em sounding good and then get em out." In terms of Dunkerley's own technique as an engineer, "I try to keep it pretty basic sounding, where you can hear everything, I want it to jump out at you but not where you have all these effects that make it sound dated."

"Once we have a song written we usually don't need to practice, so that might add sort of…the rawness…" [to the live performance.]" I recall to him their set at Detour's inaugural festival in Sept. 07, where breakneck tempos and throat curdling screams seemed to rattle the foundation of the Garden Bowl (notably and unfortunately ending in a considerable scuffle between fans/bands/and security.) ("Yeah," notes Dunkerley, "we played really fast that night.") Disarmingly, however, the very next set I saw from them was further from punk and more toward a cerebral, down-tempo pyschedelic trip.

Dunkerley particularly emphasizes their improvisation within song structures. "That's what a live show should be – one of a kind."
The Frustrations toured with label mates Terrible Twos through summer 07, facilitating an emphasized emergence for both bands. The Terrible Twos were among the first bands to release with X! Records, an alliance born "hanging around and playing shows. I remember I met Chris (TT's singer/guitarist) at the Painted Lady. We did a show at Smalls; we really liked each other's bands and we became friends.
Regarding their early 7" write-ups referencing comparisons to the hallowed Clone Defects, Dunkerley said, "That was cool. Tim (Vulgar, Clone Defects singer/guitarist) was a friend of ours from day-one, he's always pushed us."

Asked where the band name came from, Dunkerley said, "I guess it came out of...honestly...out of the frustration of trying to decide on a band name."
Coming up, X! will release a 7" by Coney-inspired punk duo the Mahonies and on July 25-26, X! will curate an X! Records music fest (featuring Tyvek, Fontana, the Frustrations and many more) at the Bohemian National Home.

Next Saturday, (5/3) see the Frustrations at Curare III, at the CAID (more news on that SOON, but for the meantime: featuring Netherfriends, Carjack, Pinkeye, The Oscillating Fan Club, 1964, Beekeepers, The Directions, Lenny Stoofy, Jehova's Witness Protection Program and Lightshow Bob)

more info at:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Prussia - Un-Cutz

Prussia Interview (from Real Detroit, cut from print for space - so a quasi-exclusive here)

4/19 Belmont 4/20 Scrummage 4/24 Modern Exchange

Photos by Megan Lang

Prussia: It Just Comes Random

“I think this is someone’s property,” Megan, the photographer cautions as we traipse out of a wooded area and into a clearing, looking for more photo shoot staging areas.

“I think we could totally go though,” Prussia singer/guitarist Ryan Spencer asserts, hands on hips, nodding. “Plus, you could get some sweet shots of the cops chasing us when they come…”

Within minutes, Ryan is dangling from a pine tree branch like a human-opossum with bassist Brenton Bober and drummer Andrew Remdenok framing their upside down singer as he tells them “to look cool. You’ll be like Morrissey and I’ll be Johnny Marr.”
The Prussia guys (with drummer Steven Wagner) laugh easy and shrug modestly, exhibiting the chemistry of their longtime friendships and a refreshing unpretentious manner that leads to a casual fearlessness for a fairly experimental but primarily down to earth approach.

“I dunno…,” says Andrew, “We’re pretty laid back.”

“We all get pretty bad grades,” Ryan snickers, referencing their respective educational pursuits, Ryan at Oakland University, Brenton and Andrew at Oakland Comm. College and Steven at Wayne State.

“I don’t think you can take anything too seriously,” Brenton affirms.

“Pretty soon we’re going to be 30 and making the worst music ever,” Ryan wisecracks.
Andrew and Brenton started playing music together as freshman at Adams high school in Rochester, where they also knew Ryan (then a senior) who played in a post-punk band called our-delay. Prussia was born out of a ‘folk/rock’ experiment started by Andrew and Ryan (with Brenton soon joining) in 2006 called Russian Spy Orchestration. With Ryan’s brother Drew on drums, they played their first show on New Year’s Eve (06) at the AC Rich building in Pontiac, (having changed the name to avoid sounding “too high school talent show.”)

