Wednesday, February 15, 2012
It’s easy for the Pixies to rehash old favorites for millions of dollars, but it’s more interesting when a lesser-known band regroups because they can’t not play together. Nixon has gotten back together to spread more heavy sounds, even as members remain with other bands, such as The Hookers and Trophy Wives. LEO caught up with guitarist Doug Walker.
LEO: How did the band get back together?
Doug Walker: I think for all of us, Nixon always felt like the girlfriend you never quite fully get over. When we stopped working together as a band four years ago, it was a situation where we weren’t really enjoying it anymore. I’m pretty sure it felt stagnant to all of us, and there were a lot of outside situations we were dealing with as individuals that just took away from the overall enjoyment of the band. Over the course of the time we were inactive, we often talked about the idea of doing “one more show” or “trying to get it going again,” but the time was just never right. We finally found ourselves in a situation where we were all in town and had the availability and desire to do it again. After one practice, we decided to give it another go … Working together is much smoother this time around. It’s been a very positive experience.
LEO: There are echoes of some great heavy, underground bands from the ’90s, and some recent ones as well, in these songs. How has your songwriting evolved through the years?
DW: Lyrically, Matt Haas is, in my opinion, an absolute genius at painting a picture of despair and dissatisfaction. Musically, Matt Jaha and myself do everything possible to take what we like to call a “creepy” approach to song writing. Eric McManus and Tony Ash are hands down the most solid rhythm section in this city. Just those two can create a crushing sound. Jaha and myself only need to layer our guitars on top of them, then Haas comes in and makes it all make sense by telling a story.
Nixon plays Friday night at Cahoots. More info is at facebook.com/nixonKY.
Photo by Bryan Volz
c. 2012 LEO Weekly
at 10:26:00 AM
Phantom Family Halo founder Dominic Cipolla decided to move from Louisville to Brooklyn. “About a year before I moved, I set a date, told everyone in the band that I was going and that I would love for them all to join me. But not everyone has the same goals and interests. I just needed a jolt of energy in my life that I knew I needed to find elsewhere.”
When I Fall Out is the fourth full-length album for the band and the first since the tragic death of Cipolla’s close friend Tony Bailey, a drummer widely admired for his skill and prolificness. The album, out this week, is the first of two planned by the band for release this year.
“These songs were all written over the course of a year or so, after his passing. Within days of it happening, it was my therapy of sorts. I was doing the only thing I knew that would help me with all the confusion and anxiety of such a drastic turn in life, helping to make it the smallest bit easier to comprehend for myself,” says Cipolla. “It is certainly influenced by dealing with his loss, but it is also influenced by other people I have known who have gotten pretty lost along the way. It’s also, I guess, about an overall feeling that the fun at the party is over and has taken a very dark turn — people wanting to live in that synthetic place so badly that they never come back.
“‘When I Fall Out,’ the song, is about that moment when they have finally achieved that goal. It’s sort of a journey through the high and low points of someone’s quest for that high that they’re just not getting from the regular human experience. Even when they have so many around who just want to love them and enjoy them, they just end up leaving them behind.”
Moving away helped Cipolla move forward, both musically and in general. “I love New York so very much. I love all aspects of the city. Its history is so endlessly entertaining to me, the dirtiest subway rat to the prettiest flower in the park … The possibilities to explore are endless here. I am always finding something new and thinking how glad I am for leaving the house that day.”
The second album, Hard Apple Moon, “is full of all the positive energy and excitement that comes along with moving to such an interesting and wonderful place,” he says. The band wanted to keep the two sets of songs separate. “The second set is very uptempo and more about my surroundings and being re-energized for a future unknown. The title ‘Hard Apple Moon’ is really a loose term for something that I can only describe as being a life-saver. I started writing the second set the week I moved to New York City … The songs from each set just naturally didn’t seem right together.”
Though Cipolla also plays guitar, drums are his first love, leading him to often provide multiple parts on recordings. “When I get a general idea in my head, it is just easier for me to get it going … I always hear very specific beats and fills that I would rather do myself. Then, of course, with writing the songs, my guitar playing and vocals are in the process as well. So in the end, I just end up piecing the majority of the tune together. Then others may add to it, as well.”
Highly informed by ’60s and ’70s rock — glam, psych and heavy rock, especially — Cipolla defines himself as “way out of the loop” with music. “I’m pretty confused about what is going on in today’s world. I’m still finding music from 40 years ago that compels my ears and mind … I do think that certain ears seek music like that out and find it and benefit from it.”
Music has proven its healing powers to him. When he plays the songs from his new, dark album live, “I am able to step out of the original thought process and just hear it as a song with melodies and changes and dynamics. I enjoy playing them very much."
Photo by David S. Rubin
c. 2012 LEO Weekly
at 10:22:00 AM
Describing the unusual mixture of sounds making up the stew in Whistle Peak’s indie pop is difficult, but their music is tasty and intriguing, and even more so in their second album, Half Asleep Upon Echo Falls, out this week on local label Karate Body Records. LEO spoke with singer Billy Petot.
LEO: How did the new album come together? How do you all write?
Billy Petot: David Boston and I began working on the songs for this album as soon as we released our debut in 2008. We realized people liked what we were doing, so that motivated us to start writing with an audience in mind. I can’t say the same about the first album; we didn’t really imagine much of an audience when we wrote those songs. I like to say that this time around felt much more intentional, rather than the first, which sounds more aloof to me.
Usually, David or I will write a song, maybe lay down some groundwork, if we have any ideas, and then we bring in Jeremy Irvin, who contributes a great deal, and just see where each song takes us. Sometimes Mike Snowden will come record some bass lines, and a song will take a new direction. We never know what it is going to sound like until we start laying it down. It’s really about experimentation and improvisation.
LEO: Whistle Peak doesn’t sound like many other bands, indie or otherwise. What do you hear when you hear Whistle Peak?
BP: I hear some strange amalgamation of everything. Spaces bleeding across boundaries. The old made new … I refer to it as “electro-folk.” Kevin Ratterman, who mastered both albums, once called it “hi-fi-lo-fi.” Our buddy Tim Stratman calls it “future hits.”
LEO: Where do your songs come from? What inspires you?
BP: Our loved ones. Our love of nature. Relationships. David and I have been close friends and songwriting partners since high school, so he inspires me a great deal. I like to think he’d say the same. The music of others certainly inspires us. When I hear something I really like, I immediately want to sit down and write some that makes me feel that way again.
LEO: Where did you record it?
BP: David records it all at his home with some less-than-stellar equipment. We’ve been using the same Gateway computer to record on since 1999. Before that, we were recording on analog 4-tracks and stuff like that, so I think we prefer that sound of being homemade in a way, of just using the tools we have handy, whether that is a pot, a paintbrush or tea kettle. This time around, we wanted to do things the same way but try and make it sound professionally done — radio-friendly, I guess — or at least as though we spent a lot of money, which we did not.
Whistle Peak plays a record release show at Zanzabar on March 3.
c. 2012 LEO Weekly
at 10:21:00 AM