Girl Talk’s epic album gets an epic video treatment. Oh, yeah, and he’s playing a secret concert in Norman this weekend.
I once had an extensive discussion with a friend about the mash-up that opens Girl Talk’s fifth album, “All Day,” one of my personal favorites and probably the most fun disc of 2010. The two prominent songs sampled are Ludacris’ “Move Bitch” and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” the former of which my friend Nathan (a gigantic metalhead), said he first listened to in high school while bumping up and down on a tractor on his family’s farm in northwest Oklahoma. If that’s not a funny image, then I don’t know what is.
Whoever’s behind this “Girl Walk // All Day” Kickstarter Campaign (not actually associated with Girl Talk) probably finds similar humor in listening to compulsive dance music in everyday situations. They’ve filmed 12 videos (ostensibly one for each song on the album), which they’ll be premiering each week until mid-January over at The Gothamist.
The first one’s below, and it features a sassy, rogue ballet dancer, a robot-dancing mechanic creep and a bunch of confused onlookers. I just wish I were brave enough to dance like this outside the protective confines of my car.
Also, yes, Girl Talk will be playing somewhere in Norman this weekend, but the location and time of the show have yet to be announced. Axe Body Spray is sponsoring the concert, and tickets will be given out on the University of Oklahoma campus tomorrow. I’ve currently got about a half-dozen surrogates keeping an eye out for me, because I’m not missing this chance to dress up like a goof and unfurl that Girl Talk-loving freak flag of mine.
Also, earnest question: What is an ice cream paint job? Or do I even want to know?
A few Okies and a lot of absurdity dot this year’s nominations.
Ada-born Blake Shelton; country’s shiniest lady-star Carrie Underwood; and local kiddie-rock stars Sugar Free Allstars (pictured) all got nominated in this year’s round of Grammy nominations, announced today.
OK, so the OKC-based Allstars’ nom comes tangentially, as they contributed the song “Cooperate” to the “All about Bullies ... Big and Small” collection for Cool Beans Music that was nominated for Best Children’s Album, but still cool. Shelton’s and Underwood’s came in the usual country categories.
But yeah, year after year, the Grammy nominees just get increasingly absurd.
This year’s no different. Bon Iver’s up for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist (I suppose you have to sell out mid-size theaters across this country and others in order to be considered a “new artist” these days), competing against the likes of Adele (really?), Bruno Mars, Nicki Minaj and Skrillex.
Fleet Foxes got nominated for Best Folk Album, which is forgivable until you consider that they’re trying to take down Eddie Vedder’s “Ukelele Songs.” Radiohead is in the Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song categories for “Lotus Flower,” possibly the least rock-like song it’s ever recorded. The band’s bizarre, inventive “The King of Limbs” isn’t even in the Best Rock Album category — it’s nominated for Best Alternative Music Album, ostensibly ousted by Okie natives Kings of Leon’s “Come Around Sundown,” or as I like to call it, “the biggest turd in the whole bowl.”
Wilco is nominated again! I guess once you get nominated and keep making records, you get nominated for life. It’s a travesty that Beyoncé’s best-ever album, “4,” didn’t net anything, and even worse that single “1+1” received no recognition.
And sweet lord, “Sigh No More” was released in October 2009! And yet Mumford & Sons are still up for as many trophies as Bon Iver. I’m writing my congressman.
This was shortly before I got hired by the good people here at the Gazette, who now help to get me into shows like this (thanks, guys!). I mean, seriously, look how awesome this was, courtesy of expert Tulsa photographer Jeremy Charles:
Today the band announced “Reign of Terror,” the follow-up to its 2010 debut, “Treats,” by way of a video that captures the disturbing, harsh intensity of Derek Miller’s guitar riffage against Alexis Krauss’ chic femininity, dressed up in a military uniform like a Bond villainess who only speaks grunts of Russian. I really hope they somehow wield this thing into an insane dance-pop-metal hybrid.
Before the renowned mash-up DJ’s most compacted show in years, he talked about the music that spins his gears.
Somehow, Opolis remains.
It’s a surprise the cat paintings are still there, let alone the building itself. Although I imagine it had to be squeegeed clean of puddles of sweat and sticky confetti after the massive, writhing rave that thrived inside for more than two hours Saturday night.