In early 07 they recorded Artless, “kind of a melting pot compilation” says Andrew, a collection of beautifully coarse pop songs, showing penchants for both indie-noise and 60’s soul, Kinks-ian theatricality, Motown grooves and intricate rolling rhythms. They didn’t play out through the summer 07, instead the quartet of multi-instrumentalists focused on recording (as a band and on their own basement solo projects) then they reassembled that October. That same month, Steven (whom Ryan met while playing theremin with his band, Wagner-Steven) came in as second-drummer and soon after Prussia started working on their follow up.

Ryan plays a surf-toned guitar and sings in an acerbic, but shimmering teen-idol croon with Brenton adding smooth, distinct bass grooves, while Andrew plays an upright bass drum (usually standing up and maybe also adding sitar or melodica) with Steven’s drums having a snare, floor tom and cymbals (also standing up, and sometimes playing ‘singing-saw.’)

The band (who never “rehearses” traditionally, so much as gets together and records ideas) often changes live set ups also, using full drum kits intermittently, rotating instrument amongst the band and handing out percussion instruments to the crowd.

“We get bored too,” Andrew quips, “I don’t want to make anyone else watching it bored.”
“They are pop songs,” says Ryan of the new album, Dear Emily-Best Wishes-Molly, “just weird pop songs.”

“We don’t like to fit into what people want us to be,” said Brenton, noting that even if Motown is a common drawing point for all members, it may not always guide their sound. “We don’t want to release the same shit over and over.”

Live and on record, the sound is a controlled, slow-swelling explosion, with urgent pounding rhythms, strange left-field instrumentations, dreamy melodies that transmogrify into feedback churns and sweetly sung (and shouted) harmonies in a truly 60’s pop style, a weird soup of Brit-pop, doo-wop, teen-idol, girl-group and Motown.

Spicing up the pot of boiling influences are Steven’s current kick for Indian music and Ryan’s now almost-year-long fixation on reggae and dub. Throw in some Liars, Kinks, Magnetic Fields and even Ennio Marricone.

At a recent Northern Lights lounge set, Ryan said, “When you play 5 shows in a month a lot of the same people come to see you – a lot of times we’ll do different shows just to try feeling out what we want.”

Keep it crazy, huh?

“Yeah,” he says, “I would hate it if we just played the same songs every night in the same way.”

That night, my third time seeing them, is still yet-different with a new set up and new songs.

“I don’t think it’s an aim,” says Ryan. “It just…comes random.”

4/19 Belmont 4/20 Scrummage 4/24 Modern Exchange
Real Detroit version

see them this Saturday at the Belmont with Carjack and They Never Sleep

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Dan Bejar from Destroyer: Guide Me Misty Poet

(playing the Pike Room, Friday, 4/18)

(from Real Detroit)

Dan Bejar has a bit of subtle mysticism about him. To hear the fey voiced singer/songwriter incant through his characteristic vocal serpentines and freeform swish-of-the-firefly-net phrasings, (“the truth is a thing to coax out of it’s shell, on this, you and I are going to tangle-off! Treacherous bliss, off!”) it’s hard not picturing either a zealous open mic night poetry rambler, or perhaps a gypsy-like sage with beard, staff and crescent-moon-decorated robes.

He, at least, has a beard. The Vancouver musician, who also writes and records for fellow Canadians the effervescently poppy New Pornagraphers, has been recording as rock group Destroyer for 10 years – backed by a revolving cast of adept musicians throughout six albums, (98-05) and finally settling with the secure line up (Nicholas Bragg, Tim Loewen, Ted Bois, Scott Morgan and Fisher Rose) for his 7th studio release, Destroyer’s Rubies (06).

Destroyer’s latest, Trouble in Dreams, is framed by staggeringly beautiful, lush pop compositions and is a continuation, in some ways, of his oblique lyrical structures (sometimes free of any melody) and melodramatic ambiance.

After 8 albums, critics have perhaps gotten frustrated by his whimsical, ornate lyrics and end up delving too deep in analysis.

“Yes, totally, yes,” says Bejar, (pronounced be-i-har). “Before Rubies, people would talk about the weird shifts from record to record, the general alienating functions of the music, for good or bad. Then, with Rubies, people started to dive in, but in weird ways. Now, it’s just like, ‘there’s old Bejar, spinning his wheels, caught up in his old gobbledygook, whatever!’ Then they’re off to write their dissertations on Sufjan Stevens or the Hold Steady.”

