Category Archives: Interviews

Interviews with Rock and Roll artists

Interview with Jesse Nolan of Caught A Ghost


Six Pack Interview With Jesse Nolan

Jess Nolan of Caught A Ghost
Jesse Nolan of Caught A Ghost

Jesse Nolan is the voice and face of dynamic new artist Caught A Ghost.  The band boasts a refreshing sound that can best be described as a creative cross between Sam Cooke and Fitz and the Tantrums.  Yup, it’s a unique blend, but it really works.

The band is in town Tuesday, November 5th for a show at The Social, where they’ll share the bill with He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister.

RARA’s Farm recently caught up with Jesse and shared a six pack of questions with the likable performer. As you’ll see, he’s got a great, diverse appreciation for rock music, and plenty of quick interesting insights to share.

RARA’s Farm: What was the first album that moved you to want to be in the music business?
Jesse Nolan: Well, I guess I’d have to say Nevermind was the first really huge album in my life, apart from maybe the Michael Jackson records I had when I was a kid. I performed “Bad” for my kindergarten talent show . Ha.
RARA’s Farm: And, your favorite rock album ever?
Jesse Nolan: Revolver, Sticky Fingers,Blonde on Blonde.
(Cretin: Three amazing albums, none of them on my list of greatest albums ever, but can almost guarantee they are all in Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 10 of all-time.)

RARA’s Farm: How about the best concert you have ever seen?
Jesse Nolan: Maybe Bjork at the Hollywood Bowl? I always love seeing Radiohead. I just saw James Blake at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and it was amazing.

RARA’s Farm: Great choices.  Can you think of one band you never saw, but who you’d love to see re-formed to play for one show, dead or alive?
Jesse Nolan: Aside from the obvious, Jimi Hendrix or Bob Marley, I think I’m most saddened that I will never get to see Billie Holiday live. I mean, there are way too many. I want to answer with some pitchforky thing like ‘Pavement in their prime’ but John Coltrane or Fela Kuti would be way more interesting, truthfully.

RARA’s Farm: Shifting to your own live experiences, which venue has been your favorite place to play?
Jesse Nolan: Hard to say. We just played the El Rey in Los Angeles, which I love, and the Independent in San Francisco, which were both great. I’d have to say my favorite show I’ve ever played, though, was the Cosmic Prom: an event Tessa and I threw in LA in a projection dome. So fun.

RARA’s Farm: So, your music is featured in a Boardwalk Empire episode, is that important to you?
Jesse Nolan: I love Boardwalk Empire, so yes. We’ve had a bunch of songs on TV at this point but that one was special to me. Steve Buscemi is my spirit animal.

RARA’s Farm: What’s next for Caught A Ghost as far as your Spring 2014 full-length release?
Jesse Nolan: Well we’ll put the record out early next year and then tour a ton next year. We are pumped. Feels great to be on the road right now. People really love music and it renews your faith in life to connect with them. I’ve had some hilarious and touching exchanges this far.

Check out a great live clip of the band performing Sleeping At Night and then grab it on iTunes below!

Rock On!


Four Nights Gone Six Pack Interview


Four Nights Gone Logo

Four Nights Gone’s Alex Basovskiy Six Pack Interview

Four Nights Gone formed in Staten Island, New York in the summer of 2010, and have built an avid local fan base, and they continue to gain more followers across the rock music universe on the heels of the release of Resilience, their new EP.  They’re hard rockers, influenced by bands such as Breaking Benjamin, Thrice and Chevelle, now working on their second full length.  RARA’s Farm recently shared a quick six pack of questions and got a chance to get to know bassist Alex Basovskiy a little bit better.

RARA’s Farm: What was the first album that moved you to want to be in the music business?
Alex Basovskiy: Second Stage Turbine Blade by Coheed and Cambria

RARA’s Farm: Who are your greatest influences?
Alex Basovskiy: I’d have to say everyone from Glassjaw to Miles Davis, Radiohead and Thrice.

RARA’s Farm: Which venue has benn your favorite place to play?
Alex Basovskiy: The Ottobar in Baltimore. We only played there once, but it was a good show and the venue has a great sound system.

RARA’s Farm: Best concert you have ever seen?
Alex Basovskiy: One of the best concerts I’ve been to would be Circa Survive, Touche Amore, O’Brother, and Balance and Composure at Terminal 5. I also recently saw Emery at Webster Hall Studio, and they were phenomenal.