It was the typical Girl Talk fare: One second, it felt like a ’90s grunge video, with flood lamps and the chorus from Nirvana’s “Lithium”; the next, Pimp C or Notorious B.I.G. or some other long-gone rapper had returned from the dead, accompanied by that part from the pop song that sticks in your brain like an adhesive mouse trap. The swelling synths of M83’s “Midnight City” inspired euphoria, and Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson’s vocals were isolated, and injected with teenage angst by gnarled, aggressive guitar riffage from Trent Reznor.
What I found remarkable about Girl Talk’s (real name: Gregg Gillis) show was his ability to successfully reference points on every one of his records since “Night Ripper,” (one of his goals, as you’ll soon find out) while also remaining inventive and playful. Opening with the brash, dangerous Black Sabbath/Ludacris mashup that kicks “All Day” into gear, the mix transformed as suddenly as an 8-year-old with ADHD can change the subject. A late highlight from “Here’s the Thing” on “Feed the Animals” mashes “Jessie’s Girl” with a dizzying Chris Brown verse, an unexpected gem preserved for the live show. It’s a useful strategy, enabling him to toss newer music, previously unheard or live-only mixes in without confusing the audience.
Gillis really seemed to relish the small venue (kudos to Axe Body Spray for sponsoring his current college town tour), climbing up on his table above the audience to command his laptop from a Spider-Man-like position before swinging from the rafters and eventually hopping down in the crowd to dance with elated kids. It’s no surprise he’s one of the most consistently sought-after performers of the last half-decade or so. And as you’ll shortly find out, he probably hasn’t played a public show in a venue as intimate as Opolis in just as long.
OKS: Hi, Gregg. How’s the college tour going?
Gregg Gillis: It’s been incredible. We did Tuscaloosa; then we did Starkville, Miss.; then we did Fayetteville last night. The smaller venues have been crazy. We’ve worked really hard at the show to make it bigger, to make it accessible for the larger venues. That’s something I’ve enjoyed doing.
But there definitely is, absolutely, and it doesn’t matter what band you are, there’s something special about those intimate shows. I feel like every fan can relate to that; every musician can relate to that. I think when Axe hit us up and came at us with the opportunity for this tour, where we’d get to bring the whole crew and the whole production to the smaller venues, it was — for me — a no-brainer. I’ve been looking forward to this run of shows more so than any shows out of almost this entire year.
OKS: Save for a couple of stagehands with toilet paper-shooting leaf blowers, you’ve been your own hype man onstage most of your career. How has that gotten easier over the years? Doing your own hype and working the crowd?
Gillis: It’s the sort of thing where experience is everything. Getting in that mode and behaving that way is very different from my day-to-day personality. When I’m onstage, I’m definitely behaving in a way I don’t experience outside of the stage. So I feel really grateful for having six years of no one giving a shit about this project, y’know, touring around and playing for 30 people. Thirty people, 10 people, whatever, with no one caring.
Those years were really fun because there was no fear of failing; you’re touring with your friends and it was a blast. But you really kind of learn to wear a thick coat, you know what I mean? You learn to just deal with any situation. And back then, things could get really grim. People would wanna fight you or unplug you, and it would spiral out of control. So once the shows started to gain some success and momentum, it was a lot easier — way more fun. People were coming out to enjoy the show for the first time in six years, and it just created a whole different vibe.
I think about that a lot when I see young bands because the cycle’s getting kinda fast now, and so many bands just don’t get a chance to experience that — you know, shitty shows and years of being borderline-happy and borderline-miserable. So yeah, those years are really valuable to me.
As the bigger shows have gone on, I’ve been in a lot of different situations, like playing before Kanye West in Las Vegas to playing at a weird music festival in Europe where people don’t know who I am. I think all of those are helpful and you learn, and I feel like I’m better at it now than I was a year ago, and the year prior than that, and I feel at this point that no situation could truly shake me. I’m prepared for whatever the hell’s about to go down.
OKS: Do you ever come up with a really good idea for some mash in your head or on paper that just doesn’t comport when you sit down to work it out?