Bejar’s form of ‘literary’ songwriting may diverge from “mainstream critical concerns in America” but it’s often not a bunch of grandiose symbolism-invested, culturally critical anthologies. “I have no interest in character study, narrative, craft…I am really just about a raw kind of poetics that I try to render extra-beautiful or extra-harsh with melody and diction or the lack thereof, or the overload thereof.”

Bejar stresses that musically Destroyer recordings get overlooked by writers distracted with highbrow dissections of poetic auras and storytelling,

“Words and melodies and their intersection does not get discussed,” says Bejar, “but style and attitude and general sonic ambience does and this passes for song critique, when really you’re just talking about outfits. Really, I don’t care what other people do or what people think is good. It is best to completely ignore these things, and a bunch of other things as well. The bulk of [Trouble’s songs] are so completely different from anything I’ve ever written before, but I’m not going to stomp up and down trying to convince anyone of this.”

One has to admire his evasive maneuvering from the labels of strict poet, prose storyteller, literate rocker, or even mystical cognoscenti; put simply, if he is anything it is against conventions. Plus, he’d much rather emphasize the talents and labors his band mates.

“Bragg has a million cool, uncharted parts, I hang albums on his parts. Bois’ arrangements were a total eye-opener, they make the record in a lot of ways. Loewen is such an anchor, and yet so melodic, like the ultimate in guitar players who happens to play really good bass. [And] Fisher is probably the most exciting musician I’ve ever played with – he plays in a language I can’t pretend to understand.”

4/16 Pike Room

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Imposters of the Deep Society: Saturday at the Belmont



The Unicorn sent me a singing telegram – delivered in person, telling me to be at the Rogers City Holiday Inn by 6:15 am on Tuesday morning, otherwise the interview was “off.”

I arrived by taxi on that rainy and ominous morning, sketching out questions in the backseat, watching out the window as we rode through that somewhat rural feeling northern Michigan town.

After waiting in the lobby until seven o’clock, I drifted into the hotel bar to get some breakfast – a couple of Singapore slings and some stale pretzels.

Finally, at 11:47 a.m., the Unicorn, drummer for the Imposters of the Deep Society, an affable looking chap wearing a spotty t-shirt with a horned horse drawn upon it in permanent marker, comes striding up to the table with an aloof expression, finally saying that he’s surprised I waited this long – he was sure I’d have left by now.

We don’t say much. I’m able to pry a little bit out of him before the other band members arrive, but I’m self-conscious that he can read my anxiety – as I’ve been somewhat dreading this interview ever since the band’s last performance at the Knitting Factory, when the band’s bass player, Sgt. Cousin Ronnie threatened my life with a pair of, ironically, sewing shears and mumbling something about me resisting arrest.

Eventually, past 1 p.m., a Rogers City police cruiser pulls up in front of the hotel and I watch as the angular, grimacing bass player, who started his career as a sheriff, steps out (in uniform) and staidly marches to the backseat to extract a tall, broad-shouldered dude with scraggly hair, his legs exposed by his short-shorts, looking as though he’s just woken up, and fumbling a football under his right arm. I watch as the two slowly make their way in, making paranoid eye contact with the few passersby on the street.

"This is what you do?" Ronnie starts in on me as we sit down together to a rickety table in the dank, spotty bar "I've read some of your stuff…it's all mindless dribble…you should get a day job."

Accompanying him is Ernest Ernie Bronson, the lead singer, aspiring punter and failed silent film star.

It’s only 10 more minutes later, only 8 hours late, that Jack The Licker, the guitar player, his long brown locks framing his tight smile with eyes hidden behind aviators, gets dropped off in front of the hotel by a passing truck carrying a load of toothpicks.

Now the interview-proper can finally begin.

First, the origin of the Imposters of the Deep Society:

Origin: The IOTDS started in Roger City, at a bar that's no longer there, in 1983: singer, Ernie Ernest Bronson, broad-shouldered, curly-haired, wearing cut-offs, was there, drinking away his sorrows having been cut by the Roger City Robots' football team, as a potential punter; the adversarial Ronnie showed up fresh from arresting and confiscating the instruments from a rock band, (the Honorable Mentions,) for marijuana possession. The Unicorn, an affable fella with horned-horse drawn on his t-shirt, happened to be driving through Roger City and stopped in the bar due to car trouble (he'd just hit a deer.) Though Ronnie was off-duty, he started enthusiastically throwing drunks out, eventually grabbing one of the guitars in his cruiser to bash the belligerently bemoaning Ernie—but after Ernie, head bleeding, somehow calmed Ronnie down, they started experimenting with a song. Luckily, it was the Unicorn's lifelong aspiration to be a bar-band drummer. One want-ad later brought them the magical 'hired-gun' guitar player Jack the Licker, but, they would not debut the band live until 2004.