RARA’s Farm: Favorite rock album ever?
Alex Basovskiy: It’s tough to pick but I’m going to have to go with Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy (See RARA’s Farm’s listing of the best Zeppelin albums ever to see where we ranked Houses of the Holy)

RARA’s Farm: One band you never saw, who you’d love to see re-formed to play for one show (dead or alive)?
Alex Basovskiy: I know it’s a bit of a cliche but I’m going to have to go with The Beatles.

Thanks  to Rebeccah Milburn for her help pulling this together.

Later,
Mike G


RARA’s Six Pack Interview with Kendall Meade


Anders & Kendall Tour

Anders Parker and Kendall Meade are offering an incredibly intimate East Coast tour including a handful of even more quaint house shows along the way.  Check it out here: East Coast Tour Dates, and check out our interview with Kendall to help get you ready.

Kendall Meade Interview

Talented Singer-songwriter Kendall Meade, well-known for her band Mascott, has collaborated with acclaimed solo artist Anders Parker for an infectious new indie rock album, Wild Chorus.  The duo will release their first collaborative effort on February 19th.  Wild Chorus is a captivating acoustic record whose first single “We’re On Fire, Babe” is pretty swoonworthy. It’s a nice debut effort from two familiar artists and as you’ll read, a promising sign of things to come.

We caught up with Meade and shared a RARA’s six pack of questions.  So grab your favorite beverage and check out a few words with the engaging singer from New York.

RARA’s Farm: I know that the two of you were occasional collaborators in the past, how did it work with the two of you collaborating so closely on the entire album?

Kendall Meade: It worked surprisingly well. Either we both brought individual ideas to the table and helped each other flesh them out or Anders would start strumming on a riff and I’d encourage him to keep going with it while I worked out a melody. We worked really hard to get to a place where we both loved all of the songs. We recorded 14 total and only 11 ended up on the album. It was so hard to choose!

RARA’s Farm: You and Anders complement each other’s voices so well – why didn’t this album happen earlier?

Kendall Meade: We’ve always talked about it, but it took awhile for us to get serious and come up with an actual writing plan. When the time was right, we just went for it. We mainly wrote on weekends. I’d fly to Vermont or Anders would come down to New York. He’s a talented guitar player. He’s got such a gift for writing riffs and creating cool arrangements. I’m also a huge fan of his voice. Always have been.

RARA’s Farm: Is this a one-time effort for the two of you?

Kendall Meade: No, we’re so excited to make another record! I hope we can do it sooner than later.

RARA’s Farm: You named the album Wild Chorus after Scott Minor’s studio, was he a big contributor to the way the album evolved?

Kendall Meade: Yes! His honest, gut opinions and way he precisely shaped the sounds on each song was really amazing. He cares so much about what he does, and worked so hard to help us get everything done…and done well. Also, I just like being around him.

RARA’s Farm: Who were your influences?

Kendall Meade: I love Richard and Linda Thompson. I love Fairport Convention. We listened to everything from Bobby Charles to the Zombies when we were driving down to Knoxville to record.

RARA’s Farm: If you could collaborate with any artist on future effort, who would be your dream paring?

Kendall Meade: I’ll head to Jamaica and record with any living Marley. Or I’d love head to my hometown and record in Detroit with Rodriguez.

Look for the new album, Wild Chorus, from Anders & Kendall, available on Tuesday, February 19th.

 

RARA’s Six Pack with Brooke Annibale


Brooke Annibale Interview

Singer-songwriter Brooke Annibale is set to release her new EP, Words In Your Eyes, on February 5, 2013. Annibale, a Pittsburgh native with a fantastic voice has relocated to Nashville and is offering up six new tracks on this follow-up to her 2011 full-length release, Silence Worth Breaking.

Brooke_082 (640x283)

We caught up with Brooke on the eve of her release and shared a six pack, RARA’s style. Here’s the RARA’s Six Pack with Brooke Annibale:

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RARA’s Farm: How has the move to Nashville helped you develop as an artist?

Brooke Annibale: I think Nashville has been really good for me. I went to college here and met a lot of people I still work with in music now. I’ve also been able to discover so many other artists that I may not have if i wasn’t following the scene here. There are just so many resources here for an independent musician. It’s a community where everyone is always being creative in someway, and that is really inspiring. It definitely pushes me to try and be better at what I do.