Gillis: That definitely happens. But most of the stuff I put together isn’t intuitive. Most things that come together are not ideas I had until I heard them together. There might be a new hip-hop song out there I like and I have an a capella of the verse, and I might have an idea of the tempo it’s at. So typically, with that tempo, I could run through a list of songs with that tempo that I’ve used on albums, and ones I haven’t used on albums.
I’d say the majority of things get made up on the spot, but there is the rare case that this sounds like this tempo matches up perfectly with this, and I sit down and I hash it out and it definitely fails. In general, I have more failures than successes, you know what I mean? The majority of stuff I try out does not see the light of day. There are different days of work for me. Some days are just spent isolating samples, and some days are trial and error.
And when it is like a trial-and-error day or week, I can have a bunch of ideas or even try out hundreds of combinations and only a couple stand out to me. At this point I’ve just become really difficult on myself and really critical on myself to raise the bar, always. I think people want to see that, you know? People want to see that growth. What I would allow now, on an album, is drastically different from what I would’ve allowed in 2006.
OKS: Other than the obvious “wanting to improve,” what motivations have raised that bar higher?
Gillis: It’s just a personal thing. And learning how to do it. When I was putting together “Night Ripper,” I thought, “This definitely relates to many things before it,” ranging from, like, “Paul’s Boutique” to N.W.A. records to John Oswald. It didn’t come out of thin air. But I did feel like it was a unique sound. That nobody has done this exact thing. So that was at the heart of that. And once it was established, it was like, “How do I grow from there?”
I feel like when people are critical of music, it’s more often the concepts that they’re critical about. I rarely read critical stuff like, ”Oh, that was a sour note in there,” or “Oh, that transition was horrible.” It’s almost never like that, it’s more focused on “Are you into the concept or are you out of the concept?”
And I understand. I don’t expect everybody to be into it on every level. So from there, I’ve been figuring out how to make everything better, how to make my production tighter, the transitions smoother, and I think in the earlier years, it was about smaller loops. It’s been a weird thing because the music’s gotten more accessible, but it’s also gotten more complicated. The way to make it more involved was to find bigger samples and grasp multiple connections for songs.
To me, a great example would be the beginning of the new record, that Ludacris with Black Sabbath. Luda’s there, you’ve got the Black Sabbath vocals and like four different guitar lines, then you come to the vocals in different ways. It’s way different from “Night Ripper,” where there’s like one loop, then you move on.
That was just a personal challenge to myself, of how I could make this more involved. The goal was to make a really complicated collage that’s also not a chore to listen to, that people can actually enjoy. In that regard, I’ve definitely been more critical of myself than anything I’ve ever read.
OKS: Do you feel the responsibility to represent types of music that are often under-represented by, like, the media?
Gillis: That’s weird, ’cause it’s hard for me to do that. There’s so many failures in [making] the music that I can’t ever really think, like, “Oh, this album should have this, or that,” you know what I mean? I can’t actively try to represent this band or that band because there’s so many options and things I can do on the albums that it ultimately comes down to what works best musically.
But I think where each song stands in pop culture definitely factors into the mixes. I don’t mind having a song that’s considered cheesy in the entire world of the mix, but I don’t want to have many of those right in a row. I don’t want to put MC Hammer next to Vanilla Ice, next to Baha Men. But I don’t mind using an element of something like that, if it’s next to something from the opposite end of the critical spectrum, like Aphex Twin or something like that. So that sort of thing has definitely factored in.
Or even songs like one-hit wonders that I think have been glossed over and I want to definitely use them. And that’s less like trying to get something out there to the audience and more like harnessing something powerful in those more obscure pop songs that people know and love and hear, but forget about. There’s a power to that and it’s something I try to use in all the albums. It’s a characteristic of, you know, 10 to 20 percent of samples, those forgotten pop songs that are absolutely great pop landmarks.
OKS: That’s interesting. I was kinda talking more about, like female emcees, for instance. Because I know I probably wouldn’t have ever actively sought out, say, Rye Rye if I hadn’t heard her on “All Day.”
Gillis: With that stuff, it’s just kinda like, that’s my personal taste, I love female emcees. On the record there’s that Rye Rye and Dominique Young Unique. Live, I always try to do a little Nicki Minaj. I really enjoy stuff ranging from like Gangsta Boo to M.I.A. to Lil’ Kim, all that stuff. That’s just kind of a personal thing, a taste thing that shows up on the album.