"We felt it was at least 21 years ahead of it's time," says Ernie, who had also been expelled from acting school for his unreasonable ambition to only act in silent films.

Now, Ronnie reveals, they only play once a year because, "it's too much to handle…mentally…"

Plus, you’re just plain old misanthropic.

“We can’t help it if we’re on the cover of every major magazine – you saw those people out on the sidewalk, begging for our autographs.”

“I haven’t even been in Dunken Donuts for 10 years,” Ernie regrets. “I can’t go there anymore, cuz when I do people start shouting, Ernie-this, Ernie-that…I mean,….I wear a name-tag, but…”

Describe your style?

Unicorn: "Like a walk in the park on a sunny day; kids and dogs abounding with joyfulness."

Ernie: "This 'loud meaningless hard rock' that might mean nothing to some means everything [to us]," shouts Ernie. "When somebody-all-artsy, talking about love all the time, makes fun of you for your enthusiasm—you get a bit bitter."

I ask Jack, owner of 16,000 guitars how he feels about being an Imposter. "I don't talk much and I don't listen much," he offers nihilistically. "I just try to wear nice colors…and play nice colors."

Sounds kinda psychedelic, Jack, you on acid?

Jack: "No! Just…colors."

Ronnie: "Jack gives us special guitar powers – if he didn't he wouldn't be here. We can't stand each other. [Jack] wants our rock contribution to life, here, on this planet, and we want his…other than that, see you later, go to hell."

…You just wanna use people?

Ronnie: "Absolutely,…like you, for instance."

You've used a lot of people to climb the band-success ladder.

Jack: "We're going to continue to…"

But, you'll see those people on your way down!

Ronnie: "…not if they're dead."

Jack, how do you feel about being referred to as ‘just a hired gun?’

Jack: I don’t mind it…

Ronnie: I would think a million people would kill to be in his shoes so if he doesn't like it, the next one is...

I tried to get into his shoes and I have killed, but I didn't get that check in the mail yet

Unicorn: Just wait!…the mailbox.

How about influences?

Unicorn: We influence each other when we play live…in sequential chain-reactions of spontaneous inspiration.

Ronnie: People say we sound like...Judas Priest? That's bull shit!

Ernie: Who is that? No one's ever heard Judas Priest

Ronnie: People say we sound like the Monkees, that's bullshit, people say we're heavy metal - we're not, we're SO not...,

Ernie: - People say that we're cute

Ronnie: - ….we're not!

What’s the band dynamic? Are you friends?

Ronnie: can't stand each other!

Ernie: I like…(shrugging) the unicorn, but I don't like sgt Cousin Ronnie...he hits me with guitars

Ronnie: we're not doing this to make friends, we're doing this to make enemies, and its important that in order to make enemies that people who are central to the idea, to the creative mission - its important that we cant stand each other.

Unicorn: you know how some people keep themselves crazy in order to be good artists; well we just keep our hate for each other in order to maintain the sanctity of the band

Ronnie: I hate Ernie's legs.

Ernie: He’s jealous…(he struts over to the bar for a drink)

Ronnie: He loves himself (shaking his head at the singer) and I hate how much of a wuss the Unicorn is…

But, he’s a Unicorn…

Ronnie: Well, I hate that about him, we’re trying to make this thing that’s unified and powerful and evil and…he just fucks it up!

Jack: He does smile a lot…

Ronnie: How can you be playing rock music and be smiling?

After Ernie informs me that he’s really only performing with this band to kill time before his next punting try out (or, until people like silent movies again), I conclude by asking about rumors that the Imposters are just alter-egos of local Detroit band regulars; is Ernie the singer from the Beggars? Unicorn the singer/keyboardist from Johnny Headband? Jack the drummer for Cetan Claswson? Ronnie the bass player from JHB/Electric 6?

The Unicorn smiles and denies it politely. Jack floats away and rambles something about being able to communicate directly with his guitar. Ronnie splashes his drink in my face and storms out. Ernie threatens to punt me in the face before he jogs off.