RARA’s Farm: You’ve received accolades both for your writing and your performing, which mean the most to you?
Brooke Annibale: Probably writing, since that’s really what got me started in music. I started writing lyrics before anything else.  I think that writing a good song is what is most important and rewarding to me. Of course I love when the song really gets to come to life in front of an audience though!

RARA’s Farm: What’s your favorite place to play live?
Brooke Annibale: Well, I always enjoy playing in my hometown, Pittsburgh and Club Cafe is a great spot for a singer-songwriter. I just got back from something called 30A Songwriters Festival in Florida (on the Panhandle). It is definitely up there on my list of favorite places to play.

RARA’s Farm: Being from Pittsburgh, is Primanti Brothers really that good?
Brooke Annibale: Haha! I’ve honesty only been to Primanti’s a handful of times in my life. But yeah, it is pretty good.

RARA’s Farm: I’ve seen you compared to Natalie Merchant? Was she an influence? Who has been?
Brooke Annibale: I was definitely really flattered to get that comparison, though I feel its more of a vocal rather than a genre/style comparison. I’ve had a lot of different influences and I always find that to be a hard question to answer, especially cause I’m not sure that who influences me actually shines through in my music all the time. I’ve always really liked artists like Brandi Carlile, The Swell Season…etc. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Kathleen Edwards, and I can definitely tell her music has had an impact on my writing a bit.

RARA’s Farm: What’s next for Brooke Annibale?
Brooke Annibale: I’ve got my new EP coming out on February 5. It’s entitled Words In Your Eyes, and features 6 new songs I worked on over the past year. Now I’m trying to write and record more, and get out on the road a bit too.

RARA’sFarm: Keep your eye out for Brooke’s new album, Words In Your Eyes, available on iTunes via the link below or at her website: brookeannibale.com

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RARA’s Six Pack with David Uosikkinen

iTunes, App Store, iBookstore, and Mac App Store

On Tuesday, October 2nd David Uosikkinen’s In The Pocket will rock the World Cafe Live. They’ll be featuring the release of their spin on The Trammps disco classic “Disco Inferno,” the sixth song from In The Pocket: Essential Songs of Philadelphia.

Uosikkinen, the charismatic drummer from The Hooters, is back with an all-star cast of Philadelphia rock legends. We sat down recently with him and shared a six pack, Rock And Roll Animal style. Here’s his RARA’s Six Pack:

Cretin: Growing up, you played in a band called The Kooks – Are you familiar with the current band with the same name.
Uosikkinen: I know the band. What I’ve heard I really liked. My band, The Kooks was in high school where we weren’t writing songs, we were covering songs. I think the name is great; it looks cool in print. Two “O’s” just like The Hooters.

Cretin: What was your all-time favorite venue to play in Philly?
Uosikkinen: I’ve got a soft spot for The Bijou Cafe – it was a really famous place; Electric Factory Concerts used to book shows there.  We played there once when there was a bomb scare and wrote a song about it called “Bombscare.” It was my favorite place to play back in the day.

Cretin: Favorite cover song?
Uosikkinen: I think it would have to be “Friday On My Mind” by David Bowie. Great Song

Cretin: I saw you open the show at Live Aid. Was that the most exciting momoent for you on stage?
Uosikkinen: Right before I sat down at my drums Jack Nicholson came out and shook my hand. I have to say that was pretty cool.

Cretin: How old were you before you learned how to spell “Uosikkinen”?
Uosikkinen: (Laughs heartily) My last name was such a challenge going through school, you have no idea. It was okay going through elementary school because you had one teacher, but when you started going into Jr. High School, with seven different teachers, every one butchered it. It got to the point where I made up versions of my name. I’d change the spelling, I’d shorten it, and say Dave Oskin. Back then it was impossible for people to say, now it’s a lot more common to hear different sounding names.

Cretin: Any food you missed when you left Philly and moved to Los Angeles for a few years?
Uosikkinen:Cheese steaks. No question.

