Thursday, January 31, 2013

My first show

This week's edition is with Stavros from the Atlas Moth. This was my first interview to do while driving. Jenny and I made a quick trip to Houston a few weeks ago for my nieces' and mother's birthdays, and he texted me as we were just about to I-45. We talked for a good half hour and the energy was pretty high.  Stavros was great to talk with, and I look forward to seeing the band play live.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Meeting Dr. Lizardo

A little before Christmas last year, I started watching Dexter from the beginning. Matt has every season that's available on DVD, so it was natural to watch. Since The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad are on break, I figured I could fit some time in to get up to speed on Dexter Morgan's world.

A few days ago, I finished with the fourth season, aka, the season with John Lithgow as the "special guest star." I truly enjoyed seeing Lithgow show his entire range of acting skills, from friendly and genuine to psychotic to broken. Not many can do that without looking hammy, but Lithgow is a guy who's effectively played complex villains many times before.

I've seen Lithgow in a lot of movies and TV shows before, but while watching this season of Dexter, I couldn't help remembering the time I met Lithgow in a New Orleans airport. I'm not sure if it was 1985 or 1986, but I certainly remember the circumstances around meeting him.

At the time, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension was one of my favorite movies. As in, watching it on a Betamax cassette tape a few times on a weekly basis, along with Star Wars, Back to the Future, and The Muppet Movie. Something about a hero who could travel to other dimensions, fight aliens, and play in a rock band excited me. My babysitter gave me a Buckaroo Banzai shirt that fit me perfectly, so I wore it quite often. (I still have it, by the way.) 

Lucky for me, I wore the shirt while my family dropped off my uncle at the main New Orleans airport. A very kind woman approached me, crouched down, and asked, "You recognize that guy?" She pointed towards Mr. Lithgow sitting down and reading a magazine. She then said, "If you ask for his autograph, that would make his day." I was transfixed. This was Dr. Emilio Lizardo/Lord John Whorfin to me, not necessarily an actor. My mother gave me a small piece of paper and pencil and I approached him.

Here's the thing about Lithgow: he's tall. At 6'4", he was taller than anybody I really knew when I was six, so his kneecaps in the sitting position came to my forehead. I simply asked in a cracked, squeaky voice, "Can I have your autograph?" He looked down at me, smiled, and said, "Oh sure!" He wrote his signature on the purple piece of paper my mother gave me and I walked away, buzzing.

Even though the autographed piece of paper eventually got lost (my mother fears that she accidentally thew it away, but I forgave her many years ago), the experience has remained in my memory. I see it as an example of being kind to people who appreciate your work, even if you don't know them. And no matter what kind of work you do, chances are good somebody somewhere will take great pleasure in what you do. John Lithgow might play a lot of villains, but he wasn't one to me.

Spector 45

There are benefits to frequently being on Facebook. Early last night, a couple of my friends shared the link about the Spector 45 documentary. I hit up the director and we did an interview. An hour later, I had transcribed the interview and uploaded it onto our blogging program. The results went live earlier this morning.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My First Show

This week's edition is with the Atomic Tanlines. I met up with them at the Waffle House where they started and even took their picture in front of the place. I had to lie on my back to get the shot. Whatever it takes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I Just Don't Understand What All These Kids Dig About Him

I've been a little late to praise this, but it's better late than never. When I wrote Post between 2004 and 2008, I dealt with the mainstream's version of what post-hardcore/emo was. Articles, TV news reports, a decent documentary and a really off-base (and superficial) book tried to explain why teenagers liked Fall Out Boy and Dashboard Confessional. More often than not, I was discouraged by bands with an eye on a prize and journalists with deadlines to meet with very little time for research. So I spent a lot of time attempting to explain why a band like Jawbreaker still matters while Panic at the Disco had a ticking time bomb attached to their relevance.

During the research process, I had a subscription to Alternative Press and stayed in touch with some of its writers (writers I'm still in touch with today). While they did feature bands that weren't in the music business to have a Top 40 hit, a lot of the attention I saw was to bands that wanted that golden egg. That discouragement was a good motivator in terms of getting the project done. Eventually, I let my subscription end when I finished my book. I haven't felt the urge to subscribe again, mainly due to the understanding that I am clearly not their target demographic. I have no anger towards that; better to get young people who actually buy the magazine excited about bands that speak to them.

But for me, I held out hope that young bands would see through the nonsense of discussing Pete Wentz's dating life or different variations of black nail polish and find beauty in Sunny Day Real Estate's music or the importance of Dischord Records. Luckily, this has happened and has been around for a few years.

Thanks to friends of mine who have a voracious appetite for constantly hearing modern music, I have been introduced to great bands like Spraynard, Snowing, Dikembe, Dowsing, Everyone Everywhere, Grown Ups, Into It. Over It, and Iron Chic in the past two years. I have especially been impressed by the releases on the Count Your Lucky Stars label. These bands sound more like Cap'n Jazz, Braid, and American Football, with a label aesthetic more like Polyvinyl. (A good place to start with the label is with this free compilation of songs.)

These are bands that retain the heart and mind of being young, frustrated, and unsure. And the best part, this is music you can still listen to as you age. None of that, "Oh, I'm so embarrassed that I liked this band" shame here.

When I interviewed Evan Weiss from Into It. Over It last year, he put it best: "I think it was a lot of people getting tired of seeing bands that weren't authentic bands playing songs that really mattered to them. They were tired of being sold a product and just wanted to see a band get up there and be a band. You can only be fed bullshit for so long before you lose patience."