The Unicorn and I share another bowl of pretzels.

See their only (likely) 2008 performance, Saturday at the Belmont.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

This Weekend; Northern Lights Lounge and Record Time in Roseville

The two biggest events I can point you two this weekend are either the Northern Lights Lounge in Detroit on Saturday Night, for the Euro-tour launch of Detroit's beloved garage-pop girl group The Gore Gore Girls / or the weekend-long sale and music festival going on at Record Time in Roseville (to get the now-one-store-only enclave off to a running start as the main hub for the store.)

Firstly: Gore Gore Girls are putting out a 7", a limited edition single, "Fight Fire" b/w "Buried & Dead," on steadfast Detroit-based label Bellyache Records.

Opening up with be the brothers' Muldoons new band the Uproars (with Brandon from the Displays) and the incomparably storm-the-stage tribal-booty-techno-funk of Electric Fire Babies, featuring Miss N. on vocals/drums, Lo-Fi Bri of Carjack on synth/guitar and Justin (Audio) Walker of the Directions on guitar/drums. Check it out, because EFB's had their shit together after just ONE show...people won't know what hit 'em. (B-52's meets Chicks on Speed meets Suicide meets something else entirely)

So head on down, by a 7", drink some vodka, shake yer ass.


April 3rd through the 6th, at the Roseville Record Time store, there's a sall: - 25% off all used items, $2 off all new items and $10 off everything else!

with DJ's all day Friday and Band's all day Saturday



Mike Himes
Billebob (live) with Black Echo Zone
Kevin Reynolds
Edwin Fabre
Adriel Fantastique
Digga Diggswell
Joshua Crilley
Jay Langa
Keith Kemp

not necessarily in this order
Fortune Favors the Bull
Red China
the Jeremiah Bazely Band
My Dear, Watson!

and if that's STILL not enough....
you can head up to the Elbow Room in Ypsilanti for a post-hash-bash-BASH..., with Lightning Love!
(^photo by Angi Stevens)

The Coffee Bean and HenriHenrietta

So, my friend Megan and I were on a reconnaissance mission back up to the luminous Plymouth Coffee Bean. We've been working on this story and wanted to get better perspective - and, at least, more photos. This is a place that, in passing conversation, I've labeled as either the "greatest" or "most magical" coffee shop on the planet, or substitute some other infatuated adjectives in there; (if that's not a good enough review--go there yourself and feel the love!) but anyhow..., we returned so Megan could take more photos of the Bean (thankfully so, because sometimes trusting my photography might be like giving a baby chimpanzee a gold rolex.)

The place is set into an old colonial house, utilizing the den, living room and family room as, respectively, a reading room, a performance space and a "green" room for said performers. There's a fireplace in the reading room and the performance space has bright blue walls with puffy nimbus clouds sprawled across the blue ceiling and a Shel Silverstein poem running across the crown molding.

So we wander in on a sunny, slightly chilled afternoon, have some coffee and start meandering through; with Megan actually working, finding shots, framing them, documenting - and me, bustling around and greeting all the gathered caffeine injectors. This isn't like the Starbucks you go to in metro Detroit where you have 14 people sitting at 14 different one-person tables, with 13 of them reading off of lab tops and the 14th vehemently texting on their phone, all in their own secluded world of cold technological lobotomies.

Here, people sprawl out on couches, they look you in the eye, they nod, they smile, they talk to you - believe it or not. It radiates with a neo-bohemian artist enclave vibe but simultaneously draws in the family crowds also - the doctors and lawyers, the church goers, the republicans, the democrats, the anarchists - we're all here, man, and we're all getting to know each other.

Anyway..., I mentioned a "green room" above, for all the performers who comes through the Bean, be they open mic night prose readers, touring poets and writers, or national bands. The "green room" itself is painted a blazing orange and is known, in fact, simply as "the orange room." When we walked in there we found a trio of musicians, two guys on the couch quietly playing acoustic guitars together in the slightly hushed college crowd study mood hanging over the place that day, and a girl with bright bleach blond hair sitting at her lab top with an accordion nearby. Somehow, (I'm still not sure how it happened,) they end up assembling for us together on the couch within minutes and serenading us (along with my new friend, Brian, who was working on Web sites at a near by table in the orange room) with some of their songs, interlacing bits of their story in between each exclusive performance.