If you enjoyed this quick chat with David, check out our full length interview from earlier this year: David Uosikkinen Chats About Philly Rock

Links:

Rock On – Cretin

The Drowning Men’s Nato Bardeen Interview

GTR Store

Nato Bardeen is the talented front man and distinctive voice of The Drowning Men, one of today’s best new bands.  I recently had a chance to catch up with him from his hometown of Oceanside, CA before the band embarks on the next leg of their tour supporting their new release All of the Unknown.

Cretin: Being from Oceanside, California, what’s the local music scene?

Bardeen: We beat the hell out of San Diego for the first three years. Played all the local bars and small clubs and did that for a bit before we started touring. We were just a local band, then we got to LA and played the Long Beach area, then the Northwest thing, Portland and Seattle and the West Coast. As for the scene, I don’t really know what the scene was; we just do what we do and go out and do our thing.

Cretin: Today’s rock is dominated by one man bands, where it’s a talented singer on keyboards and a drum machine, playing cute poppy rock – you guys have taken a different approach?

Bardeen: I’m a fan, but not a big fan, of the two piece band thing. I like a big band and that full sound. I’ve known (Rory) and (Todd) since we were kids and we’ve played together for years, and I’ve always liked bands with four or five guys.

Cretin: It makes a difference both live and on the album. You can tell that it’s a collaborative group effort, not just dominated by one person (Bardeen writes all of the music).

Bardeen: I’ll write the song and bring it to the boys and throw out hints. I’m more of a melody guy, I’m not really good with drums or bass. I kind of let them figure it out on their own.  We’ve played together so long, I already know what Rory’s going to do without even telling him. I just know the way he plays. The same thing with Todd and just us as a band. I pretty much know what everyone is capable of and their unique touch on the songs. James (guitar) and Gabe (keyboards) and I discuss the melodies and harmonies.

Cretin: When I saw the band live, it seemed like the pieces  fit together extremely well, and Rory on drums just seems to accompany you perfectly.

Bardeen: Honestly, in the last four months, I realized how Rory and I complement each other. His drum playing is straight in the pocket, really loud and it just fits our music perfectly. I really agree with you, he and I have something cool together.

Cretin: Going into the show, knowing that you wrote all of the music, I didn’t really expect to see the five of you so tight. But you guys seem so cohesive.  Kind of sucks that the Orlando crowd didn’t really show up, though.

Bardeen: We’re still young. We’re a young travelling band. We don’t expect much.  We’ve toured with some great bands and traveled nationally and opened up in front of thousands of people, but we know we’re young. We haven’t won that many people over yet, and hopefully we will. If not, we don’t and that’s just how it goes. But, it would be nice to go out and play our own shows outside of Southern California and get some really cool crowds.

Cretin: Tell me about the second leg of the tour that you’re about to embark on?

Bardeen: We’re main support for Cheap Girls for a short leg. After that we’ll be doing main support for Bad Books II which is the side project for a few of the guys from Manchester Orchestra. (As of this time, there are no dates in Florida)

Cretin: Last year you supported Flogging Molly. You ended up being one of the fist bands they signed to their new label Borstal Beat Records. What was that experience like?

Bardeen: When we did that tour, it was our first legit national tour as an opening act playing in front of thousands of people. They were rad. They fell in love with us; liked our live sound and our music, and had our Beheading of the Songbird album and they loved it. We knew they were putting out their own label and on tour we started talking about signing with them. We were like “Yeah,” and it worked out great.

Cretin: Let me ask a question back to Beheading of the Songbird, and the title track which I feel is just a great song.  On your recent co-headlining tour, you didn’t play it. Is there any reason?

Bardeen: We played it more than a handful of times earlier on tour. We love it and I’ve actually been thinking about bringing it back into the set, so it’s not dead. We really like playing it, but it is a real long song and in a 30 or 45 minute set it cuts into what we can do.

Cretin: Any backlash due to the nature of the lyrics?

Bardeen: No. We just had other newer songs that we’ve been working on and are excited to play. We’ve been playing those Songbird songs for a long time now.

Cretin: So, how has the reception been for the new songs?

Bardeen: Good, really good.  Some songs people like more than others, which is totally natural. Some people miss some of the old stuff which is something we need to deal with. We need to put together a good set, try to create a cool mood or weird mood or whatever mood we’re trying to put out. But the response for the new stuff has been surprisingly cool.

Cretin: Who were some of your influences?

