Wednesday, December 07, 2011
The founding father of heavy metal pretty much lied to me. Despite being a kindly English gentleman overall, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi tried to deny one important question, for understandable business reasons. It happens, and the LEO music department has certainly dealt with worse through the years — and where would heavy metal be without a bit of mischief? His new memoir is “Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell With Black Sabbath” (Da Capo, $26, 416 pages).
LEO: How are you enjoying your new life as an author?
Tony Iommi: It’s different. Yeah, very.
LEO: Has it given you any new understanding into your life?
TI: It has, yeah. I’ll tell you, it’s certainly given me a shock — when you see in print the things that went on in your days … (laughs)
LEO: Do you think it’s worth it?
TI: I’ve never really done anything about my private life — that was the hard thing for me. I’ve always talked about the band, about Sabbath, for 40 years. To talk about your private life’s a little bit different.
LEO: Have you set anyone’s beard on fire recently?
TI: (laughs) No, I’ve stopped that now. Those days are gone. Yeah, that was in my silly younger days.
LEO: Is there nothing you do now that falls in the category of “silly”?
TI: I still play a bit. I can’t help it — it’s embedded in my psyche. I’m always pulling pranks on people and joking around. What’s life all about? You’ve got to have a bit of fun.
LEO: What is it about the temperament of a musician that keeps them from settling down like the rest of society?
TI: Well, I do do what everybody else does. I’ve settled down, but I do something else as well. When I’m at work, playing, it’s a slightly different life, but when I’m home, I’m like everybody else — I watch movies, go out to dinners and see my friends, and walk, and do whatever it is you do.
LEO: I interviewed Henry Rollins today, and he told me that he’ll be moderating a press conference with Black Sabbath soon, announcing your new record.
TI: Really? I’ve not heard that. That’s a new one on me. My goodness. Unless they’re doing one without me … (laughs) “Henry Rollins is playing guitar!” When was that supposed to be?
LEO: He said a couple weeks, in Los Angeles.
TI: OK. Well, I’ll investigate that. I’d like to know what album he’s announcing, as we haven’t done one!
LEO: What other future plans do you have?
TI: Well, we have been in talks about the original Sabbath getting together, but that’s not definite yet. I’ve got a few different projects underway.
NOTE: LEO spoke with Iommi and Rollins on Nov. 2. On Nov. 11, Rollins hosted that press conference with the band, announcing that the four original members of Black Sabbath have been rehearsing, will be touring, and will record a new album. Rolling Stone reported that Iommi said, “It’s now or never. We get along great. Everything’s really good.”
c. 2011 LEO Weekly
at 10:19:00 PM
Shim’s adorkable She, Zooey Deschanel, has had quite a fall season. She’s become a mainstream TV star, she’s getting divorced, and then there’s this, a classic Christmas album. By “classic,” I mean “as expected,” or surprisingly lacking in surprises or innovations. She and M. Ward (Him) do their usual thing, including typically skillful guitar textures from Ward, but if you like Christmas music and/or have any Christmas albums — well, this is another one of those. She tries to do her best Ronstadt, especially on “Blue Christmas,” and yes, the audiophile duo do take on tunes from the Beach Boys and NRBQ, but if you aren’t charmed by blue-eyed devil Deschanel, you probably won’t enjoy her solo ukulele rendition of “Silver Bells.” If you are, you will, and so on. It’s as if the pair have gone so far beyond irony that they forgot to not take this so seriously. Is it bah humbugable? Not necessarily, but is it worth $15?
c. 2011 LEO Weekly
at 9:20:00 AM
Kentucky’s 23 String Band seem like a lot of guys we know and love around here — regular dudes with exceptional skill. Their bluegrass attack is fueled by high-octane rock ’n’ roll energy, skillfully guided here by producer Kevin Ratterman. A rascally sense of humor also helps distinguish them from some of their peers, dropping in quotes from other songs like jazz musicians and mimicking trains or jugbands or whatever else strikes their fancy. While some exponents of this genre can be overly reverential at times, the Strings are too raucous to settle for easy sentimentality or religiosity; they’re more about liquor and girls. The sources of their cover material here — including a John Hartford beauty and an early Tom Petty FM classic — indicate their relaxed attitude, though they put everything into these performances. Author Silas House, a better scribe than I, wrote, “Their shows are electrifying, their songwriting is top-notch, and their vocals are as tight as the cork in a jug of moonshine.” And we think you’ll agree.
C. 2011 LEO Weekly
at 9:19:00 AM
The founders of the sextet White Rabbits moved from Columbia, Mo., to Brooklyn in 2005, inspired by Ska and its New Wave descendants. Since then, they’ve expanded their sound and found mentors in the popular Austin-based Spoon, whose leader, Britt Daniel, has produced for them. The third White Rabbits album will be released early next year.
