A Conversation with Pete David of the Payroll Union

 

In the three years that Now This Sound Is Brave has been going, I have come to think of some of the bands we cover as “my bands” – bands who have struck a singular chord with me and whom I have continued cover, excited to share news of their movements. If I had to rank “my bands” based on which ones hold the biggest place in my heart and spend the most time on my personal listening turntable, the Payroll Union would likely top that list. We’ve been covering the band since spring of 2011, and this year has been the most exciting in our shared history with the band yet.

 

 

This year has seen them touring the UK, beginning an exciting collaboration with historian Andrew Heath, and, best of all, releasing their first full-length album, The Mule & The Elephant . TM&TE is a more somber outing than previous Payroll Union releases – though more in sound than lyrical content as they continue to focus on the hard and bloody stories of early American history – but it is the most rewarding one so far.

As Dr. Heath expounds … Continue reading

The Far West, Bitter Drunk and Cold

NTSIBbers, if you haven’t already had the pleasure, please meet The Far West: Lee Briante (lead vocals / guitar), Robert Black (bass), Erik Kristiansen (pedal steel), Alan F. Rogers (drums) and Brian Bachman (guitar).

Collectively veterans of music scenes in places like Texas (all of it), New York (upstate and the lower East Side), Massachusetts (Boston and western Mass), Louisiana, the Gulf Coast (all of it), Alabama, and Sweden, they came together as a band in Los Angeles, CA early in 2010.

Their first record, Bitter Drunk and Cold, was recorded in less than a week at the American Legion Post 416 in Encinitas, California with the help of engineer/ producer Colin McLean, and released in 2011.

I was hooked from the first song – which happens to be the title track – and spent a week or two carrying it around with me in order to appreciate it properly. It’s good walking and thinking music; by which I mean, I would put it on as I was headed home after work and the next thing I knew 20 … Continue reading

Introducing: Chris Marshall

Chris Marshall is from Portland, Oregon. As the son of a preacher that founded his own church, Marshall grew up with religion at home and even played and led the church’s music.  Then, after several years of floating around the indie music scene, Marshall gave himself an ultimatum: make a record before you turn 30. With help from bassist Allen Hunter (The Eels), drummer Ezra Holbrook (The Decemberists), and pedal steel player Paul Brainard (Richmond Fontaine), he made it just under the wire, releasing August Light in 2010, at age 29.

The record has a strong country core with ribbons of western swirling through the bottom and indie-rock grace notes on the top. It’s a complex and fascinating mix, and after a couple of listens I decided I wanted to know more about the man behind the sound. Here’s what I asked, and what I found out:

 

What were you doing, musically, before you decided it was time to fish or cut bait, as it were, and make a solo record? Did you jump directly from church music … Continue reading

The Bell

Band members (from left to right): Nicklas, Mathias, Jan. Photo  courtesy of Bad Man Recording Co.

The Bell are Nicklas Nilsson, Mathias Stromberg and Jan Petterson, from Malmö and Stockholm, Sweden. Last month they released Great Heat, their second record, which they put together with a great deal  of help from modern technology. I carried it around with me on my iPod for a week or so, and then, intrigued by their beats, made use of technology myself, and had an email chat with Mathias and his bandmates:

Mathias, I see that you sing, but which instruments do the rest of the band play?

Jan and Nicklas play all instruments, but write most of the songs on guitar and keyboard/piano. They fiddle with the computers and then we record vocals (all of us even though I do lead) and produce/mix everything together the three of us.

 

Why did you name the band The Bell?

There really is no specific answer to this question, it springs from a lot of things. From “For Whom The Bell Tolls” … Continue reading

Get More Gritty: Again and Again

Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Again and Again, of Seattle, who I learned about from Twitter. After I had poked around their website a little bit and listened to a couple of songs, I was intrigued and wanted to know more. After getting past some technical difficulties, drummer XwesX (Wes Keely) (center) and I had the following email chat:

 

Who was in which band, previously, and how did you get together to form Again and Again? And who does what in Again and Again – did anyone switch roles (or instruments) from previous bands?

OK, well, to start this off, Dutch VI (above left) plays guitar, Geoffrey C Walker (above right) sings, and I play drums. We had a few other members over the years, but at the current moment this is the core group, and we have a few fill in bass players that go out on tour with us from time to time. Geoffrey used to sing in the Victory Records band called On The Last Day based out of Seattle, … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Love Crushed Velvet

 

We are crazy with the interviews here all of sudden. Today, Jennifer talks to A.L.X., singer of Love Crushed Velvet.

IMG_7623A.L.X. and Love Crushed Velvet at Crash Mansion

Love Crushed Velvet, last seen on NTSIB participating in the Beatles Complete on the Ukulele event, will be putting out a new record in the middle of April. Recently, I sat down with lead singer A.L.X. to discuss a variety of musical topics:

During the Beatles Complete on the Ukulele event I thought I heard someone say you were from Austria. That’s since been cleared up – you were born in East Germany and later moved to the United States – but in the process of straightening that out, you dropped a tantalizing reference to having briefly been a cult celebrity in Austria. What was that all about, because it sounds like a good story.

It was one of those weird things about being in the right place in the right time. I ended up living there back in the ’90s – I was actually a student at the time.  Even though I was born in … Continue reading

Patrick Sweany: Let ‘Forward’ Be My Credo

Patrick Sweany

Patrick Sweany

Listening to Patrick Sweany’s albums is like reading his life. In between and over top of melodies that are sometimes sweet and sometimes rough, deftly finger-picked on acoustic and electric guitar, Sweany uses the full range of his rich baritone to sing of everything from the rigors of touring to the most painful complications of love. He doesn’t pull many punches, laying out his struggles and fears with his career and his personal life under a lens that looks as unflinchingly at himself as it does at anyone else. His voice, sometimes soft as a hand brushed against a loved one’s skin, sometimes as harshly ragged as a rusted-out muffler dragged down miles of dusty backroads, reflects the truth of every word.

Drawing on influences from Mississippi blues to classic soul to New Orleans R&B; to classic country & western to protest folk to rock of all stripes to a wealth of other styles and sounds that he has avidly devoured since his childhood, Sweany has steadily, industriously been carving out a career for over a decade, producing five albums to date (with one, C’mon C’mere, … Continue reading