Bardeen: I was a lifetime Smiths fan. Ever since I first heard Morrissey and The Smiths in Junior High School. (Their music) just hit me and I’ve always been a fan. I’m also a huge  fan of Tom Waits, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Leonard Cohen and The Pogues. I like the moody crooners.

Cretin: Some dark stuff there, and definitely some great songwriters.

Bardeen: That’s what makes me move and that’s the music I like to listen to. I think the lyrics are beautiful, the lyrics fit with the music, the music fits with the lyrics, the melody, the vocals. It’s the perfect fit for me. Those guys do it well, My goal is to always make it fit and whether I do that or not I’ll never really know, but that is my ultimate goal; to make the melody, the vocals and the strain of the vocals fit the strain of the guitar, so everything is one piece that works.

Cretin: That’s cool. So, let me ask a bit about your background.  The night I saw you, you played guitar, keyboards, mandolin, melodica and sang lead vocals on every song.  What’s your musical background?

Bardeen: I would say I’m unschooled. I picked up a guitar when I was eighteen and I picked it up pretty fast.  I loved it and it immediately became my passion.  I also have a huge love for traditional Irish Folk music, and that made me want to learn the mandolin, the fife and banjo and a bunch of other things. Right now, I can get by on 14 or 15 different instruments, anything like the piano, mandolin, suzuki, banjo – anything with strings pretty much. I love to learn new instruments, I love playing them, I love writing on them, I love just jamming out with people to different styles. I started at eighteen and lord willing I can do it the rest of my life, and hopefully when I die I’ll be able to play one hundred.

Cretin: On All of the Unknown, it seems as though you’ve taken your vocals to a new level from where they were on Beheading of the Songbird.  Have you seen yourself grow as a vocalist?

Bardeen: I have, and I’m loving it.  When we did the Beheading album, we weren’t playing out as much, but after touring more and more and singing every night, I was really hurting my voice, so I had to learn how to sing better. On the Beheading album, I was yelling.  I still yell now, but I’ve learned how to yell better. And, I’m enjoying it because I’ve always wanted to be a better singer. I always want to sing with passion, but I’m learning to control my breath a little bit more both live and on track.

Cretin: It’s nice getting to listen to that evolution.

Bardeen: I’ve definitely noticed the maturity in my vocals and I’m very excited about it.  I’ve never been confident about my vocals.  I know I can sing, I just had to work on it, do breathing exercises and learn how to control it. I’ve been happy with it. I hope I can always sing and I look forward to twenty years from now what I sound like.

The Drowning Men Tour Dates

David Uosikkinen Chats about Philly Rock and Roll

David Uosikkinen is Philadelphia Rock and Roll.

He burst onto the city and national music scenes as the powerful drummer for Philly’s most successful rock export, The Hooters. Growing up a Philly kid, he’s always remembered his rock roots and is prominently back on the local scene with his new project In the Pocket, Essential Songs of Philadelphia. The project features classic Philly rockers uniting to cover gems from the city’s musical history.

We recently had a chance to spend a bit of time with the generous and effervescent musician.


Cretin: Growing up in the Philadelphia area, how did you get your first exposure to the Philadelphia rock music scene?

Uosikkinen:  There were some local TV shows,  one from Willow Grove Park where they used to show bands that played there.  I saw Sweet Stavin Chain. Woody’s Truck Shop, Todd Rundgren was in that band. The American Dream, they were another great band. Todd Rundgren had the band Nazz and  In the Pocket  covered “Open My Eyes.” There were great, great Philly bands. Then in the Seventies, you had bands like Edison Electric, Good God, Mandrake Memorial, bands like that. They had great musicians coming out of this city and really cool bands that I paid attention to.

Cretin: I’ve only heard of a few of those bands. Your knowledge of the city’s rock history is impressive.

Uosikkinen: Well, if you get a chance look them up. With the internet, you can probably learn about a lot of them. There’s some great stuff on Nazz are out there and there’s probably stuff about Mandrake Memorial and of course, there’s Richie and Charlie’s band The Soul Survivors; they had that great hit with “Expressway,” Woody’s Truck Stop, The American Dream… The American Dream had a big influence on me. I loved the song “I Ain’t Searchin.” They had a song “You Can’t Get To Heaven on the Frankford El,” which became the bridge on The Hooters “Beat Up Guitar.”

Cretin: That’s a cool tribute.