OKS: I imagine it probably even feels that much better to get stuff you especially like in there when it works with the arrangement. That’s like, the sweet spot.
Gillis: Right. It’s the same with some of the more obscure, older samples. It’s not the goal to get it out there to people, but it’s definitely fun to me and enjoyable when I’m playing a college in 2011 and I drop a Fugazi sample and all the girls are screaming. It’s comical, it’s cool. I love Fugazi. It wasn’t my goal to get them out to this audience, but it’s definitely cool to me that this crowd is recognizing the sample and getting down with it.
OKS: It’s been just over a year since “All Day” came out and I understand that you’re constantly working and reworking your music. What songs have come out since then that you’ve been working with? Or wanting to work with?
Gillis: Yeah, usually once the album or song comes out, I start working. People expect that at shows. At recent shows in the last year I have a mix — I’ve been doing various versions of it — of [Chris Brown’s] “Look at Me Now,” the Busta Rhymes verse, with a highly detailed, cut-up version of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which I did use bits of on “Feed the Animals,” but this is, like, one of the more involved things. I wish it were on the last record, which is a thought I have a lot. It’s definitely of that caliber. I like it as much as, if not more so, than the majority of the record.
There’s that, Travis Porter’s “Make It Rain,” stuff off the new Jay-Z/Kanye record. I’ve been doing various mixes of Katy Perry’s “T.G.I.F.” It’s been a good year for pop, which is always the case. A hit comes out, then another one comes out two months later and I’m like, “Ah, I wish it were on the record.”
I definitely think I could do an entire show with new material, but there’s always finding that balance of referencing the old material. I know some people like “Night Ripper” more than “Feed the Animals,” and everyone has their favorite mixes, so I try to definitely reference all the albums. But now, a year later, at least over half the set is completely new material from “All Day.”
OKS: That’s nuts. I was listening to “All Day” this morning and the Drake sample on “Steady Shock” — I think it’s the song “Over,” the verse about Jada Pinkett — got me curious to know if you’d listened to his new record, and if you were gonna mine anything from it. I thought that might be an interesting challenge for how sparse and minimal it is.
Gillis: I bought it, and I haven’t listened to it yet. I went on a shopping spree the other day and bought a ton of records. I’ve heard the singles and, uh, Drake to me is really interesting because he makes great pop songs without being that exciting of a character, to me. There are so many other rappers I find more fascinating, but he definitely has this potential to be the next-level superstar.
He can sing and rap and act, and he’s smooth, and one thing I’ve always been impressed with is that he’s kinda pegged as the “emotional rapper.” A lot of his critics label him as too soft, but he’s able to have a verse or the hook on DJ Khaled songs and hold it down next to Rick Ross and Lil’ Wayne, and I’ve always thought that was cool, that he could step into that role and go next to heavyweight-hard rappers and not seem out of place.
But yeah, I haven’t heard the whole record yet. I did like the last one. I thought it was mellow, and yeah, he’s definitely carving out his own sound right now.
OKS: Definitely. I imagine it would probably be really difficult to translate into a Girl Talk mashup.
Gillis: Yeah, I haven’t tried anything off it yet, but is the single “Headlines” on it?
Gillis: That song, that’s a weird one. I like the song, that’s one I hear and it’s like, “I can’t believe this was the beat they chose for the single.” It’s minimal, it doesn’t stand out that much, but I applaud them for choosing it. It’s not what I would do; it’s a surprising pick. It’s definitely something where the first time I heard it, I was underwhelmed, but that beat’s totally grown on me. I really enjoy the song right now.
Harkins’ annual loyalty cup and shirt have arrived.
I have a tiny bladder, so I almost never indulge in a drink at the movies. Unlike people who go there to text and talk, I go there to watch, so I hate to leave even for a minute.
But those who prefer a carbonated beverage with their cinema should know that Harkins Theatres’ 2012 loyalty cup and T-shirts are now available. Buy a cup for $4.75 and through Dec. 31, 2012, you can get it refilled for only $1 on each trip to the concession stand.