This is HenriHenrietta, with Lauren (on vocals and accordion) coming from Indiana, joined by her cousin Owen Nicholas (guitar/vocals) who came up from Orlando with fellow singer/songwriter Sterling Shroeder and were also joined by singer/banjo-ist/guitarist Matt Plummer (who plays with Owen in The Priest & The Devil )

The sound is lush, harmonic folk, with staggering vocals, adroit acoustic auxillaries, heartrending vocals and poignant melodies. This touring band had traveled hundreds of miles on a shoestring budget, networking-as-they-go across the midwest, through bars and coffeeshops - and here they were playing their hearts out on a random lazy afternoon. It was staggering. Like staring in the face of pure passion; pure inspiration - here is a trio who knows exactly whey they're so far from home in a town they don't know in a magical coffee shop they've never been to - it is for the sake of music! For the love of music!

Check them out for yourselves (or wait..., because I'll be writing about them again soon...) And then move on to Owen's solo work, to the Priest & the Devil and to Sterling Shroeder's page as well.

And get out to the Coffee Bean when you can..., check out their myspace for upcoming shows:

(photos by Megan Lang^)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Recording Updates - Freer and SikSik Nation

SikSik Nation and Freer give updates on their recorded labors over this foul bitch of a winter. Spring is here at last and these are just a couple of many local album releases on the horizon.

First off, show-wise: The Ypsi-Detroit power trio SikSik Nation (Sean Morrow, Rick Sawoscinksi, Eric Oppitz) bring their rhythm-heavy, rollicking-garage-rock to the Lager House, on Saturday, 4/12, while the grooving soul/pop quartet Freer (brothers Jeremy/Jeffrey Freer, Mike Latcha, Nick Von Beulow) play the Elbow Room, that same day. (4/12)

SikSik bassist Eric Oppitz surmises the experience of recording their debut full-length, Eight Styles to the Unholy (out in May):

"We tried hard to maintain our “garage” roots and energy by recording all of the music as a live band. This also helped give the entire record a very organic feel, which turned in to (some planed some not so planed) experimentation and improvisation. There was a lot of pent up evolution that all of us as a band were going through and it all kind of exploded into a barrage of pedal pushing, upbeat, swing your hips psychadelia. We are extremely pleased with the outcome and can not wait to share it with everyone."

Listen at: SikSik's Myspace

Look for their release show on 5/10 with the Questions and Silverghost at the Elbow Room in Ypsi.


Meanwhile, Jeremy Freer discusses the new direction of his band's writing - coming on the heels of an exertive winter tour with SSM and the Von Bondies.

-how does the new material (album tentatively titled On The One) distinguish itself from the first record (Secret Chorus)?

"Alot of the songs on [SECRET CHORUS] were rollercoaster rides. This time we are going for the Merry -Go - Round or the Tilt - A - Whirl. Either you'll have a blissful smile or you'll want to puke when you get off. Not that we are ditching dynamics completely. I'll never get sick of a good rollercoaster ride. There are also alot of warnings on this record to ourselves as well as to others. Demons are fallen angels you know. Robots are getting more advanced. Who are your friends and lovers? Plus just some good old fashion tunes to help us keep going through all of the anger and sadness."

-what's the recording process like and how has that been going? what are the advantages/disadvantages of doing most of the producing/engineering yourself?

"This has been a real learning process because besides for a 4 track I've always paid for a studio to do the "professional" sounding stuff. But I've never really gotten close to what I wanted. And thats not really the engineers fault. I'm just not great at communicating what I want. We like the fact that rise or fall we are trusting our own instincts. We are trying to learn enough to make the songs sound full and immediate without getting so technical to the point of producing the life out of the tracks. We record at various spots. Churches, living rooms, basements, bedrooms etc."

-you've said the soul, the funk and the r&b has really been coming in lately - what's inspired those leanings as of late?

"Those are really our roots. All of our parents raised us on that stuff. Punk Rock and experimental music were a form of rebellion for us. But now it's time to let it all have it's place. We don't wanna copy anything we just want to have a crack at some beats and melodies that we've been wanting to tackle for a second now. We can't help that we're white but we're trying."

-any idea of a release? summer? fall?

"Hopefully Summer. Probably Fall. But we will have some new tracks up on Myspace soon and a single to give away at shows by the spring."

Listen to Freer


If you’re looking for more new tunes (for upcoming local releases) check out the Silent Years.