Uosikkinen : We took that from a line that Nick Jameson (from The American Dream) wrote. They had a big influence on Eric Bazilian and me. Nick is still a very good friend today, and he actually produced The Hooters’ Five by Five EP.

Cretin: So when you guys started playing together in the Eighties, you adopted a bit of a ska flavor. Where did that come from?

Uosikkinen: Well the ska influence really came from what was happening with the second wave of the British Invasion. The Clash were integrating their punk thing with reggae and dubbed out kind of music and I really dug that. Selector, The Specials, and The Police were doing that kind of stuff. And, Rob Hyman spent a lot of time in Jamaica, and we dug Bob Marley. So we incorporated those kind of vibes and rhythms into the music we were writing at that time.

Cretin: Were there any Philly influences from that era?

Uosikkinen: There was a reggae band out of Philly called House of Assembly that I paid attention to.  For us in the late 70’s, the one band that broke out of Philly and got signed to a record deal, who I admired were The A’s. That was Richard Bush and Rick DiFonzo.  They got signed to Arista and they were kind of breaking out, if you will. They didn’t have mainstream success, but to me, they were freakin rock stars.

Cretin: And now, Richard sings with you on this project.

Uosikkinen: Yeah, Richard sings every show with In The Pocket, and he sang on the first single “All My Monday’s” which was a song we did with Youth Camp, a band led by Joey Wilson, who I first saw on Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert back in 1980. He was another one who got signed, he was working on trying to break out. It never really happened for Joey as a performer, but he wrote some great songs, including one that Madonna performed.

Cretin: When I first heard that your band was going to cover “Change Reaction,” my first thought was that Richard Bush would be a great choice to take the vocals.

Uosikkinen: The guy that sang on this version of Change Reaction is a Philly guy, Ben Arnold.  The line-up I have on “Change Reaction” is Ben Arnold singing, he’s actually touring in Europe right now, but will be back for our show in March; Steve Butler who played in a band called Smash Palace and Quincy, he plays guitar; John Lilly who plays in The Hooters also played in Robert Hazard and the Heroes plays guitar; and Bill Whitman, who is not a Philadelphia guy, but he’s engineered a lot of bands out of Philly he played bass; Rob Hyman plays keyboards and of course, I played drums.

Cretin: Looking forward to hearing this single. I loved the original; in fact I have the 45 in my jukebox today.

Uosikkinen: Well, we took some liberties with it.  I loved the eighties, but this is 2012. I really wanted to deliver a version of the Robert Hazard song with a 2012 twist. You will definitely recognize the song, but we changed the key and kind of took a few liberties with a couple of rhythmic lines. I’m really pleased with it and Bill Eib who managed Robert Hazard was really pleased.  He thought Robert would really have loved it.

Cretin: When Robert played cover songs he always put his own touch on them, too.

Uosikkenin: Yeah, exactly.  Robert was an amazing guy. He was really, really good.

Cretin: So looking back at the early eighties, was it a competition between The Hooters, Robert Hazard, The A’s and Beru Revue, or was it more of a brotherhood.

Uosikkinen: Back in the eighties, I think it was somewhat competitive.  We were all friends and we were all very cordial, but I think everybody was trying to get ahead. To break out of Philadelphia, so close to New York City, it was a challenge. We always had a challenge of building a fan base, and it was almost as if some of the hard core fans picked sides back then.

Cretin: For sure.

Uosikkinen: But, I think it was a healthy competitive thing.  Interestingly enough, from Hazard’s band, Rob Miller joined The Hooters and then John (Lilley) joined to play guitar; and they both played with Hazard. And, we were all such big fans of The A’s. They were playing a lot of gigs as part of that pop-punk thing which we all dug.  Their audience was exciting; the audience was as great to watch as the band.

Cretin: And, now we get a chance to see all of those guys on the same stage.

Uosikkinen: They’ve all become good friends to me.  That was the thing for me about doing In The Pocket – I had an opportunity to work with them in this capacity, and I thought “why not do a project where I can record songs of bands I really dug?” I mean who makes the rules for these kinds of things? I called Richard and he was like “Yeah, I like to sing.” I called Greg Davis from Beru Revue he said “Yeah, I love to play guitar.” Everyone I’ve asked to do it has come around to do it. Eric (Bazilian) who lives in Sweden these days; when he comes to town, he plays. It’s been a great experience for me because everybody I’ve asked has wanted to do it.