Hungry? Then plunk down $25 for the T-shirt, which gets you a free medium popcorn each time you visit Harkins Bricktown Cinemas 16, 150 E. Reno.
This year’s design features recognizable characters from blockbuster movies, including those that haven’t even come out yet, like “The Hunger Games.” —Rod Lott
Flick through shots of My Morning Jacket's one-night stand at Brady Theater.
Last night, OKSee packed up in the car and drove to that magical land of great concert venues and enormous QuikTrips to catch My Morning Jacket's two-hour-plus Brady Theater set.
The band played 10 of the 11 tracks on its excellent new album, "Circuital," and touched on highlights from just about every one of its other albums. MMJ ditched "Run Thru"'s slow buildup, cutting right into the gnarled bass riff that's the gut of the song, lap-slid their way through "Strangulation" and completely blew the roof off the place with "Holdin' on to Black Metal."
Check out my photos and the setlist:
"Victory Dance" "Circuital" "It Beats 4 U" "First Light" "I'm Amazed" "At Dawn" "Wonderful" "Outta My System" "You Wanna Freak Out" "Off the Record" "Golden" "Dondante" "Movin' Away" "Smokin' from Shootin'" "Run Thru" (end part) "Strangulation" "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream, Pt. 2" "Gideon" ENCORE BREAK "Wordless Chorus" "The Day Is Coming" "Masterplan" "Holdin' on to Black Metal" "One Big Holiday"
Norman’s scariest shoegazers talk sound textures, using recordings of alien conspiracy theorists, and their awesome debut album.
Don’t be fooled by the phrase “debut full-length.” Norman Goth/shoegaze rockers Depth & Current are veterans of the local music scene.
Front man and principal member Chris Harris runs a recording studio (Hook Echo Sound) and a small record label (Nice People Records), which have put him in touch with bands both near and far. Guitarist Derek Lemke plays in Shitty/Awesome, and I swear I see him every time I go to Opolis. Drummer Scott Twitchell said he’s played in bands since his first teenage punk band as a kid, and judging by the way he talks about songwriting, it’s probably one of the things he thinks about most.
I got to sit and chat with the band after a recent rehearsal at Hook Echo in advance of their upcoming CD release show at Opolis, mostly about the album itself. As you’ll soon find out, they’re very excited to unveil these new songs in public.
OKS: This, your debut record, is a lot more sonically sophisticated than most locally produced stuff. Is there apprehension about recreating it live?
OKS: Not at all?
Twitchell: The live stuff usually just happens. Last week was the first time we’d played a couple of the songs live together. It’s always going to be a little different, but they’re the same songs. It’s interesting how it takes everything on the record — the sounds and the textures are still there — but it takes it all and makes it a little more raw, I guess. It’s a lot more fun that way.
Harris: There being only three of us, we’re using sequence for our live shows so everything’s all timed to the music. We’re able to fly in bits and pieces of sounds from what you’ve heard on the album or maybe even an alternate take of something, and recreate the same kind of soundscape ... to me, it’s the same kind of soundscape, but it’s more intense live.
OKS: Louder, usually?
OKS: So the spoken word stuff’ll be there, too?
Harris: Yeah, you’ll hear that live.
OKS: That’s awesome. One of the things I talked about recently with Brady Smith of Gentle Ghost, they had the spoken-word samples playing too.
Harris: Yeah, they had them going between every song. It was awesome. I think they had them going through a little tiny guitar amplifier on stage. It sounded really cool.
Lemke: They used one of those Boss loop pedals. Just loaded some stuff on there and [makes flipping sound].
Twitchell: That’s a really good, easy way to do it.
OKS: Yeah, Brady said Ryan Lindsey had gotten him and Seth McCarroll listening to these paranormal-investigation podcasts.
Harris: You know what it sounded like? It sounded like these weird, small-town AM radio stations where they go crazy with, like, over-the-top conspiracy stuff. I used to be able to listen to that from my apartment because I had an old PA — it’s actually the PA we use for practice now — and we would record through it. We were getting the levels all wrong, and it started picking up weird radio frequencies and different CVs and stuff, and I would hear some outrageous alien-conspiracy stuff. I probably still have bags and bags of that stuff recorded on it.
OKS: No way.