Boy, this is a great thing to see. Completely makes wading through years of muck worth it. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My first show

This week's edition is with Erika Wennerstrom from Heartless Bastards. The interview turned out well, but doing the interview was a little frustrating due to a small delay on our cell phone connections. Even a small delay can make it hard to tell when the person you're interviewing is finished answering the question.

Celebration Day

A few weeks ago, I took in a screening of Celebration Day, the (possibly) last-ever performance of Led Zeppelin. Thankfully, I never wished to hit the fast-forward button during its two-hour running time.

I say this because there was a time in my life when I ate up a 25-minute rendition of "Dazed and Confused." Those were my high school years when I had a desire to soak up an experience like The Song Remains the Same. I never watched it under the influence, and I don't regret that.

Given all the music I dig as an adult, I don't really feel the need to listen to The Song Remains the Same again and again. I'll take the studio albums over that any day, no matter my mood. That said, the production and the performance quality of Celebration Day is exactly what I enjoy as an adult. The editing is spot-on, the performance is nothing short of powerful, and the song selection shows the best of the band's sound.

I didn't watch Celebration Day under the influence either. But I did watch it on a friend's new home theater system, which includes a screen that took up almost an entire wall. Certainly was the closest to seeing the performance in a theater.

None of the songs felt long to me. The greatness of the band's material is on display here; not the excesses of their shows in the 70s. This is probably a better document of the band in a single performance, though I'd say the Led Zeppelin DVD is a definitive look at all of the band's time together.

So, whenever Amazon runs their special deals on DVDs, no matter how cheap they'll sell The Song Remains the Same, I'm more than likely to go for Celebration Day.

Monday, January 14, 2013

How did you get your job?

Here's a question I never get tired of asking: "How did you get your job?" Everyone has a unique story, so it always interests me. And, I keep the answers in mind as I continue to find my next full-time job.

Every single job I've had came in part from knowing somebody with the company. My father was good friends with the manager at the Best Buy I wanted to work for. The woman who gave me my first internship was a longtime family friend. And the man who helped me land my second internship (which led to my first job in radio) was a fraternity brother of my father.

The last two full-time jobs I held came from a simple question by the same person: "You want the job?"  I had worked my butt off to get to that point, so it wasn't like I lied around and was handed the job on a silver platter. I sacrificed, showed up, and paid attention.

I have yet to meet someone who didn't network a little for his or her new job. Job postings on websites can be truthful, but one must show more than a precisely-worded resume/member profile in terms of landing that job. If I see a job opening at a company that I could excel in, I not only apply, but talk to somebody I know at the company. Besides, it's hard to sell yourself when your whole adult work experience (not your personality) is relegated to black and white letters on two pieces of white paper.

So, finding this elusive white whale is still an ongoing challenge for me. Hence why I like to ask this question repeatedly.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


It's always a pleasure to talk with Dan Phillips, no matter which band he's in at the time. He was part of the first interview I ever conducted with a band. So it was an easy no-brainer to call him up last night and ask about True Widow signing with Relapse Records. According to him, my interview with him was the first one he's done with anybody since the announcement was made.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

My first show

This week's edition is with Matt Hittle from Auxiliary Voice. I met up with him at Vickery Park on Sunday and did 15 minutes with him. Lots of funny stuff was shared and I couldn't help asking certain technical questions.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

To share or over-share

Jenny is a big fan of the blog, STFU, Parents. I enjoy the site as well, where parents are anonymously mocked for their over-sharing ways on Facebook. Many times, these parents act like their child/children are the center of not just their universe, but everyone's universe. The narcissism is often high with these people, and therefore, hilarious to read. "At least when I babysat growing up I got paid," begins one post. "No one pays you to stay home on NYE with your own child."

Once again, there's what you think about, and then there's what you write and share with people you know.

Chances are very good that you know these kinds of parents; frequently posting almost every kind of detail about their children's daily lives. There's the lack of sleep posts, the posts about meltdowns, and pictures, pictures, pictures. I am Facebook friends with a number of people who have young children, and I'm thankful that I've only had to hide a few from my news feed. I actually enjoy hearing about their children, but if the children are the focus of every single post (especially if there are many in a day), I grow tired of seeing this. Same thing with posting pictures. If there is a daily photo gallery (instead of one or a couple of pictures), it's too much.

And don't get me started on people who are about to become parents for the first time. All I will say here is, a couple I know found out a few weeks ago that they are expecting their first child. Since then, all posts from them are filled with detailed information about the ultrasounds. While I'm very happy for them about having their first child, I'm not so sure I could handle daily/weekly updates about the pregnancy until the summer (when the child is due to be born). Fearing over-sharing for the next couple of years from them, I might be hitting that "Hide" button soon enough.

I'm not trying to sound heartless. I am not a parent. I want to have children, as does Jenny. But we're not into over-sharing on Facebook about it. For example, I dedicated exactly one Facebook post about playing with Jenny's 14-month-old niece over Christmas. Noting that I had "Heads and Shoulders, Knees and Toes" stuck in my head for a few days, my intent was to share a rather amusing result of entertaining a toddler. There was no blast of "Oh man, I wish I had a kid!" or "I want a baby now!" posts from me. I thought some of those thoughts, but knowing the hazards of posting that kind of stuff, I held back.

Ultimately, I think people should post what they want, but if you find yourself hidden by friends and family because of over-sharing too much of something, please don't take to Facebook to complain about it.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

My First Show

This week's edition is with At Night, a pretty new band in the Dallas area. I've known Cameron for years with his previous band, so it was natural to ask him if he was interested in an interview.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Everything's Tuesday

After all these years of writing, I've written my first eulogy. Legendary soul station KKDA-AM has gone off the air, and I had to say a few things about it.