Cretin: I wish I was still in that area. These shows sound great.

Uosikkinen: The shows are awesome. If you go t my Facebook page, there’s a quick little clip of Tommy Conwell and TJ (Tindall of Edison Electric) playing “Work Out.” It’s rockin’ man. It’s TJ, Tommy and Greg Davis playing, it’s ripping.

Cretin: Greg Davis is a great guitarist.

Uosikkinen: He’s a monster guitarist. He can play anything. He’s incredible. And, he’s a nice guy, too.

Cretin: You moved to Southern California for awhile.  What drew you back to Philly?

Uosikkinen: I lived there for 20 years, and as life would have it… My marriage was dissolving and I was spending a lot of time in Philadelphia and I met somebody and that relationship got better and better, and she was in Philadelphia, so here I am.

Cretin: So it was love, and I thought you were going to say that you missed the old Philly music scene?

Uosikkinen: I did. That was part of it.  It was comfortable for me to come back to Philadelphia because a lot of my friends are here. I had a relationship, as well and that made things a little easier.

Cretin: Can you share the connection with Settlement Music School? Where did that originate?

Uosikkinen: The connection there came from Dallyn Davey. I knew about Settlement Music School, but she’s the one who told me to check out what they were doing.  In today’s economy, schools and programs that support the Arts are one of the first things to get cut. And we liked the things they do that allow people to study music, without requiring auditions, they help with money to get to the school, and they introduce people to the arts. We bring attention to the school and donate a portion of the proceeds and we think it’s an amazing organization.

Cretin: What is Dallyn’s role?

Uosikkinen: Dallyn is one of my  partners in organizing the project, and she is my girlfriend, by the way.  Also, I should mention Steve Acito who does all the documentaries and videos for In The Pocket. Steve has a big part in the whole visual side of In The Pocket, and Dallyn basically manages the project. We brainstorm and all three of us help implement all the pieces. So far, it’s been working really well. It’s been good.

Cretin: So, back to “Change Reaction,” why that Hazard song for this release.

Uosikkinen: “Change Reaction” was always one that really popped for me. I loved the riff. When we were tracking it I realized it sounded like an old song by The Outsiders, “Time Won’t Let Me” that I always dug that. It had this cool riff. To me, it was really this clever pop song that Hazard had wrote. He had a lot of great songs, but when I narrowed it down to song that I wanted to do, that is the one I had the most connection with.

Cretin: So, what”s next for In The Pocket?

Uosikkinen: I’m not sure what will be next. We had some great punk bands out of Philly: The Stickmen, The Dead Milkmen; and we had the whole Philly International thing, I was a big fan of the song “Back Stabbers;” and I don’t have any chicks on the project. It’s not necessarily a song that a girl sang in the beginning, but maybe the next record has a girl singing a song that a guy sang, and I always wanted to do an A’s song, too. Also, I’m a big fan of Tommy Conwell. I don’t know what will be next, but their definitely in my queue.

Cretin: Any parting thoughts on In The Pocket?

Uosikkinen: We’ve got our show on March 13th (at World Cafe Live). If people go to SongsInThePocket.org, there’s five songs, they’re 99 cents each. Download them and check out the videos. And, I’m just thrilled to keep the project going, and I appreciate all of the support.

Links:

Check back with us in a few weeks for our quick and casual RARA’s six-pack with David, or follow us on Twiiter to make sure you don’t miss it:


Rock On – Cretin

Fred LeBlanc Interview, Part 2


We continue with our conversation with Cowboy Mouth founder and front man, Fred LeBlanc.

You can read Part 1 of the Interview here: Cowboy Mouth’s Fred LeBlanc

Cretin: The first time I heard about the band, my brother told me about the show and how unique it was with the drummer front and center on the stage.  He said it worked, and obviously he was right.

Fred LeBlanc:  It’s something I always knew about myself.  I had a certain vision for the way I saw myself and the things I could do.  There are certain things I’ve had to adjust to make the whole drummer/front man thing work. I sit on a riser, so I’m not taller than anybody, but I’m not shorter either. I play with only one symbol and a small drum kit so people can see me.  There’s more of an eye contact approach, and that really works.