Harris: It was freaky.
OKS: There’s gotta be a project in there.
Harris: I’ve mined that stuff and used a lot of it. There’s stuff where I’d hit different distortion pedals and make it louder and sound different in some way. I did a lot of that stuff. It first started happening when I lived off of Highway 9, over at Post Oak Apartments. I would hear a lot of CV radio. Then when I moved out to Amber [Okla.] and lived out in the country, I would hit these distortion pedals and hear these crazy preachers and alien-conspiracy theorists and government-conspiracy theorists. It was pretty insane.
OKS: There’s the spoken-word piece that opens the album. Is that mined from one of those old recordings?
Harris: No, that’s an interview that we found that was pretty strange and deranged. We chopped it up, and rearranged some of the words so it would tell a different story from what it was actually telling. And then we decided — instead of using the voice we found in the interview — that we’d take all that chopped-up and rearranged stuff and make a computer say it. It would take some ridiculous reverse-engineering to figure out where it all comes from, but it basically is a story that we heard that we thought sounded cool if you changed the sequence of events.
OKS: That bit primed me — when I listened to the album, I interpreted it this way — for the notion that the narrator of the songs wasn’t necessarily evil or crazy or whatever. It sounds more like it’s society around him.
Harris: Yeah. That’s at the heart of a lot of the themes on the record.
OKS: Talk a little about My Bloody Valentine’s influence on this record. When I listened to “Chkill” and the second song, it was the first band that came to mind.
Harris: It’s a huge influence on us for sure.
Lemke: Pretty much my favorite band.
Harris: Even the other songs that aren’t so blatantly and obviously stealing from that vibe, there’s atmospheric things going on that might be operating in a different context from what My Bloody Valentine would’ve done. It’s where a lot of the textural stuff comes from.
It would be so crazy for people to be able to hear the record where they could turn Derek all the way down, and hear what it sounds like. And then Derek all the way up and hear the textures and soundscapes. It’s like, when you’re listening to the song, they’re not right there on the front of the song. They’re atmospheric. But if you hit “mute,” you would notice it was gone immediately, and it would sound worse. And then as soon as it comes back, it’s like “Oh, yeah, that’s the sound.” A lot of that comes from My Bloody Valentine and their textural pop music.
Twitchell: Derek’s kind of a guitar wizard.
Lemke: I’m a noise wizard.
Twitchell: Yeah, there you go.
Harris: Yeah, he can do that shit with any instrument.
Lemke: I’ll make anything noisy.
OKS: That brings up a point worth discussing. You guys clearly like noise, but you don’t speed up super-fast, which I thought was interesting because a lot of bands attracted to noise are also attracted to speed.
Twitchell: We don’t have any recordings of a whole lot of fast stuff, besides “Calm to the Sea,” but live, we’ve played several different versions of songs twice as fast. The slowest song on our first EP, we’ve played that several times live and it’s--
Harris: Three times as fast.
Twitchell: Yeah, it’s been a complete punk-rock overhaul on the song. And it’s pretty fun, it’s awesome.
Twitchell: The live stuff kinda changes for whatever the event calls for. One of those shows that I’m talking about was the last time we played Norman Music Festival. Instead of doing our crazy, psychedelic light show we try to provide, we just threw up a couple flood lamps, punk-rocked our entire set and got off the stage, to get out of the way for the other bands. If this is something we can really take our time and set up for, we’ll do it to the click and we’ll do it really trippy and we’ll get the entire rig going. That’ll change the style of our set we do.
Harris: But our sweet spot is the mid-tempo rock songs.
Harris: It’s the best way to make room for textures and for things outside of a normal rock song. Seems like the faster you go, the less space you have to wedge sounds into.
OKS: How do you guys feel going from the EP to now? I listened to “Arms” again after I’d listened to the new one, and it struck me pretty obviously as a longer, more cohesive, better-developed album. There was more of everything — it was longer, there were more textures, the atmosphere was larger, y’know?
Harris: We used the gap between “Arms” and ... we spent a long time making goofy pop songs with drum machines, and that spiraled into the idea of a more post-punk, shoegazey sound. From that point, everything was different. We were able to start from right there. It’s bigger and beefier now because what we found was our zone. It was our spot, sonically.