“We spent the summer in Austin. We were there for three months, from April through the Fourth of July,” says singer/pianist Stephen Patterson. “It was the longest continuous stretch we’ve ever had to be able to record a record.”
Like most young bands, White Rabbits have had to patiently pay their dues. Though their indie pop/rock is undeniably catchy, they haven’t had a hit song yet for radio or car commercials.
“Out first record (2007’s Fort Nightly) was done by sneaking into a studio every weekend, or whenever we could,” Patterson says. “The second record (2009’s It’s Frightening) was done over the course of four weeks, in two two-week sessions. It was really fast. So it was nice this time to stretch out and have time to experiment with stuff, try different arrangements, go through wilder sounds than we’re used to.”
Patterson clarified that their new songs aren’t wildly different, but involve a new way of writing for the band. While some of the new material came out of playing together live, others came from recycling aspects of those performances. “We got into the idea of sampling ourselves. I would record the band, or just a few of us, playing in our rehearsal space in Brooklyn, and find a little moment that sounded cool and use that as the basis for a song, (a sound) that would go through the majority of the song as the main building block.
“We knew that we wanted to apply the rhythm stuff in a new way. That was one thing we were aspiring to do — instead of doing a straight drum sound, putting a little something or other on top of the drums, giving some special quality to that part or arrangement … I grew up playing drums, so I love working on those parts with those guys, and it’s still a big factor in the music we make.”
Whether it’s Animal Collective’s modern take on psychedelic and tribal rhythms or Vampire Weekend’s more accessible, Paul Simon-inspired Caribbean style, it’s become increasingly easy lately to find bands more interested in percussion.
Patterson concurs, “I think that’s great for the most part — drums are cool, they’re a pretty timeless instrument. But I feel like there are many other ways this concept could be applied than the ways I’ve been seeing it lately. It’s not just simply about power; it’s also about all the different textures it can get.”
The members of White Rabbits have found inspiration in the Ethiopian music series Ethiopiques, as well as “a lot of R&B and a lot of hip-hop.” Patterson says the band also draws inspiration from “a lot of Afrobeat stuff. We really learned to play as a band touring through the last record, so on this one we got really into getting a locomotive kind of rhythm going and trying to keep it continuous throughout the track.”
You learned to play as a band on your second record?
“Yeah, I would say so. Repetition — you do it enough (laughs) and you start to figure out what we can do, between the six of us, that sounds cool. We stopped trying so hard to replicate the album live. That forced us to only be listening to each other in the room, at the moment. That’s a very obvious sort of thing, but a lot of times those very obvious things can take a while to totally sink in. The main thing is, you just tour for a long time and … we toured for long time on our first record, and our second — for two years off of that one — and we’re starting to figure it out.”
WHITE RABBITS WITH SONOI
Thursday, Dec. 8
2100 S. Preston St. • 635-9227
$10 adv., $12 DOS; 9 p.m.
c. 2011 LEO Weekly
at 9:17:00 AM
Old Baby is a new group featuring members of local bands Young Widows, Workers and King’s Daughters & Sons. Their debut EP, Misunderstanding Human Behavior, will be released by Hawthorne Street Records soon.
LEO: Tell me about your new supergroup.
Jonathan Glen Wood: Drew (Osborne) and Evan (Patterson) wanted to play music together, and then Todd (Cook) wanted to play. Since I became friends with Evan, we’ve always talked about playing music together. Then we asked Neil (Argabrite) if he wanted to play. It just worked out, man. We got together in, I guess, February, and we set a goal that we were gonna try and write and record something pretty quick. It was cool, going into the studio and having everything come together, and it actually sounded really great.
LEO: How do the members’ different influences come together?
JGW: From my end, there are some darker folk elements. From Evan’s end, there’s some really great washed-out guitar stuff. It’s definitely heavy, but it’s not like loud heavy, it’s just really intense. There are some repetitive elements, but we don’t have any long tunes — everything is pretty concise. There are moments when it all opens up. Definitely influences are late ’60s/early ’70s rock ’n’ roll; for me, ’70’s folk … some Krautrock stuff … even some pretty raw punk stuff comes in, musically.
LEO: And the name?
JGW: Old Baby was one of the first ones that Todd came up with. We cycled through so many names, and none of them really clicked. That’s the one that stuck.
LEO: Todd was previously in a band called Dead Child.
JGW: (laughs) Right.
CAVE and Old Baby play Sunday, Dec. 11, at Zanzabar at 9 p.m. Go to othersideoflife.wordpress.com for more info.
C. 2011 LEO Weekly
at 9:16:00 AM