Cretin: Sure, that helps build that connection you have with the crowd.

Fred LeBlanc: Exactly. And, it also let’s me set the tone and pace of the show. If I feel something isn’t right, I can change it right away, or if the energy gets intense, I might speed up a little, but hey, it’s rock and roll, ya know?

Cretin: It’s more fluid, and your shows are definitely fluid.

Fred LeBlanc: All of the best rock and roll moves in and out, in and out. These days when you listen to radio, everything is so perfect. There’s no swing to it. Put on headphones sometime and listen to Sticky Fingers or Beggars Banquet from the Stones. It’s a mess, guitars are out of tune, drums speed up and slow down but you know what? It works, because it’s human. It moves, it interacts with itself. It’s an organic beast.

Cretin: You’re right. It was raw passionate stuff, whereas a lot of today’s stuff is over-produced, and devoid of passion.

Fred LeBlanc: Yeah. I’m not one to say that all music needs to be recorded on one microphone through a Victorolla.  I use pro tools, too.  It’s the standard, but at the same time you have to remember to master the machine and not have the machine be your master. I try to communicate an idea, an emotion, so that the listener experiences those same things. With music, a straight line is not always the shortest path.

Cretin: You and John Thomas Griffith have been together for all fifteen years, how did that pairing come about?

Fred LeBlanc: It’s funny, because I started Cowboy Mouth with two other musicians and we had rehearsed for two months, and it was just terrible. I was about to give up. Nothing was clicking at all. Nothing against the other musicians; we just weren’t compatible. I got the idea to call Griff in and gave him a couple of songs and he learned them fast. Literally, within three seconds we went from really sucking as a three-piece to really being great as a four-piece. It was really that instantaneous. It was one of the wildest moments of my life. I was like “Did everybody else hear that?”

Cretin: Good stuff.

Fred LeBlanc: I love playing with Griff. Lord knows we’ve had our ups and downs over the years. I’m sure as much as we both love each other, there are just as many times we drive either other nuts and want to kill each other. That’s just the nature of bands. He and I, we play well together. We both play with a lot of force. We’re the same kind of players, which is really good. The band that we have now with Cass and Matt is one of the strongest we’ve ever had. We’ve never had a bad version of this band, thankfully.

Cretin: What’s next for the band? We’ve heard rumors of another studio album being close to fruition.

Fred LeBlanc: I’m almost finished it. I have a studio here at the house and have almost all of the tracks done, and I just need to tweak it a bit and hope to have it out in the next month and a half. You’ll have to check out our website and Facebook page to see how we do it; we’re going to try something a little different this time.

Cretin: Sounds interesting. We’ll keep an ear out for it.

RARA’s Six-Pack. Six fun, mindless questions

You’re favorite Saints player ever ? Man, that’s like choosing your favorite child. I’d have to say Steve Gleason. He was always this happy get back to the earth guy, who sort of stumbled into football. A really cool guy. The first year after Katrina, the Saints made a great run. Cowboy Mouth had played outside the stadium before the first game of the season, and I was predicting we’d go to the Super Bowl. Early in the game he blocked a punt and I always say it was that moment the Saints fortunes turned around.

He’s a great guy and he’s been diagnosed with ALS. He’s started a foundation that people should look up, and give to, if they possibly could. (Editor: check it out here: Steve Gleason Foundation)

Your favorite city to play in? New Orleans. I’m biased, what can I say?

Favorite Cover Song: A band out of Athens called Five-Eight. They did a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “I Can’t Stand It.” They’re great and they’ve been around as long as we have. Their lead singer, Mike (Mantione) has one of the most under-heard voices in rock. He’s an insanely talented guy, and they’re a great band.

If you could share the stage with any one band, past or present? The Clash or Lee Dorsey.  That would be fun. (we proceeded to have a long conversation on The Clash, and both clearly agree they’re one of the greatest rock bands EVER)

Favorite local bar in New Orleans? I’m a big fan of Carrollton Station. Great vibe in a good little neighborhood, it’s easy. That’s my favorite place. It’s not a typical New Orleans bar, it’s away from The French Quarter. There’s places like Le Bon Temps Roule which is a good bar. The Balcony Bar is great, too.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever signed after a show? An infant. I signed his forehead “Trouble maker.”

Rock On (Are You With Me Edition) – Cretin