OKS: So do you guys really feel like you’ve hit your stride?
Harris: I think, sonically, yeah. We sound fucking awesome.
You do spend a lot of time, and people get bogged down chasing all these sounds, but we’re at a point where we have a sound that I love, and everything we do now — like if I buy a new pedal at a pawn shop or something — that just adds to the sound. We’re definitely at a place where we’re less likely to toss things out moving forward, and more likely to build on what we’re doing.
Twitchell: Yeah, I think we have a reference point now, for our band and what we can achieve, despite pretty much any obstacle. We don’t have a bass player when we play shows, and that’s pretty amazing in itself. We talked about it the other night: How far does the rabbit hole go for this band? How far can we dig and just go, figuring out new ways to interpret our thoughts.
OKS: That was a thought that occurred to me when I was listening to the record. Sometimes I was like, “Is there a bass in here?” and others I knew, but I also was curious since [Lemke and Harris] both play guitar.
Harris: There’s a lot, both bass synthesizer and bass guitar all over. You gotta have that low end. It sounds awesome. That’s another one of those things that you don’t necessarily think about, but if somebody hit the mute button, it’d just be gone. You’d notice for sure.
OKS: What are your plans for touring on this album?
Harris: Just a little bit. Right now we’re going to do the two shows we have coming up in Norman, and then we’re going to St. Louis and Chicago the two days after our CD-release show. And then when we get back, I’ve got a vacation with my wife for our anniversary, so I’ll be gone for a while. And then we’ll be back in the spring.
By that time, we’ll see what’s happening promotion-wise with the album. I’ve got somebody working on it while I’ll be gone. Hopefully, we’ll come back and it’ll be like, “Oh, hey, while you were outta the country all these awesome bloggers said really sweet things about the album, so let’s go on tour.”
OKS: Are you guys in touch with a bunch of bloggers?
Harris: I do a version of promoting and publicity through Nice People with a mailing list and press releases, stuff like that. I think you can look out with social networking and blow up without [traditional promotion], but I think 99 percent of the bands I know like that had a publicist.
OKS: Or they’re just exceptionally good at doing it themselves.
Harris: Yeah, and that’s fucking hard. I mean, it really is. Having done it for all the releases on the label, even just putting together a press release and sending it out the first time is hard, and then dealing with following up and all that stuff, it’s real, real hard work.
Lemke: It’s a full-time gig.
Harris: And, the reality is that the people who get paid to do it are better than you no matter how good you are at it. Because they’re professionals. Hopefully when I go out of town, I’ll return to some buzz.
Watch Norman Music Festival alumnus The Polyphonic Spree go over the top for the holidays.
The Polyphonic Spree are kind of like a lot like a cult, led by charismatic, robe-wearing front man Tim DeLaughter. This awesome video for “It’s Christmas” sorta feels like you’re at a Christmas Eve service for some religion that holds the first season of “Glee” among its doctrines. Watch:
OKSee wholeheartedly supports just about every endeavor undertaken by Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer yelper Karen O with a certain fervent-ness that’s only reassured by this incredible cover of Led Zeppelin’s mountain-shattering classic, “Immigrant Song.” It’s in support of the now-available soundtrack for the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” assembled by none other than Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor.
Directed by creepy filmmaker David Fincher, the eerie collage of often-unknown, strangely morbid images, fits right in with NIN’s aesthetic, as does Karen O’s forceful moaning. Watch, but not if you hope to concentrate on your work immediately after:
And there stands And There Stand Empires, one of Tulsa’s best new bands.
Bumping around at Norman Music Festival 4, Tulsa rock photographer Jeremy Charles told me not to miss indie-rock dudes And There Stand Empires. In all the buzz and hubbub of about 8 million bands all playing in three days, I completely blanked, which I now regret, having viewed the video below.
The band releases its self-titled album Dec. 16, and you can bet that I’ll be looking for somewhere to purchase it when I return home to Tulsa for Christmas. The video includes snippets of songs and plenty of footage of the band hashing them out in-studio. Jarod Evans and Chad Copelin of Blackwatch Studios both appear to have produced it, but the thing to watch for here is just how many notes (guitar, xylophone, piano) they can squeeze into a single section of music.